Note: Before you begin, just a reminder: I'm not going to update this too frequently until Confessions is finished, so keep that in mind!

~Jane

Chapter 2: The Agent

June sat bolt upright, breathing hard, covered in cold sweat. For a moment, she was puzzled. What had just happened? No! Ryan! Where was he? The roof, she'd gone off it. He'd shot her, and barely missed.

June let out a groan.

It was four in the morning, and she was in her bed. She'd been dreaming again. With a sigh, the beleaguered teen rolled out of bed, groaning as she hit the floor, and groped around with her foot, searching for her slippers. Her foot came in contact with something furry, which she prodded a bit. The thing let out a disdainful meow.

"Oh! Sorry!" said June to her cat, Tiger, who in turn stared at her balefully. She bent down and stroked him, pacifying him, and then shuffled over to my bathroom and closed the door. Still groggy, she somehow managed to run into both the sink and the trashcan. Cursing silently, she finally, with some difficulty, managed to undress and get herself into the shower.

It was two years after the incident with Ryan Hunt, but she'd still been having dreams – or nightmares – about that fateful day. Every time, it was the same one over and over again, always ending with the sound of a gunshot. And every time, she was afraid to sleep because of it.

Someone knocked on the door, just as she turned off the water.

"June! We're gonna open in five!" came a muffled male voice.

"Okay! I hope you didn't eat all my breakfast, Nathan!" she yelled back, hastily combing her soppy hair and clambering into jeans and a T-shirt.

"I can't promise anything!" called back Nathan, and he fled downstairs. June just smiled, knowing that he really wouldn't do such a thing.

It was two years after June had lost her former life. She remembered somehow managing to get to the car – the one that really belonged to Ryan – and I drove until it almost ran out of gas. By that time, she was in some town somewhere. She'd stopped at a gas station, but then noticed that the boy crossing the street wasn't paying attention. Without thinking, she'd run and tackled him, removing him from the path of a large truck. That was how June had saved Nathan's life, and he'd repaid her by offering a job at his mother's bookshop, and a home in the spare bedroom above. And that was how she'd ended up here, in Lela's Books. And a surprising plus: Lela turned out to be a friend of her Aunt's, and with a bit of coaxing, Mary had agreed to let June stay. Life could be strange like that.

June bounded down the stairs, two at a time. She was greeted by the smell of bacon and eggs from the kitchen on the second floor. Jumping the rest of the way down, she landed neatly on the hardwood floor and turned into the dining room. It was simple but serviceable, with a nice wooden table and three chairs, one for June, one for Nathan, and one for Lela. Hastily, June gulped down the lukewarm meal and the orange juice. Then she made her way down to the first floor, where the musty odor of old books lingered with that of freshly brewed coffee.

"June, there you are!" exclaimed Lela as soon as June poked her head around the corner of a bookshelf. "Here, take that box over there and put in their proper places. They're already priced."

"You didn't wake me up," stated June. "Why?"

Lela shrugged. "You looked so peaceful lying there. It would have been a shame not to let you enjoy your sleep."

Yeah, right, thought June, but she didn't voice it aloud. Instead, she picked up the cardboard box filled with paperbacks and started placing them in the shelves.

"Boo." Nathan poked his head through a gap in the shelf just as June was about to place a copy of Treasure Island in its proper place.

"Hey Nathan."

He smiled. "What's up?"

"You know what's up," replied June. "And I'd appreciate it if you'd give me a hand."

"Sure thing," replied Nathan, taking a stack of books from the box. "Hey, do you have anything planned for this afternoon?"

"Not particularly," replied June. "Why?"

Nathan removed some books from a shelf to make room for other ones before replying, "Me and a couple of friends were going to go skateboarding. We were wondering if you'd like to come?"

"Why not?" June shrugged and then sneezed as a cloud of dust billowed into her face. "I'll be there."

Nathan grinned. "Great."

It was two years after Ryan Hunt had destroyed June's life. But Nathan was a nice kid and June supposed that if Ryan hadn't come along, she would never have met Nathan. After all, every cloud had a silver lining. Besides, the incident was over and she would never see Ryan again.

Right?

– – –

The man who was leafing through the newspaper but really wasn't, glanced up at the store and quickly did a scan of the street around him. It was early. Far too early for his liking. Why was he here anyway? This was a simple task. Why hadn't they sent one of the lower agents instead? He almost got up and went in search of a coffee, but stopped himself. ETA had people everywhere, and it really wasn't his place to question or disobey orders, even if it was only temporary. They wanted him to do something, he would do it. No questions asked, no complaining, no leaving his post.

The man crossed his legs and went to the next page in the paper. There was nothing particularly interesting on it but he forced his eyes to look at the words, never really registering what they meant. He smiled at the last article on the page though. Theft of Valuable Gem Has Police Baffled, declared the headline. A quiet chuckle. Davide had done a good job at covering up his tracks.

With a sigh, the man rolled up the newspaper and crossed the street. He would do a cursory inspection of the building before he returned to his spot on the bench across the street. From there, he would wait until the store opened and he could go and browse freely. He would actually be keeping a lookout for his target, but only he knew that. Rolling up the newspaper and tucking it under his arm, he strode into the alley and noted any ways out. He'd learned to do this the hard way, when he'd once forgotten and his target got away. It'd taken a while to track the target down again, but the next time he didn't make the same mistake.

"Hey!"

The words came from behind the man. He turned around and found himself staring at a man with a knife. A thief, probably.

"Can I help you?" asked the man pleasantly, unfolding his newspaper and ever so discretely reaching into his jacket.

"Yeah, you can," replied the mugger. "Listen, man, hand over the dough and nobody gets hurt, got it?"

"I'm afraid I can't do that," said the man.

"Yeah? That's too bad. But I'm feeling nice so I'll tell you again; hand over the money."

"No can do," said the man. "Now I suggest you get out of my sight before I decide to shoot you."

The mugger's eyes grew wide as the man flashed his gun before hiding it behind the newspaper again.

"Oh, and I must say, I don't miss."

"Y-yeah… uh… L-look, man, I didn't mean you no harm, man. It was just a joke. I-I thought you was someone else," mumbled the mugger, carefully backing away. Suddenly, he wasn't so tough anymore.

"You have until the count of three."

The mugger ran. The man gave him a second before he quietly mumbled, "Three," and fired.

A few unsteady steps. A thud. The mugger was out cold from the tranquilizer dart. He quickly walked over to the unconscious form and pulled out the dart, stowing it safely in his pocket before supporting the mugger and bringing him several blocks to a remote alleyway and depositing him there. Hopefully, the mugger would wake up and not remember what had happened. Even if he did, the man would be gone anyway.

"They should've sent someone else," he murmured as he strolled back to the bench. Then he started leafing through the newspaper again, but he really wasn't.

– – –

The morning went by quickly, and before June knew it, she'd finished sorting all of the books to their proper places. From there, Lela took over while her one employee, a graduate student named Max, was in charge of the small café. June loved he smell, but hated the taste of coffee. Nathan, on the other hand, loved both.

"We're going out!" called Nathan when he'd gotten his skateboard from upstairs.

Lela nodded. "Just don't be out late," she said before ringing a book up for a customer.

"Bye!" cried June and she dashed out after Nathan.

The air was warm and the sun was shining. There was a slight breeze blowing, which cooled June's skin as she strode alongside Nathan. The sidewalk made a pleasant scuffing sound against her shoes, the birds were singing, and all in all, it was a beautiful day. June couldn't be happier.

"Hey Nathan! Sup man?"

A redheaded boy about Nathan's age bounded up.

"Yo, Sam! Where's the rest of the gang?"

"They're down at the park," replied Sam, shouldering his skateboard. "June, it's good to see you again."

"Same," she replied. "Let's roll."

The park was skateboard heaven for many. With tons of railings, stairs, concrete, and walls, it was great for pulling stunts. June positioned herself on a wall as she watched her friends on their skateboards, kicking off and picking up speed before launching themselves into the air, their boards turning in ways she would have otherwise found impossible.

"Nice 360 Flip!" she'd yell when one of them pulled one off. The same went for any other cool flip tricks. All in all, things were going pretty good.

Until June saw him.

He was about five foot four, impossibly blonde, and scanning a newspaper with decided interest. His eyes were hidden behind large, darkly tinted sunglasses, but somehow she got the feeling that he wasn't just scanning the paper. Just the sight of him gave her the creeps.

She glanced at her watch. Half past six. It would be starting to get dark soon. She'd had no idea that the time had passed so quickly.

"Hey Nathan!" She waved and he stopped, bringing the skateboard around so he could look at her.

"Huh?"

"We gotta go soon," she said, pointing at her watch. "Lela's gonna be worried if we drag on too late."

Nathan nodded, but with reluctance. "Right. I'll see you guys around."

"Hey, man, thanks for coming." Shawn, one of the boys, clapped him on the shoulder and then kicked off, jumping and sliding off a railing.

Nathan just smiled and picked up his board, turning to June. "Let's go."

– – –

The man looked up. His target was leaving. Already? And she seemed slightly nervous… Never mind that, thought the man to himself. He folded the paper and tucked it under his arm, scratching his head of blonde hair before removing his sunglasses and walking to a nearby hotdog stand. The vendor there looked up as he approached.

"I'll have a plain hotdog. Nothing on it," said the man. He pulled five dollars out of his pocket.

The vendor nodded. "Coming right up."

Three minutes later, the man, now equipped with a half of a hotdog, was strolling down the street. He'd been hungry so he'd stopped for a bite, but he wasn't stupid enough to lose his target. She was there, a couple dozen feet in front of him. She seemed to have noticed him back at the park, though, as she kept glancing back uneasily. It was easy to duck out of sight. He'd done this many times.

The girl said something to her companion, a dark haired, good-looking boy. They both glanced back. The man simply ducked into the doorway of a building and counted to twenty. That was usually the magic number for these types of people. If they had armed mercenaries, his best bet would be to run and hide in the last place they'd think of looking.

Nineteen… Twenty. The man emerged from his hiding spot and continued following the pair. June Marie Lennings and Nathan Andre. Those were the names in the briefing packet. There was also another one: Lela Andre. Nathan and Lela were blood relatives. June was not, as the man knew all too well…

They rounded a corner, and there was Lela's Books. He'd been here all morning. This would be, hopefully, the last time he would see it.

"Excuse me, miss," he called. "I would like to have a word with you."

June stiffened, and quickened her pace. The man jogged up behind her and took her shoulder gently but firmly.

"Let go!" she cried, wrenching away and turning to face him. Nathan, too, turned.

"What do you want with her?" he demanded, a frown etched on his face.

"I simply wish to talk," said the man. He reached into his coat and withdrew a business card, which he handed to June. She didn't take it. Instead, Nathan did, reading what was printed on the card.

ETA

That was it, besides a phone number and an address.

"My name is Az," said the man. "I am here representing ETA. I cannot say much here, but our organization has taken an interest in you and, you will most likely find, you will find an interest in ETA."

June looked suspiciously at the man. What was he playing at?

"Why do you say that?" she asked. "I've never heard of it."

Az smiled to himself before saying, "We try to operate discreetly."

"Look, sir, if you're trying to sell us something, we're not interested," declared Nathan. "June, let's go."

"Miss Lennings, I think you would be interested to know that we have information about your father," called Az after the two as they started to walk away. June immediately turned stopped dead in her tracks and turned back to look at him.

"H-how do you know my name?" she asked, astonishment clearly written on her face. "And how do you know my father?"

That had done it. He'd gotten her attention. Az simply shrugged. "I cannot reveal anything to you. Not here, at least. However, we'd be delighted to tell you anything you'd like to know at ETA headquarters."

Az looked at the distrust in June's eyes and immediately knew that she wouldn't refuse. After the incident two years ago, she couldn't possibly pass by the opportunity for more information on her mysterious parentage. She would come. It was guaranteed.

"Fine," said June, straightening her shoulders. "What time do you want me there?"

"June, are you–" began Nathan, but she quickly silenced him.

"Two o' clock, tomorrow afternoon," stated Az. "Just tell the woman behind the desk who you are and you'll be let in." He was about to walk away before he seemed to remember something. "Oh, and don't be late," he added, before nodding at the two and then crossing the street.

June stared after him, a dozen different thoughts going through her head. Things had happened so abruptly, and memories from two years ago surfaced.

"What was he talking about?" asked Nathan, frowning at the card in his hand.

"…What do you mean?" June hesitated, trying to decide whether or not to tell him about what had happened. She'd always tried not to talk about it, as she didn't think it was terribly important. After all, it had happened two years ago. It was over. But…

Nathan glanced at the corner Az had disappeared around before looking June in the face.

"June, he knew your name. And he said something about… your father?"

"Look, Nathan, it's not important," said June, taking the card and pocketing it. "My dad died when I was little, and my mom never really got to tell me anything before she died, too. Maybe this guy was a friend of his or something. I'm just going to go there, talk to him, and leave. End of story."

"Are you sure?" asked Nathan, looking uncomfortable. "Somehow, that guy doesn't feel right. For all we know, he could be some pervert who's been stalking you and wants to abduct you. After that, he could do anything to you…"

"I'll bring Mace," she said, setting her jaw firmly. "Or a knife. No matter what you say, you can't talk me out of this, though."

"June…"

Nathan wished he could have said something more, but it was useless. He knew June. She was as stubborn as an ox sometimes, so there was no point to argue further. He'd have to tie her up and lock her in the closet to stop her from going.

"Nathan, let's just go home," said June. Then abruptly, she smiled. "Last one there's a rotten egg!"

"But… Hey, wait for me!" yelled Nathan as she dashed off. He shook his head, a grin suddenly pasted on his face, and ran after her.

ETA could wait for now.