(Author's note: long chapter! Sorry! Anyway… I actually don't have much to say about this chapter, which probably surprises me more than anyone else. Um, without further ado, enjoy! ~not Ross)
And we would have stayed there a lot longer, too, had a voice not interrupted our heaven. "Do you guys need the back seat?" It sounded vaguely familiar.
I didn't want to leave this, ever. But Lucas turned his head to see who had spoken. "Harrison?" he exclaimed, sounding rather surprised. "You're awake?"
"No thanks to you."
Lucas started to pull away from me, but I clamped my lips back onto his. I didn't care what this dumb cop thought – but Lucas couldn't leave me just in the middle of this, just when everything felt so perfect. It took another few minutes to unglue our hands and disentangle our limbs, and Harrison just sat their coughing awkwardly every few seconds.
"So why are we out here, anyway?" Harrison asked, stretching and trying to look just as bored as possible. As one who had often striven for the same appearance, I decided he was doing a pretty poor job. "Besides having a little private time, that is."
"That," Lucas explained tersely, "was completely spontaneous. And certainly none of your business. We're out here because your buddies like playing cops and robbers. You…" He pondered for a moment. "You're out here because we need to know a few things."
"And you expect to learn them from me?"
"Drop the cop act. The only thing that makes you a cop out here is your clothes, and I have an advantage. Three of them."
"You're wearing a uniform, too, you know," Harrison pointed out.
"I know. And does that make me a cop? No."
"And what are these three advantages you mentioned, huh?"
Lucas reached behind him and untucked something from his belt. I had noticed it, but as you know if you have any sort of experience in the matter, brains sort of turn off when kissing anyone. I had no clue what it was, and I certainly didn't care. But here, now, as the sun glinted off the trigger like it was a pot dangling in a front window, I cared. "Lucas!" I gasped. "Is that a gun?"
"Yep." He slid his eyes across it slowly. "I have no idea what kind, but I'm sure Harrison could tell us. It came from his belt, after all."
Harrison fingered his empty gun holster in horror. "Okay," he said shakily, "what are the other two advantages?"
"Well," Lucas admitted slowly, "the second one is in the glovebox of my car and looks a lot like this one here. It's from the uniform I'm wearing. And the third one is standing behind me with her brown hair sticking out of her braid like after she's woken up, when she's the cutest. There's more underneath that brown hair than you can even begin to imagine." He lowered his voice to a sinister growl. "So what do you say we lay our proverbial cards on the table?"
Blood rushed into my cheeks. Not flattered blood, though. Angry blood. Just because of the past hour, I was a toy truck he could list the features of? Just because of the past hour, I was a cute puppy that he could brag about to all his jealous friends? I was an asset like a rich uncle from Alabama or a stolen firearm? He could boast about me like he would a high SAT score? I spun him around to face me. "Lucas, my dearest," I spat, "may I have a few words with you?"
"Trouble in paradise?" Harrison predicted.
"Shut up!" I ordered so fiercely that he actually did so. I dragged Lucas around to the other side of a tree. "I am not a doll that cries and wets itself."
"I never really played with dolls…"
I know most girls would have just slapped him and stalked away to let him figure out for himself what he was doing wrong, which he never would because guys are so very dense. But I decided to spell it out for him, just for the heck of it. "I'm not just another advantage on your high-and-mighty list – which I'll get to in a minute. You can't list my brain off with your guns. I'm not yours! I'm not a reference dictionary you can just carry around with you and make out with when you feel like it! Do you get it?"
"I guess. Sorry. I didn't mean it like that."
For some reason, I believed him. "Second, you will not go flaunting your opinions of how I look when I wake up all over the neighborhood! Or our relationship – such as it is – for that matter."
"I'm not promising anything on that one," he admitted. "No matter what, I am still a guy."
"Let's hope so. Or things could get awkward." It was a joke, but I didn't dare crack a smile. He pecked my nose gently, but I didn't move or even change expressions. "And lastly, just who do you think you are?"
"What do you mean?"
"I mean that you're bullying him just like you did me! You're being this big tough guy out there, threatening that cop with his own gun and trying to sound all scary and-"
"And it isn't you! You're the kid that just used a Manafest song to get my spirits up – something no one else would know how to do. You're nice and you're understanding and smart – some to most of the time – and you care about people! But now-"
"But I wasn't, remember? You just said so! I'm bullying him like I bullied you. I have to get information out of this guy, or else our whole trip has been pointless. The only way I can do that is by being how I used to be."
"Because the males I know aren't like you, Jil! They don't respond to sharp battles of intelligence, they respond to dominance. Trust me on this one."
"Fine. But you'd better convince me it's really just an act as soon as possible, got it?" I crossed my arms apathetically. "I'm going to try to get some sleep, so count me out of your advantages stockpile."
I caught a glimpse of his worried face before I spun around and stalked back towards the car. I didn't want him thinking that he could suddenly revert back to his New Age crudeness simply because he felt that he'd impressed me enough to win my heart. Surely he'd know it would take just this much misbehavior before I never spoke to him again. "My mom keeps a blanket in the trunk," he informed me forlornly.
"Yeah, because we all know how Boston is known for its freezing summers," I snapped.
"To lie on top of," he groaned. "To get away from the bugs. Genius."
"I wouldn't be talking!" I yelled, rummaging past a forgotten grocery bag of sodas to find the blanket. I spread it out and parked myself on the ground on the other side of the car so that I could hear their conversation, but they couldn't see me. Lucas' feet paced in front of Harrison's patiently still ones.
"I apologize for the delay," Lucas said coldly.
"Hey, I get it, man," Harrison acknowledged. "Women are temperamental."
I clenched my fists.
"Sir, I most certainly didn't come all the way out here to discuss women with you."
"Oh? Then what did you come all the way out here to discuss?" Harrison's feet shifted.
"How long have you been on the Boston police force?" I rolled my eyes. Great, now he was trying to be Mr. Encyclopedia Brown. Next he'd start dancing ballet.
"I dunno… 'bout four months, I guess. Give or take, I dunno, I don't put tally marks on the wall."
"So you're a rookie?" I could hear the disappointment lurking in Lucas' voice. Obviously, we had both been wishing for someone who actually knew what he was doing and what was going on.
"Yeah. And this is what I get for forcing them to let me come along on that stupid stakeout!" Actually, he used a word about seven times worse than the word "stupid," but I would prefer to keep my reputation intact by not repeating it.
Lucas didn't even skip a beat. No doubt having uttered language like that many a time himself, it probably didn't bother him at all. "So you don't get told very much around the office, I'm assuming."
"I may as well be a binder clip for all they tell me," Harrison muttered.
Lucas groaned. "Okay, well, how much do you know about this city-wide stakeout?"
"Plenty. The only reason they're doing it is because of me."
I shot back into a sitting position and peered through the car windows to watch the discussion play out. Harrison had a self-satisfied smirk propping up his lips, quite happy with Lucas' reaction, his bulging eyes. "What do you mean?" Lucas asked.
Harrison looked like he was thinking about withholding information, so Lucas made a production of absently pulling his gun back out of his belt and tracing the edges of it. "I was patrolling the mall last week – the worst job you can get – when this old man shuffled up to me and asked me to direct him to the Fifth Street subway station."
My chest imploded. I had a bad feeling about where this story was headed. Lucas nodded, and Harrison continued, "I told him that all the subways were closed and have been for about seventy-five years. He insisted that he had to find it because he lived in the tunnel. So I asked why he had to go back so soon, and he said that he had to get to a planning meeting for a vandalism mission and that he was late. Things progressed from there, all the way up to last night."
No, no, this couldn't be happening. I leapt up and dashed around the back side of the car, ending up about as close to Harrison's twitching nose as I could be without causing any problems. "What did the old man look like?" I demanded.
"Jil, I thought you were trying to sleep," Lucas protested, laying a gentle hand on my shoulder.
I ignored it. "Are you kidding? Your excessively loud voice is hardly conducive to a peaceful nap."
"I'm sorry," Harrison cut in, "but I don't believe we've been properly introduced yet."
"I'm Jil, you're Harrison," I listed quickly. "But it's not your job to know who I am, it's your job to answer my question: what did the old man look like?"
Harrison leaned absentmindedly against the back door of the car, pondering. "Hm… let's see… He was pretty short." No. "With no hair and a really long white beard." No.
No. "Did he speak really articulately? Precisely, I mean?"
"How should I know? Maybe, I guess. Why?"
No. I bit the inside of my cheek and swallowed hard. Because I knew what it meant and I knew all the implications behind it. I'd read more newspaper articles on it than anything else (aside from stupid presidential affairs).
"Jil, is it just me, or is your face about six shades whiter?" Lucas asked, giving me a very concerned look. I thought his worry was actually a little bit cute, not just annoying anymore.
"You'd know better than anyone," Harrison muttered with a smirk.
"Shut up!" Lucas ordered.
I gripped his wrist. I hated it, but I trusted him now – fully. Completely. "It's Shannon," I mumbled.
"Mr. Shannon? Why would he do anything so dumb?"
"Because he's dumb!" I exclaimed. "I mean, no, that's not what I meant. He's old. His mind is going. Quickly. He's been forgetting stuff, and now he's doing dumb things!" And I should have seen it sooner.
Lucas looked genuinely concerned for both me and my employer. "Okay. Okay, can we talk later?"
"Yeah. Sure. Fine. Whatever." I shuffled back to the blanket and knelt down on it. Why hadn't I thought to bring my iPod? Because all I wanted to do was lie down on this blanket that smelled like Lucas and like chemical perfumes – mostly the latter – close my eyes, and blast Manafest through my ears so loudly that I'd never be able to hear anything again. Just like I did whenever I couldn't handle something. But no, why should I have stuck my music in my back pocket for a quick little mission that was supposed to take about ninety minutes total? Why bother?
Mental note: bring iPod wherever you go if you ever do make it back to the tunnels alive.