AN: This is a story I began a long time ago that I recently rediscovered. It's also my first time I've ever posted something on this website so, please be kind and let me know what you think. I'd appreciate feedback and reviews! Let me know if you have any questions or if anything is unclear. Most importantly, I hope you enjoy this first chapter!
"You worry too much. We'll be fine. I'll be fine."
My dad tends to fret. A lot. It's in his nature, in his line of work to check details and to be cautious of everything. It rubs off on me sometimes.
Which is how I got to be here, away from my oblivious (safe) group, surrounded by three men that want something from me and it doesn't look like a good time.
I gulp and take a deep breath. I am so not going down without a fight.
"You got everything?" My dad asks, leaning against the door frame of my bedroom.
I don't look up from my suitcase, staring hard at it partly hoping that something would jump up and jog my memory as I reply, "I think so."
"Good, good." He's distracted and comes to sit on my bed. I go back to repacking for the eighteenth time, my back facing him. I wait for him to bring whatever is bothering him up because I know it's just a matter of time.
Half way through the repack he speaks up like I knew he would, "You know, I still don't think this is a good idea."
I'm sighing before he's finished. We've had this conversation before. Many, many times.
"Dad." I get up and move to sit next to him, "you worry too much. I'm going with a group of students and teachers. It's like a glorified field trip that lasts for two weeks and happens to be in another country." I pat his knee when he makes a stubborn noise, "Besides, I'm not the only one leaving, remember?"
Begrudged, he nods, "Still."
"Dad, please don't do this. Don't make me mad at you right before I leave." I nearly groan out, "I'm a big girl who can take care of herself. You know that." I'm so sick of this discussion that we've been having for the past year since I signed up for the trip.
He bumps my shoulder. His way of apologizing without saying so, "I know. And I know that you and my coworkers kids have some pact to look out for each other but still it's dangerous…"
"Unless there is something you're not telling me, Italy is not an off-limits vacation spot for government workers. Besides, if Patrick and Sonny and the gang are off doing their thing in Europe, why can't I?" Something flickers in his eyes as he looks away from me, a frown setting grimly on his lips. I bump his shoulder lightly with a barely there smile, "Besides, nothing can happen. I'll be under the watchful eyes of ten adults that are teachers or parents and thirty of my schoolmates. The teachers drilled into our heads the fact that we were to go no way without one of them. I'll be fine."
The moment I think I've won and can focus on more important matters like if I really needed six pairs of shoes of if three would do…
But no. Of course it's not that easy. I moved to stand before he stopped me with a hand on my shoulder. I realized it wasn't over yet much to my dismay.
"I know that, sweetie, but that's not what I'm worried about." He's never been extremely strict and lately when we fight over this, his tone has been wavering and lacking the usual authority I know he's capable of using on me.
His hand fell away as I flopped back, laying down in annoyance. "Then what? What are you so worried about that you can't let me have my fun?" I would be lying if I said I wasn't whining.
He leaned over me and took the arm I draped over my eyes to make me look at him. I settle for a horribly disguised glare. "I'm worried about your ability. Like you just said, you'll be in close quarters with people watching you all the time. That's a lot of pressure to be under not to slip up."
I shot up, anger making my face hot and red. "You don't want me to go because I'm a freak! Please tell me you're kidding! Please! Don't sit there and treat me like a child when we both know I've had it all under control since I was twelve. I've never given you a reason to doubt me so don't you dare use that as your excuse."
I watched him flinch as what I said hit too close to the truth. It made me sick to be in the same room as him in that moment.
He tried to say something else- probably tried to make amends- but I hold up a hand to stop him, taking a deep breath because can't do this right now. He closed his mouth, a sign he knows he did something wrong.
"I need some air." I told him quietly as I grabbed my sweatshirt and walked right past him without waiting to hear him say anything else.
I'm a freak. My dad doesn't want me going to Italy because I'm a freak. A freak who when I touch someone, I know what they're thinking, I can even get some of their memories maybe even a glimpse of their future. It's not fun and I when finally figured out how to turn it off I nearly cried. How to touch without worrying! People take that for granted.
My dad knows, of course he knows, and so do a few (very few) people from the Agency. I sometimes work there, sometimes help.
Which is probably why he doesn't want me to slip up. Because it'll be compromising and messy. Jesus, I wish I was normal.
When I go back, my dad's already in bed. He gets up early since he's got a long commute to go to work.
He leaves without saying anything that next morning and I don't get up to wish him a great day.
We're too similar and stubborn for that.
Two days later we're loading the bus, saying goodbye, ready to go.
My dad is with me. We haven't really talked much because he works and I've been busy getting into contact with the four other Agency kids who are abroad. We look out for each other, just like our parents do on the field or in the office. It's in our blood, I suppose.
And our parents said that if we didn't keep up with the each other daily we'd be brought home immediately. Something about wanting us to be "safe" and blah, blah, blah.
So, Patrick, Sonny, Sean, Izzy and I set up a phone tree. At eight o'clock, Patrick, the oldest calls me, then I call Sonny, who calls Sean, who rings Izzy who's supposed to call her dad (because she's the youngest and he's the highest rank out of our parents, though I don't know what his actual title is) to tell him we're all still in one piece.
Our parents are as close as we are. I'm pretty sure that's what they were going for when they made us all play together while we were babies. Separately, we each brought up trips to our parents, begging to go abroad. Within the next three weeks, schedules were formed and detailed itineraries were drawn up and emergency numbers were drilled into our heads. The kids came up with the phone tree and the adults added in a need to hear from us daily. Really, this has been a long time coming.
Everything should work. I haven't heard from any bad from them since they left for their trips within the last week or so, so I'm not worried.
I really can't wait to talk to Sonny and Patrick, hell I may even call up the squirts to see how they are.
The bubble of excitement that I've manage to push down makes its way up to my throat so I can barely form words. I'm practically bouncing on the balls of my feet.
"Alright," Ms. Shirley (our group leader and a biology teacher, never had her but I hear she's devilish, in a good way) calls our attention, "time to say goodbye and get on the bus." She doesn't sound all that heartbroken, about saying goodbye and everything, more like she's trying not to sing as she speaks.
All around me group hugs and tears. Wow, we'll be gone two weeks, that's it. Why's everyone getting so worked up?
I turn to my dad, he's not looking at me but at the groups around us, "so, I'll call you later I guess, but I bet Mr. Michaels-" Izzy's dad, "will let you know how we are. And if anything happens, the chaperones will call and blah, blah." I quirk a smile, trying to lighten our mood.
He sends a pathetic one back, "yeah kiddo, I know." He reaches up and ruffles my hair, which is just a few shades brighter than his gray speckled brown, but mine's splattered with few hints of red.
"Hey!" I swat his hand away and the mess he made. Stick out my tongue for good measures.
"Comere," he pulls me into a hug and says into my hair, "you didn't pack anything with the emblem on it right? And no calling me at the office."
I nod my head and roll my eyes, "I didn't and I know."
"Good," he pulls away, "have fun."
I grin, "Oh, I will."
"Hey, not too much fun." He gives me a stern look but I'm already backing away.
"Bye dad, see you in two weeks!" I turn and make a dash for the line to get on the bus. I blow a kiss and wave before I'm out of his sight.
On the bus, I take a seat towards the front and watch as more mothers start to cry and fathers have to comfort them. Some of the friends and family members wave at us. A few wave back from inside but I doubt the ones outside can see it through the tinted windows. I don't bother to wave because it's just my dad out there who isn't even a part of the crowd anymore as he stepped aside to take a phone call.
It doesn't bother me much but I turn away and put my back against the glass. Callie, a tiny blonde girl from my grade, plops down in the seat beside me. Her eyes are red.
"First time away from home?" I probe gently, nudging her with my elbow.
She's looking straight ahead, avoiding the window, and runs a stubborn arm across her face before quietly saying, "that obvious?"
"Ha, yeah." She makes a face. I laugh. She laughs. "It's okay, the first day is always the worst. It gets better, I swear."
"Really?" She asks with a watery undertone. The bus starts to pull away at the word from Shirley. I look back and my dad's gone. Work, I guess.
I pat her knee, "Really."
She lets out a long breath, "Good, 'cause I don't want to spend the whole trip homesick."
"You won't. We'll be too busy to miss anything."
"Hey, so," Maggie, my friend who's a year above me and Callie, stuck her head through the seats, "how long until we're there?"
"The airport or Italy?" I ask.
"Italy." Maggie replies at the same time Terry, her best friend and at the moment seatmate answers, "the airport," while sticking her head around Callie's seat. They look at each other, leaning back, before saying with a nod to one another, "both."
Callie and I end up laughing which makes them laugh. Once Callie regains her breathing, swiping a laugh-fueled tear off her cheek, "Um, I think the bus is two hours, airport is a freaking long time and the plane, well that's eight hours itself."
"Really?" Maggie lets out after a good pause. "I just wanna be there. I hate prolonged time in a moving anything."
"That sucks, maybe leaving the country isn't for you." I smile cheekily.
"Shut up, like it's for you either." She says smugly.
I lean back in my seat and shrug, "I don't know about that, I've always been good with long car rides."
Callie hits my arm, "I hate you. I suck sitting in one place for too long."
"I think we all hate you." Maggie says easily. "Remember that lock down we had during gym? Three hours just sitting in the gymnasium without anything except whatever was in our book bags. I was literally dying."
"I remember that day, the false-alarm lock-in." Chimed Callie. "God, I was stuck in stupid math. I hated that."
"And you," Terry cuts in, pointing at me, accusingly, "were perfectly fine. You sat there in your little corner, listening to your iPod, reading your book. At complete ease."
Maggie takes over again, "I wanted to strangle you. No offense." Smiles. I fake a grimace.
"Actually, I think everyone did. Even me."
I gasp, "Say it ain't so! Oh, holy Terry wanted to hurt someone? What impure thoughts! How do you live with yourself?"
In a true high schooler fashion, Terry sticks her tongue out but otherwise didn't respond.
"Are you serious?" Callie begins, eyes wide turning to me, "did you even fidget? How can you not fidget for three hours?"
I shrug, "It was a good book." Like that explained it all.
For the next hour I listened to Maggie and Terry tell Callie all the horror stories from gym and Callie reply with horror stories from middle school. All revolving around me. Great. Slowly they drift off topic after each story. Slowly, we're getting closer to Italy.
Man, this is going to be a long trip.
AN: Thanks for reading:)