My school bag lay at my feet on the grass. I could see movement on the other side of the doors; I assumed people were walking out of their classes so I straightened. A moment later the doors opened and students of various ages spilled out darting in different directions to their next class.
I quickly plucked my bag off the ground and threw it over my shoulder. He would be out any moment and I was determined not to let him avoid me this time. He had done an excellent job so far today but I was going to get him to hear me out. I'd give him an earful that much was for sure. He can't avoid me forever.
I knew being a protector was never an easy job but this time he was making it much harder than it was supposed to be. He didn't like to report in or answers my texts or calls when I wanted to know how he was doing. He was terribly proud and didn't think he needed me. Lucky for him, he didn't know the half of it.
I scanned the crowd clutching my locket. I could feel it silently humming as it knew he was near. I flipped it open quickly to make sure it wasn't playing tricks on me. My locket opened to reveal the two in one compass and watch. The hands on the clock paced along steadily just as the compass needle swung around in circles madly until pointing directly in front of me. I looked up.
Daniel walked out of the building with his friend Ricky. They bid each other good bye and Daniel made his way to the path that led to the soccer field. My heart quickened, this was my chance. I shut my locket and tore after him. As I neared, he saw me coming and rolled his eyes. He walked faster trying to out walk me.
"I know what you're going to say," he said flatly continuing down to the soccer field.
"Good," I snapped. "Because I hate repeating myself!" I nearly had to run to keep up with him.
"I don't need you watching over me," he told me. "Just got home and wait for me there."
"You know that I can't do that. I'm staying, I'll be in the library and I'll be back ten minutes before practice ends. If you leave I'll know," I said slowing down to let him walk off. He said nothing else and I watched him arrive at the field with the rest of his teammates.
Watching him in his element made all the difference in the world. Daniel smiled and laughed and greeted the others with ease. He passed around the soccer ball kicking it back and forth with his buddies. He moved fluidly from so much training he had over the years.
Daniel was athletically built, toned and tall with short brown hair and deep pensive, intense brown eyes. He had a low voice as if he were angry and sarcastic all the time but I think he just talked to me that way, he was more upbeat with others. Many girls in his classes liked him so I guess you could consider him attractive. Attraction is relative especially with time periods so I just assumed Daniel was always attractive; he always could get a female's attention.
A whistle blew making me jump. The coach walked onto the field making them all gather for instructions only to have them scatter once more as the old man barked out orders for the warm up drills. Daniel moved and quickly got to his spot. He looked around and soon our eyes made contact. He raised his head at me. I wasn't sure if he was trying to tell me to leave or playing it cool. I offered him a smile before turning and heading back up to the school.
It was terrible trying to concentrate on reading; it went in through one ear and out the other. About half an hour in trying to comprehend what I just read, I gave up, tossed my book back into my bag and headed down to the soccer field once more. Daniel would not be pleased seeing me back so early.
The campus looked much emptier now as it progressed into the evening. Some were having dinner while others took a whole table to themselves studying for exams or reading. College campuses have changed drastically, more variety in the student body and courses. It was refreshing and extremely weird at the same time.
Off in the distance the sun was setting in the west. The temperature had dropped about ten degrees making me hug myself as I walked. As I neared the field once more, I could see a small audience had gathered to watch the practice game. Girls sat on the bleachers happily cheering on individual players. I stood near the area where the guys had dropped off their duffel bags and back packs.
Daniel was in control of the ball. He wore a red jersey to differentiate himself from the others. An opponent player was right on his tail trying to take possession of the ball. He yanked at Daniel's jersey but he tore out of his grip and kicked it to another teammate with a jersey. The one after Daniel slowed down.
Daniel was a fantastic soccer player from what I could tell. He would shoot one or two goals in a practice game and usually made at least one goal in an actual game. He also gained a lot of popularity on campus which didn't surprise me. Daniel moved around trying to make himself available in order to score. The other players were fumbling around trying to get it nearer the goal post.
The ball went soaring back to Daniel's side of the field. His teammate tried to block him but Daniel over powered him with ease jumping high into the air and making a spectacular head shot. The goal keeper dived to no avail. The ball flawlessly flew past him hitting the net.
The whistle blew to indicate the game was over and the jersey team had won, two to one. Daniel jumped in the air victoriously punching the air before getting patted on the back by other guys in jerseys. He saw me looking and I smiled kindly, proud of his accomplishment. His lips twitched as if he were about to smile but his pal clapped him on the back breaking our eye contact.
They huddled together with the coach receiving last minute instructions. The girls shifted anxiously in the bleachers waiting for the guys to pay attention to them. I sighed rolling my eyes. The guys finally scattered some taking to the girls and others who were more in a hurry headed for their things. Daniel was one of the last few people on the field and made his way over to his school bag.
"I told you to go home," he muttered shouldering his bag.
"I go where you go," I said.
"Look," Daniel said stepping forward so our conversation wasn't over heard. "The guys want to meet up at Ryo's after we shower. I'll drop you off at home. I'll answer all you stupid little texts every hour on the hour if you let me go alone."
"I can't do that," I insisted turning. I followed the trail along with the people to the front of the dark campus. Daniel followed unhappily.
"Nothing's going to happen to me," he insisted. "I'll be fine. I'll be out in public; whoever's out there won't be dumb enough to attack with so many witnesses. Come on, Luce." We hurried across the parking lot to his silver Nissan.
"I've told you already, I'm not taking any chances with you this time," I told him. Daniel popped open the trunk and put his things in the back. I did the same. He shut the back and we got in his car. "What would you do if a Snatcher caught you? I'm the only one with a Time Key here, have you forgotten? You jump into a time warp straight into the Corridor and you can kiss now goodbye. Stop being so stubborn, Daniel." I buckled myself in.
"That's another thing," he shot back truly annoyed starting the car. "Why do you use my full name? No one calls me by my full name."
"It's a sign of respect!"
I heard him retort something back under his breath but I didn't bother to ask him to repeat it. We took off back home. Daniel wasn't always so difficult. He and I were usually on good terms. My main reason for living was to protect him. He knows it, of course he knows it but things are different this time.
He drove through Echo Valley to the other side of town where we resided. Echo Valley was average in terms of size and population. It had it all which was basically a bit of everything: a university, a mall, a large school district, shops and stores, parks, restaurants, you name it. It even had a decent sized theme park near the interstate. It took us about twenty minutes to reach our neighborhood.
Daniel and I lived on Old Fates Avenue in the older part of town. The houses stood tall and proud brightly lit with the inhabitants inside. The lawns looked wet with mildew reflecting the light. Daniel drove slow to the end of the road and parked in his driveway. We got out of the car.
"Are you going to go meet up with your friends or not?" I asked as he opened the trunk. I hauled out my things and shouldered it. I looked up at him. He stared down at me unsurely then blinked gathering his thoughts back together.
"Or not," Daniel told me. He grabbed his things, slammed the trunk and tore off to his house. I watched him cross his lawn and slam his door on his way in making the wind chimes chime angrily. Then it fell silent.
I sighed heavily and turned to my own house next to his. I could never do anything right these days to please him. I longed for the day when we weren't enemies on the same team any more. Things had been okay when we first met, we had even become friends and then things sort of fell apart.
*Credit for cover goes to my friend Nicole Omernick. She's super awesome and talented. She majors in animation and art so if you would like to contact her PM and I will give you her contact info.