Maya took a deep breath, and opened the door to General Strom’s office. He asked for her to come in when she was done training, which was normal, but why he didn’t tell her what he wanted to talk about was putting her nerves on edge. She opened it, and walked into the orderly office room and sat in front of his desk. He glanced up from his paperwork, and while still writing he said:
“I’m glad you could make it. How long has your unit been undercover in that high school?”
Puzzled by his question she said, “I don’t know actually. Quite a few months…” she let her voice trail off, already knowing he knew the exact length of time they’ve been in there.
“For the more experienced agents, it’s coming close to two years. I know they’re ready to leave, but the job needs to be finished.”
She waited for him to continue, but after a minute of silence she said, “Okay, so where is this going, General?”
“I’m starting to fear their only way out of this is with your help. Now, I know how you feel about these situations, but with your,” he paused and stopped writing, putting his pen down and looked right at Maya then continued, “sensitivity to demons, especially those of the incubus and succubus kind,I may need you to go in.”
Stunned, Maya just looked at him. How could he suggest that? He knew better than anyone how uncomfortable it made her feel to have to that. To have to go back and feel that painful memory slide it’s way into her brain.
He waited, but after a minute of her silence, Strom continued, “I’ve always encouraged my agents to face their fears and their pasts; to rise above what hurt them most. I wouldn’t have put Otto with Tai’mel if I didn’t want everyone to do just that. And, believe it or not, you’re no exception.”
This time, she looked right at him and said accusingly, “But you know! You were there! You know exactly what happened and how it ended! He took part of me with him!” Maya restrained herself from yelling more. Never did she do this to anybody. Outbursts weren’t usually her normal reaction requests.
“Just take a deep breath, Maya. It doesn’t have to happen now. You can take a few weeks to let the idea sink in.” He stood and walked over to where, she was sitting, “You always knew this happening was a possibility. It’s my last resort, and I need you to do it.” He gently rested his hand on her shoulder.
She couldn’t move; she could barely breath from the stress she felt welling up inside of her from the thought of going in there. The incident may have happened over ten years ago, but the feel, the pain, the memory of it all stayed fresh inside of her mind, almost always replaying. But she had a few weeks. A few weeks to prepare. A few weeks to feel anywhere near ready. Maybe it wasn’t something that was too out of her reach to do.
“Okay.” She said, “I’ll get myself ready.”
* * *
Awkward silence. It hung over Jassie and Cole ever since the movie was over. She sat across from him in the booth of the restaurant they were in. She couldn’t find the words to say. How did Mariah talk her into this? Some great date it turned out to be.
“Your hair looks nice in a bun.” Cole let out all at once.
She smiled, “Uh, thanks.”
His eyes scanned the ceiling, then he said, “Mariah put you up to this, huh?”
“Yeah,” she blankly looked at him, “I actually wasn’t too crazy about this idea.” Then realizing how it must have sounded she quickly added, “Not because of you, it’s just, I don’t really date…people.”
“I hear ya,” he said, slightly smiling, “Well, lets not let this night go to waste.” He looked around again, then said, “So, you’re in the paranormal club right?”
“You really believe in that stuff.”
“Mmm,” she rested her chin in her hand and thought about what to say, “I believe some of it.”
“Like aliens, vampires, werewolves, the usual stuff.”
He chuckled, “There’s nothing ‘usual’ about all that. I must admit though, being a werewolf would be awesome.”
She looked at him and said, “To have a chance at getting fleas and ticks, to attempt and chase your tail cause you can’t help it, and to be able smell things most people don’t want to think about? How,” she paused, then said sarcastically, “awesome, man.”
He laughed then said, “You’re pretty funny.”
In reality, she knew she wasn’t just trying to be funny. Her friend, Ken – who was in fact a werewolf – had all of that happen to him. It didn’t seem like something he enjoyed.
“Ya know,” Cole started, “I honestly agreed to do this because Mariah asked me. I get she’s trying to set us up, and don’t get me wrong, I think you’re very cute and a cool girl, but I only said yes because I wanted to make her happy.”
Jasmine couldn’t believe it. Her reason was almost identical to his. How funny to only do something for the sake of your friend. Without a second thought, she let a laugh roll out of her throat, a real laugh.
“Did I say something funny, Pen?” He asked, real confusion in his voice.
“It’s just that,” she choked out between laughs, “we did this for almost the same exact reason. I didn’t want to disappoint her, and make her think I wasn’t a greatful friend. And you didn’t want to disappoint her either, and make her unhappy.”
“Okay…” He trailed off, seeming a little lost.
“What is it with this girl?” She asked, putting both hands on the table, “People seem to just like her. What is it about her?”
“She’s just one of those people, I suppose.”
Jassie took a breath, and felt herself calm down. She could see why people would stick with Mariah. She was fearless in her own way, strong even. For a girl in high school. Jasmine would’ve been lost without her. And in a way, despite what she was told, she felt herself becoming this girl’s friend. Everyone told her not to get too attached, but it just happened.
“Hey, when did you first know you liked her?” She asked Cole.
“Oh,” Cole looked flustered, then said, “Last year, a few months after I met her. She was just so nice, and fun to be with. And always positive. She’s great.”
“Do you share any of the same interests?”
“We both love music, and we like to read. We’re both reading the Crimson Night Series.”
“Oh, that. She lent me the first book.”
He smiled knowingly, “Not a big fan of teen paranormal romance novels?”
“Not really, believe it or not.”
A waitress came, and put the food they ordered on the table in front of them. She looked at the burger she ordered. Looking at it, she wanted blood instead, but left her extra packet back at Mariah’s house. Sometimes her body could be weird. As a half vampire, she only needed to consume so much food, the rest was dependent on blood. It was like water for her, and sometimes she sure did drink it like water. Ignoring her want for blood, she smiled and said to Cole:
“Let’s dig in.”
* * *
Ulric’s angry walk had gotten him to a bus which took him to headquarters. There went a good four hours out of his Saturday. Now that he was around, there was only one thing for him to do. He walked inside, went through security protocol, and went straight to the infirmary. And there she was, writing on some paper. he coolly walked up to her.
“Hey, Anna,” he said.
“Hello – oh! Ulric!” She frantically looked around, and ran over the door, looking around. “I know you’re not supposed to be here! You’re undercover. Why are you here?”
“Well…I took a bus to see you.”
“Why me? We only met once, months ago. How do you remember my name?”
“How could I forget the name of the girl who took such great care of me. How did you remember my name?” He looked at her with a smile.
She sniffed, “Don’t flatter yourself, my dad talks about you and Jasmine a lot.”
“Good to know,” he said, then the smile fading he said, “Look, I just really need a friend now. I need to blow off some steam.”
Anna smiled some and sat down on a cot, “Well, I can be a friend.”
So, a few minutes into Saturday…who’s counting. Anyway, not sure how many of you remember Tai’mel and Anna, but they’ll be around soon. I think. And those award nominations…soon.