Yup…. Aaron’s still here!
Chapter the next! I’ve forgotten what number I was up too.
It’s been a week, I have bruises all over me, my ribs still kill me, and my leg still has an open dart wound on it… but I’ve never felt stronger.
In fact, I’m back at school tomorrow.
Minus does a quick cosmetic healing job so I don’t look like I just fought Mike Tyson…
“So, I hear you’re juggling active duty and school at the same time.” Minus chuckles. “Are you some kind of idiot?”
“I thought it would be a clever idea, to keep up appearances.”
“You realise that missions can come at any time, Day or night?”
“I realise, which makes school a perfect alibi. ‘Aaron couldn’t have killed that guy, he was at school all day!’ geddit?”
“What’s the real reason?” Minus probes.
“You’re adamant that going to school is a great idea, even though it’s not… why? Is it a girl?”
“No… actually it’s a guy.”
“Oh… okay… we don’t get many gay assassins here.”
“No! I mean, I got my ass beaten by this guy, and I wanna go stand up to him.”
“Oh! Okay, that one I’ve heard before.” He laughs. “Well I just have a few more bruises to treat and you can go fight all the assholes you want, as long as you protect the ribs.”
Minus finishes treating me, and I hit the streets, hunting Tank. I need to beat him, to prove to everyone that you can’t knock me down for long.
It’s not really about him though; it’s not even about everyone else. I need to do this for me, to prove to myself that I’m stronger than the orphan who couldn’t back up his big mouth…
I am stronger than the boy who moved here.
I call Tim; let him know I’m back. “Hey bud, I know I’ve been gone a few weeks, but I’m back now!”
He replies with, “Not a good time man, Tanks holding Ryan over a pool and threatening to drown him if his sister doesn’t go out with him.”
That’s convenient. “Which pool?”
I run at my top speed, which I never realized was so fast, until I overtook a car… I make it across town in 5-6 minutes and sure enough, there’s Tank, playfully dipping Ryan into the water, Stacey standing to the side, begging him to stop…
“Hey Jason, Leave him alone.” I shout, doing my best impression of a tough guy.
“Or what? you’re gonna keep running into my fist again?” he taunts slowly lowering Ryan into the water.
“Look around Jason… No one thinks you’re cool. They’re not scared of you. They think you’re pathetic. Now let Ryan go.”
“Fine,” he drops Ryan into the water, Stacey dives in and brings him back to the surface.
“What is wrong with you!” I spit at him. “What did that guy ever do to you?” I say as I walk over to the pool and grab Ryan’s arm and pull him out of the water. “This is the nicest guy on the planet! But you torture him, why? Cause he’s smaller than you? What kind of damaged are you?”
“Who are you to talk to me like that!?” he screams as he attempts to intimidate me… but I’m not scared anymore.
“I’m Aaron Curtis, and I’m gonna give you a chance to apologise to my friend…”
“Or what!” he growls.
“I’m going to show you why these people have no reason to be scared of you.” I smile at him.
“Cody’s right, you are annoying. I’ll wipe that little defiant smirk off your face!”
“Defiant… that’s a big word; I’m surprised you know what it means.”
He grabs me by the collar of my shirt and tries to intimidate me. “Let’s see how tough you are without any teeth!”
He swings his ham-sized fist at me, and I duck it and hit him with an uppercut, sending his teeth flying.
“I’m not the one who has to worry about his teeth.”
I hear a collective ‘Oooohh’ from the crowd.
He gets up and starts swinging at me. I dodge them all… “How many hits did it take for you to knock me down, Jason? 6-7? Well you can forever tell everyone how many took for me to take you down…” I throw a right hook at him and send his ass to the floor. “It was 2!” I face his head towards the pool, and place my foot on his chest. “Now listen here, toothless! My friends are under my protection. So, I want you to remember this feeling, I want you to remember that it took me 2 hits to knock you down… So, if you ever come after me, or any of my friends again, you’ll be wishing for a few missing teeth. Are we clear?” He nods. “Use your words, Jason.”
“Yes, I understand.” He says, meekly.
“Great!” and just to rub salt in the wound, I kick him into the pool.
“When did Aaron become a certifiable badass?” Ryan asks Tim who’s suddenly found some kind of backbone.
“I’m just glad he stepped in, I was about to… and I wouldn’t have been so nice.”
Tank swims to the surface… “Can someone call an ambulance?” he says weakly.
“Sure!” Ryan chirps. He lifts his hands to his mouth and softly shouts “Ambulance!” waits for a moment then shrugs and says, “I guess they didn’t hear me! Whatareyagonnado?”
I walk away; as I leave Cody is standing there waiting for me.
“Well, look who’s back.” He smirks. “Nice to see you buddy, these other drones just can’t handle my brand of banter like you can.”
“You best be careful… you might be next.”
“Who do you think you are, Curtis… Batman?”
“No, I’m better than him.”
I push past him and continue walking.
I run back to the Corps to share my achievement with Dwight, instead I find Lennox.
“Hey Lennox, is Dwight here?”
“‘Fraid not, little buddy. He’s out with Minus and North tracking potential recruits. Can I help?”
“It’s nothing important; I just kicked the guy who kicked my ass’ ass!”
“Stop saying ass… and that’s great!” he puts his hand on my shoulder. “You deserve congratulations; I’m treating you to dinner! Do you like Italian?”
“Yes! I love Italian!” I scream.
“Thai food it is!” he laughs and steers me towards the door.
Lennox is actually pretty cool if you can get past how odd he is. He makes a lot of jokes that I don’t understand because I’m not British. He takes me to what he says is his 5th favourite Greek restaurant, on Earth.
The food there is amazing, the flavours mix together perfectly! I’ve only ever had the most basic things.
“So, Lennox, do you have a first name?”
“Charles, or Charlie if you like?”
“I think I’m gonna stick with Lennox…”
“Thank god! I hate Charlie.”
We both laugh, and I’m interrupted by the girl who walks through the door.
“Oh my god!” I blurt.
“What?” Lennox asks looking around and seeing where my eyes are focusing. “Ooh she’s cute, you interested in her?”
“Pfft no! That’s stupid! Why did she look like she’s interested in me?”
“Look, go over, say hi. But when you say her name, get it wrong.”
“Just trust me!”
“No offence Lennox but that sounds like the stupidest thing ever!” I mock.
Just as Chloe walks past and makes direct eye contact with me.
“Oh my god, Aaron! How are you?” She says as she glides over to the table.
“Oh, hey Carrie!” I stutter… Oh stop looking at me like that Lennox! I wish you guys could see this look, it’s infuriating!
“It’s Chloe!” she smiles!
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” I say as I go to put my hand on her shoulder and realising that’s stupid, so I awkwardly wave my arm around… “I’m sorry; I just have trouble remembering names… I’ve met so many new people in the last few weeks…” awkward silence… “So, what brings you to my 5th favourite Greek restaurant on earth?”
She giggles, “It’s my Dad’s birthday, and we’re just having a little dinner. How about you?”
I’m having dinner with the weird British guy who trained me to be an assassin to celebrate beating the snot out of your boyfriend’s best friend!
“This is my tutor! I missed a bit of school while I was recovering from Jason’s attack, so I hired a tutor!”
“Oh cool!” she says, now directing her attention to Lennox, “Hi, I’m Chloe!”
“I’m Charlie, Aaron’s single!”
“That wasn’t random at all” she says awkwardly.
“I’m sorry, he’s a little insane.” I say turning her away from Lennox. “I’m sorry, he has no filter!”
She giggles again, “It’s okay, I have one like that. When I first started going out with Cody, my music teacher acted like I was the first girl in the world ever to date!”
I really wish that my laugh sounded sincere but whenever someone mentions that Douche, I automatically go into sarcasm mode.
I let out a laugh that sounds like I’m saying, ‘that’s not funny you’re an idiot.’
Chloe looks at me slightly confused… “Anyway, I should head to my table! Bye!” she grins and disappears.
I collapse into my chair, and Lennox does a sarcastic impression of my laugh.
I throw a breadstick at his head.
The next day at school, I am like a rock star!
Tim is the first to greet me. “Dude, you’re the most exciting thing to happen to this place since a Dalmatian wandered in to Miss Price’s science class!”
This really is not an exciting town.
“Why is everyone staring at me?”
“I’d say it’s either admiration or fear… maybe 50/50 each way.” Tim says putting his arm around me and informing every person who walks past that we’re friends
“Stop that!” I’m really doing a great job of keeping a low profile. “Just be cool!”
“You be cool! My best friend is a walking powerhouse!”
I gotta admit the attention felt good… I had people I’d never seen before asking me weird questions. Like right now.
“Hey Aaron,” says the blonde girl pushing Tim out of her way… now I don’t know what I expected her to say, but it wasn’t… “I’m Jamie… How many people can you fit in an elevator?”
“Umm… I’ll get back to you on that.”
“Cool!” she replies, before running away giggling.
“That was weird.” Tim says looking as confused as I am.
“That’s not the half of it! I’ve been getting all kinds of random people talking to me, it’s exhausting.”
“And, that’s bad? You’re a star now!”
“Who’s a star?” asks Ally who suddenly appears beside me.
“Aaron!” Tim blurts. “Ally, have you heard the good news?”
Ally looks at Tim, slightly worried. “Is this one of those door to door Mormon things? Cause I hate those!”
“Did you just make a joke?” I ask… “Cause it was good!” I hold my hand up for a high five… Ally awkwardly stares at it for a moment before slowly and nervously tapping my hand with hers. “One day I’ll get you to be comfortable around me.”
“Well as awkward as that was, I have news!” Tim squeaks, demanding our attention. “Tim was a witness to Jason ‘The Tank’ Phillips getting his teeth knocked out yesterday!”
“I heard about that!” she says excitedly. “Apparently some new guy showed up and whooped him.”
“Yeah, some new guy.” Tim snickers.
“I think it’s great and all, but how do we know this new guy isn’t going to be worse than The Tank?”
“I’m pretty sure it’s just ‘Tank’ there’s no, ‘the’… but yeah, this new guy… I wouldn’t worry about him.”
“Why not?” Ally asks worriedly “Our kind and their kind don’t mix.” She says burying her head into her hands. “I should know, I shared a womb with one of their kind.”
“Their kind?” I ask.
“The jocks, the cheerleaders, the bullies… There’s a reason we don’t fit in, Aaron.”
“Now hang on,” I interrupt. “You’re making a generalisation about a guy, who you don’t even have the name of, who happened to show up and defend one of our good friends.”
“He wasn’t defending Ryan! He clearly just latched on to an excuse to hit someone and upset the balance of power.”
Tim is just loving this…
“Should I tell her, or would you like to?” Tim ask, grinning from ear to ear.
“Tell me what?”
“I was the one who beat Jason.”
Ally laughs, stops for a moment, looks at me then at Tim, then back to me… then burst out laughing again. “Yeah, right!” she says continuing to laugh as she walks away.
Tim puts his hand on my shoulder once more. “That girl is an odd duckling.”
The rest of the day is a blur of whispers and pointing. The principle called me into his office about half way through the day. He lectures me on my life choices, using phrases like, ‘Violence doesn’t solve anything’ and ‘Be careful who you’ll turn into’. What he doesn’t know is that I could’ve done so much more than make the guy spit his teeth… but I’d rather avoid that conversation.
Jason deserved that beating, and I deserved to be the one to give it to him… people should get what they deserve. That’s justice.
As I walk out of the office, I hear a faint slow clap… as I walk out the door and down the hall it grows louder and louder.
“Bravo.” It’s Cody, leaning against the wall and looking like a massive ass-hat. “You really deserve the attention, Aaron. It’s all anyone’s talking about.”
“How long were you waiting there?” I chuckle.
“Several minutes, not the point.” He pushes himself off the wall. “You, big guy, are all I’m hearing about today… and I hate it. You attacked my friend and now here you are strutting around like you’re Bruce Lee, while Tank’s lying in a hospital bed.”
“First, there’s no strutting… second, if Jason wasn’t terrorizing my friend, he wouldn’t have been smacked down, and third, I knocked some teeth out and maybe gave him a black-eye, he’ll live.”
“Do you feel strong now, Curtis!” he raises his voice, “Do you think that, now you’re the big man, Chloe’s just going to magically like you?”
“This has nothing to do with Chloe…”
“Really?” he grins. “Well in a second, that bells going to ring, and she’s gonna come out of class. And when she does I’m gonna tell her what happened to Tank, and I’d love for you to be here… unless you’re signing autographs in the cafeteria.”
“The signing’s actually not until 4, so maybe I can squeeze you in.”
The bell chimes and the sea of students burst through the door… Chloe’s the last one out.
“Hey guys!” she cheeps. “What’s up? There looks to be some tension here…”
“Ask Aaron!” Cody growls. “Tank’s in the hospital.”
“Why would Aaron have anything to do with that?” she says, looking towards me, confused and worried.
“I’m the one who put him there.”
They’re both surprised by my confession, Chloe because it seems out of character from the guy she’s met, and Cody because he probably planned to accuse me and make me look bad.
“He was holding a friend of mine under the water and when I asked him to stop, he threatened me.”
The way Chloe looks at me is the most refreshing look of disgust, I just with it wasn’t coming from her.
“Aaron, there are other ways… you can’t just throw your fists around and hope that does it!” Chloe says, still looking at me like I killed her puppy.
“Actually!” says a voice, cutting in to our conversation. “Tank threw the first punch, Aaron just reacted!”
“Hey, butt out, Mark!” Cody screeches.
“I’m just sayin’… If Aaron wasn’t there, the little dude would be the one in hospital!”
“Yeah, we get it Mark! Get outta here!” Cody orders.
Mark leaves, but not before bumping my fist.
“I’m not proud of it, and I hate the attention. But I’m not sorry, Jason was picking on a friend of mine and I evened the odds.”
“You ass.” Cody growls.
“Still glad I stayed, Williams?” I smirk.
“What’s he talking about?” Chloe asks.
“Cody wanted me to stand here while he told you what I did to Jason, presumably to try and damage your perception of me for the foreseeable future… which failed, due to my confession. Which is why he just called me an ass.”
“Are you hearing this?” Cody groans, “What kind of sixteen-year-old talks like this!”
“it’s called education, Cody… it’s what everyone else is doing while you’re looking at your own reflection in the window.” The bystanders that have gathered collectively laugh, including Ally, who’s pushed her way to the front of the pack. “Listen, I know why I bug you… The crowd isn’t on your side anymore, Cody. They’re on mine, and you can’t stand it. But guess what? I don’t give a damn… Now get out of here.”
He stutters and growls, before turning his tail and staggering down the hall full of mockingbirds.
“That was nice, Aaron.” Chloe says, very sarcastically. “Everyone thinks you’re this great guy, even me… until about 2 minutes ago.” She given me a look that cuts into my soul… she runs to catch up to Cody.
“Aaron,” says Ally, appearing from behind me, “You just may be my new hero.”
“Then why don’t I feel good?”
“Need to talk?” she asks.
“How can I, every six seconds someone wants to fight me or five me.”
“Hey, come with me! I know a place where no one ever goes!”
She grabs me by the wrist and leads me too…
“Yeah!” she grins, “People is this town hate books…” she giggles slightly. “For what it’s worth, Aaron, I admire you.”
“Yeah, you stand up. You’re not scared to say what you think… I wish I could do that.”
“Well, why can’t you?”
“You’ve met my brother? Live with that for Fifteen years and see how much self-respect you have… At least if you speak your mind, you know who you are.”
“Trust me, speaking your mind isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.”
And right before I was about to turn into a human, the phone Dwight gave me starts buzzing in my pocket.
- Now. Possible Mission.
“Hey, Ally. I have to go… but can you do me a favour?” She nods. “Can you not tell anyone where I’ve gone, or even that I’ve left at all? If you can do that for me, I promise I’ll explain why I had to leave so fast, okay?” she nods again, and I run at my top speed back to HQ.
What do you think so far?
What do you mean, not enough action?
There was that whole training montage, me punching Jason…. Okay maybe you’re right.
Well stay tuned! I’ve got plenty more story yet to tell…… but I gotta pee.
Okay! I’m back. Bladder empty and mind full!
So, I race to HQ and find Dwight in his office, punching a heavy bag.
“You’re a boxer?” I ask.
“I’m everything.” He smirks. “Mission Dossier is on the desk”
“File” he says rolling his eyes. “What do they teach you in that place?”
“I wouldn’t know. I sleep through classes.” I say, opening the ‘dossier’ folder.
Inside are several pictures of the target, from every possible angle. Short, fat, balding… nothing extraordinary about him or reason why he’s a target… just a few pictures. Also, a name.
Target: Phillip Davis.
Target owns a small auto-parts store on Carden Street.
Business hours 6am – 8pm
Target usually arrives before 5am and leaves after 10pm.
Target is usually at the store every weekday and at his residence every weekend.
Store would be preferable stage for interception
“There’s not much on this guy… why is he our target?”
“Remember your first day? There was a man in my office when you arrived.” I nod. “That’s him.”
“Why is he our target now?”
“He hired us to target his competition, we did. He promised us a payment plan, and he has failed to deliver to us.”
“So, we kill him?”
“No… no one said kill. We want you to threaten him. We know he has the money, we know he’s refusing to pay. What we don’t know is why.”
“He likes money? I’m just guessing, because you know… I like money.”
Dwight chuckles, slightly. “Who doesn’t?” he quickly turns back to his usual hard-ass look. “But when a client holds out on us, we only hold back for so long. So, now I send you. You rough him up, get him to pay, and if he doesn’t I send Gabe after his family, if he still doesn’t pay… well, either way. It’s a problem for him.”
“So, I only have to get him to give me the money, or promise to pay it back?”
“No. he has to give you the full payment, right there and then. We’re past the point of generosity. If he doesn’t, cut off a finger and tell him he has 12 hours to get the money to me, or we focus on his family.”
“Brilliant. I’ll do it tonight, before he leaves his store at 10.”
“Perfect.” Dwight says, leading me towards the door. “Now, go see Lennox, he’ll give you some tools to assist you. Then get back to school, keep your cover.”
I run back to School, right in time for it to be over.
I join the group of cheerleaders, Jocks, Nerds and stoners who emerge from the gates, acting like I’ve been there just as long as they have.
“Hey, Aaron!” says a voice, shocking me into turning quickly.
“No one says you weren’t…” says Stacey, very confused and scared.
“Exactly!” nervous giggle. “So, what’s up?”
“Well, I never really thanked you for helping Ryan out with Tank…”
“It was nothing, I’m sure he’d do the same for me!”
“Really?” she says, with an incredibly sarcastic look on her face.
“Yeah, you’re right… he wouldn’t even be in the same room. But I was happy to help.”
“Well I still want to say thank you…”
“And you did! You’re welcome!” I Say, interrupting her and trying to get home to prep for my mission.
“Well I wanted to do something more! So, when I heard that Chloe was having a movie night tonight, I asked if I could invite you.”
“And when I said that, she mentioned that you admitted to fighting Tank, but never said it was my brother you helped.”
“She, for some reason, admired that. You could’ve played the hero card but instead you acted like you were just embarrassed by the whole situation.” She grins, “Which we all know you weren’t.”
“Well, maybe I enjoyed it a little more than I let on.”
“Who wouldn’t, everyone here has fantasized about knocking Tank down a peg, even, Chloe, apparently. She said you’re more than welcome!”
“Wait, what? She’s okay with me being there?”
“Yeah! We’ll be watching the new James Bond at her house around 7.”
“I don’t know… I don’t think so, I just have a lot to do tonight…”
“Cody won’t be there.” She says interrupting me.
“So, it was 7?” I grin. “Text me the address and I’ll be there!”
I turn and head home, I’m gonna pretend that I’m not ridiculously excited about this.
I have a mission tonight.
And that’s all for this SDAASaturday!
peace out homies.