Disclaimer: See Prologue.
Rating: A, E, R, ALT
Tears and Silence
Surd household/August 30, 1996
Jer had just come in. He looked over to where his sister Caroline sat at the computer, playing VirtuaChess. Much as he loved computers, he couldn't understand what she saw in that bland program. She said it was annoying for him to keep beating her, and refused to play with him anymore.
The phone's shrill ringing broke him out of his reverie.
"Got it." He bounded up and caught the phone in the middle of the second ring. "Hello?"
Caroline turned in her chair and looked at her brother expectantly. She was waiting for a call.
"Hi, Mom!" Jer said. "Yeah…" Suddenly his tone changed. There was an undercurrent of disaster in his voice. Caroline began to worry.
"What happened?" A pause. "What?! Who?" A longer pause. "I swear I'll-" His voice was angry now.
Caroline rose and began to walk slowly to where her little brother stood. She took a surprised step back and her pale eyes widened as he slammed the phone back down on the receiver and covered his face with his hand, leaning on the wall for support.
"Jer- what-" She put her arm around him and tried to look him in the eye.
"Our father's dead." His voice was cold and harsh, yet somehow shaky.
"What?" she exclaimed, taking a surprised step back. "When- how? Who did it?"
"He died last night. In a hospital. Apparently he's been catatonic for days now. Suddenly he just-" Jer squeezed his eyes together to keep the tears from spilling out.
Caroline was in shock. She had known for years- ever since she was born- that her father lived a dangerous life, that he was likely to die at any moment, and that lately especially he'd been bordering on death anyway, with his condition. But she had never expected his death to be like this, so blunt, so surprising, so- unexpected.
She turned to her brother. Only three years separated them. They had always been close, especially with their parents always gone. She knew how he had idolized their father. And who wouldn't? Their father was a genius. He was brave. He was strong. He always overcame adversity- until now. Caroline knew Jer would take his death hard. Especially if his death had been at the hands of Race Bannon, who had been hunting him for years.
Jer walked to the closet and pulled out a duffel bag and his ski parka.
"What are you doing?" asked Caroline.
"What do you think?" He went into his room and began stuffing clothes into the bag. Finished, he went to his bedside table and pulled out his wallet and passport. Tossing them in the bag, he zipped it up and pulled on a windbreaker. Slinging the bag over his shoulder, he walked over to Caroline and kissed her on the cheek. Her pale blue eyes were watery.
"See ya, Sis." He walked out the door.
Bangor International Airport, Bangor, Maine/September 1, 1996
The stodgy old customs agent sat behind her desk like some kind of monster in its lair, looking almost like Jabba the Hut would have, if he had been a customs agent. Her fat face was powdered, her eyes surrounded by a blue eye shadow halo, her lips a garish red. Her skin was that peculiar shade of yellow that only fat, dissatisfied old women seem to achieve. Her eyes were half-lidded and sunken into her face, giving her an almost reptilian appearance. Her lips stood open as she wheezed for breath.
"Anything to declare?" she asked in a bored monotone.
Flipping open his passport, she saw that he was only seventeen. He certainly looked older to her. He was about six feet tall, slim and well muscled, surrounded by an air of confidence that was almost arrogance. She glanced at the picture, making sure that the sardonic half-smile and roguish blue eyes belonged to him. Blandly she stamped and returned his customs form and passport.
"Welcome back to the United States. Baggage claim to the right. Next!"
Jer picked up his only bag and left the hotel in a taxi. No one would rent a car to anyone under twenty-five. He checked into a hotel using his mother's MasterCard.
Throwing his duffel bag onto the bed, he booted up the computer that came with the room. Within minutes he had created for himself a new identity, including a birth certificate, driver's license, social security number, and school transcripts.
Rockport High School/September 8, 1996
"Well, Mr. Whittacker, I hope you enjoy the rest of the school year here at Rockport High." The principal patted him on the shoulder, nearly knocking over one of the many football trophies that adorned his office, along with football posters, football pennants, and other football paraphernalia.
"Thanks, sir," Jer replied, with a well-practiced false smile. "I'm sure I will."
"Great! Now, you've got your class schedule?"
Jer shook his head.
"Well, if you need anything, remember, my office is right here."
"Thanks, sir," Jer repeated, shaking the principal's hand. The first bell went off with a clang. "Well, I guess I should get to class." He stood and left the room.
Mr. Davis watched him go. "Seems like a nice kid," he muttered to himself. "Wonder if he plays football?"
RHS Parking Lot/September 8, 1996
Jessie flipped her red hair over one shoulder and pulled her backpack out of the trunk. "I can't believe I'm actually a junior!"
"You upperclassmen are all the same," Jonny said, grabbing his own backpack.
"How's that?" Jessie asked.
"Stuck up and mean."
"Even Hadji?" Jessie asked playfully as Hadji shut the car door and came back to get his backpack.
"Even him," Jonny grinned. "I finally get my temps, and Mr. Senior here won't even let me drive to school!"
"Not in my car, you don't," Hadji replied, shutting the trunk. "I remember what happened to Race's car when he let you drive it." He and Jessie started off in the direction of the main building.
"Hey, no fair!" Jonny called, catching up and walking beside them. "We were attacked by Lorenzo in a helicopter!"
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