Disclaimer: I don't own the amazing characters created by Mr. Korman.
Graduation day. College. For Aiden Falconer, it was a miraculous to even have made it to this point in his life. This was because, once upon a time, he had lived through a nightmare. A real nightmare that had only lasted a few months, but seemed to contain an eternity.
Once upon a time, Aiden's family had been the most hated in the country. His parents had been convicted of treason, and he and his younger sister had been stowed away at a juvenile detention facility. That had been three years ago, and since then their parents had been exonerated - but not before he and sister had been changed forever because of their experiences as fugitives.
It was true that Aiden had changed more than Meg. Some of it was noticeable to others, some of it was known to only Aiden himself. Most important of all, he had come to realize that he was made of tougher stuff than he used to be. He had a new resilience, a new edge whenever he faced obstacles. Somehow, he had learned to find hope through devastation. Even when all odds were against them, they came out on top. Or at least, they came out alive. Now that had been a miracle.
Aiden sat in a graduation gown, feeling self conscious as he faced a crowd of over a hundred. Even through his anxiousness, he felt an odd sense of relief. This was normal. So much of the last few years had been unbelievable, and usually in the worst kind of ways. Escape from police, stowing away on a ship, befriending a gang, facing a killer again and again. Sitting with a group of his peers, waiting for the next chapter of their lives to begin, this was something that was almost too normal for Aiden to believe. It happened every year, a senior class graduating and moving on to new things. This was just so…un-Falconer.
Finally the moment he had been awaiting, and dreading to an extent, came. The speaker called his name. Aiden Falconer. Three years wasn't enough to make society forget a notorious name such as his own. The name that was put on national news, in newspapers, magazines, and countless websites. It might as well have been put in the dictionary. Definition: traitor.
Considering all this, it wasn't a surprise that it was deadly quiet as he made the long walk. It was still air as he took his diploma, and flipped the tassel on his mortarboard. Then clapping. Loud, hard clapping from a dozen or more people. For a second he stood frozen, staring at the faces in the crowd, waiting for a boo or even the crack of a gun. Simply because that was how his life was - insane. Finally, coming out of a temporary daze, he quickly moved to the section of the other graduates.
His biggest worry about the experiences that awaited him was the fact that he'd be leaving Meg. They had faced so much together, it was scary to think that now he'd be on his own. Even more scary - he couldn't protect Meg anymore. But Meg, he knew, was more than capable of taking care of herself. With a sigh, Aiden took it all in. He took in his future, his dreams.
He hugged Meg. "I know I don't tell you this enough, but…"
"I love you too, bro."