"Still Here Hoping One Day You May Come Back"
Disclaimer: Don't own any Aaron Stone characters. Never will. Section titles are from One Republic's "Come Home" and Jay Farrar and Ben Gibbard's "One Fast Move or I'm Gone" respectively. Haven't done a chaptered fic in a while (I've been crushing on oneshots, what can I say?) so here's something different!
i. right now there's a war between the vanities, but all i see is you and me, and the fight for you is all i've ever known
They started running the night he graduated from high school.
His cap and gown were safely tucked away in his closet and he was at the annual celebratory dance. He hadn't wanted to go. After all, when you save the world on a regular basis, a graduation dance seems a bit trite and irrelevant. But he knew his mom wanted him to. As did Emma. It was really important to her for some reason, so he obliged. He swayed back and forth to the music, not really paying attention to anything but the dark haired girl moving across from him. He loved how she could get so lost in the music. As if nothing else mattered to her. Her eyes were closed, a small smile on her face, and her arms were in the air. She looked stunning. The song ended, a slower one taking its place, and he was sad to see her snap out of her rhythmic trance. Without missing a beat, however, she took a step closer to him and wrapped her arms around his neck. He stopped moving momentarily, before finally bringing his arms up to her waist. She smiled at him and whispered, "It's just a dance."
"I know, I, uh, am just not very good at dancing," he mumbled.
She closed her eyes and nestled her head into the crook of his neck. "I know."
They moved gently to the music, and he closed his eyes, trying to memorize the feeling of her skin touching his. They never did this, the two of them. They shared a lot of things, about their pasts, likes and dislikes, information about Mr. Hall's assignments, but there was always a physical distance they maintained. Tonight, however, none of those unspoken rules seemed to matter.
Suddenly, the Mission Impossible theme started blaring from his back pocket. She lifted her head and took a step away.
"Duty calls," she said, a regretful look on her face.
"Sorry," he said, as he flipped open his phone. It was a number he didn't recognize. "Hello?"
"Charlie Landers. You have no idea how long I've waited to say that name," a deep male voice stated.
"Who is this?" he asked. Emma looked at him, concern covering her face.
The speaker ignored his question. "Charlie Landers. Born March 14, 1992. Social Security number 065-74-1109. Father's name: Daniel. Mother's name: Amanda. One brother: Jason. Attends Quincy Adams High, or wait, hold that. You've graduated from Quincy Adams High, haven't you, Charlie? Must've been hard to keep up with your schoolwork between chasing after that little dark haired girl of yours, maintaining your impressive Hero Rising score, and continuing all the training you'd have to do to be Aaron Stone."
Charlie froze. The words 'Aaron Stone' seem to hang in the air, amongst the balloons and streamers.
He looked at Emma. "Powers," he said, finally recognizing the voice. Her eyes grew wide and she began searching the crowd for Stan.
"Yes! I'm so glad we are finally acquainted, Charlie. You know, with our real names and all."
Emma grabbed his free hand and pulled him over to the food table where Stan was monitoring the punch bowl.
"What do you want from me?" Charlie asked, into the phone.
"Not much, really. Just you. You know, a fair trade for all of the things you've taken from me."
"Oh, I was hoping you'd say that," Powers replied, his voice full and sarcastic. "Now we can make this even more fun. See you soon, Charlie."
"What do you mean—" he started, but the phone line had gone dead.
Stan looked at Emma and then back to Charlie.
"Elias Powers," Charlie said, his voice shaking with every word. "He knows who I am."
The three of them stood there for a moment, trying to let the realization sink in of what that meant for him, for them as a team, for everything.
"Stan?" he asked after a moment.
He paused. Charlie knew he had to be the one to call it, as protocol dictated. And he knew that as soon as he did, everything in his life would change. Even more so than when he'd first became Aaron Stone.
He took a deep breath.
ii. and the interstates, they don't connect, where you are to what you've left
From the moment he had started working for Mr. Hall, they had formulated this plan, the pieces ready to fall into place at a moment's notice. It had been modified over the years, so as to not raise the suspicions of his mom or brother. Somehow he'd never thought they would actually have to use it.
But here he was, digging through his closet for the bag he packed three years ago. He pulled it out and dusted it off, hoping the clothes he had put in there would still fit him.
He heard a knock at his bedroom door and found his mother standing there.
"How was the dance—what are you doing?" she asked, taking in his disorderly room.
He took a deep breath. This was going to be the hardest part. Putting on the most jubilant smile he could muster, he began the script.
"Mom, you're not going to believe this. I got in to Smithson's Honors Program! I got the call when I was at the dance. Apparently they had some student drop out at the last minute and I was the next on the list."
His mother stood there, stunned. She had been so proud when he had been accepted at Smithson University, a college several hours from their home. And although he had never even applied for their Honors Program, he had told her that he had applied and was rejected. Thus the plan.
"Wow, I, uh, that's great honey," she said, hugging him. "So why are you packing now? I get that you're excited but isn't that a little premature?"
He closed his eyes briefly. "No," he opened them again. "That's the thing about this program. It starts tomorrow. I guess the drop out was really unexpected, but they wanted to give me the chance to be in the program if I wanted it."
"Tomorrow? Well that's a little sudden. Why don't we wait till morning and then I'll call the school and explain the situation. I'm sure they'll give you a few extra days. . ."
"No!" he said, momentarily losing sight of the objective of this whole thing. He cleared his throat. "I can't miss this opportunity, mom. It's the best program out there and I'll get to do a semester abroad, and study with some of the best professors, and, um, you know, all of that stuff. I don't want to mess it up by having my mom call."
She looked hurt for a moment, but then just nodded her head. "Okay, well, I'll go get my keys. Oh wait, I've got that presentation at work tomorrow morning. Will I be back in time? It's 11:45 p.m. now and if I drive straight there and back—"
"Actually Emma said she'd take me. One last road trip for old times' sake and she's not starting her summer job for a couple of weeks, so it works out."
His mother was definitely hurt this time. Tears started to form in her eyes, and he had to look away.
"I know how important that presentation is to you, mom, and I don't want you to miss it on account of me," he said, grabbing the bag and heading for the door. "I know this is sudden and I'm sorry. But this is great for me. Really." He hugged her for a long moment and whispered in her ear one of the hardest lies he's ever had to tell.
"I'll be home soon."
iii. one fast move or i'm gone
He had told Jason about leaving as soon as he had gotten home from the dance.
Jason had responded in his normal way, "Okay, bye. Wait, does this mean I have to do your chores?"
Once outside his house, he started walking faster and faster, until he was running, his feet barely keeping up with his thoughts. At the nearby park, he met up with Stan and Emma. They went over everything that was supposed to have happened so far. Pack bag: check. Lie to family: check. Place Dan, Stan's lookalike "Defense Assisting Neo-human," in the Landers household to watch over his family: check.
When everything seemed to be in order, he and Stan climbed into the car they had set aside for this purpose. He tossed his bag into the back seat, only to see his bag wasn't alone.
"What the—?" he asked, turning to look at Emma, who was standing outside his car. Or had been.
When he turned back around, she was sitting in the backseat next to their belongings.
"Emma, what are you doing?"
"Coming with you."
"Um, you can't," he stated, as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
She leaned closer to him so there was only a few inches between their faces. "I can and I am. I left a note for my parents, saying I'm at technology camp. They're gone for a few weeks anyway. You're not doing this alone."
He stared into her dark eyes for a second before relenting. "Why does that feel like a threat?"
"Because it is," she said, smirking.
"You do realize this is gonna suck, right? And is not going to be over before your 'technology camp' will be?"
"Yup, know all that. Don't really care. You know George and Phyllis aren't super involved anyway. I'd doubt they'd care too much if I left now or in a couple of months." Emma had been accepted at Smithson, as well. Her parents were never around very much, always travelling for work, which helped with the whole secret identity thing, but Charlie knew was sometimes painful for her.
Her voice lowered. "Charlie, I'm not going anywhere." She smiled at him and sat back in her seat.
Although he liked to pretend it annoyed him, he was actually grateful that the girl next door was so stubborn. Because he didn't know what was next. Or if he could do it alone.
Slowly, deliberately, he placed the key in the ignition and started the car.
A/N: That's where I must leave you for now. I have lots of ideas about where this story could go and I haven't written a chapter fic in a long time, so I'll have to decide where exactly I want to take this. As always, I love your reviews and am grateful for them and for the fact that you read this story. Love.