Jackson was waiting in Agent Brand's office, tapping his foot on the ground anxiously. He rocked back and forth in his chair.
"C'mon" he thought "Hurry up"
Hours before, he'd had just helped to save the world from a jigsaw puzzle obsessed madman. His teammates were out celebrating with the Lunch Lady. And though they insisted that he come with them, he declined. He was about to make a very important decision, and he wanted to talk to Agent Brand before he changed his mind. Agent Brand entered his office, followed closely by Ms Holiday.
"Sorry" he said "I know you said that it was urgent that we speak to you""But we still had a bit of business to finish up...with the continents"
"It's alright" Jackson said "This won't take long"
"The Lunch Lady is taking the agents out for pizza" Ms Holiday said "You should be there with them""You were the hero of this mission"
Jackson felt a pang of discomfort. She wasn't making his decision any easier.
"About that" Jackson began "I wanted to say..."
"Hold on a moment" Agent Brand said "I have something I'd like to say as well"
Jackson closed his mouth as the secret agent spoke
"I've been a bit hard on you" Brand said "Harder on you than the other agents""But only because I believe you have the potential to be a great agent""And risking your life to destroy Dr Jigsaw's machine proved that you have what it takes"
Jackson swallowed the lump in his throat. Agent Brand wasn't helping either. But as hard as it was, he knew that this was something he needed to do.
"Now then" Brand said "What was it that you wanted to say?"
Jackson took a deep breath and said "I want to resign again"
Ms Holiday gave a small gasp. If Agent Brand didn't have his cane to support him, he'd have fallen over.
"This job really isn't suited for me" Jackson said
Agent Brand shook his head "I've never heard a more obvious lie" he said "You're an athlete, a gifted leader, and a natural born snoop""You and I both know that you were made for this job"
"I know" he said "And I like it""But...I can't handle this""Not....not now"
Jackson must've been going for a record of some kind. He had gone through most of the emotional spectrum with Ms Holiday. She was happy that he joined, she had cried when he was pushed to leave, she had gotten angry when Jackson decided to help, she was happy to have him back, and now she was upset all over again.
"Jackson be reasonable" she said "You can't do this"
"I can and I will" he said solemnly
"Think of your team" Ms Holiday said "With Heathcliff gone, they need you now more than ever"
"They aren't my team" he said "They didn't need me before and they don't need me now""There are tons of other kids in this school who could take Heathcliff's place""Find one, because I can't do this anymore"
Tears had begun to form in the librarians eyes. She was shocked at how hollow his words sounded. She turned to Agent Brand
"Alexander" she said desperation filling her voice "Say something"
"Are you sure that you want to do this?" Brand asked
"Let's review" Jackson said "From the day I've joined N.E.R.D.S. I've been insulted, yelled at, beaten unconscious, ambushed, shot with a laser, buried alive in cars, electrocuted, nearly killed, lied to my father on a daily basis, and to top it off I've fallen so far behind in school that I've already flunked the fifth grade""So I want to get myself together before I'm flunked back to pre-school"
Brand couldn't deny that he had a valid point. Jackson wanted to pick up the pieces of his former life and try to get himself back on track.
"All right then" Brand said "If this is what you want, then I won't stop you"
Ms Holiday looked horrified "Alexander, you can't let him do this" she said
"Of course I can" he said "As the director of N.E.R.D.S. I can do as I see fit""If he wants to leave then we should respect his wishes"
Jackson left Brand's office and headed to the room with the upgrade chair "I'll be back" he said
He entered the room and climbed into the chair "Or I guess I won't for a while" he thought
Those familiar rubber hooks forced his mouth open. Ben's voice rang out
"Think pleasant thoughts" he said
Jackson remembered that taking the braces out didn't hurt nearly as much as putting them in. It still hurt a lot though. And since the Lunch Lady wasn't here, the upgrade chair removed his nose bug instead. Jackson was expecting the chair to use pliers like the Lunch Lady had. But the chair used a long, thin, metal-tipped plastic tube, which essentially vacuumed the implant out of his nose. After a while, he walked out of the upgrade room. Wobbling from side to side, like a jello mold in an earthquake.
"I ever rejoin N.E.R.D.S., I won't be looking forward to doing that again" Jackson thought
Ms Holiday waited for him outside. She had on a brave face, but at the same time, she looked like she was going to cry.
"It's not like I'm moving away" Jackson said "You'll still see me around school"
He stopped to think for a moment "Actually, you'll probably see me in the library more" he said "Because I'll have to do a lot of studying to bring my grades up"
"I'll see you...tomorrow then" she said with an fake smile. She was trying her best not to give in to how she really felt.
Jackson headed over to the tubes that led to the lockers. As he walked, he distinctly heard the librarian sob then blow her nose. Agent Brand was waiting for him by the tubes.
"She's grown quite attached to you" Brand said "Maybe even more so than to the other agents"
Jackson shrugged "I'll still be around" he said"And so what if I'm not part of the team anymore""She'll get over it"
"Do you have a ride back to your house?" Brand asked
"I was gonna walk" Jackson said "I figured I could use the time to think about how I'm gonna do better in school"
"If you don't have a ride" he said "Then let me take you home"
"Ok then" Jackson said
They both entered the tubes which led back to the lockers. After coming into the hall, they walked outside. Brand pressed a hidden button on his cane. Within seconds, an sleek black car drove up.
"Nice" Jackson said
"A parting gift from my former employers" Brand said
Jackson laughed "How does no one know that the school janitor drives such an awesome car?" he asked
"Everyone thinks it belongs to the principal" Brand said getting in
Jackson hopped in the car and checked his watch. He knew it was late, but he just wanted to know the exact time. After looking down at his watch, he realized he still had his laser watch on. As he unfastened the strap from his wrist, Agent Brand placed his hand over the clock face.
"Don't bother" Brand said "You can keep it"
Jackson looked at the weapon on his wrist as Brand explained "The power cell has to be periodically charged for it to emit a laser""You only get so many shots""And even when you use them all it still works as a regular watch""Just think of it as a reminder of what you have to gain"
Brand talked to Jackson as he drove the car down the street.
"I hate the thought of losing another agent" Brand said "But I have to say it takes a lot of strength and maturity to do what you've just done""And I'm proud of you for that"
Jackson grinned "Thanks" he said "You don't know how great it feels to hear you say that"
"After what you did for them" Brand said "I'd say that the rest of the team will miss you even more now than before"
Jackson snorted "Please" he said "They never wanted me in the first place""They'll probably be glad that I'm not around to screw up anymore"
Brand shook his head "You really don't know how far you've come" he said "They only dwelled on your mistakes because they still resented you at that time""They knew for a fact that anyone, including them, could've made your mistakes""The only thing that mattered to them was that you were making them"
"Aside from leaving N.E.R.D.S." Jackson said "I think it's time I did something I should've done a long time ago""Leave them alone"
Brand chuckled "It won't be that easy" he said "They were already starting to like you before, after saving their lives turning them away will be easier said then done""And I don't think you have it in you to be a bully again, not anymore"
Jackson sighed, Brand was right. He was still cocky and somewhat overconfident, but he had put an end to his bullying days. It was his first step to changing himself for the better. But if he was going to try and fix himself, he needed to be focused on school. He couldn't afford to let anything distract him. Not his old friends, not his new friends, and not the N.E.R.D.S. After a few minutes, they arrived at Jackson's home. He stepped out of the car, and looked Agent Brand square in the eye.
"Know this" Brand said "When you feel that you're ready to rejoin, I will personally welcome you back"
"Thanks" Jackson said "But that's probably gonna be a long time from now"
Jackson shut the car door and watched Agent Brand drive away. He walked through the driveway and up to his door. Jackson shook his head as he looked over at Butch on his chain, sleeping peacefully.
"That dog could sleep through the end of the world" Jackson thought . He stopped and laughed to himself as he realized that Butch probably had slept through the continents movement.
He took a breath and opened the door. He stepped inside and was quickly met by his brothers arm around his neck in a playful headlock.
"Welcome home, Nerdbot" he said
Jackson struggled out of Chaz's grip and bit his arm. He quickly let go, and rubbed at the tender spot.
"So, my kid brother's a spy" Chaz said shaking his head in wonder "You've gotta tell me all about it"
"I will" Jackson said "But first...where's dad?"
"Livingroom" Chaz said "He's been watching this news report about the continents supposedly moving to slide together like...like..."
"A giant jigsaw puzzle?" Jackson suggested
"Pretty much"Chaz said
Jackson walked toward the livingroom, motioning for his brother to follow him. His father sat in an armchair, staring blankly at the screen. As soon as Jackson approached, he turned the television off. Jackson sat on the couch and Chaz plopped down next to him. He stared at his father, not breaking eye contact for even a second. He took a breath, and said in an even tone of voice....
"Dad, we need to talk"
And that's it for Chapter One. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it. Chapter Two is the heart to heart Jackson's been needing to have with his father for quite a while. Until then, please review.