Hahaha! It's been so long that I actually had to re-read my own stories to remember anything XD
Been over a year since the last update... and I don't have any excuses, only my laziness... And Tumblr! Can't forget Tumblr. If you're interested, my url is ImagineSnow.
I'm gonna try out writing on paper to see if it helps my writer's block any, so it'll hopefully be along sooner... a lot sooner.
"Grown-ups never understand anything for themselves, and it is tiresome for children to be always and forever explaining things to them." ~ Antoine de Saint-Exupery
Chapter 6: Babysitting
Emilia's eye twitched and she had to restrain herself from turning her head from the highway traffic and onto her daughter, sitting quietly in the backseat. Which was the whole reason the woman was on the verge of freaking out.
Cornelia was never quiet.
The blonde girl always acted like a chipmunk on a sugar high; rushing around without a pause, talking nonstop while questioning everything and everyone. There had even been that one time where they had been kindly asked to leave a restaurant because Cornelia kept bugging the waiters, and another where she had gotten herself and her father thrown out from a board meeting. The last incident had caused glee with both father and daughter, and they had run off to get ice cream as opposed to listening in on old guys complaining about everything in the world ( and the company).
Even while she was kept busy with either drawing or watching cartoons, the young Campbell would either hum a tune to herself or started a running commentary.
Now, the only sounds present were the cars rushing by and the motor on her own car.
Starting to feel a little worried, Emilia chanced taking her eyes off the road for a second and cast a look over her shoulder , then hurriedly looked forward again as one of the cars changed lanes. Still one quick peek had been enough. Feeling a little confused, Emilia kept navigating the highway, even as her worry faded a little.
In the backseat, Cornelia continued sleeping. Her head leaned against the door and her eyes closed, tired from her little adventure the evening before.
Cornelia blinked sleepily as someone shook her from her dream, where her two favorite aliens had decided to start their own sushi restaurant .
"Cornelia, sweetie? It's time to wake up now, we are here."
The girl snapped back to reality and looked over to her mother who slowly removed her hand from her daughters shoulder.
Emilia backed away from the open car door and let the child remove her seatbelt and jump out before she closed and locked the car. Putting the car keys into her purse, Emilia looked to her daughter and reached for her hand.
Cornelia cast her gaze around as her mother dragged her across the parking lot, in the end her eyes landed on the huge building ahead of them.
The automatic doors opened for them and the duo gave a quick greeting to the lady in the lobby before moving into one of the elevators. Emilia raised her hand and put it against a dark glass panel on the wall, where a green light ran over it before giving a light 'pip', granting them access to the transporter.
The woman pressed the button for the 5th floor and listened idly to Cornelia as she started singing the My Little Pony intro.
The elevator pinged as the doors opened to a hallway with most of the doors in it handing open. Emilia moved past most of them, but was quick to wave back at people who noticed her. The two females moved through the last door and entered a huge room with windows covering one of the walls. Chairs, tables and other furniture were spread out over the space, with a plant or two thrown in to make it look more homey.
A few people were seated already, drinking coffee, reading newspapers, or whatever Emilia's colleagues decided to do with their breaks.
"Ah, Mrs. Campbell, thank you for coming on such short notice."
A short man wearing a business suit approached them and offered a smile of apology, which Emilia returned.
"It's no problem, I hope you won't mind my daughter tagging along. Her usual sitter is at summer camp, so I didn't have anyone to watch her."
The man blinked and a small frown covered his features, "I apologize , but the meeting is supposed to be top secret. Letting a child listen in would be..." He turned to look at said child, but found the space she had previously been in empty.
Emilia followed his gaze and stared at the empty spot for a moment before she turned to look for her.
It didn't take long. They found her questioning some men who were putting together new bookcases, along with removing the old ones who had been really unstable. Emilia knew this for a fact as the last time she had brought Cornelia along with her, the girl had started climbing them. It was only luck that saved her from getting the whole thing crashing down on the child.
"Cornelia, how many times have I told you not to wander off!" Emilia scolded her and pulled her away from the workers, who gave her a grateful look.
"But I didn't leave the room!" Cornelia complained, a pout present on her face.
Emilia gave a sigh, but didn't comment. She cast a look back at her boss who was watching them with a slightly impatient expression, pointing toward his wristwatch.
Her original plan had been to let some of her coworkers watch her in the break room while she drew or read a book, but she wasn't too sure about that idea anymore. The others still had jobs to do, and couldn't be asked to watch her. It was not helping that Cornelia was bound to wander off once she got bored and ran out of things to do.
"Would you mind easing up on the doomsday expression , Emilia? It looks like your plotting revenge on someone who crossed your little princess."
Said blonde blinked in surprise and turned slightly to take in the messy blonde hair and the usual camouflage pants (she was starting to wonder if he owned other designs at all). "Miles?"
Cornelia's head snapped back to said man, and didn't waste a second more before throwing herself at him. "Miles! Hello!"
Miles chuckled to himself as he bent down, throwing the girl up before catching her again. The duo hugged each other tightly before separating so that they could look at each other, but Miles still refused to let her down. "Hey there princess, haven't seen you here since I saved you from being buried by the girl-eating books."
Cornelia gave him an annoyed look. "It was your fault in the first place! You put my bunny on the top shelf."
"And I would have given it back if you had just agreed to give me the title of number one friend! It isn't such a difficult thing to do, surely!" Miles argued with a playful pout.
Emilia stared at the duo as they bantered back and forth, and a new idea was created.
"Miles, your shift ends in... 10 minutes, right?"
The man and Cornelia turned to look at Emilia with identical puzzled looks. "Yeah. Why, you need anything?" he asked, tilting his head slightly.
Emilia let out a relieved sigh and walked up to him while pulling out her wallet from her purse. "Could you possibly watch Cornelia for a couple hours? Maybe go to the zoo or something? I'll be done here about around six."
Miles blinked, and a smile slowly spread across his face, "Sure, I'd love to play with her for a few hours. Been a while since we spent some time together. "
"That's great. Here is a couple dollars to spend on food and maybe a toy, just don't give her any sugar... You'll be responsible for the consequences if you do." The man couldn't help but let a chill run down his back at the warning, but accepted the money none the less. Right afterward the woman was snatched away by her boss who decided that he had waited long enough.
"And don't wander off!" Emilia managed to get out before she disappeared into the hallway.
Cornelia and Miles stared after her for a moment, then turned to each other and simultaneously started chuckling.
Miles put down the blonde and give her a smile as they made their way toward Miles' office to get his things. "Guess it's just you and me, huh?"
Cornelia shook her head. "No it's not."
Miles gave her a confused look, prompting her to explain her statement.
"There's Catcher and Spike also!"
Miles cast a sideways glance to the girl who was holding onto his hand as he paid for their tickets.
In the end they had decided to do as Emilia had suggested and gone to the Zoo. And Cornelia had pointed out that it was outside, so Catcher and Spike could simply jump over the fence and follow them.
The newly appointed babysitter remembered Catcher from their previous conversations , but he had never heard of Spike before, which prompted him to ask her. To which she had told him he was her newest friend, and was like Catcher. Meaning a new invisible friend.
Miles gave a heavy sigh as they showed their tickets and moved through the gate. He was probably the only guy in the world who had to compete with invisible guys for a girl's affection. Seriously, his luck sucked.
He peeked down at the girl as she excitedly pointed down toward the lion pit. Letting a smile grace his face, he reached out a hand and playfully ruffled her hair. She looked up at him and gave a smile of her own.
Oh well... at least he still was her number one friend, even if he had to share it with two others.
"I wanna see the elephants next!" Cornelia informed the blonde, snapping him out of whatever weird funk he had gotten into.
"Sure, just be sure that they don't grab you and decide you can be their new pet", Miles drawled, making the girl give him an annoyed look.
"I can't be a pet! I'm a human, humans can't be pets!"
Somewhere not too far away, two yautja guiltily looked away from each other and the duo they where stalking. The thought had crossed their minds at least once before.
Cornelia and Miles spent the next hour wandering from different animal displays before they decided to take a break and check out what cafes the Zoo had to offer. In the end they decided on a cozy little place beside the bird section. Sitting down at one of the light green tables, Miles went to pick up some juice boxes and sandwiches while Cornelia made sure no one took their seats.
When Miles returned a few minutes later, balancing two plates while trying not to drop their drinks, he noticed that Cornelia had pulled out her sketch book from her backpack and had started drawing. He set down their plates and let himself fall back into the unoccupied chair and let his head loll back, giving him a good view of the few white clouds that were drifting across the big blue sky.
He grabbed his sandwich without taking his eyes of it, content with letting Cornelia entertain herself for a while.
Once he was done with his food and started sipping on his juice, his curiosity got the better of him and he looked back down to his companion.
Cornelia had pulled out her colored pencils while he hadn't been watching, and was staring intently on the paper as she guided the green pencil across it with careful motions. She would pause for a few seconds only to take a bite out of her half-eaten sandwich and a sip of her juice before going back to her drawing.
His curiosity finally got the better of him and he let himself slide out of his seat and stalked up behind the blonde.
Miles stared at the picture for a moment, then decided that the first two figures who were standing in front of a cage with a lion were them. Then his eyes landed on the two other figures a small distance away from them.
His brain froze for a moment, but was quick at pressing the button.
"That wouldn't happen to be Catcher and Spike, would it?"
Cornelia jumped in her seat, then turned to stare at the man she hadn't notice sneaking up behind her. She cast a glance back at her drawing before nodding up at her babysitter and held her sketchbook up to him, which he gladly took.
"Yeah, that one is Catcher, and that one is Spike", Cornelia explained as she pointed to each of them in turn.
Miles stared for a minute, but then a smirk crossed his features. "They look a little scary. I had pictured something completely different when you told me about them."
He flipped the page over to look at some older drawings, complimenting her art as he took a mental note of the fact that the one labeled Catcher showing up in most of them, while Spike only showed up only in the most recent .
In the end he closed the book and handed it back to the girl who was positively beaming with all the praise on her work.
"Any reason why Spike has a ... skull around his neck?" Miles raised an eyebrow at the girl, secretly wondering what sort of movies Mr. Campbell let his daughter watch, because it sure wasn't Emilia's fault.
"Um... It's supposed to be a secret, so you must promise not to tell anyone", Cornelia explained as she cast suspicious glances around them, checking for any who may be listening in on their conversation.
Miles smiled and knelt down so that they were face to face, then lifted his hand, pinky held out for her to take, "I pinky promise."
Cornelia smiled and wrapped her own pinkie around his, which was a bit difficult with the difference in hand size, but they made it work. "Pinkie promise", the girl repeated as they shook on it.
Miles leaned a little closer as Cornelia did the same. Lowering her voice to a near whisper, she told him, "Catcher and Spike are space hunters."
When this didn't get any reaction except for a confused blink, Cornelia let out an exasperated sigh and decided to elaborate.
"They are hunters, like you told me you went on once, with the deer. Only they hunt in space, they zoom around in UFO's and go to different planets and hunt there. "
Miles had the fleeting thought that he really needed to talk to Aaron on what he let his daughter watch before he opened his mouth with a question. "So they hunt on Earth?"
Cornelia's brows fell together into a frown as she thought it over, then nodded in confirmation. "They probably don't have deer on other planets, so they had to come here to hunt them."
Miles let his eyes drift back to the sketch book, but decided to refrain from commenting that the skull around Spike's neck didn't look like it had come from a deer. But then again, Cornelia probably didn't know what one looked like, so had gone with something she was more familiar with. They still showed skulls in pirate cartoons, right?
"Right. How about you finish your sandwich and we'll continue to the reptiles?"
It didn't take long before their lunch was no more and the duo continued over to the housing where the snakes and bugs chilled behind solid glass.
Cornelia had a tendency to press her face onto the glass as she had a couple staring contests with the Zoo's multiple species of snakes and lizards, which Miles had to look away from to refrain from laughing out loud.
He was pleasantly surprised with Cornelia for not being one of those squeamish girls that ran screaming every time something moved inside the glass cage. However, thinking back on her drawing, he should have expected it.
As the day went on they moved back toward the entrance and made a last stop at the souvenir shop where Cornelia got to pick out something she wanted.
Miles was proud to say that he only spared a moment to be surprised at her choice before shrugging and handed it over to the woman in the register, who raised an eyebrow at the pair.
Cornelia had a beaming smile glued to her face as they walked out the gate, a long plush Anaconda wrapped around her neck and waist.
They still had some time left before they were expected back so they Cornelia decided they were going to the park, where she could show off her new plush. Not that there had been a couple of people who had given them odd looks. There had even been one guy that had done a double take.
The park wasn't overly crowded, but there were some kids playing with a ball that allowed Cornelia to join them, but only after they had been allowed to pet the anaconda that was still wrapped around her.
Miles settled down on a park bench to watch, but he hadn't sat there for more than a few minutes before Cornelia came running up to him with an innocent smile plastered on her face, leaving miles with a suspicion that was soon proven true.
"It's really hot today, and playing football is making it worse, so we have decided that you should go buy us some ice cream."
Miles gave the blonde a disbelieving look before peeking over her shoulder where seven kids where staring at him with various pleading looks. Damn it.
"Well I can't just leave you alone just to buy some ice cream, now can I? Don't you remember the last time that happened?"
A blush spread across Cornelia's cheeks and pointedly looked away from him. "But he tried to grab my doll without asking!"
"So you tackled him and decided that rubbing his face into the dirt was a good idea?"
Her face got possibly scarlet at that, but she stubbornly held her ground and looked back at him, returning to the original argument. "Spike and Catcher can watch me while you are away, they already have been , so what's the big deal?"
Miles simply raised an eyebrow before looking back at the kids. They were many enough to manage being alone for five minutes, and those puppy dog eyes they were giving him was really disturbing to watch.
"Put on the flute your mother gave you, and don't talk to any strangers while I'm gone. Use the flute if something happens, I should be able to hear it", Miles told her as he rose from his seat.
Cornelia beamed and opened her backpack, pulling out the flute she got a year ago and fastened the string around her neck, letting it rest over the leaf stone that was safely hidden under her clothes. A second later she was rushing back to her playmates, starting a new match.
Miles let out a sigh as he began to stalk along the path, which he was pretty sure led to a convenience store just outside the park. Still, he couldn't help but look over his shoulder a couple of times. And no one who knew Cornelia Campbell could blame him. That girl had a unique ability of getting into trouble.
Hopefully nothing too bad could happen in five minutes.
Cornelia ran around one of the boys she was playing with and managed to snatch away the ball which had been sent toward him, with a victorious grin she kicked it with all the power she could muster toward the two sticks that functioned as goal posts.
It really was too bad that she managed to completely miss the goal and kick the ball right into the picnic some teenagers had set up.
The children stood staring at the four teenagers that were now decorated with various drinks and food items, the girl of the group even had her hair full of popcorn.
The tense silence was broken as one of the boys started shouting a string of words that their parents would have frowned upon, but that wasn't really the most important thing right at the moment as they all rose and turned toward the children.
"Who kicked that ball?!"
Now there were two options the kids could take at this moment. Number one was to point toward Cornelia and make a break for it, or number two; simply skip step one and make break for it.
But since Cornelia had never been one to follow expectations, she chose to decide for them.
"You'll never catch me alive!" was the battle cry the blonde went with as she turned and bolted from the teenagers, throwing in an evil laugh just to top it off.
Deciding to follow her example, the other children ran off screaming with four unhappy teenagers after them, resulting in a tag battle of epic proportions into taking place.
They focused mostly on catching Cornelia since she was the one who had ruined their picnic, but that didn't mean the other children wasn't her partners in crime.
It turned out the children were much more difficult to catch than the teens had predicted. Anytime they got close enough to grab one of the kids, they would suddenly trip over something, but when they looked behind them as they lay sprawled out on the grass, they wouldn't find anything. There even was one time where Cornelia managed to trip while one of the teens were right behind her, and would have fallen right on her if her pursuer hadn't been hit in the side by an invisible force and toppled over sideways.
Cornelia had been up again in a second with a "thanks!" shouted to her protective alien friend. A low rumble followed her as she dodged past one of the other teens. The teenager that had almost stepped on her used a little more time in pulling himself together before getting back up.
This was of course the scene Miles witnessed as he returned with a box of ice cream under his arm, and he would later swear that the sound of his palm connecting with his face was what clued the kids in on the fact that he was back, because the next seconds ended with eight kids hiding behind him. He let out a long sigh before removing his hand and gave the teens that had turned to glare his way a long suffering look.
"What did she do this time?"
It didn't take too long to get the gist of what happened, and he sent an 'I-told-you-so' look to Cornelia who had the decency to look sheepish about doing exactly what he had feared.
"Sorry about this, but you have to admit that it was an accident, no hard feelings." Miles tried to go with a sheepish smile worthy of Cornelia, but the teens still continued to glare at him and the kids behind him.
"That doesn't change the fact that they still ruined all our food and even broke the plates, and instead of trying to make up for it or even apologizing they ran away", the girl of the group pointed out with a frosty stare.
"They are still kids, and got scared when you got mad at them. I agree that they should have done what you said, but I don't really blame them, seeing as when I showed up you were chasing them all over. What exactly where you planning on doing when you caught them?"
Miles was really trying to play peacemaker, but the teens where making it hard to keep a straight face. They all looked like someone had thrown a full stocked shelf of food into their path. And the syrup dripping from the hair of the tallest boy was making Miles' lip twitch.
In the end it ended up with Miles paying for the damage and made the children apologize before the teens skulked off to go wash up. Which left the babysitter with eight children who were staring in awe up at him. He handed out the ice cream and let himself fall back onto the grass with his own frosty goodness as he watched the children take up another game.
Of course, they decided to go with hide and seek, the one game where Miles had no chance at watching out for them. He let out a sigh, but decided to let them play, all the while taking note of where every single one of them went to hide.
Hopefully Cornelia's 'get-into-trouble' quota had been fulfilled for the day.
Miles let his tense shoulders relax after three successful games, in which Cornelia had show her skill at hiding by not getting caught until the searcher gave up. The smug smile she sent him when she caught him watching was enough to make a grin spread across his face.
Sparing a look to his cell to check on the time, Miles decided to grant them one more round before they had to go.
Cornelia hadn't been found after 15 minutes, which wasn't all that strange, but when the searcher called for all to come out, they were still missing one of the crew.
Miles frowned as he got to his feet and strolled over, counting them again as he came to a stop beside Cornelia, who was (along with the other kids) calling out for Sophie to come out since the game was over.
When the girl still hadn't shown up after a quick search in the nearby bushes, worry stated to creep up on the only adult in the group.
He was near losing his cool when Cornelia came rushing out from a bush and didn't waste any time with grabbing his hand and dragging him with her, back the way she came.
"Spike found her!" was the only explanation he got as he followed the blonde in dodging around trees and roots sticking out of the ground.
Miles was pretty sure they had passed the agreed area they could use to hide, so it wasn't too strange that they hadn't heard the quiet sobs of the girl that was lying on the ground a small distance away from them.
He let his confusion color his face as he wondered why she hadn't managed to walk back, it shouldn't have been so hard even with a skinned knee. Of course, that's when he caught sight of the thick root she somehow managed to get her foot wrapped in.
Teary brown eyes lifted as their footsteps became audible and she let out a desperate cry for help as the duo came running.
Miles slowed to a stop by her side and knelt down, trying to calm the crying brunette while Cornelia sat at her other side, holding the girls hand in her own.
Sophia managed to get out an explanation in between sobs. How she had wanted to run further than ever before to find a better hiding place, but had ended up tripping on a root that had left her trapped out of hearing distance for her calls of help.
Miles let his eyes travel down to her trapped leg that showed some bruising after her desperate tries at getting loose, but had only managed to make it tighten its grip on her ankle.
"Just hang on a little longer, and I'll get you lose, okay?"
Sophie gave a whimper before her head dipped in a nod.
Deciding not to waste any more time, Miles planted his feet firmly on each side if the root and got a good grip on it before giving a quick tug. Surprisingly, he only managed to loosen the hold slightly, which was in no way enough to free the girl. Miles pulled a good few times more, but the root wouldn't budge.
It was only when he lost his grip and fell back onto the ground that he allowed himself a quick pause to catch his breath.
"I'm going to need something to pry it off. Cornelia, could you-"
He didn't get any further before a knife was suddenly dangling before his eyes. Blinking in confusion, he looked past the sharp weapon to Cornelia, who was holding it out for him to take.
Miles stared at it for a few seconds, then lifted a hand and carefully took it from the eight-year-old. The handle and weight would indicate a throwing knife. Either new or well cared for, he decided, judging by the shine, along with the sharp blade.
Ending his quick analysis, the babysitter turned a confused and worried look to Cornelia, really not wanting to know, but felt like he had to ask.
"Where'd you get this?"
Cornelia gave him a considering look before pointing vaguely to her left, "Spike lent it to me, but we have to give it back when we're done with it."
Miles let his head turn gradually to look, but all his eyes landed on was trees and various plants decorating the ground. Still, the feeling of being watched had followed him through the day, and he still felt eyes on him. Swallowing past the lump in his throat, Miles let his eyes glide back to Cornelia, who had knelt beside Sophie as she tried to cheer up the distressed girl.
His grip on the knife tightened as he flashed back to the year before, in the jungle where it all started.
Many of the other adults had either laughed or disregarded the child's story as soon as she told them about her new best friend. Only Miles had taken her seriously, and even then, he only did it to preserve the girl's creative imagination. Every child needed someone to believe in them, and Miles had gladly stepped up to take the role.
But now, he wasn't so sure anymore.
Strange things had happened on that expedition, and many of them seemed to be centered around the little girl.
One of the most disturbing things, they only was informed about one week after they had gotten back to The States.
The remains of a camp had been discovered by some explorers, who had quickly contacted authorities.
It was soon discovered that the remains was that of the crew of none other than Carl Cartridge, who had managed to escape jail for many years. The main cause being that all the witnesses went missing.
No one had been sad to see him gone, but an investigation was started anyway, since it had been obvious that no animal had been the cause of death.
After many interview and sample testing, Miles and his co-workers had been taken off the suspect list. Though they all had felt uneasy about the fact that the mass murder had taken place while they still were in the area, thanking the heavens that they hadn't been targeted as well.
The case had gone cold, and all had seemed to go back to normal.
But now that Miles actually thought back on it, he had a horrifying realization.
The morning after the massacre, Miles went to pick up Cornelia, only to find the girl sitting on her temporary bed in a dirty and slightly torn PJ. Emilia had been crouching before her, tying a bandage around her daughter's foot.
When Miles had finally been calmed down from his panic, Emilia had explained what had happened.
Apparently the little troublemaker had gone out in the night to get a snack, but had managed to trip and hurt herself on some equipment. While explaining this, Cornelia had been blushing in embarrassment. And once Mrs. Campbell had promised him that his favorite playmate was okay, he finally let it go and went about to cheer up the blonde.
But Miles was no fool. He had served in the military for three years, and the way Cornelia had looked that morning was terribly alike how many of his fellow cadets had appeared after some of the survival exercise that lasted for a few days.
Still, he had let that thought go, because he didn't want his suspicion to be proven right.
Miles snapped back to reality as Cornelia called his name.
She was giving him a pointed look, and Miles used a few seconds more than he usually would to figure out what it was she wanted.
His grip on the knife had tightened enough to be slightly painful, and he quickly loosened his grip and moved over to the two girls.
Collecting himself, Miles stopped his hands from shaking as he carefully started to cut through the root.
All the while aware of the invisible eyes that were fixed on him.
To Be Continued...