AN: Hi, this is my first ever story. Im very nervous about it. I know what I want to happen, but as to how they happen and how long it takes is up in the air. Its sorta a hs fic, but not really. Any feedback is welcome. Ok...here it goes
The hustle and bustle of human traffic through the long drab hallway did nothing to decrease the September heat. Children and young adults sit in hard plastic chairs lining the hallway. The younger faces were a combination of fear, hope and sadness, the older ones were of resignation and distrust. Almost all had a plastic bag filled with clothes, including the tall seventeen-year-old girl in the last chair. Her long auburn hair fell on each side of her bent head, shielding her face from view. She is hunched over, almost as if she is trying to make herself appear smaller, one arm around her midsection while the other balanced a large anatomy text book opened on her lap. A door opens, and a short graying woman with a withered and disinterested face emerges, carrying with her a coffee stained folder and a brown, cracked leather briefcase.
"Temperance Brennen" she calls, glancing expectantly toward the row of adolescents.
The tall girl's head snaps up to reveal a classically beautiful face with fading bruises and intelligent, sharp, gray-blue eyes. She closes her book and leans down to pick up her own clothes-filled garbage bag before standing up.
"Hello Temperance. My name is Althea Hobbs, I will be your social worker for the next six months until you turn 18", the woman says in a brisk professional voice void of any true compassion, offering Temperance her hand, "We have found a foster home for you. They are expecting us soon so if you'll follow me, I'll tell you about them on our way" She turns and leads the young girl down the hallway, and towards the parking lot.
Temperance isn't at all insulted or surprised by Althea; her experience has been that social workers that truly care are rare. She holds her textbook tighter to her body and reminds herself that it is illogical for a caring and dedicated social worker to be given to a teenager with a history of trouble, who will also be eighteen in two months.
Althea glances at Temperance as they near her dented tan Ford Taurus. She has of course read the file on Miss Brennen, and what she read made her heart weep a little. No one deserved what this girl, or really any of the children in foster care, has been through. But thirty years on the job have made her harden her heart. However, Althea has also read that she has run away from two of her foster homes and although Temperance is a very intelligent and driven young woman, she is quite cold and closed off, so she makes no attempt to make small talk.
Once in the car Althea begins to speak, again with the same impersonal tone. " I understand that your last foster parents were abusive and I am so sorry you had to endure something of that nature." Althea glances at Temperance, but the only reaction she gets is the straightening of shoulders and tightening of lips. "I assure you that we have run a thorough check on your new foster parents. They are an older couple but stable and by all accounts, loving. They took in their grandchildren about ten years ago, two boys. The older joined the military, and the younger brother is your age. In fact, you will both go to the same school. Isn't that great? You will at least know one person when you start school next week."
Temperance is barely listening to her speak. Instead she is looking out the window at the city she now calls home. Washington DC, home of the Jeffersonian Institute, Temperance's metaphorical light at the end of the tunnel. Temperance always loved to learn a trait that made her an outcast at school from a very young age. After her parents' disappearance and brother's abandonment at fifteen, her status didn't improve so Temperance devoted her entire being into her studies, even more so than she did before. She gently runs her fingertips over the cover of her textbook, the only thing she owns that she bought herself, the only object that brings her any kind of hope. Her goal is to become a forensic anthropologist. Logically she knows that her parents must be dead, but the not knowing for sure eats at her daily. She wants to make sure that doesn't happen to others, that at least someone else will get closer on what happen to their loved ones. Even though she has changed high schools a few times, her grades never suffered, so Temperance is awaiting a full scholarship at the end of the year. She has an interview for a job at the Jeffersonian; her plan is that such employment will help her when she applies for an internship in a few years.
Temperance is brought out of her musings when she notices the neighborhood they are now driving through. It is obviously middle class, with average two story houses, minivans and bikes filling almost every driveway. Althea pulls into the driveway of a corner house. Temperance gets out and scrutinizes the house that will be her "home" for the foreseeable future. It is a two story white house with navy blue trimming and a wrap around porch. The lawn is a healthy green and well kept with a large oak tree whose branches reach the upstairs windows. As they walk across the stone path towards the front steps, Temperance notices the carefully kept flowerbeds by the porch and can't stop her lips from twitching when she sees that they are full of daises and daffodils, her favorite flowers. She notes that there is an American flag waving from a pole connected to the roof of the porch. They must be proud of their golden boy military grandson, she thinks. Althea and Temperance walk up the steps and knock on the door. After a moment an older man with graying brown hair, wide shoulders, thick arms and kind brown eyes opens the door and stretches his hand out to Temperance.
"Hi there! You must be Temperance! I'm Hank." As he guides the ladies inside, he flashes a very charming smile Temperance, trying to put her at ease. "Come on in. This is my wife Lizzie." A gentle looking woman walks towards Temperance and pulls her into a light but loving hug, full of the smell of daises and chocolate chip cookies.
"Hello Temperance. We are so glad to have you here."
Althea shifts her weight and glances at the watch before briskly attempting to make her exit. "Well, all the paper work is in place. Temperance, you have my card if you need anything. I will stop by in a few weeks to see how you are adjusting. Pleasure to meet you both." With a nod toward the couple, Althea opens the door and exits, but before the door closes behind her, a young man comes through. He is tall with well-sculpted features, brown hair and eyes. But Temperance notices that his eyes, which are shifting between her, Hank and Lizzie, do not hold the same warmth of the elder man standing next to her. Lizzie steps forward to introduce the two teens.
"Jared, dear, this is Temperance Brennen. Temperance, this is our youngest grandson; Jared."
"Well hello there. When Pops told me we were taking in a foster kid I was expecting a little snot or a revenge of the nerds wannabe. Definitely not someone like you," Jared says giving Temperance an appraising look and a flirtatious smile. Temperance simply stares back at, unsure about what he was talking about. "Oookkaaay" Jared says with lifted eyebrows before walking past them and up the stairs. Hank sighs and shakes his head, then bends down and picks up the garbage bag of clothes leading the women up the stairs behind his grandson, indicating each room as he mentions them.
"That room down the left is our room, the next is Jared's. The room all the way to the right is the bathroom and THIS one, is your room. We hope you like the furnishings. We heard that you were a dedicated student so we made sure you have everything you need." Hank opens the door and steps aside, so Temperance can enter. She is breathless for a few seconds as she takes it all in. It is a large room with shelves built into the two of the walls. As she takes a closer look she sees that history; math and science textbooks fill the shelves, along with some CDs and a stereo. The bed and dresser are both made of a dark wood, which shines due to the light seeping through the cream lace curtains. The bed is a queen, with fluffy pillows and a white and yellow quilt comforter. The side table has a beautiful princess telephone and lamp. On the other side of the room is a desk made of the same wood as the other furniture with a computer. The window looks out onto the oak tree and front yard. Laid out on the window seat are a backpack, notebooks, pencils, pens and other various school supplies. Temperance walks towards them and places her textbook down next to them.
"We wanted to make sure you had everything you needed for school next week and we placed your class schedule in the top desk drawer." Hank explains. He exchanges a look with his wife; they are afraid that they may have made a wrong assumption. When they talked to Temperance's social workers, they learned that she was a very dedicated student, with a focus on science. They had hoped that showing her they would encourage and support her interest would help the cold exterior they were told to expect melt a little.
"If those aren't what you would like to use, if you would like to pick something out yourself, that's fine." Lizzie steps closer, concerned when she doesn't get a response. "Temperance, are you ok?"
Temperance is in shock. Except for her father, no one had ever attempted to understand her love of learning. Now these strangers may not understand, but the are by all appearances trying to encourage her. When Temperance turns to face Lizzie and Hank, she feels a small part of her wanting to hug them both, but her rational brain wins and she leaves the shield over her heart. However, she can't bring herself to completely shut them out, so after a deep breath she speaks for the first time in a quiet, slightly hesitant voice, "Yes, I'm fine… You can call me Tempe, if you want."
Lizzie looks at the young woman, and smiles. "Well, Tempe, we will let you get settled in. I will call you for dinner in about thirty minutes." Lizzie walks to her husband, then turns around again, with a slight pause she softly says, "Welcome home dear". When all she receives is a simple nod she and Hank leave the room, closing the door gently behind them.
Once alone Temperance walks toward the desk. She trails her fingertips over its surface before gingerly sitting in the chair. She once again looks around the room, taking in all the details the couple put in just for her. She then looks down at her weathered shoe, then takes off her right shoe and looks at the bottom. She sees the four names already written down in faded black ink, the last making her shudder as she remembers what they put her through. No, I wont let them affect me any longer, its over, she tells herself. She opens the desk and takes out and uncaps a bright blue pen from a drawer filled with various school supplies. She adds the name of her last and what looks to be the best, foster family.