[Nasty tends to swear. A lot. Reader discretion recommended.]
Nasty finished scrubbing the stove in the Home Ec room. Behind her, she heard Sylvie putting away dishes and Stormie wiping the table. The other stations in the room had similar activity happening. Nasty slipped off her apron and rolled it into a ball. The last bell of the day rang. Finally, Nasty thought. She looked at the clock. Anne should be here soon.
"So, Jessie, how did you like your first day?" Sylvie asked. "Jessie?"
Jessie? Ugh. "Oh, sorry," Nasty replied. "What was that?"
"I was asking you about your day, but the way you zoned out, I think I got my answer."
"I didn't zone out."
"Could've fooled me," Stormie said. She grabbed her books. "See you tomorrow, Sylvia."
"Bye, Stormie. Jessie, you okay?"
"Why wouldn't I be?"
"First day and all that. Really, it's nothing to panic over."
"I'm not panicking." Calm down, Natasha. Blow her off. "I'm just tired."
"Can't blame you, not after moving all weekend. Want to stop by the mall?"
"I can't. Mom's picking me up soon."
"Maybe tomorrow, then. Let me walk you back to your locker." Sylvie slung her backpack over her shoulder.
"Jessica, oh, good, you haven't left yet." Ms Landry joined the girls. "Am I interrupting anything?"
Now what? "Not really," Nasty replied.
"I was really impressed with your classwork today. Were you taking Home Economics at your old school?"
"Last time I took it was in Grade 8."
"Really? Do you cook often at home?"
"Sometimes." Get to the point already. You're not trying to find out what happens at home, are you?
"Is it possible to speak with your parents? I'd like to discuss this with them."
Fuck! "I suppose. Mom should be out front right now."
"Great! I'd love to meet her, unless you and Sylvia had something planned."
"Nothing planned, Ms Landry. Jessie, I'll see you tomorrow, okay?"
"Good night, Sylvia."
"Bye." Great. Just great. Anne should find someone else for this. I have enough trouble living one life. I don't need this one. "Miss Landry, Mom is going to wonder where I am."
"I'll walk with you to meet her."
I knew you were going to say that. Nasty held back a groan. She grabbed her notes and led her Home Ec teacher to the lobby. How am I going to explain this to Anne? First day of school, and a teacher already wants to talk with her. I didn't do a fucking thing either. Maybe she forgot or got stuck at work. As she reached the lobby, Nasty saw Anne enter. Shit. Nasty forced a smile on her face. "Mom!"
Anne walked over to meet Nasty and Landry. "Jess! How was your day?"
"Good, I guess. Mom, this is Miss Landry. She wants to speak with you." Nasty winced.
"Mrs. Hathaway, your daughter really knows her way around a kitchen. She says that she does the cooking from time to time."
"Please, call me Anne. Her father and I encourage Jessica to indulge her interests. She is a very bright girl."
What the fuck? "Um, Mom, I'm just going to get my coat."
Nasty left the adults to talk. Once around the corner and out of sight from them, she broke into a dash. She ran upstairs and reached her locker. I'm really going to get it. If I did that to Mom, I'd never hear the end of it. Nasty fumbled with her lock. She slammed her fist into her locker. Open already, damn it! Finally, the lock opened. Nasty put on her coat. There. I'm not half naked anymore. Who the hell designed these stupid uniforms?
Slowly, Nasty returned downstairs. She stopped on the landing to look out the window. A light snowfall started, a few snowflakes landing on the window and melting. Nasty looked down at her shoes. Great. I'm not dressed for this. With a sigh, she continued downstairs.
She found Anne standing alone, waiting for her. "Is everything okay?"
"Your teacher loved what you did in class. You never said that you could cook."
"It wasn't anything special."
"We should discuss this in the car. Got everything, Jess?"
Everything but my dignity. Nasty only nodded.
Nasty followed Anne to her car. Here it comes now, she thought as she sat down.
Anne started the engine and slowly drove away from the school. Once on the road, she said, "I didn't know you cooked."
"I should've told you sooner."
"We didn't know it'd come up. Did you cook a lot back home?"
"Whenever Mom couldn't." Don't make me wait, Anne. If you're going to chew me out, do it now.
"Your dad didn't cook?"
"He wasn't around."
"Your parents are divorced?"
"Something like that." More like Mom never knew who my father was.
"I'm so sorry to hear that."
"It happened when I was little."
"So, find out anything at school?"
She's not upset with meeting Landry? "I think I found Cinder and Ember."
"Already? That was fast."
"There's twin sisters in some of my classes," Nasty explained. "They just started going to Fieldson this year, and they both have red hair. Even their names are similar - Cynthia and Emily. So, you get Eagle to get them, and I can go back to work, right?"
"Do you have proof, Jess?"
"We need to show the police that they are Cinder and Ember. Anything that would help."
"How am I supposed to get that kind of proof?"
"Talk to them, get to know them, see if they act strangely, find out what their interests are."
The car ride was silent for several minutes. Nasty watched the street through the window, not noticing anything she saw. "Um, Anne, are we taking the same way back to the office?"
"We're not going back to the office." Anne eased the car into a turn. "You can't be undercover if you living in the Foundation's headquarters. We keep a few apartments around just for this purpose. You'll be getting your own apartment while you're on this assignment."
"My own apartment?"
"Just remember that you're still living with your parents. I'll drop by from time to time and whenever you need a parent. Just let me know when you'll be having friends over, so I can make an appearance. Sound fair?"
Anne pulled into the driveway of an apartment building and into its garage. When car came to a full stop, Nasty hopped out. The guys at Sewer would die to see what's here. Is that . . .? Damn, it is! What's a Harley doing here?
Anne pressed the call button for the elevator. "I've had your things sent over here. Some are still in boxes, but we're supposed to be still moving in. Have you thought about supper?"
"Supper? Not really, but I could cook if you want."
"Don't worry about it. We could eat out, or order in if you want. The elevator door opened. The two women stepped inside. Anne pressed the button for the twelvth floor. "Whatever you feel like."
"Ordering in sounds good. Do you have the time?"
Anne checked her watch. "Four-twenty. Why?"
Nasty grimaced. "A girl I met wants me to call her so she can get me caught up on all my classes."
"That's a good idea. Invite her over."
"But that would mean you'd have to stay with me while she's here." The elevator door opened. Nasty followed Anne out and down the hall. "And I'm supposed to have a father, too. She's going to see through all this. I'm no good at this, Anne."
Anne stopped at apartment 1204. She unlocked the door and showed Nasty inside. "Relax, Jess. I'll be here whenever you need me. You just have to call." She hung up her jacket. "I'll show you around the apartment. Do you want to hang up your coat?"
The tour, though brief, took longer than Nasty expected. The living room was fully furnished, but still had several boxes around. The attached dining room had a table with matching chairs. In the kitchen, Nasty checked the fridge and made mental notes of what to pick up from the store. She was then shown to her bedroom. Nasty's jaw dropped. The room was larger than her mother's living room in New York. Again, boxes were stacked in a corner, waiting to be unpacked. Last on the trip was the master bedroom, containing a queen-size bed and wood furniture.
"You should sleep in here from time to time, to make it look like you're not alone here. If you want, I can stay here tonight with you."
Nasty shrugged. "If you want."
"Are you sure you're not hot in your coat?"
"I'd like to change into something comfortable."
"Go ahead. The Foundation sent your clothes here. I think the movers unpacked some outfits, but most of your things are still in boxes. We should go shopping this week so we can decorate the place properly. Think about what you'd like in your room when you can. I'm going to make some coffee. Want any?"
"Sure." Nasty returned to her bedroom. She tossed her coat on her bed. Finally! I can get rid of this fucking uniform. She searched through the boxes, and found a black t-shirt and a pair of jeans. Nasty kicked off her shoes. Sitting down, she rubbed her feet, kneading out stiffness and sores that had accumulated during the day. How can Mom wear those things all day. Nevermind. Mom wears two-inch heels to go boozing on weekends. She scrunched her toes into the soft blue rug. Fuck the socks.
Nasty took off her uniform and flung it into a corner. She quickly slipped into her jeans, wishing they weren't so new. The t-shirt was next. I really should find the rest of my clothes. Nasty waved her hand to dismiss the thought. Later.
Padding out of her room with bare feet, Nasty caught the smell of freshly brewed coffee. Following the scent to the kitchen, she saw Anne pouring herself a steaming mug. "Want a cup?"
Despite the cold linoleum under her feet, Nasty strode to the counter. "Thanks." Anne filled a second cup. Nasty took it, and added a heap of sugar into the black nectar.
"Any news, LaShawna?" Chris asked as the young woman entered the apartment.
"Yeah. The girl doesn't want to be found." LaShawna dropped a box on the coffee table. The contents rattled loudly.
"You must have some idea of where Thirteen is."
"Do I look like I know what a white seventeen-year-old from New York does with her time? For all I know, she's out boosting cars."
Chris looked up from his newspaper. "Thirteen's profile shows no record of auto theft. A variety of assaults and disturbances, but she hasn't stolen a thing."
"She hasn't been caught," LaShawna corrected.
"Eagle would have turned her in by now."
"Who can tell with him. Besides, computer modelling of the new Peregrine shows a seventy-one percent match with the girl. Close enough for me. She's in Eagle's nest, and even Elaine wouldn't be stupid enough to go after her in there."
"The Coordinator wants solid proof, but I'm with you. The best proof would be to see Peregrine use her power. We just haven't seen her in action, yet."
"I wouldn't mind seeing some action, myself," John said as he entered the room. He took his bags of groceries into the kitchen. "I'm going to need a release soon."
"You know where the bathroom is." LaShawna started unpacking her box. She laid out unidentifiable twists of metal on the table.
"Chris, no Jane Does matching Thirteen's description showed up at the morgue or any hospital. No alties manifesting, either." John snapped his fingers. "That reminds me. Rumour going around about the Pyro Twins."
"File 39 a and b? What are they doing here?"
"Apparently, they're in town with their usual scam. Never really works for them here. They'd be better off performing a show at a strip club. More money in that."
A piece of metal launched from the table towards John. He reached out, and lightning bolted from his fingers. The scrap stopped dead in the air, then fell to the floor. Chris stood up. "Children, behave." He stepped in between LaShawna and John. "Save it for when we finish the mission."
[End Issue 23]
Next: Nasty's true colours