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Gray Eyes and Garbage Bins

Silence seemed to evade the night. Okay, so it's an overly poetic way to say that dogs were barking, music was blaring and tires were screeching—but you've got to make some improvement when you're crouched behind a overflowing garbage bin at two seventeen in the morning. I know what your next question is going to be, so don't bother asking. I don't know what I was doing behind an overflowing garbage bin either—well, not exactly anyway.

I'm just your average sort of sixteen-year-old guy; shaggy blond hair, dark skin, hazel eyes…not that you care what color my eyes are, unless you’re a girl. Not there's anything wrong with being a girl, its just that they have this weird fetish with eye color—I mean, come on, who notices what color eyes a person has, besides me, and girls.

Anyway, I think I was trying to tell what I was doing behind a garbage bin at two seventeen in the morning. Well, it may not surprise you to learn that I was hiding there. So yes, technically, I did know why I was crouched behind a garbage bin—I just didn't know why I was hiding there in the first place. Unfortunately, since I've strung you along this far, you probably want the rest of the story, so, here goes.

I was walking along an alleyway when something told me to get out of sight. The garbage bin was the closest cover, so I proceeded to dive behind it. at first, the alley remained unnervingly quiet. I waited, counting the seconds…

There you go, happy? Now you know the rest of the story and you can go listen to Justin Biebers, or whoever happens to be "in" at the moment on your precious I-pod and forget all about me like the good kid you are.

Hellloo, didn't I just tell you to scram? Yes I did, so go. Just to let you know, I'm strumming my fingers impatiently right now, waiting for you to leave. Fine, you want to know the truth? I'm not your average sixteen year old, obviously. In fact, I'm not your average person at all. There. I said it. Happy? Obviously not, or you would be gone by now.

I am sighing deeply now, in case you wondered, and there should be a pregnant pause inserted for those of you who like to be dramatic. Okay, settle down, get comfortable, go pop some popcorn, and I'll tell you exactly why I was behind a garbage bin at two seventeen in the morning.


***

I paced restlessly around the interior of the plain, gray room. There was nothing in the room other than a few lumpy chairs and a plastic coffee table with a bedraggled reading lamp sitting precariously on its top. However, it was a mystery to me why the lamp was even there, as no one unlucky enough to be in the room was going to be reading.

As I paced past the lamp and table for the third time, the door on the other side of the room burst open, slammed into the wall and bounced back gently. The woman coming through the doorway pushed it out of her way again, then closed it behind her.

She crossed her arms and glared at me. "Well? Why did you fail this time?" She asked, arching an eyebrow and indicating that I should sit.

I did so, trying to look nonchalant. In truth, the inside of my mouth had gone rather dry and my foot seemed to have developed a nervous tick. "Well ma'am," I stopped and licked my lips, trying to decide how to word my next sentence so I didn't spend the next five nights on FP duty, (I'll tell you about that later).

"Umm, after the attack we were able to trace the rebel's car to the nearest highway and follow it for quite some distance," I looked up, hoping to get some sort of approval for this, but the blue eyes were as cold as ever. "Anyway, after following the car for approximately fourteen minutes, G2 and H7 received information on another car and took off after it, leaving me alone."

"I know all this already, Mr. Chance. What I want to know is why you didn't catch that car."

I attempted to laugh but it came out more like a donkey's bray. I ditched the attempt to lighten things up and plowed right into the thick of it. "Well, shortly after G2 and H7 abandoned me I was forced to pull over by a cop, who demanded to see my driver's license, which I did not have, so he had to write me a ticket." I rushed through the last part in one breath, and then stared nervously at the woman.

"And by the time you were off again, the car was long gone," she said, her face betraying nothing. I risked a slight nod. "Would it be worth asking why you pulled over for someone as minor as a police officer, or for that matter, why you didn't have your driver's license in the first place?"

I swear the temperature in the room dropped a degree just then, because I suddenly had goose bumps. "Ma'am, in truth I believe the officer was a rebel in disguise and had muddling abilities."

The woman's face remained expressionless, her tone dangerously even, "I thought we hired people like you for exactly that reason—you can fight muddling and other such things."

I tried to look demure and certain of myself at the same time, but I'm not sure it worked out so well. "I'm not sure what went wrong, ma'am." Well, that wasn't exactly true, I knew exactly what had happened; I hadn't been paying attention and the muddling had just snuck up on me. But I couldn't tell her that, could I?

"Fine, Mr. Chance. I believe you have earned yourself two days of FP duty for negligence on the job, and three days for failing to tell us that you failed your driver's test." Oops.

I stood up as she left the room and saluted respectfully, waiting until the door closed firmly behind her before sinking dejectedly back into the lumpy chair. Great, just great—five full, miserable nights of Fire Patrol. For starters, you should know that it's not what it sounds like. First, you're transported to a place that has had reports of rebel activity—which is usually the bad part of town—then you walk around all night, looking for suspicious activity, which is why it's called fire patrol, the idea being that you catch the fire (the rebels) before it starts.

The only problem is, you spend half your time walking around aimlessly, and the other half avoiding the gangs that seem to hang around. It is good practice, sure, but no one's ever found a rebel on FP duty. Oh, and you're not paid, most definitely, not paid.

I spent the rest of the afternoon in a stormy huff—and by the end of the day I had pretty much blamed anyone and everyone for getting me five days of FP duty. It didn't help.

At exactly ten thirty two, I found myself in an utterly unnoteworthy part of Los Angeles; streets littered with trash, sidewalks cracked and punks hanging around in tight clumps in front of dilapidated buildings. Yep, pretty much just your average backstreet scene. I spent the next few hours wandering around, looking for people doing something suspicious—unfortunately that included pretty much everyone within three miles of where I was. Right when I thought I was going to die of boredom, two seventeen rolled around. You know what happened then, so I'll save myself the trouble of telling you again and pick up where we left off...

I waited, counting the seconds. We were taught to count to thirty before moving from hiding—I got to twenty-nine, which was when the garbage bin I was hiding behind flew up in the air and landed nine and a half feet away.

I stood up and tensed, looking for my opponent in the dim light of the alley. But there was no one there. Something creaked in the other direction and I twirled around, but once again, I found nothing. There was a slight cough to my other side. I turned back slowly, I knew that cough, and I knew who came with it.

"Chance, just as slow as ever I see," the girl said, hands on hips.

"Leah." I didn't say anything else; I was trying to get over how much she'd changed since I'd last seen her. Granted, that was two years ago, but still. Her hair was no longer blonde, but dark and short, and she'd grown. I looked at her eyes, hoping to see them still bright green, but they were gray.

She snorted. "You'd think I'd get more than that after two years, but I guess you can't expect anything from a traitor." I winced inwardly; at least one thing was the same—she was still as bitter as ever. "Look, I didn't come here to chit chat about you and your evil mind," I started to object that I hadn't been doing the chit chatting, and I definitely didn't have an evil mind, but thought better of it. "Tell your boss that she's had her chance, we're done playing nice."

I nodded dumbly, trying to think of something to say that would keep her here long enough for me to cast a net around the alley. I was sure that she would see reason if she would listen to the recruiting officer…

"Don't even think about it Chance; I'm not joining you or your precious 'peace keepers'. Just tell them what I said." And she was gone. I had to admit, she was better than when we last met, I had almost got her that time—almost.

I sank back against the wall. Every time I managed to forget where I came from, Leah popped back up to remind me. Those green eyes haunted me in my sleep—only they weren't green any more. They were gray.



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