Gadgets & People: Part V

Gadgets & People

Part V: Lies & Secrets

Only a minute after Jaeger bolted upstairs, Allen and Sage started shouting everyone just sort of stood paralyzed save for Caroline who rushed upstairs to sort things out. A month in and she’d sort of defaulted to being the class’ mum.

I decided to go check what what happening myself only for Jaeger to bump right into me as I arrived in the doorway of Sage and Allen’s room. Behind him I could see Allen on the ground with blood pouring out of his nose.

“What did you do?” I asked, eyes wide. He didn’t answer, ignoring me instead. He went into our room and began throwing clothes into a bag. “What are you doing?”

“Going somewhere for a while.” He answered bitterly.

“Did Mr. Martin really give you permission to do that?”Although I still didn’t know the exact details, Jaeger had certain restriction applied to him we didn’t have. It was a safe bet he was on some sort of probation.

“Do I strike you as someone who cares about getting permission from some washed up hero?”

“Okay, what’s really going on Jaeger?”

“Nothing, I’m fine-”

“You’re clearly not.” I interrupted him.

He let out a sigh. “You won’t understand, just go back downstairs to your nice, normal family.” He mumbled.

I was getting real tired of his shit. We were supposed to be friends but for the past month it’d seemed like I was the only one who performed any kind of emotional labor while he’d just shut me off.

“You don’t know anything about me or my supposed ‘normal’ life and family, so how about you don’t just presume how my life is!” I snapped. He had that rotten attitude where it was like nobody but him ever had problems. “And maybe someone would understand you if you didn’t always push me, Vanessa or anyone who tries to be nice to you away.”

“You’re right, I don’t know anything, sorry. I need some fresh air.” He dumped everything on the bed and practically ran out of the room.

It took me a moment to react. Had that been an actual apology? It had sounded insincere…

After taking a moment to wake up from my stupor, I chased after him outside but couldn’t find him, even looking over the nearby school grounds and calling out his name. After an hour of looking with no success, I resigned myself to going back inside alone when my step-mum sent me a text saying they were

“Where’s Jaeger?” Caroline asked.

“Not coming.” I answered. “He probably wants to be alone, no way we’ll find him.”

She nodded and invited us all to the massive dinner table covered in food which had had a few more folding tables added around it. Although the main meal was meat, Caroline made sure to point out all the many sides were vegetarian.

An hour after dinner, Mr. Martin popped in to inform us that the gate would be closing soon and that taxis were waiting to bring the parents back to their hotel but they were welcome to come back the next day for a tour of the school and parent-teacher meetings.

“Guess I’ll see you all tomorrow.” I said, giving a hug to my family.

“You will.” Amrita said. “And if you’re not calling me mum by then, you’ll be in big trouble young man.”

“Yes Am— Mum.”

“Better.” She said, arms crossed. “Love you son, don’t forget that.” She wrapped her arms around my neck and hugged my tightly.

After they left, most of the people went to bed in short order. Sage came to me and asked about Jaeger but I had no answer. However they also informed me that Allen had almost lost control and blown up the house thanks to Jaeger’s assault… I tried to sleep too but I just laid awake for a half hour, my brain all too aware of the empty bed opposite mine. He’d packed a bag… Was he planning to run away?

I tried to brush the thoughts off, going downstairs and making myself a cup of tea.

“What are you doing still up?” Charlie asked, coming out of her room and grabbing a glass of water.

“Just being worried about Jaeger.”

“You shouldn’t be, he’s a butt.”

“I’m worried he’s not coming back.”

“He will be.”

“How do you know that?”

“I stole his student file, it was all redacted.” She took a long sip. “Either he’s forced to be here because he’s legally obligated to be like Allen is or he’s here under some witness protection kind of deal.” She said with a shrug. “Either way, he can’t go far.”

“I guess…”

“Go back to sleep Sanjay.” She said, going back to her own room.

I didn’t listen to her advice though. Staying up and trying to distract myself with my tablet but failing miserably.

It was past midnight when the front door opened, Jaeger coming in wet to the bone, his clothes sticking to his body. Immediately I felt relieved. Jaeger was an endless source of frustration, but in some weird way I’d grown used to his presence, the idea of losing him felt wrong.

“Midnight snack?” He asked, seeing me.

“I stayed up waiting for you.” I answered, crossing my arms. As much as I was relieved to see him, he was still a massive pain.

“I’m fine.”

“You’re really going to stick to that line?”

“I just needed to get out of the house, get some fresh air.” I could tell it wasn’t the whole truth. But he had come back… He walked to the sink and got himself a glass of water.

“Thanks to you we almost had a live radiation bomb go off.” I told him. “Caroline and Sage got Allen calmed down though.”

“Wait, what?” His eyes narrowed to the realization.

“Allen’s power is radiation based.”

“Shit,” he muttered. “Well, he was asking for it, what he did-”

“What exactly did he do?” I cut him off. “Sage said they were just arguing.” I hadn’t heard the exact nature of their spat or what had caused Jaeger to hit Allen and Sage had kept that part to themselves.

“It’s not important,” He said. “Sorry,” There was a pause. “For earlier.” He then clarified.

“What happened Jaeger?”

“It’s not important.” He insisted, his tone getting harsher.

“It clearly was.”

“I just-” He stopped. “Look, you’re better off not knowing anything about me. That’s why I’ve not told you or anyone else anything.”

“That’s a terrible excuse.” I hesitated for a second before reaching out to him, placing a hand on his shoulder. “You can trust me.” However he pulled away.

“It’s late, we should get some sleep.” He said before heading upstairs without waiting for me to answer.

I followed him, finding him already under the cover, back to me and cover over his head. He couldn’t be any more closed than that. I muttered a goodnight before lying down in my own bed. He didn’t answer me.

***

I didn’t sleep that night, drifting in and out at times, but not truly finding rest. In the opposite bed, Jaeger twisted and turned, his mouth muttering the occasional word. One of them came up over and over; Ace.

But what was it; a person, a place, an object?

“No!” Jaeger suddenly screamed, throwing me wide awake.

Before I could process that had happened, he rushed out of the room and down the stairs. I pushed my covers away and followed him. He stood outside in the garden, right by the pool. His body was covered in cold sweat, his hair flattened to his head. He saw me and turned away but I could see his whole body shaking.

“Jaeger, what’s wrong?” I asked, taking a few slow steps toward him.

“Nothing I can’t handle.” He said, still not facing me.

I paused… What was I supposed to do? He clearly didn’t want my help…

“You were talking in your sleep.” I said after a moment.

“Just forget whatever you heard.”

“Who’s Ace?” The mere mention of the word caused Jaeger’s hands to clench into fists.

“He’s no one.” He said, confirming it had been someone. “Just some dick I knew.”He said, tensing even further. There was far more than he was telling me. “I need to go shower.”

He rushed past me and I didn’t follow him this time. He wasn’t going to give me any more, I knew it. But now I had a clue, the beginning of something…

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