No Questions Please

"The story you're about to read... not all of us want you to know about it. Please keep it to yourself. Don't let anyone know what you learn, okay? We could get in trouble. Or killed."
A seemingly normal high school student's life is turned upside down. Then so is another's. And another's. Everything weird that's happening- it's connected. Deeper than anyone would've ever thought.

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4. Jake

I had actually been settling into this whole “adoption” thing rather well. My room had been set up and it looked great and I’d kept it clean for the past week or so we’d lived here. And my new “siblings” and I all got along pretty good. And I made a friend. He lived next door.

At first, I hadn’t really wanted to talk to Hunter, because he was tall and blonde and too perfect looking, like maybe he was popular and he wasn’t gonna want to talk to a new kid, y’know? But then we had started talking, and I’d found out that he was nice and funny and… kinda cute, to be honest. So we had been talking for a while.

Now, we- and by we, I mean Colette and I- were just sitting on the couch, watching the six o’clock news like we did every night. Colette and I had always thought it was good to keep up on what was going on around us. So we’d always watched the news every night to stay up to date. And in the morning, we would always listen to the radio. We usually didn’t pay attention to much, just got the general idea of what was happening and ignored the details. Because the news was important, but it was also great background noise for doing homework. Or checking Instagram. So that was what we were doing now, messing around on our phones while the evening news theme played at a low volume in front of us.

Our interest was peaked when we heard the name “Trevor Barnes.”

Colette set down her phone and I looked up from the sheet of notebook paper I had been doodling on. The reporter was describing a recent bombing on a storage building a little ways outside of town that belonged to Sparks Design, Inc. The reporter went on to describe how Sparks Design was a big industrial group here in town, and they were lead by innovator Rico Sparks, who was apparently a genius. And also probably pretty rich, I thought, if he was the head of this company. But Mr. Sparks was always designing new things, and apparently the building that had been destroyed was housing contents of his latest project. Mr. Sparks had reportedly said that the project was top secret and very few people knew about it. He was concerned about the security of his company because he believed that someone had directly targeted this building. He believed that Trevor Barnes, the alleged bomber, knew something he wasn’t supposed to-

Wait.

Trevor Barnes? That was our Trevor. That was Colette and I’s brand new adoptive father. And he was in on a super secret project? And working to destroy it?

Just as I had begun planning out how I was going to bring this up to him, the front door banged open and a young woman who looked to be about late twenties to early thirties burst through it in a flurry of intense panic. “Trevor! It’s all over the news!”

Trevor came down the stairs, taking them two at a time in a fashion that I had previously considered to be uniquely Gabe. He barely eyed Colette and I before turning to the woman and saying, “Becca, you think I don’t know that?”

Colette let out a sort of gasp from her spot next to me, a gasp in realization. She knew something I didn’t, and I was not a fan of that.

“What’s the agency gonna think-”

“Who cares what the agency thinks, what’s gonna happen to my kids? To my livelihood?” Trevor cut the woman- Becca- off, his eyes alight with frustration. Then, he turned away from her and put his head in his hands.

“Well you have to do something,” Becca said softly, almost ashamed.

“And what would you suggest? What the hell do you do when you get blamed for a bombing that involves one of the richest people in the country? What the hell do you do when you work for a covert agency that can prove you innocent, but that’s not an option because if you tell someone, then it won’t be so covert anymore? Becca, what the hell do you do when you have five kids on top of this? Five kids who you wouldn’t want anything to happen to, but this puts all of their lives in danger? What do you do, Rebecca, you tell me.”

“Trevor, chill,” Becca said firmly, placing her hands on her hips. “I know you’re stressed, but there’s a way out of this. There’s probably multiple ways out of this. You just have to relax and think about it.”

Becca turned away from Trevor and looked over at Colette and I. A spark of excitement came to her eyes. “You must be Jake and Colette.”

Finally, someone paid attention to us. Colette spoke before I did, saying, “I got the dress you left me. It fits really great, and it looks good on me too.”

Becca smiled, placing her hands over her heart. “Aww! I’m so glad.”

Trevor approached us, seeming much calmer than he had been a few seconds ago. “This is my sister, Becca.”

His sister. That made sense.

“Hi,” I said.

Becca smiled. “Hi.”

“Aunt Becca!”

I turned to look at the stairs behind me. Holly raced down them, ending with a triumphant jump off of the bottom three stairs, and pulled Becca into a tight hug. Lily followed behind her with much less enthusiasm.

“You’re back,” Gabe said, and I realized he had been sitting at the kitchen table this whole time.

“Yeah, and it looks like just in time,” Becca responded, having somehow managed to pry Holly off of her. “You’re aware of this mess?”

“Oh, yeah,” Gabe said without looking up from the book he was reading. “Kinda stupid but hey, at least it gives us a chance to test our critical problem solving abilities.”

Trevor shot Gabe a look out of the corner of his eye, but didn’t say anything. Maybe because Becca gave him a similar look.

“I mean, Gabe’s not necessarily wrong,” Lily said calmly. How was everyone so calm? Trevor had just bombed a building- maybe. Maybe not. I didn’t know what was going on at all. I wanted to ask, but it seemed serious, and I really didn’t want to interrupt and risk having Trevor or Becca get upset with me.

But Colette did it for me. “Um, excuse me, but what is going on?”

Trevor sighed. “I’m sorry, sweetie, I completely forgot that you guys were here. God, I’m so sorry you have to be a part of this disaster.”

“I’m sure we can push through it,” Colette said. “We’re just very confused.”

Trevor sat down in a chair across from me. I turned off the news. I didn’t want anything to distract us.

“Well, y’know how I work an office job?” Trevor began, and Colette and I nodded in unison. Trevor sighed, then continued. “Well, the thing is, I don’t.”

Okay. That much was understandable. But I was confused. Was Trevor a bad guy? Was Rico Sparks a bad guy? Was anyone a bad guy?

Colette and I nodded again. Trevor went on, “I work for an undercover agency, basically, that operates on its own to do, y’know, important secret missions and stuff. Kinda like the CIA or FBI.”

“So you’re a spy?” I asked.

Trevor shrugged. “Basically. And Becca works with me.”

“Not really with him, just for the same group,” Becca said. “He’s much higher up the ranks than I am.”

Trevor shook his head. “Unimportant. So is the whole agency thing, I just thought you guys should know that was going on.”

Unimportant? Whatever. That was one of the craziest things I had ever heard, and he just completely blew it off as unimportant. But I didn’t say anything.

“Anyway, the agency I work for could so easily prove I’m innocent,” Trevor said. “But, y’know, since it’s secret, having them do that would kinda defeat the purpose of it being secret. The issue is just… how did my name get out? Y’know? Like, who chose me, and elaborately set this up so I could be framed, and why me?”

Becca nodded thoughtfully, and so did Colette next to me. I wasn’t so sure. Him not telling us this until now made me a bit suspicious, especially because he had said it was unimportant and barely gave a description of what was even happening. But, again, I didn’t say anything. Instead, I stood up from the couch and looked at Trevor.

“I understand,” I said, having finally found my voice. “Not entirely, but it was kind of you to share and explain so we weren’t confused.”

Trevor cocked his head. “You sure you’re okay, Jake? You seem a little shaken.”

“I’m fine,” I assured him. “I just don’t think I should be a part of solving this problem. I don’t know enough about it to have any valuable input.”

“Jake-” Colette started, placing her hand on my arm. I looked at her and discreetly shook my head. I just wanted to leave.

I think Trevor could sense that, because he said, “Well, Jake, if you need to get some air, that’s fine. I understand.”

I nodded, relieved, and headed upstairs. When I reached my room, I opened the window and slid outside onto the roof to meet Hunter.

He was already there, sitting on the edge where he normally sat and looking around at all the buildings. I was never sure what he was thinking about. He was so quiet.

He smiled when he saw me, and after a few seconds of dragged out silence- typical with him, since he always thought for a while before he spoke- he said, “Bangin’ party at your house?”

I laughed. “No, absolutely not. Trevor’s friend came over with basically his entire family, and I guess Trevor’s sister lives with us too. But that’s okay, since she’s really nice.”

Hunter nodded, his eyes drifting away from mine and down to the street. Hunter had blue eyes that were like the sky. Just perfectly... blue.

“I wish I had a sibling,” he said. “It sounds fun.”

That kinda threw me off for a second. I guess I hadn’t realized Hunter was an only child. I really didn’t know much about him at all.

I knew a lot of times people with siblings would go off on their spiel to only children about how annoying siblings were and how they didn’t need them, but Colette and I were super close so I didn’t think it was appropriate to do that. Instead, I asked, “Why?”

Hunter shrugged, pausing like he usually did. Then he said, “I guess it gets lonely with just me and my mom at home.”

I started to ask him what happened to his dad, then immediately stopped the words. That was none of my business. There was silence again, then I decided to tell him, “Well, you can always come over to my house if you get lonely.”

Hunter smiled a little bit, one of those half open smiles that was involuntary. He said softly, “Thanks.” His eyes went down to his feet, in the purple Converse I had only seen him once without- at baseball tryouts, he had worn baseball shoes. Then they came back up to me, looking more silver than blue in the dim light from my room, and he said, “I hope we have some classes together.”

“Me too,” I agreed. “It’ll be nice to know someone besides Colette.”

Hunter nodded thoughtfully. “Yeah. Willard might be glad I’m leaving him alone.” He smiled again. He had an awkward smile, but it was cute. I liked it when he did that.

“Are you excited for tomorrow?” I asked.

Hunter shrugged again. “A little. I’m mostly nervous.”

I nodded. I was pretty nervous too. But I guess he was probably more nervous. He really only had his friend Willard that he talked about- he never mentioned anyone else. And he didn’t have any siblings either. Being alone in school was terrible. I hoped we got to hang out. And I really hoped we both made the team.

My phone buzzed in my pocket and I pulled it out, seeing it was an email from the school. Hunter had pulled out his phone too. I wondered if we had gotten the same email. I opened it.

“It’s the roster,” Hunter said, and I looked up at him. His eyes were fixed on mine. I could tell he was nervous, and so was I. Not just to find out if either of us made the baseball team, but because there would likely be some tension between us if one made it and the other didn’t. I couldn’t deal with having tension between me and pretty much my only friend.

“Okay, let’s check together,” I said.

Hunter showed me his crossed fingers. He gave another awkward smile and asked, “If you make it and I don’t, we can still be friends, right?”

“Right,” I confirmed. “And if you make it but I don’t, you won’t be so cool that we can’t still hang out, right?”

Hunter snorted. “I’ll never be cool anyway.”

“Whatever,” I said.

Hunte shifted in anticipation. “Read it already, I’m dying over here!”

“Okay, okay!” I said, putting my hands up in submission. I started to read off the list. “Uh… Anderson- Kamron Anderson, catcher.”

“Of course there’s an ‘a’ last name,” Hunter sighed.

“What do you mean?” I asked him.

“My last name starts with b,” Hunter said, “so it’s first a lot.”

I looked down at the list. “Is it Barton?”

“Yes!” Hunter exclaimed, leaning forward excitedly. “I’m on there?”

“Yep,” I said. “You’re the pitcher.”

“Aah!” Hunter put his hands on his head. “I can’t believe it!”

I wanted to hug him, and I probably would’ve if we weren’t separated by just enough space for a rather long fall. He was just so excited. His smile was bigger- not to mention less awkward- than I’d ever seen it, and his eyes were so wide, so bright with pure elation. If I didn’t make it, I was still excited for him.

“Okay, okay, keep reading,” Hunter urged. “I wanna see if I like anyone on the team.”

“Okay,” I said, scrolling down. “Collin Drake, first baseman.”

“He’s nice,” Hunter threw out casually.

“Jenson Duke.”

Hunter rolled his eyes at that one, but gave no comment.

“Elliott Fischer, left fielder.”

Hunter said, “Oh, he’s really sweet.”

“Kai Haines.”

Hunter rolled his eyes again, but this time he also scoffed in annoyance.

“Okay, what about Willard Lee, center fielder?”

“Willard!” Hunter slammed one hand onto the roof in excitement, and the clanging echoed off of the metal. He blushed a little, adding more quietly, “That’s my friend.”

“What about Jacob Marquis?” I asked.

“He must be new,” Hunter said. “I’ve never met him before.”

I couldn’t help the smile spreading across my face. “Hunter.”

Hunter looked at me. “What?”

“What do you think Jake is short for?” I asked.

“Oh my God, that’s you!” Hunter exclaimed, placing one hand to his forehead. “I’m so stupid. Congratulations, though!”

“Looks like we both made it,” I said.

“Yeah,” Hunter agreed.

“Air-five,” I said, holding one hand up.

Hunter smiled awkwardly as usual and went through the motion of swinging his hand toward mine.

“You missed,” I told him.

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