LIFE IS DIFFERENT
Unfortunately, as Saturday turned out to be a disaster, their plans to go to BAAF didn't work out. Frank was sitting in his secret room impatiently waiting for Lina to come. Their new precaution after Frank's unfortunate meeting with the Psyche was ' stay in the Secret room no matter what'. This of course was meant for his safety as Joe had already caught him too close to Lina's house. Also, Frank was worried about Lina's safety. Thnaks to God's grace Valder did not know where he was hiding otherwise, Lina would have been in danger and he would never forgive himself if anything happened to her on his account. He already felt guilty for trying to kill her yesterday, he didn't need to add something else to his list.
At that moment the secret door opened. Frank looked at his watch, it was exactly 5 :00 a.m. Lina true to her word had punctually arrived.
"The coast is clear. We can leave." she said smiling.
"Great then !" Frank said and he pulled his hood over. It was then he noticed that Lina was not wearing her jacket over her usual attire.
"Aren't you wearing your jacket ?" he asked
"No. It would seem too suspiscious if two teenagers wore jackets and cooling glasses and people might notice." she answered serenely as Frank zipped his to the neck.
"Good thinking." he commented. ." So, you ready ?"
Frank smiled. They had already discussed the plan yesterday night. Both of them would go under the pretext of doing a project for Bayport University. In the middle, Lina would slip off to do some snooping. Lina stepped out first into the chilled air and Frank wondered if she felt cold, but soon shook away that thought as she started walking and did not show any sign of discomfort. After he was sure that Lina had walked a fair distance he got out through the back door and walked on the oppsite side of the street. Fortunately for them no one was in sight. When they had reached a fair distance and were closer to the BAAF. Frank crossed the road and walked to Lina . He quickly put on his cooling glasses and went over to the main gates.
"It's huge." Frank commented and Lina nodded.
To Frank's surprise there seemed to be more students than he had expected to see early in the morning. Anyhow he maintained his composure and searched the huge grounds for any sign of archers.
"There ..." Lina said as she pointed out to a couple of girls practising on targets.
Frank and Lina went upto them. None of the girls there seemed as old as or older than Frank and Lina and that was a great relief to the both of them as they did not want to give answers about their made up project work if any Bayport - U students happened to be there.
As they approached closer, the girls stopped their practise and turned to look at them.
Frank spoke first "Can we see your teacher ?"
The girls looked at each other and then back at the two of them.
"Which coach ?" one asked , Frank noticed she had a recurve bow and guessed she might be an advanced archer.
"Can we meet Coach Claymont ?" Lina asked suprising Frank with a name.
" He's at the junior's level in the west side." another girl who was about fifteen years old answered.
"Thanks." Frank said, and he and Lina proceeded towards the Junior Archer's training ground. There, Frank noticed a man in his mid fifties giving instructions to set of young boys. He had caramel coloured hair and hazel eyes.
"Now nock the arrow, pull it, focus ...and... fire !." he said and when all the arrows hit the target board he encouraged the young boys " Excellent ! In a few more days you kids will be hitting the centre."
"Really ?" Frank whispered to Lina.
"Its called encouragement . " Lina whispered back.
"I wonder how many kids actually hit the centre in a week." Frank said.
Suprisingly Lina's answer was "Quite a few." He had expected her to say none. Coach Claymont turned to the youngsters and the moment he laid eyes on Frank he said " There is nothing in this world I hate more than jelousy and boys with stupid cooling glasses."
"Uh... I have an eye infection sir." Frank said thinking quickly.
"Oh ! I guess its alright then." Coach Claymont said laughing. "So who are you two youngsters anyway ?"
"We are from Bayport - U , sir, we are doing an interview with the best coaches in Bayport. You happened to be the best Coach in Archery, also considering the fact that you have sent many of your Archers to the Olympics. We were wondering if you could spend some time with us." Frank said automatically.
"You do flatter me young man." he said laughing "but I'm getting old for interviews and everything."
"Please. For us." Lina said and Mr. Claymont looked at her.
"Have I met you before young lady ?" he asked her.
"No Mr Claymont." Lina replied in a bit of a suprise. To Frank it seemed she was taken aback by the question.
"Its just your eyes seem very familiar to me, anyway , never mind I'm just an old man loosing his mind. So, your interview, You fire away your questions while we are on our way to my office."
Frank nodded. As Mr. Claymont was finishing his class, giving the kids a few instructions, he leaned over to Lina.
"Do you know him ?"
"No. " was her reply.
"You sure ?"
"Was never interested in archery."
Frank dropped the conversation as soon as Mr. Claymont approached them.
"We shall move shall we ?" he said gestured the duo to a very spacious building.
"How long have you been working here Mr. Claymont ?" Frank asked
"Thirty years. For thirty years archery has been my food and life. I started at the age of 25 as junior trainer under Coach Mc Connery."
Frank stopped dead in his tracks "Coach Mc Connery ?"
"Yeah." apparently Mr. Claymont hadn't noticed the suprise in his voice. "A brilliant Coach ! Then he retired. His son did not follow his footsteps though. Became this huge business man in New Orleans. "
"And you got promoted to Coach Mc Connery's position ?" Lina asked to avoid an awkward silence.
"Not so easy child. After Coach Mc Connery, Coach Santiago took over for three years and then coach Melanie Harper for another three years. After that I was appointed as senior coach. "
"Melanie Harper was an Olympic medal winner, right ?" Frank asked having read about her somewhere.
"Right you are. Brilliant lady, and wise as an owl. She is the head administrator of BAAF and Phoenix Psychiatric Organization." answered Mr. Claymont.
The word 'psychiatric' was enough to make Frank lose his temper. But held it together.
"So, Mr. Claymont how do you like your students to be ?" Frank asked composing himself.
"Disciplined. Sincere. Loyal and Funny if they can help it." Mr. Claymont said and grinned.
"So do you teach both boys and girls or only boys ?" Lina asked, and Coach Claymont's face suddenly became thoughtful. According to Frank it was the 'wise look.'
"Hmm. Before when I was the Senior Coach here, BAAF used to have four teams. It was easy that way to take care of the children dividing the work between four Senior teachers. Two teams were for boys Two teams were for girls. Artemis, Amazons, Appolo and Orion." he paused for a while before saying "It went well; there was good competition and BAAF's Archery games between the four houses became a great thng like a festival kind."
Frank remembered seeing something like that when he was kid in the newspaper. He recalled that there used be five whole pages of description about the games, but he had never paid much attention.
"Some years later it became an issue_"
"what issue ?" Lina asked
"Well, at some point of time there was a small enemity between Appolo and Orion. I was incharge of Appolo then and Ms. Harper was incharge of Artemis. Appolo and Artemis helped each other and Amazon remained neutral. Soon, this enemity became a huge issue six years ago. So after that the management decided to keep only two teams Appolo and Artemis. Girls from Amazons blended without problem, but Orion they quit as a whole. But it was our fault things went to that extent."
"Why ? Why did it become BAAF's fault ?" Frank asked curiously.
Out of the corner of his eye, Frank noticed that Lina had tactfully slipped away under the pretext of talking to a few students. Frank felt proud of her. She is brilliant he thought. And then snapped his attention back at Mr. Claymont as he answered.
"Ha ! that ! We recognised the signs of enemity quite early. But we mostly ignored it. Just enemity between two friends is all we thought. But in the end it turned out to be tragic."
"But why didn't you try to make peace between them atleast the Orion Coach should have done something, right ?"
"We couldn't, because it was like dishonouring a great person. Orion was proud of the name, but in the end the gargoyle did the vile act." Mr. Claymont said in a kind of remorseful anger.
"Mr. Mc Connery's grandson ! He did it ."
Suddenly Frank did not know if he felt angry or happy. He contained his emotions.
" What did he do ?" Frank asked trying his best not to appear like a cop asking questions.
"Its too painful son. Besided it doesn't help your interview."
Frank immediately dropped the subject as Mr. Claymont lead him into his office on the third floor.
Lina kept wandering the halls for half an hour under the pretext of asking questions and searching for David ( Supposed to be Frank. Can't use his real name. ) Soon she reached the place she was looking for. If Frank wanted answers, this is the likely place. The locker room. It looked different she thought as she entered into the place where the archers kept their bows and arrows. She searched the different lockers. 'Appolo 19' where is it ? she kept thinking. Her eyes fell upon a few dusty lockers in the far end and she kept moving past the Appolo lockers in descending order, keeping a look out for Appolo 19. Finally she found it. It was just as she had remembered it. She quickly scrolled the password and unlocked the locker. Not a single thing was missing. 'Good !' she thought and swung it back shut. Now to search for Frank's information. At first she thought of going to Orion 91, but then realized that it would be an obvious place to do a search. So she turned on her heel to Appolo 91. She found Appolo 91 with no difficulty. Guessing the password was an easy job. The door gave a creaking sound and opened. Lina quickly rummaged through the locker taking her time. She found the arrow that Frank wanted. As she was about to close the door, a huge jar caught her eyes.
"It looks familiar." she said to herself as she inspected it. Suddenly realization dawned upon her.
"That cheat !" she cursed and took the jar. She didn't need to open it. She already knew what was inside it. She could feel the liquid shaking inside the jar, and old memories rushed back. With a sudden urge she opened the lid and saw the red liquid in it most of it had dried up, but that didn't prevent her from feeling sick. She quickly closed the lid and put it inside her bag that she had brought along. She looked at her watch it was five minutes to seven. She knew she had to get out before the next session came to the locker. Slowly she locked the locker room and went unseen and blended with the small population walking in the corridors. Soon enough Frank came down the stairs from her opposite side and he showed her thumbs up. They reached the main gates and crossed the road. Frank put his hoodie up as the regular walkers had already started coming by, and the streets were getting populated again. When they reached the entrance to Walker's street Frank suddenly turned around and pulled Lina back with him.
"What happened ?" she asked like a five year old asking.
"Joe." he whispered.
sure enough when Lina sneaked a glance. She saw the younger Hardy pacing the street.
"What is he doing here ?" Frank muttered to himself.
"Probably he is here to see Con."
"I don't know" Frank said annoyed.
"You are in double trouble." Lina said smiling
Frank turned to look around and saw Tony and Phil.
"You mean triple ." Frank said. "we have to hide."
"You must hide. I'll go distract them."
Frank looked at her unconvinced.
"What will you tell them ?"
"I went for jog." Lina answered
"With a bag ?" Frank whispered raising his eyebrows.
Lina looked thoughtful.
"Oh ! no ! They're coming this way." Frank said as he sneaked a look. He quickly pulled Lina near the arc that said in block letters WALKER' S STREET and pushed Lina against the wall. Her attire was too much of a give away. He had to do something to cover them both. As he felt Joe, Tony and Phil coming towards them, he moved closer towards Lina. Lina backed into the wall. The trio had actually reached the arc and he moved still closer to her, giving her almost no space to breathe.
Frank froze. He knew it was Joe's voice. His heart kept beating fast. How could he get out of this. How could he pretend he didn't hear the call. He cursed himself. He heard Joe's voice again.
"Excuse me, I was wondering if you could help me find a Mrs. Harrington."
Frank's heart started beating faster. Harrington ? Oh ! My God Joe had seen the list. 'Curse you Joe.! I'm trying to save your life and you are gambling it away.' he thought
"Excuse me." Joe said again.
And Frank inched closer towards Lina making her extremely uncomfortable. Their noses touched.
"uh... hello" Tony said and Frank felt a hand on his back. He froze. He couldn't ignore that. There was only one thing he could do, If he had to survive this present situation. That is if Lina didn't kill him first. He quickly pressed his lips into Lina's surprising her. At first he thought she would push him away, but thankfully she didn't. So he kissed her again and again.
"You know what, lets just go. A couple of pathetic lovers." Phil commented and the three of them walked away from the arch. The moment Lina felt that they had left. She pushed Frank away, but Frank held her hands, and whispered into her ear.
"The others are opposite to us. Callie and the others are there."
Frank could sense Callie looking from where he was standing.
On the opposite side, Callie was watching the couple kiss. She was filled with memories with Frank.
"You know, Frank and I used to be like that. That couple seems so happy. They remind me of Frank and me." Callie said to Vanessa as they were in the car.
Vanessa laid a hand on her best friend. "I understand Callie, but if it makes you any better, that guy over there could rather kiss a wall, because his girl doesn't seem to be kissing back at all."
The two girls laughed , and suddenly Vanessa said "I wonder where Lina is ?
"The guys will call her I guess."
"Hey ! any luck guys ?" Vanessa asked as she saw Joe and the others approaching her car.
"Nope. Just a pair of love sick people." Tony commented disgusted.
"What about Lina ?" Callie asked
"Con told us she wasn't back yet from her jog at the beach." Joe answered.
"Alright we'll call her later along with Biff and Chet." Vanessa said and the car took off.
Back where Frank and Lina was, Frank kissed Lina deeper when he felt Callie was looking in his way. He stopped only when he heard the engine start and take off. The two of them walked to Lina's house: Frank with relief flooding his face. He looked at Lina and saw no expression what so ever on her face. He wondered what she was thinking. Surely she understood that it was the need of the moment. But then a voice in his head said, 'you also wanted to.' He looked at Lina again : No expression. Did she even acknowledge the fact that I kissed her ? Frank thought. Why didn't I feel guilty ? I kissed her in front of Callie. Why didn't she feel guilty ? Then a thought occurred to him 'Do I love Lina ?' That explains the concern I have for her. And besides she is beautiful in her own way.
They soon reached the door. He looked at Lina : No expression. Frank recalled that when he had kissed her, Lina hadn't kissed him back even once. What was that supposed to mean ?
They went into the house. Lina locked the door. Then unable to bear the awkard silence, Frank started " Lina I'm extremely sorr_Ow ! " Frank didn't get to finish his sentence, the next minute he was rubbing his cheek which had turned red. Lina had slapped him really hard.
"Much better." Lina said serenely, and Frank was astonished.
"Much better ! I kiss you and that's all you've go to say ?"
"Yes." came the reply.
Before Lina could enter the dining room Frank grabbed her by the shoulders and looked into her eyes.
"I love you." he said, searched Lina's eyes for any sign of surprise but found none.
Lina just looked at him amused and laughed.
"I said, I love you. You don't laugh when someone confesses their love." Frank said incredulously.
Lina laughed even harder. "I don't see why you have to say that."
Frank gave an incredulous expression, that clearly said 'What ?'
"Anyway, I love you too Frank." Lina said
and Frank moved to her, but stopped when she held up her hand. Don't try it again, I won't hesitate to kick you this time."
"But you said you love me too." Frank countered.
"As a brother." Lina said very firmly. "You don't kiss your sister like that Frank. You can't do it. And you must understand that there are different kinds of love. Just because you fall in love with someone, whom you decide is your life partner does not mean you are required to care less or hate everyone else around you. You love your mother, you can't kiss your mother like that, what would you have done if I was your biological sister ? Would you kiss me like that ? You love Joe. You love Vanessa. Love is of different kinds. You love your Mom, dad, brother , friends, sister.'I love you' is not a girlfriend only phrase. You can say that to your mom, your sister, brother, dad and friends. True love need not be always kissing and taking a girl out on dates or buying her a gift on her birthday. True love can also be found when a mother loves her child, when a friend is there to hear you or when a sister is jealous that her brother has a girlfriend and when a brother sacrifices his entire happiness for the well- being of another sibiling." Lina said. The last line was said in a whisper.
"Think about it Frank." Lina said " I am your sister. Not your girlfriend. Callie is; you can kiss her and treat her the way you want. But you can't do that to me.I am not some girl who is cheap enough to fall for another guy who just happened to kiss me. Especially a guy who is my best friend's lover and a guy whom I respect and treat as a brother. I am your sister and will be only your sister and friend. Nothing more and nothing less.
With that Lina shut the back door and left leaving a very amazed, astounded, bewildered and enlightened Frank.
A/n - I really don't know how many of you thought of kicking me when I wrote this. Anyway let me know what you think. Thank you for all the reviews, follows and favourites.