The feedback I have gotten on this story is astounding. Really, guys, you blow me away. I appreciate feedback so very much because it lets me know what I'm doing well and what needs to be worked on in the revision.
mecaka: Character development has always been something I struggle with, so I LOVE hearing I actually did it right for once! And thankyou. Glad I came up with a good story!
CassBasher: Thankyou, thankyou. I sincerely hope you love spies after this one.
Guest (no name D:): Thankyou so much! I really do love the idea for this story. And I hope this update was worth the wait.
jj8489: Thankyou! Here's an update for you!
AFractionOfMySoul: I love your username, firstly. Secondly, thankyou. And thirdly, I intentionally left out a lot on purpose, so hopefully that does end up working out when I choose to bring important aspects in. Thankyou so much!
Katie-Maude: Beginnings are my other weakness, so thankyou for that! Glad I finally came up with a... Decent beginning.
leavemeialone: I just love Mia and Tyler. And Shane is... Well I'll let you read more and see what I mean. He's actually a pretty fun character to write about because he's a little complex. Like all serial killers, right? Thankyou so much! Enjoy this chapter!
And everyone who read, followed, favorited this story - Thankyou so very much. Hope you enjoy what's coming your way!
And I'm sorry the update took so long. Apparently the beginning of summer was full of... Work.
Chapter 2 - Mia Hensley
I had been on the CIA's private jet for less than an hour and I had already gathered that Agent Tyler Matthews was a fidgeter. He constantly fidgeted in his seat and if he wasn't doing that he was tapping his foot on the ground. I took amusement in this fact because I was a fidgeter too. Though, my outlet to that was being a surgeon. There was always something to do as a surgeon and I loved that. I always had patients to check on or patients coming into the emergency room. I was always, always moving. I sighed. Would I ever get to do this again?
Agent Matthews looked up from his pile of papers. "Everything alright?" he asked. He had barely said anything to me in the last hour. Which was fine. I had nothing to say to him. I knew it wasn't his fault I was in this situation - it was Shane's. But I was angry and looks like Agent Matthews was the only one around.
"Fine," I replied quickly, folding my legs up into my seat. "When will we get there?" 'There' being San Diego. Which was about as far as they could've gone from Virginia, but I guess that was the point.
"A few more hours," Agent Matthews replied. He looked at me thoughtfully for a moment.
"What?" I asked irately. I was getting really tired of people giving me looks and not speaking to me. This situation was horrible. No one needed to tell me that, but I wasn't a pity case. I was an adult and I wanted to know what was going on.
"Nothing," he replied, looking back down on his papers.
"Really? Because when Agent Perry gave me that look, I was put into witness protection. What's next?" I snapped. I knew I sounded immature and rude. Trust me. I knew how I sounded. But I couldn't help myself when I was angry. Shane was accustomed to that, since he did the same thing. My heart seized for a moment like it had every time I thought about him in the last twenty four hours.
Agent Matthews looked unaffected, which made me more irritated. Did he never react to anything? "I'm looking over your case file and then we can go over your cover. Is that alright?" He asked tiredly.
"My cover?" I repeated.
"Yes," he began, tapping his foot again. "You can't be Mia Anderson. Shane will find you in a heartbeat. So we make you someone else." My eyes widened as Agent Matthews looked back down at his papers. I watched him as he ran his hand through his tousled blonde hair.
I looked out the window at the clear blue sky. We were too high in the air for any of my problems to bother me here. I snapped my head back to Agent Matthews as I heard him slide a folder across the table. The tab read "Mia Hensley". Well. At least I get to keep my first name. At this point, any part of myself I could hold onto was fantastic.
"You're a nurse from Utah," Agent Matthews began, opening the folder. I looked down at the file. From the looks of the document that had to be at least ten pages - the CIA left nothing half-done. They had seamlessly created an entirely different person. Though it didn't tell anyone who I was. I always thought it was impossible to nail someone's personality down on a piece of paper, though the CIA made a valiant effort.
I skimmed the pages. Apparently Mia Hensley had three older siblings and went to Iowa State University. Mia Anderson only had one older sibling and went to Harvard. If their aim was to get as far away from my life as possible - they did. My family was from Boston. We had aways been a tight-knit family and my parents detested the midwest as they had come from there. They were big city people. I had to admit - I had always loved visiting my family back in Indiana though. Their priorities were so much simpler than my own. It was a nice change of pace. Maybe I never actually went to a university in the midwest, but the fake identity I was about to take on was comforting.
I looked up to see Agent Matthews looking at me, blue eyes still tired. "Did you have any part in this?" I asked, half-joking.
Agent Matthews smiled. "Absolutely not," he began, "Iowa State University? Not my first choice." I felt myself smile.
Most of the file turned out to be little details and forms for my new identity should anyone ask for insurance and whatnot. I didn't have to be a different person. It was just details of my life I had to lie about. I was still Mia Anderson on the inside at least.
"This isn't too bad," I said quietly, reading through the file. I was 26, a nurse, and I was engaged to Tyler Matthews. I choked. As in, I started coughing, unable to breathe. Engaged to Tyler Matthews. I looked up in horror.
"That's good to hear," Agent Matthews started, "I was worried you wouldn't be pleased with- Are you okay, Mia?" Agent Matthews looked at me in concern.
"We're engaged?" I asked. Engaged.
"We're engaged?" Mia said in horror. I pursed my lips. It was all I could do to hold back my smile. The situation wasn't funny in the least. But her reaction was priceless.
I nodded slowly. "Yes," I stated.
"Why the hell would we be engaged?" she asked, narrowing her eyes.
"It's the only logical explanation as to why I'd be hanging around you and living with you," I tried. It was true. I hadn't been the one to come up with it. I suggested being her brother or roommate or something, but as per usual, the CIA took it a step further.
Mia pursed her lips, looking up in frustration. She took a deep breath and looked back at me. "You couldn't just be my brother or my roommate or something?" she asked suspiciously.
I shrugged. "I was not a fan of this plan, trust me." And I wasn't. My job was to protect her, but I did not want to be engaged to anyone - real or fake. That didn't work out the first time, so I had no expectations of it working out again. Unfortunately, arguing with the CIA was not my job.
"Did you come up with any part of this plan?" she asked, pointing to the folder. I shook my head. We had more creative people for that. "Do you actually do anything then?"
"Well," I snapped, "I am guarding your life." Mia glared at me, looking back down at her folder. The moment I said that, I felt awful. She was just angry at the situation, not me. I don't know why I took it so personally. All our witness protectants acted like this. It was perfectly normal. "Sorry," I said quietly. "You're just... Difficult." She looked up at me, as if she was trying to figure me out.
She blew out a sigh. "I'm sorry," she began calmly, "I'm just..." She stopped, leaning her head back silently. She didn't finish her sentence. "So we're engaged? Don't I get a ring?" she gave me a small smile. I wondered what she was about to say, but decided to take the small smile as a white flag.
I laughed. "Yes." I pulled out a blue Tiffany box. Her eyes widened. "The CIA does nothing halfway." She nodded, acknowledging this fact. I handed her the box, which she opened, the giant solitaire sparkling up at her.
"That makes this slightly more acceptable," she stated, jokingly, as she slid the ring on her finger. She looked down at the ring, then back to me, contemplatively. "How does your girlfriend feel about this?" she asked jokingly.
"I don't have a girlfriend," I started, smirking slightly. She nodded. "I have a wife, five years." Her head shot up, eyes wide in concern. I laughed, making her look more confused. "Joking."
She scoffed, crossing her arms. "I'm failing to see the humor in this," she deadpanned, which only made me laugh harder. I saw her roll her eyes as I leaned back. And again, I saw the beginnings of a smile play on her lips, before she took a deep breath and went back to her serious face. "Where are you from?" she asked, surprising me.
I looked at her, perplexed. Mostly because I didn't expect her to care. "Northern California," I stated, feeling my stomach twist, thinking about my family. I saw them plenty, the CIA paid nicely and every chance I got, I went home.
The lies though. The lies of what everyone outside of the CIA were told. The proud looks from my mom when a relative says, "You're a lawyer? That's incredible."
And yes, being in the CIA is an accomplishment too. But I couldn't share it. With anyone. I snapped back to attention when I caught Mia looking at me in concern. "Where are you from?" I asked.
"Doesn't that chart tell you everything you need to know about me?" she asked, nodding towards my briefcase.
"Yes," I stated. I knew her chart inside and out. That was part of my job. "But pulling out random facts is a little weird, isn't it?" Again, I watched the corners of her mouth turn upwards. Damn, I was determined to get a real smile on her face.
"That's true," Mia nodded, acknowledging this. "I'm from Indiana."
"You're a midwest girl?" I asked, raising my eyebrows. Still no smile. Instead, she was looking at me like I was psychotic.
"And you're a California boy?" she retorted, crossing her arms.
"Northern California is completely different," I stated. Not that southern California is bad. San Diego is a fantastic city. But nothing beat home. It was the aura, the way that it made me feel. "Why surgery?" I asked.
"How do you know I'm a surgeon?" she asked, with a hint of sarcasm in her voice.
"Lucky guess," I deadpanned. And then, finally, I got a smile.
We asked each other a few more questions before Mia yawned, her adrenaline-fueled energy finally dying down. She probably hadn't slept much, minus the drug induced sleep.
"We still have a couple hours, you should try to sleep," I said, gently. She nodded, reclining her seat. I dimmed the lights down before pulling a blanket from one of the overhead bins.
She took the blanket, and smiled up at me gratefully. "Thankyou," she said softly. Within minutes, she was asleep. The scared, angry woman that I met twelve hours a go was replaced by a peaceful, innocent girl.
It felt like I had only closed my eyes for a few minutes before Agent Matthews had his hand on my shoulder, waking me up. My sleep had been dreamless, but even so, I forgot where I was.
On a plane. To San Diego. Witness Protection.
I didn't have the energy to feel stressed or angry, I just felt tired. I yawned, before sitting up. Agent Matthews took the blanket I handed him, setting it on another seat. I watched him pick up his briefcase and put his black fleece Columbia jacket on.
"Ready?" he asked, blue eyes sparkling with reassurance. I nodded. Did it matter if I was ready?
I followed him off the plane, taking in the surroundings. The warm breeze hit my face immediately. I instantly felt re-energized. I looked out to see the rolling golden hills that extended past the runway. The East Coast this was not.
"You coming?" Agent Matthews asked, looking up at me from the bottom of the stairs. His face showed concern through his aviators. I almost snorted. Aviators? The amount of Californian was overwhelming.
I followed down the stairs. "Hello, Mr. Matthews," came a man dressed in a suit. "Who do you have with you?"
"This is my fiance, Mia Hensley," Agent Matthews replied back politely. I felt my stomach seize up. Fiance. Apparently the charade began now. I gave the man a tight smile.
"A pleasure to meet you, Miss Hensley," the man nodded, a polite smile on his face. I felt Agent Matthews lace his fingers through mine and fought the urge to pull away. This was only an act. "Where will we be going?" the man asked, turning his attention back to Agent Matthews.
"Downtown San Diego," Agent Matthews replied. I had a hard time believing downtown was anywhere near the golden rolling hills stretching out on all sides of us. I didn't ask anyone questions though. The man nodded as we followed him to a sleek black limo. I looked over at Agent Matthews, eyebrows raised. A Limo? I mouthed. I saw him give me an amused smile, squeezing my hand.
The man in the suit opened the door as I nodded in thanks and slid in. Agent Matthews slid in next to me, nodding at the man.
"Surprised?" he asked me, putting his arm around me. I bit my lip. It was all I could do from shrinking away. The gesture seemed all too familiar. Too much like Shane.
"Something like that," I replied. "Where are we?" I asked in a voice barely above a whisper.
"Desert," he replied, "much less attention." I nodded. Of course. Everyone would be curious if a private jet came into San Diego's own airport.
I had no idea how long the drive was, but it only took minutes for me to begin dozing off. I felt my head rest on Agent Matthews' shoulder before I jerked awake. After this happened a few times, he laughed. "It's okay, I won't read into it," he whispered, clearly amused. I glared at him, but accepted his offer and felt myself slip into another short cycle of sleep.
When I woke up, there were cars on all sides of us. The interstate. Well. That's progress. Agent Matthews appeared to be preoccupied with a document on his iPhone. I sat up, yawning.
"Almost there," Agent Matthews said, looking up at me from his phone. I nodded, not fully awake. I ran my hand through my auburn hair, resting my elbow on the armrest. We were crawling, but I could make out a skyline in the distance and the pacific ocean past that, sparkling in the early evening sun.
As far as temporary homes go - I think I can work with San Diego. It was beautiful. And yeah, the East Coast is too, but there was a different kind of beauty. It was a unique type of beauty that seemed to stand all on its own.
"So, I thought you could drop us off at the mall," Agent Matthews said to the driver. He nodded. "My fiance needs some new clothes." I narrowed my eyes at him to which he grinned. "My fiance isn't walking around in an over-sized sweater."
"Does it embarrass you?" I asked, arms crossed. I hated it too. It was a lumpy sweater. But that doesn't mean I appreciate other people pointing it out.
"Very much so," he joked, crossing his arms, mimicking me. I rolled my eyes - the only appropriate response I could conjure. I could see the driver smiling in the rearview mirror. Well. At least someone was amused.
As we pulled into the parking lot, I let Agent Matthews hold the door open. The sun poured out from all sides, creating a warming affect. The lack of humidity was what surprised me the most. The tired, sticky air from the East Coast had been replaced with the warm, refreshing air of Southern California.
"Where to first?" I asked, pushing my hair out of my face.
He shrugged, nodding goodbye to our driver. "Wherever you like. I'm not the one with the hideous clothes," he smirked. I felt my face get red and then for the first time in the last twenty-four hours - I laughed. A whole-hearted, unexpected laugh.
And even though there were people searching around the country to kill me, and I was far away from my home and my dreams and my life - something inside me relaxed. I could deal with that later. Right now - it was just me and my fake fiance, Tyler, laughing in a parking lot.