Chapter 19: Our Time Now - Plain White T's
I was ecstatic when I received the call from King Vincent. He was my ticket out just before my sister returned home from her internship. Things were always a little worse for me when Juno was home – well, our grandparents’ home with me. She was everything I wasn’t, much to their delight. I loved her given name. She normalized it by preferring the nickname June. Nana stated that it was, “a far more fitting name for someone as beautiful as her”. She tried to persuade me to switch to the nickname to Millie. I wasn’t and never would be someone that could pull off that name. I knew that would never matter to her or Pop-pop. They viewed all of who I was as a decision, one I chose incorrectly.
My parents loved all that I was. I fit in with them far better than June did. Traditional wasn’t their style. They met at Burning Man, an annual art event and temporary community based on radical self-expression and self-reliance in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada. Juno showed up 9 months later. I made my world debut eighteen months after that. They never got around to getting married, but they were so in love with each other, more so than everyone else’s parents I’d encountered. My father’s last name was Elksner. My mother’s was Inshaw. Using parts of their names, they created the surname of Elkins for me and my sister. My mom was a photographer. My dad was a documentary filmmaker. Together, they traveled the world, helping others and capturing all of it to share with Juno and me when they got home.
My perception of love was somewhat irregular. I couldn’t completely contribute that to my parents. I spent more time around my mother’s parents’ marriage. They were so lack luster about being together. It was like settling down was just something they had to do, not what they wanted. I could never picture myself aspiring to be a wife and mother. I wanted a lifelong adventure with someone like my mom and dad, but unlike them, I didn’t kids waiting for me to come home. That aspect wasn’t fair.
I really liked Watson. I didn’t develop crushes often. I felt as though they were a waste of time. With him, it just sort of happened. We spent countless hours together, entertaining ourselves and wrecking havoc on others. The next thing I knew, I saw him as more than my partner in crime. When we kissed, the feelings were cemented. Our relationship styles were very similar. Emotional sentiments were not our fortes. We had serious conversations at times, but love declarations were avoided. Dates weren’t a thing. Valentine’s Day was completely out of the question. Public displays of affection didn’t appeal to either of us in the slightest. We knew who we were as people. We weren’t going to change ourselves to portray everyone else’s conception of a couple.
After Milo’s speech, the eight of us followed the other guests to the dance floor. There was a small orchestra playing classical music. The playing was flawless, the pieces divine, but it was not music to drunk dance to, especially at an eighteen year old’s birthday party.
“These tunes have killed my buzz. I’m almost sober.” I groaned as Finn and I waltzed.
“Plans for a fix?” He glanced down at me.
I searched my slightly foggy brain. “Sound system hack?” I offered.
“What’ll be the replacement?”
“I have a ton of playlists on my phone.”
“What all do you have on you?”
“Phone, gum, lipstick, and a Swiss Army Knife – essentials.”
He nodded in understanding. “Smart move.”
I smiled. “We doing this?”
“Oh, yeah.” We stopped dancing and left without telling the others.
For the ball, Elle put my hair in a tight bun, skillfully masking all of the blue portions of my hair. Switching modes, I removed everything she put in my hair and shook it out. I instantly felt more like myself.
As we walked down the vacant hallway, we stumbled across a door labeled “control room”. Watson tested the knob first. Learning that it was locked, I removed my Swiss Army Knife from my jacket’s breast pocket. Right after I lowered it to the ground, he spun me around, pressed me against the wall and kissed me. When I heard footsteps, I understood. I went with it, playing into the horny teenager ruse to lower our level of suspicion.
“Are you lost?” A male voice mildly echoed because of the vacancy of the hallway.
I looked over in the direction it was coming from, keeping my arms around Finn’s neck as he kept around my waist. It was one of the guard members, appearing to be walking to his post.
“Yeah, um, where’s the bathroom?” I did my best ditz impression, ending in a giggle.
“Down the hall, turn the corner, and it’s on your right.” He answered reluctantly.
“Thanks, Man, appreciate it.” Finn nodded to him.
Finn took my hand. The two of us ran down the hall in the direction of the bathroom to keep him believing we were overly eager to hookup. When we turned the corner, we stopped and popped our heads out to see if the coast was clear. As soon as he disappeared around the corner, we made our way back to the control room door. He kept watch as I picked the lock.
“Almost – “ I rotated the metal slit with the retractable hook.
“—got it.” The door clicked. I rose to my feet and turned the knob.
The two of us walked in. I shut the door, blanketing us in darkness. Luckily, he had his phone ready to use a light.
“What are we doing in here, exactly?” I asked as he started walking around.
“I need to see the physical system. There are encryptions that will assist with the wireless hack.” He crouched down in front of an all-black machine with small green and red flashing lights.
“Hold my phone. Give me yours.” He held out his hand.
I kneeled down beside him. I gave him my phone and held his up.
He rubbed his eyes with his hand, trying to clear his vision enough to read the small print on the screen. He ended up having to zoom in to make the font bigger. He silently started typing away.
“I’m in their network.” He announced after a couple minutes. He continued to type.
“Done.” He stated simply after a few moments.
“Like done, done?” I my eyes widened in disbelief.
“Getting through the firewall is the difficult part. Everything’s wide open after that.” He rose to his feet.
We traded phones. I peeked my head out of the door before stepping out completely. Seeing no one was in the hallway, I locked the door from the inside and walked out. Finn followed, closing the door behind us.
“Wait, we’ve got to look like we just –“ I walked up to him and partially untucked his shirt.
Catching on, he unbuttoned the top buttons of his shirt, loosened is tie, and left it crooked. He untied my bow tie and left it draped across my shoulders; he pulled out one of the tails of my dress shirt.
“Final touch –“ I glided on a new layer of lipstick, using my phone’s reflection as a mirror. I gestured for him to lean down a touch.
I kissed him, making a point to transfer some of it onto his lips. He placed his hand on the side of my face, keeping it going longer than he needed to. I pulled away and placed a kiss on his neck, leaving an imprint of my lips there.
“I just rocked your world.”
His signature smirk returned as he slipped his hands into his pockets. “Oh, yeah.”
I put away my lipstick and we resumed our walk to the ballroom. The orchestra was no longer playing live. They were replaced with a recording, making our jobs that much easier.
“All you have to do is select a playlist and turn up your phone’s volume.” He whispered into my ear.
I went to my music section. I used playlist Elle had me create for the party we held in our suite last semester. I cranked up the volume on my phone and pressed “play”. The crowd momentarily paused when the registered the change, but when the beat dropped, our friends threw their hands in the air and started moving. I dance-bounced over to them.
Milo walked up to me and leaned down. “Is this you two?!” He practically shouted in my ear to be heard over the music.
I nodded. “Happy Birthday!” I patted him on the back.
His smile widened. We all danced our hearts out. We even sang along to some songs. We were far beyond caring that it made us the center of attention.