“You want me to go where?”
“Don’t say it like you didn’t hear exactly what I just said.” Gael arched an eyebrow at Talon’s incredulous tone.
“But he’s nearly fifteen,” Talon carried on ignoring the look.
“Fifteen year old’s do not have show and tell,” Talon hissed. “I mean that’s something first graders do.” They were waiting outside Tampa Science Academy on the corner of North Boulevard and Waters Ave. It was a little far from Vance’s mom and dad’s where Liam lived but Liam had just transferred here after a friend of the lieutenant had recommended the school.
It was supposed to be perfect for the budding science geek that Liam now was.
Talon sighed. “Tell me again from the beginning.”
“Connie’s worried Liam’s not settling in.”
“Because he’s done a personality one-eighty in the space of four weeks since the semester started.”
“Meaning what?” Talon asked sharply. He hadn’t seen Vance or Sam for what seemed like ages, as much to Talon’s disgust, Gregory had loaned them out to the DEA. They were due back very soon though.
“Meaning he’s gone from being crazy excited about everything to spending most of the time holed up in his room. Connie’s real worried.”
Talon gazed at the stream of students that had just burst out of the building. “Which I don’t like obviously, but what the hell has that got to do with show and tell or more importantly me?”
“He’s not making friends apparently, according to Finn.”
Talon brightened. “Exactly. Finn would know what to do.” It was only he was doing a school visit this afternoon that he wasn’t in the car.
Gael shook his head. “Nope, it needs to be you.”
Talon glanced at Gael. “Would that be because I have a mark on my face and Finn doesn’t?”
Gael beamed. “You’re getting the idea, boss.”
Talon growled. “You still didn’t explain.”
“School science project, right?”
Talon groaned. He had hated those.
“All the kids have to get together into small groups and work on a project for the advancement of humanity.” Gael used finger quotes. Talon scoffed.
“Not much, then.”
“I know, Connie says the teacher is quite… earnest.” It sounded a complete load of crap to Talon, but what did he know.
“Anyway most of the class have gone for things like recycling etcetera. You know the type of thing—”
“Because if we don’t look after the planet there will be no humanity?”
“But why does that involve us?”
“Because,” Gael said dropping his voice lower even though they were on their own. “Liam hasn’t been asked to join in any groups.”
Talon shot a look at Gael. “Are you telling me he’s being deliberately excluded by the other kids?”
Gael just looked at him resignedly. “And I’m sure you can imagine why.”
“And the teacher hasn’t said anything?”
“Connie says not. Liam was put in a group but the others have made it more than obvious he isn’t welcome. Liam begged her not to tell the teacher because he thinks it will make things worse.”
“Which it may do,” Talon agreed. “Are there any other enhanced kids there?”
Gael shook his head.
Talon blew out a breath wishing Finn was here. Finn would know exactly what to say to Liam. “He’s coming.” Talon saw Liam break away from the kids heading towards the buses. Connie had told him this morning they were picking him up from school. “So I’m guessing you want us to help Liam come up with some sort of project? When’s it due?” Talon asked his eyes taking in the way Liam kept his head down even though he knew he’d seen the car.
“Tomorrow?” Talon said incredulously. “How the hell are we gonna come up with a project for tomorrow?”
Gael grinned just as Liam got to the car door. “Really Talon? The Advancement of Humanity?” Gael chuckled. “We’re not going to come up with a project. You’re actually gonna be the project.”
Talon had no idea whether to look intimidating towards the little shits that had given Liam hell for four weeks or just to stand there and look like he even knew half of what Finn was talking about. Genetic Determinism. Finn and Liam were just warming up and he had twenty-five fifteen year olds and their teacher—Miss Kelly—completely spellbound.
It might have been the science—that was certainly impressive—but Talon personally thought it was the flames dancing from his finger tips as he held his hand up that was tipping the balance in Liam’s favor.
Finn was happy to answer questions but had directed the first few towards Liam who probably knew far too much about their unit than he should. No, scratch that. He absolutely knew far more than he should, but they all trusted Liam to keep quiet. Eli’s abilities were documented and the fact that Talon now had some of their team’s had also been reported. It was impossible to hide when he had been present when some nutcase decided he was going to bring a gun to a fist fight outside a high school Finn had been visiting. Talon was picking him up afterwards because his car was in the shop and had seen the guy pull his weapon over a stupid ass fight about parking spaces of all things. The weapon had been metallic shavings a few seconds later but at least thirty parents and students had seen what Talon did. He was just very careful never to demonstrate Sawyer’s other ability. Being able to walk through brick walls wasn’t something he really wanted to see on Fox News.
“It’s not a project, though,” some kid sat at the back mumbled to his buddy.
The other kid nodded. “He’s a foster kid. His old man was some psycho I heard that was put away for killing someone.”
“Liam?” Talon interrupted. “You missed the question that,” he quirked an eyebrow at Miss Kelly and pointed to the two students who were sat at the back.
“Philip and Tomas,” she supplied as both kids sat bolt upright hearing their names.
“That Philip and Tomas asked,” Talon carried on not missing a beat as both their eyes grew wide at the spotlight shining on them. He glanced at Liam. “They have heard that your dad made great discoveries with tectonic energy and wondered how that came about?”
Liam practically lit up with enthusiasm and while being careful not to mention his own ability, went to great lengths in describing how to harness the power of the earth. Even Talon was impressed despite hearing it all before. And then when they were winding down, because the whole point of Talon being here was so Liam could make friends—not so he could score points with children, satisfying though it may be—he bent towards Liam while Finn was talking. “Go with me on this, Liam.”
He cleared his throat as Finn finished. “Liam actually asked me if he was allowed to arrange a small tour to the facilities we have at the FBI headquarters. I can allow maybe a couple of students and I suggested we made it a competition for the best question. Liam says, and I agree, that Tomas and Philip can come and two more.” He looked at Liam who was looking back at him with far more understanding—he thought—than any fifteen year old should have, and shrugged.
The teacher immediately perked up even more and suggested two more students who both smiled eagerly at Liam.
An hour later and Liam was given permission to show the class the Lenco which obviously Talon had made sure they rocked up in. It was nearly lunchtime before everyone was done and Talon had been very satisfied to hear Liam asked by a few of the kids if he was going to sit with them at lunch. Miss Kelly directed them all back inside and gave Liam permission to say goodbye on his own.
“Thank you,” Liam whispered and flung his arms around Talon’s waist. Finn beamed and Talon rolled his eyes pretending it was no big deal but he hugged Liam back just as hard.
He shoved Liam back and looked at him. “So what did we learn?”
Liam smirked. “That enhanced have exceptional hearing?”
“No!” Finn scolded, laughing.
Liam broke off from Talon and gave Finn a hug. “That if I have any problems I should just tell you guys,” he added quietly.
“Exactly,” Finn sighed with relief and they both watched as Liam hurried to join his new friends that were waiting for him.
“You big softy,” he said and prodded Talon’s bicep.
“Mmm,” Talon replied noncommittally turned to the Lenco. “I could get on board with this school thing.”
“You could?” Finn asked looking hopeful.
He nodded trying not to grin. They didn’t have to be back at the office for an hour and he definitely had some homework he thought Finn could help him with.