I saw the answerphone flashing at me as I was about to go out the door at ten to six, and couldn't help feeling a bit excited. I know, I know, I'm an adult, but that doesn't stop me loving my birthday. Dad's voice filled the hallway of my apartment.
"Hi Dani, in case I don't see you, have a great birthday. And enjoy your present..." I grinned. I'd forgotten the Subsonic... "but stay safe." I grabbed my keys as the voicemail ended with a click and rolled my eyes. "Stay safe". I had three, four years or training and a good deal of experience under my relatively small belt already and Dad still says "stay safe". Then again, I wasn't shunning the advice: the number of snipers I've had directed on my head... The phone rang again and I picked the receiver up quickly, half-hoping it would just be a sales call so I could get to HQ- I would be running late in a minute and in our profession you can't really use birthday as an excuse. Sadly.
"Happy birthday to YOUUU!" Clara's voice came singing down the phone and I held the receiver out from me out of fear of earache- Clara may be my best friend since we were little but she had a strong set of lungs on her and not the most fortunate singing. It was when she was halfway through the song that I realised it was only six in the morning and that in the job I told her I had (sales assistant in the department store on fourth street I think...) I would not be up already. I let out a deliberate yawn as she reached the end of the song.
"Clara what are you doing up this early?" Haha, I was such a good actress. "I thought freelance fashion journalists could have as many lie ins as they wanted."
"That is true, but what kind of best friend would I be if I didn't call you as soon as I got up?...Actually I'm surprised you're awake, doesn't your shift only start in the afternoon on Thursdays?" How does she know my fake work schedule?
"Yeah, but..." Think quick Dani! "I, erm, I was too excited to sleep?"
"You big kid!" I laughed and forgot to look at the clock, instead engaging in a long girly chat with Clara about just about everything under the sun. Except SCIT.
Speaking of which...I looked over to the clock, and stopped as in front of it lay a picture, probably from a day between missions when I'd started sorting through photos. It was taken ten years ago...I was sitting on the large lawn of the Richards property, beaming in a less than flattering manner with my hair plaited messily into two plaits, which played about my shoulders. On either side were Freddie and Tess; Freddie was sticking his tongue defiantly and Tess clutched at a motheaten tabby kitten doll. It had been months since I'd seen my younger siblings...I let Clara talk on and on down the phone as I stared a little forlornly at the photo. Should I call them? They aren't even my family any more, but they couldn't have just stopped loving me...My conflicting thoughts were laid aside by the time. "Crap! Clara it's nearly twelve, I gotta go." I hung up and ran out of the door.
Bursting into HQ I panted for a second or two, apologising between breaths. Jagan and Drake seemed to be back to their old bickering ways- now what? I also noticed the door at the other end of the room swinging slightly- I'm guessing Steve had already been through and left. Then I saw a young girl, a few years younger than me though she couldn't be any younger than 18. "Erm, sorry to be rude, but who are you?" The girl handed over her notepad that she was clutching close to her.
"Oh...Hi Myra, I'm Dani Lewis." I grinned in what I hoped looked like a friendly gesture and she smiled a little. "Don't worry about the lack of experience, I didn't have much when I started here, some people thought it was just cos of Dad. Well, my old Dad, yknow..." She stared blankly. "You don't know. Okay...it's a long story, basically my..." I tried to think of a way to put the scenario that wasn't extremely confusing. "You know what, Myra, I'll tell you another time. What I was trying to say is you'll do just fine with us...Can I smell burgers?" Drake held a paper bag up sheepishly. "Good. I'm starving." I started to help myself but couldn't help feeling a...lack of something. Like I'd been here ten minutes and nothing had blown-
A large explosion sounded from outside the building and I threw myself down instinctively for cover, as did everyone else in the room. "What the hell was that?"
Well, at least it felt like SCIT now.