My eyes just wouldn't stand still, they flickered from the window and the passing buildings and skyscrapers to the stranger who was supposedly bad to the black tinted window that separated us from the mystery driver to the balding man who I assumed was some kind of security guard. How freaking weird was that? I needed to know who this guy was and soon. Why didn't he tell me when we first met? Was he one of those people who thought dad was dad, names weren't needed till much later in life? I didn't know, I didn't know a thing and I knew I needed to speak. I opened my mouth, not entirely sure which of the hundreds questions I wanted to ask would spill out.
“Who are you?” I immediately regretting it, I knew the words were tactless and the man's eyebrows shot up in surprise at the words. I guess I'd been pretty quiet up until now.
“I assume my name is what you want, because hopefully they told me that I was your dad” He joked with a small chuckle, it was a loud sound, the kind that vibrated not just in a persons chest but across a small distance. I nodded and felt my hands move over each other on my lap as I tried to fight my discomfort.
“My name is Neil Laswell” He said, “I don't expect you to change your surname to mine until your more used to everything”. I felt my eyes grow slightly at the last sentence, I hadn't even thought about that. I said the surname with my own name a few times, rolling over my tongue. It felt weird and foreign. It was nice that he didn't force a change of surname on me.
“Wait!” I blurted, suddenly recognising the name. I knew both my mouth and eyes must've been wide enough for the world to see. He laughed again, a slight redness touching his cheeks.
“Yes, I'm that Neil Laswell” He supplied and I snapped my mouth shut to stare out the window. I could see my breath fogging up the glass and knew I should respond but what I came up wasn't exactly the best.
“So your not just rich, your rich, rich” he laughed and nodded in response.
“I don't know what your life was like in the care home, but I know government funding for them is lacking, so whatever you missed out on I'll be able to provide” He said, that sincere smile again. Part of me was angry, he's trying to buy me affections. Another part said he was right, I did miss out on stuff. And a small, very bad part of me kind of liked the idea of being rich. And an even small part of me rationalised how impossible this was. The chances just...I couldn't be this lucky. I was half-tempted to tell him there and then to get his investigator to start from the start, because I couldn't be his. Except that anyone looking at us could see the resemblance. So.
My dad was Neil Laswell, one of the worlds leading scientific researchers. He was incredibly smart and his discovers had made him one of the richest guys in the world. I hoped he didn't expect me to have a shining list of A's, because he'd be severely disappointed.
“Look, I know this must all come as quite a shock. It was a shock when I found out” He said and I fought a tiny lip quiver. Because I wanted to ask him so badly about my mother. But judging by his tone of voice, I wouldn't like what I learned. Better to live in ignorance bliss. Until the curiosity got to me, but I hoped that wouldn't happen.
“As you probably guessed I don't live here and for suddenly uprooting you I am sorry” He continued. As if I hadn't been nervously passing at the signs. We weren't in the city anymore but heading into the countryside.
“We're headed to the airport right now, I don't live in England though its where i'm from” he explained and I could feel my mind brim with possibilities.
“I live in New York but have a second residence on the outskirts of the city. If you count a private laboratory as a residence. I sleep there more than at home. But you will be well-looked after. And if you want I’ll arrange for you to see the lab. It's nothing special. Though I can tell you what I'm working on could, if successful, be one of the greatest life-changing discoveries yet” He said that last bit with a childish grin. New York, okay that was damn cool, I always wanted to go there. And life-changing?
“You don't like little discoveries do you?” I asked, recalling a list from the back of my mind. He'd invented a drug that allowed CT scanners to pick up more accurate details. He helped design the government grade hazmat suits that all government owned labs used. He also invented a powerful tranquillizer to replace the ones that were used on elephants before. A good thing since apparently the previous version could cause elephants to suffer from convulsive muscles after the medicine had left their system if the amount wasn't measured correctly. Not to mention the death risk.
“No, not really” he said and I could tell he wouldn't tell me what it was unless I asked.
“So what are you trying to do?” I asked, surprised by how much easier it was to talk to him. I couldn't think of him as my dad, but a friend? Maybe.
“Cure cancer”. My expression must have been something because he burst with laughter at the sight of it.
“I take it you're interested in visiting the lab now?” he asked with a small laugh and I nodded, still not sure what to say. I mean, what did you say to someone who was smart and had set his mind on curing something as impossibly devastating as cancer? He was right, if he pulled it off it would be life-changing.
Three hours later after more small talk I was sitting on a plane. Apparently all my stuff had been packed and sent to the airport so there was no worry about things being sent overseas to us. He had inquired about my school life and i'd been mostly honest. I did generally get on with people, and some of the teachers...well one. But it was impossible to hate my cocky art teacher. I wondered what my new school would be like? Neil had said there was no point me starting school when I got back since it was the summer holidays in two weeks. But once that was over I was going to a private school. I wasn't sure what I thought of that. I doubt I’d get on well with rich, preppy kids. Me and stuck-on didn't go together. Then again, don't judge a book by its cover and all that.
“You should probably try and get some sleep while you can, I guarantee the time difference will mess with your head for a few days” Neil said, he opened his mouth to continue but something on his laptop chimed and he was distracted. I took his advice and closed my eyes. Wondering how long it would be before I'd find it okay to refer to him as dad instead of Neil.