Jun declined an offer to sit with friends at lunch. She overheard them talking about the care packages they received from their families and significant others back on Earth. The dark-haired ranger felt happy for them, but the happiness was dampened by the news she got today.
‘Dw, I told them I dont know where you are’
For someone who orchestrated this whole plan, Jun’s accomplice had very little to do. Yet, she still messed that up. All she had to do was make up a place Jun could be. It could’ve been anywhere. She could’ve said Jun took a vacation. She could’ve said Jun left all her possessions behind to go backpacking in South America to ‘find herself.’ She even could’ve said that Jun joined a cult! Jun’s parents would still be worried, sure, but they would at least have something to go off of, they’d have some hope that she was still alive, but now--
But now Aiden sat at Jun’s table. Originally, he sat with the others, but now he slouched in front of the dark-haired ranger, resting both elbows on the table.
Jun didn’t make eye contact. “Not much.”
“You’ve got family, right?” He absentmindedly drummed the table. “Like parents and stuff?”
“What’s it like?”
She tilted her head back. “Uhhhh, I dunno. My mom and pops were pretty alright. Pops taught me how to fix cars; that’s what he did for a living. My mom’s a caterer.”
“Yeah, like, people who bring food to weddings and parties and stuff. I had to tag along sometimes.”
“Sounds boring.” Aiden remarked. “Could you at least eat the food?”
“Ughhh, what’s the point?”
“Disgusting.” He shook his head.
Jun chuckled at Aiden’s aversion to unjust work practices.
“You have any brothers or sisters?”
“Nope,” Jun answered, “I was an only child.”
“Ehh, I would’ve gone nuts if I was the only kid there. Probably.” The blond ranger rested his chin in his hand. “I’m havin’ a hard time imagining growing up like that. The only thing remotely close I can think of is the group home.”
“Group home?” Jun had no idea what that was.
“The best way I could explain it to someone like you is--it’s like school but you live there.”
“Like a boarding school?”
“Yeah. Sorta.” Aiden pressed his finger against his head. “The couple running ours treated it that way. We sat through lessons during the day, ate, showered, went to sleep, rinse and repeat. No TV, no outside friends, every so often they’d take us out to do something.”
Jun winced. “Sounds rough.”
“It was what it was. I used to get on my roommates’ nerves so much…” He laughed. “If the IF thinks I’m trouble now, they should’ve seen me back then.”
“I can only imagine…”
“I wonder how the others are doing…” Aiden thought aloud. “They should be outta there by now. Probably experiencing culture shock after being let out of their cage.”
“Dang, I thought my mom was a little pushy but that sounds miserable.” Jun sympathized. “I prolly would’ve wanted to run away.”
“That’s exactly what I did!”
“Oh, you just… ran away?”
“Sure did.” Aiden nodded pridefully. “I got bored living there and left. Not one of my best decisions, but it made me less bratty, so I can’t take it back. I like the way I am now.”
He folded his arms on the table. “Did you get along with your folks?”
“Mostly. We weren’t like close-knit or anything; each of us kinda just did our own thing. Sometimes Mom or Pops would talk to me, but usually I hung out with kids from school. My mom and I butt heads sometimes, but we started patching things up...” Jun trailed off, wondering what her mom must’ve been doing now. She’s tough, hopefully she wasn’t too worried. Her dad wasn’t the type to get rattled either. Jun felt bad for worrying , but if that weren’t an issue, it wouldn’t bother her to be so far from them.
“Interesting…” Aiden mused. “After I ran away, most of the kids my age I met were also runaways, so you can imagine they didn’t have the best family situations. Not knowing my blood relatives doesn’t bother me.”
“Ohhhh. Probably best not to worry about it at this point, huh?”
“A family’s just a buncha people, anyway. You can find those anywhere.”