Joined: 16 December 2009
I stood there for about a minute (which is more than you think, sixty seconds!), debating whether to answer him or not because with all honesty, I wasn't okay. I had no idea why I froze in the middle of an old street in front of my ex-boyfriend. I had no idea why did I make a fool out of myself. But I was one hundred percent sure, that I was not okay.
"I am fine." I said finally. "I am over it."
"No you're not, Princess." He said, the sly smile back on his face. "But you will be."
That Sunday evening I went to my mother's office. My mind was heavy with homework and was full of questions I couldn't seem to figure out.
"Hey Nia!" My mother grinned at me. I smiled back, a little unsure. I am sure she has heard the tape from CoveOps exercise this week, she knows.
"How are you?"
"No you're not." She said as I sat on the dinning chair. "But you will be." I groaned and put my head on the table. Can they please stop telling me that? "Anyways, it was a good thing. We know for sure that the tea worked, and his memories of the night are really erased. He is not a security threat anymore." Mom brought out a plate of from the microwave. I smiled at her, and went for the Pizza. Nothing was worth wasting delicious, cheesy Pizza.
"I have something for you." My mom said once we were done. She brought out a package wrapped in shiny silver wrapper.
"Mom, Diwali is still a month away." I grinned at her.
"I know, but I did like you to have it right now." I ripped the wrapper and opened the box. As soon as I lifted the cover, my breath got stuck. Wrapped up in a transparent plastic bag was the most beautiful saree I had ever seen. It was a red saree, with silver and black border. "I thought it would look good on you."
Which I kind of doubted. This was extremely beautiful, and I doubt it would look beautiful on me. I doubt if I would look decent enough for this masterpiece.
I spent the next week like any other that year. Keeping up with classwork, avoiding Ayush and listening to their talks through the bugs we had planted in their suites. We had initially planned to plant cameras too, but I guess that would be going to far with teenage hormones.
"Ayush!" I called him on Friday as we made our way towards Advanced Encryptions. He was walking before me with his friends, but then he stopped and turned to look at me.
"What's the matter, Princess?" He asked with a grin. "You look jumpy today." I rolled my eyes. Obviously, he did never leave a chance to annoy me.
"We have to discuss about our project for COW." I said. "So I guess wee should meet up in the library and discuss about what should be our theme and'"
I stared at him as he backed away a little, letting girls swarm between us. He let a fair amount of students take up some space between us before he shouted. "Sure, Princess. It's date."
I swear to god, I will never let anyone kill him.
I want to kill him myself.
After school, I dragged myself to the library, ignoring the looks everybody gave me. Ayush just made being invisible ten times harder. When I made my way into the library, I looked around for him and then I found him. He was sitting in a far corner of the library, behind the bookcases. Really now?
He had loosened his tie and his hair messed up perfectly. His blazer hung behind him on the chair, books covered the table and he leaned back with his hands on the table. "Hello, Princess."
I sighed and dragged out my chair, taking a sit. "So, where should we start?"
"I don't know." He said, but I had a feeling he did know. "You tell me."
Scientifically, intelligent boys use their intelligence to make sure nobody figures how intelligent they are (according to Kiya, specially those boys with sexy arms.).
19:03 hours: Operative was extremely overwhelmed with the utter silence.
"Maybe we should start with economical issues..." I trailed off. He cocked his head and analyzed me.
"That's what you were thinking?"
"Yes?" I said, more like a question. "We should outline economic issues, but if you want we can..."
"Is there something you want to ask me, Princess?"
"No." I lied.
19:05: Operative realized that study date might actually consist studying.
We studied for about an hour, seriously. We discussed points and wrote outlines. Shocking enough, we had some similarities when it came to studies. And then, we died into silence again. How long does it take for two people to find a comfortable silence? I don't know. One time I drove all the way to Kerala and back with Grandpa, and he hardly said ten words. My dad and I used to spend Sundays on the living room floor, trading sections of the newspaper, and there was no noise except for the sound of turning pages. But sitting there--with Ayush--was different.
"So..." I trailed off, not sure what to say.
He raised his eyes and looked at me. "So..."
"What do you think of Royal Institute?" He laughed a little before he answered.
"Oh, its swell." He said.
Note to self: The use of "swell" seems to be either an international sarcastic term, or a regional slang. Check the database for more information.
"They say you're good." He suddenly whispered. I was startled because 1. I had no idea who they are, and 2. It was quite random and surprising coming from Ayush. "If that day in Mumbai, had it been being tailed, I would have failed to notice you."
I am pretty sure he meant it as a compliment, and it should be for a spy. But for a girl, being seen as invisible is anything but a compliment, and at that moment, I unintentionally took it as a girl.
"You disappoint me, Princess." He said after a while. My head shot up. "Being you, I thought you did be a little more--proactive."
"Well, what would you do if you find out that there might be people in the school who know more than they should about you?" The words rolled off my tongue before I could stop them. A sly smile lit up his face.
"I don't know. Maybe get close to whoever I suspect?" He said. Leaning back on two legs of his chairs. "Or maybe even plant some bugs in their rooms."
"Hahahaha!" (Yes. That was the sound of an intelligence agent in making laughing.)
"Would you, Princess?"
"Of course, I..."
But then I heard the front legs of his chair come down to the floor with a soft thump. He reached into his pocket and took out a tiny piece of bug that was planted in his room. "I am not all that bad, Princess."
I sat there, staring at the tiny audio transmitter.
He sat up and pulled the blazer around himself. "But I am not all that good either." Then he stopped by the bookcase and turned at me. "Thanks for the date, Princess."
I tell my best friends everything, and it included all the intimate moments I shared with Kartik. So when I told them about Ayush, all they did was sighed.
"I can't believe we were busted." Gen said as we made our way down the Sublevel One hallway, but then all of us stopped talking as our classmates came into view.
"Lies!" Mr. Saxena walked in, just like his first day. His shirtsleeves rolled up and his hands fixing his already perfect hair. "We tell them to our enemies, we tell them to our friends and eventually, we tell them to ourselves. Ms. Gujral, what are few physical symptoms of lies."
"Dilated pupils, increased pulse, and atypical mannerisms," Kiya said as I racked my brain, trying to remember if any of those things had been true with Ayush the night before. If anything he'd ever said had been true.
"Spies tell lies, ladies and gentlemen, but that's not what today is about. Today," Mr. Saxena said, "is about how to spot them. Now, a seasoned operative will know how to control their pulse and voice, but for the purpose of today's lesson, I think these will come in handy."
He handed each of us something that looked like the mood rings Gen, Panchi and I had bought in Kishori in the eighth grade. "Dr. Mehta has been kind enough to share these prototypes of a new portable voice-stress analyzer he's developing," Saxena continued. "It's equipped with a microchip that will monitor a person's voice, and if they are lying, it will vibrate very softly, alerting the wearer to the he."
The piece of plastic in my hands looked cheap-- practically worthless--but like most things at the Royal Institute, there was a lot more to it than met the eye
"You have to be close to your subject," Mr. Saxena explained as he walked to Juhi Mathur's desk. "And the rings can be fooled, with training. For example, ask me a question, Ms. Mathur--any question."
Juhi hesitated for a second before she asked. "Do you have a girlfriend Mr. Saxena?"
Mr. Saxena bit back a smile as everyone else in the room sat with their breath held. "No." He said. The ring was silent and still in Juhi's hand.
"It didn't do anything, so it's true?"
"Ask me again."
"Do you have a girlfriend, Mr. Saxena?"
"Yes." He said this time. Juhi shook her hand as if it was numb. "It's not broken Ms. Mathur." Mr. Saxena smiled. "It's just no as good at detecting lies as I am at telling them."
"Partners with the person across you. Watch for signs, watch their eyes." Mr. Saxena said. Ayush turned towards me. "Oh!" He said, his eyebrows raised. "This should be fun."
I didn't need a ring telling me that he was totally not lying.
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