Milton 'n' McGold


4. Chapter Four

"Oh, well done," Jackson gave Sebastian a slow, ironic round of applause. "Way to go."
Sebastian was still processing the punch in the gut he got when Abbi walked into the room. He made him self catalogue detail about his sourrounding to regain his mental balance.
The waiter began to clear away the plate. He had long nails on his left hand but had short nails on his right, guitar player in his spare time then.
"Are you listening to me, Seb?"
"Huh?" Sebastian followed Abbi to the door with his eyes, noticing that she looked rather put together. He wondered what it would be like touch her hair, in the interests of scientific inquriry of course. He sipped some water and sat back as desert was placed infront of him. He *dissected* the apple pie; the pastry had made out vegetable fat and margarine not butter.
Jackson gave him a shove. "I dispare of you sometime."
"Why? What have I done now?"
Table manufactured in Sweden. Cultlery in Sheffield. Plate not silver, like the braclet.
"Seb, did you or did you not just totally piss off the first female we've spoken to since arriving?"
Sebastian blinked at his friend with a blank expression, struggling to comprehen what he was saying. Give him advanced algerbraic equasions any day, human maths never added up satifactory. "She asked me to tell her what I knew about her so I did."
Jackson punched him in the ribs. "Don't you ever edit what you say? Check it for the offence it might cause?"
Sebastian rubbed the sore spot on his side. "Explain."
"You basically told the girl she was a fight-prone charity case dressed in rejects whose prised possession was nothing more than junk."
"But that's the truth. I don't see why people can't face up to it. And I did not say it like that."
Jackson pushed the empty plate aside and accepted dessert from a waitress with a clever compliment that had the girl smiling. He turned his attention back to his friend. "Look, Seb, there's the truth and there's the truth. Some things are OK to say right out "gee, I like your dress", or "oh my my, you're a pretty thang". Other stuff, you keep to yourself "hey, girl, you're dirt poor", "man, you're one ugly but". Got it?"
The hall door closed behind Abbi.
"She wasn't ugly."
Jackson rested his chin on his hand and sighed. "I'm giving theoretical examples. And no, she wasn'y ugly. I'd call her pretty damn cute actually."
"Not just cute. Really....good looking." That didn't do her justice. He never had such an instant attraction to someone before.
"Shame she hates your guts already," Jackson smirked. "I'm the one she likes."
Sebastian's irritation flared. His friend had an advantage degree in flirting. "Jackson, you will back off Abbi Milton."
"Whoa, coming over all terotorial, are we?" Jackson studied him with amusement. "Gonna start beating your chest next?"
"Don't be an idiot." Sebastian snapped his napkin in Jackson's face, making his frineds flinch as the end flicked a milimeter form his nose. He could do the same with a bull whip as Jackson knew too well.
*You'd have thought he'd get over the wincing after having been Sebastian's partner in circus skills last summer.
"So what's going on? You, reclusive Sebastian McGold, the mystery among us Yoda biys, have finally decided to notice a girl and are staking a claim?" Jackson took a heaped spoon of ice cream and smaked it agains his lips.
"I'm not." He was. "I just don't want you messing up our mission here with you doing your usual thing."
"Which is?"
"Getting their hopes up with your charm. Leaving a trail of broken hearts. You know you do it, Jackson, as we never stick around for long."
"I can't help it if I'm a babe magnet."
"Wait a minute ladies and gentlemen, wait while I move out of the shadow of this man's ego."
"My ego has nothing on yours."
Sebastian smiled. "But mine is justified."
"Keep telling yourself that. You, my friend, are heading for a fall. One day you are going to meet someone who's gonna take you down a peg or ten."
"Not going to happen. We don't have relationships while on a mission."
"We'll see. You'll find you can't ace everything life throws at you." Jacksongave his friend an evil grin. Sebastian could tell that Jacksonwas up to something. The recruits at the Young Detective Agency, or Yodas as they call themselves, trained together so ahd a fairly good idea of each other's strengths and weaknesses. It was necessary so that, when they were out as a team, they were prepared. Sebastian knew to be suspicious of Jackson when he looked pleased with himself.
"What are you up to Jackson?"
"Nothing. Just our mission." Jackson was acting all innocent, too innocent. "As the A stream representative, you apply that immense brain of yours on what links a series of courrupt decisions to global significance and this school. Batting for C team," Jackson mimed hitting a a ball with a bat. "I'm the one who is supposed to get up and close with the sources of information."
Sebastian preferd not to imagine Jackson getting close to Abbi. Something about her had slipped past Sebastian's guard. Probably the fact that she wasn't as tough as she first appeared, the combination of a hard outer shell and a soft center was fascinating to him. "And that's all you're doing?"
"Do you doubt me? I was the one tasked to find out why some of the paretns of the students have suddenly fallen so spectacularly off the straight narrow path."
C stream, the Cats, as the agents with skills like Jackson's were nicknamed, were selected for their ability to blend in with the crowd. One result was thay they were never short of girl friends or boy friends, thanks to their charming ways. Sebastian's own A team, tagged as the Owls, were teased for their high IQ's and low sweet-talking scores. The charm and the brains, that was how they were seen at the YDA.
Sebastian stabbed his apple pie. Personally he prefered 5 minutes stright taking with a girl he liked; rather than Jackson's hour of clever manvovuring and flattery. Anyone with sense would.
But was Abbi sensible?
Put it aside: this was about the mission, not about thr irration instinct that had flared up inside him. He distrusted his emotions. The last thing he wanted at Parton was a girlfriend, as serious relationships were banned whilst on the job. What was needed now was for him to focous on the mission.
"OK, how are we going to go about this? Do we need to adjust anything now we're on site?"
"I don't think so. We'll proceed as Issac told us. I'll check out those who have parents mixed up in this scheme, see if they spill anything about what connects them, other than them all having kids at the same school; you get into the database and find any hint of Parton being knowingly involved."
"That blond who has it in for Abbi, Tori Reinfield?"
"Already memorised the the roll?"
"Naturally. First thing I did on arrival."
"Course it was. What about her?"
"She might be a good place to start. Her father went form legitimate gem merchant, to a smuggler of blood diamonds overnight."
"Interesting. I'll check to see if she knows anything."
"Good luck with that. She looks pretty toxic to me."
"I'll be careful." Jackson stood up. "Will you be OK on your own?"
Sebastian folded his napkin into perfect squares. "You have to ask?"
"Oh yeah, Mr I-am-an-isolated-island is fine with his own company. I forgot. See you in our room the. And by the way you can't answer a question with a question, it's against the rules."
"I'll have my preliminary results on the email traffic by then. "Sebastian ignored the last bit, thinking to himself what rules, why haven't I heard of these? But remember that it was Jackson's idea of a joke.
"Great. Don't forget we're gonna have to attend lessons tomorrow and check in with Issac at midday."
Sebastian was already running some tests on Partons wifi on his tablet and computer. "Like that will be hard for me."
"I know you have science qualifications up to your ears. That's why I enrolled you in Drama, Art, English and Dance AS level courses."
"You did what? I'm not prancing round in a leotard."
"Shouldn't have handed the form over to me then, should you?" Jackson intercepted Sebastian's punch with his forearm. "Come on Seb, It'll be fun."
"For whom?" Sebastian imagined squashing Jackson's face in his desert bowl, so tempting. Then again, how hard could it be, doing arty stuff? Nothing surely to the extreme difficulty of pure mathematics, and he'd mastered that without breaking a sweat. He rose to his feet. "You will die for this, Jackson, and no on will find the body. I have several completly undetectable means of disposing of a corpse."
Jackson looked worried for a second., knowing that Sebastian probably did. "You could see it as a challenge. You complained earlier about not being tested."
"You imagine that this is going to test me?" Sebastian raised a brow. "Think again my friend, think again."

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