Milton 'n' McGold


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7. Chapter Seven

"Call yourself my friend?" Sebastian threw his sweaty sports kit at Jackson's head.
Jackson sat up from his computer on the desk in their shared room and brushed the trackies off the floor. "How's you plié?"
Sebastian told him what he could do with his plié.
"I'll take that under advisement."
"Not a complete waste of time though." Sebastian dropped his art folder on his bed and went to his plant research on the window sill. They needed more space. He pushed Jackson's books off the shelf and onto the floor.
"Do you have to do that?" Jackson groaned as Sebastian distributed the pitcher plants, lobster-pot, snap and flypaper traps around the room, and chucking things out of his way.
"This is important."
Jackson went to move a flowerpot off his bedside table.
"Don't touch!" Sebastian said with a snap in his own voice.
"Why not?"
"It's in a carefully calibrated position. I'm going to release the bluebottles." He got the container out of the cupboard where he had been storing the flies bought from a pet shop. Intended for lizards, they would do just as well for his purpose.
"You are not letting them out while I'm in here that is totally gross." Jackson picked up some oranges from the bowl beside his computer and began to juggle; he liked to keep his skill sharpened.
"Not gross. It is scientific. I need to see which plant is most successful predator and how long it takes to digest the flies."
"Can't you just read that from a book?" Jackson let the fruit fall into the bowl, the last one he threw behind his back just to show off.
Sebastian gave Jackson a 'do-I-look-like-someone-who-relies-on-second-hand-information?' stares.
Jackson cast a glance to the ceiling, seeking out patience for his friend. "Are you going to explain why you are turning our bedroom into a haven for flesh-eating plants?"
"It's important in an old case I was reviewing." He tapped on the container to wake the flies up.
Jackson took the flies for him. "You can do that later, think about the case we're doing now. Why was dance not a waste of time?"
"I said not a complete waste of time; of course dance is a waste of time. I was paired with Abbi Milton."
Jackson sat back in his chair, wheels rolling taking him and the flies further away from Sebastian. "You should be thanking me, man!"
"I'll grant you one thing: I repent every bad thing I've ever said about leotards. But, Jackson, I'm trying to tell you something. Something important. Her roommate hasn't come back from the spring holiday. Abbi went on to say other students have gone away for a long period of time and all the name show a coloration to the names of parent we are investigating: Tori, Ben I'm guessing Chetty as there are only two Ben's in the school; Camille Davis, and others I didn't get her to list."
"What's the name of her friend?"
"Jenna Long."
Jackson entered the information into their mission file. "Daughter of American diplomat currently posted in London. Military personal."
"Another high flyer."
"Most of the parents are, but it doesn't fit the pattern. We've got nothing on him yet."
"Then maybe we're in the start of the process for Long. We should check to see there is any hint for a ransom being demanded or blackmail. They could be extorting favours from the parents in return for the safety of their child."
"I guess but why keep the child in the school when they're released? Tori is strutting round the place, no sign that she was a victim of anything. You would've thought the first thing the parent would do was take the kid and run a mile in the opposite direction."
Sebastian had to agree with Jackson: it didn't make sense and strayed beyond the bounds of the original mission they had been given by Issac. A concerned government official, very senior in her field, had called the YDA. She told Issac, chief of their agency, that she thought something serious was going on. Strange decisions were being made. A Siberian pipe line had been rerouted unexpectedly. A senior government official of a Middle Eastern country had been made president of the nation bank with no hints that he had applied or been put forward for the job. Telecoms contracts had been sold well below the market price. The only link she could fins was that all the people that had the last decision had children who were students in the Union of International Schools. Sebastian and Jackson had enrolled expecting to find some networking happening via the school events and friendship circles, deals done in back rooms on Sports Day, not this more sinister turn of events involving the kids themselves.
"Let me look again at the list of pupils and see if I can identify from school records those that have gone missing. I'll keep in the ones who've come back but highlight their names."
Jackson knew better than to refuse Sebastian when he was in puzzle-solving mode. "Coming right up."
"I'll cross reference them with the parents involved in corrupt practices. I'm sure the answer must lie between the two. And I'll text Issac to put eyes on Long, see if he gives anything away."
"Here you go." Jackson dropped the printouts of names on his desk. "I'll leave you to it. I've got Biology next."
"Rub it in, why don't you?" Sebastian shot him a look from under his brows. "You don't happen to know anything about dance, a handbook or something?"
"Just so happens I'm an expert, though street dance is more my thing." So why wasn't Jackson doing the AS? Oh yeah 'cause this was about humiliating him. "What kind of dance Seb?"
"The teacher called it 'Modern'." Sebastian tapped at his key board, starting to run a trace on Jenna's cell phone. Having so many tasks to do made his brain purr with pleasure like a cat having its tummy rubbed. Finally a challenge worthy of him.
"We thought you might need some help so I put a few DVDs in my suitcase." Jackson threw him some recent dance films which Sebastian plucked out of thin air without looking up. "Watch and lean, my friend. Watch and learn."

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