Agents, the Novel: Hardwired 3

©2011-2013 Jaron Dael Belboda Jaguar J Enterprise + CGIS

Chapter Three

Jason drummed his fingers absent mindedly as he waited for Hawk to finish her analysis. Caiman looked at him and shook his head.

“Getting those kill innocent people urges?” He asked mischievously.

Jason looked at his friend disapprovingly. “You haven’t stopped the vampire/werewolf jokes since the restaurant last night.”

“What happened last night?” Hawk asked.

“Serena asked me if I had my Jaguar side under control, and Tiger made a joke about me being similar to a werewolf; ere go.” Jason let his sentence go unfinished.

“Caiman, he’s got enough problems already.” Hawk stated.

“Yup.” Jason agreed.

“Oh, you mean he’s not good looking enough to be a vamp?”

“Your words, K. You’re the expert.” Hawk replied with disinterest.

“Well…I mean he could be…”

“Caiman!” Jason interrupted. “I don’t care.”

“Okay, Bro. You want a healthy dose of reality? Check this! You get your car wrecked—by a girl…”

Jason sighed with annoyance. “Yes, Caiman I know what…”

“Wait!” Caiman insisted. “On your birthday you get two cars; and one of ‘em’s a Ferrari and you’ve got…”

“Yeah…Caiman I don’t think that’s a sign of…”

“Hang on! You’ve got two girls to fight over you…”

“Ugh!”

“…One of them’s gorgeous, and the other’s super gorgeous. But depending on the light that judgment is purely subjective…”

Hawk burst out laughing as the boys continued.

“Caiman you can’t read all that into…!”

“Wait! Wait for it! An assassin comes into your room and doesn’t kill you! And you’re still worried about being not good enough to be a vampire?! ”

Jason was thoroughly exasperated. “But I’m not worried about being not good enou…I mean not ba…I’m not interested in being a vampire! Vampires are…” He suddenly stopped short as he realized what his friend was getting at. “You sly little devil.”

“Wha…what?” Hawk laughed. “I don’t get any of this, but you guys are hilarious.”

Both boys laughed. “Caiman is trying to get me to look at the bright side of life,” Jason explained. “Uh…in his own way.”

“And it worked?”

“No. But the fact that he thought it would work? Did.” He turned to Caiman. “Good job, Bro.”

“Thanks!” Caiman grinned.

“So,” Jason asked Hawk. “What did you find?”

“Well unfortunately not much,” Hawk replied as she did another sweep of the base board under the window. “She left everything pretty clean. I’d say we’re dealing with a professional.”

“Well that complicates things.” Jason mused.

“I’m still stuck on the part where you said “she.” Caiman interjected.

“What guy would take the trouble to climb up here, and leave Jason alive?” Hawk retorted.

Jason smirked. “So a guy would kill me behind my back, and a girl would kill me to my face?”

She shrugged. “Something like that.”

“I’ll keep that in mind.” Jason returned, mildly amused.

“Okay whatever,” Caiman bristled. “He couldn’t have gone in and out without leaving a trace. You must have missed something.”

Hawk looked at him as if to say, “I’m telling you it’s a girl!”

“Alright,” Caiman conceded. “You say “she” came in through the window; and to do that she would’ve needed to take off the screen. How come they’re no fingerprints?”

Hawk was undaunted. “Either she used gloves, or she has no fingerprints.”

“How could a person have no fingerprints?!” Caiman exclaimed, convinced that Hawk had lost her mind.

There was a soft sound near the door and Jason turned to see Mia standing in the doorway. “Hey, I didn’t expect you ‘til later.” He greeted her.

“Yeah, speaking of the devil.” Caiman teased.

“The devil?” Mia puzzled.

“I’m afraid you’re permanently known as the girl who wrecked my car.” Jason half sighed half moaned.

A smile played around the corners of her mouth. “I can live with that.”

“Ah.” Jason intoned, not sure how to take her statement. “So what’s up?” He asked, changing the subject.

“Serena called me.” She replied simply. “What are we talking about?”

Caiman snorted. “Hawk was about to explain why she thinks it’s possible for a person to have no fingerprints!”

“Okay.” Mia said looking a bit puzzled at his ignorance.

“It’s not that hard, Caiman.” Jason chided, motioning for Mia to enter—which she did. “For example if they ever burned or skinned their hands…”

“…And then had to have skin grafts from body parts we won’t mention.” Mia finished.

“How do you know about that?” Caiman asked incredulously.

Mia held up her left hand and wiggled the fingers. Her fingers were obviously damaged at some point, probably burned, and had certainly had not finger prints!

“You?!” Jason, Caiman and Hawk chorused unintentionally.

In response she held up her other hand, which was perfectly normal.

“Good point.” Hawk agreed. “Hm.”

“Alright, Mia.” Caiman said, wanting to win this round. “Tell me you don’t think it was a girl that broke in last night.”

“I don’t think it was a girl who broke in last night.” Mia replied with a straight face.

“Huh?” Caiman asked in bewilderment.

Hawk also looked at Mia, but she didn’t take it back. Instead she continued. “It was just a guy who uses perfume.” She turned to Hawk. “Did you do an essence sample?”

“Uh…no,” Hawk replied, a little embarrassed.

“Wait, seriously?” Jason interjected. “You can smell that?”

“She touched a piece of paper, right?” Mia asked, walking over to his bedside table. “And this pen?” She picked it up and smelled it—and coughed a little. “Yup! That’s a girl’s scent—kinda mixed with stucco.”

“Well,” Caiman said insensitively. “Here’s the note she wrote, wanna smell it too?” He shoved it in her face.”

She took that note and lengthened the distance between it and her face. “I don’t need to; it’s definitely girl’s hand writing. She’s very fond of you, Jason.”

“Uh…I don’t think so!” Jason objected.

“And she doesn’t want you to know.” Mia continued. “But it’s not a romantic connection it’s….familiar. She knows you from somewhere.”

Jason and Caiman exchanged glances while Hawk was intrigued.

“Interesting,” Hawk commented.

“Uh…no offense,” Caiman said skeptically. “You’re a singer. What do you know about psychological motivations?”

“You did read this note, right?” Mia answered with a question.

Caiman was unimpressed. “Are you trying to get me to believe you’re psychic?”

“Yeah,” She nodded sarcastically, wrinkling her nose a bit. “That’s it, Caiman. I’m a psychic.”

“Alright, okay.” He nodded, preparing to take her down. “Tell me something about myself. Something only I would know.” He held out his hand.

Mia glanced at it and then, showing aggression for the first time, pushed it away and walked past him. She stood silent for a few moments staring at the wall. Caiman was beginning to feel smug. “See? I knew you were playing me!”

Mia smirked. “You’re the one that said I was psychic.” She turned to face him. “But to answer your “challenge thingy?” You’re in love with his sister.” She said indicating Jason. Caiman’s face sobered. “Course,” She mused out loud. “Any idiot could figure that out.” She crossed in front of him as she continued. “But what they might not know,” She paused for emphasis. “Is that you’re seeing her more often than you should be and you’re…”

Caiman’s face paled. “Um, things my friends would know!” He interrupted. “Tell me something Jason would say about me.”

She smiled as she proceeded to walk around Jason. “You’re strong…though not that strong,” She began, bringing first a smile and then a cloud to Caiman’s face. “You’re…in love with his sister; he wishes you’d take a beat. You’re smart, you’re confident…a good friend, but sometimes a first rate jackass.” She concluded softly.

Jason and Hawk burst out laughing.

“What?! Wha…You’re not psychic!” Caiman sputtered.

“Of course not!” Mia laughed. “Did you honestly think Jason and I didn’t talk?”

“This whole thing was a setup?”

“No!” She laughed harder. “On our first date—we talked for three hours.”

“You told her I was a jackass?” Caiman asked, turning to Jason.

“Well I…didn’t say it like that.” Jason replied, trying to soften the situation.

“So you took all that from your “chat” with Jason?” Caiman moaned.

“Some of it,” Mia admitted. “The rest of it I figured out right here.”

“You should be an agent, Mia!” Hawk exclaimed.

Mia smiled. “Nah, I think music is exciting enough for me, right now.”

Caiman moaned, his head in his hands. “Look, Caiman, I’m sorry.” She apologized. “You were dissing me. I got mad.”

“That was you getting mad?” Hawk exclaimed in amazement.

Mia ignored her. “Caiman?”

He kept his head down, but his body shook. “Aw!” She said, starting to feel really bad. She started to go over to him.

“Leave me alone!” He commanded. Mia stopped, her heart beginning to ache. “I’m really sorry.”

“No you’re not,” He shot back. “But you will be!”

“Caiman?” Jason asked nervously, surprised at the sudden charge of aggression in his friend’s tone.

Caiman clenched his teeth and rushed at Mia.

“Caiman no!” Hawk cried in horror.

Just what he was going to do to her, no one ever found out. Because at the last possible second, Mia bent over as if she were going to tie her shoes; before Caiman knew what was happening, he was airborne—and in a nose dive. He hit the floor with a sickening thud, bounced once, rolled over and looked at Mia in shock, then scrambled to his feet and fled the room.

After a few moments Mia managed to stammer. “Did…did I…?”

“No,” Jason replied. “He’s been building pressure for some time. You just happen to be the person he cut loose on.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes I’m sure.”

“I didn’t mean to upset him. I mean for someone that obnoxious, you’d think he’d have a tougher shell.” She mused. “But then, but then people like that are usually using their swag to hide insecurity.”

Jason smiled. “You should be a psychologist.”

Mia made a face. “Yeah like you should be a singer, Mr. Music!” She teased punching him in the arm.

“Ah! Hey!” He exclaimed. “Don’t punch my shoulder it hurts.”

But she showed him no mercy and punched him again. “One would think a ninja would be more tough!”

“Ah!” Jason almost shouted, doubly sore for the second impact. He seized her arm in a vice-like grip.

“Ouch! That hurts!” She almost shouted in painful surprise. Jason let go.

“And I’m officially a third wheel.” Hawk stated as she turned to go.

“Oh, I’m sorry…” Jason began only to be cut off.

“No that’s alright. You two love birds need your time.” Hawk replied as she continued to leave.

“We’re not lovebirds,” Mia objected, rubbing her arm.

Hawk started to counter, but changed her mind and the subject. “I’ve finished my analysis. You were right, Mia, there is lotion on the pen, and a slight hint of perfume on the bed sheets.”

“What kind?” Mia wanted to know.

“There wasn’t enough to get a proper sample,” Hawk replied. “I’d have to bring a more sensitive device in here and by that time the scent will be gone. But I did recognize the lotion as being cotton candy.”

Mia wrinkled her nose. “Cotton candy?”

“That’s what they call it,” Hawk said with a shrug. “I know because I use it.”

Jason nodded. “And the finger prints?”

“I guess she wore gloves.” Hawk sighed. “Now if I could figure out what type of gloves and where they came from, we might be able to get a lead on who bought them.”

“Oh I don’t think that’ll be necessary,” Jason assured her. “Just do a handwriting test.”

“That would be faster,” Hawk agreed. “And I really think you should do what she said and wash the sheets—we don’t want you reabsorbing any of that poison.”

“The note said that it shouldn’t affect him as long as it’s not in an open wound.” Mia reminded her.

“Well just in case she’s lying,” Hawk returned as she again picked up her things. She headed out of the room leaving her sentence unfinished.

Jason smiled. “Bye, Hawkie!” He called after her.

“Bye.” She called back.

“Hawkie?” Mia asked him, mischief coloring her voice.

“Oh…well, you know.” Jason dodged.

“Don’t worry, Jase, I’m not jealous.” Mia soothed. “You never completely attached to anyone.”

Jason grimaced.

“It’s hard when they’re taken away,” She continued, sobering. “Believe me, I know.”

They were silent for a while each lost in thought. Jason realizing the weight of her statement and wanting to know more, but not wanting to push into her past if she was uncomfortable sharing it. And Mia was thinking about…well something connected to what she had said.

“Are you sure Caiman’s okay?” She finally asked out loud. “I’m worried about him.”

Jason half puffed half sighed. “Honestly that’s the first time he’s physically attacked someone for a verbal offense.”

Mia looked at him, processing his words.

“Uh…for saying something he doesn’t like.” Jason clarified quickly.

Mia smiled slightly. “I mean of the two of us, you’d expect me to do that.” Jason continued. “I haven’t yet.”

“Don’t tell me you haven’t ever slapped your sister.”

“She’s usually the one trying to hit me.” Jason replied.

“That doesn’t answer my question.” Mia returned.

“You didn’t ask.” Jason redirected, mischievously. “You told me not to say I hadn’t.”

“Screw you.” She replied softly as she turned and walked out.

“You’re in a mood today, Chica.” Jason called after her.

“I’m just kidding Jason!” She called back. “I have to go, rehearsals started 20 minutes ago.”

“You’re late to your own rehearsal?” Jason asked, hurrying to catch up to her as she jogged down the hall.

“I’m surprised I wasted my time on you,” She teased. “I’m usually late doing makeup. I’m a procrastinator.”

“Well I think you look nice without the makeup.” Jason said flatly as they entered the kitchen.

“If you don’t want me to kiss you, don’t say sweet things.” Mia replied, as she stepped into the elevator. “But I disagree.”

Jason rolled his eyes. “Figures.”

Mia smiled. “Laterz.” She pushed the button to close the doors and send her down.

“Are we still on for drifting?”

“Call me!” She winked as the doors shut, replacing her face with cold brushed steel.

 

 

“So when’s your date coming?” Caiman asked Jason mischievously as they waited at their favorite drifting location. It was an old abandoned race track; they were waiting in an equally abandoned looking parking lot—which appeared to have been converted from the seating area at some point. Jason smiled slightly as he leaned on his new Ferrari (aka birthday present form Shelby and Serena). Today was their field day, when they practiced and attempted to improve the skills they needed in their work as agents. Today was driving.

“You know you’re gonna have to explain why you tried to kill her.” Jason remarked, mirroring his friend’s mischievous air.

Caiman groaned. “Dude, that was three days ago!”

Jason scoffed as he shifted his gaze towards the track.

“‘Sides, I already apologized.” Caiman continued, undaunted.

“Oh, I see,” Jason smirked. “And by your apology, do you mean: ‘I’m sorry I tried to hurt you, but it’s your fault?’”

“Hey! That’s the way she apologized.” Caiman protested.

“Nevermind.” Jason replied shaking his head internally.

Just then the roar of engines caught their attention. Turning to look they saw a white BMW being chased by a white Lamborghini—and headed straight towards them. The BMW was definitely in the lead and came to a quick stop next to Caiman’s Evo. The Lambo trailed around and skidded to a stop facing Jason’s Ferrari. Serena and Mia waved to them from the BMW before opening the doors and stepping out.

“Hey you,” Mia greeted Jason with a hug.

What up, dork?” Serena said, punching Caiman playfully in the arm.

“Ho, ho.” Caiman scoffed, rolling his eyes.

“Hey, where’s my hug?” She asked turning to Jason.

Shelby stepped out of the Lamborghini as Jason and Serena hugged. “So I guess this is her new M3.” Caiman remarked to Shelby as she came along side and hugged him. “Yup,” She replied. “How are you?”

“Could be better.” He admitted as they watched Jason in conversation with Serena and Mia.

“I think you’re hoping too much from your relationship.” Shelby replied, her voice tinged with concern.

“But I love her.” Caiman insisted. “Why doesn’t she love me?”

“She does.” Shelby countered.

“Serena doesn’t love me!” Caiman shot back. “She wants to leave me.”

“You think?” Shelby asked, rhetorically.

“Yeah, I know she acts like we’re not together.” Caiman fumed. “Hell, even I talk like we’re not.”

Shelby smiled slightly.

“It doesn’t matter, I can take that.” Caiman went on. “But I can’t take it when she does it in…well…” He chickened out and let his sentence go un-finished.

“What?” Shelby asked training her brown eyes on his green ones.

“We um…we uh…we bonded.” He began diplomatically. Shelby raised her eyebrows. “Physically,” he clarified.”

“继续,” Shelby replied.

“That’s it.” Caiman bristled. “We do it, but there’s nothing—it’s not fun.”

Shelby didn’t visibly react. “So basically your relationship is 粪便 but you have a great sex life.” She summarized.

“You know, for someone whose just been told I’m hooking up with their best friend, you seem pretty calm.”

Shelby laughed a little, as she prepared to speak.

“She told you, didn’t she?” Caiman half asked half stated.

“最好的朋友,” Shelby replied.

“Uh…would you please stop speaking Chinese!” Caiman demanded.

“Why? You understood me the first two times.”

“Context and body language, Mǔgǒu.” Caiman shot back.

“Excuse me.” Shelby retuned, placing a hand on his shoulder. “Call me that again, and I will 踢你的屁.” She said sternly looking into his eyes. “你明白吗?”

“Uh…” Caiman began, trembling a bit.

“That means ‘do you understand?’” Shelby clarified.

“Um, what did you say you would do to me?” Caiman stalled.

“Do you understand?!” Shelby repeated.

“I think so!” Caiman stammered; he was really shaking now.

“Good.” Shelby replied, letting her hand slide off his shoulder.

“So what are we waiting for?” Jason called. “Let’s race!”

“Yeah!” Serena agreed, making her way back to her car.

“We’re waiting for it to rain.” Shelby said sarcastically.

“Yeah well,” Jason said, splashing in the puddle next to his Ferrari. Mia let out a little scream as the cold water hit her leg.

“Well the track’s already wet.” Caiman observed.

“She’s got all-wheel drive.” Serena countered.

Shelby smirked. “Like I know how to use it.”

“What kind of Lambo is it?” Caiman queried with interest.

“Aventador LP 700-4.” Shelby replied.

“Dang, that’s a v12! How come Serena beat you?” Caiman asked in amusement.

“She doesn’t know how to drive!” Serena laughed.

“Hey!” Shelby protested.

“Well I’d definitely say she knows how to parallel park.” Jason interjected.

“Yeah,” Serena scoffed as she opened her car door. “Her car’s about to kiss yours!”

“You have no idea how hard it is to spin an all-wheel drive.” Jason returned.

“Whatever you say, Bro.” Serena replied, shutting her door and starting her engine.

“I suppose the wet track had something to do with it.” Shelby mused quietly.

“Yeah, and it looks like it’s gonna rain again once those clouds close up,” Mia added.

“The bright side is, it’ll save our tires,” Jason commented, redirecting their focus to the bright side. “Come on, let’s roll. Mia, you’re with me.”

“Okay,” Mia said, eagerly.

“Let’s see if a Ferarri 458 Italia can whip a Lamborghini Aventador’s…”

“…Sexy butt.” Shelby finished, interrupting.

Caiman chocked trying not to laugh.

“Your words, Cuz,” Jason declared as they climbed into their cars and fired them up. “Does she always talk like that?” Mia asked once the doors were shut.

“She’s a little…unpredictable.” Jason answered truthfully. “I think she’s playing on the fact that I said it was a sexy car—gorgeous was the word I used, I believe.”

“That’s a lot of variables.” Mia laughed.

“Well…” Jason began, as he rolled his 458 into action.

“You don’t have to explain to me,” Mia interrupted. “Just drive.” So saying she leaned back onto her headrest.”

“Fair enough,” He conceded. “You set up the hangout.”

“Hangout?”

“Yeah, it’s how we keep in touch.”

She laughed, “Seriously?”

“Seriously.” Jason affirmed. “You’ve never done that before?”

Mia gave him a look. “Not in a car!”

“Oh. Well, we don’t look at each other unless we’re stopped.” Jason explained, laughing. “It’s a lot better than conference call.”

“I can imagine,” Mia agreed as she joined the hangout from Jason’s phone.

“Hey.” Caiman greeted them.

“There he is!” Shelby added.

“Don’t forget her,” Serena interjected. “Don’t they look so cute together?”

Jason rolled his eyes. “I thought you said you don’t look at each other while driving.” Mia reminded him.

“Eyes on the road everyone,” Jason commanded. “We are on the track in three, two, one.

They all shifted into high gear maneuvering around each other on the slippery track. It was a three lap test race so no one really pushed it. They had to get a feel for the track first—especially since it was wet. Jason, being the most skilled driver in those types of conditions ended up leading the pack. Serena who was almost as good as her brother, came in second.

“Good run, guys!” Jason commended them.

“Did you get a good feel for the track?” Serena asked.

“Yeah.” Caiman replied.

“Yeah,” Shelby agreed. “Turn three was a little slippery.

“Mm and turn five!” Serena added.

“Yeah turn three and turn five,” Shelby agreed.

“Oh and the straight away after the s-curve.” Mia added.

“You felt that?” Jason asked.

Mia laughed. “You talk to yourself while you drive!”

“Yeah you do, Bro.” Serena laughed in agreement.

Jason smiled slightly. “Well how ‘bout we go for another round?”

“Let’s go another two rounds!” Caiman urged enthusiastically.

“Three!” Shelby interjected.

Serena laughed. “Are you sure you wanna get your butt kicked again?”

Shelby twisted her mouth into a comical shape. “I’ll bet you I come in third next time.”

Caiman nearly chocked in amusement. “Yeah right!”

“The only reason you got out in front was because you were a gentleman and cut me off!” Shelby shot back.

Mia laughed. “A gentleman cuts you off?”

“It was sarcasm.” Serena cut in before Shelby could answer.

“Let’s race!” Jason half shouted impatiently, spinning tires and taking off in a rain storm of track water.

“Ahh!” Mia shrieked in surprise.

“Whoa!” Caiman exclaimed, getting a windshield full of water.

“Hey!” Serena shouted, switching her wipers on to the highest speed and charging after her big brother.

“Oh no you don’t!” Shelby cried, weaving between Jason and Serena with surprising agility.

Serena let out a little gasp. “You seriously just did that?”

“Looks like your training’s paying off.” Shelby retorted.

They went not only three rounds but five, after which they decided to go get something to eat concluding their field day.

 

 

Jason sauntered down one of the many walkways at the agency. The landscaping was sort of park-like and very relaxing when he needed to get away from the stress of the office style work he usually did at agency HQ. As was his custom, he straightened himself and took in several deep breaths of the fresh air. “So fresh,” He breathed as he stopped and turned his gaze up to the deep crystal clear blue sky. “It doesn’t get much better than this!” The young agent exclaimed as he returned his eyes to the path and resumed his walk. He didn’t sense it until just before it happened, a hand struck him in the chest knocking him off his feet; but before he could make his appointment with “mother earth,” two hands grabbed him and pulled him into the shrubbery. “What is this I hear about you, Nephew?” Jason groaned inwardly. It was his uncle—Shelby’s dad; and he knew instantly that Uncle Ma was asking him about the two agents he had dealt with. But he wasn’t sorry for what he had done to them, and he couldn’t tell his uncle that.

“Uh…” He fumbled. “What…well that depends on what you heard…”

“The doctor tells me that you half dislocated the joints of two of my agents.”

“Wow, didn’t know you could do a half dislocation,” Jason stalled. “My skills have grown.”

Uncle Ma looked at him steadily. “Nephew! The reason.” He commanded in measured tones.

“Oh that,” He bristled slightly. “They were having their way with Serena and Shelby—your daughter.”

Uncle Ma looked skeptical.

“They were grabbing her butt and saying dirty things to her!” Jason persisted.

“What?” He exclaimed.

“They were pretending to be police officers.”

“Ah,” Uncle Ma closed his eyes, as he lowered his head in understanding. “And you decided the best way to deal with them was to dislocate their joints?” He queried, returning his gaze to Jason.

Jason could feel his temperature rising in defiance. “I am sorry Uncle, I cannot have this conversation with you right now.” He started to leave, but Uncle Ma seized one of the bamboo poles and flipped him onto his back.

“Uncle, I think they were recruiters.” Jason added softly.

“How do you know this?”

“I don’t know, Uncle. They had that air about them—like something not quite right.”

“Hm.”

“The last time I felt that was when I was with some recruiters a couple years back.”

Uncle Ma sighed. “Alright I’ll deal with them. But next time come to me; don’t break their limbs.”

“I didn’t…” Jason began to protest.

“Jason!” His Uncle interrupted sternly.

“Yes sir.” Jason conceded.

Uncle Ma said nothing else but nodded and went on his way. Jason sat up and shook his head. He didn’t always agree with his uncle but he knew that he was wise and usually knew the best way even if it didn’t look like it at first. With these thoughts in his mind Jason got up and headed for his car. It was time to go out again. He had an assignment to get to.

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