Brisbane was a nice place, very similar to Phoenix, but with ocean.
Stef, however, was strange. Not the dysfunctional strange, although that was the case, but there was something about her that was just… off, and Vincent couldn’t place just what the hell it was.
“Okay, you’re right, patrols are boring, even if the company is fairly awesome.”
Smug response in three… two… one…
“I told you so.” Stef smugly grinned.
Zing!
“So, now what? We’re out in the middle of Brisbane, and-”
“Stef-sense tingling. I smell cookies.”
“I… what? Cookies? Where?”
“There.”
She pointed off in the direction of- Vincent looked at the position of the sun- west.
“If you take off in a sprint, and leave me in the dust, I’m just going to wander around until some Solstice find me and then I’ll shoot them, and wear their skin and eat their brains to survive in this harsh, unfamiliar land and… stuff.”
“Shut up and come on.”
She walked at a fast pace, but it wasn’t as fast as an Agent in a big damn hurry. It was more like the pace of an out of shape nerd who was just promised free pizza.
“Okay, seriously, this is actually making me hungry so there’d better be some delicious damn cookies at the end of this.”
Stef said nothing and continued running. Vincent caught up quickly enough as Stef had stopped running and was now staring through the window of a small shop.
“Huh. She was right.”
“Of course I was. My Agenty superpowers never fail to produce cookies!”
“You mean aside from requirement right?”
“What did I say about shutting up?”
“I don’t know, I think it was something like ‘Shutting up is for people who aren’t going to buy me cookies and a milkshake.’ Or something.”
“Good answer.”
They walked into the shop, and Vincent thought about filing an assault charge against the amazing delicious smells that suddenly violently assailed his nose. Then he decided against it, because he didn’t know shit about Australian law.
“Three bags of chocolate chip cookies, please, and a milkshake.”
The person behind the counter looked at Stef and Vincent.
“Well, you two make a cute couple.”
Vincent had to grab onto the counter to prevent himself from falling over laughing. He couldn’t see Stef’s reaction, which probably would have cracked him up more. He did hear Stef give, surprisingly calmly, a perfectly accurate response.
“We’re business associates. I don’t know why people think everyone I’m with is someone I’m romantic with.”
Vincent finally composed himself and ordered himself a milkshake, requiring exact change, even though he was still thinking in American dollars. They wandered to a booth and had a seat.
“So, I appreciate the cookies, even though being able to require money is a bit of a shallow gesture. Why milkshakes?”
“Because you don’t have any milkshake of your own.”
Stef looked confused.
“I mean you don’t have any personal milk jugs that you carry around to give you back problems.”
“Oh.”
“By the way, I’m amazed that you kept a straight face when we were mistaken as a couple.”
“/serious face is another one of my Agenty superpowers.”
“I’ll bet it comes in handy often.”
“It does.”
“I’d love to have a /serious face during a poker game.”
“That’d be cheating, in a way.”
“Not any more than you shifting during dodgeball. Or not needing to blink.”
“Touché.”
Vincent giggled, and chugged his milkshake, and Stef pocketed the cookies and they headed back to the Agency, which didn’t take very long, so there wasn’t much conversation. As they took the elevator back up to the field floor, Vincent asked a question he immediately regretted.
“So, I’ve met the tech Agent, and the Field Agent, who’s in charge of Combat?”
Stef winced, then her face snapped into a neutral emotion, and her tone matched exactly the same tone she used in the cookie shop.
“Taylor.”