Ashton found out that the place Michael was talking about was a small Ice Cream shop just outside the train station. They sold things other than Ice Cream, but Ashton wasn't sure what. They made their way into the small, nearly empty building and up to the counter.
Ashton watched as Michael quickly looked over the menu and began to order, when he finished he looked over to Ashton to do the same. Ashton bowed his head and mumbled that he would like a grilled cheese sandwich and a cone of chocolate ice cream.
Despite his best efforts not to, Michael found Ashton's shy ways to be very amusing and slightly cute. When Ashton reached for his wallet, Michael put his hand out to stop him.
“It's on me, I owe you for helping me study anyway.” He said, grabbing about $15 and giving it to the lady working the counter. She smiled and said that they would deliver the food when it was finished.
Michael thanked the cashier and went to find a seat, Ashton trailing behind.
When Michael found a seat he took it. Ashton took a quick look around the place, noticing the exits and the windows. Once he was satisfied that he knew where everything was, he sat down across from the older boy.
Michael noticed the way that Ashton checked his surroundings before sitting down. He knew what he was doing, seeing as he had done it not 2 minutes prior, but he couldn't figure out why.
Thinking about it, there was a lot that he couldn't seem to figure out about Ashton. When he finally sat down, Michael took the chance to look at him closely. He was positive that it was the boy from the alley, but he was also almost sure that the boy didn't recognize him. Michael debated telling him, but each time he was about to, he second guessed himself.
“So, what do you do for fun?” Michael finally settled on asking. The question wasn't hard, and he figured about as far from an invasive question as he could get. Ashton still jumped when Michael first spoke up, but then he looked into Michael's eyes, which he decided was a step up from how they had been.
Ashton shrugged, looking up a Michael again. “Read I guess. I don't have any video games or anything so I just-”
“What!” Michael exclaimed, appalled by the idea that a 16 year old boy didn't have any video games. He quieted down when he saw Ashton jump and shy into himself. “Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you, I just can't believe you don't have any games.” He said, thinking about how he could fix the situation.
“That's it, you are definitely coming over to my house sometime, and I am educating you on video games until you will be begging for Henry to buy you one.” Michael decided, not giving Ashton any say so on the matter.
Ashton laughed at Michael's childish behavior, and before either of them knew it, they were talking freely, like life long friends. Michael wouldn't stop asking questions, like what Ashton's favorite food was, and when his birthday was. They had gotten their food at some point in time, but they didn't really notice, instead they just talked as Michael ate his food and Ashton picked at his.
Before long, they were laughing and Michael was happy to see Ashton look so happy. He barely knew the kid, but something about him gave off this lonely aura, like there was something missing from him. Michael continued asking Ashton questions and soon Ashton did the same.
“Okay, what about siblings? I didn't see any at your house, but I don't know.” Michael asked. He regretted it the second he looked up from his food and into Ashton's eyes. He knew he had asked the wrong question when Ashton looked away, setting his sandwich down.
“Ah, you don't have to answer that if you don't want to.” Michael explained. Ashton gave him a sad smile.
“It's fine, yeah, I have a brother, his name is Jackson.” Ashton said, a bitter smile befalling his face. “I guess he would be 11 this year.” He said, a distant look in his eyes.
“Where is he?” Michael found himself asking, although he knew that he should have let the subject drop.
“Safe, that's all I now, we got separated four years ago. I haven't seen him since.” Ashton finished, giving Michael a small smile.
“What about you? Any siblings?” He asked, Michael knew he was trying to switch topics off himself, and, figuring he had delved deep enough into the boy's past he allowed it.
“Nope. I'm an only child. I live with my Uncle because my parents were always so busy when I was younger. He's looked after me since I was 7.” Ashton smiled, Michael looked so happy when he talked about his family, it made Ashton a little jealous.
After they made it past the hard subjects, they just talked about whatever came to either of their heads. Finally, after close to an hour of sitting there, they finished their food and left a tip, they left the building, deciding to take the long way and talk for a little longer. They found themselves in the park, and Michael glanced at his phone.
“What do you know, six o' clock and were in the park, I would say we are a bit ahead of schedule.” Michael commented. “Was there anything you wanted to do?” Michael asked, watching as Ashton's eyes wondered, landing upon a group of children. Michael saw the look in his eyes, and wanted to hug the kid.
“Ashton...” He tried, the boy didn't seem to even hear him. “Ashton? Ash!” He said, waving a hand in front of his face.
“Ah!” Ashton flinched, jumping back slightly. “Ah, sorry, did you say something?” The young boy asked, looking at Michael shyly.
“I just wanted to know if there was anything you wanted to do?” He said, looking at Ashton apologetically for scaring him like that.
“Oh, no I don't have any ideas.” He said as he felt his phone vibrate in his pocket. He pulled it out, opening it and reading the message already figuring out what it said.
Affair case, Call me.
Ashton sighed. “Can you give me a second, I have to call someone.” Ashton said, excusing himself.
The phone rang and rang for close to a minute before cutting to voice mail. Ashton rolled his eyes. Just like Henry to tell him to call him and then not answer. He tried again and this time he picked up on the second ring.
“Thanks for calling me, I lost my phone.”
“In the two seconds since you texted me?”
“I got distracted and forgot where I set it.” Henry explained. “Anyways, that's not important, I have a new mission for you, I need you to follow a man named Fred Buckley. His wife thinks he's having an affair.” Henry said.
“Wait a second, I'm a-” Ashton glanced at Michael who seemed to be texting someone and not listening. “I'm a thief, what am I doing following some guy like I'm Nancy Drew?” Ashton asked, his voice slightly snippy.
“Hey kid, you need experience with these things, and you get half the cash from each mission. Also, did I mention that this woman is loaded?” Henry asked, his voice smooth and calm.
Ashton sighed for what seemed like the hundredth time that day. “Fine, just text me the details.” He said, “Bye.” He said, going to hang up.
“What?” He asked.
“Be careful.” Henry said, his voice sincere and worried.
“When aren't I?” He said, touching his side where he felt a piece of gauze.
“I know, I just don't want a repeat of last time.” Henry said, Ashton smiled to himself, before agreeing and hanging up.
“You done?” Michael asked, walking up to Ashton.
“Yeah, but I have to get going, got some work to do.” Michael's face fell, but he nodded in understanding. Ashton began to leave, but stopped short, turned around.
“See you tomorrow Michael Cooke.” Ashton said, smiling and then running off. He missed the smile that spread across Michael's face.