"All right, so what you're saying, is that we aren't actually performing a diamond heist tonight?" I asked, while Derek was digging through his backpack.

"That's correct." He didn't take his head out of his backpack. "I told you you had my word didn't I? I just needed a ride."

"And you needed it to be done at one in the morning?" He looked up and grinned. "Just be quick man, I don't want to get used to the idea of breaking the law after midnight."

"Just keep driving." And with that, he went back to digging. I had no idea where we were, but I had Derek's GPS to tell me where I was going. The problem was that because it was so dark, I could just barely tell that we were still on a road. "Jason?"

"What is it?"

"When have you ever broken the law before OR after midnight?" He pulled out a Ring Pop from his backpack and popped it into his mouth. He then closed the backpack and leaned back into his seat.

"Were you seriously looking through your bag all this time for that? " He ignored my question, just as I had ignored his. There were two reasons I did. One, after Alex's reaction, I wasn't sure what to expect from Derek. And two, I can't explain why, but I was extremely irritated by the fact that he spent a good five minutes looking for a piece of candy. "Dude, if you knew you were going to want it why did you leave it at the bottom of the bag?"

"I couldn't risk it, this was too important." I couldn't think of a single reason why this would be important, but I turned to him expecting an answer anyway. His eyes rolled to my direction. "It's blue raspberry." 

The GPS informed us that we had arrived at our destination. I pulled into the driveway and turned off the car. As I was doing that, Derek unbuckled my seat belt. I looked him in the eyes. He looked me in the eyes. I shook my head. He nodded. I groaned. He laughed. After a few more moments of discussion, we got out of the car. 

The building we were walking into reminded me of the space needle. Except instead of being white, it was black. And instead of being tall and proud looking, it was short, unpleasant, and had a gloomy feel to it. And instead of looking like the space needle, it looked like a broken down warehouse that contained crackheads and raccoons. However, it had a circular roof and a point on the top, therefore it reminded me of the space needle. Inside, I could see a man working frantically at a desk. As we approached, he looked up at us and began screaming.

"Bloody murder! Bloody murder! Bloo..." The man suddenly froze. I slowly continued to walk up to him before I realized the was a dart sticking out of his neck. Before I could reach him to take it out, he fell to the floor. Given my experience in this building so far, I began to back away.

"Let's get the hell out of here!" I whispered to Derek. He waved me off and then pointed forward. I followed his finger and saw a very tall man in a black suit. He had many cuts on hands, and a tattoo that covered most of his face. I looked lower and saw that he was holding a small gun.

"You'll have to excuse Bobby." His voice was so intimidating that if I was alone with him, I'm pretty sure I would cry. "He get's a bit mental when he works for too long. I keep telling him to take shorter shifts but... well, what are you gonna do? He's my brother." He walked over to the chair his brother was working at and sat down. He then crossed his hands and placed them gently on the table. "So, which one of you would be Derek?"

"I guess I would be." The man extended a hand that Derek quickly shook, for such a scary person, this person had excellent manners. He motioned for us to sit in the available folding chairs. "I'm glad you chose to speak with me," Derek said as he was bringing back the chairs. "You'd be surprised how many involved in your kind of business don't take a teenager seriously."

"As long as my clients pay what I require of them, their age is no concern of mine." The man looked over at me. "You've been quiet. Are you all right there?" I nodded nervously, and as I did he chuckled deeply. "Not used to this kind of stuff are you? It's all right, you're handling it better than many have. You may call me Smokescreen, and I assure you, the business I run is quite civilized, for lack of a better word." He once again wanted a hand shake, this time from me. I obliged, feeling slightly more comfortable with my position.

"Jason. I'm his friend slash driver." I noticed that Derek had my chair set up, and I sat into it. "Usually Derek leaves me out of his business, and I'm still not quite sure why he asked me inside."

"It's quite simple Jason. If I found out that Derek had someone in a car outside waiting for him outside, I would naturally assume he was planning an ambush of sorts, and kill him violently." I swallowed the air I had in my mouth and looked down at his brother, still on the floor beside him. I knew he wasn't dead, but if that was the kind of thing he did to his own brother, I sure as hell didn't want to be the next guy to piss him off. "But of course, that is not the case, and everything is adequate. Now, Derek, I'm sure you have the requested amount on hand?" Derek proceeded back into his backpack and took out bundle after bundle of cash and put them on Smokescreen's desk. There had to have been more than three hundred thousand dollars on the table. As I stared at the money, a series of questions flew through my head.

What on Earth would Derek be buying from this guy?

What the hell costs three hundred thousand dollars that can be bought in a warehouse?

Why couldn't he have bought it anywhere else?

And finally, the last question I had actually escaped my lips.

"Wait a minute! Are you seriously saying that you had a large amount of money in that bag, and the RING POP was the most important item!?" Puzzled, Smokescreen looked to Derek (who, for the record, was still eating the candy) for an answer.

"It's blue raspberry." He repeated. 

"Ah, that would explain it." At that point, I realized that I was surrounded by weirdos. Smokescreen quickly counted the money in front of him "All right, this looks like all of it. Just a moment boys." He stood from his desk and walked into the room behind him. I still couldn't help but wonder what he could possibly getting. But the more I thought about it, the more I thought that Smokescreen HAD to have been going to grab a deed to a small house. What else was there? My question was answered as Smokescreen  returned, holding a box that could barely fit his hand. Not what I was expecting. "Do be careful with this, Mr. Waters. This is not a toy, and you can do some very significant damage with it." And with that, he gave Derek the box.

"It has truly been a pleasure doing business with you. I shall see you if I need anything else." Derek stood up and walked out the door. I said goodbye to Smokescreen and began to follow.

"Jason." He called out. I turned to face him again. He walked up to me with a small card. "I don't know if I can say that it will be of any use to you, but if you ever need anything, I do hope you consider returning here. I will of course be more than happy to oblige." I stared at the card for a moment, then looked back up and shook my head.

"I appreciate it, but I don't have the kind of money that Derek does." He laughed again, and place his free hand on my shoulder. 

"Not all of my services are quite so expensive, your friend is just a wild child. Besides, I do not always require money, it is just as possible to trade favors. All I ask is that you take the card and think about it." I did as he asked. I couldn't think of anything I could use it for, but a part of me still feared the man in front of me. Besides, if Claire ever decides to bring me to another suicide mission, I suppose I could use the backup. I turned and walked again. "Safe travels." He shouted on my way out.

As I got back into the car, I looked back at Derek again.

"What is it?"

"Don't you have a license yet?"

"It was revoked by the Astoria court of law. Turns out grand theft auto is a bad thing."

"Stop feeding me bull shit Derek. You didn't need to bring me here." He saw the business card hanging out of my pocket, reached in and grabbed it. 

"You've been acting weird lately, and you didn't answer my question from earlier. I don't know if I want to know what you're up to, but I thought you could use the help." I sighed, and then nodded after a moment. Maybe I'd tell Derek what was going on, I just didn't know when yet. The drive home was somehow easier than the drive there. When we finally got back to Derek's place, he looked down. "I don't want you to get into the same business as I get into Jason. It isn't cut out for everybody." He got out of my car. Before he shut the door I responded.

"Trust me, I'm definitely not in the same business as you."

________________             ________________              _____________________

When I got back home I saw that it was past two. I knew I wouldn't be able to get to sleep, so when I got back to my bed, I pet Shasta back to sleep, grabbed my journal, and tried writing for a third time this month. I didn't really know what I would get out of it, but after my experiences so far, it surely had to be interesting.

The End

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