Author's Note: I hope you like reading the story as much as I like writing it. :) And just to be clear, the previous chapter was a prologue.
R&R, it would be much appreciated!
7 Years Later
If you asked Jake to describe himself he would with one word: petty. He knew that none of what happened was Sharon's fault. He knew that it was all his fault for being so obnoxious about getting everything right. He knew that he shouldn't have shot her in the chest. He was rational enough to realize that holding grudges was a complete waste of time and a barbaric action, but then again, he really didn't care.
He fought her with bitter resilience and every year in Riley's School for Gifted Homo Sapiens and Pan Troglodytes of All Genders and Races (kind of ridiculous and long, so they nicknamed it, Spy School), when they tallied up the scores from every exam, Jake would win one year, but Sharon the next, and then Jake, then Sharon, for every single year since. Now that it was their "senior" year, he was more determined than ever to keep his male dominance intact.
"Leave me alone." Jake waved off a couple of pesky individuals around his desk. He was at the school's library, (which cataloged every single book ever created), and was studying like mad for their first upcoming exam. And it didn't help that it was Sharon's turn to "win" this year.
"Awww, c'mon... Can you pleeease help me study the chapter on poisons?" The hair-twirling bimbos begged whilst shoving their female assets within his range of view, and the way they hiked up the skirts all the way to their upper thighs left nothing up to his imagination, but "lady parts" weren't his main concern at the moment.
He only scoffed, their class was that far behind in chapters? Pathetic. And really? Why make a school uniform any more disgusting than it had to be?
"Go ask Sharon," He couldn't help but say her name with as much malice as he could muster. "She's the one that got the highest score on that exam." He aggressively started rummaging through his notes. 'Where the hell did my edible plant notes go?'
It was a silent war they were fighting and he was going to make damn well sure that these annoying bitches weren't going to get in his way of beating Sharon on the next test.
"But..." The two girls bit their lips trying to think of some sort of excuse so that Jake couldn't refuse.
"How to put this delicately?" Jake took a deep breath, it was well-known how cold he was, yet some people just never learn. "I will never study with you two. I hate you two so much that I would rather drink all those poisons rather than waste another minute with you two." He added a little smirk. "That put it clearly enough for ya?"
That was probably the nicest thing he had ever said to another human being. The two girls pouted and walked away in what they thought was showing off their sex appeal. "Why is he playing hard to get?"
Jake wanted more than anything to shout, "I'm not "playing" hard to get, I actually mean everything that I said about you, but of course you two are too stupid to realize what I'm saying." But, he didn't get the highest grade on the exercise titled "Keeping Emotions Under Control" for no reason and besides, it would cut into his precious studying time.
"Symptoms of ingesting a poisonous mushroom." Jake often spoke to himself to retain the information better. "Stomach cramps, sweating, hot flushes, vomiting, and diarrhoea. High fever, high pulse, irregular heartbeat, headache, weakness, dizziness, faintness, blurred vision, constriction of the pupils, breathing and chest problems, lassitude, excessive thirst. Loss of coordination, hallucinations, vertigo, confusion, delirium, convulsions, coma."
"Lowering of blood pressure." A feminine voice said softly, her bangs fluttered in front of her eyes which were dancing with a smile. Her hands were full with books, notes, manuals, you name it, yet she still managed to free one of her hands and point at where Jake missed one of the symptoms.
Jake grit his teeth, "I don't need your help." He met her smile with a scowl of his own.
She wasn't stupid, she knew when she wasn't wanted so she opted to start walking away, but her grin remained firmly in place, "Sorry." She said it in a way that was so not-condescending that it was the most condescending thing that Jake ever heard (if that makes sense).
'She is such a BITCH!' Jake raged inside his own head, but took a calming breath and managed to keep his face blank. "Calm down Jake. C'mon Jake, yes she's a bitch, but that's not your issue right now...' He flipped through some more pages and studied, but all the while he couldn't quite push out that pissed off feeling in his body. But there was such a primitive joy in beating her in any exam that Jake was not about to let her snake another win from him.
"I will be your Provider for today." The gorgeous woman up front said devoid of emotion.
Providers, they were probably the most enigmatic people that existed in Spy School. But they weren't all that special, they were basically the same thing as a teacher except that Providers know how to kill someone over a thousand different ways and since Jake and Sharon's class were the top one percenters, their class had even more deadly Providers than normal, but you know, teachers and Providers: basically the same thing.
But the school operated in a way that made sure no student got special treatment. They were allotted a certain number of days to study and learn the material which for Jake's class was one week, then on exam day they were given a different Provider to assure equality.
"For today's exam there will be a choice to be made. It can either be a written exam in which you will have to fill out the entire manual on edible and poisonous plants or a simple exercise." She purred in a strange, beautiful way.
Everyone gulped, some more audibly than others. Usually the final exam was always an exercise of some sort, but when there was a choice, it always ended with at least a few deformities or even death. And it didn't take a genius to figure out what might happen in an edible plant exam.
Jake, like always raised his hand first, he was never the one to back out of a challenge. Then everyone else in the room raised their hands one after another quite reluctantly, that was the effect Jake had on the rest of the spy school students. But Sharon didn't raise her hand ever, but it was just so that she would appear different so that he would notice her, well that's what Jake theorizes anyways.
"Okay so almost everyone agrees to have the exercise." The Provider shot a disapproving glance towards Sharon, thoughts like "she's afraid" etched into her mind. "Everyone has an assigned room, there will be a variety of different plants and fungi, some poisonous others not, you must determine which is which. This is a pass or fail exam, if you fail to correctly determine every single item, you will fail." She mechanically said without any sort of remorse.
"That's not fair." Many of the students hissed and rolled their eyes. Jake smirked in his mind, but kept his face blank.
The Provider threw a small projectile towards one of the loudest boys, leaving a rather large indent in the wall right next to him. "Fair?" She clicked her tongue, she slowly walked over to him and whispered, "Do you think nature will be fair? If you were to correctly determine everything except for one plant, do you think you will live because that's...fair?" She stopped in front of him picking up the tiny rock she threw.
The fragile boy paled in color and shook his head like his life depended on it, actually it probably did. The Provider directed her voice towards everyone in the room now, "You might think that there is no problem with throwing away a plant if you aren't exactly sure if it's poisonous or not."
'It's a trap...' Jake taunted to no one.
Since no one was gifted with telepathy, many of the students didn't heed his silent warning and instead opted to nod at what their Provider said. "Fools!" Her powerful voice filled the entire room. "What if that is the only plant available in your region? Or perhaps, you have to eat everything you can or you will starve, what will you do then?" No one dared talk anymore.
"Now, please go into your selected rooms, and just so you know, since nature is so fair." She flicked her trained eyes at the broken boy she almost killed with a rock. "You will all have to sample your plants in the end, you will know for certain if you failed the immediate test or not." She cooed like a wicked creature. "For those who are not poisoned, you will know if you determined an edible plant to be poisonous or not when you receive your grades."
Everyone marched into their rooms without any complaints this time. Jake surveyed his room quite thoroughly, there were over a hundred different types of plants covering every inch of the room, he wasn't even sure what color the room was painted. What was worse was the fact that half of these initially looked exactly the same, this Provider, she was a tough one. Jake smirked and set off to categorize each one.
After a full two hours of this gruesome exercise, the intercom filled with the Provider's voice spoke out, "This part of the examination is complete, go into the next room." Jake followed the instructions and stepped into a room shrouded in darkness. "Now sort out these plants using only your sense of touch and smell, there is an assistant with night vision contacts, raise your hand and tell them what you classify it as." The buzz in the intercom died out.
"I cannot complete this activity." Jake lazily said.
"What are you talking about kid? Get to work." A gruff voice from his left said annoyed by how smug this little boy looked.
"I can't. It's stupid to go searching for plants in the dark, there are a number of plants that can poison you simply by touch or give you some kind of rash. There are also plants that can poison or burn you when smelled directly." Jake said confidently.
"Yeah yeah kid. Walk into the next room." The guard pushed him along the hallway of a different passageway.
"Yes, sir." Jake cockily rolled off his tongue.
"Don't patronize me kid."
"Tch..." The guard growled some obscenities under his breath. When they finally twisted and turned through the maze of hallways they reached a door. He stuck his foot out attempting to trip Jake.
Jake let himself get tripped, but broke his fall in an instant landing back on his feet gracefully and kept walking perfectly like nothing had even happened. The guard rolled his eyes, he always hated the smart, cocky ones. "Wait here kid." He ordered.
"I don't see any baby goats here." He replied earning himself another eye roll. He then looked around the room with a frown. There was one very long table and as many chairs as the table could fit, but other than that nothing else significant enough to report. Of course he wasn't alone in the room. She was there too, lying down innocently on the table like she owned the place.
"Oh, hey." She sat up rubbing the tiredness out of her eyes, there was a small smile perched on her face. "Exam was fun, no?"
"What's it to you?" Jake rudely said. He took refuge on a chair far away from Sharon, but kept his keen eyes on her in case she tried something. "You didn't even want to do this one."
Sharon didn't let Jake's sourness deflect her even a little a bit, "What gave you that idea?" She brought her legs up, but carefully so that her skirt wouldn't show off any feature that would embarrass the hell out of her. Then she wrapped her arms around her legs resting her chin on the top of her knee.
He scowled, "You didn't raise your hand."
"So?" She said questioningly shrugging her shoulders.
He ground his teeth, "Why do you always have to answer a question with another question?" Probably the most annoying thing about her.
"Why do you always have to be angry?" She coolly retorted looking at the tips of her very short hair.
Spy Tip: Keep your hair short, you never know when an accident can happen, in which long hair can obscure movement. As an assailant might use it as leverage, or gum might get stuck causing one to stand out.
Jake raised an eyebrow, "Question withdrawn."
"As is mine." Sharon said cheerfully, she was far more engrossed in staring at her hair. Her head perked up like she thought of the funniest thing in the world, "Did you ever notice that the Providers never provide their names?" She laughed to herself, it was such a bad joke that it was funny, but Jake didn't dare give her the satisfaction of knowing. Not that she really cared, she said it more to amuse herself than anything else.
So that's where their conversation stopped. The room remained voiceless, the only sounds came from Jake tapping his chair up and down from its hind legs. Almost all of the students in their spy school believed that they were very involved with each other's lives, but in reality they were little more than acquaintances. So Sharon was honestly uninterested in why Jake was how he was.
Soon assistants walked in and placed plates in front of them, they were labeled: Jake, Sharon. Jake took no more time than necessary and began eating at a regular pace. Sharon gawked, "Y-You're not nervous? Even a little?"
Jake raised his eyebrow again. "Why would I be? I already know I got everything right."
"Yeah...but." Sharon looked uneasily at her plate. Instead of finishing her sentence, she closed her eyes and clapped her hands together.
"Are you...Are you praying?" Jake looked at her like she was insane.
"What's it to you?" She mocked his words.
"That's stupid." He said flatly continuing his meal.
Sharon opened her eyes and said, "And why is that?"
"Is praying going to magically drain a poisonous plant's poisonous nature?" Jake scoffed. "C'mon, get your head out of your ass."
She made a face, "Charming, truly, how many girls have you bedded with that line?"
It was Jake's turn to make a face, "Really? Who says bedded?"
She scoffed then drawled out sarcastically, "Don't you know? We can't all be as "eloquent" as you?" Although she said that, she did indeed stop her prayer and started taking nibbles from her plate of vegetables, fungi, and berries.
"There you go again with another question." Jake rolled his eyes while passing a disgustingly bitter berry down his esophagus.
"There you go again with the anger." She knew it was juvenile of her to rearrange his sentences the way she was doing, but it was just so fascinating how angry this boy could get.
"You're like an annoying parrot, too stupid to think of what to say for themselves." He frowned stomaching down the last of his food.
"Funny you mention that because I was just about to say that you remind me of a cocky little boy that likes to play a big shot when he thinks people are looking. Oh wait..." She ate humorlessly and glared at the plants like it was the cause of her problems.
Jake's eyes flashed dangerously, "So all these years, and the truth finally comes out?"
"I have no idea what you're talking about. Didn't I just say you reminded me of someone like that?" They both knew that that was how she really thought of him, but of course there was no way to prove it so Jake let it go. There was nothing left to be said so they sat in silence, as Sharon choked down more of her edible, but awful plants.
A few minutes after she finished her plate a steady stream of students began trickling in. A few were worse than others. Some had extremely irritated hands or intense rashes ranging from their arms to their knees and even their neck. Some came out unscathed other than a few pricks from cacti, but it seemed only Jake and Sharon figured out that the dark room was a test within a test.
When the final count was taken the other students stared at their plates gulping, especially those that were already injured. There were some pretty serious side-effects when consuming poisonous plants, and Jake knew them all.
"You're such a sadistic little shit." Sharon said dryly. she was the only one who noticed how gleefully he was watching the others, but it wasn't anything praise-worthy mind you. Anyone could have seen it except they were preoccupied with the whole trying not to die thing.
"What the hell are you talking about?" Jake let his natural glare take over his face.
"My aren't we conceited, who ever said I was talking to you?" She smoothly replied without even looking at him.
He was more taken aback than anything, 'She's not usually this...mouthy? Sassy? Spunky? Mean? Retort-y?' Jake snapped his fingers in what could be the loudest snap ever made by man, "Bitchy! Perfect word." He was amazed with himself for finally getting the correct word.
"What the fuck did you just call me?" She asked icily.
Jake wanted to shake her and explode, "Who the hell are you, and what black magic did you perform to manage capturing Sharon? That crazy bitch got a perfect score on our martial arts test!" But it would be too boring to say this was someone else. No, this was Sharon and this was the first time she was anything besides her usual cheery, gag-inducing self. And it was far more interesting to say he got under Sharon's skin than saying 'I passed my edible plants exam.'
"My aren't we conceited?" Jake mimicked her in the most haughty, proud, cavalier, you name it, kind of way.
She opened her mouth to say something, but nothing would come out so she remained silent. Jake smirked, "That's what I thought."
Thirty minuted passed and the last of the stragglers finished their meals. Now they played the waiting game. Symptoms of poisoning usually showed up within twenty minutes, but could appear as late as four hours.
In the meantime Sharon chatted with Jamie. Yes, the same Jamie from seven years ago, he was also part of the top one percent of students, but wasn't quite up to par to Jake and Sharon. He hated Jake and Jake hated him. It was an unspoken rule that neither one of them cared to break, so Jake was cut off from entering this conversation not that he was too cut up about it (HA!). No, he was content on eavesdropping.
"Stupid Poison Ivy got to me." He complained, "It's only the first test and I already hate our last year. What could we possibly be studying next?" Jamie asked, he scratched some of the dirt off his uniform's blazer.
"There was a curriculum in the beginning of school."
"Yeah, but who even reads that crap?" He asked even though he already knew that she reads that crap and memorizes it because she's the kind of person that needs to reads nutrition facts, not for any sort of health/body worries whatsoever, but just to know. "So let's hear it then." He said before she could admit to reading it.
"Well we have edible plants, animals that are land-based, aquatic, amphibian, air-borne or such, insects, poisons, gun assembly, shooting accurately, sniping, piloting, driving, proper etiquette in different social situations, camouflage in the wilderness, camouflage in social situations, how to "blend in", pick pocketing, planting items, picking locks, cases, safes, brief cases, or such, smuggling, free-running/acrobatics, hacking, makeshift technology, Chemistry, Physics, drugs, concealing items, emotional deception, survival, politics-."
"I-I get it..." Jamie leaned back in his chair.
"Well, if I had to guess, probably hacking. We haven't done anything with computers since last year." Sharon shrugged.
"Well that sounds easy enough." Jamie looked around bored. "So why the hell were you talking to that douchebag?" Jake clenched his jaw, but didn't let it affect him otherwise.
"Oh, that." She said dryly, "He was just enjoying everyone suffering all too obviously so I called him out on it." She shrugged. "I had never been so angry at another human being before, it was somewhat interesting."
Jamie pushed his glasses back up on his nose and shook his head, "I'm sure, but he's a total dick."
Jake yelled in his head, "You sunova-" He was interrupted by one of the students throwing up. So it started.
One after another, they started dropping like flies. Half of the class was either retching, burning with a fever, or had an incredibly powerful stomachache. And the other half sighed with relief. The intercom voice returned in their worst moment. Their Provider chuckled horribly, "I see that you know who has failed so far." She barely even paused before continuing, "Will Jake and Sharon follow the guard to their left." She shoved that entire insult and request (but not really a request) into a mere three seconds.
"Sure." Sharon and Jake said aloud forgetting that they weren't really supposed to answer.
"So I'm sure you two have no idea what this is about." The Provider said while peeling an orange with her fiendish looking fingers.
"No Ma'am." They chorused, it was a respect thing that was drilled into them since the moment they were born.
"We are trying something a little different this year." She bit ferociously into her orange like it was the fragile head of a hated student. "We are creating a sort of buddy system within the school ranks. The committee, board, and even your parents have agreed to have you two test out this buddy system."
"WOAH! Woah, woah!" Jake shook his head, "Excuse my language, but what the hell?"
"Yeah! Why us? And what are you even trying to accomplish with this experiment?" Sharon stood up enraged. They both wished more than anything to use a range of words that were a lot more colorful, but they were not so angry that they would foolishly invoke The Provider's wrath.
"Well." She lifted one of her eyebrows, it was strange. Why were these two so against this arrangement? "First, you two are the most elite students our school has ever had which would probably contain any potential damage as much as possible. And we would like to see the difference between female, male companionship versus same gendered pairings. How partners effect the overall performance of said team, or to put it in simpler terms, does 1 plus 1 really equal 3. How partners interact with one another that makes the performance more efficient or not." She stopped and quirked an eyebrow, "Do you two want me to continue?"
"I'm good." Jake said.
"I'm good." Sharon said. They spared a glance at each other, it was pretty weird that out of all combination of words that mean the exact same thing (No thanks, No, It's okay, etc.), they chose 'I'm good.'
The Provider's lips lifted into a small, all-knowing smile, but she let it go, "So starting tomorrow we would like you two to meet together for your next exams and help each other, we hope to see excellent progress."
The two of them stood up, their anger was apparent but they masked it like true professionals. "Thank you Provider." They said together bowing.
When they opened the door to leave she whispered subtly, "And don't even think about not meeting. We have eyes everywhere." They gulped inaudibly, it was true, not even bathrooms or showers were safe.
When they were safely out of the door Jake pulled her close enough that he could whisper into her ear, "Pretend I'm flirting with you." He spoke very quickly as to minimize suspicion.
"So you want me to hit you?" Sharon hissed back.
Jake rolled his eyes, "Don't fucking worry, I just need to talk to you about something, but I can't with cameras around, so can you for once just act like a normal girl and giggle or something?"
Sharon sighed heavily, Jake's stomach squirmed, worried that perhaps she wouldn't do it. But she proceeded to giggle in the girliest way possible.
"Wow..." Jake said impressed, "Did you practice that or do you have a lover boy that no one knows about?"
"Oh shut up and just say whatever you have to say." Sharon growled impatiently.
"Right. So when we meet up from now on, let's not help each other, we'll just sit there and act like we're helping okay?"
"Deal." Sharon said. "But... As of right now, how do we leave each other? Wouldn't it be kind of weird if we just leave nonchalantly?"
"You're right." Jake chewed on his lip trying to think of something. "Okay, follow my lead." He muttered, "Until tomorrow."
Sharon frowned, "Wait, I don't think you said it loud enough."
"Right." Jake bit his lip, he didn't want to risk saying the same thing in case they did hear. "Bye...muffin...cake?"
"That was...awful...just...awful." She said flatly.
"You fucking think of something to say." He almost pushed her to the ground in anger, he was doing the best he could damn it!
"Fine." She slowly opened her eyes and gave him her best alluring gaze. "I'll see you in my dreams tonight."
Jake's upper lip curled downwards, "That was too cheesy, they'll never buy that."
"You know..." Sharon shifted, her arm was getting stiff from keeping the same position for so long. "I'm starting to think we're over-thinking this."
"You're right." Jake's eyes lit up like he got an idea. He raised her hand to his lips and kissed it lightly, "Bye." Sharon giggled again and fluttered her eyelashes accordingly.
They walked away from each other resisting the urge to wipe their hand/lips.