Laurie didn’t bother to turn around; she recognized the voice. “Hello Herbert” she said.
“G’day Laurie” said Herbert; he was a little bit muffled because Derek had spun around and lifted him by the front of his shirt. Derek had probably recognized the voice as well, Laurie knew, but as someone who had also just had a bomb go off in her face she fully understood his need to punch someone.
That said it still wasn’t a good idea to beat up staff members. “Put him down” said Laurie; giving the mirror a stern look.
Derek put Herbert back down muttering something about not scaring him next time.
“Do you need something?” asked Laurie; falling into comfortable ritual.
“Yer got a smoke?” said Herbert. Herbert always asked for smokes; sometimes people gave him some, but Laurie had never seen him smoke one.
“I don’t smoke” said Laurie; it was the same thing she had said to him on her first day on the job, and every time after that.
“Good for you” said Herbert and fell about laughing; Laurie had never managed to get a straight answer on why he found this answer so funny.
Herbert straightened up; the ritual was over, and it was business time now. “You want to know where Ernest Mckingle is?” asked Herbert, “Well that will cost yer.”
Laurie was quite happy with the idea of spending money; they were given an expense account for their missions, and Herbert’s information had always been useful in the past. Derek wasn’t happy though.
“We can find this guy on our own.” He said.
“Well, I’d love to see that” said Herbert; it was the thing he always said when Derek refused his first offer.
Herbert sat in the back and twiddled his thumbs while Derek carefully studied the files they had got from the sister, and Laurie drove in random directions.
After half an hour Laurie realized that there was no point in driving if she wasn’t going anywhere, and pulled up next to a rugby field.
Fifteen minutes after that Derek turned around in his seat and said to Herbert, “I can just go to city hall in the morning you realize? I could get all the information I wanted that way.”
Herbert nodded, “Yer, you could; in the morning”
Derek went back to his notes; Laurie went back to imagining shapes in the night clouds.
Five minutes later Derek sighed and turned back to Herbert, “Are you still on your normal rates?” he asked.
Herbert smiled and said, “Damn straight.”
“What level secret is it?”
“Lowest level; only level ten”
Derek turned back to the front, “Fine” he said. Laurie looked over at him and started the engine. She was glad he finally agreed. Even if it did save them some money sometimes, she wished that he didn’t have to dispute Herbert’s help every time.