Charlie - Now This is Slightly Awkward...Mature

Coffee with Mendrick. Just spiffing, that.

It's too hot, and I burn my goddamn tongue. I dump it down on Mendrick's desk. He's watching me...

I turn away. I thought I'd finished this.

Through the wall I can hear Alannah shouting, then a loud smack. Ouch. I would not want to be Alfie right now.

I don't really want to be me, either.

'Charlie...' begins Mendrick. Oh, Jesus. Shut up shut up. Before I do something I regret. Like throwing myself at me.

I smile at the thought. Nope, that would definitely not be a good plan.

He takes the smile for encouragement. 'Charlie, I...'

I stand up quickly, turning away from him. 'Where's Hart?' I don't give a damn where he is. Just anything to get us off this topic of conversation.

Mendrick's thrown. Good. What's he thinking? I peek over my shoulder at him. Yikes, he's still watching me! I scowl and turn away.

Hold the phone - what the hell do I think I'm doing?! I like this guy, right? And I'd quite like him to like me, wouldn't I?

So why am I giving him the goddamn cold shoulder? What is wrong with you, Charlie Broker?!

I collapse into the seat, looking him in the eye for the first time since... since...

'Sorry,' I mumble. 'I'm being horrible. I know. It's just...'

He leans forwards, and for I moment I think he's going to take my hand, or something... 'Don't apologise, Charlie. You've been through a tough couple of days. But we'll get through it... Charlie, I-'

And then the goddamn phone rings. Jesus! Talk about ruining a moment.

I'm closer to it than he is, so I grab it and push it to my ear, ignoring the slightly irritated look on Mendrick's face.


'Charlie-' It's Hart.

'Where the hell are you, man?'

'Not now.' He doesn't sound right. I mean, he never sounds normal, but this is abnormal, even for him. 'I'm not tenate.'

What? Oh, 10-8. I get it. It's code, see. Coppers' code. No one else on the planet understands it. It's one of our best-kept secrets. 10-8 means you're not in private - what you're saying can be heard. 10-9 means an emergency, see, and that's how we can get millions of coppers on the scene without alerting any of the public to, say, a bomb threat.

'I've just... I've found the Knight. He- He wants me to tell you... He wants Mendrick, or... Or everyone dies.'

'What?! He can't kill all of us at once, mate.'

'Yes he can... Alfie's got a bomb- '

He's cut off, and the phone must have gone flying as it makes a loud crunching noise. Jesus Christ, someone's being hit, hit a lot, over and over.

And I'm guessing it's Hart, not the Knight.

Hart's shouting something... I can't quite hear it...

Jesus Christ!

'10-9! 10-9!'

The line goes dead.

I turn to Mendrick. 'We have to get the hell outta here.'

The End

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