Flirting, I could accept. He was a guy, after all. And an annoying one at that. But with a MacDonald's waitress? Oh, please. Even he could do better than that, and that's really saying something.

I kissed my teeth as I sorted out all the files and paper.

"Oh, chill out, woman," Maximus complained from across the table.

"My name is Briony," I said, calmly.

"My name is Max," he raised an eyebrow. It was a good argument, but I'd already thought of a comeback.

"No, your name is Maximus. Max is your nickname."

He was silent for a second. "Isn't it kind of, like, coincidental how it's called a nickname, when Nick is short for Nicholas?"

I paused and looked up at him. This had to be the most intelligent thing he'd said to me all day. "That's actually quite a good point," I agreed, nodding. 

Maximus grinned and said nothing, but he slid half of the papers across to his side of the table and started inspecting them. "There's a mistake," he pointed out, showing me a file about a man called Ewan Sidney. "It says he's twenty-four, but it also says he was born in nineteen-eighty-eight, which would make him twenty-two. two years younger than it says."

Wow. "You're right. Maybe if you were this helpful all the time you'd complete missions a lot quicker."

He frowned. "If I can be helpful, you can definitely be nice."

 Sighed, then smiled. "All right then, sorry."

He just nodded and smiled back. He looked back down to his half of the papers, scanned them for a minute, and then looked back up at me. "I'll make you a deal," he said. 


Maximus was actually looking serious now, and what he said was totally unexpected. "I'm going to act like an idiot for as long as you're not nice to me. Because, I don't really like it. And, to be honest, I think you're all right... sometimes."

I was shocked to the core. I couldn't think of anything else to say to him, so I just told him, "Well, so are you... sometimes."

There was a space of semi-awkward silence as I contemplated what might have brought this on. But it was virtually impossible. It was the last thing I would have ever expected Maximus to say to me. His attitude and approach to almost everything just completely contradicted it. 

After I'd collected my thoughts, I decided he was right. "All right then. Let's just agree to disagree. It's common knowledge that I don't like you, and as far as I know, you're not particularly fond of me either, so..."

"Right," he said. "So it's a deal, then?" he offered a handshake across the table.

I accepted it gratefully. "Deal," my voice was thick with the curiosity that probably also showed all over my face, but Maximus didn't seem to notice. He was back to grinning, and when I looked over my shoulder to see what he was grinning at, it was just typical that the waitress was grinning right back at him.

I put my head on the table, despairing for the human race.

The End

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