"So, did you find out the account problem thing from that paper you put in your pocket?" Maximus asked after a minute or so of silent pondering.
Dammit. I'd forgotten about that myself, trust him to remember. "No, it was just a picture."
"Really? A picture of a suspect?" he raised an eyebrow.
I groaned. "....Yes..."
"Oh, did you know the person?" Maximus quizzed, and then continued without giving me time to answer. "'Cause you, of all people, should know it's against regulation to help a suspect."
"I wasn't helping!" I exclaimed. "I just recognised the person and wanted to do some research, all right?"
"So show me what you found," he demanded.
"Maximus!" I said loudly. "You know I didn't do any research - you were with me the whole time since!"
His face suddenly broke out into a grin. "I can't be serious with you," he snickered. "You're too... mature."
"That statement completely contradicts itself."
"That's beside the point," he countered. "Who was the picture of?"
Frowning, I lied through my teeth. "I don't know. That's why I was going to research it."
"Well... tonight we can get the picture and research it then."
"No we can't."
"'Cause the trousers I was wearing yesterday are in the wash." This was true. However, the whereabouts of the picture hadn't been mentioned in that sentence. This was a form of deception that I'd learnt from much experience of having my words twisted and being lied to. I just wondered about how Maximus was going to react when he found out, not only that I'd lied to him, but exactly why I felt the need to lie in the first place.
"Oh." He said. "To say you're the intelligent spy, you're not very careful, are you?"
Maximus kept his gaze strictly out of the window. I couldn't tell whether he knew that what I'd just told him was completely false or not. He didn't speak. His random mood changes confused me. But I'm sure a lot of things about me confused him too.
"Wanna go to Starbucks?" I asked when I noticed we were close to town.
"Yeah, all right then."
I stopped the car and we walked to the coffee shop. My friend Harriet worked there, and she seemed eager to tell me something. Maximus caught on and told me he wanted an espresso (much to the dread of me - if he was an idiot when he was in a good mood, who knows what he could be like hyper) and then found a table and began reading the newspaper.
"So, I saw the ex at the bank earlier," Harriet told me, curiosity displaying all over her face.
"Oh." Then I realised she didn't know they'd cut his prison sentence short for good behaviour. "They let him out."
"I got that far, Briony," she rolled her eyes. "But don't you think it's a bit strange that he gets let out early, and then suddenly he's in a bank." She paused, waiting for me to catch on. I was being slow. "A bank that got robbed not five minutes after I saw him in there."
"You're too suspicious, Harrie." I told her as she handed me an espresso and a cappuccino.
"I knew you were going to say that." She giggled. "Anyway, change of subject. Who's the cutesicle you're with?"
Oh, I do despair. "Mission partner. Just, just don't, Harrie."
"Oh, but he has amazing hair. Wait, he is single, isn't he?"
I hoped to high heavens that Maximus couldn't lip read at this point. "Yes. But Harrie, just don't. He's a total prick sometimes."
She pouted, putting on a mardy expression. "Fine. Ask him if he likes me, though."
"All right then," I smiled and took the coffees to the table.
He took his espresso and downed it in the space of two seconds, much to the shock of me. Then he looked at me across the table, waiting for me to start a conversation.
So, reluctantly, I smiled at him and said, "My friend likes you."
The espresso had just the effect on him that I'd suspected, and he cheered up instantly.