I spent all day waiting for Max to text me back, but he didn't. God knows what kind of punishment Boss was laying on him. 

At around midday, I'd gone down to the cafeteria. While I was eating some soup, I'd thought about who deserved a bigger punishment: me or Max? I'd been removed from service because of my wrongdoings. And my injuries.

Max, on the other hand, had been put directly back on the case. Maybe his punishment was worse than mine in that he had to just deal with it. I mean, he'd done less than me. Less that deserved punishment, anyway.

He knew about Joe, and yet didn't report it. I had been punished for that, but would he? His worst offence was injuring Joe, and I was still wondering how he'd managed to do some of the things he'd done. 

Max had not been removed, from the case or from service. It meant that, among other things, Boss would shout at him. A lot. I had heard Boss shout at people before. A mixture of rage and disappointment which nobody would ever want to have thrown in their direction. The force of it, even though I was just a bystander, had encouraged me to find a reason to leave the room.

I knew what Max would say to me if I asked him. "Oh, he just yelled at me, nothing I didn't expect." But even if Boss didn't yell at him, he'd have to face some sort of consequence, and quite an unpleasant one at that.

I just hoped his own injuries would get seen to. They couldn't let him walk with a limp forever.

It was now seven in the evening. I figured it was as good a time as any to call him. However, he didn't answer and his phone went to voicemail. The custom message suggested that this might be the number he gave to waitresses and the like.

"Oh, um..." I cleared my throat. "Max. I was just wondering if you're alright. Because. Um. Well, I haven't heard from you since this morning so... yeah. If you could call me back or... y'know, give me some sort of... form of communication. That'd be great. Um. Yeah. Sorry."

I cut off the call, thinking what a pathetic message that was. He'd probably laugh when he heard it. 

I got up, leaning on the crutches I'd been given, and looked out onto the street for a long while. Every car I saw, I hoped it was Max. Max, or anyone really.

There was a knock at the door. It was my nurse.

"Briony," she said. "You boss is a terrifying man. I don't know what magic your boyfriend worked but you're being discharged early. If you can walk without complete support from the crutch in a week, and agree to be assessed every fortnight, you can go."

"He's not my boyfriend," I said, almost automatically. 

She smiled. "Well, if he's not, you definitely owe him. I wouldn't dare disagree with that boss of yours. Now, it's hospital tea time. Do you want to sit on the chair on the bed?"

"The chair."

She left the room. 

Something didn't feel right. I didn't think even Max would contradict Boss at this point. Boss had threatened me with a bodyguard. There had to be an ulterior motive. What it was, though, I had no idea.

The End

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