Max walked briskly, listening to the crunching noise his feet made in the snow. Head down, chin dug into his neck, he looked more like a businessman getting home late, but that probably the idea. As he turned the corner, and swung round into a rain drenched side street, he stopped for a second at the wall. His phone was ringing.

'Yeah?' He said, impatiently, after fumbling through his jacket with cold, numb fingers.

'It's Alex. I need you to get over to the apartment now,'

Max looked up from the ground, at a dark, slender figure edging her way out of sight into the next street.

'I'm kind of busy right now,' He said, weakly.

'Yeah bullshit,' came the reply. 'I know what you get up to this time of night. Now, bring your ass over here, there's something you and I need to sort out,'

'Fair enough,' Max hung up, and pulled an about turn, then crossing the road. As luck would have it, Alex's apartment was just a few blocks away, no trouble getting there in just a few minutes. As Max slipped the phone back down into his pocket, his hand brushed against the cold metal of a berretta. Instinctively, he gripped it, only to suddenly let go, and look around, embarrassed. A few floors above him, in tacky, laid out whore house, one of the hookers stared anxiously out of the window, the look of fear on her face only leaving after he'd gone.

By eleven thirty he'd helped himself to Alex's room key, and slipped upstairs, ignoring the elevator. With one fluid movement, he reached the door, slid in the key, and opened the door ajar, sliding through the thin crack. He could see Alex sat facing away from him on the opposite of the room, in a dark red armchair.

'You're late.'

'Yeah I know,' Max returned, scratching his neck. 'I had…issues.'

'Sure. It's been like that for a long time, Max. How long have we known each other?'

That was a weird question to crop up, but Alex had always been a sentimental bastard.

'A long time? You gonna get up or what?' Max said, edging to the back of the armchair.

Alex did get up, revealing black tights covering a pair of bruised, but slender legs. She turned around, glass of vodka in her hand, and kissed Max across the cheek before walking straight past him.

'Problems?' Max asked, touching his cheek.

'You could say that, Max,' Alex replied, wearily. 'We've been on this case for months now, living together, sometimes together,'

'Well, you gotta keep up the whole hooker front, right?' Max grinned boyishly.

'I didn't mean it like that…' She replied, but giggled anyway. 'Look I know, I'm…a little distracting, but you gotta loosen up, you know? Every time somebody says ''Alex'' you look a little wounded. Is there something you're not telling me about? Was your wife called Alex?'

Max shook his head, and collapsed into the armchair. 'It's not that,' he said, head in his hands. 'I just…'

'What?'

'I don't agree with this. You didn't sign up to parade around like that, know what I mean?'

'We're helping people, Max. Isn't that what you want?' She held out a fresh glass of vodka, and Max gulped it down greedily.