“But this is really urgent,” said India, “Please, can we have just a few minutes. We’ll be very quiet, I promise.”
Standing behind her, Harold favoured the nurse with his friendliest smile and was pleased to see a little uncertainty creep into her frosty expression.
“Please,” he added, “We just need to give him some very important family news. We’ll be gone before you know it.”
The nurse glanced around to see if anybody else was watching and sighed.
“All right,” she said, “I’ll let you see him, but you get five minutes and that’s it.”
“Thanks,” said India. “That’s all we need, honestly.”
It had all started with India wishing out loud that Box could be there to offer his advice about the current situation. Mr Teeth had offered to loan his not inconsiderable resources to project Distraction, as Harold had insisted on dubbing the current phase of activity. India had been uncertain whether to accept more of his help – so far, his house and the use of a car had been the only things they’d had from hm. All along, India had been squeamish about collaborating with someone who was almost certainly involved in who knows what criminal ventures, but she was pragmatic enough to realise that beggars cannot always be choosers. Still she had sighed and wished for Box’s counsel.
Harold had suddenly had an idea and, well, here they were.
Box was sleeping like the proverbial baby when the nurse ushered them into the dimly-lit room. She went over to the bed and roused his gently.
“Mr Box,” she said softly, “There are a couple of people here to see you. I can send them away if you don’t want to be disturbed.”
Box blinked blearily around the room for a few moments and then his eyes settled on India and Harold.
“No, it’s fine, they can stay.” He pushed himself up the bed and fumbled for the controls to raise the end of it.
“Five minutes.” The nurse said sternly as she left the room.
India and Harold moved over to the bedside.
“I take it things have gone awry.” Said Box, “Pass me that water will you? Thanks.”
Harold handed him the glass from the nightstand while India quickly outlined what had happened.
“And you’ve not been able to contact Mercury and Co since.” He confirmed when she had finished.
“No.” she replied, “But we’re thinking of putting together some kind of a distraction and using the invisibility suits to get inside Infinity Recycling. You’re a much more experienced agent, though, and I wanted to get your take on it.”
“Well, it’s going to take more than a few hurried minutes for me to get my ideas together.” Box said, “Do you have layouts of the uilding, things like that? How many people can Mr Jackson provide?”
“We can go into that back at the house,” said India.
“Are you fixing to break me out of the hospital?” He said, his voice a mixture of disbelief and just a little glee.
“You’ll be walking out on your own.” Said Harold.
Box frowned. “Say what now?”
“We don’t have a lot of time to explain.” Said India, “The demon here thinks he can fix your leg. I have pointed out that it’s a bit more complicated than a china mug, but he seems to think he can do it and, given the urgency of the situation, I think it’s worth a try.”
“OK, I’m here,” said Flowers, as she walked into the cramped security office containing Moon.
“Doctor, we’ve had some developments tonight. Some OGS Agents have discovered our little hideaway and, while we’ve rounded up some of them, there is at least one other, plus a Fallen running around loose. We need to know where they would most likely have gone. We’re so close now with this project, we simply can’t have things ruined by a couple of loose cannon.”
“And you’ve called me in because – ?“
“I was thinking that you could maybe,” Moon was suddenly less sure of himself, “well, give one of them a shot of something that might, you know, loosen their inhibitions a bit, get them to tell us where they’ve been hiding out.”
“I see,” Flowers said, hesitantly. Her cabinets down in the lab did contain several drugs that would undoubtedly do the trick, but... She knew she was being a total hypocrite for being so precious all of a sudden about using her drugs in this way, especially when she had already done so once. Nevertheless, her conscience had been nagging away at her since then and she was not keen to feed it any further. Then she remembered something.
“I think I might have an idea where we can look for your loose cannons,” she said.
Box gingerly lowered his feet to the cool linoleum of his hospital room. The stab of pain he had been expected did not come and he breathed a sigh of relief. “So far so good,” he murmured.
Carefully, India and Harold helped him to transfer his full weight to his feet and stand. On the bed behind him lay a tangle of discarded bandage and broken chunks of plaster of Paris. Box had taken a bit of convincing to get him to allow a Fallen – even one he’d recently been working with – to touch him. In the end, though, he’d relented and Harold had set to work with, it now appeared, good results.
Box took a few test steps unaided and pronounced himself satisfied. He was just pulling on his leather trousers when the door opened. The nurse froze in the doorway when she took in what was going on.
“It’s OK,” Box said quickly, before she did anything rash. “I’m going to discharge myself. I’m a whole lot better and my cousin needs me. Can you get the paperwork ready please?”
“Mr Box,” she gasped, “It’s the middle of the night! I strongly advise you at least to wait until morning, I can’t in all conscience – “
“Please,” said Box, in a firm voice. “I’m leaving. Now. I’d rather not make any more fuss than I have to, so please get me whatever I need to sign and I’ll be on my way.”
And, twenty minutes later, with India at the wheel, they all headed back towards Mr Teeth’s.