As it turned out, Click had ended up spending most of the night with a glass of alcohol in front of him - it was just wine rather than the spirits that Jerry preferred. The company was also much improved. Far from Jerry's body odour, yellow teeth and constant wall of noise, he now had somebody beautiful, elaborate and eloquent to talk with. Usually, Harmony would be wearing something short and abysmally frilly in order to draw attention to her legs, low cut and bolstered to support her chest, and enough make-up to drown a small child. This though, was not Harmony. This was Emily, a completely different person. Emily tied her hair up to keep it out of her face, had dark rings under her eyes, and bothered to wear pyjamas. Harmony was repugnant for Click. Emily was welcoming, nurturing and safe.
Of course, the more he had to drink, the more difficulty he found in keeping his eyes away from her, but since she was the only other person in the room, it didn't really matter. If he didn't look at her, it would likely be considered very impolite.
Their topic of choice was not work. It never was. Emily didn't talk about Harmony, since it made it easier to stop Harmony from talking about Emily. Click found it dreadfully confusing, but nobody really seemed to go by their actual name anymore. He missed the days of school, when the teacher made sure that everybody would sign in, and thus reveal their names to everybody. Simpler times were often not far from Click's thoughts.
You're not talking much, she told him as she poured the last of the wine into their respective glasses. Don't get me wrong; I like talking about me, but it's a lot more fun when you can talk to someone who has something to add, right?
Yeah, sorry, just a lot on my mind, Click replied. He was aware that he was slumped in his chair, and that the alcohol was doing nothing to help him stay awake. It would be an easy excuse to use. Tired as well. It's been a long day, and people have been shouting at me for most of it, or just generally telling me what a bastard I am.
You take things to heart too much. Were you always like this or is it a new thing? inquired Emily. She pushed his glass closer to him, just as a reminder that precious alcohol would always be there to numb his pain for an increasingly temporary occasion. He didn't answer at first, so she pushed a little harder. Has the landlord been making eviction threats again? Want me to kick his arse?
Click laughed at the brazen attitude, but not the reality of the case. "Feels a bit like being slowly strangled from the wallet upwards, but I get my pay check on Thursday, so I should be fine for a while. I can budget easy enough. Think I'll start off by doing something that doesn't actually involve work though. You fancy doing something on Thursday?"
"Depends on the time and the something," Emily answered. "Before seven is fine. What are the options here?"
"I don't know. I don't really do much," said Click. He paused to take a sip of wine and review what he had done for himself over the last few months. The results that popped up in his head seemed to consist mostly of junk food, DVDs and masturbation. These were not likely to be activities that Emily wished to indulge herself with, especially with Click. "What do girls actually like to do?" he asked finally, thanks mostly to the influence of the alcohol.
Emily raised an eyebrow in amused confusion before she answered with another question. "You mean women in general or women like me? I can hardly claim to be normal here."
"Well, you're not, and that's a good thing, but it doesn't really help me in the long run of trying to find something to do here," said Click.
"You need the practise for if you ever get a girlfriend," she teased him. Unfortunately, it only made his chest ache, but she would be completely oblivious to that, so he simply smiled an idle false smile.
The truth was that he thought about the old days of having girls interested in him quite a lot, but he never did so with Emily in the room. Even so, there was little need to consider it. He could never attract a woman anymore. He worked a job that was a constant financial drain, lived in a rotten home that was likely to be pulled out from under him at any moment, and his only friend was actually a prostitute as soon as the lights were down. He had a lovely collection of fake friends whom he could enjoy completely meaningless and shallow conversation with as often as possible, but that was about it.
"You're staring off into space again, Josh," said Emily, pulling his attention back to her. "If you're going to think about girls when there's another girl in the room then that might be your major problem right there. Anyway, you can talk to me about it later; I'm sure I owe you plenty of de-stressing after all the times you've listened to me whining about something. Might as well start now. We going to talk about the big thing?"
"I have a big thing?"
There was a pause while Emily giggled. He liked to see her smile. "I don't know, do I? Anyway, we're supposed to be talking about the details of the problem, not the size of your thing. Can we have a little focus? You told Dim Cooper's put you out of money. I couldn't ask you what was going on then, but I know how you react to stuff like this. Talk to me, like always. How are you surviving with Dim's demands and the whole potential eviction thing?"
Click frowned at her. "I'm going to just say 'bad' and leave it at that. Where you take it is completely up to you; I'm happy either way - though also not. I think I'm just choosing not to focus on the problem. I turn off and just put my attention into working on a way out of it. Should I be cheerful or not? I don't know; I'm poor and I really have no idea what I'm going to do. I can't exactly talk to Cooper about it either. Jerry's usually pretty reliable, but he's turning into a little bitch too. He's not following the program the company laid out, and this isn't good for me because I don't have a damned clue how to make him."
"What's he been doing that's so bad?" asked Emily. "He's usually the good boy of the bunch. You could call Rock and hard Plaice good, but they're too quiet to call anything other than Rock and hard Plaice really."
"Well, Fire Brand are pretty strict on handling publicity and asset attention, since all of their signings can draw either positive light or negative light on them," Click explained. This was one of the few areas in which he actually knew what he was talking about. Cooper had been vehement in forcing it into his brain. "A lot of interviewers and reviewers will twist things out of context, or ask things that are intentionally misleading so that they can trap you in a corner and make you say whatever they want you to say. Somebody like Jerry already has a lot to say, and most of it isn't good. We can be honest here; the bulk of it's downright mutinous. We don't need that. We don't want that. Thing is though, if we don't let him do it, we lose a guitarist, and that puts the band out of action."
"This is all business talk," Emily pointed out. "Why not try and deal with it personally. Jerry gets a really raw deal. He'll likely respond well if you just talk to him about it."
"I tried," said Click, excusing himself. "I tried when the idea first came up. I thought, since Dim had just punched him, he was just angry and it would blow over, but he was off doing an interview today. That's why he wasn't there. If Dim finds out he'll be furious. If Cooper finds out things will be even worse, and I'll be right out of job, home, everything. I'd have to go back to my mum's house with my tail between my legs and take whatever damn job comes my way. I really don't want to do that, but I could easy end up with no real options. I can't think of everything I'd lose."
"Thought you barely even liked it here," Emily told him, confusion in her face and her tone. "I've sat here and listened to you complain about everything from the lobby to the local pub. You only go to the supermarket when you have to because you keep trying to shop around from about four different ones around town. Seems to me like you intentionally try to do things the hard way. There must be something keeping you here if you haven't just gone yet, and don't tell me it's the job because it isn't."
"I hate my dad?" Click offered, but the fact that he phrased it as a question had Emily frowning at him. She bought it about as much as he did, which was not at all. He knew the truth anyway, and that was all that mattered. He attempted to break the silence and the glare that she was giving him by taking a sip from his wine, but found none left in his glass, or readily available from the bottle. "We're out of wine," he added sadly. "I think there's about half a bottle left in the fridge I can get."
"Still avoiding the issue I see," was the simple response. "Well I can't say much when there's more alcohol on offer. Besides, it's only fair, isn't it? We had the other half a couple of days ago and I've been providing today's drinking. I'll go and get another one in a bit. You can pick a film or something. Anyway, before we get to that, focus. You can't talk to Jerry, you can't talk to Dim and you can't talk to Cooper. Who can you talk to?"
"I can talk to you," Click told her with a smile. "You're like my own private councillor and agony aunt."
"Aw, honey, you couldn't afford me," was the response. "Not really focussing though, are you? We need you to get your head on straight so that we can start making you fix this. You're not the best trouble-shooter in the world, but I'm sure we can come up with something together. We can work on it. So who's left that you can talk to?"
A face did jump into his mind, which just happened to be the single worst idea that he could possibly have. Scarily, it was also very likely to succeed.
"I think I should make a few phone calls and see if I can't come up with something so bad that it's actually good. How about you go and get the wine and come back in about ten minutes. We can choose a film then."
"Okay, works for me," said Emily, with a bright smile. "Glad to see you're grabbing the bull by the balls finally. You really have to do something to stop being so miserable all of the time. It's starting to depress people around you. I'll be back in ten."
She left quickly, making sure to bolt his door open so that she could just walk in later. Emily never really was one for boundaries and hushed conversations, but she also wasn't the time to question when somebody needed time or space. It was one of his favourite things about her.
Click picked up his phone and scrolled through the numerous numbers there. His work as a band manager had given him many contacts, and he could barely believe the one that he was about to call, but, after only a brief pause for prayer, he pressed the call button. His little haze of alcohol kept his eyes away from the clock, which would likely cause him issues as soon as the call was answered.
It was sad to think that Julia was not practically his only hope.