Hospitals had never been his favourite of places. It was something about the smell that had always turned his stomach in interesting ways. He had been sixteen when his mother had died, leaving him alone in a room with that which she had left behind. He couldn't have called it a person anymore. All of the memories, the times shared and lessons given - suddenly gone. Only shadows were left dancing around in his head, tormenting him as he was sitting alone in the room with a weight of flesh that made him shake inside.
He could still smell the scent of sickness and death. It never quite left him, even now. As he walked back into the corridors of the city hospital, those same shadows crept quickly out of doors and lifts. The memory of the Doctor meeting him in the waiting room had followed him upstairs like he had followed the solemn man. Click had been too late to hear the goodbye that he had been promised. The room had been empty but for the slab of meat, laid in the bed where his mother used to be.
Nevertheless, he had come. The phone call had brought him here; his legs had been against the journey from the first moment. The place had always scared him as a child, during the darkened twilight of night. Today, with the sun rising gently above the windows of the hospital, things were no less terrifying. Now alone in the room of his unconscious and attacked friend, Julia had told him that she was protecting his interests by looking after Jerry. Some stupid fight, yet another in the long list that had alreasy caused more pain than necessary, had caught up with him.
Reaching the corridor that he had been directed to, another shadow began to plague Click's mind. A memory, like a vision that fit perfectly into place here, made the point of stretching it's legs in front of his eyes. Here, he had walked his mother to the bathroom in the days before she died; the days when everybody had told him that she was getting better - that his mother would be absolutely fine. Such beautiful lies played with his mind, tormenting him and begging him back. She had stumbled here, but he had held her steady. Nothing had been allowed to hurt his mother; especially those things that he had no control over.
He looked in through the window of the door before entering, and saw the mess that had been made of Jerry. They had cleaned most of the blood away, as was obvious by the little spots of dried blood that had escaped their attention across his face. Gruesome bruises covered every inch of skin that could be seen. His leg was elevated and supported. Hopefully it wasn't broken. Click had the same hopes for the two fingers of Jerry's left hand that had been taped together.
As expected, Julia had been on the lookout for him. She hadn't been at Jerry's side, but near the door looking outwards. Julia had never been the compassionate type, and a change so late in the game was more likely to disappoint him than thrill and excite him. She completely failed to slip out of the room quietly, but that was mostly for lack of effort. Thankfully, Jerry didn't stir.
"What happened?" asked Click as Julia pulled the door closed behind her.
Julia followed Click's lack of greeting with the same introduction. "What do you expect happened?" she asked with a glare to match the mood. "Dim arrived, pissed and pissed. Of course, that means he started screaming and shouting and trying to blame us all. There was only a few panes of glass keeping him away from us, and Jerry stayed outside trying to protect me. He's a stupid f--ker, and make no mistake about that, but I suppose it was nice in a gallantly idiotic sort of way. At least he isn't dead; he could well have been."
"And this is the result of beating Dim, is it?" continued Click. He continued to look in through the window of the door, watching as nothing happened there, but for some reason, that nothing seemed vitally important to him all of a sudden. "It doesn't look like much of a win to me. How much blood was-"
"Win? Don't you absurd. He was so badly beaten that he barely even got a hit in. There was a fight, but it was between Dim's left fist and his right."
Julia did not share Click's position looking in over the wounded one. This was likely a good thing, since Click's eyes were seeing more than just Jerry in that room. There was something else, still and dead in a bed in the corner, or perhaps there wasn't. Maybe Click's eyes were still playing tricks on him. Vehemently, he ignored it.
"What stopped Dim then?" he asked.
"Turns out you don't want to be stuck between a rock and a hard place. Sadly, in this case, the hard place was the police," Julia answered slowly. "After they arrived he got even more angry, and that just made them more eager to take him down. They didn't manage it until they'd called for backup, and that was with Bob and Danny defending me from his more vicious urges. I'd like to say he was taken down rough, but when they actually managed to get him, Dim got weirdly still. He wasn't quiet, but the anger just sort of dissolved. I wanted him to pay. I wanted him to suffer."
"Suppose it's best he didn't, in the end," replied Click. "He won't be in jail for long, knowing Dim and his talents for bringing out the dark parts of people. I mean, he hasn't got all that much going for him, but the angry people of the world flock to him. Shame he's such a s--t singer, or he might have actually made a decent go of things."
"I'll make sure he stays inside."
There were a few moments of silence while Click wondered whether she was being serious or not. "How are you going to do that?"
A twisted little smile moved swiftly to claim Julia features. "I know the right people. There's no wrong people or anything, but certain right ones can do whatever needs doing. Pain in the arse that he is, my cousin has a lot of sway wherever he wants to use it. He won't be happy when he hears that I've been attacked. In fact, I'm willing to bet a lot of money he'll fire whoever tried it on the spot, if he doesn't make sure that the idiot never escapes. There'll be a lot of anal rape in our Dim's future."
This actually made Click smile, despite the echoes in his ears of his mother's last words. "That's quite handy, you know," he told her. "I've never had the power to fire anybody, no matter how much I wanted it or how much it was needed. If I'd made a stupid mistake like firing somebody when I couldn't really do it, I'd seem ridiculous if that person didn't end up without a job."
"I know where you're going with this, and if you even hint at the idea that me being attacked is convenient for you, I'll take pieces of your brain out through your nose."
This made Click stop talking.
Together, they started to walk away, down the corridor and towards the lift. She had told him on the phone that Jerry's family were on the way from a little farther out of town, so he wasn't likely to be alone for too long. Neither of them were particularly attached to him, and certainly neither felt more important than a potential family member, so they walked calmly away, in silence rather than idle conversation. It wasn't until they were both riding the lift down that Click realised what he was avoiding saying.
"You're leaving now, aren't you?" he asked her, glad that the two of them were alone there.
"Yes," answered Julia, without hesitation, "I don't really want to be here anymore. I did what I could, and now I'm going back to work. I don't exactly fit in here. The rock star world doesn't suit me. Honestly, before all this I thought the cry-baby Taylor brother was bad; this is just ridiculous."
Click muttered a sarcastic laugh before speaking again. "This isn't the rock star world, miss, this is the world of the wannabe fanatics. This is where music fans go to fake it and pretend they're more than they are. This is where mediocre becomes talent, and boredom becomes vocation. At least you can escape it; I have to call it life. I don't even know why I came here."
"Cooper offered you a gigantic salary."
"Well, everybody does have a price after all."
Julia let out a teasing laugh before responding. "At least you admit it. Most of our staff will insist on claiming that they do it all for love of the work. The sad fact is that money is why everybody does everything. They don't want the life, they want the lifestyle, and that means the money."
There was another pause in conversation as the topic died down. Quite abruptly, Click found himself unsure of what to say.
As the lift door opened on the ground floor, Click was greeted by the shadow of Joshua Curwen passing him by. A memory now, this boy continued to haunt the corridors, moving quickly in the hopes of finding the person that he was still looking for.
"Was I everything that you wanted?" Julia asked.
Easily understanding her meaning, Click ignored the passing of his younger self so that he could offer a smile to his companion. "Everything and more," he answered. "You did me a lot of big favours, and those are the sort of things you never quite forget. Besides, you do have a nasty habit of forcing confidence into people."
"It's a gift and a talent beyond mediocre," said Julia, oddly optimistic for her. "I hope you don't forget those favours, because you're right, there are a lot of them."
They strode calmly through the waiting room just inside of the entrance to the hospital building, once again in silence because Click had no idea what to say. Considering what he had told her about confidence, he suddenly lacked it completely.
She stopped at the automatic doors and, pulling her glasses away from her face, began to wipe them absent-mindedly with the hem of her blouse. With fresh air coming in from the open doors to defend him from the smell of death and emptiness, Click instead found himself assailed with the smell of the alcohol that she had been drinking before the sun had decided to rise.
"Well don't get shot or anything," ordered Julia without looking up. "I expect to hear good things from you, or you'll be put under review and get fired, so don't be s--t."
Click tried to come up with something in response, but Julia had already turned away from him and started to walk towards one of the many taxis laid out for her to choose from.
She slipped out of his life as smoothly as she had come, with many a bump and bruising. Somehow, it felt just about right. As the car pulled away, and her blonde hair vanished from sight, one last shadow from this place came into view on the bench in the park just across the road from the hospital entrance. There, young Joshua Curwen cried. It was utterly pathetic.