Graves of Memory: Accident Prone
"It hasn't been my day for a couple years. What's a couple more?" - Jawbreaker
"Helluva way to spend tonight," Howard muttered, and tucked his lighter back in his pocket. Sprawled in one of the Academy clinic's uncomfortable plastic chairs, his long legs stretched far out into the hallway. He would have been a menace to passersby had there been any.
"The sign clearly says 'no smoking'," J said. Unlike Howard, he chose to stand. The wall he leaned against was painted an ugly colour a few shades off pink.
"Cram it," Howard said. He scratched as his eyebrow with a thumb, and contemptuously blew a stream of smoke towards Jun. "Now that I'm here, man, you don't have to stick around, you know."
J pushed away from the wall and crossed his arms over his chest. His hair spilled like ink down the center of his back and swayed gently as he went up to the windowed door. The curtain was still drawn around the bed inside. "I found him," J said, and after a moment's hesitation, he went and sat down beside the other cadet.
"All sorts of people are going to want answers," J added. He dipped his head down and closed his eyes. "I might as well stay and see if I can give them more than just, 'he was in your hangar, bleeding to death'."
"Yeah," Howard said, eyes sliding to the side. For once, his sunglasses were pushed up on his head, and his green eyes glittered under the clinic's fluorescent lights. "Like, maybe, what you were doing in our hangar in the first place."
Jun lifted his lip in a delicate sneer. Whatever his response, it was precluded by the snick of the door across from them opening. Howard coughed and quickly put his cigarette out on the metal arm of the chair as the clinic's young nurse poked her head into the hallway.
Howard stood up and was about to ask how his friend was doing when J barked an impatient, "Well?"
The nurse looked taken aback, and her fingers whitened where they curled around the door. "Twenty stitches to his face, and three broken ribs," she said, stepping into the hallway and closing the door quietly behind her. "He has a mild concussion, but his breathing has cleared up. The doctor should be here soon to make his assessment."
"Can I talk to him?" J asked.
Howard smiled apologetically, and the nurse looked between them.
"Your friend was beaten pretty badly," she said. "I'm going to have to report this, you know..."
"'Course you do," Howard said, ducking his head in a nod. He dug his ID out of his breast pocket. "Howard, James. Junior cadet second year," he said, and the young woman reached out to take it.
J stood, pulled out his own ID from his wallet and shoved it into the nurse's hand. He pushed past her and into the room before she had the chance to object.
"It's okay," Howard said, taking the nurse by the shoulders and turning her around so his back was to the door. He stopped it from closing with his foot and gave the girl a rakish smile. "You go call it in, honey. I'll keep an eye on the asshole."
The nurse narrowed her eyes and shoved away his hands. "I don't think so," she said, mustering a frightful glare. "You two are going to come with me to the desk before I have two incidents to report."
Howard knew when to give up and held his hands up in surrender. He took a step back, pushing the door further open with his heel as he did, and peered inside.
G was lying in the room's single bed, his head turned facing the window. A row of fresh black stitches marred the pale skin of his cheek. Jun stood at the foot of the bed, his lips pressed together in a thin line and his fingers wrapped tightly around the bed's metal frame. For all his rush to get in there, J hadn't said a word.
"C'mon, man," Howard called, pushing the door fully open. "Let G have his rest."
He jumped when a half-second later, the alarm on his wristwatch spit out a trio of beeps. "Midnight already?" he said, blinking at the numbers.
Howard glanced over at the clinic nurse and raised a bushy eyebrow. "You know they say what you're doing at mid-... "
"In your dreams, honey," said the young woman.
Howard shrugged - it was worth a shot - and looked over his shoulder again. Just when he thought he was going to have to go in there and drag the other cadet out, Jun murmured something and turned on his heel. "Nurse's station," Howard said as J approached.
"Yes, I heard," J snapped, and proceeded down the hall with his long hair fanning out behind him like a shadow.
Aiming another quick, apologetic smile at the nurse, Howard stuffed his hands in his pockets and followed.