The girl stood with lopsided flowers hanging loosely in her trembling grip; large eyes morose, narrowed slightly; lips the colour of rose petals shaped into an indecipherable twist. Every now and then she'd cast a glance behind her shoulder, to make sure he was still there. He never left her sight. She sighed, more to calm herself than anything, and took a step towards the hospital.
The inside was just as ugly as the outside. The sharp burning smell of disinfectant and illness hung in the air, threatening to enter her passageways, to fill her lungs with their poisonous gasses, to lure her back to its deathly grip. The girl faltered in her steps, laughed shakily at the wild thoughts springing upon her. 'Deathly grip? Seriously?' she muttered to herself. 'It's a freaking hospital you pansy.'
Her feet carried her towards the reception. A woman with round glasses and mousy brown hair glanced up at her.
'Hello, can I help?'
'Uh yeah,' she laughed again, under her breath, not believing what she was about to do. 'I need you to point me in the direction of a patient.'
'Okay dear, what's their name?' The woman's pale, long fingers flew across a keyboard. She stared up at her, waiting for an answer.
'Paige. Paige Fairchild.'
* * * *
It was unbelievable how out of place I felt right now. Approaching Paige's hospital room, the flowers were just about crushed under my nervous, desperate grip. Like flowers were going to sort this out. Still, it was better than nothing, right? I wondered how much she would remember, would it be too much? If it was, how would we fix it?
My heart pounded against my ribcage, threatening to explode with each step I took. I could see her door getting closer and closer, completely daunting. This was a stupid idea. I should just turn and leave, now. Lukah didn't have to know. He'd think I had actually visited her, Jester too.
'What am I doing?' I whispered weakly.
I was there. On the other side of this door, everything could change. It could either go one way or the other.
I needed to go in.
I needed to find out. I had gotten myself in this mess and I needed to fix it.
Settling with a mask of complete indifference, I knocked lightly on the door before entering.
The room was empty.
Confused, I called out her name. 'Paige?'
Something dropped from the bathroom. Instantly, I was alert. I set the flowers on the wooden bed stand before picking up a heavy looking book and took tentative footsteps to the half open door. I must have looked stupid to anyone looking, but you could never be too sure.
Paige appeared right in front of me. I dropped the door in complete surprise, took a step back and crashed into the bed.
'Ana?' her voice was incredulous. 'What on Earth are you doing here?'
'Me?' I shrieked, my voice way too high. 'Nothing! I m-mean, coming to see you. To see if you're okay.'
I shoved myself up off the bed, cheeks burning and pride just about crumbled into a thousand pieces.
'Why?' she questioned, genuinely curious.
Now that I was sure I was in no danger, I managed to get a real look at her. She looked like absolute shit. Her hair was unwashed, tangled and hanging loosely round her shoulders. Purple bruises lined her eyes and her lips were dry and cracked. She appeared to be able to stand and walk alright though. And her eyes showed no fear. Maybe everything would be okay...
'I feel bad,' I shrugged.
She climbed back into the hospital bed, wincing slightly. I noticed a large white bandage covered the majority of her throat. She touched it gently. 'Hurts like hell. I can't even remember what happened.'
'You were attacked,' I said softly. 'Do you seriously not remember?'
She shook her head. 'You were there?'
'Yeah. I'm the one that called the ambulance.' Total lie. In fact, if Lukah and Jester hadn't been there, Paige would be dead. I didn't allow myself to think about that though. 'I just feel bad that I didn't call fast enough though.'
She looked a little embarrassed. 'Thanks Ana. You probably saved my life.'
I definitely did not. Nevertheless, a small smile crept onto my lips at the praise Paige had given me. It was the first nice thing she had said to me since I'd known her.
'Those for me?' she inclined her head towards the direction in which I had put the flowers.
'Yeah. Stupid I know, but I thought they might brighten this room. Is there a vase in the bathroom?'
'I think so, I'm not too sure.'
I headed to check.
'How are you feeling overall then?'
'My throat hurts, obviously. My shoulder's broken and the doctor said I had broken a few ribs. Fantastic is the answer, Ana.'
Paige hadn't lost her fire.
'Just asking,' I mumbled pathetically, shoving the flowers into the now full vase. 'Okay well now I know you're better I should get going.'
'Wait,' she called after me. 'I'm...sorry. I'm just hurting and cranky. Hospitals aren't a nice place to be and you're the first person who's actually visited me.'
'Your parents?' I asked, surprised.
'Like they care,' she scoffed. 'They asked the doctor when I was "sleeping" if I was going to be okay. They cleared off as soon as they were satisfied I was fine. Haven't been back since. Busy with work. Et cetera.'
I felt a pang of sympathy for Paige. 'But you're on holiday aren't you? It's the only reason you're in Paris.'
'Holiday? Ana I don't get holidays. We've just moved to Paris cos it's where mum's job has taken her.'
'Moved?' I gasped. 'Wow.'
'You can say that again,' she huffed. 'Anyway. Thanks for stopping by Ana. It... it means a lot.' She grinned sheepishly at me. 'I'm tired now.'
'Okay,' I smiled. 'Get some rest.'
As I shut the door behind me, I felt something warm settle within my stomach. It seemed like parting on good terms with Paige really does you wonders.