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This Nothing I've Become

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10:58 AM. Nick had just finished signing in with two minutes to spare; punctuality wasn’t his strongest suit, but he was on time at least. He’d been given the usual talk about safety and shown how to use the radio they’d given him in case of emergencies. The same protocol was used in every prison, yet they all insisted he listen to the spiel each time he took on a patient at a new place. He did his best to hide his impatience behind a friendly smile as the wizened looking officer rambled on, and luckily he seemed to pull it off as the other smiled right back at him. With a wish of ‘good luck’ and a ‘thank you, have a nice day’, Nick was finally free to make his way over to the right building, aided only by a few short directions the guard had given him.

He never quite knew what to wear when visiting a patient in prison; a suit and tie seemed awfully formal in comparison to the setting, but he needed to be able to pull off the air of authority and importance if he were to gain any respect from the prisoner. With that in mind, he’d chosen to wear a navy blazer with a white shirt and black skinny jeans. In place of a tie, he’d chosen a thin scarf that gave no aid in keeping warm, though he didn’t particularly need it with the sunny weather outside. He looked respectable, or so he hoped. Just so long as no one noticed the fact he was wearing Converse instead of polished black shoes.

He was used to the nerves that came with a new case, just as he was used to the second glances and out-right staring he got from others when they noticed his age. Twenty five was relatively young for a therapist, but for someone working on such difficult cases as Nick did, it was practically unheard of. He’d graduated from College at the top of his class and, in his opinion, had had a string of good luck since then, though others would refer to it as talent. But still, as he made his way into the brick building, he couldn’t deny that all the whispering going on was a little abnormal, even for him. He stepped up to a couple of guards, wishing to ask for directions on where to go or who to see, and it wasn’t hard to assume that they had just been nattering about him -- made particularly obvious from the way they each promptly shut their mouths, with guilt written all over their faces. Shrugging it off, he also tried to ignore the strangely eager look in the dark haired boy’s eyes, and the way he seemed to be biting back a thousand questions that he clearly wished to ask Nick.

“Dr Grimshaw, I presume?” the voice pulled Nick back into the present, taking a second to register the words being spoken and by whom. It was the slightly bulkier male, stood beside the one who’d previously stolen his attention. He gave a curt nod, still trying to gather himself and shake off the feeling that all eyes were on him. “I’m Officer Payne, and this is Officer Malik. Would you like one of us to show you around, or would you prefer to be lead straight to the prisoner’s cell?”

Well, at least he didn’t beat around the bush. “Uh,” he cleared his throat, broadening his shoulders a little in an effort to look more mature, and less like a floundering idiot. “Straight to the cell, please,” he didn’t want to stand around any longer than necessary, hoping the prison cell would at least get him out of view from prying eyes. Had he forgotten to put pants on this morning? Was he wearing odd shoes, or had his quiff somehow grown legs and started to do a tap dance on the top of his head without his knowledge? He highly doubted it, and so he was left to conclude that their fascination with him must have something to do with the case he’d been assigned to work on.

Nick had been given access to only a few notes on the prisoner in question; the amount was so little due to the fact no other therapist had manage to get the boy to talk. Or rather, when the boy did talk, 90% of what he said was pure lies for his own entertainment. Nick had been warned that the boy had gotten through several therapists during his two years at the prison, and that one of his methods for eliminating the shrinks included flirting, and trying to get them to sleep with him. One poor doctor was rumoured to have suffered a break down and had to retire from his duties as a therapist altogether, though Nick wasn’t sure he should listen to such gossip. Of course, being so young and open about his sexuality, everyone who didn’t know Nick assumed that the boy’s overly sexual nature would be his downfall, and Nick looked forward to proving them wrong. He hadn’t read any further past those scarce notes, just enough to know what medications the boy had been put on, and that most everyone had given up on him as a lost cause.  It seemed that no one knew much at all about what was going on in the boy’s head, or even what had happened the night of his crime. The only witness, the boy’s mother, hadn’t been in any fit state to give evidence, according to the case files. It appeared that there was only one thing about the prisoner that everyone seemed to agree on; the boy was pure evil, and deserved the death penalty.

The walk there could only be described as dreary. Nick tried to train his eyes to the back of Officer Payne's head as he followed him down the dank corridors, not really wishing to see all that was surrounding him. He didn't know whether to be happy or worried at the prospect of conducting his meetings with the boy in his cell; usually cell-mates put a stop to that, but for some reason this prisoner didn't have one. It looked as though the cell was going to be the last one in a very long line, which gave Nick something to focus on instead of the other male's head. He almost let out an unmanly shriek when Officer Payne held a hand out to stop him in his tracks; he hadn't seen it coming, and it had startled him an embarrassing amount. The guard raised a brow at him, the closest to sass on his face that Nick believed he could muster.

"Sorry, sorry. Was a million miles away," he murmured, once again finding he had to try and gather his wits about him. "Why have we stopped here?" He glanced over at the cells either side of them, a confused expression on his face -- no one occupied them, which in such an overcrowded prison seemed odd.

Officer Payne had clearly picked up on his train of thought. "No prisoner will stay in the cells closest to him; dunno what they think he can do whilst locked up, but they sure kick up a fuss when we try to put 'em in there. We didn't want a riot on our hands, so we had to concede," he shrugged nonchalantly, as if that were common behaviour in prisons. It had the hair at the back of Nick's neck standing on end. "I stopped you because I felt you deserved fair warning-..."

"I've had plenty of warnings, thank you," Nick cut him off, assuming this was going to be another lecture on how seductive this boy could be, and how Nick might fall prey to his boyish charms. The look Officer Payne gave him was clearly aimed to cut through the bullshit, making Nick rock back on his feet like a scolded child.

"He's dangerous," he continued, as though Nick had never interrupted him. "The last cell mate he had was carried out of here on a stretcher. He's just... He's not right in the head, Dr Grimshaw-..."

"Call me Nick," he interrupted again, mostly because he needed a moment to register what was being said. It would be awfully unprofessional of him to run away, quiff bobbing in the breeze as he made his hasty escape.

"...-Nick," he corrected himself with a little nod. "Nick, I've seen some things in my time working here, and my Dad's an officer too, been working in prisons for nearly forty years. But neither of us have ever seen a case quite like this. I just thought you deserved to know, is all," he finished, getting a little nod from Nick. He was thankful it hadn't been another talk about sexuality, though with the way his heart was now palpitating in his chest maybe that would have been preferable. The guard must have noticed that Nick was unable to speak for the moment, and took the silence as a cue to carry on down the hall. When they stopped again, it was outside of a cell unlike the rest. Instead of bars, the entire door was made of solid metal, aside from a little window just big enough to peer through, and a slot for food.

"He's good at escaping," the other gave the same shrug as earlier, a gesture that was soon becoming a pet hate of Nick's. "So we improvised." He reached over, keys jangling in his hand as he unlocked the cell door. With each click of the lock, Nick felt sicker and weaker at the knees. He hadn't signed up for this, this was far worse than anything he'd imagine he'd be doing this early on in his career. "You've got the radio they gave you when you signed in? Good. If you need anything, give us a shout through that," he nodded a little, opening the door to what Nick was fast becoming to feel was his doom. The metal screeched, sending a shiver up Nick's spine.

The arm guiding him inside was far gentler than that of what he expected from someone as buff looking as the Officer, and he soon found himself stood in the middle of the cell, back turned to whoever was in there so that he could watch the solid metal door click shut behind him. His brows rose, jaw going a little slack as he noticed what was on this side of the door -- scratch marks and dried blood had left more than a little damage upon it, spanning the entire length from eye level to the floor. It looked like something out of a gory horror film, and had bile rising in his throat. Someone had been desperate to escape, and with a thick swallow, Nick prayed he wouldn't be the next one to scratch at that door in a frenzied panic.

"Oh," came a voice he recognised as Officer Payne's, through the small window. "And call me Liam," he murmured, before the sound of his footsteps retreating down the corridor echoed its way to Nick's ears. He was alone, now. Alone with Prisoner Styles.