• I became aware of my stomach first, it felt as though it was a cement mixer, an empty cement mixer. My head felt just ******** awful and my limbs hadn't even checked in yet. I thought it was best if I didn't think about how they were going to feel when I decided to move.

    Instead I listened to the noise that was emanating from the rest of my small, under decorated, dark apartment. Voices, mostly that of Sam and Phoebe were closest to me. From the sound of it they were in the living room close to the small hall (if you could call it that) that led to my bedroom and bathroom. The voices of Josh and Chris came from the kitchen area, I could only hear the volume not the content, but I could guess that it was just small talk. The tone didn't seem heavy enough for any actual questioning, or answering for that matter.

    I couldn't hear Mikey anywhere moving about or talking so I assumed that he had either left or was still asleep. I guessed the later as it wasn't like Mikey to leave when something interesting was going on. He always liked new opportunities to tell extravagant, self centred, ego boosting stories, usually starting with "OK... I was so pissed..." or "I met this girl...". He really did piss me off sometimes. Plus, the fact that it was before ten in the morning made me lean more towards the idea that Mikey hadn't got up yet. He was extremely lazy and especially unfit, even if he thought he could beat anyone in a race or fight. But that was just Mikey, he would say he could outsmart Steven Hawkins if he thought it would get him laid, or even of he just thought some gullible smuck would believe him. I'm sorry, I'm ranting, but lairs, egotist and I don't get along. So you may ask, why are you hanging around with one? The honest answer is, I don't know.

    I decided that it was time to risk moving, mostly because I was really hungry. I seemed to remember throwing up last night, I thought that might have something to do with it. On the plus side, my head ache was easing off and if I could get some hot drink in me it might go all together. The thought cheered me, so I sat up slowly and pulled me legs over the side of the bed.

    I caught sight of myself in the full length mirror on the other side of the room. God I looked rough. My hair was short and cut into a messy, bed-head style but even that wasn't excuse enough for state it was in at the moment. It was dark and matted on one side with blood, the other was squashed flat where I had been sleeping on it, leaving only the very top of my hair spiky. I combed my hand through it and rubbed the back of my neck only messing it up more and changing the direction of the mess from pointing forwards to look as though I'd been dragged through a hedge. My face was pale and my eyes had bags under them so much I looked like I panda. I rubbed my lips and felt them dry and starting to crack. Ugh.

    I stood, and wobbled but made it to the bath room opposite to the bed room. Locking the door behind me I turned on the shower, I would have to wait about five minutes before I'd get any hot water coming out the shower head (as I said it was an old building with a s**t boiler and worse plumbing), so I spent those minutes getting undressed. I found that my arms and shoulders were stiff and sore, I'd make sure to let them get lots of time under the water. It took me a minute to get my t shirt over my head. I'm sure I looked completely retarded as I got it up to about shoulder hight before realising that this was not the way to get it off with no pain, but as stubborn as I am I didn't want to admit defeat to the t shirt and start again, so I gritted my teeth and pulled it the rest of the way over my head almost falling into the sink in the process.

    Triumphant at last I undid my jeans and and kicked them into a corner of the bathroom. Steam was starting to curl from the shower so I pulled back the curtain and stepped in. All other thoughts were washed away as the first drops of bliss hit my skin turning it a brighter shade of red, all that was left I my head was "ahhhh". Eventually, I was able to fight through the heavenly fog and find my shampoo. Squirting a fair amount directly on to my head I started rubbing it in. I had forgotten about the damage inflicted by the corner of the cabinet impacting my head, and as the soap hit the cut I let out a yelp of surprise as a stinging pain cut though the steam. "Ow, ******** ******** ******** ********," I cursed as I tried to get off. I only succeeded in making more bubbles and adding to the pain until I realised that I need to stop rubbing it and just stick my head under the stream of water. I watched red, then pink, then white bubbles disappear down the drain. Huh, I thought, a little blood can go a long way. I knew it was only a small cut on my head, but head wounds bleed a lot. I wiped water out my eyes and reached for the showergell covering my body in soapy goodness, letting the smell of "radox: lemon-grass and sea salt" wash over me. I rinsed and got out of the shower turning it off as I did so. The room was filled with steam as I dried and wrapped the towel around myself. I wiped away the condensation that had formed on the mirror and saw a marked improvement in my appearance. My skin now had more colour in it, and my eyes didn't look as though I'd got punched on the face. Grabbing a toothbrush I cleaned my teeth and left to go and get dressed.

    I rummaged though my wardrobe until I found a pair of combats and a t shirt, and pulled them on. Looking around the rest of my room I decided that I would tidy up later on. Books were strewn about as well as pieces of paper that had accumulated over the past months of living here. The rest of my apartment was in a reasonable state of tidiness but for some reason I could never keep my bedroom clutter free. I knew where everything was and it occurred to me that my room was the epitome of organised chaos. I picked up the towel from where I had thrown it on the bed and started drying my hair, being careful not to cause any more pain to the side of my head.

    I walked into my living room and found Sam and Phoebe sharing my old chair, phoebe was curled catlike into it's comfortable foam and Sam was perched on the arm. They were both drinking tea from a matching pair of PAC-Man mugs. The chair itself I had got from an old friend of mine as a moving in present as my old one had been burnt into nothingness, (it's a long story). It was deep and well padded, in a kind of burnt amber. It went with the couch and the whole ensemble was set around a glass coffee table. They looked up as they heard my approach.
    "Hey, it lives!" laughed Sam
    "Just about." I laughed as I walked past them towards the kitchen. "Anyone else alive?" I asked.
    "Josh is in the kitchen trying to find something edible, and your doctor friend just left, said he had something important he had to deal with." replied phoebe. I smiled, I could imagine the kind of important things Chris had to deal with. Usually, leggy, breasty, pretty things, with the IQ of a walnut.
    "Fair enough." I said shaking my head. I didnt know how the hell he got so lucky, he spent most of his time either at the surgery or at home. Chris didn't go out much and he still managed to pull better than anyone I knew. I shook my head again. I thought about entering the kitchen but thought better of it when I saw what was going on in there. Instead, I just lent against the door frame and waited for the whirlwind to realise that he was being watched. Eventually, I cleared my throat and slowly Josh turned around, a saucepan and a wok in hand.
    "what?" he asked after a minute. I said nothing and raised an eye brow in questioning. He looked from me to the wok and back to me.
    "what?" he asked again.
    "what are you doing with the wok, kid?"
    "It's a wok... why are you doing bacon in a wok?" he looked at the wok again as though it would tell him the answer. I walked into the kitchen and took the wok off him.
    "Idiot child." I said in mock scorn, handing him a frying pan and throwing my towel into the washing machine.
    "How are you feeling?" he asked turning back to the packet of bacon on the side.
    "I'm Ok, had a bit of a head ache when I woke up but I think I just need Coffee." I replied
    "uh huh, so...?" he asked
    "so, what?" I said tuning on the coffee machine and waiting for dark heaven to start dripping into the pot underneath. Sighing he tuned turned to me and folded his arms leaning against the work surface.
    "Did you have any sort of plan for what your going to do, with, you know, ...her? What happens when she wakes up. What are you going to do?" honestly, last night I hadn't thought any further into the future than getting her here. I told Josh this and turned back to the coffee pot, thinking. I wanted to know why she was here, in Birmingham. And who'd she'd pissed off enough to end up bleeding in an alley. She wasn't a masochist. There was no way she was looking for a fight she couldn't win just for fun. She'd done something that someone had thought had warranted a beating, and a vicious one at that. I didn't know if she'd wake up today or not. When you take that sort of damage your body wants to shut down for as long as possible to recover. She might wake up tomorrow, or maybe tonight depending on how healthy she was. In the past I'd seen her shake off something like this in a couple of days, but that was along time ago.

    "Alex?" Josh asked
    "When she wakes up," I said "I, er," I sighed what was I going to do? "I'll see what happens."
    "Do I have to be worried?" he asked. I turned and looked him straight in the eye, there was no point lying to him.
    "Don't know yet, depends on what she has to say."
    "Ok." This was the end of the conversation, there was no point in him pushing it, he knew that, I knew that. So we changed the topic to other things.
    "You were really going to fry the bacon in a wok, then?" I asked
    "Ha, I was going to try. I couldn't find the frying pan in this crazy mess" he laughed.
    "You mean the frying pan that was under the wok?"
    "Humph." was all the response I got.
    "What's the pan for then?"
    "Eggs." he said triumphantly.
    "right..." I said pouring myself a black Coffee, "you have fun with that. Don't burn the building down."
    "Oh please..."

    I left him to it and decided it was time to wake Mikey up. So far he was lying on the floor next to the couch snoring slightly, I decided to change that. Standing over him I nudged his ribs with my foot.
    "Mikey." I said. He groaned and turned to his other side. "Mikey!" I said again, "come dude, time to get up."
    "nhhh." I took this as an open invitation to use a little more force. I put my coffee down on the table and picked up a hard back that I'd been reading and forgotten to put away. I lifted it to shoulder hight then reconsidered, and lower it to waist hight and dropped it on his kidneys, spine first.
    "What the ********, ow, ********! I'm up! I'm awake!" he yelled sitting up hugging his side.
    "Mornin'" I nodded as he stood up rubbed his face.
    "Ow, that was completely unnecessary," He complained "What happened to a cold flannel or something?"
    "Whoops." I said picking up the book. "It just slipped out of my hand. I'm very sorry." Mikey looked at me sceptically, I grinned and said in mock horror "Oh Mikey, you don't think I would do such a thing on purpose?" Putting my hand over my heart and attempting to look hurt, but not quite hiding my smile I walked back into the kitchen and poured another coffee, handing it to Mikey in a peace offering. He took it and walked away to the bath room. A few minuets later I heard the shower turn on.

    Over the next few hours Sam, Phoebe and Josh followed Mikey's lead and went in the shower, I cleaned up the kitchen after Josh was done "making breakfast". It's never a good idea to be in the same room as Josh when he's cooking. You run the very high risk of being set on fire. Not that my cooking is any better. That is the main reason why I order in a lot of the time. What I can make is Coffee and while the rest of them were showering and getting dressed I was trying to drown my headache in it. At twelve Sam and phoebe left, leaving Mikey, Josh and I alone with the still passed out form on my couch.
    "Do you think we should move her?" asked Mikey

    Josh proposed the question that was going through my mind out loud, "To where?"
    "The bed," said Mikey pointing in the direction of my room. "she'll be more comfortable." he added crossing his arms.
    "I don't care if she's comfortable or not she's not going in my bed, no way!"
    "why not?" Mikey questioned.
    "Because...." was my oh so convincing argument.
    "don't be childish, Alex. Just put her on the bed, she'll be more comfortable, and plus we'll get the couch back." I glared at Josh, it wasn't like him to side with Mikey.
    "plus," added Mikey, "if she wakes up on your bed she'll know that you saved her and be more inclined to answer your questions."
    "She could know that if she wakes up on the sofa." I argued "I don't want her in, on or anywhere near my bed."
    "Alex." snapped Josh, although just saying my name was argument enough.
    "No, Josh. It's not happening." I said "I'm not putting her on my bed." I sat down on the chair and picked up my coffee, signalling the end of the debate.
    "Fine," said Mikey, "then I will." he lent down and put her arm around his shoulders. I was going to protest when Josh sent me a warning look. So instead I remained where I was, hopefully Mikey would fall and drop the b***h. I felt a small sense of satisfaction when Mikey tried to lift her and almost fell over. He was obviously expecting her to be lighter. He readjusted her weight and tried again this time managing to lift her and took her to my bed. As soon as he was out of the room Josh turned to me, "why not just put her on your bed? What's the big deal?"
    "No deal," I responded, perhaps a little to quickly. " I just don't want her there." I added.

    Mikey came back looking pleased with himself, and sat on the now vacant couch, flopping down and sprawling all over it. Josh walked over and sat next to him almost sitting on Mikey's legs, he had to move them out the way quickly and curled them under him glaring at Josh.
    "Ok, so, like...T.V?" suggested the darker haired guy.
    I chucked him the remote, which he caught and span round his fingers. "Any preferences?" he asked.
    "Nope." I said "stick what ever on."
    "Not football." interjected Josh. Eventually, we settled on watching resident evil, then resident evil two, I fell asleep about half way through the second one. I woke up at about seven to the sound of washing up. I walked into the kitchen rubbing my eyes and found Mikey putting dishes away.
    "Hey," he said, seeing I was standing there. "You slept through food, that's not even a little like you."
    "Yeah I guess I needed the sleep." I responded.
    "Yeah. Anyway, do you want something now?"
    "Nah, I'll getting something later on, if I'm hungry." Mikey turned to me looking genuinely worried. "You feeling Ok? It's not like you to pass up food."
    "Yeah, I'm fine. I guess it's just got to me a bit, you know...her being here."
    "Hmm, Ok well as long as you're Ok." he said turning back to the dishes. "Josh left about half an hour ago. He said he would be back tomorrow to check on you two, and to make sure you hadn't, you know, killed her or anything."
    "fair enough, you going too?" I asked
    "Yep, as soon as I'm done with the dishes, I'm out of here." he smiled. "don't worry I'm coming back tomorrow too," he grinned.

    Mikey disappeared at about eight, and I was left alone in my apartment, or as alone as I was going to be that night. I sighed, feeling tired, even though I hadn't done anything today. The feeling annoyed me and I went to get coffee, to try and wake up a bit. Pouring it I thought for the first time about just how familiar the situation was. And how different it was as well. The dream I had when I knocked myself out on the cabinet waltzed through my consciousness and thinking about it all I wanted to do was go to sleep and try to recapture it. Just to see her one more time, even if it was a dream. I gave into it and through the coffee down the sink turning the light off and moving into the living room. I looked at the couch then at my bedroom door. Mikey had left it ajar. Should I check on her? Just make sure she was still breathing or something. The arguments in my head didn't get a chance to yell themselves at me, because I was already moving towards my bedroom. I hesitated out side the door, my hand on the wood. I took a deep breath and pushed it open.

    The hinges creaked slightly, but to me the small noise was deafening. Would it wake her? What would happen if she realised she was on my bed, seeing me standing in the doorway? But the only sound from the interior was her quiet breath as she slept. See, said the voice in my head, she's still breathing you can go back to the couch now. But the rest of my brain wasn't listening and it commanded my feet forward towards the bed. In the darkness, she her skin was almost luminescent. She always had remained me of a picture I had seen of Persephone as a child. Goddess like beauty. What the ******** are you thinking you sick son of a b***h? Demanded the voice in my head after everything that's happened, after everything that she's responsible for, you're thinking about that? I left, quietly and quickly, back to the couch. I turned the light off trying not to think about what I had just thought about. You sick son of a b***h.