January 13, 2008

"Al. Hey, Al."

Fingers jab into her side, one of those empty spaces in the ladder of her ribs. Alex reaches out with a blind swat in a useless attempt to thwart her attacker. She knows the voice, but she's positive that he couldn't possibly be standing in her bedroom. This is one of those imagined moments that occur in a state of half-asleep, half-awake  -  but Alex catches his wrist in the palm of her hand and it's warm, his pulse is thrumming exactly where it should be. He's real. "Get the fuck out," she murmurs, smashing the bridge of her nose into her pillow, breathing in the combination of her shampoo and the fabric softener that she uses.

"Al," he says, a second time, his tone firm. He sounds just like their father. It digs at her for the second that it takes Caine to piece together his next sentence. "You're going to lose your job, Bayne. You have to get out of this bed."

It strikes her that she has no idea how he actually got into her apartment, but she doesn't bother addressing that, instead rolling partway onto her back to shoot him a weak glare. "Get out," she repeats.

"You smell like shit, Alex. This apartment smells like shit. When was the last time you took a shower? Did some laundry? Washed a dish? Come on." Hooking an arm around her waist, he manages to rock her to a sitting position, Alex as helpful as a rag doll in the process. "You know it's bad when I'm the one getting this phone call. Neither one of us wants me here, I get that, but I'm staying until you get your shit together." He dipped his chin, caught Alex's gaze regardless of how many attempts she made to avoid his, and arched both brows in question. "So, what's it going to be?"