Story: The first few months of a fresher... (all chapters)

Authors: Heartofstone

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Chapter 1

[Author's notes: I’ve totally revamped this story for ease of reading and the flow of the actual story itself. As this is a fictional story inspired by non-fictional events. These events have happened (so the diologue might not be word for word – it was a while ago people) there are bound to be boring bits. Such as life, and as is the nature of boring things, its going to be a pain in the arse to write and not so interesting for you to read. So these are going to be journal style entries, all in chronological order, just maybe not so close together. With that said…]


Well here I am, I thought to myself as I placed my suitcases on the floor. I looked around, a small ish room with a bed, desk and bathroom. Nice, not quite home but this was only the beginning. I was going to make something of myself here, or at least that’s what I kept telling myself. My parents unceremoniously fumbled through the door with more of my things.


“Do I really have to unpack now?” My mum shot me a glare as she returned to the car to bring back some more things. I set up my laptop on my desk, plugged in my tv and the all important beer fridge. After about an hour or so going back and forth all of my things were finally in the room.


“Me and your dad are going to go and fetch a few things from town, we’ll ring you when we are outside.” I nodded and waved my parents out of my room. They were serving lunch downstairs, and my stomach was trying to talk to me. I grabbed my keys and made my way out of the present pit of things that was my room and made the way to the cafeteria.


So hey, I think introductions are in place here. My name’s Verity, but all my buddies back home call me Vez, feel free, it really annoys my mum! I really hate describing myself to people, but I guess a small part of you will want to know at least a few specifics, nothing like my blood type or something. I’m babbling again, sorry. I’m about five foot and three inches tall and really short hair, yeah people mistake me for a guy sometimes, it’s really funny when they realise they’re wrong!


I’m not goth, I’m not skater or even one of the trendy kids, I’m just me, just Vez. I like to look smart even when I don’t have to, and this is my story.


I just finished with my A-levels and made my way into Portsmouth University. It took us four hours to get here this morning, yeah it’s a little far from home but that’s the idea right? Its right by the beach and next to the city, it’s amazing!


And to top it off, one of my old friends from my French course is down here too! So at least I won’t be all alone. But at the minute no one knows anyone, and the people on my floor don’t seem quite that inviting. So I sit down to my dinner alone and muse about this evening. It’s my first night here; I had arranged with Dean weeks ago that we’d meet.


I soon finished off with my food and returned to try and make my room at least habitable for the evening. About an hour later my parents returned laden with food and general things. I rolled my eyes as they stepped through the door, but free food is free food.


My parents are staying the night down here in some hotel over the road, so at least I don’t have to worry about what time I come home! I think my Dad said something about going for dinner before they left. Can’t argue with that, it’s going to be the last meal bought for me until I go home again.


After a little food and some idle chit chat I made my way over to the union building, there were so many people around, but at least I’d know one of them. I kept calling him, there was no sign. I walked into the bar and my jaw hit the floor. There was no way I was getting a drink in here tonight, around the bar was a throng of people and the queue wasn’t getting any shorter. Sending a message to Dean I left the bar dejected and disappointed. I slowly walked home memorising where I was.


Back in my room I flopped down on my bed, eleven thirty on a Saturday night and you’re in your room alone. Well fine example you’re setting Gregory. Removing my clothes I replaced those that may have a shred of cleanliness in them back in my wardrobe. I grabbed a movie and settled in for the night; maybe I’d see Dean tomorrow. Some first night this turned out to be.




Sunday morning was spent on auto pilot, my folks were still here, and still finding things to do or say. There really isn’t much left and I think it finally hits them that it’s time. This really is it, the last good bye till Christmas. Their eldest, their daughter all grown up and moving out on her own. I could see the glossy sheen in my mum’s eye, she was beginning to make excuses, but she knew it was time.


We walked down to the front of the building and said our pieces. She held on to me like it was the last time she could ever hug me. I was going to be home in three months, what was she getting so worked up about? But what surprised me was my old man, sure we talked, we got on, but we never really hugged a lot you know. But here we were in the middle of the street holding onto each other like it was the first time I was in his arms again.


She kept looking back as they walked away. They knew the day was coming, but I still don’t think that they were ready for it. Blinking back the tears I refused to let fall I forced on a smile as I waved them away. Walking back into the building I couldn’t stop doubt creep into my mind. Was this the right thing to do? Had I made the right choice? My fears were soon squashed by the presence of someone familiar.


“Oh my God!! Dean! How are you man!” I ran to him and grabbed him laughing. We both nearly fell over in the reception. “Vezza!! How goes it!!” We turned and made our way down to the dinner hall for some much needed catching up. A lot of talk and a few jokes later we parted ways. Turns out Dean lives on the other side of the island, that’s gonna make for some difficult times.


I still had a lot to fix up in my room so I try to forget that I’m on my own now by busying myself with all the cables and electrics that need sorting in my room. It took forever but eventually everything all worked fine and I booted up my laptop for the first time since I got here. A little good music is all I need, I keep telling myself.


Later in the afternoon Dean called,


“Hey Vezza, what you got planned this evening?” Taking the phone I sat down to check my emails at the same time.


“Nothing really, I don’t know what’s going on.”


“Well there’s like a pub quiz over here, if you want I can come pick you up. You can meet all my flatmates, and after if you want we can go to a club. How does that sound?” He was really trying, I guess I can’t disappoint.


“Sounds like a plan Deano, swing by here about seven and we can go.”


Later in the evening sure enough Dean came by to pick me up. He lives way over on the other side of the island, kinda sucks but at least he has a car!



I was sitting in the bar, it was all fairly same-ish. Been to one pub quiz been to them all. But here I was getting to know Dean’s flatmates rather than my own. There were a few guys all really cool people, I spent more time talking than answering questions.


“Hey Vez, got a little something for you. She moved in today and said she’d come down, her name’s Rachel an ice skater she said. Not really my type, but you could give it a go!” he jabbed my in the ribs with a massive grin, the booze was working and I just smiled back. Forty eight hours and I might get some, didn’t sound too bad.


Sure enough about a half hour later there she was, of course in my drunken state I wasn’t much for conversation but she did catch onto something,


“Can I get you a drink?” Her eyes lit up, oh yeah so smooth.


Soon enough she was almost as drunk as me. The quiz was over and the barmen were chucking us out.


“So now what?” I was just getting started; it was really my first night out here. I didn’t wanna leave just yet.


“Well the union’s still open; you think we can get in?” We all shrugged at Dean’s suggestion.


“It’s worth a shot, hang on let me get us some taxi’s”


Soon enough there we all were in the union dancing like drunkards. Could have something to do with, we were all kinda drunk!! As the DJ increased the tempo the girls in the club were going mad. Including Rachel, she was trying to get people to dance with her, but there were no takers.


“Hey come on Vez, come dance with me!” I rolled my eyes and let her drag me towards the dance floor. My mind ran wild as she got closer and closer to me, all the time never taking her eyes off me. If she was trying to impress it worked, but being the proverbial prat that I was I thought it was just me being cool.


We spent the rest of the evening together, nothing special just dancing and drinking way into the small hours. By the time we had to leave we walked from the club hand in hand to the taxi bay. I waved them off before walking home with a sloppy grin on my face; this could be the start of something good I mumbled to myself.



Chapter 2



The next day I shuffled down to the canteen, need food, need to feel better! The dreaded hangover finally got me. Taking my tray I surveyed the room for a spare table, great none. There are a few spare places so I guess I gotta shack up with some people. There’s a table, go, come on legs work.


I kinda try to ask them but they look in the same state as me, a few unintelligible grunts between the three of us and they welcome me to their table. See not that hard, new people good, keep it up. My minds gone all Mum on me as she isn’t here to tell me what to do.


“So hi, I’m Vez, I live on second floor,” I sort of send a small ish wave as they smile.


“Hey, I’m Alex and this shmuck is Lewis, I’m sure he would talk, but we kinda had a heavy night.” I smile a little and Lewis tries to wave but just drops his hand. We were all a little rough so finishing breakfast, I had places to be. I made my good byes and left.




A few weeks later I got a message from Rachel asking me if I wanted to join her for a night out with some people. By now I had made a few mates on my course. In particular a guy named Phil; he was kind of a ‘mature’ student. He wasn’t old, just older than me is all. He’s been around the block a few times and knows his stuff. A real down to earth guy with a similar sense of humour to mine.


We decided that we both felt like drinking that evening and what better excuse to meet up with Rachel again?


Later that evening I met up with Phil in the Indian arms, “Hey hey Phil, how’s it going?” He grins and sups on his pint. She should be here soon and can introduce her friends so we don’t look like complete losers.


Sure enough in she soon turned up with her friends in tow, my eyes lit up when I saw her. If the last time we were out was anything to go by tonight was going to be awesome. Her friends soon followed behind.


“Guys, this is Vez. Vez this is Lewis and Alex, you’ve met apparently?”


Her face held a look of pure surprise. Odd though, if I lived in the same building I was soon to meet them at some point one would surmise. Ah screw it, there’s beer to be drunk and women to be had, enough with the thinking thing, it’s only ever got you in to trouble.



I waved enthusiastically to them all before introducing them to Phil. And that’s when it all went down hill through no fault of his or my own. But Rachel was dumbstruck, her face shone as she talked to him the entire time. I had to keep telling myself to calm down; I didn’t think I was saying out loud until Alex thought I was talking to her.


“Huh? Oh no, sorry, mumbling to myself. Got to remember to do something later. No big.” I just smiled at her. She smiled back satisfied, and grinned a little when I winked.


“So when are we moving on Rachel this place is getting kinda boring fast.” Lewis was impatient, in a funny kid like way.


“Aww, Lewis just wants to party!” Alex ruffled his hair as he grinned like a little boy, in a kind of funny way. Something I hoped I’d get to see again, he and Alex were cool people and at least they replied when I talked to them, always a bonus.


“Like your style man, let’s get to the V bar! Pound a shot?” I held my hand out for a high five, he just jumped up and down holding onto the hand instead, I couldn’t help but laugh. This could be more fun than I thought.


“Yeah come on guys! Vez says go!” They all just rolled their eyes and finished their drinks and in no time we were flashing our ID at the doorstep of the V bar.


It’s not the best place to drink in Portsmouth, but a quid a shot it was quick and cheap to get hammered. And as the good role setting students we were we wasted no time.


Returning to the table I carried six shots of what they lovingly dubbed, ‘lethal weapon’ and oh God it is! Whiskey, brandy and something else I wasn’t sure. Three for me three for Lewis. Over the music we stared each other down, shot one, shot two, shot three, and breathe, and suppress the sudden urge to vomit. Oh yeah, I’d be doing this again some time I was sure of it. But right now the thought of it was enough to turn even my hardened stomach and make my liver cry for mercy.


Alex and Rachel watched us in pure amusement. I guess on some primary level both Lewis and me were trying to impress them. I’m not sure about Lewis, he’s not all over Alex but he’s damn close. Maybe there’s something and then again maybe there’s nothing. But we both grinned like a couple of school kids at the two women. But I lost my smile when the DJ changed the track.


“Oh my God, I love this song come on!”


Rachel grabbed Alex and began to grind against her there and then. No one appeared to care so I held myself back, but I couldn’t help the pang of jealousy hit me. Biting it back I decided we move on to the next bar, after all if the dance floor is that crowded she has to dry hump her here I’d rather be somewhere else.




Somehow out of all of this I’d become a part of Alex and Lewis’ little group of buddies. There was Ed, a blonde indie – rock lover. Jamie, a health nut, but funny non the less. Rich, the 6 foot gentle giant- wants to be a copper some day. And least of all Rosanna, funny, loud but definitely unforgettable.


We all spent time hanging out, drinking out and crashing. Hopefully these were the kind of people I’d be with for a long time. They were fun, and we got on. I can’t remember how it happened. It just sort of did. And now, they’re the first people I see in the day, and the last I see at night. We’re a family, and to put it bluntly Alex is totally the parental role!!


She doesn’t have to be, but she’s there for people in a mess, stops fights and makes sure people are where they have to be. I tell you, it’s like our parents hired her to keep us all in line. And if I tell you a secret, I’d fancied her from the first day I saw her with everyone in the cafeteria. And now, we hung out. It wasn’t exactly what I wanted, but hell it was definitely a close second.





Walking home from the club should be a fairly uneventful and not particularly noteworthy occurrence. But more and more recently it was changing. Out of all of us, she decided to walk with me. I mean really, she walked with me; I had to bite my lip just to make sure it was real. Satisfied with the slight wince of pain I smiled inwardly even though we all shivered in the December winds.


“You ok Vez?” Alex turned to my blank expectant face, that look of concern on her face made me want to wrap my arms around her and promise that nothing could ever go wrong.


“Yeah, why do you ask?”


She just smiled and shrugged as we continued. And then something happened, something that broke all of my resolve. It was only the small sober percentage that stopped me. I felt it against my hand, it was hers. Her fingers intertwined with mine, a small squeeze brought me back from my inner monologue. Yeah this was real, and what’s more, no one blinked an eyelid. Maybe they just couldn’t see, after all the sleeves from my trench were pretty long.


Something so simple, and so ordinary and yet so beautiful. I thought that nothing could have spoiled the moment, but then I wasn’t always right. Another group of people were making their way up the same path. I could hear the sniggers and the jibes already. But something I heard them say just didn’t click. They thought I was a man; oh this was going to be interesting. If I just didn’t speak, maybe this would all blow over.


“Hey, hey sweet stuff,” The look of pure disgust on Alex’s face was undeniable, “What’s a good looking thing like you doing with a bunch of losers like those?” I felt the anger rise up in me.


“Watch it Matt, I think her little goth boy’s getting all pissy!”


A loud roaring laughter came from the drunken teens. I heard the guys behind me move forwards, and stop? Why had they stopped? I felt that squeeze on my hand again, so many things said in one action. I knew it was going to be ok, just as long as I kept cool. However, this didn’t appear as if it was going to last much longer.


The largest dolt lurched forwards until his face was centimetres from mine. I could smell the stink of beer and cigarettes just from the air that circulated. But oh God when he breathed on me I nearly retched.


“Don’t tell me out of all the fellas in this town you picked this one?” I slipped my hand from the comfort of hers; leaning back I brought my head down firmly on the bridge of his nose. He stumbled back yelling out and trying to catch the blood in his hands.


“That’s enough!” All faces turned to me,


“It’s a fucking girl! A pair of bloody dykes!” They all went to move forwards, but the fool with the broken nose fell back on them.


“Just push off and leave her alone.” My voice boomed with authority and Dutch courage.


I stepped forward shifting my weight from foot to foot in anxiety, I cracked the bones in my neck in preparation. I was ready for this fight. And then I felt it again, that warm comfort in my hand, the pressure of her body against mine. She was speaking I was sure of it, “Let’s just go ok, it’s really not worth it Vez. Please, let’s just go.”


My features softened as I let go of the breath I had no idea I has holding. She led the way around the group that were still trying in vain to stem the nose bleed. The guys behind took up the pace as we returned. I finally began to calm down until I could hear someone running towards us. I could feel a growl in my throat as I released her; I inhaled deeply as I span so fast my coat floated around my legs. My fists balled and ready, my eyes dead straight and emotionless.


The moron stopped in his tracks not sure whether to continue or run away with his tail between his legs. I held my posture, commanding and unafraid. Even when I felt her pull on my arm I wouldn’t move, not this time. They were asking for it, they had insulted her, they had baited me. And like the animalistic creature that I am I took it, win or lose they were going to know they had been in a fight tonight.


He readily made his decision and mirrored my pose in an attempt to intimidate me. She pulled on my arm again, this time I looked at her. My cold eyes met hers, the fear I saw hurt me. What was she scared of, this or me? No, it wasn’t fear, it was something but she wasn’t afraid. A smile spread across her lips, she wasn’t going to let me fight, but she’d let me keep my pride. She latched herself well and truly on me still in the gaze of the drunkard.


She tussled her hair and undid her coat a little to give a hint to the very little that she wore underneath. Her right hand at the back of my head stroking her nails through my short hair. My impression was failing, her left across my abdomen as she positioned herself under my left arm. I held her possessively still staring at the man who was now ogling her.


“You want some of this?” She implied herself to the obviously excited moron. He nodded panting like a dog in heat. She smiled and held onto me closer. “Well, you’re going to have to go through her,” His face shot up to mine again as the growl escaped my throat. I could have sworn I heard him yelp as he ran away.


The contact between us had become unbearable. I was going to have to let her go, else ravage her in the street. And as much as her display could mislead you, Alex did not play that game. But she was certainly playing this one, and very well. She kept a firm hold until we turned the corner to our apartment blocks. I let her go in silence, I winced at the loss; but it was for her own good. I heard her laughing with the guys and I’m pretty sure I heard a few jibes or commendations. Not sure what.


We entered the lifts, and pressed the buttons for our respective floors. I waved my good byes as I left the lift and made my way to my room. My inner musings blanked out the soft padding of footsteps behind me. But as I turned the key in my lock I saw her out of the corner of my eye, ignoring her I entered. Lo and behold she crept in as the door idled to a close. She thought she had done it, as she released her breath I turned on her.


“Don’t you have your own bed to go to?” I pinned her against the wall by my door. I was already riled; I didn’t need any more encouragement. She winced trying to predict my move. Bless her; she had only known me for two months. Enough to trust me as a friend, but not enough to second guess me. I held her wrists in my hands as my eyes questioned her.


“So is this what happens to all the girls that come to your room?” there was a little bit of spite in her jibe, the venom hit me and once more I crumbled. I let her go and moved away breathing deeply in an effort to calm my beating heart. Undoing my coat I tossed it into the corner, I unbuttoned my cuffs in silence as she stood leaning against my wall.


“Look Alex, I don’t wanna talk about it ok, when I get like this, I’m not really much fun to be around. I’m sorry if my antics ruined your evening.” I tried to add some closure to it, to make her leave even if that’s not what my body wanted.


“You know they’re wrong don’t you?” I raised my head to look at her, “About what they said.” I still was confused. She walked over to me and wrapped her arms around me.


“I don’t quite follow, if it’s about the gay jibe don’t worry I’ve heard them all before they don’t bother me.”


She went to say something but stopped, she just tightened her grip. I felt my arms move of their own accord to rest around the small of her back. She didn’t stop squeezing until she felt me loosen in her arms. But she didn’t let go, I rested my head against her shoulder as I let the anger go. How did she do that? How did she take everything and just make me drop it just like that? Oh who cares, she was here holding onto me, who knew if this was going to ever happen again.


“Do me a favour,” She looked up at me, “Go to bed and dream of good things.” She let me go without looking away once. She was waiting for something, a small smile played on my lips, she grinned back and left the room. As soon as the door closed it all came back. I wasn’t angry at her, or even the morons outside. I was angry at myself, how could I possibly be reading too much into this. She was just a friend, just looking out for me. Just making sure I was ok. That was all.

Chapter 3



A couple of days later I was in my room after lectures. I put the phone down in silence; it was all too real for me, far too real. I heard her voice; I heard the pain that she was in. This wasn’t right, my mum’s invincible, she can’t be this sick. She said she’s due for an operation soon, but she can barely breathe now. I feel so selfish for coming here, for not being there to help her. Tears threaten at the corners of my eyes.


The phone ringing again jolts me out of my state. I guess it’s time for dinner; I grab a cap and make my way down to the café to meet up with the guys. I pull the peak down low to hide my eyes; I don’t want them to see that I could cry at any minute. I stand in the queue with them in silence.


“Bloody hell Vez, I didn’t know you were there! S’not like you to be quiet, what’s up?” I shake my head and continue to stare dead ahead, they went to ask again.


“Don’t push the subject Nick,”


I felt two hands on my shoulders as I saw her; she was crouching in front of me in an effort to see under my hat. Her eyebrows rose questioningly. I didn’t respond I just forced my hands in my pockets. She didn’t say a word and just took me in her arms again. Right there in the middle of the cafeteria, one day someone would catch on.


As we all sat I ate in silence, too afraid that I would snap at anyone. She sat opposite me stealing glances if I looked up high enough.


“You’re being quiet down there. So what’s wrong with you then?” She jumped in and saved me,


“We’re just hungry that’s all. Can’t talk and eat at the same time.” I turned back to my meal.


“Come on, turn that frown upside down,” Nick, the comic, the clown, really getting on my last nerve. I placed down my cutlery and turned to face him, I glared at him dead in the eye.


“Oh I know that look!” There she goes, trying to make me smile. I hate it when she does that. I just want her more.


He backed down and let me eat in peace. I finished my meal leaving a piece of cake on my tray. I really wasn’t in the mood for sweet things; in all honesty I hadn’t really wanted to eat. I kept my head low just waiting for them to finish. In my line of sight the cake was moving. Or more precisely, it was being moved. Alex, using her fork was pushing the small plate towards me. I looked up at her,


“Cake good,” She held up her own as proof. She wouldn’t stop pushing it around until I took a bite. She just flashed me a childlike grin and continued to finish hers.


The guys finished up soon after, we all clambered into the lifts. The large doors opened on the third floor.


“Oh thanks guys, don’t push the second button then.”


I walked out of the lift and headed for the stair doors but a hand on my arm stopped me.


“Hey, calm down. Come on, come and have a drink and tell me what’s going on with you.” I looked at her; those eyes basically threatened a beat down if I didn’t follow her. I sighed and gave in, it’s the last time I swear it.


“Maybe later.” I shrugged her arm off and returned to my room. Someday I will learn how to say no, I found myself knocking on her door about two hours later. Sitting down on her bed she promptly poured to hearty glasses of Baileys. My tongue involuntarily wet my lips as she handed me the glass.


“So are you going to tell me what’s up or am I just going to have to hug you some more?” I smiled a little which earned a poke in the ribs. She stood in front of her mirror trying to fix her already perfect hair. She said something like, if she straightened it now she wouldn’t have to in the morning. I never really cared; her long black curly hair had a kind of Latino thing to it.


I stared blankly at the floor, too scared of getting caught staring at her. She didn’t push me, she wants to know, but like in my own time. She’s so patient; I don’t know how she can do that. I wouldn’t have dropped the subject until someone struck out, I guess I’m a little thick headed like that.


“It’s…it’s my mum.” She stopped fixing her hair, “She’s kinda ill, and she’s not really getting any better.” She swore under her breath, “I can’t really afford to go home and see her either. She’s got an operation coming up, and I’m here.” I swallowed half the glass in one go, her eyes widened flashing with worry.


“Well you know, if its money you need, I can always lend you some to get home.” She had stopped with her hair completely, her entire attention on me. I shifted uncomfortable; I knew she was looking at me. I didn’t come here for pity, she wanted to know. I went to continue, but a loud knock on the door shook both of us out of our reverie.


Great, in he strolled pissed as a fart. Nick, beer in hand and friend behind him rolled into the room. His words were unintelligible but he was messing with Alex’s hair, I couldn’t sit here and watch him. I glared at him, but her glare at me cemented me to the spot. He joked and laughed at his own comedy. He tried to introduce his friend to me, but I really had no intention of even remembering his face let alone his name.


I sat in silence the entire time he was in the room. It took another knock ten minutes later to break my thoughts.


“Hey, hey people.” It was Rosanna from down the hall, finally someone who I could talk with.


“I wanna go get a kebab from down the road, anyone else?” I wasn’t hungry but I was sure up for the ride, anything to get away from the most uncomfortable evening yet.


“Nah, not hungry, but I’ll go with.” Rosanna smiled and nodded as I left the room with her.


We were gone for about half an hour. In the car I had told her everything about the phone call all the way up to prick and co, coming to interrupt me and Alex. Stupidly I was more annoyed that I didn’t get my hug more than anything else. Somehow I think my priorities are a little out of whack. She took it all in with little retort, not picking sides or backing one up over another.


It was when we came home my heart sank. As we walked into the room Alex just smiled up at me from her position of basically laying on Nick on her bed. They were still fully clothed, but the site repulsed me. He had stormed in here and took her from me; I was about ready to knock the little northern bastard out.


I was basically ignoring the conversation between the three on the bed and passing up the lukewarm kebab meat proffered to me. It was only when he started making jokes at me I finally paid attention. But no one went to stop him, or even defend me. He lay on her bed and mocked me. I folded my arms across my chest and balled my fists out of sight. As he laughed out loud at his own jokes I saw Rosanna lean across to Alex and whisper something in her ear.


“Well guys, it’s getting late and Rosanna wants her bed. So good night guys.” She rose off the bed and hugged me and Alex, glared at Nick and left the room.


“Yeah I think I’m gonna do the same so, if you don’t mind people,” Alex stood up and made a shooing motion with her hands. I got the message, but I wasn’t leaving before he did. She had to stand there hands on hips forcing him out with her gaze to get him to move.


“Ok, ok. Good night” He threw his arms around her knocking them both off balance. I moved quickly to catch them and set them upright. I made no effort to hide the distain on my face; I followed close behind him to the door.


He stumbled out of the room and back towards his, suddenly I felt this gentle pull on my arm. Alex pulled me back into the room; she was looking me square in the eye. This isn’t right; I ripped my head out of her vision and tried so hard to look anywhere but at her. She pulled me into one of her many hugs but all too brief for my liking.


“Hey, you get bored, come back up ok? I’ll leave my door open.” I just nodded.


“What did Rosanna say to you? I know it was about me, I saw you look at me when she said it.” I didn’t force the question, merely implied curiosity.


“She just told me to separate you two, that’s all.” I shook my head and bid her good night once more.


There she was, looking out for me again. She knew I wanted to smack that little prick’s face, but she stopped it. God where was she all those years ago, she could have stopped me from making so many damn awful choices. The consequences then were petty, but now I had my entire future riding on this degree. And she knew it, but she cared. That’s what got me, or at least if she didn’t she was a scarily good actor. She had made me believe so much, that she was my friend, that she was concerned, that she cared. Sometimes I could believe she loved me, but then that’s just me being me and reading too much into nothing.




My laptop had just booted up as I threw my things down on my bed. I had been out in the town shopping for Christmas presents, and returned fruitless. I really had no plans for the evening other than maybe a movie and some sleep. It had been one of the guys birthday the night before and we were still reeling from that. But I had promised some people from my course that we would go to the union, even if it was only for a few drinks.


I didn’t really want to go up there on my own, but none of the guys were interested and Alex was at work all day. I sent her a few messages anyway to see if she was up for it. A couple of hours later she sent one back,


“Maybe, just for a few then I’m coming home.” Well she was gonna go, I suppose it’s better than nothing. Turns out that this evening was a “school disco” theme night, spot on!!!


Later in the evening by the time Alex returned from work I was about ready to go, a quick spritz of the smelly stuff and grabbed my coat and it was time. I had no idea what I was thinking while I headed to her room, something, maybe nothing. I shook it off as I knocked on the door.


“Yo yo!” I rolled my eyes and walked in,


“A simple come in would suffice, hey guys.” Rosanna, Alex and Matt were sat on her bed watching a film. Waves of greeting all round.


“Hey, looking spiffy there Vez, so what time are you guys heading out?” Rosanna asked.


“Well,” I looked over to Alex, “Soon.” She held up her hands in surrender,


“Ok, ok, I’m going!” Well at least she was smiling. I tried to hide a grin as she jumped into her bathroom with a few clothes.


Three minutes later and like stars in their eyes there she was. She walked out of the room, hair perfect; make up and oh my God just how good looking. This girl never ceased to amaze me, and she was coming out with just me this evening. Wow, that’s cool.


“Woah Alex!” Matt appeared to be picking up his jaw, I was trying to look every where else but at her. It would give everything away, of course that’s if she didn’t know already.


“What?” She shrugged her shoulders as she brushed that perfect hair.


“He’s just trying to say you look good is all.” She flashed the cutest smile at me, and I returned it. “Anyway, all set? You need a jacket or something cos you can have one of mine? It is kind of you know, damn cold being November and all.” Great babbling, smooth, velvety smooth.


“Nah, it’s cool. Thanks anyway, besides if it’s cold you need one too. I got my jacket. So let’s go?” I opened the door and Alex, Rosanna and Matt left.


We were walking down the hall to the lifts when Peppa jumped out of her room at us, one moment for a brief introduction. Peppa is a girl who lives on the third floor with all the guys, I have no idea what her real name is and she’s kinda cool. That over with.


“Hey guys, help me out.” I turned to Alex as she turned to me, we both shrugged in unison.


“Sure what’s up Peppa?” I was scratching my head, she looked ready to go, what did she need help with?


“It’s just I don’t know what bra to wear,” My eyebrows shot up as Alex tried her best not to gut laugh. “I mean, what’s better for the school girl look you know, white or black under a white shirt?”


“Well,” I began, “You got the black one on now?” She nodded, I lifted my hand, “Let the certified expert have a look here,” I was blatantly staring at her chest, “Yeah black’s good. There you go sorted. See you there?” She nodded running back inside.


The two of us continued down the hall way, just as we got to the lifts Rosanna stepped out from the kitchen, “Peppa said she was looking for you two,”


“Yeah we just saw her,” Alex replied,


“Yep, best excuse I’ve ever had to stare at her tits.” With the best straight poker face you’ve ever seen, meanwhile Alex is trying to pick herself up off the floor for laughing. Rosanna just looked at me shocked.


“Oh man!” Alex just held up her hand for a high five, “Classic!” I returned the gesture as we walked into the lift laughing.



Chapter 4




I had been talking with everyone over Christmas, but I still missed them. Alex had told me she was ill, but I didn’t think she was this sick. I saw her as I returned with my things. She looked so pale, a bad throat infection apparently. I didn’t get back till late, so I spent the evening with the guys.


Before long people were heading off to bed, I’d been sleeping in the car for the four hour journey. There was no way I was going to get any sleep, I was just too awake. As Alex was already in her room I headed up to go say my good nights.


She was sitting up in bed, all wrapped up in a huge blanket and still fully clothed. I hated to say it, but she looked like hell. She could barely speak as it was, and now all she could do was whisper. She smiled and waved as I walked in and sat beside her on her bed.


“Hey hey. How you feeling?” She made a sad face at me. “That bad huh, you taken some more pain killers?” She nodded. “You look beat love, what have you been doing while I’ve been gone?”


“I haven’t slept for three days. It hurt too much.” I could barely hear her, she winced in pain as she finished.


“Well have you taken everything?” Again she nodded. “Well try and get some sleep, I know easier said than done. Call me if it gets really bad. I don’t care what time, that’s what I’m here for. Just on the other end of the phone line.” I placed my hand atop hers and gave it a small squeeze. At least she was smiling now.


Reaching over I hugged her good night before shuffling back to my room downstairs. I just couldn’t even think about sleep, and it was already eleven. So I sat in front of my computer adding to my stories and journals. It was time to call it a night at two, so I fell into bed.


I heard a phone ringing in my sleep, it was my phone. Shaking myself awake I answered it to hear nothing but crying on the other end. “I can’t take this anymore Vez, it hurts.”


“Ok, ok. Its ok, I’m on my way up alright.” Putting the phone down I scrambled around for clothing before running up the stairs. She sounded so hurt. I couldn’t bare it, I’d never heard her cry before – I never wanted to again.


Her door was open, she knew it was me. There she was sat up in bed, drinking water like it was going out of style. Tears fell from her eyes. “That’s it; I’m taking you to go see a doctor. This isn’t right, the painkillers aren’t working. I haven’t been home twenty four hours and I can tell.”


I sat with her as I rang taxi numbers. There wasn’t a doctor available on a Saturday night, I bit my lip. She had to see someone, guess the only answer was A&E. Great, not like she isn’t in enough pain as it is. “Alright, get some clothes on, I’ll be back in five ok,” Her face looked like a lost child. “I swear, I’ll be back.” I brushed stray hair back looking her in the eye. “I promise.” She nodded and reached for her jeans.


Standing outside a taxi pulled up outside the halls, I opened the door for her to the taxi man’s annoyance.


“You haven’t even told me your name yet!”


“It’s Gregory, and I want to go to A&E pretty sharp-ish mate.”


“Right you are love.” Thought as much. No one messes with the serious tone. Just the sound of my voice mixed with the thought of the emergency room shut the middle aged twat right up.


Soon enough we were sat in the hospital A&E, Saturday night, full of bloodied up drunks. Just what we needed, she had to have a headache from the coughing and the crying. And some loud mouthed bint was making it worse. We sat for hours to be seen, I just held her in a hug and fetching water.


The nurses weren’t too happy to see us, but so what? She needed help, and this is all I could think of. We have a free health service here, and I’ll be damned if we don’t use it. A stern talking to and a box of tablets later I bundled her into a taxi home. Five in the morning and I’m not even drunk, gotta be a first. She chugged down the pills there and then; hopefully they’d kick in before we got back.


“You wanna watch a movie in my room when we get back?” Wow, a little voice, but there it was. I smiled back,


“Sure, I’m too awake right now.” She just smiled and rested her head on my shoulder.


By the time we got back it was about half five in the morning, Alex snuggled up in her blanket and I just sat on her bed against the wall under the end of it. We put on a random no-brainer DVD and settled in. We sat in a tired silence watching together.


About thirty minutes later I heard her breathing settle into a soft routine, looking over she had finally fallen asleep. Damn what did they give her? Horse tranquilisers? Satisfied she was alright I left her with a note to call if the pain came back. Finally I climbed into bed at seven in the morning. Come nine I was up for breakfast. Deep joy.




I had been getting headaches everyday since I got back after Christmas, and today was no different. It was the sickening dizzy feeling that hit me at random intervals too. Something was off, but Alex was more important right now. The pain killers and antibiotics were doing their job and she was soon on the mend. But she still worried me even as much as she insisted she was getting better.


That night we stood in the queue for our dinner and it hit me again, that dizzy feeling. I leant against the wall to try and make it go away. No one saw, good. I can’t be doing with questions this evening. Piling the food on our trays we all shuffled off to a table.


I looked down at the food in front of me. I didn’t even want it; I forced myself to at least eat the salad and the fruit. About ten minutes later, it felt worse.


“Excuse me guys.”


All faces looked to me, concerned looks as I removed the tray full of food and left the room. I headed back to my room; the lights were hurting my head, this can’t be good. I switched off the lights and crawled into my bed still clothed. A little later my mobile phone lit up. Great, not like I was trying to sleep.


It was Alex; she wanted to know if I was ok. Well I clearly wasn’t, and if I was going to get help now would be the time. I sent her back the message and low and behold minutes later my room was invaded. Everyone stood around watching like I was gonna do a trick as Alex sat next to me trying to warm my hands.


I was burning up inside, but my body was cold. There were definitely concerned faces all around. Someone had been to the porter and told them my symptoms, next thing I know I have the halls HCSO manager calling me. Asking me if I was alright, I was trying to avoid this, and now look.


But it was comforting though, she sat with me stroking my arm. The touch was electric; in any other situation I’d be ecstatic. But right now, I just wanted the quiet. I was soon left with strict instructions that if I got worse I was to call someone. This was Alex trying to pay me back. Bless her heart.


Around an hour later my phone rang again, it was Phil from my course.


“Hey mate, just wondering if you’re up for a few pints tonight?” I explained the situation to him, conveniently leaving out the part where my mates were worried that I may have something worse.


He made his sympathetic excuses and hung up. As I was rolling over to get some more sleep it rang again. This time it was Leanne, another mate from my course.


“Phil’s just rang me, are you alright mate? What’s going on, he told me you were in bed with the symptoms of meningitis! Are you alright? Have you told anyone?” I grunted back explaining what had been happening.


“Where is Alex now? You call her right now and get to a hospital! Understand!” I sighed and promised I’d call her. As soon as the phone was put down I picked it up once more.


“Hey, hey.”


“Hey,” They instantly recognised my voice. “Hey, how you feeling? Better, worse or the same?”


“In all honesty, a little worse.” My voice was quiet and forced. I really had no energy, I just wanted sleep, I just needed them to leave me alone for the night.


“Right, ok. Stay there.” The phone line went dead. Like I was going to go anywhere else? No more than two minutes later she was here.


The worry in her face made me feel so guilty; she must really think it was bad. I didn’t care, I needed sleep. She was combing my hair with her fingers again, she knew me too well. I just sat there and did as she told me. It’s like when you scratch behind a cat’s ear; basically that’s what it was doing to me.


Before I knew it I was bundled into a car bound for a medical centre that should be open. I tried to sleep in the car, but Rosanna kept making me speak. I guess they were really worried that if I slept, that was it, I wouldn’t be coming back from it. The potential severity of the situation never really hit me. The centre was closing as we got there, but a nurse agreed to come to the car to give some advice.


I was trying to talk to her and answer her questions. It took no more than 40 seconds for her to recommend the emergency room. Fantastic, another night in A&E. I just wanted sleep.


I know here is where you want all the gory details, was I scared about what it could be? Well no I wasn’t, things had been a little crappy and I just wanted to sleep. I think my friends were terrified; they really did act like it. It kind of bothered me, I didn’t want this attention. I just wanted to get better on my own. I always did and now should have been no different.


Time with the doctors soon discovered that I wasn’t that ill, much to the relief of everyone. It had basically been the build up of stress over the semester. It was all new to me, it was difficult and I just hadn’t stopped. My body had shut down that night, I just hadn’t stopped, and now it had stopped me. I slept for about 3 days before I was my old self again. Soon back to play fighting with Alex.



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