17. November 26th 2012 ~ Rome, Italy
They say that there's nothing worse than a paper-cut. The moron who came up with that had clearly never had a hangover.
Daniel groaned as he woke, turning over on whatever he was sleeping on and putting a hand to his forehead. There was an unpleasant smell in the air mingled with a sweeter one. On a normal occasion, it wouldn't have bothered him. On the current occasion, his stomach churned and he gagged, but managed to keep his insides inside. He felt someone sit down by his feet and a bucket was placed on the small, round table in front of him.
“Morning, Daniel,” Amanda whispered softly.
It sounded like someone bashing cymbals into his head.
He grunted, pressing his eyes together.
“I know you're not feeling great,” Amanda tried again, “But you need to sit up, okay?”
Daniel shook his head, but Amanda held his shoulders and helped him up into a seated position. He retched a few times, Amanda brought the bucket to his lips and patted his back, but they were only a few dry heaves. Daniel spat thick saliva into the bucket and leaned back on what he realised was the couch, and sighed in relief when Amanda placed something wet and cold over his face. She laughed to herself quietly.
“Can I get you something?” she asked, “Tea? Coffee?”
“Which loser still drinks tea?” he slurred.
Amanda bridled indignantly. “Charming,” she muttered under her breath.
“I want something cold.”
“I haven't got any cold drinks,” Amanda said, “I'll make you some coffee and toast.”
“You don't have any beer?”
“Are you mad! With what's currently happening?”
Daniel held his head, “Ah, fuck...”
Daniel didn't say anything. Amanda got up and filled the kettle with water and put it on. Daniel got up, holding the furniture for support as he staggered his way to the dining table and pulled the chair out - trying, for all fuck's sake, not make it scrape against the floor - and sat down.
He grumbled something, and rubbed his eyes, “What's-a time?” he said thickly.
“In the afternoon?”
“In the morning.”
He hissed, shutting his eyes and placing his forehead on the table, “What'd I do last night? How'd I get here?”
Amanda paused, “Well, um...” she said hesitantly, as she stirred Daniel's cup of coffee, “You showed up wasted and then passed out on my couch.”
She mixed milk with the coffee and passed him the mug along with a pot of sugar, “I'm not sure you want all the details yet.”
Daniel gave her an annoyed look, “Would I ask if I wanted only the highlights?” he poured the whole pot of sugar into his mug. Amanda raised her brows, but didn't say anything.
He raised the mug to his lips and jerked immediately, dropping the mug and standing up. The clay mug shattered, the strong-smelling brown liquid spreading across the floor.
Daniel shouted, “Are trying to burn my mouth!”
“What?” Amanda said, taking a step back.
“That thing was so goddamn hot!”
“It's meant to be!” she protested.
Daniel raised his head, “God, woman, shut that stupid hole in your face!” he barked.
Amanda stared at him, her face darkening. It took Daniel a moment to realise what he'd said. It took him another moment to realise who he'd said it to. Then another to regret it. Amanda walked pushed passed him. He panicked.
“Amanda, wait, wait,” he said, hobbling in front of her.
She refused to look at him, “I don't need this, Daniel! It's six in the morning! I-” she glanced at his face, screwed up in agony. She sighed and lowered her voice, “I don't need another arse in my life. The voices in my head are more than sufficient.”
“Please,” he grabbed her arm as she turned to go to her bedroom, “Don't... don't go.”
She glared at him.
Daniel raised a hand, “Amanda, I'm sorry. I'm sorry, okay? I...” he paused, “Everything inside me is, like, threatening to burst out of my mouth. Every syllable I hear is like a gunshot on my ears. I'm... I'm not feeling great.”
“That's not my problem.”
“I know, I know... It's just really hard to be nice right now, like this. I'm sorry. Don't... don't go away.”
“I'm just going-”
“No, please. Just... just sit at the table with me and I swear I'll behave.”
Amanda snatched her arm away and placed her hands on her hips, giving Daniel a look, “Say something nice about football.”
Daniel scoffed, “What?”
“You heard me.”
He sighed, “Wrong time, Amanda.”
She turned away, “Never gonna be a right time, then.”
“Okay, fine. Fine!” Daniel said quickly.
“I swear to God, why aren't women ruling the world right now?” Amanda muttered.
“Soccer is a real sport,” Daniel said.
Amanda said nothing.
“And it's actually called football, because it's actually played with feet. It has a lot of room for strategy.”
“It's a game for real men.”
Amanda burst out laughing, “Oh, come on, not even I believe that.”
“Will you sit down now?”
“Say something nice about tea.”
“I don't know anything about tea!”
“I don't care.”
Daniel swore in Russian, before he regained his composure, “It's an expensive morning drink for very sophisticated, British people.”
Amanda smiled a little.
“Is there anything else you want me to be nice about?”
Amanda stepped towards him, folding her arms across her chest, and mumbled, “Say something nice... Say something about me.”
Daniel raised his brows and smiled, “This is a first. You kept the easiest for last?”
Amanda didn't reply.
“You're beautiful, Amanda.”
Amanda sucked in her cheeks, “I said say something nice. I didn't say lie.”
“Why!” Daniel roared, “Why do you always think I'm lying to you? I'm not lying. I think I'm still a little too drunk - I couldn't lie if I wanted to.”
“I'm not... that.”
“You're crazy, that's what. Look, I'll admit that you're not the most beautiful girl I've slept with,” Daniel said, “But after I'm done with them, I'm done with them. I don't want to look at them ever again. But you...” he touched her face, “I look at you and... I don't wanna look away, Amanda.”
She smiled and looked away with tears in her eyes.
“Hey, no...” Daniel said, “Please, it's too early for that.”
Amanda laughed and wiped her eyes before she kissed him.
“I'm sorry,” he whispered when she let go.
Amanda just shook her head, and moved towards the sink. She brought out a cloth and started to wipe away the coffee that had been spilt. Daniel picked up the bits of clay scattered on the floor and threw them in the bin. They didn't say anything for a while. After they'd tidied up, Amanda made another mug of coffee for Daniel and he sipped at it with more caution. He found it bitter to taste, but it became more appealing when Amanda put two teaspoons of sugar in it. She passed him some toast and he ate it. She sat down and ate her own breakfast, toast and tea. He gazed at her, in a daydream, as she got up, took the utensils off the table and did the dishes.
“Did you do something with your hair?” he asked.
Amanda paused, “I did.”
“It was nicer, longer,” Daniel commented.
Amanda scoffed, dropping the dish she had been cleaning, “Have you been sent to kill me, Daniel Cross?”
He came and stood beside her, “What's that supposed to mean?”
“The average man doesn't notice things like that about his woman.”
“I think we've both established that I'm not an average man.”
Amanda laughed, “You're feeling better then?”
He blushed, “Yeah...”
Amanda looked at him, “It's okay. You made up for it.”
“And that's why men are ruling the world.”
Amanda threw soap-bubbles in his face, and laughed. Daniel smiled, but that sickening scent got to him again.
“What is that smell?” Daniel asked.
Amanda hesitated, “It's you...”
“What...?” he sniffed himself, “Okay,” he said, observing the damp discoloured marks on his clothes, “I'm ready now. What did I do last night?”
“Last night?” Amanda said, checking the time, “You came here two hours ago, Daniel. Sit down.”
Daniel sat and Amanda left the dishes on a tray to drop-dry and sat opposite him, trying not to laugh, “You knocked about six or seven times before I even considered opening the door. But then you called my name, shouted some pretty profound abuse at my neighbours who came out because of all the noise. Your sexual advances from the point where I opened the door were not charming,” Amanda giggled.
“Joke's on you,” Daniel said, sucking in his cheeks, “Drunk Daniel is better in bed than Sober Daniel.”
“The appeal is difficult to see when he vomits all over you.”
“And then curses everything in Russian, traipses through the living room to the bedroom and is sick in there again. But has sense enough to go to the bathroom to piss all over the floor.”
Daniel chewed on his tongue uncomfortably, “I said Drunk Daniel was better in bed. I didn't say he was good at anything else.”
Amanda laughed, “I think I need around four new rugs. But, anyway, you started babbling some things - slurring in English and Russian - something about a... civilisation, the number seventeen and you kept saying 'miles'? I know Americans love the imperial system and all, but I didn't think it was an obsession.”
“And, after all that, you didn't chuck me out after I dissed your tea.”
“Drunk Daniel isn't my Daniel. Sober Daniel is my Daniel. It just so happens that they share a body, so I deal with both of them.”
“You left out Bat-Shit Crazy Daniel.”
“Mm. Him too.”
“Why do you just deal with them all?”
“Because Sober Daniel is most uncommonly adorable, even if Drunk Daniel is hard to leave unsupervised and Bat-Shit Crazy Daniel...” she considered how to continue, “he just needs me.”
“Yeah. He does need you,” Daniel said, “They all need you. They might act like pricks at times and they probably don't say as much - but they all like you a lot, Amanda.”
Amanda kissed his forehead, “Which Daniel are you now?”
“A sub-category of Drunk and Sober Daniel. Uncommonly adorable and great in bed.”
Amanda moved away dramatically as he reached for her, “You're disgusting. Don't touch me.”
Daniel laughed and got up, “Is it sad that that's not the first time I've heard that?”
“The water's hot, go take a shower, Daniel. I'll get your clothes washed.”
“And what will I wear?”
“Well, I don't know your bra size, but you can borrow my clothes.”
Daniel snorted, “Really. What will I wear?”
Amanda paused, chewing her bottom lip, “I have a few football jerseys that might fit you, but no trousers I'm afraid. I can ask the neighbours if you can borrow some of their clothes. They like me, so maybe they won't take your comments to heart.”
“What 'and then'?”
“After I'm done showering...?”
“Well, I'll be at work, so.”
Daniel blinked, “You're not a secret agent. Explain.”
“I'm a teacher. I have to go to school.”
“Oh, right. I forgot about that. Can't you skip?”
“Daniel!” Amanda laughed.
“I'm being serious.”
“Look, I'm flattered. But I can't just do that. You're free for the next six hours, you can hang around here or go back to whatever cave you crawled out of,” Amanda winked at him, “Or... you can come with me.”
“I don't do too well around... people.”
“Mm... It's decided then. You're hanging around on your own today.”