We had positioned our chairs in such a manner that we faced into the room and could watch Luke as he came to ... when he came to ... if he came to.
He had remained dormant on the floor throughout the night and into the morning. Even when Al and I stepped casually over him on our way back and forth to the bathroom, he remained undisturbed.
We had both agreed that it would be best to forget Luke's declaration of undying love for me. That's assuming he remembered it of course, but if he did, we would just play dumb. After all, he had been oblivious to the fact that he was speaking sense last night, otherwise he would have been filled with joy, not melancholy.
In fact, there was nothing to say that he would be talking sense again this morning. The copious quantities of alcohol he had consumed last night may have addled his brains enough to unravel whatever knot the bleaching had tied, but whether that was permanent or not remained to be seen. I hoped it was, even if it meant a little humiliation for Luke. Any embarrassment from last night, no matter how gross, would be short-lived whereas this affliction had gone on far too long already.
A low, pained moan from the floor alerted us to Luke's rise into consciousness.
"Ooo! That doesn't look good," winced Al as Luke waved a hand limply in the air. A feeble gasp escaped his lips and his fingers twitched, then he fell motionless again.
"D'yer think that's it?" asked Al, and for a while, it was.
"You know," she continued, sipping her raktajino. "When they talk about someone being so ill they go green, I didn't realise they actually went green."
"Yeah. It's 'cause the blood drains from the face—usually to the stomach, so you lose the red pigmentation. All you're left with is the yellow tint of skin and the veins beneath, which are blue. Blue and yellow make green."
"Clever clogs," she mumbled.
The sound of fresh movement caught our attention and we looked up to see Luke fumbling, slowly pushing himself up onto all fours. He momentarily glanced at us with bloodshot eyes that looked like two cherries in a bowl of pistachio yoghurt. Another pained sigh before he continued to fight his way to his feet. Eventually, he got there and stood clumsily, teetering precariously while he focused his attention upon his next objective, which was getting into the bathroom. He aimed his body towards its door, staring hard at it. Then, as he began to freefall forward, some instinct of self preservation kicked in and his feet propelled him through the doorway at uncontrollable speed. We heard a crash as he hit the sink and various toiletries were cast asunder.
Al and I glanced at each other, but soon our gazes returned to the bathroom where we could see Luke's face reflected in the mirror above the sink. He really did look bad!
He filled the sink with water and doused his face in handfuls of the revitalising liquid. A faint smile passed his lips as it began to clear his head, but it was short-lived. His face strained as the memories of the night before slowly began to return. His features twisted as he laboured to pull them forward, his eyes narrowing and lips pursing. I realised I was holding my breath.
You could almost see the cogs turning as he recalled how drunk he had been, how he'd burst into the room and then as his face contorted into an embarrassed grimace, I knew he remembered.
He heaved a pained groan and looked up into the mirror. He saw us watching him. A flush of colour from his embarrassment gave him a healthier hue for a moment, but then vanished as he began to wretch. He lurched urgently towards the toilet bowl, slamming the bathroom door shut on the way.
The noises that exuded from that small room over the next ten minutes or so are not the sort of thing to serenade breakfast with. It quite put me off my toast so I pushed my plate aside and poured myself a fresh cup of tea. Al, meanwhile, giggled and carried on munching.
Eventually, Luke emerged. He wobbled unsteadily across the living room to join us, pulling a chair out from under the table. It scraped noisily across the tiled floor, and he cringed as he plonked himself down sighing heavily, and dropped his head onto the table.
"Don't s'pose there's any coffee," he mumbled.
"Raktajino?" offered Al.
Luke's cheeks puffed out as a possible prelude to vomiting.
"I'll get you some," I said piteously and went to the replicator. As I ordered the coffee, I realised what I had done and my face screwed in anger at myself. How could I have been so stupid! After all that fiasco getting Al to agree not to admit Luke was talking sense, I'd gone and blown it in the first sentence!
"Oh ... bugger," gasped an exasperated Luke.
I decided to bluff it.
"What do you mean, oh, bugger, Luke! It's brilliant. You aren't talking gibberish anymore!" I said chirpily.
He rolled his eyes at Al and she roared with laughter.
"I'm gonna see if Rutter's up yet," she giggled, grabbing another slice of toast and her mug of raktajino.
Now it was just Luke and I.
"Look," I began, "You were very drunk."
"Jen, I don't have the strength to argue with you. I don't regret saying it ... well, actually I do, but it's out there now. What you do with it is another thing. Just give me that flippin' coffee for cryin' out loud."
"Do you have the strength to drink it?" I asked, looking at him slumped in the chair, his head resting on the table and his arms dangling between his knees like an orang-utan.
"What do you think the chances are of a hangover cure from Rosie?" he asked weakly.
It was doubtful. While remedies were readily available, Rosie's protocol was to let people suffer when they overindulged. Generally, I agreed with that principle, but on Luke's first day of coherence, it didn't seem fair somehow.
I slapped the coffee down on the table so hard the liquid lapped over the sides.
"I'll contact Rosie and see what I can do."
"Good luck with that," he mumbled.
"On the basis that you're cured, I may be able to persuade him. After all, he'll want to examine you and I expect he'd like your full attention for that. If not, then I'll ask the Risans. They're bound to oblige."
"Rosie won't like that."
"Technically, you're off-duty so you don't have to ask him at all."
"Then why ask him at all?"
"Shut up and drink your coffee," I snapped.