I should have let you leave, he thought looking at her sleeping form. Nick extricated himself from the bed and put his clothes on as quickly as possible. He went to the bathroom and splashed his face with some cold water. He looked at his reflection.

You're clean and sober. You knew exactly what you were doing. She deserves…

He cast his eyes back toward the half open door that showed the back of a leg peeking from under the covers. He looked back at his reflection.

She deserves better than you. You can't use drugs or alcohol as an excuse to fool yourself either. You saw someone that was good and true and you just had to have her didn't you? Selfish… Now what? If she finds out about- about… she'll be disgusted. How can she be anything else? It disgusts me to think about it.

"Nick?"

Her voice is like that of an Angel…..

Yeah, an angel that you spent all of last night and some of this morning- Stop it! Just get out of here fast and forget that you were in heaven.

He walked just inside the room. She had sat up in the bed and put the covers around her as much as she could. All that was exposed was a right ankle and foot.

"Everything okay Nick?" her eyes searched his face.

"Yeah, I just-" he was moving toward the door as he spoke, "got to meet the guys for practice. You know tour stuff." His hand was on the knob as he spoke the last.

"I see," she looked at him levelly. "It's okay Nicky. You don't have to run off."

His hand eased its grip off the door.

Aw, balls. She deserves a hell of a lot more than me. No matter what I do, I'm gonna fuck this up.

"I'm sorry. I just- well I'm not exactly…"

"Mornings aren't your thing huh? Especially having to share them with someone other than your bandmates," she stood and retrieved her clothes from the floor. "I'm gonna get myself cleaned up and somewhat presentable. If you're here when I come out maybe we can have breakfast. Otherwise, no hard feelings okay?"

He nodded and watched as she went into the bathroom and shut the door. He waited until he heard the water running before opening the door.

Hey asshole, what are you doing? This chick is solid and she said no strings and shit. You said that she deserves better, well stay- be better for her. Let her down as easily as possible before going to piss what's left of your life away.

Nick shut the door and went back in to sit on the sofa that was adjacent to the bed. His eyes fell to the bed and he remembered last night…

She had been at the bar and he had been at the bar talking to Sam- the bartender. She had joined in and soon enough Sam had bowed out of the conversation leaving them to enjoy each other's company. Nick had found her so refreshingly honest compared to the countless one nighters that he was used to leaving with, so when she agreed to leave with him he was more than a little surprised. He had thought that maybe she would open up to him about some jerk that had done her wrong and they would spend the night talking or watching tv or both- it never occurred to him that outside of being wasted or fast on the way to becoming wasted, that going back to the room with a chick like her could be anything other than a loose friendship. I mean she had a lot going for herself. She was very put together- but hey even smart girls want to get laid, he had supposed when she had let him kiss her. Maybe she had been just slumming it, he'd thought as they had discarded their clothes. The thought had been fleeting because after that nothing else had mattered except how good everything was feeling.

"You're here?" she said coming out of the restroom fully dressed and clearly surprised that he was still there.

"Yeah," he laughed nervously while running a hand through his multicolored hair. "I thought I'd take you up on that breakfast scenario…if you want."

"Sure," she grabbed her purse and they headed down out the door.

They sat in the booth of the place that was a clear imitation of Denney's across from each other. Nick fidgeted with his napkin and she studied him over the top of the menu that had been handed to them.

What the fuck? It's like I've never had a conversation with a girl before. Well you haven't stupid. Asking a chick if she wants to 'do it' in a room or the hallway isn't exactly table talk- at least not for this kind of girl. She's smart and pretty- classy.

"Nick, you okay?" her voice broke through his thoughts.

"Yeah," he smiled.

Man, even smiling feels weird…me sober, with a classy girl- no, woman like her.

"What?"

He shook his head and picked up his menu.

"If you want to go…"

"Not a chance." He reached across the table and took hold of her hand. She gave a demure side smile at him. "I'm just kind of holding my breath in case this is a dream."

"Nick…you don't have to say stuff like that."

But damn if it don't sound sweet.

"I mean it." He spoke a bit awkward, but he needed her to know that he was genuinely happy to be there with her.

The waitress came and they gave their orders. Another wave of customers entered and as the boisterous group entered one of the young men sporting a rainbow of colored hair stopped and looked down at the duo in the booth.

"Nick, as I live and breathe," the smoke laden man said as he surveyed the young woman that Nick was with intensely. "Well looks like I'm the clear winner in this scenario." The guy laughed heartily and signaled to his group that he'd only be a second or two more. He then turned to Nick's companion, "No offense of course."

"Shut up Eugene," Nick spoke tightly.

"My name is Card," the man spoke heatedly.

Nick stood making him taller than 'Card' by almost a foot.

"You should apologize to the lady."

The two men stared each other down for the longest five seconds the diner had seen in a while. Card took a slight step back and gave a cocky smile and while still looking at Nick he spoke.

"Okay, sorry." He waited a beat. "Sorry that I thought that Nick got the short end of the stick because you're fat-"

He didn't get to finish what he was saying because Nick punched him and continued to pound the guy down. They were finally pulled apart by the owner and a patron.

"Now you two cool off outside." The owner demanded as the duo was hauled out with their companions following. Card's group piled up in the car and took off, while Nick stood looking at them drive off.

"We should get some ice on that hand," her voice came from behind. He kept his back to her and nodded.

"I'll be right back," he darted back into the diner and she saw him conversing with the owner. The owner started out appearing to be angry and animated, but as Nick continued to talk to him he seemed to calm down. Nick looked out the door to her and motioned for her to come in. She did so and they took a seat at the counter while the owner disappeared in back.

"What's going on?"

"I go our order to go."

"Really? That's impressive. However did you manage that?"

Nick spoke looking forward.

"I apologized for my behavior and he said okay."

Why Nick are you playing at modesty or is this really you?

"Here you go," the owner came out handing Nick the heavily laden bags. Nick took them and gave the owner some folded bills. The owner looked at the several hundred dollars then back at the young man. "This is-"

Nick shook his head and looked at his date. An understanding of sorts passed between the two men.

"To cover any damages," he explained.

The couple walked towards the door with Nick walking a step behind so that he could slip a couple of bills onto the booth where they had been sitting for the waitress.

The park…

"This is nice," she said to Nick once they had set up their food.

"Yeah, it's a nice park."

He still had not looked at her directly.

"Nick," she waited until his eyes met hers, "about that guy-"

He looked away ashamed.

"I'm sorry about- my behavior and just everything. He had no right to say- to talk to about you like that and I shouldn't have lost it. I really didn't ever want you to see that part of me. I thought that I had left that guy behind when-" he stopped short. He didn't want to scare her to death with how he used to be. He cleared his throat. "I just hate that you saw that."

"It's okay Nick." She waited a few moments before continuing, "you didn't have to defend me though. It's not like that was the first time something like that has happened."

And it probably won't be the last.

He looked at her like she had grown another head in front of him.

"You're very sweet, but you aren't blind. I know that I am more than a little over weight and I will never be a size two by any stretch of the imagination. I like me though and as long as I'm okay with me then…" she shrugged dismissively.

You are fucking awesome!

"For the record," he allowed his hand to cover hers, "it was never an issue for me either. Guys like Card- anyone really doesn't have the right to do that- belittle someone else because they are insecure with themselves."

"They do it because they can."

"Well, not to you and not when I'm around."

She smiled to herself.

Okay, so he's got a thing for big girls. I guess I could go with that…for as long as it lasts.

They each snuck looks at the other while enjoying their meal.