Ch. 3 – Hangovers are Hell

"Argh!" Nikola rolled over and puled the covers over her head to try and block out the sunshine, which seemed unnaturally bright this morning. "I swear I will never drink again," she grumbled into the pillow, "so long as this headache stops." Someone chuckles from the doorway and she could smell eggs and bacon – her favourite breakfast. Slowly, so the world wouldn't spin too much, she lifts the covers and looks at Gabe.

"You know, I never took you for a drinker. You were always the sober driver – maybe that's because you couldn't hold your booze?" Gabe gave a wry smile and put the breakfast down on the nightstand. "Or maybe it's that you weren't legal yet. I think that was it." He pulled the covers off of Nik's face and rolled his eyes dramatically, feigning passing out from the smell of her breath. "Here," he says a little more gently and hands her two small pills, "it's for hangovers, some guys from work gave them to me."

"You've already been to work?" Nikola sat up a little and then paused to give time for the nausea to settle.

"I've been to work, went for a jog and surfed a little; it's three in the afternoon girl. Time is a wasting!" He pulled back the curtains and let all the light into the room.

"Damn you." Nik spun around and had to lay down again. "You act like you don't know what a hangover is; shall I remind you of your senior year of high school?" She sipped the water and swallowed the pills and then retreated back under the blankets.

"Harsh, I wasn't drunk all the time!" Gabe looked at her and knew why she'd get that impression. "Anyways, I was wondering if you wanted to go for a little surf? It's always more entertaining with a hangover – well for me anyways." He disappeared for a while, allowing Nik to let her head settle. The drugs seemed to have worked and she slowly got out of bed, noticing that the world was level, she made her way to the bathroom and finally the living room where Gabe was watching TV.

"Hey," she smiled and he returned it, "how 'bout some coffee?" He pointed to the counter where a cup was steaming and waiting. "Excellent!" Nikola grabbed the cup and settled in next to Gabriel. Quietly and comfortably, the two friends sat and watched a show that neither really paid attention to.

----------

"NICOLE!" Mr. Booth stormed into the house and threw his jacket aside. "NICOLE? GET IN HERE!" Furious and out-of-control, this is how Nicole hated her father.

"Yes daddy?" the timid voice from the doorway caused the man to spin around.

"Don't you daddy me! I have just found out some interesting facts, you and your little boy toy have been spying on me – you never actually wanted to stay with me...just spy on me! How dare you use me like that, my own daughter? I am ashamed of you, and do you know what I do with things that no longer suit me?" He glared down at her.

Nicole was in shock, how could he have known, but she had to remain cool, for her mother's sake. "Daddy, I don't know what you mean. I wanted to move in here and be with you, and who told you'd I've been spying? Do you really think I would do something like that?" Nicole could tell this gave her father second thoughts, but she was still shaking a little.

"Don't play dumb with me; I want you out of the house now! You can go be with that no-good boyfriend of yours and see how well he can live with you. Twenty-four hours Nicole, and then you're cut off from everything!" Mr. Booth turned and stormed out of the house, leaving his daughter in an exasperated state.

'I don't get it, how did he find out? There is no one besides Jason who knew what I was doing and there is no way he told! We talked about it in private so no one could have over heard unless they had access to the offices and then it's only the secretaries – who were never there – and Vincent – who wouldn't have told either!' Completely lost Nicole began to head upstairs to pack. She knew her father better then anyone and knew it would be best if she wasn't here when he got back, she'd have to act fast though – take out some money and go see Jason and Vincent. And as she was packing away her favourite dress, she noticed the red wine stain that Tessa had 'accidentally' spilt on her. 'Of course! Tessa could have over heard us, and I know she would have sold us out instantly. Damn it!' So her father knew and now she had no idea what to do, praying that Jason would be able to figure something out, she grabbed her purse and drove away.

----------four days----------

"MJ? You called me an hour ago and said something was wrong?" Frankie knocked on the door to the new apartment and it swung open – not something unusual for an islander. "MJ?" His friend had sounded terrified on the phone and as quickly as possible, Frankie had rushed over fearing the worst, the lack of response was not helping.

"I'm in here, Frankie." MJ's meek little voice echoed from the bedroom. "Can you come in here a sec?"

Quickly, Frankie pushed the door open and saw MJ on the bed, but stopped before he reached her side. "MJ, where are all the clothes?" The closet had been torn apart and all of the dressers contents were on the floor. "Were you robbed?" Frankie knelt down beside the bed and saw that MJ was crying – or had been recently.

"I wish!" She mumbled into the bed and then tried to dry her eyes, but another wave of emotion hit her and she started to cry again.

Grabbing her hand to calm her down, Frankie took another look around the place and noticed something strange. All of MJ's clothes were on the floor – but he couldn't see any of Chris's. "Where's Chris?" This was obviously the wrong thing to ask because MJ started to cry harder and was breathless from having cried herself out before hand.

"I was hoping you sob could tell me!" MJ dissolved into tears and Frankie picked her up into a hug.

"It's all right, we'll find him. Just breathe MJ." Frankie stroked her back to try to calm her down but was now piecing everything together.

"Find him? You honestly think he had time to pack all of his shit and then just decided to get lost? It doesn't work that way Frankie – he's gone. He left this morning with some hot babe he had to teach. I found the receipt for two tickets out of here, but by then he was all ready gone! Asshole!" MJ had stopped crying, but now she was pissed off.

"Come on, Chris would never do something like that, he's one of the good guys remember. I mean you two were so happy when you were at my house – let's just say the love never seemed to stop." But there was a nagging feeling in the pit of his stomach. Nothing added up and he really didn't know a lot about Chris, unable to think of anything else, Frankie offered to call Gabriel and ask if he knew anything about it.

----------

"Gabe, thank god. I don't know what to do. Oh, hello." Frankie noticed that Nikola was standing behind Gabe and shook hands before pulling Gabe into the house.

"You're telling me that Chris took off and left MJ here? I don't know man, that doesn't seem like him." Gabe couldn't picture Chris just leaving MJ here, they always looked so happy.

"And how well do you guys really know this Chris person?" Nik was staring around at the bedroom and knew instantly what had happened.

When neither of them replied, Nikola got the point. "Sorry boys, but he's gone. No one bothers to pack everything unless they don't plan on returning." Nik gave a disgusted look around the room as if Chris was still there.

"And who the hell are you?" MJ emerged from a pile of blankets with puffy red eyes and tear streaked face.

"Oh hun, I didn't know you were in the room. Look, I'm Nikola – Gabe's friend, is there anything I can get you?" The expression on Nik's face instantly changed to a caring face full of pity.

"Don't bother, I've asked her that all night." Frankie watched as MJ just pulled the covers over her head again.

"How about some tea? Does that sound good?" Nik walked over to the bed and heard a muffled 'yes' from MJ. "All right, I'll go boil some water, just take your time and come meet me in the kitchen." Nik patted what she thought was MJ's arm and turned around.

"Impressive!" Frankie said as they headed towards the kitchen and Nik made herself busy while they could here signs of MJ getting out of bed.

"It's her thing man. This is what she does best." Gabe smiled at Nikola and realized how much healing she had done in the past four days. They hadn't really talked about Jack a lot – but they were getting there. She was defiantly happier now.

"Well I can see why you kept her around man; she's got a way with words." Frankie gave a little nod to Nikola and she smiled in return.

"Hey MJ." Gabe saw MJ come out of the room and instinctively moved in-between Frankie and Nik.

Once the tea was ready, everyone took a cup and moved into the living room. They all gathered around MJ on the couch and offered supportive faces to her.

"Why don't you boys leave us alone for a while? Go clean up the bedroom maybe?" Nikola could tell that this attention was making MJ uncomfortable. The boys shrugged and headed to the bedroom to leave the girl chat up to the girls.

"So darling, tell me everything."