When He Wakes

John Constantine woke slowly, a novelty for him. Most nights, he barely slept at all, preferring to pace the rooms in his apartment. Someone had opened the blinds in the room and sunlight was streaming in. The warmth on his face and chest felt nice. He stretched and stood, crossing to the bathroom. The tiles were cold on his bare feet as he used the facilities and brushed his teeth. He couldn't stand that morning taste in his mouth. Strangely, he noticed it more now when he didn't smoke. That first cigarette must have disguised the taste.

He stepped back into the bedroom and contemplated dressing, deciding not to just yet. He pulled a white tee-shirt from the drawer and slipped it on. With the dark sweatpants he was wearing, he looked presentable if not smart. Leaving his feet bare for now, he padded into the kitchen area. Already, he could smell bacon and sausage cooking. The scent of strong coffee brewing also hung in the air. His stomach rumbled, reminding him that he ate far to little lately. The constant sharp ache in his chest hadn't been an appetite booster. With it gone, food suddenly looked appealing again.

Angela was sitting at his kitchen table, buttering thick slices of home cut bread and stacking it onto a plate. She too was dressed casually, in a pair of jeans and a work shirt two sizes too big for her. The sleeves were folded back to just above her wrists, making them look even more delicate than they where. She looked up as he entered the kitchen and smiled shyly. That smile won him over. She could do no wrong from then on.

"Hi. Sleep well?" She asked, standing to pour him some coffee. The kitchen was different with her there. It seemed brighter and more welcoming. It was a change that he liked. Having her in his life was improving him, in so many ways he couldn't begin to count them.

"Actually, yes." He admitted. He gestured for her to stay seated and pulled down a thick blue mug from the cupboard. He had bought a coffee machine but rarely used it, preferring the ease of instant. There was a jug of cream sitting on the work surface and he added some. The first sip of the coffee she had bought was pure delight. Strong, sweet with just the right bitter edge. He contemplated adding sugar and deciding against it, sat at the table. She got up as he sat, to put the bacon and sausage on a plate. Coming back to the table, she set in in the middle and slid the bread across to him, saving two thick slices for herself.

"I hope you don't mind?" she asked, assembling a sandwich with the bread and two slices of bacon. She cut it in half neatly, and gathered the crumbs into a neat little pile by her coffee cup.

"Mind you cooking for me?" He asked, trying to decide whether to have bacon by itself or include a sausage to the mix. Finally, he speared a sausage and ate it on it's own. It was surprisingly spicy, the warmth of the spices blending nicely with the pork, and to his surprise, he found that he enjoyed the taste. Before, he'd never really like spicy food.

"Yes… and invading your life." The statement was hesitant, but she didn't take her eyes off him. A woman in conflict between her needs and emotions, he thought, a little unfairly.

He flashed that smile "No, I don't mind." He found that he didn't, not really. He'd been on his own for far too long not to need good company. Like a starving man, he absorbed all that he could from her. A little shyly himself, he said, "Besides, it's nice to have someone to talk to on a morning."

She'd finished one half of her sandwich and was playing with the other half absently. The pile of crumbs she'd collected so neatly was spreading over the table again.

"Are you going to eat that?" he asked. He really meant what's up?

"I'm fine." She answered his real question. "It's just… well, it's silly."

He cocked his head and studied her face. He knew he was bad at saying the right thing at the right time, but it had never stopped him trying. "I'm sure it's not."

"This morning, when you were sleeping, all I wanted to do was crawl into that bed with you." She could feel her cheeks burning and knew that she was as red as a tomato. "It was hard to walk away from you."

"I wouldn't have stopped you."

"You mean that?" The delicate hope in her voice was heart rendering.

"I do." Suddenly, fighting half-breeds seemed easy "I care, Angela."

She thought that her heart had stopped at his admission. "I care too." She stood and went to him. His had was so much bigger than hers, but when he touched her it was with tenderness. He was a man of contradictions. The pad of his thumb was rough against her cheek, but he stroked the skin there so gently she might have been imagining it. The leanness of his body was belayed by the strength he possessed. All thoughts of breakfast forgotten, he lifted her and took her back to bed.