Rating: PG-13 for language and sexual references.

Pairing: Maxxie/Tony with hints of Tony/Michelle.

Spoilers: The whole of series 1. Yes, I do mean all of it.

Disclaimer: Not mine, blah, blah, blah.

Summary: Following Tony's accident things are set to change, and for some, nothing will ever be the same again.

Chapter 1

I pull my shirt over my head and stare at my pale reflection in the mirror. It's my uniform, blue and white stripes, so conformed and nothing like anything that's happened lately. Since returning from Brighton things went from bad to worse - just when I thought things might work out. We arrived back in Bristol, attended college like usual on Monday morning and he simply stopped talking to me, exactly like everyone else. No one talked to us, we didn't talk to them and we didn't talk to each other either. We pretended like nothing had happened. Well, Tony did anyway.

Then came the whole ordeal with Effy and I was forced to pretend, too. It suddenly didn't matter. There were more important things to deal with. Tony's sister could have died, she'd spent several days lying in a hospital bed and he'd been scared shitless. I worried of course, but I didn't get told a lot about the whole situation. I'd been alienated from the group and no one cared to share what was going on.

So I carried on regardless, I allowed myself to become isolated. That was, right up until Anwar's birthday anyway. He was – I mean, he is my best friend; I could hardly ignore him on his birthday no matter how much of an asshole he'd been. At his party everything changed, and that was when it happened. Things had been going well (as well as they could do when we're involved) and then we'd heard the ambulance. The music stopped, several plates hit the floor and there was a mass scramble for the door. Michelle and Effy were stood beside the ambulance, clinging onto each other and both sobbing loudly.

Nobody knew what to do. I think we were all convinced he was going to die. But Tony's strong, he wasn't about to go out like that. He'd been unconscious for two days, most of which Michelle sat at his bedside, taking it in turns with his parents and his sister. We all knew why. She'd made sure we all knew. He loved her and he'd told her so. But it wasn't a secret. Deep down we'd all known all along, even she had, no matter how much she chose to deny it.

Visiting Tony was something I'd had to build up to. He was better now of course, a lot better – sitting up in bed, making demands on the nurses and belittling everyone else (some things never change), but it had taken me so much to pluck up the courage to walk through those hospital doors today.

Tony's lying in bed with his back to me, sleeping (I think he is anyway). He hasn't any other visitors. Since he woke up, his parents have been spending less time in the ward. Michelle hasn't, although she's at college right now, so I'm pretty sure I'm OK. I decided to skip afternoon classes so that I could see him without interference from anyone else. That was the general idea at least.

I don't like hospitals; they smell of disinfectant and the waiting rooms of stale coffee. The chair beside Tony's bed isn't exactly comfortable and there's a blanket draped over the back of it from when Michelle slept over. They stopped her doing that a couple of weeks ago. I'm not entirely sure why.

He's definitely asleep, so I take it upon myself to look at the get well cards on the table beside his bed. The first one I pick up is from Cassie; it looks as though she's made it herself, it's covered in glitter and pieces of coloured card, the words 'be happy' scrawled across the front in big curly handwriting. The next is from Sid and his father, it's nothing extravagant, shiny white card with the usual words embossed upon it. Third is Michelle's with its over the top verse and a dozen kisses inside. I hadn't bothered to send a card.

Putting down Michelle's card, I bring a hand to my mouth, hesitantly chewing on my thumbnail as I gaze at his sleeping form. He looks so incredibly peaceful lying there and I wonder for a moment whether I should stay or not. I've seen him now, I know he's OK; I've been given the reassurance I needed. It's probably better for everyone – especially for Tony – if I just carry on pretending. He loves Michelle after all, not me.

I drop my hand back down to my side, leaning forwards slightly in my seat to get a better look at him. One of the nurses has been stood at the end of the bed, looking over his charts, occasionally shooting a glance in my direction. She tells me how he's been sleeping a lot lately and how his girlfriend is beginning to get antsy. He's been faking it when Michelle's around though, or so she thinks anyway. Sometimes the constant attention can get too much. The nurse smiles, all teeth, and then adds softly, 'He'll appreciate a new visitor.'

There's nothing I can say in reply to that, so I simply offer her a smile and reach out for Tony's hand, brushing my thumb over his palm, my eyes downcast. I won't lie about it, I'd been convinced he was going to die too; I'd gone home that night and cried myself to sleep. Things had been getting back to normal, and then… The thought alone had broken me. My mum had spent half of the night outside my bedroom door trying to get me to talk to her. How could I talk to her about it? How could I talk to anyone?

The nurse walks off again after patting me lightly on the shoulder. We're finally alone and I'm actually glad he's asleep for the first time in my life. Bowing my head, slowly lacing my fingers in-between his, I let a very soft sigh go and close my eyes. How did I ever let things go this far? I'd wanted to play Tony at his own game and instead ended up becoming infatuated with him.

Christ, why am I here? Snatching my hand away again, I rise from the chair and wrap my arms around my torso as I stare down at him. He hasn't moved yet. Shifting my gaze to the clock on the wall, I frown, Michelle will be finishing her classes soon and I don't have much time left. It's probably better that he's asleep, it will make saying goodbye easier. He needs to be with the person he loves, I just get in the way; it's all I've ever done.

It's now or never. I glance around the ward quickly and then sure there's no one watching, I lean down and press a kiss to his forehead, whispering, 'Have a nice life, Tone.' Pulling back, briefly stroking his hair, I force a smile and then turn on my heel to leave. I'm dying inside. A small part of me is dying. But this is for the best, after everything that's happened he needs to get back to normality and that's something I can't give him… ever.

Saying goodbye is the best thing for everyone.