A/N: . . . Sorry. That's all I have to say, really. This was supposed to be up a while ago, but due to some . . . events, it made it impossible. I apologize. I'll also be explaining more on that later. Now, this chapter. . . More later, actually. Enjoy!

disclaimer: I don't own it.


Everything was—white.

Why was he seeing white? He couldn't remember. He didn't even know where he was. All he knew was something had happened to him.


That voice. His mind instantly conjured images of a pretty girl with long, dark blonde hair, and beautiful eyes.

"Jerome, are you okay?"

This time, a boy's voice. He was filled with a rage, a blind hatred. It willed him to turn his head towards the source of the talking. He struggled to open his heavy eyelids, but soon managed on sheer determination.

He was greeted with Nina, Fabian, and Patricia all standing over him. Amber was somewhere out of his line of vision, but he heard her talking to herself as she searched for something or other. Nina was leaning over him closest, her hand propped up on the bed. Fabian was right behind her, still looking concerned. Patricia was ever further, but she kept shooting him the surreptitious glances she used when she was curious or worried, but didn't want others to know.

Jerome blinked, clearing his eyes a bit more. His brows furrowed together as he tried to recall what had happened to him; try as he might, though, he kept getting a giant, scorching white blank. It was incredibly frustrating.

"Wh—" he tried, to no avail. He cleared his throat, swallowed, and tried again. "Wha—" His voice cracked again, and went. He suppressed an eye-roll, getting more annoyed that he couldn't communicate his confusion. Not to mention the splitting headache he was fast becoming aware of.

"Here," Nina said, reaching past him to get a glass of water that had been sitting on his night stand. She handed it to him, helping him keep steady when his hand shook. He found it hard to drink with the warmth of her hands on his, but he managed.

After he'd had his fill of water, he tried speaking again. "What happened?" His voice was still hoarse, but at least he was able to talk.

Nina looked to Fabian, who shrugged, his face slightly grim. Good lord, Nina, you're our 'leader', not him! You don't need his permission for everything! Jerome thought, pinching his eyes closed. Some things were hard to watch.

"We were in the cellar, and. . . well, we were rushing to get out. I guess we just over shot the distance, and the fact that we were all trying to shove through the door at once, but you got hit on the head with the edge of the door. I'm not really sure how that worked, but that's what happened. You went unconscious, and just now woke up." Nina bit her lip after she was done speaking. "Does your head hurt?"

Jerome opened his eyes again, and gave her a toned stare. A stare that said 'what do you think?' He said, "Yes, it does. Can I have some ibuprofen? Or some type of medication?"

"No, you can't," Amber said, coming up to the bed to stand beside Patricia. "That's what I've been looking up, mhmm. See?" She shoved a book in his face, which he tried to jerk his face from. "It says after a severe head injury, one should lie with their head raised, and be kept awake for at least 6 hours. If bleeding, swelling, or an internal bump persists, one should seek immediate consultation of a doctor. If a person stays unconscious for more than 3 hours, a hospital visit should be in order." Amber snapped the book shut with a relish and flounced off. "And people call me a dumb blonde. I know what I'm talking about!"

Nina looked down, but Jerome was able to see the hint of an exasperated grin on her face. "I don't know if Jerome's injury would be classified as 'severe'. I think he only passed out because he fell so hard. But we'll all keep an eye on him."

Fabian shuffled his feet. "Nina—I think we might want to set up a shift system or something. I know Mick's going to get suspicious if I don't come back to the dorm at all tonight, and we don't want Mara guessing; she's cleverer than Mick."

Nina nodded. "Alright. You and Patricia can go back to bed, then, and Amber and I will wait on Jerome. If we need you guys, we'll call your phones."

Patricia made to leave as soon as she could, giving a wave at Jerome. Fabian leant over to give Nina a small peck on the lips, and then he too was gone.

Jerome closed his eyes, wanting to go back to sleep. His head was pounding, and he was getting frustrated with still not knowing what happened. (Though he figured he could just ask, but he was Jerome Clarke, and that's not how he worked most of the time.)

"Nina?" Amber's voice drifted across the room to both Nina and Jerome.


"Can I go up to bed? I'm really tired, and I even looked in a book and everything! And if Victor or Trudy do bed-checks, one of us will need to be there, to cover for the other." Amber yawned, as if to emphasize her point, and made for the door.

Nina, seeing that the blonde was going to leave no matter what, just sighed and said, "Sure, go on."

"Yay! I get to sleep. I love sleep." Amber left.

Jerome closed his eyes again, ready to get comfortable now that it was just him and Nina. . . Wait. Where was he, anyways? Alfie would be in the room with them, if he were in his bed.

"Jerome," Nina said, coming to lean over him again. "You can't go to sleep. Even though Amber went a bit over-board with her explanation, she was right—we need to keep you up for a little while to make sure you don't go into a coma."

He peeled open an eye-lid. "Fine." He opened his eyes in earnest, and sat up to the best of his abilities, mildly surprised that Nina let him. "Where's Alfie?" Jerome asked, after discerning that he was, in fact, in his own room. He just hadn't recognized it. (Though, to be fair, his brain was a bit muddled after his head injury.)

"Trudy's got him in the living room for the night—something about not wanting you to be disturbed. But don't worry; he just thinks you fell after getting up for a glass of water or something, and that we'd all heard you and came down to see what was going on."

Jerome nodded. "Well that's good. Though I don't think Alfie would begin guessing about anything that's been going on anyways. He's too clueless."

"I suppose." Nina turned away from him then, looking across at the door.

Jerome took the opportunity to just look at her. She was pretty, no doubt. And there was that slightly exotic air about her, just because she was from another country. Damn her boyfriend.

Three hours later saw the two sitting on the bed, searching through the internet. Jerome had shown Nina some of his favorite web haunts, a few of which Nina shared herself. She showed him a few sites, including the one for her gran's bed and breakfast, where she lived. It was interesting, and Jerome thought it very nice to be able to just sit and chill with her, with no one else around, and no threat of anyone coming in.

Someone knocked on the door, and then Fabian came in immediately after. Or I'd thought there was no threat of interruption. . . Jerome thought bitterly.

"Hey," Nina said, getting up and giving Fabian a hug. "I thought you were asleep?"

"I was, yeah. But I'd decided to come and see if you wanted to switch shifts and get some sleep." He smiled at her, the grin fading as he caught Jerome's narrowed eyes.

"Aw, that's sweet. We were fine, but I won't deny a chance at sleep. Thanks, Fabian. See you two in the morning," she called, grabbing her phone off of Jerome's bed-stand and leaving quietly. Even in the silence and with her caution, Jerome was able to hear her creep up the stairs.

Fabian turned to the blond. "Have you slept at all yet?"

Barely suppressing an eye-roll, he answered, "Not since I woke up initially."

Fabian nodded, looking a tad wary at Jerome's shift in attitude. "You could probably do with some sleep now, then. I'll be sure to wake you up periodically to be safe."

Huffing slightly, Jerome turned on his side so he didn't have to look at Rutter, and settled to sleep, clinging on to the moment he'd spent with Nina before drifting off. His last thought was, Man, why've I turned into such a girl over. . . a girl? But she is special . . .

A/N: I know this might seem left-field, but there's a purpose to it, really. It just doesn't seem like it now. Trust the author, and all that. This is as yet unbeta'd (I got one offer, and I need to reply, but . . . Yeah, things are weird right now), but any one else can still offer. I also didn't proof it as well as I might have, due to limited time. Sorry.

Now. . . Last Wednesday (April 27th), a tornado swept through my town. It. . . basically destroyed everything. They're saying it's almost as bad as when Katrina hit New Orleans. I lost internet, and it's just been a mess. So I'm in a bit of a disarray right now. I'm trying to get back up and running. :] Please send your condolences! There's been at least 8 confirmed deaths, and several missing. Thanks!

Reviews make me happy. :]