'Denise.'

She could hear him calling her name from deep within her sleep, calling for her to wake up, to speak to her. The more he called, the less she wanted to wake. The more he called, the more she wanted to stay in this state for as long as she humanly could. But all things ended. And she knew that this state could not last for much longer than it already had. He had been calling her name for the past hour or so, each time the word left his mouth, it seemed to get more and more desperate for her to reply, as if he knew that she was trying her hardest not to answer, to keep her distance, not to be disturbed from her rest.

She should have known that she shouldn't have said anything to him. She should have known that he was the worst person to tell about anything like this. He would only worry about her, more than she would have imagined when the thought had first popped into her head. She loved him, she really did. She had done for so long, and she had finally told him, then immediately regretted the decision when he had said nothing, and ran away from him, only to realise that she had no chance of sleeping and taken two strong sleeping pills and drifted off into a dreamless slumber.

She had started to wake about five minutes before Porter had beamed Carl up to her room, and had resisted the temptation to open her eyes and to answer to any of his ministrations, she had to think this through to herself, and Carl constantly bothering her was not helping. Neither was the fact that he was right near to her, in her room, but that was a different matter. All she could hear was his worried voice somewhere close to her left; and apart from that, everything was silent. She hadn't moved an inch for over 3 hours, so she was starting to get cramp, but she didn't want to alert Carl to the fact that she was listening to him just yet.

When he had first entered the room, he had been extremely worried and had checked her pulse and breathing, only to find that she was perfectly fine. Well, that her body was anyway. Apart from that, he had no clue as to what her mental condition was, or whether she actually knew he was here.

'Denise..' He said her name again, less desperately this time, now in a tone of more tiredness.
'Denise, I'm sorry,' she heard the words, but they took a moment to sink in. 'I'm so sorry... Wake up. Please. For me?'

Denise turned, attempting to look as though it was just a sleep movement, but Carl knew better, seeing as she hadn't moved at all for the entire time that he had been there.

'Ha! I know you heard me Denise! Talk to me.'

'Go away.' Denise replied, her voice rough from not talking. She sounded different to her own ears, her voice scratchy and low and quiet.

'No, Denise, I don't want to go. Well, I will if you really want me to, but I need to talk to you. Please. Then I won't ask anything else of you.

He looked around her room from his view on a desk chair on the left hand side. It was of medium size, with only the basic needs for a person. Her bed was pulled against the right wall of the room, the door was opposite this, next to the door was a wardrobe, and next to him on the left wall was a desk, which had shelves full of books above it, and a small mirror nailed to the wall next to it.

Gingerly pulling the chair closer to her bed, he started to talk again.

'I had no idea that you felt that way,' he started. Looking back to the mirror next to the desk, he looked into his own eyes and nodded. He had to speak about this. 'how long?'

Denise took a few long breaths, breathing in, then out. In, out. This was her way of building up the strength that it was going to take her to tell him the truth.

'Since the kiss. You know that there were fireworks for me. Porter knew with Jane.'

'I... I don't know... I guess that i was just caught up with other stuff...' Carl replied hesitantly.

She sighed again, then gave a wry laugh, which sounded more like choking to her own ears. 'oh, so that's how you're putting it now. 'other stuff'. I was so much to me. It caused me so much pain to see you want her, while I was right there next to you, helping you when you needed it.'

'I'm sorry, I never saw it that way,'

'Well you wouldn't, would you? I've always been there for you, but you never noticed. You never noticed.'

'But I did notice, Denise! I noticed every time, and I have never been more thankful about knowing someone as I have for knowing you. You are the best person that I know. The only person aside from Porter who I can trust completely.'

'Then... why?' Denise forced these words from her mouth, she didn't know what else to say, she had no idea how Carl really felt about her; if he felt the same way as her; if he didn't. She turned to face the wall, her eyes still clamped shut to stem the flow of tears that she was close to certain would start flooding from her eyes the moment she opened them.

'Because I was confused. You know how I felt about Jane for a while. She was my best friend. She still is. But i was used to feeling that way about her for so long that I didn't know anything different. I was comfortable; used to it even. I didn't want to change. I didn't know how I should act around her if I had different feelings towards her. I know that's a lame excuse, but it's the truth.'

He looked at her motionless form on her bed for a couple of minutes then rose from the chair and paced silently for a while around the room. Every so often he stopped to examine objects closely, then would put them carefully back down in the exact same place that he found them. Eventually, he pulled the chair even closer to her bed, then sat down again.

'Honestly Denise, if I had known for definite, then I would have acted in some way. You really should have told me sooner.'

'Oh, okay, are you making this my fault now?' Denise sat up suddenly, glaring accusingly at Carl, having made her mind up to be angry at him.

'No, I wasn't saying that,' Carl sighed. 'I was saying that I should've realised. I should have known. But I needed you to give me that push. I needed you to let me know in some way that this was how you felt.'

'I tried, Carl! I did! I was with you almost every minute of every day! You are the only person I trust. You know that!' A drop of water landed on the back of her hand, and she realised that her eyes had filled with tears and she had been crying for a while. Attempting to stop Carl from noticing this, she twisted to try and face the wall again, only to become tangled up in her blankets, which caught Carl's attention, and lead him to see the tear trails on her cheeks.

Denise batted away the hand that he reached out to put on her shoulder, only making him become distressed. All he wanted to do was to tell her that it would all be okay, to placate her in some way, but she wouldn't let him close enough for him to do that. She had already slumped face first back onto her bed, and was breathing shallow, wracking breaths to try to stop crying.

That was all he could stand of seeing her in this state.

Before he could decide what to do, Carl rose to his feet then lowered himself onto the bed next to Denise.

'Don't worry; I'm lying on my back.' Carl knew that it would make her push him even further away if he stroked her hair or rubbed her back, so he decided just to lay next to her, as it could do no harm, and may even help to console her, at least a little bit.

Denise turned her head to her left so that she was facing him, and watched him as he stared at the ceiling. 'I'm sorry, Carl.' She whispered quietly, just loud enough for him to hear.

He turned his head to face her slowly. 'You have nothing to be sorry about.' He replied, almost as quietly. Then, after a moment's hesitation, he reached his arms around her and pulled her towards him, and she made no protestations as her head came to fall against his chest. 'You should sleep, Denise. We'll talk soon.' He expected her to argue against the idea, but she surprised him and closed her eyes, pressing her face into his shirt.

'Night, Carl.' She whispered.

'Night, Denise.' Carl replied, before he also closed his eyes, and drifted off into a comfortable sleep.