Stupid fucked bed--the most uncomfortable bed in the universe. In the six months that Tim had been trying to sleep on it, he'd never once been able to get comfortable.
He groaned now and shifted a bit, trying to find a position that would ease the ache in his back. What the hell did he think working ten hours a day would do for bad back, anyway. He deserved it. And as much time he spent at the warehouse-- Tim Bayliss, factory warehouse grunt, a diminished career for a diminished man--he had to admit that it was good, in the end to have a job that took so much out of him. Much better not to have to deal with memories, reflections, self-recrimination. . . .
He closed his eyes again and sighed heavily as he heard a lock in the front door. His new roommate was home.
It hadn't been Tim's wish to have a roommate, but the reality of back-breaking, low-paying jobs was that they didn't pay much, certainly not enough to support a man whose savings had just run out. When he'd realized that he couldn't make it on his own any longer, Tim had posted a notice on the factory bulletin board--ROOMMATE WANTED--and a few days later, Alex had called him up. They'd now been cohabitating for about two weeks.
It was funny, because despite having spent more time with Alex than he had with any other human being since leaving Baltimore, Tim still had the feeling that he really didn't know him at all.
At first, Alex had reminded him of Frank: so emotionally contained, so seemingly neutral. But as time went on, Tim had revised that opinion. Pembleton's control was the culmination of years of practice of learning how to hide strong emotions: he used it to protect himself. If others didn't see what was raging underneath the surface, Frank felt safer. Alex, on the other hand, truly seemed . . . well, not to have any emotions to control. Tim had never met anyone like him.
It was okay, though. Tim hadn't wanted a roommate for pajama parties or to reveal deep secrets to. Definitely not the latter. He'd needed Alex in the apartment for financial reasons, and that was that. If they weren't going to be friends--if Alex was, as he seemed, completely uninterested in befriending him--that was fine, too.
"Tim?" Alex called.
"Yeah," Tim answered, then slowly got up off
of the bed. It was time for the first beer of
Trudging into the kitchen, he caught a glimpse of Alex from behind. Really, the man was handsome. Tim was sure that if he'd tried, Alex could have charmed his way into any number of people's homes, but for some odd reason, he was paying to stay here.
Right now, Alex was efficiently cutting up vegetables, using the knife so surely and so quickly that it made Tim a little nervous to watch.
"I'm making stir fry and I've got too much here," Alex said, green eyes focused on the counter. "You want some?"
"Ummmm . . . yeah," Tim said finally, lifting eyebrows a little and continuing to watch the steel of the knife glinting under the kitchen light.
"What?" Alex said flatly.
"You're pretty good with that knife," Tim observed.
"Years of training," Alex said, grinning a little bit to himself. "Look--I'll tell you when dinner's ready, okay?"
That was his signal to leave. Tim opened the refrigerator, pulled out a beer, and lumbered into the living room, collapsing unto the dilapidated second-hand couch that he'd bought upon arriving in Washington. This was the ugliest apartment in the world, and he'd filled it with the ugliest things in the world. Punishment was punishment, after all, and there was no reason in the world for an escaped felon, a murderer, to have nice things.
The gun in his hand, the look of terror in Ryland's face, the synthesis of hatred and despair that had spread through Tim as he slowly pulled the trigger, knowing that he wasn't going to miss, knowing that he couldn't miss, because he never missed. Never. And then the sick and shameful feeling as he gathered the shell casings and snuck off like the murdering bastard that he now was.
Tim shook his head now to dispel the image from his mind. "You are a killer," he whispered to himself. "Deal with it." He took a huge swig of beer.
What he ought to do is go straight back to Baltimore, turn himself in, and do time for this crime. He pictured himself walking slowly into the homicide unit, requesting an audience with Gee, blurting out the truth of the matter. It just . . . he couldn't. Not now. Not yet.
Two weeks later
Tim was having another of his
Alex sat up, slowly got out of his bed, and moved, catlike, through the darkened apartment until he stood in the doorway to Tim's room. He could see the huddled shape under the blankets, could hear the soft sighs and the groans emanating from his roommate.
*What did you do? What in hell is bothering you?* Alex silently asked. As he'd done so many times before, he glided into the room, stood silently beside Tim's bed, and watched him intently. He'd be beautiful, Alex thought for the umpteenth time, out from under that beard and mustache, with a proper haircut and the right clothes.
"Who are you hiding from?" Alex whispered, and Tim rolled away from him as if he'd heard. Alex smiled a little bit to himself, then slowly reached out to squeeze Tim's shoulder before going back to bed himself.
From across the warehouse, Alex yelled "Watson! Watson!" and watched as Tim slowly turned around. Not an instinctive response-- not quick enough, not sure enough. *You are not Tim Watson,* Alex thought, then slowly jogged over to his roommate.
"What's up?" Tim asked, hazel eyes slowly moving over Alex. Always dressed in black, without fail. He must own five pairs of the same jeans, Tim mused.
"Wanna go get a drink?" Alex said. "Celebrate payday?"
"Oh god. You know, I really shouldn't," Tim said.
"Which is precisely why you should," Alex responded, grinning.
Tim laughed. "You know, that logic is just about fucked-up enough to work. Uh . . . yeah. Let's go get a drink."
"Let's get wasted," Alex said enthusiastically.
"A drink," Tim corrected cautiously, and Alex grinned before shrugging and leading his roommate out of the warehouse.
Tim sat very still, knowing that if he moved suddenly, or maybe even at all, he'd start to spin, and he definitely did not want to do that in front of Alex. How much had they drunk anyway? He carefully moved eyes to the table. Five shot glasses in front of each of them, and Alex somehow still looked unruffled.
"You okay, Watson?" Alex asked softly.
"Oh yeah. Jusgreat," Tim slurred. "Good vodka."
Alex shrugged. "It's all right," he said, then leaned over the table to look closely at Tim. "We'd better get you home."
Tim returned Alex's gaze forthrightly. Such deep green eyes, almost inhuman, he thought. They were definitely amused right now. Yeah, yeah, so you drank me under the table, Tim silently conceded. Big deal.
What was it about those eyes? There was an expression in them--something that Tim couldn't quite name. He frowned a little, trying to think it through but failing. Feral, maybe? He was far too drunk for this.
Alex was still very close to him, and Tim jumped a little when he realized it. *I could lean over and kiss him right now,* Tim thought, and felt himself begin to flush a little. Where the hell had that come from?
"Let's go," Alex calmly said, grabbing Tim's arm and pulling him up.
"Slow . . . slow!" Tim said fiercely, yanking his arm away and stumbling a little. "I'm 'a walk on my own!"
This was going to take a while. Alex forced himself to be patient.
Alex waited quietly outside the bathroom, wincing a little as he heard Tim retching.
"Watson. You need anything?" he called once Tim fell silent. No response. Alex cracked open the bathroom door. Tim had passed out next to the toilet, his long limbs folded up in what had to be an uncomfortable position.
Alex sighed and walked over to him. "Tim!" he said fiercely, firmly, and his roommate slowly opened eyes.
"I'm going to put you to bed," Alex said slowly, loudly. "Help me get you into the bedroom."
Tim shook his head. "Think I'll just sleep here," he murmured.
"Come on," Alex said matter of factly, and began to pull Tim up. After some grumbling, Tim was on his feet and leaning heavily against Alex as they headed to his room.
Alex pushed Tim down into a sitting position on the bed, then bent down to look at him.
"How are you doing?" Alex asked.
His roommate stared blearily at him. "'M not very happy," Tim answered sadly.
"I know," Alex answered, and reached out to unbutton Tim's flannel shirt.
"I hate my job, I hate this apartment, I hate this city, I hate myself," Tim continued.
"Where are you from?" Alex softly asked, gently easing the shirt off of Tim's broad shoulders and down his long arms.
"Out east," Tim mumbled. He laughed a little as Alex pushed him down onto the bed and then groaned. "Oh God . . . it has been so long since I got laid," he said.
"Mmmm," Alex answered, and moved hands to Tim's belt buckle.
"Whaddabout you?" Tim asked, helpfully lifting his hips so that Alex could slide the worn khaki pants down his long legs and off of him.
"It's been a while," Alex said, amused.
"You wanna?" Tim asked, his eyes shut.
For a moment, Alex froze. Indeed, indeed, he thought.
"I think you should go to sleep now," he said out loud.
"But do you? I mean not now or anything," Tim said, then yawned. "Some other time. You . . . I think it would be pretty good." His words faded as he began to fall asleep, but Alex heard them all.
"You're not going to remember this conversation, so I'm going to tell you this," Alex said. "By the time I leave this apartment, Tim Watson or whoever the hell you are, I will have fucked you many, many times."
Tim laughed a little, then slowly rolled over. "Am gonna remember," he said softly, then was out.
Alex stared hard at the long body spread languidly before him and sighed. Absolutely gorgeous, and too drunk to fuck, as the song went. What a waste.
He started to leave the room, then hesitated. "Tim," he said out loud, then tried again louder. Tim continued sleeping.
Alex looked carefully around the room, then sank into a crouch, peering under the bed. Yes. He pulled out a small suitcase, looked up briefly to check to see that Tim was still asleep, then slowly opened it. A few papers, a wallet, a .38. *You're a little more interesting than I thought you were,* he thought, then picked up the wallet and opened it.
Timothy *Bayliss.* Baltimore, Maryland. Alex pulled out the driver's license, peered closely at the picture. Just as he'd thought- -Tim Bayliss was incredibly handsome. He pulled out the other cards in the wallet, then laughed out loud.
"Policemen's union? Timmy, Timmy," he said, then laughed again. Of all the people in the universe, he'd chosen a fucking cop to live with! It was too perfect. But a cop on the run . . . a cop with secrets. There might be something to work with there.
After thoughtfully returning the wallet to the suitcase and the suitcase to its hiding place under the bed, Alex slowly went back to his own room.
Two weeks later
"Why won't you let me?"
"I don't want a haircut. I like my hair this way," Tim stubbornly said.
"You look like Chewbacca," Alex said. "It's too much."
"I'm honored," Tim threw back. "You know, Chewbacca was cool."
"Let me," Alex said firmly. "Come on, Tim."
Bayliss--Alex thought of him this way now-- narrowed eyes, glared at him.
"Why is this so important to you?" he suspiciously asked.
Alex shrugged. "I want to see what you look like."
Tim sighed. "Look. I appreciate the offer, I do. But no, Alex. No." He stood up and went back to his bedroom.
Alex sat very still for a moment, then followed Tim. *Yes Tim, yes,* he thought. *Whether or not you like it, you're going to get a haircut from me.* And maybe a little bit more.
"Okay, a bet," Alex said.
Tim looked up from the book he was pretending to read. Why was Alex being such a pain in the ass about this? Since the night they'd gotten drunk together, Alex had been more . . . friendly, more forthcoming, and Tim had been glad of it. The two of them had actually begun to talk, to joke together, to share dinner and to hang out. And Tim liked that a lot, he really did. But where was this hair thing coming from?
"What kind of bet?" he asked wearily.
"At work tomorrow. Whoever loads the most boxes gets to decide the whole matter once and for all."
Tim laughed, looked closely at Alex. "Now you know I"m gonna win that one," he said confidently.
"You think so," Alex said calmly. There was a glint in his eyes.
"Alex, I've been at the job longer, and I'm bigger and stronger than you are. There's no way--"
"Okay then. So the bet is on."
Tim raised eyebrows. "Yeah, sure. Why not?" He turned his gaze back to his book again, quietly and confidently ignoring Alex.
"What?!" Tim threw down the sheet of paper that Alex had handed to him. "No, no, no. This is not possible."
"It's the truth," Alex said.
"This paper says--this paper says you handled fourteen truck loads today. That--that's not even humanly possible!"
Alex sighed, beckoned to a man standing in the background.
"Jim," he said. "Did I or didn't I load all of these boxes today? Tim doesn't believe me."
"I hardly believed it myself," Jim said. "For someone usually so slow on the job."
Tim stared hard, disbelievingly at Jim. "But he did it?"
Jim nodded, then spat on the floor. "Swear to God. I counted 'em myself."
Tim shook his head. "You have some explaining to do," he said to Alex. "I mean, shouldn't you be doing this every day at work?"
Alex grinned wickedly. "I've been conserving my energy," he said, then slowly reached up and ruffled Tim's hair. "See you at home tonight," he softly added, then walked off.
"Nothing. Nothing. Just a bet we had," Tim uncomfortably said. "See you tomorrow."
When Tim got home, the apartment was empty. Maybe this whole stupid haircut thing was just a game of Alex's. Relieved, he retreated to his bedroom, stretched out on the uncomfortable bed and stared hard at the ceiling.
He jerked awake. *I fell asleep on this damn bed???*
Alex stuck his head in the doorway. "Come on, sleepy head. I believe you're scheduled for a hair appointment."
"Oh Alex," Tim said disgustedly. "Look--can we just stop the game now? Would that be okay with you?"
"There's no game, Tim," Alex said. "Get up, come into the kitchen. Now."
Green eyes met hazel ones and a brief battle of wills ensued.
"This is so stupid," Tim said, then slowly stood. Alex grinned.
"Okay," Alex said as they entered the kitchen. "I think I got the height right."
Tim stared in disbelief at the stool placed in front of the sink.
"You're gonna wash my hair?"
"It's got to be wet before I can cut it," Alex said. "Sit."
Tim slowly settled onto the stool, then laughed a little as Alex neatly wrapped a towel around him.
"Just like the hair salon," Tim wryly observed.
"Service with a smile," Alex said, then turned on the water.
"I need you to lean back," he added.
Tim warily, slowly did so.
"It's okay," Alex said, his voice oddly gentle. Tim felt himself begin to blush a little.
Alex picked up a coffee cup and held it under the faucet, then gently began to trickle water over Tim's dark hair.
"Get soap in my eyes and I'll kill you," Tim said nervously as Alex reached for shampoo.
"Relax," Alex softly said. "You're stiff as a board."
"Look--I did not want this," Tim began, then fell silent as Alex began to wash his hair.
Gentle and strong hands slowly massaged Tim's scalp. He shifted a little on the stool, surprised at how good it felt. It had been so long since anyone had touched him, much less so . . . tenderly? Yes--Alex was being tender. He closed his eyes to hide the pleasure that he felt.
"Ohh," Tim said a minute later after Alex had rinsed his hair. "Okay." He moved to sit up.
"Not yet," Alex said.
Alex peered at the bottle of shampoo. "Lather, rinse, repeat," he said pointedly. "Stay where you are."
And so it happened again: fingers thrumming against his scalp, gently brushing the nape of his neck, his hairline, the space behind his ears. Tim sighed in spite of himself. It was good.
"Now," Alex said a minute later, then grabbed another towel. "Sit up."
Tim tried to grab the towel from Alex to dry his hair, but Alex neatly snapped it away from him.
"I need your help, I'll let you know," Alex said, then wrapped the towel around Tim's head. "Come over here," he said, and led Tim to a kitchen chair. Tim sat down.
It really didn't take that long. Alex neatly combed his hair out, evenly divided it into sections, then began cropping off the many extra inches Tim had accumulated over the past few months.
"Not too short, okay?" Tim said nervously as he watched the dark clippings pile onto the floor.
Alex peered intently at him, staring at newly cut bangs. "Not too short," he repeated, then snipped a few errant strands. Twenty minutes later, and he was done.
"Give me a mirror," Tim demanded as Alex contemplated him.
"You look good," Alex said. "Good, but not great. There's something else I need to do, I think."
"You will not blow-dry my hair," Tim said in a low, threatening voice.
"Why the hell would I do that?" Alex answered. "I'm talking about that beard. It's got to go."
"No. Haircut. You said haircut, Alex, and that's it. Not haircut and shave."
Alex narrowed eyes. "Well, it's fine with me if you want to go around looking like that."
That gave Tim pause. "Like what?" he said, then suddenly stood up, throwing the towel around his neck onto the floor. "What the hell have you done--" he got out, and hurried to the bathroom.
The haircut actually wasn't that bad. Tim cautiously ran fingers through his hair, and had to admit that he liked it. But the beard . . .
The beard had been okay with the mess of long hair, but now it looked ugly and out of control. Tim groaned.
"I'm right, aren't I," Alex calmly said. He was standing in the doorway.
Tim met his eyes in the mirror. "Was that a question? Because it sure didn't sound like one."
Alex snorted a little. "Come on. I'll get my shaving kit."
Tim reluctantly returned to the kitchen. Alex was rummaging around in his bedroom. When he saw Tim, he shook his head.
"No. Not here. It won't work. I need you someplace where you can lean back," he said.
Tim frowned. "That would be . . ."
"That would be the couch," Alex said quickly. "Come on."
Tim sat down and waited. Alex had disappeared into the kitchen again. "Are we gonna do this or what?" Tim called.?
Alex reappeared a moment later. "We've got to trim it first," he said, and placed the towel back around Tim's neck and shoulders. "Okay. You need to scoot down a bit so you're at an angle . . ."
Tim tensed all over as Alex neatly straddled him, pressing knees into the couch on either side of his thighs. He had scissors in his right hand.
"Ummm," Tim said, uncomfortable.
"Ummm," Alex mocked. "Relax. I gave you a good haircut, right?"
*Too close,* Tim thought, and felt panicked. What if Alex figured out--what if Alex . . . He immediately crushed the thought, trying not to feel Alex's soft breath on his face, the pressure of his legs . . .
"Breathe, Tim," Alex cajoled a while later. "You're doing fine."
Tim reached up to touch what had once been a full beard. Alex had cropped it close to his face. "Can I leave it like this?" he asked.
"I think it has to go," Alex said, then slowly clambered off of the couch and went back into the kitchen. "Relax for a minute," Alex said. He brought Tim a beer.
Tim heard water running and frowned. What was Alex doing in there?
"Put this around your face," Alex said, a minute later, handing him a wet towel. "The warm water will soften the beard."
"I know that," Tim said sharply, obeying.
"Lean back and close your eyes," Alex said. "I'll be with you in a few minutes."
The warm, wet towel did feel good against his skin. Tim did as Alex had suggested, breathing deep.
He tensed again when he heard Alex approach.
"As you were," Alex said. "Keep your eyes shut."
Tim drew in his breath a little bit as Alex straddled him again. Tim could smell him-- musky, sweaty, and sweet. He swallowed hard.
Alex slowly removed the towel from Tim's face, then began to smooth shaving cream over his chin, cheeks, and neck.
"Feels good," Tim murmured.
"It should." Alex leaned in, peered closely at the full red lips before him. God, god. Definitely give this man a clean shave. He deftly grabbed the razor, dipped it in a bowl of water beside him, and took the first stroke.
Tim's eyes flew wide open as he did so. "That--that's a straight razor," he said.
Alex brandished it in front of him. "Very sharp, very precise. You're gonna look gorgeous when I'm done with you."
"Don't you have something less . . . sharp?" Tim whispered.
"You don't trust me?" Alex's expression was enigmatic.
Tim shifted legs a little, then froze as he remembered how close he and Alex were. "No, no. I do. Go ahead," he said a little uneasily.
Alex moved in again, and Tim froze. One slip of that blade, and he'd be in a lot of pain.
"Such pretty skin," Alex said a bit later as he washed the razor off. "Why have you been hiding under that beard for so long?"
"I like it," Tim said stiffly. Alex narrowed eyes at him, then slowly resumed work. Tim looked helplessly into Alex's face. Alex's eyes were focused, his mouth firmly set as he worked. Such a nice mouth it was . . .
"I'm gonna do your neck now," Alex murmured. "Be still, Tim."
Tim laughed a little. "I--I'm not sure I can. You're freaking me out a little bit, Alex."
"Come on," Alex said. "Trust--remember?"
"Tilt your head back a little more," Alex ordered, and Tim did so.
Such a long and lovely throat, Alex thought as he slowly carefully slid the sharp blade down over it. So beautiful, and so exposed. He wanted to press his mouth to it and . . .
"Are . . . are you almost done?" Tim asked.
"Be patient," Alex said softly. "This isn't the kind of thing you want me to hurry through."
Tim took a few deep breaths as the razor glided neatly over his jaw and down his throat, again and again. Alex so close, the blade so sharp, his own heart pounding.
"You, Tim, are handsome," Alex murmured, his breath tickling Tim's ear.
Tim felt himself start to flush, and then became upset about it, which made him flush even more deeply.
"Look at you," Alex said, laughing, his voice intimate. "I can see that blush travel right down your throat."
"Alex--please. Can we--are you done?" Tim's voice shook.
Alex slowly put the razor down, then began to wipe off Tim's face. "Just about," he said quietly.
Tim tried to regulate his breathing as Alex stroked his throat, his face with the towel.
"So, do you know the test?" Alex said into his ear a second later.
"The test to see if a shave is close enough."
"No, I don't," Tim said slowly.
Alex was silent for a moment. "Close your eyes," he said.
Tim looked warily at him.
"The razor's on the table," Alex said reassuringly. "Close your eyes, and I'll do the test."
Their eyes met again, and Tim softly said, "Oh." Alex's eyes were dark and full of longing, and he, too, was breathing rapidly. Tim bit his lower lip, thinking, then slowly let his eyes fall shut.
Alex put hands on his shoulders, moved even closer to Tim, and then finally did what he'd been longing to do for quite some time.
Tim breathed in hard as Alex slid lips across his cheekbone, down to his jawline, and then down over his neck. It wasn't quite kissing-- it was more like Alex was caressing him with his mouth. And that thought made Tim shift a little, made his body tighten painfully. God, but he wanted this. Slowly, cautiously he lifted hands, placed them on Alex's back.
"Yes, Tim," Alex encouraged, and then began to kiss him in earnest. Hot, wet mouth on his vulnerable and naked skin. Tim gripped Alex hard, now very aroused. When Alex's lips at last touched his, Tim eagerly opened his mouth, accepted Alex's sinuous tongue. They kissed deeply, repeatedly, Alex's hands sliding under the front of Tim's shirt, moving possessively over his flat stomach, then up to soft nipples.
"Alex!" Tim got out as nimble fingers teased him. He leaned forward, buried his own mouth in the space between Alex's neck and shoulder, bit softly. Alex jerked a little, then sighed, his fingers continuing to dance over Tim's nipples.
Tim groaned out loud when Alex ground hips into him, when he realized exactly how hard he was. *I want him now,* Tim thought.
"Bedroom, Alex," Tim said hoarsely. "Yes?"
"Yes," Alex whispered, kissing Tim's full, swollen lips one more time. They hurried into Tim's room, divested themselves of clothing, then looked at each other.
"Lie down," Alex invited.
"Why not you first?"
Alex grinned evilly. "Who won the bet today?"
Tim shook his head. "You've worked that bet a little hard, Alex. You lie down."
Alex stepped into Tim, brought their bodies close together, began kissing him passionately. Tim groaned when Alex slid hands down over his ass.
"Let me, Tim," Alex said. "Let me this first time. You won't regret it."
His voice was so sexy, so confident. Tim gasped, bit Alex's shoulder again.
"All right," Tim finally whispered. "All right." He slowly lowered himself onto the bed, looked up at Alex.
"You are beautiful," Alex said roughly, then lowered himself onto Tim.
The shock of being so close to someone at long last reverberated through Tim, then increased exponentially when Alex reached down to encircle his cock in a firm, strong grip. Tim moaned loudly, embarrassed by the nakedness, the neediness in his voice, as Alex slowly and powerfully began to move hand up and down.
"Oh yes," Alex urged him. "So lovely." His fingers were slick now, moving much more quickly, very confidently. Tim was beginning to shake, to thrash around, and Alex leaned in to kiss him passionately before slowly drawing away.
"I'll be right back," he said, then hurried out.
When he returned, Alex wore a condom and carried a small tube of lubricant. Slowly, sensuously, he prepared Tim, and then just as deliberately he slid deep inside of him.
Tim cried out as his body slowly accepted Alex, as the overwhelming sensation of being owned slowly swept over him. As Alex began to move, to thrust, he reached down, recaptured Tim's penis, stroking him in rhythm with his own movements.
Tim opened eyes wide as he felt himself start to explode, as he realized that this was going to be an incredible orgasm, most definitely of the earth-shattering variety. He breathed in deep, then opened his mouth in a silent scream as waves of pleasure rocked his body, as Alex pounded into him, as the entire world stopped for several seconds.
And when he could think again, he watched Alex go through the same thing, watched his lover's face tighten and his eyes widen. Alex started to cry out, then stifled himself, then collapsed onto Tim, his body shuddering. They gripped each other tightly, then slowly, carefully, began kissing once again.
Alex opened eyes, looked carefully over at Tim. No nightmares tonight--Tim was obviously too worn out for them. Alex grinned into the darkness, reached out and stroked Tim's abdomen. *Mine,* he thought. Tim had given his body to Alex--and soon, Alex hoped, Tim would yield his secrets as well.
"You'll feel so much better once you tell me," Alex whispered, then stretched, grimacing in pleasure as he realized that he was faintly sore from their evening together. Who'd have thought that Washington would be so . . . interesting? Alex grinned again, punched his pillow, and then settled down to sleep.