I regained conciousness in a bland hotel room. I had collapsed sideways, my back pressed against the walls and my legs cramped into a kneeling position under me. My arms were still tightly wrapped around my abdomen, my sides stinging where I had scratched them. My eyes felt gritty and raw, the front of my top damp. Tracks of salt were dried onto my cheeks. I didn't move, feeling the air moving in and out of my lungs as I breathed, out of reflex more than anything. Not breathing was uncomfortable. I felt as though even my eyelids were made from concrete, unable to move and not finding any will to either.
There was no brief moment of not-knowing. There was no blissful moment of thinking I'd woken up next to him. There was no respite from the loss of someone whom you should have had forever with. The knowledge of Jake's death (Jake's murder my mind whispered) had permeated the fabric of my being. Like the air moving in my lungs, like the oxygen in the borrowed blood flowing through my veins, like the swords that pressed uncomfortably against my back, creating bruises.
Something inside twisted and broke as my mind conjured up the image of his warm smile. He'd always known how to calm me and comfort me. A phantom impression of his arms wrapped around me tingled across my skin. I closed my eyes, savoring it despite the sharp pain in my chest, ignoring the hot tears that trickled down my cheeks. I knew the phantom impressions wouldn't last. The sensation passed, bringing another wave of grief.
Eventually, I moved to a sitting position, my arms and legs tingling as blood rushed back into my numb limbs. I sighed deeply, running my hands through my hair distractedly. Eventually, once feeling had returned to my various extremities, I got up, showered and changed, moving in a dimly robotic manner. Finally, I checked out and made for the house I still had in the city. It was familiar territory and I knew where to hunt. I fed and hid myself away in the rooms, haunted by the memories that rose up again when I found all of Jake's clothes in a drawer. When I held a jumper to me, I realised they still smelled like him. I closed my eyes in the bittersweet pain the smell induced.
I began tracing the familiar path to the old house with the wide window sills, where I knew Jay Hale was sat, waiting for me to find him.