Chapter Twenty One
Gabe collected his trench coat from the diner at half past two that morning, and limped slowly home. He shoved his earnings into his jar on the kitchen shelf, went upstairs for a quick shower, and wearily climbed the ladder up to his room. He had, momentarily, forgotten Bailey was staying with them, and jumped in shock when he heard the older boy snore softly.
Undressing down to his boxers, Gabe leant over Bailey for a moment, watching his boyfriend sleeping peacefully, before he slid under the blanket and cuddled up behind the sleeping boy. He nestled his face between Bailey's shoulder blades, wrapped an arm around his waist, and closed his eyes.
"Good morning, handsome." A chirpy voice woke Gabe with a start the next morning. He opened his eyes slowly, and saw Bailey's face hovering several inches above his own, smiling down at him.
"Morning." Gabe yawned. Bailey leant down and kissed him. "What time is it?" Gabe rubbed his eyes and sat up.
"Half past seven." Bailey hopped off Gabe's lap and stretched, before pulling off his baggy t-shirt and rummaging in his holdall for another shirt. Gabe watched him dress lazily, before he dressed himself and went to brush his teeth.
"You can have a shower before breakfast if you like." Gabe yawned. Bailey nodded.
"What about you?"
"I hate showers in the morning. They make me cold. I have them in the evening. Breakfast in twenty minutes." Gabe leant across and kissed Bailey again, before clambering down the ladder and going into Jordan's room. He drew open the curtains and shook his brother awake, before looking in on Phoebe and the twins. He went down to the kitchen and got out six bowls and the cereal boxes, before realising there wasn't any milk in the fridge. He looked in the bread bin, saw there was no bread either, and growled in frustration.
"Jordan!" He bellowed up the stairs. "Can you run to the shop and get me some milk, please." Jordan thudded downstairs a moment later, dressed in a pair of low-slung jeans and a polo shirt. He silently took the fiver Gabe handed him and slammed the front door on his way out. Rolling his eyes, Gabe put the kettle on and made some tea. As the twins and Phoebe came in for breakfast, there was a knock on the front door. Gabe went to answer it, and found Angela stood on the doorstep, biting her lip.
"Can I-" She began.
"No." Gabe snapped, moving to close the door. She put her foot in the way.
"Please, Gabe. Is he here?"
"He is, isn't he?"
"Go away, Angela." Gabe shoved the door hard and heard it shut with a click. Angela hammered on the door. Bailey came down the stairs, his eyebrows raised.
"Angela." Gabe said grimly. "She wants to see you."
"Oh…" Bailey sighed. "Do you think I should?" Gabe shrugged.
"It's up to you." He said after a moment. "But, she…" Bailey reached across to hug him. He nuzzled his face into Gabe's neck and sighed again. The front door opened again, and Jordan came into the hall, carrying a bottle of milk and a loaf of bread. Angela slipped in behind him and closed the door.
"Please, come in." Jordan said dryly, disappearing into the kitchen with a scowl. Gabe smirked at him as he went past.
"You can talk in the living room, if you like." He said quietly, before following Jordan into the kitchen and closing the door firmly.
"What's going on?" Phoebe asked, pouring milk over her cereal.
"Bailey and Angela are going to have an argument in our living room." Gabe pulled a couple of slices of bread from the bag and shoved them into the toaster.
"About what?" Phoebe asked.
"Angela told Bailey's parents he was gay, and they kicked him out."
"Is that why he's staying with us?" Liam asked. Gabe nodded.
"What's gay?" Rose asked a moment later. Jordan smirked at Gabe.
"Well, it means that instead of liking someone of the other gender, you like someone of your own gender instead."
"What's a gender?"
"Gender means if you're a boy or a girl."
"Oh… So boys kiss boys?" Liam asked. Gabe laughed and nodded, ruffling Liam's hair affectionately.
"Why don't they just kiss girls?" Rose asked.
"Because… They don't like to kiss girls." Gabe said after a moment. He slapped Jordan around the back of the head when he snorted.
"Does that mean I'm gay?" Liam asked doubtfully. "I hate girls. They're icky." This time, Gabe joined in Jordan's laughter.
"As you get older, you might find that opinion changes." Jordan said with a smirk. Liam scowled doubtfully. They lapsed into silence, which was interrupted a few seconds later by an explosion of bellowing from the living room.
"Twins, cover your ears, please. Jordan, come and help me." Gabe said, rising smoothly and going into the living room. Bailey was stood in the middle of the room, his fists clenched, his jaw tight. Angela had tears streaming down her face. Her hands were shaking as Bailey advanced on her, still shouting.
"My parents threw me out without a second thought! My father called me a fag and hit me! My mother couldn't even speak to me! All because you… you…" Bailey's voice choked and died as a sob wracked his throat.
"Jordan, get her out of here." Gabe said firmly, going to Bailey. Bailey pushed Gabe away as he approached.
"You girls are all the same." Bailey spat. "You giggle and whisper together. You tell each other little secrets and gossip, idle rumours. You never think! Why couldn't you just have asked me?" He snarled. "Just ask me! I would have told you the truth!"
"Bailey, please. I didn't realise-"
"You didn't think!" Bailey roared. "You're selfish, stuck-up, spoilt little bitch, who isn't capable of thinking about anyone but herself. So you lost a boyfriend when you were fourteen. Who cares? It's not like you'd still be with him now! You were thirteen. I've lost my parents, my whole life, because you couldn't deal with the fact that Gabe liked me more than he liked you!"
"Bailey." Said Gabriel gently. "I think you've said enough now." Bailey hiccoughed, and nodded, reaching blindly for Gabe's hand and clinging to it desperately. Jordan firmly pushed Angela towards the front door, opened it for her, and shoved her out onto the doorstep.
"If you've got any sense, you'll leave my brother alone." Jordan said quietly, his voice full of menace. "He and Bailey are happy together. They don't need you ruining it… Don't come back here again, otherwise I'll make you regret it." He shut the door in her face before she could reply. Jordan headed back to the kitchen, glancing into the living room on his way past. Bailey was on his knees in the middle of the room, sobbing wildly. Gabe was crouched behind Bailey, cradling him, whispering something in his ear. Swallowed his jealously, Jordan stepped inside.
"Do you need anything?" He asked in a low voice. Gabe shook his head, and smiled.
"Thanks." Jordan nodded, and went back into the kitchen.
"Is everything okay?" Phoebe asked. She was washing up while the twins sat at the kitchen table, their fingers obediently stuffed in their ears. Jordan smiled and patted Rose's head.
"You can listen now, guys. Gabe's calming him down."
"I thought Angela was nice." Phoebe said. "I didn't realise she could do something so mean." Jordan shook his head.
"I think this was all a misunderstanding. She outed Bailey over something that happened years ago, which she thought he did… Granted, she did mean to hurt him, badly, but I think she's really sorry for what she's done." Phoebe shrugged.
"Doesn't matter. She shouldn't've done it in the first place, regardless of why she did it. Telling someone something as big as Bailey's secret should always be done by the person themselves, rather than by a spiteful friend." Jordan glanced over at her. "I mean, how would you like it if Tracy came round here and told us you were gay? Wouldn't you prefer to tell us something like that yourself?" Jordan shrugged.
"I wouldn't really have a problem, because I know Gabe would be cool with it. Perhaps if we were super religious, I would be more worried, but…" He shrugged again. Liam and Rose, who had finished their cereals, were having a thumb-war at the table, half-listening to their conversation with a bored look on their faces.
"Go and get dressed guys, and fetch your backpacks." The twins disappeared obediently. "You too, Pheebs. I'll dry up here." Gabe came into the kitchen as Jordan slid the last plate into the cupboard. "Is he alright?" Jordan asked quietly. Gabe shrugged, rubbing his eyes.
"He's… tired. I put him back in bed to sleep a while longer."
"I'll take the kids to school. You can stay with him." Gabe smiled wearily.
"I like helpful Jordan. He's much nicer than bi-polar Jordan. I hope he visits us more often." Gabe ruffled Jordan's hair and darted from the room. With an angry growl, Jordan pursued him quickly, but Gabe quickly scampered up the ladder to his attic room. Sticking his tongue out at his grinning brother, Jordan grabbed his backpack from his room and herded the twins out the door. Phoebe trailed behind, and left them at the main crossroads in the town to go to the library before school.
Gabe pulled off his shirt and crawled back into bed with Bailey after Jordan left with the kids. His boyfriend, already deeply asleep, rolled over a little, and cuddled into Gabe's chest. Gabe wrapped his arms around Bailey and settled down, yawning. He was just drifting off to sleep again, when Bailey's body began shaking. Bailey moaned softly, his fists clenching in his sleep. Gabe quickly shook him awake, and cradled him as he sobbed.
"I'm sorry." Bailey whimpered.
"It's alright." Gabe murmured. "Let it all out… I'm here for you." Bailey wept for almost half an hour before he finally gulped a large breath of air and wiped his eyes firmly.
"Sorry." He muttered again in a low voice.
"It's alright. You've got every reason to be upset." Gabe stroked Bailey's hair. "One thing though… How did Angela know we'd start dating when she hired me?" Bailey shrugged.
"She probably figured you're my type. Most of the posters on my wall are of bands with singers who have blond hair and blue eyes. Slim types, quite quiet…" Bailey shrugged.
"What about you? How did she know I'd like you?" Bailey smirked at him.
"Well, who wouldn't, darling? Have you seen me?" Gabe laughed and kissed Bailey's forehead.
"Come on, Bailey. Let's get out of here for a while. I need to fetch some groceries." Gabe stumbled out of bed and pulled Bailey with him. They re-dressed, Gabe fetched some money from his jaw in the kitchen, and they wandered slowly through the town towards the supermarket.