Chapter Thirty Seven
Jordan was awoken the next morning when a bowl of cold water was dumped over his head. He sat up with a yell, spluttering as he swallowed a mouthful.
"Where are my clothes?" Gabe snarled. "Where the hell am I?"
"A hotel," Jordan groaned. "I washed your clothes last night."
"You're lucky yours didn't fit me, otherwise I'd've taken them." Gabe was curled up in the armchair, his arms folded, his eyes half-closed in a glare. Jordan pulled on his clothes and went to fetch Gabe's clean, dry ones. On his way back up, he ordered breakfast for the both of them. Gabe took his clothes and went into the bathroom to change, slamming the door as he went. Anticipating Gabe's next move, Jordan went and stood in front of the door. Gabriel saw him as he left the bathroom, and scowled.
"Do you want some breakfast?" Jordan asked.
"I want you to move."
"No. Not until you've eaten and let me explain."
"Explain what?" Gabe snapped. "That you're a kidnapper?"
"No, I… I'll explain everything over breakfast." Gabe huffed and flopped back into the chair, wrapping his skinny arms around his knees and glaring out of the window, completely ignoring Jordan.
Ten minutes later, the food arrived. Jordan paid the doorman and set the dishes out on the sideboard.
"Help yourself." He said quietly, hearing Gabe's stomach rumble from across the room. He took a croissant and some scramble eggs for himself and retreated to his bed. Gabe hesitated, before going over to the trays. He took an apple, some eggs, toast and bacon, and went back to the seat. He'd finished eating before Jordan had eaten half of his croissant.
"So, who are you?" Gabe asked moodily, eying the plates hungrily.
"You can have more, if you want. I ordered extra." Jordan sighed as Gabe fetched more. "So… You don't recognise me?"
"Should I?" Gabe snapped. He finished his second plate and slid it away along the windowsill.
"I just thought you might." Gabe snorted.
"So what do you want?" He asked wearily. "A blowjob?"
"You're still… working the streets?" Jordan asked tentatively. Gabe snorted again.
"How else am I supposed to eat?" Jordan raised his eyebrow.
"It looks to me like you haven't eaten for days."
"Shut up." Gabe snapped. "Jesus, you're like my brother. He was about as much fun to be around as you." Jordan felt a flash of hurt at that, but beat it down.
"Thank you." He said dryly.
"What do you want, then?"
"I… I'd like you to come home with me." Gabe raised his eyebrow. "I live up north, close to the Scottish border. It's a nice place; secluded and peaceful. There's a lake nearby, and a little town too."
"What are you on?" Gabe asked. "Why on earth would you think I'd like to come home with you?" Jordan sighed.
"What if I told you I was… a mechanic... for fun… As well as being a doctor… in the army?" Gabe opened his mouth, no doubt to utter a cutting reply, when he closed his mouth again. He looked at Jordan closely for a moment, before frowning.
"Lift up your shirt." He ordered. Jordan obediently lifted his shirt, revealing a small, dark birthmark on his side, just below his ribs. Gabe stared at the mark for a moment, his eyes filling with tears, before he turned away from Jordan and went into the bathroom. A moment later, Jordan heard the shower turn on, the lock slid firmly into place, and the soft 'flump' of clothes hitting the tiled floor.
With a sigh, Jordan picked up the phone and dialled Ellen's number.
"Ellen? It's me."
"Jordan! Where the hell are you? You've not been answering your phone."
"Yeah, I… I've been a little busy." He sighed. "Listen. I'll explain everything more thoroughly when I get home, alright. My brother's been in a bit of trouble, and I've had to come and help him out."
"You've never mentioned a brother." She said accusingly.
"I know. We had a… falling out fifteen years ago. I'm trying to patch things up with him now."
"Well… do you know when you'll get home?"
"Hopefully sometime tonight. Perhaps early tomorrow."
"Alright." She was quiet for a moment. "Jordan, if I find out there's someone else, you know what I'll do to you, right?" Jordan laughed softly.
"There's nobody else, Ellen. Don't you trust me?"
"It other people I don't trust." She said darkly.
"Right…" Said Jordan disbelievingly. "Could you do me a favour? Could you make up the spare room, please? I'd like to bring my brother back for a couple of days."
"Alright. Call me when you get close."
"Will do. Bye." He hung up and stood up, stretching, feeling his shoulders aching. He looked over to see if Gabe was done in the bathroom, and swore. The bathroom door was open, and the main door into the room. Glancing into the bathroom, he saw Gabe's clothes were missing.
He ran out of the room and down the hallway, keeping his eyes open for Gabe as he ran. The car park was empty. Hesitating, Jordan finally decided to get in his car and follow Gabe. He drove back towards the town, and saw Gabe as he turned onto the high street. He drove up beside him, clambered out of the car and ran after him.
"Gabe." He put a hand on Gabriel's shoulder and stopped him walking away.
"Leave me alone." Gabe growled, yanking his shoulder free.
"No. Please wait. Let me explain."
"No!" Gabe insisted, shoving Jordan away. "Leave me alone!"
"No, Gabriel. Please listen." Jordan pushed Gabe back against the nearest building, easily keeping him pinned against the wall. Gabe struggled weakly for a moment, but he hadn't the strength to fight back. "I'm sorry Gabe. I'm sorry for leaving you. I was wrong, I know that."
"Everything fell apart after you left." Gabe whispered.
"I know… Bailey rang me yesterday. He didn't really know what happened, but he thought he saw you in town and was worried." Jordan saw Gabe's eyes light up for a moment at the mention of Bailey's name. He felt a flash of jealousy and groaned inwardly. He'd thought he was over feeling sorry for himself about Gabe. Gabe sagged back against the bricks wearily. Jordan pulled him into a hug, ignoring Gabe's freshly-washed damp hair wetting his shoulder and cheek. "I'm sorry I left." He whispered. "I'm so sorry. I know I was… wrong. Really wrong, to say to you what I did." Gabe shook his head.
"You were right." He said bitterly. "I am a whore. It's…" Jordan drew back and hit him, hard. "What was that for?" Gabe asked, rubbing his cheek, looking shocked.
"Don't call yourself that." Jordan growled. "Don't ever." He sighed, and released Gabe. "Come on. Get in the car." Gabe frowned.
"You're coming home with me." Said Jordan firmly. "There are things we need to talk about." Gabe looked like he was going to argue, before nodding his head in acquiescence and getting into the passenger seat. Jordan turned the car around and they sped out of town.
"So… Are you really a doctor?" Gabriel asked quietly. Jordan smiled and nodded.
"I stayed with Tracy and her parents for two years. They moved just after I came back from the American exchange, and said I could go with them. I worked for her dad, paying them in rent that way. Then, I got a bursary from the army and went to Birmingham University to study medicine. Now I work for the army."
"So who's Ellen?"
"My girlfriend." Jordan replied.
"You're not with Tracy?"
"No. We split up before going to uni. She moved to France after she finished studying. We still send Christmas cards every year though."
"Hm… I thought you two would last." Jordan smiled and shook his head.
"We were fine while we were at school… But we started growing up and… well, we just grew apart." They drove in silence for a while, until Jordan spotted a motorway service station. He glanced at Gabe, shivering a little in his thin shirt and shorts, and pulled into the car park. "Come on." Gabe obediently followed him inside.
"What're we doing?" He asked.
"Getting you some clothes." Jordan replied. He'd noticed several people giving Gabe strange looks, and felt his anger rising. Gabe saw his expression, and laughed.
"Don't take any notice."
"Doesn't it bother you?" Jordan asked through gritted teeth. Gabe shook his head.
"I got used to the stares long ago." Jordan wrapped his arm around Gabe and squeezed him for a moment, before steering him towards a small clothing outlet and a coffee stand. He handed Gabe a pair of jeans, a t-shirt, a thick jumper and an outdoor coat. Gabe quickly tried them all on, before Jordan went to pay. "Thank you." Gabe said quietly, pulling on the jumper gladly. Jordan bought two cups of coffee and two large cheese and ham baguettes for them to eat in the car. "So, where do you live?" Gabe asked as they started off again.
"Just near the Scottish border. It's a little secluded, but I like the peace and quiet." They drove in silence for a while. Jordan was about to ask Gabe something, when he looked across and saw Gabe had fallen asleep. He was cuddled inside his new jumper, head resting against the window. Jordan turned the radio on quietly, and let Gabe sleep until one o'clock. Jordan pulled off the motorway and drove a few miles down a smaller road, before parking in a sheltered lay-by. He gently shook Gabe awake and handed him a baguette.
"Sorry." Gabe yawned and stretched, his back arching like a cat's. "I didn't realise I was so tired." He ripped open the baguette and tucked in enthusiastically, finishing it before Jordan had eaten half of his own. He saw Jordan looking at him pityingly, and blushed. "Sorry." He said again. Jordan wordlessly handed him the rest of his baguette.
"When was the last time you ate properly?" Jordan asked, insisting Gabe take the rest of his food. Gabe shrugged.
"About a week ago, I think." Jordan started the car engine and they re-joined the motorway, speeding northwards.
"So… what happened?" Jordan asked finally, when Gabe had finished eating. "How long have you been on the streets?" Gabe shrugged.
"How old are you now?"
"Then… thirteen years. Give or take." Gabe sighed and folded his arms across his thin chest, preparing to tell his story.