Chapter Thirty Eight
Shooting Jordan a filthy look, Gabe left the hall, resisting the
urge to slam the door behind himself, and stalked away down the
To his great relief, Jordan didn't seem to be following him. He
wandered down the high street, hands deep in his pockets, quite
proud of the fact that he wasn't bawling his eyes out as he
walked. Someone bashed into him, hard, a teenager running to
catch a bus, and knocked him off the curb with a muffle oath. A
moment later, the world went black.
He could hear the steady bleeping of a machine right beside his
ear. He opened his eyes blearily, and looked around. He was in a
white room that smelled of disinfectant. A warm blanket was
tucked up to his chin. The door to the room opened and a nurse
came in, carrying a thick stack of paperwork.
"You're awake!" She said in surprise. "I'll fetch a doctor." She
scurried out immediately, leaving him in the bed. He tried to
call after her, but found his voice wasn't working. He had no
choice but to lay there quietly while waiting for the doctor.
Finally, a tall man in a white coat strode into the room. He
checked the chart at the end of his bed before coming over to
look in his eyes.
"How are you feeling? Any nausea? Dizziness?"
"No." He managed to croak.
"Nurse, fetch some water please. Just a little." He gratefully
emptied the glass she brought, and felt his throat loosen a
"What's your name, son?"
"Gabriel Tanner." The doctor wrote his name on the chart.
"We've been trying to find out who you are for three months."
"I've been here three months?" Gabriel asked weakly. "I need to
go!" The kids. What had happened to the kids? He thought
"Mr Tanner, you've suffered severe injuries. Do you remember what
"You were hit by a bus, and thrown into the path of a car. You've
been in a coma for three months. We weren't sure you'd ever come
around. You broke your right leg, your left arm in three places,
and seven of your ribs. One of them pierced your lung. We've had
to remove your spleen and part of your intestine, because they
suffered so much trauma. You also broke your back. You spine was
snapped in half."
"Don't worry, you're on the road to recovery. We managed to put
pins and plates in your back to give you some support while the
fracture healed, and using a new, experimental technique, we
think your spinal cord is regenerating itself as we speak."
"I need to go." Gabe said faintly. "I have… people I need to care
"I'm afraid you'll be here for the foreseeable future, Mr Tanner.
Once we're sure your spine's fully healed, you'll need some
intensive physiotherapy. Your fractures are all healed, but your
muscles have been unused for so long, they've started to
disintegrate. You need time, and a lot of effort, to build them
up again." Gabe felt tears spring to his eyes.
"You don't understand. I have to go!"
It was almost five months before Gabe was able to walk out of the
hospital. His arms and legs were fully healed, as was his back,
although he still suffered with back ache and occasional muscle
cramps. The doctors had insisted on a long course of
physiotherapy, and that he should be kept quiet. Every time he'd
tried ringing home, the call had been disconnected. The first
thing Gabe did when they let him leave was return home. To his
horror, he saw a 'for sale' sign dug into the front lawn. He went
up to the front door and knocked loudly. His key wouldn't fit in
the lock. When he realised no-one was home, he walked back into
town, ignoring the painful twinge in his back, and went to
Bailey's apartment. As he rounded the corner, he stopped short.
Bailey was just leaving the apartment with someone else, a few
years younger than Gabe by the looks of it. Bailey had his arm
around the boy and, as Gabe watched, he leant down the kiss him.
Biting back a growl of anger and frustration, Gabe turned away
from the couple. After hesitating for a moment, he decided to go
to Tracy's house instead. His back protested at the exercise, but
Gabe pushed himself on. He was limping by the time he reached
Tracy's house. He knocked on the front door and waited
impatiently, until a woman opened the door. He frowned; it wasn't
"Erm… Could I speak to Tracy, please?" He asked tentatively.
"Tracy?" The woman said blankly. "Oh… The people who lived here
before us had a daughter called Tracy. Do you mean her?" Gabe
nodded. "I'm sorry, they moved about two months ago." Gabe felt
like he could cry.
"Did they leave a forwarding address?"
"I'm afraid not, no." The woman gave him a small smile, before
closing the door. Gabe wandered back down the path, wondering
what to do. Finally, he turned back towards the town and went to
the diner. To his great relief, he saw Daisy inside, serving the
afternoon patrons. He stumbled inside, his back straining in
"Gabriel!" Daisy rushed over to him. He held up his hand to stop
her giving him a crushing hug. She patted his shoulder instead.
He struggled up onto one of the bar stools, and leant forward to
rest against the counter. "I've not seen you for eight months."
Daisy said. "Where have you been?"
"It's a long story." Gabe whispered, before he burst into tears.
Alarmed, Daisy came over and hugged him gently. He sobbed in her
arms, clinging to her for comfort.
"It's alright, Gabe." She said quietly. Gabe shook his head. He
drew back, and dried his tears.
"I was in an accident." He said. "Months ago. A bad one. I've
only just got out of the hospital. I broke my back, my leg and my
arm… I needed a lot of physio." He rubbed his eyes. "I went home
this morning, and there's a 'for sale' sign outside. The kids
weren't there. Tracy's moved house, so I don't know where Jordan
is and Bailey…" He swallowed hard. "Bailey has another boyfriend
now." Daisy embraced him again, stroking his hair gently.
"I'm so sorry, Gabe." She patted his shoulder and briskly set
about making him lunch. "You can stay with me until we've figured
something out. And you'll work here too. I won't have you back on
the streets again." Gabe hesitated, before nodded wearily.
"I just want to know where they are." He said helplessly.