Jordan had only just fallen asleep that night, when he was awoken by a soft whimpering. He opened his eyes slowly, and looked around. He finally realised the sobbing was coming from Gabe's room. He quickly got up and made his way to Gabe's room, and found his brother deeply asleep in his bed, his shoulders shaking as he cried. His face was contorted into a frown. Jordan knelt beside him and shook him gently.
"Gabe. Wake up." Jordan said softly. "It's just a dream, Gabe." Gabe's eyes snapped open as his fist swung out towards Jordan's head. Jordan caught his fist and kissed it gently. "Are you alright?"
"Yeah." Gabe whispered. He pulled his fist back and wiped his eyes quickly. "Sorry for waking you."
"It's alright. I was only dozing. Budge up." Jordan slid underneath the duvet and settled down beside Gabe.
"What're you doing?"
"Sleeping with you." Jordan mumbled. "Until you stop having bad dreams."
"I've had them for years." Gabe whispered. "They're recurring."
"Do you hear me complaining?" Jordan yawned.
When Jordan awoke the next morning, he thought Gabe had left. It took him several moments to realise Gabe was underneath the covers, curled in a ball like a cat, his head nestled against Jordan's torso. Jordan looked at him for a moment, before clearing his throat and waking Gabe gently. Gabe's fist again lashed out, catching Jordan hard in the stomach. Jordan grunted and shoved Gabe to wake him fully.
"What was that for?"
"Sorry." Gabe yawned and stretched. "Usually people woke me up when they were trying to rob me." He sat up, his long blonde hair tousled with sleep. Jordan looked at him for a moment, before getting out of bed and going to his own room to get dressed.
They had breakfast in a sleepy silence, before Jordan ordered Gabe out to the car. They drove down to the army base where Jordan worked. Gabe patiently signed forms, was photographed and waited for an ID badge to be printed before they were allowed onto the base. He clipped the badge onto his shirt and followed Jordan into the medical building at the far end of the base. Jordan took a blood sample for testing, labelled it neatly and put it in the 'out' box in the corner of the room. He gave Gabe an injection of general antibiotics, an iron shot and a general check-up. An x-ray of Gabe's torso showed Jordan the six pins and three long metal rods that were stills supporting Gabe's spinal column.
"Does it hurt?" He asked quietly, seeing Gabe watching he look over the x-ray. Gabe shook his head.
"Not anymore, really… Sometimes it twinges in cold weather, or if I lift something heavy or sleep in a funny way."
"How about breathing? Does it hurt to breath?" Gabe shrugged.
"Sometimes. Again, mostly in cold weather." Gabe pulled his shirt back on and watched Jordan fill out a few more forms, before Jordan locked up his office and they returned to the car. Instead of going home, Jordan drove them into the local town. "Where're we going?"
"Shopping." Jordan said cheerfully. "You've not got a change of clothes." Gabe flushed.
"I can't afford that." He said quietly. "Let's just go home." Jordan shook his head.
"'Fraid not, Gabe. I can afford it."
"No but's." Jordan said firmly. "I don't mind." Gabe saw the stubborn gleam in his brother's eye and nodded silently.
Jordan dragged him into almost every shop in the town, buying him shoes, jeans, shirts and jackets, insisting on getting even more than Gabe said he needed. He took Gabe out to lunch after their shopping spree, even after Gabe insisted they go home instead, to save money.
"Get it into your head, Gabe." Jordan said sternly. "I'm going to look after you. Until you have some qualifications and a job, I'll pay your way. I'm a doctor, remember. I can afford it."
"But you shouldn't-" Gabe started to argue when Jordan cut him off.
"I mean it, Gabe." Jordan said firmly. "You can't change my mind." Gabe nodded shyly and finished his lunch in silence.
"What qualifications?" He asked finally, when they had started home.
"Well, I figured you might want to go back to college." Jordan said. "Get some GCSE'S, and A Levels or a BTEC or HND or something." Gabe stared at him.
"I… I suppose I could." He frowned at Jordan. "Paid for by you, I suppose." Jordan nodded. Gabe sighed heavily. "Jord… you don't need to make anything up to me, if that's why you're doing this." Jordan rolled his eyes.
"Gabriel, do you want to end up back on the streets?"
"I… no." Gabe whispered.
"Well, then, how are you going to get a proper job if you have no qualifications?"
"Well I… could wait tables." Gabe muttered.
"Look, if it's so important to you, then you can pay me back when you're earning." Jordan said. "But… let me help you with this." Gabe hesitated, before he shrugged.
"We'll have to see if anywhere would even take me on." He murmured. Jordan reached across and squeezed his hand.