Chapter Forty One
The pair spent a very enjoyable week, lounging around the house, catching up. Jordan had taken a few weeks of long over-due leave. They went fishing on the lake, and cooked the trout they caught on an open fire on the lakeshore. Jordan was pleased to see Gabe was steadily gaining weight, thanks to a diet of eating as much as he liked, whenever he liked. Jordan showed Gabe around the town, introduced him to his army friends, and took him to his favourite restaurants. They went to the cinema and the theatre, and one day drove to the Lake District and spent an enjoyable day touring the lakes on boats.
The evening Ellen was due to return home, they wandered down to the lake and ate a picnic dinner on the shore, listening to the quiet waves.
"It's so peaceful here." Gabe mumbled. He lay back on the blanket with a soft sigh. Jordan smiled and lay back with him. "Can I ask you something?"
"Why did you become a doctor? You kept saying you wanted to be a mechanic."
"Well… I do work on my car sometimes. I've been thinking about getting a car or a motorbike to restore. But Ellen doesn't like the smell of engine oil." Jordan rolled his eyes. "Tracy's parents pushed me to do well." He said after a moment. "Because they let me stay with them, I… felt I owed it to them to do well… I got top grades in all my exams, and just… decided to apply to Birmingham and see if I could get in. I did and… well, here I am." Jordan shrugged and smiled at Gabe. "You always said I could do it." Gabe returned the smile.
"I knew you could." He murmured. He sighed again, and glanced over at Jordan. "Can I ask you something else?"
"This week, have you been feeling at all… funny?" Gabe whispered.
"What, like, ill?" Jordan asked. He rolled onto his stomach and laid his hand across Gabe's forehead. "All your tests came back clean." He said worriedly. Gabe batted his hand away.
"I don't mean ill. I mean… funny." Gabe said helplessly. Jordan raised his eyebrow. "I mean… I don't know if it's… seeing you again after so long, or… I don't know. I just feel… funny." Jordan smiled.
"If it helps, I've been feeling 'funny' too." He said quietly. "I think… I have to break up with Ellen." Gabe looked at him.
"I… it's not really there, anymore. It hasn't been for a while."
"Feelings of… anything, really." Jordan shrugged. "I just don't like her as much as I did." With a sigh, Gabe rolled onto his stomach, crossed his arms in front of his head, and rested his chin on his forearms.
"Answer me honestly." He muttered. "Has it happened since… Bailey called?" Jordan stared at him for a moment, before mimicking his position and sighing heavily.
"I thought I'd buried everything I felt for you… I was so hurt by what you told me, that I buried myself in my school work, then in university, then in work. I never let myself think about you, because it was too painful… Then, I get the call from Bailey and I find you, and… you're thin, you're weak, you're… you're not the person I remember. My Gabe was so strong. He would take me on in a fight, and usually win, and he'd not give a damn what anyone thought of him. But you… seem to have given up." Gabe looked at him.
"I… I guess I have." He whispered. "It's just that… everything I tried failed. I tried to keep you guys together, and I couldn't… I tried getting proper jobs and I couldn't… I couldn't even walk across town without getting hit by a goddamn bus!" Jordan grabbed Gabe's hand and squeezed hard.
"Don't say that." He growled. "Don't you dare think that. Gabe, you did more to keep us out of care than most people would. You did a really good job with us. What happened, what went wrong, was not your fault!" Gabe shrugged.
"You… were trouble." He said finally, smirking. "You argued for the sake of arguing." Jordan rolled his eyes and nudged Gabe.
"Yeah, well, you nagged for the sake of nagging." Gabe laughed.
"I just wanted you to do well, Jord." He said quietly.
"I know that now. But you know that as a teenager, I was more concerned with sex and hanging out with my friends than listening to you." Gabe grinned. They heard a car crawling along the gravel driveway and looked up towards the house. Jordan saw Ellen's car and sighed. "I suppose I'd better… deal with her."
"You sound like you're going to exterminate her." Gabe laughed. Jordan smiled.
"No… Just break up with her." Jordan clambered to his feet and stretched. "I'll be back in a while." Gabe stretched out on the blanket and closed his eyes while Jordan climbed back up the hill to the cottage and went inside. The lake was peaceful for a few minutes; the only sounds were of the wind whistling through tall pine trees, and the evening bird chorus, before a shriek spilt the air. Opening his eyes, Gabe looked up towards the house. He could hear shouting, and a lot of crashing for several minutes, before silence fell. Then the shouting and crashing started again, before the front door opened and Ellen stormed out. Jordan followed her, carrying armfuls of clothes. He threw them into the car, and Ellen had driven off almost before he could close the door.
Jordan wandered back down to the lake, looking truly relaxed for the first time in a week. Gabe smiled at him as he settled back down on the blanket.
"Anything valuable broken?"
"Just my head." Jordan said grimly. "She got me with that blue glass vase on the sideboard. Didn't realise the bloody thing was so heavy." Gabe laughed and brushed Jordan's fringe back from his forehead.
"You don't look too bad." He said. "No blood." Jordan smiled.
"I'm glad I did that." He said quietly. Gabe looked at him. "Because now it means I can do this."