It was half past four in the morning before Gabe got home, his body aching miserably, his hair matted with drying sweat and cum, his lower back stinging with every step. There had been almost thirty-five guys there, not twenty, and every one had been rougher than the last. However, Gabe could feel the heavy weight of almost three thousand pounds in his pocket and couldn't help but feel the night was worth it. He went upstairs and showered quickly, before pulling on his pyjama bottoms and going back down to the kitchen.
He made himself a mug of hot chocolate, and sat down at the kitchen table in front of a row of jars. He separated one hundred and fifty pounds from the wad of money in front of him and added it to the jar labelled 'twins'. It would pay for their trip, and for a couple of disposable cameras for them to take, and a little spending money each. He added one thousand pounds to his own jar, for food and bills for the next few months. He halved the rest and added nine hundred pounds each to Phoebe and Jordan's jars, for gym membership, future school trips and friends' birthdays.
Gabe sat and stared at the jars for a moment, before he burst into tears. He sobbed quietly into his hands for a few minutes, lamenting the course his life had taken, before he took a hold of himself and stopped his tears. Gabe stood up to return the jars to their usual place on the top shelf, and jumped violently with he saw Jordan leaning against the doorway, watching him.
"Long shift?" Jordan asked. "Eight and a half hours? I didn't realise pubs were open so late." Gabe shook his head wearily.
"You've got a secret girlfriend, haven't you?" Jordan interrupted. Gabe blinked in surprise.
"What? Why do you say that?"
"Your entire neck is covered in love bites, and your back is scratched to hell." Gabe twisted to catch a glimpse of his back in the shiny fridge door, and winced when he saw long parallel lines of scratches. Jordan came over and sat at the table. He took a sip of hot chocolate from Gabe's mug, before turning to Gabe with serious eyes. "What's the matter?" He asked, his voice surprisingly gentle.
"What do you mean?" Gabriel asked uneasily.
"Just now." Jordan said. "What's happened?" Gabe sank into a chair with a sigh.
"I just… thought my life would turn out differently." He said quietly. "Not… like it is now."
"What did you want to do with your life?" Jordan asked. "Before mum died?" Gabe shrugged.
"I don't know… college, perhaps. I thought about being a teacher for a while. Or joining the police, maybe." Gabe sighed heavily. "Now, I've got no qualifications, and no job prospects."
"What about what you do now?" Jordan asked. "Whatever it is that you do." He added. "Surely where you're working now will give you a good reference."
"It's not… the sort of job where you can easily… ask for a reference." Said Gabe uneasily. Jordan frowned.
"Gabriel… In all seriousness… Are you a thief?"
"What?" Gabe spluttered indignantly. "No!"
"Well, then, how do you earn money?!" Jordan burst out. "You're always working, but none of us know what you do. You come in some nights with fifty quid, others with a big pile like you did tonight-"
"Why were you waiting for me to come in?" Gabe asked suddenly.
"I wasn't. You turned the shower on, and that woke me. And you've not answered my question." Jordan said sharply. Gabe paused for a moment, before he turned away.
"I'm not a thief." He said firmly. "I just… do what I have to, to keep you guys out of care, and keep food on the table." Jordan stared at Gabe for a moment, before he shrugged and turned away.
"The tent and sleeping bags are fine." He said. "And Mr Williams, next door, said he's got a small camping stove and a ground sheet we can borrow." Gabe nodded tiredly.
"How many times do I have to ask you not to call me that?" Jordan grumbled half-heartedly. Gabriel smiled, and impulsively pulled Jordan into a hug.
"You know I… I only push you so hard to do well, because… I just want you to-"
"Have the opportunities you never had?" Jordan asked. Gabe nodded. He drained his mug and put it in the sink to wash up in the morning.
"Goodnight, Jordan." Gabe patted Jordan's shoulder wearily and went up to his room in the attic. Jordan watched him leave, before he turned and began rifling through the medicine cupboard. He pulled out some antibacterial salve, and went up to Gabe's room. Gabriel was curled up beneath a thin blanket, facing the wall, sobbing quietly.
Jordan glanced around Gabriel's room for a moment; he hadn't been inside it for months. Faded posters from Gabe's childhood still clung to the walls, the only colour in the room. The old, door-less wardrobe was barely half-full, and all of the clothes inside it were either faded or barely big enough to fit anymore. All of Gabe's jeans were frayed at the edges, and holed at the knees. Jordan thought guiltily of his own wardrobe, full of new clothes, which accommodated the height his latest growth spurt had given him.
Jordan went and sat on the edge of Gabe's bed, and drew back the blanket to expose Gabe's scratched back. Gabe jumped when Jordan squirted liberal amounts of salve on his back, and began to gently rub it in. Gabe lay quietly while Jordan worked, his eyes closed. After he'd finished, Jordan put the salve on Gabe's bedside table and slid beneath the blankets with Gabe.
"What're you doing?" Gabe asked, rolling to face Jordan.
"Shuddup and go to sleep." Jordan yawned and closed his dark eyes. Gabe stared at him for a moment, before he sighed and snuggled into Jordan's warm body. He wrapped an arm around Jordan's bare torso, and grinned.
"I guess that gym membership's paying off." Gabe patted Jordan's flat stomach gently. Jordan smirked and nodded.
"I guess so." He said sleepily.