Nate decided to take Alex home!
|Chapter Two: Decisions
What in God’s name am I doing? Nate gripped the steering wheel with enough force to make his knuckles turn white and stared at the road ahead like he was trying to decipher the Da Vinci code, anything to keep his eyes from wandering over to the young homeless guy’s cute face. CUTE?! He swerved slightly and saw Alex’s hand grip the seat tighter. At this rate he was going to give the poor guy a heart attack. Nate breathed deeply and stopped at a red light; he turned to look at Alex, who had removed his hood once inside the car.
“My house isn’t far from here.”
Alex looked at him, blue eyes wide, “Okay.”
Nate cleared his throat, “Do you want to stop at Burger King or something?” Wonderful, yes, there’s a nutritious place to eat. He silently scolded himself.
The redhead was still staring at Alex when the lights turned green and the car behind had to beep before Nate realised. He sped off a little too fast, cursing under his breath. He still didn’t know why he’d decided to take the youngster home. Something in his brain had just forced him to take care of Alex once he’d seen his face. It was as though someone else had been controlling his body and before he could do anything about it, Alex was already in his car, on the way to his house. Alex could obviously see Nate’s inner turmoil and spoke up, a blankness clouding his face,
“You don’t have to take me to your house, you know. You could drop me off right now.” He didn’t look away from the windscreen as he spoke.
Nat stopped mid-argument inside his head and turned to look at his passenger, “No. Of course I won’t do that. You’re coming home with me.” He watched as Alex’s expression turned to one of worry,
“Do I have to… do anything?” His cheeks flushed a little as he asked.
“’Do’?” Nate’s eyes widened as the realisation of the question hit him, “No! No, of course not!” God, what had this kid been through exactly? It was a question he wasn’t sure he wanted the answer to.
The rest of the journey was spent in silence; now and then Nate glanced over at Alex but he didn’t dare look for more than a couple of seconds in case he got caught. Once he pulled into his driveway, Alex was snoring softly in the passenger seat. Nate prodded the sleeping boy’s shoulder softly and the blonde’s eyes shot open. For a moment, Nate thought Alex was going to hit him but he managed to control himself and quickly got out of the car. He stared at Nate’s house as the redhead fumbled for his keys and then waited to be invited inside once Nate had the door open.
Nate kicked off his shoes, Alex doing the same, and gestured to the living room, “Make yourself at home. There’s a bathroom and spare bedroom down the hall so you can go clean yourself up if you want,” Nate gestured towards the cut on Alex’s cheek, “I’ve got some antiseptic wipes too if you need some.”
Alex muttered a ‘thanks’ and made his way down the hall. Nate’s house wasn’t exactly huge but it wasn’t cramped either; the hallway was quite narrow and Alex could see a study and another small living space through two open doors. Once at the end of the hall, he stepped into the small bedroom and took off his big coat, wincing as it caught the gash on his cheek. There was a wardrobe and a set of drawers on one side of the room and a window on the other, which overlooked a square-shaped garden, complete with tool shed.
The bed was covered in a pale blue duvet and looked so inviting, Alex could have flopped on it and slept right there and then but he didn’t want to sully the sheets with his dirty clothes. Instead he went into the bathroom opposite and started to strip off before entering the shower. The warm water ran through his matted hair and he smiled as it washed over his aching body, releasing the tension that had built up over the past few weeks. It felt like forever since he’d had a shower or even felt the pleasure of warm water running over his skin, and it felt like paradise. He stayed there, completely zoned out from the rest of the world.
Meanwhile, Nate was flapping about in the kitchen. He had decided to make something to eat but what he didn’t know. He opened the cupboards and stared at the raw ingredients like they were his opponent in the gladiator’s ring.
“Pasta? No, too much… Chicken? Everyone likes chicken, right?” He ran his hands through his hair and decided it would be best to just ask Alex what he wanted. He turned on his heel and made his way to the spare bedroom, peering through the door carefully so as not to scare the poor kid any more. He wasn’t there. That’s when he heard the shower running and instinctively turned to look towards the bathroom door, expecting to have to shout through it. It was wide open. Nate got a good eyeful of Alex’s naked self in the shower and was so busy staring in wonder that he didn’t realise Alex was staring back.
“Seen enough?” Alex turned so that he was looking straight-on and put his hands on his hips. He could practically see the steam coming off Nate’s bright red face as the redhead slapped a hand over his eyes,
“Sorry! I didn’t realise the door was open!” he turned to walk back down the hall and face-planted the doorframe, “Ow! Fuck me!”
“No thanks,” Alex’s voice was suddenly by Nate’s side and, as he removed his hand from his blushing face, Nate was thankful that the blonde had at least found a towel to wrap around his lower half. His theory about Alex being handsome under all that dirt was confirmed as he looked at Nate with a raised eyebrow,
“Um, do you have anything I could wear?” Alex fidgeted with the towel around his waist, “My clothes are kind of…”
“Sure! Sure, that’s fine!” The older man rubbed his bruised forehead and pointed towards the wardrobe behind him, “There should be some shirts and joggers in there. Let me know if they’re too big or whatever.” He turned to leave and then realised he should probably ensure his new houseguest that he wasn’t a complete perv, “Oh, and sorry for you know, seeing you… naked and stuff.” He started to feel his cheeks heat up again.
“No big deal,” Alex smiled for the first time since they’d met, “I’ve had worse.”
“Right. Good. Well not good, I mean… Yeah. Bye,” he left Alex alone in the bedroom and made his way back to the kitchen, only then realising that he hadn’t asked him what he would like to eat.
After about ten minutes, Alex entered the kitchen wearing one of Nate’s larger shirts and some grey jogging bottoms. Nate almost choked on the cup of coffee he was drinking as he took in the sight; the shirt was at least two sizes too big for Alex and the bottoms of the joggers had been rolled up a few times due to how long they were. He looked like a kid in his father’s clothes. Alex stood at 5’ 10’’, a good few inches shorter than Nate, and was underweight for his height – Nate could see his collar bones clearly through the shirt.
Alex sat down at the small table, opposite Nate, and started to roll up the cuffs of the shirt as they were covering his hands. He tucked a loose strand of wet hair behind his ear and forced a smile,
“Thanks for the clothes and… everything.”
“No problem,” Nate got to his feet and opened his arms widely, like some sort of property tycoon, “Welcome to my house!” his toothy grin disappeared quickly at Alex’s confused expression and he continued in a more sombre tone after clearing his throat, “What would you like to eat? I have lots of, er, food… Or takeaway, we could order something?”
“Pizza it is.” Nate called in the order and excused himself before going for a shower, leaving Alex to his own devices in the kitchen.
The phone rang a couple of times when Nate was in the shower but Alex guessed it would just be some cold-callers or something and decided to occupy himself with making some tea. He was never a fan of coffee, it reminded him of his foster father a little too much and that was not someone he wanted to be constantly reminded of. So tea was the next best thing. He was pouring the boiling water into a mug with pigs on it when he heard the front door open.
“I’m telling you, Si, he probably just fell asleep or something,” Kyle adjusted his glasses as his lover burst through the front door like some sort of man possessed. His green eyes were burning in their sockets as he glared around the living room,
“I’m not mad that he didn’t turn up, I’m mad that you went to all that effort and he couldn’t be bothered to make up an excuse as to why he didn’t turn up!” Simon, Nate’s twin, took Kyle’s chin in his hand and kissed him on the lips firmly, a sure fire way to shut the smaller man up for a few seconds, and then stood up straight, “NATE! Where are you?!”
Kyle rolled his eyes, used to his lover’s spurts of temper by now, and plonked himself down on the sofa. He planned to wait out the argument that was bound to follow.
In the kitchen, Alex was frozen to the spot. Had he really just gotten free of that awful place, only to be brought to somewhere just as bad? The mug of water in his hand was trembling as the tall ginger man strode into the room.
Simon glared at Alex, “The fuck are you?”
Alex didn’t respond. He simply stared at the taller man, eyes as wide as dinner plates.
“You robbing Nate?!” Simon’s ‘protective older brother’ mode had been switched on high and he started to walk around the kitchen table. Alex managed to muster up enough movement to keep at the opposite side of it. “I asked you a question!”
Alex swallowed loudly and, voice trembling like his hands, mumbled a response, “You- You brought me here, remember?” He didn’t know what Nate was on, but he was certainly not in his right mind. How could he have forgotten who he was when he’d only just spoken to him twenty minutes ago?
“Put that pig mug down!”
Alex’s blonde eyebrows knitted together, “Wh- What?”
Simon’s voice was getting louder, “The pig mug! It’s mine, put it down!”
As an instinctive reaction to the man’s bellowing voice, Alex did exactly as he was told. His fingers opened and he put the mug ‘down’, all the way to the floor. It smashed loudly and he was too damn scared to even feel the splash of boiling water on his bare feet. It was Simon’s turn to be the shocked one; his jaw dropped open and he simply stared at the shards of pig faces on the floor.
“Jesus wept!” his hands balled into fists, “Do you know how long I’ve had that fuck-faced mug you fuck-faced arse-su-“
Simon turned at the sound of his brother’s voice. Nate saw him physically relax as he saw that his twin was safe and sound but his shoulder’s stiffened once more and he jabbed a finger towards Alex,
“Little twat’s trying to steal your stuff!”
Nate glanced at a now terrified Alex and then back at his brother, “He’s not a thief! I invited him!” He stepped over the broken shards of mug and held out a hand to touch Alex’s shoulder. The younger man flinched back and wrapped his arms tight around his chest. Nate turned back to his brother, his own anger now flaring, “Will you just go into the other room!”
Simon realised his mistake and his anger quickly simmered down, leaving him flushed and more than a little embarrassed at his outburst. He turned to leave the kitchen only to come face to face with Kyle, who looked like a mother about to scold her child. Simon’s shoulders sagged and he scratched the back of his head,
“I thought he was a burglar.”
“Sometimes you’re such an idiot,” Kyle grabbed Simon’s sleeve and led him back into the living room, leaving the other two men alone in the kitchen.
Nate sighed as he started to pick up the broken pieces of porcelain from the floor, careful not to cut himself on any of it. He put the shards in the bin and then turned back to look more closely at Alex, who was still trembling,
“Sorry about my brother,” Nate gestured for Alex to sit down and he did so, “Are you alright?”
The blonde nodded and looked up at the redhead, his eyes watery with unshed tears, “I- I thought he was you. Scared me a bit.”
“Yeah, we get that a lot. Not the scaring part, the mix-up,” Nate smiled, “I’m clearly the better looking one though, right?”
Alex smirked and then winced at the pain in his feet, “Ow…” He brought them out from under the table and gawked at the red blotches covering them, “Shit.”
“I’ll get a cold compress,” Nate said as he grabbed a tea towel and ran it under the cold tap. He knelt down beside Alex and started to press the cool towel against his feet; they weren’t too badly burnt, thankfully, but they would be sore for a couple of days, “They won’t scar, don’t worry,” Nate said softly.
“Doesn’t matter if they do,” Alex shrugged as he stared at the table.
Before Nate could question him any more, Kyle stepped into the kitchen, followed by a downtrodden Simon who had a look on his face that said ‘no treats for me tonight’. He stepped over to the table and took a seat opposite Alex,
“Sorry about that, mate,” he drew circles on the tablecloth with his finger as he spoke, “I was just worried about my brother, that’s all.” Kyle stood beside him, a hand on his shoulder, perhaps for reassurance or perhaps to make sure he apologised properly, Alex couldn’t tell.
“S’ok,” Alex shrugged and the corner of his mouth curled up, “You were just being protective. It was… nice of you.”
Simon’s face lit up and he looked up at Kyle as though waiting for a thumbs-up or some sort of ‘you’re off the hook’ parade. No such luck. Kyle simply squeezed his shoulder more,
“Yeah, well,” Simon stumbled over his words, “I overreacted.”
“Sorry about your mug,” Alex tucked his legs back under the table as Nate got to his feet.
“It doesn’t matter about the bloody mug, right Si?” Nate gave his twin a look that told him not to disagree and Simon nodded obediently,
“Sure, no problem. It was just a present from my Dad, that’s all.”
Alex’s blue eyes widened at the comment and a single tear rolled down his pale face. He quickly swiped it away with his sleeve but it didn’t go unnoticed by the other men in the room.
Nate could see Alex was becoming more and more agitated and ushered Kyle and Simon into the living room so that they were out of Alex’s earshot, and Nate explained the situation.
“So you just brought him here, no questions?” Simon looked extremely puzzled.
Nate nodded, “Yeah… Don’t ask why because I have no clue.”
Simon put a hand on his brother’s shoulder, “Nate, this isn’t like all those half-dead birds and stuff you used to bring home. This is a guy, he could be anybody!”
“He’s not-” Nate blushed at himself for snapping and bit his lip, “He’s fine, okay? I know what I’m doing.” His brother sighed and Kyle turned for the door,
“Come on, Simon. Nate says he knows what he’s doing.”
Reluctantly, Simon followed his love and gave his twin a wordless look that said ‘I hope you’re right’ before leaving him alone with the stranger.