For Alex, the ride to the hospital was torturous. It felt like they were going at a snail's pace and he seemed to notice every little detail of their journey. In reality it only took them ten minutes as the traffic was so quiet. Alex, Justin and Alan got out of the car when Rick pulled up outside of accident and emergency.
As they walked into the hospital it appeared to be utter chaos with people all over the place.
"You two sit here and I'll go and try and find out what I can," said Alan.
"Are you sure I can't come with you?" asked Alex.
"It's best you stay here, I promise I'll be back soon; and Rick always gets lost in this place so the easier we make it for him to find you the better."
Alan left Justin and Alex sitting in reception as he went off to find someone who could give him some answers.
The boys had been sat together for about five minutes when Rick came and joined them. He could see that they were none the wiser as to what had happened or who had been injured.
"Do either of you want something to drink? I know the café will be open."
"Tea would be nice please," said Justin.
"What about you Alex?"
"Um….yeah, ok..um..tea please."
"Ok try not to go far; I'm sure Alan's already told you how easy I get lost in this place."
"We won't," said Justin
Alan still hadn't shown up when Rick came back with the teas. So they sat there sipping the drinks waiting.
Time seemed to hold no comfort for Alex. Every time he looked up at the clock it had barely moved from the last time he'd checked it. The waiting around was beginning to get to him.
"What am I going to do if something really bad has happened to him?"
"First off, we don't know it is Jerry. If it is Jerry we don't know how bad things are either. It could be he was knocked out by the crash and was still out when they brought him in and he could be sat up back there now telling the police what happened," Rick replied.
Alan turned up a few minutes later with a concerned look on his face.
"Ok. I've found out what the doctors know so far. There was an accident earlier involving two cars. There were two men and a boy in the one and a woman and boy in the other. The boy with the list of phone numbers was in the car with the two men. So the bad news, one of the men in the car was pronounced dead on arrival, the other man is not doing too good either, they don't know if he'll make it through the night. The boy in the car with them is in better shape, although he is still unconscious, they are not too concerned about that. His problem is that he's broken both his arms; which means he's going to need a lot of help getting better."
"So he's not in any danger?"
"All indications at the moment suggest that other than his broken arms and a few cuts from broken glass he'll be fine. They've sent him for a CAT scan to make sure there's no brain injury. They'll come and get us when he's back. The police are here as well and they would like to talk to you if that's ok."
"What possible good would talking to me do?"
"Well other than the registration number on the car, there was no identification on any of the passengers but the police hope with your help they can identify the two men in the car, if it turns out that the boy is Jerry."
"Wou….. would I… would I have to look at the man who died?"
"We'll see what happens, I can't promise you won't have to, after all, it may turn out it's not Jerry or Jerry could wake up and answer it all for them. But all we can do at the moment is wait, I'm afraid."
"Ok. Will Justin be able to come with me to see if it is Jerry?"
As Alex asked, his hand went out looking for Justin's, seeking comfort.
Time dragged, the waiting room had television with a 24 hour news channel on but it held no interest for Alex. There was very little to read, not that Alex was in any shape to read either.
It was around an hour after Alan had come back with the information when a nurse came out and called Alan over. When they'd finished talking Alan came back.
"They've brought the boy down and the doctor said it's ok if we take you in to see if it's Jerry. I have to warn you though, there's going to be a lot of things that will make it difficult to see him, but the scans they've just done show there's nothing to be concerned about and they think he'll come around soon. So are you ready?"
"I think I am."
All four got up and walked towards the door the nurse had just gone in. Justin walked beside Alex with Alan leading and Rick bringing up the rear.
It took a few minutes of winding corridors before they got to the room. Alan stopped at the door.
"Now remember, this may not be Jerry, but if it is, he's going to be ok. Alright?"
Alan pushed the door open. It took one look for Alex to get his answer. His brother was hurt. Tears poured from his face and his legs started to buckle. Justin put his arm around Alex's waist to steady him. Alex with Justin beside him moved up to the bed and started stroking Jerry's face.
"Alan, I think you had better go tell the police it is Jerry, I'll stay here with the boys till you come back" said Rick.
"I'll be right back."
When Alan returned there was a uniformed cop with him.
"Alex, this is Officer Holloway."
"Hello Alex, I'm sorry to have to do this now but I'm going to need your help. First off, this is your brother Jerry, correct?"
"Can you write your parents' names and address down while we talk? I can send someone around to the house to tell them about your brother and bring them here. Now a few simple questions and then I can leave you with your brother."
"I'll try and answer what I can but I no longer live with my parents so I don't know if I can be of that much use."
"Alright then, do you have any idea who the two men in the car with your brother could be?"
"At the moment, the only guess I could give you would be my father and some other man he knows."
"Does your father drive then?"
"Yes, he drives a dirty red coloured Volvo. I couldn't tell you the registration, I'm sorry."
"If my information is correct, then it sounds like it could very well be your father's car. Would you be ok taking a look at the men taken from the car with your brother?"
"Is it really necessary to put this kind of stress on Alex, officer?" asked Rick.
"At the moment sir, Alex is the only one who can help identify who the men in the car could be. And as one of them has died, it is better that we identify him as soon as possible so we can inform that person's family. I hope you understand where we are coming from. I know it is not a pleasant thing to ask of Alex."
"I think I have a compromise for you. You think it was Alex's father's car, ok, well if you can't get in touch with either his mother or father in the next hour or so, Alex can take a look at the two men for you. Is that acceptable for you officer?" asked Rick.
"I think that is an acceptable alternative sir. Have you written your parents' details down for me Alex?"
"Here you go officer."
"Thank you. If I don't see you again, I hope your brother gets well soon."
The officer left the room to pass the information on.
Alex sat in the chair next to his brother's bed but with Jerry's arms in casts it was difficult for him to hold his hand. Knowing his brother was going to be alright and seeing him settled Alex down. He lost all sense of time or events. He could feel his boyfriend's hand on his shoulder but anything going on outside of the room lost all interest to him.
When Alan thought the police had had enough time to get in touch with Alex's parents and inform them of Jerry he went searching for Officer Holloway to see if there was any more information.
What he found out made him wish he didn't have to tell Alex, but he knew he had to be the one to do it.
When he got back to the room he asked Rick to step outside so he could talk to him.
"I've just been told, the second man in the car has died, and the police have managed to speak to Alex's mother. She's confirmed Jerry was in the car with his father. She said they had gone to some bible class with a friend of Jerry's but he's Jerry's age. She said her husband often gave the vicar a lift home afterwards. The police are bringing her in to identify the two bodies."
"Oh no, that's going to hurt Alex. I know they had a falling out but it's not been that long. Is he strong enough to take it?"
"I don't know; but while I was gone I called Sarah and told her. She suggested we tell Alex straight away that his mother is on her way in, so he can decided whether he wants to see her or not. She also said that if Alex needed her and Simon they'd come over but she thinks at the moment it would be better to stay where they are."
"I'd agree, do you want to tell Alex, or would you rather I do it?"
"I'm ok doing it. We'll need to work out a few things though if Alex wants to stay."
"What do you mean?"
"Well if he wants to stay, is his mother going to be civil enough for him to stick around, is she going to want to stick around? You do realise that we may have to make Alex leave if his mother gets nasty."
"Let's go tell him and see what he wants to do."
Rick and Alan went back into the room.
"Um Alex, we need to talk. I've got some bad news. Firstly the other man in the car, died a few minutes ago. The police have managed to get in touch with your mother and she confirmed Jerry was with your father. I'm sorry to have to tell you this, but it means it's highly likely that your father was one of the two men who died," said Alan.
"Oh," said Alex in a kind of stunned shock.
"I'm so sorry Alex," said Justin.
"There is more I'm afraid. The police are bringing your mother here, so you need to decide if you want to stay here with Jerry and face her, or come back tomorrow, well later today when you've had time to process some of what's happened."
"I want to stay with Jerry, in case he wakes up but I can't face my mother on my own. Will you guys stay with me?"
"We had no plans to leave you here alone, but Sarah said she and Simon could come in if you'd prefer them to?" said Alan.
"I think I can cope with my mother if you guys are here with me. Besides I think having a room full of gay men might scare her off."
"What makes you think she'll suspect us all as being gay? It's not like it's tattooed on our foreheads," said Rick.
"Mom is likely to start on about how my 'chosen lifestyle' is an abomination in the eyes of God; and I can't see any of you holding your tongues when she starts on with that baloney."
"Alex, does your mother really think that or was it your father's beliefs that ruled the house no matter what?" asked Justin.
"Oh no, my mother completely believes what Vicar Stephens says. I'd be surprised if she doesn't drag him over her with her."
"Um… we think the other man in the car may have been this Vicar Stephens. You see your mother told the police Jerry been to a bible study class or something and your father had gone to pick him up; she said your father often gave lifts to the vicar," said Alan.
"That's true, dad always did that."
Just then there came a knock on the door from Officer Holloway.
"Sorry to interrupt but I thought I'd let you know your mother is on her way up son."
"Thank you officer," said Justin.
"Well it sounds like my decision has been made for me."
"Not really, we can still get out without her seeing you, if that's what you want," said Alan.
"No, I want to stay with Jerry."
The four became tense while the seconds ticked over waiting for the woman who gave birth to Alex and Jerry to arrive.
"Who the hell are….What the hell are you doing here and how did you know about this before me?" demanded the woman in the doorway with a tone of distaste.
"Hello mother, nice to see you too," said Alex with more conviction than he felt.
"You haven't answered my question boy. What are you doing here?"
"I'm visiting my brother in hospital. I thought that was obvious."
"How did you know about it? Who told you without asking my permission first? How did they know about you?"
"I saw Jerry earlier today, well yesterday actually, and…"
"WHAT DO YOU MEAN YOU SAW JERRY?" Alice shouted cutting off what Alex was about to say.
"Jerry turned up at the street party for the royal wedding. He saw me there and wanted to talk to me about where I've been."
"We told you not to contact us again."
"He came to me, and begged me to stay in touch; so before he left I gave him a list of phone numbers where he would be able to get in touch with me if he needed to."
"That doesn't explain how you were here before me. Or what you're still doing here."
"He's Alex's brother, why shouldn't he still be here?" asked Justin.
"And who are you? What gives you any right to think you can interfere?"
"My mother found Alex alone on the streets after you threw him out."
"Well he's an abomination in the eyes of God."
"According to whom?"
"It says so in the bible. Or are you one of these heathens who don't know what the bible is?"
"Mom leave Justin alone, he doesn't want to hear.."
"It's alright Alex. I know how to defend myself against her bile. To answer your question Mrs Wilshere, I do know what the bible is. It's a book about love and tolerance, which it would seem you don't know much about."
"Get out you insolent boy. All of you get out; none of you have any business being here. If you don't go in the next thirty seconds I am going to get the police to throw you out."
"Come on Alex, let's go home, we can't do anything here right now, except fight with your mother. And that's not going to do Jerry any good," said Alan.
"And make sure you don't come back," said Alice.
Alex, Justin, Alan and Rick left the hospital and returned home. Whilst the ride home was just as silent as the ride to the hospital, there was a definite difference in the atmosphere. Whilst Alex was relieved to know Jerry was going to be alright, Justin was obviously very agitated from the confrontation with Alice.
"I would imagine you boys are a bit too wired right now to want to go back to bed, so how about I make us all some hot chocolate and we'll watch a film while we all calm down enough to go back to bed. We can talk about what happened tonight and the consequences in the morning," said Alan.
"I guess that sounds ok," replied Alex.
"What film should we watch Justin? You know what we have," said Rick.
"Um… well how about one of the musicals. How about Evita or Phantom?"
"I think either sound ok. Do you have any preference Alex?"
"Phantom? I don't think I've heard of that musical."
"Phantom of the Opera," said Justin.
"Oh well, I don't have a preference. I saw bits about them but never saw either."
"Well I know which one Justin prefers. He loves watching Phantom because of the actor who plays Raoul. So I guess it will be Phantom then is it Justin?"
"Well…. if no one else minds? I mean Raoul is gorgeous."
"Alright then, Phantom it is, you two get comfy and I'll go and help Alan in the kitchen."
Justin got the DVD from the shelf and set the telly and DVD player going. Alex sat in the chair just like he had a few hours earlier.
When Alan and Rick came back in, they were carrying mugs of hot chocolate and a few bags of chocolate too.
"I've brought these in as well because one thing I've found in all my years working in the hospital, bad times are always made a little better with chocolate. So tuck in boys," said Alan.
Justin sat between Alex's legs just like earlier and pressed play for the film to start. Alex and Justin had plenty of the chocolate Alan had brought in while watching the film.
With the combination of the music from the film and Alex's hand gently running through his hair, Justin fell asleep before the end of the film, resting his head on Alex's leg. Alan and Rick saw no point in disturbing him so he stayed asleep on Alex's leg until they all got up to go to bed.
When the boys got to their bedroom, Alex helped a drowsy Justin to undress and tucked him in before getting undressed himself and cwtching up to the one comfort he had.
Rather than falling asleep, Alex found himself thinking of his brother and how he was going to cope with his mother now that their father had died. And then it hit him. His father had died. The man who had brought him up, the man he loved, despite his recent actions.
Justin woke up to Alex sobbing.
"What's wrong baby?" he asked groggily.
"My… father… is….dead." he replied between sobs.
Justin knew there was nothing he could say or do to make things better, so he just wrapped his arms around Alex and held on until the sobbing stopped and they fell back to sleep.
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