The inside of the house was nothing like the stately elegance of the outside. Each room had a different theme. Even the servant’s entrance was decorated with murals from the classical world. Still a bit dazed, Jack let himself be herded into the hallway and down the stairs. It’s all fine and good to imagine being a storybook hero, scaling the walls and such, but nearly being eaten by a dog or shot was a touch traumatic.
It was like his life had passed before his eyes and left echoes of all the unresolved issues like a sticky residue. He’d been a little too girly for his father and older brothers from the moment his memories began. His mother’s love had always been a cushion, an apology from the world for letting him live as the monster he was, even if he’d learned to hide that part of himself almost even from himself.
At least until that moment in the train station with Gael. In that moment, it was as if he’d been touched for the first time, seen the world for the first time, found color, found song, and if that brought him to the low of being eaten by some great black and brown dog. In honesty, he wouldn’t give back the experience of Gael, even if it had meant he'd be eaten alive two weeks later. After having found that connection to another, he honestly did not think he could go on living without it. It was as though his life had been an endless winter, until Gael’s one spring moment.
“Jack!” Gael hissed from the top of the stairs.
Mrs. Lo gently pushed Jack on the shoulder. “Keep moving. Down the stairs!”
“Wait!” Gael ran down the curving stone stairs towards them. “Jack!”
Jack made it a step back up before both Mr. and Mrs. Lo started protesting. This was how planes made it into the sky though, Jack thought as his hands reached out to catch one of Gael’s. All they had to do was fall in love with the sky and they’d float right up to it. “I came to find you,” Jack said, smiling, unguarded.
Irish accent thick, Gael clapped his other hand on Jack’s holding him with just as much intensity. “Holy Mary, Mother of God, what the ever loving fuck are you doing here?”
“I had to find you. Didn’t you want to see me again?” Jack said, the worst kind of pain casting a shadow on the core of his being.
“Want and should not the same! Look you, I lied. I am a criminal. I got nothing. The car’s not mine. My fuckin’ clothes aren’t mine. I owe Alfred more money than I can count. You don’t want no part of me, Dr. Jack Walker.”
Jack held onto Gael’s hand tighter, drawing it up to press a kiss to the back of Gael’s hand. “I believe that when you said you weren’t a criminal, that you were telling me the truth, Gael. I don’t care what you’ve done. I don’t care that you’re Irish. I don’t care that we’re both men. As long as we’re kind to each other and honest with each other, we can work things out.”
Mrs. Lo clapped her hands loudly. “Foolish boys! Mr. Alfred going to drown you together in the garden!”
Jack’s eyes widened. “Is that likely?”
“Wouldn’t be the first time,” Gael said. “He ain’t got no patience when he gets mad. Jack, just get out of here and I’ll come by the hospital as soon as I can.”
“I’m not leaving without you,” Jack said again, kissing the back of Gael’s hand. “If it’s money, we’ll work it out.”
“Please, just go, Jack, please?”
“You money no good,” Mrs. Lo snarled. “Gael Mr. Alfred favorite.”
“But you told him,” Jack’s voice slowed, as he thought it through, one hand reaching to touch Gael’s curls. “That you were in love with someone and couldn’t be with him.”
“Yeah,” Gael said, a hand running through his hair, pressing his scalp to relieve pressure. “I was drunk and I was an idiot. He’s a dangerous man.”
“He’s still just a man.” Jack smiled. “Everything will be okay. God brought us together. We’ll both be better men because of it.”
Gael stared at him stupidly, then swallowed as if remembering how to breathe. “God’s not real, Jack. He’s like St. Nick, but for grown ups. Just you get your idiot Kansas ass out of my territory and I’ll handle it. It’s what I’m good at.”
“We’ll handle it together,” Jack said, “I’m going to change my clothes and then I’ll come up and we’ll all have a nice visit.”
Gael’s words echoed after him, “You fuckin’ Kansas idiot! He’s gonna drown us in the garden!”