Chapter 8: The Morning After
“I think I’m going to die. Are my eyeballs still in my head?” Simon folded his arms on the kitchen table and flopped his face onto them.
“I told you not to drink so much, idiot.”
Kyle had been the sensible member of the relationship the previous night and had limited his alcohol intake so as not to feel how Simon looked this morning. He joined his partner at the table and handed him a steaming mug of coffee, receiving a grunt in response.
A few minutes later, Nate shuffled into the kitchen. His red hair seemed to be reaching for a space anywhere other than his head and the dark circles under his eyes gave him the complexion of an extra from ‘Shaun of the Dead’. He squinted at Kyle and received a small wave from his brother, whose head remained glued to the table, before pouring himself some coffee.
“How’s your head?” Kyle took off his glasses and started to wipe them with his shirt whilst Nate tried to remember how to speak.
“Peachy. By which I mean it feels like a peach that someone bit into.” Nate looked at his brother and then back to Kyle, “Is Alex up yet?”
Simon finally raised his head to look at his twin, “He left earlier. Didn’t say two words to us, miserable sod.”
Where could Alex have been going? He had no job and no interviews that Nate knew about. He’d never mentioned any friends and as far as Nate knew, he had no money either. The thoughts were cluttering his mind to the point where he’d let his coffee get cold when Kyle broke into his trance.
“He didn’t look very happy,” he pushed his glasses higher onto his nose and continued, “Did something happen last night?”
Nate scrunched up his nose in an attempt to remember anything of importance that had happened the previous night but the alcohol seemed to have wiped his memory. The last thing he remembered was a woman in a red dress and Alex walking in on them…
“Ah, shit…” the younger twin got to his feet, almost spilling his coffee in the process, and dashed upstairs to throw on some clothes.
He tamed his mane as best his could and ignored the stubble on his chin in favour of getting to the car faster. A quick wave was all he offered his brother and Kyle in terms of an explanation and then he was in the car; it was only then that he realised he had no idea where he was going to go. Nate knew he wanted to find Alex, especially if he was upset, but he didn’t know where to start looking. And why was Alex upset anyway? Because he’d seen Nate making out on his bed? Surely not. He felt he was missing an important piece of the puzzle but his booze-soaked mind just couldn’t remember it.
Without knowing his destination, Nate started to drive into town, eyes glued to the paths in the hopes of somehow finding Alex wandering them. It was no use; he wasn’t going to just randomly find him. It had been almost an hour when he decided to turn back and head home; his head was throbbing and he felt like something was dying inside his stomach. The road home was quiet and so when the blue flashing lights pulled up behind him, Nate knew they were for him.
Swearing under his breath, he waited for the policeman to step over to his window and rolled it down accordingly.
“Something wrong, officer?” He tried to sound innocent but his voice broke and he ended up sounding like a guilty child caught stealing cookies.
The policeman pulled something out of his pocket and asked Nate to get out of the car.
“You were swerving a little back there, sir.”
The policeman was a good foot smaller than Nate but held such authority that the redhead felt like a smurf next to him.
“I’ll need you to breathe into this please.” The officer held out a breathalyser, something Nate had only seen on Law and Order, and Nate pressed his lips to it.
After a minute or so the officer looked at Nate through narrow eyes,
“You’re over the limit, sir. Did you know that? Have you been drinking?”
“I… No. I mean, last night I was but-“
Mr. Policeman nodded, “The alcohol is still in your system. I’m going to have to ask you to come with me to the station.”
The churning in Nate’s stomach intensified, “Am I being arrested?!”
“Not this time, sir. But you’ll have to fill out some paperwork and hand over your licence.”
Almost two hours later Nate rang Simon’s mobile phone from the police station but there was no answer. Knowing his brother, he’d probably gone back to bed because of his hangover and so he tried his own house phone. Kyle answered after two rings.
“Hello? Nate’s um, residence.”
“Kyle? Is Simon there?”
“Hey, Nate. He’s asleep on the couch. Hey, where’s the flour? I’m making a pie.”
“In the top cupboard over the sink. I don’t think I have any margarine though-“ A man with huge arms covered in tattoos of naked women glared at Nate and so he tried to veer the conversation to more pressing matters, “Can you wake Si up, it’s important.”
Nate listened as Kyle’s voice disappeared for a moment. He could hear Simon grumbling, followed by a loud thud and swearing. He must have fallen off the couch. Finally his twin’s groggy voice was on the other end of the phone.
“I need you to come and pick me up.”
“You’re in your car!”
“I’m not! I’m in the police station!”
“Did you run someone over?”
“Because I’m a lawyer, I can save you and stuff.”
“No, Si I-“
“Unless you proper mowed them down like a lunatic, then you’re on your own, bro.”
“Simon will you fucking listen!”
“Calm down, Jesus Christ.”
Nate rolled his eyes and inhaled deeply before continuing, “I was over the limit. I’m banned from driving for twelve months.”
Silence at the end of the phone.
“Si? You there?”
“You daft twat. I’ll send Kyle for you. Bye.”
Nate stared at the dead phone for a moment and hung it up dejectedly. Not only had he been arrested and now had a criminal record, his brother’s boyfriend was going to come and pick him up. How humiliating.
Kyle didn’t say much on the drive home, not that he ever said much, the only time he spoke was when he announced he was stopping to get some margarine. Once back in the house Nat was greeted by Simon who gave him a small lecture on the importance of knowing your alcohol limits, out of duty more than actual concern for his brother’s wellbeing. Kyle continued with his baking, using anything and everything he could find in Nate’s almost bare cupboards, whilst Simon watched him like a puppy waiting to be fed.
At around half two, Alex finally returned home. He opened the front door as quietly as he could but even if he’d phased through it Kitty Pryde style, Nate would have heard him arrive. He’d been waiting for the younger lad to show himself, worried like a mother missing her child.
“Alex! You’re back!”
The blonde’s blue eyes widened and he nodded, a little taken aback at his welcome party of one. He bit his lip and tried to step past Nate to make his way to his bedroom but the gangly redhead seemed to be filling the hallway.
“Where did you go?”
“Out.” Alex’s cheeks flushed a little and he stared at the worn carpet as he spoke, “I thought you might not want to see me after…”
Nate’s ginger eyebrows knitted together and a lopsided smile twisted his face, “Did I do something embarrassing? I’m really sorry if I did. I can’t remember much, sorry.”
Baby blues shot up to look into Nate’s green eyes and his smile dropped from his face.
“Oh, god I did do something didn’t I? Whatever it was, it wasn’t me okay? Beer tends to make me half crazy!” he laughed but it sounded more like he was choking and the soul-piercing glare coming from Alex wasn’t helping.
“You don’t remember anything?”
“Well, I remember kissing someone in a red dress on your bed - which I’ve changed for you by the way.”
Alex’s jaw clenched and he nodded curtly before stepping past Nate. The redhead was about to ask if he’d missed something but was interrupted by his brother calling for him from the kitchen.
What awaited him on the table was supposedly edible but which part of it he could actually eat,
Nate didn’t know.
“What is it?” Nate asked, a little intimidated by Kyle’s bright eyes.
“An apple pie!” He cut two slices and presented them to the twins like they’d just won an Oscar.
Simon’s smile stretched too far across his face as he examined to charred sludge on his plate,
“Mmm, looks yummy!” he glanced at his brother, green eyes blazing in their sockets, “Right, Nate?”
Nate nodded, “Yup… ‘Yummy’.”
Simon was first to brave the failed experiment. He took a huge spoonful and bravely shovelled it into his mouth, eyes watering slightly as the burnt pastry touched his tongue.
“What type of apples did you use, sweetie?” he warbled through a mouthful of goo.
“I couldn’t find any apples,” Kyle seemed to be beaming like a proud peacock, “So I used tinned tomatoes.”
Nate watched as his brother’s complexion completed the colour cycle and pushed his own portion aside. He wasn’t about to complete the day from hell by getting food poisoning. Instead, he decided to change the topic to try and deter their attention from the demonic pie.
“So, are you two ever going to leave?”
Simon slyly spat out the rest of the ‘pie’ into a napkin and nodded a little too enthusiastically.
“Yes. Yes we are. Right now in fact. Let’s go, Kyle. Far, far away.”
He grabbed Kyle’s arm and led him out of the house, all the while gesturing silently for Nate to destroy the pie somehow. Nate couldn’t help but laugh and quickly emptied the rest of the pie into the wheelie bin outside, he didn’t want his whole house to smell of it. The damp of the pavement outside soaked into his socks and he groaned internally. That’s when he remembered. The previous night. Alex bringing him back inside. Sitting on the sofa. Kissing Alex.
“Oh…” Nate flopped onto the sofa and ran his hand through his hair, “Oh… Shit, I should apologise.”
He could feel his cheeks burning at the memory but also felt that his mind wasn’t shying away from it. In fact, remembering the warm feeling it gave him when he’d kissed Alex was making his heart beat faster and stirring something deep inside his stomach.
“It felt nice. It felt good.”
Without another thought, Nate jumped to his feet and marched down the hallway towards Alex’s room. What he was going to do or say was a mystery to him but he was sure his brain would figure something out once he got in there. He barged into the room without knocking, prepared to face the consequences of telling the youngster that he’d enjoyed their small kiss. Alex turned from his position on the bed, eyes like moons and tears spilling down his cheeks.
Nate stopped mid-stride and all thoughts of confessing fell away from him like dead leaves from a tree. The blonde teenager was sitting cross-legged on his bed, a razor blade in one hand and blood dripping down his other arm. He quickly fumbled to pull down his sleeve in a feeble attempt to hide the cuts but Nate had already seen too much. He grabbed Alex’s hand and tore the razor from his grip, throwing it on the carpet at their feet. Alex shied away, holding his arm against his chest, an ashamed look in his eyes.
Nate sat down on the bed beside him, emerald eyes wide and confused.
“Alex, what is this? What are you doing?”
“Nothing. Please go.”
With gentle hands, Nate took Alex’s bleeding arm and gingerly pulled up his sleeve to reveal three thin slices across his skin. Blood oozed across his pale skin and ran down over older scars before dripping onto the bed cover like rose petals. Alex tried to pull away but Nate held firm, determined to stop him harming himself any further.
“Please don’t look.” Alex pressed his hand to the cuts and more tears began to trail down his cheeks.
“Why? Why are you doing this, Alex?”
The blonde simply shook his head.
“We need to patch you up.”
Although not familiar with self-harm or even depression, Nate knew how to bandage a wound. Simon had been an incredibly clumsy child and there had been more than one occasion where the twins had had to hide an incident from their father.
He disappeared for a moment and returned with the first aid kit. Plonking down on the bed beside Alex, Nate silently began to treat the cuts and bandage where necessary. Alex watched quietly, breaking the silence now and then with a sniffle.
“You don’t have to tell me why you cut yourself,” Nate dabbed some antiseptic on a cut near Alex’s wrist as he spoke, “I don’t know the first thing about it. But I thought you were happy here?
Don’t people do this when they’re sad?”
Wiping a tear from his chin, Alex nodded weakly, “I am happy here.”
Nate frowned, “Then why-“
“I’m too happy. I shouldn’t be this happy. Something was bound to go wrong so I tried to stop that happening. And then… And then you didn’t remember anyway.”
A sharp pain shot through Nate’s chest and his hands stopped moving. Something inside him flicked on, like a light in a dark room, and he grabbed Alex’s chin firmly. Without warning, Nate kissed him firmly. There was no hesitation in it and, although a little rushed, it felt passionate and real. When he finally pulled away, Alex looked like he might go into shock, his chest rising and falling rapidly.
“I remembered.” Nate breathed.