I Want to Know What Love Is

by James Matthews

Chapter 7

The Longest Day

"Mum, that was literally how it happened, he got this knife out and put it across his neck. I can't tell you anything more."

Dad had suggested we all go outside for some air, so I checked on Taylor and left him in his thoughts while me and my parents went and sat in a little seating area inside the hospital grounds. It was a cold crisp day, but no wind to chill us. I felt a bit better being out in the open.

"I got a call from the school Puppy, they said a man ran in and said what had happened. Look, whatever you were both doing in the marshes we can talk about later, but your Mum and me, we're really proud of how brave you were, and you might have just saved that boy's life with what you did."

"I don't feel brave Dad, I feel like the cause."

"Son, knowing who you are, I doubt that very much." Dad replied, putting his arm around me.

"Does Steven know?" I asked, flicking my eyes between them both.

"There's quite a few people that are aware there was an incident, Puppy. Rumours travel fast in a school, but yes, we've told Steven as much as we knew at the time." Mum replied.

I heaved a sigh. "I just can't believe he wanted to end his life. He's such a… look, when we can, would you both listen to what I have to say about him without judging?"

"Puppy, that's a very grown up request, and yes of course we will. Look I know I have said some rather… well, negative things about Hunter, but I pray and hope he will be ok. If you really believe we have got him wrong then we'll listen. After what he's done must have meant he was in a very dark place. I think your dad and I can at least hear you out, is that good enough?"

I nodded and managed my first smile of the day I think.

Dad had let me know that the school had granted me some time off to deal with what had happened. I'd been offered counselling but I said no as I'd spent most of my life being analysed. I got permission to go and be with Taylor and explained that he didn't have anyone else right now. Well, at least that's what I assumed. Mum and Dad said they would make their way home and explain to Steven what had happened while I stayed at the hospital. Dad had said to call him when I needed picking up and I left them and walked back to the main entrance of the hospital, still covered in blood!

I must have looked like some kind of gun shot victim!

I followed the signs back to where Taylor was and knocked on the door. He'd been brought a cup of tea and was just sitting in a chair, his face wet.


"Hey Jensen, your folks ok? You look quite a mess."

"Yeah, after I explained none of this blood was mine I think they were relieved, but they sent their best wishes to you and especially Hunter."

"Thanks dude, here, come sit with me."

I fell into a chair next to Taylor, puffing air through my lips. "What a shit day, eh?"

"You're telling me, one minute I was working and then this call came through and at first I felt like it was some kind of sick wind up, but thinking back to the last few days, he's been distant and I should have picked up on that."

"Hey, you were busy I guess, it's no one's fault is it?"

Taylor smiled briefly. "He's a character, my Brother. He's tough on the outside but mushy on the inside. I think whatever happened over the last few days got to his mushy side and he caved in."

I looked at Taylor seriously and placed my hand in his. He looked down at it and then looked at me. "Uh, Taylor? Hunter told me about his Twin."

"Oh, yeah Callum… yeah, yeah that was tough. More so for him, I mean they say stuff about twins don't they, like how they can telepathically communicate and all that? I dunno if that's true, but they were very close and that almost killed Hunter himself after what happened. What with… well you know about our parents Hunter tells me?"

"I'm not sure what you meant about the twin stuff but I can see that losing anyone in your family must be awful and he was so young."

Taylor took his hand out of mine and shifted himself so he was facing me more.

"I feel like you want to talk about something but don't know how to start, am I warm?"

I smiled, and rubbed my hands together nervously. "I don't know Taylor. This is really raw for us both at the moment and I don't want to cause any more stress than we already have, I mean Jesus, you've already lost one brother and your other one is… well…"

"It's fine, Jensen, my therapist used to say any talking is good as it clears out the crap from your brain."

"Well, It's just...uh"

"Just say it how it is in your head, I might have an answer I might not."

"Look, I think he might be my first love, like you know, when people talk about falling in love and stuff… God this is embarrassing."

Taylor gave me a stern look. "Jensen, I've known both my brothers were gay probably before they did, and Hunter tells me pretty much everything so don't be embarrassed because I ain't."

"A few years ago on TV when I was at Greenstone, I learnt what the word enigma was. It's a word I'll always remember because of how it sounds and when I met Hunter that word just seemed to fit him… and I think that was also what drew me to him. Like in science we got taught about gravity and how things pull other things in space, like planets and moons and stuff?"

"Wow, you're really going far out to ask a question aren't you?"

I chuckled lightly. "I guess what I'm trying to say is, the more time I spent with him the more he sort of pulled me in, but he remained an enigma, does that make sense?"

"So what you're saying is, you knew the outside of Hunter, but struggled to know the inside."

"YES! Exactly, finally, someone that understands!"

"So you wanna know the inside from me?"

"Is that rude to ask? I have no idea."

"Of course not. I mean obviously, Hunter will have parts of him that I think he should tell you himself if he hasn't already but like I say if I can answer anything I think I can tell you, I will. It's not like we have anything better we can do right now is there?

"No, I guess not. I'm scared though, and I don't think I've hated waiting as much as I do today."

"Hey bro, I got you on that one. But thanks, you know for being here...and thank your parents. Right now I'm really glad of the company."

"Hey it's really ok, I wanted to be here, I don't think I could sit at home waiting for news."

"So C'mon then, what do you wanna know?"

"Just… just tell me about him."

"Hmm, that's a massive question. Well, he's had a shit life. I dunno how much he's told you but our Dad's in prison and our Mum is in an institution for mental illness. I think that hit him hard… well hit us both hard really. We were younger obviously but you still remember what happened… well at least I do."

"He cheated on me," I said, not really knowing why, or if Taylor even cared.

Taylor Sighed. "You know Jensen, I can't defend him for that, your love life is none of my business but I do know he finds it hard to get close to people. He's always been a free spirit. I think you're the one person he's actually been with the longest."

"Has he been with lots of guys, even at his age?"

"I think he's done and seen more than what someone should have at his age. With Mum and Dad not around I've done the best I could. He was with his Grandparents for a time, but he hated it there, so I've been pretty much looking after him for a while now. I let him do his own thing you know. He's pretty street savvy and he texts me if he's out late. Maybe if I had reigned him in a bit more… well who knows, I'm his brother not his parent."

"I really love him, despite what's happened, and he's done and said some pretty awful stuff to me," I said, pointing at the bruises on my neck.

Taylor shook his head. "That's out of character for him. He absolutely idolised you, I had to sit and listen to him for hours saying how he'd met this incredible guy at school and how he thought maybe he was falling in love for maybe the first time. I dunno Jensen. Hunter built this fortress up around him ages ago now. Probably from all the shit he's been through. He came out gay quite young, then there's our parents as I've said… and our brother's meth overdose. His home life has been anything but stable and he's only had his Grandparents and me around at one of the most important periods of his life. I mean Jesus, I know it's tough being your age. The hormones, the changes, the feelings, the moods. And usually there is a decent Mother and Father regulating that and keeping you on the right path but Hunter had to find his own way and I think he's been wounded so many times, either by bad news or by people. I just think he's put up this shield so no one can hurt him. But I think you broke that and maybe he panicked."

"Enough to do what he did?"

Taylor put his arm around me."Listen, when he wakes up from this...and he will, I guarantee he will tell you that none of this is your fault, and I want you to believe that, I know my brother."

"I'm just worried he doesn't want to live any more, I mean if I hadn't got that knife away from him he would have actually…"

I started to sob again just thinking about it. It was so close to being much worse, and to think he actually did this was fucking my head up.

"Do you want to be with him still?" Taylor asked, stroking the back of my head, consoling me.

I looked at him, my face soaking wet. "Like more than anything in the world, especially now."

"Then you bust down the rest of that wall and you give him a reason to live, right?"

"I dunno if it's enough. I begged him in the marshes, I said I loved him, forgave him for what happened and he still pulled that knife."

"If you really want him, you need to go get him!"

"But how can I convince him I'm strong enough?"

"By standing up to him. I don't mean physically, but emotionally. Challenge his thoughts, his views on himself. I know for a fact he listens to you, despite what he's done. But if you really want to be with him and you are making that commitment, then yeah, it's gonna be hard. And at your young age I wouldn't blame you if you wanted to quit on him, he is hard work sometimes. But get inside that heart of his and he will protect and defend you like nothing you will ever expect, i've seen it before with Callum, his twin."

"Can I ask, like…"

"When it happened? Two days after their sixteenth birthday. They had gone to try their luck at getting into a gay club in London - something I didn't know about at the time, but they couldn't get in as they had no ID. Apparently they were approached by this group of guys, I think there were four of them and they said they were gonna have a party back at their place as the music was shit at the club they had been in. Stupidly they both went back to some apartment. Hunter got trashed on Vodka and ended up back at home. He doesn't remember how he got home but thinks someone put him in a cab. There was a text from Callum sent to Hunter at, I think around one in the morning, saying that he hoped Hunter got home ok and he was going to probably crash there, as the tube had stopped running. We don't know quite what happened after that but apparently he was given… or took Meth and had a heart attack. At the inquest they said he was probably still being penetrated after he'd… well you know."

I shook my head. "And these guys? What happened to them?"

"Nothing, it was deemed a terrible accident. Hunter believes he was raped by these guys, but i'm not so sure."

"How old were they? The guys?"

"Oh not old, about eighteen to twenty two if I remember."

"So sorry to ask, but why is Hunter convinced they raped him."

"Well, I believe… Jesus, well… I mean do you know about tops and bottoms?"


"Ok well, never mind then. Lets just say that Hunter said Callum was not someone who liked being… well ya know?"

"Fucked?" I said.

"Uh huh."

"Right I get it. I mean, can I tell you something. I got injected with meth… i mean i didn't know what it was at the time which is why Hunter flipped out on me but…"

"Yeah he's told me what happened with you, and yes he would have flipped out at the very least after seeing what that stuff does… or can do. Sorry, go on"

"Well I felt like, super horny and probably could have made decisions I wouldn't normally have."

"I've never touched the stuff Jensen, especially after Callum, so I can't relate but I think what you are trying to say is probably more plausible than what Hunter believes, and that eats away at him."

"But why?"

"He blames himself for getting so drunk, and they always looked out for each other, and Hunter feels like he let his brother down and should have been there to get him… well THEM, both back home safely. Personally, my opinion? I think it was just a terrible accident brought on by some irresponsible people taking drugs and not realising the dose because they were young and stupid. Not to mention things were going on that tend to go on and that was it. I don't think there was any foul play or this gang bang theory Hunter has. I met all these guys at the inquest and they seemed like normal gentle… scared and regretful young lads. So we only have their events to go on and their versions, with their stories all the same, so make of it what you will. I think Hunter just needs someone to blame, you know like to… to suppress his own regret. It's like he wants to make what happened bad so he can punish himself. I know that sounds totally fucked up, but that's how I see it."

I just nodded silently trying to take it all in and get inside Hunter's broken mind. We'd both come from really similar backgrounds through no fault of our own. We'd both battled our demons inside our heads, and we'd both now attempted suicide. Now more than ever I needed to break into the real Hunter.

I was away somewhere in my mind otherwise called 'lightly asleep' I guess, when I thought I heard a door opening.

"Hello, Just wondered if you might like a cup of… oh I'm sorry," said a lady wheeling a trolly. I yawned while heaving myself up from my slump by my elbows and smiled at her.

"It's fine, I must have dozed off, Yeah tea would be great."

Taylor looked like he'd been in a similar position looking bug eyed as I turned to ask him if he wanted a tea. He just nodded, sleepily. "Two teas please?"

"No problem, how long have you boys been in here? I walked past twice and you were out of it. Would you like me to get you a couple of sandwiches, you must be hungry?"

"What time is it please?" I asked. "Oh and yes please, anything to eat would be good...Taylor?"

"Anything is good." he responded, rubbing his eyes.

"It's six twenty. I'll be back in a jiffy, here are your teas."

The lady placed them down on the small table by us and wheeled her trolly out and let the door close gently.

"He must be out by now," Taylor said, picking up his cup.

"I was just thinking the same. Perhaps I'll go ask."

"Hey, have something to drink and eat first, and call your parents!"

"Yeah good idea."

I pulled out my phone and quickly accessed my previous calls and pressed Dad as he was most recent.

I listened for a few rings and heard him connect.

"Oh hey Dad...yeah, no we're still here, we fell asleep for a bit… uh not sure, I was going to ask, but no news is good news I suppose. Yeah Taylor is fine… yeah we're getting something shortly, someone just came in and offered. Uh I dunno I'll ask ---- Taylor, my Dad said did you want to stay at our house tonight rather than on your own, we have a spare room? Uh no it's fine Dad. Taylor is shaking his head at me…"

"Thank you for the offer Mr. Chase," Taylor called out.

"He said thanks for the offer… yeah ok, well i'll call you if any news and… oh i'm not sure, I'll ask ---- Taylor, my dad asked if it gets too late are you ok to drop me home? --- Yeah he said that's fine Dad. Yeah… yeah, ok… uh huh, ok, bye."

I got up to stretch my legs and bent my back backwards, before holding out my arms. "Not bad seats," I remarked, wanting to break the silence.

Moments later the door opened and back came the tea lady with two packets of ham and cheese sandwiches which we both thanked her for before tearing them open.

"God, I'm starving," Taylor remarked, with a mouth full.

"Yeah, I know what you mean."

We were almost finished with the sandwich when there was a knock on the door and a Doctor looking person came in.


Taylor stood up quickly. "Yeah that's me," he said, expectantly.

"The operation was a success, we are moving Hunter to ICU where he will remain for a couple of days before being moved to a ward. As much as you wish to see him he is heavily sedated and I'm not sure what time he'll be out of Recovery. My advice to you both is to head home and get some rest. Your brother is in good hands here and we don't want you getting unwell too do we? He said, strangely cheerfully.

"Thank you, uh, could we come back tomorrow?"

"Of course, If you make it after ten then the consultant and nurses would have completed their rounds and you will be left in peace. If you visit the main desk in the morning before you arrive they will be able to tell you where your Brother is."

"That's great, thank you Doctor… Uh can I ask? Were you the one… the one who saved him?"

The doctor smiled. "I repaired an artery! So I hear, the one that saved him is standing next to you. Have a good evening both."

With that he left, leaving us both standing there silent, Until Taylor threw his arms around me and burst into tears.

"Thank you!"

"For what?" I asked, genuinely bemused.

"For being here, for your support, for saving my fucking brother's life… like you actually saved his life, you realise that right?"

"I just did what I knew I needed to do." I said, hugging him back.

"Let's go home, I'll take you, don't call your dad."

I put my key in the door and walked into the hallway feeling absolutely shattered. Still wearing my blood stained clothes I looked in the mirror and saw the true extent of what had happened today and almost choked back a sob. It had been an emotional day.

Mum came out of the living room and immediately pulled me into a hug and Dad was close behind almost standing guard.

"I think a shower is in order don't you?" Mum said, pulling on my shirt. "Bring those down when you're done, I think we'll just bin them and I'll get you some new stuff."

"How's my brave and heroic Son?" Dad asked, as if trying to brighten my spirits.

I managed a smile. "Tired, dirty and all over the place."

"You're a hero at school Puppy, I had a call from your Headmaster. Whoever that man was who reported what had happened said you saved Hunter's life."

"I don't feel like a hero, but I'm grateful to him. He called the ambulance while I was in meltdown. I just did what I saw on TV."

"Do you want anything to eat?" Mum asked, as I started unbuttoning my shirt.

"No thanks, If it's ok I'm gonna have a shower and go lay down on my bed."

"Sure Button, anything you want. Just call if you need anything."

"Thanks Mum,"

I plodded upstairs and went straight into the bathroom and closed the door. I did my classic lean on the sink and stared at myself in the mirror. I looked a mess, I felt a mess, I knew I'd be a mess for days now.

I stripped off everything and turned on the shower, not even waiting for it to heat up. I hitched my breath as the cold water hit my skin and let my head rest against the tiles as the water came to a more pleasurable temperature.

Blood which has soaked through to various parts of my skin ran off me causing the water in the tray to change to a pinkish colour. It was a harsh reminder of what I'd seen happen today. I played that horrible part over and over in my mind. I recounted the words Hunter had said to me, I could see that knife come slowly out of his pocket. Had he planned this all along or did he just carry that knife for protection?

I picked up the sponge laying on the shower tray floor and scrubbed myself until my skin was red raw. All this nonsense of being a hero made me want to punish myself. I was no hero! In fact I'd convinced myself earlier on in the day that had I not come into Hunter's life none of this would have happened. Or would it? Cause and effect or just fate?

After washing my hair I switched off the water and reached for the towel hanging on the scolding radiator. I wrapped it around me and stood in the middle of the bathroom hugging the warm material, just rotating from left to right, thinking intensely. With Taylor gone, there was no more distraction, no more talking. It was just me and my thoughts.

With a quick scrub of my hair with the towel to dry it I secured it to my waist and left the bathroom for my room closing the door behind me. I went to my drawers and pulled out a pair of comfortable boxers and threw myself on the bed and stared at the ceiling, before quickly getting up again and dimming my light to a low orange hue. Climbing back on to my bed and laying on my back there was a light knock on my door.

"I'm fine, I don't need anything," I called, thinking Mum was already in fuss mode.

"It's me, can I come in?" Came the voice of Steven.

"Sure, whatever."

My door opened and Steven slowly came in and closed it again. His attire suggested he was in for an early night too with a Deadpool T-shirt worn and a pair of boxer trunks. He sat on my bed cross legged and clamped his hands on to his bare feet.

"Listen, I, uh… well I'm not very good at this sort of stuff, but I'm so sorry about Hunter and what you had to do, it must have been…"


"Yeah, I was trying to think of a non depressing word but one that explained it."

"It's fine, horrific. It sums it up well. You ok?"

"Fuck, don't worry about me. All the guys send their… well love I guess."


"Most of the older guys at the school are all talking about you and saying how you saved Hunter's life, it was really quite something. We had an assembly and everything, so the Headmaster could tell us what had happened about Hunter. The bleachers were filled and everyone clapped after. I think you'll get a warm welcome when you're back."

"Great, that's nice," I said, quietly.

"Want me to leave you alone?"

"No, stay."

Steven smiled. "Hey look, I know you've been through a lot today and we haven't exactly been on brotherly terms the last few days so I just wanted to say… well you know, we're cool right?"

"I almost thought you were going to apologise then," I replied, finding it hard not to smile.

"Me? Nah," he replied, I copped a smile from him.

"So uh, did you get all your gadgets back after we got grounded?"

"Oh yeah, I think Mum and Dad are in 'feeling sorry for us' mode."

"That's good. I uh… I meant what I said you know, I have missed you. You know like us getting along and…"

"Look about what happened, I erm, well i've had some time to think about it and I know I was half responsible for what we did, and I shouldn't have laid it all on you. I just think we were both in a weird place in our heads and kinda… well shit happens."

"Does it bother you?"

"What do you mean?"

"That it happened?"

"It did, I mean for a while. But I read up that most people experiment, maybe I was just one of the seventy three percent." Steven sniggered.

"Seventy three percent?"

Steven shrugged. "Just some article I read online which did a poll."

"I'm glad we're cool. Not having you as you because of what happened has really got me down."

"How are you feeling… it was bad yeah, I mean Dad said he did it right in front of you, you know like the whole neck thing?"

I heaved a sob back. "It was awful. I've never seen so much blood! When he did it it literally gushed out for a few seconds before I got my blazer on it. I dunno if it helped."

Steven pulled me into a hug.

"Try not to think about it, the image will fade. I remember when I saw a cricket ball at school smash into Gary Nevile's eye. It stayed with me for a while because it was gruesome, but as I say, the image will fade and your brain will deal with it."

"Yeah, I guess you're right,"

"Hmm, look at you," Steven said, still hugging me. "You've been working out, you seem more robust."

I chuckled. " Just my weights. Got a long way to go until I'm as big as you though."

"Well, I had a head start, I kind of started bigger! At least my bastard of a real father left me something good."

"Yeah," was all I said.

"You, uh… you gonna be ok? I mean if you want I can sleep in here. If you want company or to just not be alone."

"Dad said maybe I need to cut down the contact with you. Ahh shit that came out really wrong. I mean…"

"Hang on, what? You told DAD about what HAPPENED?" He squealed.

"Sorry you weren't even meant to ever find out. Look, he's cool with it. I was really confused and it was eating me up and I needed to tell someone."

"So of all the people you could have confided in, you chose Dad." Steven put his head in his hands and shook it. "Fucking hell."

"Steven, honestly he understands, we're not related, It's cool. He just said that…"

"He said what?"

"Look, can you calm down? I've got bigger things going on now I really need you to be here on my level Steven."

"Fine I'm calm, but fucking hell Puppy, how am I supposed to look him in the eye again?"

"Why is that an issue, you're straight, you like girls, you had a wobble, the fact it was with me makes no difference, you know he's totally cool with anyone's choices and lifestyles."

Steven sighed. "Fine, fine, just don't ever fucking bring it up if we are all together ok. I pray to God I never have to talk about it to him."

"Look, I said that he should not let you know that he knows, so he will never ask you about it. And as I said, he ain't fucking bothered it happened. He was actually more concerned that I had feelings for a straight guy and that I would firstly end up disappointed, and secondly it would make our family a little complicated. That's all he said, and then I think he laughed."

"He laughed?"

"Well yeah, i mean the whole situation and everything, I mean can you imagine how that would work if we were to hook up… I'm speaking hypothetically of course."

"Puppy, you really fuck my head sometimes you know that?"

"What are brothers for?"

"So this no contact, how does that work? Should I just shake your hand from now on?"

"Oh don't be childish. Look, yeah I would love some company tonight ok, I just don't think Dad would be keen if I said we were in the same room. I'm supposed to be working back my feelings for you, remember?" I said giggling.

"I can't help being the Alpha male you crave!"

"Steven's back!" I said.

"Hey, I'm glad I made you smile."

Eleven PM rolled round and I was still awake listening to a podcast about the war on drugs. I was really starting to educate myself about loads of things now I had the technology to do it. We never had the internet at Greenstone so all the knowledge I had was from either what we were taught in our three days a week class or what I saw on TV in my room. I craved all the information I could suck up and would spend hours just looking up random things. My brain was like a sponge and I could actually feel I was starting to fit into this big wide world and handle it. Of course there was some stuff I was really naive about or some topics that totally went over my head and had to be explained, but I didn't feel like an alien anymore and that gave me confidence.

I saw my door open with a soft creaking sound and Steven appeared. "Still awake then?"

"Yeah, you ok, did you want something?" I asked, not expecting this late visit.

"Just bored and wide awake, that's all."

"Wanna jump in? I asked, pausing my phone.

"Sure thing." Steven came over to my bed and I moved over to the left side a bit. "Hmm, nice and warm," he remarked, getting under the covers. "What you listening to?"

"Oh just a Podcast, what were you doing?"

"Watching some really bad movie on the Horror Channel, you should have seen how bad the acting was, I'm so surprised they even let that kinda crap on their channel."

"Take it you didn't finish it?"

"Nah, I turned it off, it was laughable."


"Yeah cool. So uh, what are your plans tomorrow? You have a few days off yeah? I take it you'll be up at the hospital to see Hunter?"

"Yeah, gonna wait for a call from Taylor and then he's gonna pick me up and we'll go."

"Will he be awake?"

"Not sure. The Doctor said to Taylor that he's on a lot of drugs so I don't know how that works with him being able to be awake or not."

"Poor guy, he must have some real shit going on to do that."

"Sometimes I think I'm cursed. I have this habit of pissing people off." I said, shaking my head.

"Yeah you do, but we all do, it's a teen thing Mum says. Apparently us guys fight more than we're friends and maybe that's true."

I looked at him with a downwards stare. "You? Actually taking some advice off Mum? Are you going soft in your old age?"

Steven punched me on the arm and we both laughed, before realising Mum and Dad were asleep in the next room so we both went quiet at the same time which then made us laugh more.

"Shhhh, you know she'll come in here and lecture us on getting quality sleep" I said to Steven watching as he clamped his hand on his mouth laughing so much.

"That's gonna bruise," Steven said, touching my arm where he'd hit it.

"Well it can go with the rest on my neck then eh?"

"Fuck me, you bruise easily, I don't seem to."

"I heard, the easier the bruise, the bigger the heart."

"That's bullshit!" Steven said, giggling again.

"Yeah probably." I turned over to face him and put my hand gently on his cheek and ran my thumb through his soft hair just above the ear. "Thanks," I whispered. "Thanks for being a great brother to me."

"Oh, shut the fuck up, you sap!"

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