“That wasn’t very nice,” Jerry said the moment Tad had left the room. “He’s only trying to help.”
“I know, and I apologized, although he is kind of pretty in a masculine sort of way.”
“Roy,” Jerry said in warning.
“I know. I didn’t mean anything by that. Don’t worry I know my place.”
Roy smiled tightly. “Yeah, my place. On the streets, doing what I have to, to stay alive and keep you safe.”
“We keep each other safe. It’s what brothers do.”
Roy looked at him, his smile fading. “I’ve told you it doesn’t have to be this way. You’ve got your whole life ahead of you. It could be a good one if you’d only listen to reason. You—they love. It’s you they might have put out that missing person’s report on. It’s you they’d welcome home, coddle, take care of, and see that you had the best they could give you.”
“And I don’t want it. Not without you there too. What they did was wrong. My going back and acting as if nothing happened would only multiply that wrong. So like I’ve said a hundred times already that’s not happening. I can’t live with bigots and fear-mongers. You…you taught me that even if you didn’t know it.”
“When did you grow up to be such a good man?”
“I’m not sure I am. I know I’m not a man yet, not really. But being with you…” Jerry smiled, “it’s taught me a thing or two.”
“Yeah, like how to scrounge in a dumpster for supper and run for you life from some bastard who wants to beat you to a pulp because you dared to stand up to him.”
“I wasn’t going to let him do what he had planned. He’s a punk, a sick one.” Jerry shuddered.
Roy wrapped his arm around his brother’s shoulders. “We’re going to make it. Some how, some way, we’ll get off the streets.” He looked up when he heard a soft cough to see Tad standing in the doorway.
“If you want to take that shower now, Jerry…” Tad said.