We Can't Run From Fate

Jack had never given much thought to the mark on his wrist, the one that told him he had a soulmate out in the world. He was always more the one night stand than soulmate kinda guy. One thing he never expected though was to find his match in Alex Gaskarth, a twenty something single dad just trying to give the best life he can to his daughter.

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12. Chapter 11

Jack had no idea how long he’d been stood in front of Alex’s apartment building till someone let him in. He had made up some lie about being locked out and some kind old lady held the door open for him. Jack knew Alex wouldn’t have let him in if he called, he was going to have to confront everything face to face. He didn’t know whether he was asking for something that was going to rip him open, but he had to try. He’d tried carrying on without Alex and he hated it. He had to try and put things right.

Jack knocked on the door, his heart pounding in his chest and his breath held. There was shuffling on the other side then the door swung open. Alex was standing there, well standing may have been a bit of an overstatement. He was leaning heavily on the wall just to keep himself up right, he looked down right awful; his face pale, dark rings under his eyes, his hair matted and sweaty. Alex turned to cough harshly into his arm before speaking.

“Jack?” he croaked.

“Shit Alex, you look like death.”

“Grace was sick, think I caught it.” he said before coughing again, nearly bending double as he did.

“You think? Go sit down before you pass out.”

Alex didn’t reply and just shuffled back into his apartment, Jack followed behind him watching as Alex stumbled back to his couch and collapsed onto it.

“How long have you been like this?” Jack asked, thinking it only been a few days since he’d been Alex in the pharmacy and yeah he looked like he was coming down with something, not dying.

“I don’t know... A couple of days, started feeling really bad yesterday.” Alex replied.

Jack watched as Alex shivered his body full on shaking as he tried to pull a blanket around him. Jack bit his lip as he tried desperately to remember what his mother used to do when he was ill.

“Do you have a thermometer?” he asked.

“Bathroom.” Alex replied, before coughing again.

Under the sink Jack found what he supposed was a kids thermometer, all pink with Hello Kitty on it. Whatever it would have to do. He returned to Alex and found him barely conscious, his laboured breathing the only sign he was still awake.

“Alex? Alex, I need you to open your mouth for me.”

It took a moment but he did and Jack was able to put the thermometer under his tongue. Even before it bleeped Jack knew it would be bad, he could almost feel the heat rolling of him.

“103.7 fucking hell, Alex.”

No wonder Alex seemed so out of it and hadn’t even questioned Jack’s presence, he was boiling his brains out!

“’m okay...” he mumbled before launching into another coughing fit.     

“You are not fucking okay.” Jack said, rubbing Alex’s back through the long fit. He was barely able to breathe by the end of it and Jack was panicking.

Looking at Alex as he collapsed back against the couch, his chest heaving as he tried to breathe and the sweat on his skin; Alex needed a fucking hospital. Jack had never seen anyone so sick and it scared him and it was the only thing he could think to do.

“Alex, Alex, I’m going to take you to hospital.”

“No, no,” he shook his head.

“Alex, you’re really sick and you need a Doctor.” Jack tried to explain.

Alex just shook his head, he tried to push Jack away but he was too weak.

“Can’t leave Grace.” Alex mumbled.

Shit Grace... He hadn’t even thought about her.

“Is she asleep?” Jack asked.  

Alex nodded but he was coughing again, it sounded so painful Jack was sure his lungs were going to appear.

“Shh, shh, you’re okay.”

Jack tried to comfort the ill man, wrapping his arm around the shaking boy’s shoulders to try and calm him.

“I’m going to check on Grace, I’ll be right back.”

Jack felt guilty leaving Alex alone, he was so, so sick and seemed barely able to cope on his own. He didn’t understand why Alex couldn’t ask for help, he was obviously in need of some but yet there he was trying to do everything alone. Didn’t he realise he had people more than willing to help him?

Grace was fast asleep in her bed, Princess sheets pulled up to her chin and her dark hair spread across the pillow. What the hell was he going to do with her? Alex really needed a Doctor and he couldn’t do that carrying a four year old into Urgent Care.

“Alex, is Zack around?” Jack asked.

The boy shook his head and gave a weak cough, wincing at his raw throat.

“He’s away with his parents.” Alex rasped.

“Shit.”

He needed an idea and he needed one fast. Someone had to stay with Grace, he couldn’t leave on her own and someone had to take Alex to the hospital, hopefully before he passed out and by the looks of him that wouldn’t be long.

“Shit,” Jack said again as he took out his phone, deciding to call the only person he could think of.

“Jack, it’s been awhile! How are you doing?” asked the cheery voice of Rian Dawson.

“Ri, not the time. I need a huge favour.”

“You’re not drunk and locked out again are you?” Rian asked.

“No! I’m with Alex,  he’s really sick, like needing to go to the hospital sick but I can’t leave Grace. I need you to come and watch her.” Jack explained.

“You want me to watch a four year old? Jack I don’t...”

“Rian, I fucking need you to do this!”

Jack looked at Alex sat on the couch, he was as pale as snow with fever bright eyes and hair stuck to his burning forehead. His breathing sounded painful and the cough like something out of a zombie movie, he really needed help.

“Okay Jack, text me the address and I’ll be right there.”

“Thank you Rian.”

After they hung up Jack text over the address of Alex’s apartment, it wouldn’t take Rian more than ten minutes to drive there.

“Alex, my friend Rian is coming to watch Grace and I’m going to take you to Urgent Care, okay?”

“No.”

“Alexander Gaskarth, you need to go to hospital, you’re fever is really high and I don’t know what else to do!”

“Can’t leave....”

“I’m sorry Alex, I’m really sorry.”

Jack knew Alex was scared, he could see it in his glassy eyes but what other choice did he have?

Rian arrived a few minutes later; Jack explained about Grace and said she probably wouldn’t wake but if she did to say her dad would be back soon and that Jack was with him. Rian agreed and wished Jack luck as he carried a very sick Alex out to his car.

 

The time at the hospital felt like an eternity. Alex’s fever was spiking over 104 and had to straight away be put on an IV to rehydrate him, it turned out Alex had a bad case of bronchitis which could be treated with a series of antibiotics. It took just over two hours before Alex finally came around, they said with a fever as high as his it was highly likely he wouldn’t remember anything. Jack made sure he was right beside Alex as his eyes opened.

“Jack?”

Jack was shocked by the sound of his voice but more that Alex knew he was there.

“Yeah it’s me, how are you doing?”

“Not too bad,” he replied.

“Do you... Do you remember anything?” Jack asked.

Alex went to answer but coughed instead, pulling on the wires in his hand as he sat up. A nurse came in and helped him sit up here, moving his pillows so he was more comfortable and better able to breathe.

“I remember you... I remember your voice in my ear telling me it’d be okay but that’s all.” Alex said.

Jack smiled, that’s when he’d been carrying Alex into the hospital and he’d whispered that it would all be okay, his last words of comfort before Alex was taken from his arms.

“Well umm you’ve got bronchitis, your fever spiked above 104 and I was sure you were going to boil your brain. They’ve given you an IV to keep you hydrated but with some antibiotic you’ll be able to go home soon.” Jack said.

“Where’s Grace?” Alex asked.

“I uh... I left her with my friend Rian; I didn’t know what else to do...” Jack admitted.

“It’s okay.”

Alex reached his hand out to touch Jack’s but it was pulled back by the IV, Jack shuffled closer to him and took his hand. Finally feeling calm after the whole ordeal.

Alex was discharged about an hour later with enough drugs to open a small pharmacy. Jack drove him back to his apartment; the ride was quiet as Alex fell asleep in the passenger seat. Jack had had so much he’d been prepared to say when he’d knocked on Alex’s door and now it was all gone, lost as he panicked about the boy’s life.

Jack helped Alex back up the stairs, having to stop every so often as Alex’s body still shook with his coughs. When they reached Alex’s apartment they found both Rian and Grace curled up sleep on the couch.

“Ri, Rian.”

Jack shook his shoulder until his eyes snapped open.

“Jack?”

“Hey, we’re back.”

“Daddy?”

Grace woke and looked around for her dad.

“Hey baby girl.”

Alex picked up his daughter off Rian’s chest and held her tight to his chest.

“Missed you.” she mumbled into his shoulder.

“Missed you too, now how about we go back to bed? It’s really late.”

Jack hadn’t realised the time, it was nearly 4am but his body was so busy running on adrenaline that he didn’t even feel tired.

Alex took Grace back off to her bedroom leaving Jack and Rian alone.

“So he’s okay?” Rian asked.

“Bad case of bronchitis but he’ll be fine. How did you two get on?” Jack asked.

“Fine actually, she woke up about two hours ago and it took me awhile to calm her down and explain but after that she was fine, she kept asking for you.”

 

Alex tucked Grace back into her bed, under the Disney sheets and with all her favourite soft toys.

“Are you okay Daddy?” she asked.

“I’m fine baby, don’t worry about me.” he replied, leaning down to kiss her forehead.

“Daddy?” she asked sleepily.

“Yes Grace?”

“Is Jack going to stay?”

He smiled sadly and ran his hand through her dark hair.

“We’ll see.”

On returning to the living room Jack was talking to Rian, something about speeding.

“You must be Alex... I’m Rian, hi.”

He held out his hand to shake and Alex took it.

“Nice to meet you, I’m sorry for having to get you involved in all this. I’m very grateful and I hope Grace wasn’t too much trouble.”

“No she was wonderful, you have a lovely daughter.” Rian said.

Alex went to reply but coughed, falling back onto the couch as he used up the last of his energy.

“Well I’m going to leave you to rest, I hope to see you again sometime.” Rian said.

Alex just nodded, unable to get any words out with his coughing. Jack took Rian out into the hall and after a few words passed between the two he returned. He stood awkwardly at the edge of the room not really knowing what to do next.

“Jack... I need to ask you, why did you come here?”

He knew this question was coming, to be honest he was surprised it hadn’t come already.

“I umm... Well I came to talk to you. Since we broke up I’ve just missed you so much and I know what I did and how I acted was wrong and it’s all my fault we got screwed up in the first place. And I saw you the other day in the pharmacy with Grace and I don’t know... I guess I wanted to be part of that family again.”

Jack couldn’t look at Alex as he finished speaking, he didn’t want Alex to see the tears in his eyes. He nearly missed it, the word whispered so quietly but still very much there.

“Okay.”

“Okay?”

“Okay Jack, I admit I was wrong to ever push you away. In the last few hours alone you’ve shown who you truly are and well... I need you.”

Alex was crying too, tears running down his pale face but a hint of a smile on his lips.

“I need you too.”

Jack went over to Alex, pulling the ill boy onto his lap and holding his hot skin against his own. Alex cried against his shoulder, happy to be in Jack’s embrace once again. The only place he ever felt like he belonged. It was then their marks burnt again, not with fire like the first time but with such warmth that seemed to spread through their entire bodies.

Jack ended up staying the night, curled up on the couch with Alex cuddled beside him. It seemed Grace’s question was answered after all; Jack would be staying for some time to come.

 
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