A shadow passed over his gaunt face. His eyes filled with tears, and he slumped against me, despair washing over his features. I panicked 'You know what, forget I ever said anything, lets just get you warmed up.'
He looked up, 'Thanks' he whispered. His voice sounded hoarse. I tightened my grip around him, and was shocked to feel every single rib. When I looked at him, I noted that his clothes hung off him, at least two sizes too big. His eyes were a hazel colour, a pale brown with flecks of green, surrounded by long black lashes. His pale skin only highlighted the black bags under his eyes. This was a troubled man.
We finally reached my house, and throwing the door open, I helped him over to the sofa. He sat glancing round him, taking in his surroundings. He looked so vunerable. Noodles had taken it upon himself to guard Gerard, and was now sat next to him on the sofa, with his head in Gerards lap. 'Coffee?' I asked, pointing to the kitchen. He nodded eagerly. I set about turning on the coffee machine, cursing when I pressed the wrong button and flooded the side. Having finally persuaded the coffee machine that making coffee was actually better than tormenting me, I took the happy making liquid out to Gerard. 'I hope you don't mind, but I added some vanilla syrup to sweeten it a bit' He smiled, but the smile didn't reach his eyes. 'I was thinking of making risotto for dinner, is that okay with you?' This time it was a lopsided grin. Much better.
'Yes please' he croaked.
As I busied myself in the kitchen, it finally sunk in who was sitting in my living room. And I couldn't believe my luck. It was crazy. And it was happening to me! But I said I wouldn't go pyshco fan on him, so I have to stay calm.
Gerards point of view:
I'm sitting in Jo's living room, slowly thawing out, with the help of a giant dog called Noodles. Sipping at the scorching coffee she made me, I look around. The walls are a cream colour, the sofas and carpet are a warm chocolate brown. Family photos are everywhere. Theres a couple of a girl who looks just like Jo, only younger, and with frizzier hair, I guess its her sister. Theres a school photo of Jo, and it looks like the photographer took it when she was laughing, as the picture radiates happiness. She looks a lot different in it, as she has long hair, well past her shoulders, and her face looks rounder.
There is a lot of crashing coming from the kitchen, and at one point the other dog Fozzie wanders through to check on her. A wonderful smell wafts through, reminding me I have eaten for such a long time. My stomach seems to be collapsing in on itself, twisting and gurgling with hunger. She sets the table, and then comes into the living room and helps me up, guiding me to the dining room.
I dig into the steaming pile of risotto on the plate in front of me, ravenous. Jo watches me nervously, seeking approval. It tastes so good, and helps to fill me with warmth again. I shovel in mouthful after mouthful, not stopping to savour the taste. She giggled 'Do they starve you or something?' I shook my head, making a concious effort to slow down, and chew each mouthful. I look at her, she seems much younger in this light. My intial impression was that she was 18 or 19, but now, I wasn't so sure. 'How old are you?' I asked, curiousity getting the better of me. 'How old do you think I am?' she said, smirking.
'Uhh, like 17 or 18?'
She threw her head back and laughed, and for a moment, a halo of light surrounded her face. 'Nooooooo. You're way out. I'm 15.'
The shock must've been evident on my face, because she nearly fell off her chair laughing. Her happiness was infectious, and I found myself laughing too. It was good to chase away the shadows, even if it was for a short while. 'So where are your parents then?' I asked, gulping down the last of my risotto. 'You want some more?' She asked pointing at my plate. I nodded, and she grabbed my plate and headed out to the kitchen. 'They're in Newcastle. They were at some work party to do with my Dad, and the weather has meant that they haven't been able to make it back yet.' She came back in, and placed a plate with another mountain of steaming risotto in front of me. 'I have a younger sister too, but she's staying at a friends, 'coz my parents figured that it would be easier for me if I just had the dawgs and myself to care for.' She chuckled, patting Fozzie on the head.
She looked down, thinking something over, and looked back up, straight into my eyes. Her eyes had changed, they were a pale blue now. Her gaze made me feel like she was seeing straight into my soul. She took a deep breath. 'I know you don't want to talk about it, but you need to tell someone that you're safe, and not wandering the streets.' I knew what she was saying was true, but I wasn't ready to talk to them. Not yet. Not after what had been said and done. I felt the familiar tendrils of sorrow wrap themselves around me, zapping my energy, so that I couldn't even sit up straight. 'I'll talk to them if you want. Just give me the number.' I looked up at her gratefully. Its like she could read every emotion that ran through me, and knew how to counteract it. Who was this girl, who had saved me from an untimely demise, and welcomed me into her home?