I hope everyone had a safe and fun weekend. As promised, the next part to Second Chances.
Ryan waited two days before he attempted to see Zack. He spent his days getting his things settled in his new apartment. Thanks to his father, it had already been retained and ready for him once he arrived in town. All that it needed was his personal belongings, which wasn’t much. He’d left most of it back in New York to the person who was sub-letting his apartment there. It was apart of Ryan’s past. He was looking for a new start in his life and wasn’t sure he was doing such a good job of it so far.
The last two evenings, however, were spent camped out in the lobby of the floor Zack’s room was on. Maria didn’t know he was there, but Ryan watched everyone who came and went from the room, along with the time. Maria was the last to leave each night and he knew exactly what time she left.
As expected, she left ten minutes before visiting hours were over. His time would be limited at best and that’s if a nurse didn’t come in to disturb him. He waited a half a minute before moving toward Zack’s door, wanting to make sure Maria wouldn’t turn around and see him.
Ryan approached and looked through the small window. No one other than Zack was in the room. He slowly opened the door and slipped in. Zack lay in the hospital bed, left arm wrapped and lying across his chest, his right hand cradling it. His attention was to the window; unaware that Ryan was in the room. Ryan’s heart then jumped at the loud squeak the door made right before it closed.
“Maria,” Zack sighed. “I told you that I was fine.” Zack turned his head, his lips upturned with a smile. The smile instantly disappeared, fear replacing the mask of well-being he’d worn. “No.” The word barely audible, but Ryan could clearly hear the fright. “Please, Rob…no more,” his voice grew to be choked and became sobs as Zack made his body as small as possible.
“Zack.” Ryan approached him quickly, not wanting Zack’s cries to bring a passing nurse, but he kept his voice gentle, soft. “I’m not Rob. I’m Ryan.”
Ryan kneeled by the bed, his hand reaching out to Zack, but not touching. He knew he had to be gentle and as non-aggressive as possible. Looking into Zack’s fear riddled hazel eyes, Ryan wondered why it was so important he do this.
“Look at me, Zack. Really look at me.” Ryan spoke quietly, knowing that Zack’s full attention was on him. “Please, Zack. Look at me. See that I’m not him.”
Ryan waited, his outward appearance patient, but inside, he was a bundle of nerves. His time was running out. Would Zack see past the trauma his brother inflicted on him and see that he wasn’t Rob?
Zack’s eyes gazed at him. At first they were wide, but they did as Ryan pleaded. Zack looked at him. At first, his eyes flickered with dread, as if he was expecting a slap for looking, then the edges around his eyes smoothed.
“His brother.” It was almost a sigh in relief.
Ryan nodded. “Yes.” A quick smile passed over his lips.
“What…what do you want?” Though his body seemed to have relaxed slightly, he didn’t move from his curled, protective position. Weariness now flickering in his eyes.
“I just…” Ryan stumbled over his words. Now that he was here, what did he really want to say? What was so important that he was sneaking behind Maria’s back, against her warning to stay away, to say to Zack? “I’m not really sure what they told you. But I guess I just really wanted to see with my own eyes that you are healing okay.” His mouth was suddenly dry and his hands shook with nervousness. He had spoken to many victims in his line of work. It was part of the job. Why was it so nerve wracking now?
Zack’s body relaxed a little more, his legs straightening until they were only half way pulled to his chest. This made Ryan feel better about doing this.
“They are letting me go home in another couple of days.” Zack volunteered.
The tension in the room was thick. He knew Zack was uncomfortable with his presence and any time a nurse would come in and tell him to leave.
“That’s good.” Ryan swallowed hard before continuing. “I won’t even try to make excuses for what my brother did to you. It wasn’t right. But if you ever need someone to talk to. Someone who can relate to what he did to you, please don’t hesitate to call me.”
There, he’d said it. He’d offered help. Why was he still feeling as if that wasn’t enough? What more could he do? He’d saved Zack’s life, turned his twin in for attempted murder, and now offered someone to talk to.
“You think you can understand what I’ve been through?” Zack’s eyes suddenly blazed with anger, gone was the despondent look that had etched his bruised face. “You haven’t a clue the hell I’ve seen the past two years. The things he’s done to me.” His voice cracked and the anger quickly turned to grief. Tears flooded his eyes, only one sliding free.
Ryan took in the intense emotions Zack was showing, sensing that he’d withheld the flood of most of the emotional pains for some time. It made his chest tighten painfully as it threw him into his own childhood horrors.
Ryan rolled up the sleeve of his shirt. Across his bicep was a long white scar that trailed down his arm ending just below the elbow.
“I was fourteen when I got this. When Rob pushed me through our glass sliding door because I’d beat him at a game of air hockey. And this,” Ryan pulled down the collar of his shirt to show the long ragged scar above his left collarbone that was about three inches long. “This is the warning my brother gave me when we were sixteen and thought I was trying to steal his girlfriend.”
Ryan stood and pulled up his shirt. On his right side, just below the bottom of his ribs was a strange shaped scar. Old memories were invading his head. Memories he’d thought that he’d exorcized.
“I was seventeen when I wandered into his path of fury again. The day a girl dumped him just before prom because she’d seen him kissing one of the football players under some bleachers. So, yes, I understand the rage Rob carries in him and how it feels to be the brunt of that anger.” He pushed down his shirt, his heart racing. He hadn’t planned on showing Zack his scars or showing him a glimpse of his own personal hell. Now, he looked down at Zack and waited the verdict, still baffled as to why he cared what this man thought.