Happy Monday everyone :)
Zack starred at each and every scar Ryan was showing him. Unconsciously, it cemented the fact that this was really Ryan and not Rob trying to con him. Rob’s body was smooth of such injuries and threw a hissy fit if he so much as got a paper cut. This man knew the nightmare of Rob. Had lived with the monster day after day, though Zack doubted it was escalated to the point of near murder. They were still youths after all.
Shifting his gaze to Ryan’s eyes, Zack saw compassion behind the unshed tears. An unfamiliar emotion in such familiar eyes. Possessiveness, contempt, anger, lust…yes, those all shined through without hesitation, but never compassion or even regret.
Zack uncurled his body, letting out a long sigh while his head fell back against the pillows propping him up. His body relaxed, fear smoothing over, but still he was hesitant to let his guard down. Yes, this man had saved his life, but Zack didn’t know Ryan. The monster could easily be hiding inside this man as well hidden as it did in his brother.
“Why are you still here, Ryan? You’ve seen that I’ll live. You’ve convinced me that you understand some of what I’ve gone through. What more do you want?”
Ryan stepped back from the bed and sat gently in the chair Maria had left near the bed. The man looked hesitant now. Rob would have never let any uncertainty show. He wouldn’t have ‘lowered’ himself to showing any sort of weakness. Zack realized he was getting a glimpse at the differences between the identical men.
“I want to help you. I want to make sure that you, I, or anyone else won’t ever have to have Rob hurt them again.”
“How?” Even though Rob was in jail, that didn’t mean he’d stay in there.
“Did Rob ever tell you anything about me?”
Zack shook his head. “He only mentioned that he had a brother a long time ago. That you’d had a falling out and never saw each other.”
Ryan huffed. “Sounds like him.” He stood and paced at the end of Zack’s bed. “I’m a cop, Zack. Perhaps it will help me get Rob locked up a long time for what he did to you.”
Zack closed his eyes, ready for all of this to be over. “You do what you have to do. I just want Rob out of my life and start new.”
Ryan stopped his pacing, looking at Zack. “I’m sorry, Zack. If I’d just…”
“Yeah, look…I’m really tired and want to get some sleep.” Zack cut him off. He didn’t want to hear the ‘Ifs’ of the situation. If he’d left a few minutes earlier, Rob wouldn’t have seen him. If he’d never taken Rob up on the first date, then he wouldn’t have moved in. If he’d never met Rob…Well, none of the last two hellish years would have happened, would it?
But Zack didn’t say that. What was the use? He knew he couldn’t change the past. Only try to forget and move on.
Ryan nodded and took a step toward the door. “If there’s anything you need, Zack. Anything at all, Maria knows where to find me.” He reached for the door and started to pull.
He stopped and turned. “Yeah?”
“Thanks,” Zack swallowed the lump in his throat. “I mean for saving my life.”
The smile Ryan gave was tight. “No problem.”
Zack’s glanced down at his arm. “When they release me, I’m going to Maria’s. She and her husband have an extra room.” He didn’t know why he was telling Ryan this; it just fell from his mouth. “I need time. Time to heal. Time to think.” He met Ryan’s eyes. “Don’t come back here, Ryan. Don’t come looking for me. When I’m needed for court, I’ll be there, but until then…I don’t…I can’t…” His words choked. Tears were welling in his eyes again. How could he stand seeing the face of the man who’d nearly killed him more than he had to?
“I understand,” Ryan said softly.
Zack watched him leave the room without another word; his shoulders slumped as if they carried the weight of the world. Or maybe just the weight of what his twin brother had done in his life. Tears streaked down his cheeks. Why was his chest suddenly tight? Why did it feel wrong to let Ryan leave with such a burden to deal with alone? Zack knew he had Maria and even her husband Charlie to help him through this. Who did Ryan have? Who would help him clean up the mess Rob left? Why should Zack care?