I know it's late, but it's still Monday :)
Zack turned from the window and his thoughts as Maria came into the room, bringing sunlight with her. She had a way of making him smile, even on the worst of days. He asked himself for the fiftieth time why he hadn’t trusted her sooner about Rob’s abuse. He knew she suspected, but he’d refused to talk about it, blaming any visible bruises or pain on his clumsiness.
Her eyes drifted to his newly splinted arm, her smile only faltering for a fraction of a second. The doctor wouldn’t put a cast on it because he was concerned about the wound becoming infected in the damp environment a cast would create.
“You ready to go home?”
Zack’s heart constricted at the word home. He had no home. He lived at Rob’s for the past two years and now he would be invading Maria and Charlie’s house. How had his life been reduced to this?
He forced a smile on his lips. “Anywhere but here. The food is god awful.”
Maria laughed and it sounded strained. “We are just waiting on the paperwork then. Do you need help getting dressed?”
Zack looked down at the clothes next to him on the bed. She had brought them in with her. He shook his head. “No, I think I can handle it. Just give me a few minutes.”
She leaned down and kissed his unbruised cheek. “Alright. I’ll be just outside the door. Holler if you need help.”
He watched her leave the room, the door closing softly behind her and silence pressing around him. His gaze was drawn to the window again, but his thoughts slid to a face he really didn’t want to think about. However, instead of ice cold eyes, filled with rage and disgust, the ones he pictured were soft, full of concern, and a deep sorrow. Zack had barely survived two years with Rob. How had Ryan lasted eighteen? What was it that motivated him to get up everyday and face the world knowing that you were so close to one who bore such an evil soul?
Zack sighed and closed his eyes. He’d told Ryan not to return. Not to come into his life again. So why was it that Ryan was all he could think of?
Ryan’s first day as an Alameda police officer was fairly quiet. The calls they answered had been small petty things. Charlie drove them around town, showing Ryan what had changed in the years he’d been gone and explaining the procedures. Not many were different from the ones he followed in New York.
“You don’t like me very much, do you?” Ryan finally asked as they sat on the side of the main highway looking for speeders. He wasn’t completely naïve. He’d discovered that Charlie was married to Maria. Which meant he was friends with Zack and was sure to hate Rob as much as his wife.
“I don’t know you,” Charlie’s tone was one of boredom, but he’d seen the way the man tensed at his question.
“No, but you are close to Zack, right? That means you know my brother. And, as usual, I’m screwed because of association.” When Charlie didn’t answer him, not even looking his way, Ryan cursed. “I’m beginning to question my sanity of coming back here.”
“Why did you come back, Hayes?” Charlie snapped.
Before Ryan could answer, he was thankful a car sped past, going twenty miles over the speed limit. Charlie flipped on the lights and siren and pulled out. Ryan felt little relief at the interruption. He’d used the excuse of coming back home to be near his father, who was having some health issues. But there was more to it. He just wasn’t ready to admit it. Especially not to a man he barely knew.
Turning his attention to the car they were pulling over, Ryan called it in as they pulled to the shoulder of the road. He gave the location, tag number, and vehicle make. When he got out, Charlie was already approaching the driver’s side, his hand on the butt of his gun. He approached on the passenger’s side, his gaze going to the tinted windows of the backseat area. He forced his attention on the task ahead, ignoring the tension between him and his ‘partner’. Getting out on his own couldn’t come soon enough.