I know I've neglected this blog for about a week now and I'm sorry. Between edits, my twins' birtday and other non-writing related things, it's kept me from the net longer than I wanted. But now I'm catching up, along with having the next installation to Second Chances. Sorry about the wait.
Ryan hesitated when a knock sounded at his door. The last person who knocked had left extremely upset. That was the day before. However, he had to admit he was craving some human interaction. He just wasn’t sure if he wanted the kind that stood on the other side. He opened the door anyway.
Ryan sighed, leaning on the door. He didn’t have the patience for a lecture. “What do you want Mulligan?”
Charlie glanced around. “Can I come in?”
Ryan shrugged his one good shoulder. “I’m sure you’ll just keep bugging me if I don’t.” He stepped out of the way to let his visitor enter. His gaze narrowed on Charlie. He so didn’t want a lecture.
Charlie looked around, as if delaying the purpose of his visit.
“How’s Zack?” Ryan couldn’t prevent the question from being voiced. He’d worried all evening for the other man though he knew it best to just forget Zack all together.
“He was pretty upset. Last night he let Maria talk him into seeing a therapist. That’s improvement.”
Ryan nodded, leaning against the counter. He forced himself not to fidget, outwardly showing leisure casualness, while his insides were a tight, churning knot. He watched Charlie shift his weight from foot to foot. There was more.
“Just spit it out. Why did you come here?”
Charlie rubbed at the back of his neck and let out a long exhale. “Zack, Maria, and I sat down last night. Got a lot of things off our chests.” He met Ryan’s eyes for the first time since stepping into the apartment. “First, I have to say thank you for calling yesterday. We knew Zack was in a bad way, we just didn’t know how to break through to him. Whatever you two talked about…” he paused, his lips forming a thin line. Ryan had to wonder what exactly Zack told him happened between them.
“Well, it was like unlocking a flood gate. He opened up to us for the first time since this all went down.”
“Good. He’ll need good friends and steady support as he gets through his trauma.” Lord knows he’d not had it…until Jerry.
Charlie nodded, almost distractedly. “You were another subject we broached with Zack.”
Ryan froze, his body stiffened. “And?”
“I personally think you and Zack need to stay as far away from each other as possible.”
So did Ryan, but on its own accord a protest started, only to be interrupted.
“But I was outnumbered. Christ, for some reason Zack wants…” Charlie ran his hand through his hair. Was it agitation? Anger? Hopelessness? “Hell, he actually feels like he should get to know you. Something about a connection. An understanding. He didn’t really make sense to me, but Maria agreed with him.”
This completely shocked Ryan. After what had happened yesterday, the kiss, the fear he’d invoked in Zack. Surely, the last thing he wanted was to be anywhere near him.
“So Maria wants you to come to dinner next week.”
“Dinner? Look Mulligan, I don’t know about this. After all that’s happened, I’m not sure if this is such a good idea.”
“Tell me about it,” Charlie murmured. “But they were both insistent. Zack starts seeing the therapist tomorrow. He’ll have a few sessions in before you come over and you should be feeling better.” He nodded to his wounded shoulder.
Ryan shook his head. “I don’t know.” The feel of Zack’s body against his had haunted his sleep. The taste of the other man had haunted his wake. He needed distance, not dates.
“Take some time and think about it. Maria decided on next Thursday. Seven o’clock. That leaves you a little over a week.” Charlie turned and started for the door.
Charlie opened the door, but stopped, looking over his shoulder.
“You’re really against this, aren’t you?”
His eyes closed as if in pain, his brows drawing together. “Yeah, I am.” He turned and left, leaving Ryan confused, yet a little excited at the prospect of seeing Zack again.