"Go away. Leave me alone. Please." Tyler begs and tries to move, his face contorting to a pained expression as he desperately tries to will his limbs into cooperating. His effort was so pitiful the man just stops where he was, less than a step away and nods at him. Tyler finally gets a good look at the stranger, a young guy with dark brown hair, almost black, with a fringe swept to the left just above his eyes. He looked about the same age as Tyler, though he guesses this man is older by a few years. He carried himself with such confidence and physically his body was more mature in build, maybe that’s what made him come across more intimidating. The man looks down at the shattered mirror on the floor, his gaze follows up to the medicine cabinet, he frowns at the sight of the door barely hanging by the hinges. He steps forward and pushes the broken door closed, the slow creak of the hinges interrupting the silence.
"Why did you break that open?" He asks, shifting his eyes back to Tyler who stays silent and looks away from him again, being defiant in the only way he possibly could with the rest of his body numb. "You aren't going to answer me are you?” The man sighs, giving Tyler an opportunity to respond before he speaks again. “Ok, I understand that you're afraid but you don't have to be, not of me. I'm not here to hurt you, alright? And I'm not going to force you to stay either but right now this is probably the safest place for you to be. You look starved, what can I get you to eat?" He smiles kindly at Tyler and puts a hand out to help him up.
"I don't believe you." Tyler replies, voice raspy, his mouth and throat feeling really dry.
"If you just give me the chance to explain...." He says and reaches for Tyler’s arm.
"DON’T TOUCH ME! LEAVE ME ALONE!" Tyler screams. Once again the man stops immediately, pulling back before crouching to be on Tyler’s level, trying to make eye-contact.
“Do you want to starve?” He questions jokingly.
“Well one way or another I will end up dead.” Tyler retorts bravely staring into the eyes of the man before him, his gaze was fierce but his captor’s eyes just looked back at him with gentleness.
“You do realize it can take like three weeks to actually starve to death, right? I mean the pills I understand trying but going a starvation method is one of the most strenuously drawn out ways to kill yourself and honestly, just a little too dramatic for my liking.” The man smiles. “Now, what can I get you to eat?”
“Why are you being nice to me?” Tyler asks, starting to wonder if this man was a master at deception or whether he’d really judged him wrong, caught between naively falling for his kindness and pushing away genuine help.
“Because right now you’re in a position where you need someone to take care of you.” The man again offers his hand to Tyler and the younger boy winces in pain as he lifts his heavy arm up, ready to take this offer and find out what was really going on. With a grin, the mysterious man lifts Tyler to his feet, holding the majority of his weight as he gages whether or not Tyler was going to be able to walk. After a rush of pins and needles, Tyler tries taking a step, moving was going to be a slow process like this. Tyler whines as his knees buckle and he collapses against the other man. “Ok, you’ll have to sleep this off.” The guy tells him, easily lifting him and placing him on the bed where the morning’s drama had started, taking time to make sure Tyler was lying comfortably. The door was open from the bedroom to the hallway now so Tyler mentally notes exactly where it is. He wanted to know all of his exits so as soon as he got a chance, he could escape. No more accidentally locking himself in rooms and trapping himself, as soon as this guy puts him down and turns his back, Tyler wanted to know exactly where he could get out. He silently curses himself for running towards the end of the bed this morning instead of the short distance to his right where he’d have been immediately released into the rest of the house.
"Please let me go." Tyler begs pathetically. “Stop messing with me, just let me go or kill me!”
“You're not going to get very far in this state kid. Maybe you shouldn't have swallowed all of my anti-depressants." The man shrugs.
"Is that what they were?" Tyler asks, his eyes desperately locked on the door as if it might disappear if he takes his eyes off it for even a second.
"What, you didn't even read the label?" His captor frowns.
"No. I didn't care what it was I just wanted it to kill me." Tyler replies and risks another confused look at the man beside him.
"Well I'm glad it didn't work. The last thing I needed was to find you dead in my bathroom. My name is Zeke by the way. You?"
"T-Tyler." He answers nervously, finding speech a little difficult, probably a side effect of his idiotic overdose attempt. "I think I’m going to pass out." Tyler sighs, the unconsciousness he'd fallen into after attempting to overdose had just left him so groggy and weak, along with the migraine he could no longer ignore his body begging for rest.
"I hope you feel better after a good sleep." Zeke smiles and walks out, turning the light off on the way but leaving the door open. "Call out if you need me for anything." He says then heads down the hallway, left in peace, Tyler takes a moment to reassess his situation, but his eyes were too heavy to keep open. The final thought before he falls to sleep, is that he’s being left on his own to mess with him, it certainly didn’t appear that he was being kept locked up or he wouldn’t have left the door open like that. Granted, he assumed he couldn’t walk, so maybe he didn’t think of him as that much of a threat at the moment.
Zeke stands in the doorway of the bedroom while his friend examines Tyler’s condition, checking his heartbeat and blood pressure, noting it down quickly.
“Thanks Cory. He told me he couldn’t walk and that he felt like he was going to pass out, and that he’d tried to overdose on my meds. I’ve been watching him, only left him for a couple of minutes to call you.” Zeke frowns and watches as Cory gets up and walks over to him.
“His reflexes are fine, vital signs are pretty normal too. Muscle numbness and aching is typical for an overdose, but he’s young so he should recover pretty fast.” Cory tells him as he tucks away his notepad.
“He didn’t even flinch, I would have woken up if someone was checking my blood pressure.” Zeke shakes his head, a little amused by the whole situation.
“Yeah well, you’ve never tried to overdose on anti-depressants before. Besides, you’d be surprised, I’ve taken your blood pressure while you were asleep a few times.” Cory tells him with a smile.
“Seriously? No way.”
“Oh yeah, I’ve taken blood samples and set up IV’s while you’ve slept too. You get home from jobs and just pass out, there’s no way I’m waiting until you wake up, to check if you’re health has been compromised.”
“Huh.” Zeke turns his attention back to the younger guy asleep on his bed. “Is he going to be alright? Anything else I should look out for?” Zeke asks anxiously looking back at the doctor beside him.
“He’ll be alright, don’t be surprised if he sleeps for quite a while and struggles to talk, slurred speech is a normal side effect. Also, make sure he has plenty of water, he’ll have a very dry mouth and maybe migraines, best not to give him any pain killers though, any kind of tablets while his body is recovering from this kind of shock could have a bad effect on him. He’ll probably be very sick, throwing up and that kind of thing too, if he can’t keep food and water down tomorrow, call me and I’ll try to get here to give him a drip, Obviously I can’t weigh him like this but he doesn’t look like he’s got much body fat to lose and especially while he’s still in danger he will need his energy so we’ll want to keep on top of his health, in-case things take a turn for the worst.” Cory explains.
“No he’s pretty light, nothing to him.” Zeke frowns as he thinks. “Anyway thanks for this. You, you won’t tell anyone about this right?” Zeke asks and rubs his forehead, he could feel a headache coming on just from the stressful last 24 hours.
“Zeke, how long have you known me? Of course I won’t tell anyone about him. But are you sure this is the right thing to be doing? I mean, if someone finds out then…”
“The last time we left a survivor victim to the police to protect, he was dead within a week, he’s safer here with me, I don’t care what our policy is. If you don’t tell anyone, then no one will find out.” Zeke cuts in.
“What about visitors? I know there’s someone that spends a lot of time here when you two aren’t working.” Cory reminds Zeke who just curses under his breath and tips his head back looking up at the ceiling.
“I’ll work it out, I’ll come up with something. I can’t think right now it’s been too much of a day, I’m exhausted.” Zeke sighs and puts his arm around Cory’s shoulder as he leads him to the front door. “Thanks for your help.” Zeke smiles at him.
“No worries, that’s what I’m here for. And if you do need me to check up again, then just give me a call and I’ll be right over.” Cory promises then pulls his keys out of his pocket along with his phone, checking and sighing. “Gotta get back.” He turns away, walking towards his car, Zeke stands at the door and watches Cory get in and drive away, then he closes and locks the door before returning to the bedroom. Tyler was still asleep so Zeke quietly walks into the bathroom, almost stepping on glass from the mirror.
“Great.” He sighs and trudges down the hallway to find a dustpan and brush.
After a few hours of resting, Tyler wakes up, realizing he’d rolled in his sleep. He curiously moves his limbs, testing that they worked before pulling back the sheets and getting up as quietly as he could. It seemed like he’d been out for a while because the sun was now on it’s way back down, licks of sunlight painting the walls orange and seemingly highlighting the door out of the bedroom. Tyler cringes at the pins and needles that shoots up his legs as he puts pressure on his feet, tentatively taking steps towards the doorway and glancing out around to see where to go next. The back door was in view at one end of the hallway, it could have been an easy escape and he could have been with the police by now. He wouldn’t make that mistake again. His legs were stinging with each step but he most definitely could press his weight on, and move them himself. As quietly as he could, he creeps out the door and takes a few deep breaths to calm his racing heart. Up the hall to where he could clearly hear Lee washing the dishes. He slips out and to the back door quickly, turning the doorknob and opening the door. He could escape, right now. The hope of freedom sent adrenaline rushing through his body and he steps outside, feeling the dry grass on his feet and the wind blowing over his face, and just as he is about to run the dizziness kicks in again and his head feels like it is burning up, he leans against the door frame for support but slides down it to the ground before his vision goes black again.
Tyler comes to, now in a dark room lit only by the light coming from the hallway through the open door, back on the bed like it was a cruel trick of DeJa'Vu. He sits up slowly and lets out a heavy sigh, rubbing his head. He was confused, disorientated and felt a migraine starting to throb behind his eyes, making him want to just shut them and go back to sleep, dehydration and a day without food starting to take its toll on his body. He screws his eyes closed, rubbing his temples with his thumbs.
“Welcome back.” Zeke’s voice shocks him and his eyes shoot open, he watches as Zeke walks out of the bathroom drying his hair. “How are you feeling?” Zeke asks kindly turning on just a lamp on the bedside table so as not to blind Tyler with light. "You must be hungry, right? It’d be more than 24 hours since you’ve eaten anything and I take it by your escape attempt, you’re able to move again. How about I get you some food so you’ve got a bit of energy and can stop passing out on me?” Zeke looks at him and smiles, he had a kind smile, the type that made Tyler want to trust him, but after everything that had happened, nothing felt real and trust seemed out of reach.
" I don’t understand this act. What do you want me for? " Tyler asks nervously, his mouth feeling oddly numb and his words coming out mumbled.
"There’s a lot you don’t understand. The first thing being that I'm not a killer..." Zeke starts explaining, keeping a distance from Tyler so he wouldn’t come across a threat, since he was clearly still doubting his safety.
"How can I know that? I get home and find someone killed my family, then wake up here!" Tyler yells, and winces at the pain in his head.
"I’m not here to mess with you and I’m definitely not here to kill you. Quite the opposite actually. It was too late for your family when I got there. I was only there to find the guy who did murder them, I've been trying to track him down for ages, you're just lucky I got to you before he did." Zeke replies. “What do you want to eat?" He asks.
"Nothing." Tyler replies shaking his head, too deeply concentrating on this new information to think about food. "You were looking for the man who killed my family?" He asks confused.
“Yes. Can you walk? I’d really like you to eat something. I know trauma can supress your urge to eat but I’ve heard your stomach while you’ve been sleeping, I know you're hungry." Zeke says calmly.
“No, my legs are too sore.” In the beginning he wasn’t faking his mobility issues, but a test of trust was behind him deciding to act like he was still too sore to walk. It made him appear vulnerable, so Zeke could either drop the nice act and try to attack him not expecting him to defend himself, or continue to show kindness, proving his version of events likely to be true. Again, leaving the door wide open, Zeke exits the room. Tyler waits only a moment before getting up, ignoring the rush of pins and needles again as he forces himself to try to escape a third time, this time getting to the door before Zeke appears back in the doorway with a bottle of water in his hands. Tyler hesitates as he and Zeke stand looking at one another, neither speaking or moving at all. Suddenly with a rush of adrenaline Tyler throws himself forward, pushing Zeke and making a run for the door, only to trip over with his legs still clumsily waking up.
“Look I realize you’re scared and you don’t trust me, I get that and I’m not judging you for this but please at least let me help you get some strength back. It’s in your best interests to eat something now. You’re not going to be able to do anything with an empty stomach and recovering from an overdose. Don’t make me keep watching you fall over.” Zeke sighs, walking over and offering Tyler a hand up. Tyler accepts it, not taking his eyes off Zeke as he gets up to his feet again. “Thank you.” Zeke puts Tyler’s arm around his shoulders and helps him walk, bearing most of his weight, down the hallway. Tyler notes each room as they pass it. Another bedroom, though it contained a desk and a few filing cabinets, a futon lounge opposite the desk, there was a lounge room that opened straight to the front room and front door of the house and across the hall from that was the kitchen. It was a simple house, not a lot of places to hide, but definitely not somewhere complicated enough to feel like he was trapped within its walls.
"How did you know he was there?" Tyler asks, his snappy attitude finally fading as he realizes he’d been wrong about this man, he’d wasted the day stubbornly assuming the worst and even attempted to take his life out of fear for someone who’d only wanted to take care of him.
"Because that's just what I do. I was tracking him with my colleague, and when we got to the house, we saw him walking around upstairs. We were planning how we were going to go about catching him when we saw you walk inside. In fact you walked right past our car, we were waiting for you to go past the house before we went in but unfortunately that was your house.” The stranger explains and bites his lip, wondering if he should continue explaining or if the starving boy would accept that as an answer. "Please let me feed you now." He sighs. Tyler nods and looks down as Zeke uses his foot to pull out one of the two chairs at the small round table, he sits Tyler on it then walks over to the fridge.
“So, you got him right? The guy who killed them?” Tyler asks anxiously, watching as Zeke sifted through the food options in the fridge.
“Not exactly. Once you were in there, our priority was to get you out alive. We assumed he didn’t know you were in the house so our only chance was to get you out before he could find you. It went from an arrest mission to a rescue and retrieval mission.” The man sighs.
"So there were three people following me around in my house?" Tyler asks, his eyes starting to go hazy and his head felt like it was burning, but he didn’t want to give in to the urge to pass out that his body was trying to insist on.
"Yes, we know what he is capable of, we were trying to keep you safe." He replies, turning and noticing the pained look on Tyler’s face. “You ok?”
"No. I am not but thanks for asking. Why did you cover my eyes if there was a murderer in my house?" Tyler grumbles.
"Because if I didn't you would have given away the entire thing. I couldn't let you make a sound and the easiest way to stop that was to cover your eyes and knock you out." Zeke answers.
"What happened to my sister?" Tyler asks nervously after a few moments of silence. The man looks up at him and bites his lip gently, he hesitates. "Was it bad?" Tyler whimpers, feeling a sudden wave of emotion hit him, goose bumps prickling his skin and his body goes completely cold.
"I couldn't let you see her." The man replies, lowering his voice in the hope that it would sound comforting. Tyler nods, not quite registering yet, the loss he had to accept. "I’m really sorry for your loss. You look like a really kind guy and you really didn't deserve this to happen to you and your family." Zeke says giving Tyler an apologetic look. Tyler looks down and crosses his arms, almost reflexively hugging himself for comfort as the loneliness of his family’s death sinks in.
"Yeah. Why did it happen to them?" Tyler asks, then looks back at Zeke who was making a sandwich.
"So far we haven’t found anything linking the murders, he’s a serial killer, it’s just a game to him." Zeke answers with a sigh and sits down at the table, passing Tyler the sandwich.
"You mean he had no reason. He just picked my house? Picked my family and killed them?" Tyler asks shocked. Zeke looks up at Tyler then back down at his food.
"Don't worry, you and your family did nothing wrong. Serial killers take lives without reason. You're safe here though, I promise." Zeke assures him. Tyler starts crying again and shakes his head, overwhelmed by it all, he covers his face and sobs, exhaustion and shock combined with the distress finally getting too much for him again.
"He can't do it to anyone else now right? You guys stopped him didn't you?" Tyler asks through his tears. Zeke doesn't reply, he just stays silent, staring at his food. “He got away? Because of me?” Tyler’s shoulders sink and he hangs his head, tears flowing again.
“You were in the wrong place at the wrong time, it was not your fault.” Zeke assures him though it brought no comfort.
“If you had let me die, would you have caught him?” Tyler asks completely dishevelled.
“No.” Zeke shakes his head. “Because we never would have let him kill anyone when there was the chance of us getting them out. There will be other opportunities to get him, there was only one to save you.”
“At the cost of his next victim. You should have let me die. I’m not hungry.” Tyler gets up and runs back to the bathroom, ignoring the way his muscles ached and his head throbbed. He grabs onto the basin and looks up at the exposed shelves of the medicine cabinet, cleared and empty. Tyler turns and pulls the shower curtain back, finding a razor which he hadn’t thought of on his first attempt in the bathroom that morning. Zeke snatches it from his hand and bear hugs him to stop him from trying to get the razor back while he screams and begs to be dead. Zeke carefully lowers them to the ground and to his surprise Tyler doesn’t fight. He just allows himself to be restrained in Zeke’s arms, repeating again and again ‘you should have let me die.’