The footsteps get closer and closerthenZeke walks in to see Tyler standing in the far corner of the kitchen with a knife in his hand staring at the doorway, white as a ghost.
“Tyler hi, put that down.” Zeke says calmly as he walks towards Tyler who cowered further into the corner of the room.
“Did you call here?” Tyler asks, still holding the knife up weakly.
“No. Why?” Zeke frowns, he walks closer to Tyler, his hands up in a passive stance as he gets closer to the spooked guy, his actions were unpredictable at the best of times so Zeke didn’t know what to expect while he was wired with fear but was ready to disarm him if he attempted an attack.
“Someone called here. A moment ago.” Tyler whimpers, he was starting to trust Zeke, turning from tense with panic to trustingly letting his guard down as Zeke approached, he lowers the knife and looks away from Zeke as he shakes his head trying to hold back tears and exhaling heavily as though he’d been practically holding his breath waiting for it to be safe enough to breathe again.
“I’m guessing you answered? Tell me exactly what happened.” Zeke orders calmly as he reaches Tyler and takes the knife from him without any hesitation from Tyler. He puts the knife down and places hishands onTyler’s shoulders, looking into his eyes.
“He said ‘you’re fucking dead’.” Tyler’s voice faulters as tears starts filling his eyes. Tyler quickly wipes them away, not wanting to look weak like this.
“And then what?” Zeke asks gently putting his arm around Tyler to comfort him.
“Then he hung up.” Tyler shivers, Zeke continues to hold him close. “I shouldn’t have answered. I didn’t even think and now he knows where I am.” Tyler snaps, angry at himself of course but pushing Zeke off him and turning away coldly. “I’m an idiot. I’m such an idiot. If he finds me now it’s because I deserve it. I’ll just let him kill me.” Zeke stands back and watches Tyler’s angry outburst, knowing it was purely from a place of frustration, though he couldn’t ignore these constant signs that Tyler was at least having thoughts of wanting to die.
“It’s alright. I’m here now. Trust me if anyone comes looking for you, I’ll keep you safe. No one will hurt you.” Zeke assures him when Tyler turns back around to face him.
“Do you think it was him? Do you think he’ll come here?”
“I don’t know. That call may not have been meant for you.” Zeke shrugs as though that was perfectly fine.
“Who would call you and threaten you?” Tyler frownsand looks into his eyes for reassurance.
“Seriously? A lot of people Tyler. My job is dangerous, the man that killed your family isn’t working alone, his attacks are the unpredictable ones but he has a whole group of men that work with him to protect him. I have a group of people working against them. It’s like a war.” Zeke tells him.
“What?! Ok. You brought me here and told me you’d look after me, told me to stay here and said you’d keep me safe and now you’re saying you’re in the middle of a war?” Tyler stares at him in disbelief. “No, that’s. That’s too much. I’m not staying here when you have people calling and making death threats againstyou. At least on my own if I get killed it’ll be because I was found, not because I’m some collateral damage when someone is trying to kill you.” Zeke opens his mouth to reply but before he does his head turns quickly towards the hallway as he pulls a small device from his pocket that was buzzing. Zeke turns back to Tyler and puts his finger to his lips telling him to stay quiet, then he signals to Tyler to get behind him. A chill runs up Tyler’s spine as he hears a footstep in the hallway, Tyler freezes, shaking his head. Zeke’s attention goes to the mirrored ceiling allowing him to see up the hallway, he frowns at the person who’d entered his place and takes a step towards the hallway to confront their intruder while Tyler’s instinct was to get out of here. He curses himself for having not spent the day coming up with ways to hide or escape every single room in the house. There was a window he could probably fit through above the stove, all the larger windows in the kitchen had security screening on them. The moment Zeke was out of view, Tyler climbs up onto the stove and starts fiddling with the window lock.
“I know he’s here, where is he?” It was the same voice he’d heard on the phone, only he seemed less aggressive now.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.” Zeke replies, also unbelievably calm, but he did seem like the type to be that way in the face of danger. Tyler gets the window open and turns back only to check that he was not yet caught. With no one in the room to see, Tyler pulls himself up and wedges his elbows through the narrow window, using them to push his shoulders and body through, only then does he realize he’ll be falling head first when he gets a disproportionate amount of his body weight through. Regardless, he takes another breath and pushes with his palms against the wall beside the window to bring his hips through, immediately losing balance and toppling out the window, he puts his arms quickly tries to adjust his falling position, twisting to his side to take the brunt of the pain through his shoulder. He hits the hard ground and tries not to let out a single sound, deciding he doesn’t have time to worry about the pain right now as he’d be in clear view of the other kitchen window.
He gets up to his feet and looks at the window he’d come out through, no way of closing it from outside the house. Tyler could still hear Zeke’s voice, arguing with the intruder though he couldn’t quite make out what was being said, the voice was getting closer so Tyler rushes around the corner, standing against the house and taking a moment to assess where he was and what he could do now. The sound of a truck starting up grabs his attention and he peeks around the corner, the builders leaving one of houses in the cul-de-sac. Tyler sucks in a deep breath and gets down on his hands and knees, crawling to stay low and with any luck, out of view of the kitchen window he’d have to pass to get to the abandoned house on the next lot of land. He wanted to stop and listen as they were definitely in the kitchen now but between the adrenaline pumping through his body making the rush of blood run loudly through his ears, and the throbbing pain in his shoulder he could barely concentrate on what was being said, nor did he feel safe enough.
Not about to risk his life to eavesdrop on the conversation, Tyler makes it past the window and stands up again, keeping his body against the house as he continues making his way down towards the front. Considering his options carefully, Tyler decides his best chance of not drawing attention to himself now would be to walk along the footpath calmly, that way if anyone happened to look out thewindowhe’d seem like just a regular stranger in the area. Heart racing, he tries to act as casual as he could while he heads towards the house next door, slightly brisk in his steps, he keeps his head turned to the street so he wouldn’t be identified if he was seen from Zeke’s house. He gets to the house he’d been eyeing off and decides it’d look better if he walked between the houses, seemingly headed for the bushes behind it, he probably looked like he was sneaking off to deal drugs he thought to himself as he walked through between the houses, stopping at the back to work out how to get in, though being init’searly stages the house basically a shell of walls without windows and doors. Easy to get into which was lucky for now, but it’d be just as easy for someone else to get in too. Tyler finds himself a spot where he can see Zeke’s house entirely and sits down to watch.
Nothing happens for hours as Tyler watches Zeke’s house anxiously, too wired with fear to look away, but as the monotonous time ticks by at a painfully slow speed and the ache through his shoulder extends up his neck and causes a migraine it becomes harder and harder to keep his eyes open andeventuallyhe finds himself passing out.
“I will fucking kill you.” Tyler hears the voice in his head, this time there was a face with it. The man who said it looked young, had an evil smile andsomehowhe was terrifying. Tyler runs from the man he’d dreamt up and tries to hide himself behind a door. The door wouldn’t lock and the horrible man pulled the door open with ease. Tyler screamed and tried to hit his attacker but each punch was weak and the man simply grabbed him by the throat, squeezing and smiling as Tyler choked for breath.
Tyler gasps awake, clutching at his throat desperately, only to find he was alone and the pain in his throat was just the spreading pain from his shoulder moving up his neck. Tyler winces at the pain as he sits up to look over at Zeke’s place again, noticing that the lights were all off and the car that’d been parked outside was gone.
“Zeke.” Tyler mutters under his breath, wondering if he’d managed to fight off the intruder. He gets up and rubs his shoulder, heading out of his hiding place to take a closer look. As he swiftly makes his way back to Zeke’shousehe prepares himself for the worst, rapt with guilt for leaving Zeke on his own. He tries the door, realizing quickly that he was very unlikely to find a way back inside. He curses under his breath and turns to walk away, when the door opens, Zeke standing there looking at him confused while he held his phone to his ear.
“Shit.” Zeke breathes and lowers the phone, looking around Tyler, barely interested to see him at all and Tyler couldn’t help wondering if Zeke had actually cared that he had disappeared in the first place.
“I knew it. I knew I couldn’t trust you.” A familiar voice comes from the side of Zeke’s house, a shadowy figure emerging and walking towards Tyler. Instant panic floods Tyler’s thoughts and he runs into Zeke, pushing past him and running down the hallway.
“Wyatt, it’s not what you think.” Zeke steps forward.
“Not what I think? Another guy answering your phone, then coming to your door late at night is ‘not what I think’? Explain then.” Wyatt demands, Tyler stops and turns around, the realization was hitting him slowly. “Of all the times you’ve lied to me about where you were, of all the times I’ve accepted your secrecy, you can’t talk your way out of this. I don’t get, why you couldn’t just tell me you weren’t in love with me anymore. I would have rather let go and walk away with some dignity than end up being second best. It’s over.” Through a shattered tone, the statement hangs in the air and it feels like forever before Zeke reacts, even Tyler had walked back towards them to explain before Zeke stops him.
“Don’t get involved.” Zeke warns him quickly.
“It’s a bit late for that isn’t it?” Wyatt asks bitterly, glaring past Zeke at Tyler, Zeke steps in front of his line of sight, trying to stop him from seeing Tyler long enough to work out who he was.
“Wyatt I...” Zeke starts but it was clear Wyatt didn't care for whatever Zeke had to say.
“Word of warning, he’ll never choose you either. It’s always going to be about his job and never about you. I put up with it for years, never asking questions because I would never get an answer, and if you think he’ll treat you any differently, then good luck. To both of you.” Wyatt snaps, storming away while Zeke makes no effort to chase him or explain the misunderstanding, he simply steps back and closes then locks the door.
“Zeke, I’m so sorry.” Tyler apologizes quietly, not entirely sure what to make of what had just happened. “I had no idea, I-I thought that he was here to kill me.”
“You don’t need to apologize for anything.” Zeke replies calmly. “Why did you come back? Were you safer where ever you were hiding?” He asks.
“I thought you might be hurt or something.” Tyler answers quickly. “I saw the car was gone and came back to see if you were ok.” Zeke laughs mockingly at his answer.
“You think if I couldn’t stop someone hurting me, you would stand half a chance?” He shakes his head and walks away up the hallway, back towards his bedroom.
“I get the feeling I ended up causing the problem anyway.” Tyler sighs, standing still in the hallway, he didn’t know what he was meant to do, he hadn’t felt safe away from Zeke but right now he felt like he was just ruining his life. Zeke pauses in the doorway and looks over at Tyler with a fake smile, even after this he was trying to keep Tyler from feeling bad in any way.
“The problem was started a long time before you came into the picture. Maybe you were right about being collateral damage, people are better off not being acquainted with me. That’s why I let him just walk away so if you’re staying, you do need to know what kind of danger that puts you in. If you’re leaving, then good luck.”