|photo credit: Cheryl Ruffing|
"Well, he's a supportive one." Will scoffed, resuming his bloody task.
"What's that supposed to mean?" Alexis asked, too quickly and too loudly. She knew exactly what he meant, but wasn't about to admit that she had been abandoned by the one person she'd expected to understand.
"Look, I'm in no position to judge whatever sort of a relationship you two have, but one would assume that he might be a little more concerned about your welfare than that." Will talked as he carefully cleaned the wound, feeling her muscles tense each time he touched her, knowing it was more a reaction of hostility than pain.
"He trusts you." She grimaced, bracing herself against the sting of the wet rag and the soft movements of his fingers.
"Oh, that's a good one." Will laughed unpleasantly. "He has no reason to trust me. Though, to be fair, he has even less reason to trust you." The last words were black with bitterness.
"What I said back there, before he woke up—" Alexis began, rising quickly to her defense.
"Was a mistake, right? You don't need to explain yourself." Will cut her off quickly, pressing the rag a little too deep into the gash and making her cry out.
"Fine then, I won't." She hissed, becoming increasingly annoyed with his attitude and the sharp pain now throbbing through her shoulder.
"The cut is infected and your arm is broken. I'll need to clean this again tomorrow, and then I'll sew it up. For now, do not sleep on this or attempt to move it in any way." He said curtly, wrapping the limb in a strip of white cloth and loosely tying it across her neck. "We're done here, yes?"
"Of course, if you're going to be such an ass about it!" Alexis spat at him. She was sick and tired of being made to feel guilty.
Will stopped in his tracks, straightening. The last straw snapped. "I'm... The ass?" He whipped about and advanced until his breath and the heat of his anger was all she could feel. But she refused to fear him. "I'm the ass?"
"Yes," She returned, meeting his burning glare and pushing aside the thick waves of pain spreading farther and farther across her body. "You're the one who couldn't leave me alone. You simply had to meddle. To bring me here and try to hold me against my will, to drag out secrets that were meant to stay in the past, and now you hate me for them. You hate me for things you had no right to know about me, things that I tried to protect you from, and still you brought me back. Why? Is this all really just a way to feed your ego? You want to chain me up here and pet me like some pathetic animal to make you feel good about yourself?" Her voice shook, spread thin to the breaking point, cracking into a spider web of glass.
The words fell on Will like an avalanche, but the cold didn't reach his heart before he declared, "Your safety became my business when I saved your life, and I was not the one who pulled your sins out into the light. You were the one who refused your only chance of survival, your last chance of being accepted and respected like a human being, and for what? So that you could run and hide, skulking in the dirt, alone with your lies. You made yourself into the animal, not me!" His eyes glistened in the last shreds of sunset peeking through the cracks in the wall, and his voice dropped, weighed down by the defeat in his words as he looked at his lost cause, seeing her shrink further inside herself even as he spoke. She would never allow herself to be loved; he saw that now. He backed off, blinking at the ground.
"If I am so despicable, so horrid and weak in your eyes, then why did you save me? Why couldn't you just let me die?" Her voice broke, the spider web shattering into a million fragments, but she furiously blinked back the tears she could not let him see, and held her ground even as she felt it crumbling beneath her feet.
"You don't get to ask that question." Will whispered, his anger gone. He backed off, feeling exhausted and hollow, letting her have her empty victory. "Get some sleep. Please, just stay here for tonight." He begged now as he made his way out, all the while wanting nothing more than to take her in his arms, to hold her close and whisper the answer to the question in her ear until it made its way into her heart, until she dreamt about it and accepted it as truth. Instead, he turned away and shut the door.
Start at the beginning: Chapter 1 Part 1