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Slowly, the world came back into focus around Rei. It started by the odd warm feeling he felt around his body. His mother had taken the heater he had bought for himself, saying she couldn’t trust him not to burn their house down. He had watched as his mother sold it in order to buy herself more booze. The next thing that caught his attention was the sound of a vacuum cleaner running outside his bedroom door. His mother had stopped cleaning their apartment long ago, and it had fallen on Rei to make sure things around the house were in order. However, their vacuum had broken a few months prior and had never been replaced. And his bed, he wasn’t sure why his bed felt so soft and comfortable. His thin, almost sheet-like blanket, feeling as if it were heavy on his body, cocooning him in a thick warmth. And why did his head feel so cushioned, usually he used a rolled-up shirt to have some relief on his hard and worn out bed. This felt like he was laying on air, the feeling so soft and relaxing to the point it tried to lull him back to sleep.
All at once, Rei realized the reasons he felt this way. The night before flashed inside his head. His mother attacking him. Running away from his so called “home”. The flash of the knife as the group of men tried to assault him. The feeling of being so far beyond helpless, washing over him in waves. But then, the feeling of being safe soon replacing it as the mysterious man stepped from the shadows, his gun going off in a warning before having to find a target. Being cradled by the same figure, held in a protected embrace the likes of which he had never experienced. Those striking eyes looking at him to let him know he was going to be alright and actually believing he would be. The rest of the night was a blur to him.
His eyes gently peeled open, taking in the sight of the room around him. He imaged that this was what it was like to stay in a luxury hotel, though he had only witnessed those sights on commercials. Moving carefully, he sat up. His little body barely took any room in the unfamiliar queen-sized bed. The heavy comforter was striped with a dark navy and soft looking tan, the sheets below him reflecting the navy color. The room was clean, inviting, and felt like what Rei had once imagined a real home would feel like. He could feel the warm air of the vent blowing from above him, the force of the air, making the shear canopy curtain that adorned the four posts sway. Books of every size stuffed the bookcases that lined the entire length of the wall to the right side of the room, breaking only for the door that lead into what he believed was the closet. Rei’s fingers itched to feel the delicate spines of those novels, his small palms burning to feel the weight. Slowly, he brought his legs closer to him, shifting so that he could crawl to the edge of the bed to get a better view. His curiosity was derailed abruptly as the movement sent a sharp pain in his groin.
The pain brought tears to his soft green eyes. Rei moved to settle back against the pillows and pulled away the comforter that had given him so much warmth. His pale skin was a stark contrast to the dark navy sheets. The site though was no match for the two large white squares that were taped to his chest and groin. Although Rei had already gone through puberty, his voice had only barely dropped an octave and all the hair that most teenage boys bragged about getting never seemed to appear on his body. Only the smallest of tuffs grew in around his pelvis and, what most would consider laughable, balls. Yet as Rei’s eyes traveled over his body, even those things were gone, having been shaved away while he slept. He was looking at his body and the damage done to it when a knock came from across the room. The person seeking entrance didn’t wait for Rei to voice permission. With the knock still ringing through the room, a looming figure entered.
Rei could hear his own gasp, and jumped once again, this time ignoring the flair of pain as he hid underneath the blanket.
A gentle chuckle sounded, the voice suddenly familiar to Rei. “Looks like someone is finally awake. Good morning, little one.”
Rei heard as the thump of heavy footsteps crossed the room towards him. He lifted up the edge of the blanket and watched as the figure took his place in the chair Rei had spied earlier. The only thing Rei could see were the long legs of the unknown male, clad in what he could only imagine to be a well-fitting suit. The material was dark even against the colors of the room. The shoes that covered the stranger’s large feet seemed to have their own source of light radiating from their surface.
“Come on out of there, little one. I won’t attack. In fact, I won’t even leave this chair.” Rei could pick up the barest hint of an accent in the man’s voice. It wasn’t one he had heard before, and being from a large city, that was something rare. It took Rei a moment to judge whether or not the man across from him was telling the truth. His heart raced Bahçeşehir Escort causing adrenaline to flood his veins. ‘I’m pathetic’, Rei thought to himself. ‘No fucking wonder, I’m always like this.’ With a sigh of frustration, Rei crawled his way out from his sanctuary of fluff. The blanket settled around him like a cape and he couldn’t help but to give a soft inner giggle to, even in his annoyance. He was a superhero, standing up to the evil villains.
Yet as his eyes landed on his savior, all thought fled his mind. Surely, this being could not be mortal. Sitting in such a relaxed position, his long yet clearly strong leg rested with his ankle to his thigh. The figure watched him. His hair could only be described as midnight black. With the sunlight shining in from the window beside him, Rei could see more of this immortal man’s details. His arms were covered with the same fine grade material that his legs supported. A patterned tie hung around his neck and Rei caught himself for a fleeting moment wishing he were that tie. With a shake of his head, to dislodge his delusional fantasies, Rei continued his examination up to the man’s face. He could tell even from across the room this fallen god among normal men was breathtaking. His jaw was outlined with the trimmed facial hair. His nose held a slight crook that, unless someone were to examine him as Rei currently did, would be missed completely. At that point, Rei met the gentle giant’s eyes. Just as he had done looking into the man’s eyes for the first time, he let out a soft gasp. Rei had been sure that his fuzzy memories were just due to the attack and the trauma to his head. Looking at the man now, seeing those odd, but spectacular eyes, he realized that nothing could have made them up.
Rei noticed that the object of his examination was watching him closely. Slowly, a small crooked grin pulled at the man’s lips.
“Usually, I would say it was impolite to stare at someone as you have just done little one, but considering our current situation, I’ll allow it to slide this time.”
His voice sent shivers down Rei’s hunched- over spine.There was an ever-present predator’s growl to whatever the man said, even when he chuckled and wore a smile.
Rei refused to show weakness in front of this beautiful creature. He blanked out his expression, letting an air of feigned confidence wash over him which only resulted in the man’s smile widening.
“Who-” Rei cleared his throat, surprised how little it sounded compared to his companion’s. He tried again, this time forcing his voice to come out louder and stronger. “Who are you?”
With another light chuckle, the man proved he wasn’t completely made of marble and shrugged his shoulders. “I believe, little one, that question should be yours to answer first.”
Rei’s eyes glared at the man. “I’m… I’m Rei. Rei Richards.”
“Good boy, Rei. But once again, it’s not nice to glare. Consider that your final warning.”
A small whimper came past Rei’s tightly held lips. He felt his face relaxing. He wasn’t sure what the man meant by his final warning, but something deep inside Rei told him that he best heed what was said. This deep sensation had mixed with the odd tingle that had taken root at the man’s praise. He bit gently to his bottom lip.
“Now that is a better sight, Rei, thank you.” The man’s large hand came up, the long fingers curling into a fist so that he could rest his head on his knuckles. A shining light sparkled from his right hand, the sunlight from the partially opened window causing the ruby gem on his ring finger to come into view. For a moment, the gem drew Rei’s eyes away from the man’s enchanting face. It was apparent that this man was married, and for some reason, Rei hated that thought with a burning passion. He gently rubbed his lower stomach, wondering why it felt like a lead weight had taken root there.
“Rei, eyes back on me.” In an instant, Rei was pulled from his drowning thoughts, his eyes once again taking in the sight of the man before him. Softly, he spoke once more.
“Who are you? Please, tell me.”
The smile never seemed to leave this man’s lips. “You may call me Zander, little Rei.”
‘Zander…’ The name burned in his throat, the breath of the name lodged in place. Something at the back of Rei’s mind ticked that, causing him to recognize the name. His head ticked to the side, once again studying the man, searching for any clue as to why he knew the name.
Zander just sat back, doing his part as well to watch the little boy in front of him. He hadn’t been sure why he stopped his car the night before. The business meeting he had been going to was one that would have decided the fate of both his company and the one who wished to partner with him. The meet and greet with several other corporate heads from both sides had taken some work in order to schedule. He knew everything would go the way he needed it to, just as it always did for him. He had graduated from his university not only earlier Bahçeşehir Escort Bayan than most, but also at the top of his class. At twenty-five, he had been worth over five million dollars, with three businesses under his name. Now, at the age of thirty-five, his numbers reached more into the billions, and his name was a common centerpiece in all the business world. There was scarcely anything that he didn’t have at least his finger in.
Yet as they drove, Zander had been lost in thought staring out the window. An odd parked van caught his eye, the neon green color screaming out to him. His lipped had pulled up in a sneer, believing it to be junkies looking to get their next fix. He hated drug addicts with a passion that most would view as unhealthy, his memories tainted with the destruction that came with the addiction. With that, normally he would have allowed Martin to drive on. But something deep inside him urged him to stop. His hand actually shook when he opened his car door, not waiting for Martin to come around to the other side. It was even more bizarre for him to double back, telling Martin to hand over one of the guns he usually carried hidden from the public’s eye.
The first thing he saw when he walked into the construction area was the flash of white hair as the little naked body had fallen to the ground. His easy pace had turned into a jog across the open area, his blood burning as he watched them pin Rei to the ground. It was everything not to raise his gun and shoot at the scum for what they said to Rei, and discharging the firearm in the air only made his urge burn more as Rei screamed from being cut.
Zander had been seeing through a red haze, only barely controlling the rage that demanded to be freed. The last time Zander had lost control, he ended up spending a year in the juvenile detention center for putting one boy his age into a coma. The only reason he still wasn’t rotting behind bars was because the boy had eventually regained consciousness. Against all advice given to him by his lawyer and his family, the boy’s fear of Zander prompted him not to press charges. After that, Zander had spent many years learning not only to control his need to cause pain, but also to keep himself from lashing out.
Tonight however, it seemed all his learning and training had gone out the window. Seeing the stark redness that marred Rei’s pale little body, and the largely swollen and purpling cheek, Zander snapped. He hadn’t thought twice about shooting the one who approached him, and would have gladly shot another had they proved to have no common sense as well as no hearts. The only reason the four lived was because they had turned spineless.
Zander looked up to see Rei quivering, once again huddling back into his blanket as if to shield himself from the fury that turned Zander’s sharp features. Zander closed his eyes, taking a deep breath as he forced his body back into his relaxed state, refusing to allow his demon to terrify Rei any more than he already was.
He slowly opened his eyes, once again under control of his own mind. “It’s alright, little one. I’m not going to hurt you. I’m here to make sure no one ever hurts you again.”
Rei couldn’t help but let a little whine push past his lips. The view only moments before of Zander had scared him worse than his mother and the attack combined. This was a beast in human form. A monster with an angelic face. Despite his apprehension though, Rei found himself relaxing to the man’s words, his heart already trusting the spoken words even as his mind raced for all the reason he shouldn’t.
“Tell me about yourself, Rei. Why were you out so late at night?”
The question took him by surprise. Rei once again met the man’s multi-colored eyes, but this time with curiosity instead of fear. No one ever wanted to hear about Rei himself. He was used to being brushed off or out-right ignored. It took him a moment to form the careful words that pressed against his voice box.
“I um… I had just gone out for a walk around town. It was a pretty night last night.” Rei’s cheeks burned with shame at the lie. His mind raced, wondering why he felt these types of things when it came to this man. Rei was used to lying inconspicuously to other people in order to avoid their invasive probing. In school, he had been a loner who ate by himself and only ever spoke when answering a question from a teacher.
The smile that had danced so easily across Zander’s face dropped. “Rei, I do not take kindly to being lied to. The remnants of your clothing didn’t suggest a nightly stroll had been on your mind when you left your house. So, why don’t you try that again, hmm? Why were you out by yourself so late at night?”
Even posed as a question, Rei could hear the demanding tone. It compelled him to answer as honestly as he could.
“I ran away from home.” Slowly, he reached up to touch alongside his swollen cheek. He was surprised to feel even more gauze covering that side of his face. “I got Escort Bahçeşehir into a fight with Mother, so I had to leave until she calmed down.” His body shook, his voice going softer. “I was walking downtown, when I was pushed into an alleyway. The one they kept calling ‘Hoss’ grabbed me and put me in the van.” Tears had gathered in the corner of Rei’s eyes.
Last night, he had felt so helpless, more lost than he ever had in his entire life. He had wondered if he were going to die that night. He knew the men would have easily violated his unused body, and the thought had his stomach churning.
Zander saw the growing distress coming across Rei’s face. That protective instinct flared once more over the little boy he saw sitting before him, seeming as if the weight of the world were on his tiny shoulders. Moving so slowly that Rei would be able to catch the movement even as he broke down, Zander stood. Rei watched as he once again approached him like Rei were a small animal ready to bolt at any moment, the thought once again making him think of that little white fox in the store window. Seeing the animal in his mind’s-eye had his tears flowing freely. He realized as Zander approached him, how much his body ached to be held once again in those strong arms, to actually be conscious and to feel the strength of Zander’s body and warmth encircling him in a protective embrace.
What could only be described as a pathetic whimper came to his lips as his arm pushed free of the confines of the blanket. Keeping the material firmly in place around the rest of Rei’s little body, Zander bent at the side of the bed, pulling the weightless boy into his arms. Rei’s body seemed to melt and mold itself against Zander’s chest, his head resting gently on the strong yet comfortable shoulder, his little hand gripped hard to the pressed suit lapel. Seeing the black nails brought a small smile to Zander’s lips as he turned them to settle on the edge of the bed.
“What a brave boy you are, little Rei. I promise, nothing like that will ever happen to you again. Listen to me well, little one. I’m going to protect you from now on. You don’t have to be afraid anymore.”
Being this close, Rei could hear Zander’s accent clearer, the conviction in his voice making it more apparent. Rei’s tears soaked into the expensive material he laid against. Part of him rebelled against the thought of breaking down when a witness was present. Before, this meant someone would have something to use against him. He remembered one of the first times he had felt his mother’s strike. He had cried, begging for her to stop, promising her he would do better and repeating how sorry he was over and over again. To this day, he still wasn’t sure what he had done. He remembered the next round clearly. His screams had alerted the neighbors who called the police. Hearing the knock on the door, his mother had hidden him in the footlocker trunk in her bedroom closet. She had piled on blankets to cover the trunk and threatened him not to make a single sound. It was silent for a few moments until Rei heard the footsteps. He listened as the door opened, his mother’s voice ringing out. Rei barely recognize the woman’s voice, it was so light and airy mixed with what could have passed for genuine kindness.
“As you can see officer, there is no child here right now. My husband took our son out shopping a few hours ago. I have just been home cleaning and watching the television.”
The officer had thanked his mother and apologized for disturbing her. He listened to the quiet once more. It was moments later that he could hear his mother stomping back through the room and throwing open the closet door. She tore her way to the footlocker and almost ripped the lid from it’s hinges as she went after him.
“You fucking little prick!” Her real voice was back with a vengeance. She pulled Rei from the trunk by the hair, a sharp cry pushing from his lips. “Little bastard. Think you are gonna get me in trouble? Gonna ruin my life more than you already did?” She screamed at Rei, spit flying at his face. She had continuously slapped him before throwing him back in the trunk. “You stay there, and don’t even think about moving. I’ll let you out when I think you’ve learned your lesson.” The darkness swallowed Rei once again.
At the time, he had been five. After that, anytime Rei would make a sound from her assault, he would get locked inside the trunk for hours on end. The longest he had stayed in the trunk had been a full day. When she had released him, his body ached so badly from having laid in the same position. He had limped around for hours after that day, his legs refusing to straighten and accept his weight.
With this memory, the thought of him crying as he was, not only now, but the night before in front of Zander, terrified him. But Zander’s words had rung so clearly, weighing down with a truth that couldn’t be ignored. Rei begged silently, to any being that would listen, that he wouldn’t come to regret trusting this man.
He stayed curled in Zander’s arms until his tears dried on his face and stopped flowing from his eyes. Zander’s hand had taken up gently stroking Rei’s hair and back, offering him comfort as he sobbed. Even with his eyes now dry, his body remained limp against the broad chest, while that warm hand petted him.
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