Author's Note: Whoo. I've been feeling really special from all the reviews I've been getting.  =^_^=  Thanks everyone for reading! And, BB, you *are* the first person to express how annoying Zach comes across as, and I wouldn't kill you for speaking your mind. ^_^  As long as a review has something constructive to say for each criticism, I don't mind hearing negative things. [And BB seemed constructive in agreeing with Dylan and whatnot, and well, it was constructive to me!  XD]

Chapter 21 --------------------

"Hey, Kari."

"Yo. What's up, G?"

"Just calling to let you know that I'm on my way to Zach's house."

Triana was on the city bus, taking it to the corner that would allow her only a twenty minute walk to reach Zach's apartment complex. Her free hand was tucked into the bottom of her baggy, navy blue Nautica shirt and her jeans were stretch with hems going down the front of the legs; white sneakers covered her feet, which were crossed at the ankle. Her blue eyes gazed out of the window of the bus as it drove and she talked to Kari.

"Ugh, you're supposed to tell me that *after* you see him! You're supposed to call me and give me an update on him!"

"I'll call you again once I leave. Don't worry, it's not like my minutes are limited."

Triana was on a cell phone. So was Kari.

"How much longer 'till you get there?" Kari asked.

"This is my stop, then a twenty minute walk. It's not a problem. I'll be there before three-thirty and I should be on my way home by four," Triana said as she stood from her seat. She felt the bus come to a complete stop, then waited in line to get off the bus.

Once her feet were on the sidewalk, she headed east towards Zach's apartment complex. "I'll call you later, Kari," she said as she walked.

"Alright, later."

"Bye."

~*~

"You have to see Zach," He pleaded.

"No, Jett. There haven't been any reports, and if he was really screaming as loud as you say he was, someone would have called the police." Kevin's golden eyes never left the blue-tinted road that he was driving on.

Jett had insisted on coming with him while he ran some errands and Kevin, being the ever-tolerating guy he was, allowed him to do so. But now he was seriously regretting it. Jett wouldn't leave him alone about stopping by Zach's house. The blonde wanted him to see the marks on the boy and meet the supposed rapist known as Steven Moore.

"Kevin, you have to! You're the only one that can get him out of there! Do it as a favor to me! Please!!" The blonde grabbed the sleeve of Kevin's trench coat, tugging on it.

Kevin snatched his arm from Jett. "I said no, God damn it! Now leave it alone!" He glared at Jett through his blue sunglasses, then looked back to the road.

"…you're the only one that can help him…" Jett said, his voice sounding like he was on the verge of tears. "…and you won't…"

~*~

Triana sighed softly as she reached the apartment complex that was her destination. She adjusted her backpack slightly, having come straight from school, then walked past the empty guard house and community building.

Within five minutes, Triana was walking down the hall of Zach's floor. The carpet was an ugly wine color and the walls were off-white. She'd never *ever* liked the color scheme of buildings of Zach's complex. They seemed to resemble a hotel too much.

Heading to apartment number 972, she ran what she was going to say should certain people answer to the door. If Zach answered, she'd act like she always did: probably give him a hug and immediately ask where he'd been and why he wasn't in school.

If his mother answered the door, she would smile politely and ask if Zachary was home. Zach's mother would probably invite her in and offer her cookies and milk even if Zach wasn't home, but that was fine. Zach's mom made the best cookies around!

If Zach's step-father, Steve, answered the door, Triana would have to control herself and *not* tackle him to the ground and beat the shit out of him. She'd have to smile a painfully fake smile and ask in a sickeningly sweet voice if Zachary was home, to which she knew she'd be answered no.

 She sighed softly as she reached the door. She lifted her hand to knock when she heard a blood-curdling scream.

~*~

Kevin sighed softly as his cell phone vibrated against his hip. "Damn it, this better be good," He growled as he reached for his, golden eyes flashing from the road to the phone to the road again. His brow furrowed when he realized it was his department calling him. "What's the problem?" He asked when he answered.

"Sir, there's a domestic disturbance about two miles west from your destination," his secretary said to him.

Golden eyes narrowed. "Where?" he asked; his tone was short and serious.

"Sun Valley Apartments, apartment 972."

Kevin sighed softly and lowered his head for a moment, suddenly wishing he was elsewhere…mainly in André's arms, but anywhere beside were he was at the moment. "Alright," he said. "I'll check it out. Send backup." He hung up before he got a response from his secretary.

As he changed his destination, Jett noticed.

"Where are we going, Kevin?" Jett asked, giving his friend a confused look.

"Sun Valley Apartments. You know the place well?" The cop cocked an eyebrow to the blonde with a quick glance, then looked back to the road.

"…yeah…" Jett said hesitantly. "Why? What's the going on?"

"Which building is apartment number 972 in?"

"Building I. Kevin, that's Zach's apartment. What the hell is going on?" Jett demanded, his voice thick with worry and a near panic in his green eyes.

"My department just got a call reporting a domestic disturbance from there. I'm going to check it out." The cop's voice was soft, like he didn't want to tell the blonde that…which he didn't.

"Then slam your foot on the fucking gas and get us there. Zach's in trouble."

~*~

"I…I don't know what to do…"

"Well, what exactly happened?"

Dylan sighed and pulled his pillow over his head. "I…don't know about that either…"

André was at the penthouse, checking up on his little brother, who he hadn't spoken with for about five days or so. They were both in Dylan's room, the younger of the two laying down on the bed while the older sat on the edge.

André pulled the sleeves of Kevin's shirt over his hands, it being only slightly longer than he needed, and sighed. "You said he kissed you."

"He did."

"And why did he do it?"

"I haven't the slightest idea."

André rolled his eyes slightly and grabbed his brother's pillow, pulling it clear from his face so he could hear his voice. "You're mumbling. Why did Jett kiss you?"

"I said, 'I haven't the slightest idea.' " Dylan said, giving his brother a slightly irritated look.

Knowing gray eyes narrowed as they gazed at Dylan with mild amusement. "You're lying." André smirked slightly. "You enjoyed it, didn't you?"

Dylan turned a bright shade of red and quickly looked away from him, practically admitting his brother's accusations. He curled up slightly, wishing he could disappear.

"Ah-hah! So you *did* enjoy it! I told you, Dylan! I told you that guys were better kissers than girls. But did you believe me? No, of course not…you were too homophobic!" He poked Dylan's side, causing his brother to jump and give him a slight glare. "Do you not know why he did it because you enjoyed it so much you'd rather not ask questions?"

"Damn it, André!! Stop being right."

His older brother smirked. "It's not like I can help it. I just know you too damn well. But if you seriously want to know why, you have to pick apart the event itself. I wasn't there, so I don't know everything that happened. Only you can really figure this one out."

"He…apologized before he left…right after he kissed me…" Dylan said softly. It made him suddenly think that Jett regretted kissing him and that thought killed him. His fingertips absently found their way to his lips as his mind wandered to the feeling of Jett's lips against his.

"Was he apologizing for kissing you?" André asked, giving his brother a questioning look.

"I…I really don't know…Jesus, I hope not…" He looked to André with pleading eyes. "You know him pretty well. Would he apologize for kissing me? Would he regret something like that?"

André paused a moment, pondering this. "He might have been apologizing for kissing you, but if he was the one that instigated it, I doubt he'd regret it."

"Then why would he apologize?"

"He knows you're straight; he could have been apologizing for violating you." André's hand was to his chin in a thoughtful gesture and his gaze was aimed at the beige carpet of his little brother's room while he thought. "What did you say to him just before he kissed you?"

Dylan thought about this for a moment, flashing the events of the night before in his mind. He and Jett had been arguing about the past and about Zach. He'd told Jett off…

"I said to him, 'I was willing to do anything for you, Jett. You were my best friend.' He had been saying that we couldn't give him what he needed when we were kids and Michael and Daniel were hurting him. He said that we couldn't give him what he can give to Zach. 'But all of that has changed now because you betrayed our friendship for Zach,' I said." Dylan's eyes widened slightly as it all came together in his mind.

He'd basically told Jett that they weren't friends anymore; Zach had come into the picture and put too much distance between them. What Jett had given him was a goodbye kiss, understanding what Dylan had said and not fighting against it.

"Oh, my God…" Dylan put his hand over his mouth, his shocked gray eyes staring into space for a moment.

"What's the matter?" André asked, rather concerned.

"…he was telling me goodbye…" He suddenly felt the sting of tears.

"What do you mean, Dylan? He's planning on going somewhere? What's the deal?"

Dylan looked to his brother, his eyes looking lost. "…we aren't friends anymore, André …" He ran is hand through his hair as he looked away. "…we aren't friends…"

~*~

"So, he's upset and worried about Zach?"

"Of course he is. He loves him."

Mateo nodded slightly and leaned back against the couch with a soft sigh. His elbow was propped against the arm of the couch and his head rested in his hand. "Why am I not surprised?"

"Because you know him pretty well," Kari said, smiling to the Latino. "So what brings you to my humble abode?"

"James wanted me to return these for him, since I was in the area running errands." Mateo handed Kari a set of three DVD's.

She smiled as she took them from him. "It's only the best anime ever. Gravitation kicks ass! He liked them, right?"

"A little too much, I think. I have damn Japanese music burned into my brain," He said, placing his hands to his temples in an 'I'm getting a head ache' gesture. "Kimini aitai kitai…"

"Break Through!" She smiled.

"And what's worse is…" Mateo paused a moment, thinking to the lyrics James had all but forced him to learn. "Kiss shining, hitomi ni kuchizukete…"

"Toke dasu hanaribira mo jama ni naru." Kari laughed a bit, continuing the Japanese song. "It's only a matter of time before he discovers—"

"Spicy Marmalade jidai wa marude."

"Oh, so he *has* discovered it." Kari laughed some more, realizing that Mateo obviously hated the J-Pop she'd introduced James to.

"Yes," Mateo said with a slight nod. "Kari?" He asked.

"Yeah?"

"Have I ever told you how much I hate you?"

"No, Mateo, you haven't," She said, trying to stifle a laugh.

"Alright, I really hate you."

"I know you do." Kari flashed the Latino an anime smile and peace sign. "But think about it; you'll be trilingual in no time! Vindas!"

~*~

Kevin's car made its way into the apartment complex of Sun Valley Apartments. "Alright, Jett, where is it?"

"Make a right here," The blonde said, gesturing to an intersection of roads. "And it'll be the fourth building on your left." With that, he leaned back in his seat, his arms folded across his chest. His muscles were tense and his stomach was in knots.

Something was happening at Zach's apartment that was bad enough to make someone call the police. He was nauseous with worry and fear was caught in his throat. All he wanted to do was jump out of Kevin's car and bolt to Zach's apartment to burn off some of the energy he was harboring, then release some more energy beating the hell out of Steve, the person who he *knew* was hurting Zach.

Kevin's car came to a stop in front of the apartment building. He calmly got out of the car and brushed one of his blue streaks behind his ear, putting his blue tinted glasses on top of his head. Golden eyes were calm as they scanned the surrounding area, taking careful note of the building's details. He knew how much space was between the buildings, judged the height and width of the windows and how far he would fall should he jump out of one.

"What floor is he on, Jett?" The cop asked calmly.

The blonde had jumped out of the car the moment it was parked and had already made his way to the door. "The ninth. Let's go already! He's in trouble! We have to get to him!!"

"*We*? My friend, *we* aren't doing anything," Kevin gave Jett an irritated look, then walked to the door where he stood. "*I* am going to go upstairs and find out what the trouble is. *You* are going to stay in the car until my back up arrives. You need to tell them where I am."

Jett glared at Kevin. "You can't do that to me! You can't keep me from him!"

"Need I remind you that if you're upstairs when the shit hits the fan, you are a liability to my department? Aside from that, his parents still have a restraining order against you." Kevin sighed. "Should one of my officers find you up there, you could very well be arrested. You'll never see Zach again if that happens." He placed his hand on Jett's shoulder, an understanding look in his eyes. "I'll let you know should anything happen."

Hatred was burning in Jett's green eyes. "I hate you," He growled, then stalked off to the car, knowing his hands were tied once again concerning Zach.

Kevin shook his head slightly, then bolted into the building.

~*~

"Why aren't you friends anymore, Dylan?"

"I called it off…and I didn't even really realize it until now…" Dylan lowered his head, hating himself for what he'd done. He was sitting upright on the bed beside his brother. They were both still in his room.

André placed his hand on Dylan's shoulder. "Jett isn't one to hold grudges and he thinks the world of you. You guys have been friends since grade school and have a bond that's too strong to be broken over something that was said in the heat of the moment."

Dylan shrugged off his brother's hand and stood with his back to him. "What are you talking about? The bond we had wasn't strong at all. Zach came between us and—"

"No, Dylan. You *let* Zach come between you," André said, cutting his brother off. "Let's not be in denial here."

"I'm not in denial, André," Dylan growled. "Jett promised me he'd control himself, that he wouldn't fall for the damn kid and look what's happened!"

"You can't control who you fall in love with, Dylan." André's voice was quiet, his eyes stern as he gazed at his younger brother. "For the longest time you fought against the fact you've fallen in love with Jett and look where it's gotten you: in a relationship with someone you'd hate to hurt with the truth and loathing the one you love because you're mad with jealousy."

Dylan bit his lip slightly, his brother's words hitting him at the core. "…I'm not in love with Jett…" He said quietly.

"So you admit to being jealous of Zach?"

"Of course I'm jealous of Zach! The fucking kid has all of Jett's attention! He's supposedly my best friend and we swore to each other that a lover would never come between our friendship!" André could see the tears in his brother's eyes. "The bastard wouldn't even bat an eye if I were to drop dead. As long Zach is happy." Dylan spat the boy's name like a curse.

"You know that's not true."

"What are you talking about, André?! Of course it's true!" He looked away from André again. "…he doesn't give a damn…"

André rolled his eyes slightly. "You're so blind, Dylan. Jett's always had affection for you." He stood up and walked over to Dylan. "You were the first person to befriend him when he 'crossed the pond,' as he would say. You were the first person to accept him being attracted to men and you were the first man he was ever attracted to."

Dylan smirked bitterly. "I can believe everything but the last one."

"It's true," André said softly.

"It doesn't matter. Like I said before, I blew my friendship with him, so the past doesn't matter," Dylan spat.

"The past *does* matter, Dylan! It might be the one thing that salvages your friendship!"

~*~

Kevin waited in the elevator, impatiently tapping his foot as the red number slowly rose and indicated just how long it was taking him to go up.

'…would have been faster to take the stairs…' He thought with a scowl. His arms were folded across his chest as he began to pace about the small space of the elevator. His heart was pounding with anticipation and for the first time in his entire career, he was almost afraid.

He bit his lip slightly and ran a hand through his hair, tucking a blue streak of his bangs behind his ear as he took his glasses off his head and put them on. He then reached into his trench coat and let his hand brush against the cool metal of his gun. He knew he had it, but the reassurance that he was armed was comforting; however he had no idea why he was afraid.

Taking a deep breath, Kevin glanced up at the red digits of the elevator. 'Only two more floors to go…' He shook his head slightly. '…I hope the kid's alright…'

Ding!

The elevator doors open and Kevin didn't hesitate in bolting down the main hall. He came to a sudden stop when he saw Triana standing by one of the doors down a side hallway. "Triana?!"

"Kevin! Oh, my God! They won't open the door! Zach's screaming and they won't open the door!" She all but sobbed.

Kevin could tell the girl was panic-stricken and ran over to her. He placed his hands on her shoulders and locked gazes with her. "Triana, listen to me. I've called for back up. I need you to go downstairs and wait for them with Jett. When they arrive, send them up here and tell them I'm down a side hallway. Can you do that for me?"

Triana nodded, too upset to really say anything more than what was needed to get Kevin to Zach's apartment door. When Kevin took his hands from her shoulders, she bolted down the hall and to the stairs. There, she practically jumped flights to get to the ground floor fast enough.

Once Kevin was alone in the hall, he immediately snatched his gun from the shoulder holster in his trench coat. He pounded on the door with his free hand.

"Open up! This is the police!!"

~*~

Jett's head snapped up as soon as he saw something move at the main entrance to the building from the corner of his eye. His eyes widened when he saw Triana and ran up to her. "Tri!"

Triana stopped when she met Jett, panting softly from her fear and how fast she had cleared eight flights of stairs.

"Triana, what's happening to Zach?! Where the hell is he?! Did you see Kevin?!" The blonde demanded. His hands were on her shoulders, almost shaking her with his urgency.

She nodded slightly, and looked to Jett with tears in her eyes. "I don't know what's happening to Zach. He was screaming and they wouldn't open the door as I was pounding on it." Tears began to fall from her eyes. "I saw Kevin and he told me to stay here and wait for his back up."

Jett scowled and suddenly turned away from Triana to avoid taking his anger and frustration out on her. "GOD DAMN IT!" He yelled as he slammed his into the wall of the building. When Jett pulled his fist away, there was an impressive crack in the concrete.

"Jett, I'm scared," Triana said softly, wiping her tears.

"I know," He said quietly. When he had punched the wall, he'd released some of his pent-up energy and was now pacing. "…I am too…"

~*~

Kari sighed softly as she poured herself a cup of tea. As she carried the cup out into the living room and sat on the couch, her mind began to wander to the visitor that had left only a short while ago. She found it rather odd that Mateo would 'drop by' just to deliver her DVD's to her.

She knew something wasn't right the moment Mateo began asking about Jett. It seemed rather convenient for him to ask after the blonde while giving her the anime she'd let James borrow, especially since she knew there was no way in hell James could finish a thirteen episode anime *and* watch the two episode OVA in less than three days; James had an incredible libido and was living with one of the hottest Latino men in existence.

He didn't have the time to watch an entire anime in less than three days.

Kari was expecting a call from her rather outraged friend at why the beloved anime was back in her possession at any moment.

She sipped her tea in the silence of her living room as her mind worked out the puzzle that had been given to her. 'Why would Mateo ask after Jett? Has Jett been acting strangely around him?' She wondered. She shook her head.

"Jett's been acting strangely ever since he got out of prison. If that was the reason, Mateo would have been asking after him a long time ago."

Then why…?

Her eyes widened when she figured it out. She'd told Mateo that the reason Jett had been so worried and uptight and was acting downright weird was because he was worried about Zach. When she'd told him how much Jett cared about and loved the red-head, Mateo's eyes had changed…and it had made her uneasy.

"That bastard is up to something…" Kari growled. Her eyes narrowed as her anger got the best of her. "That mother fucking bastard is up to something."

~*~

Kevin glanced to his right and down hall. A small smile crossed his lips when he saw his reinforcements. It hadn't taken them long to reach him at all; he'd only been on the floor for less than five minutes.

"What's the situation, chief?" One of the two officers asked.

"Domestic disturbance. Screaming is coming from within the apartment and the residents aren't allowing entry," Kevin said. "We're kicking in the door." With that, Kevin raised his foot and slammed it into the wood with all the strength he could muster, his fellow officers soon helping him.

When the door was kicked in, it swung open and slammed into the wall hard enough for the knob to go through it. Kevin immediately had his gun at the ready and entered the house without the slightest hesitation, unlike what he should have done.

Inside the apartment, Zach was cowering on the floor, his step-father over him, beating him senseless. The man had a vacant look in his eyes and it was clear he'd gone completely mad…or was completely drunk. Zach lied helplessly beneath him, screaming for help each time he was struck after hearing the police's voice.

Fingernails tore at his skin, fists pelted him, and screams tore from his throat. Blood was soon spilled and ran down Zach's fair skin in streams. His vision began to blur, then began to black out.

Instantly, Kevin's gun was leveled with Steve's shoulder. "FREEZE OR I'll SHOOT!" He yelled as he and his men moved into the living room of the apartment.

When Steve wouldn't stop, Kevin didn't give him another warning and fired.

~*~

Jett froze when he heard the gun go off.

"Oh, my God…" Triana said, placing her hand over her mouth.

Before he realized what he was doing, Jett was in the building and bolting up the stairs. He'd heard a gun go off, one that was likely Kevin's, and fear had taken complete control of his body. Within moments, he was on the ninth floor, out of breath, but ran to Zach's apartment anyway.

The situation had been taken care of that quickly.

Jett walked into the apartment and paled at the scene before him.

Steven Moore was lying on the floor of the apartment, a bullet wound in his shoulder. His eyes were closed and he was obviously unconscious. One of the three officers in the room was kneeling beside him, holding a cloth to the wound to slow the bleeding.

The second officer in uniform was standing off to the side, speaking into his radio. Jett didn't hear all of what he was saying, but he did make out the words, "send an ambulance."

To both of those officers and what they were doing, Jett paid little attention. His green eyes soon fell on the third officer in the room, Kevin, who was kneeling near the far wall with his back to the door. Jett walked over to his friend, something inside him telling him that the cop was holding Zach…and things weren't good.

"Kevin…?" Jett asked softly.

Kevin looked over his shoulder to the blonde. "Jett…" His golden eyes told the blonde everything he needed to know. The cop was silent as he moved away from Zach, allowing the blonde to kneel beside the boy.

Zach was pulled into Jett's arms and gave the blonde a weak smile, feeling his consciousness slip from him. "You…you came…for me…"
"Of course I came for you. I've told you I care about you. I…I…love you." Jett couldn't believe this was happening. Zach was lying in his arms, a battered and bloody mess, he'd acted too late; he was powerless to do anything…

"I…love you, too…Jett…" Zach then closed his eyes in a wince and sobbed, the pain of his injuries hitting him like a freight train.

Jett pulled Zach closer to him, still holding him in his arms, and leaned against the nearby wall. There, he waited for the ambulance. He was 'shh'ing Zach, nuzzling him and kissing him, trying to calm him down as Kevin stood over them.

The cop gave Jett an apologetic look which the blonde returned with a glare. "This is your fault," Jett spat.

Kevin lowered his gaze, looking away. His guilt was eating him alive for what happened to the boy, and the fact that he could have prevented it had he only listened to Jett sooner only made it worse.

"Jett, it hurts…I…" Zach's voice dropped off as he lost consciousness.

Once Zach fell silent, Jett seemed to zone out. His eyes became empty, and he stared into space, only holding Zach close.

When the ambulance arrived, there were four paramedics all together.

Two of them literally had to pry Zach from Jett's hold. When Zach was taken from him, Jett was immediately on his feet and following them.

"Is he going to be alright? What are you doing to him? I'm going with him!" Jett's voice sounded lost and his eyes had a desperate look to them as he followed the two paramedics that had Zach. They moved the boy to a gurney and wheeled him off to the awaiting ambulance outside, completely ignoring the blonde. They had an oxygen mask on Zach and were checking his vitals while they took him away.

One of the other paramedics restrained Jett, keeping the blonde back as Zach left. Jett fought against him, wanting nothing more than to be with Zach. "Let me go! I have to be with him! LET ME GO!" The blonde was in a lost frenzy, panicked beyond belief. He shoved the paramedic off of him, then moved to bolt out the door.

Kevin grabbed Jett and slammed him against the wall, pinning him there. "Jett, KNOCK IT OFF!" Kevin locked gazes with Jett over his sunglasses. His forearm was against his friend's chest, and his voice was stern. "You can't go with him. You'd only get in the paramedics' way."

"You don't understand," Jett said, his voice cracking a bit. Kevin could see the tears in his eyes. "You have to let me be with him…you have to…"

The cop sighed softly, then released his friend. "Let this place calm down a bit," he said gesturing to the room they stood in, "and then we'll go to the hospital. Fair?"

Jett gave his friend a heartbroken look and became dead silent. He walked over to one of the walls and waited.

The other two paramedics were tending to Steve. They had put an oxygen mask on him and given him a few shots to try to prevent him from going into shock. They then put him on a gurney and wheeled him off as well.

Soon, Kevin, Jett and a few other officers were the only ones in the apartment.

Jett was leaning against the wall, his arms folded across his chest. His head was lowered, his gaze aimed at the bloodstain at his feet. He knew it was Zach's blood. And he knew it was Zach's blood that also covered him at the moment. Tremors began to wrack his body as the image of Zach going limp in his arms came to his mind.

"Jett?" Kevin asked, walking over to his friend. There was concern in his expression and his voice.

Heartbroken green eyes met guilty gold, and Kevin pulled Jett into a comforting embrace. The blonde was rather shocked, even through his grief knowing that Kevin wasn't one to openly show affection. After a moment's slight hesitation, Jett returned the embrace, resting his chin on Kevin's shoulder.

"Are you ready to go to the hospital?" Kevin asked, his voice soft so that only Jett would hear.

The blonde nodded and slowly backed away from his friend's embrace.

Kevin nodded. "I'll drive." He said, pulling the keys from his pocket and spinning them on his finger. He looked to the other officers in the room. "Call my cell should there be a breakthrough." With that, he walked to the door, leaving the apartment, Jett following him.

~*~

The sterility of the hospital was enough to make Kevin a bit nauseous. He'd never been a fan of hospitals. As soon as he and Jett had entered the building, his blonde friend had bolted to the front desk, asking after Zach.

The nurse was a platinum blonde with blues eyes. Her face was caked with make-up, and she chewed pink bubble gum while filing her nails; the stereotypical blonde.

"I'm looking for Zachary Ashton. Do you know where I can find him?" Jett asked, his voice urgent.

The nurse looked to Jett as if he were boring her. "Relation?" She asked, cocking an eyebrow to him.

"Um, no relation. I'm his boyfriend," Jett said, the statement easily rolling off his tongue.

This clearly surprised the nurse; her eyebrow rose a little more. She then looked away from Jett, turning her attention to her nails. "Family only," She said flatly. "Sorry."

"You don't understand! I have to—"

Kevin placed his hand on Jett's shoulder, silencing him. He then reached into his pocket and pulled out his badge, showing the nurse.  "I'm Detective Kevin Taylor, P.D. This is police business. Allow us to see the boy."

"Regardless," The nurse said, looking to Kevin's badge and clearly uninterested with it. "You wouldn't be able to see him if you were the president of the United States."

Kevin's blue eyes narrowed. "And why's that?" He was really getting sick of this bitch.

"He's in surgery," She said.

"Do you know when he'll be out? And where we can wait for him?" Jett asked desperately.

The nurse shook her head. "Don't know when he'll be out. They already have a room for him though," She said, chewing loudly.

"And which room is that?" Kevin growled, his eyes glaring daggers at the 'STUPID ASS BITCH!', as he would call her.

"972 on the ninth floor. The elevator's right over there," She said, pulling out a magazine with one hand and pointing down the hall with the other.

Jett nodded. "Thank you." Then he took off down the hall, running to the elevators.

"Hey, wait up!" Kevin called, chasing him.

Soon, they were, again, waiting for the elevator to reach their desired floor. Jett paced about the small area, clearly upset. Kevin could tell the blonde was trying his damnedest to keep control of himself. The cop just wished his friend would let go of the control and do what he had to in order to cope.

When the elevator 'ding'ed, signaling their arrival, Jett stood directly in front of the doors. When they opened, the blonde bolted down the hall, only glancing at signs on his way.

"Jett! He's still in surgery! You can slow down!" Kevin called, soon giving chase. The cop bolted down this corridor and that hallway, following Jett where ever he went. Then Jett suddenly stopped, causing Kevin to nearly slam into him.

"Room 972…" Kevin said softly, looking to the number on the door Jett was standing before.

Jett nodded slightly, then opened the door and walked in. As Kevin had assumed, the room was empty, painfully empty. The bed, the nightstand, the chairs, the walls; everything was empty! There wasn't even a TV!

Jett walked into the room and over to one of the two chairs, where he sat down. He propped his elbow on the arm of the chair and rested his head in his hand, his eyes soon going out of focus as he stared into space.

The scene in the apartment just played over and over in his mind. Zach's desperate screams still rang in his ears, and his despair was at an all-time high. Zach's blood was sticky against his chest, his shirt being covered in it. He couldn't lose Zach…the boy couldn't leave him…not after he admitted his love, not after everything they'd shared. Tears soon stung his eyes at the mere thought of Zach leaving him.

"Jett…" Kevin walked over and took a seat beside him. "Everything will be alright. It always works out in the end."

"The end was supposedly when you took Zach from me…nothing worked out then. Why should I believe it'll work out now?" Jett said, his voice bitter.

"We have some of the best doctors here, the best of the best. They'll take good care of him," Kevin said.

"Jesus, I hope so…" Jett then locked gazes with Kevin, the blonde's pain all too evident. "I don't know what I'll do if I lose him…"

Kevin placed his hand on Jett's shoulder, causing the blonde to wince somewhat. "Don't worry about that right now. We'll cross that bridge when we get to it."

"Kevin…I don't know what to do…"

And for the first time, Kevin realized how incredibly lost Jett seemed, and how scared his friend was. The blonde was still shaking from earlier, though not as violently; Kevin had seen him staring at the blood stain on the floor of the apartment. The officer's heart broke for his friend and the pain he was going through.

"Jett, just try to calm down somewhat. I'm here for you and so are Dylan, André and Mateo. Don't forget about Cathy and Stacey, 'cause they'll be there for you as well."

Jett shook his head, his eyes burning. "It isn't me who needs someone to be there for him! It's Zach. Zach needs me. Zach needs you, Dylan, André, Mateo, Cathy and Stacey to be there for him. I don't need it…Zach does…"

Kevin's hand rested on the side of Jett's face. "We'll be here for the both of you."

~*~

"Oh, my God, no…" Tears stung her eyes as her heart was suddenly in her throat. "Yes, you have to come pick me up. If you don't, I'll never forgive you!"

"Alright. We'll be there in about ten minutes."

"Does Triana know?" Kari asked Dylan.

"From what I hear, she was the one that made the call," he said, his voice crackling a bit from the static of using a cell phone in a car.

"Where is she?" Kari asked, her voice cracking from her overwhelming emotions.

"The cops took her home."

"Well, we're stopping there too. She's coming with us. She has to."

"Fine. Call her and tell her to be ready."

~*~

They had been there for about twenty minutes.

Jett sighed softly, his breath shaky with his emotions. He refused to let himself break down with Kevin dozing on his shoulder. He didn't want his friend to worry about him, but he did wish the cop would wake up.

Just then, the door opened and two nurses walked into the room, wheeling in a hospital bed. Jett jumped to his feet, causing Kevin to fall over and wake up.

The nurses placed the bed against the wall, and began hooking the patient up to machines, which they also brought with them. Seeing the needles and tubes hooked up to *his* Zach caused Jett's stomach to begin to churn.

Kevin sat up, brushing his hair from his face. He stood and moved to Jett's side. He glanced to the nurses through his blue tinted sunglasses, then looked to the boy in the hospital bed and sighed. "How did the surgery go?" The cop asked.

One of the nurses looked to them, to Kevin, more specifically. "You'll have to discuss it with the doctor."

"Well, where is he?" Kevin asked, moving his sunglasses to the top of his head

"*She* will be in to speak with you in a few moments. Right now she's writing up Zachary's charts," The nurse said. When the two nurses finished, they quietly left.

"My God…" Jett murmured. He walked over to the bed, carefully sitting on the edge of it.

Zach had been cleaned up; not a spot of blood could be found on him. However, it was plain as day that the boy had been beaten. He had bruises on his arms and face, and probably more on the rest of his body, though the hospital gown and blanket wouldn't allow Jett to see.

"Are you going to want to speak with the doctor when she comes?" Kevin asked, his voice soft.

Jett shook his head. "I…I can't leave him again…for any reason…"

Kevin nodded, understanding. "I'll speak with her, then let you know what's going on."

Jett nodded. "If there's anything else I want to know, I'll go to her myself. Thanks, Kevin."

Kevin then left the room to wait for the doctor in the hallway.

Once Jett knew he was alone with Zach, he immediately felt the sting of his tears. He gently placed his hand on the side of Zach's face and stroked the boy's cheek. "What have they done to you?" The blonde noticed the steady beeping of the heart monitor.

"Zach…please come back to me…please…" The warm trails of his tears were soon felt on his face. "I love you so much…don't leave me…" His voice was a soft and desperate whisper. He leaned forward and softly kissed Zach's lips. When he didn't get a response, which he had half-way been expecting, he pulled back and let some of his control slip.

Tears fell freely from his eyes, though he managed to keep himself quiet. He lied down beside Zach and carefully wrapped his arm around the boy, snuggling up to him. "Please come back to me…" He nuzzled the boy and kissed his cheek, then settled down somewhat. "…please…"

Author's Note: That's the end of Iron Hand. Anyone up for a second installment? =D