Title: THE BODYGUARD
Warnings: Language, Death, Crime
Chapter Overview: Link
About the Story: After the death of their parents, Taylor and Zac went their own way in life. Taylor became a superstar and never thought his chosen profession would bring danger into his life. Blade (Zac) buried the past and lived his life contently in the dark and dirty world as a pimp. Unexpected circumstances bring them together after almost a decade apart. How will they overcome the shadows of the past and move forward?
Special thanks: to itztigress3 for the great help! ♡
Authors Notes: Update Chapter 61! Chapter 62 will be posted in June. Enjoy ♡
previous Chapter 60
After Officer Wright was gone Zachary walked into the room and I felt my heart pounding faster in an instant. It felt like my chest was going to explode at any moment. Despite the shock about Natalie’s lie and the disappointment in the lack of progress in finding the stalker the meeting had gone without incidents. However, with Andrew and Zac in the same room I felt like the air was thinning, as if two ticking time bombs were present.
I couldn't say what worried me more, that the situation would escalate between these two or between myself and Natalie's family. Yet, before I was ready to say anything Andrew stood up, tossed the keys I gave him last night on the table, took the video tape marked 'copy' out of the player and left the room. The irritated, disparaging way he did that reminded me of how Zac gave the video to him when he said he needed a copy.
I gave Skye a questioning look but he shook his head, apparently it wasn't the right moment to ask. I knew that Andrew wasn't thrilled about my brother directly from the start but somehow I had a feeling that there was more...
Yet, perhaps it was better that Andrew left because it wasn’t the right time or place to settle their differences. He and Zac didn't get along and there was not enough air in the room for these two.
"Who is this?" Matt raised his head, looking questioning to Zachary who stood there with a black long sleeve shirt on which hid the bandage on his upper arm.
But instead of being glad that he actually wore somewhat appropriate clothes and had tied his unkempt mane into a ponytail, I felt like a rapist. Because I wanted him to wear something else, to hide his injuries and to pretend to be someone he is not. It was as if he was not the real Zac who would have stood there in his usual 'I have no fucks to give' style. I knew that it could make Zac seriously ill if he felt like I tried to brainwash him. I was responsible for that because I had tried to change him instead of accept him.
"This is... uhm..." I began to stutter and felt the awkwardness coming back which seemed to want to take control of my whole body. Now it was my turn to deal with it. Shivering I lowered my eyes, not knowing if I could go through this. The moment had come.
How do I explain this? There is no way to chicken out Taylor, you promised it, so now fucking do it!
"This is my younger brother, Zachary. I am sure you remember that I searched for him. Well, Skye managed to reconnect us…"
Breath Taylor, breath!
"I.... I hired him as my... new bodyguard."
I couldn't help it. My sensitivity suddenly rushed over me like a wave. I hung my head because I wanted to disappear, I didn’t want my face to be seen by anyone. I felt so ashamed, so I cupped my face with my hands to cover the redness around my cheeks. I didn't know what else I could do to hide my feeling of shame and fear of this dreaded moment even though it surely made it even more evident. I just didn't want to be seen by anyone in this awkward moment. I literally wished to disappear or to become invisible. I was so worried that they would all laugh about me that I couldn't meet anyone's gaze. I couldn't even imagine how red I must have looked. My rosy cheeks were continuously heating up these days.
Whenever I get embarrassed and am around someone I like, I turn really red. It's painfully obvious and unfortunately the realization that I'm blushing just makes me mortified, and so I blush even more. I blushed so much this time, I probably was purple.
Natalie's family stared at me taken aback. I had no idea what would happen after this announcement...
After all I was supposed to be capable of sticking up for myself. I could almost hear them calling me the guilty one. It was just too much for me. I began to shake slightly in a way I couldn't control because of nervousity.
Skye looked at me and I could tell he knew how hard this was for me, his commiserating look said that. Zac walked silently to the armchair opposite where Officer Wright had sat before. I had told him I would do this alone. But being faced with the situation I actually longed for help and comfort.
"You... what?" Pam choked on her cup of tea and almost spit it out onto the couch.
"I'm sure you are aware that this is not the right time for any jokes Taylor and that my family and I are not in the mood right now." James stated, his limit of understanding was crossed, I knew it just by one look at him.
They all looked at me as if I just said the most inappropriate thing I could say. Even though I still felt the heat in my cheeks, I knew they should get an explanation and they wouldn't wait for me if I didn't manage to collect myself now. I did my best to pull my shattered nervous system back into some type of order.
"I am aware and it is not a joke. I can understand how this must sound for you, but the situation is complicated and I cannot explain in a few words. I don't try to fool you and I can imagine that this must sound like a joke for you after what happened, but I would appreciate if you’d allow me to explain the situation a little better and to give me the chance to explain why we are in this situation." I stammered in some type of unjustified defense.
As they kept silent I understood that as an agreement, but then James interrupted.
"I don't see what is there to explain. That boy obviously lost his mind!" He exclaimed, intending to stand up but Pam held him back.
"We didn't come here to argue today James, we came because of our daughter."
She then turned to me. "We want answers why our daughter is gone Taylor."
"I know and I fully understand that. The last thing I want is to make things worse and to upset you more than you already are. I share the same pain like you. I lost my wife and we all are annoyed and disappointed about the situation which is still dangerous for me." I spoke softly and carefully, not wanting to offend anyone.
"I honestly cannot see the point in understanding such insanity, but if you feel it's best then do explain." James replied and all of them looked at me expectantly.
I took a deep breath, and then I continued talking...
I told them everything from the beginning, how the worries began with those weird letters and notes I received from Twink Twink. It was only a few days ago Skye and I talked about it, we were concerned about those letters and he suggested that I should consider a bodyguard and I also thought that it would be the best solution. I told them that Skye tried to find someone and that he had randomly run into Zachary and felt he would be the perfect person. I explained that he was unaware of who Zachary was. I even told them that Zac and I had both declined at first but a close friend of him had persuaded him into taking the job and that Zachary gave him a promise he couldn't break in hope they could understand both sides a little better.
I didn't tell them that I did not plan to keep Zachary because I didn't want to rub salt in the wound in my brother's company and if they have the same empathy that I have, they could imagine how I felt about it.
No one said a word for a long while after that. It was an awkward silence but I didn't dare to break it. I just sat there holding my breath. Every time they looked at me directly I wanted to laugh nervously and look away but my fear of making the situation worse forced me to remain silent. I felt so embarrassed.
Why did it feel like everyone hated me?
Skye was the only one who already knew all the details. He kept silent too but Zac's presence seemed to make him nervous. What was going on with him? I had to talk to him later.
Zachary sat there silently watching us as if he was out of place. I shared his uncomfortable feeling though 'cause I had no idea if my story would change anything but still I felt a little better when it was revealed.
Pam looked over at Zac after a while. "Is that true?"
"Yes. Taylor is under my protection." Zac answered shortly, like usual always quick on the trigger. "I'm sorry for your loss ma'am." He added and stood up after that, shaking Pam's, James' and Matthew's hands.
"Thank you." Pam replied. She had to blow her nose as Zac went back to his seat.
I had no idea how he felt but he was actually the only one who did not make me feel uncomfortable. Zachary had never given me a reason to feel ashamed of him one single time, not even during the time when he did not care about me.
I didn’t know how they would accept the news, I just sat there silently, unsure to pray for salvation or doomsday. I wouldn’t even shift in my seat because I thought it would make a noise. It was much harder than with Skye and Andrew because Nat's family had just lost their daughter and now they probably thought I played with the life of my next best relative.
As Pam laid her hand gently on my shoulder I let out a deep sigh of relief. I could read in her expression that she understood that the situation was still dangerous.
"This is a sad story Taylor." She said sympathetically and laid her hand on my back.
"You are your little brother's dependant client?" Matt asked, much too loudly for my comfort. He turned to me, a little mocking grin on his lips as if he had to suppress a laugh.
I saw Zachary clenching his fists on the armrests at the same time. I knew that he was pissed about Matt's reaction 'cause his nostrils began to flare like a drake and he glared at him with that 'Be careful dude, I'm watching you' look but he controlled himself and didn't do anything.
Zac was always so big brother like when he was around me. It was as if he was born to protect another person... just like a real soldier. And to be completely honest it didn't even feel unusual. It's actually how it has always been between us. Zachary was already mature and protective at a very young age.
As I saw Matt's mocking reaction an unexpected feeling overtook me in this moment. Instead of wanting to jump out of the next window like I thought I would, I was annoyed as well.
Perhaps Matthew did not intend to hurt me and maybe he even did not intend to laugh at me. I knew very well how awkward it sounded to me, because I had been trying to deal with it myself since Zac came back. But to hear someone else actually speak those words out it did hurt me some. It sounded so respectless and condescending in my ears. As if I was a child who could not be taken seriously, because now I was the little brother and Zachary was here to watch over me.
I had almost forgotten how it felt, that humiliating feeling when other people talk to you as if you are too dumb to take care of yourself and to make your own decisions...
In this moment, I could relate why Zac reacted so hostile toward Skye when he approached him with the 'baby brother' comment. I guess I just felt the same annoyance right now like Zac did. If my well behaved manners wouldn't stop me, I actually wanted do the same or just smack Matthew for mocking me. No matter what they thought about me after that or not. But I knew I had to remain polite and well mannered for respect towards them and Natalie.
Had I just forgotten how it felt... that child like feeling or were we just separated for too long?
It was not only that which annoyed me, I wished that someone would understand the way I felt. But what had I done outside? Defended Skye's side even though he was the one who threw the first stone when he didn't give Zachary a possibility to disagree to this job because of the promise that he owed Santiago. No wonder Zac was disappointed from me that I didn't even consider to give him my support. He wished that his brother would have defended him in that moment. Not because blood is thicker than water, but because it was the right thing to do. Somehow, my internal voice told me this.
I knew that we were grown up and free people. No one should bend over backwards for someone. We should remain true to ourselves, even if problems break us.
Suddenly I felt better. Not only because I knew what I had to do, but to know that Zachary still wanted me to give him my back. There was no reason for me to feel useless because Zachary needed me.
I looked over to him and he returned my look but he kept silent because I insisted I would deal with it alone. For the first time, I felt that our brotherly bond was back in this moment. Because I could feel what he felt without needing to talk to him. Maybe, I just needed this experience to begin to understand him. The realization gave me more confidence to deal with my position than I expected.
Yes I was my younger brother's client and I didn't feel ashamed about it. Not anymore. It wasn't weird 'cause we were no longer the strangers we've been for the last nine years. I felt I had gotten used to it. I had to admit that I would have never thought that I would have made such progress in this brief span but in all honesty, I was just too tired to give myself more questions. Our time was for me much more important than a normal day in life. There were moments in which it hurt me such as the way Zachary treated me before, but I had never felt a desire for revenge toward him. Not one single moment. I didn't want to make any mistakes and I wanted to live out every moment with him to its fullest. That's why we lived as if every moment was the last in our lives.
"Matthew! That was uncalled for!" Pam gave her son a reproving look and his grin disappeared in an instant.
"Sorry Taylor... I didn't mean to...it's just so...I don't know..."
"Yes." He nodded. "It's an extraordinary situation."
"I understand that it must sound like that for you and I don't know if it matters but our age difference is not very big. I'm 27 and he's 25. Actually, between us has not much changed, my younger brother has always been more protective than I was. He takes care of me like a big brother..." I began to explain and was tense as their eyes took in every detail of my delicate face.
"Really?" Mac frowned at me and then looked at Zac who gave him a nod.
"Yes Zachary saved me from falling in many situations. We are well aware of our twisted brothers roles." I answered.
"I see." Matt nodded, his strange look had lessened. I turned to Skye, who apparently wanted to say something because he was shifting nervously at my side. Since Andrew was gone, he had always looked over to the front door as if he was hoping he would come back.
"Taylor ordered me to hire a bodyguard for him and I can assure you that his brother has the skills. The only important thing is that aside from you guys no one else may get to know about that. We hope we can rely on your discretion because of Taylor's reputation." He said and I nodded.
"Yeah, that is important not only because of that but also for safety reasons. My brother's code name is Blade Caziano, he got this name in the army, so that's how you can call him."
Unobtrusively, I eyed in James' direction after that because he was the only one who still had not said anything. Finally, I heard him clearing his throat.
"It does not interest me if it's unusual or not. We will not tell anyone, but despite all the facts you told us Taylor, I'm not able to show understanding for an insane situation like that."
James' words hit me in a weird way. I could understand him better than he probably thought but at the same time they did hurt me. I wanted so say something but he cut me off.
"However, I am here for answers about my daughter. What happened? Did you know she was in danger?"
I looked at him and could see the endless sadness and disappointment in his eyes, he finally wanted the same answers I did and I understood that. We had only a short talk by phone a few days ago; they flew from Georgia to California in hope to get answers. Answers from the police. Answers from me. Answers that no one had and I was as equally hurt about it as they were.
"James, Pam, Matthew, I wholeheartedly wish I had more answers for you both, but I only have what Detective Wright told me. They're unclear if Natalie fell down the steps accidently or if she was pushed. At first, I did not believe that this Twink person was a real threat to Natalie or anyone in my family because in my profession I receive a lot of weird things from fans. But I realized that it is better to have a bodyguard when I received the second letter. It was the same day when Natalie was murdered. None of us could know that someone would want to break in and surely we did not believe that someone would want to kill her. Skye wanted a bodyguard for me as a precaution so if the person sees someone is near me we hope that he will stop."
I looked at them, feeling guilty that I hadn't thought to better protect Natalie. But this explanation and Detective Wright's information was all I had and what I could give them.
"What about this baby you mentioned? Why did you think she was pregnant Taylor? We spoke with Natalie not long ago and she did not mention being pregnant."
"She told me a few days ago that she was expecting and that we were having a daughter. I did not ask for proof or anything, I believed Natalie when she told me. We even had already chosen a name for her, Natalie wanted to name her 'Alexandria' and I chose 'Hope' so we decided to name her Hope Alexandria. I really thought she was pregnant..." My voice trailed off as I had to think about the little baby girl of which I thought would change everything. I swallowed hard and fought with myself to not burst into tears. Skye began to stroke my back as he noticed my sad and absent look.
Pam looked at me wearily. "Could this... have been her way of reconnecting with you?" She asked quietly.
I had no idea what Natalie’s reason was. "I cannot honestly say, but I really wish I knew..." I shrugged sadly.
She nodded and it grew quiet after that. No one said anything for several minutes. One time I really had to cough, but I held it in. I guess they needed that time to let all those news sinking in, because I felt the same. James was the one who broke the uncomfortable silence.
"Well, aside from those facts, I don't think that there's a guarantee for it that nothing serious happens anymore. You are still a part of our family Taylor, but fact is; you guys play with your lives and I don't think it will take a good ending for both of you. What you do is completely irrational. Instead of your brother, you should hire a bodyguard for both of you because this concept is condemned to failure!"
I looked over to Zachary; he returned my look but kept silent. Since the first day we met he did his big brother job like he never did anything else before, even when there's nothing to protect me from. He had sent me to bed when he thought it was about time for me, not because he wanted to make me feel down but because he had seen how tired and exhausted I was. He didn't want me watching violent videos because he was aware of my sensitivity and that nightmares were the last thing I needed in my current situation. Violent movies are actually the worst. Highly sensitive people are high in empathy and they get more easily overstimulated, movies with violence or horror themes mostly aren't their cup of tea. I've always been a sensitive guy, I blush quite easily and rather talk about emotional topics over sports and violent movies. But instead of listening to Zac and appreciating his good intentions, I thought he wanted to humiliate me. All this had made me feel like a little boy for some reason. So I watched the surveillance video with him and had one of the worst nightmares of my life in that night. Later I regretted that I didn't listen to him.
He cared about me so much that he didn't want me having friends which weren't good to me. He's a little over protective at times, but he means well. As long as I was under his protection he wouldn't allow anyone to get close to me and hurt me. Zac did everything for me that a good brother would do...
"Trust me James, no one is better aware of that than we are and I know that I can't expect you to understand this situation, but I hope that you guys can understand it someday. Thank you guys for worrying about us. All of you guys are my family and Blade is my family. I don't exclude him 'cause we belong to each other."
I ended and looked at my brother, my heart was filled with deep gratitude.
"Honestly, it's hard for us to believe you are in your little brother's role while your little brother is your protector." Pam interjected with a frown.
"I can imagine..." I began. There was only one possibility to show them that I really needed my brother's protection. "Maybe I can give you a proof." I said, stood up and went over to my brother.
"Zac, would you mind me sitting on your lap for a moment to give them proof?" I quietly asked him.
"I promised to not leave you alone at this meeting Miss Applecheeks. I'm not someone who breaks his word so do what you think is necessary." He answered flatly. The presence of Natalie's family still made me nervous so I didn't think about a deeper meaning of his saying and moved toward him after his approval and carefully sat down onto his lap. For the first time I had to deal with mine and Zac's twisted roles in front of other people.
"Do you want to say something too Zac?" I glanced at him in a shy manner.
"Since my opinion isn't relevant anyway I think there has been said more than enough for one day." He shook his head, his impression unreadable.
It was my turn to show Natalie's family I wasn't kidding, I assumed they wouldn't believe it if they never seen it with their own eyes. But most importantly, I wanted to show them how much it meant to me to have my brother around me. If Natalie's family would see that I trusted him in his job I hoped they'd be more considerate towards us... I slid sideways onto Zac's lap like a little brother who was climbing onto his older brother's lap for emotional security and laid my arm tenderly around his shoulders. I guessed I must have looked like an angsty child because I still was a little afraid to get laughed at but it was actually Zachary's support and secureness that helped me to deal with the situation and to have a more optimistic attitude because of Zachary's protective presence. At this point I was glad to have him around me, I wouldn't know how to handle it without him. I was thankful that he let me sit on his lap and didn't push me away. What would I've done without him?
It was weird to see the different reactions, I could tell that no one expected my action. Matthew looked amused at the sight, Pam's expression was astonished but also insecure just like I felt and Natalie's dad James still looked like he didn't know what to think of us. Only Skye was looking at me like he envied me. To be watched by my in family in laws still made me feel a little nervous and I hardly could sit still. At one point my clumsy self was nearly slipping down but fortunately Zac was quicker. He grabbed my hips and pulled me back onto his lap before I fell down and made a fool of myself. Contrary to my expectations it felt so comfy to lean my body back into his chest. Once again he was there and helped me to relax. Even now I could feel his protection... I coughed slightly so my voice wouldn't shake before I turned my head toward my in laws.
"We all have lost a part of our family, but I feel like I got some part back when my brother returned to me. He is very protective of me and I couldn't be more grateful that he is here with us today. I just wish the circumstances were different and that Natalie could be here today with us as well..."
Pat, James and Matt all nodded at me. The expression in their looks had changed. I knew that I couldn't expect acceptance from all of them, but they understood and that was more than I could hope for.
Lastly, I looked down to Zachary who looked up to me, the thankfulness reflected in his hazel eyes.
He had forgiven me. It didn't need words anymore between us to forgive each other.
We were the brothers again we once have been.
The brothers Zac and Taylor.
inspiration for this Chapter based on this picture
previous Chapter 60