Spoiler Warning: This takes place during Guarding the Heart, though his part actually occurs off page in that one. But, it does refer to some events in that, so if you don’t want to be spoiled for when that comes out(probably not until the end of this year or sometime next year), you might want to skip this one.
Xavier looked over his shoulder to where Alex’s voice came from the doorway. “What?” He hated how his voice cracked and was sure the other man could tell he’d been crying. But, Alex didn’t say a thing about that.
“They’re here,” Alex said. “Why don’t you come out so we can all talk?”
Xavier hunched his shoulders. He didn’t want to. He looked back at his friend on the bed in front of him, who still hadn’t opened his eyes yet.
“He’s going to be fine, X,” Alex said, though even his voice wavered on the words. “The doctor said all we can do is wait until he wakes up. He will wake up.”
Alex couldn’t know that, though. He wasn’t the one who had found Casey crumpled on the floor, bleeding from his head. For a moment, he’d been sure his boss, his old friend, had been dead. He’d almost forgotten Emelyn was missing in that moment of grief. But, he couldn’t forget. They had to get her back. But, he couldn’t just leave Casey, either.
“You talk to them. I’m staying here.”
“What the hell, X? You and Piers used to be best friends. I’d think you’d be happy to see him again. Even if the circumstances do suck.”
Xavier cringed. Alex didn’t know. No one knew about the last time he’d seen Piers. About the things the other man had said to him. And that Xavier had deserved every one of them. Even more than three years later, and he still wasn’t sure he could face him.
“You need to come out, X.”
Yeah, that was what Piers had thought, too. That wasn’t what Alex meant, though, and Xavier couldn’t really refuse. Alex was still his boss, too. “Fine. But, I don’t know how much I can tell them that you can’t. I wasn’t there tonight.”
“And I haven’t been with it for nearly a week. Not since Sarah was taken and brought back hurt. So, there’s even less I can tell them.”
Xavier tried to control his breathing as they walked down the hallway and wished he could control the rest of his body’s reactions to anxiety. But, his hands were still sweating, his heart speeding along, his chest was tight. Piers had been so angry the last time Xavier saw him. And Xavier couldn’t blame him for that. He’d handled everything wrong. But, even now, he wasn’t sure he would have done it any differently.
His feet dragged a little more as they neared the waiting room. But, his gaze went right to the big man sitting in the corner. Another man sat beside him, skinnier but just as tall. That red hair was instantly recognizable. “Declan,” Xavier greeted the redhead.
“Nothing for me, X?” Piers asked.
Xavier couldn’t even bring himself to look at the other man. If that love he’d once claimed to have for Xavier had turned to hate, he wouldn’t be able to handle it.
“Still a coward then,” Piers murmured.
Xavier could feel Alex looking between them. He didn’t respond, though. Alex sighed. “Piers, you know as well as I do that X is one of the bravest men there is. I’d trust him to have my back. In fact, I have, more than once in the last few years he’s worked for Casey and me.”
“Oh, Oui,” Piers admitted, and Xavier was sure he felt Piers’ eyes burning into him. “You can trust him with your life, just not his word.”
Xavier spun around, not able to take it any longer. “I’m going back to Casey. Y’all can figure this out.”
“Yeah, you’re pretty good at walking away from me.”
That stopped Xavier in his tracks, and he spun back. “You walked away from me, Ghost. You lived up to that name pretty damn well, in fact. Just disappeared. I couldn’t have found you if I’d wanted to. So, don’t put it all on me.”
He turned back around again, and headed for the door. “I’m going back to sit with Casey.”
“What the hell?” he heard Alex say as he exited the waiting room. “Just what the hell was that all about?”
“Rien,” Piers responded. “It was nothing.”
Xavier could only wish that was true. And that there was even a chance of there being something again. He missed the man who had seemed to get everything about him. But, it was obvious now that his mistake, his inability to do what he’d promised to, had completely broken anything they’d had.
And that was something he couldn’t blame anyone but himself for.
Note: These two just break my heart. If you missed the other parts of the story: Piers realizes his comrade has feelings for him, too, but then Xavier doesn’t follow through on a promise made. I’m still writing Declan’s story, Protecting the Heart, but once that is done, I’ll be starting on Piers & Xavier’s, Defending the Heart.