Because It's You

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Being home again hadn't been as amazing as he'd thought it would be. Well, he'd hoped it would be. With his father in the hospital Zachary thought he might have his mother's attention, if only for a short time. He knew better than to think that he would be allowed to stay once his father came home, or even after he handed her his first pay check as manager, but he couldn't help the overwhelming wave of hope that had taken over him when she'd shown up at his work and asked him to return.

I'm such an idiot.

He bobbed his head, nodding several times as he walked into the kitchen to get a plastic bag and fill it with ice. Considering how angry George appeared to be, he had no doubt that Orion might have paid the admission fee for the stern talk they both likely got. It took an awful lot to make George angry enough to actually start speaking in full sentences to anyone besides Xena and David, but to actually force him to stop and talk outside of the restaurant?

Yeah, he's definitely going to have a bruise or broken bone.

Shaking his head, Zach sealed the zipper bag and wrapped it in a papertowel before turning and heading down the hall to Orion's room, ignoring David since he was obviously in the zone, cooking. He could smell the pot before he even got close, making his stomach twist nervously. He wasn't worried so much about the drug as he was of the fact that Orion could get fired because of it. He'd read the documents Xena had mentioned when he'd first gotten hired. Especially the part about it being a Drug-Free workplace.

I doubt smoking inside said workplace is going to go over well.

Biting his lower lip, he grabbed the handle to the door and turned it, then pushed it open and slid inside before letting it close itself behind him. The first thing he noticed when he finally looked up was the dark swelling around Orion's left eye. Without even thinking about it, he ran over and climbed into the bed, pressing the ice pack he'd made gently against the bruised skin. He could feel Orion's other eye watching him as he sat there, both of them silent but needing to speak.

Minute after minute passed, their breathing the only sound that occupied the room besides the faint bustle of people beginning to come into the building. They had to start working soon or Xena would come in and just make things worse.

I don't like things being bad between us. I put myself in a situation that I knew wouldn't last... but that doesn't mean that my choice didn't affect him, too.

Looking up, Zachary blinked back a few tears, only letting one escape to trail down his cheek. It didn't make it down to his chin to fall, though. Orion's finger gently pressed against his skin and wiped the tear away with a hesitant, small smile. Just seeing the slight lift to his lips made Zachary sniffle again and hurriedly mumbled as he fell into Orion's arms. "I'm s-sorry!"

The ice pack slipped from his fingers as they dropped to rest on Orion's shoulder. He felt nearly suffocated with how tightly Orion was squeezing him but he didn't care. It felt good. Being back in his arms felt good. Far better than when he'd stepped back into his parent's house. Got a tiny, strained hug from his mother.

"I'm sorry, too, Zachary. I was so surprised by what happened yesterday, and how quickly, that I didn't say what I needed to."

His arms relaxed around him slightly, making Zachary snuggle in closer, not wanting him to let go. "I'm sorry, Zachary. No matter how surprised I was and, yes, upset, I had no excuse for not saying that you will never be homeless, no matter the decisions you make. No matter how many times you leave or come back... or how long you intend to stay. You'll always have a home here."

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