Family Matters

By: Sasha Cartwright

As the real policemen led Derrick Webb through the doors of the loft apartment that he shared with his two roommates, out of their lives forever, Naomi Preston, the victim of his horrible prank, walked over to Cathy Jones and Travis, leaving her boyfriend, Beau Edson, standing by the "detectives" that had aided in Derrick's confession.

Cathy gave her a small smile as Naomi approached the two of them.

Naomi returned it and walked directly over to Travis and, to Jones' surprise, planted a kiss on his cheek and whispered, "Thanks, Trav."

"Anytime, sis," Travis replied, an obvious crack in his unusually shy exterior appearing as he pulled his sister into a tight hug.

"Wait, what?" questioned Kathy, thoroughly confused. She had known Travis for the last three years and he had never mentioned anything about being Naomi's brother. With everything that had happened, she figured that he might have said something before now.

"Kathy," Naomi stated, releasing her brother with one arm, but still keeping the one around the small of his back. "I would like to introduce you to my younger brother, Travis."

"And my older sister, Naomi," chimed in Travis, doing the same.

"I don't understand," said Jones, trying to make sense of it all. "Why didn't you say anything?"

"You needed to know sooner or later, but until now, it really wasn't the right time," said Travis. "Back when all of this happened the first time, Derrick and I were friends and when Naomi told me that he'd raped her, I couldn't believe it. When I tried to defend Derrick, wanting all of the facts first, our dad kicked me out and I moved here with Derrick since I had no money and he was the only person who would help me."

"Then, one night, he told me everything and…" explained Travis, lowering his head so that he didn't have to look at his friend and his sister. "Every day since, he's made sure I wouldn't tell the cops."

"So," finished Naomi. "Travis found me after I moved out here and the two of us made up this plan to catch him in his own lie."

"And we sure did that, didn't we?" asked Beau, joining the group.

"We sure did," agreed Naomi, tightening her arms around her brother. "Come on, Travis, let's go home."

"All right, sis," nodded Travis. "Besides, with classes over for the summer, maybe I'll get to see Mom again."

"Yea, Trav," said Naomi, turning with her brother and boyfriend towards the door.

Before he disappeared, Travis called, "Hey Jones! Feel free to look me up sometime. I'm in the Danbury phonebook under Ronald Preston."

"Yea, Travis," nodded Jones, still reeling from the shock that had been delivered to her in the last twelve minutes.

As Travis disappeared into the town car that his father had sent for his sister, he saw Naomi talking to Beau through the window. After a kiss on the cheek, she climbed into the car next to him, without Beau.

"Are you two all right?" Travis asked, hoping that their little plan hadn't completely injured his sister and Beau's relationship.

"Yea, we're fine," she replied. "We just agreed to give each other a little space and some time."

"Besides," she said, putting her hand gently under her brother's downcast face and lifting it to meet her eyes. "I wanted to get to spend a little time with my reunited brother."

Travis' face split into a big smile as he put his arm around his sister.

"Oh, I missed you," he sighed, planting a brotherly kiss on the top of her head.

"And I wasn't thinking about you every day that you were off who-knows-where with that maniac," Naomi stated, laying her head on his thin chest.

Travis gave a small chuckle, but it quickly turned to a grunt of pain, as what felt like fire burned in his chest.

"What's the matter?" his sister questioned, unfortunately figuring why.

"Nothing," Travis lied, squelching the pain like he had so many times before.

"Don't Travis," scolded Naomi. The years had not dulled her ability to detect when her brother was lying and right now, there was no denying it.

"Did he hurt you?" she asked worriedly, fearing the worst from her highly unpredictable ex-boyfriend.

As Travis lowered his head to avoid her eyes, Naomi knew she was right.

"Don't worry," she assured. "When we get home, Dad can call the doctor and …"

"No," Travis stated firmly. "I'll be fine."

"Besides," he added. "I don't even know if Dad will want to see me."

Naomi wanted to be able to assure her brother that he was wrong, but they both knew how stubborn he was, and even after Travis had caught his sister's assailant, there was no guarantee that he would take Travis back.

"Everything's going to be fine, Travis," Naomi promised.

"I hope so," Travis added quietly.

Later that night, Naomi and Travis arrived at their parents' house just outside of Danbury. As they stepped out of the car and walked into the house, they were greeted by their mother who excitedly rushed to meet them.

"Naomi, darling, how are you?" she asked, throwing her arms around her daughter only to have her eyes fall upon her long lost son.

"Travis?" she asked, releasing Naomi and turning to Travis, who stood in the doorway, unsure of the greeting he would receive.

Walking over to her son, Mrs. Preston burst into tears as she threw her arms around him, pulling him in close and half strangling him.

"All right, Mom," Naomi stated, allowing her mother to release her brother. "We're all glad to have Travis back, but smothering him isn't going to help anything."

"Speak for yourself," growled a voice from the top of the stairs of the great mansion-like house.

Travis, Naomi, and Mrs. Preston all looked up to see Mr. Preston descending the stairs onto the ground floor.

"Not all of us are happy to have him back," Naomi and Travis' father stated, approaching the group.

"Hello, Dad," greeted Travis, noticing that his father's opinion of him hadn't changed in the last five years.

"Don't you "hello, dad" me," the older Preston man snarled, walking up to Travis and staring him in the eyes. "I have no son."

"Ronald, stop it," Mrs. Preston scolded. "You can't disown your son, especially not after he helped Naomi catch that horrible rapist."

"No son of mine would ever have associated with that kind of person in the first place," Mr. Preston snarled.

"It's all right," stated Travis, turning to face the door. "I was just leaving."

"No, Travis," insisted his mother, grabbing his arm so he couldn't leave.

"Naomi," she said. "Take your brother upstairs and get him settled."

"Ok, Mom," nodded Naomi, taking her brother's hand and leading him to the second floor.

Travis allowed himself only one glance at his father before disappearing upstairs with his sister.

After they were gone, Mrs. Preston turned to her husband.

"I'm not saying that you have to take him back and welcome him with opened arms," she stated, "but least give treat him like the son that you threw out of this house five years ago."

"I haven't had a son for five years," growled Mr. Preston, "and I'm not going to ever have the same son again. My son, Travis, died to me a long time ago. You can't make me love him."

"The least you could do is try," sighed Mrs. Preston, allowing her hopes of having her family back.

"You can't let him treat you like that," Naomi said, fishing a fresh T-shirt for Travis out of his untouched dresser. Nothing in the room had changed since he left five years before.

"What choice do I have?" asked Travis, catching the shirt and removing his own. "It's not like…"

"Travis," Naomi gasped, seeing her brother's mutilated chest and arms. "Did he do that to you?"

"Yes," Travis answered, looking down and surveying the all-too-familiar sight. There were bruises, or now, there was one, huge multicolored bruise that stretched from the base of his neck, down his arms and chest, all the way down to his belt. On top of all of that, there were gashes, long, painful looking rips in the flesh that covered his chest and even more on his back. Naomi could only imagine what his legs looked like.

"We have to get you to a doctor," she stated, barely believing that her brother had been able to move, let alone last the whole car ride as well as everything else that had happened in that condition. "Come on, let's go."

"No," answered Travis. "I'll be fine. It's been worse than this before."

"How long did this go on Travis?" asked Naomi.

"It started about a six months after we left," he brother replied. "You do the math."

"Oh, Travis," cried Naomi, sitting down on the bed besides her brother, not able to take her eyes off of his battered body. "Tell me what happened."

Travis closed his eyes and remembered back to the day four and a half years ago that changed his life forever.

"Hey Travis," said Derrick, as he entered through the loft's front door.

"Hey Derrick," the younger man greeted looking up from his ever-present sketchbook to the other man.

"Tonight is a celebration," Derrick stated, walking over to the bar and grabbing two glasses, "a toast to the end of finals."

"For this semester, at least," Travis nodded, remembering that their Christmas Break wouldn't last and they would have to start their vicious school cycle all over again.

Derrick wasn't too hard on him because this was their first Christmas together without their families.

"Come on Travis," cooed Derrick, passing the younger man a drink. "Let's make the most of this."

"All right, Derrick," nodded Travis, taking the glass and sipping the expensive liquor that Derrick always seemed to have in his apartment.

That night, both of them had a little too much to drink, but Derrick the most of the two.

Late that night, Derrick leaned over to Travis and said, "I'm sorry I couldn't give you a present this year, but I did decide to tell you something."

"What's that?" questioned Travis curiously.

"I did it," Derrick said with a laugh.

"Did what?" Travis asked.

"Your sister," the older man answered, "and she was great, well, except for the parts where she fought back."

Travis tried as hard as he could to get his drunken mind to comprehend what he was being told.

"You know," continued Derrick. "They make rape sound like such a horrible thing, but when you're on this side of it, it's it just another form of love?"

"Come on, Derrick," Travis said, still believing that his friend was tricking him. "This isn't funny."

"It wasn't meant to be," the older man scoffed, "and your sister certainly wasn't amused."

"You stupid bastard!" Travis cried, lunging at Derrick.

"Whoa, whoa," stated Derrick. "What are you going to do? You're on my side of this now. You chose me and now you're stuck with me. I'm the only thing you have in this world. What can you do if you don't have my money to keep you off the streets? Your family isn't going to take you back and friends… you don't have any friends.

"I'll go to the police," threatened Travis, knowing the truth and not stopping until his sister's rapist was behind bars.

"Oh, no you don't," said Derrick, grabbing Travis' legs and pulling the younger man to the ground.

Pinning the younger man to the floor, Derrick growled, "You're not going to go to the police and you're not going to tell anyone about this because if you do, you'll get this ten thousand times worse."

Plowing his fists into his younger man's chest, Derrick smashed Travis' torso and legs until he couldn't breathe let alone move. Travis woke three days later, barely able to pick himself off the floor, half believing that Derrick had just had too much to drink, that is, until he tried to clean himself up in the bathroom and met Derrick there with a leather belt in his hands.

After nearly twenty minutes with Derrick and his makeshift bullwhip, Travis knew he was never going to be able to survive that times ten thousand.

Unfortunately, it didn't stop there.

Every day for the next two and a half years, Derrick would find some sort of pain that he could dispense to his captive until Travis had no hope of ever escaping. Even after they met Jones and she moved in with them, Derrick never failed to ensure Travis' loyalty.

It was after a particularly severe beating, Travis had managed to pick himself up to walk to one of his later classes when he saw his sister, sitting on a park bench and talking to another girl that he remembered from his communications class.

All through his photo art class, Travis was so distracted with ideas of combining forces with his sister to escape Derrick. Two hours later, when he returned home to the loft, Derrick had put him through a glass end table. It was then that he decided that he had to get away from Derrick, by all means necessary.

When Travis finished, Naomi wiped the tears from her eyes and said, "I'm so sorry, Travis." Planting a kiss on his cheek, she said, "Good night, Travis. I'm right next door if you need anything okay?"

"I know Naomi," stated Travis, pretending to be annoyed by his sister's over protectiveness, but really missing it from the years he was gone.

"Good night, Travis," Naomi said again.

"Good night, sis," he replied, pulling back the blankets on his bed and drifting off to sleep.

The next morning, when Naomi made her way downstairs, she stuck her head into her brother's room, something that for the last five years she had been unable to do.

Seeing him sleeping peacefully as if nothing had happened made her believe that maybe there might still be a chance for some normality in their lives.

Naomi was sitting at the breakfast table with her mother and father when Travis finally made his way down the stairs, rubbing the sleep from his eyes, just like he always had every day of his life.

"Good morning," his sister greeted, hoping that the cheerful morning had improved her father's mood.

" 'morning," Travis replied, "Mom, Dad."

"Good morning," answered Mrs. Preston.

The whole family seemed to turn to Mr. Preston, who remained focused on his morning paper, not even bothering to look up at his son.

"Fine," stated Travis, knowing that he wasn't getting anywhere with his father and if his dad wouldn't even try, why should he? "I'm leaving. If you don't want me back, that's …", but before he could finish, he turned to leave the room and passed out, unconscious on the floor.

"Trav, Travis?" asked Naomi, rushing to her brother's side, quickly joined by her mother.

"Mom, call an ambulance," Naomi stated urgently, turning back to her brother. "Hang on, Travis."

Naomi and her parents sat in the waiting, two of which were worrying about their son and brother, and the other, remaining indifferent.

When the doctor finally emerged from the hallway, Naomi and her mother rushed to meet him.

"How is he?" Mrs. Preston questioned.

"Travis is very sick," explained the doctor. "He has experienced such extreme trauma on his body that if he is strong enough to beat this, it will take several months, maybe even a few years to overcome this."

"When will we be able to take him home?" Mrs. Preston asked.

"We're not certain yet," the doctor replied. "Once he's gotten his strength back, we'll have to see. Regardless of when he is released, Travis will need extensive medical care after he has gone home."

"Can we see him?" wondered Naomi.

"He's sleeping now, but yes, he can have a few visitors," answered the doctor.

Hearing this, Mrs. Preston rushed off to see her injured son, while Naomi stayed behind, turning to face her father.

"Are you going to see him, Dad?" she asked expectantly.

"Whatever he does with his time isn't my problem," stated Mr. Preston.

"Don't you understand?" shouted Naomi, "Derrick did this to him. Derrick almost killed Travis to keep him from turning him in. Travis stayed there because he wanted to help bring Derrick to justice. He did it for me and to prove to you that he didn't deserve the punishment you gave him."

Mr. Preston silently chewed over what his daughter had said and immediately felt ashamed.

"Come on, Dad," Naomi said. "I'm sure he'll forgive you."

Mr. Preston gave a single nod and followed Naomi to Travis' room.

They waited for over two hours, every minute hoping that he would open his eyes and slowly but surely everything would be all right. At one particular time, when Mrs. Preston had gone to get coffee and Mr. Preston was out for a smoke, Travis opened his eyes to see his sister's face.

"Hey," she greeted, quietly so she didn't hurt his sore head from his fall on the floor.

"Hey, Nomi," Travis replied, calling his sister by her nickname from when they were kids. "How long have I been here?"

"About three hours," answered Naomi.

"Is Mom here?" he questioned.

"Yes," Naomi said, "and Dad too."

"Does he know?" wondered Travis.

"Yes," replied his sister. "I think it's going to be a lot better from now on."

Travis gave a small snort, "I'll take your word for it."

Just then, the two heard a loud, "Travis!" from the doorway as their mother rushed in to see him.

Setting her coffee cups down, Mrs. Preston walked to his side and gently took his hand in hers.

"Hey, baby," she cooed, brushing the few stray hairs out of his eyes.

"Hey, Mom," answered Travis, starting to feel more at home again.

"The doctor said that, as long we take care of you, you're going to be okay," said his mother, not wanting to take her eyes off of him as if afraid he'd disappear for another five years.

"Is there any chance I can go home soon?" wondered Travis, not wanting to have to stay cooped up in the sterile rooms for too long.

"We'll see, Travis," Mrs. Preston said, "but what I want you to focus on is…"

"Getting better," the two siblings said in unison, having heard that speech several times when they were children.

Looking up, Mrs. Preston and Naomi saw Mr. Preston standing in the doorway of his son's room, seeming lost and out of place.

"Did Dad come to see me?" Travis asked, trying to loosen the tension.

"He sure did, Travis," said Mrs. Preston.

"I need to get some air," stated Naomi. "Will you go with me, Mom?"

"Sure, honey," answered Mrs. Preston, leaving the two Preston men alone together.

"Don't worry, I won't bite," assured Travis to his father.

Mr. Preston walked further into the room until he stood a few feet away from his son's bed. Seeing him up close like that allowed him to see Travis in a way he hadn't in five years. Now, he wasn't the man who defended his sister's rapist. Instead, he was a man who had risked his life to help his sister.

"Travis, I…" started his father, trying to find the right words, but discovering that everything he thought stuck in his throat. "Son, I…"

Reaching up one, thin pale hand, Travis took his father's tanned hand in his own.

"I know, Dad," he said quietly. "I know."

Mr. Preston's eyes glossed with tears as he took his son's hand and pulled him into a gentle hug.

"Come on," Mr. Preston stated, finally releasing his son. "Let's take you home."

After much negotiation with the doctor and help from their personal physician, Mr. Preston allowed for his son to be brought home that day, knowing that he would heal much better at home than in a loud, bustling hospital.

As his father carried him up the stairs to his bedroom, his mother and sister got him settled.

"If you need anything," Mrs. Preston said, "just call us, okay?"

"Yea, Mom," nodded Travis weakly, thoroughly exhausted from the day and just wanting to sleep.

"Let him rest, Alicia," Mr. Preston scolded.

"All right," Mrs. Preston agreed, giving her son a final kiss on the cheek and following the rest of the family out of the room.

The rest of that week went much the same way: Travis spending much of his time sleeping and trying to get better.

The following days, however, did not go as well.

Jones came to see him on Monday, but the Prestons received a much more unexpected and unwanted guest that day.

While Jones and Naomi sat, talking in the living room with Travis lying in between the two of them, the local sheriff came to the door.

"Yes," Mrs. Preston answered.

"Mrs. Preston," the sheriff stated. "I'm afraid I have some rather disturbing news for you and your family."

"Please, come in," offered Mrs. Preston.

"What's the matter, Mom?" Naomi asked, walking in from the living room.

"The sheriff has something he needs to tell us," replied her mother.

"This really involves Mr. Preston Jr.," the man said.

Naomi disappeared into the living room and reemerged with Jones and Travis.

"Mr. Preston," the sheriff stated, knowing that what he had to tell them wasn't going to make them happy. "Mr. Derrick Webb escaped from prison early yesterday morning. We understand that this is difficult for you, but….," but Travis couldn't hear him. Every other sound in the room was drowned out by the horrible dread that filled up his stomach and immediately drained the color from his face.

Rushing to the bathroom, he proceeded to empty the meager contents of his stomach into the toilet, feeling the pain and dread flood back to him so strongly that he honestly couldn't hold anything down.

After nearly two minutes of that, he started to catch his breath and he could feel two arms around his thin shoulders.

"Don't worry Travis," Naomi said, rubbing her baby brother's back as gently as she could. "We're not going to let him hurt you anymore."

Despite the help of Jones and his family, Travis' worry quickly began to wear on him. It started as a few bad dreams and a low grade fever, but by the end of the week, he was delirious from fever and completely fried from sleep deprivation.

As he sat up in bed to eat what little he could: two Vicodin and half a glass of water, Jones watched him with concerned eyes

"You're going to have to eat something or you're going to make yourself sick," Jones warned, as Travis took both Vicodin and drank only a mouthful of water.

"Too late," he coughed. "I'm already sick."

"Please, Travis, try to eat something," Jones begged.

"Fine," Travis agreed, taking two bites from the sandwich in front of him before feeling an overwhelming wave of nausea swept over him and it took all he had to keep it in his stomach.

When he finally calmed down, he fell back into his pillows, his flushed cheeks blossoming amongst the cotton white bedding. In less than a minute, he was asleep, fitfully dreaming like he had so many times that week.

Wanting to let him rest, Jones gathered the dishes and left him alone to sleep.

Walking past the guard at his bedroom door, Jones walked downstairs, into the kitchen, and put the plate and glass on the counter. As she turned back to face the entryway, she saw Naomi with a worried look on her face, standing like a ghost and leaning against the doorframe.

"How is he?" she asked, already knowing the answer.

"Scared," Jones replied simply, knowing that this was hard on her friend, as well as his family.

"Not that I can blame him," she added, taking a seat at the breakfast bar. "I am too."

"I know what you mean," Naomi sympathized, joining Jones. "It feels so surreal, having all of this happen and never even know about it until after all this time."

"I just can't believe he never said anything," Jones stated, thinking back over all those years of silence.

Naomi nodded understandingly.

All of the sudden, she could hear a 'crash!' upstairs.

Jumping to her feet, Naomi raced up the stairs with Jones right behind her.

Racing into Travis' room, they saw Travis, feverishly fighting away the same villainous Derrick in his nightmares that he had for the last two weeks.

"Trav, Travis," cooed Naomi, shaking him awake. "Come on, Travis."

After almost another minute, Travis woke with a start, his whole body tense from his imagined battle, but, seeing his sister before his eyes and not his captor, he relaxed, falling back, exhausted, onto his pillows.

"Jones, go get his medicine," Naomi instructed, fishing a rag out of the bowl of cold water on her brother's nightstand, wringing it out, and placing it on Travis' fevered forehead.

As Jones rushed to help her friends, Travis opened his eyes, the fever still burning in the blue orbs, but the fear was gone, leaving a very lucid, tired look deep within the azure.

"Same nightmare?" Naomi asked, already having an idea as to the answer.

"No," answered Travis, much to the surprise of his sister, "just a regular old bad dream."

Naomi gave him a small nod, just hoping that he would go back to sleep and get some rest.

"I did realize something," he said, after a few moments of silence.

"What's that?" Naomi wondered.

"I don't have to be afraid of him anymore," replied Travis.

"Travis," his sister questioned. "You do know that, just because you want it to go away, doesn't mean that it's going to?"

"No, that's not what I mean," stated Travis. "I've spent the last almost five years of my life afraid of him when, really, he was the one that was afraid of me."

Naomi sat silent, letting her brother's words sink in.

Despite his fever and exhaustion, Travis did have an excellent point.

"All these years," Travis explained, "Derrick was scaring me into silence when he was afraid that I would turn him over to the police."

Naomi was still struck silent, but this time, by her brother's words.

He was absolutely right, but that didn't make her any less afraid that Derrick would return to finish the terrible work that he had started.

"But Travis," Naomi said, voicing her concern. "What if he comes here to hurt you again or worse? You're not strong enough to face him."

Taking his hand in hers, she said, "I don't want to lose you again."

Travis heard her words and, looking her right in the eyes, replied, "I'm not going anywhere, Nomi, and I'm not going to let him get away with this, not to you, not to me, and not to anyone else."

"Travis," stated Naomi, her eyes filling with tears knowing that a fear glowed in them that didn't shine in those of her brother.

Cutting her off, Travis put a thin, wasted arm around his sister's neck and whispered, "I love you, Nomi," into her ear.

Tears streaming down her own pale cheeks, Naomi pulled her brother into a tight hug and answered, "I love you too, Trav."

Jones rushed into the room with Travis' pill bottle in her hand to see brother and sister in a fond embrace, Travis' fevered head resting against his sister's shoulder.

Feeling eyes on her back, Naomi released her brother with a gentle kiss on his head before turning to face Kathy, her face blotched with tears, but her eyes seeming calm and at little more at ease.

"I brought the medicine," Jones stated, handing Naomi the orange bottle.

"Thanks Jones," the older woman thanked before unscrewing the cap and walking back, with Kathy, to Travis' side.

"Here you go Trav," Naomi said, taking his hand and putting the two large, white pills in his thin, pale palm.

Putting the medicine in his mouth, he allowed his sister to hold the glass of water up to his weakened lips, swallowing the tablets and lying his head back against his pillows, the fever slowly losing its hold on the exhausted young man.

"Thanks Jones," said Travis, looking over to his sister, his eye lids obviously getting heavy from lack of sleep.

Taking his sister's hand, Travis looked wordlessly into her eyes.

Matching his gaze, Naomi gave him a small nod.

"Come on, Jones," she said, leaving her brother to his now dreamless sleep. "Let's let Travis get some sleep."

The two women quietly exited the room, but before she walked out the door, Naomi took one last look at her brother and seeing him dozing peacefully for the first time in over a week, she knew that he was right.

She just hoped that everything would fall into place without the loss of her beloved brother.

Over the next few days, Travis, his conscience put at ease and his fever broken, finally began to regain his strength until he seemed like his old self again, but he, Jones, and his family weren't naive enough to believe that their troubles were over.

Just three days after Travis' fever broke, late that night, the lock on Travis' bedroom window silently clicked open and a dark figure slipped like death into the room.

As a cold hand clamped over Travis' mouth, he opened his eyes to see the crazed and very angry face of Derrick Webb glaring back at him.

"Miss me, you little asshole," growled Derrick, balling his fist for the millionth time to Travis and smashing him across the face, but for the very first time, Travis was not afraid.

"Is that all you've got?" the younger man wondered, half spitting his words at his attacker.

This time, Derrick buried his skull into Travis' forehead, creating a deep gash on the other man's head, but still managed not to wipe the smile from Travis' face.

"Just like old times," the younger man laughed, blood flowing down his face. "Do you really need to hold me down? Are you that afraid of a sick man? What, are you going to tie me up too so I'm no threat at all? What, has prison made you that scared that you have to hold your victims down or are you that afraid of me?"

"What?" questioned Derrick, not expecting this from his victim, the one person in the world that he was sure he had rendered completely helpless. "Do you want to die for this?"

"Isn't that what you're here for?" Travis wondered, shoving the older man off of himself and standing on his own feet, weakly, but capably.

"You little-…" Derrick started, stunned by this, but his anger completely redoubled towards this gutsy young man, but as he went to renew his attack, he heard the door behind him open.

"It's no use, Derrick," Naomi stated, holding up a phone so that the attacker could see it. "I've already called the police and since your stunt, they've been on our speed dial for the last week. They should be here any minute. If you leave now, you might be able to get away, for a while at least."

Derrick gave his rape victim a smile, then, turning back to Travis, he said, "Well played Travis."

"So, I guess you think that this is the end of old Derrick," the man stated, walking over to the open window that he had seen as the entry into the world of his revenge and now could only see it as his only way out of his present situation, "but I guess you were wrong."

Lunging at Travis, Derrick smashed his knees into Travis' legs and pinned him to the bed, grabbing at the younger man's throat and choking the life out of him.

Moments later, a storm of police officers poured into the room, grabbing Derrick and tearing him away from Travis.

As the police dragged Derrick away, Naomi rushed to her brother's side.

Travis was lying on the bed, pale and smeared with blood, he struggled to breathe, but was still very much alive.

Fishing the bowl of water, Naomi gently washed her brother's wounds, still upset by his injuries, but glad that the damage was minimal.

Only a few minutes later, an EMT entered the room and put Travis onto a gurney.

Rolling him down the hallway, Naomi stayed with him even as they loaded him into the ambulance.

"I told you everything would be ok," Travis choked, as the medics fastened his oxygen mask, his smile never leaving his face.

"I know Travis," Naomi nodded. "You were right."

A week later, Travis spent his last day in the hospital.

The doctors were very concerned by his condition, especially with new injuries on top of old ones, but with only the bruising on his neck and a few stitches on his forehead, Travis healed quickly.

As he made short work of the grilled cheese sandwich in his hand, Travis saw Naomi and Beau enter his room, hand in hand.

"Hey, Travis," greeted Beau.

"Hey, Beau," replied Travis.

Just then, Mrs. Preston stuck her head in the room and said, "Naomi, can you help me for a minute, please?"

"Sure, Mom," Naomi stated, releasing Beau and walking from the room.

"I'll be back, Travis," she said, disappearing through the door.

"I'll be here," laughed Travis.

With Naomi gone, Beau walked over to Travis' bedside and awkwardly sat down in the chair by Travis' side.

"How are you feeling?" he wondered, not really sure what to say.

"Better," Travis replied.

"Listen," Beau said. "What you did for Naomi, that, that was incredible. I just what to thank you."

Travis gave Beau a serious nod, and Beau gave a small chuckle.

"I want to ask you something," he said.

"What?" questioned Travis.

Reaching into his pocket, Beau pulled out a small box and opened it, revealing a shining new engagement ring.

"Do you think she'll like it?" he asked.

Travis gave a small nod, eyeing the ring.

The two were interrupted by Jones face popping in once again through the door.

"Ready to go, Travis?" she questioned.

Glancing at Beau, who quickly hid the ring, Travis gave his friend a small nod.

Helping him to his feet, Beau and Jones helped Travis to the car where his family and a new life waited for him.