One Man's Worth
Twelve Weeks Later…
A man stood in front of a mirror observing his appearance as he slowly got dressed. He had woken from a ten and a half week coma and he is just now seeing that he had several scars all over his back, chest, and various other parts of his body, but what scared him the most were the dark rings under his eyes from the lack of sleep. As a detective, he had seen a number of ways that a person can be killed or tortured, many of which were bizarre and gruesome. The scenes bothered him, but solving the crime and catching the bad guys always helped him to sleep at night. He never imagined becoming a victim himself.
Even though he was rescued several weeks ago, part of him felt like he was still there, caught in a never ending nightmare. Every time he closed his eyes he would dream of a man and woman laughing at him while he was hanging by his arms from a single hook in the middle of nowhere, not only suffering from pain, but humiliation too.
He remembered every detail; the whipping, the burns, the drugs, the beatings, and being raped. It made him ill remembering what that was like. When his family and friends would come by to visit him, he pretended like everything was just fine, but he knew that he wasn't and he didn't know how to talk about it.
As he continued to stare at his reflection, he didn't notice his partner, Esposito, standing in the doorway of his hospital room watching him. The detective walked over to his partner and slowly placed a hand on his shoulder, startling him. Ryan turned to see Esposito and he quickly finished buttoning up his shirt.
"I'm sorry," Ryan said. "You just surprised me, that's all. Aren't you early? I didn't expect you until six o'clock."
Esposito answered, "That's right, it's almost quarter after. I've been watching you for about ten minutes now and I know that it doesn't take that long to button up a shirt. I know that you've been having a hard time getting over what happened to you. I want to help and so do Beckett, Castle, and Jenny."
Ryan responded, "I didn't realize that I was that obvious. I know that I need to talk about it with someone. I'm just not sure how. I can't sleep and these scars will always be a reminder of the nightmare. I don't feel like I'm me anymore and I can't help but feel afraid and anxious, all the time. I feel like I'm worthless and I am no good to you guys."
"You will find yourself again, Kevin," Esposito answered. "Trust me. I am not only your partner, but your best friend. You're like a brother to me and believe me when I say that you are not worthless. You'll be back to your old self in no time. Both James and Jessica are back in prison waiting to be executed and you have us to watch your back. Now, what do you say, we get out of here and go grab a bite to eat?"
"Sure," Ryan answered. "Javier, I want to thank you for saving my life and being here for me now. I owe you a lot, Kate and Rick too."
"You owe us nothing," Beckett said as both she and Castle walked in the room carrying flowers and half a dozen of balloons. "You are our friend and it is our job to protect each other."
Ryan said, "Just the same, thank you all."
Castle added, "You would have been there for any of us. Now, did you guys say something about going to get food?"
"I think we should go for a steak," Esposito responded. "I am sure that you are sick of this hospital food. I know that I would be."
Kevin agreed saying, "A steak sounds great! It has been months since I've been out to eat. We usually just order in Chinese food and I am getting pretty tired of it."
"How are your family and Jenny," Kate asked? "Are you still planning on getting married?"
Ryan answered, "My dad and sisters are fine now that everything is getting back to normal. They went home a few days ago. As for Jenny, she is in Chicago right now, working on closing the deal that she was working on before this mess started. We are still getting married, but not until I am able to overcome everything that's happened. It's going to be awhile."
"When you do get married, Esposito and I are so throwing you the best bachelor party of the century," Castle said. "Even though Beckett is one of us, she is still not welcome to come. She wouldn't appreciate it."
"I will have you know that I am not even interested with going to a party planned by you, Castle," Beckett answered. "A bunch of drunken men and strippers is not something that I am worried about missing."
Castle retorted, "It won't be like that. Trust me, you will want to come."
The bickering back and forth continued just like it used to, the rest of the evening was spent in good company, and Detective Kevin Ryan knew that his life was worth living again thanks to his friends.