Cut & Run, page 11part #1 of Cut & Run Series
“I don’t look like I’m going to have a coronary,” Zane objected stiffly.
“Sure, you don’t,” Ty responded placatingly. “Have you had your blood pressure checked lately?”
Zane narrowed his eyes. “Not recently. Are you insinuating I ought to?”
Ty shrugged noncommittally and smiled crookedly. “That or unclench your ass a little. ”
“Gee, thanks,” Zane muttered. “Any other advice you want to bestow?”
“Just some friendly counsel,” Ty shrugged as he turned to look back at the white-board.
Zane watched his back, wondering why the conversation had turned semiserious. He didn’t like it. “What do you care?”
Ty looked down and to the side slightly, not moving otherwise as he watched Zane in the periphery of his vision. “What makes you think I do, Hot Shot?” he countered in amusement.
“I’m thinking a ‘fuck off’ would fit really well about now, so, fuck off. ”
“Why does it bother you so much?” Ty asked in amusement as he turned slightly and looked at his partner. “What do you care what I say or do?”
“I already told you, I don’t do violins. So back to your whiteboard,”
Zane said crankily. He wasn’t going to open himself up for more criticism. “I don’t care if you insult me,” he claimed, looking like he’d bit into something sour.
Ty grinned widely and turned back around. He enjoyed irritating Zane more than he had others in the past. He wasn’t sure why, but he did. “They never ran a check of the phone calls made to and from Sanchez’s hotel room,”
he said abruptly. “We should look into that. ”
“Reilly and Sanchez’s,” Zane muttered, not feeling all that charitable.
“Hmm?” Ty asked distractedly.
“They shared a room,” Zane reminded. “They were partners. There were two of them?”
Ty stared at the man for a moment and then curled his lip before looking back at the board. “Whatever,” he finally grunted. “I’d also like to look at their belongings,” he said after a moment. “Maybe there was a token left and the investigators just didn’t recognize it. Might give us something. ”
Zane’s brow furrowed. “They didn’t recognize it, but you think you will?” he inquired with a small sneer.
“You never know,” Ty answered vaguely.
Zane shrugged and made a note. “As good as anything else we’ve got. ” He slid his finger down another column of notes. He sighed quietly, trying to remember what he’d been reading the night before. “Why am I not seeing lab reports for skin and nail scrapings?”
Ty looked up with a frown, then back down at the report in his hands.
“I don’t know,” he said as he picked up another and paged through it. “Maybe they’re not in yet?” he suggested doubtfully.
“It’s been almost two weeks,” Zane said as he continued to flip through sheets. “They should have been in with all the other lab work. ” He pushed out of the chair. “I’m going over to the lab. Maybe they’re just stuck in with the ME’s notes. You want to come?”
Ty groaned slightly. “Not really,” he answered honestly as he looked back up at the board.
“I think you’re taking this inept and lazy objective a little too far,”
“Shut the fuck up,” Ty murmured with a serious glance up at Zane.
Zane met his gaze for a long moment before turning his back and walking out of the room. He’d hit a nerve of some kind, and Zane wasn’t about to go poking a Recon Marine. Not without at least two guns in hand.
Storing the tidbit away, he headed down the quiet corridor, and his footsteps echoed on the worn floor.
When he entered the records room off the lab there was no one at the desk, so he leaned over it, calling out a hello. He heard movement back in the stacks of files, but didn’t see anyone. He skirted around the desk and peered into the well-lit recess, but there was no one there.
“Can I help you with something, Special Agent Garrett?” Henninger asked from behind Zane with a tinge of amusement in his low voice. Zane glanced over his shoulder, concealing a small jolt of surprise. The young agent leaned against the desk Zane had just passed, seemingly having appeared out of nowhere. “It’s lunch break. No one down here,” he said softly.
Zane recovered from his surprise quickly and gave the young agent a small smile. “If you don’t mind my interrupting whatever you’re doing for a bit, maybe you can help me find some records?”
“What are you looking for?” Henninger asked as he gestured for Zane to follow him.
“Some of the medical examiner files from the third and fourth victims, about two weeks ago. There would have been routine skin and nail scrapings and hair clippings, that sort of thing. They’re not in the resource file,” Zane explained.
“Third and fourth,” Henninger replied with a nod. “Those were the girls with the dyed hair, right?” he asked Zane.
“Yeah,” Zane answered as they walked between the stacks. “Where’s your partner?” he asked curiously. He hadn’t seen Morrison since yesterday afternoon.
“Taking a long lunch,” Henninger answered haltingly. “Girlfriend thing,” he explained with a glance back at Zane.
Zane’s lips curled slightly. Henninger was obviously covering for his partner. That, at least, was admirable in a way. It made him wonder what it would be like to actually like his own partner enough to even consider covering his indiscretions. “Here’s the file number,” he offered, politely leaving off the questions as he handed Henninger a piece of notepaper.
“You’ve already got the file, though, right? The hard copy?”
Henninger asked. “I’ll look it up on the computer, see if the sheets got misplaced,” he offered as he turned down a long row of shelves and toward a nook in the side of the room that housed three computers. The FBI logo turned lazily on two of the screens, while the third sat black and dormant.
“Yeah, I checked the hard copy out with the others last night,” Zane said, flipping through the file of his own notes he’d brought with him.
Henninger sat down at the computer on the far left and began tapping at the keys rapidly, entering his badge number and pass code and then steering through a number of pages as he tried to locate the correct file. They navigated the electronic stacks unsuccessfully for some time before there was a sudden pop and a hiss from the machine that was sitting dark.
Zane glanced over at it with a flinch as it popped again, and without any other warning the computer and monitor exploded in a blast of glass, metal, and singed plastic.
Henninger cried out and covered his face, ducking away from the mini-explosion and thumping to the ground to cover his head as the muted sound and crack of shattering glass bounced hollowly through the large room.
Zane was less fortunate. He only had time to turn his back and take half a step away, cursing a blue streak as glass, plastic, and heated air whooshed toward him to slam into his back, debris cutting through his jacket, shirt, and skin.
The heat made him stumble forward, and he fell roughly to his knees into the glass and metal shards that littered the floor as pain seared through him.
The computer—or what was left of it—sizzled angrily in the alcove.
There were no sprinklers in the stacks to put out the small fire the explosion caused. In the hallway there was shouting and running feet; agents coming to investigate and give aid.
Zane groaned and reached up to touch the back of his neck. It felt like it had been cut to pieces, and that feeling was pretty much confirmed as his hand came away bloody. “Goddammit,” he hissed. At least he still had on his thick canvas jacket. It had probably saved him from being seriously sliced up.
The crunch of heavy feet on glass warned Zane that someone was walking up behind him, slowly and calmly through the chaos.
“Don’t move,” Ty murmured in his ear as a gentle hand came to rest on the back of Zane’s head.
Zane hissed at even that light touch. The exposed skin was inlaid with glass fragments and starting to well with blood that trailed in rivulets down into his collar.
“What the hell happened?” Ty asked as more footsteps pounded on the concrete floor. “Call an ambulance!” he barked at the first men who came in. They scrambled to do so.
“Computer blew the fuck up. Where’s Henninger? He was sitting here. . . . ” Zane tried to push off his hands to sit back on his heels.
“I said don’t fucking move,” Ty hissed angrily as he held Zane down and looked around. “Kid’s moving; he’s all right. ”
Trying to stay in one spot, Zane set his hand back down on the floor littered with debris. “Monitor was dark when we came in,” he said. “The others had screensavers. ” He flinched as he felt the blood run from the back of his neck over and around to drip down the curve of his throat.
Ty frowned as he listened, reaching down and plucking bits of glass out of Zane’s jacket. “No way whoever set it could have known when it’d be used,” he answered, picking bits of glass out of the jacket like a chimp grooming its mate. “We need to move. ”
Zane winced as Ty freed a particularly jagged chunk of glass. “You think someone did this on purpose?”
“No, I think everyone likes to randomly blow shit up,” Ty answered sarcastically. “Where else are you hurt? Anything internal?”
“Where else? You don’t see enough?” Zane asked sharply. He took a slow, deep breath despite the prickling pain. “Nothing inside. My neck. Feels like I’ve been hit with needles all over my back and down my legs, too. I’m bleeding under the jacket. ” He could feel the warm ooze spreading and wending down to his waistline.
“Oh, yeah?” Ty asked as he lifted the jacket gently and peered under it. The jacket itself was ruined, but it looked like a lot of the smaller pieces had been stuck in it. It was just the large, mean pieces that had made it into skin. “You’ll live,” he declared in a careless voice.
Zane’s language degenerated as he muttered to himself. “Damn it, I want a cigarette. ”
“Shit’ll kill you,” Ty chastised, trying to keep the concern out of his voice as he bent to help Zane to his feet.
Zane grimaced as his muscles flexed instinctively and pain shot through him. He hissed as an agent scooted past, jostling him and making him arch his back to keep his balance.
“Come on,” Ty muttered as he reached under Zane’s arms to lift him.
He had assured himself that no arteries had been nicked, and now he wanted to get the hell out of there.
Zane climbed awkwardly to his feet, trying not to shift too quickly.
Once he stood, a good amount of the glass and plastic dropped to the floor, leaving only the pieces that were embedded too deeply to fall out. He kept his head bowed. Straightening his neck felt like it pushed the tiny glass bits in deeper.
“There,” Ty said with a pleased smile as he plucked one last larger glass fragment out of the back of Zane’s neck. “Walk it off, man,” he suggested with a smirk as he began leading him by the elbow out of the chaos of the stacks and toward the hallway.
“Bastard,” Zane hissed. He admitted, silently, that this was practically nothing compared to the last time he’d been caught by an explosion. It was just the shock of it happening that had thrown him. And it hurt like a bitch.
“You’d probably say that if I lost a leg. ”
“Nah,” Ty scoffed as they got out into the hall. He looked left and right, then moved Zane to the far wall, out of the way of the people scurrying by, and stepped behind him, running his fingers gently through the back of his partner’s hair and removing loose glass pieces. “I’d probably say hop it off,”
he corrected with a barely restrained snicker.
Zane didn’t even try to hold back the snort, his eyes fluttering shut as he felt Ty’s fingers brush his scalp gently. “That’s a good one,” he admitted wryly, moving his arm and dripping blood onto the carpet.
“Quit it,” Ty chastised with another brush through Zane’s hair and another glass shard removed. “You wanna wait for the EMT crew to get here?” he asked. “Or do you want me back at the hotel with a pair of tweezers and some peroxide so we can avoid the possibility of being yanked off this case?”
“Throw in a shower with the last bit and you’ve got a deal. I hate EMTs. ‘Breathe evenly, Special Agent Garrett. ’ ‘Don’t move, Special Agent Garrett. ’ ‘Don't worry, Special Agent Garrett, it only feels like we’re removing your arm with a dull hacksaw. ’”
“Shake a leg then, Special Agent Garrett, before they see you covered in blood and detain you,” Ty said as he took Zane’s elbow and began pulling him down the hallway toward the elevator. The sentiment gave Zane enough motivation to move, despite the painful prickling and sharp jabs, and they made it before any medical personnel made an appearance on the scene. As the elevator doors closed, Zane set his hand against the wall to lean against it and hissed instead, jerking back his hand to pick at a piece of twisted plastic embedded in his palm.
Ty merely watched silently, inwardly wincing in sympathy. “At least you had your back to it,” he offered finally.
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