Cut & Run, page 20part #1 of Cut & Run Series
“C’mon. Stretch of the legs will do you good since we’re short on other forms of entertainment. I think we exhausted those options earlier this evening. ”
“I’m never short on entertainment,” Ty grumbled.
“But you’re not particularly entertaining. So come on. Maybe we can find an ice cream place or something. ” Zane nudged Ty’s arm with his knee from where he stood next to the bed.
“Ice cream?” Ty repeated flatly as he sat up. “Seriously?” he asked dubiously.
“Yeah,” Zane drew out. “Why? What’s wrong with ice cream?”
“Nothin’,” Ty grumbled. “Hurts my teeth,” he added with a slight blush as he sat back up, his head lowered.
Zane frowned. “You can stay here, you know,” he said. “I just figured you might want a break, too. ”
“I’m coming,” Ty muttered. “I hate this feeling,” he told his partner as he sat on the end of the bed and pushed his feet into his boots. “I hate knowing I’m missing something and not being able to place it. ”
That, Zane could identify with. He nodded and adjusted the straps of his holster once it was over his shoulders, grimacing as it rubbed over sore spots.
“Before we get you ice cream, let’s go over to the hotel room,” Ty suggested suddenly.
“What hotel room?” Zane asked with a frown.
“The last crime scene, where Sanchez and Reilly were staying,” Ty answered as he picked up the fax he had been studying earlier. “This is the list of phone calls made from their room the last few days they were alive. I highlighted everything that’s not delivery,” he said wryly as he waved it in the air.
Zane took the fax and looked it over with a slight grimace. There weren’t many calls at all, and there were only two lines highlighted.
“The first is Tim Henninger,” Ty said with a nod at the paper. “He was their liaison, just like us. The second is somewhere at Federal Plaza, but we’ll need to go there to figure out the specifics of the routing. My guess is they used their cells most of the time, so really the whole list is a big waste of paper,” he went on bitterly.
“What about cell phone records?” Zane asked as he handed the fax back to Ty.
“Another day out, they tell me,” Ty grumbled unhappily. “That’s why I’d like to go to the room, poke around,” he went on.
“’Cause you think something was missed,” Zane inferred.
Ty shrugged uncomfortably and sighed, not looking up at Zane as he stared at the paper. “I’d just like to see it,” he answered distantly, his voice suddenly softer and almost sad.
Zane watched him carefully, remembering that Ty and Special Agent Elias Sanchez must have been pretty close once upon a time. He nodded silently and turned away to pull on his jacket, leaving the other man to his thoughts.
Ty looked up and flushed slightly, letting the fax flutter to the end of his bed as he reached for his holster.
“So, crime scene, then ice cream,” Zane said in a voice that was slightly louder than necessary.
Ty merely nodded and went about arming himself slowly, and then they headed out without another word.
When they got to the hotel room in the Tribeca Grand that had been provided for the two dead agents, they found crime-scene tape still plastered over the door, sealing it. Ty flipped open his KA-BAR and sliced neatly through the tape, and both men pulled on gloves as they entered. It wasn’t really an active scene any longer; it had been kept open simply at their 120
request. Ty knew the manager would appreciate being able to take down the garish yellow tape that caused murmurs and furtive glances when anyone passed by.
The room was dark and almost uncomfortably warm, the curtains drawn tightly and the air vents all closed up. Dry blood still caked one of the beds, and there was another spot on the carpet near the table, where the second agent had fallen. Ty stood in the center of the room, looking around and getting a feel for the scene. He looked back at Zane, where his partner stood near the entry.
“You’re the killer,” he told the man with a point of his finger. “Okay?
Stand right there where the tag is,” he requested, pointing to where the ballistics forensics personnel had pinpointed the killer fired from.
Zane gave Ty a measuring look, but moved to stand just over the little yellow placard that marked the spot. Ty moved to stand near the dried blood on the floor, turning to face Zane.
He cocked his head at him. “Reilly’s in bed,” he said with a gesture to the bed. “And I’m standing here, talking with you about what the fuck ever.
Who do you kill first to minimize chances of being maimed in the process?”
Zane gave the bed a cursory examination, noting the belt holster that still rested on the table beside it. He glanced back at Ty, then around the room briefly. “Sanchez was wearing his gun,” he answered, not seeing the man’s weapon in the room, which meant when they wheeled him out of the room, it had still been on him.
Ty nodded but remained silent.
“So I’d take you out first,” Zane answered without hesitation. He held his finger up like it was a gun and mimicked shooting Ty with it. Then he turned and fired another fake shot at the bed.
“Four shots were heard,” Ty murmured as he turned and looked down at the floor behind him. The blood on the floor wasn’t just a pool, it was a smear. One shot hadn’t killed Sanchez. He had moved, possibly drawing his weapon to return fire as he tried to find cover on the floor. But there were two more bullet holes in the carpet amidst the blood. “He never got off a round,”
Ty murmured to himself.
He closed his eyes, feeling slightly ill. He could see the action as if he had been there. He could see Sanchez, knowing he was going to die even as he pulled his gun and tried to save his partner.
He shook his head and jerked himself away from the visual before he could fall further into it, and he moved around the room restlessly, flipping through the things on the desk, going through drawers, even heading into the bathroom to look at the toiletries the agents had left behind.
Zane still stood waiting patiently when he returned and grunted unhappily.
“They went over this room with a fine-toothed comb, Grady,” Zane said to him gently. “Tell me what you’re looking for; maybe I can help. ”
“I don’t know what I’m looking for,” Ty answered in frustration. He looked around the room and sighed. “I was sure there’d be a token, or…. ”
“Maybe no token is a clue to the killer in itself,” Zane suggested thoughtfully.
Ty glanced at him with narrowed eyes, obviously not following.
“I mean, the tokens have meaning to the murders, we know that. But we also know he killed these two men, and didn’t find the deed worthy of leaving a token,” Zane explained slowly, thinking it through even as he spoke.
“They didn’t fit into his pattern, and so they didn’t get special treatment like the others. ”
“Makes sense,” Ty agreed grudgingly. “But where does that get us?”
Zane shrugged and shook his head. “Nowhere, really. ”
Ty nodded in agreement, looking around the room in disappointment.
Rarely did a crime scene not speak to him in some way. This room, though, was telling him nothing.
“Yeah,” Ty muttered finally as he jerked his thumb at the door. “Let’s go get your freaking ice cream,” he grumbled.
Half an hour, two cigarettes, and some walking later, Zane had his ice cream as they sat in the restaurant. Running his spoon through the classic hot fudge sundae, he looked up at Ty. “Now, this is the way to convalesce,” he said.
Ty gave him a disgusted sneer and a roll of his eyes. Zane sat back with a shrug, dropping the attempt at conversation. A soft chuckle caught his attention, and he looked discreetly to the side to see two men sitting in another booth with a
Zane smiled slightly before turning back to his treat. While it was great to see that, it just made him feel lonelier, just like any happy couple did.
The smile faded and he stabbed at the ice cream. Two co-eds walked by, whispering as they looked at the two men. They shifted their attention to Ty and Zane as they passed by. “God, why are all the hot ones gay?” one asked her friend plaintively, and then they were out of earshot.
Wincing, Zane sighed, finished the sundae, and scooted away from the table without another word, walking to throw away the plastic bowl and spoon. Ty was sure to be pissed off about that, and Zane didn’t want to be in the line of fire. Time for a strategic retreat. Besides, any thoughts combining Ty Grady and the prickling attraction he felt toward him were doomed from the start. It was bad enough being attracted to the asshole, and indulging the idea would just make it worse.
Ty’s shoulders began to tense again as he sat alone at the little table, and he forced himself not to watch Zane move away. When he was younger, Ty had allowed himself to enjoy the company of both men and women, whichever struck his fancy at the time. But all his time in the don’t-ask-don’t-tell environment of the Marine Corps had forced him to suppress many of those feelings. It had left him confused and angry at the world in general for quite a while, but he’d managed to set that aside in order to concentrate on his job. Now, though, the job was easier and so was hiding something like that.
After getting out of the service, he’d tried to convince himself that he was free again, but he’d spent too long pretending to be a person he wasn’t in order to blend into his environment, and he couldn’t shake the habit easily.
The fact that he found himself slightly attracted to Zane Garrett added to the frustration of the situation. It was confusing him again and making him seriously cranky. He hunched his shoulders a little more and crossed his arms over his chest, scowling at anything that moved as he waited for Zane to return.
“Let’s go,” Zane murmured when he got back to the table, still chewing on his own emotions.
“Thank Christ,” Ty muttered grumpily as he stood. Zane didn’t answer, just leading the way out the door and heading back to the hotel silently, long legs eating up the concrete.
After several episodes of having to actually jog to keep up, Ty finally huffed loudly and asked, “What the hell, man? You get your hot fudge and suddenly it’s all hurry up and wait?”
“We’ve got work to do,” Zane answered shortly. He knew he was overreacting, but he needed to get back to who he was supposed to be and forget about who he used to be—who he wanted to be. A man who wouldn’t be afraid to do something about the flickering attraction. That man couldn’t exist anymore. He needed to go back to being the straitlaced paper-pusher Ty first met and insulted. That was safe, and it would get the job done. Christ, was he ever fucked up. Zane wondered if he ought to go see that damn lady headshrinker again. Ty had thrown him for a goddamn loop.
Ty grumbled and jogged again to catch up. “You’re never getting ice cream again,” he muttered.
Zane didn’t object. He needed something to get his mind back on track. Immediately. “One of us needs to go back to the office and find those files I was looking for,” he said as they walked. “I never did call the investigators back about the explosion, and I should check on Henninger and tell him to keep his mouth shut. " His voice was back to the monotone he used in the office.
Ty sighed as he listened. It had been brief and pleasant, but the tolerable partner stint appeared to be over. “You know what?” he hissed finally as he grabbed at Zane’s arm to halt him. “I’m getting pretty fucking tired of the Jekyll and Hyde deal you have going. ” He narrowed his eyes and leaned closer to Zane, looking at him intently. “You’re not still using, are you?”
Face tightening, Zane jerked his arm away. “You have any idea what deep shit I would get in if I was still using? Fuck, no. Although you may drive me to it!”
“Do you really care what kind of deep shit you get into?” Ty asked as he bristled instinctively.
“Most of the time, yeah, I do. So get off my back,” Zane retorted, trying really hard to keep angry from sliding into livid. He turned into a narrow service alley and pulled out his pack of cigarettes in agitation.
“I’ll stay on your fucking back until I’m convinced you’re not going to get me killed,” Ty growled as he stalked after him.
“I’m not the one who fucked over my last partner, now am I?” Zane snapped back as he crushed the unlit cigarette between his fingers and swung around to face Ty.
Ty’s entire façade changed, as if someone had flipped a switch inside him. His body tensed and his eyes grew hard and dark. “That’s got nothin’ to do with you,” he growled.
Zane advanced on him, having already lost too much of his cool to be careful. He got into Ty’s face, both insulted and outraged that the man who 124
was supposed to be his partner could really care less about being so. “Yes, it does, because unfortunately, I am your partner now because the last one apparently couldn’t stand you. And you’re not exactly inspiring any trust,”
Ty’s impressive control over his volatile temper snapped, and he moved automatically, catching Zane on the chin with a quick left hook.
Unprepared, Zane was only able to turn his face away from the impact to lessen the blow, and he stumbled back. He dropped his ruined cigarette as Ty came at him again, and finally reacting, he managed to spin with the next swing and awkwardly jab his elbow against Ty’s side. He connected with the gun Ty had in the holster under his arm and both men grunted in pain.
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