Cut and run, p.28

Cut & Run, page 28

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series


Cut & Run

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Page 28


  Ty watched the architecture pass by and sighed inaudibly. “We’ll see,” he finally answered curtly.

  Zane turned off the portion of himself that felt bad that he’d apparently messed with Ty’s work. It just didn’t compare to the thoughts and dreams and dying lights that swirled through his mind. He’d need some time to clear those cobwebs away. Then he could get back to work.

  The rest of the taxi ride passed in tense silence.

  y was undeniably pissed off, and he spent the rest of the day distracted by it. The more distracted he became with his and Zane’s little T personal interactions, the angrier he found himself. They had a murderer to find and Ty had the death of a brother to avenge’ he didn’t need to be absorbed in this little fling they had started up. And he couldn’t even shout at Zane to release the frustration anymore. It didn’t seem right after what had happened between them. He wasn’t used to being angry without an outlet, and it was wearing him down.

  They had finally returned to Federal Plaza and given their accounts of what had happened with the exploding computer. They were questioned about the bruises both men displayed, and about why they had left the scene when they knew they would have to be questioned. Ty had been forced to put in a call to Dick Burns in order to get the disgruntled investigators off their backs, and they had been sent on their way.

  The rest of the day had been spent at the hotel, combing over files and notes as they searched for a thread.

  It was beginning to rain once more, the drops hitting the hotel window lazily when Ty finally put his work down and rested his elbows on the table. He rubbed his hands over his face and groaned plaintively. “Did we eat lunch?” he asked sulkily.

  “Nope,” Zane answered distractedly. He’d finally managed to sink himself in autopsy reports a couple hours ago, and that subject matter was more than enough to quash any physical urges; hunger, sex, or otherwise.

  “Can we eat lunch now?” Ty asked sarcastically.

  Zane threw down his pen with a soft sigh. “Sure,” he agreed.

  Ty leaned back in his chair, watching Zane studiously like he would a lion in the zoo. He was irritated with him, for more reasons than the fact that he had been made to leave his site early. Mostly, Ty was irritated because now when Zane did something, he found himself wondering why.

  Pushing the file folders away before scooting back from the table, Zane stretched once he was standing, arms above his head, eyes closed as he rolled his neck. He’d been tense all morning, and sitting hunched over case files all afternoon hadn’t helped either.

  “Want to call it a day?” Ty asked neutrally.

  Zane arched his back and several vertebrae popped. He relaxed in relief before opening his eyes. “I’ll be fine after a break. All this shit is swimming around right now,” he muttered with a wave of his hand at his head.

  Ty merely nodded, watching Zane impatiently.

  Zane returned the look impassively. “So. Room service? Going out?”

  The thought of a cigarette was reassuring, since it didn’t look like he’d be having another fuck anytime soon. The fact that Ty was pissed was pretty easy to decipher.

  Ty pressed his lips tightly together and cocked his head to the side thoughtfully. “Going out could be risky,” he observed in a flat tone. “I haven’t spotted a tail yet, but that doesn’t mean we don’t have one. ”

  Zane nodded absently and walked over to the dresser where he’d tossed the hotel book with the menu in it. He’d thought Ty would want to get out and roam, as restless as the man obviously was. But he’d learned yesterday that there was no telling what Ty would do. Trying to anticipate him was an effort in futility, one that often produced a headache. He paged through the book where it lay on the top of the piece of furniture. Ty’s eyes stayed on him as he moved. He seemed to be waiting for something. The silence stretched thin as Zane did his best to ignore it.

  “Should I go back to my room tonight?” Ty asked out of the blue. “Or will we be able to work together and fuck each other senseless at the same time?”

  Zane jerked his chin around to stare at Ty with wide eyes for a long moment. He opened his mouth to say something and closed it right back before trying again. “I can work with the fucking,” he said. Jesus Christ, he sounded like an idiot!

  Ty snorted. “Good,” he said flatly, the smile dropping again. “As long as we keep it at that, we’re fine. ”

  Narrowing his eyes, Zane turned toward Ty, bringing the menu with him. “Keep it at that?” he asked curiously. Yeah, they seemed to have a hell of a lot of chemistry, and there had been a few scarily tender moments, but 168

  Zane knew better than to read anything into it.

  “Right,” Ty answered, either oblivious to the implied question or not caring to elaborate.

  Rather than pushing for an answer, Zane held out the menu, but he kept his eyes on Ty, watching him.

  “I’ll take what I had last night,” Ty answered as he looked down at the menu and back up at Zane with a small smirk.

  The other man raised an eyebrow, giving Ty a look of wry amusement as he yanked the menu back. “I figured you’d want what you had for breakfast,” he tossed out as he walked over to the phone.

  Ty chuckled darkly, the sound almost disturbing as he sat in the shadowed corner of the hotel room and rocked back in his chair. He watched Zane, tracking him like a predator tracks its prey as the bigger man moved.

  Zane dialed room service and ordered a couple dinners and a dessert—very aware of Ty’s eyes following him. Murmuring a curt goodbye, he hung up the phone and sat back down at the table, pushing folders around and taking the opportunity to look at more autopsy photos before the food arrived. He studiously avoided looking at Ty. It was better for his mental health that way.

  Ty cocked his head, idly wondering why Zane was so diligently ignoring him now. Finally he shrugged it off and pulled out a thick file from the package a courier had delivered from Washington earlier that day.

  Ty had called on a buddy in the main office to search up any unexplained murders in the past ten years, and then had him fax a list. He had picked and chosen from the list of murders, requesting files that could possibly fit their case to try and track the man responsible.

  He also had a stack of files on every agent that had worked in the New York office in the past ten years, including one on himself. He would go through them all after he finished with the old files, and he would make a list of the locations every agent had worked before being assigned to New York.

  All he had to do was find a murder that fit their serial, which was more easily said than done, considering the guy had no MO to speak of, and then match up locations.

  “This shit is easier with a computer nerd doing the work,” he grumbled around the pencil in his teeth.

  Zane glanced up at him and snorted softly, then went back to his notes.

  Ty looked up at him, frowning unconsciously, then back to the file he had in his hand. It was an unsolved murder in Baltimore from roughly five years ago. As he read he began to frown harder and harder. “I know this,” he murmured as he flipped through the pages. “Jesus, I remember this,” he muttered to himself. “January nineteenth,” he continued, not caring if Zane was paying attention to him or not.

  The victim had been found on the campus of the University of Maryland’s School of Law. He had died—after being dragged through the streets behind what appeared to have been a small, slow-moving vehicle of some sort—of alcohol poisoning. The really interesting thing that Ty had remembered from this case was the identity of the victim. He had been rumored to be Baltimore’s infamous Poe Toaster, the man who had, since 1949, visited the grave of the author Edgar Allan Poe and toasted him with cognac. The visits, which had actually been observed by many in the city, had stopped after that year.

  “Find anything interesting?” Zane asked as he watched.

Ty answered with a grunt. A piece of paper had joined the pencil in his mouth, the file spread on his knees, and each hand was holding several sheets of paper as he read over what he remembered. He waved at Zane and pointed down.

  Zane smiled almost fondly before forcing it back, and he pulled the paper and pencil from between Ty’s lips when he stopped at his side. He looked down at the file. “Maryland School of Law, huh?”

  “I remember this,” Ty said to him. “It has all the earmarks.

  Unfortunately it’s just as random as all the new ones. But there was a token left,” he said almost excitedly as he pointed at the notes in the original file. “A quill. We know he was in Baltimore,” he declared in a voice that was almost surprised.

  “If he was in Baltimore at the university, he could very well have applied to the Bureau straight out of school,” Zane murmured. “Or he went into forensics or law enforcement and got familiar with the Bureau just because of proximity. ”

  “We should cross-check all agents who were in Baltimore in ’01,” Ty suggested.

  Zane nodded in agreement. “Sounds like it might be a break. ”

  “Here,” Ty grunted as he handed the file over. “Take a gander. ”

  Zane took the file and moved back to his seat as he began to read over it.

  “I remember that one happening,” Ty told him as he stood up and began to pace. “It was labeled a hate crime kind of thing,” he went on. “You see, the victim was this guy called the Poe Toaster. He was actually the grandson of the original Toaster, the man who would sneak into a graveyard every year on Edgar Allan Poe’s birthday and toast him with cognac.

  Sometimes he left notes. Well, in ninety-nine this new guy started it after his father died, and he left more elaborate notes. One year he said that French cognac wasn’t good enough for Poe; that was right after 9/11, I think, and the French had refused to join the terrorist hunt. Then in two thousand four he left a note saying the Ravens were going to lose the Super Bowl. It pissed a lot of people off. ”

  “God, anything but NFL rivalries,” Zane muttered. “So, alcohol poisoning—that takes a hell of a lot if it’s a one-time thing, especially if he wasn’t an alcoholic. It’d be more like drowning. ” He flipped through the pages, looking for the autopsy report.

  “He was also dragged through the streets,” Ty pointed out. “Left in the snow. But if it didn’t matter who the victim was, like they initially thought, then the death itself is even more important. ”

  “Odd combination of methods,” Zane murmured, reading the report.

  “He wasn’t an alcoholic. His liver was fine. ”

  Ty watched Zane without responding. There were things about this case that were flitting at his mind, like bats around the mouth of a cave. They were driving him crazy, and he couldn’t catch a single one. “Thoughts?” he asked softly.

  “Either someone got him to drink a huge amount or he was injected,”

  Zane said with certainty. He read over the report again. “But no tracks found. ”

  “You think he knew his attacker?” Ty questioned softly.

  Zane’s brow furrowed. “No signs of struggle, except the marks from the ropes used to drag him. No scrapings under fingernails. He was already unconscious when he was dragged. ” Shaking his head, he let his eyes go out of focus. “I bet he did. I bet he knew him. Even trusted him. A friend or colleague. Someone to celebrate with, to drink more than usual with. Slip him a drug to make him pliable and apt to drink even more. ”

  Ty was nodding in agreement. “It’s the epicenter,” he murmured. “I’ll call Burns, tell him to have someone get on it. ”

  “Tell him about the flagging we want done. Require Baltimore—

  hometown, school, even family,” Zane said distractedly, still looking through the file.

  “Uh huh,” Ty responded as he unclipped his phone from his belt.

  As Ty talked, Zane got deeper into the file and, squinting, got up to shift stacks of papers for other case files on the desk. Ty relayed what they had uncovered to Burns as soon as he was assured the line was secure. The man seemed dubious about the Baltimore connection at first, but it didn’t take long for Ty to convince him, Zane noted. As much of a fuckup as Ty seemed to have been in the Bureau, Burns had always trusted him and treated him almost like a son. Zane couldn’t help but wonder why.

  Soon, Ty was off the phone and pacing again. Finally he stopped and glared at Zane. “I’m hungry. ”

  “Mm hmm,” Zane answered faintly, three case files laid out in front of him. Ty frowned and watched him.

  “You find something?” he asked hopefully.

  “No,” Zane said, drawing it out since he was still reading. “I didn’t.

  No struggle. ”

  “What?” Ty asked in confusion.

  “No struggle. No signs of struggle. Sometimes the victims were tied or wrapped up, but there were no bruises, no claw marks, no abrasions. No sign that they fought before they were murdered,” Zane said, frown deepening as he grabbed for another file. “That can’t be right. ”

  “How is that possible?” Ty asked softly. “He can’t have known all his victims. You think he’s using a badge to keep them cooperating?”

  “Why couldn’t he have known them?” Zane asked calmly as he looked up.

  “‘Cause it’d be sorta obvious to his other acquaintances that they were slowly dwindling in gruesome ways,” Ty snapped. “Unless they’re professional contacts,” he corrected slowly.

  “Or a mix. Professional. Personal. Family. Past friends from school or college,” Zane proposed.

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