Cut and run, p.29

Cut & Run, page 29

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series


Cut & Run

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Page 29

  “You know how unlikely that is?” Ty asked dubiously, unconsciously taking on the same tone Burns had with him. “Besides, I don’t care how well I know someone, they start trying to chop me up I’m going to fight back,” he declared.

  “It’s not probable. But it’s possible. New York is a hell of a big city.

  You could have friends in all kinds of places and they’d never know each other,” Zane said, closing the files and stacking them together.

  “Oh, fuck you and your logic, Garrett,” Ty sulked as he began to pace again.

  “Give me geometry any day,” Zane muttered. “I hate algebra. ”

  Ty stopped. “We should check the victims for priors,” he stated. “If the killer’s a Fed, he might be finding his victims through his job. ”

  “We need their workups. Priors, work, church, family, school . . . any one of those could be a connection. Hell, moonlighting. Boyfriend. Knitting circle,” the other agent mumbled.

  “We should also check witness files,” Ty murmured. “They may not have been perps if he was investigating. Could have been witnesses. But no one’s going to convince me that a badge could keep someone from fighting for their life. ”

  “Chloroform,” Zane said suddenly, pointing to the paper in front of him. “The ME notes traces of chloroform in some of the autopsies. ”

  “That’ll do it,” Ty conceded with a frown.

  “Yeah,” Zane agreed, nodding. He jerked a little when there was a knock at the door.

  “I got it,” Ty muttered as he stood and began to shuffle barefoot to the door. The hairs on the back of his neck suddenly stood on end, and the feeling that something was amiss assaulted him like it sometimes had back when he was in the service. He slowed as he neared the door, evaluating the gut reaction to the knock and licking his lips as he hesitated. Finally, he stepped up to the peephole and peered through, his hand on the gun at the small of his back.

  Zane stiffened as he saw Ty reach for his gun, and he picked up his own from the dresser right next to him. He watched carefully, staying just out of a direct line of sight from the door.

  But Ty relaxed as he saw the hotel server outside with the food, and he wondered why he was so edgy. He opened the door and greeted the server without further alarm, and after the food had been placed and the server left, Ty looked at Zane and shrugged. “I’m a little tense,” he admitted abashedly. It wasn’t the first time he had said the words to Zane.

  “More than a little. ” Zane looked at him evenly. “Don’t ignore those instincts. Yours are sure to be better than mine. ”

  “Shut up,” Ty huffed immediately. He narrowed his eyes as he lifted the lid off his plate and he cut a glance at Zane and smiled. “Why do you think I’m sleeping in here with you?” he asked wryly. “’Cause I get skeered easily. ”

  “Thought it was for my scintillating conversation,” Zane said drolly.

  “For your scintillating something, anyway,” Ty responded distractedly as he sat down and pulled his plate to him.

  Zane chuckled and took up his plate, but not until he snitched a fry off Ty’s. He had mozzarella sticks instead of fries. He’d decided spur of the moment to pass on the onion rings. Just in case.

  “Thief,” Ty murmured sulkily.

  Zane winked and held out a mozzarella stick to placate him.

  Ty glared at it stubbornly and then snatched it out of Zane’s hand.

  “Have you noticed anyone tailing us?” he asked before biting off the tip of the mozzarella stick and yipping as the hot cheese hit his tongue.

  “Sure; I just didn’t say anything because I’m an idiot,” Zane answered flippantly.

  “Jesus, you didn’t tell me these damn things were nuclear,” Ty grunted as he pulled the cheese out of the breaded exterior and tried to no avail to shake it off his finger.

  “I figured the fact they were still steaming might be a clue,” Zane drawled.

  “Shut up,” Ty muttered as he shifted in his seat, unconsciously betraying a bit of lingering soreness.

  Zane’s brow furrowed as he watched Ty move uncomfortably, and he blinked when he realized why. He was really hard-pressed not to grin, but his lips still twitched.

  “Stop it,” Ty muttered at him as he tried to eat the cooling cheese off his finger.

  Zane very carefully schooled his face, though his eyes were still bright and dancing. He got the better of Ty so rarely, he couldn’t let it go just yet. “Just let me know if you can’t handle hot and spicy,” he teased, taking another bite of the hot cheese stick. He was probably pushing his luck, but what the hell.

  “Another bad pun, and I’m going to hit you,” Ty warned.

  Zane couldn’t resist. “How do you know I wouldn’t like it?”

  Ty glared at him, pondering that question with narrowed eyes, reviewing Zane’s persistence in that fight. The cell phone at his hip began to ring demandingly, probably saving Zane from another left hook to the chin.

  Ty snapped it off his belt and looked down at the readout. He cursed as he flipped the phone open. “It’s about fucking time,” he groused into the phone as he set his plate down. “Are you Steve Number One or Steve Number Two?” he asked the detective on the line sarcastically.

  “Hey,” the man on the other end of the call protested. “We were just told about you guys, shithead. Don’t start with me. ”

  “We’ve been cooling our fucking heels for days!” Ty shouted as Zane pushed his plate away and got up to head for the bathroom.

  “It’s not my fucking fault you government boys need someone to hold your dicks for you,” Detective Steve Pierce chastised. “How soon can you get here?”

  “Give us thirty,” Ty groaned as he pushed his own plate away and glanced toward the bathroom, hearing the water run. “No. Give us an hour,”

  he corrected as he tried to calculate the afternoon traffic. He got up and began pacing as Zane walked back into the room and began pulling his shoes on.

  Ty exchanged a few more words with Detective Pierce and then ended the call, flopping back onto his bed with a long, heartfelt groan.

  “So. Did they even know we were here?” Zane asked knowingly.

  “Said they found out this morning,” Ty answered dubiously. “I’m really beginning to feel a little like a salmon here…. ”

  “Swimming upstream? Yeah, I get that feeling, too,” Zane agreed as he pulled a plain gray dress shirt over his head and tucked it in. He stilled and looked Ty over. “You look exhausted,” he said frankly. He hadn’t noticed before, but Ty had the look of a man who had been burning both ends of the candle. “Have you been sleeping at all?” he asked worriedly.

  “Don’t take my insomnia personally,” Ty responded wryly. “I don’t. ”

  Zane glanced up. “Insomnia. ” He frowned and went back to his boots.

  “Sorry,” he said curtly. “I’ve heard it sucks. ”

  “What?” Ty prodded as he saw the reaction.

  “What what?” Zane asked, not looking up from his lacing.

  “What was the look for?” Ty asked defensively.

  Zane pushed away the threatening nerves and clamped down on his emotional reaction, one that came to the surface far too quickly for his liking.

  “There was no look,” he said stubbornly.

  “Bullshit,” Ty huffed as he sat back up and leaned back on his hands.

  Zane finished tying off the shoe and started in on the second, deliberately not looking up at all. He wasn’t getting back into all the screeching violins stuff. He’d finally fucked Ty into a somewhat human condition. No way did he want to ruin that. Zane already felt totally off-kilter—something he’d very much like to blame the other man for—and his handle on himself felt shaky. He hated feeling shaky. It reminded him too much of withdrawal.

  Ty picked up a pillow and chucked it at him, hitting him on the top of the head as he bent over. Zane clos
ed his eyes and growled dangerously deep in his throat. Okay, so maybe in human condition was a slight overstatement.

  He kept on lacing. Next thing, he predicted, Ty would accuse him of clamming up again.

  “Fine,” Ty sighed with a roll of his eyes as he pushed himself off the bed. “You wanna have an ulcer at forty, be my guest,” he grumbled.

  “Fuck off,” Zane muttered. He’d missed out on the ulcers by some miracle, but he didn’t remember his fortieth birthday. He wasn’t sure he remembered any of that year, actually. He leaned on his knees and closed his eyes, head bowed. Zane wished he didn’t remember the horrific and heart-wrenching dreams that had plagued him after Becky died. And he certainly didn’t want to try to explain how he’d wished and wished and pleaded for insomnia, time and time again.

  “Oh, Christ, not again, Garrett,” Ty muttered in exasperation.

  “Really?” he asked incredulously. “Do we need to get a shrink in here for you?”

  Anger flared, and Zane stood abruptly. “There’s no goddamn shrink that can help me at this point, asshole. You want to know what I was thinking? I was thinking that there have been nights I would have taken insomnia for a blessing. Now, stick the fucking orchestra and get dressed so we can get out of here. ”

  “Idiot,” Ty hissed derogatorily. “You’re so used to running and hiding from your problems you can’t get your head out of your ass. You’re letting your past run your life, and I’m getting fucking tired of it. ”

  “And I suppose you have all the answers, Dr. Grady? Got that headshrinking degree in your back pocket all nice and shiny? You have no idea what I’ve got in my past to deal with,” Zane growled.

  “And I don’t wanna know,” Ty stated with no compassion. “Past is the past for a reason. ”

  “And some of us had a good enough one at some point to want to remember it, despite all the nightmares,” Zane snapped back. “Until you understand what it means to have your head put in a goddamn blender while you try to hang on to something precious, quit giving me this shit. ”

  Ty gaped at the man, wondering if he even had the right to bring up all the nights of hell he and his Recon boys had gone through over the years.

  If Zane knew the things he dreamed, he might not be complaining quite so much. Finally, he decided that this stupid argument wasn’t worthy of bringing it up, and he waved his hand dismissively.

  Zane blinked as Ty just blew him off. “Un-fucking-believable,” he muttered, turning to start shoving his things in his pockets. He was working with an emotionally stunted asshole. Come to think of it, it explained so much. Zane had to swallow as much on the residual anger as on the pity he didn’t dare let the other man see.

  Ty changed quickly into something that wouldn’t get him kicked out of the federal building. He stood in front of the bathroom mirror and shook his head angrily, muttering to himself. Zane was starting to piss him off again.

  Which was good, he supposed. It meant the urge to lick him all over was passing, at least. He took a deep breath and went stalking back out into the main room and grabbed for his leather jacket. Zane stood at the window, arms crossed, staring out at nothing while lost in thought.

  “Back to brooding, I see,” Ty observed wryly as he patted his chest down, making certain his guns weren’t overly obvious before he shrugged into his jacket. “Better than actively whining, I guess. ”

  Zane was silent for a moment longer before grunting and moving to the table to start stacking folders. “Yeah, well, I guess you haven’t fucked it out of me yet,” he muttered.

  “Gonna take more than I could ever do,” Ty shot back as he gathered his badge and wallet.

  Shaking his head, Zane fell quiet again. He couldn’t keep up the argument if he had any intention of conducting himself properly on the job.

  All it would take would be one good complaint back to Burns about his lack of professionalism. And as much as local cops hated Feds? Zane didn’t want to take any chances. He shoved several files into a canvas briefcase and then reached for his gun.

  It was going to be a long fucking day.

  etective Steve Pierce’s gaze slid from his partner back across the table to Zane. “We’ve been on this case from the beginning. There isn’t Danyone else who can give you more information, and we got none.

  Talk to the coroner, maybe. Or that lady profiler of yours, Scott. ”

  “We’ve spoken to Scott,” Ty told him with a curl of his lip. “We don’t want to be told what’s happened. We want to be told what you think.

  Here’s your big chance to let us know you actually have synapses firing. ”

  The detective leaned back in his chair, eyes flickering from Ty to Zane, sitting across the table from him. He crossed his arms stubbornly and regarded them silently.

  Zane’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly, and he looked away from Pierce, instead addressing Holleman. “You’ve been to all the scenes. Surely you have some sort of feeling worked out about all this. ”

  Ty rolled his eyes and looked away, his attention wandering to the wanted posters on the walls. He despised these men. Cops he liked, on a whole. Sometimes, he thought he would have been better as a cop than a Fed.

  But these two men in particular were complete dicks.

  “You wanna hear my feeling?” Holleman responded with hostility.

  “My feeling is that you people are so concerned with your meetings and paperwork that you’re wasting our time with them. We could be out there right now—”

  “Yeah, you’ve been doing a bang-up job so far, Steve,” Ty drawled without looking away from the nearest poster.
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