Cut and run, p.32

Cut & Run, page 32

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series


Cut & Run

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  As soon as the door clicked, Ty carefully reached his hand up to the back of his head and gingerly prodded at the goose egg there. He winced as pain lanced through his head, and when he brought his hand back to his side it was trembling slightly from the pain. Slowly, he made his way to the bed, and he crawled into it and burrowed under the layers of soft chocolate-colored sheets as he admitted defeat for the day.

  It was only a few minutes before Zane returned. He shut, locked, and latched the door before pulling off his jacket, knives, and gun. He filled the heavy plastic bag that came with the bucket half full of ice and carefully crunched the ice on the carpet, not making too much noise. He wrapped it in a towel and walked to the bedroom. Ty was obviously under the sheets and high-thread-count blankets. Setting the ice pack aside, Zane started peeling back layers. A soft groan met his efforts, and finally he uncovered Ty, who hadn’t even bothered to take off his jacket.

  “Ty,” Zane sighed under his breath. The other man looked miserable.

  “Come on, sit up and get some of your clothes off. You’ll be a hell of a lot more comfortable. ” He helped Ty sit up and started pulling off the ruined jacket first.

  Ty huffed and whimpered softly as the jacket was removed, his sore arm and ribs protesting. “Want out of the rest?” Zane asked quietly as he sat back down at Ty’s side.

  “Fuck,” Ty groaned. “Just let me be miserable, okay?” he requested grumpily.

  “Okay,” Zane said soothingly. “Lie back down and turn on your side—bump up, of course,” he said, smiling a little.

  “Shut up,” Ty huffed even as he obeyed the directive. Zane didn’t answer the barb, instead lifting the ice pack and settling it carefully over the swollen area of the back of Ty’s skull and holding it there. The hair was still matted with dried blood. Ty hissed in protest and closed his eyes, shivering hard.

  Zane rubbed his free hand along Ty’s shoulder and side, just behind the bruises; he didn’t want Ty jerking around in pain. “Want anything to eat or drink? I’m supposed to keep you awake at least a couple more hours,” he said.

  “Ugh,” Ty answered pitifully. All he wanted to do was sleep.

  “I know. Been there. How about you hang onto this ice, and I’ll call out for some room service? Got any favorite foods that might keep your attention?” Zane asked as he clasped Ty’s shoulder.

  “No,” Ty murmured as he closed his eyes.

  Sighing, Zane got to his feet. He snapped on both lamps and turned on the HD television, pumping up the volume on what looked to be a violent action movie. He tugged on the toes of Ty’s boots as he walked by. “No sleeping,” he reminded.

  “Mmkay,” Ty mumbled as he pushed his head under his pillow and promptly began to drift off.

  Zane looked down at him and yanked away the pillow and then all the covers. “Ty, I mean it. Do not go to sleep,” he said firmly.

  “Nap Nazi,” Ty accused miserably.

  “Yeah, sure, hate me for wanting to make sure you don’t go into a coma,” Zane said as he nudged Ty’s lower back. “Now sit up, and don’t 192

  forget the ice pack. ”

  “Look, Florence Nightingale, blasting the TV on a guy with a headache is just cruel,” Ty pointed out grumpily.

  Zane waved him off and walked into the front room to find the menu before returning to the bedroom. Ty sat cross-legged on the bed, but his head was lowered as he held the ice to the back of it, and his eyes were closed. His brow unconsciously furrowed in pain.

  Zane sighed quietly and dropped the menu on the nightstand. He grabbed the remote and clicked off the TV, then sat on the edge of the bed slightly behind the other agent. “Here, let me,” Zane murmured, lifting his hand to touch Ty’s on the ice pack. “Sure you don’t want something to take the edge off?” he asked quietly.

  “I told you,” Ty mumbled, the words barely audible, “if you’re going back there, so am I. ”

  Scooting back a little, Zane pulled Ty back against his chest, still holding the ice pack. “It’ll wait,” he murmured.

  Ty shuddered as he leaned back, but he was too hurt and tired to protest being coddled.

  “Come on, tough guy, I’m sure you’ve had worse than this. ”

  “My head hurts, jackass,” Ty muttered, his eyes staying closed as he rested back against Zane’s chest.

  Zane smiled, knowing Ty couldn’t see him. “Does it hurt worse than your ass?”

  “Shut up,” Ty whined, diving into a sulk like a pro. “Jesus, just stop fucking talking. ”

  Zane chortled. “You can’t win, heads or tails. ” He curled one arm around Ty’s waist to hold him securely. “Buck up, Marine; you’re made of sterner stuff. ”

  “Bite me, Air Force,” Ty groaned as he tried to turn onto his side and curl up.

  Zane grinned and turned so Ty could lean sideways against him. “Tell me something, Ty. How much of this badass bastard is really you, how much is the Marine, and how much is a show?” he asked.

  Ty was silent, the only sound his soft breathing as he lay unmoving.

  Finally, he breathed in deeply and asked groggily, “Are you taking advantage of a concussion to pump me for information?”

  “Damn straight,” Zane said immediately.

  After a long moment Ty simply gave an admiring, “Nice. ”

  Zane smiled a bit and lifted away the ice pack to look at the head wound. “Learned it from you. ”

  “Not a complete loss, then,” Ty murmured.

  “Nope,” Zane said as he turned over the ice and reapplied it gently.

  “Not at all. I would never have thought it, but there you go. ”

  “Hmm?” Ty asked drowsily as the ice started him shivering again.

  “Ty,” Zane said warningly, a little louder. He set down the ice pack, took the other man by the shoulders, and pulled him up into an upright position. He sat beside him as he turned his shoulders and ducked his head to try to catch Ty’s eyes. “Don’t you go to sleep on me. I mean it. I’ll do evil and dastardly things to your body if you do. ”

  Ty opened his eyes wide and blinked the sleep away, giving his head one little shake as he cleared his throat. “You’ve already done that,” he reminded Zane seriously.

  “I’m glad you remember,” Zane said wryly. “You did recently take a knock to the head. ”

  “Just let me fucking sleep, huh? They kept me awake all fucking night, you sadist,” Ty groused sleepily as he closed his eyes.

  “Damn it, Ty, don’t make me shake you. Jesus. All right. Cold shower time,” Zane said, practically dragging Ty with him off the bed and toward the bathroom.

  “No!” Ty cried in alarm as he dug his heels in. “Hell, no!” Zane ignored him, pulling him along into the large tiled bathroom. Ty kicked the back of his thigh and tugged at his arm, determined not to get a cold anything.

  Shamelessly exploiting Ty’s slight weakness, Zane wrapped both arms around him, pulling him against his chest. “Are you awake now?” he asked, trying not to laugh.

  “Yes,” Ty whimpered pitifully. Zane grasped his chin and tilted it up to look at his eyes, looking at the pupils in the brighter light. Ty just blinked at him miserably, allowing the manhandling without so much as a frown.

  “You’re looking a little better,” Zane said. “So no cold shower. But you do get to sit over here and let me wash the blood off,” he said, plucking at 194

  the stained shirt.

  “Peroxide gets the blood out,” Ty offered, not thinking that peroxide would be slightly difficult to come by right then.

  “Sure thing,” Zane said indulgently. “But warm water will be fine for your neck and back. ” Zane led him over to the cushioned chair at the stainless-steel counter and got him sitting before going to the sink to soak a washcloth. “Haven’t you ever had a concussion before?” he asked.

  Ty finally cracked a slightly tired, mischievous smile
and answered,

  “Not that I can remember. ”

  Zane grinned over his shoulder as he wrung out the rag. “Shirt off, please. ”

  Ty groaned, smile faltering as he shrugged out of his bloody shirt with difficulty. He examined it with a distant frown. It was a plain brown shirt with crossed paddles on the front in white. The words read, “Schitt Creek Paddling Co. ” The white of the letters was marred with dried, dark blood stains.

  “What?” Zane asked as he walked over and started wiping the crusted blood off Ty’s neck.

  “I like this shirt,” Ty answered softly.

  Zane looked down at Ty’s hands and just kept wiping. “I’d rather have the shirt be bloody than you. ”

  Ty frowned as he looked at the dried blood and felt Zane’s gentle swipes clean the back of his neck. Finally, he looked down, finding a spot of interest on the floor instead, and he asked, “Were you worried?”

  Zane pressed his lips together, deciding what to say that would offend Ty the least. “Nah. You’re tough. I knew you could handle it. ” But his voice was soft, no edge or joking to it. Ty’s expression was hidden from him, and the only response Zane could see was Ty’s head lowering so the cloth could slide more easily against his neck.

  Rubbing gently, especially close to the wound, Zane took care of the rest of the blood he could reach. At the last moment, he sighed, leaned over, and pressed his lips to the back of Ty’s neck. “There you go,” he murmured, unable to explain the unusual gesture.

  Ty lowered his head further and shivered again, finally turning his head to brush his cheek against Zane’s.

  “Are you cold?” Zane asked, frowning a little, but rubbing his cheek lightly against Ty’s in return.

  “Quit rubbing cold water over me and I won’t be,” Ty murmured in answer, his head turning just a little bit more until his lips moved against Zane’s skin.

  The wet cloth was still warm in his hand, but Zane pulled it away from Ty’s neck anyway, carefully not moving. He closed his eyes as he held still, letting Ty do as he liked. Ty’s entire body trembled as the cool air hit the wet skin on the back of his neck.

  Feeling Ty shiver again, Zane went down on one knee beside him. He wasn’t sure what to think. Zane knew a concussion could make you really feel off—Lord knows he’d had enough of them himself—but the shivering was new. Maybe Ty was still hurting? He had a lot of injuries to deal with, and being in pain could do odd things to your body. “I feel like I’m not helping a lot here. Warm shower?” he suggested

  “That’s a big change from the hard-ass cold-shower threats,” Ty muttered.

  Zane smiled fondly. “Worked, didn’t it?”

  Ty groaned and closed his eyes, leaning over until his chin rested on top of Zane’s head. He closed his eyes, fully prepared to sleep just like that.

  Zane sighed. Ty could be so damn difficult to deal with, mainly because even when he was being stubborn it was almost endearing. “Up you go. You need to stay awake at least another half-hour. Lord. How am I going to entertain you for that long?”

  “Shadow puppets?” Ty suggested as he stood carefully.

  Chuckling, Zane got to his feet, giving Ty some room but staying close by. “How about food? I’ll order us some burgers. We missed breakfast. ”

  Ty frowned as he turned his clunking mind to food. “Sounds good,”

  he said in a slightly surprised voice.

  Zane smiled. “Good. ” He walked back to the bedroom, got the menu, and called room service.

  Shuffling after him, Ty leaned against the door frame and closed his eyes as the room began to spin just a little. He concentrated on Zane’s voice instead.

  Zane hung up the phone and glanced around to see Ty stopped in the doorway. “You okay?” he asked cautiously.

  Ty grunted in response and opened his eyes. “I need to sit,” he admitted.

  “Need a hand?” Zane asked neutrally, not wanting Ty to take offense.

  Instead, Ty just nodded and held out his arm unsteadily. Zane strode over and took his elbow, then slid his other arm around his waist. “Nice, comfortable armchair over here. You can sit and insult me all you like,” Zane said.

  Ty merely nodded, either not hearing or not caring. Zane helped him to the chair, then sat down on the edge of the bed nearby and started unlacing his boots, keeping an eye on Ty the whole time. The other agent wore only a thin undershirt now—and there were bloody streaks along the back of it, as well.

  Leaning back into the deep and surprisingly comfortable armchair, Ty closed his eyes as soon as he saw that Zane intended to remove some clothing.

  He might actually be able to fall asleep while Zane was distracted.

  Ditching the boots, Zane stood up, took two steps, and knelt down right at Ty’s knees, pushing them apart. Ty’s eyes snapped open, and he jerked back as he looked down at Zane with wide eyes. “What are you doing?” he asked in a slightly higher voice than usual.

  Zane looked up at him innocently as he started in on Ty’s cowboy boots. “You want to be comfortable so you can crash after we eat, right?”

  “No,” Ty insisted almost nervously.

  “Don’t be silly,” Zane dismissed, not touching, not rubbing, not doing a single thing untoward as he worked on pulling off the boots.

  Ty closed his eyes and shivered again, leaning back in the chair and slumping as he rested his elbow on the arm of the chair and held his head up.

  Finally, he opened his eyes and watched Zane blatantly, giving in to the fact that he enjoyed it. Zane’s lips turned up as he slid his hands up past Ty’s ankles to pull off each sock, tossing them aside. Then he pushed Ty’s knees a little further apart and leaned forward.
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