Cut and run, p.38

Cut & Run, page 38

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series

 

Cut & Run
 



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Page 38

 

  “You said it before. Burns put us on this case for a reason; both of us are already fuckups who should have been fired or buried. He’ll keep us on it,” Zane asserted as he studied the other man. “How much is still missing from your head?”

  “Why?” Ty asked defensively.

  “We can use it to our advantage. If you’re off your usual style, that may throw him,” Zane pointed out seriously. “Of course, you might wake up after a thirty-minute nap and be back to your usual irascible self. ”

  Ty stared at him for a minute and then his lips twitched in a half-smile. “Irascible?” he echoed weakly. Rubbing his hands over his eyes with a sudden sigh of frustration, he shrugged. “It’s like swimming through cotton, trying to remember the past couple weeks,” he answered. “I remember some of the smallest details. But other things, bigger things, I can’t recall at all. ”

  Taking the few steps up so he could reach him, Zane pulled Ty’s hands away from his eyes. “Don’t push it—that’s what the doctors told me.

  Trying consciously to remember will just give you a bad headache. ”

  Ty looked down at him, nonplussed. “I already have a headache,” he admitted.

  Zane smiled sadly and looked over Ty carefully, still holding both of Ty’s wrists in his hands. “You look … unwell,” he murmured with a frown.

  “I can’t think,” Ty murmured in response, fidgeting as much as a man could when he was perched on top of a staircase with both hands being held by someone else.

  Zane sobered and watched his agitated movements, slowly releasing his hands so he could pace if he wanted to. “Ty. You’ve got to calm down.

  There’s only so much we can do right now; that doesn’t mean we won’t be able to do more later. ”

  “I can’t,” Ty finally told him with an uncharacteristic show of emotion. He sat down hard on the top step and bent over, placing his hands on each side of his head and squeezing his eyes shut as if he were trying to block out everything. He began to rock back and forth slowly as he spoke. “I can’t concentrate on anything, not when all I can think about is you. And now with this fucking headache,” he ground out in frustration, not finishing his thoughts as he closed his eyes once more and held his head in his hands. “I feel sick,”

  he finally added pitifully.

  Zane’s breath was caught in his chest. This wasn’t what he’d expected at all. Ty was obviously having more difficulty with the concussion than he had been outwardly letting on, and the slip of admitting that he couldn’t concentrate on anything but Zane made his body warm uncomfortably. It was hard to decipher what Ty really meant through the babbling.

  “What do you suggest?” Zane asked softly, trying to stay as detached as possible, at least for a little longer.

  Ty pressed his lips tightly together and breathed out slowly through his nose. “I think I need to request medical leave,” he answered finally, his voice hoarse and full of pain. It was obvious that he had never before been forced to admit he was not physically capable of something.

  The mask broke, and Zane looked stunned. “Ty … I …” He didn’t know what to say. His hands curled into fists.

  “This can’t be done alone; we’ve already established that,” Ty breathed. “And I can’t … think,” he ground out in frustration. “If I request it before they can suspend us, the suspension won’t go in your file,” he added.

  Zane nodded slowly, feeling helpless. Powerless. Again. He lifted both hands and rubbed at his eyes.

  Ty sat there and bowed his head with a sinking feeling. “We both know I’m no good to you,” he said finally. “Hell, I’m light-headed right now. ”

  Dropping his hands, Zane pulled open his eyes to look at Ty. “Lie back before you fall over,” he said quietly, tone soft, even worried. “Please. ”

  Ty tilted his head up, and his expression softened as he looked up at Zane. “You won’t miss me,” he murmured to him softly. He knew it was the right decision, to pull himself off the case. It didn’t mean he had to like it.

  Zane reached down to run his fingers through Ty’s hair, but just as the tips of his fingers touched, the loud clank of the stairwell door being pushed open startled them both and interrupted the tender gesture.

  Ty lowered his head again as an agent stepped into the stairwell, and then he looked up to meet Zane’s eyes again. They looked at each other intently for several heartbeats before Ty climbed to his feet unsteadily and turned to face the man.

  “I need a doctor,” he said hoarsely to the agent.

  “AND I want you both to know this will in no way negatively impact your records. Grady, you’ve been cleared of any involvement in the murder, not that we really expected trouble there,” Assistant Director Burns said as he looked at the two men. He received no answers, much the same as the last ten minutes he’d been talking. “Garrett, you’ve been put back on active duty for immediate assignment,” he continued.

  The two agents in the room with him were about as different as night and day from the last time he had seen them. Ty sat quietly, slightly distant and reserved. He’d been kept at a hospital in New York under observation for nearly a week, diagnosed with a severe concussion and PTSD. When they released him, he’d been flown directly back to DC and driven to this very meeting. Burns noticed that he still wore the little hospital bracelet on his wrist.

  Meanwhile, Zane had been taken straight to Washington to be debriefed over and over as the internal investigation continued. His attitude had understandably been for shit the whole time. Getting him to cooperate with anything had been a fight, but Burns didn’t really blame the man.

  Now, Ty was scheduled for medical review over at Walter Reed in two hours, and looking at him as he sat in his office, Burns wasn’t sure he would pass muster. He had never seen Ty Grady look so defeated. And Burns had his doubts about Zane’s willingness to go back to work at all. Zane stood at the window, staring out with his arms crossed, face schooled blank. Burns suppressed a frown. The Zane Garrett of old seemed to have made a reappearance: dark jeans, T-shirt, black leather jacket, two days without shaving, at the least. Burns could smell the cigarette smoke coming off him from ten feet away. It was only because he’d seen Zane’s medical review the day before that Burns knew the man hadn’t gone back to any more of his old habits.

  It was almost like the two had switched places. He shook his head.

  This had not been his aim when he had paired them up. He should have known Ty could corrupt anyone.

  “Do you two have any questions?” Burns asked. Ty shook his head, and Zane merely stared out the window without responding. Burns sighed.

  “You’re both being reassigned,” he continued. “I’ve not shared the whereabouts with anyone but you individually. If you tell each other, that’s none of my business. ” And Burns would leave it at that. He looked between them one more time. Neither man spoke. “Well. I have a meeting downstairs.

  Take care. ” And with that he departed, leaving them alone in the room when the door clicked shut behind him.

  Ty sat staring at the floor listlessly, unable to look up at Zane as he sat with his knee bouncing. Zane didn’t move from the window, and silent minutes passed. It wasn’t tense. It was just empty.

  “You wanna know where I’m going?” Ty finally asked, doubt clear in his voice.

  Zane didn’t turn from the plate-glass window. “Medical leave.

  They’ll poke and prod and pick your brain apart at Walter Reed and a few specialty places for a while, then send you off to another city; Norfolk maybe, Atlanta. Possibly back to Baltimore. To live quietly for a predetermined amount of time and see a doctor three times a week,” he said in a monotone.

  He knew the drill; he knew it too well.

  “Guess that’s a no, huh?” Ty affirmed flatly. He cleared his throat and stood, taking his cues from Zane and not asking where the other man was being sent.
Well. Probably for the best, right?” he muttered as he shrugged into his coat carefully. His ribs were still tender even after the weeks that had passed. “Good luck, Garrett,” he offered with a small sigh, not allowing himself to think about why he regretted this ending.

  “Get better, Grady. The Bureau needs you,” Zane said, not moving.

  He tried to decide why this hurt so much. They’d known each other barely a week. Granted, they’d screwed each other like crazy. But why did this feel so wrong?

  Ty watched him for a moment, a sinking feeling in his chest as he realized that Zane didn’t even intend to fucking turn around and say goodbye.

  He moved silently toward the door, worn boots soundless on the industrial carpet.

  “Ty—”

  Ty stopped with his hand on the doorknob, turning to look back at Zane.

  He had turned around to look at him, and some of the cold was out of his demeanor, revealing a hint of unusual vulnerability. “You said I wouldn’t miss you. ” He drew in a long breath, and his voice was even quieter when he spoke again. “You were wrong. ”

  Ty was silent, unmoving as he met Zane’s eyes across the room. “I was wrong about a lot of things,” he said finally, his voice soft and wistful.

  He turned the knob and quickly slid out of the room.

  Turning back to the window, Zane leaned his forehead against the glass and closed his eyes.

  he motorcycle sped down the well-lit freeway, far above the speed limit, the hunched figure aboard shrouded in black leather and a full-T face helmet. The bike swerved through traffic, darting around cars and trucks without a hint of hesitation before exiting and rolling to a slower speed at the bottom of the ramp.

  The bike sped up again as it entered an older, run-down, darker part of town, where the city rotted from the inside out. The rider guided it down a maze of streets before stopping in front of a small warehouse. With the hit of a button, a large bay door opened, and the rider steered the bike inside before the door closed behind him.

  Once the bike stopped, the rider stood up and swung his leg over, leaving the keys in it as he walked over to a scarred table. He pulled off his helmet and set it there before looking around.

  Zane had been in Miami almost four months, working the inner city, trailing down some major drug deals with quite a bit of success. A lot of it was sheer cussedness and bravado; his Bureau contact had already warned him to be more careful three times. But safety didn’t matter to him, as long as he got the job done.

  He tossed his gloves next to the helmet and unzipped his jacket as he walked further into the warehouse toward a loft. He climbed the steps, tossing the black leather over the railing, revealing a skin-tight, sweaty T-shirt, covered by a double shoulder holster, and sheaths holding wickedly sharp knives with well-worn handles at his wrists.

  After disarming but shoving one gun in the back of his waistband, he went to a cabinet and looked tiredly over several bottles—many empty—and pulled out a half-empty one of rotgut tequila. He screwed off the top before he shook a cigarette out of a crumpled pack. He collapsed on the lumpy couch, lit up, and took a long pull of the harsh liquor, leaning his head back to stare at the ceiling and lose himself in his vices. It would be a lonely, silent, hot night.

  TY sat on the balcony of his row house in Baltimore, smoking a Montecristo No. 4 Reserva and blowing smoke rings into the starless sky. The cigar was a limited production (only 100,000 had been made down in Cuba), and they were packaged in sleek black boxes of twenty cigars, each box labeled with a gold number between 1 and 5,000. In the back of Ty’s closet, he had five boxes in a safe, numbered 12 to 16.

  It was good to have resourceful friends stationed at Gitmo.

  “Ty?” a woman’s voice called from inside the bedroom. “If you don’t come back to bed, I’m leaving. ”

  Ty lowered his head and tapped the tip of his finger on his beer bottle.

  “I mean it, Ty. I’m going home. ”

  Another smoke ring drifted its way toward the clouded moon, and somewhere in the city a horn honked angrily.

  “You shithead!” the woman called. “I fucking knew this was a mistake,” she mumbled to herself as the rustling of sheets and clothing drifted out to Ty’s ears. A few moments later the front door slammed shut.

  Ty sighed heavily and inhaled the cool air with its hint of fragrant cigar smoke. He sat with his bare feet propped on the railing, nothing but a worn pair of sweatpants protecting him from the chill, and he watched the sun rise silently.

  It had been almost four months since his medical leave had been granted. He had been evaluated—both for his injuries and for what had been deemed severe exhaustion and shock—observed, treated, treated again, observed some more, and finally given three weeks of vacation to “get his head back on straight. ” He had another thirteen days of nothing to do but barmaids. He might actually go crazy before then.

  ZANE pulled off his jacket and threw it to the floor, stamping up the steps to the loft and making for the bathroom. He flipped on the light and turned toward the mirror to look at the angry, bloody gash across the meat of his upper arm.

  He muttered in harsh Spanish. Fuckers. Taking potshots at him like that when he’d delivered what they wanted and more. He’d taken more satisfaction than usual beating the shit out of a couple of them before he called in the cavalry to arrest the whole lot of them.

  He hissed angrily as he poured peroxide liberally over the gunshot wound, covered it messily with antibiotic cream, ignoring that it was still gaping and bleeding, and wrapped it up. He walked toward the kitchen, still muttering angrily as he slid a cigarette between his lips.

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