Cut & Run, page 44part #1 of Cut & Run Series
Zane watched Ty walk away with a swirling of confusing emotions.
Fuck, he needed a hit. Flipping his legs out of the bed, Zane headed downstairs, first to the little bathroom under the steps, then to his jacket. He had to get rid of the damn pills or he’d be popping them like crazy—and that would make it so much harder to control himself around Ty. Not to mention royally pissing Ty off.
Ty heard the rustle of the sheets as Zane slipped out, and he stood in front of the bathroom mirror with the damp cloth and waited a few moments before giving into the suspicion and following silently. He took his time getting into his briefs and jeans, hoping he wouldn’t find Zane doing what he thought he was doing. The fact that he was already jonesing was pretty obvious, and Ty knew enough addicts to know that Zane’s stash would be close.
Zane rifled through the jacket and found the tin he carried the pills in.
He didn’t open it, just tapped the tin nervously on the leather sleeve, again trying to make himself get rid of them. He was still there when Ty came up behind him and leaned quietly against the kitchen counter. Zane was so wrapped up in his internal struggle that he didn’t hear Ty, and the tin kept tapping nervously, speeding up, slowing down, speeding up.
Ty watched him silently, frown deepening as Zane continued to visibly struggle with himself.
Zane’s hand shook as it curled around the tin, and he closed his eyes.
He could give it up. He could. It wasn’t his body that wanted the drug. It was his head. He took a deep breath, opened his eyes, and turned, freezing in place when he saw Ty there. Ty met his eyes emotionlessly and then slowly looked down at the tin in his hands.
“Mints?” he asked flatly.
Ty’s jaw clenched and then relaxed again. “Bit early for those, hmm?”
Zane debated explaining—for about two seconds. Instead, he reached out and grabbed Ty’s hand. He set the tin in his palm, curled his fingers over it, and then brushed past him, heading upstairs to the bathroom. Ty watched him go, then looked back down at the tin and pursed his lips. With a sigh, he slid it into his back pocket and headed back up to the bedroom to start getting packed.
Zane turned on the cold water in the shower and sank down to sit on the edge of the bathtub, cursing himself. It should be easier than this. He’d quit before, and it had been much more hard-core shit. These poppers were no big deal.
He climbed into the shower. So why did he feel like he had so much more to lose? The craving for the drugs echoed through his head, the urge to find a drink curled in his gut, and the wish for a cigarette set his fingers to twitching. God, he’d fucked himself up. At the time he hadn’t cared anymore.
He’d figured he wouldn’t last long enough for it to be a problem. Body shaking, he leaned against the wall, fighting for control.
Not much more was said between the two of them until they were at the airport waiting for the commercial flight Ty had hastily booked. They sat in the lounge area of the airport bar and watched CNN, Ty rapping his fingers on the table impatiently.
Zane had been shaky and distracted all morning, nervous and tense as he waited for the other shoe to drop. He was just as twitchy from coming off the drugs as wondering what Ty might do about it. He knew there was nothing he could do to change Ty’s opinion about them, and that was what still bothered him; that he’d damaged Ty’s opinion of him. For Ty’s part, he hadn’t even alluded to the pills Zane had handed over.
Finally, after half an hour of delay and being too restless to keep quiet any longer, Ty looked from the television mounted in the corner of the bar to Zane and tilted his head. “Got any preferences as to where we stay in the city?” he asked flatly.
Zane blinked, pulled out of his thoughts. He glanced to Ty and shrugged. “Somewhere … unpredictable. Queens, maybe,” he mused. “Or Chinatown. ”
Ty nodded and sipped at his orange juice. “Good idea,” he responded, unable to think of anything further to say to the man.
When Ty went quiet again, Zane fell back into thought, trying to focus on his memories about the case, pushing aside his worries. He wasn’t having much success, though, especially with the seeming party in the bar across the room. He winced when a raucous group clanged bottles together.
God, he didn’t want to be here. He wanted to be back at Ty’s apartment, curled up and warm like early this morning.
Ty sat and watched without emotion. He sighed and looked down at his watch, knee bouncing restlessly. “You can still step away from this case,”
he said to Zane softly.
Zane raised his eyes to meet Ty’s. “The case isn’t the problem. I’m the problem,” he murmured, shifting to set his elbows on his knees.
“You’re my problem,” Ty reminded.
“Your problem?” Zane asked, frowning a little.
“If you can’t get your shit together, then you’re my problem,” Ty clarified. “We established before this isn’t a job that can be done alone. ”
Zane’s face went still and he sat up, averting his eyes toward the windows. “I’ll have it together,” he said gruffly. It wouldn’t be pretty inside, but he’d deal with that when he came to it.
“What are you so afraid of?” Ty asked suddenly.
Dark eyes going bleak, Zane didn’t know if he could explain the answer to himself, much less to Ty. “I…. ” He pressed his lips together and tried humor. “Afraid of embarrassing myself?”
“I don’t buy that,” Ty replied after a moment of thought. He cocked his head and looked Zane over carefully. “What is it? Dying? Being alone?
Dying alone?” he ventured sarcastically. “At least those are legitimate things to be afraid of,” he added before Zane could answer.
“I’m not afraid of dying,” Zane murmured. It was the complete opposite, actually. He was afraid that it would be someone else doing the dying. Wasn’t that just all sticky and sentimental, he thought darkly, sending his mood even further down.
“Come on, Garrett,” Ty murmured as he leaned closer. “If we can fuck each other senseless, we can be honest with each other. ”
Zane’s eyes shifted sideways to meet Ty’s and they shifted away just as quickly. When he spoke, it was a bare whisper. “You remember when I said I didn’t give a shit about anybody for five years? And how that had changed?”
“Yeah?” Ty answered questioningly. At the time, he had thought Zane had been referring to the wife he’d lost, but now in this new context he had a sinking feeling that he had been wrong.
A sad smile twisted Zane’s lips. “Becky was killed five years ago,” he mentioned, seemingly offhand.
“That was your wife,” Ty said carefully, getting a little more confused.
“Yes. I never thought I’d care about anyone after her,” Zane answered quietly. “We’d been married almost ten years. It was like half of me was suddenly gone. I can’t explain it any other way. ”
Ty nodded slowly, sliding his plastic bottle top on the table restlessly.
“Go on,” he invited.
Christ. Zane felt like an idiot. “I didn’t care about anybody, even myself. And when I did…. ” Zane’s jaw clenched, and he kept his eyes focused on the window. Anything but on the man sitting across from him. “I let him walk away. ”
Without even really realizing it, Ty had produced the tin of pills in his hand as Zane spoke. He tapped the hollow tin almost angrily. “So, this is you,” he said with a rap, “pining over someone you let get away. ”
Zane glanced over at the table in surprise, seeing the small tin. He looked up at Ty in shock and realized that Ty either hadn’t caught the meaning of his words or simply didn’t apply them to himself. Although he felt relieved, he also felt worse than before. He stared at the tin. “You shouldn’t have brought those here. ” Avoid the question. Avoid the question. Forget about the question, Ty. You don’t want to know the ans
Ty merely looked at him blankly. “Figured if you kept this up, I might need them,” he finally snapped.
“Goddamnit,” Zane hissed, hand flashing out to scoop up the tin. “It’s you, you asshole,” he said.
“What’s me?” Ty demanded defensively. “Give those back,” he added with a hiss and a motion of his hand.
Zane leaned over and grabbed the front of Ty’s shirt, yanking him forward. “You are the one who walked away,” he growled before shaking him slightly and pushing him back into the chair.
Ty’s chair rocked precariously before righting itself again, but Ty never seemed to notice as he stared at Zane with shocked hazel eyes. “What?”
he asked stupidly, his voice hoarse and slightly higher than normal.
“Fuck,” Zane muttered, getting to his feet and pocketing the tin. “I need a drink. ” He stalked off toward the bar. What a fucked-up situation.
“Garrett,” Ty barked after him.
Zane stopped dead in his tracks just four steps away, his body jerking itself to a halt in response to Ty’s commanding voice. He slowly straightened his shoulders and turned his chin to indicate he was listening.
“You don’t need a drink,” Ty said to him in slow, measured words.
Inhaling sharply, Zane held his breath for a long moment as he closed his eyes and dropped his head. His hands slowly rose to burrow into the pockets of the leather jacket, and he just stood there. So, what now? Go forward? Go back? He wished again for the oblivion of too much alcohol—
but Ty’s words echoed through him, and he stayed in place.
“Let me have those pills,” Ty requested after a moment of tense silence.
Zane turned automatically, walked back, and held out the tin, looking everywhere but at Ty. Ty took it, eyes on Zane and piercing through him. He slipped the tin into a pocket inside his canvas jacket and then shifted in his chair. With a long sigh he closed his eyes and rubbed the bridge of his nose.
“So, you’re saying … what?” he murmured finally with a wave of his hand. “You’re in love with me?”
“No,” Zane was quick to insist. “I’m saying that I figured out I cared about what happened to you and then let you walk away,” he answered stubbornly. He had no idea about loving Ty. The whole concept scared the absolute shit out of him, and he simply refused to even consider the possibility. He could care about his partner, though, right? No harm in that.
“Okay,” Ty responded slowly, nodding his head. “So now you’re either trying to push me away or you’re trying to self-destruct,” he ventured.
“Maybe both,” he shrugged as he continued to stare at Zane, waiting for eye contact. “What I don’t get is why. ”
Zane gritted his teeth, then his shoulders and demeanor sagged, and he just looked exhausted. He looked up, and his eyes were filled with resignation. “Can’t exactly pull you closer, can I?” he asked quietly.
There was a long, tense moment of silence as Ty met Zane’s eyes emotionlessly. “Maybe not in public,” he answered finally.
Zane stared at him, silent, and he shook his head minutely. Was Ty joking at his expense? He sounded inexplicably solemn.
“Seriously,” Ty warned, lowering his head slightly and looking up at Zane with narrowed eyes and a barely perceptible twitch of his lips. “Don’t grope me in public. ”
Zane blinked and flinched a little, totally surprised. This wasn’t at all what he’d expected in the way of reply from the man sitting in front of him.
“Okay?” he replied, brow furrowed. He still wasn’t sure that Ty wasn’t yanking his chain. Christ. All Zane wanted was to be able to fuck Ty and make sure the man didn’t get killed. Wasn’t that simple enough?
“Okay,” Ty repeated with a nod. He looked around the airport lounge and then back up at Zane towering over him. “You’re drawing some attention,” he informed his partner casually.
Still not sure what had just happened, Zane shook his head, turned in place, and headed for the men’s room. No liquor, no uppers, and a crackjob partner who Zane couldn’t keep his hands off of. Well, fine. They were just getting used to each other again, right? The insanely satisfying and addictive sex was just a bonus. Anything else he felt was shoved away as far as he could push it.
Left alone, Ty rolled his eyes and sagged his shoulders as Zane walked away. It was far more difficult to deal with Zane when he didn’t have the heart to be an asshole to him.
Zane got to the bathroom and splashed his face with cool water, looking up at his face and the dark circles under his eyes. One night of sleep did not make up for months of deprivation. He realized how shitty he looked; why hadn’t he noticed before? He almost looked like death warmed over. No wonder Ty was worried. Zane splashed more water on his face. He had to get this shit out of his head or he was going to go insane over it.
As he stood over the sink, the loudspeakers in the ceiling crackled to life and announced that the flight he and Ty were awaiting was now boarding.
After one last breath, Zane grabbed some paper towels, dried his face and hands, and left the bathroom to rejoin Ty.
As soon as they got into their seats, Ty turned to Zane with a small frown. “When Burns called you for this, did he ask you if you’d been following the case?” he asked abruptly.
“Yeah,” Zane answered as he pulled out the seat belt and messed with it. “Why?”
“What did you tell him?” Ty asked.
Zane raised a brow as he glanced over at his partner. “I told him no. ”
“Did you tell him the truth?” Ty pressed.
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