Cut & Run, page 49part #1 of Cut & Run Series
Bilingual agents are scarce lately,” he said.
“Oh, yeah,” Ty responded flatly with a little nod as he moved. “That’s very important,” he assured Zane gruffly as he flopped back onto his side and buried his head under his pillow.
Zane chuckled and pulled away the pillow. “Cranky?” he teased.
Ty groaned softly and then huffed in irritation. “Can’t a man sleep in peace around here?”
“Apparently not when he dreams of the desert,” Zane drawled. He leaned to press his lips to Ty’s temple. “Sleep, then,” he murmured.
“I always dream of the desert,” Ty muttered sulkily as he pressed his face against the mattress, refusing to be roused.
Zane’s lips drifted to the corner of Ty’s eye. “Why?” he murmured.
Ty twitched and turned to elbow Zane in the ribs. “That’s where I lived,” he grumbled.
Zane smoothed his hand over Ty’s arm in a soothing motion and turned his face to lay his cheek against Ty’s for a moment.
Ty sighed again and relaxed under the pressure of Zane’s body.
“You’re very high-maintenance,” he mumbled against the pillow.
Grinning, Zane curled his arm over Ty’s back and rubbed slowly over his hip. “Yeah, so I’ve been told. ”
“Shut up,” Ty ordered.
Zane coasted his hand over Ty’s cheek and rolled away. “Sleep, oh cranky one. ”
Ty groaned and rolled back onto his back. “Well fuck, Garrett, I’m awake now,” he muttered disconsolately.
“Sorry,” Zane murmured, letting his arm fall between them and looking down at Ty.
Ty looked up at him in irritation for a moment before letting the façade fall away and smiling slightly. “You’re a damn sight better to wake up to than what I usually do,” he admitted.
Zane smiled crookedly. “And what’s that?”
“You don’t really want to know, do you?” Ty asked dubiously.
“I already know about the woman who was screeching on the phone,”
Zane pointed out.
Ty cleared his throat and looked away, staring up at the ceiling with a frown. “Usually,” he finally said with a scowl, “I don’t wake up to anything.
So, I guess you’ll have to do. ”
“Is there a compliment hidden in there somewhere?” Zane asked mildly.
“Beggars can’t be choosers,” Ty muttered with a small smirk.
Zane whapped Ty’s hip. “I don’t beg,” he asserted.
Ty jerked and laughed softly, turning slightly away in case Zane decided to smack him again. “I beg to differ,” he snickered.
Zane smacked him again, a little harder this time. “I can’t think of an instance. Not a legitimate one, anyway. ”
“What’s an illegitimate reason to beg?” Ty asked as he continued laughing softly.
Zane’s hand stilled, as did his face. His eyes shifted across the room blankly. “They exist,” he said vaguely.
Ty narrowed his eyes up at his companion and then rolled them as he looked away. “Moody,” he accused as he sat back up again and stretched.
“Moody?” Zane’s face scrunched. “I was sort of thinking about the last time I begged for my life and could really have cared less. Just figured if I told you, I’d get the violins treatment again. ”
“You were right. And that’s not an illegitimate reason, moron,” Ty told him as he swung his feet over the edge of the bed.
“I was referring to the ‘could really have cared less’ part, actually,”
Zane said, closing his eyes and letting his head lean back against the wall.
Ty sat with his back to Zane, looking at the opposite wall with his head cocked thoughtfully. “Fuck,” he commented with a slight shake of his head.
Zane opened his eyes and looked at Ty’s back. “Maybe later,” he said as he picked up the file folder again. “Told you I was fucked up while we were apart. ”
“Why not just let them kill you?” Ty asked. “Why beg at all?”
“Gut reflex, I guess,” Zane said quietly. “Didn’t really think about it, except that there was something I’d miss. Was scared, too. Being shot in the head doesn’t appeal too much. ”
“It’d be quicker than a lot of other ways,” Ty pointed out as he turned around slightly and met Zane’s eyes. “I was always afraid of dying slow,” he said thoughtfully.
Zane’s mouth quirked. “I played that game, too. ” He curled his hand into a fist as his fingers started twitching.
“What game?” Ty asked in confusion.
“Figuring out what will kill you slow and easy,” Zane said, opening his fist and rubbing his palm against his thigh. “Pain wasn’t a consideration. ”
Ty stared at him for a long moment. “Why’d you want to go slow?”
he finally asked.
Zane’s mouth quirked. “So I could enjoy it. ”
Ty raised one expressive eyebrow. He licked his lips and looked away. “My daddy used to mind the mines when I was little,” he said suddenly.
“I used to dream that I was stuck down there. I wouldn’t mind freezing to death,” he claimed abruptly. “Going numb and then going to sleep. But I think I’d want it quick. I got too much to look back on and regret to want time to ponder it all. ” He glanced back at Zane. “Just another thing we don’t have in common. ”
“Regrets? Maybe. Sometimes I think I deserve all the shit I went through. Did it to myself,” Zane said. He met Ty’s eyes. “I would think you wouldn’t agree. You don’t seem the type to self-flagellate. ”
“Let’s pretend I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ty responded with a ghost of a smile. His regrets were one thing he did not plan on going over with Zane any time soon. Or ever.
Zane nodded slowly. “All right,” he murmured. It was obviously a topic to avoid. “So you’re saying you think I don’t have regrets?”
“No. Just commenting on the fact that you’d rather have time to linger over them at the end,” Ty corrected. “This is a morbid conversation. What the hell is wrong with you?” he asked in a huff as he rubbed his hands through his hair.
“Me?” Zane asked in disbelief. “I didn’t say I wanted to linger over anything. Just that if I have to die, I want to enjoy it. ” He shrugged slightly.
“You don’t have enough focus to ponder much of anything hopped on heroin.
That’s the allure. ” His hand twitched again.
Ty sighed and looked away again with a shake of his head. “How long ago was it?” he asked tiredly.
“How long ago was what?”
“The heroin?” Ty asked curtly as he glanced back over his shoulder.
“Four and a half, maybe five weeks, I guess,” Zane answered.
“So I’m to assume it wasn’t a constant thing?” Ty asked tightly.
“Since you’re not screaming in pain from the withdrawal, I mean?”
Zane stared at him for a long moment. “No, it wasn’t constant. It was all I had to cut the pain when I got shot. ” His hand went to his abdomen, where Ty knew there was a fresh, barely healing scar. “I know what I can handle. ”
Ty examined him for a long time, and then turned his head to face the wall again. He sighed softly. “Okay,” he finally acknowledged quietly. It just wasn’t worth the fight it could turn into to continue the conversation, and Ty was getting tired of talking about it.
“Did you ever use?” Zane asked, curious.
“Never,” Ty answered immediately.
“But you drink,” Zane murmured, looking down at his hands, wondering if there was any way he could explain so Ty could have some idea of what it was like to be addicted. “Ever drink too much and still want more?”
“Every time I drink too much I swear it off for a week,” Ty muttered.
“But I pick the bottle up the next weekend. The next day. Maybe even that n
Ty turned his head slightly, but didn’t quite look back at Zane. “I understand what an addiction is,” he said in a low, hard voice. “Not everyone is that weak. ”
Zane’s body went totally still. “Everyone is that weak. Even guys who fuck a different woman every night just to forget somebody else. ”
Ty’s shoulders tensed slightly as he looked back at the wall.
“Touché,” he said abruptly.
Zane raised a brow, staring at the other man. “Touché? That’s it? Five months ago you’d have clocked me for that. ”
“What do you want from me, Garrett?” Ty asked in frustration. He turned his head slightly but still didn’t turn to meet Zane’s eyes.
Sitting up, Zane reached for him. “Look at me, Ty,” he said firmly.
Ty glanced over his shoulder, his jaw clenching angrily.
“What were you going to say first? Before your newly installed conscience caught your brain and had you say something else?” Zane asked, fingers tightening.
Ty looked down at Zane’s fingers as they dug into his arm, then back up to look sideways at Zane. “Some creative version of ‘fuck you’, I’m sure,”
he answered tightly.
“Then why didn’t you say it? Christ knows you’ve called me about every name in the book. Why not now?” Zane prodded. If Ty didn’t let some of that anger out somehow he was going to implode. Zane had seen it happen.
Zane had had it happen.
“Because,” Ty answered stubbornly.
“Because?” Zane parroted, refusing to back off. “Think I can’t take it?”
“Are you trying to start a fight?” Ty asked as he shook his arm away from Zane’s grasp.
“Apparently. And you’re determined to sit there all buttoned up and not hurt my feelings,” Zane said, catching Ty’s arm again, this time the forearm. “Let it go. There’s no one here to act for. ”
“How many harsh words will it take to send you into a bottle?” Ty asked as he yanked his forearm away and smacked at Zane’s hand. “Not too damn many, I’m guessing. ”
“How many times am I gonna have to rip down these walls you keep putting up before you fucking pop and go ballistic at precisely the wrong time?” Zane snapped, fingers grasping and tightening despite the smack.
“How long can you keep it all inside? ’Cause believe me, you’ve got no chance of doing it forever. ”
Ty reached for Zane’s hand suddenly, squeezing his wrist to free his other hand. As soon as Zane’s fingers let go, Ty reached out and backhanded him.
If Zane had been a smaller man, he might have fallen sideways under the blow. As it was, his chin snapped to the side from the strength of it, and when he looked back at Ty, he had to lick a trickle of blood off his split lip.
When he spoke, his voice was strong and even with the surety of hard-won personal experience. “If you can’t learn to let go of the anger and frustration somehow, it will eat you up inside,” he advised. “And I don’t mean hiding in the bottom of a bottle or between some stranger’s thighs. ”
Ty closed his eyes and looked away, visibly trying to calm himself.
“I’m sorry,” he finally murmured. He turned slightly and reached back to Zane, sliding his hand against the side of his face as he wiped the blood away from Zane’s lip with his thumb regretfully.
Zane pressed his cheek into Ty’s hand, looking over him with softer eyes, and his mouth quirked. “Well, I deserved it,” he said. “I don’t want you to go through what I did. ”
Ty wasn’t quite sure what to say in response, and it showed clearly on his face. Instead of saying anything, he turned his head and let his hand slide away from Zane’s face. He picked up Zane’s hand and turned it over with a sad shake of his head. “You’re quite susceptible to that move,” he chastised softly as his thumb slid gently over the pressure point he’d utilized.
Grimacing, Zane rolled his wrist. “Yeah. I’ve worn the sheaths so long that I’m not used to having my wrists vulnerable. It’s hard to change a habit like that. ”
Ty hummed thoughtfully and set his hands back into his own lap.
“Where’d the knives come from?” he asked abruptly.
“Jack Tanner,” Zane answered.
Ty raised an eyebrow and tilted his head so he could see Zane better.
“You worked with Jack at the Academy?” he asked in obvious surprise. Jack Tanner was an ex-SEAL, employed by the Bureau to teach agents going through the Academy the basics of not getting killed in hand-to-hand combat.
By the time Ty had gone through, Tanner was old enough and grouchy enough that he didn’t teach classes anymore; he merely picked protégés to run the lessons and supervised them.
Zane smiled slightly and nodded. “I needed the help,” he said.
“Remember me telling you about having to repeat? Yeah. Jack’s the reason I didn’t wash out the second time through. ”
“I didn’t know he did one-on-one lessons,” Ty remarked with a small smirk.
“Only for special cases,” Zane said. “That, and Becky was a really good cook. ”
Ty nodded and looked away uncomfortably. “Jack was always a sucker for a good ribeye,” he muttered.
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