Cut and run, p.50

Cut & Run, page 50

 part  #1 of  Cut & Run Series


Cut & Run

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  Zane tipped his head. “Another story there?” he asked.

  “There’s always another story somewhere,” Ty answered vaguely.

  “Like why you want it to end quick,” Zane said, deciding he’d pushed enough. He already knew more about Ty’s past than Ty knew about his. He supposed he was lucky in that respect. Sighing, he rubbed his eyes. “Going numb and then going to sleep,” he agreed finally. “I guess that appeals to a lot of people in our line of work. We’re more likely to be beaten up, shot, knifed, blown up, hit by a car, tortured…. ”

  Ty merely nodded distantly, his head slightly turned as he stared out the window.

  “Why’d you take this job?” Zane asked curiously. “After they ran you out of Recon? Why not tell the government to take a flying leap and buy a coal mine?”

  Ty scratched his chin and cocked his head. “’Cause I was afraid of the coal mines,” he answered curtly.

  “I knew you were a smart man,” Zane said.

  “Doesn’t take a smart man to be afraid of the coal mines,” Ty responded seriously.

  “What does it take? For you to be afraid?”

  Ty turned his head quickly and frowned at Zane. “You don’t think I’m afraid?” he asked.

  “If you aren’t, then you’re way beyond fixing,” Zane claimed. “I want to know what makes you afraid. I’ve seen it, a few times, in your eyes. On your face. But I couldn’t figure out why. Not really. ”

  Ty shrugged and looked away before Zane could see anything else in his eyes. “I don’t know,” he answered defensively. “Normal things, I guess. ”

  “Ty,” Zane said quietly, seeing the evasion for what it was.

  “What?” Ty huffed.

  Zane sighed and shook his head, but he had to laugh just a tiny bit. “I don’t think I have ever met someone as stubborn as you. ”

  “Shut up,” Ty said uncomfortably.

  “It’s not an insult. Hell. ” Zane sighed and leaned back against the headboard. He watched Ty for a long minute. The man looked antsy and unable to settle. On edge. “Ty, chill. ”

  “You woke me up,” Ty said accusingly. “Why do you want to know?

  What does it matter what I’m afraid of?” he asked, obviously unable to let the conversation go.

  Zane blinked in surprise. “It matters to me,” he said quietly. “I want to know. So I. . . ,” His voice trailed off and he swallowed. “So I can protect you. ”

  Ty sniffed. “Protect me from being afraid?”

  “Protect you when you’re afraid,” Zane corrected.

  Ty muttered quietly to himself and shook his head. “Okay,” he finally ground out. “You want to know what I’m afraid of?” he asked as he turned his head slightly and looked back at Zane. “I’m afraid of small spaces,” he said as he raised his hand and began counting off with his fingers. “I’m afraid of small, dark spaces. I’m afraid of small, dark spaces with bugs and/or rodents in them. And I’m afraid of falling when my ass isn’t attached to a parachute.

  Satisfied?” he asked sarcastically.

  Zane refused to be baited. “Thanks,” he said simply, just watching Ty, wondering what was making him so cranky. He’d tried picking a fight; he’d tried reasoning with him. But Ty was still tense, unwilling or unable to just let the frustration go and shout at him. “Do I still make you that uncomfortable?” he asked, sounding forlorn. “After all we’ve done?”

  Ty closed his eyes and raised his chin slightly, sighing quietly. “A little,” he admitted. “I’m not used to answering questions, okay?” he explained defensively. “I just . . . it’s just weird for me. ”

  Zane nodded from where he leaned against the headboard, and a bit of his own tension seeped away. “Come here,” he requested, reaching out an arm.

  Ty glanced over at him to see if he was making light. When he didn’t see any signs of joking he narrowed his eyes slightly. “Fuck off. Priss,” he offered with a small smile.

  Zane’s eyes sparkled and he laid his hand over his propped-up knee.

  “Who are you callin’ Priss, Mr. Suited Up and Shiny?” he taunted.

  “If this is going to resort to name-calling, I’ve already got you beat, Spanky,” Ty warned with a smirk.

  “How do you figure that, Jarhead?” Zane replied.

  “’Cause I rock,” Ty explained in an even voice. “And you don’t,” he continued as he pointed at Zane, pinky finger held out to the side daintily as if he were drinking tea.

  Smirking, Zane sat up, grabbed Ty and dragged him down onto the bed and under his bigger body. “I’d poke you, but you’d beat the shit out of me. ”

  Ty flailed briefly before he was pinned, and he blinked up at Zane suspiciously as he flexed his fingers under Zane’s grip. “Power trip,” he accused softly.

  Zane waggled his eyebrows. “I gave you a chance to come peacefully. ”

  “You’re easily distracted, aren’t you?” Ty deadpanned.

  “Not really,” Zane said smoothly, dragging one hand down Ty’s chest. “I’m still focused on you. ”

  Ty shivered as Zane’s fingers raised goose bumps all over his body.

  “And that is the crux of our problem,” he reminded softly.

  “Problem?” Zane echoed, his hand continuing its descent.

  “All kinds of problems,” Ty affirmed. He reached up with the hand Zane had left free and smacked the bigger man gently on the side of the head.

  “Focus,” he chastised.

  Zane screwed up his face before looking down at Ty seriously.

  “You’re not a problem. Not to me. ”

  “Sure I am,” Ty argued. “We know the bare minimum about each other, and correct me if I’m wrong, that’s just the way we want it. We know we want to take each other to bed, but we don’t have much else to go on. To me, that spells all kinds of problems,” he pointed out gently. “I didn’t say I was complaining,” he added.

  “Grady. . . . ” Zane groaned and rolled to his side, then curled one arm around his partner’s waist. “I’m not trying to pick a fight here, but what do you propose we do about it? Neither one of us is all that good at talking. In fact, I’d say we suck spectacularly at talking. ”

  “How about you stop asking so many questions,” Ty suggested. “And I’ll start giving a damn when you look like you need a hug,” he added cheekily.

  “You already give a damn,” Zane chanced.

  Ty merely smiled, his lips twitching as if he was trying not to. Zane grinned and stole a kiss.

  “Shut up,” Ty muttered before jabbing Zane in the ribs gently and rolling out of his grasp.

  Restraining the urge to yank Ty back into his arms, Zane instead let go and just lay there watching him. Ty sat up and swung his legs over the edge of the bed, then cocked his head and stared at the far wall thoughtfully.

  “What are you afraid of?” he asked after nearly a minute of silence.

  That silence extended as Zane struggled with what to say. “Not being there,” he finally murmured.

  Ty turned his head slightly to look back over his shoulder. “Not being where?” he asked in confusion.

  Zane looked haunted. “I wasn’t there when Becky was killed. I wasn’t there when my first partner went stupid and drove home drunk. And I lost them both. ”

  “Yeah?” Ty responded unsympathetically. “I was there when my partner was shot and killed,” he said quietly. “I even took the bullet just like he did,” he said as he pointed to the spot low on his abdomen where a scar told the story of a through and through. “Still didn’t do him a damn bit of good. Just ’cause you’re there, doesn’t mean it’s any less tragic. ”

  Zane closed his eyes and shrugged a little. “If I’d been there, I might have been able to do something. But I wasn’t, and I lost them. ”

  “And if you’d been there,” Ty said softly, “I would have lost you. ”

>   Zane slowly opened his eyes to look at Ty’s back as his breath caught. “I’m not letting you walk away again,” he said to him thickly without thinking about it first.

  Ty gave a lopsided shrug and then nodded, not turning to look back at Zane. “It’s debatable, who walked away,” he said softly.

  Zane drew in a deep breath, held it, and let it out slowly. “We . . .

  couldn’t have done this then. We didn’t know. . . . ”

  Ty nodded thoughtfully as he finally turned to look Zane over, but the look on his face clearly said that he might disagree.

  “How?” Zane asked, tilting his head to one side.

  “How what, Chief?” Ty asked softly.

  “How would it have worked?”

  Ty pursed his lips and shrugged again. “Same way it is now, I guess,”

  he answered, displaying the sort of nonchalance with which the Ty of old had always handled emotional situations. “Except without the drinking and drugs and copious amounts of anonymous sex, I’d imagine,” he added with a cock of his head.

  Zane’s lips twitched. “Anonymous sex? I thought you knew all those women. ”

  “Well, I did after a few minutes,” Ty pointed out with a hint of a blush.

  A smile broke free. “You did better than I did, then,” the other man muttered, though he wasn’t at all self-conscious about it.

  “I don’t wanna know,” Ty said immediately, closing his eyes and shaking his head.

  Zane chuckled and swiped playfully at Ty’s arm. “Come here,” he said again. “We can sleep until Henninger calls. ”

  “You sleep, I’ll wake you up during the middle of a dream,” Ty promised crankily.

  “You were having a bad dream!” Zane insisted.

  “You know what I ain’t afraid of?” Ty asked. “Bad dreams!” He swatted at Zane’s grasping hand and then began crawling toward him slowly.

  “Dreams mean I’m sleeping, and sleeping means I ain’t laying awake trying to get to sleep. Understand?” he asked as he got right in Zane’s face and brushed his nose against Zane’s.

  “I understand,” Zane repeated dutifully, rubbing the tip of his nose against Ty’s before lifting just enough to press a soft kiss against his lips.

  “First night I slept without passing out drunk in four months was that night at your place,” he said, his voice barely audible.

  Ty closed his eyes and sighed quietly, deflating a little just before he clambered to the side and flopped down beside Zane.

  Zane knew Ty didn’t want to hear it. But he’d said it to him anyway; the closest he could come to communicating how much he felt he needed his partner. He shifted and lay along Ty’s side, letting his eyes close while he just focused on feeling him close.

  Ty’s arm snaked around him, pulling him closer. “After this case is over,” he said quietly as he stared up at the ceiling and idly twirled a lock of Zane’s hair, “promise me you’ll get help. ”

  Zane inhaled and exhaled slowly. “I promise,” he whispered.

  Ty merely nodded his head almost indiscernibly and continued to play with Zane’s hair. “So, what exactly was the point of waking me up and picking a fight?” he asked finally.

  “Hmmm?” Zane grunted. He knew full well what Ty was asking about. For now, Zane was just pleased to have the cranky, gruff Ty back. He could relate to him. This Ty didn’t scare him and make him feel incredible, baffling emotions he’d tried to shut away.

  Ty rolled his eyes and shook his head again. “Asshole,” he accused almost fondly. He was unable to stay quiet for long. “I mean,” he said pointedly, “I know why I poke you. But where’s the fun in poking me? Why start arguments just for the sake of fighting?” he demanded.

  Zane opened his eyes. He considered teasing, but thought it might be bordering on cruel at this point. “You’re more yourself now than you’ve been since I saw you again,” he said seriously.

  Ty blinked up at the ceiling. “What the hell?” he finally asked.

  Raising an eyebrow, Zane raised his head and rested his chin on Ty’s chest as he looked up at him. He didn’t answer, though.

  Ty narrowed his eyes again and sighed heavily. “You’re trying to drive me crazy, aren’t you?” he finally asked.

  “Depends, I guess,” Zane said. “If it helps you shake off that damn conditioning, I’ll do whatever I have to. ”

  Ty cocked his head and frowned. “Conditioning,” he muttered.

  “ ‘Proper behavior’?” Zane said, sounding like he was parroting from a doctor. “All those things the shrink told you were the right things to do when you actually felt emotions?”

  Ty’s eyes narrowed even further and he growled softly in the back of his throat.

  Zane considered carefully what to say. “There’s a piece of you missing. Or that you’ve buried. One that I think we’re going to need for this case. ”

  Ty was silent as he pushed Zane off him and sat up, leaning against the headboard and staring at his partner expectantly.

  “Don’t you think so?” Zane asked evenly, watching Ty intently.

  “So you’re trying to egg me on,” Ty responded without answering.

  “Make me cranky and somehow use me to solve an unsolvable case. What the hell are you, Zane, a Little Rascal?”

  Zane’s eyes flashed with a little temper before calming, and he sat up to look over at the other man. “It’s your passion that’s missing, Ty. You want to solve the case. You desperately want to catch a break on it. But that drive you had … I just don’t see it. I mean, for Christ’s sake, you figured out the pattern the guy follows! That drove you insane when we were here before, but now you don’t even seem to give a damn!”
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