Cut & Run, page 59part #1 of Cut & Run Series
Ty looked back up at him with open desperation, as if he were begging Zane to tell him what to do.
Pure joy swelled quietly inside Zane. “You don’t want to go,” he realized, lifting his hand with difficulty to brush Ty’s cheek.
“Not right now,” Ty whispered in something close to outrage. “What, you thought I’d just leave your sorry ass after all this?” he asked incredulously.
Zane shook his head slowly, smile reappearing. “Sorry. Little slow.
I’ll blame the drugs they gave me to counteract the drugs,” he murmured. He didn’t have to be scared. All of a sudden it was easy to accept that. “You care about my sorry ass,” he added quietly, turning eyes that spoke volumes on Ty.
Ty was silent, his knuckles turning white as he clasped his hands together. “I do,” he finally agreed. “And stop forgetting it,” he chided gently.
Rather than replying right away, Zane turned his head fully to the side so he could rest and watch Ty at the same time. He studied the bed hair and the thinner face, dark with stubble. He realized Ty must have come straight here from being released. But to Zane, he was gorgeous. “Okay,” he agreed, then licked his lips. “So they’re sending you off somewhere?” he asked, back to the “they. ”
“Lecture circuit,” Ty answered bitterly. “Again. ” He looked away and then lowered his head, blushing deeply. “They can’t put me on a case until …
they’re sure I won’t freak out in the dark. ” He sighed and closed his eyes, unable to look back up. “They had to leave me a nightlight,” he admitted sheepishly.
“C’mon and look at me, Ty,” Zane murmured.
Ty didn’t respond, other than to open his eyes. He stared at the thin blanket over Zane’s body for what seemed an eternity before slowly raising his eyes to meet Zane’s.
“You’re a brave man,” Zane rasped. “I hope that the next time I’m with you and it’s dark, you’ll let me hold you,” Zane said.
“You’re gonna have to,” Ty responded in a broken laugh, “ ’cause all the current evidence points to the fact that I’ll cry like a little girl. ”
“That’s okay,” Zane murmured without humor, raising his left arm so he could stroke Ty’s cheek gently with shaking fingers. “Still want you. ”
Ty glanced over his shoulder nervously and then back at Zane guiltily.
Zane smiled. His eyes flickered to the empty doorway and back.
“Don’t worry,” he said softly. “There’s no one watching. ”
A pained look came over Ty’s face before he looked away again.
Zane nodded, relaxing some against the pillows. “I understand,” he said gently. He didn’t have the years of habit to break. He lowered his arm and rested it on the bed again. “When do you leave?”
“Now,” Ty murmured, unable to look up.
Zane’s breath caught for a long moment until he forced himself to exhale. There wasn’t anything else to say, then. And nothing else to be done.
One more time, he’d have to watch Ty walk away, and he couldn’t do anything more about it than last time. “Quick kiss before you go?” he requested, knowing it would be hard if Ty was truly as on edge as he was acting.
Ty closed his eyes and shivered. “I do want you,” he whispered. “I want you to find me, as soon as you’re free,” he murmured as he looked up.
Zane nodded and watched the battle warring in Ty’s expressive hazel eyes. It hurt more than he would ever have expected. “Take care of yourself,”
he said, exhaustion breaking past his bold front.
Ty reached impulsively and smoothed Zane’s hair back from his forehead. He stood, bending over him to press a kiss to his forehead. “We can still cut and run,” he whispered against the warm skin.
Swallowing hard, Zane shivered as hope shot through him. Hope for something other than the occasional flyby as they passed each other by while working. He had to try to ignore the twang he felt at the thought of leaving his hard-earned and well-loved job behind.
“Just say the word,” he said thickly.
Ty closed his eyes, his fingers tightening in Zane’s hair. He was proposing they both give up a job they loved, give up everything either of them knew. “We can open up a flower shop and sell black-market orchids from the back,” he offered with a slight hitch in his voice.
Zane smiled at the flash of humor, though he knew it was Ty’s defense mechanism. “Just say the word,” he repeated quietly, though he knew Ty never would, and he wondered what he himself would do if it ever came to that. “Go on. Go, while I’m too drugged to stop you. ”
“Even if I quit now, I couldn’t stay here,” Ty responded almost defensively, as if trying to convince himself to go. “I couldn’t stay with you. ”
Calm in the face of Ty’s struggle, Zane nodded. “You’re right,” he said evenly.
Ty moved quickly and pressed a kiss to Zane’s lips. “Be careful, Zane,” he breathed, then stood and swiftly walked away from the hospital bed, not looking back as he disappeared through the door.
THE motorcycle sped along Interstate 35 under the bright sunlight, skillfully handled by the rider in brown leather and a full-face helmet. The bike moved steadily through the thin traffic. The rider reached out and thumbed a button when the headphone in his helmet beeped for a phone call.
“Garrett,” he shouted over the roar of the engine.
“Special Agent Garrett. ”
Zane blinked and looked from side to side as he gunned the bike to speed up. “What do you want, Burns? I’m on vacation. ”
“Yes, I know. Five months of Miami earns you three weeks of vacation. How are you, Zane?”
Even more surprised to be called by name, Zane tilted his head. “I’m good,” he answered cautiously.
“Where are you, pray tell?”
“Home,” Zane answered slowly.
“How is Texas? Sunny?” Burns asked politely.
“No, we’re in the middle of a blizzard,” Zane deadpanned.
“Well, your wit is still as sharp as a broken toothpick,” Burns said with a sigh. “Vacation is over in four days. I want you here in DC on the fifth. ”
Zane pressed his lips together as he guided the bike off the interstate onto a lesser highway. “You’re the boss,” he finally said.
“You’re not going back to Miami,” Burns said placatingly.
“Miami’s a cesspool,” Zane muttered, unconsciously repeating a sentiment said to him what seemed like years ago.
“Be here in five days. The Bureau will pay for transport, if you like.
Get your head wrapped around the idea of a few easy assignments and a new partner while you’re at it,” Burns instructed.
Zane’s gut clenched painfully. “I’ve told you. I don’t want a new partner. What happened to my old partner?”
Burns usually blithely ignored him when he asked about Ty, but now he cleared his throat and said, “That’s classified. See you in five days, Special Agent Garrett. ” And the Assistant Director hung up.
Zane had to force himself to pay attention to traffic as his stomach roiled. He didn’t want another partner. He only wanted Ty.
God. Ty. Almost six months had passed, and not a word. Not a message. Nothing but blind hope to keep him going. Work made it easier to forget. But after the second time being injured in Miami this past tour, Zane snapped out of the dangerous, depressive funk and figured out he had better listen to Ty’s request for him to be careful or he’d cut his chances of seeing him again to nil. He put in the vacation and transfer requests, and for the first time in five years, went home to Texas.
The last three weeks had been full of memories; old and new, good and bad. Ty was always there, on the edge of his periphery, and Zane felt like a part of himself was missing. What were the chances Burns would put him back together with Ty? Zane figured on absolutely none, and that was optim
The bike sped out of the city and into the flats, giving its rider time to think.
TY sat at the end of the bar, watching the Orioles get the shit kicked out of them again and drinking a Sam Adams fresh out of the tap. He knew the bartender by name. He knew the waitress by name. He knew the drunk dude throwing darts at the public health poster in the corner by name. He had spent a great deal of time in this bar.
“Want another basket, sweetie?” Cindy asked him as she leaned against the bar next to him, a tray of dirty glasses and empty beer bottles resting on her hip.
Ty glanced at her and shook his head, offering a weak smile. He slid the empty basket of chips toward her, and she smiled at him as she took it and went on her way. Ty looked back at the television, watching but not seeing.
The Orioles were just painful this season. Finally, he drained his beer, setting the empty glass down with a clunk and slapping down a fifty with it.
He waved goodbye to all the people who thought they knew him and stepped out into the warm night air. He sighed and turned away from the corner where the cabs frequented, walking instead toward his row house near Fell’s Point. It was a long walk, but Ty didn’t mind it. The walk helped quell the part of him that prayed one of the cars racing along the narrow roads would just hit him as he shuffled across the street. Life was no fun anymore.
The job was no fun anymore. The bad guys kept getting away, and shooting them wasn’t worth the paperwork. He couldn’t even watch baseball without feeling the need to slit his wrists.
Fucking stupid O’s.
He had tracked Zane right back to Miami, to an undercover job where Ty couldn’t possibly contact him. They couldn’t have sent him back down there unless he had accepted the assignment, and Ty was left with nothing but to wonder why Zane would do that.
The cell phone in his back pocket began to vibrate as he walked slowly behind a couple out enjoying the night. Ty growled under his breath and then reached back for it, flipping it open and answering with a negligent,
“Stop walking,” the voice said on the other end of the call, “and wait for your ride to pick you up. ”
Ty stopped dead in his tracks and swallowed heavily, resisting the urge to look around. “You’re having me followed?” he asked incredulously.
“Only when you’re thinking about going AWOL,” Assistant Director Burns answered with a smile in his voice.
Ty was simmering as a black Yukon Denali pulled up beside the line of parked cars next to the sidewalk and waited for him patiently. “And when is that?” he demanded in a growl.
“Midnight to four a. m. ,” Burns returned knowingly. “How’re the broken fingers?”
“Broken,” Ty grunted in answer. “Why am I being tailed?”
“You have a new assignment. ”
“Señor de la Vega had a nasty plane accident down in the Caribbean,”
Burns informed him quietly. “Seems the mechanic working on his plane had some broken fingers no one knew about, didn’t get all the nuts and bolts tight enough. Get in the damn car and let it take you home. I want you in DC by noon. ”
“You and your new assignments can go fuck yourselves, Dick,” Ty grumbled. “My fingers hurt. And the important one won’t stand up by itself. ”
“So hold them all up and call it a flock,” Burns advised in mild amusement.
Ty snorted. “Flock of birds. That’s funny,” he muttered disconsolately to himself as he stared at the government vehicle stubbornly.
“Ty,” Burns sighed, his voice taking on the tone of the mentor he had once been. “Don’t toss everything you love out the window, hmm? You’ve tied up your loose ends, and you get to torture your new partner tomorrow.
Noon. I’ll see you then,” he said before ending the call.
Ty looked down at the phone as if it had offended him somehow, then up at the agent patiently waiting for him by the open back door of the Yukon.
Ty’s jaw tightened as he looked up and down the sidewalk. Finally, he sighed and trudged over to the waiting vehicle, sliding into the back wordlessly.
ZANE ignored Burns’ offer of transport, instead spending a couple more days with his parents before getting on the bike and heading east. He really didn’t care what time he got to DC on the fifth day. Burns hadn’t specified, after all.
He stopped both nights along the way and tried a lot not to think about what was waiting for him. A new partner.
It was a few minutes after noon when he pulled into the Bureau lot and showed his identification. Once he parked, he got a hit of déjà vu. He’d arrived like this last time. Same bike, same leather—different jacket. His mother had insisted he cut his hair, though, so it was trimmed and neat once more. He had a few more scars. He’d not told anyone about those. No one to tell, really, and they’d mostly healed up.
Wrinkling his nose, Zane dropped the helmet on the seat and clomped his way into the building, grumbling to himself.
With all his contacts, he’d managed to find out only that Ty had been released from Walter Reed on the day Zane had last seen him, but then he hit a dead end. How it was possible for Ty to just walk out of the hospital and disappear, he didn’t know; agents not on assignment were usually pretty easy to find through the Bureau. He hadn’t gone on the lecture circuit like he’d said he was, that was for certain. The only thing Zane could come up with was that Ty was working something off the books—not even undercover, but serious black-ops stuff—and that meant he wouldn’t be found at all. It had been frustrating as all hell as Zane searched for him. And now here he was, faced with a partner he didn’t want in a job that was swiftly becoming more like work and less like something he enjoyed.
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