Cut & Run, page 6part #1 of Cut & Run Series
Having separate rooms would work well if Ty intended to start into this the way he usually did. He wasn’t used to the normal channels and he did far better working a case from the underbelly rather than in conventional ways. He doubted Zane would go with him tonight, and he’d just as soon go on his own, anyway. He’d always been more comfortable slinking around in the shadows than waving his authority around.
In a room down the hall, Zane Garrett sighed as he threw down his duffel bags and briefcase. He ran his hands through his hair and then stretched. He and Ty ended up several doors down from each other, but it wasn’t far enough as far as Zane was concerned.
A hot shower sounded good, so he started stripping down. Next order of business was food, and then he’d go back to the office. He reminded himself that he’d at least need to call Ty and tell him where he was going. If they were real partners, they’d have stayed in the same room, but Zane sure as hell wasn’t going to suggest it. He wasn’t that masochistic.
Pulling on comfortable worn jeans and a rust-red V-neck sweater after cleaning up, Zane picked up his holster, checking it all over before settling it comfortably on his shoulders and buckling it down. He checked the thin sheaths he wore just inside his wrists, then knelt down and strapped another sheath around his ankle. Completely armed, he felt better than he had all day. He hated airplanes. The security tended to get a little strident when you tried to take knives through checkpoints, even if you were a federal agent who always carried a gun.
His canvas jacket went over that, and with a look in the mirror, he rolled his eyes. Ty would probably think he was trying to copy him, looking less stuffy and more street-worthy. Zane sighed at the mirror, then grabbed his wallet, cigarettes, lighter, and key card and headed down the hall to the other agent’s door for a quick check-in.
Ty answered the curt knock in a towel, body still dripping wet and steam roiling out of the bathroom door behind him.
Zane raised an eyebrow as his stomach flip-flopped in reaction.
“Yeah. That’s real safe,” he commented, forcing his voice to sound wry.
“What?” Ty asked with a tilt of his head.
Zane looked significantly up and down Ty’s barely covered body.
Ty looked down at himself and then back up at Zane with a sniff as he realized what Zane was blathering about. “I’m a lethal weapon, man,” he grunted. He turned and gave a wave over his shoulder, gesturing for him to come in.
Zane would have snorted except he figured Ty wasn’t overstating all that much. There was no telling what Ty’s background was (although Zane had already discerned he was military of some sort) but he did indeed look capable. And fit. Very fit. Zane swallowed as he stepped inside and pushed the door shut behind him, leaving the odd feelings in the hall and withdrawing back into his professional persona for safety.
“I figured you’d want to know if I wasn’t going to be home by curfew,” he said, sliding a hand into his jacket pocket.
“I’m not your fucking keeper,” Ty grunted as he shucked the towel and reached for his briefs. He glanced back to see Zane’s hand in his pocket and tensed instinctively.
Zane’s eyes narrowed, and he slowly pulled his hand free to let it fall limp at his side. His partner was obviously tenser than he let on. “I remind you of the ‘You’re coming with me, I don’t plan on losing another agent’
comment,” he said mildly, once more strongly scolding himself inside for wanting to ogle—and grope—when he got a free show. He sighed inwardly.
He always behaved these days. Maybe he was a pansy-ass now, just like Ty said. The thought made him slightly ill.
“What you do in your free time is none of my concern,” Ty was saying as he pulled up the briefs and then toweled off his wet shoulders and arms. The towel passed over a tattoo on Ty’s right bicep, but Zane was too far away to discern the details other than the fact that it was a face of something.
He fought back the urge to squint in order to make it out.
“Are we even going to attempt to work together, or shall we just agree to meet every few days to compare notes?” Zane asked, voice cool. “I’d rather know now than waste more of our precious time. ”
“You think this case is gonna be easy for one man?” Ty asked in response as he grabbed his jeans. He turned around to look at Zane again as he stepped into them. “Awful big leap, thinking you’re smarter’n the killer. ”
“You’ve yet to act like you want me around, Grady. Don’t start now,”
“I don’t act. And I didn’t say I wanted you around,” Ty responded calmly. “I implied that I needed you. ”
“Well, mark my lucky stars, I’m flattered,” Zane drawled in annoyance. Ty didn’t seem to care if he was unprofessional, so Zane took the opportunity to be just that. Too bad Ty was so determined to be a bastard. Off the clock, they might have gotten along. Over a bottle of whiskey. Zane gritted his teeth.
“You look a little tense,” Ty observed wryly.
Zane didn’t mention his line of thought. “You implied, so what do you need?” he asked instead of responding to Ty’s comment.
“It’s okay to be tense. I’m tense,” Ty told him with a careless shrug.
“You going back to Federal Plaza?” he asked in answer to Zane’s question as he pulled on a black T-shirt that had writing in white block letters that said
“I’M UNDERCOVER. ”
Zane blinked at the shirt before shaking his head slowly. “Yes.
“When you get back, will you come check on me?” Ty asked, unembarrassed by the request as he sat on the edge of the bed and pulled his socks on.
“You going to do something that may make you not be here?”
“Hopefully not,” Ty answered wryly as he stomped his foot down into one beat-up cowboy boot. “A few blocks from here is pretty close to where that hooker reportedly worked. I’m going to go talk to the ladies. ”
“Several responses come to mind. ”
“And I’m sure all of them are wildly clever,” Ty responded sarcastically as he stomped into his second boot and then stood and stretched.
Zane deliberately looked away from the wiry body stretching out in front of him. “A couple,” he acknowledged. “You want me to come along?”
Ty raised an eyebrow and gave Zane a slow once-over. He cleared his throat and licked his lips as he stretched his arms over his head, then flopped them back down to his sides. “Have you ever, umm … picked up a hooker?”
he asked with a straight face.
“Yes. ” Both on and off the job, but that wasn’t necessarily germane to the discussion. Zane tilted his head as Ty’s eyebrows climbed in surprise. “So, yes or no? Either way, I’m eating first. ”
Ty tilted his head, thinking it over. This could be a good chance to see how Zane would handle himself on an investigation without hurting much of anything as far as their current one went. “Yeah, okay,” he agreed finally as he reached for his military surplus green canvas jacket. He picked it up and looked at it, then cut his gaze to look Zane over with narrowed eyes, taking in the way he was dressed. “Yeah, okay,” he grumbled again as he threw the jacket down and went to rummage through his things for his other jacket to wear. He didn’t want them looking like fucking twins.
He stripped his T-shirt back off as Zane waited, picking up a clean white dress shirt instead. He was very conscious, as he changed, of the fact that the little round scar on his lower back was probably visible, still new and pink on his tanned skin. He glanced over at Zane and cleared his throat self-consciously, turning toward him again as he slid into the shirt. He wasn’t sure why it bothered him that Zane could see the scar, but it did. Perhaps because he hadn’t been the only one that particular bullet had gone through.
The other agent just caught sight of the scar, recognizing it for what it most likely was. W
“So where we going for dinner, garçon?” Ty asked as he grabbed his wallet and stuck it in his back pocket.
Dragging his eyes away from Ty’s body again, Zane ignored yet another new nickname and answered, “Morrison told me about a barbecue place down several blocks. Family-owned, original recipes. ”
“Mmm, New York barbeque,” Ty responded sarcastically with a wrinkle of his nose. “No go. I need … fish. ”
“Fish. ” Zane shrugged. “Okay, we can find a place. Unless you already have something in mind?” He really didn’t care. He’d eat anything. It was just the cocktails that got him in trouble.
“We’ll walk,” Ty suggested as he attached an ankle holster and checked that his backup was loaded. He dragged out his shoulder holster and did the same, then slipped his beaten leather jacket on and flexed his shoulders experimentally with a frown.
“Strap’s twisted,” Zane offered. He walked over and reached up under the jacket to flip the buckle so the strap laid flat along the back of Ty’s shoulder. Ty turned his head wordlessly and raised his eyebrows as Zane stepped into his space and fucked around with his weaponry.
Now, Zane wasn’t a stupid man. He’d seen Ty tense earlier at a slightly perceived threat. It wasn’t ignorance on Zane's part, getting so close without being invited. But he wanted his new partner to know that he wasn’t afraid of him. That he wasn’t quite the paper-pusher he made himself out to be.
Zane straightened the length of strap and pulled Ty’s jacket back down to cover it. “Let’s go. I could eat a whale,” he said absently, already warring within himself. Had he truly wanted to telegraph a message? Or had he simply taken advantage of the chance to touch the hard muscles he’d been seeing? Danger zone, Garrett.
Ty cleared his throat and followed silently. Not many people had the nerve to step into his reach and touch him without his permission or some sort of forewarning. Either Zane really didn’t give a shit—which was contrary to his demeanor and actions—or he had no clue how dangerous Ty really was.
The third option was the most frightening; that he knew what Ty could do to him and he wasn’t concerned. Either way, it left Ty slightly unsettled as they went in search of food.
THEIR hotel was located just a block or two from Little Italy, and they had no trouble finding a restaurant there, which seemed to suit Ty just fine. Zane followed along as they were led to the table, eyeing the bar across the room with an internal sigh. He sat down at the table and immediately opened the menu.
Ty, however, left the menu in front of him and turned to the waitress with a grin. He went about ordering his Guinness and dinner with a series of well-honed innuendo and rakish grins that had the girl giggling at him as she moved away.
Zane ignored what was becoming his partner’s customary behavior.
Sitting back, he reflected that maybe they should have kept looking for a different restaurant. One with televisions. Here, there was nothing to do but look at each other.
As he sat, Ty was observing the other patrons in the restaurant idly, noticing things about them that most people didn’t notice. His training forced him to take in who looked anxious, who seemed to be waiting for someone, who was wearing a coat too large for them that might conceal a weapon, who looked out of place. The list went on and on. “So,” he huffed as he looked back at Zane. “What now?”
“As opposed to what then?” Zane said, leaning back in his chair.
“You had the plan, remember?”
“You hijacked it with dinner,” Ty pointed out as the little waitress came back and slid Ty’s drink onto the table. “Thank you, darlin’,” he drawled as she passed by. He took one long draw from the bottle, then glanced around and placed his palm flat on the opening of the bottle before turning it upside down. He patted himself down with the beer like someone would have done with a bottle of cologne, taking another gulp every now and then as he smeared some on his neck and chest and finally rubbed his hands together and patted down his scruffy face.
Zane just watched, stirring lemon into his tea, shaking his head.
“That’s a waste of good beer. You should have ordered some shit like Bud Light. ”
“Do I look like I drink Bud Light?” Ty sneered before downing what was left of the beer. He raised his hand and called over the waitress again.
“You think the girls are going to be able to tell the difference?”
“You underestimate their prowess,” Ty laughed as he leaned back and stretched his hands over his head. The waitress sidled over and Ty smiled at her. “Bring my irritating friend here a Bud Light, would you, sweetheart?”
She repressed a snort and gave Zane a nod before turning away again.
“No,” Zane said sharply, voice quite firm. “That’s not necessary. ”
She turned around and raised her eyebrows in question. Ty pursed his lips and then smiled, shaking his head and gesturing for her to bring it anyway.
“Your irritating friend has no interest in a beer, Grady,” Zane ground out.
“It’s not to drink,” Ty responded with an easy smile.
Zane relaxed slightly, though he was still frowning. “Then what do you plan to do with it?” he asked suspiciously. Ty merely waved a hand at himself in answer. Zane rolled his eyes before he could stop himself and really wished Ty had waited until after dinner to “freshen up. ” It would be bad enough walking around with him without smelling it all through dinner, too.
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