Blood & Thunder, page 27part #2 of THIRDS Series
“Aren’t those quarterly?” Dex asked, puzzled.
“These aren’t the standard ones. They’re to make sure I don’t have a relapse. When Gabe died, I was sent to a rehabilitation center just in case. Although they didn’t know about our relationship, they knew we were really close. They were afraid I might go off the rails. It wouldn’t be the first time it’s happened to a First Gen agent. The THIRDS is good with keeping that sort of thing quiet. Ash is the only one who knows all this, because he was there with me. If it hadn’t been for him, I wouldn’t have made it this far.” He let out a heavy sigh, his chest feeling somewhat less constricted now that he’d confessed everything. He was afraid to look up, afraid at what he might see. Dex was a sweet, compassionate man, but that was it. He was a man, a Human. He couldn’t ever truly understand what it meant to be… different.
Dex’s soft voice forced Sloane to look up, and he drew in a sharp breath, speechless by the loving smile on Dex’s face, his eyes filled with warmth and concern.
“What happened wasn’t your fault. Thank you for your honesty, but I have to tell you that now that I know….”
Sloane braced himself, his heart in his throat.
“I think you’re even more amazing. Everything you’ve been through, everything you’ve suffered, and look at you. You go out there, and you risk your life for this city and the citizens in it. No matter how much shit they throw your way, what they call you, how they see you, you get up every morning, and you do what you gotta do. I know I gave you shit about you being the Sloane Brodie, but the truth is, you are, and everyone respects you for it. I respect you.”
Sloane opened his mouth, but nothing came out. He didn’t know what to say to that. Dex smiled at him, and Sloane dropped to his knees in front of Dex. He threw his arms around him and drew him close, his face pressed to Dex’s chest. “Thank you,” Sloane managed to whisper, squeezing Dex tight. He closed his eyes as Dex ran his fingers through Sloane’s hair. He didn’t know how long they stayed like that, but after a while, Sloane stood and took a seat beside Dex, summoning up the courage Dex so adamantly believed he possessed.
“I’m going to ask you something. Feel free to say no. Are you…. Are you busy Friday night?”
Dex blinked at him. “Not for you. Why?”
Deep breath. “I thought maybe we could go to Jersey, and uh, go on a date. Something other than the usual burgers and beers. There’s this restaurant, and—”
“You want to take me to a restaurant?” Dex’s jaw hung open.
“Yeah.” Sloane shrugged, the butterflies in his stomach fluttering madly. He couldn’t keep himself from smiling. “That’s what boyfriends do. Take each other out. Date.”
Dex’s grin was the most beautiful thing Sloane had ever seen. “You said ‘boyfriend’ without losing consciousness.”
Sloane chuckled. “I did.” Dex bit his bottom lip, and Sloane could tell he was bursting with excitement. He’d done that. He’d put that smile on his lover’s face, that sparkle of mischief and affection in his eyes. As much as his head told him to run, his heart fought him to stay.
“I’d love to go out on a date.”
Sloane drew Dex into his arms, mindful of his leg and kissed him. The thought of being in a relationship again scared the hell out of him, but it wasn’t nearly as frightening as the thought of having almost lost Dex. He knew their job was dangerous, and they never knew which day might be their last, but shouldn’t he then try to make the most of his time with those he cared about? He cared about Dex, wanted to be with him. Loved holding him, kissing him, touching him. Loved his jokes, and his strange taste in music. His obsession with cheese snacks, and love of gummy bears. Sloane was still uncertain about so much, about their future, but he wanted to try.
Dex kissed him passionately, his arms around Sloane’s neck. They took things slow, exploring, tasting, breathing in each other. Sloane leaned into Dex when his cell phone went off.
“Fuck’s sake.” He snatched it up off the coffee table and groaned.
“What is it?”
“Your dad. I swear, if I didn’t know any better, I’d think he knew, because he has one hell of a way of ruining the mood.” Sloane answered the call and held the phone to his ear. “Sarge, what can I do for you?”
“You with Dex?”
“Put me on speaker.”
Sloane put his phone on speaker and placed it back on the coffee table.
“Please, don’t say it,” Dex groaned at his dad.
“We’ve got a big problem.”
With a frustrated grunt, Dex fell back onto the couch in a slump. “I told you not to say it. One day. Would it be too much to ask for the nut jobs to take one fucking day off?”
“Crazy doesn’t take vacation, son. We’ve identified the Therian group attacking the Order. They call themselves the Ikelos Coalition, and unlike the Order that’s made up of mostly civilian extremists, these guys have training. The violence is escalating. Isaac’s death has left the Order without a leader, and it’s turning into a feeding frenzy. We might have stopped the Order from waging war against us, but now they’re at war with the Coalition, and innocent civilians are getting in the way.”
“So now we’ve got two levels of fucked up to deal with,” Dex muttered. “Great.”
Dex and Sloane looked at each other before Sloane addressed their sergeant. “What’s the third?”
“We have reason to believe someone inside the THIRDS is feeding information to the Coalition.”
“Exactly. It wasn’t a coincidence the Coalition knew where the research facility was. They didn’t figure it out. Someone told them. There’s a traitor in our midst, boys, and we need to find them. I expect to see you both back at the office tomorrow bright and early. Hobbs will be back on duty. There will be cake.” Maddock hung up and Sloane tapped “end” on his smartphone’s screen. They sat quietly for a moment, mulling over what they’d been told, when Dex spoke up.
“What kind of cake do you think it is?”
Sloane stared at his partner, whose expression was dead serious. He couldn’t help it, he burst into laughter.
“What? I’m serious. It better be ice cream, or chocolate. None of that marzipan shit. I hate that stuff.”
With a laugh, Sloane drew Dex into his arms and kissed the top of his head. Dex settled against him with a soft sigh, and Sloane told himself to remember this moment. Things were going to get tougher, and their jobs more dangerous, especially with the new Therian threat. He’d have to push Dex harder in his training, and Sloane would have to do the same for himself. His thoughts strayed to Maddock’s words. They had a traitor in their midst. Someone had given out the location of the facility to the Coalition. Whoever they were, they’d better be prepared for a fight, because as soon as Sloane got his hands on them, that’s what they were going to get.
Dex’s voice snapped him out of his somber thoughts, the smile on his face filling Sloane with more warmth and hope than he’d felt in a long time.
“For tonight, let’s leave the crazy outside. Just you and me in here.”
Sloane liked the sound of that. “Just you and me.” He bent his head, touched his lips to Dex’s and allowed himself to get lost in this amazing man’s kiss. The world might go to shit tomorrow, but tonight, while he had Dex in his arms, everything was as it should be. Dex was right; they had been through a lot. In the end whether that would hurt their relationship or strengthen it, who knew, but at least they were in this together. From here on out, Sloane knew whatever happened, his partner had his trust, his back, and more importantly, his heart.