Divide & conquer, p.12
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       Divide & Conquer, p.12

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 12


  Zane squatted down in front of him, catching his hand and lifting it to kiss his knuckles. He sighed. “Im sorry, baby. I hate that youre hurting,” he added quietly.

  The words hit that now-familiar chord in Tys chest that made it twist and tighten. He shook his head to rid himself of the painful feeling that the attack and subsequent loss had caused and reached out to pat Zanes cheek. “Im okay. Ill wake up in the morning ready for revenge, and itll all go back to normal. ”

  The grunt Zane gave in response didnt sound too sure, but he didnt comment. He turned his face to kiss Tys palm before shifting his weight to stand. “Cmon. At least eat some mashed potatoes for me. ” He pulled at Tys hand gently. “Then well go to bed, watch movies, and be lazy the rest of the day. ”

  “Okay,” Ty said suspiciously as he stood. He knew Zane well enough to know when he was keeping something from him. But he also knew Zane would come out with it in his own sweet time and not before, unless Ty dug hard for it. And he didnt want to dig. He just wanted to sit and cry and have the day be over. “Can we just skip food and go to bed?”

  The lines of Zanes face softened visibly. “Yeah. Ill put the food in the fridge. You go on upstairs. Ill bring some water. ” Ty nodded as he moved past Zane toward the steps in the center of the narrow row house. He let his hand slide down Zanes forearm and across his belly as he went, then put his head down and climbed to the darkened bedroom on the second floor. He supposed it was normal to feel like something was amiss after nearly being blown up and then watching your oldest companion and most beloved possession go up in smoke as people around you filmed it. Not to mention the fact that he was now officially a target. Hed become the poster child for shit that needed exploding in Baltimore.

  It was only a few minutes before he heard Zanes footsteps on the stairs, and then Zane appeared in the doorway, small duffel in one hand, gun in the other, two bottles of water in the crook of his arm. The gun and bottles went on the nightstand, the duffel on the floor next to the dresser. He probably had more clothes stashed in Tys spare room now than he had at his own apartment. Ty often wondered how it would go down if Zane chickened out and ended it. Would he get to throw all of Zanes shit off the balcony and make a scene? That was really the only thing about the end he looked forward to.

  He sat on the bed, frowning at Zanes shoes as he thought about it. Then the mattress dipped next to him.

  “Thinking awfully hard for someone who was blitzed on painkillers all morning. ” It was a gentle tease.

  “Dont ever let me take another one of those things. ” He knew hed need one in the morning, of course.

  “If thats what you want, all right. You can stick to Tylenol and beer,” Zane replied. Ty reached out and patted Zanes knee, letting his hand rest there as he finally forced himself to look up and meet Zanes eyes. “Thank you for believing me today,” he said roughly. “No one else did. ”

  “I trust you,” Zane said simply.

  Tys hand tightened for a moment, and then he looked away and let his fingers slide off Zanes knee. “Ty, I…. ” Zanes voice trailed off, and he took a shaky breath before trying again. “How about you lie down? You look like youre about to fall asleep sitting there. ”

  “Yeah,” Ty agreed sedately. He pushed himself back and rolled into the middle of the bed, moving the sheets around and kicking them to the bottom of the bed. “Whats on your mind, Zane?”

  Zane leaned back on one hand as he turned to look at Ty. His eyes told Ty he didnt plan on answering. Ty let his hand fall to the side, his palm landing against Zanes back just under the shirt. Zane gave him a half smile over his shoulder before pulling his shirt over his head, exposing his scarred back to the light of the lamp in the corner. He got up, kicked out of his shoes and jeans, and was soon crawling into the bed next to Ty in just briefs.

  Ty reached out and let his forearm fall across Zanes chest, then turned and slid his other arm around him, pulling him closer and curling against him gratefully. Zane settled on his side, closing his arms around Ty and sighing. Ty felt the words on his tongue and consciously held his breath, warding them off. He knew Zane was uncomfortable with the words “I love you,” though he didnt exactly understand why. It wouldnt do either of them to beat it into the ground. Ty knew Zane loved him, in his own way.

  And he hoped Zane knew the only thing Ty had loved longer than him was that Bronco. I T FELT like Ty was awake for a long time before his mind actually realized it. He was aware of being in bed. He was aware of the very early morning sunlight hitting his face. He was aware of his entire body being sore and borderline painful. He was aware of a solid ache in his heart that was shaped like a green and tan Ford Bronco.

  He just couldnt seem to convince himself to move or open his eyes. But finally, he turned his head and cracked an eye open with a soft groan.

  Zane lay on his side next to him, his hand extended to rest on Tys chest. He looked relaxed and deeply asleep, though Ty knew better. Zane still slept lightly, albeit better the few nights a week they slept together.

  Ty remained still for a long time, trying to piece together yesterday and trying to decide just how badly he hurt this morning. He felt like hed been hit by a tank. Again.

  Finally, he had to shift and roll. He gasped in surprise as he did so, not expecting the stabbing pain in his side.

  Zanes eyes snapped open, and he pushed himself up on one elbow. “Careful, youre bruised as hell. ”

  “Sorry,” Ty gasped as he tried to decide which way to move. Because after he settled, he wasnt going to move again. Ever. “Need to get up? Might be a good idea. I bet youre stiff. ” Ty grunted and nodded, pushing himself up carefully. He looked at the tape on his fingers and grimaced as he sat up fully. Zane stayed where he was, watching silently. He was still warm and sleepy, and he looked it too.

  “Sorry I woke you,” Ty offered pitifully as soon as he was sitting. Zane shrugged and slid back down, pulling his pillow to his chest.

  “Got any Tylenol?” Ty asked him with a wince. He rubbed gingerly at his ribs.

  “Yeah. Ive not flushed the Vicodin yet, if you want it,” Zane said quietly. Ty turned and looked at Zane in surprise. Zane raised one brow but didnt say anything else. Ty gave him a grunt and gingerly laid himself back down. He reached out wordlessly with his good hand and slid his fingers into Zanes as he closed his eyes.

  Zane remained still after curling his hand around Tys, and a quiet minute passed before he took a deep breath and let it out loudly before sitting up. “Im going to get you something. You have to be hurting pretty bad. ”

  Ty didnt argue. Hed had so much worse than this, but in recent years his motto had become something like “why hurt when you dont have to?” He opened his eyes and watched Zane appreciatively but didnt try to sit up again.

  Zane smiled, apparently not surprised by the response. “Ill be back. ” He walked out of the bedroom, disappearing down the hall. When he came back, he set the tiny envelope in Tys lap before reaching for a bottle of water from the nightstand and offering it to him.

  Ty looked at the packet of Vicodin in distaste as he accepted the bottle. “Think it would hurt me any more to take another one?” he asked uncertainly.

  “Are you planning on going anywhere? It is Monday, you know,” Zane said. “You might at least consider going into work, although…. ” He shook his head as he looked over all the bruises.

  “I have to go into work. Ill catch all sorts of shit if I call in. ” Zane shrugged. “Your choice. You can man up, go to work, and be miserable all day, or you can stay here, chill out, and deal with peoples shit tomorrow. ” He started pulling clothes out of the closet. “Youre probably all over the news anyway. Again. ”

  Ty sighed and started trying to get out of bed. “When you put it that way,” he muttered as he stood up. Zane picked his duffel up and tossed it on the bed. Then he stopped and looked up at Ty. “Would you at least take the Tyle
nol? Because you look like shit and it hurts watching you. ”

  Ty cocked his head and grimaced again. “Do I look too bad to go in?” he asked with real concern. “I mean from the drugs, not the bruises. ” He would be damned if word got around that he was hungover or high this morning, not after the scene hed made yesterday.

  Zane shook his head. “No, you just look like youre really in significant pain. Of course, other people might not recognize that on you and think youre being your normal grumpy self. ”

  “I can deal with that,” Ty said with a satisfied nod. He winced once Zane turned away from him and headed for the spare bedroom, where a couple of Zanes suits hung in the closet. “Wear the gray one,” he called out on impulse, hoping Zane would do it just to humor him. He loved Zane in that charcoal suit—it made his dark coloring that much more striking. Zane might argue against being pretty, but he was wrong.

  “Yeah, fine,” Zane called back. Ty smiled, then sighed as he looked at the pills in his hand. Opening the flap on the packet, he shook the tablets out into his hand and contemplated them sourly. Zane came back down the hall just as he popped a pill and chased it with a few gulps of water.

  “Guess Im driving, then,” Zane observed before he turned into the bathroom. “Thats not funny, Zane,” Ty shot back at him.

  “Wasnt meant to be, Ty. ”

  They got dressed quickly. Ty gave Zane one of his better ties to wear because the one Zane had left there had been ripped off at some point and was mangled beyond repair. Ty preferred the narrower style of ties, and though it looked good on Zane, people might notice it wasnt his. Theyd have to deal with it, though. What with all the PR hype, the Bureau had cracked down on the dress code; ties were a must in the office.

  Ty stepped out into the hallway carrying his shoes under one arm and picking at the medical tape on his fingers. He pulled it off carefully to check his finger. The joints were blue and swollen, and it hurt like hell to move it. He was beginning to suspect it actually hadnt been fixed properly.

  He sighed and balled up the tape. Hed have to raid the first aid kit when he got to the office. “What do you usually do for breakfast?” he asked Zane in a loud voice. He realized Zane had never actually stayed here for the morning before work. On the weeknights he stayed over, he got up early and went back to his apartment to get ready for work while Ty went for his morning run, and then they met up at the office. It was an odd feeling, having Zane here. Kind of nice.

  Zane appeared in his bedroom doorway, working on his tie. “Theres a good bakery and deli on the way to the office from my place. I stop and get coffee, at least. ” He fussed with the knot and then pulled the ends to loosen it and start over as he turned back into the room.

  Ty moved toward Zane and reached out to grip his shoulder. Zane relaxed as Ty reached around him to take hold of the tie from behind. He had tried before, but the only way he could fix a tie was if he was wearing it. He tied the knot deftly with his arms wrapped around Zane, and the warmth of Zane allowing the simple action sank deep into him.

  When he was done, he placed his hands flat on Zanes chest and hugged him, then backed away before the moment could get too saccharine.

  “Im going to need food or Ill get all… zingy,” Ty told him with a frown as he turned away.

  “That would go over well in the office,” Zane said wryly. “Id kind of like to see it. ” Ty nodded and muttered wordlessly and headed for the stairs, thumping down to the living room to put on his shoes. It was going to be a long day.

  Z ANE parked his truck on the curb next to a government-issue unmarked SUV. “Why dont you stay here? Theres an extended team in there already; its not like Ill be alone. ”

  Ty nodded as he looked out at the array of Baltimore PD uniforms and FBI windbreakers already on the street. They had been called in to investigate a suspicious package reported at an upscale shopping area in the Inner Harbor. Patrons and employees clogged sidewalks that were being barricaded off—the building had already been evacuated as a precaution—and reporters elbowed their way through willy-nilly. A lot of reporters.

  “Dont have to tell me twice,” he muttered. The mornings brief zing from the Vicodin had worn off quickly, leaving him achy and nauseated and altogether miserable, just as Zane had predicted.

  Zane unfastened his seatbelt and offered Ty a half smile. “Take it easy. Ill be back soon, and well get an early lunch and Ill take you home. ” He climbed out and shut the door, walking over to a group of agents as he tugged a matching navy-blue FBI windbreaker over his head. Ty belatedly thought he should have told Zane to put his vest on. He never wore the damn thing unless Ty nagged him about it.

  Ty scooted down in his seat and put his sunglasses on so that no one would notice if he went to sleep sitting there. His stomach was unsettled, his head still pounded, and he felt… floaty. He was sure there was another word for it, but that was about as close as he could get to describing the feeling. It was entirely unpleasant. He probably should have called in and just stayed at home. On the plus side, his ribs didnt feel like they were about to snap anymore, so he might be able to flush the rest of those pills when he got home. And Michelle Clancy had taken one look at his finger that morning, grabbed his hand, and yanked the offending digit into place before he could scream for help. It had hurt like a son of a bitch, but now the pain had subsided to a dull throb, and he thought it might be okay.

  He watched as Zane walked into the shopping complex with a mixed group of agents and cops, following the bomb-sniffing dogs, and then looked up at the face of the glass-walled building, trying to decide which part they were heading for and wondering why they were going up with the bomb techs at all. Protection detail, maybe? Backup for continued evac? If he remembered correctly, there was shopping on the second and third floors. Hed been in the food court a couple of times.
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