Divide & conquer, p.15
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       Divide & Conquer, p.15

         Part #4 of Cut & Run series by Abigail Roux
Page 15


  BEING completely in the dark had taken on a whole new meaning. This wasnt just dark; it was pitch-black, no relief, no gray, no hint of light under a door, no bare twinkle of stars in the sky. It was utter nothing.

  Each time Zane woke up from dozing—no real sleeping, the nurse insisted, waking him up every fifteen minutes—it was easier to think, and his first thought was always that when he opened his eyes, hed be able to see. But then he did and… didnt.

  If it werent for being able to always hear something in the hospital room, he would have totally freaked out. With a sigh, he shifted a little in the bed, very carefully, not sure if something somewhere would hurt when he moved. He heard Ty gasp suddenly and felt him jerk.

  “What?” Ty asked in a hoarse, sleepy voice.

  Zane frowned. “Ty? Were you asleep?”

  “Im not sure,” Ty answered in a voice that told Zane he had definitely been asleep and was still in the process of trying to remember where he was. Zane felt Tys hand brush against his chest, as if making sure he was actually there and he wasnt dreaming. He raised his own hand to cover Tys for a moment.

  “Sounds like you were,” Zane murmured. He shifted his eyes to look around even though there was nothing to see. “What time is it?” “Late,” Ty answered, his voice sounding as if he had turned away. “Can you… can you see anything?” he asked tentatively. Zane shifted a little more onto his side, facing Ty, letting his cheek settle on the pillow. “No,” he whispered. His fingers moved slightly on Tys hand. While hed never been touchy-feely, now that he couldnt see, touching was much more important to his state of mind. He wondered how long Ty would tolerate it.

  “Damn,” Ty sighed. He gave Zanes hand a squeeze and pulled away as he stood, just like Zane had known he would. “You need anything? Im going to go find caffeine. Maybe some real food. ”

  Zane resisted shaking his head slightly. It hurt and made him queasy. “No. Have you been here the whole time?”

  “Yeah,” Ty answered in a surprised voice. He almost sounded offended that Zane had asked. “Why?” “Chill, okay?” Zane said with a sigh. “I figured you had, which means youve been here awhile without a break. When did you eat last?”

  “Lunch,” Ty answered as he moved away completely. “Want me to fi … doctor and see … get some food?” he mumbled, his voice going in and out of earshot. Zane thought he might be looking around the room for something or possibly putting a jacket on. He might have detected some rustling of fabric.

  “Yeah,” Zane said, swallowing on the hint of dread that hit him in the chest. He bit his lip and shifted more onto his side and pulled the pillow hard against his chest like he did at home. Damn, he hated this. And he hated even more being scared about it. He squeezed his eyes shut hard.

  “Whats wrong?” Ty asked as his voice moved closer again. Zane reminded himself he was a grown man whod faced all sorts of dangerous and really frightening challenges in his life and tried to relax, with only a bit of success. He cleared his throat. “Youll come back, right?” he finally asked. He winced. Damn, he sounded like a baby.

  There was silence in response, but Zane could still feel Tys presence beside his bed. Finally, Ty moved, and the denim of his jeans scraped softly. He reached out and put his hand on Zanes forehead. “Itll be okay,” he assured him, then removed his hand.

  Some of the tension melted, enough that Zane could breathe easily again. He nodded against the pillow. “Go on. Ill be here. ” There was no response, no sound of Ty moving, but it felt like the warmth had left the room, so he knew Ty was gone. Zanes jaw clenched, and he pushed his face into the pillow. This blind shit had been easier to handle when he was mostly unconscious and unable to focus. With nothing else to do, he started listening, closing his eyes and really listening.

  A FTERthe claustrophobic hell that was the hospitals crowded food court, Ty found himself rattled and unkempt as he made his way to the elevators. He didnt smile and nod at people as he passed by; he didnt even see the people he passed by.

  He kept his head down, face set in a frown as he fretted over what needed to be done. Hed talked to his mom for at least half an hour as hed waited in line in the café, trying to convince her that no one had died and that he and Zane both had all their parts intact. When hed hung up, hed told himself to appreciate the fact that she cared, remember it was out of love, be glad your mom is still around. Zen, Ty, Zen.

  Then the thought that Zane had a mother had hit him like a truckload of panicking chickens and hed needed to sit down. Hed lost his place in line. Fuck the line.

  He was listed as Zanes emergency contact, which meant the only notifying of family was going to be done by him. The prospect of calling Zanes parents to tell them he was seriously injured, and oh, by the way, Im your sons partner who let him go by himself into the building that blew up, nice to meet you, has he told you he likes cock?

  Ty closed his eyes and shook his head, surprised to find himself riding the elevator up already. He took in a deep breath and blew it out carefully. This was merely lack of sleep and possibly a little trauma getting to him. Hed be okay. Zane would be okay. It would all be okay.

  “Okay,” he said under his breath.

  When he got to Zanes room, he was almost good again.

  Then he saw Zane, his partner, his lover, lying there in the bed, pale and still, somehow managing to look fragile despite what a tall and muscled man he was, and “good” went out the window, down three stories, and splatted on the asphalt.

  Ty edged into the room, wondering if he should stay or go, since Zane appeared to be sleeping. Fuck that—if he had to suffer, so did Zane. He crept closer, eyes passing over the machinery around the room, and he sat gingerly on the edge of the bed.

  The corner of Zanes mouth tilted up. “Old Spice,” he murmured. The words warmed Ty more than he was willing to admit. He leaned closer and sniffed loudly at Zane. “Desperation?” Zane turned up his nose. “Mouthwash. Nasty shit. ” He shifted his closest hand to touch Ty. There was a small bandage, white against Zanes skin, where the IV had been earlier in the day.

  Ty gripped his hand and squeezed it. “You doing any better?” “Not hurting as much,” Zane admitted. “They took away all the wires and gave me ginger ale. I hate ginger ale. ” There wasnt a lot of force behind his words, but at least it was more than the dull yes and no and “you were in the truck” of early that afternoon.

  Ty nodded, not sure what else to say. His mind was still racing, a ducks legs kicking furiously under the smooth surface of a pond. He was pretty sure if Zane could see hed have mentioned it by now.

  “I talked to Ma just now. She said to say hello,” Ty tried, grasping for a thread to hang onto before he started going off the rails again. Hed have to take a nap when he got home.

  “I could go for some pie right now,” Zane said, visibly brightening even though his eyes remained dull and blank. “Im sure shes baking furiously,” Ty muttered. He looked down at the hand he still held in his. “Do you want me to call your folks?” Please say no, please say no, please say no—

  “No,” Zane said immediately.

  Thank God!

  Ty cleared his throat and kept talking despite his relief. “Are you sure? It seems like something maybe they should know. ” Zanes nose wrinkled, and he frowned before sighing a few moments later. “I guess I might call Annie. But not my parents. We dont… were not really in touch. ”

  Ty winced but didnt push further. He couldnt help but ask, though. “Who the hell is Annie?”

  Zane actually smiled and turned his head on the pillow. “My little sister. ”

  “Ah. Am I going to have to call her?” Ty asked, unable to keep the displeasure out of his voice. “I wouldnt do that to you,” Zane assured him, rubbing Tys thigh soothingly. Hed clearly picked up on Tys tone of voice. “She does know who you are, though. ”

  “Shes knows Im the partner that let you run into the
exploding building alone and that you like cock?” Ty asked without even thinking about turning around to see if anyone was within hearing range.

  Zanes eyes widened comically before he blinked several times and shook his head. “That youre the partner whos saved my life multiple times,” he corrected evenly. “And yes, she knows I switched teams. ”

  Tys racing mind finally came to a grinding, screeching, painful halt. “Wait, what?” “I dont even have to see your face to know youre about to freak out. ” Zane sighed. “She knows were partners at work. Thats all. I dont share details about my private life with her or anyone, but she does know in general terms that in the past Ive slept with both men and women. Okay?”

  Ty closed his eyes and squeezed the bridge of his nose to ward off the squirrels trying to chisel their way out of his brain. “Zane,” he groaned in complaint. “When do you get out of this place? I need to fucking sleep before you drive me crazy. ”

  “I dont know,” was the quiet reply. Ty looked down at Zane, really looked at him, taking in the gauntness of his pale face, the worry etched in every line. It had been a while since Zane had looked this bad. It made Ty realize how much better hed gotten since Christmas. He reached up and fluffed Zanes hair with the tips of his fingers, not willing to make a public display of his affection but wanting to comfort Zane somehow. “Do you want me to go ask if you can come home?”

  Zane got this odd, pained look on his face for a moment before he shrugged. “I dont know what to do. Im not sure… how Ill manage. ” “You have me. ” Ty pressed his lips together hard and felt himself flushing. He opened his mouth to add some sort of qualifier to it, but he supposed after youd told someone you loved him and dropped to your knees as many times as Ty had for Zane, you were past being embarrassed when you spouted off Hallmark card material.

  The small smile on Zanes face softened the worry lines. “I know. ” He rubbed his fingers over the fabric of Tys pants. “But you have to work. And play softball. And sleep,” he emphasized with a gentle poke.

  “You saying you dont want me to stay with you?” Ty asked in the most neutral voice he could muster. He wouldnt blame Zane if he didnt. If their positions were reversed, Ty would send Zane away in a heartbeat. And Ty knew that saying he wasnt the most ideal candidate to care for someone would be quite an impressive understatement. But he wanted to be there for Zane all the same. He wanted Zane to know Ty was behind him, no matter what.

  “No. I want you with me all the time. But I know us. That wouldnt work. ” Ty was on the verge of agreeing, because shit no, it wouldnt work. Theyd be at each others throats a day in… although he had begun to miss Zane quite a bit in the last several busy weeks. He looked into Zanes sightless eyes. The impulse to ask was about so much more than being a nursemaid. “Will you give me a chance?” he pleaded.

  The ripple of emotion across Zanes face was indefinable; at first Ty thought he identified surprise, then happiness, then maybe hope. “Yes,” Zane answered.

  “Good,” Ty sighed. He patted Zanes knee. “Ill go hunt down a doctor and threaten him until he lets you go home. ”

  “Hell probably agree. Hes not too happy with me as it is,” Zane said.

  “Why not?”

  Zane squeezed his eyes shut and blinked several times after opening them. “Declined pain treatment,” he muttered. Ty nodded, forgetting for the moment that Zane couldnt see him do it. He petted Zanes belly as he stood. He wasnt going to comment on the drugs, just like he had stopped commenting on anything else that touched on any of Zanes vices. It wasnt worth the angst.

  “Be right back,” he muttered, and he set off to find an unsuspecting doctor to bully.

  “AGENT Garrett, how are you feeling?” a mans voice asked as someone walked into the room. Even though he was expecting it, Zane still tensed. He opened his eyes out of habit and sat up. “Pretty good, except…. ” He waved one hand somewhere beside his head.

  “Still no vision?” the same voice asked with an audible frown. “Well, thats to be expected. Well start your discharge papers going, and you should be able to get out of here,” he said as papers shuffled.

  Zane squeezed his eyes shut and gripped the blanket in one fist. He wasnt so sure this was a good idea, even if he didnt want to be here.

  “Unless theres a new problem?” the doctor asked, voice tinged with concern.

  “A problem?” Zanes voice got a little high and thin there at the end. “I cant see!” The doctor cleared his throat. “Agent Garrett, it is a temporary side effect,” he assured him. “Now that we know theres not a critical injury, theres no reason for you to remain here. Im sure youll be more comfortable at home. ”

  Zane swallowed. “At home. Alone. ”

  “Are you saying you want to remain in the hospital?” the doctor asked him in surprise. “Thats not really an option, Agent Garrett. ” “No, I suppose its not,” Zane murmured, dropping his chin. “Itll be about an hour,” the doctor told him, sounding relieved that he wouldnt have to talk Zane down out of the proverbial tree. “Well just get that started for you,” he said. His shoes squeaked as he turned away.

  “Hey,” Zane said abruptly. “Is there anything I should be doing while Im at home?”

  He heard the doctor stop and turn around. “Dont run into things,” the man advised after a moment of thought.

  “Yeah, thatll be a piece of cake,” Zane muttered. “Rest. Relax. Let someone take care of you,” the doctor told him seriously. “The nurse will be back soon,” he added. Then slightly squeaky footsteps faded away.
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