"Mr. Spencer, if you'd just put your arms around Detective Lassiter's neck --"
Spencer blinks at the piece of shit who's captured us -- and every dog has his day, but if I ever get out of these goddamn ropes, I'm going to choke this son of a bitch to death with them because he's not only a kidnapper, he's a sadistic dirt bag -- and says "Excuse me?" in that polite voice he uses, the one with a light, incredulous laugh at the end of it.
That laugh annoys me almost as much as men who tie me to support pillars in abandoned warehouses and take my gun off me. A man's gun is sacred. It shouldn't be touched without permission and there's no one who has permission to touch my sweet piece of metal, trust me on that.
"Your arms," Simpson says. "Around his neck, and, of course, the pillar he's tied to. I believe the detective kindly provided us with some handcuffs to assist with your immobilization. I do love the police issue ones. So…official."
I picture it. Me roped to the upright, Spencer plastered against me, arms looped around my neck and a wide, solid chunk of wood. He might have enough slack to be able to lower his arms past my broad and manly shoulders -- his words, not mine, and where he gets off applying adjectives to my body parts, I don't know -- but they're going to start aching soon either way.
It's going to be embarrassing, humiliating, and if he wriggles even once, I'll stamp on his foot and break a few bones, but more importantly, it'll mean both of us unable to escape or fight back.
That's not good, but Spencer's way of avoiding that less than ideal outcome sucks too.
"Or you could just shoot me now," he says and damned if that doesn't sting just a little. I floss and bathe daily and even if I had breath that could fell an ox, it beats a bullet in the head. And, yeah, I get the reluctance to go into a full-body hug with a man -- or I would if it was anyone but Spencer whose concept of personal space when it comes to me is that it doesn't exist. "Less emotionally traumatizing."
If I wasn't already in a butt load of pain myself from the ropes cutting off my circulation, I'd add to it by banging my head against the pillar because the next thing I hear is a gun being cocked as Simpson calls Spencer's asinine bluff.
"I most certainly could. What an excellent suggestion. I was hoping to avoid bloodshed, but I don't see how I can be blamed for it when you actually ask me to shoot you, something the detective here will, I'm sure, bear witness to in the unlikely event that I'm ever on trial."
"He didn't mean it," I bark out, a sick, cold twist in my gut. Yeah, asshole, no trial for you. They don't put corpses on the witness stand. "Spencer, get your ass over here. I don't bite."
Though in the unlikely event that I ever become a werewolf, guess who's top of my chew toy list.
"But, Lassie," he protests, bleats, whines. "I'm allergic to polyester and you're wearing it head to toe. I'll break out in a rash."
A bullet sings past us, a warning shot. I want to kill him. I will kill him. It's my birthday next week; it can be my present to myself. I'll make him into a rug and wipe my feet on him when I come in from the rain. I'll stuff him and hang my jacket on his head. I'll --
Spencer skips smartly up to me before the echo of the gun firing has died away, showing some common sense for the first time today. There's a question in his eyes I can't read, and he sees something in my face, I don't know what, but the tension in him, tight as a fishing line, snaps. He breathes out, smiles, and says brightly, "Lassie, you're so lucky. Hugday comes but once a year and you're never around for it, I can't imagine why, but if you look at your calendar, that cute one with the gun-toting kittens I got you at Christmas, you'll see what day it is. Brace yourself for a genuine Hugday hug."
I stop listening to his nonsense, straining to hear what's got to be happening soon, namely our rescue. O'Hara's a solid cop and she'll track me down. Probably already has the place surrounded, snipers in place. I also know for a fact that Guster's going to be on Spencer's trail because Spencer owes him lunch and today was payback day. They've been squabbling about it all week, something about a bet going back to grade school. I tuned out the details when I realized it involved a prediction about flying cars. Like Traffic don't have enough problems with the assholes driving drunk on the ground.
Simpson waits until Spencer's hands are in place, his arms resting on my shoulders, then comes close enough to fasten the cuffs around Spencer's wrists. There had to have been a moment there when Spencer could've disarmed him, but I'm glad he didn't try. Too many moments when it wouldn't have worked and he'd -- we'd -- end up dead. I'm still woozy from getting knocked out and Spencer's forehead is bleeding. He's going to have a black eye, too. We're not in prime condition and Spencer's a civilian. I'd have taken the risk, but I don't want him to. I won't serve him, but I'll protect him. It's what they pay me to do.
Simpson says something I ignore about hoping we don't mind hanging around and slips away into the darkness, already planning how to spend his ill-gotten gains. I taste failure, bitter and dark and tell myself that I'll get him, I'll track him to the ends of the earth if I have to, and then I'll --
We'll get found before we die of thirst, I'm not worried about that, I just wish Spencer wasn't -- God, he's so close to me. I'm trying to ignore it. This isn't his fault and he's behaving better than I'd expected, keeping as much distance between us as he can, trying to raise his arms so that he's not bearing down on my shoulders. He's surprising me by being considerate and I feel guilty that I am surprised. Spencer's occasionally -- often -- a thorn in my side and we both know he's not psychic, just a liar, but he's useful. Helpful. Sometimes.
Having said that, this is a man who gropes me in public on a monthly basis. Restraint when we're alone just underlines the fact that the fondling and lap-dancing is a joke to him. Without an audience, he's not interested in touching me or embarrassing me. Fine by me.
I start to struggle before Simpson's left the building and Spencer yelps, jerks back, and gives me a horrified look.
"Touching me! Inappropriate touching!"
"Suck it up, Buttercup," I say through gritted teeth. There's something wet and damp on my wrists and it's not sweat. Torn skin is screaming at me to stop, but I keep trying to break the ropes, or fray them until I have to stop.
Spencer's yammering at me the whole fucking time, but I'm good at ignoring him. I pause and let myself do some panting, my eyes stinging from the sweat trickling into them, my chest burning from bad temper and exhaustion.
"Are you done?" Spencer demands, spitting the words out into my face. He's flushed and furious and I don't know why.
I frown at him. "In case it's escaped your notice, we're trapped in a building and the dirt bag who did it is making tracks for a happy ending on a tropical beach somewhere. No, I'm not done."
"You won't break these ropes," Spencer tells me. "Bones, maybe, the ropes, no."
Time ticks by as I absorb that truth, a full sixty seconds of it, and Spencer's quiet, resting his forehead against my shoulder, his breathing a little quick, ragged even. That's worrying. I clear my throat, trying to come up with something reassuring and failing. He's warm, even in the dank air of the warehouse, radiating heat I can feel across the inches separating us. I shiver and he lifts his head.
"We can share body heat," he says brightly, "but we need to be naked for it to really work and --"
"I'm fine, Spencer," I snap. God, he's so…oblivious. How can a man who notices grains of sand on a beige carpet not realize that I'm hard, my dick stiff in my pants? It's just adrenaline, of course, or a simple physical response to the forced intimacy of this fucked-up situation. The fact that I'm gay, in denial, and the last time I was with a man was so far back I can't even remember what he looked like, let alone his name, has nothing to do with it.
Yeah, I can keep telling myself I'm over the need to get laid by someone with a dick I can suck to get me off to sleep, but it's not going to make it true.
The answer comes to me a moment later. He can't miss it. He knows. He's just pretending to ignore it. I should be grateful, but it just makes me hate him a little bit more. He led me here, babbling about messages from beyond. I should've called for backup, but Spencer can be persuasive when he wants to be. I'm going to have to put this all in my report and if Chief Vick doesn't suspend me, I'll make her. I deserve it. I'm an idiot.
This isn't the time for this. I need to escape, capture Simpson, and do my goddamn job. My wrists are bleeding, my shoulders ache with a vicious throb from all the violent tugging on my bonds, but that's not why I'm hurting. I failed. I let Spencer -- us -- get taken and I let Simpson escape.
"I can get out of these cuffs," he tells me.
"I don't think so."
"Henry taught me three different ways, then put a pair of cuffs on me. It took me six hours to get free with my hands cuffed in front of me. He let me pee, then put them on me again, this time with my hands behind my back. That took longer and he laughed at me for not working my hands back to the front again."
"Jesus," I say, shocked more than I want to be. "Why?"
"Because criminals sometimes get the drop on even the best cops," Spencer tells me, "and when they do, the cop needs to know how to get free. I know."
"How old were you?" It's not important, but it seems to matter.
Spencer shrugs. "Eleven, twelve."
"Which was it?" I snap, knowing I'm being unreasonable and a total asshole. He brings it out in me. I'm different around him. People are starting to notice.
"Both," he says mildly. "The cuffs went on the day before my birthday and I got out of them around two the next morning."
When we get out of this, I'm going to visit Henry and -- no, no, I'm not. Spencer's relationship with his father is between them and Spencer's more than capable of fighting his own battles. His entire life proves that.
Besides, he lies. How can I ever trust -- Wait. Spencer's breathing is all over the place and he's biting his lip. If he wants to take a leak, he can hold it. I'm not walking out of here with piss-soaked pants that I know he'll blame on me. It might come to that eventually for both of us -- damn that extra-large coffee -- but not yet.
"Stay still," I say into his ear. His hair, that ridiculously tufty mop of his, tickles my face and I can smell shampoo and sweat. I take a deep sniff and curse myself. I already know what he smells like and it's, well, it's not unappealing, but if I have doubts and suspicions about the way Spencer leans, I know for a fact that even if he's into men, he's not into me. He touches and he strokes, he runs his hand over my face and slaps my ass, but that's just to piss me off in public. If we're alone, he keeps his distance, always.
"When did you find out you were gay?" he asks, so casually it doesn't register for a moment. When it does, I go dizzy, sucker-punched. I knew it was too good to be true.
"The same day I found out I can leap tall buildings. Oh, wait, I can't."
"I don't need to be psychic to know you're fibbing to me, Lassie-liar, pants on fire," he says.
"I'm not lying and I'm not gay." I pause and then grudgingly ask how he knows.
"You're not even trying to shoot me," he points out. "That's one. And the other is, well --"
He falls against me, writhing shamelessly, rutting up against me like a cat in heat. I know why he's been keeping his distance, because he's dealing with the same problem I've got. He's hard, solid heat packed inside baggy jeans looking for a way to punch free and get touched.
He moans, I curse, and for a frenzied few seconds, we buck up against each other, mindlessly grinding away, reduced to base and basic instincts. We don't kiss. It's as romantic as a root canal.
I'm starting to wonder if come-stains will show against navy pants when he jerks back, his eyes glassy until he blinks them sharp and clear. I'm still trying to focus and the blood's roaring loud in my ears. "That's how I know."
One last attempt to get out of this not outed. I'm not ashamed of what I am, it's just personal. Spencer probably wouldn't believe that, but it's true. There's a lot about myself I don't like, but I save the self-loathing for things I could change -- should change -- and don't. "I'm not gay. I'm just desperate. It's been a while and you're a warm body. Don't flatter yourself it's more than that."
"You'll admit that your sex life is non-existent but not that you're gay? Dude, we are so, so different."
I cave. Why not? He isn't psychic, but he's not brain-dead, either. "Fine, I'm gay. I wear a pink tutu in every Pride Parade and I lost my virginity to a trucker named Ted who was hung like a horse and rode me like a pony. Can you shut up and let me get back to these ropes?"
There's a click and the cuffs -- my cuffs -- fall to the ground with a clink.
"Why don't you let me take care of them?" Spencer says and his voice is tight with something -- anger, disappointment, hurt, something. "Since you clearly don't want me to take care of anything else."
"Are you flirting with me?" I ask, incredulous. "Jesus, Spencer, you're bleeding, I've got a fugitive to catch, and you're coming onto me after outing me? Your timing sucks."
"Henry also taught me how to take advantage of situations," he says. "You don't realize it yet, but I didn't."
He goes off in search of something sharp, leaving me to contemplate, not for the first time, just how much a parent can push a child off-track and to wonder just what he meant because he sure as hell had taken advantage of me.
He's halfway through working on my bonds with a shard of glass when he slices skin, not rope -- he needs three stitches in his finger, later, I find out. Now, I just hear him hiss with pain when the glass slips, then get back to what he was doing. I never said he didn't have guts.
O'Hara storms the building as the last strand parts. Her timing sucks, too. Simpson was pulled over for running a red light and gave up our location after five minutes in an interrogation room with her and Vick. I don't ask questions then or later about how they broke him.
Spencer gives me a hopeful, expectant look as he's led away by a paramedic and I shake off O'Hara and chase after him. Detaching him from the medic requires flashing my badge and yelling a lot, but I get him alone for long enough to say what I need to say.
He nods at some of it, rolls his eyes at the rest, and I guess I've got a date for Saturday night. We'll see. It's three days away and he's not all that reliable. Ask Guster, if you don't believe me. I know where he lives, so it's not like he can stand me up.
As he walks away, his swaying ass inviting a look -- or my hand -- he starts to hum. It takes me to the chorus to realize that I'm singing 'If I said you had a beautiful body, would you hold it against me' in my head.
I want my gun back. Now.
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