Authors: Tracy St. John
A physician stepped out of Hurs’ room, interrupting Gelan’s train of thought. Gelan knew the doctor on sight, the ever-efficient Imdiko Nameq. He straightened and called out to interrupt the man, who was busy tapping on his handheld.
Nameq glanced up at Gelan in quick acknowledgment before going back to inputting information. Gelan waited patiently for him to finish his notes. Nameq was older and already clanned. Too bad, Gelan had thought more than once. Every time he saw that sleek-featured doctor, he got deliciously evil thoughts in his head. Like how the much slighter Imdiko would be easy to dominate, unlike a Nobek. That thought had Gelan peeking at Wynhod from the corner of his eye. Of course, fighting for superior position wasn’t all bad either. Sometimes even losing could be fun, especially to a man like his former lover.
Finally Nameq switched off his portable computer and gave Gelan his full attention. As always, he was the epitome of polite competence, getting to the point without being prodded. “Hello, Investigator. Your friend Hurs is quite addicted, to the point that the withdrawal is trying to kill him. It’s going to take some time to flush the Delir completely out of his system.”
Gelan hid his impatience at the news. He had expected as much. “How long until I can question him?”
Nameq shook his head. “Not before tomorrow, I’m afraid. Nobek Hurs is not even remotely a part of our world right now. Call me in twelve hours and we’ll see if he’s coherent.”
Twelve hours. Gelan allowed a sigh to escape before finding graciousness. “Thank you.”
The doctor’s gaze flicked to Wynhod, who stood at Gelan’s shoulder. “Your men will be ready this time, I hope?” Nameq’s tone held a slight edge.
Gelan assured him, “Without question.”
“Good. I’ve already had to sedate Hurs’ mother. Any bigger shocks to her emotions, and she’ll be going to need in-house care.”
“Understood.” Gelan didn’t pretend the grimness he felt.
Nameq walked away. Gelan turned to Wynhod, whose expression was curious. Well, the Dramok could satisfy that curiosity and impress on his partner the need for the highest level of security at the same time.
Gelan said, “The last time we brought a live one in suffering from Delir withdrawal, we had actual hope he’d become lucid enough to interview. It looked good. Dr. Nameq thought the addict wouldn’t be forced to live his life out in psychiatric care. However, someone from the gang slipped in. He killed the poor bastard before we could question him.”
Wynhod’s eyes widened. “Was he guarded?”
“The investigator in charge at the time didn’t think there was a need. The junkie had been placed in stasis for the drug flush. He wasn’t going anywhere on his own until the withdrawal was over, at which time he’d be taken to headquarters for processing. Everyone felt confident enough to leave him.”
“No one thought anyone would care about a druggie, I take it.”
“That was the idea. That’s why I ended up heading the case from that point on.”
The two men said simultaneously, “No mistakes this time.”
A grin took hold of Gelan’s face, echoed by Wynhod’s laugh. Just like the old days, they were on exactly the same page. It was like the last seven years had never separated them.
Wynhod stepped over to the two enforcers standing guard at Hurs’ door. “No one enters the room unless they are medical personnel or the parents. In all cases, no one goes in without an enforcer present in the room.”
He got nods and a resounding, “Yes, sir.”
Satisfied by the stern expressions on his fellow enforcers’ faces, Wynhod came back to Gelan. “What’s next?”
“We’re at a standstill until Hurs is able to string together a few sensible thoughts or Forensics brings back their report on any evidence found in his living quarters. It’s the end of the shift, so we’ll call it for the day.” Gelan pursed his lips and looked Wynhod over critically. “I guess you’ve done okay for your first go as my partner.”
Wynhod snorted and raised an eyebrow at him.
Gelan snickered. “Yeah, yeah, you did great. You don’t need me to tell you that.”
“I still appreciate my due accolades.” Wynhod’s voice was light, telling Gelan he only teased.
Gelan took a breath and tried not to sound too hopeful. “Want to grab dinner?”
One side of Wynhod’s mouth edged up in a crooked grin. “Are you buying again?”
Managing not to come off as delighted as he felt, Gelan snorted, “I don’t recall you being such a mooch. When did that get started?”
“Right around the time you paid for my second breakfast this morning.”
Gelan laughed and led his partner down the hall. “If I’m paying, I get to choose where we eat. You’re not spending my entire month’s pay on filling that endless gut of yours.”
Gelan couldn’t help but contemplate his dining companion. He sat across from Wynhod at a small table at the dining establishment he’d chosen for their dinner. The food here was good, inexpensive, and the atmosphere relaxed. Intimate lighting made every one of the low tables seem a private oasis. The seating cushions were comfortable, on par with what one might find in a private home rather than in an establishment where they would get a lot of use.
The burly Nobek had a slight smile on his face as he contemplated his choices. He poked a finger at the menu pad imbedded in the table.
Gelan teased, “My next paycheck says you’re ordering both the ronka steak and sturnek shells.”
Wynhod pursed his lips. “Damn. I was really looking forward to spending your paycheck too.” He rolled his eyes up to meet Gelan’s gaze and grinned.
The knowing expression sent a jolt through Gelan’s body. Once more, he thought how it felt like the last seven years hadn’t happened. His stomach churned uneasily.
He turned away, looking over the patrons at the other tables so he didn’t have to look into Wynhod’s purple eyes. Gelan felt way too exposed to his former lover. Though he couldn’t handle meeting the Nobek’s gaze, he acknowledged what had him so nervous.
“This is too damned easy.”
He heard the smile in Wynhod’s voice. “Strange how it feels we can just pick up where we left off, right?”
“I scare you? Good to know.”
Gelan looked at Wynhod to see his companion grinning from ear to ear. The Dramok snorted. “Fuck that. You couldn’t scare me dressed like a Tra—”
He gasped at what he’d been about to say, his eyes growing large with horror. Wynhod’s mother and one of his fathers had been killed by Tragooms, ambushed on a small outpost while on a trip. Of all the stupid things to blurt out…
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to say that.”
Wynhod’s tone was devoid of emotion. “I appreciate the respect and accept your apology.”
Gelan felt sick inside. He had no doubt the evening he’d been enjoying had just come to a screeching halt. It took real effort to keep his eyes on Wynhod.
To his relief, Wynhod gave him a patient look. “It’s okay, Gelan. Really. If I haven’t come to terms with it after more than 15 years, I’m really fucked.”
Gelan nodded, still feeling bad for his slip. “How are your fathers?”
Wynhod’s smile returned. “They’re doing well. When they found out where I was transferring to, they asked me to give you their best.”
“You must tell them I send mine as well.”
“I will. And how is the clan that gave us the mighty Dramok Gelan?”
“Same as ever. Still dealing in Joshadan imports.”
“And still refusing to get you a discount?”
Gelan laughed, finally feeling a little more at ease after his faux pas. “Still. Which is probably for the best.”
Wynhod swallowed some bohut, grimacing with pleasure at his drink. “It sounds like you continue to love to spend it as fast as you make it, huh?”
Gelan grinned, a little embarrassed that the Nobek had picked up on how little some things had changed. “You’d think I’ve never had a luxury in my life. I have managed to stay out of debt since you saw me last.”
Wynhod looked at him, obviously pleasantly impressed. “Well that’s good. Do I dare hope my influence had anything to do with that?”
Gelan gave him a mock scowl. “Every time I’m ready to plunk down my account number, I hear your voice in my head. ‘Gelan, is this something you’ll still be enjoying a year from now?’ You’ve ruined many a shopping excursion, my friend.”
Wynhod laughed. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, I’m not as tight as I used to be. I get your voice in my head too, saying as you always did, ‘What kind of life is it when you deny yourself everything you want?’”
“You always said I was an evil influence. Yet I see it’s me picking up the dinner check. I’m spending and you’re saving once again.”
“Absolutely. Are we done with the polite chitchat yet?”
Gelan sighed, relaxing as he drained his own glass of potent drink. “Thank the ancestors. I hate that shit.”
“Good. My home or yours tonight?”
A surge of pure lust coursed through Gelan’s body, making his cocks warm and twitch. He managed to keep his tone casual and considering, however. “Hmm. Good question. On the one hand, I have some nice things I don’t want to see broken when we fight for dominance.”
Wynhod nodded, his expression just as offhand though his eyes had gone dark. “No doubt every room of your home is decorated to a tee. Seems like we were never able to contain our battles to the sleeping room, if memory serves.”
Gelan gave him a dangerous smile. “On the other hand, I know where all the weapons are. I rather like having that advantage.”
Wynhod snorted. “I hate to see you waste money by us destroying your pretty things. And I definitely don’t want you killing the mood by making me laugh over your attempts to wield weaponry. We’d better make it my place. I still haven’t unpacked everything, so there will be plenty of room for me to kick and then enjoy your ass.”
Gelan let his fangs descend so he could bare them at Wynhod. “Ha! Good luck with that, Nobek.”
Wynhod flashed a similar feral display before letting his fangs fold back and giving him a searching look. “It’s good to be with you again, Gelan. I am sorry about your last partner, but I can’t deny how much I’m looking forward to working with you. And fucking you.”
“Not if I fuck you first.”
They grinned at each other as a waiter brought their meals and fresh glasses of bohut. Gelan enjoyed his meal and conversation that followed, along with the anticipation of what would happen later.
Damn, Wynhod was as perfect as ever. Gelan wondered if it was too early to be thinking about clanning this delicious Nobek.
* * * *
Wynhod led the way into his apartment. As soon as he crossed the threshold the lights came up about thirty percent. It was dim, but good enough to see by.
Most of his furniture had been placed, good heavy pieces made to withstand careless and sometimes rough use. Many of the Nobek’s personal and decorative items were still packed up in the containers that were stacked along one wall. It wasn’t that Wynhod didn’t know where to put his belongings. He’d simply not been in a hurry to pretty his new home. He wasn’t much for the indoors anyway. The only thing he’d been quick to unpack besides his clothes was his mountain climbing gear.
He turned to Gelan, who peered with some amusement at the half-done arranging. While the Dramok canvassed the greeting room, Wynhod stared at him. Damn, Gelan looked good. His friend was still young and looked it. The years had only set a more mature cast on his face. When they’d last been together, Gelan had still been three years from being able to clan without parental permission. Now he was old enough to ask anyone he wished.
Wynhod frowned at himself. He’d not even had a full day with Gelan yet, but clanning had already entered his mind. Could that be right? Or was it just his memories and overriding lust for the regally handsome Dramok driving him to think such thoughts?
He shook his head. The soul searching could wait. Right now, he was ready to fuck.
Pretending to have some civilization in his soul, Wynhod said, “As I mentioned, I haven’t really unpacked yet.”
Gelan nodded. “This is a nice space. Convenient too, if we want to ride to and from work together. I live only five levels above you.”
“Those are larger homes, aren’t they?”
Gelan shrugged. “I bought in two years ago looking towards the future.”
Wynhod swallowed. Gelan had purchased a unit fit for a full clan, consisting of at least three men if not also the female lifebringer most groupings hoped to attract. Yet he hadn’t started his clan yet. While Mataras were nearly impossible to find and Imdikos not a given, Nobeks were a simple matter to clan. Gelan could have easily already found a clanmate of Wynhod’s breed … and yet he hadn’t. He’d said over dinner he hadn’t been serious over anyone since leaving the Northwest Mountain Territory. Since his affair with Wynhod.