.. | exit running | chapter 7
Ramsey slammed the door of his bedroom and stood huffing for a moment. "Fuck," he groaned to himself, shoving his fingers back through his hair.
There was a gentle knock at the door.
"Go away," he said harshly, hardly expecting to be heeded. But Jesus, he'd had enough for today.
Marlow slipped inside without hesitation and leaned back against the door as he closed it.
"He's not such a bitch once you get to know him," he said.
Ramsey fidgeted with a book of matches he found on the bedside table. "I'd rather not get to know him," he said.
Marlow smirked. "Didn't know you could be such a drama queen." He advanced into the room and stood in front of the cop, looking down at him. Then he knelt, putting himself at Ramsey's level.
"I'm sorry," he said, changing his tone and wondering at the feel of an apology coming from his own lips. He couldn't remember ever having apologized for anything in his life. "Sorry for what he said to you, whatever it was. I don't know what's come over him lately."
Ramsey didn't answer, but merely looked at him, the matchbook forgotten.
"I know he's a cold person," Marlow looked aside again, "and maybe it's because he's stressed or something, but he's usually never so... cruel."
"Really." Ramsey sounded bitter. "Why are you telling me this?"
Marlow looked up and met his gaze. "I don't know." He was looking at how Ramsey's eyes were dark again, in this light, and how his eyebrows were a shade or so darker than the hair on his head. How he had a perfect, strong jaw line and a contoured neck with delicate tendons visible to his exposed collar bone that had suck me written all over them.
He stopped himself, the realization hitting him like a brick. He was attracted to Ramsey. And Duchy knew it.
As soon as he'd realized it, there was suddenly no doubt in Marlow's mind that his lover could sense something like that. Was that why Duchy was so mean? Was he doing it to the cop on purpose? Was he jealous?
Marlow's mind sang with that thought. Duchy. Jealous. What an idea.
And it was true too; he was attracted to the cop, more than he had realized. And why? Because he was cool and mysterious, gorgeous and unaffectionate. Every quality that he'd ever been attracted to and so far no one had really possessed them all in the right quantity, besides Duchy. But instead of having them in a small and graceful body he could hold and protect, here those traits were encompassed in quite a different body. In a strong, virile man.
He looked Ramsey in the eye again, wondering what the cop would do if he knew what was going through Marlow's mind at that moment.
Indeed, what would he do?
Marlow leaned closer, his eyes darting from Ramsey's eyes to his slightly parted lips. He had a good full mouth, such kissable lips that Marlow had seen turn up into the sexiest sarcastic smirk whenever Ramsey had to deal with Duchy's flirtations in the past.
"Liefje," Duchy said from the doorway. His hushed tone snapped Marlow's attention away from Ramsey's mouth to turn and look at him.
Duchy made no comment on their proximity; there were more pressing matters at hand.
"There's someone outside, Liefje" he said. "And I don't think they plan on knocking."
Ramsey was up in a flash, his hand shooting under the pillows and withdrawing a gun, at which both Marlow and Duchy stared. Marlow gave a smirk and padded to the other room for his own artillery.
Left alone, Duchy and Ramsey stared at each other, each irritated with the other for wholly different reasons.
But now was not the time for that.
Ramsey checked the magazine of his gun to make sure it was full. He shoved it back into place.
"How do you know someone is there?"
Duchy smirked. "Call it intuition-"
Two gunshots reverberated through the apartment. Duchy dove to the floor, while Ramsey had moved in that same instant up against the bedroom door frame, his gun held ready. He peered out the door into the suddenly dark hallway. There was only silence.
"Marlow-" Duchy breathed.
"Quiet!" Ramsey hissed. He stood as still as a deer, listening for any hint as what, who and how many they were fighting.
Crashing noises from the kitchen and a guttural howl made Duchy jump where he crouched on the floor as more shots rang out. He was cursing himself for not being armed. He watched the cop for a cue of action.
But Ramsey remained where he was, his chin slightly raised as if he were listening to something. The place was quiet, the silence dragging on so long that Duchy began to tremble, imagining a thousand different ways Marlow could be lying on the floor bleeding, or already dead, while they did nothing.
"The lamp, Duchy," Ramsey breathed.
The boy gazed up at him, not comprehending as first. Then, it clicked, and he slinked noiselessly across the floor with the grace of a cat and turned off the only light in the room.
Now it was completely dark and Ramsey alone knew the place well enough to be able to defend himself efficiently.
"They're after me," Duchy said as softly as he could.
"Then I suggest you hide," Ramsey breathed.
Marlow huddled in the dark kitchen behind the counter, next to the man he'd just killed. He was trying to quiet his breathing; there were still more in the house.
His right hand, poised against the floor was bathed in something warm. He lifted it and wiped it on his shirt, realizing that blood from the man's head wound was seeping over the linoleum. Marlow had cracked the back of his head open with an iron pan, then sailed over the counter to escape flying bullets, dishes and whatever else crashing to the floor behind him.
"Come on," he breathed, wiping his bangs out of his eyes. He had not made it to their room to get his gun and he damned himself for getting too lax as to not even carry a pistol with him.
A single gunshot rang out from the direction of the bedroom, followed by the highly recognizable 'thump' of a body hitting the floor. But whose?
By his calculation, there was one left, if that 'thump' hadn't been Ramsey or Duchy. He'd only gotten a glimpse of three darkly dressed men standing in the living room before dodging bullets and darting into the kitchen. He prayed that there hadn't been more outside.
Christ, he couldn't see a thing. He had no idea where the third man was.
But in a second he heard a crash from the bedroom and what sounded like a physical struggle. Marlow darted for the hall, taking a gamble that this was their last assassin.
Ramsey swallowed, feeling the barrel of the man's gun move with his throat. He was up against the bedroom wall, an automatic to his neck and a very familiar looking man holding it there.
"I'm sorry," Laroche said with a smile. "I really do make it a habit to call before dropping by, but I believe you forgot to leave me your card."
"I didn't forget," Ramsey said. "I make it a habit not to deal with dicks like you more than I have to."
"Shhh," Laroche answered. "Now is not the time for insults. Rather, I think you should be answering my questions."
Ramsey just glared at him, well aware that his gun was on the other side of the room, thus far too out of reach to be any good.
"I'll start with this one," Laroche continued in his lofty tones. "Where is he?"
"Which one?" Ramsey asked, without missing a beat.
His assassin smirked, amused. "Oh? How many do you keep around here?"
The cop shrugged. "Six or seven."
Laroche blinked. Then he smiled. "I didn't figure you for that sort of thing, knowing you had a wife and all."
Ramsey tensed before he could stop himself, but Laroche had already felt it. He let off of his captive, but kept his gun trained on him.
"Surprised? We know a lot about you, believe it or not," he continued, pacing a bit in front of the cop. "We know a lot that you don't, as well."
"What are you getting at?" Ramsey growled.
"Where is the boy?" Laroche asked again.
"You going to shoot me?"
Laroche cocked his head. "If I must. I could search the house myself."
"And what if he's not in the house?" Ramsey said, narrowing his eyes. "Would you strip search the city?"
"If I have to. I'm getting tired of games," Laroche muttered, stopping his pacing.
Ramsey didn't flinch. "Why do you want him?"
"As I said before, I will ask the questions."
"Then I'll decide whether or not to answer," the cop snapped.
He was rewarded with the gun's pressure back on his throat, this time making it difficult to breathe. Laroche's eyebrow twitched. He really was getting impatient.
"It was brave of you to house them, you know," Laroche said. "Marlow was tricky to find this time; we didn't think he'd go running right into the arms of his enemy. But," he paused, "it was fortunate that we got a hint as to where he was, from a colleague of yours. Or at least he was a colleague of yours-"
Ramsey's blood froze. No one knew but-
Gun or no gun to his throat, Ramsey collected himself for the fight of his life. "You son of-"
A single gunshot pierced Laroche's sternum from behind and the bullet splinted the wall only inches from Ramsey's side. Blood spattered the cop's neck and chest from the exit wound. Laroche slumped to the floor, leaving Ramsey standing against the wall, blinking down at him.
"It's not a good idea to attack a man with a gun to your throat," Marlow said, standing in the doorway and lowering Ramsey's gun.
The cop leaned back against the wall with a heavy sigh of relief. "Where the fuck have you been?"
"Listening and learning," Marlow said, walking up to him and inspecting Ramsey's bloodied lip. "He could have killed you."
The cop batted his hands away and knelt beside the bed. He extended an arm underneath it and dragged a very dusty Duchy out from under it. The boy stood up, sneezed and began to dust himself off.
"Six or seven, huh, Ramsey?" Duchy said.
The cop rubbed his lip. "I try to keep it to a reasonable number," he muttered acerbically.
Marlow snorted a laugh as he looked down at the body.
"You were supposed to be dead days ago, you fuck," he sneered. Then, he looked up at Ramsey and Duchy. "We can't stay here," he said.
The moment he spoke the words, Ramsey's memory shot back to him. Bastian.
He bolted from the room, grabbing his gun on the way out. Duchy and Marlow were quick to follow and in a second the apartment was truly empty, with only the sound three dead bodies could make.
Bastian's modest street front condo was dark. Even the porch light was out.
Ramsey's heart was pounding in his ears but he refused to let his fear and guilt take him over just yet. Not here, not now, and definitely not in front of these two.
"He lives here?" Duchy whispered. "How much do they pay you guys?"
"Quiet," Ramsey snapped, glancing down the empty streets before pulling his gun and testing the doorknob. It was unlocked.
He crept inside, squinting into the dark house, trying to get a bearing on where everything was. The street lamp out front hardly did any good on the inside.
Marlow crept in past him, his own gun drawn as he peered into the empty living room, and then slipped into the kitchen. Ramsey watched him go, taking a moment to realize the irony of the situation that they were both suddenly on the same team.
Duchy pressed himself against Ramsey's back.
"I heard something," he whispered. He gestured upstairs.
The carpeted stairway was thankfully silent as they crept up to the second floor. Ramsey had no clue of the house's layout. There could be someone hiding right around a corner and he wouldn't even know to look.
With his night vision finally adjusting, he could see that the end of the hall looked promising for a master bedroom, and the door was even slightly cracked. He stayed Duchy with a hand and moved onward, heart beating and gun held ready for anything he might find there.
He plastered himself against the frame and slowly pushed the door open, took a deep breath, and moved inside. In an instant he was hit from behind with the force of a body that shoved and then fell with him all the way back on the bed, unseen hands tearing for his gun. Ramsey fought to keep it, the wind knocked out of him. He was pinned on his back and couldn't see a damn thing. But then it clicked in his mind that whoever he was fighting wasn't wearing a shirt-
And then the lights came on.
The cop quite suddenly found himself staring up into the eyes of his own partner. Bastian was staring wide-eyed down at him, looking equally as stunned. He was breathing hard and his hair was tousled, and he indeed, was shirtless. It was as if he'd just gotten out of bed-
"Val!" he breathed. "What on earth are you doing here?!"
Duchy stepped away from the light switch and knelt next to the bed, obviously amused at their compromising position.
"Six or seven and you still have enough energy for your partner?" he asked.
Ramsey pushed Bastian up off of him and coughed. Damn, he'd really knocked the wind out of him.
His partner still looked confused. He scratched his head as he regained his breath. About that time, Marlow appeared in the doorway and cocked his head curiously to the scene.
"But what are you doing here?" Bastian asked again, looking from Duchy to Marlow and back to his partner. "You scared the Jesus out of me!"
Ramsey sat up. "I thought-" he started. "He said a colleague-"
"Must be a leak," Marlow piped up. "Someone else knows."
Bastian still looked confused.
Duchy sat down beside him on the bed and ran a finger down his bare arm. "We had some visitors tonight, Sugar," he clarified.
"Laroche," Ramsey said to his partner. "And two others. He said he knew their whereabouts because of someone in the department. I assumed he was talking about you."
Bastian swallowed. "So what happened?"
Ramsey rubbed his face. "I have some explaining to do as to why there are three dead bodies lying in my house." Christ, he was so exhausted, mentally and physically.
Marlow grabbed Duchy's arm and pulled him towards the door. "No you don't," he said. "Not just yet anyway. We'll take care of it."
Both cops looked up at him.
Marlow smirked, shoving Duchy, who was silently protesting, out the door.
"We'll be right back."
Ramsey and Bastian looked at each other.
"Do you think that's such a good idea? Letting them handle it?" Bastian asked, raising a concerned eyebrow.
Ramsey shrugged and hung his head for a moment. "At this point, I'm willing to let them do the dirty work."
After a moment of silence, Bastian looked as if he was suddenly aware of his state of undress. Quickly he rummaged around in his dresser and pulled on a black tanktop, then turned back to his partner. He ran his fingers back through his hair.
"It's not right, Val. We should report it," he said, though he didn't sound very sure of himself.
"After what I've been through these past few days..." Ramsey sighed. "All I want to do is sleep." As he said the words he realized the ache in his body from lack of sleep and the night's physical trials. He could pass out right now and wouldn't care.
"Well you can't go home," his partner said with a wry smile. He paused another short moment and then walked back over to his partner. "Jesus, you're a mess."
Ramsey looked down to see his shirt spattered with dark blood and God knew what else. He rubbed his jaw and found caked blood there too. Christ, he must be covered in it.
Bastian didn't ask any more about what happened. Instead, he reached out as if to grab hold of his partner's shirt, and hesitated.
"Let me help," he said when Ramsey didn't respond. Then tugged at his partner's bloodied shirt and pulled it over his head. Ramsey let him do it, feeling as though his system had crashed, now that the excitement appeared to be over.
"Careful," Bastian said with a smile, catching him as he leaned forward. "Adrenaline withdrawal?"
The blond nodded wearily, rubbing his face again.
"I could run you a bath," Bastian said after a moment.
"You don't have to wait on me," his partner answered.
Bastian made a sound of disapproval. "I had two younger brothers who always came home filthy and mum only had two hands. Trust me, I'm used to it."
"I was an only child," Ramsey offered, toeing his boots off. "I'm used to that."
Bastian smiled and disappeared into the washroom. He started the water running in the tub and emerged again, brandishing some folded towels.
"That doesn't surprise me. You seem hardly able to take care of yourself, much less siblings."
Ramsey heaved himself up and took the towels from his partner, finding himself favoring a bath over more of this conversation.
He paused at the door to see that Bastian had sat down on the bed. Ramsey was at a loss for words, but he felt he should say something about how much Bastian was putting up with. He doubted he could have been as hospitable, or at least as nice about it, were the tables turned.
"Thanks," he said.
Bastian waved his hand. "Take your time."
part 8 | back to part 6 | back to main