PART TWO (Read Part One here)
Tony quickly checked the street before throwing his car door open, hurrying out, and slamming it shut. He darted onto the sidewalk, chucking his coffee cup into a trash bin he passed as he bolted down the sidewalk, John several feet ahead of him. Damn, but the man could run. Even without the head start, John would still be ahead of him. His best friend might be a smartass, but when it came time to get down to business, he was intense.
Two days they’d waited for their guy to show up, and finally they were going to bring him in. John was shouting at the guy to stop, but the bastard just bolted into the middle of the street. Tony cursed under his breath when John followed. Fucking idiot was going to get himself hit by a car.
They ran through the street, cars screeching as they skidded to a stop, horns blazing while the three of them dodged vehicles coming at them from all directions. He felt like the frog in that damn arcade game John loved to play. Here’s hoping none of them went splat. Tony’s heart almost stopped when a car headed straight for John.
John didn’t stop. Goddamn son of a bitch slid over the hood of the car and kept on running like he was the Six Million Dollar Man. Tony was going to kill him. If they survived this, he was going to strangle his best friend. No, he had a better idea.
“Stop!” John shouted, gaining on their guy when the he took a sharp left onto 5th street. Tony lost John for two seconds before making the turn and in time to see John disappear into a building. Tony was panting by the time he got there. He ran up the stairs into the converted brownstone when he heard the commotion above him. “You’ve got to be fucking kidding me.”
The door to the roof slammed open, and Tony reached deep to keep going. His chest was burning, and everything hurt. There was something off about their guy. Why wasn’t he getting tired? Tony made it out onto the roof just as they man jumped across to the next roof. Tony gaped after him. Then he saw John picking up speed.
“Are you fucking crazy!”
“Come on, partner!” John made the leap, and Tony’s heart jumped too, right into his throat. Oh, John was so going to get it. John landed in a roll before popping up and taking off full speed. This was insane. His partner was insane. He was not going to jump a damn building—
“Anthony, I need you!”
Tony let loose with every swear word he knew and then some, taking off before common sense could prevail. He said a quick prayer, and made the leap, landing hard on the other side, but rolling like they knew to do. He pushed himself as hard as he could to catch up to John, and just as he did, they dove for their guy, tackled him to the ground. The man was strong. Stronger than they were. John turned the guy over, and all the pieces came together. It was obvious by the reflection of light in his eyes.
“He’s a Therian,” John said. He reached for his cuffs, and the guy threw his hands up in front of him and curled up into a ball.
“Please don’t hurt me!” The man was genuinely terrified.
John slowly kneeled beside him. “Hey, it’s okay. We’re not going to hurt you, but we do need to bring you in for questioning.”
“I didn’t do anything. Please.”
“Why did you run?” Tony asked.
The guy looked from Tony to John and back. “I was scared. It’s not safe for people… like me. For… Therians.”
Tony let out a heavy sigh. He couldn’t argue with that. Ever since the May Day Massacre a few months ago, it felt like the world was coming to an end. The city was burning around them, citizens against citizens. There was so much death and destruction.
“What’s your name?” John asked gently, helping the guy sit up.
“Will, we’re not going to hurt you, I promise,” John said. “We received information that you might have information we can use to help solve a murder where a man was shredded to death.”
Will’s eyes went wide. They welled up, and Tony felt for the poor guy. He looked to be about in his thirties, which meant he’d been real young when he got infected.
“You a soldier?” Tony asked.
Will nodded. He lowered his gaze to his fingers. “That’s how I got infected. Doc says I… I probably won’t live to see forty.”
John cursed under his breath and shook his head. He gently placed his hand on Will’s shoulder. “You don’t know that, Will. I hear they got top scientists working on how to help Therians. Don’t lose hope.”
“Doesn’t matter. I’ll be in jail anyway.”
They helped Will to his feet. The poor guy had given up already. Tony couldn’t have that. “What kind of Therian are you?”
“Um, a wolf,” Will replied. He gave Tony a small smile. “Guess it fits. I’ve always been more of a dog person.”
“Well, we’re pretty certain our victim was killed by a Therian with really sharp claws.”
John nodded. “Plus, it happened three days ago, and after changing back, you’d be in no position to give us the run of our lives you just gave us.”
Will perked up. “That’s right. I try really hard not to give into the urge to change. The first time I changed back, the doctors said I almost died. I’m terrified if it happens again that I won’t survive.” Will let out a heart wrenching sigh, the tears rolling down his cheeks as his bottom lip trembled. “Doesn’t matter. I’m still going to prison. They don’t care if I’m not the right kind of Therian. The fact I’m a Therian is enough. It wouldn’t be the first time. Seems like it’s happening every damn day.”
John took hold of Will’s shoulders. “Now you listen to me. We’re not going to let you go down for a crime you didn’t commit. You come down to the station, let us take your statement, go over what you saw, and we’ll fight for you.”
Will’s jaw dropped open as he stared at them. “You—Why?”
John smiled warmly at Will and patted his shoulder. “Because you fought for us.”
God, he loved this man. Tony couldn’t help his dopey grin. “Trust me on this, Will,” Tony said, jutting his thumb at John. “If this guy knows you didn’t do it, he will move heaven and earth to make sure you get the justice you deserve.”
Will was silent for a moment before he nodded, a look of determination coming onto his face. “Okay.”
They escorted Will back to the car, and helped him get into the back. They didn’t cuff him. Something told Tony they weren’t going to need them. As Tony drove them back to the station, he could feel John’s eyes on him.
“What?” Tony grumbled.
“I can’t believe you jumped for me.”
Tony scoffed. “Are you kidding me? If I didn’t, Gina would tear me a knew one for letting you go off on your own like the damn fool you are. Which reminds me, if you ever do anything like that again, I will bust out Old Betsy. Do you hear me?”
John was looking too smug for his own good, and Tony knew just how to wipe that smile off his face.
“On second thought, I might just tell Gina.”
John gasped. “You wouldn’t.”
Tony arched an eyebrow. “You wanna try me, Daley?”
“Who’s Gina?” Will asked.
“His wife, who is currently balancing work and a little boy just like him who’s going through his terrible two’s.”
Will cringed. “Ooh, I would admit defeat if I were you, buddy.”
“Fine,” John huffed, folding his arms over his chest, and pouting.
Tony held a hand to his ear. “Fine what? That didn’t sound like a promise to me.”
“I promise I will not jump off buildings,” John said. The smug grin returned. “Especially since my best friend who loves me will jump after me. Because he loves me.”
“I don’t know how Gina puts up with you,” Tony grumbled.
“Because she loves me, yeah, yeah, yeah,” John sang.
“Oh God, and the singing begins. Sweet baby Jesus, help us all.”
John continued to sing, and Tony shook his head with a chuckle. His friend was all kinds of crazy, and all kinds of amazing. Tony wouldn’t change a thing.
THIRDS Thursday is on hiatus during the release months of October and November and will return in December with a holiday special!Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.