Category - Flash Fiction

THIRDS Thursday - 8/17/17

Prompt: I did a poll on Facebook asking who readers would like the next flash fiction story to feature, with the runners up getting the following THIRDS Thursday. We had Austen and Zach for the last three weeks. This week it’s Taylor and Angel! Happy reading!

Part One


It was finally happening.


Angel’s head snapped up, and he realized he hadn’t heard a word of what Seb had said. He gave Seb a sheepish grin. “Sorry, Boss.”

“No problem,” Seb said, his expression turning concerned. “You okay? You’ve been kind of spaced out today.”

Angel nodded, his thumbnail between his teeth.

“Then why is your leg bouncing?”

Angel looked down at his leg as if just noticing it. Crap. He put a hand to his knee, stilling himself. “I’m fine. It’s just….”

Seb leaned in, his tone quiet. “He’s going to be fine.”

“What? No. Who?” Angel straightened. How did Seb…? There was no way Seb knew. Angel hadn’t been that obvious. Had he? Shit, what if he had? It wasn’t like he talked to Taylor around his coworkers. It was always when he was home, or on his own in one of the sleeper bays. After months of only being able to talk to his best friend on the phone, Angel was finally getting to see Taylor.

“I know you’ve been worried about him,” Seb said. “We all have. But you’re closer to him than any one of us, so I know this has been really hard on you.” Seb finished his coffee, and sat up, smiling at him. “He should be here soon. Why don’t you go upstairs and wait for him?”

“Thanks,” Angel replied, grateful to Seb who headed off.

Usually Angel sat with his team in the canteen during break, but today he’d wanted to be on his own, so he’d stayed back, and decided to take his break later. As if sensing his anxious state, Seb had appeared with a big grin and two lattes, one for Angel, and one for himself. He hadn’t talked, just kept him company, and it had somehow helped soothe Angel. It was strange that a tiger Therian of Seb’s size could comfort with his presence alone. Seb could be intimidating as hell, and sometimes he could be an asshole, but mostly he was a great guy who really cared. He was firm, but fair. Angel respected the hell out of him. It was Seb who’d sat Angel down and told him the truth of what had happened to Taylor.

Angel still couldn’t believe it. He’d heard of TIN. Who hadn’t? He’d just never come close to anyone associated with TIN. It wasn’t like their operatives introduced themselves or went around flashing badges. He knew they were out there, knew what the agency’s missions statement was, but that was the extent of it.

It had shocked the hell out of Angel when he’d been informed Taylor had been taken to a TIN facility after he’d attacked Sloane and Dex. Hearing from Seb what General Moros had done to Taylor broke Angel’s heart, and all these months later he was still furious about it. It was a good thing Moros was dead, because if not, Angel would have made the bastard pay for what he’d done. Seb had been honest, letting Angel know he couldn’t give him all the details, and Angel understood. It was obvious this whole mess was bigger than him. All that mattered was Taylor, and Angel had almost cried when he heard Taylor’s voice. It had been rough, low, filled with pain, and at the same time, relief. He’d been happy to hear Angel’s voice.

What started out as one phone call had turned into a daily occurrence. They’d given Taylor his own phone, and Angel would text him to let him know when he could talk, and they did. They talked about everything any anything. Taylor wanted to know everything about his day, from what he had for breakfast to what case he was working on. Whenever Angel’s phone rang, and his screen showed “unknown caller” Angel’s heart would skip a beat.

As the months went by, Taylor grew more and more desperate to get back to his life, and Angel grew more and more desperate to see him. Some days were especially hard, because Taylor would sound distant, or not completely present, and Angel worried about the tests they were running on him. He couldn’t understand why it was all taking so long. Even Dex admitted he was worried because of how long it was taking TIN to clear and release Taylor. Angel lost count of the months. And now, he was finally back.

Angel had wandered up to Unit Alpha without even thinking about it. He absently walked into his empty office, only to discover it wasn’t so empty.


Angel stared at the man sitting at his desk.


Taylor’s soft smile reached his hazel eyes. They were glassy as he stood, and he took a step toward Angel. He stopped, looking uncertain, and almost… shy.

“Hi, Angel.”

Angel didn’t think about it. He crossed the distance between them in two strides, threw his arms around Taylor, and hugged him close. When Taylor’s arms wrapped around Angel's waist, and he buried his face in Angel’s neck, Angel closed his eyes, a tear escaping to roll down his cheek.

“I’m so damn happy you’re here,” Angel said, his voice rough with emotion.

“I know everyone’s waiting for me in the bullpen, but I wanted to see you first. I had to see you first. God, I missed you.”

That was the exact moment Angel knew he was in trouble.

Part Two next week. Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday - 8/24/17

Prompt: This week we have the final part of Taylor and Angel's THIRDS Thursday. Read part one here.

Part Two

“I missed you too,” Angel said, taking a step back before he lost it and started sobbing on Taylor’s shoulder. God, it had been so long. He suddenly realized he was staring, and he cleared his throat, hoping his face didn’t look as red as it felt. “Sorry, it’s just so good to see your face. I can’t believe how long you were gone. How are you feeling?”

Taylor’s smile was big, and it stole Angel’s breath away. “I’m good, Angel. Thanks.”

When the hell had it even happened? When had he started seeing his friend as… more? At what point had he started noticing the fiery gold flecks in Taylor’s hazel green eyes? Or the sexy way his auburn hair stuck up in every direction, or those goddamn perfect puppy-dog eyes. Shit. This was bad. So very bad. There was no way Taylor would ever look at him the way he looked at—

“Hey, look who’s back.” Dex appeared in the doorway, and Angel’s heart broke just a little at the way Taylor’s face lit up when he saw Dex.

“Hi, thanks for getting me sprung from the joint,” Taylor teased, walking over into Dex’s outstretched arms.

“It was time,” Dex replied, hugging Taylor who stayed in Dex’s arms longer than necessary. Something in Angel’s gaze must have given him away without him realizing it because Dex’s expression turned concerned, and he gently pulled away from Taylor. His smile was back the moment Taylor beamed at him.

“I’m sorry if I interrupted,” Dex said quickly, motioning toward the door. “I should get back—”

“You weren’t interrupting anything.”

Taylor’s words shouldn’t have stung, but they did. Fuck, I am such an asshole. It wasn’t like Angel didn’t know how Taylor felt about Dex. He’d known for a hell of a long time. What had he been expecting? That when Taylor got back he’d flip some switch just because Dex was getting married? That he was going to suddenly not be in love with Dex anymore and fall for Angel?

When they’d talked on the phone, Taylor often asked about Dex, and they’d laugh about whatever trouble Dex had managed to get himself into that day or week. It hadn’t bothered Angel. Dex was a great guy, and Angel could see why Taylor would fall for him. He’d been after Dex since he’d joined, but Sloane got there first, or so Taylor believed. Years ago, he’d drunkenly confessed to Angel how things would have been different between him and Dex if Sloane had kept it in his pants.

Personally, Angel couldn’t see Dex with anyone other than Sloane. The two were perfect for each other. There was also the fact you had to be a special kind of crazy with the patience of a saint to be with a guy like Dexter Daley, and patience was not one of Taylor’s virtues.


Angel glanced up at the sound of his name and found Dex watching him worriedly.

“Yeah, um. Sorry. Listen, I gotta go take care of something.” Angel smiled at Taylor, and patted his arm. “It’s good to have you back. Let me know if you need anything. Excuse me.” He felt like the biggest dick in the world, but he just had to get out of there. Pretending he hadn’t heard Taylor call his name, he quickly headed for the male locker room. He wasn’t even supposed to be in today. It was his day off. Seb had given him the okay to go home after Taylor’s welcome back party. He was sure his boss wouldn’t care if he left before it.

The locker room was blissfully empty at this time of day, especially since everyone in Unit Alpha was in the bullpen getting ready to eat cake. Angel changed out of his uniform into a comfy pair of jeans, and a T-shirt. He sat on the bench to pull on his sneakers when someone sat next to him.

“Why’d you run off like that?”

Angel swallowed hard. He finished tying his shoelaces, and stood to grab his backpack from his locker. “You should get back to your party.” He turned to find Taylor blocking his path.

“What’s going on?” Taylor’s brow was creased with worry, and Angel felt like an asshole for being the cause of that worry. Jesus, like the guy hadn’t been through enough? He didn’t need Angel acting like some moody teen with a crush.

Angel summoned a smile. “Nothing. I’m really happy you’re back. Maybe we can hang out this week or something. You should go. Dex is probably waiting on you to start the party.”

At the mention of Dex, Taylor cursed under his breath. “Shit. I’m such a fucking ass.” He shook his head at himself before meeting Angel’s gaze. “I blew you off. He walked in the room, and I did exactly what I told myself I wouldn’t do.”

“What are you talking about?” Angel set his backpack on the bench, and sat, grateful when Taylor joined him.

“I told myself I’d stop pining for him like some stupid lovesick puppy. That I was going to suck it up and move on, and the first chance I get to prove it to myself, I epically put my foot in it.” He dropped his gaze to his hands, a deep frown on his face. “I’m so sorry, Angel. I didn’t mean to be a dick. You’ve been… so good to me.” He swallowed hard, and looked up, locking his gaze on Angel’s. “I don’t want to hurt you.”

Angel’s heart pounded in his ears. Did Taylor know how Angel felt? Why else would he say that? Had he been that fucking transparent?

Taylor reached up, and placed his palm to Angel’s cheek, his smile gentle. Angel couldn’t stop himself from leaning into the touch.

“I just need some time.”

Angel nodded. Did that mean there was a chance of them…. “Take all the time you need,” Angel found himself saying. Was it really possible Taylor was considering starting something more between them? He couldn’t help his big dopey smile.

“Thanks.” Taylor stood, and took Angel’s backpack from him. “Also, it’s not a party unless you’re there. Just don’t piss on any ferns.” Taylor winked at him, and walked off, leaving Angel standing there gaping after him.

“You jackass,” Angel called out, his heart squeezing when Taylor laughed, and took off. Angel ran after him. If Taylor needed time, Angel could give him that. Something told him he’d give Taylor anything he wanted if he asked. Yep, he was definitely in trouble.

Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday - 9/21/17

Prompt: Can we see Tony and John during their detective days? Like maybe on a stakeout or something?


Damn, he hated these long-ass stakeouts. He needed a shower, and he missed his nice comfortable bed, not to mention food that didn’t come served in tinfoil or wrapped in cellophane. The driver’s side door opened for him, and he slipped inside behind the wheel with a grunt in thanks. He handed John one of the coffee cups, and closed his door.

“Thanks, Anthony.” John smiled that big boyish grin of his, and Tony let out a snort in disgust at his best friend.

“You are way too cheerful after two days of this shit.”

John shrugged. “Why wouldn’t I be? The weather’s beautiful, I’m here with my best friend, and now I have java. What’s not to be happy about?”

Tony merely grunted in response before taking a sip of his black coffee. He schooled his expression knowing what was coming. Three… two… one…

“Oh my God, I thought you said you were getting coffee,” John sputtered, his face looking like he’d just tasted a rank lemon or something. Tony congratulated himself on not laughing.

“That is coffee,” Tony replied flatly.

John shook his head. “No, it’s not. It’s foul. Like they took your dirty gym socks and soaked them in water for days, and then used that water to make this coffee.”

Tony gagged a little at the thought. “You’re a cop. Foul coffee comes with the badge.”

“I’ll keep the badge, but the coffee’s getting dumped into the river with the rest of the biological waste.”

Tony reached into his jacket pocket, and pulled out a wad of sugar packets that he dumped in John’s lap. “There you go.”

“Oh, well, this changes things,” John said dryly. “Now it’ll taste like sweet toxic waste.”

Tony rolled his eyes. “They didn’t have any of that frou-frou shit you drink.”

John grinned widely. “Say frou-frou again.”

Tony flipped him off, and John cackled.

“How was that movie you took Dex to?”

John did his best to give himself diabetes as he poured packet after packet of sugar into his coffee. “He loved it. There were a couple of scenes that were a little scary, but when I asked him if he wanted to step outside, he shook his head, eyes glued to the screen. Gina took him shopping the next day, and he came back with a red zip-up hooded sweatshirt just like Elliott wears. She also bought him this tiny stuffed E.T., and he put in a basket that he made me tie to his tricycle.” John shook his head with a chuckle. His eyes went wide, and he turned to Tony with a very solemn expression. “If he gets on his tricycle and E.T. is in the basket, do not take your eyes off him. He keeps trying to make his tricycle fly. With him on it.”

Tony let out a snort. “Like I ever take my eyes of Dex when I babysit him. If he’s not tying his blanket around his neck and attempting to throw himself off the couch, he’s trying to use his jump rope as a whip.” Tony’s expression turned deadpan as he regarded his friend. “Congratulations, John, your kid’s just like you.”

“What? You mean charming?” John asked, wriggling his eyebrows.

“No. Weird.”

John gave him a knowing smile. “Does that mean you’re not going to babysit him this weekend?”

Tony’s eyes went wide in horror at the thought. “Are you kidding? Like I’m dumb enough to stand between Gina Daley and Harrison Ford.”

John laughed. “Yeah, that would not be pretty. Now I know why she keeps suggesting I dress up like Han Solo for Halloween. Can’t say I blame her. Han is pretty hot.” John winked at Tony, and Tony chuckled.

“Man, I can’t wait to see you with a teenage Dex.”

John almost choked on his coffee. “What the hell, Tony? He’s two years old, adorable, and I can’t deal with the cuteness when he’s in his footie pajamas. It’s too soon to be thinking about mood swings, teenage boy smells, or having to purchase tissue boxes in bulk.”

Tony let out a bark of laughter.  John glared at him, and Tony held his stomach as he laughed. He felt no sympathy for John. His best friend was finally going to get a taste of his own medicine, and it was going to be glorious. Tony did, however, feel for poor Gina. Having to deal with two Daley men.

“Then comes the dating,” Tony teased.

John narrowed his eyes. “Not happening.”

Tony cast him a sideways glance. “Yeah? Like you never dated? Pretty sure that’s how you ended up with Dex.”

“I ended up with Dex because I married the love of my life, and we had a beautiful baby boy that’s going to stay an innocent cherub forever.”

“Right. More like he’s going to be like his daddy before his daddy met the love of his life. Leaving a trail of havoc and broken hearts wherever he goes.”

John’s smile faded, and Tony frowned. He placed his hand on John’s shoulder. “Hey, I was just messing with you.”

“I know,” John said quietly, shaking his head. He sighed. “They’re going to break his heart one day, Tony. Some guy or some girl is going to come along and break his heart into little pieces. I think that’ll be worse than the teenage boy smells.”

Tony’s expression softened. “Well, when that day comes, we’ll buy a giant tub of ice cream, grab a bunch of spoons, and we’ll all cry into the ice cream along with him.” The thought formed a lump in Tony’s throat. If Dex really was like his daddy, he was going to wear his heart on his sleeve, and have a heart too big and too soft for all the ugly out there in the world. Tony placed his hand on the back of John’s neck, and gave it a squeeze.

“Dex has you, Gina, and me. He’s going to be okay. Besides, if some boy breaks his heart, his uncle Tony will grab Old Betsy, and pay the guy a visit.”

John burst out laughing. “And you’d do it too.”

“Damn right. Someone messes with my boy, they’re going to answer to me.”

John’s smile lit up his bright blue eyes, the same eyes he’d passed on to his little boy.

“Thanks,” John said softly.

“You’re welcome. Now drink your toxic waste.”

John chuckled, and shook his head. “Ass.”

Tony was about to take another sip of his coffee when several doors down, a guy bolted out from the building. “Shit! That’s our guy!”

Part Two 9/28/17 Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday - 9/28/17

Prompt: Can we see Tony and John during their detective days? Like maybe on a stakeout or something?

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.

THIRDS Thursday - 12/14/17

Prompt: Dex and Sloane’s first Christmas as a married couple told from the different couples POV. *** CONTAINS RELATIONSHIP SPOILERS FROM TRIED & TRUE ***

“Is this a schematic?”

Calvin stared down at the large, intricate diagram of what looked like Dex and Sloane’s house, along with a detailed layout of—were those Christmas lights? When Dex had approached him, Calvin had expected a few strings of lights, some wreaths, a few outdoor decorations. He’d never thought he’d be involved in something that involved a schematic created by a government intelligence agency.

Ethan rested his chin on Calvin’s shoulder, and reached over him, snickering as he pointed to a particular spot on the schematic.

“That’s….” They both tilted their heads. “Is that a tiny digital Dex and Sloane in the window?”

“Yes!” Dex bounced over to Ethan and threw a hand up. Ethan high-fived Dex without moving his gaze away from the schematic. His boyfriend was way too amused. He should be more concerned. Terrified actually.

Calvin narrowed his eyes at Dex. “Can you read this?”

“Of course he can,” Ash replied with a smirk. “It’s all pictures. No words.”

“Bite me, Simba.” Dex flipped him off, and turned to Ethan with a huge smile. He was looking a little unhinged.

“Is that Sloane on your ugly Christmas sweater?”

Dex looked down at his knitted red sweater with alternating snowflake and heart pattern running across it. In the center was a black jaguar wearing a Santa hat.

“Isn’t it amazing?”

“It’s… something all right.”

Christmas did weird things to Dex, and Dex was weird enough at the best of times. Calvin turned to Cael to ask how much sugar Dex had already had, but quickly realized asking the guy stuffing his face with sugarcoated Chex Mix was probably not the best idea.

“What?” Cael asked through a mouthful of crunch. His pupils were looking a little big.

Calvin smiled then took hold of Ethan’s elbow, and turned him away to whisper at him. “We’re looking at an optimum Threat Level Fuchsia situation here. Get the fire extinguishers ready, and make sure Rosa’s bringing her medical kit.”

Ethan nodded, and gave him a salute, before darting off to prepare for Dex-induced mayhem.

Since everyone would be with their respective families for Christmas, Dex had decided they should all get together to celebrate their own Christmas a couple of weeks early. He’d put off decorating until today, and poor Sloane was staying at Tony’s until the surprise was ready.

The room suddenly burst into Jingle Bell Rock, scaring the crap out of Calvin. Before he could say anything, the doorbell rang, and Dex bounced over like a reindeer on crack, the bells hanging from the reindeer antlers on his head ringing. Calvin once again asked himself what the hell he had gotten himself into.

“It’s worse than I thought,” Calvin murmured to Ethan who stepped up beside him. He looked up to ask Ethan if he was ready with the stuff when his words failed him. “What’s on your head?”

Ethan beamed at him, and flicked the little bell hanging from one of antlers, the name “Comet” stitched in white up one of the brown antlers. He held a headband out to Calvin.

“I’m not wearing that,” Calvin grumped.

“Suck it up, Summers,” Ash said as he walked past him toward the door, antlers on his head. “If I gotta wear this shit, so do you.”

Calvin glared at Ash’s back. “Yeah, because you got Blitzen. Why do I have to be Prancer?” He growled at his stupid antlers before putting them on, ignoring Ethan’s delighted gasp. He leaned in and kissed his cheek.

“Yeah, yeah.”

The girls had arrived, and cheerfully put on their antlers. Rosa was Dancer, and Letty Vixen. When Seb and Hudson arrived, Seb was given Donner, and Hudson Dasher. Cael was Cupid, and Dex Rudolph.

“Okay, who picked these?” Calvin asked. “Why am I Prancer?”

Everyone went quiet and turned to him before they burst into laughter.

“What?” They were losing their minds. Oh God, it was catching. Dex pulled his phone out of his pocket, and walked over. He tapped away at it, and Calvin eyed him warily.

“This is why.” Dex handed him the phone, and Calvin hesitantly pressed play on the video. His jaw dropped. No way. It was a video of him, drunk off his ass at Dekatria, dancing—no prancing—to Barry Manilow’s Flashy Lady. “You’re such a flashy lady,” Dex teased.

Calvin’s face went up in flames. “Delete it.”

“After you help put up the Christmas lights for my beautiful unsuspecting husband.”

“I’m gonna kill you, Daley!” Calvin launched himself at Dex, but Ethan caught him before he grabbed Dex’s antler’s and gave him a different type of holy night.

“Such a grumpy little reindeer,” Dex said with a laugh. “You have my word that I will delete it the moment the lights are up.”

“Fine,” Calvin grumbled.

Ethan wrapped his arms around Calvin, and pulled him close against him.

“Did you know about this?”

Ethan shook his head. He leaned down, and pressed his lips to Calvin's. Damn him. It was hard to stay annoyed when Ethan kissed him all sweet like this. Calvin let out a sigh.

“Okay, let’s do this.”

“I brought my medical kit,” Rosa said, winking at Ethan.

“Really, guys. It’s just some Christmas lights,” Dex said walking into the sea of lights in the middle of the living room.

Rosa arched an eyebrow at him. “Which Destructive Delta are putting up according to a schematic you had made.”

Letty turned to Rosa. “Hey, how many agents does it take to put up Christmas lights?”

“Six,” Rosa said motioning to the rest of them. “The same number it takes to cause a citywide incident

“Don’t include us in your crazy,” Seb said, holding Hudson close against him.

Ash patted Seb’s shoulder. “Not only did that ship sail long ago, it’s been docked in Crazy Town for a while now.”

Hudson sniffed Ash. “Have you been drinking the spiked eggnog? Because if you have, I want some.”

Everyone laughed, and Hudson blinked at them. “What? Are you saying there’s no alcohol?”

“You can sniff the eggnog, and get drunk after the lights go up,” Ash said.

Dex clapped his hands together to get everyone’s attention. “Rosa, Letty, you take the banisters. Hudson, you’ve got the fence. Seb, the windows. Cael, you, me, Hobbs, Ash, and Cal are on lights. Any questions, just let me know, otherwise, just look at the schematic. Decorations that are not lights can be found in their respective boxes in the dining room. All the boxes are labeled.”

Calvin had to admit, he was pretty impressed with how organized Dex was. Maybe this was actually going to be okay.

Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.    

THIRDS Thursday - 12/21/17

Prompt: Dex and Sloane’s first Christmas as a married couple told from the different couples POV. *** CONTAINS RELATIONSHIP SPOILERS FROM TRIED & TRUE ***

“You’re going to burn a whole in my floor,” Tony grumbled.

Sloane couldn’t help his pacing. It was almost time. Dex wanted to surprise Sloane by getting the crew to help him decorate the house for Christmas to make it extra special, which was touching. It really was. Sloane loved that Dex was even more excited about Christmas than usual, and all because it was their first as a married couple. It didn’t however ease his mind. Dex had a habit of going over the top, and the fact that he was bringing the rest of the crew in to help, made Sloane a little nervous. Okay, a lot nervous.

“Hey,” Tony said, interrupting his pacing. “There’s been no word from dispatch on any fires or emergency services being sent out.”

“You’re right.” Sloane sighed, and took a seat on the couch. “I’m overreacting.”

“No, you’re reacting appropriately,” Tony said, a hint of amusement in his tone. “This is Dex we’re talking about. God only knows what he’s up to, but he’s not ended up on the news so that’s a good sign.”

The fact they could judge how his husband’s evening was going based on whether or not Dex made the news was… somewhat disturbing, yet comforting because no news was good news.

His watch beeped, and Sloane stood. “It’s time.”

Tony’s reply was a chuckle as he made his way to the front door with Sloane quick on his heels. They’d had a nice relaxing day—at least when Sloane wasn’t thinking about news headlines containing the words “Strange Blond Man Causes Christmas Chaos…”.

Sloane was enjoying his “play dates” as Dex called them, with Tony. His father-in-law and former sergeant wasn’t big on chatting. He was one of those guys that believed in talking when there was something worth talking about, but there was never any need to fill the silence. Sloane could just sit and enjoy the man’s company as they hung out and read, watched TV, or played cards.

They took a cab to Sloane and Dex’s house, and on the ride over, Sloane checked his phone. No texts from anyone. No calls. No alarms. That was good right? He checked his phone battery. Fully charged. The closer they got to his block, the more he found himself leaning forward.

“You planning on crawling into the passenger seat,” Tony teased.

With a sheepish grin, Sloane sat back. “Sorry. No, you’re right. I’m good.”

The cab came to a stop, and Sloane bolted from the car. Shit. Spinning around, he ran to the window, and gave the driver money. “Thanks!” Not bothering with change, he ran across the street just like he’d been instructed. As nervous as he was, he didn’t want to spoil Dex’s surprise. Nothing was on fire, so there was no immediate danger. That he could see, anyway.


Sloane couldn’t help his dopey smile. He laughed when Dex barreled into him, and hugged him tight.

“I missed your face,” Dex said, kissing him sweetly. When he pulled back, he winked playfully. “Among other things.”

With a chuckle, Sloane pulled him close, and nuzzled his temple. They’d only been apart a few hours, but with their bond, it felt much longer. Having Dex back in his arms settled his felid half, and he let out a happy sigh.

“Where is everyone?”

Dex looked up at him, eyes slightly wide. Uh-oh. His husband might be training to be a spy, but when it came to Sloane, he was still shit at lying.

“They’re inside.”

Sloane peered at him. “Why haven’t they come out to see your big surprise?”

“They will.” Dex pulled out his phone, and waved it at Sloane. “Soon as I text Hobbs, he’s going to hit the lights, and then they’re all going to come out.” Dex’s smile widened, and Sloane braced himself.

“Is everyone inside?”

Dex nodded slowly. “Yes.”

What wasn’t Dex telling him?

“Are they all in one piece?”

Dex’s expression was unimpressed. “I did not maim any of our friends in the making of the The Daleys’ Eye-gasm-inducing Décor of Christmas Awesomeness.”

Sloane nodded, though he wasn’t quite sure he believed him.

“Ready for your surprise?” Dex was so excited he was practically vibrating.

Well, Dex was in one piece, no bandages, bleeding, bruises, or missing appendages so that was a good sign. Sloane looked him over while Dex was sending his text. He looked perfectly fine. Wait, what was that on his Christmas sweater?

“Is that me?” Sloane asked, pointing to the somewhat grumpy looking black jaguar wearing a Christmas hat.

Dex grinned up at him. “You have been forever immortalized in 100% cotton.”

“Um, thanks?” He was a little bit worried about the Christmas sweater he knew Dex had inside for him.

Dex reached into his pocket, and pulled out a pair of sunglasses that he then handed to Sloane. “Here, you’re going to need these.”

“But it’s eight in the evening.” Sloane took them, and put them on. Relax, it’s going to be fine. Where the hell had Tony gone? Probably inside. Because he’s a smart man.

“Okay, turn around,” Dex said excitedly.

The block was suddenly plunged into colorful daylight, and Sloane turned around. “Holy fuck!”’ His jaw dropped, and he took a step back. Somewhere under the millions of tiny bright lights was his and Dex’s house. The strings of lights ran from the base of the house to the roof. There were lights around the windows, the handrails, the fence. There were reindeer pulling a sleigh angled off the roof, frosted holly wrapped around the handrails along with the lights, and candy canes attached to the fence. The words “Happy Holidays” flashed in sequence to what Sloane now realized were Christmas carols coming from speakers somewhere. Christmas had exploded all over their house, and it lit up the entire block like a supernova had just gone off. There was a giant wreath on the door, and even their tree was lit up, from the bottom of its trunk to the very top, and candy canes were plunged into the dirt circling it.

“Don’t look directly at it without sunglasses or you might burn your retinas,” Dex said casually before he bounced like a little kid beside Sloane. “Do you love it?”

Sloane turned to Dex, his husband’s blue eyes filled with adoration, and his face lit up like the lights on their house. Sloane's expression softened, and he pulled Dex into his arms.

“Baby, it’s amazing. Thank you for doing this. I love it.” He kissed Dex, pouring all his love and admiration for his man into the kiss. As much trouble as Dex got into, his intentions were always nothing but pure, and everything he did, he did from his big heart. He was the best man Sloane knew, and he loved Sloane like no other. “I love you,” Sloane murmured against Dex’s lips. Dex melted against him with a dreamy sigh, and Sloane chuckled. “I have to admit, I was a little worried. I’m glad to see it all went as planned.”

Dex cringed, and Sloane opened his mouth when he heard Ash grumble behind him.

“Your pain in the ass husband needs to be declared a national disaster.”

Sloane turned, ready to reply that it couldn’t have been that bad, but when he saw their friends, the words died on his lips. Ash looked like he’d fallen down a ravine. He was covered in dirt, had a bandage over his right eyebrow, he was missing a sleeve, and a shoe. Everyone else looked just as bad. Rosa’s hair was standing on end like she was the Bride of Frankenstein. Letty was wrapped in so many bandages she looked like a mummy, Hobbs was covered from head to toe in—

“Oh my God, did someone use a fire extinguisher on you?”

Hobbs nodded, a big boyish grin splitting his face as he held two thumbs up.

“What the hell happened to you guys?”

Everyone turned their narrowed eyes to Dex.

“Well, you see….”

Three hours earlier….

Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.    

THIRDS Thursday - 12/28/17

Prompt: Dex and Sloane’s first Christmas as a married couple told from the different couples POV. *** CONTAINS RELATIONSHIP SPOILERS FROM TRIED & TRUE ***

Three hours earlier….

“You’ve lost your damned mind,” Ash growled. “Get your crazy-ass up here before I kick it!”

“Hold on. I just need to angle Rudolph a little more to the right.” All Dex had to do was stretch a couple more inches and he’d have the pesky reindeer right where he wanted him. “Just don’t let go, Ash. No matter how tempted you might be.”

“Can we please not discuss you falling to your doom while you’re dangling from my hands by your fucking belt! I’m going to kill you,” Ash growled. “I knew this was a stupid idea.”

Yeah. Yeah. So what’s new.

“Better yet, I’m going to tell Sloane on you,” Ash said, sounding smug.

Dex snorted. “No you won’t.” Just one more inch. Come on you holly-horned, red-nosed bastard.

“You think,” Ash challenged.

“I know,” Dex replied, the tips of his fingers grazing Rudolph’s front hoof. “You want this for Sloane as much as I do. We both know how much he loves Christmas. Both of you do. You might not bounce off the walls like little kids—”

“Like you, you mean.”

Dex wrinkled his nose. “Whatever. Don’t knock my childlike wonder.”

“Is that what you call it? I call it—”

Anyway, what I was saying is that Christmas means a lot to the both of you because neither of you had that growing up. You didn’t even have a childhood for crying out loud. You missed out on so much. Which is why I’m going to make sure that every single year Sloane has the best Christmas ever.” There. Yes! Perfect. Santa’s sleigh and his reindeer were now at the perfect angle looking as if they were taking off from the roof of their house. “Pull me up.”

Ash tugged with his usual finesse, and Dex flailed. He twisted his body so he wouldn’t hit Rudolph, and Ash growled at him.

“Stop fucking twisting, you ass!”

Dex felt Ash’s grip loosen, and he panicked, throwing an arm out to grab Ash, catching his sweater’s sleeve. The knitted Christmas sweater gave way, the sleeve tearing completely off, floating down like a giant red snow flurry. Dex yelped as he hung over the side of the house, swinging precariously as Ash held on to his belt with one hand, and grabbed a fistful of his sweater with the other, cursing him out.

Cael jerked at Dex’s distressed cry, his head shooting up to see Dex, and Dex’s eyes widened as he watched the chaos unfold before his eyes, as if it were happening in slow motion. Cael reeled back, slamming into Rosa who had a screw driver in her hand that she was using on one of the light fixtures. The tray of mugs containing hot chocolate in Cael’s hands went flying in the air, and something fizzed and popped, sparking a large flame while Rosa jerked, her hair smoking and standing on end. The hot chocolate came cascading down all over Hudson who spun to get out of the way, and slipped on one of the mugs, the rest hit the sidewalk, the ceramic shattering into hundreds of tiny projectiles and spraying Letty who let out a slew of curses to rival Ash’s. At the same time, Seb dove to catch Hudson, his boot snagging on one of the rows of garland, and over three hundred pounds of tiger Therian barreled into Letty, and Calvin who’d run out with the fire extinguisher. He cursed as Seb landed on him, his hand involuntarily squeezing down the handle, and white smoke bursting out all over Hobbs who’d rushed to help his boyfriend.

“Shit! Pull me up!”

Ash yanked at Dex, and he went slamming into Ash. They stumbled back, and Dex landed on one of the bags of dirt for the front garden. The bag burst, spewing dirt all over Ash who slipped on the melted snow and Dex’s jaw dropped as Ash soared through the air, and landed on his back in the middle of a huge puddle of snow and water which was now mixing with the dirt.

“I’m going to fucking kill you!”

Dex scrambled to his feet, and made a run for the door, Ash his heels. He hurried downstairs, and out the front realizing his mistake.

“Um, hey, guys.”

Everyone stood slowly, their narrowed eyes on him.

“Good job, everyone.” He slowly inched back toward the door. “It um, looks amazing. Sloane’s going to love it.” His back came up against something hard, and he could all but feel Ash’s laser eyes burning into him. Dex’s watched beep. “Oh, look at the time. Sloane’s going to be on his way over in five minutes. We should wrap up, and get inside.”

Everyone marched forward, and Dex knew he had about thirty seconds to live.

“I just want to say thank you for helping me with this. It really means a lot to me, and just so you know, I really appreciate you guys.” He let out a sigh, and pouted. “I’m sorry. You know Sloane means everything to me, and all I wanted was to give him the kind of Christmas he should have had as a kid.”

His friends stopped. They exchanged glances before all looking up past him to Ash who whirled Dex around to face him. He grabbed Dex by the collar, and thrust a finger in his face, opening his mouth to no doubt tear him a new one.

Dex mumbled quietly. “I’m sorry, Ash.” He shrugged. “He just means everything to me, you know?”

Ash let out a groan, and released him. With a sigh that told Dex he was the most annoying thing in Ash’s life, Ash turned toward the door.

“Everyone get inside. Sloane’s on his way.”

Dex stood to one side, his heart full of love for his friends. His family.


Dex blinked, his eyes refocusing on the beautiful face looking down at him. He gave Sloane a sheepish smile. “So that’s what happened.”

Sloane looked from Dex to their friends, and back. His expression softened, and he pulled Dex up against him to kiss his brow. Then he turned to their friends, his expression filled with so much love and pride.

“Thank you. Thank you for,” he motioned to the house, “taking all this on, just for me. It means so much. You all are the best family a guy could have.” Sloane left Dex to grab Ash in a big hug. “Thanks, Ash.”

Ash grunted, but he wrapped his arms around Sloane, squeezing, his voice rough when he spoke. “You deserve the best. Even if your husband is a menace.”

Sloane chuckled as he pulled back.

“Okay,” Ash said, clearing his throat. “Let’s all get cleaned up and get this party started.”

Dex hung back as everyone headed in, and Sloane pulled him into his embrace again. The flurries turned into a beautiful snowfall. The street was quiet, Christmas carols playing while the lights of their house twinkled. Sloane put his hand to Dex’s cheek, and Dex all but melted against him.

“Merry Christmas, baby,” Sloane said softly, his amber eyes filled with so much adoration for him.

“Merry Christmas,” Dex replied, his heart feeling as though it would burst from all the love he felt for this amazing man. “I love you.”

“I love you.” They kissed sweetly until it got too cold to stay outside any longer. When they pulled apart, Dex gave Sloane a mischievous wink. “Wait until you see what I have planned for next year.”

Sloane stared at him before he threw his head back, and laughed. He laced his fingers with Dex’s, and as they headed inside to spend Christmas surrounded by their little makeshift family, Dex couldn’t think of a time he’d been happier. He was so very lucky, and blessed. His family had grown over the years, and even though they had their differences, and they drove each other crazy, they all loved each other, and Dex wouldn’t change that for anything.

They stepped inside, and Dex stopped just inside the living room watching his friends and family laughing, joking, and chatting as they helped clean each other up. Letty and Rosa were in hysterics as Tony helped them attempt to tame Rosa’s frizzed mane. Seb stole a kiss from rosy-cheeked, somewhat tipsy Hudson as he wiped the hot chocolate off his husband’s face. Ash had a dopey grin on his face as Cael fussed over him. Hobbs and Calvin had their heads together, big boyish grins on their faces as Calvin murmured something to him, making Hobbs laugh softly, happiness twinkling in his green eyes.

“So what did you ask Santa for?” Sloane asked, kissing the top of Dex’s head.

“Nothing,” Dex said, his eyes getting a little teary as he smiled up at Sloane. “I already have everything I ever wanted.”


Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.    

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