Heart to Heart
The evening after the incident, the werecat had visited Boss to debrief. Expecting a greeting by a popper, congratulations, and a hot bath, he instead had the Razor Tribune dropped into his hands. A fuzzy cellphone pic of him being carted away on a gurney was on the front page and used on today’s broadcast. A few minutes later, the two of them were curled up on Boss’ love seat with the local news station talking with “experts” about the situation.
“Alexis’ death is all over the news,” Theodore complained while combing his fingers through Boss’ hair. “I’m all over the news.”
Uncaring, Boss laid across his lap with a glass of wine at his lips. The robe had fallen off his shoulder to the crook of his arm, and it annoyed Theodore. He furrowed his brow. This whole situation annoyed him.
“Did I forget to tell the journalists to exclude the rumors about you?” Boss asked, not bothering to look at him.
Grinding his teeth, Theodore turned off the TV. Luckily for Boss, he wasn’t the one on a wanted list for killing the chief commissioner! The Rift CEO pointlessly tossed money at him, but he was a stickler for a little empathy.
“It sounds like you did. Eyewitness reports gave me away and everything.” Theodore ceased his head rub in rebellion. “If I’m caught, you’ll be in trouble too.”
Boss glanced upwards. “From what I’ve seen, most speculate you’re one of the masks fiends calling for Alexis’ removal. You fit the profile. What’s the problem, kitten?”
Theodore stared at Boss taking another sip of wine. With his eyes closed and a fiendish smile planted on his face, Boss really said “I don’t give a damn.”
“The rumors of White Rabbit are now public. I got more than rival gangs watching me now. Next thing you know, people will buy white rabbit masks and be arrested because of this!”
Boss chuckled. Theodore scowled at him.
“You watch too many movies. Ow! My skull doesn’t take too kindly to your claws, kitten.”
Theodore sneered, “If we did things my way, we wouldn’t be in this situation. How many cops did you kill to save me?”
“Seven. Ouch! You had a few cruisers tailing you. And if we did this your way, we couldn’t plant any bugs,” Boss said calmly, sitting up and reaching for the wine bottle.
Theodore stared, blinked, and shook his head. “What?”
“I told you before. Someone was buying off Alexis. I realized I needed to pay more attention to what’s happening at the station, so I left some ears when I went in for my testimony.” He sat back and swirled his refilled glass.
Boss smiled at him. “Did you notice how quickly the police responded to my boys?”
Theodore remembered how a cop caught him aiming at Alexis.
Boss said, “Either Alexis had some overzealous proteges or his sponsor hired a group to keep an eye on him because he has so many death threats. I had our instigators leave bugs on them.
“Since they wore civilian clothes, the bugs’ll land in their homes where our technician can move the devices about and access the information we need.”
Boss chuckled. “If we learn nothing, then at least I completed the mayor’s request. If we do learn something, I have an advantage against this mysterious sponsor. The police are neutral territory. I can’t have someone putting claims over it.”
Unsatisfied with the answer, Theodore took the glass from Boss’ hand.
He emptied it with hardy gulps. Rich, a little spicy, and a mistake to drink all at once. He coughed.
“Tsk. If you’re going to drink, you should savor the wine not guzzle it down like a barbarian. I even—”
Theodore silenced Boss with a kiss. Smiling, Boss kissed him back, but the smile faded as Theo dug his nails into his chin.
“If you dare leave me in the dark again,” the werecat squeezed his cheeks together, “I’ll do more than chug your expensive wine.”
“I can’t make any promises,” Boss said, looking like an idiot with his lips puckered. Theodore released him, and Boss rubbed his cheeks with a pout.
Taking back the glass and setting it aside, Boss added, “Rescuing you from an ambulance was very entertaining.”
When Boss moved to rest his head on his lap, Theodore rose and stomped towards the television. Sighing heavily, he stared at his reflection and the reflection of a pouting Boss flopped against a pillow.
“It wasn’t entertaining for me. I’m not human, Ime. What would’ve happened if I reached the hospital? Would you have killed everyone there in the event someone found out?” he asked, clenching his fists.
“But the plan wasn’t for you to reach the hospital,” Boss said with a nonchalant shrug.
Digging his nails into his palms, Theodore forced his feet to remain planted.
When he opened his eyes, Boss was watching him curiously. Theo noticed him struggling to keep a smile from his face.
“Then what was the plan? ‘Cuz what you told me at our ‘tea date,’ was that you were supposed to kill Alexis with me plus one a bullet.” He glared back at the real Boss. “Bugs? Undercover Rift employees? A fuckin’ ambulance shoot-out? Why didn’t you consult me about any of that?”
“Because you’re a hitman, kitten. Espionage isn’t your forte. I came to you to kill a guy. After your last few fumbles, I wanted you to focus on what you’re good at.”
Boss sat up and patted the spot beside him. He said, “I understand your anger. You may view this as me withholding information, and it was a bit reckless.”
Theodore didn’t go. He folded his arms and stared expectantly for him to continue.
Boss pouted and touched his fingers to the nail marks on his chin. “You already warned me not to do it again. I’ve learned my lesson, kitten.”
Theodore rolled his eyes. “I don’t think you have.”
“I love you too much to hurt you like this. I’d rather fight over me overspending on outfits than your competency on missions.” Boss smiled lightly. “I’ll see what I can do to get you off the front page. Find a fall guy? Spin the story? Revive the dead? Consider it done, kitten.”
Theo looked back at the TV. “I hate that you have so much power.”
Silence fell between them. He felt Boss’ gaze and gave into the temptation to glance over at him. The man laughed and Theo grimaced.
“Kitten, please. This isn’t one of your movies. I’m not completely serious. Finding an Alexis body double would complicate things, and I know how you feel about needless sacrifices.” Boss winked at him. “But you’re familiar with how dramatic I can be. I’ll give the news outlets something more enticing, so stop worrying.
“Now get over here. I won’t ask a third time,” Boss demanded, tapping the spot beside him.
Theodore stared at him. Boss may not be straightforward, but he acted on his promises. If he could somehow move the spotlight away from him, Theo could breathe a little easier. He’d confront Boss about his secret objectives in missions another day, but for now, he sat down beside him.
“You said you loved me,” Theo said.
“Mhm. And I’ll say it as many times as I must.”
“You won’t send an assassin out to kill me?”
Boss exaggerated a groan and rested his head in Theo’s lap. “I suppose I’ll tell them to come another day,” he chuckled.