Companion to The Doctor and the Addict
Benen Trelayne has worked hard to make Assistant Detective by age 27, but protecting the city of Jewylle on Ilben is no easy job. When Benen removes a mysterious puzzle box from a murder scene, he isn’t expecting to have to deal with anything more than cracking the case.
But while attempting to stop a robbery, the curious box is activated, and Benen’s stuck trying to figure his way out of a puzzle spell with only a thief who calls himself Gus for help. Benen is sure Gus knows more about the murder than he’s saying, but can’t arrest him unless they can work together enough to escape.
“This isn’t something you and I can solve stuck in a magical corridor with no exits,” said Benen, peeling himself off the wall and moving toward Gus, who eyed him.
“The magic does not actually care whether we solve the murder, it cares whether we get along. I, however, care if it means I’ll be locked up on exiting.”
“I can’t make promises,” said Benen.
“Of course you can.”
“You’re nobody at the moment. I don’t even have a family name I can wave at Thea. You need influence to get out of shit like what I caught you doing. Don’t -- I like the way you scowl.”
Gus raised an eyebrow at him again and Benen grinned at him. Let Gus figure out if he was saying it to get him to stop making that face, or because he actually did find it attractive. Gus crossed his arms and leaned back against the wall, not objecting when Benen moved closer to him. If he hadn’t been closing off his posture so much, Benen would have considered taking his hand again.
“What kind of agreement do we have to reach?” asked Benen, then when Gus shrugged, “It’s not going to make us fuck, is it?”
Gus’s scowl quavered and then dropped. He chuckled.
“As entertaining as it sounds to drop a couple rival warriors in here and have them do battle in bed until their issues are resolved, that isn’t how this works. Coercive sex? No. I imagine the spell doesn’t care if that’s how people want to work it out, but physical intimacy isn’t a requirement. Learning to work together isn’t about that.”
“Relax then, Gus. Your ass is safe.”
Gus tsked and looked away, but he relaxed somewhat against the wall. Without stopping to consider, Benen leaned in next to him, put his arm up against the wall. Gus was facing away from him, but turned at the motion. He didn’t move, didn’t shuffle a few feet down the corridor, just met Benen’s gaze, as unafraid as he’d been when caught in the evidence storage room. A small, cocky smile pulled up the corner of Gus’s lips, just enough to make Benen wonder if he was being played.
Damn, there went his heart. Gus was someone he’d need to arrest, and he was just who Benen wanted. It was almost as though the fact that he wasn’t too honest drew Benen. Just the hint of his old life, a harmless lie or two, something he could never indulge in now. He represented law, and Gus represented ...
“I’m willing to work together with you, willing to get along,” said Benen, and leaned in closer to Gus’s jaw. The man didn’t flinch.
“I can do the same. That ought to be enough for the damned spell.”
But it wasn’t. And Benen knew why. It was trust -- to truly fix problems between two people, there had to be trust. Not everything had to be told, not all things bared, but enough had to be there for trust. Benen leaned in further, to Gus’s ear, to whisper.