Prompt: Can we see some time with Seb as the team leader and how the team started to heal and trust him. Maybe the scene where Dom finally accepted Seb and their friendship started?
Seb couldn’t believe it. After all these years, it was official. He had his own team.
Seb blinked, realizing he must have really been lost in thought if he hadn’t sensed Hudson approaching. He smiled wide.
Hudson’s cheeks flushed, and Seb’s heart did a little flip. He was so damned beautiful.
“Hi,” Hudson replied, smiling sweetly. “I just heard the good news. Congratulations on the promotion.” His expression softened, sadness coming into his eyes. “You deserve it, after… everything.”
Seb quickly stood, and came around his desk. His instinct was to pull Hudson into his arms, but he stopped himself at the last minute. Instead he took a seat on the edge of his desk, arms crossed over his chest to keep himself from reaching out.
“Thank you.” He sighed, and dropped his gaze to his boots.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m excited, and grateful to be given a chance like this, but I also can’t help worry about my relationship with these guys. When Sparks decided to promote me, I thought I’d get to keep the original team. Instead, she shuffled the teams around, and all of Stone’s agents ended up on Theta Destructive with me.”
“Are they being insubordinate?” Hudson asked gently, stepping closer.
Seb shook his head. “They’re very professional, so I have no complaints there, and I know they trust my judgement as their Team Leader, but….”
“They’re wary of you.”
“Yeah. Why the hell would Sparks give them another tiger Therian Team Leader after what Stone put them through?”
Hudson smiled warmly, and it sent warmth flooding through Seb like it always did. “Perhaps Sparks chose you because you’re the perfect choice.”
Seb didn’t understand. “How am I the perfect choice?”
“Everyone knows you, and your brothers. They know how loyal you are, how hard working. Everyone loves you.”
Seb couldn’t help his smile. “Everyone?”
“Well, um….” Hudson cleared his throat, the flush back in his cheeks. “Anyway, give them time. I’m certain they’ll come around.” He patted Seb’s cheek, and Seb leaned into the touch, placing his hand over Hudson’s. They stayed like that for several heartbeats, their gazes locked on each other.
“Sorry, am I interrupting?”
Hudson quickly pulled back at the sound of Dom’s voice. Seb missed Hudson’s touch so much it hurt.
“Thanks, Hudson,” Seb said again, waving back at Hudson as he left the office, and disappeared. Dom took a seat at his desk opposite Seb’s while Seb took a seat behind his own desk. He logged into his desk’s interface, the office uncomfortably silent.
“Must be tough.”
Seb glanced up at Dom. “What is?”
“Having a marked mate, and not being able to be with him.”
Seb was surprised. It was the first time Dom had brought up something not entirely related to the job. Seb thought about playing it down, or brushing it off. They weren’t friends, and Seb wasn’t one to talk about his personal life, but when he opened his mouth to dismiss Dom, he found himself telling the truth instead.
Dom stared at him. He’d clearly not expected the answer.
“Breakups are shit as it is, but when it’s your mate, it feels like you’re being ripped apart from the inside out, and that’s nowhere near as what your marked mate feels.” Seb looked to the door Hudson had walked out of. “The pain he feels every day….”
“He’s being a stubborn ass if you ask me.”
Seb blinked at him. “What?”
“The Doc is a great guy, but he’s being a stubborn jackass.”
Seb opened his mouth to reply then closed. He didn’t really know what to say to that. Dom leaned forward, his gaze intense.
“What happened to you guys was messed up, but it’s done. Haven’t you both paid enough? Look, I like really like the doc, but he needs to get over himself, and come back to you.”
“I’m way too sober for this conversation,” Seb muttered. Was this really happening?
“Let’s change that, shall we?” Dom stood, and Seb looked at him dumbly before Dom motioned to the door. “Drinks at Dekatria?”
Seb looked at his watch. Although their shift was over, he’d had been putting in extra hours for months now to catch up on the workload Stone had left behind, but Dom was reaching out to him for the first time since Seb had joined the team. He’d be stupid not to take Dom up on the offer.
“Okay.” They headed for the locker room where they showered, and changed. It was likely they’d run into fellow agents at Dekatria, but Dom surprised Seb once again by heading upstairs to the roof garden, and bar instead of downstairs where their fellow agents were more likely to be. It was clear Dom didn’t want to just get drunk, he wanted to talk. Dom got them a table, and Seb went to get them drinks. We got back, Dom thanked him for the beer.
“I ordered us some burgers and fries.”
“Thanks,” Seb replied, sitting back and taking a swig of his beer. He tapped his fingers against his leg wondering what the hell to say next.
Seb laughed. “I gotta be honest, Dom. I am. Can I ask you something?”
Dom nodded before taking a sip of his beer, his hazel eyes never leaving Seb.
“Why didn’t you take over Theta? As second, you have the experience, and you guys are like family. Why have someone else come in? Especially when Sparks pulled me in for the Coalition case. I was still on probation. You could have fought it.”
Dom put his beer down, his eyes lowering to the table. He was quiet for so long, Seb was about to tell him not to worry about it.
“Actually, the Coalition case is what made me realize how different you were to Stone, and that we needed to give you a chance.”
Seb stared at him. “What?”
Dom leaned forward, his voice low as if someone else might hear. “You lied.”
Seb swallowed hard. “About what?”
“About Destructive Delta’s involvement.”
Fuck. Dom knew? Fuck. “Dom, I—”
Dom quickly held a hand up to stop him. “Yes, you lied, but you did it to protect them. To protect Dex and Sloane. Here you are, a shiny new career dangling in front of you, and you put it all on the line to protect them. Sloane was your Team Leader. The rest of those guys had been your team at one point, and were still your family, and you not only risked your career, but your life. That’s how I knew you were different.”
Seb found it difficult to talk. All this time, Dom had known, and instead of turning him in, he’d given Seb the benefit of the doubt.
“Is what I did all that different than what Stone did?”
Dom’s hazel eyes filled with anger. “Yes, it fucking is. You put your job, and your life on the line for your family. Stone went against everything we stood for. He betrayed us, his badge, and his sister’s memory. Fuck him.”
The pain in Dom’s eyes was difficult to see. The man was always so boisterous, and full of life. His smile had a way of disarming people. Yeah, he was loud, foulmouthed, and had a habit of mothering his teammates to death, but he was an amazing guy. Seb saw it the more time he spent around the guy.
“You think they’ll ever trust me? I mean, really trust me?” Seb asked, picking the label off his beer.
“I’m working on them,” Dom said, winking at him, and making him chuckle. His phone rang, and he held up a finger. “One sec. It’s Zoey.” He tapped his screen, and held the phone to his ear. “Whatever Lee did I don’t want to hear—” Dom’s smile fell away, and he jumped to his feet. “Where? I’m on my way.” He hung up, his eyes glazing over, and his skin flushed a deep red. “I’m gonna kill that son of a bitch.”
“What is it?” Seb asked.
“I gotta go. Peyton’s in the hospital.”
Seb jumped to his feet. “What? What happened?” He hurried after Dom who stormed toward the stairs.
“Peyton started seeing this guy a few weeks ago. I knew he was bad news. I could see the signs. Now that motherfucker’s put Peyton in the hospital.”
Seb felt his anger boiling over. Someone had hurt someone on his team. The fact that it was Peyton, and that the big guy reminded him of Ethan didn’t help his anger one bit. Peyton was a giant of a tiger Therian, the biggest in their unit. He was also the gentlest soul Seb had ever known next to his little brother. If someone had hurt him, it would be the last time it happened. No one was going to hurt his team while he was around.
PART TWO next week.
Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.