It was the weirdest case Cameron Hicks had been on since he’d joined Dr. Rosen’s team. And that was really saying something.
Of course, it had started out fairly normal. For their cases. There had been a rash of suicides, and Dr. Rosen was convinced an alpha was behind it. As usual. But then a medical examiner had found a weird pathogen of some kind in their blood, and Dr. Calder had come from the CDC again to check it out. And then she had brought in this other team, from a government warehouse in South Dakota.
And… well… things had gotten weirder from there.
But now they’d caught the bad guy (who was an alpha using what the Warehouse team called an “artifact”), and Cameron hadn’t had to shoot anybody, and he and Bill were sitting in the back of a truck drinking beer with Lattimer and Jinks from the other team, so things were going pretty well.
Then Lattimer decided he needed an introduction to Nina—a proper introduction. And Bill was very happy to provide him with one. So they left and then things got weird again. Because Cameron hadn’t even had two beers, and he still couldn’t take his eyes off Steve Jinks.
Eventually, he coughed, to break the tension, and then asked, “So how come Dr. Rosen hasn’t snapped you up for our team?”
“What do you mean?” asked Jinks, staring down at his beer can.
Cameron felt even more uncomfortable, because obviously the other guy didn’t want to talk, but he had to continue what he was saying anyway. “You’re an alpha, right? Like us? I just don’t know how Rosen managed to miss dragging you onto the team.”
Jinks looked up, but it was just to shake his head. “I’m not an alpha. I’m just a regular guy.”
“But you have that power,” Cameron said. “You can tell when people are lying.”
Jinks shrugged. “It’s not really a power. I’m just that good.” He grinned, and Cameron couldn’t help grinning back. Steve was cute when he smiled.
He did not just think that.
He chugged the rest of the beer to cover for himself, then shook his head. “So you don’t have the alpha blowback, either?”
“I don’t know. What’s that?”
Cameron shrugged. He probably shouldn’t have brought this up. “Oh, you know. Side effects. None of our powers come without a price. I mean, you met Gary.”
“I like Gary,” Steve said. “He doesn’t lie.”
“Yeah. My point is, being an alpha kind of messes you up.”
“I get it. So what’s your side effect?”
Crap. “I, uh…”
“It’s okay,” Steve said, laughing. “I understand. You don’t want to talk about it. I’m sure I wouldn’t.” He shifted around so he was sitting right next to Cameron.
“But I know what you mean, even though I’m not one of you—I mean, Rosen said I’m not an alpha,” Steve continued. “I don’t know how he knows. But knowing when people are lying doesn’t always have the best effect on relationships.”
Cameron nodded. “I get that.” Steve looked sad again. Cameron put a hand on his shoulder. It was supposed to be a friendly, comforting gesture.
That went out the window when Steve turned around, grabbed Cameron’s collar, and kissed him.
Cameron froze. All kinds of different responses were coursing through his brain and he couldn’t pick just one. After a few seconds Steve pulled away. “Shit,” he said. “You’re not gay, are you.”
“I, uh, not exactly?” Cameron tried. He definitely couldn’t lie…
“Sorry. I guess I’m bad at reading other kinds of signals. Shit. I’m really sorry.” Steve started to stand up.
And Cameron didn’t want that to happen.
So he made a split-second decision, and then he did exactly what Steve had done: grabbed his collar and kissed him back.
Yeah. That was a lot better.
He didn’t know how much time passed while he kissed his fellow secret government agent in the back of a confiscated trunk, but eventually, he heard not one but two throats being cleared outside. The two of them let go of each other and looked. Rosen and Artie Nielsen were both standing right outside, identical expressions of mild disapproval on their faces.
“Shit,” said both agents simultaneously, and scrambled to their feet.
“There’s no rule against fraternizing with fellow agents,” Rosen said mildly. “I’m glad you’ve found someone, Cameron.”
Artie just coughed again. “Time to head back, Jinks.”
They both jumped down from the truck. “I’ll, uh, I’ll call you,” Cameron said to Steve.
He grinned and shook his head. “Lying.”
“Text you?” he tried.