This is not how Dean imagined his Sunday morning going.
He turns down the alleyway, lungs burning as he chases the flailing figure a block ahead of him. The parcel in his hand is heavy, and he didn’t think to listen for ticking noises before grabbing it and running after the stranger who left it on a park bench. Not that terrorists use ticking bombs these days.
In hindsight, if this is a bomb, Dean shouldn’t be running with it. Oh well.
The stranger—with his tanned trench coat fluttering behind him—turns down another alley, and Dean smiles. This is his turf; he’s patrolled this neighbourhood in daylight and under the cover of flickering street lamps. He knows where all the dead ends are, and Trench Coat is heading straight for one.
He slows down to catch his breath and makes a mental note to work on his cardio when he hits the gym next. When he rounds the next turn, Dean snorts and tries to hide his amusement behind a huff of breath as he catches up to the stranger. Who is desperately trying to climb the chain-link fence and failing miserably.
Dean taps the guy on the shoulder, then grabs his arm and spins him around. “Hey man, where d’you think you’re going?” He pulls out his badge and waves it in front of the stranger’s face. Even when he’s off duty, Dean can’t let something as suspicious as a dropped parcel go uninvestigated.
The stranger staggers and rights himself before looking up at Dean, and something cinches tight in Dean’s chest. A pair of glittering blue eyes stare at him with a hint of panic and fear. “Um, Officer, I did nothing wrong.” The man holds up both hands, palms facing Dean, and backs into the fence with a clang. He winces.
“You forget this?” Dean slaps the parcel wrapped in brown paper into the stranger’s outstretched hand and bites the inside of his cheek to keep from smiling. This shouldn’t be so funny. A person in an oversized trench coat leaving strange parcels around screams fishy. Yet, looking at this man now—with his big blue eyes and his deer-in-headlights expression—Dean has a hard time picturing him as some hard criminal with an agenda.
Then again, no one looks like a murderer until they murder someone.
The stranger grips the package to his heaving chest and frowns. “It’s not illegal to leave parcels around.”
Dean’s eyebrows shoot for the sky. Is this guy for real? “Um, dude, after nine-eleven? You can’t just do that shit anymore.”
Wide blue eyes get wider. “This is not a bomb. I am not interested in public chaos and mass murder.”
“Then what is it?” Dean crosses his arms and tries to ignore the heat flushing along his neck. It’s this goddamn weather and definitely not how endearing the stranger looks with his head tilted to the side, his expression an open book. Why did he wear a collared shirt in the heat of the summer?
“It’s…” Trench Coat clutches the parcel tighter and stares at the toes of his shoes. “It’s a book.”
“A book.” He looks up, eyes blazing with indignance and perhaps a little anger, as if daring Dean to mock him.
Dean blinks. A book? He chased a guy for the better part of ten blocks over a book? On his day off no less? Christ on a cracker. “You fucking serious? Why?”
“It’s the greatest love story ever told,” he replies. “And I want to share it with the world.”
Oh boy. Dean resists the urge to roll his eyes, but his interest is piqued and the words slip out before he can check them at the door. “Which book?”
Trench Coat unties the string and unwraps the book with care. He holds the book out to Dean, blue eyes pinning Dean to the spot as his face splits into a smile that rivals that of the sun. “The Princess Bride, of course.”