Armstrong Park is a riot of colour and sounds in the second week of October. The weather is cooling, as much as it ever does in New Orleans, and locals and tourists alike have flocked out to enjoy it.
Chris would love to be down by the river, a line in the water, feet up and a cooler of beer propped open next to him. Throw in King in a chair next to him and it sounds like paradise.
Instead he’s running full tilt through the crowds of tourists.
Gregorio is on his six, keeping pace as they weave through startled picnickers and bands. Their suspect keeps managing to avoid them somehow, just out of reach whenever they’re certain they have him, and Chris would swear he’s got some sort of supernatural blood in his immediate family if he hadn’t seen the guys file for himself. Most supernaturals kept it quiet, but there was usually a tell , something to give them away if you knew what you were looking for.
They hit the edge of the park where the fence towers over them. Their suspect doesn’t hesitate- leaps and scales it in one easy movement.
“What the hell ,” Gregorio swears and veers off to the left and the nearest exit.
Chris leaps, scales the fence deftly and hauls himself over and right onto their surprised suspect.
In the process he hits one of the decorative spikes on top of the fence and manages to tear his shin open.
By the time Gregorio catches up Chris has their guy cuffed and is peeling the ruined material of his favourite pants away from a jagged tear that’s going to need a lot of stitches. If he was normal.
Gregorio winces in sympathy when she spots it and he hastily covers it back up- he hadn’t meant for her to get a good look at it, explanations went easier when they didn’t.
“Can you walk on that? Or should I call for an ambulance?”
Chris tests it, but his leg holds his weight. It stings like a bitch but that won’t last.
“It’ll hold,” he summons up a grin and hands their suspect off to her so he can worry about hobbling back to the car instead.
“How’d you manage this one?” King’s hands are gentle on Chris’ leg as he inspects it in the light from his bedside table. Chris is stripped down to his shirt and boxer briefs, sprawled out on King’s bed above NCIS, a spot he’s become intimately familiar with. King’s got his leg propped in his lap as he goes about cleaning out the wound, careful where the skin is already starting to knit back together. He’s managed to avoid stitches this time- he hates stitches.
“Hopped a fence.” He grins, settles back into the pillows and watches as King gets to work, brow furrowed in concentration. It stings, whatever he’s using to clean out Chris’ leg, but it’s easy to ignore it in favor of watching King, a favourite past time of his.
Gregorio and Percy have their suspect in interrogation, Sebastian is on loan to Doc Wade and Patton is working on cracking their guys laptop- for once they have a moment to themselves.
“Gotta be more careful, Christopher.” King’s voice is as gentle as his touch and Chris wraps himself up in the familiar scent of his Alpha.
“Wasn’t on purpose,”
“You’re lucky it was just you and Gregorio.” He wraps some gauze around the worst of the area, tapes it down. He gently sets Chris’ leg back on the bed, then shifts until he’s laying next to him, and they’re sharing the pillow. Chris can’t help himself, ducks his head and presses his nose to King’s throat, scenting him, anchoring himself. King’s hand comes up to stroke along his spine, not trying to start anything- they’re both too professional for that- just to help center him. “If someone outside the team had seen, it would have brought up a lot of questions you don’t want to answer.”
He hums happily- which isn’t a response and King knows it- but he doesn’t have one to give, except the same old platitudes that he’ll be more careful next time.
“How’s the leg?” Gregorio manages to catch him the following morning in the kitchen. She’s seated at the table, laptop open in front of her, a steaming mug of coffee next to it.
He grins, pours himself his own mug and heads over to join her, sinking into the seat across from her.
“Good as new,” and it is, there’s barely a pink scar left over from the jagged mess his leg had been the previous day.
“I can see that,” he catches the predatory look in her eyes, the look she gets when she’s caught the trail of something and isn’t about to let it go. His stomach sinks. “You’re not even limping. Pretty impressive considering the hamburger meat your leg resembled yesterday.”
“Looked worse than it was,” the lie falls off his tongue easily after years of having to cover up why his bruises disappear overnight or why his breaks aren’t nearly as bad as they seem.
“ Bull shit ,” she leans forwards, closing her laptop, staring him down. There’s something about it that makes his wolf restless, feel challenged in a way it hasn’t since he met King, since King managed to anchor him where others couldn’t. Back when he was a mess .
“Just a lot of blood,” he calmly takes a sip of his coffee, meets her gaze head on.
“Let’s see it then,”
“Yeah,” her lips quirk up into a smirk. “Unless you’ve got something you don’t want me to see?”
He feels his pulse stutter. Wishes King would take the moment to walk through the door, interrupt this interrogation before it goes too far, but for once the man is running late.
“Just don’t want to tear off the scabs, open it up again.”
“Unless it’s already healed.” She guesses and he freezes, mind blank. “You’re a wolf right? Relax LaSalle,” she kicks him gently under the table, her smile kind when he can’t find anything to say. “It’s not like I’m gonna spill the beans.”
“How did you know?” He grits out, heart pounding in his chest. He feels out of control, lost in his own skin. The last person to actually figure it out was King, years ago, and he’s tried to be careful since then.
“You weren’t subtle,” she rolls her eyes. “It’s like you spend all your free time scent marking King- and don’t think I didn’t notice you scent marking the rest of us too. Possessive much?”
He narrows his eyes, scent markings not the first thing he’d expect a human to notice. Flashing his eyes or his healing, yeah, but not that.
“What are you?”
She grins, arms resting on the table as she leans in. “Faster than you in the water, that's for damn sure. You were were crazy fast yesterday LaSalle, kind of surprised you didn’t end up on all fours chasing our guy.”
“A nymph?” He guesses though it doesn’t fit . Gregorio laughs.
“Nah, nothing that frilly. A Selkie.” She clarifies and it settles something in Chris, smoothing out his agitation, his defensiveness. “We make a good team. Do you think King just collects us, or we just happen to find each other this way?”
“What do you mean?”
“Sonja? Sebastian? There isn’t a single human on this team, far as I can tell.” That leaves him reeling. He’d known Percy was something but he couldn’t parse what, let alone if it was diluted enough that even she hadn’t known. But Sebastian? “I’m still trying to figure out what King is though.”
And that- that puts Chris back on equal ground so to speak because he’d known Dwayne Pride’s power right off the bat, had been drawn to it, to his steadying presence and found an anchor in him.
He grins, but it’s not his place to share.
“You could just ask him,” he suggests. “Or ask around, they call him King for a reason.”
Her interest is piqued, he knows, but she just pushes to her feet and heads over to refill her now cold coffee.
“I’ll give it another week or so.” She takes his cup and refills it too. “More fun that way.”
“Morning,” King’s voice floats down to them, followed by his heavy boots on the stairs. Gregorio gets another mug ready for him as he appears in the doorway. His gaze falls on Chris first, assessing, checking he’s alright, and Chris knows King must have known all along what Gregorio was, must have been waiting for their conversation to end so the pair could talk. He thinks about what she said, about King collecting them, but he knows, even if they were just human, King would have chosen them anyways.
“Thanks,” he murmurs, accepting the mug from Gregorio and heading over to Chris. “Anything interesting happen this morning?”
“Nah,” he doesn’t bother to hide as he scents the air around King, basking in his Alpha’s scent and drawing a snort from Gregorio. “Been a quiet morning.”