It’s time for another Promptly Penned post. We’re all given the same prompt and see where it takes us. The prompt itself is in CAPS in the post.
Cam braced his hands on the edge of the counter, leaning heavily, and let his head fall forward. Fuck, he hurt. Pain thrummed through his body with each heavy breath. Though, it was definitely better—marginally, but better—than when he first got home. One benefit of what the assholes had done to him was he seemed to heal much faster, now.
He huffed a humorless laugh, then groaned at the sharp stab of pain along his middle. Putting a positive spin on being abducted and experimented on for months was a bit much, even for him. Even if he was trying to do good with what they’d done to him, with the abilities he now had.
Straightening, he bit back another groan and moved to the freezer to grab an ice pack. Holding it tight against his side, he walked into the living room, where his friends were still talking loudly what had gone down that night.
Before he could join the conversation, the front door flew open, banging against the wall. Josh, Mat and Jazz all jumped to their feet as James strode into the room and slammed the door behind him.
James, who was Cam’s ex.
James, who was a thief. Not that Cam had known that…until it was too late.
A thief who had walked away from Cameron without a word, and now, had resurfaced, determined to step back into Cam’s life.
“What the fuck were you thinking, Cameron?” James said slowly and deliberately.
“Jamie,” Cam breathed.
“What the fuck are you thinking?” Mat snapped, stepping towards James. “You can’t just come busting in here!”
“Looks like I can,” James threw in his direction before turning back to Cam. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?”
Cam shook his head. “No, I—”
“You need to leave,” Josh said, hand on Mat’s arm, keeping him from moving any closer to James. “You’re not wanted here. You aren’t part of this.”
“Part of this? Part of this?” James’ voice rose. “You’re damned right I’m not part of this. This being the stupidest damned thing I’ve ever fucking seen.”
“I said—” Josh started.
“It’s bad enough you’re out trolling the streets, looking for trouble,” James continued, speaking over the other man, eyes intense and locked on Cam. “Now, you have these idiots, what? Listening to a police scanner,” he gestured toward the equipment on the counter, “and calling you on your fucking cell to tell you where to go for even more trouble? Not a smart way to do this, Cameron.”
Cam tried really, really fucking hard to suppress the shiver that traveled his spine. Christ, the man’s voice…even when he was all disapproving and lecturing. All right, maybe especially because he was, which made Cam a sick, sick man.
“If you insist on continuing with this…mission of yours, you need to be smarter about it. And this crew?” He gestured at Cam’s friends. “Fuck, it’s like you woke up and said, ‘OH, WELL, THE BEST OF THE BEST WEREN’T AVAILABLE…SO WE GOT THE BEST OF THE MEDIOCRE,’ and just ran with it.”
“Fuck you. Like we give a shit about your opinion,” Mat sneered. “You’re a criminal.”
James laughed—a short bitter sound. “Never claimed otherwise, but what you’re doing—or rather what he’s out there doing while you sit here with your thumbs up your asses and safe—is vigilantism, which is… Hmmm, what’s the word? Oh, right…illegal. And could you tell the class what people who do illegal things are called? No? Nothing? That would be criminals, you fuckwit.”
“It’s totally different!” Jazz protested, seeming to finally come of the state of shock she’d been in since James arrived. “We’re… Cam’s helping people.”
“Still illegal, sweetheart,” he snapped. “Get it through your thick skulls—this isn’t some comic book or action flick; Cameron is not some indestructible superhero.”
“Enough,” Cam pleaded, head pounding. When the bickering continued, he raised his voice. “Enough!” He sighed as all eyes turned to him then gestured to his friends. “You guys can head on home. Obviously, we’re done for tonight; I’ll talk to you tomorrow.”
Mat gaped. “You can’t be serious!”
“We’re not leaving you alone with him,” Jazz added.
Cam rolled his eyes. “Yeah, you are. He’s not going to hurt me, and we clearly need to talk.”
James just moved over to lean against the wall, crossed his arms and smirked as Cam guided the protesting trio to the door. Once they were gone, Cam turned, jolting when he came face to face with James.
“Shhh.” James lifted a hand and gingerly touched Cam’s cheekbone. “Christ, look at you.”
“It’s not as bad as it looks.”
“And your ribs?” He pulled Cam’s hand and the icepack away before lifting the hem of Cam’s shirt. “Fuck.”
Cam looked down and cringed at the mottled black and blue marring his skin. Then gasped as James’ fingertips moved along his side, prodding gently.
“Don’t think any are broken,” he murmured, resting his palm hotly over the bruising and meeting Cam’s gaze. “You really can’t keep doing this, babe.”
Heart aching at the plea in the other man’s voice, Cam swallowed thickly. “I already told you, I need to do this. Some good has to come out of what happened to me.”
James inhaled deeply then brought his head down, resting his forehead against Cam’s. “Okay.”
“Okay?” Cam knew his friends would be yelling at him, right about now, about how the man had lied—by omission, but it still counted—and left him, breaking his heart. How his approval wasn’t something Cam needed. But despite all that, he found himself wanting it, anyway. And that wasn’t something he was going to examine. At least not tonight.
“Okay,” James said firmly, sliding his hand around to rest on the small of Cam’s back. “But not like this, anymore. You’re going to end up hurt again—or worse—and I can’t…I can’t let that happen. Let me help you.”
Mind racing, wondering how James could help, Cam quit fighting himself and slide his arms around James’ waist and leaned into him.
“Let me help keep you safe,” James whispered against Cam’s temple, lips tickling. “Please, babe.”
Closing his eyes, Cam gave the only answer he could when it came to James.