Cary stormed out of the hospital. He had to before he knocked every damned doctor there on their collective asses. How the hell had they let Preston leave? From everything he’d been told the man was in no condition to even get out of bed and yet they’d let him sign himself out.

Reaching the car he slammed his fist against the hood again and again until Hugh wrapped his arms around him from behind to stop him. “Not good news I take it,” his lover said calmly, refusing to relinquish his hold until Cary had ceased fighting him.

“We have to get over to his apartment. That’s the only place he would have gone.”

“He’s not…” Hugh nodded towards the hospital.

“Fuck no. He left early this morning. God damned mother fucking weather. If it had let up even a few hours sooner I’d have been here to stop him.”

“Cary,” Hugh said quietly as he opened the car door for him, “even if you’d been here there’s no guarantee he’d have listened to you.”

“He would have,” Cary muttered, but he knew Hugh was right.

Sliding into the driver’s seat Hugh pulled out of the snow-packed lot onto an equally snow-covered street, inching his way down the narrow right-hand lane that had been carved out in the past twenty-four hours by those daring enough or foolhardy enough to come out after the blizzard had stopped. He reached across briefly to squeeze Cary’s thigh before returning his concentration to the drive.

When the reached Preston’s apartment building Cary was out of the car, sprinting for the front door, seconds later. By the time Hugh joined him he’d gotten the door open with the key Preston had given him when he’d first moved to the city. “Just in case of emergencies,” Preston had said with a shrug, earning him a smile and a key to Cary’s place in exchange.

Cary paced, waiting for the elevator, and then paced more as it took them up to the fourth floor. It was obvious to Hugh the minute they stepped into the hall which apartment was Preston’s from the police tape dangling from one side of the doorframe.

“Guess he’s been here, let’s hope he still is.”

Cary didn’t bother to answer as he knocked on the door. Getting no answer he let them in. “Holy shit,” he said angrily.

Hugh had to agree. There was blood spattered everywhere leaving no doubt where Preston had been assaulted. A fine layer of fingerprint powder covered most of the flat surfaces, one more testament to the fact that the police had been there.

Cary walked quickly across to Preston’s bedroom, trying not to look at the bloody havoc any more than possible. He knew immediately from the open closet door that his friend had been here and gone. A large blank spot on the bar told him Preston had gathered up some clothes, probably putting them in the battered suitcase that was missing from the closet floor.

He swung around when he heard Hugh come in behind him. “He’s on the run, and god only knows where he’s gone.”

“Home to his family?”

“I doubt it. If they knew what had happened they’d have been out here in a heartbeat. The one doctor said he wouldn’t tell them who to notify.” Cary’s face showed the pain he felt when he added, “He didn’t even tell them my name.”

“Cary, he was hurting and scared.” Hugh gripped his shoulder. “Put yourself in his place. From what we know he was cut up bad. His face is his fortune as the saying goes, and at least for now he’s lost that. If you were in his place how would you feel?”

“Like I needed a friend,” Cary replied stubbornly before admitting that Hugh was right. “Let’s get out of here.”

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