~24~

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I stop Kota just before we enter the lab and pull his face down to mine. He smiles at me as I run my fingers through his hair, mussing it.

"Kota, you need to remember you're drunk, or at least inebriated enough to not drive."

I start rumpling his shirt collar while Owen and Victor laugh in the earpiece. It's nice hearing them enjoy themselves, but I'm a little grumpy at the fact that they're doing it right now. It's been a long night, and I just want to get this over with. Kota slings an arm casually around my shoulders. He gazes down at me with absolute love shining through, and I think I forget to breathe for a moment.

How do I know he's not just acting?

"You ready?" he asks, inclining his head toward the door. I nod, and we enter the lab.

At first glance, the room seems empty, but a muffled, "I'll be with you in a sec," calls out from behind a large panel of machinery off to our left. Kota gives my shoulder a reassuring squeeze, and I resist the urge to bite my lip. We can't appear nervous. A sandy-blond head peeks out from behind the instruments and looks directly at me for a minute before addressing Kota. He is wearing wire-rimmed glasses, and looks to be about forty. A small paunch reveals itself as he steps fully into view, and he frowns as he talks.

"What can I do for you two?" His tone seems jovial, but his body language speaks of hostility and suspicion. Either Kota doesn't see it, or he ignores it, and answers smoothly.

"Hey, man. We were sent here by my friend, Dev." I like how he shortens Devin's name. It makes his words ring out with truth. My stomach clenches, though, as I bear witness to just how easily he lies. I wonder if he's ever lied to me. Kota holds out the envelope, and the tech takes it, ripping it open immediately.

The tech reads the letter and nods, while simultaneously reaching into his coat pocket for a clear baggie filled with pills. He works at it like a stress ball while he examines us, and I can't help but lean into Kota as the man's eyes linger on me.

"Alright. Here's how this works." The man is all business now. "I give you this bag, and you deliver it to Devin immediately. He'll distribute it among you underlings and then you go out and make deliveries for him." The tech takes one pill out of the bag and hands it to Kota. "Take it."

My heart kicks into overdrive and I know my nails are digging into Kota's side. He can't take drugs! Victor swears in the earpiece, but Kota doesn't miss a beat. He pops the pill into his mouth and swallows it without hesitation. He smiles and opens his mouth wide to prove it's gone. The tech nods and hands the bag over to me. "You better drive. He's going to be fucked up for the rest of the night. Deliver these to our friend, and he'll call tomorrow with instructions." He steps closer to me, and I can smell old onions on his breath. His lab coat shifts, and I catch sight of his badge. Jerry Jenkins. I file the name away and try to smile at him.

Tugging Kota's arm, I step away toward the door. "Come on, sweets. Our job isn't done yet."

Kota grins and I realize his pupils are dilated. "Alright, but when we're done, I get the rest of the night!"

His comment makes me blush, and the tech licks his lips while staring at us. It seems he's enjoying the show.

"Better take your boyfriend and go before he's too high to handle." The words appear to be a genuine warning, but a gleam in Jerry's eye says he'd be more than happy to watch Kota get out of hand. I tug on Kota once more, and finally get him out of the lab. I don't stop moving until we get to Sean's office, and as soon as the door closes behind us, Owen yanks me out of Kota's reach while Sean shines a light into Kota's eyes. He bats the doctor away and shakes his head.

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