"Stefan, can we talk?" Denton asked, seeing him come up the stairs.
The collie stiffened, then looked around. He shrugged. "Sure."
Denton got back in his bedroom and waited for Stefan to enter before closing the door. "I want to start by saying I'm sorry for what I said the other night." He walked to the bed and sat on it, while Stefan leaned against the wall. "I wasn't at my best, the whole thing had me pretty unbalanced. I'm sorry if you fell I hurt you."
Stefan leveled his gaze on him. "Is that what passes for an apology in your part of town?"
"Damn it, I'm try-" He shut his mouth. He forced his temper down. "Let me try this again. I'm sorry I hurt you." He took a moment to see if Stefan would say anything. He didn't. "I get that you didn't mean to hurt me. I had no right to say that. It isn't an excuse, but I really was out of sort."
"I understand that, but I don't understand why you reacted that way."
"Multiple reasons, chief among them at that moment was everything I'd just learned. The incest, what I felt was sexual abuse. That stuff runs contrary to a lot of things I believe."
"How do you feel now?"
"Not all of it has sunk in," Denton answered after a moment. "But I get what you meant about having sex with your father. It's something special. I'm not sure about doing it at fourteen tho." He shook his head to clear it. "The other thing is that I'm a cop. I've been a cop for a decade now. I'd like to think that I'm better than most other cops. Hell I know not as paranoid as a few I know, but after dealing with as many criminals as I have, trusting is something I have difficulty doing. I get ripped out of my life, my family is attacked, because of me, somehow. I'm cut away from my partner and the people I know I can trust and told I have to trust you. You have to see that isn't going to go down easy for me."
"I don't see it, I'm sorry."
"Look, flip it around. I take you away from everyone here, I drag you to the station and I tell you we're the only ones you can trust. How would you feel about that?"
"I'd trust you," Stefan answered immediately.
Denton stared at him. "Why?"
"You're one of us."
"I didn't know that then."
"I'd still trust you. We had sex at your place. We talked for a while. I got to see you're a decent guy. I got to like you. I didn't bring you here that night to kidnap you. I honestly wanted you to meet Martin and the rest. I was hoping we could become friends."
Denton nodded, looking at his hands. He had to admit that once he took out what he'd been told to do. Stefan had been a nice guy with him.
"That's why I'm so pissed at you right now."
"You almost killed yourself during the night."
"Hey, I didn't do that on purpose."
"I know! but that isn't helping. And now, you want to get out of the house, knowing there's someone out there who wants you dead. and it's do go talk with people Max said are bad news. If one doesn't kill you, the other could certainly hurt you."
"Stefan, I'm a cop. It comes with the job description."
"I don't care. We have people better qualified to deal with this. You don't have to be in the middle of it. You should be staying here, where it's safe for you."
Denton studied the collie. His instinct told him there was more to this than he was saying, but he couldn't figure out what. He tried to remember what he'd done with Maximilian, he'd reached out for 'something' when he'd heard his thought. He did the same now.
"Look. I'm trained for this. I've had to do this before."
"Really? you've had someone wanting you dead before?" Stefan said with derision.
"Okay, no, I haven't. but I've had to deal with dangerous people. I've had to go in the middle of gang territory to extract other cops, or civilians. I know how to handle dangerous people."
He tried again. He grasped for something, anything, and then he thought he felt something. He pulled it close. He saw an image of Stefan in front of a wooden liquor cabinet. He was pouring himself a drink from a crystal decanter. He shook, lost his balance, and then cursed. His hand holding the glass struck the cabinet, breaking the glass in it.
Denton startled, losing the thread. Had Stefan been remembering a time he got hurt? What did that have to do with their conversation?
"You okay?" Stefan asked.
"I'm fine." Well, He was going to have to do this the old fashion way. "Stefan, what's really going on?"
The collie sat next to him on the bed. "I told you. I like you. I don't want to lose you."
"Wait, you like me? like you want to be my boyfriend?"
"For a detective, you're not all that observant. We don't do the standard relationship thing here. I don't want to be your boyfriend, I want to be your friend. I don't want to lose you before I have a chance to do that."