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you're a canary // i'm a coal mine

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Nobody's seen Gwaine since the anti-austerity protests a fortnight ago and Elyan isn't saying that he's worried about him, but he's worried about him. He checks all the pubs in a ten-mile radius, hangs around the shell of the community centre until the nasty looks people give him turn nastier, so of course it's when Elyan's coming out of the job centre two days after he's given up the chase that he bumps right into him.

"Hey," Gwaine says, like he didn't just disappear for the longest time since he said he wouldn't do that any more.

Elyan's heart sits somewhere in his throat for a minute, and then he swallows. "Hey," he says. All of the things he wanted to say, practised saying, have trickled right out of his head.

"Still on the dole, then?" Gwaine asks, tilting his head towards the building behind them. It's grey and square and grey except for the bright green sign, the jarring yellow of centre, and Elyan thinks there's probably a metaphor in there, somewhere.

He nods. "Got workfare, though. I start tomorrow."

"Ah," Gwaine says, smile twisting, "indentured servitude."

Elyan shrugs, trying not to think about his dad's old workshop, how they had to sell it for a pittance after he died. "We've all got to eat, mate."

Gwaine exhales slowly, deflating like a popped ballon, says, "Yeah."

&&

They go back to Elyan's, because Elyan suggests it, and Gwaine doesn't protest. They have to walk past the police station to get there, and Gwaine doesn't relax until it's behind them.

He backs Elyan's up against the wall as soon as Elyan's shut the front door, braces himself with a hand on Elyan's chest and puts his mouth on Elyan's neck, biting gently down. Elyan sighs and shifts his head, dropping his forehead against Gwaine's.

"Gwen's probably in," he says.

"Don't care," Gwaine mumbles, moving so his nose rubs against Elyan's.

"I do," Elyan says, grinning. "She's my sister, you fucking perv."

Gwaine goes easily when Elyan pushes at his chest, stepping back with a smile on his face. Elyan has to kiss it, just a quick trace-over with his tongue, so when Gwen pokes her head out into the hallway and sees them he has no one to blame but himself.

&&

Gwaine ends up making them all dinner. Gwen offers, even though she's got her final project to work on and she's been pinched and washed out for weeks and weeks.

"You two should... you know," she says, and Gwaine blanches.

"I'll do it," Elyan says firmly. "Gwaine can help." He doesn't say, I don't want you to end up like me, doesn't want to rehash that old, awful argument.

Gwaine watches Elyan chop vegetables for a minute before he says, "Here," and comes up behind him, slipping the knife out of his hands.

"You don't have to," Elyan says, but he doesn't grab the knife back, doesn't even move out of the cage of Gwaine's arms.

"Least I can do," Gwaine says, hooking his chin over Elyan's shoulder. There's a pause, filled only with the swift, careful thuds of the knife on the chopping board, and then: "Gareth said you were looking for me."

"Might've asked around," Elyan says, light as he can manage. "I missed you."

It's a gamble, a dare, saying the words out loud, but once they've left his lips Elyan finds he doesn't regret them, not one bit.

"S'pose I can expect a full homecoming party from the rest of the guys, then," Gwaine drawls, just a beat too late, and Elyan relaxes against him, smiling.