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In the grand scheme of things, Louis knows he’s a mere pawn, caught in the system; he also knows that he should know better than to mingle with the wrong crowd, and this underground club is most certainly more than full to the brim with all sorts of people from the wrong crowd. Usually, he has no trouble maneuvering around them, dancing his way through smooth smiles and easy laughs and little touches until the tension lifts. Louis is good at that because it’s his job - because he’s had to master all the skills, the tricks and turns of not-quite-seduction, of winding his way in between words to draw out just what he needs. In and out and nobody will remember anything but the lush shine of his lips or his smile.

But this, he thinks remorsefully, stumbling back against the wall as one of the thug’s fists connect with his jaw, is not how things usually go. His head hits the brick wall and he feels his lip split open, almost as though his nerves are in slow motion, the sensation spreading through his body like freezing water forcing tears into his eyes.

“Fuck,” he breathes out and averts the second hit only to run into thug number two who is conveniently waiting at the end of the alley.

Louis goes for the knife in his trousers but before he can reach it, a foot hits the back of his left knee with a sickening, ohfuck, crunch and he stumbles and falls, unable to catch himself, palms bloody and scraped open from trying to hold onto rough brick.

“Gentlemen,” he wheezes out, rolling onto his back, “this is all-”

“A misunderstanding?” one of them barks. “Believe me, Tomlinson, we know exactly who you are.” He tosses a sepia photograph onto the ground and Louis curses, recognizing himself in his uniform.

“We been watching you,” the other says and draws closer, prodding Louis’ flank with the steel-studded toe of his boot. It makes Louis’ stomach lurch and turn with fear - more than that - panic even, because he’s outnumbered and outmuscled.

“Boss don’t like what you do,” he elaborates uselessly; yeah, Louis had figured that. Most mob bosses don’t like what he does. He huffs out a breath, half a laugh, half a groan, trying to fight down the voices telling him to run.

“Wow, I am- ah- pretty glad he decided to send his smartest men after me.” He tries to roll onto his side to get up, counting on speed and agility, but not on getting a boot in the stomach before he’s even back on his feet.

“Shit-” He crumbles down and finally manages to go for his knife, lashing out with it to slice open a long cut in one of the thug’s legs; three seconds later a fist connects with the side of his head and sends him flying. He should’ve brought his gun, he thinks, body falling slowly; he should’ve brought a gun and fucked protocol all to hell. Now he’s going to die because he’s too good a cop.

In a haze he pulls himself up, head spinning, and then shots fall, echoing through the darkness like thunder; he catches his breath, expecting blood to start pouring from his chest and when it doesn’t, reaches up to rub over his belly, staring in wonder when the thugs fall one after the other like leaves.

“You alright?” It’s Zayn- thankfuck, it’s Zayn-

Louis lets out a laugh and drops his back against the wall, eyes squeezing closed for a moment, relieve flooding through him.

“You are so fucking late-”

Zayn drops to his knees, stuffing his gun into his belt; Louis watches him reach out and then he’s touching his cheek, lip, inspecting all his wounds carefully.

“I’m fine,” he hisses, “just get me the bloody hell out of here.”

“Don’t look fine,” Zayn grunts but shuffles closer and wedges a shoulder under Louis’ armpit, hauling him up.

The sudden movement shoots an arrow of pain through his shoulder, but he grits his teeth and ignores it, hissing. Zayn’s grip tightens, but he doesn’t let go, dragging Louis to his Austin.

“I think I’m gonna pass out, Zayn,” Louis says when they get to the car because he’s really going to. He feels like he will.

“Shit,” Zayn says and wrenches the door open and Louis stares up at him as his visions starts to go blank.

 

**

 

Louis wakes up to the press of a cold cloth to his forehead and a burning pain in his shoulder; he wrenches away, mouth open, yet silent, but Zayn holds on and tugs hard and then Louis does scream when the joint of his shoulder snaps back into place.

His hand jerks in reflex, but Zayn catches it in time, twisting him down, the weight of his body pressing into Louis’. It forces the air from Louis’ lungs and clarity back into his head, and he makes a strangled sound, arching up against Zayn a little.

“You back with me?” Zayn asks carefully and Louis nods, shifting when Zayn pulls himself up on one knee, allowing for a little more space between them.

“Yeah,” he croaks out. “Shit.” He laughs and reaches out, touching his split lip. “They got me good, huh?”

“Pretty much,” Zayn says. Louis watches him for a few moments, evening out his breathing until he feels like he’s in control of his body again, head no longer swimming. Zayn keeps staring at him, eyes a little wider, a little darker.

Louis leans back, relaxing and presses the blunt edge of his thumb nail against his lip, eyes still on Zayn whose gaze drops to where Louis is pressing his finger against his mouth.

It’s not- there shouldn’t be heat pooling in his stomach at that look in Zayn’s eyes, all dark and blown, fixed on that cut in Louis’ lip, not after being out like that, not after- Louis presses his thumb in a little harder anyway until he draws blood again, the pain sharp, but not deep, catching Zayn’s gaze, heart stepping up a beat.

“Don’t do that,” Zayn says; his voice betrays him. Louis knows that sound, it’s throaty and glazed like a frosted window, and he knows it because it’s there every fucking time he gets hurt. It’s like a cue for him, like his body is a fucking wind-up doll ready to go at the snap of a finger. He’s so easy for Zayn.

“You like-” Louis starts and then breaks off when Zayn’s fingers curl around his wrist and tug his hand away from his face and his mouth finds Louis’. He licks a broad swipe over Louis’ broken bottom lip, lapping, and - Louis doesn’t want to think about it, because he’s bloody, and this shouldn’t be as hot as it is. He kisses back instead, tilts his head up and party his lips, draws Zayn down with his free hand. The hair at the back of his neck is soft and he digs his fingers in, tugging until Zayn exhales sharply into his mouth and bites down on Louis’ lip where the flesh is already tender. Louis moans and laughs at the same time because this is just ridiculous, because he shouldn’t want this the way he does.

“What,” Zayn breathes against his mouth and pulls back a little, eyes wide and dark; he leans back down before Louis can answer and rubs his cheek against Louis’, his neck, his day-old stubble rough against Louis’ skin, and latches onto his collar bone.

“Nothing, just-” Louis digs his fingers into Zayn’s arms, really digs, until he’s sure his blunt nails leave half-moon shaped reminders, and then pushes; he rolls them over and ignores the stinging pain in his shoulder, settling down on top of Zayn’s thighs. Their bodies fit together like pieces of a clay puzzle, molding and yielding, and Louis groans a little, at both the pain in his limbs, the sharp sting of his lip, and the way that Zayn’s so hard he can see the outline of his cock through his pants.

He licks his lips, tasting copper, the tang of blood, and reaches down to drag the flat of his palm over where he knows the head of Zayn’s cock lies. Zayn grunts and pushes his hips up, his hands dragging a line up Louis’ hips to his ass. He breathes out a long, low moan, and pushes against them because it’s not enough.

Zayn,” he grunts and strokes him again through his pants, a little harder, and then finally Zayn gets it and rolls them over again. Louis’ back hits the floor with an almost-crack that should not be sending shivers up his spine and blood pumping into his dick. He moans and squeezes his thighs around Zayn’s hips, urging him on.

“Bite me again,” he grinds out, rotating his hips up, “fucking-”

“You,” Zayn starts but doesn’t finish because Louis is sneaking a hand between them, that gathering heat where their bodies meet, and fumbles open Zayn’s fly to push inside and wrap his fingers around Zayn’s precome-slick cock.

“Oh god,” is all Zayn manages and then his mouth and teeth are on Louis’ neck again, biting, pushing down; it’s wildfire that catches his nerves from there, running in shiny little embers throughout his body until he’s moaning and clinging and bucking up even though Zayn hasn’t gotten close to his cock at all yet.

“Please,” he hisses, “please, just,-” Give me what I need, he wants to say; he presses closer, his head falling back, and then finally Zayn’s hand trails down his chest and finds his cock through his pants.

“Oh fuck, yes,” Louis hisses, losing rhythm for a moment; Zayn curses and flattens his hand against Louis’ cock, rubbing, and moves his mouth down Louis’ chest, teeth fastening around one of his nipples, fucking digging in, through the fabric of his shirt. It’s all it takes for Louis’ hips to come off the floor, body going tense as he comes with a half-shout, hoarse and raw, and god he’s almost embarrassed but he can’t really be when Zayn keeps biting and fucking into his hand and comes muffled against his chest a moment later, pulsing hotly over Louis’ shirt. He collapses on top of Louis, body hot and sweaty, a heavy weight now that the endorphin rush has passed.

Louis sinks back, legs falling open, chest rising and falling fast; he can feel every muscle in his body, every sinew and bone, all the broken skin and flesh. When Zayn sits back against his heels and tucks himself in, then runs heavy hands over the insides of Louis’ thighs, soothing, pushing, it’s even better almost.

Everything dulls down to a faded ache and he looks up to meet Zayn’s eyes, blood rushing in his ears, the sensation of Zayn’s hands, mending, diluting everything else.

“Yes?” Zayn asks.

Louis nods, lips parted, body humming. “Yes.”