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Aftermath

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It had been the longest day Elias had had in years, and by the time they eventually made it home, he was about ready to pass out. Between a fresh bullet wound, running from the Russians all day and John’s… interesting choice of painkillers, he'd done a damn good job staying awake for this long.

He only let his mask drop when he got through the apartment door, biting his cheek against the pain from his injured shoulder as Anthony helped him with his jacket. He’d brought Elias clean clothes when they met by the ferry, thank god, so he wasn't still in the ones covered in blood and dirt when they met the others, but looking strong for their allies wasn't the only reason he was grateful. He wasn't sure he’d have the energy left to get dressed again now.

Anthony stayed by his side as he walked (okay, practically staggered) across the room, one hand on the small of his back, whispering a gentle “Easy,” into his ear when he nearly stumbled. Elias made it as far of the sofa, just, then gave up getting any further and sat down, almost a collapse.

He might have been in pain and half passed out from exhaustion at that point, but he still saw the way Anthony’s expression got harsher at that final display of weakness. He was a man of few words, even around the people he trusted, but he didn't need to speak for Elias to know what was bothering him.

Carl had been stupid, he knew that from the second he saw the security camera in the bodega. Even after that, he'd still underestimated the Russians, half convinced they wouldn't even be able to follow him back to Charlie Burton’s apartment, never mind figure out that he was more than just a witness. He didn't even worry about what might have happened to him if Yogarov’s boys got to him before Anthony did, and he paid the price for that in the shape of a bullet wound, his first in years.

They might have won today, taking some valuable pieces out of the game, not least of all Lazlo Yogarov, kneecapped and in police custody, but Elias had lost his anonymity and one of his few trusted friends. There weren't many men in this world Elias allowed himself to trust, but Benny D’Agostino had been one of them. He was one of the few of the old guard who sensed the change in the waters and went with it, instead of sticking to outdated schemes planned by men who hadn't truly had to fight for their rule in years.

Later they'd grieve. Later, he’d have a job to do, orders to give to get suitable payback, especially if Ivan ignored his warning. Now, Elias needed to rest, to reorder his thoughts. He could leave the everything else until when he woke up, he thought, taking his glasses off.

 


 

The front door opened and shut and Elias awoke with a jolt. The room was dark now, the only light from the buildings around it. He turned to where the noise was and watched a familiar silhouette slink to the light switch.

It took Elias’s eyes a long few seconds to adjust to the light, but then he saw Anthony stood at the other end of the room. His face was spattered with blood, and as Elias watched he tugged off his gloves and leather jacket and kicked off his shoes, leaving them in a pile near the door, the headed into the bathroom. It struck Elias that the sight of the man he loved arriving home late at night and bloody might be worrying to some people, but to them it was hardly all that out of the ordinary.

There was the sound of the tap running for a few minutes, then Anthony came back into the room, free of blood, a few loose strands of damp hair hanging in his face.

His movements were still tense like a caged animal as he walked across the room, not noticing that Elias was awake.

“Are you okay?” he said quietly.

Anthony's head shot round to face him, and when he replied his tone was clipped. “Shouldn't I be the one asking you that, Boss?”

Elias tried to shrug, but winced hard as pain shot through his bad shoulder. They both knew he wasn’t.

“I dealt with Yogarov Senior. He won't be a problem for us any more,” Anthony sneered. “And neither will any of the security guys he had posted around their building. Other kid’s still in the wind.”

“Good to know, but you didn't answer my question, Anthony,” Elias looked at him but didn't get a response. Time for a different approach. “You're pissed about today.”

“No shit, I'm fucking pissed,” he said, voice suddenly rising as he turned and started towards Elias. “You got any idea how close you got to dying today? If that John guy, whoever the hell he is, hadn't dragged your ass out of there, you'd be dead!” He slammed his hand against the wall, hard.

Elias flinched, not expecting him to come out with that, pain stopping him from controlling the reflex. The anger dropped from Anthony’s face. He took a step back and raised his hands.

“Sorry,” he said, voice back at its usual volume. “Sorry, I shouldn't take this out on you, Boss,” his voice dropped even further. “It's just… I shoulda been there. Shoulda got you out before any those bastards even got near you.”

Elias tilted his head. “You're mad at yourself ?”

“Shit, course I am, Boss,” he looked at Carl, holding his injured arm in a slightly less painful position with the opposite hand. “You got shot cause I didn't get there in time. Lucky it wasn't worse.”

“You didn’t get there in time cause I didn't tell you anything was wrong.”

Anthony crouched between his legs, one hand on the floor to steady himself, the other resting on Elias’s thigh.

“I want to protect you,” he said quietly, looking up into his eyes. “This can’t happen again, you gotta tell me when something comes up. Okay?”

“Okay.” Elias leaned forwards and kissed his forehead, and Anthony stood up again. Carl reached for his hand. “Hey, don’t go.”

“I’m coming back,” he called over his shoulder as he left the room again. He was back only a few seconds later, dragging the blanket from their bed behind him and sat down next to him on the sofa.

“I coulda made it as far as the bedroom, Anthony.”

He raised an eyebrow, clearly unconvinced, but didn’t reply, and Elias was still too tired to argue. Instead, he just leaned into Anthony’s shoulder and let him pull the blanket over both of them.

“First thing tomorrow, I'm taking you to one of our doctors. Till then, you ain't leaving my sight.”

It clearly wasn't a question or a suggestion but Carl nodded.

Anthony finally seemed satisfied, and snaked an arm around his waist. “Get some rest, Boss.”

Throughout the time he'd been Charlie Burton, they hadn’t seen each other enough at the risk of blowing his cover. Elias could barely remember the last time they'd fallen asleep together with every plan of seeing each other in the morning, and with some of his walls stripped down by being only half awake, he had no inhibitors to stop him burrowing into Anthony’s shoulder. Judging by the way Anthony sighed and the slight twitch of a genuine smile at the corner of his lips, he liked this too. Lying down, so close to Anthony he could feel every breath, every heartbeat, he changed his mind about everything they'd lost. If it meant he'd be this close to Anthony on a regular basis again, he could live with everything else. Finally coming back home almost made it worth getting shot.