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they can't take what's ours

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There come the days in our lives when everything changes, for the better or for the worse. Tinker wasn’t sure what category today was, all he knew was that today was dragging by way too fucking slow.

Tinker wasn’t suited for a dull office job, but the job he actually liked(his part time blacksmith gig) wasn’t enough to pay the bills, especially with Runaan gone. Every day was the same old shtick, meetings and broken printers and guys who stood in front of you at the water jug even when you were clearly running late for a talk with your boss and needed to just get the damn water and go.

This particular day was especially boring. He had accidentally woke up late and was scrambling to get out of bed, leaving half his buttons undone and hurriedly fastening his necklace around his neck as he raced down the stairs and out the door to catch the next bus into the city. He had a car, but that was still sitting at the airport gathering dust. He hadn’t taken it out of the parking lot since the day Runaan had been deployed. For anyone else, it would’ve been expensive as hell, but he was friends with the person who handled those funds, Lujanne. She cut him a break after seeing him getting choked up after simply looking at the car, and only asked for a few dollars a week so she wouldn’t lose her job.

The bus wasn’t his favorite mode of transportation, but it was better than arriving with tear streaks down his face and red eyes every day. That car held too many memories, so it was just safer to take the bus.

As usual, the bus was full of businesspeople with absent-minded gazes, teenagers with earbuds jammed into their ears playing Top 40 or MCR on full blast, and office workers like him, who were desperately trying to catch a few more minutes of sleep before having to go to a sleep-inducing desk job. Today, though, Tinker took a page out of the teenagers’ book and placed his earbuds into his ears. He fished out his phone from his briefcase and quickly connected it, quickly typing in his passcode. After stopping for a few long moments to stare at his homescreen, which was a picture of Runaan and him just lying in bed together while Runaan kissed his forehead, he opened the photos app and clicked on the album specifically curated for this reason. He scrolled to a video at random and a smile immediately came to his face. It was a picture of Runaan trying one of the metal hair clasps he had made at the metalworking shop, and his heart warmed at the sight of Runaan’s long, white hair. God, how he longed to run his fingers through it and smell the scent of pine and moonberries again. Upon seeing the part in the video where Runaan reluctantly modeled it at his insistence, he chuckled quietly. His chest felt lighter every time he would watch these, but it was like a drug. Too much and he could become addicted and the crash afterwards would become even harder to bear.

But today was not a day to worry about that. He continued to watch video after video of him and Runaan, Runaan and him, together without a care in the world. In fact, he was so caught up in the memories that he would’ve missed his stop had some lady not accidentally bumped into him on her way out and snapped him out of his reverie. He forced himself to exit the app, pull the earbuds out of his ears, and hurry off the bus. Thank the heavens that his office building was right in front of where the bus stop was. Tinker didn’t think he could walk any more, not with how the videos had managed to make him weak at the knees like they always did.

Katolis Enterprises wasn’t really any different than a standard office building in the middle of a city. The company was a supplier to many different popular brands, like Bait’s Jelly Tarts™, Opeli Candles LLC., and Zym brand chain cutters. It was an odd combination, but business was business. Tinker wasn’t nearly high enough on the corporate ladder to know the inner goings-on of the company, all he did was send emails and make spreadsheets. It was mind-numbing and awful, but it was something that happened to pay the bills, so he went.

“How’s it going, Tinker? Excited for today?” Marcos, one of the security guards(and the only person Tinker could possibly consider a friend) called out as he stepped into the lobby.

“You know it!” he called back, grinning as they passed by and high-fived. Marcos was a bright spot in his otherwise dreary day, but since he worked a different floor, Tinker hardly ever got to see him. But he was here every morning without fail, ready to greet Tinker and for that he was thankful.

“I’m late, so…” he rubbed his neck sheepishly, inching towards the elevators, “I don’t have time to stop and chat. I’ll be better tomorrow, I promise!”

Marcos simply laughed and nodded in agreement. “Sure, Tinker, whatever you say.” He raised an eyebrow and gazed to a spot behind Tinker questionably. “You better catch that next elevator if you don’t want to be even more late than you already are.”

Tinker whirled around, just in time to see the elevator doors beginning to close. Without so much as a goodbye, he began racing towards the doors, making it inside just as the closed for good. He breathed a large sigh of relief, slumping against the wall even as the other passengers gave him strange looks. He couldn’t afford to be late another day, lest his boss would kill him. Viren probably would’ve fired him a long time ago, but surprisingly, there was no one else in the city who wanted to fill this stifling desk job. However, that didn’t stop him from making Tinker’s life as hard as possible. Every time his boss saw him, he would yell at him for something or another, even if he was doing nothing wrong. It was in those moments more than ever that he missed Runaan’s dry wit and protective streak.

The elevator dinged for Tinker’s floor and the doors opened. Tinker had expected maybe him and a couple of others to get out, but not the entire damn elevator. They all surged forward as one entity, pushing him to the back until he was the only one left. He huffed annoyedly and clasped his necklace in one hand, trying not to scream. He could get through this, just like he had gotten through all of the other days.

Tinker wove his way through the cubicles and plopped down at his swivel chair. He set his briefcase down on the carpet and ran a tired hand through his hair. He just had to get through this day, and it’d be fine. Everything would be fine.

“Moonshadow!” a voice barked, dangerously close to his ear. He flinched a bit and turned around, a small piece of his soul withering away. It was Viren; of course it was.

“Do you have your reports, Moonshadow? They’re due in an hour!” Viren leaned in closer, a glower present on his angular face, “Unless they aren’t done, of course.”

Tinker forced a smile onto his face and reached down into his briefcase, pulling out the completed reports. “Here they are, sir. Right on time.”

Viren seemed sorely disappointed at that. His frown only grew deeper as he took the reports, skimming through them.

“These are...satisfactory,” he said finally, tucking them under his arm, “But you’re going to have to improve their quality immensely if you want to still have a job in the next month.”

Tinker nodded again, praying that Viren would just walk away so he could get on with his work. “I’ll try to do better, sir.”

Viren scoffed and turned swiftly. “You had better,” he warned, throwing those parting words over his shoulder as he walked away.

Well, Tinker supposed, that could’ve gone much worse. Viren indirectly threatened to fire him at least a couple times a week, but it never happened. Probably because he was one of the only people that actually worked around here. Viren’s own son, Soren, was a slacker if he ever saw one. The kid was barely eighteen and he had already been offered a higher-ranking job with a higher salary and he barely did any work at all. In fact, most of his work was dumped on Tinker or another one of Soren’s subordinates. But Viren turned an oh-so-convenient blind eye to his son’s listlessness and so the cycle of “blame Tinker for all the office’s problems” continued.

Ah, the joys of nepotism.

He was shaken from his own mind when something light hit the side of his head. It was a small wad of paper crumpled into a ball. Frowning, he picked it up and de-crumpled it, craning his head to see where it had come from. His eyes quickly landed on Soren, who was kicked back and relaxed, his feet resting on top of the desk. He was whistling nonchalantly, but every few seconds his eyes flickered over to Tinker, as if trying to gauge his reaction.

Tinker rolled his eyes and looked back to the paper, scoffing when he read what it said.

‘whoever gets this paper ur moms a ho’

Without sparing it or Soren another look, he quickly threw it into the recycling bin under his desk. Man, this was just an absolutely stellar start to what was sure to be an amazing day.

God, finally, finally, it was the end of the day. Viren hadn’t shouted at him anymore than usual, Soren’s little shit meter was relatively low, and the couple that always gossiped about him at lunch had kept their voices down for once. All in all, a small victory.

When he finally clocked out, there was a song in his heart and a spring in his step. He fist-bumped Marcos on his way out and sat down at the bus stop to wait for the bus, fishing out his earbuds and phone, once again, from his briefcase. Wasting no time, Tinker clicked on his photos app and went back into the Runaan album. This time, instead of randomly clicking on videos, he scrolled down to the very last one that had been taken, over two years ago. The video started sweet enough, with him and Runaan slow dancing to nothing but their own breathing. The angle was a bit awkward, since the phone had been set down on a table to record, but it brought tears to his eyes all the same. His fingers hovered over the screen, a small part of him hoping that if he wished hard enough, Runaan could be there with him now.

Drip. Drip.

Tinker realized, probably much too late, that he was crying and the tears were dripping onto his phone screen. The tears on his cheek and his phone screen were hurriedly wiped away as the video continued. Now, he and Runaan were heading outside to the street, where their shared car waited. The screen went dark for a moment as Runaan embraced him, the camera covered by his forest-green vest. Tinker waited with bated breath as Runaan tore himself away, a conflicted expression on his face.

“Do not worry, my dear…” Runaan murmured, taking Tinker’s hand. The paleness of his digits contrasted greatly with Tinker’s mocha skin and the sight almost made Tinker choke up again.

“I shall be home soon,” Runaan continued, his grip on Tinker’s hand visibly tightening, “And then I will never leave you again. This I can promise you.”

Tinker heard himself agree faintly before Runaan let go of his hand and began walking towards the car, his posture straightening. Not once did he look back as he entered the car and drove away.

The video cut out as the first beginnings of a sob could be heard, both in the video and in real life. Tinker had to force himself to breathe as the bus pulled up.

Once he was safely in a seat, he forced himself to put away his earbuds and phone, lest he break down right then and there.

Today had been a long, tiring day and he allowed himself just a moment to rest his eyes...just...one moment…

“End of the line!”

Tinker jolted awake, just barely missing bonking his head on the window. “Wha…?”

The bus driver turned around and gave him a weird look. “You gotta get off the bus.”

Tinker’s blood ran cold and he hastily stood up, gathering all his things. “Oh my gosh, I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to fall asleep. Uh, airport, right?” He had specifically chosen this route because it ended with the airport, so he had at least some sort of cushion in case something like this happened.

The bus driver noticeably rolled his eyes and leaned over, pulling open the handle so the doors swung open. “Have a nice day.”

Still trying to get his stuff together, Tinker dashed down the aisle and hopped off the bus, setting down the fare on the dashboard as he went. He was sure it was more than needed, but it wasn’t like he was going to rifle through his bag for the exact bus fare of nine dollars and fourteen cents.

Waving quickly at the bus driver, who was staring at him in awe(I must’ve put a fifty down or something, Tinker thought faintly), Tinker quickly made his way through the sliding doors to the line of people waiting to speak with the manager of the front desk of Customer Service. He set his bag down at his feet and sighed loudly, his body tingling with excitement. The excitement quickly faded away to impatience, as it seemed the line was moving slower than a slug on its period. After a few more minutes of waiting, where the line moved about two inches, he checked his phone and clenched his teeth. He didn’t want to be be late, but he also didn’t want to be an old white lady and storm to the front of the line.

A few more minutes. Then another few.

Tinker groaned loudly, attracting the glare of several people standing around him. He shoved his phone in his pocket, hoisted up his bag, took a few seconds to invoke his inner Deborah, and stormed to the front of the line. The representative at the desk gave him a withering glare and promptly ignored him, continuing to help the patron that had been at the front of the line.

“Excuse me,” Tinker said in his most polite-yet-with-all-the-passive-aggressiveness-of-a-PTA-mom-named-Helen voice, “I’m so sorry to interrupt you, but I’m the husband of-”

“I’m sorry, sir, but you’re going to need to wait your turn like everyone else.” the representative said shortly, pointing to the back of the line with her pen, “I will be with you in a few moments.”

Few moments, his ass.
“I know it’s inconvenient, but I really need you to-” Tinker pressed on, clutching the strap of his bag.

“Sir!” the representative nearly shouted, “Go to the back-”

“Code name X-ray Alpha Delta India Alpha!” Tinker shouted back at her, “My husband is a part of flight code name X-ray Alpha Delta India Alpha! Could you please call the military rep who is supposed to escort me to the waiting room?! I’ll be late otherwise.”

All the Helens, Deborahs, and Carols of the world would be proud of him, judging by the way the representative’s face went stark white. It was probably more to do with the fact that even the flight name, along with literally every other aspect of the flight and mission, was highly classified information that he was given strict instructions to be discreet about.

“I…” the representative swallowed, “I’ll find some help for you, right away…” And with that, she hurried off to the back room, presumably to call that military rep.

Tinker waited, stony and silent and definitely not getting annoyed at the stares of the patron standing next to him, until the representative returned with a tall, beefy man that would’ve looked like John Cena if John Cena had a distasteful mustache and black hair that looked like it hadn’t been washed in months. “Come with me,” he said in a gruff voice, and Tinker gratefully followed along as he exited the desk and wove his way through airport patrons and TSA agents, cut a sharp right behind a Starbucks, made his way up a dusty staircase, going through no more than four security checkpoints, and finally emerging in a brightly lit waiting room filled with people from all ages and walks of life. It gladdened Tinker to see that the flight wasn’t there yet; it gave him time to prepare for the arrival of Runaan. He wished he didn’t have to go through so many hoops and hurdles just to see his husband again, but that was how it had to be, he supposed.

After all, not everyone’s husband was a CIA assassin part of the notorious “Staff D”.

Tinker smiled as he drifted off to a waiting room chair, reminiscing about the time he had found out(purely by accident), his husband was a CIA operative trained to kill ruthlessly and efficiently. He had been cleaning out Runaan’s office, back when they were still dating, and came across a locked drawer. Of course, that piqued his curiosity, as they had established early on that there would be no secrets between them. The tax records, credit card information, and passwords were kept in another drawer, so it couldn’t be that. So he pulled out a little lock-opener doodad off of his belt(he had made it himself)and picked at the lock until the drawer popped open. Inside were files full of obviously classified documents, clearly marked in bright red ink. Tinker felt a little bit bad about looking through them, as he knew Runaan was a high-ranking officer in the U.S. government and was probably privy to sensitive information. In fact, he had practically thrown the records back into the cabinet and flopped onto the floor, arms around his knees, simply staring at it. But in the end, his curiosity won out, and he began leafing through the pages. But what he discovered made his blood freeze in his veins and his breath catch in his throat. Flipping through them revealed knowledge of extremely dangerous and precarious sounding assassinations of enemies of the state, intelligence missions carried out halfway across the world, and scuffles with the most dangerous terrorist organizations in the entire world. By the time Tinker had finished, he was practically shaking. He had known Runaan was an agent of the CIA, but he hadn’t known it went this far. Yet even though he now knew his sweet, elegant lover was a stone-cold killer, he didn’t think any different of him. Instead he felt his heart swell with love. Runaan risked his life every day and yet still came home to him, still made time for him, still loved him true.

The sound of a gun clicking off of safety was what caused Tinker to finally lift his head from the papers, only to be faced with the barrel of a gun wielded by none other than…

“...Runaan,” he had whispered breathlessly, the files trembling in his hands, “I-”

“How did you find those?” Runaan had cut him off, his voice harder than Tinker had ever heard it, “You were never supposed to find out.”

Tinker had quickly set the documents down on the cabinet and turned to his lover, wringing his hands together. “You said we were never supposed to keep secrets from each other. How could you keep this from me?” His voice carried an almost imperceptible wobble, but it was obvious Runaan had heard it by the very slight hitch of his breath.

“I can’t tell anyone about this,” Runaan had replied, every word sounding forced, “It’s classified. Besides, telling anyone would…” his grip on the weapon tightened, “It would put them in danger. Some terrorist group could kidnap them or torture them for information.”

The words were unspoken, but rang as clear as day. I can’t let anything happen to you.

Tinker had then forced out a laugh, a broken, ugly sound. “So why are you pointing a gun at me?”

Runaan then swallowed, flexing his fingers. “If anyone finds out, we are dictated by law to…”

He didn’t have to finish his sentence, but he could tell well enough what Runaan meant.
“So are you going to kill me?” he had asked, tears welling up in his eyes. A faint voice in the back of his head said, If you have to die, at least it’s by the hands of the one you love. He didn’t stick around to wait for the answer. His eyelids fluttered shut, allowing one single tear to escape.

“I love you…”

Tinker then waited for the darkness of death to consume him. He knew there wouldn’t be any pain, it was best to aim straight for the head. According to the papers he had just read, it was the most efficient way to kill.

However, instead of the bang! of a gunshot, Tinker heard only the dull thud of something being dropped onto the carpet. He opened his eyes and blinked blearily. “What-”

That was all he could get out before strong, warm arms enveloped him in a crushing hug.

“Darling…” a voice had breathed next to his ear. Runaan. “I could never--how could you think I would kill you, the one I love?”

Tinker had then sniffled and broke down sobbing in Runaan’s arms, blubbering about how sorry he was to have stuck his nose where it didn’t belong and how he had surely ruined everything between them. Runaan had only shushed him softly and assured him that they’d work something out. Everything would be fine.

In the end, Runaan had made Tinker promise that he’d never breathe a word of what he read to anyone; that if he did, the government would exterminate him and even Runaan couldn’t protect him from that. Tinker had promised, swore on his heart, and that was that. The sex they’d had that night was great, but he wasn’t going to think about that in a room full of people.

“You look happy.”
A rather chipper voice snapped him out of his thoughts. Tinker turned to see a boy of about twenty looking at him with a friendly grin on his face. “Who’re you waiting for?” the boy continued, brushing his brown bangs out of his eyes.

Tinker smoothed his hair back and mumbled, “My husband.” Sometimes it was better to be bashful about it. Some people just didn’t understand. This boy, however, didn’t lose his happy expression. “Oh, cool! I’m waiting for my girlfriend, Rayla. She’s part of the squad coming home today.” The boy, by now, had a dopey expression on his face, eyes shining with love and admiration. “She’s awesome and tough and-”

“Quite darin’.” A new voice entered the mix. “I consider myself quite darin’.”

The boy whipped around to see a young woman, who looked about the same age as him, standing there with a smirk on her face. Tinker’s breath caught in his throat. Her white hair looked so much like Runaan’s it hurt and her pale violet eyes, while quite different from Runaan’s blue ones, held the same spark. Vaguely, he wondered if they were related in any way.

“Rayla!” the boy shouted, launching himself out of his seat and into her arms. Rayla caught him without missing a beat and spun him around before setting him back down again. “I missed you, Callum,” she said lovingly, her Scottish(?) accent coming through thick in her emotion. The boy, who Tinker now knew as Callum, whispered something to Rayla and she laughed loudly. The young couple looked so happy in their love that Tinker decided it would be best not to interrupt, instead opting for watching fondly as Callum led Rayla to where another boy was waiting, a younger teenager of perhaps fourteen with darker skin and hair that stood straight up. His heart swelled as the boy jumped at Rayla, wrapping his arms around her neck and not letting go.

Suddenly, a new thought occurred to Tinker. If Rayla was part of the “squad” Callum had mentioned, and she was here, then that meant…

Tinker stood straight up, gripping his bag so hard his knuckles turned white. He hurried towards the door that led to the jet bridge for the plane that was now stationed at the gate, pushing through several people and perhaps knocking over a small child or two. He was so close now, so close to Runaan. For two years, he had suffered without his husband, only being able to sustain himself on the bi-monthly phone call he was allowed. Even then, the connection was horrible and Runaan was normally only available for less than ten minutes. A dozen times he had spoken to his husband, a dozen times in two years. But now, finally, finally he could see him again and everything would be alright. He waited anxiously as agents began trickling out, to the delight of their families and lovers. Everytime he would hear footsteps echoing in the jet bridge, he would hold his breath, adrenaline rushing through his veins, only to be crushed when it wasn’t Runaan walking out of the doorway. As the people around him began to grow more and more sparse as the last of the agents reunited and left with them, Tinker began to feel his heart being crushed, like metal in the forge. Why wasn’t Runaan coming out? This was the right time, right? He hadn’t gotten it wrong? Quickly, he unlocked his phone and checked the classified email he had been sent earlier that week. Yes, it was right. Right airport, right gate, right flight, right time.

Tinker, hand trembling, dropped his phone back into his pocket and gazed up again, looking around. By now, he was the only one left still waiting at the doorway, although there were still other families sprinkled in the room. He forced himself to look away from them and back to the doorway, his brain wracking through any possible reasons why Runaan wouldn’t be here. And then his mind flashed back to a horrible thought, something Runaan had told him before they left. The night before Runaan had left on his mission, while bathing in the afterglow of several rounds of mind-blowing sex, Runaan had told him something. He didn’t think much of it at the time, but it made his knees turn to jelly thinking of it now.

“My love,” Runaan had murmured quietly, stirring Tinker from his dozing against Runaan’s chest, “I need to tell you something.”

Tinker had muttered something sleepily, which Runaan took as a sign to carry on. “The mission I am to depart on tomorrow...it is dangerous. More than anything my team and I have ever faced before. There is a possibility...a small one, but one that must be acknowledged...that I will not come back.”

Tinker had been wide awake by then, sitting up and staring at his husband with large, worried eyes. “Runaan...don’t say that. Don’t say it!” He fought back tears, “You’re going to come back! You will!”

Runaan had then gazed at him with all the love in the world and leaned down slightly to kiss the top of his head. “Alright, love. Please don’t be worried about me; I fully intend to come back to you. I was merely trying to prepare you if...it does turn out that way.”

Tinker scoffed and had then shut him up with a desperate kiss, pushing him back into the sheets.

Looking back on it, it should’ve been a happy memory, but Runaan seemed genuinely concerned about the fatality of the mission. And now, with almost everyone gone, and no Runaan…

Tinker’s knees finally gave out and he collapsed to the ground, shaking and sobbing. Runaan is gone, Runaan is gone, Runaan is gone, he’s not coming back. It repeated in his head over and over again until it replaced all rational thought.

A firm hand landed on his shoulder and a hard voice cut through Tinker’s sorrow. “What seems to be the issue, sir?”

Tinker slowly swiveled around, only to see the John Cena impersonator who had led him here in the first place. “My husband…” he muttered, “He hasn’t come back yet and I don’t know if he’s…” He tried to say it, but he couldn’t. Wouldn’t. “Do you know? If he’s…” He sniffled, rubbing his sleeve over his nose, “Just get it over with.”

The officer looked rather annoyed at Tinker’s crying, as if he were a toddler who had just rammed into him at the supermarket. “Sir, I’m sorry to say this, but if your husband has not exited the aircraft by this time, there is a high possibility he has been killed. A representative should stop by your residence shortly to give condolences and to direct you to our office of Financial Consolation. Now, I suggest you pull yourself together and leave. You are disturbing our other officers.”

He thought he could handle hearing it. That Runaan was basically as good as dead. He really did. But the news hit him like a bullet train going at top speed. Runaan was gone, gone, gone, GONE. He was never coming back and Tinker never even got to say goodbye. He let out a large wail and sank down even lower, forehead touching the floor. There was nothing he wanted more in that moment to just sink into it and die. Shoulders shaking with the force of his sobs, he could feel his chest painfully heaving, as if somebody had just ripped out his heart through his torso, which somebody might as well have done. For his heart was Runaan and now he was gone for good.

The officer above him stifled a groan and bent down, unceremoniously hauling Tinker to his feet. “Sir, this is not the time nor place for hysterics!” he shouted, gripping Tinker’s wrists tightly, “I understand you are upset, but you need to calm down before I call security.”

Tinker didn’t respond. The shock of the officer’s words had stopped the sobs, but tears still ran freely down his cheeks. He didn’t care if the guy called security, in fact he cared about nothing at all anymore. His head fell forward and he simply nodded.

The officer grunted and began pulling him away, using one hand to clasp both of Tinker’s wrists so he’d be free to use his walkie-talkie. It crackled to life and he began speaking into it, but Tinker didn’t hear. It was as if he was underwater, hearing things but not comprehending them. Speaking of hearing things, he began hearing footsteps echoing in the jet bridge behind him and the sound of a melodic voice, one he knew so well, filtering out from it. He squeezed his eyes shut and desperately tried to block it out. Why was his mind being so cruel to him, trying to make him think that Runaan was coming when he wasn’t? Hadn’t he already suffered enough? God, he could even smell his pine and moonberry smell…

“Now just what the hell do you think you are doing with my husband?”

Tinker stopped being pulled along. The officer’s face had gone completely white and he instinctively released Tinker’s hands, causing him to take a few stumbling steps backward. No, it couldn’t be. He wouldn’t dare to hope.

He turned, clasping his sore wrists to his chest as if to protect his heart from being stomped on again. His eyes widened as they fell upon the very person he thought he had been doomed to live life without. “Ru-Run…” he stammered, hardly daring to breathe. Could it really be? It wasn’t just a hallucination, right?

Runaan looked as beautiful as the first day he had met him. His long, white hair was tied back in the silver clasp that Tinker had given him before he left for the mission, and it was positively glowing. His shoulders seemed wider and his legs looked more defined as well, but his eyes...oh, those eyes. Tinker had thought he would never see them again, but there they were, the shining sky blue that he loved so dearly. The necklace that he had crafted with so much love and care still hung around Runaan's throat, with not a scratch to be seen. It made Tinker grasp his own necklace as a lifeline. The only thing that was different was the cast wrapped around his left arm and the way his body was leaned to the right, as if it hurt to put weight on the left foot. His gaze had been furious, but it melted away into pure love and adoration the second it landed on him.

Tinker took a few baby steps toward him, still thinking that it could all be fake. But that thought was quickly abandoned in favor of running up to him as fast as he could, military officer be damned, and leaping into his waiting arms. Runaan was back, he was home, he was not dead, and he was never leaving again.

A rough hand came up to his waist and pulled Tinker closer, until he was flush against his husband. “Oh, darling…” Runaan cooed soothingly, pressing several kisses to the top of Tinker’s head, “How I’ve missed you so…”

Tinker was still trembling like a leaf, even in the arms of his husband, not being able to do anything more than sob into Runaan’s neck, still not fully believing he was truly back.

“Sunshine, whatever has made you so upset?” Runaan crooned softly, his vaguely British accent providing another level of comfort Tinker so desperately needed. He pointed shakily at the officer, who suddenly stood ramrod straight under Runaan’s piercing gaze. “H-He told me that since...y-you hadn’t come off the plane...you were probably…” Tinker couldn’t finish his sentence, but Runaan seemed to know well enough what he meant. He felt Runaan stiffen a bit, then gently cup his face with his good arm and raise it up to his own. His eyes held an unimaginable amount of pain, as if the past two years had been non-stop torture. “How could you ever think-” He clucked sadly and gathered Tinker in his arms, bracing him against his good side. “Darling, you know that I would never leave you. I promised you that, didn’t I?”

His steely turquoise eyes landed on the officer once more and he narrowed them, his protective side shining through. “Now see what you’ve done, you imbecile. You’ve upset my husband so much, he’s sobbing because of your indiscretion.”

The officer wiped at the side of his temple with the back of his hand. “Senior Agent Moonshadow…” he stuttered, clearly flustered and embarrassed at his being caught manhandling perhaps the highest ranking assassin in the entire United States government’s husband, “I...I did not know this man was your...your husband. Nor did I know your status, sir, you had not exited the plane, sir.”

Runaan narrowed his eyes, tightening his grip around Tinker’s shoulder and squeezing him closer to his own body, trying to protect him from any further harm. “You told him I was dead,” he spat venomously, his voice dangerously low. Tinker was vaguely reminded of a cobra preparing to strike. “You made him cry.” Runaan’s voice had raised now. “You placed your hands on him!”

The officer was shaking almost as bad as Tinker was by now. He clasped his hands together, as if to pray for Runaan’s forgiveness. “Please, sir! I am truly sorry for treating your husband as I did! I...I did not know! Forgive me!”

Runaan seemed ready to say something else, but one small squeeze on his hand from Tinker stopped him in his tracks. All he wanted was for them to go home and fall onto their large bed and sleep for a hundred years, wrapped in each other’s arms.

“Leave us.” Runaan said instead, short and crisp and to the point, his voice hard as iron.

The officer hung his head and nodded, saluting his superior before scurrying out of the room, clearly in a hurry to escape the situation he’d put himself in.

Runaan didn’t wait another second before sweeping Tinker into a bruising kiss, conveying all the emotion that couldn’t be said. It was like moving from a dark, starless night into a nebula of moonlight.

“Runaan-” Tinker gasped, pulling away for air after a few moments, “I-”

“Shh, my love,” Runaan said back, resting his forehead against his husband’s, “You don’t need to worry anymore. I am here with you, you are here with me, and that is all that matters.” He pressed his lips to Tinker’s again and any thought pertaining to anything but Runaan immediately left his head.

After what seemed like hours, they finally broke apart, panting into each other’s mouth and generally turning the aura rather PG-13. By chance, Tinker happened to glance behind Runaan and practically squeaked once he saw three other officers standing there motionlessly, having witnessed their entire reunion and subsequent heavy makeout session. Runaan followed Tinker’s line of eyesight and chuckled at his husband’s bashfulness. “Are you embarrassed by me?”

Tinker’s eyes widened and he lightly slapped Runaan’s shoulder. “No! It’s just…” He laughed humorlessly. “I look ridiculous. I am ridiculous; I overreacted and thought you were...well, it doesn’t matter anymore. But-” His eyes, trying to avoid the three other officers, found their way to Runaan’s cast. “What happened?!” he fretted, delicately running his fingers over the plaster, “Does it hurt?”

Runaan shook his head, taking Tinker’s hand. “I am fine, Tinker. It’s nothing to be worried about.”

Tinker wasn’t having it. “No, Runaan, no more of your macho toughness shit. You’re my husband and I love you so damn much…” His voice was much lower now, more wobbly, as he rested his head on Runaan’s sculpted chest, “Please...let me take care of you.”
Runaan was silent for a minute or two. Then, in a low voice, he began to speak.

“It was about a month ago. We were in-”

One of the officers cleared her throat. “Agent Moonshadow, I will have to remind you of the classified nature of this mission. We believe it is unwise to-” She was silenced by one withering glare from Runaan, taking a long step back. “Sir.”

“As I was saying,” he continued, turning back to his husband, “We were in...a war zone, I will call it. I was on the top of a high-rise building, preparing to neutralize the leader of a terrorist organization.” Tinker shivered at the detached way Runaan referred to killing, but he allowed him to continue.

“I had sensed something was wrong from the very beginning. It was too...simple, I shall say, to infiltrate such a highly-secure area.” Runaan paused for a moment and although Tinker could tell he was trying to hide the way the memory affected him, Tinker had known him too long and too intimately for that to fool him.

“We were ambushed.” Runaan continued, swallowing thickly, “My team and I...we barely escaped with our lives.” He gestured to the left side of his body. “Now, the government mandates I must rest before I am to continue my work.”

Tinker exhaled sharply, slowly lifting his head off Runaan’s chest. “Oh, god…that sounds....so awful…” His eyes met his husband’s and he hardened his resolve. “When we get home I’m going to sit you down and you’re not moving again until you’re completely healed.”

Runaan raised an eyebrow. “Oh? Is that right?” Leaning down slightly, he whispered something so filthy in his husband’s ear that Tinker let out a sound slightly resembling a strangled chicken. “Runaan!”

Runaan simply chuckled and swept Tinker into another hug. “You are my everything,” he said simply, “I love you.”

There was no need to say anything more, those seven words demonstrated all that was needed. How much they he cherished Tinker, how precious he was to him, and how from now on, nothing could separate them.

Tinker felt a tear slip down his cheek as he closed his eyes, burying himself in Runaan’s warmth.

“I love you too…”