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 “Papa, did you forget to tell me something?” Roberto asks, as Duncan’s rounding the weird decorative wall between the foyer and the parlour, his tone somewhere between I just found the secret mistress you’ve been hiding, bitch and fuck you, I’m gonna skin you alive.

It says a lot about how pussy-whipped Duncan is that he notices the state of Berto’s hair first—it’s up in some complicated, pretty braided bun, which is unusual—rather than the far more important fact that he’s covered in blood, little splatters on his forehead and staining his formerly pink Marc Jacobs jumper an ugly dark brown.

“Uh, your hair looks nice,” he says weakly, clearing his throat at the end so he won’t choke on his next words.

Whatever they are, Berto’s narrowed eyes challenge him, they better be good.

“Don’t talk about my fucking hair, Duncan,” he hisses, grabs a magazine off the coffee table and launching himself at Duncan, hitting him with it everywhere he can reach. And Duncan, shocked as he is, just stands there and lets the tiny little thing get his aggression out.

Berto looks up at him, Duncan’s remaining eye tracking the movement nervously, because it seems like Berto’s two seconds away from lifting his eyepatch and jamming his thumb inside the empty socket.

“Ouch,” he says flatly, pretending to grab at his arm in pain, and Berto huffs.

“Did you forget to tell me that you were some sort of internationally known highly paid assassin for hire? Because I had two of the knobbiest knobs in all the fucking country barge into a dressing room at Top Shop and demand—at gunpoint—that I take them to our apartment because, and I quote ‘He owe us big’.”

There is no need to ask “who”, because Duncan always pays his debts, and there are very few people on the list of colleagues or assets whom he owes anything to. The more pertinent question here is “how”.

“Judging by the arterial spray on your clothing, you were the one to kill them. It was highly unlikely they turned on each other,” he says, raising an eyebrow and crossing his arms.

Berto calls it the Daddy’s Disappointed look. Duncan just wants it to be effective enough to make Berto tell him what he wants to know. “I don’t think I’m the only one who’s withheld information. When I met you, you were working at a coffee shop.”

“Yeah, sure, that’s hardly prime employment for convicted felons,” Berto snorts, blowing a lock of hair out of his eyes like he’s some pretty thing in a teenage pop star music video. “But it was the only job that would take me, and like I did tell you when we met, I had…not the best past.”

“It was easy for me to guess you had daddy issues. Not that you knew the most efficient way to kill when you’re outnumbered. Are the bodies still in the apartment?”

Berto bites his lower lip. Nods. He’s forgotten to be angry, now that he realizes what comes next.

“I will take care of it,” Duncan says, “but you will watch. In case of—.”

“In case of what? I could’ve been killed, Duncan. It’s common courtesy to tell your partner something like that when you start fucking!”

Duncan looks at the floor. There is a spatter of water on his left boot. Been raining for a week straight, before today.

“I’m retired,” he says. “And I took care of most of my…outstanding responsibilities. I didn’t think it would be an issue.”

“They kept on about some hidden safe, and come to find out you had half a million Euros behind that shoddy Rembrandt knockoff? You made me pay for dinner last week!”

“Forgot my wallet. I’m getting senile,” Duncan says, which at least gets a dry laugh instead of a death glare. “It’s not my money. I’m holding it for Camille.”

“She’s too good for you. You know she’s not going to take that money back,” Berto says softly, and Duncan scrubs a hand over his face.

“I know.”

“Look,” Berto whispers, taking his free hand. “Let’s just say I was young and played follow-the-leader into some very bad decisions. I did my best to wriggle out of a prison sentence, and barely did any time. So, as you can see, I’m not incapable of protecting myself if you can be honest with me about whether this is gonna happen a lot.”

His brow furrows, and Duncan sees he’s genuinely scared, despite whatever he’d done that made him able to kill two strangers in cold blood. He could imagine it easily—the two idiots tearing apart the apartment, both turning their backs, Berto coming up behind them with a kitchen knife or anything sharp he could find.

He couldn’t work a gun, despite Duncan once taking him to an indoor range and trying to teach him, so maybe in the future, Duncan would teach him to expand on the tools he already had.

“You don’t have to stay,” he says, a reflex. This is why he’s always alone, why hookers are easier and cleaner.

“God help me, I want to,” Berto sighs, collapsing onto the sofa, his cute ruffled socks leaving red flecks on the hardwood. “You’re even more of a catch now that I know you and your surrogate daughter are loaded.”

Duncan frowns, not quite understanding what would make him—an old, one-eyed chronic smoker who regularly wears cargo pants (Berto’s disgusted shiver)—a “catch” for someone as young and confident as Berto in the first place, but accepting that Berto’s willing to look beyond that. He thinks on it for a second.

Well, Berto’s said many times that he likes how big his cock is.

“Please tell me I get a bath at the end of this, at least,” Berto whines, throwing his head dramatically back against the sofa.

“Of course,” Duncan says, though they’ll have to carry the bodies downstairs to the laundry, to use the industrial sink. Good on you, he thinks to himself, remembering to stock up on lye.

“And you’ll join me?” Berto asks, drenched in crimson, yet with his hair still nearly wedding-day flawless, an innocent pout on his perfect face.

Christ, how can he say no to that.

“Yeah,” Duncan croaks, reaching out to squeeze his hand. Wondering how he got so lucky. “Definitely.”