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We're just a sinner's choir singin' a song for the saints 

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***

Angel feels awkward as hell standing in the kitchen while his brother and father cling to each other and cry. Even though almost all their secrets are on the table and that he'd be welcome to go over there doesn't stop him feeling like he doesn’t really fit , even if a cry on his old man’s shoulder actually sounds kind of nice right now. It’s been a long … year, actually. Angel’s starting to feel like someone’s stuck him on a raft and sent him out to float alone in a sea of stress and fear and hurt.

There’s no point moping about it though. He’s going to Coco’s after this, which is something to look forward to. Sure, they’re still lying to Letty about the depth of their relationship, but she’s a bright girl. Angel knows she’s figured it out. That’s why she came sidling up to Angel while he was throwing away the garbage leftover from their lunch, asking him to come over and help look after her father. It’s not like he can cook for shit with both eyes, let alone wearing an eyepatch. Angel knows the truth though - it’s obvious in the way she poked him in the side and wiggled her eyebrows at him, the same thing Angel had done to EZ not ten minutes before when he was glancing over at Gabi. It’s not something Angel is going to tell Coco, mind you. Poor dude is still all fucked up over the idea that his kid might think he likes dick, yet doesn’t see that Angel staying over at least 5 nights a week and sleeping in the same fucking bed might be a good indication that they’re more than brothers and friends.

And there’s something he’s gotta do before he goes over there, too. Sure, the comment from Coco about the lack of a lollipop for good behavior was probably just his attempt at a joke, but Angel wants to get him one anyway. Maybe it’ll make him smile at least. 

“I gotta go, I promised Letty I’d help her cook tonight with Coco out of action,” Angel announces and pushes off the sink, leaving his empty bottle behind. “I leave her unattended, she’ll burn the fucking kitchen down.”

EZ and his old man pull themselves apart, still sniffling and red-faced. Felipe, or Ignacio, or whoever the fuck he is other than Angel’s dad, tugs him into a quick, strong hug. “Te quiero, mijo. Tell Coco and Letty I said hello.”

Angel suspects his father knows more about his relationship with Coco than he’s willing to let on. EZ certainly does, assuming he figured it out after catching Angel fucking Coco against the wall of his house last week. Neither of them have said anything though, following the tradition in their household of ignoring things until they blow up in their faces. 

Not that it actually worries Angel. He's long gotten over the teenage worries of his sexuality and how it was just something else that made him 'other' in their family.  Of course he wishes occasionally that he liked pussy enough to only fuck girls. Yes, it’d be easier in some ways if he tried to make it work with Adelita, assuming she wanted more than the close friendship and very fun sex they’d had going on pre-pregnancy, but she’s not Coco. Nobody is, and nobody ever will be. Angel doesn’t see much point in fighting it more than he has.

“Te quiero, pops, bro.” He wraps a one-armed hug around EZ’s shoulders and squeezes his father’s arm at the same time, then slips out the door into the dark. 

***

After a stop-off at the gas station Angel pulls in behind Coco’s car and the shitty F100 he got from God knows where and is doing God knows what with, and heads for the door. 

Letty is clearly the one who got herself and her father in the house, because Angel manages to lock himself out before he can get in.

“Letty,” he bellows down the hallway, “you didn’t lock the fucking door again!”

His somehow-partially adopted teenage daughter pokes her head out of the bathroom with her index finger to her lips and the other hand waving furiously in the universal ‘no-go’ sign. “ Shuddup!”

Angel stops where he is, little plastic packets still in his hand. “Jesus Christ, what? What’s wrong?” He glances around and finally notices that the house is nearly dark except for the light in the bathroom and the desk lamp in Letty’s room. There’s a suspicious absence of Coco anywhere to be seen. “Where’s your Dad?”

“In his room,” she hisses back, and now that Angel’s closer to her, he can see something that looks like fear in her eyes. Letty swallows and chews at her bottom lip for a moment, and Angel gives her the time to figure out what she wants to say. Eventually she whispers, “he’s really bad, Angel.” 

“Bad? What sort of bad?” Fuck, Angel knew he shouldn’t have left him with Gilly. The guy’s served so he gets a lot of the shit that makes Coco tick, but he doesn’t know Coco like Angel does. He has a sickening mental image of Coco killing himself or falling back onto the hard drugs again or just drunk and spiralling down into misery.

“Like, crying and throwing stuff and really fucking angry. I tried to call you or get him to talk to me or whatever but he took my phone, then he fucking locked the door.” Letty curls in on herself, the usually almost falsely confident girl making herself small and childlike. “I didn’t know what to do so I just kind of hung out and listened to him. I think he’s asleep now, but he’s pulled the curtains so I can’t even see inside.” 

Fucking Hell. Angel stuffs the candy in his pocket and runs his fingers through his hair, has a moment of indecision, then decides ‘fuck it’ and tugs Letty into a quick hug, stroking her hair like he does Coco's when he's stressed. His family is demonstrative, he can't help it. They show love with affection. “It’s alright, mija. I’ll see if I can get him out.”

“And if you can’t?” Letty asks into his chest, holding onto him pretty fucking tightly. He remembers what it looked like the first time he saw Coco all messed up, so he gets it. Also, the hug is good. It’s not Coco, and Letty’s not the baby he’s all tore up about inside, but she’s still family and it’s nice to have this for a moment. 

“Then I’ll break the door down and deal with his bitching later.” 

When Letty eventually lets go of him Angel manages four steps into the dark before he trips over one of Letty’s trainers, and he turns back to mock-glare at her. “I’ll get your old man out of there, you start cleaning this shithole, then I’ll order pizza.”

It says something for how bothered she is that she just nods and picks her shoes up. When he hits their bedroom and turns the knob, Angel expects resistance, expects the deadbolt Coco installed to stop him in his tracks. Instead the door swings wide open and Angel turns back to look at Letty, her eyes comically large in bafflement. She shrugs and Angel shoos her back to her cleaning efforts while he takes a deep breath and goes into the bedroom, not entirely sure what he’s going to find.

It takes his eyes a moment to get used to the almost total darkness, the only light coming in from under the curtain edge, and when he can see again he finds a Coco-shaped lump hunkered down, nearly hidden between the bed and the window. “Hey, cariño,” he says softly, not entirely sure if Coco’s worked himself into a fucked-up sleep or if he’s a million miles away in Satan’s asscrack again. Either way, startling him tends to lead to guns being pulled and Angel’s had his life threatened enough for one week. “You awake?”

The lump murmurs promisingly, so Angel moves in closer and fumbles for the light switch. “Mind if I turn on the light?”

Don’t.” Coco’s voice is worn thin and nearly shaking, and it’s the only thing that stops Angel flicking it on. 

“Your eyes hurting?” Angel’s all levels of pissed that they didn’t even send him home with pain relief, just a little bottle of eye drops that burn when he puts them in. Poor fucker’s pain level has to be off the scale, no matter how tough he’s acted all day. 

“Somethin’ like that.” Coco’s words slur together worryingly, and Angel can only hope he’s just drunk. He moves across easily to let Angel slip into the space between him and the bed, barely an inch between them. Angel tries to maintain the gap, not sure if Coco’s in the mood for physical contact - some days he’s like a fucking octopus, other days he can’t handle Angel even being in the house with him, another person's sheer presence too much for him to deal with.

Not tonight though. Coco immediately tips over until he lands heavily against Angel’s shoulder, and he takes the chance to wrap his arms around his chest and pull him even closer, until Angel has his nose in Coco’s hair and Coco’s leg is draped over his thigh. Short of nudity, Angel isn’t sure they can get any closer. 

Nudity would be preferable to the reality of the situation, which is Coco still dressed in the same clothes he’d been in earlier, right down to his shoes and kutte, and clearly unshowered because he stinks of burn lotion, charred hair and the particularly rotten tang of fear and adrenalized sweat. It’s pretty gross compared to Coco’s usual deodorant and shampoo and metal, but Angel just considers himself lucky he’s got the opportunity to hold Coco at all. He came so very close to losing him. Angel has been holding that thought at bay for twenty-four hours, knowing if he thinks on it too much he’ll start bawling, but it doesn’t mean he doesn’t know.

See, Coco’s it for Angel, and if he’d died without Angel being able to make sure Coco knows that it’d fucking kill him. Sure, Coco is the one who ended it with him after nine years, panicking over Celia catching them and then Letty moving in with him only a month later, the idea of people knowing freaked him out. Sure, he tore Angel’s heart out, making Angel feel like he’d bleed out from the pain of the rejection and knowing he’d never be enough to make this relationship something the world would ever know about. He’s still the one who decided to make the whole thing infinitely worse by actually pursuing Adelita for real and not wrapping his dick like a complete fucking moron. Coco might have pushed him away but Angel didn’t have to fucking run in the opposite direction like his ass was on fire.

After the not-so-little revelation of him fathering Adelita’s baby, Angel had thought there was never going to be another chance for them, no matter what happened with Adelita. All Coco did was smile and hug him and laugh. When Adelita put the cause and Gallindo ahead of any future they might have had, ahead of their child, Coco held him while he cried and got drunk and started putting Angel back together, in the process making him feel like a complete asshole for sleeping with her in the first place. Angel had gone in to kiss him that night and Coco had just said, “not yet. Not drunk, carnal.” 

Angel thinks him working up the courage to try again, nearly a month and a hell of a hangover later, is the best decision he’s ever made given that Coco came to him easily and kissed him like it was the only thing he ever wanted to do. After that it was like they’d never broken up in the first place, Angel coming back to this house and Letty getting used to his near-constant presence without so much as blinking.

But six weeks in Angel knows Coco is still … unsure is a polite way to put it, really, about himself and his sexuality and their relationship, and what that means in Santo Padre and the MC. He's also very quietly insecure as fuck about their future, whether this is a long-term, happy ending sort of deal when Coco's never had that in his whole life. Angel had been trying to help with that before they’d gone to the table with SAMCRO, then the VM fucking attacked them, and all Angel had been able to think when Coco was screaming and burning in front of him was that he needed more time, he needed to make sure Coco never had to wonder about the depth of Angel’s feelings for him.

It's the first time he's prayed since his little brother was led into a courthouse in cuffs, hoping the jury would vote in his favor. It didn't escape Angel's notice this time around that perhaps God doesn't appreciate their sporadic conversations, but apparently he's on Coco's side a little.

He gets dragged out of that depressing maelstrom of thoughts by Coco poking him in the side. “You in there, carnal?”

“Yeah, sorry. Just thinking.” Now that he’s mentally back in the room, Angel can also smell what seems to be some very strong alcohol coming off Coco’s breath. “How much have you had tonight, huh?”

“Just that tequila from Celia’s. Didn’t start on the Jack yet,” Coco mumbles placatingly, and Angel grimaces. 

“You mean that shit I wanted to use as paint thinner? Jesus Christ, Coco.”  

Coco just shrugs, which is the same answer he’d given when Angel had tried to pour it down the sink in the first place. It was barely a fifth in the bottom of a cheap plain bottle, murky and disgusting, but Coco had insisted and Angel wasn’t in any position to bin the stuff at the time. 

He nuzzles at Coco’s temple instead of saying anything else on the subject and sits there beside him, content to stay however long Coco needs him to and more.

But Coco doesn’t speak for far too long. In fact Angel wouldn’t know he was breathing if they weren’t sitting so close.

“Gilly told me about Riz,” he says eventually, desperate to break the nearly-oppressive silence in the stiflingly-hot room. Also, this is a subject they need to talk about. “Everyone else know?”

Coco nods. “Yeah. But hey, we’re going to war with the Vatos now,” He nearly snarls the name, sounding a little more like himself. 

“Huh.” Nobody had told Angel that, but good. They shouldn’t have been even considering otherwise.

“Fucking Bish, man,” Coco complains, dragging himself up a little so he’s not actually draped over Angel anymore, and Angel’s skin feels cold without him there. He watches Coco shake his head in the gloom. “Fuck ‘em all. They care now that Riz is dead, but if I can’t fucking see right for the rest of my life that’s okay? We just let that shit go?” Coco’s nearly shaking with quick-risen fury and betrayal now, and Angel’s only surprised it’s taken this long to show up. He’s also of the opinion Coco needs to vent here and not at the scrapyard so just keeps his mouth shut and rubs his knuckles up and down along Coco’s spine.  “ Fuck that shit, carnal. Fucking die for those assholes and they don’t give a fuck about me.”

Angel knows that isn’t true, that Bishop was just looking out for the club and the others followed in his lead, but he gets why Coco feels otherwise. He hates them just a little for hurting him like that, hates EZ a little too because his brother can see the bigger picture so clearly and Angel knows where his vote would likely lie if he was patched in. The only ones with enough fucking loyalty to Coco and Riz were apparently him and Gilly, and that’s fucked up, but he still understands the 'no' votes. He also knows if he puts voice to any of that he'll just make Coco feel even more betrayed, and Angel will likely get his teeth knocked out.

"Fuck 'em, man," is what he settles on. "You got us, and we'll get vengeance. Would have done it anyway."

That’s not a lie - Angel had already had plans for the motherfucking Vatos Malditos, no matter what the MC had thought about it.

“Yeah?” Coco asks, like it’s actually a question in his crazy mind. Angel shakes his head. 

“Fucking course, asshole. You and me, we’re in this shit together. Those fuckers hurt you, so we gotta hurt 'em back.”

Angel knows they wouldn’t be alone - Gilly will be at their side in a heartbeat, Taza too, if the way he was at the hospital is anything to go off. EZ wouldn’t be hard to convince, not with the way he’s itching to hurt someone, and the VM are a far better choice than Gallindo’s mother. Creep would have been a possibility too, plus all of the Rebels. They love Coco, love his kindness and way with the traumatized children Adelita and Pablo have taken in.

Coco nods after a while, clearly chewing on something, and Angel uses the time to wonder if he should actually say those three little words more often instead of spouting what’s essentially their version of a love declaration. Sure, the offer of slaughtering a rival MC might not be exactly conventional Valentine’s Day card material, but Angel can admit it’s very them.  It just might not be enough.

Angel’s ass is asleep by the time Coco speaks again, hesitant and barely whispering, like if he doesn’t say the words loud enough to hear then the problem isn’t there. “What do I do, carnal?”

He blinks into the darkness for a moment, trying to bring his brain back to life. “With what?”

“Fuck you, with what,” Coco grumbles, “With my fucking eyes, pendejo. What if I can’t see no more, can’t ride, can’t fucking shoot. What do I do then?”

It’s not a line of thought Angel blames him for having. It’s fucking terrifying for him and Letty and it’s not even their eyes at risk here. “I don’t know,” he says gently, because he doesn't, not really. “What do you want to do?”

Coco punches out a miserable, strangled little sob then curls tighter into Angel again, not so much draped over him as clinging to him like a child does their mother. “I don’t fucking know," he cries. "What good am I to the club with no eyes, huh? Not much of a fucking sniper if I can’t see shit. I’d rather take a bullet to the head than deal with that.”

Oh no. No no no. Coco sometimes straddles a line that runs beyond ‘adrenaline junkie’ and into ‘suicidal self-destruction’ far too often for Angel to hear him sound like that. He gropes around until he gets hold of Coco’s left hand and squeezes tight, waiting until he squeezes back before he talks.

“I know you don’t think shit of yourself, but God fucking damn man.” He shakes his head in despair, not sure how to get through to Coco when thirty-two years on the planet has gotten him so fucked up. “You’re you, dumbass. Don’t need your fucking eyes to protect us, not when you’ve got your freaky fucking hearing as well. You're still a better shot with your eyes closed than anyone I know anyway.” 

There’s a million and one other things he could start reeling off about Coco that matter to Angel more than him being a bad-ass sniper, but if he mentions any of those Coco’ll just refuse to listen. Compliments are a thing he has to be in the mood for or they're just gasoline on a fire, somehow hurting him more.

It gets a wet-sounding snort of laughter out of him and Coco nuzzling up against Angel’s neck, so he counts it as a win. 

“And there’s no point freaking out yet, you gotta talk to that specialist, get an idea of what’s going on first. I don’t think those fucking idiots at the hospital knew anything anyway,” he grumbles, still extremely fucking pissed off about that. Even if Coco’s insurance is crap, who does that, just sends someone home with burnt eyes and nothing to dull the pain?

Coco laughs again, no humor in it at all. “And how the fuck do I afford to go to him, huh? With Leticia here I’m fucking tight, and I got the fees from the hospital to deal with. Doc said I could be looking at thousands if I need tests and surgery and shit. And he can’t fix me if I can’t fucking pay him, so what do I do?

His voice rises in panic and he sounds a hell of a lot like he’s sobbing by the end, one hand still held tight by Angel’s and the other digging into his own hair. 

“Hey, hey, hey, no, cariño, no,” Angel holds him close and kisses any part of him he can reach without disturbing the eyepatch, his voice cracking with sorrow and anger that this is all happening to Coco, who's been dealt a crappy enough hand in life as it is. “It’s alright. We’ll figure out the cash if I gotta rob a fucking bank or something, whatever.”

Okay, that’s mostly a joke, because the first thing that came to Angel’s mind isn’t illegal. If he can talk to Emily, she might front Coco’s medical bills if he can promise to stop EZ from murdering her mother-in-law. Hell, she might even know something that’ll keep their old man from being picked up by ICE. 

The only other option involves their relationship being known to the world and rings on matching fingers, but Coco is very unlikely to go along with that plan no matter how good Angel’s insurance is.

Coco thinks about that for a moment, the gears in his head loud enough Angel can pretty much hear them. “Nah, ain’t worth it. Don’t want you doing time for dumb shit like that.”

And what the fuck. Angel’s done time for dumber shit, those 18 months in Chino was from him being caught with too much weed on him for fuck’s sake. But he’s too tired and Coco’s too wrecked to fight over that tonight. “Point is we’ll sort it out. You just let me make the appointment, yeah?”

If he doesn’t make it for him, Coco will just spend weeks freaking over the finances and the what-ifs and it’ll be too late.

“And what if they can’t help?” Coco asks plaintively, sounding so young it hurts something deep in Angel’s chest. “Could spend all that cash and they still can’t fix me. Where do I go then?” 

Jesus, it’s like living with EZ when he was flipping out after their mom was killed, dealing with every worst-case scenario in his head. “Then we pack up our shit and Letty and we fuck off somewhere else. You pick the place, and if your eyes never get better then we’ll never come back.” Angel will do it in a heartbeat. He’ll leave his hometown, his family, the MC, all of it. They’ll start over and he’ll help Coco deal with his new life, they’ll manage it however they have to. But he won’t fucking lose him to the misery of staying here with everything he’s lost haunting him. 

“S’pose we do that, fuck off to fucking Alaska or some shit,” And Angel doesn’t see that happening, seeing as Coco pretty much lives on top of a space heater with a hoody on in what counts for a Northern Cali winter. But he’ll humor the man for now. “What about you? You gonna walk away from the club?”

He can hear the real question in there - am I enough for you if it’s only me you’ve got? “Yeah. What the fuck am I gonna do without you, huh? Without your crazy kid and your hour-long showers and you hogging all the fucking covers? Besides, I turn you loose, you’ll fucking starve.” 

He gets his fingers under Coco’s chin, tilts his head back until he can see one dark eye glowing in the darkness and their mouths are barely an inch apart, Coco’s stinking of shitty booze and unbrushed teeth. Somehow it’s still the best thing Angel’s smelt for days. “Ain’t doing this without you, querido. Whatever that means. Done enough apart, I don’t wanna do it anymore.”

“Yeah?” Coco asks, quiet and sweet and so much like that Marine that kissed him in an alley nearly a decade ago. “You ain’t just fucking me ‘cause of convenience, nene?”

Angel nearly chokes on the laughter that comes bubbling out of his chest. “Ain’t nothing fucking convenient about you, Coco. You’re just … you, you know? Why would I go for anyone else if you want me?”

"What about your family? Got a kid now. Brother, father, baby mama too. You gonna leave 'em all?" Coco starts gnawing on his bottom lip again and Angel thumbs at it, pushing the raw skin away before it bleeds and relishing the heat and damp on his skin.

"For you? Course I fucking will. See, there's these things called phones . You can make calls, send photos, even transfer money with them -" he's cut off when Coco smacks him upside the head with a put-upon groan. “The point is, asshole, it’s not like I’ll never talk to them again. Adelita never wanted to be a couple anyway, not for real. She was happy to pretty much raise the kid with the rebels. EZ and my dad need each other around more than they need me. And I wanna be wherever you are, so why the fuck not move somewhere else if you want to?”

Coco is silent for too long, long enough that Angel wonders if he’s done something wrong. He's considering apologizing when a strong arm wraps tight around his waist and pulls him in close, Coco’s hand finding its way into his hair and dragging Angel’s mouth back down to his in a bruising kiss. It’s all teeth and tongue from both of them, Coco letting out a little whine when Angel catches his bottom lip accidentally, and yeah, this is good . Graceless and hungry and wanting, but so very very good. Apparently something he said sunk into that thick skull, maybe made Coco see he’s in this thing no matter what.

It’s only when Coco’s hands start shifting, tugging-slipping-sliding under Angel’s kutte and then his shirt to the skin underneath and working to peel them off that Angel has a moment of worry, wondering if this is the best idea when Coco’s still plastered. 

He also knows a distraction when he sees one, but he thinks they both deserve it right now as long as Coco’s up for it.

When he goes to push Coco’s hair back and accidentally brushes against the red-raw burnt skin below the eyepatch, Coco jerks back with a grunt and Angel remembers why else this a bad idea. He pushes gently at Coco’s chest, just enough to get him not to lean back in to keep the kiss going.

"Hey, cariño, no. Not while you're like this, yeah?" Angel croons. He won’t let him hurt himself for the sake of kissing him, even if Coco’s kisses always feel like coming home. 

"What's that supposed to mean?" Coco complains, eyebrows crinkling in tipsy confusion. "We've fucked drunk before."

"Yeah, but not with you hurting. Don't wanna hurt you, Coco." He navigates around the eyepatch and tangles his fingers in Coco’s hair just to see him tip his head back and bare his throat, his eye slipping closed in bliss. 

“I’m good,” Coco protests, but it’s weak, his mind going all fuzzy on him with Angel playing with his hair - which is exactly why Angel’s doing it. 

“You ain’t, and it’s okay. You don’t have to be after all this shit, you hear me? You’re allowed to be all fucked up and you’re allowed to let me take care of you,” Angel tries to be strong, which is very fucking hard in the face of a warm, willing Coco. "So let me be good to you, nene.”

Coco swallows, his adam’s apple moving and the sharp angle of his jaw catching the light beneath the curtain. “Yeah. Yeah, okay.”

“Good,” he praises, and moves up for a gentle kiss, nuzzling at Coco’s nose just to see him smile dopily. They’ve gotta move though, otherwise they’ll stay here all night. Also, Angel promised Letty pizza. “C’mon, let’s get you cleaned up. You stink of hospital and I promised your kid takeout.”

Coco hums consideringly. “What’re you feeding me?”

Angel laughs outright at the predictability of the man. Coco’ll eat nearly anything, and it’s always easy to get him moving in exchange for a meal. “Pizza, unless you want something else?”

“Nah, pizza’s good.” Of course it is. Coco’ll live off it given the chance. 

“C’mon, then, up.” Angel pushes at Coco until he moves back then drags himself up and shakes out his feet while he pulls Coco up, not giving him the option of staying down there in his own filth.

Coco’s still a little stumbly and shaky, either from the shock of the last twenty-four hours or the sheer amount of alcohol he’s drank, so Angel lets him lean into him, pretending it’s just because he wants to keep an arm around his shoulders while they cross the room and then the hallway, heading for the small shared bathroom. 

Letty silently pushes open her bedroom door on their right and tips her head up to Angel in question. Angel tilts his to her in answer, knowing that if she didn’t already know about the expression on his face would give them away in a heartbeat. 

Once behind a locked door they strip each other without letting go, each apparently as clingy as the other. Kuttes go on the hooks on the back of the door, the rest of their stuff dumped in the overflowing hamper Angel’ll have to do something about later, shoes in a pile near the toilet where they won’t trip over them.

Somehow Coco ends up naked first, probably because he’s a little heathen who loves having his ass out, and then all of his focus goes to stripping Angel off. When he goes to tug Angel’s pants down the lollipops from earlier crinkle in his pocket, and like a bloodhound to scent Coco goes searching to the tune of Angel laughing at him. 

“Get your fucking hand out of there, idiota, I’ll show you.” He pushes Coco’s hand out of the way and snags the two packets before pulling them out to show Coco. 

“Red and blue, take your pick or have both,” he offers, knowing Coco has no real preference beyond hating citrus flavored things, but wanting to give him a choice. Angel’s sweet tooth doesn’t extend to candy often, so he figures that if he leaves one it can go to Letty.

Coco blinks but takes them, flipping them over in his hand. The issue comes when he stands there staring at them for long enough that Angel feels stupid. 

“Is that okay?” He asks.

“Yeah,” Coco says. “But where'd you get them? You don’t like this shit.”

Trust Coco to know Angel like the back of his hand and also have no memory of what he said earlier. Angel sighs and rolls his eyes, wishing he could go back two minutes and say something different, make up a lie about being given them or something, but there’s no use. Coco can read him like a book. 

“You said, at the hospital, they didn’t even give you a lollipop,” he reminds him, watching Coco nod in understanding. “So I bought them. Figured you’d like it.”

“... You bought me a lollipop, because I said something dumb in the hospital?” Coco says slowly, like he’s trying to figure out Angel’s angle here even though he just told him why, and Angel feels, if possible, even fucking stupider. He sheepishly scrubs a hand through his hair and stares down at where his boot has left a black mark on the tile. 

“Just wanted to cheer you up a little, you know?” 

His face is red, flaming hot even with the pathetic breeze coming through the window, and Angel wonders what the fuck he was thinking. Coco’s a grown man, of course he doesn’t want a damn lollipop, no matter what he said earlier or what the flavor is.

“You bought me a lollipop because you wanted to cheer me up.” Coco’s still talking slow and confused, and Angel wants to sink into the floor. 

“Yeah. I mean - It’s dumb, don’t worry about it.” He goes to snag them from Coco’s hand but Coco pulls them back out of reach, looking all kinds of offended.

“Fuck you, you ain’t taking ‘em off me now.”

...Alright, Angel is a little confused. “So, you like them?”

“Course I do.” Coco chews at his bottom lip for a moment, his left eye closing. “You know Celia never even got me like, birthday presents or shit like that? Never any food in the house unless I wanted to eat smokes and booze. I wanted something, I had to steal it. If I had a shitty day, got sick, got hurt, whatever, no one cared.” He swallows thickly and reaches out to take Angel’s hand, rubs his thumb gently over the rough tanned skin on the back. “Thank you, Angel. Fuckin’ love you.”

Oh. Something hot and golden spreads through Angel’s chest, like he’s standing in a beam of light. “Love you too, cariño. More than anything.” 

Next thing he knows, Coco has him wrapped in a brutally tight hug and there’s a wet eye being pressed against his neck. Angel holds on in return and lets himself be teary-eyed and breathless for a minute in the steam of the bathroom, then pulls away when Coco’s grip loosens to something less python-y. 

"C'mon, shower.” He coaxes Coco backwards, knowing everything he’s feeling right now is written all over his face and totally fine with it because he can see it mirrored back on Coco’s. They’re on the same page right now for the first time in so long and Angel only wishes it hadn’t been brought on by the guy being potentially permanently maimed. 

“You just wanna see me naked,” Coco teases with a leer and Angel rolls his eyes as he pushes him towards the shower. 

“You’re already fucking naked, you dumbass.”

“Oh, yeah. Well, more naked, then. Soapy and shit.” Coco grins wide and almost right at him, and that’s about the best thing Angel’s ever seen, turns him weak and willing for the man. 

He resolves to never let Coco know that, or he’ll use it against him at every opportunity.

***

An hour later and he's chilling on the couch, his little family stuffed with pizza and ice cream and 101 Dalmatians playing on the TV. If anyone asks, it's because they can't find the remote. The truth is that Angel purposely put it on this channel then hid the remote down the side of the couch - Coco and Letty love old kids' movies and Looney Toons episodes, and Angel will admit he has a soft spot for them too.

The best part is how Coco's head is in his lap, a blanket thrown haphazardly over him because Coco is a cold-blooded little fucker and an empty lollipop stick clutched loosely in his hand. Letty is curled up in the armchair to Angel's left and apparently shares her father's tolerance of even the slightest chill in the air because she's in her pjs, her feet and hands tucked into a fluffy purple dressing gown and not a scrap of makeup on, looking a solid five years younger with the blue lollipop still in her mouth. She glances over at her father then up at Angel and grins, pointing at Coco's head. 

"He's asleep," she mouths, and Angel smiles. He could have told her that - Coco has been getting steadily heavier as he dozes off, melting under Angel's fingers as he cares through his hair.

They stay like that for the next fifteen minutes, Coco breathing so heavily he's nearly snoring, until the credits roll and Letty drags herself out of the chair.

Angel blinks sleepily up at her when she stops in front of him. "You off to bed, mija?"

Letty nods and leans down to press a kiss to first her father's head, then after a moment's hesitation, Angel's. "Want me to turn the TV off?" She whispers.

Angel grins and pulls the remote out of its hiding place to waggle it at her. "No need."

Letty just rolls her eyes at him. "Goodnight, loser."

"Goodnight, brat."

She gets to the door before she turns around, biting her bottom lip just like her father does when he's nervous. "Thank you, Angel. For looking after him."

Angel huffs out a little chuckle, careful not to disturb his lapful of sleeping sniper. "Any time, for him or you."

That little smile she gives him is so much like Coco that it nearly hurts, and she thankfully disappears down the hallway before Angel embarasses them both by telling the girl how much he loves her. Even if he never gets to meet his baby, it’s okay as long as Letty lets him parent her a bit.

In the peace and quiet that follows, with the TV now muted and playing some dumb sitcom, Angel knows for sure this is where he belongs. Sure, things are all fucked up and unlikely to get any better any time soon. Coco might be permanently blind. Riz is dead. Letty is … Letty, honestly, Angel worries when the girl goes to school in the mornings. His father might be deported, EZ might murder at least one Gallindo, and Angel still has no idea if Adelita and the baby are okay or if he'll ever see them again. But even with all that, he can feel it in his heart, his soul, right down deep in his bones -  this house is his home, the people in it his family more than anywhere or anyone else on the whole fucking planet. They'll figure out everything else together.