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Butcher made his way back to New York in a state of shock. Becca was alive. She had been alive for eight years. Everything he had fought for, the person he had become, it had all been for nothing. She was alive and she didn’t want him.

It took him a little while to track down the safe house where the others were staying. He doubted that they would even want to see him, but it’s not like he had anywhere else to go.

When he knocked, it was Hughie who answered the door. A look of surprise crossed his face, then he scowled. “So you’re alive.”

Butcher nodded. “Can I come in?”

Hughie’s expression didn’t change, but he stepped aside, allowing Butcher to enter the dingy room. At the sight of him, MM lowered his gun, though Frenchie kept his pointed at Butcher’s face. Kimiko didn’t even look up from whatever she was doing.

There was a long silence. Finally Hughie stepped forward. “Are you gonna tell us what the hell happened?”

Butcher took a deep breath. He wasn’t sure whether he should explain himself or apologize or ask how they escaped or stay silent. Instead, he collapsed to the floor, tears streaming down his face.

Frenchie and MM just stood there, shocked. They had never seen Butcher cry before, even after everything they had been through. But Hughie knelt down beside Butcher and embraced him, holding him in his arms as Butcher sobbed into his shirt.

They stayed there like that for what felt like hours. Then Hughie stood, taking Butcher’s hand and leading him over to the beat up couch in the middle of the room. Butcher clung to Hughie as if he were a lifeline, pressing himself to the smaller man as they settled onto the couch.

After a minute of trying to calm himself, Butcher looked up from his place in Hughie’s shirt. The other men were staring at him, still trying to make sense of what the hell was going on. Butcher took a deep breath, then began to explain what had happened.

By the time Butcher finished his story, Hughie’s face was flushed with anger. He was fucking pissed, furious at Becca and at Vought and at Homelander and a bit at himself. But none of that would help Butcher now.

“Come on,” Hughie said, rising up from the sofa. “You should go take a shower, and I’ll go find you some food.”

Butcher looked surprised, but he nodded and let Hughie lead him over to the bathroom. As Butcher showered, Hughie found him some fresh clothes and some of the leftover food that Frenchie had scraped together. He knew that there would be more to talk about, that they would need to figure out some sort of plan for not dying, but that would have to wait until tomorrow. Right now he was going to keep Butcher alive and in some state of relative sanity. Tonight, that was his priority.

Butcher stayed silent as Hughie served him food and gave him a spare toothbrush. There weren’t enough bedrooms in the safe house, but eventually the others did agree (though not without complaint) that Butcher would get one of them.

Hughie didn’t want to assume that he was free to sleep in the room with Butcher, but when Butcher walked up to his door and turned to look at Hughie as if he were waiting, Hughie decided to hope for the best.

The two men sat beside each other on the bed for what felt like ages. Hughie had no idea what to say, but when he turned to look at Butcher he found that the other man was examining him quizzically. 

“Why are you doing all this for me?” Butcher asked, his eyes searching Hughie’s face as if they would give him the answers he was looking for.

Hughie opened his mouth to speak, but no answer sprang to mind.

Butcher continued. “I was awful to you. I abandoned you, I abandoned all of you, for my own stupid shit! I don’t know why you even let me in here.”

“Because I care about you!” Hughie blurted out. The two stared at each other for a minute, caught off guard by the words.

“Hughie,” Butcher whispered, almost as if it were a plea. For a moment, Hughie was worried that he said the wrong thing. Then Butcher kissed him, softly, as if he were the most precious thing in the world. 

For a second Hughie sat there in shock. Then he kissed Butcher back, fiercely, placing one hand on the back of Butcher’s neck while the other tangled in his hair. Butcher’s hands cupped Hughie’s face as he deepened the kiss, and Hughie was overcome by how desperately he wanted this, how the man he was kissing was beautiful and terrifying and perfect all at once.

When they finally separated, Hughie looked up at Butcher. Butcher’s eyes were dark, his cheeks flushed, his beard tousled and his hair sticking up in places. He was the most gorgeous person Hughie had ever seen.

Butcher began to take off his shirt, and Hughie was suddenly hit by a new fear. “Butcher,” Hughie mumbled, afraid that if he didn’t say something now he never would, “I think you’re really hot but I know you’ve had a rough couple days, well I guess more than that, and I don’t want to take advantage or anything-”

“Hughie,” Butcher said quietly, his voice surprisingly measured. “Shut the hell up and kiss me.”

Hughie did just that. Then he watched as Butcher stripped off his shirt and pants, then moved to help Hughie with his until they were both fully naked. When Hughie kissed Butcher again, Butcher allowed himself to be pushed back into the pillows so that Hughie was on top. At this point they were both hard, and Hughie relished the feeling of Butcher’s stiff cock underneath him as he inserted his thigh between Butcher’s legs.

“Fucking hell Hughie,” Butcher moaned, grinding up against him. “I need you. Please.”

Hughie smiled, leaning down to kiss Butcher again. “Don’t worry,” he whispered. “I’ll take care of you.”

Butcher nodded, then reached a hand down to rifle through his things. When he found the small bottle he was looking for, instead of opening it himself like Hughie expected, Butcher pushed the lube into Hughie’s hand. 

Hughie looked up in surprise. “You want me to-?”

Butcher nodded, spreading his legs a little further so Hughie could settle himself between them. Hughie didn’t need to be told twice. Snapping open the bottle, he poured the lube on his fingers and slid the first one into Butcher.

Butcher let out a low moan as Hughie began to finger him, his cock bouncing up against his stomach. Grinding his hips down, Butcher gasped as Hughie added a second finger, his hands clenching at the bed sheets beneath him.

Hughie grinned. As much as he loved getting fucked, he loved seeing Butcher like this; this tough and closed-off man being so open and vulnerable with him. He loved seeing the look of pleasure on his face every time Hughie moved his fingers just right, his hips bucking up as Hughie bent down to kiss him, slowly inserting a third finger.

“Hughie,” Butcher groaned impatiently, “please just fuck me already.”

And fuck, hearing Butcher beg for him was possibly the sexiest thing Hughie had ever heard. Except then Butcher let out a moan as Hughie slid his cock in, and Hughie almost came right then and there. He didn’t, though, and they stayed like that for a minute, Butcher’s dark eyes staring into Hughie’s. Then Hughie thrust into Butcher, and it was clumsy and messy and so fucking amazing.

Hughie began to pick up the pace, soon finding a rhythm as Butcher’s body responded to his. Placing his weight on one side, Hughie took his hand and wrapped it around Butcher’s cock. It only took a few quick movements before Butcher came all over his stomach, moaning Hughie’s name as he finished. At that point, Hughie was done for. He managed a few more thrusts before he came inside Butcher, pleasure coursing through every fiber of his being.

Hughie slid himself out of Butcher and collapsed beside him, ignoring the stickiness as he cuddled up to Butcher’s chest. They stayed there for a while, drinking in each other’s presence.

“Fucking hell Hughie,” Butcher chuckled, breaking the silence. “I just fucking took a shower, now it looks like I need another one.”

Hughie laughed, his first real laugh in what had felt like ages. Butcher slid out of bed, taking Hughie’s hand and pulling him to his feet. As they stumbled their way to the bathroom, Hughie placed his hand in Butcher’s.

No words were exchanged, but Butcher smiled as he pulled Hughie in close, praying to a god he didn’t believe in that they could stay like this forever.