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Marrying a Mob

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Intro: waking up not alone.

Charles has been shot. This is almost the only thing he knows. Questions pound into him about almost everything else. Where is he? Who is with him?

Are the children safe?

The thought stays with Charles in his heavy, drugged sleep as he heals, tugging him relentlessly towards waking. He’s a teacher; the children are his responsibility. He has to know.

Are the children safe?

He fights against the drugs and his injuries, trying to open blurry eyes and force words from his uncooperative tongue. Machines bleep and make noises, and the needles sting. He tries to talk.

“Whuh—where-?”

“Don’t worry, sir. Go to sleep,” someone professionally kind says, and everything blurs and slips away, leaving Charles alone with his question.

Are the children safe?

Finally, finally, days or hours or years after he began to wake up, Charles manages to wake up enough.

“Are-are th’y s’fe?” he mumbles into his pillow, eyes shut. He’s not really expecting an answer; he’s just trying to persuade the question to leave him the hell alone. Doesn’t it know he was shot?

“Wanda and Pietro are fine, thanks to you, professor,” a soft, accented voice tells him. Charles manages to force one eye open. The light is dim. It must be late. He doesn’t recognise the bulky form perched next to his bed.

“Safe?” Charles presses his point.

“Yes.” The voice is patient. “The children are safe.”

“Don’ know you,” Charles tells the voice, through the vast wave of relief flooding through him. It lifts him further towards wakefulness, where the pain has obviously been waiting for him. Why won’t his other eye open? He reaches towards it, but his hands are strangely uncooperative.

“No?” A dry chuckle. “My boss said to watch you, Professor.”

“Uh?” He reaches for his eye again. A warm hand catches at his wrist.

“Don’t do that, Professor. Let it heal.” His hand is tucked back under the bedclothes.

“The children,” Charles insists. He needs to be certain. “They—there were guns.”

“I told you,” the voice says, still patient in the dim night. “My boss’s children are fine. Thanks to you. You, you are not so fine. But I think you know that.”

“Wanda was crying.” Charles remembers, vaguely. “But they didn’t shoot her,” he adds, pleased. “Or Pietro.”

“They couldn’t find them. Only you.” The voice sounds dryly amused at who-knows-what.

“Doesn’t hurt much,” Charles tells the voice. It’s almost true. His leg—his knee—is sending out insistent signals that something is very wrong, but it doesn’t seem to matter terribly. The children are safe.

“Given the amount of drugs they've pumped into you, it should not be hurting at all,” the voice replies, and it doesn’t sound very happy.

Oh dear. Now he’s annoyed it.

“Sorry.” Charles’s used to apologising to angry people, why can’t he think of more or better words? “Sorry,” he adds, just in case repetition will help.

“Sss, not your problem.” A bell rings. The chair by his bed squeaks and groans. Alarmed, Charles tries to reach out, and fails.

“Wait—” he says, and bites his lip. He’s not supposed to ask, not strangers—

“Don’t tug on your intravenous lines.” His arm is, once more, tucked back under the covers. “Bad as Erik, I swear.” That last part is muttered, and Charles isn’t sure if he’s supposed to reply or not—who is Erik?—so he says nothing, and is not left alone.

“Is there a problem?” Light, dazzling and hurtful, spears Charles’s open eye, and he rolls his head away with a protesting whimper. Too much. He squeezes his eye shut.

“He’s awake. He’s in pain,” the voice says curtly to the new voice. “Fix it.”

“I’m sorry, sir, but—” New voice is bland and smooth, but it’s not a nice voice. Not like Charles’s Voice. It’s impatient and it doesn’t want to be bothered.

“Fix. It.” Charles’s Voice puts steel in the tone. “He was protecting two children; he should not suffer for that.”

“Teacher,” Charles reminds them. “My job.”

Someone—his Voice, maybe?—takes his hand, and holds it.

There’s more conversation, but he’s too busy to follow or understand it. He’s not quite sure what happens next, but a rising tide of soft darkness washes him away from his pain, from his answered question, from his Voice.

Are the children safe?

Yes, Charles thinks, he told me so. He slides into sleep contented.