lysapadin: pen & ink painting of bamboo against a full moon (Default)
[personal profile] lysapadin
Title: Should I Fall Behind
Characters/Pairings: Xanxus/Squalo
Summary: Squalo ends up taking a bullet for Xanxus. It doesn't work out quite like either of them expects it to.
Notes: Over on Tumblr, insanescriptist request Squalo and Xanxus from the Sugar & Spice 'verse. This apparently gave my id permission to write the aftermath of the fem!Xanxus version of the whole TYL Byakuran mess with the special bullets and all that fun stuff. Explicit for smut, genderswitch, Beware of Feels. 3944 words.

~~~~~~~~~~


Should I Fall Behind

Squalo doesn't mean to break his promise to Xanxus, but he does it anyway and it happens like this: The meeting with the fucking Caraceni turns out to be a set-up, one with the sole purpose of getting the Vongola Tenth out in the open where the fucking Millefiore can get a shot at her.

He doesn't even think about it; it happens somewhere below the level of conscious thought. Squalo sees something, motion in the corner of his eye maybe or the glint of light off a gun's barrel, and he moves before he even knows he's doing it. He tackles Xanxus bodily, crashing into her and splaying his hand across the back of her head as he twists his body to put himself between her and the threat, whatever, whoever, it is. He hears shouts, the startled curse she utters, and one other thing—the chatter of semi-automatic gunfire.

The impact feels like being punched, sends him staggering into Xanxus, bearing her to the ground. Squalo has just enough time to see her eyes start to go wide, hear his name on her lips, and realize how much this is going to absolutely suck.

Then everything goes black.

*

He's surprised as hell to wake up after that.

Hearing comes back first, a low mutter of voices filtering into his ears, meaningless like the roll of surf against the shore. Scent comes along with it, the too-familiar sterile odor of an infirmary, followed on by the sense of aching muscles, stiff with inactivity. Sight comes last, the blurring and tearing of his eyes when he pries them open and squints at the fluorescent lights overhead.

Lussuria looms into view. As Squalo's thoughts begin to lurch back into gear, it occurs to him that this is really not the first thing anyone gravely injured in the line of duty deserves to see upon waking. "You back with us?"

"Where's the boss?" Squalo's mouth is dry and foul and the question comes out like a croak.

Lussuria snorts but looks pleased. "He's back."

"Fuck you," Squalo says, exerting himself to sit up. His muscles creak and his joints pop as he moves, but there's considerably less pain than there ought to be when the last thing he remembers is getting shot. "Where's Xanxus?"

Lussuria gets an arm under his shoulders and helps him sit up because he's an asshole like that. Distressingly, Fedele is right there and shoves a Styrofoam cup of water into his hand the second he's sitting up. "She's busy," he says. "Just in the middle of something."

Squalo eyes him, but Fedele knows damn well not to mess with him on the important things. He takes a drink of water—it tastes like heaven—and does his best to glare at them both impartially. "I got shot," he says, flat, once Fedele begins to crack and look nervous. "Why don't I feel like I've been shot?"

He really doesn't like the way they exchange glances then. Lussuria is the one who clears his throat and takes the plunge. "So this is gonna be a long story…"

Long story isn't even the half of it. Squalo listens in mounting disbelief as the two of them try to explain special bullets and suspended animation and time travel and parallel universes and rings and pacifiers and crazy motherfucking Irie Shouichi's crackpot ideas about the only person able to actually defeat motherfucking Byakuran and Millefiore being Sawada Tsunayoshi. Only Irie hadn't counted on Squalo being willing to put himself in front of a bullet for Xanxus, which just went to show that they weren't making geniuses like they used to, and so instead of Xanxus ending up in suspended animation (what the fuck) it had been Squalo.

And that, he gathers, was when things got a little out of hand.

"So Millefiore isn't really a problem any more," Lussuria says.

"Because they're a smoking crater in the ground," Fedele adds, not without satisfaction. He's come a long damn way, Fedele has. "Turns out the Tenth was able to take care of Byakuran just fine on her own, and Sawada could've just stayed home."

Squalo rolls his eyes; this shouldn't have surprised anyone. And the two of them are stalling, he can tell. "Great, couldn't've happened to a nicer set of people. Now where the fuck is Xanxus?"

The two of them exchange looks again. "Well," Fedele says. Then he stops.

"She thought you'd gone and died on her," Lussuria says, blunt. "She thought you'd gotten yourself killed saving her life, and Irie didn't crawl out from under his rock until after it was all over and the coast was clear. The boss… hasn't been doing so good since she finished turning Byakuran into a pile of greasy ashes."

Squalo stares at him. "She's not doing too good and you two morons have been sitting here telling me stories? Fuck's sake, what is wrong with you people?" He bats Lussuria's hands away and swings his legs over the side of the bed. "You can finish briefing me later. Where is she?"

"Your rooms," Fedele says. "She hasn't left them for days." He reaches out and steadies Squalo when he stands. "She thought you were dead… thinks it, actually. No one has been able to get through to her since she went in there. And we have tried."

Squalo swears, able to imagine this all too clearly. "Right," he says. "I'm going to kick Irie's ass for him later on."

"I'll hold your coat," Fedele says. "Come on, let's get you to the Tenth."

*

Someone has either been cautious or indulging a wicked sense of humor, because there are a few people who look at Squalo like they're seeing a ghost. No one screams or faints, but he catches four different people crossing themselves as he stalks through the Vongola house, making straight for his and Xanxus' rooms and not particularly concerned with anything beyond that.

Lussuria and Fedele are calm enough that the Family must be fairly stable at the moment; Sawada is probably earning his keep by keeping things running smoothly while Xanxus is otherwise occupied. And even if he isn't, Squalo doesn't much care. His loyalty has always been to Xanxus first and everything else a very distant second.

Levi is posted outside the door into their suite. He raises his eyebrows when he sees Squalo coming. "It's about damned time you showed up."

"Wasn't my idea, these guys have their priorities all fucked up."

Levi snorts at that, since that's the one thing the two of them have always been able to agree on. He jerks his chin at the door. "Hasn't been any change. It's still too damn quiet in there."

Squalo whistles through his teeth; quiet is never a good thing when she's upset. "Going to kick his ass," he mutters, brushing past Fedele, who can damn well stop hovering, there's nothing wrong with Squalo's legs now that he's worked the kinks out of his muscles.

He's setting his hand on the door when Levi says, "It's good you're back." He walks off without another word, but that's pretty damn touchy-feely for him.

Squalo snorts and waves Fedele and Lussuria off when it looks like they want to hover. "Go away, make sure Sawada isn't seizing the day for those reforms he keeps wanting to make or something."

"This place really hasn't been the same without your constant bitching," Lussuria says, grinning.

Squalo flips them both off and lets himself into his and Xanxus' rooms.

They're dark—that's the first thing he notices, and it's really not a good sign. The Vendicare made plenty sure that Xanxus would have lots of reasons to dislike the dark. The fact that the drapes are all drawn, cutting off the sunlight and rendering the rooms into a cave-like gloom, sets off warning bells inside Squalo's skull.

He proceeds through the outer set of rooms warily, nose wrinkled against the stale, still air. Everything is silent, empty as far as he can tell, and it's not until he reaches their private rooms that he begins to encounter signs of life. Since these mostly comprise a litter of empty bottles, Squalo is not particularly cheered to see them.

He finds Xanxus in their bedroom, curled up in one of the big wing-backed chairs and staring dully into space. Her eyes are red and her face haggard, and it looks like she hasn't move from that spot for hours.

"Jesus fucking Christ, Boss," Squalo breathes, because there's "not doing so good" and then there's this.

He goes to her, kicking an empty bottle in his haste and sending it rattling across the floor. She doesn't react to the sound at all, doesn't even blink, and Squalo swears again as he drops to his knees in front of the chair and reaches for her hands. "Jesus, Boss, Xanxus, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to leave you alone like this."

Her fingers lie in his, unresisting, and her stare looks right through him, focused on something only she can see.

Squalo gazes up at her, the slow, barely perceptible rise and fall of her chest and the sunken, gaunt lines of her face—"Jesus," he says, "oh, Xanxus." He presses his forehead against the backs of her fingers, cursing Irie and Byakuran and Millefiore and himself impartially until he runs out of both curses and ingenuity.

Xanxus doesn't seem to have taken any notice of this when he finally raises his head.

Squalo watches her, at a loss, and finally rises to his feet and lifts her out of the chair. (He doesn't like the fact that he can do this—neither that Xanxus permits it nor that she feels lighter in his arms than she should be, less substantial than he knows she really is.)

The lights in the bathroom are shockingly bright after the gloom, though Xanxus doesn't seem to notice any difference. Squalo hopes that it helps anyway. He draws a hot bath and strips out of the loose hospital scrubs he woke up in. After a moment's hesitation, he undresses Xanxus, too. She doesn't resist that, either, and passively allows herself to be settled into the steaming water.

"This is really starting to worry me," he tells her as he slips into the bath with her. She doesn't respond.

The hot water feels good on his aching muscles, and frankly they both need the bath at this point. He hopes that the heat and the physical contact will do something, get her attention or wake her up somehow, but if it is, it's happening on some level he can't discern. He keeps it up anyway, scrubbing them both clean and then just holding her against his chest until the water begins to cool.

She's still not responding to anything when he gets them out of the tub and towels them off, but she stands under her own power and allows herself to be led back into the bedroom and into the bed. He takes that as a good sign and wraps himself and the blankets around her, rubbing a hand up and down her back. For lack of any better idea, he starts talking. "So I hear you finally got enough of dealing with all of Millefiore's bullshit," he says, casual, just like the ordinary pillow talk they tend to share. He rubs his hand up and down the line of her spine. "Wish I could've seen the look on that asshole Byakuran's face when you showed up for him, I bet it was great. Fucker thought he was such hot shit, he was pretty much asking for it, right? Upstarts, fuck. Such a pain in the ass."

He switches to working his fingers through the damp strands of her hair. "And what about this fuckwit Irie, huh? I'm seriously going to have myself a conversation with that little asshole, because how in the fuck could he have honestly thought there was anything Sawada could do you couldn't do ten times better? And in high heels, if you felt like it." He huffs a short laugh at the thought. "What an idiot. Sawada just wishes he could be half as amazing as you are when he grows up. Shit, he wishes he could be half as amazing as I am when he grows up, and let me tell you, if that fucking bullshit special bullet had gotten you instead of me, I'd have burned the world down around Byakuran's ears and pissed on the ashes. Maybe I'd have let Sawada watch, show him how it's done." He snorts, diverted by the Sawada thing. "Sent Fedele over to keep an eye on him, by the way, because I know how you feel about it when Sawada goes all marshmallow on us. So things should be in decent shape once you feel like getting back to work."

He pauses there, hoping for some kind of response from Xanxus, but she's still and quiet in his arms. Squalo sighs against the top of her head and keeps talking, picking up the thread of the conversation they'd been having just before everything had gone to shit. "What'd you do about that Caraceni cock-up, anyway? Since they must have been in bed with the Millefiore, I mean. Hope you ripped 'em a new one, but if you didn't, maybe Lussuria will let me take out one of the squads. I mean, since I missed all the other fun…"

He rambles on and on, stroking her hair as it dries silky smooth beneath his fingers, moving from topic to topic as his fancy takes him. He talks until his throat is dry with it, until he runs out of things to say—"No one would believe it, probably," he says, wry, thinking of Lussuria's complaints about his so-called bitching. "But here we are." He winds her hair around his fingers as he falls silent—but maybe there's one other thing he can say. "Don't know where you are right now, Boss, but please, come back." He gathers her in close. "Not gonna ask you to do it for the Family, 'cause fuck that, we can pitch it in Sawada's lap and let him make all those changes he keeps harping about, I don't fucking care. Come back for me, will you? You don't have to go after me, I'm right here. I swear I didn't mean to go off and leave you. And I'll come after you now if I have to. I'm always going to follow you, you know that. Been yours since the first time I laid eyes on you, and there's not a damn thing in this world that's gonna change that. So please. Come back."

And if this doesn't work, he'll have to try something else. The hot bath didn't work, so maybe he'll call down to the kitchens for some ice and see whether an ice bath might shake her out of it.

Squalo is right on the verge of crawling out of bed to put his Plan B into motion when Xanxus stirs just a bit. He heaves a relieved sigh. "Boss?" he says, soft. "You there?"

She stirs again, and while he just about holds his breath with how hard he's hoping, she fumbles a hand around and flattens it against his shoulder.

Squalo sighs again and reaches up to cover her hand with his. "Xanxus," he says. "Boss, it's all right. I'm here."

An infinitesimal shudder shakes Xanxus; her voice is barely audible. "You're dead."

"No, I'm not. I'm right here." Squalo squeezes her hand. "Takes more than those Millefiore fuckers to keep me down."

She shudders again, almost convulsive. "Millefiore's dead, too."

"Yeah, I heard about that," Squalo tells her, pressing her closer. "But I'm not dead, Boss, I'm right here. Right where I belong, right?"

The sound she makes is low, an animal noise of hurt. "You promised you wouldn't leave me." She digs her fingers into his shoulder, hard enough that her nails are probably marking him. "You promised."

Squalo swallows hard. "I know," he says. "I know, Boss, and I'm sorry. It was you or me, and when it comes down to that, I'm always going to choose you." He turns his head and presses his lips against her fingers. "World wouldn't be worth living in without you, anyway."

Xanxus flinches back from that. "What makes you think I feel any different?" she says, her voice cracking on the words. "You son of a bitch, why would I feel any goddamn differently than that?"

Squalo draws a breath, aching with how much her anguish hurts him. "Fair enough," he says, tightening his arms around her. "I guess we'll both have to figure out how to stay alive for the other one."

Xanxus makes a ragged sound, raw and wordless, and balls her hand up into a fist that she thumps against his chest. "You're already fucking dead, you bastard."

Squalo draws a breath and catches her hand before she can hit him again. "No, Boss, I'm not, I'm just fine. It was one of those goddamn special bullets, it put me into suspended animation. Irie fucking Shouichi thought he was being clever, and I'm gonna take every last bit of it out of his hide for doing this to you. I promise you that." She doesn't react, so Squalo lets go of her hand and cups her cheek instead. "Come on, Xanxus, do you think I look like I'm dead? I'm pretty solid for a ghost, right?"

Xanxus only looks up reluctantly; her eyes are red-rimmed and wet. Irie motherfucking Shouichi doesn't know just how much hurt he's stored up for himself for that, but Squalo's going to enjoy enlightening him on that point. She stares at him, searching and full of doubts.

He rubs his thumb over her cheek. "I'm right here," he says again, soft. "I'm not going anywhere, I promise. I won't let anyone else do this to you ever again." He leans forward and presses his lips against her forehead.

Xanxus shivers and flattens her hand against his chest, slides it up and presses her fingers to his throat, right over the artery. "You're really here?" she says, her fingers resting over his pulse. Squalo hates himself for how uncertain she sounds.

"Yeah, Boss. I'm right here. Right where I belong."

She makes another of those hoarse sounds and presses against him, pushing against him until he finds himself flat on his back, Xanxus over him and staring down at him like she wants to devour him with her eyes. "Squalo," she rasps. She catches his face in her hands and holds it.

"Yeah, Boss. I'm right here." He curls his fingers around her wrist, gentle. "I'm not going anywhere, promise."

"You bastard," Xanxus says right before she stoops on him and kisses him savagely.

Squalo kisses back, opening up to her and answering her with everything he has, tangling his hand in her hair and sucking on her tongue when she sweeps it against his.

Xanxus growls against his mouth and catches his hand; she pins his wrists to the pillow over his head and kisses him again and again, like she can't stop herself and doesn't care to try.

Squalo groans against her mouth. There's nothing like the way it feels to be caged under her, held by her strength. "Boss," he breathes between one ruthless kiss and the next. "Xanxus, yes, I'm right here."

She raises her head, and it's been a long, long time since Xanxus last looked at him with that particular not-quite-sane glitter in her eyes. "Don't you dare leave me like that ever again," she growls, fingers tight enough around his wrists that he'll be wearing matching purple bracelets by the time she's done with him.

Maybe that shouldn't put a bolt of heat through him like it does, but Squalo doesn't care. "Never again, Boss, I promise." He raises his head to kiss her again.

Xanxus closer her teeth on his lip and holds him, the sharpness of it stinging, putting a twist of heat through him. Squalo groans, jerking his hips up against her weight. Xanxus growls again, and the feral harmonics of it make the heat coil even tighter, low in his belly. "You're mine," she says, eyes burning—no, that really is the Sky Flame lighting her eyes, a pale corona of it making a halo around her head. It hangs heavy in the air, oppressive as the air before a storm.

Squalo groans again, taut with wanting her. "Yes," he breathes, "oh yes, Boss, I'm all yours."

"Yes," she hisses, triumphant, and closes her Will on him, laying absolute claim to him. Squalo groans, full-throated and open, submitting to the implacable certainty of her Flame, throwing himself open to her and welcoming her in, exulting in the sheer brilliance of her.

Xanxus holds him pinned beneath the weight of her Flame; like this, he can feel all the things she won't, or maybe can't, say—can feel how deep he runs in her, just as deeply as she runs in him. He reaches back to her, stretching himself out in wordless apology and regret for the injury he dealt her, and feels her shake against him. "You're mine," she rasps against his mouth. "Mine."

"Yes," he tells her. "Always."

She hears that for the promise and the apology that it is and kisses him again, rocking her hips down against his. Squalo gasps against her mouth, lifting up to meet her, just as ravenous for her as she is for him. He gasps again when she shimmies her hips, sliding herself down around him, inferno hot around him. She takes him like that, fucking him with hard, short jerks of her hips. He drives his hips up against her, panting against her mouth with the sensation blazing up his spine, and feels the way she shudders, wringing tight on him as she comes the first time. She keeps moving against him, desperate and hard, kissing him with all her heart laid open for him. Squalo moves with her, just as overwhelmed with need as she is, and she comes again, and again, straining against him as she does, until she gasps his name against his mouth like a plea.

"Always," Squalo says again, shaking and almost mindless with how close he is to the edge.

Xanxus groans and comes apart again, arching over him, finally accepting his word.

Squalo bucks up against her, carried along with her as orgasm sears him down to his bones, shouting with the rush of it.

Xanxus collapses against him after, breathing hard and shaking, and shivers when he raises his hand and cards his fingers through the sweat-damp tangle of her hair. "God, Xanxus," he says.

She doesn't say anything at first, but eventually she says, "Don't you ever do that to me again."

"I won't," he tells her. "I promise."

She sighs then, a thread of tension he hadn't even realized she was still holding leaving her. "Good."

When she yawns almost immediately after that, it surprises them both. But then, Squalo thinks, God alone knows when the last time she slept might have been. He clears his throat. "Go to sleep, Boss. I'll still be here when you wake up."

"Promise," she says. It's not a command—it's not a command at all.

"I promise," Squalo says.

Her sigh gusts against his throat; she slips into unconsciousness almost immediately.

Squalo gathers her close, keeping watch, and is right there when she wakes up.

end

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