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The night certainly didn’t turn out the way Magnus had intended

It was a simple job. For God sakes, the plan was to kill the target in his sleep. Very quick, very clean, very easy; the man lived alone, no pets, no interference. Magnus had cased the house for days in advance, taking note of the man’s schedule, when he came and went, when he slept and when he awoke. There was a plan, a simple plan, and Magnus had followed it. But no matter how careful someone is, something can always go wrong.

Something did go wrong.

Magnus hadn’t anticipated the target rousing from his slumber for a glass of water. It was such a small thing, something so human and common, but it wasn’t something he was prepared for. Mr. Deaton had already shuffled downstairs and to the kitchen by the time Magnus slipped through the back door and disarmed the alarm. The only thing that preceded Mr. Deaton’s presence was the out-of-place creaking of the floorboards. Magnus had whirled just in time to dodge an alarmingly swift jab with a knife.

They brawled.

Another thing that Magnus hadn’t anticipated was Mr. Deaton’s sheer fighting skill. There had been nothing on record to suggest such a talent; no military or law enforcement background, no participation in self-defence classes or martial arts competitions. He was agile, quick, and smart, and it only took a few tries before his knife, something obviously belonging in a kitchen, was planted in his side. Everything froze, and for a moment he didn’t feel anything. Then the knife was pulled back, and he felt the warm stickiness of blood. Still no pain, but he figured that was due to the adrenaline.

He ignored his injury in favor of getting the job done. At this point, he couldn’t simply flee, not after the target had seen his face. Eventually, somehow, he managed to get the upper hand. The second he got a chance, he snapped Mr. Deaton’s neck—quick, clean, easy.

Except it wasn’t clean. There was blood all over the floor, on his hands and the walls and Mr. Deaton, on the knife that was knocked aside, and none of it was the target’s. The job wasn’t supposed to be messy, he hadn’t prepared for messy. And, gradually, as the rush of the fight was wearing off, he could feel the pain his injury was bringing on. It throbbed and burned hot, and he pressed a hand over it in an attempt to make it stop. Blood welled and seeped between his fingers, and he groaned quietly.

With shaking hands, he placed a call to the cleaning crew (“You’d better clean it well, damn well, because if I get collared for this, you’re the assholes I’m gonna kill next.”) and booked it home.

That was where he was now, trying to unlock the front door of his loft as quietly as possible. Easier said than done when his side was on fire and his entire body was trembling. He managed, though, quietly enough that he was confident that he didn’t wake Isabelle up. He let the door click shut behind him as he stumbled forward, using the wall and various pieces of furniture for support. All he needed to do was get to the bathroom and get cleaned up, but apparently the unforeseen circumstances weren’t finished appearing.

Isabelle was awake. It was rare for her to be anything besides sprawled in bed at three in the morning, but she was up, curled up in an armchair with a book. He was almost mad at her for it. Why did everybody have to choose this particular night to break pattern? Luck was not on his side. Luck was on the opposite of his side. Luck jumped two fucking planets over and buried itself in a hole.

A floorboard creaked under his weight. He almost screamed in frustration. Isabelle shifted in her chair, only half-turning towards him, only giving him half her attention. “Welcome home,” she said warmly, and he almost felt bad about being almost mad at her. He didn’t respond right away, and maybe that was what clued her in. His responses to her were always immediate, always filled with copious amounts of words—she made him talkative. She glanced over her shoulder, brow creasing slightly. Her eyes landed on him, on the rumpled clothing and the blood, and widened.

“Oh my God-” She got to her feet, and before he had time to remember the last time he heard her even come close to swearing, she was in front of him, hands fluttering uselessly around his stomach and chest. “What happened? Are you okay? Of course you’re not okay, you’re bleeding. What-”

He cut her off. His voice was quiet, but she shut up immediately. “Isabelle. I need you to go away and let me get cleaned up, and I need you to never mention this again.” After a second, he tacked on a ‘please’ for good measure.

“No way.” Her arm looped around his waist, causing the pain to flare up. He hissed softly, but she ignored it. “You need help, Magnus,” she said, and began leading him to the bathroom. Arguing was pointless; she was stubborn and she wasn’t going to take no for an answer.

So he let her sit him down on the edge of the bathtub, let her peel away his jacket and unbutton his shirt. She tossed the ruined articles of clothing away and he looked at them mournfully. Her long fingers probed at his side. He gritted his teeth, tilting his face up to the ceiling. The cracks spiderwebbing in the plaster distracted him somewhat. He picked out the patterns and shapes that appeared in them, much like he did with the clouds when he was a child.

Isabelle blew her hair out of her face, lip catching between her teeth. “It’s not deep,” she informed eventually. “Technically, you should probably go to the hospital and get stitches.”

He scoffed, and it hurt.

“But I guess you’ll have to make due with a million butterfly bandaids and some bandages.” She retrieved the proper supplies from the cabinet, along with a washcloth and warm water, and got to work. Her hands were soft as she cleaned away the mess, and before long the cloth was stained pink. For a while, neither of them spoke. They both concentrated on their tasks, cleaning up and trying not to grimace. Then Isabelle huffed, sharp and irritated, and sat back on her heels to look up at him. “What the hell happened?”

He didn’t meet her gaze. There was a giraffe pattern on the ceiling and he focused on that instead. “Nothing.”

The next thing he knew, she was grabbing him by the chin and digging her manicured nails into his cheeks. She angled his head downwards, forcing him to look her in the eyes. “You don’t get to come home at three in the morning bleeding all over the floor and tell me nothing happened. Something happened, and you’re gonna tell me what.”

Oh, he did bleed all over the floor, didn’t he? What a shame. That wood was expensive. He wrapped his fingers around her wrist, leaving smears of blood on pale skin. Neither of them seemed to notice or care. “That’s not how this works and you know it,” he said lowly. “I don’t ask questions about your work and you don’t ask questions about mine. That’s the only way this relationship can work. So either stop asking questions and finish patching me up or leave and let me do it myself.”

She stared at him, eyes angry and jaw locked. He was right, though. He knew she knew he was right. Their relationship started and was built on a mutual understanding that both of them made a living off of illegal activities, and they were never to ask questions or discuss it. If they knew what the other did, then they could be forced to testify against each other. Or commit perjury. Neither option was a nice one. It was a wall that was put in place to protect themselves and each other. They hadn’t knocked it down yet, and Magnus wasn’t about to let them start.

After a moment, she pulled her hand back from him. He thought she was going to leave, but she didn’t. She leaned forward and started to apply the handful of butterfly bandages she’d grabbed from the cabinet. It was the next best thing after breaking out a needle and thread or going to the hospital. Her touch was no less soft than it was before. She was still being gentle with him, even if he didn’t necessarily deserve it. She finished patching him up, wrapped him in obscene amounts of gauze (that he objected to) and bandages (that he complained were itchy) before helping him off to bed.

It was hard not to whine and grumble pathetically at the pain, but he managed. She got him out of his jeans (which would’ve been fantastic under normal circumstances, but this time it just sort of hurt) and settled him in bed, pulling the blankets over him. Sudden exhaustion hit him like a brick wall, and his eyes fluttered shut quickly. Her hair brushed his chest as she leaned over him, and he felt her lips press against his forehead.

“Don’t you ever come home all bloody like that again, okay?” Her words were soft, her touch softer as she brushed his hair from his face. Maybe she thought he was already asleep, or maybe she actually wanted him to hear her. “You scared the hell out of me.” There was a pause, a moment of silence as her fingers brushed across his face. “I love you, Magnus.”

He murmured a sleepy response at her. It was supposed to be ‘me too,’ but he wasn’t sure it came out that way. He was already out.


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March 2016

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