He doesn’t remember much beyond the sheer, deafening noise.
Like fireworks on the fourth of July but turned all the way up to eleven, except that instead of brightly coloured sparks in the sky the only things exploding were steel and glass and plastic. And then there was a brief lull in the noise, barely longer than a heartbeat, and the new guy in the car with them — just a boy, really, the son of one Viggo’s oldest lieutenants — unwisely lifted his head, and Avi’s face was splattered with the results of another kind of explosion altogether. One that was red and wet and dripping, spiked with shards of bone and soft clumps of god knows what and Avi could do nothing but stare blankly as what was left of the kid slowly toppled sideways.
Things happened fast after that. Viggo was screaming blue murder in unintelligible Russian, shoving Avi to the floor of the car and pinning him there with his entire body weight. He had a gun in his hands and rage in his eyes, and although the weapon was held steady Avi could feel the tremors wherever Viggo's body was pressed against him — Viggo’s knees bracketing his hips, Viggo’s thighs against his legs. And occasionally, when he could afford to take one hand off the gun, Viggo’s fingers brushed over his chest or the side of his neck, as though searching for a heartbeat to confirm that Avi was still there, still alive and whole and not riddled with bullets or bleeding out into the carpet.
When the noise finally died down the car door was yanked open and Avi held his breath, waiting for the inevitable. But it was only Kirill, and he took one look at the scene inside the car — the kid’s dead body in the front seat and Viggo crouched in the back, armed and half on top of Avi; Avi still pressed into the floor and the floor littered with spent bullet casings — and his normally inscrutable face went tight with something Avi couldn’t even guess at. Anger, maybe, or relief. In any case, he and Viggo had a tense conversation, entirely in Russian, and for once Avi had the sense not to ask Viggo to translate. He heard his name come out of Viggo’s mouth a couple times, and both times Kirill had glanced at him with a look so heavy with things unspoken that Avi found he couldn’t say anything at all.
And now he’s in another car, a new one that doesn't have a blown out windscreen or bullet holes in the doors, or terrible dark stains seeping into the upholstery. He’s cleaned up and driving and Viggo’s in the back, silent and brooding as he stares out the window, oncoming traffic alternately painting his face in strips of light and shadow.
Avi pulls into Viggo’s private garage and parks the car, but Viggo makes no move to get out. He just sits there, so deep in thought that he doesn’t seem to realise the car’s stopped moving.
“Viggo?” Avi says. He grimaces a little at how uncertain he sounds. The shootout had shaken him, sure — hell, it had apparently shaken Viggo and even Kirill, too — but it hadn’t been his first rodeo. He’s been in situations like that before; there’s no reason to get so hung up on this one.
Except this time, his mind traitorously supplies, Viggo had been with him. This time, Viggo had saved his life.
Get a fucking grip, he tells himself. Viggo was the only one with a gun; of course he’d shoved Avi out of the way. It didn’t mean anything. None of this means anything.
A few months’ worth of quick dirty fucks, against a wall or bent over a desk, spur-of-the-moment blowjobs in the back seats of cars, the odd handjob here and there — Avi never let himself think of it as anything more than letting off a little steam. Releasing some pent-up tension, that’s all it was, just a convenient way to get something out of their systems. Except what should have been a one-off became something occasional, and what should have stayed occasional became something regular, and now —
Now, Avi has no fucking idea what’s going on.
“Viggo?” he repeats. “We’re here.”
“Hmm?” Viggo finally looks up. Their eyes meet in the rearview mirror and Viggo seems to freeze, as though caught unprepared. “Ah,” he says quickly. “Yes.” He reaches for the door and is already out of the car when he adds, “Let’s go upstairs.”
And then he’s gone, heading for the elevator without waiting to see if Avi will follow him.
Avi gives him five minutes before heading upstairs himself.
He’s barely shut the door behind him when Viggo is suddenly there, right up in his personal space, hands running over his arms and shoulders and down over his chest. Viggo has his shirt half-unbuttoned before Avi can even get it together enough to speak.
“Viggo, what —”
He falls silent when Viggo glances up and looks him right in the eye. There’s a seriousness there that’s new, some deeply buried thing dragged up to the surface that Avi suspects Viggo doesn’t really want him to see. But there it is, and Avi says nothing more when Viggo looks away again and resumes unbuttoning his shirt, or when he pushes it off altogether.
For a long moment, Viggo just stares at his exposed chest, like he’s trying to see past the skin and bones and into the beating heart that lies beneath them. Then he runs his palms over Avi’s torso again — across the planes of his chest and the curves of his shoulders; down his arms and stomach and across his bare, pale waist. And it’s not until Viggo’s pulled his slacks off too and he’s in nothing but his underwear that Avi finally understands what Viggo is actually doing, why he seems so intent on brushing his fingertips over every inch of Avi’s bare skin — he’s checking for injuries, looking for even the smallest scratch or scrape.
“Viggo,” Avi tries again, his voice a little rougher than it was before. But Viggo doesn’t seem to be listening, entirely focused on the task he’s set for himself. “Viggo,” Avi repeats. He hesitates, then throws caution to the wind and grabs Viggo by the wrists. “Hey. I’m fine.”
Viggo finally stills. Their eyes meet again and Avi finds himself unable to look away, unsure if the things he can see in Viggo’s eyes are really there or if they’re just reflections of what Viggo might be seeing in his. Either way, he knows they’re encroaching on dangerous territory, breaching borders that are firmly set and clearly defined despite never once discussing the details out loud. Or at least, they used to be. They should be. Were supposed to be.
And then Viggo is stepping closer, and his hands curl around Avi’s hips, and he keeps coming closer until he's crowded Avi back against the door again. There's only the smallest of spaces left between them now — nothing but a couple of layers of fabric and an inch of empty air still keeping them apart. Viggo's hands travel up until they’re cupping Avi’s face, and he stops there, suddenly, going absolutely still. He stares at Avi for a long, long time.
“You’re fine,” he says, repeating Avi's own words. His voice is quiet, with the tiniest upwards inflection at the very end. Avi isn’t sure if it’s a question or not, but he answers all the same.
“Yeah, I am.” He pauses, then adds, “Thanks to you.”
Something changes in Viggo’s eyes then, some deep internal shift, and even though Avi sees him leaning in it still takes him by surprise when Viggo’s lips brush against his. That’s all it is, at first — barely any contact, just an impression of warm breath and warmer skin. But then Viggo leans in again, and the kiss becomes firmer, and their mouths open wider, and then Avi finds it difficult to keep thinking about anything other than Viggo’s tongue in his mouth, Viggo’s hands sliding into his hair and holding his head in place as though he isn’t sure that Avi would stay there otherwise. Which is patently ridiculous, Avi thinks vaguely, as his own hands settle around Viggo’s waist, pulling him closer, closer, as close as he possibly can. He’s not going anywhere — why would he, when he’s exactly where he wants to be?
They’ve kissed before but it’s not something they do a lot, and they’ve never done it like this — slow and careful, taking their time; exploring and tasting instead of something hard and rushed and frantic. It feels simultaneously fragile and unbearably intense, a slow but inexorable build towards something Avi knows there’s no going back from. But soon enough it starts to become too much — Viggo’s mouth and hands and tongue are too much, Viggo’s everything always becomes too much — and when Avi feels Viggo’s shaking hands fisting in his hair he can't stop the moan from escaping, right into Viggo’s open mouth. Then Viggo shifts against him and their hips line up, and Avi feels just how far gone Viggo is already — how far gone they both are.
He tries to get his own hands under Viggo’s shirt, desperate to make contact with bare, smooth skin, but as soon as he starts fumbling with the buttons Viggo suddenly breaks the kiss, panting into the side of his neck for a moment before lifting his head.
Viggo takes a deep breath and lets it out slowly, blue eyes never once leaving Avi’s face.
“Follow me,” he says, against Avi’s mouth, still only inches away. This, too, almost sounds like a question, but before Avi can answer Viggo is already stepping back and making his way deeper into the house.
Avi takes a few seconds to steady himself before doing exactly as Viggo had asked. Or ordered. Or suggested. Right now, the exact definition seems moot.
Whatever Viggo intended, there was never any doubt — Avi was always going to go after him.
Viggo’s bedroom is dark, but there’s enough of the city lights bleeding in through the windows that Avi can just make out Viggo’s face. His hands are at his shirt, starting to twist buttons free, but Avi steps forward and carefully pushes them out of the way.
“Let me,” he says. And Viggo does, standing still, watching in silence as Avi slowly undresses him.
And then they’re naked, both of them, naked and hard and in the half-light Avi does something he’s wanted to do for months, something he’s fantasised about and jerked off to and come, repeatedly, from just the thought of. He traces over the tattoos on Viggo’s chest with his fingertips, and then with his lips, and then, finally, with his tongue. He’s never seen them bared like this before and he doesn’t know what they all mean, but he does know that they’re private things, important things, marks of honour and achievement and rank, and the fact that Viggo is allowing him to see them, let alone touch them like this —
It means something, and regardless of what they've said or not said out loud, it’s as clear an indication as Avi’s ever gotten that this thing between them — whatever it is — might mean something too.
Viggo’s hands are in his hair again as Avi slowly sinks to his knees, still kissing every line of ink he can find like he’s trying to overlay them with invisible marks of his own. This feels different, too. Blowjobs in cars or bathrooms or Viggo’s office on days when things were a little slow — all of that was familiar, all of that was safe. This, though? Kneeling in Viggo’s bedroom, both of them completely naked, both of them strangely hesitant about something that they’ve technically done dozens of times before — this is something else altogether. Something not familiar at all, and something that’s definitely not safe.
But just when Avi’s leaning forward, his hands on Viggo’s hips, Viggo silently stops him, reaching out and cupping his jaw with one unsteady hand. He stares down at Avi, most of his face hidden in shadow, before he glances at the bed. When he looks back again there’s — not quite a question in his eyes, not exactly, but there's a certain weight to his gaze that makes Avi take a deep, deep breath.
Avi lies down first, and Viggo hovers over him for a moment before slowly lowering himself down. The first contact of all that skin on utterly bare, warm skin makes both of them gasp, and it’s not like Avi’s never done this before with other people but for some reason, right now, with Viggo, after coming so close to losing not just his own life, but Viggo’s too — it feels like something entirely new. They spend long minutes just getting used to it, to each other, their bodies moving in a slow teasing slide, building up a rhythm that’s at once too much and not enough, not nearly enough. Viggo drops kisses over Avi’s throat and chest, the scrape of his stubble another awful tease, and Avi is distantly aware that Viggo’s murmuring something into his skin, the tight vowels and sibilant syllables so familiar but still incomprehensible to him — even now, even after years and years of service.
A new slickness forms between them and it makes the slide of their bodies so good that Avi has to bite his lip. Everything about this is so unlike anything else they’ve done together — the expanse of bare skin beneath his palms, the salt of sweat on his tongue, the warm puffs of air breathed out against his chest and the weight of Viggo’s body pressing him down into the bed —
“Oh, fuck, Viggo,” Avi moans, unable to hold it back any longer. Viggo makes a small noise at the sound of his voice and rubs against him with renewed urgency, and this is new too, the feeling of Viggo on top of him like this, Viggo's hips moving against him like this. It’s new in a way that makes Avi clutch reflexively at Viggo’s shoulders, makes him dig his nails into Viggo’s back; it makes him spread his legs and wordlessly invite Viggo to do something else they’ve never done before — not quite, not like this.
And Viggo — Viggo knows exactly what he’s offering, because he lifts his head and looks down at Avi with an almost alarmingly serious expression on his face. And then something shifts in his eyes again, and they go impossibly dark and hot with understanding, and he pushes up off the bed with one arm and reaches between their bodies with the other.
He preps Avi slowly — very slowly, far more slowly that he ever has before. It’s so slow, in fact, that Avi loses track of time altogether, only able to recognise its passing through the increasingly rapid beat of his heart; through the harshness of his panting breaths. One finger becomes two becomes three, and Viggo is as relentless with this as he is with everything else, drawing it out until Avi is shaking against the sheets, his inability to do anything more articulate than moan and gasp and whimper the only thing that’s stopping him from outright begging.
When Viggo finally pushes into him, he does it in one long, slow thrust, and he does it with his eyes open. And that’s how it goes, for however long it goes for — Viggo looking him in the eye as he pushes in again and again, as Avi’s legs hook around his hips and encourage him to go deeper, faster, harder; silently asking for more, please, more. Viggo is equally silent but gives Avi what he wants, fucking him exactly how he needs to be fucked — alternately slow and fast, and careful and rough; Viggo’s lips and tongue and teeth marking his skin with bites and bruises. And then Viggo leans down and kisses him — something else they’ve never done, not while they were doing this — and Avi starts to think that maybe Viggo isn’t just giving him what he needs, but that maybe — maybe Viggo is giving him something that Viggo needed to give away.
Orgasm hits Avi without warning, reaching his breaking point with such sudden force that he actually cries out. The sound makes Viggo kiss him harder, fuck him deeper, and he comes suddenly too, still buried inside Avi and still trailing breathless kisses over Avi’s mouth and throat and chest. Avi reaches up and cards his fingers through Viggo’s hair — one more thing he’s never done before — and is faintly surprised, even now, that he’s allowed to do it.
Viggo lifts his head.
The expression on his face is unreadable and Avi swallows before pulling his hand away, letting it fall back against the bed. But Viggo catches his wrist, fingers wrapping around his forearm, and Avi can hardly process what’s happening when Viggo bends his head and presses a kiss into the palm of his hand.
He thinks he should probably say something but his mind is a total blank. He can almost still feel the rough scrape of Viggo’s stubble against his palm, like an echo of sensation, and words still refuse to come when Viggo gets up and goes to the bathroom, or when he comes back with a damp washcloth and cleans up the mess. Viggo’s touch is as careful and thorough now as it was when they’d first arrived, when he was still looking for wounds that Viggo himself had spared Avi from suffering. Because that, really, is the crux of it all —
Avi would be dead now if Viggo hadn’t risked his life to protect him.
“Viggo,” Avi starts, without really knowing what he’s going to say. Should he leave? Stay? Offer some inadequate thank you? “I —”
But Viggo gets up and disappears into the bathroom again, and he’s gone for what seems like a long, long time. Avi closes his eyes. He should leave. He knows he should leave. This isn’t what they do, this isn’t what they are. The night was fuelled by adrenaline, just a post-survival high, and fucking in a bed and fucking face-to-face is still just fucking.
Avi’s about to get up when Viggo comes back again. He barely glances over, just climbs back into bed like it’s the most normal thing in the world, like they’ve done this a hundred times over and the air isn’t thick with Avi’s uncertainty and all the things they’ve never said. But when he lays down, he lays down close enough to touch, and when he pulls the sheets up, he pulls them up over both their bodies.
Viggo turns around and lays on his side, his back to Avi and his face unseen. Impulsively, Avi reaches out and runs his fingers through Viggo’s hair again — just briefly, just a sweep across the back of Viggo’s head. His hand ends up against the nape of Viggo's neck, fingertips just brushing his skin. Viggo makes no attempt to move away.
Avi lays down next to him, and leaves his hand where it is.
He wakes up alone. No surprise there, really, but he'd be lying if he said it didn't sting a little.
Avi stares at the ceiling. This isn’t what they do. This isn’t what they are. He should have left. He should leave now. Falling asleep in the same bed was just a matter of practicality, that’s all. Viggo’s not an asshole — or at least, not all the time, and not usually to him. It had been late, and they were both tired, from the near-death thing as well as the sex thing; letting Avi stay the night had just been the polite thing to do.
Noises filter in from somewhere outside, interrupting Avi’s thoughts. The clink of cutlery and china punctuate more distant sounds of the city twenty-something floors below as Avi glances around, looking for the source of the noise.
The doors to the terrace are slightly ajar, gauzy curtains billowing a little in the morning breeze, and Avi freezes for a second, staring. He knows what that means. If Viggo had wanted him gone, those doors would be locked up tight and there’d only be one path for him to take — out the other door, the one that leads down the hallway and out of the apartment altogether.
But they're not locked. They're open, just a little. Just enough for Avi to hear Viggo moving around outside, enough for Avi to recognise it for what it is: an invitation.
"What the fuck am I doing," he mutters to himself, even as he stretches a little and rolls out of bed. Viggo's bed, his mind interjects, as though he could somehow forget. Viggo's bed in Viggo's bedroom in Viggo's house. Where he'd just spent the night. With Viggo.
Calm the fuck down, he tells himself. Get dressed. Go outside. He's a lawyer, for god's sake. He knows how to think on his feet. All he needs to do is wait for Viggo to give him a sign and then he can play it by ear. No sweat.
He pulls his clothes on as quickly as he can. He's known for a while now Viggo won’t have him shot just for liking dick, but he still isn't the kind of man you keep waiting. God knows how long he's been out there already.
"Kirill will be joining us shortly," Viggo says without preamble, as soon as Avi steps out onto the terrace. He takes a drag from his cigarette. "We need to discuss what we're going to do about Popov. We cannot let what happened go unpunished."
"Sure," Avi says, casual and easy. So that's how Viggo wants to play it, then. Back to business, nothing weird, nothing different. No problem, Avi thinks. None at all.
But Viggo glances up then, suddenly, and his eyes land on Avi's throat, and it takes a little while but eventually, the look on Viggo’s face tells him what the problem is. The edge of a bruise that his shirt collar can’t quite hide, not completely, a bruise that Viggo had sucked into his skin just a few short hours ago. A bruise that was one of many. Avi feels heat flood his face and when Viggo's gaze flicks up, he sees that Viggo's eyes have gone dark with the exact same thoughts.
Fuck, he looks good in the morning, Avi thinks blankly, staring as Viggo rolls his cigrarette between forefinger and thumb. Sunlight skims over his hands and catches the side of his face and his skin would be warm, Avi thinks, licking his lips, sun-warm and tobacco-sweet and his fingers would feel —
Wordlessly, Viggo holds out his cigarette. Avi hesitates, but Viggo says nothing, just keeps staring at him with his arm outstretched and offering.
A cigarette, Avi tells himself firmly. It's just a fucking cigarette.
He takes it from Viggo's fingers, careful not to make contact with Viggo's skin. One puff, then another, and Avi closes his eyes, letting the burn in his lungs calm him down. But then he opens his eyes again and Viggo is still staring, and when he hands the cigarette back Viggo's fingers very deliberately brush against his. And then whatever calm the nicotine hit had given him promptly disappears, just fades away to nothing like the smoke he breathes out into the air between them.
"Coffee?" Viggo offers.
"Sure," Avi says again. His voice is surprisingly steady but Viggo's eyes narrow a little.
"Sit," Viggo adds. He gestures to the seat across from him and takes one last drag before stubbing the cigarette out in an ashtray.
Coffee and cigarettes, Avi thinks. It's so fucking normal that it should be fucking weird but… it's not. Not really. He takes a seat, and they drink and smoke and eat, and it's almost like nothing's changed at all.
Until Kirill arrives, about a cigarette and a half later, and Viggo doesn't ask him to sit down and doesn’t offer him a goddamn thing. And it's only then, when he’s sipping his second cup of coffee and on his third piece of toast, that Avi finally realises — the table had been set for two, and only two, all along.