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Daniel slowed to a crawl, slid the car into the spot, and pulled the handbrake. He sat there for a few seconds, gazing out with the engine still idling and the headlights still flaring. His expression was one of deep fatigue, but the stalling wasn't for the thrill of it -- it was simply because they weren't the only occupants who used the buildings parking lot, and it never hurt to make sure they were actually alone.

Shit, but he was getting paranoid.

He turned the key hard, inviting in the darkness and silence; he ignored the way his fingers twitched, aching for a cigarette, because if nothing else he was a professional. His passenger at least had the decency to wait patiently as he went through this routine, not saying a word as he moved around to the back, gaze darting about restlessly. The light was better than in most lots, of course -- his majesty would expect no less -- but it was never quite good enough for Daniel. There were still too many shadows, too many darkened alcoves. He didn't like it, not on nights like these.

Tennant was still sitting quietly, if not a little amused, when he opened the car door. For all his complaints about the parking lot, Daniel couldn't deny there was plenty more light outside the car than in it, and the smug grin on his employers face was all too clear either way.

"You're too kind~" Tennant crowed, waving the offered hand away and climbing out under his own power, wincing only slightly. Most of the damage was hidden from Daniel's gaze by the jacket replaced during the ride, but there were still some splatters across his torso, and it did nothing to lessen the dark smudges across his chin. It was a remarkable show of common sense for someone who had got themselves into that position, to be aware they might not be alone inside the apartment and to try and avoid arousing suspicion -- but it wasn't really common sense, was it ? No, it was just determination not to get caught, not now when he was riding high on the satisfaction of victory, when being caught with his pants down would be just embarrassing.

Daniel took the lead, just by a step, and kept his attention on everything except Tennant as they moved towards the building. He didn't bother relaxing when they entered the doors, because what did that mean ? It certainly didn't mean they were safe, or even alone. Without discussion they headed for the elevator -- it was only a few flights, but it was more convenient to ride up in relative comfort than limp painfully up the stairs.

"We should get Chinese tonight," Tennant remarked, as the doors closed. The sideways look he shot his companion was so very rudely ignored. "To celebrate~"

Fuck, but of course he would think this deserved a celebration, right ? It was true he had won -- he always won when Daniel was sent to wait in the car -- and that no protest he might have made would have changed Tennant's mind once he made it up, but that didn't make it okay. Then there had been the casual remark as he slid into the car, bloody and bruised --

He might retaliate, but I don't think so. I was ... persuasive.

He hadn't even looked bothered. If anything, he had seemed quietly thrilled at the idea of being wrong.

"Great," Daniel bit out, as the doors dinged and parted. He stepped out and checked the hallway was clear, with Tennant following lazily behind like he didn't have a concern in the world. They passed Daniel's door without even glancing at it -- it wasn't any less safe, but it was Daniel's. It wasn't an option tonight.

He still pointedly refused to give his employer even a glance when they stepped into Tennant's apartment, flipping the light on and giving it a quick glance around before closing and locking the door behind them. He hadn't expected anyone to actually be in there -- breaking into this place was as close to impossible as you could get -- it was just another thing to do instead of looking him straight in the face ... but now he was out of stalling tactics, unless he was planning on walking straight into the kitchen and staring coldly at the wall.

It was an appealing thought.

In the bright light, Tennant looked about as bad as he had suspected he would, if not significantly more patient, even with that grin still on his lips. His bottom lip was split open, blood smeared across his chin from where he'd wiped at it, and his left eye was already darkening. (Which meant it had been a more even fight than he'd let on, because he'd never let his pretty face get beaten on like that deliberately.) The cuts seemed bigger now and the blood brighter, the gash on his side resembling a gaping chasm rather than just a mild punishment for not moving fast enough when a knife came at him. Daniel's lips set into a hard line and he looked away, missing that Tennant's grin finally dropped a notch.

"It looks worse than it is," he protested, but the other was no longer listening. He was moving towards the bathroom, movements stiff and unyielding, and with a resigned sigh, Tennant trailed after him. Best to get this over with.

It wasn't until the shower was running and the water heating that Daniel deigned him with a look again, clearly unamused and feeling no guilt at leaving him standing in the corner. He began undressing him, lips set and brows creased, as if this was a punishment rather than any sort of reward or obligation. Tennant waved his hand vaguely, making a half-hearted attempt to stop him without actually trying, as his jacket was removed.

"I'm not a child," he complained, as it was tossed at the hamper. "I can undress myself."

"Of course you can," Daniel sniped. "You're so strong and independent, after all."

The tie followed the same path as his jacket had, clean enough that it could have been worn again without washing (if such a thought wasn't so repulsive), but the shirt was a write-off. Considering Tennant was still upright and breathing, it was unlikely all the blood was his, and considering he was revealed to be badly bruised but barely cut when it was removed, he would probably last the night.

Daniel frowned at the wall, biting his tongue against the words he was tempted to speak. Tennant saw and waved him away, more insistently this time.

"I'll do the rest," he declared, full of pride and confidence, and proceeded to show the other his back as he followed through on the threat before he could be stopped. Perhaps it was intended as a mockery of modesty, a silent retaliation to the cold and efficient way Daniel had shucked him of his clothes, or perhaps it was to try and hide the dark splotches on his legs -- but it achieved neither of these, and there was a reason for that. If a bodyguard could be fooled that easily, he would have been out the door a long time before.

"Can you handle the rest ?" he demanded, sharply, as Tennant limped towards the steaming water.

"I'll only fight the tap if it starts first~" came the mild promise, as the door was opened. He glanced over his shoulder, keeping his expression even, and wasn't particularly surprised by the reaction.

Daniel turned, and left.


Then he sat at the kitchen table, smoking in the dark room and listening to the shower run.  Consciously, he couldn't deny that nothing he said now was going to make any more difference than anything he could have said before Tenannt sent him out, because his Lordship did what he wanted, when he wanted, and consequences be damned. But -- and this was very important -- did that mean he had to just accept it ? That he was to just sit in silence and take all this, and suffer through that grin, with all his concerns being instantly dismissed ?

Why yes, yes it did. It always had, and it always would.

The water stopped suddenly and he tensed, waiting for a thump that would indicate Tennant had slipped on the wet floor. It never came, so clearly he wasn't as damaged as he appeared. (Of course he actually was; his assessments were never wrong.) A minute passed and when he still remained alone, Daniel rose to his feet, frowning.

But there was no reason for concern -- Tenannt barely glanced around when the door opened, his attention squarely on the mirror and the face reflected therein. Most of the blood had washed off to reveal a scattering of new bruises, but there was only the wound on his side that needed immediate tending. None of this seemed to bother him, however, as he just focused on his face -- frowning as he nudged the tender flesh from this side or the other, then tilting his head to peer at it from a new angle, thoroughly displeased by his findings.

"What do you think ?" he asked, absently. "Am I still pretty ? ~"

"You're a mess," Daniel snapped, stepping closer. He grasped Tennant's shoulders and turned him to face him, skipping his gaze over the less important injuries and focusing his gaze on the face as well. No, Daniel decided, despite how righteous his anger had seemed, his concerns had been essentially unfounded, because he wasn't anywhere close to dead.

Not yet, anyway.

There was no point speaking, and so he didn't -- he just reached past Tennant to the medicine cabinet, searching for the iodine. Really, he didn't think it helped anything, but it was part of the ritual and was to be observed. Tennant got messed up, he put iodine on the cuts and bandaged his wounds, and any feelings involved were irrelevant.

That's just the way it was.


Dinner was far from comfortable. Tennant devoured his food like a man possessed, but Daniel just stared at the wall, smoke curling out from his lips and up towards the ceiling. His expression had yet to falter and no further words had been spoken, and that was almost impressive, even though it meant Tennant had to keep glancing at him to make sure he was still alive.

It was during of these checks that Daniel met his gaze, and held it. Very slowly, he reached his arm out to the ashtray and jabbed down viciously, stubbing out his smouldering cigarette. He regarded the other sitting there, pristine and flawless despite being beaten and bruised, and parted his lips. When he spoke, his tone was calm.

"There's noodles on your shirt," Daniel stated.

"Look at that," remarked Tennant, after glancing down. He felt the urge to grin at how ridiculous the entire exchange was, and saw no reason to resist it. "I can't even feed myself~"

"No," agreed the other, lighting a new smoke. "You can't."

There was no jest in his tone.


There was no teasing in his eyes, either, as he helped Tenannt to bed. It was true he helped him undress again, but his hands moved efficiently and his touch didn't linger, and he barely even looked at him. Yes, even his gaze was reluctant to rest on the man in front of him -- who was, just maybe, beginning to get irritated.

When he climbed into bed, Daniel sat beside him; on top of the blankets, staring out the window, cigarette in hand and body stiff. Tennant regarded him for a long second, stoically, and then lay down, back towards him.

They didn't argue.


It was the sound of the door creaking open that jerked Daniel awake -- his eyes snapped open and he sat bolt upright, gaze darting around. Tennant gazed at him from the doorway, clearly amused by this reaction, but he didn't say anything as he moved forward. After another second Daniel realized there was a blanket pulled up around his shoulders, and he discarded it to the floor in as dignified a manner as he could manage.

Tennant smiled again, sort of, glancing over his shoulder as he lowered the tray to the bedside table.

"Sleep well ?~" he asked, like nothing was wrong and never had been, adding milk and sugar to one mug. The spoon clink-ed quietly against the edges and roused Daniel from his silence -- but not before he accepted the mug of steaming black tar.

"Fine," he answered, aware there wasn't much to say in response if he wasn't going to try, and not caring. Tennant didn't even seem to mind and his anger at his irresponsible actions was still simmering, so he didn't even have to worry about guilt later.

They sat side-by-side, sipping in silence.

"I'm fine," Tennant stated suddenly, turning his head to face Daniel -- who met his gaze, stubbornly, and then broke it away to glance over his face. It was true it looked better now, from this angle and in this light, but that didn't make it okay.

"I'm aware," he answered, flatly.

No empty promises followed -- Tennant didn't prostrate himself before him, begging for forgiveness and swearing never to do it again. He offered no tearful apologies, and Daniel offered no compromises and understanding.

But when Tennant shifted closer, close enough for his hip to brush against Daniel's, he didn't move away.
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