Title: And Body and Soul
In which Xanxus moves the goalposts on Squalo, who doesn't quite understand what's going on.
Picks up just a little ways after Vantage Point; smut mostly in passing and that relatively vanilla; a fair bit of D/s dynamic though. 3862 words. Here's to hoping out the posting kinks lately have been ironed out and this goes up like it's supposed to, eh?

And Body and Soul

Getting clipped on the shoulder by one of the Balducci's people as they were pulling out of the raid was embarrassing, was what it was; Squalo kept going and clapped a hand over the wound and cursed himself for not paying enough attention to what he was doing. At least, he kept going till Xanxus blazed up like hellfire as she turned on the Balducci and blew them away in one furious blast of bullets and Will. "That's one way to cover a retreat, Boss," Squalo said when she had stopped firing and he could get a breath of inferno-dry air in his lungs.

For a second, he thought that his words might not have reached her; her eyes were still burning and her shoulders were heaving like she'd just run a race. Then she glanced at him, seemed to recognize him, and nodded when he added, "Let's get out of here, huh? "

But then, he wasn't a picky man—that was good enough for him.

They got to the waiting truck without further incident, leaving the Balducci's people behind, crisped to ash and their erstwhile gambling house going up like a pyre. Squalo investigated the bullet hole in his bicep once they were rolling, cursing himself under his breath all the while. At least it was a clean wound, had missed the bone and gone straight through flesh, even if it was bleeding a little more than he would have liked. He slapped his field dressing on it and didn't give it much more thought—some stitches and a few days, he'd be good as new.

Xanxus didn't say anything for all the ride back, just sat in stony silence across from Squalo. He kind of thought that wasn't going to be a good sign for anyone and tried to figure out what had set her off—but then, it was Xanxus, who never had needed an excuse for her moods in all the time he'd known her. Her brooding silence lay heavily over the rest of them and kept anyone from saying much, not even to exchange commentary on how pathetic the Balducci's security had been. Not that it was an entirely bad thing that they were feeling quiet; at least it kept Lussuria from giving him hell about being sloppy.

Xanxus didn't break her silence till they were home and piling out of the truck. She glanced at him, jerked her chin at his arm, and grunted, "Get that taken care of, then come make your report." The order was maybe a little clipped, but her tone was curiously even considering how pissed off she seemed to be about—about whatever it was that was bothering her.

Squalo stared after her when she stalked off, too baffled by that command to even fully appreciate the fluid length of her stride. Get it taken care of before ironing out the mission report with her? The hell? He glanced at Lussuria, just to make sure he'd heard that correctly, and Lussuria shrugged, raised eyebrows indicating that he'd heard and was just as confused. "Maybe she doesn't want you bleeding all over the carpet?"

Which was a possibility, though a distant one, since it hadn't ever bothered her before. "Maybe."

Whatever it was, it wouldn't do to keep her waiting for long.

Bastone was the one on duty in the infirmary and gave Squalo all the hell he'd managed to dodge on the ride home, plus interest, while she sewed him up. "What, you're losing your touch this young?" she demanded while she swabbed out the hole with disinfectant, none too gently, either. "You can't keep yourself in one piece now, you'll be dead soon. Why am I even bothering with you?"

"This is what I like about you, you're so cheerful to talk to." So maybe pissing the good doctor off wasn't a good idea, but damn it was fun to do.

"And that's another thing," she told him as she went for the sutures (but not the anesthetic, he noticed, and gripped his knee and the edge of the table when she sank the first needle into him). "You had to get shot? You couldn't have managed something interesting? Gunshot wounds are pedestrian."

"Sorry, Doc, I wasn't up for taking requests." Squalo hissed between his teeth when that earned a savage tug. "Next time I'll try for something more creative."

"See that you do. Or at least get shot somewhere exciting."

The good thing about Bastone was that she worked fast, despite the bitching. Her fingers flew as she sewed him up, probably because she had to do this on a regular basis. "There," she announced as she slapped a pad of gauze against his arm and wrapped tape around it to hold it in place. "Keep that clean and don't be a dumbass with it, and maybe you won't develop gangrene. But come see me if you do, 'cause that could be fun."

Of course she sounded ghoulishly interested in the prospect. Squalo wouldn't have expected anything less of her. He saluted her, lazy, and grabbed the ruins of his shirt and jacket. "Sure thing, Doc," he said before seeing himself out.

Formality might have required him to swing by his quarters for a fresh shirt, at least, but Xanxus' mood suggested that she'd probably prefer to see him promptly in his undershirt rather than tardy and properly dressed. Wasn't like she hadn't seen him in his undershirt and far less, anyway.

She was hunched over her desk when he let himself into her office; she looked up at his greeting and got another one of those looks her face, one of the strange ones she'd taken to wearing lately. Squalo thought that maybe something had begun to change between him and Xanxus, which just went to show that putting stuff into actual words was always a risky business. She was looking at him differently these days—she was looking at him and he didn't know what it meant, exactly, or what she was seeing. Or thinking. It was almost, he thought, like she was weighing him for something, maybe, though God only knew what. Xanxus looked him over now, eyebrows knitting together and the corners of her mouth turning tight and something lurking in her eyes that he didn't recognize.

It made him edgy. He was Xanxus' right hand by dint of being better at reading her moods and anticipating her demands than anyone else. If that had changed—

Well. It hadn't changed. He wasn't going to let it.

Squalo did what was only prudent when Xanxus was in a mood and pulled himself to attention. "Sorry to keep you waiting, Boss. Didn't mean to take so long."

That got him a hooded look, one he couldn't make much out of, save that something was clearly weighing on her mind. It would come out, he figured, probably sooner rather than later, and didn't let himself dwell on it. She jerked her chin at his shoulder. "How bad is it?"

"Nothing bad, just some stitches," Squalo assured her. He considered the probable reasons for the inquiry and added, "Should be able to keep up with my usual duties just fine." His unusual ones, too, if that's what she happened to want from him.

Xanxus was still pinning him with that gaze he couldn't quite parse. Squalo waited, wondering if he was saying the right things, till she gestured at the chair in front of her desk. "Sit down already and help me pull this report together."

Baffled by her mood, he obeyed, helping her cobble the details of the job into a tidy report for the Ninth and Federico to go over in the morning. It wasn't difficult: they'd disabled the Balducci's sentries and system of lookouts without breaking a sweat and punched right through the warehouse-turned-casino with even less trouble. It had mostly been a lot of property destruction and chaos till the withdrawal, and even then, his little flirtation with catching a bullet had been the most exciting part of the mission. Knocking that into report form wasn't difficult; the two of them practically had translating the visceral details into a list of incidents and casualties into an art form. It gave Squalo the time to reflect on Xanxus' mood. He couldn't quite make up his mind what was going on, save that something still had her pissed off.

Maybe it was that he'd been careless, which—fair enough. It'd been a damn stupid mistake, the kind even one of their rookies wouldn't have made. Squalo was kind of pissed with himself, come to think of it, so no wonder if it had her annoyed, too. He couldn't think of anything else it might have been, no matter how he wracked his brain, so he let it go and paid attention to crosschecking their report instead. When Xanxus saved it and sent it up the main house, he leaned back in his seat. "What now, Boss?"

She took a moment answering that, then stood up and crooked her finger at him. "Come on."

"Sure, Boss." Squalo pushed himself to his feet and followed after her, wondering a little where this was going to end up, how it was going to end—sparring? Her bed? Could go either way, though he had to wonder how much good he'd be in the training hall.

But it didn't look like he was going to have to find out, not right away: Xanxus made straight for her quarters. Squalo couldn't help smiling a little at her back as he followed her; well, he was only human.

She let them in and he waited for her to say what she wanted from him, but she didn't, not right away. She turned the lock on the door and then just stopped right there, her eyes on him but her gaze far away, looking at something he couldn't see. Squalo waited till she shook herself and the darkness in her eyes cleared. "Come here."

"Sure thing, Boss." He took the long step that closed the distance between them and wasn't too surprised when Xanxus lifted her hands to catch his face between them—she liked that, sometimes, holding him while she attacked his mouth, and he didn't have a tie for her to hang onto tonight. Squalo opened his mouth to hers and hummed agreeably when she took advantage of that, her tongue licking against his as she slid her fingers into his hair, cupping his head and holding him still for it. Even now it made his knees weak every time she did that, every fiber of him wanting to just lean into the way her mouth and hands demanded everything of him.

He couldn't help sighing when Xanxus pulled away from his mouth. "Clothes," she told him, sending a shiver of delighted anticipation through him. "Then bed."

"Yes, Boss." It was a fight to keep himself from grinning too hard, so Squalo buried it in the business of shucking himself out of what was left of his mission uniform. He was ahead of the game, which meant that he got to sit on the edge of the bed and watch Xanxus peel out of the leather that she favored for missions and wriggle out of her underthings. God, she was beautiful, all smooth muscle and grace and power, by far the deadliest person he'd ever met and certainly the most breathtaking.

She glanced at him and caught him looking. That seemed to give her pause—she stopped, anyway, arrested in the act of shaking the hair back from her face. For a moment they looked at each other, her with that inscrutable new expression and Squalo fairly certain that his face was an open book. And why not? He'd already given her the code to decipher him.

Xanxus said his name, her voice low as she shaped the syllables, pitched almost like she was asking a question. Squalo lifted his eyebrows in reply. "Boss?"

She raked the hair back from her eyes and came to him, catching his face between her palms again and holding it. Squalo looked up at her, not entirely sure what she wanted him to do—his mouth on her breasts, maybe?—but she just held him, didn't draw him forward, so he stayed still, waiting on her to make it clear what she wanted. She ran her thumb over his face, sliding it across his cheekbone, and let it come to rest against the corner of his mouth.

The gesture tugged at something in him, something hungry; Squalo swallowed hard against it. "Boss?" It came out hoarse, God only knew why, and he decided it was worth risking her displeasure to lift his hands and settle them on her hips, light and respectful.

"You're mine." Xanxus said it like she wasn't sure whether she was reporting an undeniable fact or trying to verify an uncertain one.

"Yes, Boss." Squalo looked at the line knitting her eyebrows together. "Heart and body and soul." That was maybe more plain than he'd ever dared to be before, but. It was true. And it wasn't up to him to decide what she wanted to do with the truth. It was just his job to give it to her.

"Body and soul," she repeated, skipping over the first part of it, but no surprises there. Not really. Xanxus ran her thumb along his lower lip; Squalo couldn't help the way his lips parted at the touch. "Mine."

"Yes, Boss," he breathed. "Please..." God only knew what he was asking for, except that that hunger was twisting inside of him, making him ache with how much he wanted—whatever it was he wanted. Something that she had, that much was sure.

Xanxus took a hand away from his face and dropped it to his shoulder, following the line of his arm down till she hit the first edges of the bandages wrapped around it. "You got shot," she said while Squalo held himself still under the light pressure of her fingers as they followed the bandages. The look on her face was—grim.

"I'm sorry, Boss." It came out as a whisper, which was about the best he could manage when she was looking down at him like that, forehead furrowed and mouth flat. "Happens sometimes."

"It shouldn't." Xanxus' voice was low. "Don't let it. Not again."

That might have been the single most impractical order she'd given him yet. Squalo shrugged that aside and nodded. "Do my best, Boss. Promise." He couldn't quite prevent the laugh that escaped him then. "No one else gets to shoot me but you."

She looked at him, brows knitting further together. Then she nodded. "No one else but me. That's right." She slid her hand up his arm, settled the other on his shoulder, and pushed him back. "Lie down."

Squalo let out a breath, on firmer ground with that command, and settled himself against the pillow. Xanxus slid onto the bed and moved to prowl over him. This made sense, this was an easier kind of hunger to satisfy, one he understood perfectly. "Boss..." He lifted his hands to cup her breasts, stroking the fullness of them and watching the way that made some of the hard lines around her mouth melt away. "Please, can I...?" He stroked her slowly, tracing the peaked curves of them, wanting to do more than that for her.

Xanxus let out a breath and caught his hand, wrapping her fingers around his wrist and pulling his hand away from her skin. "No," she said. "Hands."

Squalo sighed, heat warring with his disappointment at having to stop touching her even as he surrendered his hands to her. Xanxus pressed them down against the pillow, holding them in place, and bent her head to kiss him again. She stroked her tongue past his lips to slide against his own, slow and filthy. Squalo groaned into her mouth, cock twitching as heat coiled low in his gut. Her breasts stroked against his chest as she shifted against him; the weight of them was soft and warm, and her thumbs were pressed against the pulse points of his wrists, rubbing back and forth there. "Boss," Squalo whispered when she ran her mouth along the line of his jaw. "Please, let me touch you, Boss. Please." If she didn't let him, he was gong to go off the second she touched his cock, and then she probably would shoot him for leaving her hanging.

Her lips moved against his ear, shaping her response. "No."

Squalo groaned, heat twisting itself around his concern. "Boss, please, I—" He broke off when she bit him, her teeth sharp on his earlobe as she gripped his wrists. "Boss!"

"You're mine." Her breath was soft against his ear, the words intimate. They made him shiver. Then Xanxus ran her lips down the side of his throat, parted them and traced the tip of her tongue over his skin before she bit down, closing her teeth on the side of his throat and sucking hard. "I can do what I want with you," she said when the place she'd bitten was stinging, surely bruised. She lifted her head and looked at him, her eyes clear—clearer than they'd been since the last time they'd sparred with each other, since before they'd spent that time in her office and he'd laid himself bare to her. "Anything I want. Because you belong to me. Completely." She hesitated half a beat and said, only stumbling a little bit, "Heart. And body and soul."

Squalo snapped taut under her, the razor's edge of his control slipping, slicing through him and cutting away his certainties as she acknowledged things he'd never expected her to accept. The heat that rushed through him, wringing him out, left him unmoored in its aftermath. He gasped under her, shaking with the sheer enormity of it, not sure what he was supposed to do now. "Boss..." He stared up at her, disoriented. "Boss, I..." He trailed off, not knowing what he should say or do now that the ground had shifted under his feet.

Xanxus' eyes were dark but still clear; she nodded, chin dipping the barest fraction, like she was satisfied. "Mine." She released his wrists and settled against him, careless of the mess between them, and pressed her mouth against his.

It took him close to a minute before he dared to lift his hands and spread them against her back; when he did, she made a low sound, one that was approving. Squalo's breath hitched in his throat as terror gripped him. What was he supposed to be doing now? What did she want? "Boss," he said, "Boss, please, tell me... tell me...?"

She lifted her head and at last she was wearing an expression he could put a name to: confusion. "Tell you what?"

Squalo wasn't entirely sure that he hadn't slipped sideways into some bizarre alternate dimension. "What do you—you didn't—did you?"

Her expression cleared somewhat. "Get off? No." She shrugged. "I'll live."

Squalo stared up at her, trying to make those words into some kind of sense in his head—trying and failing. "Boss...?" This didn't mesh with any of the things he'd spent so much time learning, any of the things he knew to do in order to keep her satisfied, but. She seemed content anyway. "Don't you want...?"

Xanxus snorted. "Well. If you're offering." She reached for his hand and guided it down, fitting it between her legs. "Knock yourself out." She sounded more tolerantly amused than anything else, though she was slick enough when Squalo slid his fingers against her, running them between the folds of her and stroking them over her clit. He exhaled, shaky with relief, when that made her sigh, and pressed his fingers against her as she began to rock her fingers against his touch. Her eyes went heavy-lidded as he worked his fingers into her, moving them against the tight heat of her body the way he knew she liked, fucking her on them till her breath came fast and she made low, hungry noises in her throat. Squalo bit his lip, concentrating all his attention on this and ignoring the burning of his muscles and the ache of his arm, and ground his palm against her clit. Above him, Xanxus groaned, her body shaking as she trembled around his fingers, and closed her eyes as she came undone. Squalo drove his fingers the tightness of her, kept going until she was shaking over him, until she gasped out a hoarse, "Enough."

She caught herself over him, breathing hard, when he eased his fingers out of her. Squalo subsided under her, feeling easier in his mind with this return to normalcy, and watched her recover herself. This made more sense, more than anything else that had happened. "Boss," he murmured, settling a daring hand against her back, light and respectful.

Xanxus settled against him, practically molding herself against him, which was—not wholly unusual, he reminded himself; sometimes she stayed close after, when she was particularly relaxed.

Though usually that didn't involve her mouthing his throat, tracing her lips over the place she'd marked him. Squalo couldn't help the sound that soft touch pulled out of him. Her breath gusted across his skin, a soft snort, and she traced her tongue against the spot as she ran her hands over his arms. Squalo drew a breath, sharp between his teeth, when she reached his bandages and the stitches that throbbed beneath them. Xanxus went still against him. "Okay?"

Squalo stared at the ceiling and wondered whether she'd ever asked him anything like that before. "Just sore. You know how it goes." He couldn't recall that she ever had, and felt the ground shift under his feet again.

The sound she made was discontented. "Fucking Balducci."

Squalo gazed at the ceiling, not really seeing it, thinking about the way she'd rounded on the Balducci men and turned them to ash, and found that he couldn't quite draw a steady breath. He was—projecting too much. Way, way too much, all based on a couple of unusual conversations. And she got—annoyed, yeah, annoyed, when someone happened to interfere with anything she perceived to be hers. She'd said it herself. She was going to be the one to shoot him. Of course she wouldn't be best pleased with anyone who tried to steal that privilege from her.

Yeah. Yeah, that made sense.

Squalo relaxed, getting it all settled in his head, and smoothed his hand over the curve of Xanxus' back. "Won't be doing that again," he said; she snorted in response. Her body was going loose and heavy over his as he ran his hand over her skin; her back rose and fell under his palm as she sighed, deep, against his throat. Squalo held himself still for her, listening to the steady rhythm of her breathing as it turned deeper, and it was a long time before he followed her into sleep.


Comments are always lovely!