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A Vow to Seek Vengeance on All the Vicious

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There’s a calm that can descend in the middle of battle.

Or not a calm, exactly, that would imply quiet and stillness. Instead it’s more like - harmony. There are explosions and gunfire all around him, but Baptiste moves like he’s going through the steps of a dance. Fire - duck the return fire - straighten and throw a grenade - slap a biotic pack on a bloody teammate’s shoulder - fire again. It’s chaos, but Baptiste exists in sync with the battle around him, in concert with his Talon teammates.

With Mauga.

Baptiste glances over, reassured to see the massive silhouette against the firelight from some Monte Cristi building that’s gone up in flames. He somehow has come to depend on the mountain that moves like a man, despite all his intentions when he arrived in Talon of keeping himself to himself, only being there to help his people.

The road to hell is paved with good intentions, and Baptiste’s were trampled over long ago.

-x-x-x-x-x-

“Head to Goodson to get fitted for combat armor, then to McLeod to get kitted out with weapons,” the quartermaster says to Baptiste, voice bored. Baptiste frowns.

“I should be down as a medic -” he begins.

“This is Talon. Everyone fights. Now go,” is the reply. Baptiste hesitates, and continues on into the depths of Talon headquarters. It’s not like he can back out now.

His time in the Caribbean Coalition was good, but it just wasn’t enough. His people were still suffering, still dying, and Baptiste knew that there was more to be done than even within their special operations unit. There were always talk amongst the people at the end of their term of service, of where they could go after. The whispers underneath the talk were always of Talon - good pay, enough to send back home. Doing real work with real results, although you had to give up something of yourself to get there.

Baptiste had been hoping it was blood. He was starting to fear it would be his humanity.

Soon he’s fitted out in shiny white and red, heavy boots that ground him and futuristic armor that cradles him like a lover. They give him grenades and flashbangs, a helmet that he isn’t sure he can fit his locs under and a rifle as thick as his thigh. They slap a red cross his breast, the bandanna tied tight enough to feel like a noose, and shove him out the door. Baptiste stands in an empty hallway, staring at his reflection in the windows of the darkened room across from him. He tries to see the child he had once been, before the Crisis took everything from him. He wonders what that child would think of him now.

Days later he keeps wondering, as his armor is streaked with red blood and yellow bile and black shit, hands moving as fast as they can to patch up and tear apart. Baptiste had tried to keep track at first, the number he killed against the number he treated. He stopped when the ratio stretched farther than he could justify to himself. It’s over, faster than he expected although the adrenaline rush is making time stretch, and is finally, finally able to set up the med tent and start properly treating the operatives that stream in.

There’s a nonstop stream of people for the first hour, most silent with shock or pain or exhaustion. It’s a surprise, then, when his next patient speaks to him.

“Hey, buddy. You doing okay? You look stressed.”

Baptiste blinks, hands stuttering to a stop as he’s jolted out of his automatic movements. His weary gaze meets strange amber eyes, bright over a wide, white grin. It’s...something, something Mauga, Baptiste can’t remember the rest of his name through his fatigue. He’d noticed the man during training - it was hard not to, he was enormous and loud and the type of boisterous person that usually annoyed Baptiste. He’d also seemed sly and competent though, so Baptiste had kept half an eye on him out of self-interest.

Now he has an enormous hole through the thick armor at his shoulder, dark blood leaking sluggishly from the shattered entrance. Baptiste resumes removing the armor - heavies need help to get their combat armor on and off, having to wear what amounts to an exoskeleton to hold up the tanks and gun supports. It’s soon apparent that it’s not the armor that makes Mauga seem massive, it’s just him. Baptiste’s hand - wide, strong, not something he’s used to think of as delicate - doesn’t even come close to wrapping around Mauga’s bicep as Baptiste steadies him while he injects anesthetic.

Even though Baptiste never answers his question, Mauga’s smile never falters. He watches with sharp eyes as Baptise swings a scanner around, figuring out where the bullet is. It’s closer to the back of the shoulder than the front, so Baptiste cuts in with precise movements, watching the screen to make sure he’s in the right place. The bullet when it comes out is the size of his thumb - ugly, dark metal streaked with gore. Mauga doesn’t make a sound, though Baptiste knows the anesthetic can’t reach that far in.

A few stitches to the back, and Baptiste then has his work set out for him with a pair of tweezers and a steel kidney dish. He can’t get Mauga set up with biotics until the bits of fabric and broken armor are removed - he’d just heal around them and get infected. He begins the laborious process, teasing shards of composite and carbon fibers out of the wound. Absently he notices the break the injury has caused in Mauga’s tattoos, the heavy inked patterns interrupted by tattered flesh. They’re lovely in their own stark way, curved around his muscles in a manner that says they were designed just for him.

“You don’t speak much, do you?” Mauga says, voice betraying none of the discomfort he must feel.

“When I’m on the job, I like to focus,” Baptiste says, eyes on the wound and hands moving steadily.

“We’ve got time,” Mauga says easily. “I can feel how much shit is in there.” There’s a strangely companionable pause. “Medic, eh? I saw you out there, looked pretty sure of yourself. You done much fighting before?”

Baptiste wants to snap something about how thanks to the Crisis their entire lives are a fight, but can sense that it would just roll off of Mauga’s back. Not to mention, given his age it’s entirely likely that he’s a Crisis orphan just like Baptiste. Instead, Baptiste just says, “I would rather just heal, but Talon has other expectations.”

Mauga makes an easy noise of agreement. “I signed on to kill people and get paid, no doubt about that. I like the weapons, the armor. The people,” he shoots Baptiste a sharp smile at that, which Baptiste elects to ignore. “Not sure about their motivations, though,” he says with a more thoughtful tone. “You get too much politics involved, it gets messy. People start thinking with their emotions instead of their heads. Just get in, beat down who you have to, get out with the cash. That’s what I’m here for.”

Making a neutral noise, Baptiste keeps working. Mauga is big and brutal, that’s obvious. As he keeps talking, rambling about everything from what he’s going to spend his first pay packet on to how he thinks Biswa might be possessed, Baptiste starts to see another side to him. Canny, articulate, more intelligent than people would likely give him credit for.

Despite himself, Baptiste starts to answer some of Mauga’s questions. It’s a long, tedious slog picking out all of the debris out of the wound, and the conversation makes the time go faster. Baptiste finds his lips curving up once or twice, face almost aching in an expression he hasn’t worn since he left Haiti. He glances over to see Mauga with a look of what almost looks like satisfaction on his face to see Baptiste’s smile. He’s...not sure how he feels about that, other than a quiet, almost unfamiliar warmth low in his gut.

Eventually Mauga is stitched up, shot full of biotics with gauze on top. With a wide smile and a hand running through his thick hair, Mauga hops off of the table, far nimbler than his size would suggest he moves. When he’s standing Baptiste realizes exactly how big the man is - his head only reaches Mauga’s collarbone. Mauga looks down at him, smile fading as he stares with those eerie eyes of his.

“I think we’d make a good team,” he says abruptly, gaze moving over Baptiste’s blood-stained scrubs and tired face. “I’ll take them down, you patch me up.”

“I can take them down as well,” Baptiste says with a crooked smile.

Mauga’s answering grin is brilliant, shining above Baptiste like some terrible star. “That you can, buddy. That you can.”

-x-x-x-x-x-

Baptiste and Mauga turn out to be an unstoppable combination on the battlefield - learning each others’ quirks and strengths until they move like a single unit. Talon notices, putting them on the same squad under Cuerva once they make it through training. Baptiste likes their group, surprisingly. They’re all ruthless and amoral for the most part, but he can depend on them. There’s Daleycha and Ysenia, identical twin snipers with laughing eyes and button noses and preternatural aim. Ombeni, another heavy gunner who’s almost suicidal in how he throws himself into battle. A handful of infantry, who tend to rotate in and out as Cuerva orders. Sombra, their tech person - Baptiste finds himself friends with her without quite knowing how it happens.

“You should be careful with him, mijo ,” Sombra murmurs from behind Baptiste as he sits on the floor of his quarters, her legs hooked over his shoulders as she perches on the bed with her clever fingers working wax into his locs and rolling them between her palms. Baptiste is trying to concentrate on the book on tropical diseases in front of him, but her hands are so soothing.

“With who?” he says, distractedly.

A pause. “Mauga,” she says. “I don’t like him.”

“You don’t like anyone,” Baptiste replies with a pinch to her calf. A narrow heel kicks him just a bit too hard in the chest as she tugs sharply on his hair.

“Behave or I divert your next paycheck to my own account,” Sombra says with a delicate eyebrow raise, looking down at Baptiste from where she’s pulled his head back. She lets him go, fingers becoming gentle once more.

She picks up her line of thought again. “He’s crude. Savage. He would leave any of us on the battlefield if someone had enough money for him.”

Baptiste shakes his head, rolling his eyes when Sombra nudges him with a knee to stop. “You just don’t know him. He’s a lot deeper than anyone gives him credit for. I wouldn’t partner with anyone I couldn’t connect to, couldn’t trust. You know me better than that.”

“Hmph.” Sombra doesn’t sound convinced. “You sleeping with him?”

“No,” he says honestly. A bit quickly, but maybe Sombra won’t notice -

Of course Sombra notices. There’s a hint of speculation in her voice when she says, “Do you want to?”

Baptiste doesn’t deign to answer, instead burying himself in diagrams of sleeping sickness infection rates. He pointedly is not thinking about how he wished it was someone else’s hands, broad instead of slender, cradling his head right then.

-x-x-x-x-x-

Sombra wasn’t the first nor last to speculate about them together. Baptiste tried to ignore the whispers, tried even harder to ignore the voice in the back of his head that said perhaps, perhaps. Somehow, though, he was still surprised when it turned out to be a matter of when rather than if .

Makati is...bad. Their squad is one of three in the city, each with its own mission. Theirs is to get into the Philippine Bank of Communications and let Sombra work her magic. Baptiste doesn’t know what she’s going to do, he just knows that they need to get in, get out, and stay alive. It’s monsoon season, and Baptiste thinks in retrospect that the wall of water that prevents them from seeing the PBCom building from just a few blocks away might be an omen.

Mauga has been uncharacteristically grumpy. “I don’t like this,” he says quietly to Baptiste when he asks about it. “There’s something fishy. Nguyen isn’t telling us something.” The aloof handler was the one person in the squad Baptiste did not like at all. Mauga isn’t the biggest fan of him either, but he isn’t usually suspicious of him like this. Mauga is almost as ruthless as Sombra said he was, but he also has a self-preservation instinct that’s second to none.

The jitteriness spreads, Mauga’s mood often being what keeps them together - or like now, keeps them on edge. Baptiste packs an extra few canisters of charges, shoves additional biotic packs in every spare place he can find. It turns out to be a good thing, because what Nguyen didn’t tell them about were the goddamn omnics.

Baptiste hates fighting against omnics. There’s an intrinsic lack of humanity to them that means they have no compunctions about taking out civilians unless their programmer decided to put that into them, and who would do that with a battle machine? They destroy with no regard for human life, or for the repercussions of what their unfeeling steel bodies might do to buildings and houses. They shoot to kill and they use indiscriminately damaging shrapnel grenades. It’s all just cold, unfeeling slaughter.

And they’re sent straight into it.

Baptiste doesn’t know if the mission is a success, or what they’re even qualifying as a success. One of the twins is dead, one of Ombeni’s suicidal charges finally led to its inevitable conclusion, and the only person they had with them who spoke Tagalog, Orellana, has a cracked skull and probably internal bleeding at the very least. Baptiste says probably because one of his scanners is lodged in the head of a dead omnic and the rest of his equipment was taken out by an EMP.

They had to scatter and now they’re in the fallback position - a tiny defensible two room shack tucked into an alleyway five blocks over from the target building. Mauga is on guard at the door while Baptiste tries to treat Orellana as best he can with his remaining supplies. Nguyen told them that the remaining parts of their squad - the survivors, no thanks to Nguyen , Baptiste thinks bitterly - are holed up on the other side of the city. Orders are to hold tight until extraction in the morning. Baptiste had patched many of them up during the fight, he can only hope they’re still doing all right.

Darkness falls early, the downpour blocking out the last bits of sunlight. Mauga sets perimeter pins and a tripwire with a flashbang, finally coming inside. Baptiste is slumped in the corner, gnawing tiredly on a ration bar. He’s not hungry, but the energy from adrenaline has to come from somewhere. Mauga sets his guns - each one larger on its own than Orellana - at the side of the room and sits next to Baptiste with a clatter of armor. He grabs the bag Baptiste holds out, removing several ration bars for himself.

“How’s the kid?” he rumbles, unconcerned tone in his voice.

Baptiste shrugs. “Stabilized the best I can. He might be braindead for all I know, without my equipment.”

“Hmph. Fat lot of good his language skills will do us with jelly in his head.” There’s Mauga for you, practical as ever.

Letting his head fall back against the wall, Baptiste sighs. “We could have prepared better. More ammo, I could have outfitted the twins with biotic guns. Different tactics, if we’d known there were omnics we never would have swarmed the first floor like that -”

“Stop agonizing over it, it’s all done with now and we can’t do anything about it,” Mauga interrupts him. “Don’t worry about anyone other than who’s in this room. The others can take care of themselves.”

Baptiste blinks up at him with exhausted eyes. Mauga’s thick mane is tamped down by rain, the rogue white streak almost glowing in the dim light of the room. His face is softer, less terrifying with his hair damp and soft around his face, almost like someone you could meet under normal circumstances instead of a giant near-terrorist.

Mauga strips his armor off piece by piece, twisting around with surprising flexibility to hit releases that normally heavy gunners need assistance with. Baptiste is thankful Mauga doesn’t need his help, he’s too exhausted to do much else but chew and swallow right now. He watches with half lidded eyes as Mauga strips off his compression shirt and tac pants, both heavy with rain and sweat. He takes them to the sink and wrings them out, but all Baptiste can pay attention to is the muscles of his back shifting in the warm, dim light of the lantern. His eyes follow the lines of Mauga’s back tattoos, how they vanish at the waist beneath his tight underwear that barely contains his thick leg muscles, reappearing to twist down his thighs.

Baptiste wonders absently how much of Mauga the ink covers.

Turning around unexpectedly, Mauga catches where Baptiste’s eyes are lingering. Instead of calling him out on it or giving him the expected leer, he just looks at Baptiste with a contemplative expression. It’s something too - too human out of Mauga, not what Baptiste is accustomed to. He looks away, busies himself with getting a bottle of water.

Mauga rummages in a footlocker shoved in a corner, comes out with a couple of sleeping rolls. He lays them out on the floor, before doing one last perimeter sweep as Baptiste does his best to check over Orellana. He’s breathing, but one eye socket is bruised dark and worrisome, and the way his pupils don’t react tell Baptiste there’s nothing good happening inside his skull. He sighs, covering Orellana up with a thin blanket. They were lucky there was a cot at all to put him on.

Their sleeping rolls aren’t much, thin pads and an excuse for a pillow. Mauga has already taken the one closest to the door. Baptiste settles in the best he can, arms folded behind his head. “Do you want me to take first watch?” he asks Mauga.

Mauga shakes his head. “We may as well not bother, I’ve got it loaded up so anyone who takes one step in here is going to get a nasty surprise.”

“What if it’s Nguyen?”

“Then he deserves it.”

The corner of Baptiste’s mouth tugs up a bit, all he has the energy for right now. He’s exhausted but he can’t help but worry about the teammates he’d patched up, whether they’re okay. Worry about the civilians he saw, the screaming faces that disappeared in a cloud of dust from the collapsing building. Worry about -

“What’s going on in that head of yours?” It’s a familiar question, one from whenever Mauga thinks Baptiste is getting too much into his own thoughts. There’s an undertone to it, though, something unfamiliar.

Baptise glances over, sees Mauga’s eyes intent on him. “Nothing.”

Mauga’s stretched out on his side, head pillowed on one enormous bicep as he looks over at Baptiste. “Now I don’t think that’s true.”

Baptiste closes his eyes, not in the mood for talking. There’s the movement of air and a feeling of warmth along his body. He blinks his eyes open, and something in him isn’t surprised to see Mauga above him, propped up on his elbows to hold his body above Baptiste’s.

“Let’s see if we can find something else for you to think about,” he says low, like a secret, and Baptiste closes his eyes once more - this time in invitation. There’s a pause, then warm lips on his own - firm, unrelenting. Like Mauga would be anything else.

Baptiste is a big man - arms that can lift guns or bodies, legs that can run for miles or with his exo boots, jump for meters. Under Mauga, however, he realizes how small he is. Compared to Mauga, compared to the universe. Another day he might fight against it but for now he relaxes into the idea. Reaches up to thread his hands into thick dark hair, shifts his hips in pleasure at the feel of a hand wrapping almost completely around his ribcage at the side. Baptiste has fought hard tonight, and maybe he’s ready for someone else to do the work.

Clothing is shed bit by bit, the last scraps of armor against the world stripped away. Mauga smells of animal musk and ozone, of spice and sweat. Baptiste bites at a tendon on his neck, is rewarded by a deep groan and a hand wrapped around his cock. He sits now in the cradle of Mauga’s thighs, legs splayed almost uncomfortably wide around the other man’s hips.

If it was anyone else, Baptiste might feel inadequate, he hazily thinks as he watches the shiny ruddy head of his cock appear and vanish again in Mauga’s broad fist. But this is Mauga - he protects Baptiste, on the battlefield and off so that Baptiste can then put him back together again. And now, right now - Baptiste throws his head back, come streaking Mauga’s hand with a choked off cry - Mauga’s the one breaking him apart.

It takes a long minute for Baptiste to come back to himself, breath slowing, sight clearing. When he looks down, Mauge is stroking himself, hand tight and slick with Baptiste’s come. Baptiste pushes his hand away - rather, Mauga lets himself be pushed - and takes over. He needs both hands, just one isn’t enough to wrap all the way around him. Baptiste thinks a bit hysterically in the back of his mind that he’s almost glad they’re in the field without supplies, because if he was faced with taking this without warning he might have bolted. As it is he’s fascinated by watching the smooth skin slide under his fingers, and he can’t help from licking his lips.

There’s a catch in the harsh breaths from above him, and Baptiste looks up to see Mauga staring down at him with hungry, hot eyes. A second later and Mauga’s crushing Baptiste to him with one giant hand on his back, the other on the back of his head as he kisses Baptiste hard enough to split his lip.

It’s frantic and desperate, and Mauga makes a soft noise in the back of his throat that’s startlingly needy before he comes all over them both with a grunt. Baptiste works him through it, hands firm and tight right up until he recognizes the slight tension in Mauga’s mouth that means discomfort. He slows and stops, the two men breathing into each others’ mouths as they come down from the adrenaline rush.

Bordel de merde ,” Baptiste mutters as he looks across the room. “I forgot about goddamn Orellana.”

Mauga laughs, sensual and deep in his throat. Baptiste’s cock tries to give a valiant twitch at the sound. “I’m pretty sure he couldn’t tell you what his own name is, let alone what we were doing,” Mauga says. He wraps his hands around Baptiste’s waist, fingers nearly touching around the narrow span, and sets him gently on his bedroll. He gets up and wanders off to root around in his gear bag, shameless in his nudity. When he turns around he has a towel from his gun cleaning kit and Baptiste is almost disappointed to see his chest already clean.

Ignoring Baptiste’s reaching hand, Mauga settles himself down, wiping Baptiste’s chest and dick with careful strokes. Baptiste lets him, watching with amusement as Mauga contentedly cleans him up. Mauga manhandles him into position, tucked in along the curve of his body with a heavy arm draped over him. It’s not stifling, surprisingly, perhaps because he’s so used to having Mauga’s bulk at his back for one reason or another.

Mauga’s breath slows, chest steadily moving in and out against Baptiste’s back. Baptiste is still worried - about his squad, about Orellana, now about what’s changed in his and Mauga’s relationship. Post-orgasmic relaxation flows through his limbs like honey, however, and he slips into sleep despite himself.

-x-x-x-x-x-

Life and Talon stop for no one, and so Baptiste isn’t given time to process anything. Instead the next day is a rush of monitoring Orellana - to no use, he dies on the operating table - and getting everyone back in one piece to Talon HQ. Then it’s another mission, and another, and before long months and months have passed and the memory of Mauga’s hands on Baptiste are more like a half-forgotten dream.

It’s okay, though. He and Mauga work together better than ever, the new members of their squad are integrating well, and the money is very, very good. It’s - it’s okay. That’s what Baptiste tells himself.

The only thing is their missions. Ostensibly they haven’t changed: go to this place, rescue this person or take that item, protect so-and-so or such-and-such from whoever wants to harm it. Baptiste is just a medic, albeit a well-armed one - he gets even less information than the others, his orders pretty much always are just ‘keep everyone alive and able to fight’. But sometimes, things are just...wrong.

Sometimes it’s Nguyen taking a team member aside and giving them quiet instructions of their own. Other times it’s a place having more or less security than expected, or a different layout. Occasionally, it’s just a feeling, and Baptiste knows it’s not just him being paranoid.

One time they’re skulking through a house, a mansion that overlooks the slums of Cape Town. Baptiste looks around himself in disgust - he knows how the people below are starving and dying, and this person owns these fine things? The cost of selling that one vase could feed the entire city below for a day. He resists the temptation to knock the vase over.

There is a safe, apparently, with papers in it that they need. It’s just Baptiste, Mauga, and Sombra today - protection, safe-cracking, and Baptiste to keep them healed and provide general cover. Baptiste nudges a door open with his gun. The room is empty, of both safes and people. They move on.

One floor up, and there’s what looks like an office - all opulent carved wood and thick carpets that muffle their footsteps. At the creak of the door opening, an old white man straightens up and whirls around. He is plump and ruddy faced, and he snaps out something in Afrikaans that Baptiste doesn’t understand, and then repeats it in English: “Who are you? Who sent you?”

Baptiste opens his mouth to answer, but the gun that the man pulls out has him firing his own weapon automatically. The man goes down with a squawk, and Baptiste moves quickly forward to check on him. He’s fast on his way to being dead, bleeding out rapidly through a perfectly aimed chest wound. Baptiste isn’t sure what it says about him that he’s feeling more satisfaction at the good shot than dismay at taking a life.

“Nguyen. Enemy contact,” he says, hand to his earpiece as Mauga and Sombra prowl around the office.

“Who was it?” comes the cold reply.

“Some old white man, in an office.” There’s a noise of triumph from Sombra, who has pushed a tapestry aside to reveal a high tech inset into the wall. “Looks like we found the safe, Sombra is on it.”

“Transmit a picture of the dead man.”

Baptiste blinks, but does as Nguyen asks as the man is in fact dead by this point. “Very good,” Nguyen says when he receives it, and Baptiste frowns to himself. Nguyen does not use words like ‘very good’, ever. Before he can think about it more, Sombra’s calling out, “Got it!”

“Sombra has the files from the safe,” Baptiste says over his com.

“Get out of there, before some silent alarm goes off,” Nguyen says, and he sounds almost uncaring that they’ve accomplished the main objective. Baptiste shakes his head to himself, before saying, “All right, let’s move out.”

They get out with no complications, but Baptiste isn’t happy. He can feel Mauga looking at him every once in awhile on their way back, but brushes him off at his one attempt to ask Baptiste what was bothering him. He’s quiet during dinner, quiet during drinks after at the bar, and quiet on the way back to headquarters.

Baptiste is tired. Somewhere deeper than in his body - in his soul, perhaps.

He takes a long, hot shower, glad that he’s been with Talon long enough to get quarters with his own bathroom. Getting dressed for bed is just a matter of throwing on a tattered, faded pair of Talon sweatpants, soft with years of use. He’s just pulling back the covers when there’s a knock at the door. Baptiste sighs, knowing that this was coming sooner or later.

Not bothering to put a shirt on, he opens the door to Mauga. He spares him a quick glance before waving him in, leaving him to shut the door. Baptiste tucks himself into the armchair in his small living room, Mauga taking his usual position on the loveseat, taking up the entirety of the space.

“You going to tell me what’s wrong, buddy?”

Baptiste sighs, picking at a loose thread on the knee of his pants. “I think it was an assassination,” he says finally.

There’s a pause before Mauga speaks. “What makes you say that?” He sounds curious, not disbelieving.

“Nguyen was happy - well, as happy as that man will ever get - at that white man I shot. And then he barely cared about the files from the safe. I heard him, saw him when Sombra handed them over. He didn’t give a shit about them. I wouldn’t be surprised if they ended up in the shredder.” He looks up at Mauga for the first time that evening, and he’s looking back with a steady gaze.

“I’m not here for that. I don’t - merde . I’m a medic. I defend and kill when I have to, but I don’t do these political killings so someone I don’t even know can keep their hands clean. That’s not what I signed up for. That’s not…” Baptiste isn’t sure what he wants to say. He’s in Talon, he’s not getting out. He - he isn’t sure if he could get out, even if he wanted to. Even so, it’s not the same group, the same missions as when they started years ago. Things have changed.

He says as much to Mauga, haltingly, awkwardly. Mauga listens, lets him get the words out. He wishes absently that Sombra could see this side of the man, that he isn’t just the savage on the battlefield.

Baptiste is prevented from saying something stupid from his tablet going off at his desk. Mauga’s tablet, tucked into his pocket, beeps right after. That means it’s some kind of order, and can’t be ignored. Baptiste gets up tiredly, taps on the screen. His back stiffens to read the words.

“No.”

“Baptiste -”

“No!” He whirls to face Mauga, eyes burning with anger and frustration. “They’re sending us to Port-au-Prince. I won’t go! You’ve seen the civilian casualties that Talon has been racking up lately, they care less and less about the destruction they cause. I won’t kill my countrymen!”

Mauga is on his feet, hands heavy on Baptiste’s shoulders. “Listen, buddy - did you read the orders? It’s just picking up a shipment of weapons from the port, that’s it.”

Baptiste tries to shake his hands off, but they’re too firm. “And the mission today was just supposed to be cracking a safe. Forgive me if I wonder at what’s actually going to happen.”

One huge hand moves up, tracing a thumb over Baptiste’s cheekbone. It’s - nice, really nice in fact, but Baptiste is angry right now and nice isn’t what he wants. He knocks Mauga’s hand away, succeeding in moving him only because of surprise. He glares up, dark furious brown meeting surprised tigers-eye orange. “Don’t coddle me.”

Mauga grins, teeth white and sharp with an edge that Baptiste craves right now. “All right,” he says, and then picks Baptiste up like he weighs nothing. Baptiste’s legs wrap around Mauga’s waist as he attacks Mauga’s grin with his mouth until it disappears into wet, sloppy heat. It’s not a pleasant kiss, full of teeth and tongues that are biting back angry words, but it’s what Baptiste needs right now. Mauga walks easily towards Baptiste’s bedroom, toeing his boots off on the way.

This late at night Mauga is as dressed down as Baptiste is, so once he sits on the bed it’s the work of moments to strip him out of his shirt and loose pants. The only thing separating their bodies are Baptiste’s sweat pants, and he can feel himself smearing his excitement against the inside as he rolls his hips against Mauga’s lap.

“Fuck me,” he says, one hand buried in Mauga’s hair with the other plucking at a dark nipple. Mauga raises a dark eyebrow.

“Not that I’m complaining, but you sure about that?” The skepticism in his voice is clear. It’s not arrogance - they both know what Mauga is packing.

In response Baptiste clambers off and tosses his pants aside. He roots around in his bedside drawer for a moment before setting a bottle of lube on the top and flopping back in bed. He stretches out, raising an eyebrow of his own at Mauga. The other man gives a slow, crooked smile, not his usual grin but something private just for Baptiste. Instead of reaching for the lube he slides up between Baptiste’s legs, gripping his thighs in his massive hands. He pushes up and leans down, and Baptiste lets out a soft, surprised noise as thumbs pull his cheeks apart.

Mauga’s long, clever tongue laps at soft, private skin, and Baptiste feels himself start to loosen. It’s good, so good, and Baptiste thinks foggily that it would be okay if Talon killed him tomorrow, if he gets to go out with the memory of this.

“Lube,” Mauga murmurs into his entrance, and Baptiste reaches over with unsteady hands to grab the bottle and pass it down. He barely notices the single large finger - bigger than two or three of Baptiste’s own - working its way into him because Mauga’s wide mouth is wrapped around him, sliding slowly down until his nose is buried in tight dark curls and Baptiste’s teeth are digging into his lip.

Baptiste tries to stifle the noises that he wants to let out - for all of Talon’s money, the walls here are surprisingly thin - but it’s hard when Mauga is working him open so patiently. He’s not gentle but rather deliberate, taking Baptiste apart with precision like he’s one of his guns. Eventually, right about when Baptiste is about to forgive Talon everything if he can just stay here for the next week or so, Mauga pulls back. Baptiste frowns, feeling empty and nowhere near fulfilled.

“Mauga -”

The huge man settles himself next to Baptiste, sitting and leaning back against the headboard. Baptiste is about to say something again when Mauga reaches over and just - lifts him up. Settles him on Mauga’s lap like a child. There’s nothing parental about the way Mauga is slicking himself up, however, jutting red and massive from between his thighs. For the first time, Baptiste feels some trepidation. “I -” he starts, but Mauga wraps his hands around Baptiste’s waist, hands spanning his hips perfectly as he positions him above Mauga’s cock.

They’re staring at each other, eye to eye. “I thought you didn’t want to be coddled,” Mauga says in a low purr. Baptiste reaches down without breaking the gaze, pulls down so Mauga is just barely at his entrance.

“I don’t.”

Mauga takes that as permission to start lowering Baptiste down, working him down onto him. And work it is: Baptiste’s body doesn’t want to give way, but slowly, slowly he sinks down. It’s gradual and painful - but isn’t that how it goes, on the way to the best things? After about half his length Mauga holds Baptiste up loosely, letting him pull himself down and control the pace. That’s how they work - even when he’s fighting mad, eyes red with bloodlust and fury, Mauga will protect Baptiste so Baptiste can in turn take care of him. It’s...them, just how they work.

An eternity later, Baptiste is settled, ass snug against Mauga’s balls. He breathes in deeply - or tries, to, at least. Even with all his medical training Baptiste is spaced out enough that he’s not sure if it’s all in his head or not that he can’t fully breathe with Mauga in him. He feels like his skin is too thin, like he can feel another heartbeat inside. It’s overwhelming until it’s not, and Baptiste settles into the sensation of being so full, so surrounded by another person.

At Baptiste’s shaky nod Mauga lifts him up easily, then pushes him back down. It’s slow at first, until muscles loosen and Baptiste gets numb to the stretch. Then it’s smooth - the two men working together here as easily as on the battlefield. Baptiste’s thigh muscles burn and then relax, working him up and down over Mauga.

It’s sudden, when it happens - one minute Baptiste is riding Mauga slowly, the next Mauga’s fingers are digging in to his hips hard enough to bruise down to the bone. He breathes deep and rough, and holds Baptiste so still that he can feel the twitching and pulsing inside of him. Mauga rests his heavy head against Baptiste’s collarbone, and Baptiste scratches his fingers through thick dark hair, damp with sweat.

Mauga eventually raises his head, eyes dark and satisfied. “Stay hard for me,” Baptiste murmurs, before lifting himself up and - oh, it’s so much easier, slicker now - lowering himself down. One hand is tight in Mauga’s hair and the other is tight on himself, and it’s only minutes later that Baptiste is shuddering through his own orgasm. When he slumps down Mauga wraps his arms around him, pulling Baptiste close and smearing his release between them, a filthy hug that’s surprisingly tender.

Baptiste pulls away after long minutes, reaching up to give Mauga a slow kiss before pulling himself carefully off. He can feel Mauga’s come dripping out of him, he’s closing up slowly after having been stretched wide for so long. In silence they clean up the best they can, though Baptiste is sure he’ll wake up with the remains of Mauga leaked out and sticky between his thighs.

Later, when it’s dark and quiet and Mauga is wrapped around Baptiste, his low rumble says, “I could knock you out, say you’re too injured to go on the mission.”

Baptiste laughs just a bit, quietly. “Thank you cher , but no. I think I’ll just claim illness.” Baptiste is rarely sick, never during his time in Talon, and knows it will probably be seen as the excuse it is. He’s good at what he does, though, and perhaps valuable enough that they’ll let it go.

He knows that people will be killed whether he’s there or not, and sticking his head in the sand won’t keep them alive. At least he can go to sleep knowing he won’t have their blood on his hands. At least he has that.

Despite knowing this, despite Mauga’s steady deep breaths behind him, it still takes a long time for Baptiste to fall asleep.

-x-x-x-x-x-

Baptiste runs through the streets of Monte Cristi, Mauga at his side. The Playa Cartel’s base is here somewhere, reportedly just a few streets ahead. When he had told Nguyen that he was too ill to go on the Port-au-Prince mission, the small, thin man had given him a long look. Fine , he had said. There’s another mission we could use you and Mauga for, on the northern side of the island. With a relieved nod Baptiste had accepted the mission, glad that he wouldn’t have to be fighting his own men.

On reflection, though, perhaps he should have been suspicious at how easily Nguyen had gone along with it.

Even as prepared as he was, even with Mauga with him, the mission just goes steadily downhill. The Cartel is gone, Fernández is nowhere to be seen. Cuerva has their squad - no one familiar, other than Mauga, Baptiste feels off kilter at the unfamiliar faces - go into houses, rousting the civilians from their beds. Baptiste does his best to make sure it’s not a stampede, that no one is getting hurt, finally standing in the town square with hands on his hips and Mauga at his side, watching the chaos with a frown.

It still feels...wrong, somehow. Wrong like some of their recent missions. Wrong like a pot of boiling water that he’s been lowered into and suddenly is realizing is cooking him alive. Wrong like -

A Talon jet screams across the sky, and Baptiste watches with wide eyes as the missiles drop, one falling onto a house he just saw a mother run into, calling out her daughter’s name.

Baptiste closes his eyes, and something in him breaks.