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Thread Contributor: Robert WasemWhat We're Not Saying
DC-TV-1

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#41
“It’s my job to make sure you live.” Safi rested his head on Chris’s “Because...it hurts to think about a life where I don’t get to open an overflowing fridge in the middle of the night. Or argue fondant and lilac vs purple on silver is the better accent color. You know that right?” That I can’t say I love you. Because he’d realized that today, that Chris meant more to him than just a friend. And maybe had for longer than Safi realized.

But all the reasons why he’d turned away from Chris feelings before still stood.
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#42
Safi would never know how much Christian hated being called a job. Like he was work. Like it was just another responsibility, to keep him breathing. Chris didn’t exactly crumple at the words, but he shrunk slightly, his voice regaining just a hint of strength as it grew just a touch dry with unamused wit and careful distance. “Well, of course you don’t want that. No one likes waking up to an empty fridge, and you obviously need help with color schemes or you’d just always wear black and black and maybe accent it with a little bit of white.”

Christian could say the words, and if he ever did, he’d know he would mean them wholeheartedly. He very carefully didn’t say them, though. He carefully didn’t even think them; if he did something stupid like that, he had realized months ago that it was very possible that Safi would leave, if not physically, then at least emotionally, and Christian didn’t want that. He wasn’t sure he could live that way; it was easier to pretend that they were just friends, that this was enough than to face the hard truth.

Besides, Safi had Tony, and Christian wasn’t going to jeopardize that. Closing his eyes against the thoughts and feelings that nugget of knowledge brought up, Chris gave a soft sigh, contenting himself with this, because at least he had this. It could be enough.
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#43
Safi struggled with English sometimes, most often it seemed with Chris because he didn’t seem to have half the misunderstandings as he did with anyone else as he did with the tiny fashion conscious man next to him.

But this time- “No. And if it was because you were dead-“ his voice actually hitched on the word, catching as he forced it out. “I want you to understand this. That you are important to me. You know this right?” Because he didn’t invite just anyone into his home, his life. Yes, he was a paid bodyguard but CHRIS wasn’t his boss! He took care of the smaller man in the ways he could because even months ago he’d been special to him.
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#44
Chris worked to make sure he understood Safi most of the time. When Safi said something difficult to figure out, Chris either spent more time on it to make sure the language was correct or just out and out asked Safi for clarification. But sometimes the man said things that made perfect sense, they just weren’t the things that Christian knew he wanted Safi to say, and holding him to that, guessing and clarifying what was already very clear, that wouldn’t be fair to the bodyguard.

The hitch in Safi’s voice had Christian’s eyes opening and the smaller man looking up at him, frowning with concern. Carefully, Christian wrapped his arms around Safi’s waist in an untraditional but comfortable hug, leaning against the larger man more on purpose now than he’d done before, “I’m very alive, Safi. Most of the time, that’s thanks in no small part to you.” Chris knew it was the truth, knew that if it weren’t for Safi, he would be hurt or worse far, far more often than he was. “You’re important to me, too.” He put the depth of his feelings into that simple sentence, unable to say what he wanted to say, how he really felt for fear of chasing Safi away, but able to say it like this and to mean it, “You protect me, I feed you, it’s a good thing we have.” It was as close to saying that he cooked for the man because he loved him as Christian had ever come, but it seemed the right time and way to say it.
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#45
“It is a good thing.” Safi turned into Chris, shifting to face him, “I am sorry.” Sorry that he wasn’t right for him, sorry that he couldn’t be the man he needed him to be. Sorry that he was too freshly broken to give Chris what he deserved.

His mouth actually pulled into a dark unfunny half smile as the thought came to him that maybe there was a version of them where it worked out. But considering the track records of their look-alikes, he doubted it.

“I think maybe this is cursed you know?” He stroked his thumb over Chris’s cheek. “So many versions of us….and we are the closest to happy.” Too close to the truth, letting it spill into the open, the intimacy, urgency of coming down from near death had him being far far more open than he had allowed himself to be.

“I wish I could take care of you better…” because soon Chris would outclass Safi, his magic making the soldier obsolete. Which was good...but meant that Safi became useless.
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#46
Safi went from agreeing with him to… Apologizing? Chris blinked at the sudden change, and the apology itself, confused. He wasn’t sure what, if anything, he was expected to say to that. And then he lost that entire train of thought when Safi gave that unhappy smile before reaching out to touch Chris.

What had they been apologizing for? Christian did not know, and honestly, he didn’t care. He tipped his head into the caress, brown eyes watching the other man almost lazily, he murmured, “I’m happy.” And the thing was, it wasn’t even a lie, wasn’t even a misspoken truth. Christian was happier now than he’d been the majority of his life. He had his sister, he had a good job and a hobby (magic!) that he loved, a place where he fit in better than he’d ever had in the past, and he had Safi. The last, he knew, was a significant piece of his happiness, even if he wanted more, even if he knew that he couldn’t have that, he was happier than he’d been, and that was good.

Take care of him better? “Safi, you’re the best… There’s no one who could be better.” He had met Iron Man and Captain America, his heroes, and he spoke the absolute truth now; there was no one would could or would take better care of him than Safi Wasem. Yes, Christian’s magic was growing, and quickly, his knowledge of it beginning to finally fill in, but Safi was still the protection that Christian sought out, still the needle pointing north for the magician.
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#47
His mouth quirked up, yet his eyes remained sad; tonight he felt the years between them acutely. Chris was young, optimistic, and believed in Safi with the wholehearted faith of the young.

What could he say to that? “Ok.” He bumped his forehead against Chris’s turning back to the TV and letting that lull them back to equilibrium.
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DC-DCTVU-1

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#48
Five years. They were five years apart. That wasn’t so much! Christian was an optimist because he chose to be because he wanted to believe that people could be better, that the world could get better. He believed in Safi because Safi was good because putting your faith in people was as important as putting your faith in God.

Safi’s agreement with his words earned a delighted smile from Chris, and when Safi turned back to the TV, Chris didn’t pull away to his previous position, instead just stay close, leaning against the larger man while they returned their attention to the show they were watching.

*******

The Hulk was every bit as huge as the comics had indicated he was. He was giant and green and old and angry, and looking at him, at the man whose neck Bucky had snapped, there was no Bruce Banner left in the depths of that mind to calm the beast back down. Terror washed over Christian as he watched Safi climb and leap up broken and crumbling pieces of the building they stood inside to finally make it to the monstrosity that was even then roaring at the rest of them.

This wasn’t good. This was… Bad. Very, very bad. He tried to yell out a warning, to tell Safi not to do what he so clearly meant to do, but there was no time. Safi went flying as the behemoth swatted him like a fly, just a minor annoyance, not even worth his true attention, and Christian screamed now just as he had then, “No, no no!”

He sat up reaching forward, his breath catching as he all but fell out of bed, feet catching the floor as he bolted out of it. Safi! The single word was a panicked mantra in head mind, his gait picking up speed as he tore from his room to where Safi should be, would be, if he were there, if he were alright.

It was just a dream. It had to be just a dream. Safi hadn’t fallen so quickly, so violently to the floor yesterday, he had drifted down, light as a feather, to be caught by green light and lowered gently to where Chris had been waiting and watching, his stomach caught in his throat. Chris opened the door almost gently, closing it with a click behind him as he sought out the sleeping mind with wide, wild eyes, “Safi.” the word was rough and thick, not from sleep, but from panic, from a desperate need to know he was okay, Chris reached out to brush his fingers against Safi’s shoulder, reassuring himself that this was, real, Safi was okay, he’d just had a nightmare.
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#49
The mind couldn’t remember pain.

That’s what they told him; your mind wasn’t able to process the conscious memory of it. But your imagination remembered. Trauma victims when trying to recount their stories had fragmented recollections, sometimes substituting scenes from movies or books for the ‘blank’ spots.

Intellectually Safi knew what had been done to him during those twenty-two days, he read the reports from the other survivors, he’d seen Sam’s body-(even in death there was no dignity for h-)

He’d spent his months in counseling, convinced everyone even himself that he was mission ready.

He’d told Chris it has been the company Magi that had showed him the blood glyph to recharge a magus.

That was a lie.

Simon had only explained what the scars meant, running his hand above the skin, smoothing the marks away. Safi remembered the almost sympathy in the cold man’s gaze.

’It Marks you’

Safi had filled in the blanks, ‘-as a victim’.

Twenty-two days.

Sam had gone first, they much preferred her for their magic. When she was used up he’d Volunteered the marks on Sam told the story of what was going to happen viscerally clear.

It was a simple choice: submit and his men got fed. Don’t and they used them up anyway.

He learned in twenty two days all the ways dark magic was fueled.

Simon had told him (later so much later when new bars on his shoulders meant to soothe the sting sat proudly) that Safi was ‘special’, his body held more of that they used than normal, that he regenerate faster, that the pain he’d endured as a child had changed his innate capacity, his voice slithering along Safi’s nerves.

Safi stopped talking to Simon out side of missions.

The dead men still fighting, forced beyond humanity, tendrils of metal instead of scarlet threaded power holding them up like puppets-

hoarse guttural moans escaped through clenched teeth, sweat soaked sheets clenched in fists, Safi’s mind expertly placed HIM in the suit, it was his arm that aimed at Chris, it was his mind screaming against unconquerable force. It was him standing on a pile of corpses wearing the faces of his friends.

’Safi’

The call of his name had the nightmare riddled soldier half awakening, gun in hand pointing at the ‘threat’ with unseeing eyes, trapped in his own hell.
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#50
There were nights where Christian preferred to try to just not sleep. Everyone had bad dreams, and night terrors, even in adults, weren’t so uncommon that they were unheard of. Hub had launched Christian into a series of nights where he hadn’t slept well; most nights were fine, others found him in Tony’s kitchen, making food by rote, seeking the soothing comfort of familiarity. Most times, it helped. Tonight? Tonight, Christian had come seeking the one person that could chase the nightmare away entirely; looking for reassurance that what he’d dreamt, what he’d seen in his mind’s eye, was a lie and that Safi was sleeping just across the hall like usual.

He liked Hub, it was a wondrous place, but there were things about it that were absolutely terrifying. He hadn’t snuck into Safi’s room in the past, knowing that Safi was fine because in Hub Christian hadn’t seen Safi in true danger, hadn’t watched him nearly die more than one time in a single day. Hell, in a single afternoon. Today, Christian had witnessed exactly that, and it had shaken him. Tonight, he slipped into Safi’s room, only to reassure himself that Safi was okay.

Safi was not okay.

Strong and steady, that was how Chris knew the older man. A rock in troubled waters. Tonight, Christian recognized what he saw; nightmares were familiar, nightmares were something he could understand. Even seeing that Safi was having a nightmare, Christian never expected the gun. Even when the gun jolted into place, leveled at him by this man not even for the first time that day, the tired magician didn’t flinch or falter. “Safi? It’s okay, it’s just me.”
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#51
Blood draining from his body, running over his skin in sticky rivulets, knives carving into his skin, flesh shoved between lips, gagging on sweat, blood, thicker things. Chris, Jimmy, Sarah, Hadam laying under his metal shod foot.

He couldn’t see for the blood, wet stinging in his eyes, salty even if the red film was missing.

His name again jerking his head up His lips pulled back into a snarl, no recognition in them Safi sprang to his feet hand tightening around the Magi’s throat. “How does it feel to be the victim now?” The harsh syllables of his first language highlighted the gun he dug into the man’s temple. “Not your toy now.”
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#52
Safi was really not okay.

Gun or no gun, Christian wasn’t afraid of Safi. Safi was safe; he always had been, even before the bodyguard had decided to like him (for whatever reason that decision had come to be, Christian was eternally grateful for it) the man had done what he could to make sure that Christian was okay.

When Safi grabbed him by the throat, Chris was surprised, his eyes going wide, but he wasn’t actually afraid, not really. Never of Safi. That lack of fear didn’t keep Chris from reaching up instinctively to grab hold of Safi’s arm, the unfamiliar words coming from the larger man earning a frown. Safi rarely spoke Hebrew, at least around Chris. Sure, the fact of the matter was that English wasn’t Safi’s first or even second (which was impressive in and of itself!) language, but the man spoke it well, and while he sometimes made a mistake here and there, Christian rarely really considered the language barrier that existed, that had to exist. But tonight, the rough gravelly words Safi spoke were foreign, and Christian strained to understand.

Tomorrow (he refused to consider that he might not make it to tomorrow, not with the way the gun dug into his temple; this was Safi, he would see the morning) he would start learning Hebrew. And then he would learn Arabic, and Russian, and Korean. Maybe Korean before Russian, then he could order food the next time they went for Korean and karaoke…

For now, though, if he wanted to understand Safi, he’d need magic. He was so tired, so drained, but Safi’s words were meaningless unless Chris managed to figure out a way to translate… His eyes went to Safi’s mouth and it was all that Christian could do to suppress a whimper; he wasn’t sure Safi would understand him if he spoke, he was pretty sure Safi didn’t recognize him…

Slowly, cautiously, looking Safi in the eyes, his own brown ones wide open, he told Safi, “I trust you. You won’t hurt me, Safi. You always protect me. It’s me. It’s Christian,” he tried to remind Safi, “Annoying, unintentionally offensive PA at LexCorp, remember?” His fingers twitched on Safi’s arm as he dragged in as deep a breath as he could, “I called you Sophie...because…” tears spilled down his cheeks as he remembered, his voice fading into almost nothing, “Please remember me…”
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#53
He should have been frightened. Regardless of how Safi felt about him at that moment Safi don’t know who he was and that made all the difference.

His hand tightened on Chris’s throat-

’Sophie’

That stupid simple willful mispronunciation of his name was what jolted him back to reality. “Chris?” The name was a confused whisper as reality returned to blue eyes, his hand spasming off the smaller man’s neck before it could do damage.

“Wh-“ the sentence never finished as the other man jumped away with a hoarse cry realizing what position they were in. What he was doing-

“Oh god what??” Safi popped the clip letting it clatter to the floor, jacking the slide to clear the chamber. “I-“ Safi dropped to his knees helpless as the full implications of what he’d done penetrated.

There was no way to atone for nearly blowing someone’s brains out, especially when he’d been still dreaming.

“I’m sorry.” The words had to be said even if they could fix nothing. Chris deserved to hear them.
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#54
Maybe it was foolish to trust anyone as much as Christian trusted Safi. Maybe it was unwise that even as Safi held him by the throat and made it hard to breathe, Christian had faith that it would be fine, that Safi wouldn’t really hurt him, nightmare or no.

The tears weren’t born of fear, though. It hurt, to see Safi so wounded, to think that Safi didn’t see him, didn’t recognize him. Hearing his name, Christian blinked and smiled, “There you are.” It was relief that colored the smile, the realization that yes, Safi was going to be okay, that he was himself (his current self, Christian knew the difference) again.

The way the small magician looked at it, Safi hadn’t nearly shot him. Safi had responded to a threat in the middle of a night, and once he had realized that it wasn’t a threat but just Chris, he had let it go. All it had taken was to use the silly nickname that Christian had stopped using months ago because it annoyed Safi to snap the man out of his nightmare. Huh. That name must have really bothered him…

But right now, Christian’s focus was on the man who just a moment ago had been threatening him and who was now collapsed on the floor. He moved immediately, kneeling in front of Safi and moving to hug him, “It’s okay. You’re okay. You were asleep, but you’re awake now.” The embrace wasn’t entirely altruistic; it soothed Christian as much as it was meant to soothe Safi, reminding him that yes, Safi was alive and safe and they were home and it was okay while also meaning to tell Safi much the same things, as well as the fact that Chris was there for him. “It’s okay.”
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#55
The empty gun lay next to his splayed hand, holding him up while Safi tried to remember how to breathe, shifting backwards out of reach, he didn’t-couldn’t take the comfort/absolution Chris was offering.
he almost killed him

“No its not!” light strands slid between his fingers tugging, pulling, ripped from his skull; HE wasn’t ok by a long shot, how the hell could Chris be?! “You aren’t safe.” He had to understand that. Safi couldn’t protect Chris from himself, hell he could hardly protect him from the threats they now faced going through the damn closet door!

“I can’t keep you safe!”
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#56
How could Chris be okay? Because he had dreamed of the worst thing that his mind and heart could come up with, and it hadn't happened. Because as long as that held true, then he could handle whatever else came. Because it meant that Safi was alive.

When Safi shifted away from him, Christian reeled backwards faster than Safi had ever seen him move; it was easy to forget that the man was in excellent shape, that he took care of his body, keeping himself better than fit. It was easy to see him as soft and weak, but he wasn’t. The younger man all but fell back, flinching bodily at the rejection even as he worked to regain his bearings, to school himself back to the calm, meek figure he always presented.

Only once he had done so Christian flinched again, fingers twitching as though to stop Safi from hurting himself, only to be forcibly reminded that the man didn’t want to be touched. Being told he wasn’t safe… Christian blinked, looking at Safi in confusion for a moment, pain filling his eyes as he looked away. He hadn’t understood the words Safi had spoken while he’d still been asleep, but Christian wasn’t an idiot; he knew hatred and fear when he saw it, when he heard it. Safi hated magic, hated magicians, but Christian had never, not for a single moment, believed that Safi could hate him. Not really.

The pain drained away into frustration and even anger when Safi pronounced that he couldn’t keep Christian safe. The mage’s hands clenched and he ground out, “No one can keep anyone else completely safe, Safi! No matter how much we’d like, we can’t! We’re only human!” He sucked in a deep breath, his voice thicker than usual but still strong and clear if a little hoarse, “Belle was shot. She was kidnapped. I almost… You nearly died in that world!” And did Safi even realize how sick that thought made Christian? Chris rocked forward, pointing at the bodyguard, “It’s not just you working to protect someone here, Safi!” That had been the reason he’d crept into this room in the first place, after all. Chris reached up to rub his face, to wipe away the tears before they completely dried on his face, “And I’ll have you know that this is the safest I’ve ever been, even as a kid.” When had been the last time he’d been mugged or beat up? Since before Safi had come into his life and started following him around, becoming his shadow, his personal bodyguard… Since that last time in Gotham... It was a record for him. “Thanks to you.”
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#57
Good. Good that he flinched away. Maybe Chris was finally using his long absent self preservation instinct, finally seeing Safi for the threat that he truly was.

It still ripped him up to see it.

The sudden movement echoed, his body moved faster than he could think, still on war footing, reacting to the potential threat..bounding to his feet, bracing himself on the door frame, Safi managed to redirect the motion.

“I know demons! Magic! I can defend, fight that! I know the rules of engagement!” Safi’s fist impacted against the wooden frame. “Other worlds? Gods? What the fuck am I supposed to do with that?! Tag along and pretend I can help?!” Safi shook his head, “Better me than you and I can't even promise THAT much anymore!”

His head hung low, “I’m glad. But you have to know it’s a lie. I’ve got nothing on these forces. I can’t pretend to have your back, because I don’t know what’s coming next.”

“I care too much about you to be helpless.” he whispered.
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#58
No, Christian didn’t see Safi as a threat. The man really didn’t understand… Safi couldn’t be a threat because any harm he might do to Christian? Christian would allow him to do it. Safi would never be met with a shield, not if Christian could help it. He wouldn’t harm the other man, not even passively, not even by simply allowing Safi’s own violence to be redirected back onto him.

Safi stood and ranted about demons and magic, about the endless worlds on the other end of the portal and all the infinite possibilities and angers those worlds brought with them, and Christian frowned. “Pretend?” Christian looked up at Safi, shaking his head, “I have watched you nearly destroy a demon, watched you hurt yourself, to protect me.” The way his lips twisted with the words showed just how Christian felt about that. “You don’t pretend, Safi. You really, actually, do help!” How else would Chris have managed this long, in either world?!

The thud of Safi’s fist against the doorframe earned him a start from the smaller man, but that only seemed to fuel the heat in his words as he stood to face the bodyguard. “It’s not a lie. I don’t lie, not if I can help it.” Chris nearly spit the words out, “So what? I’m supposed to… What? Let you jump in front of men with guns?? Watch you climb up a Hulk to shoot him in the neck, knowing damn well it’s suicide and…” Chris shuddered at the memory, not just the real one, but the memory of the nightmare that had sent him booking across the apartment to make sure that Safi was really okay, “And what? Just let you do it?? Watch you DIE?! Or be sitting here wondering if you’re coming back this time because heaven forbid my fragile, useless self get a papercut?!” He was exaggerating, but he was upset!

Safi cared too much about him to be helpless… “How do you think I feel?!?” He didn’t mean to yell the words, but… Safi insisted on being the one to take the risk of getting hurt, to protect Chris. And Christian was meant to just accept that? To let Safi take all the risks and do nothing? Christian knew precisely how he felt about the other man; he already had to accept the relationship Safi had chosen for himself, to be forced to accept Safi’s insistence of putting himself in harm’s way while telling Chris that he couldn’t? It was too much. “You wouldn’t ask Tony to do this, Safi! You wouldn’t ask him to stand back and stay safe, to just be protected!”
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#59
“I would if I loved him like I do you!” Safi shouted the words not really hearing himself, “You think I’d let anyone I love into danger without worrying about them every second? Without tearing myself apart to protect them!?”
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#60
It was rare for Christian to be this angry, to get so worked up that he shouted and ranted and scolded. It was even more rare for the smaller man to get so riled that he nearly lost control of his tongue entirely and nearly said things that would get him into trouble, at least when it came to those few certain things and words that would put his careful, tentative relationship with the bodyguard at risk. And yet here he was, very nearly admitting to things that he would much prefer remain hidden and silent.

And then Safi opened his mouth and spoke words that took Christian’s legs out from under him.

Literally.

The small man sat down, hard, on the ground, eyes wide, jaw working though no sound escaped him. Suddenly the magician looked every bit as vulnerable and lost as he had just a few hours before, if for different reasons. “...You…?”
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