His fists hit the punching bag in even rhythm. Three after every inhale, two for every exhale.
The material is starting to go soft, battered fabric peeling into the ground with every punch. It’s alright, he’ll trade another pair with Paddy next week in exchange of the pocket knife he ran into a couple of days ago.
He inhales once more, punches three times, and holds his breath in until the stretch of his lungs is too much to bear.
The faces of the fucking bastards who managed to capture Bones flash on the back of his mind. He translates them over the shiny, leather surface and throws the final two punches, chain successfully breaking from the ceiling handle.
As the contents spill on the floor, he works on regaining his breath back, mind now filling with memories about how Bones and company became a part of his life.
He wakes up to a dry throat and groggy eyes, dizziness settling somewhere on the back of his mind.
It only gets worse when he tries to sit up, room going for a couple of spins until it finally stops but doesn’t settle right, not until he gives his head a couple of shakes.
Liam’s at the main room once he makes it out a few minutes later, stomach heavy with nausea. He’s hunched over some blueprints with Harry and Louis doing some silly no-arm boxing in the background so there’s only one absence Bones asks about.
“In the training room,” Liam replies, not looking up from his notes. “I wouldn’t go in if I were you.”
The room goes awfully quiet, Fuse letting his arms down to add, “He was at the punching bag a couple of hours ago. Heard some chains falling to the ground not long after that. Not sure which one gave up first, though.”
Bones swallows, feels his eyes widen at their own accord. There’s not much he’s afraid of anymore, all innocence ripped away from him since the tender age of seven, but a pissed off Ghost is not a sight he wants to encounter right now. He feels his skin buzz with something between anxiousness and fear mixed up with the painkillers running through his blood system, so he sits next to Liam, tries to focus on the white lettering over blue but it all ends up blurring together and his head hitting the back of the battered couch they’re sitting in, knocked out cold from the world for the next hour.
When his senses return, Liam and Harry are gone and only Louis sits beside him, quietly chuckling to himself, red piece of plastic poking out of his ear. He must be listening to Grimm’s forbidden podcast, Bones figures.
“He’s still alive,” Fuse states when Bones’ eyes threaten to blow a hole into the left side of his face. “Did some recon a while ago. The bouncing balls were a dead giveaway.”
“How long was I out?”
Louis hums. “Just now? About an hour. Earlier than that? I think two, maybe three. Poor deer was starting to get worried you’d died from that concussion but once his fingertips felt your pulse, he was alright.”
That means Ghost has been exhausting himself into oblivion for the last four hours at least. They have an attack in less than 48 of those. They can’t afford this.
Bones nods and gets up, walks up to the path Liam warned him not to go in, making a detour to Harry’s room first to give him a hair ruffle and a pat on the cheek for his concern.
He merely looks up and smiles, green eyes open wide.
A grin splits across Bones’ face. The nickname absolutely suits him.
He cradles his right arm to his chest and pushes the door open with his shoulder, bandage heavy under his fingers. At least he didn’t break his left side, means he’ll be able to do mindless shit like feed himself and write down strategic notes with Liam, and not be an useless lump like the last time.
The punching bag lying on the floor greets him when the metal slides open, couple of worn mittens next to it. Halves of tennis balls sit scattered around and the usual swoosh of a sharp blade cutting through air reaches his ears.
He stays where he stands, feet unmoving. Any kind of subspace is hard to reach these days but Ghost pulls it off easier than any of them, defeating Harry and his constant yoga practice, and whenever he’s into it, it’s better to stay off his path; a lesson learned after a particular training session gone wrong. Not horrifically, but still bad enough. Braveheart sports a scar at the juncture of his neck, down to his collarbone, that Ghost still hasn’t forgiven himself about.
He had been too inside, too killing machine and not enough human, and while he never intends to kill, only to inflict the most possible damage with the least physical effort, he had barely pulled back in time before slicing Liam’s jugular in half or chopping his head off altogether. After that, he had shut himself for a week, not sleeping and barely eating despite Liam’s extensive statements that it was all good and how it was his fault for walking into his training by surprise.
Bones refuses to go through that again with another mission looming in the horizon, so he steps inside and quietly shuts the door closed, encased in complete darkness except for the dim moonlight peering through the broken glass panels of the window and the shine of the white skull covering Ghost’s mouth as he moves through the room, picking up balls and throwing them aimlessly against the walls with enough force to make them bounce only once before they fall to the ground, neatly sliced in halves.
He watches, enthralled, until the balls run out. His fascination for Ghost has always been there, even before they met, but it flutters stronger when he sees him like this, stunning and deadly in a semi-dark room, powerful enough to kill several people at once with only a sway of his blade.
Bones wonders what it must be like to live like that, to hold such power and never use it when emotions dictate so, when that tiny, dark voice in the back of his mind is yelling for him to make them pay, all the sick bastards who take innocent children off the streets to turn them into prostitutes like they did with Bambi a few years back and run disgusting oppression methods just to keep the city pressed under their thumb. He goes with whatever he’s feeling, always has, no remorse. He doesn’t know shit about holding back, never has needed to do so, and that only adds up to his fascination with the person now standing before him.
There’s a cloud passing by shielding away the light but he still knows Ghost is there, feels his ragged breath standing three inches further than it should be. They’ve done this plenty of times, and not all precisely for training, so he takes the last step forward needed and closes the distance, cold breath fogging up against the cloth separating Zayn’s mouth from his.
When the light comes back up there’s still an edge of a rage not entirely worn off covering Zayn’s body from head to toe, but his eyes soften when they meet Niall’s, so Bones takes it as a good sign and slides the bandanna off, examines his face entirely.
A million reprimands go through his head, reminders of a mission in two days and complaints about him refusing to go through all that angsty shit again because the world they live in is shitty enough as it is, no need to make it worse, but the thing is, he understands. He understands what it’s like to feel you’ve failed to protect the ones you care about, to let the team down. Bones started this whole thing on his own and Braveheart is the one usually discussing strategies with him but Ghost is co-pilot, rose to the position effortlessly since the day he joined the team, much to Fuse’s ego’s dismay. He understands and can almost guess what went through Ghost’s head the moment he was down for the count, the crossed loyalty between going back to rescue him or take the others to safety since he was in charge now.
His tongue is slipping past Ghost’s lips before he finishes that train of thought, pleased noise rumbling on the back of his throat when Ghost opens up easily, trusting, melting into it with a hand wrapped around the back of Bones’ neck as if he’s afraid Niall will disappear between one press of lips and the next.
He sneaks his hand down and releases the tight grip a set of fingers have over the hold of the katana, keeping the weapon in his own hand as his other puts an index over Ghost’s lips to keep his words from coming out and leads him out of the room. His right arm complains about being stretched for too long, holding the weight of the weapon uncomfortably until he releases it on top of the messy pile of clothes in a corner of their bedroom, other hand pulling Zayn onto the bed where he keeps on kissing him until he’s no longer rough edges of anger and self-deprecation, just soft skin and bones that melt and shiver under his every touch.