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‘Doug, are you alright?’

He shrugs and slides off the bonnet, hoping Hanson can’t see his eyes are wet. The guy isn't known for being too perceptive, so it isn’t exactly vain hope.

‘What do you care?’ he snits, knowing it’s childish, but not caring because dammit, it’s Tom. His partner, his buddy. Who is supposed to believe him when he tell him things that are important like when a cop's rotten. There might have even a point at which he believed him without prompting, just ‘cause he knew, because he was a friend and that was enough.

Doug gets into his car and fiddles with the ignition without waiting to hear what Tom’s response is. He's tired, and his head is killing him, and he just really kinda wants to get home to his sofa and his beer and not think for a bit. Though how he’s supposed to get the sound of the gunshot in the receiver out of his mind he’ll never know.

He flicks his wrist again and the car roars angrily into life and he might‘ve started to relax a bit at this point, except that Hanson opens the passenger door and slides into the leather seat before he can so much as put the gear in reverse. He sighs, frustration nudging the back of his neck.

‘Get out.’

Tom shakes his head.

‘Don’t make me throw you out on your tail.’

He means it, but the stubborn bastard isn’t listening. Or maybe he just doesn’t care, because he just shakes his head again, and stares determinedly at him.


Doug grinds his back teeth together. The frustration has wound itself around his head and down his spine and prickles like crushed metal under his skin. A long, deep breath doesn’t help, and his foot hits the accelerator with a vehemence that throws Tom forward so hard he cracks his wrist on the dashboard and curses.

It almost makes Doug feel better. Almost. Not much. He drives out of the parking lot, and he must be speeding or something because it makes a few of the medics and cops at the scene stop what they are doing to watch, but he doesn’t care, let them stare, let them book him, he’s had enough bad luck this week that it’d be almost funny. He smirks as he hits the curb and burns out onto the highway. The skin on his lips is dry, and cracked and tastes a little salty. He thinks maybe he got them sunburned, though he’s not really sure how or when.

‘Penhall, I’m sor-’

Before Tom can finish he leans over and switches on the radio, turning the volume as high as it will go. He’s so sick of that voice. If Tom is going to insist on being on the car then so be it, but it doesn’t mean he has to listen to his asinine pontificating for any period of time. He can stay in the car for ten years if he likes, but it is not going to make Doug forget.

Everything is different now.

Tom switches off the radio and tries again, but Doug flicks it back on almost instantly. He feels a bit like he’s on a family road trip to Pasadena and fighting with his little brother again and he’s kind of ashamed, but the gratification at the tight line of Tom’s mouth is worth it.

This time though, Tom is ready, and when the radio goes off, and Doug reaches for it, his arm is met with resistance. In fact, Hanson throws his arm back with such force that the car swerves a little, and Doug‘s elbow slams into the edge of the seat, the strange feeling of pain and numbness needling through the bone.

That pisses Doug right off. He hits the brakes this time, pulling into the gravel on the side of the road with a screeching howl that makes the car shudder. They stop with an uncomfortable jerk next to a nature reserve of some sort. A car behind them blares its horn, and that makes his ears ring. Or maybe they were ringing before and he didn’t realise, it doesn’t matter.

He’s really angry now, so angry his mind is static.

‘Screw you!’ he shouts, cradling his elbow. He’s glaring at Tom, and Tom is glaring back at him now, hands balled into righteous fists.

‘I’m sorry Doug!’ Tom yells, ‘I’m so very goddamn sorry, okay!?’

Tom bites his lip, shifting from angry to repentant. His breathing sounds kinda hollow in the inside of the car. Tom knits his brow for a bit, and then puts a tentative arm on Doug’s shoulder. ‘You don’t know how sorry. I should have believed you. I don‘t know why I-’

‘I slept with Judy,’ Doug interrupts. The furious lie out of his mouth almost involuntarily.

It has the desired effect. When Doug lifts his eyes again Tom looks as though someone's slammed him in the throat with the butt end of a gun. His face is colourless, he is blinking rapidly, and he keeps opening and shutting his mouth like a disoriented goldfish.

Doug usually has no trouble keeping his mouth shut in tense situations such as these, in fact he prides himself on it. But today is no usual day, or any kind of usual scenario, and the hurt on Tom’s face is making his less painful, so he just keeps going.

‘I don‘t know why you look so surprised, you didn’t believe me when I said I cared about you, did you?’

Doug is aware on some level that he has gone too far, but he’s on a roll now and the verbal punches are still coming. He is opening his mouth for another when Tom really does punch him. His fist hits Doug’s face with such force that his head smacks against the glass window and bounces back. He tastes blood, and when he refocuses his eyes Tom is already out of the car and storming blindly into the scrub.

Clutching his head, cursing, and with a whole new burst of rage rushing out over and burning his skin, he moves swiftly out of the car after him. Tom obviously hasn’t expected him to follow, and only realises at the last moment, and with moderate alarm, that Doug is there. He begins to bring his hands up but Doug’s hand snaps across fine cheekbones, and Tom stumbles backward. Doug spits out blood, and watches as Tom regains his balance and inevitable anger.

He’s ready for the charge, but not really ready for the strength behind it.

They hit the ground in a tangle of limbs and brush. Leaves, and bits of dirt flying around them as they scrap. Doug thumps Tom with his arms, Tom kicks out and rolls sideways. A knee hits stomach and someone yelps. Tom bites his shoulder and Doug pulls him away by the hair. A splayed hand pushing across his face stops, then abruptly softens, and Doug pulls at the nape of Tom’s neck and teeth knock his before his lips do. What is left of Doug’s breath being drained out of him as Tom’s mouth presses down brutally, nipping, kneading, wet lips more demanding than pleasurable. The heat sends familiar spasms through his lower abdomen, and he’s giving like he’s taking, fighting Tom, tasting him, and blood and wet salt, fury and something else.

Tom pulls away just as abruptly as he began, wipes at the dirt on his face, straightens his shirt, and storms back to the car.

‘I hate you,’ he says when Doug slips back into the driver's seat.

Doug doesn’t entirely believe him.