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this house doesn't burn down slowly

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Phil has gotten pretty used to people chirping him, from his overwhelming love of baked goods and fear of flying to his inability to properly upload pictures to Twitter. But what people seem to love teasing him about the most lately is his living situation. Phil's not exactly sure why the media decided to latch onto the fact that he and Bozie share Phil's place in Toronto. God knows they’ve written plenty of bullshit non-stories in the past, about stuff from his weight and how awkward he is, to how no one in Boston liked him. He knows why his teammates have latched onto it: they're fucking assholes who like to tease Bozie about being a cheap bastard and Phil being a lonely motherfucker, but the press -- they just eat it up. And yeah, it’s nicer than their previous jabs at him, but it’s still fucking annoying.

Phil's used to each of them getting asked about their roommate status, but then Reemer texts him to say he just had to talk about their ‘co-dependent living situation’ in his own one-on-one interview.

Phil half-heartedly chirps him back and then goes to make dinner while Bozie fucks around on twitter.

"Did you know Reemer was asked about us living together?"

"Huh?" Bozie says absently from his spot at the island before looking up from his screen. "Oh, yeah," he continues, easy as anything. "That was fucking hilarious."

Phil hums and says nothing.

It becomes Bozie's new favorite thing -- the media's ridiculous interest in their shared living space, which is probably why he tweets that no wonder rent is free after Phil signs his contract. Phil's a little too keyed up just over being locked in, with Bozie having signed only a few months earlier, not to mention opening night of the season, to really examine the tweets until he's back in his hotel room after the game that night. He scrolls through his feed, coming across them and just pauses. Bozie's excitement is almost palpable, and it makes Phil's face do some pretty spectacular things.

He shakes it off and turns on TSN, only to find his player pic in a box on screen next to Duthie's face as he talks about Phil's contract and what it means for the organization.

And then suddenly they're cutting to Bozie being asked, "No rent for you now, eh?" and Bozie responding, completely serious, "Oh, definitely not now, no. Absolutely not."

It does something weird to Phil's stomach -- like butterflies or something and that's totally moronic. The thing is, Phil wasn't really sure they'd still live together this year. There's honestly no reason to -- there wasn't really ever a reason to. They're professional, adult hockey players. But then the rest of the summer passed with a slew of text messages and pictures of caught fish and birdies on the golf course and Stella updates, and neither of them said anything about Bozie moving out. Bozie showed up on his doorstep a few days before training camp with two suitcases and a dog bone for Stella, and Phil had let him in with a backslapping hug and a ruffle to his stupid, spiked hair, and that had been that.

___________________

Reemer decided to embarrass Phil by tweeting that Dumb & Dumber clip, which naturally Bozie had to retweet.

“Really, guys?” Phil says when he sees them the next day and they both shrug.

“You’re earning the big bucks now, Phil. You can handle it.”

Phil scoffs and goes to get some damn food from the buffet line. He hears Loops call Reemer over to him and watches curiously as he talks to him, a little intensely. Then he pats him on the shoulder.

Reemer joins him in line.

“What was that about?” Phil nods in Lupul’s direction.

Reemer shrugs. “Nothin’. Hey, sorry man, about making a big thing about that, before.”

Phil squints. “Um. Okay?”

“Cause, you know, shouldn’t have been treating you differently or making a big deal about the dough.”

“Uh, you weren’t?”

Reemer looks serious though. “I’m just saying -- you know. You’re all sensitive and shit, Phil. And I know he’s your buddy and all but don’t let Bozie -- or, you know, anyone -- take advantage of you, okay?”

Phil’s forehead hurts from how close his eyebrows are knit together right now. “Take advantage?” he squeaks. “Am I his prom date or something, Dad?”

Reemer slugs him on the shoulder. “Just think about it,” he says, before heading off for coffee.

Phil looks to where Bozie is piling some eggs onto his plate, blissfully unaware that Phil's being treated like he’s some precious thing by his teammates. It’d be sweet if it weren’t ridiculous, not to mention both incredibly confusing and incredibly embarrassing. Phil really fucking hates when people focus on him, and while chirps are a part of hockey that he needs to live with, he hates the opposite end of it, too; can barely stand it when he’s under the microscope for anything good he’s done. Not to mention he can totally take care of himself and he doesn’t need his teammates hemming and hawing after him.

He’s able to forget about the weirdness for a bit when Bozie suggests they go out for Philly cheesesteaks before the game because, as Bozie says, “One, we’re in Philly. Two, it’s your birthday, and three, your name is Phil.”

Phil laughs at him, but still he goes along with it. “I’m throwing you under the bus if we get end up getting cramps during the game, though,” he says, after he’s finished stuffing his face.

“You’re no friend of mine,” Bozie says, hip-checking him lightly.

They’re walking along downtown Philly and it’s nice, just taking in area. Bozie actually ended up footing the bill, too.

“I’m not really sure this is what your dad had in mind when he told you to treat me to a nice dinner.”

Bozie scoffs. “Whatever, he knows I’m a cheap bastard.”

Phil feels his smile tighten, everything from earlier flooding back. Bozie seems oblivious, just smiling at Phil brightly and bumping their shoulders together. Still, Phil’s thinking about it now.
______________________

Phil continues to think about it. He thinks about it when they’re winning, thinks about it when they’re losing, thinks about it when they’re at home, thinks about it when they’re on the road. The guys have stopped the onslaught of teasing about Phil rolling in the dough and Bozie being a mooch, but Phil’s beginning to think it’s because they really actually do think he’s a mooch. And that Phil’s some poor victim of Bozie’s mooching. And that he needs rescuing or something.

Hell, even Bozie’s dad is in on it. Phil knows his comment was just in jest but still -- the fact that everyone sees their dynamic as two dudes who live together while one sponges off the other is just -- weird. Phil’s fully aware that he’s awkward at the best of times, so having everyone this focused on his relationship with Bozie really freaks him out; it’s bad enough when they’re just focused on him. It seems to be the theme of his life though, lately, because a couple of weeks ago he found some comment on twitter that Amanda made to a reporter, about how Phil is the kind of guy who helps people cross the street.

did u have to do that? he asked her in a text.

She responded back, seriously? next time i’ll say you shoot puppies for fun

stop acting like u just met me, Phil replied.

So it’s no surprise that when Phil gets his hat trick, Amanda texts him:

saw you got all embarrassed when they showed your goals. you SUCK

Thank u I appreciate that.

Bozie is super proud of him that night and Phil can’t stop flushing. He takes his time after the game, hoping that it’ll make some of the reporters depart if he takes forever showering, but naturally they won’t leave without getting his ever-exciting sound bites. By the time he’s about to leave, he doesn’t see any sign of Bozie. Before he can ask where he is, the few guys that are still lingering invite him out and Phil goes easily, figuring Bozie will catch up and find them.

“Where’s Bozie?” he asks when he’s two beers deep and still sees no sign of him joining them at the bar.

Dion shrugs. “Think he was just gonna crash.”

Phil frowns into his beer.

“What’s wrong, we ain’t enough for you, Phil?” Loops says, clapping him on the back.

Phil laughs, uneasily. “Of course you are, no, I was just -- you know.”

“You two are joined at the hip,” Dion replies. “You’re allowed to have other friends, Phil. Like us, ya know?”

Phil swirls his drink around in his glass, feeling his face heat further. “I know that, obviously. But, you know, me and Bozie are buddies.” He shrugs, wondering why he’s being made to define his friendship or something. This is the worst.

Loops squeezes his shoulder, trying to meet Phil’s eyes but Phil can’t stand eye contact and Loops fucking knows that. “We’re just looking out for you, okay? Bozie’s a great teammate and friend and all but he’s -- you know. A little too comfortable with your living arrangement, maybe?”

Phil pinches his nose, somewhat surprised that he was dead on in what they were thinking. “You guys are being ridiculous. Besides, he’s great with Stella.”

Dion shakes his head at him. “Codependency is a thing, Phil.”

Phil laughs, high and hysterically. Since when did his captain become a psychologist?

“Think about it,” is all Lupul says, before heading down the bar to talk to a pretty brunette.

As if Phil hasn’t been thinking about it since his dumb teammates began making something out of absolutely nothing.

Dion and Reemer are trying to talk to him about golf but Phil tunes them out when his phone buzzes in his jeans. It’s Bozie.

where are you? Can’t still be doing interviews even though you ARE the man of the night

Phil control help the automatic blush that spreads across his cheeks, but it doesn’t drown out his confusion.

few of the boys took me out thought u knew

uh NO. wtf those assholes. >:(((

Phil laughs ridiculously at the emoticon, and a few people at the bar look at him in amusement. He’s usually left alone even when recognized, which sometimes feels like it’s all the fucking time. He supposes it’s the persona he puts forward; everyone is well aware that Phil and attention do not mix. Amanda and Blake constantly tease him that he can play on such a huge stage every night and not be nervous or self-conscious on the ice, but the second he steps off it, he’s an uncomfortable, awkward conglomerate in front of the media or people he doesn’t know. Phil can’t really explain it, either.

i was about to leave anyway he tells Bozie before finishing his drink and begging off to Reemer and Dion. They grumble at him but let him go.

______________________

It happens again on Sunday. Reemer invites Phil to come over and play video games without Bozie. When Phil asks if he can come, Reemer replies:

He’s injured, he should be resting. Besides we never hang out just the two of us. It’ll be fun!

Phil looks at Bozie, who is scowling. okay and tells him he’ll be back later and to keep his leg elevated.

“I don't know when you got more popular than me is all I'm saying!” Bozie calls out as Phil’s leaving.

Turns out people keep wanting to 'just say' a lot of things to Phil, because after a few beers and a game of Call of Duty, Reemer says, "All I'm saying is you can’t be codependent like Bert and Ernie forever, Phil. You did actually have a girlfriend once, amazingly.”

Phil wrinkles his nose in bewilderment. "Where the hell is this even coming from? First of all: you weren't even saying anything in the past five minutes except ‘fuck’, so you can't do the 'all I’m saying' thing. Secondly: we aren’t Bert and Ernie, and three: screw you.”

Reemer holds his hands up. “I'm just sayin,” he repeats.

If Phil ever hears any version of those words again, he will scream. And that isn't a pretty sight.

The thing is, Phil doesn’t feel like he's codependent with Bozie. He doesn't think there's anything out of the ordinary here. In fact, it’d be weird making Bozie pay him to stay there, because they're buddies and it's not like Phil can’t afford it. Bozie helps with Stella and even actually does his own laundry. He'll tip the cleaning lady and put the coffee on in the morning. It's just nice, living with someone, and it's easy with Bozie. Easy the way they hang out on the couch at night and throw popcorn at each other. Easy how Phil sics Stella on Bozie in the mornings to wake him, and then giggles at the door of Bozie’s bedroom, watching him blink and swat her away before throwing whatever he can find at Phil and calling him an asshole. That doesn’t make him co-dependent -- it makes him...

Phil freezes in the elevator on the ride up to his place, taking a deep, unsteady breath.
Well, shit.

Stella's waiting by the door with her bone in her mouth when Phil enters. He bends to pet her, kissing her head.

“That you?" Bozie calls out, probably from the couch.

Phil rolls his eyes, his face still buried in Stella's fur. "No, this is a robbery. Give me all your money or I'm taking the dog.”

"Sorry man, you'll have to ask my rich roommate for that!”

Phil winces automatically.

Maybe the guys were right. Maybe this whole thing lately is less about friendship for Bozie and more about not having to be an adult with a fucking condo payment. And Phil had to go ahead and fall for him.

“I'm so fucked,” he whispers to Stella. She whines and licks his cheek.

“Yo man, you better give up the dog, I know karate!”

Phil stands, trying to shake it off. “My ass you do.”

He finds Bozie laying on the couch with his feet up, reading his Tiger Woods biography.

Phil's heart clenches at the sight of him as he tilts his book aside to flash Phil a wide, brilliant smile. Phil's struck by the force of how much he loves it, how much he wants.

He's not an idiot, he knows this hadn't just come out of nowhere. He's jerked it plenty of times to thoughts of Bozie's lips wrapped around his dick. He just assumed those were the dumb hormones that are bound to happen when you're in such close proximity to someone. He didn’t think he'd be standing here staring at Bozie and feeling all warm and tingly in ways that extended way beyond wanting to bone him.

Bozie's frowning at him now. “Hey, you okay?"

Phil nods jerkily. “Yeah. Yeah, I'm just gonna.” He waves in the direction of his bedroom and bolts. He was probably imagining the disappointment on Bozie's face.
______________________

Phil knows Bozie cares about him, is the thing. He knows they're best friends, even though Phil loves to yell about actually having other close friends to anyone who will listen. Phil's just thinking now that maybe that shouldn't extend to living together. Maybe they've run their course. Bozie's clearly comfortable, but maybe he's too comfortable. Maybe this has become an arrangement that Bozie likes to fall back on because it’s easy and convenient. And with Phil having these inconvenient feelings, he’d really rather not be living with someone who’s just there because he’d rather not live on his own.

In reality, he knows that’s not all it is -- they have a great time together between marathon Xbox sessions and long walks with Stella, but lately Phil can’t shake his feelings of insecurity, and he honestly blames his asshole teammates for ever planting the seed in his head.

He's gearing himself up to say something about it to Bozie, maybe suggest that with 24/7 coming up and all, it’s the perfect excuse for him to get his own place and show it off to the camera crews. Except he stalls too long and then it’s time for him to leave for the road trip, and he just doesn’t get around to it.

“This sucks,” Bozie groans, still bummed out about being hurt, an icepack on his knee as he shifts around uncomfortably.

“Keep it elevated,” Phil bitches.

“Yes, nurse.”

Phil sighs and repositions the ice pack for him.

“You sure you're gonna be okay?”

Bozie pushes his hand away. “Jeez, I'll be fine. My dad and I are gonna go up to Muskoka for a few days. Hang out at the cottage. Fish.”

“Okay, good.”

Phil opens his mouth to say something when he's standing with his bags by the door, but he closes it again. Bozie looks so right in his space, in their space, that he can't do it.

The road trip will give him time to think, see how he likes being apart. Maybe when he comes back, he can bring it up.
______________________

It's weird not playing with Bozie. It always is, but Phil's still having success and the team is actually doing well, and that's all that really matters.

Bozie texts him the next night. Good luck tomorrow, buddy, and it shouldn't make Phil so stupidly happy, but it does.

Thx. Tell my girl daddy misses her.

your girl is all up in my business right now because your a sap who lets her sleep with you and she's lonely.

Phil feels a rush of affection towards both of them and then thinks about how he wishes he was all up in Bozie's business right now, a sharp twist in his gut over his dog getting to hang out with Bozie when he can’t. He’s obviously lost it.

Be nice to her.

I always am. And to you.

Phil snorts, but also smiles stupidly. Uh-huh.

Get some sleep, buddy, you got a game tomorrow.

In spite of himself, Phil falls asleep smiling.

Bozie raises the stakes the next day, though. He doesn't send Phil a private text, doesn't even wait for the end of the game. Instead, apparently he tweets that 'The Thrill is hotttttt!!!!!’ and the guys won't stop chirping him about it on the bus ride back to the hotel.

“Did you break up with him before you left, Phil?” Franny laughs. “Because this seems desperate even for someone as dumb as Bozie.”

“It’s hockey talk,” Phil insists.

Nearly everyone shakes their heads in his direction.

“That's one too many t’s to not be flirting,” Bolly chimes in from somewhere near the back of the bus.

“Oh, so if there was one less ‘t’, you wouldn't be bugging me right now?” Phil sighs. He knows he's been bright red since Kadri told him to check his twitter, embarrassment nearly suffocating him as he tries to put together what this means, if anything at all

“Nah, we'd still be giving you hell,” Franny says.

Loops has been sitting silently next to Phil this whole time until he jostles Phil's arm, coughing.

“Gotta admit, that was kinda sweet in a weird way.”

Phil blinks at him. “He did the same thing for Rielly tonight, too. It’s no different,” Phil points out.

Loops stares at him. “It was nowhere near the same and you know it.”

Phil feels anger rising in him now. “What, so you see him say one nice thing on social media and now you don't think he's some moocher?”

Loops mouth draws into a hard line. “Jesus, Phil, it’s not really about that,” he says in a harsh whisper. “You know I love Bozie, we all do. It’s just that this seemed like it was his only running joke lately and he just seems -- oblivious. To a lot of things. I was just looking out for you because it's obvious you…” Loops trails off and Phil freezes.

He blinks at him, throat tightening. “I what?"

Loops rolls his eyes. " It's obvious, Phil."

Phil swallows thickly, his heart hammering in his chest. "I don't know what you're talking about."

Loops laughs lightly, patting his arm. "Okay, buddy."

When they arrive at the hotel, Phil still hasn't replied to Bozie. He has no idea what to say, so he hasn’t said anything at all, too busy dealing with his sweaty palms and the pounding of his heart against his ribcage because apparently Lupul knows. Phil wonders how many of the other guys know, wonders if Bozie knows and oh god, that's an embarrassing thought.
.
But maybe Bozie was flirting. Phill has no frame of reference. He's never been able to tell when someone's flirting with him. If he ends up with someone's tongue in his mouth at the end of the night, he can usually guess that they probably were.

He's burying his face in his pillow when his phone buzzes on his nightstand.

See my tweet?

Of course it's Bozie.

Phil’s stomach feels like it’s in his throat. He decides to ignore him, thinking he’ll just let it go. Bozie knows he avoids twitter for the most part and doesn’t actively check shit. Maybe he’ll let it go. He figures that’s the case when Bozie doesn’t reply. Phil takes the time to wash up and get into bed. And then his phone buzzes again.

What, you too cool to talk to me now?

Phil bites his lip. He knows Bozie is just chirping and he's still so embarrassed that his face feels flushed, but maybe he could...try something. Push Bozie and see just how he reacts.

I thought I was too hotttttt

Phil regrets it the second he hits send. It sounds too playful, too cheesy. This is why he doesn't flirt.

His stomach flips over as a new message notification pops up.

You are. Your burning up, baby.

Phil chokes on his laughter even though his dick apparently likes the way those words look. Or maybe more accurately, he likes the way Bozie's voice would sound around the word ‘baby’. Or, okay, so maybe it’s the thought of Bozie saying that word and directing it at Phil. More specifically, that word in Bozie's voice directed at Phil. Yeah that's what he's liking, all right.

I do feel a little warm, Phil replies back, and then nearly throws his phone across the room. Let Bozie do what he will with that. Maybe this'll just… clear things up for Phil. Bozie can take his awkward flirting bait or he can play it off by making a ‘more cowbell’ joke or something. Phil would be fine with either one. He'd be totally fine.

His phone rings from its new home at the foot of the bed and Phil practically jumps.

It’s Bozie again. Phil doesn’t really know why he’s even surprised.

Wincing, he picks up the phone and settles back against the pillows. “Hello?”

“What was that supposed to mean?” Bozie says, without pretense.

Phil’s life is categorically the worst.

“Uh. That it’s warm in my room?”

“Bull-fucking-shit, I know the hotel they put us up in Edmonton. It’s never warm.”

“Okay,” Phil allows, feeling like his mind is reeling in a million directions.

“Are you serious?” Bozie asks, quietly. He sounds -- serious, himself, and Phil straightens up.

“Um… about…?”

Bozie sighs. “Jesus, Phil, I’m at the cottage and my dad is in the next room. Are you really gonna make me say it?”

Phil’s entire body feels like a string about to snap. “Yes,” he says, decisively. Because he needs that. He needs to hear it and know that he’s not just pretending to see, suddenly, what he wants to see.

He hears Bozie sigh. “Fuck,” Bozie says, under his breath. “Okay, uh. Well -- I hoped, uh. I hoped maybe that was a dumb attempt at sexting or something. My dad’s already been making fun of me all night long for that tweet. He says I was as obvious as a zit on prom night.”

Phil laughs, hysterically. “He said that?” He squeaks, and hears Bozie huff out a laugh himself.

“Yes, Phil, you have met my father, remember?”

Phil laughs again, the nerves bubbling inside him along with something akin to excitement.

“You, uh, so you… uh…”

Bozie laughs loudly, but it sounds more fond than anything else. “Maybe you should stick to texts, Phil.”

“Shut up,” Phil mutters. “To be clear… you wanted me to be flirting with you?”

Yes, Phil. I’ve only been trying to give you those signs for like at least a month.”

Phil takes the phone away from his ear and blinks down at it as if it holds the answers to the universe.

“I missed those signs,” he says, lifting his phone again.

“Yeah, no shit.” Bozie still sounds amused, and Phil hates him for it a little, because he’s fucking terrified.

As if reading his mind though, Bozie's tone shifts. “Uh, I meant. Like, I meant to say something for real -- after you signed. I made a deal with myself to because -- because it was important to me. Both of us being locked in, but I chickened out, man. Then I figured, you know, if I kept making jokes about how I’m never leaving now and rent’s free and all that shit -- that you’d eventually catch on.”

Phil shakes his head in bemusement. “All I cottoned on to is that you’re every bit of a mooch as you always were. The guys felt the same way; they made this big deal about it.”

“Shit,” Bozie swears under his breath. “It wasn’t supposed to seem like that.”

Phil scratches at his thigh, shifting further onto his back. “They think I’m all co-dependent with you.” He tries to make light of it, but he knows he fails.

Bozie’s quiet for a moment. “Sort of the opposite there, buddy.” Bozie’s voice is soft and careful, and it washes over Phil like a wave.

Phil’s throat feels dry and he swallows hard, licking his lips. “Yeah?”

“Yeah,” Bozie replies.

Phil can’t hold back his smile now. He feels his chest fill and expand. He can’t make his mouth work even though he should probably be saying something right now.

Bozie doesn’t seem in any hurry though, so Phil just grins like a fucking fool into his phone, his hand palming absently at his dick.

“This is ridiculous,” Bozie finally says. Phil can hear the smile in his voice.

“We’re not even saying anything,” Phil points out.

Bozie laughs, loud and bright. “That’s almost worse.”

“Asshole.” Phil flat out giggles; there’s no use denying it.

It makes Bozie laugh more in return. “Okay, seriously, my dad is trying to sleep. I gotta go.”

Phil nods even though Bozie can’t see him.

Bozie clears his throat. “Otherwise, you know… I’d love to see where you were going with that comment earlier.”

Phil’s face heats. “Shut up,” he mutters. He can practically hear Bozie’s eyebrows waggling.

“You’re so easy, Phil.” Bozie says it like it’s his favorite thing about Phil. Like he thinks Phil is the best thing on this planet.

If Phil were a normal person he’d say something cheesy like, when I come home I’ll show you how easy I am, but his mouth can’t fit around those words, and then they’d definitely wake up Mitch with the sound of Bozie’s laughter again.

“I’ll uh, I’ll see you on Sunday?”

“Yeah. Coming back to Toronto on Thursday.”

“Cool,” Phil smiles. “Um. You know, can’t wait to see you.”

“Same, buddy,” Bozie says quietly.

Phil hangs up before he says something really ridiculous.
______________________

Phil guesses he can’t keep his feelings off his face because the guys tease him mercilessly the next few days. He supposes it’s because he’s texting Bozie non-stop. It’s mostly all about dumb, boring shit, but it still makes him grin like a loon. The guys still don’t know exactly what’s going on, but Phil has an idea that Bozie texted at least one of them, because they completely back off on the whole moocher/worrying about Phil’s fragile feelings behavior. Phil would really love to find out what Bozie said to convince them, but he’s too much of wimp to ask.

At night they raise the stakes to some weird, awkward flirting and Phil really fucking hopes Bozie wasn’t saying things like wanna feel you pressed up against me when his dad was in the same room because no. Phil barely responded to those sentiments -- could only really manage replies such as uh, me too to which Bozie would respond youre the worst at this.

Phil can’t exactly disagree, but it also doesn’t stop him from jerking off morning and night like he’s a fucking teenager, picturing Bozie beneath him, their mouths on one another, their dicks pressed together.

On Saturday, Bozie texts him that he just came from the doctor and his knee isn’t progressing exactly the way he would’ve liked, so he’s been placed on IR.

fuck i knew u shouldnt have been pushing things. u probably fucked it up more out on the boat

Relax phil we didnt even GO fishing after all. we just chilled on the lake

Phil huffs at his phone. ok. fuck this sux

it does. anyway say hi to bure for me. really wanted to be there for it

Phil scoffs, even though he feels a little charmed by that. no thatd be crossing battle lines. hes still the enemy

I’ll cross YOUR battle lines

Phil needs to end the conversation after that because he’s blushing too hard.

The game is awful. Awful. Phil fights, serves a fucking ridiculous bench minor, Bolly goes down, and they get their asses handed to them. He’s pissed off afterwards and really wishes Bozie was around, especially on the flight back. He hates flying and it’s always been helpful to have someone there who hates it just as much. It was one of the first things that caused him to bond with Bozie in the first place. Bozie teases him a little over Phil’s fight, but not much. He knows that means Bozie’s disappointed too, and probably even more so because he couldn’t be around to help, and with Bolly out things are only going to get more difficult.

They’ve got an entire week off when they get back and that’s pretty fucking excessive, but Phil can’t say he minds the timing given the loss, Bolly and Bozie’s injuries, and his and Bozie’s entire... thing.

hows ur knee feeling today? he texts Bozie when they’ve arrived at the airport.

not that bad rn doc

Phil grins at the screen. thought i was ur nurse

you can be whatever you want phil, Bozie replies and Phil can’t help the blush that rises or the blood that’s rushing to his dick. He discreetly adjusts himself as he’s getting into his car and takes a deep breath.

“You can do this,” he tells the steering wheel. Halfway home, he almost believes it.

Phil’s heart feels like it’s about to beat out of his chest as he’s turning the lock to his own place. Stella greets him immediately, and as happy as Phil is to see her, he’s definitely more than a little preoccupied by the way Bozie is standing against the kitchen island, arms crossed over his striped polo shirt and smirking at Phil like he holds all the world’s secrets.

Phil feels a wanting deep in his gut as he looks at Bozie. His feet feel frozen in place, unable to carry him any closer. He wants -- so much. He wants to to cross over to him, take his face in his hands and kiss the expression right off Bozie’s face, see what else he can replace it with but he’s also struck by the reality of this moment -- of being able to do that now. He needs a moment to steel himself, steady his shaking hands and rolling stomach. He finishes petting Stella and stands to shed his coat and jacket, parking his suitcases in the corner.

Bozie hasn’t moved from his spot and still hasn’t said anything. Phil raises his eyebrows at him as he approaches.

“Hey,” Bozie finally says when Phil comes to a stop right in front of him.

“Hey,” Phil chokes out.

Bozie takes a step toward him, fingers inching out to trail down Phil’s chest, hooking beneath one of the buttons on his shirt and tugging a little.

Bozie reaches up to take Phil’s beanie off his head, tossing it aside, and Phil feels himself blush at having forgotten about it.

“You’re shaking,” Bozie says quietly. He’s looking up at Phil through his eyelashes and that’s just downright rude.

“Cold out,” Phil manages, licking his lips nervously.

“Is not,” Bozie mutters kind of absently, his eyes following the action. Then there’s a hand fisting itself in Phil’s hair and tugging his head up to meet him. Phil closes his eyes immediately at the feeling of Bozie’s lips skimming his own shallowly, almost like he’s afraid to press harder, like Phil will break or something.

Phil kisses back, the kiss so chaste it feels almost innocent. Bozie’s fingers keep twisting in his hair and Phil has to steady himself by gripping Bozie’s forearm, feeling suddenly dizzy.

Bozie makes a small sound against him and Phil feels the nerves build in the pit of his belly again.

“This is weird,” he mumbles as Bozie’s placing a delicate string of kisses along the corner of his mouth.

“Why?” he asks softly, breath fanning across Phil’s mouth.

“Cause it's--” Phil breaks off on a gasp when Bozie nips at his lower lip. “It’s, uh, us.”

Bozie tugs his bottom lip between his own and Phil’s dick is definitely enjoying the way that feels, regardless of the anxiety still coursing through him.

“That should make it the opposite of weird, Phil.” He laughs a little at Phil’s answering groan, his mouth still all pressed against him, tongue skimming across his lips.

“Yeah, well,” Phil says helplessly, pulling back to look at him.

Bozie regards him for a moment. Their faces are so close and Phil takes in the flush on Bozie’s cheeks, the way his eyes are a little darker than usual, the way his lips are slick from Phil’s own mouth against his.

Phil scratches at his beard, nervously. “Are uh, are you alright standing here? Do you wanna sit or --”

“How about you stop thinking, huh?“ Bozie says before pulling him in for a rough, deep kiss that’s dirty from the outright and absolutely nothing like the careful kisses he was offering before. Bozie’s tongue slides easily between Phil’s lips, finding his own and making him moan as he sucks hard.

Phil deepens the kiss, their tongues dancing together as his hands thread in Bozie’s hair. He’d never tell anyone but he kind of misses the long strands that always looked so soft. He scratches his nails over the back of Bozie’s neck and feels him shiver and press in closer, nudging his leg between Phil’s thighs.

Phil whines, high and loud, and presses his dick against Bozie’s own, loving the friction, the solid thickness against him. Then there’s another whine and that was definitely Stella. They’re kissing frantically at this point, hands beginning to wander down one another’s backs and so it’s a chore to break away but Phil does. Bozie doesn’t let him go far, holding him securely by the small of his back and latching onto the side of his neck. Phil looks down at Stella, reaching his hand towards her fruitlessly as he just ends up swatting at the air, really.

“It’s okay, girl.”

She’s never been overly possessive with Phil when it comes to Bozie and Phil is really fucking hoping she doesn’t start now. Stella looks up at him, as if to ask ‘Are you sure?’ and Phil nods at her while Bozie obliviously keeps licking at his skin, pushing his collar out of the way and biting down.

Stella seems appeased after that and trots off to her doggy bed. Phil breathes out shakily and presses his fingers to Bozie’s hips, fitting his hands beneath his shirt. Phil’s fingertips leave goosebumps in their wake and he feels Bozie shiver and press more firmly against him, starting a slow grind against Phil’s dick.

Phil’s starting to feel himself sweat, his body hot all over from the way they’re pressed together and the way he’s gasping for air as kiss again, wet and endless, attacking each other’s mouths with a passion Phil wasn’t exactly sure Bozie had in him. He shouldn’t be surprised; Bozie always manages to catch him off-guard and Phil shouldn’t known it would happen in bed, too. Oh god, bed.

He must make an injured sound because Bozie pulls back, eyes a little wild. “You okay?”

His voice is so low and deep, his lips red and puffy. “Yeah, uh. Do you wanna--?” Phil jerks his head in the general vicinity of his bedroom and really hopes Bozie gets the idea.

Bozie’s eyes widen a little and he licks his lips, quickly. “Yeah, um. Yeah, absolutely.” He sounds so earnest, eyes serious as he nods a little, like he’s answering an interview question. Phil feels an overwhelming rush of affection and has to kiss him again, slow and languid. Bozie melts against him, sliding one hand down to Phil’s ass. Phil groans and presses his erection against him, thrusting and making them both groan.

Bozie starts to walk them backwards and it turns into a horrible, comedic scene of Phil nearly falling flat on his ass and them tripping over shoes (because Bozie can’t fucking stack them by the front door where they belong), Stella’s bed (she isn’t very happy), before finally slamming into an unforgiving wall. Bozie makes up Phil’s head heading the plaster by stripping Phil of his shirt and pressing him against it until he can’t fucking breath, so close to coming it’s ridiculous.

“Enough,” Phil groans, stilling Bozie’s hands which have finally wandered to his dick and ridding Bozie of his own shirt instead. They leave the clothes on the floor and continue on to the bedroom. Phil isn’t overly self-conscious of his own body on a regular basis -- Bozie’s seen him a million times before -- but he’s aware enough to know this is different and he just… hopes he’s enough for him.

Bozie seems to be addicted to his mouth and Phil’s fine with that; he’d honestly take up kissing Bozie professionally if it were an option. His hands have stopped trying to explore Phil’s dick for now, which is good because he really needed the reprieve, far too wound up already from sheer anticipation of this moment alone.

Phil decides it’s time for him to take a little control of the situation and pushes Bozie down onto the bed before settling beside him and hooking Bozie’s uninjured leg over his own.

“Is your knee okay?” Phil asks, careful not to put any pressure on it.

Bozie groans into his mouth before nodding, and his hands slide down to Phil’s ass again. He’s been making these little hitching noises of need that are driving Phil fucking insane, and he’s not sure how much longer he go without them getting naked.

“Come on,” Bozie says. He's panting wetly against Phil’s mouth, bending to nip at his chin, dragging his teeth across Phil’s beard.

Phil groans and squeezes Bozie’s ass with both hands before rolling over him, pressing him against the mattress.

Bozie lets out a choked off sound and Phil lifts his head from where he was kissing along his shoulder blade. “Shit, you okay? Did I hurt you?”

Bozie stares down at him, a little unfocused and a whole lot breathless. “Yeah, I’m good,” he says, his smile a little dazed. “You’re not gonna break me, you lunatic.”

Phil feels himself go red to the tips of his ears. He drags his fingers through Bozie’s hair, chest filling with a surge of emotion that rises up in his throat, threatening to choke him. He wants to say -- well, he wants to say a lot of things, things that have been building for a long time -- but instead he leans down and presses their foreheads together, reveling in Bozie’s scent. He hears Bozie’s breathing even out a little as Phil presses kisses to his temple, over his cheeks. It feels kind of stupidly romantic and tender but he can’t stop himself and Bozie hasn’t laughed at him yet, so he figures it’s all okay.

Phil drags his mouth down to Bozie’s lips, licking between them, slow and hot, feeling Bozie open beneath him to let him in. Bozie’s hands slip to his ass again and they begin rocking together, Bozie setting the pace. Phil’s dick is throbbing and he can barely move in his dress pants; Bozie can’t be doing much better in his jeans if the hard length against him is anything to go on. Bozie’s got a death grip on him, though, leaving no room between their bodies and Phil has a hard time tearing himself away from the friction. He knows unless he wants to come in his boxers he needs to, though, so he pulls back, only to have Bozie follow his lips hungrily.

Phil laughs, sitting back on his knees while Bozie’s mouth traces a path along his chest, pulling one of Phil’s nipples between his teeth.

“You need to stop,” Phil giggles, even though his hands immediately come to rest in Bozie’s hair.

“Never,” Bozie says, rolling Phil’s nipple between his teeth before grinning up at him. “Unless you really want me to.” He bats his eyelashes at him, exaggeratedly.

Phil chokes out another undignified laugh. “Really don’t.”

Bozie smiles up at him, softly, before licking at his chest again. “Good,” he replies softly. “You have any idea how long I’ve waited for this?” he adds, almost to himself more than anything else, his voice so low that Phil has to strain to hear it.

The words surprise Phil because no actually, he really didn’t have any idea how long or deep this went for Bozie. It makes him swallow, hard, cementing in place that this is -- this is something important for them both. He figured as much, but it’s still nice to get confirmation. And Bozie’s “never” is definitely radiating through him, making his heart and stomach flutter.

Still, Phil does have a goal here. He slips his hands between them and manages to undo Bozie’s jeans. That gets Bozie’s attention as he looks up from his exploration of Phil’s nipples, eyes shining. “Ohhh. Yes, okay.”

Phil cracks up. “What, did you forget you have a dick?”

Bozie bites hard on his left nipple, hard. “No I didn’t forget I have a dick, you dick.” He slaps Phil’s ass in the process.

“Mature, Bozie,” Phil says sardonically, which leads to Bozie tackling him to the bed and a lot more kissing. By the time they break away from one another’s mouths Phil is extra glad they have a week off since it’ll probably take that long for Bozie’s beard burn to go away. They manage to get their pants off though, kicking them down to the foot of the bed before peeling off one another’s boxers.

Finally naked, Phil does feel the first bits of self-consciousness creep in as Bozie looks down at his body. Again; he’s seen it all, but never in this context before. Phil always gets this way when he’s with someone new and he didn’t really think it’d be different with Bozie just because it’s Bozie. It’s not as bad as it used to be, but he still feels overtly aware of his body and it’s not just his ball but the whole package (no pun intended), so to speak. He knows he’s built differently than most guys in their profession and he has no idea what Bozie’s type is. He’s never seen him with a guy, but Phil doubts he fits Bozie’s ideal standard.

Bozie runs the back of his hand up Phil’s chest, settling over Phil’s flank and squeezing. “You with me?” He asks softly.

They’re angled towards one another on their sides and Phil blinks, realizing he’s been staring at some point beyond Bozie’s shoulder. “Huh? Yeah, yeah, I’m.”

Bozie’s fingers dig in against his skin and Phil focuses on him fully, watching as Bozie’s hand dips lower, brushing along his dick that’s pressed up against his belly and then lower. He touches him, featherlight and it makes Phil shiver. Phil shifts a little closer and Bozie kisses his shoulder, his neck.

“Don’t,” Bozie says quietly.

Phil feels something release inside him, like that’s all he needed to hear, like it’s what he was waiting for. He lets out a small sound and pulls Bozie fully on top of him, hand finding his cock. Bozie groans against him, settling with one thigh between Phil’s legs and sliding his open palm up the length of Phil’s erection before closing his fist around him, tightly, and starting a slow and steady rhythm. His hand is dry and his fingers are calloused but Phil likes the feel of it, especially since Bozie uses the considerable amount of pre-come that’s already gathered at the head to slick him up a bit. Phil matches his pace, his thumb dragging along the uncut head, making Bozie gasp. He’s not overly big but he’s thick and Phil can’t help but wonder what he’d feel like inside of him. He’s only done that once before and years ago at that. He has no idea if Bozie’s even into it, but he’s definitely looking forward to finding out.

Bozie’s mouth is relentless on his own and Phil finds himself gasping up into both it and Bozie’s hand, sweat rolling down his forehead. Bozie’s twists his wrist, jerking Phil harder while Phil slides his fingers down over Bozie’s balls and pressing behind them. Bozie lets out a choked off, almost startled noise.

“Phil, oh fuck, Phil,” he groans, his hips bucking against Phil’s body before gasping wetly against Phil’s mouth and tensing. Phil feels the rush of fluid spill over his hand in jerks and keeps jacking Bozie until he comes down from it all. Bozie fits his head into the curve of Phil’s neck and moans, softly, his own hand having loosened on Phil’s own throbbing erection. Bozie presses a few absent kisses against Phil’s neck and then heaves out a grunt before sliding down his chest, licking and biting his way down.

Phil blinks sweat out of his eyes, pushing his hair away from his forehead and trying to focus on the visual of Bozie’s mouth mapping its way down his stomach.

“Uh,” Phil says before letting out what can only be characterized as a loud squeak. His eyes nearly roll back in his head as Bozie takes him between his lips, expertly sucking him down like he does this shit all the time. Hell, maybe he does. Phil doesn’t really want to think about that, of the people that got here before him or who they might’ve been. Still, it’s obvious Bozie isn’t exactly new at this and misplaced jealousy or not, Phil can’t really be bothered to care when his brains are being sucked out of his dick right now. He’s not expecting to be deep throated like a pro so when it happens he basically screams and thanks christ for his thick, sound-proof walls.

Phil reaches down, dragging his fingers through Bozie’s hair and gripping him. Bozie pushes up against him and then down again until Phil cottons on and begins fucking up into his mouth. Bozie’s making obscene noises around his dick that get Phil even harder and before long his thighs are tensing and he’s holding Bozie’s head in place as his back arches off the bed and he comes harder than he can recall in recent memory, spilling into Bozie’s willing mouth.

“Oh my god. Oh fuck,” Phil pants, his chest heaving, rising and falling rapidly.

Bozie moans around him, sliding off and licking his lips, wiping at his mouth. His face is a fucking mess: red from the beard burn, lips raw and used, cheeks flushed and eyes dark; he looks like everything Phil’s ever wanted.

“Jesus christ, what was that,” Phil breathes out, staring down at Bozie in awe.

Bozie shrugs one shoulder casually. “Figured I’d give you the full treatment so you’d come back,” he says dryly, but there’s also something serious around the edges there.

Phil shakes his head, incredulously, pawing weakly at his shoulder. “Get up here.”

Bozie goes, settling securely against Phil and kisses his neck. He hears Bozie sigh, contentedly.

Phil rubs his hand up and down Bozie’s back for long moments before speaking. “I’m not going anywhere,” he says. “And neither are you.” Phil kisses his temple, stealing his nerves before adding, “We’ve got contracts that say as much.”

He feels Bozie tense against him, and immediately wants to take it all back until a hand worms its way in his own. “You sure you can put up with me that long? I may never pay you rent, you know.”

Phil laughs on a shaky exhale, squeezing Bozie’s hand with his own. “That’s fine; I’ll just take it out in trade.”

END.