"Guy, I am trusting that is tobacco."
"I'm sure you are."
Renfield Turnbull was in full uniform, standing outside his detachment's building, staring at his defacto best friend and trying not to blow the hat off his own head from frustration.
Guy Laurent took a long drag from his... cigarette... as he lazed against the wall. He breathed out a plume and passed it to the stranger standing beside him who had yet to introduce himself. The stranger didn't draw off the thing, just held it companionably, looking off.
Turnbull crossed his arms, flicking eyes between the pair. "No smoking outside the building."
The stranger looked at the cigarette for a long moment before flicking it to the ground. He gave Turnbull a faint grin; the man was dark haired, dressed in jeans and a dark jacket.
Guy sighed, clearly biting back an objection to the man's tossing away of what Turnbull was still charitably calling a cigarette; he waved flat, upturned hands at the guy before rolling his eyes. "Thanks a lot."
"Indeed, thank you," Turnbull echoed to the stranger, minus the sarcasm. He extended a hand to the man. "I don't believe we've met. Constable Turnbull."
"Mark," the gentleman replied simply, taking his hand and shaking it.
Turnbull glared at him anew before releasing Mark's hand. "A pleasure, sir." And just what has Guy suckered you in to, you poor fellow?
Mark shrugged, looking off again. "Likewise."
"He's interested in a rink," Guy offered.
Oh. Yes, well, that did get Turnbull's attention, didn't it? "Indeed?"
"Yeah," Mark replied. "Usually play skip. You any good?"
Turnbull's grin was slow and easy, something usually reserved for curling or when someone was talking over him as though he were a fool. Generally, that someone was one of Guy's transient friends making innuendo about illegal substances believing Turnbull was too innocent to get it. "Oh, yes."
It was a relief to get a look in to serious curling again. Mucking around on a sheet with Guy was fun, for what it was, but there were four of them now. This would be competition. Turnbull felt it in his blood.
Well. Figuratively. There were times he still had to assure people there was no relation.
Still, that was what he was going to blame the blush on if anyone asked; blood stirred by putting his hand to a noble sport. It most certainly was not the compliment on his form that he received from their new skip. Nor was it the look on the man's face when he gave it.
It was very distracting.
The last man made a fine addition. Fair in any position, kept mostly to himself about his personal life. Pity he had something of an anger problem. Turnbull very nearly restrained the man the first time he beat the sheet with his brush, swearing and kicking until he fell back on his behind. Guy had shaken his head and told Turnbull that the man did this, and it was better for everyone if he was just allowed to let it out.
How it was Guy managed to know residents of this area better and sooner than Turnbull did remained a mystery to him.
The skip - Mark - was quite an honor to call a teammate indeed. He was exceptional at what he did. They'd met for practice only twice all together and Turnbull found himself each time wanting to show the man what he was capable of.
It was disconcerting. It made him clumsy, made him far more likely to run into things or slip on the ice or just plain screw up a delivery all for overcompensating and wanting to impress a man he barely knew. He looked like a fool.
A fool who'd gotten a compliment even so.
All together they made a very strange group. The Mountie, the miscreant, the handsome skip and the walking time bomb.
Turnbull wasn't going to examine the skip's superlative in that train of thought. He was just... going to go home. Perhaps put a wet rag over his forehead and refuse to acknowledge the bruise blossoming across his backside.
There was something to be said for a bump on the back of the head, if it earned Turnbull such a lovely hallucination.
He could've done without Guy and Longfellow in the background of this particular delusion, but with head injuries, one could hardly choose one's symptoms. Mark filled his view, crouched over him, flicking eyes over. "You okay?"
...ah. Not a hallucination, then.
"He's fine. Bull-he--"
"Don't say it, man." That was Guy, cutting Longfellow off. There were days Turnbull truly loved that man.
Watching the metaphorical birds tweeting around his head, Turnbull had forgotten to answer, prompting Mark to wave a hand over his face. The man even had nice hands.
This was becoming a problem.
"--I'm fine," he managed, finally sitting up. Ow. Ow, ow-ow. It had been quite the trip back to the ice, and he would have a nice bump indeed. "Simply... simply wounded pride."
"What?" Longfellow was arguing, and Guy was probably too perceptive for his own good. He gave Longfellow a motion of fingers across the neck-- can it.
Turnbull couldn't find humiliation for being so obvious when Mark offered his hand to help him up.
"Fuck. Shit. God dammit, Jesus Christ, fucking bitch-tit--"
Longfellow was rapidly teaching Turnbull that swearing didn't necessarily equal a lack of fully formed vocabulary; indeed, one could take a simple rude word and change its meaning with a simple adjustment of inflection. Nouns could become verbs, verbs could become adjectives, and sometimes, gibberish could make sense.
While Turnbull was in favor of continuing education, this was not a course for which he'd signed up.
"--pantyliner sandwich, fuck, dickhole, Jesus Rollerblading Christ!"
That brush would never be the same. It sailed above their heads, turning a graceful arch before bouncing off the sheet and skidding away. Longfellow stalked off before the thing settled.
"Quite the tantrum," Turnbull muttered to himself, both hands clasped around the handle of a brush.
"He should get Guy to teach him to curse in Québécois. 'Pantyliner sandwich' was creative the first three times. It's getting kinda old now." Mark slid up beside him, watching Longfellow leave.
"I'm afraid that mental image never loses the power of repulsion for me." It also kept Turnbull from blushing at Mark's proximity, but that was neither here nor there.
"Hm," Mark offered in agreement. They both shook their heads. "Guess that's practice, then. I'm not in the mood to chase him, are you?"
"And risk any further mental imagery at the hands of his creativity? No."
"Both of you are pansies." Guy slid up beside them just to offer that and a two-fingered salute on his way out, positively strutting with a brush angled over his shoulder.
"Where are you going, Laurent?"
All Mark got was a chuckle in response.
"Mischief that shall no doubt make it into my paperwork Monday," Turnbull replied for him. "If not-- not before." The statement was staggered for the hand he felt coming to rest at his shoulder. He wondered if it was strange to feel it warm and glowing at the same time as wanting to bat it away.
"Paperwork's for Monday, Turnbull. Can I buy you a beer?"
"I don't-- I--" He risked a glance at Mark. That was... was... quite a smile indeed. He was deeply, vastly certain that he was imagining the tenor of it. "...beer, I don't... drink..."
There was that look again like Mark couldn't believe the strange alien life form that had landed on the sheet with him. He'd gotten it a few times now. Turnbull wondered if it wasn't true. Perhaps he really was from another planet. Mark certainly made him feel a thousand light years from normal. After a moment the look melted back to that smile Turnbull was pretty sure he could hang himself from and die happily, and Mark shrugged. "Okay. Can I buy you something else?"
Blushing. His entire existence was one large blush. "I-- that is to say-- if you-- you certainly don't--" He shut his eyes. Breathed. He opened them. "Yes."
That hand clapped his shoulder and he thought he may fall down again.
Turnbull blinked once or twice, frowning.
Mark huffed a breath, eying Turnbull like he'd just declared holy war on dandelions. "So... not Renny?"
"Ah. No." His face was hot, and he suddenly felt very stupid indeed for being bothered by it. He could've put up with it. He could have. What was a bit of auditory discomfort to keep that look off Mark's face? "If... if you... that is to say-- No."
"...all right then. Uh. Renfield."
The bar wasn't especially populated, but Turnbull still felt ridiculously exposed as well as hideously at a loss for words. He ducked behind a sip of his water - he couldn't bring himself to spend any of the man's money, after all - and tried to stop kicking himself.
Mark tipped back his beer before settling the bottle on the table and leveling a searching sort of look on Turnbull.
His eyes were so very blue.
The sound of glass shattering preceded by an unforgivable number of milliseconds Turnbull's realization that he was the cause, his water glass having hit the deck somewhere between a fidget, a blush, and the evacuation of sense under that gaze.
The night ended early in stammered apologies and a red-faced retreat.
"I can't say I've ever seen a cow do that before."
"I am going to murder that man."
"Hey, don't get too mad. The cow looks like she had fun."
"...isn't that what I just said?"
"She's drunk, on the ground, and will be waking up next to Guy."
"I'll grant you the last part. Don't you plan to take him home?"
Turnbull's arms were crossed tightly across his chest. He couldn't believe just how much second-hand humiliation he could feel for Guy. For that matter, he was having trouble believing just how embarrassed it was possible to be in front of Mark.
"It would serve him right to wake up beside a female of the bovine persuasion and have to wonder just what he did the night before, wouldn't it?"
It was also possible for his heart to soar on the delivery of a simple chuckle, Turnbull found. Mark bowed his head to that laugh, nodding slowly. "Yeah. Yeah, it would."
"I should arrest him." The cow moo'd half-halfheartedly, sounding utterly miserable. "I'm not even certain that intoxicating a cow is illegal, but I should bring him in."
Guy groaned to match the cow and Turnbull was both shocked and totally unsurprised when the man staggered himself off the ground. He promptly fell over in the opposite direction, empty gin bottle rolling off onto the ground.
Mark eyed Turnbull sidelong. "I'll talk to her owner, you drag Laurent home?"
Lord, even Mark knew he was a sucker for the man. Turnbull rolled his eyes, looking up at the sky just to groan at creation. "Fine."
"Chin up, Renfield. At least you don't have to wake up next to him, either. And hey. I'll buy you a water afterward."
Grateful for the night, Turnbull blushed, managing a small grin.
"It isn't that bad, Drew."
"Fuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuck." Longfellow's forehead bounced off the tabletop.
"Must you always do this?"
"We lost. Seven to two."
Turnbull pinched the bridge of his nose. "I'm well aware of that."
"Apparently you aren't. 'It wasn't that bad, Drew! Stop cursing, Drew! Waste of a perfectly good brush, Drew! I maintain perfect grammar and posture when they're mopping us across the sheet! You couldn't knock the smile off my face with a Goddamn stone to the teeth! I wouldn't swear even if you jammed a fucking brush up my ass! I'm the most frustratingly polite loser on the fucking planet!' Fuck. Fuuuuuuck."
His head bounced off the table again, and Longfellow sighed.
"Tantrum concluded?" Turnbull asked after a moment, just in time for Mark, Guy, and a tray of drinks to join them.
"That tantrum is never-ending," Mark slipped in before plonking Turnbull's glass of water in front of him and taking the seat beside.
"Fuck both of you."
"Dream on," Guy chimed in, flopping into a seat beside Longfellow. Glancing at Mark, then Turnbull, from behind those ever-present sunglasses.
Turnbull turned exceptionally red, probably visible even in the odd light of the bar, and he stared at Guy whilst briefly widening his eyes. Guy held up both hands in a sarcastic surrender gesture.
"We get it!" Mark was laughing as he said it, something Turnbull was coming to believe must be a kind of music. Even if he had found the man's slightly odd laugh very annoying initially. "Just get drunk and pass out already. Carting you home has got to be better than listening to you whine. Drink."
Longfellow did as instructed, draining his beer with frightening ease before clamoring up to go get it refilled.
Turnbull sighed relief.
"So. That didn't go so well," Mark sighed out, sipping his beer.
Rather wanting to hide, Turnbull nodded. "Indeed. My apologies."
"Hey, don't do that. Wasn't anything you did. Just one of those things. Bad nights happen. Why do you do that all the time?"
"Apologize when you didn't do anything wrong."
"I-- I--" Turnbull shut his mouth, suddenly feeling as though he'd stripped naked under a spotlight in the cold with 'KICK ME' painted across his backside and the entire town looking at him.
"Well, you don't have to," Mark finally said, thankfully breaking the hideously awkward freeze Turnbull had found himself in as he cast for words.
Guy saluted Mark with his beer, and Longfellow sank back to the table with another thunk of his head on the surface.
"Champs-Élysées, mon ami!"
Guy Laurent was stark naked but for precariously placed boxers, with a water bottle full of gin in one hand and a hockey stick in the other. Turnbull was able to tell the gin from several feet off; he must've spilled it down himself at some point.
All of this he became immediately aware of as Guy hung out of the cheap tent that had long since lost its shape due to the motion of the occupants. The man seemed impervious to cold. Completely oblivious, had done for as long as he'd known him.
What Turnbull presumed was the other half of that plural spilled out behind him, landing in the snow, thankfully better dressed than Guy but not by much. "'s French!" she declared happily, casting about in the snow for her top. She found it, haphazardly covering her chest, apparently unconcerned with the cold. "Means 'Happy Birthday, uptight Mountie!'"
It was not, in fact, Turnbull's birthday. That was a week or so off; Guy tended to attract impromptu gatherings of purposeless people. Which generally attracted Mark which meant that it generally attracted Turnbull, even if he wasn't quite prepared to admit this fact to himself. Whoever had spread the rumor about Turnbull's birthday was a mystery, but at the very least the woman in the tent seemed to have run with it.
Sputtering. Turnbull was sputtering, firing off rapid speech that he was sure made sense in his head, though once it reached his lips disseminated into something wholly alien to English.
When Longfellow appeared at the entrance to the tent, similarly in disarray and scantily dressed, Turnbull shut his mouth with a stunned click.
The woman fell over, laughing tiredly, and Longfellow dragged her back inside.
Through pot-leaf sunglasses - at night, the man wore them night or day - Guy eyed Turnbull. After a moment of enraged blinking on Turnbull's part, Guy tossed the hockey stick into the snow in front of him. "Need this more than I do."
"--what flavor of chemically induced stupor are you in that you think such a thing would be in any fashion useful to me?" Ah. There were words. Yes, Turnbull apparently did recall how to speak English, even if he was very suddenly questioning his French.
Turnbull thought he heard a muffled 'replacement for the stick in his whiny annoying ass' coming from the woman in the tent. His eyebrow went up a tick as he clenched his teeth, taking a moment to breathe before he would visit upon her the verbal equivalent of a slap to the back of the head.
Longfellow snorted a drunken laugh.
Guy's mouth was open when she said it and whatever his answer was going to be was cut off as he spun around, the sway to his posture suddenly gone. "Hey. No." He pointed the mouth of his bottle of gin at her. "No. You don't get to come here on my friend's birthday, drink his booze--" The fact that the alcohol circulating (and indeed the gathering itself) was most certainly not of Turnbull's commission apparently didn't matter. "--and call him annoying. You do not. Crisse de tabarnak! Out. Get out."
Guy was motioning with the bottle of gin, sloshing it. Turnbull could practically hear the stunned blinking of the woman inside. It matched his own.
"...it's not my birthday..." Turnbull said, half to himself, busy trying to fathom what it was he'd just witnessed. He suddenly felt... felt... he didn't know what he felt.
Guy didn't seem to hear him. He was busy helping the woozy blonde excuse herself as she pulled her top on. Swearing the entire time. She stalked off with a parting sneer at Guy, not daring to turn one on Turnbull.
Longfellow watched her go with a sour look on his face.
"Bitch," Guy muttered after her, straightening his glasses.
Three men were silent for a long moment before Longfellow snorted yet another laugh and flopped back in the tent.
"I came to ask if you'd seen Mark..." Turnbull managed, still blinking away shock.
"Yes," Guy replied in a very rare subdued tone. It was not often the man seemed in any fashion worked up about anything. Turnbull was floored to see it demonstrated for him. "Saw him off talking with some guy about an hour ago."
In one white-hot, heart-pounding moment, Turnbull embodied the definition of soul-consuming jealousy.
Though Turnbull was certain his expression was schooled, Guy seemed to know instantly what was going through Turnbull's head, which was more than a little frightening. Exceptionally so, actually.
"Shit," Guy muttered, making to try and usher Turnbull into the tent, presumably to be badgered into some manner of alcohol consumption, that being Guy's primary method of coping with... just about anything.
Turnbull plastered on a polite grin. "I shall see him another time, then. Thank you kindly."
"Please. Don't do this."
"I would not wish to interrupt." Clasping his hands behind his back, Turnbull moved to leave, fighting off a clawing inside his gut the likes of which he couldn't remember feeling since his sister came home with an engagement ring.
"It was for luck," Guy offered, motioning at the hockey stick still on the ground; a placating tone was not normal for the man, and whatever it was Turnbull was feeling after Guy's verbal slapping of the woman intensified. Perhaps it was guilt. Perhaps it was gratitude. Perhaps it was both. "...Lucky stick... It made sense a moment ago."
"I'm certain it did, Guy Laurent," Turnbull gave back in a softer tone. "Goodnight, Guy. Please do not get frostbite."
He left, off-balance on several levels.
In the days following, Turnbull had been gifted with various things that reminded him of a cat that proudly brought back severed mouse heads for his owner. Guy had not dropped back to that strangely serious tone in the time since, but he had left him entirely useless things. A bottle of cheap wine. A badly decorated birthday cake, still entirely too early, with the wrong age written on it. That hockey stick. A green Santa hat with a light-up tip; that being the most thoughtful of them, as Turnbull adored Christmas, but they were barely into November.
He'd spent those days, when he was not working, trying to figure out just what the Hell to do with the gifts. He felt it rude to throw them out. As well as attempting to cope with the clear problem he'd developed regarding Mark. Over whom he had precisely no right to get jealous. Over whom he most certainly had, a fact he could not hide from himself. This did not usually happen to him. It had been so very rare.
Turnbull was not used to this.
The man was probably straight, odds being what they were. Even if he was interested in males, the likelihood of him seeing Turnbull in that fashion felt so minuscule as to be hideously laughable. Guy probably was laughing. He couldn't fathom how Guy had figured it out. How very humiliating. If he was transparent to one man it was likely only a matter of time before he was transparent to Mark as well.
Thankfully that particular gathering did not end in any destruction that required paperwork, and Turnbull had withdrawn somewhat into himself in his after hours, thoughtful. He had not seen Mark. He had made no inquiries as to who the man was he'd been talking to. He'd tried not to see Guy, but Guy had been generally disrespectful of that particular want.
The week passed in something of a half-daze. A simple drawing was taking shape on the page in front of him, and for no reason at all, he was wearing Guy's hat. It blinked a green cast across the page now at intervals.
Thankfully, when the door bell went, he remembered to pull it off and toss it at the bed before heading downstairs.
Turnbull wondered, when he opened the door, if Guy had finally managed to grant him something he was actually happy to see. In all his blue-eyed, shockingly beautiful glory, Mark stood at the front door.
"Hello," Mark said, winking. "Came by to ask you a really important question."
A thousand thoughts fired off. English should not have been so difficult. The moment extended long past the point of playfully shocked silence and on into awkward, but Mark's face didn't waver from that maddeningly endearing smile. "--all-- all right."
"Can I buy you a water?" There was no mistaking the tenor of Mark's smile now.
Guy, what have you done? It may have been first time Turnbull had ever thought that to himself without rage.
"I-- well-- if you-- I would not-- did he--? That is to say--" He took a breath, letting it out slowly, smiling bright and unbidden. "Yes."