The atmosphere inside the club house was electric. Rose lifted her camera and snapped a picture of the celebrating team for the paper. Usually, she didn’t cover anything sports related (and Harvey’s general opinion was that she was a woman, what would she know about sports anyway?) but with a massive backlog of things still needing to be done, seemingly no matter how much she did, she’d been given the local cricket team’s game as a bit of a writing exercise.
There were two people missing from the excitement. Charlie and Danny.
She approached Matthew, who was talking with one of the players, drinking beer and looking quite pleased with the outcome of the game.
“Hm?” He asked, raising his glass and turning to look at her.
“Have you seen Danny?” Charlie…Wasn’t important to her getting a team picture. She could, frankly, go the whole night without seeing him easily. She’d already been avoiding him, after she saw him earlier sitting in one of those folding chairs next to Matthew. He’d never shown an interest in Cricket before, so he must have been here in support of Danny. But she can’t imagine Charlie sticking around for the afterparty; he wasn’t like that. Danny, on the other hand…Suffice to say that he likes a drink and he loved a night out.
“He should be in the back room getting his knee strapped by Charlie.” She tried not to let her disappointment show on her face.
“Why would Charlie be strapping his knee?”
“He went in for a dive on that last ball, landed right on it.” Well, yes. She knew that. She’d been there. Danny had proven he deserved his position of local hero when he led his team to victory against impossible odds, by a single ball.
“What I meant is why is Charlie strapping his knee?”
“It needs to be done a certain way and he’s the only person Lucien has been bothered to teach.” Made sense; mostly. Surely the team would have a doctor or something to do it for them? Maybe Danny was specific about who was allowed to strap his knee, it didn’t matter. “They’ve been a while. Probably got talking about something and forgot to check the time.” Also made sense. A few times lately Charlie and Danny had spent the entire night in the living room talking excitedly about a shared interest. “Go get ‘em.”
So off she went, navigating the hall as she went. Since they met each other properly after the wedding, Charlie and Danny had been attached at the hip. At work, they tried to line up their schedules, after work Charlie was teaching Danny how to cook, and Danny was teaching Charlie how to play cricket, which so far had amounted in Charlie almost ending up with his third concussion of the year after getting hit with one of Lucien’s stray shots. Lucien had since been banned from playing cricket with them; for Charlie’s safety.
While she was happy that the perpetually lonely Charlie had managed to make himself a friend, or Danny, sensing that Charlie was a loner had decided to adopt him, whichever, she was annoyed in equal measure. How was she meant to pursue Danny when Charlie was always hanging around him? She did not fancy talking about going out with someone on a proper date with Charlie in the room. Especially given Charlie’s endless offers to take her out proper. She’d been very interested in Danny prior to the wedding, and she’d thought he was interested in her. It felt like he was more interested in being Charlie’s buddy than having anything romantic to do with her.
As she approached the back room, she noticed the door was slightly ajar.
“Well, perhaps you should try not playing on your bad knee?”
This caught her attention. She paused at the door, angling herself so she could just see the two men. The door was almost closed because Danny was pantless. Not entirely, he was wearing his boxers, his white grass stained pants were sitting up on a table nearby. Charlie was knelt in front of him, holding a roll of medical tape in his hands.
“I didn’t have a choice, you saw that last ball! I had to win. Could you please be gentle down there?”
“Danny, you have a bad knee. You have known about your bad knee for years. Every time you land on it, you exacerbate the injury. You put your game above your health, so there is nothing I can do about your knee except fix up the scrape and tape it up. It’s going to hurt no matter what.”
“I hate when you’re right.”
Where had she heard that before? She’d had no idea Danny had a bad knee; he never seemed like it. The thought crosses her mind that maybe she doesn’t know Danny at all, given their admittedly brief association. Made sense he would tell Charlie that. It dawns on her exactly how much time they have been spending together. Once, when coming over for a brunch, she saw them both come out of Danny’s downstairs room, whispering and laughing about something.
“I’m always right.”
“I always hate you.”
Charlie tore a strip of tape off and bit the end to get it off the roll. He chuckled, a little noise Rose had heard before, but not that often. He didn’t have much in the way of a sense of humor that didn’t involve some level of sarcasm. While she was certain he at least understood most jokes, he seemed unimpressed by them.
“No, you don’t. You love me.” He smoothed the tape down, and Rose, not for the first time, notices how long and slim his fingers are. She loves the look of them. “There we go. Good as new, ya big baby.”
“Make my day and kiss it better?”
“What are you? Seven?”
Rose feels her eyebrows lift up onto her forehead as Charlie obliges him, and leans in, pressing a chaste kiss to the square of gauze covering Danny’s bloody knee. Her mind was confused, and also, strangely, blank. Certainly this wasn’t her charmingly dour Charlie? It couldn’t be.
“Can you really make my day and kiss something else while you’re down there?” Danny asked, pulling out the best set of puppy dog eyes she’d seen in a while, second only to her own. She cannot draw her eyes away, even though she did want to. She was desperate to know if what she was hearing was right. Calm down, Rose. They’re just two blokes having a laugh. They’re friends. They joke with each other.
“You’re already down there…”
“We’re in public, Danny.”
“There’s no one here! And you are so good at it! Your lips-“ He is silenced by a look on Charlie’s face that she has previously only seen angled towards Lucien when he says something stupid. They’re just kidding around, don’t work yourself up.
“As much as I love the compliments you’re giving me, I am not enticed to give you a French so much as I am to arrest you for gross stupidity.” Only Charlie Davis could be on his knees between another mans thighs and be in charge like this. He was pretty good at that, being in charge. He finally stood up, and gave a critical eye to Danny’s pants. “Here.”
Danny bypassed the pants to slip his finger through the belt loop of Charlie’s pants, and tugged him closer in a very unplatonic gesture. Rose forces herself to slap a hand over her mouth to stop herself making any audible noises. She thought Charlie was many things, but queer had never been one of them. And Danny? He’d always seemed like the perfect manly man. He had a string of ex-girlfriends, and a slightly wandering eye. He’d flirted with her, danced with her she was certain. Certain. But yet here they were.
Actually, when she thought about it…This made sense. It could also explain some of Charlie’s reluctance to talk about his romantic past. Damn him to Hell, he couldn’t let her have one fuckin’ thing, could he? First her uncle off handedly calling him son and him allowing it, and now he was stealing her potential boyfriend. Hadn’t she suffered enough for her previous misstep? She lost the entire relationship she had with him, but that wasn’t enough, was it?
Back in the room she was spying on, at least in her own opinion, Charlie seems unphased by the gesture, and raised one suspiciously perfect eyebrow at his potential lover.
“We’re already thirty minutes late. Matthew will have your head.”
“Thirty minutes, an hour, what does it matter?” Danny asked, lazily. He is very close to Charlie, too close. Rose makes a mental note to never play poker with Charlie, his unphased and moderately amused expression was to be envied.
“It matters because Hobart is right next door and I don’t fancy dying with my cock out. Not to mention your knee, I’d hate to have to rebandage it. Oh, and do you really want your whole team to come in here when I make you scream?”
Bill Hobart would absolutely murder someone for something like this. She’d always been convinced of that; regardless of his other qualities. Rose has no idea what he might do if he found out he’d been deceived by those he considered his family. She imagines it would end in at least one person being beat to death. Potentially, Charlie. Which strikes her heart in a worrisome way. Also? Charlie makes Danny scream? He was good, but not that good. Or maybe he was, and she just didn’t know. She imagined it would help, someone with familiar geography, so to speak.
“You never play fair.” Danny mumbled. Before he can move away, Charlie leant in and gave him a very brief kiss. Then, one pale hand slid in between Danny’s marginally more tanned thighs.
“Who said cheaters never prosper?” Charlie asked, voice so soft Rose could hardly hear it. Danny’s expression changed in something entirely new and entirely worrisome. “I’ll make it up to you when we get home.”
“I hate you sometimes.” Danny repeats, as Charlie steps away to hand him his pants.
“Only sometimes?” Charlie said, grinning his own lazy grin. She’s also never seen Charlie grin before. Not like this. Not so…Comfortable. Warm is not a word she’d ever associated with Charlie, in and out of the bedroom. He was a generous lover, is what she would say, if she was writing a review, but not exactly warm. Not to her or to anyone else particularly, besides maybe Jean, with whom he seemed to have an unusual bond. Right now, he is practically setting the room around him alight with his smile. Danny, now with pants, leant into Charlie to kiss him again. Charlie kisses back, very briefly.
“Only sometimes.” He confirmed. “Shall we?” Rose ducked into the dark hallway behind the door as Charlie pushed it all the way open. She watched as they both made their way out of the hallway and into the bright lights of the common space.
Her mind was all over the place. Firstly, how could she have pegged not only Charlie, but also Danny, so incorrectly? Secondly, what was she going to do with this new-found information? Her dirt, if you will. After all; Charlie and Danny are cops, members of the community. Maybe even important members.
The vindictive part of her mind suggests writing an article on homosexuality in the police force; using an unnamed source to accuse Charlie specifically, as punishment for taking away her potential suitor. The more reasonable part decides that’s the wrong course of action, and will hurt her much more than them, and instead proposes doing nothing and being happy for them. She’d work on that.
It’s a set of thoughts for another day; she can hear the team cheering Danny on as he entered, and she still needs that team picture.