Jeremy and James had been bickering all day, biting at each other verbally over just about anything. James had woken up with a cluster headache and Jeremy with a backache and it had set both of them on edge from minute one that day.
They’d just gotten to Jeremy’s house from their crummy day at work, their schedules tight they were staying there temporarily.
They hadn’t even taken their coats off before the two had started up again, continuing their argument from the car ride.
As the youngest member of their group watched the two older members fight he felt small and unnecessary.
They’d never gotten so heated before in all their years together and Richard was getting more and more upset as he witnessed their arguments escalate, unable to referee. He’d been trying all day to distract, interfere or soothe the other two but everytime he tried they just turned on him or flat out ignored him, raising their voices over his and refusing to acknowledge him.
As things progressed the words being said between the two became harsher and more personally cutting. The topic of their arguments nothing even relevant to the day, but their intent at this point was to hurt each other. And watching it both scared him and tore his heart into two, breaking it.
Now Richards eyes blurred as once again his pleas for them to stop went unheard as they wandered through the house with raised voices speaking over him, fingers pointing and hands smacking each other’s away.
Richard followed them, listening to Jeremy in the living room as older man rounded on James for the millionth time that day.
“Please, please stop! What’s it going to take?”
Richard pleaded desperately but no one answered him, instead Jeremy kept right on with his tirade.
“Oh well, we can’t alllll be as smart as ‘Captain Intelligence’ can we? Some of us are forced to bow down as lesser beings are we then May?!” Jeremy yelled obnoxiously.
Coming close to him Richard reached a hand out to James, trying to cut off his reaction to Jeremy’s button pushing attempts.
As soon as his mouth opened to interject he was stopped instantly, his seeking hand slapped away sharply by James’s.
“Shut up Hammond!!” James yelled at him clutching his aching head with his other hand absently before turning back to Jeremy.
He’d been unaware of how hard he’d really hit Hammond, the hurt look on his face, tears in his eyes, or how much angrier it’d made Jeremy.
“And you! You ARE fucking dumb Jeremy, there’s a reason no one lets you make any important decisions, we all know you’ll ruin anything you touch! A fucking dumb ape!”
James spits out at Jeremy seethingly.
Jeremy shakes as he clenches his coat in his hands before throwing it across the living room in frustration, breaking the floor lamp in the process and leaving the living room dark aside from the side table’s dim light.
“Another brilliant decision by Clarkson!” James awards smugly in the darkened room.
“At least I’m able to MAKE decisions May! That’s your problem, you’re weak and terrified of making a commitment or a decision!” Jeremy rounds on him.
“That’s why you puuuuuurrrr when things are OCDly perfect. It’s all planned and nothing changes, nothing to be afraid of, no chances of failing!”
Waving his arm dramatically Jeremy stepped into James’s personal space and said coldly
“That’s why you’re not a leader James, you have no faith in yourself. Accurate actually! And you have, correct again I might add, no self respect.”
James stepped forward to close the space and shoved him violently and quite hard, taking the older man by surprise. The action so far out of the quieter man’s character that Jeremy wasn’t ready for it and stumbled back a few steps awkwardly.
In the darkness of the living room Jeremy’s face was hidden in the shadows. In the past they’d seen him get into many fights triggered by far less aggressive actions.
Richard stepped forward and reached out intended on separating them, “Hey! Common you tw-“ but he was cut off as James leaned in and sneered at Jeremy.
“Fuck you Clarkson, you’re fucking worthless.”
Nerves and temper frayed and at their end, Jeremy sees red and reacts without thinking, an act he always regret, and raises his fist against May for the first ever to strike with a hard, closed fist.
The blow that was intended for James however never lands on him, instead it’s full force is taken by Hammond who had shoved himself in between them seeing Jeremy’s arm raise and refusing to stand aside stepped perfectly into its path.
The punch from the larger man, fueled by the misery of being in pain all day, anger and hurt hadn’t been pulled in anyway and struck the smaller man violently cross the face and temple.
There was harsh cracking noise as his fist connected solidly with Richard’s delicate flesh, this was followed by a cry from Richard drowning out a gasp from James.
He fell to the ground hard, landing on his side and even sliding a bit on the hardwood, his body still at first before it started shaking as he moved to sit up.
Jeremy’s red vision instantly faded, albeit far too late. He now gasped in horror at his own action and reached for Richard in the darkness who’s quick breaths sounded suspiciously like he was suddenly crying.
“Oh god Hammo, I didn’t mean to! I-, I’m sorry I didn’t mean-, James he-“ Jeremy tried to say shakingly.
He reached for Richard the smaller man jerked away from him, scrambling back a few feet into the hall breath hitching.
When he raised his shaking brown eyes to look at Jeremy he and James both saw his lip was split, his temple and eye were red and he was indeed crying now.
“Richard please, I’m sorry we won’t fight, he didn’t mean-”
As he spoke James quickly stepped forward to crouch down but Hammond shook his head and shuffled away again and James was cut off by Richard as he screamed in an almost panicked tone.
His voice was thick with emotions, his hard breathing echoed throughout the now silent house.
He bit his broken lip and they could see now that he was just as upset as they had been, but for completely different reasons.
Jeremy, ignoring his mates words, tried to reach for him again in an attempt to comfort him.
But what happened next broke his heart, Richard flinched violently and covered his face with his arm, a small whimper escaping his bleeding mouth.
By his reaction it was clear, he’d expected Jeremy to hit him again.
“Oh gods Richard, sweetheart I would never..I didn’t-“ Jeremy tried, his own voice choking but before the he or James knew what had happened Richard had scrambled to his feet and was out the door.
His bike keys always on him, they knew he was gone when they heard the bike revving down the road, his helmet still on the coat rack.
Head hung Jeremy’s heart clenched and he was rooted to the spot where he’d done one of the most terrible things in his life and wronged the two people that meant the most to him. Broken he sat unable to chase after one and unable to raise his eyes to look at the other.