“About bloody time,” Lee muttered as he heard a key in the door.
He hauled himself off of the sofa and went into the hallway, and waited for Lance to open the door. The fact that he was taking so long made Lee wonder if he was drunk.
“Where the hell have you been?” He cried as the door swung open.
And then he stumbled backwards, his eyes widening.
“Lance,” Lee gasped, horrified.
Lance was stood in the doorway, swaying unsteadily on his feet. And he looked awful. His face was all swollen, and his nose was bleeding. His trousers were ripped at the knees, and his hands were grazed. He was hunched forwards slightly, like he had a stomach ache.
Lance looked up at him and smiled weakly, and blood dribbled out of the corner of his mouth.
“Hi, Lee,” he said thickly.
“Bloody hell, mate,” Lee said, moving towards Lance. “What happened?”
“Fell over,” Lance said, and he stumbled slightly.
“Careful!” Lee cried, grabbing hold of Lance’s arms to stop him falling into the wall. He sighed. “Let’s get you sat down.”
Taking Lance’s key out of the lock, Lee kicked the front door shut and led his partner into the living room. Lance stumbled as he walked, dragging his leg and wincing. Once they got there, Lance collapsed onto the sofa, gasping for breath. Lee watched blood dribble down Lance’s top lip, and he had an idea.
“Back in a minute,” he babbled, and he hurried out of the room.
Lee ran into the kitchen and grabbed the tea towel off of the radiator. Running it under the tap, he wrung it out slightly and went back into the living room.
“Here,” he said, holding it out to Lance.
Lance smiled weakly and took the cloth from him. He carefully pressed it against his bleeding nose, wincing as he did so. Lee didn’t know what to do, so he just sat down beside Lance.
“Thanks, mate,” Lance said, his voice muffled by the cloth.
“It’s nothing,” he said softly.
Lance shuffled slightly so he was slumped against Lee, their shoulders pressed together. Lee could hear his heavy breathes as he breathed through his mouth, and the damp tea towel was dripping water onto his trousers.
“So... you fell over, did you, mate?” Lee asked, trying to keep his voice friendly and non-threatening.
He actually felt Lance tense up slightly. Lee turned his head to stare at his partner’s face; Lance saw him looking and what little of his mouth Lee could see gave him a very fake smile.
“Lance?” Lee said, his heart beginning to race.
Lance took the tea towel off of his nose and looked at him. The congealed blood had gone, leaving his face looking pink and swollen. His eye was starting to bruise, and blood was still oozing out of his puffy nose.
“Yeah...” Lance eventually said. “Yeah... I fell over. Tripped. Smacked my face in on the curb. You know what I’m like when I’m drunk.”
“Lance,” Lee said. “Is that what really happened?”
“Course it is.”
Lance gave him what looked like a genuine smile, but Lee wasn’t quite sure he was telling the truth.
That night in bed, Lee awoke with a start. He glanced around, trying to find what had woken him up... and that was when he spotted Lance. His partner was sat bolt upright in bed, breathing rapidly and shallowly, his shoulders tense. Lee slowly shuffled into a sitting position, and, from this angle, he saw Lance’s hands were shaking.
“Lance?” He whispered.
Lance jumped and turned his head. To Lee’s horror, tears were dribbling down his cheeks.
“Are you crying?” He asked, knowing it was a stupid question.
Lance shook his head and wiped at his eyes. But this obviously hurt his bruises, because he let out a pained hiss and screwed his eyes up.
“Nope,” he said, his voice thick and shaking.
Lee sighed, feeling his chest tighten as he watched his partner cry. “Come on. Come here.”
Shuffling closer to Lance, Lee wrapped his arms around him and pulled Lance into a hug. Lance sat stiffly for a few seconds, but then slumped against him. They moved so they were lying down with Lee’s arms still around Lance.
Even though he desperately wanted to know, Lee knew asking Lance what had really happened probably wasn’t the best thing to do right now. So Lee just hugged Lance and let him cry against his chest and told himself he would ask Lance about it in the morning.