When Mike Smash burst into tears live on air, Dave Nice immediately knew something was seriously wrong. All Dave did was mention the rise of muggings on London’s streets, and Mike started crying.
“...And that’s a serious problem, as you all must know...” Dave trailed off as he heard Mike make a strange whimpering sound.
He looked up, and saw Mike’s lip wobbling and his eyes filling with tears. Confused, Dave reached across the desk and squeezed his partner’s arm. And, just like that, Mike started sobbing. Tears ran down his cheeks and his face crumpled; it was horrible to see.
Dave just stared at him, not knowing what to do. And then he came back to his senses, and pressed a button and played a song, cutting their microphones so the listeners couldn’t hear Mike crying.
“Mike?” Dave tried to keep his voice soft as he leaned further forward. “What’s the matter?”
Mike covered his mouth in a futile attempt to muffle his sobs, tears still seeping down his cheeks. He shook his head and tears flicked off of his face.
“N-Nothing,” he said weakly, his voice muffled by his hand.
Dave raised his eyebrows, but he didn’t argue. He just held Mike’s hand and listened to the song, and hoped Mike would calm down soon.
Somehow, Dave and Mike managed to make it through the rest of their shift. Dave did almost all of the talking, and played more music than normal. Mike seemed to be trying his hardest to stop crying, but he was still sobbing; Dave could hear his shuddering breaths, and tears continued to dribble down his cheeks no matter how many times he wiped his eyes.
Once their radio slot was over, Dave grabbed Mike by the wrist and dragged him out of Television Centre. As they walked through the building, Dave saw several people staring at Mike, whose face was puffy and red from crying. They were already out in the car park before Mike said anything.
“Dave?” He said, his voice hoarse. “What’re you doing?”
“We’re going home,” Dave said, moving his hand to take Mike’s hand in his own.
He understood why Mike was asking him; after all, they never went straight home. They often went to the pub afterwards and had a few drinks. But today, Dave knew neither of them were in the mood to socialise – and he also wanted to find out what the hell had upset Mike.
And Dave was relieved when Mike simply nodded and let Dave help him into the car.
As Dave drove them home, he and Mike sat in silence. Mike had his arms loosely folded across his chest, and Dave could hear his uneven, jagged breaths. Dave wanted to say something, but he didn’t know how he could possibly reassure Mike.
So he didn’t break the silence, although he did cover Mike’s hand with his own when he stopped at the traffic lights. He thought he saw a fleeting smile on Mike’s tear-stained face, but he might have been imagining it. Although he hoped he hadn’t.
The moment they got home, Mike dashed up the stairs and went into their bedroom without even stopping to take his shoes off. Sighing, Dave followed after him. He found Mike sat cross legged on their double bed, his arms folded again, his head bowed. The poor thing looked so weak and drained.
“Mike?” Dave said. His voice was soft, but Mike still jumped.
He looked up sharply, and smiled nervously. “Yes, Dave?”
Sighing again, Dave sat down beside Mike and stared at him. “Michael, what happened?”
“Nothing,” Mike mumbled, avoiding eye contact.
“This can’t be ‘nothing’,” Dave said, trying to keep the exasperation out of his voice. “Are you hurt?”
Mike shook his head. “Nope. I’m just a bit... stressed.”
Dave raised his eyebrows. “You are hurt, aren’t you? Who hurt you, Mike?”
“No one,” Mike said, his voice starting to wobble – whether it was caused by anger or fear, Dave couldn’t tell.
“So how did it happen, then?”
“How’d what happen?” Mike said.
Dave felt a rush of anger, the sensation making his chest feel tight. But he knew shouting at Mike would have a detrimental effect, so he made sure to take a deep breath and count to ten before he said, “How did you get hurt?”
“Give it a rest, Dave,” Mike muttered.
Glaring at Dave, Mike got to his feet and tried to walk away. But Dave stood too and grabbed hold of his wrist, knowing they needed to talk about this. But he didn’t expect the reaction he got.
“Get off!” Mike shrieked, pulling his arm free of Dave’s grip. He stumbled away from him, his eyes wide with panic, his body tensed up. “Get off me!”
“Mike, Mike, Mike, calm down!” Dave cried, rushing towards him. He tried to touch Mike, but he lashed out, trying to shove Dave away.
“Get off me! Please...” Mike had been shrieking, but his last word was delivered as a desperate whisper.
“Mike,” Dave stepped forwards slowly, not wanting to scare him further. “It’s me, Dave. I didn’t mean to scare you. It’s all right.”
Mike leaned back against the wall, clearly out of energy. Dave stepped closer, staring at his partner as he took a deep breath and scrubbed at his damp face in a futile attempt to stop crying.
“Mike...” Dave kept his voice low, and did his best to smile.
He reached out and grasped his partner’s arms, watching Mike try to calm himself down. His legs were wobbling, and Dave wondered if he was going to collapse. Dave tightened his grip, and Mike flinched and pulled away from him, wincing.
“Shit, mate, did I hurt you?” he asked.
Mike shook his head and wiped his eyes with the back of his trembling hand. “Nah. Just made me jump.”
Dave didn’t know what to do. It was obvious that Mike was lying, and that there really was something horribly wrong.
“What’s wrong, Mike?” Dave said. His eyes were starting to sting, and he wanted to kick himself for getting tearful. “Please tell me.”
Mike seemed to admit defeat. He exhaled slowly and closed his eyes for a few seconds. When he opened his eyes, Mike stared down at his shaking hands as he mumbled, “Just a few bruises.”
“Show me,” Dave said. And then, realising how snappy he had sounded, he added, “Please.”
“Do I have to?” There was an almost whining tone to his voice, but, when Dave stared at his face, all he saw was a painfully nervous expression.
Dave nodded. “Yes.”
Mike sighed shakily, and started to unbutton his shirt. He looked up at Dave and frowned.
“Turn around,” he said.
Dave didn’t see why he needed to, but he did what Mike said. He turned on the spot and folded his arms across his chest. He heard Mike wince and breathe heavily as he took off his shirt. He wasn’t really sure if he wanted to see what Mike looked like, but he knew he had to.
“Ready, Dave,” Mike said weakly, and Dave, taking a deep breath, turned back around.
He groaned. Mike looked dreadful. His chest, stomach and arms were covered in cuts and bruises. When he looked over Mike’s shoulder, he saw his back was just as bad. Mike was staring down at the floor, his very pale face flushing slightly.
“’Just a few bruises’,” Dave muttered, feeling a bit sick. Trust Mike to use such a massive understatement. “Why didn’t you say?”
Mike sniffed. “I didn’t want to cause a fuss. It’s not that bad.”
“Michael, look at you!” Dave cried, exasperated.
He gestured at Mike’s bare torso, his eyebrows raised.
Mike smiled sheepishly. “Maybe it is quite bad.”
Dave sighed. He wanted to hug Mike, but he didn’t think he could without touching any of his many bruises.
“I’m sorry, Dave,” Mike said.
“You don’t have to be sorry, mate,” Dave said. “It’s not your fault. When did it happen?”
“Remember when I went out to the off-licence last night?”
Dave’s eyes widened. “Fucking hell, mate. Are you seriously telling me you’ve been dealing with this for nearly twenty four hours without telling me?”
“I guess so,” Mike said, avoiding eye contact again.
Dave sighed, but he didn’t argue. “Do... do you know who did it?”
“Why’d they hurt you?” Dave asked, despite being pretty sure of the answer.
“They recognised me, called me ‘that poof off the radio’. They chased me, and then... they hit me...” His voice cracked, and he trailed off.
Dave stared at him. There were tears in Mike’s eyes. He blinked, and they started to dribble down his cheeks. Mike wiped at his eyes and turned his head away.
“Mike... don’t cry,” Dave said, stepping closer. “It’s all right.”
“I’m just so s-sick of this, Dave,” Mike said, his voice quivering.
He didn’t elaborate, but Dave knew exactly what he meant. After all, this wasn’t the first time either of them had been beaten up simply for being gay. Dave didn’t know what to say, but Mike seemed to understand his sad-yet-knowing smile, because he smiled back.
And then Mike leaned his head against Dave’s, and Dave held his hands, knowing this was probably the only way he could comfort Mike without hurting him. But it didn’t matter; as long as he was with Mike, comforting him, making him feel a bit better after the shit he’d been through, that was all right with him.