Characters: Rob and Tim
Author's Note: Written for the Tea Room's Three-minute Fiction Challenge: Laughing and Crying
The back door slammed, only to be flung open seconds later by Rob. Everything, everything, was going wrong today and he was just so fed up. Dammit!
Slamming his way through the house, Tim stumbled over and kicked at boxes of books listing drunkenly and gathering dust in the passage way, awaiting donation to the op shop and never seeming to make it. Growling and adding this to his seething hate of the day thus far, the man let loose a stream of invective. The more pissed off he became the calmer Rob got until he just wanted to scream. And did, the sound bouncing back at him from the walls of their bedroom. Hearing Rob behind him, Tim rounded on the man.
"Enough!" Rob barked. "Not another word!"
"Fine!" he yelled, fumbling at his belt and ripping it through the loops. Thrusting it into Rob's hand, he let out a howl of frustration as the other man simply held up his palms refusing to rise to the bait or take the course Tim had laid out and was intent on steering them both along in his fury. "Take it!"
"I said take it! You know you want to! I'm a shit and a disappointment and a crap boyfriend. You're supposed to be in charge, show me you've got some bloody balls and just do it!"
Rob took hold of Tim by the shoulders and firmly steered him out of their bedroom, giving a stronger push and a single hard whack on his bum when the protesting man braced his bare feet against the floor.
"Out and calm down. Right now!"
Tim turned and tried to push back past Rob, who blocked his path with his arm on the door frame and a look that he very rarely found cause to use. Miserable and furious and too wound up to care, Tim tried once more to goad Rob, though whether to fuel the fight or end it, he could not say. He waved the tightly clenched belt close to Rob's face, causing the other man to blink.
"You know you want to!"
Rob held fast, not bothering to hide his own unhappiness, even as he tried to avoid stoking his partner's. He knew he sounded weary and that that would scare Tim, who so often worried about people getting sick of him, but he could not lie to him.
"No. That's not how I win arguments. And it is not bloody fair if you think it gives you licence to say and do anything you please to me, no matter how hurtful, and then I have to forgive you just because you took a hiding. It doesn't work like that. I have a right to be mad, and you will just have to deal."
With that, Rob shut the door, leaving a shocked and suddenly silent Tim standing in the hallway.
Several minutes later he realised Rob was not about to relent. The door was not locked, and the fact that Rob trusted him enough to leave it so felt both hopeful and damning in light of his behaviour. Holding back tears and rushing shame that threatened to overwhelm now that the heady and blinding beauty of adrenalin was leaving, Tim stalked into the kitchen and paced; fretting now that the yelling was done. Finding no answers looming from the view outside, the cool of the fridge or the quiet tick of the timer on the oven, Tim slumped down onto the chair by the table and cried.
"Fuck", he whispered fiercely, "You are such a prick, Tim Delaney."
Exhausted, Tim sniffed deeply, swallowing the thick mucus in his mouth and tried to control his hitching breathing. He wanted Rob.
This time the books were spared though he made a mental note to actually shift them. Hesitating, he stood, head resting against the cool wood of the door and just listened to the sounds his partner made on the other side as he opened and closed drawers, stripped the bed and generally pottered. Doing what he could to keep occupied until he too was ready to let the day's nastiness go, Tim realised with a flush of guilt.
Bringing his hand up, Tim tentatively tapped his knuckle on the wood panel. "Knock knock."
Rob paused in what he was doing and heard the misery in the other man's quiet words. This was an old game, one they'd often used when Tim was learning how to come down after an explosion and do that hardest of things. It was telling that his partner returned to the tactic now.
Sighing, Rob opened the door and pulled Tim inside and into a hug. "C'mere you."