Two and a half weeks since he'd been back at work, and Dave was almost obscenely proud of himself.
He'd left Russell's house after Russell's lawyer arranged to have Dave's car released from the police impound lot. He'd also gone back to the dive he'd been staying at, which seemed even more dingy and pathetic after his time at Russell's. He'd been better, though, so it had been time to return to his hovel.
Work had been hard at first, but while the guys had been sympathetic about Dave's "mugging", they hadn't treated him like an invalid. Sure, they'd helped out when it had been obvious that Dave couldn't quite manage to lift something or move as many cases of shit as he'd been able to before, but they hadn't been all smug and snide about it. Just "hey, I'll take that if you'll carry this", which was... damned fucking cool, Dave thought.
The project was going well, too, even if Manny had been a little annoyed by how long Dave had been out. "No one else gets it, kid," Manny said on Dave's second day back. "They just see the work, not the building."
It was good to be back. Good to be feeling the stretch and burn in his muscles, even if Dave thought he should be used to it again, by then. Hell, his bruises were gone, his ribs were mostly healed, and even though his nose hadn't set quite straight, it was fine. He was a guy, after all, so who cared whether he had a little bend there?
So, yeah. He was working again, doing his job pretty much as well as he had from the start, with the minor exception of not being able to lift things the way he'd done before. Even that would be back to normal in another week or so, though, so what did he have to complain about?
Nothing, Dave growled to himself, as Russell wandered through the site in hard hat and work clothes. Nothing, except... God, it had to be his imagination. There was no possible way that Russ' pants got tighter every day. There was no chance that Russell was spending more and more time out of the trailer, "inspecting" things near wherever Dave happened to be working that day.
And there wasn't even a single snowball's chance in Hell that Russell was deliberately posing against the steel girder across the way for Dave's benefit. It just wasn't possible, except...
Those blue-blue eyes were looking in his direction, and while Russell's thumb was hooked in a belt loop of the man's jeans, the rest of those long, elegant fingers were sort of stroking over Russell's groin, and when Dave really looked, he noticed that Russell was not just staring his way, but staring at... well, something a good two feet or so below Dave's face.
And there was definitely something there for Russ to look at, Dave admitted with what he thought was a silent groan. He just hoped none of the guys noticed.
"Oh, for Christ's sake," Manny grunted, giving Dave what seemed like an amused but irritated smile. "Just get a room, okay? Maybe then we'll be able to get some actual work done. Because this whole 'you watching Russ, Russ watching you' thing is starting to get tired. Besides," and this time Manny's grin was less annoyed and more laughing, "the pool's up to about five hundred bucks, and Joyce has her heart set on a rabbit fur jacket. So get a move on, Dave. I'll be really pissed if Jonas beats me by a day."
It was the first hint Dave had that at least some of his co-workers suspected--knew--what he was, and it was... terrifying. But also not, considering what Manny had said about there being a...
"Pool?" Dave snarled, "There's a 'pool'? Why would you even think I was..." Jesus. A pool. On when he and Russell would fuck. Christ.
Then Manny was snorting and shaking his head, even while shouting out for Jason to start measuring a second time. "Calm down, kid," he said, and Dave couldn't even make himself try. "Everyone knows which way the boss swings. Didn't take more than a month of you not going out to the titty-bars with the guys for us to wonder. Then Rob saw you heading out from that fucking shit-hole you live in, about a week later, and..."
Manny shrugged. "Look, kid. No harm, yeah? You're cool. Good at your job. You don't hit on anyone here, or even stare like you're interested. And this crew--Russ' crew--isn't made up of fag-hating assholes, okay? Shit, the boss saw to that after his Dad died. And if you wanna know the truth, Tom Hartwell didn't stand for that kind of shit, either. Not even before Russ owned up and did the right thing by getting divorced."
Manny chuckled, and Dave figured that was a good thing because he was entirely speechless.
"Guess what I'm saying, kid, is go for it. Hell, never seen anyone look so hungry as you two do when you think no one's looking. Fuck, if Russ wasn't still so tense and shit, I'd think you two were doing it while you were 'getting better' after that so-called mugging of yours."
Dave's head was swimming for the rest of the day, and even though he knew he'd worked, he couldn't have said what all he'd done, even if his life depended on it. All he knew was...
Manny had noticed his attraction to Russell. Had even implied that Russ was interested, too.
Russ had been looking at him. Possibly more than Dave thought.
And Russ had been standing just a hundred or so feet away that afternoon. Standing and staring and rubbing his cock through his too-tight-for-work jeans.
There was a fucking pool, for Christ's sake! And yet...