hannah_chapter1: (Calm)
Title: Friends (3/?)
Author: hannah_chapter
Summary: Sequel to Enemies. When worlds collide...
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: 18/NC-17
Feedback: Hit me, baby, one more time.
Disclaimer: Don't own Muse, this is fiction, never happened.

"Are you insane?!?"

Matt's angry shout is a spike driving deep into his brain. Dom closes his eyes and wishes he'd never started this as Matt continues to rage.

"Why, Dom? Why would you, of all people, do something as dumb as this?"

"Baby - "

"Don't you 'baby' me, Dominic Howard. You can't sweet-talk your way out of this. It ends, right here, right now. You won't see him again."

"But - "

But nothing. You're not seeing him again. I won't allow it."

The blond's temper slips a notch.

"So that's how it is now? You make all the rules? I thought this was a marriage, now it's a dictatorship?"

"It's always been a dictatorship, Dom, you just didn't notice when you were the one running it," Matt's voice changes to a rough imitation of his husband's, "we need to change the way we play this game. Quiet and careful is the only way to be, now."

"I never forced you into anything. You went along with it because you know keeping a low profile makes sense. It keeps us safe."

"If that's true, again I ask, why are you doing this? How does drinking with cops keep us safe?"

The irony of Matt, of all people, preaching on the subject of improper relationship with cops is not lost on Dom, but now really isn't the time to bring it up.

"He's not just any cop. He's my friend."

"Was your friend. Now, who can say?"

"He already had a chance to bust me. He didn't."

"Doesn't prove a thing. He could be holding back, trying to get both of us in the trap."

"I trust him."

"I don't."

"You can trust me."

"Can I? Alright, you know what, fine. Do what the fuck you want to, Dom. Just don't expect me to come running when you fuck up. And you will, I know you will."

"Like you've never fucked up. You'd be in jail right now if it wasn't for me."

"And you'd be in jail right now if it wasn't for me!"

They glare at each other.

"I don't need you, Matt," Dom spits, "I can take care of myself."

"Then take care of yourself!"

Matt screams this last sentence as he turns his back on his husband and storms out. Dom snarls and hurls the nearest available object at the door Matt just slammed.



Dom pulls the blanket up, tries to get warm, fails. He laughs, a small, bitter sound.

Exiled to the couch. What a fucking cliché.

Two days since the fight and they're still not speaking. Their heist preps are on hold, they stalk around each other like angry cats and Matt has claimed the bedroom, leaving Dom out here on the couch on what is, without a doubt, the coldest week of the year. He turns onto his side, wishes for Matt's arms around him, can't quite bring himself to go and offer the apology that might make that happen.

Matt and Dom don't actually fight much. The problems that dog most couples - infidelity, money worries, the basic tedium of everyday life - just do not apply to them. High-profile fugitives, professional criminals in a world that would happily see them dead or in jail for life, their love is the only sure thing and there just isn't time for all that petty bullshit. They disagree from time to time, what couple doesn't, but they've never had a real fight.

Until now.

How do they make this right?

The blond's still chewing it over as he drifts into a light sleep. Light in his eyes and fingers stroking his cheek wake him. Dom sits up and squints at his husband.


"Dom. Come to bed."

"Wha - " Dom begins.

"No," Matt shushes him, "no talk. We can talk in the morning. Just come to bed with me now."

This Dom is more than happy to do. They climb into bed and, for the first time in days, Dom is warm. Matt grants his wish, pressing his chest against Dom's back and wrapping strong arms around him. Dom falls into a deep, blissful sleep, safe and warm in his lover's embrace.

Morning brings a familiar sensation: Matt spooning Dom, chewing sleepily on his shoulder. The blond smiles - his little bun is teething. He rolls over to face Matt and their lips meet in a soft kiss. That soft kiss is followed by a harder kiss, then another, and another as their arousal grows. Dom collapses onto his back and Matt hovers above him.

"Top or bottom?" he enquires.

"Bottom" Dom immediately replies, "make love to me, Matt."

The blond whimpers and clutches the sheets as Matt enters him. He used to worry about them losing their spark, that time would eventually wither away desire. He's happy to report this hasn't happened. They still want each other as much as they ever did and the sex is just as hot as it was when they were on opposite sides of the law. Maybe - God! - maybe even hotter....

Dom's thoughts lose coherence as the head of Matt's cock hits his sweet spot, again and again and again. Nothing else matters now, only the pleasure they are giving themselves and each other ...

The winter sunshine streams through the window and shines on a blob of sticky, panting flesh.

"You know," Matt gasps, "most couples have make-up sex after they've actually, you know, made up."

Dom laughs.

"We're not most couples," he says.

"Thank Christ for that," Matt ruffles the blond's hair, "I shouldn't have blown up at you like that, Dom. I'm sorry."

"That's okay, I get it."

"I didn't mean all those things I said."

"i know and you're right, meeting a cop is crazy. But he was my friend once, and I didn't have too many of those, you know?"

"Yeah, I know."

"But if you really don't want me seeing him, then I won't."

"See him if you want to. Just be careful, Dom. I can't lose you again."

"You won't."

Dom rubs his husband's back and Matt yawns.

"So," he says, "does your cop friend think we're still doing banks?"

"I guess so. I didn't tell him any different."

Banks were fine, in the beginning. But times change and bank security has, in the last couple of years, tightened to an insane degree. Launching nuclear warheads is easier than opening bank vaults these days and the cash in tellers' drawers doesn't even cover the cost of setting up a score.

Armored cars are a different story. A lot less risk and a lot more money. They can, on a good day, clear over half a mill. Matt and Dom had still been making good money from banks, but they could see the writing on the wall and they had, in the months leading up to their betrayal, been talking about switching to cars. Then Matt caught a couple of bullets and Dom carved himself a brand-new, blood-soaked reputation. The blond took the reins and, while Matt lay in a surgeon's back bedroom, breathing through a tube, Dom planned and executed their last round of bank scores.

Matt wasn't a hundred percent by then, far from it, but he could be moved and they had to get out of there, so Dom loaded him into the back of a custom-made truck and took him to the cabin. They spent eight months there, under the protection of Chris, Kelly and all their family and, when they did go back to work, it was with a whole new gameplan.

"The cops don't know anything," Dom tells Matt, "we're five steps ahead of them."

"Good - but we need to make sure we stay ahead."

"We will. We always do."


"I still can't believe it," Tom says.

"Believe what?" Dom asks.

Tom spreads his hands in a helpless gesture.

"All of it. Any of it. You're not a cold-blooded killer, Dom, that's just not you."

"I wasn't, back when we were friends. But people change. I've changed."

"I still don't buy it."

"Fine, let me tell you exactly how it happened, then we'll see what you believe."

Dom can't keep still. Matt's blood drying on his pants, the remains of Matt's kevlar vest in his hands and Matt himself in the hands of the surgeon - it's all too much and if Dom stops to think about it, he really will go crazy. He paces up and down and, when another man walks in, he doesn't even see him.

"Dom," the man says.

Dom doesn't answer.


That gets Dom's attention. Because he is the boss now.

"Luke. Everyone else get away?"

"Yeah, they were too busy chasing you," Luke shuffles his feet, "Matt?"

"Alive. In surgery. That's all I got."

The blond looks at the vest still in his hands, curses and tosses the pieces on the floor.

"We were sold out, Luke. The cops knew we'd be there," Dom tugs off his own kevlar vest, "they knew they'd need armor-piercing rounds, they knew everything, or almost everything. We got a rat in the house."

"It was Jay."

"How do you know that?"

"I did everything you told me to. I got them all in the van, took them to the second place while you drew the heat off us."

Dom nods. That was another one of his additions: a second meeting place, the location only known to Matt and Dom, a safety measure designed for just this type of situation. When the cops showed up Dom slipped the address into Luke's hand ... then Matt was crying out, falling and Dom was dragging him to the backup car and blazing a way out of there.

"Alright, you got to the warehouse. Then what?"

"Everyone was in a panic, shouting, pointing fingers. Everyone but Jay. He was standing all by himself, saying nothing. It made me curious, so I kept a close eye on him. When he slipped out the side door, I followed, and I caught him trying to make a call. I smashed his phone to pieces and dragged him back in."

Luke flashes bruised and bloody knuckles.

"He didn't want to give it up, but I can be very persuasive when the mood takes me."

Dom looks at the door leading to the surgery and sighs. He doesn't want to leave Matt, but he can't do anything for him and this mess needs to be cleaned up. Now.

"Let's go."

Jay's hanging upside down when they get to the warehouse. Stu is slapping his face and Gil is running a thumb along the edge of a large hunting knife. They turn at Dom's approach, ask about Matt.

"Doc's working on him now," Dom folds his arms, takes a good, long look at Jay, "so this is the piece of shit that sold us out."

"That's him," Luke says, "I caught him trying to call his cop buddies."

"Dom, please - " Jay begins.

Is it an apology, an explanation or an outright denial? They'll never know because Dom doesn't let him finish. The blond snatches Gil's knife and Jay shrieks as Dom carves him from balls to breastbone, opening him right up. Blood and entrails hit the floor, splash up and splatter Dom with gore. He doesn't mind. The blond turns to face his crew. He sees shock in their expressions, which is to be expected, but he sees something else, too: admiration. That's good.

"Luke," he says, "Stu. Come with me."

"Where, boss?" Stu asks.

"We need to take care of his family."

"What do I do?" Gil asks.

"Divide the money," Dom jerks a thumb at the carcass on the hook, "burn that," he looks at the blade still in his hand, "I like your knife, I'm keeping it."

"It's yours."

They leave Gil in the warehouse and take two cars. Jay's family all live and work in one house, which is convenient. Looking through a window, Dom can see Jay's father and two of his brothers in the kitchen, drinking coffee. Perfect.

There's an axe on a chopping block by the back door. Dom picks it up and kicks the door open. Stu and Luke follow him in. They think they're here to back him up but Dom doesn't need backup. He needs witnesses. He wants them to see and hear and spread the word, He wants all the right people to know what happens when they fuck with Matt Bellamy and Dom Howard.

Jay's father is standing by the stove, pouring himself more coffee. The blond swings with all his strength, the blade shears through flesh and bone and brain and embeds itself in the wall, nailing the old man in place as he dies. Dom leaves the axe where it is, pulls Gil's kife out of his belt and sticks it brother number one's eye, shoves it right up to the hilt. Brother number two stumbles to his feet as Dom snatches a cup from the table and flings black, boiling coffee in his face. He falls to the ground, screaming. Dom kicks the chair aside, stamps down, twists his foot and the scream becomes a death rattle as brother number two's windpipe is crushed.

Dom is pulling the knife free when the third brother bursts into the kitchen.

"What the fuck?" he gasps.

He's so busy staring at the mess he doesn't hear Dom coming up from behind, not until the blond grabs a fistful of greasy hair and yanks his head back. Dom slits his throat before he can even think about fighting back. Dom leaves the kitchen and here's the fourth brother, running down the hall, charging at Dom and not with a gun or even a practical weapon, like a baseball bat. No, this idiot's got a samurai sword. He's a rail-thin pimp used to beating girls too strung out on junk to fight back. Dom's in the best shape he's ever been in and jacked up on adrenaline and bloodlust. It's no contest. Dom kicks him in the knee, takes his ridiculous sword and performs his second gutting of the day.

It takes them almost an hour to find the last brother. He's on a toilet seat with a needle in his arm, so out of it he offers no resistance when Dom removes the belt from his arm and strangles him with it.

Then it's done.

They search the house, make sure there are no girls tied up in the basement or attic, then make a trail of gasoline out the door, light it up and watch the whole thing burn.

The surgeon is yawning, pulling off blood-stained gloves when Dom returns, Luke and Stu flanking him once more.

"What a mess," he says, "the first bullet hit the chest. He's got a collapsed lung, some secondary infections and he lost a lot of blood. The second bullet just broke his collarbone."

Dom blinks. In all the excitement, he hadn't even noticed the second bullet.

"But he'll live?" he asks.

"Yes, and he'll make a full recovery."

Dom smiles for what seems like the first time in days.

"He's got a long, hard road ahead of him," the surgeon says, "I used up most of my blood supply on him today and he'll need another couple of transfusions in the next week or so."

"Blood is expensive," Dom says. It's a statement, not a question.


Dom smirks and snaps his fingers. They made a quick stop on the way here and now Luke steps up and dumps a big bag of money at the doctor's feet.

"Take care of him, doc, and do whatever it takes. When I say money is no object, I mean exactly that. Now, I want to see him."

"Of course, but ..." the surgeon says as tactfully as he can, "might I suggest a shower and a change of clothes, first?"

Dom's little adventure has left him covered in blood, more than covered, plated in it, from head to toe. Doc's got a point and so, when Dom finally makes it to his husband's bedside, it's with wet hair and in borrowed clothes. Matt looks so small and delicate in the big hospital bed, one half of him tightly bandaged, a tube down his throat and a drip in his arm. Dom pulls up a chair and takes Matt's hand in both of his. Matt's eyes flutter open and fix on Dom. He tries to speak, but the tube turns everything into soft, choking sounds.

"Shhh," Dom tells him, "don't try to talk."

He leans over and kisses Matt's forehead.

"Just rest," he tells his husband, "and don't worry. I've got it all under control."

And he does.

"Jesus Christ."

Tom has gone the fabled whiter shade of pale

Dom sips his drink.

"You believe me now?"

"I believe you. But why - " Tom swallows thickly, takes a drink of his own, "why did you do it like that?"

"Like what?"

"Like that. You could have just shot them. Why did you have to be so fucking brutal?"

"It was necessary."

"Necessary," Tom repeats, sarcastic.

"Yes, Tom, necessary. You need to understand something. In this world, my world, respect is everything. You live and die on your reputation."

"I get that."

"No, no you don't," Dom rubs his eyes, tries to put it in a way that makes sense, "look, Matt's not just my husband, he's Matt fucking Bellamy. He was a legend before he was old enough to drink. There are men in this business who'd crawl over broken glass to be on one of our crews and it isn't about the money, well, not just about the money. They just want to be near him. You see?"

"I guess so."

"Matt's a fantastic thief but, more than that, he's loyal. He's been arrested, shot, he's broken into a police station, all for his crew. And loyalty is a two-way street. People hear Matt's been hurt, betrayed, they look to me, want to know what I'm going to do about it. They want blood and, if I don't give it to them, someone else will. Jay and his family, they're still dead, but now everything I've done, the name I've made for myself over the years is gone. I'm just an ex-cop playing at being a gangster."

The blond finishes his drink.

"That's why I did what I did, and why I did it the way I did it. I sent a clear message. Now they all know I'm not afraid to get my hands dirty, they know what I'll do to anyone who fucks with us. Some guys can whisper about me behind my back, call me a fucked-up psycho butcher, I don't care. Better a butcher than a weakling coasting on his husband's reputation."

"That's why you did it?"

"Mostly," Dom looks at Tom with eyes gone flat and cold, "they hurt Matt, they had to bleed. I made them bleed and I'd do it again."

Tom stands up.

"This is a lot to process. I need time to think."

"About if you ever want to see me again."


"Alright," Dom is nonchalant, "I'll be here next week. You don't show, I'll know the reason why. It might even be for the best."

Tom stumbles out of the bar, mind whirling. He's so wrapped up in what he's been told, he doesn't even notice the small man with the red hair and beard at first. The man keeps pace with Tom, moving closer and closer, getting right up in his personal space.

"Can I help you with something?" Tom asks the stranger.

"Cut the shit, you know who I am," the stranger replies.

Just like that, Tom does. He's been a face in a mugshot, a voice on tv, the light in Dom's eyes. Now here he is, in the flesh at last.

"Matt Bellamy."

"The one and only."

"Spying on your man now, are you? I thought you guys trusted each other."

"It's not Dom I don't trust."

"Okay, so what, you're here to threaten me? Anything happens to Dom and you'll kill me?"

"Not quite. If anything happens to Dom because of you, anything at all, I'll kill everyone you've ever loved, and I promise you, it won't be quick. I'll take your life apart, piece by piece and, when I'm sure you've finally lost everything, that's when I'll kill you."

Tom is suddenly cold all over. That criminologist might have been full of shit on so many points, but he wasn't kidding about their psychotic devotion to one another.

"You don't scare me," he mumbles.

"Then you're an even bigger fool than I thought. Be seeing you."

Matt walks away and is soon lost in the crowd, leaving Tom alone.
hannah_chapter1: (Invasion)
Title: Friends (2/?)
Author: hannah_chapter
Summary: Sequel to Enemies. When worlds collide...
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: 15/R
Feedback: Hit me, baby, one more time.
Disclaimer: Don't own Muse, this is fiction, never happened.

Tom stands in the middle of the market, mind whirling.

Did he see what he thinks he just saw?

Is that really possible?

Only one way to find out.

The man, who might be Dom Howard and might just be some random guy, is shuffling down the next aisle. Tom, thinking the most casual thoughts he can, tries to sidle up to him and get a better look. He is not successful. His quarry spots him, does a ninety-degree turn and walks out of the market.

Tom ignores the nervous, fretting part of his brain, the part that's telling him to leave well enough alone, and follows. He's barely out of the market when it happens: a hand grabs the collar of his coat and hauls him into a convenient alley. His attacker shoves him up against the wall, holds him in place and Tom can feel the muzzle of a gun pressing against the one place no man ever wants to feel a gun pressed against.

"Are you out of your fucking mind?" Dom snarls, and it's Dom alright, Tom would know that voice anywhere, "you want to make your wife a widow? Huh? Do you?"

"I'm divorced."

This is not the answer Dom was expecting, and it puts him off-balance. He lets the cop go and backs up a couple of steps.

"Walk away, Tom, okay? Just forget you ever saw me."

Dom holsters his gun and starts walking out of the alley.


Dom stops, turns back.

"What?" he asks, irritated.

"Can't we talk? Go somewhere, have a couple of beers and talk?"

The ex-cop backs away, eyes narrowing into suspicious slits.

"You think I'd do that to you, Dom? Lure you into a trap?"

Dom doesn't answer, he doesn't have to, and the fragile thread that is Tom's temper snaps.

"Fuck you, Dom! You know what, you're right, it's a terrible idea."

The cop shoves past his former friend.

"I'm going home. You can crawl back into whatever hole you crawled out of."

"I'm sorry, Tom."

"Are you?"

"Yes," Dom sighs, "alright. This is insane, but alright. Meet me outside this market tomorrow. Three o' clock. We'll talk then."

He's gone before Tom can say yes or no.


Black smoke fills the kitchen. Dom yelps and curses as he deposits the overcooked - no, make that burnt to shit - mess in the sink. So much for Matt's welcome meal. The front door opens and Dom puts a hand on his gun, his latest culinary disaster quickly forgotten. But he relaxes when Matt, and he'd know his man anywhere, all the wigs and makeup and contact lenses in the world will never change that, walks into the kitchen.

Matt drops his bags and races into his husband's arms with a happy squeal. They hold each other and Dom's heart swells with a mixture of happiness and deep relief, as it always does when they come together after time apart. Matt finally pulls away and coughs. He points at the mess in the sink.

"What was it?" he asks.

"Uh ... coq au vin?"

Matt smiles gently and turns back to his luggage. He holds up a couple of plastic bags and a bottle of wine.

"What did you get?" Dom asks.


Dom pours the wine and arranges their food on plates while Matt takes a quick shower and takes his outside face off. They eat and talk and Dom throws an occasional baleful glance at the sink and the mess congealing within it. Matt touches his hand.

"It's not a big deal, sweetheart, honestly, it's not."

"It is," Dom pouts, "I wanted to cook for you. I wanted tonight to be special."

Fucking up their meal was bad. Matt's obvious anticipation of his failure is even worse.

"I know, and I appreciate the gesture," Matt replies, trying to be as tactful as he can, "but some people are good in the kitchen and some people just ... aren't."

Dom scowls and drains his wine glass. Matt scoots closer to him.

"Never mind," he says, "you're talented in other ways. Lots of ways."

All Dom's irritation melts away as his husband presses their lips together. The kiss deepens and everything else in the world melts away, too.
Matt pulls Dom to his feet.

"Take me to bed, Dom" he says, "take me to bed and do me slow."

Slow is what he asks for and slow is what he gets. Matt lies in his side, panting, sweating, as his husband holds his hip in an iron grip and moves deep within him, taking him to the very brink of ecstasy and keeping him there for what feels like forever. Matt is reduced to a boneless, babbling mess long before Dom lets him come.

Matt curls up on Dom's chest in the aftermath, humming, content.

"See?" he says, "you're plenty talented."

Dom chuckle and kisses the top of his husband's head.

"So," Matt asks, "seen any potential scores?"

"A few. I think we'll do well here."


"I was waiting for you. It's better when we pick them together."

"True, and ..." Matt's next words are lost in a huge yawn. Dom rubs his neck.

"Go to sleep, Matt," he says, "we'll talk about it later."

"... mmm .... 'kay," Matt mutters, already half-asleep.

Dom doesn't sleep. He lies awake and thinks about Tom Kirk.

Tom - of all the people in his past, why did it have to be Tom?

And this meeting - he's not actually thinking of going to it, is he?

Is he?


Tom checks his watch for the third or fourth time. It's fifteen - , no make that closer to twenty - minutes past the hour and Dom hasn't shown. The cop's shoulders slump in defeat. Well, he tried.

He turns to go and that's when he feels to hand on his arm.

"Follow me," Dom says.

He's walking away before Tom can argue. The cop follows the ex-cop through narrow, crowded streets and into a small, dark, sparsely populated bar. They get beers and find a table in a corner, far from prying eyes. They stare at each other, unsure of how to proceed.

"I didn't think you'd come," Tom finally ventures.

"I wasn't going to. But then ..." the ex-cop shrugs and sips his beer.

"It's good to see you, Dom. You look ... different."

"That's the idea."

"I almost didn't know you."

"But you did. What gave me away?"

"Your eyes. You should wear contacts."

"I tried. They make my eyes burn."

And they do. Matt wears them all the time, changing his distinctive blues to an unremarkable, muddy brown and back again. How Dom envies him.

"I see," Tom takes a sip of his own beer, " you know, it's funny, I was talking about you just the other day."

"Were you?"

"Yeah. I heard you killed a man."

"You heard right."

"Gutted him like a fish."

"Just like a fish."

Tom looks for any trace of shame or disgust on his old friend's face, finds none.

"Are you ... are you actually proud of it?"

"No. Not proud, not ashamed. He turned on us, sold us out to save himself, and Matt ..." Dom closes his eyes as he remembers that awful day, Matt bleeding in his lap, Dom trying to stop the bleeding with one hand and drive the car with the other. He opens his eyes, comes back to the present, " ... I had to do it. He spilled his guts, so I spilled his guts."

"What about his family?"

Dom laughs, a cold, bitter sound.

"Some family. Five dimwit brothers and their dimwit daddy. Pimps and meth cooks and degenerates. Trust me, the gene pool got much less polluted that day."

"You could have let them be."

"No. They would have come after us."

"So you did what had to be done"

"Yes, and you can stop looking at me like that."

"Like what?"

"Like I burned down a building full of kittens, babies and helpless old ladies. There were no innocents in that house."

Tom decides to let it go. They drink in silence for awhile.

"So," Dom says, "you got divorced."

"I did."

"What happened?"

Tom sighs.

"It was good, then it was bad, and then it was ugly. Very ugly."

"Your kids?"

"Bronwyn still talks to me. The others ... well, if they ever get tired of cutting off their noses to spite their faces, I'll be here. Until then..."

"I'm sorry."

"So am I."

Tom drinks, changes the subject.

"And what about you? How's your marriage working out?"

Dom smiles and touches his wedding ring.

"Amazing. It's better than I ever could have dreamed."


"Really. I never thought I could feel this way about anyone."

"Did you tell Matt you were meeting me?"

Dom's eyes lose some of their sparkle.

"No. But I will. He won't like it."

"You don't have to tell him."

"I know. But if Matt and I can't trust each other, who can we trust?"

"Can I ask you something, Dom?"


"Why are you still doing this? You must have stolen enough to last a hundred lifetimes by now. Why don't you just quit? Go live on a tropical island or something?"

"Because we enjoy it. And we are so, so good at it."

Dom checks his watch, stands up.

"I gotta go. It was good seeing you, Tom."

"Can we meet again?"

"I don't think that's a good idea, do you?"

"Probably not. But can we?"

Dom chews it over, then sighs.

"Alright. In front of the market, same time next week."

He leaves Tom staring at empty glasses.
hannah_chapter1: (Invasion)
Title: Friends (1/?)
Author: hannah_chapter
Summary: Sequel to Enemies. When worlds collide...
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: 15/R
Feedback: Hit me, baby, one more time.
Disclaimer: Don't own Muse, this is fiction, never happened.

Tom steps out of the elevator. A different city, a different precinct. It's all so new - and, at the same time, all so familiar. They've put him in Homicide and he's always shone in Homicide. The captain waves him over and Tom gets his welcome speech and a desk to call his own. Some of the other cops stop by, introduce themselves, ask him to go bowling. Bowling, it seems, is a very big deal around here. It's all so friendly and Tom begins to relax. This can work.

Can it? Can it, really?

It happens right after lunch. Tom sees everyone else drifting out of the room and curiosity compels him to follow. So he follows the crowd into a briefing room and he takes a seat in the third row. A tall man with white hair approaches the podium and the room quietens down. The tall man's name is Ralph Kinnard and he's a criminologist - a man who claims to be an expert in crime, but doesn't like to get his hands dirty. An armchair cop. Tom slumps low in his seat and lets his mind wander.

The world snaps back into focus when Kinnard starts talking about armed robbery. Tom winces. Here it comes. The next slide clicks into place and now Tom's looking at two very familiar mugshots.

"And here, ladies and gentlemen," Kinnard says, "are the two biggest turds in this particular toilet bowl: Matt Bellamy and Dom Howard. If you're not familiar with their story, then you must have spent the last decade under a rock."

Laughter greets this last remark. Kinnard waits for it to die down before continuing.

"Bellamy's a slippery little shit, always has been and Howard, well, Howard's a cruel, cold-blooded bastard. They keep a low profile, makes them difficult to track. They were in Vegas a couple of years after the jailbreak, we know that much, and they got married there. A beautiful ceremony, it really gave a whole new meaning to the phrase shotgun wedding."

More laughter, louder this time.

"They have what I'd call a psychotic devotion to one another. Other criminologists will tell you to use that as a weapon, catch one of them, use him as bait to lure the other. I disagree. Catch them both, or don't even try. And God help you if you kill one of them. The one you leave alive will hunt you down and take your scalp as a trophy."

The presentation ends and the lights come on. Tom wanders over to the refreshments table and helps himself to some coffee.

"You didn't like my presentation?"

Kinnard suddenly by his side. Tom drinks some coffee, feigns nonchalance.

"What makes you say that?" he asks.

"I could see your face."

"In the dark? You could see my face in a dark room?"

"Observation is my business. You haven't answered my question."

"I didn't ... it's not ..." Tom tries to arrange his thoughts, put them in some kind of order.

"Did you know Dom Howard?"

Kinnard cuts right to the heart of the matter.

"You did, didn't you?"

"Yeah, I knew him. We came up together."

"And you think I'm being to hard on him?"

"I never said that. I can't defend what he's done, but I can understand it."

"Can you?"

"Yes. He was a good cop once. No one likes to remember that these days, but it's true. He gave everything to the job, like so many of us do. A good cop, and a sad and lonely man. Then Bellamy came along and ... love makes fools of everyone, makes us do stupid things."

"I know he was a good cop, I read the files. But that was a long time ago. And here's a story for you, something I think you need to hear. We don't like to talk about it, but it might help you understand. We almost caught them once. It happened three years ago, or maybe it's four. A member of their crew ratted them out. They got away, but not clean. Bellamy took a bullet in the chest. He survived, obviously, but it was a close call. The informant tried to run, but they sniffed him out, took him to Howard and your old friend gutted him like a fish. Then he killed the man's family and burned his house to the ground. Howard did all these things, it was Howard all the way."

Tom is cold all over.

"How do you know all this? How can you know this if they keep such a low profile?"

"Word leaks out, here and there. We hear stories."

"Stories. Not facts."

"Yes, I see where you're going with this. And yes, they might be nothing more than lies and half-truths. But I don't believe it. My gut tells me it's all true and none of it helps your friend's case. I'll tell you something else, while we're talking: Howard ran the show, while Bellamy recovered. He picked the crews, he planned the jobs, he did it all. He's in the game now, all the way, and trust me, the good man led astray, that myth you cling to, that's all that is now, a myth."

"Sure, whatever you say," Tom's not even sure what he's saying, he just wants to get away from this awful man.

Kinnard starts to say something else, but Tom turns his back on him and trudges back up to Homicide. His conversation with the criminologist didn't take place in a vacuum, and he can feel the stares, hear the whispers. He ignores them and tries to work. But his mind keeps turning back to the subject of Dom Howard.

Where is Dom now?

What's he doing?


Sweat drips off Dom's face and neck as he teeters on the brink of what promises to be an earth-shattering orgasm. He slows his thrusts, trying to make the moment last. But then the man beneath him bucks and howls and the thin thread of Dom's control snaps. He curses and claws his lover's hips as he comes, emptying himself into the man beneath him. Completely drained, he flops onto his back and stares at the ceiling, nerve endings still sizzling. His husband wheezes into the pillows beside him and Dom smiles. The after-heist sex is always insane, all that heat and tension burning off in one fast, furious fuck. Dom stretches and feels his spine crackle.

"That," he sighs, "was perfect."


"I mean, it's always perfect, but sometimes there's a kind of perfect that's just ... perfect in its perfection, you know?"


"Want a beer?"


Dom giggles and sits up. He reaches down and plucks a bottle of beer from the cooler beside the bed. Matt's still lying on his stomach, limp as a deboned fish, but the smell of the beer revives him a little. He lifts his bed, Dom tilts the bottle and Matt sucks the beer down, like a baby sucking on a bottle of milk. Dom gathers his husband to him and they lie together, sharing a beer, as they have so many times before.

"I think ... you just ... fucked my brains out..." Matt finally wheezes.

"Sweet talker."

They finish their beer and Dom drops the empty bottle on the floor. Matt yawns.

"We did good today."

Dom kisses the top of his head.

"Yeah, we did."

"What time's the party again?"

"Lee's party? That's tomorrow night, Matt. Maybe I really did fuck your brains out this time."

They laugh together.

"So, what should we do until then?" Matt asks.

"Sex, beer, sex, pizza, sleep and sex."



Dom leans against the railing and looks down at the dancefloor. Lee's club, one of this city's hottest night spots, is closed to the public tonight. This party is very exclusive, for underworld figures only. Dom can see armed robbers, drug dealers, mob enforcers from various families, forgers, fences, back alley doctors, freelance hitmen - and then there are the groupies, low-level, fringe members of the scene, boys and girls who'll do any dirty job because they just want to be near it, the glamour and the danger. They fawn over high-level criminals like Matt and Dom, treat them like movie stars, rock stars, gods. They've been bringing Dom drinks all evening and, from his vantage point, Dom can see more of them clustered around Matt, hanging on his every word.


Dom turns.


They hug. Chris eyes him up.

"Looking good, Dom, looking real good."

Dom touches his cheek and laughs. He and Matt have, in the last nine years or so, become masters of disguise, using wigs, beards and subtle makeup tricks to hide their famous faces from the public. But they're with their own kind tonight and are free to be themselves.

"So do you, Chris, so do you."

Chris, too, has dropped his public persona, his usual blue-collar, beaten-down by life schtick. Smartly dressed, tall and proud, he leans on the railing like a king lounging on his throne.

"Having a good time, Dom?"

"Yeah, I am," Dom looks down at the dancefloor again, "i should have been in this game from the beginning."

"You should, you really should. You were made for this life, Dom. And you're a good influence on Matt."

They run quiet these days, at Dom's insistence, with no easily traceable patterns or comic book villain flamboyance. It's all about discretion now, not showmanship.

"Well, I do my best, Chris."

Chris finishes his drink.

"When do you leave?" he asks.

"I go tomorrow."

"And Matt?"

"End of the week."

They never stay in one place for long and they never travel together. Dom won't allow it. Too dangerous. Matt doesn't like it, but he knows it makes sense.

"You should come back to the cabin for a couple of months, have yourselves a little vacation."

"We will. Soon."

Chris squeezes his shoulder and wanders off, to the bar or maybe the bathroom. Dom drops his empty glass and goes to his husband.

"May I have this dance?"

Matt smiles and takes Dom's hand.

"Of course."

Matt's groupies pout as their idol is taken from them. Matt and Dom sway in time with the music and Dom jerks his chin at the pretty boys.

"Are you tempted? Should I be jealous?"

"Hmm?" Matt looks back at his groupies, then at his husband, "no, of course not. They just remind me of a different time, that's all."

"The old days, when you went to places like this, got drunk and fucked boys in the bathroom."

"Yeah, but that was a long time ago, before you and me. Now I've got you, I love you with all my heart and I wouldn't trade what we have for anything."

"Good, that's good," Dom presses their bodies closer, licks his husband's ear, "you know, you could just get drunk and fuck me in the bathroom."

Matt's sudden, sharp intake of breath makes Dom grin.

"Now that," Matt says, "sounds like a plan."


Shit and fuck and fucking shit and shitting fuck.

Tom motors his way through the market like a black, constantly cursing cloud. This has not been his day.

His car broke down, he lost his phone and, just when he thought things couldn't get any worse, he spilled hot coffee all over his crotch. Damn near scalded his balls off - perfect end to a perfect day.

Someone bumps Tom's arm. Tom glances at the man, continues down the aisle. Then he stops. The man he just saw - he was nothing special, just another middle-aged man with a beard and a beer gut.

But his eyes ... Tom knows those eyes. Only one man he knows with eyes of that particular shade.

Dom Howard.


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August 2016

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