Bouts of Attraction
Title: Bouts of Attraction
Summary: AU; Dom and Billy are on rival roller derby teams in the UK.
Notes: You don't need to know much about roller derby to read this story, but if you'd like to have a better idea of what's going on during the matches, or "bouts," here's a good resource.
After three months of off-season, being back in the locker room is like a giant exhale for Billy. He's early, the first one there, which affords him a few extra minutes to do a leisurely walk-through, running his fingertips over the metal latches all the while. The London rink isn't home -- as reigning champions, their first bout is away -- but it's close enough, with its muted fluorescent lights and scent of bleach.
Once he's had his fill, he settles, claiming locker 28 for himself and getting a preemptive start to his rituals, in the form of a lucky pair of tartan-print shorts and an old pair of gloves that'd been torn up to shite by his father even before he'd inherited them years and years ago. All three items are terribly cool as he pulls them on over his skin, snug with lack of use since the spring.
He doesn't realize how much time has passed when the door opens and shuts again, announcing the arrival of another Scuffler. "Bill?!"
Billy laughs. "Hey, Sean!"
Bean finds him immediately, lumbering around the corner in a suede jacket with his duffel slung over one of his massive shoulders. "Hey, mate. Good to be back, eh?" He claps Billy on the back and settles on the opposite side of the bench.
Billy's response is a heartfelt rumble, and then a companionable silence falls over the both of them. Billy glances over at Bean as he pulls his own chosen attire from his duffel, the centerpiece of which is a pristine burgundy jersey with "The Northern Fights" emblazoned in white on the back. He shoots him a confident smirk. "This should be an easy one, eh?"
"Actually," Bean's sunny demeanor slips, "Vig says they've got a new jammer in from Manchester. Tiny and fuckin' fast."
How fast? Billy wants to ask, but before he can open his mouth, the door swings open yet again and in burst three of their teammates, stomping up the aisles and rattling the locker doors on their hinges.
Wood rounds the corner with a giddy smile and a Scufflers banner in his hands. "Welcome back, bitches!"
II. First Bout
Billy notices him straight off. A team replete with ego and sorely lacking in discipline, the Fury are a fun group of guys, fantastic for post-game at the pub, but they haven't been a threat to the Scufflers in years. So when a blue jersey goes whizzing by him, blowing tufts of hair up off his forehead, Billy's hands go completely still on the laces of his skates. It's only a few moments before that flash of blue goes by again, and Billy follows it with his eyes, his body not far behind, swiveling around on the bench.
"The Dominator." Billy scoffs. He is tiny, but he's got the swagger of a man bigger than Bean and, Billy takes note when he shoots around the next bend, the eyes of some lethal creature. Showy little bastard, too, doing all sorts of tricks. Billy's never been much cop at that, skating in a one-legged crouch and such, but he's never seen the point in it, either. It's obvious this kid's looking to be seen, though, if his uniform's any indication, flashy, ridiculous shorts and bangles and bands from his wrists to his elbows.
They lock eyes as he slows, folding his hands behind his back like he's gliding over ice, and Billy notices another thing: eye makeup. That's different, but nothing he's never seen before. Still, the kid's footwork has him feeling something he hasn't felt at a bout in years: nerves. His reverie's broken by a thick, molten caramel voice. "Best of luck," it drawls cockily. Billy can't be sure, but he thinks the kid actually winks at him as he speeds up and races off again, resuming his warm-up.
Wood drops into a straddle next to him, tying his signature bandana at the back of his head. "Jesus Christ, look at how fast he is." He backhands Billy's arm. "What's his story?"
Indeed, Billy thinks as he watches him retreat, stretching lithe arms over his head to work out the kinks, his legs on autopilot.
"Hello, ladies and gents, welcome to the first bout in this year's International Men's Roller Derby Association tournament. I'm 'Andy's Serkis,' and I'll be your emcee for the evening's festivities. Tonight we have the Fury, led by Kiwi coach Karl Urban, a.k.a. 'Urban Rumbler,' versus reigning champions the Scufflers, led by -- what's this? -- American coach Viggo Mortensen, a.k.a. 'Vincent van Go!,' courtesy of the New York Shock Exchange."
For the first jam, Wood is pitted against The Dominator -- Monaghan, Billy overhears Urban calling him. Elijah shakes his hands out at his sides, his mouth pulled between his teeth as they line up next to each other. Billy gives him a quick, subtle nod to let him know he's got him covered, and then they're off, the crowd already positively revved and shouting a steady stream of Dom Dom Dom Dom!
Andy vamps at lightning speed somewhere in the background. "Making his way around the first bend is The Dominator for the Fury. He comes into the league from Manchester, a rookie but one with a fantastic record, the second fastest jammer in the league, next to Scufflers captain Billy the Skid. Don't Knock on Wood -- another New York Shock Exchange transplant -- seems to be having a bit of trouble catching up, falling way behind in an uncharacteristic move."
Billy falls back, grabbing Wood's hand to propel him forward, then flings himself off near the sidelines, weaving through a sea of blue and red, his gaze steady on that little blonde bastard Manc zipping around in the middle of the pack trying to break through. Bloomin' Bruises, a tall, pretty thing is in the front, clearing a path for Monaghan. Billy has no trouble breaking the two of them up, brushing against Monaghan as he insinuates himself between them.
He's got that quick flash of blue in the corner of his eye now, keeping right up with him, and his feet glide on instinct, one in front of the other, as he speeds up. Bloom falls back, a perplexed, annoyed blur in Billy's peripheral, and then it's just the two of them. Andy's voice has gone all high and urgent, but Billy can't hear it; the entire stadium has shrunk down to that space they occupy.
Suddenly he feels warm fingers sneaking underneath his jersey, crawling over the small of his back and tucking into his waistband before snapping the elastic against his skin, loud. "Fucking hell," he growls, cutting his eyes at Monaghan, who licks his lips as he speeds up, calling "Nice shorts!" over his shoulder as he passes him.
III. Cool Down
The next morning, Billy rolls out of bed and smiles at the persistent burn in his calves as his feet hit the floor. He's kept up with his training in the off-season, but there's something particularly satisfying about how used his muscles feel the morning after a bout. And this was a cracking one, too, the addition of Monaghan alone enough to keep all the Scufflers on their toes -- but not enough to defeat them.
Still half-asleep, he pulls a jumper over his tee and a pair of socks and trainers over his feet, not bothering to exchange his sweats for denims. He stuffs a pair of trunks and goggles into his duffel and zips it up, heaving it over his shoulder and heading straight for the door. This marks another ritual of his: going for a swim at the stadium the morning after a bout. His teammates think he's mad, opting to stay out all hours at the pub and sleeping the next day away, but he likes to stay active without killing himself. A good half-mile swim is just enough to keep his muscles warm, and it's easy on his joints.
Everyone's always wondered at him, at how he does it. In the derby, the saying goes that you have to be big to be a blocker and fast to be a jammer. Somehow Billy manages both, strong-arming the biggest guys just as well as he can pass through their legs. Viggo's explained that it's due to his build -- "You're like a professional wrestler shrunk down to size."
The London pool is gorgeous, probably his favorite, and blissfully empty. Billy's already surpassed the number of laps he'd set out to do when another swimmer comes in. He shrinks against the wall underneath the edge of the pool, catching his breath. "Fucking hell," he whispers, considering submerging himself and hiding, but that split second of contemplation proves too long.
Monaghan smiles, all feral and knowing, and strides up to the lane next to him. In a speedo. Billy doesn't realize he's staring until he says, "I take it you like my suit, then."
"Yeah, 's nice as far as knickers go," Billy says immediately, and Dom smiles wider, unraveling his towel from around his neck and tossing it onto the ledge, right next to Billy's.
He crouches, extending his hand, and Billy has half a mind to grab it and pull him in headfirst. But he'd probably like it, he thinks, the little fuck. "We haven't met formally -- I didn't see you at the pub last night. I'm Dominic."
"I know," Monaghan nods sweetly. "Fantastic game yesterday, wasn't it?" Billy's wary of answering and so doesn't. "Can't believe I'm running into you here. Great minds think alike, eh?"
Billy wants to scoff, but he gives him a tight, forced smile instead.
"Well, 's good talking to you," Monaghan laughs, going a bit red in the cheeks as he stands, stretching himself toward the ceiling with a tiny grunt.
Billy looks straight ahead again, ready to start another round of laps, but just as he's taken a breath, Monaghan dives in, sending a splash of water shooting down his throat and him into a spluttering fit.
IV. Second Bout
Their next game against the Fury is, thankfully, at home in Edinburgh, and that takes the edge off Billy some. Still, he makes it a point to get there nearly an hour and a half early, so he can get in a sort of pre-warm-up warm-up. It isn't just his pride at stake tonight; his ex is bringing their son to the stadium, so he has to be in top form.
When he shuffles through the corridor toward the rink, he hears another pair of feet moving against the floor in swift, clean strokes, and he groans, the sound reverberating off the walls. He emerges through the door and, of course, there's The Dominator, making his way around in leisurely figure eights and looking as full of himself as ever. "'M starting to think you're stalking me," Billy mutters, cutting into the rink as Monaghan comes around the opposite bend.
Monaghan turns toward the center and gives Billy a pleased look, arms crossed, rolling along with his legs spread in second ballet position. Billy concentrates on keeping his own strokes steady and his eyes up off the floor. He won't be unhinged.
Monaghan pivots, skating in earnest again, speeding up and gaining momentum, gaining on Billy, actually, and Billy's feet quicken of their own accord, trying their best to keep distance between them. "This is what I'd call stalking," Monaghan smiles, moving down into a crouch and letting it take him zooming around the corner just before the one Billy's rounding.
Billy keeps one eye over his shoulder and the other straight ahead, a difficult task for mere mortals but a necessity for any derbyman. Still, Monaghan gains and, much to his chagrin, passes, rising full-length and smiling wide, his legs slowing minutely as if they've earned the right. Billy feels side-by-side stabs of disgust and intrigue as Monaghan bends one leg at the knee, reaches down and grabs the arch of his foot, pulling it way back so that the round heel of his skate nearly kisses the crown of his head.
Before Billy can stop it, he's lost his footing and is flying spectacularly to his back on the cold floor. He grunts, clenching his eyes against the shame of it, hoping that when he opens them, he'll still be in bed, with no notion of coming here early.
There's laughter in Monaghan's voice as he skates over. "You're not hurt," he crouches, extending a hand for him to grab, "I've seen you take worse falls than that."
"I didn't fall in the last bout." Billy eyes that elegant, adorned hand with skepticism. "I'd remember."
"I know," Monaghan says lowly, pulling his hand back into his body. "I've watched you as a fan." After a long, quiet moment, he stands again, skating in slow circles around Billy.
Billy rises to his elbows. "That how you started out? As a fan."
"No, I was a figure skater, but they said I was too violent for the sport." Billy rolls his eyes. "Hockey, actually," Monaghan says seriously. "Came here with some of my teammates on an away game and fell in love with it." He glances around the stadium with warmth in his eyes. "Plus, I can't wear makeup or jewelry in the hockey rink."
Billy smirks, softening, then realizes that Monaghan's waiting on him. "My father was a derbyman, in the seventies," he explains.
"I know," Monaghan gives him a quiet smile. "'S in all the programs."
After the bout -- another win for the Scufflers -- Billy finds Ali and Jack waiting for him in the lobby, clad in their usual derby gear and buzzing with energy. Ali applauds and Jack comes running straight for his legs, nearly taking him out. "Think we may have a future blocker on our hands, eh?" Billy ruffles Jack's hair.
"You were fantastic tonight," Ali kisses him on the cheek. "I've never seen you so determined."
"Well, I knew I had an audience I had to impress." He cradles the back of Jack's head with the palm of his hand, silently lamenting that it doesn't fit there quite as well as it used to. Thankfully, Jack's not old enough to refuse coiling around his calf like a serpent.
Ali leans in, her voice intense. "That rook on the Fury is incredible. I can't believe how fast he is."
"Yeah," Billy says absently, watching as said rook appears by the escalators, crowded on nearly all sides by a flock of birds. Jack's grip on his leg loosens, and Billy looks down to see his son's eyes glued to Monaghan, that glazed, awed way they often have about them when he takes photos with Santa on Christmas. "You're not turning into a Fury fan, are you?" Ali laughs, thoroughly amused, but Jack doesn't answer in his distraction.
Billy and Ali natter on, catching up on their respective families, Billy darting sporadic glances at Monaghan, watching as he makes the girls giggle and nervously fix their hair. Eventually Monaghan notices that he's being watched, by both father and son, and bends into a crouch, beckoning Jack. "Hold on," Billy interrupts Ali, looking down at Jack, who's staring up at him with apprehension. "Go on," he claps him on the back, pushing him lightly in Monaghan's direction, making the birds scatter.
Ali turns to watch, too, as Monaghan extends his hand for Jack to shake. She smirks at the expression on Billy's face. "Don't worry: you're still his hero of choice."
Billy returns her smirk, giving her side a little tickle as he starts to slowly make his way over to Monaghan to make sure Jack isn't talking his ear off. Monaghan's turned his tiny hand palm up and is scribbling an autograph on his skin in marker. He raises his voice deliberately so Billy hears as he approaches. "You know, you really shouldn't say such terrible things about your father -- he's the best player in the league."
Jack doesn't notice Billy's arrival. "My da' owns a coffee shop on Hanover Street. He's bringing me tomorrow, you should come."
Billy looks at his son like he's insane, but he tries to sound as diplomatic as possible. "Jack, I think Dominic probably needs to go back to England tomorrow."
"Actually, I'm here for a week." Monaghan pokes the tip of Jack's nose. "We've got a bout again on Tuesday, and I've never really spent much time here, so I thought I'd see the sights," he says cryptically, uncapping the marker again with his teeth and poising it over his own palm. "What was that address again?"
V. Coffee Break
By mid-afternoon the next day, Billy's convinced himself how glad he is that Monaghan hasn't shown up, although he's kept his eye on the shop door almost as often as his son has. Ali practically has to drag Jack out of there at half-five for dinner.
By 6:15, there are no longer any customers, and by 6:30, Billy's settled into the quiet with his legs up on the counter and a cup of his own.
At 6:32, the bells on the door ring, and in comes Monaghan, glancing somewhat sheepishly around the empty shop. "Slow day?"
"We close at seven." Billy sips from his mug with a put-upon nonchalance.
"Where's the little one?"
"Having dinner with his mum."
Monaghan pulls off a woolen hat as he leans into the counter, revealing a head of mussed dirty blonde hair. "Can I have a coffee?"
"I turn off the machine at 6:30," Billy lies.
"Well, you can turn it back on for me, can't you?" Monaghan leans close enough that he could spit in Billy's coffee if he wanted to, and there it is again, that molten caramel thing that Dominic does with his voice, that shoots straight down the center of Billy's body, exploding in a firepit in his groin.
He pushes away from the counter, slams his mug down on the surface, and turns his back on Monaghan to pretend to fiddle with one of the machines.
"I'm looking for things to do here over the next few days," Monaghan purrs, the meaning not at all lost on Billy. "Do you've any ideas?"
Billy takes a pause. "Get into the rink. Your form could use some work." He can't possibly mean that, though, and Monaghan knows it.
"Thought you liked it," he shoots back, going utterly silent when Billy doesn't so much as twitch a shoulder in reply. "Smoked you just the same, didn't I?"
He picks up Billy's mug and drinks from it, Billy can hear it. "Hardly." He turns, giving him a vicious look before crouching to rummage in the low fridge for cream and things.
"Maybe hardly," Monaghan considers. When Billy rises again, he's only inches away. "...but I did." Monaghan licks his lips, glancing from Billy's mouth to his eyes and back again. "I didn't realize you were married. Never said that in the programs."
"Not." Billy pushes a takeaway cup across the counter, and along with it, cream, milk, and sugar. "Never have been, either." Monaghan's eyebrows shoot up. "Ali and I -- the woman you saw with me and Jack yesterday -- we were engaged years ago. Broke up just a few months before Jack was due." He takes his own mug back, noticing that it's nearly half gone now, and takes his seat. "You'd never know it, though, we get along quite well. I suppose we got all that out before Jack was born. He's never seen us as anything other than best friends."
"Mmm," Dominic smiles, warming his hands with the cup but not bothering to doctor it to his liking.
Billy can almost feel himself softening. "My son's quite taken with you."
"'S a shame," Monaghan says immediately. "I'm quite taken with his father." He leaves his coffee on the counter and takes a step back, pulling his hat back on as he leaves, looking completely proud of himself.
Billy's breath leaves him in a whoosh, the mug nearly slipping from his grip. It all makes sense now.
VI. Third Bout
The next game is fairly uneventful, the both of them subdued, tip-toeing around each other and paying no mind to either of their coaches shouting at them to "look alive." The Scufflers take it again, and there's much ribbing in the locker room afterward, on both sides. Billy keeps to himself, though, taking his time pulling off his gear and watching Monaghan nearly the entire row of lockers down doing the same.
"The fuck is taking you so long?" Elijah braces his hands on Billy's shoulders, already fully showered and dressed. "Aren't you coming to the pub?"
At the other end of the corridor, Monaghan tilts his head, listening as he pulls off his rings and bangles one by one.
"Yeah, go on, I'll meet you guys there."
By the time everyone else has emptied out, Monaghan's finally gotten his jersey off over his head, and it's ludicrous, but Billy predicted it this way, maybe even planned it, maybe planned it with Dominic, telepathically during the bout. He approaches slowly, his steps echoing loudly off the walls, but Monaghan keeps his eyes on his jersey, draped over his hands. There's a smile in his eyes, though, Billy can see it.
Once he's in his space, Billy can feel the heat coming off of him, and he wants so badly to touch it. He reaches a hand out and slides it tentatively around to the flat of his stomach, coming around so they're standing back to chest, Monaghan's shoulder blades rolling and pressing back into his chest, sending prickles along his skin under his damp jersey.
Monaghan's head falls forward against his locker. "Have you finally come around to me, then?" he asks quietly, cocky, but the genuine question is there underneath it.
Billy pushes his nose into his neck and snakes his tongue out, tasting the salt of sweat there. Monaghan drops his head back to his shoulder, exposing the long tendon, and Billy moans, pushing his hips forward. "Fuck, but you distract me out there." He can feel Monaghan vibrating under him as he grips his wrist, shoving his hand unceremoniously down the front of his shorts. "Fuck," he repeats, and it's heartfelt, his teeth coming down on Monaghan's neck to pinch the skin there as he grips the damp length of him and sets to pulling in quick, hard, relentless strokes.
"Oh, Christ, yeah," Monaghan whimpers, reaching back with his other hand to grip the hair at the back of Billy's head. "Just like that."
"That good?" Billy taunts, digging his fingers into his hip and sucking bruises at his shoulder.
"So good," Monaghan whispers fiercely, and it's madness, Billy can't even remember how he got here. Monaghan lets go of Billy's wrist, shoving his shorts roughly down over his arse and under his balls, exposing him -- them -- to the air and reaching down and underneath, behind Billy's hand where he can't see.
Billy watches with wide eyes, from the sinews of Monaghan's thighs to his arse pushing back into him to the head of his cock leaking over Billy's knuckles, the flush blossoming over the apples of his cheeks and his chest. He notices belatedly that one of his nipples is pierced, and that makes his hand instantly start flying faster, his other sliding up to pull and tug at it.
Monaghan inhales, loud, surprised, arching his back, and not a moment later, grunts even louder as he pulses in thick, insistent strings over the locker door.
They both exhale, their chests moving in tandem, Billy without a clue as to what to do with his hand, or anything else, for that matter. They finally lock eyes, and Monaghan laughs, suddenly looking sweet, even with all the makeup. "Your form's just fine," Billy concedes, and then they're both laughing, low, dirty, and joyous before Dominic tilts his head back for their first kiss.