Closed Change – Part 2/3Author: kat_lair
& pushkin666 Fandom:
RPS, Strictly Come Dancing (UK)Pairing/Category:
Bruno Tonioli/Craig Revel Horwood, angst like woahRating:
This is not a real story about real people. This is a fictional
story about fictional representations
of real people. Note the difference. None of the events described herein are true. No disrespect is meant and no profit made.Summary: Just because you don’t ask for something, doesn’t mean you don’t want it.Author notes:
Apologies for the delay with this second part. The third and final instalment to follow sometime over the next months. Beta by the brilliant and long-suffering dreamersdare
, her trauma is our gain. <3 Fans of the show may recognise Craig and Bruno's on-screen spat, the RL dialogue was too good not to use...Closed Change – Part 1/3
Craig closes the door and walks the short distance to his own dressing room, keeping his face passive, not looking around and definitely
not looking back. He doesn’t want to talk to anybody right now.
It might have been a cowardly thing to do, but he had needed to get out of Bruno’s room; it must have been all over his face how much he’d wanted to kiss Bruno. But getting blown by your colleague is one thing and kissing them is something else entirely. What he can’t get out of his mind, however, is how Bruno had looked on the floor; used and turned on. It’s a sight he could get used to seeing, every day if possible, but he knows it wasn’t exclusively for him. Craig knows that Bruno must have looked like this for all the others before him, will look just like this for the ones that come after.
Once he’s safely inside his room, Craig takes a moment to collect himself; checking his make-up in the mirror and running his hands through his hair. There’s no point on dwelling on what didn’t happen and he should just enjoy the after-effects of what did.
Craig flexes his shoulders experimentally. He is
feeling a lot more relaxed now; his body looser and the tension gone from his shoulders. His mood has lifted as well and he knows it’s not just because of the blowjob, good as it was. It’s because it was Bruno giving the blowjob, not some random person.
That thought carries him all the way to the studio and to the judges’ table. Craig settles back and waits for the dancers. He’s not going to let anything annoy him tonight, not even Ann. It’s only when Len gives him a strange look that he realises he’s humming. He doesn’t really care through.
It’s a good show, although Bruno is oddly quiet, bitchier than normal too, and afterwards he declines to join the rest of them for a drink. Craig is a bit surprised by that, wondering if Bruno’s strange mood has anything to do with him. He feels a twinge of guilt about turning Bruno to face the wall while he’d jerked him off. But there had been no way he could have looked Bruno in the eye during it and not taken it further. At least he got Bruno off, rather than leaving him like that.
Craig is feeling a little angry at himself though. He’d hoped it would help, like scratching an itch; just do it once and get it out of his system. But it hasn’t. If anything, their brief encounter has left him wanting Bruno more, not less. It had been a stupid thing to do, but he can’t really regret it. Can’t blame Bruno either; the man had done exactly what he’d promised; a little relaxation before the show. Craig won’t – can’t
– ask for anything else.
But just because you don’t ask for something, doesn’t mean you don’t want it.
After the show Bruno makes his excuses, telling everyone he’s arranged to meet some friends elsewhere. That’s a lie. He really just doesn’t think he can sit down with Craig and have a drink and a laugh and act like nothing happened.
It had taken every ounce of his professionalism to keep himself together during the show and it’s a relief to get home and be in his own space. He heads straight for the shower, stripping clothes on the way and leaving them where they land. He turns the water as hot as he can stand, stepping under the spray.
How could he be so stupid; thinking it had meant something, being so damn happy about it. He hadn’t understood why Craig had finally taken him up on the offer – still doesn’t – but actually being able to touch Craig, to hear the sounds he’d made... Bruno groans, closing his eyes and bracing himself against the slick tiles. Craig is always so controlled, so self-sufficient, so to see him let go... it had felt like some sort of privilege.
God, he’s an idiot. Bruno turns the water off, slamming the shower door shut behind him. He grabs a towel and runs it over himself, his movements harsh and perfunctory. He’d finally gotten what he'd wanted for years only to have it backfire on him like that. Craig had so clearly not even been bothered about what had happened; jerking Bruno off at the end almost as an obligation, rather than because he’d wanted to.
The flat feels cold, quiet apart for the distant sound of the lift. Normally, Bruno would put on some music and lose himself in it, but tonight he sits in silence, nursing a drink. The way Craig had left him, not even looking him in the eye, like he was ashamed... The memory burns as bitter as the mouthful of grappa he swallows, grimacing at the taste. The only thing missing had been Craig throwing down money on his way out.
It’s been a long time since he’s felt this used.
“And we’re off air.” The announcement comes through Craig’s earpiece and he immediately relaxes. Next to him Len and Alesha are laughing about something or another, not that Craig cares.
He gets up, already stripping off his mike, his gaze automatically drawn to the left to check on Bruno. He’s been noticing how much quieter and withdrawn Bruno seems to be off-set; not coming to the bar to socialise or joking around like usual, not even flirting with the dancers backstage.
It’s been a few weeks since their... Craig doesn’t quite know what to call it. Encounter? He’s made a concentrated effort not to treat Bruno any differently than before, trying to show that nothing has changed, not doing anything that would make Bruno uncomfortable. Craig has been careful not to assume anything, not to act like he had any sort of claim on Bruno.
He doesn’t understand why then Bruno is acting the way he is; avoiding Craig like he has some sort of contagious disease. It wasn't noticeable in the shows – Bruno is a professional after all – he was as exuberant as ever there, but as soon as the cameras stopped rolling it was a different matter. Even Alesha had commented on it, which was saying something. She was usually too focussed on herself to notice anyone else.
Craig watches as Bruno walks away. He seems smaller, dimmer somehow – like someone had switched off the lights.
Craig is being completely out of line tonight; making petty comments and giving ridiculously low scores. Bruno tries not to let it get to him, focussing on joking with Alesha and keeping his own criticisms at least constructive.
It’s not working though. He doesn’t know if it’s the non-situation between them, but Craig is really getting on his nerves tonight. Bruno just wants to disagree with absolutely everything Craig says, even when he secretly thinks he has a point.
He’s aware that they’re probably coming across like a couple having an argument – hah, irony – but Bruno just can’t help himself. He finally snaps when Craig calls Jimi pigeon-toed, and before he even realises what he’s done, he’s out of his chair and interrupting Craig’s comments.
Len, Alesha and even Bruce are staring at the two of them with wide eyes, but Craig only regards him with a cool, disdainful gaze that makes Bruno want to smack him right across his smirking face.
“Sit down,” Craig says, “When I want your opinion I’ll ask for it.” He doesn’t raise his voice, like Bruno is not even worth getting angry with.
That hurts, more than Bruno expected, and he lashes back with the first bitchy come-back that pops into his mind. “Well excuse me, Joan Crawford,
” he spits out, but sits back down, crossing his arms.
The rest of the show passes without incident, but Bruno is still simmering. As soon as they’re all backstage he rounds on Craig, stepping right in front of him.
“'What the hell is your problem tonight? You're not just being critical, you're being cruel!”
Craig stares at him for a few long seconds, face completely blank. Next to them Alesha and Len are holding their breath, undecided whether they should try to intervene. Normally, Bruno would feel bad for having what suddenly feel s a very personal
argument in front of the others, but he’s unwilling to back down even long enough to take this somewhere more private.
“Well?” he demands, looking Craig straight in the eye.
“Don’t worry,” Craig says. “You don't have to put up with it for long.”
Bruno blinks, thrown off balance. “What do you mean?” he asks.
“It's quite simple really, Bruno.” Craig smiles down at him. It’s not a pleasant expression. “This will be my last season on Strictly
. Pretty soon I’m not going to have to put up with any of this anymore. And you
,” he looks at Bruno, eyes absolutely flat, “will no longer have to put up with me.”
Bruno takes a step back. Craig's words are like a slap in the face and he doesn't know what to say, couldn’t get the words out past the tightness in his chest even if he did. Bruno glances over at Len and Alesha, both of whom look as stunned as he feels.
Craig doesn’t say anything else, just stares at Bruno for another heartbeat or two, before turning on his heel and walking away, slow and unconcerned.
Len and Alesha are left staring at each other, wondering what the hell just happened. First Craig had made his announcement and flounced off, and then Bruno had left as well.
“Is it me,” Alesha says, “or did that look just like a domestic?”
Len shrugs, but doesn’t comment. He pretty much agrees with her assessment but he isn’t going to discuss it further; he’s known Craig and Bruno for a long time and talking about them with someone else, even Alesha, feels too much like a betrayal.
Len fully intends to get to the bottom of this though. It’s been clear to him for a while now that something has been going on between Bruno and Craig, but he’s never seen the pair blow up on stage like they did tonight.
He’s shocked by Craig’s revelation as well. He knows how much Craig enjoys doing Strictly
and it’s a surprise to hear that he’s leaving. Bruno might think he’s good at hiding how he feels but he really isn’t, especially when Len has spent as much time with him as he has, both on and off the screen. He’d caught the look of hurt cross Bruno's face as Craig walked away, before Bruno could hide it.
He has his suspicions about what might be going on but he needs confirmation before deciding what to do about it. He wishes that Arlene was still here because there is no way that he's going to talk to Alesha about what he thinks might be going on. She's about as discreet as The Sun
He smiles pleasantly at her though. ‘Don’t worry about it. It’s probably just work stress getting to the pair of them. You should go and get changed for the results show. We don’t have that much time to spare.”
Alesha looks like she knows exactly what Len is doing, but after a hard stare at him she leaves, letting him get away with the obfuscation.
Len sighs in relief. This will buy him some time to find out what’s going on with Craig and Bruno. This kind of tension can’t continue. Len cares for both men, considers them his friends. He doesn’t want to see them sniping at each other like this. There’s always been tension between the two of them, but in a good way, not like this.
Len's gotten to know Bruno well over the years, both on Strictly
and Dancing With the Stars
, and he hasn’t been himself over the last few weeks, too quiet by half. Len’s pretty sure he’ll find Bruno in the bar later and if he pours enough alcohol inside him, Bruno will start talking.
Len can think of better things to do with his evening than play Dr. Phil to a middle-aged man acting like a teenager, but that’s what friends are for.
Craig holds the façade all through the results show, through the well-wishing and back-slapping that follows, and through the seemingly longer-than-normal walk to his dressing room, nodding pleasantly at the people he meets on the way. He shuts the door behind him quietly, movements precise and controlled. And then he does something he hasn't done in a very long time, not since he was a young man yet unused to channelling his emotions into his work, keeping a check on them: he takes a deep shuddering breath, teeth clenched, and on the exhale he slams his fist to the wall, the impact jarring the bones of his hand.
It hurts; the pain dull and reverberating up his arm, but it’s still not strong enough to drown the stupid empty ache in his heart. Craig shakes his hand – nothing broken – and ignores both. After tonight's show he really doesn’t regret his decision. The tension between himself and Bruno seems to be getting worse. Now everyone knows about Craig leaving the show. It had been worth it just to see the shocked look on Bruno's face, to actually silence Bruno for a change.
Staying around for the usual drinks is out of the question tonight. Craig takes a taxi home, relieved to be alone, not having to worry about hiding how he feels. He walks to the bathroom and methodically cleans his hand, the antiseptic stinging his scraped knuckles. In the kitchen he bypasses the opened bottle of wine on the counter, going straight for the whisky and pouring himself a generous glassful.
Craig puts the stereo on automatically, but the music only makes him more irritable and soon he’s forced to turn it off again. The room is plunged back to silence, the streetlights outside the window the only illumination.
Craig sips his drink, staring blindly at the wall. He'd been a right arsehole tonight, but it's like once he started he couldn't stop. It was unprofessional to let his feelings affect him like this, acting like a stroppy teenager. He knows he owes an explanation, probably an apology to some people, but that will have to wait. It was better that he’d left when he did, before causing more damage.
It had been all he could to keep his expression cool, to stop himself from pushing Bruno up against a wall and do one of two things; hit him or kiss the breath out of him. Of course it had to be Bruno who’d challenged him, no huge surprise there after the way he had been sniping at him during the show. Craig had tried to stay calm, but every time he’d looked over and seen Bruno draped over Alesha, he’d felt his patience fray a little more.
Logically, he'd known that things had to come to a head eventually and in some ways it had been almost been better for it to happen like this; the presence of cameras had at least prevented him crossing lines other than good manners.
Craig sighs and takes another mouthful of his drink, the burn of alcohol almost comforting in its own way. Weeks of watching Bruno act like nothing had happened one minute and then acting like he was mad at him the next, even though Craig had been so careful not to do anything untoward... It had gotten to him, of course it had. He’d thought at the time that Bruno had wanted it; it had after all been Bruno who’d approached him
And now Craig can't stop thinking about how Bruno had looked on his knees, how his mouth had felt, hands stroking his skin... It had always been difficult to watch Bruno and not touch, but it was turning out to be ten times harder after he'd had what he wanted and then had to give it up.
It’s been getting more and more difficult to control his urge to just reach out, wrap his hand around Bruno's arm, pull him close and – But he can't. Well no, he could
, so very easily, but he shouldn't, mustn't
. And so far he hasn't. So far he's managed to keep himself under control, but he's not sure how long that will last.
Craig smirks at himself, bitterly amused. Most days he feels like he's two steps away from biting the back of Bruno's neck, or something equally drastic and ridiculous; striking a claim. And yeah, that probably wouldn't go down so well.
He drowns the rest of his drink. Leaving really was going to be the best thing to do, for everyone concerned.
Bruno’s hand tightens on his drink and he takes another mouthful, swilling it around in his mouth before swallowing. He looks around the bar; everybody seems to be enjoying themselves, celebrating after another successful show. Everyone but him, that is.
Bruno is still reeling from Craig’s revelation. It had been difficult for him to keep it together for the filming of the results show, but he’d managed. For the first time this season he’s grateful that there’s no dance-off between the bottom two pairs. Grateful that all that’s required of him is a few general comments and nothing more.
He can’t stop thinking about what Craig said, how he’d looked; so cold and emotionless. And he wonders how much their liaison
might have contributed to Craig’s decision to leave. How long has Craig been planning this? He takes another mouthful of his drink. It’s like the chicken and egg, he thinks: Did Craig have sex with Bruno because he was leaving, or is he leaving because he had sex with Bruno?
But it’s not the kind of question he could ask, certainly not one he had any right to ask. Besides, Len and Alesha had both been there.
Bruno signals the barman for another drink. He knows he’s well on his way to getting drunk and he doesn’t care. Sitting here and getting plastered is better than going home to an empty flat. At least there’s background noise here, other people. He’s already done enough sitting in the dark and thinking about Craig – seems like that’s all
he’s done since that day in the dressing room.
Sometimes, Bruno wishes he'd never made that offer to Craig. Before, he had no way of knowing if what he was imagining was real or not. Now he has memories
. And that’s all he's going to have.
Craig has been polite, professional and non-committal since then. At least until tonight that is, and now Craig is leaving. It had been stupid to wish it would be more than a one-time deal, especially with the way Craig had acted at the end of it. But god help him, he had
Still does. He wants to wake up next to Craig each day, to learn his likes and dislikes, how his mouth tastes when he’s smiling. He wants to have the real Craig; the one that the public doesn’t get to see. He wants to share a hotel room on the live tour, argue over the pros and cons of syncopation and dance with him, on and off the dance floor.
Bruno shakes his head at his own idiocy. He’s being pathetic; those things only ever happen in Hollywood movies, not in real life. Certainly not in his. He takes the newly filled glass from the waiter and settles back into his seat.
When Len gets to the bar it's buzzing. Alesha is in one corner laughing with some of the dancers. Craig is nowhere to be seen and Len presumes that he's probably not stayed around for the after show drink, which in his opinion can only be a good thing tonight. He looks around for Bruno and sees him slumped over his drink in a booth. One of the techs is hovering nearby clearly trying to engage him in a conversation, but Bruno gives him an uncharacteristic brush off. It's not like him to refuse socialising.
Len has gotten drunk with Bruno before and he can recognise just how far along Bruno is. It will probably only take a few more drinks to loosen his tongue. Len fetches a couple of whiskies from the bar, and the remainder of the bottle of grappa that Bruno has clearly already started on. He considers grappa one of the most disgusting things known to man, but he knows it's what Bruno will want.
Len slides into the booth opposite Bruno, not bothering to ask if he can join him. There are few advantages to his age but this is one of them. He puts the drinks down on the table. Bruno says nothing, just accepting his presence, almost as though he was expecting Len.
They chat for a while, Len keeping the conversation light, not really talking about anything particularly serious. Eventually the conversation wanes and it's the moment he's been waiting for: "So,” he says, casual. “You've been quiet lately."
Bruno shrugs and mumbles something, not really answering. Len figures he may as well mention Craig if that's the only kind of response he's going to get.
"So what do you think of Craig's revelation?" he asks. "It's the end of an era isn't it? Once he's gone it will just be the two of us. First Arlene and now Craig – it's going to feel strange."
He pauses for a moment to take a mouthful of his whisky. Bruno is staring at him and Len wonders briefly whether to talk around it, before thinking sod it
, he's done prevaricating; time to provoke Bruno out of his reverie.
"So here's what I think is going on,” Len says, leaning forward to stare Bruno in the eye. “Stop me if I get it wrong. I think something happened between you two. Did you fight? Did you fuck? Did you fight and then
fuck, or was it the other way around?"
Bruno tenses up at his words. He says nothing, just grips his glass tighter, knuckles white.
Len reaches across the table and pulls the glass out of his hand. He tops it up with grappa and passes it back to Bruno.
"C'mon," he says. "Talk to me. What happened?" He can see Bruno struggling with himself, unwilling to give in. But then Bruno’s shoulders slump and he takes a shuddering breath, and Len knows he's got him.
Bruno smiles wryly. "There was no fighting," he says. "Perhaps it would have been better if there had been."
“Then what? Did you...?"
Bruno snorts. "Did we what? Fuck? No," he shakes his head. "Again, perhaps if we had it might have been better. No, what happened was that Craig... he wanted relaxing
." Bruno spits the word out like it’s something bitter and foul-tasting. His mouth twists to one side, voice dropping until he's almost whispering. "And like a fool, I volunteered."
Len sits back, genuinely surprised. That doesn't sound like Craig, who’s not exactly the type to indulge in casual sex.
Bruno laughs at his expression, though there is no joy in it. "And you do you know what the worst thing was?” he asks. “For some crazy reason I thought he might actually like
me, that he came to me because he wanted me
, not just someone...” Bruno falters, finally going with: “convenient
Len stares for a moment, confused. He can't quite believe he's hearing this. Bruno can't be that dense can he? "Craig does
like you," Len tells him. "Bruno... I know he does. That’s why he hasn't made a move in all these years. If he did now... I don't know why, but there is no way it meant nothing to him."
Bruno shakes his head. "No Len, you’ve got it wrong. Craig wanted somebody who knew what they were doing and wouldn't put any pressure on him. He hasn't even mentioned it since and now he's leaving. So what does that tell you, Len? Because to me that sounds like a textbook definition of a one-night-stand."
Bruno lets out a self-deprecating chuckle. “Except in my case I wasn’t even good for one whole
Len rolls his eyes, exasperated. He’s getting way too old to play agony aunt for two grown men who are certainly old enough to know better by now. "What it tells me is that you are both idiots," he says. "Did Craig tell you that he only wanted some no strings fun? Did he actually say that it meant nothing? Christ, Bruno, you should know by now that with Craig what he doesn't
say is as important as what he does."
Len leans forward. He wants to shake Bruno, but settles on gripping his arm. "You know what Craig's like. Unless it's about finding fault in someone's dancing, the man is like a clam about his feelings. And you," he points a finger at Bruno, "You lavish your attention on everyone. Equally. Tell me," Len says, his voice kind now, although a little annoyed as well. "Have you said or done anything to let Craig know he's any different from all the others? Anything that would make him believe that he stands out from your adoring masses?”
Bruno looks at him for a moment before answering. "He said to see if I could help him relax. I didn't get that wrong Len. I know I can be a little over the top at times, I like flirting with people but I've never thought that was a bad thing. It's just fun."
Len watches as Bruno knocks back the rest of his drink. His shoulders are hunched and he twists the glass in his hand, staring at the bottom of it as thought it could give him the answers that he needs.
When he speaks next, his voice is so quiet that Len can hardly hear the words. "Do you... do you think I’m a slut, Len?” Bruno asks, not raising his eyes. “Is that what people think of me?”
" Len says, shocked. "Who said that? I didn't... Bruno, you know I didn't mean it like that, I only meant...'"
"What did you mean, Len?" Bruno looks... small
Len sighs, rubbing a hand over his face. This is worse than he thought, Bruno is really hurting here, and if Bruno is hurting, then Craig must be too. What a mess. "I do not think you're a slut. No one who knows you thinks that. And despite what Craig might have said, he doesn’t either.”
“But you are flirty. And you have had your fair share of..." Len hesitates, trying to think of suitable words "...encounters over the years. Now, I’m not saying there's anything wrong with that. You’ve never let any of them affect your professionalism or sway your opinion as a judge. You’ve never let anyone affect you period."
Len sighs again, trying to explain himself as gently as possible, without hurting his friend. "You have fun, Bruno. But it seems like that's all you do, like that's all you're interested in doing. And Craig," he adds, "Craig is not exactly the fun-having type. Do you understand what I’m getting at?"
Bruno doesn’t say anything, but Len can see his words have made him think.
"This cold war between you isn't doing either of you any favours,” Len says, touching Bruno’s hand gently. “Go and talk to him, Bruno. Tell him how you feel. After all, what have you got to lose?"
Bruno stares at him for a moment and then pushes up from the table, stepping out of the booth. He sways and for a second Len thinks he's going to fall but then he straightens up. "I'm going home," Bruno says. "I'll see you next week, Len."
Len watches as Bruno makes his way unsteadily out of the bar, not stopping to talk to anybody. He wonders whether the conversation actually helped at all, but at least he’d tried. Anything else was up to Craig and Bruno.
Craig relaxes back in his seat and smiles at Arlene. It’s interesting how they’ve spent more time with each other since she left Strictly
than they had before. It hadn’t really been until after her departure that he’d realised just how much he enjoyed her company and her intelligent yet biting comments about other people in the industry.
They try and meet up as often as they can, although this is the first time he’s seen her since the season started. Craig knows he could have made time if he’d really wanted to, but he hasn’t exactly felt like socialising, hence the cancelled dinner dates. Arlene will only put up with that for so long though, so here he is, finally making the third meeting.
Craig likes Arlene’s house and always feels comfortable here. It’s amazing how often they just end up staying in the kitchen, one or two glasses of wine becoming two or three bottles. They talk about Strictly
now, although they didn’t for the first year after Alesha had replaced Arlene. It’s safer now though, and Craig finds her comments on the dancers entertaining.
“So…” Arlene plunks the wine bottle onto the table, expression stern. “I hear you’re leaving Strictly
. What the hell, Craig? Why didn’t you tell me? Besides, you love the show. This doesn’t make any sense.”
Craig knew it was coming, he really did. Arlene keeps in touch with Len and Bruno, has known Bruno for years. He shrugs, equal amounts ashamed that she had to hear it from them and defensive over his decision. “I’m not really enjoying this series, Arlene. It’s been more… stressful than normal.”
“How so?” she asks, raising one well-manicured eyebrow.
“You know they’ve played with the format; neutered the judges in a lot of respects. The Sunday results show is pointless, we don’t even really need to be there. Thanks to the distilled idiocy of the voting public there are people going forward in the show who should be kicked out and good dancers with potential like Jimi going out when they should stay. And there’s fuck all we can do about it!”
Arlene hums thoughtfully, sipping her drink. This isn’t the first time she’s heard that particular rant. “That’s not all though, is it?”
“Well,” Craig shifts uncomfortably on the kitchen chair. “It doesn’t seem to be gelling so well with the judges this year.”
She says nothing, just continues to stare at him.
Craig runs his hand through his hair nervously. “Okay, so things have been difficult with Bruno. The new dancers have been all over him and you know what Bruno’s like, he’s enjoying it a little too much if you know what I mean. “
“That’s nothing new, Craig. It never used to bother you this much before. What’s different about this year?”
Craig stiffens up, realising he’s said way too much. “Never mind,” he says. “Forget I mentioned it.” He looks around the kitchen, casting desperately for another topic of conversation. It’s amazing how many cooking gadgets Arlene actually has.
The silence stretches for a few seconds, but then there’s a sharp breath as Arlene figures it out, as Craig feared she would. “Oh my God!” she exclaims. “You slept with Bruno!” She’s staring at him now, almost in glee.
Sometimes Craig really hates just how damned perceptive she is. He glares at her and takes a large mouthful of his wine, then glares again.
Arlene's expression softens and she stands up. She refills his glass and then lays a hand on his arm. “Oh honey,” she says, sympathy evident in her voice.
He doesn’t say anything. After all, what can he say? She’s got eyes after all, she knows how Bruno loves to flirt, has seen him flirting with Craig. He didn’t think Arlene knew how he felt though, he thought he’d kept his feelings close to his heart. Thought he was a better actor than that.
Arlene sits back down again. “Why now?” she asks quietly. “I mean after all of these years, Craig. Why now? Is it because you’ve decided to leave the show?”
He looks down at the table and mumbles something too low for her to hear.
“What was that, Craig? Speak up, I can’t hear you.”
He really doesn’t want to discuss this, but he knows he’s not really going to have a choice. Will have to tell her something otherwise she’ll never give up. Craig tries to think what to say, but really doesn’t know where to start.
“Okay,” Arlene says, changing tactics. “By the look on your face I can tell things didn’t end well. Tell me how Bruno’s been since it happened.”
Craig shrugs and looks down at his glass. “He’s been fine,” he lies. Bruno hasn’t seemed fine at all – in fact, he’s been completely different from his normal self.
“Bollocks,” Arlene says. “I know Bruno well enough to know that he wouldn’t be fine after something like this. I know how he feels about…” Arlene stops herself, tapping the table with her knuckles, visibly annoyed. “So, tell me the truth. How is he?”
How can Craig describe how Bruno has been; how can he tell her how diminished Bruno seems these days, how he seems a faded facsimile of himself. Craig raises his eyes to her. “He’s been quieter,” he says. That’s no lie.
“Quieter. You don’t say,” Arlene huffs. “ You need to talk to him, Craig, for Bruno’s sake as well as your own. Don’t leave it like this. All it will do is eat away at you unless you say something. You know I’m right.”
Craig does. But knowing you should do something and actually doing it are two different things.Fin.Closed Change - Part 3/3