Despite what many think Cabanela does not consider himself an impulsive man. If an action appears that way it's only because no one else sees the path he's already laid out and that's hardly his problem.
But this. He has no explanation. It was a long day. It was a dangerous day that could have gone disastrously wrong. After, he thinks maybe it was only relief driving him. He knows better, but he's always been good at lying. That he's good at picking up on a lie doesn't work in his favour.
Whatever the reason it's late, they're safe and they're about to part ways to go home. Cabanela finds himself suddenly swooping in on Jowd and landing a kiss. It's quick. Jowd barely has time to get out a woof of surprise before Cabanela spins away and isn't it convenient how his bike is right there? Isn't it handy how if he angles himself right he can catch a glimpse of Jowd without actively looking back?
Jowd is rigid. Cabanela's hands tighten on his handlebars when he swings himself up into the seat.
Various casual remarks get stuck in his throat and all he can manage is a "Good niiight baby" before pedalling away, heart pounding a rapid beat in his chest.
Idiot. He's not one for self-deprecation, but this? What was he thinking? He's a married man. You know this. You love them both and stay out of it. And it's there he has to slow before his feet sliding off the pedals send him into a lamp post.
Of course he loves them both, but gods help him he knows how to behave. At least he thought he did. Love turned traitor this day but maybe he can laugh it off. Relief's a powerful thing baby. Maybe it would never come up again. For once he could be grateful for Jowd's clueless nature in all things emotional. And how did the man get married again?
He relaxes. He doesn't, but he's nothing if not good at pretending. It was one quick mistake. He could recover just fiiine from that and no one need know how desperately he wanted to hold onto that fleeting moment.
Alma sighs. Breathe in. Breathe out. She is a pillar of patience and it is needed as she stares at her baffled and awkward husband.
"I'm sure it was nothing," he says, his tension saying otherwise.
And Alma has to bite back another sigh as any fond amusement she held over the situation fades. "You are a brilliant utterly dense man," she says.
"He's unpredictable, but he wouldn't... We're married." His tone jars. He's attempting logic but even he knows his logic is flawed. He brightens and suddenly laughs though it sounds off to Alma's ears as well. "Besides he has good taste!"
And where does that put me, Alma thinks wryly, but she is not about to let this distraction ploy work.
"He does," she says. "And he belongs with us. He has since the start if any of us would admit to it. And despite any claims to the contrary he is not so subtle." She reaches up to rest a hand against his cheek and meets his gaze. "Do you love him?" Of course he does and she knows she's pushing. The thing is someone should have already pushed earlier and spared a wait. She should have before now.
Jowd's mouth opens and she can feel his tension. She almost takes pity on him but she knows the truth and it needs to come out. And she needs to stop pretending her long held suspicions are only fantasy.
"I…" His gaze grows distant and his shoulders hunch. "Either of us could have died today. Cabanela came close to taking a bullet. If I made the wrong move I would have been shot and that didn't bother me. I only knew one thing. I wasn't going to let anything happen to him. In that moment I didn't care what happened to me. He needed to get out of there unscathed."
Alma swallows. She knows their job is dangerous and she accepts it. It never makes hearing these things any easier. She tucks herself into his arm and he holds her close.
She feels his sigh rumble through his chest.
"I love you," he says.
"I know. That's not what I asked."
She senses his attempted lightness but his words are heavy and halting despite his best efforts. "I don't know when or how but I… do love him as well."
Alma relaxes in his arm. Finally. Now she only needs to clear away the unease she feels in his tense muscles and sees in the apprehensive look he passes down to her.
"And you're okay with that…?"
She smiles and reaches up to toy with his beard. "Didn't I once say I could share? As long as you're willing to do the same. After all there is so very much of him for one person alone."
"Maybe too much," Jowd snorts after a pause.
She chuckles before sobering. "I hold you both dear to my heart and I don't want him to think he needs to remain on the outside anymore."
"Now I think tomorrow's dinner should be very interesting."
If the previous day weighs on Cabanela he shows no sign of it when he whirls into their house shortly before dinner, claiming great relief at an end to the tedium his day-off was. Alma only shakes her head with her best impression of sympathy that yes she could see how very bored he was over a lavish lunch when they met briefly at the café during her lunch break, before shooing him away from the oven to help Jowd set the table while she pulls dinner out.
Their dinner is lively as always and Cabanela despairs at Jowd's joke – I thought it was rather good myself – yes but we can't judge on youuur humour baby – and Alma entertains with a story about one of her more absurd client meetings. It's normal. Then their conversation winds around to the coming office party and Jowd sighs at the prospect of dancing and Cabanela, eyes sparkling with amusement, attempts what is theoretically reassurance.
"And whooo will notice some shuffling when you've got Alma, baby? The only looks you'll be getting is envy for the fiiine couple you are."
"Flattery will get you nowhere," Jowd says dryly.
Alma then reaches out to clasp Cabanela's hand across the table while resting her chin on the other. "Of course we make a good couple, but I prefer three myself."
It passes quickly, but they are both well-versed in reading Cabanela. It's all there in the slight widening of his eyes and his mouth opening briefly before sliding into a smile. If discussed beforehand as if such common courtesy applied here, Jowd would have fully expected Cabanela to blaze in and settle happily among them as he did in all the facets of his life. Uncertainty is a foreign concept. It is somehow both unsettling and relieving to see such a thing speed across his face.
Trust Alma to cut to the heart of the matter with a simple clasped hand.
She's not done yet. Still holding Cabanela's hand she rises and circles around the table to Cabanela's side. Cabanela is putting up a good effort. He's all smiles and a curious quirk of one eyebrow. There's some sort of tease on his lips, but it's not coming out. And Jowd knows that set in his shoulders. He knows the tightening around his eyes. He knows that tension he only sees when things get serious, when a case is going badly wrong, when he's genuinely worried. He realizes with a pang that surprises him that Cabanela really doesn't know what to expect and is even afraid.
Some other instinct kicks in and he rises as well to join them on the other side of the table, opposite Alma, Cabanela between them. He places a hand on his shoulder, confirming what he already knows. The man is a tightly coiled spring.
Alma cups Cabanela's face. "Three," she says softly before kissing him. He feels Cabanela go rigid and briefly wonders if they made a mistake. When he starts to feel him relax he knows he's only as surprised as Jowd had been the previous day.
Alma pulls away leaving Cabanela's breath quickened and the uncertainty is back as he looks first at Alma then at Jowd.
"We talked about yesterday," Jowd says.
"Thaaat was nothing, baby."
The words are flat. They would sound rehearsed if he ever knew Cabanela to do such things.
"That is a shame if true," Jowd says. Cabanela blinks. Another surprise to him.
Alma made it look so easy, but Jowd finds himself hesitating. What if they are wrong? Looking at Cabanela now he knows that's not the case. If he's honest he knows if he had more time to get over his surprise he would not have minded Cabanela prolonging that kiss.
He slides his hand to the back of Cabanela's head, cautious, testing. They don't want to spook him more so. The flicker of hope that flashes through Cabanela's eyes is the only permission he needs and he pulls him into the kiss, feels his tension drain as he melts into it. Jowd keeps it gentle but feels a desperation from Cabanela. If they weren't sure of his feelings already they know them now.
When he breaks away, he lets his hand rest against the base of Cabanela's neck and feels the tension starting to build again. Cabanela's eyes seem overly bright as he glances between Jowd and Alma.
"Never one to intrude on a married couple," he says with attempted good humour, but his voice is tight.
"You're not an intruder when we want you," Alma replies gently.
"We…" Cabanela smiles and his hands wrap around theirs. "Three indeeed. Nothing like it."