(Picture for Piper)
Piper Vaughn was having a birthday celebration late last year and she had a little contest – in the contest if you “won” she had an amazing list of prizes to pick from. Well – I know Piper likes hedgehogs so I sent her a Birthday Hedgehog and I won a ficlet from JH Knight! I was BLOWN AWAY – I love JH Knight and was so psyched! (JH wrote an amazing book (reviewed here earlier today) called The Last Thing He Needs http://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/store/product_info.php?products_id=6350 featuring two MCs Bobby and Tommy.)
JH contacted me and asked what I wanted and I said “Bobby and Tommy” in the future!!!”
This is what I got (it’s PERFECTION!):
Better Late Than Never by JH Knight
Tommy knew how he ended up there. He’d retraced his steps, lived through the fight again, picked apart every word he’d said. Every word they’d both said. Every word they didn’t mean.
Well. Every word he didn’t mean. Bobby usually meant what he said and didn’t feel the need to apologize or take it back. Why would he? The bastard was usually right.
“We’ve been living together for a year, Tom. How long until you stop waiting for me to change my mind?”
Bobby’s words didn’t unsettle him so much as the way he’d said them. Like he was defeated, broken down… done.
“I don’t know, Bobby. Maybe forever, okay? Think you can handle that?”
No answer. Tommy should’ve felt some sense of satisfaction. He’d finally gotten Bobby to shut up, finally driven a point home so clearly and so hard there was no arguing it.
The only problem was, Tommy wanted him to argue it, wanted him to say he could handle it, could handle anything Tommy threw at him. But, no. Bobby stood in front of him with his arms crossed over his chest, gritting his teeth like he was trying to stop himself from throwing a punch.
Brittle silence stretched between them, so strained Tommy wanted to break it himself, wanted to say something—anything, really. But he never got the chance. Bobby simply turned and walked out the door into the cold winter night.
“Great,” Tommy muttered. “Fucking fantastic.” He paced the floor for about twelve seconds before he headed for the closet and grabbed his jacket. He went ahead and dug around on the top shelf—reached his arm all the way back until he found what he really wanted. The one thing that might keep him sane tonight. Marlboro Reds never let him down. His fingers itched for them before he even made it outside.
He thought about chasing Bobby down, having some big, dramatic showdown in a parking lot somewhere, or on the side of the road. But he knew Bobby too well. Bobby liked to let things cool down, and if he was the one walking out, it meant he was the one who needed to clear his head and work through his anger on his own so he could talk things through with Tommy.
The crisp night air burned Tommy’s lungs, but he lit a cigarette anyway, took one long drag off it as he tried to decide where to go. He knew he shouldn’t head to the bar. That was a mistake he’d never make again. Instead he wandered around for an hour before he found himself on Gene’s doorstep. Mostly because that’s where he usually found himself when he needed to shake something off, or talk to someone who wouldn’t tell him what a dipshit he was. Someone who knew him almost as well as Colleen, but who didn’t have an investment in his actions beyond showing up for work and not fucking up so badly he couldn’t do his job.
Gene answered the door, wearing a flannel robe over his boxer shorts and an old undershirt. “Again?” he asked as he stepped back to let Tommy in. “Third fight in a month. You two must be going for some kinda record.”
Tommy couldn’t really laugh it off as a joke, and no way could he deny it.
“You wanna talk about it?”
“Thank Christ. Beer’s in the fridge. Help yourself.”
Tommy did. But he stopped himself at two. Getting shitfaced at Gene’s was only one step better than getting shitfaced at the bar.
Gene watched the recap of one hockey game or another and Tommy stewed. He thought about Gene—his friend, practically his father. The guy was still single twenty years after his divorce because his wife had left him with nothing but a broken heart. On the other hand, Gene’s sob story didn’t really pan out when he was drunk enough to get chatty. He once told Tommy how it wasn’t her fault. How he drank too much, married too young, screwed anything that came his way while she was home waiting for him. How he sucked at it. Sucked at being a husband and would’ve sucked at being a father. How much he hated that it was too late now to go back and try again.
And that was the main problem with life in general, as far as Tommy could make out. Give it a shot and fail, you fuck up (at least) two people’s lives. Don’t try at all, and you’re probably still fucking things up. Damned if you do and damned if you don’t.
Which pretty much summed up Tommy’s life. Maybe everyone else’s life too, but fuck the rest of the world. He was too busy trying to keep his own head above water.
As Gene started to nod off in his chair, Tommy said goodnight and slipped out the door. He lit his last smoke and headed home.
Bobby was already in bed. Tommy could tell he wasn’t really asleep. Just the dark outline of the covers felt tense and angry to Tommy.
Not a good sign.
Tommy walked around to Bobby’s side of the bed, but he didn’t sit down. Instead he dropped to his knees and reached a hand out.
“I think it’ll take more than a blowjob tonight, Tom.” There was nothing playful about Bobby’s tone. Damn it all.
“I wasn’t planning on blowing you.”
That seemed to get Bobby’s attention. He lifted his head and turned on the lamp on the nightstand.
“So you’re… what? Begging?” Bobby arched a brow, but didn’t look impressed. “That’s not your style, Tom.”
Fair point and they both knew it. But if anyone could get him to beg, it’d be Bobby.
“Yeah, well. My style hasn’t been working too well lately, has it, copper?”
Bobby snorted a laugh, but it sounded cynical.
Tommy wet his lips and grabbed Bobby’s hand. “Maybe I am begging a little, all right?”
“Begging for what, Tom? More time? Another chance? You’ve got it, okay? Now let me get some sleep.”
“Ya know, you’re a real pain in the ass.”
Bobby did laugh then. Bitter and nettled, but a laugh nonetheless. “That’s really rich coming from you, Mr. O’Shea.”
Another good point. “Yeah, well. I guess we deserve each other, then.”
Something about that softened Bobby. He turned onto his side so he could face Tommy, squeezed Tommy’s fingers in his own. “Maybe so,” he whispered, exhaling a heavy breath, like he’d been holding it all damn day. “So what are we supposed to do with each other?”
That was Tommy’s out. His chance to make a joke, make a pass, fuck Bobby stupid until he forgot what they were fighting about in the first place. But not tonight.
“I think we should get married.”
He’d managed to shock Bobby a few times since they’d been together, but maybe not that much. Tommy didn’t think anyone had ever been so shocked in the history of the world.
“Why?” Bobby asked after an impossibly long pause.
Tommy narrowed his eyes. “Are you fucking kidding me?”
“Not even a little, Tom. Why? Why get married? Just to stop me bitching? Just so we’ll have something new and different to fight about?” Bobby was using his let’s think this through rationally voice, like he really was curious. It made it easier for Tommy to answer.
“No,” he said softly. “Not any of those reasons.” After a beat, Tommy added, “Well, getting you to stop bitching might be a bonus, but that ain’t why.”
He got a half smile from Bobby for that. Tommy cleared his throat before saying anything else. “You’re right, okay?” How many times had he said those three little words since he met Bobby? More than he could count. “I act like I’m always waiting for you to find an emergency exit because… I am always waiting for that. You deserve better than me, Bobby, and I’ll probably always wonder when you’re gonna figure that out.”
“For once in your life, could you just shut the fuck up?” Tommy smiled as he said the words, took the sting out of them by laying his hand on Bobby’s chest and giving him a gentle push back onto the bed. He had to think for a moment before he could say anything else. Tommy wasn’t used to having to put everything into words the way Bobby needed him to. Once in a while, sure. But Bobby seemed to need it more and more lately, and maybe that was part of the problem. “We’re raising seven kids together. We live together. We cook meals together, solve problems together, worry together, laugh together. We fight together…. And even through all the bullshit, I’m still here and so are you.” Tommy paused—to give himself a chance to think, but mostly to see Bobby’s face, check his reaction. It didn’t help much. Bobby was listening intently, but he wasn’t giving anything away.
Maybe he waited too long to go on. Into the quiet of their bedroom, Bobby said, “So… neither of us has given up on the other, so we might as well get married?”
Considering the fact that Bobby had brought the subject up at least twice in as many months, he was sure as hell making it difficult for Tommy now. “More like, neither of us ever will, so we might as well be done with it and get married.” Tommy probably could’ve made it sound better, but it was too late to start over. After another long pause, Tommy added, “Christ, I’m no good at this shit, Bobby. Could ya cut me a little slack here?”
Bobby shifted on the bed, moved back a little, an invitation for Tommy to join him. Instead, Tommy stayed on his knees as Bobby said, “You really do suck at this.” He laughed, though, so Tommy figured they were out of the woods. “You wanna know why I want to marry you?”
Tommy knew already. “You already said. It’ll be easier if anything ever happens to one of us, or if we decide to adopt the twins, or—” He stopped talking as Bobby shook his head.
“Those are the reason I told you, because I thought I’d have a better chance of making you think about it.”
“Okay. You gonna tell me the real reason?”
“Well,” Bobby said as he trailed a fingertip down Tommy’s shoulder. He dropped his voice to a whisper and added, “Those are all real reasons too, but not the ones that matter.”
“What’re the ones that matter?” Maybe it was a stupid question, maybe if Tommy thought about it for even a second, he’d know what Bobby was getting at. Mostly he just wanted to hear Bobby’s voice, gentle and warm, no longer angry, inviting—the sound of home, to Tommy. He wanted Bobby to keep touching him, keep talking to him.
“I love you,” Bobby whispered. “That’s not going to change. Not in a week, or a few months, or a few decades. I’ll love you when we’re old, when we’re wrinkled and flabby and can barely remember our own names. I’ll still be here with you—not because I just haven’t given up, but because I love you and… I don’t want to be here without you.” Bobby paused for a beat, which was a good thing because Tommy felt like he couldn’t even breathe. “And that’s why people get married.” Bobby let out a small breath, caught Tommy’s eye. “Well. That’s the reason I want to marry you, anyway.”
Tommy’s mouth had gone dry sometime between asking for an answer and listening to it. He swallowed slowly, ran the tip of his tongue over his lips before he whispered, “That’s a pretty good reason.”
“I thought so,” Bobby told him, in that soft, half-teasing tone he used when he was in a good mood and looking to get laid.
Leaning in close, Tommy ran his hand up Bobby’s chest and smoothed his fingers over a wrinkle in Bobby’s T-shirt. Which, really was a sign of how pissed off Bobby had been when he went to bed. The only time either of them did that was when they were sick. “So we’re gonna do this?” Tommy asked before he brushed a light kiss against Bobby’s mouth.
Bobby grinned against Tommy’s lips and whispered, “Do what?” He slipped his hand lower, dipped his fingers into Tommy’s jeans as he spoke.
“Get married, asshole,” Tommy said, his voice catching in the back of his throat as his cock started to harden.
“Ask me again.” Bobby ran his fingertips over the head of Tommy’s cock, teasingly light, cruel. The bastard.
“Will ya marry me, Bobby?” The words sounded more like a demand, a growl as Tommy shifted his hips to get closer. He wasn’t even on the damn bed yet.
Bobby pulled at Tommy’s clothes, fought with the buttons on Tommy’s jeans even as he pressed his forehead to Tommy’s and whispered, “Yeah, I’ll marry ya, Tom.”
Tommy shifted over him, pushed the sheets back farther until he was on top of Bobby. They fumbled with their clothes for a long minute, pulling at fabric, trying to get to skin. When they were finally pressed naked together, Bobby threaded his fingers into Tommy’s hair and pulled him in for a rough kiss. He grazed his teeth over Tommy’s lips and bit down gently as Tommy rolled his hips against him, their cocks slick and hard between them.
When Tommy tried to pull back, wanting to reach for the lube, Bobby clung to him, held him tighter. “Just like this, Tom,” he whispered. He hitched his legs higher around Tommy’s waist and rocked so hard against Tommy, he could only nod in response.
They moved together for long minutes as Tommy buried his face against Bobby’s neck, inhaled deep before kissing him there. He got a groan out of Bobby then, and did it again, skimmed his hand down Bobby’s side and under his ass so he could press them tighter together. “Love you so goddamn much, Bobby,” he whispered, his voice rough, full of need.
“I know,” Bobby muttered, as if he couldn’t think clearly enough for a better response.
The feel of his hands on Tommy’s skin made Tommy move faster, grind harder against him as their bodies slicked with sweat, their cocks rubbing together with every move. He could hear Bobby’s breath catch, feel Bobby’s muscles tense. He knew Bobby was close so he pulled back just a bit, just enough to get a whimper from Bobby.
“Asshole,” Bobby whispered, the single word a hot pant against Tommy’s skin.
He couldn’t help but grin in response. “You keep telling me that.” Tommy rolled his hips again, one time, long and slow before finding his frantic pace again. He watched Bobby’s face, the way Bobby’s brow furrowed—almost the same way it did when he was hurting, or really pissed off. He was so close, right on the edge, and seeing that pulled Tommy along with him.
After too few seconds, Bobby let out a fierce groan and held tight to Tommy. His shudders rolled through him, and Tommy could feel each one as Bobby came hot and wet between them.
Tommy tried to hold off, let it last a little longer, but his climax burned through him like a lit fuse and there was no turning back. “Christ,” he groaned, one last gasp of breath before he collapsed against Bobby in the sticky mess they’d made.
It didn’t take long for Bobby to get tired of Tommy’s dead weight pinning him to the bed. With a laugh, Bobby said, “If you fall asleep now, I’m changing my mind.”
“Who said anything about falling asleep?” Tommy asked as he slowly lifted his head. “You’re just softer than the mattress.”
Bobby jabbed him hard in the ribs for that. “Get off me, asshole.” Thankfully, Bobby was still laughing as he rolled over, tumbling Tommy to the side. “Bet you wish you’d saved a cigarette now.”
Busted. “Who said I didn’t?”
“I know you too well for that, Tom. I bet you even put off coming home until your pack was gone.”
Tommy stretched out next to him, wrapped his arm around Bobby’s waist as Bobby tried to clean them both up. “Maybe I smoked extra fast so I could get back here and talk shit out before you fell asleep.”
Bobby snorted a laugh and shifted closer. “I bet you were sitting on Gene’s couch, smoking and drinking, trying to calculate how long you could stay out without me changing the locks.”
“Gene texted you, didn’t he?”
The grin on Bobby’s face was a good enough answer, but he said, “While you were getting your first beer.”
“He’s lucky he just gave me a raise, or I’d kick his ass.”
They settled after that, Tommy with his arms around Bobby’s shoulders, Bobby’s head on his chest, their feet tangled together under the blankets.
“Been a while since we rubbed off on each other like horny teenagers,” Bobby whispered, brushing kisses against Tommy’s skin with his words.
Tommy trailed his fingers through Bobby’s short blond hair. “I always feel like a horny teenager when I’m with you.” Cheesy? Probably. But true either way. He could feel Bobby’s breath, could tell he was about to fall asleep. “Speaking of horny teenagers, though….”
Bobby lifted his head, just enough to catch Tommy’s eye before relaxing against him again. “Davey told me what happened.”
“What’d you tell him?” Tommy asked, curious.
“Probably the same thing you told him. He’s too young, she’s too young, pissed off parents, teen pregnancy, condoms.” He pulled back to look at Tommy again, grinning this time. “Then I told him you’d turn him into a eunuch if he got caught making out with her on campus again.”
“That’s a goddamn promise. What’d he say?”
“‘What’s a eunuch?’”
Bobby couldn’t help but laugh. “Please tell me you explained. In detail.”
“I did.” Bobby started to laugh then, and Tommy held him a little tighter. “I told him he could carry his balls in a little sack around his neck.”
“I like it.”
“I’m not sure, but I think it was scarier coming from me,” Bobby said, rubbing his feet against Tommy’s. “Like, he’s used to you saying stuff like that. I don’t think he even hears it anymore. But for me to say it….”
“Yeah, you’re supposed to be the nice one, not the one threatening dismemberment.”
“Well. I did say you’d do it.”
“Fair enough,” Tommy whispered, already wanting to slip into sleep, but not wanting to stop talking either. This was his favorite part of the day. In bed, warm and safe, Bobby wrapped around him. Didn’t matter that they’d been at each other’s throats hours earlier. In a way, it didn’t even matter that they’d made a pretty huge fucking decision about their life and their future. These quiet moments—stolen bits of time that no one could take away from them—were the ones that mattered to Tommy. Talking about their day, Carrie’s report card, or Collin’s friend moving across town, Max and Zoe learning to write their numbers (with crayons, on the wall,) or the stupid shit Davey was up to…. It finally dawned on Tommy. They were already married.
“Hey,” Bobby whispered, tickling Tommy’s side. “You wanna make a big deal out of it, make an announcement and have a big party and all that, or just… us?”
Right. Getting married usually meant a wedding. “Hadn’t thought about it. What about you?”
Bobby shifted again, somehow got a little closer. “Honestly, Tom, I don’t care. We can go down to the courthouse and not tell anyone, or we can make it a huge thing.”
“I think your mother would turn us into eunuchs if we didn’t even tell her. Not to mention Colleen.”
Tommy thought for a moment, trying to find what would feel right for them—for all of them. “What about just the family? And maybe see if Sanders and his wife wanna come?” Bobby’s partner was as good as family to Bobby and Judy, it was only right he should be there.
“Yeah, Gene too. We could put on some nice suits, go down to the courthouse, do a fancy dinner after….”
Bobby let out a contented hum before he answered, as if he were picturing it first. “Sounds nice. I like it. What about a honeymoon? Take a little trip somewhere, maybe go back to Mexico?”
“Sounds expensive.” He didn’t give Bobby a chance to argue, though. “But, yeah, we should do it. Whole family, or just us?”
“We didn’t take them when we went down to Cancun. Might be cool to bring all the kids. We’ve never really done a family vacation before.”
Tommy turned onto his side, slipped his hand lower to wrap his arm around Bobby’s waist. “That sounds even more expensive.” He thought about it for the length of one heartbeat and said, “We’d be saving a lot of money by not doing a reception and all that shit, though.”
“I should always try to talk you into things right after you come,” Bobby said, obviously teasing. “You’re pushover.”
“You and your mother have worn me down. I can’t say no to a goddamn thing anymore.”
“Good,” Bobby whispered before leaning in and pressing his lips to Tommy’s. “So if I said we should take two trips, one with all the kids and one just for us, you’d just agree and fall asleep?”
“Why not?” Tommy rolled over, pushing Bobby onto his back and using him like a pillow. “We’ll just live with your mother the rest of our lives. Who needs to buy a house or put kids through college?”
“Yeah, like Colleen has asked for a single dime for tuition—you do realize, her dying words will be sorry for putting this on you guys.”
“That’s the god’s truth.” Tommy thought about it for a minute. Colleen needed a vacation from real life more than any of them. “Mike’ll probably get a scholarship.”
“We can put off buying a house for one more year….”
“We’re not exactly responsible with money, you get that, right?”
“Well, you are. Enough for both of us.”
“Not if I’m agreeing to this.”
“You can start being responsible again in a few months. After we get back from a two-part honeymoon.”
Tommy would’ve rolled his eyes if Bobby had been looking at him. “Fine. But this is the last thing you get to talk me into for a year. No. Five years.”
“Split the difference? Two and a half?”
Even that was unlikely and they both knew it.
Thank you to JH Knight for giving me this amazing ficlet, thank you to Piper Vaughn for having that wonderful Birthday Contest and thank you to Karrie Jax for her amazing fan art!