Nascent - carleton97

"Merton?" Tommy knew his habitual greeting would go unanswered. The cozy rooms that had slowly become their home in the past few years were silent around him. Merton wasn't there.

Tommy closed the door to their apartment and rested heavily against it as he toed off his shoes. This week sucked. Traffic sucked. Work sucked. Coaching sucked. Life sucked. And Merton wasn't due back until tomorrow.

He knew Merton being asked to present his paper at the conference was a great honor - Merton and his thesis advisor had certainly been excited about it - but all he really cared about was that Merton was going to be in Chicago without him. For a week.

He had managed to not think about it until the third day he woke up alone, but this was the one of longest periods of time he'd gone without seeing Merton since they'd become lovers. Though he knew it was necessary and probably healthy for them to spend some time apart, he was having a hard time convincing the wolf of that. It had made its displeasure with the entire plan quite clear and was even now protesting the slight fading of Merton's scent in their home.

It wasn't that Tommy begrudged Merton his career or his successes - he was proud of the other man's achievements - but he disliked being apart and knew future separations were likely. They had been lucky for so long, neither family nor school nor work had demanded significant time apart, but Tommy had always known it couldn't last forever.

For all intents and purposes, though, Tommy was an adult, so he tried to act like one. That meant muzzling the wolf and resisting the urge to call Merton five times a day, just to make sure he was all right. That meant forcing himself in to his classroom every day and grading quizzes with a smile. That meant doing the dishes and picking up his wet towels and basically behaving as if half of him wasn't thousands of miles away.

Since he was alone in the apartment, Tommy didn't bother to stifle his gusty sigh. He knew he was being pitiful, but the knowledge didn't help to ease the sharp ache lodged under his ribs. Pushing off from the door, he gave his shoes a half-hearted kick towards the closet before guiltily bending over to line them up with the other pairs on the floor.

The front door swung open unexpectedly and the edge of it caught him on the ass, sending him sprawling head first into the closet. He was back on his feet in a second, eyes glowing with the barest tinge of yellow, ready to defend his home against whomever was stupid enough to invade a wolf's lair. The threatening growl building in his chest died a quick death, though, at the sight of Merton.

"Merton? What - " Tommy shook his head to get rid of the adrenaline surge, trying to make sense of his partner's appearance.

"The conference wrapped up sooner than planned so I caught an early flight back." Merton dropped his suitcase on the floor and pushed the door closed behind him.

Tommy finally seemed to break free of the strange paralysis that had him in its grip and pulled Merton into his arms, lifting him off his feet. He buried his face in the smaller man's neck and breathed in the comforting, familiar scent of him. Merton kissed the side of his head and gently stroked his back and shoulders; this intimate knowledge of his presence finally managing to settle Tommy's barely controlled unrest.  After several minutes, Tommy relaxed his desperate hold and lowered Merton until his feet touched the ground.

"Miss me?"

Tommy ran his fingers through dark hair only slightly tamed by age and let his hand cup the side of Merton's face. "Not a bit."

"Liar." Merton grabbed the end of his loosened tie and pulled him down far enough to claim a kiss.

Tommy relaxed into the soft kiss, willingly giving himself over to Merton. The ends of his tie were released and Merton reached up to smooth the curly spikes of hair that had developed during the day. Tommy made a quiet, needy sound and the sensation of hands against his skin and Merton pulled back just enough to wrap his arms around Tommy.

He held him securely, spreading his hands over his back and nuzzling his face into his throat. He smiled against Tommy's neck and opened his mouth to lick at the patch of skin above his collar when Tommy rubbed his face against his hair.

"How was the conference?" Tommy's voice was slightly muffled.

"Oh, you know how crazy those folklorists can get when they get together. It was all Bettelheim this and Zipes that." Tommy was hugged a little tighter when he huffed into Merton's hair. He had heard enough of Merton's rants and attended enough lectures with him throughout the past six years of higher education to commiserate. "I think my paper was received well, though. I'll never gain as much recognition as some of the fairy tale crowd, but Dr. Wakefield had some good notes for me."

"Which one is Dr. Wakefield?" He dropped a kiss on Merton's head and began moving backwards through the entryway to the living room.

Merton set his hands on Tommy's hips and peeked around his shoulder and to help to steer him around their furniture. "You remember that visiting lecturer from freshman year? In Intro to Folklore?"

Tommy dropped onto the couch, frowning slightly as he tried to remember. His eyes widened as he finally placed the name. "You mean the scary one?"

"The very same." Merton laughed at Tommy's expression, still obviously intimidated six years after the fact, and crawled on top of him, settling onto his body with the ease of long practice. "How was your week?"

Tommy shrugged a little and ran his hands down the length of Merton's back, fingers digging into the knots of tension left by cramped airplane seats. "It was long and boring."

Merton whimpered a little as a particularly stubborn knot released and relaxed, giving up the fight to keep his eyes open. Tommy kept up his gentle massage until he felt Merton slip into sleep, obviously drawing as much comfort from their contact as Tommy did. He reached for the afghan spread over the back of the couch and eased it around them, leaving his arms wrapped around his mate.

They slept.


Merton didn't think he'd ever get tired of watching Tommy sleep. All of the charisma and grace and latent power that made him so vibrant when he was awake receded enough so that the pure *Tommyness* of him was all that was left.

Merton thought he was beautiful.

He knew they couldn't have been asleep long since it was still light outside, but the short nap seemed to have completely erased the vague sense of unease that had dogged him the entire week in Chicago. He didn't know if it was finally sleeping peacefully or Tommy's presence, but either way he was glad to be back home.

He had known a part of Tommy didn't really want him to go, had known the wolf would protest the seemingly unnecessary separation, but he hadn't taken into account how much *he* would miss Tommy, how much he would resent the time away from the life they had built. The life they were still building.

Tommy blinked his eyes open and stretched, seemingly unaware of Merton's weight draped across his body. When he was done he linked his hands in the small of Merton's back and lifted his head to deliver a smacking kiss to his lips. "I'm glad you're home."

"Me too." Merton smiled a little. Even now, the unreality of *Tommy Dawkins* loving him still hit him occasionally. His smile faded as thoughts of Tommy and home and family and the future floated around his mind.

He let his head drop back down to Tommy's chest and traced the pinstripes of his shirt with delicate fingers. "Hey Tommy?"

Tommy's body tensed slightly under his, aware of Merton's changed mood. "Yeah?"

"I've been thinking about what you said before. About adoption." Merton held his breath, knowing his initial reaction to the subject had hurt Tommy.

"Oh." Tommy obviously remembered too.

"No, I - I think it's a good idea. I was just surprised, you know?" 'Surprised' didn't quite cover the enormity of his shock at Tommy's suggestion that they adopt a child.

"Well, I wasn't suggesting we do it tomorrow." And there was more proof that Tommy was the best person in the world because that wasn't anywhere near as sarcastic as Merton deserved. "We're only twenty-five and you've got to finish your PhD and everything first."

"Yeah." Merton burrowed a little closer to Tommy. "So, I did some research while I was in Chicago."

Even after seven years, Merton still caught his breath every time Tommy moved a little more quickly than he should have been able to. Especially when that meant Tommy had abused his superpowers in order to reverse their positions on the couch and was now comfortably settled between Merton's legs, his face pressed against his neck.

"I love you."

"I love you, too." It really took so little to make Tommy happy and Merton could have kicked himself for not giving his partner the simple courtesy of listening to him last week. "Anyway, it's not a completely unprecedented thing. It will be a little more difficult since we're both, you know, guys, but there are agencies and attorneys who specialize in this kind of thing so I'm not too worried about that."

"What are you worried about then?" Tommy knew him so well.

"I don't want you to take this the wrong way and I know it's probably stupid, but I think it's a valid concern and - "


"The wolf." If it were physically possible, Merton would have kicked his own ass for blurting it out like that. It wasn't that he was *worried* about the wolf -

"You're worried about the wolf?" Tommy propped himself up on his forearms.

"A little, yeah. I mean, say we go out and adopt a kid. What if the wolf doesn't like the kid? Or feels threatened? Or - "

"Merton, whose idea was this?" Tommy ran his thumbs down Merton's neck.

"Yours, but - "

"Do you think I just pulled it out of the air that night?" A brush of lips against his forehead.

"Well, no, but - "

"Do you think I'd do that to us or to some poor little kid?" A slow kiss this time.

"No. No, I know you wouldn't." Merton pushed his fingers through Tommy's hair, considering. "So, all of you is OK with this?

"Yeah. We'll know our kid when we see it. Trust me."



~Seven years later~

"Daddy! We're home!" A four-year old missile launched herself at Tommy, trusting him to catch her before she hit the ground.

Tommy snatched Anna from her impending doom and spun her around and around as she squealed and laughed until she was breathless. Finally coming to rest, Tommy flopped back on the couch, his daughter - their daughter - snug in his arms. "What did you and Papa do today while I was stuck inside?"

Even if the scent of hot dogs and cotton candy stubbornly clinging to her pristine hands hadn't give Merton away, Anna's sudden stillness would have. "Nothing special."

"Nothing special, huh?" Tommy shook his head. It wasn't *exactly* a lie. Anna knew that he wouldn't stand for outright lying, but her evasiveness had Merton written all over it. "Papa didn't take you to the carnival, then?"

Anna's little body relaxed against his and she tilted up her head to let Tommy see the happy grin shining in her eyes. "I *knew* you knew, Daddy! Papa said you were sad to miss it, but had to work today so we shouldn't tell you, but you always know."

"That's right, baby, I always know. Papa forgets that sometimes." Tommy wasn't all that upset. The scents and sounds of carnivals and fairs usually just ended up making him sick to his stomach, so he was glad Merton and Anna had fun.

Besides, today was Sunday and that meant he and his bloodthirsty little girl would have special football watching time later.

"What do I forget?" Merton leaned over the back of the couch, resting his chin on Tommy's shoulder and petting his daughter's dark hair.

"That Daddy always knows." Anna seemed unaware of Merton's bitten off curse.

"You know what else Daddy knows? That's just about nap time." Tommy stopped the inevitable protest with a raised finger. "I know you're not tired and you don't want to nap, but it's still nap time. If you can't sleep, you can read a book or play quietly for an hour while Papa and I nap."

"Okay, Daddy." Anna pulled herself up and kissed her parents before sliding off Tommy's lap and heading into her room.

There was a moment of silence while Tommy watched Merton study his hands. "Was it the hot dog?"

"And the cotton candy."

Merton sighed heavily maneuvered his body over the back of the couch, twisting until he ended up with his head in Tommy's lap. "I'm beat. I don't think she slowed down all morning long."

"Why do you think I suggested nap time?" Tommy ran his hand through Merton's hair, feeling him settle deeper into the couch.

"Mmmm," Merton found Tommy's other hand and wove their fingers together, resting their joined hands on his chest. "Hey, did you get your paper done?"

"Yeah, mostly." Going back to school for his advanced degree took a lot of Tommy's time, but he wasn't in any rush to complete it, he just wanted to get it done eventually. Merton relaxed a little more and Tommy realized he was going to end up pinned to the couch in about 5 minutes. "Come on, let's go take a nap."

"Don't want to get up." Merton turned on his side and cuddled his face into Tommy's stomach.

"If we go into our room, I can take a nap with you." Tommy tried out his best wheedling voice.

"Oh yeah?" Merton turned his head a little and peered up at Tommy with one eye.

"Yeah, and if we wake up before Anna, I can guarantee you'll get lucky."

"Then why the hell are we still in the living room?" Merton rolled off of Tommy's lap and onto his feet in one mostly graceful motion. He grabbed Tommy's hands and pulled him to his feet, then towed him off towards their bedroom.

Yeah, life was good.



Disclaimer: BWOC isn't mine, I just play. 

Created and maintained by carleton97.

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