FIC: Western Lovers: Cowboys & Archaeologists 33/33
« previous entry | next entry »
Jun. 15th, 2006 | 10:25 pm
music: Pump It - Black Eyed Peas
posted by: sassywitch in monaboyd
Title: Western Lovers: Cowboys and Archaeologists 33/33
Rating: NC-17, to be on the safe side.
Summary: Be careful what you wish for.
Feedback: Feedback is my writers crack, which is not to be confused at all with plumbers crack.
Disclaimer: Not at all true in reality. These men whilst adorable and perfectly happy to slash themselves, their actual relationship is something that they only know. This story is adapted from a series of books that I adored when I was younger written by Elizabeth Lowell.
Word Count: 5330
Header Art: Courtesy of the incredibly talented loki_girl
Chapter 1|Chapter 2|Chapter 3|Chapter 4|Chapter 5|Chapter 6|Chapter 7|Chapter 8|Chapter 9|Chapter 10|Chapter 11|Chapter 12|Chapter 13|Chapter 14|Chapter 15|Chapter 16|Chapter 17|Chapter 18|Chapter 19|Chapter 20|Chapter 21|Chapter 22|Chapter 23|Chapter 24|Chapter 25|Chapter 26|Chapter 27|Chapter 28|Chapter 29|Chapter 30| Chapter 31|Chapter 32|
A/N: A huge thank you to dylan_dufresne for the inspiration, the prodding and the beta. She really deserves far more credit than just beta. This fic wouldn't be what it is without her labour of love. My grammar sucks really, really badly so she had to suffer it so nobody else would. What would a fic be without an epilogue, so epilogue will be posted soon.
Walking back towards their ranch house, Billy's calloused fingertips smoothed the tousled black curls of the tiny head that rested on his shoulder. Their beloved baby girl was nestled in the crook of his arm as he walked back to their home.
Dom, his white straw hat tilted back on his shaggy, blonde head, stood at the top of the steps, one hand holding the door open, the other extended to Billy, a broad smile on his face as he watched his family approach.
Pausing, Billy leaned in to Dom's welcoming embrace, their lips meeting in a slow, lingering kiss.
"She still asleep?" Dom whispered against Billy's mouth.
"Yup," Billy murmured. "We'll have time to have that coffee with Miranda while she naps."
"Do you know what she wants to talk to us about?" Dom asked softly as he followed Billy into the house, closing the door quietly behind them.
"Not really. She just said she wanted to talk to both of us before she went home," Billy answered distractedly, lacing the fingers of his free hand with Dom's as they walked through the house. Dom gnawed on his bottom lip, unable to suppress a shard of concern as he thought about Miranda's quiet request.
Over the last few months, Miranda had become a regular visitor to the old ranch house. A little less than a week after David had suggested the trial adoption to her, Miranda had arrived with the little girl, and all of the baby things that she had collected while caring for David's Angel. It hadn't taken very long for Miranda to become as close to Billy and Dom as she was to her almost brother David. Regular visits and phone calls that became even more frequent soon altered their acquaintance from casual to close friends rapidly. One golden afternoon, Billy had been working in the stables, and Miranda and Dom had been sitting under a tree, watching Daisy-May gurgling on a blanket between them while Miranda explained how she fit into their extended family.
Orphaned just after she finished high school, Miranda had gone searching for the brother her step-father had spoken of on rare occasions. It had taken more than a year, but Miranda had eventually found David in Scotland, with his own pair of half-brothers. Writing David a letter, explaining who she was to him, Miranda had waited patiently to receive a reply. From there, they had become penpals of sorts, until Miranda's wedding day, and David had appeared on her doorstep. Their friendship hadn't waned since then, both of them regarding the other as true siblings, even if technically, they weren't.
David had been on hand to play proud uncle when both of Miranda's children were born, and even while David was 'in-country' as he called it, barely a week passed without a phone call or a letter. Now that they lived closer, and with the introduction of Daisy-May, their contact had become even more regular. In fact, Miranda's visits to check on the new family were as much about Miranda spending time with her 'brother' as they were with her checking on Daisy-May. Miranda had been honored when David had turned up on her doorstep and asked her to look after his tiny refugee, and had quietly hoped that David would keep the little girl and lavish his love on her.
Fingers tracing Daisy-May's little fingers, Miranda had sat in the dappled sunlight and told Dom how she had been alone, apart from David, since she was nineteen. She could see David becoming more solitary every day, and wanted nothing more than for him to be as happy as she herself was. Perhaps now that David had seen for himself that love was possible, and saw how happy, content and in love that Dom and Billy were, maybe he'd allow himself to love. She had thought that Daisy-May would be the answer, but watching the little girl flourish and grow under Billy and Dom's care, Miranda realized that the baby had found her own family.
Congratulating Dom on the progress Daisy-May had made since they had taken custody of her, Miranda had commented wistfully on the obvious love and devotion that Dom and Billy shared.
Moving straight into their daughter's nursery, Billy laid the baby gently on the soft pink sheets. Leaning over the golden, pine bars of the crib, Billy's finger smoothed the skin of Daisy-May's cheek as she grumbled in her sleep. As soon as she settled, Billy tucked the soft blanket around her. Kissing the tips of his fingers, Billy pressed them to Daisy-May's forehead gently. Dom slid his arms around Billy's waist, his head resting on Billy's shoulder as he watched Billy's tender touch soothe their precious girl.
"She's put on weight, hasn't she?" Dom asked, watching Billy's loving devotion to Daisy-May.
"A little bit, but not nearly enough," Billy replied. "She will, because she knows she's home now, and she's happy." His fingers stroked the curve of Daisy-May's diaper-clad hip, reluctant to remove his touch.
"The rest will come." Dom's confident reply was little more than a whisper as he kissed the side of Billy's neck. "She just needed someone to love her."
"And a name all of her own." Billy sighed, tilting his head to give Dom's mouth better access to his throat.
"I'll never forget the look on David's face when we told him," Dom murmured, lifting his head from Billy's shoulder as they both heard gentle knocking at the front door.
Billy turned in Dom's arms and kissed him hungrily. "Does this mean we don't get to have lunch in bed?"
"Guess so, Romeo." Dom smiled as he pulled out of Billy's embrace, extending a hand to him. "Randy wanted to talk to us together, but if you're a good boy, you might get a surprise tonight."
Snagging a baby monitor from the table beside the door, Dom pushed it into his back pocket, before they walked quietly out of the room and closed the door carefully behind them.
Moving through the house, Dom opened the door to their guest, smiling as he embraced her tightly.
"How are my favorite boys?" Miranda asked with a smile, pulling Billy into a close hug.
"I thought that was David's spot," Billy replied as he grinned.
"Sometimes," Miranda nodded. "But you two are so cute, you just kill me."
"Cute?" Billy frowned. "We're adults, Randy."
"Oh just shut up," Miranda admonished. "You're so in love, and happy and adorable. You can't help it you radiate cute."
"That's my big tough Ramrod." Dom said with a grin before walking into the kitchen to pour the coffee he'd made a few minutes ago.
"What did you want to see us about, Randy?" Billy asked quickly, more than happy to steer the conversation away from any thought of his apparent cuteness.
"Stop changing the subject, Bills," Dom called jovially from the kitchen.
"I'll withhold privileges," Billy threatened mockingly.
"You couldn't even if you wanted to," Dom called.
"Watch me," Billy replied, laughing.
"Always." Dom smiled as he returned, carrying a tray with three steaming coffee mugs and a plate of cookies.
Billy let his loving gaze trail over Dom's lithe body for several moments before he belatedly remembered Miranda's presence and looked into her amused face. "Not a word," he warned, wagging his finger at her.
"Wouldn't dream of it," Miranda stated, nodding her head seriously, quite obviously struggling to withhold a broad grin as she accepted her coffee.
"I'm never going to live this down, am I?" Billy sighed, accepting a coffee mug from Dom before Dom slipped the baby monitor from his pocket and placed it on the coffee table. Holding his own mug in his hands, he snuggled into the space beside his lover on the two-seater sofa.
"Nope, but your secret is safe with me," Miranda replied and then laughed.
"So, what do you want to see us about?" Dom asked.
"I've got a proposition for you. I don't know if you're interested, but I thought I'd mention it."
"Proposition?" Billy's eyes narrowed suspiciously.
"I've watched you two with Daisy-May," Miranda began. "That was a lovely thing you did by the way, naming her for David. It meant a lot to him."
"He gave us our daughter, made us a family. It's the least we could do," Dom said with a shrug.
Shifting in their seat, both he and Billy leaned forward to listen to Miranda.
"How long have you been a family now?" Miranda asked softly.
"We've had Daisy-May full time for almost three months now. You should know that, Randy. You’ve been here once, sometimes twice every single week," Billy answered, his eyes narrowing. "Why?"
"Everything's okay?" she enquired.
"Couldn't be more perfect," Dom supplied. "She's even started to sleep in her own room."
"That's great, Dom." Miranda smiled warmly at him. She was aware of Daisy-May's sleep and contact issues. With two children of her own, Miranda hadn't had the time she had wanted to devote to David's little refugee. She had, however, seen the changes in Daisy-May after each visit with Billy, and later, Dom as well. Without a doubt in her mind, Miranda knew that it was right for the three of them to be together. For Daisy-May to sleep on her own, in a different room, was testimony to the love and devotion the two men had showered upon the tiny child.
"This isn't just about polite conversation, is it, Randy?" Billy asked nervously.
"I needed to know before I talk to you about my proposition," Miranda explained, tucking her long blonde hair behind her ears distractedly.
"They can't take her away from us," Billy stated vehemently, his face paling at the thought.
"We won't let them," Dom added a second later, his hand moving to clasp Billy's tightly.
"I'm sorry, I'm doing this badly." Miranda sighed. "That's not what I meant at all. Nobody wants to take her away." Inhaling deeply, Miranda and then looked from one man to the other slowly. "Have you thought about more children?"
"Of course," Billy replied as he nodded, his shoulders relaxing visibly. "But we're hardly able to do it ourselves, nor are we ideal candidates for adoption."
"We're happy that we have Daisy-May to love," Dom added quickly.
"What if you could have your own children?" Miranda asked quietly.
"Last time I checked, Randy," Billy said dryly, "It was a moot point. Neither of us has a womb."
"No," Miranda agreed, watching their faces closely, a small smile on her face. "But I do."
"What does…" Billy began, as the true meaning of Miranda's words filtered through his mind.
"Are you serious?" Dom yelped in understanding.
"Absolutely," Miranda replied, nodding firmly.
"You could have a child of your own. Or two if it all works out well the first time," Miranda added, then shrugged.
"Why would you do this?" Billy murmured, his clammy fingers laced tightly through Dom's.
"Because I love you. Both of you." Nodding, she looked into Dom's glistening eyes. "Because I've seen you with Daisy-May. More importantly I've seen Daisy-May with you." Pausing, Miranda turned her sparkling eyes to Billy. "You make her feel safe, loved, and special. All children should feel that way, and you shouldn't be denied a full and happy family, just because you happened to fall in love with a man." Miranda paused again to draw in a deep breath. "Because I have the means to give you children of your own, and I know that those children will be loved and adored and protected all of their lives."
"You would do that for us?" Dom asked, large tears releasing their hold on his lashes.
"Without a moment's hesitation," Miranda said firmly and then nodded as she watched Billy's arm slide around Dom's waist to pull him close.
"We couldn't ask you to do that, Randy," Billy protested, his voice thick with the tears that were choking him. "That's too generous a gift. We couldn't accept it, no matter how much we want it."
"Do you want your own babies?" Miranda asked plainly, moving to kneel on the floor in front of them, a hand on each man's knee.
"Of course we do, but we can't ask for such a huge sacrifice, especially from such a good friend," Billy answered for them both, Dom's head nodding as he pressed their joined fingers to his mouth.
"The sacrifice doesn't exist. I want to do this for you. I need to do this for you. I have my own family. I want you two to be as happy as I am. I want you to have the family you deserve. You have such a beautiful love, please let me help you have babies," Miranda replied calmly. "You know you want more babies. I see the way you both dote on your little girl. Please don't just think about yourselves, or even about me. Think about her. Let Daisy-May have siblings."
"How would we do it?" Billy asked softly as he turned Dom's face to his, his thumbs tenderly wiping tears from Dom's cheeks.
"We don't have to think about specifics now," Miranda said quietly. "I just wanted you to know that I want to do this for you. We'll work it out," she murmured. "I'll go now. Think about it boys. Please?" Rubbing their thighs affectionately for a moment, Miranda then stood up. "I'll let myself out. Call me, and we'll talk about it," she added as she walked out.
Billy was barely even aware of Miranda leaving, his eyes fixed on Dom's tear filled gaze.
"Dommie," Billy whispered, his voice cracking. "Our own baby."
"I know." Dom nodded, tears trickling down his cheeks again. "I'm dreaming, aren't I?"
"Don't think so." Billy replied with a smile. "Or we're having the same dream."
"I'll get the little ginger haired boy to protect his big sister that I've dreamt about," Dom mused aloud.
"I was thinking maybe a little girl with gray-blue eyes and blonde ponytails that I've dreamt about," Billy countered tenderly.
"It should be your baby," Dom told Billy as he nodded, one hand cupping Billy's face tenderly.
"We don't need to talk about it today, Dommie," Billy murmured, leaning in to kiss the younger man, silencing his words.
One hand sliding across the rumpled sheets, Dom wasn't all that surprised to find cold linen under his fingertips. Eyes flickering open, Dom glanced at the glowing, green numerals on the face of their alarm clock.
Fleetingly, Dom wondered if it was only half a devil that had pulled Billy from their bed. Again. This was the third night in succession that Billy had slipped out of bed. Always in the cold, dead of night, the silent time between night and daybreak, when the crisp night was at its darkest, and long before it morphed into the day that stole the darkness away. Scratching his fingers through tousled bed hair, Dom swung his bare legs over the edge of the mattress and slipped on a loose-fitting pair of pajama bottoms.
Padding through the silent rooms of their home, Dom's first stop was their daughter's room, because he has grown accustomed to finding Billy in the rocking chair Viggo had carved for them as a gift. Something was bothering his Billy, but as yet, Billy wouldn't or couldn't talk about it. Worry was starting to eat at the edges of his lover, Dom watching silently as Billy sank further into the grasp of the ghosts that were chasing him. In Dom's mind, it was only a matter of time before the ghosts caught Billy. Entering Daisy-May's room quietly, Dom was surprised to see that tonight, it was empty.
Frowning, Dom wandered down the corridor, and that was when he heard it. Billy's husky, sleepy voice crooned gently to their daughter, offering them both peace from their demons. Standing just inside the screen door, Dom watched his family with tear-filled eyes, knowing something was wrong, but unable to help his lover.
Billy sat on the porch swing, clad only in his pajama bottoms, Daisy-May cradled against his shoulder, sound asleep as Billy's hand slowly stroked her back. Their only illumination was the light of the almost full moon, but even in the dim, silvery light, Dom could see the glistening tracks of fresh tears on Billy's cheeks. Drawing a deep breath, Dom's smile was forced as he pushed the screen door open.
"Bay City Rollers, Bills?" Dom murmured softly, as if finding Billy alone with their daughter, on the front? porch, was a regular occurrence.
"Daisy-May liked it," Billy answered quickly, his free hand brushing his cheeks surreptitiously.
"That's because she wasn't here when they happened." Dom smiled as he sat down beside Billy on the swing. "She'll learn." Pausing, Dom reached over to clasp his hand over Billy's knee. "All she knows is her favorite Daddy was singing to her."
"She loves us both, Honey," Billy assured Dom quickly. They both knew that their little girl shared a close bond with Billy, that sometimes it was only Billy's touch that could sooth her, but she did love both of them.
"I know that, you silly git," Dom replied good naturedly. "But you're the one that taught her what love is." He leaned in to press a soft kiss to Billy's cheek. "You taught us both. That makes you special, to both of us."
The only response to Dom's words was silence. Billy's eyelids lowered slowly as Dom watched Billy's desperate struggle to maintain his composure, then they opened again to gaze out across the dark fields.
"Are you going to tell me what's wrong, Billy?" Dom asked, his voice deceptively quiet.
"Nothing," Billy answered with a slight shrug.
"That would be crap, Ramrod. Want to give that one more try?" Dom leaned back and slid one long arm around Billy's shoulder.
"It's the truth," Billy murmured.
"That's why for the last three nights now, you've woken in a cold sweat, your heart racing, and tears wet on your cheeks." Pausing, Dom's voice softened the accusatory tone. "Don't lie to me, Bills. You're part of me, and if it hurts you, it's hurting me."
"It's just dreams, Honey." Billy sighed, lifting one hand to cup Dom's face, his thumb caressing Dom's cheek tenderly.
"I picked that much up already, Billy. Tell me, and I can help. Talking about bad dreams always makes them better."
Billy shook his head. "They'll pass, Honey. These ones always do. Chalk it up to the delusions of a broken, old soldier."
"And until then, you have to lose sleep and feel like shite all on your own?" Dom asked quietly.
Pulling himself to his feet without jostling the baby, Billy extended a hand to Dom. "I didn't mean to wake you, Honey." Billy sighed again. "That's why I don't stay in bed, why I came out here tonight."
"You didn't wake me," Dom murmured. "I woke up all on my own. When I couldn't find you, I was worried."
"You don't need to worry about me," Billy said flatly.
"Little do you know," Dom replied and then smiled as he stood and wrapped long arms around Billy's waist. "It's you I have to worry about the most."
Releasing Billy, Dom laced their fingers together and led Billy back into the house. When Billy paused at Daisy-May's bedroom door, Dom spoke softly. "I think she should stay with us tonight."
Nodding in agreement, Billy tightened his hold on their daughter, and meekly followed Dom through the house to their moonlit bedroom.
Holding their rumpled comforter back, Dom waited for Billy to slide in, following him closely.
Watching as Billy settled with their sleeping cherub draped over his chest, Dom cuddled into his lover. Fitting his warm, pliant body along Billy's side, his head fitting into the curve of Billy's shoulder, one of Dom's long arms wrapped around Billy's waist, doing all that he knew, to ease Billy's concerns.
Listening to Billy's heart rate slow, his fingers tracing gentle circles across Billy's hip, Dom spoke softly, "You can sleep now darling, whatever it is, we'll keep you safe."
Laying on his side, Dom watched Billy as he slept. Violet shadows curved just under Billy's eyes, and even in his sleep, one small hand rubbed Daisy-May's back soothingly.
Decision made, Dom slipped silently out of bed. Tucking the comforter around Billy, Dom tenderly smoothed Daisy-May's curls back from her tiny face with gentle fingers. Changing quietly into soft yoga pants and a short-sleeved white t-shirt, Dom left the bedroom quietly.
Walking along the grassy path between the two ranch houses, Dom scanned the buildings carefully. Seeing his quarry outside the kitchen door, he smiled widely.
"Early for you isn't it, Dominic?" David asked quietly, one sardonic eyebrow raised in question. "Or is the honeymoon already over?"
"Wanker." Dom laughed, hugging David in greeting. "We haven't even had the honeymoon yet."
"Aren't you usually otherwise occupied at this time of day?" David asked and then grinned. "Or maybe the problem is you've worn my brother out. Already."
"No," Dom sighed. "Although that is what I wanted to talk to you about."
"Do I really want to have this conversation with you?" David inquired as he blushed lightly. "What you two do in the bedroom is your business."
"It's got nothing to do with our sex life, Daisy," Dom muttered, his cheeks crimson. "Trust me, we don't need any help there. I want to know about Billy's past."
"It's not my story, Dom." David stood straight as he answered, hands on his hips, eyes narrowed suspiciously. "Ask him, he'll tell you anything you want to know."
"No, he won't," Dom stated flatly.
"If it was important, Dom, he'd tell you himself," David replied, shrugging apologetically, but watching Dom closely.
"It's important enough to cause him to wake up in a cold sweat," Dom said earnestly. "Important enough for him to cling to Daisy-May like a drowning man to a life preserver, even when he sleeps."
"Have you asked him?" David inquired softly, reaching out to clasp Dom's shoulder firmly in support.
"Sure, and apparently I don't need to worry about him," Dom growled in reply.
"Then trust him to know himself, Dom," David soothed.
"Something is eating him from the inside out, Daisy," Dom pleaded. "I need to help him. He's my Billy. What if it's something I'm doing? If I have to beg, I will, just please help me understand why he's hurting."
David glanced up to the verandah of the bunkhouse, seeing the ranch hands beginning their morning. Listening to Liv start the breakfast preparations in the kitchen behind them, David gestured for Dom to walk with him as they spoke. Walking slowly towards the old barn, David asked quietly, "What do you need to know?"
Dom sighed. "I don't know, because I have no idea what's bothering him." He shrugged. "He's told me about the bastard that broke his heart. That's about it."
"You really have no clue what it is that is worrying him?" David murmured, watching Dom closely.
"No, he was fine until the weekend, actually," Dom replied and then paused. "Since Miranda visited, he's been sleeping badly."
"What has he told you about his past?" David asked as they slowly walked side by side.
"Not much. The only time Billy volunteered anything at all was about the wanker that hurt him," Dom answered with a quick shrug. "Aside from that, I know he has you and Craig, and he was in the army."
"You've had quite the encapsulated story, haven't you?" David stated, smiling wryly.
"None of it tells me what's upsetting him," Dom grumbled.
As they entered the barn, David gestured towards a stack of neatly ordered hay bales, silently encouraging Dom to take a seat.
"You're part of the family now, I guess it's time someone lets you know what you've got yourself into."
"That sounds like you're trying to scare me, Daisy," Dom retorted as he settled on the hay.
"Not deliberately, but maybe you should be," David said with a shrug.
"I'll take my chances." Dom smiled warily. "Where do we start?"
"The beginning, I guess," David replied. Pausing, he growled an expletive under his breath and looked up at Dom. "Pip should be telling you this himself."
"You and I both know that will never happen," Dom told the older man knowingly.
Nodding, David replied slowly. "Since I was five years old, Pip has been the closest thing I've ever had to a father."
"But he couldn't have been more than six years old himself," Dom murmured.
"Pretty much," David said, nodding in agreement. "Billy is special, always has been." Pausing, David searched for the right words to explain his feelings for his brother. "He's an old soul, Dom." Obviously reliving the less than happy memories, he began to pace in front of Dom. "As soon as he was old enough to understand what Craig and I needed, he did his damnedest to give it to us."
"Why?" Dom asked, his face pressed into a tight frown. "What happened to your father?"
"Our mother was in love with love. She'd had six husbands by the time she died. I think only one of them lasted more than a year. Her kids were born in three separate countries, and we'd lived in another two before Billy convinced her to go back to Scotland." David sat on the hay bale beside Dom as he counted his mother's husbands off on his fingers. "Pip's Dad died, lung cancer I think, just before Pip was born. Mine stayed for three months after I arrived. Just long enough to knock up his girlfriend and leave with her. Craig's never stayed past the night Mama told him she was pregnant. After that, they didn't stay long. Apparently no man wants to raise another man's sons. Maybe if Pip's dad hadn't died, things would have been different, but who knows."
"I'm sorry, Daisy." Dom reached out to touch David's arm as he spoke.
"It's okay, we were happy. Billy saw to that," David murmured, a reminiscent smile curving his lips. "As he got older, he'd look after Mama, too. Towards the end, she was going to him for advice. Truth is, he'd been running our house, cooking, cleaning, budgeting, Hell, basically raising us, since he was around twelve."
They fell into silence, both men thinking about Billy, and how the past had shaped the man they both loved.
"It can't have been easy for him, but he never complained. Not once," David stated finally, breaking the contemplative silence that had fallen over them.
"What happened when your mother died?" Dom asked softly.
"Billy was seventeen, I was almost sixteen, and Craig was just fourteen. Billy moved heaven and earth to keep us together. Mama had a life insurance policy, so thank God, money wasn't an issue. We could all stay in school, but Billy fought hard for us to stay a family, to be educated, and be happy."
"Did Billy finish his degree?" Dom probed gently, turning David's thoughts away from his childhood.
"No," David answered. "I'm the only one that finished. Billy never went back, and Craig went straight into the army." David sighed as he stood and began his pacing again. "College was a debacle for Billy," David said, shaking his head. "I often wondered if it was our fault. He'd always been looking after us, didn't leave himself any time for him. If I'd picked up the slack more at home, if I'd thought enough to take some of the load from him, maybe he would've had time to date. Maybe then he wouldn't have fallen so hard for the first guy that paid him any attention."
"You don't know that," Dom interjected.
"No, you're right. I don't. But I would have moved Heaven and earth to save him the years of pain he suffered."
"He's healing, Daisy," Dom replied confidently.
"Thanks to you." David shrugged. "He's needed you his entire life."
"I'm here now," Dom stated firmly. "And I'm not going anywhere. What happened after the Professor?"
"He was about twenty, give or take, I think, when he enlisted." David sighed and then leaned back onto the hay bale behind him. "He was a damn good soldier, and it wasn't long before he was in special forces, but he hated the inactivity. He hated having his hands tied by international protocol. When the opportunity arose to join Cate's boys, Billy grabbed it with both hands."
"Cate's boys?" Dom asked, curiosity getting the better of him.
"Basically, they're mercenaries. She's got friends in high places. Really high places. Cate has a team of men who fix things that need fixing for those friends. She only seeks out the best, and she went looking for Billy." David smiled reminiscently. "She's almost like a big sister now. Billy worked for her for a long time, and he convinced her to take Craig and I on, too."
"You all worked for her?" Dom queried.
"Yeah, Billy would never admit it, but he wanted us where he could keep us safe, and have his family together again," David answered honestly.
"Because that's what Billy does." Dom nodded, long eyelashes damp as he thought about his lover.
"Are you sure you want to know the rest, Dom?" David asked softly. Elbows resting on his knees, he turned his face towards Dom, watching him carefully.
"I don't expect you to understand, Daisy," Dom replied. "But I need to know. I want to help Billy, but I can't do that if I don't understand what's bothering him."
"During the last two years that Billy was working for Cate, he was miserable. I could see it in his face every time we went on a mission. He only stayed because Craig and I were there, and apart from that, he'd never known anything else." David paused, his hands covering his face for a moment as he relived the painful memories. "I knew something was wrong, but I couldn't fix it. I'd find him, sitting alone in the darkness. We'd talk, long into the night. We both knew it was killing him, piece by tiny piece, but he wouldn't leave us and he'd die before he'd leave the people we were trying to help. Cate tried to intervene. She kept him on a mission by mission basis, because she knew he was walking a fine line, and didn't want to push him." David turned his face to look at Dom, his eyes glistening as he spoke of his brother's suffering. "As long as Billy was with us, we all thought he would be okay. That was our biggest mistake. I was meant to be a hard, mean bastard, but Billy never was. He's as tender as you are, he just learned to hide it better than both of us."
"You're as soft as he is," Dom murmured softly. "You know it as well as I do."
"Maybe, but he's the one that's still hurting," David stated flatly.
"Is Craig still working with Cate?" Dom inquired gently as he reached out to touch David's knee and redirect the subject.
"Yeah. Billy wants him out. It kills him that he's not there to protect his baby brother."
"Billy's like a mama cat when he loves," Dom murmured wistfully, remembering the way that Billy had coaxed him from behind the wall he had lived behind for so long.
"You know, you're a lot like Craig. In fact, I don't know why I didn't see it earlier. You've both got the same, delicate soul, wrapped around a backbone of steele," David commented with a smile. "I knew you felt like a brother for a reason." Reaching over, David ruffled Dom's tousled hair.
"If he wanted to stay and look after you, why did he leave?" Dom asked, his curiosity getting the better of him.
"We'd been tracking insurgents for more than a week through the humid jungle, in heat that felt like we were melting, it was horrendous. Their leader was a cruel, inhumane bastard that didn't care what he had to do to get what he wanted. We were always one step behind. We found village after village annihilated, so many people killed, for being in the wrong place at the wrong time. So many innocents. That was what drove us. All of us. We had to get the people who had been doing the unspeakable things we had seen.” David’s voice was flat, the pain he had endured and watched overwhelming him. “In the end, it was easy. Billy had a feeling, and we always trusted Billy's intuition. We doubled back the other way, and caught the bastards trying to flank us. I'll never forget the look in Billy's eyes. In my entire life I had never seen Billy so cold, so angry, and so determined."
"Billy killed him, didn't he?" Dom asked, fairly confident as to the answer.
"He had no choice, but yeah. I'm not sure even if there had been a choice that Billy would have seen it," David replied with a shrug. "To get to a secure location for an airlift, it was quicker for us to go forward rather than back, that's when we found it." David leaned forward, head in his hands, his mind's eye filled with the images he had seen that day.
Dom slid to his knees in front of David, one trembling hand resting on David's knee. "Found what, Daisy?"
"Another village. They were all dead. Men, women, young and old, children, babies, pets. They had snuffed out everything that was alive and good in that village." David lifted his head, eyes glazed with tearful memories.
"Why?" Dom gasped.
"Because they could. Maybe it was because their chief wouldn't pay insurance, maybe it was because they were the unlucky ones in the wrong place at the wrong time. Who knows. It was fucking horrible. Bodies scattered where they had fallen, the stench of blood and death in the air," David continued flatly. "Part of Billy died that day. He wouldn't leave the village until we had buried every last one of the villagers. It wasn't the first time he had seen that sort of thing, but it was the last straw for him."
"And for you?" Dom whispered, his hand stroking David's knee soothingly.
"We all deal in different ways, Dom," David answered. "You know that better than most. Craig is more expressive with his feelings. I have to save things. Billy, well, Billy shut down, emotionally, swore he'd never bring children into a world where things he had seen could happen in. And until you showed up, that was the last time I saw my brother show any kind of emotion."
"I'm sorry that you all had to go through that, because nobody should have to see what you have seen." Hating what the world had put these brave men through, tears trickled down Dom's cheeks.
Sighing heavily, David reached out and wiped Dom's tears away with his thumb. "I didn't tell you this to upset you, Dom."
"I know," Dom answered, and then drew a deep, steadying breath. "What happened after that?"
"We were airlifted out, but the whole trip back, Billy never said anything else to any of us. To my knowledge, apart from Cate's de-briefing, he hasn't spoken about it to another person. When we got back to base, he spent a long time in Cate's office. The next morning, I found a note tacked my door, and Billy was gone. It didn't say anything other than sorry, I can't do this anymore, look after Craig for me. That was it. We didn't hear from him for months, he just disappeared," David explained.
"He must have been so hurt, to leave you both like that," Dom murmured.
"He'd been the strong one for years, but, every one has their breaking point, and that village was Billy's," David agreed.
"Is that when he found the Double L?" Dom asked.
"Yeah." David nodded. "On one of his first missions, Billy's team liberated a UN humanitarian group. Viggo was part of it, and he'd been badly injured. Being the newbie, Billy was left on babysitting detail. It was the best thing they could have done with him. Apparently, Pip and Vig spent hours while they were waiting for evac, talking. They discovered they had a mutual love of Tolkien books, action movies and archaeology, among other things."
Dom quirked his head to the side in confusion as he spoke. "Viggo was with the UN?"
"So I've heard. Don't know for sure, because that was before I signed up. Viggo had given Billy his address, told Billy to look him up when he was back stateside. When Billy got here, Viggo wasn't. He and his father apparently had had a falling out."
Nodding in understanding, Dom quietly added, "Billy said that Viggo's father was a drunk."
"The old man mistook Billy for a buyer. Billy had plenty of money, was in a world of hurt, and looking for a home. He bought in, and when the old man drank himself to death less than six months later, Billy tracked Viggo down, and their partnership was formed."
"And the ranch became home for both of them," Dom stated in understanding. "Where did the Double L's name come from?"
"Courtesy of their Tolkien love, Viggo and Billy renamed the place Lothlorien, which immediately became the Double L for branding purposes, and you know the rest."
"Nobody is going to hurt him again, David," Dom vowed quietly.
"I know that." David shrugged. "Just like I know that you needed to be told this, so you can fix him."
"Why didn't he want me to know?" Dom murmured to himself as he stood. Moving over to the barn door, Dom's eyes fixed on the old ranch house. "There's no shame in anything he did."
"You're everything that's sunshine and happiness in his life, Dom," David replied, walking over to stand next to the smaller man. "He didn't want you to see his darkness."
"I'm not the hothouse flower he thinks I am," Dom retorted with a soft sigh.
"He knows that." David smiled wryly at Dom's frustration. "But it's in his nature to protect those he loves. You're so much like Craig, he would have been drawn to you even if he wasn't attracted to you. He's just trying to protect you from himself. It's up to you to show him that you won't break."
"How do I do that?" Dom frowned, turning to face David.
"Fucked if I know," David said with a shrug. "But persevere; you're the best thing that's ever happened to him."
"Thanks," Dom said shyly as he blushed deeply. Pulling David into a tight embrace, he hugged the cowboy warmly. "We just have to find someone for you now."
"That's typical," David chuckled as he rolled his eyes, releasing Dom. "Lovers. Just because they're happy and in love, they have to try to infect everyone else."
"Can it, Daisy. You know you love it."
Dom laughed as he walked out of the barn.
Meeting his lover in the dining room of the main house, Dom's fingers traced the dark shadows under Billy's eyes, he desperately wanted to say something to Billy, to somehow ease his torment but he couldn’t. Kissing Billy gently in greeting, Dom took Daisy-May from Billy's arms, snuggling her affectionately as he hugged Billy with his free arm.
Now, knowing and understanding the pain Billy was feeling, Dom couldn't help but think about the horrors Billy had seen. How those experiences had shaped Billy as a man, as a lover, and now as a father. Distracted and unable to hide the feelings coursing through him, Dom couldn't stop touching his gentle lover. Dom's caressing fingers barely left Billy's hand, arm, and thigh, his touch soothing himself more than anything else.
Unsure of his ability to speak coherently to Billy, either about the nightmares or his own concerns, especially before he had time to process them, Dom did the only thing he could. Making excuses to Billy, begging out of their daily lunch date, Dom took Daisy-May on a mission, exploring the grassy expanses of the home yards, introducing the tiny cherub to the insect life that surrounded them. Talking to Daisy-May, the insects they found, and sometimes even the sky about the troubling thoughts that were coursing through his mind, Dom slowly absorbed David's revelations, eventually making a decision.
As day faded into night, they dined as was normal in the main house, with their extended family and the ranch hands. After dinner, Daisy-May and Milo played together in a large play crib in the corner of the kitchen while Viggo, Billy and David discussed ranch business over coffee. Liv and Dom restored the kitchen to it's normally pristine condition, and prepared for the approach of their early breakfast, talking all the while about their families, their kids and the ongoing excavations at Arwen Canyon.
Ranch business completed for the night, the group separated, retreating to their own houses. Bathing their daughter together, dressing her for bedtime, Billy and Dom retired to the comfortable sofa in their living room, gentle guitar music wafting from the stereo speakers, relaxing all three of them. Curling into Billy's side, Dom's head rested on Billy's shoulder as Billy's warm, strong arm wrapped around him. Silently, they watched their daughter slowly fall asleep where she lay in Billy's lap, his small hand rubbing her belly soothingly as she drifted off.
So many times, Dom opened his mouth to tell Billy he knew about his past, but hearing Billy's voice, softly singing lullabies to their daughter, and feeling Billy's body relaxed and content against his own, Dom couldn't bring himself to steal that from his lover. Not when he had so little peace in his life already.
Hours later, waking to cold sheets and empty arms once again, Dom padded through the house silently, searching for his tormented lover, long fingers scrubbing through his hair, and a soundless yawn bubbling from his lips. Hearing the soft, accented voice crooning to Daisy-May, Dom smiled sadly as he stepped through the door and onto the moonlit porch.
"Go back to bed, Honey," Billy said in the same, crooning voice he sang with.
"No can do." Dom smiled as he sank onto the swing beside Billy. "A gorgeous man moved into my bed a few months ago, and now I can't sleep without him."
"I'm sorry, Honey," Billy murmured. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"I know, Bills." Reaching over and brushing the tip of his finger across Daisy-May's cheek, Dom smiled as she snuggled deeper into Billy's chest in her sleep. "I think we should put her to bed, I need to talk to you."
Frowning, Billy watched as Dom stood and extended a long fingered hand to him. "I don't want to talk about it, Dommie."
"Let's put Sugarplum to bed," Dom repeated softly. "Then we'll talk."
Minutes later, Daisy-May was tucked into her crib, and Dom led Billy to their bedroom. Watching as Billy settled onto the edge of the mattress, his eyes following Dom warily, Dom paced nervously, still unsure of exactly what to say.
"I'm serious, Dom. I don't want to talk about it." Billy paused, his accent thick as his voice caught on the knot of emotion in his throat. "I can't Honey. Please?"
"I don't want you to talk about it, Bills," Dom replied softly, moving to kneel at Billy's feet. "I know."
Realizing that Dom knew the details of his dark past, Billy swore under his breath, his whole body tensing. "David had no right to say anything," he growled.
"Why not, Billy?" Dom asked, rising lithely to his feet, pacing away from his lover and returning to stand in front of him again, one hand reaching out to touch his tousled, ginger hair. "Yes, I went to David, because it tears me up to see you in pain. You were hurting, and you wouldn't tell me what was going on. I had to go to him, I had to find out what was tearing you up inside. I thought maybe it was me, maybe I'd done something. I had to do something, Billy." Slowly, Dom sank to his knees in front of Billy. "I can't stand seeing you like this."
"That's why I've never told you, Dommie. I didn't want to hurt you. You're my sunshine and light, Honey." Billy closed his eyes briefly, trying desperately to push the images of death and destruction from his mind. "The darkness I saw, the unspeakable things that I did, can only hurt you, and I'd die before I'd let anything, even me, hurt you."
Pushing his torso between Billy's knees, Dom pressed closer so he could wrap his long arms around Billy's waist, hugging him tightly as he spoke. "I'm going to call Miranda and tell her we appreciate it, but we can't take her up on her offer," Dom murmured, his face pressed against Billy's chest. "I won't let you suffer like this."
Billy pulled back from Dom's arms, cupping his tear-wet face in his hands. "What are you talking about, Honey?"
"Daisy-May is all that we need, You are more than I ever expected. I love you, Billy. You're all that I have ever needed." Dom closed his eyes briefly, blinking his tears away. "Just to know that you're happy and love me." Dom shrugged. "That's all I need."
"You want a baby of your own, Honey," Billy replied with a sigh. "Randy can give you that."
"I want you, Billy. I. Love. you." Dom stated, looking deep into Billy's eyes as he formed each word. "I won't break you, I need you. You're my world, my life, my rock. I don't need children to make my life complete. You made my life complete all those months ago when you kissed me the first time. Yes, it's cliché and corny, but its true. You made me whole. You completed me, and I don't need anything else. Just you, and I don't know how else to say it."
"You really mean that, don't you?" Billy asked with shining eyes.
"I'm not that fucking asshole that hurt you before, Billy. I'm me. I'm your Honey. Of course I mean it." Dom sighed softly, his fingers tracing Billy's face tenderly. "I don't know how else to prove it to you, Billy. I'm nothing without you. I want to be with you forever."
"Don't ever say that you're nothing, Honey," Billy growled. "You're a beautiful, talented, loving man. You're more amazing than even I thought you could be."
"Maybe," Dom acquiesced as he nodded. "But before I met you, I was a ghost. I was alive, but I wasn't living. You showed me what life could be, you showed me what it is to love and be loved. You taught me that I could be everything I ever wanted to be, have everything I ever wanted. You. You're all I ever wanted, but was afraid to dream of."
Hot tears trickled from Billy's glistening green eyes. "I don't know what I did to deserve your love. I don't know why you would love a broken down old fool, but everyday I thank God that you found me."
"You're wrong, Bills, Dom corrected. "I'm the one who should be thankful. You've given me so much that I never thought I'd have."
"I want you to go ahead with Miranda's proposition," Billy murmured, pulling Dom up to sit on the edge of the bed beside him.
"We're good, Billy." Dom smiled, cupping Billy's face, thumb tracing Billy's cheekbone. "You, me, and Daisy-May. We're a good family, we'll be fine."
"No." Billy shook his head in protest. "I want you to have your own baby, Dom. I'll be okay, I'll deal with it."
"I don't want you to deal with it." Dom shook his head. "I want you to love it as much as you love me. I want you to be happy to have a child, not just have it because you know I want one."
"I'm scared, Honey," Billy almost sobbed. "I couldn't save children I went to save, how can I expect to keep a sweet, innocent baby safe?"
"If we were to do have a baby, Billy, it would be as safe as it could be. We have a different culture here," Dom said calmly trying to soothe his lover's fears. "Because this baby, it will have us both. Between us, we'll be able to keep it safe."
"I saw so many babies killed, maimed, or thrown away like yesterday's garbage." Billy drew a deep breath, trying to pull his thoughts away from the memories that were tearing him apart. "It didn't matter how much they were loved, I couldn't save them." Looking up into Dom's face, he spoke flatly. "I couldn't save any of them, Dom. How can I expect to keep my own safe? I can't lose one of my own, Honey. I can't."
"I can't promise you that you won't, Billy. Nobody can, but I can promise you that our baby would be as safe as we can make them. They'd have us, and they'd have Daisy and Liv and Viggo. They'd have the best family a child could want. They'd have the Double L. It would be their playground, and their haven. I can't promise you that things won't go wrong, but I can promise you that they'll be as safe as they can humanly be."
"I know I'm being completely unreasonable." Billy sighed, one hand rubbing his face, trying to collect his scattered thoughts. "I want you to have a baby, Dom. I want to be happy that we're making a family and believe me," Billy pressed a hand across his heart. "In here, I am happy, truly." Taking a deep breath, Billy paused. "But it's hard to forget, Dom. I'm trying. Believe me I'm trying. It'll take me time, but for you, I'm trying."
"That's why I'm going to tell Miranda thanks, but no thanks."
"Why?" Billy asked quietly.
"Because I don't want my baby, Billy, Dom explained. "I want our baby. Until you can see our baby, I can't do that. Not to you, not to me, and certainly not to a baby."
"Of course it will be our baby." Billy said and then shrugged. "I just assumed it would be you that would be the father."
"I won't do this unless we both take equal part, Bills. I don't want our baby to be my baby or your baby, Dom continued, eyes locked onto Billy's. "I want us to both go through the process(,) and let whatever deity it is decide for us who the biological father is."
"You'd want that with me?" Billy murmured, his fingers cupping Dom's face.
"Have you been listening to me at all, Bills?" Smiling, Dom pushed Billy back until he was laying on the bed. Moving to straddle Billy, Dom kissed him deeply. "I love you, you love me, I want our baby to be made in love."
"Of course I've been listening." Pulling Dom down against him, Billy's arms wrapped around Dom, fitting their bodies together and cuddling him close. "I can't promise my nightmares will disappear, but I promise you, Honey, I do want our baby."
Lips sliding across Billy's mouth wetly, hands tangling in Billy's hair, Dom smiled as he spoke. "I love you, Billy. I can't ask for anything else."