Title: Western Lovers: Cowboys and Biologists <17/33>
Beta the patient and talented charlieisagirl
Rating: NC-17 for the series, and for this chapter.
Summary: David is a hard, jaded warrior, Orlando is a biologist tracking Big Cats on the Double L.
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: 4617
Previous Story: Can be found here
Previous Ordaisy chapter: As suggested by mystery_ink can be found here
Previous Chapters: 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
Posted to: fellowshippers, monaboyd and ordaisy
Header Art: Courtesy of the incredibly talented loki_girl.
Author’s Notes:Hey look, we’re halfway there, Yay! Both of the remaining chapters for the week are posted in ordaisy, save them for the right days or read now at your own peril. Regular posting schedule will return on Monday. Special thanks to dylan_dufresne.
Pressed between the twisted trunk of an ancient tree and David’s warm, muscular body, Orlando moaned as the rough bark scraped against his thick shearling jacket. Long, work-roughened fingers tangled in his silky brown curls as David’s mouth plundered his. The tickling of David’s beard against his clean-shaven face brought a smile to Orlando’s lips.
“What’s so funny?” David murmured, his beard tickling against Orlando’s kiss-swollen lips as he spoke.
Orlando lifted one hand to stroke David’s sleek beard, his eyes luminous as he gazed into David’s face, unable to hide for a moment his affections or his intentions. “There’s a perfectly good cabin just over there.” Orlando gestured toward the building that was slowly sinking into twilight shadows. “We could be naked.” Lifting one jean-clad leg to wrap around David’s hip, Orlando pulled more closely against him and tilted his head to nuzzle his nose against David’s neck.
“Keep that up and we’ll never get into the cabin. We should get you out of the cold.” His fingers turned Orlando’s face back to his, his breathy words tickling Orlando’s lips.
“Outdoors?” Orlando replied cheekily, one eyebrow quirking. “One of your kinks is it?”
“Just one,” David murmured. “It’s your mission to discover them all.” He strung wet kisses across Orlando’s cheek as he spoke.
“Don’t you dare stop that,” Orlando sighed, his fingers tangling in David’s hair, pulling their lips back together.
“Stop what?” David whispered, his lips never really leaving Orlando’s as he spoke.
“Driving me crazy.” Orlando moaned into David’s mouth.
“Just repaying the favor.” David’s tongue flicked out to taste Orlando’s breath as he spoke.
Sliding his hands down David’s sides, Orlando let his palms rest on the thick leather belt that circled David’s waist. Agile fingers pushed under the bottom of the homemade sweater David wore and, finding only flannelette shirt under his fingertips, Orlando growled his displeasure against David’s lips.
“What’s wrong?” David asked, one hand caressing Orlando’s face, searching his heavy-lidded chocolate eyes.
“Too many bloody clothes.”
David’s hand trembled as his thumb rubbed gently over Orlando’s bottom lip, Orlando’s tongue flicking out to lick David’s thumb. “We should stop. Get you inside in the warm before I forget it’s snowing.”
“No!” Orlando exclaimed, his breath leaving him in a heated exhalation of unadulterated need. “Please?”
“How could I say no to such a request?” David whispered, tilting his head, his lips sliding across Orlando’s wetly, his tongue tracing Orlando’s full bottom lip.
“If you do,” Orlando growled, “I’ll have to take matters into my own hand.”
“That’s something I want to watch,” David breathed, the image painted by Orlando’s words inflaming David’s passion. Sliding his hand between their slowly undulating bodies, David cupped Orlando’s denim-clad arousal, rubbing lightly.
“Anytime you want.” Nudging the collar of David’s jacket aside with his nose, his teeth nipped at the soft skin of David’s neck. “Any. Thing. You. Want.”
“Do you have any idea how much trouble that mouth will get you into?” David moaned wantonly, tilting his head, opening his neck to the frigid winter air, slowly falling snowflakes and Orlando’s incendiary licking, sucking mouth.
“I think I might,” Orlando whimpered, his hips pushing away from the tree and into David’s touch.
Whatever David had been about to say was forgotten as a shrill beeping sounded from his jacket pocket.
“Fuck!” Pressing his forehead to Orlando’s, David drew in deep, ragged breaths as one trembling hand searched his pocket for the offending object.
“’Tis what I was hoping for,” Orlando mumbled softly. His long arms wrapped around David’s waist pulling him loosely toward him as David answered the phone, lips tracing the skin on David’s neck.
“What?” David growled into the handset. His free hand moved to stroke Orlando’s face gently as he spoke.
“I need you to come home.” Billy stated without preamble.
“What’s wrong?” David questioned him, nerves winding tight at his brother’s tone. It had been a long time since David had heard the hard, military edges in Billy’s voice. He had hoped Dom had softened those edges forever, but something had drawn out the kill-or-be-killed warrior in his brother. Over the last two years David had almost forgotten the granite edges his brother had lived behind for so long. Hearing Billy’s cold voice, he was almost positive he was going to be gutted by Billy’s response.
“Craig is missing, presumed KIA,” Billy replied quickly. Candy-coating it wouldn’t help. Either of them.
“Details?” His words were clipped and he couldn’t force any others from his panic-constricted throat. Craig wasn’t dead. He couldn’t be. The five words Billy growled told him more than he really wanted to know. His baby brother was in danger, or worse, and his big brother was hurting. Trying to focus his thoughts and listen to what Billy wasn’t saying, David pulled out of Orlando’s loose embrace, already mentally preparing to take his place beside his brother and bring their sibling home, and stalked across the small clearing angrily.
“Unclear. Cate’s boys are still trying to work out what the hell happened. He and his team were taken by whatever bajin they were tracking. It was a six man team. They’ve found four.”
“And?” David growled.
“All dead. I’ve told Cate we’re coming. I can’t sit on my hands here when I could be there helping him.”
“I’ll be home before sunrise.”
“I’ll be waiting,” Billy answered, his voice filled with his fury. There was no way he wasn’t going to help to bring his brother home, no matter how they found him.
“He’s alive, Pip. We’d know. It’ll be alright.” David disconnected the call.
Standing facing the darkness, snowflakes fell gently, collecting on David’s hair and merging with the frustrated tears on his lashes. Hands, clenched in tight fists on his hips, his anger running rampant through his body, until his fear settled in his chest, making it nearly impossible to draw a full deep breath.
Orlando, deeply aroused before the phone shrilled, had remained where David had released him. Leaning against the tree, he let his head fall back. The rough bark caught in his hair as he breathed deeply, struggling to regain his composure. His brow furrowed as he heard the sharp edge to David’s words.
Waiting, giving him all the privacy he could, Orlando moved closer to his lover as soon as the call concluded. He watched briefly, seeing David’s fury seething through him, desperately seeking violent release. Walking slowly forward, wary but not afraid, Orlando pressed a gentle hand to David’s back.
“David? What’s happened?” His flat palm smoothed gentle, soothing circles across David’s back, giving whatever comfort he could give that would be accepted.
“I need to get back to the Double L.” David forced the words past tightly clenched teeth.
“Can I help?” Orlando asked gently. He could feel the tension in every taut muscle of David’s body. He didn’t need to know what was hurting David; it was enough for him to know that something was and for David to understand that he wasn’t alone anymore. Whatever it was, they could get through it together.
Wrapping his long arms around David’s waist Orlando pressed his face against David’s shoulder and did the only thing he could. He had no idea what had caused the blind fury David was struggling to divert, but he did know one thing: he would stand behind David and help him any way he could.
Long minutes passed with Orlando silently holding David, one gentle hand stroking his cloth-covered belly. As the snow fell more heavily around them, the soft white flakes clinging to their hair and clothes, neither man moved. David slowly began to relax against Orlando. His arms rested over Orlando’s as they looped around his waist. Releasing the breath he hadn’t been aware of holding, Orlando nuzzled his face against David’s shoulder. Pressing a silent kiss against his jacket, he silently offered his strength.
“Are you okay?” Orlando asked softly.
“No...” David ground out. “My baby brother is missing.”
“Craig.” David nodded; his voice softened as he spoke. “He’s missing, most of his team is dead.”
“But they haven’t found him?” Orlando asked, tightening his hold on his lover.
“Not yet.” David replied, his fingers trembling as they stroked Orlando’s comforting arms.
“You’ll find him, he won’t leave the two of you without a fight.” Orlando stated quietly. “What can I do?”
“Nothing. I have to pack up and get back to the Double L. Pip and I are going after him.” David tilted his head back, willing tears he refused to shed away.
“I’ll help you pack; you’ll be back quicker.”
“I’m sorry.” David turned in his embrace, one trembling hand cupping Orlando’s face. “I meant for us to have a few more days.”
“Can’t be helped.” Orlando assured him with a grim smile and a nod, his own hand covering David’s on his face.
“Go inside.” David whispered against Orlando’s lips, pressing a chaste kiss there. “I’ll be there in a minute. I need to prep the truck.”
Orlando looked up into David’s face, watching the pain of his emotions flicker through eyes suddenly icy in their intensity. Lifting his hand, Orlando traced David’s cheekbone, his thumb running along David’s damp lashes, brushing away the semi-melted snowflakes that clung there.
“Are you okay?” Orlando asked softly, dark eyes watching his lover closely.
“I’ll be fine.” David nodded, his icy gaze holding Orlando’s for a fraction of a second before he pulled out of his arms and walked towards the truck. “Go inside, Orli; it’s too cold out here.”
Orlando stood watching David as he readied the vehicle for travel before walking into the cabin. Collecting odd items of David’s from around the room, Orlando stoked the fire into life and quickly and efficiently put a small pot of beef stew and a pot of water over the flames. Collecting some of David’s belongings, he placed them on top of his pack before he quickly pushed some of his own clothes and toiletries into a small backpack and dropped it beside the door.
By the time David stepped back into the cabin, all of his belongings were stacked neatly on top of his pack and a bowl of steaming stew sat on his chair waiting for him.
Looking questioningly into Orlando’s face, he opened his mouth to speak, only to be interrupted.
“I thought it best that we had something to eat before the drive. You’re not going to think about eating before you leave.” Orlando explains.
“We?” David asked softly as he quickly and efficiently stowed his belongings in his pack.
“You’re not driving back. I am.” Orlando stated.
“You are, are you?” David questioned without looking up.
“You won’t do Craig any good crashing the truck; you’re distracted and worried. Quite understandably. But this way I know that you’ve gotten back safely and you get back in one piece.”
“You don’t have to do that. You’ve got work to do.” David murmured. Lifting his bowl of stew he ate quickly, more intent on getting the tasty, hot food inside him than finesse.
“I know, but I want to. The cats will wait. You’re more important.” Orlando replied, taking the now empty bowl from David’s extended hand. Rinsing it quickly in the warm, soapy water he had waiting, he moved across the room to extinguish the fire.
Lifting a thermos of coffee from where he had left it beside the fireplace, he watched David scanning the room, ensuring he had collected his belongings. Orlando couldn’t help the sudden impression that David was removing himself completely from the cabin, almost as if he anticipated not returning.
“Ready?” Orlando asked softly.
David didn’t speak, merely nodded as he slung his pack over his shoulder.
“I made some coffee for the trip.” Orlando passed him the thermos as he passed by him to lift his own pack and walk quickly out the door.
Glancing from the thermos in his hand to the door closing behind Orlando, David almost smiled before he turned and followed the younger man outside. Orlando’s pack was already hung neatly in the back of the truck, the man himself closing the tailgate after coaxing Baby into the back. Dropping his own pack into the truck, David leaned on the side of it, watching Orlando as he opened the door.
Climbing into the passenger side, David slid across the seat and as Orlando climbed in, he kissed him softly.
“Thank you.” He murmured against Orlando’s lips.
“You’re welcome.” Orlando leaned into David’s touch, his chilled fingers trailing down the side of David’s face, kissing him tenderly.
“Ready?” David breathed against Orlando’s skin.
Nodding, Orlando released his hold on David and turned his attention to the trip ahead of them. The light snowfall and all-pervasive darkness of the mountain nights made the trip challenging at the best of times, even with the truck’s powerful lights. However, distracted by his concern for David, the trip was enough to be nail biting for Orlando. Whenever he could spare a moment’s attention from the winding dirt roads, Orlando would glance at his lover. David’s profile was dimly lit by the green glow of the dash lights, his brow furrowed, his lips pressed tight together as he contemplated his brothers situation.
Billy sat at his office desk, a tablet of paper in front of him, a fountain pen lying across it as he held a framed photo of his family in his hands.
Two years ago he could never have imagined what he had now. Two years ago he had a home but he could fit his possessions in a single pack and leave without looking back. Before Dom, he would never have hesitated to pack that bag and do whatever was bidden of him.
Now here he sat, his thumb brushing over Dom’s smile, his eyes misting over as he looked into the faces in the photo. It had been taken the day they had brought Lana and Lennox home and completed their family. Billy and Dom had both been seated on the sofa, Daisy-May squeezed in between them, Lana held in Dom’s arms and Lennox in Billy’s. Miranda had admonished them not to move and had taken several photos of them. This particular one had been Billy’s favorite: Dom was practically glowing with his love for the tiny girl in his arms.
Placing the frame back onto the desktop, he glanced around his office and laughed wryly. His life could be split in two, Before Dom and After Dom. Since Dom had entered his life, everything was filled with pictures and drawings, memories that they made together and were loathe to release, hence the picture frames that now graced every surface.
Leaning over the desk, Billy lifted the pen and began to write. The first letter, addressed to Dom, was short but informative. It detailed the precautions Billy had taken to secure his family’s future should anything happen to him. Folding the letter and sliding it into a long white envelope he pushed it to the side of his desk.
The letter he had yet to write was lone he never wanted Dom to read, but the one he knew he had to leave.
My precious Honey.
If you are reading this you know the worst has happened. I want you to know that I have done everything physically in my power to return to you and our babies.
I hope you know just how deeply I love you and how much you’ve changed my life. I realize now that before you climbed out of your car that very first day I never really had anything. You were the beginning of my life and the love of my soul. You have made me a better man because your love has made me whole.
I have cherished every minute we have spent together and I know that if you do read this, you will raise our children to be the very best they can be and love them enough for both of us.
I need you to understand that I had to go and find Craig, my love, he’s my baby brother and keeping him safe and bringing him home is something I had to do. For the first time in my life I’ve had to choose between what I want and what I need to do. It was the most gut-wrenching decision I’ve ever had to make. I almost asked David to go on his own, but if something happened to either of them I would never have forgiven myself. Leaving you was the last thing I wanted to do, but I had to go.
I need you to have a long and happy life, my love. Please be happy and live your life for the both of us. Don’t let our babies forget me. Wherever it is I am now, Honey, I’ll wait here forever for you. I love you. Now, forever, always.
“When are we leaving?” David said gruffly as he stepped into the office.
Startled by his brother’s sudden appearance, Billy surreptitiously wiped away the tears gathered on his lashes. “Didn’t take you long.” He stated.
“Orlando drove. If it’s okay, I want to ask him to stay here while I’m gone.”
“Sure.” Billy nodded distractedly as he pushed his letter into the envelope.
“Any news?” David asked quietly, walking in to sit on the edge of the desk.
“Not a word,” Billy responded, propping the now sealed envelope against the edge of the phone. “Cate has sent her plane. It’ll be waiting for us when we get to the airport.”
“I can go on my own, Pip,” David murmured, noting the obvious goodbye letter Billy was leaving for Dom. “You’ve got too much to lose, nobody would think any less of you.”
“I would,” Billy answered quickly. “He’s coming home, Daisy. I’m not leaving him there.”
“I didn’t say you would, Pip, but you’ve got your own family now. You should stay with them.”
“Dom understands.” Billy nodded, checking his watch. “We’ve got about thirty minutes. You should go say goodbye to your biologist.”
“He’s not my biologist.” David stated.
“You should maybe see the way you look at him.” Billy almost smiled, “Of course he is.”
“Fuck off, Billy,” David grunted, as he stood and moved towards the door. “Orli is his own man, not mine.”
“We’ll see,” Billy replied, his mind already turning back to their upcoming journey, sliding open the desk drawer and extracting his passport.
“I don’t like this, Billy,” Dom murmured. He had been sitting on the dresser, watching as Billy had filled the pack he was taking with him. Billy lifted the bag from the bed, and placed it on the floor beside their bedroom door.
“You think I do?” Billy growled as he turned back towards Dom with tears in his eyes. “My baby brother is missing, maybe he’s already dead. I can’t stay here not knowing that I might be able to do something to help him.”
“I know that.” Dom nodded, opening his arms to his partner. “I can see how much it tears you up just thinking about it, but I’m greedy too. I don’t want to lose you, Bills.” He pulled Billy into his tight embrace.
“Honey,” Billy groaned as he nuzzled his face into Dom’s chest. “You won’t lose me. I’d never leave you.” He kissed Dom’s lips softly. “I have to do this. Craig has always been my responsibility. I know he’s my brother, but for as long as I can remember I’ve felt like his father. I can’t leave him alone there not knowing if he’s hurt or worse.” He pressed gentle kisses against Dom’s lips. “I must do this, Honey. But I’m not the man I used to be. I have a home and I have you, and Sugarplum and Lana and Lennox. I have my family. Nothing will ever stop me from coming back to you, but I have to go and at least try to make my family whole again.”
Dom nodded, pressing his lips to Billy’s gently and kissing him tenderly, both hands lifting to cup Billy’s face. “You be careful.”
“Look after the kids for me?” Billy whispered, pulling Dom into a tight embrace.
“Like there was any doubt.” Dom’s laugh came out as a tight sob.
“Don’t, Honey.” Billy murmured into his hair. “Don’t make this harder than it is.”
“I’m trying.” Dom answered, drawing a deep shuddering breath as Billy released him.
Leading Dom by the hand, Billy led him into the nursery. Standing in the doorway, he wrapped his arms around Dom’s waist and just watched their sleeping children. Kissing the side of Dom’s neck, he slipped past Dom into the room, walking to Daisy-May’s tiny princess bed. Kneeling beside the bed, Billy smoothed her tousled curls back from her face. Smiling, she mumbled in her sleep and snuggled into his touch. Leaning over Daisy-May’s tiny form, he pulled the sheet up from where she had kicked it off and pressed a kiss against her forehead.
Fingers lingering on his little girls face, Billy stood slowly. Moving to the cribs that stood, end to end, against the opposite wall of the room, he gently stroked the back of his fingers against his youngest daughter’s chubby cheek. Lana’s face was surrounded by silky strawberry blonde curls; her face pushed into the pink sheet beneath her, one tiny fist pressed into her rosebud mouth; her knees tucked up under her; her diaper-clad bottom pushed into the air as she slept soundly.
Moving to the matching crib, Billy smiled watching their son, Lennox’s sleepy grey eyes open, watching him inquisitively. Reaching into the crib, Billy lifted Lennox from his bed. Sliding him into the crook of his arm, his free hand caressed Lennox’s dark blond hair softly before he began patting his bottom gently and singing to the youngster. As Lennox’s eyes slid closed again, Billy placed him back in his crib.
Dom waited until Billy had released his hold on Lennox before he moved behind him. Content to give Billy the contact they both needed, Dom slid his arms around Billy’s waist and rested his chin on his shoulder. He had recognized Billy’s need to say his goodbyes to their children, and had watched, emotionally, from the doorway until Billy had bid each child farewell in turn. Dom knew his partner as well as he knew himself and, with every gentle touch and softly crooned word, had watched Billy’s nerves winding tighter.
“If something goes wrong, make sure they remember me?” Billy murmured softly, his eyes fixed on the twins.
“Nothing is going to happen,” Dom assured him. “They won’t have time to forget you; you’re going to bring their uncle home and they’ll have the best of both worlds.”
“I’m serious, Honey.” Billy tilted his head to press a soft kiss against Dom’s cheek.
“So am I.” Dom pulled away and extended a hand to Billy pulling him out of the nursery so they could talk without waking their children.
“C’mon, come out here and snuggle, for just a little while.” Dom coaxed him, trying to take his mind off his departure.
“I’m going to miss you.” Billy whispered against Dom’s lips.
Dom nodded his head, his fingers playing with Billy’s hair. “This will be the first time we’ve really been apart since I came back here.”
Cupping Dom’s face, Billy watched his eyes as he spoke seriously to him. “I’m deadly serious, Honey. I’ve left an envelope in my office for you. Instructions, just in case I don’t come back.”
“You’re coming back.” Dom stated, a note of certainty in his voice. “I won’t accept anything else.”
Orlando sat on the tailgate of the truck, one leg swinging idly, the other drawn up to his chest. His long arms wrapped around his up-drawn leg, willing his body to share its warmth with his limbs. The predawn chill was seeping into his bones, his inactivity not helping at all, but he was loathe to move as he watched Baby and David, both firmly gripping ends of a length of frayed rope.
The trip back from Fangorn Canyon had been long. Orlando had struggled to ease the strained silence with snippets of conversation. His words had been met by one word answers, or simply a grunt of acknowledgement that could barely be considered a reply. Chancing glances at David whenever he could spare a little attention from the road, Orlando could see the tension building in his lover. Wishing he was able to spare a hand from the steering wheel to offer David a simple touch, he had sighed deeply and resumed his struggle with the truck and the difficult terrain.
As soon as he had stopped the truck in front of Billy and Dom’s home, David had climbed out and stalked up the path to the bunkhouse. Orlando had climbed out the truck and released Baby from the back to wait for his return. David had returned, a large pack slung over his shoulder. Wordlessly dropping the pack to the ground at the side of the truck, David gently ran his fingers through Orlando’s hair, his eyes searching Orlando’s face before walking into the house.
When David had emerged from the house, he had smiled grimly at Orlando and pressed a hard kiss against his lips before taking the frayed rope from his fingers and moving to play roughly with Baby.
Orlando’s chin resting on his knee, he watched in the growing light as his wolf and his lover wrestled on the dewy, damp grass. Almost as if feeling Orlando’s eyes on him, David looked up, his shoulders pinned by the huge wolf. Running his fingers through the wolf’s ruff, David spoke softly to the large animal before he pushed it off his chest and stood. Walking back to Orlando’s side, David stopped in front of him and extended a hand to touch his disheveled hair.
“Will you still be here when I get back?” David asked quietly.
“I couldn’t leave without knowing you’re safe,” Orlando answered. Reaching out, he picked grass fragments from David’s clothes.
“My room in the bunkhouse is yours if you want it.” David leaned in to press a kiss to Orlando’s lips as he spoke. “I wouldn’t worry as much if I knew you were here and safe.”
“David,” Orlando murmured softly, as he pulled David into his loose embrace, “I’ve been working alone for a long time now.”
“Humor me?” David smiled apologetically.
“It’s just lucky for you I’ve already told Dom I’ll stay here and help him with the kids.” Orlando smiled, pulling David back to his mouth, deepening their kiss.
David fluffed Orlando’s curls with his fingers, his large hand pulling Orlando’s face back to his, lips sliding wetly across Orlando’s, kissing him hungrily.
Hearing the door closing behind him, David pushed himself deeper into Orlando’s embrace, slowly grinding their hips together as his free hand slid down Orlando’s back. Pulling back slowly, David breathing heavily, he held Orlando against him. “I’m sorry, Fairytale Boy.”
“Nothing to be sorry about.” Orlando murmured, trailing his hand across David’s beard. “Stay safe.”
“David,” Billy called gently, “We need to go.”
“I know,” David replied, without looking around. “I’m coming.”
“I’ll be here when you get back, David.” Orlando murmured, releasing his loose hold on David. “I love you.”
David watched him closely, looking into his eyes as he spoke. Nodding tightly David turned; lifting his pack off the ground, he threw it into the back of the vehicle that waited for them. Billy and David climbed into the truck, neither looking back as it drove off into the morning.