Title: Western Lovers: Cowboys and Biologists <18/33>
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: 2642
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| Chapter 17
Posted to: fellowshippers, monaboyd and ordaisy
Header Art: Courtesy of the incredibly talented loki_girl.
Author’s Notes: Special thanks to dylan_dufresne.
Orlando nuzzled his head against the baby that lay cradled in his arms. The sweet, talc-scented bundle watched him: wide blue-gray eyes followed his movements as if he understood everything he saw. Orlando lifted one hand to trail a gentle finger across the baby’s cheek, smiling broadly as a tiny hand lifted to clumsily try and capture Orlando’s finger.
“You’re very good with babies,” Dom spoke as he walked out into the yard, Lana balanced in one arm, two bottles clasped in his hand. His other hand firmly clasping Daisy-May’s as she tottered along awkwardly beside him, his gait slowed to accommodate her tiny shuffling steps. Sinking gracefully onto the blanket Orlando sat on, he moved Lana to a comfortable position in his embrace, before he handed a bottle to Orlando and ruffled Daisy-May’s hair as he helped her into the play gym.
“I had a little sister,” Orlando murmured flatly, his memories drawn instantly back to thoughts of his sister.
“Had?” Dom asked quietly, smiling at Lana as her tiny rosebud lips fastened onto the nipple of the bottle and suckled hungrily.
“She died. Pneumonia.” Orlando’s pinky finger rubbed against Lennox’s cheek as he drank from the bottle Orlando held.
“I’m sorry.” Reaching out with his free hand, Dom ruffled Daisy-May’s hair as she played beside him.
“Was a long time ago.” Orlando shrugged, blinking away the reminiscent tears before he looked up into Dom’s face. “You love this, don’t you?” he smiled at Dom.
“The kids? Adore them. The ranch? It’s my perfect home.” It was Dom’s turn to shrug. “For such a long time I was barely even existing. Then I came here and I realized this was exactly where I belong.”
“It’s beautiful here.”
“But it’s more than just here. I could be living in a tent in the mountains and still be as happy. When you find the one you’re meant to be with, it all just falls into place. You’ll love living here.” Dom nodded, pulling the bottle from Lana’s mouth and lifted her against his shoulder.
“I’m only here until I’ve finished working with the cougars.” Orlando shook his head as he spoke.
“If he asked you to stay, would you?” Dom looked at him across Lana’s back.
“He’ll never ask me so there’s no need to wonder about it.” Orlando murmured, turning his attention back to Lennox. “Where did you come up with the kids’ names?”
Dom looked at his eldest daughter, turning his face so Orlando couldn’t see the small grin that crossed his face at Orlando’s sudden subject change.
“Lana and Lennox were easy.” Dom explained. “Billy is originally Scottish, we wanted to be able to give them both a little piece of their heritage they could always keep; both names are Celtic in origin. We knew that we were having twins, a boy and a girl. Lana means calm and precious, it fitted her. When Randy had her check ups, Lana was always the serene, quiet one. Lennox has a few meanings, but one of them is protector. Likewise during checkups he was always moving, always in front of her, almost like he was trying to protect her. It stuck. They both got L names in a way to remind them of their home and the place that brought their daddies together. The Double L.”
“You put a lot of thought into that, didn’t you?” Orlando questioned, putting Lennox’s empty bottle on the ground beside him as he snuggled the contented baby deeper into his arms.
“They’ll have their names their whole life; we wanted to give them meaning.” Dom’s thumb caressed Lana’s cheek as he spoke, his voice soft as he watched her eyelids flutter closed.
“And Daisy-May? She’s not from the same mother is she?” Orlando asked watching as Daisy-May climbed off her play gym and toddled closer to Dom, climbing clumsily across his lap and cuddling into his body.
“David hasn’t told you about her?” Dom asked quietly.
“Why should he?” Orlando questioned.
“We adopted her from him.” Dom shrugged, his fingers stroked Daisy-May’s long glossy hair as she cuddled against his belly.
“She’s his daughter? Seriously? He’d give up his child? Even to his brother?”
“She’s not really his. He used to be a soldier. You knew that right?” Dom waited for Orlando’s nod before he continued. “It hurt him. Badly. On his last tour she was the sole survivor of a village annihilated by whoever it is they fight. He claimed her as his, brought her home so she could have a life. When Billy met her it was love at first sight for both of them.” Dom smiled as he remembered their devotion to each other that stood even to this day. “We named her for David, and because he’s Daisy here more than he is David we needed to add something. We decided on adding the month that David found her in. Daisy-May she became.”
“That’s beautiful.” Orlando whispered.
“He’s not the hard-ass he’d have you believe.” Dom stated.
“I know that already,” Orlando murmured. “He’s the gentlest man I’ve ever met.”
“You’re serious, aren’t you?” Dom watched Orlando’s face soften, his eyes fluttering closed as he replayed treasured memories.
Orlando didn’t answer, just nodded, his concentration stolen by memories of David’s gentle touches.
“I’ve got an idea. We’ll have a boys’ night tonight. We don’t know how long they’ll be gone, hopefully just a day or two. You and me, we’ll put the kids to bed, open some wine, eat some pizza and we’ll talk about our men. How does that sound?” Dom suggested, curious to learn more about the gentle side of his best friend. “But first I think we should put my angels to bed, don’t you?”
Orlando rose gracefully to his feet, his precious cargo cradled warmly against his chest. “I’ll just put him in his crib?”
“Thanks, Orlando. If you can do that and come back and take Lana for me, we might be able to get them all in bed still sleeping.”
Orlando nodded and walked into the house. Returning a few moments later, he squatted at Dom’s side and lifted Lana from his arms carefully. Pushing the empty baby bottles into the large pockets of the army-style jacket he was wearing, he stood and soothed Lana’s soft murmurs expertly.
Lifting Daisy-May into his arms carefully Dom stood slowly, closing his arms tightly around her as she stirred, pressing her tiny face into his chest. “PapaBilly?” she whimpered softly, her eyes fluttering as she snuggled into Dom’s chest.
“Not yet Sugarplum, Papabilly won’t be home today. But DomDaddy’s here.” He crooned to her gently. Smiling in satisfaction as she cuddled into his chest and settled back into his embrace, Dom stroked her hair as she relaxed before following Orlando into the house.
Five hours later, the children all sleeping and tucked into bed, Dom and Orlando sat on the back porch. A home-cooked pizza and two glasses of wine on the small table between them, they sat eating in companionable silence.
“Do you have any other brothers or sisters?” Dom asked quietly. Holding his glass of wine by the stem, he sipped from the pale red liquid slowly.
“One sister, Aurora, she’s almost sixteen and at school, one brother, Mark, he’s older, works on oil rigs.” Orlando answered as he dropped a piece of pizza crust back onto his plate and reached for his wine glass. He’d taken the time while Dom was putting the kids to bed to change into soft track pants and a multi-coloured knitted sweater, his feet bare.
“Dangerous work,” Dom stated, taking another swig of his wine.
“It is but Mark is careful, he knows what he’s doing. His wife died last year; he has a nine month old daughter to raise.”
“If you are from Alaska, why the accent?” Dom frowned as he leaned over and refilled both glasses from the bottle of wine that sat on the table.
“Our parents were British. They were new age hippies that settled in the wilderness. They did well, we were fully self-sustained--both of them were teachers--so none of us had anything but limited contact with anyone other than family until I was in my teens. We all just picked up Mom and Dad’s accents I guess.”
“They must have had a death wish or been sure of themselves. Alaska is pretty remote even today.”
“We survived. Entertainment was board games and Dad’s old 8-tracks, but we didn’t know any better. Even knowing what I do now I wouldn’t have wanted anything different.” Orlando smiled, drinking deeply from his glass.
“No wonder why you and David get on so well,” Dom grinned. “He’s the strong, silent, outdoors type.”
“Do you know what made him so sad?”
“I think you should really ask him that,” Dom replied quickly, hating himself for not responding openly, “I’m not sure it’s my place to tell you the little bits that I do know.”
“I think he’s frightened to sleep near me,” Orlando murmured. “When…he never stays the night.”
“He’s frightened he’s going to hurt you.”
“He wouldn’t hurt me.”
“Not deliberately, but he was a soldier for a long, long time, Orli. He’s been conditioned to kill or be killed and then ask, it’s the only way he could stay alive. It’s going to take time for him to relax.”
“Oh, I know that already, he almost choked me one morning. He was having a nightmare and I touched him. Before I knew it I was on my back with his hands around my throat strangling me.”
“He didn’t mean it.” Dom said, his eyes wide.
“Of course he didn’t, I know that.” Orlando sat forward in his seat, his elbows on his knees as he spoke. “Afterwards he was so gentle it almost made me cry. He’s so kind and tender and loving when he doesn’t realize what he’s doing.”
“I’ve never seen that side of him with anyone other than the kids,” Dom mused, moving to sit on the floor in front of Orli. Leaning against the railings behind him, Dom extended his glass to Orlando to have it refilled. “With the kids, he’s like a completely different person. He even looses that damned haunted look in his eyes. I had never seen that with adults until you came. I knew that day in Helm’s Deep that you were special and you were here for him.”
“If I’m so special, why the hell is he resisting me so much? I’ve told him I don’t want anything from him but what he wants to give.”
“That’s the problem. He has no idea what he wants, or what he has to give you. He’s frightened to acknowledge that he can love, let alone even consider allowing himself to fall in love with you.”
“He’s already given me more than I could ever expect.”
“Can I ask a personal question?” Dom narrowed his gaze as he sipped from his wine glass.
“Have you two…you know?” Dom started to ask.
Orlando blushed furiously and nodded quickly, his curls bobbing around his face as he looked down at his hands, before gulping the remains of his wine glass.
Dom watched Orlando, the grin on his face widening as he watched his reaction and reached his own conclusions.
“You were a virgin, weren’t you?”
Orlando’s head bobbed up and down again as he nodded his affirmation of Dom’s question. “David was gentle and careful and made it beautiful.”
“I wouldn’t expect anything less from Daisy,” Dom replied, his voice suddenly sad and wistful.
Orlando looked into Dom’s face, his voice softening as he questioned. “Your first time wasn’t, was it?”
Dom shook his head slowly.
“Billy adores you…”
“It wasn’t Billy,” Dom stated quietly. “I was raped.”
“I’m sorry, forgive me, I shouldn’t have probed like that.”
“No, it’s fine, it was a long time ago.” He paused searching for the words to explain his first relationship to Orlando. “Not all boyfriends are gentle and tender, Orli.”
“But they’re not all bastards either, right?” Orli smiled.
“Then surely you can tell that he does love you.” Dom murmured.
“No, he doesn’t.” Orlando shook his head, his tousled curls bouncing wildly.
“Yes. Yes, he does.” Dom stated firmly. “He might not be able to say it, but he’s told you in the only way he can at the moment.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me. How did you come to that conclusion?” Orlando queried, leaning forward to drain the last of the wine from the bottle into Dom’s glass, and then his own.
“I know these men, both Billy and David, better than I know myself sometimes. Their pasts have made them the men they are. I love Billy desperately and wouldn’t change a thing about him, and Daisy is the best friend I never had, he’s a beautiful person, inside and out. He needs someone to get inside, someone to love him the way I love Billy. He needs you, Orli. No one else. You. It’s you he reached out for. He would never have touched you if he knew he would leave you hurt. Don't give up on him."
Orlando shrugged with indecision. “You can’t know that.”
Dom rolled gracefully to his feet, “I do.” he replied. Leaving his wine glass on the railing, he entered the house and returned a few moments later with a new bottle and a corkscrew. Perching on the railing in front of Orlando, he effortlessly uncorked the bottle of wine and gestured for Orlando to present his glass. “Hope you don’t mind white?” Dom chuckled. “We don’t entertain much, and Billy’s more of a whisky man. This…” He glanced at the label quickly. “Fine desert wine is all we have left in that department.”
“It’s fine.” Orlando nodded as he stood. Lifting Dom’s glass from the railing beside him, he held both out to him. Waiting only long enough for Dom to finish pouring the wine, he leaned against the railing beside his friend. “What makes you so sure?”
“That he loves you?” Dom raised a brow as he sipped from the glass.
“You can’t know that, he doesn’t even know it.”
“He does,” Dom replied, “but he won’t let himself believe it.” He sighed deeply. “I’m gonna have to tell you, aren’t I?”
“Knowledge would be infinitely better than that lame ‘ask him’ answer.” Orlando stated as he moved back to his chair and folded his knees up to his chin, watching Dom closely.
“I don’t know exactly what he saw while he was fighting, but he was angry and broken when he got home. He has amazing senses: he knows which baby is crying just by the resonance of the sound, he knows who is approaching him without looking. He had to be hard to survive and it’s all he remembers how to be.” Dom shrugged. “Their mother was a bit of a handful apparently; all three of them have different fathers. It’s shaped them all different ways. Billy took on being their father--he’s been the man of the house since he was about five, I think--David idolizes Billy, I think Craig does too. Billy had a bad relationship that pushed him into the military and the boys followed him. Long story short, the three of them have a crappy opinion of love. Billy didn’t think he could, David thinks that love is only there to hurt and as far as I can tell Craig is struggling to find someone to love him for him. You have to show him it’s not about pain, Orli.”
“That’s easier said than done,” Orlando sighed, taking a long drink from his glass.
“Not for you. He chose you, Orli. You just have to prove to him he made the right choice.”