Title: Sunday Afternoon
in the Park With Tom
Spoilers: Second season of "The 4400".
Notes: Done for the friendficathon for Missyvortexdv, who wanted Tom and Diana outside of work. Love to Christi for the beta. 3 This is possibly the easiest ficathon assignment I've ever received. The damn thing just flowed, and I had it done by the middle of August. That never happens.
Summary: Pretty much self-explanatory.
"You know, it was really nice of you and Alana to invite me and Maia along for the concert."
Maia waved at Diana from where she and Diana's partner Tom's new significant other were picking their way across the broad concert pavilion lawn towards an unseen ice cream stand. It was a beautiful sunny day, just warm enough to forgo a jacket, but not hot enough to require sun block. The perfect afternoon for an outdoor jazz concert in the park.
Diana waved back at her daughter and watched them disappear over the low hill that separated the band area from the concession area. Beside her sat Tom, an unfamiliar, fond expression pasted across his features. It was still weird to see him with such a besotted smile plastered across his face. Although, to be completely fair, they'd admittedly met under rather stressful and extraordinary circumstances, but Diana had never seen Tom look as happy or relaxed as he'd been for the last few weeks.
She liked the change. It suited him.
"Hey, like I said on Thursday, we had the extra tickets. Alana ended up with them from a friend of a friend or something." It was the all-too-nonchalant tone of his voice that tipped her off.
She eyed Tom and snickered. "She totally made you invite us, didn't she?"
Tom just smirked. "Something about how we never socialize with any of my friends."
"She does know you don't have any, right?"
"Oh, she knows. I think this is her trying to correct the situation."
Diana laughed and took another sip of her drink. It really was a lovely afternoon, and while she wouldn't admit it now, it definitely felt good to get away from headquarters. Her sister had always told her that she lived too much in her head for her own good. After the last year, she was grudgingly starting to agree, although that was something else she probably wouldn't admit out loud.
"Shouldn't she be courting Garrity with beer and NFL season passes then?"
Tom snorted and stretched his legs out in front of him. The bench they'd managed to commandeer after the crowd started to filter away was in direct sight-line of the band shell. They'd gotten a spot on the grass earlier, and the blanket and picnic gear were settled in the area below where they were sitting. "Garrity is a bit of a blowhard."
"You don't say..."
"Oh, stop it." Tom grinned and raised an eyebrow at her. Diana just tried to look innocent while sucking on her straw. "Alana met him last week. Let's just say that it's not a relationship she really wants to spend much time nurturing."
"Whereas Maia and I are innocuous and female, and possibly easier to cope with than big, bad, egotistical NTAC agents?" Diana set her drink down and poked him in the shoulder.
"Or something." Tom shrugged and grabbed her drink, making a face after taking a sip and putting it almost immediately back. "How do you even drink that stuff? It's totally acidic with no redeeming features."
"Like sugar, citric acid..."
It was a familiar banter. One refined through dozens of stakeouts and innumerous road trips over the course of the last two years. Whenever Diana managed to send Tom off for snacks, rather than going herself, he always came back with her Diet Coke whining about women and their obsessive desire to control caloric intake. She usually countered by mocking his donuts and coffee with cream. It was a comforting little ritual they'd fallen into, a private joke that, in some weird way, validated their partnership in a real way.
"Exactly! All the good stuff."
She rolled her eyes and grabbed her drink back. "And yet you still steal my soda. If you hate it that much, you could just, I don't know… not drink it?"
"Eh," he shrugged. "Where's the fun in that?"
She made a face at him, and settled back to watch the chaos around them. A minute or two passed in comfortable silence before Tom, inevitably, broke it. It always amused her that people assumed she was the chatty one.
"So, did you like the concert?"
Diana glanced back over at her partner. He actually seemed curious. That was still something she was trying to adjust to. Intellectually, she knew that Tom had spent several years in the reality constructed by Alana. She was still trying to come to grips with the actuality of it. Tom was suddenly interested in her life - in what she thought about life things. Pre-Alana, he'd been intensely absorbed by the job, bordering on obsessive. Whatever else could be said about Alana - and Diana's judgment was still mostly reserved in that area - she was good for Tom right now.
"It was good. I'm not really that much of a jazz person. I mean, I don't go out and buy cd's, but I liked it like this." She shrugged and gestured at the open lawn where families and people were spread out with their blankets, chairs, and picnic baskets. "I like being able to see people enjoy it. It kind of gives me a hint what I'm supposed to think about it."
"Yeah. During the... time away, Alana really got me into this. We used to go to these concerts a lot." He flashed a quick smile at her before turning back to watch the sound guys pack up the audio equipment. "You and your boyfriend of the week came with more than a few times."
"Okay, you know, that's totally weird."
"Me having dreamt seven years of knowing you, or dreaming seven years of you tearing through the male population of Seattle?"
"Oh, that really isn't fair." She whacked him on the arm and rolled her eyes at him. "So, in your great alternate reality, I'm a slut, huh?"
"What? No!" He jerked his head around, cheeks going pink, and basically broadcasting what she'd come to think of as the 'women are out to get me, panic mode' face. All men had that face. It meant they'd been raised right.
Still, on Tom it was so adorable she had to laugh. After a minute of grumbling, he did too.
"It is weird though," Diana said, wiping her eyes. It felt really good to laugh with this man. There hadn't really been much of that between them in their partnership. Life and death and world changes, sure, but not very much laughter. "You having seven years of knowing another me."
"Yeah." Tom shrugged. "Think of how it is for me. I keep expecting you to react one way because she did, and you go off and do something entirely unexpected. And then there's Maia."
"Who wasn't my daughter, right?" Diana couldn't really imagine her life without her Maia anymore. She'd never really thought closely about having children outside of the very murky 'one day', and suddenly being responsible for a nine-year-old had been an adjustment. But. Even though that connection was still, legally, pretty new and amazing, most of the time it felt like Maia had always been in her life. "I know that I keep saying this, but that is so weird."
"I know. Seeing you with her... She really is good for you, Diana." Diana started laughing again when he, rather awkwardly, patted her shoulder.
"You wanted to hug me right there, didn't you?"
"Let's just say the other you was rather huggy."
Diana rolled her eyes and smacked his arm again. "You are such an idiot."
"Nice way to talk to your partner there."
"I call 'em like I see 'em. Hey, any reason Kyle didn't come along on this whole mutual bonding experience? I thought you mentioned that he might?"
Tom shrugged before leaning over to dig in the cooler for something. "He said something about going to a study group instead. I don't know exactly. It's good to see him so interested in school though."
"Yeah, I know he was having a hard time there."
"He was drifting." Finally finding what he had been digging for, Tom sat back up. He fitted the cooler lid on right and popped the top of a 'real' soda before taking a long sip. "I can't say I blame him. He was in quarantine for just over a year."
"And in a coma for two. That'd be tough on any kid."
"Yeah." Tom sighed. Diana reached over and put a hand on his arm.
"Hey, he's doing okay now right?"
"I guess. I mean, he's going out and school seems to be settling him down a bit." Tom flashed a quick grin and waggled his eyebrows at her. "There might even be a girl."
Diana snorted. "Hey, how are he and Alana getting along? That had to have been interesting to explain."
Tom grinned around the top of his soda can and laughed. "Explaining that he, for all intents and purposes, had a new stepmother? Yeah, that was interesting. But he and Alana seemed to have worked it out."
"That's really, really good, Tom." And she meant it.
They sat back again, letting the comfortable silence roll over them. A few minutes later, Diana laughed.
"What?" Tom looked around, trying to see what had amused her - stopped the instant he caught sight of Alana, covered in chocolate, chasing a cheering Maia across the lower side of the hill. Both were obviously laughing, despite the stains on Alana's very new, very quietly expensive sundress.
"It looks like we're about to get invaded." Diana giggled, and reached into her own bag to dig out the batch of napkins she'd tucked away. "You might want to dig out a bottle of water-"
She stopped and looked up at Tom's hand on her arm. "Yes?"
"I just..." Tom smiled again, leaned over and caught her in a quick one-armed hug. "Thanks, okay? This was a good afternoon."
Surprised, it took a second for Diana to return the quick embrace. When they both pulled back she nodded at him. "It was."
Simultaneously, they turned to greet Alana and Maia.