"Wouldn't it have been easier for you to take YOUR car over here, pick up YOUR stuff, then drive home on YOUR own?"

The first order of business once Tom had rested after his hospital stay was to go to James' house, but why his husband couldn't do it himself was a mystery. Tom wanted nothing to do with neither Mark nor James until he had totally recovered, both mentally and emotionally as well as physically. Jeff had his Bunny, the rest could wait; at least that was Tom's opinion.

"Tommy, the sooner we get this over and done with, the quicker you and I can get on with our lives." Jeff rested his head on his shoulder.

The last two days had been heaven for Jeff. Tom was a little less enthralled with it. Jeff seemed to take what the doctor said a little too literally and wouldn't let Tom out of his sight for a minute, bringing cold cloths, medicated creams, and soothing lotions every time he grimaced.

Pulling up the driveway, Tom looked at the place. "At least you had the sense to fuck around on me with a guy who has money!"

Jeff wasn't sure how to take that until Tom laughed.

"I see they have company. Maybe we should come back later."

"Nah... that's just Connor and Cooper. They're cool." Jeff was already getting out of the car.

The boys were playing with Snoopy, or more precisely Connor was playing with Snoopy while Cooper kept a semi-interested gaze upon them. Snoopy was the first to spot the visitors and ran over to Jeff, barking happily.

"Hiya, boy." Jeff bent down to let the dog lick his face.

"Hi Jeff..." Connor ran over. "oh." He'd seen Tom.

"I don't want any trouble. We're just here to pick up Jeff's shit and then we'll be outta your lives." Tom hadn't officially met James' and Mark's 'sons', but now that he had, he wanted to make the acquaintance as brief as possible.

"Hang on." Cooper had also walked over and now he turned toward the house. "Daddy, Marky, get your asses out here!"

Tom looked at Jeff, a little surprised by the words. Jeff shrugged it off.

"Imma do the talking," Jeff whispered.

"Fine with me," Tom replied.

James and Mark finally showed up. Tom sniggered, elbowing Jeff in the ribs when he saw how gingerly they were both walking.

"Hey, Twinky Dink! What the fuck you doin' here?" James bellowed.

"Just came to get my stuff!" Jeff answered.

"Hello James," Tom said.

James looked up. In his excitement over seeing Jeff, he hadn't noticed Tom leaning against the hood of his Viper.

Mark defensively stepped in front of James. "Remember what we said," he said in a low growl.

"Don't fuckin' tell me, I'll fuckin' tell you." That's what it sounded like to Tom, but he was more focused on James' movements. He still didn't trust the fucker one iota and having to meet here didn't help any.

"Grab yer shit and let's get gone,." Tom said "I gotta fly out later."

"I'll go with ya," James quickly volunteered. Both Mark and Tom glared at him.

"Imma be back in a minute." Jeff skipped into the house. Mark and Tom just stared at each other.

"Flyin' out tonight?" Mark asked, surprised. "I'm surprised you've been cleared."

"I haven't," Tom replied "I'll be working behind the scenes for a while... someone's gotta bring in some cash."

Mark nodded.

"I prolly should tell James that he'll be supporting us for a bit." Mark scraped his boot against an anthill, destroying it. Watching the little ants scurry around disoriented made him feel a little bit better.

"Do you want me to talk to JR for ya?" Tom lightly scratched under the bandana he wore around his neck.

Mark cocked his head. "Why would you do somethin' crazy like that?" he asked.

"C'mon Mark, it'll draw and you know it," Tom said "We have some kind of chemistry when you're not trying to hurt me, that is."

Was Mark actually smiling? Kid's fuckin' right about that!

"You don't hafta do that shit... mebbe I should retire?" Mark replied.

"Without even fuckin' sayin' goodbye to the fans? I doubt it, even though most of them think you sliced me. Hell, I thought you sliced me until I heard..." His voice faded. "Anyway, do you want me to talk to Jim Ross or give you the honor of begging? I hear you're pretty good at it."

Mark laughed.

"Don't worry, I won't tell a soul." Tom also burst into laughter. "Now where the hell are those two?"

"Hopefully not fuckin' on my bed." Mark replied.

"They wouldn't dare!... would they?" Tom asked.

"Give em five minutes, then we'll go huntin'." Mark stared at his watch.


"So you and Tom are back together then?"

Jeff nodded. He and James were trying to get all of his stuff packed up as quickly as possible. He didn't want them to be alone for too long. The last thing he wanted Tom to do was worry that James was going to do something to him. That wouldn't be good for the healing that Tom was still trying to do. "Imma make sure that we make this work." He looked at the psycho. "So how are things between you and Mark?"

"Better than they've been in a long time," James admitted. He grinned in a way that wasn't actually totally psychotic. "Maybe I should have slit Tom's throat a little sooner. That actually worked out pretty well for everybody."

Jeff just glared at James.

James sighed. "Too soon?"

"It's never gonna be funny," Jeff informed him. "You coulda killed him."

"Yeah, so?"


James rolled his eyes. "Come on Twinky, lighten up. Tom's alive and well and you've got him back and I've got Mark back."

"You could still act like you're sorry."

"Twinky, the only thing I'm sorry about is the fact that I pushed Mark away to the point where I almost didn't get him back."

"I think you should tell Tom you're sorry."

"And I think you should just drop the subject."

"Well too bad, you should say you're sorry."

"I'm not sorry."

"You should be."


"Cuz I said so."

James raised his eyebrows. "Do you really think that argument is going to get you anywhere with me?"

Jeff pouted his lips in a way that he knew Tommy and Matt couldn't resist. "Pweese?"

James shook his head. "Nope. That's my final answer to that."

Jeff sighed. He knew that had been a long shot, but he had thought that maybe he could have been the one to talk some sense in to James. "You're such an ass," he grumbled as he tried to finish getting all his stuff together.

"I'm not an ass," James said defensively. "I'm just not going to apologize when the apology would be a lie. Besides, judging from the way he was looking at me, your husband doesn't want to hear a damn thing that comes out of my mouth."

"Can you blame him? You tried to kill him!"

"I didn't say I blamed him." James tossed Jeff a couple pairs of jeans he had found. "You sure you're gonna be happy with him Twink?"

Jeff nodded. "I almost lost him when you attacked him," he said softly. "When we all thought he was going to die..." He had to stop and look away. He didn't want to talk about how awful it felt to think Tom was going to die.

James sighed. He looked rather uncomfortable with the conversation now. "I think this is the last of your stuff. We should get it downstairs so Marky and Tom don't think we're up to something."

Jeff bounded down the stairs, James clomping along behind him.

"Tommy, I'm ready to... where'd he go?" Jeff scanned the horizon.

"Beats the fuck outta me, Twinky," James said with a shrug. "I am not his father."

"Tommy?" Jeff shouted.

"Out back."

"Marky?" James hollered.

"Yeah?" Came the reply from the same area.

James and Jeff looked at each other and immediately had similar thoughts. Similar evil thoughts. They ran behind the house and stopped dead in their tracks.

"What the fuck do you think you're doing, Calaway?" James bellowed.

"Tommy!" Jeff pointed a finger at his husband. "What did the doctor tell you about that?"

"Oh, for fuck's sake, all he said was no sex for two days. He said nothing about this," Tom protested.

"Yeah Lawson, get the fuck off my back too. After all, we were boyfriends."

"We'll you ain't no more, so this ain't workin' for me." James crossed his arms, a scowl returning to his face.

"We didn't say you couldn't join us," Tom grumbled. "Grab a couple beers and shut the fuck up."

"I likes beer," Jeff quickly helped himself to a bottle.

"Just you watch it. This is how all this shit started." Tom warned his husband.

Tom and Mark were sitting out back, each with a bottle of beer in their hands. A full cooler was nearby.

"You gonna stand there looking like you just fucked yer mom or you gonna have a beer with us?" Mark shouted

James growled, but helped himself to a beer.

"I got my stuff," Jeff said "We should go soon."

"In a minute. Mark and I were talking," Tom said.

"About what?" James wanted Tom and Jeff out of their lives post-haste and wasn't afraid to use a little uncivility to do it.

"This whole sorry mess we found ourselves in," Mark replied.

"Don't fuckin' blame me," James interjected.

"Everyone is to blame in this," Mark retorted. "So we figured that the only chance that we're not gonna be jumping at shadows is if we sit down like men and talk this out without resorting to juvenile name-calling or idle death threats."

"My death threats aren't idle!" James yelled.

"Shut up, mister poopy-pants!" Jeff crossed his arms.

"You were right Mark. One case might not be enough." Tom reached for another bottle.

"Both of ya shut ya faces before I crack this bottle over both o' ya heads!" Mark threatened.

"Now who's talking about idle threats?" James crossed his arms and smirked.

"Enough... Lawson, Hardy, park your asses this minute!" Tom yelled. "I knew this wasn't gonna be easy, but I didn't think both of you would be totally unreasonable... well, I sorta figured you would be," Tom pointed at James, who pointed back at Tom with his middle finger. "but you Jeff?"

"I am not being unreasonable."


They stared at each other until the silence became unbearable.

"Fine... Hardy, I ain't sayin' I'm sorry for slittin' ya throat, but maybe I should thought about it a little more before I did it!" James blurted out.

Tom looked over at Mark. "Take it," The Deadman whispered. "It's as close as you're gonna get to an apology."

"Fair enough. Considering I have three bags of your blood coursin' through my veins, I'll consider us even. For now."

"For now? What the fuck is that supposed to mean?" James demanded.

"It means you stay the fuck away from my husband and I'll forget that you tried to end my life," Tom replied.

"Fine with me."


"Now was that so hard?" Mark asked James.

"Yes," James replied immediately. "Part of me just died a little inside."

Mark rolled his eyes. "You're such a fucking drama queen sometimes. Are you aware of that?"

"Uh huh. It's why you love me."

"Yeah right. I should smash this beer bottle over your head."

"Just promise to pull my hair when you do it and I'll be okay with that."

Tom shook his head as he took a drink of his beer. "Freak," he said under his breath.

"What did you just say?" James growled.

"He called you a freak," Mark said. "And I'm inclined to agree with him." He glared at Jeff, who was happily chugging his beer like there was no tomorrow. "You stop that," he ordered, taking the beer away from Jeff. "You don't need to get drunk again. That was how you contributed to this mess in the first place."

Jeff pouted. "Imma not get drunk. It just tasted good. And what do you mean my-"

"Jeff, sweetheart, do not ask how you getting drunk contributed to this mess," Tom interrupted quickly. "You drinking all of my beer got that fight started between us the night this shit all began."

"And you got even more drunk at that bar Twinky," James added. He seemed eager to get all shred of blame away from him and on to someone else. "Which lead to you nearly getting raped in that alley, which meant Mark and I had to save you and that got you all attached to me, which isn't really healthy for a twink like you."

Jeff sighed and folded his arms over his chest. "Okay okay! Stop it! I get the damn point. I should just stay home when I'm drunk."

"Well yeah, but you should also cut back on it," Mark told him. "The promises you make now mean nothing when you are hammered."

"Oh and you should act on your urges less," James added. "I mean I don't blame you for that because I am just that damn sexy, but-"

"Can you shut him up before I chuck this at his head?" Tom asked Mark, holding up his beer bottle.

"Do it and die Tommy boy," James nearly snarled.

"Boys!" Mark shouted angrily. "Knock it off this second!"

"But he started it!" Tom and James said at the same time, pointing to each other. They both glared at each other when they saw that they were being pointed at. Grumbling under their breaths, they glared at each other until they saw Mark looking like he was ready to kill the both of them. That made them look away from each other, although Tom could clearly be heard mumbling "psycho mother fucker" under his breath while James was mumbling "cocksucking asshole".

"Too bad you weren't a little nicer to me," Tom said, reaching for another beer, his fourth. "I mighta let your find out just how good a cocksucking asshole I am, but your loss."

Mark gagged, spraying beer all over himself.

"Just outta curiosity, would it have made a fuck o' difference if either Mark or I had told you that we were breakin' bedsprings right from the start?" Tom continued.

"Prolly not." James answered quickly. A little too quickly for Mark's taste.

"Bullshit Lawson! If you were Pinocchio, you're nose would be as long as your cock right now," Mark retorted.

Jeff giggled, earning him a stern look from Tom.

"Okay, maybe it woulda made a difference." James added "I prolly woulda gone after Matt instead."

Jeff's mouth dropped open. "No!" he shouted "Marky! Tell James he can't hurt Matty!"

"James..." Mark warned.

"Don't worry your pretty little head, Twinky Dink. After today, I don't want anything to do with any of ya. I got my own kids to worry about."

"Speaking of which, where'd the little buggers get to?" Mark hadn't seen Cooper or Connor for since Tom and Jeff arrived and that worried him.

"Don't know. Don't care." Tom shrugged "Anyway, I think we've overstayed our welcome." Tom stood up, a little wobbly. "Jeff, you're driving."

"Yay!" Jeff danced away. It wasn't everyday that Tom let him drive his car.

Tom noticed smugly the way both Mark and James were staring at Jeff's ass "Remember that ass is all mine now," Tom said before chugging the rest of his beer.

"Strangest thing, though. The police asked me to look at the tapes of the attack to see if I could identify my attacker, but they couldn't find any of the tapes. I guess some things just weren't meant to be."

Mark looked at James, who looked back at Mark.

"Next time you see Matt, a simple "thank-you" will do." Tom went back out front, where Jeff was playing race car in the driveway.

"Vroom vroom. Hardy has the lead going into the last lap of the Indy 500. Coming around the turn..." He stopped when he saw Tom.

"Let's get the hell outta here."

"Yes, massah!" Jeff reversed out of the driveway, down the road, and into their future.


"You definitely need to thank Matt," Mark told James as they finished their beers. "He doesn't even like you and he helped you out."

"Fucker probably did it cuz Tom told him to for your sake," James muttered. He had no idea if that was true or not but that was the theory he was going with.

"Either way—"

"I'll make you do it for me. You're better at it."

Mark sighed. "So once again I'm your errand boy? I thought we were changing things between us Lawson."

"We are. I'm just saying that I would royally screw up the thank you and probably somehow end up stabbing Matt instead."

"You—oh who am I kidding? Knowing you, that's what would happen." Mark shook his head and looked around. Out of the corner of his eye, he happened to see Connor and Cooper running around on the neighbor's roof. "James…"

"I know I know, I see them," James said. He shook his head. "Fucking little brats. Mr. and Mrs. White can deal with them. You and I have more important things to do at the moment."

"And what would these things be?" Mark asked with a grin.

"Each other," James replied happily.

Mark chuckled and let himself be pulled into the house. For better or worse, a twisted and warped future with James was definitely where he belonged.