Title: "Told You So"
Characters: Tom Swale, Carl Romeo, Betty Callahan, Harry Callahan
Rating: T (might be a bit high, but better safe than sorry)
Warnings: Slash (if you really think that needs to be warned for)
Just a bit of Tom/Carl fluff set during High Wizardry, just after the Callahans learn that their youngest daughter is also a wizard. Enjoy!
Told You So
Kit had just left to break the news to his parents, and Nita had gone to get herself ready to take off after her sister, when an odd popping sound and a peculiar rattle from the kitchen caught everyone's attention.
"What was that?" Betty asked, craning her neck to see into the kitchen from her spot in the living room.
"Nita?" Harry called. Then, even more hesitantly, "Dairine?"
"There's no one in there," Tom said, not even looking up from the computer manual he was paging through. Carl glanced over at his partner and saw the oddest little half-smile on Tom's lips.
"How do you know?" Harry asked curiously even as he went to the door to see for himself.
Tom turned another page, ran his finger down it. "Check your refrigerator."
Now Carl got it, and he rolled his eyes in disbelief. "You've got to be kidding me," he protested.
Betty looked from one wizard to the other as her husband went into the kitchen. "What's going on? I don't understand. What does our refrigerator –"
There was another pop from the kitchen. "What the hell?" Harry exclaimed.
"That'll be your cupboard, or wherever you keep the bread," Tom said, the smile just a little broader now.
"Tom?" Harry's voice carried into the living room. "What am I supposed to see in here?"
Carl put his head in his hands as Tom replied, "You tell me, Harry. What's supposed to be in there that isn't?"
Betty went into the kitchen herself to see. "What happened to all the bologna I bought yesterday?" they heard her ask after a moment.
"And the mustard," Harry pointed out. "We had almost a full jar in here."
Carl glared at Tom – a wasted effort, since the other man still had his nose in the computer manual. "Don't even," he warned.
Tom had to bite the inside of his lower lip to keep from laughing out loud.
Betty reappeared in the doorway. "And the bread's gone, too," she said, also looking at Tom. "What's going on here?" she asked again, in that special voice that mothers have.
Now Tom glanced sideways at Carl, very briefly, before looking up at Betty. "Your daughter," he said, grinning, "forgot to pack a lunch before she left the solar system. Much like my colleague has done, many a time before." He cast a sly look at Carl again. "I told you it makes a sound," he teased.
Carl just sighed and rolled his eyes again.
To her considerable credit, Betty took it all in stride. "She forgot to take the canned pears I bought for her," she complained as she turned to join her husband, who was still staring into the open refrigerator. "Typical."
Carl crossed his arms and leaned back on the couch. You are so full of it, he thought at his partner.
You just don't like admitting that you're wrong, Tom said, turning his attention back to the book.
Fine, you win. You were right. Happy?
You owe me dinner. Tom looked at him again, just a quick glance. Someplace nice, this time, he added, looking back down again.
Carl was instantly wary. You're not going to make me dress up, are you?
When Tom's lips twitched, he had to suppress a growl. There was no need to alarm the Callahans needlessly, after all. But – Come on, Tom. I wear a suit and tie all day at work. Just because it's not an everyday thing for you –
That wasn't what I had in mind. Tom finally looked at him straight on, and Carl's breath caught momentarily at what he saw in his partner's eyes. I was thinking of that dark blue shirt, and those new jeans you bought last week. We'll go someplace nice for dinner, and maybe catch a movie, and then we can go home and I'll undress you and –
Carl had to tear his eyes and his mind away before Tom could finish the thought. "Bastard," he muttered, forcing his breathing to even out again before Nita's parents could come back and catch the two of them acting like a couple of horny teenagers – or worse, before Peach could decide to join the conversation.
"Sore loser," Tom whispered back.
Not as sore as you're gonna be after I'm done with you…
Carl had the satisfaction of watching Tom close his eyes and bite his lip at the mental image that Carl sent him. Then they heard the refrigerator door close and the sounds of Harry's and Betty's footsteps as they finally got over their shock and came back to join their guests. Truce? he offered.
Truce. Tom took a deep breath to compose himself, outwardly turning back to the computer manual. Let's get Nita and Kit on their way, first. And then you've got some calls to make, and I should go over and talk to Kit's parents…
Wizards' lives tend to be rather hectic; so much so that even the phrase "wizard's holiday" has become synonymous with "business travel," for those in that particular line of business. And as a wizard's responsibilities increase, so do the demands on his time. Carl considered this as he said goodbye to the Callahans, promising to call as soon as he had any word regarding their daughters. Since becoming Seniors, he and Tom had hardly had any time together that wasn't somehow related to, or interrupted by, wizardly matters. For the most part, that was fine – if they hadn't been willing to accept the demanding nature of the job, the Powers that Be would never have offered it to them.
"You gonna walk over?" Carl asked several minutes later as he and Tom paused in front of their car.
"Not yet. I think Kit should be allowed to handle the initial revelation on his own. I'll stop by later, when they've had a little while to process everything." Tom glanced back at the house, making sure that Harry and Betty had gone back inside, before continuing. "I thought one of us should see Nita and Kit off. Let them know what they're getting themselves into… that their parents don't need to hear."
Carl nodded in agreement. "I'll get in touch with the Stationmaster at the Crossings and some of the other gate techs on the more populated worlds, see if I can get them to go a little above and beyond. I think the kids are gonna need it."
"See you at home, then?"
"Sure." Now it was Carl's turn to tease. "If you hurry back, there might just be enough time to stop out at that new dessert shop down the road. My grandma always did say that you should enjoy dessert first…" … And I'd like to find out just how good that chocolate mousse might be if I smeared it all over you… That was said silently, in case anyone was listening. "So hurry back," he added, knowing that any eavesdroppers would misinterpret the glazed look in Tom's eyes as nothing more than a desire for cheesecake, or perhaps brownies.
"I'll hold you to that," was all Tom said – out loud, anyway; Carl could hear, and feel, much more than that in Tom's mind. Then Tom closed his eyes, said three words in the Speech, and vanished from sight, taking a suspiciously silent scarlet macaw with him.
As Carl drove home, he made a mental note to buy a big bag of peanuts for Peach to thank her for mentioning that little bit of information about the refrigerator. Carl really didn't mind being wrong sometimes – not when it meant that Tom got to tell him 'I told you so' in that particularly playful way that he had. He wondered if Tom had realized yet that even when Carl lost, he still won.
~ The End ~