Dwalin had been looking forward to a perfect, quiet Sunday evening with a few cans of beer, the latest episode of Breaking Bad and maybe a couple of pages of reading in the book he had bought the day before. He had expected to get moderately tipsy, heavily amused and maybe fall asleep on the couch before he made it to bed.
What he certainly hadn't expected was the rather dishevelled figure of one Thorin Durinsson, 38, 6'2, slightly drenched, on the steps of his door at 9.43pm.
"What the fuck are you doing here?"
"Pipe burst. The apartment is unusable for at least a week or so my landlord says and the asshole won't pay for hotel costs."
"So?" Dwalin crossed his arm in front of his chest.
"So...can I come in?" Thorin seemed like he hadn't even considered the option of Dwalin not being willing to take him in for a week. Dwalin was momentarily rendered speechless by his cockiness. The he rolled his eyes and stepped aside, holding the door open with one hand for Thorin to walk through.
He didn't seem to have much on him in terms of possessions - just a large gym bag which he promptly tossed into the corner next to the door, dangerously close to a wobbly pile of books.
Dwalin shook his head, willing away the sudden urge to punch his impromptu roommate in the face. Instead he walked across the living room into the kitchen. Thorin would seat himself, he knew. It wasn't the first time that his friend and colleague was crashing on his couch, the only difference being that the last time he had been considerably less sober and guaranteed to be gone the next morning.
He spent a while rummaging in his fridge, before he finally thought to ask:
The voice came from his bathroom. Thorin had obviously decided to change out of his damp wardrobe and was now dressed only in a pair of black gym trousers and a tank top of the same colour. His hair was still a rather unruly mess, falling in slightly knotted strands past his shoulders. Dwalin snorted at his friend's efforts to untangle it. If he got a pay rise of a quarter every time he had made a joke about the impracticality of Thorin's hair he would now be one of the richest men in town.
Dwalin fully stepped out of the kitchen and threw him a can once Thorin had seated himself. His friend caught it with the effortless grace that seemed to come so natural to him. He shook his head and then slumped down on the couch next to Thorin.
He returned his attention to the small television set in front of them, not exactly caring whether Thorin would approve of his choice of evening entertainment or not. After all, it was still his apartment they were in. The man next to him, however, seemed to be entirely satisfied with what he had to offer, his eyes following what was happening on the TV screen intently. Dwalin was quietly thankful for the size of his couch - if he'd had to sit any closer to his guest he might have had more trouble concentrating on the content of the series than he cared to have. Once the episode had finished, Thorin turned around to him.
"Breaking Bad then?" A small grin, its appearance helped by the alcohol, was tugging at the corners of his mouth.
Dwalin shrugged, well aware of the undeniable irony in taking such glee in watching a meth-cooking family father evade and trick criminals and police alike. They were both members of the Boston Police Department's Mobile Operations Unit and, by extension, SWAT after all.
Thorin let out a small laugh.
"It's a good show." he concurred.
Never one for big words (his brother had always been the talker in the family), Dwalin grunted an agreement. Thorin seemed content with the reply he had gotten, only watching amusedly as Dwalin made his way to the big and rather old-fashioned chest under one window and started rummaging in it. Without looking, the tall man threw both a blanket and a spare pillow at him, the former a rather screaming shade of red. It had been a gift from his brother who had remarked that his apartment was surely missing some more colour. Dwalin had nearly throttled him for it, but kept the blanket anyway. You never knew when it might come in handy, such as today.
Thorin's lips were twitching with an amused smile as he eyed the bedding being thrown at him. Dwalin shot him an angry glance that dared him to say even a single word and Thorin evaded any anger by grabbing his toothbrush from his bag and heading towards the bathroom.
When Dwalin watched Thorin curl up under his blanket not long after, he felt the absurd urge to ask him to share the his own bed - it was a double bed after all, more than big enough for two and certainly more comfortable than his old couch.
"Are you planning on keeping watch on me the entire night or will you catch some sleep before tomorrow's day shift?"
Thorin's tone was somewhere between amused and annoyed and with a miniscule flash of shame Dwalin realised that had been staring at him rather openly for the past few minutes.
"Just making sure you're not going to raid the fridge when I'm not looking."
Thorin snorted at the obviously lame excuse.
"As if you had anything worth raiding in there."
Despite his position, his reactions were still sharp as Dwalin hauled an empty can of beer at him. It joined the collection on the living room table and with a satisfied smirk, Thorin turned around and closed his eyes.
Dwalin switched off the lights and retreated to his own bedroom with a muttered curse on his lips. He didn't have the faintest idea what he should really think, and, even more important, feel about Thorin's sudden arrival. He was oddly torn between wishing he would wake up the next morning and find that it all had been nothing but a dream and wishing he would get a lot more opportunities to watch Thorin roaming around his apartment like he lived there.
At least the offending person would be gone by the end of the coming week and spare his emotions any more trouble.
Except that he wasn't.
Somehow 'waiting for the pipe burst to be repaired' had turned into 'waiting for a new apartment to be found' - Thorin's landlord had decided to raise the rent once again due to the recent renovation that had apparently gone hand in hand with repairing the damage. And somewhere along the line (possibly under the influence of alcohol) Thorin had decided to move in with him, or, more accurately, simply not to move out. Before Dwalin could truly object (not that he really would've tried, in any case), Thorin's belongings had started to accumulate in his apartment and quietly, but consistently transformed it into a communal living space for the two of them.
After all, Dwalin's home was much closer to MOP headquarters and sharing the rent meant they could finally afford an HBO subscription as Thorin had remarked with a glint of both amusement and excitement in his eyes.
Dwalin learned a multitude of facts about his new roommate during the next few months, despite having known him for almost ten years and serving about half of it in the same unit with him. For one, he quickly discovered that Thorin was a rather restless sleeper. After the invasion of his home in the first night he found himself blindly groping for the knife at his bedside table as the sound of a rather ominous thump from the living room woke him.
The blade gripped firmly in his hand he opened the door, only to be rewarded with a rather strange and certainly unexpected sight - the noise had obviously been Thorin who had fallen off the sofa onto the wooden floor in his sleep, blanket hopelessly tangled between his limbs. Dwalin did neither wake him nor did he say anything the following morning - but a few days later an old carpet he had acquired at a garage sale next door mysteriously appeared on the wooden floor.
Thorin's only reaction at its sight was an arched eyebrow.
There was a small part inside Dwalin that still insisted, or rather, hoped that Thorin would at some point simply see reason and start using his bed as well. There was not enough space in their apartment for a second bed after all and the couch seemed much too uncomfortable to sleep on it for an extended period of time.
The second aspect of Thorin's life he had barely known anything about before he moved in was that his friend loved to read. Yes, they both were police officers and as such subject to shifting work hours but even with their irregular sleeping patterns Thorin always found time to read during the day or evening, likely a small remnant of a childhood spent in a house full of books and academics. And he was, as it turned out, also a rather great fan of Breaking Bad and a number of other series besides (although Dwalin would never understand his fascination for The Tudors and other period dramas).
The third fact assaulted him one day when he returned from the day shift and found himself met by the delicious smell of a proper homemade meal as made his way up the stairs towards their apartment. It only intensified when he opened the door. Considering they'd had either takeout or quickly thrown together meals for the past weeks it came as quite a surprise to Dwalin to see Thorin standing in the middle of his kitchen, putting together a rather elaborate dinner for no other reason than he 'occasionally enjoyed cooking big' as he told him later.
There were other things that he came to notice about his friend now that they shared a apartment - for example the way Thorin always absent-mindedly straightened out his clothes after taking them off. Or how he sometimes nodded off over one of his books after a particularly long day and his hair would then fall forward to frame his face. Or the way little rivulets of water would run down Thorin's bare chest from the soaking wet strands on his head whenever he stepped out of the bathroom after a shower. Dwalin pretended not to notice, pretended not to hunger for such details, pretended not to dream of Thorin's hair tingling on his skin and his fingers tracing the curve of those muscles on his shoulders and front.
Sometimes he idly wondered whether Thorin accidentally noticed his hungry gaze or kept a similar mental catalogue about his own odd little habits. Based on the half incredulous, half bemused remarks he had received about his habit of wearing woollen socks to bed because of his perpetually cold feet, maybe the latter was the case.
The last fact he learned about his new roommate was that his colleague had a tendency for rather...unpredictable behaviour when he was drunk. At least it managed to take care of what Dwalin had silently dubbed the 'sleeping problem' in his head - when he returned from his late night shift one morning he found a slightly intoxicated Thorin occupying the left half of his twin bed. To their mutual embarrassment later they discovered that sharing a sleeping space provided them with more regular sleep than they'd had in years. Neither of them lost any words about it but from then on, they shared the bed as well as the rest of their living space.
Thorin frowned as he looked out of the window of their little apartment- there was mist on the streets this evening despite the glittering of stars on the sky, curling its long tendrils of grey over the asphalt. He had always hated fog. Though it was perfect at hiding their unit from sight, it also meant that they themselves would have a harder time spotting any potential dangers facing them outside the building.
He leaned his forehead against the window, the cold glass jolting him awake from his drowsiness. The familiar pulling in his stomach before a planned operation had settled in already - not nervousness, fear or excitement, but a quiet apprehension for what was to come.
"Thinking about tonight?"
The voice behind him ripped through his thoughts and he turned around to look at the man whose apartment he had invaded so suddenly over ten months ago. Although by now it already felt like they had been living together for decades, so accustomed had they already grown to each other.
Thorin nodded and faced Dwalin who was sprawled on their couch, a can of his favourite beer in his hands and a magazine on motorcycles in his other. They had shared the same shift the night before, slept until a few hours ago and then taken to what they usually did before planned raids - Dwalin distracting himself with his favourite reading, Thorin pacing up and down the room, recalling all the information they had on their target and mission once again.
"Sometimes I can't decide what I prefer - an operation that has been carefully planned out for months in advance or a sudden emergency situation." he said.
The grimace on Dwalin's face made it quite clear that he had thought about the same question before and not come to any better conclusion than Thorin.
"Then stop thinking about it." he grumbled. "Here."
With a practised move that had almost become a ritual between them now, he threw a can of beer into Thorin's general direction. His friend caught it, mindful of the plants on the shelf next to him. He had almost shattered one of the flower pots once and the following look of murder on his roommate's face had been one he likely wouldn't forget so soon.
Dwalin Barkhun was famous in the unit for his wealth of tattoos, the fact that he had named his motorcycle 'Grasper' and his gun 'Keeper', his ability to curse fluidly in over twenty different languages and the occasional tendency to sleep with everything that was human and said yes. None, however, would have guessed that he also had three orchids sitting on his windowsill at home that he cared for like others would for their children. Thorin had asked, once, and gotten the answer that they had been the courtesy of his mother, before she and her father had died in a car accident shortly before Dwalin had decided to join SWAT.
Thorin sighed and walked over to the sofa. He frowned as Dwalin didn't budge to make any space for him.
His command was accompanied by a light punch to Dwalin's legs that were currently occupying his standard sitting space. For a moment he had to resist the temptation to simply keep touching, to trace the lines of muscle beneath the slim fabric of Dwalin's trousers and shirt and drink in the sight of those grey eyes that always seemed to unravel something inside him.
He ignored the churning in his stomach at those thoughts, as always. They had known each other for almost a decade now. Dwalin had always been a half-legend in the Boston police force, even during his time as simple patrol cop. His strength and, at times, short temper were feared as much as they were admired and Thorin had experienced both aplenty in their time together. He couldn't even pinpoint the exact moment when he had first felt anything aside from annoyance and grudging respect for his colleague.
But at some point a few years ago he had started to notice a slight tinge of jealousy inside him whenever he saw Dwalin flirting with yet another waiter or waitress at the bar. It wasn't so much the flirting itself that he minded - it was none of his business who Dwalin chose to spend his nights with, after all. But a tiny part inside him insisted that he would rather liked to be included on the menu.
He flicked those thoughts aside, almost annoyed with himself. Instead he moved to the spot that Dwalin had finally vacated and opened his own can of beer. Then his mind returned to contemplate all the information about tonight's Operation Frying Pan one last time.
The Pinecone was an almost notorious nightclub at the edge of the city centre. They had known for years that the greater share of activities conducted there were illegal and likely related to Azog or some of his henchmen, but nobody had been able to prove anything. Azog was a major crime lord and famous for controlling large parts of the drug and illegal weapons trade at the East Coast. The major police departments in many states had been collaborating for more than a decade on bringing him down. Tonight was supposed to be one of the major steps towards that goal.
Thorin's hand unconsciously tightened around the edges of the of the couch, fingernails digging into the worn-out fabric as he thought about the price they had already paid for the pursuit of this criminal.
"Regar and Finn haunting you again?"
Dwalin's gruff voice was unusually soft. Thorin gave him an apologetic half-smile before he took another swallow and wiped his mouth.
There was nobody in the department who hadn't heard about the murder of the two police officers, father and son, two years past. According to rumours, Regar (who should have long been retired but had insisted on continuing to work despite his age) and Finn had been close to one of the biggest scoops in police history, only a step away from proving a considerable amount of Azog's misdeeds and, as hushed voices would have it, the existence of a much larger, dangerous presence behind him. What not everybody knew was that Regard and Finn hadn't only been fellow members of the police force to Thorin, but also his grandfather and uncle. It had been their stories whenever his family had visited the house where his mother had grown up that had inspired him to join the police. And it had been their gruff approval that had always warmed his heart the most.
He remembered his fury well when the murder case had been closed after a year already - not a single lead had been found from the day the investigation had started, although everybody knew all too well that it had likely been Azog's henchmen behind it. He remembered how he had stormed into Thranduil's office, had demanded an explanation although their branch technically wasn't even working on the case. And he remembered the furious and at the same time pitying glances (he still didn't quite know which ones had been worse) that Thranduil had thrown at him and his infuriatingly quiet voice as he had told him to leave his office, calm down and take a few days off or he would risk a forced leave for a much longer period.
After uselessly smashing a hole in the plaster of the storage room's wall, Thorin had taken his anger and slowly hammered it into determination, turned blind wrath into steel to wrap around his body and mind. But although outsiders might think otherwise, he knew he would never forget what had happened and he lived for the moment of satisfaction he would have when they would finally arrest those responsible for the murder.
Dwalin's hand suddenly came crushing down on his shoulder. He didn't offer words of comfort for he knew they would either barely help and or simply be untrue - but the warmth in his gruff voice was undeniable and genuine.
"It's time. Let's get ready and go."
Thorin threw a gaze on the watch around his wrist and noted that his friend was right. He nodded and moved, Dwalin's hand squeezing his shoulder one last moment before he let go. Neither of them lingered on the touch for too long, although its warmth stayed imprinted on their bodies.
They got ready within a few minutes, their bags already packed and waiting at the door. Over the months they had developed a quiet routine to almost everything they were doing from breakfast over cleaning to preparing for and heading out on missions, like a well choreographed dance they had done a hundred times before, be it here in the apartment or at work.
Thorin pulled his hair into a ponytail and hesitated as he saw Dwalin standing before the door, ready to go and watching him intently.
"Dwalin?" His colleague nodded, eyes not leaving his face for a single second. There was something dry suddenly lodged in Thorin's throat as he continued to speak.
"What do you think about going out for a beer after tonight?" The words came out confident, not like the tumbling oddity he had feared they might be.
Dwalin blinked, the question more than unexpected. They had been out drinking more than one time before, although, as he just realised, never only with the two of them. The word date crossed his mind, before getting slapped away by the big hand of his second thoughts.
But he found himself nodding, despite the knot that had appeared in his stomach.
"Sure, why not."
Thorin answered him with a grin. It was one of those rare ones that reached all the way to his eyes and lit up a spark of silver inside their deep blue. Dwalin swallowed.
"Good. Then let's go."