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Bilbo would be lying if he said he hadn’t fantasised about his neighbour asking him out. Even with the perpetual bitch face he’s got going on and his growly attitude- well, he’s insanely hot, okay? Bilbo would be mad it if didn’t want to tap that.

Pretending to tap that, on the other hand, wasn’t exactly something he wanted to do either, but Thorin is giving him this desperate look and he looks to tired and his clothes are slightly rumpled and his hair’s down- and Bilbo has a really big weak spot for big guys with their shirts slightly unbuttoned, so sue him.

So he says yes. He agrees to play along with the worst idea in all of history. Because Thorin Durin asked for a favour, and frankly, the idea of Thorin owing him one was kind of a turn-on. Not that Bilbo would ever ask for repayment in that way, of course, but he could sure as hell fantasise if he wanted, right? It was his own brain; he could do whatever he wanted with it, thank you very much.

Besides, he likes the guy’s kids- well, nephews, who are over when their mother has to go overseas for work. And sometimes he babysits when Thorin is working late, which is (surprise, surprise) rather often.

And being neighbours sort of gives Bilbo the wonderful opportunity to catch Thorin once or twice without a shirt off in his backyard doing the laundry, or that one time he made a quick dash for the morning paper in his underwear, which had frankly made Bilbo’s month, even if he was too far away to see anything.

So it’s not all bad, even if Thorin absolutely hates him. But when life gives you lemons, make cocktails and all that. You get the point.

So this is him making a cocktail.

Besides, pretending to be in a relationship with Thorin “I Am Way out of Your League” Durin isn’t exactly a hardship. That was definitely something Bilbo could endure for a week or two. Thorin tells him it’s because of his sister, who’s coming over with some more of Thorin’s family and Bilbo’s favourite irritable pair of children in a week’s time to stay for a little while.

She’s been badgering him (along with the rest of his family, apparently) to find someone to settle down with, and Thorin, being ever-so-smart, lied about having a partner. It seemed to placate his family for a while, of course, but the inevitable happened and now he’s getting visitors. Visitors who are expecting to meet Thorin’s fake other-half. So he needs a boyfriend ASAP and Bilbo is, of course, totally prepared to fill in that role.

So they get a story straight- something pathetically sweet but not too unbelievable, of course, and Bilbo moves some of his things next door so it actually looks like he comes around often, which he obviously doesn’t. Up until now Thorin has had his way of ensuring that they live in such a way that they might as well be on separate planets. Thorin’s being ‘Planet Ridiculously Attractive’ and Bilbo’s being ‘Planet Super-Awkward’.

Thorin has more of a relationship with the garbage man than he has with Bilbo. Well… up until now, anyway. Because now they’re in a ‘relationship’ and Bilbo is going to be the best fake boyfriend in the whole world.

Thorin had better check into a dentist soon because Bilbo’s going to make sure he gets cavities from all the sweetness. Bilbo’s going to give him so much sickening fake-boyfriend sugar that he’ll get diabetes.

Bilbo is, of course, very passionate about giving a good performance.

“So how long does she plan on staying?” Bilbo asks a few days beforehand, peering over the backyard fence to talk to Thorin as he chopped wood for the fire (but also, admittedly, to ogle). He’s perched on his own pile of wood, so he can lean over the top of the fence, because otherwise he wouldn’t have been able to see over it at all because he’s sort of really ridiculously short.

Thorin looks up at him, probably not even surprised that Bilbo just appeared out of nowhere like a stalker, and sighs. “I don’t know,” he informs Bilbo. “She said a week, but my family have a tendency to overstay their welcome.”

Bilbo lets out a ‘huh’ and continues to gawk at Thorin chopping wood. Anyone would be lying if they said they didn’t want to look at those biceps all day too (don’t bother denying it).

Thorin stops after a moment with an annoyed sigh and looks back up with Bilbo. “Are you right there?” he asks sarcastically. “Just staring?”

“Certainly,” Bilbo chirps pleasantly. “Don’t stop on my account. You’re doing very well, and I really don’t mind the view at all.”

Thorin huffs, but it breaks off into a bit of a laugh, so Bilbo counts that as a win. “Come over on Tuesday,” he says, dropping the axe and grabbing some of the wood. “Before lunch. They’ll want to meet you as soon as they arrive.”

Bilbo nods. “Of course,” he agrees, “I’ll see you then.”

Thorin just regards him as he always does, with irritation and a small degree of exasperation, and then goes back inside, firewood in hand.

“He can’t have arms like that from chopping all day,” Bilbo muses to himself. “I chop wood just as much as he does and my arms and certainly not like that.” All he ever gets from it, in fact, are blisters on his hands. Although he supposes he’d look rather weird with massive muscled arms. He is, after all, a bit of a mouse. He doesn’t deny that.

He finds it a pity that someone like Thorin, who is perhaps the most attractive man in the history of forever, has such a abhorrent and objectionable personality. This is, after all, a man who makes Girl Scouts who sell cookies sob and run away.

Bilbo wonders (only briefly of course) if he’s made a bad decision agreeing to pretend to be someone Thorin tolerates enough to be in a relationship with. Then he thinks about the size of Thorin’s biceps and decides that it can’t be all that bad.

Besides, what does Dolly Parton say again? If you want the rainbow you have to put up with the rain? And Thorin’s muscles are a definite rainbow that Bilbo’s willing to deal with the man’s anger issues for.

 


 

 

Bilbo thinks there is no greater travesty in this world than a coffee that has gone cold. Although, he supposes there are other things that come close to it. Like a level of Angry Birds that one just can’t quite pass, or accidentally tripping over yourself in public. Or someone who eats the inside of Oreo’s and leaves the chocolate bits just sitting around.

But right now cold coffee is at the top of his list.

He’s supposed to be doing something, but all he can do is peer out the window each time a car passes so he can catch a glimpse of Thorin’s family when they arrive. He’s curious, probably to a creepy extent, but that’s not going to stop him from snooping. Besides, he’s supposed to meet these people anyway, and he’s pretending to be part of the family, so he has every right to be creepily nosy about the whole thing.

He’s seen Dis, Thorin’s youngest sister, once or twice when she’d dropped Fili and Kili off, but apart from that Thorin rarely had family visits. From what he knew the family was fine, so he wasn’t sure why Thorin never had them over, but then again that had never been his business.

So here he sits, the nosy neighbour, looking out the window as some incredibly flash and fancy car pulls up Thorin’s drive.

“Oh, my God, are these people made of money?” he demands to himself. There’s a replying meow from somewhere behind him, and he shushes the cat that jumps up to the windowsill to take a look as well. “Quiet, you,” he briefly glances down at the cat before turning his attention to the car. “And don’t lie- you were thinking it, too.”

Smaug just tilts his head, blinking owlishly at Bilbo before turning his attention to the window and what was outside.

Fili and Kili are the first out of the car, darting about the tires and shrieking in excitement. A tired looking man steps out after them, shouting something about slowing down. He looks a lot like Thorin, but blonde, and he looks far friendlier than Thorin does as well- his face is open and welcoming. Dis follows him, several bags thrown over her shoulders. She’s frowning, probably because she’s been stuck with carting the luggage, but she’s smiling anyway. They meet Thorin halfway to the door and greet each other with warm hugs that make Bilbo feel more than a little envious. Dis waves her arms about after, saying something, and points down the road a little which makes Bilbo suppose that there are more people coming.

Smaug meows again.

“Yes, I know,” Bilbo tells him. “You hate it when the neighbours have people over. Just stay away from the fence and the boys won’t grab you and dress you up like a doll again.” That had been interesting.

He hears another car pull up maybe half an hour later when he’s stuffing his face with Cocoa Puffs, and he pads over to the window again to see a brute of a man jump out of a four wheel drive and pull the back door open to help an elderly man out. A second man runs around the car, old but certainly not as old as the other one, to give him a hand. They set up a wheelchair and gently carry what looks like a respirator or an IV drip or something (Bilbo can’t tell from this far away).

He wolfs down the rest of his food and accidentally steps on Smaug, who screeches in offense and makes Bilbo jump in shock and smack his head on the wall.

“Christ,” he mutters, holding his head as he steps out into his front lawn. He’s definitely not prepared to face his pretend in-laws. But it’s now or never, and at least this way he can excuse any mistakes on his behalf to a concussion caused by his cat. God, that sounds stupid.

He trips up Thorin’s stairs and smacks straight into the front door, but he doesn’t injure himself too badly so he figures it’s not all bad. But his wrist is hurting now, too. He’s nursing it gently as the door’s pulled open. “Anyone here a doctor?” he asks Thorin, who looks frazzled already.

“What the hell did you do?”

“Blame the cat,” Bilbo tells him, stepping inside. “I tripped over him just as I was about the leave and he threw me off my game.”

Thorin just sighs. “Just hurry up and save me from my family, would you? My grandfather’s telling me all about the attractive single nurses who look after him when he’s in the hospital.”

Bilbo can’t help but laugh. “Fine,” he says, looking at his wrist as they move into the living room, “but I’m definitely going to need some ice. And by ice I do not mean ‘please go get a handful of snow from the backyard’.”

There’s a snort. “He knows you so well,” a rough voice comments.

“Mister Bilbo!” shrieks Fili, darting over to attach himself to one of Bilbo’s legs. Kili makes it his duty to latch onto his other one.

Bilbo groans. “I should have readied myself for an attack,” he remarks dryly, ruffling Fili’s hair with his good hand. “What’s up, fuzzy?”

Fili grins up toothily at him. “I didn’t have to ride in the booster seat!” he declares.

“I did,” Kili pouts.

“You’re not old enough yet,” Fili teases.

Kili looks even more upset. “Shut up!” he squeals.

“Language,” Dis scolds from the other side of the room, half-heartedly. “And let poor Bilbo go, he looks like he’s had enough happen to him today without the both of you causing another accident.”

The boys reluctantly release him while Thorin goes to get an ice pack.

“Are you really our new Uncle?” Kili wonders, looking up at Bilbo in awe.

“Uh…” Bilbo doesn’t quite know what to say about that.

“Leave him alone, little one,” the older man (the one not in a wheelchair) reaches down and scoops Kili up into his arms. “Always with your questions.”

Kili giggles in delight.

Bilbo smiles a little in relief.

“So Bilbo,” Dis begins after a small pause.

“Don’t start interrogating him just yet,” Thorin instructs as he steps back into the room at the perfect moment, offering the ice pack to Bilbo. “Let him relax a little first.”

“It’s alright,” Bilbo tells him, before looking over at Dis. “I don’t mind, really.”

Thorin rolls his eyes. “You’ll regret that,” he informs Bilbo quietly, but doesn’t argue. “I suppose I ought to introduce you to everyone. Fili and Kili you already know, and Dis.”

Bilbo nods. “Good to see you again.”

“This is my younger brother Frerin,” Thorin gestures to the blonde man Bilbo had seen earlier. He’s grinning, so Bilbo takes that as a good sign. “And over there is Dwalin, he’s a cousin. This is Thror, my grandfather,” the eldest man, white hair and beard, nods shakily in Bilbo’s direction. “And his son and my father Thrain.”

“Good to meet you,” the man himself arranges Kili in his arms so he can offer a hand to Bilbo. “We haven’t heard all that much about you from Thorin, so it’s good to finally meet you.”

Bilbo shakes his hand, and tries not to wince at the strong grip. “Nice to meet you, as well,” he returns. “Admittedly, I haven’t heard all that much about you.”

Dwalin snorts. “Not even surprised.”

“Bilbo, Bilbo!” Kili calls for Bilbo from where he’s being dangled upside down by Thorin’s father. “Where’s Mister Smaug?”

“Mister Smaug isn’t coming out to play,” Bilbo informs him gently. “He still hasn’t forgiven you for making him wear a dress that one time.”

“Oh,” Kili says it like he didn’t think Smaug would be upset by that still.

“Who is this Smaug?” Thrain asks, looking amused as he sets a complaining Kili down on the ground. “And why did you make him wear a dress?”

“He’s my cat,” Bilbo explains quickly, because that probably seemed awkward out of context. But hey, he’s an awkward person. He rocks awkward- wears it every day. Sometimes unintentionally, but that’s not the point.

“Ah,” Thrain says, nodding in understanding. “They did something similar with Frerin’s dog once, I believe.”

“Yes, and he’s hated them ever since,” Frerin adds.

Bilbo completely knows what he means, and they share a grin of mutual understanding because of it. There’s silence for a moment, and he’s genuinely considering asking why Thorin was such a douche if he had such a friendly family, but Thorin interrupts before he can do anything potentially embarrassing.

“Why don’t I make coffee?” he suggests now. “Bilbo, a hand?” He’s so sternly polite that Bilbo just knows he’s already done something wrong.

 


 

 

Thorin’s got his bitch face on, flicking on the jug and grabbing cups. Bilbo just stands there. He’s unsure of where anything is, so it’s not like he’d be able to help anyway. “What?” he whispers to Thorin’s stupid back (and no he is not ogling him). “What did I do?”

Thorin sighs and turns to face him, hands crossed over his chest. “I asked you to pretend to be my boyfriend. Not…” he waves a hand vaguely at the doorway as if it’s insulted him in some way, “flirt with my brother.”

Bilbo chokes on air. “You’re kidding, right?”

Thorin just manages to look even pissier, which is… surprising.

“I was being polite! That’s what you do when you’re introduced to new people- something you clearly don’t know about going by your attitude to everyone you ever meet ever.”

Thorin opens his mouth to snarl something in reply, but Frerin pokes his head around the door and grins. “Trouble in paradise?” he sing-songs.

“Get out,” Thorin throws a spoon at him automatically, but Frerin manages to gracefully catch it and throw it back. Honestly, Bilbo’s kind of impressed by the level of coordination this family seems to have.

“Baby!” Frerin calls as he trails back into the living room.

Bilbo waits until he’s out of ear shot. “I was not flirting with him, okay? What, do you think I’m stupid or something?”

Thorin’s look very clearly states that he does in fact think Bilbo is stupid.

He groans. “Ugh, are we going to pretend break up already? Because that doesn’t really seem all that helpful to your situation.”

“Go and play dutiful housewife, would you?” he waves Bilbo away like a servant.

“That’s the spirit, Snookums!” He’s surprisingly brave enough to slap Thorin’s ass before he runs off to avoid being strangled.

It’s totally worth it.

 

Chapter Text

So Bilbo totally didn’t even realise the best (and worst) part about this pseudo-relationship agreement he has with Thorin. They get to share a fucking bed. Well… minus the fucking. The word doesn’t appropriately describe what goes on in said bed, because there is unfortunately no fucking (Bilbo didn’t have high hopes, though, so whatever).

He’d originally had every intention of returning to his own home and his own bed at the end of the day, but Dis had insisted they just act as they normally would because she’d hate to get in the way of that, so he was stuck here the night. Thorin would have probably insisted on sleeping on the floor, but his door has no lock and apparently people barge in all the time unannounced so they have to make it look convincing.

Bilbo is not complaining in the slightest… like hell yes, potentially naked Thorin. Bilbo is ecstatic- although he keeps that to himself, of course.

Thorin keeps to his side of the bed, stiff (and not even in the fun way) and unspeaking. Bilbo sighs and figures if he starfishes out during his sleep it’s not his fault and Thorin can just deal with it. He drifts off thinking about if he’ll accidentally smack Thorin in the face sometime in the night. It happens sometimes. He turns out to be even more ecstatic in the morning, though; because Thorin appears to be a sleep-cuddler (it’s awesome).

Bilbo laughs uncontrollably into the pillow for a good two minutes when he realises he’s being snuggled by the scariest person on the street.

His life is kind of great.

But he must dislodge Thorin slightly from sleep, though, because he grunts in irritation, arms tightening briefly around Bilbo as if in warning. Then, his hand slips down a little and he nuzzles at Bilbo’s neck, and- oh! That took a turn for the amorous.

If he were a lesser person (which he usually is mind you) he’d just enjoy it. But it’s way too weird and he knows Thorin would just die of mortification if he knew what he was doing so he sort of wriggles himself out of the cage of Thorin’s arms and elbows him in the solar plexus to wake him up (gently, of course).

Thorin coughs and sits up immediately, knocking Bilbo so hard he literally falls off the side of the bed. “Well,” he grouses, “way to treat your loving partner. If this attitude keeps you may be finding yourself sleeping on the couch, mister.”

Thorin looks at him grumpily, but the glare makes him look like a disgruntled and sleepy kitten more than anything else so there’s no heat in it. It must be obvious too, by the way Bilbo grins, because Thorin just huffs and slides out of bed and into the en suite.

“Kick me off the bed and steal the shower first, you’re an ungrateful bastard,” Bilbo calls after him, if only to hide the fact that he’s staring at Thorin’s bare back.

Bilbo loves this whole pseudo-relationship crap they’re pulling to convince Thorin’s family to stop nagging him about relationships. Actually… it sounds kind of sad when he thinks of it like that. Thorin’s never really seemed like the affectionate kind to Bilbo, but he’d always just assumed he was one of those strong and silent types. But from the look of it, Thorin lives a life completely devoid of relationships (other than family orientated ones of course).

But Bilbo’s cool with that. He too has embraced the blissfully single stage of life. Other people suck. He likes to be able to sleep in his pants on the sofa at 2pm sometimes without anyone complaining. Plus, people tend to hate his cat for some reason Bilbo didn’t know. Smaug was a sweet little cherub… when he wanted to be.

The boys are in the kitchen when Bilbo finally bothers to get up and leave the bedroom (because he’s guessing he won’t be so lucky to catch any glimpses of Thorin ‘accidentally’), and they’re throwing bits of apple at each other. Thror is on the other side of the table with his head in his hands, like he’s just given up on handling them completely. Bilbo can totally see why that’s a possibility, and a completely reasonable one at that.

He brightens marginally, though, when he catches sight of Bilbo. “Well, hello there!”

Bilbo stands in the doorway, unsure of what the etiquette for this sort of thing is, and Thror’s grin widens. “Come now,” he says, beckoning him over with a wave of his hand, “I don’t bite. I promise.” He waits until Bilbo takes a seat beside him to lean over and add, “At least not in the bad way.” He winks, and Bilbo chokes on air. “I used to be quite the catch back when I was your age, you know,” he goes on, as if he hadn’t just caused one of Bilbo’s capillary’s to burst from the shock. “I was what you’d call a cracker-”

“Corker,” Bilbo corrects automatically.

“Corker,” Thror repeats, “right, yes. So, well, if you need any advice,” he winks again, “don’t hesitate to come straight to me.”

Bilbo nods. “Well, that is… very nice to know, thank you, Mister Durin.”

“Thror, Thror!” Thror jostles him a little as he speaks. “I insist.”

“Thror, then,” Bilbo says, if only to appease him.

Thror grins pleasantly. “Good.”

Bilbo’s certain the family is just a little mad. He shouldn’t be so surprised by it. After all, Thorin looks like he’s contemplating mass murder half the time, Bilbo supposes he had to get it from somewhere.

 


 

 

He heads home and then to work after breakfast because he still has to exist in reality which is a pity because he’s enjoying the whole pretending thing. He’s liking it a whole lot better than his current job right about now.

Especially when Tauriel pokes her head in through his office door, because she’s the unofficial bringer of bad news. “Mister Peerbody called again to complain about that double page spread we had yesterday on that supermarket robbery.”

Bilbo groans. “Can you just deal with him, I don’t want to-”

But Tauriel’s already leaving. “He’s on line three!” she calls over her shoulder as she goes.

Bilbo groans and drops his head onto the desk for a moment, praying that if he waits long enough Mister Peerbody will just hang up. But he won’t. Bilbo’s tried this tactic before and Peerbody waited three hours on hold just so he could complain about a grammatical error in one of the articles.

Bilbo sighs and picks up the phone. “Hello, Mister Peerbody,” he says as pleasantly as he can, and grabs the chocolate bar he keeps stashed in his desk for emergencies. He’s so going to need it.

 


 

 

By the time he gets home, Smaug is furious. He sits in the kitchen, back to Bilbo, tail bristled, and lets out angry meows at random intervals. Bilbo tries to pat him to apologise, but he gets his hand clawed instead.

“I know I wasn’t here last night, but I left you food and water and you had the bed to yourself, which I’m sure you enjoyed thoroughly, because you always try to kick me out of it when we have to share.”

And yes, Bilbo does talk to his cat. You can’t have a pet and not talk to them. You’d be weird if you didn’t talk to them.

As a means of buying his love and forgiveness, Bilbo gives Smaug extra cat food before heading to the backyard to grab some firewood, because if he doesn’t bring any in now, he’ll have to do it later and once it gets dark the temperature plummets to a disgusting low and if he tried to dart out the back to grab some he’d probably end up freezing the moment he set food outside.

He’s stopped, however, before he gets to the other side of the yard, by a hissed, “Hey!” He turns at the noise to find Thorin looking over the fence at him, seemingly uncomfortable.

It’s almost hilarious- no, actually, it is hilarious. Thorin’s ushering him over like he’s a spy with vital information and Bilbo can’t help but laugh. Obviously, Thorin is less than impressed.

“You look like you swallowed a lemon,” Bilbo tells him, grinning as he comes over. “Although,” he adds belatedly, “that’s not too far off of your usual expression, so…”

Thorin huffs, irritated.

“Alright, point taken, Angry Eyebrows,” Bilbo says, rolling his eyes. “What did you want?”

“They want to see you again,” Thorin declares, looking disgusted by the idea.

Bilbo finds himself frowning in confusion. “That’s not a good thing?” he wonders. He kind of figured the point of this was to sell it, and if they wanted to see him again it means he sold it. Right? Thorin just gives him this dirty look, and Bilbo puts his hands up. “Okay, okay. Did you need me to decline politely, or…?”

“No,” he sighs, “just come around at six.”

“That I can do,” he declares with a smile. He got a free meal, and he could torture Thorin some more. Day made. “Do you need me to bring food? Because I have cake. I didn’t make it or anything- it’s just sitting in the fridge.” He’d bought it for a Channing Tatum movie marathon on Netflix that didn’t end up happening because one cat in particular had knocked his tea all over his laptop.

Thorin shrugs. “Bring whatever you want.”

Funnily enough, it’s actually the nicest thing Thorin’s ever said to Bilbo, which is… weird. He feels like he should make a joke or something so Thorin can frown at it and go back to being an asshole. Not that he’s not being an asshole now (because of course he is). He’s dismissive and rude and doesn’t seem to care about anything Bilbo says, if his facial expressions are anything to go by. But if Bilbo inherited anything from his father it was the family persistence, and he refuses to be dissuaded by a couple of angry glares. Okay, more than a couple, but his point still stands.

When he shows up to dinner with the cake Thrain insists on showing Bilbo all the baby photos he has on his phone, because he just figured out how to use iCloud apparently, and Bilbo gets to see some of the funniest photos he’s ever seen in his life, honest to God.

This fake boyfriends thing is fantastic.

(Although Smaug does claw him again when he gets home later that night).

 


 

 

The next time he sees Thorin they’re both in the shop down the road, and Thorin looks ridiculously good even though it’s six in the morning on a Saturday and Bilbo’s still wearing his pyjama’s and fluffy slippers because he was just going to get milk and couldn’t be jacked getting changed when he was already snugly and warm. He’s regretting that now, obviously.

Usually Thorin would have just gave him the annoyed eyebrow thing he levels at people- the one that sort of says ‘why are you here wasting space and breathing the air around me you obnoxious mortal?’. Either that or just ignore him completely.

But no. He’s got Fili and Kili hanging off his sides so he can’t just ignore Bilbo.

They talk awkwardly while they wait in line, and Fili climbs onto Bilbo’s back while Kili steals one of his slippers and they both insist in unison Thorin drive him home because it’s his obligation as his “boooooyfriiieeend “(and yes, they do say it in a high falsetto that attracts the attention of everyone in the store. Fuck).

The cashier congratulates them, and Bilbo’s pretty sure their photographer Bard is in the line somewhere behind them which is just wonderful. It’ll be all over town before midday.

Thorin drives him home, if only because Kili refuses to give his fluffy slipper back until he’s in the car.

“It’s not the end of the world,” Bilbo finds himself saying as they drive.

“What’s not the end of the world, Mister Bilbo?” Fili asks, leaning forward to poke his head between the front seats.

“Sit back,” both he and Thorin order him at the same time and Fili obeys with a huff.

Anyway,” Bilbo says now, drawing the word out as he looks out the window. “But at least those ladies at the newsagents won’t bother you anymore, right?” He touches Thorin’s shoulder awkwardly- an attempt at both comfort and affection.

Thorin grunts and shrugs like it doesn’t matter, but he seems to brighten up a bit after that. Bilbo understands. Those ladies can get awful grabby.

Dis insists on him coming back for breakfast once he changes, and Bilbo can never say no to a free meal (it’s a family thing), so he heads back over and ignores Smaug’s unhappy meow from the kitchen when he puts the milk away. “If you want to come over, you’re more than welcome,” he tells the cat as he’s leaving. Not that Smaug will take him up on it. He hates everyone. The only reason he hasn’t killed Bilbo in his sleep is probably because he feeds him, and even then there are some days where Bilbo’s not so sure.

“Are you two arguing?” Dis asks once they’re alone. She’s got an intense look to her, much like Thorin, but it’s more curious than angry.

Bilbo shrugs. “We fight all the time. Who doesn’t Thorin fight with?” It’s all true, as well. In fact, they probably don’t go a week without Thorin snarling at him at least five times. Bilbo likes to think it’s part of his charm.

Dis looks both satisfied and confused at the same time and Bilbo’s been told he has that effect on people. It makes him feel oddly satisfied.

She doesn’t grill him after that, though, so he supposes it’s fine, and he goes to find Thorin to have a friendly little chat, like people in relationships tend to do from time to time. Bilbo knows this because he’s seen way too many romance films (it’s a guilty pleasure, okay, stop judging).

He finds Thorin sitting out the back with Dwalin, both looking cold and miserable, and pushes the door open to look at him questioningly. “What are you doing out here?”

“Avoiding the chaos inside,” Dwalin replies, like it’s obvious.

Bilbo shrugs. It’s fair enough. Fili and Kili have been singing that Call Me Maybe song for the past half an hour. Bilbo’s just learnt to tune it out. “Well, we need to talk,” he declares, looking at Dwalin apologetically. Dwalin doesn’t seem to mind though, and leaves quickly, leaving Bilbo to take a seat beside Thorin. It’s a tight squeeze, which is lovely because Bilbo gets to guiltlessly enjoy Thorin’s muscled leg pressed against his.

Thorin gives him an unimpressed look for interrupting his alone time and invading his personal space. “About?” he prompts, when Bilbo doesn’t give him an answer immediately.

“Your sister thought we were fighting because you were giving me the bitch face,” he tells Thorin now. “I mean, you always give me the bitch face- you’re never not giving me bitch face, but for the sake of appearances, you could at least try to move your face muscles a little bit- I know it’s hard, but some variation in your facial expressions can really sell this.” He gestures between them both. “Maybe even just an eyebrow twitch. Not that twitchy eye thing you do that makes you look like you’re contemplating killing me (which I’m sure you are), that one is most certainly ruled out. You’ll definitely give us away with that one.”

“You’re rambling,” Thorin sighs now, like it’s inevitable and he can’t stop it.

“Of course I’m rambling, you’re not exactly Mr. Conversation, you know. I have to keep going to make up for it.”

There’s the twitch of a smile there now, and Bilbo feels slightly victorious.

“You know,” he goes on now, “if you want this to work, you have to attempt to be a little more convincing. You don’t really acknowledge me when I’m over, and you never touch me which would be happening a lot if we were actually dating, let me tell you-”

“Fine,” Thorin huffs, cutting him off. He’s got one hand pressed to his temple like Bilbo’s given him a headache or something. Statistically it probably wouldn’t be the first time. “Point taken. Just… stop talking.”

Bilbo rolls his eyes. “You sure know how to treat a man. Now we’re going to go inside and be… couple-y.”

Thorin raises an eyebrow. “Couple-y?” he asks.

“Yes. Couple-y. Friendly and happy and cute, but not suspiciously so. Which means you can’t break my arm when I grab your-”

Thorin points a finger at him, cutting him off. “No.”

Bilbo sighs and gets to his feet. “You’re no fun. Fine, no grabbing your perfectly objectifiable glutes. But we are going inside and getting chummy with your family. There’s no escaping that.” Thorin groans, but Bilbo’s not having any of that. “No, come on.” He tugs at Thorin’s arm. “This is what relationships are all about. Putting up with the in-laws.”

“If we’re going by that logic then I’m the one who’s supposed to be dragging you.”

Bilbo shrugs. “I’ve never been one for conventional relationships.”

Thorin snorts.

 


 

 

They share a bed again (Bilbo just knows Smaug is going to hate him for eternity), and Bilbo tries to repress his glee the next morning at being pressed up against Thorin’s chest, and- ah, the man has such nice hands. Bilbo can’t really think about them and the things they could do too much, though, because that way lay dragons and, well… he’s certain things would just get embarrassing. His back may be against Thorin’s chest so Thorin wouldn’t be able to see were he to wake up, but Bilbo would still be hot and flustered and he’s already hot and flustered around Thorin enough as it is. So he wriggles from Thorin’s grasp and does a weird tiptoe jog to the bathroom to have a very cold shower. He doesn’t actually end up doing that though because Bilbo isn’t brave enough to stand under ice cold water in winter. He’s not actually insane, okay?

Because it’s a Sunday, he goes home to change before dragging a very irritated Smaug over to meet the fake in-laws. Smaug doesn’t like being held and petted but at least Bilbo keeps him out of Fili and Kili’s reach.

They finish breakfast before Thror insists they go for a walk. Frerin just laughs and says that he can’t really call it a ‘walk’ when he’s not using his legs, and Thrain smacks him up the back of the head. Dwalin complains that he hasn’t even has his second coffee yet, so he refuses to go anywhere this morning.

But they go for a ‘walk’ anyway, and Dwalin goes back to bed because he says Sundays are a sin, and Fili and Kili dare Bilbo to jump on Thorin for a piggy-back ride, so of course Bilbo does it (you can’t say no to a dare, you just can’t). Thorin just frowns, but he doesn’t throw Bilbo off and strangle him, so Bilbo supposes he’s in a relatively good mood this morning.

“Do you think poor Smaug will ever forgive me?” he wonders as Thorin carries him down the path. Fili and Kili are up ahead, being chased by Dis and Thrain, and Frerin is grousing a few meters behind them about being stuck pushing Thror.

“What did you do?”

“I come home and then I leave again and now I take him over to your house and make people pat him- I’m a horrible person.”

Thorin snorts. “So your cat won’t forgive you?”

“Of course not! He’s a cat! Cats never forgive and they never forget. They just wait patiently for the right moment so when they kill you it looks like an accident.”

When he peers over Thorin’s shoulder he can see he’s frowning. “I don’t get cats,” he says eventually.

Bilbo laughs. “Of course you don’t.”

“I’m not big on animals at all.”

“Heathen,” Bilbo declares, nudging him in the side with his heel.

“Do that again and I’ll drop you,” Thorin intones.

“What a caring boyfriend you are,” Bilbo comments dryly. “And what’s wrong with animals? Are you allergic?”

“No.”

Bilbo scoffs. “Then you’re just strange," he declares.

Thorin is silent for a few beats before speaking again. “I had a dog attack me when I was twelve. Had to get forty stitches in my legs.”

Bilbo’s never seen Thorin without pants off (okay, it was one time and he hardly saw anything at all), so he doesn’t know how bad the scars are. “Ah,” he says, feeling awkward. “Sorry.” Bilbo has this unnerving talent of putting his foot in his mouth. It gets him into trouble more oft than not.

Thorin shrugs, unperturbed. “It’s alright.” Which is weird, because it’s Thorin.

“You’re not going to give me the bitch face?” Bilbo asks innocently, balancing on the fine line between not pushing it and really pushing it.

“I thought you said I needed to move my face more,” Thorin says.

“Well, yes, I did say that. Is that why you didn’t throw me to the ground Mortal Kombat style when I jumped on your back?”

Thorin shrugs again. “I figured people might think we’re in one of those ‘he hits me because he loves me’ relationships now that we’re officially ‘out’.” He pauses. “Am I doing it wrong?”

“No, no. Not at all,” Bilbo assures him. “It’s just strange seeing you act like a normal person.” Thorin elbows him, and Bilbo laughs again. “There we go!” he says now, cheerfully. “He’s back.”

He can feel Thorin shake with quiet laughter, and it’s even better than making him snort in amusement. One of these days he’ll have an actual laugh to catalogue. Bilbo’s made it his personal mission.

Just before midday Thrain and Frerin go and get fish and chips from down the road, and they all sit in the park trying to hold the paper down while they eat because the wind is enough to carry a small child away, and the chips are precious. So very, very precious. Thorin actually sits next to him, too, which is new. He’s really trying to get this fake-boyfriend thing right, it seems: Bilbo is not complaining in the slightest, it’s brilliant.

Dis takes a call halfway through the meal, and Bilbo gets Frerin to agree to lobbing chips at Bilbo to see how many he catches in his mouth. Then Bilbo throws them at Frerin, because Frerin turns out to be way better at that than Bilbo is.

Thorin is far more relaxed than Bilbo’s ever seen him as well. He even smiles once or twice (although it’s just lip twitches, there’s no teeth or anything- because Bilbo’s fairly certain Thorin doesn’t know how to use his teeth in a non-threatening way).

“This is nice,” Thorin admits when they’re by themselves, walking back. They’ve lagged behind the rest, but no one’s complaining. Bilbo assumes it’s because of their pseudo-relationship. Couples are always walking slow together, Bilbo doesn’t even know why. It’s like being in love makes you an obnoxious asshole who wants to hold everybody else up on the footpath. “I haven’t done anything like this in a long time.”

“You work too much,” Bilbo states with a shrug, before wondering if that was too blunt.

But Thorin doesn’t argue. “Maybe,” he concedes. “But I don’t really know what to do when I’m not working.”

“Maybe you should talk to your neighbours more,” Bilbo suggests. “You know, I’ve heard you’ve got this fantastic one on your right. Boggins, I think his name is, or some other nonsense. I’m sure he’d be wonderful company.”

They’re almost back now, turning onto their street, when Thorin replies. “I’ve heard about that Boggins, too,” he informs Bilbo, “an absolute nightmare. Always banging around the house at midnight, and singing awfully to Whitney Houston-”

“Whitney Houston is a treasure, thank you very much,” Bilbo cuts in prissily, and now Thorin’s repressing one of his twitchy smiles (still no teeth, though), and- okay, so that whole thing before about Bilbo not being insane? Well, maybe that was an exaggeration. He’s probably really insane being about to do what he’s about to do… if that makes sense.

Which is probably why he pulls Thorin to a stop (deciding to just do it because he’s never been one for self-preservation) and grabs him by the shirt, yanking him down until their lips meet. It’s not one of those stupid gentle first-kisses people talk about, or one of those messy lustful kisses either. It’s just a kiss: not too chase but certainly no tongue (because Bilbo does not do tongue until at least the third date, and he and Thorin technically haven’t even been on one), and Thorin… Thorin doesn’t move. He sort of just stands there like he’s not sure what to do. Not that it matters much, because Bilbo is pulling away within seconds and stepping backwards, awkwardly saying goodbye before darting off and taking refuge in his house.

He slams the front door behind them before peering out the curtains to see Thorin following the rest of his family, a confused look on his face.

Smaug meows viciously at him.

“Do you think Mexico’s far enough to run to?” he wonders. “The Bahamas maybe?” Smaug cocks his head to the side, blinking at Bilbo likes he’s an idiot. “No,” Bilbo sighs now. “You’re right. You’d hate the heat. And I’d end up looking like a tomato.”

 

 

Chapter Text

Because he obviously can’t avoid someone he lives next to for very long, he decides it’s best to bite the bullet and just go over, apologise, and hope that he doesn’t have his head ripped off. But Thorin’s not there, according to Thrain. Although he’s still dragged inside, despite his protests that he’s only on a lunch break and needs to return back to work in half an hour.

“Half an hour is enough time to eat here,” Thrain insists. “We haven’t talked much, you and I, and I’d like to fix that. So I’m going to feed you and in exchange you’re going to answer some questions.”

Bilbo smiles awkwardly and lets Thrain push him down into a chair in the kitchen. It feels like something from a mafia movie. God, Bilbo hopes his legs don’t get broken. He likes his legs.

But Thrain ends up, honest to God, making him the best sandwich he’s ever had (and Bilbo is something of a sandwich connoisseur). The twenty-questions he asks as well don’t seem very mafia-like either, so Bilbo relaxes.

They talk about work and how annoying Mr. Peerbody is and the time he caught the mayor passed out in the garden and how the security guard had shown him the next day that the mayor had staggered in drunk and ate all of the flowers that Bilbo had just had planted last week. They talk about his family who live too far away to see other than on the holidays and no he doesn’t really email them often because his parents refuse to get a computer and still live in the 80s, so they exchange letters a lot. Thrain makes Bilbo another orgasmic sandwich and asks if Bilbo has any plans for the future.

Bilbo snorts so hard the sandwich almost gets stuck in his throat. He doesn’t think about the future, he figures there’s not much point in it. Well, he plans his dinners for the week ahead sometimes, or plans on saving so he can go back home for his mother’s birthday, but there’s no massive life aspirations there. He’s happy where he is, although he wouldn’t mind moving into a bigger house (really, the one he has now is just tiny). He tells Thrain as much, but it doesn’t seem to be what he wants to know.

“No,” he tells Bilbo, “I meant future plans. With Thorin.”

“Oh,” Bilbo says, and oh. Oh. “Well,” he begins, somewhat haltingly. He figures it’s best to be as honest as possible. “We haven’t really talked about it, and I wouldn’t want to say anything that might make him feel, you know, pressured. Because I can be really bossy when I want to be, but I doubt Thorin would put up with that anyway. I mean, in all honesty- I think the ball’s in his court on that subject.” He wondered if telling Thrain that his future plans (as unrealistic as they are) are to get Thorin in bed, but he thinks that may be too much information.

He doesn’t get the opportunity anyway, because Thrain starts nodding before speaking again. “Thorin is rather fond of you,” he declares, which throws Bilbo right off.

Bilbo blinks. “Uh, he is?” No, wrong thing to say. “I mean- of course he is. I’m a loveable and charismatic character.”

Thrain chuckles. “He’s not very… verbal, my son. I’m sure you’ve realised.”

“Yes,” Bilbo says. “Yes, I have.”

“But I can tell,” Thrain goes on, “a father can always tell these things. He dotes his time and attentions on you, and-” Bilbo’s stopped listening. Because he’d had been severely doubting Thorin this whole time but wow did he really sell it to his folks if he’s got Thrain convinced. It must be in the little things, rather than everything else. Although, admittedly Bilbo probably didn’t understand because he doesn’t know Thorin as well as Thorin’s own family knows him. Of course Thorin would know what things to change around his family to make it realistic. It makes him profoundly proud and upset at the same time. The first is due to their success, because hell yeah they pulled it off. The latter is also because they pulled it off, and soon Thorin’s family will leave and Bilbo won’t get to pretend anymore (because let’s face it he’s not getting anywhere else with someone like Thorin, even with his positive demeanour).

And it’s only just now that Bilbo’s realising he should have said no when Thorin asked him in the first place, because this whole experience has just made this… thing he feels ten times worse. Maybe moving to the Bahamas wasn’t such a bad idea. Bilbo can just marry some ridiculously attractive Bahamian (is that even a word? Who even cares) and have fantastic sex and forget he ever existed in this country. And Smaug… well, Smaug will just have to deal with the heat, and Bilbo will have to deal with the sunburn. It can be punishment for him ever thinking this was a good idea.

 


 

 

The next time Bilbo goes over, it’s to bid them all farewell because they’ve eaten Thorin out of house and home and Fili and Kili have destroyed every room so it’s time to go back to their own homes to do the same thing. Dis locks him in a vice tug hug and doesn’t let go for three whole minutes (Bilbo counts), and Frerin slaps him way too hard on the back, and Thrain gives him a small but real smile and Bilbo feels really bad for lying to them now, because he’s grown quite fond of them all. Well, at least he thinks that right up until Thror pinches him somewhere not so friendly and makes him jump a meter in the air.

He doesn’t hang around after they leave- he figures that’s a gift to both Thorin and himself. It’s weird being around him, like the air is buzzing, and if Bilbo stayed any longer he’s sure he would have done something monumentally stupid, as he tends to do more oft than not.

Soon enough, anyway, they’re only seeing glimpses of each other because Thorin may have eased his workload for his family but he has no excuse to do so anymore. Sometimes Bilbo can hear him, leaving early in the morning when he’s getting ready, and other times he can hear wood being chopped out back. He doesn’t go and lean over the fence like he used to, though.

He knows there’s a big bad word attached to what he’s feeling, but he doesn’t want to accept it. Bilbo doesn’t do unattainable love. Lust? He can handle that. A crush? No problem. But love is a whole other bag of apples that he doesn’t even want to touch. They look nice and red and inviting, but there’s a poison one somewhere in there and Bilbo had no intention of playing Snow White, and he’s not too fond of Russian roulette either. He links Conkers and Scarbble. Safe games (well, Conkers can seem rather dangerous when ones playing it, and it’s all very exciting- not that anyone seems to believe it when he tells them). He spends a lot of the next half week in his office, swamped under weekly edits (because this is a small town and there’s no way they could afford daily prints) and appeasing Mr. Peerbody and this new guy that keeps calling up to complain. He suspects they’re in cahoots, but he can’t prove it. He gets Bard to go to his house and top up Smaug’s dry cat food late one afternoon. It’s mainly because he’s avoiding Thorin, but also because Bard’s been cracking jokes about Bilbo finally ‘getting some’ for a while now, so it’s payback.

But Bard comes back five minutes later to tell him Smaug isn’t in the house. Of course Smaug likes to go on adventures now and again but he’s always home in the afternoon: it’s his nap time. He curls up on the sofa and waits for Bilbo to come home.

So Bilbo, panicking, immediately rushes home and tears the house apart looking for him.

That is until he goes into the backyard to call for him and hears the pleasant meowing coming from over the fence. He looks over to find Thorin’s back door open, and he’s fairly certain that’s a plate of cat food on the ground just inside.

“He's stolen my cat!” Bilbo struggles over the fence rather than going the long way around and marches into the house through the back door to find Thorin sitting on the sofa with Smaug in his lap. It’s like coming home to find your life-long partner in bed with somebody else. “You harlot!” he tells Smaug now. Smaug spares him a small glance before going back to nudging Thorin’s hand again for a head scratch. “What the hell is this?”

Thorin just looks at him. “He wanted to visit,” he explains simply.

“Smaug hates you,” he declares, outraged.

Thorin shrugs, like it’s nothing. “I won him over.”

No one wins Smaug over. Even Bilbo hasn’t won Smaug over and he’s had him all his life. “How?” he demands.

He doesn’t answer right away, and when he finally speaks, it’s begrudging. “I’ve been leaving food out the back every night.”

Bilbo gapes at him. “You’ve been luring my cat in with food?”

Thorin huffs. “He kept sitting on the fence and meowing,” he says it almost accusingly.

“Because he’s an asshole!” Bilbo says. “And asshole whose been getting two meals every morning, one from you and one from me.”

Thorin seems to think about it. “Is that bad for cats?” he wonders mildly.

“Of course overfeeding is bad for cats. He’s going to get fatter than he already is!”

Smaug meows indignantly, before jumping off of Thorin’s lap and stretching lazily. Thorin winces, like the movement hurts him.

“You aren’t at work,” Bilbo says now, hands on his hips.

“Neither are you.”

“Well, I just ran from work to come and find my cat cheating on me.” He frowns at Thorin now. “Is something wrong?”

“No,” he lies. “I just took some time off work.”

“For what?” Bilbo queries.

Thorin’s jaw ticks obstinately. “Nothing.”

“Are you hurt?”

“I-” he looks like he’s going to argue, but he just breaks off and sighs. “I had an accident at work. Fell down a flight of stairs, and-”

“Oh, my God!” Bilbo all but flings himself into the seat beside Thorin. “How bad is it?”

“It’s nothing I can’t handle,” Thorin insists.

“You can’t even sit without wincing in pain! Is there anything I can do?”

“You want to help me?” he sounds incredulous.

“Of course I do,” he says, insulted that Thorin would think otherwise. “We’re neighbours. Neighbours help each other sometimes, and I’m not that terrible of a person.”

“No, I just… You-” he huffs. “You’ve been ignoring me,” he says it accusingly.

Bilbo opens his mouth to flat out deny it. “I- well, okay. Admittedly I have, but I thought it was a good idea after being in each other’s pockets when your family was here.”

Thorin looks confused. “My father says I’m not good with words,” he begins, slowly.

Bilbo laughs. “Did you think you weren’t?”

“I just- I just wanted to say that I get it. You’re uncomfortable because of it, and that’s my fault. I thought it wouldn’t matter, but I think it just made things worse.”

Bilbo kind of thinks he knows what Thorn’s saying, but a large part of him is just baffled. Because it can’t be what he thinks it is, because that would mean he’s stepped into an alternate universe. Well, either that or Thorin has been replaced with a pod person. “What do you mean?” he asks calmly.

“I don’t blame you for avoiding me what with…” Thorin gestures vaguely at himself, “this.”

“This?” Bilbo repeats meekly.

“Don’t make me say it,” Thorin tells him uncomfortably. “I’m injured so I can’t run away.”

“Say it anyway.”

Thorin gives Bilbo probably the best bitch face yet and ungratefully utters: “You know how I feel,” and it’s admission enough for Bilbo because suddenly he’s laughing so hard he can’t stop.

“I can’t believe this,” he manages between paroxysms.

Thorin looks mystified by the sudden outburst and more than a little hurt. “What are you talking about?” he demands, because Thorin is a complete moron and has no idea. Of course he doesn’t.

Bilbo’s life is basically a bad romance movie. “Don’t you know?” he laughs. “I’ve been ass over ankle for you since we first met, you absolute melon.”

Thorin just stares at him like he’s grown a third head. “What?”

“I kissed you!” he cries.

“I thought you were playing along!” Thorin splutters.

“I thought you hated me!” Bilbo tells him. “And when I kissed you and you sort of just stood there so I ran and decided it was best to just stay the hell away, and- how could you not tell? I talk about how much I fancy you all the time!”

Thorin looks taken aback. “I thought you were teasing me because you knew!”

“I wax poetical about your muscles every time I see you- how could you think I was teasing you?!”

“That’s what you’re like! You’re doing that with everyone. I thought it was normal. I thought you knew and were choosing not to talk about it, and I was okay with it, because I thought it was all I was going to get.” Thorin’s red in the face now, clearly embarrassed to be talking about it, and- shit, how long had Thorin been into Bilbo without Bilbo even noticing?

Although, in his defence, Thorin speaks in the language of angry eyebrows, so it would be hard for anyone to tell.

“Okay,” Bilbo say now, putting a hand up, “I have never waxed poetical about anyone else’s body apart from yours- well, okay, maybe Jude Law, but unattainable celebrities do not count.”

Thorin huffs like the cutest little ball of angst and self loathing ever. “Oh, so what if you think I’m attractive?” he grouses. “That doesn’t mean you actually like me.”

“I like you,” Bilbo tells him.

“No, you don’t.”

“I do,” he insists.

“You can’t.”

“Why not?”

“Because I’m a complete dickhead,” Thorin says it like it’s an obvious thing, which… okay, it is. It totally is.

“Okay, first of all: so am I, in case you haven’t noticed. And secondly: I’ve known for quite a long time that you were the rudest, most infuriating person on the face of the earth who complains about everything and hates everyone, but I still continued to make overtures of a romantic nature to you because (for some completely moronic reason) I was still madly into you even with the caveman behaviour.”

“That is pretty moronic,” Thorin agrees after a moment’s silence, but his lips are twitching again.

Bilbo sighs now, leaning back in the chair. “I can’t believe you’ve been feeding my cat.”

“I thought it was best I win him over now so I don’t have to do it later.”

“You seem very sure of yourself,” Bilbo comments dryly.

Thorin shrugs. “I’m an optimist. Don’t tell anyone.”

“Oh no, never.” Bilbo rolls his eyes, but he’s grinning now. “We’d better not ruin your reputation.” And just because he can (and because Thorin still doesn’t look like he believes it) Bilbo leans over and kisses him smack on the mouth, accidentally knocking their noses together. Thorin shifts to accommodate the sudden weight, wincing in pain, and Bilbo pulls back immediately.

“Oh, I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry!” his hands go everywhere and nowhere at once, unsure of what to do. He settles for putting one hand on Thorin’s shoulder and the other on his side.

Thorin huffs a laugh. “You are ridiculous,” but it’s said with a fondness Bilbo’s never heard from him before, and it’s enough to make him warm all over.

“I’m going to throw myself on you again,” he warns, giving Thorin a moment to prepare himself before he lunges at him once more. There’s a lot less damage this time, thankfully enough (because Bilbo’s nose is still sore from their last encounter). It is, admittedly, a little awkward to manoeuvre. Thorin’s wincing in pain every other second and it only gets more difficult when Smaug decides to settle between them again.

Bilbo pulls away. “Ugh,” he groans. Cockblocked by a cat. Really? “He’s not going anywhere,” he tells Thorin now. “Should I…? Did you want a cup of tea?”

Thorin smiles at him. Properly, this time. It’s kind of dazzling. “Yeah,” he says. “I’d like that.”

 

 

Chapter Text

So their pseudo-relationship has sort of evolved and the pseudo part has dropped off. Bilbo has to admit; actually tapping that is far better than pretending to tap that. Bilbo ends up spending more time at Thorin’s place than his own, under the pretence of spending time with his boyfriend. Admittedly, though, it’s only because he has a love affair with Thorin’s spa bath. Smaug hasn’t clawed him in a while now, but that’s probably he now has full prowl of two houses, which has done nothing to tamper down his ego. Pets should not have egos the way Smaug does. But Bilbo’s fairly certain Smaug thinks he’s a mountain lion or something, so… delusions of grandeur.

Thorin’s even more of a cuddler now than he was before, although he still doesn’t understand why Bilbo finds it so hilarious. Bilbo just rolls his eyes and tells him he’ll understand one day. Bilbo doesn’t think he’ll ever get it, but he’s not about to dishearten him by saying such things. But they’ve got all the time in the world now, so maybe Bilbo will be proved wrong.

And they have. Got all the time in the world, he means. Because Thorin’s not going to be able to get rid of him now. When he tells Thorin as much, he just smiles. “What a pity,” he tells Bilbo. “I suppose I’ll just have to put up with you forever, then.”

That doesn’t sound like such a bad thing.