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How time and patience got the better of Tom

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Tom glared at the ceiling. If the ceiling had been able to, it would have shrunken back to escape his look full of dissatisfaction and ill-meaning. Since he had been scowling at it for the past few minutes and it had changed nothing of the important facts of his current status – but only some minor, like expanding his heretofore slight headache into a rhythmic pounding, highlighted by the occasional twitching of his left eye – Tom relaxed his features and slumped some more then he already was into his chunky leather armchair in defeat.

It hadn't been the ceiling which had had offended him anyway. It had simply been the first convenient thing to stare down, since he couldn't glower at the actual culprit. Which had been his, heretofore favorite reading chair. An old brown leather armchair, ungainly maybe, but oh so comfortable with matching footstool. One would sink down into it, embraced by the soft, slightly cool upholstery. And right that was the crux of his current dilemma, that he had sunken some inches into his chair. Clearly, Tom hadn't thought things through before sitting down. At least he hadn't considered how he would be getting up again. What with his busted knee and all.

Somewhat exasperated with his lack of foresight, he banged his head against the backrest, once, twice and grimaced. Em had been right after all. He should have settled down on the couch. Getting up from it would have been less of a hassle. Speaking of Emory. His partner would definitely give him the eye. Telegraphing his 'See, didn't I tell you. Ornery asshole.' with something akin to fond exasperation. At least Tom liked to think that there was some fondness added into the mix and not only exasperation. Not that he cared one way or the other. Well, it might be that he had gotten used to having him at his side over the last couple of years – so what?

Anyway, maybe he should call Emory. He should definitely call Emory, shouldn't he? Oh, who was he kidding, of course he should call Em. This were his issues talking once again and he was stalling, just like before. Shit, he was really as bad as Em had told him – repeatedly, it might be added – with that hopefully somewhat fond look at accepting help. Maybe especially at accepting his partner's help. He was still trying to work that one out. 

Okay, so he would call Em, since he had taken two weeks leave for just this reason. To be able to be of assistance where Tom needed it, until he was allowed to put at least some pressure on his knee or got used to handling those fucking crutches without snagging them on every possible, and some previously thought impossible, item in his way. Whichever came first. Well, according to his doc, it would probably be the latter, no matter how unrealistic he himself found the idea of ever being able to navigate those deathtraps. But knee injuries apparently took their sweet time to heal and didn't want any pressure added on their delicate ligaments and bones. Pussies.

To be honest, he still had trouble with believing how he had been injured, in the first place. People's non-believing expressions when he told them didn't exactly make it any easier to come to terms with it. After having served on the force for over 30 years and never having been shot, only to have a kid sent him to the emergency room, yeah, that would have raised anyone's eyebrows. And it wasn't even a teenager. No, it was a kid kid, a prepubescent, eight or nine years old, to boot.

Honestly, it was his own fault. Tom should have known better. Every year he would swear to never go shopping the last handful of days before Christmas again. Fuck the groceries and necessities, that's what online shopping and delivery were for, nowadays. So one wouldn't have to set foot into supermarkets along with all those nutters. Piece of evidence number one: his busted knee.

He still could remember the accident – accident his ass, that little piece of shit had chosen him as his victim, and tried his hand at murder, is what happened. But still, according to the distraught mother, the kid had been just so hyped up about Christmas and all the excitement around him that he got carried away. As in, he had grabbed their shopping cart, started to run up the aisle, picked up as much momentum as possible, zeroed in on Tom and jumped on the rail of the cart only to crash right into Tom as he had turned to all that ruckus.

If that kid wouldn't face vehicular manslaughter charges (at least) as soon as he had his driver's license, Tom would gladly eat that fucking humus shit Em was hounding him about for one month. Come to think of it, maybe the kid would face those charges a lot sooner, never let it be said that the lack of a driver's license stopped people from driving cars. And somehow Tom had an inkling that this kid in particular wouldn't be deterred by not owning a license, let alone a car.

The clanging of cutlery drew him back to the present and his problem.

"Em, could you come here for a moment?" He made sure to keep his voice as relaxed as possible. No reason to worry his partner any more than he already had.

"You alright? Is something wrong?" Even as he was speaking, Em appeared from their kitchen, where he had been working on dinner, to see for himself.

"Well, yeah, course I'm ok. I've been sitting in my armchair all this time. No way to hurt me, right?" Hm, maybe a bit too touchy. "Okay, truth is, I can't get out of this," he banged the armrest with his fist "fucking piece of shit. Lend me a hand?" His rough voice didn't seem to hide his embarrassment sufficiently, if the amused glint in Emory's eyes was anything to by.

"Don't say it, please," he commanded. He didn't whine. That wasn't why Em was chuckling, as he made his way over to where Tom was trapped.

"Say what," asked Em as he started to help him out of his leather monstrosity. "I was going to say that I'll gladly lend you more than just my hand." Tom snorted. The way he was pumped full off painkillers, there was no chance he would get anything up besides the getting up he had just done, and they both knew it. "And, just for the record, I told you so." Em didn't seem to be able to stop himself from tagging on that little pearl of wisdom.

"Well, who am I to rob you of all your pleasures. I know how much you enjoy telling me so." Tom was slightly panting from the effort it took to get him standing up, but he was grinning at Em nonetheless, who was currently steadying him with his strong hands on his waist.

Yeah, Emory was worried about him, and who wouldn't be with a partner with torn ligaments and broken bones, but right at this moment, he was also amused at Tom's antics and his tough guy act. Besides his blinding white smile, the glint in his warm and caring eyes was a dead giveaway. And it had only taken Tom a couple of months to work that one out, after they had started dating. Go him.

"Well," mimicked Emory, "I wouldn't want to rob you of your cussedness, dear."

And the thing was, Tom had long ago worked out that Em really didn't feel any need to change him. He accepted Tom with all his rough edges, loved him anyway and managed to stick around for over a decade now. The way things were going, he probably was going to be there till it really would be death who would have to do the parting. So, he really meant it, when he said he wouldn't want to miss his cussedness.

But the fact was, he was way less bullheaded now, then he had been before they had become a couple. And folks had noticed. A few brave souls at the precinct had even commented about how much easier it was to work with him now. The case in point was, it hadn't been age that had mellowed him.

Because where Tom was stubborn, Em was worse. He was patient. Nearly endlessly and all the fucking time. He had chipped away at Tom's bullheadedness continuously, without even meaning to, really. Maybe he hadn't even noticed, cause they hadn't been partnered up at work since they made their relationship public knowledge, and it appeared he was only reasonable to work with now, not necessarily to live with. Because he still head opinions, like about his armchair, its placement and more importantly, his placement in it, thank you very much.

Come to think of it, maybe he wouldn't have them anymore after another ten years. And evidence indicated so rather strongly. Em and him would then probably discuss inclinations he might have on things. Oh fuck it. Those discussions would still be lengthy arguments for other couples, and he was going to enjoy every second of their special kind of banter.

"Was there any point to this endeavor? Or did you just want a change of perspective?" Em's teasing words stopped his wandering thoughts.

"Well, yeah. I need to use the bathroom." His partner shot him an incredulous look, then snorted. So what if he had spent half an hour staring at the ceiling, talking with said partner and being introspective for once.

"You're ridiculous." Em was smiling at him fondly, before he leaned in for a slow kiss.

He knew that, mostly. What he didn't know was how he had managed to land Emory. Still, he was sure of the both of them he was the lucky one. And that was one opinion Em didn't give him the eye for. Although, he did seem to radiate fond exasperation. He was going to work that one out, too.