Andy had plans for his fifth wedding anniversary with Thomas. They would have dinner together. There would be sex in the living room on the sheepskin rug. Then they would to go bed and have more sex before falling asleep in each other’s arms. Their previous anniversaries hadn’t been special but by God, this one would be.
Unfortunately, fate had other plans for Andy and Thomas. Dinner was abandoned when Thomas came home injured. Their quick trip to get him treatment turned in a desperate struggle to survive when Black attacked the city. The only thing Andy had to cling to was his determination to get Thomas to medical care no matter what it took.
Anniversary is an exciting romantic adventure set in the Debts to Recover verse.
Andy hummed as he finished the final touches for the evening. The curtains were firmly closed, giving their roomy condo a quiet intimate feel. It also made the room significantly warmer than normal which was a good idea. Even though they were still in the last stages of summer’s heat the condo’s air conditioning system was efficient enough that it was normally cold inside. Hopefully, if Thomas agreed, they would spend the rest of the night naked together. Warmer would be better for that.
He’d pushed the couch back against the west wall in the living room area and their armchairs up against the opposite wall by the sound system that was currently playing quiet classical music. That left a huge expanse of space open for his plans. The big fluffy sheepskin rug made a lovely base to work from. Their coffee table now held three whips, two floggers and all four of their canes.
Now all he had to do was get their dinner out of the oven and they could have a properly romantic anniversary night. After four years of nothing much special happening Andy thought that taking charge of the night’s activities might be okay. Hopefully.
Thomas was certainly the Dom in their relationship but he’d said over and over that he appreciated it when Andy took charge of the details on things like this. It was still a bit… nervous-making to do this though. Andy much preferred to have someone else giving the orders. Outlines of orders would be enough but he didn’t have even that much tonight. Just a hope for something special on their anniversary and a prayer that Thomas would appreciate it.
“God, I hope he doesn’t get mad,” Andy groaned. “I just… want it to be special.”
He shook his head as he checked on their roast chicken. It looked very close to done. The rolls were just about perfect too. He’d already gotten the corn cooked and buttered. A quick zap in the microwave and that would be steaming. The apple pie was perfect and already waiting in the fridge. Thomas’ favorite French vanilla ice cream sat in the freezer, too. Andy was ready for anything tonight. Probably.
“Home…” Thomas called from the front door.
“Hey!” Andy called back, shutting the oven and hurrying around the fridge only to stop dead in his tracks. “What happened?”
Thomas winced. His bottom lip was split and a huge bruise covered his left cheek. His glasses looked bent, just slightly, or at least Thomas wasn’t wearing them squarely on his head. His jacket had mud on it, too, something that Andy hadn’t ever seen. Horrifyingly, Andy could see footprints on his jacket.
“There was… a problem,” Thomas sighed. “Give me hand? My ribs are killing me.”
“Did you get beaten up?” Andy asked as he knelt and untied Thomas’ shoes.
“No, there was this girl at the station at Fourth and Vine. She was getting harassed really badly,” Thomas said. He leaned one hand on Andy’s shoulder, putting enough weight that Andy had to stiffen his back not to sag under it. “The police weren’t doing anything so I did. I got punched, knocked down briefly, and the cops tried to blame her and then me for it. They arrested the idiots after I gave them my business card.”
“This is why you need to stop taking public transportation and get a car,” Andy huffed. “You work for Master Boles. He’d probably recommend a good armored car dealer. I know that you could get a credit for one and we have a parking space available. It came with the condo.”
Thomas smiled ever so faintly but he shook his head no. That was a battle that Andy wasn’t going to win no matter what so he let it go. Along with his elaborate plans for the evening. So much for all his ideas of dinner and then a beating and making love on the sheepskin rug.
When Andy smiled ruefully Thomas frowned and cupped his cheek.
“What’s wrong?” Thomas asked.
“Well, I sort of set up a special evening for our anniversary but I don’t think you’re going to be up for the ideas I had,” Andy admitted. “I do have roast chicken, corn, rolls and a very nice apple pie for dinner.”
Thomas blinked several times very rapidly. He straightened up and then went to stare into the living room. Andy sighed as he carefully set Thomas’ shoes on their little shoe rack. All that work and it just wasn’t going to happen.
“Wow,” Thomas murmured as Andy moved to stand behind him. “Now I wish I’d just handed the card to the police before getting involved.”
“It could be worse,” Andy said. “I was thinking about putting in the vibrating butt plug around lunch so that I’d be ready for you when you got home.”
“That would be worse,” Thomas laughed so ruefully that Andy couldn’t help but grin. “We really need to take that vacation I’ve been threatening. Get out of town. Go to one of those armored, all-inclusive resorts where we can just play and not have to worry about anything.”
Andy ducked his head to hide his grin at that thought. They’d talked about it endlessly since they got together. He didn’t really think it would happen. While Andy’s work was relatively simple, mostly just filing and data entry, Thomas was fairly highly placed in Master Boles’ business. It was expected that he be on hand whenever there were problems and given Black’s unending attacks, there always seemed to be problems.
“It would be nice,” Andy said with a quick glance towards the oven timer. Still a minute and a half left to go. “Maybe somewhere warm.”
Thomas chuckled. He pulled Andy into his arms for a long hug that wasn’t half long enough but that might have been Andy’s fault. The way Thomas winced for the feeling of Andy’s arms wrapped around his ribcage made Andy feel too bad to cling to him.
“Go pull the chicken,” Thomas whispered against Andy’s lips. “We can still have dinner. Maybe afterwards we can play a little bit. Lightly.”
“Liar,” Andy whispered with a grin. “I felt that wince.”
“Damn it,” Thomas groaned. “Fine. No play time.”
He laughed quietly despite the groan and obvious disappointment in his eyes. Andy laughed as well. There would be another chance, another time. He got the chicken out of the oven, smiling that the thermometer confirmed that it was perfectly done. The corn heated back up perfectly and the rolls had just the right amount of crispiness. It was a simple dinner, a fairly light one all things considered, but it should still be good.
Thomas carved the chicken. His fingers shook a little afterwards which made Andy frown at him. The carving motion shouldn’t have hurt that much. Instead of immediately eating, Andy glowered at Thomas.
“What?” Thomas asked entirely too innocently.
“Let me see those ribs,” Andy demanded.
“I’m fine,” Thomas protested. He went red as Andy continued to glower. “Andy. I’m fine.”
“If we wrap them up I’ll be fine,” Thomas said in his ‘giving orders now’ voice.
“Ribs!” Andy insisted. “Don’t you try and order me around outside of sex, Thomas Loomis. I am your husband and I am not letting you risk your life and health because you feel bad about having gotten beaten up by a bunch of punks. Take that shirt and jacket off or so help me I’m getting the scissors and cutting them off!”
Thomas’ mouth worked a couple of times but nothing came out. He sighed, looking at their steaming dinner with enough hunger that Andy almost relented. But if he really did have broken ribs or worse, internal bleeding, eating would be a terrible idea.
When Andy crossed his arms over his chest Thomas sighed. He grumbled as he stomped into their spacious bedroom with it’s not going to be used tonight padded cross and definitely not going to be used for anything but sleep king size bed.
Andy had to help Thomas take his jacket off. Thomas went white at putting his arms back for Andy to slip the jacket down his arms. He was so slow unbuttoning the shirt that Andy took over only to freeze when he saw the damage.
Thomas’ ribs were covered with bruises. Not just bruises but boot prints that were so distinct that Andy could see the individual tread patterns of three different boots. In one spot along Thomas’ ribs he could even make out the exact curve of the boot’s heel and the size.
“We are going to the hospital right now,” Andy said. His voice came out surprisingly level and calm given that his stomach was churning and his fingers were shaking. Tears had welled up making it hard to see the buttons that Andy now redid.
“I’ll be fine,” Thomas murmured. “Andy. I’ll be fine.”
“I can already see the bruises, Thomas,” Andy replied. “They’re only going to get worse. We’re going to the hospital right now because if we don’t I’ll have screaming nightmares and we’ll end up there anyway for my panic attack.”
“Ah, right,” Thomas said with a tired sigh. “All right. Jacket?”
“It can stay off,” Andy said as he finally got the last button. “Did you file a report with the police?”
Thomas nodded confidently enough that Andy let it go. The police had been there. He’d said so. Knowing Thomas, he’d probably told them that he was fine, that he didn’t need to go to the hospital. Andy swallowed down a little laugh that had more tears in it than anything else.
“What?” Thomas asked so gently that Andy wanted to hit him.
“You didn’t go to the hospital so that you wouldn’t ruin our anniversary dinner,” Andy said. The words barely made it past the lump in his throat.
“Ah, well… yes,” Thomas admitted sheepishly.
His cheeks flushed so brightly that Andy’s half-sob turned into a half-laugh. Andy shook his head, tugging Thomas out of the bedroom and back to the door so that he could help with Thomas’ shoes. At least Andy hadn’t decided to go with a naked dinner. That saved time now.
The smell of dinner cooling in the kitchen prompted Andy to hurry in and cover their plates with foil. Their chicken would still be dry and cold by the time they got back but it wouldn’t be as dry. Hopefully. It hardly mattered, really. What mattered was getting Thomas taken care of.
“Don’t you dare!” Andy scolded when he rounded the refrigerator to see Thomas attempting to put his shoes on without help.
“I could do it,” Thomas grumbled.
“You have no sense,” Andy grumbled right back. “None at all. I swear, sometimes I feel like I’m the one taking care of you, not the other way around.”
Thomas laughed as Andy knelt and helped him put his shoes on. He waited until Andy was done tying the laces before catching Andy’s face in both hands. He deliberately squished Andy’s cheeks, making him pucker up even as Andy glared at him.
The squish turned into a gentle caress that threatened to bring down a storm of tears, at least until Thomas leaned over and kissed Andy gently. He rested his forehead against Andy’s. Thomas chuckled and his breath washed warm over Andy’s lips.
“You do take care of me,” Thomas murmured. “You do a wonderful job taking care of me. I love you, Andy. I always have and I always will. No matter what happens on our anniversary, or on any other day, I’ll always love you.”
“Thank you,” Andy whispered. He took a deep breath and straightened up. “Now quit stalling. We have to get you to the hospital.”
Thomas burst out laughing only to wince and clutch his ribs. He grinned despite the obvious pain. Andy stood and slipped on his shoes. It was still warm enough that they really didn’t need coats. Frankly, Andy could have worn shorts without too much trouble though he wasn’t as confident about his legs as he used to be. Five years of a desk job had added a good bit of weight to his formerly slender frame.
Summer hadn’t faded yet. The hallway outside their apartment was swelteringly hot even though Andy’s pants were very thin and his shirt was as light as possible with their apartment’s air conditioning. Thomas wrapped one arm around Andy’s waist. When Andy looked up at him, unused to such a public display of affection, Thomas’ lips were too tight and there were deep wrinkles between his eyebrows.
“Idiot,” Andy muttered at him. “We’re taking a cab.”
“…I’ll be on the couch if I protest that, won’t I?” Thomas replied. His lips twitched a little with amusement despite the signs of pain.
“For quite a while,” Andy agreed.
The cab, which was blessedly quick in responding to Thomas’ phone call, smelled of faintly alcohol and vomit. There weren’t any obvious stains. The seats weren’t sticky. But it still felt sordid to Andy. Fortunately, the driver had taken one look at Thomas’ arm around his ribs and then at Andy’s face and he’d gone silent. Silence was much easier to deal with than attempts at conversation at this point.
Andy claimed Thomas’ phone once they were in motion. Master Boles’ private hospital was more of a clinic in his mansion but it was still equipped to deal with almost everything short of major heart or brain surgery. He held Thomas’ hand as the cab flew around one corner only to slow down as three heavy black police armored personnel carriers barreled by going the other direction. They didn’t have their lights on so it couldn’t be too urgent.
“State your emergency,” the clinic receptionist said in as bored a tone of voice as Andy had ever heard.
“This is Andy Loomis, Thomas Loomis’ husband,” Andy said. “We’re coming in. Thomas was attacked by some punks on the train. His ribs are severely bruised and need to be checked out.”
“Ah, we got the police report on that one,” the receptionist said with much more interest. “Master Boles already sent out an order that he was to report to the infirmary first thing tomorrow.”
Andy smiled triumphantly at Thomas who just rolled his eyes. He was sweating now which frightened Andy. The cab picked up speed again, thank goodness.
“Any other signs of problems?” the receptionist asked.
“Um, he’s very pale and has started to sweat,” Andy said. “We’re in a cab. We should be there in a minute or two.”
“Good, good,” the receptionist said in the midst of a flurry of tapping sounds. She had to be typing something into the computer. “I’ll make sure everyone’s ready for him.”
“Thank you,” Andy said.
He looked ahead of them, peering past the driver and through the car in front of them. The road looked clear. It should only be a minute or two and they’d be there. Andy let out the breath he’d been unconsciously holding. He smiled as Thomas gently squeezed his fingers.
“Uh-oh,” the cab driver muttered.
“What?” Andy and Thomas asked at the same time.
Light and heat exploded around them. Andy screamed as the world, the cab, lurched and tumbled. He felt Thomas’ arms wrap around him but the cab rolled and flung Andy into the bullet-proof glass divider between them and the cab driver. Andy’s head cracked into the glass and then Thomas landed on top of him.
The cab continued to tumble but Andy couldn’t be sure of anything other than pain, stars behind his eyes and the roar of fire expanding everywhere. Something slammed into their tumbling cab and Andy’s head cracked against the window a second time, much harder this time. Everything went black.