Copyright © SE Jakes
(Artwork Copyright Sinfully Sexy – I just borrow it
This is just a vignette that came to me after Monique asked me if Iâ€™d write a Prophet and Tommy Valentineâ€™s Day codaâ€”and for Monique, I will always say yes! The way it came out isnâ€™t typically my style but when my guys talk, I listen and I write. Most of the time, I feel like Iâ€™m just their scribe anyway, which is a position Iâ€™m pretty honored to have. In my mind, this is set before Daylight Again. Before Dirty Deeds #1, too, since they take place during the same timeframe. So figure this is all about a month or two before the above mentioned books.
Happy Valentineâ€™s Day, everyone!
Excuses by SE Jakes
Tom thinks about Valentineâ€™s Day once February hits, mainly because he always sends his Aunt Della flowers and he needs to make sure he keeps track of that. He ponders getting Prophet something, but Tom thinks that Valentineâ€™s Dayâ€™s an excuse, and Proph doesnâ€™t need any excuses. Everyone thinks Prophetâ€™s notoriously bad at romance, like canâ€™t even define the word bad at it. Like doesnâ€™t even know it exists. Blueâ€™s mentioned it, and so has Mick and Doc too. If Tom ever tells them that Prophetâ€™s actually one of the most romantic people he knows, well, Proph will kill him. So Tom keeps it to himself. Besides, maybe no one will believe it anyway, and Tom likes that, likes thinking that he knows Prophet maybe better than most people on the planet. At least parts of him. Or maybe Proph just thinks heâ€™s got everyone fooled, and they all humor him, because he likes it that way. Itâ€™s amazing what Proph lets the people he loves, the people who love him, get away with.
Itâ€™s five days before Valentineâ€™s Day when Tom notices the box. Prophetâ€™s saved the sketchbook Tom gave him for Christmasâ€”thatâ€™s a given. But heâ€™s also got all the printouts of the sketches and the emails Tom sent him when they were separatedâ€”Tom found them in the box on Prophetâ€™s dresser. Itâ€™s not as if Prophet was trying to hide them, because thereâ€™s no top on the box and itâ€™s not a special one or anything. In fact it looks pretty beat up, like somethingâ€™s tried to chew it and Tom canâ€™t tell for sure but it looks like there might be a bullet hole on one side and thereâ€™s definitely sand around it, but that doesnâ€™t stop Proph from stacking the papers in there, not that neatly, along with a picture of Tom that Blue had taken a month ago, when he was concentrating on drawing something or another. He remembers what he was drawingâ€”another dreamcatcher, a different configuration because he needs to get it just right, but heâ€™d been apparently so involved he didnâ€™t notice Blue taking pictures. Prophet had. And now the photograph of Tomâ€™s head bent in the sunlight sits in this box of memories and bulletholes, along with the keys from Tomâ€™s first apartment, where heâ€™d spent maybe a grant total of twenty nights and other odds and ends. Like a movie stub. And handcuffs.
A package from King addressed to Prophet arrives on Valentineâ€™s Day, when Tomâ€™s finally decided to just draw Prophet some more sketches, the way he does all the time anyway. Kingâ€™s present has nothing to do with Valentineâ€™s Dayâ€”not to Kingâ€™s knowledge anyway, as far as Tom knows. And heâ€™s got to admit, the timingâ€™s perfect.
“What the fuckâ€™s this?â€ť Prophet asks, unwraps the gift to find package containing a life-sized blow up alligator, with the card signed, Love, Your bayou friends.
â€śThat is so not fucking funny. The goddamned thing almost killed me,â€ť Prophet says indignantly.
â€śImagine what heâ€™d do if he knew it was your porn,â€ť Tom murmurs innocently. Prophet looks up and glares at him.
â€śYou make it sound so dirty. I feel unclean.â€ť And then heâ€™s looking back at the alligator, frowning. â€śThereâ€™s no duct tape.â€ť Tom reaches into the pocket of his cargoes and pulls out a roll. â€śDid you know King was sending this?â€ť Prophet demands.
â€śNo. Iâ€™m just always prepared now.â€ť Tom knows Prophetâ€™s intrigued. Proph glances at the alligator again, blows it up and then sighs while the large green plastic toy simply sits there, saying, â€śItâ€™s not the same. Thereâ€™s no inherent danger.â€ť
Tom smiles. â€śIâ€™ll give you danger, Proph.â€ť Proph rolls his eyes, but before he can say anything, Tom tackles him to the ground.
â€śYeah, thatâ€™s good, Tommy. That works,â€ť Proph grunts from underneath him, and then groans at the sound of Tom ripping the duct tape. Tom thinks about how most people wouldnâ€™t think fucking while playing alligator isnâ€™t romantic but really, it is, because the damned thingâ€™s so fraught with memoriesâ€”good and not so goodâ€”itâ€™s all a potential landmine and even though the sex is hard and fast, rough and hot, thereâ€™s also tenderness mixed in. Even when Prophet does get controlâ€”because Tom lets himâ€”and slaps his ass more times than Tom can count, thereâ€™s a gentle resonance there, a reminder of what Tom is to him. Mine. Together, theyâ€™re both each otherâ€™s mine.
â€śYou have really sick friends,â€ť Tom tells him later, because King sent the alligator to remind Proph of the time he was left to die in the bayou with alligators surrounding him.
â€śTell me something I donâ€™t know,â€ť Proph says. Heâ€™s lying on his belly, duct tape still half on his wrists where neither manâ€™s bothered to take it off. Hours have passed, because these days, when thereâ€™s time, they take it, like they know that there are days when there might not be. Prophâ€™s got no casts at the moment, but Tommy doesnâ€™t need anything else but Prophetâ€™s skin. Prophâ€™s letting Tom draw on him, and heâ€™s taking his time as he maps out the space almost reverently. Tomâ€™s own newest tattoo is almost healedâ€”a replica of the bracelet Prophet gave him to wear on their first mission together. Tom still wears the actual bracelet over the tattoo, figures that, when the universe is ready, the bracelet will either fall off on its own accord or Tom will find someone to pass it along to, the way it was originally passed onto Prophet. But all Tom cares about is that heâ€™ll always have that goddamned bracelet and what it symbolizes. No oneâ€™s ever taking it from him, or making him take it off, and it doesnâ€™t matter what happens from here. That braceletâ€™s always going to be good luck as it circles his wrist, much in the same way Prophet circles him, in bed, in missionsâ€¦in life.
Now Prophâ€™s asking, â€śWhatâ€™s that?â€ť â€śAnother dreamcatcher.â€ť Proph doesnâ€™t comment, which means he approves. Tom knows the drawing will fade away, but thatâ€™s not the point. Whatâ€™s important is that itâ€™s there now. Tonight. That the inkâ€™s a part of him.
â€śYou think youâ€™ll ever get a tattoo?â€ť Tom asks after a few more minutes. Itâ€™s a topic that always comes up when heâ€™s drawing on the manâ€™s skin, and Proph humors him with the same answers every time. Itâ€™s a ritual, the same way the drawing is. â€śAre you gonna draw it for me?â€ť Proph asks.
â€śThen Iâ€™ll give you a solid maybe.â€ť
â€śI know youâ€™re going to make me do something in return.â€ť
Prophet grins over his shoulder. â€śYep. And you know youâ€™ll love it.â€ť Tom shakes his head, but heâ€™s smiling. He glances at the clock for a brief second, notes itâ€™s nearly midnight.
â€śI know Dellaâ€™s flowers got delivered, but she hasnâ€™t emailed or called. Which isnâ€™t like her.â€ť
â€śMaybe because of who delivered the flowers,â€ť Proph murmurs sleepily.
â€śAre you saying my auntâ€™s having some kind of Valentineâ€™s Day fling with the flower delivery guy? Because thatâ€™s a little sordid, even for you.â€ť
Prophet shifts his body so Tom loses his balance a little. Heâ€™s looking over his shoulder, smiling, but heâ€™s not saying anything.
Itâ€™s not until the next day, when Della does call, that Tom knows exactly what Prophetâ€™s done. How Proph tracked Connor down is a mystery, one Tom knows Proph wonâ€™t reveal, and thatâ€™s okay. Because Tom truly believes there was magic in the man nicknamed Prophet, whoâ€™s barreled into his life and shares his bed, and Tom has no need see beyond the curtain. Instead, Tom will content himself with blow up alligators and finding various things of his saved on Prophâ€™s dresser, with his drawings on Prophâ€™s skin, marking him daily with ink and his tongue and teeth and hands. Before Tom goes to sleep, he notices thereâ€™s a brand new sketchbook Prophâ€™s deliberately left on the table where Tom does a lot of his drawing. And a new roll of duct tape. So yeah, Tom still thinks that Valentineâ€™s Dayâ€™s just an excuseâ€¦and Proph doesnâ€™t need an excuse.