Pairing/Characters: Ori, Dwalin, Ruan (OMC), Balin; Ori/Dwalin
Fandom: The Hobbit
Word Count: 1,511
Spoilers: Not really.
Summary: Getting to know you, getting to know ALL about you...
Notes/Warnings: Continuation of the coffee shop!au. Backstory time! No beta.
"So, how did you two meet?" Ruan asked once they'd settled in the sitting room with drinks: coffee for Ori and Dwalin, soda for Ruan.
Ori fidgeted with his mug for a moment before deciding it was time Dwalin knew. Quietly, staring into his mug, he said, "Last fall, I'd started a Master of Arts in English with an emphasis on literature. Except I hadn't filled out a form right or something and I lost my financial aid. I couldn't pay for my classes on my own, so I was kicked out of the program. I'd been working on-campus in the library with an eye on becoming a teacher's aid, so I lost my job at the same time."
"Oh, Ori." Dwalin's voice was soft and sympathetic, a big, warm hand squeezing his knee. "No wonder you were so damn skinny."
He nodded jerkily, not daring to look up yet. If he did, he might lose his nerve. "I'd been taught to save as much as I could, so I had a fair amount tucked away in my savings account, though it hadn't been enough to pay my school fees. I stretched it as much as I could, selling things online, pawning others, and cutting down on my utilities as much as possible. The whole time, I searched for a job. I went to several interviews, but none of them panned out. Christmas helped somewhat because I told Dori it'd be easier to just give me money and I'd use it to buy my gifts. Instead, I used it to make my funds last a little longer." He covered Dwalin's hand with his own now, squeezing lightly. "Then I stumbled into Durinson's Coffee to get in out of the rain. That's when I met Dwalin. A week later, Thorin hired me."
"C'mere." Dwalin took Ori's coffee from him and set it aside. Then he pulled Ori into a tight, almost-bruising hug. He hugged back, gently rubbing Dwalin's back. He could only imagine how upsetting it must be for Dwalin to hear the whole story.
Ori murmured in Dwalin's ear, "I'd planned to go to Dori the day you offered me the job. If Thorin hadn't hired me, I would have."
"Glad for that," he whispered hoarsely.
After a few more minutes, Dwalin reluctantly released Ori and they both sat back. Ruan had his cell phone out, tapping the screen rapidly. He finished whatever he was doing and slipped it back into his pocket. Looking at Ori, he asked, "So Mr. Dori and Mr. Nori are your brothers?"
"Yes, they are." Ori sipped his coffee, not surprised that Ruan had met them already, especially Dori. He had no doubt his oldest brother had been by a few times since the boy had moved in. "They've been pretty much my only family since our mother died, until Thorin hired me."
Ruan's gaze seemed to sharpen at that, his relaxed sprawl becoming more alert. He glanced at his father, and then back at Ori. "How old were you when your mother died?"
"Ten." Ori remembered the way his brothers had held his hands during the funeral service and how he couldn't seem to stop crying, even though he'd felt like such a crybaby for it.
Though it was clear the teenager had another question ready, he seemed to hesitate to ask it. Finally, he gave voice to it, "Did your dad take you in?"
Ori shook his head. "No. I never knew my dad. None of us did. Dori turned eighteen a year after Mom died and pretty much raised us on his own."
"I think he did a bang-up job of it," Dwalin offered, kissing Ori's temple.
He smiled, leaning into his warmth. This companionship had been one of the things he'd missed the most. "Thanks, Dwalin. He'd disagree with you because of how Nori turned out, but he'd have turned out that way even if Mom had lived."
"I like Mr. Nori," Ruan interjected then, a bright smile on his face. "He can do some really neat tricks with balls and stuff."
Ori smiled, knowing exactly what Ruan meant. "Oh, you mean something like this?" He flicked his wrist to produce one of the red foam balls he always kept on him.
"Whoa." Ruan stared at his hand with wide eyes. "Yes, that's it!"
He flicked his wrist again, producing a second ball. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Dwalin watching with a fond smile as he entertained Ruan with a few more of the tricks Nori had taught him.
Though Dwalin and Ruan both asked him to stay, Ori went home after dinner. "We still have things to work out and my staying won't help."
Much as he'd have preferred to have Ori in his arms, Dwalin knew he was right. After saying good-bye to him, Dwalin returned to the sitting room to find Ruan sprawled across the couch, doing something on his phone. Shifting Ruan's feet so he could sit down, Dwalin asked, "What do you think of Ori?"
"I like him." Ruan didn't take his eyes off his phone at first, though he didn't protest Dwalin moving his feet. "He seems like a cool guy and has a good head on his shoulders."
Dwalin raised his eyebrow, amused. "Really? A good head on his shoulders? That's the best you can come up with?"
"It's true." He finished whatever he was doing on his phone and tucked it into his pocket. "Especially compared to Mr. Nori or Kíli."
He gave a soft huff of laughter. "I don't know Nori's story, but Kíli's too much like Frerin. Though he has his moments."
"I'll take your word for it." It took some squirming, but Ruan managed to shift into a sitting position. "I haven't seen it for myself yet."
Dwalin nodded and ruffled his son's hair. He batted half-heartedly at the offending hand. "You show more sense than Kíli, to tell the true. Any idea why that is?"
"You remember Mom, right?" Ruan gave him a dry look. "Very light-hearted and easygoing? One of us had to be responsible and it wasn't her."
He slid his arm down to circle his son's shoulders, squeezing gently. "I'll take care of you now. Enjoy being a teenager while you can."
Ruan leaned into him and asked the question he'd been waiting to hear since he first met his son. "Why didn't you marry Mom?"
"We talked about it, when we were both still in high school." Dwalin's voice was gruff, despite his preparation. "Then I enlisted in the Army right after I graduated and Lana didn't want to continue the relationship. I'd likely be overseas for long periods of time and getting shot at and that would hurt her too much. So we agreed to part ways."
He let go when Ruan shifted to look up at him. "That was kind of selfish of her, wanting out because she might have to grieve for you."
"We loved each other, but we weren't in love." He didn't take offense at his son's words, trying to see things from his point of view. "I knew, if I forced the issue, she'd stay with me, but she wouldn't be happy anymore, and that's what I wanted for her, more than anything. Even if it meant we remained just friends."
Ruan folded his arms across his chest in a familiar gesture. "Did you two even try to stay in touch at least? I know you hadn't heard from her in years."
"Yes, we did." Dwalin nodded, relaxing back against the couch. "We talked on the phone and exchanged e-mails, but we drifted apart. By the time my enlistment was up, she'd moved away and I was too caught up in trying to re-adjust to civilian life to try to find her. By the time I got my head on straight, with help from Balin and Thorin, I had no idea where to start looking for her, so I just let her go. Part of me will always love her, but that's long gone now."
Giving an annoyed grunt, Ruan stood up and glared down at Dwalin. "I wish you hadn't given up on her. I think she loved you more than you give her credit for. She never married. I think part of her hoped you'd come looking for her."
"She didn't want to stay together, I respected that." He stood up, towering over his son. "If she'd changed her mind, she knew how to find me."
Ruan shoved him, but he'd yet to grow into his adult size and strength, so it did little good. "You were both idiots, then. Pining for each other, but not doing anything about it."
Before Dwalin could reply, Ruan stormed out of the room and to his bedroom, slamming the door behind him. Balin poked his head into the room from the kitchen. "I wondered when he'd finally start acting like a teenager."
Dwalin flipped him off and stormed off to his own bedroom.