The Cottage in the Woods

Recipient: apple_pi
Author: not_a_lamb
Pairing: Dom/Billy
Rating: PG-13
Warnings: AU, crack!fic, inter-species lovin'.
Summary: Story idea taken from TTT commentary
Author's Notes: This is also for slashfairy, without whom I would be lost


BB: "I think people do love trees, that's the thing is... whether you climbed them when you were younger or, you know, you just like walking in the forest."
DM: "Or your dad's a woodcutter."
BB: "Then that would be bad." -- Billy and Dom, TTT commentary.

Act One: In which Viggo is ecstatic, Billy is bummed, and a walk in the forest leads to a welcome surprise.

Billy was exhilarated. The sky was blue above him. A cool breeze brushed through his ginger locks. Summer was here. He'd had to finish the year at a high school after they'd moved here in the spring, and he'd never felt quite at home. Today though, school was finished.

As he walked up the dusty lane toward the cottage where he and his Uncle Viggo were living, he felt an utter sense of freedom. Uncle Viggo had become almost like a father to him, taking care of Billy since his parents' death seven years ago. Closing his eyes, Billy felt the sun on his skin. The trees were tall and majestic as they whispered around him. He was almost glad that their little family had transplanted itself into this old forest on the edge of the city. It wasn't home, but it was pleasant.

The move had been his uncle's idea. Finally taking Billy away from the city where he had grown up, the one that was full of memories of his parents' illnesses. Yeah, Uncle Vig was a good man, a caring man, looking after Billy and caring about living things in general.

With one exception: see, Uncle Viggo was a woodcutter. This distressed Billy to no end. Billy loved trees. He loved the woods. He'd developed a special fondness for the ones around the cottage. It pained him to know that those would be some of the first to go.

The screen door flapped closed behind him, as Billy entered the cottage. He set his backpack down by the kitchen table and called, "Viggo, I'm home!"

"In the back," came the reply.

Uncle Viggo was a strong man, not bulky like so many woodcutters, but solid. Today he was stretched out in the shade with a smile on his face as he chomped happily on an apple. Since the move, Viggo had been rather down, surrounded by forest yet unable to work. Today something was different though, he was absolutely glowing.

"What?" Billy asked.

"What what?"

"You're giddy. Spill."

Viggo chuckled. "You're never going to guess."

As Billy watched his uncle take a shockingly juicy bite out of his apple, an idea struck. "Your license came."

Viggo visibly deflated. "Way to ruin my fun there Bill."

Billy frowned and muttered, "Sorry."

"'S okay. The mood I'm in, nothing can bother me."

Billy sighed. It wasn't that he begrudged his uncle a livelihood, but Billy loved the forests. Now that Viggo's felling license had arrived, he knew from experience that the house would be filled with Viggo's cheerful rendition of "The Lumberjack Song" and the garden would be full of the sound of majestic trees meeting their untimely end. Billy sighed again.

Viggo raised an eyebrow. "What is it?"

"Nothing," Billy said, "I thing I'll go for a walk in the woods if that's okay." To say goodbye, he thought.

"Yeah, that's fine," Viggo smiled, "just be home by supper."

Billy nodded and strode toward the tree line.


Billy inhaled the scent of the forest. Musty and cozy and green. The ground gave slightly below his feet and he could hear birds fluttering and squirrels scampering. He felt at peace. Billy closed his emerald eyes and shook his head slightly. Soon this would be gone.

"Oh forest, I'm going to miss you when you're gone. Why can't you just stay as you are?" Billy quested, his voice full of misery.

A throat cleared. Billy's eyes snapped open and he glanced around. Seeing no one he realized he must have been imagining things.

"And where is it going?" came a deep raspy voice.

Billy's eyes shot about again. "I'm losing my mind," he muttered, "this whole thing's got me hearing voices."

Another clearing of throat. "Up here."

Billy's eyes raked upward, following the voice and landed on the most beautiful thing that Billy had ever seen. A cedar tree stretched up from the forest floor and disappeared into the canopy. Its bark was white and luminous; its limbs were lanky and of a slightly odd shape. But what really caught Billy's attention were its eyes, deep with blue. Wait a minute, its eyes? Billy thought and jumped back startled from the tree.

"What the bloody hell?" he stammered.

The trees branches seems to sway softly. "Shhh," it soothed, "It's all right, little human. Do not panic."

Billy's heart rate slowed a bit. Whatever it was, it seemed rather kind. "What are you?" he asked with wide eyes.

"I am an Ent. A shepherd of the forest." The tree--Ent, Billy corrected himself--smiled.

Billy found himself at a loss for words. He fell back on manners and propriety, saying, "I'm Billy Boyd. Pleased to meet you."

A great hand reached down to take the Scot's comparatively tiny hand. "There are some who call me..." The Ent paused, as though he had forgotten his name.

"Timm?" Billy chortled.

With an odd look at Billy, the Ent let out a mighty breath. It carried on it one word, "Dominic."

Billy blinked. It was a perfect name for such a creature. "Dominic," he said softly to himself. "Beautiful."

Dominic chuckled. "Why thank you, Billy. I don't mind it myself."

Billy ran a hand over the soft smooth bark along Dominic's trunk. "You're perfect, " he whispered reverently, his eyes full of longing.

When he looked up, Billy caught a twinkle in the Ent's eye and a blush on his cheek. "I quite fancy you as well, little human. I quite fancy you as well."

Act Two: In which a plan is concocted, a night is spent, and star-crossed love ensues.

Billy missed supper that night. In fact, he didn't make it home that night, full stop. Instead, Billy spent the evening--and quite a bit of the night as well--curled up in Dom's roots, stroking his bark, and talking. Dom, as the Ent had asked Billy to call him, told the young man about his life as a sapling and growing up in the forest, about watching younger trees take root and begin their own lives. Billy was transfixed.

Billy felt so at home, as though he had known the Ent all his life. He gazed up at Dom with peace and comfort and love in his eyes. But when Dom's talk turned to the tiny details that he loved in his home, Billy's expression changed.

"What is it?" Dom asked, with a crinkling of the bark above his eyes.

Billy was ashamed; he just couldn't tell Dom about his uncle's plan. "Trust me. You don't want to know," he muttered.

Reaching down, Dom stroked his thumb across Billy's tiny brow, "If it upsets you, I want to try and make it better."

"You can't make it better." Billy's voice had risen slightly in pitch.

"C'mon, try me," Dom prodded.

"Fine," Billy grumbled, "My uncle is going to chop down the forest. He got his bloody felling license today. Happy now?"

The old Ent picked Billy up in his palm.

"No. I'm not happy," he whispered looking Billy in the eyes.

Billy blushed. "Sorry," Billy looked away, "It's just really getting to me, you know?"

Rich white lips were pursed together. "There must be something to be done," Dom said.

"I don't see what," Billy said sadly.

After a pause, Dom's branches started shivering with delight. "I think you should bring him to me."

"What?" came Billy's startled reply.

"Yes," the Ent nodded, "You should bring him to me and I'll make him see the forest properly. I don't think that anyone could know the forest and still cut it down. Do you?"

Billy pushed himself up on his tiptoes and kissed Dom's cheek. The bark was cool and smooth beneath his lips, even smoother than his trunk. Billy smiled.

"I know I couldn't hurt the forest especially since I've only just found you."

Dom looked away shyly. Can a tree be shy? Billy wondered. But he quite liked seeing Dom this way.

"I've only just found you," he repeated softly, stoking Dom's neck.

A shiver seemed to run through Dom as he turned to face the young Scot. "And I've only just found you, my little one."

Billy pressed his lips against Dom's in earnest. Dom leaned in quite happily and allowed himself to be kissed.

"I think I love you, Dominic," Billy breathed against Dom's lips.

"I just might love you too, Billy," Dom sighed, placing Billy on the ground beside him. "Sleep with me tonight?"

A fierce blush overcame Billy. "Uh, well, I just...well, how would we... It's not that I don't-- I've just never-- and you're a tree, or an Ent, I guess... Just, where... I mean... How?"

A resonant chuckle put an end to Billy's sputtering. "Billy, my love, I only meant would you sleep in my roots, resting against me. The other's much too complicated and rather premature, don't you think? Besides, I wouldn't like to think that you're just after my bark." Another titter of laughter and Billy couldn't help but laugh a little too, his nervousness diminishing.

Silence fell again as Dom's and Billy's eyes came to rest upon each other's.

"So, would you?" Dom said almost shyly.

Billy's face broke into a smile. "Oh Dommie, I don't think I could ever say no to you."

Billy spent that night curled up between Dom's roots. Before drifting to sleep, several things ran through his mind. Not the least of them was: I'm in love with a tree, ok an Ent, but still. Billy had known that he was gay since he was a kid, so it wasn't that aspect of it. It wasn't that he was in love with another fellow that bothered him at all, but rather that his fellow had branches and roots and a trunk.

Just, yeah, this was not anywhere near what he'd expected when he'd dreamt of falling in love. Not even in the same galaxy. But he loved Dom all the same. Snuggling deeper into the smooth pale bark, Billy closed his eyes and allowed sleep to take him.

Act Three: In which Billy gets a talking to, Viggo is unimpressed, and hearts are heavy.

Billy had intended to wake early and sneak home before the sun or his uncle rose. So, when he awoke to the warmth of sun rays dressing his body, he was understandably alarmed.

"Oh god! Oh god oh god oh god!"

Billy heard a giggle from above him (could Ents giggle?), and looked up to meet Dom's merry gaze.

"Don't worry about it," said Dom earnestly.

Don't worry about it? How could Billy not worry about it Viggo was going to kill him! Billy raised his eyebrows and glared at Dom.

"It's not a big deal, anyway," the Ent continued, "You can just call me Dom."

Billy groaned and gently knocked his head into Dom's trunk.

"You really think this was the best time for that joke? It's not even funny, Dominic," Billy's voice was harsh, but his eyes glittered softly.

"Trust me," Dom smiled, "I've heard it many more times than you, but I always chuckle nonetheless."

"You are a sad, sad guy," Billy said, shaking his head slowly with his lips pursed.

A bark of laughter escaped Dominic. "Right you are, little Billy. But don't you have somewhere to be?" Dom arched an eyebrow. "Oh shit!" Billy moaned as he remembered his predicament. His mind had gotten wrapped up in Dom and conveniently forgotten his Uncle Viggo's wrath. He kissed Dom's trunk quickly and hurried off through the trees.


As Billy approached the house, he could only hope--how ever unlikely--that his Uncle Viggo was still in bed. It seemed like it was at least eight or nine though, so he doubted his chances. As he had feared, Viggo was sitting at the kitchen table, in clear view of the sliding glass door. When Billy entered it, Viggo's head shot up. With wide eyes he got to his feet.

"And just where the hell have you been?" he shouted, "I was this close to calling the police!" He indicated a teensy little space between his thumb and forefinger. "You've had me worried out of my mind! I woke up this morning and went to check on you since I didn't see you before bed last night. And empty! Your goddamn bed was empty!" He gesticulated wildly as he spoke, leaving Billy speechless.

After a long second of silence, Viggo shouted, "Well!"

Billy gulped down the lump in his throat and staring at his uncle's feet, he sputtered.

"Well." He said, blushing, " I'm sorry alright! I won't do it again, I promise. I just, well I just lost track of time."

"You lost track of time." Viggo replied, still livid.

"Well, you see, that is to say," Billy was genuinely baffled as to where to begin. He decided on the beginning. "Okay, so you know how I went for a walk in the woods?" He continued without waiting for a response. "Well, I kind of got carried away. I found this tree, you see... " He winced inwardly at calling Dom a tree when he was so much more, especially to Billy. "...the most beautiful tree, actually the most beautiful anything, that I've ever seen. Absolutely incredible. And I guess time just got away from me. When I realized the sun had gone down a while earlier, I decided not to try and find my way back in the dark. So, I laid down at the foot of the tree--amazingly comfortable actually--and went to sleep. I'd meant to come home before the sun got up. You know, so you wouldn't worry, but when I awoke the sun was already up and seemed like it had been for a while. So I hurried back home as quickly as I could and here I am," he finished breathlessly.

Billy finally met Viggo's eyes and was surprised to see bafflement in them.

"You slept in roots?" Viggo asked, his eyebrows riding high on his forehead.

"Um, yeah." Billy blushed and hoped Viggo wouldn't pick up on it.

"And this tree's the most beautiful thing you've ever seen."

"Absolutely," Billy replied without hesitation.

"You know a tree's a tree. Right?"

"But it's not just a tree! He--it's special. Amazing, actually." Billy realized that this was his chance. "Actually," he continued, "I'd really like to show it too you. Prove to you that it's special. Could I?"

Viggo laughed. "You want to show me your special tree?" His eyes glowed with mirth.

"Yeah," Billy answered abashedly. "Could I?" he asked again.

"Sure Bill. What the hell. After breakfast we'll go and you can show me your special tree." Viggo chortled. "But you need to eat something. You missed dinner last night. It won't do for you to miss breakfast as well. The tree will still be there when you're through."

Billy agreed and they ate a quiet breakfast together, Viggo reading the newspaper and Billy thinking about Dominic. When the table was cleared and the dishes cleaned, the two set out. Billy pulled Viggo along by his hand, attempting to hurry his uncle's resolvedly relaxed pace.

"Can't we go just a little faster Vig? Please?" Billy pled.

Indulging his nephew, Viggo quickened his pace. He didn't know what Billy was on about. It wasn't like this tree was going anywhere. Well, except onto the lumber truck. But even that wouldn't happen for a while yet.

The closer they got to Dom, the more tense Billy became. Would Dom be able to convince Viggo not to cut down the forest? What if he couldn't? What would happen to Dom? Billy couldn't lose Dom now. He knew that it had been less than a day since they met, but he was in love. He couldn't help it. He didn't know how he'd go on without his one true love. Billy sighed.


As Dom heard Billy and his uncle approaching, he took a deep breath. He'd never met a woodcutter before and he had little desire to provoke his wrath. Yes, this was going to be careful work.

When Dom saw Billy and a man who he assumed to be Viggo enter the clearing, he tensed.

"So where is that magic tree of yours?" Viggo inquired.

"Right there." Billy pointed.

"I don't see what's so special about it. A tree's a tree, Billy." Viggo looked the tree over. "I mean it's got nice pale bark, long branches, stormy eyes, but that nose is hideous. Seriously." he stopped. Looked back up at Dominic. Blinked. "Holy shit!"

Billy smiled and patted him on the back. "I had pretty much the same reaction. It's fine. This is Dominic. He's an Ent and also," Billy blushed, "my boyfriend." Viggo didn't even know where to start. He took a deep breath.

"Let me get this straight. The tree has a face. The tree is named Dominic. Dominic is your boyfriend. Did I miss anything?" Viggo spoke carefully, as though Billy had suddenly developed a learning disability. Or lost my mind, Billy thought, Probably that one then.

Dom extended a mighty hand, "It's a pleasure to meet you, sir." Looking up with widened eyes at the Ent, Viggo took the proffered hand (if only the pinky) and replied, "You too." He seemed to be in a daze, maybe in shock.

"Have a seat on my roots. Billy and I have some things we'd like to share with you," Dom said.

Viggo seemed to come back to the land of the living as Billy urged him toward Dom's roots. "Okay then," he murmured. "What kinds of things?"

Billy smiled. "We thought we'd talk to you about cutting down the forest," he said simply.

Viggo perked up, "Now there's one of my favourite conversations!"

"About not cutting down the forest," Dom interjected.

Viggo deflated. "Oh," he pouted, "let's get on with it then."

Over the next several hours, Dom and Billy talked about the forest, the animals, the trees, even the eco-system. None of it seemed to lessen Viggo's determination to chop it down. At one point, he launched into an ear-piercing rendition of "Circle of Life." It was an exercise in futility. For every earth-friendly story, every biography of a tree, Viggo would site his reason for being a woodcutter, most of them economic. This was what he did. This was what he had always done. He needed to put food on the table. To feed Billy, he pointed out. They didn't move to the forest to fawn over its beauty.

"Somebody's got to be the man here, and it looks like it's going to be me. Your stories are nice for campfires, but I have real life concern to deal with. Neither of you have to negotiate these sort of things, so I'll understand if you're upset about it. Nevertheless, I start felling trees next week."

And that was that. Billy and Dom could argue until they were blue in the face. They both knew nothing would change his mind.

With a kiss to Dom's bark and a heavy heart, Billy set off back home.

Part four: In which Billy is upset, Dom is modified , and Viggo is persuaded.

When Billy woke up the next morning, he was heavy with worry. He dragged himself to the kitchen for some porridge and juice, his body as sluggish as his hope. Dom was going to die. At this point, that was his only care. The Ent of his heart was going to die. Billy closed his eyes for a minute, overwhelmed by emotion. This couldn't be. There had to be something. There had to be something to be done about it. But Billy knew that he was grasping at straws.

As he rinsed out his bowl and glass, Billy saw a stranger in the yard. His uncle appeared soon after, but Billy's curiosity was piqued. He hurried out into the yard.

"Uncle Viggo?" the young man called as he approached.

Viggo turned, "Ah Billy. Here's somebody I want you to meet." The man turned to face Billy. His features were sharp and his lips thin. The man's eyes shone with something that made Billy uncomfortable. "This is Victor Wiltersin, a new work colleague of mine. This is my nephew Billy, Vic." Billy briefly shook Victor's hand, letting go as soon as was possible with good manners. Viggo continued, "We've just been surveying the forest, trying to figure out the best place to start cutting."

The words were so nonchalant that Billy almost missed their meaning. His hands balled into fists. Tears began in his eyes.

"Oh were you?" He hissed at his uncle, "Why don't you just start with Dom?" he shouted, before racing off into the forest, leaving behind a frustrated Viggo and a dumbstruck Vic.


By the time Billy arrived in Dom's clearing he was both breathless and sobbing.

"My little Billy," Dominic called, "what's wrong, love?"

Through his gasping sobs, Billy managed, "He's it's nothing...he's just going to...and this fuckwit...they're just standing there...planning how to kill you!" Billy clung to Dom's trunk, letting his tears slide down the pale bark.

Dom gently stroked Billy's back and hair with his thumb. "Shhh..." he soothed, "Shhh...It's going to be alright."

Billy's breathing slowed and he looked up into Dom's smoky blue eyes. "It's just, Dom I don't see how this ends up alright," he spoke softly, tears still running down his cheeks. "I've looked and looked for it. Run a thousand possibilities over in my head. I just can't figure it out."

"Me either Billy, but it will be okay," Dom whispered as he picked Billy up to look him in the eye, "As long as you're here with me, everything will be okay."

Billy leaned forward and kissed Dom through his tears. "I love you so much, Dom. I love you." He kissed Dom again, the movement fueled by need. He needed to feel Dom, needed to know that, right now, Dom was with him, needing him in return.

"I love you too," Dom breathed, "with all my heart. All I want is to be with you, to have you beside me forever."

Billy cried harder. "Me too. I want that too, Dommie. So much."

Dom held him closer.

Viggo emerged from the trees, silently weeping tears of his own. "That's so beautiful," he said, quietly.

Dom and Billy's heads turned. Dom set Billy down and, with a tiny push, encouraged his love to approach his uncle.

"What are you doing here, Uncle Viggo?" Billy asked as he fought to still his tears.

Viggo was fighting a similar battle. "I followed you. Just to make sure you were okay," he added quickly, "You and Dom, you're so beautiful together." Despite his efforts, he began to cry once again.

Billy was about to respond when he heard Dom cry out. As he turned, he saw a stab of lightening hit Dom's head, splitting him in two.

"NO!" Billy called, running toward his love.

Another bolt of lightening fell, shattering what was left of the Ent. Billy stood in shock, whispering Dom's name over and over as his uncle encircled him in his arms. Sobs began to wrack Billy's fragile body as the smoke disappeared up into the sky, leaving tiny flames to burn the ruins of Dom's body.

It's a strange thing, the effects of shock on a person, Billy was thinking. He could almost see a young man, looking much the way his Dom would have looked, if he were a young man. He had sandy hair--the color of Dom's bark--the same smoky blue eyes, long limbs--like Dom's branches--and that awkward nose that made Dom so perfect in Billy's eyes.

"Billy?" the young man spoke, as if he was testing his voice for the first time. Billy felt Viggo's arms loosen around him and realized that maybe this was actually real.

"Dom?" he whispered, allowing himself to hope.

Dom ran into Billy's arms and kissed him. A flesh and blood Dom.

Billy started to cry again, but this time they were a different kind of tears.

"But how?" he asked, holding Dom tight in his arms. "How?"

"I don't know Billy. I don't have the answer. But maybe someone up there knew that we needed each other, knew the way we love each other, and wanted me to be with you." He kissed Billy again.

"Aw, Dommie. I never took you for such a soft touch," Billy smiled. "However it happened, I'm...I'm so happy, Dom."

They held each other for a long, tender while before they heard Viggo's voice.

"I never knew anything could be as beautiful as the two of you are together," Viggo said, his voice thick with emotion. "I never knew."

Billy and Dom smiled at Viggo. "Well now you know," Billy chirped, kissing the tip of Dominic's nose.

"I've been so wrong," muttered Viggo, "I can't believe how wrong I've been."

"What's he on about?" Dom whispered loudly into Billy's ear.

Viggo laughed and said, "You will live with us Dominic, won't you?"

Dom looked up at Viggo in surprise, "I hadn't really given any thought to it, but that would be amazing, actually." He took Viggo's extended hand, "Thank you very much, Viggo."

Viggo smiled. "It really is my pleasure Dom. The two of you need to be together."

The boys smiled dopily at each other.

"Oh, and Billy?" Viggo continued, "well both of you really, you've changed my mind."

"We've changed your mind?" Billy asked carefully. He thought he understood, but didn't want to push his luck.

"I can't cut down trees after this. I just can't. Now, I don't know what we're going to do for money," he stated, "but it's not this. There has to be a better way."

Billy and Dom both threw themselves at Viggo, knocking him down as they hugged and laughed and bounced merrily.

Together, the three of them finally gathered themselves and started back toward the cottage, Dom holding Billy's hand and Billy holding Viggo's. Everything was going to be alright after all.

Epilogue--In which decisions are made, Viggo is taught, and new things are created.

Months turned into years and life was good. Viggo found another way to make money--in fact, it also allowed Billy and Dom to stay at the cottage well after adulthood. They'd created a preserve.

School children, families, couples, all types came to tour their woods. Dom was the natural guide of these tours (although Viggo had taken a shine to the job and learned everything that Dom would teach him). Billy taught children the pleasures of trees--teaching them how to build tree houses and climb trees. Viggo--surprisingly--had begun conducting art therapy with seniors and the disabled. Life was complete.

Except for one thing. Billy and Dom knew something was missing. They had a home, they had each other, they had satisfying work. It just took them a while to figure out what that something was. Looking down at his beautiful baby girl, Billy understood a different type of love. She had Dom's shaggy hair and pale creamy skin as well as Billy's emerald eyes. He kissed her forehead.

Kate, a frequenter of the preserve, had been a natural choice for the two of them. Physically, she was Dom's parallel --pale skin and hair, stormy blue eyes, long, slightly awkward limbs. Everything but the nose--which Dom thought an upside, but Billy counted as a loss. And a lovely woman besides. Quick to laugh, awed by nature's beauty, and eager to learn about and save the forest, she had encapsulated everything Billy and Dom had hoped for in a surrogate. The three of them had grown exceedingly close as the Amy came to term. Now she was like part of the family and spent many days with Baby Amy and her fathers.

Looking down at their baby girl, Billy smiled. The cottage had become home for him. Dom. Dom was home for him. Dom and Amy. And Uncle Viggo, now as caring in action as he had always been at heart. They had come a long way. The road spread on before them, no end in sight. Billy's heart filled with joy. It had been the best thing, in the end, coming to live in the cottage in the woods.


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