Tom groggily opened his eyes, a sweet yawn involuntarily tearing itself out of his mouth as he felt pleasantly warm and well-rested all over. He slept like a baby last night.
His eyes started to slowly adjust, the sleep slowly seeping out of them, and Tom had to blink in stupefied silence as his brain tried to register what he was seeing.
A mane of long crimson red hair sprouting from his chest area, covering his whole torso...
'Now that I think about it, my chest is a bit heavy...' Tom offhandedly contemplated.
The second he finished that thought, the events of the previous night flashed through his mind, making him intensely blush at how... wild they were.
'Oh my God, that really happened!' Tom inwardly freaked out and a small silly smile spread on his lips as he felt extremely proud of himself for bagging such a gorgeous woman.
He was no longer a virgin, baby!
'Saving myself was totally worth it.' Tom sagely exclaimed in his head, before he deflated as he remembered Natasha's playful teasing from yesterday. 'Despite the teasing... It was worth it.' He inwardly stubbornly mumbled, as if trying to convince himself.
"Mhm, Go back to sleep." Tom was suddenly pulled out of his thoughts when he heard an enchanting sleepy voice and he instantly felt Natasha's arms hug him tighter, her naked body snuggling into his in a search of comforting warmth.
His slight stirring must have woken her up.
Tom helplessly smiled, seeing as Natasha had him in a vice grip. There was no getting up from the bed for him until she decided she no longer required her human pillow.
Sighing a bit, Tom gently put his hand on her head and started to slowly caress her hair while getting again lost in his profound thoughts.
Natasha clearly liked it, considering how she appreciatively hummed and her lips quietly stretched into a pleased smile.
Time slowly passed, Natasha enjoying the last remnants of her beauty sleep while Tom was inwardly lost deep in his research, both enjoying the morning in their own way, satisfied with feeling the presence of the other nearby.
Thirty minutes later, Natasha finally gave up her attempt at going back to sleep and fully opened her eyes. Her vice grip on Tom didn't ease, however, much to his dismay.
She raised her hand and put her chin on his chest, elatedly watching him with her curiously shining green eyes, "What are you thinking about?"
Tom hummed, "It's beautiful."
"What is?" Natasha's smile sluggishly widened.
"Your hair." Tom gently patted her head.
"Do you really think so?" Natasha thoughtfully asked, trying to hide her giddiness, "Then I guess I won't have to dye them."
"Definitely not. I forbid it. In fact, let me add it to your employment contract." Tom joked in a mock-apprehensive tone.
"I have an employment contract?" Natasha raised an eyebrow at that.
But Tom only overly seriously nodded. "Now you do."
That made Natasha blink, making her not know how to properly react. She only managed to let out an abrupt, "Damn."
"Damn right." Tom agreed, satisfied.
The comfortable silence that ensued lasted for a moment but Natasha decided to break it soon enough, "And what are you really thinking about? Without trying to distract me with compliments?" She tilted her head a bit, her hands affectionately rubbing on the sides of Tom's waist.
Tom let out a small laugh, partly because she was tickling him, the female menace, and partly because he found it amusing how she saw through him.
"I meant my compliment, though." He made sure she was aware of that.
"Mhm~, I am sure you did." Natasha hummed, drawing the words out. "I figured out your love for my hair from how much you like to touch them..."
Natasha paused for a moment, enjoying how Tom grew a bit embarrassed at that admission. But she was not yet done with her teasing.
"... you definitely grabbed at them and yanked my head with them enough yesterday night." She purred, making Tom uncomfortably blush.
Natasha looked smug at his reaction and Tom's manly ego revolted when he noticed. Powering through his embarrassment, he moved and before Natasha knew it, she was face to face with Tom, their lips only inches apart.
"Don't act as if you didn't like it." Tom snarked... and claimed her lips, pushing her back deeper into the bed as they started to make out.
They both started to get excited, their bodies becoming hotter as they involuntarily rubbed on each other. Tom could feel his lower parts grow and Natasha could undoubtedly do so too if the sensual way her legs locked behind his back while brushing on his thighs was any indication.
That made him shiver in anticipation almost as much as her eyes full of expectant desire...
But instead of entering her, as she clearly wanted, Tom pulled away, rolling to the side.
Another sex session with her would take hours on end simply because he couldn't get enough of her. She was a... pleasant distraction. But Tom refused to overindulge. Spending time with her was fine but overdoing it was not. His research wouldn't finish itself.
Natasha was disappointed. And a bit pissed at being 'cock-blocked' like this. But she lived with Tom for a few days and already understood his priorities so she wasn't all that surprised.
This... only made the moments where she managed to get him to bed her that much more precious since she couldn't do it whenever she wanted. It was a refreshing feeling, but one that made her pride scream in frustration.
'One of these days I will find out what makes him tick.' She inwardly promised while giving a moody half-glare at the ceiling.
Seeing that his decision to stop himself made his partner grumpy, Tom wryly smiled and decided to appease her a bit.
"I was thinking about how to make us stronger." He said in a straightforward manner, no longer trying to redirect the topic.
As much as it pleased Natasha that he shared his thoughts with her, she was still a bit cross with him.
She mutely nodded in understanding before she pursed her lips, "Us?"
"Yeah. You are mine now." Tom casually spoke as if he was speaking about something as obvious as weather, "Making you stronger will make me stronger." He shrugged.
Natasha blushed a bit at the way he worded it but she couldn't help her small scowl transforming into an involuntary smile. The intention was not dissimilar to her time in SHIELD. They allocated resources to her to make her more effective... but Tom's wording was more intimate and personal. It made her feel happy.
"What brought this up?" She asked, trying to distract herself from these thoughts.
"Something Sarael said." Tom helplessly sighed, hesitating a bit before continuing in a serious tone. "Natalia... humans who are aware of the supernatural like to say that while we are the innately weakest race, we have the most potential."
Natasha once again nodded, intently listening since she had no experience in the supernatural world and couldn't really give a plausible opinion on the matter. Nevertheless, she did hear a similar saying in the mundane world.
Tom derisively snorted as he continued, "That's bullshit. We have the least of both innate power and potential." He deadpanned, making Natasha raise her eyebrow in surprise. That was definitely not what she expected Tom to say.
"Okay?" She distractedly hummed, a bit lost in where this topic was heading. Yet, she couldn't help but feel a bit amused at Tom's blunt words.
"Let's talk about the physical capabilities and compare devils and humans." Tom chuckled at her surprise before he continued to elaborate, "Even the lowest of low-class devils can match peak human athletes."
He dropped a bomb and Natasha's amusement abruptly evaporated into thin air. She instantly realized what kind of threat devils really were to humans if even the weakest of them was born physically stronger than what a dedicated mundane human could achieve in a lifetime of trying.
She herself was one of those dedicated mundane humans, after all, and being told this made her feel like shit.
"Of course, there are various techniques and enhancements that Church exorcists use to battle supernatural threats." Tom continued, giving Natasha a real-life example that humans were not as helpless as he first portrayed them. "But these mostly rely on something called Sacred Gear, weapons made by the Biblical God that randomly select human hosts upon their birth."
Natasha didn't need to mull over the information for long to realize the flaw. Her eyes suddenly widened and her eyes opened in bewilderment... "But devils found a way to reincarnate humans into their own race."
And she understood where the problem lay.
"That they did." Tom offhandedly nodded. Seeing as he didn't need to explain it further, he decided to proceed further into the topic, "Now about magic..."
This is where Tom grimaced. He didn't like admitting this but it was the undeniable truth. "Human magic relies on formulas to guide mana to do certain things. This imitates the devils' way of magic casting. Our magic system is far inferior to theirs and offers a lot less freedom, but they are seldom motivated or disciplined enough to actually advance their magic fields. Something humans have in spades. Motivation and dedication. It stems from our lower lifespan and limited time. So... I guess lucky us." He mocked.
"And let me guess. This is the case with every race, isn't it? They all have advantages humans do not possess." Natasha was not amused with the stakes that were revealed in front of her.
"Yes. Humans are the weakest race with the least potential and a short lifespan. In return, unlike other races, we can easily breed." Tom wryly smiled.
There was more to it and there was also a reason why humans were not enslaved by other races but that didn't matter right now.
Tom decided to get to the point of why he brought this topic up with her. "That's why I can't go the 'natural' route with you. I can't just give you books and tell you to study. It would have taken you decades to be semi-competent. It certainly took me over a decade to reach where I am now."
And he was fully aware he didn't have that kind of time.
"So? What are we gonna do?" Natasha intently looked at Tom. She knew of his distaste for becoming a devil... so she wondered what was left.
"That... I don't know yet. I am going to do what humans do best. I am going to cheat the system and we will adapt." Tom took her hands into his and looked her in the eyes with resolve shining in his brown orbs. "Humans might not have the best potential but we sure as hell have the best adaptability."
That would have never helped their case.
No. This required thinking outside of the box...