Posted originally on the Archive of Our Own at

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Archive Warning:
No Archive Warnings Apply
F/M, Gen
Hatchetfield Universe - Team StarKid
tom houston & becky barnes & tim houston & hannah foster & lex foster, Becky Barnes/Tom Houston
Tom Houston, Becky Barnes (Black Friday), Tim Houston, Hannah Foster, Lex Foster
Additional Tags:
Not Canon Compliant, Alternate Universe - Everyone Lives/Nobody Dies, Musical: Black Friday, Fluff, Domestic Fluff, Morning Routines, Families of Choice, Breakfast, Family Bonding, tom as government mandated grumpy old man, sibling dynamics, Slice of Life, Attempt at Humor, implied autistic tom houston, i think
Part 1 of 100 ways to say i love you, Part 1 of anatomy of a hug (barneston-foster au)
Published: 2023-11-04 Words: 2,096 Chapters: 1/1



It's not that Tom Houston hates mornings.




heyyyyy ...... slides back in with my barneston + tim + foster sisters family dynamics ....... they make me so autistic ngl . you probably should expect more to come


Tom Houston harbors a specific dislike for mornings. It’s not that he’s too tired to function, or the approaching day with screaming, pissy teenagers in the workshop, someone always having energy drinks on the counter despite him telling every class he has that it's a rule they're not allowed to ever break, the fact that he has to leave his warm bed and trudge the thirteen rug steps down to the kitchen.

No, none of that. In fact, he even likes early mornings and the specific chill. He likes getting into the shower in early summer, when there’s still work to go to, and he’s sticky because Jane of course chose their bedroom to be right next to the boiler and the room is unbearably hot. He likes taking pictures of especially pretty sunsets, or waking up earlier to finish grading some assignments. He likes seeing Becky roll in their sheets, searching blindly for her phone to turn off the alarm and seeing her stumble to the bathroom to put her contacts in.

Sometimes, he wakes up earlier and just soaks it all in. How happy he is. How good everything turned out to be, in its' place. Weirdly, in these calm moments this seems to be the life he was supposed to lead from the start.

Tom Houston doesn’t hate mornings.

It’s the unavoidable chaos he hates.

Tom Houston despises chaos. He has his own routine in the classroom that doesn’t change. He eats lunch at the same time. He has everything lined up nicely, in a way that makes sense, and if everyone went along with his good routine, maybe he wouldn’t despise mornings since college times.

Every morning, without fail, there’s chaos reigning in every crevice of their house. It sneaks in and reigns, like some kind of a despotic king, watching them scramble for their lives. Especially now, when there’s Becky living with them and Lex and Hannah sleeping over more often than not, there’s less space and more people than ever. People running, yelling, something burning in the kitchen, the coffee express screaming like it’s being skinned alive, toaster popping every ten seconds, someone bumping into chairs, tables and others, their neighbors’ car alarm going off, the kids fighting over who gets inside the toilet next.

It’s the goddamn morning chaos Tom hates. If he could skip the entire two hours, even with consequences, he’d do so without thinking. He’d sacrifice a lot of things to have calm mornings with organized kids, lunches already packed in little paper brown bags like they do in movies, and all of them eating breakfast at once.

By the time he makes it out of the little bathroom, one Jane insisted on having adjacent to their bedroom when they were choosing the house — now he’s especially thankful for the private sanctuary, even with shitty air conditioning it has, almost a sauna, and hot water running out way faster than in the other bathroom — the downstairs is already in a state of chaos.

Lex is running laps between the guestroom she’s staying in and the kitchen with a toothbrush in her mouth, white foam dangerously close to spraying all over her shirt. Hannah is searching for something, almost entirely inside one of the cabinets, only her pants and socks visible, while Becky is struggling her scrubs on and changing the coffee express settings, switching her coffee cup for Lex’s school thermos at the same time. Tim is somewhere, definitely, because Tom can hear him yelling something— and here he is, his backpack flying from upstairs first and then Tim himself, almost slipping on the rug and flying himself if it wasn’t for the house still baby proofed and him bouncing off the soft edge of the star railing.

Great. A wonderful start for another wonderful day.

Tom tries to engage in other’s issues and personal problems as little as possible as he makes his way to the coffee express. He shoves Becky’s coffee to the side and responds with a gruff to her cheerful “Thanks!”

He never understood how she managed to have so much energy and motivation at seven in the morning.

Lex — toothbrush still in mouth — slams five Teen Titans plastic plates on the breakfast nook table and starts plopping scrambled eggs on them unceremoniously, like a school cafeteria lady serving lunch. Tim and Hannah suddenly both appear at the table like the twins from Shining, chairs scraping against the tiled floor, Tim’s hair sticking up like Pippi Lanstrung’s braids and Hannah fixing the collar of her flannel. They start eating while still engrossed in deep argument, almost yelling at each other between big bites of the scrambled eggs.

Tom gets shoved away from his place and Becky starts scrambling through the cabinet behind his legs, finally pulling out a box of some godawful organic cereal she likes so much. The radio is on and one of the only presenters the Hatchetfield area—operating service has, Dan Something (Tom can never quite remember names) is yelling as Becky tries to squeeze behind him and the cabinet, accidentally elbowing it and pitching Dan’s voice by a thousand percent. It sounds like he's right there with them in the kitchen.

“Tom? Are you eating breakfast here today?” Lex appears to his side as Becky turns the dial down with her pinky finger. Finally without the toothbrush, she's fixing her eyeliner in the front camera of her phone instead, and her eyes flicker briefly to him before she sits right next to Hannah and starts devouring her scrambled eggs from the pink Starfire plate.

“Yeah. Yeah.” He mumbles, mostly to himself and sitting down at the table, and picking up the fork, and—

No!” Suddenly, Tim’s voice rings out in Tom’s ears like a gun blast and his head snaps up fast enough to give him whiplash, just to reveal his son’s dissatisfied face. “That’s Aunt Becky’s plate!”

Tom looks down and sees the faint outline of Robin’s face from beneath the mess of scrambled eggs.

Whatever. To avoid any more conflict and screaming, he sits one chair to his right, exhaling deeply at Lex’s barely–covered smile from behind her tea mug, and digs into the scrambled eggs. They’re not bad, definitely not the best ones he’s eaten, a little oversalted and burned, but bearable on an April Tuesday morning and good for being made by Lex, who just recently stopped relying on noodle cups as the basis of her diet.

Before he knows it, they’re bickering out of the door, Tom reminding Tim to put his other arm in his jacket, and trying to all cram into Becky’s car — a more modern, more reliable and more extraordinary–amount–of–people–cramming–in–friendly version of Tom’s Foxbody Mustang, which has been out of service for anyone under 18 after Lex almost swerved it off the highway while trying to avoid a cat on the road — and Tom manages to get in the passenger seat before anyone can elbow him out of it.

Lex, Hannah and Tim are all creating a cacophony of voices and phone noises in the backseat, one of them is talking about Lex’s “boney ass knee” digging into their thigh while Lex presumably flips them off. Becky just sighs in the driver’s seat, starting the engine and backing out of the driveway as Tom mindlessly scrolls through Facebook, funny cats and videos of kids falling between posts from car enthusiasts groups and people trying to sell useless crap on Hatchetfield Market.

“Can we get pizza for dinner?”

“No way. We’re getting kebabs.”

“I hate kebabs.”

“Do I look like I care?”

He keeps scrolling as the fight in the backseat intensifies. A warm hand wraps around the metal holding up the cushion behind his head.

“Can I get a margherita pizza?”

“Hannah, not you against me!”

“I don’t like kebabs either.”

Something thuds in the backseat.

“Don’t punch me!”

“That’s what you get for setting my sister up against me.”

“Baked cheese maybe?”

Becky’s hands tighten on the steering wheel.

“We are having Cobb salad and that’s the end. I bought the ingredients yesterday.” Becky says and a myriad of disappointed groans comes from the backseat, a head banging against one of the windows, something akin to a quiet “that’s not fair!” between them. “I don’t want to hear any more complaints over my goddamn Cobb salad.”

Jesus Christ.

Becky stops in front of the Hatchetfield Elementary — Middle combined and Tim almost stampedes Hannah trying to get out of the car, which culminates in both of them falling out in a cartoonish way. Lex looks over to Tom briefly with her eyebrows raised before going back to typing fervently on her shitty mobile phone.

(He’s offered to buy her a proper one, one that won’t give out on her in the worst moments and doesn’t have its battery randomly sliding out. Lex said she’d rather eat her own shoes.)

Lex gets out a short walk away from Hatchetfield High, saying that Ethan is going to meet up with her on the way. Becky is about to crank up the radio with a smile on her face, ready to force Tom into another impromptu karaoke session.

Tom looks into the rear car mirror and Lex is there.


He looks again, and not only Lex is there, she’s running at the full speed she can manage while their car is moving, legs moving faster than he’s ever seen, waving arms frantically and coat tails like flags behind her.

“Is this Lex running after us?” He says, still in a mild shock, and Becky immediately turns her head, looking out of the rear window, eyes squinting.

“Seems so.”

She slows down enough for Lex to sprint over to them, tear the door open and take the backpack with a “Sorry, thanks, bye” on her lips. She’s gone before either of them know it, backpack swinging from side to side as she runs back off to where an Ethan–shaped figure is standing while Becky and Tom are left to make confused eye contact.

Becky recovers much quicker and simply shrugs, cranking the radio back up as male voice and horrible country music blasting out of the speakers. The coffee in Becky’s thermos sloshes as their car turns, Becky herself screaming along with the singer, tugging at the sleeve of Tom’s flannel as he almost groans in annoyance.


“Come on, Tom!” She smiles, belting another guitar riff, still grasping at his sleeve (and probably breaking multiple road laws by not keeping both of her hands on the steering wheel.) “Live a little! He’s not that bad.”

He sings country.”

It only takes one more pleading look from Becky for Tom to start singing along. At first he sings low, head turned away from her — keeping at least the last scraps of his self–respect — but before he knows it, they’re singing together in a really weird duo, probably freaking the other drivers out at the red light stop.

He doesn’t even notice when Becky turns into the high school workshop parking lot. Only when she stops and leans over the console to put the car into park he notices that they’re facing the woods behind his workshop trailers, where the hill Hatchetfield High stands on falls and gives room to the high trees and dense bushes, and for the imagination of its’ students.

“Have a good day at work.” She smiles and plants a kiss on his cheek. Tom automatically raises his shoulder to crush against his cheek, wiping the tingly-gushy feeling off. ‘Like a cat’, Becky once said — all the way back in high school, behind the bleachers in junior year, hot early September sun bleaching the plastic chairs and his arms around her waist — and he hasn’t been able to get it out of his head since.

“You too.” He mumbles while Becky is fixing his scarf to fit more snugly around his neck.

He already has one hand on the car door handle when Becky tugs him back for one more, and one more, and he’s turning around, and he’d like many more if being seen by one of his students wasn’t an actual possibility. “Save lives, Becky.”

“I’ll do my best.” She smiles, bright and sweet and brave.

He gets out of the car and keeps waving at it, Becky waving back through the rear windshield until she almost slams into a trashcan and actually goes back to paying attention to the road.

The weather is nice.

Another morning survived.


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