Warnings: Strong language, explicit content, sexual themes
“Mind if I sit?”
Courtney looked up from her studying to see Sam smiling kindly down at her. Courtney shrugged and gestured to the seat.
Sam sighed as she pulled a sandwich and a magazine out of her bag. She sat for a moment, studying Courtney, who was focusing so intently on the textbook in front of her that she wasn’t making sense of any of the words on the page. She shifted uncomfortably in her seat as she felt Sam’s eyes boring a hole through her skull.
Finally, Sam’s attention was drawn elsewhere. “Huh,” she mused after a moment.
Courtney looked up, and Sam pointed to the article she was reading. “Time Travel: Theoretically ImPossible.”
“Yeah, because I’m gonna trust the popular tabloid Reach for the Starz to contain articles featuring good science,” Courtney said, flipping the magazine closed with a scowl.
Sam rolled her eyes. “Yeah, I know, but wouldn’t it be cool?”
“Of course it would – you could go back in time and un-fuck-up all your fuckups,” Courtney deadpanned as she fiddled with the pages of her book.
“I take it last night didn’t go so well.” Sam eyed her with a knowing look as she took a bite of her sandwich.
Courtney snorted. That may have been an understatement, but it’s not like she was going to bare her heart and soul to a practical stranger. Especially a stranger who was close to Oliver. “I don’t really want to talk about it.”
“That’s cool. I get it.” Sam took another bite of her sandwich. An uncomfortable silence fell between them. After a moment, Sam wondered aloud, “Maybe the reason we can’t time-travel is because we’re not supposed to un-fuck up. I mean, if the point of life is to learn from your mistakes, then what would be the purpose of do-overs?”
“What’s the purpose of any sort of second chance?” Or third, or fourth…?
Sam thought about it for a moment. Courtney looked at her, finally, and Sam said, “maybe, second chances are to point us in the right direction.”
Courtney’s eyebrows raised slightly in surprise. Her cynical inner voice had expected an answer like ‘only fools give second chances.’ Which made Oliver a fool, of course. He’d given her so many second chances. She didn’t want to think what that would have made her in that scenario – an idiot, probably, chasing after a fool. But she couldn’t deny that, despite everything that had happened between them and all the fuckups on both sides, her heart still felt so full when she thought about Oliver, and ached so severely when she realized she’d probably lost him. Again.
She buried her head in her hands and mumbled, “he told me he loved me last night.”
“Yeah?” Sam eyed Courtney over her sandwich. “Well, I guess there really isn’t always a ‘perfect’ moment. Sometimes you just gotta let it out, because not saying it is killing you.” Sam frowned, and her gaze shifted as she stared off into space. “I guess I get where he’s coming from,” she admitted, “even if it seems to have put you off.”
“I just… it was just kind of… out of left field, for me, I guess. And now I feel awkward because I just ran off.”
“Well… what do you feel for him?”
Courtney exhaled. She wasn’t sure she could put the feeling into words, how being with Oliver felt so exciting and new to her, but at the same time familiar. How it felt like she’d known him forever and also no time at all. How every time he kissed her she felt like they were melting together and when they finally pulled apart she felt that a part of her was suddenly missing. How she laid awake at night imagining that he was there beside her, how she wondered what it would be like to give herself to him, all of her, completely. And then she realized.
“I have to go,” Courtney said, breathless, as she hastily packed her bag and darted from the cafeteria. She turned back and waved to Sam as she reached the door. Sam waved back, a small, sad smile on her face.
It started to drizzle as she ran across campus. By the time she reached the science building, she was soaked through to the bone and couldn’t stop shivering. She tore through the hallway and up the stairs, stopping only when she reached the door. His door.
It was cracked open, and she could hear some muffled noises from where she stood in the hallway – typing, papers, a sip of coffee. She leaned against the wall and pulled her arms around her, as if clutching courage to her breast.
She knocked lightly, but entered before Oliver even looked up from his computer screen. His mouth opened in surprise when he realized it was her, and his expression quickly melted to concern. “You’re soaked!”
He stood and crossed to her, pulling his jacket from the back of his chair and laying it over her shoulders. “What could possibly be so important that you couldn’t wait until after the rain to come tell me?” he chuckled softly, rubbing her arms in a feeble attempt to quell her shivering.
She clutched the jacket around her shoulders and looked up at him. His eyes were full of amusement and kindness. She could happily get lost in them for a while, and she very nearly did until she remembered that she’d come here for a reason.
“Can we go somewhere? To talk?”
Oliver raised an eyebrow. “Right now?” Courtney nodded. “I have office hours until 3… can we talk after?” His face was full of concern and his voice sounded slightly strained.
Courtney deflated. She wasn’t sure she’d have the guts to say this later. “Yeah, sure,” she said. “That would be fine,” she lied.
Oliver crossed behind Courtney and shut the door. She turned to face him and he reached out a hand to hold hers. “If it’s that important, I have a minute.”
Courtney but her lip as she raised her eyes to meet his. “I’m glad I didn’t scare you off for good,” he whispered seriously. “I should not have said that. I’m sor-”
“Did you mean it?” Courtney interrupted. Her eyes scanned his face. She saw his expression turn from surprise to bittersweet sadness.
“Yeah,” he croaked, “I did.”
She felt the weight of the jacket fall from her shoulders as she reached up and wrapped her hands into his hair, pulling him towards her. She kissed him softly. His mouth opened in surprise before she felt him melt into her, enveloping her in his arms. After a moment, she pulled away and looked up at him. She didn’t pull out of his embrace, and he didn’t push her away. She laid her palm on his chest, over his heart. She could feel it racing, and she smiled.
“Sometimes,” she began in a whisper, “late at night when I can’t sleep, I lay in bed and wonder what it would be like to belong to you, unequivocally, to give myself to you completely.” She bit her lip, and her eyes dropped to the floor for a second. Her heart flipped and a small shiver shot down her back as she forced herself to meet the intense gaze of his emerald eyes. “I just realized something,” she continued at last. “Even though you never asked me to, and I never offered, somehow… I already am yours. My heart belongs to you.”
He didn’t say anything for an agonizing moment. She searched his face, frantically, scanning for any sign of doubt. She shouldn’t have said that, probably, but there was no taking it back now. Her eyes found his at last and she took a shaky breath as he opened his mouth to speak at last
“Courtney,” he breathed. He let out a small groan. “I’m really regretting telling you that I love you last night.”
Courtney felt like all the air had suddenly left the room. She couldn’t pull herself out of his arms fast enough.
“No! No, Courtney, that’s not -” he groaned again, this time in frustration. “I just…” He ran a hand through his hair and grinned like an idiot at the floor. “That is how you profess your love to someone. Not when… Not talking about sheets!”
He held out a hand and Courtney stepped back towards him. He pulled her back into his arms and she smiled as he kissed her forehead. “The way you just made me feel, when you said that… I wanted to make you feel that way.”
Courntey looked at him. “You already do,” she admitted. “Every time you kiss me… Or, hell, every time you even just look at me the right way – yeah, like that!” She pointed to his eyes, full of intensity. His face broke out into a grin, and Courtney smiled back and added, sheepishly, “And like that.”
Oliver squeezed her hands in his. “Well, I’d like to make it up to you, at least. Let me take you out tonight. Somewhere nice.”
Courtney chuckled. “If you insist…”
“I most certainly do insist. I’ll see you at six, then?”
“It’s a date.”
She had a few hours to kill before she’d need to start getting ready for their date, and there were a few things she needed to take care of, anyway, like stopping by Dr. Montgomery’s office. She’d gotten her first history paper back with a big, underlined SEE ME and no grade.
“Come in!” called her professor. Courtney was shaking as she tentatively pushed open the door and entered his office.
It looked darker than it had last time. Of course, her mood felt darker now. Before, when she’d come to change her major, she’d been so sure and felt that her new future was bright. Now she was certain that she’d made a huge mistake in changing her major in the first place. She obviously wasn’t cut out for history; she’d put her all into what she’d thought was an excellent paper only to flunk the assignment.
“Ah! Courtney! Yes, yes, come in!” He sounded surprisingly chipper.
She sat in one of the chairs across from his desk without saying anything. She was chewing her lip so much that she could taste copper on her tongue.
“I certainly hope your semester is going well, Ms. Peters! You’re an exceptional addition to our department, that’s for sure. At least, I appreciate your input in class; I can’t speak for any of your other professors.” Dr. Montgomery chuckled.
“What do you mean?” Courtney squeaked. “I failed your first paper!”
Dr. Montgomery looked at her, obviously confused. Courtney produced the assignment from her back pocket and handed it to him. He took one look at it and began to laugh.
“Oh my! I am so sorry! I must have caused you so much anxiety! I was so excited after reading your paper that I forgot to write your A+ at the top!”
Relief flooded over Courtney instantaneously. “So I’m not failing your class?”
Her professor was still laughing. “No! No! On the contrary, you’re doing very well! No, I wanted to discuss something completely unrelated to this assignment with you, actually.” He cleared his throat and finally composed himself before asking, “Have you ever considered studying abroad?”
“Well, I mean, I’m sure it would be an amazing experience.”
Dr. Montgomery leaned forward in his chair and said, “I’ve had a student drop out of a study abroad program I’m running next semester in Italy. Your obvious interest in Classical Rome and your participation in class made me think you’d be an excellent candidate for the trip.”
“Dr. Montgomery, I -”
“Just sleep on it, okay? I just need to know by… oh, let’s say the end of the week. That’s four days, yes?”
Courtney nodded. She was dumbfounded, but floored that he would even have considered her. “Yeah,” she said, “I’ll think about it.”
“Is everything okay, Courtney?” Courtney looked across the table to Oliver, who was staring at her with those brilliant green eyes. She’d been sort of phoning it in since he’d picked her up at her dorm across town, being careful to mask the fact that her mind was elsewhere. It was a trick she’d learned from her mother, of course.
Now, they were seated in a cute little sushi place next to the park, and it was clear that Oliver had caught on. Sometimes she wondered how he could read her so well.
She’d been preoccupied with an internal debate around studying abroad next semester. Sure, it was an amazing opportunity, but there was one huge reason why she shouldn’t go, and he was looking her straight in the eye. “I need your input,” she said at last.
Oliver raised an eyebrow and said, “Okay?”
Courtney sighed. “I’ve been offered a spot on a study abroad program next semester. In Rome. And I really, really want to go, but…” she waved her hands towards him, silently signifying that he was the reason she didn’t want to go.
He caught her hands in his and rubbed his thumbs on her palms. “But what?”
“Are you really going to make me say it?”
He just looked at her.
She exhaled. “Fine. But… you’re here and I don’t know if I want to leave you for four months. Happy?”
“I’ll be here when you get back,” he said matter-of-factly. “And besides, you won’t leave for half a year. We still have time to get used to being together before you fly off to Rome.” He chuckled.
Courtney’s cheeks burned. Together. Is that what they were, still? The thought of it made her a bit queasy, but (somehow) in a good way. Like she was nervous and excited and anticipating so many things all at once.
He must have noticed the look on her face, because he clarified, “that is, if you still want to be together.”
Courtney responded so fast that she stumbled over her words, and they became a mess of syllables and sounds that forced her to shut up and start over. “Yes, I do,” was all she said when she composed herself.
Oliver’s face lit up.
“Of course I do,” she added.
“So, what will you study when you go to Rome?”
Now it was her turn to light up. She explained how the program was a study abroad about Classical Rome, and she grew animated discussing the most exciting part: the internship component, which would take place in a real, live museum over the course of the semester.
“I’ll get to actually touch artefacts, those things people left behind… I think the idea is humbling, to say the least. The fact that these things belonged to real people thousands of years ago, and we don’t know anything about who they were. Makes you wonder what they’ll remember of us.”
Oliver watched her as she spoke, obviously enchanted by her enthusiasm. When she was done, he reached across the table and grabbed her hand. “I can’t believe you were thinking about not going because of me. You’re obviously super excited by the whole idea.”
“Well, I mean, wouldn’t you want to ask my opinion before you decided to leave the country for four months?”
“Touché.” Oliver laughed, and Courtney smiled at him.
Courtney awoke to a series of loud taps on her door. She rolled out of her bed and stumbled to the door, rubbing sleep from her eyes. She couldn’t help but grin when she opened it to find Oliver smiling at her. “How’d you get in the building?” she mumbled, stifling a yawn.
“Security at this university is severely lacking. What’s the point of handing out key cards when people hold the door for every random stranger who walks up?” He kissed her forehead and she sighed, wrapping her arms around his waist and leaning into him. “Good morning, sunshine,” he chuckled into her hair. “I finally have a free day. You up for an adventure?”
“What kind of adventure?”
“The surprise kind.”
She snorted in a small laugh and shrugged. “I don’t have much going on today.”
“Awesome!” He smiled at her.
They stood there for a moment, smiling at each other. Courtney started to feel awkward, and she cleared her throat and said, “I need to get dressed.”
“Oh! Of course! Sorry.” He made to close the door, but then re-opened it to add, “make sure you wear long pants! And maybe some sneakers!”
She’d watched the city turn to suburbs turn to farmland as they drove on the interstate. Soon, they were so far out that there wasn’t a single building in the rear-view mirror.
He finally pulled off the interstate. Everything as far as the eye could see was still farmland, but now with the occasional little house or barn to go with it. It was the kind of place that she knew one could easily get lost in, but Oliver seemed to know exactly where he was going.
He turned down a dirt driveway, lined with trees on either side. He didn’t say anything, and neither did she. A large farmhouse came into view at the end of the driveway as they made their way down it, slowly, with Oliver expertly avoiding the potholes in the gravel. He pulled in beside a shiny pickup truck and got out of the car.
He came around to open the door for Courtney, and she stepped out and looked around. What is this place?
“This is my Grandpa’s house,” he said as if reading her mind, grabbing her hand and leading her up towards the porch.
“So the adventure is meeting your family?!” Courtney stammered. She panicked; she wasn’t sure she was ready for all that… pageantry.
Oliver laughed and shook his head. “Nah, that’s not it. In fact, if you want, you can just wait out here by the car, if it’d make you more comfortable.”
She did just that. She couldn’t see the front porch from where she was standing, but she heard people laughing and some unintelligible conversation wafting from the direction of the door. She studied the stately house; it was beautiful, in its own way. She’d always liked old houses. She could hear the sounds of animals somewhere behind the place – cows and chickens.
Finally, Oliver reappeared, leading a beautiful black horse. “This is Nightingale,” he said as Courtney reached out a tentative hand to stroke the horse’s muzzle. “Have you ever ridden a horse before, Courtney?”
She shook her head. “Can I?” she asked. He laughed and nodded before he helped her into the saddle.
“Nightingale is the best they have; I think you’ll be fine on your own, if you’re comfortable?” he led them, Courtney and Nightingale, behind the house towards the stable, where another horse was saddled and waiting for Oliver to hop on.
She studied him with a puzzled look as he settled himself on the horse. “You are a man of mystery, Oliver Wright. Rebel, musician, scientist, and now cowboy?”
He laughed. “They want me to inherit this farm, but I don’t know if I want it. The only thing I really know how to do around here is ride a horse and shovel manure.”
“Very. Why do you think I don’t want the place?” he chuckled.
He kicked his horse and rode over to her. He demonstrated how to do it, and Courtney copied him. She jerked a little as the horse began to walk, but she quickly found her balance. She laughed and said, “this feels weird!”
Oliver chuckled. “Just make sure you sit up straight and keep your feet forward, or you’ll be even more sore later.” He pulled his horse over so they were riding side-by-side. They rode in a comfortable silence as Courtney surveyed the surroundings.
They had ridden past the house and were now lazily traipsing through the woods. Clearly, the path they were on was well-trodden, demonstrated by the way the tall grass ended on either side of the trail.
The spring light shone through the branches and danced on the ground in the slight breeze. The trees were still without leaves, but if she looked closely, Courtney could just make out the buds that were growing now, ready to sprout any day. If she strained, she could hear a few birds calling out, signaling to their own kind in their delightful songs.
The butterflies delighted her the most. There had to be hundreds of them, at least in her direct field of view – blue and silver and orange and brilliant. She smiled as one flitted right beside her for a moment. She held out her hand towards it, and chuckled when it decided to land there.
“I never would have pegged you for a country boy,” she said as she watched the insect fly away.
That made Oliver laugh. “I’m not, by any means. My dad insisted on shipping me and Rena out here for the summers. He really couldn’t stand us.”
Courtney frowned and said “I’m sorry.”
Oliver shrugged. “I mean, it is what it is. He didn’t want my mom and he resented us for making him stay so long.”
Courtney thought about her own family. “I don’t know why my mom stays, to be honest. We’d all be better off if she’d pack her bags and go away. I actually wish she would.” She lifted her eyes from the ground to Oliver’s as she asked, “does that make me an awful person?”
“I think it says more about your mother than about you, Courtney.”
“I feel like we’re not that different, her and I.” She frowned.
Oliver’s brow furrowed. “What makes you say that?”
Courtney shrugged. “I tend to fuck up the good things and cling to the bad ones, I guess. Like, with you, I run away about once a month it seems, or fuck up that often at least. And I tend to surround myself with people who don’t really care about me, like Keegan and… and Fatima.”
He hopped off his horse, and she looked around, realizing they’d reached a clearing with a pond.
She sucked in a breath as she surveyed the beautiful waterfall. It made the clearing echo with the most pleasant, soothing sound.
Though apparently the trail ended here, the grass was still long, as if the whole clearing had been left alone to grow for a long time. It was magnificent in the way that only the way a place nearly untouched by the human hand can be.
It, too, was teeming with butterflies. They floated on the gentle breeze, their brilliant colors dipping in and out of the mist that poured over the pond from the waterfall. If Courtney tilted her head just right, the sunlight bounced off the mist and sent a heavenly rainbow across the clear water.
“I don’t think that makes you like your mother, Courtney,” he said as she turned back to look at him.
“You’re right,” she agreed as he helped her off her own horse. “It makes me much more like my father. He’s pitiful; he stays with my mom because he’s desperately enamored with her still, even though she couldn’t care about him any less; she’s only with him for his money and to keep appearances. But he’s still clinging to their sham of a marriage.” She huffed and plopped herself down on a rock near the edge of the pond.
Oliver sat beside her. He scratched her back, which soothed her a little, and they looked out over the water for a moment together. “I don’t think you’re like him, either,” Oliver whispered at last.
She turned her whole body so she was facing him. He grabbed one of her hands and held it in both of his, rubbing his thumb on her palm. She looked into his beautiful eyes and smiled sadly, shaking her head. “What?” he asked.
“I never learned what love looks like, as a kid,” she admitted.
“Me neither. But I think I’ve watched enough movies to get the gist,” Oliver joked, eliciting a small smile from Courtney.
“There she is,” he whispered before he leaned in and kissed her softly. He pulled away, but she was keenly aware that he was still so close to her. “You know who I think you’re like?” he asked, and she raised an eyebrow before he answered his own question. “I think you’re like Courtney. And I think that’s perfect.”
Her smile grew, and he closed the space between them once more. He pulled away, but brought his hand up to caress her cheek. “The cool thing about being a person is that you get to decide who you’re going to be,” he said. “If you don’t want to be like your parents, you don’t have to be like your parents.”
Courtney nodded and sighed. She laid her head on his shoulder and asked, “How will I know if I’m doing it right? Loving you, I mean?”
He wrapped his arms around her and held her while he thought. “I guess we’ll just have to learn how to love each other together,” he murmured after a moment.
He rubbed her back as she sighed and nuzzled into his neck. “I want you to make love to me,” she murmured.
“Right… right now?” he stammered.
She pulled her head up and looked around. As she studied the butterflies that fluttered around them, she again found herself struck with wonder at the beauty of the clearing. “This place… it’s kind of perfect. Like a dream.” She squeezed his hand and kissed his cheek.
She felt him kiss her forehead as he produced a condom from his pocket. “I’ve taken to carrying one of these when I’m with you, just in case,” he admitted sheepishly. “I wasn’t going to ask, but I figured… well, we seemed to be moving that direction.”
Courtney laughed, and then so did Oliver. “That’s cute,” she assured him. He pulled her towards him, and she flet him smile as he kissed her deeply.
She felt his hands exploring, feeling the curves of her shoulders, her waist, her hips. She responded in kind, running her hands down his back, lightly, and fiddling just below the hem of his tee shirt.
She grasped the bottom of the shirt and pulled it up and off of him. She pulled back, admiring his well-toned chest. “I didn’t know you had tattoos,” she mused as she traced the snake on his chest.
“It didn’t seem important to mention,” he admitted as she studied him. She ran her hands over him, feeling the firmness of his muscles, and he chuckled. “Enjoying the view?” he teased.
“Very much,” Courtney purred in response. Then she stood and held out a hand to him. “I’m not having sex for the first time on a boulder,” she informed him, as he stood and wrapped his arms around her from behind.
“It’s not a boulder; it’s a rock,” he murmured in her ear. “The pioneers used to drive these babies for miles.” He kissed her neck, and her laughter quickly turned to a whimper. He laid her down on a soft spot of grass. “is this better?” he asked, leaning over her.
“Yeah,” she said breathlessly as he lowered himself to kiss her once more. They wrapped their arms around each other, entwining themselves together.
She wasn’t sure what to expect, exactly. She knew the technical details, but she wasn’t exactly prepared to feel so awkward at her own cluelessness. Oliver took it in stride; he was a gentle, caring teacher, and he made her feel so safe and warm and loved as he explored every inch of her, and taught her how to do the same with him.
Oliver didn’t fumble at all, which at one point almost made her clam up because she could tell he wasn’t exactly new to this like she was. But the look in his eyes, so loving and kind and intense, helped her relax. She knew that, regardless of his past, he only wanted her. He only loved her. He held her close, and his arms felt like home.
She was surprised that it didn’t hurt like everyone always said it did. The experience of making love was full of wonderful and amazing sensations that made her head spin and her body writhe uncontrollably.
At one point, she looked at the trees, and saw the butterflies circling above and around them against the backdrop of the afternoon sky. She took in the sight and squeezed him closer to her with a contented sigh. In that moment, she knew that this was exactly where she was meant to be. She closed her eyes and surrendered to the complete sense of serenity that enveloped her.
She gave herself to him, in body as in soul, and so did he.
Afterwards, they laid entangled on the grass, their bodies slightly sticky with sweat. “I love you,” Courtney whispered.
This time, she was certain that she meant it.
A/N: YAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAY!!! Sorry for the rather intense NSFW.
Although I will freely admit the original was way more raunchy. Heh. That’s the last chapter I have ready for you, so it’ll be a week+ until there’s another! I’m aiming for 2 updates this month for SimNo, we’ll see how that goes.
Also, the odd hair editing was a half-failed attempt at fixing things. I think some of the pics turned out okay, but others…. well, you know what I mean.