Warnings: none this time!
“So that’s it, huh?” Oliver whistled, surveying Courtney’s now-bare dorm room. Finals had come and gone, as quickly as the rest of the semester had. In the blink of an eye, it seemed, it was time to leave Goth for the year.
Everything she’d brought here was now packed in boxes, ready to be loaded into her car tomorrow morning for the trip home. “So long, Wilson!” Oliver chuckled.
“I won’t miss it,” Courtney asserted. “It smells like mold.”
“But there’s so many memories in here,” he mused nostalgically. “If these walls could talk…”
Courtney rolled her eyes and smiled. “It’s a dorm room. I wouldn’t want to know what they’d have to say. Besides, there’s no need to get sentimental about leaving it.”
“Maybe not,” he said, shrugging. He rubbed his neck as he studied the boxes. “Are you absolutely positive you don’t want to come live with me this summer? The offer still stands.”
Courtney shook her head. “I really love the lake in the summer.”
Oliver sighed. “How did I know you’d say that?”
“Probably because it’s the same response I’ve given you all ten or so times that you’ve asked me to live with you leading up to today.”
Oliver’s face broke into a grin. “Touche.” He sighed. “Well, I guess we’ll have to make it work. I’ll just have to drive down a few times and stay at a cheap motel or something, as much as it sucks.”
“Yeah, mom is firmly anti-sleepover, unfortunately,” Courtney made a face. She knew that Salmon Woods was quite a hike from Oliver’s student apartment. She wasn’t sure how often he’d actually be able to make the trek to see her, and the thought of not spending much time with him over the summer made her wonder whether going home would be a mistake.
They’d been a constant fixture in each other’s lives for the past 3 months. There wasn’t more than a day that went by where they didn’t see one another, and now they were going to be apart for the majority of the next 7. Did she really want that? Did she really want to go back to that awful, dreary house that her parents called home?
“We’ll make it work,” he said, interrupting her thoughts. She looked up, surprised, as if she’d forgotten he’d been there the whole time. He smiled at her, gently, and she sighed.
“We’ll make it work,” she repeated. She hoped it was true.
He helped her carry the boxes out of the empty room and load up her car. They came to find that the last few boxes wouldn’t fit.
“Leave it at my place,” he’d insisted after she’d spent ten minutes struggling to stuff at least one more in the backseat. “we have an extra room now that Rena and Zach aren’t hiding their relationship.”
“I might need it this summer, or want to take it with me to Italy. I don’t know what’s in them” was her response.
“Better yet, come bring it all to my place and stay with me.”
She rolled her eyes and groaned in frustration. “I wish I could tell what was in them!”
“Why didn’t you label them?” He’d asked, dismayed.
She’d responded with a simple shrug and said, “I didn’t think it would be super important.”
Oliver sighed and shook his head. “I’ll come with you, then. No arguing with me, either. If you won’t come stay with me at least let me get another day with you before I have to be alone, okay?”
Courtney didn’t want to argue; she actually felt the same way. She nodded and they took the boxes back inside for safekeeping. The next day, he’d packed them up in his Jeep and followed her down the interstate for six hours, all the way to Salmon Woods.
Her mother ran out to greet her as she pulled up. Strange, Courtney thought, I thought she’d still be mad at me. She stepped out of the car and her mother pulled her into a hug and kissed her cheek.
“Darling! Welcome home!” her mother exclaimed. She pulled away and studied Courtney at arm’s length. “You look radiant, dear! You look, dare I say it… happy!”
“Uh, hi, Mom,” Courtney managed through her confusion. Why is she being so… nice??
Oliver pulled up beside the house, and Courtney’s mom squinted to get a look at the new arrival. “Who’s that?” she asked Courtney.
“Uh, mom, this is Oliver. He’s my… he’s my boyfriend.”
Oliver stepped out of the car and walked towards Courtney and her mother. Courtney had made him wear nice clothes (which, he’d argued, didn’t make any sense as they were doing physical labor), and he’d gelled his hair back. It was his ‘professor’ look, and Courtney knew that this first impression would be everything to her mother. Oliver extended a hand and said, “Nice to meet you, Mrs. Peters.”
Courtney’s mother eyed him up and down, silently calculating whether or not she approved. Courtney relaxed as her mother smiled and shook Oliver’s hand. “Oh, please, call me Michelle,” she giggled. Courtney gawked at her; none of her friends had ever been allowed to call her Michelle! And what was with the giggle?
“You two must be exhausted from that drive; come inside, I’ll make you some coffee,” she said as she flitted into the house.
Courtney exhaled as soon as her mother was out of earshot. “That… that went better than I expected.”
“I told you you didn’t need to worry. No lady can resist my charm,” Oliver said with a wink.
“It’s only because you clean up so nice,” Courtney pointed out. “If you showed up with messy hair and a leather jacket she would not have been so accepting.”
“I don’t know whether to be flattered or offended, Miss Peters,” Oliver shot back, his green eyes sparkling.
“Flattered,” she said simply, “because you’re cute either way.”
They sat on the couch as Courtney’s mother emerged from the kitchen. She said, “it’ll be just a moment, now,” and sat herself down the in the chair across from Oliver.
“So,” she began, smoothing the lap of her slacks, “how’d you two meet?” She looked at Courtney briefly, but Courtney could tell this was really a question for Oliver – she knew her mother was vetting him.
Courtney shot him a look to signal him to speak.
“Well, we actually met at Sims U about… three years ago, wasn’t it?” he looked to Courtney for confirmation. She wasn’t sure exactly how many years, so she just shrugged and nodded.
“I got lost on the way home one night, and he happened to live in the same building,” she explained.
“I was trying to be a gallant gentleman and direct the pretty girl to wherever she needed to go, and it turned out to be the exact same place I was heading,” he elaborated, causing Courtney to blush.
“You haven’t been dating all this time, then, have you?” her mother asked accusatorily.
“No, no ma’am,” Oliver assured her. “We didn’t start dating until March.”
“Right before Spring Break,” Courtney added.
“Ah, so that’s why you seemed to be in such a good mood last time I saw you,” her mother said knowingly, and Courtney turned a deeper shade of crimson.
“So how did you two end up getting together, then? After Courtney left Sims U, I mean,” her mother asked.
“Oliver’s in a PhD program at Goth,” Courtney told her. “He was… well, he was the teacher for my intro biology course, actually.”
“PhD? In what?” Courtney noticed her mother stiffen slightly. She hoped Oliver didn’t catch the ever-so-slight sourness in her tone.
“Biophysics, ma’am,” Oliver replied.
“I see. And what does one do with a PhD in biophysics?” Courtney saw her mother’s nose twitch the slightest bit. Her first impression was quickly turning into disapproval.
“Well, ma’am, I’m working on some extremely ground-breaking research around the physics of space and time.”
“You mean, like, time travel?” her mother practically scoffed.
“Well, actually… yes.”
Courtney saw that her mother was holding back the urge to roll her eyes or laugh in his face. To her credit, she managed an icy-yet-polite, “that’s very interesting,” before she stood and whisked herself away to the kitchen. Courtney heard the sounds of coffee mugs clinking as her mother prepared their drinks.
She wanted to ask Oliver what he’d been talking about, but she couldn’t find the right words. She’d just opened her mouth to speak when her mother waltzed back in and handed them each a coffee, which they sipped in awkward silence.
“I didn’t know you were working on time travel,” Courtney mused as she put down her last box. She’d been wanting to talk to him about this revelation in private, but her mother had been hovering over them after she’d brought them their coffee and insisted on helping until they’d brought everything inside. “I figured you were working on some random, obscure, boring shit. You know, like typical science stuff.”
“To be fair, you never asked,” Oliver grunted as he dropped his box on the bed.
“True. But you know me; I’m not good with science-y stuff. Especially physics,” she scrunched up her nose in distaste. “I figured I wouldn’t understand it.”
“If I couldn’t explain it to you so you understand, then I wouldn’t be able to claim that I fully understand it to begin with.”
“Okay, I get that. But like… what’s your job with the whole “time travel” stuff? I mean, you’re a biophysics student. Where does the biology come in?”
“In making sure the holes we’d be ripping in the space-time continuum wouldn’t tear living organisms apart.”
Courtney made an unpleasant face. “Yeah, that’d be important, if you wanted to send people to the future or whatever.” She sat on the bed and eyed him curiously. “Has anyone actually… done that?”
He averted his eyes and shook his head. “No. It’s all theoretical at this stage. It’s really not as exciting as it sounds – it’s mostly working with math and thinking through how it could possibly be done.”
She nodded. “That makes a whole hell of a lot more sense, I thought you were going to say that you’d actually sent someone back in time or something! That’s just way too unbelievable.” She laughed.
“I honestly don’t think it will ever be a good idea to actually travel in time and space, if I’m being honest. Everything we’ve done and every breakthrough seems to point to a fixed timeline anyway. Sending someone backwards or forwards won’t change anything – in fact, it would only ensure that future events happen just as they should.”
“That’s insane to think about, though. So our lives are just… fixed? We don’t get a say in what happens?”
“I don’t want to talk about this anymore,” he said, turning from her. He looked suddenly exhausted.
She nodded, but her head was still spinning with questions. She knew she’d never ask them, though. It seemed as though something about his work was troubling him, laying heavy on his mind, and she didn’t want to pry. She figured some questions were better kept unasked. Besides, it wasn’t like there was a secret machine in his lab that could send people through time – like he’d said, they were doing the boring stuff, laying the groundwork for that.
Summer came to its glorious height, and Courtney spent most of her days on the lake or relaxing on the dock. Oliver came to visit almost every weekend. Even through her mother’s disapproval, she eventually relented and allowed him to spend the night in the guest room after she realized how awful the motel he would stay at was. Much to Courtney’s delight, her mother was more concerned about bedbugs than her daughter’s boyfriend.
At night, they would often light a fire in the pit and sit together, daydreaming about what Italy would be like, or what silly adventures Rena and Sam would drag Oliver into in Courtney’s absence.
One night, Courtney had asked Oliver to teach her how to play the old guitar she’d found while clearing out the attic. She wasn’t very good at it; she was clumsy, and her hands were too small and dainty to reach across too many of the frets.
“Ack!” She grunted in frustration as she strummed a dissonant chord. “Which finger is it this time?”
Oliver chuckled softly and moved her ring finger one fret up. “Try again,” he instructed, and she did. This time it sounded pretty. He smiled and said, “See? That was beautiful.”
“You’re beautiful,” Courtney retorted in a mocking tone.
“Thank you, I do try to look my best.” He grinned.
Courtney smiled and relaxed into him. “But, really, you are. Like, inside and out.” She turned her head to look him in the eye. “You’re so patient and understanding and kind and handsome and I just…” She groaned.
He smirked and said, “You know, you are allowed to kiss me. I know you want to.”
She couldn’t argue with that logic.
Their kiss was gentle, the kind that made a feeling of intense comfort wash over her. She sighed as she pulled away and turned her attention back to the fire in front of them. She felt his thumb rubbing across her knuckles, and she smiled to herself. She didn’t want this summer to end, she realized. She frowned and stiffened slightly, and she knew he had noticed, but they didn’t say anything.
They hadn’t talked about it all summer. Instead, they’d let it loom over them, this unspoken weight that was constantly threatening to crush them. They had a mutual understanding that it was not to be discussed. Thinking about it too much would ruin her summer, and she wanted to enjoy the last few months she had with Oliver before she left.
They sat there together in a comfortable silence, sharing kisses and gentle caresses until the fire burned down to embers and the stars began to fade out, one by one, preparing the sky to greet the rising sun.
A/N: This is the long overdue first SimNo update! Sorry it’s kind of a ‘nothing’ chapter – it was originally supposed to be double in length, but I’ve decided to split chapters up more so they’re a bit shorter, just for my own convenience. There will be another one coming very soon, so keep a lookout! 🙂