A collaboration involving Professor Hiddleston and Professor Evans- The two are rivals at a posh New England university and have no idea they both have taken interest in the lovely Thalia Bareo. She’s a grad student with interests in language and history; a sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago. Story updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Word count: 1380
Warnings: Language, Adult Situations, real life discussions, angst
Summary: Things get out of hand when the shared time at the cabin prompts Chris to ask Thalia for more.
Click here for intro to Educating Thalia
Enjoying the comfortable silence between them, Chris was really glad he’d asked Thalia to go hiking. He’s quite surprised by her knowledge of the wildlife in the area and indulged her wish to sit on the shore of the lake to watch a flock of Great Blue Herons skate across the patches of ice and break through to hunt for food. She happily clicks photos of the view, but ignores the occasional beep of messages coming in. After about the fourth time she quickly types a response and powers down the phone, throwing it in his backpack. He doesn’t say a word. It’s none of his business, although his heart stings, wondering exactly how she ended up with a free weekend.
Absently she digs through the snow at her feet and finds a small stone, throwing it out and watching it skitter across the frozen surface. “What’s next, mountain man? My ass is gonna freeze to this log if we sit much longer.”
“Thank God. I was waiting on you. Mine is frozen,” he laughs, rubbing his hands roughly over his ass as he stands up. Reaching for her hands he pulls her up next to him laughing as she wraps her arms around him to help him with the task.
“You’ve got a nice ass babe, it’s just not as padded as mine. “
“Yea, you tease. You keep reminding me you’ve got all that padding back there but then you never let me fully use it.”
She slaps his ass playfully. “I’m fine with our play back there so far. You just keep tempting me. Some day. “
“Some day.” He takes her hand in his and leads her back into the path.
The pair continue their walk through the woods, startling a doe and her fawn. Talking quietly, they exchange more stories of their childhoods, spilling details about troubles they caused for their parents and high school hijinx.
At the back of the porch, Thalia stops, refusing to follow up the steps. She looks out over the view, her brow furrowed in thought. Chris sits down on the rickety old riser, noting it needs to be fixed soon. Leaning one forearm on his thigh, he waits in wonder at her thoughts. He plays with the buttons at the wrist of the worn plaid shirt, his coat laying next to him, warm from the walk. Lost in her ruminations, he wished he knew where her mind went sometimes. It’s not that he hasn’t been around her on her period before, but she usually takes those days to herself. This is different. Alone in the woods, they are entirely dependent on one another, and she’s not quite herself this afternoon.
Pivoting on her heels, she turns to him, fresh tears in her eyes. “Why did you bring me here Chris?”
The million dollar question. He wished he had a good answer for her. Picking at a scuffed mark on the toe of his hiking boot, he can’t make eye contact with her, although he feels her eyes boring into the top of his head. He decides to go with honesty, just as she did once. “I knew you’d appreciate the history. I wanna win you over; for you to see we’re good together.” He looks up, his eyes fierce. “Fuck, I’m not asking for forever, Thalia. I know you wanna travel and see the world, and Avery scares you a bit, but I want you to see I’m the better man.”
He sees the flash in her eyes, wanting to rise to the defense of the unknown stranger, but he pushes onward. “Even if you don’t choose me, don’t choose him either. He’s not right for you. The bruises, the sadness you sometimes have; constantly hiding your stress. I get it; I do. I lived it but didn’t know it for what it was two years ago. But juggling two of us is running you down. I can see it. But I also know we have fun together, and I don’t wanna lose that.” Rising to her he steps down next to her, placing his hand on her arm, her whole body closed and defensive. He hates the pain in her eyes he causes now. “I’m willing to ignore things just because I like being with you; I hate you have another man, and you still cling to him after all this time. I want it to be me and only me. I feel more alive with you than I have in months; I don’t really know who needs healing most here, but I know I need you.”
“Chris, I… I can’t… I just…”
She turns to walk away, going to the front of the house and he jogs up behind her, grasping her arm and spinning her to him, forcing her to look at him.
“Dammit, Thalia, you can’t just walk away every time something gets rough. I’m telling you how I feel and if you care, you’ll listen. You’ll talk to me. Explain it, because I don’t fuckin’ understand.”
“Don’t you get it, Chris!” She shouts, her voice echoing in the valley, a sound of release. “Don’t you get it,” she repeats, quieter. “I don’t have a damn clue myself. I know it’s a hot mess. And everyone’s gonna be hurt; and it fuckin’ sucks. But I don’t know how to end it, or even if I want to.”
She pulls away from his grasp, walking to the swing hanging under the big tree in front of the cabin. “Are you asking me to make a decision now, because if you are, I just can’t. I keep… I keep hoping when I hear about my internship, I can get my head together. The adult thing…” She sighs, pushing her legs off the ground as she rocks back on the swing. “The adult thing to do is for me to walk away from you both.”
“Wait till the end of the semester?” Chris grabs the rope on the pendulum and stops her in motion, bringing her to a halt as she hits against him. “Just get on the plane and not look back? How does that help make it better?”
She drops her head, placing her hand over his, still clutching the rope. “It doesn’t. And I’d never do that to you.” Looking him in the eyes, she tells her fear. “Leaving either of you cuts me in half. I need to be whole; just a bit longer. You said it about yourself, and I feel it too, I feel alive with you… but,” she chokes on her words. “But I feel the same about him too. I’m sorry. It’s childish; I want you both, and I know I’m going to lose you because of it.”
Righting the swing, he holds the rope with both hands, like a lifeline, looking down on her. She looks small and lonely. Not the Thalia he knows… Words bubble out before he even knows where they come from… “What if… What if I just take myself out of the equation?” Stepping back, he leans against the tree, arms crossed and defensive.
Leaning forward on her knees, her shoulders wrack with silent tears. His heart breaks. That’s the last thing he wants to do, and he doesn’t really want to force his hand. But he doesn’t know if he can see another way out, or another way to get her to make a decision.
Shoving off from the tree, he walks to the porch, pissed this discussion got out of hand. He can’t really take it back now. Maybe harsh words will lead her to a decision?
Gruffly, he says, “Don’t stay out too long. It’ll get cold. I’m going in to pack up my things. We’re going back tonight.”
Fuck. He wants nothing more than to turn back to her. To sweep her in his arms and pretend none of this ever happened. But he needed to speak his piece, to know where he stood and she gave him the perfect opening to get it out there. Before he steps inside the house, he hears her say, “Fuck you. Why’d you go and ruin a perfect weekend?”
He’s not sure if she’s talking to herself or him and the door slams shut behind him.
Click here for Chapter 34 Boots
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