By avenger-nerd-mom & devikafernando
AU Fan Fiction
In the sequel to Educating Thalia, the lovely Thalia Bareo is growing up, making her own way in the world after losing both men she loved, Professors Chris Evans and Tom Hiddleston. The sassy full-figured Puerto Rican girl from Chicago holds down a job in Madrid as she tries to deal with the real world. She continues her studies and freelances as a consultant for museums around the world. Being Thalia updates are posted on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Warning: As a whole, this work contains adult content. If you proceed you have agreed that you are willing to see such content. Each chapter will not be coded with individual warnings. The overall story contains no hidden triggers.
If you are new to the series and characters, click here to the beginning of Educating Thalia.
If you are looking for other stories in the sequel, click here for the beginning of Being Thalia
Word Count: 1374
Summary: Tom contemplates mistakes he’s made, when a small window of opportunity is presented to him.
Previous Chapter, Open Wounds
Two nights later, Tom is pacing the floor in his hotel room. He’s already been in the city five days, and he’s not getting anywhere with Thalia. What a fool! How could he have been so self-centered to have believed she’d have welcomed him back with opened arms? If he hadn’t known she’d loved another in his absence, he’d believe she’d been hardened by him… Adding in whatever transpired between her and… and… the American asshole… she has been broken by the men who promised to love her the most. Walking past the table, he grabs the chilled tumbler, carrying it out onto the balcony, watching the late night city, still in motion.
Leaning on the rail, he blames himself for her black heart. He could have easily gone back to the States with her, picked up his old job at the University as well. He’d essentially pushed her back into… He blanches at the name in the back of his throat… Evans. He’d pushed her back into Evans’ arms, simply because he still hadn’t been ready to make the full commitment he felt she deserved. He’d stormed out of their Paris apartment three years ago, never giving her a chance to explain her wishes, never really discussing their lives as a couple.
He drains the glass, resting it on the metal rail. His damn hurt pride simply took her desire to move back to America as a rejection from her. And she was right with her accusation, about not being able to forget, wasn’t she? He can’t even think about the other man in her life without flinching. Because it hurts, dammit. It hurts as if he’s bleeding all over the place, even though in a corner of his mind he knows she needed the American wanker as much as him. With a sigh, Tom runs his finger along the rim of the tumbler. She’s asked for forgiveness. Can he offer her that? Is that really the one thing keeping them apart? He never-
The ringing phone interrupts his thoughts. Walking back into the room, he traces the sound to his unmade bed. Her name flashes across the screen. Caressing his hand over his spotty ginger beard, the action calms him. He takes a deep breath before answering the call.
With no pretense of formalities, Thalia jumps halfway into a conversation. “What did you mean when you said I wouldn’t like your answer, when I asked why you wouldn’t listen to me?”
In low tones, his laughter, ‘eheheh,’ rumbles through his chest. “Ah, dearest Thalia. So thoughts of me are keeping you up late at night?” He falls back onto the bed, crooking his arm behind his head and crossing his feet.
She scoffs. “Couldn’t sleep, so I started thinking. It happens a lot… It’s not got anything to do with you. Those just happened to be the thoughts in my head tonight.”
He smiles, fantasizing about what she’s wearing, what she might be doing in her bed, alone, late at night. With just the thought of him…. “Mmm… keep telling yourself that.” Chuckling at her denial, he asks, “You really want to talk? It might be painful.”
The silence on the line is deafening.
Her sultry natural tone is low and wounded. “No more pain than I’m already in,” she admits.
Tom’s heart softens. He sighs and carefully thinks over his words. If a part of her ice wall has chipped away, he has to measure his words carefully. If she shuts him out now, all hope of ever winning her back is lost. He mimics her low resonance. “I just… Well, Thalia, it’s difficult to put into words, but I’ve always felt so connected to you, like I could read you… the most beautiful book I’ve ever held in my hands.” He sits up, pulling another pillow close and tucking it behind his head. “I hear your words, telling me to go away. But.. but your body vibrates whenever I’m near, and that hasn’t changed after all this time, and your eyes… your eyes beg me to stay.”
His concession is met with more silence. After a moment, he worries the call disconnected. “Thalia?”
“I’m here.” She breathes out slowly. “You’re not wrong… but you have to respect my words, Tom.”
Tom chuckles. “I’m not a caveman, Thalia. I would never force you to do anything without your consent.” Her continued silence chills him. His tone becomes authoritative. “Thalia? Do you feel I took advantage of you in the past?”
He hears her shift. “I don’t know. Maybe? I wasn’t a child, but maybe I wasn’t mature enough for the decisions I made-”
“Thalia, you were all woman. You always have been and-”
“That’s not how I mean it. But you were the professor, someone a student should trust and depend on…” She sighs. “After teaching, seeing how young those kids are, I started to look at my past differently… I’m in therapy now, looking back on key moments in my life. You definitely rate at the top of the list… I was so attracted to you, intrigued by your intelligence. And you were the first to value that in me. It was sexy and empowering.” She pauses to cough before continuing. “All my life, I was made to feel like an outcast, because of my size, and because I was loud and liked to dig in the dirt. Moving away? Going to college? It saved me. Being around other people like me, having intellectual conversations. It was so freeing. But I was still the fat girl, the butt of the joke, the ‘one night stand’ left over from the drunken frat party.”
“Oh, darling,” he murmurs, hearing the tightness in her chest. He can only picture the silent tears starting to streak down her beautiful face.
She sniffs. “It’s true. It’s like, I’m not proud of it, but I don’t regret it either. I guess you could say those were mutually gratifying exchanges… Do you remember the night you came to my apartment, as a friend, as my mentor, my boss, to check on me after Amy died? That was the last time I ever used rational thought where you were concerned-”
“We’ve talked about that night before, Thalia. You know it took every nerve ending in my body to hold me back from ravaging you then-”
“Why do you keep using my name?” She asks in a whisper.
Tom chuckles again, and closes his eyes. “You’re like a jumpy mare. I’m afraid if I use any term of endearment, you’ll run and hide.” He pictures this conversation, her curled to his side as he caresses over her hair to calm her fears.
“Probably so,” she chuckles. “I might yell at you again… oh, I’m rambling. It’s late and I’m beginning to not understand myself. I can’t keep on the path I’m trying to express. Maybe we should continue this later.”
He nods, although she can’t see him, sitting in her own apartment, halfway across the city. “Another time then. There’s still much to discuss.” He licks his lips nervously. “Thalia, I think I made a mistake by coming here, and trying to… well, whatever it is I’m trying to do. I’m thinking I should go back to London soon. I have arrangements I need to make back home now that my life path has changed yet again.”
She sucks in her breath, before letting it out slowly. “Would you like a private tour of the museum tomorrow afternoon?”
Shocked she’s offered to spend more time with him, he happily accepts the invitation. “I thought you’d never ask! Tomorrow around eleven?”
“Make it around one. School groups will clear out by then and it will be quieter.” She yawns. “I’ll see you tomorrow then? Sleep well.”
“You as well, Miss Bareo.”
Tom wants to add a million other things, take them back to the past. She should dream of him, as he will of her, inevitably and always. But he hasn’t got the right to do that anymore, does he? And it’s mostly his own bloody fault.
Looking dejectedly at the blank phone screen, he clings to what little hope her invitation has sparked in him.
“Don’t fuck this up, Hiddleston,” he mutters to himself. “You’ve already hurt her more than enough.”
Click here to read Chapter 20, Museum Musings
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