Crashing Down

ch 40 crashing down july 19 2017

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 40

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: 1088

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, hospital, anger, jealousy, concern, anguish

Summary:  Tom’s world falls apart as he begins to see what’s happened without his notice.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

A special thanks to @jennphoenix for allowing use of her edits on the cover and in the story!  She’s an amazing artist; make sure to check out her work!

Having been dismissed by Thalia’s friend, Jim, Tom charges out of the room ahead of the other man; his work enemy.  He can’t even remember why they never got along; it’s almost become a running joke among the staff, but now he has good reason to detest the crass and abrasive man.

Evans wants Thalia as much as he himself does.  And sadly, she seems to be just as smitten.

How the fuck-all did it turn to this?

Entering the waiting room a few doors down, Chris catches up behind him, quietly spitting out his words, dripping with hate and venom.  “Warrior princess? That makes me sick. Let me guess you have her dress up and you role play all your sick little fantasies from-”

Tom spins on his heels to face the man.  In his features close up, Tom sees his hurt and concern despite the calm reserved front he put up in the room for Thalia’s sake.  That should knock him down a peg or two, but Tom hurts too, in more ways than one – and dammit he wants someone else to hurt more.  “Shut up Evans, I punched you once and I’ll do it again.”

In hushed tones, Chris guffaws, scratching his beard.  “Ah, I see… so that’s how it is.  You couldn’t get it up for Kent so you resorted to finding students who would obviously do anything-”

“Evans!  You will stop now.”  A family with a smaller child moves away, possibly fearful of a physical altercation.  “That is Thalia you are talking about.  You know her. And if you know her as I do, I’d reckon you love her… And I will not let you belittle her like this.”

Seething, he pushes the sleeves up on his red sweater, prepared to come to blows if necessary.  Instead, he is met with silence.  “What? Nothing to say about that? I’ve left the dumb American speechless?”

Chris collapses in a chair behind him and hangs his head in shame. Tom leans against the wall next to him, crossing his arms over his chest.  He can’t believe he so easily bested the boastful son of a bitch that grates on his nerves.

Rubbing his hand over his buzz cut, the seated man quietly replies with an undertone of distaste.  “I have nothing to say because you’re right….  Thalia is none of those things… but that damn little submissive thing you seem to have her do… that’s not her.  I like it better when she thinks for herself, takes charge.”

The look on Chris’s face sickens Tom as he stretches out his legs in front of him, leaning back in the chair.  He closes his mind to any images of Thalia with another man.  Tightening his fists, the Brit wants nothing more to beat this man senseless, to knock that smug grin off his face.

“Are you talking as a metaphor for her life rather than what goes on between us?  That woman is always in charge; she does everything on her own. She deserves time to allow her brain to slow and let someone else take the wheel and tell her what to do…  To not have to make decisions for herself all the time.”

Chris scoffs, turning to look at the thud of a falling soda hitting the bin in the vending machine.  Standing up, he faces the tall, slender man.  “If that’s your kink… you’re missing out on a lot of other fun.”

His look is pure hatred and Tom’s blood boils that it’s Thalia’s reputation at the root of it.  Tom grabs his shoulder and steps into him.  “Evans, shut the fuck up before I call security and have you removed from this hospital… or better yet turn Big Jim against you.  You’re the one with the collection of students, not me.”

Chris doesn’t even respond to this barb, crossing the room and getting a snack from one of the machines. He sits down on a bank of chairs under the window, the lights of the city glowing in the morning sky.

The tension in the small waiting room is thick and most people have moved out to find other spaces.  A good fifteen minutes of silence pass.  Tom moves closer, falling into a chair nearby, physically and mentally exhausted from the day’s’ events.

edit Jenn phoenix TH.jpg

In the quiet between them, Chris finally replies.  “None of those stories are true. I only had eyes for my wife, but she obviously didn’t feel the same.  She killed me and stomped on my heart.  I forgot how to live.  If it wasn’t for my daughter I’d have given up, but I was just going through the motions.  It wasn’t until I met Thalia that I woke up, began to live again…”

The man’s heartfelt words hang in the air.  How fucked has this become?

Tom realizes it was his idea they see other people to take suspicion off themselves. But he’d intended it as a ruse, dutiful pretending. For fuck’s sake, he had never considered losing her to another man…if he’s lost her.

Running his hands over his face before resting them to his forehead, his thoughts roam.  He chides himself.  How ironic.  Here he is, a man who’s been a commitment phobe for years, who made a vow to stick to affairs or simply stay single and bury himself in books… He loves travel, loves reading, loves teaching just as much – so he hasn’t really missed all the dating hype.

Until last year when a certain curvy, genius of a woman turned his life upside down. Thalia has made him question everything, most of all his own desires and dreams.

How is that even possible? Is Thalia ‘the one’ for him?

His head pounds at the thoughts.  If she is, why hasn’t he taken the last step and allowed her fully into his life?

And is he ‘the one’ for her too?

A quick glance at his colleague in the chair deepens Tom’s frown. Isn’t Evans’s presence here an answer to the last question? He rubs at the knot of tension at the back of his neck.

He can’t think, can’t make sense of his own jumbled emotions. This is so fucked up it’s beyond his grasp.  And no, he definitely shouldn’t ask himself whether what they’ve shared has really been as special to Thalia as it has been to him over these last several months.

Scratching the overnight stubble on his chin, Tom admits to the universe, “She does have that effect on people….”

Click to read Chapter 41 Acceptance

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Emergency

ch 39 Emergency July 16 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 39

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.

WARNING- THIS STORY COULD FEATURE DETAILS THAT ARE TRIGGERING TO SOME INDIVIDUALS.  IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS BEFORE READING THE CHAPTER, PLEASE CONTACT THE AUTHORS

Word count: 2543

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, hospital, discussions of violence, police questioning, anger, jealousy, concern, anguish

Summary:  Chris and Tom are at Thalia’s side when she needs them most…

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

WARNING- THIS STORY COULD FEATURE DETAILS THAT ARE TRIGGERING TO SOME INDIVIDUALS.  IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS BEFORE READING THE CHAPTER, PLEASE CONTACT THE AUTHORS

Rounding the corner in a rush, Chris can hear the clipped British voice he hates so much, now with even more reason to do so.  But he acknowledges it sounds panicked and hurt.  Fuck, the man is just as damaged by this as he is…  Should have known he was on her emergency call list in her phone too.  Bet she never thought it would actually be needed, or that they’d have to meet this way…  He slows his pace and walks up to the counter.  “Any news?” he asks quietly to Professor Hiddleston.

Tom turns to him, fear and exasperation in his eyes.  “Dammit.  Should have known you’d be here…  They won’t tell me a damn thing.  Maybe you’ll have better luck.”

“Well, you’re kinda tall and creepy, like walking Death. No one wants to see that in a hospital.  Sit your ass down.”  Chris wryly laughs and offers a crooked smile, to ease the tensions.  Hiddleston’s eyes grow wide and his mouth drops, then snaps shut.  He nods and walks to the bank of chairs along the wall to have a seat.  He drops down with defeat and hangs his head in his hands, pinching and rubbing the bridge of his nose.

Chris scratches at the scruff on his chin and adjusts his glasses.  A phone call from a cop at three am telling you there’s been an accident is never a good thing.  Looking at the name tag of the nurse, he pulls himself together and puts on an act of calm, trying to disguise his pain better than Hiddleston.  “Excuse me, Nurse Kelly?  I received a call that Thalia Bareo was brought here?  She was in some sort of accident?  That gentleman over there-” he gestures to the chairs “- and I are both on her emergency call list.  She has no family here and we’d like some information please.”

She smiles into his blue eyes and he bats them once or twice for good measure.  “Bareo?  They’ve just brought her back from putting on a cast.”  Chris can feel Tom’s presence as he steps up to the counter behind him to listen.  “According to this list of injuries, her arm is broken. She also has two cracked ribs, stitches on her cheek from a gash, and some damage to her knee that is still to be determined.”

Tom sighs, resting his fist on the counter, “All that from a car accident?”

Looking at her computer screen, a grimace darkens her face.  “No.  Not a car accident.  I’m sorry, sir, but she was a victim of assault.”

“Holy shit,” Chris hisses.  “Was she raped?  Where there signs of rape?”

She shakes her head, no.  “She was conscious when they brought her in.  She has bruising on her body, but she was adamant that no rape had occurred and rejected subjecting herself to a search.”

With worry, Chris picks up on one thing the young nurse said.  “She was conscious?  She’s not now?”

The nurse shakes her head.  “The pain meds are pretty strong; she’s been drifting in and out.  The police have been waiting to ask her more questions about her attack.  And a counselor should be in with her soon, just to check her mental state.”

“Thank you for your help; can we see her now?”  Hiddleston asks, his usual air of propriety returned.

Smiling, Nurse Kelly replies, “She’s down in 604.  She’s bruised pretty badly; be prepared.”

Chris backs away from the counter and makes eye contact with Tom.  “Do you have any idea what the fuck happened?”

Bowing his head and ushering Chris in front, Tom simply replies, “Guess we’ll find out when we get there.”

The men walk in awkward silence down the hall, greeting the officers waiting outside her door.  The lead cop asks them for information, but both men have nothing to add and they are allowed to enter her room.

A faint light is on over her head, giving off an angelic glow to her wild mass of hair.  A row of suture tapes railroad across her left cheek.  Blood spatters still dot across her face and her hairline.  Plastic tubing runs from her nose to an apparatus providing her with fresh oxygen.  Her eyes are closed and seem sunk in, dark circles underneath. One hand lays next to her on the bed, tubes in it, most likely for pain medications to be administered intravenously.  Her other arm rests across her chest in a sling and cast, reaching up above her elbow on her right side.  Her leg is obviously propped up on a pillow under the blankets.

Biting back the rising bile in his throat, Chris chuckles instead.  “Gawd, she’d hate that.”  He steps forward and pulls the tight blankets loose from her feet and uncovers her toes, pressing them gently with his firm touch.

“What?” Tom asks quietly as he steps forward.  He pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and wets it with water from a jug on the bedside table.  Carefully, he begins to dab away at the dried blood.

“You know, how she hates having her feet covered with blankets when she sleeps?”  Chris replies, watching the man closely.

Tom stills.  His eyes dart to Chris, but he does not turn his head, continuing with his task.  Sadness fills his voice.  “No, that’s something I didn’t know.”

Well that clears up his question as to why she’s available most nights he shows up at the bar…  He’s the one who gets to actually sleep with her… Score one point!

Jesus fuckin Christ, Evans!  Warped sense of humor?  That’s how you’re going to get through this?  

Yes. He looks at all the monitors, but none of the numbers and jagged lines running on the screen make sense.  All that matters is the beeping of her heart.  She’s still here. Whatever happened, we can get her through this…

Drifting from sleep, Thalia raises her hand and tries to bat away at Tom’s.  Her eyes flutter open and the first face she sees is his.  A weak smile breaks from her chapped lips.  “You’re really here?”  she chokes out.  “I’m not dreaming?”

Chris watches as Tom’s eyes fill with tears.  It’s hard for him to see through his own watery eyes…  The tall man pushes back a wayward curl and kisses her forehead tenderly.  Her eyes close as she soaks in his touch.  “It’s not a dream, darling, I’m here.  My warrior princess, I’m always here for you.”

Chris clears his throat and her eyes dart to his.  Tears spill over the edge of her dark eyes and the drops cling to her lashes as they run down her face.

“Chris.  He… he didn’t break me.  I’m just a little battered.”  Her smile grows.

Chris walks to her side and takes her hand in his.  He traces his touch along the palm of her hand, ignoring the searing gaze from Hiddleston.  Raising her hand, he sweetly places a chaste kiss in the center of her palm before lacing his fingers with hers.  “Just a little battered, Niña” he repeats his tears falling too.

watching over in hospital.gif

The trio sits in silence a few moments as her fingers run over his and Tom continues to wash her face.  A knock on the door announces the entry of two of the officers with more questions for her.

Slowly the story unfolds.  Donnie, the bar regular who often hits on her and gets kicked out for lewd behavior, attacked her in the stairwell of her apartment.  As soon as she says his name and tells them Jim, the owner of the bar, would know where to find him, one of the officers leaves.  The other elderly man remains to take her statement.  He’s kind and not pushy, and treats her with kid gloves, aware of her fragile state of mind.

She tells how he snuck in behind her, pushing her down.  He called her horrible names and said nasty things, how they fought and kicked at each other as she tried to run up the stairs to get to her apartment.  Her assailant pulled her leg, yanking her back to him and her knee hit the step and her face too, resulting in the gash.  Her eyes are closed as the tears stream down her face and she avoids eye contact with any of the men in the room.

Her attacker ripped her leggings and pushed up her skirt and she feared for herself, but when he struggled with his own pants, she had squirmed away from him, jabbing him with her keys and kicking him backwards and the man fell down the steps.  She began to try to run down them, to climb over him, thinking escaping the building was a better option.  She’d called out to her neighbors for help but no one came.

All the men freeze when this thought halts her and she sobs, Chris squeezing her hand to remind her she came through it.

“No one came to help,” she cries, her eyes searching his.  He chokes out his own sobs, no longer hiding his pain as he holds her hand tighter.  When he hears a faint echo, he realizes the sounds are Tom’s cries as well.

“When I ran past him again, he jumped up quickly and was on me.  He slammed my arm into the metal railing.  When I dropped from the instant pain, throwing up, that’s when he threw his weight against me…”

Tom’s eyes widen in horror and his face shows the sickening in his stomach from just hearing about her attack.

She wiggles her hand free from Chris and covers her mouth, hiding behind it as she gets to the hardest part of the story.  “That’s when he punched me and he… he had himself out and he was gonna… He was gonna rape me.“  She spits out the words, determined to finish her tale.  “And he punched me again and told me he was gonna fuck me and make me suck his cock and that I was a slutty whore and I’d like it.  He pushed me against the stairs and I felt my ribs break against the steps and he was ripping at my clothes, but I kept hitting back and scratching him, his face and I started to black out, the pain in my arm and my chest was so bad.  Tina.  Tina saved me.”

“Chris,” she grabs his sweater.  “Chris, Tina saved me.”

She collapses back and seems to faint, her heart rate resting on the monitor as the beats still.  Chris hadn’t been aware of the increased beeping until it actually slowed.

“Who’s Tina?”  the officer asks.  Chris shares with the cop what little he knows about the homeless woman and tells where they might be able to find her for more information.

“Are we done for now, officer?  She seems to have reached her limit,”  Tom interjects.

The cop nods.  “Unless you have anything else to add, it looks like we’re done here for the time being.”

“Were you at the scene?”  Tom inquires of the officer.  “Are we sure there was no rape?”

Solemnly, the man places his notebook in his pocket.  “There was a lot of blood on the steps. Some spatter on the wall.  You can see he banged her up pretty bad.  It looked like she fought back.  There was puke, like she said. A bloody handprint was found on the door, possibly left behind when the attacker exited the building.  If it’s his, we got him.  Her clothes, although ripped and disheveled, were still intact.  The 911 call was from a woman, possibly this Tina?  And she was covered in a blanket when we arrived at the scene.  Whoever called it in, wrapped her up and took off.  She’s very lucky.  And the fact she recognized him should help a lot.”

He hands both men his card and tells them to be in contact if they have more information or questions, and quietly leaves.

Hiddleston rounds on Chris.  “How the fuck does something like this happen?  How do you know all these things?”  His voice rises and he storms away from the bed, balling his fists.

Finding vaseline in a drawer by the bed, Chris tends to Thalia’s chapped lips and adjusts her back comfortably on the bed.  “I hang out at the bar a lot; I know the people there.  I watch her work.  I should have recognized the asshole for what a piece of shit he really was; but she’s a different person there.  Not the academic, driven force we usually see and know.  It’s like a flip side to her personality; very gritty and earthy.  It’s one of the things I admire about her.”

He drops back into a chair folding his hands across his chest and hoping to get some rest.  No one has come in to tell them they had to leave, and he plans to stay by her side until he’s forcibly removed, he thinks with a crooked smile.

“Smiling? What the hell have you got to smile about, Evans?” Tom asks, his hand on the back of the chair, looming over Chris.

Chris isn’t sure when the man advanced on him.  He’ll have to keep his guard up.  He never expected Professor Hiddleston to be such an aggressive sort or so agitated under pressure.

“Honestly, I was smiling just thinking about how sassy Thalia can be.  The fact it gets on your nerves that I’m smiling is an added bonus.  You’re fuckin’ crazy if you think-”

The door opens and Tom steps back.  A burly man enters with a duffle bag over his shoulder.  “Who the hell are you?”  Seeing Chris, Jim asks, “Who the hell is he?”

“That?  That would be her other boyfriend,” Chris jokes.

Reading Jim’s expression, Chris throws his head back in laughter.  “Gawd, no.  Not like that.  Jesus, Jim.”  Chris rises from the chair and moves next to the man, his attention now solely on Thalia, asleep in the bed. “She sees us separately, Jim.  This is Tom Hiddleston. Tom this is Jim, the owner of the bar and a long time family friend.”

Jim stares at Tom’s outstretched hand and Tom drops it dejectedly when the man refuses to accept it.

“Tom? As in the big important Professor Tom?  The one with the Shakespeare and the fancy words and expeditions?”  He looks to Chris, and Chris tilts his head to affirm his questioning.  “I should fuckin’ call the Dean tomorrow and have your job; taking advantage of a student like that.”

Tom starts to defend himself, but Chris isn’t sure of his mental state and wants to avoid any kind of confrontation.  “Jim, let’s not do anything too hasty.  One thing at a time right now, don’t you think?”

Jim sighs heavily, “You know I don’t like you very much either… Is it true; was it Donnie?”

Tom wanders away to stare back out the window.  Chris shares an empathetic glance with him before turning his attention back to the fatherly man.  He fills him in on the details and when Jim asks to be alone with her, both men kindly leave as the sun begins to break over the horizon.

Click here to read Chapter 40 Crashing Down

Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

Rage

et ch 38 Rage July 12 2017.jpg

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 38

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: 1424

Warnings:  Language, Adult Situations, anger, jealousy

Summary: After leaving Tom’s office, Thalia faces Chris.

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Marching down the hallway, Thalia ignores when Professor Kent calls out her name from the faculty lounge as she passes by.  Jesus fuckin’ Christ.  She’s already got two staff members falling at her feet, she doesn’t need another one.  Her excited high from finding out about Paris is slowly being replaced with a headache as she runs up the back stairway to the next floor.  She knows it’s her fault, but Chris takes some of the blame for this explosion.  Opening the door, she feigns an air of professionalism as she enters the wing established for the History Department.  Students and professors are milling about, finishing up meetings and waiting for the next class sessions to begin.

Eying Chris at the end of the hall, she makes her way to him, her heart pounding in anger with each step.  She can’t mistake the swollen lip or the spot of dried blood on his shirt collar. Jesus, did the men actually come to blows about it?  He spies her and enters his office, trying to shut her out, but she gets her foot in the door before he can close it.

“Leave, Thalia.  I’m not in the mood.”  His voice drips with venom as he crosses the small room, plopping down on the couch.  Thalia realizes he’s clutching an ice pack in his large hand, holding it tenderly to his jaw.  She’s torn between caring for him or raining down hellfire.

Her anger wins.

“What the fuck did you do?” she seethes, her husky tone low to avoid traveling through thin walls.  “What gave you the right to open your damn mouth?”

The sassy Latina wants to throw something; to hit him- and he sits in silence, but she can see his anger raging too.

A heated flash of hate sex floats in her mind.  She shifts her weight from foot to foot to alleviate the ache between her legs.

Leaning forward, he rests his elbows on his knees, the blood pulsing through the veins in his neck.  Hot as fuck.  His dilated pupils tell her he’s thinking the same thing and debating his next step.

“I know what you’re doing… I told you to get out.  I don’t wanna do this.  You had your fun, and I don’t want to be a pawn in this sick little game any more.”  He adjusts the legs of his tight jeans and his hard on is obvious.  His words might be what his brain thinks but his body is telling her something else.

“Fuck that, Chris.  We started as a one night stand.  A quick lay from a night in the bar; that’s what you were looking for right?  Someone to ease your pain?  I was fuckable; no one else was around.  I told you I was with someone else; but you stuck around.  You got what you wanted, when you wanted it.  You’re just pissed because of who it is.”  She scoffs.  “You had to have known it wasn’t some college boy teaching me those tricks.  You benefited from it, so what the fuck is your problem?”  Her tone slices coldly through the air.  She bites back the bile in her throat at thinking of herself or their relationship in that way.

“I just can’t.  Thalia, you know… you know I wasn’t just looking for a quick fuck every now and then..  It just… It sickens me to think you were down there, practically right below where I sit now, fucking him on his desk,” his words are fire and wound her. “That’s the part that pisses me off, you being his fuck toy and-”

“Chris, it’s not like-”

Slamming his fist down on the table he lifts his eyes to her.  “The hell it isn’t!  It is…. The bruises?  Your insecurities?  It makes me sick.  I just wanna go to the dean and report his shit and-”

His anger takes hold as he jumps up from his seated position.  Instead of moving back like she had with Tom she steps forward. She’s not afraid of his fury, his passion.  She wants to feed off it…

In her heels, she’s right at his eye level and she can feel the heat rolling off him. Blood boils and a thrill of rage snakes through her stomach.  “Fuck that.  That’s bullshit and we both know it.  That would take all three of us down and ruin all chances of any of us working in academia ever again.  Say it, Chris.  Say what really fucking has you pissed.”

She knows.  She needs to hear it.  Wants to hear it.

“You fucked him; you were fucking him the whole time we were building… something together.  I don’t know what?  I never thought I’d fucking fall in-  No.  Out.  Get out.” Grabbing her by the left arm, he pulls her to the door.  But not before she saw it all written on his beautifully chiseled face.

When she jerks away from him, his voice rises in outrage.  “Oh, so he’s allowed to grab you, throw you around a little and leave bruises, but I can’t?”

“You asshole… That’s not it, that’s not how it happens any more than how you leave bruises on my hips.”  Tugging on her hair in frustration her fingers tangle in the curls, and she growls.  “Dammit, you’re being a dick.  You didn’t even give me the chance to tell him.  Instead you went charging in like… like a meatball frat boy.”  She tips her chin, using it to point at the blood on his shirt collar.  “Who threw the first punch?”

“Fucker, hit harder than I thought he would.”  He rubs his jaw, flinching at the pain. “Fighting for your honor, I suppose.  But really, you’ve been pretty open with me, I guess I kinda assumed he knew, so on that point, and that point only, I’ll apologize.  Yea, it was a shitty thing to do. I’m sorry.”

She purses her lips together.  “And just exactly where did this display of testosterone take place?”

He rolls his eyes.  “Down in line to check out books.”  His tone drops, a tinge of embarrassment in the words.

“Oh, Jesus, Chris!  How fuckin’ stupid? In front of students?  Faculty?  You’re a selfish ass, you know that?  You didn’t even give me a chance… And now?  Now?”  Her voice raises, shaking her head in disgust.  “I feel like I don’t even know who you are.  I didn’t expect you to get all territorial.  I know you’re mad, but you should have talked to me.  I deserved that much.  I’m a little fuckin’ pissed at you right now too, and -”

“Go.” Opening the door, he gives her a little shove, depositing her into the hallway.  “Go before we both say things we don’t mean.  Maybe I’ll feel different when I calm down, but right now I just need space.”

He shuts the door on her, leaving her to stare at it in disbelief.

Love.  He was going to say love.

And the daily question returns to twist in her brain: what the hell am I doing?

#

Two drinks and she knows it’s time to head home.  The headache from her eventful day held on with biting teeth and the alcohol isn’t easing the sting.  But she feels numb, just numb enough to crawl into her bed alone.  To cry herself to sleep because she knows her sheets smell like Chris’s cologne.  The scent seems to linger now, even after washing the bedding so many times.  She wonders how Tom never noticed it, but then again, they’d never had sex in her bed.  Except for a few recent movie nights, he’d never really spent time in her place.

She readies her keys as she crosses the deserted street.  It’s late enough she figures someone else already let Tina inside for the night.  Some lights are still on above in one of the neighbor’s apartments, but the older building seems a little rundown in the moonlight.  A car passes and honks at her, not that she was really in the way of the traffic.  She exhales into the cold night and the smell of booze assaults her nose, causing it to scrunch up.  Running her tongue over her teeth she decides the first task when entering her apartment will be to brush her teeth.

Opening the door she walks into the lit stairwell.  She stops to check her mailbox, not paying attention to the door closing behind her.  She thinks about her yellow toothbrush in the cabinet.  Next to the blue one Chris uses.

She jumps when the slurred voice behind her issues his greeting.  “Hey, sweetheart.  Got some love for me?”

Click here to read Chapter 39 Emergency

WARNING- THE NEXT CHAPTER COULD FEATURE DETAILS THAT ARE TRIGGERING TO SOME INDIVIDUALS.  IF YOU HAVE CONCERNS BEFORE READING THE CHAPTER, PLEASE CONTACT THE AUTHORS

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

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et ch 33 choose june 25 2017

Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 33

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

 Copyright © 2017  avenger-nerd-mom and devikafernando.  All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom