Labor of Love

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Labor of Love

*an Emery&Chris fan fiction*

By avenger-nerd-mom

Word Count:  2363

Summary: Chris and Emery finally welcome their new little one into the world.

April 2019

Walking back to his trailer, Chris fumbles for his phone, nearly dropping it in the bright sun. He squints at the screen, wishing he had his sunglasses with him. The sunlight is deceiving- it’s not as warm as it appears. But since the weekend is supposed to be warmer, he promised his nephews a day at the park Saturday. Watching them play soccer. He chuckles, remembering all the “hot soccer Dad” comments Emery told him about after the weekend press conference.

“Call Emery,” he speaks softly into the phone, waving at a group of fans standing across the street. His handler opens the trailer and he steps inside, flopping in the seat closest to the door. He waits to see her face, surprised when she simply answers as a call, rather than a video chat.

“Hey, Jellybean!” Emery weakly exclaims. “You about done on set today?”

Chris reaches for the call sheet on the other end of the couch. Glancing over it, he replies, “Yeah, about another hour or two. They wanna reshoot one scene, but it shouldn’t take long-”
“Was that an actual ice cream shop, or a set? You know I want ice cream.”

“Fuckin’ internet… You’ve already seen fan photos, haven’t you?” Chris chuckles. “Yes, it was a real store.” Ice cream has been one of her pregnancy cravings, along with steak and Capn’ Crunch Peanut Butter cereal.  He can’t keep track of her favorites from week to week. Hell, it’s probably changed in the few days while I was gone to LA for Endgame promo. “What do you want me to bring home?”

“Something with toffee, and pecans.” She says the word in her funny little Southern drawl, ‘pea-CANS.’ “Buttery, vanilla, not chocolate. But, babe, don’t bring it home.” She clears her throat. Stronger, she tells him, “I need you to bring it to the hospital.”

Chris sits up tall, dropping both feet to the floor, ready to jump up in action. “Hospital! Emery, are you in labor? Why didn’t you call me!”

“You’re a nervous Nelly. And I knew you were looking forward to today’s shoot. Labor’s gonna take forever. The only thing you’ve missed so far is me throwing up, more than once, and sleeping.” She yawns, making a little puffing sound. “Real exciting stuff.”

Dammit, she would keep it to herself, not to worry me… Throwing open the trailer door, he waves the closest staffer over. Holding the phone between his ear and shoulder, he grabs the man’s clipboard and scribbles, ‘Labor. Leaving. Top Secret.’ Pushing the board back to the shocked man, he lunges for his keys on the counter, exiting the trailer in two large steps and slamming the door behind him. “Tell me everything,” he growls into the phone.

There’s a pause, and he can’t hear her over the sound of the crowd yelling at him. “Chris, relax. If you rush outta there like a mad man, it’ll be all over the Internet before you can even get here. I don’t want fans or press showing up here. We talked about that. Call me back when you get to the car. I promise, you’re not gonna miss the birth of our baby.”

She sounds tired, worn out. “Em? Is everything okay?”

“Just get here.”

The phone line goes silent. Staring at the phone, he can’t believe she hung up on him. Or called him a ‘nervous Nelly.’ What even is that Southernism? He shakes his head, and makes a beeline to another staffer, trying to remember his plan of attack if this situation came about this way. Quickly explaining his predicament, he asks the man to get the ice cream, telling him to come find the unmarked sedan on the back of the lot. Chris smiles wryly at the man’s confused expression as he turns towards the car that’s been provided to get him to and from set with little recognition.

As the man jogs away, one of the executive producers walks up to Chris, pointing him in the opposite direction. “I heard. Congratulations,” he offers, clapping his hand on Chris’s shoulder. “Tabby’s gonna drive you. That’ll help you pull yourself together. I’ll send John over with the ice cream.” He speaks into his walkie talkie, relaying a new delivery point for the pint. “You can get outta here in just a few minutes. She doin’ okay?”

Chris shrugs his shoulders, his face expressing his unease. “No clue. She hung up. I’m guessing Ma is with her, but no one told me anything. That’s pretty fucked up,” he mumbles.

“Man, relax, women been havin’ babies for centuries. At least it’s early, and you’re not on another continent…” Chris bows his head, realizing how lucky he is for this small favor. “Call me with the news, and we can shift some schedules around. Take the family time you need.” He pats Chris on the back, passing him off to Tabby, the set intern.

“Family,” Chris sighs, his heart swelling with pride.

***

Settled in the back of the car, ice cream rested next to his thigh, Chris calls Emery again.

His mother in law answers the call. “She’s sleeping, Chris. The medicines make her fall asleep at the drop of a hat, mid-sentence. Want me to wake her?”

“Anita, just tell me. What’s wrong? I’m trying to get there as fast as I can.” He calculates quickly. “Traffic, this time of day, I can make it over there in about thirty minutes.”

“Believe me, son. You’ve got time. This little one is gonna be just as stubborn as it’s Daddy. Baby E doesn’t wanna say hello just yet.”

He nervously wipes his beard, watching out the front window as the driver maneuvers around traffic.

“Chris, she’s okay. Her amniotic fluid started to leak while we were on our morning walk. She wasn’t really having contractions or anything, but we decided to call Dr. Puckett. She was already at the hospital and told us to come in.” She breathes out slowly. “Emery’s having contractions, small but not enough to move the delivery along. Because of all the troubles she’s had, the medical team decided to give her Pitocin to speed things up, not put any more stress on her body.” His mother in law sighs. “She’s strong, honey. She’s gonna be okay. The medicines made her sick, but she’s walked around some-

“Why didn’t anyone call?” He swallows hard, trying to hold back his irritation.

“You know her, she wouldn’t let us. Said you were working, and Dr. Puckett said things were going to be slow. She begged your mom and I not to call you-

“Let me talk to Ma,” he barks, hitting his head back against the seat.

His mom’s soothing voice immediately calms him. “Chris, sweetheart. Everyone’s fine. She wanted you to work. The doc agreed it was gonna be several hours. You’re gonna be here. Baby E will be a week or two early, but healthy, and it’ll give you something to talk about on the the press tour besides spilling Marvel secrets.” There’s noise and a low moaning, almost a whimper. He taps the back of the driver’s seat and motions to drive faster. When his mother speaks again, she tells him. “The doc just came in here now, and it looks like they’re gonna attach a monitor around her belly. She’s waking up and you’ll be able to see her when you get here.”

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With only the sack of ice cream in his hand, he jogs down the long hallway. He tips his hat low to avoid recognition. Other new fathers carry flowers or stuffed animals, and somewhere down the hallway, a small baby cries. Normally the activity in the maternity wing would make him smile, but today he can only focus on one thing. His wife.

His love. His life. His whole world.

Nearing the room, he spies Dr. Puckett ahead, looking over a patient chart with another nurse. He stands back, leaning against the wall, clearing his throat and waiting for her attention. She lifts her head at the sound, smiling. With a small, delicate motion of her hand, she waves him over. “Chris, good to see you.” She shakes his hand, and nods to the nurse at her side. “This is Amber, she’s the best. She’s been with Emery all day, and plans to stay through, all right?” He nods. “Have you seen her yet?”

Crumpling the bag tighter in his hand, he shakes his head no.

“She looks a little pale, but she’s tough. Her body isn’t responding to the Pitocin, and she’s only dilated about four centimeters. With the amniotic fluid leaking, she does run a risk of infection-”

“Doc, is she going to be okay? I don’t wanna be an ass, but we can make another baby or adopt, but God help me, if anything happens to her-”

Placing her hand on Chris’s arm, Dr. Jamie Puckett’s exhaustion shows on her face. “Emery is fine, I promise, but the baby’s heart rate is dropping. The nurses are going to come in soon, and prep her for a C-section. I know that wasn’t really the plan, but in order to keep baby and Mom safe, I think it’s best.”

“Does she know yet?” Chris asks, trying to keep his voice steady.

The doctor shakes her head. “No, I was waiting till you arrived. Why don’t you go see her for a few minutes, and then I’ll be in and we’ll go get Baby E. You’ll be holding your baby within the next few hours.”

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Chris stirs from his chair as the nurse comes in, the morning rounds just beginning.

“Sorry to wake you,” she whispers.

Wiping the sleep from his eyes, he stands, his old bones creaking. Shit, maybe I’m too old for this Dad stuff, he thinks. “Didn’t get much rest.” The gravel in his voice is proof. He’d spent the night watching his wife and their tiny little one sleeping.

He needs coffee, in an IV, stat.

Memories of the night before flash through his mind, like a movie montage, nothing settled in place to seem real yet. The quiet afternoon, watching her sleep. Her strength and string of expletives when the epidural was administered. The rush to the operating room as both Emery’s and baby’s heart rates dropped. Suiting up in his new favorite uniform. Standing helpless, not wanting to see on the other side of the curtain. Holding their baby for the first time. Calling the mothers in for their first peek. The first attempt at breastfeeding.

The nurse checks some readings on the monitors, making notes in her charts. She quietly addresses Chris. “The pediatrician will be in soon, to check over the baby, and the lactation specialist. When your wife wakes-”

“I’m up,” says a sleepy voice. “Bring me my baby. And coffee. Can I have coffee? Like in an IV. Just inject it into my veins.”

Chris’s laughter draws her attention. He can see her struggle to turn to him. The drugs are still in her system, making all her movements sluggish.

“Hey, sexy Daddy. You thought the same thing, didn’t you?”

With tears in his eyes, he leans over and caresses his lips over her forehead. “You are mine, you know that, right?” The strong actor chuckles, weak in the knees. “You were made for me.”

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Grabbing the collar of his t-shirt, she pulls him close, tenderly kissing his plump, inviting mouth. “Yeah, and together we made something special, a baby. Ours-” She kisses him again. “I want it, and I want coffee.”

The nurse giggles, “Now, Miss Emery,” she says calmly, like talking to a petulant child. “We talked about that yesterday. No coffee yet, not if you’re going to breastfeed.” She smirks at Emery’s huffing. “But you can take a sip or two of his.” She tilts her head to Chris, as he gently climbs into the hospital bed next to his wife.

“Fine. Bring him one. A big one. Thank you,” she says as a second thought, remembering her manners. The nurse drops the chart in the holder by the door. “Oh, can you get me a cheeseburger?” Emery calls out as the nurse leaves the room.

“Babe, it’s barely eight am.” Chris teases, cautiously lifting her upper body from the bed to tuck her to his side, his arm resting gently around her shoulders.

“Don’t care.” She scratches her cheek absently. The skin is swollen and red from an allergic reaction to the mask placed over her face during her surgery. “I had a baby last night. I want what I want.”

Sitting on the bed next to her, his exhausted, amazing wife settles against his chest. He breathes deeply, inhaling her scent, and he feels his world fall into place.

“I’m gonna be hearing about that for months, years, aren’t I?”

She pokes him in the ribs. “Big enough they had to cut it out. You made a tiny monster.” She giggles, loopy from medications. She rubs low across her belly, wincing as her hands near the bandages covering the incision. “Almost seven pounds. How was that even inside me? How is that even possible? No wonder complete strangers stopped to ask if I was having twins!”

“You know,” he says, twisting her fingers into his hand and raising them to kiss the back of her fingertips, careful not to bump her IV, “it’s not an ‘it’ now.”

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“‘It’ has Daddy’s eyelashes.”

He chuckles, kissing the top of her head. “‘It’ has Mommy’s red hair.”

Before they can finish their verbal tease, she falls back to sleep peacefully. He continues to sooth his fingers through her hair, enjoying their last few minutes alone.

“Love you, forever, Em.” Squeezing her tightly, he lays back against the pillow, hoping to get some more rest of his own.

after baby cuddle

With the little bundle snuggled in his arms, wrapped tightly in a Captain America blanket, Chris steps into the lounge, full of family and friends. “Hey, everyone,” he says with enough authority to garner everyone’s attention, but not to wake the baby. “Thought you’d wanna meet Kaileigh Grace Evans.”

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Author’s Note: Remember in Surprises Ahead? Emery tells Chris, “Read it with a Southern accent. The first syllable? Rhymes with ‘thai.”

**Images found on Pinterest**

Story will update when Muse strikes. I actually wrote a baby story 3+ years ago, but in the vision I wrote from, I didn’t know the baby’s name or gender. In February 2019, the name just popped in my head one morning while I was in the shower! Until that moment, I had no idea if it was going to be a little boy or girl for the Evans’!

If you want to know more about Emery and Chris, read the novella Georgia on My Mind, and their additional stories

Copyright © 2019 avenger-nerd-mom. All rights reserved. Intellectual property of avenger-nerd-mom

 

Acceptance

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Educating Thalia

Collaboration by @avenger-nerd-mom & @devikafernando

AU FICTION

Chapter 41

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: 963

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

Summary:  There’s at least one decision Thalia can make…

Click here for intro to Educating Thalia

Pale and withdrawn, Thalia pulls on the nasal cannula and adjusts it.  Chris notices her skin looks red and raw where the tubing lays against her lovely but bruised face.  He hides his wince and stares back down at his boots.  The room is a tense silence; Tom pacing at the window.  The constant movement grates on his nerves but he understands the man’s frustration.

Both men look up when the door opens and Big Jim returns to the room, a tray of coffees in his hands and a box of donuts under his arm.  He sets them on the table and hands a steaming cup to each of them.  “Jim,” Chris nods nearly bowing under pressure as the larger man pats him on the back.

“Did she tell you yet?”  Jim asks, a little too happily. Two faces – so different but both haggard with exhaustion and worry for the same woman – turn his way in curiosity, and he ignores them for a moment.  He tears open three packets of sugar and pours them into his cup.  With the little red straw he stirs the beverage before licking it and throwing it on the food tray.  Turning to his ‘adopted’ daughter, he fusses, “You didn’t eat enough.”

Thalia rolls her eyes.  “I’m a big girl, I won’t waste away.”  Her breathing is restricted when she speaks, barely above a whisper.  “I can’t; my ribs… it hurts.”

Patting her hand in a fatherly fashion, Jim finally turns to the men in the room who are still waiting for an explanation.  “My wife, Sarah, and I are taking Thalia to Chicago when she’s released from the hospital.  She needs to go home and get well.  Spring Break is next week so she won’t miss that much school, but she’s been approved three weeks of medical leave from classes.  We feel she needs to be with family to care for-”

Tom interrupts the bartender.  His active hands show a man who is at a loss, grasping at anything. “My home is large enough, she can stay with me, we can hire a nurse and-”

“Tom?  Tom, it’s okay.  I won’t be gone long.” She whispers, sucking in a deep breath.  “Chris?  I need family.  I need time to be alone.”

His heart stops but he understands.  Chris also hears what she doesn’t say, recognizing she’s talking to him and not Tom.  Even in her brief moments of clarity with all the pain killers coursing through her system she’s realized Tom’s thoughts and emotions aren’t stable.

“Tom, we need to let her do this.”  Chris’s voice is calm and even, a grounding force in the room.  “Her family can give her a safe haven.  We’ll be here for her when she gets back-”

Tom turns wildly.  “How can you be so calm?  This is madness!”

Standing up, Chris walks to the foot of the hospital bed and rests his hand on her leg.  “Ranting and raving here isn’t going to do any good.  She’s obviously had a lot on her mind, but she can make one decision.  That’s to go home.  Alone.  We need to respect that.”

“Thalia, but,” Tom starts, moving to her and placing his hand gently on her forearm above the cast.

Taking another painful breath, Thalia stops him. “I can’t.  I can’t handle you both in the room at the same time…” Her voice drifts away as she takes another breath, clutching the tubing to her nose.  A small smile graces her chapped lips.  “You both and your damn sweaters.”

Chris chuckles and Tom rolls his eyes, shaking his head.

Jim ignores that comment and looks to the monitors attached to her, identifying the increased beeping.  “Is that why your heart rate is up?  Which one do you want me to kick out?”

Closing her eyes, Thalia is non-responsive to the question.  Chris can see the avoidance and is relieved when a nurse enters the room.

“Well, what a handsome collection of visitors you have, my dear!  But gentlemen, I’m going to have to ask you all to leave for awhile.  She needs her rest, and she obviously isn’t getting it.  Too good looking.  Y’all have her heart racing!”

The little woman playfully pushes them out the door and Chris watches through the window as she checks over her vitals.  He sees Thalia speaking to the nurse and gesturing to them, being shut out when the nurse walks over to close the blinds.

Fuck.  He slowly walks to the row of seats down the hall from her room.  As he sinks into another uncomfortable hospital chair, he watches Hiddleston punch the door open at the end of the hall.  Chris rests his head back against the wall, wondering when he’ll have to say goodbye; when will they release her from the hospital…

It hurts too much to see Thalia suffering and yet doing her best to show a brave front. He’s never felt so damn helpless in his life – apart from when his marriage fell apart. And in a way, it’s the same situation, though it’s also completely different. Because this time he isn’t afraid of losing his daughter but the woman he loves.

Kicking his boot against the ground, he admits it hurts so fucking much. He doesn’t want to be the calming force in the room. He wants to lose his shit too. He almost envies the tall Brit for his emotional outbursts.  Sighing, he watches the nurses go about their rounds, starting to clean up lunches from the rooms.  But clearly, an outburst and stress isn’t what Thalia needs right now, and if he can do even the smallest thing to make this ordeal easier for her, then he’ll damn well do it even if it kills him.

He can still be the better man.

Click here to read Chapter 42 Apologies

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

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.

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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

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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

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