It’s possible that @b-r-a-h and @thesummoningdark have already enabled me into having modern/contemporary Nebula AU’s that are way too involved. In this one she’s a common street urchin for awhile and she grows up to be a badass.
@reserve and i were talking about contemporary witch kylo on twitter dot com and we agreed a lot of it is probably just kylo buying too many crystals and trying to get hux to wear protective charms (and also kylo making up weird rituals to try to get hux to try new things in bed) ANYWAYS i really like the aesthetic
I was watching my husband cuddle with our son the other night, and kind of felt the need to write this little ficlet. It’s set in contemporary times. I’ll likely add other ficlets to this universe, but each should be able to stand alone.
Jamie stopped short in the hallway, pausing before he opened the door to the Neonatal ICU. The sun had set hours ago, and the ward was dark. The only illumination came from the hallway and the odd bilirubin lights hovering over some of the newborns, which cast the room in a strange blue tinge. Through the glass, he could see that Claire had fallen asleep in the recliner next to the baby’s incubator. She looked uncomfortable, as her hand was still inside one of the access ports, her finger resting on their baby’s leg.
She was such a wee, delicate thing. Perfect to look at, but tiny. She had arrived twelve weeks early, before the realization that he would have a child, a real, live, breathing, human child, had truly sunk in. Yes, he’d whooped in delight when Claire, with bright trepidation in her eyes, her voice trembling, had told him she was pregnant. When he realized what she was saying, he had grabbed her in a great bear hug and lifted her off her feet, had told her how happy he was. And he wasn’t lying, not even a little bit, though he was shocked. He’d wanted a family, had always wanted children, and knew she was meant to be their mother from almost the first time he had laid eyes on her. So when she told him that she thought she couldn’t have children after trying for years with her ex husband, he had accepted it, gracefully, he hoped, though with mixed feelings. First and foremost he was disappointed, but it was impossible to be genuinely upset when he had Claire. She made him soulfully, deeply happy, and he couldn’t bear to hurt her by letting her think she had somehow let him down. And he thought it would be lovely to have the next few years to spend as a married couple, just the two of them, since their romance was such a whirlwind. They had married after only knowing each other for six weeks. Surely they could take a little longer to start their family. Maybe in a few years they could talk to a fertility doctor, or adopt, or possibly even both.
So when she told him she was pregnant, he was floored. Thrilled, yes, but floored nonetheless. And terrified. His brain froze for what felt like several minutes, but could not possibly have been for more than a few seconds. It was long enough, though, for her to start apologizing. She was a doctor, for God’s sake, and she damn well knew better. She shouldn’t have assumed, she stammered, and she should have been on birth control. He couldn’t seem to make his mouth form words, so he stopped her blathering with an incoherent, happy yell and a tight embrace.
He’d spent the next several weeks getting used to the idea. He was happy, really he was, but in an abstract way. He didn’t really know what to expect, having spent little time around babies. Though his sister had a little boy she had named after him, he had been abroad when wee Jamie was born and had only met him a handful of times. Jenny had just had a girl, but they hadn’t had the chance to spend much time with her yet. He wanted children, but he wasn’t completely certain what to with them.
Even when Claire’s belly started to swell, reality hadn’t quite hit. It wasn’t until weeks later, when she gently took his hand and placed it on the bump, and he felt the baby move against his palm for the first time, that his heart caught up with his brain. Dear God. He was going to be a father. Soon. He was going to be responsible for a tiny human, a helpless little person who would depend on them for literally everything. The responsibility was immense. At least he’d have a few months to prepare. Then Claire had started to have contractions, much too soon, and his anxiety skyrocketed. When she started to bleed, he felt his world collapsing around him. He adored her, would do anything for her, but now, there was absolutely nothing he could do to fix it. And the baby had come nearly three months before they expected her.
Jamie silently entered the ward, nodding in greeting at another drowsy parent hovering over her child. He set his bag on the floor, bent over the plastic case, and peered at his new daughter. She still didn’t have a name, even after two weeks. The tag on the incubator still said, “Baby Girl Fraser.” They had talked about it before she was born, but thought they had more time to decide. And now that she was here, none of the names they tried seemed to fit her.
She was exquisite. The dark fuzz of her hair was covered in a little pink cap, and there were far too many wires and tubes protruding from her delicate form, but she was still lovely, and so very, very small. He stared at her wee toes and the tiny little fingers curled in sleep, and he wished he could pick her up. Instead, he kissed the tip of his finger, slid his hand through the open access port, and touched his finger to her skin.
Then he turned to his wife. Claire was stretched awkwardly toward the incubator, her right hand touching the baby, as she dozed. Her head lolled uncomfortably to the side, and if she didn’t straighten out soon, she’d have a raging headache and backache when she woke. Jamie tenderly brushed her riotous curls from her face and kissed her forehead, gently drew her hand from the incubator, then slid his arms beneath her and lifted her up as if she was a child herself. She started to wake as he settled himself into the recliner and arranged her in his lap. She murmured his name sleepily.
“Aye, lass. It’s me. I brought ye dinner. Are you hungry?”
“Thanks,” she yawned, “but not right now. I don’t think I could work up the energy to eat even if I wanted to.” She tucked her head into the crook of his shoulder and pressed her lips to his neck, and he knew that she needed his comfort far more than she needed food.
A nurse stopped beside them and leaned down. “Can I get you another chair?”
Before Claire could answer, he said, “Thank ye, but no.” He wasn’t about to let go of her. Instead, as the nurse smiled and walked away, he pulled her tightly against him, relishing the solid weight of her body, and pressing his cheek into the tickle of her hair. He closed his eyes and breathed her in, focusing on the floral scent of her shampoo instead of the antiseptic smells of the hospital. “How was she today?” He wished he could have been there, but a pipe had burst at the new distillery, and he had spent the entire day dealing with the mess.
Her body tensed a little. “Had a bit of a scare in the morning. She was having trouble breathing. I was afraid she’d be intubated, but they got away without it.”
“She looks peaceful now, but I’m sorry I wasna here wi’ you.”
He felt her shaking her head against his jaw. “You don’t have to be sorry. I’m sorry I snapped at you when you left. You didn’t deserve it. I know you would have stayed if you’d had any choice in the matter. I’m just… This is just…”
He stroked her back with his open palm, saying, “Hush, now. Dinna fash. I ken.” He felt her tremble slightly, and after a minute of silence, a wet droplet landed on his collarbone. He tipped her chin up with the crook of his finger and saw tears running down her cheeks. His heart melted a little at the sight of her glistening eyes, so wide and trusting as she looked up at him. This was the very same expression on her face that captured his soul, fully and completely, only days after they’d met. He had reacted so viscerally, had wanted, no, needed, to tuck her close against him and shelter her from the sorrows of the world with his heart and his body. After he kissed the tears from her cheeks, he asked, “Och. What’s all this about, now?”
He was actually startled at her answer. “I can’t help but feel this is all my fault.”
“What? How could it possibly be? That’s no’ possible, and ye ken that.”
She curled up against him again, mumbling into his neck. “I was working too much, too hard. It was too much of a strain on the baby. The call, those long nights, the long hours. They offered to lighten my load, but I was stubborn. I wanted to get that hard rotation over with. If I wasn’t so stubborn, if I taken better care of her…"
He cut her off before she could get any farther. “Listen to me, lass. You didn’t do this. Or did they teach you in medical school that you could stay o’ trouble by lyin’ abed for your whole pregnancy?“
She chuckled despite herself. “Of course not.”
“Then did they tell you you could keep a bairn from harm by playing housewife? Or hurt it by standing up too long? By staying up too late?”
"No…” she admitted.
He repeated, “Hush, then. Dinna fash. You’ve done naught but love her since you realized she was growing within ye.” Since he couldn’t reach her lips from this angle, he brought her hand to his mouth and pressed his lips firmly against her knuckles.
Quietly, she asked, “How can you be so calm? Don’t get me wrong, I’m so grateful. You’re my rock, you know? But how are you holding it all together?”
“Mmph.” He told her the truth while he stroked her fingers. “Because I’ve already faced my greatest fear, mo nighean donn. When you collapsed, when I saw you in so much pain, I thought I was about to lose ye both. I’ve never been so scairt in all my life. While you were on the ground, I had this, well, I guess you’d call it a vision. I saw you going from me, fading away, and just imagining it left this great void in my chest. I dinna know what I’d do without ye, Claire. I was so afraid, and I knew there was nothing I could do to help you…”
She looked up and him and started to interrupt, “But you were perfect! You didn’t hesitate a second. You got me…”
“I called for the ambulance, but that’s all I could do! I want to protect you, ye ken? I’d do anything to keep you safe. But there wasn’t really anything I could do. I felt so powerless. I’m not like you, not a doctor, nor a nurse. All I could do was hold you in my arms and wait. Did ye no’ feel me crushing you? I knew I was holdin’ ye too hard, but I couldn’t help but feel ye’d slip away from me altogether if I didna hang on tight enough.”
She lifted her hand to stroke his cheek in comfort. “I’m so sorry, Jamie. I didn’t think what it must have been like for you.”
He kissed her forehead. “You didna have the time to fash over me, Sassenach. You were quite occupied, if I recall,” he chuckled. “No, I don’t tell you this so you’ll feel bad for me. I just mean to say that I’m no’ afraid now, because I’ve already looked my greatest fear right in its face. I was so scairt to lose ye, but ye’re here. Both o’ you. Right here in my arms, and I willna let ye go. Don’t be afraid,” he whispered. “There’s the three of us now.”
Her eyes softened, and he could see that she understood. “You’re really not scared.”
He touched his forehead to hers. “You’re with me, by my side, loving me as I love you. And that gives me faith, mo ghraidh, faith in you, faith in myself, faith in the bairn. Faith in our wee family.”
He kissed her then, softly and sweetly, and would have kept on and on, hospital be damned, but he felt her lips stretch wide into a smile, and she pulled away. As Claire turned to look at their baby, she exclaimed, “That’s it, Jamie! That’s it!”
After only a moment, he knew exactly what she meant, and a matching smile spread across his face. “Aye. You’re right. That’s her, isn’t it?”
Huge thanks go to the amazing and lovely @moghraidhjamie for organizing the Secret Santa! My identity was never anything of a secret to you, and I don’t much resemble Santa, but I hope you enjoy this little piece of fluff. I hope you don’t mind that it can fit in my Small Blessings universe, but each story stands alone, so you don’t need to read those to be oriented to this one.
“Oof.” I lowered myself heavily into the chair. I was eight months pregnant, though thanks to Jamie’s genetics, the baby was enormous, so I felt at least twelve or fourteen months along. “That’s much better.”
Faith slid her hands between the slats on the back of the chair and pressed them against my lower back. “Mam owee?” For weeks she had been watching me attempt to relieve my discomfort by digging my fingers into the musculature along my lumbar spine, and now she did it for me. Her tiny hands were completely ineffectual at massage, but the sweet gesture made me feel a thousand times better, though the pain in my back was unrelenting, as it had been all day.
Fergus placed a cup of steaming hot tea in front of me, and I squeezed his hand in thanks. “Did you get to sit down at all today, Maman?” I took a sip of the honeyed liquid and sighed in contentment, for Fergus brewed the very best cup of tea.
“Once. We only had two cases today, but they both ran long, obviously. I had about half an hour between them, so I planted myself in the only available chair in the PACU. My back wouldn’t be so bad if I could reach across the OR table, but Lump is in the way.” Faith had taken to referring to her sibling-to-be by this name, and the moniker stuck.
Our little girl was endlessly fascinated by my rapid growth, and she wedged herself between me and the table and lay her cheek along my belly. “‘Lo, Lump!” The baby responded to the greeting by kicking me squarely in the ribs.
“There they are!” Matthew shouted over the noise of the pub. Mary, Edith, and Bertie turned their heads to find the missing couple making their way towards them. The four of them were donning the English rugby team’s colors of red and white, like a majority of the patrons in the Manchester pub. Today was the big game: England vs. Ireland, and as expected, Tom proudly stood out in his emerald kit. What Matthew hadn’t been expecting, was the sight of the woman at Tom’s side.
“SYBIL!?” Matthew sputtered, staring at his sister-in-law in shock. “What…what are you…?”
“She looks gorgeous in green, doesn’t she?” Tom teased, grinning cheekily at his best mate.
Matthew frowned and Sybil swatted her fiance. “Are you saying I didn’t look good when I was wearing red and white last time?”
“Not at all,” Tom innocently assured. “But I said ‘gorgeous’ love,” he chuckled, pulling her close and stealing a quick kiss.
Matthew was less amused. “Sybil, how could you!?”
Sybil frowned as she turned her eyes to her brother-in-law. Mary looked embarrassed. “Darling, she’s allowed to wear what she wants,” she attempted to soothe, but one thing Mary (and the rest of them) knew about Matthew was how competitive he could become (and how unreasonable he sometimes was in that case).
“But it’s THE match!” Matthew exclaimed, as if it were so obvious. “England vs. Ireland!”
“I know very well whom is playing whom,” Sybil groaned, rolling her eyes. “See, I told you shouldn’t have worn it,” she muttered to Tom.
Matthew turned to Tom then, his eyes narrowed. “This is a low blow, even from you.”
“Oi, easy mate,” Tom held up his hands in a non-threatening manner, but at the same time, there was a hint of warning in his voice. “It’s just a jersey.”
“Exactly,” Mary put her foot down and glared at her husband. “Stop making an issue of this, or I shall be forced to banish you to the couch this evening.”
Matthew opened his mouth to protest, but stopped short at his wife’s threat. She would do that too, he knew. However, he couldn’t help getting one last word in, and muttered at Sybil, “traitor”.
Sybil, however, wasn’t offended in the slightest. She just laughed. Edith, who had overheard Matthew’s “insult”, just sighed and shook her head. Bertie, who was still learning the dynamics of the sisters and their respective partners, leaned down and whispered, “what’s so funny?”
“Matthew,” Edith explained. “He thinks he can get under Sybil’s skin by calling her a ‘traitor’ because she wore an Irish rugby jersey. Clearly he’s forgotten that she’s a natural ‘rebel’–from her choice in career, to her political leanings, to her choice in who to marry…this is nothing, really.”
Re: thorki ficlet giveaway – would you consider writing a fic in response to a poem of mine titled “Preservable Ephemera”? It was posted on my Tumblr, and can be found on the home page under “poetry, part I.” Off anon is fine. You decide whether fluff or smut seems best.
For this prompt from @janedoe876 : Thorki- Would love if they were in a relationship married or dating. And that one day Thor comes back from a mission and he hears noises coming from Loki’s bed chambers, as he get closer he hears moaning and walks in to find Loki touching himself moaning Thor’s name. Would love if they were sweet to each other.
It starts very innocently. Well, as innocently as going to Paris for a protest against the new work laws can be.
The first hour is okay. They went to the station early to be sure not to miss their train, Enjolras bought the tickets in advance, Courfeyrac brought enough snacks for everyone, Combeferre and Feuilly brought enough books to keep all four of them occupied. The wagon is almost empty, and deliciously quiet in that little morning. They chat, read, and keep themselves busy. Courf and ‘Ferre are sappy and mushy and take horribly sweet couple selfies, Feuilly folds a few origami animals, Enjolras works on his little speech. Everything is perfect.
The second hour is a bit less enjoyable. More people fill the wagon. Two people sit across from them, and they are less than quiet. In fact, they are quite noisy. They have booming laughs, pick endless fun at each other, and Enjolras is quite sure the one with a green, paint-stained hoodie, is looking at him, as if he’s checking if his jokes have an audience. Or checking him out, he doesn’t know. Anyway, he won’t dignify him with an answer, and not only because the guy will probably deny everything. And Courf and 'Ferre won’t let him live it down, so he keeps quiet. But he’s quite sure Feuilly is discreetly checking the muscles of the other one. With reason, the man is ripped. It’s a miracle his leather jacket hasn’t abandonned the fight yet. The other man isn’t as muscular, but his shoulders are large, and his hands seem…. strong. He’s not that bad looking, if one is into scruffy-looking, not-slept-in-five-days, shaving-is-a-loss-of-time men. Which Enjolras is of course not. He makes a conscient effort to dive into his book and not lift his eyes again.
During the third hour, the train suddenly stops. Enjolras, who managed to nod off even with the noise of those two annoying men, raises his head, expecting the crowded platforms of the Saint-Lazare station. Instead, he’s met with a field bathed in sunlight, with two lonely trees in the middle, and a small village barely visible near the horizon. He looks at Combeferre, who shrugs and answers :
- I don’t know. But we won’t stay here for long, I’m sure. Ten minutes, maybe.
Ten minutes turn to twenty, then thirty, then one hour. Enjolras tries to warn the others that they’ll be late, and is rather bummed to see that there’s absolutly no cell reception. On the other side of the aisle, the man in the green hoodie does the same, and frowns. He says something to his friend, that he doesn’t get, slumps into his seat and closes his eyes. Enjolras glances at him above his book. The man has a little smile, as if he’s aware someone is watching him. His friend pokes Feuilly in the ribs, and engages him into a ferocious round of thumb wrestling. Courf and 'Ferre are talking in hushed tones, but they are glancing at them from time to time. Probably betting on who’s going to win.
Enjolras goes back to his book. He hasn’t read three pages, when he realizes that a train without power means a train without air conditionning. And with the sun hitting the windows, the wagon quickly turns into a sauna. Courf is the first to take off his sweater, and almost wrestles 'Ferre out of his before he suffers a heat stroke. 'Ferre assures him that he’s a doctor and he knows what he’s doing, but soon, he’s freed from his cardigan.
The two other men do the same, and Enjolras hears Feuilly’s breath hitch. Which he’s glad for, because it means no one heard his do the same, especially not the scruffy-looking man. He’s staring, he knows, but he can’t help it. And Feuilly is, too. Who could blame them ? Both men are covered in ink. The taller man sports a full sleeve of black lines in intricated patterns, and Feuilly is all over them, but it may be due to the muscles barely concealed by the white t-shirt.
The other man… it starts at the wrist, drops of pastels, like watercolors staining the skin, turns into clouds a bit higher, and from the clouds grow flowers of all colors, surrounding words that Enjolras can’t read from here. The left arm is covered too, with lines of writing surrounded by leaves in vivid colors. There’s a letter on his wrist, a capital R from what Enjolras can see. He’s staring, he knows, but he can’t help but admire the work of art displayed on the skin.
There’s a light chuckle, and he looks up, to see the man staring back at him. He has the greenest eyes Enjolras has ever seen, and long eyelashes, and for a second, he honestly /gapes/. Then his senses come back to him, and he dives into his book, lifting it in front of his face to hide his ferocious blush. Courf and 'Ferre are giggling, and he’s sure they’re making fun of him. The man picks up his bag and riffles through it, but Enjolras is well-determined not to look at him again for the rest of the trip, however long it’ll be.
Finally, the train starts to move again. Enjolras gets caught in his book again, and soon, they arrive at the station. He grabs his stuff and wants to bolt out, but of course, now there are people blocking the exit. Behind him, Feuilly is talking to the tall man, and 'Ferre is trying to get dressed without hitting his head against the upper shelf. There’s a tug on his bag. Enjolras turns, to find himself face to face with the scruffy-looking man. Instantly, his blush comes back full force. He tries to say something, but what do you say when you’ve been caught looking at a somewhat attractive stranger ? Who, up close, isn’t bad-looking at all…
The man doesn’t say anything either, just hands him a piece of paper. Enjolras takes it, of course, he’s a polite young man. He wants to say something, but the man walks back to his friend and pushes him out of the train. Feuilly waves at them, almost bouncing on his feet. Immediatly, Courf and 'Ferre are all over him, asking him all the questions they can think about, on that new friend and who is it and what does he do and what did he say ?
Only when they are in the subway, Courf comfortably seated on 'Ferre’s lap, is Enjolras able to take a look at the mysterious paper. He turns a bit aside, and unfolds it. And there he is, looking right back at himself. It’s a portrait of him, a very nice one even, that doesn’t show his unruly hair, agressive blush and weird smile. In fact, he looks… godly. It’s really a very nice portrait. He stares at it for a moment, then turns the paper, to see if there’s a message, something. But there’s nothing. The man didn’t write anything. Enjolras looks at the portrait again, trying not to feel disappointed. He goes to fold the paper and put it in his wallet to preserve it, when he notices the curls filling the hair. Artistic, audaciuous… and forming shapes that suspiciously look like numbers. Like a telephone number, even. Enjolras memorizes it, and as soon as the portrait is safe in his bag, saves it into his phone. After the protest, maybe he’ll try to find if this is a legit number. He doesn’t know yet what he’s gonna text that man, but he’ll find something. After all, if Feuilly already got twelve texts from the other, it can’t be that hard.
Sybil shivered as she glanced out her driver’s window, the raindrops pelting the glass at a rapid pace. The clouds overhead made the night sky seem even darker, but she confessed she preferred it to the sudden blasts of lightning that would illuminate the heavens, casting eerie shadows on the surroundings around her. Suddenly every ghost story that she and her sisters had whispered to each other during their childhoods, came rushing back, and Sybil found herself sinking further into the depths of her jacket, as if that would protect her from some axe-wielding psychopath.
She looked down at her phone and groaned; “NO SIGNAL”. Of course there wasn’t. Yes, it seemed she had apparently driven herself onto the set of some horror movie. Oh please, let her be the “last girl standing”, although with her luck, she was most likely “victim #1″.
A sharp tap on the glass of her window caused her to both jump and yelp in surprise. The doors were locked, weren’t they!? She looked up at the drenched figure who was standing just outside her car door and was making a motion for her to lower her window. Sybil swallowed, hesitated for a brief moment, then did just that.
“Hello!” a man’s voice greeted from the depths of his own hooded jacket. She couldn’t see his face, but he sounded friendly. Although that could also be said about Norman Bates.
“I noticed your emergency lights,” the voice continued. “Is it your car? Do you need some help?”
Sybil swallowed and wondered briefly if she should tell the hooded stranger that she had already called someone and they were on their way to fetch her. But that was a lie, and the stranger might know that it was impossible to get a signal out here anyway. And quite frankly, she didn’t want to be left out here longer than necessary.
“I think it’s just out of petrol…” Sybil finally answered. “I thought I had enough to make it to my destination, but I suppose…” her voice trailed off due to embarrassment. The irony was she had passed not one, but two petrol stations at least 20 kilometers back. Oh God, maybe she deserved to be victim #1?
The stranger simply nodded his head without commenting on her situation. Instead, he announced that he would be “right back”, before turning and walking away from her car. Where was he going? What was he–OH!
Sybil gasped as she saw several very bright lights coming around her car…only to realize they belonged to a tow truck! “Branson Brothers Motorside Services”
The tow truck backed up until it was right in front her car, then the stranger hopped out and went straight to work, hooking her car up to his truck. He came back to her window, but she had it rolled down before he could tap on the glass.
“Alright, I can wheel you back to our station, get your car filled, do any other checks if you’d like–no charge,” he added and while she couldn’t see his face, Sybil imagined him winking. “And then you’ll be on your way!”
Sybil felt herself blushing as she nodded her head to his words. “Thank you,” she murmured.
There was a bit of an awkward pause, and then the stranger mumbled, “Um…sorry, but…you’ll need to ride in the truck with me. It’s just for legal purposes; we can’t leave people in their vehicles while we tow them–”
“Oh, oh right, of course,” Sybil groaned at herself. She clutched her jacket close to her body, cursing herself for not wearing one that had a hood, and with a deep breath, quickly scrambled out of the car and rushed to the truck, the raindrops pelting her head like icy pellets, running down the collar of her jacket and no doubt soaking her clothes beneath.
She gasped when she got inside and managed to shut the door behind her. Oh God, she had only been out in that storm for less than a minute, and she felt soaked through! Her hair was blasted to her face, her–
The stranger hopped back into the driver’s side and shut his own door, gasping and groaning himself, before pushing back the hood at last and offering Sybil a glimpse of her rescuer.
Sybil had never really gaped at anyone before, but she was gaping now. He was younger than she thought, late 20′s/early 30′s by the look of him. He was quite handsome–dark blonde hair that looked brown due to the rain; a strong jawbone, a fine nose (she had never really paid much attention to mens noses before, but his was very nice in profile!) and while he was wearing a bulky jacket, she had a feeling that the bulk wasn’t entirely caused by the fabric, but quite possibly by the muscular body beneath.
“Oh, here…” he turned then to offer her a towel to dry her face with, but his voice faded and he stared back at her, as if truly seeing her for the first time.
Sybil swallowed as she gazed back at the most astonishing pair of blue eyes she had ever seen.
With somewhat trembling fingers, she accepted his offer of the towel and used it to dab at her face, blushing even more as she imagined how she must look right now. Not that he seemed to care…because when he looked her, she felt nothing but the deepest warmth coursing through her body.
“Sorry,” the man mumbled, seeming to realize he was staring. “I’m Tom…” he introduced, holding his hand out to her.
Sybil blushed but smiled back and accepted his hand. “Sybil,” she replied, more warmth filling her body at the feel of his hand in hers.
“Sybil…” he repeated, and a new shiver raced through her veins at the way her name sounded in his rich, Irish brogue. “You’re English…” he added after a moment, a comment which actually had her giggling and him blushing. “Oh God, sorry, that sounded–”
“I am, yes,” she answered, saving him from his embarrassment.
His own face was blushing, but he was also smiling back at her. “Holiday?” he asked.
Sybil shook her head. “Job interview,” she explained.
The man’s eyebrows rose. “Out here?” He groaned and closed his eyes. “Sorry, I didn’t mean to–”
Sybil simply grinned. “Actually, I had the interview already, in Kilkenny,” she explained. “I was on my way to a friend’s; we went to uni together and she offered me a place to stay.”
Tom nodded his head, then seemed to realize they were just sitting there, and mumbled another apology, before starting his truck. “Right, well we’d better get you going so you can meet with your friend.”
Sybil smiled, although she was surprised to realize that she was going to miss this man, whom she barely knew. As soon as they got back onto the main road, Sybil discovered that her mobile had a signal once again. She had several missed calls, all from her friend, and she quickly returned them, explaining what had happened and that she would be there soon.
“I’m coming to get you myself,” her friend declared.
“That’s not necessary–”
But her friend had already hung up. Sybil sighed and glanced once more at the handsome Irishman next to her.
“So…” he murmured after a pause. “How do you think it went? The job interview?”
Sybil blushed but smiled and bashfully glanced down at her hands, folded on her lap. “I think it went well,” she truthfully answered. “I was able to answer all their questions, and they seemed impressed by answers, as well as my knowledge and experience.” Not that for a second she thought she had the job in the bag, but at the same time, she had left feeling fairly confident and proud with herself.
“And…if you don’t mind my asking, what was it an interview for?”
She didn’t mind, actually. She felt very comfortable with this man. “Nursing,” she answered.
He glanced at her quickly. “You’re a nurse?”
Sybil smiled and nodded. “For five years now.”
He seemed impressed, but not at all in a patronizing manner. “My cousin is a nurse,” he added, and then blushed deeply at his words. “Sorry, just…I’m in awe of anyone who does what she does. It’s not easy, I imagine…”
“No,” Sybil confirmed. “It isn’t…but I can’t imagine doing anything else with my life.”
He smiled at that and nodded his head in admiration, causing another delicious shiver to course through her.
They reached the petrol station, and just behind it was a garage: BransonBrothers Motorside Services. She had passed this place earlier; oh she was glad to have been brought back. “Are you one of the…?”
“Branson brothers?” he answered with a teasing grin. “Aye, I am. Kieran, my older brother, he runs the garage. But no doubt he’s out on assignment too–nights like this, we tend to get a lot of calls.”
“Of course,” Sybil murmured, blushing. “Well, I don’t want to keep you–”
“I don’t mind,” he answered, and they both held their breath at his words, a sudden wave of heat seeming to flow between them in that moment.
Sybil’s head snapped back at the sound of her name. She turned and met the eyes of her friend. Wait–how had she made it her so quickly? And how did she know where–?
Sybil looked over at Tom. He knew her?
“What are you doing–?”
“Well, when Sybil rung and told me she was in a tow truck, I knew it had to be yours!” Colleen answered as if it were the most obvious thing in the world. She turned her attention back to Sybil. “Lucky for you, my cousin found you and not some axe-wielding psychopath.”
Sybil looked up at Tom and noticed he was putting the pieces together himself. Her friend from uni was in fact…his cousin?
“You’re not going to charge her, are you?” Colleen asked.
Sybil’s face grew hot at the question. “No, I insist on paying–”
“It’s alright,” Tom assured, his smile kind and bashful.
“But I want to,” she insisted, and without realizing it, had taken a very purposeful step towards him. And then she was blurting, “I’ll stay here with the car while Tom looks at it–”
“And I’ll drop her by your place when I’m done,” he finished.
They were both blushing (furiously) but they also couldn’t help but smile and gaze back at one another.
Colleen glanced back and forth between the two, before sighing and shrugging her shoulders. “Fine, have it your way…” she glanced over at Tom and muttered, “but not too late, alright?” They didn’t have a chance to respond, as Colleen drifted away, laughing in her wake.
Stay calm, he told himself. This isn’t a date, no matter what words she used…
The words she had used were in fact “study date”, but anyone with half a brain knew that wasn’t a “real date”…at least not in the way he wished it were.
He and Sybil Crawley (Lady Sybil, he reminded himself) were lab partners in Chemistry, a class which he personally loathed but which she naturally seemed to excel in. He just wasn’t a “scientific” person. Language and grammar were more his thing, hence why he was studying journalism. He also loved history and politics…which she did too (the politics part, at least) as they both attended several progressive political rallies on campus. He was surprised when he first saw her at one, ashamed to admit that he had foolishly assumed that she was a Tory because of who her family were (she was proud to exclaim she most certainly was NOT), and the following day at Chem, she asked him what he thought of the speaker at the rally, to which he honestly said he thought the bloke was more “opinion” than “conviction”, to which she heartily agreed…and that was when he realized he was quickly falling for this lab partner.
She knew he struggled with Chem, so it was her idea that they meet for this so-called “study date” at the central coffee shop on campus. A pity date, if anything–oh shut it, he told himself. With a deep breath, he entered the coffee shop…and it wasn’t long before he found her; corner table, books strewn across the surface, her wonderful, frizzy hair bent over one, a pencil sticking out from behind an ear…
She must have heard him approach because she lifted her head just then, and Tom was once again bowled over by how beautiful she was–glasses askew on the bridge of her nose, her blue eyes shining and her lips curling into a gorgeous smile…
“Tom!” she waved at him, and he swore he floated to her side. “I should have asked before you arrived,” she apologized. “I went ahead and ordered you a coffee; do you drink coffee? I can have them change it if you’d like–”
“Coffee is fine,” he assured her, amazed that he had managed to find his voice. God, this was going to be difficult…sitting here with her and not losing himself in her husky voice. How on earth had he managed all these weeks as her lab partner in class? Maybe he had just been trying so hard not to come across as a clueless idiot while he stared at the giant chart of the Periodic Table.
“Here you go!” came a jolly voice. Tom turned and smiled at Daisy, another mutual friend of his and Sybil’s who worked at the coffee shop. She set their mugs down on the table and Tom swore she winked at him. “Enjoy!”
“Thank you, Daisy!” Sybil called out to her, before patting the seat right next to her. “Come on, Tom, sit down!”
He blushed but also smiled at her infectious giggle. As my lady commands, he thought to himself, which only caused his face to burn further.
“Now, I brought my notes from last Tuesday’s lecture; I remember Prof. Clarkson saying that a bulk of what we studied that day would be on the exam–oh!”
Tom looked up at Sybil’s startled gasp. “What? What is it?”
She was looking down at the coffees Daisy had set before them..and he noticed that she was blushing. Tom frowned and glanced at the coffees himself…and quickly realized the reason for Sybil’s blush.
The distinct image of a heart was seen floating atop their coffees.
Tom glanced at Sybil and noticed a tiny smile curling at her lips. He cleared his throat and nervously mumbled, “I’m always amazed that they can do that…make pictures in the foam.”
Sybil lifted her eyes to meet his but didn’t say anything…she simply smiled.
Tom swallowed the growing lump in his throat. “Right um…so you were saying about the exam?”
Sybil blushed but nodded her head and went back to telling him about her notes. They sipped their coffees and talked for what felt like hours, their focus being on chemistry, but slowly shifting to other topics. They smiled, laughed, and at one point Sybil even poked his shoulder in a flirtatious manner.
Daisy sighed from where she watched the couple, shaking her head in amusement and frustration. It was obvious to EVERYONE that they were crazy about each other. She was hoping that perhaps, before the night was over, this “study date” would turn into something more. Maybe when they ordered the next round of coffee she would add cupid’s arrow striking the hearts. THAT should be obvious enough, right?