up in the air - part 4
pairing: tom holland x reader, featuring harrison osterfield
word count: 2832
summary: tom’s travelling back home to london with harrison, and he just so happens to be on the same flight as you. sometimes, you find love when you’re least expecting it.
author’s note: thanks for the feedback! sorry it’s taken me a while to send this part out but my uni exams begin soon so updates might come slowly for the next month. hope you like this new part :-)
the plane had only been in the air for a few minutes when tom decided it was safe for him to talk to you again. at the sound of his sweet british voice next to your ear, you felt something inside of you loosening, and your breathing slowly returned to normal.
“once,” he ducked his head to glance out the window at the disappearing skyline, “harrison and i were flying back to montreal from london on new year’s eve. we were close to landing at midnight.”
you turned your head slightly to watch him as he talked.
“it was a really clear night and we could see all the little firework displays along the way. these tiny flares, shooting up and going off below us. one after another.”
the view outside the window went white as the plane pushed through the clouds. you felt your heart pounding and closed your eyes, trying to picture tom’s fireworks instead.
“if you didn’t know what they were, it probably would’ve looked really scary or something – but from the plane, it was sorta nice. they looked pretty, plus we couldn’t hear them so they were just silent, small lights way down below. it was hard for me to believe that they were the same huge explosions of noise from the ground, you know? a matter of perspective.”
you opened one eye.
“is this supposed to help me get over my fear of flying?”
“no,” tom grinned sheepishly, “i was just trying to distract you again.”
“thanks. got anything else?”
“yup,” he sat back, dragging a hand through his curls and leaving it resting in his hair. “a whole plane trip’s worth, actually.”
you tugged on the window cover and pulled it down so the sky was gone from view, ignoring tom’s raised eyebrows. luckily, the seatbelt light above your heads flickered off and the screen embedded into the seat in front of you switched on. tom’s did the same and he reached out, tapping on the touch display.
“huh. they have these in first-class too.”
“i wonder what movies they’re showing.”
tom drew his hand back.
“uhh – don’t bother checking. probably that lame cartoon one that just came out. the emoji movie, i think?” he leant over and switched off your screen. “don’t you prefer my company anyway?”
you shot him an indignant look.
“hey! i happen to enjoy movies about emojis, thanks very much.”
tom rolled his eyes.
“talking emojis? hollywood’s running out of ideas.”
“some of the emojis sing too,” you grinned, enjoying the look on tom’s face.
“please, please don’t tell me that you’ve watched it.”
you held up two fingers.
“you do know it’s meant for under twelves, right?”
“good movies have no age limit.”
“okay, okay. i won’t argue with you on that one.”
you nodded, satisfied with his answer, and turned back to the screen.
“are you sure you don’t wanna watch a movie? i think they’ve got the spider-man remake on here too,” you paused and glanced at tom with a grin, “or is that too childish for you as well?”
tom grabbed your hand, moving it away from the tv.
“okay, for the record, the new spider-man is awesome. but let’s just chat instead.”
suddenly, one of the flight attendants appeared next to your row with an armful of headsets. she carefully leant over the sleeping pregnant woman at the end and smiled at you and tom.
“would either of you like one?”
tom looked at you, and you shook your head. he turned around and gave the lady a charming smile.
“thank you but we’re alright.”
you lifted your backpack up from underneath the seat and unzipped it, rifling around for your earphones.
“just in case we decide to watch spider-man,” you joked, but tom wasn’t paying attention. he was inspecting the small pile of books and magazines you’d pulled out onto your lap with interest.
“you must read a lot!”
“kinda,” you smiled, brushing off a piece of lint from the front cover of your chaos walking book. “i can’t really resist a good story.”
tom reached out, picking up the worn copy from under your fingers. he leafed through the pages carefully, as if they might fall out with the slightest touch.
“have you read this one?”
you nodded sheepishly.
“maybe more than once.”
tom raised an eyebrow and pointed at the dog-eared pages and ripped back cover.
“oka-a-a-y, maybe a lot more than once. it’s probably my favourite novel ever! have you read the series?”
tom looked amused.
“uh, nope. what’s it about?”
“oh, wow – tom, it’s such an amazing story. the main character, todd – he lives in this weird, dystopic world, right? and he meets this girl, viola, and together they go on this freaky adventure and there’s this thing, called ‘the noise’, and it’s always in their ears, and the series goes for three books but the first is the best probably, todd’s the most real in that one, i’m kinda in love with his character, and - ”
tom held up a hand, laughing.
“woah, slow down! you’re really keen on this, huh?”
“yeah, sorry. i get carried away when i talk about things i’m passionate about.”
you blushed and tom shook his head.
“don’t apologise. i totally get it.” he paused and then smiled. “you’re extra cute when you’re excited.”
you flashed tom a small smile and turned away, unable to meet his eyes after the compliment. he exhaled quietly and settled back into the seat while you packed away the books and put your backpack away. pressing your ear to the window cover, you could hear the wind roaring outside as it rushed past the plane. technically, you were afloat – up in the air, thousands of feet above the ground – but you felt steady and secure when you were beside tom.
you opened your eyes, awake all at once. tom’s face was just inches from your own, watchful and quiet with an unreadable expression on his face. startled, you brought a hand to your chest before you registered that your head was resting on his shoulder.
“sorry,” you coughed, pulling away.
the plane was completely dark now, and it was almost silent except for the rumbling of the air all around you. it seemed like everyone had fallen asleep – even the screens set into the back of the chairs had been shut off. you tugged out your arm from where it was wedged between the window and seat, massaging it before glancing at your watch to check the time before realising you had no idea which timezone you were in. running a hand over your head, you snuck a sideways glance at tom. luckily, it didn’t look like there was any drool on his shirt from where you’d lay.
he met your eyes and stuck out a hand, offering you a napkin.
“what’s this for?”
“turn it over.”
you flipped the paper and grinned. tom had drawn a series of largescale emojis in scratchy blue pen.
“so you gave in and watched the movie, then?”
“hard to resist the temptation of animated facial expressions, you know?” tom watched as you tucked the napkin into the top of your bag. “how’d you sleep?”
“okay,” you cut yourself off with a yawn and tilted your head to one side. “don’t you sleep on planes?”
“normally, i do.”
he shook his head and gave you a small smile.
“sorry. i didn’t mean to use you as a pillow.”
tom waved you off and laughed.
“it’s okay. harrison claims i make a very comfortable head-rest, so i’m glad i could help. plus, you looked peaceful.”
“i don’t feel peaceful,” you sighed, twisting in your chair to face him. “is london nice?”
tom looked taken aback for a second but then smiled.
“it is. it’s a beautiful city.” he paused. “you never actually told me why you were going there. may i ask?”
out of all the topics of conversation, this was the one you’d been hoping to avoid. but there was something about tom - something you’d noticed from the moment he’d leant down to help you in the terminal earlier - and it made you trust him.
“i’m actually moving there. to london. to live.”
tom blinked a few times in surprise.
“wow! i – i just sorta assumed you were going on holidays!”
“i wish,” you muttered, and then shook your head. “no, that’s not true either. i’m happy, honestly. i’m just really nervous about the move, i’ve never really been away from my family for more than two weeks and i’ve left everyone i know behind.”
you bit your lip.
“i don’t know how i’m going to survive. the further we get from home, the more nervous i feel.”
tom reached out and took your hand quickly, giving it a squeeze.
“y/n.” you looked up at him and found his brown eyes carefully searching your own. “it’s okay, i’m here. i understand – trust me, i’ve had to face it all before.”
he let out a deep sigh and smiled sadly.
“the best piece of advice i’ve ever gotten was to turn nerves into excitement. you know? it’s really hard at first, leaving the people you love behind. but believe me - going out into the world on your own, while nerve-wracking, is truly awesome. it’s been one of the best decisions i’ve ever made, just taking the opportunity and running with it. if you can find a way to be excited about it, you’ll gain the most! and hey, you’ll be independent and have the chance to be whoever you want, because the only person pressuring you is yourself.”
you looked down at your lap.
“i don’t know… i want to leave, and part of me does feel excited… but the other part is just plain scared of what’s to come.”
there was a silence from tom before he replied.
“being scared is only human. sometimes we have to leave our comfort zone to find the things that make us the most happy in life.”
“tom, i’m going to be all by myself for the first time ever.”
“hey,” he touched your cheek lightly, “you won’t be alone, i promise. i’m going to be there, and so will harrison, and we’re your friends.”
“thank you,” you smiled weakly and tom nodded. “sorry for turning this into a sook-fest.”
“it’s okay,” he shrugged and tugged on a curl of hair that had fallen over his forehead, “like i said – i understand.”
despite tom’s comforting words, you were ready to get off the subject and move on. maybe he was right and london was going to be a great change for you, but it was making you nervous again. both of you lapsed into silence for a while. tom rubbed his eyes, gently letting go of your hand to do so. you let out a breath you didn’t even know you were holding as he started to talk.
“so, that was my big question for you. got any burning ones for me?”
“okay,” you cringed before you’d even formed the words, but your interest had been blooming inside for hours now – since the airport phone call – and you couldn’t help but ask.
“do you have a girlfriend?”
tom’s cheeks reddened, and the smile you caught right before he ducked his head was cryptic – one of two meanings. the bigger part of you is worried that it must be sympathetic and charitable, designed to make you feel less awkward about the question and coming answer, but something else kept you wondering all the same – maybe, just maybe, tom’s expression was something even kinder. something full of understanding, a seal on the unspoken agreement that something was happening right there between the two of you, that it just might be a kind of beginning.
after a long moment, tom shook his head.
you weren’t really sure how to proceed after his answer. it felt like something had changed, but you weren’t sure what.
tom shrugged with a grin.
“haven’t met anyone i want to spend thirty years with, i guess.”
“there must be millions of girls who work on your movies.”
“probably more like a few girls, actually.”
tom shot you a look and you laughed.
“bet none of them are british though. that’s your type, right?”
“don’t really have a type, if i’m honest. unless you count girls with tomatophobia – that’s my one weakness,” tom smiled and leant sideways, bumping you with his shoulder.
“right,” you grinned. “did you have a girlfriend in high school?”
“at my acting school, yeah. she was nice.”
“so what happened?”
tom tilted his head back against the seat.
“i guess what always happens. we graduated, i left for america, she didn’t. we moved on. what about you? ever had a boyfriend? or girlfriend?”
“boyfriend,” you rolled your eyes and tom held up his hands in defence.
“i didn’t know! just making sure.”
“well mr-politically-correct, i had a boyfriend. but he broke up with me, actually.”
“oh. what happened?”
you sighed and mimicked tom.
“i guess what always happens. he got jealous of me being friends with one of his mates, and broke up with me over text.”
“wow,” tom muttered and thumped his fist on the arm wrist. “that’s millenial love at its most tragic.”
“something like that,” you agreed, looking over to find tom watching you closely.
“he’s an idiot, you know that right?”
“that’s true. i guess he was always sort of an idiot, in hindsight.”
“still,” tom replied and you smiled at him gratefully.
your ex had broken up with you right before you’d set the details of your move to london in concrete. you’d never thought about the possibility of what you might have done if you were still in a relationship when making the decision to leave home for another country. would you have reconsidered? or asked your boyfriend to go with you and move in together? probably not. but now, looking at tom, you wondered if you had it all wrong. you wondered if that was because there had been no one in the world you’d liked enough, nobody you felt comfortable with that you’d ask them to come with you to start a new life. you had a sudden fleeting image of tom, appearing on the doorstep of your apartment in a crisp white polo and jeans, holding a bunch of flowers in his hands. the idea made your stomach flutter. you swallowed hard, blinking away the thought.
beside you, tom glanced over at the pregnant lady, still sleeping soundly by the aisle.
“i’ve actually got to use the bathroom,” he admitted, and you nodded.
“me too. i bet we can squeeze past her.”
tom quietly unbuckled his seat belt and half-stood in a jerky motion, accidentally bumping into the seat in front of him. when its occupant didn’t stir, he let out a small breath and manoeuvred past the lady on the end without waking her up. when you’d both managed to make it out of your row, you followed tom as he shuffled down the aisle and towards the back of the economy section. a bored-looking flight attendant in a jump seat looked up from her magazine as you passed but didn’t pay you any more attention.
the ‘occupied’ lights were on above the bathroom doors, so you and tom stood in the small square of space outside. you were close enough to smell that same boy scent on tom’s shirt from before, but not so close that you were touching, exactly. his arm brushed against your own and you were seized by a sudden longing to reach for his hand.
you lifted your chin to find tom looking down at you with the same expression you’d noticed earlier, when you woke up with your head on his shoulder. neither of you moved and neither of you spoke – you just stood there watching each other in the darkness with the engines whirring beneath your feet. it occurred to you that tom might be about to kiss you, and you inched just the tiniest bit closer, your heart beating fast in your chest. tom’s hand skimmed yours lightly and you felt it like a bolt of electricity. to your surprise, he didn’t pull away – instead, he fit your hand into his own as if he was anchoring you there, and then tugged gently, moving you closer.
it almost felt as if you were completely alone – no captain or crew, no rows of snoozing passengers, no one – and you took a deep breath, tipping your head up to look at him.
suddenly, one of the bathroom doors flew open and bathed you and tom in sharp, bright light. a little toddler waddled out, wiping his hands on his overalls as he moved back down the dark aisle.
and just like that, the moment was over.
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