Feels Like Forever


The airport is busy, crowded with people going to and from various places around the world. Emilie manages to find an empty chair by the terminal, and she sits, holds her purse in her lap. Nobody looks at the nervous young woman sitting alone as they bustle past, but she doesn’t mind; on the contrary, she loves people-watching and making up backstories about their lives, no matter how untrue they may be - her motto is, quite frankly, the more ridiculous, the better. It’s a lot more fun when Derek is with her, though.

Once she’s sufficiently lost the joy in thinking of absurd theories for the fellow fliers, Emilie turns her attention to digging through her purse until her fingers wrap around the hard case of her phone. She smiles at the image of Ryder on the lock screen, her already-aching heart hurting more as she remembers she’s going to be away from him for an entire week. She taps in her PIN and brings up the message app. Her text is going to be unwelcome, she knows this, but she can’t stop herself from typing out the message anyway.

<< Remember you can call me for whatever while I’m gone, and I’ll be on the first flight back.

>> Idk y ur so worried I can take care of my own kid Emily

<< I know you can, Danielle, it’s not that. I’ve just never been so far away from him. I’ve always been able to be there immediately if there’s an emergency or something.

Her teeth grind together as she stares at the deliberate misspelling of her name. Danielle only ever does it when she’s annoyed, when Emilie isn’t doing what she wants when she wants, or when she decides to be a massive, inconsiderate pain in the ass. Which is often. Danielle’s response doesn’t come for a long time. Emilie is hopeful that her text will somehow assuage her former-stepsister’s ego.

>> I got this
>> Have fun

It isn’t quite the closure Emilie was hoping for against her better instincts, but it will have to do. She shuts off her phone as the flight is called over the speakers, stands and gathers up her stuff, then follows the other passengers toward the gate. Getting through security is less of a hassle than anticipated, which was Emilie’s goal when she dressed for the day this morning: Leggings so no denim would dig into her waist or restrict her movement, an old Fleetwood Mac t-shirt she’d stolen off her father before she moved out of the house, and a pair of flats so she wouldn’t have to worry about tying laces. She inches down the aisle and finds her seat toward the back; she’s glad she didn’t pack a carry-on when her seatmate’s takes up most of the overhead bin.

The man sitting next to her is kind, even sweet, but definitely a talker. Every time she thinks he’s done, he turns to her with even more to say. She nods along politely, having had plenty of practice with Ryder and his chatter. It’s only because she knows there’s less than three hours on the flight that she keeps up the pretence; the last thing she wants to do right now is offend someone and end up being in a foul mood when landing. This is supposed to be a vacation. It’s already bad enough that she misses her godson so much, it hurts. There’s no need to add to it.

Her phone buzzes seconds after she turns it back on. Emilie ignores it until she’s off the plane and past the groups of people greeting their loved ones. She grins as she saves the photo of Ryder to her phone, though the happiness at seeing him is tinged with confusion that Danielle would willingly send her a picture. Deciding not to dwell too much on it, she switches to the thread with the highest number of unread messages: Niall.

>> Are you excited?
>> I am
>> Have you taken off yet?
>> Did you tell Danielle that she can call whenever?
>> I’m sure you did but just thought I’d remind you
>> Emilllliiiiieeee time is moving too slow
>> Landed yet?
>> What about now?
>> Okay I’ll stop messaging you so much
>> Sorry about that
>> Can’t wait to see you
>> Last one promise
>> Let me know when you’re on your way

Emilie snorts before giggling, claps a hand over her mouth to stifle the noise, though there’s no need - the ambient noise of the airport is far louder than her laughter. She doesn’t reply to the texts; instead, she makes her way to baggage claim and waits for her suitcase to come around on the conveyor belt. Once it’s in hand, she heads toward the exit, hails a taxi as soon as she steps out into the bright sunshine, and slides into the backseat before anyone else can try to steal the cab from her. She prefers using Uber or Lyft for rides, but she doesn’t want to have to wait.

Music echoes through the quiet from the backyard, and she wonders if he’ll even hear the knocking on his front door. It’s proven that he won’t by the fact that she’s still standing on the porch three minutes later. Eventually, Emilie sighs, rolling her eyes fondly, and steps back to snap a picture of the door in front of her. The song changes to the next, and in the silence between, she hears a shout and laughter, then the door is swinging open in the next minute to reveal Niall’s grinning face, blue eyes bright above pink cheeks. She barely gets the chance to raise her arms before he’s wrapping her up in a warm hug, squeezing just a bit too tightly. She buries her face into his neck, grins widely.

“You were supposed to let me know when you landed!”

“Thought I’d surprise you like this instead.”

“I’m glad you did.” His hands are trembling slightly when he cradles her cheeks; his eyes shine suspiciously brighter, and Emilie is sure it isn’t from the sunlight. “Are you ready for an entire week with me?”

“I mean, I guess.”

He kisses her forehead with a chuckle, links his fingers with hers, and grabs her suitcase with his other hand before leading her inside. She’s seen his house before through all of their FaceTime calls, but it looks so much better in person. She toes off her flats by the door and pads after him barefoot as he guides her to the stairs. He comes to a stop in the middle of the hallway, bites his lip.

“I... if you want, you can sleep in the guest room. Or mine. It’s up to you.”

Emilie stifles a giggle and touches his lower lip with the tip of her finger, gently manipulating it out from between his teeth. “I haven’t seen you in over a month. I think the only right choice is your bed.”

He swallows hard and nods, turns toward a door. She follows him into the bedroom. The bed is awfully inviting, beckoning her, but she ignores how desperately she wants to lie down and not leave the room for hours. Instead, she waits until Niall’s hands are free before wrapping her arms around his neck; his grin disappears, swallowed up by the kiss, and Emilie lets out a soft sigh as his hands rest on her hips, tug her closer.

The time apart has done nothing to quell how she feels about him, or how much she craves his touch. She exhales sharply when his fingers dig into the curve of her ass, heat and want flaring in her belly. She’s had doubts that he’s just as invested, but she finds it hard to be insecure when he’s holding her like this, his scent wrapping around her like a blanket of security as his tongue battles hers for dominance, when he is so close to her that her body feels like it’s about to take flight but only remaining because of his arms holding her.

“Nialler! Where’d ya go?”

His groan would be hilarious if Emilie wasn’t just as frustrated. Niall leans his forehead to hers, and she stares up at him; his pupils are blown wide, black overtaking the crystal blue, and her breath comes out in a shuddering gust. His lips quirk upwards, and she stretches up to kiss him again.

“They’ll come looking for me,” he whispers apologetically against her lips, and Emilie frowns but steps away.

“Fine. If we must.”

“Sorry, love.”

“It’s okay. They gotta leave sometime, right?”

Her heart swells at the low chuckle he gives her, and her hand finds his easily. He stays close to her, their arms brushing together with each step, as they make their way downstairs and out onto the deck. A small group of people sit at the table, and Emilie inhales slowly to calm her suddenly-racing heart. Niall tugs her toward an empty spot, lets her get settled in before he sits next to her. She closes her eyes with a slight smile when he kisses her temple.

“You must be Emilie.”

“Yeah, I am.”

The guy who’d spoken grins, dimples just as on display as the tattoos on his chest in the gap of his unbuttoned shirt. He reaches out to shake her hand. “Harry. We’ve heard a lot about you.”

“Honestly thought Niall made you up.”

“Shut up, Louis,” groans Niall, even as the others laugh.

Louis protests through his chuckles, “It’s true!”

Emilie leans into Niall’s side while he makes introductions. Harry keeps her laughing with horrible jokes, and John asks her questions about her life back home. Mully occasionally pipes in with random bits of information obviously hand-selected to try to embarrass Niall. Melody mostly stays quiet, and Emilie squirms uncomfortably under her scrutiny. Louis disappears into the house a few minutes later then returns with a child in his arms; the toddler blinks sleepily in Emilie’s direction before looking up at Louis, whose face softens as he stares down at the child.

“And this handsome devil is my son, Freddie.”

“He’s adorable,” Emilie manages to get out, though her throat is rapidly growing tight; her chest aches, feels hollow.

“You okay?”

She nods, not trusting herself to speak, but Niall understands. He kisses her hair, whispers that she can go call Ryder if she wants, no one would judge her for it. Emilie is touched by his consideration but chooses to stay where she is. She knows Danielle would fly off the handle if Emilie called right now, and that isn’t what she wants to deal with at the moment. So she lets her head drop to Niall’s shoulder, stares out at the backyard as the voices around her blend and blur into one mass of sound. A bead of sweat snakes down her spine, tickling a path along her skin; she jerks at the touch of a small hand on her arm and turns to see Freddie standing next to her, a grape clutched in his fingers.

“Is this for me?” He nods, and she holds out her hand; the beaming smile she gets in return eases some of the ache of missing Ryder. “Thank you, Freddie. That’s very kind of you to share with me.”

He places the fruit on her palm and goes back to his dad. When Emilie sets the grape on the table, she catches sight of Niall staring at her. There’s something indecipherable in his eyes, but the sweet smile tells her it’s something good. Someone lets out a sharp whistle while another says ow-ow! when he leans forward and kisses her, and Emilie giggles as she pulls back.

The hours spent outside with the group go by fast. One minute, Emilie is chatting with Harry and Mully, with the occasional interruption as Freddie brings her more and more fruit, and the next, the sun is slipping below the horizon and everyone is preparing to leave. Harry holds out his arms in question, and Emilie nods, lets him wrap her up in a tight hug. Freddie leaves a sloppy kiss on her cheek; she grins and tickles him, listening to his precious giggles echoing in the backyard. John merely waves at her before heading through the door into the house, and Melody doesn’t even look back. Mully, wisely, disappears up the stairs with a quick goodnight.

Emilie helps carry in the dishes, and she and Niall wash them together. As soon as she’s set the last plate into the drying rack, he steps closer, pins her between his body and the counter. Her lips burn with the heat of the kiss, her head sent swimming instantly. She moans low in her throat as his hands skim along her body, arches into his touch. They’re both breathing heavily when he pulls away. He doesn’t go far, and she chases the heady taste of his lips; they laugh into the kiss as their feet get tangled up, but the amusement fades quickly, their steps becoming more hurried as they make their way toward the large couch, still wrapped up in each other. She knows this isn’t a good idea, since Niall’s best friend is right upstairs, but she can’t find it in her to stop this. Not right now.

He drags her down with him, and she carefully shifts until her thighs are pressed to his hips. His murmured damn it sends shivers down her spine; Emilie sits up long enough to yank her shirt over her head. It hits the floor somewhere, she doesn’t care, only focused on feeling Niall beneath her. Her hands roam across his abdomen, under the cotton of his tee, and she bites down gently on his bottom lip. He growls deep in his chest, a hand sliding up her back to fumble with the clasp of her bra. It quickly joins her top on the floor, along with his. She lifts her hips so he can shove haphazardly at his pants, push them down. Emilie belatedly realises that she’ll have to stand in order to remove her leggings, so she does with a petulant groan. Her disgruntlement disappears in a flash once she finishes with the task.

No words are spoken between them as they move together. His hands leave flaming paths on her flesh, but it’s nothing compared to the inferno that’s burning her up from the inside out. Emilie swallows down the moan that escapes from him, the kiss hard and insistent and bruising, even as she presses her fingers into his skin. A sharp pain blossoms to life in her hips where his nails dig into the flesh, helping her to lift and fall, to ride the heady wave crashing through her. She bites back a breathless sob as she crests; he shushes her softly, but she can’t focus on anything but how she feels. Evidently, he’s having the same problem. He buries his face against her throat and muffles his groan into her skin.

Her body is heavy, sated in ways that she isn’t quite accustomed to after almost two months of not seeing Niall. Emilie stretches along the couch, relief pouring through her when her muscles lose the tension from use. Niall drags a fingertip across the planes of her belly, and she giggles and squirms away. His laugh is music to her ears; she tilts her head up to kiss him gently.

“Fuck, but I missed you.”

“I missed you, too.”

They lie there for a few minutes, listening to each other breathing, but eventually, Emilie grows uncomfortable with being completely nude when there’s the risk of Mully coming downstairs at any time. She climbs unsteadily to her feet, and Niall pouts up at her. Rolling her eyes, she shakes her head and refuses to give into his puppy eyes. Saying the magic word of “shower” spurs him into action: He rolls off the couch and helps her gather up their clothes. She dresses quickly, grimacing at the cushions they’ve just had sex on. He interprets her expression correctly, chuckling before pressing his lips to hers.

“Don’t worry, I’ll wash the covers.”

The shower they share is surprisingly chaste; Niall scrubs her back clean for her, and even though he peppers her skin with kisses, he doesn’t push for anything else, and neither does Emilie. The domesticity alone is intimate enough for her right now. Once they’ve both rinsed the soap from their bodies, she steps into his arms, rests her forehead against his shoulder, and breathes in the scent of him. The water beating down on her skin is relaxing, the warmth and steadiness pushing exhaustion into her bones. His grip tightens around her before he reaches around her to turn the shower off. She shivers in the cool, damp air of the bathroom as she steps out of the shower stall, and he passes over a towel.

They dress in silence then walk hand-in-hand into the bedroom. It’s different to be sleeping with him in his own bed. They’ve always been in hers, her apartment, her car. He’s been on her territory. The unfamiliarity of his home and the fact that she’s so far from Ryder sends a persistent, anxious buzzing up her spine, and she blows out a shaky breath. Niall pulls her to cuddle close into his side once they’ve crawled between the sheets. He tugs the comforter up until her shoulders are covered, and she burrows further into the solid heat of his body.

“I’m so glad you came,” he whispers after he’s turned off the bedside lamp. “I was… I was afraid you’d say no.”

She huffs out a laugh. “I almost did, to be honest. But I guess I figured that if you could be selfish enough to invite me, I could be selfish enough to accept.”

“Selfishness is good sometimes.”

“I think I’ll be selfish more often,” admits Emilie; her promise is broken by the wide yawn that cracks her jaw, and she sighs heavily as the rest of her energy seeps from her. She doesn’t hear Niall’s response before she’s asleep.