Feels Like Forever


Unfortunately, there are very little chances over the next two weeks for Emilie and Niall to catch up on all the dates they’ve not gone on over the last nine months. Niall has his job to get back to, which means he’s gone for days at a time. Emilie fills the extra time with picking up more shifts at Tiny Tots, taking Ryder on long walks in the parks, and school-work. Thankfully, she has two semesters left, and she’ll have her degree. It’s only been almost six years in the making.

The distance doesn’t seem so much, tempered by frequent FaceTime calls and pictures sent regularly of where he is and what he’s doing. More often than not, the simplest texts are the ones that make Emilie’s heart melt - Miss you and Saw the sunset tonight and thought of you and Wish you and Ryder could be here, can’t wait to be home again. She doesn’t expect much from him when he’s busy like this, but knowing that he misses them just as fiercely as they miss him… it’s good. Really good.

Emilie knows it’s selfish, but she’s inordinately glad when he texts her late at night on the second of April, letting her know that he’s on his way home. She debates putting up a token protest but decides against it. Seeing him again, especially so close to her birthday, is far more important than appearances of not being clingy. She doesn’t tell Ryder, though, for much the same reason as she didn’t tell him when they came to visit for Christmas: He’s not very good at the whole ‘patience’ thing.

Emilie glances back over her shoulder when someone clears their throat. Mully raises a brow, stares around the kitchen. She follows his gaze, grimacing when she realises she may have gone overboard with the cleaning. She clambers to her feet and tosses the cleaning pad into the sink. Her joints pop and crack, and Emilie lets out a soft groan at the relief that floods through her body.

“I know, I know.”

“You realise he’s not expecting or demanding the entire house be spotless, right?”

“I know. I just… I can’t sleep, so.” She gestures around herself then hops up to perch on the countertop. “This happened.”

Mully shakes his head with a laugh and leans against the counter beside her. “It’s after midnight, Em. C’mon, let’s have some tea, then you go to bed.”

“I still have some laundry to do.”

“And that can wait until he’s home.”

“You’re right,” she sighs after a long minute, stretching to wash her hands in the sink. “Why are you right?”

“Because I’m not an idiot.”

Emilie wants to argue further, to finish scrubbing every nook and cranny of the kitchen, but she knows Mully is right. So she sets about grabbing mugs from the cupboard while he heats up water. They work together in silence until the tea is done, then she drops into a chair at the table.

Now that she isn’t moving around constantly, the exhaustion is settling in with a pace that frightens her. She almost wonders if Mully spiked her tea when her back was turned, but she dismisses that thought as quickly as it comes. Mully would never, for one. Her fatigue is easily explained by the fact that she’s been awake since four this morning after a night of tossing and turning.

Since she started this relationship with Niall, sleeping without him has been her least favourite thing, but it’s just gotten worse since they started living together. The bed is too large and cold when he isn’t taking up half of it, and she can only cuddle with a pillow for so long before it becomes ineffective.

“And that’s my cue to help you to bed.”

Emilie jerks to attention at Mully’s soft chuckle, and she scrubs at her eyes. “Did I really fall asleep at the table?”

“I think it was more of a quick nap, really.”

“Thanks,” she mumbles as he guides her across the room, but she doesn’t hear his response. The moment she falls face-first onto the bed, she slips off to sleep.


Emilie stirs to consciousness, burrowing deeper into the blankets on instinct, and tries to go back to sleep. Unfortunately, the warm body that curls along her back and the soft chuckle that meets her ear push her firmly into the realm of the living. She bites her bottom lip to stifle a smile, rolling over to face Niall.

“Hey, love.”


“I will never not love watching you wake.”

“Nope, no kisses yet. Something died in my mouth overnight, so...”

Niall laughs but lets her clamber off the bed. Emilie blows him a kiss then scurries into the en suite to brush her teeth. Once she’s set the toothbrush into the holder and rinsed her mouth out, she splashes cold water onto her face. She doesn’t know what time it is right now, but Niall is finally home. Sleeping is no longer important.

He’s still lying down when she steps into the bedroom. Emilie finds a place at his side, cuddling against him, and exhales slowly. The missing piece of her settles back into place, and she could drown in the peace. Her eyes slip closed as she relaxes further into his side, his heartbeat steady under her ear.

“Wanna come with me later?” she asks quietly, her fingers skimming lightly over the planes of his abdomen. She won’t be upset if he chooses to stay home, but she wants as much time with him as possible.

“I think I’ll stay here with Ryder, if that’s okay.”

Emilie pulls back to meet his gaze; uncertainty swims in his blue eyes, as if he’s afraid of upsetting her. “Of course it’s okay, babe. I’m pretty sure we’ve proved over and over that we don’t have to be glued at the hip. Besides, Ry is gonna lose his mind that you’re home again.”

“Speaking of,” Niall whispers as tiny feet slap against the hardwood floor toward their bedroom.

The serenity of the morning is broken with an exuberant shrieking of Niall’s name, and Emilie moves out of the way so Ryder can climb up onto the bed and fling himself at Niall. She shakes her head with a soft laugh, kisses Ryder’s hair, and heads downstairs for coffee and breakfast.

The announcements overhead are garbled, but Emilie doesn’t care about listening. The flight has been declaredlanding, so all she cares about is passing the next handful of minutes. Ryder hadn’t even noticed her leaving the house, too enthralled with colouring in the dinosaur book Niall brought home with him. Mully offered to come with her, but she told him to spend some time with his friend.

“Oh, my god, I’ve missed the fuck out of you!”

Emilie turns to at the loud voice, grinning widely as Monica drops her bag to the floor. They rush toward each other, meet in the middle for an embrace that threatens to crush Emilie’s spine. Derek plasters himself along Emilie’s back, and she blinks back tears.

When Niall suggested a month ago having Derek and Monica fly in for her birthday, Emilie immediately vetoed it - she didn’t want them spending a lot of money. Of course, they told her to shut up and they were coming. Derek was mostly upset that he wouldn’t be able to bring wine with him, but the promise of stopping at a liquor store was enough to cheer him up again.

“You two ready?”

“Hell yeah,” Derek replies with a bright grin. “I getta get wine-drunk with you again. Why wouldn’t I be ready?”

“We’re not getting wine-drunk at two in the afternoon.”

Monica laughs. “I love how you think you have any say in this.”

“Okay, lets get going. I wanna see this house you live in now that you’ve moved up in the world.”

Derek slings his arm over Emilie’s shoulders, and she rolls her eyes but lets him steer her toward the door. Monica walls with them, chattering on about new developments in the coffeeshop and her latest relationship. Emilie swallows thickly. Moving in with Niall was the smartest decision she ever made, but she still hates that she’s missing so much back in Austin. She wonders idly when the homesickness will end.

Her thoughts get derailed when Derek mentions that he’s brought Emilie’s mail with him - and there’s a letter from Danielle.