Feels Like Forever



Niall sets Ryder down on the living room floor, pressing a kiss to the toddler’s forehead, then stands upright. Emilie stares unabashedly as her boyfriend stretches; his shirt rides up, exposes a strip of skin above the waistband of his jeans, and her heart quickens in her chest. He catches her staring and huffs out a laugh.

“I feel like you’re objectifying me,” he teases as he makes his way to her side.

“Of course I’m not. How dare you think that?”

"Sure, petal, you keep telling yourself that."

"Oh, I absolutely will." She wraps her arms around his neck, tugging him closer, kissing away his chuckles. "I love you."

"I love you, too."

She cocks her head when he grimaces. "What's wrong?"

"We have to drive back, don't we?"

Emilie can't help it - she giggles at the petulance in his voice, the pout on his face. Niall frowns and pokes her nose, but his lips twitch up into a smile regardless. She laces her fingers with his and leads him to the couch; Ryder ignores the adults, too engrossed in making his dinosaur toys stomp across the floor. Emilie watches him for a moment, assures herself that he's fine. He's happy. Niall is smiling softly, understanding and promises in his eyes, when she turns back to him.

"He's okay, love."

"I know. I just... I'm worried that this last week has been harder on him than I could ever actually comprehend."

"It may have been hard on him, but I doubt that it's something that will stick with him. At worst, he grows up thinking it was a vacation."

"Yeah, a vacation full of sad songs and his auntie crying all the time."

Niall rolls his eyes and pulls her into his side. "Well, we're fixing that, right? You and me, in this together for the long run?"

Emilie doesn't have a response to that, but Niall doesn't seem to require an answer. Not to that. Emilie is thankful for his easy acceptance. She has hopes that this relationship will last, will grow stronger with time, and that they can both get over their issues and make it work. That whatever was wrong before won’t happen again.

“So. Driving back.”

“Yes. Driving. I like my car, ’kay? I don’t wanna leave it here.”

“And I don’t really want to drive that much.”

Emilie shrugs and pushes to her feet, padding to the kitchen for a drink; Niall follows, a shadow that she doesn’t mind having. “Well, then you can fly while Ry and I drive back.”

“I am not letting you out of my sight for a very, very long time.”

Emilie stares at him with her glass raised halfway to her lips. The lack of amusement on his face, his lips pressed into a thin line… She has no doubts that he is miles away from joking around. She graciously decides not to remind him that he has promotional events and a tour to plan, which will force him to let her out of his sight. She knows it will most likely only serve to upset him.

So she swallows her mouthful of juice then sets the glass on the counter. Niall comes willingly enough, steps into the reach of her outstretched arms, and she grins up at him.

“Then we’re all driving together.”

His put-upon pout does nothing to hide the smile that he’s fighting. “Fine. I think I can handle that if you’re by my side.”

“For what it’s worth, it certainly can’t be more annoying than living with me. But there will be eating in the car, and you, mister, are not allowed to say one single, solitary word about it.”

“Your car’s always been the one that food is allowed in,” he replies breezily, shrugging. “When did you want to start?”

“I have another couple days before I have to tell Desiree whether I’m coming back or not, so I figured we could take the opportunity to stay here until then. I could show you ‘round my town.”

“I’d love that.”

Niall chuckles softly, presses a kiss to her cheek, then steps back. Emilie follows him back to the couch, making sure to grab her juice on the way. He allows her to cuddle into his side as they sit there, and the silence now is much different than the silence of the past week. Before, it was oppressive, constantly screaming in her ear that she was alone again, the reality of it all seeping into her bones and weighing down her heart. The silence now is comfortable, the same easy ones as when they were home together.


Emilie had never considered that there might be another place that she calls ‘home’. She’d moved from Waxahachie to Austin at nineteen, all in the name of higher education. She’d never gone outside the borders of Texas; it’s where she grew up, where she knew she would die. She would never have dreamed that Texas would feel less like home than Los Angeles. Then again, there is no uncertainty in her mind or heart that home is wherever Niall is. Niall and Ryder.

From: Derek
> I know you and your man are probably wanting to get back to that wholesome loving feeling thing, but wanna come over for lunch?
> I miss you and Ryder, and I’m pissed that Monie got to see you guys as a family again before I did.

To: Derek
< Too bad, so sad. Should’ve been working this morning!! For real, tho - I’m game for it, but lemme check with Niall first.

From: Derek
> He back to being jelly of me?

To: Derek
> LOL NO. I just don’t know if he wants to do much today. I’ll let you know.

Thankfully, Niall doesn’t seem to mind the addition to their day’s plans. He just asks that they do something as a family first, just the three of them. So Emilie grabs the diaper bag, fills it with nappies and wipes and a few juice boxes, and slips a pair of flip-flops onto her feet while Niall rounds up Ryder and a handful of his favourite dinosaurs.

The park is busier than Emilie anticipates, but she doesn’t mind. Not when Ryder looks so happy to be able to play with kids his age, not with Niall so close by, not with the heat and sunshine and everything that feels so right. She leads her boyfriend to a bench in the shade of a large tree, and they watch Ryder chasing the other children. Holding hands with someone has never before felt like such unbreakable promises of forever.

Lunch at Derek’s starts off rather awkward. Derek does what he can to make Niall feel more at ease, but there is nothing that can stop Emilie from noticing how uncomfortable Niall looks as they sit around the table. Derek catches her eye, gesturing to Niall with his chin, and Emilie stifles a sigh. Leaning over, she rests her hand on Niall’s knee under the table.

“Hey, come with me.”

Niall frowns at her, but she cuts her gaze to Ryder in lieu of replying. He seems to get the point, standing when she does, and follows her to the bedroom down the hall. Emilie closes the door behind them then steps closer to Niall. His brow twitches as he stares down at her, though he stays quiet. It takes all of her willpower to not react on her frustration, instead forcing herself to remain calm.

“What’s wrong?” she asks quietly, and he shakes his head. “No, no. Niall, please. We’re working toward better communication, remember? So please, be honest with me.”

“Does he hate me?”

“Who, Derek? Of course not. He’s… he’s not happy about what happened, he thinks we both could’ve done a damned better job at the whole relationship thing. But he doesn’t hate you. He certainly would not have invited us over for lunch if he did.” Emilie cups his cheek with her hand, brushes her thumb along the curve of his cheekbone. “Just relax, okay?”

Niall blows out a breath and leans his head into her palm more securely, smiling slightly. “I’m being thick, aren’t I?”

“Nah, not at all. It’s understandable. Just… unnecessary. I love you.”

“I love you, too. We’d better get back before he thinks we’re defiling his bed.”

Emilie laughs and pulls Niall closer for a soft kiss. “He knows I’d never.”

The rest of the meal goes much more smoothly. Now that Niall’s been reassured that Derek doesn’t have a bounty out on his head, he is relaxed, quicker to laugh and join in on the friendly arguments, and Emilie is thankful for that. She doesn’t know if she could have handled any more stilted conversations. When Derek brings up Emilie going to a Halloween party dressed in her high school cheerleading uniform, though, she almost wishes for the quiet awkwardness.

The river stretches toward the horizon, glittering with sunlight and dotted with kayakers. The heat of the day has beckoned for families to leave their homes, joggers to take their runs on the trails all around. Emilie makes sure Ryder is protected from the sun by the pram’s awning then draws in a deep breath. Earth and water, food trucks and restaurants that line the pavements of downtown... She’s missed this.

“An’ Em, look! Boats!”

“Yeah, baby. People like water.”

“We go?”

“Nah, Auntie Emilie doesn’t do large bodies of water.”

“You don’t?” Niall questions, staring at her with brows drawn tightly together.

Emilie shakes her head vehemently. “No. No, I do not. I, uh, I have this phobia of - not so much drowning, really. I just don’t go in any body of water past where I can see the bottom.”

“I didn’t know that.”

“Now you do.” She smiles and nudges him with her shoulder. “I... I really did miss you. A lot. At the risk of sounding super-dramatic, I think I could’ve died from how much.”

Niall lets out a soft laugh, loops his arm over her shoulders, and kisses her temple. “I’m just glad we’re both fighting for us.”

“So am I.”

well even after almost 2 weeks of not seeing her around in la, looks like our favorite dumb blond didn’t learn his lesson and run far away. he was spotted in austin tx with her and her kid, and who else is disappointed that he didn’t come to his damn senses???? guess it’s true. even your faves let you down.

Emilie snorts as she rereads the post. She does have to admit that the photos attached show a much happier picture of their little family - it shows the new truth, the reality she’s strived for over the last few months. She closes out of her browser and sets her phone aside, sliding further down between the sheets. Niall is barely awake now, but he reaches for her and lets his fingers splay across her bare belly. She shivers at the warmth of his touch and laces their fingers together.

This must be what forever feels like, she thinks as she watches her boyfriend’s lashes flutter against his cheekbones, lips parting as he drifts off to sleep. The afternoon and evening and night had all been perfect, spent together and in love and so happy. Her mind whispers a question of what she would have done if Niall had never chased after her, but she brushes it aside. Doubts are what got her into this mess in the first place. They have no home here any longer.

And she’ll be damned if she lets them ever control her life again.
♠ ♠ ♠
as i have stated on my tumblr, i lost my grandfather over this past weekend. things are a mess for me right now. and there won't be an update next wednesday - i have a funeral to attend (social distancing and masks at all times, i promise!), but we'll get back to our regularly scheduled programming after that.

thanks for giving my stories a chance and for your patience