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(i quietly call to you) and you come and hold my hand

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This can’t be happening.

Of all things, of all days. Tessa prides herself on being prepared but apparently, the universe has other plans for her today. When she had checked the university library website, she’d sighed in complete and utter relief that there was one last study room available that matched the time she was planning to work on her cognitive psych assignment. She’d quickly booked it so that no other desperate soul could snag it before she could. She thought that all she needed to do was turn up on time, and she’d have an empty, ready study room waiting for her.

As she peeks through the square glass window of the closed door, she catches a glimpse of the dark head of the person who’s the antagonist to the plans she’s made for herself today. The person shifts back a bit and his profile comes into view, the slope of his nose and the curve of his mouth clear. On any other day, if this was a lecture or they’re in one of the cafés or he’s sitting at a library table close enough to hers, she would realise that this is a boy that would cause her to take a second peek, the kind of glance she’d hide under the pretence of rifling through her notes or taking another sip of her coffee, the type she’d daydream about starting a conversation with, realise his intelligence and humour and the colours in his eyes.

But this boy is currently, wrongfully, in the study room she’d booked for herself so he’s closer to a nightmare than a daydream at this very point in time.

She raps her knuckles on the door.

His head snaps up, startled out of whatever he’s been focusing on, looks sharply towards the source of the sound. He yanks out his earphones and reaches over to open the door.

“What?” He snaps.

She bristles. He’s rude too, on top of being an abominable thief of their library’s coveted study rooms. She clears her throat. “Hi. I booked this room from 9 to 11 am, and it’s now,” she makes a show of checking her phone, “9:05. I’d really appreciate it if I could use it now. Please.” She forces a smile on her face, even though she doesn’t really feel like it.

“No, I’ve booked this room for today,” he insists stubbornly, pushing his hair out of his eyes.

She’s not backing down, because she’s not falling behind on her assignments and risking her GPA. “No. I booked this room for today. From 9 to 11, like I said,” she says, slowly. “I can show you my confirmation email.” She taps on her mail app, mentally cursing how ridiculously shitty the signal is on this floor of the library, and waits for her email to load. “See?” she turns her phone towards him.

“No, I swear I…” his gaze drops down towards her phone screen, the light illuminating his face and casting shadows. It suits him, she muses. He’s the villain in this story. He rubs his hand over his face and pulls up his own email. He scans his laptop screen and it’s almost comical the way his eyes bulge and his mouth drops open when the realisation dawns on him.

“Fuck. I’m so sorry. I booked it on the wrong day. I thought that I had booked it for today, but I accidentally booked it for tomorrow.” He looks up at her. “I’m so sorry.”

“May I use the room now?” She could probably be a little kinder, but she’s a little stressed. She’d put this assignment off because of a hefty essay in the Shakespeare unit she’s taking as an elective, but she’s not letting her marks totally slip.

“Of course, yeah. Sorry, I’ll just quickly pack up my stuff.” As he clears out more of the desk area, she starts to set up her own things, taking out her laptop and charger, arranging her notebook and pens and highlighters just so.

He shoves all his papers and textbooks into his bag, and she winces at the thought of all those creased corners. She’s steadfastly looking straight at her laptop, but she can see him from her peripheral vision. He looks back at her once, mumbles something under his breath and exits the room. The door bangs loudly at his exit and she huffs.

Honestly, what a jerk.

Scott knows he’s a shitty person when he’s stressed. He’s liable to snap, doesn’t think through what he’s saying, and he knows he’s likely to hurt someone’s feelings. Yes, these are probably issues he needs to work on, but for now he deals with it by sequestering himself when it’s close to the due date, and making sure that he doesn’t encounter another human being until he’s pressed submit.

It works for the most part.

He lets his head fall hard on the textbook open in front of him when he thinks back to how he’d brusquely spoken to the girl whose study room he had stolen. He groans, sitting back up and rubbing his eyes with his palms. He’s still plagued by guilt at how much of a dick he’d been.

He peeks at the corner of his desk where he has a cup of coffee sitting. It’s a long shot that the girl would book the same study room as last week, but on the off chance that she does, he’s ready. It was a little impulsive, and he completely forgot to take into account how quickly coffee would cool down, but the barista behind the counter had kindly pointed at the insulated mugs on display and it’s a little more expensive but it seemed worth it. He hopes that because he’d bought it only ten minutes ago, it’ll still be warm.

It doesn’t take away how horribly he’d acted and doesn’t mean he won’t apologise profusely, but he hopes it’ll make up for it a little bit. 

He gets sucked into his problem set again (he simultaneously loves and hates his multivariable calc class) and he must lose track of time because suddenly there’s a knock on the door and when he opens it, it’s like déjà vu.

It is the same girl again, the same piercing green eyes, and she doesn’t look impressed, if her hand on her hip and her raised eyebrow as he opens the door are anything to go by.

“I’m just about to leave!” he blurts out. “Sorry.” He scratches the back of his neck as he stands up, dropping his pencil on the ground. He swears quietly but he looks up when she covers her laugh with an obvious-sounding fake cough. He shoves all his notes in his folder and closes his textbook. He stands up, slinging his bag on, and he sees his impulsively bought peace offering on the corner of the desk.

“This is for you.” He holds the cup of coffee towards her.

She looks taken aback. “For me?”

“Yeah.” His arms slacken when she doesn’t seem to be accepting of it. Oh fuck. This really was a stupid idea. “As an apology for last week? I know I was a dick and I shouldn’t have snapped like that. Plus, I stole your study room.”

“You were a dick,” she informs him, but a smile is teasing at her lips and he can’t help but smile a little in return. “And you did steal my study room.”

“Agreed. On both counts,” he says, solemn.

Her eyes linger on his peace offering, and maybe he did do the right thing. “Maybe,” she says slowly, “maybe I can forgive you.”

“Yeah?” He resists the urge to fist-pump.

She reaches out to take the travel mug, their fingers brushing. She holds it carefully in both palms.

“Yeah,” she smiles. Fully, this time. He wants to see that smile again. “But do you think I can have the study room now? I’ve got a deadline at midnight, and I still have so much to get done.” He likes that they feel like they’re on the same side now—practically burnt out college students against the perils of all-consuming deadlines.

“Of course, yeah. I’ll get out of your way.” But he lingers long enough until she takes her first sip of the coffee, her pleased little smile making him certain that the little extra he paid for the caramel shot was worth it.

“Hey,” she says, as he’s turned away, just about to let the door fall closed. “Thanks again…?” Her voice rises at the end and he fills in the blanks.

“It’s Scott. And you’re welcome…?”

“Tessa. It’s Tessa.”

She needs to stop thinking about that cup of coffee.

It sends the stupidest little flutter through her heart and—she needs to stop thinking about that cup of coffee.

She’d washed the travel mug with the intent of giving it back to Scott, because she appreciates the thought, truly, but an actual travel mug is a bit too much for her to keep. She’s hoping that he’ll still be in the same room so that she can return it. There’s a chance that he won’t, maybe his schedule’s more erratic, but she hopes for it all the same.

She takes a right at the end of the staircase, walking through the aisle with the archived newspapers until she reaches the study spaces in the back corner of the library’s fourth floor. She walks past all the doors until she reaches the one she’s booked.

The door’s ajar, and she can see someone sitting inside. She taps on the door, pushing it open.

“Tessa!”

It is Scott, and there’s that stupid little flutter in her chest again. He’s already got everything packed up. 

“I’ll get out of your way,” he says, standing up. “But I got you this.” He takes his hand out from behind his back to reveal another travel mug.

“Scott!” She takes a step back, shaking her head. “I can’t accept that.”

He laughs, tipping his head forward and his hair falls in front of his eyes. “Yes, you can.”

“I’ve already forgiven you.”

“Still.” He nudges the cup towards her and it’s weakening her resolve. Her sleep schedule’s been wrecked by assignments and lectures and attempting to still have somewhat of a social life and she probably needs it to get through the next few hours she’s planning to study. “It’s different to the one from last week, but I think you’ll still like it.”

She hesitantly takes it, feeling oddly seen as he watches her take a sip. There’s a hint of cinnamon or another type of spice and it takes everything in her to hold back a moan.

“Good?”

“Yeah,” she says, weakly. “You really shouldn’t have. Oh! And I have your mug from last week.” She roots through her bag to find it. “Here you go.”

He takes it from her, and with a final smile, he leaves the room, the door clicking softly shut behind him.

Throughout the two hours that she spends studying in the room, she takes slow sips from the mug, feeling warmed head to toe every time she does.

(The next week, he greets her the same way. “Tessa!” 

He brandishes the first travel mug from behind his back.

“Scott! You can’t keep on buying me coffee every single week!”

He laughs, the sound of which is becoming utterly familiar. “Just drink your coffee, Tess.”)

He likes their routine.

He likes that on Thursday mornings, after the hour that he spends on his problem set, he’ll duck down to the downstairs café before his booked time is up to get a coffee for Tessa, the travel mug that it goes into alternating each week.

The drink changes each week too, with him spending maybe a bit too long trying to pick something that’ll give him her pleased little smile, the one that doesn’t feel like she knows she’s smiling until a beat later than when she actually does, and he likes that.

He likes that after a few weeks, he’s starting to know the cadence of her footsteps, and that it’s only a matter of time until she’s pushing the door open once he hears her footfalls on the worn library carpet. He knows she’ll protest at the coffee that he offers her, but he likes that she accepts it in the end.

(He lingers a little longer each week, pries a little more conversation out of her, watches her arrange her pens and highlighters just so and tuck her hair behind her ear. He lingers and doesn’t admit that he does.)

“You know,” she begins one week, tapping her pen on her notebook while she’s waiting for her laptop to open. “we could book one of the larger study rooms for the two of us.”

“Aww, Tess, you want to spend more time with me?” he jokes, like he’s not the one who’d love to steal more of these moments from her, moments when she starts talking about the material that she studies and the passion shine through in her voice and her gestures.

“Ha, you wish.” She rolls her eyes. “I just feel bad that I kick you out in the middle of what you’re doing. And you won’t have time to buy me coffee if I’m already here. Which you really need to stop doing. Or at least tell me how I can pay you back.”

“You don’t have to pay me back. I’m still grovelling for your forgiveness, remember.”

She shakes her head. “So, next week? What time are you usually here?”

“From eight.”

“Okay. I’m pretty sure I can book up to four hours under my student account.”

“Okay.” He nods. He backs out of the room slowly, his hand still on the doorknob.

“I’ll see you next week?”

“Next week.” She puts her earphones in, clearly going into work-Tessa mode and she’s fucking adorable like this.

(The next week he brings out the travel mug from behind his back. “I’ve got your coffee.”

“Scott!” She hits his shoulder with the stack of papers she’s just printed out.  “I thought you’d stop!”

“And risk you being mad at me again? Not a chance, T.” He presses the mug into her hands, curls his fingers around hers until they mould to the curve of the mug. “Just drink up.”)

Scott is sick.

She knows this because of the blurry selfie he’d texted her that she’d opened once she’d gotten out of bed. His nose was clearly red, his eyes bleary, but she knows he’s got a midterm coming up and the one thing she’s learned about Scott is that he’s insanely smart and dedicated to his studies, even if he doesn’t like being obvious about it.

(If she’s being honest with herself, she’s learned more than that. She’s learned that he’s stupidly affectionate when he’s tired, his head lolling towards her shoulder, that he’s perceptive as fuck because he somehow knows what drinks she’ll like, that he’ll laugh at all of her jokes, even though she knows they’re not funny.

If she’s being honest with herself, she’d realise one more thing about herself too.)

You’re sick, she’d texted him.

in denial! He’d replied, and she could already hear his cheerful tone, see his smile that makes his eyes crinkle at the corners.

You need to rest

after i finish

Scott

tessa

She’d rolled her eyes. There’s no getting through to him. 

She walks from her dorm to the library, stopping to buy something for him to eat. She’s not one hundred percent sure they’re allowed food in the study spaces but they’ve gotten away with the coffee for so long that she’s willing to risk breaking the rules because she bets Scott’s already forgotten to take care of himself.

Which study room are you in?

Room 3, he replies. It’s the same one they used to book one after the other before they switched over to one of the larger ones. She never thought she’d hold so much fondness for the room, but she does, a little bit. It’s where she met him. Why do you ask?

She knocks on the door as a reply.

“T.” He watches her with his mouth agape, running a hand over his face, and blinking, like he doesn’t really believe that she’s there. His hair sticks out near his forehead. He’s probably been running his hands through it because she knows he tends to that when he’s stuck on a question. Judging from his state, he’s been stuck on a lot of them and a wave of fondness rushes through her chest.

“I come bearing gifts,” she smiles, holding up her bag. She’d lingered over the soup and sandwich menu, trying to figure out which ones he’d like best. He’s done it so much for her, and she just wanted to get it right.

“Tess. You shouldn’t have.” He rubs his nose, sniffling.

“You’ve bought me enough coffee this semester.” She sets her bag down, taking out the chicken noodle soup and the roast beef sandwich. She’d asked for it to be toasted a little longer, just so it’ll be a little bit warmer.

“Because I want to,” he says, like a confession, but he says it so easily, like it’s not a monumental thing.

“And I’m doing this because I want to,” she says, with no hesitation. It’s not an easy admission for her to make, and she usually hates feeling vulnerable in front of people, especially people she doesn’t know that well, but not with Scott. “You need to eat. Have you even had breakfast?” His silence is the answer she needs. “I know you want to ace your exam but I don’t want you to keel over before you’ve done it, okay?” She places her hand on the plane of his back, running it back and forth over the soft fabric of his hoodie. He leans in towards her. Then stops.

“Maybe you shouldn’t be too close. I’m contagious.”

She will probably end up catching what he has but it’s worth it. She just...wants to take care of him. 

“Then eat what I’ve given you,” she says firmly, “so that it’s not a waste.”

He nods. “Okay.” He pops the lid off the bowl of soup, and starts to eat. “Thanks, T. You’re the best, you know that?”

“I know,” she teases, letting the back of her fingers brush against the softness of his hair, like it’s not the other way around.

(She does find herself struck down by the same cold a couple of days later, but she still didn’t see him coming, the knock on her dorm room door and the bag of food, and the ever-present cup of coffee. It feels like gentleness, like a hand she’s reaching for and found already open and waiting for her.)

He’s been watching Tessa for the better part of the past hour because of how much she’s been shivering, wrapping her arms around herself in an effort to keep some warmth.

“Here.” He takes a moment to reach behind his head to yank his hoodie off. She’s still shivering and he’s always run a little warm.

“What?” She looks between him and what he’s holding in his hands.

He nods. “Borrow it for a while. You’re shivering so much. I don’t know, it must be something with the A/C. Again.” He’s lost count how many times it’s been too hot or too cold in this room.

Being around Tessa these past few weeks has taught him she doesn’t find it easy to accept things from other people, especially with how often she still insists on trying to pay him back for the coffee he’s freely given to her week after week. But she reaches out, slowly, softly, her fingers wrapping around his hoodie, slipping it on until her head pokes out and her hands push through the sleeves. It’s a little too big for her, the soft fabric swallowing her whole, the deep blue in contrast to her pale skin.

“Thanks Scott,” she murmurs, touching the back of his hand with the back of her own, before she bends over her lab report again.

He tries to lose himself in his problem set again, but he keeps on getting distracted by the sight of her out of the corner of his eye. 

When she stretches, looks over at him, one leg pulled up on her chair and her chin resting on her knee, he puts his pencil down, the grey scratches on the page forming his working out only partly done, but he thinks he’s become a lost cause.

“I think I’ve finished with my draft,” she says, interrupted by a yawn.

“Yeah? That’s great, T,” he smiles. “Maybe you can breathe easier now.”

 “Hopefully.” She nods at his notebook. “What about you?”

His hand moves to the back of his neck, and he glances down at the page that should really be already finished. “Could be going better, to be honest.”

She laughs, shaking her head.

When they leave the room once their booked time is up, he doesn’t realise until much later that Tessa’s still wearing his hoodie, that there’s a part of him she’s taken with her.

(He won’t realise, until much later, that it's not the only part of him that she’s taken.)

She nearly falls when she walks into the study room, and Scott stands up to steady her before she falls and hurts herself.

“Whoa, T.” He places a hand on her waist, the other on the small of her back, a worried expression on his face. She’s weak enough not to resist the urge to fall into him, her head finding the crook of his neck. “You okay?”

“No,” she whimpers. “Haven’t been getting enough sleep.” Having a report, an essay and a presentation due the one week on top of two committee meetings has absolutely wrecked her sleep schedule.

He presses his nose into the crown of her head, his arms shifting to press her closer to his chest, his biceps tensing to wrap tighter around her, one hand moving up to cradle her head, the other settling wide on her lower back. She wonders for a moment what they’d look like to someone from the outside, what they’d look like to someone who’s just caught a glimpse of this moment, if when they saw the way he holds her, they would wish that they were the one being held by him.

“I think you need a nap.”

The thought is tempting and she’s already curled her hands into the fabric of his shirt.

“I can’t.”

“Yes, you can.” 

She barely notices that he's led her over to where he was sitting, that he's sat down and he's tugged her down into his lap, that her head's already found the crook of his neck, a deep sigh leaving her as his arms secure her tighter. 

"Scott, you shouldn't need to…"

"I've got a lecture to catch up on." He lets go of her with one hand to put his earphones in. "Just sleep, T."

She shouldn’t, she knows. She should turn him down, because this is too much. But he’s looking down at her with the softest of smiles, and she’s barely able to resist the urge to trace the cupid’s bow of his lips with a trembling fingertip. "Okay. But wake me up in half an hour?" She must fall asleep the moment she'd finished her sentence, because she doesn't remember his answer. 

She won't remember what she dreams of, blurry images of vivid colour and the encompassing sense of being safe and warm and held, but she will remember waking up, slowly, incrementally, burying closer into his warmth while still half-asleep.

She'll remember thinking she could stay like this for as long as he'll let her. She'll remember his heartbeat, his hands, all the soft lines of him blurred by the edges of sleep. 

And perhaps, she’ll remember this:

Falling for him is like the moment you've just awoken, barely conscious and easy as a sigh, eyes that haven't opened and yet she's already reaching, reaching. 

He has a pen lid tucked between his teeth, hastily scribbling something down even as he’s still holding her with his left. She blinks her eyes awake, and he notices.

“Hey, T,” he smiles, and it’s a memory she’s already hidden in an aching corner of her heart. “Good sleep?”

She nods, attempts to smile, terrified that he’ll see what she’s just realised. “Yeah.” She ducks her head, unfolding herself and standing up, nearly stumbling in her haste and already feeling the loss of him. She tugs the sleeves over her hands, like by hiding them, she can stop them from wanting. Then she sees the familiar colour of blue, because, right, she put on Scott’s hoodie that morning without even thinking. 

She settles on the chair beside him, cracks open her cognitive psychology textbook, scans the words, pen poised on an empty page, pretending like she's not looking at him every time she reaches the end of a sentence.

"Hey, T?"

She snaps out of her reverie. "Yeah?"

"I'm gonna get going. I've got a class."

"I didn't make you late, did I?" 

He shakes his head, laughing. "No, I’ll make it there in time. I promise."

She watches him as he closes his textbook, drops his pencils into the bottom of his bag, his folded pieces of loose paper following after. 

"I'll see you next week?" He's already got one hand on the door, the door already half-open. 

A fragment of a lecture comes to her mind, her professor standing in the middle of the room, the projected slides detailing the cognitive process of how the brain puts images together. “Your eyes,” her professor had said, “can only actually process colour that comes into the central part of your retina. The colours in your periphery is your brain making its best guess and painting in the gaps. When you see blue out of the corner of your eye, you don’t really see blue. You see only your memory of it.”

When she loses Scott, in the way people tend to drift apart because of time passing, she wonders if she’ll remember him like a colour, temporary and finite and lovely. She wonders if one day, decades from now, she’ll be closing her eyes trying to paint him into a memory, because that's all that's left of him to hold onto.

She nods, attempts a smile. "I'll see you next week."

It’s just another day, when he looks over at her for what feels like the hundredth time, about to crack a joke or ask her a question or say something just to hear her voice and he doesn’t even remember what it is anymore. He looks over at her, leaning back on his chair, pencil tapping on the page in front of him, watches how she bites on her bottom lip because she’s probably trying to get the phrasing right on what she’s writing, and there’s strands of her hair escaping her bun and what he would give to be able to tenderly sweep them behind her ear.

It’s like a mathematical proof that he’s been stuck on for a long time, and out of the blue, he stumbles on the right way to complete it. He realises that he’s fallen for Tessa, and it’s like realising the most important thing he's been missing, like suddenly, quietly figuring out the answer.

“Scott.” Tessa’s tilting her head quizzically at him.

He focuses back on her. “Shit, T. Sorry.”

She rolls her eyes. “You were looking at me weirdly. Were you going to say something?”

He swallows. If he lifts his hands, he’s sure they’d be trembling. “No, nothing.”

(He considers himself a pretty easy going guy, but the worry that Tessa can tell what he feels for her gnaws at his gut. He wonders if the words I adore you are engraved on his palms, sewn into his being, tattooed in the way he smiles at her, because it seems so blindingly obvious.

In the end, he shouldn’t have worried.

It’s just another day, when he looks over at her where she’s leaning against him, likely about to doze off and it worries him how much she forgoes sleep. There’s a moment when her gaze drops from his eyes to his mouth and his breath catches in his throat. He doesn’t move, can’t move, doesn’t want to assume anything because he’s afraid of what he’ll wreck. When she leans up, soft like a sigh, captures his lips in hers, her fingers following gently to land on his jaw, he only hesitates for a moment, not really believing that she’s here with him.

His hesitation is enough for her to tense up, but he can’t have that, so he reaches up to cup her face, and when she relaxes, he tilts his head to deepen the kiss. Their noses knock because what first kiss is perfect, but it doesn’t matter, when she tastes like the coffee he buys her every week, the small gesture that should have told him weeks ago how much of him he’s already put in her hands. When he pulls away to catch his breath and press his forehead against hers, the giddy laugh she gives reaches his ears, and it’s not a perfect moment, in this secluded corner of a library where the A/C’s always acting up, but it’s theirs.)

When he opens the door of his room, he finds her curled up asleep on his bed, one of her arms outstretched above her head, the other hand beneath her cheek. Her hair fans out behind her, spread out on his pillows, her chest rising and falling gently. It’s easier for her to sneak into his room, because he lucked out with not having a roommate, and he’s beginning to find that the best part of his day is to find her here.

He shuts the door as softly as he can but Tessa still stirs. “Scott?”

“Yeah, it’s me. Go back to sleep, T.”

She shifts on her side, stretching an arm out towards him, and he drops his bag near his desk and toes off his shoes before settling in beside her. She leans up to kiss him, before pillowing her head on his chest. His hand settles on her lower back, rubbing back and forth.

“Hey, T?”

“Mmm?”

“Am I ever gonna get this hoodie back?” He smiles as she shakes her head, mumbles ‘no’ into the fabric of his shirt. He adores seeing her in it, a tangible thing that’s an embodiment of everything he’s given her, that’s marked him as completely hers. He’s never really had a favourite colour, but this shade of blue, against the pale softness of her skin and wrapped around her body as she’s pressed against him, so trusting even in her half-consciousness, might just become his new favourite.

He presses a kiss to the crown of her head, breathes her in, closes his eyes and lets Tessa’s breathing lull him to sleep.

 

She wakes up before him. The light is golden, weaving into his hair like something holy. It’s long enough to curl and he probably needs a haircut soon, but she kind of hopes he’ll leave it like it is a little while longer.

He shifts closer, face tipping against her shoulder, and she can feel his smile forming which means that he must be awake. He moves back slowly, his body still pressed against hers. She doesn’t resist the impulse to lift her hand, trace the side of his cheek and jaw, the bow of his lips, the slope of his nose. It’s still so new, what they’ve got between them, new enough to send a flutter through her heart every time he grins. But it’s already comforting, familiar, and perhaps that’s what she adores about it the most.

She likes that he’s just content to hold her as long as they want to, likes how careful he is with her, how much gentleness is in his palms. She likes it when he ducks down to kiss her, all his contrasts when he starts off soft, until she twists her hands in his hair and he opens her up to him, matching her rough, heated pace when she wants it.

She wants him, in all the ways he’ll let her, in all the ways she can be known by him.

She whimpers into his mouth when he rolls so she’s beneath him, his weight pinning her down. She gasps when he moves his mouth to the skin under her ear, along the sensitive skin of her neck. She widens her legs, aching, shifting against him to find relief. It's been so hard trying to find the time to just be with each other as the semester got busier and busier, but now that they've got time, she just wants to drown in him. 

She takes his hand that’s steady at her hip and cups it around her breast. His eyes flash open, always checking and she nods, skimming her teeth against his bottom lip, groaning into his mouth when he rubs his thumb against her nipple, even more when he slips it underneath the hoodie and she can feel his skin on hers, when his hands stroke and tease as he sucks sharply on her neck. She doesn’t know how thin the walls are but at the moment all that she can focus on is the way he’s making her feel.

His hand moves down her chest, a languid line that she feels everywhere. One of his fingers slips under the waistband of her panties, and it’s the fact that he makes no move to take it off her that makes her stupidly desperate.

His forehead is pressed against hers, and she lingers in the moment with him, all the anticipation curled deep in her belly, all the adoration taking up the space in her lungs.

“I want to touch you,” he whispers, soft and breathless. “Want to make you come for me,” he murmurs as she gets wetter at his words. "Will you let me?"

She moans out a broken ‘yes’, and he finally, finally , takes mercy on her, pressing his palm against her cunt. “Scott, ohhh ,” she shivers as he strokes her, too light to satisfy. She presses her hips upward, seeking relief.

“Tess, god,” he sounds wrecked when he buries his head in her neck, panting. She can hear how wet she is, obscene in the quiet room, and she shudders.

“Take it off, please,” she gasps as he circles her clit, and he complies, pulling it off her legs. He moves down her body, a litany of kisses on her lips, her jaw, her neck, until he settles between her thighs. She moans in anticipation, oh god yes, the hours she’s now spent studying his mouth. What she wouldn’t give to have it on her, becoming her undoing.

She starts to pull his hoodie off her body but he stops her with a gentle hand on her wrist.

“Can you…” he asks, hoarse, “can you keep it on?”

Fuck.

“Yes,” she nods, frantic, “ yes, ” slotting her fingers in between his, bringing his hand up to her mouth. She wonders if he’s thought about it, this exact scenario, the way she has. Wonders if he’s thought of her when it’s late at night, the way she has. When his eyes darken, when his tongue darts out to wet his bottom lip, she thinks she knows the answer. He squeezes her hip, pulling the soft fabric up to bare her stomach, placing a kiss on her skin there, sliding one hand under her ass. She pushes her hips forward, legs opening further. He’s deliberately slow, like he wants to learn every inch of her, her waist, her hips, her thighs. She threads her hand through his hair, loving how sun-warm it is. He’s intent when he puts his mind to something, and he’s intent on her now.

It feels like forever when he looks at her, pressing on her knee to keep her open, and she could revel in the scorching hunger in his gaze, shivers as he wets his lips with his tongue, just wanting him, all of him.

"You're so beautiful," he murmurs, and she feels those words on every inch of her skin, trembles in anticipation when he bends his head closer. 

His mouth kisses her like a beginning, spreading her open, his tongue dragging through her folds. She closes her eyes for a moment, but opens them again to watch him. She takes one finger easily, clenches around it, begs him for another and another, watches him fuck his fingers into her sopping pussy, watch him rut into his bed, the creaks of the mattress too loud. She doesn’t care, doesn’t care.

He moves her leg onto his shoulder, canting her closer to him, and she’s sure she’s dripping and making a mess of his mouth. A groan rumbles through his chest, his throat, his mouth and she twitches. She cups her breast, dragging her thumb across her aching nipple, and all she’s been reduced to is this want, this wanting of him.

“I’m so close,” she whimpers. 

“Want you to come,” he breathes, kissing her hip tenderly. “Want you to come for me.”

His fingers curl upwards, his movements insistent, demanding, sucking her clit, and she’s desperately close to the precipice. He holds her down with an arm on her waist, his hand pushing up the blue fabric, his fingers pressed into her skin.  

When she comes, her body tenses up, the world a dizzying blank canvas for several gasping breaths. When she opens her eyes, utterly sated and satisfied, she finds him with his cheek against where her hip meets her thigh, looking far, far too proud of himself.

She’s helpless to smile back, tracing the curve of his cheek with a shaky hand.

(She’s not about to leave him unfinished, not when he’s shattered her and put her back together the way he has. She wants his broken moan when she wraps her hand around him, when she sucks him into her mouth, on repeat, wants his rough murmurs about how good she is, his adorations, a permanent memory.

When he holds her after, still a little messy and sweaty, it’s like the gentlest denouement—pieces of each other falling softly into place.)

He knocks on the door of their shared study room, cup of coffee waiting in his hand. She’s stolen his hoodie again, nose buried in the collar. She looks up at him, accepts the cup of coffee with a smile, leans up to steal a kiss. 

(She thinks she loves him like the cups of coffees he’s bought her, the warmth spreading from her chest to the softened edges of her very being.

And she’ll realise, when he confesses the words first, that it’s the same way he loves her too.)