The feeling of human contact and intimacy was intoxicating, and Pearce wondered how he’d gone so long without it – it was all-consuming, of the brand that seemed to twin around his bones and muscles and force him into action. The fact that Col was reciprocating gave Pearce an idea that she was perhaps just as lonely or desperate as he was, and while he was too much of a gentleman to ask, he would assume that she hadn’t had any male callers in the two years that she’d been out here. Pearce wasn’t sure, but the thought of being the first one to touch Col in that amount of time was thrilling and something possessive reared up inside of him as she gave herself over to him. Pearce felt chosen by her – as though he’d hand picked for a special task, and he vowed to not let it go to waste. Standing in between Col’s thighs with his own lust pumping through his veins, he could see Col’s own begin to colour her movements as her hips ground and circled against his own. Pearce could feel his length hardening behind his pants, and he knew that even though he had suggested waiting, it would be almost impossible and unbearably painful to do so.
Thankfully, Col’s mind thought quicker than his did, and instead of an answer in the verbal form, she simply pulled her shirt over her head, and Pearce was awarded with a view of her pale skin littered with tattoos and her breasts sheathed in a black bra. His hands longed to explore – to map out her skin and press his own marks there, but Col had other ideas, and her mouth found his neck and then his collarbone, and Pearce was lost. “Oh fuck,” he moaned out in a gasp as Col’s hands found his cock behind the denim of his jeans, stroking him through the material. Her palms were hot and firm, and Pearce was sure that her intentions were more than a little clear. He could feel his body almost vibrate with need and want and lust, and he needed to find a release soon. As Col’s fingers continued to stroke his length through his pants and drive him insane, Pearce quickly yanked his own t-shirt over his head and brought his lips back to her own, hungrily searching for a distraction and a release.
But it wasn’t enough, and her hand on his cock was insistent, so Pearce let his mouth travel down her neck, kissing his way down the soft skin that smelt vaguely like sandalwood and vanilla. As his cock twitched in his pants from the heat of her palm, his teeth nipped her skin and sucked at the mark he left, finally marking her in a way that he’d wanted to from the moment he’d seen her. His hands felt cumbersome and useless until he began exploring her skin – moving across the tattoos on her hips and stomach and upward, wandering across the curves and swells of her breasts. Pearce’s ministrations to her neck brought him down to her collarbone and to the hollow at the base of her throat, causing her head to tip back as he kissed the skin lightly while his free hand fell to the button of her jeans and popped it open. He needed thins to work much faster than they currently were – his length was throbbing almost painfully at being restricted in his jeans, and the sight of Col’s body slowly being revealed to him was almost akin to torture.
“Fuck, Col, you need to get out of those fucking pants,” he mumbled, pushing her backward until she was lying on the table and he began yanking her jeans off hurriedly until they were pooled on the ground. Pearce was on the verge of climbing on top of Col on the table, but he wasn’t sure if the wooden structure would hold him – he was around 6’3, and he wasn’t exactly like. Eyes flickering over to the fireplace, Pearce smiled as he grabbed Col and lifted her against his chest until her legs automatically wrapped around his hips and he carried them over toward the fire. The warmth of the flames instantly flared against his skin, and Pearce felt the goosebumps disappear – with the heat came courage. Pearce laid Col on the rug beside the fire before kicking his own pants off, laughing as one of his feet got tangled in the leg in his rush to get them off, and he went tumbling to the ground in a heap of limbs. But he recovered quickly, pulling them off and crawling over to where Col was smirking beside the fire. “Funny, huh?” he murmured, lips ghosting across hers and down the length of her neck, lightly pressing against the skin there. “Not sure you’ll be laughing soon,” he said as his hands smoothed along the inside of her thigh and brushed against the material of her panties, eager to dip beneath and find her skin and explore further.
Col didn’t know what she was doing or what was driving her actions forward, all of them trying to race towards the end where they would both be sated in each other’s arms, but all thought became a hazy afterthought as Pearce’s claimed her lips as his own. Everywhere he touched left a lingering trail that would lead to the next place along her body that yearned for him, her breath hitching high in her throat as she hoped that the next shiver that he caused wouldn’t be the last. Col craved him, after such a short amount of time she couldn’t imagine living without the feeling of him, and it was a jarring reality as her kiss turned hungry and desperate; if she was only going to have him for one night she was going to make sure it would be memorable.
With her palm smoothing along the line of his cock beneath his jeans Col moaned through the kiss, the feeling of him twitching and begging for her hand making her own body edge forward off the table towards him as she continued to stroke him. The sounds that were leaving his chest were intoxicating, the kind that was bred from need and thrust forth in to the air by necessity, and Col thought she could live in the sound of his pleasure forever. Her tongue jutted out quickly to run and flirt against his, the taste of his mouth lingering with her own making her shiver sweetly as her lips crashed against his almost violently. Her free hand was still tangled in his hair, the pads of her fingers kneading along his scalp as she drank in the feeling of him fiercely as she pulled away finally for air.
Locking eyes with him as he spoke a fresh jolt of pleasure ripped through her body, her limbs near shaking on the table as she felt her panties cling to her damp sex while he laid her down flat on the table to rip off her jeans. Shifting and lifting her hips to aid him she tore them down with a force, the cool air brushing along her wet and throbbing core making her wince through her teeth as her hips started to grind against the air helplessly. Just as she was about to let her eyes flutter to a close against the pleasure that had become her blood Pearce leaned down to pick her up, her eyes bursting open as she clung to him, and Col’s hips pressed against him as he walked them toward the fireplace.
Lying down on the rug now she looked up at him with desperate eyes, her gaze drinking in the sight of him as she leaned forward to unclasp her bra and throw it across the room quickly. When she caught the sight of him stutter and stumble along his pants Col tilted her face against the rug with a laugh, her body shaking against the trembles of her stomach as she genuinely smiled for the first time in a very long time. The sight of him crawling towards her like he was some sort of predator that lusted for her body Col let out a small whimper, her neck craning to grant him access as his lips coursed along the bare skin there. With her pulse beating soundly against his mouth she gasped at his words, her hips arching as she felt his fingers push aside her panties before his fingers ran along her moist slit. “It was-, a little funny,” she said with a half laugh and half moan, both noises giving way to a gasp as his thumb ran circles along her clit. “Pearce-,” she choked out, her eyes quirking shut as her body nearly left the floor. “I need this-, you. Please?” she said in a whimper as she started to shift her hips under his.
Unlike most men, talking about the future did not scare Pearce. He wasn’t frightened of spending the rest of his life with Col – in fact, he welcomed it, because without her he wasn’t sure what he would be. The life that he lived before Preston was a haze of dark days, sour events and morbid thoughts that amounted to nothing; he didn’t feel that they defined him properly, not like Col did. It was in her eyes and in her presence that Pearce found who he was supposed to be – he was supposed to be a man who could achieve and love and, hell, even laugh on occasion. Col was the key to unlocking this future.
The confirmation that New York was still on the table and in their future made Pearce grin around a mouthful of chicken nuggets and he almost choked when Col predicted his objection to her throwing an item off the Empire State Building. The way that they could anticipate and read one another was a testament to just how far they’d come in the last few months – everything about them was not perfect; they were far from being completely perfect human beings, and Pearce knew that he alone would make several mistakes in the future. But he also knew that Col had a great capacity for forgiveness and kindness; he wasn’t afraid of screwing up, not when he was with her. As the conversation moved to settling down, Pearce frowned at her response – the fact that their ideas about the future were slightly different didn’t worry him, but he wondered if Col would ever be able to settle down. Did she have it in her to stay in one place and make a home? Did she even want that?
Pearce was not about to bring up the issue of marriage or family – that was so far down the line that even he couldn’t see it – but he worried that when their travelling came to an end, she’d want to start over while he longed to settle. “I agree,” he said, nodding as she shoved more fries in her mouth. “There is a lot we’ve yet to see and experience, and I think that’s just compounded by the fact that we’ve been so physically stagnant for so long.” Pearce, who had spent a year living out of his bedroom before arriving at Preston, felt particularly deprived of the world, and the thought of making up for lost time appealed to him greatly. “Although I’m not going to lie,” he said, chewing another nugget happily. “I am looking forward to a time when we do settle. I guess it’s always been a stupid dream of mine to actually have my own place.”
He shrugged it away and dived back into the paper bag, searching not only for more nuggets but a different thread of conversation. Talking about families, homes, children and jobs was far too adult, and while Pearce acknowledged that he was now part of that club, he hoped to deny it for a little bit longer, because the moment he accepted the fact that he had to be grown up, he would need to act it. No more lazy days, no more sleepless nights – it would be work and expectations and pressure, and that thought scared him the most. It would be a road that led him back to depression, and that wasn’t one he wanted to traverse any time soon. But he was saved when Col agreed that visiting their families should be worked into their plans, and he grinned at her almost scared face.
“Don’t worry, I think I can handle your family,” he said with a bit more confidence than he actually felt. “I mean, I’m positive Meredith will be a grade A bitch, but I think from what you’ve told me that the rest of your family seem pretty… normal.” Pearce felt both excited and apprehensive about meeting the Collins family. He knew that her father and brother loved Col very much; she would be as dear to them as she was to him, and from their perspective, he was probably unworthy of her love. But there was something in that challenge that made Pearce want to prove to them that he could be worthy; that he deserved to have Col to himself. “As for my family,” he continued, “let’s just say it’ll be a frosty reception, but not because of you. I think a quick visit would be in order, and then we’ll go. Don’t expect banners and flowers.”
The thought of his own family seeing him with Col made him happy – he longed to show them that their abandonment and apathy toward him were nothing in the long run. He wanted to show them that he was capable of love and of being loved; he wanted to show them that he didn’t need them anymore. “A journalist? That doesn’t seem silly at all,” he said when she began talking about jobs. “I think you’d be excellent at it, especially once your impulses die down and you can read things for longer periods of time.” The possibilities of his own job prospects made him smile, and he grabbed another nugget. “I’m still thinking about firefighting, though I’d need to settle somewhere to train. I think I’d like the action of the job, you know? I think what I need after Preston is something to channel my thoughts into, and firefighting is as good as anything, right?” He smiled at Col, waiting to hear if she approved – after all, it was her opinion that he valued above all others.
Col could sense his hesitation as she professed her objections to settling as she let out a small sigh in response. She knew that Pearce saw a future with them together, and so did she, but Col had missed out on so much in life and all she wanted to do was experience it all; preferably with him. Everything seemed muted without him, like a life filled with painting without colour and music that was more white noise than melody. Pearce had become the head to her heart and without both Col could never have the life she wanted. She had wondered once, for a very brief moment in time when she thought solitude would be her greatest life work, if being so attached to him was doing them both more harm than good. In the end, where they were both free of Preston and their disorders were more quirks than abscesses of life, Col knew she would go anywhere with Pearce and be happy. They could have settled in a horribly sleepy town in the middle of nowhere America for the rest of their lives, but as long as she got to wake up next to him it would be the most perfect place in the world.
“It’d be nice to have our own place,” she said cheerily as she looked back up at him with a smile. “Somewhere that you could call home. No matter how much traveling and seeing the world sounds amazing-, I kind of wish that we both had a home. Although, I’m being to think that home doesn’t need to be a place anymore so much as it could be a person,” Col said with a long look at Pearce, one that made her heart nearly still in her chest. After all this time, after months of happiness, passion and turmoil he could almost make breathing seem like the most impossible thing in the world and the processes of her heart start to beat in time with his. It had scared Col at first, the self-professed hardass had been afraid to let anyone get close enough to hurt her but with Pearce he had but it didn’t matter anymore. She had never asked for perfection because that meant ignorance. It meant constantly pushing things aside in the hopes that joy was buried somewhere underneath the wreckage to salvage; Col wanted something real.
She wanted to hurt, she wanted to cry and after all of that she wanted Pearce to make her whole again. They had done the very same thing countless times and still they managed to be where they were now, in a busy fast food chain contemplating their future together with a certainty that made her smile. “Meredith-, yeah. I’m never going to get over hating her but you mean everything to me and for that I think you should meet them,” she said with a small shrug as the thought of going back to her childhood home made her wince. Col had every inclination that her father would be supportive, one look at the way she looked at Pearce was a dead giveaway that she was meant to be his and he had always been the perceptive parent. Tyler would react as any brother would and Col had every confidence that he could go toe to toe with her brother and have the two end up becoming friends.
“I’m not the most qualified in the girlfriend department but they don’t matter,” she said with certainty as she got up from her side of the booth to sit next to him. Grabbing his hand she smoothed her thumb along the inside of his wrist, her gaze lost in his eyes as she smiled at him brightly. “You will be a firefighter. I’ll be a journalist. We’ll live in a house that is just filled with organized chaos but we’ll know exactly where everything is,” she started to say as her other hand moved to run along his jaw, he’s eyes perfectly reflecting the joy that hers held. “You’ll want to eat nothing but nuggets and I’ll learn to cook just so you don’t have to. We’ll get swamped with work and we won’t sleep and we’ll argue. Oh, we will argue,” Col said with a laugh as her eyes started to shine against the feeling that choked her words.
“But at the end, when we are done our jobs, the house is clean and we’re both so mad that we just want to give up we’ll breathe,” she said in an almost whisper as her forehead moved to lean against his own. “We’ll breathe. I’ll tell you that I love you and you’ll say it back and we’ll know that no matter what happens….that place, that horribly messy and cluttered space, is where we were meant to be,” Col said as she leaned back up to kiss him on the lips, lingering for a moment to seal her prophecy before moving to look at him again. “I’ll always love you, babe.”
People often asked Pearce why he liked chicken nuggets, as though it were a sign that he was not as mentally stable as he first appeared. His love for the food traced back a fair way to a time when he couldn’t be bothered to move very far from his bed, let alone cook food for himself while his parents were at work. Nuggets became an easy option – shove them on a tray and into the oven – and over the course of a year, Pearce found that they were the one thing he could depend on, so long as his mother remembered to keep them in stock. Keeping this tradition close to his heart, Pearce had carried this love for the simple, yet tasty, meal into Preston, only to find that he wasn’t the only one.
Finding a fast food joint that cooked nuggets for him was a dream come true, and Pearce found that they tasted even better. Walking into the store with Col was like heaven, and when she ordered “all the McNuggets you have on stock”, Pearce almost felt his knees buckle under the weight of his love and admiration for the girl standing beside him. She somehow always knew his wants and needs, right down to the amount of food he wanted – starving was an understatement, and he watched and waited with eager eyes, making sure that the McDonalds employees grabbed every last packet of nuggets and shoved them into the paper bag. The press of Col’s lips to his cheek made him grin at her, ducking his head in embarrassment at his over-eagerness for the round, crumbled fried pieces of heaven.
After paying, Col grabbed their tray and led them over to a table before digging in. He watched as she went through a strange ritual of combining sauces and dipping her fries in, and he simply raised his eyebrows before tearing open the bag full of nuggets and thrusting his hand in, grabbing a few and pulling them out. His mouth watered, and he ate one whole, chewing it with eyes shut for a moment before sighing happily – the events of that day could not get any better in his opinion, and the fact that Col had been there to accompany him throughout the entire thing just made it that much better. There was silence for a moment as Col stirred her fries in the sauce before eating them, and Pearce watched her with one eye while the other examined the chicken nuggets and contemplating their perfection.
Col’s question about leaving Preston, and California as a whole, took him by surprise for a moment, and he looked at her, his brow furrowed in concentration as she spoke. “Of course we’ll get out,” he said with a lot more positivity than he usually felt in a month. “Preston is just a layover. We’re going to get out and travel. New York is a must,” he continued with a smile. “And anywhere else you want to go, I’m cool with. We’ll go everywhere before we find somewhere nice to settle.” He ate another chicken nugget before adding, “If you ever want to settle, that is.”
The future with Col was a topic that Pearce had thought about before, but not something that he had genuinely thought about in realistic terms. After his accidental overdose – which he stoutly refused to think of as a suicide attempt – life had been thrown into focus. He had come close to losing Col forever, which was worse than losing her in just a physical sense like he had attempted to do a few weeks ago. Nothing was easy when it came to making decisions; his mind set itself up for failure, and when things came to Col, he was a mess of emotions. The happiness at being with her, the need to trust and love and believe – they warred inside with the darkness that attempted to swallow him whole, and Pearce sometimes thought he’d crumble under the pressure of the fight.
But when he was in simple moments with her, like sitting in a McDonalds restaurant eating nuggets and contemplating the future, he knew that love would always win; it possessed his body in a way that the depression never could quite totally manage. Even in his darkest hours, Pearce still retained a shred of logic or sanity – a nagging voice in the back of his head that told him what was happening was not right. But when it came to love, Pearce was all in: he dived headfirst, regardless of the depth, and knew that somehow Col would be right beside him.
“We should see our respective families,” mused Pearce as he picked up another nugget and bit in half. “Even if it is just a kind of hello-goodbye situation. And I want my books from my room, assuming they weren’t burnt in my absence.” His library would be cumbersome, but worth the effort if he ever got his own apartment. “But the future is wide open,” he said, grinning at Col as she shovelled more fries into her mouth. “Do you have any idea what you want to do, other than just… travel? Job wise? Or… living wise?” He looked at her through his lashes, wondering if Col would really be okay with spending the future with him – he knew he wasn’t exactly the easiest person to live with, but he was already all in. Nothing would sway him from the decision that Col was where his future laid.
Col watched Pearce dive into the bag of nuggets as if they had hit pay dirt in El Dorado and gold was now found in the form of greasy, deep-fried, questionably modified, but still tasty chicken. It was a living example that bliss could be found in the little things although clogged arteries in the future would have begged to differ; far be it for Col to bring up this fact when Pearce was having one of the best days on record. Smiling at him brightly for a moment she turned her attention down to her ritual on sauces that accompanied every McDonalds meal, probably one of the only things that Col did was considered a pattern besides raging over issues in Marvel continuity; she had tried to engage Pearce in an argument concerning this but without the proper context it was like him explaining imagery in Poe.
It was a stark change, hearing him be so hopeful and excited for the future and it made Col think that there was some merit in wishing after all. Most of her entire life, and most definitely the time spent in Preston, had been nothing but the constant affirmation that there was no other life besides the one she had been living; it left Col has a rather bitter citizen. Meeting Pearce, learning lessons in selflessness and finally accepting the concept of love all played a part in the Col of today. This Col wasn’t as angry with the world as the one that set the fire almost a year and a half ago. This Col wasn’t afraid of connection in the worry of pain or loss because she realized that everything worth it was going to hurt a little bit; when it came to Pearce she had spent with nothing but and she was finally ready to move on from it.
“We are. We will get out. Together,” she said with an enthusiastic nod as she popped another fry into her mouth. Nothing in the future seemed as bleak or uncertain if it included him because Pearce could constantly be her direction; that something that kept her grounded while all the same pushing her forward. He had done what Col had considered to be the impossible and for that, it was the basis of their love. It didn’t stem from clinging to life rafts because of their disorders or their almost undeniable sexual chemistry –which was a perk that Col silently thanked God for daily- but it was that they saved each other. It was shown time and time again. From the lake to the campfire, from the bad dreams and the horrors that followed, from the overdose to the thought out suicide; they had been together for all of it and nothing was ever going to change that fact.
“New York is still a must obvious. I need to throw something off the Empire State Building and-,” she said quickly with her hand in the air to stop his eventual protests. “I will make sure it is soft and not at all damaging at high velocities,” Col finished with a triumphant smile as she swirled her fries in the mixtures before eating a greedy handful all at once. “I don’t know if I would want to settle,” she said truthfully as she cleared her throat roughly. “I mean-, that’s all we’ve been doing is staying in one place so I want to do the exact opposite for a while,” Col said with a shrug. She had spent far too much time in the care of Preston, a year’s worth of moments wasted away simply because she had a sickness that could never go away and she wanted so much more in life. Above all else she wanted to experience all of these things with Pearce by her side. “After we get bored or broke, whichever comes first, then yeah-, but right now? There is far too much for us to see, babe,” Col finished with a reassuring smile, reiterating that anything she planned in the future involved him as well.
At the thought of meeting each other’s families Col was hit with a sense of disturbia that she knew she would always carry, not only because he was meeting her family –a clan notorious for free speech and zero regard for the emotions of others- but because she would also meet his. Col knew she wasn’t cashing any cheques in ‘the girl next door’ department and she vaguely wondered if his family would have wanted better for him. “I guess we should,” she said meekly as she stared down at her fries for a moment before throwing another in her mouth. “I’m sure my dad will like you actually and Tyler already knows about you. Just avoid Meredith and don’t listen to anything she says and you’ll just-, fine,” Col managed to choke out as the thought of meeting his family loomed over her. “Is the rest of your family as….understanding as your brother?” she inquired slowly, the thought of her past tainting her future with Pearce making her stomach tie in knots.
“I always thought I was good at reading people, you know? Getting them to tell me things they didn’t want to or…secrets basically. I don’t know? A journalist? Seems silly but it’s something, right?” Col said with a small laugh as the thought of her ever achieving such a future caused her to smile bitterly. “What about you, babe?” she said quickly hoping to shift the conversation away from her and her ridiculous aspirations.
I’ll try to keep that in mind. It feels like it’s been healing over the last two weeks, though… I just need to keep working at it with you. Well I didn’t take you with me ‘cause I wanted it to be a surprise. You like surprises, and even though I’m not a fan, I wanted you to have a nice surprise in the form of my first tattoo. Now, don’t be mad, but… I got the words ‘found in love’ tattooed on my side. In cursive. It’s… I just took the bandage off. Are you mad? I hope not, ‘cause it hurt a lot more than I was expecting and.. I did it because I wanted something that was.. you know, something about us and you and me and that kind of.. uh- represented this next chapter of us. Does that make sense?
Work is good but it won’t be work for much longer. It’ll get easy and it’ll just be-, easy to be and do what we want to. Oh!-, no that’s fine….definitely a surprise even if I kind of wanted to be there for your first tatto-, What? Found in love? Like…mine? You did that…for me? No, I’m not mad. Not mad. Just-, wow. That makes perfect sense, babe. I-, do you like it? I don’t even know what I’m saying. I love you.
It might be in the past but… it’s still around. I don’t know, but I do believe you, I just… I haven’t quite forgiven myself, but that’s something for me to work on. Can I do things because I want to do them as well as simultaneously making you happy? Well.. about my non-existent tattoos.. my parents might be in for a bit of a shock considering I uh- well, I now have a grand total of one to my name. I just- I couldn’t tell you yesterday during the great Apocalypse of Preston ‘12. You’ll never be in love alone - it’s a two-for-one deal.
Just don’t let the memory of the deed ruin things as much as the deed did. Babe, I’m not asking you to push it just know that I don’t hold anything against you, okay? Wait-, one? Why didn’t you take me with you? Where did you get it? What did you get? Did it hurt? Why didn’t you take me with you?
Nothing recently. I just- I feel like that is going to haunt me until the day I die, and I know I deserve it, I just… I wish it didn’t have to be like that. I don’t blame you in the slightest though - it just makes me eager to prove to you that we’re never going back to that space. My mother and father counting your tattoos… that would be interesting. Maybe they’ll demand to count mine too. And I do believe it, now more than ever.
Babe, you know it’ll be in the past right? It’s fine. Really. I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t and what you deserve is to be happy. Well, don’t go out of your way to do it. Do things ‘cause you want to not because you feel like you owe me. More than interesting considering the placement but its not like they can counts your non-existent ones. Good ‘cause I would hate to be in love alone.
You might have backed the wrong horse there, baby. I’ve never been much good at anything, let alone a winner. I’d hate to disappoint you again. You might be right about my parents though - the sight of you and how beautiful you are might kill them straight out. I’m sure they don’t care about what I do with my life either way, though. But I’m happy with you if you’re happy with me. That’s all I need, parents and travelling and money aside. Just you.
I don’t think so at all. Nothing recently has lead me to believe that anyways. You’re just a tad bit stubborn sometimes but that would be the same as me. Oh, please. Compliments? I’ll where long sleeves, or I can let them try and count all my tattoos. That might be a fun bonding moment for us all. You’re all I’ve ever needed and I worked at trying to get you to believe it. Now I think we are reaching the home stretch, babe.