He watched her out of the corner of his eye. She'd been quiet all morning, something that he wasn't used to from her, and he wanted to ask her what was bothering her. He wondered if her mood was due to the fact that they would be heading home in the morning or if it had something to do with what had happened the day before. He'd frightened her, really frightened her, and while it hadn't been intentional, he still felt awful for it. They had crawled back into bed in the early morning light and she had curled herself into him and she hadn't let go. He'd woken up hours later to her lips on his, her weight distributed across his hips as she straddled him, and they'd hardly spent a moment outside of the bed all day. Not that he would complain about spending his day making love to her but it had been the lack of conversation between them that had let him know that something was wrong. They'd slept on and off, their limbs entwined, skin on skin, but when they weren't busy distracting one another, she had laid beside him with her head on his chest, staring at nothing in particular. He'd tried to start a conversation, asking her about where she wanted to look for a new apartment when they got home and if she wanted him to go with her. Her answers had all been short, nothing engaging, and he wondered if the frustration that he'd felt was similar to what she'd gone through when he hadn't been willing to open up to her.
Now as she sat beside him on the beach, the bright afternoon sun glinting off of her glossy hair, he felt a pang of anxiety in his chest. It was odd to see her that way, quiet and reflective. He was used to her vibrant chatter, to the random pop-culture references and the unintended sexual innuendos that often slipped past her lips. The woman with him now wasn't the woman that he was used to.
He turned to face her fully and took in her posture. She remained exactly where she'd been since they'd sat in the sand, her feet bare, her knees pulled to her chest. Her sunglasses were perched on the bridge her nose and her hair lay loose over her shoulders. She kept her face turned toward the water.
He reached for her hand, "Yeah?"
He watched her chest expand as she took a breath and then the words came quietly, the question almost a whisper.
"When we go home, would you… do you want to move in with me?"
The question hung in the air between them. If he was being honest, he'd considered it more than once in the time since they'd returned from Lian Yu. It made sense, looking for one place rather than two because he knew without a doubt that he'd end up spending most of his time with her even if he did end up with his own apartment. It had only been a few months since their relationship had changed, since their friendship had morphed into a desperate love that he couldn't control, but he felt no sense of fear at the prospect of taking this step with her. He wanted to be with her, he needed her at his side as much as humanly possible, and even though he knew that what he felt wasn't necessarily healthy, he couldn't fight it. He didn't know if they were ready, if they had come far enough in their relationship where co-habitation should really be on the table but he was certain that he wouldn't say no to what she was asking.
"Is that why you've been so quiet all of a sudden?" he asked, "Because you've been thinking about us living together? You were trying to decide if I'd agree or not."
She shrugged, "I didn't realize that I was being that quiet. I mean, I know I talk a lot but there are times when I don't have anything to say, Oliver. But yes, I guess that's why. I've been thinking about it for a while, wondering if it's too soon, if I'm crazy for even thinking that we're ready for this. But I realized that it doesn't matter if it's too soon. I want us to live together. I hate being away from you for any period of time. I love falling asleep with you and waking up with you and I just…"
He scooted closer to her, tugging her into his lap.
"I just hate the idea of you being alone. Your nightmares are obviously still pretty bad and the idea of you going out running to burn off the images that they leave behind and then coming home to an empty house, an empty bed, it makes my heart hurt just thinking about it," she confessed, tucking herself closer to him.
He gripped her jean-clad thigh with one hand while the other snaked around her back and clasped her hip. His thumb rubbed small circles on the patch of skin just above her waistband.
"It would be nice to know that I have you waiting for me," he confirmed, "To know that you're lying in our bed, preferably wearing next to nothing, when I come home. When I was living in the mansion with Thea and my mom and I couldn't sleep, I'd go out and run laps around the grounds. Sometimes I'd get on my bike and ride into the city. After we met, I found myself driving by your apartment a lot more than what would've been considered normal."
She pulled away and looked up at him incredulously. He grinned.
"It couldn't be helped. You intrigued me. I don't know that I've ever told you, but you were the first person to make me smile. Really smile."
Her cheeks flushed but she remained quiet.
"The first day that I met you, I fed you that bogus story about the laptop and you looked at me with your head cocked to the side like I was the biggest idiot in the world for thinking that you bought it," he reminded her, "And you'd said the most inappropriate thing about my dad but rather than finding it offensive, it was a relief to find someone who wasn't treating me like I was going to explode at any moment. Up to that point, everyone had been so careful to avoid talking about what had happened to him – to me – and it was starting to wear on me. I was tired of everyone tiptoeing around it. But you, you just threw decorum out the window and made a comment about my dead father."
She groaned and hid her face in the crook of his neck. He laughed.
"It's not funny!" she grumbled, "I still can't believe that I said that!"
He shook his head, "It really was kind of refreshing. You just had this honesty that you couldn't control and I hadn't smiled like that in a long time."
She lifted her head and blew the loose strands of hair from her face. Her eyes remained hidden behind her sunglasses.
"I was shocked when you walked through my door," she admitted, "And not just because you'd just come back from the dead but because you were absolutely gorgeous. Hot guys don't generally wander into the IT department looking for me so it was a little… unsettling."
He smirked, "Did you just call me hot and gorgeous in the same sentence?"
She swatted at his chest, "Seriously? Your ego isn't big enough already?"
He moved before she realized what was happening, rolling them so that she was trapped on her back, his weight balanced above her. He was careful not to crush her. He captured her lips in a quick kiss, glad to see the color in her cheeks and hear the smile in her voice again.
"We should look for a house," he suggested, "Preferably with a big yard."
She blinked up at him owlishly, her blue eyes confused behind her glasses at the sudden change of topic.
"A house?" she asked a little breathlessly.
He nodded, "Because if we're moving in together, I have one request."
Her confusion only seemed to grow and he was curious as to where her train of thought was headed. He was certain that she'd had the same brief thought that he'd had.
He played with her hair, his eyes locked on the strands as they twisted around his fingers. He had one answer on the tip of his tongue, one that he knew neither of them was ready for, and he kept it to himself. He knew that someday they would get to a place where their lives would settle down, where they could settle down together, but that day was not today. There were still so many things that they would go through, so many experiences that they had yet to share. They had time.
He gazed at her, taking in her glossed lips and sun-kissed cheeks. He found her mouth with his, kissing her gently before breathing his answer against her lips.
"A dog. We should get a dog."
She laughed, rolling her eyes at him.
"You're not going to let the dog thing go, are you? What if I told you I was allergic?"
He shrugged, "You're not. You're allergic to nuts but nothing else. We've had this conversation, remember?"
"Fine," she conceded, "But we have to wait at least six weeks. We move in, get unpacked, settle, and then we can talk about a dog. Deal?"
Her arms slipped around his waist and she tugged until he was lying on top of her, his weight pressing her into the sand. He rested his forehead against hers.
"I don't want to go home tomorrow," she told him, "It's just so… calm here."
He sighed, "I know."
"But I do sort of miss John… and maybe Roy, too."
He laughed, "Roy? You miss that kid? Is there something you want to tell me?"
She shrugged, grinning, but she didn't answer him. He reached for her sides, digging his fingers in until a peal of laughter erupted from her and she began squirming to get away. He laughed with her, keeping her trapped, and then kissing her until the need for air forced him to break away.
"I can honestly say, this has been the best vacation I think I've ever had," he told her honestly, the happiness inside of him unlike anything he'd felt before.
"I couldn't agree more. Thank you, Oliver, for this. I love you."
His mouth fell to hers, softly, gently, and when he lifted his head again, he knew that she understood what he hadn't said. He didn't need to say it. She already knew.
A/N: Thanks again for sticking with both this fic and Not Another Mistake. I've had a lot of fun letting our happy couple be happy Who knows, if I feel inspired, there could be a few random one-shots that appear in this universe!