"You ready?" Tony whispers as the sun begins to brighten the sky to a pale grey.
I nod and reluctantly stand up. My joints feel stiff from sitting so long, but I can't complain, it was really peaceful to sit there and just silently soak in the environment without feeling awkward. I yawn as I stretch my muscles, I haven't felt the least bit tired the entire time we've been in the woods, but now I can already feel the effects of a sleepless night.
It takes is almost an hour to find our way through the woods and the village and back to the hostel. I spend the time thinking on what he said by the tree, about how he didn't know how to be the one to deserve me. Mostly I just don't understand what makes him think he doesn't already.
When we enter the room I barely have time to unzip my coat before Tony is pulling me down to the bed. He puts his arm around me and rests his head on my chest.
"If we're lucky, we can still manage a few hours sleep before that fucking bell." He mumbles into my sweater.
I kick my boots off and slide the rest of the way into bed and my eyes flutter closed. The bell rings.
"Well, fuck." He sighs.
He pushes against my chest to sit up and groans, rubbing his hands over his face. He gets out of bed and rummages through his suitcase for a new outfit. He strips and begins to redress, and as he does I begin to realize why Michelle is so desperate to keep him. Watching him like this every morning must be glorious, it's just Tony on his own. Not thinking about his next move or trying to manipulate people, just getting ready for the day.
Maybe it's just me being tired, but I feel like I am watching a movie in slow motion. I am able to zoom in and notice all the small things that make him the perfection that he is. The beauty marks here and there across his pale skin, the way he bites his lip when he's making a decision and the obsessive way he plays with his bangs until they sit just so. I could fall in love with this Tony. I guess I have been since Monday, I just didn't notice. Maybe this has been his plot the whole time.
"Are you going to get ready too or just continue to be a pervert?" he smiles, breaking me from my musings.
I quickly throw on the first outfit I find that matches and we leave to join the other students in the dining hall.
More slop, better yet, the last slop that I will ever have… hopefully. Tom stands on his bench and clears his throat for attention.
"This week we have learned history and we have made history," he exclaims. "We've been brought closer together by our experiences both planned and unplanned."
He stops there for… laughter? Applause? In any case, nobody bites and he continues.
"Here's to a fantastic trip!" He raises his glass of orange juice to silence.
Someone near the back of the room laughs, I think it's Kenneth by the sound of it, and Tom steps dejectedly from the bench.
"Harsh." Tony says, finishing his last bit of slop. We drop our dishes in the washbasin and return to our room to pack.
When we arrive at our room it seems only I've returned to pack since Tony has apparently been keeping his suitcase nicely sorted the entire time. He simply shuts the case and zips it closed before flopping on the bed and closing his eyes.
I on the other hand have my clothes strewn about the room. It's not something I would normally do, but I just stopped caring where I put my clothes when I took them off once Tony decided we'd be cuddling every night. While collecting my clothes, mostly from the unused bed, I find one of Tony's sweaters mixed in with mine and I seriously consider stealing it. It'd be like a token to remember this week by, and maybe to help remember this nice Tony and the smell of him.
Knowing Tony though, he'd notice it was gone as soon as we got back, probably ask me if it got mixed in with my bag.
"Tone," I call hesitantly. He opens one eye and turns his head to see me. "Can I have this?"
I raise the sweater to show him what I am talking about. He laughs and closes his eyes again.
"Yeah, Michelle will love seeing you walk around college in my favourite sweater."
"I'll only wear it in private I promise."
He opens both eyes and turns to face me once more.
"You want my sweater so you can wank in it?" he asks appalled.
I flush instantly, it wasn't what I had planned, but likely would have happened eventually and it wouldn't even be the first time Tony has factored into my wanking either.
"I just meant like… 'round the house." I stammer.
"Sure," he says, disbelieving. "Keep it, it's yours."
I smile and tuck it away in my bag before he changes his mind.
Once my bag is packed and set by the door next to Tony's, I crawl in bed behind him. He rolls over instantaneously and throws his arm around my middle, pulling me closer to him. We get about an hour of sleep in before Tom and Angie begin knocking on doors, readying us for departure.
We all pack into the farmer's flatbed one last time, a little tighter than the last with all of us holding onto our bags, but everyone seems happy enough. Tony, Sid and I sit in our huddle closest to the cabin window.
"What did you guys get up to after you left, last night?" Sid asks.
Tony just shrugs.
"Bunch of us tried to leave once you did, but only 'Chelle and Jal made it before Valentina locked us all in. She made us listen to her sing Neil Diamond all night." He shudders.
"Could've been worse," I inform him. " Tony almost got us killed by the Russian mafia."
Tony looks at me grinning. "Fun wasn't it?"
"Bloody hell," he complains. "I knew I'd miss out on something when I switched rooms."
"Sorry," I say with a shrug.
It isn't long before we've arrived at the airport. We make our way through security, much easier than at Heathrow, and board the plane. As we wait for the plane to take off, I begin to feel my lack of sleep catching up with me. It's over and hour before the plane finally takes off and by then I can barely keep my eyes open. I turn to Tony,
"Will you be bored if I sleep?" I ask.
He holds up his book in reply, I get comfortable in my chair and rest my head on his arm.
"There are pillows, you know." He states quietly.
"You'll do." I reply, not having even opened my eyes.
I drift off.
I wake to Tony shaking my shoulder. I look up to see everyone pulling their carry-ons from the overhead compartments and taking the stairs down to the tarmac. Tony doesn't stand until the last two people are stepping outside. He walks most of the way down the aisle then stops abruptly and I am forced to a halt behind him. He turns to face me, staring, thinking about something.
"Kiss me." He demands with a smile. "Before we officially touch English soil."
While I've thought about it many times before, the way he asks for it makes me anxious and the flight attendant watching us curiously from the door is making me uncomfortable. I laugh nervously.
"What? No, why should I?"
"I don't know how you expect me to keep being so nice, when no good ever comes of it," he explains.
A million thoughts are running through my head and I just want them to stop so I can think properly. This is probably some long con he's been doing to get something out of me, but he seemed so honest in the woods last night and I just wish that attendant would stop staring at us! This is the best I could hope for isn't it? One last kiss, a real one this time, before we pretend nothing happened, start fresh. He has been really nice to me all week, doesn't he deserve it? No time to decide, he's already leaning in.
"Something to think about when you're wearing my sweater." He says. And then we're kissing. As soon as his lips touch mine I know I would've done it anyway, so I give it all I got. His tongue slips out and glides across my lips, and I gladly let him in. As his tongue explores my mouth, my hands explore his body. One hand runs up and into his hair and the other moves down, sliding under his shirt and feeling as much of him as it can.
When I pull away to catch my breath, I know I've ended it. He stands there so calm blue eyes searching mine, but for what? I don't know, but I bet they're telling him everything they can. A small "Squee!" comes from the flight attendant causing Tony to turn around, a playful smile sitting teasingly on his lips. I drop my forehead to his shoulder as everything he told me in the woods floats to mind. I lift my head to look him in the eye.
"You told me not to fall for a guy like you." I say. It comes out sounding breathless despite my every intention to sound unaffected.
"You should've listened."
He tilts his head in the direction of the door and turns to go for it. He pulls my hand to get me to follow, but doesn't hold it. He smirks at the attendant as we reach the stairs and she smiles in return, winking at me as I pass.
I can see it already, him distancing himself. He's down the steps before I am even half way; I stop, watching him walk across the tarmac. Even if this is the end of… whatever this was, it's all been worth it. He's the reason I actually got out of the hostel to explore, he's the one who cheered me after seeing all of those poor horses and after Anwar. So if this is how it ends, so be it.
He stops mid-way across the tarmac and looks back at me.
"Max, what are you waiting for?" He yells. I start across the tarmac and he waits for me, his arm outstretched to take my hand. I grab it, a smile spreading across my face.
Maybe this isn't the end after all.