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Before You Know It

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You couldn’t believe your luck, getting assigned to be Stanford Pines’ lab partner. He was the pride of Backupsmore, he was the student the teachers raved about, he was the crazy guy rumored to be going for twelve phds. If anyone was going to take your chemistry class seriously, it was him.

What you didn’t expect was how charming you found him. He was a workaholic and a socially awkward nerd, to be sure, but there was just something about him that was so damn interesting. Long after your shared chemistry class was over, you found yourselves spending time together; studying, seeing movies (when you could manage to pull Ford away from his books), eating meals together (more often than not, you were sneaking a plate into the library to make sure he didn’t forget).

You could occasionally coax him over to your dorm, bribing him with jelly beans if he just let you both study somewhere comfortable for once! He was generally accepting of the idea until he realized that if he dozed off, you wouldn’t wake him to keep studying.

“You just want me to fall asleep,” he said when you asked this time, a raised eyebrow arched in your direction, arms folded in resistance to the idea.

“I would never,” you gaped, hand spread over your heart in mock indignation. “I want to fall asleep.”

That drew a little smile out of him against his will, which you counted squarely as a victory. “Come on, Pines, a change of scenery from the library will do you good.”

He finally agreed with an exasperated sigh, after asserting that if you were lying about the jelly beans he’d find a way to sabotage your advanced physics final. You didn’t doubt that he meant it.

Ford arrived at your door later that evening, and once safely pacified by the bag of jelly beans presented to him with a flourish, he settled on the floor so he could spread all his books out in a circle around him.

Then comfortable silence; just the rustle of paper, the light scratch of pens, and the occasional click of the jelly beans jostling together as Ford scooped small handfuls out of their bag.

Admittedly, you were having a hard time concentrating. You could tell that Ford had showered before coming over; his face was freshly shaved, his hair clean and fluffy, and you had a feeling when you hugged him goodbye later (whether that was tonight or tomorrow remained to be seen) he would smell pleasantly like soap.

You didn’t know when you had started to notice things like that; the color of Ford’s shirts, when he showered, when he cut his hair or shaved his face. You tried not to admit it, tried not to think about it too much, but somewhere between “nice to meet you" and the first time he accidentally stayed the night in your dorm, you had developed a truly terrible crush on one Stanford Pines.

One Stanford Pines who, as you had hoped, started dozing off around one in the morning.

He had made the fatal mistake of lying down on his belly, arms tucked under his chin. You noticed he was falling asleep by the way his head was drooping off to the side, his breath deepening, making you smile a little.

You got up quietly, tiptoeing around his books and leaning down to carefully remove his glasses. He snuffled, but thankfully didn’t wake.

You were more than ready to call it a night anyway, so you got ready for bed and turned off the lights. If you didn’t trust Ford not to ignore your insistence on going back to his dorm to sleep not study, you would have woke him; but you knew he would be up until at least four pouring over books if left unsupervised.

So on the floor he’d stay, and if he got a stiff neck it would be his own damn fault for being a sleep-deprived dummy that refused to rest when he should.

Around three, you woke up to the feeling of weight on your mattress, startling the crap out of you.

“Shit!” you heard Ford’s familiar voice hiss, the weight leaving the mattress again, and the clumsy thunk of him tripping over one of the various books he had left on the floor.

You fumbled for the bedside table’s lamp, clicking it on and squinting in the sudden light to find Ford doing much the same; squinting and looking disoriented as the illumination reminded him where he was.

“Shit,” he said again, rubbing both hands over his eyes then back into his hair. “Shit, I’m so sorry. I forgot where I was, I didn’t mean to—”

“It’s fine,” you interjected, just barely suppressing a yawn. “Really, Ford, not a big deal.”

“Right,” he mumbled, squinting still as he looked around; you were guessing trying to find where you had stashed his glasses. “Right, I’ll just head out, sorry to wake you—well, sorry I fell asleep, I shouldn’t have—”

What you said next was a gamble, but you were going to take it. “For fuck’s sake, Pines, just crash here.”

You shuffled over, wedging your back against the wall to leave a space on the narrow mattress for him, your heart pounding nervously in your chest. It was a bold move, you had to admit; most people didn’t just casually share a bed, especially not a little twin-sized dorm mattress.

Ford stared at you for several long moments, his mouth opening, then closing once before he let his breath out through his nose.

“Are you… sure?”

“Yeah man, of course I’m sure. It’s the middle of the night, I’m not sending you back across campus, and I’m not about to force you to sleep on the floor. I only left you there earlier because I didn’t want you trying to wake yourself up to get back to studying.”

“I knew it! You did only invite me here in the hopes I would fall asleep early!”

“For Christ’s sake, scold me in the morning, will you just lay down already?”

That shut him up, Ford biting his lip before finally giving a tiny nod, making your heart pick up tempo a little. Then he was lying down, reaching over to turn off the lamp, and plunging you back into darkness.

Ford had agreed to share a bed with you. The sheer amazement at that fact finally dawned on you. He could have remained on the floor, or insisted on going back to his own place, middle of the night be damned, but Ford had chosen to stay. Here. With you. Laying mere centimeters away on a narrow college dorm room mattress.

For a little while it made you too nervous to sleep; trying to parse if this really meant what you thought (hoped, prayed) it meant. But after twenty minutes of neither of you moving or speaking, you felt drowsiness starting to set back in, and the next thing you knew, you were fast asleep.

The next time you woke up, however, there was a heavy arm draped over your waist, and Ford’s soft, slow breathing against the back of your neck.

Ho. ly. Shit.

What should I do? you thought. If he hadn’t meant to do it, he might get all flustered and weird. If he had meant to do it, would it be wildly inappropriate to kiss the living daylights out of him…?

You opted to just stay still, and wait to see what Ford would do when he woke up.

You didn’t have to wait long, Ford taking a deep breath in as he pulled slowly out of sleep barely a half hour later. He didn’t seem to realize you were awake, and you made absolutely no move to alert him.

He was still for a moment, just breathing, and you weren’t sure if it was because he didn’t realize who he was cuddled up to. He waylaid that uncertainty when he gave a soft sigh, and you felt the barest press of lips to the back of your neck before he began to withdraw his arm painstakingly slowly in his attempt not to wake you.

“Stay,” you whispered, unable to stop yourself from laying your hand over his, keeping his arm around your waist.

His sharp intake of breath told you that you had startled him, his body frozen stiff behind you in a panic, but you just squeezed his hand and tilted your head back slightly toward him.

“Stay,” you repeated in a whisper.

A few more tense moments, time seeming to come to a crawl, before the tension left Ford’s body, his shaky breath warm on the back of your neck.

“Are you certain?” he murmured, sounding shocked and awed that you wanted him there.

“Of course I am,” you replied, feeling color come to your face.

Silence, just the sound of Ford’s breath right behind you, then he shifted, pushing up on his elbow so he could look down at you in the weak light sneaking past the blinds.

He murmured your name, bringing your gaze to his, the two of you just looking at each other for a moment. With a sudden stroke of bravery, you reached up to cup the back of his head, pulling him down for a kiss you had been wanting for far too long.

Ford gave a little gasp, then he was melting into it with a soft moan, that perfect little sound flooding you with sharp yearning.

“I didn’t dare hope—” he tried to pull his lips away to whisper, prompting you to wiggle around in his grip until you were flat on your back and pulling him down flush against you.

“Me either,” you murmured, combing your fingers through his hair with one hand as the other wrapped around his amazing shoulders. “Fuck, Ford, I have such a crush on you.”

His cheeks pinked, but the next kiss he pressed to your lips was so warm with intent it made you hot all over.

“Let’s skip class,” you whispered to him. “Kissing you is a lot nicer.”

His surprised chortle made you grin, the two of you looking at each other with content amusement.

You knew he’d never allow you to skip lecture, nerd that he was, but maybe you’d convince him to forgo studying quantum physics tonight in favor of… anatomy.