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Pathetic Perfectionists And Christmas Colds (Westworld) Finished!


Chanel_no5

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 ***Note***

 

I'm not really a Christmas person, and this year my family won't even celebrate Christmas, but because I'm always working against myself, this is the first year in like, twenty years, that I'm getting that Christmas-y feeling. :rolleyes: Of course. So I was going to write a little fluffy Christmas tale about my adorable OTP, but again, I'm always working against myself, so this turned out to be just the setup. The actual Christmas part will be up later in the week. 

***

Bernard had suspected he would find Theresa outside. She often went up to the top floor in the evenings, to catch a glimpse of the sun before it went down. And indeed, there she was, leaning against the railing with an unlit cigarette in the corner of her mouth and her eyes closed.

He remained some distance away, smiling to himself as he watched the breeze ruffle her hair. He had been surprised by how strongly he felt for this harsh, demanding woman. But then again, he got to see her other side, too. The soft, gentle, loving and loveable side that she kept strictly hidden at work.

“Are you just going to stand there and stare?” Theresa said, her eyes still closed.

“I was thinking about it,” Bernard replied, but he walked up to her. “The view is magnificent,” he added.

“Are you talking about the desert, or my ass?” Theresa asked, and now she opened her eyes and gave him an impish glance. He laughed.

“Both.”

“Mhm,” she said, took out her lighter and finally lit her cigarette. “You can really tell it’s winter,” she said, switching subject. “Despite the environmental controls. There’s a faint scent of snow in the wind.”

Bernard, who could tell from her congested voice that she wasn’t over her cold yet, doubted that she could smell it even if there was snow coming, but he didn’t say anything about it. Instead his focus was caught by her bare arms and the light goosebumps that covered her skin.

“You’re freezing.”

“Just a little. I wasn’t going to stay out for long, but I had a feeling you would turn up.”

“And I did.”

“Yes. You did.” She smiled, but the smile faded as a sneezy look replaced it. “H-hold on, I need to… Heh-AARSCHoo! Sneeze.”

“Bless you.” He sounded concerned. “Maybe you should go inside.”

“I don’t sneeze because it’s cold, I sneeze because I have a cold,” she said, but her voice lacked any sharp edges.

“I know,” he said. “I thought you were getting over it, though.”

“So did I,” Theresa replied, “but apparently I celebrated too soon.”

“Speaking of celebrating, will you be going home over Christmas?” Bernard asked while casually shrugging out of his jacket and draping it over Theresa’s shoulders. At first she seemed to be about to decline it, but instead swept it tighter around her with her free hand, relishing his lingering body heat.  

“I haven’t planned on it. I have vacation days saved up so I could if I wanted to, but I don’t.”

“You don’t want to see your family?”

“What family?” Theresa scoffed. “My raving racist of a brother? What a fucking Christmas that would be. No, I’ll stay here, catch up on some paperwork I’m behind with.”

“Forgive me, but that sounds boring.”

“It’s only boring if the alternative would be fun, which, in this case, it isn’t.” She exhaled a cloud of smoke and looked to the South, as the final train for the season returned from Sweetwater. “What about you? Are you going anywhere over the holidays?”

“Ford wanted me to stay and set up some new behaviour details and give them a test run.” He chuckled. “I suppose he knows I can’t resist playing with subtleties.”

“I don’t like that he’s taking advantage of that, though,” Theresa said. “I can’t remember you ever taking a vacation.”

“I’ve had vacations,” he said. “Just two months ago, remember?”

“But that was on site.”

“Well, to be honest… I didn’t want to be away from you.”

He looked a bit nervous to admit this. Their affair was a secret, and it had been clear from the beginning that it would be a no strings attached story… but little by little, they had moved from Wham Bam Thank You Ma’am Land to the uncharted Twosome Territory almost without noticing. If their positions, as managers of business departments meant to keep each other in check, hadn’t been an obstacle, now would probably be the time they'd discuss moving in together.

But that was almost the way it was anyway, and it had been Theresa who started bringing some of her stuff over to his place. Bernard was never going to bring it up because he was positive that she hadn’t reflected over it, and he was worried that if she reflected over it, the implications would frighten her and she would break up. Theresa wasn’t scared of many things, but she was scared of commitment, at least of the emotional kind.

“You’re certainly a man comfortable with going against the stream,” she said, putting out the cigarette and exhaling a final cloud of smoke that was ripped apart by the increasing wind. “Most people would run in the opposite direction as fast as they could.”

“I’m not most people,” he said simply.  

Theresa tried to look serious, but couldn’t hold back a smile.

“No, you’re not. For which I’m thankful.”

“So, if we’re both staying here over Christmas… how about we have our own Christmas dinner? Just you and I?”

“I’d like that. Your place or mine?”

“Mine.”

She raised her eyebrows.

“That came fast. Any particular reason?”

“Because it wouldn’t be discreet for me to bring the food over to your place, and I don’t trust you in the kitchen.”

“Hey!” she said, about to sharply defend herself, then shook her head. “No, you’re right, kitchen stuff is more your department.”

“Yeah, and it’s called ‘cooking’, not ‘kitchen stuff’,” Bernard said with a chuckle. Theresa tried to give him a haughty glare but couldn’t contain her amusement. She began to laugh hoarsely, and it turned into a cough.

“Whoops, sorry. You okay?”

“Not really,” Theresa admitted once she had stopped coughing. “I feel like my entire head is stuffed with cotton. And my throat is sore again. I hope I’ll manage to get rid of this fucking cold before Christmas, but I’m starting to have my doubts. It feels more like it’s relapsing.”

“That’s because you’re pushing yourself too hard. You're such a perfectionist. You never take the time to unwind, and you never get enough sleep.”

“Thank you for that assessment, Mr Lowe,” she said, sounding all business-like. “Is a career as stress management coach next in line for you?”

“Knock it off,” he said, smiling. “I’m just offering an explanation for why your colds are such drawn-out affairs.”

“Did I ask for one?”

“Um… no.”

“Then don’t give me one.”

He sighed.

“You’re impossible, Tess, you know that, right?”

“I know. That’s what keeps drawing you in, isn’t it?” She smiled, and her eyes sparkled.

“Touché.”

She glanced at her cell phone, winced, then took off his jacket and gave it back.

“I’m needed in Narrative. Lee has either overdosed on caffeine again, or he’s just suffering from his annual pre-holiday panic. Whatever it is, he’s apparently even more hysterical than usual.”

“Good luck.”

She rolled her eyes and refrained from answering. Bernard put on his jacket and stayed where he was, watching her as she left, shaking his head a little when she doubled over with a coughing fit. Yeah, she was definitely relapsing. Just as well she wasn't going to get on a long plane ride in that condition. 

He put his hands into his pockets and felt something there. He fished out a folded sheet of paper with a note written in Theresa’s elegant handwriting. How the hell had she managed to sneak that into his pocket without him noticing? He kept finding new reasons to admire this woman.

Bernie,

Waking up alone this morning made me realise just how much I treasure our time together. I wanted you to know that.

See you tonight.

Tess

He smiled and put the note back. He couldn’t agree more.

 

 

 

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This was such a good setup. As always, I loved the banter and descriptions.Bernard is as caring as ever. Happy to read the next part! 

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On ‎12‎/‎4‎/‎2018 at 2:26 AM, Reader said:

This was such a good setup. As always, I loved the banter and descriptions.Bernard is as caring as ever. Happy to read the next part! 

Thank you! :heart: 

So, it became a 3-parter instead of a 2-parter, but I promise the next part is the last, and that's the actual Christmas celebrating part. :lol: 

 

***

It was Christmas Eve and Theresa was officially done working for the next three days. She had wrapped up this season with a video conference with the Board, something that always left her tense and in a bad mood, but today it had gone very well. She wasn’t sure if the big shots were filled with the Christmas spirit or if the numbers and smooth sailing she could report were good enough for once, but the second in command had actually praised her for doing a good job. She couldn’t remember any of them saying that before. And best of all, Charlotte Hale hadn’t even been there. She was attending some fundraiser on behalf of Delos.

Probably bored out of her wits, Theresa thought with shameless satisfaction, knowing how much Charlotte hated having to behave nicely. She couldn’t think of a better Christmas gift than several days off, spent in Bernard’s company, and the knowledge that her highest boss was forced to do something she hated. Not even this cold, that indeed had relapsed and turned into something way worse, could dampen her spirits.

The floors that held staff quarters were almost empty; most of the staff had left yesterday and the rest were downstairs working, so Theresa had felt comfortable enough to leave her room wearing something less formal for once. Not that it wasn’t expensive and classy, but jeans and a cashmere sweater was far less formal than what she usually wore. And so much softer and warmer, which was the main reason she wore it today. She didn’t have a high fever, but it was a fever, and she wanted to wrap herself in at least two warm blankets (or Bernard’s warm embrace) after walking through the airconditioned corridors.

Her thoughts wandered to the presents she had bought, and a sudden jolt of insecurity went through her body, making the content smile on her face begin to fade. Maybe it was a bit too much.

Or maybe, Cullen, it’s about time you show him that he’s not just a disposable bedwarmer to you, she answered herself. Don’t be so scared of affection that you push away the only one willing to give it.

She didn’t have a response to that retort.

***

Bernard kissed her before she had even gotten inside.

Bernie,” she whispered, gently pushing him away. “What if anyone sees?”

“That would be a big surprise, considering everyone in this corridor left before lunch yesterday. And before you tell me I can’t be sure, I can, because I checked who are still signed in as on site, and you and I are actually alone on this entire floor.”

It was possibly the most he had said in one go in all the time she had known him, and she noticed with secret amusement that he even sounded a bit breathless, unable to take his eyes off her.

Theresa carefully put the bag with the gifts down on the floor, took his hands and put them around her waist, put her own arms around his neck, and kissed him softly.

“Good,” she mumbled against his mouth and kissed him again. “Because I’ve waited all day to do this.”

But as much as she wanted to keep kissing him, her nose was starting to prickle, and she had to turn away and unleash a violent, wet sneeze, so forceful she would have lost her balance if Bernard hadn’t kept his arms around her waist.

HAAESSHHHoo!”

“Bless you,” he said. “You do sound much worse than you did a few days ago.”

“Ugh, I know.”

“Maybe you shouldn’t have gone outside without a jacket that evening,” he said. Theresa rolled her eyes.

“Yeah, I’m sure that’s the reason, and not that my fucking immune defence got lazy and quit before the enemy was defeated.”

“Well, maybe it needs more resources to do a good job.”

“Here we go again…” she sighed, but she wasn’t angry.

“I won’t nag on you, if you promise not to think about work for the next three days.”

“But I have so much paperwork…”

“And I’ll help you with that. In three days. Deal?”

“Alright, fine, deal. I have to sneeze again.”

“I can tell,” he said, but he didn’t elaborate on how. This time she only turned her head and got the sneeze out as fast as she could, before turning back.

“I don’t get how you can be okay with kissing me even when I sound like I have the plague, but…”

“Your cooties don’t scare me,” he said and kissed her again to prove his point. “You’d have a hard time convincing Lee to kiss you, though.”

Theresa shuddered.

“Luckily, his non-attraction to me is completely mutual.”

Bernard chuckled, kissed the corner of her mouth, and gave her backside a pat.

“I know. Come on. Let’s go inside.”

She picked up the bag, followed him inside, and closed the door behind them.

***

Theresa inspected the tiny, sad Christmas tree that stood in a corner in the living room area. Bernard had done what he could to decorate it, with tinsel and ornaments, but that rather enhanced than disguised how sad it looked.

“This is the most pathetic Christmas tree I’ve ever seen,” she said. “It looks almost as pathetic as I feel, so I sympathise.”

“You’re not…” Bernard began, but was interrupted when she sneezed, then again, then a third time. Theresa gave him a miserable, darkly amused look that said ‘can you believe me right now?’ before she took out a fresh tissue from her pocket and blew her nose, a wet, messy blow that didn’t sound like it helped at all.

“You were saying?” she asked as she removed the tissue from her now even more inflamed nose.

“Maybe a little bit pathetic,” he said, but he said it with plenty of affection. “But I don’t mind. No one’s on top all the time, not even you.”

“I feel like I haven’t been on top in quite a while now,” she said.

“Would you like to be?” he asked, his eyes glittering with mischief. Theresa had to laugh despite how lousy she felt.

“Naughty,” she said, but she sounded appreciative.

Then she started to cough, and coughed herself straight into a sneezing fit.

HeeASSCHoo! AEERSSH! HaEESHHoo!” She sniffled, and her breath hitched again, her eyes watered. “Hold on, I’ll b-be done s-soon… huhERSSHoo! Fuck! AESSCHHeuh!”

“Oh my God,” he said, as unable to stop a laugh as she was to stop sneezing. “Easy!”

“Yeah, I don’t really have a say in this… HEESCHHoo!” She inhaled sharply to add a seventh sneeze to the fit, but that one faded into oblivion before she could get it out, so instead she exhaled shakily. “Ugh, for fuck’s sake…” She rubbed her nose hard. “This is one of those colds where you think you’re going to sneeze once or twice but then you just keep going.”

He put his arms around her from behind and kissed her neck.

“Good thing you’ll have some time to recover, then.”

“True. And I do believe the best place to recover from a cold is in bed,” she said, took his hand, and led him into the bedroom.

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Such a tease! I’m ready to get into the Christmas spirit 😋 

Bernard, oh Bernard, you slay me. He was very spicy in this chapter and I really liked it! 

 

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Gah. Okay. So, I’ve re-written this part three times and I’m not at all pleased with it, but I figured that since not many people are gonna read it either way, it doesn’t matter that it's kind of awful. :lol: 

At least there’s a proper ending..? 

 

***

 

 

 

Bernard woke up the moment Theresa’s alarm began to blare. She, on the other hand, was so deep asleep she didn’t even stir at the piercing noise. He had a hard time believing that she would really set an alarm, especially this early, for her first day off in several months, then he thought about it, and concluded that he didn’t have a hard time believing that. This was Theresa, after all.

He turned it off, turned off the backup alarm she had set – also very Theresa - and laid down next to her again. At some point during the night she had hogged most of the blankets and managed to wrap herself in them like a human burrito. There was a thick and congested snoring coming from somewhere inside that burrito, but she still hadn’t moved.

Good. She needed to sleep in for once.

The blanketed Theresa burrito began moving around and the snoring was interrupted by a muffled but chesty-sounding cough. She kept coughing for almost an entire minute, but she didn’t wake up, and eventually her breath settled into that thick but steady snoring again.

Bernard dozed off as well, and they slept another three hours, neither stirring until 9.30, when another coughing fit struck Theresa, and she first woke up Bernard and then herself. She untangled herself from the blankets and reached for the tissues on the nightstand, bellowing out two spraying sneezes as she did. 

“Bless you. And good morning,” Bernard said.

“Good bordig,” Theresa said, not sounding convinced that it was, sat up and blew her nose as thoroughly as she could. When she lowered the tissues Bernard could tell that despite the lotion added to them, her nostrils were a deep, inflamed red, chapped and sore-looking. She cleared her throat and tried to speak again. Her speech was somewhat clearer now that she had gotten rid of at least some of the congestion, but she still sounded sick. Awfully sick, in fact. He could tell right off the bat what he had only suspected days ago – that her Christmas dinner would consist of soup. Good thing he had prepared for it.

“Sorry if I woke you up,” Theresa sniffled. “My throat really tickles. HaaEESHH! And so does my nose.”

“Really? I couldn’t tell,” he said, feigning surprise, and Theresa threw a pillow at him. Laughing, he got out of bed. “Stay. I’ll go make some breakfast.”

 “You think I’m just gonna lie here like some-AEESSHHH!”

“Like some what?” Bernard asked with a half-smile. “Like some sick woman?”

Theresa got out of bed and swept one of the blankets around her shoulders, trying to suppress a shudder.

“I may be sick, but I refuse to be bedbound,” she said.

“Bring that blanket and go sit on the couch, then. You can admire the sad little tree while I make us breakfast.”

Theresa did so, but she wasn’t admiring the tree, valiant as it stood despite its aesthetic shortcomings, she was zeroing in on the presents underneath. She and Bernard seemed to have read each other’s minds; both had gotten one small and one bigger present. Theresa was staring at the smaller one she had bought, fidgeting as she wondered if he would consider it too much. It wasn’t about the money; they both made good money from their respective jobs, and Theresa had her private wealth on top of that. It was more a matter of… well, was it too much considering their relationship status? She wasn’t even sure what their fucking relationship status really was! She had been the one demanding that this was to be kept casual, no strings attached, no commitment, and as a result of her reluctance to discuss the developments, she wasn’t even sure if Bernard was interested in more. She thought he might be, because he was still around, but she couldn’t be certain.

Bernard interrupted her thoughts when he put a plate down on the table in front of her, and then took a close look at her. “You okay? You look flushed.”

“I think I have a fever,” Theresa said. She was so chilled she was shivering, but when Bernard put his hand on her forehead, she felt that his touch was the cool one. She was the one burning like hot coal.

“I think so too. Do you want anything for it?”

She shook her head and looked up at him.

“Just breakfast, and you.”

“You got it,” he said, ruffed her hair, which was okay since she hadn’t fixed it yet, and went to get the coffee.

Instead of taking the chair beside the couch, which was his usual designated spot, he sat down next to her on the couch, and slipped in under the blanket to get even closer to her. It surprised her, and only in good ways.

“I want to say it smells great, but I can’t smell anything,” Theresa said in an apologetic tone as she reached for her breakfast plate.

“That’s a shame, but not really surprising,” Bernard replied. “It’s gingerbread pancakes. Elsie hasn’t shut up about them for two weeks, so I thought I’d give it a shot.”

“Elsie…” Theresa said musingly. “She comes up a lot, doesn’t she?” She took a mouthful of pancake, chewed, then swallowed with visible discomfort as it went down her inflamed throat.

“I see where your mind wants to take that,” Bernard said, “and you’re wrong. I see what an asset she can be to Westworld, so I spend more time with her than with most of my techs to teach her the ropes. But that’s it.”

“You don’t think she might…” Theresa coughed, momentarily looked like she was about to sneeze as well, but managed to fight that off before continuing; “…misinterpret your interest in her, and respond according to her interpretation…”

“Theresa, Elsie is gay,” he said softly. “I’m flattered that you think I’m such a catch you’re jealous, but you don’t have any competition. Not here, not anywhere else.”

Theresa had put her plate down and pushed it aside, picking up her coffee instead. Bernard looked at the discarded plate, and then at Theresa, who had put both hands around her mug as if drawing warmth from it.

“Sorry, Bernie,” she said hoarsely. “I’m not being a diva refusing to eat because Elsie suggested this,” she nodded towards the pancakes, “I just don’t think I can eat anything right now.”

“It’s alright,” he replied, his voice soft and gentle. “You know, I don’t think that’s a cold.”

“Right, it’s probably allergies,” Theresa said sarcastically and sipped her coffee. She wanted to throw scathing sarcasms around her, that always made her feel better, but at the same time she wanted Bernard to hold her, so she knew she had to watch the level of her sarcasms if she wanted that to happen. 

“Flu, more likely,” he replied. “I don’t think your cold relapsed, I think you went from a cold to the flu.”

“I feel lousy, but not that bad”, she said, sniffling. The steam from the coffee loosened up the congestion, and now her nose was starting to run instead, and that in turn made her feel like she needed to sneeze again.

She put the coffee down on the table, so she wouldn’t spill the hot beverage, and it was a good thing she did, because the first sneeze claimed her only a second later, and it was impossible to fight.

AaERSCHugh! HuhESSHH!” she sniffled messily before she sneezed once more. “HaERSSCHoo!”

“Bless you,” Bernard said, and got up to get the tissue box before she could even catch her breath enough to ask for it.

“Thank you. Ugh, whatever it is, it’s really… huhh… fucking m-me up… eeASSHHoo!”

“It could have been worse. You could be stuck on an airplane right now,” he chuckled and handed over several fresh tissues before putting the rest of the box down on the couch right next to her. Theresa blew her nose and finished by carefully dabbing the tissue against her tender nostrils, but the touch set off the need to sneeze again. “HuhNGTSCHgh! Oh, you fucking traitor,” she muttered under her breath, addressing her nose.

Bernard placed a soothing kiss on the tip of her nose, right at the spot where the angry redness faded into a deep pink.

“Poor thing. Though it does fit the season, since we don’t have any red-nosed reindeer here…” he said, and Theresa groaned and leaned her head back against the couch.

“I was just waiting for that one!”

He chuckled again.

“So, how do you do it in Denmark? Presents in the morning, or in the evening?”

“I guess people do whatever works best for them,” Theresa said, shrugging. 

“Want to open them now?” Bernard asked. He looked both giddy and nervous, for some reason Theresa couldn’t pinpoint. But of course, her mind wasn’t at its sharpest right now.

“Um…” she steeled herself. “Yeah. Sure.”

He noticed the hesitation in her voice but wrote it off as his imagination, because he was really nervous about that one gift he had gotten for her. He knew it was only partly a gift, and partly a request, a request he never would have made if Theresa hadn’t left that note in the pocket of his jacket.

And now he was second-guessing himself.

He climbed back into the warmth of the blanket and Theresa’s feverish body. He handed over two presents, and Theresa took them, turning them over as if she was nervous.

“What’s wrong?” Bernard asked, and he could hear the anxiety in his own voice, even though it seemed to pass Theresa by.  

“Nothing,” she said meekly, silently wishing she had bought a tie instead.

“I’m going to love it, whatever it is, because it’s from you,” he said, hoping for a similar response in turn, but Theresa only gave him a pale smile without eye contact as she took the smallest present and started unwrapping it.

He hadn’t made as much as a move to open either of his; he was eyeing her attentively.  

The wrapping came off, painfully slowly, and revealed a small box. Theresa opened it, keeping a perfect pokerface in place over her elegant features as she caught first glimpse of the discreet but very expensive diamond ring.

She said nothing.

Bernard had anticipated almost any reaction other than this one, and he was stumped for a moment. He cleared his throat.

“You… you don’t have to take it as anything more than a present,” he said, mentally kicking himself as the words came out, not only sounding ridiculous in their own right – of course it was meant as something far more than just a Christmas gift, who the hell gave a diamond ring to a woman as just a casual gift? – but his voice sounded like he was surrendering, too.

“Oh yes I do. Now open yours,” she said. She didn’t sound like she was about to hand it back and then up and leave, but he couldn’t read the emotions in her voice. She hadn’t taken the ring out to try it on, she was just looking at it.

Unsure what to say next, he stuck to silence as he began unwrapping the smaller present that she had given him.

And burst out laughing when he opened the box with an equally discreet yet expensive ring.

“You scared me,” he said between the chuckles, and Theresa had joined in, though her laugh was raspy and sounded like it was on the verge of turning into a cough.

“You want to talk scared?” she said. “I almost returned it several times because I was scared you’d either tell me to get the fuck out of your life, or feel emasculated because I asked you.”

“I would never tell you to get the fuck out of my life. And as much as I still want to be your knight in shining armour, I have long since faced the fact that you’re your own knight. I just want to ride beside you.”

“Figuratively, I hope,” Theresa said, using the blanket as a shield when she had to sneeze again. “I know I’m a sneezy mess as it is today, but I promise, that’s nothing compared to what I’m like around a horse.”

“Shouldn’t be possible,” he said with a frown. "Not in Westworld."

“It’s possible, alright,” she said. “But many other things have been impossible until they happen. Like this.”

She held up her ring. Bernard reached over, took the ring from her and slid it onto her finger. She put his ring onto his finger, then they looked at each other, eyes so shiny her diamonds seemed to dull in comparison.

“If it scared you so much… what made you change your mind?” he asked, lacing his fingers together with hers.

“I realised I don’t want to live without you. And I don’t want to hide the best thing in my life like it’s something shameful.”

“That’s exactly how I feel, too,” he said, and when he leaned closer to kiss her, Theresa pulled him down over her, and everything around them was temporarily forgotten, including the lesser important gifts.  

 

 

 

(For anyone interested, those gifts consisted of fine wine and a box of expensive chocolate. Incidentally, that was also the only thing consumed throughout the day, which was largely spent on the couch and later, in bed.

The Christmas dinner, however, ended up being chicken soup.

There were no complaints.)

 

The End.

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