Written in the Stars

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Breathless

She was ready. She had decided two weeks ago.

It was something Caroline had been thinking about for the past three months, but two weeks ago was when she had realized that she was one hundred percent ready for it to happen.

They had been hanging out after school when she’d had this realization. Now that Jamie was away at college and she was driving to school on her own, Caroline kind of missed the company, so she would always offer to give the Peters twins a lift as well. Piper always declined, partly because she figured it would be too complicated to work out the car schedule since she had to leave for her piano lessons after school and partly because she knew her twin enjoyed the alone time with his girlfriend. So Brody would get a ride to school with his sister, but, as had become a habit, would stay after to sketch in the bleachers while Caroline was at soccer practice and then drive home with her.

Inevitably, Caroline would end up sitting in Brody’s garage studio while he painted and sort of doing homework, with a bit of talking and the occasional make out session interspersed. It was while sitting on the worn out couch in the Peters’s garage and watching Brody paint on a canvas for his art class that she had come to the conclusion that she was ready to take things to the next level. It was because everything was so calm.

Her relationship with Brody had started out with a lot of flushing and butterflies and stammering, but once they’d both realized that they were kind of perfect together, things had settled down. Of course, Brody’s cheeks still tinted bright red any time she was mentioned and she could never help but smile when she heard his name, but things were steady between them. They’d been dating for just over a year and she could honestly say she’d never been happier.

Which is why, as Caroline sat on that couch and laughed as he told her about the horrific things one of the boys in his class painted on a regular basis, she decided that she wanted to lose her virginity to Brody. All that was left to do was find out if he felt the same way.

They had talked about it vaguely after Caroline found out one of her close friends had started sleeping with her boyfriend three months ago. Caroline had casually brought it up while she and Brody were having a horror movie marathon one weekend because she was in the habit of telling her boyfriend pretty much everything.

She had honestly expected the topic of sex to make Brody a bit nervous, but he had shrugged and continued scratching his fingers lightly up and down her upper arm and said, “Good for them.”

“Really?” she had raised her eyebrows in surprise.

Brody shrugged again, his eyes leaving the television screen momentarily to scan over her shocked expression. “As long as they’re being safe, why not?”

She hadn’t pushed the subject any more that night, but it had gotten her thinking, so she kept it in the back of her mind until that afternoon in the garage when she fully decided that she was ready. So when she left because she promised her parents she would be home for dinner, she kissed Brody goodbye and hugged him close and whispered into his ear as she pulled away. “I’m ready if you are.”

It was vague, but he understood the meaning, his eyebrows lifting in surprise as his smile widened and he nodded, having known his answer for a few months now and whispering his response as she stepped away. “I’m ready.”

Grinning, she brought the pads of her fingers to her lips and blew him a kiss as she walked away, glad to know that as always, they were on the same page.

They picked Friday night because the Brewer house would be empty. Jamie was away at school and Caroline’s mother was having dinner with some girlfriends while Jack and the boys had a jam session, both of which would inevitably last late into the night, giving Caroline and Brody plenty of time to…well, do what they wanted.

As Caroline sat at breakfast beside her father on Friday morning, she was glad that Jack was pretty much oblivious to everything. It had taken him almost twice as long as her uncles to figure out that she had feelings for Brody in the first place, so she assumed he’d never work out that she was hours away from sleeping with Nathan’s son.

“Big plans tonight?” Jack asked through a mouthful of Cheerios, raising his eyebrows at his daughter. Now that he only had one child left at home, he was trying to make more of an effort to be in Caroline’s life because he often felt like he had blinked and Jamie had become an adult.

Caroline shrugged, momentarily wondering if she’d underestimated her father’s ability to read her emotional state and then deciding that the question was just a coincidence because he often asked her about her weekend plans at breakfast. “Not really. I’m just gonna hang out at home.”

“Sounds relaxing,” Jack nodded in approval, lifting another spoonful of cereal to his mouth.

Caroline lifted the corners of her lips into a smile as she finished off the rest of her own cereal, liking that she never felt the need to prove that she was cool to her parents. She actually had a pretty active social life, between hanging out with the team and spending time with Brody, but they never faulted her for wanting to stay in and do nothing either. She really did need to give her dad more credit for being cool and part of her even felt bad for keeping secrets from him, but she still remembered how much he’d freaked out when he’d found her and Brody kissing in the hallway at school, so she could only imagine how much worse his reaction would be if he knew what they planned to do tonight.

“You’re going to Uncle Justin’s tonight, right?” Caroline asked nonchalantly, confirming that she and Brody would have the house to themselves. Seeing as her Uncle Nate was going to the jam session and Nathan’s wife would be at dinner with Caroline’s mother as well, she doubted anyone would notice if Brody spent the evening at the Brewer house. Well, Piper might notice, but she wouldn’t tell.

“Yep,” Jack nodded, leaving his spoon in the now empty bowl. “And your mom is going out with her friends. Are you sure you’ll be alright by yourself?”

“Dad,” Caroline looked at her father sternly. “Have you learned nothing about teenagers? We love being home alone.”

“Alright,” Jack laughed, pushing himself out of his chair and lifting his bowl to take it to the sink. “Don’t get in too much trouble.”

He said that jokingly, but he was just a bit concerned. Caroline did have a boyfriend now, after all, and although he had no doubt that Brody Peters was quite possibly the most respectful sixteen year old on the planet, the fact of the matter was that they were still both sixteen and their hormones had a way of getting the better of them, as he’d had the misfortune of witnessing a between class make out session in the school hallway a little over a year ago.

Caroline wasn’t in the habit of blatantly lying to him, but she had been vague enough about her plans for the evening that he could insinuate she intended on spending some time with her boyfriend of over a year. He didn’t like thinking about what they did when they were alone, but he also knew that being strict with Caroline would only push her away and cause her to rebel, so he preferred to remain blissfully ignorant and trust that she was smart enough to make the right decisions.

“I won’t,” Caroline promised, knowing it was partly untrue. Not that she planned on being unsafe, but she was about one hundred and twenty percent certain that her father wouldn’t approve of what she intended to do.

“Good,” Jack grinned as he washed out his cereal bowl. “Shouldn’t you be heading out? You’re gonna be late for school.”

Nodding, Caroline quickly rose from the table to rinse out her bowl and stick it in the dishwasher before heading upstairs to grab her backpack and her car keys. She arrived at school about five minutes before her first class began, striding quickly towards her locker to put away the books she wouldn’t need until later. The Peters had a fondness for punctuality, which meant the twins were more than likely already in their seats, so the first time she saw her boyfriend was during lunch, when he plopped down beside her under their usual tree and leaned over to kiss her cheek in greeting.

“Hey,” he smiled softly as he pulled away and reached for his backpack to take out the sack lunch Nathan had packed him that morning. “Good day so far?”

She nodded, her cheeks a bit flushed from the physical contact as she unpacked her own lunch. “Yeah, I completely rocked a pop quiz in physics this morning, so I’d say it’s going well.”

“Of course you did,” Brody grinned, always the first to believe she could be amazing.

Her smile widened as she watched him push up his glasses with his index finger, causing the rolled up long sleeve of his uniform shirt to slide down his arm and reveal an ink drawing on his forearm.

“What’s that?” Caroline nodded towards his arm as she opened the Ziploc bag that contained her favorite kind of sandwich: peanut butter.

“Oh,” he said, glancing down at his arm, his cheeks flushing a rosy pink as he lifted his gaze to meet hers. “I got a little distracted pre-calculus.”

“By what?” she lifted her eyebrows, intrigued.

“By you.”

She didn’t look to see what the doodle depicted, rather, leaning over and kissing him sweetly on the lips, the corners of her mouth lifting into a smile as she pulled away. “Are you looking forward to tonight?”

“Yeah,” he whispered, his own smile widening as he kept his gaze locked on hers. “Are you?”

Nodding, she kissed him one more time and grinned. “Ecstatic.”

She wasn’t nervous in the slightest. Despite the fact that it was both their first times, there were no knots or butterflies in her stomach. She trusted Brody completely and loved him to pieces and she knew that no matter what happened between them, nothing could destroy their relationship. Even if, at some point in the future, they ended up breaking up, she knew they’d stay friends because Brody wouldn’t allow things to be awkward between them and that fact was a great comfort.

His smile stayed on his face as he brought his sandwich to his lips, only to have his eyes widen as though he was having some sort of epiphany. Shoving his sandwich back into his brown paper sack, he shot her an apologetic smile. “Care, I totally forgot that I told my art teacher I’d get one of my pieces finished by the end of the day and it’s almost done, I just need to make a few tweaks and since I won’t be able to work on it tonight…”

“Go,” Caroline laughed. “I’ll see you later.”

Because it was Friday and Piper didn’t have a piano lesson that afternoon, she would be driving her brother home and Brody would bring the car to the Brewer house once his father left for the jam session.

Mouthing the word ‘sorry’ a little bit dramatically, he leaned over and kissed her cheek again before grabbing his partially unzipped backpack and jumping to his feet, calling out ‘I can’t wait for tonight’ as he rushed back towards the school entrance.

She giggled, internally agreeing as she nibbled on her sandwich.

Her father was nowhere to be seen when she arrived home, which she assumed meant that he was in his basement studio and not currently connected to the outside world and she knew her mother was going straight to her girl’s night from work, so Caroline took the opportunity of semi solitude to complete a task she’d had on her mind for a few days.

After walking quietly up the stairs and setting her backpack down on her bed, she backtracked to Jamie’s room to begin her mission. One perk of Jamie Brewer being the most organized person on the planet was that she knew exactly where everything was in his room, including where he kept his stash of condoms. She knew for a fact that he hadn’t taken them with him to college because he was still pining for Kira Saxton and convinced that he would never love another person.

She knew Brody had already taken care of the protection issue at the drug store earlier that week, but in the off chance that he forgot to bring it with him, she wanted to make sure nothing derailed their plans for the evening.

Lips pursed, she pulled open his sock drawer and bypassed the few pairs of mismatched socks that were left behind before her fingers folded around a small pile of packets in the back corner.

“What are you doing?”

Eyes widening in horror, she quickly pulled her hand from the drawer, keeping her fingers tightly wrapped around the two condoms she’d managed to pick up before turning to face her father, keeping the hand holding the incriminating items safely secured behind her back.

“Hey, Dad!” she grinned widely, hoping she sounded a lot more nonchalant than she felt. “I didn’t know you were home.”

That wasn’t entirely true because she knew Jack would have told her if he wasn’t going to be home when she got back from school.

“Yeah, I’m home,” Jack raised one eyebrow suspiciously. He was often teased for being the most unobservant of the band and that might have been true on many occasions, but even he could tell that Caroline was hiding something. “What are you doing in your brother’s room?”

“I just…,” she racked her brain for an excuse that would make sense before settling on, “I’ve just been missing him a lot.”

It wasn’t completely a lie. She did miss Jamie. They might not have always gotten along while he was home, but he was her brother and she loved him to death and there had been many times since he’d left for school that she’d wished he was around to hang out with.

“Oh,” Jack said softly, getting a little teary eyed because the thought of Caroline missing her big brother was really sweet, especially since Jack knew that she and Jamie had never really been the best of friends. “I miss him too, sweetie.”

“Yeah,” Caroline breathed out, trying to inconspicuously shove the condoms into the back waistline of her skirt and pull her shirt over it so Jack wouldn’t notice them when she left. “So sometimes I just come into his room and look around cause it kinda makes it feel like he’s still here.”

“Aw, honey,” Jack sighed, stepping forward and wrapping his arms around his daughter’s shoulders, pulling her close as Caroline prayed her skirt was tight enough to keep the packets from dropping. “I know it’s hard not having him here all the time, but if you ever want to visit him, we can make that happen and I know it’s not the same as seeing him in person, but you can call him anytime.”

“I know,” Caroline replied, hoping her father couldn’t tell that she was extremely tense. “Thanks, Dad.”

Nodding, Jack pressed a kiss to the top of her head before letting her go, taking a step back and shoving his fingers into the pockets of his jeans. “I’m gonna head to Justin’s soon. You gonna be alright?”

“Yep,” Caroline replied, wanting the conversation to end sooner rather than later because the fact that she was hiding condoms in the back of her skirt was making her extremely nervous. “Have fun.”

“You know,” Jack said, walking backwards out the door. “Ty is away at a swim tournament this weekend, but Jessa might be around if you wanna come with me.”

Having talked to Jessamine Copeland earlier in the week, Caroline was well aware that Justin’s daughter already had plans for the evening.

“That’s alright,” she assured him, her heart rate accelerating with each second her father was still in her presence. Before he could suggest that she call Lucy or Piper, she shot her father a sweet smile and spoke again. “Hey, Dad, I got some stuff to take care of, but like I said, you have fun. Say hi to Uncle Justin and Uncle Nate and Uncle Ethan for me!”

He chalked her abrupt ending to the conversation up to the fact that she was probably embarrassed at having been caught getting nostalgic about her brother, so Jack didn’t read much into the fact that she sped back to her room and shut the door, instead shrugging and turning to go find his keys.

In her room, Caroline breathed out a sigh of relief, pulling the condoms from the back of her skirt and dropping them on her dresser before turning to her closet to decide what to wear. She wasn’t sure what kind of outfit would be appropriate for the situation.

On one hand, she wanted to dress up a little for the occasion, but she was also afraid that doing so would put too much pressure on the situation. It should feel natural, she decided, so she settled on wearing what would be considered normal for her date nights with Brody: navy silk shorts and an off the shoulder white blouse. She left her feet bare because she hated wearing shoes at home and once she heard Jack call up the stairs to say he was leaving and saw his black Range Rover disappear down the road, she texted Brody that the coast was clear.

He arrived fifteen minutes later and she nearly sprinted towards the door when she heard his car pull to a stop on her driveway, glad to have something to do rather than pace up and down the length of her bedroom.

“Hey,” she greeted, a little out of breath as she pulled open the door, her eyes glancing down to take in his dark skinny jeans, black boots, and white button up. He didn’t normally wear such nice shirts because he was always afraid of staining them with ink or paint, but he considered tonight special, so he’d made an effort, even making sure the flat black earrings he wore in both ears were nice and shiny.

“You look beautiful,” he smiled softly as he stepped inside, curling his fingers around his car keys as he leaned in to kiss her on the lips in greeting.

“Thanks!” she flushed, closing the door behind him. Knowing that the longer they waited, the more awkward it would feel, she grabbed his hand and shot him a knowing smirk and tugged him towards the stairs.

They stayed silent as she led him towards her bedroom and once they were inside, she dropped his hand and turned to face him and didn’t even have to say anything because he was already leaning forward to press his lips to hers. They both smiled as they kissed, Brody reaching back to drop his keys on her dresser before placing his hands on her hips. She wrapped her arms around his neck as he walked her backwards towards the bed, pulling away only so they could both climb atop the baby blue comforter and resume their kissing in a more comfortable position.

They lay on their sides, their legs intertwined and their hands roaming each other’s bodies slowly and Caroline felt completely and utterly happy and at peace.

Unfortunately, this only lasted for about ten minutes, before she started to feel light headed. At first, she thought it was just a side effect of being elated, but soon she felt as though her lungs had constricted and she pulled away and sat up straight, her chest heaving as she tried to catch her breath.

“Caroline?” Brody said, sounding a little out of breath as well, though for an entirely different reason, his eyebrows furrowed in concern as he blinked rapidly behind his fogged up glasses, which he reached up to readjust over his ears. “What’s wrong?”

“I…can’t…I can’t breathe,” she gasped, her eyes wide in fear. “My…inhaler.”

He understood immediately, knowing her asthma meant she always had an inhaler close by, so he followed her gaze to where she was nodding at her dresser, and rolled off her bed to grab her inhaler, which was coincidentally right beside the stack of condoms she’d snuck out of Jamie’s room.

Lifting one leg, he plopped down beside her and kicked off his shoes as he handed her the inhaler, holding his own breath as she pressed the top button to let out the puffs of air and breathed deeply.

“Are you alright?” he asked, reaching out to soothingly rub his palm up and down her back once it seemed like her breathing had returned

“Yeah,” she smiled sheepishly, looking at him from beneath her eyelashes. “Sorry about that.”

He shook his head, his hand movements continuing on her back. “You have nothing to apologize for.”

“The moment’s kind of ruined isn’t it?” She scrunched her nose and crossed her legs beneath her. No matter how much she wanted to continue, she was a tad bit too embarrassed to do so.

Brody parted his lips to disagree, but decided that perhaps there had already been too much commotion for one day. Scratching his short nails lightly against Caroline’s back, he shrugged and smiled reassuringly. “There will be other moments.”

He knew that was a fact. Ever since they’d both agreed that they were ready two weeks ago, he’d had a hard time keeping his mind off it; which was the reason he’d gotten in trouble in pre-cal that morning for drawing pictures of Caroline on his arm. Maybe it was better this way, anyway, he thought. Because although he’d been excited once they’d picked a date and kissing Caroline Brewer was something he wouldn’t mind doing forever, now that he thought about it, the entire situation seemed a little bit too planned, which completely contradicted how he usually felt with Caroline.

They weren’t the type of couple who went on elaborate dates that they planned weeks in advance, so it probably should have clicked that planning when they were going to have sex wouldn’t have worked out either. Brody couldn’t really imagine not wanting to be with Caroline, so he was certain that there would come a point in the not so distant future when they would be in the mood to do it again.

“Thanks,” Caroline let out a sigh of relief that she hadn’t even realized she was holding in. Perhaps she had been a bit more overwhelmed about the thought of sleeping with Brody than she had originally been willing to admit. “It’ll be great when it happens. I promise.”

“I know,” Brody smiled widely, having no doubts about that. Leaning forward, he kissed her sweetly, tilting his chin upwards to press a kiss to her forehead before he pulled away.

“I love you,” Caroline breathed out happily and Brody flushed, as he had the first time she had said those words while they were curled up on the couch watching movies during a thunderstorm and how he more than likely would any time she said them in the future.

“Love you, too,” he whispered back, pecking her lips once more before pushing himself off the bed and holding out his hand. “Come on. Let’s go raid the fridge and find a TV show marathon to watch.”

Laughing, she slipped her hand into his and climbed off the bed, glad, but not surprised, that things between them remained completely normal. Although getting dressed up and going out was fun every once in a while, she liked the fact that they didn’t really have to try and she always enjoyed hanging out with Brody. She was completely content just cuddling with him on the couch as they only sort of paid attention to the television screen.

Which is how Jack found them when he came home from his jam session three hours later. Maybe he should have been upset when he walked into the lounge room to find Caroline snuggled into Brody’s side as they giggled and whispered and kissed to their heart’s content, but the truth was that his daughter was happy and if Brody Peters was the one who brought that light to her eyes and that rosiness to her cheeks, then he could deal with his baby girl having a boyfriend.

So after greeting them hello and shooting Caroline a smile that ensured her she was in absolutely no trouble, Jack made his way up to his bedroom, thinking that in learning to trust his teenagers, maybe he was growing up as well.

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