A/N: I'm in love with this. Maybe it's because I've loved Oliver since I created him, but I think that's only part of the reason. I'm just so happy with how this turned out. I hope those of you who really didn't like Oliver understand and empathize with him a little bit more now.


For Now

For some reason, even after all this time, it still amazes me how every room looks the same as the last. It doesn't even matter that the homes could be states away from each other or completely different; the rooms don't change. Four white walls. Two twin beds, on opposite sides of the room. Two dressers. Two nightstands. A hardwood floor. An one window—it's always the same. There's only been one exception, but I probably shouldn't even count that home. I only lasted for two months there, a new personal record. It was obvious when I got there, too, that I didn't belong. It was just too good for me. The people especially. Specifically my first roommate there and his little bookworm boyfriend.

Dropping my bag down on what I suppose is my new bed, I head over to the window and stare out onto the street below. At least I'm in a city now. Cities I feel more at ease in since I know how to survive in them my own. Cities are big. Easier to get away with things than in a small town. Harder for people to find me when I disappear.

I'll be eighteen in six months, but I'm not going to wait that long. I've waited long enough, I think, and I'm not going to chance it. Six months I could be in an entirely new place, like another small town, and I can't disappear in a small town like I could in a city. I won't take that risk.

Not again.

I'll give myself a week, maybe two. That's more than enough time for me to make some 'friends', modify my plan accordingly, and set everything in motion. Then I'll be gone. Gone, gone, gone.

It'll be flawless. Foolproof. It has to be. I'll make sure of it. Nothing can or will go wrong. I know what can happen when something goes wrong.

Which is why I have a plan this time. I didn't before, and that's why we got caught. Last time I was careless, reckless, naïve. But not now. I've learned from the first try, as well as the mistakes I made then. I won't make them again. And this time I've had a year and a half to fine-tune it and work out the kinks, so I know there's absolutely no possible way it will fail.

It's perfect.

I smile.

After being in foster care literately my whole life, I'll finally be getting out. I would've done it sooner, and I almost did, but certain things always got in the way. Location, people, money, weather—it was always something. Now, though, that's not going to be a problem. This time it'll actually happen. And so what if it's only six months earlier? I don't fucking care. That's still six months less that I have to spend in this hell. Then I'll finally have what I want most.

Or—second to most.

My smile vanishes.

I'm not worried about being on my own. I've basically been on my own since I was seven, when being a cute kid was no longer enough to get you any sympathy or special treatment from these people. Foster care doesn't actually take care of you. Oh, some homes do, like that one I was in five months ago, but they don't know how to handle kids like me—bad kids. So we have to take care of ourselves, which is fine with me. I'm used to it.

But that's what got me kicked out of that home. That and the fact that everyone there didn't like me. Nobody, not even the woman who 'took care' of us, wanted anything to do with me after Saint Taylor decided to hate me. I was the pariah after that…incident with him and his goody-two-shoes boytoy. Everyone watched me like a hawk. No one believed anything I said. Then when one of the brats caught me stealing money out of Monica's purse, there was absolutely no way I could convince her not to tell because everyone knew Oliver's a bad kid. I didn't even get three strikes; they just told me to pack my things and I was in another home within two days. Not that I really care anyway, since I hated it there. It was too hard to get away with shit.

I'll do whatever I have to do to get what I want. Lying, stealing—anything really, except hurting someone physically unless they deserve it. Despite what everyone thinks, I do have a conscience; it's just different from everyone else's. I won't do something just to do it; it has to benefit me in some way. So, if feeding someone a huge lie will help me, I'll do it with ease. If I need money, I'll steal it in a blink of an eye without feeling the least bit guilty about it. The only way guilt gets to me is if I accidently hurt someone whom I care about, and I've only really ever cared about one person in my life time, so that's only happened once.

And if I get caught—which does happen, even though it's rare—I'll pretend I'm sorry and apologize. But what nobody realizes is that I'm only sorry I got caught. If I'm making my life better by doing something, I don't care if I hurt someone else in the process. They don't matter to me. There's only one other person in the world, besides myself, that matters to me and I haven't seen him in over a year. So, I'll do whatever I want without a care for the consequences. Besides, there are no consequences if you don't get caught.

Before the notion of running away ever entered my mind, I used to want anything that caught my eye—clothes, other people's things, sometimes people. But since I decided I want out, money has been my top priority. It's necessary if I'm going to make it on my own. I've got enough to get me by until I've found a job. Some of it, I made honestly, when I was at a home long enough to have a part-time job, like the one I just came from. Most of it, though, I stole or got it in other ways—gambling, poker, doing 'favors' for others. I've even dealt drugs when I knew I could get away with it, and that made me a lot of cash. Never did them, though. Cigarettes and casual sex was enough for me to escape. Now it's just sex; I gave up smoking when I met him. My sleeping around stopped then, too, since there was no need for an escape when I was with him. Afterwards, though, I started doing it again, more so than ever. By no means am I a whore; the pain just gets too much for me sometimes. Even if it's gone for only a few moments, that's okay; that's enough. As long as I have some relief from it.

Some understand that. Others, like Saint Taylor, don't. People like him think sex should be all about love. I think that's hilarious. Sex is sex, no matter what context it's used in. It's dirty, naughty, sweaty—you don't have to be attached, or even know the person, to fuck someone. Sure, I suppose it could be romantic for some people. For me, though, sex isn't love, and neither is love sex. Love is some thing else entirely. To me, sex is no longer considered sex if love's involved. It becomes lovemaking then. And that's what I did with him.

I miss him.

But I don't even know if I'll ever see him again. It's been so long since I have, and I haven't heard from him since then. I don't know where he is now. I plan on looking for him after I leave here, but I don't know if I'll find him. He could be on the other side of country. Or dead. I don't want to think that, though it could be true. When I met him, he was new to the system. I took care of him, protected him. Without me, he would've been taken advantage of. Someone would've gotten him hooked on drugs, or worse. I don't know what happened after they separated us, but someone could've managed to do that to him. He might've been moved to a bad home, where he could've been abused—mentally, physically, sexually. Hell, he might've even committed suicide. He wasn't a person who would do that when I met him, but foster care changes and breaks people. It never did that to me since I grew up in it and became immune to the bad things that happened, but it might've done that to him. He wasn't used to bad things happening. That's why I wanted him to run away with me, so he didn't have to get used to them.

When I leave, I'll look for him. I know there's a chance I won't ever find him, but I at least have to try. If I don't, I'll hate myself forever. I hate myself for not getting him out the first time.

With a sigh, I turn away from the window. Might as well unpac—

I stop and stare at the person standing in the doorway, leaning against the frame. My heart starts pounding in my chest when I see dark blue eyes watching me from beneath blonde fringe. I recognize them immediately—how could I not when they're practically all I dream about?—but there's a hard edge to them, I do not. Apart from that, though, he looks completely the same, just a bit taller and skinnier. But…is he really here? Or am I just imagining he is because I was just thinking about him?

The last time I saw him, I'd just turned sixteen and he was fifteen. It was through a car window as my social worker took me away from that home. We'd tried to run away together, but we got caught. I lied my ass off to keep him from getting in too much trouble, which meant I got in it instead, and it ended up separating us. I never really thought I'd see him again—at least, not in a home. Maybe afterwards, but I knew there was always a chance that I wouldn't; not in this life. That's why I can hardly believe this is happening. I want to go over to him, touch him to make sure he's real, but I'm frozen where I am. All I can do is stare at him.

A familiar smile spreads across familiar lips. With it, my breath catches and my heart stops.

It is him.

"Ryan," I breathe.

The smile turns into a grin. "I was beginning to think you didn't recognize me, Oliver," he says. He tosses the hair out of his face and raises his eyebrows at me, a teasing look in his eyes.

"I—" I take a step towards him, but stop myself. What if he doesn't care about me like he used to? Like I still care about him? After all, it's been a year and a half. He could've moved on. He should've.

Ryan laughs, a sound I've missed so much it actually hurts, and starts to make his way over to me, closing the distance between us. I hold my breath when he's standing right in front of me. We stare at each other for a long time, scrutinizing each other, and I realize I was wrong. He doesn't look completely the same. He looks older, and there's that hard edge to his eyes, but he also looks…haunted. Obviously, he made it through on his own, but he wasn't unaffected completely. From the look in his eyes, I can tell he hasn't had it easy. And that hits me like a blow to the chest, sharp and painful. If only I'd been there to protect him, he wouldn't look that way.

He's still beautiful, though, maybe even more so with that look to him. He never seemed like he could be dangerous before, but now he does. For some reason, that gives me goosebumps. I would love him no matter what, but I think I love him more now—now that I know he's strong enough to make it by himself. I don't mind taking care of him, though I knew I would if he was completely helpless.

But I never thought he was. I knew he'd survive without me.

It was me that I wasn't sure would make it without him. I did, but just barely. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that I might someday see him again.

And here he is.

I smile, a short, surprised laugh escaping my throat. Ryan smiles back at me then reaches a hand up to caress my cheek. Exhaling in relief since he wouldn't have done that if he didn't still care about me, I close my eyes and lean into it.

His touch is like coming home, even though I've never had a real home. No one else I've been with has ever been able to make me feel like this way—warm, good, right. Not even sleeping with Taylor—who looks somewhat like Ryan, which is the only reason I wanted to fuck him—would've been even close to feeling like this if I'd convinced him to do it. Only Ryan has the power to make me feel this way. He's the only one I care about—the one person I could never lie to; the one person I didn't just want for sex. I love him too much to do those things to him. I always have.

He steps closer to me so we're standing chest-to-chest and rests his cheek against mine, keeping his hand on the other side of my face. Shivering, I wrap my arms around his waist, holding him tightly. I feel him smile and hear him inhale deeply as he nuzzles his face into my hair.

"You smell the same," he whispers afterwards.

I laugh and lean away from him a little so I can kiss him. It's just a simple, lingering peck, but it more than makes up for all the missed kisses between us, and it's better than any other kiss I've had. When I pull back, I smile at him, resting my forehead against his.

"You taste the same," I tell him.

Ryan hums contently and leans his head on my shoulder, wrapping his arms around my back. I lightly rest my head on his, my eyes closed again, happy just to stay like this for as long as possible.

A part of me still can't believe this is really happening. But here he is, in my arms. And here I am, in his, after all this time and all the doubt that we'd ever be together again.

This wasn't a part of my plan, but I can make it so. It won't take long, and I'm positive he'll come with me. If he's kept loving me for all this time like I've kept loving him then I don't see why he wouldn't. In fact, I'm sure he's been planning running away himself since I know he hates being in foster care as much as I do. And now that I'm with him again, there's no reason for us to stay in it any longer. We'll be leaving this place soon. Together—just like we ought to be.

But since I don't how long we'll have to wait before then, for now I'll just hold him as tightly as I possibly can.

And this time, I'm not letting him go.