to end up with you

It wasn't quite dark outside when Courtney opened to door to the coffee shop; the start of summer lighting her way home most nights. The familiar smell overtook her, welcoming her in as if she was part of the family.

This time of day things were different. Courtney liked to stop here for breakfast, was used to the hustle and bustle of opening time, the sleep-deprived clientele coming in for their first fix of the day. It was her routine; a routine she stuck to religiously.

It was quieter now, not as busy, not as loud. The lull of the world outside finishing for the day almost comforting.

He wasn't hard to spot, sitting next to the window on the opposite wall, staring blankly outside. Maybe waiting to see her pass. Maybe thinking about running.

But it said something about him, that he was still sat there, twenty minutes after the agreed time. Still holding out on her; still waiting to see if she would be brave enough to face him after everything.

Courtney couldn't help but wonder what was going through his head. Was he as nervous as she was? Was he dreading this encounter, regretting his decision to ask? Was he excited? Proud of himself for making this step? Did he think she wouldn't show after she hesitated to reply to his message?

It wasn't cold enough to warrant a jacket but she wished she had one to hide behind now.

She nodded once at the barista she knew before taking the plunge across the space. Back straight, nothing to lose.

There was silence between them at first. His head turned slowly just as she put her hand on the back of the chair opposite. They drank in each other for the first time in three years, their eyes roaming for familiarity, anything to show they were the same people they had always known.

His hair was hidden under a baseball cap, she couldn't see the colour. He had fewer piercings. He was wearing black, accessorised by his silver rings. Same old Duncan she had always known.

A smile crossed Courtney's face.

Duncan mirrored it.

The nerves settled, taking a seat next to her old friend. He was still taking her in, not saying a word.

"Sorry I'm late," she started, her voice coming out quieter than she knew it to be. "Work went later and I got a bit sidetracked, forgot to call-"

"Courtney, it's fine," Duncan grinned. She sucked in her lips. "Where is it you work again?"

"I'm currently doing an internship in digital marketing for a local TV channel." She could feel her cheeks burning. Her job was important to her, but she didn't want to brag about it. "But it-it's small, nothing much at the moment. Hoping for a bigger part of things at the end."

Duncan smiled, unreadable. She scolded herself for knowing how he didn't like her talking about work. Then she caught herself. She didn't owe him anything today.

"Don't downplay it. That's really cool, Court. Honest! Stop looking at me like that."

The laugh caught her off-guard. Courtney let out of a breath she didn't know she had been holding since she walked in. She reminded herself this is how it used to be; sitting at a coffee shop with her first love, actually enjoying each others company. The look in Duncan's eye made her wonder if he was thinking of those times too.

A lot passed between them. She told him all about her plans; how they had changed since they had last had this conversation. He told her how he had started taking some classes at the city college; not much was going on for him now, but for the first time in his life he felt like was working towards something rather than just existing.

Towards the end, Courtney placed her hand on top of his on the table.

"I'm proud of how far you've come," she told him sweetly; earnestly. To see him, the boy she had known- the boy she had loved- transform into this man, it was a sight to behold. Courtney hadn't thought he was capable of change at the end, but here he was proving her wrong.

He gulped down a breath. "Can we do this again?"

Courtney didn't hesitate this time.

She was gorgeous. She had always been beautiful, but standing under the street light, head thrown back in laughter, Courtney was radiant.

Duncan had to check himself twice at dinner, making sure this was actually happening to him again. Courtney was sat across from him, making the conversations they had struggled with before. It felt too easy, too simple. Unreal.

"You still in there?" She asked, squeezing his hand as they came to a stop.

"Uh, yeah," he laughed. "Yeah, just a little lost in thought." Duncan shook the thoughts from his head. Not tonight, not right now.

Courtney looked up at him, her dark eyes reflecting the sky. He could still count the freckles across her nose as he could still count the stars for her. She leaned in and Duncan held his breath.

It was gentle. Slow. Familiar. He had missed this, missed her.

One of his hands was on the back of her head, one of her hands was on his chest. She pulled away first, but not far, their noses still grazing against each other.

"Do you want to come upstairs?" She asked.

Courtney wasn't the type to panic about birthdays. She was organised, calculated. No one doubted that she had the perfect gift planned six months in advance. But this felt different. It was the first big celebration since their rekindling, and while she was sure Duncan would appreciate the thought of any gift she managed to pull together, it felt important to Courtney to get it right.

What do you get your third-time-lucky boyfriend for his twenty-third birthday?

She'd pondered the thought for over a month when she had realised she hadn't added his birthday back into her calendar and it was coming up sooner than she had wanted it to. There wasn't enough time for her to gather the information she needed on him.

If they were still teenagers she would have gotten him something he wouldn't like. A tie he would discard. A set of cuff links to be lost in his drawer. Maybe a gift voucher for a store she wanted him to shop in but that Duncan would not be caught dead near.

They had both grown so much since then, both changed in ways you couldn't see on the outside.

When Duncan came over to her apartment the day before his birthday, she knew exactly what to give him.

Courtney dusted the snow from his jacket and led him to the couch, a small box in hand.

He opened it eagerly, a smile on his face. It quickly changed to a perplexed look as he turned back to face Courtney.

"A key...?" He asked, eyebrow raised.

Courtney nodded, biting her lower lip. "I thought it would be easier for you to have your own...when you move in."

Duncan stared at her for a moment before attempting to say something and failing. He opened and closed his mouth enough times to make Courtney giggle, leaning in to kiss him.

"Move in with me," was whispered against his lips. He didn't need to respond with words.

It took two years of decorating and then redecorating and then Courtney moving things when she thought Duncan wouldn't notice (and he did pretend not to) until she was happy with the change.

Duncan cooked breakfast. Courtney found it hard to break her routine. He didn't force her to stay and eat if she wanted to go out, but she tried her best. He was patient with her and they compromised as much as they could.

And they fought. They fought, not as if they hated each other, but as if they both had something to lose.

They conquered his doubt. Things had always gone badly between the two of them, Duncan was worried he would mess things up again. But Courtney was there to reassure him every day. They were older, they were better.

Courtney worked late a lot; the struggles of making her way into such a big industry. When they were younger, this took a toll on Duncan, and Courtney always worried it would again. But every night she would come home to find him curled up in the armchair, with either some action movie he knew she wouldn't want to watch or more often, his studies keeping him occupied.

She was surprised one night to come home to find the lights dimmed. She followed, intrigued, the soft sound of music coming from the kitchen. She stopped in the doorway, looking at the spread before her.

"Shit," Duncan cursed softly near the stove. "You're home early."

"What's all this?" She asked, not hiding her delight having come home to a candlelit dinner.

"I-I wanted to surprise you. You work so hard and I...I wanted to do something nice." He took her hands, bashfully ducking his head.

Courtney pecked his lips. "This is a little more than nice, Duncan."

He led her to the table, pulling out her seat. Courtney couldn't keep the smile from her face, even as she talked through her day at work. Duncan nodded along, listening to as much as he could stomach before changing the conversation.

Duncan cleared his throat, taking Courtney's hand from the table in his own.

"I love you a lot, Courtney. And-And I didn't think you would ever let me have the chance to get to prove it to you again. I know I've messed up a lot in the past, and I am so grateful that we get to put that behind us. I want us to keep moving forward, and I will keep showing you that we're doing something right here for as long as you will let me."

Duncan slid from his chair, down on one knee.

"Will you marry me?"

Tables with white cloths, and colourful bunting hanging between trees decorated the gardens at the beginning of summer. The dimming sun proof of a long, tiring, exciting day behind them all.

Guests chittered away, taking their final photographs before dark while leaving the young, now-married couple alone on the dancefloor for a moment.

Courtney rested her head on Duncan's chest, holding him close. Her dress brushed the floor slightly but she didn't mind.

"When you first messaged me to meet up I was scared," she admitted, just loud enough for the two of them to hear. Duncan didn't interrupt. "But then you were there and we were laughing and you asked me out again...and I just knew that things were different. We were different. I knew things would be better this time."

Duncan took Courtney chin with one hand, pressing his lips against hers as he planned to do every day for the rest of his life.

"I knew it was you. From the moment I laid my eyes on you, Princess; it was always you."

A/N: Hello ladies and gentlepeople. It is I, back on my Duncney bullshit.

Two things happened. One I fell into an hour long Total Drama tumblr spiral which made me miss this place, and Two Taylor Swift released her album Lover which turned me into a gooey-mess all weekend.

I read sooo many tumblr posts about unfinshed fanfiction in this fandom and honestly I felt so called out! So two hours later, here we are!

I have missed this place. This is my home.

Love, ChloeRhiannonX