you can zing your arrow into my buttocks any time. (bluesunsets) wrote in depthsoffire,
you can zing your arrow into my buttocks any time.
bluesunsets
depthsoffire

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72. (fnl) we burn our hands (6/6).

we burn our hands (6/6).
new york pisses rain. julie moves on -- baggage follows. friday night lights. tim/julie. r. 11 140 words.
for: whenitsquiet for fnl_santa. requested: A long(ish) Tim/Julie fanfiction (relationship fic, can be smutty).
an: sorry, life got in the way and i hope that you enjoy this. thanks for sticking with me this long. i hope this is ~complete enough. ;). ♥



When he comes through the door, she attacks.

“What do you want to do today?” she stands, hands on her hips, and she tries to soften the hard angles of her elbows. She’s expecting something, and she knows it’s readable on her face that her plan to make his last few days in New York a highlight of his out-of-Dillion life.

He grins; fingers tap against the envelopes and thin catalogues in his hand as he comes to place them at the kitchen table beside her. “You gotta stop askin’ me that.”

Julie looks away, shrugging her shoulders in a minor defeat as he’s a quicker tool in the shed than what anyone gives him credit for. He comes to stand before her, arms light on her hips; she doesn’t look up at him, instead focusing her gaze on her bare feet and his stained cowboy boots.

“What do you want to do today?”

Biting the inside of her lip, Julie inhales, her hands coming to rest at his elbows, “Football?”

Tim cocks his head to the side, that stupid grin in place, and she blushes at his amusement. “Really?”

She shrugs, “Fresh air is good for you?”

Pressing his mouth into a line, Tim lifts her up onto the kitchen table, “That it is.”

*

Julie thinks the park has started to grow on her days too late. His smile brightens when he tosses the worn football in the air and catches it with ease. “You got me a football,” he grins, spinning so he’s walking backwards slowly.

She shrugs, “I like buying dogs new toys.” Flicking her hand, she rests the backs of her palms against her hips as she looks around the park, the sun belting down as she wishes she’d had the sense – like him – to bring her sunglasses. He’s still stuck in his Aviator phase, thinking they’re cool or something.

Tim shrugs, “Something we have in common there, Taylor,” he tosses her the football, which she allows to hit her in the shoulder. “The whole point to passing is for you to catch it.”

“I wasn’t ready,” she pulls her eyebrows together, bending down and picking up the football. She spins it lightly in her hands as he just grins.

“You’re not supposed to. Be on constant alert, Taylor. Did Powderpuff tell you nothing?”

She rolls her eyes, tosses him the football and wrings her hands together; the sleeves of her white and red striped jacket pull over her fingers. “I was picked third. So, yeah, it did.”

His mouth slants, shrugging, as he passes it back. “Stripes,” his lips pull at it and she sees her reflection, all timid, blurred in his Aviator glasses, “I would’ve picked you.”

She laughs, fingers curling instinctively around the football as he releases it, “Yeah. If you’re head wasn’t so full of Lyla Garrity and her Godly charm.” She tosses it a little hard, the loose flow of her arms forming an arc from her hips to somewhere on her chest causes him to smile at the small impact of the force she pushed against the ball. “Then, maybe,” she feels like she owes him this little bit, “I’d believe you.”

Tim inhales, spins the football in his hands before tossing it back to her, “I was an idiot in high school.” She scoffs, and he nods, grinning, as if coming to terms with the facts she presents in a single huff of you’re kidding? “I’m not sayin’ anythin’ else. You may be Mrs Coach’s daughter, but it don’t mean you’re her.”

“Doesn’t,” she flips the football before throwing it back, the force behind it lighter than the previous pass.

Tim shrugs, “Same thing.”

She cocks an eyebrow, “No, it’s not. And you wouldn’t have picked me. There was that whole Matt thing and … Lyla was a constant in your life, so …” She drifts off, feeling her hands turning the football over as Tim waits, patience flowing off of him as she picks up her leg and tries to toss it at him like a Dillon Panther. “Just don’t be doing me any favours by saying shit like that.” He catches it, like she knew he would, and he grins, like he’s proud or something, or maybe he’s not listening to her, before he tosses her the ball like she’s too fragile to be worthy of a Dillon Panther football pass. She catches the football, stumbling a little, and maybe that monologue was right. She sighs, tossing it back, “You bullshit too much.”

“You talk too much,” he smiles, like it’s a joke, and she rolls her eyes as he spins the ball before pausing it, hands gripping it hard between his palms, fingers curling over the top of it as it looks like an overlarge egg in his hands. “I think it’s about time we knock the wind out of ya, Taylor. Give you a reason to have a real shower.”

She rolls her eyes, watches him pass her the ball and grin when she catches it with a clap of her hands, “Whatever you’re up to, I’m not doing it. I’ll kick you out.”

“You won’t,” he grins, and he moves quickly, arms encircling her waist and she feels herself lose her breath as she makes contact with the hard ground. “Can’t kick me out if you can’t move,” Tim hovers over her, arms on either side of her shoulders and his legs wrap around hers like string.

Julie hugs the football closer to her, trying to pull her elbows in as Tim’s arms shuffle closer, “This is a public place, Tim.”

“Don’t worry me,” he shrugs, mouth landing on her neck to peck sound kisses against. He makes a show, pokes his tongue out at random spots, chuckles to himself as she sighs, rolling her eyes, trying to kick his feet away.

“Doesn’t,” she shuffles as he nips at her ear, grinning as he pushes his tongue out. He’s constantly giving her cause to roll her eyes.

He pulls back, nose barely touching hers; at moments, he lightly pushes it against hers, and he’s wearing this proud grin on his face as he pulls back, eyes scanning over her. “And it shouldn’t worry you,” he shifts, hands shuffling closer to her, the heel of his palm ghosting over the top of her shoulder. “This ain’t Dillon. Live a little, Taylor. Live large in the Big Apple or whatever fruit this place is.”

She narrows his eyes as he leans forward, pressing his lips to hers. The resolve she tries to build scatters as she forgets the football pressing between their chests and curves her palms around his cheeks, fingers barely hitting his hair.

Any opportunity he has to speak against her lips, he takes like a thirsty man devoid of water, “Now I wish Powderpuff went something like this.” Shit-eating grin is just a bonus.

*

When Tim’s out shopping for god-knows-what, Julie calls Tyra. It’s by the latter’s request – Tim likes to pick up the other phone and make comments that start up wars between the two. To save her eardrum, Julie calls when Tim’s out, and that’s becoming quite often.

Tyra sighs on her end, covering the mouthpiece with her hand as she yells at her roommate she claims is a hippie stuck in the wrong time zone for the fifth time. “Sorry about that. Flower insists to speak like she’s the only goddamn person on the planet.” Julie doesn’t understand why Tyra switched rooms with several people to end up at a dead end with a girl who insists that Big Bird is actually the reason why the sun is so yellow. “Anyway, Landry hasn’t stopped calling me. He’s like bloody Seth Cohen.”

Julie laughs, “Yeah? What’s it about this time? And, please,” she moves to the fridge, opening the door as it unsticks and looks around the shelves for something she can’t put her finger on. “spare me the pornographic details.”

Tyra scoffs, “It’s about Matt,” her voice deflates. “I wasn’t gonna tell you, but …”

Julie straightens, the hand curled around the fridge door falls against her side, “Is he okay?”

“Yeah, yeah, he’s fine or something. It’s just – he’s been down. Landry’s affected by it, you know, because they’re tied at the hip.” Tyra breathes; the voices in the background pick up, “I was just wondering if you were okay.”

Julie nods, “Yeah, sure.”

“Okay,” Tyra’s voice picks up as the frustration she tries to block from her voice tramples as she clicks her teeth loudly, “make sure you call me if you ever want to talk.”

She nods, closing the fridge with a light smack and she twirls on the spot, looking at the blank television. “Thanks Tyra.”

“And, just a heads up,” she seems to growl, a movement on her side as her voice hushes, “when I’m in prison for killing Powder, bake me a cake with a nail file?”

*

Spice World inspires an impromptu lets-get-naked rendezvous. Tim’s suggestion, not hers.

“We should try doing this to Spice Girls one day,” he laughs against her mouth, hands hot against her sides as she keeps her palms curled around his shoulders, holding her up. Tim tangles his feet in the sheets, hers along with it, and she’s trapped as his hands push on her bare lower back, bringing their lower bodies together.

His hands spread her, trailing over the back of her legs to her back and pushes her on him. She gasps, mouth pausing on his moving one as she grins slowly, “Ruin my childhood, Tim.”

“With pleasure,” he grins, moving his hips in a way that has her mouth open against his, eyes closed, and she lets out a groan as he keeps shifting below her.

His mouth is heavy on hers, hands sliding up her back as she finds a rhythm he picks up and he’s traded Sporty-Spice-is-hotter-than-Beckham-Spice for his usual Tim-Riggins-Talking-Dirty grin as he grounds into her, her knees pressing hard against the sheets. He breaks it off, flipping them; their feet wrapped in a tight cocoon that leaves their legs at an odd angle as he kisses her neck and keeps shifting.

She wraps her legs around his waist, pulling him deeper, and she moves her hips with his until she feels herself coming apart with tiny stars and Tim’s shit-eating grin imprinting against the side of her breast as he rocks against her, riding it out.

Breathing heavy in her ear, he pulls himself half over her, head resting on the pillow as his hand runs over the slope of her nose. “Sporty is hotter than Posh.”

Julie tries to catch her breath, toes flexing against his ankle, “I think the manager is hotter than all of them combined.”

He slings his arm under her breasts, hand finding her elbow at an awkward bend of his wrist, and he kisses her shoulder. “I was gonna say you were hotter than all the Spices combined, but after that … I’ll have to reconsider.”

Julie mock gasps, hand clutching at his arm, “I take it back!”

“You can’t. Once it’s out there, it’s out there.” He presses his lips together, running a finger along her shoulder, “You’ll just have to come second-best to Sporty.”

She laughs, shaking her head, “I think I can come up with something that’ll make me number one.”

He raises his eyebrows, a pull at his lip as he shuffles into the blankets, becoming comfortable. “Really?”

Julie nods, her cheeks shifting to support a grin as she wriggles from beneath his arm and presses her lips to his neck. Tim chuckles, and she hushes him, pressing kisses, open-mouthed and wet, poking her tongue out against him in a mimic of what he does, and she descends slowly down his chest. She passes his bellybutton when she can sense that amused grin fade from his face.

“I’m not anywhere else,” she says, pressing the words into his skin, “so don’t use that as a cop-out because you’re a pussy.” He arches slightly, stomach tense underneath her mouth at her use of language; she likes taking him by surprise whenever she can.

“Jules –”

Resting her chin against his skin, her fingers run up and down his thighs, “I’m doing this because I want to, not because I’m indebted. So shut up or I’ll bite it off.” She shifts down, waiting for that protest, the slide of his hips away from her.

When she kisses him with a light peck he tenses, throat working to form some words of protest, make up an excuse for her to not do this, to not allow her to damage this vision of her he must have if he’s so persistent in not having this. He’s hard, and she hasn’t done this in a while, doesn’t exactly like doing it, but it’s Tim and the way he shuffles slightly beneath her, hands gripping the sheets and with his soft panting that he fails to cover up as it morphs into a humming growl, she figures it’s worth the discomfort she feels until she works up a rhythm.

She starts transitioning into all those things Tyra used to rattle off about, sort of hinting in a subtle way the things Tim likes as it’s been embedded into her – even with Landry – and Julie’s so glad for the slips as Tim relaxes, for a moment, before she shifts into what she guesses is his role when he’s here, mouth wet and hot and tongue pushing against her. Her fingers skim and push, trying to coax him with something that isn’t Tyra Collette and high school. She mimics him in ways, dragging her tongue over him with that shit-eating grin she knows the feeling of when imprinted onto flesh.

It’s different, like he said, but when he says her name in this croaked voice, all defenceless and at her mercy, she wishes she had done it a while ago.

*

Tim shuffles out of the bed sluggishly, legs kicking her awake as she hears him pad down the stairs and flick on the kitchen light. He’s clicking at her loud phone, the buttons being pressed rapidly due to a memorised number, and she’ll assure herself that she’s not listening in because Tim sometimes talks as loud as her mother.

“Hey,” he says, and she shuffles in the bed, wrapping the sheets around her as she feels a little too bare for this conversation. She doesn’t think it’s Billy as his voice sort of softens on the second “Hey,” elaborating it with an amused sounding “you sound tired.”

She tries to press her face into the pillow to muffle out his words. “Yeah, I got it.” Julie rolls onto her back, trying to count the vague ceiling shadows in an attempt to drown out Tim’s late-night booty call. “It wasn’t necessary. I already got one. Yeah, Jules split with me.”

Tim pulls a stool from the kitchen table, the scrape carrying up the stairs and echoes loudly, instead of softly, in her ears. “I dunno, it’s pretty serious. Yeah, I am pretty serious,” he speaks in pauses, a light frustration coating his tone as he sighs. “I think I’m coming to Dillon, but I dunno when, so don’t ask. I know Billy’s been with ya.”

He can’t seem to sit still as the stool scrapes slightly and he’s padding around soundly, “Look, I thought we already spoke about this before either of us did anything. I waited until it was the end. I didn’t piss off to New York when we were on a break.” Tim pauses here, a sigh, and his voice is softer, lower, a hum of vibrations that cause that dreaded lead to resurface and take home in her stomach, “I thought it was over, Lyla.”

The movements downstairs halt, “Yeah, I am too. And yeah, I pretty much am.”

There’s silence, and Julie twists, toes picking at the sheets as Tim stays noiseless for some time. “See ya” clicks the phone off.

Tim doesn’t come up for a few hours.

*

Tim finds her on her bedroom floor, Matt’s shirt gripped tightly in her hands. He comes to sit behind her, like he always seems to be doing, and envelopes her within his legs as his arms slide around her stomach and his chin takes place on her shoulder. “Everythin’ okay?”

Julie nods, breathing in deeply as she scrunches the shirt into a thick ball, “Yeah,” she pushes it to the side, trying to shove it underneath her bed for the monsters and dust bunnies to devour. “Just cleaning.”

“It’s not spring yet,” Tim grins, pressing his lips to the side of her neck.

She rolls her eyes, “I know. We’re watching a movie tonight, and I need to find it,” she buries her hands inside a cardboard box she keeps Dillon in. It’s caving in on itself, with tapes and letters and some odd knickknacks from the house.

Tim tries to peek over her shoulder, “You’ve decided on a movie you can’t find?”

“I know it’s in here,” Julie bites her lip, hands gripping onto letters with torn envelopes and placing them on a sloppy pile beside her. “I just don’t remember which box.”

“Maybe you don’t have it?”

“You pulled it out a while ago,” her fingers pull at tapes with her mother’s scribble, things about Gracie and messages they felt the need to send her from Austin.

Tim sighs, flattening his hands on her stomach as Julie reaches the base of the box and all she’s been able to find are envelopes, Landry Clarke’s home videos on how to successfully conform to the big city, and Tyra’s post-it notes of reminders and inspirational quotes to help her survive. He pulls his hands away, running his fingers through her hair as he draws it to a side, kissing her neck, up and down and in a random pattern. It’s like fingers tracing pictures on her back. “That spice movie is downstairs on the table.”

Shifting so she can see him, he’s pulled back, shit-eating grin in place, and she flicks his ear.

*

“You have two more weeks left and you want to go to a party?” she places her hands on her hips, eyebrows pulled together, as Tim’s making himself a sandwich. He’s using half of her freshly bought loaf. “Do you need to eat half the bread?”

He grins, layering on the butter thickly as he flickers through several pieces, “Yeah, let’s go. It’ll be fun; give you a chance to become friends with Carla or something.”

Julie finds herself biting her tongue, pausing, blinking to hide the irritation that’s forming a firm grip on her tone. “Carla?”

Tim doesn’t look up from layering jam on his bread. It’s like a blanket of thick snow; she can see the mountains of jam from the edge of the stairs. “Yeah, third floor, nice. We spoke a couple of times.”

She nods to herself as she looks to the side, bringing her arms to cross over her chest. Her hands curl into loose fists as she feels her energy disintegrate. “Well, you have a nice time, Tim.”

He laughs, “Why are you being like this? She wants you over. She invited us.” He drags his finger along the flat surface of the knife, licking the jam latched onto it, and drops the cutlery into the sink. He’s back at the counter, another knife, sharper, in hand as he cuts his sandwich into a shape. “Do I need to untwist your panties?”

She glares, “There’s no need for untwisting. I just didn’t know when you two became so buddy-buddy.”

Tim draws his tongue over his bottom lip and finishes bisecting his bread before carrying the knife to the sink to join the blunter one. He moves to the fridge, back to her, and speaks into it, like it’ll absorb his words and not simply bounce them off to hit her sharply in the gut. “When we had that thing,” he shrugs, though the movement is jarred by his hunched figure, “I just needed to speak with someone.” He grabs the carton of milk out, leaving the door open as he opens a cupboard for a glass, “Is that so bad?”

Julie bites her lip, “No,” she shakes her head, “it’s not. But she’s leggy!” She throws her palm out, curling her fingers in as she points at him. “She’s leggy and gorgeous and a brunette.” She bites her tongue when she wants to reference his tastes and how he clings and changes with that particular hair colour.

New starts don’t happen when the past is still held onto.

Breathing in, she drops her arm to her side, shrugging, “Whatever, it doesn’t matter. It’s important to you. So let’s go to some girl’s place where you’ll end up in the bedroom doing god-knows-what while Fred or that dude with the parrot fetish chats me up.”

Tim’s grinning, moving towards her as he settles his plate with a small tower of bread cut into big triangles onto the table in front of the couch. He stands in front of her, placing his arms in the back pockets of her jeans and pulling her closer to him, “I like you when you’re psychotic.”

She rolls her eyes, “It’s not psychotic. It’s facts. Pure fact.” Julie’s hands find his waist, using it as a balance as she tries to lean away from him to prove her point. She thinks distance may do that, as being too close to Tim makes her think stupid things and act upon them. “Tim, she is a leggy brunette with tight jeans and did I mention the legs that go for miles? I have short legs and blonde hair with the same hairstyle I had in high school. I didn’t walk out of some Vogue catalogue.”

Tim nods, pursing his lips, pulling her slightly leaning figure closer to him, “Definitely delusional.”

She rolls her eyes, planting her hands on his chest, pushing herself away, “Tim, I’m being serious.”

“Seriously delusional,” he creases his brows, moving a hand to settle between her shoulder blades to pull her against him. She turns her cheek into his chest, sliding her arms from being pressed between their bodies and wrapping them loosely around his waist. “She’s just some girl I talk to on occasion.”

“And Fred’s just some guy who leaves bananas on my doorstep,” she turns into his chest, pressing her mouth into the fabric of his shirt as his hand moves to her lower back and pulls circles with her shirt.

“Jules,” he moves his mouth to her forehead, pushing hot air onto her skin and she stills, eyes closed as she wraps her arms tighter around his back. “You’re an idiot. I like short, blonde idiots with really long hair who wear stripes every day.”

Opening her eyes, she sways a little on the spot, pulling her with him as he presses a kiss to her hairline. She feels his chin rest on the top of her head and his hands slowly running up and down her back. “I’m not an idiot,” she tries to pull a grin, “you’re the idiot.”

He laughs, “I’m not anywhere else.” Adjusting his arms, he wraps her tighter in the cocoon and pulls her into a light sway when she tries to still. Pressing a kiss into her hair, she feels his breath tickle the strands and her scalp, “I’m an idiot if you’re an idiot.”

Julie rolls her eyes, “You don’t win any points for butchering a quote from a movie.”

He shrugs, a smile pressed into her hair, “Had to try.”

*

“Living to the legend, Stripes?” Tim grins, arms wrapping around her waist as he presses kisses into her neck. Her dress is red with white stripes running in a horizontal direction. It was a dress Tyra had bought her when she bothered to come to New York with the little money she had from working at Applebees and another diner neither of them can recall the name of.

She rolls her eyes, pushing him away as she tries to clip her earrings on. Mom sent her hoop earrings she’s always wanted ever since graduation a couple of days ago, and she figures, despite the gnawing in her stomach, that this occasion calls for them to be worn. “Tim,” she turns to look at him, pressing a smile to her lips. Tapping his cheek, she gives him a quick kiss on the nose, “Shut up.”

He grins, hands settling on her hips as she pulls some lip gloss from a drawer. “You know, you look good as you are.”

She shrugs, “I like aiming high.”

Tim shakes his head, fingers pressing an uneven rhythm into her hips, “You’re delusional. I’m not telling you what you wanna hear.”

“I don’t want to hear anything,” she says, pushing the lip gloss stick against her lips before screwing on the cap. “You ready to go?” She turns around, his hands hovering over her hips as she shifts before landing on them again.

“I was born ready.”

She rolls her eyes as he grabs her hand and leads her down the stairs, her boots thudding against them. He grabs her purse from the kitchen table and pockets the apartment keys in his jeans.

He holds her hand all the way to the third floor, and even inside the apartment, she’s shocked to still feel the warmth of his fingers pressing into the back of her hand still there.

So she underestimates him. She’s not used to this.

Stopping, she surveys the room, familiar faces hunched in their groups as the apartment is foreign to her. She wonders if Tim feels out of his element here. Feeling the press of his lips ghost over the shell of her ear, he almost yells “I’m going to go make the rounds” into her ear before his hand slips from hers like water. Tim’s made the impact she’s still trying to make on these people.

Furrowing her brows, she moves in the opposite direction, examining the walls of the apartment before she finds Martha sitting on a single chair with a glass in her hand. There’s a little umbrella she’s started to cherish and it’s become accustomed to see Martha with one somewhere on her person. “Howdy,” she rolls her eyes, and pats the edge of the armchair.

Julie sits on it, pushing her legs together and pulling at the hem of her dress, “Enjoying it so far?”

Martha shrugs, “Sort of like Fred’s – except there’s a keg somewhere. I’m getting vibrations.” Julie rolls her eyes as Martha takes a sip of her drink, “McArms here?”

“You’re still not over that?”

She shakes her head, “No. I like to appreciate.”

“Do you know Carla?”

Martha laughs, “She’s okay.”

Julie nods; hands curling over her knees as she watches the small throng of people seem to expand in front of her very eyes. She’s shifting into high school mode again and anytime soon Riley’s going to appear, plastic cups filled to the brim gripped between his hands, and Tim’s coming to the rescue.

Martha places a hand on Julie’s arm, “You’ve got nothing to worry about.”

Julie nods.

*

Twenty minutes and a broken umbrella later, Tim finds her, glass in his hand and a grin on his face. He’s glowing, and this pulls a small smile across her lips.

“Hey,” he says, standing before her, hands sort of on his hips as she pulls her dress down as if it’s been cut to mid-thigh. Throwing a hand over his shoulder, he grins at her, “Wanna dance?”

“Knock yourself out,” Martha says from around the broken umbrella. She slaps Julie’s arm and grabs her purse as Julie pushes herself off the armchair. “Don’t do anything I’d do,” she calls out as Tim guides Julie into the middle of the living room.

Some people are dancing like it’s high school, and she stands there, looking over her shoulder, wondering what’s going on through Tim’s head. The glass in his hand has vanished as he steps closer to her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulls her to him. “Having fun?”

She shrugs, wrapping her arms around his neck, “Yeah, I guess.” Her eyes are still focussed on the others; attention being drawn to the kitchen as loud bouts of laughter elicit from there. “You?”

“Am now,” he grins, and she rolls her eyes when she dares him a glance. Tim sighs, his shoulders move as if the very movement lifted some sort of weight from his shoulders, “You okay?”

She nods, swallowing, “Yeah. Am now,” she grins, and Tim ducks his head. “I’m sorry for going all high school girl on you.”

He shrugs his shoulders, “Feel free to anytime.” She feels his fingers flex, fingertips grabbing onto the loose fabric of her dress, “Preferably with a uniform.”

Julie slaps his shoulder, pulling herself to him as she rests her cheek on his chest and wraps her arms around his waist. “You’re a pig.”

He rests his cheek on her hair, pressing a kiss into it, “Whatever you say, Stripes.”

Drawing her eyebrows together, she purses her lips, even though he can’t exactly see her face, and shifts against his shirt, “This isn’t even a Spice Girls song.”

Tim rubs his palm in circles on her back, swaying with her as a fast-tempo song plays again. Julie stops herself from saying Speak of the devil as Tim seems to grip her a little tighter. He seems to laugh, air moving across her scalp the first time that night in the heated apartment, and he presses his lips to her hair, “It’s fated.”

“Destiny is bullshit,” grinning, she looks up at him, rolling her eyes dramatically as she presses her palms flat onto his back. Running a palm up and down his back, she feels his shirt follow, wrinkling slightly as it pulls out from the waistband of his jeans that they were barely tucked into. She slides her hand onto his back, feeling his hot skin burning her palm.

He presses his mouth to hers, mumbling a ticklish “You’re finally learning” with that shit-eating smile that feels so great against her lips.

*

Julie decides that it’s best to let go of the past to accept the present. Tim catches her in her room, wrapping a shirt with wrapping paper supporting Christmas. “What’s that?” he comes to sit behind her, legs enveloping her. He pulls himself to her until there’s no room between his chest and her back, and he leans his chin on her shoulder, arms around her middle, as he watches her yank at tape and stick down the paper neatly.

“Matt’s shirt,” she says, ripping at tape and applying a third layer to a seam. She figures being blunt is the best way to go, and with Tim stiffening, arms moving a bit tighter around her stomach, she thinks that maybe it was a good choice. “I thought it was about time he had it back.”

“I doubt he misses it,” he turns his head, hot air pushes against her neck, and his hand fiddles with her ponytail. He shrugs, shifting to watch her press tape against the package, “It’s just a shirt.”

She shakes her head, “It’s a piece of him that I can’t keep anymore. For reasons hopefully you’re aware of.”

He grins, pressing a kiss to her cheek, “Are you callin’ me oblivious?”

Julie shrugs, his chin fitting back on her shoulder, “Maybe. You never know, Tim. I could be simply insinuating something.”

“Like a bare-all rendezvous on the stairs?”

She rolls her eyes, “Sure. I’ll leave you and whatever you need to get off alone for a few hours.”

“So you’re going to mail Matt his shirt,” Tim nods as he tries to process this. He’s trying to see her underlying message; looking at him from the corner of her eye, his brows are furrowed as he tries to figure out exactly what she’s saying to Matt Saracen and – most likely – him. “Without a card.”

She nods, “Pretty much,” she rips at tape again, pressing it crookedly across the Christmas paper. “Words will only hurt him further and I can’t give him more reason to hate me or cling on.”

“He doesn’t hate you, Jules,” he says quietly, and she doesn’t believe him as his fingers start kneading at her stomach. “No one could,” he murmurs, and she pauses in her taping, pressing a finger hard into the package.

“You think it’s secure enough?”

Tim laughs, “Hell yeah. That baby’s not gonna be opened within the next decade.”

*

The Doomsday Clock is ticking and Tim’s time is almost up.

He tells her to get dressed in something fancy as he throws on jeans and a green dress shirt. He sits on the kitchen table, whistling, throwing out “Hurry up” and “Get your move on” at random intervals as he’s paying for something expensive and she’s going to protest until the bill arrives.

Hand on the rail, she rolls her eyes as he shouts again, focus on something in the distance, and she moves down the stairs, brown boots thumping against the stairs. This catches his attention; she feels his eyes survey her green dress. “We’re quite a pair,” he grins, whistling low as she shakes her head, feeling a blush scrape against her cheeks. He jumps off the table and meets her at the last one, taking her hand and pulling her down. “You look good in green.”

“We’re going, Tim. No stair rendezvous tonight. Or ever,” she grins, grabbing her purse from the couch.

Tim pouts, pulling her along with him, “Well, you’ll like this place. And then you’ll be reconsidering your stance on that.”

Julie rolls her eyes, “Sure.”

*

Tim takes her to McDonald’s.

“You’re a cheap date,” she laughs as he holds the door open for her, bowing, “and we’ve never eaten at McDonald’s. I thought Starbucks was our place.”

He stands behind her, hands on her hips as he urges her forward to the counter, “Yeah, well, this would’ve been our second place. Besides, it was closer, and you’re wearing ridiculous shoes.”

“They’re not ridiculous,” she curls her hands around the edge of the front desk, looking up at the menu as Tim’s hot against her back.

He eyes her legs for the seventh time that night and murmurs “Definitely not” into her hair.

“I’ll have a Happy Meal, thanks,” Julie grins, as Tim orders something like a Big Mac with extra lettuce. He pays, flicking out his hand with a couple of notes before she has the chance to click her purse open.

Taking their food, he guides her to a corner near a window looking out at the street. “This is our thing,” he places her meal in front of her, and grins at the little carton it comes in. “Watching people outside the window. This is ours.” He unwraps his burger as she opens the folds of her box, “A Happy Meal?”

“Easier to order, plus I get a drink and chips.”

He rolls his eyes.

*

They end up back home after a few hours of People Watching, as Tim has dubbed it.

Julie wraps her arms around his neck, pulling herself to press against him, cheek nestling into the scratchy fabric of his green dinner shirt. His hands slide down her dress to meet at the small of her back, chin resting on the top of her head. “What’s this for?”

She blinks, shrugging, “This is your last night in New York.”

He nods, lips press against her hair, “Yeah,” he settles his chin back, slightly digging into her scalp, “it is.”

“You want to do anything?”

He shakes his head, “Already doin’ it.” He grins when she looks up at him, and she rolls her eyes. Shit-eating grin from Texas slots into place, and she thinks he’s ready, prepared, for the sudden shift in scenery for tomorrow.

“Well,” she stretches, pressing against the tips of her toes in her shoes, “I’m going to use the bath.” She kisses his chin, keeps her eyes on the tip of his nose, “Since you say it never gets used.”

He grins, palms rubbing up and down, pulling her dress with the slight movements, “Good advice, you know.”

Biting her lip, Julie nods, kisses the side of his neck, “You’re not getting the hint.”

“There’s a hint?”

She rolls her eyes, presses her palms to his chest, and her finger traces a button on his shirt. “You are so dense sometimes.”

He grins, “I’ll be down here,” his fingers clench at the fabric of her dress, “watching Lost or something equally ridiculous.”

She nods, fingers pull against the fabric, and she takes a step backward, “Can’t forget those polar bears.”

“Shit, I gotta work out where they came from. I promised Jay.”

“Okay,” she runs her hands down her sides, smoothing out her dress, “I’m going to go.” She points to the stairs and Tim ducks his head, stupid grin on his face.

Julie refuses to acknowledge the potential of him plotting something.

*

Julie sinks into the water, holding her breath and counting to the highest number she can before resurfacing. It’s a game she’s never grown out of. The bath is filled with a thick layer of bubbles due to her squeezing a little too hard on the bottle.

She can’t hear anything from downstairs – or upstairs – with the door closed, and she sort of wishes she’d left it open, even the tiniest crack, so she could hear him down there, for the last time. She wants to savour it, having another person taking up room in her home. She didn’t realise how much she missed sharing space until Tim showed up on her doorstep with inside jokes and not many words on his lips.

Sinking back into the tub, she can’t hear anything except for the lapping of the bath water due to her movements and wriggling legs. She can never get comfortable in these things.

“Are you tryin’ to drown yourself, Bubbles?” he says, crouched at the side of the tub, and she jumps, blinking the water from her eyes. He dips his hand into the tower of bubbles and blows them at her. They stick mostly to his fingers, like cotton candy, while some of the clumps fall to the bathmat.

She pushes her sticky bangs into her hair, “No,” she blinks, water still slipping into her eyes, “I wasn’t.” She licks her lips and slides further down into the water, stopping as it pushes and pulls against her chin. “What happened to the polar bears?”

He shrugs, hand skidding across the side of the tub, “Got shot.”

“Sawyer is a bastard,” she wiggles her toes, trying to kick some of the bubbles away.

Tim bows his head, fingers working at the buttons of his dress shirt; she watches him with a cocked brow, the water stilling around her as he leaves the shirt hanging on his shoulders. He stands up, hands working at his belt before pulling down his jeans.

“What are you doing?”

He hooks his thumbs into the waistline of the jeans, pulling them down and stepping out of them as he pulls at his boxers. “What does it look like?” She raises her hands with a shrug, looking comical, she thinks, because there’s a pull at the corner of his lip, and he sighs, grinning as he shrugs off the shirt. Bending down, his hand finds her leg underneath the thick bubbles and slaps it. She pulls herself up, legs pushing to the side, and he steps in, “Taking a hint.”

When he’s in, the water splashes, threatening to tip over the rim, and his back is to her, everything so awkward as she tries to press herself against the slope of the back of the tub as Tim tries to fit his too-long-for-anything legs in. He sits between her legs, back pressed against her front, and he’s slid down, knees bent and protruding through the bubbles.

He grins, “This is nice.”

“Maybe for you,” she squirms, his hands bolting to her legs as she tries to get comfortable. “I was having a nice time here.”

Tim hums, one of his hands slides up and down her leg in the water, “Is that why you invited me to join you?”

“That was before I realised you’re like a little kid with a rubber duck.”

Tim chuckles, shifting to the side as he leans against her shoulder, stilling his erratic movements and the flicks of his palm that teases the water; she wraps her arms around his chest, resting the side of her head against his dry hair. “This is nice,” he says again, though a little more sober and there’s a lone finger running the length of her thigh. She lets it sink in, the words, his tone, and the watery pressure on her leg.

She presses a kiss into his hair, arms tightening around him, “Yeah,” she breathes, finding herself blinking back that burning sensation she’ll chalk up to the water being in her eyes, “it is.” Pressing her mouth into his shoulder, she mumbles “Do you have to go?” like the teenager she once was. Lives and families never played much of a significant role when it came to being left behind by someone you cared for. She feels selfish, that ridiculous pressure tracing along her spine like his fingers at night, a hard push against her skin so he can touch the bone.

He pulls himself up, her with him, and his hands cup her knees, squeezing. Looking over his shoulder, she presses her mouth more firmly into the warm skin there, “Yeah,” he says, blinks sluggish like his breathing, “Billy needs me.”

She presses a kiss to his shoulder, nodding, “Okay,” as her hands press firmly against his stomach. Julie doesn’t want to let him go.

“I’d stay –” he watches her, eyes following her slight movements, like the nudge of her nose to his shoulder and the turn of her head as she presses her cheek there. He doesn’t continue from there, lets it drift over the water.

When he doesn’t pick up, she sighs, “But Billy needs you.” After a few breaths, he nods, turning his focus on the other end of the tub. It looks so small with him in it. It feels tiny, especially with his legs bent and his feet propped up against the opposite end, toes barely visible through the bobbing water and bubbles. “I don’t want to make you regret leaving,” she presses closer to him, knees bending to hold him to her, “because he’s your family and when your family needs you, you go.” Lifting her palms from his stomach to press her fingers against his flesh, she sighs, “That’s what my father taught me. Family is everything.”

Tim seems to teeter forward a little more, hair curtaining his face, a move she pulls too frequently when she wants to hide away from something. Flattering her palms, she tries to hug herself to him, give him some reassurance that whatever is going through his mind is okay. “You’re family,” he says, and the slight movements of their fidgeting cause the water to almost swallow it whole. He’s never been so quiet, has always been loud, in presence and vocals. He sets her off kilter every once in a while.

She smiles, presses a kiss to his back before resting her cheek back down. “Sometimes we have to leave family for others,” she shrugs at this, toes flexing as she tries to wrap her legs around his. It’s more difficult in a tub, with the walls seeming to close in, as a bed is free and what she envisions as a field of poppies; an endless expanse of freedom where rules are forbidden and everything transitions from wonderful to amazing and back again. “Though,” she grins, moving to press her chin against his shoulder, close to his ear, “it doesn’t mean I want you to leave. Not even in the slightest.”

He turns to look at her, hands settling on hers, as he seems to lean back into her. He needs the proof, she thinks, that look on her face to match the tone of her voice and the weight of her words. She feels her chin sinking into the flesh of his shoulder, and she hopes that maybe that’s enough to convince him.

“Whatever this is,” she closes her eyes, bangs seeming to flick off the top of her head and fling to her forehead to stick to, “it’s been great. Like real great,” she grins, opening her eyes, blinking against some of the strands threatening to poke her, “and no matter what happens later, whether you move on or find your way back to someone, I won’t regret it. Not one bit. Not even if I have to attend some wedding.”

Furrowing his brows, the corner of his lip turns up, “I’m not the marryin’ type. And what you’re saying, Taylor, is bullshit. Feedin’ me destiny by giving me a cryptic definition? Not your smartest move yet.”

“Oh,” she grins, a laugh escaping her, and he leans further into her, pushing her slowly to rest back against the slope of the tub, “what has been my smartest move to date?”

She watches his dry eyelashes as he blinks, that shit-eating grin that fills Dillon warmth in her pulls easily at his mouth, “This.” Tim shifts, water lapping violently, and he’s on his side as he presses a kiss to her shoulder. He laughs “Whatever this is” from her shoulder to her neck, teeth nipping at her jaw as he tries to twist. She sends her legs to the far sides of the tub in an attempt to help him.

She rolls her eyes, “You know how I like definitions.”

“You know how I like to tease,” he grins against her mouth, hands settling on either side of her deep in the tub. “Besides, not everything needs a definition, Taylor.”

She shrugs, her hands curling into his shoulders, “Sometimes it helps for future purposes.”

He grins, shifting to sit on his knees, hands on her legs as they’re pressed to the sides of the tub, “I’m not goin’ anywhere.”

She blinks, eyes opening into slits as he presses open-mouthed kisses to her mouth, the corner of her lips, and the tip of her nose, “But you’re leaving.”

“That’s not what I meant,” he pulls back, fingers pressing hard against her knee. His eyes scan her face before dipping to kiss her chin, lining her jaw with kisses before crossing her cheek to glide sloppily to the corner of her lip.

“It still feels the same,” she says, half against his mouth as he slowly moves to settle his against hers. “Still feels like this is goodbye.”

“It’s not,” he presses his nose to hers, before replacing it with his lips, and leans his forehead to hers. “It’s not, Taylor. I suggest you stop readin’ those romance novels you keep stashed under your bed.”

She laughs, “Same can be said for those special magazines slipped so carelessly under my couch.”

“They’re for show,” his hand lifts from her knee, finger flicking drops of water down the side of her face as he traces her skin from her hairline to her ear. “Don’t need them when you’re livin’ with a goddess.”

She laughs, hands flat against his shoulders as she tries to push him half-heartedly away, “Does that line always work?”

He shrugs, “Depends.” He shifts, settling on his knees, hands drifting away from her skin to cup her face as he tilts her head to the slightest angle so she’s looking at him. “See, Jules, here’s the thing. This isn’t goodbye, because I’m not sentimental and I don’t quit. Goodbye is quittin’. I don’t say goodbye. This isn’t goodbye, because I like you, Jules, like really like you. We may not know what this thing is, but it’s fun – the good, real kind, like a livin’-together relationship or somethin’, I don’t know,” he laughs, the pads of his fingers running across her cheeks. She presses her lips together, blinking after long moments to stop that ridiculous burning in her eyes. “But this isn’t goodbye, because I’m not done with you yet.”

She closes her eyes, feeling a tear push through due to the force, and his thumb catches it against her cheek. She smiles, laughs breaths of air as she opens her eyes to see him smiling at her a little shy, face tinted a light pink, “You know when to say the right things.”

He shrugs, that comical expression on his face as his grin widens, exposing his teeth, “I’m not completely incompetent.”

She laughs, shaking her head, “Definitely not.”

*

She wakes at five and shifts, the sheets loose around her as her heart sinks like lead to her chest. She stills, that loss of an arm anchoring her down around her waist is a ghost press that is already fading. Like footprints on a beach, Tim’s touches are fading with the crash of waves competing to get further up the sand. It’s happening all too quickly. She wraps an arm tightly across her abdomen to wish the sensation back.

He’s supposed to be gone by now, probably waiting at the airport for his plane to be announced. She regrets not going with him, sitting in the taxi at the early hour of three just so she could spend a few hours with her head on his shoulder as she drifts back to a nerve-wracking sleep. She closes her eyes to picture it, to relive it, as though she can simply drift back and feel everything; already, as she remembers the curve of his mouth as he laid beside her, hands in her hair, eyes a touch sad, when he tells her to stay, because it’s hard enough for him as it is and leaving her alone in an airport at five-forty-five in the morning isn’t how he wants to leave them.

Them causes the butterflies in her stomach to erupt and shriek weeks too late.

She presses her face further into the pillow with a groan, feeling tired, her eyelids weighing against her dry eyes – the kind of dryness that follows after crying Justin Timberlake rivers, and she thinks he’ll be proud that she managed to find the CD among her underwear – and she shifts, unsettled, suddenly restless. Pressing her lips together, Julie turns to face where Tim once lay.

There’s a lump that she doesn’t remember ever being there before; before Tim, before this, before she wasn’t so alone. She furrows her brows, fisting her hand and pressing hard against her eyes. The lump shifts, and it starts to register in the fogginess of her reminiscing that this lump looks familiar, however she doesn’t remember seeing it too much in the past.

She jabs at it, hitting what she knows is a shoulder the second she pulls her finger away, and it shifts, the bed moving, as it rolls a little to press against the pillow. Slapping hair, she shoots up, sheets falling from her body as she pokes and hits again.

“Jesus,” the hair disappears as a faint face in the night glows, “you hit so fucking hard.”

Julie narrows her eyes, “Didn’t my phone alarm go off?”

Tim buries his face further into the pillow, hand pushing against his ear before falling to the bed. He shrugs, and she hits him again. “Stop hitting me. M’tryin’ to sleep, dammit.”

She shifts onto her knees, eyes narrowed and confusion burning so brightly within her she doesn’t know why she feels chilled. “You missed your fucking flight, idiot,” she hits him between the shoulder blades. Bare shoulder blades that suggest he didn’t move a goddamn muscle last night. “Jesus, Tim, what the fuck?”

He shifts so she can see his face barely lit by the early hours of the morning shining through her bare windows. “If this is what I have to wake up to every day, then I may take up the couch again.”

Breathing in, she tries to quench the urge to let her entire being shake, that sense of adrenaline she only felt in P.E. settles uncomfortably within her. “What are you doing here?” she clenches her teeth around it, trying to filter out the fuck and bastard.

Shrugging, he licks his lips and shifts, pushing himself to settle on his side. He tilts with exhaustion, eyes blinking sluggishly as his voice slurs with sleep, “Decided to stay.”

“How come? Billy needs you,” she grips the sheet crumpled thickly at her knees.

Tim shrugs, “I like pissing Billy off, and I like being with you. Was a win-win situation when I thought about it.”

“When did you think of this stupid plan of yours?”

Another lift of his shoulders, he runs his hand lazily up his face, pushing against his nose before slapping it against the bed, “In the tub, with you writhing against me.” He grins at this, and she glares daggers, trying to will him off the bed as she clenches her fingers into the sheets.

“I wasn’t writhing as much as you pushing me into the tub,” she forces herself to breathe in loudly, her lungs uncomfortable with the lack of air she’s allowing herself to inhale. What Lies Beneath has gone missing from beneath a pillow on the couch and she’s not so sure she’s proud of how she forgot it was even there. Tim likes to incorporate some really stupid shit into his humour. “And you were meant to go back home.”

He pushes himself towards her, arm wrapping around her waist, fingers pushing against the fabric of her tank top to settle on her back, “I am home,” he rolls his eyes at her as he pulls her down the bed, lying diagonal across it. “Now shut up, you’re worse than a hangover.”

“So glad I can compare to that,” she rolls her eyes, tucking herself against him as Tim pulls his pillow to the edge of the bed. He lies diagonal with her, legs slipping between hers and twisting them together.

He presses his mouth against hers, “Shh, Taylor,” running his hands through her hair, he closes his eyes and grins, “Some of us need our beauty sleep.”

She hits him on the nose.

*

She sits on the stairs with his white 33 shirt on, watching the world outside and its vague changes. Tim settles behind her, legs appearing at the sides of her, and he runs his hands down her arms to settle on her waist. “See something you like out there?”

She shrugs, “Just thinking,” she says as she leans into him.

“Yeah,” he smiles, his hands fiddling with hers, “what about?”

Julie swallows before she says anything about how she’s been wondering about Carla and his conversation about whatever it was when they weren’t speaking like two teenaged best friends. “Just what you and Carla were talking about when we weren’t speaking.”

Tim sighs and seems to pull himself back. “Just stuff.”

“What kind of stuff? Me stuff? I don’t know her, so I’m just wondering if I need to avoid her when I go and get my mail.”

“You don’t get your mail.”

“I’m just saying.”

He shrugs, “I dunno. We just spoke. Mostly about you and what I could do to fix the situation between us while remaining indifferent. You’re not the same person you were in Dillion, so, I guess, I just didn’t know how to approach it.”

“You could’ve asked me.”

“I know,” he sighs into her hair.

Julie pouts, “I’m not that scary.”

Tim laughs, “You don’t know how wrong you are.”

“Next time, just come talk to me, okay?” she turns in his arms to look at his face. He’s looking down at her, nodding.

“What makes you think there will be a next time?” he tries to joke, sort of puffs out some air in the form of a laugh.

She turns in his arms to settle back against him, “You’ll realise soon that I’m a Taylor, and fire flows through our veins. So fights with me are inevitable.” Julie looks out the window and thinks she sees the sky has changed, as the clouds look thinner.

“Don’t forget the sex.”

So it definitely hasn’t in the last five minutes.

*

Julie sits on the stairs reading a book while Tim shuffles around in her room. He claims he’s looking for the calendar that isn’t stuck up on the wall in the kitchen, and for some reason it grew legs and walked up the staircase straight into her bedroom.

He huffs, almost shouting “You know, for weeks I’ve been trying to guess where you go.” He’s putting the boxes under her bed back, coming over to her with empty hands. When he sits next to her and flicks at her book she knows this is the time to close it.

“Yeah?” she places it between them, and then looks at him, amusement on her features as Tim runs a hand through his hair. “Where has that lead you?”

“Nowhere,” he says, eyebrows almost burrowing into his hairline. This has been bugging him, she assumes, and she can’t help the tiny laugh that escapes.

“I’m not a spy or anything,” she says before Tim can even open his mouth. “It’s just something I like doing.”

He pushes his legs to extend, feet landing two steps away, “Like what?”

She shrugs, “You may think it’s silly.”

“Come on,” he brushes the back of her hand along her cheek. “Trust me a little, Taylor.”

She looks down at her bent knees, “I teach dance to kids with Vanessa, down at her apartment.”

“What’s so silly about that?”

She shrugs, “I don’t know. I’m not dancing myself.”

Tim runs a hand over his face, mumbling “Why is that?” as if he’s trying to figure it out on his own. He’s been doing okay so far. She’s seen the little marks on the calendar that has been in her underwear drawer since last night. With little ‘4PM: Gone. 6PM: Return.’ scribbled so tiny it’d have fooled her if he actually had a reason to mark things on her calendar.

“Mom was having some trouble with Gracie, and I thought that she may need me, so I needed to clear my schedule,” she runs a hand through her hair. “She did need me, but she didn’t need me, you know? Dad was perfectly capable with handling it, so, I just figured I’d take this job up while I wait for my chance to get back into it.”

He tilts his head and looks at her, hand in his hair, “Do you enjoy it?”

“Yeah. Very much,” she smiles, and suddenly feels as warm as the sun. “I like getting to know the girls, and spending time with Vanessa is always a bonus.” She looks at him, brushes the bits of his hair that are standing up due to his hands always running through it. “She was the first person I met out here who I could relate to, so when she asked me if I could help her out, I felt like I owed her. Which I know is ridiculous, but it kept us together instead of tearing us apart.” Julie picks up her book and places it on the windowsill beside her as an excuse not to look at him when she says “It’s like falling in love all over again.”

In the faint reflection she sees Tim smile, “I can’t begin to wonder what that’s like.”

She turns to look at him, eyebrows pinched, “You never thought about coaching football?”

“Nah,” he shakes his head, and his hand is about to slide through his hair before she slaps it away and wiggles her finger at him. He laughs. “Just thought I’d play it. I’m not much of a planner.”

She shrugs, settling her hand behind her, “You’d be a good coach.”

“Yeah? Well, I was taught by the best.”

She rolls her eyes and flicks his ear, “Flattery will get you nowhere.”

“We’re halfway there,” he motions to the staircase.

Julie shakes her head. “If you’re interested, the next time Vanessa needs me, you can come.”

“I’d love to.”

*

Tim’s sitting on the kitchen table, a gossip magazine between his hands as he flips it dramatically, “Am I gettin’ tickets?”

She shrugs, moving pillows from the couch to try and find her phonebook. “Maybe,” she sighs, the stress of dance pushes heavily in her head even though she has a month to spare before it abducts her life. “You plan on sticking around that long?”

Tim laughs, shaking his head, and flicks past two pages of the glossy magazine she’s read at least four times, “You don’t need to test me, Jules. You know the answer.”

Straightening up, Julie runs a hand through her hair, narrowing her eyes as she surveys the apartment, “Where is it?”

“What?” Tim keeps his eyes on a page, pulling the magazine up closer to his face as though the lighting is poor or maybe he’s just so out of practice with reading he needs the words to press against his skin to sink into his head.

Rolling her eyes, Julie grips the sides of her dress, “My phonebook.”

Tim shrugs, palms flat and shoulders lift a little too high as his eyebrows rise and he’s trying to bite back a grin. “Dunno, you left it somewhere.”

“You better not have lost it,” she glares, jogging up the stairs with Tim laughing behind her.

“You love pointing the finger at me,” he yells to her, and she pulls apart her bed, finding her little black book nowhere to be found underneath the blankets. Tim sighs, real loud and exaggerated and she pauses as she tries to hear movement, a clue, something, because Tim Riggins knows something and he’s taking enjoyment out of her misery. “Maybe check the bathroom.” She hears the rustling of pages fluttering together and the crease between her brows deepens, “Maybe it’s up there …”

She walks into her bathroom to find his toothbrush sitting in a little nook beside hers.

*

There is the Billy Issue.

They have this routine where she says “You can’t avoid it any longer” and holds the phone out to Tim. He acts like it’s some gun, moving away and dodging it. It becomes a game Julie doesn’t mind playing, but she pretends to be frustrated and grunts and sighs and tells him “You can’t avoid things in life” over and over in her best Eric Taylor voice.

Eventually, in a week, something in Tim snaps and gets his brain finally working as he starts figuring out that avoiding the Billy Issue will only make shit hit the fan harder and he can’t really deal with shit exploding anymore. “Talk to him,” Julie tells him, taking Tyra’s authority and mixing it in with her own. “Or I’ll start sending him body parts.”

“That doesn’t make any sense,” he laughs, sloppily dodging the phone in one last attempt.

“You avoiding this doesn’t make any sense,” she thrusts the phone at him and he looks at it, big grin on his face, before he takes the phone off of her and stares at it.

“Fine. But I’m stayin’ down here.”

“Fine by me,” Julie shrugs as he goes upstairs. “You better eat, Tim!”

She makes her way to the staircase. He snaps his fingers and a “Damn” floats up to her.

The conversation lasts for maybe a good twenty minutes. She lies down on her bed and grabs the book on the night stand. She hears his footsteps before his voice and Tim’s listening to Billy, nodding, rolling his eyes, dusting things with his hands, before he sighs “Adios” and he clicks off the phone.

Tim sighs again, as if to show her that he does want her to prod and pry, and lets the phone hang by his side, running a hand through his hair, which indicates that Billy must’ve hit the roof.

“Everything okay?” she asks from her place on the bed. She’s leaning against the headboard trying to finish a book Tyra sent her.

Tim flops down onto the bed beside her, shifting until he’s right near her. His elbow supports his head as he lies on his side, the pillow being squashed by his waist. “Well, Billy’s pissed.”

“You should’ve gone back,” she places the book to the side of her, out of his reach. He sometimes likes to flick through the pages and read aloud.

Tim shakes his head, “Nah. Billy needs to learn how to hold down the fort. Though I think the Mini Billy is stressin’ him out a little.”

“He just wants an outlet for his infamous Riggins temper?” She closes the book and places it beside her, away from Tim. He likes to flick through the pages and quote things to her from her books.

Tim grins, smirking, “Seems like it.”

He tries to lift himself to see over her. She quirks her eyebrow, “What are you doing?”

“Trying to see what you were readin’.”

“You could’ve just asked.”

He shrugs, looking up at her, “Where’s the fun in that?” He pushes himself up and sort of crawls over her, placing his hands either side of her to hold himself up. He presses his nose against hers and pulls himself over her so he is lying down across her. Julie doesn’t know where to place her hands while he wriggles to make himself comfortable.

Once he’s done she places her hands on his back as he flicks through the book. “Tyra sent it to me.”

“Fantastic readin’ material,” he flicks the front cover of the book before flicking to the page his thumb is bookmarking, “however, it’s not as great as The Scarlet Letter.”

“Is that so?” she smiles.

“Very so.”

She clicks her fingers for the book and he passes it to her so she can place it on the nightstand. Julie crosses her hands over her chest to gain some sort of confidence, to feel grounded, like she’s ready for the brutal honesty Tim seems to preach as much as his ‘Texas Forever’. “So are you okay with your decision to stay here?”

“Yeah,” he shifts, moving himself up the bed slightly. “Definitely am.”

She rolls her eyes at herself as he starts drawing things on her legs. “No regrets?”

“No regrets.”

five. | end.

Tags: challenge response, challenge: fnl_santa, character: julie taylor, character: tim riggins, fandom: friday night lights, fic: we burn our hands, rating: r, ship: tim/julie
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