fandom. friday night lights.
characters/pairings. tyra collette, tim riggins. (slight tim/tyra.)
warnings. au; post-show. slight season four mentions.
disclaimer. not mine.
for. fleurlb @ fnl_santa.
summary. in which billy hosts two christmas parties in the month of january and gives tim a second chance. (set in 2013.)
notes. merry christmas fleurlb! tim and tyra are my otp so i'm very glad i got the opportunity to take them on. srs bsns: i haven't seen season four so any mentions of season four things are probably not even spoilery. apologies if i got anything wrong. title is from a seth cohen (the oc) quote. i hope you enjoy! (not beta'd so any mistakes are mine.) ♥.
© unknown; from flickr
just because you lost the lion fight
doesn’t mean you don’t know how to roar.
- chief (hbic) webber, grey’s anatomy.
Tyra gets an unsettling sense of déjà vu.
She stops the truck and runs her hands through her hair, pulling at it to make sure she’s awake, like she’s not reliving this moment again. This cliff is not hers to keep memories, with its overgrown landscape and tendency to paint pink in the sky. If it was hers, it would have changed drastically. Perhaps a little pool of water would be waiting for her at the end of the dirt road, or maybe someone would own this land and claim it, instead of owning it and letting it rot.
The difference between five years ago and now is that she’s not wearing the short little skirt that could fold up into nothing within seconds. Opening the door, she takes a breath in, the air smelling different than the last. “Hey Dumbass,” Tyra says as she shuts the door of her truck. She leans against it, folding her arms over her chest, as she watches Tim sling empty beer cans off the cliff with a slightly bent golf club. He’s either already drunk the cans empty and waited for them to pile up to about eighteen cans or he’s in the process of cleaning out the beer cans for his recycling project. She’s hoping it’s more of the former than the latter. Tim doesn’t look at her, so she rests her hip on the truck and watches his flannel shirt, torn at the sleeves and missing several buttons, flutter in the wind. “Didn’t think I’d have such a welcome home party,” she grins, watching him continue to swing, a smile sort of spreading across his face.
“Well,” he says, lining up the club and the can. If Tim was serious, Tyra thinks he could’ve made a great golfer. The only times she’s watched the sport is with Billy, when he bothered to come up to her dorm and whine about Mindy and how the baby looks nothing like him as his little girl was, apparently, too good-looking to be his. Tim has a great arm that suits most of the sports she can think of. He doesn’t face her, only acknowledges her with a faint smile that spreads lazily across his face. Swinging the club, he says, “We all can’t be superstars.” His grin widens as he watches the can make a fine arc that almost touches the sky to only disappear over the edge.
She shifts and the gravel beneath her feet scratches against each other, trying to crush the other in some act of dominance. “You could’ve come to the airport,” she cocks her eyebrow and the smile disappears from her face. He picks up another beer can and crushes it between his hands, pausing to look at it, as though he’s reading the contents listed on the side. He’s not. Tyra doesn’t know Tim Riggins as well as she once did, but what she does know is that he does listen when people speak. It just happens that he’s lost his disguise of not giving a damn whenever she opens her mouth. “It’s not like you’ve got a busy schedule or anythin’, from what Billy tells me.”
Tim’s smile pulls at the side of his face, the faint wind mimicking his muscle movement with his hair. He moves the golf club, slides his fingers into position like he doesn’t even need to think about it, and swings. It makes an arc that’s more pronounced at the top, if she was to draw the semi-circles, as the can almost hits God. “Billy says a lot of things without thinkin’, Tyra,” he presses what she feels is his undeserved irritation against her name.
She shrugs, lifting herself off the truck so she can clasp her hands behind her. Tim doesn’t pick up another can, just swings the club in the air absently. Each time he swings, she pictures a can soaring into the air and crashing down into the rocks below. She leans against her hands, an uncomfortable bulge at her back, before her palms press against the truck in search of some heartbeat and comfort. “It’s nice to see you, too, Tim.”
Without a beat between their sentences, he says, “You grew out your hair.” Another beer can in hand, he places it on an invisible tee, and swings again, not looking up at her. He hasn’t looked at her since she first arrived. Her hair is almost like it was before she cut it; it’s long and feels different, makes her feel like a bird in the air, but it’s layered, darker in colour, and has residue of the pink dye from a dare back in Chicago still clinging to her roots. His pile of beer cans is growing smaller as he hits his third since either of them last spoke. Tyra estimates there’s probably ten left.
She exhales, taking a step away from the truck. Tim turns to look at her, although his gaze settles on her feet or the ground. His face looks relaxed, the same as it did five years ago, except the hard lines that once occupied it have smoothed out. Tyra shrugs, “I had to grow up sometime.”
Tim turns and takes another swing at a beer can.
Tyra knocks on the door, her fist curled so tightly her knuckles are a tinge of white. She knocks out a pattern within ten knocks. It’s a game she used to play when she was younger. Without the practice she used to get, back when she was ten, twelve, fifteen, she’s become sloppy. She counts eleven and a half instead of ten before she allows her fist to uncurl and linger by her side.
Tim takes his time approaching the door, like always, like he’s got all the time in the world when, really, he doesn’t. It’s some dream he likes living. Tyra doesn’t have all the time in the world. There isn’t enough time in the day for her to simply exist.
With a sigh, she looks around the front yard, his truck parked haphazardly on the front lawn, squashing the hopes of the grass stems of turning a nice shade of green. The patches of dirt are easier to spot than Wally, and weeds are starting to sprout along the gap between the driveway and the lawn. She’s surprised to see the lack of beer bottles lining the garage door.
She raises her hand again and knocks, looking down at her feet. She’s standing on dry paint stains the Riggins were probably too lazy to scrub clean. The welcome mat Mindy claims she bought is missing. Tim opens the door on the twelfth knock with a sigh and a tired stance. The door is almost another limb with the way he leans against it. “Tyra –”
“I like with what you’ve done with the place.” She pushes her sunglasses onto the top of her head, pulling the hair away from her face. Tim continues to look at her blankly, making her feel hollow as he seems to see through her, so she clears her throat so she feels like a picture a child has finally coloured in, albeit going outside the lines, “I need to buy a hat for Addison, and I’ve decided you’re comin’ with me.” She pulls a big grin that feels so fake on her tight face. She doesn’t like people who are happy all the time, exaggeratedly so, but she needs to freak Tim out to the point where he starts moving and stops lounging about. Her face falls, the faint lines around her mouth relax and her eyebrow takes its proper place near her hairline.
Frowning, Tim presses his palm against the front of the door, “I don’t need your charity.” He rubs a hand against his face, as though waking himself up, and when he yawns she thinks just that.
Rolling her eyes, she feels familiarity with placing her hands on her hips in this particular doorway, “Oh, Tim, you need at least a haircut to be considered.”
Tim narrows his eyes as Tyra’s turn into slits. He brushes hair off of his forehead absently, and she grins. He sighs, white flag waving as Tyra claims a short victory, “Give me five minutes. I need to grab my purse.” He leaves the door open and she follows him inside.
This house has not changed one bit. Discarded shirts welcome her at the doorway, flannel in pattern, much like the one Tim’s wearing. Distaste morphs onto her face as Tim skates over to a chair. If he sits, she’ll have to kick him to Australia just to cure her irritation. “Y’know, you should close your door. Unwanted things may get in.” She does just that, but with a slam. She knows how Billy, despite his habit of not closing doors himself, hates the insects that manage to crawl in beneath the cracks of the doors. Consider this the one good thing she’s meant to do for today for the good karma that’s overdue.
Tim’s at the couch, bent over, looking for something. He looks over his shoulder at her, “Sometimes you make it so easy.”
Despite the shirts on the floor, and some of the socks, the kitchen table is clean, as well as the sink. Tyra is guilty of judging books by their cover, she’ll admit to that. The overall vibe of the place is the same, but the interior is slightly better. She can see her feet. Stepping on her tiptoes, she tries to peer over at the sink, hoping, by god, that Billy’s over his pissing-in-the-sink phase. “This place is ... clean.”
He shrugs, “Got a maid.” Pulling the cushions of the couch over, he’s looking for something. A couple of playing cards and photos manage to slip to the floor. He tosses over his shoulder, “Quite like the outfit.”
Tyra stands with her hands on her hips, handbag sliding down her arm, “Does the maid go by the name of Becky?”
He doesn’t bother looking up at her, or making eye contact. Her body stiffens as he readjusts the cushions on the couch after a fruitless effort at finding absolutely nothing. “So you heard about that?” he drawls, giving her the quickest glance she’s ever seen over his shoulder.
Narrowing her eyes, her temper starts to snap like twigs underneath feet, “What didn’t I hear of?” Tyra remembers Julie’s phone calls about Matt and lions and how Lyla’s left for college and Tim’s back. She’s had Billy ring her up, asking her if she’s spoken to Tim, whether she knows if he’s going through a midlife crisis after he left college, if she’s coming back to Dillon. She roughly pushes her handbag strap back up her arm. “Look,” she holds up her hands, not to stop him or calm him, but to calm herself as she’s forgotten how frustrating he is to even sit in silence with, “what you did was your business. I just pray you have more sense in you now.”
He shrugs, says absently “She moved away.” Tyra doesn’t really understand his tone, what history he’s not willing to say, but she’s too exhausted to push. Tim stalks over to the kitchen, opening cupboards and closing them. She’s not sure what he’s looking for, but she’s sure, if he told her, she’d be as hopeless as him in trying to locate it.
She nods slightly, her hands resting lighter on her hips, “Are you just gonna continue lyin’ to me?” She doesn’t know who Becky is, but she knows of her – from Julie and Billy, her only Texan sources, as Mindy only talks about one thing and that’s Mindy and the fluids seeping from her body from time to time – and how Tim went his old lady route and slept in a trailer and became Miss Congeniality. She wonders if leaving San Antonio was even worth it.
Tim settles in the kitchen, stops opening cupboards, but scans the tabletops. “Luke did it with Mrs T,” Tim sort of shrugs it out as he opens his fridge, leaving it open as he stands by the sink. The look in his eye is so familiar and young, almost childish, as he sort of dares her with it to fight him.
Over the years, Tyra has felt herself mellow out. She raises her eyebrows, though, her face bored, to try and see if he’ll start some sort of fight with her. Usually just a twitch of her eye would cause him to light up. “I don’t know who that is and I don’t care to,” she pushes against her sunglasses, her hand coming back to her hip without a second thought. Tim goes back to the fridge, bending down, and Tyra signs, grabbing her sunglasses off her head. “I’m tired playin’ with you,” she says, hand out in a signal for him to stop, sunglasses trapped between two fingers.
“Collette –” he says as she’s out the door. As she walks down the driveway, she passes his tired truck, the dents so clearly outlined as the sun hits spots, highlighting it white, and Tim follows her, banging the door closed, hopefully locked, and says, again, “C’mon, Collette.” He’s a bit slower than before, but he’s a lot more sober as he jogs after her. The grin that forms on his mouth is one she remembers so vividly from five years ago. Her blood boils, her face stiffening with a face she practiced in tenth grade. She frowns, her hand grips the door handle tightly, even after it unlocks, and he says from the other side of the truck, “I’m just playin’.”
Tyra’s stopped playing anyone’s games after she started a new chapter of her book. She glares at him from the other side of the truck. “Don’t,” she says, getting in. She starts the truck as he climbs in. He swings his keys in his hand and palms it, fingers wrapping weakly around it. Money is scrunched in his hand, possibly the target of his banging of cupboards and flipping of couch cushions. She flips her sunglasses down to cover her eyes as a means of distraction. It won’t work, but they’re dark enough that he can’t see her eyes if he’s hanging half out the truck window.
Tyra manoeuvres onto the deserted road and makes her way onto the main roads. If she can, she’ll lose him in one of the department stores at the shopping complex. Tim shuffles as she drives, she grits her teeth as his legs are constantly moving and his hands can’t decide whether they’ll stay outside the window or not. This truck is too small for the two of them, much like how Dillon is too small for her.
“I don’t get what you’re so mad about,” he says as she watches the scenery. The houses haven’t changed, the trees haven’t changed, and nothing has changed. Tyra feels her throat start to pain, as if closing in on itself, and Tim keeps shuffling in the passenger seat.
A street passes with a father and son throwing around a football. “Y’know, I came back expectin’ you’d be different,” she says, face to the windshield. She tries to ignore him in her peripheral vision, but Tim’s always been so big that he fills up any space. Everywhere she goes, she sees him. To herself, she mutters with a shake of her head, “I don’t know why I kid myself.”
He hears her, stiffening as he sinks into a slouch on his seat, legs bent sharply at the knees as he tries to place his feet underneath him, “No one asked you to come back.” He fails at it, sliding them to meet the wall separating the interior with the engine with a long sigh.
She looks at him, frown on her face, her cheeks feeling tight, “Y’know, Tim, you’re such a big-headed jackass that you’d never know what bit you in the ass even if it came up to you and said ‘Hi, I’m about to bite you in the ass’.”
He sort of grins at this, which only frustrates her more, as he shifts in his seat so he’s sitting up straight, “I don’t know what’s gotten into your pants, Collette –”
They approach an intersection with a yellow light trading places with a red. “Nothin’, Riggins,” she pushes her foot a little too hard on the brake pedal, lurching them forward.
“Easy there, tiger,” he leans his elbow on the window edge, resting his head in his open palm. He looks out the window, squinting at the bright day. She’s glad he didn’t bring his aviator sunglasses with him today.
“Tim,” she looks at him, her attention away from the red light, “y’know, you’re wastin’ my time. You’re wastin’ your time.” She grips the steering wheel tightly, face forward as she watches the cars cross at the intersection, “What the hell are you doin’ here?”
He palms the back of his head, his eyebrows drawn together slightly, and he takes a pause, eyes scrunched, and she knows he’s as lost as she is even with a street directory. “I’m comin’ with –”
“C’mon, Tim,” she says, resigned, pushing her sunglasses onto the top of her head so he can see her pointed look, “think for goddamn once.” She slides her sunglasses back over her eyes as Tim doesn’t answer.
They are silent after the light turns green.
Tim won’t stop touching things in the store. She’s done telling him to stop touching things like he’s some child. She’s not his mother or his babysitter and that plan she thought up in the car is incredibly tempting at the moment. He notices when she walks a little faster, as if not to be associated with this child, and he grins, taking longer strides to keep up with her. He also makes the effort to stop touching things. She takes to the aisles to avoid the main walkways filled with Panther supporters who wish for when Dillon football was so simple and 33 was back on the team with 20 and 7.
She slows down once she’s found the hats in the children’s clothing area. Before them, hidden behind rows of clothes hanging on hangers, are four shelves dedicated to bags and hats for children. The hats are piled up on top of each other as a few are set randomly, as if on display. As she starts picking up hats and seeing how much they stretch, Tim flicks at some, running his fingers over the brim. He places a plain woven sunhat with sunflowers attached to the decorating pearl white ribbon on his head. “Why are we getting Addison a hat?”
“Mindy said she was worried about her gettin’ too sunburnt.” Tyra rolls her eyes, picking up a tiny straw hat that’s similar to Tim’s, except for the blue ribbon wrapped around the seam. The real story is is that Mindy wants her child to be blocked from the sun with style, thanks to one of her friends at The Landing Strip telling her some story about modelling agents being attracted to kids with hats in Dillon. “Apparently it’s bad or somethin’.”
Tim frowns, “I thought the sun was a vitamin.” He doesn’t ask it, he states it, and Tyra feels no compulsion to answer him properly. So he tips the sunhat on its side, as if it’ll make it look more attractive on his head. It doesn’t.
She draws her eyebrows together for just a second before snatching the sunhat off his head and pulling it, assessing it, before placing it back on the shelf. It doesn’t stretch enough for a growing infant. “Just find a hat.”
Tim sighs, and they do this in silence. Tim finds boys hats and places them on his head. He goes from being Tim Riggins, Possible Deadbeat, to Tim Riggins, Astronaut. He looks at the hats she’s looking at, the ones that seem more colourful and delicate, before he gets the picture that he’s not shopping for himself. It’s the impression she’s under, anyway. He sidles up next to her and is pulling hats at the far back, poking at them and folding them, checking their bouncing back quality.
“I’m confused, Tyra,” he says, his fifth sunhat in hand. This one has a rainbow of ribbons tied around it and flowers pressed onto the weave. He places it on his head before taking it off, his face distorting like he’s swallowed a lemon whole. Apparently this is his system of assessing the most appropriate hat for his niece that will survive more than a week. He places it on the shelf, on top of a builder hard hat that’s been misplaced in the unofficial girl section, and fiddles with a baseball cap that sits on the left, also misplaced.
“I already knew that, Tim,” she says, fiddling with the same hat she’s had in her hands for the past two minutes.
“Not like that,” he grabs a top hat and places it on her head. He pulls at the rim and tries to shove it over her face. It sits on her head, nowhere near covering the circumference. Her hair is starting to gather small knots and her sunglasses are sitting oddly against the weight. “Like, I don’t know what to do with myself.”
She nods, poking the top hat so it’s on an angle. She grabs a beanie and pulls at it, testing its stretch, “Have you spoken to Garrity about this?” It stretches to her liking, but it suits Tim more than Addison. She places it back on the shelf.
Tim sort of stops, halts, freezes, something like that, for only a moment before he’s running on movement, shifting and twitching ever so slightly. Tyra pretends she didn’t witness it. “We don’t talk that much anymore.”
Tyra watches him. “Sorry.”
He shrugs, snatching the top hat off her head and placing it back on the shelf.
“Well,” she sighs, pulling her sunglasses off her head before sliding them back on. She busies herself by looking at the shelf, scanning it, looking for that gem among the rough, despite that every hat seems the same. “I guess what you need to do is think about where you wanna go. Where do you see yourself in ten years?”
“Texas,” he says, like an automated response. Tim is a robot that has been programmed to endorse the beauty of football and, especially, the football in Dillon, Texas. Tyra thinks there has to be some sort of medical cure for this.
She gives him a sidelong glance, eyebrows raised. “You know, Tim,” she sighs, debating whether she should go in for the kill. This is sort of like telling a kid that Santa doesn’t exist. But she’s never been one to beat around the bush, especially with Tim; she’s more about beating the bush. “This is like Pleasantville. There’s stuff outside of it, y’know.” She looks at him, watches him fiddle with a cowboy hat that sends an unpleasant pang somewhere in her stomach. “I’ve been there, I’ve seen it. It’s actually quite good.”
Tim grabs a worker’s construction hat, “You always wanted out.” He grabs a pink one and places it on her head delicately, like her grandmother would handle pressing flowers.
She forms a fist and hits the top of his hat. “We’re not that different, y’know.”
Tim sort of sucks in his cheeks before replacing his builder’s hat with a woman’s sequin headpiece, making sure to flick the large feather on the side. “How was Chicago?”
Tyra pauses, watching him flick at the feather, as if trying to destroy it. She picks up a dark hat she’s seen on the race horsing programs Landry used to make her watch. “Disappointingly wet.”
Tyra has always liked looking out the window, watching passers-by and future visitors. Even though their house wasn’t located in the most neighbourly part of town, as there was more land than people, she still liked to play this game. She used to trick Mindy into thinking she was psychic, calling out who was about to approach the door within the next minute. Though, when she thinks about it, Mindy was probably only pretending.
But good habits don’t die and Tyra’s standing by the window as she watches the Riggins’ boys have a moment by Tim’s dark truck parked in the driveway, underneath a tree that’s mistaken January for an autumn month. Billy’s yelling or talking with passion and aggressive exaggerations, as he likes to say, to Tim. Both boys mirror each other, their hands tucked firmly into the backs of their jeans pockets. She thinks Billy’s going to slap Tim upside the head, but he forgoes it, and Billy leads the way along the yellow brick road that will lead them to her, the most magnificent wizard to grace Dillon.
Tim and Billy wait outside the door like it’s some sort of chore to knock. She waits, on the other side, counting down how much pathetic she can take until she opens the door roughly and sees Billy’s fist ready to knock. “We’re growin’ old here,” she says, leaning lazily against the door, making space for them to walk through. Billy gives her a salute and Tim seems to wake up, breathing in harshly and almost shaking his head, as though he’s some pet with a coat problem. He probably is, and she knows whose, but she refrains from thinking about it and making a face, which she can barely control these days, as she smiles at Tim.
“What’s wrong with you?” he stops, eyebrow cocked so exaggeratedly that her pressing her lips together doesn’t contain some of her laughter.
“Nothin’,” she laughs, “just happy to see the life of the party finally made it.”
He shrugs, “Sorry, had to attend a red carpet,” he walks past and mutters an “or somethin’.” Tim watches E! more than she does and she knows the ins and outs of the Kardashians and the Playboy bunnies after two hours of watching it every Sunday for the past year than he would for a lifetime. “Where’s the fam.?”
She nods to the kitchen, “Outside on the patio.” She moves to the kitchen and continues to wash out the three glasses in the sink. Tim sort of lingers behind her before opening the fridge. “Mindy’s gone a bit weird with the Christmas lights.”
Tim looks over his shoulder, his hand frozen in the fridge, “But it’s January.” Apparently Billy likes to consider his Christmas in January, the month after the official Christmas. He’s celebrating the holiday today at the house, Addison’s first January family Christmas.
She shrugs. No one understands much of Billy’s logic.
“Y’know,” he says, fiddling with a water bottle. The label around it has been scribbled on with permanent marker. It says something indescribable, but she can only make out Billy’s. He’s taken to quoting threats he’s heard on television – or music award shows. It still doesn’t stop her from eating his sandwiches. Tim pauses, notices her staring at the bottle, his eyes sort of widen, “Is this –”
“Enjoy,” she says, returning her attention to wiping down the sink.
He doesn’t open the bottle and take a drink, but he fiddles with it. “Y’know,” he starts again as she grabs one of the glasses she cleaned and fills it up halfway with water from the tap, “I kinda like your hair long.”
She’s glad she’s drinking the water, chugging it down like she’s been out on the football field, as it gives her a reason not to comment as soon as she hears the full stop in his voice. She drinks like a Panther, always has. “Thanks?”
“No, seriously,” he says, closing the fridge, the bottle gone from his hands. He has a bad habit of leaving the fridge open whenever he takes something out from it. “It’s nice, though it’s darker.”
She washes out the glass again. “It’s what happens when you make an effort to leave the house.”
“I’m not a hermit.” He says, instantly. Though, truth be told, he is. Tim’s more of a hermit than Landry ever was after she left. “I go out the back and lie on the chairs.” Tyra rolls her eyes and pushes past him, opening the back door.
She moves to the end of the patio. Billy corners her as she leans on the railing, watching the wind tickle the leaves of the trees. “Hey, Tyra,” he sings, a beer bottle in hand. He comes up beside her, leaning against the railing like she. “How’s it goin’?”
“What do you want, Billy?” she sighs it, giving him a tired smile. She goes back to looking at the trees, though she’s not as focused as she was before.
“I was wonderin’ if you could knock some sense into Timmy,” he shrugs, shifting so his back is leaning against the railing and he can see her face better. Billy’s smarter than anyone gives him credit for. She can’t avoid his gaze now, even if she faces the other direction. His beady little eyes keep on her face, staring at her cheek, except for when he takes his bottle to his lips.
“You’re such a rat, Billy,” she sighs, and she looks at him, eyebrow cocked. “Isn’t that what I’m doin’ here? Knockin’ some sense into that dense head?”
He shrugs, “Is it?”
“Stop playin’ games with me, Billy. I came back because Mindy wanted me to and because I have a family. I don’t want my niece to grow up not knowin’ who I am.”
He moves his shoulders a little, lets her words settle in, though he doesn’t comment on it. He’s never been one to comment on those deep things. “So ... is that all?” Tyra’s head whips around quickly, her eyes narrowed. “I guess not,” he mumbles against the lip of his bottle. After he takes a long drink from it, he looks ahead of him, at the house, and she’s now staring at his profile, “I appreciate you comin’ and talkin’ to Tim, Tyra. I know it ain’t pleasant for you, given your history.”
With a shake of her head, Tyra copies Billy, resting her back against the railing. “Billy, I’ll do anythin’ for family,” she smiles at him, and the corner of his lip rises with a twitch. “But Tim’s grown up. His decisions are his. Whatever choice he makes is his own.”
“It’s not the right choice.”
“It’s his,” Tyra shrugs, “and I know it’s hard, but Tim’s gonna fall sometimes and he can’t have you catchin’ him all the time.” She places a hand on his shoulder, “You’re a good brother, Billy.” She pauses, cocks her head, and smiles, “Most of the time.”
He tips his bottle in her direction, as if a toast, “Thanks.”
“You also owe me fifty bucks for the hat.” She grabs his beer, which is empty, and dumps it in the bin Billy stole from the Panthers school. He’s still pissed about the town division, much like Buddy Garrity, so she opts to get him another beer from inside the house.
When she walks inside, it starts to rain. Billy’s party is postponed and moved indoors to where he bitches and whines about how he’s fortunate that the whole town wasn’t invited. How his reputation would be destroyed. Tyra laughs, grabbing Billy’s beer and heads to the front of the house after her mother gives her a glare, her face so unhappy with her attitude that she decides to excuse herself before her mother does, like she’s the same adolescent as before. She can still hear Billy from out the front.
Tyra ends up sitting on the steps outside the front door. The rain is light, a nice drizzle, and it slants away from her direction, missing her. The light above her has seen better days, almost coming to the end of its life, but it still casts a good shadow when it needs to. The door opens and Tim ends up standing beside her. She sighs, “Why are you even here?”
Tim’s shadow shrugs. He takes a sip of his beer.
She looks up at him, at what she can see of his profile, as his eyes settle on something in the distance. “We all can’t be superheroes,” Tyra says.
Tim sort of stands over her, hands shuffling in his loose jeans, “I never took you for a pink girl.” He looks down at her, narrows his eyes, as if he could see under the moderately lit porch light, which he can barely. Billy’s too concerned about Tim’s eyesight fading before the age of thirty and his big football career that he’s banned Tim from reading books in the house for the light globes may not be giving off the brightest of light. Tim passes his beer to his other hand and picks at her hair, as if searching for something tiny, like a tick.
“You’re a jackass,” she drinks her beer as he walks back inside, laughing.
So Tyra thinks long and hard about Billy’s request. She’s not the type to draw a pros and cons list, but she thinks that this situation requires her to be that girl. So she talks to her mother, instead. “Mom,” she says from the kitchen table, her cheek resting on her palm.
“Yes, honey,” Angela says from the sink, washing up some dishes Mindy will use Addison as an excuse as to why she left them in the sink last night. She looks over her shoulder, “What is it?” Her face is slightly panicked in that Angela Collette way it makes Tyra pause for a moment before lifting her cheek off her palm.
“What would you do,” she starts drawing things on the table, her face turned away from her mother, “if someone asked you to do them a favour?” She pauses her drawing and rolls her eyes at the vagueness of her words. Turning around so she can see her mother, she gestures with her hands as she says, “If someone asked you to do somethin’ for someone else, would you do it?”
Angela turns around, leaning her back against the sink, and wipes her hands thoroughly on the dishtowel. “It depends on what they’re askin’, Tyra.” She pauses, her face composed in a way that Tyra isn’t used to. Angela’s been practicing nonchalance for Mindy. She pauses wiping her hands, “Are you in some kind of trouble?”
Tyra looks down and mutters, “No, Momma.” Looking up, she runs her hand through her hair, feeling its length, as she looks at Angela, “Just someone asked me a favour, y’know. Like to motivate someone.”
“Like one of those motivational speeches?” Angela’s abandoned wiping her hands, the towel gripped weakly between her dry fingers. Her face lights up and takes on movement, pushing the panic away. “I saw a special on Oprah about that. It’s a good job, very fulfilling.”
“It’s not a job or anythin’,” Tyra watches as her mother places the towel behind her, missing the sink by inches. “Just that someone asked me to help a friend out, like get them back on track or somethin’ like that.” Instantly, she waves her hands in front of her, “It’s nothin’.” She doesn’t want her mother bugging her about this. Billy’s already bugged her enough.
“Honey,” Angela places her hands behind her, gripping the counter edge, “anythin’ you do is never nothin’.” Tyra turns in her seat, her back to her mother, as she relaxes against the chair. “If you feel it’s best to do it, then do it.”
Tyra nods, “Thanks, Mom.”
Angela comes up behind her and wraps her arms around her neck. “You make me so proud,” she says and kisses her on the cheek.
Placing her hand on her mother’s wrist, Tyra says, “I couldn’t have done it without you, Momma.”
That settles it.
Tyra knocks hard and fast on his door, her fist curled tightly as she grips in her other hand a large, creased yellow envelope. The door opens to reveal Tim, like he’s just woken up from his beauty sleep. “Hey, Dumbass.”
Tim’s hand goes to rest behind his neck and he grins, “Hey.”
“Look, so, apparently Billy hired me to kick your ass into makin’ some sense and movin’ on with your life ... or somethin’.” She looks down and holds out the envelope, in which he takes. He opens his mouth but she bites off his words before they even formulate into a logical sentence, “When I was in Austen and Chicago, I wrote letters to you. Not every day, but when I felt like I was at my wit’s end and like when I felt like givin’ up, ‘cause I thought you’d get it.” She looks up at his blank stare, sliding her hands into the pockets at the back of her jeans, “I didn’t send them because I didn’t know where you were – and my roommate at the time kept stealin’ my post money for things I don’t care to describe.” Tyra pushes her hands harder into her pockets, “I wrote to you because I believed in you. That’s the punch line, Tim.” She pauses so she doesn’t tell him that San Antonio made her proud of him, that he was able to break out of his mould. That’s something for Billy or Coach to say to him. “Sometimes it’s nice to have someone believe in you and I thought that maybe I’d sort of taken on that role occasionally,” she shrugs, looking off to the side.
Tim grins at this, “Like my own GPS system.”
She stares at him, her mouth itching to smile, “Somethin’ like that.” Tim looks down at the envelope in his hands, creased with a map of her adventures – of her triumphs and failures. “So take that envelope,” she nods to it, and he looks down automatically, “’cause I need the space on my desk. Mom’s buyin’ me a new globe, apparently.” Her hands relax in her back pockets and she cocks her eyebrow, smiling.
He grins, sort of turns pink then, “Sorry. I sort of broke it.”
“I know,” she grins. Taking her hands out of her pockets, she pushes her sunglasses on her head, pressing them a little further into her mess of hair, “The post-it note on my wall didn’t give it away at all.” She rests her hands on the back of her jeans.
Tim nods with a laugh, “You’re a regular Veronica Mars.”
“And you’re a coach potato.” She rubs her hands together and looks in her small handbag, digging for her keys. She wraps her fingers around it, “Look, Tim, I’m not one to tell you what to do –” he raises his eyebrows and she laughs, looking down before regaining her composure, “– about the real big stuff, but there’s much more out there for you than what Dillon has to offer.”
Tim shrugs, “I like Texas.”
“I –” he grins, and she runs her hand up her other arm. “I know that, but, Tim, don’t waste your potential. You only get one shot.”
“Thanks, Tyra,” he says, nodding to the envelope.
Tyra pulls a grin, sighing, “Billy can’t afford the fee he owes me.” She pitches her thumb behind her, motioning to her truck parked on the curb, almost on top of the drain built in the street. She turns around and swings her keys absently in her hand before catching herself.
Tim grins, calling out, “Is that my ass kickin’?”
She turns around, walking a couple of steps backward until she’s near her truck. She grins, “You’ll know when I’m kickin’ your ass, Tim.” Turning around, she opens the door to her truck, “Consider this your warnin’.”
Things get interesting when Tim gets motivated. Apparently Oprah was right, according to Angela, that when someone is spoken to in a motivational way, they get motivated. Tyra wonders if someone speaks to her richly if she’ll become rich.
She finds herself at the Riggins, feeling confused. “Are you on dope?” she says as she walks around the Riggins house as he chases her.
“Maybe the timin’ is right,” he shrugs, much like a dreamer. He walks around like he’s a bird in midair, proposing things like second chances and spending more time together than they usually do. Tyra’s just happy he hasn’t admitted his undying love for her yet – it’s close, though. Tyra’s not one to have street directories memorised right down to the detail like Landry, but she knows where this road will lead to if they continue on it.
She cocks her eyebrow, tiredly, “I gave up on that hope a long time ago, Tim.” She palms the edge of the kitchen sink, seeing it spotless and dry. Tim stands on the opposite end, mimicking her stance.
He shrugs, “I’ve grown up.”
Tyra allows a little laugh, her eyes looking him up and down, “Barely.” She turns to grab a glass from the cupboard before turning on the tap and filling it to the brim. Tipping the water out, she fills it up slightly, turns off the tap, and takes a long drink. She feels like she needs to get her head on straight. This battle they’re having consists of two different arguments; one about the future and one about going at it together.
He’s smiling at her, which is never a good thing. It’s a big toothy grin that’s apparently hard to come by these days from the once-upon-a-time Panther 33. “I want you to be the first to know.” He stays silent as she moves to the cupboard, making noise with the door.
Placing the glass back on the shelf, she says over her shoulder, “What?”
“I’m goin’ to New Jersey,” his grin doesn’t deflate. If it could, it’s increased. “Street said he could help me get a job, y’know, guide me like a dog or somethin’.” He scrunches his face up, trying to remember whatever Street had said. It must have been profound if Tim’s willingly comparing himself to a dog.
Tyra laughs, coming to stand in front of the sink again, this time with her hands crossed over her chest, “That’s good, real good.”
“So,” Tim looks down, his hand darts to the back of his neck, and he looks up at her through his unkempt hair, “y’think you could come to New Jersey? You said Chicago wasn’t doin’ it for you –”
“Tim. That’s the dumbest thing ever.” Except it isn’t, if Tyra recalls being sixteen and completely infatuated with a boy with a plan to make money off of a friend and own land with his girl.
He shakes his head slightly, “It’s not. You’re nowhere near your dream. The one thing Dillon’s taught me is that you should go in the direction of your dream, never the other way.”
She cocks her eyebrow, smiling, “Oh, so I’m lost?”
“You’re geographically confused,” he says with a smile that could eat the earth.
Billy holds the Official Christmas Party on the 31st at her house. He says that this time the weatherman will feel his wrath and declare sunshine and a dry sky if he ever wants to see the light of day ever again, and, because of this threat, the party will be bigger than ever. It’s only a small gathering of Collettes, Riggins and the Taylors – and Buddy Garrity. Round, small tables are set on the patio out back, Christmas lights wrap around the house and trees in random swirls, and a large banner Tyra had to pay half for hangs across the Collette patio. Whenever she goes inside her house or comes outside, the top of her head always skims the bottom of the banner. It’s uneven and tilts to one side, and she can’t read what it says.
The party is mostly on the ground where more round tables are set for everyone to sit at. There are only eight tables, two reserved for the food and drinks. Billy’s at the barbeque, drinking a beer, talking to Coach Taylor while Buddy’s talking to Tim, possibly about Lyla or football or both. She leans against the railing on the platform of the patio, watching her mother laugh at her granddaughter wearing the hat Tim and she had purchased. It wasn’t much, but apparently Tim had an intuition for these things – she seemed to adore the hat that is shown on horse racing programs, the delicate ones with features and a ribbon tied around the top mound. She remembers they weren’t allowed to play with it like the other hats in the store.
The party reminds Tyra of a typical prom, although it’s not elaborately decorated. Mindy forgot about her colour theme and instead seemed to have let Addison go loose with the Christmas lights on the ground. Instead of acting as breadcrumbs, they seem to replicate the street directory maps. She can hear her CD player, hiding somewhere among the tables and trees and sparse Collette land, blasting Taylor Swift songs – as some joke between Tim and Mindy – and she knows, by the end of the night, it will be broken. Again.
“Howdy stranger,” Tim says, wearing a silly cowboy hat similar to the one he was forced to wear at Billy and Mindy’s wedding. He comes from inside the house, possibly to ransack her room again for CDs. She hid them beneath one of her loose floor boards. “Why you up here on your lonesome?” he says, in a wonky, stupidly exaggerated Texan accent.
Stick to your day job, she wants to say. Instead, she shrugs, barely moving her shoulders, her gaze on the party, “It’s nice, isn’t it?”
Tim purses his lips, taking a step so he’s sort of behind her as well as beside her. “The sausage is a bit burnt –”
She glances at him, “You know what I mean.”
He leans against the railing, placing his hat on her head before clasping his hands together in front of him. “You miss a lot when you’re gone.”
Tyra looks back out at the party, although it’s not some magical thing that makes her ache for home. There are a few voids, like Lorraine Saracen and Smash Williams. She bites her lip and looks at the Christmas lights in the furthest tree somewhere beyond the front of their property. “I’ll come with you to New Jersey,” she says, and Tim grins brighter than the Christmas lights hanging so loosely above them, “but on one condition.”
“I’m not a part of the trio,” she states, and Tim cocks his eyebrow, completely not getting it. The thing is, this is her protection. She’s never been a part of the Texas Forever Trio, the Tim, Jason and Lyla triangle that was always the foundation to the dreams they constructed. She’s always been the potential outside influence to their meticulous plans. So she sighs with a roll of her eyes, “I find my own place, I find my own job, and I do what I need to do. I’m not gonna suck Jason Street dry or stay there if it’s not workin’ for me.” He’s smiling at her, so she rolls her eyes. She’s already regretting this decision.
“Jay said –”
She sighs, “Jason can say whatever he wants. I’m only goin’ to New Jersey ‘cause of the possibilities, Tim.” He’s still grinning, stupidly, so she frowns, “Not for you.”
Tim tips his hat, slightly setting it off kilter, obscuring a part of her vision of him, “Not for me, hey?”
Setting the hat straight, she closes her eyes, “Not everythin’ is about you.”
Tim nods, as if he’s accepting this – or understanding it – but he doesn’t accept it nor does he understand it, he only makes fun of it. “So for the experience.”
She rolls her eyes, “You’re head’s gettin’ too big.”
“You won’t regret it,” Tim slings his arm over her shoulders. “I promise you that.” She cocks her eyebrow, but the one thing Tim is good for is his promises.
Tim walks away from her, disappearing behind her, and grabs something, it making a bit of a noise, before turning to his place beside her. Handing her a beer, he toasts, “Texas forever, New Jersey tomorrow.”