I was surfing the stocking stuffers list about umm . . . four hours before the final due date, had just gotten my main fic in not long before, and decided to write one for this request. I wrote it in. . . . probably about twenty minutes, with another fifteen or so picking at it, got a very quick beta from someone from the yuletide chat, and then polished a bit and uploaded. For the whirlwind job it was, I was rather proud of how it came out. I had plans to write another stocking stuffer but was called away for family stuffs when it was half done. I may have to finish that at some point.
Author: SullenSiren (sullensiren(at)gmail(dot)com)
Fandom: Friday Night Lights
Characters: Tyra Collette, Tim Riggins, Landry Clarke, Eric Taylor, Tami Taylor, Julie Taylor, Matt Saracen, Jason Street, Herc
Summary: The different stages and faces of love.
Word Count: 1875
Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Feedback: Would make my day.
Author's Notes: Written very quickly for the Yuletide Treasure rare fic exchange, for Kass (http://kassrachel.livejournal.com), who wasn't picky about what she wanted. I hope this works for you Kass! Section titles taken from Joni Mitchell songs.
"We are shaped and fashioned by what we love."
-- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
You're My Thrill
He's memorizing the feel of her hands on his shoulder, and the smell of her hair as it tumbles across his face. Matt believes this is how it begins - how the road from now until forever starts to straighten and stretch out in front of you. This is how your future comes clear - by falling in love with the way a girl smiles, or the sound of her laugh. He doesn't know about forever, but he likes that the possibility looms, vague and glimmering in the distance.
Julie believes that simple is too easy, and that nothing that feels this new can last. All her roads lead away from Dillon, and away from Matt, but when he smiles, it's easy to forget that. He sings to his grandmother and ducks his head when he blushes, and she thinks this is what boys are meant to be like. But then she watches the elbows thrown by team members in hallways, and sees the way that the team can turn them into Icarus, flying so high the reality of a world outside of Dillon will melt away their immortality, and plummet them down. The practical center of her wants to be aware that this is how it will go. Her heart says not him, not Matt.
He doesn't know what he wants, but he thinks it might be her.
She knows this isn't what she wants, but forgets reality when he's close enough to kiss.
They're both in love for the first time. They both think this is what love is.
Eric leaves his socks in the living room every night, and sometimes when he sleeps, he snores this high, wheezy whining sound that makes her want to smother him with a pillow. He makes her breakfast in bed, but forgets to wash the dishes and she ends up scraping hours-dried eggs off the pan while he's watching game-tapes in the living room. He falls asleep during the sermon in Church, and she's always afraid he's going to snore, and she'll either commit murder in the House of God, or the whole place will turn around and see Coach Taylor snoring his way through a sermon.
Tami's feet are always cold, and no matter how many times he tells her not to, she's always shoving them onto his calves to warm them up, and he manages to knot up a muscle there every time he yanks away. She leaves used dental floss on the bathroom counter, and she's got this laugh she does when she's pretending something's funny that drives him right up a wall. She knows football, but she still mixes up the running backs and the linebackers, and he's sure she does it just when she wants to make him nuts.
But at the end of the day they curl together, and talk about their day. They speak their own language of memories and half-formed thoughts the other completes. They know inside out and outside in, and every spot on their bodies is a place that the other's hands have touched and loved. Every kiss and every goodbye, every argument and every tear is wound up in one another. They are themselves, still - but together, they make each other more than they would ever have been alone.
They're both in love for the last time. They know this is what love is. Through everything, even when they're separate, they're wrapped up in one another. And that's how they want to always be.
The Only Joy In Town
Tyra remembers the feel of his hair against her face, and the strength of his arms - how within the circle of them, she'd always felt safe, even though she knew he could be the most dangerous thing in her life, just because he would be so very easy to settle for. She knows that he's been dismissed since the day he was born, and that if it wasn't for the golden Panther aura that glittered around him, and the beautiful face, he'd have just been another white-trash boy no one remembered the name of at class reunions. She thinks that was part of the draw. She's a pretty face and a trashy name, too, and she knows how much more thrums beneath her surface than anyone ever bothers to see. She can't decide if they're too much alike to work, or too different, but she doesn't think it matters. She's afraid if she thinks too hard, she might lose her resolve, let him slide back into her bed and her heart. There are roads leading out of Dillon painted in her dreams, and Tim is a dead end. But still, she remembers. And when the sun beats too-hot on black pavement and the dust makes it impossible to see a way out, she thinks of him, and his embrace, and how it felt easier, even if it wasn't.
Tim thinks of her smile at night, when he's alone in a dark house, Billy's distant breathing the only sound to break through the stillness. Tyra's built tall and lush with sunbeam hair and a pinup's face - but beneath the façade she's all sharp angles and harsh words. There's nothing soft about Tyra except the skin his fingers had memorized and the way she smiles when no one else was watching. Tim's never lacked for offers, and girls come and go. Lyla Garrity fills up spaces in his mind. Sometimes he's smart enough to know it's because he can pretend she's all the things he's always wanted and never had, but most of the time he forgets the reality was a crying, lost girl who never knew what she wanted. He thinks that if he tried hard enough - wanted it bad enough - Tyra would be there for him, because it's what they both are. They both know how to be the trash left behind when the storm's blown through. But Tyra's a real girl, and when he looks at her - when she doesn't smile - he thinks of all his own edges, and how often he makes himself bleed. But at night, when there's no one there who matters and dream girls seem less solid, Tim thinks of Tyra, and he wonders.
They don't know if it was ever love. They both would rather believe love is something better. Neither believes they'll ever even know what love really is. Most of the time, they'd rather believe it's nothing at all.
Lesson In Survival
Real love is returned.
If you ask him, Landry will say he doesn't know, but in the end he thinks love can't be real if it's just you, watching someone walk away time and time again. It's not love when they never walk back to you. It's not love when you're never the one who sees the slow smiles and the kiss-dazzled eyes. Friendship is arms around the shoulders and punches to the shoulder. Long talks about girls and advice on where to put your hands without getting slapped. Landry knows friendship. He does it well. Love would be if Matt twisted under that arm and kissed his neck. Real love is returned. It's not what you find in the meantime. It's not beautiful, lost football boys who drink themselves into stupors and kiss you like they're dying right before they pass out.
Real love is loyal.
Tim knows that, and he wanted to be the sort of man who stands through anything. But he's only ever been strong when he had Six to lean on, and without him, he's drifting. Lyla burns behind his eyelids whenever he closes them, and he dreams of Street, strong and tall and beside him on the field. This isn't love. He knows that. If it was love, he would be worth loving. Love isn't a knife in the back of a fallen friend. If it was love, Street would still be standing, and they'd be on even ground when he kissed him. Even if he never kissed back, it would be love. There isn't a corner of Tim's mind where he thinks Street ever would have wanted him the same way, but that's never mattered.
The way Tim wants now isn't love. It's penance. The list of names Tim's fucked over hums in the back of his head. TyraLylaSix. Always Six. Love isn't an apology sitting heavy in the back of his throat. It's not his dorky math tutor shutting his eyes when he kisses him, ignoring the way Tim groans a name that never could be his.
They're not in love. They know they never will be. For them, this is what love isn't; love is something they'll always watch leave.
Jason thinks of Lyla all the time. Even though it hurts. Even though every thought of her comes laced with Tim, and pain, and images of her mouth on his and his hands on her skin. Still, he thinks of her. He thought of forever as a football field and Lyla's laugh, and now both seem too far away to be real. He likes to think he wouldn't have given up, if she'd been in the bed and he'd been on his feet, hoping she'd get out of it one day. The truth is he doesn't know. As the days wind by he talks about her less and less, because Herc's eyes roll and he knows that clinging to the past isn't going to help him get anywhere new, and he still hungers for that. He still wants to be someone. He's just not sure who. When he's alone though, he thinks of Lyla, and of what forever was supposed to look like. And then he thinks of Herc's face, and wonders what Herc's forever was meant to be, and who he can't keep from remembering when he lets himself be still enough to think.
Herc thinks of Jason's hands. Of how they used to throw a football down the length of a field and into the orbit of the recruiters, who had all crossed him off their lists now. He thinks of how far Jason has come, and how his hands close around the edges of his wheels, and the utensils he eats with, and he wonders if the QB has any idea how far he's come - or how far he has to go. Sometimes he sees Street staring off into the distance, attention fixed on a girl who isn't there, and he thinks that he could distract him. But Jason's got a long way to go, and sometimes Herc thinks he's got almost as far to go as the QB - even though he's been rolling along his way longer. He tries to make it easier for Street, but he knows there isn't any way to shortcut letting go of what you were to let yourself become something else.
They're not in love. They both think they know what love is, and that a kinship of loss isn't enough. Neither wants to think about who they'd call if the other wasn't there to keep them rolling, though.