Pairing/Characters: Tim Riggins, Julie Taylor, Julie/Tim
Word Count: ~5,000
Spoilers/Notes: Takes place during 2x13 "Humble Pie." This is a story about how Tim and Julie move on after the traumatic events of the night in lindentree's The Door's Open, But The Ride, It Ain't Free, so won't make much sense unless you have read that piece. The title comes from the Queens of the Stone Age song The Blood is Love.
Warnings: Mentions of rape, sexual assault and triggering-type events.
Disclaimer: Characters from FNL do not belong to me, and I only write about them for fun. No money is made, has been made, or ever will be made from this work.
Thanks so much to lindentree for letting me write fanfic to her fanfic.
Julie shook her head, turning toward her locker. Riggins had just walked by her in the hallway again, resolutely staring at his boots, refusing to make eye contact. Ever since the incident with those awful meth dealers, he had looked like utter hell. Not that he was ever much of one for bathing, but she seriously doubted that he cleaned himself more than once or twice a week these days, and probably only then because her father got tired of the smell and tossed him into the showers. The bags under his eyes were so monumental, the Romantic poets would have written lyrical ballads about them.
She shuffled her stack of books, putting World History on bottom and pulling her AP English book from the top and slipping it into her bag for class. Julie's heart ached for what had happened to her from the moment she got up in the morning until she finally managed to fall asleep at night - a constant, dull pain in her chest refusing to let her forget and move on. Her heart ached even more for not having a friend she could confide in, for the complete loneliness in her mind.
Out of the corner of her eye, she caught Tim sneaking a glance at her before he pushed his way out through the front doors of the school. Probably ditching again. Definitely drinking again. Anytime she got within five feet of him, she could smell the harsh stink of alcohol wafting off him, mixed in with the smell of sweat. Didn’t smell like beer, but Julie wasn’t exactly well-versed in the world of hard liquor. She supposed it was whiskey or something. Football practice couldn’t be going well for him, but her dad never said anything.
It had been three weeks since Tim had spoken to Julie or really even looked at her, but whenever she managed to catch a glimpse of Tim's face, the empty, broken look in his eyes told her he was hurting just as much as she was.
The morning after she’d slept in his bed she’d woken up with his head on her chest, her borrowed t-shirt still damp from his tears (and, she discovered later, a bit of his blood). She'd tried not to move because it looked like he’d finally managed to drop off, but her arm had fallen asleep. He stirred as soon as she shifted her arm into a more comfortable position, jerking his head up to look at her, his eyes puffy and confused. They had stared at each other in awkward silence for a moment, and then they got up, she got dressed, and Tim drove her home. He had been twitchy the whole way there, shifting in his seat, avoiding her eyes. They hadn't said word one to each other since.
She shifted her bag up higher on her shoulder as she rounded the corner to her next class, lost in thought. She didn’t blame him, not really. He’d done the physical act, but it wasn’t as if he had a choice. It was those two sweaty, hillbilly bastards that had raped her, and it was toward them that the smoldering knot of hatred in her belly was directed. But he definitely acted guilty - as if he thought she blamed him, as if he blamed himself.
Not for the first time, her eyes welled up with tears and she thought it might be better if she sat out this class in the girl’s bathroom.
"Honey, just what is going on with you? I've heard from more than one of your teachers that you’re missing class, one class here, one class there, but it really is adding up, Jules, and you're going to have to make it up somehow. Are you feeling sick, or are you…is someone bullying you or something like that?" Her mother sighed and reached out to stroke her hair. "You need to talk to me, Julie. That’s what we do, we talk."
Julie shifted on the sofa in her mom’s office, trying to stall for time. She couldn’t tell the truth, obviously. Telling her mom, her guidance-counselor mom, what had really happened, would get Tim in a world of trouble. More than his usual world of trouble. Like cops more than usual. And if her dad found out, he'd probably obliterate Tim from the face of the earth. So Julie kept her face tilted down, avoiding her mom’s eyes, and stalled.
"No, it's nothing like that, it’s just...it’s kind of private, can we talk about it at home?"
"Jules, it’s just as private here, in my office, with the door closed, as it is at home." Julie could tell her mom was running out of patience; her voice was starting to make that shift from solicitous to suspicious. Her mind raced, trying to think of a forgivable excuse for ditching class.
Still looking at her lap, she whispered, "I’ve been cramping. Like, really bad." It sounded kind of weakly plausible, but she hoped her mom wouldn’t think about it too hard – she’d been missing classes here and there for a couple weeks now.
"Oh, honey, why didn’t you say something? It’s worse than normal, then? Have you been taking Midol or Advil in the mornings?"
"Yeah, just...it hasn’t been working that well. It keeps wearing off. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to cause you any trouble with my teachers."
"Sweetheart, don’t be silly." She felt her mother’s arms wrap around her, squeezing her tight. "You’re never any trouble." Julie swallowed hard and bit her lip, thinking it was sad that Tim didn’t have a mom to tell him something like that.
She wished so much that she could just tell her mother what had happened, have her swoop in like she always did and fix everything for her and Tim both, but there was just no way. Not only would Tim get in unbelievable amounts of trouble, it would break her mother's heart to know something like that had happened to her little girl. Julie knew the only thing she could do was try and talk to Tim, and as much as he'd been avoiding her and ditching school, she still knew where to find him.
"Is it okay if I go now?" Julie extricated herself from the hug. "I need to get to my History class, Mr. Hapferger said if I missed again, my grade was going to go down."
"Now, don't you worry about Mr. Hapferger, Jules. I'll talk to him if there's any problem." Her mother's eyes were concerned. "Are you sure you're doing all right, hon?"
"Yeah. Yeah, I'll be fine, Mom. Don't worry." Julie reached out and squeezed her mother's hand reassuringly before she turned to leave.
Tim’s truck smelled a little like gasoline and a lot like a locker room. Julie nudged an empty beer can around on the floorboard with her toe, glad that Tim hadn’t locked the door. Even if he had, she’d carried a wire coat hanger in her schoolbag this morning. His truck was pretty old, and had those old-fashioned locks that pushed down from the top of the door. She would have found a way in.
Julie wasn’t nervous about confronting Tim. She was too worn out to be nervous. She had seen him in the hall too many times, had spent too many class periods crying in the bathroom and too many nights crying herself to sleep to be nervous. She was floating somewhere between numb and furious. If she didn't manage to get Tim to talk to her, to stop walking around like the living dead and act like a friend, she felt like she was either going to slap him or have a nervous breakdown.
There was no way he didn’t see her sitting in the cab of his truck as he walked out to the parking lot after practice. But he got in anyway, turned the key, and put it in gear. Hands resting on top of the steering wheel, he just looked at her with that blank expression on his face and asked, "So where we goin’, Taylor?"
That easy. Julie clenched her fist in her lap and resisted the strong urge to punch him. Three weeks without a word, and this is what he had to say. She didn't know what she had expected. Maybe more mea culpa, less Tim-ness.
"Out in the country. You know where." Julie kept her voice quiet, afraid if she didn’t keep tight control she was going to yell. The beer can rolled back and forth under her foot, crackling over the little rocks in the rubber floor mats.
"Yeah." Tim ran his fingers through his hair with a frown. "I know where." He took his foot off the brake, let the clutch out, and steered them away from the school parking lot and into the boonies.
"I’m not going to break, Tim. You can talk to me."
The trip was going like this: Tim would glance at her every five minutes or so. Then he would open his mouth as if he was going to say something. His mouth would close again, he would shake his head, and then his eyes would go back to the road. This had happened three times before Julie lost her patience. He looked at her now, a confused crease between his eyebrows. "Why would you even want me to talk to you?"
"I don’t know, Tim," Julie said, her voice high and brittle, "maybe because you’re supposed to be my friend and we’ve been through hell together? Maybe because I’ve got no one else to talk to? Maybe because you look like you haven’t slept in weeks?" Her voice was getting louder, and she didn’t want it to. She counted to ten in her mind before continuing. "Take your pick, Tim. No matter what you choose, we need to talk."
Tim just sighed, down-shifting to slow the truck. "We’re here, little Taylor."
"Park your truck. The way it was that night."
With his lips pursed together and his forehead furrowed, Tim took a slow U-turn, turning the truck around so it was pointed back toward Dillon, and then pulled off to the side of the road. He killed the engine.
"Get out," Julie said quietly.
"Get out, Tim." Tim shot her a worried glance and shifted in his seat. He looked smaller than usual, hunched over in the driver’s seat, his hair all puffy and unclean. "Please. We need to talk, and it needs to be here." He nodded silently without looking at her and opened his door. Julie followed suit, her clean shoes kicking up the loose reddish dust as she stepped out. Their doors slammed closed almost simultaneously. Julie looked around, blinking in the harsh sun. It really was just a deserted old back road. She walked around the back of the truck to see Tim standing outside the driver’s door, his arms hugging his chest. He was squinting in the sun, his lips set in a tight line.
Julie approached him from the front and took hold of his arms. They were coated in a thin sheet of sweat, since he didn’t have sleeves or A/C. Tim looked only mildly confused as she gently pushed him until his back was pressed against the truck door. He let her do it, dropping his arms down to his sides. The sun was still bright, but low on the horizon, and it cast dark shadows over the parts of his face that weren’t hidden by his scraggly hair as he looked down at her. His football-player form towered over her, his breathing even and steady.
"I want you to remember that night, Tim."
A quick expression passed over his face, somewhere between sorrow and anger. "You think I could forget?" His voice was a low rumble, softer than usual.
"No, but I want you to remember it as if it were happening right now, and I want you to think about it as if you were me."
"As if..." Tim’s voice cracked. "Julie, I’m sorry. I told you I was sorry."
"Shhhh, I’m not trying to make this worse, I’m trying to make it better. Now just...pretend that I’m you, all right?" She pressed up close to him, their bodies touching, but still kept her hands on his arms. "So here we are, okay? Just pretend this is you pushing me up against the truck. Now you look over my shoulder, and what do you see?"
"Just...just an empty road. There’s nothin’ out here." Ever the literal thinker. With a sigh, Julie pressed on.
"Right, it's like that now, but think about that night, think about me standing where you are now. What did I see?"
"You saw Guy."
"With a gun, Tim. And another guy with a shotgun. Two guys, with guns, both of them pointed at you." She looked up at Tim and he was frowning, the look in his eyes obscured by a curtain of dingy hair. He nodded.
"And what did you tell me to do?"
"I don’t remember."
"Yes you do, Tim. Think back. What did you tell me?"
"I...told you to close your eyes, not to look at them."
"Do you think I did that?"
"You should’ve." Tim's arms were shaking. He was starting to cry. "You should have, Julie."
Julie stroked her thumb against his bicep and squeezed his arm softly. "Well, I didn’t." She turned her head to the side and laid it against his chest. It was warm against her cheek. "Maybe I should have," she murmured. "But my eyes were wide open the whole time, Tim. I know you didn't have any choice."
Tim took a ragged breath, his chest rising and falling under her cheek. "Julie, you told me no."
She nodded against his chest. "I know. And so you think you raped me. But you didn't, Tim. It was them, those..." Julie shuddered. "It wasn't your fault, all right? They did it to me. Not you." And they did it to you, too, she thought, but she couldn’t bring herself to say it. There was no way she was going to try to get a guy like Tim Riggins to cope with the thought that he’d been sexually assaulted.
Julie swallowed hard, trying to will down the lump in her throat, knowing what she had to say next. "Tim?"
"Since we're talking now, I really, really need to tell you something."
"Okay." Tim's voice was little more than a whisper.
Julie took a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I wasn’t...I’d never had sex before. I was a virgin." She had pictured this moment over and over again in her mind while she waited for Tim in the truck, finally being able to say it out loud. Every time, she had imagined herself dissolving into tears, letting the dam break loose that she'd been holding back for weeks, afraid someone would find out what had happened if she let herself go to pieces. But now the tears clung to the corners of her eyes as if they were just too tired to fall.
For a second she thought Tim had stopped breathing. Then she felt his arms wrap around her, cradling the back of her head gently as he sank them both down to the ground. He silently pulled her into his lap, and they stayed there like that, leaned up against the truck in the dirt, until the last tinges of sunlight were gone.
"It was still my fault, Julie. I stole the money from them, that’s why they came after me that night." After getting back to Dillon, they’d both decided they were pretty much starving, so they stopped at the Alamo Freeze. Luckily, Matt wasn’t working the counter, since she and Tim both pretty much looked like death warmed over, all red-eyed and disheveled.
"Tim, you’ve got to get over this whole blaming yourself thing. They didn’t have to be such jerks, they already beat you up once before." Julie popped a fry in her mouth. Now they were heading to Tim’s house because Julie really wasn’t ready to go home. "Anyway, why did you steal the money from them in the first place?"
"Because Billy lost his job and couldn’t pay the mortgage."
"See? Not your fault." Julie swirled another fry around in her ketchup. "Stupid, but not your fault."
Tim glanced at her sideways with a small grin playing over his lips. "You’re nice one minute and mean the next. How am I supposed to keep up with that?"
"Sometimes I’m even nice and mean all in the same sentence." Julie tossed a fry at him, and it hit him right in the forehead. She giggled. "You’ll just have to do your best."
Hanging out at Tim's house and watching TV was almost as bad as watching TV with her dad. What was it with these football players that they thought ESPN was the only channel worth watching? They had finished up their Alamo burgers and fries in silence, and Julie couldn't keep her eyes open anymore. It was just one stat after another, this player ran so far, caught a thousand passes...she started to doze off, her head on Tim’s shoulder.
She woke up to find him carrying her toward the front door, her schoolbag over his shoulder. "Hey, sleepy. I need to get you home." Julie shook her head and closed her eyes.
"I’m staying here. I called my parents when you were in the bathroom. Told them I was staying over at a friend’s house."
Tim stopped walking. "Oh. All right, I’ll get you set up with some PJ’s and I’ll just crash out here on the couch."
Julie shook her head again, not opening her eyes. "You don’t get off that easy, Riggins." Not after not talking to me for three weeks. "You’re staying with me. But you have to take a shower first. You don’t smell very good."
"Nice one minute, mean the next," Tim muttered, even as he carried her toward the bedroom.
"You should wash your hair, too." Julie opened her eyes, wanting to look Tim in the face for emphasis. "It really needs it." Tim’s eyes lit up a bit with his half-smile.
"Yes, ma’am. Any other requests?"
Julie sighed and let her eyes drift closed again, snuggling her head into the crook of his arm. "Nope. Just let me sleep until you get out of the shower, then I’ll wash up and change."
Half-awake, Julie smelled him before she saw him, a nice wet showered-boy smell, all soap and humidity. She stretched and opened her eyes a crack. "My turn?"
"Yup." Tim walked up to the side of the bed and sat down with his back to her, wearing only a pair of sweats cut off at the knees.
Julie’s eyes went wide at the sight of his bare back, and she felt her stomach clench into a knot. "Tim?" Her voice sounded unnaturally high, even to her own ears.
He twisted to look at her, his eyes dark with concern. "Are you all right?"
"Yes. Yeah. Just...would you mind wearing a shirt to bed?" She didn’t remember sitting up, but there she was on the far side of the bed from Tim with the blankets bunched around her waist.
Tim stood up quickly and moved away from the bed. He started shuffling through a laundry basket. "Oh. Yeah, of course. I wasn’t thinking." His face was turned in profile, and Julie could see his jaw muscles clenched, like her father’s did when he was angry or upset. Tim slipped a t-shirt over his head and turned to look at her with a worried expression on his face.
Julie felt like she was frozen, partly from fear but mostly from a mixture of embarrassment and horror at her reaction. She opened and closed her mouth several times, trying to think of something to say.
"It’s all right, Tim. I was just surprised. I didn’t expect...I don’t know...just come back here, okay?" She scooted herself to the edge of the bed and reached out for him, and he stepped toward her slowly. "Come here." Tears pricked again at the corners of her eyes. Tim knelt down in front of her, and even kneeling his head was close to level with hers. One tear traced its way down her cheek, and then another. She pulled him into a hug, his damp hair pressed against her cheek. "I’m sorry," she whispered, and she breathed in the scent of him, sweet and clean, and then there was too much pressure inside of her and it was all flowing over her and through her, her hatred and her anger and her hurt and her heartbreak and something inside her couldn’t take it anymore and finally, finally the dam broke.
"I’m so sorry, and I’m so angry at those bastards for making me feel like this. I hate them," she sobbed, choking the words out. "I hate them so much." She let go of Tim with one arm so she could pound her fist into the bed. "I hate them!" She was shrieking now, and it felt good. She wished it wasn’t a bed she was hitting, she wished she could hit those horrible, disgusting men and kick them and claw their little ugly piggy eyes out. Weapons were too good for them, she wished she could grab them by the hair with her bare hands and slam their heads against the pavement until they bled. Those fucking bastards, for taking her virginity, for using her friend to do it, for making her afraid of his skin. "God damn them!" she screamed, and now she was kneeling on the bed because that way she could hit it with both fists, and she did, pounding as hard as she could over and over again, screaming and sobbing and cursing them, until finally she was too exhausted to hit anymore and she laid her head and her chest down on the bed and cried.
Tim had felt it coming, something almost tangible in the air right before Julie snapped, the same way he could smell a storm coming days ahead of time, the same way he could sense the change in the air, an unnameable thing kind of like a sharp, nasty scent or an electrical charge, seconds before his Mama’s mood would turn black. Always in time to dodge the inevitable blow, but he never did. He stood there and took it then, just like he knelt in silence and took it all in now, just like he let the rain wash over him when it finally decided to fall.
When Julie had calmed down enough that he was pretty sure she wouldn't strike out at him for trying to touch her, Tim settled his hand tentatively on the back of her head, moving his thumb slowly against her scalp. She was still breathing hard, but her tears were done. "I hate them too," he whispered, not knowing if she even heard him, "and this is not over. Swear to God, Julie, one of these days they're not gonna see me coming."
Tim hadn't seen or heard from Guy again after that night, but three weeks of practice and two games later, every single guy he hit out on the field was still Guy or Petey in his mind. He'd dealt out as much hurt as humanly possible, quietly satisfied at the ugly bruises most of his teammates were sporting, ignoring the coaches' comments that he must "really be eating his Wheaties."
For the first week or so, he'd driven over to Guy's house every day after practice, slowing his truck to a crawl as he passed by, hoping, wishing Guy would come out and confront him. Tim figured if Guy was armed, he could at least try to mow him down with the truck before he got shot. There was no way Guy didn't see him, if he was even in there. Tim never knew for sure, because he never came out.
Sometimes he'd circle around and drive by a few more times, and sometimes he'd just go home and drink, working on forgetting his burning anger and impotent, useless frustration at not being able to extract his revenge. He asked around, but no one in town seemed to have seen Guy since that night, like he'd up and disappeared. After that first week, he'd started to skip the driving part as a waste of good whiskey money and just went straight to the drinking part.
Billy drank with him for a few days in brotherly solidarity even though he didn't know what was going on, but anymore Billy would just look at him sideways with his eyes all squinty and take off for the Landing Strip or wherever else he could go to be where Tim wasn't. Tim would drink steadily until his mind went black and he could pass out for a few hours before school, which never lasted very long because there was no way he could avoid Julie. His stomach turned at the sight of her, and he knew she would be so much happier if she didn't have to see him either, so he'd just leave, doing his best to sneak past her unnoticed.
Not like it mattered. School invariably sucked anyway, and he was kicking so much ass on the field that the Boosters would string Coach up from the goalpost if he tried to kick Tim off the team for bad grades.
Tim stood up and moved Julie's body carefully, gently coaxing her legs out from under her so that she could stretch out. She was covered in sweat, but he knew she'd get cold soon enough. She looked so small and delicate, lying there on his bed. He'd heard it said before, but now he knew for sure that looks could be deceiving, because Julie Taylor was a hell of a lot stronger than she looked. It was still hard for him to believe she was even speaking to him, much less trying to make him feel better, after all the hurt he'd put her through. He pulled the blankets over her and it seemed like she was asleep, breath slowing to a calm rhythm, before he finished tucking her in.
Walking out to his truck today after practice, he'd thought some strange reflection made it look as if there was someone sitting inside. Then he realized there really was someone sitting in there, and not just some random rally girl or homeless drunk, but Julie Taylor sitting in the cab of his truck waiting for him. He was almost relieved, thinking that whatever she was going to do to him, even if it meant dragging him down to the police station, he sure as hell deserved it.
Never in a million years would he have guessed she was there to forgive him.
When Julie woke up, Tim was sitting on the bed next to her, back against the wall, his knees up to his chest. "Hey," she whispered, her voice hoarse and scratchy from screaming.
"Hey." Tim looked down at her, his face too deeply shadowed for her to see much more than the glint of his eyes. "I brought you some water."
Julie gratefully took the glass of water, drinking the whole thing down at once. She stretched slowly and sat up next to Tim, her back pressed to the wall, and he draped his arm around her shoulders. His body felt tense next to hers. Julie looked down at the empty glass in her hand, her mind blessedly blank.
"How are you feeling?" Tim's voice sounded soft and distant, as if his mind was somewhere else.
Julie didn't quite know how to describe her current state. "I feel...a little better, I guess." She continued slowly as the thoughts formed themselves in her head. "Tired. Kind of hollow. Like...my insides are buzzing." She sighed. "And like I want a shower."
Tim began to stroke her hair idly, pulling the strands between the fingers of his hand draped over her shoulder. "Can I ask you something?"
"Yeah, of course."
"I didn’t...we..." His hand shook a bit, but his voice was steady. "Do you think you might be pregnant?"
Oh. Oh. She probably should have told him. "I got my period three days later, Tim. I’m not pregnant."
Julie heard Tim’s head softly thunk back against the wall and felt the tension begin to dissipate from his body. She leaned her head against his shoulder, thinking that his mind must have been a terrible place to be these last few weeks.
A tiny voice inside her head said that it served him right for avoiding her for so long. She did her best to ignore it.
Tim hugged her closer and stroked her hair in silence for a few minutes, running his fingers out to the ends of the strands in a soothing rhythm. "I was so afraid...thought I'd really messed things up for you." He paused and pressed his cheek down against the top of her head. "I would have helped you."
She bunched her hand in the hem of his shirt and sighed. "I know you would have. You’re a good guy, Tim." They sat in silence for a few moments more. "Is it okay if I go shower now?"
His chuckle vibrated against her ear and he relaxed his arm, loosening their hug. "I think you may be obsessed with bathing, Julie."
"No, I just shower with about the same frequency as a normal person, Timothy." She smiled against his shoulder.
"Oh, so it’s Timothy now?"
"That’s right, and if I ever find out your middle name, I’ll use that too, mister."
Tim let out a long, drawn-out sigh, too dramatic to be believable. "Nice one minute, mean the next. I can't keep up."