I'm all for love,
but I can't see the light.
Tell me how to do it,
tell me how I'm gonna get it right.
I'm all for love,
but I'll try it again.
I don't wanna give up,
'cause I'm all for love.
It was all Julie Taylor could do not to scream in frustration; Tim Riggins was going to drive her crazy.
They were parked half a block down from her house, where Tim had stopped his truck to give her a goodnight kiss before dropping her off.
That was ten minutes ago, and now Julie was in his lap, her hands buried in his hair and her body pressed close to his. His mouth was on her neck, breathing harshly against her ear, and he had his hands up under the back of her shirt.
"Whoa," Tim gasped, resting his forehead against her collarbone and dropping his hands to her hips.
Slowly, Julie removed herself from his grasp and collapsed back into the passenger seat.
"Whew," she exhaled. Looking down at her dishevelled state, she primly adjusted her clothes.
"Yeah," Tim gruffed, clearing his throat.
Julie glanced over and found that he was watching her. His pupils were huge in the dim light, and his face was flushed. Julie sighed. It really wasn't fair that he was that ridiculously good looking.
"Very Berry is a nice look for you," she said, reaching out with her thumb and wiping some of her lip gloss off his bottom lip. "It really compliments your skin tone."
"You should probably go in," he replied, smiling benignly at her.
"Yeah, I really, really should."
They sat staring at each other, neither one wanting to break away. Julie felt herself leaning in closer.
"Night, Jules," Tim said firmly, pulling away and placing both hands firmly on the steering wheel.
"Okay," Julie said, grabbing her bag. "I can't eat lunch with you tomorrow; I have a calculus test I have to study for. Wanna meet me at work later?"
"What's in it for me?"
"Free fries, obviously."
"In that case, sure."
Julie grinned. "Night, Tim."
Julie hopped down from the cab of the truck, and began walking up the street to her house. Tim started his engine and trolled along slowly behind her in first gear until she got to her driveway. On the front step, Julie turned and waved to him. He smiled and peeled away with a screech of tires.
When Julie got inside, her father was standing in the foyer.
"Hey, honey," he said, looking over her shoulder as she closed the door.
"Hey, daddy," she replied, hanging up her jacket.
"You have a nice time? The movie was good?"
"Yup," she replied, nonchalant.
"Great. Hey, tell you what. Next time Tim drops you off, you tell him there's plenty of room in our driveway, so he doesn't need to park halfway down the street. He can even come in and say good evening, too."
"Okay," Julie replied, smiling sheepishly. "I'll tell him."
"You do that," he said, turning and heading back to the living room, where Tami and Gracie were relaxing on the couch.
"Night, everybody," Julie called, going straight to her room and throwing her bag down. She collapsed face first onto her bed and groaned.
They had now been dating for six weeks. Six weeks of studying with her parents breathing down their necks, six weeks of stolen lunch hour moments in his truck, six weeks of movies and dinners and ping-pong and ESPN and foosball at Tim's and drives out to the cliffs to play what Julie had christened "Beerflog."
Six weeks, and Tim hadn't so much as tried to get a hand in her pants even once.
They made out plenty, when the opportunity arose. But whenever they had the chance to take it further, Tim always managed to find a way to avoid taking advantage of it. The odd time they were left alone at Julie's house, or when Billy wasn't around, or when they drove out to the cliffs. The last time they'd gone out there to pelt beer cans and talk, Julie had made the apparent mistake of putting a hand on Tim's belt buckle when they were sitting in the truck, causing him to immediately mutter something about the time and drive her home with an extremely chaste goodnight kiss all she had to show for her efforts. They hadn't been back out there since.
At first, Julie had been pleased that he'd listened when she told him she wasn't ready to have sex. She figured that was a good sign. But she was starting to feel like maybe something was wrong with them, or with her, and Tim wasn't willing to talk about it. She was starting to wonder if he was even attracted to her. He was Tim, after all, and history indicated that this behaviour was totally out of character for him.
Sighing, Julie was about to get up to get ready for bed when her cell phone beeped.
Rummaging through her bag, Julie located her phone and flipped it open. The bright screen read NEW TEXT MESSAGE FROM TIM. Julie smiled. She had convinced him to get a cell phone a few weeks after they started dating, when she broke the news to him that her parents wanted every possible method of contacting him at their disposal. Much to her amusement, it had taken forever for Tim to figure out how to text, and although he claimed to still think it was stupid, she regularly got funny little messages from him throughout the day. She pressed the button to open the message, wondering if perhaps he was going to follow up their make-out session with a racy text message:
I just saw the coolest looking dog. :)
She snapped the phone shut and tossed it back in her bag. Rolling over, she pressed her pillow against her face and groaned again.
No, seriously. Tim Riggins was going to drive her absolutely crazy.
"Billy!" Tim shouted, dumping his things by the door and kicking the door shut.
"Keep it down; I'm right here," Billy replied from his prostrate position on the couch, perturbed.
Tim strode over and grabbed a beer from the six-pack sitting on the coffee table, cracking it open and collapsing into his favourite chair.
"Tell me this isn't the last beer," he said, turning his attention to Sports Center.
"No, there's more in the fridge," Billy replied, craning his neck to look at his brother. "What's got your panties in a bunch?"
"Nothing," Tim mumbled.
Billy squinted at him for a moment, before a smirk spread across his face. "Sexual frustration starting to get to you?"
"Shut up, Billy," Tim scowled.
"Why don't you just bang her already?" Billy asked, looking back at the TV. "She's cute and hot and obviously into you."
"I know that," Tim replied, glaring at his brother. "I just... you know."
"No, I don't know. What?"
"Never mind," Tim huffed, standing up and stomping off to his bedroom.
"Come on, Tim," Billy called after him, laughing. "Quit being such a baby."
Tim ignored his brother, closing his bedroom door and putting his beer down on the cluttered dresser. He glared at the messy room.
Billy was right – the sexual frustration was starting to get to him. He hadn't gone this long without sex since he lost his virginity. There had been a stretch there, when he was dating Tyra and messing around with the rally girls, when having sex had been like breathing. This whole no sex thing hadn't been so bad during the football season, but now that he couldn't use games or two-a-day practices to spend his pent-up energy, it was harder.
It didn't help that Julie was coming onto him pretty much constantly, either. It was getting to the point where Tim hesitated to spend time alone with her, because he knew that at some point she would push things further and he'd feel like he had to stop it.
Tim ran a hand through his hair and sat down on the edge of his bed, nursing his beer. He wasn't sure what his problem was. It wasn't that he didn't want to sleep with Julie; he did. Frankly he thought about having sex with her what felt like every second of the day.
The problem was that a lot had changed since a year ago, or even six months ago, and he wasn't so dumb that he hadn't figured out that sex could really screw things up. He'd never had a relationship with a girl that wasn't based partly or completely on sex. It was as much a surprise to him as anyone else, but he wanted things to be different with Julie.
Experience had proven that his usual approach to relationships didn't work out so well, and he had way too much riding on their relationship to screw it up. Things had never worked out with Tyra, even when he finally really tried. The whole thing with Lyla was a mess from the beginning. He'd thought he and Jackie could make it work, since they were pretty good together and Bo liked him, but that never went anywhere.
When Coach and Mrs. Coach gave them their tentative blessing, Tim knew that was a big deal. These were the same parents who had reservations about Matt Saracen, of all people. Tim took a good, hard look at things and decided that whatever he thought was a good thing to do, whatever he would automatically have done in the past, he was going to do the exact opposite. It was the only plan he could come up with that would maybe, just maybe, convince the Taylors that he was a decent guy.
It wasn't all about her parents and being a good boyfriend. It was more than that. He loved Julie. He was crazy about her, had been for months. She was smart and pretty and sexy as all hell in this weird, understated kind of way where he figured she probably didn't even know that everything she did drove him crazy. She was passionate and funny. She listened to him and laughed at his jokes, took him seriously and helped him with his homework without making him feel like he should probably still be in kindergarten.
He was sure that no one understood him and accepted and tolerated him the way Julie did; no one ever had. Not even Jay or Billy. In the short time they'd been dating, he'd told her things he'd never told anyone before. She had become his best friend.
Tim knew he wasn't the brightest guy around, but he didn't need to be told that Julie was his chance. He wasn't about to screw it up. Not this time.
Julie nudged a lukewarm Tater Tot across her plate and sighed, trying to concentrate on the chemistry homework spread out on the lunch table in front of her. It was three days since her last date with Tim, and she was finding it hard to concentrate on her schoolwork.
"You know," Tyra piped up from across the table, looking up from her own homework, "I used to use my lunch hour for important things like going to the mall or cruising the basketball team."
Julie smiled. "I apologise for my lameness. Am I keeping you?"
"Shut up, you know what I mean," Tyra grumbled, frowning down at her homework. She passed her notebook over to Julie. "Does this answer look right? Something's not adding up. Literally."
"Ugh, algebra," Julie shuddered. "Not my forte. You should probably ask Landry."
"Hm," Tyra agreed noncommittally, taking the notebook back and turning her pencil over to erase her work and start over.
"What, are you two off again?"
"I honestly have no idea," Tyra sighed. "Whatever, you know?"
Julie observed the tense angle of her friend's downturned head. Best to just let it lie for now, obviously.
"Hey Julie, Tyra," came a voice from beside the table. Julie looked up to see Megan Baxley, one of the senior rally girls. Tyra didn't respond to the greeting, instead merely raising an eyebrow at the girl before resting her chin in her hand and pasting a flinty smile on her face.
"Hey," Julie replied, somewhat wary. "What's up?"
"Not a lot, just thought I'd come over and say hi."
"Oh, okay. Hi," Julie said, trying to ignore the way Tyra was stomping firmly on her toes under the table.
"So listen, is Tim going to be at the car wash next weekend?" Megan asked, obviously trying to seem casual.
"What car wash?"
"Oh. I thought he would have told you... Well, anyway, we're having a car wash next Saturday to do some fundraising for the Panthers."
"Isn't football season over?" Julie asked.
"Yeah, aren't there some other sports you could have little bake sales and raffles for? Girls' sports, maybe?" Tyra interjected.
Megan shot Tyra a dirty look before turning back to Julie.
"We just wanted to know whether Tim's gonna be there. We were hoping he could help us wash his truck and get some good pictures for the yearbook. Like last year, I mean."
"I don't think those pictures were for the yearbook," Tyra muttered, looking back down at her textbook.
"Um, I really have no idea," Julie said, with an indifferent shrug. "He's not much of a joiner."
"Oh, I wouldn't say that," Megan giggled, causing both Tyra and Julie to glare at her. They were prevented from responding, however, by another new arrival at the table.
"Hey ladies," Tim said, coming up behind Megan with his (probably empty, Julie surmised) backpack over one shoulder and an overloaded plastic lunch tray in his hand. He stepped around Megan to sit down next to Julie, immediately beginning to scavenge her tray for unwanted Tater Tots.
"Hi Tim," Megan chirped. "We were just talking about you. I was asking Julie here whether you were going to be at the car wash on Saturday, but she didn't seem to know."
All three girls turned and looked at Tim expectantly. He stared blankly up at Megan, frowning around a mouthful of Tots.
"Uh," he mumbled, turning to crack open one of the two root beers on his tray, "I actually have no idea what you're talking about. Sorry."
Megan stared back at him, stupefied, before turning a glare on Tyra and Julie. She spun on her heel and stomped off to the table full of rally girls at the other end of the cafeteria.
Julie turned and looked at her boyfriend, who was studiously assembling a taco on his plate. "Did you seriously not know about this car wash?"
"I think I got an email about it, but I dunno. I never check that thing. Who cares?" he shrugged. He glanced over and met her eyes, his gaze warm and unconcerned. Smiling, he leaned in to kiss her. "Lookin' cute today, JT."
Julie rolled her eyes, but kissed him back, letting her hand rest on his thigh as he went back to eating his lunch.
"Do you mind?" Tyra sighed, glowering at Tim. "I'd like to actually keep my lunch down today, if it's not too much to ask."
Tim merely grinned at her, causing Tyra to turn her scowl heavenward as though pleading for a lightning bolt to shoot down from the sky and do away with him. Julie smiled at her friend. Tyra still wasn't Tim's biggest fan, but in truth there were no hard feelings, and she tried to tolerate him for Julie's sake.
"Charming as your company is, Tim, I think I'm going to leave you two lovebirds to your lunch and see how much of this I can cram before my algebra test this afternoon," Tyra said, gathering her things. "Later, y'all."
"Later, Tyra," Julie replied. She watched Tyra walk out of the cafeteria, then turned back to Tim. "So are you going to go to the carwash?"
"Nope," Tim said, stealing another Tot from her tray.
"Oh. Don't you kinda have to?"
"It's not like the stuff the rally girls do is official," he shrugged. "I don't have to be there."
"Yeah, but... I mean, I wouldn't care if you did. You know?"
Tim stopped eating and gave her a suspicious sideways glance. "Is this some kinda test?"
"No," Julie replied, raising her eyebrows innocently and looking back down at her homework. "I just didn't want you to think that you can't keep doing the stuff you'd normally do for football simply because we're dating."
Tim was silent for so long that Julie looked up and found him watching her, a smile on his face. "You did not mean a word of what you just said."
"Whatever," she huffed, embarrassed. She was trying to be a cool girlfriend, but apparently Tim was more observant than she gave him credit for.
"Look, Jules – I get what you're saying. But I'm sure as hell not getting out of bed at 9 in the morning on a Saturday so I can stand in some parking lot washing cars. Anyway, don't you work on Saturday?"
"Then I'm probably gonna sleep in, then come bug you until you get off work. All right?"
Julie exhaled, blowing her bangs up out of her eyes. "All right."
"Sweet. So, Tyra mentioned something about an algebra test this afternoon. I'm in her class. You think that's a big one, or...?"
Failing to look stern, Julie rolled her eyes and pelted him with a Tater Tot.
"Get up, Riggins!" Coach barked from the sidelines, for what seemed like the hundredth time that afternoon. Groaning in pain, Tim hoisted himself up from the turf.
"Come on!" Mac chimed in. "We don't got all day here, Riggins!"
Tim jogged back to the line of scrimmage so that they could run the drill again. The stupid, punishing drill that they'd been doing all practice, the drill which ended with him face down on the thirty yard line every single time.
He glanced over at Coach as he passed, but the man's sunglasses obscured his expression, and his face was as hard and impassive as ever.
Frowning, Tim took his place and crouched into position. This kind of thing had been going on for weeks, ever since they resumed practices after playoffs and winter break. Coach was working him hard, harder than Smash or Santiago or even Saracen.
He couldn't help but wonder if it didn't have something to do with dating Julie. Had he done something wrong? He thought he'd been doing a pretty good job of not being a total screw-up. Hadn't he?
The play was called and the ball was snapped to Matt, who shovel-passed to Smash. Tim sprinted down the field with all his might, trying to block Smash. But the defensive end, a sophomore named Crawley, came shooting out of nowhere and took Tim out before he had a chance to react. Tim skidded hard into the turf, picking up grass and mud in his grill.
"Damn it," he swore, giving an annoyed little shove to get Crawley off his back.
"What the hell, Riggs?" he heard Smash scolding. Tim stood up slowly to see his teammate walking towards him, his hands empty. Tim scowled. He was always in for an earful any time Smash ended up with empty hands.
He didn't have time to reply, though, because Coach was calling him over to the sidelines. He pulled his helmet off and jogged over. Coach continued to stare out at the field, not looking directly at Tim.
"You're all over the place out there, Riggins," he said simply.
"Yes, sir," Tim replied. He couldn't really disagree.
"Go do a lap of the field, clear your head, then get back in there."
Tim stared at Coach for a moment before dropping his helmet on one of the benches and doing as he was told.
The man wouldn't even look at him. This definitely had to be about Julie.
Tim did his lap and kept his head down, doing his best to just get through the rest of practice. Thankfully it only lasted another ten minutes before Coach blew his whistle and called it a day. Later, he was on his way out of the showers when Smash started giving him the gears.
"What's with you, Riggs?" Smash asked, falling into step beside him as they headed to their lockers, towels around their waists.
"Nothing," Tim replied, shrugging. "Bad day, I guess."
"Yeah, right. Ain't like you to have three weeks of bad days," Smash said, rolling his eyes. He dropped his voice to a low whisper. "Look, you never played like this before you got together with Coach's daughter. What's the deal? She not giving it up or something?"
Tim stopped and glared at his teammate and sometimes friend. "You better shut your mouth, Williams," he replied, his voice low.
Smash tilted his head, looking exasperated, like Tim was doing this on purpose. "You know it ain't like that, I'm not disrespectin' your girl. I'm just trying to figure out where the hell your head's at."
"None of your goddamn business," Tim snapped, turning away to open his locker, still angry. He would have punched that smug look off Smash's face if it wouldn't have gotten him in even more trouble with Coach than he was probably already in.
"It is my business if it affects this team," Smash continued.
"The season's over and you already got accepted by TMU," Matt piped up, suddenly standing right there. Tim could tell from the stormy expression on his face that he'd heard the entire conversation. "So just drop it already, Smash."
Smash huffed in annoyance but dropped, heading to his own locker to change.
Tim looked up and met Saracen's eyes. The quarterback gave him a tight nod and turned away to root through his locker.
"Maybe this is just me, here, but I don't see what the correlation is between what's happening on the field and what's happening in our romantic lives," Landry observed with great seriousness from Matt's other side, carefully buttoning up his shirt.
"Shut up, Landry," Matt muttered, almost too low for Tim to hear. Tim frowned as he reached for his jeans. Matt probably hated him more than he was letting on, but Tim appreciated that he was being cool about it. Neither of them was about to let Smash run his mouth about Julie and make things more awkward than they needed to be.
Tim finished dressing and began to leave, ready to head home and hit the couch with Billy. Julie was working, and the restaurant tended to be too busy in the evenings for there to be much point in him showing up to visit her. He was on his way out of the locker room when he saw Coach standing in the doorway of his office, watching him.
"Riggins. Come on by my office, I wanna talk to you."
Tim nodded, following Coach into his office, fingering the strap on his duffle bag apprehensively. Had Coach heard what they'd been talking about?
"Shut the door behind you," Coach said, sitting down behind his desk. "Have a seat."
Tim silently did as he was told, dropping his bag on the floor and sitting in the chair across the desk from Coach.
"How's it going, Riggins?"
"How's what going, sir?"
"School, things at home... Everything."
"Uh," Tim frowned, trying to think of what the right answer might be. "Fine, I guess."
Coach regarded him for a moment before leaning forward and placing his elbows on his desk. "What are you doing out there, son?"
Tim blinked. "Out where, sir?"
"On the field, Riggins. Seems to me your head's not really in the game. What's going on?"
"Nothing, Coach. That new defensive play's gonna be a killer. I can't do anything with it."
Coach nodded, looking down at his hands clasped on the desk for a moment.
"You wanna go to college, Riggins?"
Tim stared. Did he want to go to college? What kind of question was that? "I dunno, sir. Guess I never really thought about it."
"You're one of the top ranked high school fullbacks in the entire state of Texas and you've never thought about going to college?"
Tim shrugged helplessly. "Not really, sir. College was always... I dunno. Not for me, I guess."
Coach stared at him hard, working his jaw. Tim could tell he was pissed off.
"Let me tell you something right now, Riggins – college is for everyone. You hear me? Everyone. There is absolutely no reason whatsoever that you can't get yourself a scholarship to any number of schools in the next year."
Tim didn't reply, choosing instead to look down at his shoes. He was confused about where this conversation was coming from, where it was going.
"Let me tell you something else, too – I believe that you can do this. I believe that you can go to college. But you have to want it, and you have to work hard."
Tim looked back up at Coach. "Is this about Julie, sir?"
Coach exhaled through his nose, annoyed. "No, this isn't about Julie. I'm not going to treat you any different from my other players, regardless of the fact that you are dating my daughter. No better and no worse. This is about you. It's about what you want, what you're capable of. If you can show me that you care about football, about this team, about your future and yourself, then I will do everything in my power to help you."
Tim swallowed and looked down again. He didn't know how to feel about any of this. Did he want to go to college? He had no idea.
All he knew was that he wanted to do whatever it took to get Coach to keep looking at him like that, like he looked at Saracen and Smash and, not so long ago, Jason.
"Okay," he replied, nodding. "What do I have to do?"