Spoilers: Picks up after the first season finale
Disclaimer: If they were mine, George and Lemon would have gotten married.
Wade had his choice between a seat in the back closest to the door and one of two empty ones in the front row. He stood in the door, hesitating. Truth was, if this was still high school, there’d be no choice. Obviously he’d sit in the back. And probably sleep through the class anyway.
This wasn’t high school anymore. He was an adult, and he was making something of himself. If he was serious about this, then dammit, he needed to start acting like it.
He sighed and walked to the front of the room, trying not to feel like some kind of overachieving brainiac like Z – like some people he wasn’t thinking about anymore. Dropping into one of the seats, he nodded to the guy next to him and then slouched down, trying not to draw attention to himself.
Moments before the class was scheduled to start, someone sat at the desk on the other side of him. He glanced over, an easy grin automatically forming as he took in the long legs and blonde hair. His appreciation ground quickly to a halt, however, when his brain registered who he was actually looking at. She stared back at him, equally shocked.
Wade blinked and shook his head. “Lemon.”
Before they could say anything else to each other, the teacher walked into the room. Lemon sat up primly, clicking her pen and situating the notebook in front of her as she assumed a paying attention expression Wade remembered all too well from high school. He exhaled a still-disbelieving laugh, covering it up quickly with a cough as he too tuned into the class introduction.
“Welcome to Business Math.”
Wade sighed, finally turning to face Lemon as she hurried to catch up with him. “Hey Lemon.”
She slowed to match his pace, her face suddenly taking on an awkward expression. “I didn’t – I didn’t know you were signed up for this class.”
“Yeah, well. No one does. That was kind of the plan.”
Lemon shook her head. “What do you mean?”
Wade shrugged, refusing to look at her. “So when I can’t cut it…” he said, trailing off leadingly.
After a moment’s pause, Lemon confessed quietly, “I didn’t tell anyone for the same reason.”
Wade stopped walking and they stared at each other for a long moment.
“Do you want to grab something to eat before heading back to Bluebell?” Lemon finally asked.
“How ‘bout a drink?”
“Even better,” Lemon agreed, turning away again as she led the way to the community college’s parking lot.
“Are you kidding?”
Wade shifted in his seat uncomfortably. “No,” he said, fighting the urge to get defensive.
Lemon smacked his arm, and Wade drew back. “Ow!”
“Wade! That’s a great idea! I can’t believe I never thought of it before.”
“OK, what is going on?”
Lemon furrowed her brow and shook her head. “What do you mean?”
“You! You’re being all – all supportive.”
Lemon laughed that oh, silly Wade laugh that drove him up a wall, always had. “Oh, silly Wade,” she said predictably, prompting Wade to roll his eyes. “We are friends, after all.”
“No, we ain’t,” he reminded her.
Lemon’s façade broke and she dropped her eyes away from him. Wade sighed.
“Maybe I don’t – hate you,” he allowed.
“Well, good,” Lemon said, a more sincere smile coming to her face. “Because I figure, as the two biggest victims of Hurricanes George and Zoe, we both could use a friend.”
And suddenly, Wade was back to feeling uncomfortable again. “Vict – I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
Lemon just looked at him.
“So why are you taking the class?” Wade asked, emphatically changing the subject.
“It’s…a start, I guess,” Lemon said, sighing as she pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. “You’re not the only one who needs to figure out what they’re going to do with the rest of their lives. My plans…fell through. So, back to school.”
“Any ideas yet?”
“Um,” Lemon hedged, tracing a finger over the table top.
Wade ducked his head, trying to catch her eye. “Lemon?”
“Well, I was thinking…I like planning things, you know. Town events, parties, dances. I’m good at it, and heaven knows Bluebell has enough of them. If I’m gonna be doing it anyway, why not professionally?”
“Hmm,” Wade responded thoughtfully. He raised his beer bottle to his mouth and took a swig. “I could see that.”
“Really?” Lemon asked, relieved.
“Sure. You’ve always been bossy.”
Lemon huffed, shaking her head, and Wade couldn’t stop his snort of laughter.
“Anyway,” Lemon continued. “You want to be study buddies? Car pool?”
“Car pool, sure. You might not want to risk me as a study buddy. If one of us isn’t going to cut it…”
“Oh, Wade. You were always smarter than you gave yourself credit for. And you’ve already been running the Rammer Jammer like it was your own.”
Wade tilted his head in acknowledgement.
“I’m the one that hasn’t done anything like this in years,” Lemon added softly.
“When'd you ever get anything less than an A-?”
After a short pause, Lemon nodded her head sharply in determination. “Good point,” she agreed.
Wade grinned, shaking his head.
One of the first things Zoe noticed when George pulled to a stop in front of her place was the new fuse box. She knew it had been sitting in Lavon’s house for the last couple months, but Wade never had quite got around to putting it in. But during that last storm, when Zoe deliberately blew out the electricity, the old one officially died.
It had been a memorable storm in more ways than one.
Zoe shook herself, clearing her mind of the memories, and looked over at George with a smile. He glanced at her and smiled back.
“Well,” she said, feeling bizarrely nervous. “Thanks for picking me up.”
“No problem,” George replied. “I’m glad you had a good visit with your mama.”
Zoe laughed. “Well, it was a good visit to New York. Not so much with my mom, who didn’t take the news that I’m staying here indefinitely particularly well.”
“Well, I’m happy about it,” George informed her with a wink.
Zoe smiled. “You want to come in for a while?” she asked, ready to finally start this relationship for real after the delay of her impromptu trip.
George hesitated, looking out the driver’s side window. “Zoe, I thought we agreed – ”
“Not to immediately jump into things, I know.”
“It’s just…the town’s gonna talk enough as it is. It’s the least we could do to make it easier for Lemon.”
“No, I know. I mean, that’s part of the reason I went to New York so suddenly, remember? But I’m not asking you to move in with me or anything. Just hang out for a half hour.”
George half-smiled at her regretfully.
“Another time,” Zoe inferred in disappointment.
Zoe forced a smile to her face as she climbed out of the car. Leaning her head back in the window, she wished George a goodbye. Stepping back as he pulled away, she unintentionally looked towards Wade’s place.
There was no sign of life. Zoe sighed. Of all the things she found herself missing in New York, Wade calling out to her from across the distance was surprisingly one of the most notable. Not that he had done so all that much in the day and a half between her flight and the night they – the night of the storm.
Zoe turned away and walked to her door. She was with George now (almost, sort of), something she’d wanted since she first met him. No use in thinking too much about something that really shouldn’t have happened in the first place.
“I give up.”
“Wade, come on.”
“No, this is stupid. I’m stupid.”
“You are not, Wade! Just…take it step-by-step.”
Wade flopped back against the couch in Lemon’s den, sighing loudly. Lemon pushed away from the table so she could stand and walk over to him. Sitting down, she took his notebook and looked at his work.
“Wade…you have the right answer.”
Wade lifted his head to stare at her, his expression somewhere between shocked and skeptical. “I do?”
“Yes, Wade,” Lemon said, laughing.
“Really?” Wade took the notebook back from her and stared at his scrawled handwriting.
“Yes! So no more of this ‘stupid’ business, OK?”
Their conversation was interrupted by a door closing somewhere in the house.
“Lemon Zest! Sweetie?”
“Quick! Hide your notebook!” Lemon whispered urgently, rushing back to the table to clear off her own things.
Wade stared at her for a minute, then dropped his notebook behind the couch. He stretched out, awkwardly propping his elbow on the back of the couch. He leaned against his fist and tried to appear natural.
“In the den, Daddy!” Lemon called out sweetly.
“What’s the big deal? He’s your fa – ”
“So, what are we supp – ”
“Hush, Wade. Let me handle this.”
Brick opened the door and popped his head in, straightening up suddenly when he spotted Wade.
“Uh. Hi, Doc Bree – Brick.”
“What are you doing here?”
“Me?” Wade responded, his eyes widening slightly. “I – well, uh, I – we’re – ”
“Well, Daddy,” Lemon broke in. “I’ve asked Wade to teach me a little something about cars. You know, Cricket, her tire blew out the other day, and she was waiting by the side of the road for quite some time before she was able to get help. Can you imagine? The sun was almost down and everything. I just don’t know what I would have done. So. We were just deciding on a day that worked.”
Brick stared at her suspiciously for a moment. “OK, then,” he said before backing out of the room. Wade and Lemon both exhaled in relief.
“That was good, Lemon.”
“You weren’t,” Lemon replied, scoffing. “'I – I – uh.' Honest to Pete, Wade, it’s like you’ve never lied before, which I know isn’t true.”
“Shut up. It’s just something about a girl’s dad, Lemon. You wouldn’t understand.”
“Grab your notebook.”
Zoe looked up as the kitchen door opened. She felt her heart begin to speed up and her palms begin to sweat, but she hoped she looked like nothing was out of the ordinary. Lavon stopped speaking and glanced towards the door too.
“Hey, where you been?” he asked Wade. “Game starts in less than five.”
“I know, I know. I’m running – Zoe, you’re back.”
“Um, hi, Wade. How are you?”
Wade shrugged, reaching out and grabbing an apple from the bowl of fruit on the counter. Zoe felt strangely relieved when he nearly dropped it immediately; it was clear he wasn’t as casual and near-indifferent as he was trying to seem.
“Fine, I guess,” Wade finally answered. “Have a good trip to New York?”
“Ye – yes. I mean, sort of. Moms, you know.”
“Not really,” Wade replied, and Zoe inwardly cringed.
“Well…it was OK.”
Wade nodded, pressing one hand to the counter and leaning slightly as he finally looked at her. Neither one of them dropped the other’s eyes, and several quiet, increasingly uncomfortable moments passed. Lavon looked back and forth between them.
“So, anyway,” he said pointedly. “Game’s about to start. Zoe, you’re welcome to join us.”
“Oh no,” Zoe said quickly. “I think I’ll pass.”
She stood and walked quickly past Wade, trying not to react to the feel of his shirt as it brushed against her arm. She pulled open the door and looked back at them. Wade had twisted half around and was still looking at her.
“Bye,” she said quickly, disappearing out the door.
“What was that all about?”
“Don’t know what you’re talking about,” Wade replied as he flopped onto the couch.
“And why were you running late?”
“Lavon, come on. Game’s about to start.”
Lavon frowned at Wade but didn’t say anything else.
To Be Continued