Tommy has a list of reasons why he shouldn't even be considering whatever the hell this is as the remotest possibility. His list goes something like this:
01) She's too young.
02) He's her producer.
03) She's driving him crazy.
04) He's kind of dating her sister.
05) He wants her.
Tuesday morning, he finds Jude upside down on the couch in the lounge, eyes closed, absently tapping her toe to the beat of whatever she's listening to on her new iPod.
Leans against the doorway and watches her, and he's not admiring the lines of her legs and the subtle curves of her form. Not. At. All. She's halfway singing along under her breath, skipping words and verses here and there, humming whatever lyrics she doesn't know. Moves her fingers through chords against her thigh, like she's forgotten she's not holding a guitar.
"Take a picture," Kwest claps him on the shoulder, smirking. And he's spent too much time on the road when he thinks that implies something he could probably get arrested for in most countries.
He replies with an oh-so-clever, "Shut up," and leaves without a word to Jude.
He can't remember why he was looking for her in the first place, anyway.
Wednesday afternoon, he's apparently done something to piss Jude off.
He might have had a better idea of what, if he hadn't spent the entire time she was yelling at him wondering why god hated him enough to make her wear leather pants. Indulges briefly in a perverse fantasy of leather-clad Jude and handcuffs, and he never even knew he had that kink before. "--hear me?" she glares at him, arms crossed over her breasts, pushing them up slightly, and he blinks at her.
"Um, yes?" he offers, having no idea what he's agreeing to, and her mouth drops open. "I mean, no?"
"You weren't even listening, were you?" she demands, rolling her eyes in exasperation. She's wearing red lipstick. Red lipstick, and leather pants, and she's sixteen, you pervert, stop thinking about her on her knees with those red lips wrapped around your-- "Jesus, Tommy, what's your problem lately?"
And he doesn't realize he said it out loud until she looks at him, outraged. "What?!"
He goes off on a tirade that barely makes sense even to him about her lack of focus and her work ethic and would she please put some god damn clothes on and come up with some lyrics and stop wasting his time?
"Sir, yes sir!" she mocks him and turns on her heel, stomping back into the studio and slamming the door behind her, and he's suddenly having visions of Jude in a Catholic schoolgirl uniform calling him 'sir', and who knew he had that kink, too?
Kwest smirks at him, handing him a cup of coffee. "Smooth."
Late Wednesday night, he finds Jude on the floor of the studio, surrounded by crumpled up pieces of notebook paper. Her pen clips the side of his head as he walks in. "Hey!"
"Oh, sorry," she looks remarkably not sorry at all and tears a sheet of paper from her notebook, crushing it in her hand and lobbing it at his head deliberately. He tries to remember what he did to piss her off since she's taken to throwing things at him, but doesn't get much past red lipstick and leather pants. She leans back against the wall with a sigh, and Jesus, yes, she's actually pouting at him. (Get your mind out of the gutter, Tom, she's sixteen.) "This is useless," she says and tosses the notebook at his feet. "I suck."
Not. Even. Going. There.
He's not even going there, not even, and the image of Jude on her knees in front of him and red lips and how soft that hair would feel tangled in his fingers... Fuck, he's going to the special hell. (She's sixteen, asshole. Six. Teen.) He blinks, desperately tries to focus back on the matter at hand, and manages a very suave, "Huh?"
She raises an eyebrow, looking at him like he's delusional. "The lyrics?" And he still doesn't have a clue what she's talking about because the strap of her tank top is falling down her arm, leaving her shoulder bare in a way that's begging for his tongue to taste. "The new song? Is any of this ringing a bell, or did I dream you telling me to get off my ass and start working?"
He's pretty sure he never mentioned her ass. He can't possibly be that far gone.
"Tommy?" And now she's looking at him, concerned, pushing herself to her feet. "Are you feeling okay?"
Finds himself leaning into her touch when she lays a hand against his forehead, and he's a bad, bad man for getting half hard from her pressing up against him on her tiptoes as she looks him over. "You're kind of warm," she tells him, thumb stroking against his forehead in what she probably intended to be a comforting way, but her breasts are just barely touching his chest and her voice is soft and warm like honey. (Jude, honey, oh Christ, now he's definitely hard.) "Maybe you should go home and get some rest."
It takes every ounce of self-control he has to step away from her, to make some kind of vague agreement about going home. Every. Ounce. So it's totally understandable that instead of wallowing in guilt and taking a cold shower like he should, he jerks himself off thinking about Jude on her knees with her red lips wrapped around his cock, letting him fuck her pretty mouth. Imagines licking honey off her bare shoulder as he bends her over the soundboard.
Comes so hard his vision grays out, and he's too tired to contemplate the special hell.
But not too tired to dream about Jude in a nurse's uniform offering to make him feel better.
Thursday, he locks the door to Studio B and buries himself in mixing anything and everything except Jude. Loses himself in backbeats and samples, forgets the meaning of time in favor of getting the sound absolutely perfect.
"I know I locked that," he tells Jude when he hears the door open, because who else would bother him when he so clearly wants to be left alone? "Who taught you to pick locks?"
"Wouldn't you like to know," he can hear the smirk in her voice, and catches himself smiling at it. She sidles up next to him, leans back against the soundboard and presses her hand against his forehead. "Are you feeling better?"
No, no he's not. He's feeling old. And perverse. And insane. "Yeah."
"You still feel a little warm," she tells him, and who wouldn't feel warm with the view he's got of her breasts right now? She drops her hand before he can do anything completely stupid. And/or illegal. "Georgia says you've been in here all day."
He vaguely wonders what time it is, and lies, "I have a lot of work."
She rolls her eyes. "No, you don't."
"Yes, I do."
Christ, he needs to stop this before it devolves into 'nuh-uh' and 'yuh-huh'. He's twenty-two with the emotional maturity of a twelve-year-old. That's just great. "Well, not as much as I did before I spent all day in here."
"Good," her smile lights up her face, and it distracts him so much that he wonders if he missed something again since she's grabbing his hand and dragging him out of his chair. "Then you have time to take me to dinner."
"Uh, what?" Honest to god, he used to be cool. He used to have girls falling all over him everywhere he went. He had groupies. "Dinner?"
"Yes," she nods, eyes wide as she pulls him down the hallway toward the back parking lot. "Food that's eaten sometime in the evening."
She's mocking him again.
The groupies never used to mock him.
Thursday night, he sits in the drive-through at Jack in the Box, looking at Jude skeptically. "Are you sure this is all you want to eat? I know a great Italian restaurant--"
"--that doesn't mass-produce its food," she rolls her eyes at him again, and when did they get to the point where she could finish his sentences without even thinking about it? She leans across him to look at the board, and he barely suppresses a groan. She has to be trying to kill him. "Yeah, yeah, I know," she tells him, oblivious to his internal dialogue. "What can I say? I'm easy."
Christ, she is trying to kill him.
A very bored voice comes through the static and asks to take their order, and Jude doesn't seem to find anything out of the ordinary about practically sitting in his lap so she can order what she wants, and he irrationally wonders if she's doing this on purpose as some kind of inhumane revenge. "--fries. Tommy, what do you want?"
Makes a mental note to call his ex-wife and ask if he was this stupid when he was dating her.
"Food," Jude raises an eyebrow. "What do you want to eat?"
She rolls her eyes and orders him a cheeseburger. And fries. And a milkshake. And doesn't budge from being halfway in his lap until the intercom informs him their total is nine dollars. He shakes his head as he pulls the car forward, and says offhand, "I think you're officially the cheapest date I've ever had."
Then wants to smack himself for calling this a date.
"What can I say?" she tilts her head with a sad smile. "I have really low standards."
It takes him a second, but, "Hey!"
And she laughs.
Thursday night, he's sitting next to Jude in a dark movie theater, and he doesn't have the slightest clue what the movie on the screen is. Nor does he have a clue how she talked him into taking her to the movies in the first place, because now this is just way too much like a date for him to maintain what little is left of his sanity.
Especially since they're the only people in the theater.
"So, are you going to tell me what's going on?" she asks him, eyes steady on the screen as she pops a few kernels of popcorn into her mouth.
He doesn't have a clue what's going on. On more than one level. "I wasn't paying attention."
"Not what I meant," she turns her head just slightly, light from the screen bouncing off her features, and she doesn't look just sixteen anymore. She looks dangerous. "You've been avoiding me all week. And when you can't avoid me, you yell at me. What the hell's going on with you, Tommy?"
She's more observant than he's given her credit for. He's not sure why he's surprised. Jude's a prodigy with words and music, mature beyond her years when it comes to creating. She's easily the most talented musician he's ever known, including himself.
And she's only going to get more talented as she gets older. As long as he doesn't fuck it up.
"It's nothing you need to worry about," he tells her, and he knows instantly that it's not going to be enough. She's used to people trying to brush her off, trying to protect her from things she's too young to know about, even though most people don't realize that she knows more than they'd think by looking at her. She'll never let it go at that.
Turning, she's looking at him head-on now, and she looks older than he is. "Don't," she says, very quietly, like this is the most serious thing she's ever had to say to anyone in her life, and who knows? Maybe it is. She's sixteen. "If there's one thing I can say for you, it's that you've never lied to me like everybody else does."
And Christ, does she know how to cut him deepest.
"Jesus, Jude, just let it go, okay?" he shakes his head, looking at the screen, at the ceiling, at the lights -- anywhere but at her. (She's sixteen, Tom. Six. Teen. She doesn't know what she wants yet.) He's supposed to be the mature one, here. The one who doesn't let things go any farther than a producer and a talented singer.
(Even if he kissed her first.)
"No," she says, succinct, and Jude's always known how to use words. "Tell me. What's going on?"
"I want you." And there it is, on the table, out in the open and completely un-take-back-able. He's losing his mind; hell, he's probably already lost it. May as well go for broke, right? "I want you, and I can't do this. Christ, Jude, you're sixteen."
"I know how old I am, thanks," her voice is shaking now, just a little, just enough for him to know that she's trying to hide it, but she's still looking at him. She's not running away from this, and he should be scared. He knows he doesn't have the willpower to turn her away again, and he has to if they're going to survive this. "I want you, too."
"No, you don't," he leans forward, head in his hands, and this is going to ruin them both, he knows it. "You're sixteen."
"God, Tommy, get over it," she sighs heavily, and he sees her setting the popcorn on the floor in his peripheral vision, feels her hand on the back of his head, tugging at his hair as she strokes her fingers against his scalp. "Yeah, I'm sixteen. How old were you the first time you wanted something you couldn't have?"
She's silent for a very long moment. Then, "You can have me."
"No, I really can't."
"You know, you can find anything on the internet," she tells him, and that's one of the stranger non-sequiturs he's heard in conversation lately. Maybe he's dreaming this. It's pathetic that he hopes he is dreaming this. "Did you know that the age of consent in this country is fourteen."
No, he didn't know that. Tells himself it doesn't matter, too. "What's legal isn't the issue here. What's right is."
She rolls her eyes, giving him a disbelieving look. "I realize this may be hard for you to understand, but you are not god."
She's mocking him again. Perfect.
"I don't know what gave you the idea that I'm stupid," she says, steely, and that has him looking up at her, because he's never been able to stand Jude feeling like she's not good enough. "But I'm not."
Starts to interrupt, starts to say that he'd never think she's stupid--
(Naive, maybe, but not stupid.)
--but she doesn't give him the chance. Her fingers press lightly against his cheek as she tilts his head toward her, and even as he kisses her, he knows he should be stopping this. She's too young. She doesn't know what she's doing, not really. She doesn't understand. She... is pulling away from him, and fuck, he's fucked this up so fucking bad-- "Stop. Thinking," she breathes, hands clutching his arms for leverage as she shifts herself out of her seat and into his lap, and oh fuck, this could not be more wrong on more levels than it already is. "Just. Just go with it, Tommy."
When she kisses him again, it's hard to believe that six months ago she was confiding in him that she'd never kissed a guy before. (She's so --too-- young.) But Jude's always been a fast learner, and he's had a hand in teaching her this, too. He should be stopping this. He's older, he should know better, he's supposed to be the adult here, for Christ's sake.
He shouldn't be tangling one hand in her hair, sliding his tongue against hers, but he is.
This is going to end badly.