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one.
As illogical as it is, once her father forgives her for lying about the whole Tim Riggins Situation, Julie feels worse. Her father was so nice, and so disappointed. Her head hurts when she thinks that if she had bothered to tell the truth about him, Tim could still be living some place where he’s not unwanted. It’s been lonely; without Shelley, without him.

Mostly without him.

So she goes to his place once more. It's part guilt, part missing him. They were joined at the hip for a week, and now she finds herself turning towards nothing when her father launches into speeches just a little too heartfelt for the dinner table, and with no one to dry the dishes as she washes them. No one who can stay up all night with her, “teaching her about life” as she makes fun of him, both of them procrastinating on the homework they’re handing in the next day.

She rings his doorbell. He seems tense as he opens the door. They exchange pleasantries, but he's looking over her shoulder at the door like he's expecting someone. Billy is there, and they shout things at each other periodically. Something about banging the neighbor, about ferrets, about a whole lot of things that Julie isn't a part of.

It's like she can feel their universes pulling away from each other, neat as perforated paper being torn in two. He looks at her, still, a couple of times - really looks at her, like he did just before her father interrupted them. Like he did when they stopped talking for a minute, sitting on his bed. She tries to convince herself that she doesn’t understand why all girls harbor a crush on Tim Riggins, but she has to admit that there’s something in his eyes. It’s like he makes any girl feel special, just by looking at them. Special and wanted.

So he looks at her, but his mind is somewhere else. He offers her a beer and she raises an eyebrow before he catches himself, lamely saying something about there being water in the tap. It's like the familiarity is completely gone, even as they're sitting on the couch and his leg is warm beside her.

She doesn't stay long. Before she goes, though, he holds her close for a minute. She thinks he smells her hair. He looks at her like he knows this is probably the last time their paths will cross.

“We had a good time, Julie Taylor,” he says, just before she goes. She smiles, a little wistfully.

As she walks away from the door, she wonders if maybe she should call Matt.

---

two.
After Matt leaves for Chicago, Julie tries not to close herself off too much. Her mother looks at her solicitously; Landry frowns when she gets too intense about something; her father doesn't comment when she refuses to touch the meat he cooked. She tries to keep up a brave face. Well, she supposes she's allowed a couple of break downs, because hello. But she keeps going to school, and she agrees to do charity work, and she tries to convince herself that Matt is going to call.

Maybe that's why she ends up at the Landing Strip on a school night, she reflects, raising the bottle to her lips. Maybe she figures she's allowed this one transgression, this one time, and then she'll be fine. The waitress raises an eyebrow as she orders beer, trying to act like she does it all the time, but Julie still has some Tyra-related street cred and manages to get a beer anyway. It tastes like crap. But she still drinks, because it's bound to get better any moment now.

"Julie Taylor," he says as he sits down beside her. She almost spits out her beer at the surprise, before recognizing Tim Riggins. He looks amused, like seeing her here is this hilarious joke that the world told just for him.

"Hi," she answers. It figures, that tonight is the one night their universes would come crashing back to each other.

"What are you doing here? I didn't think you had a thing for dancing girls," he says. "Or is is the local beer you enjoy?"

"No, it's disgusting," she says with a grimace. He laughs, then looks up at her in this annoying way he has. Like he knows her, even if they haven't talked in two years.

"So, here about Seven?" he asks. She nods, her throat suddenly tight. "Yeah. I get how that feels." He waves an arm in the waitress' general direction. "I'll have what she's having."

He doesn't talk anymore after that, staring into the distance at the girl on the riding bull. Julie may not have talked to him in two years, may not be able to read him as clearly as he seems to do, but she did see Lyla at the funeral.

"To lovers who leave," she says, raising her bottle once he gets his beer.

"A-fucking-men," he says.

They stumble around each other for a bit - he asks about her father, about the team, nothing she really cares about. She asks about Mindy's health to be polite, about the baby. She starts to wonder if silence would be better when he starts teasing her about her thousand college applications, and she teases right back about him not lasting through one class, and they get back into some kind of a conversation groove. A lot of things have happened since the last time they talked through the night.

"Won't your parents wonder where you are?" he asks eventually, pointing at the clock behind the counter.

"I told them I was sleeping at Lois'," she shrugs.

"Are you? Because I am not taking the fall for you again, Julie Taylor," he says with a laugh. She slaps him playfully, all how-dare-you.

"I'm actually planning to go home with the first guy to hit on me, you know? I feel like I'm really working this crowd tonight," she says, nodding towards the three customers still around.

"Yeah, great idea," he says. He's not laughing, though. Julie looks back at him, realizing her hand is still on his arm. Oh. He thinks she meant- she didn't mean him. He's looking into her eyes, though, and she suddenly feels warm inside. Like she felt, her arms wrapped around his neck, as he laid her down on her bed. The beer must be stronger than she thought. She thinks for a second that maybe she did mean him.

He opens his mouth but doesn't say anything. He moves his head closer to hers, their foreheads almost touching. Julie feels like she finally gets it, the Tim Riggins thing that all girls have. Because he's looking at her like she's the only thing in the world, and he smells like something she can't define, like grass and oil and Tim. She moves her hand up on the back of his neck, and brings him closer, their lips meeting.

He tastes like beer and his stubble is rough against her cheeks. It's so different, she thinks, and she chastises herself for thinking of softer, smaller kisses. His tall hands wrap around her waist, bringing her closer. She feels butterflies, she thinks, but it's not the right kind of butterflies, it's something that makes her feel too small, and even a little bit guilty. She stops kissing him when it gets too much, softly, her mouth still hovering close to his.

"I wonder how much of that wasn't about us," he says, and she smiles sadly.

"We have horrible timing, don't we?" she says.

"Maybe someday, Julie Taylor," he says before kissing the top of her head. She sits back silently, her head on his shoulder, watching the foam in her beer disappear.

---

three.
Nobody really knows what happens to send Tim Riggins to jail. Billy is elusive, and when he's asked about it he mostly talks about how Tim's only in for one year, keeps repeating that Tim's crime was minor, very minor. Nobody tries too hard to know, because he's a new father, because it's not like the Riggins family had this many ties to the rest of the community. Because everybody is way too happy to have this shiny a piece of gossip, this golden opportunity to say "I told you so". Julie hears about Buddy Garrity being more insistent than most, probably not too happy about having been the father-in-law of a criminal.

She talks about it around the dinner table one time. Her parents look at each other before saying anything.

"It's none of our business, hon," says her mother, biting her lip.

"If we need to know, we'll know," her father adds, looking sad. "In the meantime let's just assume it was nothing big, like Billy says."

"Such a shame, though," her mother adds, and Dad shakes his head like he doesn't understand. Julie agrees with the sentiment.

"I think I'm going to visit him," she says. Her parents seem surprised, but cautiously agree, as long as she's careful, which annoys her a little. She doesn't have to be careful around Tim Riggins. He protected her from a storm and from horny teenage boys, for heaven's sake.

As she walks up to the doors of the prison, though, she starts to get what they meant. It's a minimum security facility, and it's not particularly imposing, but it's still prison. There are fences and guards and everything.

"I'm here to visit Tim Riggins," she tells the guard at the main entrance, trying to sound more assured than she feels.

"Are you on the list?" he asks.

"Uh, you have to be on a list? I don't- probably not. Julie Taylor?" she says, feeling foolish. She should have done some research beforehand. Maybe she won't even be able to get in, she's not family.

"Yeah, you're in here," the guard says. Julie is stunned for a minute. "Someone will go get him, I'll accompany you to the yard."

The yard is sunny, and there are tables full of families, which makes Julie's heart hurt. At least Tim wasn't the Riggins brother with a new baby, she thinks.

"Julie Taylor," he says as he sits down in front of her. He always uses her full name, like her existence is a continued surprise to him. "Never thought I'd see you here."

Except you put my name on your list of visitors, she thinks. But maybe he put the entire Taylor family, she wouldn't want to presume, so she doesn't say anything. She thinks she makes a weak joke about the scenery instead. It's all a bit of a blur.

Tim is still Tim, even wearing white prison clothes, even with a perpetual sadness hanging in his eyes. He asks about her father, about her classes, about Matt. They talk softly, and he brightens up when she bickers with him a bit. It's like being in a bar a few months ago, she tries to reason. The setting doesn't have to change who they are.

After a while guards come to get her. He thanks her for coming, says she doesn't have to come back.

She does.

It becomes part of her routine - school, Habitat, family dinner, school, Tim Riggins. She comes once or twice a week, and he still looks surprised every time. He celebrates with her when she gets her college acceptance letters, he marvels at a Gracie Bell drawing she brings him, he seems fascinated by her mundane stories of happenings at school. Prison doesn't seem too terrible for him - he jokes around easily with her, teasing her, laughing. She never asks him what he's in for, and they never really talk about his family. Once Billy comes in as she goes, and Tim's face seems to close up completely, like he's a different person with her than with his own brother. Like he's happier with her. She doesn't get it. But she doesn't question it either.

Weeks turn into months, Tim's sentence trickling away. He only has three months left when August ends. It's her last visit for a while. Tim seems quieter as she talks about college, about various books she'll have to read, about being stressed out. About leaving tomorrow. He’s sitting besides her, fidgeting a bit, his hands in his lap. She can feel the heat coming from him, warming her side.

She takes a deep breath, before coming out and saying it. "Do you want me to ask for a conjugal visit?" It’s rushed and it sounds clinical, but he’s close and she’s going away tomorrow, and. She thinks about his arm almost touching hers, his hands in her hair, his mouth on hers.

He doesn't laugh, and she breathes out. He raises his eyebrow, turning his face towards her. "I don't think those are allowed in Texas," he says, the beginning of a smile on his lips. "But thank you for the suggestion." He presses his leg closer to her own, and she takes his hand. He rests his head on hers, his nose buried in her hair, and at least it's something.

---

four.
Julie comes back from college for the summer, her head still crammed full of things she tried to remember for her finals. Her parents are ecstatic to have her back, Gracie drew thousands of "Julie at school" masterworks, her room isn't even too different. (And her mother apologizes profusely for the one stationary bike she did put in there.) Summer in Dillon is as suffocating as ever, but when she checks out the Alamo Freeze there are no Saracens or Clarkes in sight.

She feels a bit lonely, like there isn't much that ties her here anymore that doesn't bear the Taylor name. She wanders the roads aimlessly - or at least that's what she tells herself when she comes near a huge field where the skeleton of a house can be found.

She gets out of the car and walks down the improvised path. There's no door to knock on, so she makes do with a piece of wood from a future wall.

"Hi," Tim smiles at her. For the first time, he doesn't seem surprised. He looks like he was waiting for her.

"Hi," she answers, her smile mirroring his.

"Could you hand me that hammer?" he points. She complies, and suddenly she finds herself building a house. Building Tim's house. They talk about everything and nothing - they didn't really stay in touch through the year, so Julie tries to summarize all of her college year in a couple of hours. Tim talks about being an uncle, about buying his land, about his plans for the house. It's going to be a ranch, apparently. He already has a cow.

Julie built her share of houses, working for Habitat, so she's able to make herself useful around the place. Still, Tim seems to always hover around her, painting the wall just above her, looking over her shoulder as she puts tiles on the floor, grabbing her hips to reach something behind her. The house is small, but Tim builds it with care, and it takes enough time that when he says "See you tomorrow" at the end of the day, she doesn't question it.

She comes back in the morning, bringing two coffees. He's not there yet. She sits down on the future porch, looking over at the land, mist rising from the earth. It's so beautiful she finds herself aching to stay here, to look at this view every morning. There's a forest in the distance. She can almost hear a river running through it.

"Your coffee is cold," she tells Tim when he sits down beside her. He drinks it anyway, his eyes lost in the distance, like hers. He puts an arm around her shoulders. She nests her head in the crook of his neck. They don't talk.

He kisses her on the third day. Because it's like the third date, because of nothing. Because the floor is done and he can lay her down on it, the tile cold against her skin. He kisses her slowly, kisses her neck, the curve of her hip, a hand caressing her breast. He goes down on her and he's as great at it as you'd expect Tim Riggins to be, her toes curling and her hand twisting in his hair as he brings her over the edge.

He makes love to her in every corner of the house, like he's trying to test every thing they finish. He holds her against the wall that she just put the last nail on, his every thrust reverberating on it as she hopes it holds up. He lays her down on the counter in the kitchen, and she almost hits her head on the cupboard as she comes, holding him close between her legs. They halfheartedly pretend to draw a path in the forest, using the excuse to roll around in leaves. She feels like a goddess being worshiped every time he puts down a tool and grabs her, undressing her with reverence, like there's nothing else in the world but Julie Taylor, naked in his arms.

They finish the house in a month, which Julie estimates is twice the time he would have needed alone. Everything feels easy with Tim. He's lost the tortured look he used to have in prison, he looks like he’s happy to start a new life over from scratch. And maybe he’s going to want her to be in it. But he’s not the type to look too far ahead, and he doesn’t ask anything of her.

She does end up waking up to the view every morning. She knows she's only staying for a few more weeks, but he makes her forget about it every time he kisses her. So she rolls back to him, sleeping in the bed they just brought in. She closes her eyes, smiles, and holds on.