|You Are Where I Live
Author: Jack E. Peace PM
There was one college activity Ruby Gallagher never planned to write home about.Rated: Fiction T - English - Romance - Words: 3,036 - Reviews: 5 - Favs: 12 - Published: 08-28-09 - Status: Complete - id: 5337857
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Disclaimer: No, they do not belong to me. Oh well.
A/N: Yeah, yeah okay so I finally broke down and got on the whole Ruby/Jordan ship. I never thought it would happen, because I really don't like them together, mainly because I really want Ruby to be David's daughter and I doubt that if ABC Family was going to peruse the whole Ruby/Jordan thing, they'd let them keep being cousins. I just want Ruby to actually have a dad, is that too much to ask? But anyway, I finally broke down and wrote a story about them. Hope you enjoy and review :)
This was one college activity Ruby Gallagher never planned on writing home about. Or phoning home about, since no one really ever wrote anything anymore, unless it was the occasional email to her Aunt Audie or Facebook message to her cousin Ben. But that was beside the point, the point being that there were certain activities that she made sure to carefully edit out of her at least weekly monologues about her college life. She was impressed at the amount of interest that her father was taking in her daily activities, better late than never, she supposed. But even David, far from conventional, would have a hard time understanding her actions. But Ruby did everything they suggested she do: took the honors classes, got involved, even rushed and pledged a sorority in some pathetic attempt to justify herself, she figured still playing the part of the good daughter would help count against the bad daughter behavior.
At the moment, Ruby was being the Good Daughter: the dutiful studier, pouring over her biology notes while her sorority sisters lounged, chatted and relaxed around her, gossiping about boys, painting their toe nails and planning out the next party. Good Ruby always went to all the parties, but Good Ruby never invited any loaded and attractive fraternity boys back up to her room, a tendency that she had finally stopped getting teased for. Unlike the constant studying, but good grades meant that, on the outside, she was still Good Ruby, even if she let Bad Ruby out as often as possible.
"Hey Ruby," the curly-haired coed looked up when one of her sisters called her name from across the room, "you want a beer? Something to drink?" Since the girl asking was Kellie Sprinkle, Ruby knew that she wasn't teasing her or trying to goad her into drinking, just asking to be polite. It might be a Tuesday, but every day was a party day for a group of freshmen sorority girls.
Ruby shook her head. "No thanks." She gave the girl a polite, succinct smile. Ruby checked her watch and felt her heart leap in her chest. Though she knew that the other girls would never sense the rush of emotions crashing around inside her chest, she still felt like she had to be overly careful about her actions, forcing herself to be nonchalant when all she wanted to do was throw her textbook on the ground and bolt out of the house. "I have to go anyway."
This, like it always did, got the attention of her other sisters, who all paused in their own conversations to glance her way. "Really?" Questioned Ellie Gold, capping her bottle of nail polish and blowing on her toes. "Where are you going tonight, Ruby?"
Clearing her throat, Ruby shrugged, tucking her hair behind her ears. She was glad that these girls couldn't tell when she was nervous, didn't know the tell-tell signs the way to he did. "To the library." She lied effortlessly, Bad Ruby sweeping in and taking advantage of the Good Ruby that her sisters all knew.
Logan Matthews rolled her eyes. "You're always going to the library." She mumbled, disappointed at Ruby's lack of adventure. "Boring." A couple of the other girls laughed but Ruby ignored them.
Quickly, Ruby dashed up the stairs to her room, throwing some things into her bag: a change of clothes, tooth and hair brush and above those necessities, books for a class she didn't even have tomorrow and other assorted papers to disguise the fact that she wasn't planning on returning that night. Just as quickly, Ruby hurried back down the stairs and toward the front door of the sorority house, pausing by the closet to fish her jacket and shoes out of the chaos.
"Just leave her alone, Logan." Ruby could hear Kellie saying, keeping her voice low, no doubt out of respect for her sister.
Logan scoffed. "I don't know how she even got into this sorority…or why she even wanted to join one in the first place. What's the point if you're not going to have fun?" Ruby heard some murmurs of agreement, but she ignored them as she pulled on her boots, flipping through the hangers to find the right one.
"I don't think she's going to the library at all." Chimed in another sister. "I think she has a boyfriend. Or maybe a girlfriend." They dissolved into giggles. Ruby couldn't help but smirk slightly at their observation; they were on the right track at least.
Not bothering to listen to the continuing giggles and arguments for and against that statement, Ruby grabbed her pack and hurried out the door. Outside the house the sidewalks were busy and crowded with more students than necessary at the later hour. Some where moving to and from home, riding bikes, talking on phones or getting in a last minute exercise session. Others….weren't quite as in the moment, stumbling around their yards, shouting for equally inebriated friends, undoubtedly all ready making a plan not to attend the morning's classes.
No one noticed or called a greeting out to Ruby as she walked briskly down the sidewalk, making sure that her gait suggested purpose in case someone delayed her by trying to lure her to the keg, or to sigh a petition, or to do any number of mundane activities when she had somewhere to be.
The building that she was looking for was towards the end of the street and was far more quiet than the other buildings and there was only one boy sitting outside on the porch when Ruby walked up. She tensed and looked away, praying that he didn't see that Bad Ruby was cracking through, clawing to the surface. If he smiled a greeting toward her she didn't notice because she was through the front door like a shot and rushing up the stairs just as quickly.
Even in the dark Ruby knew her way; she didn't even have to hold a hand out in front of her, a blind woman's trick. She pushed open the door, slipping into the room and closing it silently behind her. The room was dark and for a moment Ruby leaned against the door, closing her eyes and drawing in a deep breath. The house was silent around her, the only sound that reached her ears was the sound of her rapidly jumping heart. The sound of Bad Ruby finally taking over, an invasion that she didn't try to stop.
A smile on her face, Ruby flipped on the light and the shadows burst from the room. Her smile remained frozen in place. The bed was empty. The room was empty. Cautiously Ruby went over to the bed, prodding the tousled sheets, just in case the rumpled bundle wasn't just a product of laziness. But she knew what she would find and she wasn't disappointed in that aspect.
Briefly, Ruby thought that maybe he was down the hall, getting read to crawl into bed (with her) but the house was silent, no sound of running water or teeth brushing to be heard. Ruby set down her bag and climbed into bed, pulling the covers tightly around her head the way that she did when she was young and had a nightmare that wouldn't go away no matter how hard she tried. She breathed deeply, her nose and mind swelling with the familiar smell of him, which covered the sheets, the pillows, the comforter that Audie had picked out and insisted on putting on the bed when he'd moved in. She'd done the same thing for her, of course, but her sheets didn't smell like him.
She knew that she shouldn't be here, that maybe this was a sign, but the idea to leave never crossed her mind, not now. Ruby wondered what his housemates would say if they knew that his cousin had come over not for a tutoring session; she wondered what her sisters would say if they knew where she'd gone and why. She wondered where he was, what had pulled him away from her and felt a cold sensation spread through her stomach when she wondered who he was with, what girl he was charming tonight. He might not intentionally mean to attract them but he was the flame and they were the bugs, herself included, and she hated how that idea made her feel and hated that it bothered her at all.
Ruby closed her eyes and took another deep breath. She'd never come to find that he wasn't there and she felt betrayed slightly. She shouldn't be there at all, she shouldn't give in to the requests of their bodies but she did, hadn't been able to stop for a long time and she felt as though he should understand the part of herself that she was giving up. Bad Ruby was getting harder and harder to deny, which meant that Good Ruby was steadily being killed off, or at least swept under the rug.
Obviously this was not all his fault, because she showed up, she invited herself in, she climbed into his bed and let him put his hands all over her, put her hands all over him, whispered his name so that his roommates wouldn't hear. She couldn't blame it on being young and impressionable, couldn't blame it on two kids experimenting and carrying their games into their college years. All she could blame it on was the attraction, the fire, the feeling she felt spreading through her body whenever she even thought about him. She was feeling that now; that and disappointment. Bad Ruby had been looking forward to this all night. Good Ruby had too.
Ruby wasn't sure how much time had passed until the door opened again and he stumbled inside. She had been drifting off but now her eyes snapped open, her fingers tightening around the sheets, briefly disoriented. The door closed with a loud bang as he stumbled against it, dropping his keys on the floor and Ruby sat up, her hair and the sheets tumbling down around her shoulders.
When he saw her, his mouth opened in a soundless, perfect O shape, surprised to see her, guilty at having not been here when she'd slipped in, struck silent by the sight of her for a different reason. He always thought she looked the most beautiful when she wasn't trying, when she had dropped her pretensions and just let herself be who she was. Like now, with her hair a messed from having laid in his bed, her clothes rumpled, her face creased with a wrinkle in his pillow case. He wanted his hands on her right that second, wanted to hold her, but there was something in her eyes that stopped him, kept him standing there.
"Jesus…Ruby…" He shook his head, finally finding his voice. "I'm sorry…"
But Ruby stopped him. "You've been drinking." Not a question, not an assumption, a statement in a tone that he'd heard her use so many times before with David when he hadn't been there when she'd needed him to be. The dance, the Sweet 16 party, the pre-prom photo show, the National Honors Banquet. He had been to all those things.
He dropped his eyes to floor. "I'm sorry Ruby." His voice was sincere and should could hear that easily. "Some guys got this…"
"Jordan." Ruby shook her head, stopping his explanation, his excuses. He looked up to see if she was making like she was going to leave, pushing the covers aside to leave behind an empty bed that would smell like her even after she was gone. But Ruby remained where she was, her eyes on him like sights from a gun.
For a moment, they stood in silence and Jordan floundered for the right thing to say. Finally it came from his lips. "There wasn't anyone else." The truth, a promise.
Ruby didn't say anything but Jordan could feel the mood in the room shift and change and the nervousness he'd been feeling was gone as quickly as it had come, like it had never been there at all. He kicked off his shoes and moved over toward the bed, wondering if she could hear the way his heart had suddenly started beating a million times a minute. Ruby moved over to make room for him in the bed, which was hardly bigger than a twin but they managed to work around the space issue, and Jordan turned so that they were face to face, her body positioned slightly on top of his. He remembered the first time they had been like this, years ago, the night after her sixteenth birthday. David's absence had left Ruby inconsolable, though she hadn't let Patrick and Audie see that, had painted on the face of the happiest, luckiest and most grateful sixteen year old girl on the planet. But when she'd lightly knocked on his door after everyone had left and everyone else had gone to bed, he'd seen different. He'd held her while she'd cried, wishing that he could punch his uncle in the face (he still did, sometimes, even though David had finally gotten his act together and, more often than not, David was the one who called Ruby daily instead of the other way around), wishing there was something he could do to make her feel better. Some pathetically cheesy words had tumbled from his mouth before he could stop them, words that you might not want to say to your cousin and Ruby had looked up at him and suddenly it had all seemed okay, everything he had been feeling and they'd held each other, neither one wanting to move and risk breaking the tentative circumstances that were forming around them. But, of course, they had moved eventually and had never gone back from that moment, even now, even thought Jordan knew what they were doing was wrong, not because they were cousins and all that jargon that other people would use if they ever found out but because he felt like he was stealing Ruby away from something better and more important that she could be doing. They would never get to be together in the way that most girls dreamed being with the one they loved, their lives would be nothing but sneaking in and out of each others rooms, exchanging these brief but oh-so-wonderful embraces and he knew she deserved more than that. But if she wasn't saying otherwise than the words would never leave his mouth.
Jordan pushed aside a curl, resting his fingers against his cheek. Ruby moved her face closer to his, their noses touching in an Eskimo kiss and the faint, girlish smile that ghosted across her lips made Jordan's heart melt in his chest. Her nose wrinkled. "You smell like beer."
Jordan responded by putting his lips over hers, pulling her on top of him, smiling at the way she didn't seem to mind that he smelled like beer now. Ruby's body settled into a comfortable and familiar position over his, her weight reassuring. Jordan's mouth moved away from hers, down the side of her neck, to her shoulders, teasing across the line of her shirt. Ruby sighed, he could feel it vibrating against his lips, and he pulled her closer against him.
"Ruby," he lifted his head, his eyes meeting hers. "I'm sorry I wasn't here."
Smiling, she placed a finger against his lips. "It doesn't matter now." She assured him, kissing his neck, her hands slipping under his shirt, her nails moving across his chest. Jordan shuddered and Ruby smiled against his skin. Bad Ruby had taken over and was making her presence known. Though with his hands moving all down her body, she was soon the one who was shivering.
Sometime later, Jordan had fallen asleep and Ruby felt as though every cell in her body was filled with the most pleasant exhaustion she could imagine. They were tangled in each other, their clothes spread sporadically across the room and in the sheets to be found a later time, but now she wasn't thinking about anything at all, wasn't worrying about anything. She closed her eyes and listened to Jordan's heart beating lazily in his chest, her head rising and falling whenever he breathed. His arms were wrapped tightly around her, protective even as he slept, keeping her close and safe.
It was times like these that it was hard to imagine that they were doing anything wrong, that Bad Ruby even existed, because this felt good, this felt like part of herself. If she could chose this reality to live all the time, she would and would never look back. She'd always known that family was what you made it, that you could find family anywhere, there were no conventions.
For the next few hours, at least, this could be her reality, the only place where there were no distinctions between Good and Bad Ruby. She was just Ruby, his Ruby and that was the only Ruby she wanted to be.