A/N: This takes place during season 1; I always thought it was a bit weird that pretty much the day after (or somewhere near it) Rayna's divorce was announced, Deacon got himself a girlfriend.
Deacon Claybourne was in the middle of flirting with Rayna Jaymes when her face suddenly turned serious.
"Deacon, you have a girlfriend."
Deacon stepped back as though she'd slapped him; it felt a little like she had. "Seriously, Rayna?" His eyebrows shot up.
"Well, you do." She said, matter-of-factly.
Deacon scoffed, irritation edging into his voice, "Yeah. You've been a real pro at navigating your ship around those particular waters all these years, huh?"
Rayna felt color rush to her face as a dozen memories flashed in her mind: a sweltering night in Memphis, she and Deacon sitting alone in a park, writing a song, staring in each other's eyes., her hand on his knee. She and Deacon under the arch in St. Louis, Deacon staring at the arch, Rayna staring at him—him catching her staring, smiling. They both tried to pretend that the light from the arch didn't throw a slight glint on her wedding rings.
She looked down at her feet, "I…" she trailed off, "That's not the point."
Deacon sighed. "No. 'Course not." He shook his head, "What is the point, Rayna?"
She folded her arms over her chest, "Nothing. It doesn't matter." She started to walk away from him, but he reached out and grabbed her arm, letting it go when she turned to face him again.
"No." His voice was heavy, "You don't just walk away. You've been acting weird and awkward around me for days, then you go and say something like that." He let her go and stared at her, "I'm going to ask you one more time. What is the point?"
"That is the point, just what I said. You have a girlfriend." She eyed him carefully.
Deacon shook his head, "Unbelievable."
She sighed, "No, it's really the point, I just said it wrong last time. You have a girlfriend, Deacon. What the hell?"
"So, I'm not allowed to have a girlfriend now, that it?"
Rayna felt angry, unsure how she could be clearer, "No, that's not what I'm saying."
"Then help me out here, Rayna, what the hell are you saying?" He shrugged his shoulders.
"I'm saying… I'm getting divorced, and you… get a girlfriend?" She shifted her weight on her feet, "I mean, Jesus, 14 years, and you've never even introduced me to another woman, and then…. My marriage falls apart, and then… you find someone to be serious with? Did you, what? Meet her the day after you found out?"
Deacon stared at her, "Well, I'm sorry my relationship timing isn't working for you."
Rayna sighed, "Yeah, okay." The anger melted into sadness, and her voice was soft when she spoke again, "Were the last 14 years just a game for you?" She was staring at a spot on the carpet.
His mouth dropped open, and he took a long steadying breath, "No. But it sure sounds like they might have been to you."
Her eyes snapped to his. "What? That's not true, I lo…" She stopped herself, "I wasn't playing any games."
Deacon nodded, "Look, Rayna, I'm sorry you don't like Stacey or whatever this is, but at this point, I really don't think it's your call."
"It's not that I don't like her!" Rayna said, her voice rising, "I like her just fine. She seems perfectly nice, I just thought…" She shrugged.
Rayna let out a shaky breath, "You know what? Never mind, it doesn't matter." She wrapped her arms around herself.
"God, you're just trying to pull me back in, aren't you?" Deacon didn't try to hide the incredulity in his voice.
Rayna pulled her arms tighter, "Back in what?"
Deacon gestured between them, "This, Rayna," He moved his hand between them, "This! That's what you're doing! Standing there, playing the wounded card."
Rayna felt her anger return; usually, she tried to keep it at bay, but this time, she let it spread through her body, felt it rush through her blood, "Wounded card, Deacon? I'm not wounded over this," She waved her hand between them, imitating his gesture, "I think we know I'm not the one who's wounded over this." She stared at him, her gaze dark.
Deacon couldn't take his eyes off her, "Interesting, because you're the one standing there complaining about the fact that I have a girlfriend for the first time in 14 years."
"I get it now," Rayna narrowed her eyes, "You like the chase. And all this time I thought…" She trailed off and shook her head, "But you just like the chase."
Deacon sighed, "What 'chase,' Rayna?" He took a step towards her, "Are you saying that I led you on, all these years?"
"Well, Deacon, what am I supposed to think? All these years, there was this… thing between us…"
He cut her off, his voice betraying his ire, "You were married!"
"I know that, I know I was!" Her voice matched his, "But all these years, there was this thing between us, and I thought… well, it doesn't matter what I thought because it wasn't true. I guess what is true is that you want what you can't have. I mean, the minute my marriage is over, the minute you can actually have me, you don't want me. No, you go off and get a dog, and a serious girlfriend, so obviously it was just something in my head all these years. Which, is my problem, so I'll deal with it."
Deacon froze, "What did you just say?"
Rayna rolled her eyes, "I said it's my problem, I'll deal with it.'
He raised his hand, and pointed his finger at her, "No, before that."
She sighed, "That it was just in my head?"
"No, no. Before that. You said now that I can… what?"
"Now that you can actually have me, you don't want me. Jesus, Deacon, you heard me."
His gaze darkened, "You're right, I did." He reached out and clasped his hand around her arm.
She jumped slightly, noticing how close his body was to hers; somehow, she hadn't realized that they were that close.
He leaned down, his eyes boring into hers, "You never gave me any indication that I…" His voice dropped low, "Could actually have you."
Her eyes dropped to his lips, and then back to his eyes, "I…thought it was implied."
"Implied." He repeated her word quietly under his breath, "No, Rayna, it wasn't implied."
"Well…" She tugged her arm free of his grasp and stepped back from him, "Does that change anything?"
Deacon folded his arms over his chest, "I don't know…" He looked at her, his eyes unreadable, "I'm finally… I'm building something here, something solid with Stacey…"
Rayna took another step back and closed her eyes, the burn of tears immediate and sharp. She felt Stacey's name out of Deacon's mouth like a blow to her stomach, and she turned away from him before she opened her eyes.
"I understand," She was amazed she could keep the tears out of her voice as she walked away from him, "I'll see you." She said, and then headed towards the door, marveling at the way her feet and legs worked together to carry her where she needed to go, though she felt like she could collapse at any moment.
She fought the urge to look behind her as she closed the gap to the door, promising herself that she would wait until she was in her car to fall apart.
"Yes." His word was a whisper, but she felt like it echoed in the room, and it stopped her in her tracks.
She didn't turn around, "What?"
He cleared his throat, "Yes." It was louder this time, and she turned around, not bothering to wipe the tears from her face.
"Yes, that changes something." He stepped closer to her, "Damn it, Ray, that changes everything."
"It does?" If her heart weren't so much in her throat, she would have found her insecurity comical. She'd spent years sure of this one thing, and in the last month, she'd found herself questioning everything.
Suddenly, he was in front of her, his fingers brushing the hair back from her face, "Of course it does." He bent his head down to kiss her. It was gentle, sweet, and then she pulled back.
"But what about…"
He silenced her with a kiss, his lips moving softly against hers. She smiled against his mouth.
"It's you, Ray." He smiled, his hand tangled in her hair. "No matter how far I try to run from it, that's the truth. Always has been."
"Always will be," She whispered, and then brought her lips to his this time, and the kiss turned frantic, their tongues meeting, remembering.
And in the back of her mind, hazy with lust, she thought it was strange that it felt like she hadn't been kissed in 14 years. But, then, she didn't really think it was strange at all.