Unbalanced -Chapter 1

Tim was homeless and he wasn't even sure how it had happened. His brother, his flesh and blood, had hooked up with one of his ex's and Tyra hadn't wanted to house him at all. Many times he had felt isolated but this was by far the worst. No one cared – that was the worst thing. Everyone was fine believing that Riggins would cope, that he would land on his feet. He was overlooked. He didn't really know how he had ended up living with the Ferret Guy but it seemed like a good idea at the time. Until he had finally caught on to the whole meth lab concept and then he'd never been that scared, not that he showed it at the time.

Tim had found himself on the Taylor's doorstep praying that the Coach would take pity on him. He had nowhere else to go and he couldn't take anymore rejection. The Coach had taken one look at him and he'd found himself sleeping on their couch. The strain of Mrs Coach not being advised and Julie's clear hatred of his presence was tempered by his joy at being in a family. Being safe was not a bad feeling either. He wasn't stupid enough to think that this was his family but for the first time he truly saw what he'd been missing. It hurt.

It was interesting sharing living quarters with people who lived in clean surrounds. Tim experienced a weird buzz from doing the dishes, taking the trash out, mowing the lawn and doing what he could. He'd never been expected to do mundane chores other kids complain about but he enjoyed it. It was fun, who'd have thought? He hadn't quite got the hang of the bathroom though. Four people and one bathroom was pretty tough. He had decided as soon as he had moved in that he was going to prove himself to be invaluable and minimally intrusive to the Taylor's life. If that meant getting up early, something that was against his personal beliefs, then that is what he would do. He'd jump into the shower before anyone else was up. It was another new experience. There were pink bottles, spongy things, scratchy gloves and a variety of scrubs. It was an experience making his way through the bottles, smelling each. He had also noticed that the black stuff in the grout of his shower at home wasn't here. Weird. Tim could be used to this!

The remarks started pretty much straight away. His presence obviously annoyed the crap out of Julie and she wasn't hiding it...at all. She'd say stuff like'so long Tim? Did you get confused with lather, rinse, and repeat?' At first he thought she'd busted him for using her shampoo but he'd respond in an apathetic way and continue on. Tim could understand that she felt that her family had been hijacked but he wasn't going to ruin being in their house.

He didn't know when he had noticed that Julie wasn't Little Julie Taylor the Coach's Daughter – who would have thunk it, she was a girl? That thought really stunned him. He'd never really noticed before.

Julie would follow him in the shower queue, always with a snarky remark. Being partially clothed near her made him nervous and Tim was never nervous. He didn't like the feeling that she thought so little of him either. So he tried harder. He watched some horrid show about spoilt blonde people with her and pretended to be interested for her benefit. He'd sneak food off of her plate and gladly receive her playful swats. He started giving her lifts to school thinking this is what family does for one another. The insults continued coming thick and fast but he figured that was her way. Just like silence was his.

By the end of the first week he had fallen in love...with baby. Gracie was quite simply the apple of her daddy's eye and Tim was beginning to feel exactly the same. He had absolutely no experience with babies but this little one stole his heart. The first time he went near her she had grabbed his pointer finger with remarkable strength. She wouldn't let go and he'd ended up sitting next to her crib for 70 minutes just speaking to her. Gracie really did seem to love his voice and it was nice to spend time with someone who liked him so much if the smile was any indication. Yep, family life was great.

Julie continues to stomp around, swishing to and fro and generally being a pain. It provoked the joker in him so he found himself doing this just to get her goat. Sneaking items into her laundry proved to be a particular winner. She was handy though. When the girls in school realised he was living at the Taylor's the calls had started. Julie was surprisingly useful in making excuses and sending them on wild goose chases. It was then he realised that he may have some not-so-family feelings for her and it scared the heck out of him. The Coach would skin him alive if he'd ever made a move. Not that he would – he liked his skin and he really didn't think she'd go for him anyway.

Tim soon discovered that Julie had an innate ability to make him wildly uncomfortable. He would drive her to school and she would talk, at a million miles per hour and expect him to keep up. She would look at him expecting a response. She'd look alternatively pissed off or disappointed when he wouldn't say anything. It was easier to play his ...And Justice For All CD and try and drown her out. In the locker room he'd been on the receiving end of some innuendo about living in the same house as the Coach's daughter. He really couldn't say anything; after all he was the one who'd made that really bad call about Matt sleeping with Julie at the toast. Looking back on it he cringed, he was such a dumb ass.

In the second week he noticed things had changed in the way she treated him. Julie continued to insult him at every opportunity but he could swear that he heard her sniff him one time as he left the shower. It gave him chills, the good kind, but he hoped she hadn't smelled her own hair product. He kept reminding himself to act un-Riggins-like. It got worse though. She'd brush past him at every opportunity. On the couch, during dinner, walking to and fro the bathroom. It was like she was trying to illicit a reaction from him and again he found himself unbalanced around Julie Taylor. He cut short any conversation with her. He was always cordial and polite. He'd help her with the dishes but not speak to her. It was the only thing he could do to create a barrier between them.

Tim was hanging by a thread and he sensed Julie knew it. Whether or not Julie knew what she was doing he didn't know. Was this some kind of game for her? Was this the ultimate revenge for her father inviting him to stay? Tim needed a plan. He devised a simple one – avoid and deflect. That should work, she was only a teenaged girl, how tough could it get?

Author's Note – My second fanfic ever and I decided to build upon Preying on a Panther. I was getting frustrated not depicting Tim's POV so with a great suggestion for one of my regulars (you know who you are) I decided to write a companion piece. Enjoy!