Chapter XII: Not Tonight

Song: "Not Tonight" by Tegan and Sara

--

love pull your sore ribs in
I will pull your tangles out
in the back of your car I feel like
I have traveled nowhere

what will bring me home
what will make me stay
what will bring me home
what will make me stay
well I don't know, I don't know hoo oo
I don't know, I don't know hoo oo

28 January 1984

"Hi," she said, biting her lip nervously as she looked up at him. Figures, really, that the first time she would see him in the three years following their divorce would be on a lift. In the immortal words of… well, she wasn't quite sure who to give credit for it, but the point of the matter is that the saying rang true nonetheless, life really is a bitch.

"What are you doing in good ole Utah?" she asked with a small crooked smile as she tried her hand at a horrible American accent that really was a devastating thing to hear.

"The film festival," he sheepishly admitted.

"Oh. I didn't know that you still go."

"Yeah," he said as he scratched his neck, awkwardly shifting his weight from one foot to the other. "I became rather fond of that Redford bloke over the years, after you forced me to go to this thing. Haven't gone since—well you know, but this year… I just felt… well I don't know what, really," he admitted, stumbling over words as he nervously rambled.

She smiled softly. "Me too, had the sudden compulsion to go when I got the 9ivitation again—started feeling guilty for ignoring them."

"Talk about irony," he muttered. "They finally got my changed address this year."

"Yeah…" she nodded. "This is pretty awkward, isn't it?"

"I think it's natural when two people are divorced and haven't seen one another as long as we have," he shrugged, praying for at least some excuse, some sense of normalcy in that whole mess that they had made of things.

She wrinkled her nose in distaste. "Well I think it sucks."

"Yeah, kind of does, doesn't it?" he asked, his face breaking into a small grin.

It was odd, it was like one of those horribly awkward and cliché romantic films, really. Just as she felt as if they may be making some sense of things that damn lift rang, signaling that they had arrived at her floor. Bloody hell.

She bit back a groan as she cursed the damn contraption. "Um, that's me," she said, pointing to the open doors. "I should go."

He nodded slowly, the cursed tension between them only adding to the discomfiture of the entire situation. "Yeah… um, have fun," he offered with a crooked, forced smile.

"Yeah, you too, bye James," she said to him as she steeped out of the lift with a small, fleeting smile sent his way.

"Bye," he whispered.

He let out a breath, throwing his head back, tiredly rubbing at his face as the doors began to close. He waited for the lift to start moving again, to lose himself in that familiar rush as it started heading upwards; anything to distract him was good in his books.

--

everything in my body says not tonight
everything in my body says no
everything in my body says not tonight
everything in my body says no

--

28 January 1984

"Lily?" he asked, his eyebrows furrowing when he opened the door to his hotel room only to be left totally befuddled by the sight of a red, tear stained Lily standing in front of him.

"The concierge told me what room you were staying in… kind of lied to him that I was your sister… I hope that's okay," she stammered slightly as she rambled on, a definite waver to her words as she awkwardly stood before him. "Um… do you mind if I come in?"

"Yeah, sure," he confusedly told her as he pushed the door further open as she made her way into the suite.

"Nice room."

He nodded. "I like it."

"I—I couldn't just leave it like that, you know?" she sputtered, eyes downcast as her hands nervously fidgeted uncontrollably. "I couldn't just let you go without knowing—without knowing…" she trailed off, rolling her eyes in aggravation when she couldn't seem to get the words out. She sniffed, wiping away a stray tear that was making its way down her face.

"Without knowing what, Lily?" he goaded her.

"That I was wrong," she blurted out. "I—I blamed you for so much, but, in reality, it wasn't entirely your fault. You were ambitious and wanted to be all that you could be, and there really is nothing wrong with that in particular, and I need you to know that."

"I was the one that mucked things up by never telling you when that started to take over your personal life and ruin ours. I was as much to blame as you were—I was just too stubborn of a bitch to see that you would have picked me. I was just too cynical to let myself see that. I let myself get comfortable in the desperate housewife role—you know, minus the house part," she babbled on, attempting to make a joke of sorts with the latter, but sadly that humor was lost on both as she shook with tears. Somehow things just didn't seem as funny when crying was involved.

"And well, I—I'm so sorry for blaming you," she told him as she self-consciously hooked her thumbs in her jeans pockets and pulled on them, trying to release her stress on something—anything. She let out a deep breath as she felt herself dithering under his piercing presence.

"Yeah, well, I—I just—I needed to tell you that…"

Throughout her entire little tirade he just stared at her, understandably, rendered totally speechless.

"Right, I'll just go then, yeah? Yeah," she stumbled as she made her way to the door, anxious and fumbling with the knob when she finally reached it.

He closed his eyes as he listened to her, pinching the bridge of his nose slightly—an act, he noted, that he seemed to do a lot in her presence. "Stop."

"Pardon?" she asked, her voice coming out in a feeble whisper that was unnatural for her of all people.

"You can't just say that, and leave like that. You need to give me time—a chance to process, and all of that other shite."

"I—I figured it'd just be easier if I left…"

He rolled his eyes as he turned to her, looking at her sardonically. "And you would have left, run away, again?"

She shifted uncomfortably.

He nodded in understanding, snorting slightly at the predictability of it all. It was pathetic and heartbreaking how, no matter what, they always seemed to run in circles—never able to break that cycle, never able to stop breaking each other's hearts. It was as if they were both hell-bent on ruining the other for anyone else.

"I—I don't want to," she finally muttered, wanting to shy away from his judging look, but unable to leave it at that, no matter how much she knew that running really would hurt a hell of a lot less than being with him—than having to bear witness to all she'd lost and how much better off he apparently was without her. No matter how much time passed, no matter how much had gone on, she had given her heart to him and that was a tricky thing to trifle with, an act that could rarely be undone. And, sadly, she found herself learning that the hard way.

She groaned suddenly, trying to restrain herself form pulling her hair out. "God, you're just so damn difficult!"

He eyed her coldly. "Oh, I'm the difficult one? That's ironic, really, how you shift blame from yourself to everyone else. Here you were just apologizing only to do it again, some things really never change, do they, Lils?" he tainted her, bringing back the old pet name for measure—a move that struck her far more than she would have liked.

She let out a cold, bitter laugh instead of crying as she so desperately wanted to. "I didn't run away, I tried to stick it out—maybe the wrong way, but I tried! You know what; I don't even know why I came here. It's pointless really; you and I just run in circles anyway, all we were ever good at was slowly tearing each other apart. What's the point?" she asked out loud, more so to herself than anything else. She really didn't give a shit as to what his opinion on the matter was at the moment. No, she was going for the spiteful ex-wife bit and she was going to milk that one for all it was worth—her cliché "red headed temper" would make sure of that one for her. After all, she may at least have a bit of fun being a bitch if nothing else as her day had already gone to hell.

They both just stood there—her on the verge of a nervous breakdown—a fact that was becoming more and more apparent by the second—and him just there. Erect and stoic—just there, more so a statue than a human being.

The sight was scary, bewildering, and more than a little off-putting given that it was James, the man whom she had always so admired for being so open with his emotions; it was a sight that made her go even more crazy by the second.

"Don't just stand there like that," she finally muttered grumpily.

He cocked an eyebrow. "Like what?" he asked with a slow drawl that she really would have fund sexy, had she not been at her wits end with him—them.

"Like that, you look like a businessman with that poker face of yours."

"In case you haven't realized, Lils, I do work in business, ergo I am a businessman," he told her, an amused look slowly creeping onto his face as she saw the beginnings of a smirk tugging on his lips.

Much better.

She couldn't help the smile that slowly tugged at her lips upon hearing that. But, in her defense, it was a small one.

She sighed. "What's wrong with us James? How is it that every conversations seems to end up in a fight with us?" she asked as she leaned back, putting her weight on the wall behind her as she felt her legs beginning to give weight in her state of aggravation.

He shrugged. "Great make-up shags?"

She let out a breath of a laugh at the blasé manner in which he had said that; so blunt, so charming. "Yes, well we're not doing that one anymore, so why continue?"

"Force of habit?" he offered.

"I don't like this habit, not this often, at least—even if a battle of the wits can always be good fun with you."

"Me neither," he admitted as he took a step towards her, still a good meter away from her, but the decrease in distance made an impact on her nonetheless as she felt herself stop breathing for a second as he neared.

Damn him for still having an impact on her. She really hoped he'd burn in hell for eternity right about then, regardless of how cruel a wish it may have been and how bad it might be given the karmic retribution she was sure to receive in compensation for that less than holy comment.

"Well, you know, there is a way to get around this little dilemma…"

She couldn't deny that her interest was piqued by that statement. "Oh, really?" she asked, not a hint of sarcasm in her voice—a true feat for her, given her current state.

He nodded.

"And what do you propose we do to rectify the situation?" That time there was a definite undertone of skepticism.

"We shag."

Right about then the only thought that flitted through her mind was that she must look as "white and shaken as a dry martini," a favorite quote of hers by P.G. Wodehouse, that she found very suiting at the moment. A fact that, most likely, she would have normally applauded herself on had she not been choking at the moment.

On air.

"Pardon?" she asked between coughs.

"I miss you. We may have gotten a divorce, and I haven't seen you in a good three years, but I miss you nevertheless," he told her. He was so direct about, so nonsense that it scared her. How could he look her in the eye and utter those words without the slightest bit of hesitation when she was practically having a heart attack from the sheer absurdity of the notion? It was preposterous!

Him not her, that is.

He took another step towards her and she couldn't help but back away—sadly, she did so into a wall as she soon realized that she had literally backed herself into a corner.

"Pardon?" she whispered with a tremor to her voice, one that immediately gave away timidity over the possible answer.

He took another step so he was standing right before her, only a hairsbreadth away, and touched a hand to her cheek slowly. She took in the way he closed his eyes as he traced his thumb across her jaw, a look of clear ecstasy crossing it.

He slowly opened his eyes, a hazel that was so filled with this indescribable combination of lust, love, and longing. Damn him. "I want you, Lils, we've had our ups and downs—admittedly, far more than any couple should go through, and far too many that I was culpable for. But, in the end, that doesn't change the fact that it's you—it's always been you."

She shook her head slowly, a definite sense of trepidation coursing through her veins. "You—you shouldn't say that—think that," she amended quickly. "Not smart—not smart at all," she babbled on nervously as he continued to rub her cheek, his thumb inching closer and closer to her mouth.

"Don't," she whispered weakly.

"Don't what, Lils?"

"Don't do this, don't hurt me."

He sighed. "I won't hurt you, I promise. Just, please, give me a chance to prove to you that I have changed."

"No, James, too much time has passed-"

he didn't even bother letting her finish that thought, he knew what she was going to say—he knew all too well for his taste. "Or maybe just enough time. Maybe this is what we needed to see how much we mean to one another, to see how worthless everything else is if we don't have each other," he persisted.

"James-"

"Don't say no, Lils, please," he begged

She sniffed as she tried to blink back the tears that really were a longtime coming. "No."

"Lily," he sighed, leaning his forehead against her own as he closed his eyes. "You need me, Lils; you need me as much as I need you. We can work," he promised, "We can do it. Everything's a learning experience and this can only make us stronger. That's what they always say in those ruddy chick flicks you con me into watching. Why can't you follow their example when you love them so much?"

"Because—because I've been there—felt the pain."

He winced slightly before opening his eyes. "I love you, Lils," he whispered before crushing her lips with his own in a searing, toe curling, shag-me-for-days-on-end worthy kiss.

She couldn't help, but respond, it had become a reflex after all those years with him—all that time spent loving him. She let the tears free as she poured her heart into the kiss, trying to use it as a release for all the pain she'd felt over the years—all the hell that they'd wrought upon one another, each screwing up in their own way.

She used it as a means of discharging all that pent up aggression towards the fates for having mucked everything up for them.

He pulled away, slowly wiping away the tears. "Don't cry," he whispered, "please don't cry."

"Forgive me for being cliché by this, but why do you insist on making me cry then?" she asked, her eyes downcast as she purposefully kept her gaze set on her shoes.

He placed a finger just under her chin and used it to raise her head—force her to look him in the eyes. "I won't—not anymore, I promise you that, Lils."

"How can you be so sure?" she asked in a chocked whisper.

"Because I've had a taste of life without you and found that it's really not quite up to par with what it was like before," he told her with a small grin.

She couldn't help but let put a small laugh, he truly was far too charming for her own good—dangerous stuff that can be. She bit her lip as she scrutinized him, making up a quick pro and con list in her head.

She sighed.

"What's winning?" he asked her with a knowing look.

"Leaving," she admitted bluntly.

"Oh… not quite sure I really wanted to know that now…" he admitted slowly as he awkwardly shifted upon hearing that admission.

"But—well—maybe… just maybe, pro and con lists are a bit overrated," she said, hesitantly moving her gaze to the painting behind him as she said that. She really hated feeling like she was at a disposition like that. But, for him, maybe it was worth the discomfort on her part.

He immediately pulled her flush against him in a tight hug, placing a light kiss to her hairline as he whispered "Yeah?"

She nodded slowly, reveling in the feel of being in his arms again. She hadn't really realized just how much she had missed that feeling.

"You should know, Lils, that I'm not letting you go," he told her as his arms flexed, tightening their grip around her. "Not tonight, not ever again—it's just not going to happen, I won't make that mistake again," he promised her.

She smiled softly, almost shyly, as she finally braved a look into his eyes. "Good," she whispered, slowly gathering up the courage to let herself take the plunge with her next admittance. "I want us to start over again—to finally be honest with one another, leave nothing to chance, say it all; the good, the bad, and even the ugly. I want it all with you, James, I don't want to ever let any trivial and stupid thing get in the way again—it's just too easy and the cost is too much."

Fin.

--

what will bring me home
what will make me stay
what will bring me home
what will make me stay
well I don't know, I don't know hoo oo
I don't know, I don't know hoo oo

--

author's note: and with a new song starts a new story… just not one that I'll be writing, lol.

Hope you enjoyed it—as I, personally, think that this was by far the most romantic scene I've ever written—and were, hopefully, pleasantly surprised.

p.s. as always songs are available on my profile- I was actually reading this chap while listening to the song (came up on my iPod's shuffle ironically enough) and I'm proud to say that it really works for it—the pace of the song and the lyrics, yay me!