A/N: And so Chapter Eleven came to be, at the last minute before the end of winter break. Oh long nights and groggy slow mornings, how I will miss you. Anyway, this is going to be the last chapter of any real substance, so I hope you like it!
Disclaimer: If you're reading the eleventh chapter of a fanfic – Actually, if you're on Fanfiction at all, you should really know by now that this writer has zero affiliation with anything Hannah Montana.
Chapter 11: Memorizing You
Lily didn't want to be seen. Well, that wasn't exactly true. She didn't want to be seen by anyone who wasn't Oliver Oken. She stood in line with her mother patiently, uncomfortably really, to pay her respects to the body, but she couldn't deny she had no real want to be there. Of course she wanted to help out Oliver, but it was just destined to be a bad situation.
She wasn't going to cry. It would be an insult to his family since she'd only ever met Grandpa Oken once or twice when he'd come into town for the holidays. Besides, she wasn't sure she could muster it. Everyone around her seemed to be able to, which just made it all the more awkward. On her left she saw a group of Oliver's twenty-something cousins all huddled around a display board covered in old pictures. On her right were their mothers, beyond their primes and wearing too much makeup, whining through their tear-filled voices.
The number of black-clad friends and relatives before her dwindled as the minutes passed until suddenly she was standing directly before the casket. A wrinkled face covered in peach powder and rosy blush greeted her, and she felt a bit sick to her stomach. It wasn't the corpse before her that bothered her, just that she had nothing really to say about it, or to it, or uhm, she wasn't really sure. She didn't belong in this line. She knelt despite herself and prayed, silently, quickly, for the family. She stood before her mother did from the kneeler and glanced back at the line to occupy herself. How many of these men and women were in exactly her position?
She looked down to her mother's hunched form now slowly rising. Her mother's eyes gave her a sad, compassionate look. Lily accepted it and turned to continue down the line, where the closest family was standing, namely the children, almost all of whom (and there were quite a few) were men. Oliver did say he had a lot of uncles. She looked up and smiled at them, shaking all of their hands individually. They were all quite composed. An act, she knew.
She reached the end of the men and saw Oliver and his mother sitting in the far corner, mumbling a word or two back and forth. Lily turned back for permission from her mother, who nodded patiently to her, then leaned down to whisper, "I'll go try to comfort the wives," she cracked a smile.
Lily's steps to the corner were tentative, nervous. How did you greet your best friend that you hadn't talked to in a month and a half when his grandfather died? She'd never been in a remotely similar situation before, and decided to wing it.
"Hello Mrs. Oken. Hi Oliver," she smiled apologetically at them, and Mrs. Oken led Oliver in standing. She took Lily into a firm hug, catching her off guard.
"Lily, sweetie, It's so good to see you," she pulled away and grinned broadly at her. "It means so much to us that you could come. You look lovely." Usually Lily loved being adored by the parents, she was a master of making it happen, but there was just no way to make this situation better. When Mrs. Oken released her, she turned to Oliver, who watched her silently for a moment, intensely.
It occurred to her that he didn't know she knew. He still thought she was upset with him. Oh, did they have some talking to do.
Thankfully, Oliver's head twitched subtly to the side, indicating an escape, so she followed.
He lead her out of the room with the red flor de li carpet and down the hallway of green country-style wallpaper, then up the stairs. Lily, too afraid to look at Oliver, observed the house as they walked. It was all too pleasant. There were flowers on all the side tables and little boxes of tissues atop each of those. Furniture was sparse and gave the appearance that some old director would come out and give you dirty looks if you sat on it, so she didn't.
At the end of the upstairs hallway, there was a door in the same dark-washed wood that adorned the entirety of the funeral home. Oliver didn't look like he knew what was inside, pushing the door open slowly and peering just slightly around the corner. They both had the same thought, 'No dead bodies. Good,' before he motioned her inside.
As soon as the door was shut, he led her to the room's center, just staring down at her. No knowing what was expected of her, she stared back up at him. He looked taller, more handsome in the black and white suit he wore. She was afraid she'd choke on any words that came out of her mouth. He must have known, because it was he who eventually broke the silence.
"Lily, I'm so sorry," his words were soft and crackly, like he hadn't spoken in days. Or maybe he was just upset. "I, I didn't realize. I didn't know that it was because, because—"
She cut off his stuttering. "Shh," she whispered, and led him over the wall, where they both sat down, leaning back against it. "Oliver, I heard your phone call with Mike. I understand." She refused to look at him. What if he was angry at her for it?
"You, Oh God," he breathed, turning bright red and looking away. "I've gotta say," he stammered, regaining his voice slowly, "I'm relieved that I don't have to explain it all to you, but I'm so, so mortified that you heard me say all those…things." There was a lightness in his voice Lily hadn't heard in ages, and she thanked him for making this easy for her.
"It was all so sweet, Oliver," she tilted her face upwards to meet his glance.
"It was all true," he stated simply, and his eyes were, just for a moment, filled with a lustful longing, but he turned away quickly to mask it.
They pair stared intently forward, but Lily hadn't come all the way up here just to talk about feelings. Oliver needed her, so she bravely reached over and grasped his hand strongly in hers. It was the first time she'd touched him since that night in her bedroom, and she felt her nerves tingle and her arm go almost numb at his contact. He shifted so his hand encased hers. She glowed.
"Oliver," she whispered after they'd realized the tick-tocking of a clock high on the wall. She glanced up at it. He glanced up at her. "I'm sorry about your Grandpa."
She decided it was safe to turn back to face him, but he thought otherwise and copied her to face the clock. His face went white, then blotchy red covered up the pale spots. 'Oh God,' Lily was suddenly saying to herself. 'I made him cry.' She watched as he turned to the side and put the hand that had covered hers over his closest eye.
"Oliver!" she almost shouted, "I'm so sorry. Never mind. Let's not talk about it!" Her words were frantic and worried, but she slowed compassionately as he hunched farther into his contorted figure. "I, I won't look," she smiled, and faced away from him.
There was a laugh hidden somewhere in the sobs he wouldn't let her hear. She could tell the broken breath wasn't just that. "It's okay," he spoke into his hand, but she heard it. "Don't apologize," she said, beginning to sit up and face her. "Lily, you can talk about it. And uhm, please look at me," he added, and she obeyed, turning back around. His eyes were watery, but there was something about broken Oliver that was beautiful, so she gave a helpless grin.
"Why wouldn't you talk about it with Mike?" she asked after letting him compose himself a bit. She wondered fleetingly why that had chosen to sit so awkwardly on the floor.
"Well," he started, sniffing a little, "First of all, it just wasn't good timing. I didn't want to get all mopey and dumb like now." He drew a thumb under his eyes, distinctly wiping any tears.
"You don't look all mopey and dumb," she sympathized. "I haven't seen you cry in years, Oliver, but this is – I don't know. It's kind of sweet."
She watched a little peach color flush his cheeks. "Well, really, I didn't want to talk about it with him because he wouldn't understand."
She gave him a questioning glance.
"He's just a guy. He can't help it, but he can't be very sympathetic to me."
"Are you saying you're not a guy," she teased. She almost dodged the hand that flipped from his side to slap her leg, but wasn't fast enough. She was glad though, because after it touched her once, it wouldn't leave, and rubbed the spot comfortingly instead, healing any pain me might have caused.
"Besides," he started again, looking at her directly this time, "I wanted to talk about it first with you."
Her heart fluttered a bit. She knew she liked this Oliver kid. "So talk," she said.
They sat watching one another for a few moments. Lily took the initiative and placed a hand over Oliver's to stop its movement on her leg and ensure that it wouldn't leave. She'd had all too much of Oliver's warmth running away from her lately. He leaned in slowly and placed the lightest peck on her lips. She wasn't even sure his lips ever touched hers, but she felt the tingle of it either way. He drew back and glanced down at her, almost happily. Maybe it wasn't happy, but it was serene. He knew exactly how to comfort all of her worries.
"He was the one who taught me how to play chess, my grandpa, that is." He looked blankly out to the wall, remembering, the kiss already forgotten in his distracted state. "We played it every Tuesday night when I was younger because my family went over there once a week for dinner. He'd say 'Do you want some dessert, Oliver man?', and I'd laugh and tell him not to call me that, then say one way or another that I did want dessert, and ask him what it was. Every time he'd tell me 'You can't know until you play me in a good game of chess.'" He smiled to himself vaguely, and Lily closed her eyes in an attempt to see little Oliver sitting with his Grandfather at the chess table. Warmth filled her. "Then we'd play, and he'd tell me what dessert was. If I won the game, I got to have some."
"Your grandpa wouldn't give you dessert if you didn't win the game? Tough life, Oken," she giggled.
"No," he looked back at her. "He'd just tell me he was going to make some for himself, since he won, then make two bowls." He showed her a pathetic face, like he knew it was all over but would never let go of those childish moments. Lily had felt the same way when her Great Uncle Henry passed in eighth grade.
"Aw Oliver," Lily complained gently, "I wish you'd told me that before. You used to ask me all the time if I wanted to play chess, and I would never do it."
"You didn't know how to play," he excused her.
"I never let you teach me," she said apologetically. "Every time you'd say 'How about I show you how to play a good game of chess?'"
"And every time," he jumped in nostalgically, "you would say 'I'm not in the mood.' And that was that."
She watched the little spots on the corners of his mouth where the dimples weren't move up and down as he smiled, then began another story. "My Grandpa was funny; he was so set on tradition." He was faced forward again, but glanced out of the corners of his eyes to make sure Lily was still listening. When he was content that she was, he continued. "We always had this one salad with our Christmas dinner. It had these dried cherries and sugar-covered walnuts on it and some other stuff I don't remember. But he knew exactly what it was, and this one year my Aunt Sue tried to switch it up somehow, and he almost had a panic attack," he shook his head to no on in particular. "He made her go out to the store, on Christmas day, to get the right stuff. I can't even remember breakfast some days, but he, in his old age, could list every ingredient in the Christmas salad."
"That must be where you got it," she elbowed him jokingly.
"Got what?" he teased back.
"Your insane inability to notice detail. He forced it out of you," she laughed. "You defiant bastard."
"Yeah, you know me," he let on. "There's just a lot of little stuff I'm going to miss doing. You know, the fishing and the birdhouses in the backyard in summertime and the life lessons when you screw something up," he mumbled.
"We could do that stuff," she paused in realization, "if you wanted."
"Lils," he sung, letting his smile droop sadly, and she knew in an instant what he would say, "it's not that I don't love doing stuff with you, but I kind of don't want to change those memories, you know? I don't want to try to remake them because I love them that way."
"Okay," she sighed, suddenly fascinated by the dirt her mother had made her clean from her fingernails that morning. She did it anyway, needing to look occupied.
"I didn't mean to hurt your feelings.
"You didn't," she assured him, nodding.
They shifted simultaneously to face one another, Lily, without a word, suggesting they sit cross-legged like when they were little, and Oliver following her command.
"What are you doing?" she giggled after a few moments of Oliver's wandering eyes.
"Just looking at you," he said, and she blushed furiously. "No, no. Not like that," he reassured her. "I just don't ever want to forget what you look like, all innocent and happy. I'm memorizing you, okay?" His words were so simple, honest, that she just couldn't help but resist them.
"I like that," she told him. "I think I'll do the same," she flirted and stared back at him, loving the chance just to examine his form.
"Thanks for coming up here with me. Actually, thanks for showing up here at all," he interrupted her viewing, drawing her gaze back up to his beautiful lips that moved with his words. "It's kind of a nasty situation anyway, real awkward and all, and then we hadn't talked in so long. If I were you, I don't think I'd be worth coming to see in a state like this. I didn't think you were going to come."
"I had to, Oliver. You needed someone to talk to, to let comfort you," she reassured him. "Besides, I don't think I could have taken being away from you very much longer," she admitted slowly, averting her eyes.
He leaned in suddenly so his face was level with hers and not very far away, forcing her to turn back to him curiously. He looked her in the eyes and spoke distinctly, "I love you, Lily Truscott." 'I love the spontaneous boy,' she found herself thinking.
Her cheeks flushed wildly and she felt the tight stretch of skin when her grin couldn't get any bigger, and she leaned in just a little closer to him so their noses touched. "I love you too, Oliver," she breathed sheepishly and pulled away, "But we really shouldn't be talking about this now." She watched as his expression dropped. "Later," she promised, and he nodded.
Lily saw him turn his head once over his shoulder, then look back at her. He held out an inviting hand, which she took happily, and he pulled her up off the floor with him, leading her to the little blue satin loveseat in the corner. 'More comfortable,' he thought, and she heard it.
He sat her down just beside him, both of them angled inward so their knees all but brushed. He looked up at the clock, then shifted his gaze to the satin seat cover, stroking his hand back and forth against it, preoccupied. She couldn't tell for certain, but he tilted his head and crinkled his nose like the tears might have come again, so she decided to help.
"Oliver," she whispered, and he nodded, but wouldn't look up. "Do you want me to hold you?" Her words would have seemed silly were they not in the right situation, but she didn't feel at all bad about saying it, and she knew he understood.
His face tilted upwards, revealing again-glossy eyes, and shook his head. "No," he smiled, "But do you think I could," he paused, "well, would you come hear anyway?" His words were nervous, unsure, so she did.
He patted his lap lightly, and she threw him a questioning glance. "Sit," he mouthed, and she obliged. Not quite sure just what exactly he wanted her to do, she tried to maneuver her body so it wouldn't be too uncomfortable for him. She sat lightly on his lap, hoping she wasn't too heavy, so that her hips were sideways on his and her legs fell somewhere from there. She wrapped her arms around his shoulders so her head and chin rested on the far one. She thought maybe it looked awkward, but it was like she was giving him a big hug, and he didn't move her, so she assumed it must be all right.
After a few moments, she felt his hands rest themselves on her back, rubbing lightly up and down. She enjoyed the electric feeling.
The clock chimed lightly, counting the seconds they'd been there. Oliver and Lily did no such thing.
"Oliver," she whispered to him after she'd sat so long she was sure his legs must have fallen asleep.
"What?" he breathed into her ear.
"Will you teach me how to play a good game of chess? It might get your mind of things," she asked him sweetly.
He pulled her away, moving his hands to grasp either side of her face gently. He leaned in and kissed her once. "Lily," he smiled, "I'm not in the mood." She giggled, agreeing, so he pulled her back to him, holding her tighter instead.
A/N: Well, how about those girlish giggles? What did you think? Was it a little choppy sounding? I think so. My words were not working tonight, haha. Like I said before, this was really the last chapter of any substance, so if you're not one for plotless romance, feel free to call this the end of "By Any Other Name", and stop checking back. If you're into the romance, stay tuned. Oh, and speaking of the title, I came to a realization today when thinking about how to incorporate that line into the last chapter. I was gunna be all "Let's replace the word Rose with Lily, because Rose isn't Lily's name, and they're both flowers. Cute." Then something hit me. Her middle name is Rose. Darn it, what was I thinking? Haha. You'll have to see how I work my way out of that conundrum, but not before you review! Haha! Happy end of freedom, readers. School is in the morning.