Melting

Rating: M

Fandom: Tulie

Description: He didn't want to admit why she looked at him with such disappointment in her eyes. And he didn't want to know why he cared so much. But when betrayal flashed across her beautiful face, a pain like none he'd ever experienced before tore through his heart.

Disclaimer: I own nothing but my words.

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If you asked him when it started, he wouldn't be able to give you a definitive answer. Sometime after or during the time he lived with the Taylor's would have been his best guess. All he knows is that at some point, Julie Taylor stopped being the coach's daughter and started being his friend. It was a foreign concept for him, so he was more than surprised when it came so naturally. That being in her presence was easy and safe and calm. She was unlike anyone he'd ever known and the first friend of the female persuasion he'd ever had. If he was being really honest, she was the second friend he'd ever had period. Street was the only other person in his life who was really and truly his friend. Everyone else was either team mates or… well, let's not go there.

One of the things that surprised him most was her ability to get him to talk. He'd never been much of a talker, but somehow Julie Taylor was able to get him to spill his guts. He talked to her about everything. His dad, his brother, his disastrous affair with his neighbour, Lyla, Street, everything. And she listened. She listened and didn't judge, only offering her opinion when he asked. She accepted everything he told her no matter how ugly and she never once made him feel like it was something to be ashamed of. She made him feel worthy. For the first time in his life.

It wasn't one sided. She talked to him about Saracen and the Swede. About Gracie coming along and how she felt like she was being lost in the shuffle. He'd comforted her when she cried, something he'd always thought he'd be bad at, but Julie seemed to think his shoulder was the best place to cry. And it had made him feel strong to be able to comfort her, to protect her, to be her somewhere safe. Apart they had been lonely, but together, they felt wanted and needed. And the loneliness had started to fade until they were content in each other's company. He'd found himself looking forward to spending time with her, and disappointed when she wasn't waiting for him by his truck in the afternoon. She'd said she liked him sober, so he'd stopped drinking. She'd never been into the party scene, so he found himself going to them less and less. She cared about schoolwork and suddenly they were studying together and he was going to class.

Somewhere along the line though, their friendship got complicated. He started to see her, really see her. She was beautiful. All big eyes, full lips and miles of long blonde hair. Hair that he now knew for a fact was as silky as it looked. Her skin, he'd noticed, was softer than any he'd ever felt before, and he wasn't immune to the body dancing had given her. Strong legs and amazing curves. She was a woman, not just a girl, and that realisation had made things a little uncomfortable. Especially when he'd kissed her.

They'd been hanging out at his house one afternoon, nothing out of the ordinary. Homework followed by some stupid movie they could make fun of until their laughter filled the house. He'd realised at some point that Julie had managed to do the impossible and bring laughter back to his miserable house. And he'd missed it. He'd looked at her, sitting beside him on his beaten up sofa, her face flushed from laughing, and her eyes bright with happiness. His hand was suddenly behind her neck, drawing her face closer to his and then their mouths met. Her lips were so unbearably soft he thought they'd melt against the heat of his own. And when she'd drawn her tongue along his bottom lip he was sure that it was him that was melting.

After about 15 minutes of the hottest make out session of his life, she pulled away. Her small hand stroked his cheek and she smiled sweetly at him before sliding out from underneath him. How he'd ended up on top of her, as they lay on the sofa, he didn't know, but he already missed her warmth and her touch. She never said a word, just threw him another smile as she walked out his front door. He hadn't realised he was smiling until Billy made a crack about the stupid grin that was almost breaking his face.

They'd continued on like that for months. Spending time together and sneaking kisses whenever possible. On the sofa in his house, in his truck on the side of the road, under the bleachers, in the janitors closet during free periods. It never went beyond kissing. And it didn't surprise Tim, though he knew it should have, that it didn't matter to him. That he was content with their relationship as it was. Even if his hand was getting more of a workout then ever before. They hadn't talked about what was going on between them. They were just enjoying it. And Tim was sure he'd never been this happy in his whole life. He should have known that something world screw it up. That he'd find a way to screw it up.

When he'd opened his door one Saturday afternoon with a huge smile, thinking it to be Julie, it dropped immediately when he was brought face to face with Lyla Garrity. He should have turned her away. Told her to leave and never come back. He shouldn't have let her into the house. He definitely should have pushed her away when she kissed him, and letting her lead him back to his bedroom was just so beyond a mistake it was in a whole other state.

He wasn't as happy as he thought he'd be when she told him she wanted to be with him. Really with him, out in the open for the world to see. There was a strange feeling in his stomach when he'd kissed her after she called him her boyfriend.

He didn't see Julie that Sunday, he'd already known he wouldn't. She had something she had to do with her family. When Monday morning rolled round he considered ditching school for the first time in months. He felt guilty and he didn't like feeling that way. He didn't know what he was going to say to Julie. They weren't a couple. That much he knew. But he was… scared… of what her reaction to this latest development would be.

When he pulled into the school parking lot it was Lyla who was waiting for him with a huge smile on her face. Once it would have made his stomach do back flips in that really good kind of way to have seen Lyla looking at him like that, but now it left an uneasy feeling within him he wasn't sure how to explain or how to feel about it.

He let her take his hand and weave their fingers together in an intimate gesture that seemed so wrong and so out of place between the two of them. Julie had taken his hand like that once, when they were making out in the storage closet at school and he hadn't been able to stop the smile against her lips. It had felt right, normal, perfect. This didn't feel like that at all.

As they walked the corridors heading toward Lyla's locker Tim realised that he'd missed the entire walk from the car park. He was in a haze that suddenly became crystal clear when Julie came into view. She looked between him and Lyla and their joined hands. He didn't want to admit why she looked at him with such disappointment in her eyes. And he didn't want to know why he cared so much. But when betrayal flashed across her beautiful face, a pain like none he'd ever experienced before tore through his heart. And he couldn't deny it any longer.

Tim Riggins had fallen for Julie Taylor.

She turned and walked away from him with what he was sure were tears in her eyes, and Lyla's hand holding his was the only thing that was stopping him from running after her.

He didn't see her at all that day. She wasn't in any of the places he normally found her. She wasn't waiting for him after practice either. It was Monday; she always waited for him on Mondays. He waited, but she never came. So he drove home, and waited some more. But she never showed. He drove by her house, parking the truck a few houses down. He snuck around the side of the house, around to the window he knew was Julie's. She was sitting on her bed, a book in her lap. He watched her for a little while. She never once turned the page. He knocked on the window and smiled when she startled at the sound.

Julie looked up at him and the look in her eyes floored him. She'd never looked at him with such… hurt in her eyes before. Not when she talked about Matt, or the Swede, or any of the things she confided in him about. He tried to plead with her to open the window with the look in his eyes alone and breathed a sigh of relief when she put her book down and headed over to the window. Tim waited as she paused at the window, but she just pulled the curtains closed.

The next day at school he couldn't find her again. By Thursday he knew she was intentionally insuring that they didn't as much as run into each other in the hall. So he went to Lois. When he saw her lining up for lunch in the cafeteria he made a bee-line for the annoying girl. She smiled up at him ridiculously and he had to force himself to smile back at her.

"You seen Jules today Lois?" He spoke with the deepest drawl he could muster and watched as she giggled.

"Uh yeah… she's in the dance rooms." Once he would have found the way she blushed and stumbled cute, and allowed it to prop up his ego.

"Thanks Lois, I owe you one." He muttered quickly before bolting from the room.

He found her exactly where Lois said she would be. Sitting on the floor, leaning up against the wall with ear buds in her ears, her lunch lying untouched beside her as she turned her iPod around in her hands. She looked… sad, and it didn't sit well with him. Tim walked over and slid down the wall to sit beside her. She looked up at him surprised and tried to stand to walk away, but his hands on her shoulders prevented her from moving.

"Listen to me, please." He'd never begged anyone in his life. So why didn't he feel more ridiculous begging her?

She was silent but she was still so he took that as his cue and opened his mouth to start the speech he'd been rehearsing in his head since Monday. Only nothing came out. Julie looked up at him expectantly and clearly impatient with his pause.

"I don't know what to say." He finally admitted.

"Are you with her?" Her voice was tiny and he shrugged. He knew that wasn't going to be a good enough answer for her and her blazing eyes proved that.

"I don't… I think so. Yeah, I guess." He suddenly wondered if Matt wasn't always a stutterer but it had been Julie Taylor that had made him tongue tied and unable to think whenever she looked at him.

"Yeah well. Good luck with that." She quickly picked up her things and stood heading for the door. He expected to hear it slam behind her, but there was nothing, not even the sound of it being pulled open, violently or otherwise. Tim looked up and saw her paused. He knew the look, the stance, she was debating with herself. She obviously had something she wanted to say but wasn't sure whether or not to say it.

Tim Riggins would encounter Hurricane Julie this day.

"You know what. No. Not good luck. Cause you need a hell of a lot more than luck to make this work Riggins." She'd never called him that before. Her flaming eyes bore into his skull as she stood looking down on him and he felt stupid sitting there waiting for the rest of her tirade, so he stood quickly, shoving his hands deep into his pockets.

"I've sat with you for the last couple of months and heard all about the shit she's put you through. Making you feel worthless and shitty. If you think things are going to be any different this time round, than you are just proving her right, you are a dumbass. And don't you dare even think about coming crawling back to me when she finds someone she deems worthy and runs off again. Cause she will, believe me, and that is what I am, right? You're little bit of willing comfort on the side? Someone to lose yourself in? Tell me Riggins, were you thinking of her when you were kissing me?" There was pain and fear in her eyes, fear that what she accused him off was true.

Tim opened his mouth to correct her, to tell her that he was always with her completely, but she started up again before he could even make a noise.

"You know what? I don't want to know. I really don't want to know. I just want to walk away right now and never think of any of this again. Never remember when I honestly believed that it was you and me against the world and just be really fucking glad I never slept with you." She was gone in a whirl of swishing blonde hair and slamming doors all while Tim stood motionless and stunned, and not just because he'd never heard her curse before.

She was hurt. She was angry. She was feeling used. And Tim was overwhelmed with an intense hate of Lyla. She'd come along and screwed this up. The only thing that had ever meant anything to him before, the only thing that had ever made him happy.

Jules.

His Jules.

When he'd started to think of her as his, he didn't know. But it seemed right, more so than anything ever had before. He walked out of the room with a purposeful stride. He knew what he had to do, and he knew that he would have to put most of the blame where it belonged, on his own shoulders, soon enough but right now he had to make this right.

-

When Tim exited the locker rooms and headed over to his car he sighed when he saw Lyla Garrity leaning against his truck waiting for him. His anger, which he had worked out during practice, reared up again seeing her there, in Julie's spot. He trudged towards his truck, walking straight past her and pulled away when she tried to kiss him.

"What's wrong Tim?"

He couldn't look at her. And had her voice always been that whiny and annoying?

"Get in, I'll drive you home." He muttered as he opened the door for the driver's side, waiting for her to walk around and get in the other side.

"Is everything ok?" She asked with a worried note in her voice and for a second he felt bad for what he was about to do. But it quickly passed when an image of Julie's face popped into his head. Tim kept his mouth shut and drove the familiar streets of Dillon toward Lyla's house.

As he pulled up outside the house, he didn't bother turning the engine off, wanting to get this done quickly. A part of him wanted to inflict pain, as some sort of retribution for Julie, but he did know that that wasn't fair, and he wasn't that guy, no matter what Lyla had said or done in the past.

"We're done." He said quietly his eyes looking straight ahead instead of at the brunette beside him. But he could feel the confused look she was aiming at him. "We're over. It can't happen again, it won't happen again. I don't want you anymore. I'm not trying to be mean or hurtful. I'm just telling you the truth. So don't come around to my house anymore. Whatever we had was messed up from the start and it's over now."

He was waiting for some kind of outburst but he didn't get one. Just a whispered "There's someone else, isn't there?"

"There was… I screwed it up by jumping back into bed with you. I hurt her. She didn't deserve it and she definitely doesn't deserve to be dragged into this mess we started." Tim still refused to look at her.

"Well I hope you can work it out with her Tim." With that he heard the door open and then close gently behind her. Once he would have waited until she was in the house before driving off. Not today.

He didn't know how long he'd driven around town but it had gotten dark at least a half hour ago, and still the only thing on his mind was Julie. His car found it's way to her house of it's own accord and he pulled it over a couple of houses down, just like he had a few days ago. He got out and followed the path he'd learned that night around to the side of the house and Julie's window. Her door was open and the room was empty. He waited a moment before he saw her. She walked in, closing the door behind her, dressed only in an oversized Panther's jersey that swamped her tiny body. Without any make up, her damp hair piled up on her head in a messy bun and her agonisingly long legs exposed, Tim thought she'd never looked more beautiful.

He raised his hand and knocked on her window again, silently saying a prayer to whatever god was listening that she would open the window this time. She stared at him, unmoving for a full minute before she walked over. She hesitated and he feared she'd pull the curtains closed again. He whispered "Please" and stepped back when she nodded.

The window slid open with a slight whoosh and Julie kneeled down beside it. Tim moved forward to lean against the window frame so they were eye to eye.

"What do you want Tim?"

"I ended it with her."

She hesitated before answering softly. "Am I supposed to swoon and fall into your arms?"

"No." He shook his head. He knew that it wouldn't be that easy.

"Then why are you telling me this?" Her voice held such… contempt. He really hoped that he hadn't lost her for good. That she could forgive him this once.

"I'm sorry. I should have turned her away when she showed up at my house. I should have told her everything that I told her tonight. I should have told her that there was someone else, someone that I was falling for and was happier with than I'd ever been in my whole life. Someone I don't really deserve. And I don't know why I didn't."

"Yes you do. Don't say that, because you do know."

"I'm not good enough for you Jules. I'm not. You should be with someone like Saracen. Someone who never screws up and will treat you right." He sounded pathetic even to his own ears and he knew that she would get annoyed or even angry by his answer.

"You were treating me just fine until this. And don't you think that I have a right to be with whomever I choose? What gives you the right to make decisions for me?" Oh she was pissed alright. But pissed was a step up from hurt.

"Nothing. That's my point. I'm not good for you, just by being associated with me your name is going to be dragged through the mud. The town will talk and they'll call you things that I don't want them to. Things that aren't true. And one day you'll wake up and you'll realise that you made the wrong decision and that they were right when they wondered what on earth you were doing with that damn Riggins boy and you'll leave and where will I be then? When I'm so completely in love with you and every part of you is so ingrained in my life? What will I do then?"

"Tim." Her voice held so much… pity. He didn't want pity. He wanted her.

"I should have turned her away. And I'm so sorry that I didn't. But don't think for a second that when I was with you, that I was with someone else. Cause I wasn't. It was you and only you, always."

"You kept it quiet. You didn't want to tell anyone. I just assumed…" She was shaking her head like she couldn't believe him, not because she thought he was lying but because it didn't seem possible. He wanted to laugh or cry, he didn't know which, that he was able to read her so well.

"Another mistake I made. And I am sorry Jules. I don't expect you to just forgive me and carry on like none of this ever happened. Just… think about it."

She nodded slowly after a moment. "I will."

Tim leaned forward slowly, hoping she would allow him this small request. She hesitated for a moment before leaning in and pressing her lips against his in a gentle kiss.

"Thank you Jules." He whispered before stepping back and heading back to his truck.

Tim didn't see Julie at school on Friday. Not that he expected to. He was determined to give her some space in the hopes that she would decide to choose him. And by the time the game rolled around that night he'd convinced himself that if she did decide to turn him down than he just wasn't going to accept that. He would follow her around like a puppy dog if he had to. He wasn't giving her up.

The game flew by in a mash of passes, touch downs and field goals with the Panthers eventually taking home the win. There was a party, there was always a party, but this one he heard Julie was actually going to be at. So he quickly showered and changed in the locker rooms before heading out to some kid's house, he wasn't sure who, and he didn't really care. He made the rounds quickly, saying hello to the usual people all the while keeping an eye out for Julie. He didn't see her anywhere. So he took up residence leaning against a particular piece of wall that had a view of the whole room, including the only two entrances. As soon as she got here, he'd know.

He hadn't really planned for seeing that kid Riley again though. And well honestly, he hadn't so much seen him, as heard him, obviously in the middle of a group of people bragging about the night he almost deflowered the coach's daughter. And really, what was he expected to do? He'd already told the kid to back off where Jules was concerned or he'd end him. He was just keeping his promise.

So he walked over to the kid, the crowd around him parting with his approach and smiled down at the little shit as his face went from cocky grin, to deadly fear.

"Riley isn't it?" Tim drawled, the kid just nodded with a gulp, Tim couldn't help but notice the exaggerated bobbing of his Adam's apple when he swallowed. "I thought we talked about this. Did we not talk about this?" Wisely, the kid was silent. "Julie Taylor is off limits. You aren't to look at her, talk about her, think about her, or have anything to do with her in anyway. You understand me?" He nodded quickly and Tim thought for a moment that Riley might actually pee his pants. "This is a warning, you don't want to know what happens if the warning isn't followed." The kid nodded again and Tim turned away from him, straight into Julie Taylor.

"We need to talk. Outside." Boy did she seem pissed. As soon as they were outside and around the corner of the house, out of sight and ear shot from the party Tim started explaining immediately.

"Look, I'm sorry for acting all caveman or whatever but the kid was talking smack and I wasn't about to allow it no matter how pissed you get so just…" He didn't get to finish his sentence. Julie had pushed him, with surprising strength, up against the side of the house and attached her lips to his.

His arms wrapped around her waist and pulled her flush up against him, her body fitting against his perfectly, like this is exactly where they both belonged. When they finally pulled apart, Julie kept her arms wrapped around Tim's neck, her fingers playing with the surprisingly soft hair there as his slipped under her shirt to rest against the warm skin of her back.

"Does this mean I'm forgiven?" He asked gently, not wanting to push his luck.

"All depends." She whispered as she rubbed her lips together tauntingly. He waited for her to continue. "Say it again."

He was confused for a moment, not sure what it was that he was supposed to be saying, but when he looked into her eyes he knew immediately. He rested his forehead against hers, never breaking eye contact.

"I love you." It was barely a whisper, but it was just what she needed to hear.

"I love you too." She whispered back and something inside of Tim shifted. Something that he'd never even realised had been there all along. An emptiness that was now filled. And not for the first time did he wonder, how on earth he got to be so lucky.

"No one else Jules." It was a simple, almost cryptic statement, but he knew she'd understand. No one else would ever come between them, ever.

"Not ever." She whispered back before her lips were on his again. It wouldn't be easy. They both knew that. Her parents. The entire town of Dillon. No one would like this unlikely pairing. But no one else mattered. Her parents would come around. He knew they would eventually, when he proved himself to be a good, doting boyfriend. Everyone else could disappear for all he cared. Everyone he needed was currently in his arms, trying to crawl up his body to get closer to him, as their lips brushed and her tongue tangled with his in the hottest kiss of his entire life.

The End?

A/N: I might be persuaded to do a sequel, if I get enough reviews. So hit that little button.