Disclaimer: I think everyone knows the drill.

Title: Lyla's Denial

Pairing: Lyla/Tim

Summary: Lyla has trouble admitting the real reason why things will never work out between she and Chris. Takes place between S2 & S3.

Prologue:

Lyla drives aimlessly, trying to clear her mind.

She just finished an emotionally draining conversation with Chris, hinting to him that their five-month relationship is coming to an end. He had been under the impression that things were pretty near perfect. He was mistaken.

He assumed this was all about sex. He told her he loved her. He loved her enough to wait. Do you love me enough to wait, Lyla?

That had been his question and she had wanted to say yes. But lying to him would make her feel even worse. Waiting wasn't the problem. So, she told him that part.

The problem was so much simpler.

She had tried to convince herself that Chris was right for her. She had reminded herself time and time again about all the things that drew her toward Chris in the first place. He made her feel like a good Christian. He made her feel like she had been forgiven for the mistakes she made in her past. He made her feel good about herself.

But… she doesn't love him. Never will.

Things are over between them, even if she didn't bother to make it official tonight.

As she continues driving without a destination, her mind wanders back to a certain other boy. A boy she grew up with, yet still remains largely a mystery to her. A boy who had been there for her when her whole world turned upside down. A boy who loved her. Who loves her, presently. A boy that has been so bruised, battered and tossed aside by the people he has loved, it is truly a wonder he wants to love anyone at this point.

That boy had shocked her many times throughout the course of their lives. But nothing was more shocking than the night he stood outside, in front of his house, claiming that he loved her. She didn't have to wonder if he meant it. She could see that he did.

His heart had been on his sleeve and he didn't wear it there for just anyone. He didn't wear it there for anyone at all. But, he wore it there for her. Or, maybe it wasn't on his sleeve as much as it was in his eyes.

That look.

He had given her that look many times in the last couple of years. A look that said all the things he couldn't bring himself to say out loud. He had actually already been telling her that he loved her, over and over again.

To be loved by Tim Riggins terrified her. And the possibility that she loved him back terrified her even more.

Chapter 1:

Lyla parks her car by the lake and slowly gets out. She wanders toward the water.

It's dark, but she can just make out a figure sitting alone in a lawn chair. She knows who it is, before she gets close enough to actually see him. She should probably get back in her car and drive away. But he already knows she's there.

She braces herself for impact.

He looks up as he hears her approach. "Surprised to see you out here, Garrity."

"It's a nice night. I just wanted some fresh air."

He smiles and raises his beer, "me too."

He's studying her; even in the dark she can feel his intent gaze.

"What's wrong?" He asks.

"Why do you assume something's wrong?"

"You don't come out here. Not alone."

She hates that he's right.

"I'm fine, Tim."

He nods. He doesn't believe her for a second. All her body language says exactly the opposite.

He gets up out of his chair, offering it to her.

"No, thanks. I'm not staying long."

He nods toward the chair.

"Please, Lyla. Just sit."

She takes the chair.

He walks over to where his truck is parked and pulls a second lawn chair from the back. He plops the chair down next to the one Lyla is now comfortably seated in. He takes a seat beside her and offers her a beer. She declines.

They sit for a while in a comfortable silence.

Tim finally clears his throat. He hates to see her looking so sad.

"For real, Garrity. What's wrong?"

She gives him a pleading look. She turns away and shakes her head.

"I can't talk to you about this."

He takes that in with a slight nod.

"So, it's the boyfriend? You have a fight or something?"

This time she doesn't look up. "We didn't have a fight."

He raises his eyebrows at her, taking a swig of his beer. He doesn't believe her for a second. "Alright."

She needs to tell him something or else he'll persist all night. She decides on part of the truth- a different truth.

"My mom's moving away. To San Francisco. I have to decide whether I'm going with her or staying here with my dad."

It's true. Her mother is moving away, but she's already 99% certain she's not going along. It doesn't make sense for her to leave Dillon during her senior year. It's not as hard a decision as she lets Tim think it is. Better that she let him believe she's confiding in him.

She sees some surprise register in his eyes. That's not what he expected to hear.

"You should stay."

Lyla feels her heart flutter in her chest at his words.

"Yeah? Why's that?"

"'Cuz this is your home." He pauses and then looks over, meeting her eyes. "And I'd miss ya."

He smiles and she finds herself returning the smile. There's only so much pushing away she can do. And, of course, there's that look in his eyes again.

Lyla feels herself unravel a bit. She remembers why she wanted to be alone in the first place.

"Tim, can I ask you a question?"

He's still giving her the look, "Yeah."

"Why?"

She knows she needs to elaborate, but she doesn't know the right words to use. He waits for her to continue. She swallows and tries to keep her composure. "Why don't you just move on? Why don't you believe me when I say it's never gonna happen between us?"

Her voice is strained, her emotions getting the best of her.

She watches as a flicker of something crosses his eyes. "You know why."

And she kinda does. But maybe she wants him to convince her.

She shakes her head. "You have to stop."

He looks away, and now he's teasing her just a bit. "Y'know, Lyla. I'm not really doing anything. The radio show ended a while ago. You saying you want me to stop going to church? 'Cuz I seem to remember you being the one who invited me there in the first place."

It's so frustrating when he's right.

"Tim, you know what I mean. And, yes, now that you mention it, you should stop going to my church because you go for the wrong reasons. You shouldn't be there because of me."

She feels bad telling him not to go to church. She wishes she could take back her last sentence. Her last two sentences. She should have never taken the conversation in this direction tonight. She was already emotionally wrought before she sat down with him. Now she feels like she's free-falling.

Tim has fallen silent for the moment. When he finally speaks again, she almost jumps. His voice is soft, "I can't, Lyla." She is afraid to meet his gaze, and yet she can't help herself. "I can't stop the way I feel."

It reminds her of another time and another place. Lyla, I can't. I can't stop thinking about you, Lyla. Those words had made her give in, back then.

She doesn't know what to say. No one can control the way they feel. Just like she has no control over how she feels. How she doesn't feel for Chris. How she doesn't want to admit she may feel for Tim.

She feels her eyes start to sting. The tears will come soon and she really doesn't want him to see her cry.

She stands somewhat abruptly. A single tear breaks free and makes it way down her right cheek. She's already turned away so he can't see it fall.

"I've gotta go." She mumbles her goodbye and starts walking quickly back toward her car.

She feels like she is in some sort of a trance. She didn't even realize that he had stood up and followed her.

Before she can unlock her driver's side door, she feels his hand tugging gently on her arm. He spins her around to face him. She can't hide the tears that are shimmering in her eyes. He looks at her with such warmth and complete sincerity.

"Lyla..." No one says her name quite the way he does. It's like a psalm on his lips.

His strong, muscular arms are around her now. Arms that could take down a man twice his size—they are careful, gentle with her. Yet, still strong. She lets herself melt into his embrace. It feels good; she feels so safe. He kisses her cheek, washing away the salt from the tear that had so recently traveled that path. He says nothing; he just continues to hold her close.

She turns her head, just a fraction. It brings her lips closer to where his are. She's not entirely sure if she did it on purpose or not. Either way, he sees it as the invitation it is. And everything goes into slow motion as his lips land on hers. Softly. She lets him kiss her, but he does so only for the briefest moment. It reminds her of that time in Mexico…

He's still holding her in his arms and gazing down into her eyes. He licks his upper lip, a habit that she finds unbearably sexy. She knows she wears a slightly pained expression. Just because she let him kiss her, doesn't mean anything has changed. This is still wrong. She's still with Chris. Even if its just a technicality at this point.

He unwraps his arms from around her body and drops his gaze to the ground. He looks a bit defeated as he backs away and mumbles a goodbye, "Get home safe, Lyla."

She doesn't say a word, only watches as he retreats to his chair. Part of her wants to run back over to him and have him continue what he just started. And the other part of her feels guilty for not pushing him away in the first place. She reigns in both parts of herself and gets in her car. She needs to put mileage between herself and Tim in order to forget how he just made her feel.

As she drives back toward her house, she acknowledges that there is no amount of mileage that can change the truth.

Tim sets her on fire without lifting a finger. Chris can't even light the match.