Some Kind of Fix
Word Count: 1,860
Spoilers: up to 1x13, just to be safe.
Disclaimer: I don't own anything. I just break things.
Summary: He wants a fix. She's got somewhere to be. Neither of them expected this.
Author's Note: So here it finally is, the last part of this story. I think this is a good place to end it. :)
Some Kind of Commitment
Got a ring?
Linden had a feeling that what she'd done to Holder—asking that—bordered on torture. It was cruel, leaving him stuck with that comment and no real way to discuss it—not in front of Jack, anyway. He might have wanted to talk, kind of looked like it, but he didn't actually say anything in front of Jack.
Unless you counted when he dug in his drawer, found a couple of paper clips and twisted them together, all the while giving Jack instructions on how to put the cookies together. "Bigger than that, kid. Rounder. Yeah, about like that. Looks good. Make 'em all about that big. Wait, give me that M&M there."
"That was two," Jack protested. "Wait, you're not supposed to eat the dough, right, Mom?"
"If it has uncooked eggs, then, no."
"Everyone eats cookie dough, Linden," Holder objected, coming around the counter and putting the metal he'd twisted into a small circle into her hand. He looked like he was about to kiss her or hug her, but he stopped himself and moved back to the oven instead.
She was a bit disappointed, but she had to smile as she looked down at the "ring" in her hand. It wasn't much of one, especially not compared to the one that Rick had given her, but she liked it better for some reason. Rick had gone through the whole thing—he'd carefully planned the moment that he was going to ask her, taken her out for the perfect dinner that she barely remembered, and then he'd asked her just at what he felt was the right time. He'd been careful.
Holder had been anything but careful. Why was that so appealing? Maybe it was because he never backed down when she got angry, because he just shrugged and blew off her latest blow up instead of trying to pacify her or change her. He had always had this attitude of fine, whatever. Everything seemed to bounce off of him like it was nothing.
"Cookie dough," Holder said, shoving a spoon at her. She backed away a little. "Come on. You know you want to eat it. Yum, yum, yum..."
"Those cookies are going to make both of you overdose on sugar, you do know that, right?"
"I can only think of one better way to go," Holder told her, and the look on his face explained clearly what the other one was. She didn't think that Jack had missed it, either. He looked uncomfortable, but then Holder had actually tried to talk to him about the birds and the bees. That would make anyone uncomfortable.
"Come on, Mom, you gotta try it. I made it. Well, Holder talked me through it, but I did the measuring and the pouring and the stirring and the putting them on the tray. I made them," Jack said, sounding proud of himself. She was glad that he was, but him enjoying cooking so much, now that was a shock.
"Okay, I'll try it," Linden agreed, and immediately Holder stuck the spoon in her mouth. She had to stomp down her gag reflex, trying not to throw up. It wasn't that the dough tasted bad, but the spoon had gone a bit too far. She nodded. "Yeah, sugar overload."
"In the most awesome way possible," Jack agreed, not caring for a second what she'd really thought of the cookies. "Holder was right. These are the best cookies ever."
"Wait until my sister makes 'em. I'm hoping she'll have them next week when I go see her. You can come with me if you like. Maybe the kids will like you. Maybe not. Who knows?"
"Next week? So you figure we'll be around for that?"
"Kid, your mom already told you that she's staying here. You're staying here. Your dad pulling a bit of crap on you—that doesn't change it," Holder reminded him. He went over to the other counter and started making some coffee. "You'll be around next week. You can come or not. Up to you."
"Your sister won't mind?" Linden asked, getting herself a coffee cup. "Some people don't like extra guests. Maybe you should have asked her first before inviting Jack."
Holder looked at her, opening his mouth to say something, but Jack jumped in first. "What about you, Mom? Aren't you going to say there's no way I can go next week? You're mad at Holder now, right? He didn't say why, but the two of you are acting all weird and kind of distant and not like you were."
"Everyone has fights. It's what happens after the fight that says if things are gonna keep working, you know," Holder said. Linden watched him, aware of what had to be coming next. "It isn't easy or perfect, that whole love dance thing, it just... is."
"It is what it is, right, Holder?" Linden asked, and he nodded, smiling a little as he turned back to the oven, opening up the door to check on his cookies. She watched. She had a bad habit of watching him from the back.
"Exactly, Linden. So you live with it or you don't. Fighting it and running aren't real options."
"And drugs are?"
Holder shook his head. "No. No way in hell. I'd be the first to say it doesn't. Let that be a lesson to you, kid. Just say no."
Jack snorted. Linden sighed.
It took way too damn long to get Linden's kid out of the way to have an actual conversation in private. Holder wasn't really sure how he made it through the cookies and the rest of it. He felt like he'd been holding his breath the whole damn time—that wasn't even possible—but that weight on his chest was getting tighter and tighter. He kept waiting for the whole thing to fall apart. Linden hadn't said a word about it, about the ring or anything. It wasn't like she'd left or nothing, but she hadn't said anything, either.
He hadn't expected her to ask for a ring. He thought that she'd come back, take her kid, and go. It hadn't been like that, but he didn't have a ring. He hadn't planned it out—proposing to her had to be one of the dumbest ideas that he had ever had—and it wasn't like he had anything lying around. His little trick with the paper clips wasn't all that impressive, and she was going to say no now that the kid wasn't around to hear them.
That much sugar should have kept the kid bouncing off the walls for hours, but instead it must have put him into a coma. He would be fine, out for a while, but fine. That could be a good thing. It might not be.
Holder was a bit worried about this conversation. He lit up a cigarette and looked over at Linden. "You came back."
She nodded. "Jack was here."
"Figured you'd be back for him. And your stuff, what little you've got," Holder agreed. He took a drag on his cigarette and looked at her. "You stayed longer than I thought."
She shrugged. "Thought you said running isn't an option."
"Doesn't mean you wouldn't try it, Linden. I know it, and you do, too," he told her, coming close to her. "What did you mean by the ring bit?"
She didn't answer right away. He shook his head. This wasn't something he wanted to draw out any longer than he had to. He just wanted a damn answer. "Don't jerk my chain, Linden. You want a ring or not? You gonna answer me or not? I ain't in the mood to be messed with. I didn't ask you about something anyone takes lightly. It might have been the wrong question to ask you, but that doesn't mean that you can't answer it."
She walked over to him, and he handed her the cigarette. "Come on, now that you've got that, you can spit it out, can't you?"
"You think I need one of these for courage?" she demanded. He shrugged. She was the one that wasn't talking, not him. She shook her head. "Look, Holder, I'm not going to marry you. Not now."
"And that was so hard to say? You could have done it in one word. That's all it would have took. One damn word. It so hard to say no, Linden? I think you've had plenty of practice over the years. If not with men, than with your kid."
"Screw you, Holder," Linden snapped. "I didn't say—I just said I wouldn't marry you now. It's too damn soon. We barely know each other, even if you know me better than most. Nothing changes time but time, right? That sounds like something you would say."
"Maybe. But you have one twisted sense of humor, asking me about a ring,"he muttered, shaking his head. A good part of him was tempted to strangle her right now. He didn't like when people messed with him. He actually cared about this woman—damned if he knew why—and then she screwed around with his head. He should kick her out now, save some of himself before she managed to destroy what little he had left.
"I said not now. I didn't say not ever," she said, and he frowned. She tugged on his sweater. "You offered me a lot when I didn't have anything. I messed up things with Rick, and I did it on purpose. You knew it even when I was trying to lie to myself. I am never going to be good at this, but with you, it almost works. It's going to take a lot more time before we know for sure that it does. Still... I am willing to give it that time."
He stared at her. "Okay, now you're really messing with my head."
"I mean it. I want to stay. I want to try. I want to make this work."
He wanted to believe that, wanted it to be true. He wasn't quite ready to take her at her word, though. "Tomorrow's back to work. Things are going to change. And your kid can't sleep on the couch forever."
"We can find a place where he has his own room as soon as I have a job again."
"Unless you no longer want to share?" she countered, pulling him close to her. Oh, hell, he didn't care anymore. He wanted her, and he would take her anyway he could get her. He knew it wasn't going to be a short-term thing, and he could stick to the plan. She'd admitted that it worked. "Holder—"
"You sure about this?"
"Really, really sure?" he pressed. "Because if you're not sure, then we can just—"
"Shut up, Holder."
"Love you, too, Linden."