"Shouldn't be drinkin' so much at your age, love, I'm tellin' yeh. All that bloody – actually, come t'think o'it, what the fuck is that?"
Lol remained staring out at the clammy, musky darkness throughout the entire speech, face blank. She knew Woody's voice anywhere. He'd been following her around a lot lately. Stood outside with her now, he closed the patio doors with a metallic rolling sound. Everything was sweaty. Woody smelt sweaty; like earthy, shitty weed and wet armpits. Her face was hot, prickly heat hissing down her arms and back. She scratched the nape of her neck and then heaved.
"I dunno. It's cider, larger, some of that orange stuff Trev bought, and Meggy's sherry."
In her other hand she held a pint glass of swirling greyish coloured liquid, the top bubbling like fresh sea foam. Woody scowled and then walked to stand in front of her, blocking her view of the neat patches of pansies around Meggy's back garden fence. He was wearing a blue chequered shirt and red braces, and as she had guessed he had circles of wetness under his arms, and one on the small of his back.
"Well it looks like Satan's tit milk or summut, it'll mess up yer liver. I'm tellin' yeh."
Lol raised an eyebrow at him. "I didn't know Satan had tits."
"Well, his Mrs's tit milk then," Woody pouted, "work wit' me 'ere, come on, love." Lol smiled at him awkwardly. Perhaps this wouldn't be as bad as she'd imagined; she'd been putting off conversation with him for weeks, since Combo left. She felt without a friend in the world; but it was her own fault. She hadn't been much fun lately. She went and stood outside alone in the dark even when tipsy.
"I've never really been any good with jokes and comedy and things," she snickered. "I leave that to the pricks like you."
Woody looked taken aback for a moment; the tattooed crucifix between his giraffe-like brown eyes was folded into an addition mark by frown lines. Lol looked at him groggily, waiting.
"Wull, what d'ye mean by that, then?"
"I mean that you're a prick, mate," Lol answered, her face and arms itching. She scratched at her elbows idly.
"How do I qualify for that, eh?" Woody demanded, his voice reaching those few tell-tale raspy, high-pitched little notes. He was upset, but she didn't really care. Combo would have been upset, his wrists clapped together, three cell walls and a grey door with a letterbox window, tiny diamonds of white light flitting over his face, trapped like a spider between paper and glass.
"You haven't – you don't even give two shits about Combo!"
Woody scoffed and rubbed the flat of his hand over his otter-sleek dark head. "Combo?"
"Yeah, Combo – or have you already fucking forgotten?" she barked.
No-one knew him, not really. They didn't know his hands. His knuckles stuck out of his fingers like white bolts and his veins pulsed treacley-purple like snake venom, and perhaps he was strong enough to do it, to hurt people, but she had felt the rough plates of his fingers nails run across her naked stomach, thighs, face; and he had been so careful, his kisses were quiet, his nails whispered, as though she might break like a paper bird beneath those hands. He could never hurt anyone.
"Course I ain't forgot about him, but in two years he'll be out, sweetheart. He chose to go." Woody spoke gently. She blinked at him.
"You let him go," she snapped. "He doesn't deserve to go back there!"
"He reckons the Sunday apple crumble they do's nearly as good as his Mum's," he smiled steadily. "He'll be alright, we all know he will. Now we jus' need ta wait for him to get back."
Lol glugged down more of her greyish drink. It tasted of piss and mud, but she could barely tell now, her tongue felt numb. The idea of Combo eating Sunday apple crumble out of a plastic tray with a plastic spoon made her itch all the more – it wasn't right. He'd always looked out of place eating it from a rose-white china bowl with embellished cutlery, but this seemed even worse. She didn't want him to have to eat plasticy stewed apples. It should've been Woody; but instead he was here with the Budweiser and Combo's black crucifix between his eyes. Something stank here, like a sticky pussy. It was Woody.
"He didn't need to go. Did you even thank him?" she asked, quieter now.
"Of course I did. I don't understand why you're so fuckin' razzed up about it, darlin'. Ya never seemed to like him anyway."
Well, Lol gulped down the taste of warm, beery sick. She had kept it a secret that she had liked him, just little glances between them in the summer through bluish grey cigar smoke, or the tiniest brush of his thin, spit-soft lower lip against her neck. She didn't like the way he rattled his belt buckle with his hands when he walked, or the way he smiled sometimes like a hyena – but he listened. He did nothing but stroke the backs of her hands with his dry, heavy palms, make little rumbling noises, and listen. She needed him back now. She needed something.
"I did, actually. He was a good man," Lol shrugged. "I just feel like – I can't believe you let him go."
"Combo can look after himself, mate. Fuckin' hell, we all know I can't. Not in there. He chose to leave."
He chose to leave me, she thought. Lol gazed at him, and then ran her tongue over the ridges of her teeth. She decided to let it go. After all, everyone else had, and it would make no difference any more. Nothing seemed to. And she realised just then that Woody had the kindest, cosiest brown eyes she'd ever seen.
"Why have you been following me around, anyway, Woodford?" she huffed. "Don't pretend you 'aven't."
"I like ya, Lol," he said immediately, his eyes popping open with tiny pink veins. His hands flew up and rubbed the curve of his skull, and his mouth flapped and clacked like a broken mouse trap. There were lots of words, lots of things he had planned to say now, should the moment ever arise – maybe he'd got a little speech ready.
"O.K.," Lol said. "Go on then."
Woody blinked at her, and she smiled, close-mouthed, jaw bitten tight.
"What?" Woody mumbled.
"Well, you can do your little speech now," she chuckled.
Woody leaned back a little, apparently terrified. "Has Milky been talking to you?"
"Nah," she said.
"Well, I ain't got a speech. I just – I know you need a friend now, love. An' I feel very – erm, well, I feel very friendly towards yeh."
It made her smile.
"That's nice," she whispered. "That's really, really nice."
"You're really, really nice."
She rolled her eyes. "Now don't be a twat."
"You're being a twat," Woody grinned, in that lovely, naughty way of his, "jus' take the fuckin' compliment."
"I'll take it, then," she nodded once, taking a gobful of her drink, her eyes never leaving his over the rim of the glass. The orange lights were reflected in its surface, like bright faces in a dark puddle, like childhood. She blinked it away, drank it away.
"Here, let's 'ave a taste o'that."
In any other circumstance she wouldn't have given anyone else her drink – she didn't like mixing saliva on the edges of her glasses. But now she was drunk, and so she jostled the glass into his face, muttering, "Yeah, O.K., O.K.."
"Thanks," he said, and the ducked underneath her outstretched arm, and pushed a kiss onto her mouth so hard her lips grated against her teeth. She didn't push him away, just stared at his forehead, eyebrows and eyelashes.
Then his eyes opened.
"Tastes disgusting," he muttered.
"Well you stink," she reasoned. He wrinkled his nose.
Lol smiled. "'S alright."
"Can I kiss yeh again?"
"If you want."
He did. It was much more different this time, gentle, a little bit shaky, his mouth like a quivering slug. She accepted it, slid her upper lip over his, and he responded with a tiny, whispery noise. Then his long, thin hands like weed roots or birds talons cupped the back of her head and pulled her closer. Now his mouth was warm, and it widened, yielded, and he tasted like sweet orangeade.
After that his kisses got shorter and quicker, and then he caught her lower lip between his teeth and pulled it down. He smoothed her tongue over with his, the grain, the orangeade, the delicate desperation of the movement. She accepted it, moved back, and God, feeling this wanted was like nothing else on Earth – and maybe Meggy's sherry was turning the cogs her mind as well as his stomach, but she didn't care anymore.
"Uh, Lol," he murmured against her mouth, his sweaty chin rubbing against hers. She clasped his shoulder.
"Be my friend," she replied.
"I'm your friend," he nodded, and then closed his eyes and swallowed. "I am your friend."
A/N: Just a little bit of This Is England after seeing 88. It was completely heartbreaking and amazing. I love you Shane Meadows!
This is about Woody and Lol's first get together, first kiss, whatever. I figred after Combo first served a prison sentence for Woody after having slept with Lol, she'd probably be feeling pretty hateful for a while. So this is as much Woody/Lol as it is Combo/Lol. Hopefully I've done both couples justice!
This was a late New Year's present for my wonderfully lovely, loyal reader PandaLove01 – thank you so much for all of your support throughout Hopscotch, I hope you enjoy this!
And the same to everyone else – please let me know what you think! :D