volcanoes melt you down
PG13. jeremy darling/lisa george. ~3.8k.

somewhat AU, but definitely diverges somewhere during the series finale.

Little does she know she's just like Nick, another moon orbiting planet Darling, and beginning to build her new life around them.


.

and what i am to you is not real
what i am to you, you do not need
what i am to you is not what you mean to me
you give me miles and miles of mountains
and i'll ask for the sea…

It starts with a kiss… well, sort of.

The reality is that she's not exactly where it starts, whether it was signing for the gallery, the debacle on Nick's birthday, or if it even began when he went to work for the Darlings initially. For all she knows it could have even been before that, his ambivalence about Karen Darling a lingering poisonous taint leading to a creeping downward slope of her marriage, until it finally met its decline and eventual failure.

Things fall apart, she says out loud to anyone, no one, in the empty space of her eponymous gallery while pouring over the divorce paperwork on her desk and a glass of Chablis she would have in her past life never been able to afford.

Reflection on it all makes her feel slightly hollow inside, like she should have seen the telltale signs ahead of time of things crumbling into ruination, somehow should have fortified her defenses and prepared for this inevitable outcome of picking up the wreckage of her life alone one day.

She really doesn't want to be alone.

It may well be just desserts for her lack of conviction, lack of faith the beginning of her own betrayal that leads to Nick ultimately leaving. She wasn't lying when she confessed to him she wanted something bad to happen, she just didn't know a Darling would be the catalyst for her own defection just as well.

She calls Jeremy because honestly, other than Kiki, she doesn't know who else she has these days.

.


Jeremy is- fun, soft, warm, and comfortable, familiar in ways that are dangerous, very incredibly unsafe and yet strangely inviting.

He charms her in the strangest ways, makes her feel giddy when he offers to put her up in one of the hotels, any hotel she likes. She teeters at that moment of indecision when after an appropriate amount of small talk and an inappropriate amount of weed he stares at her with very much a look she recognizes as the same wanting again, pale eyes showing his pupils totally blown and the telltale signs of attraction as he licks his lips absently. She ducks and curls into his side, surprisingly more comfortable than she would have thought, and he surprises her by wrapping a protective arm around her and leaving it at that.

They stay at the gallery and nothing ends up happening that night.

The both of them should are all too knowing everything has already gone to hell in a hand-basket, no matter how many times she looks at Nick or he looks at Nola and wishes otherwise, so they talk and get rather existential over art and order Vietnamese food for delivery. She briefly falls asleep, feeling comfy and content for the first time in a long time before waking up to him kissing her temple and whispering goodnight, exiting the gallery uncharacteristically quietly.

Looking back she sometimes wishes that night would have been the definitive beginning of the end she could track and trace, put a finger on, but she has enough regret for one lifetime and hardly needs to pile on more.

Jeremy flitters in and out of her life as expected, and Lisa doesn't really notice between the divorce, parenting Kiki alone and actually being the one to run the gallery. Neither his nor Nick's fickle absence bothers her nearly as much as she would have initially expected after taking to heart accusations far more than she should have.

She clings to the wan hope that things are somehow alright at night when she tucks Kiki in alone, although she's not even sure remotely where or what that could be anymore, and every night stares in the mirror looking back at a more and more unfamiliar woman's reflection each day.

.


Courtesy of one very devious Mr. Elder there is a rather orchestrated fight in the Darling homestead she is sadly a willing party in. It's at that very moment Lisa finally realizes it's truly over, everything last bit and vestige she held onto in faith before viewing that tape was for naught and Nick is completely and fully gone to not just that string-bean bitch Karen, but the Darlings as a whole have finally swallowed him completely.

Well… like father, like son.

Still spite makes her try to knock Karen down a few pegs, throw a glass of champagne worth more than her shoes in Karen's face. She hardly notices Jeremy is the one pulling her off of what she assumes is not the shiny new couple, since Nick seems to still not have the balls to up and decide to tell Karen how he really feels and is making eyes at an unfamiliar blonde in the corner of the room instead.

She's far too busy seeing red and sending up a silent prayer if there is a God that he will take these people down, failing to see or appreciate Jeremy standing up for her, against his own sister, in her husband's absence.

After cooling off down the street, she ends up asking him for a ride to the gallery, the only home she knows now, because she's not sure what else to do and he's the first person she would have called anyway these strange days.

.


"Are you really going to sleep here tonight?"

Lisa snaps her head up, and looks at Jeremy. Her head feels dizzy from champagne and the rush of adrenaline of her showdown with Karen and Jeremy leading her, speeding down New York streets faster than she ever has before. His shoulder is strong and warm against hers as she slouches towards him on the austere gallery couch, their bodies practically connected at every point. She's purposefully not giving him the room to back away from her this time, but he doesn't seem to mind all the same, just smiles lopsided before leaning back and staring at the ceiling of the gallery they created.

"Beats explaining to my mother my marriage is over."

He shakes his head minutely, but says nothing in reply.

"Hey," Lisa nudges his shoulder affectionately to get his attention and he finally meets her gaze. "Thanks for sticking up for me."

"You think I was just going to stand there and let Karen wail on you?"

"Nick did," she replies and finally inhales, butterflies in her stomach for what she has already had the indecency to imagine before playing out, feeling infinitely more human and complicated than she ever has been. Smiling softly at him, she entwines her fingers with his and let's go, tells him close to the same out loud, and in that very moment pretends he's her touchstone, someone to fill the voids of Nick receding from her life.

"This isn't about forever Jeremy, this is just about tonight," she lies through her teeth because everybody lies, and she expects no one knows lies better than a Darling, even if Jeremy is so precious and sweet in his occasional naiveté as she gauges his reaction, one hand reaching up to finally map the side of his face, take in all the stimuli she's wanted since the first time he kissed her on a different couch in something that feels like a lifetime ago.

Remembering makes her feel weary in a bone-deep way, so instead she exhales shakily, moves closer. The cards she just laid on the table are monumentally wrong in so many different flavors she will end up regretting, bittersweet on her tongue she will remember them later, but currently she just wants something now, has the gall to demand it even.

She is so very alone now to pursue her dreams and she just wants someone to lift her up, high and reverent, so unlike how she's been treated as of late.

Jeremy's eyes widen as he takes in her last statement but then he smiles a touch conspiratorially with her and leans into her hand, nature takes over and things become infinitely more simple that moment when he complies, first with his hands, then with his mouth. And by the end of it, when she collapses sticky and boneless onto the couch, her body still bracketed by his pale arms while he lazily presses kisses to her hipbone, she thinks she might actually feel adored, the thawing of her heart for the first time after a long winter.

(Afterwards, when he's finally asleep, his dense lashes dark smudges on his rosy cheeks, mouth resting dangerously close to her collarbone, she cards her fingers through his messy hair and wants to blame him, blame his family for this ridiculous situation, blame his family for ruining her marriage and the only life she's ever known and leaving her ultimately alone to fix things.

Because she knows he will leave her too despite this in a way just proving the inextricable bond forged between them isn't letting go any time soon. And it's much more her fault than his now, this fait accompli she's invited ever since signing the papers to the gallery, or maybe it was when she kissed him back, knowing full and well what would happen on both counts.

But the weight of his whole family's transgressions isn't a burden he should bear alone. After all, he's only one seventh of the problem.)

.


There is no talk about what happened between them that night, even if she rehearses one in her head, because that's what sensible people do after all, though she'd hardly be apt to call Jeremy sensible. Sensible people move on and forget fanciful one-night whims for their real lives instead of reenacting their transgressions in their heads, so she tries not to regress and do the same too.

She does, however, bring in a painting of the universe to the gallery to placate her own guilt, finds herself stock still in front of it at the oddest times, staring at it more than she would like to admit and smelling nonexistent Thai food, sex and smoke clinging in the air.

Little does she know she's just like Nick, another moon orbiting planet Darling, and beginning to build her new life around them.

.


The next time she sees him is the rather bizarre and unexpected Elder/Darling wedding she demanded an invite to, after all: wasn't the whole point of this giant circus her life has become for Nick to get the other girl?

Her initial smugness over the irony of it all wears thin when the wedding gets called off and turns into an absolute disaster she wishes she would have avoided entirely. By the end of it she's feeling seven different types of terrible for her own behavior after finally confronting Nick afterwards, self-righteous anger having long since petered out and left a gnawing void in its wake.

She lost him, a man she thought she knew so well up until recently to this same family she completely and utterly loathes and yet, still finds her life inextricably tangled with.

And Jeremy stares not at her, but at his precious Nola Lyons most of the night, half-expectantly and half-dazed through most of the rabble, holding Lisa's hand relatively inconspicuously in his lap, uncharacteristically solemn, but there's a tightness in his smile when he talks to her and his platinum ring bites into the side of her fingers on more than one occasion she doesn't mention.

He goes missing most of the night and says nothing about it, leaving her like carrion for the rest of the Darling vultures to potentially pick clean, easy prey for Nick's enmity, and she knows this new development for either of them cannot be good.

.


The first time he tells her he wants her is that night afterwards, and she just shakes her head and sighs, a carefully placed hand on his shoulder, eyes focused on the painting of the cosmos behind him instead of meeting his gaze.

She knows he's being sincere but the reality of the situation is that things have gone down the rabbit hole crazy in the last few weeks and Jeremy Darling is a twenty five year old kid who's attention often wanes and is probably still in love with another woman, she's a fresh divorcée with a ten year old daughter to raise and a gallery to run. This is a combination that is not going to last in any possible scenario she can play out in her head, and he is being – she could easily list off a handful of different descriptive words the tabloids have probably already used but exasperating definitely currently comes to mind.

There are many things she adores about Jeremy Darling she has nurtured into a cute little crush, but one of them she doesn't is the fact money has left its own taint on him, that irritating incorrigibility people get who aren't used to being denied things in life, including right now, one hand inching up the hem of her shirt she doesn't even bother batting away because it will return again higher up the next time.

"Leeeees," he drawls, eyes ringed red, her name a mantra on his lips and it would be so easy to give in, lean forward and brush them but now is not the time to stretch these indiscretions. He rests his forehead against hers. "Lisa, please. Let me."

His name is the only thing she manages to say, a broken plea and an admonishment entwined as he gives her his best practiced kicked puppy look, but the hand slipped under her shirt doesn't move and she doesn't pull away.

Kissing him is not an admission of her own, it's just monumentally easier than trying to sort out the mess that things have become in the train wreck of her life. And when he kisses her back, slow and practiced and so unlike how she's been kissed the last eleven years, the only thing running through her mind is that it was pretty hypocritical of her to accuse Nick of not being able to say no to the Darlings when she seems to have a problem of her own when it comes to one in particular as well.

She gasps a lot of things later that night, says nonononono over and over in her head until he smiles at her, perfect white teeth he sets into her neck not so much later, and it sounds a lot more like oh yes, fuck yes in her own voice out loud.

.


And then he's gone again. Amnesia apparently goes by the name of Nola Lyons and she sees even less of him as life progresses on.

She buys out his shares of the gallery once she has the money, but it feels like too much like a pyrrhic victory for her liking. Bittersweet lingers having lost everything, now including him, just to finally stand on her own two feet alone and Nick's words about doing something on her own for herself rattle around and echo in her mind as she walks around her fresh new loft, empty wineglass in hand staring through the floor-to-ceiling windows at the night sky.

She decides that's exactly what she's going to do then, something for herself, Nick and the Darlings be damned.

.


Fast forward a couple months and the book is announced and Lisa has what she thinks will be her final showdown with Nick in front of millions, but he's unruffled and it's not quite the end she was hoping for when she thought about it in her head. She's been strong these last few months, trying to do right by herself, her daughter, in the only ways she knows she can, but she knew this wasn't going to stay under the radar for long. Nothing involving the precious Darlings ever does, and what the Darling's know, their family lawyer does as well.

She kisses Nick in one last final attempt or maybe act of desperation and Karen falls down the stairs shortly thereafter, always unwilling to be upstaged by any second-class citizen, even (and perhaps especially) if it's her boyfriend's ex-wife.

Lisa quickly flees the scene like it's a crime that's been committed, still unable to finally swallow down watching the bitter dregs of his betrayal, just how easily her ex-husband has moved on, opting instead for a drink at the closest bar in walking distance. She finds the first open seat at the bar and flags the bartender to bring her the best bottle of whiskey they have so she might retain some modicum of class if this ever gets out to the press (which it very well may at this rate).

At any rate, it isn't like her and Jeremy are a thing like him and Karen, two times of indiscretion a thing does not make, so why is she the bad guy?

She's so distracted by the thoughts running though her head she fails to see him enter the bar after shot four (or maybe five), and speak of the devil, Jeremy's swagger is still intact as he takes off his hat and sits down next to her.

She's not sure what to say, hasn't spoken to him in ages, just the tinny voice of an accountant the day she bought out his partnership for the gallery and he's yet to return the singular phone call she made. She hopes he doesn't bring up the book, her betrayal to him and this fragile truce they are living in where her new little life spins madly out of orbit until he shows up and grounds things if only for a moment (and when the hell exactly did that happen?), doesn't want him to bring up the same old wounds currently ripped open fresh, angry and raw.

"What happened to your prosecutor?" She eyes suspiciously, his noncommittal shrug all the answer she needs. She hesitates, unsure what to do, so she pours herself another shot, completely unphased when it's intercepted by his hand instead.

"May I?" He asks unnecessarily before knocking back the shot in one fluid motion, messy bangs falling out of the way to reveal bloodshot eyes and baring his neck fully for her gaze, creamy pale skin she still remembers the taste of.

"You may."

Her cordial reply is after the fact, but voiced anyway, as she looks away so as not to get caught with her hand in the proverbial cookie jar staring at him like someone with a silly schoolgirl crush. "You know, I never got around to thanking you…" she's staring straight ahead as she trails off, misses the eyebrow he raises (but knows all the same he did), before feeling him crowd into her space, feels his body heat radiating against her before whispering huskily.

"And for exactly what, Lees?"

His endearment is noted, even if the tone is dangerous and she spans out her hands, an open gesture, an apology and invitation in a universal sign he will easily recognize as a white flag on her part.

"Everything."

"No problemo," he replies both terse and nonchalant as he leans back and pours another shot of whiskey, surprising her when he nudges it her direction instead, before flagging the bartender for another glass.

"Jeremy, I also want to tell you I'm sorry about the book. Not for writing it, but for the impact it's going to make on your-" she begins, but he just looks at her puzzled, halfway through pouring a shot and whiskey is beginning to seep over the edges and onto the bar.

"You don't know about it. Oh. I thought that's why…" she trails off, before looking away, not sure what to say now.

"Nah, just had some stuff going on. Crazy conspiracy stuff, but it was extra grande double shot depresso I won't bore you with."

"Sorry about... Nola, and you, and Nola again and…" he adds, having the decency to look sheepish, and she shakes her head because he shouldn't be. The kid should be able to find his own slice of happiness where he can because it's never going to come from her and life is already tragic and fucked up for everyone involved, so she just offers him a wistful smile in return. "It wasn't part of the plan."

"Most things that happen in life aren't, but at least you are learning." She knocks her shoulder against his and they sit in comfortable silence for a moment.

"To learning then," he toasts and they drink some more.

Later after one too many shots, they make plans to go see the Louvre (one day, anyway) and she has to convince him, no, they should not go to Vegas right now and create a scandal because what happens in Vegas will be splashed on every tabloid page the next day if you're a Darling.

And when he wraps an arm around her shoulders and tells her how maximum the "anonymous" painting he received while he was faking amnesia is, it feels a little bit like absolution and the righting of her life to the new normal.

.


They stumble out of the bar, and Jeremy fumbles with his cellphone to call Clark to pick them up, half teasing he's going to take them to his father's jet at the airport.

"Hey Lisa, did you at least write about how I seduced you and how great I am in bed?"

"Noooooo, I did not," she tries to answer levelly, but she knows her game face is cracking with a smile at the edges.

"Bummer, that would have definitely helped sell like a bazillion copies."

"Jeremy!"

She gives him a scandalized look before smacking him on the shoulder with her clutch, and for a moment things feel perfectly sane and right in the world, as he shrugs and gives her a cheshire grin before ducking in to kiss her quickly, leading to her smacking him again, but she's smiling just as widely as he is and it's as if everything has finally come full circle from the beginning.

"You really need to stop doing that."

"Make me."

It's a challenge and a promise she accepts graciously, and this time when she leans in to kiss him and ends up flat against a building wall, she doesn't care if all of goddam New York sees them together.

.

well i kissed your mouth, and back
but that's all i need
don't build your world around,
volcanoes melt you down

~fin

.


A/N: so i'm pretty sure this is the longest dirty sexy money fic on the webbertrons c: and definitely the longest jeremy/lisa one to my knowledge. i feel a bit indulgent writing out a lot of my head!canon (angsty!lisa is so angsty at times and yet so occasionally cruel in her single-mindedness of her divorce!) in so many spades, but i hope they've stayed in character.

i feel like there was a lot to the jeremy/lisa storyline that was never wrapped up and the throwaway line about her buying out his part of the gallery and most of the final episode just galled me to watch as the end of things. i think if nola shot him down a freshly scorned lisa would have been the first person jeremy went to from everything the previous, oh you know 11 episodes built up, not some new nurse chick, but that's just me being more reasonable than the writers i suppose.