Author's Note: Well, I must admit that I've gotten attached to these two, so I was excited to see that FFN had a Nashville category for stories. I don't know how good this is because it's my first attempt at writing for them, but I hope that it's good. After last week's episode, I couldn't help but wonder about the conversation Rayna would have with Deacon as she had to let him go from being her guitarist. I guess you could say this is my interpretation of that scene because I don't know that we'll actually get one. It may be a little OOC, but I tried to make their reactions as close to the characters we've seen thus far on the show.
I hope that you enjoy, and please, if you get a chance I would like to know what you think. Thanks for reading!
"You sure you're makin' the right choice here, Ray?"
Rayna closed her eyes, praying that he didn't see it. The fear. The sadness. The regret about what she was asking him to do. "I'm sorry. I wish…I wish that there was another way to get through all this."
"There's always another way. You know that," Deacon replied. He sighed and leaned forward, pressing his elbows against his knees. Now was one of the few times he genuinely wished he had a beer. Not because he wanted to drink it—although if he was being honest, it was because of that, too—but because he needed something to hold onto. "Was this your idea or Teddy's?"
"There's not another way. If there was, you know I'd be taking it," Rayna replied, shaking her head. She blinked back tears and stared up at the night sky. It had been two days since Teddy's fundraiser at the country club and she'd practically been avoiding Deacon ever since. She knew what she had to do however, and so she forced herself to call him up, asking to meet at the park and break the news. They were sitting on the steps, just barely an inch of space between them, but after what she'd just told him it felt like so much more. "It was mine. I have to do what's best—"
"What's best?" he cried. He clenched his hands into fists, fighting the urge to shake her and kiss her at the same time. "Who is this best for, Ray? I've been your guitarist—no, I have been your friend for a heck of a long time now. How can you just let all that go?"
Rayna drew in a sharp breath, kicking a pebble down the path with her shoe. She focused on the tiny ink stain on her jacket, on the hang nail on her thumb, on anything but him. She bit her lip and felt a tear roll down her cheek. "I'm sorry. I…I wish that things were different. You deserve better than what I can give you right now. You do."
"I don't want "better", I want…" he trailed off with a sigh, shaking his head as the unsaid words dangled like a weight over them. It was silent for a few minutes with nothing but the sound of crickets filling the air. He knew he should've seen it coming . Whether it was Teddy or the girls or the tour, the little gig they'd arranged that had allowed them to stay close to one another was bound to end eventually, regardless of what caused it. "So what happens now?"
He was giving her a break and she knew it. Instead of making her feel better like she knew he wanted it to, she simply felt guiltier. "Life, I guess. I've gotta try and find another way to promote the record. And you've gotta find another gig. I'm sure Juliette Barnes would be thrilled about this if it wouldn't be for the mess she's got herself all riled up in right now."
Deacon watched as she wiped a tear away, wincing as he heard her laugh through the pain. "Juliette isn't what's important right now."
"But she is, isn't she? She bought you an expensive guitar expectin' that you'd wanna go on the road with her, but you turned her down, and for what?" Rayna cried, fighting the lump that was growing in her throat. She hated appearing vulnerable or sad and it made her even more upset that he was the one who had every right to be mad, and yet there she was the one crying. "For me. Which I don't deserve. I'm sorry I didn't let you go sooner. I know you and her have…connected," she continued, trying to hide the fact she cringed at the word. "I know it would've been a great show."
"Minus the "feral cats" singing, right?" Deacon asked, elbowing her in the side. He grinned and felt relieved when he saw a smile cross her face. He'd been screwing up a lot of things lately, but if he could still make her happy when she was sad it meant that something was right with the world. "I'm not gonna lie to you, she and I have kind of become friends. But no matter what happens between you and me, and regardless of whatever happens with her whole personal mess, I'm still not gonna do her tour."
"Why?" Rayna asked. She sniffled, wiping at her eyes with the back of her hand.
Deacon shrugged, drawing a slow breath in through his nose. "It just don't feel right to me."
"You deserve to be happy, Deacon. Even if that means touring with Juliette Barnes," she replied, spitting out Juliette's name like it tasted sour in her mouth.
He pretended to not hear the jealousy that tinged her voice, because acknowledging it wasn't what they needed. He reached over, lacing his fingers through hers. Though she resisted at first she eventually caved and he found himself grateful. "I am happy. I'm right here," he gave her hand a squeeze, realizing only afterward the potential implications. "And hey, it's not like we won't ever see each other."
"Please don't hate me," she said, and she felt guilty because she knew what she was asking.
"You know I could never do that, it's impossible," Deacon replied, wanting more than anything to take back the mistakes they both had made. If he was being honest, there was a part of him that was angry at the way things had turned out, but he knew it wasn't all her fault. Torn between wanting to make her feel better and wanting to get out of the situation as intact as possible, he gently have her hand a squeeze and pulled it to his lips, pressing a kiss silently against the back of her hand. It was quick, impulsive, and over as soon as it began, but the effect it had on her was obvious.
She rubbed her thumb in slow lines back and forth on his wrist, quivering as she tried to suppress the memory of the dream she'd had of them just days before. Being this close to him, smelling the cologne that seeped from his skin and feeling the way his fingertips, calloused from playing the guitar for so long, grazed against her skin, she was finding the urge to get even closer harder to resist. "I know I shouldn't, 'specially not after everything that's happened, but I still—."
"I know," he replied, nodding his head. The words didn't need to be said, because even if they weren't, they were still felt. He glanced over at her, afraid to break the bubble they'd carefully crafted. "Just so you know, Ray…I do, too."
"I know," Rayna replied.
"So…" Deacon trailed off, leaving it up to her to decide what happened next. Goodbyes had never been easy for them. Though this technically didn't count as one, it still felt like it.
She cleared her throat, shaking her head to clear the proverbial cobwebs. "I should probably be getting home. The girls've got a few things they need help with, and I've got a meeting early in the morning. Wanna walk?"
Rayna stood before he had a chance to process what was happening so he had no choice but to follow, trying his best to ignore the cool night air that greeted his palm where hers had been just moments before. The wind picked up and she tucked herself into his side as they walked to their cars at the edge of the lot. He didn't miss the way she checked over her shoulder, fearful that they'd be caught. Simply put, he found himself missing times when paparazzi wasn't quite as crazy and they could've met at a place more private but still secluded. "Cold?"
"Yeah, can't believe how chilly it is already," Rayna muttered, watching her boots move across the pavement. She laughed despite herself. They were not going to become the kind of friends who resorted only to talking about the weather, at least if she could help it.
Their steps were slow without being painfully so. Deacon felt himself grinning as she drew in a sharp breath when he pressed his fingers against her side, finding it funny how despite all the time and changes that had happened, they still had that effect on each other. The lamppost near their cars cast a shadow on them from the trees close by. Beside him Rayna didn't fight when he pulled her close, helping to shield her from the wind, and he dreaded the moment when he had to let go.