Around in Circles

Characters: Tim, Coach, Tami, Julie ...and Baby Gracie
Set during: 2.09 The Confession
Disclaimer: Based on characters and situations created/owned by NBC Universal, Peter Berg, Jason Katims, Brian Grazer, etc. No harm intended.

Setting: (quick refresher): Tim and Jason took off to Mexico to find a cure for his paralysis. Of course, that didn't happen. While in Mexico, Tim missed some practices and a game or two…so he got kicked off the team. He also left home because he found out Billy was sleeping with neighbor Jackie (whom Tim had been with first) and Tim was upset by Billy's lack of sensitivity. First he went to stay with Tyra, then Mindy hooked him up with someone she knew from the Landing Strip… which turned out to be a HUGE mistake. Anyway…Eric found him sleeping in their driveway, so now he's staying at their house, along with new baby Gracie and Tami's sister Shelley. Phew! So now you're all caught up!

A/N: :-) I hope you enjoy this too. First published on 12/9/07.

Tim couldn't believe he was back on the team. Thank god. And he was staying at Coach's house. He breathed a sigh of relief. He'd finally be able to sleep easily. Coach had given him a sleeping bag. Tim didn't know if he'd be sleeping in the house, the garage or out on the back porch and he didn't give a shit. He was so thankful to Coach, and Mrs. T. He'd barely managed to escape that viper pit without getting bit. He exhaled heavily. There'd been some close calls. Too close.

He really wanted to just go back home. His throat ached when he started thinking about it. It wasn't much, but it was the only home he'd ever had. He swallowed past the lump that formed in his throat. He wouldn't go back. He couldn't.

This sucked. This totally sucked, being homeless. Why the hell did Billy have to be such a dick?

Tami leaned up against the counter. "Oh, well OK, sure honey." She said and crossed her arms fully over her chest. "Are you kidding me right now, Eric?" she said with a bite to her tone.

"Tami, now I know this isn't ideal, but…"

"Ideal? Are you crazy? Think about what you are saying right now. Think, Eric."

Eric raised his voice as they squared off toe to toe. She sure was quick to anger these days. He had to head this off fast.

"You wanna know what I think? I'll tell ya what I think. I think we'd be helping him out. Hell, Tami, he's been sleeping in his truck. That ain't right," he paused. It had the desired effect. Tami had backed off and calmed down and it looked like she was actually listening to him.

"Now it's only temporary, all right? And I'll talk to him, get him straightened out." He said confidently, surely. "It's going to be all right."

Tami cocked her head at him and regarded him carefully. "Well I sure hope you can help him honey, because if you can't..." she paused. He looked up and their eyes locked.

"I don't know who can."

Julie's jaw dropped. "What? Mom, are you insane? Tim Riggins? Here? Where's he gonna sleep, like, on the couch? Come on, Mom. This is so uncool. I would rather die than have Tim Riggins as our… our houseguest!"

Tami regarded her daughter with keen disbelief. "Listen to yourself, Julie! That's not the girl I raised."

Julie continued, looking as horrified as ever. "Well come on Mom, Aunt Shelley's in the guest room, so unless you're going to pitch a tent for him in the backyard, Tim Riggins is going to be sleeping right out there. On our couch!" Julie's lower lip stuck out.

"Yes, that's right. Tim Riggins is going to be sleeping right out there, on our couch. And you are going to treat him with the same respect you'd treat any guest that comes into this house. With courtesy and grace, you hear me?" she shouted, "Courtesy and grace!" Tami lowered her voice once she realized she was yelling at her oldest daughter.

"I mean it, Jules," she said sharply.

With that, Tami stormed out leaving Julie standing alone in her room, jaw slack and staring dumbfounded after her.

The front door opened and Tim turned to see Julie at the door.

"Tim, my mom says that you should come inside." Tim put his phone in his pocket and wondered if Julie Taylor was always this surly and sullen looking. He turned to follow her into the house, to the kitchen.

Tami thrust a messy baby at him. "Here Tim, hold Baby Gracie for me while I get her a fresh bottle," she said as she walked to the refrigerator.

Tim held the baby like a foreign object, arms straight out in front of him.

What had he gotten himself into? Tim and Baby Grace stared at each other.

Then a slow smile lit up and spread across his face. The baby was smiling at him. She made a high-pitched gurgling noise.

She was way cuter than those ferrets.

Julie laughed out loud at the expression on his face.

Tim glanced sheepishly her way. He caught her gaze and held it.

She giggled first, and then let it turn back into laughter. And she laughed. Then his hearty laughter joined hers. Julie laughed even harder after Tim joined in. It kept up until tears streamed out of her eyes.

Tim grinned, licked his lips and looked back at the baby, who was also laughing. He held her up and carefully tucked her into his chest, just like he would a football.

"Ahhhh!"" squealed Gracie.

Tim looked up to see Coach watching him from across the room. Tim straightened up, stopped laughing, and instead looked seriously down at the infant in his arms.

"Hellooo Gracie," he smiled, and Gracie squealed again. "I'm Tim."

Julie smiled. Tim caught her smile before she could hide it behind her hand.

Tim stared at his phone. He quickly found her number and hit send before he could change his mind.

"Yeah, Tim, what?" she answered, somewhat sharply.

"Tyra, hey. How're you doin'?" he asked carefully.

He heard her sigh on the other end. "I'm doing okay. Yeah," she paused, and then repeated herself. "I'm okay." The second time, she sounded like she believed it.

"That's good."

"Tim, what do you want?" Why did she sound annoyed, he wondered?

"I just wanted to talk to a... friend. I'm… uh…I'm back on the team…" he started.

"I know. It was in the morning announcements at school, Tim. The whole damn school knows you're back on the team. Whoop-dee-doo."

"Yeah. Well, that friend of Mindy's, that ferret guy? Staying there really sucked. And I just wanted to say how much I appreciate you letting me stay with you for a few days. I really mean it, Tyra. And it was kinda nice being around you again. I… I liked it." He admitted as he sat down on the front steps to the Taylor's house, and rubbed his forehead.

Tyra was silent on the other line. Finally, she responded. "Tim. Whatever."

Tim was confused. Why was she making this so hard? He tried again. "Tyra I mean it. I know I haven't always treated you the way I should, and I…"

She cut him off. "Tim, as much as I would love to sit here and listen to you grovel, I've got other things to do, alright? Landry's here. We're about to watch a movie."

"Landry. Huh." He couldn't help it, she brought out the worst along with the best in him. "Well, sleep tight then."

She tsked on the other end. "Tim, I'll have you know that he's half the man you are."

He chuckled and grinned into the phone.

She cursed on the other end. "You know what I meant! Well, it doesn't matter anyway cuz he's here and you're there and that's the way it's gonna be." She said, and hung up the phone before he could say another word.

Tim bit his lip to keep from laughing out loud.

Well, okay then. She sure as hell had told him.

"Hey Riggins," called Coach from inside the house. "Get in here, son. You ready to learn how to change a dirty diaper?"