Author's Note: Written for i_am_girlfriday for Yuletide 2012.
"You gotta help other people, boy, you hear me? If you help other people, God will pour down His blessings onto your soul!"
Even now, all these years later, Landry could still hear his grandmother saying those words to a younger him. Charity - let those with fortune help those without, even if your own was negigible. Even if it was offering to buy the woman behind him at the airport coffee shop's mocha frappe-whatever - he had never been good with those fancy drinks that everyone seemed to like these days.
"I'll pay for hers too. Whatever she's getting," he told the barista behind the counter. "My treat." Actually being a success in something - in his case, music journalism - meant that these occurrences could be more frequent and a tinge more generous than paying for someone's hash browns at McDonald's. He wasn't quite to paying for two orders of filet mignon, but he was getting there, slowly but surely.
The woman behind him - mocha frappe-whatever lady, who looked strangely familiar for some reason - stared at him. "Landry?" she asked, her voice rising almost to a squeak. "Landry Clarke? Is that you?"
Her strangely familiar features consolidated into something distinctly familiar, a recognizable face. "Tyra?" Of all the people he expected to see at the airport, especially one over six hundred miles from Dillon, she was so far down there on the list that he couldn't help but be utterly surprised.
She sidled up to the counter and smiled at the clerk with a similar, more mature and nuanced smile to the one that Landry had learned to know so well as a lovestruck high schooler. "One White Russian Chai, please."
Once they had their coffees in hand, they made their way over to an empty table, pushing their way past other holiday travelers. "You really didn't have to do that for me, you know," Tyra said, sipping at her chai and smiling tentatively at Landry. "I'm capable of buying my own lattes."
"I know you are," Landry said, stirring his coffee idly with the stirrer - it was black, just the way he'd always drank it. "But I wanted to do something nice for someone, and you were the lucky recipient. And I didn't realize it was you until around the time you realized it was me."
"Bless your heart," Tyra said, before covering her mouth with a napkin, "now I sound like my grandma talkin' to me about my 'problem with boys.'"
Landry could only laugh, or else he would cry, and he didn't want to cry. Not in front of Tyra, and not really ever. "I guess we can both say that today. Do you still -?"
"No, I - I dated a guy when I was at UT, but it ended badly. And now I live in Boulder, and I'm a news anchor for the independent TV station there. No guys in my life. What about you? How has your life been? Obviously you got out of Dillon too, like I did."
"Have you heard of Fractured Anthemic?" He didn't dare get his hopes up again with her, despite the fact that she was clearly single.
"Are they that one band from Austin? The ones that are really big right now."
"Yeah, I've reported on them for music magazines, since before they hit it big with that new song of theirs. That's what I do. Freelance music magazine writing. Still like music, just like writing about it more now."
"Does it pay good?"
"Good enough for me."
"Got any girls down there in Austin?"
"Nah, just me and my guitar."
"Sounds like the beginning to an old country song. Well, maybe if you swapped the guitar for a banjo."
"I've never been able to get into playing the banjo like that."
Tyra laughed. "You're still the same old Landry." She leaned into him, placing her hand on his, and smiled at him. "It's great to see that you're still a good guy, helping people pay for their Dazbog and everything. Good to know that Dillon can exist in the real world."
"I always thought it was too idealistic to exist."
"Yeah, but obviously that's not entirely the case -" she said, running her hand through the back of her hair. "- because you're here, and it's good to see you again, it really is." She looks over at the flight display monitors. "But - oh, Lord, I hate to do this, but it looks like my plane to Nashville is about to board - and I doubt you're headed to Nashville -"
"No, I'm going to Portland. There's a music festival right after Christmas that I need to cover in case one of those bands happens to be the new Fractured Anthemic."
She scrawled down a note on a napkin, and pressed it into his hands. "For when you get done being all reporter on us," she said as she stood up, taking his chin in the palm of her hand and kissing the side of his cheek. His skin flushed red beneath her lips, but she did not even appear to notice. "Bye, Landry, take care of yourself."
"You too," he said, watching forlornly as she walked away. If only his festival was in Nashville. If only they were going to be on the same flight, then they could keep talking - and then he looked down at her note that she had left him.
In faded scratches of blue ink, she'd written: "720-555-3635, call me. , Tyra "
And he couldn't help but smile and carefully tuck her napkin inside the top of his carry-on. He couldn't lose that number.
Maybe he had a chance, after all. If not romantic, at least they could be friends again? Maybe. Stranger things had happened because of chance encounters with ex-high school girlfriends in airports - he wasn't positive of that, but he was pretty certain, at the very least. It was good to see her again, at the very least. Of all the people from Dillon, besides Matt, and by extension Julie, and he kept in touch with both of them, Tyra was the one that most frequently crossed his mind.
He'd call her. There was no doubt about that in his mind. He'd call her - when he was done in Portland.
Maybe they could meet again in the airport, and next time, they'd be headed in the same direction.