in-betweens

author: betweenthethreads

summary: /"What the hell is this, Desai?" she screams, and her eyes are blazing and her hair is wild and he doesn't think he has ever seen anything so beautiful.

rating: T

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nothing feels quite right without you next to me

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Danny

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He sees her coming the second she bursts through a door at the right end of their school's corridor. He would like to say that he notices this because of his attention to small detail, but if he was being truthful, he would admit that it is because he sometimes (always) keeps an eye out for her.

She looks a little bit flustered today. He has half a mind to ask her why, but the other half is full of common sense, sense that tells him this would be a bad idea. Instead, he smirks at her with that smirk that he knows tends to infuriate her - an angry Lacey is always better than an emotionless one. She is very angry today.

He slowly lets his eyes travel down her body, and he is sure that she can tell by the way that she quickly purses her lips, although the motion is gone in an instant. This all makes him want to smirk again, but right now he does not have a death wish. What he sees as his eyes roam, however, makes him want to actually smile.

Ever since he has come back to their glorious little town, he has noticed how different everybody seems to be. Even Jo has changed - gone the bright personality and the knack for friend making, replaced with a social outcast that secretly wants to fit in. He is grateful that she has accepted him back so easily, but he still sometimes gets the urge to grab her by her shoulders and shake her until she is back to the Old Jo.

Lacey is perhaps the most different, though. The girl that he remembers at eleven years old is shy, with a pouffy afro and many old pairs of overalls. This new girl (woman), this alter ego, is forever perfect. She is caring and smart, beautiful and fashionable, popular and dating The Jock. She is always so put together, and he sometimes wonders if she ever finds the time to just sit back and think anymore.

He would like to tell himself that people are going to change no matter what, but he knows that this is all his fault.

She actually looks alive today, however, and he can see the raw human emotion finally shining through on her face. It gives him a small shred of hope, that perhaps one day they can be friends again (or something more), although perhaps that is asking too much.

She is wearing a black dress, and he wonders belatedly if it is custom made. The neckline reaches high up to the defined shape of her collarbone, the middle cinched close to fit her tiny waist. The garment is loose from there on, flowing down smoothly to the middle of her thigh, the fabric sashaying around her legs as she moves. He is captivated for a moment - by these slender black-tight clad limbs. It takes him a couple of seconds to move his eyes back up to her face. He is not disappointed.

She is a couple of feet from him now, waving around a few sheets of paper - his newly written script? - like they had personally wronged her. In fact, if he looks close enough, he can see the way that her knuckles are beginning to turn white from the stress of her tight grip.

"What the hell is this, Desai?" she screams, and her eyes are blazing and her hair is wild and he doesn't think he has ever seen anything so beautiful.

"The script." he says, and his voice is deep and measured as he cautiously asses her face, "I wrote it."

At this she throws her hands down to her side in exasperation, "Of course you wrote it!" she says, and her voice is high and she is not at all fitting the image of 'Lacey Porter'. He wonders if she knows that other people are watching. "But... why?" and suddenly she sounds a little bit desperate, and he can feel small shreds of guilt beginning to swirl around in the bottom of his gut. He tries to coach himself inwardly, reciting his master plan to win her back over and over in his head. He knows that switching to the old script is not one of those steps.

On the last couple words she had lowered her voice to a whisper, and her big brown eyes are staring at him like she is some kind of wounded lamb. He knows that she is hardly innocent, though, and he thinks for a moment about how often she uses this look to her advantage. Given by the many people that have stopped talking - in a pathetic attempt to listen in - he would have to guess relatively often.

He breaks her sullen gaze and turns away slightly, running a hand through his hair in an attempt to clear his head. "I don't know, Lace." the old nickname flows off his tongue easily, "I guess I just..." at this he actually takes a moment to look around. Perhaps he would like Lacey all to himself, but he is a sinking boat of social suicide, and he cares about her too much to take her down with him. Quickly, he tugs her to the left without anybody noticing, off into an almost empty hallway on the far side of the school.

He slowly lets go of her wrist after a couple of moments, although the proximity between them has not changed. He locks his eyes with hers once more, except this time he is the one in control, "I just miss you." and he is staring at her intensely, trying to communicate what his words can't.

She maintains this eye contact for thirty seconds more, before she nervously bites her lip and looks anywhere but him. "You didn't have to be so obvious about it, though." she mumbles under her breath, and he has to hold back a chuckle that almost surfaces.

He would like to call this a moment, but he knows that he may just be imagining things. Instead, Danny focuses on the way her hair creates a soft curtain across her face as she checks her phone. Suddenly, she is moving again. Avoiding him, "I've got to go. You too. We can't be late." and she is gone before he can call after her to wait up, all fire and beauty and stubbornness.

He wonders if that was a blush he saw dusting her cheeks.

With a smile slipping onto his lips, he thinks to himself that maybe he has a chance after all.

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do you ever miss me as much as I miss you?

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Lacey

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She knows that she should be paying attention.

Perhaps it hadn't originally been her idea to sign up for this stupid skit, but she is not one to bail out on a project once she has taken it on. Her mother had always told her to finish something once she started it - she is very aware of things like duty and responsibility. Things that have been ingrained in her head since she was only a small child.

She certainly doesn't need to be told just how important this entire thing is to Phoebe. She attempts to repeat this to herself as she cautiously watches the other members of the cast - or rather the two misfits that had crashed in to their rehearsal yesterday. She tries and she tries to clear her head, but she feels as though she is stuck in a cloud of mist that keeps swirling around her person. She is not quite sure why, but the only thing that she can really make out through the blank whiteness is Danny, who has been staring back with that gaze that he only seems to share with her.

"Why did you have to do it?" she asks, and she thinks that maybe her voice might brake for a second there, but she manages to hold it in. She wonders if anybody else is picking up on this subtext, if anybody else can see the way that her heart is jumping out of her skin. She's read the script before but she still wonders what he will say.

"I don't know." he says, and at that moment she really just wants to walk up to him and shake him, but she knows that this is not part of the lines. Instead, she turns towards the audience and takes a step back.

She thinks for a moment about how odd they must all look up there together - Lacey, the golden girl, Danny, the murderer, and Jo, the social outcast. It almost seems laughable, this odd combination of people that have absolutely nothing in common with each other. We used to, though, she ponders this thought for a second in her head, about all the things that have happened and changed them.

It occurs to her that perhaps Danny had orchestrated this all on purpose - having the three of them up on the stage together. Danny, who is almost terrifyingly smart and extremely handsome. Danny who has picked her up off her feet when she wasn't sure what it meant to stand anymore.

Stop it. she tells herself, and she tries to find her boyfriend in the audience. He smirks at her, giving her a small thumbs-up motion that her brain can't even seem to process. She turns away.

The speech continues on in a blur, the words somehow sounding like nothing and everything all at once, until the end comes to a screeching halt and she can feel a headache coming on. In a daze, she sees the video begin to play and a distressed Jo running out of the room. She sees it all, she recognizes what's happening, but for some reason she can't react.

It isn't until she feels a hand on her shoulder that she finally snaps out of it, her attention being drawn up to two soulful eyes. It's at this moment that she thinks with all finality that Danny is no sociopath.

Anybody can fake emotion, she thinks to herself, but nobody can fake the eyes. These eyes, which are pleading with her and mad at her and whispering sweet nothings to her all at once. There is far too much going on in them to all be an act.

"Danny." she whispers, because somehow that is the only thing she can do right now.

"Lacey." he says back, and if it wasn't for the way that his lips were moving, she wouldn't think he had said anything at all. He is staring at her mouth very intently now, and she wonders what is going through his mind. He has suddenly moved so close to her that she can feel his breath on her face and he is touching her side and when did that even happen?

She can't help the way that her gaze flits from his lips to his eyes, and even though it is only for a second, she thinks that he can see it. He is almost smiling now - this sort of off smile that is so heartbreakingly hopeful.

She wonders what it would be like for a moment, just a moment, to be with him. Really with him. To join Jo and Danny and that really smart kid named Rico at their booth (her old booth) in the diner. To hang out with him in his room every night and talk to him and whisper to him and let him kiss her into sweet oblivion- it is at this thought that she stops herself.

There is too much noise to focus anymore, anyways, and chaos has begun to break out in the auditorium. She almost wants to talk to him about this, to ask him what he wants from her and what really is going on between them, but she knows that this is not the time or place for that. Instead, she pulls away from his grip, moving so quickly that he will have no chance of holding her back. She is not sure if she can pull away twice.

She can't help the way that she looks around in fright, because these days she is only concerned with popularity and God forbid if anybody saw her with him.

Out of the corner of her eye she can see the way that his face falls, and it almost sort of pulls at her heartstrings. She is a bad person, she knows, but there is no such thing as kind words and forgiveness here.

"Baby," Archie says later, pulling her close to his body, "why were you talking to Socio earlier?" he asks, and she shivers slightly as he runs a hand up and down her side, "Was he harassing you?" his voice almost sounds a little primal at this, and it makes her smile because she really like this protective side of him. When it isn't all about popularity and who's watching, instead about her and how she feels and what's going on in her life.

She pauses for a couple of seconds before answering him, "I don't know." she replies, because she really isn't too sure of anything about Danny Desai anymore.

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there is no such thing as happy endings, only in-betweens

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fin.

a/n: Okay, so can we all just take a moment to appreciate the SECOND almost Dacey kiss? I thought maybe they were just playing with us the first time, or that it wasn't exactly... intentional, I guess, but this second time actually validates this possibility. Plus, those hints ("You're in to her, aren't you?") are just way too clear - and why would that be written into the script if it meant nothing? Or at least that is what I'm telling myself. Thank God for this episode... I needed some new material. Last episode sucked.

However, I really hope you liked this fic. Unfortunately, there was not too much of a happy ending here. I tried to leave it open to possibility though - you know that Danny will try again and Lacey is not immune to those beautiful eyes. Anyways, please review, tell me what you think, etc, etc. I would really appreciate hearing the feedback.

On another note, who do you think is the killer? This is random, but I have a feeling it could possibly be Sarita. Just because of the little bit of focus on her - I doubt anyone they have highlighted in the first 3 episodes is going to be the one who actually did it. Just my thoughts though - tell me your own!

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