Freaks and Geeks | Lindsay/Daniel. a lesson in tightropes (pg-13)
Kim and Daniel break up. This time it sticks. They spend a week avoiding each other, and then they’re able to occupy the same space as long as they don’t make eye contact and don’t say anything to each other.
Lindsay never stops feeling on edge.
Neither of them is willing to talk to her about it. She asked Kim right after it happened and all she got was a snapped,"Mind your own business, Weir." So she sighed and let it go and decided, maybe, she didn’t want to know.
But now she’s at a party with Kim and the guys and Daniel is sipping on a beer, leaning up against a wall by a hallway, watching Kim flirt with some guy Lindsay thinks she recognizes from her science class. Daniel doesn’t look up upset or relieved or anything, but stoic, apathetic and maybe a little exhausted--if she’s judging from the dark rings around his eyes.
"Hey," she breathes, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
"Hey." Daniel glances at her, looks back at Kim, and then points down the hall. "You wanna?"
"Um," Lindsay pauses, worrying her lower lip between his teeth. "Sure," she finally says.
When they go into a bedroom she tries to turn on the light, Daniel just flips the switch back before flopping down on the bed. Lindsay watches him hesitantly. She’s trying to piece everything together, figure out who or what the ‘X’ is in the equation so she can solve for it. It could be Kim or Science Class Guy or herself or something else entirely.
The moonlight streams in through the blinds, making stripes on Daniel’s skin. He holds out his beer bottle for her to take, so she gently sits down next to him on the bed, delicately holding the bottle between her fingers before taking a sip. She’s already feeling a little warm from the drink she had earlier. Daniel leans his head back, knocking it against the bedframe and groaning. He closes his eyes. The silence stretches between them until the gap seems almost insurmountable.
Lindsay watches his jaw relax, his hand stills over his knees, his shoulders slouch and his breathing almost evens out. She’s never seen him like this and it makes her chest feel tight; it makes her feel scared. She can’t figure out why, and Lindsay has never been good at not knowing the answer.
"How are you?" she asks, trying to break the tension in her head.
Opening his eyes lazily, Daniel smirks at her, moving his hand so it rests on her knee. "I’m fine, Lindsay."
Her breathe catches in her throat and she isn’t sure if it’s because the lights are off and she’s in a room with a single Daniel, if it’s because the alcohol in her stomach makes her feel a little lightheaded, or if it’s simply because old habits die hard.
She stutters over her heartbeat: "Good."
"Do you think I’m a loser?" He asks, rubbing his thumb over her leg, eyes intent, focused on her.
Lindsay gulps, shakes her head and looks down at his hand on her knee, his thumb sweeping over her thigh. "No. I think you can do anything."
It’s cheesy and if the circumstances were different she’d roll her eyes and laugh, but as it is she closes her eyes, her stomach bubbling.
She means it.
Daniel moves forward, his lips hover by her forehead, his warm breath ghosting over her skin. Lindsay leans forward so his mouth presses against her forehead, grabs the hand not on his knee and doesn’t dare move again. She wants to ask him about Kim, what’s going on and what this means. But she has college essays to write and she isn’t even sure she wants to go. She’s still getting used to getting out of the house after being grounded forever.
And she wasn’t as upset as she pretended to be when Kim told her she "dumped Daniel’s ass" and her "for good," sounded more final than it ever had.
He moves his mouth to hers first. She thinks that’s important. She presses her lips to his first. Lindsay doesn’t want that to mean anything.
Daniel’s hand moves up her thigh and she moves one of her hands around his neck, lets the other one tangle in his hair--it’s a little greasy but she doesn’t mind. His tongue presses against the inside of her cheek and she feels all of her insides coil up. She feels frantic. Or maybe he’s frantic. She can’t tell if she’s feeling what she’s feeling or what he’s feeling or if maybe they’re feeling the same thing.
When his hand fiddles with the edge of her shirt before splaying over her stomach, Lindsay inhales. She feels like she’s floating so she kisses him harder and forgets about consequences.
She’s terrified. This feels fragile.
Maybe this is it; this will be all she gets. One night in someone else’s bedroom with the guy she’s had a crush on since freshman year, her hair sticking to her forehead, her shirt scrunched up her back uncomfortably (she’s on her back now and his hips are pressed into hers. Lindsay doesn’t remember when that happened, doesn’t know when her hands started clutching at his shoulders). One night at a party with her friend Daniel who is far more fucked up than she thought he’d be.
Maybe it’s more than that; maybe this is the beginning. Maybe he’ll ask her out to dinner and they’ll start dating. Kim will hate her and she’ll have to fix that if she can; she’ll explain. She’ll learn what it’s like to hold Daniel’s calloused hand and be in a relationship she wants to be in.
She doesn’t know. She’s never known much of anything despite what she tries to trick herself into believing.
Daniel kisses her clavicle, openmouthed, and she can feel him breathing. And it’s okay.
It’s not perfect, not how she imagined it a year ago. But it’s okay.
Adventureland | Joel/Em. i trip fast and then i lose. (pg)
"Hi," she says.
"Oh, uh, me?" he sputters.
"Yes." She smiles, lips barely upturned.
That is how it starts.
Joel spends his days in the park listlessly, giving prizes to kids with sticky fingers and ketchup stains on their shirts, listening to the same annoying song over and over. It's mundane routine, day in and day out. Sometimes he just wants to give away a giant panda and be done with it.
But then he remembers why he doesn't--the money and the other employees and the way Em waves at him, all hand and no wrist.
He spends his nights at home, sprawled out on the couch watching grating television or yelling at his family for being so goddamn stupid. There are nights when he sits hunched over his desk reading--everything and anything--trying to absorb the information, let it bleed into his brain, blood flow greater than blood flow out.
Intelligence, he thinks, is key.
He relishes the way Em's teeth scrap over her bottom lip when he mentions a philosopher she likes, how she always rolls her eyes when he casually drops Chekhov or Dostoyevsky into the conversation. Her mouth forms soft syllables and he scribbles them into his head. She's smarter than she knows. He wants to tell her, but he can't. She blinks and his entire world dissolves; she blinks again and his heart pumps blood--in in in. She asks to know more about why he thinks Jane Austen matters at all.
Joel always wants it to be more, never less.
So he reads and thinks and writes and wonders about the merit of different artists, absorbing the world around him through words and stilled images. He pieces together his own worldview, a bit of this and a bit of that, until he has a quilt of everything. Until he isn't sure what is his own and what belongs to everyone else.
Maybe, he thinks, it is all hers.
Em runs her hand through her hair, tells him she'll see him tomorrow.
She walks away and he thinks, tomorrow.
He'll always tell her, tomorrow.
James is nice. Joel sees a bit of a kindred spirit in him, think he could be a mentor, thinks they could be friends.
And then Em says, "James is," a pause to hop up onto the counter, the blue veins in her wrist twisting around his ribcage like a snake, squeezing until she cuts off his circulation. She finishes, "interesting, right?"
"What do you think of him?" she asks, heels hitting the counter softly as she looks around the park, hair blowing in her face.
Joel watches her carefully. There's something in her eyes that he's seen before but has never been able to name, despite all the words he's read, there's never been any that describe Em.
Enigma, maybe. But there are flashes, between one child and the next, when the song stops and is about to start again, when she's an open book. But he's never been a very fast reader, and she's gone too soon. A slow, soft flurry of perfume and knees and teeth that blurs in his mind, leaving him lost, trying to find a way to turn the page.
He answers, "I like him."
"Yeah," she whispers, looking at Joel again, her eyes clouded with something akin to fear.
He sees her one day as he's walking down the street. She lives in New York now; In New York she is with James. He sees her and he focuses. Her steps are still heavy but her shoulders are lighter. Joel thinks she's radically different and yet, exactly the same, eyelashes fluttering against her cheek when she blinks, stilted, unsure movements. He stops, thinks about saying something, decides against it, but she sees him, waves, all hand and no wrist.
"Joel," she says, walking over, folding her arms over her chest as the wind picks up.
"Em," he answers. He can feel his tongue in his mouth, dry and large. His palms are sweaty.
She had not done this to him since those first two weeks. He's all too aware of his body, the way his elbows jut out, the odd shifting of weight from leg to leg, the limpness of his arms. He's not sure how to stand straight.
They exchange pleasantries and then she looks at him closely.
He wonders if she knows.
"Thank you," she says.
"Oh, it was, um, nothing," he sputters.
"Yeah, it was." She smiles, lips barely upturned.
That is how it ends.
(He whispers to the cold fall air, I love you.)
Gilmore Girls | Rory/Jess. you'll try to sleep without a dream. g
She can still feel his hands and mouth dusting over her knee, knuckles, ribs, seeping into her bones.
His words stick to her skin like poetry.
She thinks, Yes.
She moves into a small one room apartment in Boston after the campaign working as a fact checker because she needs a job and the city feels expansive. Rory can breathe there. Her coworkers are nice, she befriends a woman who writes for the Life & Style section because she reminds Rory of Stars Hollow--all soft edges and long fingernails and perfume that makes her smell like fruit. She eats lunch with another fact checker who makes her forget about Stars Hollow--all rough edges and Boston accent and a set of the jaw that makes her worry. They discuss books. His favorite is Howl. It’s close enough.
Boston starts to feel like home and she starts to wonder about all the potential homes she is missing, has missed.
There are too many days she doesn’t tell her mother about when she feels like Yale was settling. She was afraid of being too far away, of ruining the dream she had painted in her head since she was little.
Boston rubs salt on her skin but the wounds are more like bruises anyway.
(It still burns.)
Miss Patty flutters her eyelashes in a manner that would not be construed as innocent in any world when she asks, "How’s the male population treating you?"
Rory cringes and looks at her mom for help, but Lorelai just shrugs and excuses herself to go get more coffee. "I just got out of a long term relationship?" Rory asks, uncertain. She used to be so good at excuses.
"Honey that was ages ago." Miss Patty frowns at her, pity in her eyes. "You won’t be young forever."
She saunters away and Rory deflates, slouching down in her chair, thumb going round and round the rim her coffee cup, absorbing lukewarm particles of liquid. It makes her hands sticky.
She thinks it’s been longer than anyone knows, getting out of a long term relationship; she wonders if there are some relationships you just never get over.
Can you call someone the one who got away even if you pushed them out the door?
She wanders through a small, independent bookstore, fingers trailing over cracked spines, inhaling dust and words. Bookstores aren’t calming to her, not anymore; they’re filled with memories that play behind her eyelids on particularly bad (good) nights. They kick start her heart, remind her of simpler times, of who she used to be and always thought she would be.
Sometimes Rory hates herself, but then she blinks, becomes steadier.
When she’s going to checkout, ten books piled in her arms, she sees his name. He’s written another book and he didn’t tell her. She doesn’t know what to do with that information.
At first she’s upset, she doesn’t buy it. She doesn’t buy anything. She sets all her books down, places them over his and leaves.
She comes back a week later and reads it in the store, sitting in an oversized armchair in the back. Her breath lodges in her throat and she claws at the chair trying not to cry.
A few days later she buys a few copies, leaves them around her apartment so she can't get away from.
There is one thing Rory is sure of, this book is not about her.
There is a future she almost had.
A cramped apartment filled with books, nights of takeout, cigarette smoke on her tongue and rough hands running over her neck, rewatching Almost Famous until it swims in her brain, a blend of color and music and growing up.
Rory always thought she never had to grow up, she was already there, but sometimes she feels like she just never had the chance.
The Boston fact checker asks her out, takes her to a gritty jazz club and discusses Ulysses, taps his fingers to a beat she can’t recognize. It’s nice. Rory enjoys the music and his pretentious phrasing and the cocktail she sips all night, making a warm pool in her stomach.
He kisses her goodnight and she can see his breath in the air when he walks away, shoulders hunched, hand shoved into his jean pockets.
She says, "No."