Author: shelbecat & rachel_wilder
Spoilers: Set after 3x8, NewYork, New York
Author’s Note: For 1407graymalkin on the occasion of her birthday.
Tim knows what it’s like to have loved and lost. He can tell you better than anyone what regret tastes like—bitter and strong on his tongue. But he also knows that it is better to have loved and lost, than to never have loved at all; or at least that’s what the little magnet he saw at the flea market said. He had palmed it, then slipped it into his pocket unnoticed. He wasn’t about to pay for the advice, but he’d take it just the same.
When Jason says he’s moving to New York, Tim knows there is only one option—go with him to make sure he doesn’t fuck it up. Because Six doesn’t have much of a track record with traveling to new places, and Tim needs to be there to say goodbye even if he’d never admit it to Jay. The trip is great too, they actually get to do things together like the old days, and when Tim gets drunk and nearly falls off the curb in front of a cab, it doesn’t really matter that Jay isn’t there to catch him. He’s there to laugh about it after, and that’s feels just about as good.
At the house, with Erin, Tim intends to say his piece and leave. He struggles through it too, and Jason is man enough not to point out the fact that Tim is downright crying. But then Erin sees Tim standing by the cab, looking like he just lost his best friend in the whole world, and she tries to be kind by inviting him in. Tim appreciates the gesture, but with each step towards the front door he knows he’s going to live to regret this night.
Because saying goodbye to Six was never as simple as a few words and a hug farewell. Tim’s about to lose the person he loves most in the world, and he doesn’t know if he can be the one that leaves.
Tim’s felt like the third wheel more than once—usually when Tyra had run off on him and he was left with Six and Lyla, but sitting at dinner in Erin’s house with Jason, Erin, Noah in his high chair, Erin’s mom, Linda, her dad, Manny, and Erin’s eleven year old brother, Sam, Tim wasn’t sure if he had ever felt more out of place.
“Your first trip to New Jersey, Tim?” Erin’s mom asks politely.
Tim nods, his mouth still working on the pot roast he stuck in there a moment before. Erin’s mom seems nice enough, but she can’t cook like Mrs. Street. “Uh, yeah, I mean, I never left Texas before, I mean except for Mexico.”
Shit, why did he mentioned Mexico? He hopes Erin’s mom doesn’t ask about that.
“Oh, Mexico!” she exclaims. “Manny talked about going there for our anniversary, but we went to the Dominican Republic, instead.”
Tim isn’t sure what she’s talking about. He thought the Dominican Republic was in Africa, but that doesn’t really make sense for a vacation.
“I should put Noah down,” Erin says as she gets up and pulls the baby out of his high chair.
“Can I help?” Jason asks.
Don’t leave me alone with these people, Tim thinks.
“It’s upstairs, Jason,” Erin apologizes.
There’s more than one reason why Six is going to have to get his own place, Tim realizes.
“The guest room is up there, too,” Linda explains, “but you can use our room down here, Jason.”
Erin’s dad Manny looked like he wasn’t that excited about Erin’s baby daddy showing up unannounced, let alone sleeping in his bed or bringing along a buddy from West Texas.
“I don’t want to put you out,” Jason says. “We can go get a hotel or sleep on the couch.”
“No, you’ll be just fine in our room,” Linda says. “You’re almost like family.”
Tim tries not to listen as Jason talks quietly on the phone with his mom. Since the Mexico fiasco she was more prone to call out the Texas Rangers on Jason, so Six tended to answer his phone when it rang.
“We’re headed home in a few days, Mom, but then we need to talk,” Jason says. There’s a pause and then he smiles. “Yeah, Noah looks great. No. Yeah, we’ll talk.”
Jason ends the call and looks over at Tim.
“You think she knows you’re staying here?” Tim asks. He knew the Streets wouldn’t be very happy about this latest development.
“At this point I think she’s given up on any hopes for me,” Jason replies.
“She’ll never give up on you.”
“That isn’t what I meant,” Jason answers. “I mean, her plan for me at this point was to be getting Notre Dame into a bowl game and getting engaged to Lyla. I don’t think breaking my neck, ruining football, getting a GED, knocking a girl up and moving to New Jersey was in the plan.”
“You didn’t tell her about becoming a sports agent,” Tim points out.
“True,” Jason says and then laughs. “I guess I’ll break it to her when I see her, huh?”
Tim nods, frowning. Coming home just to say good bye. Hardly seems to be a point.
When he catches Jason’s eye again, Jay’s face is somber. “Sorry I’m taking off on you, Riggs.”
Tim knows what Jason means. Street was probably the only person who knew how much it cut him up to lose people in his life and even though his mom and dad had taken off on him, losing Jason is going to be so much harder.
Erin’s mom makes up a bed on the couch in the front room for Tim.
“Sorry it’s not more,” she offered before heading upstairs.
With Jason in the master bedroom, Erin’s parents were upstairs in the guest room. Tim didn’t really mind. They were kind enough to let him stay; even if her dad had asked three times if Tim needed help arranging a flight back to Texas.
“So I was figuring we could stay a few days…” Jason says after they are finally alone.
“I’m going back tomorrow,” Tim mumbles.
“But I…I need to find a place, and then go back for my stuff…”
“I’ll send your stuff, Street. You just stay here and be with Noah.”
Jason looks at him silently for a moment. “You in a hurry to leave?”
Tim shakes his head. How could he explain that leaving was the last thing he wanted to do? But Jason is starting a new life here in Connecticut with Erin and their son. There’s no room left for Tim in this picture.
“I called Billy, he cursed me out, but we got a ticket for tomorrow morning. I can go by your house and help your Mom pack up or whatever.”
Jason nods. “If that’s what you want.”
Tim meets Jason’s gaze head on. “It’s for the best.” He lies back on the couch still fully dressed and closes his eyes.
The sound of Jason closing the door behind him as he leaves echoes through the room. Tim opens his eyes and stares at the emptiness. He might as well get used to it, Six wasn’t coming back any time soon.
Somewhere between wondering how the hell he was going to pay Billy back for his plane ticket, and figuring out how he could best escape the house tomorrow morning without anyone noticing, Tim drifts off to sleep. He wakes up with a jerk when he hears a crash from across the room.
“Christ,” he hears a soft voice say. Then, “Timmy? A little help here?”
Tim eases himself off the couch and walks over to where Jay is silhouetted in the doorway to the room. His wheel is caught in the fabric drapes Erin’s mom had hanging over the glass doors. He’d managed to rock his chair enough that he knocked over a side table just inside the room.
“Always the smooth one, Street,” Tim mutters and bends down to right the table. He disentangles Jason’s chair and steps aside to let Jay push himself into the room.
“Is there is reason why I’m awake at…” Tim rubs his eyes. He has no clue what time it is.
“Couldn’t sleep,” Jay replies. “And if I’m up…”
“You’re up,” Tim finishes.
It was a game they’d always played when Tim would sleep over at Jason’s house. As soon as one of them would start to drift off to sleep, the other would nudge or poke or dump ice cubes down the other’s shorts, and say, ‘If I’m up, you’re up.’ A vicious contest to see who could outlast the other, when in the morning neither could remember who had fallen asleep first anyway.
Tim walks back over and sits down on the couch. Jay parks his chair next to the couch and transfers over to sit next to Tim.
“Not the most comfortable of beds.”
“Six…” Tim starts.
“Don’t,” Jason cuts him off. “You’re leaving tomorrow, and I get that you don’t want to hang around here, but I thought we’d have more time.” Jason shrugs. “I’m not ready to say good bye.”
“Then don’t,” Tim says. “You’ll be home for Thanksgiving or Christmas, and maybe I can play ball out here after school.”
“Like you are ever leaving Texas,” Jason teases.
“Like you ever thought you would,” Tim counters.
Jason is quiet, staring down at his hands.
“Look, I’m tired, and my flight is early…”
Jason leans over and silences Tim with a warm kiss full on his mouth. Tim tries to resist—he’s been trying to resist for years—but the comfort and familiarity are too much to refuse. His hand snakes up to grip the back of Jason’s neck.
“We shouldn’t,” he whispers against Jason’s lips.
Jay ignores him, and Tim can’t help but keep kissing him back. Slowly, he pushes Jay back until he’s lying down on the couch. Tim stands and arranges Jay’s legs so he’s at least not going to fall off, then he eases himself down on top of Street, jockeying for a position on the thin couch.
“Almost as bad as the back of your truck, Riggs,” Jay mumbles into Tim’s mouth.
Tim closes his eyes and pushes his face into the heat of Jay’s neck. In the back of his truck, there were two able bodies to maneuver the small space. Now Tim is left to do all the lifting, and Jason just lies there. Tears smart his eyes as he pushes through the memory and reaches for Jay’s pants.
Tim opens his eyes slowly as the sunlight creeps into the room. He glances down at the other end of the couch where their heads had lain together until Tim had dragged Jason’s ass up and pushed him back into his chair.
“I’ll stay,” Jason had mumbled.
Tim had ignored him. Last thing he was going to be responsible for was Erin catching them together. Not when Jason was almost home free. He’d tumbled Jason into the bed and left the bedroom. Jason was asleep before he closed the door.
Tim lifts his hand to his face. He can still smell Jason on him. He wishes there was a way to never lose that. The moments were always stolen between them, but last night had felt even more desperate—the fear of getting caught, but more than that the unbearable weight of knowing that this was the end of...well, Tim wasn’t sure what it was the end of since he and Jason never put a name on it to begin with.
His phone buzzes and he looks down; it’s his cab. He swings his feet off the couch and pulls his boots on. He walks out of the front room and looks over at the door to the bedroom where Jason is sleeping. He could go back in there one last time, say goodbye…or try to, but he knows that might kill him. If he doesn’t walk out the door now, he’ll never be able to leave.
And maybe that isn’t a bad thing. Leaving Six here is worse than leaving him in the hospital, worse than being in Mexico. This feels like it’s a forever change. And Tim isn’t ready for today to be forever.
He takes a step toward the bedroom when he looks up and sees Erin standing at the top of the stairs with Noah in her arms.
Jason never thought he’d have a family. Tim knows what that means to him, and he won’t have a hand in ruining it. He meets Erin’s eyes and lifts his hand to wave goodbye.
“Take care of him,” he tells her.
“I will,” she agrees. “We both will.”
Tim pauses for half a beat, then grabs his coat. Forever begins today.