A/N: Gah! I am so sorry this took so long! It's been almost a month! I've had homework and projects and exams and shit dumped on me at the last minute and… yeah. .:Hugs all her readers and reviewers:. But thanks for the reviews, ya'll! I love you all so much.
Alicia slumped down against a wall in an alley, glad that she finally lost the Socs. Blood was gushing down her face and dripping onto her lap. Shit, she thought. I hope my nose isn't broken. Fuck; I think it is. She wiped most of the blood off her face and was about to stand up when she heard footsteps. For a moment, she thought the Socs found her, and she curled up as small as possible and covered her head with her hands.
The footsteps were much lighter than a boys' and a foot gently nudged her arm. "Alicat, get up. We're going home. I think that Soc broke your nose."
It was Angela. Alicia stood up gratefully and Angela took her arm. Pinching her nose with her thumb and index finger to stop the blood from gushing over her face even more she said, "Thanks, Angel. I woulda just sad there all my life if you wouldn'da come. Thad was preddy stupid of me, wasn't it?"
Angela rolled her eyes and nodded. "Really stupid. I doubt even Curly would have done that."
Alicia laughed. "You'd be surprised. Now let's ged the fuck out of here or blood'll freeze on my face."
They walked to the apartment building as fast as they could, stopping frequently so Alicia could wipe blood off herself. Snow began to fall thick and fast and Alicia could almost feel it freezing on her face.
Opening the door, they could see Tim sitting on the couch with an icepack on his neck and tissue shoved up his nose. His nostrils were red and he lifted his hand to them to see if they were still bleeding.
Angela looked from her sister to her brother, then back to her sister. Then she burst into peals of laughter.
Tim glared. "Whad?" he asked.
She put a hand over her mouth and closed her eyes. "Sorry. How'd you break your nose?"
"Id's nod broken," Tim mumbled.
"Yes it is. It's gone all crooked," Angela said. "What happened?"
Tim wiped his nose again. "Dallas," he said.
"Did you piss him off?" Angela asked.
Tim rolled his eyes at her. "No, stupid, he punched me 'cause he was happy. Yes, I pissed him off."
"So he just punched you?"
"Go away," Tim snapped.
Alicia had had enough. "Angel, c'mon. Let's go. I need ice or something or I'll lose so much blood that I'll die or something," she said quietly.
Tim snorted. "You wond die, Ali," he said.
"Well, whadever. I just need ice," Alicia snapped before stalking out of the room.
"Whad happened to her?" Tim asked.
Angela bit her lower lip to keep from laughing again. "She got jumped."
Tim's eyes widened and he leapt to his feet. "Who did it? Whaddid they look like? Where the fuck's my jacket? I swear to God, Angel, they're gonna pay-"
"Tim, Tim, chill, okay? Alicia jumped them first. Or-" Angela chuckled- "she tried to. There were four of them and one of her. She got her arms around one of their necks and then his head slammed into her face and broke her nose. Then she ran. And that's all the happened, I swear. So you don't need to go beating up random people because Alicia was stupid. Don't piss your pants."
"Did you help her?"
"Did you help her fight?" Tim repeated.
"What? No, no I didn't."
"Why not?" Tim asked. His voice was becoming dangerously cool.
"Because it was stupid. I didn't wanna get beaten up either," she said.
"You shoulda helped her."
"Why?" Angela snapped. "She was the one being stupid, not me."
"She's got a point, Tim." Alicia was back. She had an icepack on her neck, but her nose had stopped bleeding. "She didn't need to help me. And I realize that I was being stupid. Fucking stupid."
Angela nodded. "Right. You were fucking stupid. She was fucking stupid."
A few hours later, Alicia was dead to the world in her and Angela's bedroom, Angela was out, Curly was somewhere, and Tim was laying down on the couch, watching some terrible game show on TV. The show had the most obnoxious host ever and he was giving Tim a headache. Even so, he didn't want to get up. He was still turning the night over in his mind.
He expected to hate Dallas after he broke Tim's nose. He wanted to hate him. He would have given anything to hate Dallas and to get him out of his mind and not feel anything towards him but pure, raw, unadulterated loathing.
And it hurt because he couldn't. Tim knew that he could never hate Dally, no matter how hard he tried. Because he loved Dally, even though he would never admit it to anyone but himself. And even now, he would hardly admit it to even himself.
He knew that he was being stupid. He could just march up to Dally and tell him the truth: that he loved him and wanted to be back with him and forget everything. But he couldn't. Tim was a "run away, hit the road, don't commit" person. Instead of confronting his demons, he crept away from them, very quietly.
Dallas wiped the blood off his knuckles. There was still the faintest trace of a rusty smear on them. He sighed and spat in the snow before turning the corner. Why did he have to be so goddamned quick tempered? Sure, after Tim broke it off, he wanted to punch his face off, but even after he apologized, Dally did what he always did: resorted to violence. Tim would hate him.
He felt like dying.
Tim was still lying on the couch, staring at the ceiling, when Alicia woke up an hour later. She rubbed her eyes and wandered into the small kitchen. "What're you doing?" she asked. Tim could hear the sounds of plates and silverware clattering, the refrigerator being opened and a glass being slammed down.
"Wondering about the best way to commit suicide," Tim said, lightly.
Alicia emerged from the kitchen with a plate and a glass of Coke in her hands. On the plate was a sandwich, potato chips and a few pills; Tim noticed that they were painkillers. "Don't be a jackass, Tim," she scoffed. "Only losers commit suicide." She put all the pills in her mouth at once and swallowed them with a gulp of Coke. Wiping her mouth with the back of her hand, she added, "besides, if you killed yourself, who would take care of us?"
Tim rolled his eyes. "I ain't gonna kill myself, Ali. Don't piss your pants."
She picked up her sandwich and took a bite. "Wasn't gonna," she said with her mouth full. "But you shouldn't talk like that, or else me and Ang are gonna put you in the mental home. You know, for all those wackjobs and shit."
Alicia noticed that Tim almost smiled at this, so she pressed on. "I mean, ya'll don't wanna go there, do you? With the white walls and white sheets and white jackets and white shit. Everyone knows that monochrome is so fucking boring that you get sick. And you can't wear any color other than white. And pretty soon your skin turns white and pasty from lack of sunlight."
"Like Curly's girlfriend?" Tim asked.
She nodded. "But whiter. And then you're just a big, white, crazy, suicidal blob," Alicia finished and took another bite of sandwich.
"And then I die?" Tim added, amused.
"No. Then you kill yourself. Then you die. A slow, painful death."
Tim laughed for the first time in weeks.
Dally didn't really know how he found himself being slammed against the wall in some smelly and dark alley by some blonde kid that looked familiar but Dally didn't know where he'd seen him. The kid had blue eyes and shaggy hair and he must have been a greaser by the way he dressed. Dally thought the kid must have- at some point- said that his name was Mike or Mark or something; it didn't matter. (Dally didn't give him his name because he figured the kid was so hammered that he didn't recognize him anyway.) All that mattered was that this kid had eyes sort of like Tim's and kissed sort of like Tim and was built sort of like Tim.
That was why Dally was pressed against a wall by this kid. Because he reminded him of Tim, in a crazy, unlikely way. Mike's hands were tangled in Dally's hair and their lips met with urgency. Dally didn't even think to pull away. His brain wasn't functioning properly. Neither of them noticed the snow falling on them.
He continued to kiss Mike and he ran his hands though his pale hair. Dally was amazed at how easily his fingers went through Mike's hair. With Tim, his fingers often got stuck in Tim's thick curls. Mike's hair was rough and coarse and Tim's was silky and soft, even if it was in tangles most of the time.
The Mike kid grabbed Dally's ass, which brought the latter down to Earth with a crash. He pulled away and stared at the kid. Then everything clicked and he remembered something Alicia Shepard had said the night he kissed her a few weeks ago.
"Yeah, Tim's new frien'. They're like, goin' out, or together or somethin'. Like you two were. I heard one of their phone conversations. Tim said somethin' like he wanted Mitch's body or somethin', an' then he laughed an' said somethin' like Mitch was gonna meet him naked, I dunno."
Dally's mouth almost dropped open. Mitch.
That was his name. He was currently kissing the same kid Tim had broken up with him for.
He stared at him for a while before he said, "do you know Tim Shepard?"
Mitch nodded. "Who doesn't?"
"No, I mean, do you know him? Personally, I mean."
"I guess. We were sort of friends for a while, then I broke it off. We didn't really… I dunno. Get along."
Dally looked into his eyes and realized that they were nothing like Tim's. Sure, they were blue like Tim's were, maybe even the same shade, but they weren't that dark, smoldering, beautiful blue that Tim's were. And he kissed nothing like Tim did. Tim was demanding and passionate and sweet at the same time, while Mitch was demanding, he didn't have the fire or the almost tenderness that Tim did.
Dally was suddenly acutely aware of the snow on his head and shoulders and how cold it was outside. He brushed the snow off his head and said, "look, I'd better go. It's getting late and I've got shit to do tomorrow." After a moment of awkward silence, he sauntered away.
He felt sort of bad for just leaving, but he didn't know what to do. Besides, what was he supposed to say? "Sorry, I was fucking Tim Shepard, then we broke up, then he started fucking you and I have no fucking clue why I kissed you and now I'm on a slow spiral downward to rock bottom?"
Without looking where he was going, he turned the corner and ran straight into someone.
"Ow! What the fuck?" came a familiar, husky voice from somewhere around his chest area.
Looking down, he realized that he had just run into one Angela Shepard. She was holding hands with some tall, dark-haired kid and she shot Dallas a death glare. "Watch it, asshole," she snarled.
"Sorry," he said quickly, before walking as fast as he could away from her. He could hear her swear to the kid she was with as he practically ran away. What was with the Shepards? Did Tim turn them all against him? It was something Tim would do, Dally reasoned. There was nothing wrong with him. Tim was just being a jackass. Nothing new there, he thought bitterly. There was nothing wrong with him. Nothing whatsoever. There was just something wrong with Tim. Nothing wrong with him and everything wrong with Tim.
Tim noticed that Cassie's hair had gotten longer since he'd last seen her. It used to fall to her chin and now it grazed her shoulders. Maybe she'd colored it, because it looked darker, but maybe that was just because it was winter. She smiled at him and he smiled back, his first real smile in weeks.
Honestly, Tim didn't know why he called Cassie. He wasn't going to talk to her about Dallas or try to sleep with her or anything. He just wanted someone comforting and nice. Alicia went back to bed and left Tim and Cassie sitting on the couch.
"Your hair looks nice," Tim said, smiling slightly.
Cassie smiled back. "Thanks. You look nice, too." Tim knew that she was lying because he knew that he looked like hell, but it was nice to talk to her again, even if she was lying. His broken nose was hard to overlook.
Tim briefly wondered how he got involved with the girls he did. Cassie and Nini were so different. Cassie was sweet and honest and Nini was bitchy and forward. And Nini was drop-dead gorgeous and Cassie was just pretty. Nothing special but she was pretty.
"How've you been?" he asked.
"Fine," she answered. "And you?"
Tim decided not to be honest. "Fine."
"How are you with the whole… you know Vietnam thing?" Cassie asked carefully.
"Fine," Tim said. She studied his face and he paled. "No, I'm not fine," he admitted. Letting his defenses drop, he added, "I guess you could say that I'm kinda scared."
She nodded sympathetically. "I know." She moved closer to him and put her hand over his. Her hand was smooth and soft and his was dry and calloused. "It's all right."
He shook his head, feeling a prickling behind his eyes. It was the second time in a day he wanted to cry. What was wrong with him? "I can't be afraid. I'm a fucking Shepard. We don't know fear."
Cassie moved closer. "Tim, everyone knows fear, whether they like it or not. Even you. And avoiding it isn't gonna make it go away."
She rolled her dark eyes. "This. Your fear. The fact that you're leaving. Dallas."
He jerked his head to look at her. "I ain't been avoiding Dallas."
"Yes you have. I'll bet you haven't talked since the night you fell out."
Tim pointed at his nose. "Talked to him today and he broke my fucking nose."
She faltered. "Oh. Is he that mad?"
He nodded and let his head fall on her shoulder. She smelled like clean laundry and baby powder. "He hates me."
Cassie put an arm around him. "He doesn't hate you," she whispered. He moved closer to her and their sides were touching.
Tim didn't care how pathetic he was being. He felt horrible and just wanted sympathy. Tears formed and he didn't care if Cassie saw them. He was leaving, Dallas hated him, Nini hated him and he'd just hit rock bottom.
Cassie stroked his hair. It was something his mother used to do if he couldn't sleep. It made him tired and it was soothing. "You're okay, Tim. You're okay," she whispered.
Dally got Tim's new apartment address from Buck Merrill, who got it from Curly. On the walk there, he practiced what he was going to say. Tim, I'm sorry I jumped to conclusions and punched you in the face when you were trying to apologize. That was fucking stupid and I'm sorry. I'm also sorry that I made out with your exboyfriend. That was also stupid and I'msorry. I love you.
He stared at the door and took a deep breath. It was now or never. He knocked.
Tim answered. Dally inhaled, sharply. There was Tim, a few inches away from him. Tim. It was Tim, and he looked so beautiful and sad and confused and he was staring at Dallas and Dally suddenly felt small. There was a girl, the one with brown hair and pretty eyes, sitting on the couch behind him and Dally looked at her for a moment.
Tim raised his eyebrows. "What?"
Dally stared at him. Tim's nose looked like he'd run headfirst into a wall. "Sorry about your nose," he managed to blurt out.
Tim raised his eyebrows again. "Yeah." He shifted uncomfortably from his left foot to his right and looked at the ground. "It's fine." Then he looked up at Dally.
Dally wondered what was wrong with Tim. He looked so sad. Dally had never seen Tim sad. He'd seen Tim angry and happy and excited and tired but never sad. He briefly considered asking Tim what was wrong, why he was so sad and why they'd ever fallen out, but he didn't. Instead he forced a smile, swore in his mind and said, "sorry," again.
Tim didn't respond. Dally looked at him painfully and turned to go. One third of him wanted to get the fuck out of the apartment building because it smelled like cats and it was too claustrophobic and Tim was there, looking so beautiful and so sad and the second third wanted to hit Tim again and ask him if he was really that stupid and what was going through his head when he broke it off and the last third just wanted to crumple and die.
Eventually, the last third won and he walked away, leaving Tim standing in the doorway.
Tim turned around and looked at Cassie. She was staring at him like he sprouted two heads. "So that's it?" she asked.
She looked like she was trying to not roll her eyes. "You're just gonna let him walk away from you like that?" At Tim's blank look, she kept going. "He came here to apologize. You should've apologized, too. About everything"
"What? You were the one who told me to break it off in the first place!" Tim shouted.
Cassie didn't look fazed andshe held his gaze calmly. "I know. And I've done some thinking. And I think that you should tell Dallas that you didn't mean it. Sorry I gave you bad advice. I had a bad feeling about it when I told you. Look, Tim, I'm sorry that I gave you that advice, so don't give me that look."
Tim fell down beside her. He was too miserable to even fight with her. "It's okay, Cassie. I shouldn't've done it, anyways." Cassie was murmuring something in his ear that he didn't understand, but it sounded nice and it made him drowsy. For the first time in weeks, he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep.