I've been listening to a lot of Florence + The Machine as of late, so that's the driving force behind this little one-shot. That and a bunch of The Black Keys, too, so there's actually like two influences going on here. If you catch the title reference, you can gather that for yourself. Hope you enjoy.
Oh, yeah. I don't own any Florence lyrics, nor do I own Jane by Design.
The agony in receiving the invite was much worse than he had anticipated. He had known it was coming, and promised everyone who saw through his brave face that he could handle it, that he was happy for them. But that brave face of his fell as soon as he saw the inscription. In his hands he held a cordial invitation, an ivory envelope; one of those fancy little things he never thought she would have chosen, but then again there truly was a very Jane quality to it. It was classy, but simple. Nearly understated, but not so. It was pure Jane, he decided.
And it hurt like hell to read someone else's name where his should've and could've been had he just stepped up all those years ago. But he hadn't had the courage to, afraid that this wonderful girl would take one look into his eyes, see into his soul, and reject him. The fear had a chokehold on his heart and it wasn't until it was too late that he was ready to strike it down. He'd been almost ready seven years ago, when he ran to her to tell her the thing that he'd been too stupid to realize. His brother of all people had been the one to point it out, and it was like he'd awoken from a restless slumber. He had needed to see Jane that night. And so he ran.
"It's you, Janey." Maybe he was wearing the creepiest smile on his face, but when he saw her face, confused and startled, looking to him and then the blonde Brit, he knew that hearing her reject him would damn near kill him.
So when Jane took a step towards him and a glimmer of hope shot through him, he pushed it down and acted as though there was no chance. He stopped her from saying anything, sputtering out something nonsensical before turning around and darting out of there. He could hear her shrieking his name from behind him, but her voice, as magical as it was, merely sped up his sprint. When he couldn't run anymore, he came to a sudden stop and slid down to the pavement, cradling his head in his hands.
"I'm an idiot," he spoke to himself. "I'm a damn idiot."
The next day he was sent away and it was more of a relief than anything else. He hoped, prayed really, that the distance between them would squash his feelings. That not seeing her everyday would help. But he'd been wrong again. He missed her every day. He lost count of the seconds he'd spent missing her.
When he came back, things were undeniably different. And it was his fault. It wasn't that the entire school saw him as a criminal, it was that Jane didn't. That her sweetness was still there, and it scared the hell out of him. He couldn't accept that she still saw him as the same Billy he'd always been. He wanted her to resent him a little, because maybe then loving her wouldn't be so easy.
But their friendship was stronger than anything he'd ever known. It wasn't long before they were able to get past the wall between them. He dated this girl, Zoe, for a while, longer than anyone in high school, but it wasn't meant to be. She figured that out for him when he pulled the same routine with her that he did with Lulu. Zoe was a hundred times more understanding, knowing that Jane was his rock and he hers. There was something between them that she couldn't penetrate, and when she figured out that she wanted to be for him what Jane was, she knew it was time to call it quits. They stayed friends throughout high school, and she listened to him pour his heart out about Jane. Eventually, she would show up to school one day holding hands with none other than Nick Fadden. The twist was well-received by both Jane and Billy; Zoe and Nick were great together, and would eventually tie the knot three years post high-school.
But while things worked out great for that duo, the same couldn't be said for Billy and Jane. He'd had another shot to tell her what he felt for her just a few months before they were going to graduate. She had been telling him for a while about this Eli guy she worked with that liked her enough to take her out on casual dates. He'd been worried about her, knowing that this guy was older than her (although, he hadn't known that). He probably had certain...expectations that Janey didn't know anything about. How could she? But she was smarter than Billy gave her credit, and committed to nothing with Eli. She wouldn't do that until she felt comfortable enough with revealing her age to him. She was only 17, Eli was 24. Billy knew that he had to tell her the truth before she told her own truth to Eli.
So he tried. They were hanging out at her house, watching something he couldn't remember, because his focus was on Jane. When she got up to pop some popcorn, he decided it was do or die time.
"Jane," he called from his seat. His nervousness flew over Jane's head.
The microwave went off and she took out the bag and proceeded to pour the buttery goodness into a bowl. "Yeah?" she called back.
He got up and joined her in the kitchen, standing on the opposite side of the counter. She looked up at him, waiting for his reply, and he started to say it all. His stomach in knots, he said, "Jane, I just wanted to tell you that I - "
Her phone interrupted him. She looked down and her face lit up. It broke his heart when she said, "Eli just texted me! He wants me to go ice skating with him tomorrow."
Billy swallowed uneasily. "Oh, yeah?"
"Yeah!" she said excitedly. She launched into an explanation of how on her first "fake" date with Eli, he asked her to go ice skating with him. She continued to babble, but Billy couldn't listen. The hollow thud of his heartbeat was breaking him down from the inside.
"I'm happy for you, Janey," he said softly.
He had tried then, but the words never surfaced. Jane went ice skating with Eli, and it was then that she sat him down to tell him the truth about her age. At best, she expected him to just tell her that they couldn't do anything about their feelings, could be nothing more than friends. And at worst, she figured he'd tell Gray the truth and hate her for the rest of eternity. He'd surprised her. He was angry, yes, shocked, yes, but his feelings were still true. He made her promise to tell Gray the truth soon, and then he'd grabbed her hand, kissed her knuckles, and told her that they couldn't be anything more than friends until she'd graduated high school.
Billy knew this story better than anyone. Jane had told him before Ben even and the glimmer in her eyes had him reeling. He'd hoped that this Eli character would be an absolute dick and turn on her so he, Billy, could rescue Jane. But his wishing was useless.
And then they graduated. Jane told Gray the truth, who although sour about being deceived by a juvenile, let Jane keep her job and even went so far as to straighten out the legalities. Billy went to community college, unable to leave Jane just yet and without the grades or funds to go to a more prestigious school. And Jane and Eli became somewhat of a power couple. They were crazy about each other.
And this invitation in Billy's hands was a testimony to that. He clutched it, reading it over and over again.
You are cordially invited
to celebrate the wedding of
Jane Hannah Quimby
Elijah William Chandler
Each time he read over the words, it felt like someone was twisting a knife inside of his stomach. Finally, it felt like the walls of his apartment were consuming him. He gathered himself, grabbed his keys and headed for the door.
He wasn't able to let go of the invitation.
So, Billy Nutter stepped out into the night, his fingers curled around the opened invitation in a madman sort of grip. The wind growled around him and it was only when he could take it no longer that he joined in. Like a beast in the darkness, wounded by lost love, he sunk to his knees and howled in mourning. His Janey was engaged to a man he couldn't protest. A good guy he believed loved her like she deserved. But he hated him all the same. The jealousy in his chest threatened to shut down all of his vital organs as his tears stained the pristine envelope his ironclad grip had already marred.
This was agony. This was heartache. And like a restless hunter, Billy vowed that too late was for martyrs. His Janey was pure, but he was selfish, and he'd be damned if he'd let Eli win the love of his life without a fight.
Be careful of the curse that falls on young lovers. Starts so soft and sweet, and turns them to hunters.
Maybe one of these days I'll expand on this, but for now it's a stand-alone. Hope you enjoyed this, even though it wasn't quite the happyhappyhappy fest you were probably hoping for. I kinda rushed it, because I feel obligated to start writing the next installment of my Eli/Jane fic now, so...yeah. Reviews = love, and they're great motivators. Please leave one if you like my stuff.
Or else I'll be super depressed and wonder why you hate me so.
But seriously, haha. Drop me a line if you had the time to get through this! :]