Since the new season starts Monday, I figured I should wrap up this story. Hence two chapters in one day. Hope you've enjoyed!
"I'm so sorry, Wade. I don't think I can do this," Rose's face was pale, and she looked a bit green. Wade's eyes went wide. It was she who asked him for help. She wanted to perform at tonight's open mic night, and asked him back before Zoe was due back in town. He was in a good mood that day, so he'd agreed. Rose picked one of those independent-country-kick-ass-woman songs. The tabs were easy to learn, and when they'd rehearsed, she sounded pretty good. Really good, actually. Even Wade had to acknowledge that in the foul mood that had taken him over in the last few days. Right now, however, he was about a minute from going on stage, and Rose was running in the opposite direction. He tried to whisper to her to come back, but it was no use. Wade looked back to the stage. Dash was in the middle of one of his dramatic readings. From what Wade could tell, it was one of the longest death scenes Mr. Shakespeare ever wrote. Wade knew if he didn't perform, Lemon would kill him- Rose's song was supposed to be squeezed between the reading and Tom's magic act, so there'd be time to set up all of his tricks. Lemon wouldn't stand to have dead air. '
Dash took his bows to a smattering of applause. Wade was still running through the list of covers he knew when he looked into the crowd to see Zoe sitting at a table with Lavon, AB, and Joel. For the week, he'd been leaving early in the morning, coming home even later than normal, her lights always off. Although, he assumed she wasn't living there anymore anyway, but he couldn't bear to find out for sure. To his knowledge, she avoided the Rammer Jammer, although the same could not be said for Joel, who'd been there for breakfast most days. 'Of course,' Wade realized, 'she came for Rose.'
"Thank you Dash for that lovely performance," Lemon said, as she crossed the stage from her perch on the other side. "Now, ladies and gentlemen, I am extremely proud to present the Rammer Jammer's own very talented Wade Kinsella and—" she turned her head to Wade, who loudly cleared his throat and violently shook his head 'no'. Lemon looked at him with one eyebrow raised, assessed the situation, and hardly missed a beat: "and his guitar!" The crowd perked up. It was a while since Wade performed in front of a crowd. Suddenly, his stomach was in knots. He took a deep breath and stepped onto the stage, crossing towards Lemon.
He sat on the edge of stool, his mind doubted the choice he'd made only seconds before. For grand gestures, this was about all he had. He was positioning his fingers when Lemon stood before him, her back to the crowd. Wade's eyebrows wrinkled as she bent towards him. "Trust me," she said to him leaning to him. She kissed him in front of the crowd, who hollered. His left hand moved to her waist, before he realized it was there. Once he did, he used that hand to gently push her back, hoping he didn't hurt her feelings. He knew what she was trying to do, but this was not the time.
"Well," Lemon chirped, a smile plastered on her face. She turned back to the crowd with her radiant smile and repositioned the mic stand in front of him, then crossed off stage. He gave her a small smile and tried to discreetly wipe his mouth with the back of his hand. He looked out over the crowd, avoiding Zoe's table. "Uh, this is a new thing I've been working on," he said, tentatively. He knew he couldn't say more, and wouldn't be able to look at the crowd again. He set his eyes above the bar and began to play.
He was about to start the second verse when he finally gained the confidence to look away from the wall above the bar. There was only one set of eyes he wanted to find, and when his gaze shifted to her, he was taken aback to face an empty stool. He looked at the rest of the members of the table, their eyes all focused on the door. Wade's gaze followed, and he caught the back of Zoe's hair as she left. Wade thought the message was pretty clear. He barely registered finishing the song. Even when the crowd erupted into applause Wade just stood, bowed his head slightly, and left the stage. He took his place behind the bar, sullen even when folks came to congratulate him. They seemed genuinely excited about his song, but he couldn't muster any pride.
It was a few minutes after Tom's awkward magic act when Lavon and Annabeth made their way over to Wade. Wade kept his eyes on the bar and lifted his head, "what can I getcha?"
"It was a real good song, Wade," Lavon said. Wade's head snapped up to see his friends, arms hooked through one another. Lavon looked at him with a somber look, and Annabeth had a sad smile on her face. Wade didn't want pity. He grunted in response, and hoped they would take the message and leave.
The couple looked at each other, and Annabeth turned to Wade, "we'll see you back home, right Wade?" After another noncommittal grunt, the pair left. Wade put his head down. That was about as much talking as he wanted to do for the rest of the evening.
Zoe was in the living room watching a movie when Lavon and Annabeth arrived home. She quickly stuffed the tissues scattered around her into the empty ice cream carton and wiped under her eyes for any errant tears. She knew it was pretty obvious that she'd been crying, but she might be able to pass it off as a response to the movie. It was lame, but it was her best chance.
Lavon and Annabeth entered quietly, exchanging a glance after seeing Zoe. Zoe knew they could see her puffy eyes even in the dim light. "Oh dear," Annabeth started, "I'll put a kettle on for some tea."
Lavon sat on the other side of the couch. "Z," he began, "about tonight…" he trailed off.
"There isn't much to say, Lavon. It's pretty clear, don't you think?" Annabeth reentered the room quietly and perched on the arm of the sofa, next to Lavon. She rested a hand on his shoulder, and he leaned his arm across her lap. "I missed my chance, guys. He couldn't have been more clear; singing the song he wrote for her in front of everyone? It's over. I was too late." Tears welled as she spoke and spilled over as she looked down at her hands. Zoe almost missed the look exchanged between Lavon and Annabeth. AB's eyes looked ready to pop out of her head. She nudged Lavon, who's mouth was slightly agape.
"Z," he said quietly. "The song wasn't for Lemon."
"It wasn't?" She looked up through her tears.
"You should have stayed for the second verse," he replied kindly. "It wasn't about Lemon." Annabeth squeezed his shoulder so hard that he took her hand in his. Zoe just stared at them, processing what she heard. After a few moments, she started to stand, unsure what to do next. The song wasn't for Lemon. The song about being driven nuts for a woman that was within his grasp wasn't for Lemon. It meant, she started to piece together, it meant that maybe she hadn't missed her chance. She started to walk to her house. She could feel Lavon and Annabeth stare at her, but neither spoke. Zoe couldn't think about them, she needed a plan. She knew it was time, and she wasn't going to let the opportunity pass by this time. When Lavon started to ask where she was going, Zoe mumbled something and kept walking. The couple looked at each other and shrugged. She seemed like she was on a mission.
Wade pulled in after last call. He was exhausted, and just wanted to drink his memories of the night away. As his shift wore on, he had become angrier and angrier. By now, he was practically seething at the thought of her just walking away while he laid it all on the line. In fact, he was almost sure that he never wanted to cross paths with Doctor Zoe Hart again. How he would do that in Bluebell, he wasn't sure, but it had mostly worked for a week, so maybe it wouldn't be impossible. Wade trudged up his porch steps. He reached for the door handle and stopped short before turning the handle. There was a note on the door, and his breath caught in his throat when he recognized the handwriting.
Come over it read.
He snatched the note off the door and crumpled it in his hand. He quickly opened the door, stepped through it, and slammed it behind him. He was not going to be at her beck and call. She'd said everything she needed to, and if she thought she needed to let him down easy, well, he wasn't going to be pitied by her. He paced the gatehouse, while he opened a beer. He was not going over there, no matter what.
Twenty minutes later, his resolve was weakening. He'd tried making a list in his head of all the reasons he shouldn't go over. He snuck a peek out the window to see if she was over there. There might have been some candles lit, but it didn't look like any lights were on. It didn't matter, he thought, he wasn't going over there anyway.
Five minutes later, his hand was resting on the doorknob. Three beers ran through his system, but he didn't feel any foggier than normal. In fact, he considered the thoughts in his mind to be a bit too in-focus. Before he knew it, his hand turned the handle, and he was sailing down the steps and across the dirt path.
He came through the path and was in front of her darkened house before he'd fully registered his actions. He stopped at the mouth of the path. The doubts swelled in his head. What the hell was he doing here? He took two steps forward before he pivoted back.
"I'm glad you came," he heard a small voice coming from the dark say. His back was to her, and he froze in place. He couldn't just run away now- he'd been spotted. The voice continued, "I was starting to worry you wouldn't come." Wade's shoulders slumped. He sighed as he turned around.
"I probably shouldn't've," he replied, trying to find the voice in the darkness. He vaguely saw a shape shifting on the porch steps. It looked like she was wrapped in a blanket. It occurred to Wade that the air was cool. "Sorry, Doc. I'll just be on my way," he said, and turned again.
"Wade, wait." It was the first time he'd heard her say his name in months, and it stopped him again. The anger swelled. She shouldn't be able to have this control over him, he thought.
"Dammit, Zoe," he said, facing the shape on the stairs again. He stepped into the light cast by the moon. "I'm not doing this. I'm done. I'm done with the back and forth, I'm done with the wonderin'. What is it you want, Zoe?" He spat the question, his eyes strained to read her face. He willed the tears away from his eyes.
She mumbled something in response. It frustrated him more. He moved closer, and halved the distance between them. He didn't know what to do with the feelings that swelled inside him. As much as he wanted to, he couldn't walk away. "What did you say?" he barked. His face froze when he heard her.
"You," she repeated, her face turned up in his direction. He could see her bite her lower lip. The silence between them filled with the pulsing of bullfrogs. Wade was dumbstruck. It wasn't the answer he was expecting, but there was a part of him that knew it was what he wanted. She slowly stood, and moved to the bottom step. His mind was made when she opened her arms, the blanket unwrapped around her. He took the remaining steps towards her, and closed the distance between them. His hands reached for her face, their foreheads touched, her hands wrapped around his wrists.
He started to tilt her face to his, and her hands squeezed his wrists, "it wasn't about Lemon," she whispered.
"What?" he asked, and tilted his head back. Shit. He was going to have to explain the fake relationship. And then there was her real relationship. Shit. The decisiveness of moments ago evaporated.
Unaware of his conflict, Zoe continued. "The song from tonight- it's not about Lemon."
Wade's head continued to spin. It never occurred to him that she could have thought it was about anyone but her. He looked at her, a hopeful smile played across her face in the moonlight.
"No," he said, "nothing was ever about Lemon." The trance seemed completely broken now, and his hands dropped from her face. He took a step back and rubbed his neck. He had to be honest. "Truth is, there never was a Lemon and me. It was a plan cooked up by Lemon to make you jealous so you'd break up with Joel. And, you know, since that didn't happen, Doc…" he really didn't want to have to finish the sentence, and he let his hands drop to his sides. He didn't understand why her face had moved from concern back to a sly smile.
"I don't need to break up with Joel," she replied, taking his hands. His brows furrowed. "We were never together. When I came back and Lemon was hanging all over you, I just let you think what you wanted to. I was so hurt. I came back to tell you I knew what I wanted. I came back to tell you what I should have told you months ago. I love you, Wade Kinsella."
He was going to be mad at the deception until he processed her words. A smile crept along his features, until it matched hers. He took her face in his hands again, and kissed her without hesitation. Her arms wrapped around his neck and he moved her hands to her waist and pulled her closer. After a few moments, the kiss broke and they stayed close, foreheads connected.
"I should have done this the moment I got back into town," she said, her smile huge. He nodded, and a chuckle of relief escaped his lips. He knew there was still a lot they needed to figure out, but he hadn't felt this happy in a long time. He kissed her again, this time with less urgency. She took his hands, and tugged him up the stairs, still locked in the kiss. When she opened the door, he lifted her into his arms and brought her inside.