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FNL: What Wandering Is (Tami & Tyra)

havocthecat and tinylegacies organized femme_fic 2009. I was assigned twtd, who requested a Friday Night Lights story with Tami & Tyra, using the following lyrics as a prompt: I guess I'm payin'/For the things that I have done/If I could go back/Oh, Lord knows I'd run/But I'm still losin'/This game of life I play.

Title: What Wandering Is
Author: voleuse
Fandom: Friday Night Lights
Characters: Tami Taylor & Tyra Collette
Rating: PG-13
Disclaimer: Not mine.
Summary: We were a seed, then bursting made us many. Made us tall.
Notes: Set a couple of years after 3.13

we answer without thinking
Yes even to her, the girl
drinking reflection out of the stream

Tami was supposed to care about all her students, so there was nothing strange in the way she cared about how Tyra's life went, the way she cared beyond what Julie did, sometimes. But Julie was young, and thank God, innocent. She never lost the hope in her eyes, the way Tami sometimes saw it leached out of Tyra's. She saw a part of herself in Tyra, the part that had to grow up too fast, in some ways.

So when she and Julie shared their Sunday ice cream sundaes, even after Julie went off to college herself, Tami listened carefully for news about Tyra, about how Tyra was doing. She made encouraging noises, and thoughtful expressions, and hoped that if Tyra needed help, she felt welcome to call the Taylor household.

The very first time Tyra called her, it was because Julie was out at a movie with Matt, and Tami happened to answer the phone. She asked Tyra how UT was, how she was enjoying her classes. And Tyra had laughed and complained about sociology. Tami tried to think of ways the class would be useful to Tyra, and failed.

They talked for an hour and a half, and when Eric complained while he boiled the spaghetti for dinner, Tami laughed and kissed his left shoulder.

there is a trail
to every arrival, and she follows
what she believes

Tyra didn't ever know what to say to her mama when she called home. She loved her mama, no question and no doubt, and she loved talking to her. They talked about her roommate's obsession with sandalwood, about the tear in her favorite pair of boots, about her part-time job at the bookstore, and about the basketball game she attended. After they ran out of those things, her mama would ask how her classes were going, and Tyra wouldn't know where to start.

There was the TA in her history class that kept mispronouncing Spanish names. There was the professor who always came to class five minutes late, but knew so many weird stories about colonial times that Tyra didn't mind when the class ran past noon. There was the chemistry professor who tossed models of carbon molecules at students who had drowsed off, and those three bitches in her Modern Novel class that kept tossing around criticism terms like they were name-dropping celebrities. There were late-night study sessions and her favorite nook in the library and the pen she had discovered was just perfect for writing essay exams.

She didn't know how to explain any of it to her mama, not without sounding like a geek, so she cleared her throat, and told her, "Fine. They're real good."

Her mama would hum for a second. "That's great, sweetheart. I'm proud of you." Her smile was bright enough to hear over the phone.

And Tyra would nod, even though her mama couldn't see her, and promise to call again in a couple of days.

And after she talked to her mama, she called Mrs. Taylor to tell her everything she thought her mama wouldn't understand.

this is the root to finding, here
are the strange tracks
of another that lead to a clearing

One Thursday evening, Tami spent forty-five minutes chatting with Tyra while snapping peas and nudging the lasagna in the oven. They talked about movies, and crazy literature professors, and then Tyra invited her to come see a play, something written by the ex-boyfriend of her roommate.

"That's so sweet, Tyra," Tami replied, her hands stilling against the oven's door.

"It's nothing, Mrs. T," Tyra said. "My roommate's going home this weekend, so you wouldn't even have to stay at a motel, if you didn't want to."

Tami told her she'd think about it, and they talked about Riggins' Rigs for a few more minutes before Tyra had to run to a chemistry tutorial.

Later, over dinner, she mentioned Tyra's call, and her voice trailed off. Eric looked up from his meatloaf. "What?"

Tami shrugged. "It's nothing. It's silly. Tyra invited me to visit her, see some play a friend of hers is doing."

He looked at her, eyes flicking from her eyes to her mouth to her hands. "Julie isn't coming home this weekend, right?" he asked.

Tami nodded.

"Well." He scooped another forkful of mashed potatoes into his mouth, chewed slowly for a minute. "You know, it's the off-season."

"I know," Tami replied.

"I could watch Gracie this weekend, if you want."

Tami tipped her head at Eric. Tapped her fork against her plate.

"You could drive out on Saturday, see the play," he continued. "Drive back Sunday afternoon, maybe." He snagged his glass of water, tilted it toward her for a second. "If you want."

She laughed, and he smiled. She rose from her chair, leaned across the table and kissed him. "You are a wonderful husband."

"I know," he said. "I hope you remember that the next time you accuse me of not communicating."

Tami snorted, and from her high chair, Gracie threw green beans at them.

On Saturday morning, she drove out of town with her windows rolled down, the wind playing against her face. She turned on the radio and tuned away from the news, twisted the knob until she found music she recognized. She turned the volume up and sang, off-tune, and squinted her eyes as the sun shone down.

we know what wandering is.
We know how to follow,
and we stay.

The play was horrible, which Tyra expected, but she didn't expect Mrs. T to stifle giggles through the entire second act. When they could finally escape, two and a half hours later, Mrs. T leaned against the side of the auditorium and let out a long breath.

"Tyra, honey," she said, "I am so glad your roommate dumped the guy who wrote that."

Tyra scratched the back of her neck and grinned. "We should do something fun," she responded.

Mrs. T looked at the streaky night sky. "I don't know," she said.

Tyra pulled out her cell phone. "Sheila, this girl from my history class, she knows this place, real classy, where we could go dancing. She swears by it. I'll call her and she'll meet us there."

"I don't know," Mrs. T repeated.

Tyra looked up, raised her eyebrows. "I'm twenty-one, Mrs. T. I promise."

Mrs. T laughed, one quick peal, and that was how Tyra knew she won.

It was fun, more fun than she had expected, and hours later, or maybe less, they ended up at a wine bar splitting a bottle of 43. Sheila went to the ladies room, and Tyra leaned back in her chair and smirked. "I was right," she said.

"You were right," Mrs. T said. "But don't tell Julie I danced with that boy, okay?"

"He was cute," Tyra pointed out. "And didn't he ask for your number?"

"Tyra Collette," Mrs. T said, "I would never."

Tyra raised her glass and grinned. "I swear I will never tell Julie."

Mrs. T clinked their glasses and grinned. "Agreed."

"Tell me something, Mrs. Taylor," she said. She set her glass down and folded her arms. "Are you happy? In Dillon?"

Mrs. Taylor blinked, but then she smiled into her glass. "I am, Tyra," she replied. "I most certainly am."

Tyra believed her, saw the truth in her smile. "I'm glad," she said, and she was.

"But Tyra, girl," Mrs. Taylor continued, "I hope you never come back to Dillon. Not to stay. We miss you, but you really shouldn't."

And Tyra nodded, and she saw the truth in that, too. She cleared her throat, and picked up her glass again. "I bet we can convince Sheila we need another bottle," she said.

Mrs. T shook her head and groaned, but Tyra poured her another glass, and they drank.


A/N: Title, summary, and headings adapted from Jennifer Chang's The Forest on Second Thought. Link courtesy of breathe_poetry.

Originally posted at femme_fic.


( 3 comments — Leave a comment )
May. 21st, 2009 08:01 pm (UTC)
That was utterly perfect. I love Tami/Tyra, and how the latter is slowly turning into the former, and how it is completely awesome.
Jun. 17th, 2009 06:12 am (UTC)
Oh, I love these two so much! And I love this look into the future. <333
Aug. 31st, 2012 08:06 pm (UTC)
This was perfect! I loved the 'I would never' I read it in her voice in my head.
( 3 comments — Leave a comment )

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