Fic: 'Cause Your Favorite Shade is Navy Blue (4/4)
Fandom: Friday Night Lights
Characters/Pairings: Matt Saracen/Julie Taylor
Word Count: ~26,600 total
Rating: light R
Summary: five years in the life of Julie Taylor; spoilers for all five seasons.
A/N: this is basically a collection of "behind the scenes" moments between Matt and Julie throughout the series. It's nothing too terribly exciting, but it was a lot of fun to write! I hope it's not too boring! title and lyrics are from Owl City's "If My Heart Was a House."
But only days after her parents happily welcome her home, they expect her to go back.
She doesn't know why she does it, why she crashes the car. It just happens.
She starts to panic, and she can't handle any of this. College was supposed to be the start of everything, but instead her whole life has spiralled out of control. She isn't at a school she loves, she hasn't made any amazing friends, hasn't done or seen any amazing things; all she's done is had an affair with a married man, and now she's crashed her car. How did this happen? How?
And it's not like her crashed car even fixes anything. Her mom still plans to drive her back.
She tells her mom. She needs to tell someone. Her mom does always say that Julie can talk to her about anything. She needs advice. She needs her mom. Maybe it's a bad idea. But who else does she have to talk to? It's stupid, though. To tell her parents was stupid, and what she did —
That was so stupid, too. On top of everything else, she's been such an idiot.
(She finally understands the appeal of throwing herself in the path of an oncoming train.)
Her mother asks her about her choices, and — and she doesn't know about her choices. She doesn't fit in at college. She doesn't fit in anywhere. Her house isn't even really like home anymore, and she can't really blame her parents for that, but still she can't go back, not until she has a plan.
Her dad tries to her force her into the car, and she holes up in her room, and —
And she really, really misses Matt. She wants so much to see him, to talk to him, to have him make her feel good again, but that's the past, and she's supposed to be focused on the future, on what she has to do next. He's her best friend, or he was, and she just really needs her best friend.
It honestly takes her by complete surprise when Derek has the guts to come to Dillon, and then when she finally agrees to talk to him, he patronises her, telling her that the older she gets, the more she'll realise how rare a real connection with a person is. She wants to put all of this on him.
But it's her own stupid mistakes that messed everything up.
And, really, Derek actually helps her realise something. He talks about how he needs to do what his heart really wants, even if it's not the expected way, even if it means he quits his job and divorces his wife, and that makes her think about how she needs to do what her heart really wants.
He admits that he came to Dillon for her. He's a smart, talented guy, but he isn't afraid to go after what he wants, and why should she be? Of course, he isn't what she wants. She isn't in love with him. Maybe she could have been, but it didn't happen, and she knows it never will.
She already loves somebody else.
(She knows how rare a connection is, and she knows what it feels like. It feels like Matt Saracen.)
The stairwell smells like coffee, and she wants to cry. But she takes a deep breath, and she climbs the stairs, and she knocks nervously on his door, having found the address via an awkward phone call with Landry. Matt opens the door, and his surprised smile is everything she's needed for weeks.
He invites her in, and their conversation is awkward at first, and so is his hesitant hug.
But he's still Matt, and she doesn't feel out of place here with him.
She tries to play it cool around him, tries to act like her whole life isn't a mess, especially as he shows her his amazing life. He takes her to the studio where he works, and he takes her to breakfast with one of his favourite professors, and he shows her some of his latest art work.
He's done a lot with paint lately, and it's really, really good. This city has been so good for him.
But what about her? She loves this city, loves the places she takes him, how he even knows a vegan place where she can eat while he enjoys an authentic Chicago hot dog, and she wants so much to kiss him as he teases her, to kiss him and taste hot dog and feel his smile against her lips.
He makes her sleep in his bed while he takes the couch, and it smells like him. She pulls the sheets up over her head and tries to drown in the smell of him, even as she tries not to hate how perfect it would have been if only she hadn't turned him down last year, if only she had taken the ticket he offered and started out her own life here. Is it too late for that? It is. She's his friend now; that's it.
He's moved on from his first love and started to follow his dreams and experienced life.
She's the one who couldn't actually handle it all.
She finally comes clean to him, pours out her feelings, unable to help herself. He tries to understand, and she has to say something, has to tell how much it sucks that all her big plans for college and life out in the world came to nothing, how much it sucks that, as happy as she is for him, he's moved on from her.
And then he admits he hasn't.
His kiss makes her feel dizzy, but he only smiles a little, eyes shining. She kisses him again. She could kiss him for years, could stand forever in this very spot if it meant she never had to stop.
Before long, though, she takes his hand.
She doesn't know what happens tomorrow, but she knows what happens tonight.
His apartment is only two blocks a way, and she nearly takes off at a run. He laughs, warming the moment before bring their intertwined hands up so he can kiss her fingers. Her heart turns over, and she rocks up to kiss him again softly. Moments later, she starts to tug him along down the street again.
As he unlocks the door, hands fumbling with the keys, she runs her own hands up and down his arms, because she has to touch him, has to be as close to him as she can at every moment, and he turns a little to look at her as the door swings open. She kisses him again, her tongue delving into his mouth, because she can, because he's always been hers, and she's so happy that hasn't changed.
The kiss takes her breath away, makes her heady with the need of him. But he draws back, breathing hard. "I'm still in love with you," he says, like he needs her to know just how much.
She kisses him. "I'm still in love with you, too," she echoes, voice thicker than she'd intended.
He takes her face in his hands, and she clutches his wrists with her own hands as he tilts her chin up a little and he kisses her, slow and sweet. She moves her hands down his arms and down his torso and finally under his jacket to slide around his back and hold him securely against her. "You know," she murmurs into his lips, "your bed is actually inside the apartment."
He laughs, breaking the kiss and ducking his head down.
"But, I mean, here's good too."
He looks back at her, amused, and she tilts her head playfully. He grins as he kisses her again.
She leads him into the apartment, holding his gaze with her own, not letting him look away even as he shuts the door. She kisses him again, because she can, because she needs to, and it takes him too long to lock the door, so she covers his hand with her own and bolts the door herself.
And then they walk backwards towards the bed, discarding their coats as they go, and when her calves hit the bed, she sinks down. He presses kisses along her jaw and down her throat, and she curls her hands around his shoulders as heat and love spiral inside her so that she needs him.
His kisses reach the top of her cleavage, and she tries to unzip her dress, reaching around to her back, but he only nuzzles her breasts and then moves down further. He runs his hands down her legs and then takes off her heels, and he kisses her ankle before he starts to kiss his way up her calf, and soon enough his hands slip up under her dress to pull down her underwear.
His mouth on her in the first time in almost a year makes the whole world tilt.
"Matty," she breathes, somehow on her back, hands clutching the sheets of his bed.
He murmurs something, his breath hot, the vibrations of his voice too much for her.
She melts when the world finally turns all the way upside down, and she smiles lazily up at him when he stands, a proud smile on his face. She giggles. "You've missed me, haven't you?" she asks.
"I've missed you," he confirms, voice raw and honest. "There's nobody like you, Jules."
She crooks her finger at him. He tears off his shirt, so eager that she laughs again. She feels giddy, because she does fit into his life, and this — this urgency to be with him that still feels so easy and so natural and so loving, this is how it should be, how sex should be, how love should be.
She finally manages to discard her dress, and he shucks his pants and his boxers, and she laughs at him when he scrambles on top of her with his socks still on. He muffles the sound with his mouth, his hands greedy on her. She feels the muscles of his back under her own hands, and the playfulness that emerged somewhere between that desperate kiss out in the street and here fades again, because oh, God, has she missed him, missed everything about him, everything that he is.
He panics for a moment when he thinks he doesn't have any condoms, and she likes what that means but starts to panic with him when she realises what that means at this moment, because if he isn't inside of her soon, now that he's worked her up to a frenzy once more, she might not live —
But he finds a condom, and she rolls it on for him.
Her eyes are open and on his when he thrusts into her, and she can see his breath catch, his mouth open slightly, and they fall into a rhythm easily, because they've done this before; they know each other too well to need more than a moment to relearn each other. It'll never be like it is with Matt.
(She really can say that with certainty now. And she wouldn't have it any other way, not really.)
After, their legs tangled, his face so close to his she can see the tiny lines and marks and freckles on his face that she knows so well, she wonders to herself what this means for the future.
She knows what it means in away, know it means that no matter how hard they try, they'll always end up back with each other, because they work, and they love each other, and he really is her best friend. She whispers that to him, and he smiles, moves just enough to kiss her lightly.
"You're mine, too," he says. "But don't tell Landry."
She giggles and lazily rubs her thumb against the bare skin of his hip.
Can she stay in Chicago? How hard would it be to transfer to a school out here? Maybe she can just start her freshmen year all over. She can quit this semester, she can work in Chicago next semester, and she can apply for the fall to a Chicago school. If her parents don't want to pay, that's fine — that's why God invented loans, isn't it?
"I wish you could stay here," he murmurs, as if he knows her thoughts.
It makes her breath catch a little, because the way he says it — as if there's no possibility she can.
She kisses him and saves an answer for tomorrow.
He takes her confession so lightly.
But later that night, when they tumble into bed again, he isn't as gentle, or as playful, or as needy — isn't like last night, isn't like he was in their stolen moments back in Dillon when they were kids.
He kisses her a little more insistently, more possessively, and he never says it, but she understands. She knows how boys work, knows how Matt works. He might not judge her for what she did, might not lose it like her parents did, but as much as she hates the idea that any girl would ever touch Matt, he must feel the same way about her, must hate that any other man touched her.
And when she stands in front of the mirror and looks at the trail of teeth marks, of shining hickeys sloping along her shoulder and her neck and the top of her breast, she really doesn't mind.
She's always been his, really, from the moment he happily, impulsively kissed her at fifteen.
It makes her heart recoil away from him when he so abruptly says that he can't be her safety net.
Is that really what he thinks? And then he tells her that she can't stay here. Why not? Isn't that what he wanted? And if he still loves her, then why wouldn't he want her to stay? She feels like he slapped her, and she can't even really look at him.
(But maybe he's right. She has to go back to school, has to deal with everything, has at least to finish the semester. And she really can't disappoint her parents anymore. They deserve better than that. Still. . . .)
She leaves as soon as she can, because if he doesn't want her to be here, she won't be here. It's stilted and wrong the way they say goodbye, but there's so much between them that neither of them know or understand or have the courage to say, so stilted and wrong is the best they can do.
Their parting hug is as awkward as their greeting hug, nothing changed, nothing resolved.
But then he doesn't let it end like that, and he finally says what no one has. It's all gonna be okay.
Their last kiss is more desperate than any they've shared before.
He chases the car and pulls her out, and when they kiss, it's like it's the last chance he'll ever have to kiss her, like he needs to prove in this single kiss how much he loves her and how hard this is for him and how much he honestly, really, truly wishes she could stay.
It's all in that kiss, so bittersweet when it ends.
Her roommate is shocked when Julie walks in. "I'm back," Julie announces.
Kim grins. "Hell yeah, you are," she replies, and because Julie knows it's what her roommate wants, she tells her about Derek and their relationship as best she can. Kim doesn't look down on her at all, and some people do, some people stare and point, but most people don't seem to care.
A few girls even talk about how they'd do the same — just look at him, they say.
They're all crazy, but it's not as bad as Julie thought it would be. It only takes a couple of weeks for the scandal to die down completely, and when Kim is out on a date, Julie finally calls her mom.
She hasn't talked to her since she left, and she knows it must have taken her mother a lot of self-control not to call before now. (It's certainly taken Julie a lot of self-control not to call Matt, but she needs to figure out her own life before they can figure out theirs, and then she'll call him.)
"Hey, hon," her mom greets, cautiously happy. "How are you?"
"I'm okay," Julie says. "I only have two weeks of classes left until finals."
"Are you ready for them?"
"I will be." It's quiet for a moment before Julie continues as casually as she can. "I kind of have to confess something," she says. Her mother doesn't reply, waiting. "I'm back at school now, but when I left I didn't —I didn't go straight back to school." Still, her mother says nothing. "I went to Chicago for a few days.''
"Chicago," her mother repeats. Julie waits. "Matt Saracen is in Chicago, isn't he?"
"Yeah," Julie says. "And it was really, really good to see him. Even after everything that's happened, he's still my best friend. And I really needed my best friend." She pauses, trying to work out the right way to explain everything. "I'm sorry I lied to you. I just was too scared to come back here, but Matt — he made me finally see what you and Dad tried to make me see — that I couldn't keep running, and that I just . . . I had to deal with everything."
"That's good, sweetheart," her mother says softly. "I'm glad." It's quiet. "Is he well?"
"Yeah, he's really well. He loves it there, and, seriously, Mom, Chicago is amazing."
"It is a pretty cool city," her mom agrees.
Julie turns over in bed, cradling the phone to her ear. "I really am sorry," she murmurs. "I know I've been really stupid and — and immature and — selfish, and I hate that I put you and Dad through that."
"It's okay, Jules," her mother assures softly. "You've already started to make it right."
"I just —" She sighs. "I'm just so frustrated, Mom. I always had all these big plans for when I left Texas and went to college and experienced the world, but — but it's not happening the way I thought it would, and I miss Dillon more than I thought I would, and I don't really love my classes, and I don't know what I want to do or to —"
"Honey, plans change," her mother says.
"I know, but it's just. . . ."
"It is." She swallows thickly. "It's really hard."
"You know, I've always loved that you have such big dreams," her mom says. "You love books and art and want to travel, and I've always admired that. I've always been proud of that. But, hon, life isn't something you can really plan. All you can do is try your best to find what makes you happy, even if it isn't what people expected, or what you expected."
"Yeah, except I though that and I then I ended up sleeping with a married T.A." The words come out bitter and sharp, and she doesn't really mean to say them.
"We all make mistakes," her mother replies. "It's how we learn maturity. That's not something that just comes part and parcel with age, honey. It's something we have to experience. You made a mistake, but you've realised that, and you're trying to rectify it. That's what matters."
Julie presses her lips together, wiping at a stray tear.
"And, you know," her mother continues, voice a little lighter, "I seem to remember a fourteen-year-old girl that told me it was stupid when girls in high school claimed to fall in love, because that's not how the real world worked, and your dad and I were just an exception to the rule."
"And then I met Matt," Julie says.
"And then you met Matt," her mother repeats, and Julie smiles. "He wasn't in the plans either."
It's quiet again, a better, softer quiet.
"What do I do now?" Julie finally asks.
"Now? You do what you've been doing, girl! You don't worry about what you're supposed to do according to some plan. You do what's good, and mature, and what makes you happy. You finish out the semester, and you live your life. And any time you feel overwhelmed, or like you don't know what to do, you give your mother a call, okay?"
"Okay," Julie says. "I think I can do that."
"Yeah," her mom says, and Julie can imagine her smile at that moment, "I think you can too."
The rest of her semester actually goes pretty well.
She and Kim hang out a little, but she makes other friends, too, from a project group, and they're all the kind of cool people she thought she would meet in college. She goes to a few parties, and they're all super lame, but she and some girls go to an art show one weekend, and that's awesome.
She has a lot of work to catch up on, but she's pretty sure she passed all her finals, so she can't have come out of the semester too terribly. She can make up for it if she does. Who does well first semester, anyway?
And then she comes home on the right terms, her parents so happy to see her.
She texts Matt to tell him that she's down in Dillon.
They haven't really talked since she visited him, but they've exchanged a few e-mails and a few texts, making stupid jokes or updating each other on random parts of their lives, like when she aces a paper or when he meets an artist he loves. It's not nothing, at least.
It really just makes her miss him more, but she'll take whatever piece of him she can have right now.
It's not in the plan, and it's not what someone her age is supposed to do, but she doesn't care.
The whole car ride back to her house, she can't take her eyes off the ring, and when he pulls up into her drive way, she playfully holds her hand out. He raises an eyebrow at her, but he takes her hand.
"Oh, hello," she says, shaking his hand, "what a pleasure to meet you. I'm Julie Saracen."
He smiles so proudly that she has to kiss him.
It's hard to see her parents go through something so hard, but that's the thing, see — they've faced hard situations before, but they're still together, because they love each other, and they're good for each other, and at the end of the day they're still each other's best friends.
And she knows that she and Matt can have that, too.
She needs her parents to see that. Yes, they're young. Yes, they'll probably still make some stupid mistakes. Yes, they have a lot more to figure out. But they can do handle everything together.
Her parents finally listen to her, and she knows they aren't really that supportive yet, but they'll come around. She's made some stupid mistakes in her life, but Matt's never been one of them. And the moment she starts to doubt any of it, he reassures her, makes her even more sure of them both.
On Christmas Eve, she sleepily smiles at a text from Matt and then suddenly catches sight of her father standing in her bedroom doorway. He offers her a small smile, and she sits up in bed, pulling her knees up to her chest, and moments later he sinks down on the edge of the bed.
"It'll be Christmas in twenty-two minutes," she murmurs.
"Yeah," he says. He sighs, running a hand over his hair. "It's really hard to see you grow up."
"I know," she whispers.
"I just want you to be a little girl forever, and . . . if I have to give you away to somebody, Matt Saracen isn't a bad choice. I just thought you'd stay a little girl for longer."
He's going to make her cry. "I'll always be your little girl," she says.
He wraps her up in a hug, and she presses her eyes closed against tears as she buries her face in his chest. "Yeah," he murmurs, "you will be. You'll always be my baby girl."
She finishes out the year at Burlington.
It isn't a terrible school, and it gives her a chance to apply for transfer to some schools in Chicago. She misses Matt a lot, but she has a ring on her finger, and she can text him and Skype with him and see him on breaks, and this way they can prove to everyone that they're not rushing into anything. And, finally, when summer dawns, her dad helps her move to Chicago.
The air conditioning in their apartment breaks after only two weeks, so they spend an entire Sunday afternoon lazily sprawled out on the floor in their underwear, trying to let the heat rise above them as they talk about what happens next.
They both have school to finish. "But I always thought it'd be cool to marry in the wintertime," she tells him.
"Sure," she says. "It's my favourite season."
"This winter?" he asks.
She tilts her head to look at him. "Yeah. We have the summer to plan."
He nods. "Let's do it."
She wants to kiss him, but she's too lazy. She blows him a kiss from a foot away, and he chuckles, eye dropping closed. She lets her eyes flicker closed too, sighing and whining about the heat again, just because.
This city is huge, and it's the first real city she's ever lived in. It takes a little while to become accustomed to how different it is, to how quickly it turns cold, to the bustle, to the style, to the unfamiliarity of it all. Her school is completely different, too, and it's a whole new start.
But she comes home every day to Matt, to somebody who knows music, and art, and literature. And he listens to her talk about her day, and sometimes they go to the movies or to a museum or to a show, and sometimes they simply sit on the steps outside his apartment, eat sandwiches and smell coffee, and listen to a football game on the radio.
And they argue now and then, too, about whether he should quit school to focus on art, or whether or not they serve meat at the wedding, and why he can't just invite Smash to stay at the apartment for two weeks and not tell her until Smash shows up.
Still, he's the love of her life. And that's more than enough.
It makes me smile because you said it best,
I would clearly feel blessed,
If the sun rose up from the west.
Flower balm perfume,
All my clothes smell like you,
'Cause your favorite shade is navy blue.
Circle me and the needle moves gracefully,
Back and forth.
If my heart was a compass, you'd be North.
Risk it all, 'cause I'll catch you if you fall,
Wherever you go,
If my heart was a house, you'd be home.
part 1. part 2. part 3.