Lily wasn’t big on technology. Sure, the internet was wonderful and convenient and amazing, but Lily preferred human interaction, thats why she’d become an actor. And it was also why she didn’t really pay attention to screens that much, and why this situation happened in the first place.
She hadn’t meant to send that tweet. She hadn’t even meant to send a tweet. For the last few days she’d been typing and retyping the same message to James over and over again, trying to somehow break the ice between them.
Today she’d opened up her twitter to write about bluebirds, for God’s sake, and she’d ended up accidentally tweeting the message whole world. fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck. Lily wasn’t big on cursing, but this situation warranted it. Of course she deleted it immediately after, but with 300,000 followers, she knew she would be kidding herself if someone hadn’t seen it. She only hoped that one would ever tell James about it.
The tweet in question:
a follow up from thescarythoughtsofawriter, who had the brilliant idea!
This happens three weeks after they wrap, during a particularly stormy week.
It’s raining and she’s thinking of him.
The pattering on the window and the hushed howl of the wind is in the background as she imagines him and her, her and him in another scene, except this one doesn’t feel like scene, and they aren’t acting. She can see the water dripping down his nose and she feels the cold seeping into her skin, drenching her toes and bringing her closer to him, as if she can’t help herself. This time is different. This rain is real. These feelings aren’t fake. And his lips are more hers than they ever were before.
The beeping on her oven jolts her awake, shattering the illusion, and suddenly she’s all alone. She’s dry and the glaring light of the kitchen mocks her even more than her burnt dinner.
Three weeks after they wrap, Los Angeles experiences an uncharacteristically long rainy season.
There are things you should be able to talk about with your best friend, but when your best friend practically canonized a portmanteau for a relationship you don’t even have, you hold back a little. So Lily doesn’t really have anyone she can call at the end of the day and say, “ugh, I just really miss kissing.”
She’s pretty sure Pam would think that’s bullshit, anyway, given that she does enough professionally-obligated kissing to fill the void, and there’s no use protesting that it’s not the same. When it comes to kissing for a role, it’s not her moment. It’s the characters and their great, sweeping gestures, their at last moments, their first times, last times, what if it’s our only times. And while those are all experiences that Lily has had (or wants to), and they’re romantic and satisfying and sweet, that’s not what she misses. Those are great things to have, but Lily wants the in-between times.
She wants the kiss goodbye in the morning, hurried but sweet, as he’s on his way to set and she’s just out of the shower, both of them craning around the door so her wet hair doesn’t drip on his pants.
She wants to make out in the kitchen, waiting for the frozen pizza to bake, with someone who won’t roll his eyes over the gluten-free crust and daiya “cheeze,” someone who pulls her up on her tiptoes with his arms around her waist.
She wants that Saturday afternoon, when she’ll come home from a shoot to find him napping on the couch, with just enough room for her between him and the cushions for her to curl up against him. His tee shirt might hitch up a little over his stomach as he shifts in his sleep, adjusting all those long limbs to gather her close. And when he wakes, there will be sleepy kisses and his fingers in her hair, the rasp of his stubble against her skin, the rumble of his laugh in his chest against hers.
It’s normal, she thinks, to long for something like that. She’s a twentysomething single woman, successful in her job and her art, and she meets interesting people all the time. So few of them know her. She wants one that does, that really, really knows her. Someone kissing Lily without waiting for the “cut.”
Sometimes Lily wonders what could possibly be left for them, as Lily and James, after all the lifetimes they’ve portrayed opposite each other. After all the different eras, arguments, grand gestures, each leading up to an unforgettable kiss – how could regular old Lily and James follow that up? What if once they left the sets behind, and all the costumes and scripted lines that forced them to be in the moment, there was nothing left?
It’s when he’s telling her the merits of Battlestar between takes, with an excited gleam in his eyes that she hasn’t quite seen before (and right now she wants to keep it there as long as she can), that she realizes that none of that matters. Because no matter how many relationships they’ve already played, or will play in the future, the story of Lily Everett and James Porter would be different. Is different.
But it’s not a story she can tell by herself.
And James telling her to ask him to stay (no, George asking Mary) feels a little too real. Maybe they are their characters, just a little bit.
Mary pulls George back to her.
Lily awkwardly walks away.
They’re not their characters at all.
You know about Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn, right?
Duh. Who hasn’t? …why?
They remind of them. You know. The two leads.
James rolled his eyes at the conversation between the two PAs as the set was breaking down for the night. It wasn’t the first comparison he’d heard about Lily and himself to the most legendary of Hollywood couples. Sara, in her embrace of all things vintage these days, has been mentioning them on and off in their scattered emails, making her own exaggerated comparisons. There had even been a small amount of them cropping up in the Hollywood hipster blogs. It wouldn’t be long until the tabloids caught on.
He was familiar with the couple but had only ever taken the time to watch ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’ as his sisters always seemed to watch it whenever it was on TCM.
Was it so great to be compared to though, he wondered, walking to his car? Spencer was a noted alcoholic—Katharine hadn’t even attended her great love’s funeral out his respect for Spencer’s wife and family. Katharine had stated once she wasn’t sure of Spencer’s true feelings for her. But together they had remained for twenty-seven years, in spite of everything working against them.
James sees Lily give him a little wave as she drives off from the parking lot that he returns and he registers he’s made the right decision in this being their last project together. It’ll take some time but the tabloids and the fangirls will lay off and find other people to ship. They’ll find other ‘Katharine Hepburns and Spencer Tracys’ to take his and Lily’s places.
There are a few things James does know that make him and Lily much different than the well known love duo. He is not an alcoholic and has a method for his acting, while Spencer always insisted he did not. Lily does not have to work nearly as hard as Katharine did in understanding her characters—she manages to make them fit no matter what.
But, the chemistry is real and true, just as Katharine and Spencer’s was and Spencer had not initially liked Katharine but had been drawn to her over time
Their love story played out over nine movies, as it couldn’t in their real lives.
James, for the first time in his acting career, is tired of acting these six lives and loves with Lily at his side. Sick of reading the words scripted for him when real words between them are hard and haphazard. He’s done with living in a world of pretend with Lily that’s crafted for an audience’s amusement where his lines between fiction and reality are blurred. It would be easier, so much easier, with anyone else, he knows.
He makes a note to tell his agent to lay off the romance auditions for awhile. A zombie or horror film, maybe, just to shake things up. Lily had spoken something to him between takes about an upcoming chemistry test for a lead in of a film adaptation of a book called ‘Fangirl.’
They’re not going to be Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn starring in ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner?’
They’re going to be James Porter and Lily Everett starring in ‘Separate and Real Lives.’
Things are just a little too real this time.
It’s not the kiss, or the dialogue, or the way his fingers grip her tightly, the way his hands press her body impossibly closer to his.
Okay, fine—it is somewhat all of those things, Lily is inclined to admit, but mostly other things, too.
Like, for example, the rumors of a contract for a huge media franchise with a line for James’s signature at the bottom.
She doesn’t know if he’s taking the deal—she doesn’t even know if the gossip is true. (Except…there’s something about Pam’s sudden obsession with her phone and weird sympathetic looks that is making her increasingly anxious. She refuses to ask and has drawn the line at stealing her friend’s mobile device, but that line is deteriorating as quickly as sidewalk chalk in the rain.) It’s enough to get her thinking, though: she’s spent so much time dreading the inevitable co-starred productions that Lily hasn’t even thought about the day when that inevitability will become obsolete. What, did she think they’d be working together for the rest of their lives?
You don’t know what you have until it’s gone, blah, blah, blah—Lily feels like she might puke.
She doesn’t ask him for the truth, though. She doesn’t ask him, but if her eyes are just a little bit wider, her words just a little more sincere—well, it’s not for nothing. Yeah, okay, so maybe she doesn’t pull away immediately when the cut is called. So what? Neither does he.
She remembers how Pam once said that James is just himself; she remembers thinking that the only person Lily has ever wanted to be is herself. She doesn’t want to be a character in a 60’s movie, or a 50’s movie, or any other decade for that matter. She doesn’t want to live as Anne or Olivia or Annabel. She wants to live as Lily—just Lily. She wants kisses in the rain and kisses in the sun and kisses indoors, for God’s sake. She wants infuriating arguments and coffee dates on Sundays and to tease him mercilessly every time he takes a bite of food because doesn’t he just hate it? She doesn’t want grand gestures. She doesn’t want a boy with a boom box standing outside her window. She wants something better.
She wants him.
So no, she doesn’t ask him about the rumored contract or the likelihood of his departure or an opportunity that would launch him into permanent orbit among the stars. Because the way he’s touching her feels too much like goodbye already, and Lily has learned not to ask questions if she’s not ready for the answers. This answer—Lily’s not sure if she’ll ever be ready for this answer.
"It was nice working with you this time."
James paused. Only this time?
He tilted his head before shrugging it off. “Not bad, Porter, not bad.”
He’d take what he could get, in all honesty. He was glad that she enjoyed working with him at least once, especially since it would be their final production together. He had half a second to ponder over the bittersweet feeling of their inevitable departure (not that she knew that, of course), except Lily had started to talk again, drawing him away from his thoughts.
He missed the first half of what she’d been saying while he had been cherishing the moment for what it was.
She was talking about eighties movies, and so he said the first name that came to mind when it came to the eighties. Never mind that she was talking about Cusack and he was talking about Hughes. She didn’t correct him, in any case.
She was laughing.
He didn’t realize quite how much he liked when she laughed with him. He reveled in the feeling.
He’d miss this. It was surprising, if not slightly alarming how much he’d miss something he didn’t know he needed until right now.
His smile faltered when he realized that this was precisely the reason that he was never going to do another production with Lily again.
Their awkward silence was back, before they simultaneously said, “I should go.”
It took less than a minute after that, that the director called them back, chastising the both of them for almost taking off before they had finished.
A/N: Someone pointed out that the director said they’d be doing another take and I want to credit them but I can’t find their post?? So like if anyone knows I’d like to credit for that. Also credit to ash barrios in the youtube comments for the sixth episode for pointing out that it wasn’t John Hughes!
He doesn’t tell her that it’ll be their last together.
It’s partly because he doesn’t want to make their last project together a bittersweet one; he doesn’t want things to change from their little version of normality.
But it’s also partly because he’s afraid she won’t care. He’s afraid that she’ll break his illusion of the hovering tension between them. He’s afraid that she’ll take his words and turn them against him.
Not that he wouldn’t deserve it. The residual guilt still remains, and even though it hurts a little every time he looks at her, he knows it’s not just the guilt anymore.
It’s eating him up inside, being with her.
And if it hurts so much when he’s with her, he can’t fathom how much it’ll hurt without her. But that’s a gamble he’s willing to take. It’s a gamble that he needs to take.