Lyla is the last to move in. She tells her parents she's moving off campus with one of her college friends.
"Can't tell them you rented a place with two guys you're not married to, huh, Garrity?"
Lyla's scowl is prettily fierce, as she drops one more cardboard box on the tiled kitchen floor. "Yeah? Cause it would be so much better if I were marrying both of you, huh?"
Street rolls up to Lyla where she's standing, and slides one strong hand up Lyla's leg. It distracts her long enough for Tim to put a hand around her waist and kiss her till she's not mad anymore.
He doesn't mean to give her a hard time. It's just another thing he does that he can't help.
Besides, it's not like Street tells his folks either. Billy didn't even ask him where he was headed as he was leaving, so it's not like Tim really knows how that is.
Tyra is the one that helps Lyla move in, and she and Lyla make Tim carry in mountains of boxes. Lyla has more stuff than Tim has ever dreamed of owning. Tyra gives Tim a dirty look every time she walks by him, like this whole thing is Tim's fault somehow.
Tim only shrugs. No one could ever make Lyla Garrity do anything she didn't want to do.
Moving here wasn't his idea, and pretty much every day Tim thinks of getting in his truck and going home. Before Street moved down here, and Lyla after him, Tim had been to Austin once in his whole life. Dillon is shit, and always will be, but this city is an alien planet. But there's nothing he can do about that now.
Lyla circles the want ads for him in the newspaper and leaves it on the dining table, underneath his half-finished bottle of Miller. So Tim's probably not going anywhere.
Tim reads them through, though not when she's home to see. Jason works now at a community center down the street, and Lyla prays every night before they go to bed, but that won't pay their bills.
They have a place on the first floor of a tiny apartment building near Concordia University. It has no stairs at the entrance, and what Street calls cripple doors, with those little buttons that he can push to get in. The little old lady across the hall stares at him every time she sees him coming or going, but Tim just nods back at her.
He never gave much thought to what people were thinking of him anyways.
The first thing that Lyla does when she moves in is redecorate, starting with the stupid girly curtains she makes Tim hang in every room. The kitchen drawers fill with shit that Tim doesn't recognize. He and Billy managed just fine with the same single pot for years.
She's got so much stuff that it barely fits into the lower cupboards.
"You can put that pasta thingie on the top shelf if you want, Lyla." Street grins at her. "I don't reckon I'll be needing that."
"Whatever." Lyla only answers with the slow, exasperated smile that she gives both of them sometimes. Tim dips a hand into the mixing bowl, and that gets her attention, but his fingers still come away covered in brownie mix. "Stop that."
"Yeah, leave some for me, Riggins." Street reaches out for Tim's hand, bringing Tim's curled fingers to his mouth. Tim holds perfectly still as Street's tongue licks the dark batter off Tim's knuckles.
"Good?" Tim asks him.
"I think I want more," Street answers. His smile is wicked. The first time Street ever looked at him like that, Tim thought for sure he was imagining things.
Tim reaches for the bowl again, but Lyla is faster this time.
"These are for later," she tells them, and takes a step back, leaving Street holding onto Tim's hand.
They go to see Smash play one Saturday, a windy October game against Oklahoma State. They win twenty-eight to sixteen, and Smash talks about nothing else for the rest of the night. Tim finally tells him to shut up.
"Whatever, man." Smash leans his arm over the back of Lyla's chair in Pizza Hut, and Lyla smiles politely like always. "You're just jealous."
For the first time in his whole life, though, Tim can say that he sort of like things how they are. It's Street that gets the lost look in his eyes when Smash talks first downs and field goals. Tim doesn't know what else to do but reach under the table, where Smash can't see, and stroke his thigh. Maybe Street can't feel it, but Tim is still there beside him. Like he's always been.
"How are your classes?" Lyla asks Smash gently.
"Oh, you know me, baby." Soon Smash is telling Lyla all about how he owns English Lit, and asking her when she's going to transfer to a real college, while Tim traces warm circles against Street's leg.
Truth is that if Six had kept playing football, if he had gone to college, he would have left them both behind eventually.
Tim drives Street to work, and Lyla to class, but he doesn't hang around campus too long. The college kids all make him nervous, and he's happy enough to head back to the apartment after, and make the bed.
Tim isn't used to Austin yet, but Street isn't moving back to Dillon. Lyla says she's going home, after college, but Tim doesn't know that he believes that at all. Sometimes they still talk about getting that ranch and moving west, out under the sky.
Tyra calls to check on Lyla at least once a week. Whatever she thinks that they're up to here has got to be ten times more interesting than the reality, which is mostly Lyla holding study groups and prayer meetings in the living room, and shouting at Tim to turn the music down. Between Lyla's classes and Street's job, they hardly even have sex at all.
Except when they do. Mostly Lyla starts it. She crawls into Tim's lap with a smile, and reaches for Street's hand, grabbing hard and pulling it between her thighs. It still feels a little like the first time, like that dizzy, messed-up rush of kissing his best friend's girl. Except that now Tim can reach out and touch Street when he wants to. He can hear him breathing, and knows that they're okay.
Tim lets go of Lyla for a moment, and tilts his head towards Street's face. He kisses him, hard, just to be sure that he's there.
Sometimes it's like that, but usually by the time that Tim brings Street home at night, Lyla's off to the library, and she gets back just in time to slip into pale blue pajamas and fall asleep against Tim's shoulder while they're watching TV.
When he's putting her to bed she wakes up long enough to kiss him, with a warm, damp mouth, and then her eyes close again.
"Goodnight, cheerleader," Tim murmurs to her, and then it's Street's turn. Street is heavier, but they do this every night. He makes himself as light as he can as Tim's arms slip underneath his, and pull him out of his chair, up and underneath the blanket.
Lyla sleeps in between them both, where it's warmest.