Danny Baldwin’ Ink Exhibition ‘Skin Deep’ feat. Jake Hold, Leebo Freeman , Jonathan Bellini, Jordan Matheson, Diego Barrueco , Ricki Hall, Jacopo Olmo, Matthew Morris, Will at First Model Managament, Asher Flowers, Aidan Brennan Williams and Bud Brennan Williams
Prompt:Riley and Farkle both attend Harvard University and are carpooling to New York for Christmas.
A/N:So I wanted to post this little fic I’ve been writing for the last two days (at a very slow pace because of all the festivities). Just a little one-shot Riarkle Winter/Christmas for you all. More of a winter fic, but oh well. The poem is a bit cheesy, but I hope you enjoy!
Word Count: 4,900
’Twas the night of the 21, almost three days before Christmas, when two young adults were to be home as promised. A storm brews in the night, and one missed turn leads them to the countryside. Out of the way and low on fuel, they begin to think the universe is cruel. But that’s not the worst. Amongst their little personal issues, Breaking down means their cursed. With no heat, the ice draws in. The only was to stay warm is …
The sun had made its descend on the horizon, darkening the east coast. The air was thick and the forecast had predicted a storm later on, which wasn’t good, because it was 28 degrees out and that meant a blizzard would mean their terrible weather. There was snow on the ground, piled high along Highway 84 heading towards New York City.
Riley Matthews hands were glued to the steering wheel, eyes squinted on the stretch in front of her. Her headlights weren’t the best, but they worked well enough. Her parents had spent more on tuition to the school of her choice, rather than the car she had. Harvard University, for Journalism. She could have gone to any other school, but she loved the campus in Massachusetts. It was beautiful and it was a dream attending. She still had found herself gawking over the fact that she was accepted.
Their was music playing on the radio, but the signal wasn’t the best. She prayed silently that the car would make it to New York, before the bad weather touched ground. She kept glancing at her GPS that was hooked to a port, where she could easily see where she was going and keep her eyes on the road at the same time. But the arrow hadn’t moved for ten minutes. She continued forward, under the next bypass, waiting for the small electronic device to buffer.
Twenty minutes go by and nothing. Riley had this aching feeling like something was wrong.
“We’re lost,” her best friend sitting next to her stated, casually. He was looking at his phone. “And I have no service or Wifi.”
She didn’t realize that she had been messing with that coldsore on her lip, due to the lack of lip balm and more cold air, until she had opened her mouth to speak. She winced before saying, “Why would you say that?” She clenched her hands around steering wheel. “We’re not lost.”
“That’s a lot of confidence, Riles.” Sarcasm weaved strong into his tone. “We’re definitely lost.”
She rolled her eyes. “We are right on track,” they passed the highway sign. “See Interstate Highway 84.” She was unconvinced herself, but she wasn’t going to tell him that.
Farkle Minkus rolled his eyes. “84 doesn’t go all the way down to New York though. We’re supposed to exit onto 684 I think. And I believe we passed that a long time ago.”
“I haven’t seen a sign that says 684 yet.” She thinks.
He licked his lips and sighed, but said nothing. They attended the same school, agreeing to take a leap out of New York, like the rest of group had. It had been a different world without each person there, and heading back home, meant they were all going to be together for the first time since summer.
Maya attended UT with Lucas. How he convinced her to go with him? Riley still had wondered how he managed that, but she believed anyone would do anything for the people you loved. She would.
Zay attended California State University in Sacramento. Though he won’t admit it’s for love completely, Smackle begs to differ, knowing fully well he wanted to be close to her while she attended Stanford University in San Fransisco. Smackle liked the fact he was willing to travel across the country, while she lived college life through her dream school.
As for Riley and Farkle, they lived across the hall from each other in the co-ed dorms. They were best friends, and closer than ever. He knew her almost as well as Maya, with the exception of some personal details (like super personal details).
Outside, snow was falling a tad harder. They were out in the countryside and near absolutely nothing. Riley didn’t care, she was going to keep going until she saw a reason to turn around.
And she found it.
Fifteen miles down the road she saw a sign, giving the distance between them and the next state: New Jersey. “Uh oh.”
Farkle nodded his head in confirmation. “Yeah, ‘uh oh.’ I told you we were lost. I knew I should have driven us in my car.”
“No, you drove us down during Thanksgiving, and I said I would drive for Christmas. I just didn’t know it would be snowing this hard. It’s difficult to see the road.” Riley was beginning to get aggravated.
Farkle motioned dramatically with his hands. “Yes, but my car has built in WiFi, great gas milage, and the heater is working fully.”
“What do you mean? The heater is working perfectly fine!” Her voice elevated in sound.
“No, it’s not! It hardly works. You’re just too heated in anger to realize that your car isn’t in top shape anymore,” he slumped back in his seat.
Riley scoffed. “How dare you say that about Nelly!” Yes, she named her car. Sue her. “I’m sorry Mr. Minkus, but you do realize that not everyone’s family owns a multi-billion dollar company, right? My parents offered to pay the rest of the tuition to Harvard, if I kept this vehicle. So you leave her alone!”
He took a long sigh, clearly frustrated with his best friend. Riley didn’t blame him for being mad, she was too. And hungry. And cold. Damnit. He was right about the damn heater. “That still doesn’t help the fact that we’re lost.
“Would you quit saying that? All we need to do is turn back around!” She stated, turning on her blinker and pulling over to the side of the road.
Before she could pull the car back, going the opposite direction, Farkle put his hand on the gear shift, on top go her own. The touch of his hand send a shock through her body. Clearly it wasn’t his intention to place a hand on her, rather than attempting to stop her from moving forward. “Don’t get back on the road yet.” He opened her glove box, and she was about to intervene when, she realized what had been hiding underneath all the receipts and girl products. A small atlas book.
Farkle took a glance at their surroundings, even if it was hard to see in the snowfall. He guided her down, into New Jersey, before he told her to take an exit onto a small highway. His plan, he had mentioned to her was to enter Manhattan through the Lincoln Tunnel.
They passed through a small town that only consisted of a diner, a two pump gas station and a supermarket just before hitting a stretch of trees. A few miles down the road, Farkle was barely hanging on to two bars of cellular service. They were truly out in the middle of nowhere again, but this time, surrounded by woods.
Then there was that sound. Riley’s heart dropped and she could swear she was going to start crying. She had heard that sound before. She had gotten stuck her senior year not too far from Shawn’s Cabin one weekend, where her dad had to come jump her car.
Once the noise became more noticeable to Farkle, his expression died in defeat. “You’ve got to be kidding me.” He looked at her. “Well, pull over!” He motioned to the side of the road. Once the car stopped on the side, the battery died out and the car came to a stop. “Great. Just perfect.” He looked at her. “Battery?” She nodded, not feeling so good. His fingers dialed in a number and his eyes glanced at the atlas. “Come on, come on, come on,” he said. “Ah yes, hi. I’m stuck on Highway 23 not too far from the State Park. Car battery died and I need a toe truck to Greenwich Village.” He continued answering a few financial questions, with the occasional “I’m sorry, say that again,” because the signal wasn’t on their side.
Riley felt terrible, and cursed. If only they hadn’t stayed for that end of the semester part last night, they could have been home a day early. She had nowhere to be in the next couple of hours, but her best friend was supposed to be in suit and tie for his fathers winter benefit for the company they held every year on the 21st of December. He wasn’t going to make it. And it was all Riley’s fault.
“Are you sure there isn’t a sooner time to get here? We’re surrounded by woods, its 25 degrees out and the snow is coming down pretty hard now,” he pleaded, then sighed. “Okay, well this is the number to call. Let us know if it ends up being an earlier time.” And he ended the conversation. “Two hours at the most. We really are in the middle of freaking nowhere.”
They spent minutes in silence, only because Riley didn’t know what to say to him other than sorry, but she wasn’t sure if that was going to cut it. Minutes turned into ten, and Riley was beginning to feel the cold bite from outside. Her car really wasn’t the best. She rubbed her hands together and breathed on them to create some heat. It helped a little but not a ton. It wasn’t until the twenty minute marker passed when she could feel her whole body shaking. Her eyes glanced over at Farkle who was in the same boat as her. “Farkle?”
“Hmm?” The sound barely audible.
“You’re a scientist,” she stated, knowing that was pointless to say. “What’s the best way to conduct heat?”
He stuffed his hands deeper into his pocket. “If it wasn’t snowing outside, I would make a fire.”
“Think. There has …” her teeth chattered “ … to be a way …”
He thought about it. She could see the way his lips were pursed, and his eyebrows were scrunched together, and his pretty blue eyes stared off straight in front of him. Then she could see him nothing something to him self, then he whispered it, but didn’t catch what he said. He looked at her. “The best way two people can conduct heat is using their bodies. Body heat.”
“Oh yeah. We learned that in the eighth grade,” she remembered. “So we’re going to cuddle in the backseat? Because obviously two of use aren’t going to fit up front.”
He smirked, amusingly. “It’s a bit more complicated than that Riles, but yes, the back seat would be more comfortable.”
“How is it complicated?” She questioned.
“Do you have blankets in your trunk still from the lock in?” He asked, ignoring her question. She nodded, climbing the back seat opening the center console, and unlocking the hatch that allowed her to access a small part of the trunk from inside the car. She pulled a few blankets out as Farkle climbed back to join her. They weren’t super thick, but they were going to have to do.
“So you didn’t answer my question, how—” she cut herself off once she turned her head to face Farkle, who was shirtless. If she was at a loss of words before, she was definitely mute now. Riley hadn’t meant to gawk, but the thought of, how could she not? ran through her brain as she noted that Farkle wasn’t a boy anymore, he was a man. Though she could clearly see that before he had his shirt off, but it was still surprising since well … he was rarely ever shirtless in front of her growing up.
As she glanced at his muscular shoulders, her eyes ventured all the way down to his abs, and hold Lord, she could definitely see why the girls now fawned over him at school. He chuckled, bringing her back to her senses, allowing her face to light up like Rudolph’s nose in embarrassment. “Body heat, Riles. Skin on skin. That’s how this is going to work.”
She gulped, debating whether or not this was a good idea after all. After seeing him looking very very attractive without a shirt on, she didn’t want him to see what she looked like in a bra. She was hoping that this wasn’t an all clothes thing, just because they were in a very small space. Because they had sweat pants and good boots on, they decided to share warmth by only being shirtless and sharing a jacket an piling blankets around them.
He slipped on his zip up jacket, while Riley slowly discarded her jacket, scarf, and cardigan. After deciding that she was taking too long she cursed under her breath, because she was so cold at this moment. She took her shirt off and thanked herself for choosing a nice purple VS bra to wear today. But she felt self-conscious. And cold. And that out-weighed her insecurity at the moment.
He stared at her for a moment, gulping himself, because this was the first time he’d seen her with this less of clothing. Then he blinked, leaning back against the middle of the back seat, and just as he was about to move, she slung one leg over each side of him and straddled his waist. His eyes widened, and she found it funny that he was now flustered at what was going on.
She leaned into him and said, “You can zip up now,” which he did, without a problem. This felt different. Yes, she was definitely feeling warm, but it didn’t hide the butterflies in her stomach, and the nice sensation of being close to someone like this, or how secure she felt with his hands wrapped around her waist, fingertips barely grazing her back dimples. She didn’t think this would be possible. Well, she never thought she’d feel this way sitting in Farkle’s lap.
She placed her head on his shoulder, thinking maybe if she closed her eyes for a few minutes, the time would seem to go by faster. She could smell something, something really nice, and sexy. It was him. He was wearing cologne. It was musky, but sweet, and Riley absolutely loved when men wore the stuff. Her eyes rolled back as she inhaled the scent, hoping he didn’t ask her if she was smelling him, because that would be embarrassing.
As her chest leaned against his own, she could feel his heart beating, and each breath he took. But he was still shaking slightly. Her hands worked rubbing his shoulders and his sides. She glanced at his face. His eyes were closed, but assuming he felt her move, they opened to meet hers. “I’m sorry,” she said. “This is all my fault. If I hadn’t convinced you to go to that party yesterday or take an extra shift this morning, we would have been in New York by now, and you wouldn’t be late to your dads Benefit. Or miss it. I’m so sorry.”
He shook his head. “No. Don’t be Riles. You have nothing to be sorry for. The event’s a hit or miss, and I could care less about attending. My dad just expects me to be there because he want to continue to uphold the family image. So that being said, whatever man my mom has been using this week will be on standby, because we all know she’ll be at my dad’s side with a fake smile plastered on her face, talking about how great we’re all doing, and how proud she is of her son attending one of the top Ivy League schools in the nation.”
Her heart went out to him. She hated his parents for being the people that they were, because they had this amazing son who deserved so much more than being the kid the throw money at and setting high expectations, when all he wants is honest parents, who love each other and him.
He looked away from her. “Am I gonna end up like them?” No. He’s not. “Am I gonna end up finishing my degree, starting a career, falling in love with a woman, marrying her, thinking she loves me when all she cares about is the money? And then she carries my kid, and we bring them up to be this person who we expect is going to exceed all of our expectations, and by high school, all the kid is doing is working their ass off just so they can gain some attention from me an their mother, but no. I’m too busy fighting with her and worrying about my business, and then we go into this nasty split, hiding it from the media to uphold this image of a perfect family that’s completely ruined behind our masked faces. So we fight over who they gets to live with, when they end up picking me, because their mom is bringing home random men every week, and they think that they can tell him what he can and can’t do. But at my house, everything is quiet, because I’m hardly home, so they can do whatever they want, have whoever they want over, or be alone, wishing that they were loved.”
Riley shook her head defiantly. “No,” she said in a dangerous whisper. Her hand found either side of his face, and she lightly pulled his eyes back to her. “No. You are not going to live the same life your parents do. You are not your parents.”
“But I’m their DNA. I get my traits from them. It’s inevitable.”
She continued to disbelieve what he was saying. “You are not like them! How do I know? Because you’re compassionate. When you love someone, friend or more, you put time and effort into them. I know this from experience being friends with you. You’ve put you life to the side for me several times, and I couldn’t be more grateful. You’ve loved me and Maya since the first grade and that’s never changed. You’re not Canada anymore and you haven’t been for a long time. You’re never going to be taken for granted when it comes to me because I need you way more than you know. Yes, you are going to fall in love with someone, and you are going to show her the whole world. And that woman better love you as much as you love her, because if not, I will not hesitate to roundhouse kick her face.”
She could see him smirk a bit at that and continued. “You’re dad loved your mom, but she wasn’t in love with him, and that’s why he closed himself off to the emotion entirely. That’s why it’s difficult to show you that emotion, because you’re not only his, you’re hers too. And he see’s that. But I don’t see your mom in you. I see a lot of your dad. And he’s a good hardworking man. But the way they’ve both been treating you lately,” she shook her head once more. “They don’t deserve you. Because—and I’ve said this before—you’re great. Nobody should settle for anyone less than you, Farkle.”
Her lips barely grazed his jaw bone, as he rested her head back on his shoulder. Her rant was over and he, who was left speechless held her closer. Her hands could lightly feel his heart racing a bit, and she wondered if he was jittery from her speech. She had meant every word, and remembered the conversation she had with Maya in her bedroom at home when they were only twelve, fighting over who was going to be his date to the award show.
He had definitely grown since then, obviously. But every now and then she was able to witness the dork in Farkle Minkus surface, which was always nostalgic to see, because she’d like to think of him as the kid he was. Though strange, he was loving and kind, and was always on her side about things. She loved everything about him.
Wait? Does she love Farkle?
That made her feel all fuzzy inside. She had always liked him, and it had come to her mind sometimes about what it might be like if he was her man, but she had definitely said she loved him several times throughout their friendship, but maybe it was just platonically? She picked her head back up and looked at him, examining every inch of his face from his brown hair she always loved running her fingers through because it was so soft, down to his hooded eyes that always seemed to be analyzing everything all at once, all the time. Then down passed his narrow nose all the way to his lips. Her gazed lingered there for a moment, before she realized her hands were back up to his face, and she seemed to be leaning in.
Either he was too shocked to move or he was just as tempted to his her, because he didn’t pull away once her her lips touched his. The kiss started out as gentle and searching, and her breath hitched once she felt the pressure of him reciprocating the action, but in a more urgent manner. Her fingertips tangled themselves in his hair, as his hands griped her waist tighter, keep in her steady on his lap. Her mind raced at the thought of this was what it was like to kiss the moon. He tasted of chocolate and peppermint candies they had been snacking on earlier, and she couldn’t get enough of him. If she knew of this feeling coursing through her veins at this moment years ago, all of the waiting, the guessing, the hurt she felt knowing that her ex-boyfriend was in love with her best friend, all of that would have meant nothing. Because the way she felt kissing Lucas was nothing compared to kissing Farkle. It was everything else but platonic.
In the midst of the heated car, due to their heavy breathing and attached lips, the ringtone blared from the phone causing them both to jump, and Farkle’s teeth to bite lightly on her lip, causing her to wince in pain due to the cold sore. His hands reached for the phone to answer it. “Hello?” His voice cracked slightly. “Um yes, we are driving a Jeta. Mm-hm. Oh okay. Alright, thank you.” He hung up the phone. “Toe truck just passed us. He’s on his way back.”
They unzipped the jacket completely and she immediately missed the warmth he brought her. He handed her back her long sleeve shirt and sweater to put back on along with her scarf, while she grabbed his shirt too, handing it back to him. They said nothing about the kiss as they spotted a big truck backing up in front of them, aligning the vehicle to be placed on the flat bed truck.
They parted from the car, Riley grabbing her purse and phone, and Farkle’s for his sake, and met the guy on the drivers side to greet him. He was a guy no older than 25, and kind of creepy looking. Farkle was talking to him about what happened, but never mentioned the fact that she got them lost, only stating that they had been experiencing difficulties alone the way, but only assumed it was the car reacting to the terrible weather.
After getting the car up on the truck, they climbed in the front seat with the driver, Riley sitting in the middle. The creepy Triple A guy smiled at her oddly, and she felt Farkle’s arm wrap protectively around her. Despite the event that just happened, he would have done this anyway for her safety. She placed a hand on the inside of his knee and gave him a reassuring smile.
They rode in mostly silence all the way to Greenwich Village, give or take a few questions the driver asked, mostly about where they were coming from and why New York and all that jazz. They came to a stop in front of Riley’s parents apartment building and he took the car off the truck, and Riley was about to pay him, when Farkle already had his wallet out. She tried to deflect him from paying for her mistake, but he blocked her from doing so.
The man said goodnight and happy holidays before Riley turned to her best friend. “You didn’t have to pay. This was my fault. I’m supposed to be the one who cleans up after my own mistakes.”
He shrugged. “Riles, it’s okay. I don’t care about the benefit. I told you that. And I have a legit excuse now as to why I’m not there. So my parents can’t get all over my shit about it.”
“But they’re going to blame me, because it’s my car, my fault.” She crossed her arms.
He shook his head. “No they’re not, because I’m just as much to blame. I agreed to leave today too you know.” He checked his phone for the time. “The benefit is still going on, maybe I should show some initiative to my dad to make a difference in our relationship. I should get going.” His hand found hers and he squeezed it. “I’ll see you tomorrow?”
She nodded. They didn’t have to talk about the kiss. It was enjoyable and she knew she would gladly do it again in a heartbeat, but now he needed to be somewhere. “Yes, I’ll see you in morning.”
After a late dinner and watching a movie with Auggie, Riley found herself sitting by the bay window a little after mid-night in her old bedroom, near the Christmas tree she decorated every year as a kid. She had put all of the gifts to her friends under the tree, smiling excitedly about how she couldn’t wait to see them.
She heard a knock on the window and fully expected it to be Maya, just as it always used to be, but the face she was most excited about appeared through the fog. She opened it, giving him room to slid in, to sit next to her. “What are you doing here right now?” She whispered, not wanting to risk her little brothers sharp hearing skills.
“It’s morning,” he smiled, bashfully and the comment made her stomach tickle due to butterfly wings. “I couldn’t wait to talk to you. Because I knew that once the sun rose, Maya and Lucas would be knocking on your window, and I wouldn’t be able to get a word in to you.”
He was dressed in very nice attire, consisting of black slacks, a white button up, and a black skinny tie. She marveled at how hot he looked in a suit. She blushed at the thought of calling Farkle hot, but she couldn’t help herself. He was. “Okay, what do you want to talk about?” This was a dumb question, because she had a feeling where this conversation was going to lead to.
He studied her face, the longing in his eyes to close the distance between them. “I wish they could see me the way you see me Riley. You look at me and bypass all the bad, all the flaws I have and you genuinely care about me. You push me to do the things I want to do, but am afraid, and you make me think twice about life and the way it works. I stopped looking directly into a microscope just so I can see the bigger picture. You taught me that. For so long, I’ve been so absent minded, pushing the thought of you and I away way more than I should have been because yes, you were right, I’ve loved you and Maya since the first grade, and in the beginning I thought it was the same. But we’re adults now, and I know it’s not the same.” He scooted closer to her, gabbing her hand, lacing their fingers together. “An tonight, when you went on your long rant, healing each wound one by one I had had caused myself, I realized that it was always you. You are my Pluto. I just wish that I had realized that years ago.”
She smiled, glancing up above them. Farkle followed her gaze spotting the special little piece of life that made so many great moments between two people. He looked back at her. “I sort of had a feeling I’d be seeing you in my bay window at some point this trip.”
He smiled, leaning in to kiss her firmly on the lips. It was the kiss that left her craving more. Once they parted, he kept his forehead placed on hers, and their noses brushed lightly against each other. “I love you, Riley.” He whispered to her.
Her heart did a bounce at the words she had thought she said platonically over the years, now knowing that was a complete lie. “I love you too.”
The universe knew exactly what it was doing.
And underneath the white winter snow, Two ended their night under the mistletoe.
“If I gave you the impression I had accepted the idea of your death I can only apologise. I tried to, I thought I had—and yet still I pictured having you for fifty, sixty more years. I thought I might be ready then to let you go. But it’s you, and I realise now that I won’t be any more ready to lose you then than I am right now, which is not at all.”