A/N: I wrote this on a whim after watching my favorite episode "Jessie's Song", which I hadn't seen in ages. It's a great episode and sends a wonderful message without being "preachy". I just wish it had been a bit longer, hence the inspiration for this story!
Jessie Spano was staring into her locker so intently that she barely heard Zack Morris' voice behind her. "Jessie, are you deaf?"
She whirled around to face him, managing to drop her geometry book in the process. Immediately he picked it up by its tented cover and glanced at the front.
"Geometry again? Don't tell me you're still studying! The test was days ago!"
"What do you care? I doubt you studied five minutes for it!"
At this he smiled. "That's true, I try to study as little as possible, but this is obsessive even for you!"
Annoyed, she grabbed the book from him and slammed it shut. "I'm just brushing up a little, okay?"
"It's your life. But I've been trying to tell you something for the past ten minutes! I have some amazing news!"
Her eyebrows rose. "Really Zack? What's so amazing?"
"Hot Sundae is a big hit! The record producer was at the performance at the Max last night and he loved what he heard! He wants to sign you to a record deal! Isn't that incredible?"
Jessie feigned a smile. "Yeah, great… incredible."
"Aren't you happy about that? You're going to be famous! Bayside High is finally going to have a famous singing group! You, Lisa and Kelly are the newest music sensation!"
She swallowed hard, tears welling in her eyes. Ever since she returned to school, she'd tried to hold in her emotions but now it hit her like a truck.
"Why should I be happy Zack?" She yelled. "I wasn't there, remember? I was at home… in bed trying to get over my addiction to these!" She held out the small white bottle of pills and then like a baseball pitcher, threw them forcefully across the hallway. They slammed into the adjoining set of lockers, scattering the contents all over the floor, and garnering the attention of passing students, including Lisa, Slater and Kelly.
"What's wrong with you?"
"Hey, what's this all about?"
"Jessie, honey… what's wrong?"
"How can you not see what's wrong?" Jessie yelled, trying unsuccessfully to keep her sobs at bay. "I ruined everything!"
Immediately Kelly and Lisa went to her side, trying unsuccessfully to comfort her. "You didn't ruin anything, Jessie. Please tell us what this is all about."
"I'm an idiot!" Jessie yelled. "I ruined everything! The performance, my grades! My health! My parents were furious when they found out that I'd been taking those caffeine pills, but I swear I needed them! I needed them to study!"
"But I told you those pills were dangerous!" Slater said. "I tried to warn you!"
"I know, but I didn't listen! I guess… I didn't want to listen! I'm sorry Slater! I guess… I guess I'm not as smart as I thought I was! I mean… look at this!"
The group stepped back as she shoved a piece of paper in front of their faces.
"An 86? That's great, Jessie!" Kelly said, glancing at the test score. "Even I didn't get an 86! Well, actually I got a 92, but-."
Slater glared at Kelly in annoyance. "Kelly-."
"That's what I mean, Kelly! An 86 isn't going to get me into Stanford! I studied all night for that test! I knew every angle, every number and every problem by heart and I blew it! I took that test in five minutes flat! Now the teacher is just going to think that I'm stupid!"
"Who cares what he thinks?" Zack said. "You're not stupid! You're smart, Jessie, and don't let anyone tell you different!"
"He's right." Lisa agreed. "Anyone who knows anything about Geometry is a genius in my book. And you are going to go to college. I can guarantee it. I wouldn't be surprised if you were Valedictorian!"
"But I have to go to Stanford! I just have to!"
"Jessie calm down! You're still in high school and college is a long way off!"
"But it's not Slater! Most kids who want to go to Stanford have already applied by now and if they see my grades-."
"They'll be impressed, believe me." Kelly said. "Jessie, you can't go around worrying about the future because you'll miss out on right now! We still have a lot of high school left and when you go off to college… well, who knows what will happen to us!"
"Yeah, we may never see each other again!" Lisa added with a shudder. "I don't know if I can handle that."
Jessie looked down, feeling worse than before. "Wow, I never thought about that before. I can't imagine not seeing you all every day. But what about your record contract? I ruined it for you by not being there!"
"We understand. You couldn't be there, Jessie and there was a very good reason for it."
"Yeah, some reason. I can just see the headlines now... Jessie Spano on Drugs. Dreams of Stanford Tossed Out The Window!"
The group groaned almost in unison.
"Come on Jessie, that's not true! You couldn't help yourself and you thought you were doing what was right! What did your parents say?" Slater asked.
She shuddered, remembering. "They were furious! They… screamed and yelled at me for I don't know how long until I told them that I couldn't take it anymore! I had no explanation for what I had done except that I wanted to get into Stanford so badly and that I was terrible in Geometry! I thought that by staying up all night studying, I was helping myself, but I guess I was wrong. I was wrong about a lot of things."
"Stop being so hard on yourself, okay? Just enjoy the rest of high school and when the time comes to apply to Stanford, well, then apply! If you don't make it in you don't make it in! You can always try again. If they don't want you, it's their loss!"
Jessie smiled and hugged Lisa. "Thanks."
"And if for some unknown reason you don't get into Stanford, there are other good colleges. But you don't have to decide now."
She nodded at Kelly. "I know, it's just… my parents, they always want the best for me and Stanford is the best! But when they found out about those darn pills, they lost it. I couldn't explain to them why I was so addicted by for a while it felt like if I didn't have one of those pills I couldn't function, you know? Even after the test."
"So what happens next?" Slater asked.
"My parents are taking me to a counselor after school today. But I'm so ashamed of myself. What do I say?"
Zack smiled. "Just tell them the truth. Counselors aren't that bad. They're just there to help. And you have us."
Jessie looked around at her friends, the best group of kids she could ever imagine. "I do, don't I? And I don't know what I'd do without you guys."
They moved forward draping their arms around each other for a group hug. It had been so long since they'd had a sweet moment like this, and she didn't want to let go. But then something hit her and she pulled away, staring at the girls in horror.
"Jessie, what is it?" Kelly asked.
"Oh God… your record contract! I ruined that, didn't I?"
Lisa smiled. "Of course not! And besides, having a singing career in high school isn't that great anyway. My parents would have never agreed to it."
"Neither would mine." Kelly added. "I'd rather stay here and enjoy our friendships then be stuck in a recording studio all summer!"
The gang nodded in unison and finally Jessie smiled. "You're right. From now on, I'm going to live in the present!"
This brought cheers and hugs from Zack, Slater, Kelly and Lisa. "This calls for a celebration! Let's go to the Max!"
"Can we do our performance there?" Jessie asked, startling them all. "For old time sake? I know we aren't famous but that doesn't mean I don't love singing and who knows? Maybe we will be famous one day!"
Kelly and Lisa draped their arms around Jessie while Zach and Slater gave each other a high-five. "Come on, let's go. I can't wait to hear Hot Sundae perform again!"
"Hey, maybe we can get a regular gig at the Max!" Jessie said, showing enthusiasm for the first time since she could remember.
"As long as Screech isn't there." Lisa groaned. "He was awful!"
But Jessie couldn't stop smiling. "You know what? It doesn't matter. The only thing that matters is that I'm happy now. And it's all thanks to you guys. And maybe this counseling thing might not be too bad! I can get some things off of my chest that I can't tell my parents. It will be a good thing! Now come on… A Hot Sundaeis waiting for us!"
Lisa laughed. "But Jessie, we're 'Hot Sundae', remember?"
"Actually Lisa, I was thinking more of the ice cream variety!"
Their laughter could still be heard through the halls of Bayview High as the five friends headed for their favorite hangout, content to enjoy what was left of their high school days.