The Cotillion continued to run through his mind. The music pounding in his ears as everyone around him danced. Jay had done his own share of dancing, but considered himself more of a people watcher. He wasn't one who looked to be the center of attention. That was his friend's job. He was the quiet muscle that protected all he cared about. The smell of the clean ocean air, the gentle rhythm of the ship as it shifted under his feet and the beat of the music was all a memory now. The soft feel of the sheets against his bare skin was a cold reminder, that although he had made friends, he was still very much alone.
The party from the night before was like nothing he had experienced. It was as if the battle with Uma had never taken place. If they had stayed on the Isle after the battle, he would be holed up with the rest of his friends at Mal's place getting his wounds tended to or possibly mourning one of his friends. Here he was at a celebration. The victory they won over Uma only made the Cotillion more special, spoiled for a brief moment by Uma, but a victory still. But it was only Uma who followed them to Auradon after the battle on the Isle, not the rest of her crew. Uma would be back, with Harry and the rest in tow, but they would be ready. The preparation to protect Auradon starts now.
It felt good being on the other side of the law. Jay's days of running the streets, stealing what his father had wanted, and the food he needed to survive, was over. It amazed him that he had managed to make a place for himself here after surviving the life he had left. If the trouble he ran into on the streets weren't trying to kill him, his father was. No food, no basic essentials, and a father with a temper that could match Maleficent. Well almost. Jafar was a mean sorcerer back when he had magic and a meaner father with no magic; there was no doubt on that. The loss he had suffered at the hands of Aladdin made Jafar more ruthless, more willing to destroy all good in his path.
After the destruction of Jay's mother, Jafar saw Jay as the only thing good that came out of the relationship he had created with the woman. That meant Jay needed to be destroyed as well. By proving to Jafar that a skinny kid could con, steal and lie for his dinner, Jafar kept him around. It was the night's Jay didn't produce the right item, that he paid the hefty price.
Jay shook his head, hoping to wipe the painful memories out of his head. How he had gotten the luck he had, he swore to never reveal. It had been fate to find it the night before the news came they were to leave the Isle. Jay had found an old rusted lamp, so ornate, so beautiful. Handing it over to his father was a waste. A goldmine was in his hands, and it was up to him to save his friends and himself. He made one wish that night. The same wish that he always made when he came across an old dirty lamp. Let him and his friends escape the life they were stuck in. No Genie came, no puff of blue smoke rose, but still his wish had been granted.
Jay had celebrated with the people he had come to take from; for Maleficent and his father. Ben had given them a chance to redeem themselves, to prove there was good in them, that they weren't evil. They were accepted by strangers that were now friends, family. Jay rolled to his back and sighed remembering the battle once again. Lonnie and Ben had fought beside them. He had caught sight of Lonnie during the fight, had to pull himself back from defending her. She had been amazing to watch, no fear, no hesitation. Lonnie had been brave to join them and didn't flinch when she saw that they were out number. She plowed forward into the battle, and proved herself worthy. And there he found his equal.
When he saw her again at the celebration something had changed. This time, everything was different. They were on her turf now. He didn't feel equal in this land. His nerves had made him pull back, stay at the sidelines. He danced with others, but made his way off, not feeling the same enjoyment as he had when he danced with her.
An observer by nature, he felt at ease in this mode. Carlos was being pestered by the Fairy Godmother while poor Jane looked mortified. He chuckled quietly, props to Fairy Godmother, he would harass Carlos later. Mal and Ben had disappeared and Evie and Doug were the life of the Party. Who would have thought a dwarf's son could live it up. Scanning the room, he searched for the one that he wanted to watch the most, Lonnie. Catching movement in the corner of his eye, he spotted her.
A smile on her face, her hair wet from the ocean waves that had hit them thanks to Uma, Lonnie simply glowed when she reached for him to rejoin the group. Jay returned her smile, and took her hands. It was time to let go of the past, and accept what he had asked for; a new, better life. Leading her into the dance, he kicked up water at her and gave her a sideways grin. He would have her soaked again before the song was done. He would also enjoy every moment of watching her try to pay him back.
She bent low and spun, once again trying to soak him, but again he dodged her every move. It was a bit like when they were fencing partners. Jay seemed to better her at every turn tho not the case with fencing. With a pull from him, their bodies pressed tight against each other. The wind whipped and he swayed with the boat, losing his own footing on the slippery deck, Jay gripped her for balance. A laugh came from her lips that melted the ice around his heart. Lonnie had never looked more beautiful in his eyes and fear suddenly hit.
Her eyes, met his, his pulse quickened and a bead of sweat rolled down his spine. Fear was something that Jay had become very familiar with in his life, but never in this way. To want someone and fear the want was disconcerting. Did he make a move and hope that she would accept it, and if she did what then? Could anything actually come out of a wish or could it possibly measure up to the dreams he had been having of her lately?
Jay laid still in his bed, his dorm room silent with the only noise coming from the hallway as the other students at Auradon Prep began moving and making their way to a late breakfast. He felt something completely unfamiliar to him. All night the dreams kept him tossing in his slept. Her face, the way she smiled at him, reached out for him; pulled him to her and almost within his reach. He savored this last moment before reality set in. A battle was on the horizon, and he needed to prepare. The first fencing tournament was today with Lonnie as Captain.
Jay curled his arm under his head, his eyes still closed as he pictured her, dancing in his arms. He lost his moment to tell her how he felt, but he knew there would be another chance. He would make sure of it. A slow smile crept across his face as he made a plan. After the tournament, tonight he would celebrate with her. He would find a way to get her aside and they would talk.
Carlos stood in the doorway, toothbrush hanging out of his gaping mouth watching his roommate. He had seen the way Jay eyed Lonnie the night before. Jay had brushed off every other girl that had pushed their way past Lonnie to dance with him. And Jay pushed right back. He made his way back to her every time. Jay had changed a lot since their time on the Isle, but his attraction to girls had not.
Staying silent, Carlos had to wonder what was going through his best friends head. He loved the guy as a brother, but didn't agree with the way Jay had always made his way through girls; Tossing them aside as if they meant nothing. Carlos had only wanted one, and now he had her, Jane and wanted the same for his friend.
Lonnie was a different style than Jay's normal hit and run. She came from a different background than either of them. China was strict, especially for women. Even though Lonnie's mother had saved the land and disobeyed her father in the process. Rules were still there. Tradition was still followed. Carlos had paid attention in history, he knew what was coming for Lonnie, and Jay wasn't in that picture. He didn't come from that background, or the wealth that was needed to take Lonnie from it. Jay was going to be furious that was for sure.
"Hey! You planning on getting up, or just do the practice for the meet in your…. You wearing anything?" Carlos asked as Jay's eyes opened to a glare. He was in a real good spot of his dream.
"You know how to ruin a dream, dude," Jay muttered not wanting to move. Settling back in, his eyes closed and the image of Lonnie came back into focus and a smile came to his lips. Where was he?
Carlos quickly rinsed the brush and his mouth before scooping up his gym bag and heading to the dorm room door. "I'll let Lonnie know you're on your way." Carlos walked out and right into Lonnie. Smiling, that little evil side he didn't show often appeared. Pushing the door open where Jay's bed was in full view, "Oh, hey Lonnie," Carlos exclaimed loud enough for Jay to hear. He paused long enough to see Jay's fingers grip around the corner of the pillow. Pulling a duck and run, Carlos bolted, but not before he gave Lonnie a nudge into the dorm room doorway.
"Shut up, Carlos!" Jay yelled and tossed his pillow at the opened door, Jay felt reality land hard as the pillow hit at Lonnie's feet.
The heat crept into her first as her eyes met his. Ten feet between them and a sheet; Lonnie couldn't see anything else. Propped up on an elbow, Jay's heart pounded. Never had a girl mix him up like she did, he needed to get a grip. Taking a breath, he had to be cool, collected; Jay swung his bare legs over the side of the bed and stood up. Her eyes widened, it was just boxers, Lonnie thought, just like swim trunks. Swim trunks never looked like that.
Slowly, Lonnie bent down and picked up his pillow. Bringing it to her chest, she took a deep breath. It smelled just like him. Tentatively, she stepped into the room. Pulling the pillow away from her body, she held it out. "I think this belongs to you?" A smile crept to her lips, but didn't reach her eyes like normal. Something was wrong. Had he hurt her the night before? There was something else there. He couldn't put his finger on it.
"Yea," Jay replied hesitantly as he took the pillow from her. There was hurt in her eyes. If this was on him, he would have to fix it.
"Are you coming to the practice?" Keep it simple and friendly. Lonnie turned away quickly when she realized she was staring.
"Yea," He really needed to expand his vocabulary. Jay grabbed a pair of leather jeans and slipped into them.
Hearing the quick zip of a zipper, Lonnie figured it was safe to turn around. As she did a t-shirt was slipping over a very well defined torso. "I'll see you there then."
Moving toward the door, Lonnie wasn't fast enough. Jay grabbed her wrist and pulled her back in the room, pushing the door closed with his foot. "Hey, wait….," the knot in his belly began to tighten. "I wanted to talk to you…" Jay hesitated again.
"It's ok," Pride kept her eyes on his. "I understand. After the meet, we can explain to the team." Lonnie's spine stiffened a bit. There was more at stake at the moment than her pride; or her heart. The warning she had gotten the night before was enough to make her think hard about her actions. She had no idea who on her team had stuck the note in her locker, but someone was very against her being on the team.
Telling Jay she understood was a lie. She should have known that it was too good to be true. She had wanted a position on the team, not necessarily the captain position, just a position. For Jay to step down for her was a huge feat. One she hadn't planned or intended. She knew the others on the team, especially Chad, weren't thrilled but went along with the decision because of Jay.
Explain what to the team? He was lost, knowing they weren't talking about the same things. Jay's thoughts made him lose track of the conversation, and his grip on her wrist. Slipping out of his hold, she had moved away from him, opened the door and closed it before he could say anything else. "Lonnie…wait..." She was gone.
The amphitheater was packed. It seemed all of Auradon Prep had shown up to see the first match of the Swords and Shields team. Lonnie was nervous, she knew she was the only female participant. She saw the way the boys on the other team were eyeing her, making cruel comments about how desperate AP must be to resort to putting a girl on their team. She was prepared for some flack but this was more than a little.
One by one each member of the team squared off against the Falcons, each taking turns winning or losing. Carlos won as did Jay, Chad and Tyler both lost. Each one of her team getting harassed for having a girl on the team. It was tied and was now up to her. There was a break in the action as the coach from the Falcons conferenced with the ref. He was obviously not happy about the next match up.
Jay saw the nerves wreaking havoc on Lonnie. She sat in silence, watching all around her but not saying a word. Her hands were gripped tightly together, while her knees bounced with anxiety. He had never seen her so worked up. Lonnie has always had a very sunny disposition. A smile graced her face every time he looked at her. Jay felt he needed to help her relax, especially since he felt he had added to her mood. Moving down the row, he sat down next to her, Lonnie never moved.
"You ok?" Jay nudged her with his shoulder, taking her out of her trance. "You'll do great. You can take him." His encouragement was sincere.
Lonnie looked at him, not really seeing or hearing him. "What?" She felt as if she would throw up.
"You'll do fine," Jay smiled, "I stepped down as captain because I knew you could handle this. I saw how you handled yourself on the Isle, no one can do this better than you." Jay was a fierce competitor, always needing to be the best. For him to admit someone was better than he was, was rare.
His words were a relief. She needed to hear that someone had faith in her. "Thank you." She could feel the tears start to burn her eyes. He believed in her. It was something she hadn't known she needed to hear.
Evie and Jane were in the balcony right above the home team's bench. Both girls were cheering on their friends. Evie saw the way Lonnie was acting and knew she was in bad shape. "Mal," Turning her back to the action for a brief moment, she was determined to get her best friend's attention. "Mal, get over here. Lonnie looks terrible." Mal looked up and rolled her eyes. "I'm serious, it even beyond my make up expertise."
Mal slammed her book closed and walked over to the edge looking down at the action below. Evie was right, Lonnie looked terrified. "You want me to spell her?" Mal teased.
Evie frowned at her friend. She couldn't do a spell even if she wanted to. Mal's spell book and her own magic mirror were in the museum where they belonged.
"Can't we do anything?" Jane asked.
"Cheer louder," was Evie's only solution. So the three girls yelled as loud as they could for their friend.
Jay reached over and squeezed her hand. It was her turn. "You're up, go get 'em" Giving her a nod and that sly smile, her heart warmed. She had felt her friendship with Jay had only gotten stronger in the last 48 hours. He had looked at her differently since she had maneuvered her way to the Isle with them and proved she could handle herself against the pirates they faced, even when the odds had been two to one.
Lonnie grabbed her sword and mask and walked to the center of the circle. Getting her mask in place, she could hear the boos and remarks from those that felt she didn't belong. "Get a hobby", "Take up sewing," "send her home" were just a few from the crowd. Lonnie glanced back at Jay and got a simple nod from him for encouragement.
"Ignore them, Lonnie," Carlos yelled. "You can take this guy."
Chad worked his way behind the bench to Jay and knelt behind him, " She shouldn't be in there." Chad believed in traditions and the rule book. No girls should be allowed. "It's a man's sport, even the rule book…"Jay turned and glared at him,"I mean… she's a girl, Jay. She's out of her league."
"Shut up, Chad." Jay said and turned back to the match. Jay didn't take much stock in what Chad had to say. The guy really needed to man up, as Dude would say.
Lonnie and her opponent began, swinging, lunging back and forth. Each taking shots, barely missing the other. The swords locked together, pulling the two face to face. "You don't belong here." The male voice growled at her. Pushing away, and taking a low swing, she felt the rush of anger. "You'll never measure up to your mother." He called to her. "Take your proper place and do as you're told." Pure adrenaline rolled through her body.
Not one for being told she can't do something, Lonnie let her anger rip through her and she made a pass toward him, knocking him back, causing him to stumble. Jay and Carlos and the rest of her team cheered loudly from the bench, causing Lonnie to smile under her mask. It felt good having friends by her side.
Gathering his bearings, Lonnie's opponent charged her. A swift spin and jump send his foot into her ribs. Lonnie felt the pang of pain rip through her. She stepped back and gripped her side. The home crowd booed.
"Penalty!" Jay yelled and jumped to his feet. He was ready to charge the mat himself.
Carlos grabbed his arm, keeping him off the mat and at the bench. "Jay, you have to let her do this." Carlos reminded his friend. "It's her turn, let her have it."
Shoving a handful of popcorn into his mouth, Chad was entranced. "This is gonna be bad," Chad warned from behind Jay. He was enjoying being right for once.
"Shut up!" This time it was both Carlos and Jay yelling at him.
All three of the girls gasped at the kick to Lonnie.."Take him out, Lonnie." Evie yelled. "You're better than that." Doug walked up just in time to take Evie's hand and nod in agreement.
"Clean the mat with him, Lonnie! Tear him to pieces!" Jane yelled causing the entire bench to look up at her in disbelief.
They continue on, charging and retreating. Matching each other step for step. The ringing of the steel pierced her ears, her body and mind working as one as Lonnie continued to fight. Her muscles strained under battling someone much bigger than she was. The yells and noise muffled around her as the only thing she could see or hear was her opponent. "You don't belong here, princess." Locking swords with hers again. "Enjoy this round, it's the only one you'll get." He pushed off and spun, kicking out again, he made contact with the same ribs, sending Lonnie to the mat clutching her side in pain.
One look at Jays face and his teammates knew what was coming and two that were closest to Lonnie helped her up and off the mat. What was about to happen she needed to be out of the way for. The guys tried to get her to leave the arena, but Lonnie refused, "No, I'm not leaving." Sitting on the bench and turning she saw what was taking place and in shock could only sit there and watch.
This time nothing Carlos did could stop Jay. Struggling, Jay managed to get out of Carlos' grip. He pushed all his teammates aside to get to the opponent that hurt Lonnie. Knowing full well what damage he was capable of inflicting, Jay wasn't stopping.
"You wanna try that with me," Jay offered as he reached the center of the mat. The guy had pulled off his mask and bowed to his teammates and the crowd, obviously very pleased with himself. One good, hard push from Jay and the match was on. His opponent stumbled, almost going face first into his own bench. As soon as he spun around to face Jay, Mal knew the whole situation just got a whole lot worse.
"Oh no," Mal groaned. "We better get down there." Mal nudged Evie and the two raced down the stairs with Doug and Jane not far behind.
Pushing their way through the crowd, which had gotten to their feet, home team and away now raising the rafters with the loud calls out to one another as the rivalry reached a new height. The four found themselves in the middle of a very heated battle Mal didn't think even the Fairy Godmother could calm down. "You better go get your mom," Mal yelled in Jane's ear. "This is gonna get real ugly fast." She knew exactly what Jay was capable of when pushed. Jane nodded and pushed her way back through the crowd.
The anger burned in Jay like he had never felt before. She was hurt. He had allowed it once, only because Carlos had kept him back. He knew Lonnie would have been furious if he had stopped the round. Jay wanted to tho, he wanted to scoop her up off the mat and get her somewhere safe. Lonnie would have beaten the crap out of him for it too. But a second time, no way. Jay wasn't about to stand by and see her get hurt and not do something about it.
A smirk came across the boy's face as Jay recognized him. The scar going down the right cheek Jay had given him in their last fight. Shock and fear raced through Jay. He hadn't seen Jian in over a year. Had assumed his old rival was dead, probably from his own fathers hand. Finding him in Auradon was the last thing Jay expected.
Carlos saw the boy's face, bigger, meaner than their last meeting. Felt a wave of fear hit, the outcome of this could be nothing less than deadly.
"You wanna try for me again? C'mon let's go!" Jian raised his sword as Jay stuck his arm out, Carlos flung Jay's sword to him and met the swing, steel against steel. "You should tell your girlfriend to do what she was made for… be a trophy piece."
Jay said nothing but met his opponent swing after swing. Anger pushing him on, making him stronger, fiercer that normal. Jay pushed his opponent back, sending the boys off the mat and into the crowd. The group of fans that were on the floor around the mat quickly made their way back, beyond the barrier walls to safer ground. Swing after swing, hilts together, pushing apart, Jay never missed.
Lonnie watched, gripping her side, not willing to leave for fear Jay would get hurt. Carlos helped steady her, but knew it could come to a point where she would need to leave. He didn't want Lonnie to have to see a side of Jay that only the VK's have seen. But Jay, pushed hard and fast, sending his opponent backwards, and over his own team's bench. Jay moved forward, swung down, stopping not an inch from Jian's throat.
Mal and Evie both gasped. They had seen Jay fight like this before. Only when they had been in danger, did Jay ever get this upset. Holding on to each other, the best friends could only hope that what happened before didn't have to happen again. Jay had become a better person, he had learned to be a team player, even stepped down for Lonnie. Both girls knew this had been huge for him. They had seen they way Lonnie and Jay had danced together, fought together on the Isle. If they didn't know it yet, the two would soon enough. A friendship was about to change.
The sword didn't move, Jay stood frozen as Jian glared up at him. Lonnie could feel her own breath ragged, adrenaline pumping through her. Her anger and fear mixed watching the match.
"OK… OK…" The high pitched voice of the Fairy Godmother rang through the arena. "This tournament is now over… Everyone is to return to their proper dorms or schools." Fairy Godmother managed to get to the mat. "OK… boys, locker rooms… now." She glared at the ref and coach that had watched everything play out in disbelief and not stopped any of it. "I will see you two in my office, now."
The arena filtered out quick. Students still argued over the match, but quietly so the Fairy Godmother not hear. Mal and Evie, stepped to Lonnie's side. She would need help. The teams made their way to the locker room, all but the two that still held swords in their hands. With the girls help, Lonnie got to her feet and walked over behind Jay. "No, Lonnie, not a good idea." Mal whispered, but Lonnie ignored the warning.
Gently she reached out and touched Jay's back. her hand slowly sliding from shoulder to waist. "Jay.." Lonnie whispered. She could feel his muscles quiver under her touch. "Stop, Jay… he's not worth it."
Not breaking eye contact, Jay stepped back, his sword still at the ready. With his other hand, he reached for hers. Taking his hand, she gently tugged him back, away from the boy that was lucky to be alive. When far enough away, Jay turned, wrapping his arm over Lonnie's shoulders they headed toward the locker rooms.
Mal's mouth dropped, "Well that's new." Watching the soft easy way Lonnie brought Jay out of his rage was mesmerizing. She didn't yell or grab, just… soft. It was all she could think of. But this wasn't a soft moment, they were in trouble, more than she wanted to admit. She needed to protect her friends.
Once out of view, Jay pushed Lonnie up against the wall. Rage and frustration engulfed him. He kept his hands on the wall, hovering over her. Jay was afraid to touch her, his hands trembled. The last thing he wanted to do was hurt her. She was already hurt, he needed to be gentle. His chest rose and fell with heavy breaths. Eyes closed Jay struggled to control his urges.
She felt the pain rake through her side, but didn't want to cry out. There was a deeper pain tearing at Jay that he was fighting to control. Her hands gently cupped his face, opening his eyes looking into hers, he felt her calm surround him. He could stay here, in her eyes and never leave. Feeling the energy leave his body, Jay lowered his forehead onto her shoulder. "You're ok." She said softly and wrapped her arms around him. "You're safe, ok…. it's over." And in her mind it was, she felt responsible for what happened. Jay would never go through this again for her. She would be stepping down from swords and shields.
It wasn't over, it was just the beginning.