A/N: This is a "Here On Earth" fanfiction. A sequel actually and this is Jasper's story. Three things – that I can think of right now – first, Jasper's sister is younger here than in the movie. Second, both of Samantha's parents own Mabel's Table, not just her Mom as in the movie. Third, the sequences in italics are flashbacks or remembrances.
Disclaimer: Okay, let's get this over with. I don't own anyone or anything seen, mentioned or referred to in the movie. All else belongs to me. Please RR, and please be gentle. It's my first fanfiction. No flaming – but if you must – No anonymous. Sign your name please. Moving on.
WHERE YOU ARE
(Sequel to Here On Earth)
Chapter 1: Six Months Since……
It has been six months since Samantha's funeral. To him it still felt like only yesterday.
On any given day he could be found there; in his usual spot at Mabel's Table, in the second booth from the door, in the front window. Not that it was unusual for him to be there before Samantha's death. He was expected to be there, either waiting for her to finish her shift, or coming in with her after school. He halfway expected to meet her even now. She just finishing up or them just hanging out with Pete, his best friend and Pete's girlfriend Vanessa, hers. Jasper expected this even though he and Samantha had not been together as a couple for several months prior to her death. Although he loved her, she had found love with someone else. She had broken his heart. He always believed they were meant to be together. He had been wrong. In the end, they had decided to remain friends.
The activity at Mabel's Table was running at fever pitch as it has since it's re-opening several weeks after the funeral. The diner has also been short-handed ever since. It was hard to replace Sam, as her parents were the owners. And as reluctant as her parents were to replace her, it all became too much for them to handle. They were forced to hire some extra help. However, the hand-written "Help Wanted" sign placed in the front window, went largely ignored by the locals. No one wanted to be the one to replace Samantha. Until………
"Finally!" she thought to herself. "We're here. Wherever here is." It had been a long bus ride, not helped in the least by the flat tire that delayed their arrival by several hours. But they were arriving. Now all she wanted to do was figure out where she was arriving to.
It was after dark when she stepped off the bus with only her backpack and her camera bag. She entered the bus station and noticed the sign over the ticket counter. It read "Putnam Station" and beneath that "Putham, Massachusetts". She hadn't planned on stopping here, let alone staying here. But her body was tired, stiff, and in need of a good workout; and the next town was another three hours away. Being stuck on that bus again, right now, was a prospect she didn't care to entertain. With a sigh, she located the information counter. She asked the clerk behind the counter, "Excuse me. Hi, um, could you tell me where the nearest hotel, motel, inn is in town?"
"Well", the clerk began to answer. "They have rooms upstairs they like to rent out. They don't have room service though."
"Oh, that's fine. Can I take care of that in here or………."
"They have an office out that door", the clerk pointed towards the door she just entered through. "You're going to go to the left and around the corner towards the back."
"Thank you very much."
She followed the directions the clerk gave her. She also noticed two things she hadn't paid much attention to when she got off the bus. First was how cold it was; it was mid-February, so she assumed it was supposed to be cold; she wasn't from this part of the county after all. The second thing she noticed was how quiet it was. Where was everyone? It was barely 10:00 pm and she heard very little, not even traffic. It felt a little eerie. She wondered if maybe she should have endured the extra three hours on the bus to the next town after all. However with the night air being colder than she was used to, her feet grew faster than her thoughts.
She reached a small office around the corner towards the back before she could change her mind and climb back onto that bus. She rented a room for the next couple of nights; not knowing how long she was going to be staying in town. She was told again by the desk clerk that there was no room service.
"But Mabel's Table is right across the street", the clerk went on. "The food's really good and the diner is brand new. It was just rebuilt last summer.
She thought about it, but she was just too tired. She would have to check out Mabel's Table tomorrow morning. Right now she only wanted to get to her room.
The room was nice. Its most dominate feature, of course, was its queen-sized bed. The bed stood high off the floor on thick, carved wooded legs. A partial canopy hung over it, decorated in the same large floral pattern as the bed linen. The large yellow roses in the pattern was a common theme throughout the room; the flowers in the vases on the dresser and nightstands; the over sized paintings hanging on either side of the windows, and even the scented soaps in the adjacent bathroom were yellow roses. The room was a little frilly for her tastes, but quaint, charming and, as it turned out, very comfortable.
"Jasper! Jas!" called Pete from the bottom of the stairs, the stairs that led to the room over the Arnolds' barn.
For the last couple of months Jasper Arnold had taken to staying up there. The last person to stay up there was rich-kid Kelly Morse from the Ralston Academy, the private boys school up on the hill. Kelly, who showed up in town one night, wreaking havoc and becoming Jasper's rival for Samantha's heart……….
"Hey, I want to know one thing before I go", said Kelly from his car after getting himself and his friends thrown out of Mabel's Table.
"And what's that?" asked Jasper. He and Pete were standing in the parking lot, after having just left Mabel's themselves.
"What freaks you out more, getting bailed out by your girlfriend, or knowing she was adding me to her fantasy file?" With a smug grin on his face and a cocky laugh, Kelly peeled out of the diner's parking lot, leaving Jasper and Pete standing in his wake.
"What did he say?" Pete, at Jasper's side, wanted to know.
Staring out after Kelly's tail lights, Jasper stated, "I think he just said come kick my ass"….
That was last summer. A summer that started off well enough. It was graduation. Jasper thought he and Samantha had their whole lives ahead of them. He thought they'd be spending their lives together, until Kelly and his friends decided they'd go 'slumming' among the locals of Putnam. The 'Putties' as they were called by the 'Ralston Boys'.
"JASPER!" Pete yelled for him this time. Still no answer.
Robin, Jasper's little sister, poked her head out of the back door of the house. "He's not up there", she told Pete. "He left before breakfast again."
"You know where he went?"
"No", she answered and went back inside.
"Where the hell is he?" Pete said to himself. He was starting to worry about his best friend. Jasper has always been a quiet guy, but he's gotten worse since Samantha's death. And he kept disappearing all the time.
Quaint and comfortable became bright and cheery; too much so, too early in the morning. "Are you kidding me?" She said to herself, as she was awakened by the sun shining through the sheer pale yellow curtains covering the windows.
Reluctantly she climbed out of the nice warm bed into the chilly morning air. She didn't know why she didn't expect it to be cold, the night had been cold, but she didn't. So chilly was the air it shocked her. She showered quickly, got dressed even quicker, and with camera bag in hand, she set out to explore the little town she found herself in.
She made her first stop Mabel's Table. It came highly recommended after all, and she desperately needed a hot, steaming cup of coffee. In her experiences with numerous diners, most made excellent coffee and she hoped this one would be the same. She took an instant liking to the place the minute she walked through the door. There was a lively chatter buzzing all around; with conversations crossing over from table to table, and customers socializing and visiting with each other. Like the room she stayed in, she found this place quaint and amazingly comfortable even in the midst of all the early morning activity.
When she approached the counter, the blond woman behind it turned around to face her. "Hi. It's going to be a few minutes before I can get you a table."
"That's cool. Is it always this busy so early in the morning?"
"Morning, noon, night", the blond waitress started to answer, then began to falter. "We've been….kind of….short-handed….these last several months."
"Yeah, I noticed your "Help Wanted" sign in the window. It looks like it's been there a while."
"It has….with good reason", responded the waitress somewhat solemnly. Then jokingly, "You wouldn't by any chance be looking for a job, would you?"
"I don't know. Maybe."
"I was kidding."
"I wasn't. Unless, of course, there's something I should know about?" She said with a sidelong glance.
"No, not really", the waitress lied. "Are you saying you're interested in this job? After seeing all this?" She waved her hand, taking in the entire space.
"I might be persuaded. How much does it pay?"
"Not much above minimum wage to start. You have experience?"
"Some, but I can get into a groove pretty quick. Besides, from what you've said, no one else seems to want the job."
"No they don't", the waitress admitted with finality. "Can you start like yesterday?"
With a slight chuckle, she countered, "How about you give me ten minutes and let me drop these things back off in my room. It's right across the way over the bus station. And by the way, my name's Alex Jace." And with that Alex turned to leave the diner.
The blond waitress called after her, "Welcome aboard Alex. My name's Jennifer Cavanaugh. My parents own this place."
Alex stopped and looked back at her, "The boss' daughter?"
"Is that going to be a problem?"
"No", Alex answered matter-of-factly. "Ten minutes."
END OF CHAPTER 1