(A/N:) A new story from moi. This idea came to me yesterday and I absolutely loved it that I typed like crazy for three hours or so when I finally realized I should get going to bed. I successfully typed through four whole chapters and am at work on my fifth. I have my whole beginning, middle, and end thought out. It was one of those rare moments where I actually came up with the whole story all the way through instead of jumping into the first thing that came to mind.

This is aptly titled Since You've Been Gone which will probably make sense from just the summary.

Summary: Paul and Suze ventured into the past to save the life of one particular ghost. Both had their reasons for doing it, but the ultimate result was one and the same: they succeeded, and Jesse lived out a long happy life, changing the future.

Disclaimer (For all my chapters since I'll probably forget later on): Meg Cabot owns all the characters of the Mediator Series. Paul, Suze, and Jesse will never be mine, much to my chagrin because Ms. Cabot beat me to them - not that I'd of thought of them on my own... You've all been disclaimed (is that even a word/ eh...)

Lastly, rating will beT for language and possible future scenes (may change to M, don't know the guidelines for ratings all too well). I always imagined that Suze would be the type to curse relentlessly if it weren't for Meg's teen editors prohibiting her from doing so.

So, I won't delay you anymore, and I'm sorry for the seriously long A/N. There'll be another one at the end, cue eye rolls and groans. Ah, shut up, you... J/K. Drum roll, please.Without further ado, my new fic!


A hand came around my wrist, encircling it and taking a hold of me. I ignored it and pulled at my wrist, to try and free myself from it, and hastened my step. He still clutched at my wrist. But I was sick of him and his stupid games and paid no heed to his calls.

"Suze." His voice was steady, but in it I could hear a minimal plead. "Suze, please just listen. No tricks. I promise."

Yeah right, since when could I actually trust him? Since the first day I met him, he's been trouble. He may win over many girls with his charming good looks; but I know all too well it is a façade. He will not have me fooled. I am much too good for him.

With one final yank, I freed my wrist and continued walking. Behind me, I heard a sigh of resignation. I smiled to myself, in triumph. Maybe if I ignored him long enough, he would finally understand and just leave me alone.

I was so sure I was almost free of him, when suddenly his figure came to halt by my side.

I sighed, giving in. "What do you want, Paul?"

He wasn't worth my time, so I kept my gaze trailed ahead. My car was only a few cars away. If I could just get in and speed away, leaving Paul behind. No such luck, however, as he stepped in front of me, causing me to stumble right into him.

"Damn it," I breathed. "Are you mental?" Instantly I distanced myself from him. There was a solid foot of space between the both of us. Too bad I hadn't made it to my car, though. Five more feet and I would have been free.

"Suze, will you just listen to me already? I really need to talk to you. I can't stand the fact you keep ignoring me." I looked into his blue eyes, glazed over by a false softness. I know how piercing cold his eyes really are.

"Really?" I asked, quirking one eyebrow. "I can." I took a step forward and pushed past him. I dug my keys from the outer compartment of my purse and clicked the remote. The sound of the beep told me my car was open. Now if only I could get in.

"Suze." He called again to me, his voice almost wavering. Did he really need talk to me that badly? My hand was on the handle. If I ignored him once more, all I would have to do is settle into the car and then drive away. I didn't have to listen to him.

At least, that's what I was telling myself.

Instead, I turned around to face him. "What is it, Paul? In case you haven't noticed, you're not regarded on my list of favorite people."

"I don't care. I want to settle things with you once and for all. Just, please listen to me."

Why didn't I listen to myself? I was almost free of Paul Slater's presence. But instead I was actually having a semi-conversation with him.

"Give me one good reason, Paul. Since I met you, it's been one thing after another. You're constantly interfering with my life and I'm fed up with it. We were never friends in the first place, so I really don't understand why you insist on making things right between us. There are no things to better."

"Suze, there are some things I need to tell you about myself. You think you've got me figured out. You're convinced that I'm the devil's spawn. But what you don't realize is that you and I, we're exactly alike."

I laughed at him, mockingly, bitterly. Right in his face, not taking a word he said seriously. "Right," I said, stretching the word as if it were more than one syllable. "Yes, Paul, we're exactly alike. Two peas in a pod, you and me. Last time I checked, I wasn't a bastard." I tossed my purse into my car, the door finally opened.

I looked up to see Paul's face. Anger and contempt spread across his impeccable features. Hs brows were furrowed, his eyes slit. "Whatever, Suze. I must've been stupid to think you'd actually listen to me. You know what? Forget it. Forget me. Forget anything I've said to you. Just don't come crawling to me when you need me."

"And why exactly would I need you, Paul?" My tone laced heavily in rancor.

"You'll find out soon enough. I know you enough to recognize what you do." I stared at him long and hard for a second. His face was deadpan, making it impossible to read. He couldn't possibly know the truth. No one did. There was no way he could.

Pushing away the sudden rush of adrenaline that course through me–I actually thought he'd figured it out for a second–I spoke steadily to him, "And what makes you the expert on Susannah Simon?"

Shrugging casually, he dismissed the question with a wave of his hand. "But, that was an amazing two weeks we had, wasn't it?" The cold, serious expression on his face earlier had now transformed into one of pure bliss as he reminisced the worst two weeks of my life–both of which were a huge mistake.

"Shut up, you fucking asshole. I hate you. I don't know why I ever agreed to such an atrocity."

"That's not the way I recall it." Paul smiled smugly at me. That stupid arrogant smirk of his was stamped across his face.

"I recall it being a mistake." Without a glance back to him I clambered into my jeep. I set it into reverse immediately, not bothering to look if Paul was still standing behind. If I did run over him, I wouldn't be too bothered. Of course, the legal consequences would be grave, but at least I'd rid my life of Paul Slater.

When I did pull out, much to my chagrin, Paul was already gone. I really was ready to run over him. Anything that could get rid of him would improve my mood. But since he'd shown up at the Mission this year, nothing had remained the same. Granted, I'd only been here a half a year, but nothing gave Paul Slater to stalk me relentlessly at my own school. Why couldn't he get it through his thick skull that he and I–we were over?

Why did I have to fall for the first hot guy that asked me out? It's true what they say; never judge anyone by what's on the outside. The hot guys are usually the biggest assholes. Well, in my personal experience, anyway. Either that or certifiably insane.

Despite his faults, Paul is the hottest guy I have ever laid my eyes on. It's just a shame things had to turn out the way they did. Well, maybe not quite so. At least I know the truth about Paul Slater.

But, because of him, every other girl–except CeeCee– at the Mission hates me. They're all fawning over him while the guy stalks me.

Thanks, Paul. Thanks.

I was still seething when I got home. My anger was teeming, penetrating the walls, possibly. Max, the one normally waiting for me at the door took one look at me, barked and walked away. He didn't even wait for me to pat his head.

I was home alone today–a rare occurrence in the Ackerman household. I took this as the perfect opportunity to blast my music loudly upstairs. Changing into my usual kick-boxing ensemble I stood before the punching bag.

One punch. Another punch. A double punch. A kick. A few more punches and I started pounding hardly at the punching bag, seeing Paul's face with every jab. Soon, I was breathing hard, my heart pumping even harder. I worked myself into a sweat. But I persisted. I was too riled to stop. I couldn't stop.

Kick-boxing to me is as therapeutic as massages are to the weak-minded. A good session and I'm back to my usual, calm self.

I don't know how long I attacked the harmless punching bag; half an hour maybe, when Dopey pounded on my door.

"Shut that crap down," he drawled in his usual Dopey-esque stupor. How I managed to hear him over the stereo, I can't figure it out. I guess seeing him at the door was a good enough hint.

I walked away from my punching bag, refreshed – in a sweaty way – breathing hard, and feeling every inch of loathing having escaped in the kick-boxing session.

I shut off the stereo. Wrapping a towel around my neck, I turned around to Dopey, who was still standing in my room. "Um, you can leave now."

Dopey was gawking at me, amazed, I suppose. "Holy fucking shit – you're ripped. Remind me not to mess with you." He squandered away from my room, aloof only as he could. I rolled my eyes, shutting the door behind him.

All of my Paul worries were cleansed. He was back to being a nonentity in my life.

The smell of sweat gorged my room and decided that it was about time to take a shower. Grabbing a clean pair of clothes from my window seat, I paused briefly, opened it up and finally stepped into my personal bathroom.

– 8 –

The one thing that's even more therapeutic than a good kick-boxing session is nice, hot shower afterwards. Nothing can beat those two sensations coursing through your body. I stepped out of the shower, the steam still hovering lazily in the air, pouring out into the chilled atmosphere of my room. In my shower, the room had been evaded of the awful sweat smell and instead chilled.

I closed the window, before collapsing in a heap onto my bed. Covering my face with my hands, I closed my eyes, trying my best to avert the unavoidable California sunlight. I didn't try hard to block it. So long as it wasn't directly in my eyes, I was comfortable.

I must've fallen asleep, because when my eyes reopened, there a gentle knock at my door. "Susie, are you okay?" It was my mother calling sweetly at me from behind the door. "Brad told me you were kickboxing earlier, hopefully you didn't exhaust yourself." Genuine concern laced my mom's voice.

"I'm fine, mom. I must've fallen asleep," I called back to her.

"Oh, alright. Well, dinner will be ready in five, okay." I heard her feet shuffling away.

I sat up in bed and looked at my alarm clock. Six o'clock already. I couldn't believe half my afternoon had already been wasted. I trailed my gaze around the room. The punching bag perched precariously from the ceiling; the pile of clothes in the furthest corner; my window seat…

My gaze settled at the window seat, the one Andy had lovingly installed for me. For a reason unknown to me, it drew my attention most than any other object in my room. The longer I looked up it, the more I realized something was missing. I scanned the window seat carefully; the four throw pillows I'd accommodated there were in place as was my purse and coat. I shook my head and ignored the feeling that something was missing.

My fondness of the window seat gone, I stood up and headed downstairs. I settled into the usual family scene and ate dinner diligently; the sinking feeling that something in my room was missing in that window seat.

I ignored the feeling and allowed for myself to get consumed into the conversation at the dinner table. I waited for the ravenous three to have their share of food before diving in myself. My mind slipped, and I completely forgot about the eeriness from earlier.


(A/N): Ya'll know what to do at this point, right? That's right, I knew you were smart. Review! So, come on, go on... but first, I'll lengthen this message just a bit more.

Please excuse grammar errors; it was late at night when I first typed this. I did edit, but it was more of scanning than anything. I caught big blunders but not tiny period/comma usage or slight grammar misuse.

And, for those who have read my earlier fics (Love and Marriage, and Ghost of You), I am so sorry I never updated, but I lost all inspiration for those two fics. I just jumped into the stories without ever fully thinking my way through the plot. So, so sorry. I hope I'll finish them someday, but I cannot think it will be soon. I lost all inspiration, and I don't know how to quite pursue them.

Finally, this is the end of my second long A/N. Please review, critique, and if you absolutely must, flame.

--Kim