Okay... This story can be read in two different ways. You can read it as a continuation of "Never Alone" or seperately. It should make sense either way. Enjoy...


Only Hope


Chapter 1

Veronica's eyes were still tightly closed. Her head was buried in JD's shoulder as she heard the final tick. She could feel him trying to pull her closer. JD's warm breath blew across her skin and his heart beat against hers.

Suddenly, she felt nothing. Her eyes flew open. She was alone! The fact that she was back in her room only added to her confusion. Where was JD? He had just been there. Was she insane? The door opened and a familiar looking woman entered the room. Where had Veronica seen her before?

"Hello darling..." the woman spoke smoothly. Veronica cringed inwardly. JD was the only one who ever called her darling.

"Do I know you?" Veronica stammered, "I'm pretty sure we've never met."

"You're right," the woman continued towards her, "We haven't met. But, you do know me... indirectly thought it may be." Veronica looked closely at the women, trying to find a clue as to her identity. She had slightly rounded cheeks, narrow eyes, and finely arched eyebrows.

"This can't be right," Veronica clutched her chest, trying to rationalize what she was seeing. She'd never met this woman in person but she had seen her in a picture a few weeks ago... in JD's living room. "You're JD's mother... you're supposed to be dead, aren't you?" She paused, thinking. "I'm dead aren't I?" She looked up.

"JD was right, you are a smart one..." she chuckled slightly.

Veronica gasped. She was dead. She was sitting here, alone, talking with JD's dead mother... a woman who had been blown up seven years earlier. This couldn't be happening. She had to be dreaming.

"No, Veronica, you're not dreaming," she spoke again, "You're as dead as I am. So is my son." She wiped away a tear.

"Where are we? Heaven? Hell?" Veronica questioned. This didn't seem possible.

"Neither," JD's mother replied. "You see, I've some special arrangements. I've managed to make a mess of things. Things were never supposed to be like this. I know JD told you what I did. I wasn't strong enough to carry on. I was too scared." She paused. "I wasn't supposed to die that way... I was going to go soon, just not like that."

"What do you mean?" Veronica began to relax. His mother sat down on the end of her bed turned to face her.

"You see Veronica, I had terminal cancer," she continued. "I'd just found out earlier that week. They'd given me three months to live." She wiped at the tears beginning to form in her eyes. "I was so scared. I didn't tell JD or Bud. I didn't want them to worry. I didn't want to suffer! I didn't want them to see me suffer either... especially JD. I wanted him to remember the way I was. I found out too late that it was the wrong choice. JD needed female influence in his life. He began to lose it. By the time he met you his emotions were too strong."

"I'm so sorry," Veronica reached out to touch the older woman's shoulder.

"It's my fault he turned out this way." She continued, "So no I have to correct it." She looked pointedly at Veronica. "This is where you come in my dear. You were always destined to meet JD, only things were supposed to turn out differently. You are getting another chance, not only for yourself but also for JD. It will take time, but you have the ability to change him."

"So, I'm going to be alive again?" Veronica's eyes widened with anticipation. JD's mother nodded.

"Indeed you will be. So will JD." She clasped her hands, choosing her words carefully. "You're a strong girl, Veronica, JD said so himself. You need to use your strength to help him overcome his grief."

"How?" Veronica asked. She may be strong but one look from JD and she was in a trance.

"Show him a different way." His mother stood up. "I really must be going now, darling."

"Wait..." Veronica followed her to the door, "I don't understand."

"You will," she gently patted Veronica's hand, "I'll check in on you now and again. Be strong Veronica, be strong..."


Veronica awoke in a cold sweat. She was still in her room.

'I knew I was dreaming,' she thought to herself. 'That's all it was... a really long dream.' Why had it felt so real?

"Veronica Sawyer..." she heard her mother call, "for the last time, get up! You're going to be late for school." She jumped up and began rummaging through her closet. She pulled on a dark blue skirt and reached for a matching blue sweater. As her hand closed around the hanger, a voice in her head suggested that she reconsider her choice. It was alright to be blue but there was nothing wrong with adding a little color to her life. Veronica's eyes scanned the closet and came to rest on a pale yellow blouse, shoved in the back corner.

It had been a birthday present from Betty Finn. She hadn't worn it since she'd started hanging out with the Heathers. She picked up the blouse, with a shrug and slipped it over her head. The pale color stood out beautifully against the dark skirt and was complemented by her dark hair. She threw her hair in a clip, grabbed her bag and was out the door.

Later that day, Veronica found herself walking through the cafeteria door with the Heathers. It was lunchtime. Tuning out Heather's random babbling, Veronica glanced around the room. Everything was normal. Kurt and Ram were with the jocks, the nerds were in a clump, and Martha Dumptruck was sitting off by herself.

"Here, Veronica," Heather Chandler handed Veronica a piece of paper. "Write a note to Martha Dumptruck from Kurt. Make it hot." She placed the pen in her hands. Veronica didn't respond. It wasn't right. She wouldn't do it.

"No..." she coolly responded. "Martha's never done anything to me..." Heather rolled her eyes.

"Fine then," she huffed, "do the lunchtime poll..." Veronica crossed her arms and continued looking around the room. That's when she spotted him, sitting there in the corner, by himself, staring in her direction. It was JD! Her eyes widened in disbelief and her jaw dropped. It hadn't been a dream. Everything came back in an instant...

Suddenly her conversation with his mother flashed through her mind. This was her second chance... their second chance. She could change things. She had to be strong for him.

"Drool much?" She heard Heather remark snidely. "His name's Jason Dean. He's in my American History Class." Gritting her teeth, Veronica held her hand out.

"Give me the clipboard." She stated flatly. Clipboard gripped tightly in her small hand she strode confidently towards JD. This was the beginning. "Jason Dean?" She spoke clearly.

"Greetings and salutations. Call me JD," he smiled. "Are you a Heather?"

"No, a Veronica," she shook her head. "This may sound like a stupid question..."

"There are no stupid questions," JD replied.

"If you inherit five million dollars and the same day aliens tell the earth they're blowing us up in two days, what would you do?" She raised her eyebrows.

"That's the stupidest question I've ever heard..." JD laughed. "Seriously though... I'd probably just row on out to the middle of a lake. Bring along my sax, some tequila, and some Bach." Veronica smiled. This had been the point were she had originally found herself succumbing to his charms.

"How very." She paused. It was time to change things up. Here went nothing. "Can I ask you another stupid question?" She tilted her head in question.

"As long as it has nothing to do with aliens or large sums of money," JD replied curtly. Veronica took a deep breath. Kurt and Ram were looking their way, ready to come poke a hole in JD's pie.

"Do you play croquet?" She quickly asked. JD nodded. "Well... we'll have to play sometime."

"Sure..." JD looked at her suspiciously. "What's the catch?"

"There's no catch." Veronica replied coolly. "I just thought that you might want to hang out sometime... being a new student and all." She paused, "we could be friends?" She looked up shyly.

JD didn't answer right away. Being friends with Veronica couldn't hurt. He'd been thinking that, as soon as he'd seen her, anyway. He would just neglect to tell her his ulterior motives.

"We could..." he spoke after a moment. "How about we schedule our first game for tonight?"

"After dinner?" Veronica proposed.

"Sounds delightful." JD replied. He picked up his tray and followed Veronica to the door.

"I'll give you directions later," Veronica glided through the door JD was holding open.

"No need," he replied, "I can figure it out." JD strode down the hallway, towards the main doors. Veronica shook her head. She hoped she was doing the right thing. Looking back, she could see the Heathers sitting at the table, glaring in her direction.

'What idiots,' she thought to herself, 'but they're not worth my time..."


Later that evening, Veronica found herself chasing her, usually tame, crocket ball around her yard. She and JD had started out playing a normal game. Now they were just trying to see who could make the wildest shots. It had all started when he'd dumped her cherry slushy down the back of her blouse, messing up her shot. It was a side of JD she hadn't seen before...playful.

"So," she rested her hands on her hips, her gaze following him as he eyed up his ball, "where are you from?"

"I've been moved around all my life; Dallas, Baton Rouge, Vegas, Sherwood Ohio..." he spoke after a moment. "My Dad's job keeps us on the road."

"What does your mom do?" Veronica attempted. She wasn't sure how he'd handle that subject.

"I haven't seen her in seven years," was his only reply.

'Don't push it,' Veronica thought to herself. 'It's not the right time.'

"So what's with the bike? Kind of extreme, isn't it?" Veronica asked a couple of shots later. "Are you trying for the 'Rebel Without A Cause' look?"

"The extreme always makes an impression..." JD smiled.


Dear Diary,

Today is the first day of my second chance at life. At first I thought the whole thing had been a dream: JD, Kurt, and Ram... all of the suicides. It wasn't. I saw JD in the cafeteria, right after I didn't write that note to Martha Dumptruck. I invited him over to play croquet. I know what you're thinking and no... We didn't play strip croquet. We just had a good time. I tried to get him talking about his mom, but he very pointedly avoided the subject. I could see in his eyes though... he's hurting. I hope everything works out. I don't think I can lose him again... I've gotta motor, all of the Heathers are coming over to play croquet.

Veronica


"What were you thinking, Veronica." Heather McNamara said, leaning heavily against her mallet.

"Yeah," Heather Chandler swung at the ball, knocking it through the middle wicket, "...Ditching us at lunch to talk with that Jason Dean character... that was not the smartest move."

"Sorry," Veronica refused to make eye contact with anyone. "JD and I just got into a good conversation. I lost tract of time." No she hadn't. She'd known exactly what she was doing. Heather Chandler took an annoyed swing and knocked her ball into Heather Dukes.

"J.D.? You two seemed pretty cozy." She looked pointedly at Veronica. "I thought you were giving up on high school guys?"

"Never say never..." Veronica smiled coyly.

"What are you going to do Heather?" Heather Duke motioned to the two balls on the ground. "Take two shots or send me out?" The two other Heathers look at her as if she's sprouted two heads.

"It's a legitimate question..." Veronica says quietly. Now it appeared that Veronica had multiple heads.

"Did you have a brain tumor for breakfast?" Heather Chandler places her foot on her red ball. She swings her mallet down hard on the red ball sending the adjacent green one rocketing into a flower bed. Veronica shook her head. Nothing changed. Heather made the shot. Life went on."

"So tonight's the night. Are you two excited?" Heather McNamara asked. Veronica rolled her eyes. She'd almost forgotten about the whole Remington party incident.

"I'm giving Veronica her shot." Heather Chandler spoke. "It's her first Remington Party." She looked pointedly at Veronica. "Blow tonight and it's keggers with kids all next year."

'Here I go again," Veronica thought to herself.

Later that night, Veronica found herself in an all too familiar position. The Remington party had been as awful as she remembered it to be. She argued with Heather, ditched her scum-bag date, and puked all over the carpet. Everything was the same. Everything still hurt. Veronica sat down at her desk and ran her hands threw her hair, tears flowing freely. Now she knew for sure that she wasn't cut out for that particular social life. She opened her diary and began to write.

Dear Diary,

My head is telling me that Heather should die, but I know that's not right. Killing her would solve nothing. Someone else would always be there to take her place. I'm just so frustrated. I thought that I'd be happy being popular this time around, but I'm not. Having everyone "like" you isn't what it's cracked up to be. Now I realize that Betty Finn was a true friend. Maybe I'll give her a call tomorrow. I think JD's here... I've gotta motor.

Veronica

"Dreadful etiquette. I apologize..." JD climbed through her window.

"S'Okay..." she smiled.


more to come...