Katie don't cry, I know,

You're trying your hardest,

And the hardest part is letting go

Of the nights we shared

Ocala is calling and you know it's haunting

But compared to your eyes, nothing shines quite as bright

And when we look to the sky, its not mine, but i want it so

-Miserable at Best, Mayday Parade

Arc III: Drips and Jabs

Sam sat on the bus, knees drawn up to her chest as the rest of the track team piled on. They had a competition today the next town over and she was trying her best to concentrate on it, after all the weeks of doing sprints, long runs and exercises she couldn't help but feel nervous for the final outcome.

She looked up as body settled in beside her and then stared at Jake who turned out to be that body. He'd been unusual the last few days, he and his soccer crew sat at the girl's table at lunch time, walked her to class often and would be waiting by his truck when she pulled up in the mornings. She couldn't help but be perplexed. Ally, Darrel, Ryan and Jen were always running around now with funny smirks on their faces that Sam found quite annoying, it was like they all knew something and she was the onl one that didn't.

Added to that Jake had seemed to become fixated on giving her food. Ever since the night at his place where she'd only been able to have a few vegetables and a few bites of chicken which she though wasn't to bad, he'd turned up to school with fresh hot chocolate and still warm muffins from Clara's every morning for the last two days staring her until she ate at least half of one and at lunch he insisted on her taking half of is sandwich, it wasn't verbal pushy just sitting it in front of her as she sat with her water and staring her down until she ate it.

Very odd indeed.

Now he tensed as the newest track team member, Gabe got on to the bus, eyes scanning the rows of seats.

The blonde and Jake seemed to stare each other down, Sam shifted slightly, uncomfortable and Jake looked at her crunched up as she was and sighed. Somehow she found his jacket stuffed at her back as he turned her slightly, leaning her back against the bus window with her legs stretched out over his thighs. It was slightly more comfortable and it made her stare at him in wonder, trying to figure as to what could be going through his head.

A package landed on her lap and she found herself looking at another Clara's bag, her stomach practically tied itself in knots, and she pushed it away, shaking her head.

"You need to eat Sam," his voice was stern and she clamped her lips.

I'm not hungry.

He scowled at her as the bus started up and she pushed the bag back to him.

His lips clamped together then and he frowned at her ignoring as the blonde sat in the seat in front of them, they had the school's 22 seater that they used for shuttling around school teams but there were more than enough spare seats, in fact they were the only pair sitting together, the others stretched out and talking, discussing the das competition in sleepy mumbles since it was just seven o'clock. She herself had gotten up at five to ensure her chores were done despite her dad saying she needn't bother, they'd needed t be done anyway, she'd needed to work with her filly. Dallas had watched her, the only one up, his wise steady eyes watching her and the wood he'd been whittling in his hands.

An almost smile touched her lips at the thought of the black filly. She'd taken a while to come up with a name for her, at first she'd resented it what god was a name you couldn't call but that had been fleeting neither ere nor there within her thought process. It was gram who'd given her the idea as the filly had thrown temper tantrum the had been sudden and explosive, right after she'd been standing still for Sam to treat her wounds. Waiting until Sam left the round yard the filly had duced her head and bucked out before rearing and going down with a slam, head between her front knees before doing it over and over again with indignant little squeals.

As she'd careened around the pen Gram had come outside, apron on, hands fisted on her cocked hips, she'd shaken her head. "She's like a tempest in a teapot, she needs an outlet, those wounds are closed enough now that you might be able to work her now Samantha?"

Sam had looked to her dad, his eyes were focused on the then standing filly that was gazing at his daughter from her place by the edge of the fence. His admittance was reluctant, but it was worth Sam's excited smile and exuberant hug.

Tempest, was the perfect name for the filly.

She was smart and when she got bored of something that Sam was teaching her she'd often stamp her feet and squeal impatiently. Thankfully today that hadn't been so much and she was starting to stand still while Sam brushed her, willing to walk forward when Sam led her. Soon Sam was hoping to be able to start lunging her and get the bridle out, she didn't want to rush it though, for the filly was good after only three days of starting to do something other than hold still as Sam cleaned and dressed her wounds. She'd have a few scars but Sam was hoping they wouldn't be too bad.

"Hey is that from Clara's?" a voice spoke up, breaking into her thoughts. Gabe was looking at her expectantly. The bus was moving, she'd been lost in thought for ten minutes or so already.

"It's her breakfast," Jake spoke up beside her, his voice a lazy, cool, drawl.

Sam sighed, Gabe scowled, "that's not what I asked."

"Yes but you can read," Jake shot back.

Sam held up a hand in front of both their faces, it was too early in the morning, then she nodded to Gabe and to pacify Jake reached into the bag, broke off a piece and nibbled on it half heartedly.

It was going to be a long ride.

.


.

The two boys eyed each other up, both running in the same race for the school but this was more than that. Where with other members of the team they'd been competing against there'd been a comrade, joking and laughing. This was personal.

The blonde looked to the tall cowboy who'd done no more than lock his jaw, then look away to stretch slightly, dismissing him.

Gabe scowled, "what are you her keeper?"

Jake's spine stiffened, and shuttered brown eyes looked back at him coolly. "Stay away."

His words were simple, spoken from between gritted teeth, Gabe smirked as the cowboy looked away from him. "Why should I? You aren't her boyfriend, she's cute, nice, single…"

He set himself up to run beside the tall cowboy.

Jake's jaw was locked, his shoulders had to be forced to relax slightly, he tried to push the conversation to the back of his mind for a moment but he couldn't stop the last though that entered his head as the starter stood before them.

The gun went off.

Blondie wasn't touching his Sam.

.


.

Sam could feel the tension along the line of girls, she was the only one from Darton in this division and she had to fight to keep herself from losing focus. The boys had been so angry when they'd come back from their race. Jake had won by a long stretch, but watching them accepting their placings she hadn't seen Gabe shake Jake's hand or vice versa. They'd come back to sit in angry, hostile silence, Gabe had looked slightly smug but she couldn't even guess what was going through Jake's head.

She pushed these thoughts out of her head at the starter holding up his gun, bracing herself against her blocks. She focused; blocking out the roar of the students in the crowd, in her mind's eye all she could see was a road, one that she jogged with Jake every morning.

The gun went off and she and seven other girls pushed off. Muscles bunched and flexed and her gaze narrowed into a single focal point of the finish line. Breath sharp, she sprinted neck and neck with three other girls, then two then one.

The last one was bigger than her, lean as anything but tall. Her legs were much longer than Sam's. Sam pushed lungs straining, arms pumping. Her foot was over the line and she took a bit to slow down her momentum, her breath was still struggling, the adrenaline pumping as she jumped up and down, shaking it of before starting the slow jog back to the finish line. Her opponent for the last fifteen meters came up beside her. She was much taller than Sam, probably about six feet and her long legs ate up the ground, black short hair interspersed with red and blue streaks was pulled back from a sharp aristocratic pale face, with cool mocha eyes.

"Nice race," she commented, her breath was coming under control now, Sam still sucked hers in, quieter than before but louder than this girls.

Sam smiled a ghost of a smile.

You too.

The girl stared at her hard, Sam reiterated, pointing at the girl and then holding up two fingers, she repeated it until understanding dawned.

"Thanks," the wry smirk wasn't lost on Sam as they slowed up at the officials tent just by the finish line.

"It was a close one ladies and gents, between Darton and Preston High schools but Darton one by just a fraction of a second," the teen announcer sounded like he was loving it, "give it up for our mighty fine ladies."

Sam arched a brow, she'd won? And then she shook her head at the announcer, he sounded like an idiot, but an amusing one at least.

"First is Samantha Forster, second Taylia Novacia, third…"

She shook the offered hand of the black haired girl, sharing a smile to a smirk and then headed back to the group with a ecstatic coach beside her.

.


.

Sam was tired now on the bus she leaned her head against the bus window, eyes closed not bothering to get up as the bus stopped off for a dinner run, all she wanted to do was sleep. She dozed lightly, exhausted they'd done alright as a team today, ranking forth on the school leader board, Sam hadn't done too bad, two firsts and a second. She'd found a friendly rival in the form of Taylia who with her long legs had just beaten Sam out of the two hundred meter sprint. she was going to have to tell Jake off for going easy on her too.

A body settled in beside her and she cracked open an eye tiredly to see Jake sitting there, a frown upon his face as he looked back at her in disapproval.

What?

He scowled, you aren't eating.

I'm not hungry, she rolled her eyes at him, hadn't they already had this discussion.

You nibbled on a muffin and only had an apple and staminade for lunch! She scowled now.

That's enough for me, stop pushing it! She glared.

His eyes narrowed and then without warning he picked her up. Stunned and surprised Sam could only stare at his broad back. What the?

"You weigh absolutely nothing!" Jake's voice was a low growl and Sam huffed in annoyance at him.

Once off the bus he didn't pause, he just carried her in, past the track team who stared in slight bemusement as he walked up to the counter and duped her on her feet before the registers.

The girl at the counter didn't bat an eyelash, only a slight grin betrayed her amusement.

"Can I help ya'll?"

"An apple salad and a bottle of water."

Sam rolled her eyes. She wasn't hungry, didn't he understand that? She felt like whacking up the back of his thick skull. Instead she huffed and crossed her arms, rolling her eyes to stare at the wall behind the counter. She was concentrating so hard on ignoring him she jarred in surprise as he too her elbow and led her towards a table up the back, away from the laughing yelling team.

Jake was eying her as he sat in front of her. Pushing the food towards her.

"I know." His voice was low and gravelly.

Sam looked up. Eyes confused and slightly annoyed looking, flashing blue at him.

"I noticed, missed lunch, throwing out your lunch, you're tired a lot, clumsy, way to light and your hair."

Sam's empty stomach felt like it was shrinking in on itself even more, her heart dropping as he pointed out things. Then she pursed her lips and straightened her shoulders, she met his stare.

"Your family is worried about you! You barely eat, you don't communicate and the only time you show a real emotion is around your horse!"

His eyes were hooded narrowly and he slumped slightly forward staring into her eyes, "your friends are worried about you. And if you don't start eating, so help me god I will take you to a hospital and make them drip feed you." The last part was an angry low owl, warning her that he was quite serious about this.

She met his eyes for a moment, dark brown depths looked at her solemn and serious. Sam couldn't help but think that there was something else he wasn't saying.

Blue eyes looked down and away from him. She never felt hungry any more, lethargy to food was so common now that she rarely though about it, she'd lost motivation. Motivation for school, for friends, for life.

And now... She swallowed against the lump in her throat. Tears burned at the back of eyes lids, pressing for escape.

Forcing them back, thoughts rose in her mind of the running, the excessive training. The looks shared between her family at mealtimes, her grams pursed mouth and wrinkled forehead, Reena's pointed offerings of food, Dad's creased brow, eyes that watch her like a hawk. The boys murmurs.

Thoughts of school and Jen's extra helping of carrot sticks, that Sam always refused with a shake of the head, the worried frowns of Darrell and Ally.

All their faces swirled in her minds eyes, flashes of images, concern, trepidation, frustration and most notably fright.

Jake touched her hand lightly, yanking her out of her thoughts. She wanted to cry, she wanted to feel something other then swallowing despair, this mounting pressure on her chest and everything pressing on her.

Brown eyes gazed steadily at her, concentrated and concerned. She swallowed, nodded slightly and looked away.

She'd heard what he'd wanted to say, and it took a lot for him to say it. He must be worried.

Not looking at him, hands moved, I can try, I will try. But its hard.

Brown eyes waited for movement, for anything further to be given, silence between them, one minute, two.

"okay," he murmured, "I'll do it with you."

A nod was the only sign to show that he was heard.

.


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Okay do I'm not dead... My bad, I was seriously lackingmotivations for this... I'm going to try to write more, please be patient, thanks to all you lovely reviewers and I'm sorry it's taken me so long...

Everything has been a bit hectic I think!

Plus I'm now trying to study to be a vet so there will be long dry spells,ethics one was terrible because I got writers block and wasn't 100 % sure what to write.

Hopefully I can keep it going.

Xxx