Disclaimer: The Mediator series and all characters in this story, belong to Meg Cabot. If I owned them I'd write another book, but...Oh well.
Summary: Every encounter between Jesse and Suze in 'Shadowland', seen through Jesse's POV.
A/N: This suddenly came to me a couple of day ago when I was trying to decide whether to crack out 'Shadowland' again. I thought how cool it would be to read Jesse's first encounter with Suze from his POV. It must have been huge for him, to finally have someone speak and touch him after 150 years.
Hence forth this little thing came about. It took me a couple of days to work on it. I used the dialogue they use as a base, to give the story, or POV more structure. I found it a bit hard sometimes cos Jesse is such a mysterious character. But I tried anyway, lol. All mistakes are mine.
The Shock of a Lifetime...
When she first stepped through the bedroom door with her mother I paid little attention to them. It had become a regular occurrence having the living coming and going in here as they please. The family had been working hard to make the boarding house into a home for themselves. And just like everything else for the past a hundred and fifty years, I came to accept it.
Instead I decided to divide my attention between the occupants of the room, watching them converse and move about the newly decorated bedroom, to the stunning oceanic view the room offered. Watching the way the strong, bright sunlight reflected off the dark blue ocean like diamonds; before my gaze settled onto the dome of the Basilica in the distance.
I'm sure if I tried hard enough, I'd have been able to remember the way the warm sun used to shine and beat down on me when I was working beside my father on our family ranch. Another pang of loneliness hit me square in the chest, causing me to turn away from the view and the sunlight, to the family who would be living in the house with me for the foreseeable future.
It does me no good to dwell on thoughts of my father and mother, of my younger sisters. On memories of too long ago when I felt and understood more. I only hoped their fate wasn't as mine is.
I envied the living. The way they carried on with their lives, bustling about. Some managing to move along life's pathway smoother than others. Being able to talk with one another, or just sit in each other's company and just enjoy the companionship and the feeling of being around loved ones and like-minded people. To have your presence acknowledged by another, even to just have the nod of a head as you pass someone on your way. That was all I wished for, to have a friend.
Little did I know, my wish was about to be fulfilled...
"All right," she glared at me distastefully. "Who the hell are you?"
Shocked would be too small a word to describe how I was feeling when the girl addressed me. After she had seen her mother to the bedroom door and turned around to glare at me, the thought that she could actually see me never even entered my mind. I was so sure I had heard wrong, that maybe she was speaking to someone I hadn't noticed somehow.
I was so convinced of this that I actually turned to look behind me. Only to come face to face with the beautiful ocean view I had only been admiring not long before. The same changing scenery I had been keeping vigil on for a century and a half.
I pivoted back around to find her still standing there, staring very intently back at me. Emerald green eyes clashed with dark brown ones. Warring emotions in both sets as she stood waiting for me to answer her question. But my mind was far too filled with different thoughts that I couldn't even recall the original question.
"Nombre de Dios!" I exclaimed hoarsely. It was the only thing I could think to say in my new found situation. To me, that summed up everything I was feeling. The only saying that conveyed how surprised, shocked, excited and confused I was. I had given up on anyone ever being able to see me.
"There's no use calling on your higher power," She said, as she swung her pink dressing table chair around and straddled it. "In case you haven't noticed, He isn't paying a whole lot of attention to you. Otherwise, He wouldn't have left you here to fester for – " she stopped her speech to scrutinise me. Leaving me feeling uncomfortably embarrassed in the wake of her stare. I carefully tried not to let my reactions show on my face.
"What is it, a hundred and fifty years? Has it really been that long since you croaked?"
I stared at strange girl trying to comprehend what she was saying. Only to leave myself even more thoroughly confused than I was before. Her speech was something I had not recognised before. Her use of words was leaving my turbulent mind spinning.
Instead of sitting there, seemingly unresponsive and rude I decided to try and voice my thoughts. I may have been dead for longer than she could imagine, but I still had some semblance of manners when around a lady. I hoped speaking would help clear my jumbled thoughts a bit faster.
"What is . . . croaked?" I asked.
Only to have my voice come out sounding rusty from not having to use it for so long. This just left me feeling more determined to try. She must have only been around sixteen, about the same age as my younger sister Marta. Another pang of loss hit me. Trying not think about it I studied the girl sitting in front of me. There was something about her. Something in her eyes that told of a different story, to the girl I was observing. I could not identify what though. Maybe it was because I had not spoken to someone in such a long time. As lonely as I was, I still was not prepared to finally have someone be able to see me. Let alone a girl.
I fought to get my scattered emotions and thoughts under control. Here was a living, breathing person talking to me and I was wasting it.
She rolled her eyes at me, seeming to be impatient with my non understanding of her foreign words. "Kicked the bucket. Checked out. Popped off. Bit the dust." She stopped to survey my reaction. She must have seen the look of confusion still holding ground, because she soon reiterated. "Died."
"Oh," I replied, understanding dawning. "Died," But I still didn't know how she could possible see me. When for so long, no one could. I shook my head, trying to keep up with her. "I don't understand," I explained. "How is it you can see me. All these years, no one has ever –"
"Yeah," She said sighing and cutting me off mid sentence. Becoming increasingly frustrated with my ignorance of the whole situation. "Well, listen, the times, you know, they are a'changin'. So what's your glitch?"
I could tell this girl was going to leave me more confused in these coming minutes, than I have ever been in my whole living and after-life. She seemed to have a skill for it.
I just blinked at her again, trying to make sense of everything she was saying to me. Apparently giving her time to scrutinise me again, leaving me feeling more open and exposed under her watch the second time around.
Trying to get back to the point I echoed her. "Glitch?" Shifting to make myself more comfortable after her inspection, I turned to lift a booted foot up onto the window seat next to me. She seemed to have trouble concentrating too. Appearing a little flushed she swallowed, trying to clear her throat.
"Glitch," She said again. "Problem. Why are you still here?" I looked at her with a blank expression on my face. But my interest was piqued now. She thought I had a problem or a dilemma and wanted to help me? Noticing my clear expression, she grew tense and annoyed again trying to explain to me something I didn't think I would ever truly understand. "Why haven't you gone to the other side?"
I shook my head, not following. "I don't know what you mean."
This consequently was not the answer she was looking for. I wished I could comprehend what she was getting at. Finding an answer to be evading me, I just continued to look at her. She was getting slightly indignant by this point. And it was showing in her expression. I started to find it slightly amusing at just how stubborn and impatient she was.
"What do you mean you don't know what I mean?" She snapped at me, becoming more agitated and pushing some loose, shoulder length brown hair, out of her face and her eyes. "You're dead. You don't belong here. You're supposed to be off doing whatever it is that happens to people after they're dead. Rejoicing in heaven or burning in hell, or being reincarnated or ascending to another plane of consciousness, or whatever. You're not supposed to be just . . . well, just hanging around." She ranted at me.
It was quite the speech and left me becoming even more entertained by her. I couldn't resist teasing her slightly, just like I used to when I was alive and with my younger sisters. I always found it quite funny seeing their frustrated reactions. Hence my slightly making fun of the girl before, me with my delivery answers.
"And what if I happen to like just hanging around?" I questioned her brightly.
Just as I expected, the retort didn't go down well with her. She looked ready to hit something or someone. "Look," she informed me. I saw her try to get her anger under control as she swung her leg over her pink chair she had been sitting in and abruptly stood up. "You can do all the hanging around you want, amigo. Slack away. I don't really care. But you can't do it here."
I felt slightly guilty for making her feel uncomfortable in her own and new, from what I gathered when she first arrived, home. It wasn't fair to her. I was starting to relax in her presence but she apparently wasn't in mine. So I tried a different tact, to try and rectify my mistake. By introducing myself like the gentleman I was raised to be. Something I should have done before it got this far.
"Jesse." I told her, not moving from my position still seated on the window seat.
"What?" she answered.
"You called me amigo. I thought you might like to know I have a name. It's Jesse." I repeated, enlightening her.
She seemed to mull that over in her mind, before nodding at me. "Right. That figures. Well fine. Jesse then. You can't stay here, Jesse." She finished, leaving out passing her own welcome and name to me. It appeared I was going to have to work for it.
I smiled at her, another thing I hadn't done in a long time. Being dead and having no one to talk to never really gave a person a reason to smile. Now there was I didn't want to ever stop. It felt too good too. It appeared she wasn't going to divulge her name to me without a little push. Although I heard her mother call her something earlier, I still wanted confirmation from her.
"And you?" I asked.
"And me, what?" She glared yet again. She was starting to get jittery and I wonder if she ever relaxed and was always so snappy. Or maybe I was the special exception because I was dead and apparently now haunting her bedroom. No doubt it was both.
"What is your name?" I asked calmly. As if she wasn't standing there, wishing she was anywhere but here at this given moment. She was quite stubborn and wilful and I found it a bit of a challenge trying to make polite conversation with her.
She glared even harder at me then. Her patience seemed to be stretched extremely thin. "Look. Just tell me what you want and get out. I'm hot and I want to change clothes," I took a quick glance of the apparel she was wearing. A thin black shirt that surely must have been attracting the heat on its own. And she wore ripped faded pants. They didn't look that comfortable and they seemed to be quite old, considering the holes in the knees. From my position, her black leather pointed boots on her feet seemed to trap the heat in too.
The outfit in whole certainly wasn't something I'd expect a girl to wear and just made her look intimidating and unapproachable. Somehow I believed that was the effect she was going for in the first place.
"I don't have time for -" she continued.
"That woman – your mother – called you Suzie." I said, cutting her off not willing to back down. It was rude and presumptuous of me, but effective all the same. I stared back just as intently letting her see I could be just as stubborn as she appeared to be. "Short for Susan?" I continued, asking politely.
"Susannah," she instantly corrected me, telling of how much she must have to correct my mistake to others. "As in, 'Don't cry for me.'" I couldn't help but brighten my smile at her from her reluctant answer.
"I know the song." I replied. She didn't seem impressed by this new piece of information but at least we were finally getting somewhere at last. Susannah . . . It was a very mature name and I wondered why her parents chose to name her Susannah instead of Susan. Having shorter names seemed to be more popular in this era. It was just another thing I could ask Susannah in the future.
Although the wise choice to wait until she was more willing to sit and talk politely soon came with that thought.
"Yeah. It was probably in the top forty the year you were born, huh?" I chose to ignore the sarcastic response and kept the smile on my face from turning into a full blown grin. I was quite enjoying the bantering going on between us. It was very refreshing for me.
I recalled back to her claiming this to be her room and asking me to leave. I really wanted to keep the conversation continuing so I casually asked. "So this is your room now, is it, Susannah?" I quickly swept my gaze over the whole room, before returning them to Susannah's flushed face.
"Yeah," she said tightly. "Yeah, this is my room now. So you're going to have to clear out."
I found it interesting how Susannah took on a defensive stance crossing her arms, obviously expecting me to retaliate to her. But I doubted she expected my reply. That I wasn't going to be going anywhere as easily as she hoped I would.
"I'm going to have to clear out?" I asked, raising my eyebrow enquiringly. "This has been my home for a century and a half. Why do I have to leave it?" The smile remained on my face, but I saw tension lines forming around her mouth. She dropped her arms and clenched her fists at her sides. Frustration and impatience plain on her naturally pretty face.
"Because," I could hear the anger in her voice, telling of how mad she really was becoming. "This is my room. I'm not sharing it with some dead cowboy." Was her scathing reply.
I felt the smile drop off my face instantly with an angry sneer replacing it very quickly. My own rage raising with each breath it took for me to try and curb my fury. I slammed my foot down on the floor hard enough to make her jump. The satisfying thump in its wake relieved the small fire and stood to my full height, towering over Susannah. Shocked and hurt by her insult.
I could feel my fury ripple through me. "I am not a cowboy," I informed her. Muttering a curse under my breath, I channelled my own wrath and frustration on the objects in Susannah's room. Looking for a target other than the girl standing in front of me to lash out and release some anger on. I had a hundred and fifty years to perfect my kinetic energy and I was damn good at it. Satisfied to hear the large mirror hanging over her dressing table start to shake on its precarious hook.
Susannah glanced at it with a nervous expression, seeming slightly agitated at the whole scenario as I slowly dwindled beyond calming.
Susannah put both of her hands, palms outward, to fend off my fury towards that statement. "Whoa," she cried out. "Down. Down boy." But I didn't hear her. I was too mad over her calling me a cowboy. That was all I could focus on.
How dare she call me such a thing! My family is honourable, and just. They deserved everything they ever worked for. And I told her as much. "My family," I raged at her, jabbing my finger in her face. "Worked like slaves to make something of themselves in this country, but never, never as a vaquero -"
"Hey," Susannah interrupted, grabbing my pointing finger hard enough to pull me towards her. "Stop with the mirror already. And stop shoving your finger in my face. Do it again, and I'll break it." She hissed at me, throwing my hand aside like a dirty spoiled rag.
And that's when for the first time in one hundred and fifty years, I had contact with a live person . . .
Everything seemed to come to an extremely slow crawl, like time itself had stopped for that one moment. Holding its breath to see what happened next between the ghost and strange girl. Standing by my side gaping in wonder and shock as my mind raced with too much I couldn't process. Overtaking the shock I was still reeling with, from being spoken to. But then to have been touched the way I had . . .
I couldn't think about anything other than the warmth it had shot throughout my body. That small minute contact she had with my outstretched, patronizing finger, sent waves of heat and numbing reality all over my body and mind. From head to toe the shock stalled me, reaching out and tickling every nerve ending possible. It felt as though every hair was standing on end like I had been caught standing in an electrical storm.
All the anger and fury I had moments before, evaporated instantly. As if the strong emotion hadn't been there and didn't exist, period. The mirror stopped shaking on the wall and silence seemed to reign in the place of my kinetic energy seeping back into me.
All I could do was gaze down at my finger with wide eyes, half expecting it to fall off right then and there. Astonishment, shock, fear, awe and surprise written all over my face coupled with every emotion possible. I was sure that if I had a heartbeat, Susannah would have been able to hear it thumping wildly with excitement.
The air seemed to be crackling around me. All I could hear was a dull roaring sound in my ears, the edges of my vision beginning to turn grey like I was close to fainting from my overloaded senses. My mouth went dry and my tongue seemed rooted to the roof of my mouth. I couldn't swallow, let alone attempt to talk in any coherent way.
The finger she touched was on fire, like Susannah still had her small hand firmly gripping it. But that didn't seem right . . . because I was dead! How could she touch me the way she had? And how could I feel the action with its combined fire crawling and screaming through me. It was terrifying and exciting, with the infinite possibilities it opened to me. Who was this girl? Where did she come from?
And . . . Why now?
I heard Susannah take a breath. "Now, look, Jesse. This is my room, understand? You can't stay here. You've either got to let me help you get to where you're supposed to go, or you're going to have to find some other house to haunt. I'm sorry, but that's the way it is." Susannah said all traces of anger gone from her voice. Instead, what sounded like remorse was in its place.
That realization made me pull my gaze up to glance at Susannah. It was almost as though I was just seeing her for the first time. As though before I was looking, but I wasn't really seeing her truly. Disbelief and shock must have been seen clearly in my eyes. Open wide and clearly vulnerable all over again. Somehow I managed to form a question that even as I said it, didn't feel right to my troubled mind.
"What kind of . . . girl are you?" I asked desperately. Hesitating for a second with the girl issue. Because honestly . . . I had never known a girl who held so many differences, abilities and power before.
"I'll tell you what kind of girl I'm not," She bit back at me angrily. "I am not the kind of girl who's looking to share her room with a member of the opposite sex. Understand me? So either you move out, or I force you out. It's entirely up to you. I'll give you some time to think about it. But when I get back here, Jesse, I want you gone." Susannah concluded, spinning on her heeled boot and leaving the room.
And apparently to give me some time to decide whether to leave or not. I couldn't process everything. I didn't even know where to start! But the first thing to deal with was Susannah wanting me gone. From her new room, her shock and her life.
My mind was still a little bit foggy, but I understood what Susannah said to me. And I could understand why she didn't want me around. I would have felt the same in her position. Susannah had more right to be here then I did. She had a life and I had nothing but the new knowledge of so much more.
So much had changed already I couldn't imagine ever getting over what happened between us. The memory was already engraved into my soul, determined to stay in its rightful place forever. And I knew I would never be able to look at my surroundings and sit in Susannah's room, with the same perspective again.
But it didn't mean I had to go too far away or for long. Something told me Susannah was going to be a certain fixture in my life from that very intense moment. Whether she was prepared to accept that truth or not, or even if I was. But even as I thought it, I knew there was no doubt in my mind that I would.
Susannah changed everything for me in just a few precious moments. No longer was I alone. No longer did I have no-one to speak with. And that little voice, in the back of my mind that told me Susannah was more important and worth the discomfort that may come our way; was also telling me something good was going to come of it, and Susannah would be at the heart of it.
Until then I had to find myself another place to haunt, before the subject of my clearing thoughts returned and decided to force me out instead. As much as I enjoyed the warmth and sensations with Susannah's small contact; there were deeper feelings stirring and awakening, that I knew I couldn't begin to assimilate. Nor was I ready.
'See you soon, Susannah.' I sent out on one last thought, before departing of our room.
A/N 2:Soooo, what did ya think? Good, bad, down-right nasty! Think I should leave the Mediator fics to the professionals? Lol, thanks for reading, please review :)