The next morning, Jett stood in front of his mirror, trying to figure something out. Whether it was vanity, self-awareness or something else, he'd always done that when he had a major problem – stood in front of the mirror and tried to see if his reflection could tell him something. He hadn't slept well the night before. He'd stayed up until the early hours of the morning trying to figure out what to say to Kayla. Once he thought he had it figured out he climbed into bed, but he kept worrying about something going wrong. So now, exhausted but nervous adrenaline pumping through him, he prepared for a one-on-one with her. He just hoped she'd be at school early today – he didn't think he could stand having to sit through class and not knowing what Kayla was thinking, particularly since their classes were together.
He sped down to the kitchen, apologized for not eating breakfast this morning, and went immediately to his bike; he'd have plenty of time to explain to Miz Coretta and his dad later. When he got to school, he headed for their lockers, and didn't see her there. He was thinking of just sitting there in front of her locker until she arrived, other curious students be damned, when he heard noise coming from the auditorium.
He got over there, peered around the door, and smiled. Kayla and a couple of her fellow student body officials were setting up for the assembly later that day. How typical of Kayla, he thought, to sacrifice her own sleep to help the school. He stood and watched her for a minute. To anyone else she would have looked normal and content, but Jett knew her better than that. He brow was furrowed in that inconspicuous way she does when she has something on her mind but doesn't want anyone to ask her about it. Jett's smile disappeared as the intensity of her frown – which he knew wasn't just from concentrating on her work – sank in.
Jett approached her cautiously, needing to talk to her but afraid to at the same time. She noticed him out of the corner of her eye and set down the marker she was using to write on a poster. He stopped when she looked up, her face a portrait of sadness and confusion. "Can we talk?" He spoke softly, so as not to draw attention from the other two people in the room – he knew that must be the last thing Kayla wanted right now. She took a deep breath then nodded, a good sign. She told the others that she'd be back and headed out to the hall with only a momentary glance at Jett. He followed.
When she got a short ways into the hall, she stopped and spun around to face him. Her arms were crossed in front of her chest, more to protect herself than from anger at this point. He bit his lip before starting.
"Kayla, I thought about what you said. I spent all night thinking about it, and I need to tell you something." She gulped quietly, causing him to hurry to the next part. His calm demeanor now breaking and giving way to anxiety and passion, his next words came out cracked and quiet, but steady with determination. "My conclusion is that, while I see why you accused me of what you accused me of last night and I'm so, so sorry for making you think that, you were very wrong in all your assumptions."
Jett couldn't help but smile at Kayla's raised eyebrow, a clear indication that she was not happy being wrong. "Sorry, I'll try not to say you're wrong in the future. But I need you to understand something. You, Kayla, are the only reason I get out of bed some days. You, and no one else, are whom I call when I really need someone who understands. It's your picture I've secretly carried in my wallet for months, and taken out to look at when I need strength. It's you that I was missing, when I was with Tara.
I couldn't figure out at the time why there was this void. I thought it would go away, no big deal. But then I'd look at you. Like at that picnic. I could tell you were upset, and suddenly, she wasn't there for a moment. It was only you, and my desire to help you. I acted like an idiot. I was scared of how much you mean to me, so I tried to push you away. I tried to get someone to take your place. I hope I'm not saying the wrong thing when I tell you that I think I needed that to realize, without a doubt, that no one can. No one can replace you, K. You're right, you've done everything for me. But you're also wrong – I do appreciate it. More than you know. More than I could ever tell you."
Kayla was amazed and speechless. Her voice gone, she instead reached out for Jett's hands and held them as he continued, now in an even more emotional voice. "There's, um, there's one more thing I need to tell you. I don't know how to say it, really. I mean, I know I can say anything to you, but this is… well, I guess you'll see. Kayla, what I had been trying to do was not just to replace your friendship, but to replace… everything else you mean to me, too. And that can't be replaced either." Kayla wasn't understanding. "I adore you more than anyone else. More than any other girl. Do you understand?" He sighed, knowing he wasn't going to be able to beat around the bush anymore. "Kayla, I'm in love with you."
Her mouth dropped. Jett was suddenly worried he'd done it all wrong, that she didn't like him like that, that he'd destroyed their friendship once and for all. She, however, quickly recovered and tightened her hands on his. He looked down at their joined hands for the first time and lit up at the sight – it was perfect. He looked back up at Kayla.
"I love you too." She spoke clearly, trying to get him to really understand. He got the message, and suddenly felt lighter than he'd ever felt in his life. "I've loved you for a while now, Jett. I'm sure that's why I got so upset – JB definitely didn't." They both laughed, and he pulled her into and long hug. A very long hug, in fact, and when they finally did release each other, students were beginning to file into the school, looking at the pair oddly.
"Let's never do this again, okay?" Jett asked, then clarified, "let's never hurt each other because we're afraid. It's not worth it. You are the only one I want, the only one I've ever truly wanted. I'm sorry I had you fooled – but if it helps any, I almost had me fooled, too. I must be a really good actor." She gave him a gentle punch. "Almost. But I couldn't get you out of my mind. I'm good at denying things, but not good enough to do that. So, what do you say? Okay?"
Kayla smiled at him, unable to remember a time she had been this happy and content. His eyes hadn't lied to her all these years – he really did feel it, just the way she did. She supposed that you can tell a lie enough times to believe it, but never to make it the truth. And usually, when something's not the truth, it has a way of disappearing and never reappearing. But when it is the truth, it has a way of staying, through all the rough times. Just like her and Jett. "Okay."