Author's Note: I know it's been a while, but here it finally is!
Drum roll please. . . .the (REAL) last part of the story! Woo! I feel like I've just achieved a huge accomplishment. Lol. Especially, because I had to revise this part as well. I just wanted it to be good, you know?
Anyway, enjoy everyone!
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Part V: Adjudication
They stood there for a moment, Jimmy waiting and Cindy trying to think of a good opening. After a while Jimmy sighed.
"Libby adviced me to listen to what you have to say," he said, " so talk."
Cindy was surprised by his words. Not so much as the content, just at the fact that he had spoken them. It was the first time he had really spoken a complete sentence to her since Valentine's Day, so she nodded.
For a moment she didn't know what to do, but Jimmy waited. She cleared her throat and spoke, "I. . .I came clean with Nick."
I guessed as much, he thought. He pointed to his face and nodded knowingly, a little annoyed that she wasted time announcing something so obviuos.
Cindy looked embarrassed and nodded. Jimmy could see her eyes tear. "I guess you figured that much out," she said as she looked away.
A tear rolled down her cheek and Jimmy sighed once more. He didn't mean to be so mean, he just couldn't help himself. He was still hurting and even though it had been three days ago, his face hurt too. He could still feel every blow he got. His face had suffered the most damage. It was a good thing he didn't really care too much about his appeance. Though it was embarrassing when people stared. But who could blame them? He had a black eye that was still just a little swollen because of the cut that ran just below his eye brow and he had a massive bruise on his right temple. His cheekbones ached and his bottom lip was busted and his jaw was still sore and there was a bruise just above the left side of his jaw and even the inside of his cheek was cut and he had accidently bitten his tongue when Nick had punched him after the fifth time.
"I regret the way everything happened," Cindy said finally as the bell rang. Jimmy almost didn't hear her. People rushed into the class. Students at their lockers quickly scurried away.
Cindy didn't look up as she wiped her eyes. "I should have just told Nick from the beginning instead of selfishly hanging on to him for appearances." She shook her head and then looked up.
"I don't expect you to forgive me or to give me another chance, Jimmy," she began, "but I would really like it if you could, please, please, consider taking me back."
Jimmy's heart skipped a beat. The panic must've showed because Cindy quickly added, "I don't need an answer right now."
She looked down. "It's just. . .I love you so much, Jimmy," she sobbed. Her tears rolled down her cheeks effortlessly now. She laughed a little at herself as she wiped away more tears. "I guess, it's true what they say: you don't know what you have until you've lost it."
Cindy looked at him again and smiled weakly. "When I realized that I lost you, I just. . .I felt so lost and all I could think about was you."
She loved him? He had never heard her say it before. He often wondered if she did. He looked away, trying to surpress a blush. He loved her too. Very much, in fact. Every cell in his body sang her name. His very soul was meant for her alone, but she broke his heart too many times to count. The trust he had in her was completey destroyed and there was a limit to how much his heart could take. He was not willing to put himself through any more pain.
"I-I can't do this," he said as he shook his head. He didn't even looked at her before he walked into his class and he did not want to look at her when he finally sat down. He kept his head down and waited until he felt she was no longer stainding outside the classroom.
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One final class and the school day would be done for the day.
"Hey, Jim," Carl whispered.
Jimmy barely heard Carl's voice, but he answered with a, "Huh?"
"Do you think you can help me with this American History homework today? I had some trouble with last night's assignment." He smiled sheepishly.
Jimmy turned his head to look at Carl and smiled sadly. "Sure," he said.
Someone tapped Jimmy's shoulder from behind, but he ignored it. After a short pause, he felt the tapping again and he shrugged it off. He heard a low exasperated sigh approaching and then he heard the rattling of a chair and someone's yelp.
The teacher stopped and turned her attention away from the board. She peered over her glasses to the back of the class room. Every eye was on a boy in the back who was struggling to get back up on his feet. He smiled sheepishly, a deep blush playing across his cheeks. He managed to get to his feet and get into an empty seat: Nick's empty seat.
Everyone's eyes shifted when they realized Nick was not in his seat. Carl and Jimmy noticed right away. Nick was in their line of view when they turned around.
Nick sat in the seat directly behind Jimmy, looking as calm as ever and completely unfazed by all the attention he was suddenly receiving.
No one dared to say a word.
With a sigh the teacher went back to writing on the board as she lectured. Everyone's eyes gravitated toward the front of the room, too afraid to comment on what just happened.
As soon as the attention shifted, Nick's eyes narrowed and he leaned forward. "What the hell are you doing?" he demanded, his voice thick with the effort to contain his anger.
Carl immediately froze.
Jimmy stared, too startled to say a word.
Nick waited for an answer, his eyes two slits. He leaned closer, his head slightly tilted as if to say, "Well?"
Jimmy opened his mouth, but he had nothing to say. "Uh. . ."
Was that all he could come up with?! Nick was waiting for a real answer and he looked about ready to take a swing at him. Jimmy may have been able to take it the first time, but a second time? He barely survived the first time! He didn't think he's live through a second.
"I. . ." he shook his head and shrugged.
Nick responded with a scowl. "I'm talking about Cindy, you idiot."
Jimmy definitely did not expect that. Why would he even care?
Nick looked away. "She wants to be with you," he began and turned to him again, "and I know you want to be with her, so why did you turn her down?"
Jimmy turned his attention to the front of the room. "That's none of your business."
"I'm making it my business, Neutron," Nick replied, his voice seething with anger. "Just give her another chance. That's all-"
Jimmy whirled around. "I've given her plenty!" He had said it louder than he intended.
"Is there something you want to comment on, Jimmy?" the teacher asked. "I'm not sure the rest of the class heard that?"
There was soft laughter all around.
Jimmy shook his head, his eyes on Nick. "Too many," he whispered before he turned to look at the teacher.
"I hope you boys are paying attention over there," she said as she turned to the board again.
"We are," they said in unison.
She continued with her lesson.
Jimmy could feel Nick leaning forward. "So what's one more?" Nick asked.
Jimmy scoffed and shook his head. He turned to face him one more time. "Why are you pushing this?"
Nick looked at him, the anger subsiding for a moment to give way to something else. It was a mixture of emotions that Jimmy had never seen Nick express: genuine sadness and contentment. "Because I love her."
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Libby rushed through the halls to get to the second floor bathroom where Cindy waited.
She was sitting in class doing "group" work when she got the text. Apparently things with Jimmy did not go well and Cindy wasn't feeling up to going to class.
Libby burst through the door and immediately heard the sobs in the stall just to the right of her. She opened the door and Cindy sat bunched up on the toilet. Cindy looked up and quickly jumped into Libby's arms.
Tears stung Libby's eyes and she sighed. She ran her hands through her friend's hair with one hand as she held her tightly with the other.
"H-he said. . .h-he couldn't d-do it," Cindy stuttered through tears and sobs. "H-he doesn't w-want to be with m-me anymore."
"Shhh," Libby said. "Just don't think about it anymore."
Cindy shook her head. "He doesn't even want to l-look at me," she cried. She held Libby tighter and then her knees buckled.
Libby held on to her as tightly as she could, but she couldn't keep Cindy and herself on her feet. Slowly Libby sat on the floor as Cindy buried her face in her friend's shoulder.
Libby gently rocked her back and forth. "It'll be okay," she whispered, trying to keep her own tears back and her voice firm, but her voice was quivering with her own emotions now. "It'll be okay," she repeated, though she wasn't completely convinced of this herself.
Libby knew that after this Cindy would have to let Jimmy go. She wondered how Cindy could possibly adjust to her life without Jimmy in it. He had always played a huge role even if she didn't know it herself. Was it even possibly for her to get use to life without Jimmy?
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When American History finally let out, Jimmy could not recall the lesson at all. Nick's words played over and over and over agian in his head: "Beacuse I love her."
Jimmy could not forget the genuine expression on Nick's face. And he said it without hesitation! As though it were a fact of life.
There was something he said after that that bothered Jimmy as well. He thought back to what Nick said last:
"She made a huge mistake when she dated us both at the same time, but she's made her decision," he said, "and it's not me." He leaned back and sighed as he looked away. There must have been something in Nick's eyes that he did not want Jimmy to see because he avoided Jimmy's gaze.
After a moment Nick looked up again. "If I were you, and the girl I loved threw away her reputation to be with me, I'd forgive her for everything and get back with her in a heartbeat."
Her reputation? What had he meant by that? Nick did not say more after that and Jimmy did not ask. Carl did not know what he meant either. Jimmy made sure to ask. He would have to ask Libby when he saw her.
"Libby," Jimmy called, surprised to see her. She was heading in his general direction, but he thought it was weird. Libby's class was in the opposite direction. "Hey, can I-" She walked passed him, but he was quick. He grabbed her wrist and pulled her back. "Why are you crying? And why did you pass me with out so much as a 'hello'?"
She wiped away her tears and looked at him. "Hi," she said. "Did you need something?"
Jimmy looked at her. "Libby-"
She sighed. "Not right now, Jimmy," she pleaded. She looked exhausted. "You had a question, right?"
Jimmy tried to read her eyes. Something happened, that's all he knew, but he wouldn't ask anymore. He nodded. "Nick said something to me in class-"
"Oh, man," she said. She shook her head. "He's just angry. Don't listen to what he tells you."
"No," Jimmy said. "It wasn't anything mean. It's just. . ." He thought for a moment, ". . .he said something about Cindy throwing her reputation away to be with me. What did he mean by that?"
To say that Libby was surprised by this would be an understatement. She was astonished. "W-well," she said, "I. . ." She stopped to think for a moment. "Walk with me," she said.
Jimmy nodded. He waved to Carl and rushed to catch up to Libby. "Rumors started up the day Nick beat you up," she explained as they walked. "When she got there, it was in your defense, which raised a lot of questions to those who watched."
Jimmy listened intently.
"People began to talk," Libby proceeded. "Her faithfulness to Nick was called into question."
Clarity broke across Jimmy's face. "Oh, no," he said, his voice low.
"Yeah," Libby said. She scoffed. "You know, one of the girls she hangs out with or use to hang out with, Jenny?"
"Well, she asked Cindy that day if she cheated on Nick with you," she said and shook her head.
Jimmy looked at Libby. "What did she say?"
Libby turned to him. "The truth!" Libby exclaimed, throwing her arms in the air. "She didn't want to lie or pretend it didn't happen. She came out and told her the truth and Jenny went off to tell everyone she possibly could." Libby sighed. "I was surprised when she told me about it today in the bathroom."
Jimmy's forehead wrinkled in confusion. He opened his mouth to ask, but Libby dismissed him with one hand as she shook her head. "I'm not going to get into it."
Jimmy nodded slowly.
Libby sighed. "After that people just kind of stopped talking to her," Libby continued. "People avoided her in the halls. Everyone took Nick's side, but when they saw that you weren't with her, they all thought that no one wanted her. Girls trash-talked her in the halls, guys would comment as she passed by. People were not nice to her at all. These past three days have been a living hell for her. People would look at her with disgust. Girls mostly and guys! Some guys looked at her with this look in her eyes that clearly said they wanted to-" She stopped herself, too angry to continue.
"I didn't know this was going on," Jimmy said honestly. He hadn't heard any of this till just now.
Libby sighed again. "I did," she said as they walked into a class room. "I didn't think it was that bad, though," she confessed. "I didn't really know how bad it was until she told me about it. They did some real nasty things to her." She walked to an empty desk and picked up the books that sat there.
"I was just so mad at her," she explained. "I thought she deserved all of that, but she really didn't. Yeah, she cheated, but. . ." She shook her head. "And you know, it made it so much worse that I wasn't there with her. I'm suppose to be her best friend and I abandoned her."
"It's okay," Jimmy said. He shrugged. "You were mad, but you've made up now, right?"
Libby looked at him apologetically. "Jimmy, I. . ."
He dismissed her. "It's all right," he said. "Just because you're friends with me doesn't mean you can't be friends with her. You were her friend before you were mine, anyway, right?"
She smiled. "I just really hope that you two can figure out a way to be. . .friendly with each other, at least. Before I didn't want you guys to ever cross paths, but now I-"
"I know," Jimmy said with a soft smile. He let out a tired sigh and sat in an empty chair. "You know, Nick told me he loved Cindy today."
Libby slowly sat in the seat beside him as she put her books back down. "Tell me all about it."
Jimmy laughed. "He said that if the girl he loved threw away her reputation for him, he'd get back together with her in a heart beat," Jimmy said. "He was really pushing me towards her. He wants me to be with her." Jimmy looked at his shoes wondering if it was really a good idea. Just because everyone seemed to be pushing the two back together didn't necessarily mean that they should be back together.
There was a moment of silence between them and then: "She'll be waiting for me under the tree in the front of the school. I'll be out in ten minutes. I'm just going to get my stuff. If you want to talk to her, you've got ten minutes before I get there." She shrugged. "It's up to you." She gently touched his shoulder and stood up. She took her books and walked out of the class room.
Jimmy watched as she walked out. He should have seen that one coming. He smiled weakly. He took a deep breath and stood up. He wasn't going to think about it anymore. This was it. He just couldn't take this anymore.
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Cindy had been waiting for a while. Maybe I should have just gone with her, she thought. She didn't like how people stared at her when she was alone. At least, when she was with Libby, these things didn't seem to matter. She forgot all about the things people did and said when they thought she wasn't listening or when they knew she was.
Cindy looked around, hoping to find Libby in the crowd. She spotted Carl and Sheen who caught her looking. They smiled weakly before they came to a stop on the sidewalk. After a moment they waved, wearing bright smies, but their smiles were not meant fo her. Her eyes shifted to see Jimmy standing at the school's double doors. She looked away immediatly.
Her heart throbbed and she pryed this time for Libby to please come out. She didn't want to be here anymore. She could feel the tears, hot in her eyes.
Her body froze. It was Jimmy's voice she heard, not Libby's and she couldn't move.
"Cindy," he said again, a little louder this time.
Move, she thought. Move!
She could feel the panic welling in her chest, overflowing and ready to burst. Move!She urged herself. Show him you're fine. Show him you're ok. Don't let him know how weak you are. Don't let him see how truly upset you are. Lie, lie, lie, and lie some more!
But when she turned around, the tears had already spilled over and her smile was not convincing. "J-Jimmy," she stuttered.
He looked at her and sighed.
Oh, no, she thought. You've done it. You've ruined it. You're so pathetic. Sopathetic!
She opened her mouth to speak, but Jimmy raised his hand. "I want to talk to you," he bgean, "I dodn't know if what I'm about t o do is the smartest thing, but here goes-" He took a deep breath and looked into her eyes. "I want to be with you."
Cindy was stunned, speeachless, but utterly happy. Relief washed over in one huge tidle wave and she broke down in fresh tears. She covered her face with her hands. "I-I'm so-"
Jimmy grabbed her arms. "Cindy, look at me."
She looked up at him, keeping one hand over her mouth. "This doesn't mean that I've comepletely forgiven you," he said and just like that her happiness disolved. She looked away and nodded. It was incredible how emotions could change so quickly.
"It still hurts," he said and I can not bring myself to let it go completely, I'm sorry."
Cindy nodded again. She understood, she really did. She just hoped that he could forgive her entirely some day.
"I don't trust you," he said. Another direct blow and her bottom lip quivered. Tears streamed down her face and her heart throbbed again. I'm sorry, she thought. I'm so sorry. She looked at him, her eyes pleading. She couldn't take much more. What was he saying? Did he or did he not want to get back together?
"I want to be with you," he said as if he heard her thoughts. Cindy was hopeful, if just for a moment. "I really do," he said, "but I'll always wonder if you're thinking of him when you're with me. I'll always wonder if you're comparing us. It will always be in the back of mind and I'll-"
"Th-then I'll have to remind you every day that I want you instead!" she exclaimed.
Jimmy was taken back by this. He hadn't expected it. "I won't be thinking of Nick while I'm with you, I promise!" she cried in a panic.
"I often thought of you when I was with Nick," she confessed. "I'd wonder what you were doing, who you were with, and if you were thinking about me at all. I wondered if you missed me." She wiped away her tears, but it was a watse. New ones replaced the ones she wiped away in seconds. "I want you Jimmy," she said. "I want you and no one else." She sobbed. "I'll do anything, anythign at all to have you back, so please. . .please. . ."
"You want me instead," he repeated slowly, putting an emphasis on every word. He sighed. "You make yourself sound like a fickle little girl," he said.
That stung, but it did not stop her from syaing, "A fickle little girl who just made up her mind." She looked at him, challengingly as she wiped away more tears. She could feel a little of her strength returing.
Jimmy didn't say anything for a while. He simply looked at her, his face passive and then after a monent, he smiled. He nodded as he looked back at her. "Okay," he said, which sent Cindy's heart in a frenzy. Again her eyes teared.
"But I'm telling you now," he began.
"Oh!" Cindy shook her head as she looked down. This rollercoaster of emotions was far to exahusting for her to handle. She wished he would stop saying things that gave her hope and joy one moment only to say things that crushed it all the next. Why couldn't he just let her hold on to her happiness for a little while longer?
"You'll have enough time to be happy after," he whispered as though he could hear her thoughts again. "I promise."
She looked at him and smiled. "Ok," she sighed.
"If we're going to be together, you're going to have to find a way to gain my trust again and the second you betray me again, we're done."
Cindy shook her head. "It won't happen again."
Jimmy sighed as he let his hands fall away from her arms. He shoook his head as he crossed his arms over his chest. "I don't like coming off like a jerk, but to be fair, I think I'm entilted to it. If only for a while. After all, you weren't exactly the best-"
"I know," she said taking a step closer to him. She placed a hand on his arm. "I won't betray you again."
Jimmy nodded. "I hope that's the truth."
"You are the only person I ever want to be with," she said, her voice firm. "I'll convinve you of that a little every day if I have to. You'll see."
Jimmy looked away. "There's one more thing I need you to do for me before we can get back together."
Cindy nodded. She was willing to do anything at all if it meant she could be with him. She wanted them to start fresh. "Anything."
He looked at her and said, "Convince me a little right now."
"W-wha. .." Cindy could barely form her words. "H-how?"
Jimmy looked around for a bit, thinking. He wanted people to see this, he wanted people to know, so for once he was happy that all eyes were on him. He smiled and then turned to Cindy and said, "You have to kiss me."
Cindy's heart skipped a beat. Was he serious?
Jimmy nodded as though he knew what she was thinking again. "You have to kiss me in front of everyone and it can't be a little kiss on the cheek or a peck on the lips. It has to be a real kiss."
Cindy nodded, but the butterflies in her stomach were almost intolerable and her racing heart wasn't making anythign any better.
She moved closer until their bodies touched. She tilted her head as she leaned in, closing her eyes in the process. She could hear the sound of her heart racing in her ears and she could feel it in her chest. Her pulse quickened and her palms began to sweat. She licked her lips and swallowed hard before she felt her mouth on his and then it was like complete and utter bliss. A new wave of emotions came over her and her chest filled with a sense of relief and peace.
Her lips moved slowly over his and then she could feel him kiss her back and that was when she let herself go. She leaned into him and wrapped her arms around him. She pulled him tightly to her and kissed him with all the passion and love she had to offer.
She could feel him trying to pull away, but she didn't want to let him go just yet. They were both out of breath when Jimmy finally managed to pull away. He laughed, a little embarrassed. He tried to hide the blush on his cheeks, but Cindy could see it.
"If you're still. . .not convinced. . .I could kiss you again," she said, trying to catch her breath at the same time.
Jimmy laughed again, nervous this time. "I don't need any more convincing," he said. "Just let me catch my breath."
Cindy smiled and with a content sigh she embarced him and let her head rest in the crook of his neck. He hesitated for a moment, but then allowed himself to embrace her in return. He tentativley kissed her hair.
"Come on," he said and she nodded, but she wanted to stay like this for a moment longer. "Come on," he said again and this time she could hear the smile in his words. "Libby is ready to burst over there. She wants a word."
This time Cindy laughed. "Okay." She pulled away, but looped her arm through his and stuck close by his side.
"I love you so much," she said. Her voice was low and she didn't think Jimmy heard her, but he lightly squeezed her hand and looked at her with a soft smile, letting her know that he heard.
She was a little disappointed that he did not say it back, but she had to gain his trust first and she knew she would. She was determined, so she smiled back at him and rested her head on his shoulder as she allowed him to lead her to their friends. Libby was a ball of energy. She screamed when they finally approached and jumped on them before either of them could back away.
This, Cindy thought, was going to be easy to get use to.