One Breath Away

Disclaimer: I do not own the characters from 'Flight 29 Down', only the plot and OCs are mine. Also, most song titles, band, bar and venue names I use have been pulled from my imagination. It's unintentional and coincidental if any of them exist in real life. I will recognize any that I consciously know exist.

Author's Note:

AU story. No crash. They didn't all go to Hartwell together. Characters are in their mid-twenties. This was adapted from a dream I had (no weird food this time, I swear).

Rated T for language and they are adults in this so...

Suspend disbelief to fully enjoy.

Do look for hidden (and not so hidden) references to the show and actors. Mention any you find in a PM for brownie points. The more obscure the reference, the more points! If you mention them in a review, only the first person to mention a particular reference gets the point.

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Chapter One

He slowly looked around the room. It was pretty crowded, a good turnout. He glanced at his watch. Twenty minutes until the headliners took the stage. His eyes continued scanning the crowd, looking for familiar faces who had promised to come. He stopped when he saw a comely blonde with big blue eyes, a wide smile plastered on her face, staring at him. She was wearing a shiny, pink, low-cut top, short white skirt and dangerous looking stilettos. She had several gold bracelets on both arms that he could hear clinking together, even at this distance. I've seen her before. He gave her a smile and a nod. Her smile grew bigger and she giggled loudly as she made her way toward him pulling a redhead with her.

"Hi, Jackson! We're so excited to see the show!" she gushed in a slightly high-pitched voice that ended in a giggle.

He smiled politely. "Nice to see you again, uh…" he stumbled as he blanked on her name.


"Right, Taylor. Sorry, it's been a long day."

"It's okay, I understand," she smiled sweetly. The redhead next to her softly cleared her throat. "Oh, this is my very best friend, Daley. I told her all about this band and she couldn't wait to come hear them." She gave him a knowing look and giggled again.

"Hi, Daley. I'm Jackson. Nice to meet you."

Daley smiled and said, "You too, Jackson. I love music and Taylor has been going on and on about this band that I just had to see." She blushed. She was dressed in a similar fashion to Taylor, just not as flashy. Earthy colors, no sequins and low heels. Her long, red hair was wild and curly and her eyes were an astonishing shade of light blue.

A guy with a vintage AC/DC concert tee and long, dirty-blonde hair suddenly clapped Jackson on the shoulder. "Hey man, time to warm up, we're on in ten."

"Okay, I'm coming." He noticed his friend eyeing the two girls. "Um, this is Taylor and Daley," he said gesturing at the girls. "This is Ian, he plays lead guitar."

"I know," Taylor giggled. "You're really good."


"Taylor has been to some of our other shows," Jackson added.

"I've been to all of your shows. I'm your biggest fan!"

"That's great. Thanks for coming out tonight, I hope you enjoy the show," Ian said, looking at Daley.

"I like your t-shirt," Daley said, smiling shyly.

"You like AC/DC?"

"Yeah. My dad gave me his vinyl collection from the seventies and eighties."

"Sweet!" Daley turned a faint shade of pink.

"Maybe we'll see you after?" Taylor made it a question, batting her eyes at both boys.

"Yeah, maybe. Enjoy the show!" Jackson called as Ian pulled him toward the backstage area.

"Oh my god! Can you believe it, Daley?!? He remembered me! Didn't I tell you he was gorgeous? Do you think I have a chance with him?"

"Huh? Uh, yeah, why not? He seems nice and...just look at you, he'd be crazy to pass up a shot at that," she said, somewhat distractedly.

Taylor looked smug. "You're right. I am hot and any boy would be lucky to get me!"

"Should we get a drink before their set starts?"

"Yeah, then we'll go stand right in front of the stage. He always stands to the left so that's where I want to be." They made their way to the bar where Taylor ordered a gin and tonic, and Daley, a beer. Then Taylor pushed her way through the crowd towing Daley along behind. She just smiled and winked at the guys and they parted like the Red Sea for her.

The band took their positions on the stage and started a quick sound check. Jackson looked around the room as he checked his guitar and amp. The place was noisy with anticipation. It was a small room, but it made him feel good to know that all these people were here to hear them. All eyes were on the stage. All, except two.

She was inconspicuous in a plain black tank top layered over a white one but she stood out because she was the only one not looking at the stage, eager for them to start playing. She was sitting at the end of the bar, her back to the stage, looking down, concentrating on something he couldn't see. Probably texting, he thought. He watched her for a few more seconds then turned his attention back to the band. They were ready to go.

The lights dimmed further and a voice over the sound system announced, "Ladies and gentlemen, here's the band you came to see. Give it up for…Crashed!"

Applause and screams erupted through the bar.

"Two! Three! Four!" Jimmy called out as he set the beat with his drumsticks. Ian, Jackson, Alec and Mason joined the drums as they started with a hard rocking song, "Arrival". They started every show with this song, it was the first one they had written.

As the set progressed, Jackson found his eyes drawn time and again to the mysterious woman sitting at the bar. She didn't seem to take much notice of the band. Then he noticed that she had pushed her long hair behind her ear and cocked her head to hear them better. No, she is listening. He still couldn't see her face but he noticed her hands were moving. Still texting? Obviously she didn't come to see us, she's probably just meeting her boyfriend and he's late.

They started their signature power ballad, "Survival of the Fittest" and the woman finally turned around. Jackson almost hit a wrong chord. Even though the stage lights were practically blinding him and the room was darkened, he could tell she was quite striking. Then he noticed what was in her hands. A small notebook. She was writing in it. He watched as she glanced around the room and made a few more notes. Is she a reporter? he wondered. Or maybe…a music critic?

As he continued watching, she pulled a Blackberry from her bag and looked at it. She read something that obviously made her happy. It was like a light came on in that corner of the room. Jackson gasped quietly and missed a few notes. What a beautiful smile! Ian, being the only one who noticed his mistake, gave him a funny look and took a few steps toward him. Jackson, realizing his blunder, reluctantly tore his eyes away from the woman and attempted to concentrate on playing. He tried not to, but he found himself watching her again, wondering who she was and what she was doing. He noticed everything about her from the slim silver cuff on her right wrist and several black leather ones circling her left to the way her hair shined in the dim light.

"Survival of the Fittest" ended. Jackson's eyes were diverted from the young woman by loud squealing and clapping right in front of him. He heard "Woo! Yeah! Jackson! Jackson!" He looked toward the screaming at his feet. It was Taylor. Daley was standing next to her, smiling and clapping. He gave them a smile and a nod. He flipped his pick toward them. Taylor caught it and started jumping up and down, screaming and hugging Daley.

Silly fangirl, he thought. Jackson pulled another pick from his pocket and turned toward Jimmy for the count of their final song, "The Storm." It was an old school rocker that they had all written together and their most popular song by far. Hearing the first few bars, the crowd went wild. Jackson looked at the young woman again, he could play this song in his sleep. Her full attention was finally on the band. I'll go talk to her as soon as I get off the stage.

The song seemed to take forever but they finally played the last note. Jackson took his bows with the boys then darted offstage. He put his guitar in its case then made a beeline for the door leading to the bar. He tried to be as gracious as he could to all the people that were patting him on the back and congratulating him on a good show. He smiled and thanked them, all the while pushing toward the bar. He finally reached his goal and there she was, just several yards away, perched on a barstool. She was even prettier up close. She was writing in her notebook again. She paused to read what she had just written then with a satisfied nod, she closed it and shoved it into her bag. She pulled out a cell phone and dialed a number. Jackson asked the bartender for water. Before he could take a step toward her he was turned around by an insistent hand on his arm and a loud, high-pitched voice squealed near his ear.

"Jackson! Oh my god! You were so awesome! Wasn't he awesome, Daley? You guys have never sounded so awesome! Thanks for the pick!" she said, holding it up. She threw her arms around him and squeezed, giggling.

"You're welcome. Glad you liked it. What did you think, Daley?" he asked as he shifted and nonchalantly pried Taylor off of him.

"It was really good. I especially loved the last song." Taylor gave her a nudge and her eyes darted to Taylor then back to Jackson. "Can um, we take a picture with you?"

Jackson glanced back at the woman. She was still on her cell but smirking in their direction, amused by the fangirl's behavior.

"Sure, no problem." Taylor squealed and handed her cell phone to Daley then wrapped her arms around Jackson and leaned her head on his chest. He put his arm around her shoulders and smiled for the camera. Then Taylor grabbed Daley's cell and pushed her toward Jackson. She stood awkwardly next to him, a slight blush on her cheeks. Jackson wrapped his arm around Daley, pulled her into his side and cocked his head toward her as he gave the camera a big grin. Daley looked pleasantly surprised and her smile grew bigger. Jackson noted the expression that flickered briefly across Taylor's face. Jealousy. She took the picture then moved herself between Daley and Jackson.

"So, Jackson, do you think…"

"Excuse me a minute, ladies. I really have to talk to someone. Business, you know." He winked as he said it. "I'll be back."

"Business, sure," Taylor said, a little crestfallen. Then she brightened. "We'll be waiting right here!"

Jackson turned away from the girls as they giggled over their cell phones, comparing pictures. He moved around a group of people between him and the end of the bar. Her stool was empty. Dammit! He quickly looked around at the crowd but he didn't see her. He motioned the bartender over.

"Ernie, do you know the girl that was just sitting here?"

Ernie looked stumped. "Dude, there are a lot of girls in here, I can't remember them all."

"A pretty girl…wearing black. She had long hair…drinking water…using her Blackberry…writing in a notebook during the show," Jackson prompted.

Ernie thought for a few seconds. "Oh yeah, her. Hot Asian chick, right?" Jackson nodded. "She's been in here several times. Always sits in the same spot, doing the same thing."

"Do you know who she is or why she writes in that notebook?"

Ernie shook his head. "Sorry, no clue."

Jackson nodded his thanks then turned and started walking through the crowd, looking for her. Maybe she left. He made his way toward the entrance as fast as he could. He went outside and scanned up and down the noisy street. There were people milling about around the door and dozens more walking up and down the sidewalk. There were several bars on this street and it was Friday night. He saw no sign of her. Damn!

Disappointed, he walked back into the bar. It was still early and there were plenty of people there but the crowd had thinned a little since the end of their set. He looked around once more hoping to see her but all he saw was Ian, toward the back of the room, talking to Taylor and Daley. Jackson ducked through the backstage door. Jimmy and Mason were still there packing up the drum kit, drinking beers and laughing.

"Hey man, great set!" Mason said raising his bottle in a toast.

"Yeah, you too," Jackson answered. He picked up his guitar case and headed for the back exit.

"You leaving already?" Jimmy asked. "The ladies are primed and ripe for the picking," he wagged his eyebrows up and down at Jackson.

"They're all yours, dude. Have at it. I have to work in the morning. Make sure we get paid. Maybe I'll see you guys tomorrow night. Call me after six if you're doing anything."

"Alec's getting our money as we speak. Hey man, you don't know what you're missing!" Jimmy called, pointing toward the main room.

Jackson just shrugged then turned and walked out the door leading to the back alley. I already missed it, he thought. His car was parked just a few feet away. He unlocked it and placed his case on the backseat. He climbed in and started the engine but didn't move for a few minutes. He found himself thinking of the beautiful, mysterious woman, fixing him with an amused smile as Taylor giggled and pawed at him. Jackson shook his head rapidly to clear it. Get hold of yourself! You don't even know who she is. You need sleep dude, you have to work in the morning. Jackson put the car in gear and pulled out onto the street.

He drove home and entered his apartment. From the quiet, he assumed his roommate wasn't home yet. He went to his room and shut the door. He put his guitar down then peeled off his clothes and fell into bed. After working all day then playing so late, he was exhausted but he couldn't get the mystery girl out of his head. Then a thought struck him. If she is a reporter or music critic, I'll probably see her again. There are several shows tomorrow night, she's bound to be at one of them. Jackson smiled and closed his eyes, finally able to relax and drift off to sleep.

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What did you think?

A review would be appreciated ever so much.

This story is a risk for me. I usually have the whole thing written beginning to end, only some editing needed, before I post it. Although I know how I want this to end and several plot points I want to include, it is far from finished. So, I'm not exactly sure how it's going to turn out and that is a little scary to me. But I also think it's good for me, making me go outside of my comfort zone.

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A/N: To all my loyal readers: I'm sorry, but I can't update or post any of my other stories right now, I've been busy packing and moving and unpacking. I haven't located the box with all of my notebooks in it as of yet.

I won't apologize for not updating anything faster, I don't think anyone should ever apologize for that. This is only a hobby or distraction for all of us (or, in my case, a tool of procrastination and escape) and unfortunately, real life has to come first.

And real life has been a major crap fest for the past three months. My job is demoralizing and sucking the joy out of me like a 'Dementor'. It's toxic to my soul but I'm stuck there for now - gotta pay the bills and I'm under contract. But that's life and you have to deal. That's why I started writing this, I needed an outlet for my feelings and this is the only one open to me presently; writing is my form of coping. For all of you still in high school (and college), don't be in such a hurry to grow up, enjoy the 'innocence of youth' and being a 'carefree kid' while you can. Being an 'adult' is great but it can also really suck sometimes. Adult life is full of responsibilities you never dreamed of, you can't go back, and you can't run to anyone. It's all on you.

So anyway, I hope you'll all stick with me. I'll update as soon as I find my notebooks, I'm not about to give up on the 'Flight 29 Down' fandom any time soon. I have so many stories for it and I think of new ones all the time. And even though I enjoy several other current TV shows, none of them have really inspired me to write for them like '29 Down'. (Maybe I'm not inspired because I'm also writing some fiction for the real world trying to find a different and more fulfilling career path). You guys rock and your reviews and PMs give me a boost, you'll never know how much I appreciate that. Blah blah blah, I'll shut up now.