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Chapter 11: Most Important

"Jennifer Gaffney," her composition teacher said. She looked up, they'd been in school for almost two weeks. "If you wouldn't mind staying after class." She nodded and the walked up to the desk once the bell rang. "Jen, I," he said with a sigh, "I've noticed a distinct change in your work this year."

"Is it not as good?" Jen asked. "What can I do to,"

"No, no," he shook his head, "it's very good. Exceptional in fact, you're showing a great deal of growth, but it just seems," he looked at her. "It's much darker in tone," Jen's eyes got big. "Is everything alright?"

"Of course," Jen nodded. "Really, I just," she searched her brain for a quick explanation, "I read a lot of Poe this summer, I found this old anthology in my father's office, I guess it stuck with me or something." There, that would solve it.

"Alright," he nodded. "Just, if you need someone to talk to." Jen nodded.

"I'm really alright," she said, "thank you for your concern though." She hurried out of the classroom and shuffled down the hallway. She noticed Julie shooting daggers out her eyes at her. They hadn't even talked since Julie had warned her away from Adam. Which was stupid. Like Jen even wanted Adam Banks anymore! What she did want, but knew she couldn't have was staring her in the face. Literally, the only person who's looks burned her more than Julie's were Dean's. Since she went to go see him that night she hadn't spoken to him. She was so scared that the minute Dean really touched her she'd just feel Devon's hands pressing her. It always happened with Jared, after all. She couldn't bear it with Dean.

"Hey Jen," Adam walked up to her. She looked at him.

"Uh hi," she said and kept walking. He followed after her. "Adam, come on." She groaned.

"Why are you avoiding me, exactly?" He asked. She crossed her arms.

"You know why," she said. "Julie doesn't want us to hang out or whatever."

"And you listened so well the last time she said that," he said. She laughed. "So, making out with Dean Portman is worth pissing her off, but being friends with me isn't? I see how it is." She shook her head.

"She doesn't trust us," Jen said.

"I know," he said. "Look, I just want to make sure you're doing OK."

"I am," she shrugged. "Thanks though."

"You're in Honors Geometry this semester right?" He asked and they kept walking.

"Uh huh," she said. "I'm doing OK." He looked at her. "OK, fine I need some help, but I'll find someone."

"You did find someone," he said. "I'm tutoring you again, because I rocked last year."

"Julie won't like it," she said.

"Let me deal with Julie," he said. She nodded. "Look Jen, if you need to talk we can talk. I know I wasn't great this summer."

"I shouldn't have lay it all on you," she said. "But thanks, I'm really doing OK." He smiled.

"OK, so I'll see you in the library today, after practice," he said. She nodded and he walked away, over to Julie. She looked at him.

"This is a bad idea," Julie said. He kissed her.

"You know she's too pissed at you to let you keep an eye on her," he said. She nodded. "I know you're worried, but Jules, I don't feel that way about her, not anymore."

"If you say so," Julie mumbled.

Jen sat on the steps at lunch time and ate quietly. She glanced over her shoulder and sighed as Fulton Reed sat down with her.

"What?" She said simply.

"Do you and your sister have some kind of pact with the devil to like kill him something?" Fulton asked. Jen looked at him and raised one eyebrow. "I mean, clearly you're not actual human beings you've just been sent to like reap his soul."

"First of all, if we were don't you think we would find a better soul?" Jen said. Fulton nodded. "And also, he broke Julie's heart, if you'll recall so that doesn't really hold up."

"Good point," Fulton said. "But still, you're really messing with his head."

"He had sex with me to make my sister jealous," she said. "Again, he wins with the head messing."

"He didn't have sex with you to make your sister jealous," he argued, "I mean he totally hit on you to make her jealous, I'll give you that. But he had sex with you because," she crossed her arms and looked at him. "You're kinda scary, has anyone ever told you that?"

"Yes," she said. "Please go away now." He looked at her. "God! What?"

"I just thought that maybe you should talk to him or something," Fulton shrugged. She looked at him.

"Did he ask you to talk to me?" She said. He frowned.

"Well, no," he said, "but I mean, I know, he's really being weird."

"You know, he hasn't talked to me either," she stood up. "Now please excuse me." She stood up and walked over to the table where the Ducks were sitting.

"Jen," Julie said, "this really isn't,"

"I'm not here to talk to you," Jen said and glared right at Dean. "If you have something to say to me Dean Portman, you can say it yourself!" He stared at her, mouth full.

"Uh," he managed to stutter and Jen just huffed and turned around. Julie looked at him. "Cat, dude, I swear I haven't talked to her in weeks."

"Right, sure," Julie said. He looked at her. "You better go, or else she'll probably never talk to you again." He stood up and followed Jen out into the hallway.

"OK, what was that about?" He said. She looked at him. "I mean, you showed up out of nowhere, and you kissed me, and you said you missed me, then you don't see me or talk to me again. And now you're pissed at me and I could see that, if I'd done something, but you haven't given me a chance to do anything." She looked at him. "God, you drive me insane, and I can't stand how I feel about you." She looked at him and swallowed.

"I know, I'm sorry," she said. "I just thought," she looked at him. "I meant it when I said I missed you, but I can't be with you!"

"Why not?" He said, "why not this time? Jenny, I'm over your sister. I want you," he stepped forward and put his hands on her hips. "Just you," he whispered.

"Don't," she whispered. "I can't, I just can't." He kissed her. "Dean," she whispered. "I just can't."

"Are you still scared of me?" He asked. "Of this, whatever the hell it is?"

"A little," she said.

"Don't be," he kissed her again. "We'll be perfect this time." She sighed and looked up at him.

"Can we just have fun, and see?" She whispered. He smiled and nodded.

"That sounds perfect," he said.

Julie lay in bed with Adam his arms around her from behind. She closed her eyes feeling his face press into her hair.

"I love you," she said. He smiled and hugged her closer.

"I love you too," he said. "You're the most important person in my life."

"Mmm," she smiled. "Right back at you."

"I mean it," he said as she rolled over onto her other side. "Julie, I don't know what I would do if I lost you."

"You won't though," she said softly. He smiled. "Not ever." He traced her face with his fingers and she smiled. "I won't ever leave you."

"Even if I do something stupid again?" He asked. She looked at him.

"I'll forgive you," she said and kissed him. "I'll forgive you anything." He smiled and kissed her softly.

"You really will huh?" He said.

"Yes," she nodded, "but don't test it!" He laughed.

"I won't," he smiled. She hugged him.

"Tell me again how important to you that I am," she stretched. He laughed.

"You're the sun and the moon," he kissed her neck. She giggled. "You're air and food and water." He tickled her side.

"OK, fine," she groaned, "let's just go to sleep." He smiled and she put her head on his chest. "I love you."

Portman groaned as Jen straddled him and they made out. Her hands were gripping hungrily at his shirt pulling him closer to her. He slid his hands over the bare skin on her lower back and she whimpered. This felt good, and wrong all at once. The usual mix of fear and bliss that she got when Dean touched her was there, and mixed with the way she'd been wallowing in self pity it was like a really hard drug. One that she liked taking a whole lot.

"Whoa, whoa," he said and pushed her back. She looked down at him. "You need to chill out, Jenny."

"Why?" She said. "It feels good." He smiled.

"Yeah," he nodded and pushed her off, "it does, but it feels, well," he swallowed, "familiar." Her face screwed up in confusion, sitting on her knees. "What exactly feels good?"

"What do you mean?" She asked and crawled back over to him. "You know. Us, this, we feel good." She kissed him. "All of it." He pulled her close again.

"Wait," he said softly. "Is it the fear?" She looked at him. "You said that you were afraid." She nodded. "Does the fear feel good? Right?"

"Well it," she looked at him, "not exactly, it just makes it exciting." She kissed him again and he pushed her away.

"Get out," he said sharply. She looked at him. "I'm serious, Jen, get out of here." She stood up and stared blankly at him.

"Dean, I don't understand," she whispered, "I thought you."

"I won't be the Gaffney girl thrill ride," he said simply, "not again." She stared at him.

"This is about Julie?" She said.

"No," he shook his head, "it's about me." He stared right at her, their eyes locked. "I know what I want. I want you, that's it end of story. But I'm not being your risk, or your way to piss off your parents, or Julie or whoever." She looked at him. "I did that before and I'm done with it. So if you want to be with me, awesome. But no way am I going through that again, so get out." Her eyes filled with tears and she ran out of the room. "Shit!" He muttered.

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