Summary: This story is A/U...Jessie has a new family and beings life at a new school, where she feels she will be completely out of place...until she meets Katie. As their relationship evolves, Jessie realizes Katie has demons and a secret which can eventually destroy her.
Disclaimer: I don't own Once and Again, or any of it's characters, or any of it's storylines. Unfortunately.
Author's Note: This story involves cutting. If you don't agree with it, I suggest you don't read. Not everybody cuts for attention. For some, it truly is the only escape that they have from the pain of life. Those who cut, need support and people who believe in them. If people just leave them, it gets worse. So many people out there cut or have cut, and this is going to be a deeply personal story. I'm not writing this to hear lectures on how cutting is a joke and those who do cut are simply showing off. Cutting is a problem. And it's very real. And if I can raise awareness of it, even only among this small community, then maybe there will be a brighter hope for someone in the future.
And I do apologize for never finishing Falling...I had intended to continue with it but life got...I'll say interesting. I haven't picked up a pen, or rather I guess keyboard, in months. So if my writing is a little rusty I do apologize.
As Jessie walked through the big double doors at the front of the school, she felt almost ready to vomit. For once, though, it wasn't owing to the fact she had eaten breakfast. Jessie had always been laid back and quiet, and had never been able to make friends easily. And now here she was, starting junior year at a new school.
It had been a whirlwind summer. Her dad had a new wife, Jessie had two new step sisters, she lived in a new house and now here she was at a new school, trying to assure herself that she'd fit in. Surely it couldn't be as bad as her last school, where her secret but draining battle with anorexia had built an invisible box around her, separating her from the other students. There she had just been shy, depressed Jessie. But here, nobody knew her. She could reinvent herself if she so desired.
However, one look at the giant mob of teens milling around and chatting in the entrance forum shoved all reassurances out of her head. This school was quite a lot bigger than her last one. Sure, it would make it easier to be invisible, but if she decided she didn't want to be invisible, it would make it a heck of a lot harder to find people she could trust and fit in with.
"There's the office," said her stepsister Grace, pointing across the way. "You can sign out your locker and get your timetable in there." She paused, and an almost pained look came across her face. "Do you need me to come with you?"
Jessie knew offering her company was akin to pulling teeth for Grace. Ever since they were forced to live under the same roof, Grace had pretty much ignored Jessie, which was fine with her. It wasn't that they disliked each other; it was just that they lived their lives in separate spheres which didn't even come close to touching.
"Thanks, but I think I can handle it Grace," Jessie said, letting her off the hook. With an almost genuine smile of thanks, Grace waved goodbye and set off down a hallway.
Fifteen minutes later, Jessie emerged from the office, desperately hoping the secretary she had to deal with wasn't indicative of the rest of the staff. That lady could have turned Mother Teresa into a murderer. But she had survived, and now turned her attention to trying to find her locker. She struggled through the packed hallways, thoroughly lost and not at all surprised when she walked straight into someone's back and fell hard on her backside. A fairly good looking guy turned around and looked around quizzically for a moment, before he locked eyes with Jessie on the floor. A grin spread across his face, and Jessie felt a blush heating her cheeks.
"Need a hand?" he asked, extending his arm down to her, which she gratefully took. He helped pull her to her feet and then said, "Nice to know I can make a beautiful girl fall for me so easily."
Jessie was at a loss for words when she saw a hand come around and smack the guy hard round the side of the head.
"Ow, what the hell Katie?" he vehemently exclaimed, rubbing his head and partially turning to reveal to Jessie one of the most beautiful girls she had ever seen. Her eyes were a stunning, deep blue and her smile, though half exasperated, took Jessie's breath away.
"Seriously Tad, could you be a bigger dork? Cheesy pickup lines never work, even if they're actually intelligent," she laughed at him. Tad scowled at her but grinned and then she turned to Jessie. "The giant loser who knocked you over is Tad. And I'm Katie," she said smiling, and offered Jessie her hand to shake. It was then that Jessie noticed that, despite the sweltering heat of the early September day, Katie was wearing long sleeves. She shook the thought away though, and took her hand, trying to ignore the electricity which seemed to tingle her skin from Katie's touch.
"Well it's nice to meet you, Jessie," Katie said, giving her a megawatt smile before removing her hand from Jessie's grasp. Jessie tried not to be too upset over the loss of contact.
"And I'm really sorry for knocking you over," Tad put in, still grinning.
"Don't worry about it, I'm the one who walked into you."
"Well yeah, but I can take the blame."
"Such a gentleman," Katie muttered sardonically, rolling her eyes.
Tad gave her a playful shove and then carried on. "So what had you so distracted you failed to notice my shockingly good looks before you collided with me?"
"Oh, uh right, I was trying to find my find my locker. I just got it assigned and these numbers don't make any sense."
"Ah, assigned locker...I knew you were a new student. There's no way I could've not noticed someone as good looking as you for two whole years," Tad said in what he apparently thought was a suave voice. Jessie struggled to keep herself from giggling. Katie, however, wasn't so successful and burst out laughing, giving Tad another smack, this one on the arm.
"Oh my goodness Tad, you are pathetic. Remind me why I'm friends with you?" He didn't answer, but mumbled something under his breath while frowning and rubbing his bicep. "Anyway, Jessie I can help you find your locker if you want. Whoever designed this school is an idiot, but I'm sure I can help you get it figured out."
"That'd be great!" Jessie smiled, excited at the prospect of not only finding her hidden locker, but also being able to spend some more time alone with Katie. She was surprised and a little bit confused at that latter thought, but chalked it up to being given a chance to fit in.
"Oh I'll come too!" Tad jumped in enthusiastically.
"Didn't coach Rudd want to see you before first period?" Katie asked him. Tad grumbled and pouted, but Katie simply patted his arm and reached out and took Jessie's hand. "See you around loser."
As Katie pulled her along, Jessie marvelled at the feeling of her hand in hers. The moment Katie had boldly taken hold of it, a tingling sort of sensation had started in her hand, and was making its way to her stomach, where she could feel butterflies dancing around. It wasn't an unpleasant feeling at all. She was so caught up in thought she almost missed Katie asking her for her locker number. Katie made a sharp turn down one hall, and Jessie tripped, almost colliding with her back. She was glad she didn't completely embarrass herself for the second time in a mere five minutes, but she couldn't keep herself from wondering what it would have felt like to be pressed up against Katie's back.
"Well here we are," Katie announced, once again pulling Jessie from her thoughts.
"Thank you so much, you really are a lifesaver."
"No problem. Hey, can I see your schedule? I mean, if we have some of the same classes I can show you around some more."
Jessie handed her the sheet of paper she received earlier from the office, making sure their hands touched in what she hoped was a subtle way. And, just like before, the contact sent a thrill of emotion through her entire body.
"Hmm, three classes and lunch together, not bad." Katie looked up and gave Jessie a supermodel type smile, making her knees go a little weak for some reason. "Looks like we'll be seeing a lot of each other Jessie."
At that, Jessie smiled bigger than she had in days, and couldn't think of one single reason for why she would hate this school year.