A/N: I am a hopeless Jara fan at heart so I just had to write this ^_^. Last week's episodes crushed me Jara-wise and I needed a little pick-me-up. This is between "House of Masks/House of Pursuit" and "House of Yesterday/House of Victory."

I listened to "A Drop In The Ocean" by Ron Pope while typing this and I think it's great for them both…well, no, just from Jerome's POV, but still, it's beautiful :D

Disclaimer: If I owned anything she would be with Jerome not pining over Mick.

xxxxxx

Jerome's third person POV:

"I guess you bring out the best in me Mara Jaffray."

As Jerome lied in his bed, staring up at the ceiling, he couldn't resist torturing himself. He'd gone over their entire conversation in his mind over and over, seeing plenty of openings, plenty of places he could have told her. Told her…god, he didn't even know what. Anything; he would've said anything to keep her there with him instead of running back to Mick.

God, what the hell did she see in him anyways? It wasn't like he was all that bright, or funny or good-looking…three things that Jerome himself excelled in. Granted, if he hadn't made that crack at Mick's expense, Mara might have agreed to the date. Not that he wouldn't have found away to mess that up as well. Being around Mara made him so…he didn't even know how to put it but he did know that he wanted to be near her, to hold her, to whisper sweet-nothings into her ear…

Jerome rolled over to his side and let forth a scowl.

Who the hell did she think she was? Making him feel actual feelings and want things from her…things he knew he couldn't have…

"Damn her!" Jerome whispered angrily into the darkness, ignoring Alfie's continued snores. "Damn her and that stupid shiny black hair and those bottomless dark eyes…" He hid his face in his pillow, frustration over taking him.

He couldn't think those thoughts, not with her precious Mick back. They'll stay together and be happy and hold hands and flaunt it all in front of him and make him want to heave…Jerome's scowl grew as he felt his stomach clench painfully against its will. She had so much control over him, so much power, god if only she knew…

He could see it all too well…he'd sweep in – pushing Mick to the floor first of course – take her into his arms and kiss her senseless. He could see them holding hands and walking to classes together and sharing lunch and whispering during classes. He could see them kissing in front of others making them all sick and wanting to heave at how sugary sweet it was. He could see them having romantic dates and then some that wouldn't reach the ears of others but would make her blush whenever their gazes met. He could see them being so good together and in lov-

No. That would never happen. Because he couldn't just sweep in and kiss her senseless. Not now. He'd had his chance and had lost it. She'd been all his for days and he had so many chances to take that plunge and see what could become of them.

God he'd never wanted anyone else so much. No one. It wasn't just physical, not anymore. He'd always found Mara to be cute in her own geeky way but it went so much farther than that now. He loved to watch her smile and laugh; he loved the way her eyes twinkled with laughter at his jokes and how the tip of her nose would crinkle when she was disgusted with him; he loved all those annoying habits that used to make him want to throttle her. God, he even loved the way she felt the need to be constantly and unknowingly comparing herself to Amber all the time. As if Amber could ever touch where Mara was.

Mara was sweet and loving and patient and kind and everything that he wasn't. And maybe that was part of why he wanted it and hated it so badly. She could give all that he so desperately needed from this sorry world and he could offer her all that terrified her too much to take. He would give it all to her. All of it just for one small shred of hope that one day she'd look at him the way he did her.

And yet he knew it wasn't possible. She saw him as Jerome Clark; grade A jerk who didn't give two craps about anyone else as long as he got what he wanted. If only she knew…he would give it all up for her and her warmth. Even if he couldn't have it all, just being around her would be enough of a gift that he wouldn't complain.

He knew where her heart lied though. It lied where it'd always had. In the hands of a cardboard jock who didn't know how to take care of something to beautiful and precious.

Jerome didn't deserve her but that sure as hell didn't mean that Mick did.

Mara was pure, bright sunlight. Too valuable for either of them to try and hold. They'd just tarnish her brilliance and fade her away.

She didn't need them. Not Mick and definitely not himself.

No, she needed someone whole and unscarred; who could give her all that he could only speak of but never actually hand her.

Jerome might try to get it all for her but he'd simply end up ruining it all and extinguishing her light. He couldn't risk damaging her with his poison and darkness.

He was rotten and filthy and broken and unworthy.

So no, he couldn't tell her.

He'd crawl back into his shadows and watch as Mick held her in his arms and whispered sweet-nothings and took her on romantic dates and made everyone around them sick with all the sugary sweetness. He'd hold back and watch it all because it was all he could do. He couldn't damage what they had now, not when they'd managed to build something similar to a friendship.

So no…she could never know.