Disclaimer: I don't own Unnatural History at all.
A Camping Trip, Stars, and a Couple Name
"Hey, Star Girl, why don't you go to the moon where you belong?" the blonde girl sneered as Maggie's little heart sank. She had just told the class about the Aurora Borealis that she had stayed up late to see. It was very beautiful and she was very awestruck when she stood outside with her dad that night. None of the kids in her class had seen it, so she took it upon herself to inform them all of the truly outstanding display that appeared in the night's sky.
"Yeah, or maybe you should go to Pluto and get as far away from us as possible," another girl snickered. Laughter rang in her ears and she struggled to not cry as she slipped into the isolated desk in the back of the room. The teacher taught on without scolding anyone, but Maggie wasn't paying attention. She was drawing pictures of the night sky on a crisp, clean notebook page.
School wasn't something she enjoyed. It was filled with evils known only as teasing and bullying and she didn't understand why it was happening to her. She was a likable person, one that was smart and pretty- according to her parents. She knew people probably wouldn't understand her, but she wanted a friend, especially that day.
As soon as the bell rang, she gathered her things and was the first one out the door and down the hallway. Little did she know that the brown haired boy was following her out to parent pick up and he wasn't letting up. She glanced over her shoulder and saw him. He was one of the only boys in her class that received as much teasing as she did; only he wasn't as smart as her and therefore her teasing was significantly greater.
"Why are you following me?" she asked him as she found her spot in line. He stared at her with shining wide eyes and shook his head.
"I'm not following you," Maggie inched away from him slightly to test her hypothesis and he followed. He was following her.
"Yes you are! Stop following me or I'll tell my dad that you're stalking me." The brown haired boy looked hurt, but he didn't give up at whatever it was that he was doing.
"I'm sorry," he said suddenly. Maggie looked at him curiously and he continued, "I'm sorry those girls were teasing you today in class. I thought your presentation was good." A soft smile appeared on her face and she patted his arm.
"You shouldn't let them bother you, you're a lot smarter than them and-" She couldn't let him finish because her mom's car pulled up and her name was being called out, so instead, she gave him a quick hug. It was sort of gross, because she didn't like boys, especially boys like him, but he was being very nice to her and he deserved some kind of thank you.
She didn't look back to see that he was standing there watching her go with a big grin on his face.
Summertime in Washington DC was hot. It was humidity and heat waves and little cloud coverage. It was staying inside if at all possible to avoid sunburns and heat exhaustion. It was staying away from the monuments to avoid the tourist season and instead taking part time jobs at fast food restaurants or stores, or interning somewhere that would look good on a college app.
Maggie was just one of those teenagers. Those teenagers that just so happened to live in DC but were jobless and internshipless for the first time since ever. It was upsetting, but she'd be able to live. At present time, Maggie was walking through the Smithsonian's National Air and Space Museum alone. There were a bunch of people there, but she wasn't with any of them. She came alone and she blended in quite well, or so she thought she did.
Her father used to take her to the museum all the time when she was younger. He'd show her the airplanes that dangled from the ceiling and tell her everything there was to know about them. She loved this museum because it was everything she loved. It was her parents' life and it was her dream. Her dream being astrophysics or astronaut. Which one, she was still deciding. Henry's talk with her during sophomore year, though helpful, wasn't persuasive. She still liked the idea of astrophysicist because it seemed interesting and her love for the galaxies wasn't necessarily going to be satisfied by the job of an astronaut.
"Maggie?" a voice asked her from her right. She was looking up at one of the planes, so she wasn't paying attention to the persons surrounding her. When she looked down to see who it was, she smiled. It was Jasper. She hadn't seen the brown haired teen since school let out a few weeks ago and she could safely say she missed him and his danger- finding cousin a lot. Her summer was completely dull and she needed something exciting to make her wake up in the morning.
"Jasper, what are you doing here? I thought you and Henry were going on that road trip to Florida for the summer." He pursed his lips and sighed.
"Yeah, about that," He rubbed the back of his neck and Maggie laughed at his expression.
"Do I want to know?" Jasper shrugged.
"Henry took to the road with my dad instead of me for the state of Arizona. Apparently he knows someone there and it's going to be so much more exciting than driving to Florida for a few weeks." Maggie could definitely see that happening. She smiled at his explanation and her hands grasped at the strap of her shoulder bag.
"So that explains two things, but why are you here and why did your dad let you stay in DC all by yourself?" He smirked and held up a piece of paper.
"I'm going to be counselor at a camp in two weeks and they're going to be gone for… six. So I have to be here in order to partake in the camp." Maggie took the paper from him and read it over. It was completely bogus and it made her look at him as she shoved it back at him.
"So you lied so you could stay?"
"Basically," he shrugged. "I didn't want to go to Arizona with them and I seriously find it more exciting in DC where nothing happens but tourism when Henry's not around."
"You probably should have gone with them," Maggie folded her arms to her chest and gave him a disapproving look. "Because now you're all by yourself in your house. What if someone suddenly wants to break in or-"
"Look, Maggie, I came here to find you and ask you if you wanted to go camping with me tomorrow." She didn't know what to say. He completely cut her off and with a statement like that, what was she supposed to do? Maggie bit her lip and eased her tensed posture so she seemed curious.
"Why?" Jasper smiled slightly and flipped the paper over. There was writing on the back and cartoonish pictures with arrows pointing everywhere. It was obvious he had created the document.
"It's the First Annual Jaggie Weekend Celebration and I figured that since you're half of the name, you'd probably like to come with me. We'll only be gone for like four days at the most and it's at this lake in the mountains my dad used to take me to when I was like five, so it's going to be totally awesome." Maggie shook her head slowly with confusion.
"Jasper, since when are we using a couple name to describe us? You have to be dating to have a couple name." She was kind of mad at him, but deep down she found it humorous that he gave them a name. It seemed to fit them too, because their relationship was mostly her and only slightly him.
"No," Jasper denied her accusation with a grimace that only came with tasting something disgusting. "It's for friends too. We're friends right?"
"Yes, but I don't think you should get comfortable waving around a couple name, especially since we would probably never work." She regretted saying it the moment it came out. She didn't really think they wouldn't work, but who was she to tell him that? Feelings are hard to deal with to begin with, let alone admit.
"Okay," Jasper bounced on the balls of his feet and exhaled like he was upset. "Um, so no camping? We could just go to the movies or something, I guess. Probably alone because-"
"No, I'll go camping with you. My parents went out of town and I'm still looking for work, so I have a lot of time on my hands. Anyway, nothing eventful has happened since that Egyptian exhibit with the cryptic eye and that was months ago. I need something exciting to brighten up my summer. Do you want me to bring anything in particular? Marshmallows or graham crackers?"
"I'll bring the Hershey's if you bring those big fluffy marshmallows," He was smiling again and she was glad. She didn't want to ruin their relationship. She nodded.
"Ok, you have a deal. Are we taking your car or mine?" He answered her immediately, which made her laugh softly in response.
The car ride was the longest she had ever had to sit in the same enclosed space at close proximity to Jasper Bartlett. She had done a lot of things with him, but none had ever involved a few hours in a car driving to an undisclosed location that he assured her was fine and safe. She almost was afraid of him because he could have been abducting her without her knowledge, but then again why would he? She dismissed the thoughts of her having to fight him in the middle of nowhere because he was trying to kidnap her.
His car was unusually quiet for about an hour and she found herself reaching to the radio dial at the same time as him. It was brief, but they looked at each other and she found herself feeling something because he bumped into her. It was insane and she knew that if she ever fell for him that she'd be seriously in trouble because he wasn't someone that she would have necessarily pursued a relationship with.
She was the one who turned the radio on and immediately, a fuzzy radio station blasted into the speakers of the Smart car. Jasper cleared his throat and she started fidgeting for a channel after she turned the volume down because fuzz was annoying and loud.
"I have my iPod if you want to plug it in," Jasper said to her while she struggled to find any station with listenable music. She looked at him and relented. She knew what kind of music he listened to and it wasn't exactly her taste, but she would deal with it because it was his car and she wasn't going to argue with him right off the bat.
She only made it through two songs. They were both songs she had verbally protested in the recent past and she knew he knew she hated them. So, she took his iPod from the cup holder it was resting in and scrolled through it.
"Wait, Jasper, you listen to Taylor Swift?" She looked at him with raised eyebrows and he smiled, obviously embarrassed.
"Uh, yeah?" Maggie laughed and shook her head. "Wait- is that a bad thing?"
"No, it's just that I don't pin you down as the country-pop relationship song listener." He shrugged and lifted his fingers from the steering wheel.
"Well, I do, she's on there." She immediately, only to make fun of him, selected one of her songs and laughed when he started singing to it. She still couldn't believe he'd listen to her songs, but as the chorus picked up, she joined him because it was the First Annual Jaggie Weekend Celebration and she was going to probably regret it if she didn't have a little fun with the other half of her couple name.
The lake was absolutely breathtaking and she couldn't believe she had never been to it before. They got to it by six that night because they left in the early afternoon so that they wouldn't have to suffer in the heat all day, so it was a comfortable hot and she was able to breathe. The air around them smelt like trees and the water, which was incredible. It felt amazing to be away from the busyness of the city and away from people. She felt more free and able to do whatever she wanted because of it.
They were setting up their tent under some trees a few yards from the water that would provide ample covering in case it rained or if the sun shined too brightly on it and made it warm. The tent was large, big enough that both of them would be able to be far apart and not close at all. It was probably designed for a maximum of five people, so she eased up on their sleeping arrangements when they had the blue tent pitched and ready.
"Did you bring any food?" Maggie asked him as they unrolled their sleeping bags. He didn't answer her at first and then he lay down on his padding.
"Yes, of course I did. Most of it's in my dad's cooler. Which I put over by your bag," She exhaled and sat down on the firm ground of the earth that was weakly covered by a tent bottom.
"Ok," It was still very warm out and she found herself very tired from all of the walking they had done and labor they had also done in setting their camp up, so she didn't want to move. But she had to. "Maybe I should start the fire- it's going to be dark soon. Did you bring matches or a lighter?"
"Also by your bag, in mine," He pointed upwards with his index finger as if he was pointing something out and she rolled her eyes as she pushed herself up off of the ground and slipped back outside. She honestly didn't know what she was doing. Why she was camping with Jasper or why she even decided that it would be perfectly fine to do anything with him for an undetermined amount of time. She decided that she was just getting soft and she probably shouldn't continue allowing such a thing to happen to her because he was still known to her as someone who once had a crush on her and she knew that he still might. She would have to be extremely careful that she didn't allow anything to come of those feelings or from her feelings too, because she felt like she was teetering on the edge and just a little shove would force her over.
Night fell and they sat together around the fire they had started as soon as darkness began enveloping them. They didn't eat anything but s'mores, which was perfectly fine because Maggie loved s'mores more than anything, really. It was her mom's fault. When she was younger, she could remember one day that she came in from running through the rain on her way home from the bus stop. It was cold and she was absolutely miserable, which is what prompted her mom to show her the miracle of s'mores- something that she would forever love more than anything.
"Jasper, you're burning your marshmallow again," Maggie sighed sadly. He pulled his stick away from the flame and groaned.
"Why can't I ever get it to not burn?" he asked. She laughed and slid closer to him to give him hers and he looked at her thankfully.
"Maybe it's because you keep just staring at the fire and you're not focusing," she suggested. He didn't say anything and she took that as his silent denial of the truth, so she changed subjects to lighten the mood. "When was the last time you came here?" Maggie pushed another fluffy, sugary puff ball onto her stick and let it hover above the open flames that crackled and hissed every so often. It was a sound she loved more than she loved breathing in the smells of the night.
"It was when I was six, probably. All I remember is that my mom made me put on like a gallon of sunscreen and I still got burned." She laughed and he smiled. "But we haven't come back since then. I guess it's because he's so busy and we don't really do things anymore." There was a thoughtful silence and Maggie twisted her stick as she gazed into the orange and reds that leapt at them slightly.
"Do you miss your mom?" She looked at him and he shrugged.
"I don't know, I mean she left and she's my mom, so I guess a part of me does, but I… I don't think I do. She chose to leave and she chose to hurt me by not coming back, so no. No, I don't miss her." They never really talked about his mom before this and now that they were, she kind of felt bad for him. Living with your mom for a few years, a few memorable years, and then her leaving and not coming back must have been difficult. She knew she probably wouldn't have been able to do it.
Maggie pulled her stick back to her and made her sandwich of graham crackers and chocolate with the soft and warm center of white cloud. She looked up at the sky and smiled contentedly. She liked this. She liked being under the stars, the beautiful and amazing gems of the night sky, with a stomach full of s'mores and her best friend. It was a good feeling.
"Do you ever just stare up at the sky and wonder?" Maggie asked him softly. She could tell he was looking up too, because he moved.
"Wonder if there's something up there with all of those stars or if there's something that made them so perfect and beautiful." She looked at him and continued to speak, feeling significantly freer and like she could literally tell him her every thought. "Sometimes I wish I could catch a moment and hold it forever because it's so good and amazing, like when I was younger I used to want to do that with Christmas or my birthday." He didn't respond and she laughed softly, "I also want take a mental pictures that I can live in forever because the sky is so beautiful and I want to look at it forever." A smile tugged at the edges of Jasper's lips when he looked down from the sky and at her.
"You're the only person I know that would want to live in the sky." She was hurt by the statement, as if he meant that as a rude remark about her thoughts and feelings about everything. He knew how much it hurt her when people made fun of her interest of the stars and of space and he was actually one of the only people who refused to pick fun at it before.
"So you're just like them," Maggie sighed. "Just like those girls in fifth grade that made fun of me every day because I like the sky and the stars. Why is it that I allowed myself to think you'd be the exception? The one person I'd be able to trust and let myself feel something for?" She stood up and shook her head in disgust. It was true that she probably told him too much, but it was her fault for even thinking she could. Now she couldn't look at him the same way ever again because she'd be afraid of what he'd say. "I guess I made a mistake in thinking you were any different than them, Jasper."
She walked away from him and down by the lake because she didn't want to be by him anymore. And as she walked, she cried. For the first time since she was younger and vulnerable, she cried.
She looked beautiful.
Jasper couldn't keep his eyes off of her as she walked along the shore of the lake. Her eyes were glued to the stars that hung in the night's sky above her. She only occasionally would look down at her feet to see where she was walking, but overall, her gaze was upward and to the sky.
This wasn't the first time Jasper had noticed how beautiful she was, but this was definitely the one time he was pretty sure he'd remember for a while. Her hands swung by her thighs, the shape of her figure visible through the skin tight jeans she sported and the thin tee shirt that was probably one size too small for her, but she wore anyway. The anger she felt towards him was definitely something he was scared of. He couldn't tell by how she looked if she was still mad. She was one of those people that get hard to read if they're all locked up and refuse to open, so he watched her from a safe distance.
The cool nighttime breeze blew at her hair, causing her to bring her hands up against her chest and to rub the upper part of her arms as if she were cold. He felt bad because of what happened and he didn't know how to make it up to her, but he wanted to. He had grabbed his hoodie from his bag and he figured that because she was obviously kind of cold, it would be a good start.
"You cold?" Jasper asked as he walked up beside her. She snapped her head down from looking up at the sky and stared at him with wide eyes.
"Jasper, I-" He held the hoodie out to her and she smiled after she took it. "Thank you."
"No problem," They stopped so she could pull it over her and he felt his heart skip a beat at the sight of her in his hoodie. They started walking again and it was quiet as they stared up at the stars. Jasper cleared his throat and she looked at him again. "Maggie, I'm sorry. I didn't mean to-"
"No, Jasper, I was the one who was being overdramatic and I apologize. I shouldn't have snapped at you for that. It's my fault." He sighed and she suddenly pointed up at the sky after they were silent for a few moments. "That's our star, right there. Jaggie,"
"How am I supposed to remember where it is?" Jasper looked up at where she was pointing and she laughed softly.
"You don't have to. As long as we're together, then our star will find us." The statement sent chills down his spine and he looked at her questioningly.
"What does that mean?"
"That means that next year, on our Second Annual Jaggie Weekend Celebration, we'll find a new star to call our star, but for tonight, for right now in this moment, our star is this one." Maggie looked at him and smiled, prompting him to shake his head in disbelief. He didn't know why it happened, but she changed personalities within half an hour and she was fine with him again.
"We're doing this next year?" he asked hoarsely. She rolled her eyes and clutched her hands around his bicep and started to walk them along the water and back towards their campsite.
"Your arm is firmer and stronger than I remember," Maggie said abruptly.
"Wait, when were you groping my arm?" She laughed once and he sighed when the moment disappeared into the rest of the uneventful evening.
She was almost asleep when Jasper spoke to her again. They had been quiet for a while. After they decided that just sitting on fallen trees around their dying fire was dull and that since they were going to explore in the morning that they should go to sleep, barely ten words were spoken between them. She knew something was on his mind, but it didn't come out until just then.
"I wanted to capture that moment," he said softly. She turned her head to look at him and was met with his eyes staring at her. The dim light from their one lantern was bright enough so she could see it. It made her heart skip a beat- him looking at her.
"Which one?" she asked equally as soft.
"When you were looking up at the stars and when you told me that we have a star now. I wanted to stay there forever." She didn't know what to say to that, so she bit her lip nervously and turned her head to look upwards as her feelings started surfacing and a knot tightened in her stomach.
"Why?" Jasper didn't answer her instantly and she became frantic. She didn't want him to say what she had a feeling he'd say.
"Because it was right," he said simply. "You wearing my hoodie and us actually getting along. It's how I want to remember this weekend. It's how it's supposed to be- you and me. We're supposed to work, not like you said yesterday." Maggie's fingers rubbed the insulation that surrounded her nervously and she struggled to respond to his statement. He was pushing her and she was falling.
"Really?" She looked at him again and he smiled slightly.
"You know what else I wanted to capture? When we were singing Taylor Swift in the car and when you gave me your marshmallow because mine kept dying. Maybe that first time you gave me a hug when we were in fifth grade or the time we were locked in the trunk of a car and you were mad at me because I was taking up too much air. Pretty much everything. I wish I could capture everything."
"I wish so too," she said, her voice shaking slightly. She still couldn't fathom the feelings she had, but she knew she was safe telling him. He was the only one who got her and she wanted him to be the only one to ever get her. "Especially this trip,"
"Yeah," he agreed softly. Something about how he spoke made her feel comfortable, so she calmed down slightly even though he continued, "You know, you cut me off before, when I was trying to tell you that you were smarter than everyone in our class. I was going to tell you that there's nothing wrong with liking something so much that you have to tell everyone about it. I used to do that all the time only about computers." Her heart was in her throat when he said that. She felt chills running up her arms and she exhaled to try and stop herself from getting too close to the other side. The other side being the place she was trying to avoid with Jasper.
"You're not like them and you never were." As she said the words, she realized that it was too late to stop herself from where she already was. She gave into it with eight words that she probably would have never realized changed her life completely.
"So," he drug the word out as if he was thinking about the question he was about to ask, "Do you still think couple names are only for people who are dating?" She smiled and turned back to look at him.
"I don't know, it depends, I suppose. If best friends have a couple name and aren't dating does that mean they're bound to start a relationship that's more than what they have already in the future? Because if that's the case, then yes because the persons involved will have the name after anyway, so why would it matter when they had it to begin with?" He laughed once.
"So Jaggie… that's sticking?" She wasn't hesitant to respond and a pleasant quietness covered them once the word left her lips.
"Yes," Jasper grinned and rolled back onto his back so he wasn't looking at her anymore. She did the same and mere seconds after that, he spoke again.
"Then I guess Jaggie will prevail," Maggie smiled and hummed her agreement before closing her eyes in preparation for a blissful slumber. One thought ran through her mind after they exchanged soft good nights and her body began to slow enough that nothing else could be thought.
As long as the stars continue to shine, Jaggie will prevail- forever and always.
. . .
A/N: Thank you for reading! I had this idea of having Jasper and Maggie go camping a while ago, but I haven't been able to put it into a story format until just now. I hope you liked it! If you did, I would be so happy if you'd review. They make me smile and they make me write more. :)