I have been toying with the idea of a follow-up/companion story to "Stay" for a while, and I have worked on this story for the past 3 months trying to get it just right. This story is going to be darker than some of the other fanfics on here but I think the tone suits the circumstances. A big thank you to Pansyass for encouraging me to write this and post it before I lose my nerve. I don't own MSCL or any of the characters.
When You Were Mine
"You sound awful, honey," her mother said, concern evident in her voice. "Why don't you come home for a few days? It would be just the two of us. You know Danielle went back this semester. She's doing better."
Angela sighed. She would love to come home for a few days and just be taken care of, and she also felt guilty now that her mother was all alone and her sister had her own problems. Yet, she didn't know if she could leave her caseload right now. It seemed like a full moon was coming or something, the way she had been putting out fires all week. Two of her clients were back in the detention centre for drug possession, she had to find housing for three others who had just run away and another one had just found out she was pregnant and didn't know who the father was.
As if reading her mind, Patti said, "If you don't make time for yourself now, you never will. The work is never going to stop, those people are never going to stop needing you, but you also need to take care of yourself, honey."
"I'll see what I can do," she said finally, but she knew that her mother was right. She was only twenty-four years old. She couldn't afford to burn out already – she was barely out of her Master's degree, she had student loans to pay back and there were so many people who needed her. There didn't seem to be enough hours in the day for all of the things she wanted to do, all of the people she wanted to save. She realized that she was somewhat idealistic and always had been, but there was an unstoppable drive inside of her, like an empty space she had to fill… Especially since the love of her life was long gone.
"So I think I'm going to apply out-of-state," she said, testing the waters. It was barely September of her senior year but college applications were all her parents, Brian and Sharon could talk about.
"Oh yeah?" he said noncommittally.
"What do you think about that?" she asked, hoping he would answer honestly.
"Whatever you want, I guess."
"You guess? What do you mean by that?" she snapped, starting to feel annoyed. Why wouldn't he give her a straight answer?
"Look, Ange, I'm not going to stop you from doing whatever you want to do. If you want to go somewhere else for school, then I think you should do what makes you happy." She couldn't tell what he was thinking and worse yet, she had no idea what he was feeling.
'What about us?' she wanted to ask, but he was turning away from her and digging through his pockets for a cigarette.
"I'd like to get out of here myself," he said, cigarette between his lips, flicking the lighter.
"Well you're graduating this semester," Angela said, hoping he could take a hint. He had managed to do pretty well in summer school last year, which meant he was graduating a semester earlier than her. In typical frustrating Jordan Catalano fashion, he had remained elusive about what he planned to do after graduation, although she wasn't naïve enough to think he would stick around Three Rivers.
"I've always wanted to go to California or maybe New York. I don't know. I just want to get out of here." He had a sort of faraway look in his eyes that she normally would have found endearing, if he weren't talking about leaving her. It was like the last almost-two years between them had never happened – just when she thought she understood him and that he really loved her, he was talking about packing all his stuff into his car and driving away.
"So what am I supposed to do – apply to schools in California? And New York?" She started to feel as if she might cry. California was more or less out of the question if she wanted to stay close to her family, Rayanne and Rickie.
"Don't base your choice of school on me, Ange," he said in a serious tone, turning back to look at her. "You can go wherever you want, and I don't even have a plan."
"Well that's what I'm trying to help you with right now," she said, not trying to hide the frustration in her voice.
"You've helped me enough, babe," he said. "I mean, I'm even graduating and everything now, because of you." He came over to her and put both his hands on either side of her face. "And now we just have to sort of trust and see what happens next."
She relented, but it wasn't the answer she wanted. He didn't say anything about them staying together after graduation or whether he saw her in his future, so although it hurt, she decided to follow her own plans and apply to schools in Pennsylvania and New York. Part of her was ready to leave Three Rivers, but she didn't want to be too far away from her mom and Danielle. Danielle was only twelve years old, but she was starting to worry Angela – she had taken the divorce badly and had started acting out in little ways, like shoplifting and kissing different boys behind the school. Hopefully, it was just pre-teenage angst, so Angela fought back the feelings of guilt whenever she thought about leaving.
It was Friday afternoon, and the winter sunlight streamed in through the window. Jordan's body was warm against hers, and he was looking into her face, running his fingers through her hair. Neither of them spoke, but there was a calm, contented energy between them.
"Do you love me?" she asked suddenly, regretting the words before they even finished coming out of her mouth. She wasn't sure what came over her, but there was something about the moment, the way he was looking at her, tangled up in his sheets, that gave her the strength to say what she knew he was feeling. An expression that she could only describe as fear inadvertently crossed his face, and he looked away.
"Why can't you just say it?" her voice rose expectantly, and she knew that she'd lost him.
"What?" he asked flatly, pulling away, his flirtatious, free-spirited mood from the afternoon suddenly gone. When he suggested they steal away together this afternoon, she didn't anticipate that it would end up like this, although his future plans were weighing heavily on her mind. It was December, and his last day of class was that week. Permanently. He hinted that he wouldn't be around to attend his graduation ceremony in January. She knew what that meant, but she'd tried to ignore the days leading up to their seemingly inevitable separation, focused on her own university applications. They were lying in his bed, something that rarely happened these days because they were both so busy. Moments before, he had been gentle and loving, but it seemed that lately, whenever she asked more of him, he closed himself off. She remembered all the times they had lain together like this before – why had she never wanted this all those other times? She knew better than to try and cling onto him, but today, something was different. She thought of the letter that was sitting in her backpack and it gave her the little bit of courage she needed.
"I know you love me," she said, looking straight into his eyes. "So why can't you say it?"
"Angela…" his voice trailed off and he closed his eyes as if they hurt. "You know I've never been good at this… Don't do this right now."
"When would be a better time for you then?" she asked sarcastically, refusing to let it go this time. There was too much at stake now.
"Not today," he said, eyes still closed.
"Well what if it's a good time for me today?" she countered. "Things can't always be on your schedule, you know."
"What is with you lately?"
"I might ask you the same thing. If I so much as say the words 'the future', you shut down. All I want is to know whether you feel the same way about me." She sat up so that she was looking down at him.
"I don't need this," he said, sitting up abruptly, visibly agitated. "Why can't you just… stop." He threw on his boxers and a sweatshirt and looked around for a cigarette. When he didn't find one, he cursed and headed out of the bedroom.
"Goddamnit, Jordan Catalano, why are you like this?" she had dressed hastily and found him outside on the porch.
"Like what?" he said impatiently.
"Like unable to talk about the things that matter!" She could feel the frustration rising into her face and she willed herself not to tear up.
"What are you talking about?" he was starting to lose his temper, she could tell. "All the things I've told you about me, about my brother, about my parents, do you think those didn't matter?"
"Then why can't you tell me the truth now? That you love me, but you don't want me to come with you, wherever you're going?"
"It's not like that," he said, clearly taken aback.
"Then why did you never ask me to come with you?" she asked softly, her voice breaking. "I know you're leaving."
"What, and drop out of school? With one semester left? I'm not going to ask you to do something stupid like that." She noticed that he didn't even bother to deny that he was leaving anymore. She knew it.
"So you are leaving." It was a statement, not a question.
"Why are you doing this?" he asked, leaning back against a post on the porch.
"You're graduating in a few days and you haven't told me what you're doing yet. You haven't said anything about us, or whether there's going to be an us, or anything. Don't I have a right to know?"
"Angela, I—" he hesitated.
"What is it?"
"I'm going to California. My mom apparently has family out there, and they want to meet me." He looked down at the ground.
"That's great," she said, and meant it. "Why couldn't you just tell me that?"
He shrugged. "I didn't want to upset you. You've been all stressed out with your applications and stuff."
"But then what? Are you planning to stay out there?" She could feel her heart sinking as she realized what he'd meant by upsetting her.
"That's the part I haven't quite figured out yet," he said, seemingly engrossed in an imaginary pebble on the porch floor.
"What about us? Don't you love me?" she asked again softly, so softly she didn't think he heard. Part of her hoped he didn't hear. She waited, although she didn't know what for. "Two years and I've never asked you for anything, and now you won't even tell me that you love me," she finally said angrily, bitterly.
At last, he looked up at her, met her eyes. She thought that for the first time ever, she could see tears in Jordan Catalano's eyes, but she would never be sure.
"I can't…" he said, the pain and frustration evident in his bright blue eyes.
In that moment, everything changed. Angela knew she would be leaving Three Rivers for New York City, and that she would tick "accept" in that little box on the letter that she was keeping in her bag. She realized then it had been foolish to hope that he would wait for her.
"You're wrong, Jordan. One day you'll see that. You'll realize that you loved me, and I loved you back, and being afraid should have never gotten in the way of what we had." She turned away, knowing that the impact of her words was lost because of the way her voice shook with emotion.
She walked away and didn't look back, not even when he called her name and told her to stop, that it was cold out, that he hadn't meant it like that. When she turned the corner, she started to run, trying to ignore the cold air burning in her lungs and the hot, bitter tears that turned cold as soon as they hit her face.
"Just tell him I'm not home," Angela said miserably to her mother, slumped between Rickie and Rayanne on the couch. They had come over that afternoon, as Angela had sunk into something of a depression and didn't feel like getting out of bed. Ever again. She had spent much of the holidays feeling down, especially since nothing was the same anymore, with her family split up and Jordan out of the picture. Her mom couldn't say anything, as she was still dealing with her own loss and its after-effects.
"Cheer up Angelika, we're going to New York!" Rayanne said excitedly, putting her arm around her. "You'll be at Columbia, and I'll be… living with Rickie in a tiny little shoebox…"
"Are you really never going to talk to him again?" Rickie asked.
"I don't know," Angela covered her eyes. "He keeps calling and calling, which is weird for him."
"He feels bad," Rickie offered.
"So what?" Angela said sulkily. "It doesn't change the fact that he's a jerk."
"Tino said he's been moping around," Rayanne said unexpectedly. "He knows he screwed up, he's just too much of a coward to tell you how he feels. Are you sure you don't want me to talk to him or get a hit squad on him or something?" she cocked an eyebrow mischievously.
"I don't think that's necessary," Angela rolled her eyes, gave her a hint of a smile. "The worst part is that I know he's totally afraid. And I get it. But I gave him plenty of chances. It's too late now… I need to move on." She didn't say the last part with any conviction, however.
"How could he just plan to leave like that without even telling me properly?" she asked after a moment.
"That's what men do when they're afraid – they bail," Rayanne said matter-of-factly.
"God, it's not like I was asking him to marry me or anything! A simple 'I love you' would have been good enough! Part of me is so angry. I hate being angry."
"Oh Angelika, look at you, you're so passionate when you're upset," Rayanne said sadly but fondly. "He regrets it already, I'm sure."
"I miss him," Angela sighed. "Why did he have to go and ruin everything?"
"They're called self-destructive urges, honey," Rayanne smiled ironically, and she and Rickie put their arms around their friend again. "Never mind, we're out of here in a few months, and you'll put this behind you."
Angela wondered if Rayanne could be right.
She heard a knock at her window that night, and she knew it was him. She walked over and opened the window. He had climbed the tree outside and was perched on the window ledge. It wasn't the first time he had done this, but it had been a long time. When Patti and Graham split, they stopped sneaking around so much because nobody really cared anymore.
"What are you doing here?" she asked.
"You wouldn't answer my calls, so…"
"So you climb the tree at the side of my house and come through the window instead?" she couldn't help but laugh a little, despite herself.
"Can I come in? It's freezing out there."
Wordlessly, she stepped aside to let him in. He stepped onto the windowseat and sat down, rubbing his hands together. His blue eyes were bright in his face, and she watched him, wishing that she could kiss each one of his fingers.
"So what brings you by?" she asked coolly, maintaining a safe distance by walking away from him to sit on her bed.
"You wouldn't take any of my calls. It was driving me crazy." He ran a hand through his hair.
"Can you blame me?" she asked.
He looked at her, then quickly looked away. "I guess not… I was pretty harsh. Look, Angela, I didn't want to leave with things like that between us."
"You're leaving already?" she asked, hoping the panic didn't show in her voice.
He nodded. "I'm going to hit the road tomorrow morning, spend New Year's with my aunt and uncle, who supposedly met me when I was like a month old. They have a son who's around my age. My cousin. It's going to be weird to have a family."
"That must be exciting," she said, trying to muster up a bit of enthusiasm, although she wasn't sure why. "How did you find them?"
"My dad found some numbers and passed them onto me before I left," he said, somewhat evasively. "I didn't know what to do at first, so I waited and waited. Then I didn't know what I was waiting for, so I said 'Screw it' and called them."
Angela nodded. "That's good. I'm happy for you, I guess."
He got up from the windowseat and made his way over to her, stopping in front of the bed. He touched her cheek. Subconsciously, she found herself softening to his touch.
"I had to see you before I left," he said softly, sitting next to her. "To make sure you didn't hate me."
"How could I ever hate you? You know how I feel," she said sadly, running her fingers through his hair, over his face.
"I wish… I could be more like you," he said, taking both of her hands in his.
Before she knew it, his lips were against hers, and she moaned softly at the heat and desire that still existed between them.
"I missed you," he whispered in her ear between kisses.
"I didn't go anywhere," she whispered back.
She just wanted him to hold her with his skin against hers. She wanted it so badly that she pulled his jacket off, tugged at his shirt. He got the message and pulled her nightgown over her head.
"That wasn't fair," she complained, referring to the lack of clothing he had to remove from her. She climbed under the covers, signaling him to join her. He didn't need any further prompting, shedding the rest of his clothes and joining her under the covers.
"You feel so good," he said, holding her and covering her face, neck and chest with kisses.
"Don't let me go," Angela pleaded, knowing she was talking about more than the present, but realizing she was asking for too much. She knew that she had to savour this moment, because it might be their last. She pushed the thought out of her mind as he started to leave a trail of kisses down her body and she felt herself open up, give into her desire.
She opened her eyes and saw that it was still dark out. Jordan was still there in her bed, his arm around her waist, his face against her shoulder. She reached down and ruffled his hair, her heart breaking a little with the knowledge that she would have to wake him, and he would leave after that. Indefinitely. And then it would be her turn to leave.
He stirred and opened his eyes.
"Hey babe," he said, as if it were the most normal thing in the world, waking up with her.
"Hi," she said, and a wave of sadness washed over her. "You should probably go, huh?"
He closed his eyes briefly. "Yeah, I guess so. What time is it?"
"It's just after two," she glanced at the alarm clock.
He got out of the bed and started to put on his clothes. She sat up in the bed and watched him.
"I want to remember you just like this," he said, miming a camera with his hands and pretending to take her picture.
"Maybe you should be a photographer," she joked, trying to keep the mood light. She switched the lamp on and found her nightgown, putting it back on. "Do you have maps and stuff so you won't get lost?"
"I was probably gonna pick up some maps on the way," he said. "I was planning to jump into my car and start driving."
"Jordan…" she hesitated, unsure of what she wanted to say, "don't worry about me."
"What do you mean?" he asked, looking at her with a serious look in his eyes.
"Don't worry about hurting me. I know you're… sorry, and I know this isn't personal, but I don't want you to think that you like, owe me something." It just about killed her to say those words, but she didn't want him to feel guilty anymore. "I just want you to be safe, and… don't forget me." She felt the lump form in her throat as she said those words.
He put his arms around her and held her tightly. "I'll never forget you, Angela Chase, and I… I… "
She tilted her face to his and he kissed her one more time.
"I know," she said, the pain in her heart lessening, just the tiniest bit. "It's okay."
Part II to follow...