Author's Note: Okay, so this is my first fanfiction for Flight 29 Down and it's just a cute little One-Shot I wanted to put out there. I always favored Melissa and Jackson, so I couldn't help mysellf. This is post-rescue. Title is lame but perfect for the story. Hope you enjoy. :)
It was almost surreal, to Melissa, to sit on the foot of her old, seemingly plush and grand mattress- compared to her previous sleeping quarters of nearly a month- and glance around her bland, quaint bedroom and feel a sense of- she wasn't even sure how to describe the sensation. Safety or unfamiliarity? Relief or anxiety? Home or uncharted boundaries?
It was truly amazing what surviving on a deserted island could do to person. How it could change their views on, well, just about everything. Life, necessities, taste, trust, love…
Melissa sighed and collapsed back against her bed, clad in her favorite lavender sheets and a plethora of tempting and soft looking pillows. She stared up at Hartwell banner she had tacked on her ceiling back during her elementary school years at said school.
Everything had been so easy back then. You were so young that you needed your parents to drop you off and pick you up from school. So young that assignments and homework were easy and lunch was already packed for you. So young that you didn't have grueling chores or taxing jobs. So young that your parents wouldn't think twice about denying a field trip that flew you over the pacific for an enticing eco-camping adventure in the jungle a million miles from home, where they did all the surviving for you.
And so young that boys- except your best friend, Nathan, of course- still had cooties.
But now, boys most definitely did not have cooties. Especially Jackson.
Thinking about him pained Melissa. She hadn't seen or heard from him since a week ago, when the group had landed back in Los Angeles and, while Melissa was being engulfed by her fretting parents- and mind you, Melissa was so, so very happy to see them- she couldn't help but notice that Jackson was instantly swept up by a business-suited woman and a man in an authoritive uniform.
His social worker and probation officer.
She wanted to go after him; God knows she tried to squeeze herself from her mother's deathly grip. She had promised Cody Jackson that, when they got back home, she would be there for him. But once Jackson looked back and caught Melissa's eye, just before passing through the doors of the airport, he forced a small smile and shook his head, as if to pacify her worries. Just like he would do back on the island.
Everything will be alright, Melissa.
And yet, everything wasn't alright. Sure, everyone was home and safe. Melissa had instantly heard from Nathan and picked fun about how his parents were fussing about every little thing and banned him from doing any chores or work for the past week while he 'rested and regained his grasp on reality' and other such nonsense. But Melissa knew that, secretly, he enjoyed it and was happy to be home more than anything. Melissa also knew that Nathan had visited Daley a few times, claiming he wanted to check up on how her and Lex were transitioning back into the real world, but also getting friendly with Daley's parents.
Melissa had also gone to visit Ian and Bob- they're island-crazed pilot- in the small hospital a few blocks away and saw that Jori and Abby were there as well. Bob seemed to making great progress in regaining sanity and Ian was nearly ill-free and had a couple more weeks left in a cast before his leg would be healed. Jori was left with a few cuts and bruises, but was otherwise fine. Except, she clung to Abby like a lifeline, as if afraid of losing her all over again like back in the jungle. Abby didn't mind of course and she was close to her normal self as she could get. A lot had happened to Abby in the jungle on her own, and she would be forever effected by that, but she had re-developed many of her kind-hearted quirks since the rescue.
Melissa heard from Eric and Taylor last, and it wasn't in person like she had seen the rest of the group. She was sure she would see them at school the next day- as it was Monday and after a month and an additional week of missing assignments and school criteria, even their parents couldn't argue that they needed to head back to school to catch up on all their requirements- but Melissa first caught sight of Taylor on TV. Of course, her jaw dropped to the floor when she was racing through the channels a few days ago and spotted Taylor's mess of blonde hair in all the blur before hastily backtracking to confirm that it was, in fact, Taylor Hagen on the news. But, to be honest, she wasn't all that surprised.
"Miss Hagen," A variety of reporters shouted over each other as they bombarded a, seeming unfazed, blonde near her favorite espresso stand. "Tell us what it was like, surviving a deadly plummet-" Which was a complete over-exaggeration. Yes, they were lucky to have landed anywhere, but while the plane was going down, Captain Russell was doing his best to bring it down without losing complete control. And, he only had one engine to work with. "- and living with 9 other students and the pilot on a deserted island. How did you manage? Was hunger and thirst a factor? How did the others fair-"
"Um," Taylor interrupted, waving her hand to cease the montage of questions. She smiled sweetly at the camera and Melissa braced herself for a world of lies to spill out of Taylor's mouth on how she single handedly lead the group to survival and rescue.
But, it didn't come.
"Listen, I just got home from being stranded, like, a million miles away for almost a month with people who I mostly don't get along with. And I still need about five more showers to wash off all the dirt and memories and-" Taylor paused for a moment and the crew around her was silent with anticipation. "The only way we survived, was by working together. Most of the time not even that worked out, but, if I had been on my own, I wouldn't have made it. Now, if you'll excuse me. I've got a Venti latte with my name on it waiting for me, and I would like to spend some time with my family."
Melissa watched in shock as Taylor grabbed her latte then looked back at the camera and made a shooing gesture before evacuating the stand. She knew that her time on the island had changed Taylor, but Melissa wasn't aware that it had had so much of an effect on her that, her self- absorbed, spotlight hogging persona was completely warped and replaced by her own alter-ego.
Melissa's thoughts were interrupted by the screen flipping to a blonde boy leaning against a chain-link fence in front of his house, looking as cool and confident as he apparently felt. She rolled her eyes.
"Oh yes, it was very difficult, having to manage on a deserted island. While I would have liked to take more action to find rescue, there was still a matter of survival and everyone was looking up to me to lead them-"
Melissa changed the channel before she could hear the rest of Eric's self-proclaimed heroic actions. The island may have changed Taylor, but it would take a lot more than nearly dying from an allergic reaction and almost drowning to change Eric.
So, in retrospect, everything seemed to be alright, while everyone was slowly but surely adjusting back to their old lives. Even Melissa was content with spending the last week being showered by affection from her family.
But, there was no word from Jackson.
It had been a week. One week since he was taken away and left Melissa with a false smile and a look in his eyes as if he were clinging to every ounce of hope he had left to believe his own silent message that everything would, in fact, be alright. One week since he had asked her to promise him to be there for him.
One week that she wasn't there for him.
She tried. She really tried to dig up her own information on how to reach him. Contacting the school about his personal record, to find anything and everything she needed to find him. His foster home, his old neighborhood where he had gotten into trouble- more like been in the wrong place at the wrong time- his probation officer or social worker's contact info, anything. But that information was withheld from her, as she had no right to possess it. She knew that was a long shot. So she also contacted all the listed group homes and police stations and juvenile facilities- which all held the confidential information she needed from her as well- she could find within L.A.
It was no use and she was aware of that from the beginning. No one would sympathize for a teenage girl trying to gather Intel in order to see a friend she had made a promise to after being stranded together on an island, especially if everyone was convinced the boy was convict in the first place.
But she tried.
Lying there on her bed, safe and sound and protected, Melissa felt hopeless and helpless. What if he was locked up? Caged from the world for something that wasn't his fault. What if he was being replaced back into a group home because his foster family realized they didn't want him after he had gotten into a nearly fatal fight then fled the country on a school trip? What if he was being held in court, hoping against hope that someone would come and testify for him when the few that whole-heartedly would didn't even know where he was? What if-
Melissa's silent, bombarding what ifs and evident tears of anxiety were cut short by a shrill ringing that sliced through the deathly quiet of her room. She jumped and whipped her head towards her bedside table. Her old school- wires and all- telephone was the source of the evading sound and Melissa was half tempted to let it ring. If it was Nathan, she wasn't really in the mood to discuss his evening dinner with Daley and her family. And yet, she could really use the distraction from her own torturous thoughts.
With a heavy sigh, Melissa's co-dependency got the better of her and she reached for the phone, not even bothering to sit up.
"Hello?" Melissa mumbled half-heartedly.
Melissa's heart staggered a few beats before racing in record speeds.
That was not Nathan's voice.
"Jackson," Melissa squeaked as she shot upright in her bed, internally wishing and hoping that it was him. She knew his voice, the inflection as he said her name. It had to be. There was no other-
There was a short, somewhat nervous chuckle before he said, "Uh, yeah."
For a moment, they lapsed into one of those awkward silences where you're on the phone and don't know what to say to the person on the other end. Jackson made a sound as if he were inhaling and mustering up the energy to say something, but before he could get anything out Melissa attacked him with frantic questions.
"Jackson, where are you? Are you okay? Is everything alright? Did you get into terrible trouble? Did they send you to jail-"
"Whoa, Mel, calm down, I'm fine. Really."
"What happened? I tried to get ahold of you. I-"
"Yeah, I know," Jackson said, again laughing nervously. "The school called and so did my probation officer. Said there was constant questioning on my record. They were worried I had a stalker or something."
Melissa blushed a ferocious red. She hadn't thought her actions would be portrayed that way. In fact, when she was in the moment, she wasn't thinking much on how people would take her illogical snooping. She was just desperate to see if Jackson was okay.
"I-I didn't mean to-"
"Don't worry about it, Melissa. It- it was the only thing that let me know-" Jackson paused, as if he were struggling for words. "Um, I'm not too good at this."
Melissa fought the urge to laugh. Back on the island, about a week in when they had found Abby and she set up the small dance event to create happier memories during their nightmare, Jackson had said the same thing when he asked her to dance. And it made sense. Jackson wasn't the kind of guy who was quick to open up, but he was trying. And she was happy that he was trying with her.
"Listen," Jackson started again. "You kept your promise. Back on the island, the things you said, I-I knew you meant them and I wanted to believe you, but- When we got back, I don't know-"
"You thought that we would all just be so happy to be home that we would forget about you," Melissa finished for him. Jackson sighed and she could imagine him solemnly nodding his head in agreement.
"But during all the processing with my social worker and the implications against my probation, they told me about all the calls and I- I just knew. And, it made everything just a little more bearable."
Melissa just sat there, listening in awe. Other than the night of the storm back on the island, this was the first time Jackson just completely let go of his guard and seemed so vulnerable. His voice was strained and he sounded exhausted. But not from being tirelessly worked through the system in the last week just after he was rescued from a deserted island that had run them all dry. No. He sounded as if he was tired of just holding all this in and any moment now, he would just let it all go and flood from him as if relieving himself of a chronic sickness.
And he did.
He explained to her how he first plead his case about the fight before the trip and about leaving for the trip after violating his probation with his social worker and probation officer. He told Melissa how surprised he was to see his frantic foster family there backing him up every step of the way, explaining how much progress and change he had made before the fight even happened. He talked about receiving a few letters from his mother that she had sent when she discovered that he was lost somewhere in the middle of the pacific. He had read them all the first night he had to spend in Juvie while his social worker and probation officer worked on his case and related his story to the judge who had sentenced his probation months ago. It was the first time he had heard from his mother in what seemed like ages.
But he still wasn't allowed to see her.
He explained how a couple days in; the school had called to acquire information on his progress and whether he would still be enrolled in the school's system. With a smile, his probation officer had informed them that, without a doubt, Cody Jackson would be attending school the following week after they wrapped up his case.
Jackson said that it wasn't until the officer had hung up and gave him a weird look as well as an explanation about a fellow student calling multiple confidential holders for information on his file that he dared to hope that everything would truly be alright.
"The judge saw it as time spent while we were stranded," Cody laughed.
"Isn't that what you said when we were leaving," Melissa giggled.
"Yeah, but I was joking. And at first, I didn't think he was for real, you know? Next thing I know, I'm released from my sentence and being dragged home for celebration. The officer called me again yesterday saying there were more strange calls that were now spreading out through Los Angeles. He wanted to know if I wanted to investigate it, but I just denied and told him I would take care of it myself. After all, how could I not keep my promise after- to a great extent- you kept yours?"
"What promise?" Melissa questioned in confusion.
"Well, didn't I say that, once we were back, I'd give you a call or something?" He asked, that nervous tone seeping back into his voice after his strictly tuned monologue. Melissa inhaled sharply and her heart rate sped up all over again.
"That's right. Wow, a lot has happened since then."
"Y- yeah," Jackson stammered, then cleared his throat. "I mean, I wasn't sure. But, if things changed, I-I mean-"
"No," Melissa quickly interrupted, then smiled silently to herself. "Nothing's changed, Jackson. Not me and, not anybody else. We were all worried about you."
"Even Nathan," Jackson questioned in fake incredulousness making Melissa laugh.
"Yes, Nathan was in hysterics."
"I'm sure. That's why I saw him working up the courage to hold Daley's hand today while they were walking at the park a few blocks from my house," he teased.
"You know what I mean," Melissa said with a roll of her eyes. "It's just, with everything that's happened. You've got us now. We'll watch over you, j-just like you watched over us, back on the island."
Jackson sighed and instead of sounding tired, he sounded content and maybe even at peace.
"Yeah, I promise."
"It's getting late," Jackson said after a short moment of silence. "So, I'll see you tomorrow? At school, I mean?"
They said their goodbyes and just before Melissa was about to hang up, a thought crossed her mind.
"H-how did you get my number," Melissa asked, mentally face-palming herself for not wondering this before.
At that, Jackson let out a short chuckle and said, "Just because you fail at peeking through another person's record doesn't mean it's impossible."
"You read my file?" Melissa squeaked incredulously.
"Yeah, which, by the way, I never would have pegged you as the type to be familiar with the five-finger discount."
"That was one time!" Melissa exclaimed. "I was twelve and Eric dared me- I can't believe you read my file! Jackson how could you-"
Melissa and Jackson didn't stop throwing back teasing banter until well past midnight in which they both finally said they're goodbyes and went to sleep feeling one hundred percent safe since they had first crashed on that island over a month ago.
Finally, they knew, everything was truly going to be alright.
Well, I don't usually right for this fandum and I tried to keep them in character as much as possible. Let me know what you think guys. :) Review!