"And when the daylight comes I'll have to go
But tonight I'm gonna hold you so close
Cause in the daylight we'll be on our own
But tonight I need to hold you so close"
-Daylight, Maroon 5
Jason carefully snuck through the trails and pathways that led to the Vibe Cabin where most of the girls were currently sleeping. He glanced in the window and noticed how empty the cabin looked. The posters were taken down, the strand of lights Ella had put up around the beams of her bunk were gone, Caitlyn's collage of photos from previous summers was no where to be seen, and the wall Mitchie had covered with bits of pieces of her favorite lyrics was completely bare. Their suitcases were packed and set up by the door to await that impending trip to the bus and the real world. Where Jason had photoshoots and meetings and interviews to attend and where everything real was gone. He'd be trapped in his world of fame once again. Just thinking of it left him with the feeling of being suffocated. He spotted Caitlyn's bed that was nearest to the window and tapped very lightly on the glass.
She immediately turned her head in his direction before she slipped on a pair of flip flops and glanced warily around the room. No one else seemed to hear him. The rest were all sound asleep. She quietly made her way to the door and shut it softly behind her as she met Jason by the window.
"Ready?" He asked.
She nodded and accepted the hand he held out to her. It was very late and technically they weren't supposed to be out of bed. But there was no way Jason was going to spend his last night of normalcy without Caitlyn. They'd made plans at the Campfire to meet up later and he was glad to see Caitlyn remembered.
"So," Caitlyn asked. "Have you decided where we're camping out for the night?"
He nodded and pulled her through Camp, toward the lake.
"Jase, are you crazy? The lake is totally out in the open. We'll get in trouble for sure!" Caitlyn said in a loud whisper.
"Trust me," Jason said with a grin as he squeezed her hand. "I have a plan."
They reached the boathouse and Jason threw the picnic basket he'd stolen from Connie's kitchen and the blankets he'd brought with him into one of the larger paddle boats. There was plenty of room to spread out in it and they could make sure to be out of the reach of his uncle or any other campers. He quickly spread out one of the blankets and then helped Caitlyn step into the boat before he stepped in himself, untied the rope, and paddled them away from the boathouse and Camp Rock.
"This was your plan?" Caitlyn asked. "Strand us in the middle of the lake?"
He rolled his eyes and continued to paddle. "I'm not going to strand us in the middle of the lake. We'll find somewhere on land to dock. Promise."
"What? Where? If you say Camp Star I'm jumping out of this boat right now," Caitlyn said with a huff.
"You really don't like it when people do nice things for you, do you?" Jason asked with a teasing grin.
"I-I like it," Caitlyn said slowly. "I just know how the Grays are when it comes to boats. No one stays in the boat for very long."
Jason chuckled and pointed to the overgrown bit of woods in between Camp Rock and Camp Star. "You see that?"
Caitlyn nodded. "What about it?"
"Neither Brown nor Axel own it. There's a clearing not far off the lake shore. We can pull the boat a little ways a shore and stay in it or we can set up a little camp in the clearing. Whichever you prefer," Jason said with a smile. "Is that suitable, Lady Caity?"
She blushed and nodded. "That sounds perfect. The grounds still pretty wet from the rain last night though. We should probably stay in the boat. Just let's make sure the boat is on the shore and not in the water. I'm not dressed for swimming tonight."
Jason smirked at her and winked. "You don't have to be dressed to swim, Caity."
Her face turned a deeper shade of red and her eyes widened. She laughed and bit her bottom lip before she shook her head in disbelief. "I've totally ruined you."
"Not totally," Jason said with an flirtatious grin. "Just mostly."
Jason steered the canoe toward the shore and ran it aground. He stepped out and offered Caitlyn a hand to help her out as well. Once Caitlyn was out of the canoe Jason pulled it further ashore so that the boat couldn't be seen by anyone who might happen to pass by. Once that was done he and Caitlyn stepped back inside the boat and spread out on the blanket Jason had laid out earlier. He pulled the basket up on the other side of him.
"You brought food?" Caitlyn asked curiously.
"Just snacks and stuff. Some grapes, a couple of bottles of water, a bag semi-sweet morsels. Anything I could steal from the kitchen that I didn't think Connie would miss too much, really," Jason said sheepishly. "Don't be too impressed."
"You stole from Connie for me?" Caitlyn asked with a grin. Jason nodded. Caitlyn giggled and bit her bottom lip before she continued. "Then how can I not be impressed? She's scary when her kitchen is out of order. You're dead if she ever finds out it was you. Oh yes, I'm certainly impressed."
"Do you want anything?" Jason asked as he reached for the basket.
"No, not right now," Caitlyn said softly. She fell silent for a moment and Jason was suddenly worried.
"Caitlyn?" Jason asked. "Everything okay?"
"No," Caitlyn said honestly. "I don't want to go home tomorrow. I don't want to go back to phone calls and e-mails and video chats. I like seeing you live and in person, Jase."
"Caity," Jason said with a soft sigh. "Remember what we said? That we wouldn't focus on that—"
"I know, but how can I not? Tomorrow we go our separate ways. Why does summer always go by so fast?" Caitlyn asked him.
"Because we look forward to it," Jason said simply. "But there's just a few more years until high school is over and we can be wherever we want to be. You could move to LA, I could move to wherever you are…it doesn't matter. Either way, we can be together. We just have to survive a few more years like this one."
Caitlyn whined pathetically and rolled onto her side to bury her face into Jason's chest. "I don't want a few more years like this one." She hesitantly continued with her voice muffled in his shoulder. "I miss you too much."
Jason's arm went around her and he slowly kissed her forehead. "I always miss you too, Caity."
"Whatever you do, don't go to sleep," Caitlyn told him. "Or let me fall asleep. If I sleep till the suns comes up then the summer will just end that much quicker. I want to enjoy every moment we have left. Okay?"
Jason nodded. "Caity, we're not dying. We'll see each other next summer."
"But, Jason, that's a whole year," Caitlyn said sadly. "A year."
"Not really a year. Just until June. Ten months. And you have almost month for Christmas break, surely we can see each other then. So really four months and then you'll have Spring Break in April so three more after that and then the next month is camp. It won't be as long as we think," Jason told her as he rubbed her back comfortingly.
Caitlyn sighed and snuggled into his shoulder. "I guess."
"It'll go by so fast that you'll barely notice," Jason said with a nod. Considering they weren't technically dating she'd probably find some football player to keep her busy. Jealousy bubbled up in Jason's chest and he tightened the arm he had around Caitlyn. Why hadn't he ever made an official move? Why was he only thinking about Caitlyn dating someone else the night before they all leave?
"You're not going to date some starlet bimbo when you get back to La La Land, are you? Some bitch who tries to change you and leach off of your fame? Because I will never speak to you again if you do," Caitlyn asked worriedly.
"Caitlyn, you have nothing to worry about," Jason said honestly.
"Why not?" Caitlyn asked. "You're famous and…attractive, you've got to have fame whores throwing themselves at you left and right."
"I do, but the only person I'm ever going to be thinking about is you. Trust me on that. I'll be wondering if some normal guy your age is taking you to Homecoming or a Friday night football game or something else that I wouldn't be able to go to without completely ruining it for everyone."
"Jason," Caitlyn said softly. "You know me better than that. Normal guys are boring and Homecoming is cliché. Besides, you could never ruin anything. Not for me. And anyway, no one is interested in me back home. I'm too aggressive, too intimidating, too different. The guys at my school want cheerleaders. I'm not a cheerleader, in the literal or figurative sense of the word."
"You cheer me on," Jason pointed out to her.
"Because you deserve it. You're amazing and no one really tells you that. They compliment your family as a whole. They compliment the music you make. But no one ever tells you how wonderful and talented you truly are. So I have to cheer you on. Somebody has to make up for how self deprecating you are," Caitlyn said with a small gentle smile.
"What about you? You don't give yourself enough credit either. I'm positive there are guys at your school who are interested. I'm a guy, Caitlyn. We're a pretty predictable species of human. You're gorgeous, talented, confident, and challenging. Trust me when I say that at least one guy that you know has a crush on you. You may not know it, but I guarantee that it's true," Jason said as he brought his other arm around her shoulders and gave her a reassuring squeeze.
"Well, I don't want just any guy," Caitlyn said honestly. "I want you. But you just have to be a damn rock star who never really stays in one place and when you do stay in one place it's never close to me. Not for very long, anyway. Not that I want you to give up your dream or anything I just…it sucks, that's all. It wouldn't suck so much if we at least lived in the same place when you weren't off touring but you're in L.A. and I'm in Florida. We're nowhere close to each other. At all."
"I think we could make it work," Jason said softly.
Caitlyn sighed and rolled her eyes at him. "Long distance never works, Jase. It's like being in a relationship but not actually being in a relationship. It's just like that sucky limbo place we've been all summer. You know it and I know it."
"So are we just supposed to stay in limbo forever?" Jason asked with a frustrated grunt.
"No, not forever…"
"Then until when, Caity?" Jason asked as he turned a soft glare on her. "When do we stop pretending that we aren't a thing? And when will we get to put a label on this thing?"
"I—I don't know, Jase. College maybe? When I'm able to move out and be in California with you?" Caitlyn said thoughtfully.
"That's two years away, Caitlyn."
"Earlier you made it sound like a year was no time at all, Jason," Caitlyn said with a pointed glare.
"Yeah, well, I…exaggerated," Jason said with a huff. "A year is a long time and two is…well…torture."
"If we did the long distance thing then basically nothing would change," Caitlyn told him as she spoke slowly and thoughtfully. "The only thing that would change is what we call our relationship. How often we speak, how often we visit, and how close we are wouldn't change. Just that label changes. I don't see a point to that. I don't want to just call myself your girlfriend. I want to be able to do all those couple-y things and actually act like your girlfriend. And I can't do that from the other side of the nation, can I?"
"And I get that. Believe me, I do. If I were going to be your boyfriend then I'd want to do it right, but…I'm not your typical guy, you know? Not trying to brag or anything, but I'm kinda famous and kinda rich. There's not much I wouldn't spend to see you, Caitlyn. We could make it work and actually be the couple we want to be. I know we could," Jason said in a determined tone.
"Okay, so you have the resources, but do you have the time something like this would take? Be honest, Jason. With your schedule, do you really have the time to spend flying back and forth to visit me?" Caitlyn asked knowingly.
Jason's face flushed and he gulped. She had him there. He didn't want to concede but…damn it if she didn't make a terrible yet accurate point. "Caitlyn…"
"See? It wouldn't work," Caitlyn said with a whine as she buried her face in his shoulder. She looked over at him and smiled sadly. "It's not that I don't appreciate this discussion, Jason. I do. And in an ideal world, everything you're saying would be perfect and end up just the way we plan but we don't live in an ideal world, as much as you hate to admit it. I know you're a romantic and idealist but sometimes…reality sucks. And this is one of those times. Our timing isn't right. Someday it will be, but not today. I'm sorry, Jason. I really am."
Jason took a deep slow breath and kissed Caitlyn's forehead gently. "Me too, Lady Caity. Me too."
"But," Caitlyn said with a small grin. "We have right now. We have Camp next summer. We do have time together to look forward to down the road. It's just not as much as we'd like, but it is there. It does exist. I mean, right now, we have until the sun comes up before we have to go. That's…" She paused to look at her watch and then looked back at him. "Six hours from now. Just live in the moment with me Jason, okay? We'll enjoy the night and be sad in the daylight. Deal?"
Jason nodded and pulled her closer. "Deal. Until some other option presents itself or you move to California. Whichever comes first."
Caitlyn chuckled and nodded as she settled her head back against his shoulder. "You're such an optimist, Jase."
"Somebody has to be. You certainly aren't," Jason said as he poked Caitlyn's side teasingly.
She squealed and wiggled away from his fingers but when he continued to playfully poke her she glared at him and dug her hands into his curls. Jason took in a sharp breath and his hands tensed against her sides. Caitlyn grinned wickedly at him and began massaging his scalp and wrapping his curls around her fingers. Her shirt had ridden up just a bit and she could feel his hands as they came to rest on her hips just below the hem of her shirt and above the extreme low rise waist of her jeans. That was definitely a different feeling for her. Suddenly, as if he knew exactly what she'd been thinking about the thumb on his right had began to absently caress the smooth skin on her stomach. She shivered slightly at the feeling of Jason's calluses against her and forced herself to take a deep calming breath.
Her eyes drifted to Jason's face and she smiled warmly at his closed eyes and peaceful expression. If it wasn't for his rapid breathing she'd think he was asleep. He definitely wasn't asleep. He wasn't even relaxed. She could feel that almost every single muscle in his body was tensed.
"Jason?" Caitlyn asked softly. "Are you okay? You're very…tense."
He chuckled deeply before he answered her. "Yeah, I wonder why? It's not like I'm abnormally close to the girl I've had a crush on for years or anything. No way that could be the reason. You know, you're not exactly relaxed yourself. You're very stiff. You haven't moved an inch since I put my hands on your hips."
"I—I…can feel your calluses on my skin. It's…different."
"Bad different or—"
"A wonderful yet terrifying kind of different."
"So, what do we do now?" Jason asked as he slowly opened his eyes and his green ones met hers.
She gulped and shook her head. "Not exactly sure. Any ideas?"
The corner of his mouth turned upward and his eyes landed briefly on her lips before he grinned. "A few. Not sure if I should act on them though. Since we're in limbo, apparently."
Caitlyn bit her bottom lip and then smirked at him. "Just because we're in limbo doesn't mean we shouldn't have any fun, Jason."
"Wouldn't it be a bit like torture though? To come so close when…when we can't commit?" Jason asked as guilt briefly flashed across his face.
"You could think of it like that…or you could think of it as us taking advantage of the few hours we have left to, um, enjoy each other's company."
"Now who's the optimist?" Jason asked with a grin.
"Just kiss me, jerk," Caitlyn said as she rolled her eyes and fisted Jason's shirt in her hands.
"If you insist," Jason said with a wink as leaned forward to close the difference between them. He stopped just short of her lips and smirked teasingly at her as he waited for her response. She whined and tugged on his shirt and then waited a moment longer. When he still didn't move she growled, moved her hands from his shirt to the hair at the nape of his neck, and then yanked him down the rest of the way.
Jason's hands immediately tightened their grip on her waist and one crept slowly up the back of her shirt. Caitlyn was too busy kissing Jason senseless to notice. She'd been the one to deepen the kiss. The minute his lips were just barely parted she'd attacked. Not that Jason minded at all. He really didn't. At all. Caitlyn whimpered against his mouth when she finally felt his hand caressing the skin on her back and pulled herself even closer to him. Her hands readjusted and ended up tangled in his curls. Jason growled as her fingers brushed his scalp and immediately rolled over on top of her. She giggled softly and then responded by tangling her legs with his. Jason moved his hand that had been resting on her waist and gently cupped her face as Caitlyn let him take the lead. He kissed her softly and gently and never kissed her the same way twice. Caitlyn pulled away to breathe and sighed happily.
"God, where did you learn to kiss like that?" Caitlyn asked as she tried to catch her breath.
Jason grinned and a quirked a brow at her. "Do you really want me to answer that?"
Caitlyn scoffed and rolled her eyes. "Wow, sometimes I forget you're related to Shane, but its lines like that that always remind me."
"C'mon, Caity, does it really matter? You're my favorite anyway," Jason said as he reached up and tugged on a strand of her hair.
Caitlyn blushed and smiled shyly. "I am?"
Jason placed one last slow kiss on her lips before pulling back and affectionately brushing the hair out of her face. "Definitely."
Jason rolled back onto his side and pulled Caitlyn with him. She rested her head on his chest and they both stared up at the stars through the trees. Caitlyn breathed deeply before she spoke up again. "You know, I've never really thought about how beautiful nighttime is."
"It's more beautiful now because we're both dreading the daylight," Jason told her as he tightened his arm around her.
Caitlyn closed her eyes and shook her head. "I'm not going to think about it. And you're going to stop talking about it."
Jason chuckled and reached for one of Caitlyn's hands. "Yes, ma'am," He said as he brought the back of it to his lips and kissed it.
"So, are you ready to cash in on all of our bets from the beginning of the summer?" Caitlyn asked with a smirk.
Jason groaned. "No, I didn't win any of them."
"That's not true. You won one."
"Whether or not Ella would wear sequins at Final Jam did not count. That was a given from day one," Jason said as he quirked a brow at her.
Caitlyn chuckled. "Yes, but you still won."
"I'm never making any long term bets with you ever again," Jason told her. "You have a creepy sixth sense when it comes to people."
"You better be glad I do," Caitlyn told him with a soft smile. "Or else I never would have given you a real chance, would I? I would have dismissed you as weird if it wasn't for the fact there was something about how damn trusting you were that pulled me in. I could have totally screwed you over and you never would have been the wiser until it was too late. That intrigued me."
"You stuck around because you could have hurt me?" Jason asked with an amused grin.
"No, because I felt like I needed to keep people less kind than myself from betraying you," Caitlyn corrected him.
"So, you wanted to be my guard dog?" Jason said with a soft smile.
Caitlyn blushed. "Basically. I suppose."
"Well," Jason said as he pressed a quick kiss to her forehead and then grinned teasingly at her. "You're much better than a guard dog. You don't have dog breath."
She smacked his chest lightly. "Gee, glad to know that's the only reason I'm better than a dog."