even beyond the garden.

Present Time

Senior Year

[Jake, 18 / Sherry, 18]

Jake walked down the hallway with his head held high; today was the big day – today was the day he would ask her. At last, after months of putting it off and beating around the bush – he was finally going to do it…

Today, he was going to finally ask Sherry to go to prom with him.

One might wonder why it had taken so long for him to ask her, well that's because the same day he asked her to be his 'girl', she was unable to answer. Jake knew she was hiding something and it wasn't good. He just couldn't put his finger on it but she was afraid of something and he was determined to figure out what it was.

Despite all his attempts, so far he had been unsuccessful. The most he did get out of her was consent to pursue her romantically but she begged him to be discreet about it. He was skeptical of her reasoning but she was still being secretive.

He had begun to wonder if she had a boyfriend she was keeping hidden – this caused him to keep a sharp eye on her whenever she was with Quint, the only guy she spent any time with other than him. The more he studied them, he began to doubt it highly as her hanging around Quint caused her to be around Keith too.

Yeah, it seemed as time went on Jake and Sherry weren't the only ones who became friends. Quint and Keith were the best of friends now and even though Keith was still teasing him from time to time, they got along just fine.

Jake knew that if Sherry was in fact involved with Quint, Keith would have told him but the guy always assured Jake that Quint was too busy obsessing over Jessica to even give Sherry a glance.

Jessica was another who had gone through a drastic change. She had stopped harassing Jake to the point that they actually were 'okay'. She finally accepted that their relationship was over and instead went on to harass Mr. Vester along with another girl by the name of Rachael Foley.

Poor teacher, he wasn't married or anything but the girls were waiting for an opportunity to jump his bones.

Jake briefly recalled a time period where Sherry used to flinch in Jessica's presence but now she seemed a lot more at ease. It was good to see her losing that anxiety of hers. She was starting to become a much more confident and perhaps overtly optimistic character.

But she was still Jake's little fairy girl. She always would be.

Even though the situation and pain from their past together was seemingly dissipating, Jake refused to let it all rest until Sherry told him why she left. He had been honest with her, it was time for her to do the same.

Sherry waited by the lockers for Jake to escort her home. She had her books pressed against her modest chest as she hugged them tight and reflected on her day.

Though she didn't look the part, she was very anxious on the inside. With all the talk going around about prom in the next month, she was nervous that Jake would ask her to join him.

As much as she wanted to go with him, she knew it wouldn't work. Ashley was relentless with her and made a daily reminder (as if she were a clock) to corner her every day and instill fear in her…

Ever since the spoiled blonde had learned of Jake's affection for Sherry, she had become increasingly hostile towards her and threatened her viciously, warning her that if she opened her mouth about what happened all those years ago she would see to it that it happened again.

You will never be good enough for Jake so just stay away from him you bitch!

Even recalling those words was enough to get under Sherry's skin. It did nothing but bring her back to that dreaded day when Alexia and the other girls assaulted her… Sherry felt goose bumps all over as she remembered the hell Ashley and the others had put her through. She didn't want to go through that again…

Part of her knew that if she told Jake he would protect her, but after what happened before – she wasn't sure she trusted anyone but herself. Especially not when it came to her safety…

This is ridiculous Sherry, you've got to tell Jake what happened. The longer you keep this going the worse it will get. She'd told herself this time and time again yet it wouldn't sink in…

She remembered her junior year's conclusion. She thought of the emotional departure she had with Jill as she prepared to go to a university. She was staying in Raccoon City but the idea of being without a dear friend tore Sherry apart that day. The girls remained in contact with each other but with Jill's busy class schedule, she was hardly available for leisure activities.

Sherry reminisced about all the after school get-together's they had and sleep overs where they stayed up all night talking about Jake and Chris. Those were the good days but now adulthood was taking up most of their time... Still, Sherry was just pleased to know her friend still thought about her enough to call and chat.

Sherry was happy for Jill; she had graduated with honors and above all, she and Chris had made up. Sherry was delighted to learn that they were finally a couple and they even joined the same university so they would be together.

Their relationship gave Sherry hope for her and Jake. She still felt guilty for not disclosing the past to him but she simply couldn't… Not with Ashley giving her so many problems.

The public didn't even know they were dating – only herself, Jake, Jill and Chris did so how Ashley picked up on it was beyond the petite girl's comprehension.

"Hey super girl!" Jake greeted her suddenly, snapping her from her inner musings.

"O-Oh, hi Jake…" she replied shyly, smiling crookedly to him and then looping arms with him to walk out of the school. "How was your day?"

"Pretty bland but it's much brighter now that I see your pretty face." he purred earning a blush from her. "How was yours?"

"It's... much better now too." It was the truth. Something about Jake made her feel carefree - like she could take on the world as long as he was with her.

"So, I was thinking we could get some food and then finally stop by my place. Whatcha think?" he flashed a dashing smile to her.

Sherry blushed but was diligently looking around to insure Ashley wasn't around – though she already knew that with it being after school hours she was surely gone. Jake and Sherry would stay after school daily because she was a biology tutor and he was on the basketball team. "That sounds fine but Jake, you know I shouldn't visit…"

"Come on, my dad's outta town and my mom had to pay another visit to my grandma's. I don't get a lot of opportunities like this anymore babe. If my dear ole granny didn't like my mom's company so much I wouldn't get 'em at all." he humored as his arm slipped from hers to wind around her small waist.

"Your granny's still getting sick?" Sherry asked worriedly.

Jake shrugged, "Honestly, I think she fake's it so my mom will come by. She really was sick before but now I think she's just so used to my mom being there that she wants her to stay or something…" his demeanor changed from upbeat to sullen.

"What's wrong Jake?" Sherry searched his eyes for answers as they rounded the corner out of the school yard. Ever since they got together they decided to start walking home in the warmer weather to enjoy each other's company. Jake used to dread it but he'd gotten accustomed to it over time.

He sighed and looked down at her small form with a soft smile, "Nothing you should worry too much over."

She was very much worried for him, but took his word for the moment. He'd tell her eventually.


[Jake, 18 / Sherry, 17]

Sherry stood in the girl's restroom and was tidying herself up when Jessica entered. Immediately, she began packing up her lip gloss, comb and other items but she wasn't fast enough – Jessica stopped beside her and Sherry mentally kicked herself for even coming into the restroom alone. She knew she should have asked Claire to come with her…

To her surprise, Jessica's presence was not one of malice… there was something lighter to her all the sudden.

"Hey, you mind if we talk for a minute?"

Sherry was baffled but shrugged after staring absent-mindedly at the girl for too long. Jessica offered an awkward smile and cleared her throat before speaking, "I noticed that you and Jake are really close… closer than I originally thought."

"A-Ah, yes we are… Pretty close, I mean." She replied meekly.

Jessica nodded, "I feel I owe you an apology."

"For what?"

Jessica put her hands on her hips and faced the ceiling to gather her thoughts, "Well, the other day I had a chat with that creepy friend of yours." Sherry assumed she was speaking about Quint, "I was trying to figure out if you had seduced Jake or something but the information I got from him was… totally not what I was expecting."

"What did he tell you?" Sherry asked slowly.

"He said that you and Jake's history together wasn't the happiest but you two love each other anyway." She sighed, "And all this time I thought I could erase you from his mind… but now I see that I never really stood a chance."

Sherry was perplexed, "Jessica…" she approached her and placed a hand on her shoulder. "Were you trying to ease his sorrow…?"

When the brunette nodded, Sherry was quite sympathetic to her. She never knew why Jessica was so crazed about Jake but if she was just trying to bring him some relief from the past… how exactly was she to be viewed as an evil temptress? Her intentions were pure but her execution was perhaps too aggressive…

"I started to get angry when he suddenly didn't want anything to do with me but now I see that it isn't because he was trying to play me… it was because his heart was with you all this time and he never could let you go." Sherry's heart melted for the girl… "I'm sorry Sherry. I should have tried being his friend in the first place – not trying to take your spot in his heart. I never even loved him but you do so... I feel bad for trying to tear you two apart. In the end, the only one that got burned was me… but I was trying to burn you all the same."

Jessica was shocked when Sherry hugged her, "Thank you Jessica."

"F-For what?"

"For looking out for him and trying to love him… it takes a lot to do what you have and I… respect you for it."

Jessica frowned, trying not to get emotional, "How could you say that? After all the hell I put you through – I was one of the girls who attacked you in the bathroom remember? … I should have told Jake what we did. He deserved to know, we deserved to hear him cuss us all out. We had no right to stick our noses into your relationship…"

Sherry smiled softly, "Just learning that you feel remorse for what happened is enough for me, Jessica. It takes a lot of guts to actually come and talk to me about this. I appreciate that."

"Erm, okay…" she offered a small grin herself. "Just… make sure it doesn't happen again – got it?"

The petite blonde nodded earnestly, "I will – is there anything else I can do?"

Jessica tapped her chin with her index finger and then snapped her fingers, "Yep – keep that weird guy away from me. He followed me home the other day… tell him if he stops being so creepy, I just might consider being his friend. But that's a big IF."

Sherry laughed and the girls hugged once more, "You have my word."

Present Time

They arrived at Jake's house carrying bags with fast food in them. They entered through the front door and Sherry shyly stepped into the home, meeting the living room first. It was a very tasteful room by most standards; walls in a champagne shade with many pictures, maroon leather furniture, white curtains, wood floors, and various antique statues.

Jake took Sherry's things and placed them in the front closet and then the two walked further into the home carrying their food.

The kitchen was very nice; glossy tiled floors, wooden cabinets, marble counters, and solid white walls with appliances of the same color. There was a wooden table beside the window with seating for four people and that was where Jake beckoned Sherry.

She took a seat while he retrieved a few beverages for them from the fridge. "Wow, your house is really nice Jake." she said while gazing out of the window at the backyard. "Hey, you really can see the garden from here…" she giggled, observing the pretty trees and flowers in the distance.

Jake chuckled, "I like your house better. It looks nice inside and out."

"So does yours." Sherry pressed, "Just because your mom's not growing a forest doesn't mean it isn't lovely here."

They both laughed at that.

Jake sat beside her and they started to eat their food; both were eating a cheeseburger with fries and drinking bottled water. They ate in silence for a while until Jake spoke up, "Listen, I'm glad you stopped by. I've been dying to give you something. I'm sure it will shock you – in a good way of course."

Sherry stared at him curiously, "Really? Well what is it?"

"Finish eating and I'll show you." he said, sticking his last fry in his mouth before rising up and leaving to go throw away his trash.

She watched him with a heated blush; she found herself looking at his muscles more and more lately, admiring how firm and sculpted he was through his large t-shirts that failed to hide his godliness. The warm weather pushed Jake to wear short sleeved tees but he still wore baggy jeans and boots – that was a permanent style of his.

She always did think he looked good darker colors but today he was wearing a white tee, blue jeans and black boots. He was quite handsome in white… and it was so easy to see the cuts and rips from his six-pack in lighter colors…

She had to stop herself from staring the instant he turned back to her but she couldn't rid her cheeks of that accursed blush of hers…

"Hey babe, you okay?" he asked with a raised brow.

"I'm… I'm perfect." she breathed, taking a sip of her water. Calm down Sherry, sure you're here alone with him and anything could happen but what are the odds he wants to sleep with you? No, no, no – Jake's not the sexual type… is he? She peered at him while he stared down her with interest, a smirk etched on his face.

"You don't look too good babe." he chuckled, feeling her forehead. "Your face is all warm, like you got a fever. You sure ya good?"

"Positive." She answered a bit too quickly for his tastes.

Jake was no fool; he had seen her admiring him for over a year now and no matter how discreet she tried to be about it, he was too observant to miss her shy glances and heated cheeks and deem them a normal reaction.

He knew damn well she was attracted to him in more than an 'innocent' way.

He offered his hand to her since she had finished up her food, "Come on, let's go to my room."

Sherry took in some air as she accepted his hand and allowed him to usher her towards his room. She dropped her things into the trash and then they departed the kitchen. As they climbed the stairs to the second floor, Sherry could feel his eyes on her, studying her – she glanced back to see him ogling her backside and frowned.

He's definitely the sexual type…


[Jake, 17 / Sherry, 17]

"Wow, so this is where it all began for you two huh?" Jill observed the garden behind Sherry's house with fascination. Her eyes flickered everywhere, from the pond to the azalea bushes and to the apple tree garden in the distance.

"Yep, but come on – the spot where we met is over here." Sherry led her friend to the exact spot where she first met Jake.

Jill's eyes scanned over the pond and she watched curiously as little tadpoles, frogs and even baby turtles played about in it. Water lilies floated atop the water as well as other equally beautiful blooms graced the pond with their presence.

"Wow, this is a very romantic spot to meet someone." Jill said dreamily. "I imagine it was like a fantasy world for you guys as kids."

Sherry blushed and they sat down on the rocks to witness the beauty this place had when dusk started to show. Jill was in amazement when she saw the fireflies start to dance around, crickets sounded out around them and moon-flowers finally bloomed. It was like a dream world – she could see why this place meant so much to Jake and Sherry.

"So Jill, what made you finally decide to start dating Chris?" Sherry asked with a grin, "You used to go on and on about it never working and stuff."

Jill hummed, "Well, I finally realized that my doubts were all in my head. Chris doesn't think I'm lesser than him at all – we actually meet on the same level in more than just activities… we actually understand each other. That's something we didn't have in the past and once I realized this… I knew he and I could work out pretty well."

"So… you're happy with him?"

The charming brunette chuckled lightly, "Yeah – but his libido is what bothers me. Not sure I can handle all that muscle!"

The girls laughed.

The sun had completely set now and stars glittered prettily across the skies. Jill raised a brow at Sherry when she noticed her fidgeting with her fingers. Before she could say anything, Sherry spoke up.

"Jill…" She started quietly, "I'm gonna miss you. You're one the best people I've ever met."

Jill's heart became heavy, "I'm gonna miss you too, Sherry – but we've gotta grow up and move on. The world is a vast place – just like this beautiful garden and it beckons to us, to see it all… to explore it." she put her arm around her friend. "We can always meet each other again, Sherry. As close as we are – I'm we'll keep in contact for a long time."

"Sometimes it's hard to accept that we're growing up." Sherry said softly. "I feel dread because I feel like so much will change and we'll all lose contact."

"Sherry, true friends never part forever. Though there's a lot of change coming, we'll only lose contact if we allow ourselves to. As long as we put forth the effort with each other, our friendship is limitless." Jill said with a smile. "Time is always moving and constant – just like us. We are not stagnant persons, that why we grow up – that's why we get wiser and stronger."

"Stagnant… It's funny you say that. Recently I've been thinking… did Jake and I go wrong with this garden? We met here and it has always been important for us because we made promises here and when they were broken… it tore us apart…"

"Instead of making the garden so important, perhaps you should focus on your bond, no?" Jill implied. "There's nothing wrong with having the memory of this place, or coming here whenever you please. But when we limit our own happiness to something of the past, we can never move forward. Sherry, moving forward means letting go of the past but remembering what it taught you."

"What are you saying, Jill?" Sherry asked hesitantly.

"Sherry, eventually we all move away from home. You know that means you'll have to leave this garden behind, right?"

Sherry turned her focus to the pond ahead, her thoughts wandered. She recalled the camping trip and how wonderful it was to just be with Jake; they spent the night outdoors and they had a great time together – outside of the garden.

She then remembered all the nights he stayed over to her house when her parents were away. Suddenly, she realized she didn't think too much about the past and the garden. She was only focusing on the most recent activities and time they spent together. Like the prank from 10th grade, playing dodge-ball with him, being walked to class every day and walking home with him, and how whenever she needed him – he was there.

Even beyond the garden, he was her hero. She's right… if Jake and I keep letting our bond revolve around this garden then we'll get nowhere…

"You're right Jill… eventually if Jake and I are to move forward together… we'll have to leave the garden behind us…"

As the two departed from the garden, they held hands. Sherry realized Jill was truly a wonderful person. She had been her friend, been honest to her and supported her no matter what.

Above all, their friendship wasn't limited. Once Jill graduates, Sherry knew in her heart they would forever be friends.

Her relationship with Jake was also limitless. She would be with him forever – even beyond the gardens where they first met.

Present Time

Jake's room was amazing – at least it was to Sherry. He had the usual components such as a bed, electronics, dresser, chest, nightstand, futon and curtains but he also had an elevated area with a sort of studio DJ get-up. The walls were white but the rest of the room was in his favorite colors; red, black with some splotches of grey here and there. His futon had red cushions but black pillows to it – matching the décor of the bed sheets. He also had black carpet in the room with designs in a white pattern.

Sherry was very much impressed.

"I designed it myself." Jake said proudly, wrapping his arm around her shoulders. "Cool ain't it?"

"Very…" Sherry said with whistle following it.

"Go on, have a seat anywhere you like and I'll get what I wanted to show you, okay?"

She nodded and walked over to the futon, taking a seat and sighing with bliss at its comforting cushions. She playfully removed her shoes and lay down on her side, tucking a pillow beneath her head. "This is nice, comfy too." she sang with a giggle.

She heard Jake chuckle some and sighed – quietly listening to him shuffle around with some things before coming over to her with his hands behind his back. Sherry sat up when he approached, towering over her. Most would have been intimidated by his height and muscle mass but Sherry was hardly afraid him – more or less she was enthralled by him.

Jake was internally a basket case – he'd waited forever for this moment but he felt shy suddenly. He couldn't wait to see her reaction but then he started playing scenarios out in his mind; some were very sweet like she'd give him a kiss on the cheek like she always had, some were of her just taking it and asking if he stole it or something, and then there was the possibility she would finally give him a kiss on the lips…

He had been anxious for that moment – to finally steal her pretty pink lips and hold her close. Despite being 'together', they hadn't kissed yet… and boy did he want to. He was tired of being a gentleman, for once he wanted to indulge in her warmth, hold her close and kiss her breath away.

Yeah, let's make that happen… Jake mused to himself, studying her petite form. She was wearing a white short-sleeve blouse with tiny black hearts all over it, a black skater skirt and red belt, sheer black stockings and some semi-tall red pumps [that she'd taken off upon laying on his futon].

He thought she always looked beautiful but he loved her big blue eyes more than words could express… and right now they were focused solely on him.

Taking in some air, he held out his hands with the golden locket in them. "Here…"


[Jake, 18 / Sherry, 17]

Sherry whimpered as she collided roughly with the restroom wall after the harsh push Ashley gave her. On schedule as always, Ashley made sure to come for her whenever Claire or Helena had class and couldn't back her up.

"I'm warning you, Sherry –" Ashley began with a snarl, "Every time I catch you with Jake that's one more strike to add to the list! Stay away from him!"

"He doesn't belong to you, Ashley." Sherry responded calmly, brushing her clothes off. "Why are you doing this? Jessica's no longer trying to be with him – so why keep hounding me?"

Ashley smirked, "I hate your guts – that's why. You're nothing but bad news for him. I dare you show up to prom – I'll be sure to deliver a repeat of 6th grade. Don't think I won't."

Present Time

Sherry's jaw dropped as she reached for the little trinket she'd left behind. She couldn't believe that he actually found it! She caressed the surface of it speechlessly, in awe of its gloss and how clean it was. She figured he must have cleaned it when he found it…

"I found it… 6 years ago." Jake started quietly, sitting down beside her. "I was waiting for the perfect moment to return it to you… I've taken good care of it too. I thought of it as a… reminder – a memento of you. I promised the gods that if they brought you back to me, I would do whatever I could to make it up to you for all the shit I put you through…" he leaned forward, resting his elbows on his knees and lacing his fingers beneath his chin.

Sherry turned to him and reached for one of his hands, intertwining her fingers with his and squeezing. "Jake… I can't believe you found it. I left it for you… and you actually found it…" We really are meant to be together after all… but… Ashley… Tears started to form in her eyes.

"Sherry, hey it's alright –" Jake went to wrap his arms around her when she threw herself at him…

Their lips met.

It all happened so fast that Jake didn't know how to react. His back was against the cushions of his futon as she kissed him. Once she pulled away, her cheeks were flaming red and she stared with a mix of curiosity, embarrassment and affection at him. Jake acted on impulse; he enveloped her in his arms and pulled her back down to him and started kissing her again.

Sherry felt her experience showing and was shy but Jake was gentle with her, gliding his lips over hers while soothing her with his fingers massaging along her back. She sighed against his lips and he slowly slid his tongue into her mouth – it startled her at first but he kept a steady rhythm with her, stroking their tongues together.

Both were quickly losing their breath but kept at it; gradually things heated up – Sherry was seated on his middle with her legs on either side of him. Jake had kicked his legs up onto the futon but had his knees bent to keep her in place. Her hands were everywhere on his chest, she fondled him through his clothes innocently but eventually she lifted his shirt enough to touch his skin and she did so ever so gently – her fingers grazing delicately over his impressive abdomen.

Jake's hands went from caressing her scalp to stroking her thighs and reaching under her skirt to grope her soft buttocks, massaging her with his thumbs and clinching with his other fingers though still careful not to tear her stockings. Eventually she started to moan into his mouth that sent a jolt of excitement through him. By now they both were holding on by a thread to air and needed to pull away – it was Sherry who did so.

They pulled apart to breath, both staring ardently into the other's eyes as they panted desperately for air. Sherry kept her hands in his shirt but Jake's traveled from her buttocks to the front of her thighs, appreciating the shapeliness of her slender body.

Sherry hesitantly lowered herself down again to kiss his neck gently, it was a feathery peck to his skin. Her nose tickled him until she planted another kiss on his ear but went on to nibble on it. Jake let out a low growl and kissed her cheek, running his hands down her back once more. He kissed her nape and her gasp caused him to repeat the action, only this time he lingered there, sucking and tenderly nipping at her milky skin.

He inhaled her scent as he continued this, melting from her alluring aroma of a garden. Her hands came out of his shirt and she managed to hug him, pressing her body as close to him as she could. Jake followed her example but never stopped suckling the sensitive skin on her nape.

Sherry was the one that stopped him, she cupped his cheek so he could face her and then their lips met once again. She nibbled on his bottom lip and enlisted a low grumbled from him – he licked her lips and then kissed her. Their tongues danced together and he cupped her face to kiss her firmly, once, twice and on the third time her whimpers were too much for him to bear so he gave her the full on kiss she desired.

Jake was enjoying every ounce of this – from her soft mewls and coos to her fingers exploring his chest area. He realized Sherry was definitely a sensual girl, coy and demure with a subtle passion to her. She was perfect for him… and he wanted to be her everything.

Sherry couldn't pull herself away from him, he was just intoxicating. He smelled so spicy and it was tempting [at least for her]. His hands were strong but he was so tender with her, she was complete putty in his embrace. His lips were fantastic – soft and the way his tongue felt against hers was amazingly stimulating. She never knew she would feel so strongly for him…

Eventually Jake sat up and pulled her into his arms to lie her gently on the bed nearby. He descended down on top of her to finish his assault on her mouth. Sherry could do nothing but whimper and beg for more which he was glad to provide.

As the sun began to set outside, for the first time ever, they both could accept that this was where they wanted to be and what was perfect for them. They would have it no other way…

Sherry spent majority of the evening with Jake but later had to start back home to meet her curfew at 9 pm. It was 8:45 pm when Jake started to escort her home, they both figured it would lessen suspicion if she came home a bit early – especially since he had left a very large hickey on her nape…

Luckily Sherry had an extra scarf in her bag and she put it around her neck – her parents wouldn't suspect anything because Sherry wore scarves all the time. The pretty blonde was cursing that her parents just had to be home this weekend of all the other days. She wanted to spend the night with Jake and well, kiss him some more.

He was a great kisser.

She did wonder if he had learned how to kiss so well by experiences with other girls but decided that she didn't want to know. The fact was that he liked her and wanted her to be his girl – no one else.

They held hands as they crossed through the garden and approached the house but Jake suddenly stopped her once they reached the apple trees. "This is where we first promised to be friends forever, isn't it?"

Sherry simpered to him, "Yes, one of the best days of my life."

"Mine too…" Jake mused with a smile. "This is also where I found the locket."

Sherry glanced down at the locket around her neck. "Yeah, I buried it here hoping you would find it. I'm glad you did…" she said sweetly.

"Before you go in the house… there's something I wanted to ask you." Jake started awkwardly. He ran a hand over his hair before finally getting the nerve to keep his promise to himself, "Sherry, would you… go to prom with me?" he asked sheepishly with a crooked smile.

Sherry froze. The only thing she could think about was Ashley and her friends and their threat to her. She tried hard to get that image out of her head and free her body of the bruises that long faded away but the pain was permanent. She could remember them all laughing at her while she lay on the filthy bathroom floor and felt nothing but agony as they spat at her.

Oh no… Jake… She started to cry but choked them back quickly and looked at him pain stricken, "I… I can't…"

Jake felt like he'd been punched in the gut. "What…?" he was visibly in disbelief. "What did you just say…?"

Sherry snapped, not from his questioning but from her own rising anxiety. "I can't!" she shouted.

"Why not?!" Jake challenged angrily, "You're my girl aren't you?!"

"Jake, please I –"

"So what about earlier? Did that mean nothing to you?!" he fussed. She was tearing his heart out and stepping on it right now – she was his everything, he spent nearly his entire life admiring her and fantasizing about being with her… for her to decline his offer was just devastating.

Sherry was in pain too. She knew how she felt for him – it was killing her to do this but she didn't know what else to do… "Jake, please this isn't about us… it's about someone else…"

"You… like someone else?"

Sherry gasped and shook her head, "No, no – it's just… I can't…" she started to cry and Jake – despite how frustrated he was with her, pulled her into a warm embrace. "Jake please believe me – you're the only person for me. I could never be with anyone else… but I think we need to stay as friends…"

It pained her to say that but it was all she could do at that moment. At least until they graduated and she never had to see Ashley and her friends again… then hopefully she would still have a chance to be with him.

"No," Jake rejected, shaking his head. "I can't be your friend – I refuse to settle for that! I spend every waking moment of my life thinking about you and what I can do to make you smile. You haunt my damn dreams, Sherry! I have dreamed about making love to you in the garden when it's raining and we were struck by lightning!"

Sherry was speechless; he was pouring his heart out to her and was desperately trying to keep her with him. Oh Jake… "Sherry please talk to me… I'll never let anyone hurt you. I'll protect you no matter what. I promise you'll be happy with me…"

His next words broke her heart. "I love you, Sherry. I love you with everything I have… Please be mine, please be my girl."

Sherry pulled away from him slowly and couldn't bring herself to look at him, she knew he was hurting and so was she. Much to Jake's dismay, he watched her remove the locket and take his hand to place it there. "I love you too, Jake. I'll always love you…"

"Why are you doing this?" Jake asked and his voice cracked. "Please don't do this… I love you, Sherry. We love each other."

"I can't tell you why…"

Jake lost it – his impulses took over as he got so enraged that he slammed the locket on the ground with so much force…

It popped open.

Sherry had been startled by his sudden rage but both were stunned to see a neatly folded letter lying upon the ground beside the now open trinket. She gasped and tried to spring for it but Jake grabbed it first, "What is this?" he asked sharply, picking up the locket as well and feeling relieved that it wasn't damaged.

She was trembling under his hard glare, she shook her head. "It's nothing! Give it here!"

Jake backed away from her and unfolded the note to see its contents. Sherry watched with distress etched all over her, she hugged herself and stared sadly to the ground. Jake read it aloud to her…

"Dear Jake, I once believed we would be together forever and truly… a part of me still does." he began sending her curious glances now and then. "I'm leaving this locket for you to remember me by in case we never meet again. And if that is the case, then I may as well be honest and tell you everything. If you're wondering why I left, it's for a few reasons. The first is that I can't take this bullying any longer. It hurts too much to think that the one person I trusted with all of my heart is the one person who hates me the most…"

Jake paused and took in some air – it wasn't easy remembering the hell he'd put her through but he knew he needed to take responsibility for it. He treated her like dirt despite his real feelings for her…

"The second reason is because of what your girlfriend and her friends did. You promised to protect me but I guess she was more important to you… It's funny but I think they're all right about me; Alexia, Ashley, and Jessica… I really am trash – I don't deserve you. You're cute and fun and funny while I'm weird and a crybaby."

"My last reason is because I'm scared. I'm scared of so many things now and I just want to be happy… but I can't get that here anymore…"

"It's a little funny that as I write this letter, you're probably imagining me as that wimpy girl with no courage and who runs away from things. You're right, that's exactly what I am. I am not strong enough to fight yet but maybe one day I will be… I can't seem to let go of the past. I dunno why I'm still writing this, it's not like you'd care enough to read it all anyway… But I just want to get it all off my chest and forget about you but I can't…"

"I could never forget the day we met. How we laughed, how we played – I could never forget the smile you brought to my face. No matter what happened from that day on, I kept that beautiful memory. After all, it happened in our sacred place, in the garden, among the apple trees… I'll never forget you Jake… no matter how hard I try… Goodbye, Sherry aka super girl though it should probably be wimpy girl..."

"Wow…" Sherry started once he finished. "I just noticed how damn dramatic I was with that note."


Oddly enough, they both started to laugh but it was a brief exchange of amusement. Jake sighed, staring at her with a dark look to his eye. "You… ran away because of Alexia and her little twits?"

Sherry took in some air, "Yes." she answered while keeping her composure. "But I –"

Jake scoffed, "I can understand leaving because I was a total dick to you – but you ran away because of them?" he was seeing red right now. Pissed off at Alexia for leaving before he had a chance to set her ass straight and he was about ready to throw Ashley and Jessica into a dumpster somewhere like the trash they were for even daring to call Sherry that.

But he was even more pissed off that Sherry – despite being a pretty strong girl… she gave them power over her by running away! And even worse, she left her friends because of them!

"You mean to tell me that you let those pathetic morons scare you off? For God's sake Sherry that's what they wanted all along! Alexia was jealous of you – so is Ashley! Seeing you leave gave them so much satisfaction! They knew how close we were and I don't think it was that big of a secret that I still adored you… they were jealous of that Sherry…!"

Sherry was fuming, "How dare you?! You expected me to know how they felt about me?! I knew nothing about them except that they beat the hell outta me and left me on the girl's bathroom floor after they kicked me, pulled my hair and spit at me when I laid there!"

Jake was appalled, "They did what?"

"You heard me!" Sherry cried; her face was red with anger and frustration. "You expected me to know – or even give a damn about your feelings for me at that time?! Your feelings for me weren't gonna stop them from hurting me and you sure weren't going to help me! I had no one to help me! So I got scared and I left…"

Jake met her on her level of chagrin, "Why the fuck didn't you just come tell me about it, dammit?! I would have stopped their asses on the spot!"

"You were too busy getting a write up for harassing me in the first place!"

"What about your other friends?! Yoko, Finn and Quint – did you just forget about them?! You were so busy running away you didn't give a damn did you?!"

That struck her hard. Sherry stood there dumbfounded and Jake immediately knew he'd crossed the line. Before he could recant his words, she'd whirled away from him and stormed off to her house in a huff. He chased after her and blocked her path, "Sherry look I'm sorry… I'm just pissed off okay?"

To his surprise, she offered a smile – it wasn't a bright one, it was relatively crestfallen. "I know and you have every right to be." she sighed, "All this time I've been so critical of you when in reality – I'm wrong too. I haven't been the best person in the past either. I was weak… I see that now."

Jake said nothing and she pried the locket from his big hands, "You're right, I've been running for a while. I've been too weak to stand up for myself. After what happened between us, I thought I wasn't good enough for friends… I thought I would ruin everything somehow. Even now I still have times when I feel like I don't deserve you."

"But we've made up now. You've made plenty of friends since then and that Quint guy's always stuck by you – even when you left and came back, he's stayed your friend, right? And to hell with Ashley, Alexia and Jessica! You're not trash and you never were! Coming back and making friends – and even keeping them should prove you're a wonderful girl…" he cupped her face. "And if there's anyone who doesn't deserve someone… it's me. I don't deserve you, Sherry… but dammit, I'm selfish."

My doubts were all in my head… Sherry could hear Jill's words repeating over and over again. Maybe my doubts are all in my head too…

Sherry slowly smiled and Jake felt his heart melt for her once again, "I've been selfish too, Jake. And thank you for supporting me. I can't believe how naïve I've been…" she let out a doleful sigh, "Here I am, letting Ashley control my life once again… could I be any more pathetic?"

"Ashley?" Jake repeated.

"Yeah, she's aware of your feelings for me and said she'd make a repeat of what happened years ago if I even thought to date you – especially if we go to prom together."

So that's why she's been so hesitant to be with me… "How long has this been going on?" he asked.

"It was on and off in 10th grade but once we became friends again Ashley's attitude towards me got worse while Jessica's wasn't the best either but she… she actually apologized. She said she realized how bad she'd been to me and decided that it was wrong…"

"Maybe that's why she stopped flirting with me too." Jake concluded with a sigh of relief, it was finally over between them and he had nothing left to worry for. He never understood why Jessica was so clingy with him – she was like a possessive and over-protective sister sometimes more than a girlfriend and even when they were a 'couple', things just weren't satisfying…

"Jessica was just trying to help you in her own messed up sort of way…" Sherry said, moving in closer to him.

"Being clingy and obsessed was no way to go about it." he replied dryly and started caressing her cheeks with his thumbs, "Sherry, you're not gonna let this girl get to you a second time, are ya?"

Sherry shook her head and gave him a determined look, "No, this time I'm gonna be tough. This time, I'm not running away."

Jake smirked, "That's my super girl..." he wrapped his arms around her. "I promise you I'll protect you this time."

"No, this time I wanna be strong along with you." she said. "I'll try to stand up to her for myself. I want to be with you Jake and I refuse to let anyone or anything have power over our relationship anymore."

The two came together for a chaste and sweet kiss and when they finished, her cell began to ring. The caller I.D read it was her 'Papa' and the two laughed. "Looks like dear ole dad noticed you're late for curfew after all…"

Sherry giggled when she observed the time was 9:10 pm. "Yeah, well, I better go." she gave him a quick peck on the cheek and turned away to her house. "Oh and Jake…" he tilted his head with interest as she smiled brightly, "I'd love to go to prom with you."

Prom day arrived quicker than expected. Jake met Sherry at her house so they could take pictures for her parents. Prom started at 8 pm and Jake's watch read 7:15 pm when he entered the Birkin home. Sherry's mother, Annette was squealing delightfully at him, calling him handsome and thoroughly embarrassing him…

He had this experience with his mother just twenty minutes before.

Annette vanished into the kitchen after telling him to have a seat. Just as he was about to take up her offer, the sound of heels approaching caught his attention and immediately he was nearly knocked off his feet when he laid his eyes on Sherry.

Her exquisite, satin gown had two layers; red over black [visible because of a slit on the left side of the gown] and was very long, draping to the floor elegantly. The short and thin sleeves hung loosely off her shoulders with black lace, the bodice was quite fitted especially in the chest area – it made her bosom appear very full with its slight V-neck. The lace design of her sleeves went on to embellish along the V-neck and a few pretty onyx gems formed a floral pattern along the left side towards the slit of the dress. She wore satin black gloves and in her cutely curled hair was an accessory: a black feather attached to a mini hat with lace. Finishing off the look was a matching lace choker around her neck.

When she finally was within his reach, he noticed she also had darker makeup than usual and her lips were rosy red. The watery hue to her eyes was enhanced to an alluring degree…

She was absolutely stunning.

"Wow…" he breathed staring at her with a smile. "You look beautiful, super girl…"

Sherry blushed prettily, averting her gaze – she twiddled her fingers. "Thanks… I'm nervous I'll fall at prom if we dance…"

"Nah, I'll be right by your side the whole time so you'll be fine." Jake trifled, taking her hand.

Sherry was amazed when she saw Jake too. He looked dashing in his tuxedo; he had a red jacket with a black vest underneath and the pants were black too. Sherry could also see his white dress shirt buttoned up with a black tie at his neck. She couldn't help but think of how handsome he was when smirked at her.

And boy did he smell good.

"You look so handsome, Jake…" she said sweetly, feeling her face heat up more when he winked to her.

"Only for you, super girl." he said smoothly, presenting her with the corsage they'd picked out themselves a week before. It consisted of a white cymbidium orchid, small red roses and white jasmine. Sherry looked down – remembering she had his matching boutonnière in her hands.

She felt flush and allowed him to put her corsage on her wrist and then placed the boutonnière on him. "Thanks, Jake…" she said softly. Jake smiled and kissed the back of her gloved palm just as her mother emerged from the kitchen with Sherry's father, William. Both of them had cameras and Jake knew this was to be expected but he was tired of cheesing already...

It was so not his style but he'd do anything to make Sherry happy.

"Smile!" Annette said snapping a photo of the two. "You both look so beautiful together!"

Sherry thanked her mother with a hug and felt a gush of happiness. She was elated that her parents were able to take a week long break just for this occasion. She really missed having them home for weeks but the past few years they'd been extra busy…

All that mattered was that she finally had them.

William gave his daughter a hug and shook Jake's hand, "You take good care of her, Jake – or I'll tell your father." he humored with a smile.

We definitely don't want that happening… Jake thought irritably as he recalled his father giving him the same warning – No prom night dumpster babies… "You have my word, sir." he said sheepishly.

The sound of the limo honking outside alerted them all. Immediately, William ushered them to the door but not before snapping three more photos. Sherry departed from her parents by kissing and hugging them both. She and Jake left the home to get to the limousine where Claire, Helena and Carlos were waiting.

Sherry squealed with delight upon seeing her friends looking so amazing. They had all agreed to wear red and black for this occasion and she thought they looked like a garden of sensual rose warriors or something.

Even though that made little to no sense…

The limo driver allowed them all to get out and take pictures before they made off to retrieve Steve, Piers, Keith and Quint. Claire pulled a camera from her purse and nearly tripped over her dress trying to get out and hug her friend. She would have fallen if Carlos and Helena didn't grab her in time.

Helena wore a short red strapless sweetheart dress with black sequins on the bodice and black lace over the tulle bottom skirt. She also had on black sheer nylon stockings, black pumps, lace gloves and a black sequin choker. Her hair was styled in a complicated but elegant updo.

Claire wore an amazing strapless ball gown made of taffeta material – it was also red with a black rose belt loosely tied around her waist. It was short in the front but longer in the back and its skirt bottom was ruffled. Her beautiful mahogany hair was loosely curled but a black rose gathered a nice quantity of her tresses to the back of her head in a small messy bun. Her jewelry was akin to black pearls. Claire wasn't wearing stockings over her legs, she wore open toed black stilettos.

Jake had to help Sherry get into the limo after the pictures were taken. Her dress was so long she kept getting caught on things or nearly tripped over it. He didn't mind though, he was more relieved that she actually was coming so he wouldn't dare complain.

Once the limo finished gathering everyone, they made their way to the prom. Their prom was being held at a luxurious hotel on the outskirts of the city.

It was a surprise to everyone that Quint had even decided to go but he informed them all that he was inspired by Sherry's bravery to stand up to her bullies and figured he'd come along for the food, to hang with friends and to raid hotel suites…

He also mentioned something about a horror movie called Prom Night catching his interest lately and he made sure to enlighten everyone that they better not have any psycho ex-stalkers from their past that escaped from mental institutions to find and kill everyone in hopes to get to them.

Poor Jake became the blunt of the joke though he insisted that Jessica was through with him.

As they closed in on the hotel, Sherry could feel her nerves kicking in; an uneasy feeling tried to overwhelm her but she leaned against Jake to calm herself.

They had a plan, everyone in the limousine had pitched in to help her cause this time – she was not alone in this. She and Jake agreed to keep this all a secret and tell Ashley and everyone that she wasn't going to prom to not raise suspicion – but this was all for the sake of the plan.

Sherry was going to show up at the prom and take Ashley and her friends by surprise.

All that needed to happen to get the plan into action was for Sherry to walk into the restroom and when Ashley followed her, Claire and Helena would trail behind and ambush her when she tried anything.

…But that was what bothered Sherry.

After all this time, she was tired of the bullying, the fighting and the conflict. They were all about to graduate and move onto bigger things in their lives. After prom, they were going to graduation and then that was the end of it all.

She didn't want her last memory of Ashley to be like it was for Alexia. She didn't want her to get away with bullying her but she also didn't want to leave prom with the memory that she did exactly what Ashley did.

Ambush her and bring her harm.

It was like Jill said – moving forward means leaving the past behind. Sherry imagined that meant letting go of the pain too. She didn't have to forget what Ashley put her through but she would have to move on.

Jill… thank you. I think I know exactly what I want to do now.

The hotel was very crowded, all the seniors of Raccoon city high school were required to meet in an open hall and ballroom where the DJ and prom decorations were set up. Balloons were scattered about and posters and decorations were in the likeness of the special occasion.

Jake entered the ballroom with Sherry at his side – his arm wound tightly around her waist as he peered around at everyone. He could make out many students that he knew and they were visibly surprised to see his date but he simply smirked and strode along. He saw Claire immediately start dancing with Steve and Piers gently trying to persuade Helena to indulge him in the same action. To his surprise, she willingly did so…

He felt Sherry stiffen suddenly and followed her gaze to see Jessica standing with Ashley up ahead, both of them appeared equally shocked though Ashley's surprise concealed a quiet rage.

Jessica was wearing a dark purple mermaid dress that clung to her slender form and the bottom of the dress was designed with a tulle skirt. Her long hair was curled like usual and she had some quite modest makeup for once.

Ashley was wearing a very ostentatious ball gown; it was multi-colored with a big skirt that draped the floor and a halter tie around the back of her neck. Her short blonde hair was pulled away from her face and tied in a bun on the back of her head.

Jake figured it would be a good idea to get Sherry away before the rising tension started to bother her but to his surprise, she seemed calm. She leered to him with a simper, "Did you… want to dance?" she asked over the boisterous music the DJ was playing.

He took her hands in his, "Wouldn't you rather confront them and get this over with?"

She shook her head with unbridled determination in her eyes, "Jake, let's just have some fun for now."

He smirked at her, "Sure thing babe."

Just then, Claire came over and tapped them both. They whirled around to face her and she grinned before snickering mischievously, "Looks like Graham-cracker's upset that you're here, Sher." she said. "This should be good! Oh and don't forget to vote for Helena and Piers as King and Queen okay? But don't tell them! It's a surprise if they win!"

Jake raised a brow but glanced to Sherry, she was giggling before replying to Claire, "Will do! And don't worry about Ashley, I'm sure she's too busy worrying over whether or not she'll win prom queen."

"Helena and I are going into the restroom after the next song ends. You can follow us in there but be discreet about it. If she follows, we'll be right there to kick her ass for trying to hurt you." Claire said firmly.

Jake noticed that Sherry seemed incredibly composed, like she was plotting something. He was about to question her but she responded to Claire first, "Alright, I'll be sure to be alert."

Claire waved them off and went to join Steve by the punch bowl and Jake and Sherry began dancing together when a slow song came on, Sherry tried to fall in step with Jake and he could tell she wasn't familiar with slow dancing. He started to show her the steps and once she got the hang of it things went very smoothly.

"Super girl," Jake began softly against her ear. He didn't miss her distinct shudder when he did that, "Don't do anything that doesn't feel right for you, okay? You don't have to confront them or fight if you don't want to. I just don't want them to frighten you anymore, babe."

"I know, Jake… but what I'm going to do is not because of what was done to me in the past. I'm doing this so I can let the past go for good." she smiled to him before resting her head on his chest. "You'll see what I have planned – but for now, please just hold me…"

Jake simpered and placed a tender kiss on her forehead, "I love you, super girl."

"I love you too, Jake."

Sherry watched Helena and Claire enter the restroom nearby and waited a minute before following after them. She gave Jake's hand a nice squeeze first and then trailed off alone. Her nerves were on fire as she made her entrance into the restroom. She stood in front of the sink and snapped three times to let Helena and Claire know of her presence. They were in the stalls waiting and in response, they snapped twice.

It seemed like they were waiting for hours but in reality only a moment had gone by. Girls came and went from the restroom and Sherry casually pretended to be fixing her makeup. Eventually, she grew frustrated and debated calling the whole thing off when suddenly in popped Ashley with her three groupies.

Sherry turned to face the other girl with a calm expression but inside, she was in shambles. You can do this Sherry – it's time to take back your power.

"I thought I told you not to show up, Sherry?" Ashley started with a snarl. "You don't believe me when I say I'll kick your ass again?"

Sherry sighed, it was the day of reckoning… "Ashley, I am not afraid of you." she said smoothly, her hands together and fingers laced. "There isn't anything you can do to hurt me."

Ashley stalked forward, ready to smack her but Sherry remained stoic as Claire stormed out of the bathroom stall just in time, almost knocking the girl in the face with the door as she did so. "So Ashley, I hear you enjoy beating up on girls with the help of your little tramp followers. How much of a threat are you with me here?" Claire sneered with a smirk.

Helena opened her door next and came up beside Sherry without saying a word. Ashley was visibly intimidated, she puffed her cheeks as they reddened with her growing fury. "Oh so you're a coward now Sherry? You have to call for back up?"

"Funny you should say that because you didn't come in here alone. You brought your friends with you with the intention of harming me." Sherry declared mild-manneredly. "I suppose if we all came after you and your friends right now I'd be a lot like you, wouldn't I?"

Claire glanced at Sherry with interest, she could see where this was going but she was curious as to why. Sherry advanced on Ashley and the girl stood her ground with a cocky smirk. "Ashley, I'm not fighting you. I don't need to."


"It's been a long road but this is the very last time we're probably going to see each other – well, besides graduation. Do you really want to graduate from here knowing that all you did was terrorize a girl you didn't even know? Jessica's moved on from Jake – what purpose do you have for trying to control who he dates? You don't even like him. You like Mr. Kennedy, don't you?"

Ashley blushed but shook her head, "N-No way! He's old!"

"But very handsome…" One of her groupies stated with a sigh.

Sherry smirked with amusement, "It's time to move on, Ashley. It's time you let it all go. We're all grown now with bigger things ahead of us. Why not just bury the hatchet now?"

"You think you're so high and mighty." Ashley said with frown. "You think you're so special – like the world revolves around you."

"That's not true." Sherry replied shaking her head. "I'm not perfect. I've always been the shy one who never spoke up for herself and the girl with weird hobbies. I've never felt accepted… The only time I have is when I met Jake."

"What are you talking about?" Ashley demanded short-patiently. "You're trying to play the sympathetic role after everything you've put Jake through?"

Sherry flinched, "Pardon?"

"I don't know what you did to him but throughout middle school Jessica, Keith and I were the ones who tried our best to make him human again! Then suddenly you show back up and steal him away! He walked into your arms so willingly too – just for you to hurt him again. You don't care about anyone but yourself! For once, maybe you should just help him by letting him down gently and going away for good!"

To say Sherry was devastated was an understatement. She couldn't believe her ears… Ashley hates me for the same reason as Jessica did… but why? Jake's none of her business.

Helena lost her patience at that moment – she was tired of Ashley always acting like she could control the world. If her father wasn't rich, she'd still be in the 9th grade. "Who the hell are you to tell someone what they should do?" the usually quiet and composed brunette said irritably. "You know nothing about Sherry. You should shut your damned mouth and start doing your school work instead of worrying about things that have nothing to do with you."

Ashley scoffed, "Helena please – you've been here since 8th grade. Jessica and I had been working to make Jake cheer up for over a whole year before you came around. If you had seen how hurt he was, you'd hate her guts too!"

"I doubt it," Helena said dismissively. "It's none of my business so whatever happened between them would have been for them to deal with. It's so funny that you think you're some sort of bodyguard for Jake when he can't even stand you. Keith's the one he's shared everything with since they were young and Keith's told me that himself. Never once did he mention you or Jessica bringing any 'happiness' to Jake's life. Jessica maybe but you… nope."

"I don't care what Keith says! None of you would know how Jake was after this heartless bitch left!" she pointed an accusatory finger at Sherry. "She broke his heart somehow and now she's trying to do it again! Jessica and I could see that clearly but now she's suddenly on your side too… I don't get it. "

Unlike Jessica, Ashley's just gone along with this hatred thing. Jessica only hated me because she wanted to protect Jake and sort of replace me. Ashley has no reason to hate me except like Jake told me, she's been jealous for some reason… but maybe she did grow protective of him because her friend Jessica was…

"I think you need to stop making assumptions about things unless you know the entire story." Claire said with a dark frown. "Jake and Sherry would have never –"

"Claire, Helena – thanks for sticking up for me but please, let me talk…" Sherry pleaded softly, she was ready to stand up and be strong. "Ashley, none of this would have even happened if Jake and I weren't so young and dumb…"

"Oh?" she rolled her eyes and put her hands on her hips. "Fill me in please." her words were laced with sarcasm but Sherry didn't care.

"Before I met Jake, I had no one in my life that I could call a friend. I was always picked on and treated like dirt but when he came along, all of that stopped. For the first time in my life I knew I had someone who cared about me, who would be around me, who liked me… The day he walked away from me was the day I stopped believing in myself."

"Maybe you did something to make him leave you." she stated harshly.

Sherry shook her head, "We… had a misunderstanding… I told him that I moved in and out of my aunt's house quite often. I never got a chance to tell him the whole story before he assumed that I was planning on leaving him. If he had asked me, I would have told him that I had no intention to. I was happy with him. He made me smile…"

"When he started being mean to me, I didn't know what I did wrong because he never told me why he suddenly hated me… I blamed myself. I was sure I was not worth being friends with. I didn't believe I was likable, I didn't believe I could be a friend to anyone because in the end they would start to hate me…"

"So is that why he started bullying you…?" Ashley asked in a milder tone.

Sherry sniffed back some tears threatening to fall and nodded, "That little misunderstanding destroyed so much of the happiness we shared…"

Ashley sighed and faced the floor, "In other words… you're trying to say Jake brought this on himself, huh?" her words were bitter…

"No, I should have been more assertive." Sherry replied.

"You do know that the whole reason we started picking on you was because we thought you hurt him?" Ashley stated lifting her head to look her dead in the eye. Sherry was taken aback by her words. "We were his friends and… we knew he had some hurt from you but we didn't even understand why. We thought you did something horrible or something."

She groaned, "I should've known that something was up – especially since he never wanted us to bother you. But that day at the dance… we saw Jake get in trouble because of you and we wanted to get back at you for it… That's why we attacked you… and said you didn't deserve him."

"So instead of just mind your own business, you attacked an innocent girl because you were so called 'looking out for him'…?" Claire rolled her eyes and felt a migraine coming on. "I don't care how old you were – if Jake never wanted you to bother her, it should have clicked for you to leave her alone. I don't believe you when you say you were trying to protect him. I think you always had a problem with Sherry and wanted to hurt her."

Ashley frowned, "You don't know what you're talking about."

"You should just admit it, Ashley." Helena deadpanned, "It's obvious that you had no reason to be so defensive of Jake. He never liked you so cut it out."

Sherry approached Ashley and took her hands into her own – much to the blonde's surprise, "What you did to me... It did hurt me… a lot. But I'm willing to find peace with it all if you're willing to let Jake and I be together without interfering. It's time you let this go because there's no reason for it."

"I'm willing to forgive you for the past but if you try and keep this going – the only one who loses is you. Jake and I are going to be together even after school ends but you… we'll probably never see you again. Now, do you want to continue this endless animosity between us or are you willing to move on?"

Ashley dropped her head and the restroom was filled with silence as everyone waited for the other blonde's response. Finally she lifted her head, "Fine. But for the record – I am not and have not ever been jealous of you."

Sherry smiled, "Okay Ashley, whatever you say."

Jake was standing with Keith, Piers, Carlos, Quint and an irritable Steve who made sure to voice his need for alcohol when Sherry finally emerged from the restroom. Jake let out a loud sound of relief as he raced over to her and pulled her into a hug before turning his attention to Ashley – who came out at the same time. "Listen Ashley you need to –"

"Jake, I know you've never really wanted Jessica and me to be so possessive of you but… just know that you don't worry have to worry – we're not butting in anymore." she smiled for a brief moment and then sighed, "Good luck…" she turned away and her groupies followed her.

Jake was perplexed until Helena and Claire appeared from the girl's room too. He raised a brow to them and Claire just smiled, "We didn't fight – this time, Sherry finally shown Ashley and the others who she really is: a kind and compassionate girl, with some scars of her own."

He looked at the girl in his arms and saw her smile sweetly to him, with tears in her eyes. "I think I'm okay now, Jake – I think we're okay."

Jake buried his head in her hair, "We're more than okay, babe. We're perfect."

Helena and Claire smiled at one another before leaving the lovers alone in their moment. "See you two in the suite for the party then, right?" Claire remembered to ask before she left.

"Which room?" Sherry asked with big eyes.

"1302 and remember, it starts at midnight! …You two don't have a curfew do you?"

Jake looked curiously at Sherry and she smiled, "I'll call my papa and see if I can stay for the party."

Claire winked at them before wrapping her arm around Helena's waist to pull her over to Steve and Piers. Jake directed his attention back to Sherry and cupped her pretty face in his hands, "Sherry… how about we –"

"Hey Jake, Sherry," Quint interrupted seeming to loom from nowhere. Sherry smiled kindly to her friend but Jake offered a hard glare, "Eh sorry, Jake… I just wanted to tell Sherry something…"

"Hurry up…" Jake grumbled irritably and Sherry smacked his arm lightly. He just wanted a moment alone with her. Now that Ashley was out of the way and Jessica was completely doing her own thing – he just wanted to indulge in everything that was Sherry now.

Quint looked at Sherry with a big grin. "I'm proud of you, Sherry. You finally realized that running from trouble solves nothing."

Sherry simpered, "Yeah, I just hate that I had to deal with things the way I did but –"

"Don't worry about the past anymore. The future's all that matters!"

Jake stiffened with agitation when Sherry hugged Quint, thanking him for everything – being her friend and believing in her despite their many differences. "Heh, you're the one I should thank! You kicked my butt into gear with school work! And… you gave me the confidence to ask Jessica out!" he pointed to her but was dismayed when he saw Keith making moves on her.

The techno loving male sprang away from Sherry and Jake to race over to his friend and the crush who wanted him to disappear. Jake had an amused smirk on his face and Sherry just giggled at her friend's antic. "Well, it's 9:45 pm, wanna go call your dad?" Jake asked, checking his watch.

Sherry nodded, looping arms with him. "Mind if we go to the top floor? I might be able to get better reception there."

"Lead the way."

Jake allowed her to lead him out of the ballroom and into the corridor nearby. They were free to lurk the hotel as they pleased and even pay for a room if they wanted. As they proceeded through the many corridors, Jake noticed a lot of other students looming through the halls.

"What is it about prom that makes everyone leave the dance to do whatever they want?" Jake mused with a smirk.

Sherry giggled too, "I think we more or less like showing off how good we look more than enjoying the prom itself." she replied, "Either way this is a very special day…"

Jake hummed in agreement and followed her into an elevator. She punched in for them to be taken to 13th floor. As they slowly ascended, Jake stared at her with multiple scenarios running through his mind – most were not of the purest form.

Her lips looked so pretty he just wanted to kiss them… Damn, it's hot in here. He unbuttoned his jacket and removed it and then the vest underneath followed. Screw all this clean-cut shit – It's not my style anyway. "Hold this would ya?" he requested to Sherry, holding out the boutonnière.

He then proceeded to remove the tie around his neck and unfasten the buttons there all the way down to his chest. Finally, I can breathe again… He sighed and leaned his head back against the wall of the elevator. "Sorry about that, it's just too hot in here." he chuckled, closing his eyes.

She was too quiet. He inclined his head to observe her and was flattered to find her ogling him – her watery eyes traveled over every inch of his upper torso and she was starting to bite her lip. "Super girl?" he definitely startled her, "Are you okay?" he smirked handsomely to further frustrate her.

"U-Um, I'm fine – why do you ask?" she replied with her gaze darting everywhere but to him.

The elevator came to a stop on the 13th floor and the two stepped out into the corridor. The hotel looked the same on every floor – bright lights on the ceiling, brown doors, carpet weaved in gold designs, and solid eggshell colored walls.

They found the door to the rooftop and ascended the staircase until they arrived at their destination. The two walked over to the balcony where they could see the beautiful view of Raccoon city's night lights. Jake sighed contently when the gentle breeze fluttered around him and he glanced at Sherry. Her watery eyes were bright with fascination – no doubt from the scenery. He wound his arm around her waist and pulled her flush against him.

"Can I see your phone Jake? Mine is dead…"

Jake chuckled and offered her his phone. He listened quietly as she called her dad and asked for permission to attend the party. Her father finally conceded and she assured him she would be returning home with Jake in the limo before 2 am. Once she hung up, Jake kissed her temple and she sighed, hugging him closely. "Jake… I can hear the music from all the way up here, can't you?"

He hummed, "Yeah…" He buried his face into her hair and starting to hum along to the song. There weren't any lyrics to it, it was obviously an instrumental of sorts and he was familiar with it but not the songs title.

"Jake…" she started, "I had no idea you could sing…"

He chuckled, "Yeah, it's not something I do often, ya know?" he said gazing into her eyes.

"But you have a beautiful voice… like a soft sultry." she said coyly.

That really stroked his ego. "Heh, thanks babe – though I usually only sing around my mom… it's not bad singing to you I guess." he humored but felt a sour feeling in his gut upon mentioning his mother.

She had returned to see him off for prom but she would be leaving by the next morning. It was pretty difficult to deal with his family drama while trying to focus on school – but Sherry made things so much easier for him to bear. Even though his parents were…

"Jake… what's wrong?" she asked him suddenly with concern on her lovely features.

He really dreaded this but it was about time he shared with someone, "My uh… parents are getting ready to separate…" he heard Sherry's gasp and sighed, "They've been considering it for a long time – ever since I was little. But they stuck it out for me and now that I'm 18, they're ready to split. My mom told me that they never really loved each other so this is easier for them than it is for me… but she claims she doesn't intend to make things difficult for me." he scoffed, "Too late for that."

"Jake, I'm so sorry…" Sherry whispered tenderly, hugging him tightly. "I'm so sorry…"

"You've done nothing wrong, babe. Don't apologize." he told her while returning the embrace. "I'll be fine… I'm sorry for bringing this up – seems like I killed the mood huh?"

"No Jake, you've always been strong… there's nothing wrong with having your moment of weakness." she responded with her face buried in his nape. "Jake, I'm here for you. If you ever need anything - anything at all, just tell me. I'll always be here for you."

"I know, Sherry… I never want to split with you again. I know we can't control what happens in the future but as long as we give our all for each other… I think we'll be fine. I don't want to end up like my parents – I want to be with the girl I love for the rest of my life… and the girl I love is you, Sherry."

"I love you too, Jake…"

His eyes slowly came to a close and he inhaled her garden-like essence, "Let's do what we can to stay together. We don't have to make any promises this time because we're old enough to understand what we can and can't do. We can't guarantee this will be an easy road but – let's give it our all, okay babe?"

Sherry smiled sweetly and nodded, "Absolutely… so, what's your plan? You know, since we graduate next week…"

"Well, I'm staying here in Raccoon with my dad for college… I got a basketball scholarship so I'm majoring in that." he humored lightly. "You?"

"I'm staying here too." he noticed the sigh of relief from her and that gave him solace as well. "I'm majoring in biology. I tutored it so much that I've grown very fond of it."

"I thought you would have decided to major in botany or something… what happened?"

Sherry sighed, "I grew up."


Jake knew very well what she meant. She still loved flowers but he understood that her passion for flowers may have just been a little child dream and as she grew up, she discovered a love for more than that. He understood her very well, much like him and his adventurous, climbing ways – he had grown fond of sports, particularly basketball because he was able to maintain his need to be active.

"Isn't it beautiful, Jake?"

He assumed she was speaking about the night scenery and chuckled agreeing with her, "Yeah, it really is."

"Jake… I noticed something about us…" she said suddenly. "We cling to the past as if we're forever stuck to it – trapped in memories from our childhood romance… But Jake, you and I are together now – we have a new romance, and it's better than what we had in the past."

Jake smiled warmly and kissed her hair, "I know. We 'get' each other now, we don't have worry about anything because now we both understand how we feel. We'll never forget what happened in the past but… do you think we could let this run it's course and see what happens? Let's just… be together."

"I'd like that." Sherry purred, kissing his cheek.

He peered out to the city with her in his arms, "Sherry… When we were young, we made a promise that no matter what happened – our bond would stand the tests of time… From that day on, you and I would be together… even beyond the garden."

Sherry looked at him with a simper. "That's right because even though the garden was where it all began, there's so much about one another that we have yet to learn and not only that – we've got a whole new world out there to explore… and we'll do it together."

"Exactly, because after all – the one thing we both wanted, we got it. I'm here for you every day, and you're my girl – let's make sure it stays that way." he smirked.

"That's all I've ever really wanted." She said wrapping her arms around his neck. "So… now that we're an item… what do you say we go see who wins prom king and queen?" she giggled.

"Sounds fun… but first –"

Their lips met and at that moment, all the memories of their encounters in the garden and among the apple trees flashed through their minds like a movie. Every single moment – from catching apples, to running through fields of lavender; they could remember everything.

When they pulled away, all the pain from the past had been let go, scattered into the wind.

They stared out into the city once again. This was their garden now – the world and it's vastness to explore. Even though it was scary, they knew that as long as they had each other – everything would be fine.

You might wonder who won King and Queen for the prom? Well, it certainly wasn't Piers and Helena.

To everyone's shock, the winners were Jessica as prom queen and…

Quint won prom king.

Some would call it a match in heaven but others demanded a recount.

In time, everyone grows up. These memoirs are not meant to trap Jake and Sherry to their past, they are meant to serve as reminders of the road that's been traveled. One day, they will look back on their mistakes, their mishaps, and many other things and realize – what once ruined their lives actually did serve a purpose for them. It made them stronger, wiser and helped their love to truly blossom.

So where do Jake and Sherry go from here? Well, their future is in their own hands and it's up to them to shape it in a way that feels best for them.


I hope you all enjoyed this fic! If there's any confusion feel free to let me know and I'll respond. Btw, the theme behind this fic is "Remembering the past but never letting it control your future". I kind of left this ending ambigious because they're graduating high school and well let's be honest - even graduates have a lot to learn about the world so there's really no telling where they could end up. I think it fits because at the beginning when they first met, they made promises and it ended up changing their perspective of the world because they were so young. Well, they're still young so... only time will tell. XD

Thanks for all the favs, alerts, reviews and feedback! I appreciate it so much! :D

My next fic will be posted in the next few days. Thanks again for everything you guys/girls and I'll be seeing you soon!