It's Not As Bad As It Sounds
Jessica looked at them as if they’d lost their minds. She just couldn’t wrap her mind around what they were telling her. She waited for someone to break down and start laughing and berating her for even considering such a story, but they all looked deadly serious.
“There’s got to be some sort of explanation, people don’t just up and start glowing and heal themselves,” Jessica near screamed.
Oz smirked and gave her a hand up. “You did,” was all he said.
“Yeah and I’ve seen some crazy shit tonight, so what’s one more,” Scott proclaimed. “I’m just glad you’re alright Jess.”
Jessica started to say something but a fuming Snyder interrupted her as he burst into the library followed by a well-armed police force.
“Ha, I’ve got you delinquents now, destruction of school property, kidnapping and murder. “I saw you drag that dead girl in here,” Serves her right for canoodling with the likes of you bunch,” he said all this while not taking his eyes off Buffy.
Buffy was too distraught to respond to the accusations while Xander mouthed the word canoodaling to Willow with a question mark on his smirking face.
“That’s not what happened at all,” Jessica pushed passed the Scooby gang and placed herself between them and a now floored Snyder. These people saved my life from that gang that kidnapped me, If it weren’t for them I would be dead, but as you all can see I’m not,” She said, fuming at Snyder as he stood there looking foolish.
Giles took the police aside and told them a less supernatural version of what happened and that the gang had run off but moments ago. He suggested that they must have seen or heard the police coming and then fled the scene.
Principal Flutie ran into the library and hugged Jessica fiercely, ignoring the questioning looks of all around him.
“Jessica, I was worried sick for you, I thought for sure I had lost another one of my students.”
“I’m alright Principal Flutie, Thanks to Buffy and company,” Jessica smiled at Buffy, but the slayer still avoided her gaze.
“Oh that’s excellent, I don’t know what I would have done if I had lost my new mascot Hornsby,” Flutie beamed and then went green when he realized that he had just let Jessica’s secret out of the bag.
Xander nearly fell over laughing. “Oh I can’t wait to see that outfit.”
Cordelia Chase narrowed her eyes. She couldn’t believe how close she’d come to making Jessica an honorary Cordette. Then she remembered the moves the girl had during practice and thought she could do worse than the talented mascot, especially if she took Jessica under her wing. A plan for nationals cemented itself within her brain and her frown slowly turned into a predatory smirk, all thoughts of hell mouthy things gone from her head as she schemed.
Jessica’s world was all a whirl for the next few days. First, her father had all but packed their bags to move them out of this hellish town but Principal Flutie promised him as well as the other parents that he would hire some major security for the school. Her dad had pulled out several cards of colleagues and acquaintances that handled security for major events but were now retired and looking for freelance work. In addition, she knew her father had fallen for Joyce Summers hard, he wouldn’t admit that to her but he had and he wouldn’t force her to choose if she wanted to chance a long distance relationship. If not for those major factors Jessica knew she would be kissing her friends goodbye, well Willow and Xander that is. Buffy wouldn’t even stay in the same room with her let alone talk to her unless she was forced to. Jessica couldn’t blame her though, she’d lost her life trying to rescue her and Xander had to revive her.
That thought gave her pause as the tears formed in the corners of her eyes. She blinked them back before they could fall. She knew beyond any doubt that Buffy must hate her. She would bide her time and give Buffy some much-needed space and then maybe their friendship could heal over time. She looked up and noticed Buffy coming toward her through the crowd. Her heart began to soar; maybe just maybe…, Buffy looked at her with sadness and turned quickly and all but ran the other way. Jessica would have laughed if it didn’t hurt so damn much. “Exit stage left. Right out of my life,” this time Jessica couldn’t stop the tears from falling.
Oh well, It’s not as if she didn’t have a lot on her plate to begin with. The dreaded dinner with Jonathan parents was still on, oh joy. She had her mascot duties and the school dance that was postponed for a week.
The principal downright refused to cancel it in spite of Snyder’s disapproval. “School moral must be kept up!” Flutie yelled gleefully down the hall as Snyder scowled. Snyder rolled his eyes and stormed off wishing to himself that the fool had been eaten so he could oversee the school.
To everyone’s surprise, the week went rather quickly and the dance was upon them. The dinner with Jonathan’s parents had been an utter disaster. It was obvious that his mother didn’t approve of his choice in girlfriends, even going as far as mentioning that nice Jewish girl Jonathan had crushed on in kindergarten. Jessica had almost snorted out her food in laughter, gaining an evil look from his mother and a few particles of food up her nose through way of her mouth. Gross!
After that, Jonathan seemed sad and distant. She knew he wanted to tell her something but was too afraid to. He tried to hide behind all the excitement of the dance but Jessica saw through the façade and tried to call him on it. He somewhat gave in and told her it would be best if they discussed things after the dance. Jessica sighed but agreed; she needed a bit of happy before more bad news came her way. With her father coming to the school every chance he got, Buffy avoiding her like the plague and Cordelia looking at her as though she were a piece of meat to be tenderized and seasoned she had had just about enough of this shit of a week.
Tears welled up in the corners of Joseph Cine’s eyes, his daughter stood there in her beautiful blue dress looking like an ebony princess. She rolled her eyes and smirked.
“Dad get a grip, it’s only a dance you’re not walking me down the aisle to meet my soon to be husband,” Jessica laughed.
Joseph eyes went wide and he began to sweat, ‘did she know?’ he thought to himself. Then he shook it off and smiled back at his little girl and hugged her tight. She couldn’t know, not yet at least.
“We better get going Jess; we still have to pick up Willow and Xander. I still don’t understand why Buffy’s not riding with us, are you two fighting,” Joseph asked.
Jessica sighed to herself and lied. “No we’re not. She’s going with her date.”
He nodded then handed her keys. She grinned from ear to ear and ran and jumped into the driver seat of her dads 97 candy apple red Chevy Blazer. She’d gotten her learners permit a bit early and her dad had promised she could drive to the dance. On the way to the dance after picking up Willow, Xander, and an embarrassed Jonathan, they ran into Buffy walking to the dance. Joseph had made her follow her after she refused to get into the car until she finally gave in and jumped in. He smiled as he looked at her pouting in the back seat, there was no way he was letting her walk and she should have known that. He would ask Joyce what was going on with them later.
When they made it to the school Joseph made the girls stand in front of the school for a picture. All three of them sighed but posed for the picture. Joseph bid them farewell as they went into the school.
The dance was a blast; even Buffy was having a good time dancing with Scott. Jessica smiled at that as she danced with Jonathan, she was glad Buffy was having fun. She looked around and all of her friends were having the time of their lives. Larry was dancing with one Cordelia Chase or rather he was dancing and she was standing there scowling at him. Jessica laughed and thought he may have a better chance with Scott than the ice queen.
She continued to scan the room and smiled again when she noticed Xander had sidled up to Willow and was dancing with her. The smile left when she noticed Oz playing with his band, he was the only one not smiling. In fact, he had quite the angry glare and it was aimed at…, she followed his line of sight right back to Willow and Xander? Jessica’s eyebrow rose slightly.
“Interesting,” Jessica said as she thought there might be a slight crush afoot.
“What’s Interesting?” Jonathan asked, gaining Jessica’s attention.
She smiled and came closer to him as they danced. “Nothing, I was just enjoying this moment with you and my friends.”
Jonathan tried to smile but it looked quite labored and didn’t reach his eyes. Jessica made up in her mind to get what was bothering him out so they could continue to enjoy the dance without the doom and gloom hanging over their heads.
“Jonathan please tell me what’s bothering you,” Jessica pleaded.
Jonathan became frantic and began to shake his head. He looked into her eyes and melted at the hurt look in them. “Alright Jesse, I guess now is as good a time as any to tell you,” the tears that formed in his eyes made her heart clench. He took her hand and led her out of the dance so they could talk in private.
They stood out in the school hall for several minutes of deafening silence before Jonathan began to explain what was wrong.
“Jessica…,” he began to choke up as his tears fell. “My mom is sending me away.”
Jessica’s eyes widened in shock. “What? Why? Where are you going? Are you coming back?”
Jonathan hugged her as her voice pitch heightened with each question. “I’m sorry Jess, but my mom feels military school would better serve my needs and starting next term I will be enrolled,” Jonathan tightened her hold as she began to shake.
“Is it because of me? Because she didn’t approve of me?” her voice wavered as she spoke.
Jonathan didn’t know how to answer, it would be a lie if he told her no and yes would devastate her. So he said nothing just held her as she quietly sobbed in his arms.
Thirty minutes had passed before they rejoined their classmates again. To their relief Oz’s band played a slow song, so they held each other and danced, ignoring everyone around them as they both cried.
Jessica wiped her tears and tore herself away from Jonathan as the slow song died away. It was time to introduce the surprise band that her father had called in a favor for. She should be excited right now but all she felt was a hollow in the pit of her stomach as she looked at all of her eager classmates.
She steeled herself and straightened her spine before she began to speak. “Ladies and gentleman,” she spoke in a loud and vibrant voice that belied what she felt inside. “I would like to introduce one of my favorite up and coming bands…,” she paused for effect as she looked at the crowd as they waited with anticipation. “From Tallahassee Florida- CREED!”
The crowd went wild as the band of four flowed unto the stage. Everyone was on the dance floor as the band began to play What’s This Life For. As the cords ran through Jessica’s very being she glanced across the room to Jonathan. He stood there looking back neither one making an effort to come closer to one another as the band sang.
Hurray for a child
That makes it through
If there's any way
Because the answer lies in you
They're laid to rest
Before they've known just what to do
Their souls are lost
Because they could never find
What's this life for
The tears fell from their eyes as people danced between them making the distance seem so much farther than it actually was. Each tasted the bitterness of the end of something that hadn’t had the chance to blossom between them, something that didn’t get to breathe or grow. They stood there morning what didn’t have the chance to just become.
I see your soul, it's kind of gray
You see my heart, you look away
You see my wrist, I know your pain
I know your purpose on your plane
Don't say a last prayer
Because you could never find
What's this life for
They slowly began to close the distance between them. The two of them paused every so often to sidestep the couples dancing with one another. Never letting their gaze slip from the other, their trek seemed like an eternity but neither cared because they both knew their final destination.
But they ain't here anymore
Don't have to settle the score
Cause we all live
Under the reign of one king
But they ain't here anymore,
Don't have to settle no Goddamn score
'Cause we all live under the reign,
I said, you know, of
Jessica took a deep breath as her emotions tried to get the better of her, she looked at Jonathan and could tell he was having the same problem. Her heart began to sink as she thought on losing her first… love? Was he that to her? Was she that to him? It could have been.
But they ain't here anymore,
Don't have to settle no Goddamn score
'Cause we all live under the reign
I said, you know, of
But they ain't here anymore,
Don't have to settle no Goddamn score
Cause we all live under the reign
Of one king
By the time they reached each other the song was finished but that didn’t stop them from embracing and dancing well into the end of the next two songs.
After a weekend of crying Jessica spent half of the last day of school avoiding Cordelia chase and her incessant babbling about nationals. The other half she spent trying to talk to Buffy, she was losing Jonathan she’d be damned if she lost Buffy to. To her great displeasure, the slayer was very good at hiding and avoiding. So Jessica decided to ambush her in her favorite place, the library.
Jessica skipped her last class of the day, which was home economics so she could stow away in the library without Giles knowing and wait for Buffy.
She smiled as she entered the library and Giles was stowed away in his office talking on the phone. She snuck pass him and hid between the stacks and waited. Forty-five minutes later Buffy shuffled in and sat at the table waiting for Giles to come out of his office.
Jessica discreetly got up and slowly walked out of the stacks toward Buffy. As she started to tap Buffy on the shoulder, she visibly stiffened and grabbed Jessica by the arm and threw her over her shoulder and onto the table hard.
Giles came running out of his office to see a very shocked and in pain Jessica sprawled out on the library table with an angry slayer at her throat.
“Buffy what are you doing?” Giles scrambled to rescue Jessica.
Buffy’s eyes widened when she realized what she’d done and let go of Jessica like she was a hot coal. Jessica rolled herself off the table rubbing at her neck.
“It’s okay Giles, I should know better than to sneak up on a slayer that was my stupidity at work there,” she smiled at Buffy hoping it would be reciprocated.
Buffy looked away and started to walk out, not wanting any part of the conversation she knew was coming.
“Buffy I’m your friend please talk to me, I’m sorry I got you killed. Please forgive me,” Jessica cried out.
Buffy stiffened to the point you could almost see the knots in her neck. She closed her eyes and willed herself not to soften to Jessica’s pleas. Giles slowly and quietly went back into his office and closed the door, this was not a job for the watcher and he was thankful for that.
“Jessica, I’ve decided that I don’t need any more friends. They just get in the way or get themselves killed so what I have is enough,” Buffy crossed her arms trying to be stern and strong as Jessica stood before her crying.
“Buffy I…,” Buffy cut her off
“No Jessica!” Buffy yelled. “No more friends.”
Jessica stood there for a moment trying to think of something to say to persuade Buffy but her mind seem to shut down at the thought of losing the friends she made here. She finally ran out of the library as Buffy visibly relaxed and tears flowed from her eyes.
“That was a bit harsh don’t you think Buffy,” Giles stood at his office door gazing at Buffy as she turned her back to him.
“It’s for the best,” Buffy said, feeling neither confident nor good about her decision.
Jessica got home from school and ran upstairs and cried herself to sleep thinking that this was going to be a long and lonely summer. She awakened several hours later to the sound of her father’s voice calling her for dinner. As she freshened up and got out her tear-stained shirt, she heard voices down stairs. She made her way downstairs and into the kitchen, she paused in shock.
There sat Joyce and Buffy Summers sitting at the table waiting, Joyce seemed to be grinning from ear to ear and Buffy was fuming.
She sat down wondering what was going on, she looked to her dad for answers and he just smirked and started to serve dinner.
“Sorry Jessica, I forgot to tell you we were having dinner quest tonight, but you were sound asleep and I didn’t want to wake you,” Jessica nodded and started to scoop up some of the roast beef and mash potatoes and gravy that her dad made as she glanced at Buffy.
Buffy looked at her grimly and said. “Seems I can’t get rid of you huh?”
Jessica swallowed hard and looked away as tears threatened to come again. She didn’t notice the guilty look on Buffy face, sorrow that she’d been so harsh towards her.
As the polite conversation started and the dinner slowly disappeared, the parents noticed the cold silence between the girls and sighed. Joseph and Joyce glanced at one another and made their decision. Maybe a bit of good news would bring the girls closer together.
Joseph cleared his throat and got the girls attention. “Buffy, Jessica, we have something to tell the two of you,” they smiled at each other and then put their attention on the girls.
Both Buffy and Jessica had knots in their stomach at that move.
Two adult hands intertwined together as they prepared to tell their daughters the big news. “Buffy, Jess, we are getting married,” They said in unison.
Jessica’s mouth just dropped open, she wanted to be happy, hell she should be happy. She liked Joyce a lot, but things were complicated and she didn’t want to end up with a stepsister that hated her. She glanced at Buffy and knew that would be the case.
Buffy fumed, it was hard enough trying to protect her mother, expanding the family would be beyond hardship. What was her mother thinking?
Both Buffy and Jessica got up from the table.
“Congratulations, I’m going to bed,” Jessica said at the same time Buffy said.
“I’m going home,” Buffy turned and headed for the front door at the same time Jessica went upstairs to her bedroom.
Both parents sat at the dinner table dumbfounded. “That’s not how I expected that to go.”
Creed is an American rock band, formed in 1995 in Tallahassee, Florida. The band consists of lead vocalist Scott Stapp, guitarist and vocalist Mark Tremonti, bassist Brian Marshall and drummer Scott Phillips. Creed released two studio albums, My Own Prison in 1997 and Human Clay in 1999,
Coming soon Summer's Hiatus.