Chapter Seven

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Jack didn't know what to do.

This didn't happen to him often. He was a determined guy. He usually set goals and stuck to them.

With Allie, his actions were best described as wish-washy.

One day he was in it to win it, the next he was out.

And "win" what exactly? Her heart? Her body? Her friendship? Each of those things sounded outlandish to Jack. He didn't really want any of them.

You see, Jack didn't like Allie, per se. She amused him, yes, but many things amused him. He was amused when his mother drank too much alcohol, but that didn't mean he liked it. And just because he was amused by Allie, it didn't mean he liked her either.

He had said "game on" a few days prior to the challenge Allie presented him, but he just as quickly took it back. His newfound friendships with Sam, Brady, and the like made him rethink the challenge Allie presented to him. It wasn't as if his new friends would alienate him if he continued to pursue some sort of pseudo-friendship with Allie. He simply just liked them better.

Sam, at first, had just been a hot body, a pretty face. He soon discovered she was funny, a bit crazy, and had an unhealthy obsession with The Office, one of his favorite television shows. She quoted it on a daily basis and even her MSN name was a tribute to the show. Despite what he said to Allie about a date a few days earlier, he had crossed her off the list of possible hookups in the town. Sure, she was probably the most attractive girl he had come across so far, and maybe the most he ever would, but she held too much possibility as a friend. He didn't want to screw things up with the closest thing he had to one here, and dating her would do just that.

And Brady Collins was Sam's best friend. He was a fun and overall chill guy. He played basketball and had already introduced Jack to some of the guys.

He didn't know Sam, Brady, or the guys very well, but he wanted to get to know them better.

And at lunch the day before, he had been invited to go to the local diner with their group of friends after school this afternoon. Brady mentioned the guys stopped by the court afterwards and played a game or two. He had told Jack the day before to make sure he brought his gym bag.

Right now, the gym bag was at his feet, and he stood in front of his locker. The final bell had rung about two minutes ago and he now had about two second to make up his mind.

Should he go with Sam, Brady, and the others?

Or should he stay behind with Allie and his coil pot?

He knew what he should have done. He should have told Allie he already had plans when she made her offer. Maybe she would have rescheduled. His coil pot did need his attention desperately. And there was always tomorrow…

But even as he thought this, he knew that she wouldn't have rescheduled. She would have closed off and retreated into her shell even more. He'd been so shocked when she suggested it that he froze up completely. He forgot all about his invitation to the diner. He even forgot how to speak once he took it all in, what she was offering. This was why he couldn't even give Allie a straight up answer as to whether or not he'd be there.

Jack felt a hand pat his shoulder.

"Hey buddy, you coming?"

It was Brady. He was a tall and extremely skinny guy with a head full of dark curls. If it wasn't for his height, Jack would have been surprised to hear that he played basketball – or any sport, really.

"Yeah, I'm coming."

And so his decision was made.

He grabbed his bag and followed Brady to the front of the school.

"So, skiing starts in another month or so. Are you as psyched as I am?" Brady asked. He was lugging his own gym back over his shoulder.

Jack was curious why Brady was asking him about skiing. He was from California. He had never been skiing in his life. Hell, he'd never even seen snow.

"I've never skied before," Jack said.

"Snowboard?"

Jack shook his head.

"Shit, well, you'll have to try it. Sam, me, and some of the others try to go up just about every weekend. We usually rotate drivers. Sam said you don't have a car?"

"Nah, my parents sold it before we moved," Jack answered.

"That sucks. Why did you move here, of all places? We don't really get newcomers often, and this place kind of sucks."

Jack shrugged. He agreed with Brady's assessments of the town, but he didn't know if that was one of the things only locals could say. He knew how weird and defensive some people got about their own hometowns.

"My parents threw a dart on a map and this is where it landed." That wasn't the truth exactly, but it was easier to say. Jack sometimes wondered to himself if that is what his parents had actually done.

"Really?" Brady asked. "No way. What are the chances of that?"

Jack grinned. He knew he liked Brady for a reason.

Sam popped in between the two at that moment, before Jack could reply, and wrapped an arm around each of them.

"How are my two favorite boys?" she asked, dimples appearing as she smiled.

"Dude, did you know Jack's parents threw a dart on a map, and that's why they chose this place to live?" Brady asked. He looked a Jack. "If I were you, I would have asked them to re-toss the dart. Imagine where else you could have lived. Like… California. I went to Huntington Beach once on vacation, and it was awesome."

Sam smacked Brady's arm. "I honestly don't know how you get better grades than me. Jack was just kidding and he is from California. I told you this."

"I thought you said Colorado?"

"Where did you get Colorado from?"

"Shit," Brady said, shooting Jack an apologetic look. "I would have never asked you about skiing if I didn't think you were from Colorado."

Jack laughed. He had quickly discovered that Brady was rather slow. He wanted to ask how he remembered Jack didn't have a car, but couldn't remember that he was from California. In the end, Jack figured it was best not to ask. So he simply said, "It's alright. It makes much more sense now."

They started to head in the direction of the parking lot. Jack didn't know whose car they would be taking or where it was so he just followed.

"Jules is going to meet us there. She's riding over with Tony, Spence, and Liz. Is anyone else coming?"

This question was directed at Brady, so Jack let him answer it. "Just the three of us and Mike said he might show up."

Jack heard all these names, but he only could remember who Mike and Spence were. He had two classes Mike and one with Spence.

They finally reached a black jeep Cherokee. Brady pulled out the keys and Sam hesitated for a moment, digging into her purse for something, so Jack took the opportunity to pull open the front door.

"No! Jack, you can't sit there!" Sam exclaimed, running forward and shoving Jack out of the way.

"I got here first?"

"I called shotgun for eternity when Brady got this car in August. Sorry." With that, Sam climbed in and slammed the door behind her.

Jack just stood there for a moment, dumbfounded. He didn't know how long he stood there, it could have only been a matter of seconds, but he stood there until Sam opened the door again.

"Oh my god. Sometimes I run with my mouth and"—

"Don't tell me," Jack started, "How I Met Your Mother is your second favorite TV show?"

Sam's eyes sparkled and Jack knew he was correct.

"It's her third, actually," Brady said as Jack climbed into the backseat. "Ask her what her second is."

Brady had a teasing tone and Jack was curious. "Sam?"

"It's Grey's Anatomy," Sam answered.

She hit Brady on the arm, the second time in the past five minutes alone. Jack didn't mind earlier, but this time Brady was backing out of his parking spot, and he was so skinny that Jack was afraid he'd swerve. But he didn't.

Sam continued, "I don't know why you always bring that up. It's not an embarrassing show to like. It's amazing and"—

"A pretty embarrassing show to like," Jack interrupted. "And just when I thought you were cool."

Sam spun around in her seat. "What is so embarrassing about it? It's got medical mumbo-jumbo, it's got romance, it's got McDreamy"—

"Exactly. Lame." Brady glanced back at Jack with a grin before turning back to focus on his driving. "She doesn't like Lost, either."

Now while Jack liked The Office and How I Met Your Mother both, Lost was his personal favorite.

"How can you like crap like Grey's Anatomy, but not like Lost?"

"It's scary?" Sam offered. "Although Jack is arguably hotter than McDreamy. I like men with sorter hair."

"She's seen, like, five episodes in season one," Brady explained. "And you can't base how you like a TV show by how cute the lead male is. Steve Carell"—

"Don't bring him into this. I know looks aren't everything. I was just saying, I wouldn't mind watching Matthew Fox, but it's scary. I can't even watch Supernatural, and that's got two hotties," Sam said defensively. "And you can't deny that you find Kate and Sharon girl hot."

"Shannon," Brady corrected. "And"—

"You can't call it scary or horrible if you haven't even seen the whole thing. If you watched one episode of season four, you"— Jack started to interrupt, but he was interrupted before he could continue.

"Have you ever watched Grey's Anatomy?"

"No," Jack answered. Then he realized where she was going with that question, but it was too late. At least they were done arguing. Jack might have joined in had it not been for how new he felt to this group.

Sam grinned and rubbed her hands together, excited. "How about this: I'll watch an episode of Lost with you if you watch an episode of Grey's Anatomy with me. I promise to be objective if you are."

"Don't do it, man," Brady warned.

Jack laughed. He actually found Sam's offer tempting. He found himself agreeing, and he was surprised to find that he didn't really mind it. This new environment must be making him loopy.

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Allie didn't go to the ceramics room after school.

Instead, she collected all of her books from the locker and headed for her car. She even sat in her car, started the ignition, and put the car into reverse. This is where she sat for about a good fifteen minutes with her foot on the break, contemplating her options. To leave or not to leave.

She didn't know what did it. What possessed her to agree to meet with Jack after school, to actually help him out?

It may have been because he was the first person to talk to her. To actually talk to her, not look through her or past her. The first person to actually ask for her help. At least since everything happened had…

But she wouldn't allow that to happen. She couldn't open up to someone. She wouldn't open up to someone, especially not to someone like him. Jack Harding.

Just thinking his name alone was enough to make her shudder.

Allie didn't know what caused her to do what she did next, but she did it anyway, even though it was against everything she knew. Everything she stood for.

She put the car into park. She then quickly switched it back to reverse and let her foot off the break. Her old car sputtered as she quickly reversed out of her parking spot, and into the lot.

"Fuck," Allie muttered under her breath, as she dogged a couple of bystanders.

She wanted to laugh by how freaked out they were, especially when they saw that she was the one behind the wheel, but she couldn't. She was too freaked out herself.

"Did you actually offer to help someone out? Did you actually offer to help Jack Harding of all people out?" Allie continued to mutter as she pulled out onto the street.

Realizing she was talking to herself, she let out a bitter laugh. "Maybe I should have pleaded insanity."

And perhaps she should have, especially considering what she did next.

At the next corner, she turned around and headed back to the school.

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Author's Note:

I'm so sorry this update took me so long, but I believe this is the longest chapter I've written so far, if that makes up for it at all. I actually really like this chapter, but I'm afraid you guys will hate me (and Jack) for it, especially with the semi-cliffhanger ending. The first part is probably the most lighthearted this story has ever been, thanks to Jack, Sam, and Brady, but it's hard to keep up a dark/mysterious tone in Jack's storyline because he's not really a dark/mysterious person.

And you'll probably ask why Jack is much more subdued with Sam and Brady, not as cocky. Simply, Allie brings out that side in him. He tends to use it as his shield, much like Allie uses her sarcasm. Not to say that Jack isn't cocky, but I guess you could just say they both put each other on the defensive. :)

I apologize for the long TV discussion/references, but I'm afraid it's a product of being sick and spending too much time watching TV this past week. I will probably cut it out later and replace it with something more substantial, but for now it stays. And I watch all of those shows, including Grey's Anatomy, so I don't mean to insult it or anyone who watches it. Otherwise, I would be making fun of myself. :)

Also, I've been thinking things over and I may rewrite this story. I'm not sure whether it will be a full extensive rewrite or just the first couple of chapters. I have already rewritten the first chapter, but I'm still working on it, so I don't know yet. Thoughts?

I don't want to make this the longest author's note ever, so I explain why extensively in my livejournal as well as what the rewrite may entail. You can get a link in my profile – it's my homepage – or you can go to www-itstruelovee-livejournal-com. Just replace the hyphens with periods and there you go. :) Also, feel free to friend me if you have a LJ. I may post the chapter there and I'd love second opinions.