Chapter 1

I had a smile plastered on my face as the newest batch of students filed through the door. Their deer-in-the-headlights look never ceased to amaze me. I wasn't a scary guy, not even close to it, and I never knew why people gave me this look. I softened the smile, and it seemed to help. The stress of the first day of school wasn't alleviated though.

As the bell rang signaling the beginning of class, I got up from my chair. In my left hand was a stack of papers, in my right, a marker. Heated stares followed me as I walked to the board. I turned around suddenly, only a few feet from the board, and flashed the best smile I could. Most of them had their eyes locked on the papers in my hand; it was a big stack, but nothing to get anxious about. To somewhat relieve the stress, I passed out the papers.

When I was done, I walked slowly back to the front of the room, and wrote my name on the board.

"Coach Williamson," I said, and made eye contact with the person who looked up first. "I'm your health teacher, and the paper I just handed you is your syllabus. Keep them, because you'll need them for notebook checks." A mixed reaction went through the room, "So that means you'll also need a notebook."

I paused, letting the information sink into their freshmen heads. Only three people seemed to be completely at ease. They looked older than the others in the room did, so I figured they either had failed or just haven't taken the class yet. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I pointed to the most attentive of the three. Her long black hair was wavy and covered the majority of her face. From the part of her face that wasn't covered by her hair, I could see one eye that was the most stunning shade of blue I'd ever seen. They were focused on me, giving me the feeling that I was being examined. She wasn't just looking at me, she was looking through me. Surely I wasn't that transparent though.

"What's your name?" In a swift movement, she pushed back her hair, and exposing her other eye. I felt doubly examined now.

"Lana." She said firmly. Her eyes held mine, and I finally had to shift my eyes away.

"What grade are you in?" I said awkwardly. It wasn't like me to feel insecure, but the intensity of her gaze startled me. A smile settled across her face, and the scrutiny in her eyes disappeared. I relaxed.

"I'm a senior, and before you ask, no I've never taken this class before. I nodded, and motioned over to one of her friends. One was a mousy girl with long brown hair, and her eyes matched the color perfectly. They lacked the depth and intensity of Lana's. The other, a boy, was grinning stupidly. He looked like he had been through this before.

"Good." I replied and turned away from Lana, "You?" My finger was pointed at the other girl. "What's your name?"

"Becca," she said, her voice as light as her eyes. I pointed to the guy sitting next to her.

"And you?" He instantly stood up, and bowed. I rolled my eyes, he liked attention.

"Ryan and you?" His voice was booming, like that of an on stage actor. I ignored his question because the answer was written on the board.

Ryan emitted a noise when I didn't answer. I didn't feel like playing around, so I walked back to my desk. It was just luck that put the three of them beside me. The heated stares from earlier followed me back, and settled as I sat down. it was truly shocking to me that the majority of the stares were female. Surely they didn't find me attractive.

It was just a statement of fact. I wasn't attractive. I felt that my nose was too large, and my other facial features too small. My eyes were in my opinion my best feature. Other than that, the only other thing I truly liked about myself was my physical condition. I was in shape. Even at my age, a mere twenty-five, I was involved in many sports. I pulled away from my self-analysis when I heard someone calling my name.

"Coach Wil-liam-son!" The butchered sound was coming from my left. the voice was familiar and it didn't take long to place it. Ryan was standing in front of my desk. I tried to ignore him, but it did not work.

"What, Ryan?" I tried to sound annoyed, but somehow it came out normally.

"Who's this?" He had one of my pictures in his hands. It was the one of my dog, Rocky. It still eluded me as to how, even though I had only worked here for one day, I had pictures of my dog on my desk and not one of my girlfriend. I made a mental note to grab a picture in the morning.

"My dog." I replied. Ryan rolled his eyes theatrically. I tried to ignore it, but it tweaked a nerve. "Don't ask stupid questions if you don't want a stupid answer." I said. My response elicited a laugh from Lana and Becca.

Ryan smirked and walked back to his desk. Becca's gaze lingered on me longer than it should have, and it made me a little uncomfortable. I wasn't used to this kind of attention from eighteen-year-olds. I heard a whisper one of the 'freshies' in the room. The subject matter, me, caught me off guard. They really did find me attractive. I tried to block it out, but the attention was hard to ignore.

"Ommigawd!" One shrieked, she was sitting in the front.

"I know!" Her accomplice whispered excitedly.

I wondered how I had heard this conversation so clearly. How did I know it was about me exactly? There was an unshakable certainty in me. It made me slightly uneasy, but flattered me at the same time. Who would have thought that I, eleven years their senior, would still be attractive to them? I could see how maybe, just maybe, they would find the fresh-out-of-college-still-ready-to-party guy attractive, but I was washed out, taken, not available. Too safe. The thought entertained me for a while. Jason Williamson actually being hot? The idea was laughable, totally laughable. I still had no idea why Rachel had to flaunt me in public like I was some sort of trophy to be proud of. That was hardly the case. I actually pitied her.

It took me a little while of smiling stupidly to realize everyone was staring at me. I tried to cover up the stupid smile with a charming one, but I know the effort failed miserably. The amused looks on the students faces faded, replaced by annoyed ones. I downshifted my eyes. When the bell rang, this time signaling the end of class, I was relieved. Not just because it was lunch, either.

I walked into the hall, and retreated into my own world. I couldn't exactly shy away from the looks I was getting, because as unlikely as it was, I, Jason Williamson, was the sex symbol of the school. Once again, the thought was laughable. Rachel would laugh along with me, I was sure. I arrived at my given lunch area in the lunch room and sat down.

Like it was engrained in them, the other teachers gave me lukewarm greetings. They looked like they were searching for words but couldn't find them. I noticed one was staring at my chest and realized I didn't have my nametag on. I smiled awkwardly.

"Jason." I said, and extended my hand. My name seemed to satisfy the curiosity, and they finally had genuine smiles on their faces.

"Mike." One of my co-workers said. He didn't extend his hand to mine, so I dropped my arm to my side stupidly.

I sat down and got settled. My lunch was on the table, and I was about to start eating, and all of a sudden the friendliness at the table disappeared. Hostility replaced it. It seemed as though I had broken into a place I wasn't wanted. I figured it was a sort of twisted tradition, shun the new teachers like they're freshmen as well.

I sighed heavily. It didn't catch anyone's attention, and I had come to the realization that working in a high school had the same social order as going to high school. I was one of the freshmen as a new teacher, and the people I was sitting with were the envied seniors. I hadn't liked this when I was in high school, even though I had been at the top of this social order as quarterback of my football team. I tried to have a variety of friends. The cheerleaders that fawned over me to try to up their status, and embrace mine irritated me. Because of this, I normally went for the quieter type. The type that had no interest in me. I finished eating as the bell rang, and the thought was done being entertained. I was relieved to know that my next class of the day was the last. It was the only time I was happy to get off work.

I was surprised when I got back to my room. My eyes were adjusting to the clean white brick of the room as opposed to the blue and silver of the halls. The students in this class were totally at ease, but still had the nervous anticipation of freshmen. They all had the same question written in their eyes: who is he? The answer to that question was still written in bright red marker. The class was smooth sailing, and I was finally happy to get off work. I beat after school traffic by a couple minutes, and managed to beat Rachel home.

With the extra five to ten minutes I had, I managed to get the dog fed. When Rachel walked through the door, I was shocked. Instead of being her normal energetic self, she seemed frustrated, sad. There could have been plenty of reasons for this, but the one she told me was completely unexpected.

"I got fired." She said slowly while raking her fingers through her hair. I could do nothing more than stare back at her stupidly. After a couple death glares, I managed to choke out one single word.

"What?" I stammered.

"I don't know what to do, Jay, I've never been...fired." She spat out the last word out and walked over towards me. It was also wasn't like her to depend on someone, so naturally, I opened my arms for her. I was glad that, for at least one time in our relationship, I was her rock instead of the other way around. I felt her arms snake around my waist, and she rested her head on my shoulder. She immediately started talking again.

"Jay, I can't go without a job. No one is going to want to hire me now. That looks so bad on a resume!" She paused to take a breath, and then continued, "I'm not gonna be able to pay bills Jason!"

I pulled her in closer in an attempt to get her to calm down. "Rae," I said softly, "It's gonna be all right, you'll find a new job."

She shook her head. "No one is going to want to hire me."

I couldn't help but smile. "Rae, what happened?" She sighed and buried her head deeper into my chest. I held her tighter, but she didn't say anything. "Rae?" I probed.

"Please don't worry about it."

I was taken aback by her answer, but let it go. She was rattled enough without me probing her.

"Rae, you'll be okay, I promise." She nodded her head feebly.

"Yeah." She pulled free of me, and walked up towards the bedroom. I followed her, and laid down on the bed beside her. It was only five, but it seemed natural.

"You'll be okay." I said again. She nodded and pulled me closer to her. I enclosed her in my arms again, glad that for once in our two year relationship she was actually going to let me comfort her.


So, I decided to play around with Jason's POV a little bit, and I hope it worked out.. let me know.. Review!