(Author's Note: Confession time. I wrote this in high school, so it's definitely a soap opera. But it's really thanks to you wonderful readers, that it's still alive. Really – in the last few months, one of my readers pointed out a lot of grammatical mistakes. And not content with fixing those . . . I kind of rewrote the last part of the story (and a few moments in between). I don't like leaving mistypes, and though I don't have time to do a completely new story, there were some moments that always bothered me that I wanted to change. So thank you to all you reviewers who care about Angela and Jason as much as I do. You inspire.)
And She Kissed Him
The doorbell rang as Angela Fishers put the finishing touches on her petal-pink lip-gloss. Any other Saturday night she would be walking up to a party, hand clasped with another nameless boy, but tonight was different. She lingered by the mirror a moment longer, silently counting to ten, before ambling to the door. She opened it with a flourish, flashing perfect teeth at her first guest of the night.
"Hey Jess." She beamed, adding a few more watts to her smile. "Put your sleeping bag upstairs. The others will be here in just a bit!"
Just a bit extended into thirty minutes, but in the end all twelve cheerleaders arrived, toting luggage and lavender sleeping bags. Who would refuse one of Angela Fishers' invitations? All other plans were tossed aside for the resident queen bee's annual slumber party. In name, it was an attempt for the novice cheerleaders to get to know their captain. But everyone knew its real purpose was for confirming Angela's authority. This year was no different from the last; her subjects were mostly blondes with a sprinkling of brunettes, all with IQs birds would be ashamed of. All were wearing tiny pajamas in various shades of pink that barely covered more skin than their uniforms. Angela found the predictability monotonous.
But she grinned once again as she handed out pizza bites and chips to her giggling teammates. "So, I was thinking The Notebook tonight; what do you think?" The question was mere courtesy; she already new they would acquiesce to her wishes. They always did. So she was already opening the box, when Chelsea Adams cut her off.
"I'm not really in a movie mood right now; how about a game of truth or dare? If you're up for it, of course?"
Two perfect eyebrows lifted. Angela was caught in the awkward position of holding the movie and looking over her shoulder at the challenger. But she recovered easily, arrogantly tossing the movie to the table.
Interesting. Someone wanted to be more than lady-in-waiting. Someone wanted to be queen. Well, she could use the challenge. And completely eviscerating Chelsea Adams from the face of the earth? Well, that was just a bonus. For if the gauntlet was thrown, she knew the rules. No backing down, not ever.
"Oh, that's a great idea Chels! I haven't played truth or dare since middle school!" Chelsea, who had begun cringing at the nickname, began to scowl at the implication.
Angela grinned. Darling, don't you know not to mess with a queen?
0 0 0
In another room, at another house, in, well, another life, Jason Andrews typed furiously into his keyboard. This was his usual Saturday night, alternating between youtube videos and homework. There were no parties, no pizzazz, and, more importantly, no complications. He shook brown hair out of his eyes, and focused again on his computer screen. Two more pages contrasting Macbeth to Hamlet. Only two more pages, and then he could sleep . . .
0 0 0
Despite losing round one, Chelsea was not giving up without a fight. Her subtle jibes permeated the game until she gained enough confidence for another challenge. She turned wide blue eyes to Angela, and asked innocently, "Truth or dare?"
"Dare." All the cheerleaders widened their perfectly shadowed eyes, and opened their too-pink mouths. Their shock invigorated Angela. She loved the game, and she was winning.
"Fine." Taken aback, Chelsea easily recovered. After all, the dare gave her power. "You know that geek who sits in front of you in English. Jarred something?"
"Sort of, I know the back of his head anyway." A couple of titters caused the edges of Angela's lips to twitch upwards. Winning, and still gaining . . .
"I want you to kiss him tomorrow - in front of everyone."
What? Stripping, embarrassing displays, everything was recoverable. There would be a few days of mockery, but her image would survive. But kissing Jason Andrews? The gossip wouldn't die in just a week, or just a month. They would be linked irrevocably. Her smile faltered, and round four went to Chelsea.
But she couldn't lose. No backing down, not ever. "Fine."
"Oh and Angela. Let's make this more interesting. After all, a captain should keep her commitments. It's important to team spirit and all. If you chicken out, Angie, you turn your captainship over to me."
Angela cringed inwardly; she hadn't been called Angie since she was five. But, far more pressing, was that Chelsea was gaining. It couldn't happen. It wouldn't happen. Don't back down; just up the stakes. "I wouldn't dream of disappointing the team. But, a leader should also demonstrate . . . equality. If my stakes rise, well, then so do yours. If I kiss Jason, you drop out of the squad and read a love poem to Mr. Connors."
Mr. Connors was fat and balding, a petty little dictator of his sad little world. However, he inspired terror far more because of his spit hitting the students in the front row than his English credentials. But in this game, it was win big or lose everything. Chelsea's mouth hardened. "Deal."
0 0 0
Jason slammed his locker door closed, turned, and hen cursed as he realized he'd left his Physics textbook on the shelf. Still muttering obscenities, he turned the combination on the expanse of shiny metal that was out to get him.
"Hey." A silky voice behind him stopped his ranting mid-word. Blonde hair, blue eyes, short cheerleader uniform – Angela Fishers was there in the flesh. He ran a hand nervously through his brown hair, and then decided to get straight to the point. He knew he looked like he's slept in his clothes – he had after all. The only reason she'd be talking to him was trouble. Angela was pretty, sure, gorgeous even. But when would these cheerleaders learn, he was not their doormat?
"I'm not doing you homework for you. I don't care what you the other bloody nerds to do; that's their problem. I'm not awed by social status, and I - " She laughed, soft and warm, cutting him off.
"I wasn't asking for that."
"Then what the hell . . ." Suddenly her mouth was on his, and he couldn't speak anymore.
0 0 0
Jason was cute, in a nerdy sort of way. He could stand some style and he looked like he'd slept in his clothes, but, all in all, his face was an improvement to the back of his head. Not that it mattered – she'd have kissed him if he'd been a midget with warts. She would not lose to Chelsea Adams.
He was muttering something. " . . . The hell . . ." And then her mouth was on his. It was supposed to be quick; she had meant it to be quick. The kind of peck you give an aunt that smells like gin and cigarette smoke. But his kiss was sweet and soft. How long had it been since she had tasted sweet? It was gentle, hesitating, almost asking her permission to continue. Yes, she urged with her mouth, increasing the intensity until he responded. It wasn't soft anymore, but she didn't mind. For the first time, Angela Fishers felt the world melt away. There was electricity tingling through her veins. It was over, the bet was won, and yet she couldn't tear herself away. It was addicting.
0 0 0
She tasted like vanilla.
"Do you want to go out with me?" It was wrong; he knew it was wrong, like some sort of screwed up Cinderella. He knew it was wrong, and yet . . . Well, she had kissed him first. And his mouth still tasted too much of vanilla to focus on the implications. He couldn't think through the logic. "Friday?"
He ruffled a hand through his hair; she liked his nervousness. How long had it been since the boy asking hadn't already assumed her answer. And the damage was done; already people were whipping out their phones and texting the latest scandal. She might as well make the most of it. Certainly it would show Chelsea. And, and . . . dang it, she was justifying herself. Why couldn't she think? All she could think of was that hesitating sweetness.
"Sure." She smiled. "Seven?"
0 0 0
They lasted one date before popular opinion recovered from its shock, and reared its ugly head. Monday morning came and she dumped him before her friends could laugh at her lapse in sanity. After all, what could possibly come of them?
0 0 0
"Who has the answer? Miss Fishers?" It was two weeks later, and Angela was zoning through English class, staring unblinkingly at the back of Jason's skull. She was ignoring the lecture when, balding and in the flesh, Mr. Connors suddenly stood next to her desk. Easily the most hated teacher in school, his presence cut into her exhaustion and jerked her back into reality.
"Mmm . . .?" She muttered unintelligently.
"Was Hamlet sane or insane? We've been waiting, Miss Fishers, for your opinion for the last two minutes with bated breath."
Shame you haven't suffocated, then. She hesitated, looking desperately around the room for help, any help. None was forthcoming. Grateful not to be called out, her classmates turned their heads away. "Sane?"
"Wrong, Miss Fishers. Not that I'm surprised, really. After your last test grade, well, I'm surprised you can still show your face in my classroom. If you ever want to advance beyond flipping burgers, I suggest you stop thinking about quarterbacks and idiotic cheers to actual schoolwork. That is, of course, why you go here. Unless your life's ambition is gyrating around a pole? Far be it, for me to deny your heart's desire. But if that is so, please cease to waste my time. If I could just throw out the idiots in this school . . ." Angela's face burned as giggles were quickly suppressed throughout the room.
"But sir . . ." she protested, pleading with her eyes for him to stop, but there was malice gleaming in his pale gray eyes.
"I . . . Mr. Andrews?" Jason's hand was thrust solidly in the air.
"Sir, I agree with Angela. Hamlet was definitely sane."
"That very interesting, Jason, but as I said that opinion is clearly wrong. Now Miss Fishers . . ."
"If you cannot actually talk to the author, how can an opinion be wrong? And shouldn't a good English teacher know the difference between a fact and an opinion?" Titters echoed throughout the classroom, even more than those that had mocked Angela.
Mr. Connors glared, and decided to end the debate quickly before an offense as inexcusable as laughter occurred again. "He saw a ghost, Mr. Andrews. I think that's a degree of insanity." He turned to walk to the front of his class, satisfied at having the last word and putting the cheerleading captain thoroughly in her place.
So the question caught him in midstep and caused him to stumble, "You think, Mr. Connors. Isn't that also an opinion?"
How dare he? No one spoke to him like that. "He challenged the king's authority, Mr. Andrews. That is ill-advised."
"Maybe the authority needed to be challenged, Mr. Connors."
"Prove it." There was a nasty smirk playing on the teacher's face, and victory in his eyes. He would have order. He would have control. Guts were one thing, but knowledge was power. The snippy little upstart should know that.
Jason only smiled. "Many experts define insanity as the inability to tell right from wrong. Hamlet refused to kill Claudius while he was praying; this shows he knew what was morally right."
"Again very interesting, Mr. Andrews, but . . ."
"I'm not finished. Hamlet was also able to construct an elaborate plot to tell if the ghost was telling the truth. Can the trap with the play, really be the work of an insane man? Did you not see this in your, no doubt, thorough perusal of the play?"
Mr. Connors was turning red. Knowledge. Intimidation. Power. The boy was challenging all three. "Detention, Mr. Andrews."
"For what, sir?"
"I didn't realize it was disrespectful to talk about Shakespeare in my English class, sir."
"This is insolence. You will be quiet."
"Mr. Connors, you opened up this debate. You asked me to prove my point. As such, I feel I am entitled to state my own view - whether it disagrees with yours or not. As you did with Angela, if I'm not mistaken."
Mr. Connors' face changed into a brilliant shade of fuchsia. "Mr. Andrews, I have never been spoken to in such a tone before."
"Maybe it's about time then, sir."
"Mr. Connors, do you really want me to explain my detention to the principal? That you were threatened by a seventeen–year–old who had actually read the play?"
"Get . . . out . . ." Mr. Connors gasped, pointing at the door. His face had moved past fuchsia into an almost indigo.
"With pleasure, sir."
And he left . . . Angela watched him go.
0 0 0
"Thank you." She found him in the library, forsaking the cafeteria's push of bodies for the company of a book. "Thank you for standing up for me."
"No problem." He smiled, and touched his hair in an all-too-familiar gesture. "Mr. Connors has had it coming for a long time. I mean after he misquoted As You Like It . . . I'm getting off topic, aren't I?"
At her smile, he blushed scarlet. "Yes." And she kissed him.
0 0 0
He caught her copying his answers to the English homework, and his friends assured him she was only using him to boost her grades. After all what was the possible attraction? He confronted her, she lied, and he dumped her.
0 0 0
Eighteen days later, not that Angela was counting, she saw him creep into the school parking lot after cheerleading practice. His lip was split, and his nose was bleeding. Her first though was that he deserved it – no one dumped Angela Fishers! But not a second later, she was regretting the thought. This was Jason, her Jason, whether he knew it or not. And bitter didn't mix with sweet.
"What happened?" But he didn't answer, only turned sad green eyes to her.
Inadvertently, she started forward, only to be distracted by a chorus of laughs at her back. Football practice had ended as well, and its members were gathering behind her. Jackson Matthews, her newest king, flung a careless arm around her shoulders. "Hey there, babe."
He leaned in for a kiss, but she waved a distracted hand towards Jason instead. "What happened to the geek?"
"Well, babe, this here Jake, James . . . "
"Jason." The word came out cold and clipped. But she quickly smiled up at her boyfriend to lessen the sting of the betrayed emotion.
"Yeah, that's him. Well, he stepped out of place, babe. He tried to date you, and while I don't go blaming you, gorgeous, he needed to learn the rules. His arm moved lower to encircle her waist, but she pushed him off.
"I didn't realize that you were so weak, that you needed to beat up someone to make you feel important."
"C'mon Baby . . ."
"Don't call me baby. If you are threatened by a nerd, I want nothing more to do with you."
He reached for her again. "Baby . . ."
"My name is Angela." She said, moving away from his grasping hand.
"Honestly, take a joke, babe." Her eyes closed to almost slits. He dared her to challenge her? Did he think she was weak? She would have laughed if she weren't so furious. Oh, Jackson, don't you know not to challenge a queen?
"We're over, Jackson, ended, done, fin. Maybe if you hadn't beaten up Jason, you could ask him what those words mean." She glared at the congregating crowd watching the scene. "I don't date the pathetic."
She sauntered deliberately over to Jason, who'd been watching the drama just as avidly as the rest. "Enjoying the show?"
"Extremely, and I think I owe you a thank you." There was laughter in his beautiful emerald eyes.
"Hmm . . . I think you owe me a lot more." She murmured, and she kissed him lightly on the cheek. "I think you owe me Saturday night."
"Should we give us another try?"
"It might be fun."
0 0 0
"Oh, and try on this shirt. The green will really bring out your eyes." Months had passed, and winter found them walking through men's clothing racks at the mall. Angela gazed at the displays critically, while he heaved a long-suffering sigh.
He gazed down at the pile that filled his arms. "More clothes?"
"Absolutely. You need some shirts without obscure bands, movie quotes, or tears."
He snorted, and clutched at his heart. "The horror! The horror!"
"Do not go Joseph Conrad on me, Jason."
His eyes widened. "Dear God, was that a literary reference?"
"I am dating an English nerd, had to happen sometime."
He grinned until she thrust two more shirts into his pile. "How many is this? You'd think my girlfriend didn't like my wardrobe."
"Well, I'm sure Star Wars and Monty Python t-shirts are great for comic-con conventions, but not for Jess' party. We need something perfect."
He spun around so suddenly, she almost bumped into him. "Party?"
"Yeah, Jess' snowflake thing. It's been on the social calendar for, like, ages. I know you're a bit behind, but honestly . . . it's the event."
"Watching inebriated teenagers grind against each other to bad music? I'll pass."
"That was never an option, Jason."
He flung his pile of clothes to her. "Look, I've been to enough of these parties, and it always ends up with me being punched or having beer thrown on me. I'm not going to another of those things."
"Jason, I know you don't understand this. But it is the social event."
"To you maybe, it's just not my scene."
"Well, it's my scene. How can I make you understand? I'm the queen; I have to be there. I have fought and clawed for this, and I can't lose it, Jason. I'm already dating you, love. I can't take any more bullets and stay queen. I can't back down."
"Why not? Skip the party; back down. What's the big deal?"
"I don't know how to explain it to you, but it's everything I have struggled for. This is my world, Jason, and I need my boyfriend with me too."
"I'm sorry, Angela. I'm not coming."
She smiled poisonously. "Then you're not my boyfriend."
They stood there for a moment, both too stubborn to yield, and then he nodded once and turned away. She watched him go, heart in her throat. She couldn't back down now. She couldn't just sacrifice her pride, not with everything else. It was all she had. She couldn't just . . . Angela put her head in her hands.
0 0 0
"So Angela, are you over your geek?" Chelsea approached her in the girl's bathroom, smirking nastily.
"Of course." She snapped, rubbing baby blue eye shadow onto her lids.
"Good then. You won't mind if I start dating him." Chelsea flicked a strand of perfect blonde hair from her shoulder, and then casually applied lip-gloss. "You've made him socially interesting. And I'll bet I can keep him longer than you. Boys tend to like a little, well . . . more."
Angela carefully applied the last of her make-up, smiled sweetly at Chelsea, and practically ran to the library. He looked up at her approach, but by that time Angela was already venting. "Chelsea Adams? You're dating her? She's just using you to get to me. She's a mean-spirited, back-stabbing . . ."
"Angela." It was strange how that one word from his lips broke her defenses, brought her choked tears to her eyes.
" . . . Devious, nasty . . ."
"Angela, I don't like Chelsea."
"I agree with you. She's a backstabbing bitch with her own agenda. I'm not dating her."
"Well, that's . . .that's great. Fantastic. Perfect." Did she sound as much like an idiot to him as she did to herself?
"Why do you care?"
"I don't. I mean, just not her. I don't want her to get the idea that . . ."
"Just the idea. That's it."
"Angela, I'm still hoping someone will get the right idea." Angela blushed, and then ran her hands thorough her hair nervously. "I'm not part of that scene, but . . ."
"It doesn't matter. I'm sorry, that was stupid. I shouldn't have . . ."
"I'd still like to be part of your scene... "
" . . . And if you still like me . . ."
"Still like you? Angela, you're . . . you're my drug . . .. Like nicotine, morphine, heroin . . ."
She kissed him, and when they broke apart for breath, she smiled. "You talk entirely too much."
0 0 0
"I'm sorry. I didn't mean to hurt you."
"So you thought I'd be fine with the cheating?"
"It wasn't cheating. It was . . . politics."
"Oh, I'm terribly sorry, when did making out with the school quarterback not count as cheating?"
"Please, Jason. It wasn't anything serious. He was my competition."
"My challenger. He wants to be king, and he will be. I can't help that. But if we're seen kissing . . . well, I stay queen. Regardless of his girlfriend."
"What the hell are you talking about?"
"I'm saying it was a game. It meant nothing."
"It meant nothing? Did it even occur to you how it would hurt me? Or his girlfriend, for that matter? Did you even give a damn about someone other than yourself?
"Jason . . ."
"God, everyone's just a pawn to you. We're eternally battling, and you'd happily see us sacrificed if it would bring you checkmate."
"I don't want part of those games, Angela. I'm not your fucking pawn." He broke up with her.
0 0 0
For three weeks, Angela ruled the school with an iron fist, filleting anyone who crossed her. And one Tuesday morning, five minutes after second period, she inexplicably handed over her captainship to her second, and abdicated her throne.
0 0 0
Angela floated on a cloud, held up above the world on alcohol and adrenaline. Her hips moved to the rhythm of the song, and she barely noticed the drunken hand on her back. She let him lead her through the gyrating couples, until her back connected with the wall. His body held her there, and suddenly her dance partner was kissing her. His kisses were hard and fast, never stopping, never hesitating. She shook him off, trying to move away.
"Angel girl." He slurred. "Play nice." His hands were back on her, and he was too strong. He was much too strong . . . She couldn't move.
"I don't want to. Please, I don't want this." She said, her feet were stumbling, and the world tilted as she struggled.
"But I want to." The boy's mouth was on her again, hard, and his hands were exploring more than her back. She tried to move to the side, but he wouldn't let her go. He was just too strong.
Then just as suddenly, he was gone, and a pair of familiar green eyes was glaring at him.
"She said she didn't want to kiss you."
"Who are you?" the boy asked, mustering all his drunken insolence and succeeding in looking ridiculous.
"That doesn't matter. All you need to know is that I'm her knight in damn shining armor right now, and that you're going to get lost."
The boy clenched his hands into fists, but Jason simply raised an eyebrow. "You think after six after-school beatings, I haven't taken self-defense classes? Fight me when you're sober."
Ignoring the words, the boy swung. But Jason was already gone, and the fist hit air. While the boy was still off-balance, a fist connected with his stomach. He doubled over, drunkenly diving for Jason's feet when they appeared. The two tumbled into a table of drinks, arms flailing wildly.
Angela swayed, too much, too much. Music blasting, fists pounding, glass breaking, it was all too much. The scene was dancing crazily in her eyes, and just as it all became unbearable, Jason was there again. He dusted his hands on his jeans, barely looking at his bloody opponent. Angela tilted her head in confusion; what had happened to the boy with the split lip and bloody nose?
Did he not need her now? She felt like she'd been slapped, and she reeled.
His hand was there in an instant, steadying her. "C'mon Angela. I'm taking you home now." He waited until she was balanced before placing his coat on her shoulders. Together, they walked out of the door, past the drunken hands reaching and the wild music playing. She took his hand, and interlaced her fingers with his.
"Hey." She slurred. "You came to a party."
He grinned. "I still don't like them."
Silence stretched between them, until she broke it. "Jason?"
There were too many questions colliding with each other. How did you know I needed you? Why are you here? Will you still be here tomorrow? But none would come out. Instead, she simply looked at him.
He understood, at least in part. "Jess called me. She said you were smashed and needed a ride home. The fist fight was just my chauffeur's bonus."
Angela nodded, wondering how Jess had known to call Jason. "Thank you."
He shrugged. "You needed help. I wasn't going to walk away."
"I know . . . And . . . I know it's too little, too late, but I'm sorry, Jason."
He raised his eyebrows. "For what?"
"For hurting you. For the lies . . . the manipulation, and in the end . . . Well, what was it worth? So, I abdicated. And, I . . . I thought . . ."
"I thought you would come for me. I thought you were supposed to come."
"I didn't know you wanted me to."
"It's stupid, after everything. But I want to know. Does my abdicating . . .? Does it make any difference?"
There was a pause. "I don't . . . I don't know."
"What does that mean?"
"I can't date the queen, not again. It hurt too much."
"It did. It hurt so much, she shattered, Jason. All that's left right now is Angela. Is that enough?"
"It always was. I didn't come tonight for the queen, Angela. I came for you."
"You came. But it's not enough . . . I mean it is. But . . . but will you stay?"
"I think, I think that I'm here for you, as long as you want me."
She looked up at him, then. Eyes wide, and more vulnerable than he had ever seen, all pride stripped from her. "Then. Then I want you. Please . . . don't leave me again." And then she vomited all over his shoes.
0 0 0
Her eyes fluttered open, and then immediately shut. The light peeking in from the curtains was blinding, exacerbating the headache throbbing in her temples. And the dark was soothing. It felt right to be here, on this couch, the smell of her spilled perfume bottle still strong. Worn in the right places from movie nights and screaming soccer matches. It was familiar . . . hers.
Though it was in Jason's house.
Jason . . . was it a dream? A wish? A mock kindness to a broken girl. Urgency gripped her; she had to know. Was he hers again? Hers. No. Not hers, not anymore. Not a posession or a pawn . . . an equal.
But where was he?
She followed the scent of coffee lingering in the air to the kitchen. He was there, smiling at her. Aspirin was one the table, along with a feast of pancakes and scrambled eggs. And there was coffee; she reached for it with shaking fingers.
He shifted on one foot awkwardly, and ran a hand through that irresistible messy hair. "I'm sorry. I would have taken you home, but you wouldn't let go of my hand, and, well, you were really out of it. I didn't think you wanted your parents to see you like that. I called your friend Jess, so they think you're over at her house. My parents haven't woken up yet, but I found some food. I thought you might be hungry, and . . ."
"You're amazing," She said, breaking his stream of rambling thoughts. The eyes were familiar too, and right. They didn't hate her anymore. The queen was broken, but Angela . . . She kissed him.
0 0 0
"I love you." Angela murmured into his ear at graduation, as they threw their caps up high into the air. Her sapphire eyes met his green.
"I know." And this time he kissed her.