"You think this is hard? Try being waterboarded. That's hard!" -Glee

I think the jury guy hated us or something. He didn't just say "Oh, yeah, here's the verdict." No. He was like, "We the jury find the defendant, Jack Marshall…" And then he just paused. What the crap was that? This was not American Idol. No need for dramatic suspense. Truthfully, the guy only paused for a few seconds but it seemed like forever. Jack gripped my hand under the table. It was too tight, and I guess he had momentarily forgotten he possessed super-strength. So I just sat there, my hand silently suffocating, feeling like I was going to pee in my pants. Finally, when the jury guy had gotten us nice and worked up, he dropped the bomb.

"Not guilty."

Several things happened all at once.

The first, most noticeable, thing was the noise level. Everyone started talking but it was impossible to make out individual statements. Jack stood up, maybe just as a reflex, but he didn't let go of my hand so I was kind of pulled up along with him. He looked stunned at first like he couldn't even comprehend what was happening, but after a few seconds, it hit him. The worried frown he'd been wearing for nearly two weeks split into a much more familiar grin. He finally let go of my hand. Just when I was getting the feeling back, he grabbed me in an equally tight bear hug. I couldn't really savor the moment that much because I was mainly focusing on how I couldn't breathe. Finally, when I thought I was probably going to die, he let go. "We did it," he said. "Holy crap, we did it." Before I could even answer, he was cutting me off with a kiss, going at it with a real sense of urgency.

Possibly the sweetest part of our victory was seeing Gabrielle's face. It was twisted into an expression I couldn't immediately identify. Anger? Bitterness? Surprise? Sadness, definitely. I almost felt sorry for her for one millisecond, but then she caught me looking and flipped me the bird. Ben, on the other hand, was looking supremely proud of himself. I couldn't blame him. He and Jack exchanged the international bro hug, one of those brothers-in-arms-we-fought-in-'Nam-together grips. I wished I could just take a picture of the moment. It was so perfect. Everything was perfect.

Once we were all done with the little nit-picky court details, Ben, Jack and I decided to celebrate by going to this sketchy combination restaurant/bar. We tried order tequila by convincing them that Jack was 21, but we kept cracking up so they didn't believe us. When that didn't work, we told them it was Ben's birthday. They totally didn't buy it, but they gave us a little slice of cake for free, probably just to get us to shut up.

Jack didn't stop smiling the entire time. "How damn awesome," he said, pausing to take a bite of the cake, "is this? My girlfriend, cake, my best friend, and I'm a free man. Shit, the only way it could be better is if there were some fireworks or something."

"Did you guys see the look on Gabrielle's face? Excellent!" Ben said, banging his fist on the table.

He and Jack continued to laugh about that for five more minutes, but the high of the verdict had kind of worn off for me. I mean, it really only took care of one of the massive problems we faced. Granted, it was probably the biggest issue-I'm glad it was all settled-but it didn't make everything perfect.

It took Jack a few minutes to notice that I wasn't really participating in the celebration. "What's wrong?" he asked.

"Nope," I said. "I'm not going to take the piss out of this moment."

Jack was persistent; I wasn't going to get off that easily. "Seriously, what's the matter?"

"I am just going to sit here and quietly eat my cake," I replied, evading the question. "Carry on with the laughter." It wouldn't be fair for me to mope around and ruin his moment, would it? No. No it would not. Damn it, why couldn't I have just acted giggly and happy instead of moping? Stupid.

"Callie," Jack said in his best I-am-not-buying-your-bullshit voice.

I cracked. "Okay, fine, it's not really that big of a deal, but I was just thinking about other messed up things. Like I said, it's nothing, so let's just drop it."

"What messed up things?"

I sighed. This is exactly what I didn't want to get into. Not here, in a shady bar. Not now, while he was feeling on top of the world. But whatever, he asked. "Well, if you recall, I live in the middle of Crapsville, Nebraska-no offense Ben-and you live in New Jersey where all my friends and family also reside. I'd call that pretty messed up."

Ever a man of logistics, Jack thought a moment before answering. "People can change their minds right?"

"Not my mom," I said laughing without much humor.

"I'm a superhero. I've saved the world, your life, and New Jersey. I think I can help you convince your mom to let you move back home."

"That's true," I admitted. Well, when he put it like that. It actually did make me feel much better. Surely there was some hope. I found myself able to smile again. Actually smile not that obviously fake decoy of a grin. "How about this cake huh?" I asked, eager to stop thinking about problems. I mean, wasn't that my general strategy for dealing with problems anyway? Ignore it until I absolutely had to face it. But I did trust Jack when he said he'd come up with something.

Ben smirked at me. "What's wrong with Nebraska?"

"Oh, nothing," I replied sarcastically. "It's great if you love phony ass bitches."

He laughed. "To be fair, I'm almost positive that's just the fine population at Lancaster Prep."

Jack didn't understand what we were talking about, so we had to fill him in. I regaled him with tales of my glamorous uniform and the underlying tones of sexism that the whole place had. I told him about Elin's group of friends, and Ben supplied the story of the Christmas party. Jack laughed in all the right places and I instantly realized how much I had missed that-our easy conversations and laughing at nothing.

Now that I was reminded of the sound of his laugh, the way his hair smelled (Old Spice even after being detained in prison; the guy really was a superhero), the way his hugs felt, and the way his lips tasted, I had to trust him when he said he'd find a way to change my mom's mind.

Luckily, he had an excellent history of keeping his promises.

Author's note:

HI GUYS, HI. Yay. It's been less than 3 months. NEW RECORD? Okay, but seriously, I am legit sorry. I just...don't even have any excuses. Kay, couple of things in this A/N:

1) The next chapter is the last chapter! Yeah, I know I've been saying that for a long time, but it's true this time. :/

2) Yeah. Court proceedings resemble no actual court. Trials would go by sooo fast if they all just called one witness haha. I was trying to figure out a way to write it interestingly, but there were so many little details that I knew no one would care about, so I was just like, SCREW IT. And made up my own court. Yaay for creative license.

3) The quote: Glee. Do you like Glee? I liked Glee; liked as in past tense. The first season rocked, then they started dressing as Lady Gaga and inexplicably doing things that any school in the world would probably have policies against. BUT WHATEVER, I'M NOT TRYNA HATE.

4) Thank you for sticking with me on this even though I don't exactly have the best update track record. It means a lot to me.

5) At this exact moment it is 2:08am. I've been up trying to finish this chapter and it's done. I'll post it tomorrow (later today, really, I guess)

6) I've managed to stay up late by listening to Linkin Park. I don't usually like them that much but I've just been listening to two of their songs Iridescent and Wretches and Kings on repeat for like FOUR FREAKING HOURS. And also I've been eating a lot of yogurt. But I don't know if that affects it. I just really like yogurt. Asdfghjkl; I'm rambling now.

7) I love you.
8) okay, bye.