A/N: I've been writing a lot of backwards stories lately. I like how they turn out. So, anyway, this was written backwards. That's why it goes 'End' 'Middle' 'Beginning'. Kay? Kay.

I like reviews.


loathing.

( end. )

"I hate him," she states simply. One leg is folded under her as she scribbles furiously on her sketchbook at her desk, her brow scrunched and her hair tied up messily, her clothes hanging off at odd, mismatched angles; and, really, she's such a clich├ęd artist type.

He doesn't answer, instead hauls himself up from his place on her neatly-made bed and comes to stand at her shoulder, looking on curiously. "What're you drawing?" He asks as he distractedly runs a finger across the strings of her guitar.

He can never figure out most of her sketches. Her room is littered with them. Some are framed and sitting prettily on the walls, while others lie in obscure places everywhere; under the bed, in the corner next to her closet, sticking out of the drawers in her nightstand, in books on her bookshelf.

She flips her pencil around and erases at a stubborn, thick line. "Him."

He tilts his head to the side, and ah, he sees it now. The picture is actually beautiful in a poetic, tragic sort of way. She's drawn him soaking wet, running down the football field with a football tucked under his arm. Lightning flashes in the background, but there's no rain, even though he's wet. Why does he look like that? He doesn't know. He never does.

He sets his hand absently on her shoulder. She leans into his touch, leaning her head against his firm stomach. "Hate's a strong word, El."

She looks almost remorseful for a moment, but the look is gone and replaced by the same vehement anger as before in a heartbeat. She scratches fiercely at the football with her pencil lead.

"God, Jason, you sound like my mother."


( middle. )

She sees the two of them in the hall, hanging off of each other, their mouths glued together as a freshman tries to get their attention. It looks like they're blocking his locker. She knows she should feel angry, angry that he's found someone else so quickly, that he's found Nora so quickly, but she only feels sad.

She opens her locker and draws out her trigonometry textbook. Jason sidles up to her, leaning on the locker door beside hers. He smiles. The smile fades as he catches sight of the couple in the background and matches it up with the sad look on Elle's face.

Oh.

She sees him looking from her to them and lowers her gaze. "It's really okay, Jason."

He shakes his head, a determined look set across his face. "No, it's really not."

She turns around to look at Bryan and his new girlfriend. "Ugh. Isn't it annoying when people make out in public? So disgusting."

He nods absentmindedly. "Yeah."

She spins on her heel and shuts her locker with a bang. She clutches her books to her chest, gaze lingering on Bryan and Nora. "I really hate that." She sighs and whips her head back to Jason. "Well, I've got trig. See you after?"

He just nods, his judgmental eyes still on the couple kissing on the lockers. "Yeah. See you then."

She gives him a small smile before walking down the hall, not giving Bryan and Nora a second glance as she passes by.


He finds her in the back of the library, lying on her stomach beneath one of the study tables, her dog-eared sketchpad in front of her; long, pencil-straight blonde hair spilling out across the pages. He grabs the edge of the table with one hand and leans over sideways, his dark hair flopping in front of his eyes. He uses his other hand to hold up his glasses. If she notices him, she makes no indication.

"You know," he says, brown eyes darting around the room, "the library floor is actually kind of dirty. I wouldn't suggest sitting there when there seems to be an abundance of chairs."

"Bryan dumped me," is her reply. He knows. That's why he's here.

"That doesn't explain what you're doing under there."

She sighs and glances up, an annoyed look etched across her pale features. She opens her mouth, and he braces himself for the venomous retort he's been expecting, but she just reaches up and fingers his wavy black locks as she says softly, "You need a haircut."

He rolls his eyes and she smiles crookedly. He sits down at her table and she stays underneath it, drawing quietly. He opens a book and reads as he listens to the sound of her pencil scratching gently against the paper.

She presses her face into his shin, the scratchy denim warm against her cool forehead, and exhales heavily.

"Do you hate him?" He asks, pausing in his reading.

He feels her shake her head against his leg. "No." He goes back to his book, her pencil resumes its scratching. She opens her mouth again; he feels her warm breath against his bare ankle, where his pant leg has slightly ridden up.

"I hate that I don't, though."


She bursts into his room at ten o'clock on Friday night, not bothering to knock or do anything to announce her arrival. "We had another fight," she says as she flops face-down onto his bed, rumpling the already-rumpled quilt even further. He turns around from his spot in front of his TV, spinning his desk chair to face her. He sets his game on pause and puts the controller on his desk.

"Yeah?"

She nods into the mattress. "Yeah. Again," she says, her voice muffled.

"What about?" He asks. He doesn't add, if you don't mind my asking, because they're best friends and she's not allowed to mind anymore.

She rolls over onto her back, her arms spread wide, hanging off the narrow bed. "Something stupid."

"Isn't it always?"

She picks up his pillow and throws it blindly over her head, hoping it hits him. It doesn't. She sighs heavily. "I just really hate it when we're mad at each other."

"Yeah," he says, picking up the pillow and tossing it back at her. "Me too." The pillow lands square on her face, and he laughs.

She doesn't.

He learns that night that pillows are very capable of leaving large, painful bruises. Who knew?


"He asked me out!" Jason hears her screaming as soon as she sets foot inside his door. She runs through the front hall, poking her head into various rooms. "Where are you?!" She shouts.

"Out back!" He calls in response. She flies through the back door and spins around and around, eventually falling on her back into the soft grass. She looks up from the ground into the tall oak tree, where Jason is perched with a book.

"Are you always reading?" She asks.

He smiles. "Nope. On the weekends I play Call of Duty." He drops his book to the ground and hops out of the tree, landing lightly. "So, he finally asked you?"

She bites her lip almost painfully as she smiles and nods fiercely, eyes squeezing shut. "He did!" She squeals, holding her hands to her chest.

He sits down next to her, one eyebrow raised on his tanned face. "And I take it you said no?"

She looks at him incredulously.

"Kidding."

She rolls her eyes. "Ugh, you're so weird." He lays back, shoulder to shoulder with her. She sighs and closes her eyes. "I still can't believe it," she confesses.

"Mmm," he murmurs noncommittally.

"And guess what else?" She asks as she props herself up on one elbow, facing him. "He asked me right in front of Nora! Ha ha! Can you believe it? You should have seen the look on her face. It was great. She's been going on and on for weeks about how Bryan was going to ask her out soon, in that snobby way she has." She sighs and lays down again. "She's so obnoxious. I hate her."

"Really? I think she's hot," he says.

Cue another incredulous look.

"Jay kay."

She shakes her head. "I can't decide if I want to punch you because you're freaking annoying, or because you just said 'jay kay'." She draws a J and then a K in the air with her pointer finger.

"Well, seeing as I'm only ever a delight to be around, you can't punch me for the first reason. Also, I'm hip when I say 'jay kay'. Everybody else is a loser when they say it."

She punches him anyway.


( beginning. )

She leans forward on the bleachers, one elbow propped on her knee, her hand holding up her head. "Sigh," she says dramatically.

Jason ignores her.

She clears her throat. "Sigh," she says again.

He turns the page of his book. "Why can't you just sigh? You don't have to say it."

She straightens up and looks at him haughtily. "It's for dramatic flair, F.Y.I."

He raises his eyebrows skeptically, his eyes never leaving the book in his lap. "Trust me, you don't need more dramatic anything," he says, flicking at the bright green beret perched on her golden hair.

She clamps her hands down on the top of her head, scowling. "Don't touch that. And stop making fun of me."

He shakes his head and looks up, closing his book, one finger holding his place. They're alone on the cold, metal bleachers. Elle's there so she can watch the football team practice and Jason's there because she forced him to come with her, because apparently, "only losers sit alone." She leans forward again and fixes her grass-green eyes on the running-back, Bryan Johnson. "Sigh," she says a third time.

Jason follows her gaze and then rolls his eyes. "Why do you like him, anyway? He's kind of a jerk."

She jerks upright and gasps in mock-hurt. "Are you questioning my impeccable taste?"

"No, I'm questioning your terrible judge of character."

She huffs and folds her arms. "Give him a chance. Anybody who looks that good has to be at least a little nice."

"No, they really don't," he says as he opens his book again with one hand and pushes his glasses up with the other.

"You're just jealous because he has all the girls in school falling all over him." He doesn't answer, too absorbed in his book. She smiles smugly and goes back to watching the team practice. Just as she settles back, crossing one leg over the other, Bryan looks up at the bleachers. He sees her watching and smiles. Elle half expects there to be a little shiny ping! sparkle glinting off of his perfect teeth. She waves at him shyly. He waves back before flipping his blonde hair and turning back around.

She sits back. "Wow," she says breathlessly.

Jason looks at her. "What?"

"He... smiled at me. And waved."

He looks to the field and then back to her. He twirls one finger around in the air. "Woo hoo."

She punches his arm. He smiles and goes back to his book. "I love him," she says dreamily, leaning her head on Jason's shoulder.

He adjusts his scarf with one hand and snorts. "Well, I hate him."

She sits up and looks at him seriously. "Don't say that," she says. "You don't really hate him. Do you?"

He shrugs. "Nah. I just feel bad for him. I mean, look at him, he's obviously gay."

Despite herself, she laughs and punches him again. His glasses are knocked askew, and she reaches up to fix them for him. He pushes her hand away and adjusts them himself.

"I hate you," she laughs as she sets her hands back in her lap.

"No," he says, leaning forward and kissing her cheek quickly, "you don't." She concedes.

Because she doesn't.


fin.