A/N: Back in 2008, I posted a story on here called Desperate Desires. It received no reviews. It was, however, something I had been working on for a long time, originally intended as a story for just me and a close group of friends, it evolved into something more. The idea has never left me, and when Romance won out in the poll for what I should write next, I decided to revisit the story. There are currently seven chapters up of the original and, for some of it such as the first chapter, the events and story will remain the same. I do hope, however, that my writing has improved vastly in the years since, and therefore this should be cleaner and better than that version. But, if you like, feel free to check out the original and let me know what you think about the ideas, what you feel should be kept or not for this version. Or you could just read this version. Either way, reviews for both will be returned.
Two Years Ago
Leaning against the wall at the top of the stairs, I let out a deep breath. Christ, having crutches had proven to be more of a struggle than I would have thought. I was supposed to be using the lift but it had been broken for the last few days, leaving the stairs as my only option. On top of that, I was also supposed to have someone to help me from class to class but, having only one friend in this whole shitty school meant that often, I had to go on my own.
I turned and carried on my way, thankful, at least, that I got to leave class ten minutes early to get to the next one. Otherwise, who knew what could happen if I was caught in the mad dash between lessons?
Hobbling towards the doors, I glanced up to see two Year Eleven guys coming towards me. The taller of the two held the door, and ducking my head, I muttered a weak thanks as I passed.
"No problem," he replied, in a cheery voice that made me blush.
I hated how easily my skin flushed red.
Then again, I hated almost everything about me. All part of being a teenager.
Turning the corner I found myself in the History corridor and there, just ahead of me, was a sight I really did not want to see.
Clara Richards and her gaggle of girls half-turned as I appeared, eyes fixed on me like a hawks surveying their prey. You'd think fifteen would be too young to be an evil bitch, but Clara proved that wrong. A grin stretched across her face as she moved towards me, head held high with the girls following.
Swear words danced around my head as I found myself frozen, with no idea what I could do to get out of this situation.
Bugger, shit and fuck.
"Like the last present I gave you?" she hissed, before kicking one of the crutches away. I fell to my right, leaning against the wall as I fixed my eyes on her, trying not to show any weakness. I forced the tears back, forced my breath to remain regular. "How about an arm this time?" she drawled, face now inches from mine as she reached for my wrist.
"Leave her alone."
I recognised the voice of Dawn Fox, another girl in my year. Clara flinched, though it was so small I was sure I'd been the only one to see it. She turned her head, eyes narrowed as she stared at Dawn. The girl stood next to Gwen Tate, both of them with their arms crossed and eyes fixed on Clara.
Around us, the bells let out an almighty buzz, and I wondered why none of them were in class. Still, I wasn't about to question the arrival of Dawn. Clara looked scared as she stepped back from me, though the look in her face was soon by replaced by pure contempt.
"Fine. Whatever. The fatty and the dyke suit each other, anyway."
Dawn bristled, stepping forward, and Gwen's hand snapped out, holding her shoulder.
"I swear to God, Richards, you ever touch Jinx again, and I will make your life a living hell."
"Whatever." With a laugh, Clara turned to her gaggle and walked off. Pupils spilled out of the classrooms as Gwen and Dawn moved towards me, the three of us squeezed against the wall to avoid the worst of the crush.
"Are you okay?" Dawn asked, eyes full of concern. I barely knew her; she was in a couple of my classes, and usually acted as the class clown if she wasn't keeping her head down. Gwen lived near me, and I'd sometimes walked to school with her but, apart from that, neither of them would be counted as friends. Not really.
"Yeah," I muttered, shaking my head. "Yeah, I'm okay."
"We've got Biology next, right?" Gwen piped up, eyes darting between the two of us. "You're in our class, Jinx, aren't you?"
Slowly, I nodded.
"Great!" Dawn said, grinning. "Come on, we'll walk you."
The shout comes from outside my door, stirring me from nightmares of a fat reflection and Clara bloody Richards laughing at me over my shoulder. Groggily, I turn over in my bed, blinking my eyes rapidly as the door opens and Mum steps in. Light from the hallway floods my room, causing me to groan and yank the blanket up over my face.
She turned the light on, and I forced my eyes open, staring at her in her holiday clothes – a summer dress, with a flower pattern on it. She inches forward slowly, a large smile on her face.
"Jinx, honey, we're off," she whispers, coming to sit on my bed as I lift myself up. The blanket falls from around me, revealing a baggy Metallica t-shirt, a hand-me-down from my bedroom.
"Okay," I mutter, ignoring how dry my mouth feels. "Okay, have a good time." I try to muster as much cheer into my voice as I can but fail, as sleep tries to call me back.
Mum wraps her arms around me and I mimic the act, closing my eyes as I rest my head against her.
"Look after yourself," she says. "Eat properly, yeah? And look after your brother, too. Your dad is going to leave you some money, in our room, you know the chest of drawers where..."
"Yeah," I mutter, gently pulling away. "Yeah, I know, Mum. Go. Go, have a good time." She laughs as I gently push her off the bed.
"We'll phone when you get your results, yeah?"
"I love you, Jinx." She moves towards the door, eyes fixed on me as I slump back into my bed.
"Love you, too," I reply, smiling softly at her.
"And be good!" Her voice urges me to listen carefully to the three simple words; to heed them and obey.
"I will!" I say, before she leaves the room and shuts the door tight.
Flopping down onto my bed, I close my eyes. After a few minutes, the realisation that I'm wide awake hits me, and I grab my phone, flicking it on to check the time. Almost ten. Not too early, but not my ideal holiday wake up time of twelve, either. Still, I know for a fact that I will not get to sleep now so, leaping up and out of the bed, I make my way downstairs to the first floor of the house, heading to the bathroom.
We don't have a mansion or anything. Just a terraced house in the middle of a busy road. But lucky for me, we had a loft conversion done the summer before and, since then, I'd been sleeping in what was, essentially, the attic.
In the bathroom, I whip off my pyjama top, dumping it in the clothes basket before daring to glance in the mirror. Unable to help myself, I pinch a bit of the fat forming around my stomach.
God damn it.
It had taken me almost two years to lose that puppy fat. Now, it looked like it was slowly starting to pile up again. I had to stick to a regime; no more thinking that it's okay to miss this or that day, for any reason.
I had to keep the weight off.
The words that had, for three years, been drummed into my head floated up now, dancing around my mind and ringing in my ears.
"You're ugly. You're fat. Ugly! Fat! Ugly! Fat!"
I'd been lucky. Since Dawn and Gwen had come to my defence in Year Ten, Clara and her cronies mostly left me alone. A friendship had formed under their protection, and the circle of friends that had once consisted of just me and Faith had expanded. Safety in numbers was an important factor in keeping Clara at bay.
There had been a few harsh words from her though, but mostly they were just jibes, just attempts at trying to provoke me into a reaction. I was just thankful that Clara didn't know about my crush on Jake Brooks, the hottest guy in school and, coincidentally, Clara's boyfriend.
Everyone in my year knew one thing he didn't.
Rumours and gossip tended to stick to whatever year group it affected and, as a result, those in Year Thirteen were blissfully unaware of the lives Clara had almost ruined or the fact that she had slept with almost every guy in our year over the course of our two GCSE years.
Or maybe he did know, and was just a huge dickhead himself.
I scoffed, running a hand through my hair as I jumped into the shower. Yeah, right. Jake just didn't seem like that type of guy.
Not that I knew him. At all.
Once I was squeaky clean, my stomach rumbled, announcing its all too human need for food. Breakfast. I had two choices, and the decision was the most important one I'd make of the day.
Skip breakfast and pay for it at lunchtime, or eat breakfast and pay for it at lunchtime.
X X X
My first day of freedom.
Okay, so my parents weren't overbearing or anything. They pretty much let me do what I wanted, within reason. Mum had asked me a million times I needed to go on the pill or anything, and she usually gave me a couple of quid, if I had no money and needed cigarettes. Dad was a different story. Lovely guy, of course, but protective. Still, they never really interfered in my life, not if they didn't have to.
But still, having the house to myself was a rarity, and one I totally enjoyed. My brother was out at work, so I wouldn't be seeing him until gone six. With a smile, I lit up a cigarette and pressed play on the DVD remote.
The blaring of the doorbell caused me to swear and quickly I stubbed the fag out, stuffing my pack under one of the curtains before I leapt up and moved towards the door, opening it with a big smile, ready to greet my grandparents.
Instead of them, however, I was faced with my best friend, Faith Powell.
Her eyes gazed at me from behind her stylish glasses as I smiled at her. "Hey, Faith. What's up?" I stepped back to allow her in, glancing at the backpack slung over her shoulder, bulging at the top. "Faith, you okay?" I asked, as she moved past me and into the living room. There, she fell into one of the two armchairs, letting out a deep breath as her eyes locked on the screen.
From under the cushion, I dug out my cigarettes, lighting up the half-smoked one as I watched her.
"Had an argument," she muttered, eyes darting downwards. "With my mum. Again."
"What about?" It wasn't an uncommon occurrence; Faith and her mum seemed to have something new to fight about every week.
"Your party," she said, biting on her bottom lip. "She thinks it's going to be all boys and sex and drugs..."
"She read your diary again?"
Again, not uncommon. Not for Faith's mum, anyway. The moment I had told my mum what she'd done, she'd just stared at me in shock, before commenting that she would never violate my privacy in that way.
Faith gave me a sheepish nod before her eyes flickered back to the TV. "Shame it got cancelled," she muttered, as I reached for the remote.
"Yeah." I pressed play, watching as Peter Petrelli appeared on screen, in all his wonderful handsomeness. In silence, we watched the episode, until it cut to Hiro and Ando. "What does that say?" I asked, squinting to try to read the subtitles.
"Where are your glasses?"
"They broke," I muttered. It was true, sort of. "Then I lost them." Shortly after I'd finished my GCSEs, I had dropped the glasses...against the wall. Not long after they disappeared, and they were too expensive to replace. Well, that's what I kept telling myself, anyway. In truth, glasses just really didn't suit me.
"Oh," she sighed, before telling me what was being said.
"You know you can stay here as long as you need, right?" I said, glancing at her.
A small smile appeared on her face. "Yeah. Thanks, Jay."
X X X
From under her bleached blonde fringe, Dawn stared at me. Her mouth was firmly shut, twisted in a way that meant she was thinking as she watched me inhale on the spliff, eyes blissfully closed.
"You guys ever thought about how blissful and spliff sound sort-of almost similar?" I muttered, as Gwen snapped her head around to look at me.
"Share!" she whined, the combination of weed and alcohol making her act bratty. Her own mouth was twisted, too, though more into a frown than Dawn's.
"It's yours," I drawled, watching as a smile appeared on her face.
"Oh yeah! Gimme!"
I laughed as I passed it over, before a loud crash made us both look at Dawn. She was sprawled on the ground where she'd fallen off her dustbin seat, eyes now fixed on the sky above.
"Dawn?" I muttered, staring at her. "Dawn, are you okay?"
"Fine," she replied.
This was not an everyday occurrence for us. Unlike my brother and his mates, we did not sneak into the garden when my parents were asleep, quietly sneaking around just to get a toke. No, the main reason we were doing it tonight was because it was a party, and because it was there. There because the three of us had given my brother the money, who had contacted his dealer and given us forty quid worth between the three of us. On these rare occasions, we threw caution to the wind, deciding why the hell not.
"The sky looks LOL," Dawn drawled, and I turned to see her now settled comfortably on the ground, head tilted back as she stared upwards as the large black space above us.
"So vast," Gwen sighed, shaking her head as she stubbed the joint out on the wall, before flicking it down the drain.
The three of us remained silent for a few minutes, contemplating the sky and its stars, all the wonders contained within. I couldn't help but smile to myself, wondering if, somewhere, some government and its army were working on something that would enable us to reach across the vast distances of space and discover new planets.
Or new ships. Or new anything. Maybe there were portals between the worlds, maybe there were gates that would let us cross to another galaxy.
Or maybe I'd just been watching too much Stargate.
"Do you think there's a God?" I muttered, fishing my cigarettes from my pocket and lighting one.
"If there is," Dawn said, before letting out a long, drawn-out sigh. "He's one fucked up dude."
Gwen giggled, before turning her body to face me. "No. I have a more important question. Is there any more weed?"
"No," I replied, hearing a slam come from the open window of my attic bedroom. My heart began to thump against my chest as I clicked onto what could have possibly happened.
Faith had been in my room, with some guy, a cutie she'd spotted as soon as he'd walked in. Before the three of us had come out to smoke, I'd seen her take his hand and lead him upstairs. When we got outside, the light in my room had turned on, and I knew they were up there.
The party, the biggest of the three I had so far thrown, had lived up to expectations. It had been shocking how many people could fit into the house. A few had already passed out, spreading out on sofas or on the floor, and now I tried to calculate how I would get past them and up to see if Faith was okay.
Before I could move, Jessica Coombs stumbled out into the garden, her eyes scanning Gwen, then Dawn, before falling on me.
"Jay, Faith's locked herself in the bathroom. She looked really upset."
I nodded, stepping forward as I took a deep breath. "Get upstairs, go tell that prick to get the hell out of my house before I see him. I'll go see to Faith."
Jessica nodded, whirled around and disappeared inside, as I ran a hand through my hair, taking a deep breath.
Jesus, Faith, what's happened now?X X X
On the landing near the bathroom, I saw him. Jessica stood near the bottom of the stairs leading up to my room, and he was just ahead of her, about to step onto the stairs leading down to the landing I was currently on. On the wall hung various prints; Elvis, Bowie, The Beatles, Queen. Dawn and Gwen were on the other stairs, the ones leading downstairs, staring up, eyes darting between me and the guy.
He had a cigarette in the hand and, as I stepped forward, he inhaled, before blowing the smoke out in my face.
"What the bloody hell have you done?" I hissed, feeling the anger snake through my body, feeling it eating away at me as my whole body began to burn up.
"Your friend," he drawled, a small smile stretching across his face, "is a prick tease."
I heard Gwen's gasp the moment I heard the slap. A red mark appeared on his face as the fag fell to the floor, my palm stinging from the impact. Before it could burn the house down, I picked up the fag and placed it between my own lips, mirroring his actions and exhaling in his face.
"Get the fuck out of my house," I growled, my vision at the edges growing white. "I swear to God, if I see you in here again it'll be more than just a slap."
"And if I don't go?" he asked, his voice too cool, too calm for my liking.
Still, I grinned. "You see those guys in the front room? Do you really want to get on the wrong side of them?" I backed off, moving off the stairs and back onto the landing, reaching up and gripping the fag between my fingers. "They are very good mates of mine."
The threat worked. His face paled, leaving the slap-mark standing out, and meekly he nodded before continuing down the stairs. Gwen and Dawn followed him out, Jessica darting off with them, and when they returned, it was to find me at the door to the bathroom, banging my fist against it.
"Faith? Faith, honey, it's me. Can you let me in?"
No reply. Moments later, Gwen and Dawn appeared at the top of the stairs once more, Gwen with a single eyebrow raised.
"Those guys?" she asked.
I grinned at her, despite my body currently shaking like there was no tomorrow. "You have to admit, they can look pretty scary."
"I know," I muttered, second-guessing her next words. "But he doesn't know that." Dawn leant against the wall, quickly sinking down to the floor as I turned back to the door. "Faith?"
"Come on, Fay," Gwen cried. "You missed Jinx's amazing performance."
"To be fair, Missy," Dawn sighed, "I did not think you had it in you."
I shrugged, listening to the sobs squeezing their way through the door and into my ears, each one making me wish I'd kicked the guy in the balls rather than just slapped him. "Yeah, well," I replied, shrugging. To be honest, I didn't have it in me. It was just shock mixed rage mixed with adrenaline. If it had been me, and not Faith, I most likely would have done the same; locked myself in the bathroom and refused, point black, to emerge.
But as far as I was concerned, no one fucked with Faith with me around. She'd been through way too much for that.
"Why?" Her voice was muffled from crying, but I couldn't help but smile when I turned around to see Faith standing in the doorway to the bathroom. "What did she do?"
I stepped forward, wrapping my arms around my best friend and squeezing her gently. When I pulled away, she slid back into the bathroom, allowing me to follow as Dawn and Gwen stayed outside. Faith sat on the lid of the toilet, picking up her glasses from the cabinet and beginning to clean them.
"What happened?" I asked, moving to sit on the cabinet beside her.
"He...he...he called me a slut," she choked out, clearly trying to keep back the sobs that so desperately wanted to escape. "And s-s-s-said no guy would ever...ever...want me." She sighed, pausing before continuing, her head bowed forward. "Just want my pussy. He said I was a prick-tease, and that I'd...I'd..." She stopped, shaking her head before bitterly muttering, "I'd never find anyone. Just because I refused to fuck him."
Faith, with her blonde hair and small stature, looked, sometimes, too innocent for the world. But the truth was, once you got to know her, you realised that being small and having blonde hair did not an innocent make. It still didn't stop me from cringing at her choice of words, though.
"Good for you," I said, trying to muster as much cheer into my voice as I could. I stood, twisting my body to face her and, with a large smile, held my hand out to her. "Come on, I know what will cheer you up."
X X X
Gwen's eyes were fixed on my hands as I sprinkled the weed across the tobacco. Holding a Lambert between her fingers, she flicked the ash into the tray in the middle of the table.
"Thought you said there weren't any left?" she drawled, a small smile lighting up her whole face.
I shrugged. "Emergency supply." My eyes darted to Faith. "And this is an emergency."
Gwen just rolled her eyes as I took the joint between my fingers and finished rolling. Standing, I nodded to the pair.
They followed me outside. Dawn had passed out already, sprawled on the landing between the bedrooms. Gwen sat on the dust bin, as I leant against the wall, Faith standing near the door. Not long later and I had the joint lit, inhaling deeply on it before blowing the smoke out.
Faith's eyes remained locked on the joint.
Once I'd had a few drags, I offered it to Faith. She shook her head.
"I don't do drugs."
She never had. The accounts in her diary were more about me, Gwen and Dawn smoking the occasional joint, not her. Her mother saw me as a bad influence but as far I was concerned, I'd watched out for Faith more often than not, had steered her safely home when she'd had too much to drink, had been there as a shoulder to cry on when things got too bad.
"You sure?" I asked. "I mean, come on, Fay, when have I ever led you astray?"
She rolled her eyes as I laughed, twisting my body so the joint was facing Gwen. As she reached out, to my surprise, Faith's fingers appeared, slowly taking the joint from my hands. Both of us turned to stare at her as she inhaled, eyes squeezed shut.
As she blew the smoke out, I could have sworn I saw a dragon take shape. Faith's eyes watered as she coughed, her face growing red, as I wondered if certain cultures would have pegged the dragon as a bad omen.
"Well," she coughed, staring at the joint with a mixed expression. "It is an emergency."