Music in the Forest

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MaryGold

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#1
Annabeth Fawn
It rained. Betsey was particularly fond of the rain, especially the after rain. When she exited her house after it rained, the air always smelled like roses thanks to the rose bushes her mother had planted in their yard. The scent in the air was a pleasant surprise that always lifted her mood, if only a little, after her mother had gave her some cutting remark. Remarks that she thought she would have been used to by now, but every now and in then the woman would say something that hit too close to home and left her somber the entire day. And today was no exception.

Betsey did something stupid, she spilled tea on her mother’s breakfast plate. Before the older blonde had even said anything, her cold eyes emulated something near to repulsion and that was enough to make her want to shrivel up. It wasn’t just that mistake, but all the mistakes and all the problems that Betsey caused. According to her mother, she was the mistake and the problem. A lot of times, her father agreed when stressed. Betsey herself couldn’t help but agree, but that was why she tried harder than anyone else to be better, though, she knew it would never be enough.

Still, that strong scent of roses in the air made her smile softly. She couldn’t help but scoop up a select few fallen petals to add to her scrapbook for later. If she was lucky, the smell would stick to the paper. Only then did it dawn on her that maybe she should by scented paper for her next book. With a slight nod, she decided she would do so once she was finished with her current book and proceeded to carefully place her petals in the side pocket of her pastel blue backpack.

“Everything is okay,” she breathed slowly, though her breath was slightly ragged. No, it’s not. That annoying voice in her head said, she knew better than to lie. Betsey hated lies. She had been told nothing but the truth, so, it made sense to tell herself the truth. Her fist clenched at her sides and she closed her soft blue eyes momentarily. “It will be okay.” Will it? Yes, yes it would. If she didn’t believe it how had she possible made it this far even when it only got worse? Because it would be okay, eventually. And she couldn’t go to school on the verge of packing.

Once the heavy and invisible weight was removed from her chest and she could breathe correctly again, Betsey reopened her eyes and unclenched her fists. Her knuckles had gone white and were only now regaining their color. She raised her hand to check her watch and found she still had some time before school, but that time would be eaten up by the time it took her to walk there. Her mother refused to give her a ride and her father left too early in the morning to work for her to even ask and he rarely offered.

So, she jogged, which she didn’t mind, she liked getting the exercise in. And jogging was something she liked to do. When her mind was a mess, which it so often was, jogging help. In particular, running did, because that was what Betsey does. She runs away.

The fresh cool air felt even cooler when breathed in, but that same breath of hers was caught when she saw the wings of a colorful bird. A hummingbird in particular. It was flying around the flowers of some shop. she didn’t bother to read the name of, and looking every bit magnificent. Her jog slowed and she reached to pull out her phone and take a picture of the creature when she bumped into something, or someone to be precise.

The blonde stumbled back and almost fell on her behind, instead her half opened backpack hit the ground and dropped half of its contents. Blue eyes frantically looked up from the bag and to the face of the person in front of her before averting her gaze and quickly apologizing, “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, that was my fault!” Looking in the face of others was hard, but she couldn’t help but look back at him through the strands of blonde hair. He looked too familiar, handsome, but also terrifying. And fear happened to be something that ruled her actions and her mind most of the time.

 
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lxngdon

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#2
JASPER CARMICHAEL

The first day of school. Fucking fantastic.
Jasper hated school. He had done so for years — six years, in fact, ever since he had started attending in the States. It wasn’t the country or the education system itself that he hated, though. It was because he hadn’t seen the point in attending school ever since his life had really started to fall apart.​
He wasn’t even that bad at school. He was terrible at maths and science — which was just another thing his former physics professor father hated about him — but he was genuinely good at writing and arts. Joss simply didn’t like school because he didn’t see the point in preparing for a future he didn’t believe he had.​
But he went, to keep his father off his back and to spend time with his friends. On that fateful first day of his junior year, Jasper Carmichael was dressed in ripped black skinny jeans, a white T-shirt and a black leather jacket. He had his headphones playing The Neighbourhood in his ears, and he had a cigarette in his hand as he walked to Wyatt’s house to get a ride to school (even if it would have been quicker to walk himself, but he wasn’t going to miss a ride in that beautiful Mercedes of Wyatt’s).​
Because he was daydreaming and his music was loud in his ears, Jasper didn’t notice the girl until he had already crashed into her. He tripped a bit, caught himself, pulled one headphone out and looked down at the profusely apologising blonde with a small frown. If he had been in a bad mood, and if she had been a male, he probably would have lashed out with a shove. But despite school starting today, Joss was rather relaxed — and he would never hit a woman.​
“It’s okay,” he assured her with a small, amused chuckle. His deep British voice rolled out of his mouth, warm and caressing like molten chocolate. He stuck his cigarette in his mouth, then crouched down to gather her things into her bag for her. Unbeknownst to Joss, his favourite guitar pick, a small white one with his mother’s initials on it, fell out of his pocket and onto the pavement.​
Joss straightened up, handed her bag to her and then plucked his cigarette out of his mouth. He blew the smoke off to the side and looked down at her with a genuinely concerned, but mostly amicable expression. Because even if he was a big scary drug addict, and he had a reputation for being quite violent, Jasper Carmichael was a genuinely nice person.​
“Are you alright, love?”
 

MaryGold

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#3
Annabeth Fawn
The hummingbird was long forgotten.
"Love?" Betsey blinked, her already large eyes growing wider at the word. That one word had taken her aback and more surprised than suddenly bumping into him did. It was rare that that word was ever associated with her. In fact, the only person how commonly used the word with her was Lana. Her mother sometimes used it, but only to mock her. Was that it? Was this guy mocking her because she had been clumsy and foolish enough to knock into him? Who was to say she didn't deserve it and she was so used to it that -
His accent was a not an American one. It dawned on her finally. "Oh! Oh! Yeah!" She hurriedly answered as if he read her thoughts or maybe the look on her face. She wasn't very good at hiding her facial expressions, it was highly possible. "I'm perfectly fine. I'm perfectly fine." If not terribly embarrassed. To add to her misunderstanding, she had also repeated herself like fool. Her cheeks were stained a light pink, but that was nothing compared to the heat she was feeling.
And this was why she didn't talk to people. Or at least one of the many reasons. She was clumsy and foolish.
At this point, she would have walked away, but there was a limit to how rude Betsey could be. Besides, he displayed a niceness she hadn't been expecting form a leather clad stoner who according to rumors had a horrifying temper. In spite of all that, some still swooned over it as if it was an extra turn on and simply just liked the idea of bad boy. Sure, she didn't get involved with others, but she listened in well.
The heaviness of the backpack and her own conscience were really the only things that anchored her in the spot she stood. "Thank you, for the uym, yeah . . ." She raised her bag slightly as gesture, but she wasn't being at all sincere. Betsey even continued to look him in the face even though it was difficult. "Again, I'm sorry for ramming into you. Are you okay?"
 
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lxngdon

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#4
JASPER CARMICHAEL

Jasper studied this girl as she fumbled around her sentences, very confused but not allowing that to show. He assumed she was just intimidated by his appearance. A lot of nice girls were — they saw his cigarettes ans his clothes and the dark circles under his eyes and just immediately assumed that he was bad news.​

In a lot of ways, they weren’t wrong.​

She was probably just shy, Joss assumed, since she seemed to not be nervous about him specifically but rather about the situation in general. He noticed this and offered her a small smile. The contradicting thing about Joss was that he could be a total and complete asshole, if he wanted to, and that was what most people assumed he was.​

But in reality, Joss Carmichael was actually a rather kind person. He wasn’t inherently angry or aggressive, nor did he go out of his way to antagonise other people. It wasn’t that he was everyone’s best friend.​

But he had suffered so much in his own life that he didn’t see the point in being deliberately cruel to those who did not deserve it.​

“I’m fine, don’t worry about it,” Joss said to the girl. He took another drag of his cigarette, then butted it out on the pavement and shoved his hands into his pockets. “I’m Jasper Carmichael, by the way. But everyone calls me Joss. Do you go to Casselbrook High?”
 
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MaryGold

a dark fake happy monstrosity
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#5
Annabeth Fawn

So that was his name, Betsey knew it had started with the letter "J". To answer his question, she nodded her head. "I do. I was on my there, but got distracted." By a bird. Of course, she would never admit to that. She was rather secretive about her birdwatching, the girl had been teased enough by some others to not by open about it. Besides, it made her seemed absent-minded to be so easily distracted, which, in truth, she was a lot of times.

"Well then, Joss, I'm Annabeth Fawn. My friends call me Betsey. You can also call me that." Betsey offered a soft smile of her own, it felt a lot more natural than usual. Maybe it was because she was pleasantly surprised about his kindness and didn't feel mock or disgust underneath his words. "I think we share some classes." She added, but the true fact was that she knew they shared classes. He wasn't exactly someone you could easily forget.

After slipping her arms back through the loops of her backpack, she it slipped back on and subtly examined his face better. Which was something she would never dare to do under normal circumstances. However, talking to someone, more so someone of his class, was definitely not "normal circumstances", it was the exact opposite.

He had dark deep eyes, they were fair enough to draw. "Shouldn't you be heading there too?" She slowly asked, pointing a finger ahead. "I mean, it is that way."
 

lxngdon

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#6
JASPER CARMICHAEL

Annabeth Fawn. Betsey. It was pretty and dainty and it suited her. Yes, Jasper noticed her looks — she was beautiful in a doll-like sort of way, or like she just walked off the pages of a storybook. She most certainly was not the type of girl Joss usually found himself in bed with. Not that he was thinking of this girl in that way at all.​
Now that she mentioned it, he was pretty sure that they did in fact share a couple of classes. Well, they had last year at the very least. With the new year’s new timetable it was highly likely that they wouldn’t share any classes at all, but Jasper honestly wasn’t too fazed. It wasn’t like he paid attention to anything but his phone and his cravings in his classes anyway.​
Joss sighed at the mention of school. “Yeah, I’m headed there but I’m getting a ride from my friend, so I’m going the other way for the moment.” Speak of the devil, Joss’s phone rang, the ringtone being the aggressive chorus of Beautiful People by Marilyn Manson, and Joss pulled it out of his pocket to see that the caller ID was Wyatt. He didn’t answer, but he understood the message.​
“Speaking of which, I’d better get going.” Joss pulled another cigarette out of the pack in his pocket, lit up, took a drag and then smiled at her. “See you around, love.”
And with that, he put his other headphone in and turned, proceeding to make his way to Wyatt’s house completely oblivious to the fact that his guitar pick was still laying on the floor.​
 

MaryGold

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#7
Annabeth Fawn

"See you," Betsey nodded and sent a slow half wave his way. She waited a whole minute, even looking at her rose dialed watch to be certain, before turning around and peeking at him one last time. She only saw his back, something she was very familiar with, and it was a whole lot easier than being face to face. But his figure, now farther away, only reestablished in her mind that she had actually talked to a real person without sounding brusque, freaking out or running away.
Instead, she sounded foolish and she was clumsy, not to mention she embarrassed herself. Betsey would have kicked her leg or beat herself up about it. After all, it only reinforced her reasons for avoiding social interactions, but Joss had been so nice about it, she momentarily had forgotten it herself. A very welcomed surprise. On the plus side, she hadn't trembled, lost her breath, or any other horrid effects that came about during any social interactions. The only thing sweaty about her was her palms, a fact she only now cam to realize.
Betsey could have patted herself on the back. For what? Doing something that normal people do on the regular basis? It was stupid, yet she was still happy about and wiped her sweaty hands on her scalloped shorts. He most likely wouldn't keep it mind, it was a random meeting and conversation that held no meaning. So, she too shouldn't dwell on it too much, either.
Just as Betsey began to move again, she paused mid-step when the light of the sun was reflected off a small item on the ground. She put her foot back down and leaned over to pick up the item to discover it to be a guitar pick. The initials were totally unfamiliar to her, they weren't Joss's, but she but it could have belonged to him. It certainly wasn't there before he came along.
"You forgot your -" mumbled Betsey as she whipped around. No one was there. "Hm." She would be late for school if she went after him, nor did she have idea where he was now. It only made sense that she should return it to him during break period in school. But she would worry about that later.
After pocketing the pick, she ran ahead to her destination.
 

lxngdon

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#8
JASPER CARMICHAEL
As intended, Joss got a ride with his best friend Wyatt, a short but bulky Puerto Rican dude whose family owned about half the real estate in Casselbrook. They were obnoxiously wealthy, hence why their delinquent son did his drug deals out of the trunk of a Mercedes. He was also the reason Joss was still able to get cocaine, but that luxury was sparse here, even with a rich best friend.​
On the way to school, they picked up Tessa, the third component to the Holy Trinity of Hell. Tessa was a thin, beautiful, incredibly gay girl who grew up in a poor and dangerous neighbourhood and was thus as tough as nails. She was their best friend, and she was quite often the one to get the boys out of trouble.​
They went to school, got their timetables, mourned that they only had PE all together, and parted ways. Joss didn’t have any classes with Wyatt until second period, nor Tessa until fifth, so he went to Math alone. And there, he was reminded of how much he fucking hated school.​
Joss trudged through his lessons that day, only taking notes when a teacher glared at him and all around having an unpleasant time. He hated the stupidity of these classes where he was forced to learn completely useless information. He hated the eagerness of half the students to obtain this redundant education. He just wanted out. He wanted to go literally anywhere else but here.​
Lunch was his only reprieve because that was when he got to catch up with all of his friends. The group went to the spot they had claimed in their freshman year — the shade of a large sycamore tree, which was far away enough from the building that they could sit under it and smoke their drugs without attracting attention, as long as they sat facing the opposite way.​
That was exactly what they were doing. The pack of about ten teens was sitting under the tree, sprawled out and passing a blunt between them all. Joss was sitting between Wyatt and Tessa like always. But this time, he had a girl in his lap.​
She was sixteen, incredibly beautiful, and currently running her hands through his mess of hair. Her name was Marisol Estevez. She was half-Mexican, half-Colombian, she loved kittens, her alcohol of choice was Smirnoff Ice, and she had been Joss’s summer fling that year.​
It had all started when he had gone to a house party at the start of the summer with Wyatt and Tessa, and after hours of flirting and non-child appropriate dancing, ended the night in Marisol’s bed. For the next few months, they had met up regularly, once or twice or even three times a week. It wasn’t anything more than just casual fun, but that was okay, because it was exactly what the both of them wanted. Marisol, Joss had learned, wasn’t the type to want to be tied down to one guy. And after Lara, Joss didn’t know if he was capable of having a proper relationship again.​
No, what he had with Marisol was purely no-strings-attached, and it was the kind of symbiotic relationship that they both needed. To Marisol, Joss was a hot older guy who could make her friends jealous, get her into all the cool parties, get her the drugs and booze she wanted, and just give her someone to have fun with without caring if she slept with other guys. And to Joss, Marisol was a warm body he could lose himself in, just like he would with drugs or alcohol, and she didn’t expect anything from him other than the aforementioned benefits.​
Marisol came into possession of the joint, took a drag from it, and then passed it to Joss. “Are you going to Reece’s party on Saturday, baby?” she asked him, her blended accent thick and sensual.​
“Probably.” Joss took a drag of the illicit substance and then handed it to Wyatt. “I won’t have anything else to do.”
“You could do your homework,” Wyatt told Joss. They stared at each other for about three seconds, and then cracked up laughing.​
 
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MaryGold

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#9
Annabeth Fawn

Why was it that everyday of school was so agonizingly slow and torturous? It was always worst after any sort of break when she was left alone to do absolutely nothing but work at her family's bakery. Ever since Lana had moved away two years ago, she had been stripped of her only friend. The wound it left in her felt especially fresh since her best friend couldn't visit her during the break. And she wasn't one to go around to try and make friends of her own, whatever little confidence in making friends had been lost when Alex abandoned her.
Like every other day, she bared through it once receiving her timetables. Every class, Betsey remained quiet and only talked, if you called talking stuttering and repeating herself over and over again, when the teacher called upon her. Afterwards, she would bury her red face in her arms and quietly try to take notes. Luckily, the teachers rarely called on her, they were most likely just as tired of her as anyone else. And Betsey was already a good student, she took her grades seriously. It was one of the only things she could do right and show her parents that she wasn't completely useless.
Sometimes, Betsey's mind would wander away from her studies and she'd sketch whatever was on her mind or invoked a feeling within in her. Today's drawing happened to be dark brooding eyes. Surprisingly, Betsey had been able to finish it before it was snatched up after class by Casey Baxter. She had been wandering when he'd harass her, they didn't share many classes together so he didn't have much of a chance to bother her.
On the bright side, he had a girlfriend this semester, which meant he now had a distraction and threw aside her notebook for Betsey to pick up as soon as said girlfriend walked in. The only other time he bothered Betsey was when he knocked down her books when he was passing by in the hall. As annoying as it was, she was used to it by now.
Lunch break was a breath of fresh air. During the break, she ate outside and took the time to sketch. This time, however, she planned on returning the guitar pick before she stalled any longer and would never be able to. And she knew exactly where he was, the stoners tree. At least, that was what some people called it.
Something must have possessed her to willingly march over to the group of ten or so kids who were either high or getting high. Perhaps it was because of the successful conversation she had that morning that gave her some false sense of courage. Whatever it was, it vanished as soon as she was close enough to make out their faces.
What on earth was she doing?
Betsey did not belong there. She was dressed in white scalloped shorts, white tights, a pink blouse and pastel pink martins. She was in contrast to the entire group. Again, why had she approached a whole group of teenagers? She realized her mistake too late, she couldn't move in any other direction but them, glancing at each face until she found Joss with a girl in his lap. His girlfriend? She was beautiful.
"E-Excuse me?" Oh god, she was already fumbling with her words. Betsey picked with her fingers, quiet for a moment, thinking of what to say next. Her mind was blank. Why had she come over again? The guitar pick. "Oh!" She reached a shaky hand into the pocket of her shorts and pulled out the pick. "You dropped this. Dropped ..."
 

lxngdon

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#10
JASPER CARMICHAEL
It wasn’t often that the group under Stoner Tree got any visitors. They were sort of a niche group, as most of their friends went to other schools and many were too afraid to approach them, as they lived under the assumption that they were all violent drug dealers. Usually, the only visitors they had were kids looking for some illicit substances.​
So when Betsey approached them, she was met with ten pairs of scrutinising and suspicious eyes as the kids tried to figure out what she wanted, whether or not she was going to rat them out. A few of those gazes softened when she began to stumble around her words, but the extra suspicious ones continued to glare.​
When her intentions became clear, and she started speaking to Joss, the curly haired guy’s eyebrows raised and his slightly red eyes travelled down her arm to rest on the pick in her hand. The drugs were just beginning to set in, so it took him a few seconds before he realised what she was saying to him, and what she was holding.​
“Oh!” he exclaimed softly. He patted Marisol’s thigh to indicate he wanted her to move, and when she did, he got to his feet — stumbling a little because of the drugs — and took the pick from her hand. “Shit, I didn’t even realise I’d lost this. Thank you, love.”
“Who’s this, Joss?” Tessa asked, her brown eyes studying the nervous girl with a newfound interest as everyone realised Joss knew her, and thus she was cool.​
“This is Betsey, I met her this morning when we crashed into each other.” Jasper chuckled, then turned back to the girl. “Do you wanna sit with us?”
As he asked this, Marisol tugged on his hand and handed the joint to him. He thanked her, took a drag of it, then blew the smoke into the wind. “We’re not doing meth, I promise.”​
 

MaryGold

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#11
Annabeth Fawn

With every eye on her, Betsey was frozen in place until Joss had finally taken back his pick. "Your welcome." A weight was lifted from her shoulders and she was able to breathe again, exhaling a shallow breath. When had she started holding her breath in the first place? Betsey hadn't the slightest idea but her chest wasn't as tight as it was before and so she could easily say she felt a lot more comfortable although he invited er to sit with them all.
"Me?" Her thoughts were vocalized before she could even think it through. Was she the only one who saw how sorely she did not belong or how uncool she was in comparison of them all. Or perhaps they were all high and their heads weren't clear enough to think about it, that was all she could see. On the bright side, if the drugs were kicking in, they probably wouldn't have much of a silly impression of her if she didn't something stupid.
Truth be told, she didn't want to say no and it was a lot harder to do when everyone was looking at her. "Okay, I've got nothing better do." Truer words had never been spoken. Betsey lowered herself to the grounded and folded her legs before wiping away a drop of sweat from behind her ear. She could clearly remember the last time she spent a lunch break with another person.
It was lunch, but she wasn't the least bit hungry, but she hadn't brought anything with her anyway. Her blues wandered from Joss to Marisol to the joint now in his hands. The last time she had seen one was when Lana was still around and took a hit before she went to parties. Betsey saw the appeal of it, but not what it left one afterward. "Have you ever got got caught? I mean, like, when you go back to class." Hell, she didn't know how long the effects lasted.
 

lxngdon

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#12
JASPER CARMICHAEL

Joss was quite happy when Betsey decided to sit with them, and that showed in the bright smile that graced his dreary face. Joss was a whole lot happier when he was high, purely because the drugs killed enough brain cells to make him temporarily forget how much his life fucking sucked. When he was sober, he couldn't escape the demons from his past that were haunting him -- his sister's murder, his mother's death, and his sexual assault in juvie. Nor could he escape the aggression of his father, when he was actually home.​
But when Jasper Carmichael was high, it was like there was no care in the world. He was no longer the aggressively ticking time bomb he normally was -- he was chill and mellow. Well, that was the effects of weed on him, anyway. Cocaine, his drug of choice, was a bit different. The nose candy made him feel like he was bouncing off the damn walls, which often made him overconfident and got him into a whole lot of trouble. It also made him feel invincible, which lead him to start a lot more fights. But he loved it. He couldn't stop himself from doing so.​
Jasper sat back down, this time nudging Wyatt over a little so Betsey could squeeze in between the two boys. Marisol climbed back into Joss's lap, and he habitually draped an arm around her waist, letting his large hand rest on the curve of her hip. She settled for slinging one arm around his shoulders, but talking to one of her friends on the other side of the circle.​
"I mean, it's not like they don't know we're high," Joss reasoned as he passed the joint down to Wyatt. "But they stopped caring ages ago."
"Honestly, if we showed up to any after-lunch classes sober, they'd be surprised," Wyatt reasoned. He held the joint out to Betsey after taking a drag of it himself. "Want some?" Wyatt, just like the rest of the completely wasted stoners gathered in the congregation, seemed completely oblivious to the fact that Betsey was definitely not the type to dally in illegal substances. Or, well, that was whatever rational part in Jasper's brain that was left was telling him.
 

MaryGold

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#13
Annabeth Fawn

Annabeth only wished she could say that she didn't get exactly what they meant, but she did. The teachers, her mother, herself included usually always got tired and stopped caring. Naturally, she wasn't just talking about weed and getting high and class. That was one thing she couldn't relate to and would most likely never be able to. Drugs were one reason out of a hundred why she didn't go to parties. Plus, it made some people out to be awful, the went for excessive drinking.
"No thanks, I don't smoke or anything. I'd be killed." By either her parents or her teachers, who would definitely snitch out to her parents. If a "promising student" like herself went out of line, they'd report her so she'd stay on track. Her mother would only see it as proof that she was doing absolutely nothing with herself and was in fact trash. Her father ... he'd be disappointed in her. And she couldn't bare that thought. "Plus, I don't think I could hold myself up quite as well as the rest of you. Rest of you."
A little chuckle escaped her mouth, it was a nervous one. Being situated between Joss and Wyatt made it a little harder to subtly look at either of them. And she couldn't stop herself from taking peeks at the former. He was the one she was more familiar with compared to everyone else. B etsey was starting to think maybe she shouldn't have sat down.
 
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lxngdon

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#14
JASPER CARMICHAEL

Wyatt just shrugged. “Suit yourself,” he said, handing the joint down to the next person, before he reclined on his back on the grass. “Someone wake me up when the bell rings.”
As if on cue, the bell rang. Everyone laughed at Wyatt as he loudly swore and sat up with a disgruntled expression on his face, clearly annoyed that his nap had been prohibited.​
“You can sleep in class,” Tessa assured him with a dreary chuckle. As everyone, including Marisol, began to stand up and make their way back to the main building of the school, Joss stood up and held his hand out to Betsey in an offer to help her to her feet.​
“Sorry if my friends are a bit forward,” he said. “They’re nice, I promise.”
 

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#15
Annabeth Fawn
"Oh, you don't have to convince me." Betsey was hesitant take hold of hand at first, but after simply thinking it'd be rude, she took it and stood back onto her feet. Without having to force it, she smiled at him, not because it was polite but when thought about, it all was a little comical. "They did offer to share with me who that just met and I'm sure that stuff isn't free." They were nice, a lot nicer than they first appeared to her.
Her smile grew smaller the moment she released his hand and she came to realize it was back to class. Unfortunately, she had English next, she hated English class, not the subject. "Back to class we go." She rocked onto the tips of her toes subconsciously . "Thank you for inviting me to sit with you."
Betsey sat with a group of people and hadn't completely dreaded it the whole time nor did she pass out. She had to admit, her behavior was a lot better than it was from when they bumped into one another. She would be lying if she said that she wasn't at least a tiny bit giddy about it.
"See you around," said Betsey brushing back a strand of hair, and sweat, behind her ear and hurrying to the general direction of their school.
 

lxngdon

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#16
JASPER CARMICHAEL

The first week of school crawled by, with Jasper hating every minute of it besides the lunchtimes he spent with his friends. He didn’t share any classes with Betsey, either, so he didn’t get to see much of her. Not that he suspected she wanted to see all that much of him anyway.​
Joss’s Friday night had been spent minding his own business in his bedroom until his father had drunkenly barged in and started to yell at him for a dirty glass that had been left on the coffee table. Much was said between the two of them, and it ended with a black eye of Beck’s and a very sore shoulder of Joss’s. But then they had both gone to sleep and given each other tired glances the next morning.​
Their fights always went like that. They would yell and say terrible things to each other, and then they would scuffle and quite often one of them would end up badly hurt. But the next morning when they were both sober, they would think about it and realise that they still loved each other. They were just both incredibly traumatised and broken men, and they had to stick together.​
Joss knew it wasn’t healthy, and that in many ways his father was entirely in the wrong and should not be excused for his actions. But he also knew that he himself was in the wrong in many ways too, and that Leanne Carmichael would never have forgiven him if he had left his father in the lurch during this particularly dark period of his life.​
That Saturday, Joss was riding his bike around Casselbrook without any particularly destination in mind, or any clue of what he was going to do when he arrived wherever. It was a big bike, which for many years had been too big for him to properly ride. He had nearly killed himself on it countless times. In fact, even now he could probably do with a slightly smaller bike, but he loved it. He loved the scuffed paint and the noisy chain and the rusty bell that hadn’t been rung in years. He would continue to ride it for as long as he possibly could.​
Joss rode one handed while he smoked a cigarette. His hair was rushing in the wind and for once, he wasn’t listening to music because he liked to experience the noise of the real world when he rode. He made a left turn into Statton Park, and began to slowly cruise along as he took a deep drag of his smoke. Everything was peaceful out here, and Jasper loved it.​
 

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#17
Annabeth Fawn

Betsey ran so much that it was practically excessive. Or at least that was what Lana had said, the girl was afraid Betsey was anorexic a multitude of times. And Betsey was sure that her best friend was simply allergic to exercise. It wasn't as if the small blonde girl was obsessed with her weight or health, she wasn't obsessed with her calorie intake and she never skipped a meal unless her mother forced her to. Betsey just liked to run. A lot.
Running, jogging, whatever you wished to call it, was something she did every day. It wasn't always planned, but whenever she was particularly stressed or needed to clear her messy head or needed to sleep it was the one way to go. She'd be breathless, focus on nothing but the road and run until her legs were to heavy to do anymore or until they gave out. She tried to keep a balance.
And after every first week of school, Betsey always needed a long and tiring jog. She had somehow been able to slip out the door without confronting her mother. That in itself was a blessing and a curse because she'd be confronted by the Fawn mother later if she was at home at all. There were some days where the woman was mysteriously missing, but Betsey didn't pry into. Her mother's business was none of her own and the woman made that much clear.
So, early that morning Betsey had started her jog to Statton Park and through Statton Park, dressed in black leggings and a grey zip-up hoodie that was almost three times her size. She had put her hair in a ponytail but it was cover by the hood she pulled over her head. Betsey didn't like to be recognized nor bothered when on her run, she was too focused on the road ahead to bother with anything else.
The only thing that did pull her out of her stupor and catch her attention was the sound of bike chains behind her. On instinct Betsey cried, "oh, don't run me over!" Just as she turned her head to view the rider. It was Joss. "Oh." Betsey slowed down so that she was at his side instead. "Hi."
They met again, but this time she was sweaty and pink in the face. On impulse she stopped running.
 

lxngdon

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#18
JASPER CARMICHAEL

When Jasper finally noticed that the blonde girl drowning in that hoodie was Betsey — which was pretty clearly indicated by the way she cried out — he slowed to a stop beside her. He had to slide off the seat to put his feet on the ground, but he did so with ease, and he shot the girl a smile.​
“Hey, Blondie,” he said to her good-naturedly. “Fancy seeing you here.”
It was really quite nice to see her. Her nervousness and general fear of the world around her had intrigued and worried her just the same. And they were traits that he recognised in her because his own sister, Stephanie, had exhibited them before ...​
Thinking about Stephanie sent a pang to Joss’s heart, so he pushed her out of his mind, took a drag of his cigarette, and turned his gaze back to Betsey. “So where are you hurrying off to?”
 

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#19
Annabeth Fawn

Briefly, the said Blondie, was hunched over with the palm of her hands pressed against her knees to hold her up while she tried to regain a normal breathing pattern again. It didn't take but a few seconds for her to whip back up and use the sleeve of her hoodie to wipe away the sweat underneath her chin with a grin she hadn't been wearing before.
Betsey was not anxious or afraid to run into Joss, but pleasantly surprised.
Admittedly, she was still nervous, but all around still happy. Even if she said or did something stupid, he wouldn't fault her for it. On the bright side, Betsey already exerted a lot of energy into running and couldn't overthink her every move. "Wherever this road leads down I suppose." She breathed, placing her hands on her waist and shrugging her shoulders.
"Probably to Oz." Betsey glanced at his bike. "Were you headed there too?"
 

lxngdon

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#20
JASPER CARMICHAEL

There was something about Annabeth Fawn that was just so innocently adorable. Something naive, something sweet and pure and free from corruption or contamination. Joss was almost scared he would break her if he spent too much time with her.​
He took a glance down the path in question, and shook his head. "No Oz for me, I'm more of a Narnia type of guy," he chuckled. "But, no, in all seriousness, I was just riding around for fun." He did that quite a lot. Casselbrook most definitely was not the most positive place in the whole world to Jasper, since the only memories he had of this place had been formed after his mother and sister's death. But he liked to explore it. He liked to find new places, new natural wonders such as interesting trees or caves or coves at the beach. It was, landscape- and architecture-wise, a beautiful place, and it was aesthetically close enough to England to make him feel nostalgic for his own country.​
Joss could see that Betsey was quite tired, so he lead her off the path and to an expanse of bright green grass a few feet away. He let his bike teeter onto its side and then sat down, finishing off his cigarette and butting it out on the underside of his shoe. He stowed the filter away so he could put it in the bin later, then leaned back on his palms, and turned his head to take a glance at the blonde girl.​
"So, Blondie, when you're not running and going to school, what do you do with your spare time?"