Chapter 2 – A Black Cloud

POV: Jesse

I stared blankly at the face in front of me before rolling my eyes and looking down at my sociology text book. I wasn't really reading it, obviously, but there was no where else for me to safely focus my attention so not to be stuck gaping disgustedly at the arrogant and smug face of Shawn Myerson gazing at me as he waited for an answer. Still staring down at text detailing the Social Structure, I gave him his answer; I flipped him the bird.

"Come on girl, stop playing," was the smooth response on Shawn's part. I scoffed; about as smooth as sand paper.

"Who says I'm playing?" I absently turned the page. Shawn placed his hand palm down on top of it. I rolled my eyes once again and granted him the pleasure of seeing my face—what? I look good today. As proven by my being hit on. Oh don't act like you don't know when you look good either, the difference is I've got the balls to admit it.

"You're playing hard to get."

I smiled dryly, "No, I can assure you I'm not. More like impossible to get."

He grinned, "What? You think you're too good for me or something?"

Think? Oh sweetheart, not at all; I know I'm too good for you. He wouldn't accept that answer though, so my response was somewhat different. "I think you're talking aloada shit. Now get your hand off my book."

"You weren't even reading it."

"Prove it. Move!" I shoved his hand away and dipped my eyes to the pages.

"How about you chill out a bit and I take you out tonight?"

"Er, how about no?" I sneered. My eyes dipped back to the page but unfortunately were drawn back up to his face when he spoke again, his voice still irritating, still so sure.

"Girl, come on." He was smiling in an overconfident way that made me want to twitch with disgust. Twitch, twitch.

"Ok, my name isn't girl. I do, surprisingly, have a name."

"I know that." A flicker of panic flashed through his eyes. Realisation dawned and I smirked; he didn't know my name. Unbelievable! We'd been in the same class for two months, only one row of seats separating us, and on top of that he had been eyeing me up for over 4 weeks.

"Shawn what's my name?" I asked calmly, closing the book and crossing my hands over it. I looked at him expectantly.

"Er, what sort of question is that?" he countered with a nervous laugh.

I cocked my head to the side, "One I'd like you to answer." I smiled pleasantly.

"Er, your name. I know you name…" his eyes darted about.

I waited patiently, "Of course you do. And it is…?"

"Jesse!" he blurted, his eyes looking back up at me from where they had briefly been staring at the desk. No, wait, not at the desk, I realised. I looked down. At my text book. My text book with my name written clearly in black ink across the top. This guy was incredible! "Your name's Jesse." He repeated.

I smiled approvingly, misleading him. "It is. Wow," I breathed, leaning forward a bit with a softer facial expression. He leaned in to me with a huge grin that showed how well he thought he had gotten away with it. "I'm sorry I didn't believe you," I coyly tucked a strand of my layered hazel hair behind my ear.

He shrugged self-importantly, "It's alright; I know some guys are real jerks."

I nodded, making sure I looked as if I was glad he understood. "Yeah, they are. You're obviously different though…" I made a small, girlish, breathy noise. I could see something stir in his eyes. God, boys were just so…ugh, boyish!

"So about that date…?" he prompted, looking at me through a haze of testosterone.

I smiled secretly and shifted forward a little once more, my lips now officially edging into his personal space. "The date?" I echoed, the corners of my lips turned up a tad. And I whispered, "The only date I would be willing to give you would keep you delightfully regular." His face immediately fell when he realised I had been playing him the whole time. I gave a fake sympathetic smile and slapped his cheek gently, "Sorry buddy, I don't date Academy boys, especially ones that don't know my name unless I'm wearing a label." Flashing a cocky smile I snatched up my text book, picked up my bag and selected a different and, thankfully, isolated table at the back of the room. There I rested, alone—there is a god—until a substitute teacher arrived and began to teach the class. My day had begun.

By lunch time I wasn't in the best of moods, in fact, a bad mood looked pretty good to me right then. When I sunk on to a cafeteria chair, my black cloud hovering forebodingly over my lunch tray, three pairs of eyes turned to me with concern.

"Uh oh," the owner of one pair vocalized, looking me over with a slight shift of wariness; they knew what a dreadful mood did to me and they knew I could rarely handle one without spreading it around a bit. "Someone's having a bad day," they observed.

I sent the perceptive associate a withering look, before tugging on my acid-burnt shirt sleeve and presenting my broken charm bracelet, "Gee, d'ya think? Robert Browning everyone, the Academy's most sharp-eyed pupil." I offered sarcastically, clapping half-heartedly before sneering and reaching for my bottle of water. I twisted the lid as the other three people sitting at the table laughed, but then let my mouth drop open in disbelief when the cap flew off and I split water all down my already downtrodden sleeve. I gritted my teeth and told myself to count to 10.

An attentive arm slipped around me and I sighed dejectedly before resting my head on my best friend's shoulder. Bridget gave a tiny chuckle while she stroked my hair briefly. I frowned, "Glad you find this amusing," a pout evident in my voice. She chuckled again.

"Aww, what happened?"

I sighed once more, sat up straight, and retold my hideous morning, looking at Bridget, Rob and Jon in turn as I relayed the events. "First period my only decent teacher was sick so we had this shitty substitute who was absolutely no use when this Shawn guy kept hitting on me. In chemistry some ass-wipe spilt fucking acid on my shirt, which I now need to buy another of, and on my way to rush to lunch I broke my charm bracelet, only fuck knows how!" I gestured to it where the bracelet sat in a puddle of its own misery next to my lunch tray, its clasp split, unfixable. "Oh!" I began to add, remembering another dark event when I saw the person involved swish by with a self-satisfied smirk. "And I had words with Darcy," I hissed, watching through narrow eyes as Ms D. Chase gracefully sat herself down at her usual lunch table.

All three of my friends looked over to where the raven haired barbie sat, shooting her glares that she ignored before she turned to fawn over some blonde guy to her right. I shook my head disapprovingly and decided that eating something might make me feel better; I reached immediately for the chocolate dessert perched in the far corner of my tray. Scooping up a spoon I began to shovel it in while my friends turned back to me and started to make me feel better.

"Well forget about her, the girl's a whore." Jon offered kindly—the perception of it being 'kindly' depends of course on whether you liked Darcy or me, and yes, it was definitely a one or the other situation—before pulling a chocolate bar out of his pocket and setting it on my tray with a wink. I smiled back at him, appreciative of his thoughtfulness. Bridget smiled at our exchange and I could tell she was amused by the fact that, strangely enough, it was when I was in a good mood that Jon and I bickered, and when I was grumpy/bitchy that we got on best. Well what can I say? I'm a special kinda gal. And no, not special needs, thank you very much, jackass.

Rob nodded his agreement of Jon's comment and rested his hand protectively on his chocolate pudding that was identical to mine. I caught sight of the gesture and laughed, feeling better already; the rate at which chocolate prompts the release of serotonin was a miracle. "Don't worry Rob; I don't need as much chocolate as all that. Your dessert is safe." I shot him an amused smirk. He smiled back brightly, looking proud at having saved his dessert. "Anyway," I began, snatching up Jon's surrendered candy bar and my charm bracelet, getting to my feet, "I need to go change into my spare shirt. I'll see you all last period." Last period Philosophy—it was how we all knew one another as a clique, you know, with the exception of Bridget and me sharing a room that is. They all nodded their agreement and after a moment I was gone, heading back to my dorm room.

When I got to the elevators I pressed the button and slipped my hands into my pockets while I waited. My fingers brushed against cool delicate metal and I sighed as I pulled out my damaged bracelet. It had been a present from my parents three years ago, a gift they had given me the day before I left for Hilton, telling me that if I ever got homesick I should just look at the sweet little charms and know that they missed me too. I was quite close to my parents, and I did miss them, desperately sometimes even, so to see my keepsake of them ruined because I had been hasty and irritable was upsetting.

I could feel the chocolate happiness wearing off as the elevator tinged and I stepped in, putting the charm back into my pocket and deciding I would have to use the money from my next pay check to get it repaired.

After I had changed and devoured my chocolate bar in an attempt to cheer myself up again the lunch bell had already chimed and I wondered where on earth the time had gone. I rushed from the dorm, thundering down the stairs because I knew the elevator would no doubt take a while to reach my dorm floor, and then burst into the corridor, determined to get to American Literature without being more than 30 seconds later than my other classmates. My Lit. teacher hated me, as much as I hated Darcy Chase I imagined, so if I was even slightly late I knew she'd have my ass in detention for a week. Oh yeah, did I mention she was resolutely strict too? My bad day probably wasn't going to be getting better anytime soon, was it?

As I shuffled at a near run down the hall other students began to spill down that corridor, all trying to dash into their classrooms so as to avoid the same fate that I had a sinking feeling I would be receiving. One guy was rushing a bit too fast, even if he was trying to steer clear of detention, and he came dangerously close to knocking me off my own feet. Luckily—with the only bit of luck I had, I might add—I managed to throw myself out of his way. That was a close one.

And then I slammed into someone else and landed right on my ass, my school bag—typically—falling to the floor also and spewing its contents everywhere.

I just can't catch a fucking break.

I looked up from where I was sprawled on the floor and narrowed my eyes to slits at the person that stood over me, a person that had slammed into me with even more force than I had rushed into them. With my sour-mood-clouded brain I concluded that my throbbing behind, littered schoolwork and now definite detention was all their fault.

"Unless you have a magic wand that will clear my stuff up I suggest you don't just fucking stand there," I spat. The person who was standing over me—the perpetrator—chuckled a little, as if they were actually amused by something. "Did I say something entertaining?" I snarled.

With a smile the person ignored my last comment and shook his arm a little, highlighting the fact that his hand was held out to me and had, I realised, been there for me since I first looked up with seething eyes. "I was waiting to help you up," he offered.

"How gentlemanly," I snipped, getting to my feet on my own. "Knock a girl to the floor and then make amends by helping her up as if she's some stupid rag doll. God, ya know, with my luck this'll actually catch on and soon guys'll be doing it just to meet girls," I rambled, disgusted, as I dusted myself off. There was no way I was going to be on time now—everyone else, I noticed, was already in their classes, leaving an empty hallway bar my scattering of books—so I figured I may as well try to look presentable so I could feed Mrs. Collins a line about seeing another teacher and being stuck with them until they had finished talking with me.

The stranger laughed at my rant and began to scoop up my books as I had suggested he do before I got up. "And ya know, considering that you knocked me over and then proceeded not to apologise, I really don't think it's a good idea for you to laugh at me. I mean, what, have you never heard of politeness before?" I spat, dumping my Philosophy book into my bag.

He chuckled again—unbelievable—and handed me the rest of my books, "I have a feeling you and I have a different idea of politeness," he quipped, smiling widely in a friendly way as if that would make me any less annoyed with him. "But," he began, collecting my stationary and giving me that also. "I, Will, do apologise to you…" he looked at me as if to say 'what's your name?'. When I realised he wasn't going to let go of my pens until I answered I sighed and replied.

"Jesse."

"I, Will, do apologise to you, Jesse, for my appalling lack of spatial ability and also for my rushing which resulted in you landing on the floor." He grinned, amused. "Is that a suitable apology?"

I raised one eyebrow slightly then let it drop. "It was a weird apology. Since when do people insert names?" I took my pens when he released them and stuffed them roughly into my bag before actually doing it up this time.

"Since I was curious." He shrugged.

I laughed cynically, "Oh god, do not turn this into a guy seeks girl thing, I am so not in the mood to deal with that again."

"It happens often I take it?" he asked smiling, one eyebrow raised.

I sneered at him and threw my bag onto my back briskly, "More often than I'd like. Now if you excuse me, I have a detention to accept," I snapped bitterly, huffing as I began to storm off, throwing my chin into the air to create some illusion of dignity that I didn't feel; after all, I'd only just scraped myself off the damn floor, how're you gonna feel dignified after that?

"Strange," he commented, his voice neutral.

Sighing, I turned back to him, holding the strap of my bag out of habit, "What?"

"Oh nothing, I just didn't realise I was so galling to be around that I made getting a detention seem like a more agreeable option."

I jabbed my tongue into my cheek and then let it slap back to its original place. I sent this guy, William, whatever, a blatantly fake smile, part sneer, and replied, "Well you are. See ya," I turned once more and began down the hall, determined this time not to go back even if he happened to call 'I'll give you a million dollars to stay here for five minutes'. Oh alright, so I'm lying, I would totally go back, but I wouldn't be happy about it. Oh, ok, for a cool mill. I would be entir—oh just shut up! Loser.

"It was a pleasure to meet you Jesse," I heard him call after me, humour evident in his voice.

I flipped him the bird over my shoulder. "Bite me." And then I pegged it to class.

A/N: I took the time to write it, you took the time to read it, it'd be nice if you took a couple seconds to tell me if you liked it or not. Much appreciated; mwa!