A Penny For Your Thoughts

I know I woke up before the alarm. The moon was just barely out of sight, leaving me enough time to revel in the warmth of Jason's body. I could feel him pressed against me, his legs tangled with my own. His hot, steady breath played across my forehead, causing my skin to tingle. One of his arms was underneath my body, the other wrapped lazily over my stomach.

Finally having enough of his body against me, I gently wiggled my way out from his sleepy grip. I winced as I stood up, feeling the full impact of what we had done the night before. The memory flashed through my mind as I tried to stop myself from reacting to it. I needed a shower. A cold shower.

As I suppressed another grimace, I felt around for something to wear for a few seconds. I grab the first thing I can find, quickly putting it on before stepping into the hallway, silently moving into the bathroom. As I started the shower, I looked down to see what I had grabbed. It was the pair of boxers that Jason had worn yesterday. I had to force down the memories of last night again or else deal with them for the rest of today.

I let the water wash over my skin, relaxing under the stream. I heard someone knocking on the door, giving me only that warning before the door opened and closed, a figure walking into the room. I let out my breath as I recognized Jason's silhouette.

"You don't normally take showers this early in the morning," he muttered, still half-asleep, as he pulled the curtain aside. I felt my heart stop as he climbed into the shower behind me, grabbing for the soap.

"What are you doing?" I hissed, blushing as he reached past me for the soap.

"No use waking Granny with two showers this early," he said, unfazed by how small the shower felt with two people crowding in it. I could feel him constantly brushing against me, leaving small trails of goosebumps whenever he did.

"You seem awfully nervous right now," Jason whispered, soaping up his chest as he spoke. It took all my effort not to stare at his body. Belatedly I felt my fingers brushing against his stomach muscles, feeling them draw taunt as he let out a small breath, his eyes half-closing. He grabbed hold, pulling me in close as he planted his lips firmly on my own.

I snapped out of the daze it caused as I felt one of his hands brush against my ass. Pulling away, I felt my face heat up as I saw the look of confusion in Jason's eyes.

"Not before school, okay? I don't want people giving me odd looks because I was limping." Jason nodded, although the disappointment never left his eyes.

There was a huge crowd of people right inside the cafeteria. Jason and I pushed through, trying to reach our table, when I spotted who was at the center of the crowd.

"Where did you find those pictures?!" Maggie shrieked, her face pale. Her tears left little trails down to her chin as she glared at Meredith and Allie. I pulled Jason to a stop, wanting to watch what was unfolding.

"You mean these pictures?" Meredith smirked, flicking her wrist to give her ample view of the photos. Maggie made a lunge at her.

"Give those to me right now, bitch!" Meredith fell to the ground with Maggie on top of her, tearing at the photos. By the time Allie had pulled the two apart, the photos were strewn across the floor in several small pieces. Maggie was no longer pale, instead red-faced and heaving. Meredith was the same, although with a scratch across her cheek.

"You had no right showing people those!" Maggie cried, pointing accusingly at the pair. I felt a pang of sympathy for her, knowing what those pictures had contained. I wanted to look away, wishing I hadn't seen any of what had just happened, but it was all too intriguing to not watch.

"You had no right doing what you did to Chris!" Allie shouted back. Maggie seemed surprised by the counter.

"He could've spared himself if he had just stayed away from Justin!"

"And what does Justin have to do with this?"

"EVERYTHING!" Maggie started to storm off, tears streaming from her eyes, when she saw me in the crowd.

"This is all your fault Chris! Every last bit of it!" And with that, she ran out of the cafeteria, sobbing. I could feel eyes boring down at me, filled with curiosity, scorn, and a bit of disgust. I had to get away from this.

"Chris!" Allie and Meredith moved towards me as they called my name, pulling me along as the followed Maggie out of the cafeteria. They led me up to the staircase that Jason and I had promised to take things slow at. It seemed so long ago when we sealed that deal with a kiss, but at the same time it felt like it had only just happened.

"Chris, did you see all that?" Meredith asked a bit nervously. I looked from her to Allie, then back again.

"Was I not supposed to?"

"I guess it wouldn't matter either way," Allie said, glancing towards Jason. I looked behind me to see him giving her a wink. Something was raising in my gut and I didn't like where it was going at all.

"Don't tell me that…you didn't plan this, did you?" I asked, raising my voice. Jason shrunk behind me and I could see in his eyes that he didn't want to tell me he had while not lying to me. It all made sense now, or at least most of it did. Jason was behind the pranks, the pictures, the argument between Maggie and Blake. I suddenly felt like he wasn't the same Jason I knew.

"I can't believe this! And you two joined in on the plan?" I turned back to Allie and Meredith, seeing them standing up against me defiantly.

"Well of course we did! We can't let someone do that to you without any retribution," Meredith said. If those two were in on it, how many others were? Probably Dillian, if the pranks were any indication, and if Dillian was involved, so was Rick. And how else were they going to get so much dirt on Maggie except through Justin?

"So you did the same thing to her as she did to me? That seems awfully cold, doesn't it?" Allie turned her eyes away from me, but Meredith bore on.

"What better way to get back at her?"

"I can't believe you people!" I stormed past Allie and Meredith, dashing up the stairs.

"Chris, wait!" Jason called. I turned to face him.

"And you! You were the one who probably came up with the idea in the first place, weren't you? Just leave me alone, okay?" I started back up the stairs before he could respond. I went straight to my Computer Science class. If there was anywhere I could get solitude, it was there.

It wasn't the case, however, as when I walked in I spotted Justin seated at his usual spot, alone in the room. I let out a sigh, resigning myself to Justin's company over that of everyone else's.

"Please tell me you weren't in on any of this, too," I said as I took my seat next to him. He glanced at me, grinning slightly.

"Then I won't."

"That's as good as telling me."

"So, how did you find out?"

"Allie and Meredith started to blackmail Maggie in front of a huge crowd a few minutes ago. Maggie stormed off somewhere and I forced the two to tell me about their plan. She also mentioned that I was to blame for all of this, but only after your name was mentioned." Justin let out a breath, rubbing his eyes.

"I guess I should tell you then, huh?"

"I think I should." Justin rested his forehead against his hands, propping his elbows on the desk. There was silence until he lifted his head again, looking at me.

"You've noticed how Maggie was always with me no matter for the last year, right?" I nodded. "Well, she was a bit…obsessed about me."

"I figured as much."

"Well, when I told her why I was so depressed after Halloween, she thought I was kidding. She said that was impossible, because I was hers alone. She started to fret that it was true and started to follow you two around. When she took those pictures she finally understood that I did have a crush on you, and that she didn't have any chance with me, and I guess she just blamed you for it all."

It made sense, I guess. To her, I was the person that embodied everything that meant she couldn't be with Justin. I was everything that had shredded the heart she had given to Justin.

"And that's why she went so far as to tear everyone away from me," I muttered. I saw Justin nod out of the corner of my eye. There was one thing that was still nagging me, though.

"What about you? Did you try to explain anything to her?"

"I did, I really did, but she wouldn't listen. All I managed to do was make her angrier."

"And do you still feel the same about me as you did before Jason came into the picture." Justin let the question float on the air before shaking his head.

"I did at first, but I realize now that you and Jason belong together and that whatever was between us was-is just friendship."

I couldn't keep myself from pulling him into a hug. It might spark something inside him, but right now it just felt good to have a friend to talk to.

"Not a single stirred emotion," Justin said, a smile on his face. I couldn't help but laugh.

Jason tried all day to get me to talk to him. I tried all day to ignore his pleas to talk with him. I was given a scant few minutes away from him thanks to the teacher. Mrs. Diam had needed someone to deliver attendance to the office and I had volunteered.

"A lover's quarrel?" someone sneered from the hallway as I turned a corner into the main corridor. I turned and spotted Maggie standing against the wall. The look of pure hatred on her face made me swallow my tongue.

"You deserve worse than this," she said, no longer leaning against the wall. "You don't deserve to have someone, to have the friends you do. Not after what you did to Justin." I could see tears welling up in her eyes.

"I didn't do anything to Justin," I uttered weakly.

"Didn't do anything? Didn't do anything?! You destroyed him! You destroyed all the hard work to get him to like me! You destroyed everything!" She jumped me, her hands going for my throat.

"Maggie, stop!" I cried, barely fending off her attack. She had managed to grab a hold of my arm, however.

"Why, so you can destroy more than my heart?" She slammed me against the wall, her free hand going for my throat again.

"Maggie, please, just listen." Her hand closed around my neck, cutting off my breath.

"You listen! If you had never met Justin, if you had just stayed away, then he would've fallen in love with me and we could be happily ever after! We could be together forever!" Her hand tightened. I could still see her tears, flowing more fiercely now than they had that morning, through the spots dancing in front of me.

"Maggie, let him go!" someone yelled out. I heard a gasp, the hand no longer as tight around my throat. Air rushed to my lungs. I started to cough as it flew past my bruised throat. I didn't realize how dim my vision had gotten until it started to return. Maggie was being dragged away by a teacher, Justin was next to me. A small crowd seemed to have formed around our little spot.

"Jus…tin…" I gasped between my coughs. I felt him put a hand on my back, gently patting it to help my lungs.

"It's over. I don't think Maggie will bother you again."

After out little spat, a teacher had questioned me about what had happened and I answered as best I could. I don't think he understood what was going on between us, but he had the decency not to ask.

"Did you find out what they're doing to Maggie?" Jason asked. I shook my head. I could see the concern in his eyes as they flicked to my throat every few seconds.

"She's got at least a week in ISS and detentions for the rest of the semester," Justin threw in. I looked at him, seeing what looked like relief wash over him.

"What's with you?" I asked, curious. He shifted slightly at the question.

"I was…I was always trying to find a way to get rid of her. I'm just glad I finally did, although I didn't exactly want it to end up this way." I nodded, understanding a bit of it. "I saw her a few minutes ago. She said that she never wants to see your face again."

"That's as good as an apology as I'm gonna get, huh?"

"Yeah." I smiled, my own relief washing over me.

"It's about time," Jason muttered, coming over and pulling me into a hug.

The rest of the day zipped by and before I knew it, I was sitting in the car with Jason on the way back home.

"That was exhausting," Jason said.

"What was?"

"The last few months, that's what."

"You know you enjoyed every last minute." Jason let out a laugh and I joined him.

"Yeah, I guess I did." He pulled into his driveway, climbing out of the car and to the house. As we stepped into the house, Jason turned on me and pulled me into a kiss. I felt my legs give out from under me just before he scooped me against his body.

"We never did finish what we started this morning, did we?" he said huskily, leading me towards the shower.

"I still need to yell at Rick and Dillian," I said as we reached the bathroom door. "And I'm still mad at you."

"Then just think of this as my way of making it up to you. Besides, Rick and Dillian can wait."

A/N: Just poppin' in to say that my usual Author's Notes will be postponed until the end of the next chapter. It'll just be easier that way with the double-chapter update.