A/N: Sorry, short chapter- because this is only the first half of "Coffee and Cutting", ok? Stay tuned!

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"Honey, did you get any rest last night? You look like you didn't catch a wink! Do you want some coffee?" Maria asked in concern.

"Major test today- stayed up all night." Jerica mumbled incoherently, lying through her teeth. "Gotta go catch Kerrin- bye." Before her mother could reply, she was gone. The bathrobe-clad housewife stared at the door as it slammed shut.

"That is just not like her at all." Maria muttered thoughtfully. "I wonder why she didn't just tell me what's really bothering her."

Jerica smiled tiredly at her friend. "You really don't have to do this- I'm fine, ok?" Kerrin sighed and pulled into the parking lot.

"Stuff it. I can tell when a person needs coffee, and you're showing all the symptoms." The girls entered the Starbucks and she added, "No whip soy double tall extra hot mocha, right?" Jerica just shook her head. Kerrin knew her way too well.

They drove to school in silence. Kerrin, normally talkative, even at 7:15 in the morning, stayed quiet and kept stealing glances at her brooding friend.

"So," She said, breaking the awkward atmosphere, "Are you going to tell me what's wrong or do I have to beat it out of you?" She joked, stopping when she saw the look on Jerica's face. "Seriously girl, what's eating you?"

"Nothing." Jerica snapped. "I just haven't been sleeping very well." Kerrin rolled her eyes and turned back to the road.


When they reached the school, Jerica jumped out of the car and started walking away. Kerrin opened the door and slid out, staring after her friend.

"Yeah, you just go ahead, ok? Don't bother to wait or anything. I've got to. uh. go see my science teacher. about a. test. Yeah, see you later I guess." Kerrin called out to her swiftly retreating friend. She received no reply. "Whatever."

Jerica reached her locker and stuffed her books inside. "What is wrong with everyone today? Why does everyone think something is wrong? And why does everyone assume they can fix it with coffee?" Jerica thought aloud as she slammed locker shut.

"Maybe because the always calm and collected, perfect little Jerica has blood shot eyes, a scowl, and- no socks?" replied John's amused voice.

"Hey, you would be scowling too if you had people babbl- wait. no so- " Jerica looked down at her feet quickly and turned bright red. "Oops." she said, sighing and finally giving into the misery that had been following her around all morning. "What else can go wrong?"

"Hey, don't look so sad. It can't be *that* bad, right? Your feet are making a fashion statement- albeit an odd one, but its. unique." He replied and grabbed her hand, dragging her down the hall.

"Where are we going? My math class is THAT way!" Jerica gestured frantically in the opposite direction.

"We are going to my car. I'm taking you to breakfast. You need coffee."

"Why does everyone keep sayi- wait, you mean, we're cutting?" Jerica stopped and glared up at him.

"You look so cute when you're angry. Come on, it'll be fun! I'll buy you some socks." he added slyly. Jerica's mind whirled. Her practical side was screaming at her to slap that obnoxious boy and go to math, but she was so tired, and more coffee couldn't hurt.

"Promise you'll have me back before lunch?" She asked finally, and John beamed as a reply. They made their way through the parking lot to his car. It was a classic muscle car, a GTO with black paint and leather seats.

"Nice car," Jerica remarked as they got in.

"Thanks. I like it too." He revved the engine, and she poked him in the ribs.

"Drive, John, drive! Time is money! Money is gas! Gas is wasted on revving and therefore my time, money and patience are lost!" Jerica giggled, relaxing slightly. He smiled at her and peeled out, leaving the lot attendant angry and their classmates puzzled, to say the least. They drove in comfortable silence, neither really having much to say.

"I was thinking that we could go to this great little place I know near the beach where they have the greatest." His voice faded away and Jerica snuggled into the surprisingly comfortable seats. The hum of the car was incredibly soothing, and the cushions were very soft.

"That sound good to you?" He asked, looking over.