Sara slowly lifted JC’s wrist to her lips and kissed his scars softly, "You can’t hide them forever you know." JC nodded and squeezed his eyes shut tightly. "Wrist bands won’t always be in fashion." She smiled and laced her fingers through his. This time she would be the one to help him… she would be his friend.

"I know." He gave a short laugh as he wiped his eyes quickly on his other sleeve. "Wow… no one’s seen those at all since I left, and even then no one really saw." He took a deep breath and looked at Sara out of the corner of his eye, "When did you become a counselor?"

"A few months ago actually." She said a couple seconds later.

His eyebrows shot up in surprise, "Really??"

"Well, kind of, a little I mean. At Wycroft. I go a couple times a month to talk to some of the kids there you know. Like a success story, which is stupid actually because I’m practically as messed up as half of the people in there."

"Nah, you’re doing real good."

"I have my days." She shrugged. "I don’t counsel them really, I just go and tell what happened to me. Dr. Grayson loves it because she knows I don’t sugar coat anything. They hear exactly what I went through, and how I started to get better." JC looked at her with a flicker or worry in his eyes, "No… I don’t tell them you helped me." She smiled and squeezed his hand that was still in hers. "No names, it’s one of Dr. Grayson’s rules." She rolled her eyes.

JC sighed and shifted his weight in the sand to get more comfortable, "God, I’m glad you’re here. I didn’t realize how much I missed having someone really understand me you know? To know what it’s actually like to… to… I don’t know." He shrugged.

"You haven’t talked to the other guys at all?"

"Nope." He shook his head again. "Sara they just wouldn’t get it. They don’t want to understand, and I don’t want to explain it to them."

"You need to let them see you at your lowest. According to you they know what happened, but they haven’t seen the hardcore proof."

"They’ve seen me." JC shook his head and looked down at the sand falling from his fingers.

"Not at your absolute lowest JC…"

"Justin has."

"No, JC I don-"

"He found me Sara." JC looked up quickly. "He… he’s the one that found me." He said softly. "He’s seen me at the lowest. He’s seen me below my lowest. I can’t make him go back there, I can’t show him my scars and make him go back to that moment when he saw me like that. Sara… I just can’t do that to him, he’s my brother."

"Justin found you…the kid with the curls?" Sara asked a minute later.

"Yeah." JC nodded and looked out at the water.

"Have you talked to him about that?"

"Nope." He shook his head slowly. "How could I?"

"You need to JC."

"What on earth could I say?" JC asked softly as tears rose in his eyes again. He’d thought about talking to Justin countless times, but had chickened out each time.

"You could ask him how he felt." She suggested.

"I know how he felt. He felt scared shitless, angry, panicked, desperate, sad… he had to have. That’s how I’d feel if I ever…" JC’s stomach turned at the thought, "If I ever found him like that."

"Yeah… JC he felt all of that, but above all of that, he felt guilty." Sara lay her hand flat on JC’s back and felt him breath deeply. "Which is exactly how you’d feel if, God forbid, you ever found him in the same position." JC nodded wordlessly, he knew she was right but he couldn’t live with knowing that Justin had felt guilty about something completely stupid that’d he’d done to himself. "I’m sure you’ve said you’re sorry, I know you have JC. But have you told him that it wasn’t his fault?"

JC shook his head again and let out a shaky breath, "No… and brining it up now would just open up old wounds."

"They aren’t so old." Sara scooted closer to JC and rested her head on his shoulder. "If you need help JC, I can try. I figure I owe you one."

"I think I can do it on my own."

"No you can’t JC." Sara whispered.

JC dropped his arm over her shoulders as the ocean breeze picked up and sighed. He knew Sara was right, in his heart he knew that she was. But that didn’t make anything any easier. Her being right didn’t change the fact that if JC sat the guys down and showed them his lowest… everything would change.

They sat on the sand and watched the sunrise then collected their trash and yawned as they walked back to the hotel. "I meant what I said JC…"

"I know… I need to tell them."

"I mean about letting me know if you need help. I think for once, I may be less messed up than you." She smiled. She hadn’t meant it as a put down, but she felt him tense up beside her. "I just… I mean that for once I can help you. If… if you want it, or need it."

"Thanks." JC nodded cordially and held the door to the lobby open for her.

"You’ll be in LA this weekend, right?"

"Yeah."

"Will you call me when you get there? Or give me a way to contact you?"

"You have my cell phone number."

"The one I have has been disconnected." Sara explained as they stopped in front of the elevators.

"Oh... yeah, I forgot about that." He smiled quickly. "I’ll call you when we get into town and give it to you then."

"Okay." Sara looked down and shuffled her feet. "I’m sorry if I said the wrong thing back there. I didn’t mean to make you uncomfortable or anything."

"No… it’s okay." JC caught her eye. "You’re right… I just need to think about what to do next." Sara looked down and stuck her hands in her pockets. "Hey…" He reached out and tilted her chin up to meet his eyes, "Thank you Sara. Just seeing you has made me realize that I’m not as okay as I had fooled myself into thinking. And I mean that in a good way." He smiled slowly and let his finger linger on her chin. He had the incredible impulse to kiss her, and the feeling shocked him. He blushed quickly and dropped his hand as he cleared his throat. "I will definitely call you when I get up to LA, we need to keep in touch better."

"Yeah." Sara smiled with relief and glanced over her shoulder at the door as a small group of girls filed into the lobby. "I’d better let you go."

"Yeah." He nodded and followed her gaze. "Thanks again Sara, I’ll see you real soon." He wrapped his arms around her in a friendly embrace, and said goodbye.

Three short hours later JC was holed up in his bunk on the bus riding north to Santa Barbara. He lay on his stomach trying to read his old issue of Maxim but after the third time though it just didn’t hold his interest any more. He sighed and reached for the small green spiral bound notebook in his bag. It was well worn and had stars erased into the cover with a "S" written in silver marker on the corner. JC stared at the journal for a few minutes as the bus lurched and shook entering the freeway.

He traced the edge of the cover and debated opening it, it was her own personal journal, and JC knew from experience that journals were not meant for other people to read. But she’d asked him to keep it, and to read it. It was her gift to him, so he was obligated to at least skim it. Or so his mind lamely rationalized it.

He flipped the cover open and smoothed down the front page…

 

Dear diary, Tuesday 2pm

Okay, how lame does that sound? What am I, 12? Anyway, I saw that JC kept a diary. Or journal. Or notepad… whatever, and he’s gone, so maybe that had something to do with it. Besides, Dr. Grayson said that writing helps heal the soul (which I think is bullshit) and if I write in here then I can skip one of my one on one sessions a week. Anything that’ll get me out of that little office is good enough for me, so here goes.

I hate this place. I’ve hated it since the day I got here. JC was the only part that made it interesting and now he’s gone too. He left a week ago, and this place has sucked since then. He calls like, all the time, which is kind of annoying and kind of not at the same time.

I don’t know what I’m supposed to be writing in here, but hi – I’m Sara, and I’m a suicide failure. Actually Dr. Grayson said I shouldn’t say that (like it matters) I didn’t fail suicide, I succeeded at life. Which, again, is bullshit. I haven’t succeeded at anything. – Sara

 

JC smiled, he could totally hear the sarcasm and inflection of Sara in the words. She wrote like she talked and he could actually hear her saying those words as he read them. JC smiled and turned the page to keep reading, not feeling at all like he was violating any of her privacy, but feeling more like he was seeing the real Sara… the one she'd hidden until then.

 

Dear diary, Thursday 3:04am

Yep. It’s 3 in the fucking morning and I’m awake. Why? I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count. Yeah, I know you’re a book and probably don’t do much guessing, but play along with me here. I can’t sleep which is why I’m awake. Simple answer to a simple question.

JC called tonight… again. I swear, sometimes I just feel like telling him I don’t feel like talking, but I know he thinks it helps so… well… why burst his little bubble? On the other hand, he gives a shit, so that’s cool.

Oh oh oh! You wanna know what else is cool? Dr. Grayson isn’t even going to read this, she said as long as I’m writing in you at all, then that counts. As far as she knows I could be writing commercial jingles in here, she doesn’t care. Ha ha ha, I can say whatever I want! I tend to find thrills in the simplest things now. Maybe I AM going nuts? What do you think?

That’s right, you’re a book. You don’t think. – Sara

 

JC read through a few more entries before his eyes drifted closed and he lay his head on the white lined paper.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

JC called Sara when they got to LA and made plans for her to come to the hotel after work one of the nights they were there. With her work schedule, she wasn’t able to get there before nine at night, and most of the guys had gone out to party.

"Hi! Have you talked to them yet?" Sara smiled as JC opened his hotel room door.

"Hi! I’m fine, thanks for asking. I love your shoes." JC pulled her in for a hug and said, "I haven’t had time to talk to them."

"Nine hours on the bus wasn’t enough time?" Sara raised an eyebrow at him.

"Five hours, and no." JC shut the door behind them, then sat on the edge of the bed. "How was work?"

"Don’t change the subject." Sara frowned.

"I don’t want to talk about that right now." JC sighed. "It’s been a long day and all I want is a nice visit with an old friend and some mindless chatting. That’s it."

"Then maybe I should go." Sara stood up.

"Oh come on Sara… I didn’t mean for you to go." JC stood up quickly. "We’re friends, not doctor and patient. I want to talk to you as a friend."

That was still new to Sara, she could talk to a doctor and as a counselor, but when it came to talking as friends, she wasn’t sure exactly what to say. "Where… where are the others?"

"Justin's in his room, he said he wanted to come with us to get some dessert at the rooftop restaurant." JC smiled, "By the way… we’re going to get dessert."

"Sounds good to me." Sara smiled up at him and blinked slowly as if trying to focus on him. Without even realizing it, she had just flirted with him. She ran her finger along the edge of the plastic badge she'd been given and scratched her fingernail over it as she looked away.

JC cleared his throat and scratched his chin quickly, having not missed the flirting, "Are you… do you want to go now? Are you hungry?" JC asked, looking toward the door.

"Sure, if you want to."

"Cuz we don't have to go right now, we can go later if you want." He said quickly.

Sara laughed at his nervousness and asked, "JC… what's going on here?

"Wh-what?"

She gave him a look and tried not to laugh, "You… you're acting all… weird."

He paused for a second and looked her over slowly. She stood beside the little table in her jeans and baby blue polo shirt with her name stitched on the front under the Ikea store name, undoubtedly her work uniform. Her blonde hair was curling madly around her round face and she didn't wear even a hint of make up, but in the back of his mind all JC could hear was that stupid song from decades ago, "Girl you're every woman in the world to me…" He blushed deeply and shook his head to get the song out. This was Sara he was thinking about, not some hot chick on the road… not some random knock out. This was Sara. Plain old messed up Sara. "I'm uh… acting weird?"

"Yeah." She laughed lightly and shook her head. "If I didn't know any better I'd say you were nervous."

"Hrmph." JC shrugged and dug in his pockets to look for his room key.

"Wait. JC, you're nervous? Wh-why? Around me?"

"I'm not nervous." He said all too quickly.

"Yes you are, you're nervous. What is that about? Is everything okay?" She reached out to touch him as he turned to the door, which she took for him flinching away from her. "Wait… JC…"

"So I'll go get Justin and meet you in the hall?"

"Hang on…" Sara walked around the table and touched his arm softly, forcing him to look at her, "What's going on?"

"Nothing." He shook his head.

"You're nervous around me all of a sudden, five minutes ago you were fine."

"It's just…" He looked away for a second as the blush continued its creep toward his ears. "Did you… were you just flirting with me?"

Sara choked a laugh back and tilted her head to the side, "That would make you nervous? JC I'm sure you have millions of girls out there flirting with you."

"Well yeah but that I actually - " He stopped himself and licked his lips, "You're Sara though."

"So I'm unflirtable?"

"Well no…" He cleared his throat again, "It's just… were you?"

"Not to my knowledge, no." She shook her head.

"So see? I've just made an ass out of myself." He reached for the door and pulled it open.

"Is that the most terrible thing in the world?"

"Around here it is." He shrugged and stepped out into the hall as she followed.

"What if I had been flirting… then what?"

JC shrugged and forced his cover-boy smile at her, "I don't know. But you weren't."

"It's amazing how he can go from 'insecure weird-o' to 'happy glamour boy' in seconds." Sara thought to herself. She laughed and shook her head as she followed him down the hall. Talk about surreal episodes, that one almost took the cake.

They grabbed Justin and headed to the roof top restaurant for a late night dessert. Justin ordered a huge banana split while Sara and JC stuck with the cheesecake. They all made small talk as they ate, but Sara mostly listened to the two boys talk back and forth. The casual observer would be able to tell these guys were close, that much was crystal clear, but what wasn't as clear to the outside eye was the look of admiration in Justin's eye.

Sara saw it, and she knew JC did too. Seeing that helped Sara understand why JC was so afraid of failing in front of Justin, if the others looked at him the same way that would be an almost unbearable weight to carry. He was human, he was going to fail, and he had failed… but as his loyal devoted brothers, they'd forgotten that, or overlooked it. Either way, he was omnipotent.

"Excuse me." JC lay his napkin on the table and stood up slowly when he was done. "I’ll be right back." He said as he headed to the men's room.

"So… he’s looking pretty good, huh?" Justin asked. "I mean, since you saw him last."

"I saw him a few days ago in San Diego." Sara explained.

"I mean before that." Justin smiled weakly and stirred his melted ice cream around the bowl.

Sara shrugged and watched intently as he pushed a chocolate sprinkle around in the shallow ice cream. "I guess…"

"He does." Justin looked up and met her eye over the bowl. "He’s gotten a lot better, I don’t even think he’s thought about… about that… in months."

"You’d be surprised." Sara said softly. Justin went back to concentrating on his spoon as Sara took a deep breath and said, "You know, a month ago it was his one year anniversary ."

"Of what? Trying to off himself?"

"Of getting better, of leaving Wycroft." Sara explained. "It was a big deal for him. Proof that he’d made it through one of the hardest years of his life and do you know what he did to celebrate? Nothing."

"Should we have had a party?" Justin asked sarcastically, a natural defense mechanism for him. Anything to lighten to topic or make it go away. Humor and sarcasm could make any discussion not quite as serious.

"No." Sara shook her head, "But someone could have mentioned that they were proud of him. Or that he looked great, or something. For my one year anniversary, JC took me out to get donuts. That’s nothing, right? But he acknowledged my accomplishment."

"He never told us when it was a year." Justin stopped stirring and looked up at Sara. "He could have said something."

"He didn’t want to bring it up because he thought you’d all forgotten about the whole thing."

"We haven’t." Justin shook his head. "I haven’t anyway." He looked over Sara’s shoulder towards the door as tears formed in the corner of his eyes from memories he’d been chasing away for too long. "I won’t ever forget." He shook his head and sniffed as he looked back at Sara.

"Justin… it’s not… it wasn’t your fault. There was nothing you could have done to make what happened not happen." Sara said softly as she reached across the table for his hands.

He pulled away before she touched him and crossed his arms over his chest. "Yes there is." He set his jaw and stared at her over the dishes. "If I had been there three minutes earlier, if he’d said something before about what a shitty time he was having, if I’d have fucking asked about him…" Justin shook his head and angrily wiped at his eyes. "We all saw it and no one did anything. We didn’t say a damn thing."

"There was –"

"Stop saying that, yes there was something we could have done."

"I’m sorry if I’ve overstepped my bounds here… I wasn’t trying to upset you."

"You did overstep your bounds. And I think you underestimate the bond between the five of us. That is nothing you could ever… even possibly understand." Justin stood up and placed his napkin beside his bowl. "Good night." He said quickly before sauntering toward the exit.

"Where'd Justin go?" JC asked as he came back to the table.

"He uh… he's calling it a night." Sara said as she arranged her fork on her small plate.

"Really? Hmm, I hope he's okay." JC pulled his wallet out and left a twenty-dollar bill on the table, then nodded toward the exit, "Ready?"

"Sure." Sara stood up and dropped her napkin on her chair, then followed JC back to his room.

They ended up staying awake until after two in the morning, so JC suggested Sara spend the night in his extra bed, "If I say yes are you going to go all weird on me again?" She asked playfully again.

"No." JC smiled and blushed as he shook his head.

"Then I'd love to, thanks."

"We're having breakfast down the hall in the morning, if you want to stay for that."

"I think I can squeeze breakfast in, sure." She pulled the blankets back on the unmade bed and crawled beneath the covers as JC turned off the light. She waited a few minutes for him to get settled, then whispered, "You know… the sooner you show then the scars on your wrist, the sooner you'll start to be okay with everyone."

"I'm okay with everyone."

"Nah, you think you are JC, but you still can't bear to have anyone see you at less than your best. You can't live like that."

"I know." JC nodded.

"Okay, that's enough of my preaching. Good night JC."

"G'night Sara." JC yawned, then fell right to sleep.

When Sara woke up the next morning, JC was already in the shower and apparently having a hard time in there. In the time it took her to sit up and reach for her shoes, she heard a half dozen things drop. Sara frowned and knocked on the door, "You okay in there?"

"Yeah." JC shouted back. "I've got soap all over my hands and everything's slippery." He laughed.

"Thanks for sharing, that image will take me through the rest of the week." She laughed.

"Um… there's food two doors down on the left, if you want to go help yourself. I'll be done in a minute.'

Sara glanced at her watch, she had to be at work in two hours and it would take at least an hour for her to go home and change. "It's okay if I just show up down there?"

"Yeah, they won't care. Justin'll be there, he knows you."

"Yeah, but he doesn't like me much." Sara mumbled.

"What?" JC poked his head out of the shower.

"Nothing. I'll meet you down there then, okay?"

"Yeah, see you in like 10 minutes." He shut the shower door again and finished rinsing off as Sara tried to run her fingers through her hair.

It wasn't going to work so instead of fighting with it, she let her hair go and headed down to get some breakfast.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

JC left his t-shirt untucked and took a deep breath as he glanced at himself in the mirror, "Come on tough guy, you can do it. It’s just the guys. It’s just the guys…" He quickly turned his wrists upward and looked down at the scars. To him, they stood out like chalk lines drawn on a black chalkboard. He knew it was time to stop hiding them from the guys, he’d done everything he could for the last year to keep his hands in his pockets, or wear sweaters, or just to be sure his hands were at his sides. But now he had to show them, to make them see.

He only had to try to convince himself of that. Sara had done her best and talked him into doing it, and he’d gone along with it but now when he was heading out the door to do it, he couldn’t make his legs move.

"Dammit, it’s breakfast." JC looked up at himself in the mirror. "Breakfast." He forced a smile and took another deep breath to try to calm his nerves. He looked away and grabbed his room key before he could change his mind.

JC made his way slowly down the hall to the suite where breakfast was set up then stood in the doorway for a minute without being noticed. Sara finally looked up from the bagel tray and smiled, "Good morning sunshine."

JC flinched as if she’d pinched him, then looked at her with a new fear in his eyes. His hands were at his sides completely uncovered and exposed for everyone to see. With each step he took into the room his heart rate sped up and he found it harder and harder to breathe. By the time he made it to the buffet table, Justin and Sara were giving him weird looks.

"Jace? Are you okay?" Justin asked softly as he reached for JC’s arm.

Beads of sweat broke out on JC’s forehead as he shied away from Lance and looked up at Sara three feet away. "Sara…" JC said softly as the sound of blood rushing in his ears deafened him.

"Okay, come on." She set her plate on the buffet table and grabbed JC’s hand as he started to shake.

"Is he okay?" Lance asked with a concerned look.

"He’ll be fine." Sara said as she pulled JC into the bedroom behind her. JC sprang like a released jack-in-the-box and crossed the room in two quick steps as Sara shut the door tight behind them.

"What the hell is wrong with me?" He asked quickly as he paced the room in front of her.

"You’re having a panic attack." Sara said calmly as she leaned against the door.

"I can’t breath." JC gasped for air and continued to pace.

"Yes you can." She watched without concern as he sat quickly and took several deep breaths and attempted to wipe his brow with his shaky hands.

"Why can’t I do this?"

"You can." Sara nodded and sat beside him on the bed. He desperately reached for her hand and closed his eyes.

"They all know, I don’t know what my problem is."

"You’re asking them to acknowledge it, to accept it. To accept that you’re not perfect, and that you have failed." Sara said softly.

"They’ve seen me fail." He said bitterly.

"No JC, not like this. I’ve seen you over the last few weeks, you are so afraid of people seeing you at any less than your best. You can’t even fathom your friends, your brothers, seeing the result of you at your lowest."

"I’m not at my lowest." He shook his head.

"No… but you were, and you didn’t show them. They never saw and they never knew. Yeah they knew the basics, but never anything more than that. They never knew why, or what was going on with you. Maybe it’s your fault for not making them listen… but JC… maybe it’s their fault for not asking."

"It’s not their fault." JC whispered.

"Then it’s your responsibility to make it right. You have to do this for you JC. They will go on not knowing until you do something to show them. They need to see the scars to make it real to them. You going away for a month was a paid vacation for them. Sure they knew where you were and why, but without the tangible evidence for them to lay their hands on, it’s too easy for them to just sweep it away."

"We had to move on."

"I’m not saying they’re bad people JC, in fact I think they’re the best thing in the world for you. They didn’t ask to see because they didn’t want to. You’re the pillar of strength around here, I’ve seen that much. For them to admit to themselves that you… you JC of all people… could break down like that. Well… what would that say about them?"

"That they were just as susceptible."

"Right." Sara squeezed his hand. "All of you have a lot of healing to do."

"Sara… I just can’t…"

"Yeah you can." She nodded and rested her head on his shoulder. "Who are you most afraid to show?"

"All of them." JC whispered.

"You don’t have to do it all at once."

"I know."

"Who will be the hardest to show?"

"J-Justin." JC whispered, closing his eyes tight as a tear escaped from the corner. Without a word Sara released his hand and stood to open the door, "No… Sara no." JC said quickly.

"Justin? Can you come in her please?" Sara called from the doorway.

"Hmm? Yeah." Justin sat his bowl down and wiped his mouth before walking to the door. "Yeah?"

"Come on in." Sara held the door open for him, then shut it behind him.

"Sara…" JC said from the bed. He’d tucked his hands in his pockets as he stared at the floor.

"What… what’s going on?" Justin asked with a cautious smile.

"JC needs to show you something." Sara sat on the bed beside JC and forcefully pulled his hand out of his pocket.

"What?" Justin stood in front of JC and crossed his arms over his chest. "Whoa, what’s wrong?" He asked quickly as he noticed the tears in JC’s eyes.

"Come on JC…" Sara said softly as she wrapped her free arm around his waist. "If you can show Justin you can show them all." She whispered.

"What’s going on?" Justin asked, for the first time he actually felt scared.

JC pulled his left hand from his pocket and held his arm out towards Justin, palm up. He closed his eyes and dropped his head as he started to cry and shake. "I… what?" Justin looked at Sara for help. He was missing something here. "What JC?" Justin took JC’s hand and held it tightly.

"Look." JC said as he pulled is hand out of Justin’s and held his wrist up.

"JC…" Justin went pale as he realized what he was looking at.

"It’s real Justin." JC said softly.

"I know." Justin nodded as he sat beside JC and stared at his wrist.

"No you don’t." JC shook his head.

"Yes I do." Justin nodded and looked JC in the eye. "I found you, remember?"

"But after… after everything." JC shook his head. "I’m not okay Justin."

"You’re not…? JC you ca-"

"No." JC said quickly, looking up at the kid, "No I’m not thinking about anything like that." He shook his head and smiled slightly, "I just meant that I’m not okay. It may have been more than a year ago, but I’m not all better. Wycroft helped a lot, but I don’t think I was ready to leave."

"But Jace we’re right in th-"

"I’m not going back." JC interrupted him. "I’m just saying that I need you guys to be okay with the fact that I … that I tried to kill myself. I know that consciously you all know that, as a fact. But you guys don’t know it like really know it."

"What can we do?"

"I don’t know." JC shook his head and wiped his eyes quickly. "But I have to be able to show my scars."

"You can barely see them." Justin looked again.

"I know… but I’ve been hiding them for more than a year."

"JC… you know you don’t have to hide anything."

"I’m not going to anymore."

"Can you help JC?" Sara asked Justin. He’d almost forgotten she was there.

"Yeah… yeah of course man. Anything I can do, you know that."

"I have to go public." JC said suddenly.

"Wait, JC, I didn’t me-" Sara started.

"Not right this second, but eventually." JC explained, with a sudden surge of courage.

"You don’t need to commit to anything that big right now." Sara squeezed his hand.

"I know." JC nodded.

"Do you want me to get the other guys?" Justin asked.

JC cleared his throat and thought for a second before taking a deep breath and nodding, "Yeah."

Justin stood up and went into the other room and Sara smiled up at JC, "You did it."

"Yeah." JC smiled and let out a shaky breath. "God, I really thought I was going to lose it there for a minute." He laughed nervously and took another deep breath. "Thanks, you know, for making me do this."

"The first step is the hardest." Sara rolled her eyes. "I’m sorry if I started sounding like Dr. Grayson back there, I guess that’s what I get for hanging around her all this time, huh?"

"I don’t think I would have been able to do that by myself."

"Sure you would." Sara smiled and squeezed his hand that was still in hers. Justin walked in followed by the other guys and shut the door.

Joey stood against the wall with a half-eaten bagel in one hand and a glass of orange juice in the other, "What’s up?" He asked.

Sara looked from the guys to JC and raised her eyebrow at him, "A year ago I tried to kill myself." JC said softly. He paused for a second to try to gain the courage to continue.

"We know…" Chris said, confused.

"You don't know." JC shook his head. "I'm not better and you haven't seen. And I need you all to see this, so I can… so I can really get better. So I can start." He held his arms out in front of him and closed his eyes.

Sara winced as she saw for the first time both of his arms. Aside from the slashes across his left wrist, whish Sara had known about since the beginning, there were pink scars higher up on his left arm and splattered up and down his right arm. These were not the year old scars that Sara was expecting. They were light enough not to be noticed by the casual quick passerby, but for friends, for brothers who knew almost every last inch of this man, they were frightening.

Justin inhaled quickly before he turned and left the room, leaving the others pale and staring while JC began to shake.

Joey's glass of orange juice fell to the ground, but no one seemed to notice.

 

 Chapter 3…

 

 

Copyright 2000 Amy Lynn