JC stared at Sara for a second, "Every night? You have the dream every night?" He asked softly, not able to understand how she could survive that feeling night after night.

"Yes." She bowed her head and continued to cry.

"How… what do you do?"

"Nothing. I try not to sleep." Sara shook her head, but kept her eyes from his.

"Does it ever go away?"

"No." She shook her head slowly again. "Not for me anyways."

"Re-living that every night would drive me to do it again I think." JC said softly.

"It does." She sniffed and looked up slowly. "Why do you think I’m still here?"

"How long have you been here?"

"A month longer than you."

"How long do people usually stay?" JC asked a minute later.

"It depends how fucked in the head you are I guess. David was really messed up. He was here for months."

"Wow." JC whispered. He knew there was no way he could stay that long, the media couldn’t be kept in the dark much longer.

"I guess I’m pretty bad too then, huh?" She asked cautiously.

"I don’t know." JC shook his head.

"Well I’ve been here longer than you." She shrugged. They sat in silence for a minute longer, "So, who keeps calling you?" Sara asked softly.

"Um, my parents. And the other guys in the group." JC cleared his throat and ran his fingers through his hair. "I feel bad sitting on the phone all the time, but I think it’s helping. You know, keeping contact with the outside world."

"Hmm." Sara frowned.

"Don’t your parents call?"

Sara shook her head and stood up to lean against the railing. She looked down at JC and said, "No one calls me."

"No one?"

"No one cares that I’m here." She shrugged and continued, "My parents were pissed off that I ruined their carpet, and my aunt that raised me hasn’t talked to me in years."

"What about your friends or something?" JC asked. As soon as the words left his mouth he understood. He wished he could grab them from the air and take them back, but he couldn’t. They had already reached Sara.

She just stared at him for a second, not moving a muscle, and not changing her expression. "How can she do this alone? I’m having a hard enough time with all the support I could ask for. She’ll never make it out of here." JC thought to himself.

"I’m sorry… I…" JC started to speak as his ears turned pink.

"I don’t have any friends." Sara spoke softly and stood up straight.

"Sure you do." JC smiled and stood beside her.

"I don’t."

"I can be your friend."

"No you can’t." She said defiantly.

"Yes I can." He reached out to touch her shoulder, but before he made contact she brushed past him and headed back into the house.

JC stayed outside for a little while longer, before heading back for dinner. His appetite was coming back and he was starved. He ate dinner alone, not wanting to socialize with the others. He didn’t take any calls that night, he told the nurse he was tired and shut himself in his room with the lights out.

JC lay on top of the blankets on his bed and he stared at the ceiling. He did not want to fall asleep; he couldn’t handle having another dream like the one before. His thoughts drifted to Sara and how she didn’t have anyone that cared. JC wished there were a way to share his friends and support with her. She really was a good person, he could tell that now; she just needed more help than anyone was giving her.

JC cracked a small smile and sang the familiar song softly, "I lie awake… I drive myself crazy… drive myself crazy… thinking of you…" He laughed out loud thinking about how ridiculous he must look laying in the dark singing a song about being crazy, while he was a ‘student’ in what was essentially a mental institution. He hadn’t made himself laugh, or smile even, since he arrived at Wycroft, and it felt good.

JC kept himself awake as long as possible, singing as many songs as he could think of quietly to himself. He fell asleep in the middle of "Shape of my heart" by Sting, because he couldn’t remember all the lyrics.

 

 

When JC opened his eyes the next morning, the sun was shining in through his curtain covered window and he actually felt well rested. JC stretched his arms over his head and cracked his back before putting his feet over the side and onto the cold floor. He checked his watch and was surprised to see that it was after 10 in the morning. He had kept himself up until almost 3 in the morning, and that seemed to keep the nightmares from returning. He’d only had that one dream, the first one. He wasn’t looking forward to having another.

JC yawned and shuffled around the bed to get himself dressed in his usual, jeans and a white t-shirt. He left his shoes under his bed and walked barefoot out into the hall and down to the kitchen for a late breakfast.

The little dining area was almost empty as JC helped himself to an orange and sat at a seat by the window. He thoughtfully peeled his orange and stared out over the back lawn. He had come to the decision that he was going to work with the doctor to try to get better, instead of insisting he could do it himself. He already felt a lot better, but he still had a lot of stuff to come to terms with. He had come way too close to ending it, for what appeared to be no good reason. For the first time… that scared him.

JC was lost in thought and didn’t notice when Sara came and pulled up the chair across from him. "Can I have some?" She asked quietly, eyeing his orange.

JC jumped at the sound of her voice, and almost choked on the piece of orange in his mouth. He handed Sara the remaining orange slices as he covered his mouth and coughed violently.

Sara popped the fruit into her mouth and watched closely as JC turned red, "You okay?" She asked a second later.

JC managed to get his coughing under control and nodded with tears in his eyes, "It went down the wrong pipe." He squeaked with a small smile. He coughed again and said, "Be careful."

"Yeah, I know how to eat. I’ve been doing it for a while. You look like hell." She ate the last slice of orange and wiped her hands on her jeans.

"Thanks." JC rolled his eyes and leaned back in his chair. "I didn’t get much sleep."

"Funny. Me neither." She smirked. "You get used to it."

"Not me. I need a good 8 hours of sleep a day." He smiled and took a slice of orange, "And another 10 at night." He chewed the orange and swallowed it carefully.

"Then you’d better wrestle your demons now or you’ll never sleep again." Sara said seriously.

"Wrestle my demons?"

"Ahh, you haven’t been given that speech yet." Sara leaned back in her chair and stared at JC. "Dr. Grayson is big on that one. If you confront your demons, the reasons you’re here, and wrestle them to the ground, then you win. You win and you ‘heal yourself’… or some garbage like that." Sara rolled her eyes and crossed her arms over her chest.

At that moment Dr. Grayson walked into the kitchen area with Jem in tow. She was talking to him about the activities planned for the upcoming weekend, but it was a one sided conversation as always. "So I was thinking that if the weather stayed rainy like this we could set up a big screen and have an old movies day. You know-" She stopped when Jem placed his small, cold hand on her arm. "What?" Dr. Grayson asked.

Jem just continued to stare at JC and Sara by the window. Dr. Grayson followed his gaze and her jaw literally dropped open. Sara was sitting at a table, by herself with another student. And they were both smiling.

"Well look at that." Dr. Grayson smiled to herself. "I knew those two would work something out." She continued to watch the communication between JC and Sara as she and Jem grabbed a quick snack and left quietly.

"So how does one go about wrestling demons?" JC leaned back in his chair and put his feet on the plastic chair beside Sara.

"I don’t know." She shrugged as her smile fell. "If I knew that I wouldn’t be in this shit hole."

"Sheesh how do you even find out what they are?"

"I guess whatever is making you want to off yourself. That seems logical."

"I guess." JC shrugged. "But I’m not even sure what that is. I mean, I have a better idea about what was going on after the dream… but that’s… that’s still how I feel. I don’t want to uh, do that again, but I still feel the same. Does that make sense?"

"No." Sara raised an eyebrow at him. "You feel the same but you don’t want to do it again?"

"Basically." He sighed and looked out the window for a minute. "Okay, see… the reasons why I tried to, you know-"

"Kill yourself. God can’t you even say it?"

"The reasons why I tried to… kill myself, are still there. But I don’t want to do it."

"What are the reasons?"

"I’ve been sharing an awful lot here." JC said after a moment’s pause.

"So?"

"So I thought if I showed you mine, you’d show me yours."

"What do you want to know?" She asked softly.

"Whatever you want to tell me." He shrugged and leaned forward to rest his elbows on the edge of the table.

"What if I don’t want to tell you anything?" She smirked and leaned forward to copy his pose.

"Then that’s fine." He said. "And if you decide you want to then we can resume this conversation."

"So if I don’t then you’re going to what? Leave?"

JC shrugged, "I can’t really go anywhere."

"So what do you want to know?"

"Why you did it,"

"Why I tried to kill myself?" She asked.

"Yeah."

"Then ask me."

"Why did you do it?’ He asked again. She just stared at him. He knew what she wanted. "Why did you try to kill yourself?" He shut his eyes and rubbed his temples.

"Because I hate myself and because no one would care. And because at least this way my parents would acknowledge that they have a daughter."

JC sat in stunned silence for a minute, trying not to let his reaction show on his face. He’d heard stories like this before, how a person doesn’t like himself or herself, or feels worthless. He’d always thought those people were hiding something deeper, some bigger problem underneath. But with Sara he could tell that she meant every word she said, and that those reasons were enough for her to decide to end it all. She didn’t dislike herself, she hated herself. She did it because she thought no one would care… and she was right. She did it to get her parents to acknowledge her, and they didn’t.

Her final attempt at approval had failed, and failed miserably. She seemed worse off now than before. All she had now was one more failure under her belt, she couldn’t even kill herself right.

"You over dosed?" He asked a minute later, opening his eyes to meet hers.

"I tried." She sighed and rested her chin on her hands. "I took everything I could get my hands on. Vicodan, Valium, Codeine, Dexatrim, Tylenol, Correctol…" She laughed shortly. "I took them all and chased it with a half a bottle of vodka, with a shot of everclear to wash it all down. I thought for sure that’d do it."

"But instead?"

She sighed again and looked down at the green speckled tabletop. "But instead my mom came home from the salon early and called an ambulance to come get me, then gave me some syrup stuff to make me throw up. Which I did happily, all over her eggshell white carpet. I think that’s what pissed her off the most. Either ruining her carpet or taking all her Valium… I can’t decide which." She frowned. "So that’s my so story. You?"

"What?"

"What was your object of suicide?"

"Um, glass. A mirror."

"Oh that’s deep." Sara smiled like a kid just given candy. "I can see where this is going." She practically looked excited.

"No, it’s not like that." JC sighed and played with the orange peel in front of him. "I broke the mirror on accident, I knocked the medicine cabinet off the wall and it broke."

"There are no accidents."

"Well, either way, when I broke it I wasn’t thinking about killing myself."

"So when did that thought creep in?"

"I’m not sure. I guess when I was cleaning it up." JC shrugged. "I don’t even remember that, but in my dream I could see myself standing there with the mirror in my hand."

"What were you wearing?" Sara grinned evilly.

JC rolled his eyes, "Come on."

"So if you’re in this big boyband, teenage hysteria thing, it seems like you pretty much have it all." She said softly, turning serious all of a sudden.

"You’d think so huh?"

"Don’t you?"

"Nope. I mean, yeah it’s a lot of fun, and we’re famous and whatever. But there’s a price to pay for all of that." He tore the peel in half, then in quarters. "But that’s not why."

"You still haven’t told me why." She pointed out.

"Are you a doctor now?" JC asked.

"Do you really think the doctor can help you?" She retorted.

"That’s what she’s here for. That’s what she’s paid to do."

"Yeah? Well she hasn’t helped me. I’ve been here six weeks."

"You don’t even try."

"Oh and you do?" She scoffed.

"At least I go." He caught her eye.

"I don’t know where everyone got the idea that I don’t go to one on one therapy." Sara shook her head. "I go three times a week just like everyone else."

"You do?"

"Like I could get out of it? Dr. Grayson hunts me down if I’m even five minutes late."

"Hmm." He frowned.

"Should we all believe everything we hear?" She challenged him.

"No." He shook his head, thinking of the rumors floating around about him and his friends. "We shouldn’t."

"Okay then." She stood up and looked out the window, "I’ll see you later."

Man does she run hot and cold. JC thought to himself. "Okay, I’ll see you later."

JC sat alone in the dining room for a couple minutes after Sara left. He was just about ready to head back to his room when Dr. Grayson walked in quickly, "Good, there you are. You have a phone call." She said, slightly out of breath.

"I’d rather not take it." JC said softly as he headed for the door.

"It’s Tom Thompson, JC. I think you should take it in my office." Dr. Grayson explained as she rested her hand on JC's shoulder.

"What happened?"

"Come with me." She led JC down the hall to her large, warm office. He stood beside her desk nervously as she sat behind it and picked the phone up, "Tom? Okay, I have JC here. I’m going to put him on." She said into the phone.

Dr. Grayson extended the phone to JC. He stared at it for a second, desperately wanting to grab it and shout at Tom to tell him what happened, and at the same time not wanting to know. JC tentatively took the phone and held it to his ear. He didn’t say anything, but Tom heard his breath, "JC?"

"Yeah?" JC whispered as he leaned against the wall, causing the phone cord to knock a jar of pencils over. Dr. Grayson knelt to pick them up as JC stuck his thumb in his mouth and chewed on the nail. "Yeah Tom, what… what’s going on?"

"Are you okay?" Were the first words out of Tom’s mouth.

JC looked confused for a second, "What? Yeah, I’m fine."

"JC there’s been an accident." Tom said slowly.

JC blood ran cold and he couldn’t catch his breath. "Who? When? What happened?"

"Lance and Justin were-"

"Are they okay?" JC interrupted him.

"They’re in the hospital right now JC."

"Are they okay?" He repeated, a little louder.

"They’re going to be just fine."

"Dammit Tom. Are. They. Okay?"

"Lance will be released tomorrow, he broke his-"

"What about Justin?" JC’s heart was pounding in his ears as sweat dripped down his back.

"He’s in surgery right now, but-"

"What happened?" JC interrupted again.

"JC let me finish." Tom said sternly.

"Sorry." JC said quietly.

"I’ll start over." Tom took a deep breath and continued, "Justin and Lance were hit head on, on their way to Wayne's house up in the hills. Lance broke his collarbone and his nose, and he’s got stitches across his forehead. He was driving so when they hit, he slammed into the steering wheel. Justin was riding shotgun, and when they hit he was flung forward. He’s got a bad concussion and a gash on his cheek but what he’s in surgery for is his liver. The seatbelt across his lap pulled so tight that it damaged his liver and it was bleeding into his abdomen. So they’re fixing that right now."

"He’s going to be okay?" JC asked. "Both of them?"

"Yeah Jace, they’re gonna be good as new."

"Jesus." JC let out the breath he hadn’t realized he was holding. "Jesus, Tom. What the hell happened to the airbags?"

"They were in Steve’s MG, that was before airbags."

"Shit." JC whispered. "Can I go see them? Where are they?"

"They’re at Cedars." Tom said slowly, "I talked to that doctor there, she says you’re doing really good-"

"Tom, I have to see them. I have to." JC insisted. "I’m getting better, I promise." He sounded like a kid promising his mom he’d be good if she just let him go outside to play.

"I know you are."

"I’ll come back. I just want to see the guys with my own eyes. Then I’ll come right back here." He pleaded to Tom, but looked straight at Dr. Grayson.

"I’ve cleared it with the doctor. Johnny will be there to get you in an hour." Tom said after a minute’s pause.

"Thank you, Tom." JC whispered as tears sprung up in his eyes, the full impact of what happened was sinking in.

"I’ll see you there, okay kid?" Tom asked.

"Yeah."

"Put the doctor back on." JC handed the phone back to Dr. Grayson and fell back into the leather couch behind him. He took a deep breath and rested his head in his hands.

"Hello?" Dr. Grayson asked as she took the phone.

"He’s… he want’s to come back." Tom sounded shocked.

"I heard." Dr. Grayson nodded.

"Does he know that you were going to release him?"

"No." She shook her head.

"Is he… I mean, does he have to come back?"

"If he thinks that’s best." She said softly.

"What does that mean?" Tom asked, "Is he better or not?"

"He’s doing very well."

"Yeah but if he thinks he needs to come back…"

"We can talk about this more later." Dr. Grayson said as she caught JC’s eye. "We’ll have JC ready to be picked up in an hour. See you then." She hung up then stood beside JC. "How are you feeling about all of this?"

"I’m okay." He said softly.

"You kept in control very well." Dr. Grayson said gently. JC only nodded as he stood up, "You’re really doing well here JC. I’m glad to see you opening up more." She thought back to just that morning when he was sitting with Sara. "And I’m glad to see you reaching out to Sara, she really needs it."

"She came to me." He mumbled as he headed for the door.

"She came… you mean she approached you?"

"Yeah." JC nodded.

"JC, she hasn’t initiated any kind of conversation since she’s been here."

JC shrugged and opened the office door, "She’s… she just needs help Dr. Grayson."

"I know she does JC."

"She doesn’t think you understand."

"I know she thinks that." The doctor nodded and leaned against the door jam.

"I don’t think you do either. Her anyways. I don’t think you understand her."

"I’m not sure she understands herself."

JC nodded slowly, "Yeah, that could be it too."

"Your ride will be here shortly. Why don’t you go get ready."

"What time will I be back here?"

"I’d like you back before ten." She nodded.

"Okay." JC said as he turned to walk down the hall, his bare feet making little noise as he passed the nurses station.

 

"Hey man, your rides here." Jim said as he pushed JC’s door open.

"Thanks." JC said softly. He grabbed his sweatshirt and followed Jim out the front doors of the building. Johnny was standing beside his truck with his arms crossed over his broad chest.

"Hey kid." Johnny smiled as JC walked up.

"Hi Johnny." JC said quietly as Johnny pulled him in for a hug.

"How are you?"

"I’m all right." JC pulled the door open and slid into the passenger seat. He buckled his seat belt nervously as Johnny walked around to the drivers side and climbed in. "I have to be back here by ten."

"Okay." Johnny nodded and started the car. He let it idle for a minute before driving down the long driveway to the main street.

Sara watched the dark green truck pull away from the curb and drive down the road. She fought back tears as her so-called friend left, and didn’t look back.

 

On to part 5

 

 

Copyright � 2000 Amy Lynn