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Skins: Secrets Out

Booth Lane College

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a part of Skins: Secrets Out, by LivyGrey.

None

LivyGrey holds sovereignty over Booth Lane College, giving them the ability to make limited changes.

1,582 readers have been here.

Copyright: The creator of this roleplay has attributed some or all of its content to the following sources:

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Setting

Default Location for Skins: Secrets Out
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Minimap

Booth Lane College is a part of Skins: Secrets Out.

9 Characters Here

Arabella Swift [249] "You dumb fucking bitch,"
Jamie Chapman [241] "And all of the mothers raise their babies to stay away from me."
Ellie Wallace [160] "Don't belong to no city, don't belong to no man."
Nate Carlile [160] "I am the passenger,"
Skylar Grocott [43] "I got paint on my finger tips, paint on my soul but I'd rather be colourful than blacked out and faded."
Alex Robinson [38] "So this time, I'll make you proud."
Celine Dawson [10] "What's the worst thing that could happen?"
Fee Akkerman [9] "I swear, I'm not nearly as scary as I look!"
Yeong-gi Mirren [5] "Come on, I ain't that bad to be around."

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Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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How long had he been out? As he started coming around again, all he was really aware of was the incredible pain coursing through the body. He didn't know where he hurt the most. Bella had been right- this had been a bad idea. Bella. He needed to call her.

"Can you hear me, love?" Somebody asked from across the car. He nodded a little, groaning a little. "You're going to be fine, sweetheart, the ambulance is on its way," they said. God, just even breathing hurt. Every time he inhaled or exhaled, it felt like somebody was stabbing him in the lung. He started coughing, and for a moment was afraid that he wouldn't stop. But eventually he caught his breath.

"My phone," he managed to force out. "Your phone? It's here, love," the woman said. He was aware enough to know now that it was a woman, and she was surprisingly calm considering how busted up he probably looked. "Call Bella, let me talk to her," he forced out again, but then had to cough. The woman hesitated. "Bella, you said?" She asked once he'd stopped coughing. "Yeah," he replied, and a few seconds later, the phone was put to his ear. It was still working, then.

"Bella? Bella, I fucked up," he said, inhaling a little too deeply and wincing. "You were right, this was a bad idea, I'm sorry," he managed to say, before he had to give in to a coughing fit. He just hoped that she wouldn't hate him, that she would understand somewhat.


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Not only was Sky pretty, she also happened to be nice as fuck as well. She didn't seem to pity Ellie- or if she did, she had the decency to not show it. Ellie listened to her advice, wiping her eyes every so often. "Sky, how the fuck are you so bloody perfect? Like you're pretty, you're nice, you're successful... Do you snore? Or pick your nose? Because I can't find a single fault with you, and it's really fucking annoying," Ellie said, laughing a little.

"I think you're right. Me being mad at Nate hasn't done anybody any good, and I fucking hate myself for ruining this evening. Never let yourself become destructive, Sky, it will ruin your life. You'll want to destroy everything good because you feel like it'll all just go wrong anyway," she said. "But please, don't leave me alone with Nate, because I'll end up crying again or slapping him or do something stupid." She got to her feet, wiping her trousers to dislodge any dirt.

"C'mon, then, let's go squash my pride."


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"Bella, if this is anyone's fault, it's Ellie's. You were completely in the right. That's something that should stay between you and Jamie. From what I've heard, it's been a dramatic few weeks," he said, laughing a little.

"And Nate, I think this is a discussion that just you and Ellie need to have. She doesn't have any grudge against me, and I think she'll only close up if she feels like she's outnumbered. And besides, if you two used to be best friends, then I don't think you'll need me as backup. But I'll still be nearby if you need me," he said, grinning a little and nudging Nate. "Now, go seek her out and talk to her. As far as I know, she's only armed with her fists, so you should be safe enough."

He patted his pockets as a phone started ringing, frowning. "Is that either of you?" He asked as he found his phone.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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Bella smiled weakly at Alex and nodded. "Yeah, I guess it is and you're right about that. I only did one day of school and there were enough episodes to last me the year," She laughed rolling her eyes at the thought, she was joking around to try and reassure her subconscious everything would be okay but she couldn't shake the feeling of terror and the haunting burden of the ominous atmosphere. "Thanks though Alex, nice to know I didn't fuck up to royally," She shrugged running her hand through her cropped hair biting her lip with tension. She was worrying and she couldn't quite help it or hide it.

"Go get her tiger," She chimed to Nate jokingly leaning over to land a friendly punch on his arms to which he rolled his eyes. Upon the questioning of the ringing phone, Bella quickly realised it was her by the 'Adventure Time' ring tone. She might be one of the supposed 'tough' girls at school but she was still a sucker for shows like that, she didn't even care if they were on the Kids section of Netflix. She scrambled through her pockets to find it, praying it'd be Jamie telling her he was on his way back and she saw his name on her phone screen and with a trembling hand swiped to answer the call and began pacing away from the group to have the conversation more privately.

"Jamie?" She breathed anxiously. "Are you okay? I've been wo-"

She heard the tone of his voice and her heart stopped beating and fell into the darkest pits of her stomach where it sat swallowing her like it had the gravitational field of a supermassive black hole.

"You should be sorry, you absolute knob head," She whimpered her voice trembling with tears because even without his explanation she'd worked it out- his breathing was wrong, his voice was wrong- his words they didn't sound like him. They sounded like Bella when she called him after she fucked up. What was with it with the two of them and only ever calling each other because they were hurt.

"Are you okay? Where are you? I'm coming now. What's happened J?" Tears fell down her cheeks because she already knew the truth and the reality of the situation, she just couldn't face it. She disguised her voice and shouted to Alex.

"Jamie got lost, I'm going to go pick him up now. Might be a while if his car's packed in," She lied to protect Jamie because she knew he wouldn't want the fuss of everyone being there but no way would she not go after him now to be there for him. Whatever had happened was bad and he was hurt, she could tell by how his voice strained with agony. She ran to her truck and climbed in, too rushed to put her seatbelt on but still a considerate driver as she reversed out of the camp and made her way back on to the main road turning in the direction she'd watched Jamie go off in.





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He tried to chuckle lightly at the conversation but he felt sick with anxiety but he swallowed back his fear and his pride and nodded. "I'll go now," He told Alex before giving Bella a reassuring smile to remind her no body was pissed because he knew how paranoid and insecure she got about these things- she confided in him once at school when she was a bit worse for the drink but she didn't seem to remember telling him, so he never told anyone else or brought it up.

"It'll be you Bell. My phone's in my car," He told her before wandering off to track down Ellie.


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Skylar laughed at Ellie shaking her head softly. "I do snore and I have a terrible habit of sleep talking, walking and god knows what else. I'm not perfect Ellie, I just fucked up enough times to know what's right to do now. I've learnt a lot of lessons to get where I am and none of them were particularly nice. Well, you've only known me five minutes- does my ability to constantly chatter not grind on you a bit?" She asked with a small snicker of a laugh and she sighed delicately. "I won't Ellie but you won't again either, you've got friends here and if you want you can count me in that- they'll keep you on the straight and narrow," She assured gently.

"And I won't but maybe giving him a quick punch wouldn't be so bad an idea," She suggested jokingly. "No don't punch him- he might get upset that you messed up his hair," She bounced onto her feet and smiled at Ellie assuringly. "It'll be fine, let's go," She chuckled.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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"I don't know where I am, Bella, I went off the road-" he started, but then had to cough again. He could hear him yelling to somebody- probably Nate or Alex. The line went dead as she hung up. "She's hung up," he said, and the woman took the phone from his ear. "Good timing, I can see the paramedics coming now. You're going to be fine, love," she said. Then the paramedics were there, one sitting behind him and holding his neck and the other shining a light into his eyes and talking to him.

"What's your name, son?" The one shining the light into his eyes asked. "Jamie," he replied, coughing again. "Jamie. Jamie, you're going to be fine. I'm just going to give you something for the pain, okay?" The man said, and Jamie nodded as much as he could. It had to be morphine, because it dulled the pain to an incredible extent. Breathing still hurt, and any movement sent pain coursing through him, but it wasn't as bad as it had been.

It also had the added effect of dulling his awareness. He was able to answer the paramedic's questions, but everything else seemed to be in snapshots. One second, he was sitting in the car, the next, they had him out of it and strapped to a board, carrying him back up to the road. Would Bella follow them to the hospital if they were gone before she arrived? But she'd been drinking as well- or had she? She'd definitely been smoking, anyway. But she had to be more sober than he'd been, right? No, she'd be fine. She had to be.


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Ellie just nodded at Sky's comment about not being destructive again, but couldn't find it in herself to say anything. Ellie had had these great friends all this time- and even when Jamie and Bella were fawning all over each other and Nate was being a pain in the ass, she knew that they'd listen to her and help her out. But yet, she'd still ended up trying to ruin the group, ruin all of her friends, ruin everything good. It was built into her code to be destructive, and she hadn't managed to get rid of that particular flaw. And god knows, she'd tried.

As she headed back towards the campsite, she heard another engine start up and leave. Probably Bella, running after Jamie. Maybe it was better that this was kept to as few people as possible though- she'd hopefully be less likely to close up and go all spitfire on them all.


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Alex looked up as Bella started talking to Jamie. Even though she said that he'd just gotten lost, there was something in her expression that said that that wasn't all that was happening. But he didn't ask, and instead got to his feet and followed Nate into the forest to find Ellie- and Sky, because presumably that was where the other girl had disappeared to.

"Oi, Nate, wait up!" He called, jogging a little to catch up to him. "I think something's happened to Jamie- either his car broke down or he got lost or something. Bella looked pretty unhappy leaving," he muttered. He just hoped that it was something like Jamie's car breaking down or him realising that he was too drunk to drive- he was praying that it was nothing else. Jamie was a talented musician and an incredible friend, and he couldn't have had any bad karma following him.

They encountered Ellie before too long, who rubbed her palms on her jeans. "So... we need to talk," she said to Nate. Alex glanced at Sky and pointed back towards the campsite, indicating that he thought they should leave her alone.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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As hypocritical as it might be, Bella didn't think twice about driving intoxicated she just needed to be with Jamie again, she was terrified for him and thinking about the possibility of him being hurt and alone made her eyes sting with salty tears of fears. She wasn't angry at him but why couldn't he have listened to her? She should have been with him. She should have done more to make him stop. Her knuckles gripped the wheel and were white like snow on rooftops but her fear made her alert and though she'd been drinking, she'd only actually drank two drinks but on her hollow stomach they'd take their effect eventually but she could hold her drink and she hoped like hell now she'd be fine for the mean time.

She had to be.

She drove faster than she would have had she been sober or maybe that was just the pressure of anxiety forcing her foot on the accelerator.

She hadn't meant to hang up on the phone, it'd been an accident whilst she was getting in the car but shaking with one hand she forced it into the hands free set and tried to call the number again. Maybe he'd be able to answer, tell her where he was so she could find him.

She turned onto the main road and drove maybe a quarter of a mile before she the lights flashing and her stomach churned with horror. She pulled up but the ambulance was already turning away and she rammed her hand against the glove box in frustration and a small cry escaped her as she buried her head in her hands. How could this have happened to them? What kind of state was he in? She noticed the lady not far from Jamie's car and she got out to go talk to her. Maybe she knew how he was. Maybe she could tell her something.

Bella climbed out the car still in a state and she rushed over to her, struggling in her disorderly fashion. "Excuse me, did you see him? Did you call the ambulance?" Her questions weren't well explained but she was too panicked, too worried- her breaths were catching in her throat to the point where she wandered if she was still breathing. Jamie was probably the only person who knew about her anxiety and the only one who'd ever been able to calm her down and he was the one person she couldn't talk to right now. She knew she needed to pull it together but that was easier said then done. "Is he okay?"





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"I'm sure he's alright. And if he's got a problem, Bella will fix it. They'll be alright if they're together and if they need us they'll call," He reassured calmly and he believed it to. There probably wasn't a lot that either Bella or Jamie hadn't been through at some point but they always seemed to come out on top and unscathed. They were both pretty resilient from what Nate could see and he'd always admired that but maybe he didn't see the whole picture.

Nate looked up at Ellie and nodded gently in agreement. "Yeah, we do," He agreed gently. "I was going to grab some things out of the car, mind giving me a hand since you're probably stronger than me," He tried to joke but it was kind of weak, he was nervous for a reason he didn't quite understand and he knew his excuse was a crap one but he'd never been a good liar.


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Skylar smiled gently when she saw Ellie and Nate talking, they'd be okay- she knew it and it brought genuine joy to heart to know things would start improving for them from this point onwards. As long as they were both honest now, she couldn't see how things could go wrong- especially when she knew both sides of the story. She sat down with Alex considering everyone else had left and she sighed lightly.

"I'll tell you one thing, even with all the drama this is probably still the best party I've ever been to- if it even counts," She chuckled lightly. "That's a bit sad really isn't it?" She shrugged picking up the two bottles in the middle and pouring herself and very weak vodka and coke. She stretched her arms out a bit in front of her like a small child reaching out for the mobile above their cradle but she just wanted to loosen up the tension in her muscles a bit. "So, you in college?" She knew it was probably a bit of a casual and awkward conversation to have but she wasn't one for silence and she wasn't going to talk about anybody else's business so she guessed small talk had to be the way forward till Ellie and Nate were done talking.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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They were loading him into the ambulance, and Bella still wasn't there. He didn't even know where his phone was to see if she was okay. He also didn't really have the brain capacity to worry about it too much- the constant movement sent pain coursing through his body, and now the paramedics were hooking up various monitors to him and still talking away to him. He just really wanted Bella to be there- but then it was too late and they were leaving.

The woman looked up as someone approached. A young girl, perhaps the same age as the injured boy. Judging by how upset she was, this was the Bella he'd wanted to speak to. "Yeah, I called the ambulance. He went off the road trying not to hit me or a deer that jumped out in front of him," she explained. "He's pretty busted up- his shoulder was definitely dislocated, and the paramedics reckoned he had a few broken ribs as well. He was bleeding from somewhere as well, but I didn't get a good look at it. I still have his phone, actually, can I give it to you?" She held out the phone- the screen was almost shattered, but somehow still working. She looked the girl up and down- she didn't appear to be in any fit state to drive. "Do you want me to drive you into the hospital?" She asked.


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She smiled a little at his comment and accompanied him over to the car. "Your clothes are in Sky's bag, by the way. It was stupid and immature, but I just wanted to... I don't even know," she admitted, running a hand through her hair. The words were right there on the tip of her tongue, and she had to force them out. "I'm sorry. For that stupid fucking prank and for everything," she admitted, running her palms along her jeans. Would he ask questions? Would he want to know why she hated feeling weak?

As they got to the car, she forced a bit of a grin. "So, what exactly did you want to get?" She asked, wishing that she didn't have to have this discussion. She just wished that they could erase the last few hours from their memory and move on, forgetting that any of this had ever happened. But that couldn't happen. She needed to be honest, to tell the full truth- and it was just so hard to get out.


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Alex mixed himself a drink, slightly stronger than Sky's, and laughed at her comment. "It wasn't bad until Ellie decided that she needed to destroy all of her personal relationships," he remarked, laughing. "But I'm guessing you haven't been to very many parties, then," he added.

He shook his head. "Nope, I'm working more or less full time. I'm lucky in that there are a few bands that always hire me when they're looking for a studio or touring guitarist or both, and there's also a studio in London that hire me pretty regularly. I also have a YouTube channel that earns me some revenue as well," he said. "Turns out there are ways to make a living in music, even if you're not in a band full time," he remarked, grinning at her. "I'm lucky in that I get to do what I love as a job."

"What about you?" He asked. "Are you finished school?"

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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She took the phone in her hand running her finger over the cracks with a slight quiver. She was struck with horror and fear by what had happened, she didn't know how to react and god knows she wasn't sober enough to think. She looked at the woman was surprised by her kind offer- considering the situation. An overly skinny tattooed, black haired and intoxicated girl who smelt vaguely of smoke running over in tears, she hadn't expected any kind of sympathy or understanding from the other woman. Her hand was hovering over her mouth as she tried to calm herself down. He was hurt but it didn't sound like anything irreparable from what the woman said but every injury she'd listened had burnt into her mind with guilt of how she was technically responsible.

The camp out?
Her idea.

The booze?
She contributed.

The drama and tension?
Her mistake.

And she didn't stop him from leaving.

It weighed on her conscience like the sky was on her shoulders. "Would you really do that? Thank you. Thank you so much. I'd take myself but I can't. I've drank, I'd be fuc-, damned if I did," She mumbled rubbing her eyes with her hands to try and pull herself back together. "Thank you," She repeated quietly. She took a moment and turned her head trying to tranquilize the frenzy in her mind and she took a long deep breath.

"I'm Bella, I'm his- I don't know, I'm his best friend or something," She sighed, she'd finally managed to control her tears and she wiped them back and forced herself to calm. She'd be no good to anyone forget Jamie like this.

The story though, what happened it was so fucking Jamie- protecting an animal. Had the situation not been so dire, it's the kind of thing that'd make her fondly roll her eyes at his dedication and commitment. Bella was the same with animals and she cared for them but never to the same extent. She replayed what the woman had said in her head trying to focus on the things that could give her hope and relief- dislocated not fractured, broken but not definitely- bleeding but breathing. She was having to consciously stop herself from getting caught up in the scary things about it, she needed to be strong and calm somehow. She had to.





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He looked at her sincerely for a long moment, he wasn't questioning her apology but he was simply questioning himself on if he deserved the apology and if he should ask for answers or leave everything be. He chuckled rolling his eyes a little when she explained; "I don't blame you," He replied gently with a shrug as she told him where his clothes were. "But if you wanted to see what I've got going on you only had to ask," He told her with a wink- he was very clearly joking and he knew Ellie would get that, he just wanted to keep the conversation as light and old school as how they were when their relationship was at it's norm.

"It's okay. I'm sorry for causing a scene at the gig, kind of funny actually- I was probably the only dude there without tattoo's snake bites and a scene hairstyle but I was the one to physically make a scene," He was thinking out loud and rambling so he stopped himself. "But hey, I know you and you don't like talking and you know me and I'm shit at it, so can we just clean slate, move along, forget about it and hug it or whatever the fuck people do now days," He asked calmly offering a small smile as he rolled his eyes at his own stupidity.

He passed her the first bag of sleeping bags and pillows for the tent and then grabbed the other himself. "Just the shit needed so that this lazy arsehole can still get 10 hours kip," He chided pointing to himself with his thumb.


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"Wow, that's pretty awesome to be honest. I'm glad that's working out for you," She told him with a positive smile being her overly friendly but genuine self now everyone was kind of relaxing again. "Sounds like you've got it all sorted really. I'm at college part time studying Physics- it's what I want to do at University and the rest of the time I do the modelling shit to keep the family happy," She shrugged looking slightly bored at the thought of modelling. It was clear she had no real passion or interest for it but she liked being able to earn her own money independently and keep up her Mother's reputation, she liked impressing her and living up to their expectations but she just didn't want to as much anymore as she had before when she was growing up.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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Before long, he was in the hospital, being wheeled into some room. Somebody was yelling about x-rays and scans, and then somebody else was talking to him. It was all suddenly a little too much, and right there and then, he wanted Bella more than anything. But then he was being whisked away for scans and tests and x-rays and he didn't know what else- but Bella wasn't there.

The woman nodded. "I guessed- as soon as he came around, he wanted to call you. Come on, then, Bella. Let's not make either of you wait any longer." She headed over to her car and climbed in. She got the impression that "best friend" was putting it lightly. This strange, tattooed, incredibly skinny girl seemed worried about her friend, and it wasn't right to let her drive. Not when she had been drinking and was also probably emotionally fragile.


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She laughed at his comments, wrapping her arms around herself. "Nate, honey, I've already seen everything you've got," she said, lowering her voice so that there was no risk of the others hearing. "And I was going to ask for a hug before you handed me what looks like an entire double duvet set, covers and all," she said teasingly, grinning at him. But she still needed to tell him why she'd reacted like that, and she couldn't just keep it all in any longer.

"Real talk, though, Nate, I might... There's a chance that I could turn on you like that again. You know that I do have destructive tendencies from time to time, and..." She sighed, clutching the bag of pillows. "When you treat me like a porcelain doll, you make me feel weak. And I've gone through a lot of shit that's made me feel weak, so when you do that, I just have to lash out. I hate feeling weak more than anything, Nate, and I think that's what fuels my destructive tendencies. So if I start acting like that again, just... I dunno, let me beat you in an arm-wrestle or something," she said, shrugging and forcing a bit of a grin. "Just don't let me cut everyone I care about off again, okay?"


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He raised an eyebrow as she told him what he was studying. "A model studying physics? Just shows you don't always have to choose between brains and beauty, doesn't it?" He said, grinning at her. "Still, that's really awesome. I hope you get there- imagine if you became a famous physicist! You could be all like "Oh yeah, I paid for my university degree by modelling. Talk about busting stereotypes!" He said, taking a mouthful out of his drink and glancing at Ellie and Nate. They both already looked a lot happier, and it wasn't hard to tell that they really were good friends. He believed Nate when he said that there wasn't anything romantic between them- it seemed purely platonic, and he was happy to see them getting along again. It was better than the awful tension there had been for a while there.

Characters Present

Character Portrait: Arabella Swift Character Portrait: Jamie Chapman Character Portrait: Ellie Wallace Character Portrait: Nate Carlile Character Portrait: Skylar Grocott Character Portrait: Alex Robinson
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Bella nodded to her quietly and she looked at her truck, it was in the hard shoulder so it was out he way. She'd get a lift here in the morning and pick it up again but she couldn't worry about that right now. She had to get herself to Jamie, that was so much more important than anything else was to her.

Once they were in the car, she looked over at women and with a genuine expression of sincerity. "Thank you so much, honestly you have no idea how much I appreciate this. Once I've seen him, I'll give you some fuel money or something but thank you," She told her with a broken voice as she looked out the window at the wreckage from the crash. It made her feel sick with worry to think Jamie had been amongst all of that crushed metal and broken glass. She really needed to pull herself together but anxiety made her spin and with all the waves of emotion overwhelming her, she couldn't drown her demons at all.

The drive felt like hours but they couldn't have been that long, Bella kept repeating her gratitude and thankfulness at every opportunity promising to pay the woman for her time and the fuel. Yet once they arrived she was rushing straight inside to try and find him. She stood at the reception desk and spoke to the woman with a quivering voice; "I need to find Jamie Chapman, he was brought in by an ambulance," She explained weakly. "I'm his...sister," She lied remembering they probably wouldn't let her in to see him if she wasn't family.





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"You say that like it's a bad thing," He scoffed smiling lightly at her. He was so relieved to be laughing around with her like they used to- it was so natural for both of them and it felt right to be laughing with her instead of laughing at each other as part of some kind of high school revenge game. "You hugs? You do realise to most people that's a gesture considered to be friendly or affectionate? I guess we'll just have to leave it as an IOU on your part," He shrugged jokingly but as her expression changed, his did to listen to her and he stopped joking around to be serious because he could see she was trying to be.

He listened to her and nodded. "Of course El," He told her gently in all sincerity but now he'd given her his word, he couldn't let their moods be dampened by everything else that had happened so being the guy he was he tried to pick up the mood. "I'm not letting you do that again you're my partner in crime, I need you around to keep me sober, in all seriousness I know it's impossible to get addicted to pot but I really think I'm testing that fact," Carrying the pile of things he had in one hand, he put the other around her shoulders for a moment as a brief make do hug. "I'm really glad we're ok y'know- it was pretty shit not having you around,"


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She laughed and smiled gently at him nodding before knocking back some of her drink. "Yeah I couldn't I? Or picking up a noble peace prize for establishing successful nuclear fusion that can be industrialized and in my acceptance speech being like; "Oh and please, check out my blog and my interview with W magazine on my fall wardrobe must haves," She laughed softly at the ridiculousness of the idea and grinned gently at the other guy. "Thanks though, I love it though- I mean it's challenging but that's the beauty of it really. What's the point in anything if it's easy right?" She shrugged gently.

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God, he hated being in the hospital. Shitty food and pain aside, it brought back memories of that particular incident when he was sixteen. The fact that his parents were back to arguing outside the door didn't help. While he'd been in surgery or getting tests or at some point when he'd been out, the doctors had discovered the scarring on his arms and legs. When that had been combined with the apparent liver damage, they'd sat down and told his parents about it. The only good thing that had come from it was that his dad was sober pretty much all the time.

His dad blamed his mom, his mom blamed his dad, and Jamie just hated himself. He'd been lucky- he'd gotten away with a dislocated shoulder, broken ribs, a number of cuts on his body, and only a little internal bleeding. But being unable to drink, unable to play music, unable to do anything except count the number of tiles on the ceiling didn't help. Even the psychiatrist who appeared every so often didn't help much. Apparently it was Jamie's problem, but he didn't want to spill his guts with his parents constantly just outside the door and visitors walking in. He just wanted to go home and deal with this all in peace.


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When Ellie opened her eyes, it took her a minute to get her bearings. She was in some stranger's apartment. She'd met him at a club the night before. She sat up, but her head spun precariously. She felt lightheaded and weak- and not in a hangover kinda way. She managed to climb out of bed and reclaim her clothes, finding her purse and her phone. It was four days since the accident- four days since she'd last had any methadone. Shit.

She pulled her clothes back on, not caring that she was making it obvious that she hadn't been home the night before. And as she shoved her phone back into her bag, a mark on her arm caught her attention. Tiny- like a needle. There was a few of them, and they looked hauntingly familiar. No. No.

She suddenly felt sick as everything fell into place. It explained why the last few days had been a blur- why she hadn't been aware of her withdrawal until now. She'd fucked everything up again. She'd nearly killed Jamie and now she'd fucking relapsed. As she left the apartment, she realised that she didn't have a clue where she was. She just started walking, praying that she'd come to a bus stop. Fortunately for her, there was one barely two hundred metres down the street.

She sat down on the bench, pulling her phone out of her bag and trying to wake it. The screen stayed black- and it was at that point that Ellie completely lost it, bursting into tears. She'd fucked up, she'd ruined everything.

"Hey, are you okay?" A female voice asked. Ellie looked up, wiping her eyes. It was a girl, maybe a year or two younger than her. "Not really- my phone's dead and everything's gone wrong and..." she stopped herself. The girl sat down beside her. "Do you want to call somebody?" She asked gently. Bella probably wanted Ellie's bones to grind her bread right now, Jamie couldn't drive anyway, Alex probably didn't want anything to do with her... But did Nate hate her? If he did, it was probably the least out of the group.

"Yeah, can I use your phone?" Ellie asked. The girl nodded, unlocking it then handing it over. Ellie didn't know why or how she knew Nate's number off by heart, but she did. She dialled out the number, praying that he'd answer.

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To: Jamie
Can I come see you today? I'm worrying myself out of mind and plus I think they'll let me now


Bella paused at the door, her dark eyes almost black with misery and exhaustion. She hadn't slept since Jamie's crash and she hadn't been home either. She'd slept at the hospital a couple of times but once Jamie's parents arrived and everybody realised she was lying about being his family, they didn't let her back in. How many days had it been? She tried to count it on her fingers but she had no idea, she didn't know how many days she'd been away from home- going from hospital to trying to sleep in cars in the car park to wandering the town all night and not sleeping at all. It had to stop.

She took a deep breath and opened the door, within seconds of stepping inside and shutting the door she witnessed a foul screech of her name.

"Bella is that you?" Anna's voice cut through Bella look glass and she visibly trembled, with all Bella's attitude, spunk and bravery- she'd never have enough to truly face up to her Mother. She couldn't do it, she looked in her eyes and wanted nothing more but to curl up and sob or on the worst days, she'd rather just die but there was too much Bella needed to do now to let her Mother force her around.

"Yes,"

"Where have you been? Do you have any idea how worried I was? You haven't done any of your chores, you haven't been to school, no one has seen you, some lad came around asking where his truck was- have you even showered? You look like absolute shit," Anna appeared in the hallway staring at her daughter with pure disgust and once she was close enough, Bella felt it.

The disappointment, the disgust, the anger, the outrage- she felt it in the fresh bruise forming on her cheek after knuckles struck flesh. Bella looked at her without tears only sourness in her eyes.

"I'm not staying. I'm showering, I'm getting my clothes and I'm going back to the hospital. I need to see Jamie," Before she could be stopped or before she could chicken out, Bella bolted up the stairs and slammed her bedroom door behind her- having a look on the door not only meant Anna could lock her in but it meant Bella could lock her out, even if it was just for a while. Running on borrowed time, Bella slipped into the en suite and jumped into the shower as soon as she'd stripped despite the water being icy cold. For a long moment she just stood there thinking, watching the remains of her black make-up drip down the funnel, she couldn't stop thinking about what happened to him and how responsible she felt for his pain. She even cried a little as she stood there but soon she started rubbing the shampoo into her hair and began to hurry. Once she was clean, she was aware of a sharp numbing pain in her stomach- it'd been constant for a while now, when had she last ate? She couldn't remember but she knew she'd throw up if she tried, not even by intention. She looked at her reflection and sighed, why couldn't she look like Ellie or Sky? Or any other girl from her school. She was never usually one to dwell on her appearance but since she'd started losing weight she'd become very self conscious. She stared at the scales on the floor and found herself stepping onto it with her eyes closed, she didn't want to look and when she opened her eyes she could have bawled in horror.

That number.

It was smaller than the radius of the mood ring she used to wear as a child.

She sighed and began towel drying her hair as she walked into her bedroom and dressed in the first bits of clothing she found which turned out to be her shredded black jeans and a vintage nirvana shirt that fell slightly short of her prominent hip bones. She bit her lip and forced on her black vans and began stuffing her clothes into her bag alongside her phone charger, her iPod and any money she had saved up. She wasn't running away but she was going to spend as much time as she could at the hospital helping or anywhere that wasn't home. So she packed everything into her black backpack, pulled on her leather jacket and then climbed out her window so there was no risk of her Mother stopping her on the way out.

Once out the house, she started the short walk into the main city and the hospital. When she arrived, she pleaded with the receptionist but she wouldn't give in, so when she turned a blind eye, Bella snuck upstairs into the ward and looked around to try and find him. Her cheek was still stained red but she wasn't bothered about who noticed, she just wanted to talk to him and see he was okay.





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Nate's life had gone back to how it always had been before he was smoking a lot less though. Everything felt a bit more relaxed now he wasn't head to head with Ellie but then there was Jamie. He felt so bad for him but he didn't think there was anyone to blame. He'd text him a couple of times to wish him well but considering Bella hadn't even managed to get in to the hospital to go see him, he hadn't tried. Bella deserved to be the first one to get to see him again. Nate could imagine she wasn't exactly being easy on herself about it so he was trying to keep himself out of the way for a while until things levelled out a bit more for them all. He'd been worrying about Ellie though, he hadn't heard from her for a day or so but he figured she was probably just being Ellie so he hadn't done anything about it yet.

He was sat on the fence of his Grandfather's field when his phone began vibrating in his pocket. He had a joint in his hand but at least it wasn't a blunt and it was his first since the party. He was staying at his Grandfather's farm house to celebrate the man's 80th but he wasn't far from home, it was only on the outskirts of town. He quite liked it here, it was calm and relaxed- he had nothing but good memories here and it was just such a therapeutic and beautiful place to be.

As he looked at the name on his phone, he could remember bringing Ellie here once as a young teenager- the family had decided it was a good to play lacrosse with all the relatives and he'd practically begged her to come be his moral support for the day. He laughed gently at the memory and answered the phone.

"Hey Els, how are you?" He asked instantaneously to putting the phone to his ear.

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His phone buzzed on the little table beside him, and he winced as he reached over for it. The pain was better than it had been, but every movement still hurt. The fact that he only really had the use of one arm made things worse as well. He smiled a little as he saw the text from Bella.

please do. room 112, first floor. the nurse that's on the wards here will probably cast a blind eye if you look really worried and scared.

Apparently Bella had lied to try and see him that night, and they'd only found out when his parents turned up. They hadn't even intended to get her kicked out, but when they'd let it slip that they weren't actually related, they'd kicked her out and had refused to let her back in. It was so stereotypically Bella that it was almost funny. He really appreciated the gesture, and just wanted to see her again. Especially now that he was lucid- he wouldn't have wanted her to see him when they had him so dosed up on painkillers that he was basically sleeping all the time. That had made things look much worse than they actually were- a lot of the pain had even been from the surgery.


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She'd momentarily stopped crying while she'd waited for him to answer- but as soon as she heard his voice, she was in tears again.

"Nate, I fucked up. I really fucked up this time," she sobbed, wrapping her free arm around her chest. "Can you come get me? I'm... I'm at the King's Road bus stop," she said, reading the name from the map to her left. "I just... Everybody hates me, don't they? Jamie and Bella and Alex and you and Sky..." She just really wanted her best friend right now. No, not wanted- needed. She was sitting in a fucking bus stop in the same dress she'd worn to the club whenever the hell she'd gone. Did she even have any spare clothes? Or had she just been wearing this for the past four days? She didn't even know. She just wanted to go home and forget this ever happened. "Please don't hate me, Nate, please, just come get me, I just want to go home," she sobbed.

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To: Jamie
I'm on my way. This is the perfect opportunity to put that drama a-level into practice hey? ;)


Bella hung her head down and exaggerated her emotions for a long while after she'd red Jamie's text and rushed upstairs to the room Jamie had indicated. She hesitated at the door once she found his room and gazed in through the window, she didn't know what state he'd be in- what'd he'd look like and she didn't want him to see her reaction if it was upsetting. She looked at him and sighed softly. She'd probably never seen him so injured or hurt but she could see him and he was breathing and awake, he'd get better. She hadn't realised how lonely she'd been until she saw him and now she could finally talk to him again and be there for him through something that'd be really hard both of them but he'd done the same for her. He'd practically carried her in himself when she needed him and she'd never hesitate to do the same for him, in fact she'd sooner die than let him down when he needed her.

She checked around herself and then pushed the door and let herself in and instantly put on a brave face. She wouldn't be upset in front of him, she'd do everything she could to cheer him up instead so she poked her head around the door like a weasel and grinned gently at him. "Hey," She greeted letting herself in and shutting the door behind so none of the staff would realise she wasn't his family. She walked in and sat down in the visitor's chair, part of her just wanted to hug him and not let go again because last time she let him leave, he ended up here but she wasn't blinded by her emotions so much she couldn't see how much a hug like that would hurt him. "The staff in here are really bitchy you know? Did you parents tell you about how they dragged me out of here? I had to do like a mission impossible to get in here today," She told him softly.





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His whole expression and bubble of calamity came crashing done the second he heard the tone behind her voice. "Of course Ellie, it'll be okay. I'm at my Grandfather's so I'll be ten minutes but I'm coming. Do you need me to bring anything with me?" He asked already running inside to get his coat and leave. The celebrations for his Grandfather had been the previous day, so he wouldn't be running out on his birthday but he felt the need to briskly explain and he held the phone away for a moment and he knelt by his grandfather's chair to talk to him.

"Pops? You remember, Ellie right?"

"Your girlfriend sure,"

"No Pops, just my friend. But yeah she's a girl so you could call her that I guess. I think she's got herself a bit lost and I'm just gonna go pick her up. I'll make sure she's alright then I'll come back for dinner. Is that okay?" His grandfather had always been the kindest man Nate knew, he was the man Nate tried to be and so the man just nodded smiling.

"Bring her tea. She's good fun that girl but you go, go on," Nate smiled gently at him and voiced his appreciation before making off to get in the car, scribbling down the address on his palm with the pen he always kept in his coat.

"I'm coming Ellie, I'm leaving now,"

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He laughed a little as she mentioned the staff. "Yeah, they were a little embarrassed about it- they didn't realise that they'd react so badly to you not being family. But the nurses on this floor aren't so bad, they'll just turn a blind eye. As long as it's nothing too bad, obviously," he remarked. If she'd looked bad the night of the campout, she looked even worse now.

"You okay? No offence, but you look like shit," he said. It felt really good to have her here now- he'd been lonely as hell with only his parents to keep him company. It didn't help that, whenever they were in the same room as each other, you could cut the tension with a knife. But he could tell that everything wasn't okay. He'd known the night of the campout, but they were alone now. They could talk properly. "C'mon, you can tell me. But if the nurses or my parents come in, you're telling me a story that happened in school, okay?" He said, knowing that the chance of someone walking in on them was pretty high, and he knew that this wasn't something Bella wanted anyone but him to hear. Better to have a backup plan.


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"Just... just bring a hoodie or something, I'm freezing my butt off here," she said, wiping her eyes. Nate didn't seem mad- if anything, he seemed worried. She hated herself for tearing him away from his family, but she just needed someone right now. She hung up and handed the phone back to the other girl. "He'll be here in a few minutes. Thank you," she said, wiping her eyes again.

"Do you want me to wait with you?" The girl asked, handing her a tissue. Ellie shook her head. "He'll be here in like, ten minutes. I'll be fine. Thank you," she said, wiping her eyes and cheeks, before blowing her nose. The other girl didn't look entirely convinced, but she stood up and left. Ellie wrapped both arms around herself, still having to wipe stray tears from her cheeks. She felt like shit and she knew she looked like shit. She couldn't even remember the last time she'd eaten. But she could kind of remember climbing in through her window and getting her dress, so maybe she didn't have clothes lying abandoned anywhere. It seemed like something she'd do, so that was something.

But she'd still fucking relapsed. After this long. Had it been because she hadn't been taking her methadone? Or had she just gotten drunk and majorly messed up? She just wanted to go home and sleep properly and forget that this had ever happened. But that couldn't happen- because now they'd have to adjust her methadone dose to compensate so it would take her even longer to get off of that fucking thing and everybody would hate her for relapsing and Nate probably hated her for making him leave his family and-

Her hands were knotted in her hair and her knees drawn to her chest. She didn't know if she was sobbing again or hyperventilating but she just knew that she really, really wanted to be somewhere else.

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She looked up at him and smiled sadly at his comment, her first instinct was to try and make a defensive joke to brush over things; "Hey, I know I've got no foundation on but still," but she instantly withdrew. He was right, how could she even try to pull the cotton over his eyes about this? It's not like she had any kind of harrowing, bad secret. It was just that she didn't know how to talk about it and she was scared of what might change if she did. She sighed in defeat and nodded to him gently.

She took a deep breath and nodded. "Okay Jamie. Just promise me you'll still be here if I tell you because no body needs this shit but honestly, I can't do without you. You know it yourself you're the only person I really care about anymore." She sighed quietly looking at him with such sad eyes it'd trouble even the most innocent hearts. She didn't want to have to tell him anything like this because she wasn't stupid- though she questioned if his feelings were in the same context as hers, they'd always been friends so he was bound to be bothered by the truth when he found out and she didn't want to put that on him.

"I know you never really met him properly but my Step-Dad, he left. He ran away and left me behind with her and she's, got so much worse, so, so much worse," She found herself subconsciously touching her cheek and wincing slightly at the sting, she pulled her hand away and frowned, glaring at it as it fell in her lap.

"And I've missed you like hell this week just to be frank and nothing I've said so far is very new, I know that and I'm at peace with it mostly but I guess we need to talk about what I said at the camp out don't we?" She questioned looking up at him. Could she tell him?

Could she really tell him like this?

Could she tell him at all?

She didn't want to talk about her Mother because then she'd have to explain her weight loss too and even when she had opportunities to eat now she could barely stomach it- not even the thought of it. It's like her stomach had just been completely crippled, then again maybe that's exactly what had happened but she couldn't talk to him about that because he'd want her to fix things and make things right again which she wouldn't mind but there'd be Doctors and questions and neither of those were things she could handle. So she mentioned the camp out as a kind of distraction and maybe it'd be good to get things out in the open, she was clinging on to some kind of false hope that he might understand and still be there for her but she knew better than to have so much faith.





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"I will. I'll be as quick as I can be El. Just hold on for me okay? I'll be quick," He sighed with worry as Ellie hung up the phone, she sounded so upset he'd barely recognised her. He'd never even heard a story of Ellie crying like that, Bella maybe but not Ellie. Ellie was tough and resilient and that's what scared him the most out of all this. How bad must it be to make Ellie cry? It had to be something beyond terrible and for every new question and fear that entered his mind he put more and more pressure on his accelerator to try and get to her as quickly as he could. He had his suitcase in the car, so he knew he had a coat or jacket he could give her when he found her so he drove right there to find her and within 20 minutes, he was slowing down on Kings Road, his head turning as he looked for Ellie. When he spotted at the bus station, his heart kind of broke for her. He'd never seen her like this in all the years he'd known her, partied with her, fought with her, laughed with her and just generally go through life with her- he'd never even seen her close to this kind of low. He instantly climbed out the car, grabbing his hoodie from the back seat and he parked his car in a dodgy manner and ran over to her.

"Ellie, oh god Ellie- what happened?" He took the hoodie and wrapped it over her shoulders but once he saw she was still crying and so heavily, he simply wrapped his arms around her and held her in a tight embrace. "What's happened El? You scared me, y'know- you can tell me El, you know I'm here for you, you know that- always, I'm always here. What happened?" He was becoming increasingly emotional himself seeing his best friend in a state like this but he held up, he was strong for her because she'd taught him how to do that long ago. Hell, she was the strongest person he knew and that was why he knew it was really bad this time- whatever it was, it was bad and he already wished he could take whatever had happened away and that he'd been there to protect her from whatever had hurt her like this- that was his job as her friend, he was supposed to look out for her so she didn't ever have to feel like this.

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"Bella, I'm not going anywhere. You can tell me anything, and I'll still be here. I can't exactly run away at the minute, can I?" He joked, but anxiety was starting to bubble in his stomach. He was really worried about her, and had been for a while now. He sighed heavily as she told him the truth, and his stomach clenched as she spoke about the campout. "Bells, you know how I feel. And if you don't want to talk about it, then that's fine. I have you as my best friend, and that's all I care about. But there's more than just us to your problems, and you need to tell someone. Even if that someone isn't me." He stretched his good hand out to her. He knew what her mother could be like- the night with the bottle had showed him that much. All Jamie wanted was for Bella to be safe and happy.

They were a messed up pair, him and Bella. They were both going through some shit, and he just wanted to make it through the other side. He wished that he could tell her everything- but with everything she was going through, that wasn't fair. She didn't need a suicidal best friend on top of that.


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Nate's voice was an almost immediate comfort, as was the hoodie and then the embrace. "I fucked up, Nate," she whispered into his chest. "I just... I made some bad decisions over the past few days and I really want to go home and forget it all but I also want a bloody burger and fries and I really just want to sleep," she managed to get out. His presence was already making her feel better. He didn't seem mad at her- he seemed genuinely concerned. If he did hate her, it wasn't that bad- he'd still come for her, and he was still hugging her.

"So, can we just go get something to eat before I have another meltdown?" She asked, looking up at him. She really wanted to distract him before he started asking too many questions, or caught a glimpse of her arms. She knew that they weren't that obvious, but she was still going to be paranoid about them. She was just praying that she'd been somewhat sensible about it in her drunken or stoned or high state or whatever state she'd been in when she'd shot up,

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She smiled sadly at his joke but her only real response was a delicate shrug; "You know what I meant," in a quiet and fragile tone Jamie would recognise as one she barely ever used. Bella was so fierce, determined and fiery it was rare to get this kind of sincerity out of her but it was the tone of voice she'd use if she was conversing with Jamie about something that was bothering him or when she was trying not to cry when Mufasa dies in the Lion King (which a known secret between the two is that it gets her every time.) It's the voice she uses when a tiny part of her has broken and she doesn't know where to find the missing chips of herself anymore. She didn't quite know how to explain her feelings for Jamie but she couldn't deny there was a port of her that would always be with him. He was by far the most important person in her life and someone she did truly love both as a friend and in the rare way that made her hurt with confusion and fear.

When he held his hand, she didn't hesitate to take it and she held on more tightly than she meant to but it was the small gesture that kept her grounded and gave her some familiarity and reassurance. "I will when the time is right Jamie, I'll reach out and make things better again but I can't do it yet. You know I've got nothing to fall back on but I do want to talk about it Jamie, I'm not sure how to explain things or what to say but if you think I know how your feel you're misguided because I'm confused J. There's things I've done and things that happened before that I haven't told you about, that I haven't told anyone and I will one day because I don't ever want to keep a secret from you but it's too much. And I just want to sit with you and tell you how I feel but I just don't know how to explain," She sighed gently focusing on his expression to his reaction, when she closed her eyes and thought about things she could remember the real dark days, when she'd play up all day at school and then come home and empty the medicine cabinet into her stomach to try and relieve herself from the pain of breathing and how so recently- was it six months? She'd tried again and it was all because of her Mother but she needed to tell him one day. It was too big to keep from him but it did feel right to tell him that at the same time.

"Fuck, look at me getting all emotional again huh? Think I've cried more this week than I have the rest of my life put together," She laughed gently trying to relieve them both a little somehow as she dabbed her eye with the back of her free hand. "It's ridiculous isn't it really? That there's girls like Sky with beauty, money and love at their finger tips and yet there's people like us with so much shit on our plates we can't see the china beneath it," She sighed rubbing her eye lightly before looking at him again.





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He held onto her for a long moment and gently rubbed her back reassuringly. "It'll be okay Elle. What ever happened, we'll work it out, we'll fix it," He promised gently, he put a hand on her face to gently wipe away the tears there and he looked at her in all sincerity. "I promise Ellie, it'll all be okay," He told her and honestly, he meant it and he'd do everything he could to make sure he kept that promise. Maybe his ways were old fashioned and offensive to feminists but one thing everyone could appreciate was a man who kept his word and Nate was one of those men- no body could take that from him.

"Look, here's the plan okay? There's a diner down the road, I'll drive us there. I'll get you some food and then why don't you come back to my Grandparents with me? Then you can get a shower and a change of clothes off one of my cousins or something before you come. My Pops would love to see you, your family to them just as much as I am you know that. They'd love to see you and I think it'd be good for you to have some time to gather yourself a bit before you go home. You don't have to of course, it's just an offer but you know you are welcome," He told her honestly, he was so, so, so worried for her about what had happened the night before but she wasn't explaining herself and he wasn't going to force answers out of her especially when she was in such a state like this. They could talk later once she felt a bit better.

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He listened to her speak. He wished that she would tell him, or at least tell him some way he could help her- but god knows, he understood about not being able to get the words out. "Bella, it's fine. We all have our secrets, and I know that it can be hard to get them out." He had a whole list of secrets that he wanted to tell her- about his dad's relapse, about his mom's affair, about all the fucking shit going on in his own head- but just like her, she couldn't get them out.

"Yeah, but Sky also probably couldn't put up with all of my shit like you can," he remarked. "And she isn't as good a dancer as you, or as good a musician... You know that all great artists are as fucked up as hell, right? Like Van Gogh cut off his bloody ear. Sylvia Plath suffered terribly from depression." He wasn't really one for poetry, but Plath had stood out to him. It was the one time he'd seen everything he felt represented in poetry that showed its horror perfectly.

"And besides, Bells, we couldn't deal with a perfect, ordinary, dull life. We'd end up causing all kinds of trouble just out of pure boredom."


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She nodded at his suggestion. "Yeah, that sounds good. I like your grandad too. He's cool for an old dude," she remarked, pulling the hoodie on properly. At least now her arms were covered. No risk of him seeing the needle marks now. "C'mon, I want my burger. I can't remember the last time I ate and that's really screwing with me," she said, getting to her feet. Her eating habits weren't the best when she was at home- the constant worrying about her dad and everyone else she loved that she hadn't cut off completely ruined her appetite at times, and when she did eat, she had a habit of reaching for comfort food. She knew that with the rest of her issues, her eating habits probably needed to be monitored better- but that could be freaking hard at times.

"Thanks, by the way, Nate. I'm glad that I don't have to try and get home now. I just- I just really need a friend right now," she admitted. It was the first time in her life she could ever remember admitting to needing someone that wasn't her father- and she hadn't even admitted to needing him since she was 12.

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She listened to him in content and the more he spoke, the closer her lips came to that quirked smile of her until it settled softly on her expression. She rolled his eyes a little at his comment about her dancing but shrugged her shoulders softly. "I'd hope so considering how many late shifts I've done to pay my classes," She scoffed gently, looking down at the person who couldn't simply just be defined as her best friend because he was so much more too.

"Yeah, you're right actually J. I'd say as always but I'm the one who's always right here," She teased gently. "Hey maybe one day we can write a song about the stupid knob who nearly killed himself trying to save a deer. That's so you, y'know? I should have figured out straight away you'd be saving the world one furry friend at a time" She sighed lightly.

"Promise me next time I have to break in to come see you it won't be in a hospital and also promise to listen to me because I'm always right," Although she was overwhelmed with happiness and relief to see him, she hated having to see him like this all strapped up to wires and injured. She'd have genuinely swapped places with him if she could have.

"God can you imagine? You remember what I was like when we first met right? Freshly expelled from a private boarding school, fighting everyone who gave me a reason to think I had a reason to kick off- it'd be like that all over again but with some extra witty comments considering all the wisdom I've gained over my years," She realised as she spoke that there was one thing both her and Jamie were mostly definitely guilty of- black comedy. Talking about the things troubling them with random punch lines and good humour, so neither of them would have to really admit quite how emotional they felt. After a while she sighed, leaning her head against the chair.





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He looked at her for a moment when she admitted she needed a friend but didn't verbally react, honestly he was surprised by two things; firstly the fact that she'd confessed to needing somebody's help but secondly, by the idea that somebody actually needed him. No body had ever said that about him- even if it wasn't him specifically but just him to fill a role. Nobody did- it was the price of being a dead beat but he smiled softly at her nodded. "Well I'm here El. I've got it all covered okay?" He assured. He guided her over to the car and opened the door for her before climbing round to his own seat and sitting down inside, turning the air conditioning right up in temperature to try and warm the car up to take the edge off the chill he imagined she must have.

"You don't need to thank me El. It's me, it's Nate- you know I'll always be there to do these things, it's why you called me," He pointed out as he put the key back in the ignition and brought the vehicle to life as the aged engine crackled slightly with the effort of starting up but reliable as ever, they were soon going and he drove the way slightly further down town to a local diner.

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He rolled his eyes at the joke about the deer. "I probably would have ended up going off the road even if I'd hit it, so it just... made sense to cause as little damage as I could while I was at it," he said, but he laughed, wincing a little. "And I promise that I won't make you break into a hospital for me again," he said, praying that it was true. "And I'll listen to you 99% of the time- that 1% is when you're drunk or stoned," he said.

"Jesus, you were mad. I'm pretty sure you threatened to punch me a few times for just asking you the wrong question. Like I said, it's definitely a good thing that we don't have a boring life. Always someone to punch, always some trouble to get into or out of," he remarked. Even as messed up as they were, he wouldn't sacrifice their friendship for anything. They'd been through thick and thin together, and even as much as he could mess up, he was pretty sure that Bella wouldn't ever totally abandon him. Not if she'd stuck with him after he'd ignored her for that long. It was like that had never happened now.


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She got into the car and pulled on her belt. Nate seemed to know exactly what she needed- warmth, comfort food, her best friend- and not to be alone. As much as she wanted to get some proper sleep, she needed to be around other people even more. The heat of the car was welcome, even if it did make her a little sleepy. She didn't say much, simply watched the world go by.

How would he react if she told him the truth? That she'd relapsed into heroin? He was her best friend- he'd understand, right? But even though she knew that it would be completely out of character, something in her mind was convinced that he'd be frightened away, that he wouldn't want anything to do with her. He probably didn't want her problems as well as his own, even if he wasn't going to run away. Nobody would want to have to deal with that- her mom only did because she had to.

All she could do was hope that she hadn't done anything ridiculously stupid while high. But if she didn't have any broken bones, then she'd be able to deal with it.

"How's Jamie?" She managed to ask, zipping up the hoodie to hold onto as much warmth as possible.

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"Thank you- next time I break in somewhere, I'd rather it was somewhere cool like an Aquarium or something- maybe we go could free all the animals in Sea Life centres, they're arseholes to the animals there, it could be like our own special Paper Towns trip," She joked gently, she knew neither of them had it that easy, especially over the last couple of months but she could honestly say she'd never been happier to see him or just be there, holding his hand and joking about all the dumb things that crossed their minds. Jamie was the one person she could say anything to without fearing the reaction or worrying about what he'd think of her- he was the only person who's opinion she really cared about but he was the only person who's opinion she didn't need to worry about because he'd always be there. He'd been there for her through everything, even the worst of the worst- if he knew about it, he'd done everything he could to fix it and there was nothing she appreciated more.

"I know but I never did- well not properly, I liked you. I was saving the punches for the Madison Gill's of the world," She told him with a laugh referencing to a girl in their school who'd once tried to up stage Bella in a squabble and learnt the hard way not to call the skinny, quiet and angst ridden girl in the corner a 'dumb fucking bitch'. Any over insult and it would have gone straight over Bella's head without a second thought but those three words, in that order- that's what her Mother always said but in fairness, Madison never said it again after that. "Yeah, I'm happier just getting stoned and dealing with retarded slightly sociopathic ex-boyfriends- I'd rather not be that kid again," She laughed referencing to what she was like when they were younger with a tone that wasn't quite regret but somewhat shame and slight remorse.

"What have they said anyway? Are you coming back in for the final performances for our music A-Level? That's not far away, I can handle it if you won't be back but it'd be so much more fun to do if you were there," She admitted gently looking over to him with a small smile.





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He'd been drumming his fingers on the wheel as he drove, like he always did. It'd been a habit of his ever since he first started driving to always be tapping his fingers on the leather bound steering wheel to his own made up rhythms that lacked any kind of frequent pattern or beat. He didn't have any kind of musical coordination- he wasn't like Bella or Jamie who could probably play piano upside down in the dark with their toes. He couldn't even dance to a beat, Ellie had always teased him about that and he'd never been able to argue back about it either.

"He's doing better. I spoke to Bella yesterday and she was planning on trying to con her way into the hospital today to go see him. I haven't heard from her though- so I assume it worked," He told her. "He's not out yet but he's getting there El," He explained, he looked over at her from the corner of his eye with true worry and concern hidden in them. Ellie was so dear to him it was sometimes hard not knowing the full story because it meant he could never permanently fix anything that went wrong for her or say the right words but he understood- it's why he never asked her questions. He just wished he could take it all away, all the pain for all the good people in the world, he just wished he had that kind of power and if he did, the first person he'd help is Ellie. He wouldn't even think about it.

"Once his allowed non-family visitors we should go up there, send our wishes and that," He suggested looking over at her. "Suppose no one told you about Bella did they? When it happened. She tried to sneak into the hospital by telling them she was his sister, when they found out she was lying I think it was security who had to drag her out of there. I think she might He was trying to distract himself from his worries but also Ellie from whatever terrible thing had happened to upset her so much and he hoped it'd eventually work because she didn't deserve to feel like this. He honestly believed that.

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He rolled his eyes at the mention of Madison Gill. He could still remember that particular incident- he'd nearly had to drag Bella off of Madison. "I wonder how Jace's face is doing," he joked. With everything that had been happening to them in the past while, they hadn't had a conversation like this in far too long. Where they could joke and say everything they were thinking, and where it was just the two of them. It felt good.

"I should be out in another few days, as long as the doctors are happy with how I'm doing," he said. One doctor in particular- then again, he'd probably be made to visit the psychiatrist as an outpatient anyway. "I should be back in for the final performance, anyway- and hopefully I'll still be on form." He was praying that his injuries wouldn't affect his performance. The doctors had said that his arm would be out of the sling by that point, and that he should be able to play with no problems, provided that he took pain relief beforehand. He'd asked the doctors to only give him painkillers that weren't particularly addictive, and while that meant that he was in more pain than he would have been on the stronger painkillers, it also dramatically reduced his chances of addiction. The psychiatrist had said that was a good thing, than it showed that he was aware of his weaknesses. Now they just needed to sort out everything else that was wrong with him.


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She nodded as he spoke. By the sounds of things, there hadn't been any lasting damage, anyway. Thinking about that night made her stomach twist uncomfortably. God, she just wished that she could deal with her problems without ruining either her own life or somebody else's.

She didn't say anything as he mentioned visiting, twisting the fabric of her skirt between her hands. She was pretty sure that she was the last person either Jamie or Bella wanted to see, seeing as how the whole thing was basically her fault. But Jamie would be too nice to say that- instead, they'd all sit there in an awkward silence for a while, then she'd leave, and everybody would sigh with relief and hope that she'd stay gone.

This was why she fucking hated withdrawal and drugs- they made her hate herself, and they made her feel weak. She wanted to be her usual self with her bulletproof skin and her "don't give a fuck" attitude.

"That's so typically Bella," she remarked in reply to his story, smiling a little. She did think that the hospital's reaction had been a little unfair, but chose not to comment. "Of course she'd manage to break into a hospital of all places," she said.

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"I saw him walk past my house a couple of days ago- to be honest, it could have been the angle but I swear to good he looked wonky," She told him with a small laugh. She looked at Jamie and although they had been laughing, teasing and joking, out of no where everything seemed to creep on her and suddenly pounce all at once- the reality of their situation and it left her feeling kind of hollow and sad. It was terrible. The two of them were so guilty of black comedy, hiding their pain by drowning it in wit they didn't even realising they were cowering away from honesty. It was just easier to forget about things then it was to talk about them. Her gaze hadn't moved from the boy who laid injured besides her and her heart clenched. She felt so responsible and guilty. She pushed the shadows away and smiled at him softly, flashing those white teeth she took a considerable amount of pride in and forced an expression of relief; "Good, I wouldn't be able to do it without you," She commented honestly but it was said lightly with an effort of laughter as she leaned back in her chair again.

Listening to him talk about Doctors reminded her of the brown envelope laying on the door mat at home. She knew what it'd be- her referral to another round of group and private therapy but she couldn't stand the idea of going. Part of her desperately wanted to talk to Jamie because she knew he'd understand- he always understood her but she couldn't bring herself to tell him everything. If he told her the same things, she'd be broken hearted and miserable with guilt and that sinking feeling of when you know your truly let someone down and it wasn't his fault, so she couldn't put that on him especially when he was the only one who'd ever made anything better- even if he didn't know he had.

"Jamie when have you ever given a bad show? You'll do fine as long as your there," She told him gently in response to his comment about form. "And if your there, I can follow your lead and scrape through so all will be swell," She added gently.





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"I know, they both text me about it and honestly picturing it in my head, I could have cried I laughed so much and before you say anything, I was perfectly sober- I just found it funny," He told her with a small shrug. "Dick move on the Nurse's part though," He commented running a hand through his hair for a moment when he took it off the wheel. After ten or twelve minutes he carefully turned the car into a generously sized parking space and climbed out, resisting the urge to naturally go open Ellie's door because it was finally dawning on him how she felt about those things. Instead he stood on the curb and waited for her so they could head inside.

The diner was one he'd visited often as a child, he used to come with his Mother and they'd always get grilled cheese after Nate went to football on Wednesdays and then they'd get strawberry ice cream- he remembered it perfectly and he tried to distinguish when that had stopped but he couldn't. It'd stopped long before he quit football, around when his father disappeared.

There was a slight drizzle but they were close to being indoors where the shelter would protect them from it, so he didn't worry and held the door for Ellie before being quickly bombarded by a waitress about where he wanted to sit. Realising he hadn't been to the diner for years but everything inside was still the same, he chose the corner booth and sat on the left like he always did as a kid and sighed gently. "I used to come here all the time as a kid. It's funny though, nothing's changed at all- not even the wall décor, the same Elvis canvas, same newspaper print wallpaper the only difference is the date on their food health and safety rating," He commented thoughtfully looking around himself at all the all too familiar space.

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He grinned a little at her comment. "Yeah, well, I've also never played a show with broken bones," he remarked. Singing and screaming with broken ribs probably wouldn't be the most enjoyable experience of his life, but hey, he had to do it. At least they'd be somewhat healed. He'd heard stories of singers breaking ribs during shows and managing to finish the shows. "But I'll still give it my all, even if you have to drag me out of the performance room afterwards," he joked.

His phone had packed in somewhere between the accident and it returning to him- and while he had a new phone, he didn't have any music on it yet. And that was killing him. As if not being able to play wasn't bad enough, being unable to tune out of the world just made everything five times worse. He still had to listen to his parents arguing. He still had to lie in the awful silence at nighttime, able to hear every little thing. That was why he was so glad for Bella- she was company, someone who didn't treat him any differently than usual, and who was more than happy to ramble on about anything and everything. It was a break in the silence.


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As soon as she climbed out of the car, she felt like people were staring at her. She knew that she was probably a strange sight- in a dress and heels, with a hoodie a size or two too big on top, and her makeup smudged as hell. Part of her wanted to go back to the car and hide- but instead, she lifted her chin and stared straight ahead. She wasn't going to appear weak any more.

The diner felt oddly familiar- it reminded her of huge ice cream sundaes and chicken nuggets shaped like dinosaurs. She laughed at his story, nodding a little. It suddenly dawned on her why it was familiar. "Yeah, I think we used to come here all the time as well. Or at least, when Dad was home. One of the last times I was here was when he told me that he was being deployed again," she said, but didn't add any more. She didn't want to think about that- not now, not when everything else was all wrong.

Fortunately for her, the waitress reappeared by that point. Her cheerfulness contrasted starkly with Ellie's mood. "I'll have the double bacon cheeseburger with fries and a Coke," she said, knowing already exactly what she wanted.

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"Hey! Maybe you could be the next Dave Grohl, remember when he did the 'Broken Leg' tour last year? We could do 'the broken ribs' tour," She joked gently grinning at him softly, making every effort she could to create a positive, hopeful and enjoyable atmosphere for him because no one considered a hospital to be a happy place- not a soul in the world, especially not a patient. She was always very aware of that Jamie's parents were hardly the entertaining sort and from Bella's personal experience, the nurses were complete and utter bitches so she had taken the responsibility herself of bringing some kind of brightness into Jamie's hospital room but talking about music reminded her of something especially important and her eyes widened suddenly like they would before she said something intellectual in class, like when she took everything that one step further in Philosophy for English Literature and everybody stared at her in confusion for a long while before they caught up.

"Jamie, when the crash happened- the woman gave me your phone, before I gave it to your parents a few days into you being here, I tried to get it fixed but they told me it was totally fucked- like beyond fucked and I felt pretty bad that I hadn't found a way in to see you and that Ellie and Nate had found excuses to not even try and the Nurses are vile to be frank and have vulgar taste in lipstick- so I figured, it'd be pretty shit around here. So I dug out one of my old iPods and synced it for you- I mean it's all the music off my laptop because funnily enough I don't have a random copy of your database but a lot of our music overlaps and plus I still have a shit ton of old videos and photos on there from when we first started hanging out that are hilarious, I nearly had a seizure laughing at some of them. We were such dicks but there was that and there's some stupid games on there too but voila, consider it my I'm really sorry I got myself banned from the hospital and left you to endure social interaction on your own present," She rambled before passing him a metallic blue iPod with a pair of earbuds. "And oh those are the earbuds you lent me a couple of weeks ago and I forgot I had, so there you go- sorry I forgot," She chimed with a small laugh. "Sorry the delivery took so long," She added gently.

She'd been nervous about doing this for him because she felt like it was kind of pathetic but if she was in hospital by herself, there'd be two things she wanted; to see Jamie and music and she realised, at least one of those things would be the same for Jamie so she'd wanted to do anything she could.

"And because I'm an amazing best friend, I brought vegan chocolate too. I figured you'd be starving in here being the eco warrior you are so you better love me for this because do you have any idea how hard it is to find that anywhere?" She asked him taking the bar out of her bag and grinning gently at him. "I know none of this is going to mend those bones of yours but I thought it'd help make the time pass or hoped at least, I don't know," She sighed shrugging gently.





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He listened to her very closely when she talked about her family because such a conversation was rare with Ellie and he treasured every bit of information she ever trusted him with. "I'll have a chicken burger please with a Corona if you've got one," He ordered after Ellie, only ordering a beer because he hadn't drank at all and it was something he could consume and still be under the limit. He just wanted the psychological relaxation of drinking alcohol even if it wouldn't have the slightest physical effect on him. The waitress scribbled the order down and then disappeared which is when Nathaniel turned to Ellie with a more serious expression.

"Do you want to talk about it then Ellie or do you want to leave it? I don't mind but I need you to know, one, that you can tell me anything- I'm still here now and I always will be and two, I'm not going to judge or scrutinize or anything- I just want to be there for you, so if you want to talk- we can talk, that's all I'm going to say on the matter. Okay?" He asked her softly and very sincerely, looking over at her with an intense but soft and caring gaze. He really wished he could do something that would make all of her problems go away because Ellie wasn't a bad person, sure she could be a bitch sometimes but she was good at heart and she was one of few people who'd ever showed Nate any real respect- yeah, no one was horrible to him but no body respected him, because he wasn't academic he was only ever met with patronising remarks and ridicules. However none of that mattered because he couldn't make it all go away because the reality of the situation was that he didn't even have a clue where the problem began, he didn't have even the most vague idea about anything so what he could do except give her a shoulder to cry on and make sure she was always safe and had what she needed to look after herself?

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It was almost as if Bella had read this thoughts and produced an old, but still working iPod. "Bella, if I could give you a hug right now, I would," he said. Chocolate and music. While they weren't going to make his problems go away, they'd certainly make being stuck in the hospital a lot easier. "The hospital doesn't serve vegan food, and apparently they weren't going to go sourcing vegan recipes and cooking them for just one person. So I was told that I could either have vegetarian or go without. So it's nice to have something tasty and vegan," he said, taking the chocolate. This was why Bella was his best friend- she always knew exactly what to say or do.

"The nurses aren't that bad, though. Okay, there are a few who are complete bitches, but they look like they've seen some things. I think I saw a prison tattoo on one of them," he joked. In reality, while they were strict, they were friendly enough to him. Then again, that could have been only due to his continued visits from the psychiatrist.

"Seriously, though, Bella, thank you. I was starting to go insane without any music to listen to," he said.


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Ellie twisted her hands as Nate started speaking. She couldn't tell him. Not now, not while everything was so raw. She honestly didn't know if she'd ever be able to tell him fully about it- but at the same time, she felt like he deserved something.

"Remember what I said to you the night of the camp-out? About having gone through some shit? I fell back into that pile of shit- and I'd been doing so well. And now my mind's turning against me and making me feel like shit, and I'm starting to feel the effects of the past four days. So, basically, I've been through shit I can't talk about, and I feel like shit as a result," she said, shrugging a little. "I can get help, proper help, though, so I'll be back to my old self before you know it. And just don't get mad if I yell at you over something stupid, okay?" She said, looking up at him. "And thank you for sticking with me for this long. I know I can be a bitch, and I honestly don't know how you've stuck with me for this long. But thanks for sticking with me even after I act like a complete asshole to you for a week."