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Too young, Too dumb (To know things like love)

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Chapter 1:

 

Jessie takes a breath before stepping onto the field where the other girls are warming up. She scans around the field, it’s a much nicer facility than the one at her old school. The one they had was run down and the nets had patchy holes in them. Here, there seem to be endless soccer balls and fancy netting. A blonde girl walks up to her and snaps her out of thought, she sticks her hand out friendly.

 

“The name’s Sam Mewis,” The blonde girl smiles at her, making Jessie feel a little more welcome.

 

Jessie smiles back politely and takes her hand with a firm shake, “I’m Jessie,”

 

They start warming up together and Sam asks Jessie about where she moved from. Jessie explains that they moved from Canada because her dad needed a new job.

 

“You ready for your first day next week?” Sam asks curiously.

 

Jessie shrugs, “I mean no, not really,”

 

“We’ll always remember I’m the first friend you made here!” Sam says excitedly. Jessie’s glad that she found Sam so she doesn’t have to stand awkwardly by herself.

 

“I guess, you're stuck with me now,” Jessie jokes as they grab two balls and head over to the rest of the girls where the coach is standing.

 

They start out practice with a mile run followed by sprints and finally a scrimmage. Jessie’s a bit out of breath by the time the scrimmage rolls around by nevertheless she’s excited to see how she matches up to the other girls.

 

She learns the name of the girls on her team, Janine, Tobin, Emily, Alex, Jordyn, and Teagan the goalkeeper. Sam’s on the other team with some players and Mallory, which as Teagan informs her, is their team captain, she also realizes later that she’s her neighbor.

 

The girl seems pretty confident as she steps on the field. Her hair’s in a bun and Jessie finds herself staring for a second before she catches herself. She shakes it off and waits for the coach to blow his whistle, after that, she gives it her all.

 

Things are going great by the time the first water break rolls around. Jessie’s scores her first goal a few minutes after the whistle blows and her teammates look pretty impressed. Even Tobin pats her on the back and praises her ball handling skills.

 

What happens after the water break is a whole different story. She’s dribbling down the side of the field, trying to look for Alex to cross the ball to, when Mal comes out of nowhere and wipes her out with a dirty slide tackle. She groans as her body hits the ground with a thud and the coach blows his whistle as he comes jogging over.

 

“Pugh! Two laps!” He points to the track and Mallory groans but compiles, not even trying to plead her case.  

 

Jessie sits up on the turf and pulls her socks up, Coach Aaron looks at her with concern, “You ok kid?”

 

Jessie nods, “Yeah, I’m ok, thanks,”

 

Coach reaches out his hand to help her up, “You’re doing good,” It gives her all the confidence to score 2 more goals on the other team.


Mallory and her end up as the last two people packing up on the field. She looks over to see the girl quietly taking off her cleats. Jessie doesn’t really understand why Mallory tackled her so aggressively earlier but she doesn’t think about it too much. Instead, she walks over to the girl and introduces herself.

 

“Hey, I’m Jessie,” She sticks out her hand as Sam did earlier.

 

Mallory looks up at her hand for a second before taking it, “Mallory,” she says hesitantly and continues, “Sorry ‘bout the tackle earlier,”

 

“It happens to everyone,” Jessie reassures her and walks back to retrieve her stuff.

 

She’s about to leave when Mallory asks her an unexpected question.

 

“Hey, weird question, but are you, my neighbor?”

 

Jessie laughs, she swore that Mallory saw her move in but maybe the girl wasn’t paying attention.

 

“Yea,”

 

Mallory gets her car keys out of her training bag, “Come on, I’ll take you home, it’s the least I can do after making you eat it like that,” She teases.


Jessie follows her to her car and gets in, Mallory throws both their bags in the backseat and jumps in the driver’s seat and starts the car.  

 

“So where you from?” Mallory asks, her eyes focusing on the road.

 

“London,” Jessie answers simply and Mallory looks at her in confusion.

 

“But you don’t have a British accent,”

 

Jessie laughs softly this is usually the reaction people get when she tells people, “London, Ontario, not Great Britain,”

 

Mallory lets out a beautiful laugh, “I knew you were too nice to be from around here,”

 

Jessie doesn’t know whether she should feel flattered but she just smiles politely and before they know it Mallory’s pulling up in front of her house. There are still piles of boxes sitting outside, yet to be brought in.

 

Mallory peers out the passenger side window, “You need any help unpacking?”

 

Jessie shakes her head, “Those are just stuff for the garage, thanks for the ride Mallory,”

 

“It’s Mal, you can call me Mal,”

 

Jessie cocks her head to the side, “Alright, see you around Mal,”

 

Mal waves and then she drives off and turns into her own driveway a few feet away from where Jessie stands with a goofy smile that she’s trying to hide.

 

______

 

Jessie doesn’t think too much of her encounter with Mal instead she takes a quick shower and then helps her sister out with some chores.

 

She’s always been really close with her sister Elsie, although they’ve had their fair share of bickering, at the end of the day Jessie’s gonna be there for her no matter what. She knows that this big move has been tough on her sister. Uprooting a middle schooler still trying to find her place in this world is, to say the least, rough.

 

The only reason Elsie agreed to the move is because their dad agreed to build them a treehouse in the backyard. That’s what he’s been doing for the past 2 weeks of summer and now it’s the start of the school year and he still hasn’t unpacked the boxes up front, no matter how much her mom nags him. Since it’s still summer, they decide to go play some pickup soccer in the street since her dad’s equipment is all over the yard.

 

“You ready to lose?” Elsie grabs the ball from her and runs out to the street. Jessie smirks and runs after her, “only losers trash talk,” she shoots back and they start an intense game of pickup.

 

Jessie’s about to score her 2nd goal when her sister stops and waves to someone behind her. She turns around and sees her teammate standing there smiling at them.

 

“You wanna join?” she asks gesturing at the ball.

 

“She’s on my team!” Elsie exclaims excitedly waving Mallory over to her.

 

They play for a bit until all three of them are sitting on the curb trying to catch their breaths. Elsie goes inside to shower before it’s her bedtime but Jessie sits outside with Mal for a little longer. The summer breeze is nice and she’s trying to savor it before the fall winds come along in a few months.

 

“She’s really good,” Mal comments.

 

Jessie smiles proudly, “Yea she’s gonna be a superstar someday,”

Mal looks at her, “and what about you?”

 

Jessie shrugs, “I guess we’ll see,”

 

They sit in silence for a while looking at the mountains that Mallory probably has grown tired of over the years but to Jessie, it’s a new concept for her to be completely surrounded by mountains. She’s not quite ready to leave this summer freedom but school means soccer. Jessie watches the sky turns into a marvelous shade of pink before calling it a night.

 

“Goodnight Mal,”

 

“See you around, Fleming,”

______

 

She’s sore the next few days at practice but the team is a lot more welcoming than she first imagined and she starts to let loose more around her teammates. She finds out that Janine looks tough as nails on the outside but she always has your back. She learns that she gravitates towards Tobin, the quiet girl who reminds her a lot of herself. Teagan brings out the goofy side in her and so does Kelley, those two are always messing around but when it’s time to buckle down to business they make that transition in a split second.

 

The feeling of finding a place in this team is a lot different than her old team. Jessie was the best player on her old team but the girls alienated her more times than not and they never dreamed of going anywhere with soccer. Here, she hears about Ashlyn talking about what playing for the U-18’s was like and Tobin’s humbleness about getting a few call-ups to the senior national team. It’s enlightening.

 

She feels the exhaustion seeping in her sore muscles after practice on Thursday but she sucks it up and helps her dad put the finishing touches on their tree house.

 

“I met our neighbor under some unfortunate circumstances yesterday,” Her dad mentions as he tightens a bolt on the roof.

 

“Oh and why’s that,”

 

Her dad puts down the crank and wipes the sweat off his forehead, he points at the side of the treehouse that hangs over into the Pugh’s yard.

 

“He said that I couldn’t build on his property and we argued and then god bless his daughter, she comes out and begs him to let me build it.”

 

Jessie scrunches her eyebrows up in confusion, why would Mal do that.

 

“She got him to agree as long as I build her a ladder on her side,” her dad continues.

 

Jessie laughs, “So who’s gonna tell Elsie that we’re gonna have to share our tree house,”

 

Her dad groans when Jessie quickly touches her nose and shouts, “nose goes!”

 

“Go help your mom set the table, I’ll deal with her,” he says at last and Jessie runs inside.

 

Eventually, her sister returns inside and sits down at the dinner table grumpily, her face a little flushed but her mom cheers her up by mentioning shopping for room decor.



______

 

She finds her first class fine, thanks to Sam. who she bumps into in the hallway. Turns out, they have American Government together first period. Jessie’s thankful that all they od is class introductions, she’s not sure she’s ready to do classwork on the first day of school. After first period Sam says goodbye and quickly rushes off to her next class, leaving Jessie alone trying to figure out her next class. She’s about to be late when someone taps her on the shoulders. She turns around to see Mal standing behind her.

 

“You lost?” Mal grabs her schedule out of her hands and studies it for a second.

 

“It’s like every hallway looks the same,”

 

Mal starts walking and Jessie follows closely behind.


“What are you doing?” Mal turns around while still walking, “I’m taking you to class,”

 

“You’re gonna be late.” Jessie points out.

 

“They stop in front of her math class and Mal smiles softly, “I’ll be okay,”

 

Mal starts to walk away but she stops abruptly, “meet me at the front after school, I’ll drive you home,”

 

______

 

She’s bored out of her mind by lunch. Teagan texts her during 3rd period about where their team usually sits during lunch. Turns out, she doesn’t even need it, as soon as she walks in the cafeteria she sees Kelley and Teagan messing around. She sits down by Janine and greets her friends. Janine’s a fellow Canadian, she moved here her freshman year. They got nicknamed the “Canadian twins” after finding out their common homeland.

 

‘Hey Jessica, how was your morning?” Janine asks her.

 

“Why’s this school so big?”

 

Tobin laughs, “You’ll get used it,”

 

She sees Mal standing by a guy laughing by the lunch line. Teagan see’s her staring and whispers, “That’s her boyfriend of the week,” The look Tegan gives her tells her not to ask. Mal stops by their table for a few minutes towards the end of lunch to remind the team that there’s no practice on the first day of school, Tobin and Kelley groan and Jessie figures they’re probably gonna practice on their own anyway.

______

 

Mal drives her home and Jessie invites her over to do some homework. They sprawl out on the floor of Jessie’s bedroom. It’s the first day so they finish quickly and doing homework turns into talking.

 

“So it’s a tradition every first week of school,” Mal begins, “that someone throws a party before everyone gets too busy with homework,”

 

“You going?” Jessie asks curiously.

 

Mal nods, “Yeah, most of the girls are going, I was wondering if you’d wanna go?”

 

“I’m not really much of a party person,” Jessie answers shyly. It’s more like no one’s really ever invited her to a high school party.

 

“Come on it’ll be fun, you don’t have to drink if you don’t feel comfortable,” Mal says trying to convince her.

 

Jessie gives it some thought but eventually she caves after Mal emphasizes the free food that the party will provide. She’s got two days to back out of this party if she gets to psyched out she reluctantly agrees, maybe she needs this fresh start.

 

They’re on their backs and the conversation just flows. They talk about their childhoods, Mal telling Jessie about all the things she has to try in Colorado. Jessie opens up to Mal about life back in Canada, the friends she left behind. They talk until around dinner time when Jessie walks her friend back to her house next door. Her friend looks nervous as she enters her house and Jessie stays for a second outside, she hears some yelling but concludes that it’s not her business to dwell in.

 

______



The day of the party she’s exhausted but Mal still drags her out of the house with a pout on her face that Jessie fails at resisting.

 

She wears a simple button up with some ripped back jeans, her hair is pulled up in her classic ponytail. She’s pretty sure that when she jumps in Mal’s car, the girl gives her a once over before biting her lips.

 

Jessie thinks Mal doesn’t look so bad herself, the girl’s wearing a flowy blouse with some whitewashed jeans. Actually, Jessie thinks Mal looks like one of those models you see on magazines, but she’d never share that with anyone.

 

Mal joins some of the team in getting a few drinks when they get to the party and Teagan whips Jessie away to play some beer pong. Jessie’s never been that great at party games but it turns out she has an impeccable aim and they end up winning 4 rounds before Teagan gets a little too tipsy to aim straight. Jessie drank a bottle of beer earlier and she’s been drinking water ever since, she’s not a big drinker, alcohol gives her big migraines. She plays FIFA with some of the friendly soccer guys she meets and it’s nice to get away from the crowded dance floor/living room. She starts looking for Mal around 11 since it’s a school night and finds her drunkenly wandering around upstairs.

 

“Oh hey Jessie,” Mal greets her, she’s clearly slurring her words. Jessie sighs, “How much did you drink?” she helps Mal find her balance.

 

“I lost track-,” Mal stops mid-sentence and bolts for the nearest bathroom, she grabs the toilet and starts puking her guts out. Jessie kneels down next to the girl and pats her back, she’s not sure what to do.

 

She slides out Mal’s keys from the girl’s pocket and puts it in her own, there’s no way she’s letting her drive them home.

 

Mal stops throwing up and sits by the toilet breathless. Jessie grabs a towel and dabs at her mouth to clean her up. She gently tucks a piece of hair behind her ear and rubs calm circles around her back.

 

“Come on I’m driving you home,” she helps Mal off the ground, her friend doesn’t look too well.

 

Jessie snakes an arm around her waist letting Mal lean into her.

 

They struggle but eventually Jessie gets Mal to settle down in the car before she starts it and drives towards their houses.

 

She’s not quite sure how to get Mal back into her house without waking Mal’s planets. She feels the arms around her tighten when she gets the girl out of the car. Mal buries her face in shoulder, “I don’t wanna go home,”

 

Jessie runs her hands through Mal’s hair in comfort.

 

“Come on you have to,” Mal shakes her head like a child, “My parents are fighting they never notice if I’m home anyways,” she says in a voice that breaks Jessie’s heart. She sighs and locks Mal’s car and guides her towards her own house.

 

“You’re staying with me,”

 

Mal looks surprised but she doesn’t lighten her hold as they try to get into the house as quiet as possible. Jessie’s parents are okay with her drinking because they know she doesn’t do a lot of it anyways/ She knows they’ll understand. She gives Mal some comfortable clothes to slip in while she wakes her dad up to inform him of their situation. He tells her he’s proud she’s taking care of her people and goes back to bed. When she gets back to her room, Mal’s climbing into bed.

“Mal?”

 

The girl looks at her wearily.

 

“Do you want me to call your boyfriend?”

 

“No, I’ve never told anyone about this,” After that she passes out.


Jessie gets in bed but sleep doesn't come easily for her. She can’t grasp why her heart hurts so much for the girl sleeping next to her. Her thoughts turn into dreams until alarm breaks her out of her peaceful slumber. The first thing she hears is Mal groaning next to her. She quickly grabs her phone and turns off the piercing sound.

 

______

 

Her mom makes Mal a hangover smoothie, her friend takes it sheepishly a little embarrassed. Her parents make sure Mal knows she has a place in their house if anything ever happens. Jessie waits in the driver's seat while Mal get’s her backpack from her house.

 

“Were your parents home?”

 

No they both work,” Mal says massaging her temples. Jessie looks at her with sympathy.

 

“I’ve never had someone take care of me like that,” Mal admits and Jessie glances at her from the corner of her eye.

 

“I know that we just met like 2 weeks ago but, whatever’s going on you can tell me,”

 

Mal looks down sadly, “Just shitty parenting,” she laughs sarcastically to deflect the sadness of the situation.

 

______

 

Her dad invites over Mal and he reveals that he finished the treehouse yesterday. They climb up into the spacious house and Elsie bounces with excitement. She smiles when she sees a nook in the corner with a bookshelf filled with her favorite books. From beside her, she sees Mal looking around with amazement.

 

“It has a good view of the sunrise,” she points out at the big window in front of them. Jessie nods, “Put it on our bucket list,”

 

“We have a bucket list?”

 

Jessie feels herself blush but she plays it cool, “Of course,”

 

They stay up there for hours, laying on the ground staring up at the ceiling. Jessie feels like she’s known Mal all her life and it’s scary considering she’s known the girl for only a few weeks.

 

Maybe she’s starting to find her place.

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

 

Senior year gets more stressful as they move out of the introduction stages of class. Jessie’s making more friends in school although she still sticks around her team. They’ve become like a family in the past few weeks and she likes hanging out with them. Kelley shows her all the best sunset spots in town and they make it a tradition to drive out to a different spot every night and watch the sun go down. When she can’t make it, Kelley will send her a snapchat of wherever she went. They’re a week from the first game of the season, Jessie’s nervous because she hears that college scouts will be there but it doesn’t shake her.

 

Her and Teagan are doing homework in the car before practice with the music cranked high. Teagan puts down her homework and leans over to turn down the music. She taps her pen nervously like she wants to say something but it’s on the tip of her tongue. Jessie looks up at her curiously.

 

“Ok, what’s wrong?”

 

Teagan looks down and takes a breath, “I have to tell you something,”

 

Jessie raises her eyebrows, Teagan’s never one to get this nervous about something. She nods encouraging her friend to go on.

 

“I like girls,” Teagan says calmly, enunciating every syllable as if she were afraid Jessie wouldn’t comprehend her.

 

Jessie laughs, “Cool, me too,”

 

Teagan starts laughing along with Jessie, “I knew it!”

 

“How?”

 

Teagan starts shoving her homework back into her backpack, “I knew as soon as I saw you stare at Mallory on the first day,”

 

Jessie starts blushing and she laughs nervously, “Shut up T,”

 

“Alright whatever you say, Fleming, come on it’s time for practice,”

 

________

 

She’s nervous the whole week about her first game but as soon as she steps on the field all of her worries fade away. At the end of the day, it’s the game that she’s been playing since she was 3. Her mom always jokes that Jessie learned how to kick a ball before she learned to talk. It was sort of true after all her first word was ‘ball’.

She makes the starting roster and her whole family’s in the stands proudly holding up their posters. It warms Jessie’s heart warms when she sees her sister holding up a sign for Mal and she points it out to her friend. Mal stares at it for a second before she grins, “No one’s ever made me a poster before,” Jessie leans in closer to Mal’s ear, “Score a goal for me,”

Mal smiles and starts to walk over to her starting position, “Give me a good cross then,”

Their chemistry throughout the game was on a whole different level. Jessie’s crosses were like magnets attracted to Mal’s cleats. They crush the other team 4-0 with braces from Mal and Jordyn respectively. She doesn’t score but after the game, Mal emotionally wraps her up in a tight hug.

“It’s gonna be a good senior year,”

She’s gonna make this the best year of high school yet.

 

________

 

She feels safe talking to Teagan. They’re both people just trying to figure out who they love and there’s a real beauty in that. On her old team, she felt the need to hide who she was from everyone. Here, it couldn’t be any more different.

Her and Mal makes their bucket list and they tape it on the wall of the tree house.

  1. Watch the sunset.
  2. Sneak out early and watch the sunrise.
  3. Build a fort.
  4. Hang up fairy lights (Mal put that)
  5. Finish 4 books.

They fulfill the first one on a spectacular Friday night, the Colorado sky is 7 different shades of purple leaving Jessie speechless as they sit there together. Their shoulders are touching and Mal rests her head on Jessie’s shoulders.

The second one took some convincing on Jessie’s side. She’s not a morning person unless it’s for soccer practice. Mal somehow lets herself into their house and refuses to leave until Jessie gets up and watches the sunset with her. The sleepy Canadian climbs up to the treehouse and Mal lets her fall asleep on her shoulders for a few minutes until the sun starts the rise. This time it’s 7 shades of pink and Jessie swears she’ll never get tired of the Colorado sky.

They’re basically connected at the hip to the point where they’re teammates tease them about being married. Jessie just blushes and reminds herself that Mallory was 1. Straight, and 2. Taken. Although lately, all she ever hears about is how he mistreats her, when Mal comes to practice teary-eyed one day, she knows immediately what happened. All she does is pull Mallory into her arms and rock her around, hoping the girl in her arms knows just how much she deserves.

And Jessie thinks that Mallory Pugh deserves the world.

________

 

That evening, with Elsie’s help, she hauls up tons of pillows and blankets into the tree house. Her sister also helps her tape up the fairy lights that she’s been meaning to for a while now. Then she uses the pillows and blankets to construct a comfortable nook like a fort.

 

Mal’s still sad when she knocks on her door so she doesn’t agree to hang out at first. But Jessie gives Mal her best puppy dog eyes and drags her up the fort. When they reach the top of the ladder it takes Mal a second to look around. She turns around and looks at Jessie’s softly and Jessie just gestures to where her laptop was.

 

“Wanna watch a movie in our fort?”

 

“Duh,”

 

They watch Bend it like Beckham and Mal’s clingy all throughout the movie and halfway through it Jessie realizes that the other girl was asleep on her chest and her fingers were mindlessly running through Mal’s hair. She set down her laptop and fumbles around blindly for her phone, trying not to wake the sleeping girl. The clock on her phone reads 11 o’clock, it’s the weekend so it’s fine if Mal wants to sleep over, her parents are used to it anyways, but there’s no way in hell Jessie’s sleeping out here tonight.

 

She nudges Mal who practically jolts up in alarm.

 

“Come on let's go to bed,”

 

Mal nods sleepily, she grabs her phone off the ground and starts down the ladder hal-asleep. Jessie grabs her laptop and folds up a few of the blankets before following her inside quietly. By this point Mal’s parents have had so much conflict that she has a drawer in Jessie’s room just of her clothes, it’s bittersweet. They get ready for bed quickly and Mal clings onto Jessie like a koala, it’s just the way she gets when she’s sad. They fall asleep like that, Mal’s head tucked into Jessie’s neck her arms tightly clinging on to her.

 

And it stays like that, it's becoming an unspoken thing.

 

Mal slipping in late at night through her window and sneaking out early in the mornings. They don’t interact much at school, Mal still sits with her own friends and flirt recklessly with new guys. It’s a weird dynamic because she learns so much about Mallory from the late night cram sessions together and somehow her parents have never found out, or they’ve just never confronted her about it.

 

“I’m going on a date.” They sitting up in the treehouse after school doing some light studying.

 

Jessie looks at her and sets her notebook aside, “With who,?”

 

Mal grabs her phone and starts looking through Instagram to pull up a picture of him, she bites her lip when she finds a good one.

 

Grant Sherwood, he’s decent looking, Jessie deducts from looking through his Instagram. Looks like the type of guy to spend time with his family on the weekends and volunteer his time at a nursing home. He’s actually one of the better one’s Mal’s said yes to.

 

“He seems nice,” Jessie says handing Mal her phone back.

 

Just then they hear glass shattering from Mal’s house. Jessie’s eyes widen as she quickly makes her way down the ladder two rungs at a time and jumps the fence into the yard next door, Mal follows closely behind. Jessie peers into a window and her body freezes at what she sees.

 

“What?” Mal asks squeezing in beside her to see.

 

She feels Mal tense up beside her, “Do we call the cops?”

 

Mal runs inside her house and starts yelling, her mom, had shattered a beer bottle on her dad’s face. Jessie watches it all play out like a stranger watching a movie. She’s concerned for her friend’s safety but she has her phone out ready to call the cops in case anything happens.

 

Her parents yell at her to get out as her mom angrily slams another bottle against the wall.

 

“Why don’t you go find someone to sleep with?!” Her mom asks and Mal’s goes from concern to anger in a split second as she storms out of the house.

 

Jessie greets her outside, she tries to ask what she can do to help but Mal shakes her off coldly and climbs into her car. Jessie sighs watching the girl drive away.

 

She doesn’t have a car and her parents are out so she pulls out her phone and texts Teagan.

 

Teags (via text)

4:21 pm

 

Teagan

 

Teagan

 

Teagan!!

What Jess

 

I need your help

What’s wrong

 

Can you come over I’ll explain

Be there in 5






One of the things that Jessie admires most about Teagan is her fierce loyalty. When Teagan gets to her house she anxiously looks at her friend.

 

“Mal’s parents are fighting and something, um, something happened and she just drove off and I’m scared she’s gonna crash her car or like drive off somewhere,” Jessie starts rambling and Teagan puts her hand on Jessie’s shoulder to calm her down.

 

“Come on let’s look for her,”

 

________

 

They find her at the soccer field shooting shot after shot. Jessie climbs out of Teagan’s car with a thankful look, she jumps the fence and jogs over to where Mal is.

 

She calls her name a few times before she realizes that Mallory has her earphones in, Jessie resorts to tapping her on the shoulders risking a punch to her face when she startles her.

 

Mal takes off her earphones clearly still upset and Jessie just wants to take away her pain. She stands there studying Mal’s face for a second and finds herself feeling shy. There’s nothing she can say to fix anything.

 

She takes a step closer to the girl, afraid she’ll run away again but this time Mal stays put.

 

“Hey,” Jessie says gently she looks at Mal with concern.

 

“Hi,”

 

Mal’s running her hands up and down her arms as if she was cold, Jessie takes off her hoodie and hands it to her. Mal looks at it for a second before she takes it and slips it on.

 

“We don’t have to talk about it but I just want you to be safe, please come back with me,”

 

Mal purses her lips and looks down, “I don’t want to be a burden to you,” she admits shyly.

 

Jessie puts her hand on Mal’s shoulders calmly as Teagan did for her before, “You could never be a burden even if you tried,”

 

________

 

Jessie’s not sure why exactly out of all the people Mal could’ve let herself be vulnerable she chose her. Not that she’s complaining, but for the months that she’s known the girl, she’s not one to let down her walls easily. She’s not as open and Jessie noticed that in the first few weeks they started hanging out together. But ever since their, ‘sleeping arrangement’ started the girl often shared things while they were laying together in the dark. Maybe it’s easier to share things in the dark, or maybe Mal just needed someone to be vulnerable with. She tells her parents that night that Mal might be staying for a few nights and her parents sit down with Mal to talk about what happened. She eavesdrops from the staircase as Mal shares the story about the incident earlier. Her parent’s voices are filled with concern but they tell Mal that she’s allowed to stay for as long as she wants.

 

“You practically live here anyways,” she sees her dad wink and Mal and gives her a warm hug letting her know she’s loved in this house. That gesture warms her heart and she feels grateful to have great parents.

 

Mal’s quieter than usual that night. They’re watching Gossip girl on Jessie’s laptop, well more like Jessie’s watching Gossip girl since Mal’s been texting Grant all night. It bothers her a little that Mal would rather talk to a boy she met last week about what happened then her but she stays quiet and finishes the episode. Mal looks lighter when she falls asleep that night so she tries not to worry about it too much, after all they have practice the next morning.

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

Kelley calls a spontaneous lake trip after Saturday morning practice. Some people are skeptical at first but Kelley reasons that it’s gonna start getting cold soon and it’s probably the last weekend of summer weather they have left.

Mal chirps in and agrees that as captain she’s dubbing this lake trip as a ‘team bonding’ session. Teagan calls dibs on Jessie being in her car and she drops her at her house to grab her swimsuit.

Jessie’s never been one to be self-conscious about her body but she also hates the way she looks in a regular bikini so she usually just ops out for a sports bra and shorts. She feels a wave of relief when she sees that Teagan does the same thing. When they get to the lake Jordyn, Sam, and Janine are already splashing around in the lake and clowning around. She grabs a soccer ball from the trunk of Teagan’s car and juggles on the beachside while they wait for the other people to get there. The warm breeze puts her mind at ease, being stressed about homework the whole weeks takes a toll on you.

Soon enough, the beach fills with laughter and the sound of feet splashing around in water. She gets dragged in the water by Tobin and they get into a chicken fight. Jessie manages to escape the wrath of Tobin and seeks solitude laying down on the warm sand.

 

She closes her eyes for a second enjoying the sound of happiness around her. The world slips away as she lets herself fall into an easy slumber. When she wakes up she can still hear the sound of laughter and hooting but there’s someone laying next to her. Teagan was laying on her stomach scrolling through her phone. Her eyes dart up when she sees Jessie sit up slowly rubbing the sleep out of her eyes

 

“How Long was I out?”

 

Teagan checks the time on her phone, “Bout a half-hour-ish,”

 

“You really care about her don’t you,” Teagan asks.

 

Jessie doesn’t have to ask to know who she’s talking about.

 

“We’re a team, she’s one of my best friends,”

 

Teagan raises her eyebrows, “That’s all you are?”

 

Jessie nods, “Yea Teags, that’s all we are,”

 

“You ever think Sonny’s gonna get her shit together and ask Kelley out?”

 

The sudden topic change is surprising but not unwelcome. Jessie shrugs, it’s obvious to everyone that Kelley and Emily has a thing for each other except for...well Kelley and Emily. There’s even an ongoing bet on who’s gonna make the first move, she bet $20 on Kelley.

 

“When she’s ready,”

 

Teagan ruffles her hair, “when did you get so smart?”

 

Jessie glares at her and shoves a handful of sand down Teagan’s shirt before getting thrown into the lake.




________

They start a campfire and one of the freshmen, Rose busts out her guitar and starts singing. Her voice is calming and it drags Jessie into deep thought until she feels a pair of arms around her. It’s Mal, who’s cozily snuggling into her side. Sometime during the day she had pulled on the hoodie that Jessie gave her last night, the sight makes her oddly happy. She can sense that Mal’s loopy by the way that she leans into her and her eyes look happy but glazed over. The girl probably didn’t get much sleep the night before.

So she lets her fall asleep on her shoulder despite Teagan’s knowing look. It’s one of those nights Jessie thinks she’ll remember about senior year, sitting here sharing stories with her teammates, Mal asleep snuggling into her.

Jessie ends up driving Mal’s car back home with the girl napping in the passenger’s seat. She can’t help but notice how cozy Mal looks in her hoodie.

________

Her mom sets up the guest room for Mal. It’s feels nice to have someone else in the house, although now Mal and Elsie gang up against her during movie nights.

 

According to Elsie, “Green Lantern is the worst movie ever made,” and Mal nods along. Jessie just groans and gives into watching the Incredibles with a pout on her face. She simply just can’t believe someone would not want to watch a movie with Blake Lively in it. She gets used to Kelley and Jordyn kidnapping them in the middle of the night to do something as stupid as stargazing or just driving around and listening to chill music.

 

These are the things she used to read about in books hoping in the back of her mind that she’ll have it someday.

 

It’s nice until the homework starts piling on and balancing practice and school work becomes nearly impossible. The fatigue is obvious at practice in the sloppy passes and uncoordinated plays.

 

Mal barely goes home anymore although Jessie can sense that she’s very hesitant every time her parents invite her to join them in family events. Despite that, her dad always makes an effort to drags Mal along anyways, they nerd out over their mutual love for superheroes, something that Jessie and Elsie never got into.

 

It’s the weekend and her parents surprise them with a surprise ski trip (yes even Mal) up in Vail. It’s 4 hours in a cramped car with her sister annoyingly singing along to the Frozen soundtrack and her mom’s incessantly crunching on potato chips. It almost drives her mad but Mal hasn’t stopped smiling and she likes it when Mal smiles.

 

Jessie doesn’t even wanna imagine how deprived the girl probably was of normal family bonding like this. Mallory, makes herself untouchable at school. She wants people to perceive her as someone who's got it all together. At least that’s why Jessie thinks.

 

She’s lost in thought when she feels the girl lean in close to her and lays her head down gently  in Jessie’s lap. She adjusts herself so that Mal can comfortably nap without hitting her knee every 2 seconds. Jessie looks out at the beautiful scenery outside of the car window, the mountains remind her of ski trips her family took when she was younger. It’s a welcome change of scenery away from all the stress of school and soccer. Her body has definitely taken a toll from sleep deprivation and training.

 

They get there around 2 in the afternoon and check into the lodge. It’s nice, Jessie notes to herself, there’s a ginormous cozy looking fireplace in the living room of their cabin. The tables are all made out of a spruce looking kind of wood and the whole place smells like pine trees. She has to share a room with Mal because as soon as Elsie see’s that there’s a pull-out couch her eyes go wide and she excitedly calls dibs. She doesn’t mind, she’d rather be cozy in a big bed instead of cramped on a tiny sofa bed anyways.

 

Her parents allow the three of them to go explore in the village as long as they promise to stick together. It takes them a while to find a map and make their way around to where all the stores are. At one point Jessie and Elsie get into an argument about which way was North until Mal pulls out her phone and uses the compass. As it turns out, Elsie’s right and her little sister doesn’t pass up the change to gloat at her and stick her tongue out as she grabs Mal’s hands and starts dragging her in that direction. It amuses Jessie, who’s walking behind them shaking her head. Mal just looks back at her apologetically.

 

She can feel the exhaustment settle into her bones when she flops onto her bed that night. Mal and Elsie had dragged her into every store and had taken forever in every one. Apparently, they have a mutual love for shopping, something Jessie forgot she hated until today. She sees Mal walk out of their bathroom with an amused look on her face.

 

“What?” She asks throwing her hand over her face in defeat.

 

“We weren’t that bad,” Mal says teasingly, she sits down on the bed.

 

“I just hate shopping,” Jessie says grumpily sitting up and getting under the covers. She forgot how cold it is in the mountains and the only sleepwear she packed was her soccer shorts and a t-shirt, definitely not suited for negative 10 degree weather.

 

“Come here,” Mal says climbing under the covers with her.

 

“What?”

 

“Come here, you’re gonna freeze your ass off Fleming,”

 

Jessie reluctantly gives in and lets her body take in Mal’s body heat. She curls into her side and it’s a bit awkward because was this cuddling?

 

They’ve woken up tangled together before but never intentionally. Jessie wills her mind to not overthink this as she lets the sleep takeover her thoughts which turn into dreams.

Chapter Text

Chapter 4

 

Her dreams don’t last very long before she wakes up in the middle of the night. She tosses a turns carefully, afraid that she’ll accidentally wake up Mallory with her restlessness. Her mind is going at a 100 miles an hour and everything she’s been suppressing for the past few weeks are swarming around in her mind. She knows that she has feelings for Mal and it’s hard to ignore what her heart is saying when the girl is literally fast asleep in her arms right now. Jessie feels like she’s suffocating in Mallory’s arms (dramatic much?).

 

She carefully untangles herself from the other girl and slips out of bed shivering. Jessie throws on the closest hoodie she can find and grabs her blanket. She’s silent when she slips out onto the shared balcony with a blanket around her shoulders, the only thing keeping her from freezing to death.

 

The stars are out and Jessie doesn’t think that she’s properly seen the stars in a few years. It’s nice to be able to look up and not have the night sky already lit up by skyscrapers and light towers.

 

Jessie rubs her hands up and down her arms trying to warm herself up. She reflects on how quickly Mallory’s grown on her. And how her feelings have been evolving lately. She notices the small things that like warmth in her chest when Mal hugs her or the way she gets kinda mad when Mal chooses Grant over her, or how Mal looks gorgeous to her whether after 50 sprints during practice or 3 in the morning crying her eyes out.

 

She also knows that every time she’s ever liked someone in her life it’s never ended well for her. For a few years she just turned off her feelings, it’s better to ignore them if they always end in heartbreak anyways. Something else she knows is that Mal is happy with Grant, and even if she wasn’t , she isn’t into girls. And there’s a little part of her subconscious that’s disgusted at herself for having these feelings for someone who’s so obviously unreachable. The other part just feels lost.

 

Mal’s become one of her best friends in just a few months. Which isn’t surprising considering her living arrangement. Jessie was surprised when her parents took Mal in without a second thought, they had a good feeling about her. She’s great with Elsie, somehow those two never run out of things to talk about. What’s not to love about Mallory?

 

She sits out there for a while longer until she can’t ignore the cold anymore and her muscles feel like ice. She reluctantly crawls back into bed, this time laying down further away from the sleeping girl. She eventually succumbs into her weariness and lets her thoughts go for the night.

 

Skiing’s easy for her, she’s been doing it since before she could even ride a bike. It’s nearly impossible to live in a densely populated area in Canada and not know how to ski or skate.

 

Jessie’s top 3 favorite feelings:

  1. That feeling of skiing down the side of the mountain so fast that all you hear is the wind against your helmet.
  2. That feeling of running down a field with a soccer ball at her feet.
  3. When she accidentally wakes up hour before she has to wake up for school.

 

She goes off one of the harder routes with her mom and it’s a nice and easy feeling. It’s been a while since she’s gotten to ski with her mom, the last time she was 12. While they waited for the rest of the family to join them her mom drags her into one of the coffee shops at base camp. It’s a cozy place with a gigantic fireplace in the middle providing warmth for every corner of the store. As soon as they walk in, the smell of cinnamon buns and coffee hits her nose.

 

They both order a simple black coffee and a cinnamon bun to split. Jessie notices that her mom seems to be chattier than usual and that usually means she wants to ask her something but doesn’t want to flat out ask.

 

“What’s on your mind Mom?” She asks and she can see the look of surprise in her mother’s eyes.

 

“So, Mal’s a nice girl,” Her mom starts.

 

Jessie nods suspiciously, “Yeah, she is,”

 

Her mom takes a sip of coffee before continuing, “You gonna ask her out?”

 

Jessie almosts chokes on her bite of the cinnamon roll but it doesn’t take long for her to recover.

 

“She’s straight, Mom,”

 

Her mom raises her eyebrows, “Are you sure, she’s sure very touchy,”

 

Jessie nods studying the view outside the window.

 

“And you’re ok with it? The touchiness,”

 

Her mom laughs, “Just remember that I never wanna see that beautiful heart of yours break,”

 

Jessie smiles softly, “You know I can’t promise that,”

 

Her mom looks at her sadly, “I know baby girl, I know,”



They sit there quietly for a few more minutes until her dad comes walking through the door with Mal and Elsie in tow. They’re shivering and by the looks of it, her sister had taken a tumble down the mountain.

 

Her dad sees her eyeing her sister, “Someone decided to crash into a tree,” he teases ruffling Elsie’s hair.

 

Her mom looks at her daughter with concern but she seems physically fine, other than the sheer embarrassment. Mal plops down next to her after stripping off her heavily winter jacket, she looks comfortable in her Nike pullover and Jessie finds herself staring.

 

If the other girl notices she doesn’t call her out, instead she grabs Jessie’s arm gently.

 

“How are you?” She asks, quiet enough for just the two of them to hear.

 

“I’m perfect,” Jessie responds smiling softly, leaning into Mal’s touch. Her mom shoots them a knowing look that reminds of Teagan but she just looks at her mom and smiles, reassuring her.

 

The five of them sit there enjoying each other’s company until her dad mentions that he and her mom were thinking about going out to some of the stores and her sister (knowing if she goes with them they’ll pay for her stuff) insists on tagging along.

 

Her mom asks them if they wanna come to but Jessie just shakes her head. Skiing made her surprisingly tired and she’s up for a nap.

 

Mal agrees that she wants a nap too and they walk back to the cabin together.

 

________

 

Watching bend it like Beckham for the 100th time in her life while falling asleep on Mal's shoulder is definitely not what Jessie has in mind, but then again Mal isn’t what she had in mind either.

 

She lets her thoughts and inhibitions go, too tired to go at war with her own mind. She lets herself curl up next to Mallory and just sleep, skiing really drained the life from her.

 

________



Chapter Text

Chapter 5

 

Going back to school after a weekend away is hard. All she wants to do is sleep in all day curled up next to Mal and Elsie while hearing her parents laugh in the background. Instead, she’s sitting in Physics with Teagan poking her every 5 seconds to spill the tea about her weekend away with Mallory.

 

“Nothing happened T,”

 

Teagan eyes her suspiciously, Jessie shakes her head in frustration.

 

“She doesn’t have feelings for me, and she never will. I should just focus on being a good friend,”

 

She turns back to the board and her friend gets the signal that she doesn’t want to talk about it. The rest of the class consists of Jessie trying not to fall asleep and Teagan trying to see how long she can use her phone under the table before the teacher notices.

 

At lunch, she’s surprised when Mal's already sitting by Sam when she gets to their table. She hasn’t eaten with them in week and Jessie hides her surprise well. Of course, Kelley invites the whole team to a party Thursday night (Jessie thinks that whoever picked the middle of the week was probably an idiot) and claims it’s ‘team bonding’. She’s positive she can hear Jordyn and Tobin muttering something along the lines of ‘KO just wants to get wasted’

 

She tries her best not to laugh for Kelley’s sake because the girl is bouncing with excitement as she texts everyone the time and address.

 

“Guys don’t forget we have a game this Saturday, so we can’t get that wasted,” Alex reminds them and nudges Kelley sternly. Her best friend turns and looks at her incredulously as if she was offended Alex would even look at her.

 

“Bold of you to assume I can even get drunk,”

 

Alex rolls her eyes, “Oh I don’t have to assume Kelley, I know from experience,” she shoots back.

 

Jessie watches their interaction and smiles to herself, she’s pretty sure those two were soulmates but she’d never tell them.

 

________

 

Mal's still staying at her house but Jessie doesn’t see her outside of practice much over the next few days. They go home together then each with go off into their own rooms and do their own homework and hobbies. Jessie’s mom insisted on helping Mallory bring a few things over while her dad went next door and had a chat with Mallory’s mom (who had no care in the world about where her daughter was staying).

 

Now, their guest bedroom is filled with Mal's stuff and it makes Jessie happy to see her friend so comfortable. It’s also nice to know that she’s safe and not sleeping on the streets, although sometimes she’ll sleep over at Grant’s house and sneak back in late in the night.

 

Mallory also sneaks into Jessie’s room less and less. It used to be a grounding thing, Jessie brought her back to reality when she couldn’t adjust from her nightmares. Now, she was having them less and less. Jessie tries to convince herself that she doesn’t miss the pair of arms that used to wrap around her waist unexpectedly in the night. Or waking up tangled up with someone who’s practically a space heater.

 

It warms her heart to see Elsie hang out with Mal, although sometimes she feels almost jealous that her sister seems to like Mal more than her. She’s glad they hang out though because Mallory’s much better at giving her sister advice about boys. Whenever her sister asks her for advice it always ends in a pillow getting chucked Jessie’s way for her smartass answers.

________

 

Thursday rolls around quickly and it reminds her of the first time that she really got to know Mal. The first party they ever went to together, it felt like forever ago when in reality it was only months ago. She doesn’t remember what it's like to not have Mallory as a constant in her life. She likes having her around, even when she drags Jessie to the store an hour before the party because “Oh my god I don’t have anything to wear,”

 

Apparently, it's not helpful when Jessie points out that Mal has plenty of things to wear because the girl just glares at her until she gives in. She lets herself get dragged through half the shops in the mall and they somehow make it to the party on time.

 

At the party, she finds herself with a drink in hand, hanging out with Teagan, Tobin, and Janine. She would say they’re all the chillest people on the team, all with laid back personalities like herself. It's a welcome change after having to go shopping with Mallory for the past two hours. She finds herself having fun and they lose track of time just chatting away about soccer. It’s nice to find a group of people that are as passionate about soccer as her. They don’t stop talking until they see Emily and Mal stumble towards them, obviously wasted. Jessie crinkles her eyebrows, ‘why would they drink this much knowing they had a game soon?’

 

She gets up and helps Mal to a chair while Janine helps Sonnett. Mal smiles loopily at her and Jessie tucks a piece of stray hair back behind her ear.

 

“How drunk are you?” She asks seriously.

 

When Mal giggles it makes her angry for some reason. Mal was the captain, what kind of example was she setting for the freshman on the team?

 

“You shouldn’t have drunk this much and you know it,” She says harshly, she’s not really sure where it comes from.

 

Mal looks at her, still in her drunken state, “You’re not my girlfriend, don’t tell me what to do,” She narrows her eyes at Jessie. Jessie can feel her teammates looking at them. She takes a breath and controls her anger, it was probably caused by the slight buzz she has going on.

 

“You’re right,” she says, “I’m not your girlfriend, but I am your friend so I’m sorry that I care about whether or not you feel like shit on gameday,”

 

Everyone’s ready to leave and call it a night. Teagan drives them back home and she tells Jessie to cool her jets. She also helps her navigate a fussy Mallory back into her house before she drives home.

 

Before she goes Jessie calls after her.

Teagan looks back at her, “I call being designated driver next week,” Jessie says.

 

“Suit yourself, Fleming,”



________

 

Getting Mal changed and in bed is hard but getting her to let Jessie leave the room is harder.

 

“Are you mad at me,” she hears her ask when she turns off the lights to leave.

 

Jessie sighs and leans in the doorway, “A little bit, but I still want you to be safe so please just go to sleep and don’t leave,”

 

She hears Mallory mutter something along the lines of ‘Ok Jess’ before she closes her door.

 

Jessie gets changed in record time before brushing her teeth and flopping onto her own bed and passing out.

She could worry about the rest tomorrow.




Chapter Text

Chapter 6

 

Despite the irritation she felt towards Mal, she slips a bottle of painkillers onto the girl’s nightstand early in the morning. Then she quietly leaves the house for a morning run, running usually helps her clear her mind and think more critically. Mallory's words echoes in her brain endlessly, ‘You’re not my girlfriend’.

 

Something about those words stings because Jessie wasn’t trying to be, she was merely trying to be a good friend and teammate. She also should take into account the amount of alcohol that the other girl probably had before the incident.

 

As hard as it is for Jessie to admit, she knows that a little part of her still hasn’t let go of the idea on Mal yet. It’s pretty obvious to her that she hasn’t gotten over the girl, it’s been weeks and the sound of Grant’s name still stings her like a slap across the face. She’s so deep into thought that she doesn’t realize her muscle memory has brought her back to her driveway. She stops and puts her hands above her head trying to steady her breathing. When she enters the house her mom’s sleepily frying eggs at the stove. She says good morning before skipping up the stairs the grab a quick shower. She observes that Mal's door is still shut and its uncharacteristically late for her even hungover.

 

Jessie gently opens her door and peaks her head in, Mal's still dead asleep with her face in her pillow.

 

If she wasn’t still sort of angry with her she’d almost find it...endearing.

 

Jessie grabs a pillow and pelts it at her playfully, “time to get up sleepyhead,”

 

Mal groans and snuggles further into her covers making a cocoon of warmth.

 

“I feel like hell,”

 

Jessie sits down on her bed, she pours out a few pills from the bottle and hands it to Mal who sits up reluctantly to take it. Their hands brush and Jessie feels herself getting awkward. Mal looks up at her softly and grabs her hand, “Can we please sleep in,” she pouts at Jessie and all her anger just disperses.

 

Jessie looks at her like an adult would look at a toddler, “You have english first period,”

 

Mal rolls her eyes and pulls Jessie towards the bed, “Yea, English, useless,” Jessie holds up her finger to put their conversation on hold, she heard her mom calling for her.

 

“Jessie I’m leaving for work!”

 

Jessie sticks her head around the staircase, “Okay mom!” She says and she takes a breath trying to decide whether or not to give into Mallory’s proposition.

 

She doesn’t even bother changing, she knows one more pout from Mal and she’s gonna cave anyways.

 

When she sneaks back into Mallory’s room she’s quietly slips under the covers next to the girl.

 

“Only english got it?” She says narrowing her eyes.

 

Mal nods, “Shut up and sleep Fleming,” she feels a pair of arms wrap around her waist and Mal nuzzling her face into Jessie’s back. She’s tense at first but relaxes into her touch, it doesn’t take long for her to fall back asleep.

 

It also doesn’t take long for her jolt awake at the sound of her phone alarm. She had set it so she could wake up 30 minutes before the next period starts. Mal groans and nuzzles her face closer to Jessie’s neck.

 

Jessie gropes around for her phone to turn off the alarm.

 

“We still have to talk,” She says laying back down facing Mallory.

 

Mal nods, “I’m sorry, I think I had too much to drink,”

 

Jessie closes her eyes for a second, “That’s not why I was mad and you know it,”

 

She feels Mal pull her closer, “I know you were just trying to help,”

 

Jessie shakes her head, “Is this how you’re like with Grant?” she asks shakily. Mal looks at her with confusion.

 

Jessie continues, “Do you let him hold you like I do? Or am I just your crutch for you to use when you feel like you can’t do it anymore,”

 

Mal looks at her, hurt, “Jess, it’s not like that,”

 

Jessie steadies her breathing and sits up, she pulls her knees to her chest.

 

“Then please explain what it’s like, because you confuse me Mallory,”

 

Mal sits up beside her, “You scare me, you make me feel all these things and I don’t know what I want...who I want,”

 

Jessie swings her leg off the side of the bed and grabs her phone, “Then figure it out,” she says as she leaves.



Chapter Text

Chapter 7

 

She tries to brush off and to focus on trying to understand Congress. Their teacher gives them free time to work on a worksheet and she partners up with Sam. They’re trying to list the functions of Congress but her mind keeps drifting to Mal and a wave of guilt hits her. What if she misread the signs?

 

What if Mal's intentions were purely platonic? She runs through all the memories in her head. All the times that she thought there were signs of a possibility of something more. All the ways that Mal only opened up to her and no one else.

 

Or she thought. She begins to doubt herself.

 

Sam taps her on the arm bringing her back to the present. Her friend gestures to her blank paper.

 

“You good?”

 

She looks up and nods, “I got home late last night,”

 

Sam laughs, “You should’ve seen Kelley last night,”

 

“Do I wanna know?”

 

Sam snorts, “probably not,”

 

She plugs in her headphones and focuses on finishing her worksheet before the bell rang, she really didn’t have time to finish it later. The two periods before lunch feels like an eternity, at least more than usual. She’s more restless, the gameday buzz running through her body like electricity. She just wants to get out and play the game but she’s also anxious about how she might have affected the chemistry after this morning.

 

At lunch she notices Mallory’s eyes on her, they’re boring a hole the size of Texas into the side of her head but she doesn’t dare look up, instead she engages herself into a deep conversation with Emily and Janine.

 

It’s nice, everyone’s buzzing with excitement about their game and she the worry starts to die off.

 

Her and Mal fall into a peaceful rhythm for the rest of the day, interacting when it’s needed but nothing more. Warm-ups go the same way, they barely say a word to each other in the locker room and if their teammates notice the cutting edge of the tension they don’t mention it.

 

To Jessie’s relief, it doesn’t affect the way they play. Colorado Springs High School is ranked 2 below them in their league standing. Janine scores a banger about 4 minutes in from a perfect cross from Alex. They slow down for a few minutes before Jessie and Mal really start a connection. Something in her snaps and she feels almost..desperate to get Mal a goal.

 

She’s overwhelmed and little heartbroken but she creates opportunity after opportunity and soon enough Mallory’s two goals put them up 3-0. It’s a perfect execution and finish and Jessie feels Mal run into her arms to celebrate, she’s tense but she pats Mal on the back before walking back to the middle to start again. Just 20 seconds before halftime Tobin streaks down the field, the ball at her feet in a way mesmerizes Jessie and she finds herself watching her teammate. A few seconds later, Tobin chips the goalie and by the halftime whistle their up 4-0.

 

She always knew that a game was going well when the sweat droplets on her skin began to run down her face and limbs and her lungs felt like they were on fire. That’s how she knows she played a solid 90, or the fact that Mallory scores her first hattrick of the season and Janine, a brace. She stays on the field for a few minutes taking it in. The sun sinking lower in the sky, the light of day draining away, giving way to the velvety dark of night, crickets chirping, dusky, colors subdued in the fading light, the first buzz of mosquitoes.

 

The feeling of winning a game, that she never wanted to forget.

 

She feels an arm on her shoulder and she spins around and sees Teagan standing behind her.

 

“Wanna go grab some food with the team?” The Australian asks her.

 

She nods and follows her friend back into the locker room and changes quickly. In there, she sees Mallory sitting in the corner on her phone talking expressively. She had changed into a hoodie (one of Jessie’s), and some ripped jeans.

 

She curses at herself under her breath when she catches herself gazing over at the girl like some kind of lovesick fool. She just shakes it off and continues shoving her stuff back into her bag, not aggressive at all.

 

On the ride over to the diner, she tries to not think about how she admired everything about Mallory, from the way the breeze blew her hair to the fact that she was unfailingly kind, or the way that she looks like an angel right now.

 

The light of the sinking sun hitting her at the perfect angle, really Jessie thinks every angle is perfect when it came to Mallory. When Mallory looks up at her she knows that she’s been caught staring. She expects the girl to break their eye contact but she doesn’t, there’s something in her eyes and Jessie can’t seem to read it.

 

The celebration at dinner is good, everyone’s more hyped than they should be. Emily and Kelley dance around the table with their burgers in one hand and their sodas in the other. Mal sits down next to her when they arrive late and find their seats, Tobin sits on her other side.

 

“Jess?” She hears Mal say quietly as if she was afraid Jessie was going to reply angrily.

 

It felt like an eternity before Jessie turns to her and acknowledges her.

 

“I’m really sorry, for everything,” She says her voice low, although it doesn’t matter Alex was currently telling a story rather loudly and they wouldn’t be heard over the sound of laughter anyways.

 

She doesn’t know what to respond so she just nods, her lips in a flat line, emotionless.

 

“I know this isn’t the best place to have this conversation but it’s killing me,” Mal continues.

 

Jessie interrupts her, “Look what I said about Grant earlier, it was out of line,”

 

Mal shakes her head, “No you were right, I just need some time to figure out what I’m feeling, but we just won a game and I just wanna celebrate with my best friend, you can go back to being mad at me tomorrow,”

 

Jessie feels her walls crash and burn, “Only if you buy me all the milkshake,” She hears herself mumble.

 

Mallory pumps her fists in the air and stands up, “You’re worth all the milkshakes in the world,”

 

They weren’t good yet, she needed to figure out what she needs and Mal needs to figure out what she wants. But they just won a game, and Jessie just wants her best friend and a damn milkshake.

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

 

She learns to put her feelings aside and just enjoy Mal's friendship. They don’t talk about what Mal had said that morning.

 

“I don’t know know what I want....who I want,”

 

They don’t bring it up but those few words echoes their way through Jessie’s brain. She shakes those stupid thoughts out of her head as she see’s Mal hurrying towards the car, two milkshakes in the cradle of her arm. Jessie rolls down the passenger seat window and grabs the milkshakes from her hands, balancing them clumsily on her knee.

 

“Did you get me vanilla strawberry?” She asks, watching Mal slip into the driver’s seat.

 

“Yup,” Mal answers popping the p.

 

She slides Mal's chocolate shake into the cupholder.

 

“How are we gonna sneak this into the tree house without Elsie noticing?” Mallory asks with genuine concern on her face.”

 

Jessie snorts, “She’s gonna have to deal with it,” Mal narrows her eyes to glare at Jessie and reaches out to smack her arm.

 

Jessie squeals and makes herself small in her seat, doubling over in laughter.

 

“There’s a Mcdonald’s on the way home, I’m gonna get her dipped cone,” Mal decides continuing to drive.

 

Jessie shakes her head, “Pretty sure she likes you more than me,”

 

“What can I say, I’m obviously the best,”

 

The look on her sister’s face makes the detour worth it.

 

_________

 

She’s laying on the floor of their treehouse, content with letting Mallory decide what they were going to do later in the day. She suggests playing pick-up in the park, driving out to the middle of nowhere to take pictures, or going to the drive-in theater. Jessie’s only half listening when Mal pokes her in the side of the stomach.

 

She squirms and makes a face, “What was that for?”

 

“I said do you wanna take your new camera out for a spin?”

 

Jessie had uncharacteristically treated herself by buying a new camera a few days ago, she needed an upgrade since her photography skills no longer matched her ratty old camera that was missing a cap.

 

“Sure, as long as I get to drive your car, you almost killed us earlier,”

 

Mal huffs, “fine, as long as I get to pick to music,”

 

They have a blast driving out to the countryside and taking photos. Well mostly Jessie takes pictures of Mal and they have an impromptu photoshoot. Mal spends a whole 2 hours convincing her to get an Instagram (unsuccessfully),  she just runs her hand through her hair in defeat and continues to listen to Mal's ‘15 reasons for getting social media’ speech.

 

“Come on you’ll get to stalk pretty girls,”

 

“Not interested,”

 

“Teagan uses Instagram,”

 

“I can just talk to Teagan in real life,”

 

“Did you know scouts sometimes use social media to scout?”

 

That stumps Jessie for a second before she turns back towards Mal and narrows her eyes, “I don’t need that,”

 

Mal puts her hands on her hips and sighs, Jessie sneaks a photo of her pouting while standing on a rock.

 

“Do you at least know your sister has an Instagram?”

 

Jessie laughs, “what does she post? Angsty quotes?”

 

“Why are you so mean,”

 

Jessie smiles, “I’m just grumpy,”

 

“Maybe it has something to do with the fact that you slept like 3 hours last night,”

 

“Hey! To be fair, Kelley really needed advice on Emily,”

 

She had stayed up on the phone listening to Kelley gush over Emily for over 2 hours (Mal listened in with a bowl of ice cream in her bed but Kelley would kill her if she knew).



_________

 

She leans back on her hands and lazily kicks her feet out to the middle of the water. They decide to spend the rest of the afternoon in the jacuzzi hidden in the corner of the yard.

 

“What do you wanna do?” Mal asks, her hand splashing the water lightly.

 

“Sleep,” Jessie answers sinking in the water until only her head could be seen.

 

Mal rolls her eyes, “I mean what do you wanna do after high school,”

 

Jessie lolls her head back in thought, honestly she’s never put much thought into this, there’s only ever been one answer for her.

 

“I wanna play soccer till the day my bones fall apart and the refs physically pull me off the field,” she answers truthfully.

 

They sit in silence for a bit before Mal answers, “If we both play on the national team you realize we’d be rivals right,”

 

Jessie laughs, “Good thing I know all your weaknesses,” she says throwing a wink at Mal.

 

“I sure hope we make it,” Mal admits.

 

“Me too,”



Chapter Text

Chapter 9\\\

 

She finds Mal tagging along on her morning runs. They’re competitive beyond measure and most mornings they find themselves out of breath coughing their lungs up. If Mal went for 5 miles Jessie would go 6, practice would be extra sore (Jessie thinks it’s worth it though).

 

The days get shorter and shorter and they’re lucky if they get even 30 minutes of sun during practice. She doesn’t mind though, for her, there’s something emotional about playing under the lights. There’s something nostalgic about seeing their breathes rising in visible puffs, blending into the night sky. Rosy cheeks and chattering teeth become a pattern, but they’re hungry for more. The cold seeps into their gloves numbing their fingers until they cease to bend properly, but their motivation stands rigid and stubborn refusing to leave.

_________

 

Jessie massages her throbbing temples as she glances at what seems like the thousandth flash card. The words seemed to blur together, she tries to blink away the fatigue but fails. The stress of finals week has her on the edge of a breakdown.

 

Jessie sighs and presses her forehead into the flashcard, as if trying to physically imprint the information into her brain. She throws down the card in frustration and leans back in her chair. Stifling a yawn she glances at the time, ‘1:02’, great she thought, at least it’s Saturday tomorrow.

 

She grabs her water bottle and takes a long drink, replenishing her brain, before forcing herself back to her studies.

 

Sometime in the night she hears a knock on her door. It startles her since she’s heard nothing but the heater turning on and off all night.

 

“Come in,” She mutters before dropping her flashcards onto the desk in a neat and orderly fashion.

 

Mal closes the door quietly behind her, “Why are you still up?” Jessie asks her.

 

Mal raises her glass of water to answer her question, “I was thirsty and when I got up I saw that your light was still on,”

 

Jessie rubs her eyes and stifles another yawn, she shuts off the lights before she sits down on the side of her bed where Mal's foot dangles.

 

“I’m gonna fail all my tests,”

 

“Oh come on, that can’t be true,” Mallory argues rolling her eyes.

 

Jessie shakes her head and shoves Mallory over to make space for herself on the bed, Mal protests for a second but reluctantly rolls over sideways.

 

“Why do I have to learn about the American Government to play soccer,” She asks softly and Mal laughs.

 

“Because Dum-Dums can’t play soccer,”

 

Jessie laughs, feeling much lighter than she did minutes ago. She doesn’t question the fact that Mallory’s made herself comfortable on the side of her bed that’s been empty for months.

 

She’s about to drift off when Mal’s voice cuts through the darkness.

 

“Jess?”

 

“Yea?”

 

“Have you ever been in love?”

 

“No,”

 

“Oh,” There’s silence for a second before Jessie continues, “Mal?”

 

“Hmm?”

 

“Go to bed,” She finds Mal’s hand in the dark and intertwines their finger together, bringing it to her chest.

 

It doesn’t even take a minute for the darkness to take her.



_________

 

She doesn’t wake up until Elsie jumps into her bed and pelts her with pillows until she sits up to hit her sister back.

 

“You slept forever” her sister whines, dragging out the r to make her point.

 

“Just wait till you get to high school kid,” She says and lays back down.

 

Elsie grabs her arm and drags her out of her covers, “Nope, get up, Mal said if I get you up I can have extra pancakes,”

 

At the mention of pancakes Jessie gets up and stretches, “Where’s mom and dad?”

 

“They went out on a hike,”

 

“Let’s gooooo, I want my extra pancakes,”

 

Jessie ruffles Elsie’s hair, “You know she was gonna give you extra pancakes either way right?”

 

“Of course, who could resist my pout,”

 

_________

 

They eat their pancakes in silence as the sound of cartoons are playing in the background. It felt nice, the feeling of calmness that she’s craved for the past few days, watching the tiny forms racing across the pixels. After she does the dishes, Jessie nestles herself into her favorite couch and watches the rest of Tom and Jerry with Elsie while Mal finishes some homework in the dining room.

 

Their calmness is only broken when Kelley shows up at their door an hour later with a soccer ball.

 

“Wanna go get some shots in?”

 

“Do you have, you know? Other hobbies?” Jessie teases grabbing her soccer bag and Mal chirps in from the background.

 

“Kelley only has two hobbies, soccer and Emily,”

 

She makes sure to block the door when Kelley lunges at Mal.

 

They only get a few shots in before Jessie feels it. She feels herself slip into a state of ease, knowing what was coming next. Thunder rumbles in the distance and a bolt of lightning cracks the blue sky into two. She hears Kelley and Mal yelp next to her as they quickly grab the cones. They gather up their stuff to run back into Kelley’s car before the storm breaks

 

“Who knew you were such a scaredy-cat O’Hara?” Jessie teases sliding into the backseat with Mal.

 

“Hey to be fair, Pugh’s afraid of thunder too!” Kelley argues pointing her finger at Mal accusingly. Mal rolls her eyes, “Stop arguing like children,”

 

Kelley mutters to herself as she pulls out of the school parking lot and onto the street. Jessie feels Mal relax into her side, she wraps an arm around her protectively, hoping to soothe the other girl’s fears. The icy grey sky restlessly grumbles, soon the rain pours over the land like a roar.

 

Kelley drops them off grudgingly and they run back into the house. They find Elsie upstair facetiming her friends as she throws a pillow at them for trying to enter her room.

 

Mal clutches her chest and acts upset when Elsie slams her door.

 

“Wow, she talks to her friend and suddenly I’m not cool enough,”

 

Jessie rolls her eyes, “Join the club,”

 

Jessie attempts to retreat back into her room to study but Mal threatens to hide her notebooks and flashcards.

 

“Jess, you’re more than ready,” Mal argues tugging her towards the living room. She had set up a bunch of pillows and blankets in front of the tv.

 

“We’re going to have the laziest day in the history of lazy days, and you are going to stop being stressed over finals,” Mal holds up her pinkie waiting for Jessie to interlock their pinkies together.

 

________

 

All throughout the afternoon, the water droplets fell from the sky like they had nothing better to. There’s a laziness about them, as if they can’t be bothered to conform to the will of gravity. She turns her attention away from the window and onto the sleeping girl beside her. Mal had passed out during their third movie, just like she promised not to.

 

Jessie takes her eyes off the movie and lets her head drop onto the pillow. Her head lolls and her lack of sleep catches up to her. Though the movie continues playing and the speaker blares out the sound of Jack Sparrow’s drunken soliloquy, she’s asleep in moments her body relaxes and a breathing evens out.



Chapter Text

Chapter 10

Winter break starts just when Jessie needs it to. The second she finishes her last midterm she feels like collapsing onto her bed and sleeping through a whole week. Mallory breaks up with Grant that same week and a part of Jessie wants to cheer but her heart hurts for her friend. She tries her best to cheer her up by taking her to movies and forcing her to get out of bed but the other girl always seems distant.

 

Mal seems to draw away from Jessie at every turn and instead takes a liking to hanging out with Elsie. Jessie tries not to take it personally, but she does miss her best friend. Jessie experiences her first winter in Colorado and it’s definitely one for the books. Even on the coldest of days of winter the sun is bright in the sky, like a lure baiting her outside. Her dad buys a soccer goal for the backyard and Jessie spends every waking moment in front of it trying not to think about what Mal was up to.

 

Cold licks at her face and creeps under her clothes, spreading across her skin but Jessie stubbornly practices till she can’t even feel her feet anymore. Than she goes inside and curls up on the couch with a cup of tea that her mom shoves into her arms as soon as she walks in. Her loneliness grows steadily until she can feel it swirling around in her chest. Jessie feels her mother’s eyes on her and she looks down at her tea dejectectedly.



“What is it darling?” Jessie feels the dip of the couch as her mom sits down, curling her toes under herself on the couch.

 

Jessie looks up from her tea and into the warm eyes of her mom, “I don’t know what I did wrong,” She admits.

 

“Is this about Mallory?” Her mom asks.

 

Jessie nods and sets down her tea on the coffee table in front of them.

 

“She broke up with Grant last week and I get that she might be sad but she’s shutting me out, I don’t know why,” Jessie voices her frustrations for the first time.

 

Her mom smiles at her sympathetically, “Honey, it sounds like there may be more to the story,”

 

Jessie sighs, “Well she’s more likely to tell Elsie than Me,”

 

Her mom laughs and shakes her head, “Jessica Fleming, are you jealous?”

 

Jessie rolls her eyes, “I don’t do jealous Mom,”

 

Her mom smiles softly at her and brushes away a piece of hair that had fallen in front of her eyes, “I know sweetheart, why don’t you go talk to her I know she’s in the basement working out,”

 

Jessie debates the idea for a second before her mom pushes her off the couch encouragingly.

 

“I’m not letting you out of the basement till you guys talk,” She pretends to threaten.

 

“Okay Okay,” Jessie grumbles as she walks towards the basement.

 

Mal‘s sitting on the bench drinking water when she reaches the bottom of the stairs. She doesn’t know if the other girl stiffens or if it was simply a figment of her imagination.

 

Jessie takes a breath, “Can we talk?” She walks closer to Mal and sits down on a yoga ball.

 

Mal nods silently egging her on.

 

“What have I done wrong?” Jessie asks refusing to meet Mal‘s eyes.

 

Mal stays silent for a moment before Jessie hears her voice cut into the silence.

 

“Absolutely nothing,” she responds a moment later.

 

Jessie shakes her head, “Then why the cold shoulder?”

 

Mal opens her mouth but closes it before she says anything, Jessie’s gaze focuses on the girl in front of her. To Jessie’s surprise, Mal stands up and walks towards her.

 

She looks up at Mal and almost loses her balance on her yoga ball.

 

Mal grabs her shoulders to stabilize her she doesn’t let go and instead her hands trail up to Jessie’s face.


Jessie finds herself holding her breath as Mal gently traces her thumb along Jessie’s cheek.

 

“You’re always so good to me,” Mal starts talking again, “So patient, loving, and I never saw it all along,”

 

Jessie stands up and her breath hitches at how close she is to Mal.

 

“Saw what?” She asks her stare boring into Mallory’s eyes.

 

Mal bites her lips nervously, “How much I like you,”

 

A smile flashes across Jessie’s face,it creates slight dimples and creases that moves her freckles. Even though it was gone quickly, it was still there. She dips her head down unsure of what came next.

 

“Now would be a very good time to tell me I haven’t been reading everything wrong,” Mal laughs nervously.

 

Jessie looks back up, “You haven’t.” She reassures Mal.

 

Jessie moves her head closer to Mal and leans in, so their foreheads were resting together. She closes her eyes and savours the moment.

 

“So you weren’t upset about Grant?” she asks.

“No, I was just trying to sort out my feelings,” Mal admits and Jessie leans in a kisses her warm lips. After a moment she pulls away, her breath shaky.

 

“Thank you,” Mal says as she wraps her arms around Jessie’s neck and begins tracing patterns.

 

Jessie cocks her head to the side, “What for?”

 

Mal smiles, “For being unmistakably you,” she says before leaning in for another kiss.

 

“I wanna do this right,” Jessie says, “Take you on a date, kiss you at the end,”

 

Mal laughs as they sway back and forth, “And then come back and cuddle?”

Jessie smiles, “If you insist,”

 

Mal kisses her on the cheek, “I’ve missed you Jess,” She admits, her voice almost in a whisper.

 

“I’m right here,” She responds, wrapping her arms around Mal‘s waist and pulling her closer.

 

“Right where you should be,” Mal hugs her tightly and nuzzles her face into Jessie’s neck.



Chapter Text

Chapter 11

 

She doesn’t really see Mal around for a few days afterwards since Kelley decides to sweep Jessie away for ‘bro time’. On the third day, they go sledding on the hill beside Kelley’s house and Jessie’s glad that she’s found herself another close friend. 

 

And when Kelley yells, “Snowball fight!” Jessie knew she was about to get pelted with a stack of snowballs.

 

Jessie hides behind the nearest tree her gloved hands in the snow, frantically making a stockpile to retaliate with. 

 

“You’re going down,” Kelley taunts from behind a bush.

 

“Game on sucker!” Jessie yells her hands molding the snowballs carefully.

 

It turns out Kelley’s aim is as lousy as a three year old’s and Jessie takes advantage. She pelts Kelley with snowball after snowball until the snow deep chills her fingers to the point where they no longer wish to bend. A stupid grin plasters itself to her face as she takes a snowball into her hand and whips her arm back to send it flying towards Kelley. When she hears the sound of the snow hitting Kelley’s parka she lets out a whoop and the fight intensifies. 

 

Kelley bombards her with snowballs and Jessie waits till the other girl runs out of ammo before running out into the open and taking Kelley down. They end up back on the ground, both out of breath, the wind howls, blowing snow that make its way on their faces. 

 

“You wanna go get some hot chocolate?” Kelley asks getting up.

 

She sticks her hand out and Jessie takes it, jumping up.

 

“Of course, you gonna invite Sonny?” She teases.

 

Kelley rolls her eyes, “I invited Sonny, Teagan, and Mal,” 

 

Jessie squints her eyes at the freckled girl, “Nice try, I know you just want to hang out with Sonny,”

 

Kelley shakes her head and clutches her chest, “The heart wants what the heart wants Fleming,”

 

Jessie smiles at her friend’s antics, “Come on, let's go before we freeze to death,”

 

________

 

Hot milk, cocoa, sugar, sometimes the most simple things are the best. The rich dark chocolate coats her tongue thickly before flowing down her throat. She closes her eyes and savors the warm feeling making its way through her body, ridding her of the cold.

 

Jessie can feel Mal's eyes studying her curiously, she opens her eyes and smiles at her. Jessie looks up to see Teagan attempting to carry three cups of hot chocolate to their table. Emily shoots up and takes two of the cups and handing one to Kelley.

 

“Everybody good?” Teagan asks scanning the table to make sure everyone received their order. They nod collectively. 

 

They had a weird type of banter, not only were crude insults taken as hard warming compliments but the unthinkable topics they talked would seem weird to outsiders. 


Kelley tells them about a new game she invented called, ‘Beer Soccer’ where you, “Use a soccer ball instead of a ping pong ball,” 

 

Jessie points out that one, the ball wouldn’t fit into the solo cups, and two, the ball would get disgustingly sticky. Jessie’s realizations fail to deter Kelley though, she just shrugs and moves on to brainstorming how to incorporate soccer into other party games. 

 

Jessie finds herself listening contently to her friends’ conversations and she relaxes back into her seat. She feels Mallory’s fingers sliding up her palm to the touch, they were soft and cold as they slide between Jessie’s. 


She sees a small smile slip onto her face and Jessie feels the urge to lean over to kiss Mal. Instead, she stops herself and takes another sip of her hot chocolate. 

 

Conversations flow easily for hours until they realize that the sun had long set over the mountains. And when they part ways, it's with a smile and hearts filled with love.