Summary: There are things that Jessica doesn't say.
Notes: I had a Jess plotbunny. Who knew? Much thanks for the beta, as always, to stone_princess, the best BFFE a girl could have! SOMUCHLOVE!!! Um, yis. Title borrowed with apologies from Jason Mraz's Unfold.
Disclaimer: Not mine. So sad.
Jessica met Sam the day he asked her out.
She was standing with some friends after class, discussing their plans for the weekend, and he walked right up to them and introduced himself.
They had no classes together, but she recognized him from around campus. It was hard not to notice a guy that tall, and he was kind of cute in that geeky loner sort of way.
Her friends laughed, and Sam blushed, but didn't break eye contact with her. Jessica wondered if he was a little unbalanced. Most guys didn't walk straight in to a flock of girls to ask one out.
She didn't say, No, thank you. or I have a boyfriend or I have plans like she meant to. Instead she smiled and said, "Sure."
Sam's answering smile made Jessica's heart flutter a little. There was something so pure about it, which sounded lame, even in her head, but there it was.
"Who are you and what have you done with Jessica?" Bridget asked after he walked away. "You don't go out with randoms. What gives?"
Jessica smiled and shrugged. "He's cute, right?"
She didn't say, Because he's fearless.
The first time they had sex, they were in Jessica's childhood bedroom.
She had made plans to go home for the summer, and when she asked Sam what he was doing, he'd shrugged and said, "I don't really have anywhere to be." Jessica had insisted he come with her.
Her parents left town one weekend and Jessica decided to keep Sam in bed the entire time they were gone. The whole weekend was hazy and dreamlike, sweat-slick and the heavy scent of star jasmine wafting in through the open windows.
The thing that would stay with Jessica, though, was the look on Sam's face. That first time, the moment he finally slid into her, all hot and hard, he had this look. This amazed, shocked look of wonderment on his face that made Jessica feel like the most powerful woman on Earth.
She pulled him to her and ran her hands through his hair, stroked his face, and whispered in his ear, "God, baby. You feel so good."
She didn't say, I love you. Not that night.
But Sam did.
Jessica took Sam to Disneyland for his birthday, because he had never been there and that seemed fundamentally wrong to her. They spent the weekend there, and Jessica wished they could stay longer.
Sam was like a little kid, insisting they see and do everything. Every ride, even It's a Small World without a hint of irony.
They rode Space Mountain and Splash Mountain five times each, even though they had the longest lines, and ate so much junk food that Jessica was sure she'd never be able to look at chocolate again without throwing up.
But when Jessica said that they'd have to wait until nighttime to go in the Haunted Mansion, because that's how her family always did it, Sam had balked and flat-out refused to go.
"It's not scary!" Jessica laughed and tugged at his hand. "We can make out."
Sam grinned uncomfortably and said, "Let's go on Splash Mountain again." Then Sleeping Beauty walked by and Sam wrapped his arms around Jessica and said, "You are way hotter than her."
Jessica smiled and let him kiss her. The funny thing about Sam was that he could say the lamest stuff and it still made her feel like the most beautiful, fascinating girl in the world.
"Thank you," Sam said on the ride home. "That was the best birthday of my life."
Jessica didn't say, God, Sam. That breaks my heart, even though it did.
Jessica signed up for an intro to Psychology class, because Bridget was in it, and it was a subject that had always interested her. But in her more honest moments, she could admit that she had an ulterior motive.
"So today's class was really interesting," she told Sam, sitting in his lap and twining her arms around his neck.
"Yeah?" Sam smiled and hugged her waist, because no matter what they were talking about, he was always genuinely interested.
Jessica nodded. "We were talking about family. The way they can affect a child's psychological development, and how--" That was as far as she got before Sam gently moved her off his lap and stood up.
"I just. I mean, it's interesting, right? How we're influenced by our environment."
"Yeah. That's fantastic." Sam's expression was completely closed off.
"Sam." Jessica sighed. "Did you ever think that if you talked about your family, you might--"
"No." Sam ran his hand through his hair and then came back, sat on the coffee table across from Jessica. "Look, Jess. I know that it seems like..." He shook his head. "I can't talk about them. Not now. Maybe not ever."
"Okay," Jessica whispered. She looked down at her hands, absently playing with a hangnail on her thumb.
"I know it seems like I'm keeping things from you. And I guess I am. But it has nothing to do with the way I feel about you, about us." He put his hand over hers and she looked up. "I understand if that's unacceptable. If you want to--"
"No. No, Sam. I get it." She reached out and touched his cheek. "I just want you to know I'm here. If you ever want to talk."
Sam took her hand and kissed it. "Thank you."
She watched him walk away without saying, I'm afraid you're broken, and I won't be able to fix you, even though she was. She didn't want to admit to herself that maybe that was part of the attraction.
After talking about it for months, they finally got an apartment together. Jessica felt like they were playing house. They went out and bought a new bed and sheets, a pink shower curtain, because Sam couldn't tell her no, and matching cell phones on the same plan, so that they didn’t have to get a landline.
The second day of domestic bliss, they got their phones mixed up, and Jessica took Sam's to class with her. When it started to ring, and the name read Dean, she couldn't help herself. She shoved her stuff in her bag and ran out of class as she answered.
There was a pause, and then, "I'm sorry. I must have dialed the wrong number."
"Wait!" She said before he could hang up. "You're calling for Sam, right?"
"I'm-- I accidentally took his phone this morning. We live together. I'm Jessica. His girlfriend." She closed her eyes and wondered if she could sound any more idiotic.
"Hey, Jessica. I'm Sam's brother."
"I know," she said.
"Yeah?" Dean sounded pleased. "So he talks about me?"
Jessica chewed her lip. "Not much," she finally said.
"Right," Dean said. Then, "How's Sammy doing? I mean." There was a long pause, and Jessica wondered if maybe they'd lost their connection. "Is he happy?"
Said so softly that Jessica wasn't sure she'd heard right.
"Yeah," she said. "I think he is."
"Good." Dean cleared his throat. "Well, listen. I wasn't actually expecting to talk to him. He doesn't exactly answer my calls. But I like to call every so often to let him know I'm alive and kickin'."
Jessica swallowed past the unexpected lump in her throat. "If you want, I can erase this from the call log and you can call back."
There was a huff of laughter on the other end. "Yeah. That'd be good."
"I know he can be kind of a pain in the ass. That can't be helped." Another long pause. "Take care of him for me."
Jessica bit her lip until her eyes stopped watering. "I will."
She ended the call and deleted it from the log. When the phone rang two minutes later, she ignored it.
That night, Jessica watched Sam's face when he flipped open his phone and checked his missed calls. She saw the relief that passed over his features before they hardened again and he flipped it closed.
She didn't tell him, Your brother loves you. He already knew, and she couldn't ask, Does it matter?
The only time Jessica ever saw Sam lose his temper was on what she considered the worst day of her life. One of those "everything that can go wrong will" kind of days that had her on the side of the freeway with a flat tire and a dead cell phone at midnight.
By the time she got home, all she wanted to do was curl up in Sam's arms and cry until she fell asleep. All the lights were on in the apartment, and the minute she walked in the door, Sam turned on her, scaring her half to death.
"Where the hell have you been, Jess? I've been trying to call you for hours!"
"My car got a flat," she said, too stunned to say anything else.
"And you didn't think to call? I've been worried sick." He grabbed her upper arms and shook her a little, his grip too tight. "Do you have any idea what could have happened to you?"
"My phone died. Sam, you're hurting me."
He let her go immediately, and she could see him shaking.
"I'm sorry. I'm sorry, Jess. God." He dropped down on the couch and cradled his head in his hands. "I kept thinking. What could happen. I'd never forgive myself." He looked up at her, his expression tortured. "I'm sorry."
"Hey." She reached out and smoothed his hair back from his forehead. Her hands were shaking now, too, and she was mad and frustrated and confused because Sam should have been comforting her, not the other way around. "Let's just go to bed, okay? I'm tired."
They were both awake in bed for hours after that, side by side, but not touching. Sometime around dawn, Jessica gave up and rolled over, curling against Sam's side like she'd wanted to do in the first place and his arms came around her, holding her tight and safe, because Sam would never hurt her.
"No fucking way, Jess," Bridget said as soon as she saw the bruises on Jessica's arms. "You can come stay with me for as long as you need, but you need to get the hell out of that apartment."
"I already told you it's not like that," Jessica said. She knew it looked bad, but she also knew Sam. "He was worried about me."
"Controlling," Bridget said. "Abusive."
"STOP!" Jessica took a deep breath and shook her head. "It's not like that."
"How do you know?" Bridget asked.
"Because I do." She couldn't say, Because I have never seen anyone look so scared in my entire life. Didn't want to think about what that meant, because Sam was the bravest person she knew.
The last time Jessica saw Sam, he was packing a bag so that he could run off with his brother in the middle of the night. And it didn't feel right.
Jessica didn't understand why they couldn't wait until morning. Couldn't understand why, after all this time, Sam was suddenly Mister Family First. She couldn't stop from feeling bitter, even though she'd always wanted Sam to reconcile with his family.
Not like this. It wasn't right like this. Couldn't Sam feel it?
He kissed her and promised he'd be back for his interview on Monday. Then he was gone.
She didn't call him back, didn't beg him to stay, even though she wanted to. Jessica watched Sam leave, and didn't say, Stay with me. I need you. I love you.
Sam was brave and Jessica wanted to be brave for him, so she didn't say, I'm scared, even though she was.
Out of all the things that went unsaid between them, the one she regretted the most, with what little time she had left for regrets before the flames consumed her, was I forgive you, because she knew Sam was never going to forgive himself.