Music in the Forest

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MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn

Betsey shook her head faintly, taking a moment to remember how to breathe properly. Only after swallowing the lump in her throat did she inhale quietly and exhale just as quietly. She wasn't in a crowd, she wasn't being screamed at, she wasn't locked in some dark small space or being hurt in general. Betsey was outside, sitting with Joss, who held her close, she was safe. All she had to do was remember that and calm down.
"No," croaked Betsey as she moped away the remaining hot tears on her cheeks with the sleeve of her sweater. The blur in her blue eyes had faded along with the tears that had came. With her clear vision returned, she was able to see that it had began snowing lightly. Some flakes remained while others melted as soon as they hit the landed.
A small and soft sigh escaped her mouth as Betsey nestled her head against Joss's. "No, you won't." Again, she squeezed him tightly for minute as she closed her eyes. He needed to calm down, she needed to make him relax. The times she had seen Joss upset, someone had gotten hurt badly. "Because then you'd go to prison and we'd never see each other again." And that would be the most upsetting thing of all.
 

lxngdon

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JASPER CARMICHAEL

Joss had never cared about jail before his stint in juvie, and even after that, the prospect of being arrested had never been more than a soft linger in the back of his mind as he went about his illegal activities. But in this moment, going to jail was what he wanted the least, simply because Betsey expressed that it would make her sad if he got into trouble.​
He inhaled deeply into her shoulder, attempting to regain some semblance of calm. "I don't want you staying there anymore, then," he whispered. "At least not for a while." She would get into trouble for her outburst, and he highly doubted Joan had changed from the cruel, abusive person Betsey had described her to be in the past.​
"I can't have you at my house. Please don't ask why." Joss took another deep breath to try and calm down. "But Tessa lives alone and she has a room in her apartment. I can just ask and she'll let you stay, and I can come and sleep over every night for as long as you need me to."
Joss held her close, as if he was trying to make up for her past suffering with his current affection. "I'm not going to make you do anything you don't want to do, just ... I don't know if I'll be able to go about my daily life knowing you're emotionally unsafe in your home."
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn
"Okay." Murmured Betsey hoarsely. It wasn't something that she had to think over for long not when she knew there was absolutely nothing good waiting for her back at her own home. Her mother would be livid and Betsey wasn't certain she could take another vicious scolding without breaking down and panicking, which would only make it worse. "Okay." Annabeth repeated, this time a little louder so her words would be heard clearly.
When things had gotten unbearably bad between herself and Joan, or the woman locked her outside of the house, Betsey had stayed with Lana until it passed over. But Lana had been gone for two years now, so she had reclined to her original place, the shed. She had even hidden a sleeping bag there just in case, but at the moment, Betsey couldn't even bear the thought of sleeping on the concrete floor of the musty, cramped and cold shed in their backyard.
The mere thought of it made her want to shrink. Thus, Betsey was immediately sold on staying in an actually room yet alone that she may have the comfort of Joss with her. So, she didn't ask him why his place was off limits despite it stimulating confusion and curiosity in her.
"She won't mind?" It was one thing she felt the need to ask. If anything, Betsey did not want to burden the girl. "I don't want to intrude."
 

lxngdon

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Joss let out an audible sigh when Betsey agreed to leave the house. He didn't know what he would have done if she had refused his offer. He did know for a fact, however, that he wouldn't have been able to sleep at all. Not while he was sick with worry for her.​
"It'll be fine -- she's done this before, for other people." Including himself, when it got real bad at home. Joss stood up and began to walk with her back to that hell of a house, not looking forward to this at all, but knowing it was necessary in its entirety. "We'll get you some clothes and your things -- your cat -- and I'll call Wyatt so he can come pick us up."
As soon as they walked through the front door, Joss pushed past Betsey's family members and chaperoned her up the stairs. Once they were in her bedroom, he helped her bring out some bags and suitcases with his phone wedged between his jaw and his shoulder, talking to Wyatt. "Hey ... can you come to Betsey's and pick us up ... are you with Tessa? Tell her we need her spare room ... yeah, shit's been happening for a while and I want her out ... okay ... thanks man, I owe you one."
And with that, Joss hung up and began to help her pack.​
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn

Although Betsey had been trembling upon reentering the very house she grew up in, it helped to no longer feel the curious gazes from her family members and the livid look her mother look her mother silently shot her. Betsey remained silent as she packed her bags with pairs of folded clothes, toiletries, other necessities, what she valued such as her art book and very few leisure items. It was easier to focus on just filling her bags than thinking about how her parents would react, would they even care?
She could hear them quietly arguing about one thing or another at the foot of the stairs. Nothing new, but serious nonetheless.
With some finality, Annabeth zipped up her last bag and exhaled. "Minka," She gestured to the kitten on the bed, who had been watching them without a care in the world, to come to her. And when it did come, she place it in the small carrier, closed it and put its strap over her shoulder. "That's it ... that's it," gulped Betsey as she stood back on my feet.
There was a gently knock on her door, and Betsey stiffened before the new arrived opened it in full and leaned against the frame. Joan folded her arms underneath her chest, examining the bags and snorting. "Your father doesn't want you to go, yet alone with this loser. But I'm not going to stop you," she said, brushing back strands of her gold blonde hair, it was the one and only attribute she had inherited from the woman. "You're a rather ungrateful little bitch, so, good riddance, I say." She glared, clearly still furious about her outburst earlier. "If you do come back, I promise it won't be as easy to return as it was to leave."
With that said, Joan stepped out of the way of the doorway and created a path for them. Betsey, not knowing what else to say, only picked up her things and grabbed Joss's arm to pull him along with her out the door.
 

lxngdon

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It took Joss all of his strength to avoid lashing out at Joan when she made her presence known. Joss had many things he'd like to say to this woman, absolutely none of them good. But he couldn't risk upsetting Betsey, or getting himself into an altercation that could result in him getting in trouble. So, he stood there and stomached everything she said to her own daughter, until Betsey indicated that she wanted to leave.​
Joss picked up the last few bags, carried them in his arms, and followed Betsey out. But before he left, he stopped next to Joan, gave her the absolutely filthiest look he could muster, and spat on her shoes. Then he followed Betsey downstairs and into the cool winter air, where Wyatt was waiting for them in his Mercedes.​
Tessa's home wasn't really that flashy or extravagant. It was a modest one-storey house with two bedrooms, a single bathroom, a laundry and a living and kitchen area. Tessa only lived alone because she was eighteen and had thus moved out of her abusive home. It had been a struggle for her to even get the house, but now that she had it, she was willing to open it up to anyone who may need it.​
Tessa and Wyatt both helped Joss and Betsey carry the latter's things into the spare room, which was pretty bare except for a bed and a small end table. Then they left the couple alone for a moment, and Joss took advantage of the privacy to lean in to Betsey and give her a soft and dear kiss to the lips.​
"You're safe here," he promised. "She can't touch you now."
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn
Betsey attempted to smile weakly, not because she felt the need to pretend she was was perfectly fine and happy, but because she was content. Joan couldn't reach her? It felt like such a odd and unfathomable concept to Betsey, and yet it was possible, it was real and Betsey was safe. So, of course she was content, also nervous and a maybe a lot more scared than she should have been, but smiling nonetheless.
"Thank you," Bestey grabbed his hands, feeling anchored with him there. Had Jasper not asked her to go, she would have marched silently back feigning composure until Joan broke her again. She had grinned and bore it for so long with no one else to tell, to afraid to to speak to anyone, that Annabeth was sure there was nothing that could be done about it. More so, Betsey believed that she deserved it.
Stepping onto her toes she returned his kiss to the mouth just as tenderly before falling back on her heels. "You don't have to stay every night." Betsey chewed the corner of her bottom lip. She wanted it more than anything else, but it wasn't fair to him or his dad. "But - but if you could stay tonight I would really appreciate that."
 

lxngdon

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JASPER CARMICHAEL

"Of course," Joss murmured. "I'll stay as long as you need me to." It wasn't like he had anywhere to be anyway. He could disappear for days and his father wouldn't even notice. The only reason he hadn't moved into Tessa's spare bedroom himself was that he couldn't leave his father forever. No, he owed it to his mother to see this shit through.​
Joss spent Christmas afternoon helping Betsey pack her clothes away, and set things up so she could have a more comfortable living space for however long she would be staying there for. That night for dinner, he pooled out some of his money and got pizza for himself and all his friends. They ate it in Tessa's living room, watching TV and honestly enjoying one of the most pleasant Christmases Joss had experienced in a while.​
Wyatt left at about eight thirty, and Tessa went to bed. Joss went into Betsey's new bedroom with her, shrugged off his shoes and jeans to leave him in his boxers and undershirt, and climbed into the small, single bed with his girlfriend. He laid on his back with her tiny frame atop him, holding her close and rubbing her back as she dozed off.​
Joss had fucked up a lot over the course of his life. But he knew, watching her angelic face as she finally slipped into a calm and quiet sleep, that he had not made a mistake in removing Annabeth from that vile and disgusting home.​
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn

It had only been a few days since Christmas and Betsey was still settling in her new room at Tessa's. She had spent them quietly, gaining some sense of comfort and composure and scrolling through her text messages. While it was relieving to know her mother didn't try to contact her once, it was also saddening because it truly meant she didn't care even a little. The only people who had tried contacting her was her father, asking about her well being and whereabouts to which she answered vaguely and Lana.
Her closest and best friend sending a message in all caps with way too many exclamation points announcing that she was in town and they had to meet. And of course to bring the boyfriend. Betsey was literally bouncing with joy after reading the text.
Since Joss was still around, Betsey immediately told him, so excitable her words were almost intelligible with how fast she spoke. Betsey had quickly dressed out of her pajamas that she had been loitering around in for a while into a simple outfit of skinny jeans and and a long cream sweater that hugged her body perfectly.
They were to meet outside of a diner that most of the teenager of Casselbrook High School hung out in. Betsey had spotted her instantly in her mini blue jean skit, black femme fatale crop top sweater, black stockings and heels.
Lana Cadwell an beautiful girl who couldn't help but ooze sexuality. When she attended Casselbrook she was popular among almost any group, it was no wonder why. She was fun, adventurous, eccentric and assertive. And for some reason beyond Betsey's comprehension she chose to hang out with the girl who was the opposite of her, but they were thicker than blood.
"Fuck, fuck, it's cold." Lana hissed, rubbing her bare thighs and knees together, hopping a little.
Annabeth promptly removed her coat and tied it around Lana's waist to cover her bare olive toned skin. "You are wearing a mini skirt. Why aren't you wearing leggings?"
"It doesn't go with the outfit, babe." She grinned sweetly before pulling Annabeth into a tight hug, they were both around the same height but couldn't be more different. "Oh my god, I didn't think it was possible for you to get any prettier. Keep getting prettier and you'll ascend frombeing an angel into a goddess." She said as pinched her cheek.
"Stop it ... please." Betsey blushed furiously. It was worse to hear such blasphemous compliments from a person who was clearly better looking. "This is Joss." She pulled away Lana's hand from her face and took Joss's hand, hoping to direct the humiliating attention away from herself.
Lana smiled proudly at Betsey's red face and only looked away to examine the third member to their party. A perfectly arched eyebrow raised. "Wait, aren't you that drug dealer dude?"
 

lxngdon

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JASPER CARMICHAEL

In the following days, the only time Joss left Tessa's house was to go to his own home and collect some things. He packed a bag with some clothes, his musical instruments, some important items and all of his drugs, and then brought it all over to Tessa's place so he could stay with Betsey for an indefinite amount of time. His dad wasn't around when he was there, but he left a note. Not that he would really care where Joss was anyway.​
When Betsey announced that her friend Lana was in town, Joss happily got dressed to come down to the diner to meet her. He wanted to get to know the person Betsey seemed to consider her only friend, and to thank her for being there for the young lady he cared so much for when he wasn't there to do it. Of course he couldn't blame himself for what had happened to Betsey before they had even met. But that didn't change the fact that he was glad that Betsey had had someone to turn to during those particularly dark times of her life.​
When he was actually introduced to Lana, though, he was caught off guard by her forwardness. He hadn't been expecting her to be so straight with him at all, and quite honestly he didn't know what to say. Mainly because she was absolutely right, and he knew that he needed to impress this girl if he wanted to stay in Betsey's good books.​
"Uh ... yeah, I guess that's me," he chuckled awkwardly. Not a good start. But he wasn't going to lie either. "It's nice to meet you."
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn

"And you bought them." Betsey added, neither frowning nor smiling. It was no secret of Betsey's that she disapproved and even held an aversion for the illegal substances that both the two most important people in her life dabbled in. Though, it was obvious that one did more than the other and while it did worry her she'd rather not have this encounter go bitter. Christmas day was still fresh in her heart.
"Only making an observation, Jesus. I'll leave it be, for now." Lana rolled her eyes, holding her hands up in defense to appease the blonde girl. "It's nice to meet you too." She hesitated but offered Joss a genuine smile. She did come off as rather abrasive when she always spoke her mind, but that also meant when she said something, she generally meant it. "I'm Lana."
With the two officially introduced, Betsey's slightly tensed shoulders slumped and she moved to open the door to the diner for them to enter. Inside the diner was warm, but Betsey allowed Lana to keep her coat even as they slid into an empty booth. Lana sat across from the couple, her elbows on the table and her chin resting against the palm of her hand as she not-so-subtly examined Joss.
Quietly, Betsey flipped through the menu the waitress had handed them all one each before Lana spoke up again. "Well, you are attractive, I'll admit. I heard so much about you, enough to make me puke."
 

lxngdon

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"Uh ... thank you?
Joss flushed a little when Lana said that she had heard a lot about him. It just hadn't really crossed his mind that Betsey would speak about him, because in his opinion, he really wasn't much to write home about. He certainly considered a lot of people to be less desirable. But at the same time, he was dangerous, he was toxic, he was a drug dealer as Lana had so nicely pointed out, and he was just a fucking mess. What traits did he have that could possibly outweigh all that crap?​
"You talk about me?" Joss asked with a somewhat nervous chuckle. He doubted that Betsey had said anything bad about him ... since they started properly dating. He had a feeling that his girlfriend would have almost definitely told her best friend about all the shit he had pulled between their first hookup and the solidification of their relationship.​
"... All good things, I hope?"
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn
Annabeth thanked the stars above that Lana didn't go into detail about the things that were said between them over the computer and phone. Betsey didn't put it against the other girl to blurt it out, but it was too embarrassing to repeat. Simply thinking about it made her face warm, her cheeks becoming a rosy red color. But then she quickly saw that Joss himself was a bit flushed too and she had to wonder did she ever tell him those things.
"I ... um just told her you have really nice hands, I like your hands and eyes and hair and your smile is really striking." She traced her own mouth with a single finger to make smile on her face. "Your voice is lovely and you're really sweet."
Lana rolled her eyes, and thanked the waitress when she returned with their respective drinks. "I'm glad you shortened it considerably."
"Of course, I may have said one or two bad things but that was because I thought you were being really awful at the time." Betsey all but mumbled, confirming his suspicions.
"Like when she swiped her v-card with you Halloween night and you acted like a total asshat the day after." Lana to grumbled herself and took sip of her soda. She only paused when Betsey cover the half of her face siding Joss to shoot her a look to clearly indicate she had said something wrong. "But that is all in the past. What matters is how you treat her now." Lana quickly added, because it was true and she was curious as to how well he'd care for her.
 
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lxngdon

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JASPER CARMICHAEL
Joss ... didn't know what to say to that, mainly because he knew that Lana was absolutely right. The way that he had treated Betsey after Halloween was absolutely appalling. If he could take it all back, he absolutely would have. Even if he had felt he had been justified in refusing a relationship, he had not been justified in flagrantly consorting with other girls when he knew it was going to hurt her.​
"I'm sorry," he said to her for perhaps the hundredth time. He took an awkward sip of his root beer float and wished he wasn't the person he was in that moment. If Joss could change himself for the beautiful girl beside him, he absolutely would. But he genuinely believed that he was too broken to be fixed.​
After a while the waitress came back and they ordered their actual food. Then suddenly Joss couldn't hold back anymore. "Look, I'm really sorry I hurt her, and I know I don't deserve her," he said to Lana pleadingly. "But I would rather die than hurt her again. I never even wanted to hurt her in the first place, I thought I was doing the right thing by keeping her away from me. But now, I want nothing more than to protect her from anything that can cause her harm. Because she means the world to me."
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn

Lana, usually so sharp-witter, faltered. She hesitated to respond to his proclamation that appeared to be honest and therefore from the heart. Quietly, she stirred her iced coke with her straw as she so obviously contemplated on his words while staring at Joss. Annabeth herself was slightly speechless for a moment, she had heard the first half before, but not the second. It was no question Joss had issues, anyone could see that and Lana very much.
As odd as it may be to outsiders, Betsey was more concerned with her best friend's approval and opinion of her boyfriend than her own parents. They were in fact the two people she was closest to and cared about the most. So, she pushed away her chocolate shake for a moment and breathed, trying not to overthink anything.
"Bien," Lana started with a deep sigh. "If you mean that, I'll hold you to it. Otherwise, I will come back and fucking kill you." She glared at him briefly before her face softened. "No offence, but you're not exactly prince charming and I know I can be super protective but with guys like Casey Baxter around her can you blame me?"
"He almost broke his nose." Betsey frowned, remembering the fight.
"I wish you actually did." Lana smiled.
 

lxngdon

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JASPER CARMICHAEL

Jasper waited with baited breath for Lana’s response. When she gave it, he let out an audible sigh of relief. It meant the world to him for the best friend of the girl that he cared so much for to give him her approval.​

“Oh, believe me, if I hadn’t been stopped I would have.” Joss said it seriously, but he had a soft smile on his face. He took a glance at Betsey — beautiful, sweet, amazing, wonderful Betsey — and he felt a warm and tingly feeling in his stomach.​

He loved her. He realised that sitting in that diner and looking at the beam of sunshine that was Annabeth Fawn. He loved her, and he wanted to tell her that. But he needed to find the right way to do so. Perhaps he could put it in a song? Or perhaps he could just say it ...​

Whatever the method, he would tell her soon that he loved and adored her, and that he would do anything to ensure her eternal happiness.​
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn

December was all but over and it had been considerably calm and happy after Christmas day, something that oddly put Betsey on edge. It was too quiet, more quiet than what she was used to. When she returned to Tessa's after leaving, there was no one there to belittle her, make condescending comments about her, order her around or simply push her into panicking. If it wasn't for the fact that there were others around, keeping her from being alone with her own horrid thoughts, she would have panicked on her own without her mother's help.
Soon enough, Betsey had found some stability after Lana left. It had only been a week or so and she still missed the girl so much. Fortunately, she was able to find comfort in the arms of Joss who she was very pleased to spend more time without having to worry about the night tearing them apart. Betsey was happy, too happy, she couldn't shake the feeling that it wouldn't last long. She had never been happy for this long and long time.
Currently, Betsey sat on the bottom of the bleachers, in front of the track that she ran on one too many times before, with her sketchbook in hand. The book was a bit of a mess that she had fixed the best she could after the damage that her bully had done to it. It was still perfectly usable, so she sketched what she saw, the field, the people on it, Joss.
Annabeth was getting really good at drawing Jasper Carmichael.
 

lxngdon

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JASPER CARMICHAEL

“...Joss?”

Joss looked up in surprise. He had been resting and relaxing on the bleachers, laying on his back with his hands under his head. He had just been enjoying the crisp air and the sound of Betsey’s pencil scratching against the paper when a voice he vaguely recognised broke the relative silence.​

He looked up at the girl and frowned for a few moments, not recognising her at first. She was a beautiful girl with long golden hair, sparkly green eyes and a slightly thicker figure. She wasn’t overweight by any means, but her extra pounds went to all the right places — thighs, breasts, butt. She was pale, though, judging by her facial expression that could be to do with fear rather than pigment.​

She was wearing a loose and flown grey top over black skinny jeans and a pink jean jacket, and her hand was gently rested on her belly. “...Hey. Do you remember me?”

“I...”

“It’s okay,” she said, holding up her hand to reassure him. “I don’t expect you to. We were pretty drunk that night.” She chuckled nervously and looked over at Betsey. “I think he called you when he was with me, at the start of December? I’m so sorry about that. I’m Sarah, by the way.”

And suddenly Joss remembered — the girl he had slept with that night he had drunk called Betsey. His eyes widened and he looked at his girlfriend nervously. But before he could say anything, Sarah started to speak again.​

“I won’t take too much of your time, I just came over to tell you something.” She took a deep, nervous, shaky breath. “I ... I’m pregnant, and ... well, you’re the only person I’ve ever been with, so it has to be yours.”

Joss’s eyes widened and he felt his stomach drop to the ground. He sat up straight and looked at her with an expression of disbelief, fear and shock. But she didn’t give him enough time to even process her words before she continued.​

“I don’t expect you to do anything,” she said softly, clearly scared and on the verge of tears. “You ... you didn’t sign up for this. I didn’t either, but I decided to keep the baby and my parents are going to help me but we know next to nothing about each other, and I know you’re dating Betsey so I don’t expect you to just leave her to help me. I ... I’d completely understand if you didn’t want anything to do with them at all.”

She looked down at her belly with a couple of tears trickling down her cheeks. Joss looked too and noticed that her stomach was sticking out ever so slightly, but he had just assumed it was because of her slight chubbiness. Now he knew that there was a baby in there, and suddenly that was all he could see.​

“I - I - I just thought I would come and tell you, because you deserved to know.” Sarah pulled her jacket closed around her stomach and looked Betsey directly in the eyes. “I’m so sorry,” she said, sniffling and reaching up to wipe off her own tears. “I - I’ll see you both later.”

Then she turned and walked off. Joss heard her burst into sobs as she retreated, but he made no move to follow her. He just stared at the grass with a look of complete shock and panic in his eyes, unable to process what he had just been told, and completely and utterly terrified.​
 

MaryGold

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Annabeth Fawn

Just like that, whatever peace that had been felt in the moment was broken in just a few minutes. And by what? A baby. Annabeth loved children and babies, they were innocent and usually so sweet. She had always imagined that she'd eventually marry and have a few of her own with the promise of raising them completely unlike how her mother raised her. What she did not imagine was that her boyfriend would get some other girl pregnant in high school.
Betsey was frozen, going through a mix of emotions. Shock, fear, sadness, anger, and she was on the verge of panicking. But she was doing the best she could to push it away even as her stomach churned. She wanted it to be a lie or joke, but Sarah's tears were very real. Annabeth herself wanted to cry or kick something.
Swallowing hard, Annabeth closed her sketchbook and shoved it back into her bag. More than anything, she wanted to walk away and not look at Joss. Betsey wanted so bad to work through her own messy and hurt feelings before saying anything to Joss, but right now, she knew she couldn't leave him alone. He looked absolutely terrified.
"Joss .." Betsey whispered, unable to speak any louder. She dug her nails into the palms of her hands, the pain was ironically keeping her from crying or breaking down. "It'll be okay. I know it will." Breathed Betsey. She meant it, somehow it would be okay, at least for him and Sarah. Her parents said they would even help. "What are you going to do?"
 
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lxngdon

a mountain biking vampire witch from the future
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JASPER CARMICHAEL
Joss's head was swimming, and a thousand thoughts were circulating around in his brain, leaving him no way in which to order them or deal with them at all. Sarah was pregnant. Sarah Greenvale, a girl he knew by name and body only, was pregnant with his child. In eight or less months, she was going to be giving birth to a baby that was half his. He was going to be a father.​
Joss didn't know how to be a father, and he did not have a good example of what a father should be like. He had no idea what to do or how to raise a baby or even how to prepare, and he couldn't exactly just waltz up to Beck Carmichael and ask him how to take care of an infant.​
But the only thing Joss knew for certain was that he was not going to leave Sarah alone during this. He was with Betsey -- that wasn't going to change. But he would do whatever he could to make sure that his child was okay. Because Joss had seen enough people, himself included, become fucked up due to the lack of a positive father figure. And he would be damned if he let that happen to his own flesh and blood.​

Betsey spoke, and Joss was effectively snapped out of his thoughts. He looked at her and he agonised over how hurt she looked. He couldn't begin to imagine what she was feeling, or how mad she was in that moment.​
Without hesitation, Joss leaned forward and wrapped her in a tight hug. "I love you," he said. And his voice had never been filled with such certainty and conviction.​
"I fucking love you, Annabeth Fawn, and I am so, so sorry for all the pain I've put you through. All I've ever wanted to do from the moment I met you was keep you safe from all the bullshit in my life -- I failed that, but it was the best thing that's ever happened to me, because you are the best thing that has ever happened to me. You're the only pure thing I have in my life right now. You're the only thing I have that keeps me going, and I would rather be set on fire than face losing you."
Joss took in a deep, shaky breath. "But ... I can't just leave this alone, y'know? I love you so much, but ... if I left her alone, with a baby that ... that was mine ... my mother wouldn't want that." Joss's voice broke. "My mother would never forgive me, and neither would my sister. So I have to be involved. But I don't want to lose you."