Young As We Are Now

When Jess moves to Australia with her Dad, she imagines that it will be as easy to finish her education as when she was in England. However, thanks to a certain blonde teenage musician, it seems that she'll have more on her mind than school. Luke H x OC, vaguely based on their high school careers.

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3. Social Casualty

      Two weeks later, Jess found herself standing beside her Dad's sleek, silver car as they stared up at the building before them. It was long and new, with flawless white walls and a flat, grey roof.

      The river beside it was clear and the fertile lawns stretched on either side. As her father set Jess' suitcase on the ground, he turned towards her. Jess was wearing the Summer uniform, which consisted of a cream blouse, emerald-green blazer, knee-length socks and a grey skirt, and was holding the compulsory school bag.

      The ensemble wasn't particularly attractive, in factthe brunette would have referred to it as hideous if her parent wasn't there, so she was hopeful to find Michael as soon as possible and joke about it with the only friend she had.

      "The letter said that you should find the reception first and collect your timetable etc. You should find your dorm second, but you can unpack later so just leave your case there. Then you can head off to your first class I guess," her father repeated for the tenth time that morning. "Thanks, Dad, but I think I got it," Jess said, struggling to keep her schoolbag on her shoulder as she pulled along the suitcase. "Call me tonight, don't get into trouble, try and make some friends!" he called as she stalked off in search of the reception, waving.

      The teen was glad that she had arrived half an hour before she had expected the rest of the students to get to school. There were very little people around, and those that were - hurrying teachers, smoking students or depressed staff - paid the new girl no attention. This was both a gift and a curse as Jess, an introverted girl who was content with a small, close-knit group of friends, didn't like talking to people, but her abrupt change in surroundings was close to forcing her to ask someone for help.

      "Need some help?" came a voice from behind her and Jess turned to find the Kiwi boy, who had been talking to 'Luke Hemmings' at the beach, standing before her, grinning. "Um, yes, actually," she replied, overly aware of her English accent, "I'm looking for the reception office?" "I can show you the way, if you like," he answered, "What's your name?" "Jessica Fields, my friends call me Jess. I'm from London but-" "Yeah," he laughed, "I could tell from your Pommy accent. You're new, then?" "P-pommy? What's that?" "It means British. You probably shoulda looked up some Aussie slang before you moved here.

       Where are you living now? Up in the Big Smoke?" he smirked at her once again baffled expression. "Um... I'm living in Sydney, near the beach... What's your name, by the way?" "Calum Hood, nice to meet ya, Jess," he introduced, revealing one of his hands from its hiding place in his blazer pocket. "Likewise," Jess shook his hand gingerly, "You know, I have met other Australians before you and I get the feeling you're going a bit overboard on purpose." "Well, you'd probably be right, on that front," Calum admitted, his mischievous smile never fading as he continued to show her the way to the office, dropping her off at the door.

      After collecting a map of the campus, her timetable and signing a few documents for the woman at the front desk, Jess remembered what Michael had said about her new 'friend'. But the real playboy is his friend, Calum. Great, so he was almost definitely hitting on her. Or maybe not... It sure didn't sound more than being friendly.

      By the time she had located her dorm room, which she was pleasantly surprised that she didn't have to share, the school was letting in a steady flow of teens and kids, all dressed similarly, if not exactly like herself and Calum. Fortunately, as he was the only face Jess knew, Michael stood out from the loud and fast crowd and she was relieved to see that he was no longer sporting his dyed hair. Trying desperately to avoid contact with any of the strangers around her, Jess raced towards him, only to immediately become lost once again. By the time she had removed herself from the swarms, the brunette saw that her friend had quickly become encased in a group of his own, which he apparently had become the centre of.

       She approached the huddle gingerly, uncertain as to whether he would even want her there, but was shocked by what she heard. "-ging out with those kids from Richmond High School, no wonder you don't bother with anything here," one girl sniggered, throwing a blonde braid behind her shoulder. "Yeah, and what's with your hair? I saw it over the summer and I can't say that green is the best colour on you, not that blonde is much better," another cackled. "No one even knows why you bother coming back every year. You obviously prefer Richmond and it's not like anyone here wants to be your friend," a boy with spiky black hair sneered.

      "Hey! Leave him alone!" Jess shouted suddenly and she was pleased to see the astonishment on their faces as the four bullies turned. The eldest, who had yet to say a word, was the first to recover. "And who are you?" he glowered, his voice sharp and quick. "I know!" the blonde girl giggled, "She's the new girl: Jessica Fields. My dad saw her name on the registry." "So you haven't even been here a day and you're already making enemies?" the spiky haired brute sniggered. "Actually," Jess countered testily, "I was under the impression that I was making a friend." At this, she caught Michael's eye. He looked slightly bored at his classmates' crude tauntings but grinned as their pupils met. "Making friends with him?" the other girl cackled. Her hair was short and a fairly dull shade of brown that matched her eyes perfectly, "If Michael Clifford is your first choice then I'd hate to see the rest of your list, Fields.

      Are you a Richmond supporter, too?" "I don't know what or who Richmond is, ok? All I know is that if you have to resort to insults and mockery to start your year, you probably don't have the best home life." The bullies 'oo'ed and began to laugh coldly as Michael stepped out of their ring and gently grabbed Jess' wrist, leading her away from the group and towards their homeroom. "Hey, are you ok?" she asked, trying to slow him by tugging on his sleeve. "I'm fine, but you won't be." "Why not?" Jess queried, utterly bemused. "Those four are...

      They're known for spreading rumors and ruining people's lives. I can handle them beecuase I have been handling them for years, but now they'll turn on you," Michael sighed. "Come on, Mikey, it can't be that bad."

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