Every night she checks for mail and deliveries. That little mail corner by the entrance to Thorne Hall, cluttered with random crap people send each other – snacks, manga, newspaper clippings, coursebooks, love letters – that always seem to be such a place to discover hierarchy in the world. See where you’re at.
Every night she kind of hopes for something. A letter from August, mostly. Or from someone else. Hell, she’d even go for a bag of sweets if someone sent it to her, but nobody does.
Sure, it’s not a big deal and she’s never been the social butterfly but with August breaking up with her, she’s beginning to feel alone in a way that she’s not used to. Having him, she has refrained from a few slices of social life here on campus and now several terms have passed already and people around her are deeply rooted in their little groups and big gangs and Jean isn’t.
She takes comfort in football and in working out to be better out on the field, but her team is in Barchester City, not here with her. Even if they were, she hasn’t found most of her teammates to be people she wants to hang out with as friends.
With one exception – Kitty, who’s also living at Thorne Hall since February and who’s a very promising goalie for Barchester Giants. They’re the same age and have started to commute together for games and practices and Jean is thrilled to have someone to talk to about football and their very uncertain future.
Kitty is down to earth and funny to be around and an overall ray of sunshine in an otherwise gloomy social life.
One afternoon, just out of nowhere, Jean catches Vendela and David – Juno’s boyfriend – kissing in Vendela’s room. He’s back on campus to wrap up some final thesis that he’s been late to hand in and for some reason decided to go ahead and snog the girl who now lives in what used to be his room at Thorne Hall.
They’re smiling, looking at each other and smiling and something twists in Jean’s chest at the sight. It’s intimate and they shouldn’t be, not if they’re just fooling around, not if this is the first time.
“What the hell are you doing?” she asks, before she’s had time to consider her approach. But maybe there’s nothing to consider.
“Please,” David says later when Vendela has slipped out of the room and Jean stares at him, for a moment almost seeing August in his face, behind his eyes. “Please don’t tell Juno. It’s… nothing. Truly. It’s just a stupid mistake.”
“I’ve… it’s been a lot of things going on lately.” He pauses. There’s a glint of something very sad in his eyes and for a moment Jean falters in her conviction that she ought to call Juno right away and tell her the truth.
“You can’t hurt her,” Jean tells Vendela over dinner one night. It’s spring, soon it’s going to be the end of the term and everyone will return home to their families and friends and she has no desire to go this year but she will. “Juno is my friend, she’s one of my people. I will destroy you if you hurt her.”
Vendela looks up, frowning. “Destroy me? I swear, I didn’t-”
“David is confused. Or an asshole, I don’t know which one it is and I don’t really care about him and his drama. I care about Juno and you will not make out with her boyfriend.”
They’re both silent for a while, the absurdity of the conversation hanging in the air. Like a little thundercloud.
“We didn’t make out,” Vendela says eventually, her voice slow and soft. Jean knows she’s a good person, a kind person. She doesn’t deserve being destroyed. “It was just a kiss.”
“Still.” Jean puts down her spoon.
“Still,” Vendela agrees, nodding.
For a couple of day after her movie-cliche-scene, threatening Vendela, Jean is convinced she’s going to be shunned by the entire campus now. That everyone will know and avoid the crazy football player up in Thorne Hall. But that doesn’t happen, Vendela doesn’t seem to be the kind of person to gossip about things like that or maybe she’s too ashamed of herself. Either way, things go back to normal.
As normal as they can be for her.
Marcel, a guy downstairs – yes her entire social life is made up of students in her dorm, she doesn’t even try to lie about that fact – even asks her out on a date one night.
She turns him down, instinctively, and then regrets it.
“Good,” he says when she returns, telling him that sure, they can go out and eat “proper food”. “Wanted to ask you for ages but you didn’t seem like you’d say yes.”
When they’re walking to the restaurant she tells him briefly about August. Not too much about August but enough. The basics.
“He sounds like an idiot,” Marcel offers. “If he dumped you, I mean.”
It’s pretty lame and pretty cheap, but it’s exactly what Jean needs to hear at the moment.
They have a nice date, all things considered.
Marcel has no family in Barchester – not much family to speak of at all, he explains – and seems pretty eager to get to know her better which is flattering and soothing now that August has entirely lost interest in her and her life. You don’t need a guy’s approval, she tells herself but that’s the kind of advice that doesn’t stick, not for long.
She doesn’t need it, sure, but she certainly wants approval. Doesn’t everyone?
He gives her a hug when they return to Thorne Hall and Jean feels comfortable with it, with him, but doesn’t want to do anything else beyond this point. Not now, maybe not ever.
“Just send me a text if you feel up to doing something, okay?” Marcel says and she nods, promising that she will.
Sometimes she goes to Martha and Atticus to hang out when she visits her family in Barchester. Her mum and Eric has such a crowded place that Jean often feels like she’s intruding even if everyone assures her they love her weekend visits.
At the Wester’s, there’s space to breathe.
Part of her had hoped once that Atticus could give her some new insights to August and why he had decided to break up with her, offer some new perspective on things, but he doesn’t know anything either.
“He doesn’t chat to me much about girls,” he says and shrugs.
Back in high school August would sometimes joke and say his brother was interested in Jean and Jean had always found it uncomfortable on so many levels and there are moments now, too, certain moments between them when she wonders if he feels something beside pity and friendship for her. His brother’s ex.
In her eyes he’s still a kid. Sure, there’s no wide age gap between them but those two years used to make a big difference and they’ve cemented themselves in her head, around her image of him.
She definitely hopes he has no such feelings for her, she could use a friend and wants him to be just that.
* Atticus keeps wanting to ACR flirt with Jean, she doesn’t seem to want that quite as much. The drama these sims have created during my last play session with them, I swear. 😀