Story Title: Under the Stars (AU)
Chapter 1: Packing ~ Day One
Summary: Modern AU, a camping trip in Colorado ends up being more than originally planned.
Chapter title: Packing ~ Day One
"Sam, No! No way are we making the same mistake again...all of our crap isn't going to fit into my truck!" I huff, while rummaging through the garage of the house we rent. Where the hell is my hiking backpack?
Sam and I have been roommates since freshman year, and now here we are...five years later and I'm finishing my last year of graduate school. Sam sighs at me. "Come on, Jon! If we can fit all our stuff into your truck, then we won't have to take another car. I'll pay for gas."
"The definition of insanity is doing the same thing again and again...and expecting a different result. Take your insanity somewhere else," I laugh, while waving my arms in the air. "There is no way that all of my camping gear, and Gilly's gear, and then your gear will fit in my SUV. We tried it last summer remember?! How do you forget loading the car, only to have to unload it and start over? You keep forgetting...one of us will need to sit in the back seat and wear a seatbelt."
Sam's face falls, "Oh, yeah... I guess Gilly will need an actual seat. This sucks. I just feel bad you have to drive alone, man."
Frowning, I shrug my shoulders, dismissing his concerns. I know Sam is just trying to be nice, he always worries about others before himself even. I sigh with relief, finding my backpack under some fishing gear. Whew!
Sam just doesn't understand, I'm fine with being alone. I'm use to it even. Growing up I always felt like an outsider in my own home.
Besides I'm better than fine. I'm so much better after breaking up with Ygritte a month and a half ago.
A couple of months before that, my girlfriend of a year started dropping hints about marriage.
Soon those hints became conversations about marriage.
After that, conversations became debates.
A little later, the debates became demands for an engagement ring, even telling me her ring size and diamond cut preference of princess.
All of this while I was telling her...I was nowhere near ready to get married. I even told her that I wasn't sure if I would ever want to get married. Ever. Family life is not something that appeals to me. Didn't faze her one bit.
I never misled her. I was honest with her from day one of dating. Ygritte was the one that tried to change the rules.
Then one day she was honest with me.
She was so distressed about my lack of commitment, that there had been an "accident".
I guess falling into bed naked with your high school sweetheart and having sex all weekend long could be considered an accident.
An accident to me is more like spilling your coffee, or dropping your cell phone in the toilet. But what the hell do I know?
I shake my head remembering our last fight...our last anything. Ygritte had just returned from a long weekend in her hometown of Colorado Springs.
The Springs is a little less than a two hour drive from Boulder, where we are both graduate students at University of Colorado. Different departments, thank God. I hope to never see her this coming semester; Ygritte studying in the Leeds School of Business, me in the Integrative Physiology department.
She came straight over to our house and basically told my roommates to leave their home since we needed privacy to talk.
Who does that?
The request was so outrageous and Ygritte is so loud and demanding, that Sam and Jamie decided to hightail it out of there. Sam later telling me that they spent an hour at the bar speculating what her latest problem was. The two front runners were pregnancy or a brain tumor, joking that both would explain her erratic behavior.
Thankfully it was neither.
Ygritte actually thought that confessing about her weekend tryst would motivate me to move forward and 'finally' propose. I asked her if she was high or just insane.
We were over right then and there. The best part? She was mad at me! She literally just had another dude on top of her less than 10 hours earlier...but somehow I was the bad guy. I don't know why I was surprised, sex was something she didn't see as a big deal. She always made it clear that she didn't think sex and feelings had to be intertwined. That is probably why she thought I would just get over her screwing some other guy. Verses I've always been really careful about who I was intimate with, never interested in one night stands.
"Thinking about Ygritte?" Sam chuckles.
"How can you tell?"
Sam starts laughing deeply, "Whenever you think about the breakup you get this goofy smile on your face. Like you just won the damn lottery."
I just laugh and remind him I did.
Out of the corner of my eye I see Sam's watching me closely, deep in thought.
"What?" I finally ask.
"What about that girl you have been crushing on for almost a year?" Sam asks, clearing his throat. "You should ask her out."
Rolling my eyes I shake my head to say no.
"Why not, Jon?" Sam pushes. "She isn't your student anymore! Plus, you are a Teaching Assistant. It's not like you were her actual professor."
"Sam...seriously. Just stop. There are so many reasons why that's not going to happen," I snap, continuing to pack. I hate packing for a camping trip. Loathe it, even. The sooner I'm packed up, the sooner I can get to bed. We're heading out really early tomorrow.
"Go on, list your reasons," Sam urges. "I'd love to hear this. Because you and I both know the truth. You may have been dating Ygritte, but you always had that student in the back of your mind. Your constant brooding was proof you were never happy with Ygritte."
"First off, I'd been brooding long before I even met Ygritte. But fine - here goes! One: she was a student in my class and I just don't go there. Those girls are like vultures, I can't even imagine dating one. No way...not gonna happen."
Sam chuckles remembering the one student that sent me her silk thong through intercampus mail with an invitation to her apartment that night. Sending it to my office... that five graduate assistants share. Opening that gem in front of my peers was a moment I'll never forget. Right up there with turning her down and then having to see her in class three times a week that semester.
Once Sam is done laughing he resumes his pitch, "Life is short my friend. And she will be a senior next year, right?"
"Yeah," I mumble.
"So your teaching assignment next year, it's the lower level Integrative Physiology classes. Unless she failed one of them and needs to repeat it, you won't be her teacher ever again. What's the issue?" Sam continues.
"Of course she didn't fail, she's wicked smart. She got an A in all my classes last year. But...reason two: she's got a boyfriend." I say gruffly while Sam shrugs motioning for me to continue.
"Finally the most important reason, she wasn't into me...like at all," I say. "She was polite and respectful, but never once flirted with me. I had a few students with crushes, some were very sweet and some were incredibly aggressive. It was just obvious I wasn't even on her radar. She's out of my league."
Sam frowns while raising his hands in defeat. Good, I don't want to talk about this anymore.
Sam moves his truck back to the front of the house. It's a two seater, impossible for three of us to ride comfortably in the cabin. Especially for a two hour drive to the Rocky Mountain National Park.
I do a final check of all the gear and supplies I'll need for this big Fourth of July holiday weekend camping trip. I rub my hands together preparing to fit it all into my SUV.
I can admit I am a little OCD...I like things to be a certain way, when possible. Or maybe my stepmother just successfully harped it into me after all those years under her thumb. All the years she treated me like less, while making me the family errand boy.
That is another time I won the damn lottery: when I successfully cut all financial ties with my stepmother. Now that I am no longer dependent on my parents for anything, she is actually much better with me.
I worked my ass off during my undergrad years at CU, and it paid off after a while. Through my relationships with faculty and my academic record, I was offered a teaching graduate assistant position that paid for all of my master's degree and even a stipend for housing and cost of living. The best part is I enjoy teaching, I care about the students.
I push thoughts of my childhood out of my mind now.
That is the past, I have moved forward.
An hour later we're still packing the cars while enjoying pizza and beer. Jamie, who is Sam's friend from high school, just got home from work and still needs to get organized before packing his girlfriend's SUV with their stuff. I'm looking forward to this weekend with my friends. I'll enjoy camping once I'm there, but it is such a pain in the ass to get ready and then set up. But it's worth it.
I cringe remembering that it'll be me alone with three other couples. How fun. At least I'll have my own tent. Ygritte and I were together when we planned this weekend many months ago.
Actually, my friends are pretty awesome. I'd rather be the single, odd man out, then there with the wrong girl on my arm.
We have an awesome group for this weekend's adventure. Sam's longtime girlfriend is Gilly, who is like a sister to me. Jaime's brother, Tyrion, is also coming. Tyrion has a new girlfriend named Shae that will be joining us for the first time. She seems really cool, much better than the last string of girls Tyrion dated. And then Jamie has been dating Brienne for a little under a year. I don't know her that well, but she seems like a cool girl. She is tough as shit, and takes no crap from Jamie.
Sam, Gilly and I graduated with our bachelor's degrees a year ago. Sam is now working on his thesis in psychology while Gilly was beyond done with further education and has been working at a startup company in town. All the others will be starting their senior year this fall.
Sam is a rock star, so organized. He reserved our car-camping sites months ago, the moment the RMNP website opened for summer reservations. He showed me on the online campsite map; we have four different lots that are close, but not too close. Our lots share a large fire pit. The best part is that our pod of lots is the furthest one out, backing up to natural space. Sam outdid himself this time.
As I'm loading my SUV, Sam eyes the gear I laid out on the garage floor. "Jon, how big is the tent you are packing? The six-person one...for only you? I can let you borrow my two-person one."
I'd be miserable in a small tent, plus I need room for my husky, Ghost.
"No, I like my big tent, but thank you." I say firmly.
"Well I guess you aren't taking Ygritte's sleeping bag then? I'm shocked she didn't take it with her." Sam jokes while eying the spare bag.
Ygritte was so pissed when we broke up...that she even packed up some of the snacks she bought from our kitchen. Jamie is still convinced she swiped his full box of Lucky Charms.
"Ha! She probably forgot all about 'her' sleeping bag, or I'm sure she would have taken it. Besides, I paid for it as part of my camping collection. It's not like I bought it as a gift." I say while tossing the spare sleeping bag into the back of the garage. I'll put it away when I get back.
"I'm sorry you are stuck with only couples this weekend," Sam says. "But to be honest, I'm glad you cut Ygritte loose. She wasn't the nicest person, often rude," he ends in a mumble. Nodding, I have nothing to add. Sam hardly speaks ill of anyone, so I know how strongly he must feel.
"Well, she's gone now, it's completely over. I heard she started dating that guy the next week," I say. "Honestly, I'm happy for her. I don't have any hard feelings. I just hope that he can meet all her expectations in life. Princess-cut diamond and all!" I snicker, as Sam spits out his water.
"Part of me feels like I should be worried about you, your woman stepping out on you and all. I then remember you never considered Ygritte as the real thing. Did you ever tell her you loved her? Did you ever love her?"
"Nope. I did care for her of course, I guess at one point I thought it was love," I frown at the memory. "I just realized that she wasn't that person that made me really feel, I have to believe that exists out there!" I finish then losing myself in my own thoughts.
"Come on, enough about Ygritte," I say. The Ygritte topic is draining. "Let's finish this up. I can't believe Jamie hasn't even started loading their car yet. Let's offer to help."
Sam nods as we enter the house to check on him.
As I trudge towards Jamie's room I think about her warm smile and bright eyes. She's beautiful, but it's not about that. The University of Colorado has tons of beautiful girls. There's something about this girl that has captivated me from the moment I met her. She's direct, yet kind, smart, and when she looks at me...it is as though she is staring right into my soul.
Her name is Daenerys, but all her friends call her Dany.
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My concept was originally written as a Divergent story, but I see so many similarities between Jon and Four that I decided to redo this story and make it work for JONERYS. Thank you for reading!
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