So I started writing this with a pretty good idea of where I wanted to go with it and about halfway through the porch part this story started to basically write itself. I have no idea where it went, especially at the end. It's good, I guess, but really wierd. Jake's OOC but he had to be to fit the song. Oh yeah that's Epiphany by Staind. Amazing song, go listen if you've never heard it. Anyway enjoy. Riv


He sat on her front steps, head cradled in his hands. Sam could see him as she loped up to the bridge. When he didn't look up as she crossed it she began to worry. It wasn't like Jake to ignore his surroundings. Jumping down from Ace she led him into the barn and quickly unsaddled and brushed him before putting him in his stall. Stepping back out of the barn she saw that Jake hadn't moved. Sighing, Sam went over.

"Jake?"

He didn't move. Unsure, she sat down next to him. She noticed his breathing was ragged, as if he'd been crying, but that couldn't be; Jake Ely never cried. Still, she couldn't suppress the need to place a gentle hand on his back. That was when she noticed his shoulders were, in fact, shaking.

"Jake what's wrong?" she asked him, moving her hand in circles across his back.

He lifted his head and Sam had to hold back from hugging him for his face was streaked with tear stains, his eyes red and hurt.

"Sam?"

Your words to me just a whisper
Your face is so unclear

"I'm here Jake," she told him, bringing her hand up to wipe away a tear but he didn't seem to hear her.

His eyes had clouded over and any attention he may have been paying her was gone. She'd called them mustang eyes for as long as she could remember, the spark in them unmatched. Today Sam couldn't find it and that above all else told her this was more than she had thought. She didn't say anything, she knew he wouldn't be able to hear.

I try to pay attention
Your words just disappear

"Oh Jake," she murmured when his shoulders shook as he tried to choke down sobs.

Leaning forward she embraced her friend. When he tried to pull away she tightened her grip on him, rubbing her hand across his back. Never had she seen her friend act like this, not even close. Whatever was bothering him had to be something big.

"I'm sorry Sam," he mumbled into her shoulder and for a moment she thought she was hearing things.

"For what?"

He shook his head, pulled out of Sam's grasp and stood up. Pulling the tie in his hair tighter, Jake grabbed his seaston and carefully placed it on his head. It was only then Sam noticed he hadn't been wearing, which was why he seemed weaker then he really was. Jake was never without his hat.

"Jake tell me what's wrong," she begged him as she stood up.

He fixed her with a look she couldn't decipher. His eyes were red, his cheeks tear stained.

"Nothing," he replied curtly before walking to the barn.

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said

Rubbing her eyes in frustration Sam took a deep breath and followed Jake. The barn was lit with mid-afternoon sun and that was it. The scent of horses and hay washed over Sam, a comforting blanket in her worry. She had seen Witch out in the pasture so she could only guess Jake was in the tack room getting his saddle but when she didn't find him there she knew exactly where he was. He had always hidden in the hay loft when they were littler, whether it was to win at hide and seek or to just give her the slip. It hadn't taken her but a few games and some guessing to figure out where he always was, though, so he soon gave up hiding there. As she climbed the ladder the corner of her of her mouth lifted at the thought of the past. Sure enough, when she reached the top she saw him sitting in a corner, legs bent, arms resting on them, staring off into space. Quietly, Sam approached her childhood friend. When he didn't say anything to her she sat next to him. Not knowing what to do Sam rested her head on his shoulder, hopping to get his attention. She was shocked when he rested his head on her's. They sat in silence for a while, Sam knowing that this may very well get as close to helping as she could.

So I speak to you in riddles
'Cause my words get in my way.

Jake sighed. Reaching out Sam placed her hand on his arm.

"I just don't know Sam."

"Know what?" She asked him softly.

"For so long I've hidden it but now I just don't know," he whispered, before sitting up.

Lifting her head from his shoulder, Sam looked at him, expecting his head to be turned away but instead found herself looking into his dark brown eyes. There she found more than just confusion. She found pain, loss, doubt, worry, fear, and most of all insecurity. Unable to help herself she ran her hand across his cheek. His eyes closed and sighed again.

I smoke the whole thing to my head
And feel it wash away

"What is it you've hidden?" she asked softly as she brushed a few strands of his black hair from his forehead.

He opened his eyes and stared into her's, seemingly searching for something.

"Everything Sam and I can't take it anymore," he told her before turning away. "It's killing me."

He mumbled the last part so she could barley hear it.

'Cause I can't take anymore of this,
I wanna come apart,

He stood and went to the ladder.

"Jake wait," Sam called as she stood, determined not to let him walk away this time.

He turned and watched her walk over.

"You know you don't have to do this alone. Whatever it is I promise I'll be here, we've been friends too long for me not too care."

She wondered if it was the wrong thing to say for a moment as Jake stared at her, looking as if he was about to start crying again. Before she knew what to think he had her wrapped in a hug, his head buried in her shoulder as if he were never going to let go.

or dig myself a little hole
Inside your precious heart

They stood there like that for what seemed to be hours. Afraid to move even the slightest bit Sam just let Jake draw whatever comfort he could from the embrace. She knew he wouldn't tell her even if she begged, that much she could tell, but from all he had done she knew that if she let him he would tell her on his own time. Once again his seaston was off, this time left on a hay bale. The leather thong that held his hair together had come loose, letting most of his hair escape, falling against her face. She could smell the shampoo he used and she closed her eyes, breathing in deep. When Jake finally pulled away it was only enough so he could look her in the eyes.

"Thank you," he told her. "I knew you'd understand."

"What are friends for?"

A weak smile shown on his face.

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said

He pulled her back to the hay bale he'd been sitting next to earlier and sat down, motioning for her to do the same. He took a shaky breath but Sam didn't pressure him into talking.

"Between good grades at school, chores at home, schooling horses here, and protecting you it's just a lot of pressure to be under."

"Jake that's not even close to all of it," she said when he stopped talking.

A smirk flashed across his face.

"You know me too well Samantha Anne."

The teasing tone was gone in an instant and a sober expression once again crossed his face.

"I'm just worried about how everything's going to change when I leave. What if one of my brother's wants the ranch? What if your dad finds someone better than me?" he looked over at her. "What if you aren't here when I come home?"

He ducked his head, feeling like a child for spilling so many stupid fears to her.

I am nothing more than
A little boy inside

"You know you don't have to worry about any of that Jake. If one of your brothers wanted the ranch they'd have stuck around. There is no one who is better with horses than you," Sam told him gently.

Reaching out she lifted his chin but he refused to meet her eyes.

That cries out for attention,
But I always try to hide

"And I will always be here for you. You should know that by now."

He finally met her gaze and Sam could see he was struggling with something. Leaning forward she kissed him slowly. Jake's eyes widened in shock before closing and kissed her back. The kiss didn't last as Jake pulled away.

"Sam this isn't right'

"What do you mean?"

Confusion shown on her face.

"I can't let you do that. What if Wyatt saw or you were only acting on impulse. I'm older, I know better than to lead you on."

'Cause I'll talk to you like children,
Though I don't know how I feel

It took Sam every amount of will power she had not to knock some sense into Jake. She could see he was confused about what had happened and knew that it would take a lot of talking to calm him down.

"Jake, that's not true. If I hadn't wanted to kiss you I wouldn't have."

"How would you know? There's too much tension, too much emotion, for you to actually know."

He stood, grabbed his hat, and left the hay loft, Sam following close behind.

"Jake would you just listen to me?" She asked when she reached the tack room.

He faced her, Witch's tack in hand.

"No Samantha. It's better if we let it drop for now."

He brushed past her and went to catch his horse. Sam stood in the barn door way and watched him tack the mare up. As he pulled himself into the saddle he looked at her. She couldn't keep the tears from her eyes when she saw that once again he'd put a mask on. Jake noticed and his expression softened. Nudging Witch he moved closer to Sam. Reaching down he brushed a lock of hair from her face. She grabbed his hand and squeezed it. He smiled. Bringing her hand up he leaned out of the saddle so he could kiss it.

"Another time my dear."

But I know I'll do the right thing
If the right thing is revealed.

Sam smiled at the corniness, which is what he had hopped she would do. Dropping her hand he tipped his hat, wheeled Witch around and rode off, leaving Sam to think. She wasn't entirely sure what had happened but as she watched Jake and Witch become smaller tears rolled down her face.

'Cause it's always raining in my head
Forget all the things I should have said