The One With The Countdown

Pairing: Jeff Atkins x Reader

Summary: You and Jeff find yourself in the peak of your relationship: arguing, making up, talking about your future together. Little do you know there’s a clock on your relationship that’s running out of time. 

A/N: died a lil inside writing this not gonna lie

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5 DAYS BEFORE
Friday, 8:17 pm

Most days, you and Jeff barely argued. You’d been dating for over a year and it had been a great year. You were young and in love, as cliché as that was and nothing in the world mattered more. Or at least it hadn’t. But for days you’d been arguing about where he’d been spending his time.

“No. Not Bryce’s. Not again,” you shake your head firmly, “Don’t you get it, Jeff? He is a terrible person and going to his parties-“

“Makes me a terrible person?” he raises a brow. You inhale sharply, resting a hand against his chest and looking into his eyes, “You’re a good person and I wouldn’t want anything to change that.”

“I don’t go to those parties so I can hang out with Bryce and his douchebag friends,” he promises you, “I go for Clay who goes for Hannah who goes for Jessica,” he says, all in one breath, “Is it so wrong to want to help my friend?”

“Can’t you just help him at school? Nothing good ever happens at those parties.”

Jeff raises a brow, “You know, we’ve never really talked about-“

“And I don’t want to,” you sigh.

Freshman year you’d dated Justin for a short while and that time in your life was a living hell. You hadn’t ‘put out’ and he’d invited you to one of Bryce’s parties just to break up with you and humiliate you in front of his friends. The jokes people made still rung in your ears when you saw him in the hallway.

Lucky for you, Jeff had driven you home from that party and you’d ended up good friends which turned into more eventually.

You knew everyone at school loved him and that he was big on the social scene and you didn’t mind it, it’s just each time he told you he ‘had’ to go to one of Bryce’s parties, you couldn’t help but feel disgusted. What happened to you wasn’t the worst of what happened at those parties and you both knew it.

Jeff rests his hands on either side of your face, “I’m not going to let anything bad happen tonight.”

You nod. At least you felt reassured by the fact that Jeff would help someone in trouble if there was any, just like he’d helped you.

“Why don’t you come?” he asks, pressing a kiss to your forehead before walking back to his wardrobe.

“Because I haven’t stepped into one of his parties since freshman year,” you scoff, “What time will you get back?”

“As soon as I have Clay and Hannah talking to each other,” he smiles widely. You thought it was cute that he’d taken it upon himself to help Clay out, though you were a little jealous that they were spending more time together than the two of you were these days.

“Mmm,” you hum, hugging him from behind, “When will I get all of your time the way Clay does?”

“You can have me the whole of tomorrow,” he promises, “A whole Saturday where you can make me watching Young Wolf-“

“Teen Wolf,” you correct him, chuckling, “Fine,” you sigh, “Be safe. Don’t drink too much.”

He rolls his eyes as he pulls on his jacket. You stand in front of him, adjusting the collar and shooting him a stern look, “Call me if you need me to pick you up, okay?”

“I’ll be fine, y/n,” he laughs, tracing a finger down your cheek, “You don’t have to worry about me.”

“But I do anyway,” you sigh, hugging him. He wraps his arms around you, resting his chin on the top of your forehead.

“Look, I’ll text you all night,” he says, “I’ll give you an hourly update on how Clay isn’t talking to his crush.”

You half smile, ruffling his hair, “Alright, get out of here before I strap you down to the bed so you can’t leave.”

“I’m not completely opposed to that,” he smirks before swiping his phone off the night stand and pressing a kiss to your cheek, “I’ll be back by 11. I promise,” he says.

You spend the entire night watching re runs of Gilmore Girls despite the same three episodes being played in a loop. It didn’t really matter since all you were thinking about was Jeff.

Every time he went to one of these parties, the two of you would end up fighting. Today you’d let it go but that just made it that much harder on you, having to internalize your fear all on your own instead of talking to him about it. You knew he wouldn’t brush you off but you also knew you couldn’t change his mind.

You knew Jeff wasn’t at risk of anything in particular but you knew that there was always drama around Hannah and Jessica and that if anything were to go down, he would step in on Clay’s behalf and that worried you. You couldn’t live if something happened to him.

“Screw it,” you mumble to yourself, an uneasy feeling growing in your stomach despite your best efforts to suppress it. It was already 1am and you hadn’t heard from him at all. You jump into your car, driving towards Bryce’s house. As you pull up his driveway, your heart beings to face.

The front lawn was littered with a few passed-out people, unsurprisingly, not all of them were fully clothed. You dodge around them, frowning, your eyes raking the house for Jeff as you walk in.

You could feel eyes shifting to you and a few scattered whispers. You hadn’t really considered what walking in here would do or what kind of rumours there’d be by Monday – after all, you’d avoided these for most of your time in high school. You pull your phone out of your pocket, dialling Jeff again, only to feel a hand grab your shoulder.

“What are you doing here?”

Bryce’s voice is a loud sneer that seems to echo over the loud music. Justin was standing by his side, shifting from foot to foot – he looked concerned.

“I j-just-“ you stammer. You could see his hand reaching out for you and you dodge it quickly, stumbling backwards and to the floor.

Bryce sniggers, crossing his large arms over his chest and stalking towards you. Justin quickly steps in front of him, “Come on man, she looks wasted,” he says.

“That’s how I like them,” Bryce leers, crouching down beside you. He traces a finger down your arm, before wrapping his thick fingers around it and yanking you up.

“Come on man,” Justin sighs. Bryce brushes him off.

“That’s what she’s here for, a good time,” Bruce shrugs.

“Actually, she’s here to see me,” Clay says, tugging you out of Bryce’s grasp. Bryce just rolls his eyes and falls back into conversation with his group.

“Are you okay?” he asks. You just stare at him wide eyed, unable to speak. He steadies you, walking you over to the backyard where it was a little quieter and points to a corner.

Jeff was slumped against a pool chair, his head lulling side to side.

“It’s my fault. We started playing beer pong against Hannah and Jessica and he drank so I wouldn’t have to,” he says apologetically.

You felt like you were going to throw up from what had just happened but your priority was to get the two of you out of there.

You walk over, crouching beside him.

“Y/N,” he mumbles, a small smile spreading across his lips. He closes his eyes, letting his head hang back and you loop one of his arms around your neck and help him up. He staggers all over the place until Clay links his other arm around his neck.

You avoid the eyes of Bryce and his posse as the three of you go through the front door. You didn’t need to look to know Bryce’s eyes were on your ass.

It was a struggle getting Jeff into the car but once he was in, he rested his head against the cool glass and was out like a light.

Clay frowns deeply, wringing his hands, “I really am sorry.”

“it’s not your fault,” you tell him, “Are you okay to get home?”

He nods toward his bike across the street, making his way over. He pauses, turning back to you, “Don’t be too hard on him,” he sighs.

You climb in, turning the key in the ignition. Your breaths were short and shallow, you felt like the air had left your lungs since you’d walked into that house.

You were half way to Jeff’s house when you realized you could barely see where you were going. At first you thought it was the tears that had been streaming down your face the whole time you’d been driving but soon noticed there were black spots all over your vision. You squeeze your eyes open and shut several times, your breathing so loud you could hear it over the music, but it made no difference.

“Fuck,” you croak, pulling over. You’d completely sweat through your shirt. You knew you were hyperventilating but you couldn’t get yourself to stop. You hadn’t had a panic attack since that incident freshman year. You rest your head against the steering wheel, letting our choked sobs.

I’m sorry,” you hear Jeff mumble from beside you. He rests his hands on top of yours and nestles his head against your shoulder, “I’m really, really fucking sorry.”


4 DAYS BEFORE
Saturday, 11:03 am

Despite your agreement to spend the weekend together, you’d dropped Jeff home on Friday around in the early hours of the morning and gone home, ignoring all his calls that had started shortly after..

He’d tried to comfort you in the car and apologized profusely for scaring you like that and dragging you into a situation you didn’t want to be in. You didn’t say a word, nor did you tell him about what had happened with Bryce. You simply drove him home once you could and told him you’d talk to him the next day.

But as you woke up in the morning, you couldn’t deal with it or him. You’d scrubbed your skin all night, just to get the smell of alcohol out – just to make sure there wasn’t an inch of you left that Bryce had touched.

But you should’ve known better than to ignore Jeff, he was persistent if anything.

“You ignored all my calls,” he says, standing in your doorway, “Y-your mum let me up,” he explains.

“I was tired,” you shrug him off, standing up and walking over to him with your arms crossed over your chest.

“Please don’t be mad at me,” he sighs, “I didn’t mean for any of that. I didn’t expect you’d show up – I thought I could sleep it off then go home to you.”

“You didn’t expect I’d show up? Do you know how much I freak out every time you go to one of Bryce’s parties?”

“I know,” he sighs, shaking his head, “I know and I’m not going to go to one ever again, I swear. I should have never put you through that.”

You run your fingers through your hair, biting down on your lip, “I need some time, Jeff.”

“Wait, what?” he frowns, inching towards you, “Come on, I just said I wouldn’t go.”

“But that’s your life,” you throw your hands up in the air, “You like parties and going out and I don’t want to stop you from doing that stuff if you enjoy it. I don’t – I don’t want to be the girlfriend that controls everything you do.”

“You’re – you’re not that girl. You’re just looking out for me, those parties are the worst place to be and I know that and I know that you’re right.”

“If you knew that then you wouldn’t have gone,” you deadpan, “I can’t keep having this same argument with you over and over again.”

“And I promise you’ll never have to again,” he pleads, taking your hands in his.

You pull them away, balling your fists up by your sides, “I know,” you sigh, walking over to the door and waiting for him to pass you.


3 DAYS BEFORE
Sunday, 5:22 pm

After you’d broken up with him, you’d avoided all his attempts at trying to fix things between the two of you. Even when he’d shown up at your window at midnight. Even when he’d gotten drunk and dialled you a dozen times Sunday morning. Even when he’d pleaded with your mom to let him see you at lunch.

“I’m sorry man,” Clay says, skipping a stone across the lake. After a day of failed attempts of trying to get you to talk to him, he’d caved and called Clay to pour his heart out, but the words felt stuck in his throat. He could have never imagined the pain that came with losing you.

“Yeah,” Jeff sighs, lying back on the grass. He’d planned to spend the entire weekend with you and here he was with Clay in the middle of a deserted park, watching the sun set.

“Maybe she’ll come around. She said she needed time, right?”

Jeff shakes his head grievously, “It was the last straw, I could see it on her face. She was so hurt,” he rests his arm over his eyes, “I should have listened to her.”

Clay rests a hand on Jeff’s shoulder, “She was pretty shaken up, huh?”

He looks up at him, “Right, I forgot you saw her when you helped me into the car.”

“Actually, I was there when that whole thing happened with Bryce,” Clay says with a frown, “He’s such a dick.”

Jeff sits up in confusion, “Wait, what happened with Bryce?”

Clay raises his brows, “She didn’t tell you?”

Jeff shakes his head, “What happened?” he asks slowly, knowing he wouldn’t be able to forgive himself no matter how minor it was.

“Bryce kind of grabbed her and knocked her around a bit, said some pretty gross stuff too. God knows what would’ve happened if I hadn’t dragged her away,” he explains, “You know Bryce get’s what he wants, even if it’s in the middle of a party. The guy is disgusting.”

Jeff had stopped listening. He could hear ringing in his ears as he thought of you breaking down in your car, inconsolable. He could feel himself shaking, whether it was with remorse or anger, he couldn’t tell.

He’d put you in a position that you never should have been in and worse, you’d been so distraught about it you hadn’t even been able to tell him. Of course you’d broken up with him – you couldn’t have beared to stay with him knowing there was a possibility that it could happen again.

Jeff shoots up and Clay pulls him back.

“Where are you going?”

“I have to talk to her,” he says, growing agitated. He had to tell you how sorry he was.

“Jeff, she didn’t want you to know. And she probably doesn’t even want to think about it and you confronting her won’t help. Just give her a few days, let it die down a  little. God knows it’ll be a big deal at school tomorrow.”


2 DAYS BEFORE
Monday, 8:33 am

You could see Jeff watching you from his locker, hesitantly walking toward you with flowers in one hand and his other shoved into his jacket pocket.

You crack a small smile when he comes to a stop. Truthfully, your weekend had been miserable without him. It was only two days but it felt like lifetime – your days felt incomplete without him. And it felt worse to not have him to talk to, to not be able to tell him how humiliated and disgusted you felt about the party.

He holds the bouquet out to you, “I am really, really sorry. And just to be clear these aren’t ‘get back together with me’ flowers, they’re ‘I was an asshole and I’m sorry’ flowers and ‘even if you just want to stay friends or ignore me forever, it’s okay and I promise I’ll never step foot into one of Bryce’s parties again’ flowers.” He seemed out of breath by the time he’d finished saying it.

“How long did you rehearse that?” you raise a brow with a smirk, taking them out of his hands.

“The very long walk from my locker to yours,” he admits, rubbing the back of his neck, “So?”

“So, we can stay friends, Jeff,” you nod. A wide smile spreads across his face, “Good. Great, I mean,” he claps his hands together, “So then why don’t we skip Jessica’s party on Wednesday and go to that Italian restaurant you like?”

“I can’t skip Jessica’s,” you sigh, “I promised I’d wingman one of my friends.”

“Jessica’s?” you hear a voice boom from behind you.

You both turn around to find Bryce and Justin leaning against the lockers on the opposite side of the hallway.

“Will I be seeing you there?” Bryce asks, “Maybe we can pick up where we left off last night?” he chuckles lowly. Within a blink, Jeff is throwing him to the floor and pinning him down, hitting him until his knuckles are bloody. You were watching on in horror, unable to move for a good few minutes until you noticed that Bryce was about to turn the fight around.

You pull Jeff up despite finding it rather enjoyable to see Bryce being beaten to a pulp. When Bryce lurches forward you reach into your bag and pepper spray him between the eyes. He screams loudly doubling over and digging the heels of his palms into his eyes.

“YOU FUCKING BITCH!” he shouts, grasping around blindly.

Jeff half laughs, staring at you in surprise before taking your hand in his and sprinting down the hallway until you’re both through the front doors and out in the carpark.

“We’re going to be in so much shit for that,” he gasps, out of breath.

You study him intently, “Why did you do that back there?” you ask.

“Clay told me,” he confesses, his eyes reddening, “I should’ve known there was more going on. I should’ve known you were hurting.”

“Jeff-“

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry that – that – I don’t even know,” he says frustrated, “I’m so sorry that right now if you asked me to walk into traffic, I would.”

“I’m not going to ask you to do that,” you laugh softly, slinging your arms around his neck, “Thank you, for what you did back there.”

“Why didn’t you tell me?”

“I knew you already felt terrible about me having a panic attack, I didn’t want to add to your guilt,” you say, resting a hand against his arm and your forehead against him, “I don’t blame you.”

“I feel terrible,” he whispers.

“I know,” you nod, “But don’t. Clay told me you cried all weekend and that I should take you back,” you say with a small grin.

“Of course I cried all weekend,” he scoffs, “I lost the love of my life.”

“You didn’t lose me,” you reassure him. You take his hands in yours, examining his bloody, bruised knuckles, “Should we go back to my place? Get you cleaned up?”

“Is that code for let’s get back together and make out?”

You roll your eyes and nod, “What else would it mean?” you wink, kissing him softly.


1 DAY BEFORE
Tuesday, 1:07 pm

“Stop eating my fries,” Jeff groans, nudging you playfully. You roll your eyes, reaching for them anyway. He picks one up and dips it in ketchup before swiping it across your nose.

You stare at him, surprised, laughing before a small food fight ensues.

“Seriously, how old are you guys?” Clay grumbles as he sits opposite the two of you in the cafeteria.

“Sorry we have love lives,” Jeff teases, “I’ve been telling you all along to get yourself a girl,” he winks, slinging an arm around your shoulder. You shrug it off.

“Don’t listen to him Clay,” you chuckle, “You’re fine as you are.”

Clay mumbles something under his breath with an awkward smile, “So, Hannah is going to be at Jessica’s party tomorrow,” he says, “Should I talk to her?”

“Yes,” you both say in unison.

Clay stiffens, his palms growing sweaty, “W-well, w-what do I say?” he stammers, visualizing the conversation in his head.

You’d both been planning to go to Jessica’s party but now that her and Justin were together, it was guaranteed that Bryce would be there. Your friend had understood when you’d told her you couldn’t come but something about the puppy look in Clay’s eyes made you want to reconsider.

“Are you guys coming?” Clay asks.

Jeff shakes his head firmly, resting his hand over yours, “We’re spending the night in.”

It had been Jeff’s idea not to go and to have a date night instead. Those parties were insufferable anyways, he’d told you, and he didn’t want to have a hangover ever again.

“We can help him a little,” you whisper to Jeff.

Jeff raises his brows, “Really?”

You knew Jeff didn’t care how many parties he missed as long as the two of you were together, the same way you didn’t care how many he went to as long as he was safe. But you also knew how much he wanted to help Clay since Clay as the only reason he hadn’t flunked out, and you felt like you owed it to him.

“Yeah, really. We can be in and out,” you say, turning to Clay, “But you gotta stick to our plan.”

Clay nods firmly even though all of you knew he’d probably freak out at the last minute.


PRESENT DAY
Wednesday, 8:54 pm

“You look beautiful,” Jeff says, leaning against the front door as you come downstairs. You were wearing a silk, red mini dress with black boots and a leather jacket hung over your shoulders.

“You too,” you laugh, running your fingers through his hair as he kisses you.

I can’t believe I’m dating the most beautiful girl in the entire world,” he says in disbelief.

You scrunch your nose up, “You’ve been paying me these corny compliments for two days straight. When will it stop?” you laugh.

“It’ll never stop now that I know what it’s like to lose you,” he says, his expression serious. He holds the car door open, waiting for you to climb in before getting in and switching the headlights on.

He stares ahead for a little, “Are you sure you want to go tonight?”

“It’s fine,” you nod, “We’re going early. We can be in and out before Bryce even gets there,” you tell him, “I know how much you want to help Clay.”

He nods appreciatively, “I promise I won’t let anything happen to you tonight,” he whispers protectively.

“And I will never let anything happen to you,” you say with certainty, resting your head against his shoulder as he begins to drive. Your house wasn’t far from Jessica’s. It was opposite the intersection where the alcohol store was and you could spot a few seniors in there and few juniors, trying to get away with fake I.D’s.

“I remember when that was us,” you laugh.

“And look at us now,” he says, resting a hand over yours, “And imagine us in five years,” he sighs wistfully.

“Five years?” you raise a brow.

“Graduating from college. You do law like you’ve always wanted and after a lot of struggling, I finally get into Medicine so I can help people like I’ve always wanted. We get married, have two kids – one boy and one girl.”

“Let me guess, Jeff Junior?” you laugh. You felt warmth wash over you as you envisioned your future together, more so due to the fact that he’d thought about all this before you had.

“Jeff Junior If it’s a boy and if it’s a girl,” he pauses, “Wait for it…. Jeffica.”

You snort, laughing, “I am not naming our daughter Jeffica.”

“We can name our daughter whatever you like,” he leans over, pressing a kiss to your cheek, “I just like the sound of it… our daughter; our family.”

“Me too,” you grin.

You pull up down the street form Jessica’s house and climb out. The party wasn’t in full swing yet, much to your relief.

Clay arrives at the same time as the two of you, looking slightly suffocated as he joins you.

“I feel like I can’t breathe,” he mumbles.

“Tonight is your night, my man,” Jeff says, trying to hype him up. His frown only grown deeper.

An hour into the party, Clay had disappeared upstairs with Hannah. You and Jeff smile at each other, impressed with your handiwork.

“Nice job,” you whisper to him.

“Couldn’t have done it without you,” he replies, kissing you. At that moment, a few of his friends walk in.

“Should we get going?” he asks unsurely, knowing if he walked over to his friends that you’d have to stick around longer.

You shake your head, “No, have some fun,” you smile at him, “This party seems pretty mellow so far.” You join the group in walking to the front yard where they take over the ping pong table.

When you step away, Jeff rushes to your side, “Wait, where are you going?” he asks.

“I was just going to walk home, I’m getting a little tired.”

“Let me take you,” he says, reaching into his pocket for the keys.

“C’mon man,” Zach says, “You said you’d grab us some drinks form the corner store.”

Jeff sighs in defeat, leaning in, “I can totally ditch them.”

“We can hear you,” Zach calls out.

“It’s okay,” you say. You adjust the strap of your bag against your shoulder, looking up at him, “Just meet me back at my place?”

He never would have let you walk home alone but the street was filled with your classmates and you only lived a few minutes away.

“I’ll be there in 10,” he swears. He pulls you against him, kissing you so hard you could barely breathe. You could hear his friends hooting in the background and you both pull apart, laughing.

“I love you,” he hums, breathlessly.

“I love you too,” you say, pecking another kiss to his lips before turning away. You could feel his eyes on you until you rounded the corner.

Suddenly you were tempted to stop by the corner store and grab some chocolate. You knew you and Jeff would probably grab dinner afterwards but you felt a serious sweet tooth coming on. You cross the street from outside your house to the corner store.

As you gather up a few candy bars and lay them on the counter, the cashier flashes you a wide smile, “Your boyfriend was just in here,” she says. The two of you had been in there so many times you were practically regulars, if that was a thing at convenience stores. You look over your shoulder through the door to try and spot Jeff but it’s too dark out.

“He’s a good boy, that one. You make a very sweet couple.”

“Thank you,” you nod, “He is. He’s great.”

You could see Jeff’s smile in your head. And then you hear it. The sound of bending metal and broken glass. You hear the crash.

You feel your chest tighten as you rush outside to see the an all too familiar car bent out of shape and an all too familiar face through the shattered glass of the window.

“NO!” you scream, rushing towards Jeff’s car where his body was slumped against the door, covered in blood. You feel arms wrap around you and pull you back just as you pry the door open. You turn around to find Clay staring at you, pale faced. You were already hysterical and in tears.

“Don’t move him,” he says, “You could make it worse. I already called an ambulance.”

“W-w- Clay, let me go!” you struggle, shoving against him. He barely flinches, keeping his arms wrapped tightly around you as you flailed around, kicking and screaming.

“I have to help him!” you sob, “I have to help him!”

You said it repetitively, even after the ambulance arrived. Even after they tried to save him and couldn’t. Even after they announced his time of death. Even after they pulled that god damn white sheet over his body and wouldn’t let you past the crime scene tape.

You rip through it anyways, pulling the sheet off his face and shaking him slightly, “Please,” you whimper, “I – I can’t live without you.”

Your mind replayed every kiss, every hug, every smile. Every night you slept next to him and every morning you woke up in his embrace. He’d changed your entire life and the plan was for him to keep changing it, beyond your five-year plan. You were meant to be together for the rest of your lives. He couldn’t be gone. You wouldn’t let him.

“Y/N,” Clay says, resting a hand against your shoulder.

A paramedic moved the stretcher with a sympathetic look on her face after a cop nudges the two of you away, pushing you back behind the tape.

I promised I would never let anything happen to him,” you croak, watching his body being loaded into the back of the ambulance in disbelief.

2

The 1st Special Service Brigade goes ashore at Sword Beach, 1944. The Lord Lovat Simon Fraser is visible to the right of the column wading ashore in the first photo, and is the one standing and addressing the brigade. After losing several men to sniper fire the unit switched from their distinctive berets to helmets shortly after coming ashore. Also visible in the first photo, closest to the camera, is the “Mad Piper” Bill Millin, who famously piped the unit across Pegasus Bridge.