Too Much to Know
A Salvation verse snippet by request of dolmir-k, for Leigh and Sam when Leigh is a little older. Not entirely happy, a rite of passage for one of the Winchester girls. Background information on Leigh's gift can be found in the story, Rock of Ages.The characters and situations portrayed here are not mine, they belong to the WB. This is a fan authored work and no profit is being made. Please do not link to this story without appropriate warnings. Please do not archive this story without my permission.(1,485 words)
Jeremy gave her the ring and she broke up with him.
She didn't say why exactly, only slid the lovely thing off her finger and stared at it hard and gave it back. "Give it back to your grandmother," she said and wouldn't speak to him for the rest of the day.
She knew Jeremy's grandmother; she was old and mean and spiteful, and she worried her daughter (Jeremy's mom,) to death and was ungrateful and demanding.
And she wasn't mad at Jeremy exactly, because he liked her a lot and was sweet and good-looking and his hands were slightly bigger than hers so that when they held hands his covered hers all the way around, and he held on tight, almost tight enough to pinch sometimes.
Jeremy's family didn't have a lot of money -- not that it mattered -- but wanting things he couldn't have was sometimes an issue. Leigh wasn't sure she really understood it. Her family was pretty well-off, she knew, and there wasn't much she wanted or needed that she didn't get, but she didn't get all that she wanted and her folks, her mom especially, were kind of annoying sometimes in asking if it was something she really wanted, or only wanted because of what her friends had. The fact that she always had the biggest box of stuff at the end of the year to be gathered up and donated to charity kind of proved her mom's point once Leigh was old enough to realize there was a point being made. Especially when she finally had a room all to herself and no longer had to keep all her things on the half of the room that wasn't Mary's.
Mary's room was always neat as a pin. Allie wasn't one to collect much in the way of "stuff" either, even after Dad and Uncle Dean and Papa Winchester finished the second round of renovations to the basement so that Allie could have her own room without them having to give up the guest room.
But still she had a lot of stuff and Jeremy didn't have a lot of stuff and not a lot of money and he wanted to give her a ring because he liked her a lot and so…
He'd stolen it from his grandmother.
It wasn't even so much that he'd stolen it. That alone she could have said something about, maybe. Told him not to steal for her because the ring was only a symbol and he could have gotten a plastic charm ring and she'd have loved it just the same.
No, it was the ring itself and what came with it. Jeremy gave it to her just after lunch, just before fourth period and she had to sit with it on her finger all the way through math and couldn't take it off because she had no pockets to put it in.
She'd missed practically the whole math lesson, listening to the ring.
She didn't like Jeremy's grandmother, and despite all that the ring told her about her, it didn't actually change Leigh's mind about Mrs. Williams. It did change her mind about Jeremy though.
Jeremy's mother took care of her own mother like she wasn't a crabby, mean, old woman. Jeremy's mom took care of the mother she remembered, who was sweet and kind and laughed a lot before age and time and loss of memory and illness made her mean and spiteful and difficult. But while Mrs. Williams' memory of years gone by might be all confused, she was still able to see and hear and observe.
Jeremy had stolen from her before. Nothing big, just little things: a pen set, the change in the bottom of her purse, a book...nothing huge or valuable -- not even the ring itself which was pretty but not valuable, just a piece of costume jewelry that Jeremy's mom had gotten her mother years ago, because Mrs. Williams liked pretty shiny things and wore them like little girls played dress up. Leigh wasn't sure that Jeremy's mom even knew her mother most often wore the jewelry her daughter gave her, finding some comfort and joy under all the confusion and anger that her girl still gave her pretty things.
But Jeremy had stolen from his mother and father too. Just a few dollars here or there, enough to go out with the other kids after school for burgers or ice cream and not have to say no or borrow. It wasn't until he gave Leigh the ring that she realized he had stolen his father's camera and pawned it so that he could take Leigh to a nice restaurant on their very first (and only) real date.
Mrs. Williams had seen it. Jeremy paid her so little attention, except when his parents insisted he help out, that he'd learned to ignore her mutterings and nonsense. But she'd seen him. Seen him take the money, the camera, little things -- rubbed the ring her daughter gave her and watched him.
Leigh gave it back after 4th period, along with the friendship bracelet he'd given her when they first started liking each other. "Give it back to her. And stop taking stuff from your parents," she'd said and had left, skipping fifth period and walking home, crying all the way.
Of course the school called her parents and of course her Dad was waiting for her when she got home.
She could tell her dad what she couldn't tell Jeremy, all of it, about the stealing, about how sad and tired and scared Mrs. Williams was under all the anger and the ungratefulness. How she knew Jeremy wasn't really bad or mean, just kind of petty and selfish.
Her dad sat with her in the old swing in the back yard over cans of soda and listened and let her touch and hold his own wedding ring, which had none of the sadness or grief of the ring she'd given back. And he never once acted like at fourteen she was too big to be in his lap or be held like when she was four.
"He's gonna wonder how I knew, and he's gonna talk and people will talk about me," she said while her dad stroked her hair and kept the swing swinging.
"Maybe," dad said, "But you've been to their house and seen the ring…the rest of it, how you knew…" Her dad blew out a breath and kissed the top of her head. "That's harder, Lemur, I know. Keeping secrets is hard."
"If he talks bad about me, Charlie will beat him up. I don't want that either," She said and felt her throat get all tight and hot. "I like him, Daddy. I like him a lot." And the tears started up all over again, because Leigh had had lots of boyfriends, but she'd never really felt the way about them that she did about Jeremy. "He's so smart and funny and nice…"
"I know, sweetheart. I know," Dad said. "I'm sorry you found out this way. I know this gift you have can be hard sometimes."
"Usually it's not." She sniffed through it, touching her father's wedding ring with a finger tip once more. "I wish…I wish his mom knew how her mother really feels. But there's no way to tell her without telling her the rest -- about me, about Jeremy. He's not a bad person, Daddy. He's just…" She didn't know. She'd never really wanted or had to work at being accepted or liked.
"I just wish I didn't know," she said quietly.
"But you do, and because you do, you have to go with that, Leigh. Just like all the other stuff you know that other people don't."
"Like you and Mom and Uncle Dean and Papa?"
"Pretty much. Knowing things means sometimes you have to act on what you know, not so much for yourself, but for other people. To help if you can."
"I don't know if this helped Jeremy any, or his parents, or his grandmother."
"Maybe not. Or maybe it will make him think -- stop and think -- now that he knows someone else knows what he's doing."
Leigh let that settle for a little bit, tried to not cry anymore with her Dad rubbing her arm.
"I really liked him, daddy."
"Does it help to know he probably really liked you, too?"
When Leigh went back to school the next day, and Jeremy wouldn't even look at her, she decided it didn't really help at all.
And a few weeks later, when she saw the same ring on Carrie Henderson's finger, she wondered if she'd ever really known Jeremy at all.