Disclaimer: I don't own Victorious.

Chapter 11: Holding On

At dinner Beck learned a little more about Jade, Cat, and Robbie but mostly Jade. When the host asked "Would you like a table?" she had replied "No I came to eat on the ground. We'd like a carpet for 10" with a roll of her bright blue eyes. And he learned she was sarcastic.

When Cat grabs Jade's water by mistaken, Jade grits her teeth. Then takes it back and shows Cat that touching your thumb to your index finger on each side and holding the other fingers straight out make a b and a d. "So, it's b for bread and d for drink". He realizes she could be helpful.

Robbie tries to interject, "Drink is always on the right".

Cat stares at him confused, "which one is that again?" looking critically at her two hands.

Jade shoots him a glare. So she can be wazzed off too, that he already knew. "You had it. Drink is…"

Cat bites her lip and forms the signs, "This one," she squeals waving that hand madly.

"Exactly," Jade replies.

Beck just listens most of dinner and observes. He learns Andre likes an insane amount of ketchup of his food and prefers talking about music over his home life. Cat apparently has a brother who sounds slightly insane and about a million stuffed animals that all have names. Robbie seems to spend most of his time getting yelled at by Jade, ignored by Andre, and occasionally glanced at by Cat. But he spends all of his time staring at her.

And Jade…Jade likes to talk about horror movies, haunted houses, death, and other things that scare Cat and creep Andre out. But while Beck isn't the biggest fan of these things, he certainly isn't scared off and can hold his own in a conversation about Dracula vs. Frankenstein movies. But she also can name the scientific names for butterflies and loves bunnies (though she glared when Cat let that one slip). She was interesting.

"She was nothing like you imagined and everything you wanted her to be." -Kevin Dilmore

He tells them that his dad is an editor at a trade magazine for architects, which is true even if he doesn't look the part. In Canada, his dad was a writer mostly about mountain hunting lodges but in LA it's all multimillion-dollar homes and he's been promoted. His dad is a good writer but Beck thinks he regrets not pursing hockey instead. They have always had enough but not any excess. He figures his dad thinks if he was educated in something other than English they could afford nicer things. The arts were good enough for him but not for his son. For half the night he had them convinced his mom was a Bikram yoga instructor who lived in a room that was +150 degrees and today was her first time in normal weather in weeks. It was a good joke until his mom spoiled it, telling the adults that she was an art therapist and thus letting the kids overhear.

A few weeks later school was starting. Beck had spent most of his summer running around with Andre playing basketball at a local playground's hoop, hockey on roller skates in the cul-de-sac by his house, and swimming at the public pool.

They had a few group movie nights (Jade likes popcorn with a little butter, salt, and M&Ms mixed in and a Coke), went bowling (Jade refused to wear the shoes), and had a game night (Jade and Beck were the only ones who played Monopoly all the way through). Jade still has only said a few sentences here and there to him.

He thinks he convinced Robbie that for guys to show they respect each other and are friends they ignore each other. He feels a bit bad but can only take that kid for so long.

Same with Cat. He doesn't know how Jade puts up with her rambling and off-the-wall comments. And then little by little she grows on him. Wide eyes, curly hair, constant giggles…Yesterday on the last day of summer vacation they had all bought ice cream from the ice cream truck. Cat had come up to him, lip pouting, eyes tearing, and all he wanted was to make it better. She charmed him into giving her his own ice cream since she'd dropped hers.

Elizabeth ruffles his hair and straightens his backpack. She hugs him once and pulls away.

"Call home if you need anything," she says before going in for another hug, "I packed you a brownie for dessert".

"Liz," his dad warns pointing to his watch.

She kisses his forehead, "I love you" and shoos him out the door.

Beck looks back to see her biting her lip and Nicholas enfolding her in a hug.

When he gets on the bus, Beck is surprised to see Jade sitting next to Andre.

She looks up at him, "This seat is taken".

"Sorry man," Andre offers, earning a sharp poke from Jade.

Beck makes his way back further and is soon smothered with girls asking him to sit with her.

When he walks into class, he spots Andre, Robbie, Cat, Jade, and a few others he thinks were at Jade's party. The teacher asks them to take a seat on the rug and then explains that she's going to let the kids pick their own seats for now, since they are "big 3rd graders now" but that they need to have "at least 2 boys and 2 girls at each table". The tables are grouped into 4 or 5 desks each.

Cat waits for Jade to pick one, as does Andre. They do so with the assurance she's going to include them wherever she picks. Jade bares her teeth in a semi-hostile grin as she pauses by a 4-desk group. Robbie and Beck exchange looks unsure of whom she'd kick out. Beck thinks for a second and realizes this is an improvement, he might actually get chosen for company over Robbie, which would be an itty-bitty step for Jade.

Jade lets out a raw laugh and takes a seat at another group of desks. She sits at the head of the table, the desk sticking out. Cat immediately slides in to the seat to her right. She nods to Andre who sits to her left. Robbie and Beck stand there. Jade pretends to be deciding and Beck is sick of this chiz. He moves to sit next to Andre hearing Jade take in a sharp intake of breath but remain silent. Robbie only moves once Cat says, "Next to me," and pulls him down.

Beck smiles at her in relief, pleased they are all sitting together.

Later Jade pulls out a notebook that says "People I'd Like to Punch" across the cover and shows it to him. Then she pulls it away from him and smiles, crossing his name (#17) out.

I like it when you smile, but I love when I am the reason behind it. -Unknown

Over the next few weeks, Jade is partnered with him a few times. Her silence moves to grabbing his markers when she want them, even if he's currently using them, to demands such as "give me your glue" "I'm taking your pencil" and taking them without waiting for a response, to "Glue" with her hand outstretched.

When she greets him one morning with "Good morning. I see the assassins have failed again," her eyes twinkling, he knows he's in.

From there she takes Robbie's stuff instead of his and makes dramatic faces at him when the teacher is being boring. Her morning greetings remain violent as ever but they've lost their omnipresent sting. Instead she's just one-upping herself with cleverness. Scathing one-lines, clever quips, and traded insults made up their relationship of tolerance.

It's not until right before Christmas break that Beck realizes he likes her as a friend. They are at recess and Jade was just back after being out sick yesterday. Clearly some kids didn't get the memo because by the time Beck and Andre get there Cat's crying and Jade has just punched a kid. Robbie is standing awkwardly by himself. Andre goes straight to Jade, hoping to pull her away and hide before the teachers get there. Beck goes for Cat. She immediately winds her arms around his neck and continues sobbing.

"Cat what's going on?" he asks tugging her away from the scene.

She just hiccups and refuses to move, with some difficulty Beck picks up the smaller girl and walks away to a spot behind the playground. Andre soon joins him hauling Jade away and pushing her onto the steps next to Beck. Jade is raring to go back after Jake, until she sees Cat crying in Beck's arms.

Beck is stroking her hair and murmuring, "It's alright Kit-Cat".

Jade frowns and tugs Cat away from him."What'd you do?" she accuses though her words have no bite; offended he'd use a nickname she claimed, but pleased he was trying to help Cat unlike Robbie.

Beck puts his hands up and shrugs.

Jade looks at Cat and prompts her for their made-up saying after every 'incident', "Go on".

"Sweet as sugar," Cat whispers playing with her necklace.

"Cold as ice," Jade replies with a small nudge.

"Hurt me once," Cat says tears starting to fall again.

"And I'll kill you twice," Jade hums, "I'll always protect you".

"Pinky promise?" Cat begs, "Please Jadey".

Jade covertly agrees.

"Why'd you go off on him?" Andre asks.

Jade looks down at Cat whose tears have turned into sniffles.

"It's all my fault," Cat whines upset.

"Noooo, it's that dumb bully," Jade grouses, "Jake".

She hugs Cat tightly against her, "You're okay now. You are not dumb. He's an idiot. You're the smartest girl I know Cat, and funny, sweet, a million things that aren't stupid".

"Jake Anders?" Beck asks.

At Jade's nod, Beck gets up and walks away only to take off running and jump on top of Jake. Jade looks alarmed and Cat's crying has renewed. Andre tries to get Beck stop.

He ends up with detention and a Hershey bar pressed into his hand by Jade nonchalantly when waiting for the bus. Seeing Jade comfort Cat and actually show compassion made him realize how much he liked her, the candy bar was just an added bonus. Jade has a newfound respect for him as well, anyone who protects Cat is okay in her book.

"Sweet as sugar, hard as ice. Hurt me once, I'll kill you twice." –Unknown

Then one day Jade offers to meet up with him to work on a project just the two of them. Usually she has Cat tag along even if she's not part of their group for the project. Beck meets her outside her house. It's spring and flowers are starting to bloom. Cat's just turned nine on March 11th making Jade the baby of the group until her birthday in August. This has led to lots of baby jokes and Beck hopes Jade isn't cranky like lately.

Jade ushers him in and up the stairs. It's the 2nd time he's been in her house and the 1st time he's been upstairs. Her bedroom suits her to a tee. They take out their books and Jade lays out the poster board and markers.

"Are you mad at me?" he asks when she doesn't say anything.

Jade purses her lips, "Just because I am not talking doesn't mean I'm in a bad mood. Sometimes I just like being quiet".

Beck isn't sure if she's letting him in or lying but he nods.

"Well you need to talk a little bit. Do you want to do the House or the Senate?" he asks.

They were assigned the legislative branch for the history fair.

"I don't care," Jade replies.

"You can do the Senate," Beck offers looking at her out of the corner of his eye.

"Whatever," she shrugs writing Senate boldly across the top of her half.

She makes no move to continue so he starts to read her the qualifications to run for Senate.

She writes them down and then moves to write House of Representatves on the other side.

"Okay Jade what gives!" he finally asks exasperated when they are halfway done and she hasn't said another word, not even an insult.

Jade is staring down at the paper hard. She can feel her face heating up and wonders what would happen if he told her. If he would tell the whole school, if he would leave, if he would laugh or say she deserved it for being a brat all the time.

Beck pokes her hard looking for some reaction, "Hello? Earth to Jade!"

She looks up at him with teary eyes.

"I didn't mean to poke you that hard," Beck frowns reaching out to rub her arm.

"It hasn't even been a year," Jade whispers.

Beck waits, "a year since what?"

"Barely over six months," Jade chokes out.

"Since your birthday?" Beck asks confused as he counts backwards.

"Jade I know we tease you all the time but you'll be nine like us before you know it. I'll get them to stop bugging you about it if it upsets you this much," Beck rambles nervously.

Jade gives a short laugh, "No you idiot" she says, though with affection, "since my parents decided to divorce" the smile slips off her face.

"And he's been shacking up with some bimbo for a few months and now he's going to marry her. She's going to be my 'step-mommy' and 'hopes we'll have lots of fun together and be lifelong friends" she rants mimicking a high dopey voice for some parts.

Beck doesn't know what to say. She looks like she regrets being so open anyway. His parents have been together for 19 happy years, since they were freshmen in high school. They rarely argue. He still brings home flowers and jewelry just because, nicer stuff now that he has a better job. She still packs love notes into his lunches and greets him at the door because he makes it home after her. As much as they drive him insane, and don't always agree on what's best for him, they have a good relationship with each other.

Instead knowing she's feeling vulnerable he just replies, "That sucks".

Jade nods and picks up her marker, "Length of term?"

Beck replies "Two years".

He reaches over and picks up her hand, squeezes it once tightly.

"You forgot an i in representatives," he points out, still holding onto her cold hand.

She frowns at him and squishes one in between the t and the v.

The next time she looks up he is making a face, tongue out, eyes crossed the whole deal.

She laughs and squeezes his hand back.

"Holding hands is a promise to one another that, just for a moment, the two of you don't have to face the world alone" –Unknown

A/N: Hope you enjoyed this chapter. As always please let me know what you thought.