Disclaimer: Victorious and its characters are the property of Schneider's Bakery and Nickelodeon. This story is for entertainment purposes only and no money exchanged hands. No copyright infringement is intended. The original characters, situations, and story are the property of the author. No profit is intended or wanted for this story.
Note: Thanks to all the reviewers as well as the followers and the readers who favorited this story. I really appreciate the feedback. To the guest reviewer (who I can't reply directly to), thanks for the kind words. I hope you like the finale. All of you.
"What's the catch?"
Bea sighed. "I guess I owe you both an explanation. I can't fault you for being suspicious after what you've been through. So…"
Pausing for a deep breath, Bea started, "I came to New York from Seneca, only about thirty miles or so west of your home town, May. But decades before. Anyway, I wanted to find my sister. I know I told you I was trying to break into show business but that came later. My sister, Marian, came here before me. We, our family, lost touch with her and I decided to come here after I graduated high school. I had to find her."
Bea walked across the room to the flap that closed the bar. Stepping behind the bar, she grabbed a bottle of Johnny Walker Black and poured a shot. Knocking it back, she wordlessly offered the same to the girls. Jade nodded as April...May declined. Bea poured herself another.
"Sorry," she finally said. "This is still hard after all this time.
"I came to New York and searched all over the Village, SoHo, Chinatown, Five Points and Tribeca for her. I remember her talking about how cool the Village was from movies and TV. I had copies of her senior year picture but, like I said, no one knew her. I was on Houston Street, heading to Alphabet City and the East Village. Crossing the Bowery …" Jade felt a weird chill, remembering the Bowery Boys movie earlier even though those movies had no relation to the reality of the Bowery in those days or the time Bea was talking about. "…I ran into this old timer. I took a chance and showed him the picture. He said she looked familiar. Took a half pint of Jack but he finally started to talk.
"Marian had run out of money and was strung out on heroin. She was hooking on Broadway in Bed-Stuy. That's Bedford-Stuyvesant, over in Brooklyn. This was a couple of decades before the gentrification in the 2000s.
"Sorry, I'm stalling."
"It's okay, Bea," Jade said in a quiet voice.
"Okay. Marian was always a robust, lively girl. She was beautiful and one of the most popular girls in school. You know, homecoming and prom queen, even head cheerleader. Now, I mean she was popular but not a skank. Everyone liked her and she believed she'd be the same in New York. We all did.
"When I finally found her, she was like some scarecrow caricature. She was almost skeletal. Picture a death camp survivor and that was what my sister had become... I bought her lunch as I tried to talk her into coming home. She barely ate anything and claimed she was on the verge of her big break. I gave her my hotel number and made her promise to call me. She left after making me promise I wouldn't follow her. Stupidly, I agreed. I never saw her alive again."
"Oh Bea…" Jade groaned.
May muttered, "I'm so sorry…"
Bea poured another shot and again offered. Jade took it, even though she really didn't want a second shot at the moment. With teary eyes, April agreed. May, dammit! Jade had to remind herself as Bea poured May's shot.
"Sorry, I never drink this early but…" Bea shook her head, blinking rapidly. "I gave Marian a couple of days but I didn't hear anything. I was about to go back to Brooklyn when I got a call. It was a detective from the Homicide division. I met her at the Office of the Medical Examiner on First Avenue and East Thirtieth. It's just east-northeast of here on the other side of Manhattan.
"Sorry, I'm stalling again. I met this cop, Detective Baez. She told me she got my number from a note in Marian's pocket. I went into this small room, the lights went down and a curtain opened to show me my sister lying on a table…" Bea tried to stifle her sobs, unsuccessfully.
"My big sister. I loved…I love her. But she got caught up in this whole insane…" Bea downed the last of the scotch in her glass.
After a couple of minutes, Bea went on, "After I arranged to have Marian sent home, I stupidly stuck around. I went home for the funeral of course but then I was back here and… Well, the rest you know, Jade." Jade nodded. "I guess, since my sister…died, I've tried to help young people when I can. You two were the most endangered I've heard of in quite a while. But even before I got the lowdown from Terry, I had a feeling about you Jade. I knew you were far better than whatever mess you'd been in. And April, I'm sorry, May, I think you are too."
The three awkwardly hugged over the table for several moments before Bea forced a smile and asked, "So, May, you any good at waiting tables?"
Jade and May went upstairs a short while later. Jade started a load of laundry, mixing their 'dainties' then did the colors in another load while setting aside the rest for a regular load. Meanwhile, May explored her new home. "I love this place!
Rushing into the girl's room, Jade looked around in a panic, "What?!"
"I love this pace. Screw Auburn!"
"CAT!?" At May's blank look, Jade realized what she said. "Sorry, it's just you reminded me of my old friend."
"It's okay, Jade. Hey, is your real name Jade?"
Jade was about to give her a smart ass comment then remembered her own alias. "Yeah, Dad had a thing for a character on the old Jonny Quest cartoon when he was a kid."
"Oh, Race Bannon's sort-of girlfriend!"
"Yeah, sort of cool. For a cartoon chick, she was pretty damned hot!"
"So are you, Jade. And really cool. And a great friend." She pulled Jade into a hug, saying "Thank you so much. For getting me out of there. For letting me live here and for having me meet Bea. Now I have a good job and I owe it all to you!"
Jade amazed herself by accepting the hug. She amazed herself even more when she realized she liked it.
April – May and I had a nice talk while the first load was running. We avoided talking about the place we met and what happened there. I knew it wouldn't be that easy. Undoubtedly harder for May since she was there longer and was younger when she started. Got me to thinking about maybe getting those douchebags busted for abuse of underage girls. I may talk to Bea about that. She's the sharpest person I've ever met. Or maybe it's just nice to talk to someone who's not paying for the company.
Unfortunately, while I was working, I was too embarrassed, and often too tired, to try to build any kind of friendship with anyone outside of the club. Not that were a lot of people to choose from around there. But April, who I'm forcing myself to remember, is May, was the only one I really liked there. We got to know each other when we'd walk to and from the roach motel together if our shifts matched.
One other thing I didn't mention to either of them, I find myself looking over my shoulder a lot. On the way to the diner and back this morning. Even when we left the club to walk the few feet to the apartment's entrance. I don't think those ass clowns will search for me but what if they're in the area and see me? But, this is the Irish mob from Jersey, not the Russians in Brighton Beach – those whack jobs never forget. Or forgive.
Last load is in the washer and the second load is in the dryer. I'm going to follow April's… Damn! May's plan and take a short nap. Last night was pretty tiring.
I can practically hear Tori – Vega say, "No shit, Catherine Obvious!"
As Jade and May entered the bar, Bea came up to Jade and said, "I was serious this afternoon. You don't have to work just yet. Maybe next week? I think you and May can use some down time to start getting over that…place."
"No, I can do it."
With a smile, Bea gently elbowed her and, in a stereotypical New York accent, countered with, "I don' think so. Yer mug'll scare de payin' customers…"
Seeing Bea's eyes dart to the back room several times, Jade finally nodded, "Thanks Bea. You are the best!"
"Don't you forget it!" Bea laughed. "Go see your friend. After tonight, they're heading on to Providence or Boston or some other damned historical site."
The band was relaxing before the early show but, after the initial Cat-like hug, Tori was distant. Jade remembered her being that way before performances in school. Jade settled for sitting with Tori as the singer psyched herself to perform.
As the band started to leave the room for their performance, Tori stopped and grabbed Jade, pulling her to her feet. "What the hell happened to you?"
Jade knew she meant the bruise on her cheek. Shaking her head, she told Tori, "Had an accident last night. It's no big deal. I'm fine. Go out there and kill 'em!"
This time, Jade watched from the wing of the stage. The band was great and the music was flawless, except for a moment when the upper E-string snapped on Drake's guitar. A professional, he gestured to the band and stepped off to change guitars. Ten seconds tops and, likely few noticed. But Jade had.
Not nearly as much as she noticed Tori. The girl was awesome. Her voice had never been better – maybe since she wasn't doing pop crap anymore – and she was cool, relaxed and subtly sexy on stage. I wonder if she knows how sexy she is? Hold the phone! Sexy? Vega?
Yeah, Tori's sexy alright.
From her vantage point, Jade saw how the footlights and the ceiling spots lit her friend up. Enough to showcase her stunning beauty. And to highlight her brown, flowing locks. Not to mention her cute cheekbones.
Wait! Stunning beauty? Cute? What the hell?
Tori started to sing again and Jade's train of thought quickly derailed.
The first set ended and Jade was back in the room with the band. A couple of them were sharing a pinch-hitter, the smell of weed drifting to Jade's nostrils. The other two were raiding the buffet while Drake replaced his broken string. The backup singers were also helping themselves to the food. Tori was relaxing and smiled at Jade.
"Hey, Vega. Good show." In an uncharacteristic gesture, Jade looked around the room, "All of you did a great job!"
They acknowledged Jade's compliment, knowing she was special to the second lead singer. Who said, "Jade, that was…nice."
"Yeah, well, don't get used to it…" Jade snarled, but with a smile.
She walked to the door and led in a young woman, "Tori Vega, this is Apr…May Carson. She's a huge fan."
"OH MY GOD! You're really her! Tori Vega!"
Tori smiled indulgently, "Yes, I am. But it's okay. You don't have to be nervous. I'm just like you…"
Jade internally grimaced, You have no idea how wrong you are…
May and Tori sat and talked, the girl from upstate New York slowly becoming used to talking to an up-and-coming celebrity. By the time Tori introduced her to Drake and the band, she was visibly calmer. Calmly, May even got them all to sign one of the extra 18x12 old school posters Bea had printed and spread around the neighborhood.
Time passed with Tori and Jade getting a significant amount of personal time, talking about everything other than Jade's recent past – "I'll tell you about it sometime, Vega." – but soon enough, like the night before, it was time for the second set. As Tori rose to follow the band, she pulled Jade up. Jade stared at their joined grip, wondering, When did we start holding hands? Tori finally released her grip with a smile and Jade was struck by the thought, Why does my hand feel so empty now?
Instead, she said, "Go make some magic, Tori."
The second show was another smash. The audience was on its feet for an encore and another and even a third encore.
Jade was waiting in the ready room backstage when the band finished their third encore. Drake whooped as he came in, "That crowd was on Fi-yere!"
Tori was pulled into a hug. Drake wasn't nearly as suffocating as an old friend back home. "TORI! You were aweSOME!"
Jade stood back, biding her time. In a few moments, Drake turned to the other members of his band. Jade stepped up to Tori, "You were awesome!"
Smiling sweetly, Tori asked, "Do I get a hug? A little Tori squeeze?"
Snidely, Jade said, "Wouldn't it be a Jade squeeze?"
"Whatever. Give me a hug!"
"Wow, Demanding Bitch Vega… I think I like it," Jade replied, even as she moved into the open arms.
After far longer than Jade used to wait to force a hug to break, they parted and sat on one of the old sofas in the back room. Drake actually got them drinks before he went off to see about spending some quality time with one of the new backup singers.
"He's such a dog," Tori laughed.
"Did he ever…"
Tori didn't let her finish when she said, "Oh hell no! Well, he tried… I actually think he likes Trina."
"Trina?! Trina Vega? You have got to be kidding me!?"
"During the first week I sang with them. All the shows were in LA or San Diego. Trina came to see every show and they seemed to hit it off. Long story and one I'm bored with. Let's just continue to catch up. I have to be honest, I really missed you Jade."
"I didn't know it until I saw you but I really missed you too, Ve…Tori."
They fell into an easy, simple conversation like the night before and between shows. Jade asking about old friends back home and Tori asking about what Jade had been up to. Not surprising, Jade deflected those questions, promising herself she'd tell Tori the truth.
"Okay, gang, time to pack up for Hartford!" Drake called out. "Tori? Hang with your friend, we got this."
Tori smiled gratefully, "Thanks Drake."
"But you get to unload in Hartford!"
Tori stuck out her tongue at Drake even as she moved a little closer to Jade. She gazed at Jade and said, "I've wanted to do this for a quite a while. Until last night, I thought I'd never get the chance…"
Both hands gently held Jade's face, fingers caressing her temples and ears. Jade's eyes closed and she felt warm breath on her injured cheek.
"Should I kiss your injury? Always worked for me." Without waiting for Jade to say anything, Tori's mouth gently settled on her bruised cheek and rubbed those soft lips very gently over the skin. Then she did the same on the other cheek.
Jade didn't make a noise but damn her if it didn't feel good.
Tori moved slightly. Soft lips pressed to Jade's and the former Goth felt a warm shudder flow through her body. The kiss held for several seconds then those soft, warm lips pulled back. The soft hands retreated as well.
Slowly, Jade opened her eyes and looked at Tori, seeing worry in that beautiful face. She didn't like that expression or the feeling Tori was experiencing. But all she could ask was, "How… How long have you wanted to do that?"
Tori blushed lightly under her natural tan, "Um…since I had to help you get your boobs into that stupid hamburger."
Jade found herself laughing. Tori smiled shyly then joined in.
Finally, the laughter died down to giggles then a comfortable silence. Tori broke the silence, "I've never heard you giggle. It's cute."
"NO! I don't giggle and I don't do cute!" Jade argued but then laughed. She wouldn't admit it, not yet anyway, but she remembered enjoying Tori's hands on her tits. Even as the Latina tried to get Jade in the costume, she had the gentlest touch.
Jade leaned in and kissed Tori, her lips moving against the Latina's. When she felt Tori's lips part, Jade slipped her tongue in. Once it touched Tori's, Jade felt a real jolt – like the proverbial electric shock. Just like those stupid romance novels Cat loved.
The Kiss – Jade would always think of it as The Kiss – deepened. The two simultaneously pulled the other closer.
They enjoyed this new closeness for several minutes, only occasionally breaking for air before resuming. The only thing that stopped them was a voice from behind them.
"Ahem! Um… Tori? Tori. Everything is packed up. We're ready to hit the road," came the voice.
"Damn! They're done already…" Tori moaned.
Jade held her cheek softly and smiled sadly, "Where to?"
"Hartford then down to New Haven then Providence and Boston. Bangor and Augusta then Canada."
"Why are you leaving now? You'll get to Hartford at like 2 AM or so."
"I dunno. Drake likes to drive at night. Less traffic."
"Will I see you again?"
"Who are you and what have you done with Jade West?" Tori laughed as she rose and pulled Jade to her feet again.
"I've been in a dark place. A couple of weeks ago, I heard you on the radio and… You know Triumph?"
"No, the band. From the '70s." Tori shook her head. "They weren't huge but they still get airtime on classic rock stations. Anyway, they had a hit Magic Power about a song on the radio helping a girl. Well, that girl was me and the song was from…" Jade pointedly waited for Tori to connect the dots.
"Ding-ding-ding! We have a winner!" Jade shouted like a sideshow barker. Then, in a gentler tone, said, "Yeah, you goof. You saved me. You gave me a map out of hell. You and Bea saved me. I…uh… I guess I…"
"It's okay Jade. I just wish I knew you needed help sooner."
"That's the Tori I know, the klutzy helper…" Jade quipped.
"Hey! I'm not a klutz!" Tori tripped then, fake as hell as far as Jade could tell, and fell into Jade's arms. "Now you saved me."
Another long, loving kiss with Jade whispering into Tori's mouth, "Bullshit."
Finally, reluctantly breaking the kiss, Tori stood up straight. "I… I have to go. I don't want to but…"
Jade held her hand, "Tori, you know where you can find me now. If you want."
"I want to. Um…do you?"
"You have to ask?" Jade asked as she pulled Tori in one last time. After that kiss, she asked, "That answer your question?"
Tori floated through the rest of her tour.
I have no idea what happened but it was the greatest thing I could imagine! I have a real job. With the greatest boss ever! And a great place to live. I mean really nice. Furniture, drapes, dishes and not a single roach to be found.
And best of all, I re-met Tori Vega.
I met her to fulfill my promise to April, I mean May. I got April her autographs on two pictures and her cds – including the newest with Drake Parker. I even got Parker's signature, after I brushed off his attempts to get me in bed.
In fact, I found myself enthralled by Tori. I never expected that.
I mean, I was always fascinated by her. Even when I thought I was repulsed, I found my focus was usually on her. Even if I wouldn't admit it at the time.
I don't know what Tori and I have right now but it is so much better than anything in my life that I don't care. I'm…
I'm just happy.
And now I have to confess why I'm so happy…
I don't know what happened but I kissed Vega! I fucking kissed Tori Vega!
And she kissed me back!
Well, she kissed me then I kissed her and… What the hell! We kissed. Deeply. Not like sisters or friends…
Know what? I loved it! That first kiss was the best kiss of my life. And the other kisses were just as intense! Just as great!
Beck was a great kisser, don't get me wrong. But Tori Vega… It just felt so…right. So perfect. Like a fairy tale…ugh!
And I think Tori felt that too. Without the 'ugh'. I can hardly wait until she comes back after her tour. We have some things to discuss.
I have her contact information so when I finally get a new phone and internet access on this old PearPad, we can email or text or even chat. Maybe video chat,,,
Chat! I never chatted. I hated it. But with little Sweet Sally Peaches, I think I'm okay.
Magic Power? I'm really starting to believe.
Post-script Note: Again thanks to everyone who reviewed, favorited, followed and read this story. There are threads dangling after the end of this tale but those will be dealt with in a sequel. Don't know when that'll be posted as it's still just in my head. Also, there's a lot going on right now in my life so I don't have as much time to write as I had. Then again…I'll probably need a distraction or twelve…