so yeah. long time no see. SORRY ABOUT THAT. no excuses... but college has been 1000 times more stressful this year, and so my writing hasn't been a priority, sadly.
but, this chapter is done (yay!) and that's a good sign, at least.

also... there should be a jade/andre oneshot of mine being posted sometime in the near-ish future. because let's be honest-jade/andre is lovely.

and so, I would like to thank my reviewers, because they have kept faith that there'd be an update. thank you all SO MUCH. your words of support mean the world to me. seriously, it's so nice to have words of encouragement from you.

without further ado, here's the latest chapter! hope it was worth the wait.
(chapter lyrics are credited to regina spektor for her song one more time with feeling)

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hold on
one more time with feeling
try it again
(breathing's just a rhythm)
say it in your mind until you know that the words are right
(this is why we fight)


Students were milling around in the main hallway of Hollywood Arts, playing instruments, talking to one another, and generally enjoying the few free moments before classes started for the day as Jade was busy shoving her things into her locker. Andre was seated cross-legged on the ground next to her, absently playing with a keyboard app on his phone. Still, he was alert enough that he noted Jade's sudden stillness before she turned to look down to him.

"You know what? I'm starting to think that—"

"Yeah, Jade?"

"Don't interrupt," She held up a finger, "I've been thinking… that maybe quitting the play was a bit… dramatic, no pun intended. I mean, sure, at the time I was mad at Beck—no, I am mad at Beck, and it was sort of awesome to see his face fall and everything, but I don't know. Maybe it was too much. Besides, it was Hay Fever. I would have made a great Sorel. Well, understudy for Sorel, actually; thanks Vega. But that's beside the point right now."

Andre rose from his spot on the floor by Jade's locker and gave her a serious look.

"So what you're saying is… maybe you're done making Beck feel worse about what he did?"

There was a pause.

"Yeah," Jade finally replied, closing the door of her scissor-covered locker, "I think I'm ready to finally just… let it go. And not in a fake dramatic way, I mean it in like… a 'Hey, you really wanna date Tori? Go for it, Champ!' kind of way."

Andre frowned.

"Wasn't that sarcasm right there?"

Jade sighed, tossing a lengthy violet curl over her shoulder.

"Well, there's always going to be some sarcasm. But really, if they want to be together, it's really not my place anymore to make them feel any more awful than they should now. After all, love knows no boundaries or some trite crap like that."

"Sarcasm?"

"Andre!"

"Sorry. But seriously, is this the Jade West… taking the high road?"

She punched him solidly in the arm, but couldn't hide the small smile on her lips.

"Ugh, it's gross, I know. But honestly, I might as well take the high road, seeing as I've got all this free time now—no play, no boyfriend. Maybe I should take up a hobby."

"Taking the high road…" Andre grinned, "what's next? Volunteer work?"

"Hey, let's not get crazy."

"So when are you going to give him your… blessing?"

Jade groaned.

"Unfortunately, it has to be soon. I'm tired of avoiding him. I'm tired of driving to school with you—"

"Rude."

"Shut up. I'm tired of eating lunch in the practice room."

"So that's why there are always crumbs on the keyboard…" Andre smirked.

"Shut up. Okay, I'll tell him today. Wait, no. Maybe tomorrow…"

"Maybe?"

"Ugh, fine… today. Now c'mon, I hear Sikowitz brought in more coconuts today. There's nothing I love more first thing in the morning than a sad, lonely man having visions."

The two of them gathered their things and made their way towards their next classroom, only to be stopped by Tori a few feet from the door.

"Oh, Andre, hey, and uh, hello, Jade," she hemmed and hawed nervously, digging the toe of her boot into the tile floor, "I was wondering, can we… can we talk, Jade? Just us girls?"

Jade lifted a pierced brow, and Andre nodded in agreement.

"Well then… I'll catch you two ladies in class!" He waved off, visibly smirking.

Sighing, Jade shook her head at Andre and gave the girl a dark look.

"Fine, but make this quick, Vega. The Sikowitz train wreck is happening in mere minutes, and lately my life holds little joy as it is."

Without another word, Tori grabbed Jade's arm and dragged her off towards the nearest janitor's closet. When she had assessed that they were truly along in the room, Tori let out a shaky exhale and looked up to meet Jade's gaze. She nervously tucked and untucked her hair from behind her ears, bit her lip, and then let her shoulders droop.

The old Jade would've taken this moment to pour coffee over Tori's head—hot, steaming coffee. The old Jade would have screamed and scratched at the girl who not only rubbed her boyfriend, but kissed him as well. But the old Jade was gone, replaced with a new Jade, who was equally dark but too emotionally drained to fight. Submission went against her grain under normal circumstances, but she found herself slowly getting used to it.

"Jade, I hardly know where to begin. I… I'm so sorry. I'm sorry for flirting with Beck, and kissing Beck, and just… in general messing up your relationship with him. I know I've been really awful. Can you ever forgive me?"

Jade just stared at her folded hands for a solid minute. Nervously, Tori spoke up again, wondering if the dark haired girl in front of her even heard a word of the apology.

"Um, Jade?"

Jade's eyes snapped back to Tori, and her gaze narrowed.

"Look Vega," Jade snarled, "your track record? It sucks. You've kissed my boyfriend, then Cat's boyfriend, and then mine… again! So yeah, maybe you want me to forgive you, maybe you feel bad for ruining so many relationships. And you know what? You should feel bad. So if the only reason you're all in my face with your crocodile tears is so that you can clear your conscience; well sorry, I'm not going to pardon you."

Tori bit her lip and raised her wet eyes to plead with her.

"But…" Jade continued, albeit begrudgingly, "if you do actually mean it, and you prove it to me, then… well then I'll think about it. Forgiving you, that is."

"I swear, Jade, I swear that I'm so sorry. I've been a real bitch; I know I have. I've even apologized to Cat again, and I'm trying to prove to you how truly sorry I am. Please, just give me another chance to make it up to you. Beck won't even talk to me. I've tried to apologize to him, but he keeps saying that he has to fix things with you before he can even think of apologizing to me. He really loves you, you know."

"Don't bring up Beck—"

"But I have to," Tori interrupted, her tone serious, "because this is about him too. I know you're mad at me and I know you're really mad at him, but you should at least hear him out. He's really miserable—he never meant for any of this to happen. And I know it's not my place to even be mentioning him—"

"You're right, it's not—"

"—but, you should listen to what he has to say. He loves you. He's a good guy; don't let him get away. I know you and Beck broke up because he kissed me, but nothing has happened since, and nothing is going to happen again. I promise."

Jade was silent, and Tori took it as a sign to continue.

"I mean, I'm not going to lie. I really liked him a lot, and I thought he liked me too. But I tried to talk to him the other day and he totally blew me off so he could try and work things out with you. He's so in love with you, Jade. I was stupid enough to think that he wasn't."

"So?"

Tori furrowed her brow.

"So, I guess what I'm trying to say… is that even though he was stupid enough to kiss me, it really didn't mean anything; especially to him. Jade, I know you and I haven't really been close in the past, but I do consider you a friend and I would never, ever intentionally hurt you or Beck. Honestly. I just… I got in over my head and then I thought that maybe he… no, it doesn't matter anymore because I promise not to think of him like that. Besides, we're friends, Jade; you and I. At least, I think we are. I just want you to know that I'm not going after him now that you two have split. He doesn't like me in that way, and we're just better off as friends, and just friends. So, I'm sorry. I'm sorry for making you worry over him when you were dating and I'm sorry for letting him kiss me and I'm sorry for—"

"Tori," Jade interrupted, holding up a hand to silence her, "it's… well it's… ugh, it's all right. I mean, it wasn't—and I was all set to not like you for a very long time—but I… I know you're sorry. I mean, obviously you are, seeing as you won't shut up about it. But I know that you mean it. So whatever, you're forgiven. I guess."

There were tears of relief in Tori's eyes when she hugged Jade tightly, squeezing the breath out of her lungs.

"Oh, Jade, thank you so—"

"Okay, okay, that's enough touching. No, seriously, Tori. Christ, let me go," Jade grumbled, though there was considerable less bite behind it, "like I said, Sikowitz. Coconuts. Let's move it, Vega."

Tori was all smiles as she followed Jade towards the acting class.

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By the time they entered the room, there were still a few minutes before the starting bell sounded. As predicted, Sikowitz was unconscious and sprawled out on the small stage at the front of the classroom.

"He's been hitting the stuff pretty hard, lately." Robbie supplied, noting the look of disgust on Tori's face, and the amusement playing at Jade's lips.

"I heard that he's living in his van right now, something about a fight with his mom. Oh my gosh! That reminds me of that time my brother was—" Cat chimed in before Rex cut her off.

"It's rude to talk with your mouth open, Red!"

"What's that supposed to mean?" She cried, affronted.

Robbie covered Rex's mouth with his palm, earning him a bright smile from the formerly pouting girl next to him. Tori took a seat on his other side and gestured to the open spot on the aisle directly to her right, hoping that Jade would accept the offered olive branch.

The only other open chair was on the other side of the room where Beck and Andre were currently seated. Jade groaned audibly. Andre watched her struggle to choose the lesser of two evils, the wide grin on his face growing as her own mouth tightened into a harsh line. She mimed slicing her throat while she glared at the pianist, and begrudgingly took a seat next to Tori.

As she faced the front of the classroom, she missed the look of pure surprise on Beck's face, his eyebrows nearly disappearing into his hairline. He turned to Andre and tilted his head back towards Jade.

"So she's forgiven everyone but me, huh?" He whispered resentfully.

"Look," Andre confided, "she's still hurt, but you're probably next on the list."

"Of forgiveness?"

"Of… honest discussion, at least."

Beck sighed.

"At this point, I'll take what I can get."

"Hey, Beck!" Jade's voice rang out in the classroom. Sikowitz stirred, snoring loudly, but he did not wake.

He practically gave himself whiplash as he turned to face her, hoping that the achingly hopeful look on his face wasn't as glaringly obvious as it felt.

"Yeah?"

"I…" she started, trying very hard to ignore to look of triumph on Andre's face, "We… are going to talk. Later today. During… lunch, perhaps."

"Sure, of course, I would… I would lo—appreciate that. Where exactly?"

His voice sounded so desperate in his own ears, and the whole classroom was listening with rapt attention, but he couldn't bring himself to care. Jade—his Jade—was speaking to him.

Jade seemed to finally notice that the rest of the room was hanging on their every word, and her mouth tightened noticeably.

"I will text you the location."

There was an audible sigh of disappointment when the place was not revealed to the entire room.

"Perfect, sounds perfect. I'll, uh, talk to you then."

Jade merely nodded her head and turned back to face the front. A moment later, the starting bell rang loudly, jolting their teacher from his coma-like state.

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Several class periods had passed at a snail's pace, leaving Beck anxious for his conversation with Jade. To be totally honest, he had no idea what to expect. He couldn't imagine that she'd pull him aside, merely to force an apology out of him—especially when she had made it abundantly clear in recent weeks that he was the last person she wanted to talk to. He hoped she didn't want to yell at him, though that wasn't entirely out of the realm of possibility. Whatever was going to happen was going to be interesting, to say the least, and couldn't happen soon enough.

Multiple times during the course of the morning, his phone buzzed in his pocket and he grappled wildly for the device, only to find that he had imagined the sensation of the vibrating alert of an incoming message.

Lunch came and went—no word from Jade. He tried to ignore the ache in his chest.

The real text message from Jade didn't arrive until the afternoon, as Beck stood in line at the coffee cart before his sound and lighting class. The guy running the register drummed his fingers on the counter impatiently as Beck whipped out his cell phone and scanned the new message hungrily.

New Message from Jade West

I was going to meet you in the janitor's closet, but it seems that Sinjin has set up some sort of strange hideout there… Anyway, the alcove by the eastern entrance is quiet. Meet me there?

"Dude," the coffee cart employee in front of him snapped, "you gonna order today or what?"

Wordlessly, Beck walked away from the cart and headed towards the eastern entrance to the school, typing a reply as he went.

Reply to Message

Absolutely, I'll be right there.

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He saw her before she saw him. Jade was seated on the floor, her back against the brick wall of the entryway as she crossed her long legs out in front of her. In her hands was a sturdy pair of scissors and what looked like the poster of Shakespeare that had mysteriously disappeared off the wall in Sikowitz's room.

It was in this moment that the severity of his previous actions hit him full force. He missed her; he missed her more than he thought was possible. He was most surely an idiot for thinking that she wasn't exactly what he wanted, what he needed.

"You're lurking." Jade's voice called out, interrupting the sound of snipping paper.

Sheepishly, Beck stuffed his hands in his pockets and ambled towards her in what he hoped appeared to be a relaxed manner.

"Just mourning the unnecessary mutilation of the Bard." He joked.

This earned him a half-smile, but it was soon covered with a more serious expression. Before she could rise and set a stiff, determined stand of defense, Beck seated himself on the floor opposite her in the entryway. He knew something was amiss from the way she avoided his gaze.

"So, I asked you to join me here because I was, well… I was a bitch to you the other day when you were trying to talk to me, and I figured that you had something you needed to say. At least, something to get of your chest."

Beck nodded, trying in vain to catch her eye.

"Jade… I'm sorry for everything…" He ventured, not even sure where he was going with his sentence.

She tilted her head towards him, but still kept her eyes lowered as she carefully chose her words. It almost seemed as if she was struggling with what to say as well.

"Look, I know you're apologetic, and I appreciate it," her voice wavered, "and so I guess… I just wanted to assure you that whatever you want to do with… Tori, or whoever at this point… it's okay with me now. I know I was upset before, but if you want to be with her, or anyone else, I'm not going to sabotage you both or anything."

Her words sunk in quickly and a scowl immediately darkened his features. He was apologetic, sure—but he wasn't going to take this lying down. For him, this was never about moving on. It was about getting her back.

"Stop, Jade, just stop it. I've told you, I was stupid to kiss her and I get that. But I don't want to be with her, Jade. You know that I don't."

"No," she raised her head, voice bristling, "it turns out that I didn't know that at all."'

Things were escalating fast.

"How many times do I have to tell you? It didn't mean anything. It was… stupid and wrong and I'm sorry. I'm so sorry."

"I get that you're sorry, I do. But if you claim so much affection for me, why did you even do it in the first place?"

Her voice was growing louder, just as his fists were clenching tighter.

"Because you were jealous, you were jealous over everything. You were resentful over Tori and I couldn't seem to convince you that there was no need to be."

"So you kissed her? How does that even make sense?"

"You drove me to it!" Beck shouted, "You were so obsessed with what you thought I was doing with her, that I just snapped, okay? Tori was there, and she wasn't yelling at me or making me feel useless, so I kissed her."

There was a heavy silence, and Beck tried to reign in his anger. It wasn't very often that he let his temper get the better of him—usually it was Jade who let her powerful emotions control every situation. His heart was pounding behind his ribs as he waited for some sort of response from Jade. Once his anger began to ebb away, he was instead filled with the sickening sensation of guilt, and Jade was still eerily silent.

She finally shook her head slowly and placed her scissors on the ground at her side. Beck noticed that her hands were trembling slightly.

"I… was obsessed with it; I know. I had convinced myself that you were in love with her, because… I could barely convince myself that you loved me."

His brow furrowed deeply.

"What? What do you mean?"

She took a shaky breath and his heart lurched.

"All the time, you would joke about breaking up with me, about how inevitable it was… like our relationship was a big joke and it meant nothing to you. And …you'd joke about it in front Andre and Tori and everyone, and God, Beck… she'd just smile so wide at you. Like you'd be free from me any day."

He felt his stomach drop.

"Oh, God…Jade, I never meant for it to—"

"And you would never tell me that you loved me—"

"That's not true," Beck protested, "I tell you all the time!"

But she shook her head.

"No, no I had to force it out of you all the time. I'd make you say it to me, Beck, but you'd never say it on your own."

His face fell.

"I didn't realize—"

"I mean, if you never meant it, that's something else entirely… and I get it. But if you didn't, you should have just broken up with me, instead of leading me on for two years."

"Jade, I love you." Beck insisted, his voice steady with the truth of it.

"And that's the funny thing. Since we broke up, you tell me all the time. But I don't know what to think anymore. I don't know what it means when you say it."

Again, silence fell over the two of them. Beck's eyes stung and his throat felt too tight for words. Jade had lowered her eyes again and from the tilt of her head, it appeared as if she were eyeing the scissors once more.

"Jade," He finally spoke up, "I know that… I know we're… but do you…?"

"Do I what?"

"Do you still love me?"

At this point, her eyes snapped up and she stared at him.

"You're such an idiot."

"Jade…"

"Of course I do, Beck! You don't love someone for two years and just… all of a sudden stop. Not even if they kiss another girl. Twice."

Tentatively, he reached for her hand. She didn't move, and he took it as a good sign.

"Then please, please, give me another chance. I hurt you—I hurt you so much, and I've been a bad boyfriend, but I love you and I want another chance for us."

"Our relationship wasn't healthy, Beck. How can we be together if we can't even trust one another?"

With his free hand, he raked his fingers through his hair.

"I don't know. I… don't even know where to start. But I know that we both still love each other, and I know that I miss you, and so all I want is another chance to work this out with you."

She sighed, but the hand he clasped in his own finally gripped his fingers back, and his heart soared.

"I have to think about it."

And with that, she slipped her hand from his, snatched up the scissors from the floor, and stalked away from the entryway. Beck was left alone with the clippings of Shakespeare's face, and felt the smallest sensation of hope for the first time in weeks. Jade having to 'think about it' was excellent news; it meant that not only did she have an honest and heartfelt conversation with him, but that she acknowledged that he was still in love with her. Maybe now, maybe this time he could fix the things in their relationship that sent them to ruin before. He knew what it was like to be without her, and he didn't want to feel that way anymore.

And most of all, he didn't want Jade to be hurt over him ever again.

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voila! so what did you think? reviews would be lovely. thank you all for reading!

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