So I just started watching Victorious last week, and Cat/Beck have easily become one of my top five OTPs. I seriously love them beyond words, and I just really wanted to write something for them because there's not as much out there for them as there should be - though what is out there truly is lovely!
I was just about to go into an incredibly long rant about this piece, but I think I'm going to try this new thing where I don't babble on in Author's Notes about everything I think could have come out better. I am going to say that I'm sorry in advance for any typos - this isn't Beta'd, I just looked over it quickly myself.
It's early August of the summer before senior year, and there's this unsettling feeling that's just been gnawing away at him ever since school let out for the summer and his parents instantly started in on him with that, "What are you going to do when you graduate, son?" stuff like they've just been sitting around and waiting to pick him apart with it. They want to know exactly what his plan is, exactly what his future will consist of. It's always: Will you go to college? Will you become a performer? If so, what kind of performer? How exactly do you plan on supporting yourself? What will you do?
He just feels stuck. He feels like he's literally stuck in time - part of him just keeps pulling himself back into the past, back into what his life used to be and what he still sometimes wishes it was, and the other part - along with his parents - just keeps pushing him forward, pushing and shoving him into a future that he feels he has no control over, a life he's unsure of.
Somewhere he knows that he should keep the past in the past, that he shouldn't revisit every single decision he's made to the point where he's always second guessing himself. He just can't help but wish that he could back to the simpler times, back to before he was faced with all of these decisions. He yearns for the years before he parted ways with Jade, though he knows that it was the right thing to do because they both felt that they were only still together out of routine. He knows this just as he knows that dropping out of that writing class in junior year was a good move for him, because he wanted to take an extra acting class to improve upon his skills. He knows that all of the decisions he's made are okay, that the change was necessary and moving forward is imminent for everyone. Somewhere, he knows this.
But then he cuts to the present - cuts to now, when he's not just deciding between which electives he wants to take the following year, he's deciding what he wants to do for the rest of his life. This is a life-altering question that everyone's faced with at some point or other, and he realizes this, but that's not the problem. He's not like André, who's deciding whether or not to write music or play his own. He's not like Trina, who's deciding between being a comedic actor or a dramatic one. He's not like Tori, who's deciding between Broadway and Hollywood. The difference between him and his friends is that his friends know what they want to do - André wants to be a musician, Trina and Tori want to be actresses.
Beck just doesn't know.
There was a time when he thought he wanted to be an actor, simply a man who portrays characters on a stage. Then, he started thinking about becoming a dancer - still a performer, but a different kind. After a short period where he set his sights on acting again, he thought about pursuing a career as a musician. Now he's questioning whether or not he even wants to be a performer, going back and forth in his head between all of the options laid out in front of him time and time again until he's dizzy.
She calls him one morning, out of the blue.
He's laying sideways on his bed, head hanging over the edge as he pushes out all thoughts until the only thing he can feel is the blood rushing to his skull, when suddenly his phone vibrates from his pants' pocket. It's strange to hear her voice on the other end, not because he just doesn't check the caller ID before answering but because he's not quite sure when the last time he actually talked to her was. As her voice floats through the receiver, he decides that the last time he saw her (and now that he thinks about, most of his other friends too) was at a party that André threw for Fourth of July.
She wants to know if he'll go to Venice Beach with her in the afternoon because her parents are out and her brother has been sleeping for a day and a half and Tori can't go because Trina's dragging her to some show in Hollywood and Robbie says that Rex doesn't do well in the sand, and he's sure that there are a thousand more reasons that she's prepared to give him but he tunes out until she stops to take a breath. He opens his mouth to respond, but she starts up again with a rather lengthy story (even for her) about how she thinks it's a shame that they've never really hung out, just the two of them, before and now that she thinks about it, he's a lot like this kid Billy she knew in Kindergarten that she was always friends with but never really friends with until one day he shared his Cosmic Cobalt crayon with her during arts and crafts and from then on…
"Cat," his voice stops her from continuing. There's absolute silence on her end, and he's not sure if he says what he says next because he actually wants to or because just wants her to stop talking for a little while, but nonetheless he adds, "I'll drive."
The image of her in the front seat of his truck is strange at first, like she doesn't fit.
She doesn't fit, not in the sense that the seat's too big for her or her arm's not slung comfortably out of the window like Jade's always was, but in the sense that her spotless white and blue polka dotted beach bag doesn't seem to belong resting amongst the clumps of dirt underneath the passenger seat and it seems odd to watch the way that her fingertips strain to turn the broken knob of the radio as if she can simply un-break it if she just keeps twisting.
But, as much as she looks out of place to him, as the drive progresses and she laughs airily at something that he says or tells him this incredibly detailed account of how she chose her cereal that morning or starts singing along loudly to the faint song they can hardly hear playing from the speakers to fill in the words that the static cuts out, it starts looking to him like, in a weirdly wonderful way, she fits.
When their drive comes to an end and he pulls into the parking lot, he pulls the key out of the ignition and runs to the back of the truck as she stays to collect her bag off of the ground. He reaches into the back to pull out a cooler that he'd packed in a hurry before they left, and as he grips the cooler with one hand and shuts the door with his other he can feel the cooler start to slip out of his grasp when suddenly the weight seems to lighten. When he turns he sees Cat, bag slung over her left shoulder and magenta hair blowing in the sea breeze, and she wraps her fingers tighter around the cooler's second handle as a small smile spreads across her lips.
Freely, he smiles back.
And so, for a while, they are stuck together.
It's a different kind of stuck than he's been in all summer. Granted, it's the same as far as the generality of being held in an unmovable position goes, but being stuck with Cat just - it feels nice. They live in a world where the lines between dreams and reality blur more and more with each sand castle they build or songs that they sing on her kitchen floor, and where time seems to slow to the point that it's nearly nonexistent. It's stuck, in the greatest possible way, and they remain contently stuck with it.
On the second Tuesday night of August, they stargaze from the top of his RV.
Not surprisingly, it's her idea. They'd just been sitting inside of it, Beck on the carpet with guitar in his hands as he strums a melody that he's making up as he goes along and Cat laying on his bed, when suddenly she says aloud with her eyes glued to the ceiling, "I wonder how tall this RV is."
"Why?" he asks in return, a question he's gotten used to asking around her.
"Well I'm just trying to figure out if we would need a ladder to get on top of it or not."
They do need a ladder. The problem is that the only one that either of them have access to is one of those miniature ones that are a mere two steps, which provide all of about ten inches of height out of the twenty-four that they would need. Beck, being taller, guides Cat to the side and tries to improvise by taking a running start at the ladder (something that Cat finds rather amusing) but he ends up just colliding with the windowpane - something that Cat finds especially amusing. She runs to his side, still shaking with laughter, and grips his arm in case he loses his balance, although they both know that she would hardly be of any help when she's laughing this hard and she's a good foot shorter and thirty pounds lighter than him anyways. Suddenly he actually does lose his balance, and like they both figured, she just topples over with him.
On the ground, they laugh until their sides hurt more from laughing than the impact of the fall.
When they recover, she tells him to try using the indent of the window as a stepping stone and, after a small exchange in which he refuses to further injure himself and she insists that he risks it, her plan proves to be a successful one. Once he's on the roof, she places her foot on the window and tries with all her might to climb it by herself but the moment he realizes she's still wearing those three inch heels, he takes her hand and pulls her the rest of the way before she can slip.
"Thanks," she beams once she gets to the top, and he lets go of her hand once he knows that she's safe from falling.
For a while they just sit there, Cat still getting used to the height and Beck still wondering to himself how in the world he actually let her talk him into this.
But eventually they lay down, Beck facing the road and Cat facing the opposite way toward his house, their heads so close that a stray piece of his hair keeps tickling her temple. She giggles, and he doesn't ask why so she doesn't tell him and just lets it keep tickling her. Above them, the sky is prominently dark but with each passing minute it seems to become brighter and brighter as more stars appear before them, illuminating it.
They're quiet for a while, watching the sky and the stars and the moon in silence as they let their own thoughts float through their heads. The only sounds they can hear are crickets that chirp in the distance, a faint giggle from Cat every now and then, and their breathing.
"Cat," he says softly, breaking the quiet. She doesn't respond but he knows that she's cleared her head and is waiting for him to continue. "What do you want to be? You know, like career-wise."
"I want to be a performer," she states without hesitation.
"What kind of performer?"
He laughs at this. "Really?"
"Well, I want to make people smile. There are lots of ways I can do that - like acting, or singing, or dancing, or miming…"
"Why not?" she quips. He lets out another laugh at this, and doesn't question her further. A silence settles between them again, a few moments of utter quiet passing before she asks gently, "What do you want to be?"
He knows he should have seen this question coming, but it still catches him off guard. It's the question he's been asking himself all summer.
"I," he starts to speak but realizes the moment he opens his mouth that he has nothing to say.
"A performer?" she supplies for him.
"Well yeah, a performer," he sputters, "that's what going to Hollywood Arts is for."
"What kind of performer, then?"
He starts that internal back and forth thing again, switching between acting and singing and dancing and acting again and for some reason none of them seem to fit with him. They've never fit, and it's just now that he begins thinking that maybe they're not unbefitting in the same way that Cat was when she didn't seem to fit in his truck that first day. They're not unbefitting in the same way that in the beginning, the mud colored tint of his steel toe boots seemed to clash with the rainbow carpet of her bedroom. Both of those things changed - they melded and bonded and meshed until they fit perfectly, but these career choices of his… they're just not changing.
"I don't know," he says aloud, not really meaning to but still partly in a haze.
"Well," she senses the uncertainty and apprehension and confusion that he's feeling but still says hopefully, "maybe you can be a stunt double! You remember our fake fight scene in sophomore year, don't you?"
"Yeah," he responds and, despite his uncertainty and apprehension and utter confusion, he laughs. Freely, he lets the laughter out and allows his memories of their stage fight from all those years ago to consume him until miraculously, he feels safe again.
They co-write a three-act play two days later.
Neither of them are too sure on how they decided to, they just remember that they'd gone for a drive on Thursday morning and somehow or other ended up discussing a film they'd both seen recently that seemed so promising but turned out to be a flop and how it could have been a commercial success if certain parts were written better. The next thing they know, they're sprawled on her living room floor in a sea of piles and scraps of white lined paper.
It starts out as a simple story of boy meets girl, but they decide to scratch the idea two pages into it. He's just about to crumple what they've written so far and toss it to the side when suddenly she reaches up to stop him, grabbing his wrist with one hand and pulling the paper out of his grasp with her other one.
"I thought we said that it was too overdone," he furrows his brow as she lays the paper out flat on the floor and smoothes the wrinkles.
"No, no, no," she says quickly, "we can make it work."
So they turn the boy into a wizard, and they turn the girl into a princess that's fleeing her kingdom. When the princess is scaling the walls of her palace (with rope from the dungeon that she ties around her bedpost, of course) she accidentally slips and the wizard just so happens to be walking in the rose garden underneath her window (because they decide that for the sake of the story, this palace doesn't need guards and is easily accessible to all common folk) so he catches her with his magical force when she's inches from hitting the ground. He runs away before she can see him though, and watches from afar as she looks around to find her savior. You see, the major conflict is that the wizard has fallen under the spell of some potion which makes him frequently lose control of his powers, and he's afraid that if he's around the princess he'll lose control and turn her into a frog or something - it's all very tragic.
While they're writing the scene in which the wizard finally introduces himself to the princess, after following her for the majority of Act I to make sure she's safe from harm, Beck asks what exactly the point of their story is.
"I don't know," Cat shrugs simply, scribbling something down on a piece of scrap paper. "We'll figure it out in the end."
He just smiles, and watches as her brow creases and she erases a few words on the page in front of her.
On August 29, they make a scrapbook.
About a week and a half before, Cat had bought a vintage Polaroid camera and started documenting what each day was like from her eyes. She didn't photograph everything, although she wanted to - Beck had to talk her out of it by explaining that she would need way more than just the ten rolls of film that she could afford would cover - and instead simply captured the defining moments, in her opinion, of each day. Some are serious, some are goofy, and some just cannot be categorized.
The first photo they glue to the off-white page of the book is of the two of them standing on top of a swing set. They'd spent the day at that playground, sliding and spinning and swinging and see-sawing until their limbs were sore. Surprisingly, it was Beck's idea to climb to the top of the swing set - though Cat had eagerly agreed to it in an instant. So they climbed, fell down a few times, laughed, tried again, fell again, tried a third time made it all the way to the top. A mother and her child had been passing through so Cat asked if she would take a picture of them, and the woman kindly agreed. Once Cat had successfully managed to toss her camera down to her, Beck and she stood up and spread their arms wide, open to the wind as they closed their eyes and fell into a fit of laughter that the mother captured on film.
On the same page, they place a photo of this baby turtle they found at Venice Beach one morning. It had probably just hatched, Beck told her, and they followed it all the way to the ocean as it made it's journey. A couple of times he got stuck behind some rocks that lay in the sand because he was just so little, so Cat would carefully push the rock away with the tip of her index finger. Beck points out with a smile that you can see her finger on the top left corner of the photo.
They turn the next page and glue three photos on it. The first is of Beck on the top of his RV, guitar in hand and dusky sky behind him, that Cat had taken secretly from the end of the driveway when she arrived at his place for dinner. She told him later that she liked the way that he played when he didn't know anyone else was around. The next is of an incredibly large and meticulously crafted sand castle they built on the same morning they found the turtle - Beck had taken that one, just before Cat decided that they should dive headfirst into it like it were a pile of leaves in autumn. The last is a photo of the inside of the hood of Beck's truck, filled with grease and smothered in smoke that floats around because the engine overheated. He uses a sharpie to draw an arrow to a photo they glue on the next page of Cat with a scrunched nose and grease-covered cheeks that he'd taken because she insisted that she could properly inspect the situation.
On the next page, they create a montage of photos they took when they acted out their three-act play in her kitchen. It was Beck's idea to act it out, but Cat would have no part of it until she'd dragged him to the nearest dollar store to purchase Harry Potter glasses, a wand, and a cape and pulled apart her closet in search of a fluffy cotton candy colored dress she wore for Halloween one year. They spent the rest of the night talking about how Emmy worthy their performances were.
After gluing down another week's worth of photos that fill the entire book, they flip it back over to the cover and add the final photograph. It's of the two of them - they're sitting on the steps of her front porch, her on his lap as his arms are slung lazily around her waist and her hand is wrapped around his shoulder. With her other hand, she holds the camera out in front of them and before she snaps the picture, she lays her head in the crook of his neck and he rests his head on the top of hers.
They decide not to officially title the scrapbook, but scribble Forever August on the bottom right corner.
On the last night of summer, they're sitting on a park bench with glass jars on their laps.
Her eyes are to the sky, squinted in concentration as she scans the darkness. His line of vision remains straight, eyes squinted as well, as he too searches for their target. They are completely still, remaining calmly motionless in their position, knees bumping slightly every now and again. Their breaths are short and quiet.
Suddenly, they hear a buzz from above her head. As quietly and slowly as they possibly can, they shift their bodies until they're both facing the direction in which the sound is coming from and that's when they are able to confirm that they've found their target - a firefly, floating in its lonesome in the late summer breeze.
She snaps into action first, jumping on top of the bench. He stands too, on the ground, and rests his hand securely on the small of her back so she doesn't fall as she reaches with all her might for the, now panicking, bug. It begins to fly away toward the trees and she makes this funny little noise that she always makes that's somewhere between a laugh and a scream, her mouth open in a smile as she leaps off the bench and chases after it.
He watches from afar as she runs in its direction, and eventually she starts skipping because, as she once mentioned to him, she thinks that skipping is not only more fun than running but also more effective. He laughs when the firefly picks up speed and she stumbles a bit to catch up, letting it lead her in an endless circle around the park until finally it makes its way back to the bench and begins to slow again.
She slows too, bending at her knees as she ever so slowly tiptoes toward it. He takes a couple of steps in her direction, lightly and softly as to not disrupt the scene that's playing out before him, and bends down next to her.
"Shh!" she whispers.
"Sorry," he whispers gently in return. He leans closer until his lips are centimeters from her ear and begins again, "Why are you so determined to catch this one?"
"I'm not determined," she states, moving forward a few steps.
"So what do you call this?" he asks, gesturing between her and the firefly.
"The chase," she shouts suddenly, swiftly leaping up onto the bench and scooping the firefly up into the jar in one fluid motion. Quickly, she seals the lid before it can escape and buckles her knees soon after so she can sit on the bench. "It's the best part," she adds with a laugh as Beck follows suit, sitting down next to her and unconsciously resting his arm on the top of the bench behind her head.
He watches as she lifts the jar to eye level, the moon illuminating her features in the night as the beaming light of the firefly makes her eyes sparkle when she spins the jar in her hand. There's this look on her face, one he's seen many times before but never took the time to really look at. It's that look of pure fascination, like she's discovering something for the first time and is just burning to know each and every little thing that she possibly can about it.
When she turns to him, her eyes connect with his instantly and a gust of wind sweeps past them that brushes streaks of magenta out of her face, and his eyes travel down to the small remnant of a smile on her lips. Something about this moment is special, neither can quite pinpoint why but they both know that it is - and suddenly, his lips press softly against hers. It's chaste, this kiss that's innocent and subtly exhilarating, and neither one of them knows exactly what this means but somehow they're both okay with that.
When they pull away, she's still smiling and he can feel the corners of his mouth twitch upward into a smile that he returns to her, and as her cheeks color slightly she lifts the jar to eye level once more before turning to the wind and looking at the firefly one last time before she unscrews the lid of the jar to let it fly free again.
And for once, as they sit on a park bench at midnight and watch the firefly's burning light fade into the distance, he thinks that maybe - maybe, it's okay to move forward. Maybe it's okay to explore all of the possibilities, to discover and try new things even if he ends up just letting them fall out of his grasp and fly away.
Maybe, with Cat, he's found his way again.
As always, reviews are encouraged and constructive criticism is appreciated.