Beck likes to travel a lot. All over the globe, with a backpack swung on his back and the same easy smile on his face that's on his almost filled passport. He's always wanted to travel, even when he was a little child, with his silver toy cards acting as the perfect get aways, and then when he was older, with his silver RV already parked and ready to go. Finally, he's living the dream now, with his smile already packed into his suitcase, and he doubts that he could be any happier.
He likes the view of endless white that he sees from high in the sky, the feel he gets from flying. He likes the taxi cab lights that seem to stretch out on an endless road filled with skyscrapers, hotels and motels, and the smell of alcohol and smoke forever embedded in the black tar.
He skips along the cracked pavement after the taxi drops him off, even though it's one o'clock in the morning here (it's only eleven in L.A). He follows the trail of stubbed out cigarette butts, some of them still glowing and lighting his way. Shards of glass, drunken laughter and glimpses of colourful fabric manage to put a smile on his face before he's even reached the warmth and welcome of the hotel room (and stained anything with his fingertips).
Tori calls almost every day.
Her name pops up on his screen against the backlight of his phone (she always did like to be near lights), and manages to fill the dim bar with a slight glow that illuminates his skin. Voicemails from Tori are also common, but even so, he rarely deletes them; he likes to hear her voice. Out of everyone, Tori's the one that has kept in contact the most. He smiles as he looks down at his phone, some numbers faded more than the others, the white starting to wash away.
He presses a button and smiles as he waits, taking a sip of his drink.
He leaves some time after that, a grin on his face and the taste of beer still bubbling on his tongue as he stumbles slightly against the cracked pavement. The lights are still shining that night, but he doesn't go home (or back to the motel).
If you asked him where he was going, he wouldn't know. Still, he'd give you an answer. He'd tell you that he wanted to see everything there was to see, figure out where he wanted to be most of all in the world, whether it be near flashing lights or a sandy beach with only one set of footprints (but he always wanted two sets).
Or, maybe he'd tell you that he just liked the sleazy motels with the flickering lights and the worst champagne, but had the bestfuckingvodka ever. Laughing, he'd tell you that he was just on a quest to find the worst motel, and then see if he could survive the night (everyone knows that he'd survive, of course).
(And because he's Beck, you'd believe every single pretty word that he said.)
He's seventeen and a half.
His vision is blurry, but he can clearly make out that the person standing only a couple of feet away from him is Tori. She's wearing a little black dress, with a purple ribbon in her hair, and holding yellow pansies in her hands. She looks gorgeous – fuck, she really does (even with all that black, and the grey sky, and the dead grass under their feet, and he knows that he should hate it, really. He knows).
She starts to open her mouth, but before she can say anything, he hugs her, as close to his chest as possible as he buries his face in her hair, trying to lose himself in it (she smells like apples and lilies, and in a way, he hates it). Gently, she puts her arms around his neck, and he can't help but think about how warm she is, and how nice if feels against his skin.
(Jade liked red roses, not yellow pansies.)
It's a year later, and he still can't stop thinking about it.
Secretly, his travels are filled with one night stands and dirty little secrets hidden in black lipstick and red scars. He entangles each whisper he utters with a lie, each bruise he creates as his strong hands enclose around a petite body and he pulls her onto his lap. The sheets are still itchy and they still smell of sweat, but they're a little less cold and just a little lonelier than the night before.
He hates the smell of whiskey, of cheap red wine that darkens your mood and blurs your vision, but suddenly, it's the sexiest thing in the world when he tastes it on his tongue, smells it on her skin. He focuses on painted nails as they travel up his skin, still tasting sweat soaked skin as he licks, bites, sucks.
He hears bottles crash onto the floor, stained glasses glimpsed out of his peripheral vision, but ohgodohgod, just who the fuck cares when her hands are on him? Sharp pain stabs at his hand as shards of glass break his skin, but he ignores it, even when he stains her arm with blood (you think she doesn't notice that tiny little tear that slides down your face and onto her skin. You're right, she doesn't).
He still can't care the next day, in fact, when he wakes up with a foggy and painful but ohsofamiliar head, no meaningless names swimming in his head (oh you wish, darling) as he frees the bed of his weight. Creased sheets, a once warm bed, and a slam of the door is all that stays in his memory until he leaps onto another plane.
(Welcome home, Beck.)
He tries to forget, oh god, does he try. Still, everything, the memories, the words, the senses, just everything comes back over and over again until he can't stand it. They come back in the form of glitter and nail polish and unfading bruises, smiles swimming throughout them. Usually, they're the last things he sees before he goes to sleep.
(Sometimes, they come back up and choke him, burning his throat, and it's never seemed to taste so bitter.)
It's five in the morning. The air is chilled, and only half the sky is pale blue, and you can still see paling stars (he hates stars), as well as a faded mood. The city is dull at this time; motionless except for the shadows that are strewn behind him. The lights don't shine, the cars don't rush past, and the sunshine can never get past the tall skyscrapers.
He can still taste the alcohol and smoke on his tongue, feel the scratches and the lipstick staining his body as he walks back to his hotel. He has a plane to catch in two hours. The city names have become as meaningless and unmemorable as the girls, he realises .
He finally reaches his motel room (and now he's just another number as well), and the doorknob is cold against his palm, and the door is stiff to open, and it all just seems far too unwelcoming to go inside. He does anyway, only to collapse on the hard bed as soon as he's inside.
He grips the bed covers, wanting to shred them in his hands. He can still taste the kisses, can feel the taste of them mingling in his mouth – he wants to be sick. He knows he shouldn't, he really does (but just fuck it – up). Hands on hips, neck, in hair, yes, lips everywhere, pants and breath and whispers in his ear.
Money isn't his concern. After all, for a little while, he worked a couple of jobs and stored it all up in his bank account, even though he didn't plan this. Didn't plan anything like this at all, actually.
Plus, there's the money that his mother left him with and he's been saving that for a rainy day for ages now (and now it never stops raining).
He doesn't like to think about what his dad left him with.
( T O X I C )
If you asked him where he was going, he'd tell you he didn't know, didn't care. He just wanted to go somewhere.
You'd believe him.
If you asked him how, how he'd get there, how he'd cope, how he'd survive, he'd tell you that he'd find a way. Tell you that he'd run everywhere, anywhere (nowhere). He'd just run.
He'd be telling the truth.
He's sixteen when he gets his first car (he buys it with his own money, if you really want to know). It's an old, light blue convertible, because he loves the wind in his hair and on his skin. He drives it before he gets his licence, going to the beach at sunset and wishing that Jade was here with him. He watches as the ever blue waves roll in the sea, crash on the sand. Watches as the wind makes the trees sway and blow the sand across the beach; watches as a boy goes home and miss his sand castle being destroyed (that happened to him as well).
The second time he goes out driving, he takes Jade. He still doesn't have his license, but Jade says she doesn't care, and he believes her. They drave to the beach again, further up on a cliff this time, and watch the beach in action. Its waves, its people, everything. After that, they make out in the back of his car until sunset, going back to RV with grins on their faces and holding each other's hands.
He doesn't take Tori driving until he's got his license firmly in his wallet, just in case she asks. He doesn't take her to the beach though; he takes her to the movies. He still has a good time, but he doesn't go home with the sea on his skin and sand in his hair. He misses that.
There's one girl that he remembers. All the others are just a blur of faces with no names and no defining features (hands, nails, lips, skin, bones, that's all you ever were, all you ever will be). This one though, he remembers; the paleness of her skin, her blue eyes, her long hair, the feel of her touch, her nails, her kiss.
He didn't love her, of course. Didn't even know her name, didn't feel a connection with her.
But he still noticed the scars. They littered her body, on her thighs, her arms, even her stomach. He didn't see them in the dark at the time, too busy with the fury of their kisses and bites, too carried away by the feel of her skin on his. He didn't notice them under his fingertips, didn't see her wince slightly when he scratched at her thigh.
He sees in the morning, when she's basked in white light from the opening window (she looks a lot like Jade when she's like that, but he tries not to think about that). He sees them, those pink and red marks. He also notices the small dots and smears of blood on the sheet, her frown when he touches her in her sleep.
He doesn't realise how long he's been staring at her, but now he's only got two hours to run back to his hotel and get his stuff, and then get back to the airport for his flight. It's the only time that he's vaguely reluctant to go, especially when he notices the newly placed razor by the bathroom sink.
He thinks he should wake her up, thinks he should say goodbye, do something, but he can't do it.
So instead, he runs.
As soon as he gets home, he vomits blood.
(But that's not even his worse dirty little secret.)
He goes home, and he knows it's one of the biggest mistakes of his life as soon as he steps through the doorway (that really, should have an overarching walkway with the words 'Welcome to Hell' curled in black, with s h i n i n g and f l a s h i n g lights all around).
As soon as he's back, it's like silver ribbons have encircled his wrists and trapped him, his freedom wrapped in a pretty red bow a thing of the past. And already he misses it, so, so much.
He tries to forget reality, tries to dig himself into a pit of fantasy and comforting delusions and dreams. He sleeps with the silver ribbons tight around his wrists, and a faded and creased picture close to his chest. Consciousness and unconsciousness swap continuously, being broken with thuds and prettylittlepills and quick brushes of a light hand across his forehead which he hopes he didn't feel.
That his picture will be in his hand when(&if) he wakes up is one thing he knows for certain (the other being that he already knows he'll never dream again).
The last months are filled with tears and hour long phone calls, reuniting hugs, constant knocks on his door, and childhood nightmares that could actually be memories (he's too tired to remember). He leans his head against the tiles, hoping that they'll cool him down – but they never do. He digs his nails into his palms, focusing on the pain when he hears another shout and another thud (fuckfuckfuck, just go a w a y ).
Eventually, he digs his bloodied hands into the pockets of his jeans, decidedly ignoring the mirror and his reflection (he can't even recognise himself anymore), the smell of alcohol, and everything else that isn't the door as it slams shut behind him.
Even though he can't run anymore (but you'll go away again, and I don't want you to leave), he still likes to walk. It reminds him of the early mornings he would spend in those countless cities, watching the sunrise in the reflection of a skyscraper; catching all those taxis as he watched the morning come to life in a blur. For once, he even misses the plane rides, the feel of only air beneath his feet.
It's the same walk over and over and over, always with a single flower in his hand (a sad little sight, really). But, at this time in his life, where else would he rather be?
His eulogy leaves out a lot of things. Like how his favourite colour was navy blue, or how his favourite thing about Jade was her eyes, or how his silver RV got christened when he and Jade lost their virginity to each other. It leaves out that when Tori came to Jade's funeral, she wore a purple ribbon in her hair, or how a week after Jade died, he fucked Tori against the side of his RV, right underneath the stars as he gripped her hips tight enough to leave bruises. It leaves out his dad didn't even care when he got diagnosed with leukaemia because he was passed out in the stain of his own vomit, and how if you ask him what his first memory was, it's of the smell of cheap whiskey.
(If you'd asked about what his favourite memory was, it would be of Jade's head on his lap as he stroked her hair – a first and a last time.)
It leaves out that he spent the last years of his life running away from everything, from everyone, rather than just travelling. He realises that everyone who sits in the chairs as they listen to departing words knows that he didn't try to contact anyone, probably thinks that he forgot about them (he didn't). It forgets to mention that he was still in love with Jade when he died, how Tori was in love with him, and how he knew all along. It forgets to mention that he hated whiskey because it reminded him of all the bottles that lay strewn along the carpet, their contents staining perfect white.
Tori gives the speech, and she's the first one to break into glittery tears, just like she did when Beck called her to say that he was starting to lose his hair (– his beautiful, beautiful hair and how it felt between her fingers and how the RV felt against her back). She only manages to get halfway through it before she says goodbye with a choke and a kiss, laying down a white rose upon his coffin (only Jade knew that he secretly liked violets).
Then, with all glazed eyes on her, Tori lets go of one single silver balloon, letting it fly away in the strong wind, watching as it gets stolen by the sky. Slowly then, everyone disperses, and the silver balloon is invisible against a grey sky.
(The white rose gets swept away in the changing wind, following the silver balloon. It tumbles along the ground, going along an invisible trail, with no guidance but the harsh wind pushing it along. Finally, the white petals start to fall off the stem
o n e b y o n e , still travelling along the road.
The petals reach the beach and join in with the sand as they drift into rolling blue. Swept along by the current, the petals keep moving, small dots of white battered by the sea. Slowly, they start to sink, no longer strong enough to fight.
And then, the last petals sicks into the blue depths of the sea.)
Disclaimer: I do not own Victorious.
A/N: Inspired by the song, City Lights by Parade the Day and 'flashing lights' by seemslikeaporno.
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