WARNING: This is completely AU. No Hollywood Arts High school, no Jade/Beck meeting beforehand, and no other characters except Jade & Beck, though Mr Sikowitz is mentioned.

Also, this story is set in college.


In Jade West's first year of college, she becomes a little bit stressed. It may just be the fact that college is a lot different than high school, or that she's only been there a month as she's never seen so much homework before in her life, maybe it's the fact that every five seconds, a new 'Missed Call' message appears on her mobile, or maybe it's just the crappy quality of campus life. She doesn't really care, to be honest. As long as she gets her daily cup of black coffee, she's fine.

Unfortunately, coffee doesn't make the feeling of stress completely leave her body, even if it numbs it for a little while. Already, she's been offered the chance to drink her worries away, to sneak a cigarette or a puncture of the arm behind a corner. She's turned each one down; she actually wants to do well (it has something to do with the perfectionism already in her veins, which isn't really genetic).

About four months after she first steps into her dorm room, she's walking around the campus late at night, with her vision a bit blurry from lack or sleep, and a rush running quickly through her veins, which is probably due to the fact that she managed to hand in he project on time, and that she's had five fucking phone calls already today – and enough is just enough (just a quick trip around the corner won't hurt, right?).

Leaning against the wall, she presses her forehead against the plasterboard, her skin suddenly feeling overheated and her fingers itching and clenching without her consent. Her backpack feels heavy, and her lips are tingling like she's just been kissed, and somewhere in her head, there's a voice telling her to get back to her dorm room.

"Hey, are you alright?" She hears a voice ask. She looks up to focus on warm brown eyes that are wide and tired, a blur of other facial features which she doesn't really catch, and then, she feels lips pressed against hers, and a flannel shirt clenched between her fingers. Soon, she's being led back into closets, and her fingers are unconsciously undoing buttons, and the images of clichés are crossing her mind.

Twenty minutes later, she's running across the campus, shirt on back to front, refusing to look behind her even though the image has been burnt into her brain, the flood of repeats of still yet to come. But she keeps on running, even though she's perfectly aware that it's already too late, and that the poison has already set itself in her veins.

.

A couple of months later, Jade is doodling on the back pages of her book just like she did in high school. She's been reciting Shakespeare since she was five, and no, this lecture about him is not at all welcome, even though that boy that just answered a question has a lovely voice. This lecture also isn't welcome because, hell, a week ago the teacher, Mr Sikowitz, asked her to write a four thousand word essay on the guy and his work, and unlike everyone else, she did it.

By the end of the class, she's managed to draw in three pages of her exercise book, and the lecturer has given all of the class another week to copy and paste an essay about Shakespeare into a Word document, or, in his words, write an essay. Grabbing her worn backpack from behind her chair, she reaches into it to dig out her essay, walking up to the front desk and dropping the stapled pages onto it with a thud as she explains that she finished early.

To her surprise, another paper drops beside hers, and a voice behind her says that he's finished too. His voice has a memory attached it, like clarity in a fog, and she looks out of the corner of her eye to see warm brown eyes that confirm her beliefs. She tries not to look at him, wants to get away, but her feet seemed to be glued to the grown even after the teacher has gone and the door has shut behind him.

She can't move, can't look up at him, and he won't seem to leave. She'd say that there was a force attracting them to each other, but the only force she's ever encountered would be attraction, and she finds that a pretty weak force to reckon with. Still, she's looking for anything to grasp onto to explain her own actions rather than blame her own fucked-up, masochistic brain.

"I've got a free period now," the boy says. She looks up to see his grin a lot closer to her face then it was previously, and she quickly takes a step back. She looks him straight in the eye, noticing that he still wears that same easy grin.

"So do I," she says finally. He takes a step closer to her as she leans against a desk until their hips are touching and she can see the tiny flecks of amber in his eyes. Gently, he brings a hand up to her neck, tangling itself in her hair. He pulls her head back, leaning in to kiss her neck before beginning to undo her shirt. After that, it's skin on skin and re-surfacing memories.

As she puts on her shirt, she sees him come up to her, his grin returning on his flushed face. His hair is messy, and his shirt isn't buttoned up properly, yet he still seems calm. She swallows her urge to run away, and looks him straight in the eye before looking down at the object in his hand.

"You're not supposed to give one night stands your phone number," she says, but she takes it anyway, crumpling it in her hand and shoving it deep into her pocket. But he just smiles and casually walks out the door. She frowns when she realises that she's going to be late for her next class.

.

Despite her internal protest, a couple of weeks later small pieces of white paper with little black figures imprinted on them emerge. Her adrenaline is pumping through her veins, her heart is beating too quickly and it's all making it too hard to think as she presses unfamiliar numbers onto her phone, the first time she's used it in months.

The sound of ringing in her ears has never sounded more pleasant.

"Meet me in my room 202. Now," she says as soon as he answers. There's a slight pause where she can only hear her breath echoing in the phone, before she hears what she thinks could be the sound of a slight, smug chuckle on the other end.

"Sure," he replies, and she can clearly hear the smirk in his voice. "But, seeing as this is the third time we've done this, what exactly is your name? I'm Beck, by the way." She pauses before answering.

"Jade."

All he's left with is a dial tone in his ear as he grabs his jacket and slams the door shut behind him.

.

Because they're both doing the same degree (they're both just pretty little liars that call themselves actors, really), they happen to be in the same course. In the beginning, they don't talk to each other that much, but after a little time and a couple of shared nights, they go from classmates to after-hour distractions, to friends to sex buddies. (That's an improvement, right?)

The first play in the course is Shakespeare. No one's surprised.

Most of the rehearsal hours are spent remembering lines rather than practising them, or sorting out costumes even though the actual performance is weeks away. Most of the time, Jade and Beck sit together at the back, able to recite a whole page of their script without a single pause – they're not even playing the leads.

"I'm bored," Jade complains. She looks over at Beck to see his eyebrows raise and the beginnings of a smirk on his face. "Not that type of bored." Beck continued to raise his eyes.

"I give up," says Jade.

"You're bored but not sexually bored?" Beck suggests.

"Sure, let's go with that," Jade replies.

"Jade, Beck, you're up!" Mr Sikowitz yells.

"Why is my name Jade?" groans Jade as she got up from her chair, finishing her cup of coffee and tossing it into the bin.

"A rose by any other name would smell as sweet," Beck recites. He grins at her, unfazed when she glares at him and crosses her arms.

"Don't go back to the sixteenth century, ok?"

"Wasn't planning on it."

.

After the performance, Jade's face is filled with a rare smile, her veins are filled with adrenaline and her head is filled with glitter and the colour of prettyredlipstick, and the sight of the audience in front of her eyes. She's still focusing on the feel of the performance, the thrill of getting up on stage, the way the words feel on her tongue and the costume fills against her skin.

After Mr Sikowitz congratulates them, they go out someone's friend, who knows another person, who knows the guy that is having a party in dorm 158. The beat of the music can be heard from five metres away, and the shouts, laughter, and wave of words can be heard from four.

It's the type of party where there's skin on skin, mouth to mouth, and beer bottle to tequila shot glass. The room smells of cigarette smoke and alcohol and sex, and somehow, Jade seems to fit in. She takes one sip from a lip-stick stained glass, and the adrenaline already in her veins seems to be ramped up to a thousand.

Her vision and judgement becomes hazier, and somewhere she can make a dim connection between this night and the night a couple of months ago, though that thought quickly disperses when a cold glass is placed in her hand. Colours start to swirl again and oharenttheypretty? And, oh, those little pills remind her of home, and she can still hear the performance ringing in her ears.

Somehow, she manages to find her way back to Beck, his face still flushed. She giggles slightly as she feels denim beneath her fingers and breaths against her neck and, oh yes.

Her complete focus is on Beck, and the haze in her eyes becomes just a little bit clearer and there's more adrenaline in her veins than sin. She looks him in the eyes, looking at that familiar and now, comforting smile of his as he grabs her hand and leads her away. After that, the claps from the performance become pants, words become whispers, bright lights become brown eyes, and stage kisses get confused with memories.

She wakes up with a hangover, an empty bed, five new messages on her phone, and mascara tears on her pillow.

.

"Come and warm me up!" Jade shouts into the phone. She hangs up without hearing an answer.

Ten minutes later, Beck manages to make it halfway across campus in the middle of a particularly cold night at two o' clock in the morning. He meets Jade at her door, where she practically drags him to her bed and pushes him down against it, before hurrying to the warmth of under the covers herself. Carefully, he presses himself against her back, where he finally gets the courage to wrap an arm around her waist (this time, he can't even blame it on the adrenaline or the alcohol).

She doesn't push him away.

"You know, I do believe there's this thing called a heater," he says softly.

"So you want me to encourage Global Warming?" she mumbles against the pillow. "And before you ask, I've used up all the blankets I have, so just shut up." He's about to ask another question before she rolls over and presses her face into his chest. He shuts up then, though he tells himself that it's because he wants to let her sleep.

.

Sometime after she was no longer able to count the number of times they'd had sex on her fingers, Jade woke up with Beck right by her side.

"You were supposed to leave," she mumbles, still getting rid of the sleep from her eyes. She manages to untangle his arm from where it holds her tightly to his side, moving away from him as she reaches for her clothes.

"It's Saturday, and it was too cold at four o'clock in the morning to move," Beck replies, frowning slightly as he the sun shines too brightly in his eyes.

"Why, exactly," she says as she pulls her shirt over her head. "Where you awake at four o'clock in the morning anyway? Usually you leave at about seven – I hear you."

"Hmm, yet you never ask me to stay," Beck says, reaching over the side of the bed for his clothes. "Your phone woke me up, actually. Surprised it didn't wake you up as well."

Jade stops dead in her tracks, halfway through shrugging her jacket on. She looks at him, his eyes inquisitive and his eyebrows raised, but he doesn't push for an answer. Slowly, she finishes putting her jacket on, combing her fingers through her hair hurriedly. She looks him straight in the eye again, shoulders stiff and her lips pursued together.

"I learnt to sleep through it," she mutters. She grabs her keys off her desk and shoves them quickly into her pocket, turning her back to him as she heads for the door.

"I gotta go," she says, looking at him dismissively. "Lock the door when you leave, ok? Bye." (It's the first goodbye she's given him.) With that, she slams the door and hurries out of the building.

"It's Saturday," Beck says.

.

They only ever kissed once, on that first time. They've tried it again.

It didn't work.

.

He kisses her neck, unbuttoning her shirt without even looking down as he straddles her. He pauses once her shirt is on the floor, with his fingers near the button of her pants. There's something in his eyes as he trails his hand over her body, from her narrow hips, to across her stomach and her subtly protruding rib cage, to the back of her neck. He leans down, and for a second, she thinks he's about to kiss her – terrified of it, in fact. But instead, he begins to trail kisses along her body, and she manages to breathe out an inaudible sigh of relief.

She knows that she's not really supposed to hear what he says next, that he's probably not even aware that he said it. She barely even heard it, merely a whisper against her skin, his breath spelling out the words. Her head isn't quite fully cleared as she begins to form the words on her lips.

You're so thin.

"I had anorexia when I was fourteen," she says it casually, but already she has glassy eyes and she clenches her hands as tightly as she can until her fists are as white as bones without flesh. He doesn't say anything, merely continues and throws her pants somewhere neither of them can currently place on the floor.

She doesn't look him in the eye the entire time after that.

.

She gets up early in the morning, with the light from the sun penetrating her light white curtains, covering her with some kind of ironic halo. Beck's still by her side, but she manages not to look at him as she gets up, putting on her underwear and a too long t-shirt.

She wants to run away, but even she can't run away from her own dorm room, and it's a Saturday anyway (and, in a secret and scary way, she doesn't even want to leave). Instead, she sits near her window, letting the sun bathe her in light, and waits to hear the sound of a closed door. She huddles herself into a little ball as she waits, trying not the thing about all the things she'd managed to forget, like how her fingers are bony, and how her hips are too narrow and too sharp, and somehow, she hears a nagging little voice in her head that tells her it would all be better if she was thinner.

(She doesn't want to cry anymore.)

He comes and sits next to her without saying a word. He looks out the small window as well, even though there's nothing to look at and her eyes glazed over with dreams and memories quite a while ago. Still, he lets her take her time, and she doesn't question why the hell he's doing this, because somehow it makes sense (he's Beck).

She comes back to reality and the first thing she notices is how the sun reflects in Beck's brown eyes, and that the first word that pops into her head is pretty. The second thing she notices is his shoulder, and how he has a light, pink smattering of tiny scars there, which she originally thought was a tattoo. She sees his fists clench as he notices her staring, but his eyes show now resistance, only a slight touch of remorse.

She reaches her hand up to his shoulder, her fingers lightly touching the old but never forgotten scars, not feeling anything beneath her fingers but somehow imagining she can. She can somehow make sense of it; make up a reason to why the scar is there in the first place even without words. Beck's eyes turn away from the window to the wall, and her hand rests as her mind wrestles itself about what she should do.

She kisses him.

It's messy, and it's awkward, and there's no rhythm, but it gets the job done because soon Beck has pulled her into his lap, and they've broken apart, and now they're focusing on other things, and they know this.

(It's Jade&Beck in their most fucked up form, she thinks, but she doubts that there was ever a Jade&Beck to begin with.)

.

She walks into her dorm room one day after her last period, and the first thing she sees as she slams the door shut is her sister, oh god no. Kaylee's there, sitting on her bed, smirking that same old trademark smirk that Jade's sure she's seen since she was only six months old.

"Hey, lil sis," Kaylee says. "Nice hiding spot you got here, though, not the best spot in the world. It's college, Jade, not paradise."

"What the hell are you doing here?" Jade spits out (learntobiteyourtongue).

"Finding my lil sis after she ran away from home because mummy got sick and she was scared," Kaylee bites back. "Oh, you owe me three hundred dollars for the plane ticket."

"Can we just be nice for a change?" Jade asks, exasperation in her voice. "And I owe you nothing because no one asked you to come here, ok?"

"I'd like to point out that I wouldn't have come here if you'd picked up the damn phone," Kaylee replies.

"I have homework to do," Jade says, dropping her backpack on the floor, her shoulder feeling oddly light now that it's not carrying a weight. She sees her sister purse her lips together before falling back onto the bed – her bed. She clenches her fists as she sits down at the desk, her mind far, far away from anything having to do with acting or scripts or glitter&lights&smiles (and already she misses it).

"Broke up with Adam," Kaylee finally says (she nearly drops her pencil and jumps out of the window – but she's Jade West and she's not overdramatic and she's not that sort of masochist).

"Mhhm," Jade replies (and even that seems to crack and choke in her throat). "You know I hated him, right?"

"Mum says hi," Kaylee continues. "Though, you would've heard that if you actually listened to some of the messages we sent you."

"Shut up," Jade mumbles, slumping down against her desk as she feels a headache coming on. "Just shut up and go away."

Silence hangs in the air, and oh god, it's awkward, and the memories and the words are pounding themselves into Jade's head and justshutupshutup and whyohwhy won't you leave?

She glances over at Kaylee, seeing her head turned to the side, looking out at the crack of window behind the curtains, her eyes glazed and her breathing slow. She turns her head to look at Jade just as she turns her head away, back to looking at the words that blend together into a meaningless pile of black.

"Just say it," her sister says.

(But her lips are sealed because Jade West doesn't break a promise even if she's the most trustworthy liar on the planet.)

"No." And she can practically hear the stubborn determination in Kaylee's breathing.

"Are you going to come home?"

"You going to go back to Dad's grave?"

(It just s l i p s out and it tears her life apart and then Kaylee's blue eyes are filled with rage and they're so familiar and her brown eyes are wavering.)

"Fine, don't come home,"Kaylee says. "See if anyone but you actually cares."

Her sister shuts the door and Beck comes in, and all she can do is stand there, looking at him, before she collapses to the ground and breaks down as he cradles her in his arms and she cries into his shirt as if she needs support and if he can give it to her.

(And then they're right back to where they started – acting.)

.

She ignores Beck for a week after that. She runs out of class rooms and locks the door as soon as she goes inside. She buries herself in work and projects, snatching a look at her phone every now and then, expecting a missed call message to bring back her nightmares. But that's right; there are no more calls because it's all resolved and everything is fucking well broken. She's just handed in one of her projects when she feels the sharp pain of a headache coming on so strong that has to lean against the wall, pressing her hand to her head.

"You alright?" She hears a voice ask softly. She doesn't even have to look up to know who it is, but she does anyway with half-opened eyes and bleary eyes against too bright lights. She nods mutely as she feels all the stress that she's tried not to feel coming back, along with a sense of neurotic déjà vu. Beck smiles.

"So," he says. "Do you want to do homework together?" He stuffs his hands into his pockets and starts to rock back and forth on his heels slightly, a grin still on his face. She manages to mumble out a no, but it lacks her usual wit and sarcasm, and she hates it.

"Well," Beck says. "I want to anyway." She suddenly finds herself too tired to argue with him.

"They go back to her dorm room and begin to do their homework. There's only silence, except for the occasional click of Beck's pen, and Jade's anxious pen tapping against the table when she's not writing.

"I ran away from home," she says suddenly. "And my sister did as well. And I've only ever had one boyfriend, and my family life is kinda fucked up, and I'm still not sure what I'm even doing here, with you, right now. And before I ran away, my sister's boyfriend tried to rape me (and he called me pretty), and I still haven't told her because I promised myself I wouldn't. And the first time you met me, I was high because everybody wouldn't stop fucking well calling me," she adds hurriedly, somehow unable to stop.

"And my dad was an alcoholic, but only after he left us. Before, he was…happy."(And I don't want that to happen to you.)

(B E C K is B E C K and J A D E is J A D E and they are B E C K and J A D E .)

.

They sleep together about two weeks after that.

(They're on the couch, with their clothes on and a thin blanket over their bodies. But Beck's arm is still around Jade's waist and she sleeps and has no nightmares, and the morning afterwards they get up without a word and work out the door, side by side.)

.

Jade kisses him a week after that – on his cheek.


Disclaimer: I do not own Victorious, or the title, which belongs to the Jimmy Eat World song of the same name.


A/N: Tell me when I bore you, k?

So, apparently Jade/Beck have become my OTP fluff (I have different OTPs; some for angst, some for fluff, some for tragedy etc.).