Disclaimer: VICTORiOUS ain't mine. It's Dan Schneider's. As always. The Little Mermaid isn't mine either, of course.
Chapter 5: Bonding Over Sleepless Nights
Tori, Trina and I entered the Vega home, and Trina traipsed of to, I assume, her room, but the truth is, I've never been here before, so she could be going anywhere in the house. My attention quickly shifted from her and onto a set of ceramic animals in a small show case in the far corner of the room. The elephants were the most interesting, with exotic grooves carved into them. My imagination went right to work—a fantasy of small white bunnies riding on the backs of harnessed, stampeding elephants on the savanna. They could be used for domination, right?
"... at! Caaat! Hey!" Back to Tori's face. Which was right next to mine all of a sudden. My cheeks heated up. Tori looked frustrated. Right, I wasn't zoned in.
"Yeaaah? What do you want to do, Tori?" Tori backed away and headed towards the stairs as I beamed at her.
Tori smiled sweetly and replied, "Well, unfortunately, there's homework to be done... and I'd rather do it now than during the weekend, if that's okay with you, "she winced, "That homework includes Calculus. Blegh. Sorry, I might take a while... I guess we can just stop when you finish if you want."
My face lit up, "Oh my god, I could totally help you if you're bad with math!"
Tori's face was incredulous. "You? You're good... at math?" I nodded. "Uh... sorry... I... To be honest, I find that hard to believe..."
"At least let me try to help." I eyed her seriously.
She sighed, "Okay. Thanks, Cat." She turned to the steps. "Let's go to my room and get to work, then, 'kay?"
I scampered after her, "KK!"
When we got to Tori's room, I couldn't help but look around at everything with acute interest. The dominant color of the room was a deep, royal purple. Tori went and opened her drawn curtains first thing. She then wandered to her large cherry-wood desk and moved her things to the sides to make room for me, and simultaneously pulled up another chair. "Here. Let's do it." She sat down and whipped her textbooks out of her bag. I followed suit and we began working.
It wasn't long before Tori was grunting, vexed. She ran her hand through her hair. Without much thought, I showed Tori my notebook. She looked at it quizzically. Right. My notes aren't easily intelligible.
"Um. Cat. I don't know what these... say?" She squinted in an attempt to decipher the doodles and numbers.
I flushed slightly, taking the book back. I was hit with an idea, and a grin spread across my face. "I'll just teach you directly, then?"
Tori gave me a cautious, wary look before finally rolling her eyes and smiling, "Sure, why not?"
As I excitedly explained the concepts to Tori, she appeared to begin to get what the numbers and variables were doing. I decided that she should try a few problems on her own to see if she was good to go yet. "How about you try to do number 8?"
Tori looked concerned for a moment, but she dutifully did the problem before tentatively showing her solution to me. To my pleasure, her work was considerably better and her answer was correct. "Yay! Good!" She smiled with sheepish pride as I praised her. "Now try and do a few more, kk? You can show me when you're finished." Tori assented and went to work. I did the same as I waited for her to either get really stuck or finish the section of problems I'd assigned to her.
Several minutes later, and this time eagerly, Tori showed me her work, and we beamed brightly at each other as I went over it and gave her feedback every step of the way.
"Why are mushrooms called mushrooms? They aren't particularly mushy. And they certainly aren't rooms. Unless maybe they are. But aren't they usually not hollow? Where would the room be?" I babbled on as Tori listened, perplexed, "What do you think, Tori?"
She sat up from her lying position on her bed as she replied, "Uh... I dunno, Cat. I... really don't. Never really thought about it..."
I smiled. "That's okay. I think about all sorts of things. I think most of what's in my head isn't in other people's heads much."
Tori's eyes light up a little bit. "Like what? What do you usually think about?" She lazily laid down on her back, her lips turning up lethargically, eyes locked on me.
Jade. I usually think about Jade. Jade is one of the few things I think about consistently. I can't very well say that to Tori, however. Other than Jade, I think about nearly anything.
"Well, there's this..." I hesitated, then decided firmly not to bring up Jade. "Anything. I mean, school, family, friends—y'know, basic stuff—and beyond that just about anything. Not too many frequently recurring thoughts. But a whole lot of different ones. Oh!" My face lit up, "I do think about candy a lot!"
Tori quirked an eyebrow and chuckled. After a few moments spent in silence, Tori asked, "How 'bout you tell me some stuff about your family?"
Immediately, I jumped into story telling mode, "KK! I've got this older brother—he's fun, but kinda not right in the head—" Tori's brow contorted, "Usually, he's doing something that may not exactly be considered 'normal.' Like, this one time, we were on a double date with this girl—who he met at the dairy section of the market when he was buying this special Greek yogurt—and her younger brother, and my brother took us to a fair and he was told he couldn't get on the carousel without at least having a kid with him because he was too old, and there were a bunch of little kids lined up behind him who wanted to ride it. He got really mad and started yelling at the guy, and he grabbed him and forced his face into his totally gross armpits. Then we went to get some cotton candy. The lady selling the cotton candy turned out to be our aunt, and my brother had to stay away from her, since she has a restraining order against him because of the time he went to the zoo with her and held her tauntingly over the lion habitat. So we had to get the cotton candy without him."
Finished with my story, I smiled before remembering an important detail, "The candy was really good." I felt contented, having actually completed a story about my brother without interruption.
When my eyes focused on Tori again, she looked completely befuddled. "Um... okay? That's... a weird story, Cat..."
"What's that supposed to mean?!" And there goes my catchphrase again, further confusing Tori.
"Uhh... I see that your brother isn't normal?" She offered.
"Oh, yeah!" A beat, and my eyebrows scrunched up, "Wait, I forgot which brother I was telling you about? I only remember the candy right now..."
"Uh... You have more than one brother?"
Tori smiled, a tad awkwardly, "... How many brothers? Any sisters?"
"I've got three brothers. All older. No sisters." The doorbell rang, and soon Trina called to us that Chinese food had arrived. I didn't realize we were getting take out. Come to think of it, I had yet to see Tori's parents. I frowned, "Hey, where are your mom and dad?"
Tori's face froze for a fraction of a second before she answered with a too-happy demeanor, "Oh, they should be here sometime soon, I think. They, um... they go out a lot."
I stared at Tori curiously for a moment, then simply nodded as we got up and went back downstairs.
About halfway through dinner, Tori's parents made their appearance. They were nothing much to speak of, physically, which surprised me a tad, given how beautiful their daughters were—especially Tori. Tori's mother halted in shock as she took in my vibrant red hair.
"Whoa." She glanced at Tori, who was watching her while bringing her chopsticks to her mouth. "Well. You must be Cat."
I smiled warmly as I affirmed, "Yep! I'm Cat. You must be Tori's parents? Thanks for letting me spend the night!"
Her eyes still bugged out, her mother responded distractedly, "Tori wasn't exaggerating about your hair."
"W-what's that supposed to mean?" I tried not to say it, and I kept as much vigor out of my voice as possible, but I couldn't help but let this response slip.
She looked at my eyes, "That your hair is very, very red."
I immediately calmed down again, "Oh, yeah! Like a red velvet cupcake!"
She gave me a peevish, unconvincing smile as she and Tori's dad sat down at the other end of the table, taking Chinese food as they passed us girls.
Tori placed her chopsticks down and adjusted her glasses, clearing her throat. "So, it's been established that this is Cat. Cat, this is my mom, Holly, and my dad, David." She took up her sticks once more, "There! Now that we're all buddy-buddy, let's keep eating." There was something vaguely odd about the way Tori said this, but I was too distracted by suddenly noticing that we had fortune cookies to give it more than a moment's thought.
It didn't take long for Trina to start loudly telling her parents about some shoes she'd seen online and why she needed to have them.
After I finished my main dish, I promptly reached for a fortune cookie. I bit it open, pulling the fortune out while I chewed half of the cookie. I giggled at myself before reading my fortune.
Dark times will soon befall you.
My face fell. What could this mean? Things were only just beginning to look up, but they would get bad again so soon? Tori was staring at me with knitted eyebrows, and I quickly shook off the anxiety of the fortune, raising my eyebrows and sticking my tongue out playfully at Tori. I crumpled up the slip of paper and slid it into my pocket for the time being.
"Tori, you should look at your fortune!" I snatched another cookie and handed it to her.
She eyed the cookie briefly, chortled, and cracked it open. She looked at it queerly, then her lips turned up and she chuckled softly again.
"Oh, did you get a good one? Can I read it?" My hand was on her shoulder.
"Sure. I don't totally get it, but it doesn't seem like a bad thing." She held the paper out and I read it.
Your powerful emotions may cause trouble now, but later will bring you great fortune.
I didn't entirely get her fortune either. "Huh." I didn't know what else to say.
"What does yours say?" Tori frowned, "Wait, where is yours, Cat?"
I fidgeted and glanced away. "I didn't like mine."
"No? Why? What's it say?"
An idea popped into my head, "Why don't we have a movie marathon?" I said, partly to distract Tori.
Tori was perturbed, but she nodded. "Sure, sounds fun. Anything in particular you wanna watch?"
After finishing our second movie, Tori was markedly sleepy. I was about to offer for us to go to bed, when Tori unexpectedly spoke, though her words were lightly slurred, "So, Cat. Do you know what you wanna do once we graduate from Hollywood Arts?" Our eyes met as I turned towards her curiously. She was still sprawled leisurely across the couch with her glasses having fallen off, laying discarded on the floor.
"I wanna meet mythical creatures." Well, that probably wasn't what she wanted to know, but it was the first thing I thought of that I actually wished I could do. Tori was clearly puzzled by my response. "Well, um, I especially want to meet a leprechaun..." Her expression told me that this specification hadn't helped her understand in the least.
"Cat, you know that mythical creatures are... well... mythical, right? They aren't real."
I knew that. But I still hoped—no, I still believed that they weren't all completely made up of lies. I had to believe that. It made life more magical. Nonetheless, I nodded slightly towards Tori, whose sharp eyes softened back to normal as she relaxed more.
"... Why leprechaun?" I glanced at Tori, not entirely comprehending her question. She clarified, "Why do you want to meet leprechauns specifically? I would've thought you were more of a unicorn person."
I couldn't resist grinning at that. "I am. Definitely. I love unicorns. I think a leprechaun could help me with something, though."
Tori sure has that confused look on her face a lot around me. I guess most people do, actually. Not getting her confusion, I opted to get more comfortable as we talked, leaning back into the couch with a small sigh.
"Um... How could a leprechaun 'help' you?"
Instantly, I stiffened up, realizing that I was making myself more vulnerable than I'd intended to. My eyes snapped back onto Tori's, and I felt the hostility in them. She automatically recoiled at the intensity of my eyes.
"S-sorry. You don't hav'ta tell me." She looked almost hurt, but still more startled than anything. This was the first time Tori had seen me like that. It was different than when I said WTSTM. My eyes had uncovered even more than I'd already put out there, too. Which was obviously not helpful. However, the longer I looked at Tori, the more I relaxed. And it wasn't like I had to tell her everything just to answer her question satisfactorily.
I smiled weakly at her. "No, it's okay. I'm sorry. Um. I feel like a leprechaun could help me be... set free? It's kinda hard to explain." Tori's eyes silently probed for more information, but she carefully kept her mouth shut, not wanting to pry. I exhaled deeply. "Um. You know how I'm kind of crazy sometimes? Like, really crazy, not just teenager crazy?"
Tori frowned and started, "I don't thi—"
"No, no. It's fine. I know it's true." She pursed her lips discontentedly, but held her peace. "Sometimes, it's a bit harder to deal with than others. I've got this theory that a leprechaun's rainbow could... fix me. Make it all better."
Tori just gazed at me thoughtfully for a long time, her eyebrows wrinkled together. At long last, she sighed in exasperation and spoke, "Cat, you don't need to be fixed," she sat up and turned my torso towards her, holding my shoulders firmly, "You're wonderful just the way you are, okay? You don't have to feel like you need to change."
Her loving brown eyes connected to mine with sincerity, and heat rushed to my cheeks. Naturally, I leaned in just a tiny bit before catching myself and staying back. At my minuscule lean, Tori nevertheless moved her arms around me and hugged me gently for a long moment.
When we separated, her lips turned up, "So, what do you want to watch next? It's only 10:30—the night is still young."
"How about we get into our pajamas first?" Tori agreed, and we went to different rooms to change. I came out of the bathroom wearing soft red and pink pajamas and wandered back downstairs to meet Tori. She was wearing cute blue and white flannel pajamas with designs I couldn't quite make out on them. And she had braided her hair into soft pigtails that lay on her shoulders. She was putting her glasses back on when I found her.
We selected another movie, watched it. Then yet another movie. By the end of this fourth movie, Tori and I were wide awake, giddy with sleeplessness. We hardly watched the last twenty minutes of the show, instead laughing at everything on the screen. When the credits began rolling, Tori stood up to put the DVD away. Her foot got caught in a blanket and she face-planted.
Tori laughed gleefully as she spied something under her couch. She nabbed it, revealing a fancy slide whistle. She showed it to me happily, "Cat, we should make a video with this in it!"
"Sure!" Tori started trying to play the whistle, causing both of us to break down laughing. We scrambled into Tori's kitchen. She snagged a video camera and set it up. We didn't really plan what to do in the video—we just laughed together as we gathered a bunch of miscellaneous items to play with during it.
Tori turned the camera on as we giggled incessantly, messing with the slide whistle. After a few seconds, Tori tried to get us to behave seriously. I teasingly agreed with her, and she gives the camera a long, odd look, which caused me to burst out laughing again.
I was suddenly dissatisfied with how the video was going, "I wanna start over."
Tori gives me a wicked grin, "No! There's no do-overs!"
"There's no do-overs," She wagged her finger at me and was laughing again, "Not now, not ever!" I joined her laughter.
"It's 3'00 in the morning."
Without a thought, I thrust my arm in the air and cheered, "A.M!"
Tori was clearly amused by my behavior. I wanted her to keep smiling, so I decided to mimic a strange accent, "It's time to talk like dis."
Tori gave me a look as if she actually knew what I meant. Honestly, even I didn't know what I meant. She replied in an equally odd accent, "Ooh! It's that time already!"
I was so pleased with her response that I couldn't help but reach over and hug her while she continued to cackle. Tori clicked the camera off, her laughter having become all together uncontrollable. I joined her again, loving the joy in her eyes. "S-sorry, Cat. I just need a minute." She could barely get the words out around her guffaws, and she mindlessly tried to adjust her glasses. As she collected herself, I remembered a trinket I had brought along, and I went to grab my orange airplane-shaped telephone.
We turned the camera back on, and I offered to do a prank call using my phone. Tori called me out on there being no one on the other end, and I whispered to her that I was playing a joke on her. Tori enjoyed this. Shortly after, I handed the slide whistle back to Tori, "Play me a tune." Tori chortled at my tone, which was reminiscent of Sebastian from The Little Mermaid. She then played the whistle, and we soon ended the nonsensical video.
Tori was going to put the camera away, but she once again got her foot caught on something, causing her to fall. Only this time, she fell on top of me. She lifted herself onto her arms, but her face remained very near to my own.
Redness invaded both of our faces, and Tori made a movement to try and get off of me, but I put my arms around her and pulled her into a hug instead. She was tense at first, but soon enough she was back into the state of endless laughter.
"Hey, wanna watch one last movie?" Tori stood and took my hand to help me up as she asked.
"KK. Are we going to sleep at all tonight?" I looked at the clock in her kitchen, now reading 3:48 A.M.
As I was letting go of Tori's hand, she lingered, reluctant to let go. When she finally did, she beamed up at me, "No, I do not believe sleep was a part of the plan."
Mere minutes into the movie, Tori and I had fallen asleep, my head resting on her shoulder, and her head on mine. A dreamy smile on my face. A perfect ending to a wonderful day.
A/N: Hey guys, thanks for reading! Sorry again for the super long wait. But, hey, this chapter is more than twice the length of most of the other chapter's, so maybe that'll help make it feel better. The video I referenced is, of course, part of The Funny Nugget Show, a Cat and Tori video series on theSlap. This may not fit in with the canonical chronology of the creation of that video, but if it doesn't, we can just say that they made it this night, but maybe Tori didn't upload it for a while. Love you guys Thanks again for your patience and support =)