AN: Starts at some point during their freshman year. But the amount of time between each line break is up to you. Please review. The more reviews, the faster I update. It's a scientifically proven fact. And they make me ridiculously happy. This is also a fact.

Summary: There are cuts on his wrists. There are bruises on her face. And nobody notices. They're writhing in silent agony and nobody notices. Until they notice each other.

Warnings: Language, mentions of self-harm and abuse

Disclaimer: I don't own "Victorious". It's better this way.

Chapter One

Crimson Cuts and Black Bruises

There are cuts on his wrists. A dozen tiny cracks, spiderweb thin. Half-healed, scabbed dirty garnet instead of dripping slick scarlett.

No one notices. No one asks. No one cares.

He picks at them until they scar over. Then he makes new ones.

No one notices. No one asks. No one cares.

He wears flannel shirts to hide.

"What happened to your hands?" She asks, studying them intently. There's something in her eyes, her tone. She says hands and he hears wrists. His sleeve's ridden up. And he's scared. Scared of his scars. And his life. And this girl.

"Angry cat." He lies through a smile. Smile is his default expression, it's what everyone wants to see. Smile, Beckett, smile. You're so handsome and so talented. Such a perfect boy. A cat sounds believable. Cats have claws. Claws cut skin just as well as the razor hidden in his room. It sounds believable, but he can tell she's not buying it. Not for a second.

She looks at him and sees right through him. Faker, her beautiful blue eyes scream at him. Liar. Scared little boy.

She walks away.

He can't breathe.

"What happened to your eye?" He parrots her words.

"Angry cat." She parrots right back. But a hand rises to her overly made up left eye. He can just see the faint darkening of the bruise.

He smiles. Smile is still his default. It's a little sad but mostly understanding thing. Faker, it says. Liar. Scared little girl

She walks away again.

He still can't breathe.

She comes in drinking Skybucks coffee. And he watches. Notices. Notices that all the make-up in the world can't hide the bruise darkening her cheek and jaw. That she's tried anyways and almost, almost, covered it up. Notices that there's a snarl on her lips and hate in her eyes. That she flinches, just barely, just barely, when people get close. She comes in drinking Skybucks coffe, and he notices.

She eats lunch with a girl with violent red hair and wide, innocent eyes. And he watches. Notices. They're the picture of opposites, she sits silently in black while the other chats animately wearing an outfit of colors that shouldn't look good together but do. She has more coffee and a burger. The other eats a PB&J sandwich and drinks from a juice box. She eats lunch with a girl with violent red hair, and he notices.

She shoves a curly-haired A/V nerd into the lockers hard enough for the metal to clang and rattle and moan. And he watches. Notices. Notices the rage in her eyes is matched with fear. That she just might be shaking from the encounter. Notices that she all but runs from the crowd to get away. That there are tears dancing in her pretty blue eyes. She slams a nerd into the lockers, and he notices.

She hides in a janitor's closet for fifteen minutes while she cries.

He sits outside the door, and waits. He picks at his cuts, and waits. He starts to bleed, and waits.

She comes out, face tear-stained, make up a mess, purple-black bruise glaring and obvious. She looks at him, sitting on the floor outside a closet, looking at her.

"Don't tell." She whispers. He nods, a secret smile on his face. I won't if you won't.

She misses school for a week. And he notices.

She comes back and there's more anger and less fear in her eyes. And he notices.

The bruises fade and disappear. And he notices.

She starts wearing less make up. And he notices.

She streaks her hair with azure blue. And he notices.

She gets her nose and eyebrow peirced. And he notices.

She brands a star on her skin with black ink. And he notices.

"What happened to your hands?" She asks again.

"Angry cat." He smiles because he'd be happy, happy for real, if this could be a regular thing. "What happened to your eye?"

"Angry cat." She says with a smirk, hand going to the eye that hasn't been blackened in weeks.

"Maybe we should be dog people." He jokes.

"Maybe we should start skinning cats." She says deadpans.

He laughs. He can't remeber the last ime he laughed and meant it. But, god, he means it now. "Maybe we should. Maybe today? After school? Possibly with something like coffee before the torturing of small mammals?"

She blinks. Oh, shit. He shoud have waited. He should have keep his stupid mouth shut. He-

"Okay. But you're buying." She smirks. He thinks her smirk is just like his smile, something that happens when she's not thinking about it. Like the screensaver on his laptop. He wants to make her smile. Really smile.

"Sure." Cause, aren't the guys supposed to buy everything on dates? Isn't that the way it works?

She walks away from him, smirk still firmly in place.

He takes a deep breath, smelling sandalwood and strawberries.

Her name is Jade. Her favorite color is garnet. She loves black coffee. The star on her arm symbolizes freedom. He doesn't ask what needed freeing. She's not ready to say. He's not ready to hear. They're not ready to share.

It's a battle to get her phone number. They're on a date, and she won't give him her number. She punches his arm when he uses the word date. But she grudgingly gives him the seven digits, so he considers it well worth the pain. It's a whole other war when he asks to take her picture for his pearphone contact info. She's snarky and mean, growling out vague threats. He's only half sure she doesn't mean any of them. But he refuses to lose his temper. To shout.

"Calm down." He says, hands light on her shoulder. "It's just a picture."

She glares and steps away from his hands. But she lets him take the picture. So it's okay.

He smiles. It feels real.

She smirks. It doesn't look fake.

They get coffee and walk around the park under the pretense of looking for cats. She lets him slide his fingers between hers. It's quite possibly the best night of his life.

"Well, that was stupid." She sneers when he walks her to her door. He's almost positive she doesn't mean it.

"Could have been worse." He smiles and shrugs.

Three weeks and nine dates that she vhemently denies are dates later, he kisses her. It's soft and only lasts a second. A childish pressing of lips. He wants to kiss her for real. The way they do in movies and the school plays. But he's scared she'll get scared and run away from him. He's scared she won't come back.

He pulls back and watches her.

She slaps him in the face. Hard.

"What the fuck was that?" she shouts. And dammit, he shouldn't have kissed her. What was he thinking? He's screwed this up.

"Uh, well, um..." He's stumbling over his excuses when she kisses him.

It's demanding. It's hard and long and deep. Her arms wrap around his neck, fingers tangling in his hair. His hands latch onto her waist, pull her closer.

She breaks away, and she's smiling. A real smile. It's the most beautiful thing he's ever seen. It holds for just over a second before it's swallowed by the smirk. "That's how you kiss someone."