"I don't get many things right the first time
In fact, I am told that a lot."
The first time they kiss, Tori is more than a little drunk and Robbie just isn't one of those guys that takes advantage of inebriated girls.
She tastes like alcoholic fruit, her lips glossy and wet as they meet his with sloppy guidance under the moonless sky in Beck's backyard. He blinks once. And then again, just for good measure. The Mountain Dew he's been nursing for most of the night starts to slip from his thin fingers, his knuckles tightening reflexively as he tastes a swipe of tongue on his lower lip. Beck's porch banister is digging into his lower back.
She's pinning him. He's letting her.
Robbie has kissed girls before, but most of those experiences either involved his overly affectionate Aunt Peggy or stealing a stage kiss during a play. Now he can add mindless drunkenness to his less than impressive list of kisses.
Tori's fingers are warm on his cheeks, holding him in place. He blinks again. Her eyes are closed, her body hot as it pushes against him, deeper into the corner of the porch. Beyond her is the warm glow of the back door, orange light flooding out from the party still going on inside. He thinks he hears Cat singing, swaying with Andre's guitar strings. He thinks about how he thought it was so weird for Tori to ask him to step outside with her, why she would come to him first and not someone cooler - God knows Robbie is at the bottom rung of the social ladder. Tori isn't even on it. She's what everyone is climbing for.
As Tori's tongue unites with his own, Robbie's eyes start to grow heavy, his free hand resting tentatively on the curve of Tori's hip. Oh. There's a small gap between the hem of her shirt and the top of her jeans and the hot flesh brushing against his palm makes him breathe in hard and fast through his nose. She smells like alcohol but damn if that isn't incredibly intoxicating. Maybe it's her arms slipping around his neck that spurs his confidence, or the fact that the music is starting to fizzle into insignificant background noise, or the ever pressing truth that Tori Vega is kissing him, and he's kissing her back, but whatever the reason he pulls her close and takes the lead.
And maybe this would be all sorts of cool - you know, kissing Tori Vega and all; Queen Bee, gossiped to be even more popular and more talented than Jade West - if Robbie was the kind of guy that cared about social status and getting laid.
But he's not. Sure, being treated better in school would be nice and getting laid sounds like a whole field of fun, but Robbie's been blessed (or cursed) with a conscious, and as much fun as kissing Tori Vega is, he just can't. Or he won't. Or he knows he shouldn't. So he doesn't.
He turns his face away. Tori's panting mouth falls against his cheek, trying to find his lips again, but Robbie shakes his head, trying to push her back. She isn't budging and he doesn't want to look at her and get swallowed up in the drunken flush of her cheeks or the way her eyes look all sleepy and suggestive, so he stares at the bushes lining Beck's house.
Robbie swallows, glancing down at the gaping eye of his pop can. He sets it carefully on the porch banister before meeting her gaze again, her brown brows like broken bridges over her nose. He has an insane urge to take his thumb to her brow and smooth out the lines of confusion etched there, but he keeps them still at his sides, eyes darting away from her.
"You're drunk." That's really the only reason he stopped her - or himself, depending. She's drunk and confused and he knows that Tori isn't like this. She doesn't just throw herself on guys. Robbie doesn't think she's ever drank before. Even he knows that three drinks in a few hours time is not the best idea, and he's seen her fill up more than once tonight. Something tells him that Jade is somehow responsible for this. It's more of an itching feeling than something he can prove, but more often than not when Tori is in a bad situation, it always leads back to the witch of the West.
There's also the tiny, itty bitty fleeting reason that he would rather not acknowledge right now that has to do with his heart in his throat whenever she's around and the way her laughter rings in his head long after she's left and the nights he spends with his eyes closed and his pulse beating drum solos into his ears, reminding him that her blood is in his veins now and how intimate it feels and how he knows it shouldn't.
He wants Tori, but not like this.
Tori's blinking slowly at him, the lines of her confusion clearing out. She takes a step back, a cool wind replacing her warm presence. She glances at her hands, her feet, the party going on inside. The brown swirls of her hair tickle her lips as she covers her mouth. Robbie's tongue subconsciously darts out to taste her again. Alcohol. He wonders what she tastes like without that particular flavor attached to her. He wonders if it's better.
"Oh." She blinks again and then looks at him, brown eyes wide, fingers still over her mouth. He wonders what he tastes like. "I'm sorry," she says, eyes falling on the red plastic cup she had balanced on the banister. She frowns, ducks her head, and turns. He watches her feet struggle to walk in a straight line. She disappears into the house and Robbie is left with his can of flat Mountain Dew and her empty cup and a kiss he could but won't brag about because Robbie just isn't that kind of guy.
He thinks he should talk to her, but if she's not bringing it up, to hell if he is.
They don't sit next to each other at lunch. She doesn't look at him. He doesn't speak to her. They avoid one another in the hallway. It's driving him crazy because she makes it seem so easy while he feels like there's a thousand storms raging inside of him. Her face is about as easy to read as Arabic. Not that he's looking. Because he's not.
Except when he is.
Tori is - she's pretty. Painfully so, judging by the tight coiling in his chest, so the boy can't really be blamed for staring. Or admiring, as he prefers to phrase it. And it's not like pretty girls are rare in Hollywood Arts - Cat is pretty, Jade is pretty (albeit in a terrifying way), Trina, too - but that's not what makes Tori so fascinating. Whereas Cat's smile is manic and kind of distant, and Jade's is sinister, and Trina's is far too cocky, Tori's is sincere. It's warm and lights bonfires in her eyes and it makes his unreliable heart do all sorts of acrobats in his chest. Her eyes are coffee brown and her skin is soft bronze and her laugh is rich. Everything about her is so genuine and in a school full of actors, that's surprisingly hard to come by. Because everyone is good at faking - that's why they're here - but Tori is talented without having to have a mask on all the time like the rest of them. Like Jade and her foul mood and Cat and her ditzyness and Beck's good guy act and Robbie and his puppet. Tori is just Tori, and Robbie likes that.
He watches her leave from where he stands at his locker, thumb between his teeth, Rex's head pressed against his sternum. The puppet is quiet, Robbie's thoughts centered on Tori's lips as she pulls them in, moving past him as if he's not there. She waves to Andre on the way out and the coiling in Robbie's chest snaps, wires winding their way through his limbs and jerking him into motion. Snagging his backpack from the locker, he bursts after her into the hot Hollywood sun and the baking parking lot. The dispersing crowd is loud with laughter and screaming, someone's car pumping music nearby. Tori's shoulders are hunched, her head down as she walks toward her car, and Robbie's hand is on her elbow before his nerves can stop him.
She turns, all wide-eyed and frowning, blinking in surprise to see him standing there. She pulls back, Robbie's empty fingers clenching before falling to his side.
"Uh." Robbie's obviously smooth personality is practically bleeding through. "Hi."
Tori adjusts her shoulder strap. "Hi."
The awkward is rock-thick as it settles between them because Robbie honestly didn't think he would make it this far without Rex interrupting or him getting hit by a car or something, but here he is and there she is just standing there and he wants to smooth the worried, crooked lines on her forehead out just like a few nights ago but he presses his hands to his sides and chews on the inside of his lip instead.
"We should probably talk about the other night." Robbie swallows.
Tori shrugs, her eyes skittering away. "I was drunk." She frowns. "Not something I'm particularly proud of, but Jade told me there wasn't any alcohol in the punch." Her brows sharpen.
Robbie mirrors her frown. Called it.
"Yeah, but I -" He stops, shifting nervously, the sun hot on his back and Rex feeling heavier than normal, shifting the doll uneasily in his elbows. Robbie's never been all that suave - the only females he's not a complete wreck around are his relatives which does little for his social life, and Rex's existence takes care of everything else. His eyes flick up to Tori, the prettiest girl he's ever seen, and when he licks his lips he can still taste her there, or maybe his mind has simply tattooed her against his tongue. He thinks of fruit and he thinks of alcohol. "But I wasn't," he finishes somberly, kicking his feet against the blacktop.
Tori stares at him for so long Robbie almost thinks she went spontaneously deaf and didn't hear him. He opens his mouth to repeat himself only for her to take a quick step forward, eyes narrowed and calculating. His jaw hangs open, words lost, much like his dark eyes hooded into hers.
"That's right," she says slowly, gauging him, and he can feel every hair on his body starting to rise. "You weren't drunk. You were drinking soda all night."
The way she says it isn't the same tone Jade would have used. Jade would have teased him for it; hell, she just had during first hour, calling Robbie a pansy because he had preferred to stay sober that night. Well, every night. Robbie shifts, struggling to hold Tori's eyes. So he doesn't like to drink. Or smoke. Or do much of anything that's mind altering. He doesn't like the way it makes him feel, all loose and disjointed, and he doesn't like the way it makes words come out of his mouth that he doesn't remember saying. He has a brief flashback to the one time he did get drunk, a few months ago at Beck's place. Andre was there, and sometime during the night Robbie had let it slip that he thought Tori Vega was the most beautiful girl he'd ever seen. Robbie didn't even remember it and it wasn't until the next morning with his head halfway down Robbie's toilet did Beck remind him of it, laughing as he snaked his hands in his curls. It made Robbie hurl a whole new round of vomit.
Robbie had a similar feeling now.
"Er, yeah," he manages, giving a slow nod.
Tori leans closer, eyes narrowing to dark slits. "You kissed me back," she mumbles, and when she breathes out Robbie can smell the mint of her gum, stinging his nose.
His hands fly up. "I didn't take advantage of you! I - I told you you were drunk and you went back inside and I left, remember?"
"I know." Tori's head tilts, lips pursed, and he can see the flash of her lipgloss. He wonders if it was the same one she was wearing a few nights ago or if she has a multitude of flavors in one of her drawers at home. He wonders just how many things Tori can taste like, and what she really tastes like, underneath it all.
When she doesn't say anything else, Robbie takes a slow step backward. "Then, uh, I guess we'll just forget about it? You were really drunk so I'm not, like, I don't expect anything and we can just, you know, pretend it never happened -"
"You kissed me back," she repeats, firmer this time, and the hints of a smile are tugging at her lips.
Robbie hesitates. The glee in her eyes is more than a little unsettling, the coiling in his chest tightening up again. "Uhm."
"Do you like me, Robbie Shapiro?" A slender brow arches, the curve of a question mark carved into her forehead.
Oh, he is definitely going to puke. He takes another step back, raising Rex like a shield. "Gotta go, Princess," the doll snaps, and Robbie is spinning on his heel and practically sprinting to his car.
Tori did not just say that. That did not just happen. He's drugged. Someone slipped him some acid and he is on some really messed up trip right now because Tori Vega does not smile at him like that. He's a ventriloquist. He's a nerd. More importantly, he's Robbie Shapiro, and girls like Tori don't say his name the way she did just now.
He peels out of the parking lot. Nope. Definitely didn't happen.
Except his heart is in his throat and his hands are shaking and Rex is quiet and the silence speaks the truth so loudly.
A/N: This was originally supposed to be a oneshot but then I decided that this couple doesn't get nearly enough love and they just need it.
The title and beginning lyrics are from the song "The Luckiest" by Ben Folds. Go listen to it.
Reviews are quite smashing.