A/N: I've been working on this story for days, and it basically morphed into something totally different from what I had originally planned...so...I hope it's ok. Feedback and constructive criticism is always appreciated. And this is for Magical Illusions, who wanted birthday!fic-I hope you like it. :)
"So…it's your birthday this weekend." Jade began. It was a Monday at Hollywood Arts, and Jade and Beck were taking advantage of the time between classes to make-out in front of the lockers.
"Mmhmm." Beck agreed, before taking her mouth back in his.
She pulled away a few moments later, trying to concentrate on forming a sentence while he was kissing down her neck. "So...birthday? Plans?"
He lifted his face back up, and shrugged. "I'm going out to dinner."
Jade frowned. These plans sounded suspiciously like they did not include her.
"With who?" she practically yelled.
Beck let out a chuckle, "My parents." he leaned in to kiss her again but she turned away.
Beck furrowed his eyebrows, and looked genuinely confused. "Birthdays aren't really your thing, babe."
"What do you mean?" Jade snapped. She crossed her arms, and took a few steps back from Beck, raising an eyebrow at him, just daring him to say the wrong thing.
Beck shrugged. "I mean last year you got me a can of lemonade." He smiled. He didn't sound mad, just amused.
Jade hated that.
"You like lemonade!" she exclaimed. "and I do so do birthdays." Jade huffed in exasperation, fighting off the feeling of embarrassment crawling across her skin. Jade didn't do embarrassment. But Beck was also right…she really didn't do birthdays. Not other people's at least. When she tried, it turned out comically bad. Birthdays, being nice to other people, Jade wasn't good at those things.
Jade hated that.
"Hey, babe," Beck pulled her out of her thoughts and back to the present, lifting her chin so that she made eye contact with him "it's no big deal. I'll see you at school during the day, then I'll do the dinner thing with the parents. Then we'll spend the rest of the weekend in our standard, mindless, heavy on the macking, hold the sentimentality, kind of way."
Beck smiled at her, "Later, OK?" Jade nodded distractedly, and Beck headed off towards class.
It had been quite a speech. By Beck's standards, practically a dissertation. But it hadn't made Jade feel any better. It had actually made her feel a lot worse.
Jade wasn't exactly a humble person. She certainly wasn't the kind of person who liked to admit that there was something she couldn't do, especially if she wanted to. And she had the sinking sensation that Beck was expecting her to blow off this birthday thing not because she didn't do birthdays, but because she couldn't.
Jade hated that.
Jade hadn't seen Beck for the rest of the afternoon, and she was almost glad. It had enabled her to remain lost in thought, pondering what she had now dubbed "The Birthday Problem." She was still simmering when she ran into Tori after school, who looked annoyingly cheery.
"Hey Jade," she said with a grin. Tori had been a lot less terrified of Jade recently, and despite Jade's best efforts to the contrary (she pushed her off a building, for christ's sake), Tori seemed to be under the delusion that they were becoming friends.
"Tori." Jade said, doing her best to sound threatening, slowly eyeing her up and down.
Tori, however, was unaffected. "So, Beck's birthday is this weekend!" She nudged Jade with her shoulder, "Got any romantic plaaaaaans?"
"No." Jade snapped, walking away.
"Oh, come on," Tori whined, keeping pace, "I want to know."
Tori circled around in front of Jade, forcing her to stop. "It wasn't that long ago that you guys owed me your relationship." she said, teasing, "I just want to know what the happy couple is doing for Beck's big 1-7."
"Nothing." Jade said tersely. She made to turn but Tori grabbed her shoulder.
Jade glared at Tori's hand, and Tori quickly dropped it, smiling apologetically. "What do you mean nothing?" she said, and she actually sounded concerned. "Is everything ok?"
"Everything's fine." Jade moaned, sick of this conversation, "and it's none of your business."
"You're not getting him a can of lemonade again, are you?" Tori's eyes were wide, and her expression was worried.
Jade stopped herself from shouting, but only barely. "He. Likes. Lemonade." she gritted out. "Now go away!" Jade pointed towards the entrance to the school dramatically, but when Tori didn't budge, she turned and headed deeper into the school, pondering a nice janitor's closet to escape her newfound nuisance.
"Jade…" Tori started, but Jade was walking quickly, and Tori was struggling to keep up. When Jade finally did duck inside the janitor's closet, she was displeased, though not altogether surprised, that Tori followed her in.
"Jade," Tori said again, looking down at Jade's now slumped figure in the corner, cutting up cleaning supplies with her scissors. "is everything ok?"
Jade sighed, the fury inside her building. "It's none of your business!" But for some reason she felt compelled to explain, even as she said those words.
"Beck doesn't think I do birthdays." she said, after a long pause.
"Of course you do birthdays." Tori protested. "You made a huge stink about your birthday, you never let any of us live anything down from that entire day."
"Well, he expects me to blow it off. He doesn't think I…can do birthdays."
Jade had no idea why she and Tori kept on sharing these bizarre moments of friendship. Maybe it was because she valued Tori's opinion so little. Or maybe…though she could scarcely stand to think it…she liked the girl more than she was willing to admit.
Either way, she was in this now.
"Did he say that?" Tori asked, reasonably.
Jade just shrugged. He hadn't, not in so-many-words, but the message had been clear.
"Well, Jade," Tori began nervously, "it's not like you have the greatest track record."
Jade opened her mouth to protest but Tori cut her off
"Don't say he likes lemonade."
Jade snapped her jaw shut, and they sat in a silence for a few seconds.
"Well, Jade, if you want to prove him wrong, then just do it. Just do something nice for his birthday." Tori shrugged, "It's easy."
"I did something nice last year!" Jade complained, poking her scissors into a plastic bottle of some mysterious chemical.
Tori bit her lip. "Hmmm, yeah, maybe it's not so easy."
The smell of whatever chemical Jade had just forcibly opened was filling up the closet at an alarming rate and Tori scrunched up her face in disgust. She pinched her nose, and then asked, "What are you doing right now?"
Jade gestured to the room, as though it was obvious.
Tori rolled her eyes and yanked Jade up into a standing position, dragging them out of the closet. Jade had to admit, it smelled better out here.
Her nose unpinched, Tori continued, "Come over. We can brain storm about stuff for Beck's birthday." She paused, and then added, "Even better than lemonade."
Jade crossed her arms, a battle raging inside of her. On the one hand, this chummy-chum thing she had going with Tori was making her nauseous, but on the other…Beck had totally accepted the fact that his girlfriend was going to do nothing special for his birthday.
Jade hated that.
So she reluctantly followed Tori home.
"So what kinds of things does Beck like?"
Jade was slumped down on the couch in Tori's living room, picking at her nail while Tori paced back and forth, swinging her arms.
Jade roller her head back against the sofa, letting her gaze wander up to the ceiling. "Uhhh…he likes acting." Jade offered.
"Everyone at Hollywood Arts likes acting." Tori countered.
Tori placed her hand on her hip. "You know what I mean. It should be personal. Meaningful. Romantic."
"Oh, god, stop I'm gonna puke." Jade grimaced.
Tori rolled her eyes, and began pacing again. "Ok, come on, something else."
Jade sighed and wondered for about the thousandth time what she was doing here. "He likes pizza…" she shrugged, then reluctantly added, "and Full House."
"and lemonade." Tori muttered, slumping down on the couch across from Jade. "This is not going to be easy." she said, with a small half smile.
"Forget it." Jade said, standing up, "this is stupid."
"Wait, wait, wait." Tori said, blocking her way to the door. "We are not giving up!" she said vehemently.
Jade slung a hand onto her hip. "Why not?" she asked, her voice bored.
Tori opened her mouth and closed it again, at a loss for words, before blurting out, "because I don't want to!"
"Well, luckily, I don't care what you want." Jade started to walk around Tori, who was almost comically splayed out in front of her, her arms stretching in either direction, trying to persuade Jade to stay.
"Jade, come on, you and Beck have been dating for over two years! There has to be something! An inside joke? Something sweet or romantic the two of you have shared?"
Jade felt it again. The embarrassment she'd felt this morning with Beck. The unpleasant feeling of heat rushing to her face as she contemplated how completely inadequate she was. Tori was right. This should be easy. So why did it seem so impossible?
"I don't know!" Jade shouted, so suddenly that it caused Tori to jump.
"He loves to act, he loves his work, he likes to make out and watch TV, he likes to eat pizza because we can't agree on anything else, well, except Mexican, but that gives him indigestion, and he likes his RV and his parents and flirting to make me jealous and…" Jade took a deep breath, before finishing, "me."
Tori looked at her cautiously, and Jade crossed her arms, suddenly tired and content to sit back down. Tori sat also, and the two of them stared intently at the floor for a while in silence, that Jade was happy to let the quiet fill the space between them.
This whole thing was ridiculous. GIfts and presents and birthdays…they were so pointless. There was nothing she could give him…nothing he really needed…nothing that she wouldn't give him anyway. Birthdays meant a change of pace, exceptions to the standard rules, special occasions…but Jade didn't know how to do anything other than what she was already doing. No gift was going to come close to summing up what Beck meant to her, she realized, so what was the point in trying?
"Tori…" Jade said, in a soft tone that almost sounded kind. "Look. I appreciate your help, but I think maybe…Beck's right on this one." Jade stood up. "I don't do birthdays."
Tori smiled sadly at Jade, but nodded. "Yeah…OK."
Jade walked out without another word.
On Friday, Jade came to school feeling content with Beck's plan for the day. So she didn't get sappy and emotional and do birthdays. So what? It didn't matter. She was Jade West, the most beautiful, most talented, most intimidating girl at this school with the most beautiful, talented boyfriend, and if he was OK with her inability to give gifts or whatever her problem was, than she didn't care what anyone else thought.
The school day went by pleasantly, and Jade relished every moment she spent with Beck. Her worries about "The Birthday Problem" had created a distance between them that she'd been oblivious to until she had gotten the closeness back. They laughed, they kissed, they made fun of their friends, and they rolled their eyes at their teachers. Jade couldn't believe that she had been worried about this. Beck was right. It was nothing. And if this was the way he wanted to do things, she really could not complain. When the school day ended, Beck walked with her out to the parking lot and gave her a twinkling smile before climbing into his car. "Come over tomorrow?" he asked as he turned the keys in the ignition.
Jade nodded, but smiled mischievously. "Maybe." But the matching grin on Beck's face told her that he knew she'd be there.
Jade appeared outside the RV the next afternoon glad to have the birthday thing behind them. Even though she'd felt fine at school yesterday, spending the evening at home alone while her boyfriend had birthday dinner with his parents had still felt wrong to her. Even though she was becoming increasingly sure that the reason Beck hadn't invited her was because his parents hated her, not because he didn't want her to be there.
Nevertheless, she'd spent the evening grumpy and restless and had sliced up an entire packet worth of construction paper.
She knocked on the door, but only as a courtesy, and stepped inside before Beck had the opportunity to answer either way. He was lounging on his bed, his computer resting on his lap, and he was typing away on what looked like the Slap.
"Hey." he called, not looking up from the screen of his computer.
"Hey." Jade replied, sitting on the bed behind him.
He looked back at her. "I thought maybe we could go to the beach today. If you want." he suggested casually.
Jade shrugged. "Sure. Whatever." The beach sounded fine to her.
Beck shut the laptop and sit up in his bed, turning to kiss her. Something in his eyes was absurdly happy, and Jade couldn't help but smile at the look on his face.
"So how did it go last night?" she asked, not sure why she couldn't let this whole thing go.
Beck looked briefly confused, like he didn't know what she was talking about, then remembrance spread across his face. "Oh, the dinner." he shrugged. "It was fine."
"Nice birthday?" Jade was trying to sound flippant, casual, but her voice came out strained and awkward and very un-Jade like.
Beck grinned at her. A real, wide, teeth-shining grin. "It was amazing."
Jade blanched a little, and felt the heat rushing to her cheeks. She shouldn't be offended, she shouldn't be embarrassed…but she was.
"I'm so happy that you and the parents had such a lovely time without me." she snapped.
Beck shook his head. "Dinner was a disaster. We went to this Japanese place, and the sushi was so fresh it jumped off the plate. My dad had an asthma attack."
Jade raised her eyebrows at Beck suspiciously, but Beck only nodded in response, raising his defensively. "I swear. It happened."
"Ew." Jade remarked.
After getting over the initial shock at the disgusting image Beck had just put in her head, Jade realized something wasn't adding up. "But you said your birthday was amazing." Jade protested. "Don't tell me you enjoyed watching your dad have an asthma attack. Because that's a little dark, even for me."
Beck laughed and pulled Jade closer to him so that he could intertwine his legs with hers. When her face was right in front of his, inches away, he furrowed his eyebrows. He looked confused. Jade felt confused.
"What?" she whispered.
"You don't even know." he said, like he was coming to a realization. "You aren't even aware of it."
Jade hated guessing games. "What are you talking about?" she practically yelled.
"You." Beck said, and he tucked a strand of hair behind Jade's ear. "You were amazing yesterday."
"I didn't do anything." Jade said, wondering if he was confusing this birthday with last years. He loved that lemonade, whether he admitted it or not.
He shook his head, looking at Jade with that bemused expression that she really hated. "You practically treated me like royalty all day. You were unusually nice. We didn't fight. I figured it was driving you crazy."
Jade had no idea what Beck was talking about. She'd been happy to see Beck yesterday. Thrilled to spend time with him. and yes she'd been conscious of the fact that it was his birthday, but she didn't think she'd done anything special.
"Funny, I didn't notice." Jade said finally.
Beck wrapped his fingers around her neck and pulled her closer for a kiss. "Yeah, well, I did." They both lost themselves in the kiss for a while, and when they came up for air Beck was hopping off the bed, grabbing his bathing suit. "Did you bring yours?" he asked. Jade nodded, feeling the warm, soft afterglow of the kiss radiating off of her in waves. Beck smiled, heading towards the door. "The RV's already hooked up to the truck. Let's go!" he said cheerily. Jade got up slowly to follow him, but couldn't help notice a small pile of opened cards sitting on Beck's desk. They were all painfully cheesy, but all wishing him a happy birthday in some form or another.
Beck was already in the driver's seat and Jade reluctantly climbed in the passenger's side, her mood dropping as she thought about all the people in Beck's life who had deemed him important enough to buy a card on his birthday. What was so hard about that? Why couldn't she have done that?
"I'm sorry." she blurted out, and instantly regretted it. Making out with Beck for long periods of time made her brain fuzzy, and sometimes she let her guard down, and said stupid things.
Jade hated that.
"For what?" Beck asked, turning the ignition, starting off down the street towards the beach.
Jade contemplated not telling him, but she was having a hard time letting go of "The Birthday Problem." Maybe getting it off her chest would get it off her mind as well. She certainly hoped so.
"For yesterday. For not doing birthdays. For not doing nice things." There she'd said it. They could both move on.
"Jade," Beck said soothingly, "Were you listening?" His eyes were trained on the road, but his arm was stretching across the seat towards her shoulder. "You were amazing yesterday. Being with you. It was the best birthday present I could have hoped for."
Jade felt like she'd just been kicked in the gut. But in a good way. If that was possible. How did Beck come up with this stuff? How did he say things like that, that just totally brought her mind to a halt, and made her feel…like her chest was about to explode.
She smiled at him, and moved his arm from her shoulder to her lap, intertwining their fingers.
"You are such a romantic." she teased.
Beck paused to think about this, then replied. "Yeah. Guilty. That's definitely me."
"So I did pretty good, huh?" Jade asked.
"How many times are you going to make me say amazing?" Beck asked.
"Well, good, I'm glad." Jade replied. "Because I expect an equally affectionate, doting, flawless, amazing birthday from you."
Beck laughed, and Jade repeatedly tried to explain to him that she was not kidding for the rest of their drive to the beach.