the harmony of us

..

Tori/André

the situation turns around enough to figure out
that someone else has let you down
so many times I don't know why
but I know we can make it
as long as you say it

- tell me that you love me, victoria justice & leon thomas ii

..

Sometimes, Tori thinks that they would be better off without her.

She sees when they're sitting at the table, a mass of contradictions- snarky Jade, bubby Cat, quirky Robbie, cool Beck, chill André- and she wonders if there is anything specific that sets her apart. Sure, she is talented and pretty, but there are more important things than beauty, right?

Like leaving a legacy.

At times, she thinks (internally, obviously) that if she died, none of them would care in the least. They've been friends for ages, and who is she to change that?

She feels as if she's the leech of the group, grabbing onto anything with a heartbeat, sucking all the life out of them and never letting go.

And it's moments like these- where everyone is sitting together in that diverse but happy group that seems to work so well- when she considers that she's completely validated in her thoughts.

These days, she just slinks away to the bathroom with her paper-bag lunch and eats alone over the toilet.

They never notice.

..

"Stay away from me, Vega," Jade hisses, her hand slipped into Beck's in that sweet and caring way that honestly makes Tori want to vomit.

"I didn't say anything," Tori replies, eyes wide.

"Yeah," Jade spits bitterly. "Yeah, but you were going to say something, and I don't want to hear it."

Tori's eyes follow Jade in amazement (and a little bit of admiration). She's amazed at the girl's audacity and jealous of the fact that it all comes down to three words: Jade has Beck.

And therefore, Tori does not.

Sure, she has his sympathy that shines sometimes when Jade's given her a particularly sharp tongue-lashing, or his hugs when she cries. But he is not hers- no, Jade will never let her forget that.

Sighing, she turns back to André, who gives her his typical sympathetic smile and shrug. "Why does Jade hate me so much?" she asks innocently.

"Maybe she's jealous," André offers with a hearty chuckle, because he's André and everything is funny to him.

"Jealous," Tori replies, her voice softening. "Somehow, I doubt that."

Somehow, she thinks it's the other way around.

..

One night, when she's lonely, she calls André to come watch sappy movies with her and eat popcorn.

He laughs nervously before telling her that he's out with Cat. There's always someone else, isn't there?

Because she's not mean (no, she's not Jade), she just nods, hangs up the phone, and spends the night sobbing into her popcorn alone.

..

It feels like something like loneliness when she wakes up the next day.

Sure, she follows her normal pattern of getting dressed, eating breakfast, and going to school, but it doesn't feel as normal as she should. In fact, when she sees Cat walking with André and Jade walking with Beck, she feels like going back home.

Sure, Robbie smiles at her and greets her, but other than that, it is as if she doesn't exist. This, she is not prepared for. Normally, she is Tori Vega, the amazing singer and the center of attention for everyone.

She is not used to non-existence.

The rest of the day, she becomes listless and depressed, weary, even. She does not listen to anything that goes on around her, and when André finally decides to extend an invitation to her to join them for lunch, she declines. If she really belonged- if she really fit in- then they would not have to invite her, would they?

When she gets home that night, she stares in the mirror, wondering if she really is invisible. Her reflection peers back- her mussed brown waves, her sunken face, her 'cute cheekbones'.

All she can think about is André and his sudden friendship with Cat. Isn't he supposed to be her best friend? What would have made him ditch her all of a sudden?

Her eyes travel back to the mirror. Perhaps it's her face, she considers, but she remembers his constant compliments about her face and her cheekbones. Nothing has changed since then, has it?

Impulsively, her eyes travel down the mirror to her body, and she realises with a start that her constant snacking has caused her to put on a few pounds. It terrifies her. Maybe she is losing all of her friends because she is just a fat loser.

Her finger somehow finds its way to her throat and she feels herself choking until what she'd eaten for lunch is staring at her from the toilet, gross in all its glory. Quickly, she flushes the toilet, not in the mood to stare at it. Her throat burns- her body burns- but maybe, she determines, it's for the best.

Feeling weak and useless, she staggers back to her bed and collapses on it. She can hear the off-key notes of Trina's singing piercing her ears. Curled up in a ball, hands over her ears, she falls asleep, feeling even more weak and useless than before.

When she wakes up later that night, the pile of books beside her bed threatens to crush her in her enormity, and she considers that maybe the 'easy way out' is the way to go her.

But no, she thinks, shaking her head. For heaven's sake, she's Tori Vega, and she's not the type to do anything desperate like that.

No one can see the desperate girl that's hidden so far beneath.

So she trudges through the rest of her work and falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow.

In her dreams, she is loved.

..

For a few months, her schedule goes like that. It's a whirlwind of school (she eats by herself in the bathroom every day), purging everything that she's eaten, homework, and sleeping. She does not feel the urge to see everyone. At every invitation she is extended, she declines it.

She has finally found out one of the many truths of life- that there's no point in getting close to people because you see, they will only hurt you.

Most of the day, she spends her time avoiding people. Sometimes, she and Cat will have a short conversation in class, or she'll exchange Chemistry notes with Beck. But she is not a part of the group any more, and you see, it's better that way.

They look happy still, satisfied, and they have every right to be. They're amazing and talented and she's just… Tori. Just Tori, and really, that's all she'll ever be.

As she continues to purge after every meal, her wrists become tinier and tinier until she's almost wasting away. But it's satisfying in some sort of sick way. Maybe one day she'll die and then everything will be better for everyone, right?

Right?

There's a nagging voice in the back of her head, telling her that life is what she makes it and she's only screwing things up for herself. But the rest of her is the overwhelming voice that tells her that she's being selfless here for once, improving things for everyone else while worsening them for herself.

Good, selfless Tori. She might as well be a hero.

But she's so tired and sad all the time that dark circles have begun to develop under her eyelids. Her teeth yellow from all the vomiting, and she looks like a patient from a mental asylum, doesn't she? But no one notices because obviously no one cares.

Everyone just leaves her to her own downfall.

..

The first people to confront her are, unsurprisingly, her parents. They just tell her quietly, "Victoria Vega, we need to talk to you."

She knows that when they use her full name it's serious business, so she doesn't refuse for once. Instead, she relents, sitting down across from her parents, who look at her out of accusing {unloving} dark eyes.

"What do you think you're doing?" her mother asks, and it's not accusing like she thought it would be but it stings even more than she thought it would.

She decides to play innocent, because if there's one thing that she can do, it's act. She pastes on a pretty smile and tells them sweetly (but sharply), "I don't know what you're talking about." She does denial better than anyone else.

Her parents stare at her, stares that are almost glares, but filled with pity. All she wants is a way out, because her throat is burning and she feels the ghost of what was her lunch coming back up. She does not want to be here, having this conversation, though she supposes it was inevitable.

"You know what we're talking about," her mother says, her fingers closing around Tori's thin wrist. "And we want to help you-"

"It's a little too late for that, isn't it?" Tori replies sharply. It's mean, maybe, but the new Tori is meaner and sharper than the old Tori so she doesn't really care anymore.

Their disapproving stares indicate that they're just as disappointed in her as she is in herself. She bites her lip, not wanting to look them in the eyes. This new, disrespectful Tori reminds her slightly of Jade, of a beast with an insecure little girl hiding somewhere deep away inside (and she doesn't like it, not really).

"What- who are you?" Her mother finally manages to get out. Her mother's fingernails dig into Tori's skin, leaving imprints before she finally lets go, her eyes searching Tori's guilty face. "I don't feel like I know you anymore. I don't know who you've become."

Trina walks down right then, thankfully, still singing quietly to herself. But once she sees the three, she stops, eyes wide. "Oh, look, is perfect little Tori in trouble?"

No, Tori wants to yell back. No, perfect little Tori is not in existence, because Tori is not perfect. Tori is messed up, so very messed up that it's unbelievable. But she doesn't yell anything, because she's already in deep enough trouble, so she shoots Trina a sickeningly sweet smile and walks up the stairs, head dizzy with thoughts.

She runs straight to the toilet and throws up again. But this time, she doesn't have to make herself throw up.

..

The next person to confront her is André, but not really, since he's your stereotypical non-confrontational chill boy. He simply walks up to her one day at school, putting an arm on her locker so that she can't escape, and tells her quietly, "I miss you."

Three simple words that pierce her straight to the heart, but she doesn't know how to react.

No is all she can think. No, he can't miss her. She's not a good person, she's not the kind of person that people should miss, and the whole point of pulling away from them was so that they wouldn't miss her. So that they would forget about her and stop thinking about her. So that things would go back to the way they were before she showed up.

She blinks away the tears that start to well up in her eyes because no, she isn't weak, she's a strong girl now, or at least, she thought she was. With a strong nod, she tells him, "You shouldn't."

The words hang in the air between them before he speaks. "I think I know what I'm getting myself into, Vega." Affectionately, he ruffles her hair.

"I don't think you do, really," she tells him sweetly, her tone sarcastic yet honest. "I'm messed up. You all should just forget about me and go back to the way that things were, with your messes of contradictions and stuff."

"We all miss you," he tells her, disregarding her protests. "Even Jade, sometimes. She misses having a girl to mess with who won't cry."

A small smile graces her face at the small reference to Cat, but she bites her lip. "I doubt it."

"You're special, Tori," he tells her honestly, and for a second, she believes him.

But then the belief is gone, just like a whisper in the wind, and she walks away again, the doubts hissing in her mind.

..

One night, her phone buzzes. At this point in time, it has become such a rare occurrence that she thinks that perhaps her mom has died or something of equal impact, so she picks up. Before, her phone used to buzz all the time, but she would never answer. They stopped ringing after a while. But now, when André's voice floods her ear, she immediately regrets it.

"What?" is what comes out, her voice barely a whisper.

"Tori," he says, his voice filled with relief and happiness. "I… I didn't think that you would pick up."

"I didn't think I would either," she tells him honestly. "What is it that's so important?"

"I just… would you just hang out with me for one day?" he pleads. "One day, that's all I ask. Then you can go back to… whatever you were doing." His tone is filled with humour, like always, but it doesn't ring in the same way that it used to.

"One day?" she replies dubiously. Part of her wants to jump at the offer, to go back to the life that she was living before, where she had friends and a social life. But part of her is still 'unselfish' and wants to let them keep living their lives, because obviously they're happy with the way that things are going.

"One day," he confirms. She can picture him in her mind, what he must be doing right now- the smile spreading across his handsome face. But she blocks it out, deeming it too painful.

"I'm in," she replies at last, her breath coming a little quicker than before.

"Tomorrow at the park," he tells her firmly. "Don't be late."

Then the line goes dead. He doesn't say goodbye, but she thinks maybe it's better that way. She's tired of goodbyes and hello agains. She's tired of basically everything, so she runs back upstairs and falls asleep.

However, tonight, she doesn't cry herself to sleep. It's a welcome change.

..

He's there, just as he said he would be, looking expectantly at his watch. She walks up quietly, offering him a smile. "André."

"Tori, you came," he says, his tone alight with happiness. "Sit down, girl, it's been ages!"

"Yeah," she replies, sort of embarrassed. "How's life treating you?"

"Good, girl, good," he tells her. "I've been writing a few new songs. Do you want to hear one?"

"Uh, yeah," she answers, because it seems kind of weird and cruel to refuse. "Go for it."

"You're sitting there with your empty stare," he begins, strumming at the guitar he's picked up from beside him. "You tell me that no one cares… don't you know that you're beautiful to me?" He continues to play, the notes flowing from his guitar and creating a beautiful melody, but all she can concentrate on is what comes out of his mouth. The song- it's just so beautiful. She knows that he's talking about her and she doesn't know how to feel about that.

Once he finally finishes the song, she sits there, her mouth open in shock or something of the like. Finally, she finds the words to speak. "Why did you write this?"

She knows what he's going to say. Deep inside, she honestly doesn't want him to, as it'll just cause more pain for both of them. But somehow, she does want him to, because those three words are exactly the ones that she has been wanting to hear.

He says them anyway. "I love you."

Her mouth drops.

All she can think of is why would he love me, but she doesn't voice her insecurities. Instead, she just waits until her heart stops beating so fast and whispers back, "You shouldn't."

It's not a question of should or should not, she knows, but she feels it should be said.

The smile does not falter from his face. "Is that a no?"

"It's a we'll see," she replies, standing up. He does the same, and she stretches up on her tippy toes to give him a chaste kiss on the lips. As she pulls away, she looks into his eyes- so sincere- and she feels guilty.

"Dang," he says, one of his strong hands clasping around her wrist. "You've lost weight."

It's an André thing to do, to not filter his words, and it stings. Wriggling her wrist out of his grip, she sends him a half-smile. "I've got to get home. My mom expects me to help Trina with homework, and…"

"It's awkward here," he laughs. "I see how it is."

"No, André, just…" her face goes scarlet.

"I'm joking," he promises her. "Go home, get some rest, think things over. I know it's weird… I mean, we haven't talked in two months and now this…"

"Overwhelming," she agrees, fidgeting with her bracelet.

Then, just to avoid the goodbye, she flees, because she's never been courageous, really. Brave, maybe, but surely not courageous in the least.

..

The next day after school, while her parents and Trina are off at some audition, she gets an unexpected visitor.

At first, she thinks it is a stalker and hides under her bed. Then, she thinks it's André. But when she finally gets the courage to open the door, she finds that it's neither.

"Vega," Jade greets her icily, stepping inside the apartment.

"This is my house," she says coolly.

Jade raises an eyebrow as if to say "and your point is?". "So?"

"What are you doing here?" Tori wonders, looking from her to the doorway.

"I came to talk to you about something." The corners of Jade's mouth turn up into an evil smile as she looks around.

Shrugging, Tori just relents. "All right, talk."

"Look, Vega," Jade begins sharply, never one to hide her feelings, "I don't know what you're playing at with all this… stuff. With the not sleeping, the sulking, the avoiding everyone who cares about you. But it's not going over well with any of us. Everyone's worried about you and obviously Harris is about suicidal over all of this. And guess what, Vega? I don't like it. And when Jade West doesn't like something, you better believe it's going to change."

The guilt starts to consume her at Jade's words. Tone trembling, she asks, "Suicidal? Really?"

"Near it," Jade rolls her eyes. "He loves you, Vega. So stop whatever you're playing at. Depression is not beneficial to anyone, and you know, it's kind of weird not having you around."

Then she gets up, slinging her bag over her shoulder. Tori blinks in surprise. "That's it?"

"That's all I have to say," Jade shrugs. "Pull yourself together, why don't you?"

And with that, Jade West leaves, leaving Tori to reconsider.

She ends up going up to her room, peering into the shiny glass mirror with a curious expression on her face. What she sees shocks her.

She's not Tori Vega, superstar. She's not the girl of yesterday. No, she's the girl with painted smiles, yellowing teeth, a too-thin body, and circles under her dark eyes. She does not look pretty, nor does she look happy.

Tears running down her face, she jumps back into her bed, wondering absently how André could ever love someone like her.

She falls asleep to the rhythm of her pounding heart.

..

When she gets to school the next day, she sees him.

Immediately, her mind floods with images- the feel of his lips against hers, the brilliant smile on his face when he sees her- and guilt is the dominant emotion. But then it's followed closely by something like love.

Walking up to him, she slowly puts her hand on his cheek before leaning in and cautiously pressing her lips to his. He responds almost immediately, probably confused but delighted.

Once she pulls away, he stares at her. "What brought this on, girl?"

"I… I'm ugly," she tells him abashedly, staring at the ground. "But somehow, you see beyond that, beyond the circles and insane thinness and… chiz."

He laughs. He actually laughs. Then he kisses her again, stronger this time, and tells her with the utmost of confidence, "I love you. Not your looks, dude, you."

"What do you see in me, anyway?" she continues on hurriedly, anxious to know.

"You're a genuinely kind person," he tells her with a shrug. "I don't see that in everyone."

She eats lunch with them that day for the first time in two months. The rhythm of Robbie's jokes blends together with the peaceful harmony of Jade and Rex's insults and the harmonious sound of Beck and André's laughter. She pitches in with her snarky comments, and she finds that, rather than disrupting the music, she only amplifies it.

And maybe that's what she is in the group, an amplifier.

..

At the end of the day, she thanks him.

"What for?" he asks, looking surprised.

"You know," she wrings her hands together. "Without you, André, I wouldn't be here. I wouldn't be at this school, I wouldn't have the friends I have, and well, I might not even be alive."

His eyes travel from her thin wrists to her dark face and his face breaks into a smile. "You know," he tells her seriously, "I would do it all again if I had to."

She wraps her arms around him, resting her head on his chest, and she thinks absently that this- her head on his chest, his arms around her waist- is where she feels at home.

..

That night, when she gets home, she reflexively heads straight for the toilet.

Then the events of the day replay in her mind- "I love you, you're a genuinely kind person, not your looks.."- and she hesitates for a second before backing up. It doesn't come immediately, as it usually does, and she doesn't feel like sticking her finger down her throat, so she runs back to her room.

She calls André and tells him. He congratulates her.

And maybe everything isn't solved yet, because problems just don't vanish just like that, but maybe her downfall is going uphill.

..

A/N: No idea what this is, but. I have heard that people from my lovely forum have been feeling this way (and me too) and I hope that nobody ever has to feel this way.

Please, be a dear and read and review. Don't favorite without reviewing.

My first attempt at Tori/André, so let me know if I completely failed or anything. I mean, I ship it, I just have never written it, and Tandré intrigues me. But I probably failed at writing Tori, as I don't like or get her character, so yeah.

Angstiness is angsty.

Read and review, please!