Hello, everyone! I'm sorry about going off the radar there...I took a personal hiatus to focus on getting some of my real-life stuff together. Getting myself together took longer than expected, and it was a tough process, but I got myself there. So I got all my ish together (I just love that phrase. Ish. Isn't it funny? Say it! I bet you'll chuckle) and now I can move on with the lives of these characters! But I am, again, deeply sorry for not telling you all I was taking a hiatus.
Well, if you plan to review, let me know also how your life's been going. You can rate it 1-10 if you want, or you can just say good, bad or meh. Either way, tell me something good! Cause that's what I wanna hear! :D
This chapter is for all of the people sticking with me through this-tedious, I know-process, especially my faithful reviewers. You guys make everything better.
I think I've talked long enough, and besides, who reads author's notes, anyways? Here's the next extra long chapter!
DISCLAIMER: I only own the characters of Jared, Rex, Nerina, Cadie, movie director guy, Becky, Jake, and Caleb. Any Victorious characters belong to Victorious and I am making no money off of this!
The diamond on Tori's finger shone like a star in her parent's living room. Mrs. Vega held back tears. "Oh, honey," she said in a choked voice. "I can't believe it. I'm so happy!" She enveloped Tori in a stifling hug. Her daughter was surprised, but returned the hug awkwardly.
"Really? You're okay with this?" she asked as Mrs. Vega sat down and wiped away tears. Tori's mother nodded emphatically. "We're ecstatic, honey!" she said with joy. Her father nodded. "Andre's a good man. I know he'll take care of you-won't you, son?"
Andre smiled from his seat next to Tori and nodded. "Yes, sir. I want to be with her for the rest of my life," he said honestly. He planted a kiss on Tori's cheek. She giggled. "This is the perfect night," she sighed. "I honestly don't think that anything in the world could ruin it."
At that moment, the door to her parents' house was flung open with such force that it hit the wall with a bang. Everyone jumped, and Tori let out a shriek. Trina entered, enthusiastically dragging Jake, her boyfriend of two years, behind her like a dog.
"Mommy! Daddy!" she shrieked, a crazed smile on her face. She turned. "Oh! And Tori and Andre!" Mrs. Vega stood. "What is it, sweetie, is everything okay?" she asked in a worried voice.
Trina squealed in response and held out her left hand to reveal a huge diamond-at least five carats bigger than Tori's and a lot flashier. "Jake proposed tonight! We're getting married!" she screamed.
Mrs. Vega jumped up with a happy yell and hugged her oldest daughter. Mr. Vega laughed and shook Jake's hand firmly.
Tori groaned loudly and hid her face in a pillow. "Seriously?!" she yelled. Trina looked confused. "Aw, are you jealous, little sister? Don't worry, you can still be my maid of honor," she said with a smug smile. Tori stood angrily. "I am not jealous, Trina!" she screamed. "Andre just proposed to me on the beach tonight!"
The older Vega sister examined her nails. "Well, you always had to copy me," she said. Tori crossed her arms. "I didn't even know you were engaged! When did he propose?"
"Twenty minutes ago."
"Ha! Andre proposed to me almost an hour ago so you technically copied me!"
"Not even! I'm older!"
"That's not how it works!"
"You just always want everything I have!"
"You always have to top me! You can't ever let me have my moment!"
"Because all moments should be mine! I'm the family star!"
The girls continued to argue at the top of their lungs. "Girls, please!" Mr. Vega said. He unsuccessfully tried to stop their bickering.
Jake looked over at Andre. "Did I just make a huge mistake?" he whispered. Andre chuckled and offered a shrug.
"Jake, I'm wondering the same thing," he joked.
"Let there be light," Cat mumbled, reading her bible intently. Although she and Beck didn't impose a religion on the girls, she still liked to crack open her mother's bible now and again and try to take a little wisdom from it.
A little head popped up from behind the couch. Cat smiled softly, not even bothering to turn around and see who the head belonged to. "Hello, Caleb," she said in a bored voice. Caleb frowned and clambered over the couch to sit next to her. "How'd you know it was me?" he asked curiously.
Cat laughed. "If it was one of my girls, I'd know," she assured him. "And Beck isn't fond of hiding behind couches...anymore." Though he looked put out, he quickly perked up and took a peek at the book. "What's that?" he asked with the air of immense curiosity.
The book in question was held up by Cat. "This?" she asked, clarifying. Caleb nodded. "It's...well, it's kind of like a storybook for adults," she said after a moment's thought. The boy's eyes lit up. "Wow. What kind of stories?" he asked, flipping upside down and back again. "They're supposed to help us be good people," she explained.
"Oh, like Aesop's fables. I get it." Caleb began to walk off. He turned suddenly. "Is my mom a good person?" he asked, taking a step back towards Cat. She was taken aback. "Uh, why do you ask?" she asked curiously. He shrugged. "I don't know. I was just wondering, since you were her best friend and all."
He pulled a picture out of his pocket and handed it to her. Cat looked closely at it. It was a picture of Jade and Cat in high school-in fact, she remembered when they'd taken it right down to the day.
"Jadey, look at how high I can swing!"
The goth girl rolled her eyebrows. "Whatever!" she snapped. "Can we go already?" Cat pouted as she pumped her little legs faster and faster. "If we have to," she sighed sadly. "Can't we stay for one more swing? I was almost a bird last time!"
"No. We're leaving."
"Poop," Cat whispered with another trademark pout. She jumped off of the swing and began following after her friend. Then she reached into her huge bag and pulled out a mini-Polaroid camera. "Picture time!" she chirped.
She bounced up to catch up with Jade, grabbed her arm, and pulled her into a picture. "Hey! What the hell?" Jade protested as the flash went off. "If you're going to take a picture, take it right, dumb ass." Cat covered her hands at the swear and Jade rolled her eyes yet again. She grabbed the camera.
"Stare right into it," she ordered. Cat nodded and flashed a big smile. The flash went off and a Polaroid came out. Jade snatched up the Polaroid and showed it to Cat. "Now that is a picture, freak. Take notes," she said in triumph.
"Kay Kay!" Cat said, pulling out her PearPhone. Jade groaned, stuffed the Polaroid in her pocket, and stalked off. Cat scurried after her as fast as she could.
"Wait! I didn't get the notes!"
Cat sighed as she looked at the picture. It seemed so long ago that they had been that way. The goth and the bubbly ditz. Things really had changed.
Caleb raised his eyebrows, waiting for an answer, and Cat focused back into reality. "Well, Caleb, you're right about that. Your mother is...interesting. She had a certain method of dealing with things that wasn't always smart. But...yes, your mother was a very good person," she said warmly.
She handed the crumpled Polaroid back to Caleb, who quickly tucked it back into his pocket. "So what's my mom like?" he asked eagerly. He sat down in front of Cat. She laughed and shut her bible.
"Well, she's very proud. And she's very beautiful. She loves scissors, and doing her job helping kids," Cat said with a smile. She saw Caleb lean in with the biggest grin. "And your mom loves you," she said softly, kissing his forehead. "Now, come on, let's go get some lunch."
She led him to the kitchen. They were almost there when he asked the question she knew he would.
"Can I meet her?"
"Becky, I want you to take a deep breath," Jade said, not even looking up at the girl as she wrote something down. Becky nodded, still sobbing, and inhaled until her cheeks were full of air. Not hearing an exhale, Jade looked up.
The teen was sitting there with her cheeks puffed out. Jade fought the urge to roll her eyes. Becky really could be thick. "Let it out," she said in her 'this should be obvious' tone. Becky exhaled and seemed a little more calm. "Now, why don't you start again and tell me what happened," she said, going back to writing on her pad.
Becky nodded. "Well, I told Brett, and he wants me to get rid of it!" she blubbered. Jade sighed. She was afraid that that would be his response. "Look, this is your baby," she said, looking up from her pad. "No matter what anyone says, the choice is completely yours."
"It's. Your. Choice," Jade repeated, staring at the girl. Slowly, Becky nodded. Jade tore off a piece of paper and handed it to Becky. "Here. That's the name of a good doctor for you. He helps out a lot of teen moms-he was my doctor and got me through my pregnancy," she explained. Becky looked confused. "You were pregnant? You don't have any kids...and didn't you just get married a while ago?"
Jade sighed. "I, uh, I was a teenage mother," she explained with a sigh. Becky's eyes almost popped out of her head. "No. Way. You? Omg!" she exclaimed with a laugh. Jade rolled her eyes, not even trying to hide it this time. "Yes, yes, get it all out of your system," she grumbled. Becky giggled. "I think I'm good," she said after a minute.
"All right then," Jade said, ripping off the name and handing it to Becky. "Give that to your mom. I promise you'll really like his work." The teen nodded, somber again. Jade put a hand on the teen's knee soothingly. "Listen. It'll all be okay," she said gently. Becky broke down. "It's just so hard!" she sobbed.
"Believe me, I know," Jade said with a little grimace. "Isn't the morning sickness just the worst?"
"Omg, yes!" Becky said empathetically. "I hate throwing up and I never used to do it, but now it's all the time!" Jade nodded, smiling softly. "I know. My mother used to yell at me for not getting ready on time when I was upstairs getting sick." Becky nodded and rolled her eyes. "My mom too! And she always makes fun of my clothes now, but I don't think they're that bad, just a little baggy, and..."
Jade nodded and smiled as Becky continued talking, throwing little anecdotes of her own here and there. She knew people thought that being a guidance counselor meant giving advice, but sometimes the best way to help someone was to show them that you knew how it felt.
"Yeah, dad, Tori Vega. Yeah, on Friday. I know! I can't wait to see you. Thanks, thanks. I love you. Okay, bye."
Andre hung up the phone with an earsplitting grin. He could hardly contain his excitement. He had already called his little sister, who had been so excited that she'd leaped into the air and accidentally sent her phone soaring out of her apartment window.
He had a pretty easily excitable family.
There was only one person left to call-his grandma. She was staying at the same assisted-living home she'd been in ever since Andre left for college. He knew that there was some big social problem with putting your relatives in nursing homes, but she loved it there. In fact, he'd once gone to get her (feeling guilty about putting her there in the first place) and she'd refused to leave.
He dialed the number that he knew by heart. "Hello, Shady Oaks Assisted Living," a cool voice answered. Andre furrowed his brow. This was his grandmother's personal phone. She should have answered it. He shook off his concern and replied. "Hi, I'm calling for Charlotte Harris. Is this still her phone number?" he asked.
The woman on the other line gave a little gasp of recognition. "Oh, you're her grandson," she said in realization. "We were just about to call you-you're listed as her next-of-kin. I was just about to call you, and, let you know..."
Andre began to feel a sinking sensation in the pit of his stomach. "Uh, let me know what?" he asked, dreading the answer. "I'm so sorry to tell you this," the woman on the phone began to say in a soft voice laden with grief.
"Your grandmother passed away sometime last night."
Andre's world came crashing down around him. The woman who'd raised him, the woman he'd spent years of his life living with, the woman who'd believed in him enough to fight her fears and see his concerts, was gone. Andre was reminded of being a little kid again, of the moment his dad told him that his mother had passed away.
It was just a trip to the grocery store. Three tomatoes, a can of beans, a carton of milk, eggs. That was the shopping list-he'd memorized it, reading it over and over again after she'd died. It was the last thing she'd written...the last piece of her he had.
She'd merged too quickly, the police said. Maybe she'd have been fine on a regular day. But it had to rain that day. Hydroplaning, she spun around, out of control, screaming, until she flipped-
And then fire.
His father couldn't look at his children. Andre had her face, her eyes, her smile. His father couldn't handle it. So Andre went to live with his grandmother when he was only ten.
But she couldn't handle it either.
It started with a rather understandable fear of driving. It wasn't unusual to fear the thing that took her only daughter's life. But them she became afraid of strangers. And then rabbis. And then the Internet. Before long, she was reduced to a cowering mess of woman, and it was little Andre doing the caregiving, for years and years, until the day she-
"Sir?" the woman on the phone inquired. "Are you okay? We have grief counselors standing by-" Andre hung up the phone abruptly, put his head on his desk, and began sobbing uncontrollably.
The counselor's chair Tori was sitting in was uncomfortably itchy. She resisted the urge to scratch her arm as the crew continued to set up the shot. Instead, she looked one last time at her script, praying that she'd memorized everything.
"Okay, everybody ready?" the director asked. They all nodded. "Roll it!" the director called. A crew member walked up. "Scene 21 apple, take one," he said. Then there was a snap. Tori began writing on the pad like she was supposed to. She knew that all this footage would be covered with a voice over, but it still felt super awkward.
And then, the cherry on top, her phone rang.
"Cut!" the director said in an annoyed voice. Tori sighed. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry!" she said, going over to pick up her phone. It was Andre. That was a little unusual...she'd better take it. "Just one minute!" she said, taking the call. "Andre?" she asked.
When Andre told her the news she almost dropped her phone.
"I'm on my way," she told him soothingly, hanging up. The director walked over, arms crossed. "Well?" he asked impatiently. "I have to go, I'm sorry," she said apologetically. "It's my fiancé...his, uh, his...mother passed away, I need to go get him."
"We need to finish this scene today!" the director said huffily. "We're on a time crunch, and as you know, Tori, time is money!"
"Then shoot the family scene instead and take it out of my salary," Tori said distractedly, packing up all of her things as quickly as she could. The director sighed and nodded. "All right, fine. You can go," he grumbled. Tori didn't even bother to say thank you, racing out of the door as fast as she could.
The director watched her go, then turned back around. "All right, people, set up for scene 17! Let's move it!"
When the phone rang, Jared was going to let Jade get it. But it didn't seem like she had any interest in answering any house phones, and the ringing was just going to continue interrupting his work, so he finally bit the bullet and picked the phone up himself.
"Hello?" he asked. Cat's high pitched bell voice rang through the phone. "Hi, Jared!" He smiled despite himself. Cat was such a ray of sunshine, and such a good friend of theirs, that she always manage to brighten his day.
"Let me guess," he joked, leaning back in his chair a bit. "You called to hear all about my corporate research." Cat laughed, making him laugh as well. "Close, but no," she replied. "Is Jade there?" Jared remembered that Jade hadn't picked up the phone and decided to respect that gesture. "Uh, no she isn't, sorry," he said. "Oh, that's fine then. I'll just tell you," Cat said.
"I was actually calling about a favor."
He nodded. "Okay, shoot," he said. "Well, I have this little commercial thing that I'm going to be shooting tomorrow-"
"A commercial? Wow, Cat. That's fabulous, congratulations," he said with a smile. She laughed again. "Thank you. Well, the thing is it's all day, and I was wondering if Jade would watch Caleb and the girls for me while I'm gone." Jared was stunned into silence. Jade had wanted to meet Caleb her whole life. This was the opportunity she'd been praying for.
He smiled at Cat's good heart. "Is Beck going out of town?" he asked. "Oh, no, I just figured we could both use a day off...and the girls should spend more time with their godmother anyways," she said in a light voice. Jared could tell she had rehearsed what she would say during this call.
He smiled again. "She'd be happy to," he said with a little laugh. As Cat thanked him and hung up, all he could think about was how happy Jade would be to see her child. What a stroke of luck! Cat landed a commercial and Jade got to watch the kids.
Tomorrow would be a fabulous day.
The bar was chock full of people that Tori had to maneuver through. It was really very annoying. She led a somber Andre through the crowd as best as she could. "So, uh, why do you want to come here?" she asked in as calm a voice she could muster at the time.
Andre found them two seats at the bar and plopped down immediately. Tori sat next to him more carefully and waited for an answer. After a long pause, Andre answered in a low voice.
"This was where my grandma met my granddad." Tori looked around. "In a...biker bar?" she asked curiously. Andre shrugged. "It used to be a malt shop," he explained. Tori nodded. Andre ordered them two Pinots, apparently his grandma's favorite wine, and stared at the counter for several moments. After a while of this, Tori spoke up.
"I'm so sorry for your loss, Andre," she murmured. "I loved your grandma." Andre turned his head and stared at her. "You thought she was crazy," he stated bluntly. Tori wasn't sure how to respond to that. She sat in silence for a minute. "It's okay, everyone did," he said finally, cracking a tiny smile.
She put a hand on his back comfortingly. His head was turned downwards. "I just don't want to think about it," he mumbled suddenly. He slammed his drink down on the table. "It shouldn't have happened, Tori!" he yelled in her face, his own expression one of great rage. "Not to her!"
Breaking down, he slumped over and began to cry. Tori hugged him tightly from behind. She tried to put all of her love for him into that hug. "Andre," she began softly. "I know that this is going to be hard. And I know that you miss her. It's not going to be easy. But your grandmother wouldn't want you to stop living because of her." Andre wiped his tears and sat in silence for what seemed like forever.
Finally, he sighed. "Well, grandma would kill me if she knew I was going on like this," he said with a little laugh. Tori smiled as well. He lifted his glass to the sky somberly, and Tori followed suit. "Here's to you, grandma," he said with a small tip of his glass. They clinked glasses, and sat for another two hours, remembering Charlotte Audriana Harris.
"So why is Jade watching the kids tomorrow? I'll be here," Beck said. As he spoke, he observed his wife carefully. She was zipping around the room as fast as she could with her protruding stomach getting in her way, her cherry red ponytail swinging wildly as she cleaned up their room and put things away. Beck sat on the bed, patiently waiting for her to stop her cleaning frenzy long enough to talk to him.
She stopped long enough to put her hair up into a messy bun. "I told you, I have to go out all day and she wants to spend some time with them. Besides, she's practically right next door," Cat explained, taking some underwear out of the laundry basket and walking the lingerie over to its proper place.
Beck frowned. He didn't remember hearing anything about an all-day anything. "I'm still confused. Where do you have to be tomorrow?" he asked. Cat sighed and bit her lip. "I, uh, I'm going to be filming. For that commercial opportunity I told you about," she said with a little bit of fear mixed in her voice.
Her husband's jaw dropped.
"You said yes to that?" he asked in disbelief. "Cat, I said I wasn't okay with it!" Cat sighed and angrily set the laundry basket down on the bed, across from Beck. "Well, I am okay with it," she said in a stubborn tone. "And after all, what makes you think you have a say in what job I take, anyways?"
He looked at her incredulously. "Our wedding vows!" he exclaimed. Cat huffed and began angrily opening drawers. Beck stood and walked up to her. "Cat, you can't just make important decisions without telling me!" he said angrily. She pulled out a shirt of Beck's and began angrily folding it.
"Beck, it's hardly an important decision! It's a day of work smiling and talking about baby diapers," Cat said in exasperation. Beck put his hands to his head. "It's not about that, Cat! We're supposed to make these decisions together! If you want to go ahead and do something life-changing, at least have the decency to tell me first!" he shouted at her.
The pair of socks Cat had been folding was thrown into the sock drawer with so much force that they slammed the drawer closed. Cat seemed unfazed and picked up another pair. "You want to talk to me about life-changing decisions? Then let's talk about the eleven year old boy sitting in our guest room!" she said with a scoff.
"And we're back to this!" Beck said, throwing his hands up in the air. "Yes, Beck, we're back to this! This is a huge thing that you've just thrust on us, and you just expect me to be-"
"To be what? Supportive?! Damn it, Cat, he's my son! I shouldn't have to ask for your support! He's not even yours!"
"Oh, you'd just love to remind me of that, wouldn't you? You think I like having a reminder of the fact that you slept with my best friend living in our house?!"
"What? Just because he's here, Jade and I will magically get back together and I'll leave you? You are so immature! You know that won't happen!"
"No, Beck, I don't know!" Cat screamed, pulling at her cherry red hair like she always did when she'd reached her wit's end. "God, you make me so...so..."
"So?!" Beck challenged, at the same volume as her, his anger fueled by her stubbornness.
"SO ANGRY!" Cat finally screeched. "I'm angry." She said it quietly, confused by this emotion. It was a side of her that she had never really explored, and she'd certainly never used the word angry to describe her feelings before. She put her hands to her huge belly as if in a trance. The feeling she got was an odd new one, but it was exhilarating at the same time.
Beck, oblivious to his wife's personal revelation, kept barreling right along with his argument. "Cat, even if I felt that way about Jade, which I DON'T, we have three kids together! You really think I would just leave you like that? God, sometimes you are just so stupid!"
Cat gasped and opened her mouth in shock, looking like she'd been slapped.
Beck shut his eyes tightly, instantly regretting his words. They both knew the weight that word carried with his wife. She'd been belittled, teased, harassed...and always that word. Stupid.
When they were dating, Cat would always gush about how sweet Beck was to her, how different he was, how nice. And he'd never once said she was stupid-how could she be? To him, she was perfect. Four years of dating, almost five years of marriage, and three kids, and not once had he said that word to his beautiful Cat.
Tears spilled out of Cat's eyes, and Beck felt his heart break. "Cat, baby, I-" he began, hoping to get through to her that it was a mistake, that he loved her. She shook her head slightly, slowly, stopping him in his tracks. "All these years," she said softly. "All these years, all these people-my best friends, my brother, my parents- and you were the only person who never told me I was stupid."
She took a deep breath and wiped her tears away. "Well, let's get to bed, it's getting late," she said in a scratchy voice. She turned around and began to pull the covers down. Beck sighed, running a hand through his hair. "Cat, please. I'm...I'm so sorry, I..."
His wife fixed him with a look that could freeze fire. He trailed off lamely.
"Beck, if you try and stop me from walking out that door tomorrow morning, I swear I will take your kids and walk out anyways." With that chilling pronouncement, Cat put up the last pillow barrier that kept the two apart and struggled into bed resolutely.
Her husband sighed and slid into bed next to her, praying to every entity above that he and Cat could make it through this. After all, the baby was almost on the way.
From far away, Beck felt like he could distantly hear the echo of his word, and he covered his face with a pillow in an attempt to block out the sound.
It continued all night.
The air around Robbie's bathroom smelled unbearable. Rex wrinkled his nose as he was walking past. "Ugh," he muttered under his breath. "Stupid cologne."
Robbie had been in there for almost an hour, trying various combinations in an effort to smell good so that Cat would swoon over him. He wasn't sure he'd hit the right balance yet, and he was getting nervous-about the whole day. But then, he supposed that that was normal.
Who didn't get nervous when they were about to make love to the girl of their dreams for the first time?
He added a little more Dior and gave his reflection a dashing smile. This wasn't high school. He wasn't the awkward nerd anymore. He was Robert Shapiro, lady killer.
It was time to show Cat that.
"Eat your grapes, sweetie," Cat said to Nerina. The little girl sighed and began mechanically popping them in her mouth. Cat smiled, satisfied, and went back to making pancakes. Caleb looked at her, then at Beck, who was eating at the counter with his head down and a worried expression. He could tell something had happened last night, but decided to let it slide. "You look pretty," he told Cat instead.
She beamed at him as she put his pancakes down in front of him. "Thank you, Caleb," she said, sounding pleasantly surprised. "That's very sweet of you to say." Beck caught a glimpse of his wife. She did look gorgeous. She'd done her hair in layered waves that fell over her shoulders gracefully, and her makeup was natural and fresh. He sighed.
Cat took a glance at her watch. Seven twenty eight. She'd have to leave in just a couple of minutes. Beck came up behind her, praying that she wouldn't make a scene in front of the kids. "You leaving soon?" he asked softly. "Just a couple of minutes," she responded without looking at him.
He nodded. Cat finished cleaning up and turned to her kids. "Okay, babies, I'm going now. Be good for your auntie Jade, okay?" They all nodded and replied with choruses of "yes, mom". Cat grabbed their cheeks and gave each one of them a big kiss on the head, including, to everyone's surprise, Caleb.
"I love you! Be good!" she called, walking towards the garage. She turned to blow a kiss and caught her eldest in the act. "Nerina Jade, not one more squirt of syrup on that pancake!"
"Aw, mom!" Nerina pouted. Cat laughed, blew another kiss, and then she was gone.
Beck sighed and tried to read his paper. He couldn't help but feel like something horrible was going to happen-but he was probably overreacting.
Cat was right. What could happen at a commercial shoot?
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