One and Only
PART I: BECK OLIVER
baby, I'd rather die without you and I
it's been a long time since I came around
been a long time but I'm back in town
this time I'm not leaving without you
- you and i as performed by elizabeth gillies
He takes the first bus out of the city.
The lights blare around him, and all he wants is to return home and sleep. Jittery nerves jolt him awake. All he can remember is her face, the sparkle of her eyes, and he wants nothing more than to hold her once more.
The problem is, he hasn't talked to her in a year—or has it been more? At one point, she'd been such an integral part of his life that he couldn't imagine letting her go. Now, he's been living on his own without her, and though (at first) it was harder than he'd ever imagined, he pushed through it. He'd dated a few girls, and he imagines that she'd done the same.
The problem was that none of them were her. None of them had the same carefree attitude that she possessed; none of them could wear practically anything and still look beautiful. None of them were Jade, and he hated to admit that he liked her more than anyone else he'd found.
The lights become dimmer as the cab circles yet another corner. Biting his lip, he imagines seeing her again. What if she's with another boy? What if she's with some big time movie star and wants nothing more to do with him?
No, he chides himself internally. Beck Oliver does not get jealous, especially over nonexistent boys that are, in essence, just figments of his imagination. Besides, he doubts that she would be with a movie star. Hadn't she claimed once that she despised boys that were too caught up in fame to see beyond it?
The cab comes to a stop, drawing him out of his thoughts. He pays the cab driver lavishly, having no qualms about giving to others. Then he takes a moment to stare at the RV.
It's still perched outside of his parents' RV, as it always has been. The fact that neither of his parents' cars are in the driveway indicates that (to his immediate relief) neither of his parents are at home.
Autumn leaves are scattered haphazardly on the ground, and they crunch under his feet as he makes his way to the RV. Once he gets there, though, he finds that the lights are already on.
Alarmed, he precariously tugs on the door, hoping that maybe the RV is just brighter than he remembers, but no. Someone is sprawled across his bed, looking like they belong there. Carefully, he calls, "Hello?", hoping for a response.
"You're back," someone responds. The person sits up, her hair spilling into her face as she smirks.
"How did you get in here—never mind," he cuts off hastily, preferring instead to take in the sight of her. She's just as he had envisioned when he had pictured her so many times before, in a black dress with her standard combat boots, but she's grown her hair out so that it's no longer the morbid jet black of his memories. "How did you know I was here?"
"André told me," she replies casually, as if it's the most natural thing ever for her to be in his house whilst he's off filming a movie in another part of the state. "He's started working at the local airport, but then again, I suppose you wouldn't know that." She shifts slightly, staring at him in a probing way that he knows means she's about to ask a question. Running her hand through her hair—which, he notices, is back to its original shade of chestnut brown that he so adores—she questions, "So, you're back?"
"No, I didn't know that," he sighs, wondering what else he's missed and when André and Jade even became friends. "But yes, I'm back." His eyes move to trace the gentle curve of her lips, before inevitably shooting back to her hair. Quietly, he says, "You let your hair grow out again."
"Yeah, André likes it this way," Jade runs a hand through her hair, letting it fall back to her shoulders.
For whatever reason, anger flares up in him once again—would André really have gone for his girl while he was gone? He starts to spit something out in anger, but Jade interrupts him. "Hang on there, jealous boy. André and I—well, we aren't dating. We're just good friends."
His eyes snap up to meet hers. "Do you want to be dating him?"
Her eyes seemed to freeze over at his words, but she shook her head nonetheless. "Beck Oliver, I don't see how it's any of your business—"
He cuts her off this time, leaning forward to press his lips to hers—gently at first, but with a growing intensity. She tugs him closer, her lips familiar and cold against his. They continue like this for a few minutes before he pulls away at last. Breathlessly, he whispers, "That's how it's my business." He pauses. "We never officially broke up, did we?"
Her eyes are downcast, and he has to wonder about her hesitation and the fact that she doesn't seem quite as enthusiastic to see him as he'd imagined (though of course, Jade West is rarely enthusiastic about anything). Finally, she looks back up at him. "I suppose we didn't."
Feverishly, he kisses her again, and tries to forget the suspicions that are nagging at the back of his mind.
One day around lunch time, he calls her up and asks her out for a simplistic date. Though the two of them have never been ones to follow the traditional ideas of what a 'date' should look like, he has the sudden urge to do things right this time, and this seems like the best way to do it.
She shows up with a frown stretched across her face. Hesitantly, she sits down across from him, her glare still as condescending as the moment she walked in.
"Hey," he greets her, grinning from ear to ear, his smile perfectly contrasting the scowl on her face.
She shoots him a disgusted glare, but sits down anyway. Leaning forward, she hisses, "Beck, why are we here? In public? I hate people!"
Despite the fact that her words are hardly amusing, he finds himself laughing under his breath. "Jade, you don't hate everyone."
Her words are scathing as she retorts, "I truly, honestly do." Then she settles back into her chair, eyes darting defensively about the room. He watches her, taking in her gorgeous face once again as they sit there, not knowing what to say.
"How've you been?" he murmurs quietly, trying to figure out if this is an appropriate thing to say to a girl like Jade or not.
She stares at him, as if she does not even comprehend his words. When she speaks at last, her words seem to be sheathed in poison. "Wonderful. The past year has been just terrific, with you dropping off the face of the earth and never even explaining why. I bet you've been having a lot of fun with your cast members and whatnot."
"Actually," he retorts, his glare fixated on her, "not really. It was boring, and basically, I was hoping for some sort of opportunity to get out of there."
"Miss me?" she wonders, drumming her fingers against the table, the constant tapping corresponding with the speedy beating of his heart.
He considers his answer for a moment. As far as he knows, Jade West is not one for displays of affection, public or otherwise, but she's actually asking for it this time. He has a feeling that if he doesn't comply with her wishes, he's going to get thrown out like a rotten piece of meat. So he smiles, and looking into her eyes, says, "I did miss you. I thought about you every day."
The edges of her mouth turn up, but she throws the plastic apple on the center of the table at him anyway. "Sap."
"You asked for it," he retorts with a grin. Looking over at her, he takes her hand, loving the sensation of her skin against his. It's this that he's missed—holding hands with her, feeling her fingers slip between his perfectly. What most people don't know (and probably would never guess) is that she has soft hands, softer than most girls'. Despite her constant scissor use, her hands still feel as smoother than the hands of the celebrities that he dated during his movie.
He gives her hand a squeeze and smiles at her, but as always, she doesn't return it. Instead, she stares down at the ground. He doesn't take the time to analyze it, because she's Jade and since when does anything that she does make sense?
That is, until he turns around and sees André Harris standing right behind him.
He feels a shocked Jade tug her hand out of his, and he just turns around to take it all in. It's almost too much to handle. He hasn't seen André in a year, a whole year, but it's almost as if nothing has changed.
Pretending that everything's okay, Beck smiles and stands up. "Hey, man, it's been forever! How've you been?"
"Beck, man! You're back," André grins at him, pulling him into a shoulder hug. Beck tries to pretend that he doesn't see André's eyes travel to Jade's face even as he 'hugs' Beck. Once André lets go, he looks to Jade once again, and Beck nearly grits his teeth in frustration. All that's running through his head is so much for just good friends.
Obviously trying to sound casual, André asks, "So, uh, what are you guys doing here?"
"Oliver here thinks it's a good idea for us to pretend to be normal and go on a date," Jade hisses, seemingly trying to show her disdain for the idea while breaking the news to André. Beck wants to punch something—really, do they think that he is that stupid? His eyes study Jade's face for a moment, before he looks back to André.
They (André and Jade) are both looking at each other.
"I'm completely normal," Beck protests, crossing his arms across his chest. "I don't know about you guys, though—"
"Yeah, I'm not normal," Jade reminds him, her face splitting into a slight frown. "Get used to it."
Her gaze travels back to an amused-looking André, and she stands up, still looking quite torn. Beck watches her (how can he look away?) as she looks between the two of them, remorse spilling into her expression for the first time. With a flip of her hair, she says, "Yeah, sorry, this is too cliché. I'm leaving. Bye."
The two boys stare awkwardly at each other for a moment. Finally, Beck sits down, picking up his menu once again. He peers at André over the top of his menu. "Care for a snack?"
"Sure," André relents, sitting down across from him. The two of them watch Jade like some sort of magnetic force is pulling them to her, but once she leaves, the awkwardness resumes.
Beck leaves soon after and decides that something is going on.
The rain pours down on her.
Not metaphorical rain, for once—no, when he peers outside his window, he sees Jade West of all people perched on the step to his RV as the rain pours down like a flood. Walking to the door, he peers through the small sliver that allows him to see the ice queen in all her glory, looking like an angel that's been cast down from heaven.
Silently, he slips out, hoping not to scare her away. At times like this, Beck Oliver considers the notion that perhaps, in some alternate universe, Jade West could be a normal human being. Most of the time, though, he doubts this.
Slowly, he sits down beside her. "What are you doing out here?"
She looks up, eyes streaked with black from the eyeliner that's trailed down her face. The rain continues to pour down, streaking trails of black down her face, and he thinks that however impossible it may seem, she's still beautiful. He wonders how she does it.
Running a hand underneath her eye, she meets his gaze with a gaze fiercer than any he's seen on her before. In that moment, she reminds him of an injured lion—hurt, but with a fierce underlying pride and determination that can go unmatched. In an undertone, she mutters, "I love the rain. Is that a problem?"
"You're at my house," he reminds her, and he knows that it's technically an RV but he doesn't care about the technicalities just then.
"You're getting on my nerves," she spits back. Something like hurt fills him, and he hopes that it's not evident in his expression. He hates when she sees his insecurity.
Whether she sees it or not, she softens her tone and sighs. "My parents were irritating me, and I—I just couldn't stay there. This seemed like the best option."
"Because André wasn't home?" he shoots back. He knows his inherent jealousy of André might seem strange, considering André is one of his best friends, but he's sure that it's completely validated. Something is going on between André and his girlfriend, and he's going to find out.
"No, André's at home," Jade replies coolly. "I just wanted to see you. Honestly, Beck, get over yourself. Not everything is a competition. Not everything is one of your sick games."
"I didn't say it was," Beck tenses, before reminding him that there's no need to get so worked up and relaxes. Sighing, he extends his arm, wrapping it around her back so that his hand is resting on her fragile shoulder. There's a silence that descends upon them for a moment, before he decides to say the one thing that's been on his mind since he's returned.
With the utmost of certainty, he looks into her depthless eyes and says, "I love you."
Immediately, she goes flat. She jerks away from Beck, turning so that he can't look into her face, and bites her lip. In a flat, hard voice, she tells him darkly, "You really shouldn't."
She stands up, taking hold of his hand, and he feels the coldness fill him in a rush. She then turns around and shoots him a look so full of some unrecognizable emotion that he feels chills run down his spine.
With one last look of desperation, she releases his hand and starts to run off.
The chill leaves him, but honestly, all emotion leaves him. For a moment, all he can do is stand there, completely paralyzed. Then suddenly, his thoughts return—go after her, Beck, what are you doing?
He starts to run, but only gets to the end of the road before he realizes it's a hopeless cause. She's already too far gone.
He tries not to think about the double meaning in that.
Her hand feels as if it fits perfectly in his, and it's almost enough to make him feel like the two of them are the perfect match—solid and completely unbreakable. He knows, however, that it's completely untrue. The little voice stays in the back of his head, nagging him with doubt and insecurity, despite the fact that a big movie star like Beck Oliver should be completely confident.
"Beck," Jade whispers urgently, "those people are staring at us."
"Cause I'm famous, babe," Beck shoots her a grin. "Don't let it get to you."
"I hate you so much," she whispers silently to him, plastering a fake smile on her face. He's probably the only one who sees the pain in her eyes and knows how fake the smile is.
"I love you," he whispers back. The silence tells him that once again, she's not going to say it back, and once again, he's left with his assumptions to fill the silence between them. All he can do is hope that she loves him back.
He takes her into his arms and kisses her softly, the flashes of the cameras like a light show around them.
After just a few seconds, she pulls away and bites down on her lip subtly. Turning around, she kicks one of the photographers at the bottom of his leg and scowls. "Don't shoot me from that angle."
The photographer nods, looking dazed, and Beck grabs her hand. He smiles at the photographers. "I'm sorry for… her."
"No need to apologize for me," Jade says crossly, looking scorned as if this has hurt her immensely. "If I offend people so much, then maybe I should just go."
"Babe," he calls after her, but she disappears into the black again.
It's storming the day that she comes over to his RV. She bangs on the door with both fists, and when he finally opens it, he stares at her for a moment.
At first glance, he knows that something is wrong. She has a look of despair in her eyes, as if she's going to do something that she doesn't really want to but she knows he has to. For some reason, he almost wants to scream, as if that will stop it.
Instead, he steps aside so that she can come in. "Something wrong, Jade?"
"Yeah," Jade looks from the puddles that are forming on his floor up to his eyes with the greatest resilience. "I… I'm breaking up with you. Just… stay away from me. I'm not good for you."
Shock fills him. However many things he'd imagined, he'd never imagined this. He and Jade were supposed to be together forever—well, at least he'd imagined that they would be. This is completely unexpected on his part, and his heart shatters like a window pane. The glass leaves cuts littered on his chest.
"You're breaking up with me?" he repeats, the words blowing holes in his chest with every syllable. "You're breaking up with me?"
She nods, and the sound of her head moving is the only sound in the stony silence. She picks up her wet jacket off of the floor, and he can't bring himself to offer her a dry one. Somewhere deep inside, he just wants to fling open the door and yell, "Good riddance!" but somehow he just can't bring himself to.
So he does the next best thing and kisses her.
She tastes of rebellion and forbidden apple. He knows that it's wrong; after all, they've just broken up. Still, he can't bring himself to pull away. She's familiar, and really, at the moment, she is all that he has and he can't imagine what he's going to do without her.
Finally, she breaks the kiss and reaches down to push against his chest, causing him to release her. Looking him in the eyes once again, she tells him, "I'm sorry, but it's over."
All he can do is watch her go, and feel the remnants of her all over his skin.
That night, he can't fall asleep. She's everywhere—in the dark expanse of his ceiling, in the depths of his closet, in the bed that they use to share on even the warmest nights, in the letter that she wrote him once when they first started to date but he can't bring himself to ever get rid of. Taking it carefully out of the drawer, he reviews her carefully written words.
Beck—I mean, Oliver,
I'm not really sure how to say this, because well, I don't usually do stuff like this, so don't get used to it.
I think I might have fallen in love with you. The problem is, I don't know how to stop loving you.
He's left with those words bouncing around in his head—I don't know how to stop loving, to stop loving you, stop loving you.
Looks like she's found a way, he thinks bitterly, reminding himself of all the times he'd said I love you and she'd replied with a deep silence.
He's always been such a fool.
PART II: ANDRÉ HARRIS
you'll never know if you never try
to forget your past and simply be mine
i dare you to let me by your one and only
promise I'm worthy to hold in your arms
- one and only, as performed by liz gillies
"I broke up with Beck," Jade tells him, leaning against the doorframe to his house. Her voice trembles slightly, and any hostile feelings he'd been holding against her fade into the background. He's never been the confrontational type, anyway.
"Well, get in here and tell me about it, girl," he tells her, stepping out of the way and grinning naturally at her. And okay, he probably should not be happy—two of his best friends just broke up—but he thinks that the rules are different since he's in love with one of them.
Sighing, she walks over to his couch and collapses on it. "Well, he didn't seem too happy about it, which was slightly surprising. I was under the impression that he'd be jumping around the room, screaming in glee to be free of me."
André snorts slightly. "That rhymed." He notices the slight twinkle in her eyes and grins. "Look, he's probably in love with you, so…"
"I know," she says, darkness clouding her voice. Slowly, she stands up and walks over to the window before glancing back at him. "And I… I love him too. But I'm not going to ruin his life." She collapses onto the couch, sighing slightly. "He's a movie star. He deserves better than me."
"What's that supposed to mean?" André asks jokingly, staring at her. Even after a year of friendship, he's never gotten used to seeing the strong girl's insecurity. He'd expect this from Tori, or maybe even Cat, but Jade's insecurity is still shocking.
"I'm not right for him," she retorts, laughing bitterly. "I'm rude, blunt, and I speak my mind. He's just a stereotypical Hollywood boy."
"I understand," he nods and scoots over on the couch. "Wanna sit down?"
She complies, falling into the soft space next to him. After a moment, her head droops down onto his shoulder, and he wraps an arm around her shoulder. Euphoria fills him, because now he can do things like this and not feel quite so guilty.
After a few minutes, her breathing slows and her eyes close, indicating that she's fallen asleep. He looks over at her, noticing that she looks slightly less threatening when she's asleep, and he decides that it's the best time for him to tell her what he's been hiding for ages.
"I love you," he whispers, emotion threatening to burst through the edges of his powerful words.
She doesn't so much as stir.
The next day, after Jade wakes up and then hurriedly returns back to her house, André grabs some money off of the kitchen table and heads over to the convenience store. He's in a mood for Mountain Dew—or, to be honest, anything to give him a quick pick-up, but Mountain Dew sounds the best.
Once he gets there, though, he sees Beck Oliver, and guilt overwhelms him. He doesn't know what to say. "Hey, dude, sorry I'm in love with your girlfriend?" "Heard you and Jade broke up—she didn't tell you that I told you to, did she?" Yeah, none of those seem about right.
He walks over anyway because he feels obligated to. With a quick smile, he greets Beck in a friendly manner that's so stereotypical of him. "Hey, dude, what's up?"
Beck looks up, and André's first reflex is to gasp. A bruise surrounds one of Beck's dark brown eyes. In that moment, André wonders if it's possible to die from guilt.
Running a hand through his hair, Beck reassures him, "It's really not as bad as it looks. I tripped and hit my eye on a... on a fire hydrant."
"You hit your eye on a fire hydrant?" André raises an eyebrow.
"Yeah, I did," Beck says smoothly, and André can tell that he's either angry with André or not much in a mood to talk to him. Sighing, Beck leans back down. "Anyway, I'm here to buy a bottle of Cherry Coke, so please do excuse me."
Beck walks off, hardly looking happy with André at all, and André sighs. Though he doesn't much feel like drinking Mountain Dew now, he still buys a 2 liter bottle and takes it home with him. It seems to be taunting him from where he sits it on his bedside table.
He hears a knock on his door the next morning. He still does not really feel like standing up, but he does anyway and pulls open the door, sighing under his breath. Shock runs through him once he discovers who's standing on the other side.
"Let me in, moron," Jade demands. Wordlessly, André steps out of her way, watching her storm like a hurricane through his house before collapsing on his couch once again.
"André," she says, staring up at him with the widest eyes he's ever seen, "am I a bad person?"
"Occasionally," he replies, because he's always been the worst liar. However, he does know something else about her. "Only occasionally, though, because most of the time you do good things as well."
That seems to satisfy her, and she leans back into the couch. "Come sit beside me."
He complies, because she is his weakness and he's pretty much destined to do whatever she says. Once he's settled down beside her, she leans over and presses her lips to his.
It's not the first time they've kissed, and he suspects that it won't be the last. But the chill that runs through his veins is still as strong as the first time she seized him randomly and pulled him to her. As always, he doesn't pull away. In fact, he just pulls her closer and tries to block out all thoughts of how wrong it is and all of the guilt.
"This is wrong," he finally whispers when it becomes too much. "We're wrong."
She pulls away and stares at him for a bit, as if she's considering. "We'll always be wrong," she whispers at last. "Is that a bad thing?"
"Maybe," he whispers, leaning his forehead against hers. For a moment, his vision is overwhelmed with Jade—her face, her eyes, and her beautiful hair. Then he leans forward to tentatively press his lips to hers. She responds immediately, clutching him closer, and he stands up.
"I'm sorry, but…" he trails off. "I just… it's hard for me to do things without labels."
"We have a label," Jade retorts, her eyes narrowing. "It's called friends with benefits."
"And you're okay with that?" he raises an eyebrow at her.
"I'm fine with it," she retorts, and then she leans over to kiss him again. This time, he lets her, and tries to forget that it still feels wrong.
In the morning, he wakes up next to her. All he can do is pull her closer to him. There's something about the whole forbidden aspect to their relationship that makes it all the more appetizing, and for once, he feels like going for what he wants.
Even if technically, they aren't going out. Technically, they aren't even close to it.
He stares at her for a few minutes, eyes wide as the great moon. He takes in every detail of her face—the gentle slope of her nose, the curve of her lips—and presses a gentle kiss to her cheek, hoping that it won't awaken her. Though he knows her, he doesn't know how she'll react.
The sun starts to shine through the curtains, and he takes a moment to bask in it. It brightens the room, overshadows the darkness, and he almost thinks that in its light all of his problems and mistakes have been erased.
The light starts to fade and he feels weariness overwhelm him. Placing his head back on the pillow, he hums silently to himself until he falls asleep.
In the morning, when he wakes up, she is gone. This is what happens every time she stays over. He's almost become accustomed to it.
Standing up, he begins to make the bed so that it feels as if she was never there. He starts to hum to himself again, the same song as before.
Only then does he realize that the song is 365 Days.
That's when he realizes how screwed he is.
He's kissing her again and he can't begin to describe how wonderful it is to feel her lips against his. If he had to choose some of the prettiest girls in the world, he imagines that she would be on the list. In fact, she might quite possibly be number one, but he would never tell her that.
Once she pulls away, her breath coming harder than ever, he asks quietly, "Do you ever want something… well, something more?"
Her eyes suddenly darken, and he knows he's said something wrong. Mentally, he scolds himself, reminding himself that he has to watch his step around Jade West, but she continues nonetheless. "I already had 'something more', and it didn't exactly work out, now did it?"
"So just because you and Beck didn't work out, you won't work with anyone else?" André demands, feeling his face start to heat up. He hardly ever gets angry, and it takes something like this to get him to feel anything similar to anger. "Look, I know that you're scared, girl, but…"
"I'm not scared," she grits her teeth, looking as if she'd much like to murder him in cold blood. "I'm not scared of anything."
"Except commitment," he amends, hoping that he won't be murdered. Just in case, his hands fly to the top of his head, protecting his precious skull.
"Don't worry, there will be no need to protect your skull," she hisses. "It's already thick enough."
"Jade, just…" he hesitates. Either he can speak his mind or keep his mouth shut, as always. He has a feeling that if he speaks up, he will be murdered in cold blood, but if he keeps his mouth shut, he'll be safe for a while. Clamping his mouth shut, he says hesitantly, "Never mind. Forget I said anything."
"Will do." The small smile makes its way back onto her face, and she leans in to kiss him again. As her lips press against his, he considers that shutting his mouth was one of the smartest decisions he's ever made.
Of course, though, at times he does wish that Jade West would be his official girlfriend.
And by times he means most of the time.
"I'll try 365 days, 365 ways to get to you," he sings loudly, his voice reverberating in the empty house. He decides with a grin that his singing isn't quite as bad as he had imagined, and steps into his pajamas quickly, wondering if it's possible for him to sing this song for Jade again. Maybe this time, he'll actually be able to admit that the song is for Jade—that is, if Tori doesn't cut him off again with her lies.
Still in a fairly good mood, he falls onto his bed and falls asleep after just a few minutes of humming to himself. Once his eyes close, he immediately crosses over to the world of dreams.
She's the only clear thing in his dream world, that much is certain. All he can see is her face, her sharp features, the way she glares at him as if she would very well like him dead on the floor. It's complete and utter bliss until she turns to kiss Beck Oliver.
He doesn't know what to do, and of course, he starts to scream. Had it been real life, he might have gotten some funny looks, but since it's a dream, no one can hear his screaming.
He wakes up in a deep sweat, trying not to think about the symbolism of his dream. When he finally dozes off to sleep, he sees sparkles, lollipop fields, and the very face of purity, Victoria Vega.
The scene changes, and he's with her, holding their dark-skinned but still beautiful child. She's cooing to it like the amazing mother she would be, yet instead of a good, peaceful daydream, it feels so much like a nightmare. He tosses and turns, writhing in his bed as if he's in pain.
Unlike most guys, he doesn't want someone to settle down with and share a peaceful life with. He wants a life of excitement, someone who will give him chills when they sing, someone who makes him laugh with her stubbornness and always speaks what's on his mind.
He does not want someone like Victoria Vega, and that's what scares him most of all. Ever since they were in sophomore year, he's always sort of had feelings for Tori, though he repressed them because she was always after some other guy. Now that he finally has a chance, though, he finds that he doesn't want her.
He wants someone like Jade West—or, even better, the original.
Tori invites him over for cocoa and he can't very well say no because it's a tradition they've upheld since both of them were in high school. He sips at his cocoa instead of slurping it down like he usually does, and Tori raises an eyebrow at him. "What's gotten into you? You're actually drinking your cocoa like a respectable member of society and not a wild beast who has just been let out of his cage!"
"I guess it was just time for a change, girl," André responds, and he can't help but laugh at the implications. "I can't be the same guy I was in high school forever."
The permanent smile on Tori's face wavers. "I liked the guy that you were in high school. He was my very best friend."
He tries not to think about what that means—is he not still the same guy he was in high school? What has changed since then? Has he changed?
Instead of saying what's on his mind, he stares at her. "Tori, do you… do you mind if I talk to you about something?"
"You can tell me anything," Tori says with a glittering laugh, as if she can't believe that he hasn't told her already.
"It's about Jade," André replies, and the shock he expects to see on her face is not present, so he continues. "Well, you know we became really good friends when Beck left, and uh… I sorta fell in love with her again, but real love this time, not the kind of fascination I felt for her last time. And I just…" He buries his head in his hands, feeling some sort of crippling sorrow rush over him. "Ever since Beck came back, things have been different between us. She keeps saying that she doesn't want to get into another relationship ever since she and Beck went into that downhill spiral, but I don't know if that applies to me or—"
"André," Tori interrupts his rambling with a small, almost forlorn smile. "Go for it."
"What?" André blinks a few times, trying not to think about the sad look on Tori's face, as if his love for Jade has hurt her somehow. "What do you mean?"
"I know it may sound weird, but I dunno, Jade and I were talking the other night," Tori takes another careful sip of her coffee. "And she sounded totally smitten with you, and I know that it's Jade, but just trust me on this one? Go find her or something."
He sets down the mug of coffee and stares her in the eyes. "Are you sure?"
The hints of hurt are starting to show on Tori's face, but she smiles nonetheless. "Of course I'm sure! Would I suggest it if I wasn't? Go find her right now, you big idiot!"
He gives her a grateful grin and a hug, which she gladly returns (and he almost hopes that she wouldn't). As he turns to leave, he could swear he heard her whisper, "I love you," behind him.
But it was probably just a hallucination.
He runs down to the smoothie shop nearby that apparently, according to Cat, Jade goes to all the time. With a big smile on his face and excitement and adrenaline coursing through his every vein, he pushes open the door, but what he sees knocks the smile right off his face.
Cat was right—Jade is there, but she's there with someone else. She's kissing Beck Oliver.
He can't describe what he feels in that very moment. It's shocking, yes, considering they'd only just broken up, and it hurts like the deepest sort of pain. Not a physical pain, no, but a mental pain, an emotional pain that surpasses any he's ever felt. He almost falls to his knees upon seeing the two of them, but something holds him bolt upright.
He can only stare for a moment until Jade's eyes meet his. She jerks away from Beck at once, as if something inside—her obviously existent conscience, maybe, or just the sight of them—is causing her to jerk away. "André, wait!" she calls, but it's far too late for waiting for him.
He decides then that he does not want to see or hear anymore; all he wants is to get out of there as fast as possible.
So he pulls a typical Jade move and runs out of the smoothie shop as fast as he can.
She tries to call him, over and over again. Every time, he presses the end button, because he's not sure what to say to her at the moment. "Hey, Jade, I saw you kissing Beck and I really don't want to deal with it or you, I'm really sorry. I'll call you back later," somehow just doesn't seem very appropriate.
So, after about ten more pressings of the end button, he finally just relents and turns off his phone. He hides it in the bottommost drawer of his cabinet, hoping that the saying applies here- 'Out of sight, out of mind.'
But somehow, despite the relocation of his phone, Jade West keeps on plaguing his mind. He tries to just forget but he just can't stop thinking about her.
He scours his room until he finds what he's looking for—the guitar that he's had for ages. To his intense delight, it still plays, and he sits down in the middle of the room with only his guitar, a sheet of blank sheet music, and a pencil to keep him company.
He starts to play after only a moment. It seems to come naturally; the words flow out of him just like a river stream. It's obviously about Jade, but it's darker than the last one. In fact, he thinks that it might be the darkest song he's ever written.
He records it all nonetheless, feeling sort of ecstatic that he's writing songs again, despite the fact that they all seem to be incredibly dark and angsty. He tries to remove her name as much as possible, but no matter how hard he tries it still leaks into the song.
After he finally finishes the song (which he accurately entitles 'Ballad of a Broken Heart'), he plays it once in front of the mirror and imagines playing it for Jade West in the flesh. However much courage he's gained in the last few weeks or so, he still can't even imagine having enough courage to play his recently penned song for Jade West.
Slowly, he lowers the guitar to the ground and hums the song to himself. It's at that moment that it hits him like a steamroller, and he falls to his knees.
People say it wasn't meant to be this way, yeah. You and me, we were supposed to be. But then he came and everything fell right apart, because two's company, but three's a crowd, and I just want to be your one and only.
Is that too much to ask? He adds mentally, collapsing on his bed with his head still spinning like a record.
PART III: JADE WEST
made a wrong turn once or twice
dug my way out of blood and fire
bad decisions, that's all right
welcome to my silly life
- perfect, as performed by liz gillies
She presses the green button once again, waiting for the familiar ringing noises. They come, but they're cut off after just a few rings. Sighing, she tosses her phone onto her bed.
"André Harris," she hisses under her breath, "you'd best pick up this time or I swear I'll rip your head off of your body."
She walks over to the phone and presses her speed dial #3 once again. This time, the recorded voice speaks: "Sorry, the phone you've dialed is powered off. Please try again."
She swears under her breath before pressing speed dial #4. Unlike André, Beck picks up on the first ring.
"Beck Oliver," she growls, "I hate you."
He chuckles nervously. "Jade, is something wrong?"
The curses fill her head, and she cannot fathom how much she wants to throw something at his head. Gritting her teeth (despite the fact that she absolutely loathes the noise it makes), she responds quickly, "Yes, there is something wrong. You kissed me and then André saw and now everything is just completely screwed up."
Without bothering to explain more, she presses the end button. All she can think of is how he screws everything up. People tend to think that, due to his angelic appearance, Beck Oliver is the perfect guy. She begs to differ. Despite how innocently handsome he may appear, he screws everything up—her love life, her life in general, and the only good thing in her life.
The problem with the two of them is that they both tear things apart. So when they're together, everything just falls to pieces.
She hates him, she thinks silently. She hates him more than anything at the moment. The problem is that somewhere, deep down inside, she loves him as well. They're like oil and water; they clash like opposites.
She needs André. So she picks up her phone, dials his number, and hopes with all of her being.
"Sorry, the phone you've dialed is powered off. Please try again…"
"Beck kissed me."
There is no response. Biting her lip in frustration and resisting the urge to punch him in the face, she repeats herself. "André, Beck kissed me. I didn't tell him to, nor did I want him to. It was just a sudden thing—we were there together, and you know how it is."
"You didn't pull away," he points out, giving her one of those looks that only increases her frustration tenfold. Is he not listening to anything she says? The urge to punch him still fills her, but she resists nonetheless, calming herself by repeating that this is André and she's already lost him. Any wrong step could lead to her losing him forever.
"No, I didn't," she answers him, surprisingly calm for once. "I'm sorry that I'm not living my life according to your rules. Beck is a good kisser, and let me reiterate—you and I are not dating. I am technically allowed to kiss whoever I want, regardless of whether you approve or not." Seething, she finishes her rant, staring at him. She watches as the frown deepens on his face, and she hates that he's hurting because of her but it's not like her to do anything about it.
"You're a jerk, Jade West," he informs her calmly. "You're not a gank, not a bad person, not anything else that Tori might say about you. You're just a jerk, plain and simple. You don't care about anyone but yourself."
"Not true," Jade looks up at him. "I care about my cat as well."
He gives her a disgusted look, causing her to laugh. She has no idea why, but the disgust of others has always been of the greatest amusement to her, but it doesn't seem to amuse him quite as much.
"Look, André—" she tries to defend herself, but her defense falls away as he shoots her yet another disgusted look and stands up. As he walks out the door, slamming it behind him, the words he'd probably been waiting to hear fall from her lips. "I'm sorry."
He doesn't come back.
"Open the door before I break it down," Jade bangs on the door rapidly, knowing that her words are jam-packed with truth. Memories of the times she'd broken down his door before fill her brain, causing her to laugh bitterly before continuing to bang.
A drowsy looking Beck finally swings open the door, and she clambers inside. She takes a moment to take in his disheveled appearance before barreling on. "Beck. I've screwed up once again."
"And I care why?" he asks, giving her that all-too-familiar look. Scowling, she picks up a pillow off of his bed and punches it, hoping that will be enough to constrain her anger so she doesn't randomly go off on his face.
"Because you could help me," she reminds him, her eyes sparkling slightly though she can't imagine why. "Remember, back when you used to help me solve my problems all of the time?"
"Yeah, but we were dating then," he replies gently, giving her a sharp glare that tells her clearly that he's not really up for this. "That was before you started to reject me constantly and act as if André's an angel fallen from heaven while I'm a demon sent to torture you."
"That's about accurate," she snickers, but she notices that his face falls. Not in the mood to deal with an angst-filled Beck, she walks up and snakes her arms around his neck gently, pressing a simple kiss to his lips. Once she pulls away, she hovers just a few inches from him and whispers against his lips, "I need you to teach me how to care."
After pressing a kiss to her forehead, he pulls away, disentangling himself from her grip. He walks to the opposite wall before turning back to look at her. After a moment of what she assumes to be deep thought, he tells her, "Empathy, Jade, that's all it takes. Empathy."
"You mean to tell me I have to look at things from another's point of view?" she laughs bitterly. "Right, because I'm rather good at that."
"Think about it," he encourages, bitterness sweeping through his words and enveloping her in it. "Think about a time that someone broke your heart, and you'll understand how I feel." He takes her hand with a flourish, staring at her with the same puppy-dog eyes that she fell for all those years ago. "Just remember, that's really all it takes."
Rage is the first clear emotion that enters her, and she remembers how she'd felt when he'd randomly left, breaking her heart in the process. Staring at him, she says sharply, "You broke my heart."
He stares at her in surprise, but she scoops up her bag and jacket, giving him a sharp glare. Since rage is still the dominant emotion coursing through her veins, she has no qualms about telling him, "Thanks for the lesson, Beck."
She hears him calling out her name, but she does not feel up to returning.
That night, she sits out on her doorstep. The moon is full that night, and it casts an eerie glow on the entirety of her street. She picks up a rock that's lying beside her and tosses it into the black. The thud as it hits some sort of metal fills her with sick satisfaction. Reaching down to pick up another rock, her hand lands upon something soft.
"Ouch!" someone shrieks, giggles filling her voice. "Tori, someone's got my foot! Oh, what if it's a spider? I hate spiders!"
"I'm sure it's not a spider," Tori reassures her, and Jade has the urge to slap her or pour some coffee on her pretty little head. Whichever works.
"I really hate spiders," Cat continues, voice trembling slightly. "When I was younger, my brother had a pet spider, but it got out of its cage and crawled on me as I slept. I used to wake up with it sleeping on my ear." She shudders, looking completely childish. "Do you think I should stomp on this one?"
Before Vega can agree, Jade speaks up. "It's me, you morons; don't step on me!"
"Jade?" Cat questions, falling down to sit beside her. Jade stares at her through the darkness, wondering if Cat's genuinely glad to see her or if Cat thinks she's a jerk as well.
"Yeah, it's me," Jade answers uncomfortably. "Hey, Cat. Vega."
"Where have you been?" Cat demands, smiling over at her. "You've been hiding for like, days! It's been weird without you!"
"Weird meaning there's been no one to harass me constantly," Tori amends, crossing her arms. "So yes, it has been weird."
Jade shrugs, staring down at the ground. She thinks that this has to be one of the most uncomfortable situations she's ever been in. How can she explain to her 'friends' that the reason she hasn't been around lately is because she's a heartbreaker and a jerk and doesn't know how to use empathy? Glancing up, she tells them hesitantly, "I've been hiding."
"Hiding from the Big Bad Wolf?" Cat asks, giggling slightly and causing Tori to elbow her slightly in the ribs.
"No, hiding from everyone," Jade buries her head in her hands. She looks up slightly, catching sight of the other two girls. "Vega, don't answer this unless you want to wake up tomorrow with your pants stuffed with pudding, but Cat, do you think I'm a bad person?"
Tori starts to say something, but the ever-positive Cat interrupts her with a grin. "No, I don't think you're a bad person!" She bounces a bit. "No one is a bad person; we all just make some bad decisions. But don't worry; I'm sure that you can overcome them!"
"Thanks," Jade manages, staring out into the horizon and wondering absently if it's true—is she, by default, a good person? Cat sits down beside her and places a comforting hand on her shoulder. Her first urge is to shove it off and tell Cat to go drown in a lake, but once again, she represses her urges and allows Cat to remain there. Tori sits down on the other side of Jade, but doesn't touch her. Jade imagines it's better that way, since she's in no mood to chop off an arm.
In silence, the three girls sit there, staring out at the horizon.
She crumples up the note, tosses it into the trashcan. The words that she's been trying to say for weeks on end don't come naturally now. All she can do is stare at the blank sheet of paper, wishing that somehow the pent up words in her mind would transfer to the paper and compose a letter that would have him begging for her back.
I shouldn't have done it, really, but…
No buts, she scolds herself internally and pitches this piece of paper into the trashcan as well. It looks as if it's going to explode.
She touches her pen to the paper once more.
Look, André, I'm sorry for everything.
A knock on the door signifies that someone's decided to intrude on her so-called 'personal time'. She turns over the piece of paper quickly and yells, "What do you want? Either give me a legitimate reason or get out of here."
"I'm here because you called," someone's voice calls back to her. She nearly drops the pen in shock—is André Harris really standing outside her bedroom door?
Trying not to choke on air, she hisses, "Well, get the heck in here, then." She twirls around in her chair to face him, a scowl stretching over her face as he walks in, looking slightly sheepish. "So, you finally decided to show up, did you? After making me wait for ages, making me feel guilty, and then you finally decide to return? What the actual heck did you think you were doing?"
"I don't know," he responds at last, biting down on his lip slightly in a way that she admittedly finds slightly adorable. Still, she does not feel like letting him off that easily.
Scowling, she continues on, not really caring that he looks (and probably feels) slightly guilty. "What do you mean you don't know? Have you decided that I don't care only for myself anymore? I've called you over and over, yet you haven't picked up. You haven't bothered to talk to me and hear the truth."
"No, sorry, girl," he responds, chill as always (and she sort of hates it, how nothing bothers him). "I've been too busy trying to fix my broken heart."
"Moron," she shakes her head, scowling at him. "It was just a stupid little kiss, and honestly, I couldn't care less about Beck right now." The last part is a blatant lie, but she suspects that he won't notice. After all, she's always been a rather skilled actress. He doesn't have to know that she still loves Beck, despite everything that went on, but she sort of hates him at the same time. Sighing, she walks over so that she's just a few inches from him. Eyes darkening, she tells him sharply, "You see, I can kiss someone and have it mean nothing at all."
Quickly, she stepped forward, placing her hands on his chest before leaning in and pressing her lips to his once again. She knots her hands in his hair with a ferocity that she doesn't remember having ever before. Everything about the kiss feels so right, yet so wrong that she doesn't know how to feel.
Once she finally pulls herself away, she stares at him out of jaded eyes. "See?" she says breathlessly, trying to get a hold on herself. "It… it's nothing." Though, somewhere inside, she knows that it's definitely not nothing.
"Yeah, sure," André stares at her for a moment before shaking his head. "I'll see you later, girl." He turns and walks out the door.
She doesn't even try to stop him.
Later that night, she decides that her best option at the moment is to try to sort things out. So instead of calling someone to talk things out with, she grabs her keys off the table and heads out to her car.
She doesn't know where she's going; all she knows is that she can't stay there with the weight of the world pressing down on her shoulders. She starts to drive in hopes of finding solace and a quiet place to think. Every song that comes on the radio she hates, so she turns that off as well.
She's left with just her and her jumbled thoughts.
One fact rises above the rest—she does have feelings for both of them. Ever since she was a young high schooler, she's loved Beck, and she doubts that's going to go away any time soon. But then again, there's André—who's sweet and happy and always sticks with her. André's reliable and romantic and everything she's ever wanted in a guy but always doubted that she'd get.
She supposes that her choice is clear; the only problem is how to go about revealing it.
She takes another turn, past the expanse of trees, and drives herself home. All she can think of is how much of a heartbreaker she's become—not that she cares much, but she honestly does care about André and Beck, both of them. The problem is that Jade West is entirely selfish and since the whole triangle thing is overrated and dragging her down, she supposes it's about time to end it.
Once she gets home, she finds nothing to do but head up to her room, head hanging low and guilt consuming her. Her dad asks her if she wants anything to eat, but she refuses.
She jumps into her bed, listening to the steady beat of the rain and her stomach rumbling, painting a depressing melody that sings her to sleep.
Somehow, she finds herself pretending that everything will be all right in the morning.
Someone calls her early in the morning. Her first urge is not to answer, to hang up and pull her covers over her head as if pretending that everyone else is nonexistent will remove all of her problems. After her thoughts nag her for a bit, though, she hesitantly sits up and opens her phone, groaning as she does so.
"What do you want?" she snaps into the phone, hoping that whoever it is will take a hint and hang up or something of the like.
"To talk to you, so don't hang up," Tori Vega's voice shocks her, and Jade wants nothing more than to hang up her phone. With a sigh, though, she relents and allows Tori to continue. "Look, Jade, I know we aren't really friends, but you know, you just have to trust me on this one. Come down to the theater."
"Why the heck would I listen to anything that you say?" Jade replies, raising an eyebrow even though she knows that Tori can't see her. "We aren't friends at all." In fact, Jade had been planning to laze the day away, hiding from everyone that she goes to school with. Now, the ever lovely Tori Vega has gone and ruined that plan.
"Yeah, but it's important," Tori whines into the phone.
Her voice is so very irritating that Jade relents, if just to shut the freak up. "All right. I'll be there in twenty. Don't die of anticipation."
"Yay!" Tori cheers, and that sound grinds at her ears so much that Jade slams the phone shut with a scowl.
Grumbling under her breath, Jade tugs on her usual outfit, her combat boots finishing off her typical look. She doesn't want to have changed any—she doesn't want anyone to have any reason to suspect her of having changed, because she's still Jade West. She just has to be.
Once she arrives, there's no one there. She stands for a moment, taking in the emptiness—the darkness of it all. She taps her foot impatiently. Was Tori playing some sort of harsh prank on her? Was this just some sort of sick revenge for everything mean that Jade had done?
Then, in one fluid movement, all of the lights come on. Around her, music starts to play, and André Harris takes the stage.
As if all of this is not unnerving enough, he starts to sing, and he looks right at her.
The song that he's singing is one of the saddest songs she's ever heard. It talks of heartbreak and depression, of all of the things she imagines he's been experiencing in the last few days, and it nearly breaks her heart to even listen to the song. She blinks rapidly—is this just some sort of maniacal plot to finally force her to feel remorse for all the pain that she's caused? Needless to say, it's working.
Then the song changes from the dark, angst-filled ballad to the far too familiar beginning notes of 365 Days. André starts the song with a huge grin on his face. "Monday, well baby, I fell for you…"
His intense gaze is focused on her, and it's in that moment that she finally realizes something shocking. He'd originally written 365 Days for her.
She feels her jaw drop nearly to her feet, but she finds herself clapping nonetheless. When the song finally finishes, she runs to the stage, where André pulls her in for one of his bear hugs. She feels safe in the comfort of his strong arms, though she'd never admit or say anything as cliché as that.
Then he pulls her head up to press his lips to hers, and it's complete and total bliss. Though Jade really hates happy or sappy endings, she thinks that she might be able to get used to this.
That is, until Beck taps on her shoulder. She spins around to face him, and when she does, all the guilt returns to her.
"So, uh," he clears his throat, scratching the back of his neck. "I guess you've made up your mind."
"I really do love you," she replies. "It's just not enough."
"I get it," he says, turning to walk off. She hesitates for just a moment, and the choice is evident. She can either run after Beck, or stay with André.
Turning back around, she takes André's hand. "Let's get the heck out of here."
A/N: Uh, I don't even know. Requested by and prompts given for by the lovely Ella, and I don't know what happened here, but. :D For all the amazing Jandre shippers—whether you shipped it from the beginning, or Jade Gets Crushed converted you, you're epic.
Please read and review and don't fave without reviewing unless you like not-nice PMs in your inbox. And uh, yeah.