Author's Note: This is my very first fic that contains femmeslash. Who would've ever thought that it would be for a Nickelodeon show? Oh, the irony…

Just a couple of things before you start reading this: one, I decided to write it in the present tense because I personally felt that the story flowed better that way, and two, the title is actually meant to be taken both literally and figuratively.

I really hope you enjoy this story. It's definitely much different than any other story I've written (in terms of both content and writing style).

Disclaimer: The Victorious characters belong to Dan Schneider, not me.

Warning: Contains coarse language, minor sexual content, dark themes and some slightly graphic material.


It all begins when they're walking down the hallway — Jade and Beck, Beck and Jade, the power couple. His arm is slung around her shoulders, and her pale fingers are tightly knotted through his tan ones, allowing everyone to see that he is hers and hers alone (as if that's not already obvious).

He says something about what he's going to have for lunch today when it happens. Out of nowhere, her vision starts getting blurry. The hallway starts feeling way too crowded; everyone starts sounding way too LOUD. Her head starts pounding, and now she's feeling hot — like she's suffocating in her black clothing.

She lets out a short breath, her chest lurching, before her body suddenly goes limp and her fingers slip right out of his hand as she crashes to the ground. All she sees is black, and she's so numb that she doesn't even feel a thing. Nothing at all.

"Jade!" Beck's frantic voice calls out to her.

She opens her eyes and sees nothing but grainy little speckles dancing in front of her. Her head is swimming from lack of oxygen, and she feels something wet and hot breaking out across the back of her neck — no, it's not sweat; it definitely cannot be sweat!

She feels Beck's much-too-hot palm press against her much-too-hot skin as he brushes a matted strand of her hair out of her face. Her breathing finally begins to return to normal as he gently cradles her against his chest, pressing that much-too-hot palm of his up to her forehead.

"Babe, you're burning up," he informs her urgently.

She lets out a harsh breath, swallowing the dryness in her throat. Her eyes flicker upward to stare at him.

"I'm fine," she hisses.

"But Jade, you jus—"

"I said I'm fine!" she snarls angrily.

To prove her point, she pushes him away and helps herself up — because Jade West is absolutely not one of those pathetic little damsels in distress — but as soon as she stands, her head spins and her breathing shortens again. She lets out a shaky breath and presses her fingers, hard, against her forehead. Calm down, calm down. She turns to her boyfriend, whose eyes are wider than she's ever seen them before. He looks like he wants to say something, to protest (because they both know she's not fine), but instead, he lets her roughly grab his hand and tug his arm across her shoulders once more.

And they continue walking like everything's fine.

.

Later that night, she sits alone at the dinner table, mercilessly stabbing the green beans on her plate with her fork. The loud clanging of metal-against-glass sends an inexplicable rush of exhilaration through her, and she can't help but smirk evilly as she at last lifts her fork off the plate and shoves the (stale and cold) green beans into her mouth.

She chews them mechanically, counting the seconds in her head — one-two, three-four, — before she swallows them. She looks down at what's left on her plate and grimaces, before she promptly snatches it up and dumps the rest into the garbage.

The food's just plain disgusting anyway.

.

They're at school again, sitting at their usual lunch table, outside in the unbearably bright sunshine. Cat's babbling on about something — what, exactly, Jade honestly has no idea, because she's simply too tired to listen to Cat's annoyingly sweet and bubbly voice rant on and on about absolute nonsense. She stares down at her untouched spinach wrap, her black-polished fingernails digging into her temple.

"Babe."

She lifts her eyes to meet her boyfriend's gaze, but she doesn't bother to move a single muscle.

"You're not eating," he tells her, like it's a warning.

His declaration manages to catch the attention of everyone else sitting at their table. They all stop talking and look up from their food to stare at Jade, who finally lowers her hand from the side of her face. And even though she's aware that everyone is staring at her now — it's okay, because she enjoys having people stare at her — she keeps her emotionless gaze locked solely onto Beck.

"I'm not hungry," she states, casually, because if he thinks he's going to press this issue any further, well then, he's in for a very rude surprise.

"Are you feeling nauseous, Jade?"

She outwardly scoffs in disgust then, before she finally turns her head to glare at her, little miss I'm-so-nice-because-I-always-try-to-help-people-by-sticking-my-nose-in-their-business. Jade narrows her eyes and smiles a fake smile, cocking her head slightly to one side.

"No," she answers at last, with as much biting sarcasm in her tone as ever. "No, Tori, of course I'm not feeling nauseous, but thanks so much for asking."

Tori falters a bit, and Jade relishes the tiny flicker of hurt that sparkles in her brown eyes.

"Okay, well…if you are, you should probably go to the nurse's office so you can lie down," she suggests in her, same as always, way-too chipper tone.

This time, Jade's fake smile hardens into a full-on vicious smirk as her eyelids tighten together even more. She's trying her best to cut right through Tori with the look, and she's certain that Tori knows it, too, because she eventually looks away from her, sheepishly, and goes back to eating her salad.

Jade's smirk widens at this little victory. She picks up her spinach wrap and bites into it, ignoring the overwhelming wave of nausea that suddenly sweeps up inside her stomach.

.

"Oh, God," Beck groans in a husky breath.

It's Friday night, and they're fooling around on Jade's living room couch — her parents aren't home, as usual — as an old black-and-white horror film plays on her TV. A blood-curdling scream pierces through it, but that only adds more heat to Jade's fire (because she absolutely adores the enriching sound of stupid girls screaming bloody murder for their lives).

Her lips press deeply against Beck's warm and slightly tangy skin. She's straddling him, her hands tightly gripping his shoulders, as she dips her head down to suck on the tender flesh between his collarbones. It's secretly her favorite spot to nibble and lick him, because she knows that this area of skin is extremely sensitive, which makes it oh-so deliciously sexy.

She especially loves the way his breathing comes out as she works her amazing magic over him: it's so hard and so ragged. She can feel his moist palms sliding from her waist and up her back, to her shoulders, where he starts pushing off the straps of her black laced bra. She feels his fingers tickle her ear as he brushes her tangled tresses of black hair behind her shoulder…

…and that's when everything suddenly comes crashing down like thunder.

"Jade," Beck whispers, like he's choking.

She pulls away abruptly, because he sounds so alarmed that it surges right through her. She briefly glances down to see that the skin between his collarbones is now wet and glistening with her saliva, and she knows that by tomorrow, the spot will be slightly discolored with a dime-sized hickey that's already beginning to form. (It's her mark on him.)

But she doesn't get to enjoy her work for long, because now he's sitting up, bringing his eyes closer to her shoulder. She feels her eyebrows twitch and scrunch together, and just when she's about to ask him just what exactly he's getting so freaked out about, he comes right out with it.

"When did you get this weird bruise on your shoulder?"

Confused, she turns her head to look at the spot he's staring so intently at, but she's unable to see anything from the angle she's looking at.

"What weird bruise?" she asks out of genuine curiosity.

Their eyes meet again, only now, there's a sudden panic in Beck's eyes that Jade has literally never seen from him before. (Beck never gets scared.) The next thing she knows, she's clamping her eyes shut and letting out a twisted cry of unexpected agony as she feels the slightest amount of pressure from his thumb pressing against the crease of her shoulder.

When he takes his thumb off, her nostrils flare wildly, and she glares at him with the utmost intensity.

"What was that for?" she demands.

"Did that hurt a lot?" Beck asks.

"Yes, dude!" Jade shouts, then quickly adds, "And it wasn't the good kinda hurt, either!"

Beck pushes her off of him in two seconds flat, and she stares up at him, dumbfounded, watching as he hastily picks up his shirt from the floor and throws it over his head. He grabs her shirt off the floor.

"Here," he says as he tosses it to her. It hits her chest and falls to her lap.

Her lips begin to form a small circular shape then, about to ask what-, but she doesn't even get that far as Beck suddenly comes over to her, swipes up the shirt and begins to put it over her head himself.

"Beck, what are you doing?" she finally asks, after he tugs the shirt down.

He takes her hand, a little too tightly, and pulls her off the couch. He's so frantic and moving so quickly and just all over the place, and Jade finds herself so completely taken aback by all of this that she doesn't even think to stop him when he starts dragging her towards her front door.

"I'm taking you to the hospital."

.

Beck and Jade aren't in school Monday morning.

.

"Jade, please talk to me."

"No."

"Jade, please," Beck says pleadingly, and she can't help but smirk at that.

She halts in her tracks and whips around. It's so abrupt that he nearly knocks right into her. She only smirks wider, narrows her eyes even tighter.

"I don't want your pity," she says darkly.

And she leaves him standing there, stunned, as she turns on her heels and continues her walk towards the parking lot, away from that disgusting hospital.

.

On Tuesday, Beck returns to school, though he looks just plain tired with dark sagging circles underneath his eyes.

When Tori first sees him in the hallway, she freezes for a moment, staring at him with a concerned look on her face. She watches as he puts his books into his locker with much more force than necessary. In fact, the metallic slam as he slaps a heavy textbook against the locker causes a few people walking by to literally jump in surprise.

Tori finds herself hesitating, pondering her next move. She decides to go with her gut, though, as she saunters up to him.

"Hey, Beck," she greets casually enough. "Everything okay?"

The way he sharply turns his head to look at her causes Tori to flinch and her hands to unconsciously tighten around the binder she's holding.

"No," he says point-blank, and Tori starts to open her mouth to ask another question, but Beck answers her before she can even ask it. "It's Jade," he says with obvious exasperation. "I'm just really worried about her because she might have—" He suddenly stops himself and begins to stumble over his words. "Uhhh…well, you know, she just hasn't been feeling well lately. She's actually at home sleeping right now because she's so exhausted."

Tori blinks, closes her mouth, drops her shoulders a little bit.

"Oh," she says, quietly, because she's really saying it more to herself than she is to him. She tries to pick herself up again. "Um, well…if you need anything…"

"I know," Beck says, shutting his locker door as he swings his backpack over his shoulder. He smiles weakly and touches her arm. "Thanks, Tori."

She offers him a weak smile back.

.

Tori spends the rest of the day spacing out in all of her classes, worrying about Jade.

.

Jade finally returns to school on Friday.

She looks twice as exhausted as Beck looked, not to mention so sickly pale, but she continues to walk through the halls with her usual vindictive look in her eyes. She purposely makes sure to toss a dirty glare at anyone she catches giving her a sympathetic look.

But after seeing two little freshmen girls cower in fear at her death-threatening glare, she begins to ease up a little bit. (After all, she likes when people stare at her, remember?) She smiles pretentiously then, casually running her fingers through her black hair, tucking the loose strands behind her ear.

Yes, she loves the stares, loves being everyone's main topic of discussion.

.

At lunch, Jade suddenly goes missing.

"You checked all the girls' bathrooms?" Beck asks, a trace of exhaustion in his voice (because this whole thing is starting to wear him out).

"Every floor," Tori says with a persistent nod of her head.

Beck exhales a long breath through his drooped lips.

"Okay," he says. "I'm gonna head upstairs and look in all the classrooms. You'll search this floor?"

"On it," Tori says obediently.

Beck mumbles a thanks and is already off and running up the main steps. Tori waits for him to disappear before she turns and begins to walk through the empty hallway. As she passes by the vending machines, however, she suddenly stops in her tracks. Without thinking twice, she turns back and walks right up to the door that leads to the janitor's closet.

And as soon as she opens the door, she finds Jade standing there, her back turned.

"Jade, what are you…"

Tori trails off when Jade turns around to glare at her. She's holding a pair of dark blue scissors in one hand, while the other holds up a long wavy lock of her hair. She keeps her eyes on Tori as she steadily, calmly, brings the scissors up and, with a soft snip that sounds much more like an earth-shattering slice, she cuts off the lock of hair.

It gently falls to the ground, where it lands in a neat little half-circle at her feet.

"Jade," Tori chokes. Her eyes are wide, making her look like a scared little deer.

Jade allows a dangerous grin to play across her lips.

"I have cancer," she boldly announces.

It feels like the walls of that tiny janitor's closet are about to close in around her then; crush her whole; swallow her up entirely (but, maybe, that wouldn't be the worst thing in the world. It would certainly be a very quick death).

Tori's mouth is hanging open now, and she looks like she's literally stopped breathing for a moment.

"What?" she squeaks out in a scant breath, and God, Jade just can't get over how pathetically scared she looks right now. It's almost comical. "What…what kind of cancer?"

She finally tears her eyes away from Tori as she carefully picks up another, slightly larger, lock of her jet black hair. She stares down at the silk-like strands for what feels like a full minute, before—

-snip-

Two pairs of eyes follow the black tresses, streaked with dark turquoise, as they flow downward and carefully land on the floor. Once they do, Jade looks back up at her 'friend' (her enemy), right square in the eyes.

"Does it really fucking matter, Tori?"

She remains standing there in the closet, cutting off her hair piece by piece, and she doesn't leave until she's snipped away every single strand of her hair that she can physically reach.

.

The following morning, Jade goes back to the hospital, about to receive her first grueling round of chemotherapy treatment. Beck's in the room with her, of course. Her parents couldn't make it (of course).

It's all right, though, because she truly couldn't care less about them (she stopped caring a long, looong time ago). The fact that they aren't there is no surprise to her whatsoever. (She's gotten used to it.) All she cares about is Beck, and that he's here with her right now, holding her hand with his fingers intertwined in hers. Her eyes are closed, but every so often, she feels him squeeze her hand, and it's comforting.

"Jade," he whispers in a wistful tone.

She assumes that he think she's sleeping, so she waits a moment, before she takes a slow, slow breath. She holds it for only a second or two, before releasing it in an even slower sigh.

"Don't," she warns.

They continue holding hands together in silence.

.

She's aching everywhere now — and no, it absolutely does NOT feel good! The good kind of pain is hot and flashing; it's a spank, a slap, a bite. And the biggest difference between that kind of pain, and this kind of pain that she's currently enduring, is that the other kind is only brief. There's only a momentary stinging sensation, a fleeting throb of scorching skin; it's the kind of pain that makes her feel alive.

But this kind of pain…this kind is the complete opposite of that. It's not temporary at all. It's long and dragging and overwhelming and excruciating. It flat out sucks, and Jade can't help but think that if she didn't have Beck by her side every waking moment, helping her in any which way he can, she probably wouldn't even bother putting up with any of this at all.

.

For lunch, the nurse brings her a small sandwich, a cup of chocolate pudding and a little box of apple juice — really, what is she, four years old?

She takes a bite out of the sandwich (plain turkey with muenster cheese on rye bread) and chews slowly. The bread is sour, a sharp taste that completely overpowers the bland flavors of the turkey and cheese.

She manages to swallow it and even take another bite. This time, though, as she chews, she can feel the griminess of the bread, the slimy texture of the turkey. She finds herself focusing more on the mushy feeling of the food rather than the actual taste of it…it's all blending together in her mouth…it's starting to taste disgusting. She wrinkles her nose, feels that familiar jump of her heart and vigorous swish of her stomach…

Everything suddenly comes shooting up her throat, and she hastily leans forward and just narrowly manages to grab the white basin that the nurse left at the foot of her bed. She retches violently into it, and as she pukes everything up, she can feel her stomach hallowing, her skin clinging desperately to her ribcage.

When she finishes, she remains hunched over the basin, spitting and coughing up the last bits of whatever's left. Her heart is hammering in her chest, and her eyes are watering from all the pain that her increasingly frail body is going through.

So…this is what dying feels like.

.

She tries to fall asleep in that uncomfortable hospital bed, but the blanket is too thin and the pillow is too hard, so she just lies there, staring up at the ceiling. There's a draft coming in from the metal vent, and the air is blowing against her bald (yeah, completely bald) head, making her feel that much colder (freezing).

When she finally does begin to close her eyes (after literally hours of just lying there), she starts to think about not Beck, not her parents, not Cat or Robbie or Andre…but about Tori, and that wonderfully terror-stricken look she had on her face when she told her she had cancer.

Her lips twitch slightly. She feels her entire body relax, and suddenly, her hand drifts down towards her hip (where she can feel her sharp bone clawing beneath her flesh). She lifts her pale blue hospital gown to her stomach, traces her finger down her flat and skinny torso. She can literally feel the outline of her bones, and it almost scares her (almost, not quite).

She closes her mouth as she runs her finger between her legs, grazing her most sensitive region through her black thong. She starts to imagine herself pulling on Tori's hair while she bites her ear and roughly kisses along her jaw. She moans softly as she allows her hand to dip inside, touching herself.

And, outside, she can hear crickets chirping, like they're whispering to one another.

.

The next day, she has visitors. (Oh, joy!)

"Does it hurt?" Cat asks in her typical naive Cat-fashion.

"Yes," Jade answers bluntly. "You wouldn't be able to handle it."

She's not saying it to be a bitch (not that she even cares if it sounds bitchy); she's simply stating the truth. But Cat still becomes quiet anyway, and now she's got a pathetic little sad look in her eyes. (Oh well.)

They each go on to ask her more and more trite questions. Robbie's talking now, and Andre's just standing there, hands jammed in his pockets, looking stoic.

Jade tunes Robbie out, though (she honestly doesn't care about what that fool has to say), and from the corner of her eye, she watches Tori, who's leaning against the windowsill, looking dead inside.

She doesn't say a word the entire visit.

.

"You sure you don't want me to spend the night with you?"

Beck is kneeling in front of Jade as she lies on her couch, his face so close to hers that he has no choice but to whisper.

It's one of the rare nights that she isn't in the hospital, and instead she's safe and sound (yeah right) at home. She wears a black wool cap now, not because she's ashamed of her bald head (again, she honestly couldn't care less), but because she's always so unbelievably cold that she has to wear it.

She quietly slips her hands out of the warm blanket that's covering her body and takes Beck's face between her palms. She feels him physically shiver beneath her touch — her palms must feel like ice to him — so she moves her fingertips through his soft (so soft, so shiny, so silky and perfect) hair.

Slowly, she leans forward, melting her lips with his. She feels the way his lips quiver slightly, the way they begin to move against hers in a careful rhythm. She pulls back from him and looks him right in the eyes.

"I want you to go home and sleep," she says, not to be mean (for once, literally, for once), but because she knows that all of this is slowly killing him. The worrying and the hospital visits and the sleepless nights are all physically draining him, and she's afraid that if he keeps devoting all of his energy into helping her like this, then this disease is going to end up killing him far sooner than it will inevitably end up killing her.

.

Hours later, after Beck is long gone, Jade still lies on her living room couch (because her room is much too black, and she's tired of always seeing darkness). She keeps herself occupied by watching another one of her favorite classic horror films. A gleam of wonder sparks in her eyes as she watches the murderer slowly pull out a glistening steak knife. He holds it up to the moonlight, and the ominous music begins to play, creating such wonderfully dramatic suspense…

(ding-dong)

Jade jolts in surprise as she sits up, turning her head to look at the door.

Beck?

She gets up, gray blanket still wrapped around her body, and makes her way over to the door. She's already mentally preparing an "I-swear-to-God-just-go-home-and-don't-start-with-any-bullshit" speech, but when she opens the door, it all goes flying right out the window.

She clenches the blanket against her body.

"Hello, Tori," she says condescendingly. "Why are you here?"

Again, Tori is at a loss for words. She's got her usual large brown tote bag hanging off her shoulder, and she's holding herself in an extremely tense-looking stance. She abruptly brings up her hand to the side of her head, clutching at her long (and soft and wavy and just lovely-looking) hair.

"I really don't know," she says, finally. "I just thought you'd like some company."

Jade doesn't miss a beat with that one.

"Yeah, well, you thought wrong," she snobbishly replies, and she's just about to slam the door in Tori's face, when the girl steps in, taking her by surprise.

"What'cha watching?" Tori asks, making her way over to the couch. She plops herself down on it, dropping her bag to the floor.

Jade stares at her for a moment, wondering just what the fuck this girl thinks she's doing. She finally closes the door, though, gently, and walks over to the couch.

"A horror film," she says as she takes a seat next to Tori on the couch. An evil thought strikes her then, and she smirks. "Do you like movies that are filled with blood and gore and violence, Tori?"

Tori turns her head to look at her.

"Well…" she starts hopefully, but immediately deflates. "No."

Jade draws in her bottom lip, wetting it with her tongue. Her smirk inflames.

"I didn't think so," she says, just as she dives forward, crushing her mouth against Tori's in a full-blown kiss.

Tori's lips are soft and sweet (soso sickeningly sweet, like pure sugar-filled maple syrup), just like Jade imagined. They sort of taste like peaches, too (and yes, Jade hates peaches), but Jade hardly gets to taste them for more than three seconds before she feels Tori explode a gasping breath into her mouth and pull away from her all too quickly.

"Jade!" Tori shrieks, her eyes bulging wildly. "Why'd you do that?"

"Do what?" Jade asks, feigning innocence. (It's sort of like a game to her now. She wants to hear her say it.)

"Why did you just kiss me?" Tori sputters. "You're with Beck. And you're a girl. And…and I'm a girl. And you're…you're…"

"Dying?" Jade finishes for her. She only smirks again. "That's exactly why I did it."

This time, when she leans in, she places a hand on the back of Tori's head, so that she can't pull away (kind of like a trap). When their lips crash together a second time, she feels little to no resistance from Tori, much to her pleasant surprise.

And, this time, she pays close attention to not the taste, but the feel of Tori's lips on hers. She notices that they're much softer and smoother than Beck's. They're much gentler, too, but with nowhere near as much burning heat behind them — which kind of sucks, since Jade is still so. fucking. cold.

Gradually, she starts to run her tongue over Tori's bottom lip, coaxing entrance into her mouth, and Tori complies, of course, just like the good girl that she is.

.

Weeks later, in the midst of another one of their late-night make out sessions (it's quickly become this secret thing between the two of them), they somehow wind up sitting on Jade's bedroom floor. They sit closely beside one another, their backs leaning against Jade's bed, their knees curled up to their chests. The dark blue glow from the moonlight shines down on them through the window, casting beautiful shadows across their faces.

"You're a virgin, aren't you, Vega?" Jade asks out of nowhere, shattering the comfortable silence between them.

Tori gives her a deliciously horrified look, wide eyes and all. She brings her hands up to her lap and starts nervously toying with her fingers.

"How can you tell?" she asks, sounding shy and ashamed.

A seductive smirk crosses Jade's face then as she leans forward, draping her slender (skinny) arm over Tori's shoulder. Tori doesn't move, just stares, her lips twitching in anticipation as Jade begins to gingerly run her fingertips through Tori's soft hair.

"I know an amateur when I see one," she answers at last.

They kiss again, and this time, there's an unspoken promise of passion between them.

.

On Monday, Tori wears a high-neck shirt to school, to cover up the dark hickey that's formed between her collarbones.

.

Eventually, in the frost of winter, Jade returns to the hospital to undergo more (pointless) treatments.

And now, when Beck sits beside her, holding her hand, she sees a pang of guilt in his eyes that undoubtedly reflect back in her own. There's an ocean of silence between them, but this time, it's not comforting at all.

In fact, it's downright painful.

.

Tori comes to visit her later that night, alone.

She quietly lies down on the hospital bed with Jade, snuggling up to her like a scared little child. They're lying so close together that Jade can feel Tori softly breathing against her cheek (which is okay, actually, because it feels nice and warm).

"Are you scared?" Tori asks, her voice soft and laced with fear.

Jade doesn't answer right away. She feels a shift of the mattress as Tori turns her body to one side, tucking her hand beneath her head like a cushion. Jade doesn't move at all, though, or even bother to open her eyes.

"Of course not," she says, tiredly, yet still with a touch of malice.

She feels a soft hand slide on top of her own then, and her fingers automatically tense. Tori doesn't move her hand away, though, and instead, she begins sliding it farther down. She grazes the back of Jade's hand, slowly, until she slips her fingers through Jade's, gently pressing her fingertips against her palm.

And Jade flexes her fingers, before tightly curling them around Tori's.

"Listen," she suddenly finds herself saying, "I have a favor to ask you."

"What?" Tori asks.

Jade at last opens her eyes to look at Tori, who's staring at her now with a kind of fearful anticipation (almost as if she's feeling guilty about something).

"When I die, stay away from Beck."

Tori's brown eyes immediately widen, while Jade's icy blue eyes narrow accusingly at her, completely drinking in the surprised (guilty) look on her face.

.

The following morning, Beck and Jade get into a fight.

"You're clinically insane, you know that?" Beck shouts.

"Oh, I'm insane now? How? Because I was smart enough to figure out that you've secretly been sleeping with Tori Vega?"

"I'm not sleeping with Tori!"

"Yeah, okay," Jade snorts, rolling her eyes. "Do you think I'm stupid, Beck?"

Beck closes his eyes and lets out a frustrated groan. He clenches his hands behind his head, looking annoyed and tired, but then he suddenly opens his eyes again and starts vigorously nodding his head.

"You know what, yes," he says, dropping his hands, "I do think you're stupid, Jade. You're stupid for thinking even for one second that I would ever cheat on you."

And for a split-second, Jade's anger subsides. The raging blood in her veins starts to cool down. She thinks for a moment that maybe she is overreacting, and she even feels the urge to apologize to him.

But then she crosses her arms over her chest and attacks him again.

"So, you're telling me that while I'm sitting here in this hospital every day, slowly dying of cancer, you're not turning to anyone at all for comfort?"

Beck's face falls, and Jade knows she's got him now.

"Like, say," she continues, "a pretty little brown haired goody-two-shoes girl who just so happens to know all the right things to say to make you feel better?"

She sees that same look in his eyes that Tori had, that same exact stunned and guilt-ridden look.

"Jade," Beck says, taking a step closer to her. "I love you."

She feels a twinge in her heart, but she remains stone-faced.

"I want you to leave now, please," she says quietly.

It's not a request, or even a command. It's just a statement.

Beck hesitates, though, and she can tell that he wants to take another step towards her, but instead he turns around and heads for the open door, leaving her, without looking back.

And Jade closes her eyes, tightly clenching her fingers together.

.

Her head hurts and her back is aching; her limbs feel like dead weight, and her eyelids feel heavy as she struggles to lift them all the way open. She's straddling the hazy line between sleep and consciousness, and as she stares out blankly, she's able to make out the outline of a person standing before her. She knows it's not Beck, because she doesn't see the beauty that is his black hair and olive skin. She knows it's not Tori, either, because the person's hair is much too short. It's chestnut brown, the way hers used to be.

Her heart stops when she suddenly realizes who it is.

He's not dressed in a suit and tie, instead in a polo shirt and khaki pants. He looks old, old and tired and worried.

"Dad?" she whispers, her voice thick and groggy.

Her father leans down beside her. She can see the tears already welling up in his eyes. He runs a dry hand over her cheek, and she closes her eyes, feeling herself shiver from the unfamiliar touch.

"I'm sorry I've been such a terrible father to you," he says, as if to himself.

She feels her practically lifeless arm lift off the bed as he brings her hand up, kissing it with his thin lips. He squeezes her hand, and although she wants to let go of him more than anything, she can't find the strength to do it. She's too weak to lash out, to yell at him and tell him that an apology doesn't mean a goddamn thing to her.

All she does is simply let the warmth of his large hand encompass her much smaller one.

"You don't deserve this, Jade," he adds in a quivering voice.

She feels a crack in her heart, and it's that tiny crack that causes her heart to completely tear open as all of her secret fears come rushing up to the surface.

And for the first time since she's been diagnosed, she cries.

.

Things quickly return to normal — or, at least, whatever normal is for her now.

Beck continues to visit her at the hospital every day. He holds her hand and kisses her forehead, doing all the things a loving boyfriend is supposed to do. They never bring up their fight, because not only is it pointless and tiresome, it only adds more stress to their relationship that neither one of them needs right now (or ever, really).

He's there with her when the doctor comes in to deliver some very aggravating news. She'll need to have an eight hour surgery first thing tomorrow morning, he says, and she comes to realize that all of these treatments just keep piling up, and there doesn't seem to be an end to any of them in sight.

She decides then that she just can't take it anymore.

.

Later that night, as she's trying to fall asleep, she receives a text from Tori.

how are you feeling? do you want me to come visit you?

She stares at the screen for over a minute, before she simply closes the message. She taps the corner of the screen with her thumb, drawing up her contact list. She scrolls down to the name she's looking for and touches it.

The phone begins to ring as she puts it up to her ear. It rings only once before she hears some static on the other line, and then a scared-sounding, "Hello?"

"Hi, Tori," Jade says, reaching up to press her fingers to her temple. She rubs it gently, hoping to somehow soothe her throbbing senses. "I have another favor to ask."

.

The sound of the crickets chirping is louder than usual tonight; it rings out in her ears almost tauntingly, as if the crickets are judging her.

Jade stares down at the scene below her: an empty road, a cement sidewalk. It's nothing but a sea of gray. (At least it's lighter than black.)

Her hand tingles as she reaches up and slowly slides the black wool cap off her head. The winter air feels cold and biting against her head, and now, without the cap, she somehow feels exposed and naked.

It's all right, she reminds herself. It'll all be over soon.

She holds her arm out in front of her and lets go of the cap. Her eyes follow it as it falls, much slower than she expects it to, until it lands safely on the ground.

How anti-climactic.

Her eyes close of their own accord then, and she first thinks about Beck, the broken look in his eyes, all the stress and anguish and pain he's been going through this whole time. She thinks about Tori next, about all the things she must've said to make him feel better.

"I'm here for you if you need anything."

Her face tightens as she clenches her hands into fists. Tori Vega. That irritatingly sweet Tori Vega.

He deserves a nice girl like her, she realizes suddenly.

"Thanks," she whispers. To herself. To no one. To the sky, maybe.

(To Tori.)

She lets go of everything then: her anger, her fear, her resentment (her jealousy).

She lets go, and she jumps.

.

Tori stands next to Beck at Jade's funeral. They don't talk to each other, and they don't look at each other, either. They both stand there with solemn looks on their faces as glistening tears streak their cheeks.

When the ceremony comes to an end, and the crowd begins to disperse, they are the last ones to stay there. They stare down at the earth, where Jade's coffin is covered with dirt. Tori feels sick to her stomach. She wants to scream, to express the overwhelming grief she's feeling, but she doesn't say a word.

Beck's the one who eventually turns, glancing at the girl standing beside him who looks so broken and so depressed. Tori slowly meets his gaze, and she's the one who finally releases the tight grasp of her hands against her body to reach out and touch Beck's shoulder. She waits, waits until he's ready, and he stares back at her, waiting himself.

"Jade," Tori starts, and when she says her name, there's a crack in her voice that she just can't help. She swallows the lump in her throat and draws her hand back, wiping away another stray tear that trickles down her cheek. She sniffles, purses her lips and brings her hand back, this time giving Beck's shoulder a squeeze. Her voice drops to a whisper as she starts over. "Jade wanted me to tell you that…she loves you, too."

The tears in Beck's eyes escape, rolling freely down his cheeks. He smiles tightly.

"Thanks, Tori," he says.

For everything.


Author's Note: Yes, Jade committed suicide. Now, the only question is: were Beck and Tori secretly having an affair on some level? That's completely open to interpretation.

I really hope you enjoyed this story and found it meaningful. I also hope you liked the writing style. I'd love to hear your thoughts on it, what you liked and/or didn't like about it, if any line in particular stood out to you, etc. So please, please review! It honestly means more to me than you know.

Regardless, thanks so much for reading.