So this just popped into my head while I was writing another chapter of Prome Night. Excuse any typos or whatever, it's late here. I just wanted to get this up to compensate for my other updates being so short. I might add to this later, I dunno what say you FF?
I'm certain she's perfection distilled into female form.
Now she's standing in the doorway of my house, I know she's not. She's simply human.
Mascara bleeds down her cheeks and the dim light of my porch only serves to deepen the shadows over her face as she studies the ground intently. Her eyes aren't even their usual chocolate hue, they're dull, muddy. Even so, I can't pull my eyes from her. Drawing all of the courage I can muster, I pull myself upright, willing my limbs not to seize up.
"Come in." I offer, my hands nervously tugging at a loose thread on my shirt. She takes a inhales deeply, causing her chest to rattle out a sob. It's the first time I think I've ever seen the perfectly oiled machine known as Tori Vega allow herself a moment of despair, the first time I've seen a chink in her armor. It's unsettling to say the least.
"What's wrong?" I ask, closing the door behind us. She's standing in the corner of the living room, arms pulled close like she's afraid her armor will be torn apart even further, like she's afraid to let anybody in again. It's something else rarely seen from Tori Vega, she's one to wear her heart on her sleeve.
"Do you want a drink?" I pull my arms tightly across my chest, feeling unsure of what to do. Tori shakes her head, running a hand through her wavy brown hair. Even it seems lifeless, like it's given up just as she seems to have. I watch as she forces her eyes shut, trying in vain to keep more tears from spilling out. I wonder if I even want to know what sort of pain she's hiding inside.
"Uh..." I want to hug her, to tell her everything is going to be ok. I'm just Robbie though, I'm not the kind of guy that does that, I'm the kind of guy that says something weird and gets brushed off. This isn't about me though, this is about Tori. She's here for whatever reason and probably expecting some kind of comfort. I claw through my body and grasp whatever courage I can, I force my legs to carry me towards her. I lift my arms mechanically, waiting for my gesture to register in her mind, waiting for the look of a deer in front of a pair of headlights to cross her features. I wait for the flinch and then the run, it's what girls always do.
Her arms snake around my neck and her face collapses onto my shoulder. Suddenly, I'm holding both of us upright. Still feeling shocked at our close proximity, I remain rooted to the spot momentarily. Eventually, the shock pools somewhere at the bottom of my mind and I link my arms behind her back at the base of her spine.
"Seriously, what's wrong?" I ask, rubbing her back. My movements are clunky, like a robot that hasn't been oiled. I've never done this before, I've never had anyone do this for me. The whole experience is foreign to me. Tori shakes her head slowly, letting me know she isn't ready to talk about whatever the root of this problem is just yet. We simply stand there, lost in each others embrace.
"How about we watch some cartoons then?" I offer, hoping that taking her mind completely away from the problem is a satisfactory solution, at least for the time being. Her grip loosens and I gently push her away, wanting to see her reaction before declaring myself a winner in this round against Tori's emotions.
"Sure." She answers, finally meeting my gaze. Her eyes are reddened and unfocused, but somewhere between the trails of mascara and the misery, I see the old Tori shining through. It's so encouraging that I almost let myself smile. Then another sob hacks it's way through her and the illusion is shattered. She pulls me close once more, placing her face in the crook of my neck. Ordinarily, being close enough to Tori to smell the scent of her perfume would be the highlight of my week. Tonight, it only leaves me wondering.
"C'mon, you sit down and I'll get you a drink and some tissues." It's more of an instruction to the broken girl clinging to me then anything. Awkwardly, I walk us both towards the couch, Tori is more like a puppet then a real person right now. Painfully, I'm reminded of lonely nights spent with Rex in the past. No time for my own self pity now though. I'm not the one that showed up in the middle of the night at somebody's doorstep, crying my eyes out.
Gently, I pry Tori off me and head for the kithen. Reaching into the cupboard containing our glasses, I observe Tori. She chooses this moment to heave another sob out of her lungs. Seeing her so exposed, the facade of perfection dropped to the ground, shattered, it's having an effect on me. Instead of feeling timid, I feel as though I can take charge, I can be her knight in shining armor for once. Observing the tear stains on my shirt, I know I'd just end up rusting over eventually.
I'll just have to be me.
Screwing my eyes tight and running my hand over the contours of my face, I resolve not to let her down. This is my chance be there for a friend, I can't ruin it. Resolve strengthened, I clasp a glass full of water in one hand and a box off tissues in the other as I stride over to the couch Tori is currently sitting on stiffly. Lowering myself onto the couch at the opposite end to Tori, I gently motion for her to take the water and place the tissues on the couch between us.
"Thanks" The words come strangled out of Tori's throat like she has to force them. She accepts the glass, clutching it and tentatively taking a sip. My brows draw together as I study her profile. She's still so beautiful, even when she's so upset, so broken.
Wordlessly, I reach down and pull the remote into my clutches. My fingers crawl over the the remote, trying different combinations and look for something Tori might enjoy. Hesitantly, I punch in the number for a movie channel.
Hearing an excited squeak from Tori, I groan. I had been afraid this would be what we ended up watching. Glancing over at Tori and seeing more of the girl I know and less of the weeping shell that turned up on my doorstep, I decide that it's worth it and place the remote down once more.
"You don't mind?" She asks, allowing hope to filter into her voice. I shake my head slowly, like I don't want to scare her off with a sudden movement. Mentally I question that logic, just because she's sad doesn't make her a wild animal. Seeing the light in her eyes at my response, I know she's got me. If anybody is the deer in the headlights, it's me.
Hearing a loud sob, my gaze flickers over to Tori again, expecting see her looking more miserable then ever, I'm pleased to see a something resembling a smile on her face. I guess it's just a girl crying during a sad movie, not a girl crying about real life as she had been before.
"You ok?" I ask, it's out of reflex, my cheeks redden, worried I've done something to upset her. I curse my lack of courage. I guess whatever strength I had summoned before has faded. Tori continues to look ahead, like she's trying to lose herself in the movie. I can already tell she's trying to not cry, there's a tension in her that would usually be there.
It's like her pain fuels my courage, like it makes me strong when she can't be. One moment I can barely talk to her without blushing, this next moment I'm snaking an arm around her, pulling her close. I don't even stop to think about whether or not it's that right thing to do, it just feels like it is.
"No...but I'm better then before." She replies after what feels like forever, the words rattling out of her mouth hoarsely, but it's re-assuring that she's speaking in full sentences. Tori curls closer into me, resting her cheek on my shoulder. I'm torn between the awkwardness of being so close to a friend and the bliss of being so close to Tori Vega. I expect her to suddenly realize what we're doing and scuttle away, either to the other end of the couch or out of the room entirely. She doesn't though, only sinking deeper into the couch and closer to me. She simply stares forward, lost in the world on screen. I don't think that she even notices as my arm snakes behind her and comes to rest around her waist. It almost feels natural, like it's not some awkward gesture between friends.
I'm still completely in the dark as to why she's here.
We stay up until the sun begins to climb over the buildings around us and I'm still confused as Tori drifts away into a slumber. Her hands rest beneath her head, clasped together and forming a makeshift pillow. It's the only thing separating my shoulder and her face. I feel the gentle rise and fall of her chest as she snores quietly, really quietly. If she wasn't so close to me, I doubt I'd have even heard it.
Twisting to my right, I allow myself a glance at the sleeping form next to me. Her hair spills over her shoulders and masks some of her features. Even still, I can see a sense of peace embedded in her face. It's something that's been missing since she arrived. I can even trace the lines of the ghost of a smile in her expression. It's times like these I'm thankful my mother is almost never around, I can just relax. Not that Tori using me as a pillow is anything more than platonic. I just don't think parents would see it that way.
Smiling to myself, I allow myself to spiral into the embrace of unconsciousness.
I'm dragged back into the waking world by the feeling of a forearm slapping my face. Blinking rapidly, I attempt to shoo the need for more sleep from my mind and body. Glaring at the offending forearm which had slid down onto my chest, I find it hard to stay angry. Tori is still asleep, I guess she had a dream of moved in her sleep.
Then her eyelids begin to flutter, like she woke herself up by whacking me in the face. Not having to worry about waking her, I raise a limb to my face and cringe. Sometimes Tori really reminds me of that fighter, Shelby Marx, looks like they share the ability to pack a punch as well. As she regains consciousness, with disappointment, I notice her moving away from my shoulder.
"Uh...did I hit you?" She asks, cradling her own arm, a sheepish look crossing her features. It catches me off guard, how would she know she hit me? She was asleep. Watching her, I'm not sure what to do, so I just settle for nodding slowly, casting my eyes toward the floor so she doesn't think I'm staring..
"Sorry. It tends to happen..." My eyes slide from the ground and up Tori's face. Her cheeks are flushed and she looks like an innocent child who knows they've done something wrong. I feel my lips pull into a smile and any trace of annoyance I had felt melts away.
"I'll keep that in mind, if Tori Vega is sleeping next to you, protect the face." I tease, the blush on her face fueling my confidence. Her lips curve into a smile and her eyes meet mine. For a moment I think we're having a moment, then she jabs me in arm arm and laughs playfully. Man, I need to stop looking into things that just aren't there.
"Shut up." She grins, her hand lingering on my arm for what seems like longer than a friendly gesture. I gulp, feeling a tightness in my throat at the contact. She seems to notice and draws her hand away slowly.
"Breakfast?" I offer, breaking the silence that had fallen over us. Tori smiles widely and nods happily, as if to punctuate her response I hear a quiet growl from her stomach. She immediately turns a deep shade of red and she covers it with an arm, as if to shush it.
"Sounds like a pretty clear yes." I state, making my way to my feet and stretching out my muscles. Eyeing Tori, I notice trails of mascara still remain on her face. Mentally slapping myself, I retract my arms and shift my gaze to Tori.
"If you want to shower, there bathrooms that way." I announce, pointing towards the my right and trying to hide my embarrassment. Offering your female friend a shower could come across really creepy. "Uh, you don't have to or I could take you home or-"
Tori simply rises to her feet and closes the distance between us and my words falter, sliding uselessly from my tongue without a sound. The smile on her face as she places an index finger over my mouth is enough to light up my entire world. As cheesy as that sounds it's true.
"Calm down and give Tori a squeeze." She instructs, spreading her arms. My eyebrows draw together, Tori's never been this open with touching me before. She's been this way with Cat and Andre, even with Jade, but never me. Not one to question fate, I step into her arms and allow her to wrap her arms around my neck. We're so close that I can smell the fruity scent of her shampoo.
Reluctantly, I gently pry her off me and make my way to the kitchen, trying to ignore the feeling of lose tugging at me. Would have love to stay lost in her embrace, but how long would too long be?Besides, I did promise her some sort of breakfast. Reaching the kitchen, I bend at the knees and extend an arm into the fridge and grope around so something to cook. Not a lot of options, but I'm pretty sure bacon and eggs will be satisfactory.
"Hey Robbie, I think I'm going to go shower." Tori's voice snaps me out of my thoughts and before I can give it any thought, I'm rushing past her, grabbing towels, soaps, anything I can to make her bathing experience more pleasant. As I'm buzzing around her, I notice a bemused smile crossing her lovely features.
It's that moment that I realize Tori isn't just pretty, she's achingly beautiful. I've heard people comment on her perfect cheekbones, I've heard people make fun of them even. But right now, as she ties her hair back, I notice that she's almost flawless. I don't even allow my eyes to stray lower than her jawline, the beauty is in her face, not just her curves.
"Thanks." She beams, eyes skittering over me. Returning her gaze and looking into her deep brown eyes, I feel as though my skin is being stripped away and she can see all of my flaws. It's an unnerving thought, I mask my insecurities through passing her the towel and turning to leave for the kitchen.
Busying myself looking breakfast, I'm able to banish thoughts of Tori, thoughts of Tori touching me and...aww who am I kidding. The only thing going through my mind while I cook is the sparks I've been feeling all morning. As the bacon sizzles in the pan, I can't help but play out the various possible consequences of me asking if Tori would like to go to the movies.
"That. Smells. Great." Twisting, I see Tori's petite frame in the doorway of the living room. Her limbs are so fluid as she makes her way into the kitchen, I'm painfully aware of my own lumbering movements.
"Thanks." I comment, lowering my head to the pan, staring at the bacon as it cooks and attempting to hide my blush from Tori. I can feel her eyes on me, questioning my evasive act. Scooping the bacon out of the plate, I no longer have an excuse to avoid her gaze.
"Breakfast is served!" I announce loudly, false bravado lacing each word as I pass Tori's plate towards her. She eyes it hungrily, looking like she hasn't eaten in some time. She moves swiftly, reminding me of a cat. Tori's clasps that plate in one hand, taking a knife and fork before digging in at the breakfast counter in front of me.
Watching the girl shovel food into her mouth like there's no tomorrow, a comfortable silence falls between us. I divide my own plate into pieces, piercing them on my fork and heaping them into my mouth. It's been a long time since I've eaten with somebody at my side. Sliding my glance to Tori momentarily, I know I could get used to this.
"You never said you could cook like that." Tori exclaims, eyes widening in delight, once we've finished our meals. Blushing for what seems like the millionth time today, I want to look away. I can't though, her eyes drag me in, looking away just isn't an option.
"You learn when you're alone a lot, I guess." The words come out of my throat with a croak. I prefer not to discuss the fact that I'm essentially fendinf gor myself since Mom is at work basically all of the time. I think Tori catches the sadness in my eyes, she extends an arm, her fingers crawl over my own, enclosing them with a tenderness I don't think I've ever experienced. I can't help but recoil slightly, the feeling is unfamiliar.
"Sorry" She mutters, casting her gaze at the floor, shadows covering her eyes. I take the initiative for once, pulling her hand back into my own as it retreats. Reassuring her that the problem was mine, not hers. Tori seems to understand this, her eyes once again meet my own. For once, neither of us blush.
Eventually I take the dishes over to the sink, twisting the tap and releasing a torrent of steaming water. Without much fanfare, I go about the task of cleaning up the remnants of our breakfast. Feeling a something brush past me, I notice Tori has followed me and is now awaiting some clean dishes, hand towel in at the ready.
"So, how come you came over?" I blurt, unsure of how to approach the subject. Tori tenses noticeably as the words leave my mouth. I can see the whiteness in her knuckles as she clutches the plate in her hand intensely. Seeing the look of despair flooding through her eyes, I wonder if asking her this was a good idea or not.
"Uh, sorry. You don't have to answer that, I mean-" I begin to stammer, not wanting to ruin the morning we've been having so far. It's like I'm genetically coded to ruin perfect situations.
"Calm down Robbie, I do owe you an explanation of some sort..." The words are supposed to be re-assuring, but they rattle out of her lips, each sounding less optimistic then the last. She offers a weak smile, drawing each of her arms close. It's a habit I've noticed she does when she's worried.
I open and close my mouth, trying to find the words to halt her own. Something in her eyes makes me think I don't want to know what she's about to tell me. She motions for me to to just listen, I allow my protesting limbs to fall uselessly against my torso.
"It was Trina. We went out to a party together and..." The words catch in her throat as a sob hacks it's way through her. Not allowing myself a moment to think, I reach out my hand, taking her hand In my own. It's the first time I've reached out to a girl without her recoiling in horror. Tori inhales deeply, attempting to gather to courage to finish her story.
"She ended up seeing me talking to that senior she likes...I think she thought I was trying to steal him from her." I watch as her eyes glass over and she loses herself in the painful memory. I gently massage her hand with my thumb, trying to bring her back to reality.
"I was only trying to tell him how great Trina is." The words slide off her tongue and she hangs her head limply, like the fight has gone out of her. "S-she said that she wishes she didn't have a sister and that I'm an ugly person on the inside."
A lone tear slides down Tori's cheek, I resist the urge to wipe it from her face. She's got enough problems without her friend being a creep. I know Trina, so I know she probably said and did a lot more to Tori. The girl just won't admit it, she doesn't want me to hate her sister more then I already do.
"Then she drove home, leaving me with no way home since Mom and Dad are on a c-cruise." The words come out choked, Tori has to force them out. It's now that I look at her, really look at her, seeing just how broken Trina left her.
"So you came here?" I ask, hesitation infecting my words.
"I was looking for some money in my wallet and then I found this..." Tori reaches into her jeans, producing a crumpled piece of paper. Holding it up, I recognize it as one of the coupons I had given my friends last christmas as a joke. Scanning the words, it all makes sense. Why would you go home to a snarling Trina, when you have this in your pocket.
Shapiro Holiday coupon – Good for one night at Casa De Shapiro.
"You kept these?" I ask, it's obvious that she did, but suspicion colors my words. I hadn't expected anybody to actually hold onto these. They were just meant to add a personal touch to my gifts since I didn't have a lot of money to buy actually decent presents.
"Of course I did." She states, biting down on her lip slightly. Her eyes dart around nervously, like she's afraid that she's done something wrong.
"You know, Trina's wrong. You're not ugly at all Tori." I say, trying to keep my voice level. I don't need to start spilling all sorts of feelings I'm having out. Tori's emotions are on edge enough as it is.
"You're a guy, of course you think that." She replies, bitterness leaking into her voice. She looks downward, tracing her fingers along her own thigh as her shoulders slump as well. I screw my eyes shut, cursing my choice of words.
"I don't mean your body. I mean your heart, your mind." I state quietly, attempting to claw together any courage I can and drag it into my voice. My voice comes out rough, the words come out cheesy and cliched, consoling people has never been my forte.
"I'm serious Tori, you're a good person. You're-" I pull the words out of me, I don't even manage to fumble my way to the end of the sentence before Tori interjects, fire burning in her eyes once more. I rock backwards, feeling intimidated by the girl in front of me.
"Don't you dare say perfect." The tone in Tori's voice is cold, like she's heard how perfect she is before, but she knows she can't live up to that sort of acclaim. Her body language changes completely, it's like she coils, tensing completely.
"I was going to say beautiful inside, your personality is what makes you beautiful. Not just your body. Am I safe?" The words slide off my lips, for once I don't have to force them out. Eyeing Tori, I know she's searching me for sincerity, her eyes scanning over me.
"You are..." Her lips pull into a weak smile, it's nothing compared to the brightness in her eyes. I can see the thoughts swirling behind her eyes. The smile is just a token signifying her acceptance of my words. I latch onto the end of her sentence, it's unfinished.
"...but?" Her expression softens and I see the harshness of before leave her gaze.
"Can I have a hug?" She finishes in a small voice, lifting her arms and reaching towards me. I shake my head slowly, stepping into her embrace once more. She wraps her arms around my neck, I rest mine in the small of her back.
"Robbie..." Tori mumbles into my shoulder, not bothering to turn her head.
"Yeah?" I reply softly, not wanting to break whatever spell it is that has Tori pressed tightly against me.
"Does this feel strange to you?" Her question has me wondering, does it? When she'd even come near me last night, I started blushing like a child. Now her entire body is pressed against mine and I'm not even batting an eyelid.
"Not really, not anymore." I answer truthfully. I feel Tori shift slightly, lifting her head and gazing at me, her chocolate orbs shimmering with happiness. I expect her to push away, sending me sprawling backwards. She doesn't. In fact, I feel Tori's grip tighten further.
"Good." Tori mumbles simply, leaning her head against my shoulder once more. As we stand in my house, holding each other, I feel a warmth inside of me. Like ever moment with Tori makes up for the misery I've dealt with before.
She's not perfect, but she's all mine.
At least for this moment.