I haven't said this in a while but I'd just like to thank you guys for being a great audience and giving me place to share. And thanks for all the feedback, it's just really nice to know someone's reading. Seriously, sometimes writing for you guys is the only thing that keeps me sane… Wellll, as sane as I can get, I suppose ;)

Disclaimer: Do I really have to keep doing this? Fine… I don't own Victorious!

Chapter 19

"Please, Marcus, please!" Tori whined, tugging on the sleeve of his coat.

Marcus Johnson, a burly, middle-aged, African American man glanced down at his employer's nine year old daughter. He chuckled at her attempts to drag him through the grounds while he was making his rounds. "No Victoria, I told you, I'm supposed to be working to make sure no bad guys come and kidnap little girls like you," the security guard said.

"I know…" she huffed. "But can't you do that while you're playing with me?"


"Please Marcus please. Just for a little while. Michael said he would be back in half an hour. Puleeeeeease!" she pleaded, shooting big brown eyes at him, her bottom lip dropped in an adorable pout.

He sighed, he could never resist that pout and she knew it. "Okay, fine. Go hide. I'll count."

"Yes!" the nine year old brunette cheered and dashed down the path. "No peeking!" she shouted over her shoulder.

"Yeah, yeah…" He grinned, placing his palm over his eyes and began to count.

Tori's skid to a stop, her head swerving left and right in search of an ideal bush to hide behind. That one on the left! She crawled behind it, parting some leaves in her line of vision waiting for Marcus to show up. She didn't have to wait long.

"Victoria…" A rough but playful voice called as footsteps drew nearer.

Tori brought a hand to her mouth stifling her bubbling giggles, not wanting to give away her position.

"Victoria, I know you here." Marcus walked into clearing, rotating once on the spot. "Where is that child?"

As soon as he turned around again, a fist smashed into his jaw hard, knocking him a few paces back. Before he could grasp what was happening, he caught a knee in his stomach winding him. He dropped to his knees, grunting as an elbow expertly jabbed him in the back of his neck.

Tori flinched as the whole thing occurred lightning fast. She was frozen, fear coursing through her as she saw the bald man dressed in a formal suit push Marcus's face into the dirt, his strong body keeping him down.

Just as she was about to release a blood curdling scream, Marcus quickly caught her eye, struggling to bring a finger to his lip indicating she should remain silent. Tori looked worriedly at him before biting her tongue.

"Let him up Carl."

Her head jerked when she heard her father's voice echo through the trees. There, David stepped into the clearing dusting off the sleeves of his own suit.

The man named Carl, grabbed Marcus by the scruff of his collar and dragged him to his feet. He stepped back giving David some space.

Marcus groaned, cursing himself for being caught off guard, swaying a little. "Mr. Vega," he croaked. His eyes immediately going to his assailant, who had battle scars streaking across his face from his short term service in the army. But what drew his attention the most were those empty black eyes that were a deep contrast against his ghostly pale skin. He figured this was the man the other guards had been talking about. Carl, Mr. Vega's right hand man, especially in all his illegal dealings.

David stood in front of him, studying the big man with cool eyes. "You know, I hate being made a fool of Marcus."

Marcus's eyes grew in confusion. "Sir?"

David tossed a few photographs at the man's chest.

Marcus leaned down to pick up the picture's, wide-eyed at what he saw. "I can explain…" he said suddenly, but his employer simply raised a hand to forestall him.

"Did I say I wanted you to explain?" David walked around him in a slow circle, appraising him. "No, I don't want you to explain… Do you know what I do want Marcus?"

The security guard shook his head. "No sir."

"I want to make an example out of you. I want to show others why they should think twice about messing with me."

Marcus's dark eyes flashed, nervously. "Mr. Vega, I –oomph." A punch caught Marcus straight in the gut. Another one to the side of his face that floored him.

Carl shook out his hands and looked at David, who raised a brow. "I'm sorry, did you actually want to listen to that?"

"Not particularly… Just make it quick." David stared at the now crawling figure, with a bored expression.

"My pleasure." Carl chuckled, cracking his knuckles, moving his neck from side to side. He landed a solid kick into Marcus's ribs, the robust man cringing over in pain. Then he straddled the lithe figure, striking him in face with a right. Then left. Then right again. This continued insanely until his face was flowing with blood and he barely remained conscious. "This is boring, he is no challenge at all," Carl complained in a yawn, decking him again, a wad of blood and a tooth flying out of Marcus's mouth.

Tori cringed at every hit, her hand over her mouth as tears leaked down her face. She watched and watched until she couldn't take it anymore. She ran out of her hiding spot. "Stop! Stop hurting him!" She screamed, startling the two men. "Leave him alone!" She yelled, punching and kicking at Carl's hard body trying to get him off Marcus.

"Whoa…" Carl grabbed the little girl by the front of her shirt. He stood taking her with him.

"Victoria!" David shouted.

"Leave him alone!" Tori cried, struggling, hovering in the air by Carl's clutch. Her legs and arms kicking out fiercely.

Carl laughed at her attempts, amused. "Feisty little thing…" He cocked a brow at David. "One of yours?"

"Unfortunately." Her father didn't look impressed.

"Leave Marcus alone!" Tori demanded, still squirming.

Carl grinned, reading the print on her pink t-shirt that said superstar. "Or what superstar? A pretty little thing like you is going to make me?"

"Tori!" Everyone jolted, to see Michael jump off his skateboard. "What the fuck is going on here?" He rushed towards them. "Let go of her, you bastard!" He pulled Tori out of Carl's grasp and into his arms. Tori started weeping profusely as her brother held her. He set infuriated eyes on his father. "How could you fucking let him do this to her!"

"Michael, you'll learn to address me with respect." David commanded, his brown eyes heated.

"Or what dad? You're going to get your fucking lapdog there to beat me bloody too?" Michael grotesquely glanced at the barely breathing body on the ground, making a mental note to call the police and ambulance. Not that his father or Carl would be charged. "C'mon Tori…" He dragged Tori out of there.

Tori looked back once to see Carl wink and wave at her. "Bye-bye, superstar…"

… … … … … … … … … … … … …

"Tori… Hey…" A gentle hand stroked the side of her cheek as her body writhed under the covers. "Tori wake up, baby, you're having a bad dream."

Tori's eyes snapped open. Instinctively, she swiped the unknown mass that had a grip on her shoulders off the bed and onto the floor. She swiftly straddled the body with her own weight, pinning the offender's arms down with her knees and her elbow digging into their neck.


Smurf's barks roared in her ears, bringing her back. Dark eyes blinked, adjusting to the night and focused on Jade's face. "Jade…" She stared into eyes that turned grey in the silver moonlight, awareness seeping in. "Jesus Christ Jade! You almost gave me a heart attack," she hissed.

"Yeah… well, you're kinda breaking my neck." Jade managed in a strained and breathy voice.

"Shit, sorry." Tori quickly eased the pressure on her neck, Jade sucking in a deep and painful breath. Getting off the younger woman, she helped Jade sit on the bed. "Are you okay?"

Jade nodded briskly, coughing mildly and massaging her throat.

The brunette ran a shaky hand through her hair as she sat beside Jade, still trying to merge into reality. All she could see was Carl's face, his erratic grin. Her eyes shot over to her bedside clock and widened. "Dammit, Jade, what are you doing here! Its 1am!"

The Goth met her panicky eyes with concerned ones. "I-I had to see you, Vega. You left so quickly, I had to make sure you were okay."

It was true. As soon as Carl had left Jade's house, she practically grabbed Andre and made him take her home, claiming to not feeling well. She told no one the real reasons, not even Andre as yet. Instead, she locked herself in her home and called her father half a dozen times only reaching his voicemail. She needed to know what was going on. Why was Carl here? And why was he making her life hell?


The brunette's head snapped up again. "Huh?"

"Are you okay?" Jade cupped her cheek, lightly.

She was far from it. With Carl here, she didn't know what to expect now. Less than a week ago she was the one comforting her lover and now it was the other way around. How did things become so twisted so fast?

She looked at Jade dazedly, the pure devotion directed at her, making her weak. She never had that before. Someone who loved her so passionately that it stirred her very essence. Someone she knew would never abandon her, like Kelly, like her parents, like her brother eventually had. And selfishly, she couldn't lose her.

Unable to voice her thought, she nodded disbelievingly, her emotions welled up in her eyes.

"Come here," Jade whispered, lifting one arm in invitation.

Tori didn't have to be asked twice, she slipped into the loving embrace, squeezing tightly. Her face buried into Jade's neck breathing in the familiar scent. "I love you, Jade. I love you so damn much."

"I know." Jade's eyes fell closed as she felt warm liquid slide against the nape of her neck. Her arms wrapping around the trembling body more securely. Distress, love and need all emanating in waves.

Leaning back slightly, Jade tilted the brunette's chin until their teary gaze held for a mere second. Seeing the frantic need there that had nothing to do with words. Need that reflect her own. Before she knew what was happening their lips were fused desperately together. Mouth's, tongues and teeth clashing hard as they fell back on the bed. Jade's body pressed into Tori maneuvering her back towards the pillows. Tori raking at the hem of Jade's shirt almost ripping it off her head and onto the floor. Jade's hands running up the side of the feverish body beneath hers and removing the brunette's own shirt quickly in the process, their mouths never missing a beat.

Their bare breasts brushing together as the lips fought for dominance. Jade plunged her tongue into Tori's mouth eliciting a moan that drove straight between her legs. Their growing desire blinding as they continued move together. Their kisses weren't gentle. They were voracious, demanding, needy and wet. The Goth didn't wait long, her hot and hungry mouth tearing away from the brunette's lips to feast at her perfect breasts.

It was as if she couldn't remember the last time she made love to the brunette. It was all so new to her. It always was. The exquisite feeling of skin on skin.

Tori groaned, her fingers digging into black hair, pulling Jade more into her as she was teasing her erect nipples with her teeth and tongue. The Goth's hand moving between their bodies and slipped under the waistband of Tori's panties. Torturous finger moved along the depths of wet heat found there.

Tori moaned bringing Jade's lips back to hers, her legs spreading apart. She was throbbing, on the verge of exploding, her hips undulating at the gentle teasing of Jade's fingers that meticulously avoided her most sensitive areas. "Jade… please…" she begged against her lips. "Please… I need you inside…" She wanted that primal connection more than anything.

The brunette whimpered in protest when Jade removed her hand and ripped away from her. Her hips rose when she felt the Goth tug her underwear down her thighs and discarded them. Jade also got rid of her bottoms rapidly. So they were both naked before she fell back into bed, claiming Tori's lips.

Tori broke the kiss with a gasp as she was suddenly filled with two fingers. The blissful invasion was felt so deep, it reached her soul. Her hips rocking in sync with the rhythm of her lover's hand. The only sound that filled the room was the slick wetness as Jade thrust into her and their frantic breathing. It didn't take long. Tori came with a loud cry, her eyes screwed shut, mouth agape, grasping the sheets in an iron fist.

Jade's cheek rested on upturned hand, riveted by the sight. She didn't think Tori could possibly be any more gorgeous. Each time proving her wrong. Slowly, she eased her fingers out of the brunette as she drew in some recovering breaths.

Finally, glistening dark eyes fluttered open seeking blue sapphires that were smiling back at her.

"You're so beautiful." Jade kissed her cheek, affectionately. The Goth brought her coated fingers to her own mouth, a pink tongue poking out to taste Tori's essence. Just as Jade was about to draw the digits completely into her mouth, a halting hand wrapped around her wrist. She looked at Tori with a raised eyebrow.

With Tori's eyes never leaving Jade's, she sucked the Goth's fingers into her own mouth tasting herself.

Jade bit her lip, stifling a moan at that move, staring at Tori with raw need. The tickling sensation of the brunette's tentative tongue licking her fingers dry, driving her crazy. Once clean, Tori released Jade's fingers capturing her mouth in a deep but breathy kiss.

Jade savored Tori on her own lips, rolling onto her back and pulling the brunette with her. Her legs parting so that they fitted together perfectly. Tori's hands roaming over every piece of flesh she could find, until they settled on Jade's breasts, cupping her, feeling her. Jade moaned breaking the kiss, giving Tori the opportunity to trail open-mouth kisses along her collarbone into the valley between her breasts. She gasped when a warm moist mouth covered her, suckling her taut nipple and tweaking them between forefingers. Her erratic breathing picked up a notch as her breasts were worshipped, her body literally quaking.

"V-Vega…" She arched her hips trying desperately to find some relief, flitting on the border of insanity. She was completely soaked with arousal, never craving anything or anyone as much as she needed Tori right now.

Tori guessing her immediate attention was needed elsewhere, began descending down her tummy leaving light kisses behind. She spread the Goth's thighs further apart with a kiss on each side.

Jade felt Tori cup her hips and settling between her legs, feeling her warm breath drift upon her wet skin. Forcing her eyes to remain open, she looked down meeting the brunette's gaze head on.

I love you.

It was there in her eyes, before Tori lowered her head, her tongue delving inside, through the length of her swollen folds.

"Fuck." Jade threw her head back in an unsteady groan, her hand moving to rest on the back of the brunette's head. She felt her thighs tremble violently as her body began to drift away, her mind ceasing all function. Sensing her lover's closeness, Tori covered her clit, sucking fiercely the on proverbial nub.

Jade's fingers stiffened, pulling Tori deeper into her, the edge drawing nearer and nearer until she was tossed off with a blinding force. A guttural moan ripped from her throat as her body shuddered with release, trapping Tori until she collapsed…

… … … … … … … … … … … … …

They lay wrapped up together, both recovering from their recent passions. Tori rested her head against her sleeping lover's shoulder, one leg draped comfortably over Jade's hip. Her eyes voyaging the endless darkness of her room.

There were still many concerns raging through her. Questions and doubts, she didn't want to answer. The last few months exerting and exhausting her. Could you really blame her for wanting to simply bask in the right now?

With Jade.

She looked up at her moon-light covered lover with a slight smile, her heart swelling as she roamed Jade's flawless features. Her smile fell when she reached Jade's neck, slight discoloration evident on the base of her throat. Tori traced the pads of her fingers over the tender area in regret. "I hurt you…" she murmured into the night.

"It's nothing, I can barely feel it," Jade whispered.

Tori startled, as she assumed the Goth had fallen asleep. "Jade, you're going to have a bruise," she said with self-loathing. "Shit, I'm sorry."

Jade chuckled gently, stroking a comforting hand down Tori's naked back. "Relax, Vega… It's not life threatening, I'm sure I'll live," she teased.


"Still, nothing." Jade admonished, peering down at her. "I'm actually impressed. Where did you learn to do that, anyway?"

Tori sighed, settling back into her position with a pout. "Self-defense and Taekwondo classes since I was nine."

"No way… really?" The awe in Jade's tone was clearly visible.

"Yep." She nodded.

"How come I didn't know about that?"

"I stopped when I was about eighteen."


Tori hesitated and then murmured, "It was something Michael and I did together."

"Oh…" Jade acknowledged, tightening her grip on the brunette, instinctively. "That's pretty cool."

The brunette swallowed, dropping her gaze. "He wanted to make sure I could take care of myself, if he… if he wasn't around."

Jade pressed a kiss on her head. "I'm glad."

She looked at Jade's throat again. "I don't think your neck is very glad."

"It will get over it." The Goth shrugged. "Plus, I'm pretty sure people are going to think it's a hickey."

Tori let out a choked laugh. "True. I'm so sorry." She pressed a light kiss on the injured area.

"It's okay, teaches me never to sneak up on you." Jade smiled, picking playfully at her hair. "I just realized there are still so many fascinating things I don't know about you."

The brunette sighed heavily. "Not all of it is pretty, Jade."

"Like things that involve your family?" Jade ventured tactfully. Every time they spoke about Tori's family, the brunette was open yet she also felt like a lot of things were unsaid. Things that involved her. Things that brought a dark and sad look into beautiful brown eyes.

Tori raised her head and met Jade's eyes, seriously. "Yes…"

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"I…" Shame coated Tori's voice, she turned away. "You should know."

"Okay…" Jade gripped her chin and forced the brunette to face her. "But not right now." There was no rush. "Right now, I want to make love to you again."

Tori's lips edged on a smile, grateful she didn't have to get into it while she felt this vulnerable. "Haven't had enough, yet?"

"I'll never have enough when it comes to you." Jade grinned, drawing Tori's lips to hers.

… … … … … … … … … … … … …

Tori slipped out of bed, careful not to jostle her dozing lover. It wasn't an easy task as one might think. Pulling on a shirt and a pair of shorts, she couldn't help but smile at the way Jade unconsciously pulled her pillow closer smothering her face into it. At face-value, the last thing you would have thought Jade West was is a snuggler. But she was champion at it.

Tori eyed the blinking clock. It was only a few minutes after five. They had only stopped making love maybe a half hour ago, sheer exhaustion claiming her lover. It was still long before sunrise but the brunette couldn't fall back to sleep. Carl never straying far away from her thoughts. She would have to tell Jade everything when she awoke, she knew. All the things about her life that she wasn't proud of.

Smurf head was tilted towards the wall, avoiding her from where he lay at the bedroom door. She chuckled softly at his embarrassment. "I'm sorry you had to witness that but I wasn't thinking about letting you out at the time. Maybe, you should sleep downstairs from now on?"

He simply rose and hopped onto now vacant side of the bed. He turned in a deliberate circle before plopping down next to Jade. She raised a brow. "Is that your way of telling me, maybe I should sleep downstairs?" She shook her head and laughed when he cocked his head away from her. "We'll talk about this later." She whispered over her shoulder as she headed out of the bedroom, closing the door behind her. She could use some coffee and maybe think about what to do about Carl.

When she reached the top of the staircase, her head snapped up at the unusual creaking sound coming from the lounge. She shot a concerned look at her closed bedroom, before quietly, slipping her hand into closet and producing a baseball bat. Bat poised over her head, she held her breath as she stealthily treading down the stairs.

"Really, superstar… A baseball bat?" An amused whisper floated into her ear, startling her. She whipped around crashing into a solid body, her wrist caught above her head before she could strike.

If she wasn't frozen in place, she would have tried to rip her arm away. Instead, she watched as Carl's dark eyes traced slowly over her face lingering at inappropriate places. He look at the bat above them and then back at her. He grinned. "Kind of an American cliché don't you think," he volunteered, squeezing her once before releasing her arm.

He turned around leaving her where she stood and casually took a seat in the single couch near the window facing her.

She flicked on the lights, gently putting the bat down. She had released the breath she'd been holding yet the tension still remained. "How the hell did you get in here?" she said through gritted teeth, her eyes set stiffly on him.

Carl studied her, legs stretched out and crossed over the ankles. He was wearing his usual immaculate suit type attire. An ever present smug smirk engraved on his face to compliment his psychotic onyx eyes. "What? You think only your high school dyke can sneak in and I can't?" He brought a mocking hand to his chest. "I should be hurt."

"Jade has a key." Tori informed him, hugging herself.

He just chuckled softly, eyes on the ceiling, clearly amused. Tori shivered at the sound, never hating anything more. She just hoped it didn't wake up Jade. Then he suddenly stopped and shot her a pointed look. "And you think I don't?"

She didn't doubt it. She looked at him for a long moment before lowering her gaze to the floor. "Why?" she whispered so low he almost missed it.

He arched an eyebrow, the scar running down his cheek deepening. "Why?"

"Why? Why are you here in Rosewood? Why are you doing this?"

"You know why," he said simply.

Her head jerked up, her brows drawn tight. "You expect me to think my father is behind everything?"

"Well…" he laughed. "Not everything. I'll admit some things were for my own entertainment."

She didn't think so. Her father never allowed her anywhere near reporters and the media. It was a rule. In fact, most of the time people thought he only had one child. "Does he know you're going around and playing with the media?"

Carl waved her off, his eyes twinkling. "He doesn't need to know all the details as long as the job gets done."

"And what job is that?" Tori demanded, her temper getting the better of her. "Why now! Why is he so fucking concerned about my love life!" She shook her head. "I really don't get it. The only reason he would be concerned is if the media is involved." She pointed at him, sternly. "And you're the only one driving it in that route."

"What?" He paused, rising with a frown. "Love life? You actually think this is about your love life? He doesn't give a shit about that dyke you just fucked."

Tori's jaw clenched but she didn't respond to that. Instead, she asked, "Then what?"

"Like you don't know." He pulled his cell from his pocket, pressing a few buttons. "Remember this." He shoved it in her hands and wandered around the living room.

Tori's eyes widened at the video of her and Jade performing on stage at the Fairview fair. Suddenly things started to become clearer. Everything only started after this night. She looked at his back. "You thi –"

He whipped around, eyes pinning her down. "You really thought he wouldn't find out?"

"But –"

He stalked towards her. "How stupid do you think he is? He always has people watching you to make sure you don't pull shit like this!"

"It's not mine," she said quietly, arms crossed over her chest. She looked him dead in the eye. "The song… it's not mine."

His stride faltered. "What?"

"I didn't write the song."

He considered her, lips pursed, an arm pointing towards the second floor. "She composed that?"

Tori felt her lips crook into a smile. "Lyrics and music. I helped, but it's not mine." It was true. She didn't consider it hers. One thing was for certain, if Jade hadn't finished it with her, it would have been just another unfinished piece never to be completed.

"You expect me to think that kid did that?" he asked skeptically again.

The brunette shrugged. "I was younger…"

"I remember, superstar…" Carl nodded walking into her personal space until her back hit the wall. "Good thing she isn't, right?" he leered.

The only reason she didn't shove him away was because she didn't want to create a commotion that would wake up Jade. And he knew that.

"Fuck you." She growled, turning her head away when he leaned in.

He picked at her hair. "Still feisty, I see." His warm breath caressed her ear. "From what I see and heard, she is too." He clutched Tori's chin painfully, and jerked her up to face him. "What deal do you think this one will take to leave you? Money? A nice fancy position like the other bitch…" he whispered. Then a sly smile crept onto his face. "Or maybe a mentorship by David himself? Obviously, she's capable enough. You think she'd give up being associated with one of the most powerful men in the music industry to be with you?"

"Y-you don't know her. She wouldn't agree to anything David has to offer."

He clucked his tongue. "Poisoned her mind already, I see. But everyone has their price, you most of all should know that." A blunt finger slid down the side of her face. "Otherwise you wouldn't be in this situation."

Tori lowered her face when his grip loosened. "Why are you here? I doubt it's just to fuck with me."

"True… Though that was fun for the most part." He chuckled, stepping away from her to her relief. "When daddy got wind of your little performance, he sent me down to collect you."

Her eyebrows knitted together. "What?"

"I'm ordered to bring you back by any means. Trina needs another album to release."

"No!" Tori's eyes grew in apprehension. She shook her head, vigorously. "No! I told him I was done!"

"Clearly that video convinced him otherwise."

"I told you, it's not mine!"

He shrugged. "So get your girlfriend to help you or something."

This time Tori's eyes hardened. "She's not involved in this!" She met his gaze head on, her voice steady. "She will never be involved in this! Do you understand me?"

He cocked a brow at her audacious words. "Who the fuck do you think you're threatening?"

"Get out! I'm not coming back and you can't make me! Play with the fucking media all you want, you'll deal with him not me." Vibrating in anger, she jerked her hand towards the door. "Just get out of my house!"

"Bold words, superstar." He grinned and took a menacing step towards her as she seized the bat in a white-knuckle grip. "Yeah… I don't think so."

"She asked you to leave…"

They both froze and turned to see Jade standing on the stairs, her hand resting on Smurf whose steady growl rumbled through the house.

"Jade…" Tori whispered.

Carl's lips curled as his black eyes met hers. "Ah, Jade West … So glad we finally meet in person. The name's Carl."

"I don't fucking care. Get. Out," Jade said, her blue eyes slicing through him.

"Teenagers… No manners, I swear." He shook his head and rolled his eyes. "Or what? You're going to let your beast loose on me?" He eyed the mutt nonchalantly.

"For starters…" She retorted, pulling her cell from her pocket.

He chuckled. "Oh, you're going to call the police too. I'm sure your aunt will be thrilled to know what you're doing here at this hour."

"That's exactly what I'll do," the Goth threatened, unfazed.

"She doesn't really know the rules, does she?" He nudged Tori's shoulder. As soon as he made contact with brunette, Smurf started barking insanely. The noise was so deafening, he clasped at his ears.

"Jesus, that mutt is going to wake up the whole fucking neighborhood!" Reaching into jacket, he produced his pistol. Jade stiffened as it roamed over her and directed at Smurf.

"Nooo!" Tori rushed into his aim holding out trembling hands. "No! Don't!"

He turned the piece in his hand with a frown. "Aw crap, did I forget my silencer again?" He rolled his eyes. "Shut him the hell up before I wake up them up myself!" He told them, cocking the gun.

Jade crouched down calming the Labrador as much as she could, her eyes never leaving the gun. She held her breath when he trained it on her.

"I'll never come with you, if you hurt either of them!" Tori shouted, her voice surprisingly steady.

"Wanna bet?" Carl challenged, his finger playing delicately on the trigger.

"You know I won't!"

He knew she wouldn't. She was too emotionally invested in them. If they were hurt, she would break. There would be no more fear. Nothing to fear for. And if it was one thing all his experience taught him it was the fear that made people do things. He would need another way to draw her back.

He finally sighed, tucking the gun back into his jacket. Turning, he headed towards the front door. "I'll be back. Better start packing, superstar. Eventually, we both know you're going home…"

Tori's shoulders sagged with relief when she heard the door click closed. She spun around and gathered Jade in her arms. She didn't know who was trembling more. She cradled the Goth's face, searching. "Are you okay?" she asked. "I'm so sorry. God, I'm so so sorry," she said over and over again peppering kisses all over her face.

"I'm fine." Jade nodded with a shuddering breath, burying her nose into Tori's neck as they clung together. "I'm okay." They sat down on the stairs, still locked in their embrace, Smurf leaving them to go investigate the door.

After a long moment of silence that fell over them, Tori let out a breath. "I'm sorry, baby. I never ever wanted you to have to deal with him."

"I… Smurf woke me up growling at the door and you weren't in bed…" Jade pressed a palm into her head, her thoughts feeling muddle staring down the barrel of a gun for the first time. His hollow eyes telling her he no qualms pulling the trigger. She leaned back and met the brunette's troubled gaze. "I was scared he was going to hurt you."

Tori pulled Jade back into her arms. "He can't hurt me, sweetheart. At least not physically. He won't hurt you either, okay." She wouldn't let him.

"Who is he?" Jade wondered. She gathered that he was probably their blackmailer, but she hadn't seen him around town before. She was certain about that.

The brunette sighed. "Carl Walker, he works for my father. Basically, his right hand. If David wants something done, Carl is usually who does it."

Jade jolted back, staring at her incredulously. "So… it's your father who wants to expose our relationship? How did he even know in the first place?"

"Because I was stupid to ever think he'd let me live my own life." Tori dropped her face into her hands, shaking her head. "He obviously paid someone in this town to keep an eye on me the entire time." Exhaling, she peered up at Jade. "And no, he doesn't want to expose us, he wants me to go back… Carl was just having fun at our expense. He can't follow through on anything." She looked away. "It's against the rules," she murmured.


Tori stood, walking a few paces, arms wrapped around herself. Her back was to Jade when she spoke. "I'm not allowed anywhere near the media, Jade."

"Not allowed?" The Goth blinked, confusedly at her back. "I don't understand…"

"I've never been allowed near them. He's always afraid I'll expose some secrets." Her slight smile didn't reach her moist eyes as she stared out into the back yard. Morning seemed to breaking through. "He doesn't really deal well with embarrassment." She let out a humorless chuckle.

"He? Your father?" At Tori's nod, she asked, "What secrets?"

Tori stroked her bare arms, the morning chill sinking in. "Family secrets…" She looked over her shoulder and held Jade's eyes, her own swimming. "Secrets that involve me."

Jade rose slowly from her seat on the stairs, not liking the sound of that. She turned Tori's body to face her and cupped her cheeks. "We don't have to talk about them if you don't want to."

Tori was swallowed by the blind acceptance and trust that shone in her lover's eyes, feeling her eyes fill more, if possible. "Jade, a psychopath just walked in here and pointed his gun at you because of me. I think we should." She halted Jade's protest before they even began. "It's not that it's painful, it's not. It's just that I haven't spoken about it. But I want you to know."

"Okay… okay Vega. I'm just saying that whether you tell me or not, it won't change anything." The Goth laid a soft kiss against her forehead. "I'll still love you, Tori."

Tori felt herself smile sadly. "I know." She took Jade's hand in hers and led her to the couch. They sat, curled up together watching morning gradually break through the gaps in her curtains. After building up enough courage, she sighed. "I was fourteen. My brother was on a date. Trina was sick with the flu and my parents were out at a fancy party. I can't remember whose. I didn't care really. I had the house to myself for one night. Well, apart from the staff." She smiled faintly at the comforting squeeze on her arm. "Anyway, I was psyched because I had a rebellious plan."

"What plan?"

"Well, as soon as my parents left, I was going to sneak into the music room and play with my grandfather's piano."

"That piano?" Jade pointed to the sleek black baby piano on the other end of the room.


Jade's brow arched. "Your idea of being rebellious is playing with a piano?"

Tori smiled knowing that the Goth was trying to lighten the dull mood. Fit a little bit of normal into their perilous morning. Part of her was grateful, telling it was hard enough. She swatted Jade's arm playfully. "I wasn't allowed, okay. So it was very rebellious. Do you want to know my family secrets or not?"

"Okay, fine, shutting up." They smiled weakly at each other.

"I was there with my blue book. You know the book I wrote all my songs in."

Jade nodded. "Mine is black."

"Shocker." The brunette nudged her.

The Goth chuckled, pulling her closer. "Shut up… Tell me your story."

Tori's smile fell a little as she put herself back at that night. "So there I was running my fingers over such perfection for the first time. I swear every key was tuned so perfectly I wanted to cry. Everything I played that night came to life. It was incredible... And I wasn't the only one that thought so." Tori caught the tear ran over her cheek. "He was there…"

"He who? Carl?"

Tori shook her head, sniffling. "No, my father. They came home early because my mother fell ill too. When I picked my head up and saw him standing by the door watching me, I jumped up so fast I almost tripped over the stool. I started babbling every half-assed excuse I could think of. Until he moved, then I fell silent waiting for him to yell at me." She took in a breath and released it. "It never came… He stood in front of me watching me for what seemed like an eternity. Then he said; show me, Victoria," she whispered.

"What?" Jade frowned.

"Exactly, that was my reaction too. He wanted me to play for him. For the first time in my life he listened to me perform. Before, he was always too busy with his own career and harnessing Trina's talent to give me the time of day…" She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat. "Until that night when his attention was all mine. It was the greatest moment of my life –or so I thought." Tori stared down at their interlaced fingers that rested on her lap. She couldn't recall when they did that. "After I played him everything I could, he told me he was proud of me." She chuckled bitterly, blinking back tears. "He said everything I wrote was great, that I just work on my voice because it was a bit immature. That maybe Trina could use these songs to show me how to improve..."

She felt Jade's body stiffened beside her. Tori continued, "He takes the blue book with him. Next thing I know, Trina breaks records as a debut performer at high class charity event. He even claimed she wrote everything herself."

"You're fucking kidding me!" Jade stared wide eyed at her lover. "I… Her debut album was amazing. I was young but I remember my mother saying that there was speculation that David wrote it himself. It was that good, so cultured. You did that?" she asked, quietly. "At fourteen?"

Tori nodded shyly, her lips drawing thin. "I always wanted to be as good as my father. I wanted to be good enough, you know. For him. Trina got all the attention. I was left to my own devices, so all I had was my music."

Jade felt her heart break at the helplessness that consumed the brunette. "And he took that away from you too!" She ripped away from the couch vibrating with fury. "And your sister let him do that!"

Tori's eyes were on her shaking hands. "She didn't know it was me. She thought he wrote them, trying to give her edge when she started her career. I was pretty angry and upset. He asked me if I didn't want to see my sister succeed… Of course I did. Then he said he was proud of me for helping her and that I must continue to help her in secret until it was my turn. "

"God, please tell me you didn't."

"I did… for a few years." Tori choked out a half-laugh, half-sob. "My father was finally looking at me. Actually, proud of me, you know… And I was absolutely miserable. Michael was furious at my father when he found out. So I stopped… until Michael died, that is."

"What happened?"

"The free rehabilitation center was Michael's life. His trust fund, everything my grandparents left him –everything he owned –was left to them. David threatened to cut everything, illegally if he had to. The center would have shut down within a year. Michael was their main contributor. I… I struck a deal with him," the brunette sputtered.

"Your songs for keeping the center alive?" the Goth inferred, softly .

Tori nodded. "But this time I got to pick and choose the songs I gave him. Some were too special to let go. But he got Carl to break into my place and took them, anyway. Remember the Coulson show Trina performed at?"

Jade's eyes softened. "Those were yours, weren't they?"

"Yep. We had it out right there and Trina found out. I told him I was done… I was dry, I couldn't write anymore which ended up being true." The brunette gave a wry smile. "A few months later, I moved down here."

Jade folded her arms over her chest, she was speechless. She didn't know what to think. God, she was unable to fathom how it was to live with such assholes for parents. It made her grateful for having the ones she had, even more if that was possible. "So everything you ever created, Trina performed and got the credit?"

Tori shook her head. "Well, not everything…"

"And your father is afraid that, what, you're going to tell everyone Trina never wrote her own songs?" The Goth glowered pacing the room, too agitated to remain still. "Isn't that a bit silly, considering that a lot of artists now days don't write their own songs?"

"That's not really what he's concerned about." She hedged, not meeting Jade's enquiring gaze. "How would you feel if people found out a fourteen year old kid wrote ten to fifteen hit singles for you now?"

"Well, I wouldn't be thrilled that I wasn't that good at fourteen, that's for sure," Jade snorted, then pursed her lips in serious thought. "Okay, but if I was keeping it a secret, overly embarrassed. It would come out badly, possibly a career killer."

Tori nodded, slowly. "Now, imagine how you'd feel if you were David Vega yourself…" She let hang in a murmur, carefully gauging Jade's reaction.

"Wha –" The Goth faltered, her arms gradually unfolding and falling to her side. "Oh my God. You can't mea –" Bluish eyes doubled in size, Tori's simple statement unleashing so many puzzle pieces. "Fuck no…" she whispered in awe, her breathing stopping altogether. "Not everything… Trina only got some of the songs." She felt her knees buckle and gently lowered herself to the coffee table, "His comeback album? After that major slump in his career… That was…"She cast look at the brunette, dazedly. "He took the best ones…" Tori's tears were running freely now. "He took the best one, didn't he?" She repeated, her hand clenched in a fist. "Silver moon? I'm waiting? Sleepless night? Pale comparison?" Jade thought of some titles off the top of her head, recognizing the faint artistic style. "You composed them?"

Tori bit her lip, nodding.

"Sweet Jesus…" The Goth blew out. "All at age fourteen!"

"Pale comparison, I was sixteen," the brunette corrected, softly.

"Oh yeah, that was the Down Under album, wasn't it." Jade nodded in consensus. "Holy mother of God, Tori! You were a prodigy!"

"Look who's talking." Tori scoffed, her cheeks pink, slightly embarrassed.

The Goth snorted, rolling her eyes. "Yeah if I'm a prodigy, you're a fucking God." She rested her hand on the brunette's knee sensing she was on breaking point. "Tori…"

Tori's bottom lip trembled as she tore her gaze away, the sympathy in Jade's eyes her undoing. "I know, Jade. I was stupid and young and I let him screw me over."

"Oh baby," Jade pulled Tori onto her lap, crushing her in her arms, when painful sobs ripped from the brunette's mouth. "Shshsh…You loved him and you just wanted him to love you back. That's not stupid." She nuzzled her face into brunette hair, just hanging on, riding out the storm together...

… … … …

Tori stared out blankly into the room, long after her sobs had passed, her tears had run dry. Jade still rubbing comforting circles on the small of her back. "It was stupid, Jade…" Jade hand stopped moving at the softly spoken words. "He'll never love me, I know that now." It wasn't said in self-pity, more like acceptance.

"His loss…" Jade rubbed her thumbs under the brunette's eyes, brushing away the remnant moisture. "My gain…" She pressed her lips against Tori's ever so gently. Then again.

Tori curled her arm around the Goth's neck drawing her deeper, just reestablishing their connection, feeling her vulnerability slip away. She didn't know what it was about being in Jade's arms that made her feel so safe… so loved. They broke the kiss, foreheads leaning intimately together. She realized, she didn't need anything or anyone else

"So why does he want you to come back now?" Jade asked as she moved them back onto the couch.

"He saw a video of us singing at the festival and thinks I'm writing again."

"Bastard!" she growled.

"Doesn't matter… He can do whatever the hell he wants. I'm not going." Tori said, tucking a loose strand of hair behind the Goth's ears. "I'm not leaving you."

Jade smiled, brushing her lips over Tori's forehead. "Good."

Oh yeah, I'm taxed out. Anyone want to write the next chapter for me? Yes? No… Fine I'll write it myself ;)

Damn after all that, I need to know what you guys are thinking. My mind is in a whirlwind.

What's gonna happen next?

I'd love your thoughts, C'mon don't be shy…