Beck Oliver likes Jade West. He likes her brown hair and clear eyes and pale, pale skin and snip-snap attitude. He likes her black clothes and the way she snorts while they're alone laughing, laughing in the RV. He likes the soft way she speaks when it's early in the morning, he likes it when she relaxes against his body and they sit there. He likes it when they kiss and she makes a noise in the back of her throat that makes them clutch each other tighter, closer, harder.
He doesn't like it when she continues to do this after they break up.
It's not exactly late (only 1:30 AM) when she first shows up, breezing through as if she owned the place, as if she'd been over almost everyday after school and all weekends and all throughout May. But he's lying on his bed, staring at the spider crawling across the ceiling and suddenly she's there, head against his shoulder, hands tracing his arms, her hair splayed across his chest.
It's been three days since they "took a break".
He shifts a little to look down at her. She stares back at him, defiance and fear shining in her sad eyes. Her hands make small fistfuls of his shirt, and she nestles deeper into him.
She sleeps for six hours. He sleeps for two.
Beck doesn't know what to think of it. Eventually he convinces himself that it's jitters, they've been together for so long breaking up was removing a large part of normality in their lives. And during their senior year at Hollywood Arts, where everyone suddenly realizes that the word future is now a consequence. Where students take coffee in gallons and dead eyes, everywhere. Tired eyes and tired minds and the realization that the familiarity they need so desperately has to be removed in order to make their bright, glittery futures. Their group has gone through ups and downs. Tori's smiles have become wider, desperate, nervously grinding her bottom lip, her anxiousness keeping her up, singing quietly to herself until she stops crying. Andre receives early entry into a fancy music school with a full ride scholarship. Robbie, who had received the highest SAT score out of the their group, is set on going to a small, private school with an ambition to become a movie director. Jade is looking at far away colleges, in New York or Tennessee.
Cat Valentine is surprisingly serious about college applications. She signs up for a number of school clubs, alongside AP classes that the group hadn't expected out of her. Beck finds himself sharing a multiple classes with her.
In spite of the college frenzy, few things have changed between them. Besides Tori's multiple nervous breakdowns or panic attacks and Robbie and Andre bragging about their successes or achievements and Jade's manic determination, he feels numb. Numb to a lot of things. They still laugh sometimes, at Cat's silly jokes or Andre's clever ditties or Jade's hand gestures to Rex the puppet. They're still the same. Except for the part about Jade and Beck.
Anyway. The first time Jade had come over was three days after their official break up.
She comes over to his RV every other night since then .
He doesn't feel comfortable with this, with her body pressing up against his when walking to classes or when she's snuggling up to him or with the looks she gives him. They were not together. That meant no physical contact.
He's lounging in his desk chair when Jade bursts in.
"You're late," he jokes feebly. She fixes him with a dark look, and he finds himself up against the faded woodwork of his RV, looking down at her steady gaze.
She kisses him.
It's the first kiss they've shared since the break up. The previous visits had usually been low key snuggling or short naps, but this. This was.
Her mouth leaves his, trailing kisses down his jawline, sucking at his neck, her hands fingering the edges of his shirt, slipping underneath and touching the warm skin.
The feel of her cold fingers against his bare skin jolts him.
"Jade, no." he manages to stutter out, trying to ignore the way her mouth was now latched onto his neck. "Jade."
When she doesn't respond, he wrenches himself out of her grasp. "Jade. No."
She closes her eyes, and when she opens them, pure fury is visible.
"I thought you wanted this," she says mockingly. "Every time I've come over you didn't kick me out, did you?"
"You were lonely, I understand that. I would never kick you out, but just because I don't doesn't mean that I'm still interested in you, Jade!" Beck yells, frustration and confusion building up.
She stares at him, and he finds himself pushed against the wall once more, her tongue fighting furiously against his. This time she is unbuttoning his shirt, running her hands against his stomach and his back, and he knows, knows this is wrong.
"Jade," he says hoarsely. "Jade."
She doesn't reply, instead reaching for his jeans zipper. He pins her hands. "Jade."
She doesn't do anything for a second, just stares at him. Suddenly, she wrenches her hands out of his grasp and strides out of the RV, not before turning around and flipping him off.
He's sitting at their usual lunch table, waiting for Tori and Andre and Robbie and Cat and maybe Jade. He's poking half heartedly at his pizza when Cat plops down next to him, tray laden with Chinese takeout.
"Becky." She intones mock seriously. She pokes at his arm. "You look sad."
He looks up from his cold pizza to Cat. Things had changed since freshman year, when she was the hyperactive bouncy giggly girl, half in and out of daydreams and sunshine and fairies. Not saying she was a sudden serious, serious stressed senior, she still made jokes and bounced around and giggled, but she had an air of a person that appeared grounded, realizing that the world was more important than daydreams. Determination and pressure created a darker, deeper color in her eyes, serious and set apart from the bubbly personality she so loved.
"Not doing well, Caterrific." He sighs and looks at her dark, concerned eyes.
"Ah." she breathes out. "Jade?" she whispers, leaning closer to him.
"She refuses to believe the fact that we're broken up. Have you heard about our RV escapades?"
Cat nods sympathetically. "Everyone thought you guys were doing that friends with benefits thing. Like that movie with Mila Kunis and Justin Timberlake and it was very educational."
He stares at her. Educational? "Okay. Well, I...she always looked really sad when she came over so I let her stay. But then she came in a couple days ago and started...Look, we would usually just hang out, read a book or take a nap but this time...she..."
He looks up at Cat. She's still looking at him, a smile frozen on her face, eyes unreadable. "She what?" she whispers, twirling a strand of red hair, shifting her eyes.
"It was like we had never broke up," Beck words carefully, looking at the sudden change in her face. She's not looking at him, but staring at her food with a weird, hard expression set in her jaw. Suddenly, she looks up to meet his eyes, clutching his arm.
"You can do anything." she says quickly, quietly. "You're a great actor and a singer and you have a lot of things going for you that set you apart from her."
He feels her fingers clutching at his jacket, and he thinks back to Jade's desperate fingers clinging to his shirt, hot breath on his neck.
He shakes his head, laughs a little. "Cat. You're so good, don't you know that? Better than me." Beck quirks up an eyebrow. The weird, hard expression disappears and she smiles. Her fingers don't loosen on his jacket, though. As if noticing this, she suddenly drops her hand and smooths out her skirt, clearing her throat.
"Becky, when we go to our different places..."
"Yeah?" The sun is shining on her hair, strands shining bright.
"I..." she shakes her head. "Just don't forget me. Our group."
He looks at her downturned figure, the almost frown on her face.
She doesn't move, fingers fiddling with her skirt hem.
"Hey." he lays a hand on her shoulder. She looks up then, into his serious face ."I mean it. When we're rich and famous and amazing, we'll invite each other to stupid banquets and get stupid drunk."
She looks down again, smiling. "Okay."
Jade comes by the following night. She slams his door hard, grabs him by his shirt, and there he is, up against the wall, once again.
She starts on his neck first, sucking and swirling until his brain turns to mush and he must have let out a noise (protest or pleasure, who knows?) because they're on his bed, and he feels the familiar buzz creep up his back.
He closes his eyes and remembers shiny hair in the sun, red red red red red.
He opens his eyes. Jade is hovering above him, peeling off her leather jacket.
He shuts his eyes again. Giggles and fairies and red red red red red red, promises and stupid banquets.