AN: Hey guys. So, I'm back. This story has been mulling in my head for a few weeks so I'm trying to bust it out as fast as I can but I'm not completely sure where it's going just yet. It's a process though so I hope ya'll like it and let me know what you think. Thanks.
Disclaimer: I do not own VicTORious (or Glee) or the characters, just this story that is slowly spilling onto the page, or screen.
Chpt 1 Jade's POV
Urgh, I can't believe I let her talk me into this. So fuckin' stupid… 207, where the hell is 20- oh, there it is. I glanced at the door skeptically, noting the triangular "safe zone" sign posted under the room number. Taking a shaky breath, I peeked into the slit of a window and noticed a few people are already there, clearly looking bored. With another steadying breath, I replaced my "nervous, worrying my lip between my teeth" look with my signature bitch scowl, and pushed through the door. Without making eye contact, I trudged behind a blonde girl with a pink highlight and took one of the many open seats closer to the back of the room. Like most stereotypical support groups, this one is set up with chairs in a circle but with a large rectangular table in the middle. Grey, green eyes chanced a glance up and noticed four other girls all sitting and trying to look busy. Another few minutes pass and two more girls joined the group. It's awkwardly silent so I pulled out my phone and check my Facebook. No notifications, not surprising. Finally, an older Asian woman pops her head in the room and then joins the circle.
"Hello, all," the Asian woman greets the group, only to get a few grunts in response. She glances at her watch and sighs. "Well, let's get started then since we're already a few minutes late. I don't anticipate anyone else joining us." For an ethnic woman, she spoke English like a natural-born citizen. "I am Lynn Wang, but you all can just call me Lynn. I recognize a few of you but for those who don't know, I am a counselor here at Berkley. I am originally from Korea but have lived here since grade school and have a husband who is a Psychiatrist at an office downtown. Why don't we start here at my right and go around introducing ourselves. Just say your name, your grade and major if you have one, where you're from, and a little something about yourself."
Slim fingers slipped my phone back in my front pocket and I looked up at the next girl to introduce herself.
It was the blonde I had passed earlier, now two people away from me. "Yeah, okay, whatever. I'm Quinn. I'm originally from Cincinnatti, Ohio. I'm a Junior Integrative Physiology and Sociology double major. Something about me? I dunno… I was head cheerleader in high school and ran the Celibacy club."
A few people snorted at the weird combination of interests but hid their smiles behind their hands when Quinn shot them icy glares. "Thank you, Quinn, it is nice having you with us. Next?" Lynn inquired.
"Hey, I'm Jordan," a shorter brunette with coffee-colored skin said, seated next to me. "I'm a freshman and undeclared but plan to go into International Studies and go into Law eventually. I'm from Denver, Colorado and am adopted."
I waited a few seconds before finally speaking but kept my gaze focused on my hands in my lap. This was the last place I wanted to be. "I'm Jade, I'm a Theater and Music double major and a Sophomore. I'm originally from Canada but I've lived in California since I was nine," I mumbled quietly.
"Very nice, Jade, and something interesting about you?"
"Oh, um… I'm an only child." It wasn't true, really, but might as well be.
"Thank you, Jade." They continued around with the other five people before the last girl introduced herself.
A small voice coughed awkwardly before speaking. "I'm Catarina, but everyone calls me Cat or C. I'm a sophomore in the Music and Dance department and am from San Francisco. I have an older brother who can't go a month without ending up in the hospital for some reason."
My eyes snapped up when I heard the familiar voice. It was the only time I had looked anyone in the eye, really, since I got to Berkley 15 months before. What surprised me the most, though, was how much Cat had visibly changed since graduation. Gone was the vibrant, red velvet hair. She now wore her long locks in its natural, deep brunette color and soft ringlets. The extremely short shorts that use to show off her toned, dancer legs and colorful tops were replaced with loose, dark jeans and a navy v-neck t-shirt, even in the late summer California heat. But more than the visible differences were her eyes. Cat only met my emerald eyes for a few seconds while she was talking, having also recognized me as a high school friend, but in the short time, I realized that there was no sweet innocence in those dark orbs. The child-like light that use to shine through and make her eyes seem like milk chocolate was missing, and replaced with something much duller. I couldn't figure out what it was, but this tiny girl across the circle from me was not in any way the same girl I knew a year and a half ago.
Lynn explained the way the support group was going to work for the rest of the year and how the space and time was a safe zone, so anything shared there was kept completely private unless it was information pertaining to harming someone else or themselves. Everyone nodded their heads in agreement to the confidentiality and were then excused early, being that it was just the first day, and told to meet back in the same room on Saturday at 2:00pm.
I grumbled, having forgotten that the group met twice a week, but sighed when my phone vibrated with a text message from Mom.
You went to the meeting, right, Jadelyn?
Yes mom. We just got out. I said I'd go so I'm going, but I never promised to get anything out of this.
That's fine, as long as you go. If I find out otherwise, you know the consequences.
I sighed again but didn't reply. I hated being reminded of how I was conned into going to this stupid abuse group. If I didn't go, my mom would pull funding for school and I would be forced to drop out. Being that my only passions were through school, there was no way in hell I was letting Mom take that away from me. So if that meant having to sit through an hour and a half of awkward group meetings twice a week, so be it.
I was so caught up in inner monologue that I didn't notice Quinn coming up beside me as we walked out the double doors. "Hey," the blonde said.
"Mhmm," I replied, not sparing the older girl a glance.
Quinn chuckled at the my apparent indifference. "So, Jade, huh? That your real name?"
Steely eyes shot the blonde a glance, "No, but no one is allowed to call me by my given name, not even my mother. Though she doesn't seem to understand that." The last part I said more under my breath.
"That's cool, whatever. Quinn isn't mine either, it's my middle name, but I dropped my first when I revamped my life before high school. So, Jade, I have an hour before practice, do you want to grab lunch in the fish bowl," she asked, referring to the main eatery on campus near the Student Union.
The brunette was quick to object. "Yeah, no. I've got better things to do with my time, thanks," I snapped with sarcasm dripping from my voice.
"Yeah, I can tell you are crazy busy with how aimlessly you have been walking in a circle around the Quad this whole time," Quinn answered with the same snarkiness, catching my blush. "C'mon, I was nice enough to ask last time but this time you don't get that pleasantry." With that, the taller girl grabbed my arm and dragged me in the direction of the fish bowl.
Both of us stood in line for several minutes before reaching the front. Quinn grabbed a Chicken Caesar wrap and I decided on just a salad, after noticing how tiny my blonde counter part was and feeling self-conscious. I am in no way over weight or anything, but Quinn certainly had the body of a cheerleader and, never having been into team sports, I felt a little out of my element. We paid with a meal swipe and sat at the end of a table near the windows over looking the soccer fields.
I was the first to break the relatively comfortable silence, still forking my salad, "So, um, what sport do you play?"
Quinn raised an eyebrow at me, "And how do you know I play anything?"
"Oh, uh, you said you had practice later so… I just assumed…" What the hell was that? I never stutter. What the fuck is wrong with me?
Pink lips curled up into a smirk, "Ah, so you were listening. Good to know I'm worth listening to. And I play for the Lacrosse team, I'm actually captain this year."
"Hmm, didn't peg you as a serious sports player, not that you don't look it. You definitely have the body. Just saw you more on the dance team or cheerleading still… Wait, isn't lacrosse not until like the spring or something?"
"For someone who is into the arts, you sure seem to know a lot about team sports. And yeah, I get that a lot. I grew to hate cheerleading and only dance for fun. I use to play lacrosse on a club team so I got recruited to play here. And yes, it is in spring but we have training and conditioning the first 4 months of school and then indoor during winter."
"Explains why you're such a twig," I said, finally cracking a small smile. "And I am trying not to take offence to the "arts" comment. I'm full of surprises."
We continued to banter back and forth for the remaining hour and surprisingly got along really well. It was the first time since I got to Berkley that I felt a real connection to someone. Our personalities were similar in that both of us were sarcastic and had "head bitch" attitudes, but for some reason, that seemed to work in our favor. When Quinn got up to head out to practice, we traded numbers and decided to hang out Friday night after classes and catch a movie or party or something.
I waved off my athletic friend and turned to head back to my dorm. I lived in the Upperclassmen suite-styled dorms that lined the east side of campus and were, unfortunately, the farthest away from the Theater buildings. On my twenty-minute walk across campus, I spotted the used-to-be redhead sitting on the ledge of a fountain in the middle of a grassy park. Against my better judgment, something drew me to the girl and made my feet carry me right up next to the petite frame.
Dark eyes looked up when I approached, and caused me to pause my motions when I noticed the completely vacant expression on the smaller girl's face. Being the amazing actress she is and always has been, Cat quickly flashed me a small smile but her eyes were still void of emotion.
"Hello, Jade," she stated quietly, looking back into the fountain.
I sat down on the ledge, a few feet away from my old friend. "Hey, Cat. Um, so how are you?"
Cat giggled at my awkwardness, but it wasn't the light bubbles I remembered from high school. "Well, I'm doing as well as you can be when your forced into going to an abuse support group, I guess," she said, shrugging her shoulders.
"Yeah, I get that, it definitely was not my choice to go to that thing," I retorted with a grumble.
We sat in an uncomfortable silence again while I searched my brain for anything else to say to the girl I use to not be able to shut up for more than five minutes. But, as I kept reminding myself, this was not Cat Valentine, annoyingly hyper and somewhat bipolar girl who ate sweets like they were her lifeline. This was someone completely different, and for whatever reason, I wanted to get to know the girl again.
"I never knew where you ended up going to school," Cat stated quietly.
I hummed in response. "I didn't tell many people where I was going, not even Beck."
Surprised, the dancer raised her head, "Why? He was like the only person who you ever talked to without being a bitch."
I had to smile at that one. "I was still a bitch to him, too. But I didn't want anyone from my past following me. I needed a clean break from high school so I could start over. I figured, even if we all stayed in California, the likelihood of ever seeing someone again was slim considering the large populations."
"Sorry for ruining your clean break," Cat replied, ducking her head in shame.
I frowned at her defeated tone of voice. It was like the girl truly was disappointed in herself for, unknowingly, messing up something I had tried to do. Like, somehow, this was her fault.
"It's not like you stalked me and went to that group for no reason. Not your fault the universe just had to fuck with our lives enough to bring us back together again."
"Do you really think it was fate we both went to Berkley and the same abuse group?"
I thought over that for a few minutes before answering, not really one to believe in destiny but I couldn't deny the unreal-ness of this situation. "Yeah, I do. I don't have any idea why, but I think things happen for a reason and we don't learn what that reason is until after we let things pan out the way they should." I nodded my head to help solidify my point.
Cat pursed her lips together and nodded slightly, looking back into the water. We let the sound of the fountain envelope our silence for a few minutes before I stood back up.
"Well, it has been… um, interesting seeing you again, Cat. I have to be honest, I almost feel like you have a twin, 'cause this is not the Cat I knew at Hollywood Arts, but I'd like to get to know this side of you, if you want that is," I said, a tint of a bashful blush coating my cheeks.
Pulling out her phone, Cat handed it to me. "Add your number again, I'll text or call you sometime and we can get coffee or something, assuming you still have a caffeine obsession." A shadow of a smile flashed across her lips.
I saved my number and smiled, "I do, sadly. Maybe Saturday before group, I have plans with a friend this week and a script due Friday so I'm kinda busy 'til the weekend."
"Sure, I'll text you later and we'll figure it out. Have a good evening, Jade," Cat said, waving me off, and practically pushing me to leave.
With a frown, I waved goodbye and finished my walk to my dorm. I dropped my backpack on the ground by my bed, flipped on my iPod dock and fell face-first onto the bed. It was days like these that I was grateful to not have a roommate (my roommate from my freshman year had made sure everyone knew how difficult it was to share a room with a cold-hearted bitch so I was left single this year). With another sigh and images of the "new Cat" flashing through my mind, I let myself slip into a light nap.
Groaning, I rolled over and angrily wiped the sleep from my eyes as my phone vibrated in the pocket I had been sleeping on. It only pulsed twice, signaling a message and I was tempted to just ignore whoever it was and give in to dream world again when the caller ID caught my eye. I held the phone above my head and squinted into the light, trying to make out the text. Someone's cocky, I never should have let her name herself in my phone…
Hey there, Beautiful. How was your afternoon? –Q
Hey yourself. It was okay, ran into someone from my past who is also in group with us but we didn't talk much. Otherwise I was napping until my phone so rudely interrupted. –J
Really? Who did you know in group? Sorry bout waking you up, I just got done with training and lifting so I thought I'd see what you were up to. –Q
Yeah um idk if you remember a girl named Cat but she was the last to introduce herself. We went to high school together in Hollywood. Damn, that's a long ass practice, I am not envious of you. Tho I imagine you love it or you wouldn't keep doing it. –J
Plus you prolly look hot all sweaty and glistening. –J
Shit, what the fuck? Why did I just send that to her? God, really? I know I'm a flirt but never with people I hardly know, and NEVER with another girl. I must be more tired than I thought, jeez.
Ah, someone imagining me in tiny clothes and wet? ;) But yes I member her, real quiet? Brother's accident prone? –Q
Yeah that's her. And no, I was not picturing that, but thanks for putting those images in my head! –J
Not a problem, babe. ;) But hey, I'm guna go shower (yes, get naked and more wet =b) so I'll text you tomorrow okay? –Q
Yeah, have a good one Q. –J
I had to take a deep breath to control my erratic breathing and calm the intense heat that had risen to my cheeks. I don't know what it is, but this girl is going to kill me. With that thought, I pushed myself off the bed and into the bathroom to get ready for bed and then turned in for the night, dreaming of the Cat I once knew and the blonde who kept making me blush and feel weird.