This story has been edited and rewritten. It also has a sequel now. Check it out at my profile.
Disclaimer: Victorious is the property of Nickelodeon, and is not my intellectual property. This is for entertainment purposes only.
"Well?" Tori asks earnestly when she finishes the scene. Cat, Andre and Sickowitz stare at her blankly. She's hopeful—this time she's sure she got it right.
Until they all burst into laughter.
"Aw man…" she whines.
Andre clutches at his stomach and Cat falls from her chair onto the floor in a fit of giggles. Tori crosses her arms and glares at Sickowitz who, despite of being a teacher and an adult, is laughing harder than anyone.
"Oh Tori… that was a nice try, definitely," he says, wiping a tear. "But it's going to take something way more risky than whatever you did to get this scene right."
"B-but I did the Gorilla Challenge! I got the banana!" Tori points a finger at herself, then throws her hands in the air in exasperation. "What else do I have to do?"
"Maybe you could try somethin' real, ya know? Outside of a club," Andre offers.
"What, you want me to jump out of a plane?"
A thoughtful expression crosses Sickowitz's face.
"I was kidding!" Tori replies, panicked.
"Look, Tori. What you need is to feel more emotional risk than physical. Being an actor is about putting your emotions on the table and playing with them. You need to experience that," Sickowitz explains wisely. "You need to feel more mature, take a real risk. Maybe do something your parents wouldn't approve of."
Tori worries her lip nervously. What is she supposed to do? She can't just get a tattoo or steal a car because of a stupid audition. Defeated, she makes her way to her seat and plops on it with a long whine.
Cat pouts and taps her head softly.
A short while later, Tori sits at their lunch table, munching half-heartedly on her pizza slice while everyone throws ideas at her.
"You could go to one of Northridge's parties; it doesn't get dirtier than that," Robbie says.
"I know another way to get down and dirty, sweet cheeks," Rex interrupts.
"Ew!" Tori says between a mouthful.
"You should go skinny dipping," Jade comments. "Oh no, not Sweet Tori me, I don't do those things!"
"For the last time, I don't talk like that!"
"One time, my brother threw my hamster in our neighbor's pool to see if it would float," Cat chirps. She frowns deeply at her salad. "But it was empty."
Now Tori is a little horrified.
"Mh!" Andre mumbles as he swallows a fry. "I know! You could try datin' a bad guy. Ya know, one of those guys with skinny jeans and leather jackets and a bad 'tude."
Tori ponders it for a moment. "No…" she whines. "I dated Ryder remember? He was a real ass."
"Or," Beck snaps calling everyone's attention, "maybe what you need is to date a bad girl."
Everyone is silent after that.
"What?" Jade spits.
"It's a new experience," Beck explains eagerly. " it would bring new feelings out of you and set you on edge, just what you need for your audition."
"You just want to see her macking on another girl," Jade sneer her voice dripping with jealousy.
"I don't see why you'd care," Beck replies coolly. Jade scoffs.
"I dunno, sounds like a good idea to me," Andre adds, his eyes glazing over slightly.
"But where will you find a bad girl?" Cat wonders aloud. "Oh I know! Sickowitz said bus stations are a good place to find them!"
"I don't think that's the kind of girl we're thinking of, Cat," Robbie explains gently.
"Oh." She twirls a red lock of hair with a pout.
"Now wait a minute!" Tori finally snaps, cutting them off. She puts her hands up, looking at them with wide eyes. "When did you become the one's deciding what I'm doing? Don't I have a say in this?"
Everyone looks at her, questioning. Tori stutters.
"What if- if I don't want to date a girl? Has anyone thought about that?"
"Do you?" Andre asks.
"No!" She answers, then realizes that could've sounded a little homophobic. "I mean, maybe I would. I don't know, I haven't thought about it."
"Is this a "what-will-they-say" kind of thing? Because this is an Art School in Los Angeles, there are more than 10 gay couples out in this school and no one even bats an eyelash." Everyone nods at Beck's statement.
"Yeah!" Robbie agrees. "Mike and Michael are really nice to me. They always recommend me new brands of Male Make-up."
"I know that, it's not-" Tori sighs, "do you guys really think that'll help me be more risky?"
There's a chorus of "yeah"s and "definitely"s, all but one person who keeps quietly staring at her black nails.
"Okay, fine. I'll think about it."
Tori thinks about it all night long.
Is she against the idea of dating a girl? No, not really. Her parents had raised her with an open mind and the certainty that love is love, no matter the gender, race or beliefs.
And this is L.A. She knows there're girls who would be interested in casually dating her; hell, she has been hit on by girls more than once. She always brushed it off good-naturedly because she wasn't interested in having a relationship, or was in one at the moment, but she thinks that yeah, maybe she could see herself going on a date with a girl, holding her hand and kissing her.
Damn, she's getting excited thinking about it; after all, it's been long since she's had any action at all.
But this is not about pleasure, this is about her audition. Does any girl meet the requirements? Bad attitude, her parents wouldn't approve, risky, attractive– because she's a teenager and she's a bit superficial, sue her– and of course: interested in girls.
She tosses and turns in bed. There has to be someone.
The thought strikes her during Mr. Gradstein's boring lecture.
Jade is sitting across from her, attentive and interested for once, but Tori guesses that it's only to be expected; scriptwritting is Jade's passion. She's hunched over her notebook, blue pen in hand, taking notes furiously, when a lock of raven hair escapes from behind her ear.
She pushes it back, annoyed, because it covers her notes and Tori follows the path of her pale hand as she winds it through her hair and brushes it over her other shoulder, exposing a large expanse of pale white skin and giving Tori a peek at that elusive tattoo on the back of her neck. She's never seen it properly; she doubts anyone apart from herself, the tattoo artist, and Beck has.
The emerald green streaks make a nice contrast against her black hair and are a good combination with her black dress. It has little purple and green details and Tori has to admit, it has to be one of her favorites.
Jade taps her fingers on the table, her black polished nails making a clicking sound that no one seems to notice. It makes Tori's teeth clench, for whatever reason. The gothic girl uncrosses and crosses her legs again under the table, and her black combat boots squeak against the floor.
So annoying, Tori thinks.
Yet she can't avert her eyes.
It's when Jade drops her pen and leans back, stretching her spine, that Tori realizes the class is over and she's been staring unabashedly at her for the most part of it.
Jade gathers her things and slips on her leather jacket, while Tori stays frozen in place. She walks past Tori on her way out and looks at her curiously.
"Close your mouth, Vega. Gaping-frog-waiting-for-flies is not a good look on you," she drawls. And without further ado, she drags herself out of the room.
Tori snaps her mouth shut with a loud click and forces herself to leave the room.
Aw man, she thinks.
It's been in front of her all this time.
Bad attitude, checked.
Her parents wouldn't approve, double checked.
Risky, well, Jade's probably deadly so triple checked.
Open to dating girls, unknown.
"Dang it all to hell!" Tori mutters to herself as she stomps her feet angrily.
She doesn't dare voice it until days after.
"Serioulsy?" Andre asks raising his eyebrow and crossing his arms. He looks somewhat pissed and Tori doesn't get why.
"What?" Tori asks.
"Remember when I told ya I thought I'd fallen in love with her and you got all up in my ass about how I was nuts?" Tori nods guiltily. "Pot. Kettle. Black."
"I know, okay, I know!" She whines. "But she had a boyfriend then and it wasn't nice to Beck, you know that."
"Oh, oh," he raises his hands theatrically. "So now that she's free it's okay. It ain't a sign of needin' a mental institution, right?"
Tori sighs, dropping her head back so it clangs against her locker. "No… it's totally still a sign of insanity."
Andre breathes out his last trace of resentment and drapes an arm around his best friend. "So why'd you 'think you have to date Jade'?" He quotes her.
"Remember what we were talking the other day at lunch?"
Andre frowns before his eyes widen comically as the puzzle pieces click. "The audition?"
Tori nods, her lip trapped between her teeth. Andre shakes his head like this is the worst idea she's ever heard.
"I've thought about it and you were right, it is a good idea. I'm open to it, like, for real. I want to… you know, discover things about myself. Mature."
"Okay, I get that," Andre says with a nod. "But, Jade? Can't you find yourself a cute, gay girl who's a bad influence but not, you know, evil incarnate?"
Tori rolls her eyes, "oh, come on, Jade's not that bad."
And she's not, hasn't been for a while. She's brash, sure, scary as hell, too, but both Tori and Andre have seen a much more human side to her, and they both know she can be sweet at times. Very few and far in between and in her own unique, Jade-like way, but sweet nevertheless. And when Jade West is sweet to you, well, it feels pretty damn good.
"She's difficult, she has a bad attitude, talking to her is a daily risk," Tori continues, "she's perfect for the role."
And even when she's being impossible, even when she's cold and cutting, snarky and plain mean, Jade's familiar. Better the devil you know and all that.
"So, lemme get this straight; you don't even like her?"
Tori shifts uncomfortably, her grip on her super-sized purse tightening as a blush covers her cheeks. It's not her fault that since her epiphany in Mr. Gradstein's class her dreams have been taking a wild turn to the unexplored world of Sapphic love and Jade's been the protagonist of them all. It's not like she can control them. She's always thought she was appreciative of the female form on a healthy level, but since the simple idea of Jade as a possible dating interest infected her mind, she's found herself watching more intently and purposely. So far, Tori's realized she's quite a fan of the femenine curves and of those, well, Jade has for days.
"Holy cheese on a cracker," Andre mutters.
As if on cue, Jade strolls past them, cutting the very tips of her hair with a pair of huge, shiny scissors. And Tori stares; she doesn't mean to but she can't really help it. She stares at the way her black corset hugs her upper half so snugly and with a deep blush, she stares at the way Jade's hips sway under her skirt.
When Jade notices them staring she stops and snaps the scissors a couple times.
"What?" She barks at them so hard, they both jump a foot into the air. Then she shakes her head, annoyed, and keeps on walking.
"Well, buddy," Andre pats her back, still a bit in shock, "good luck with that. You're gonna need it."
And Tori knows. Boy, does she know.
"Hi, Tori. How are you this fine d-aaaaaaah!" Beck yelps as Tori grabs his wrist and drags him into the janitor's closet. She closes the door and wrings her hands together nervously.
"I need to ask you something."
"Jeez, you could've asked." He rubs at his wrist with a pout. "Who knew you were so strong…" he mutters.
"Beck, this is important, you are the only person I could think of to ask this," Tori says seriously.
Beck nods. "Sure. Okay, what?"
"Has… has Jade ever mentioned… uhm, has Jade… do you think- what- what- uh…" she stops, takes a deep breath and plucks up her courage, "do you think Jade would ever be interested in dating a girl?"
Beck's eyes widen a little, but apart from that his reaction is mostly guarded. "Why… do you want to know?"
Tori worries her lip nervously. She knows this is so not fair of her to ask Beck, he's Jade's ex-boyfriend for God's sake! She doubts he wants to hear about her plans of dating his ex with the purpose of taking an emotional risk or about how she's confused whether or not that's the only reason she's considering it anymore.
"I… thought about what you said at lunch the other day-"
"But I didn't mean with Jade!" He cries, crossing his arms.
"I know, I know, but you have to admit she's the perfect choice if I want to get risky," Tori shrugs and Beck has to give her that at least.
They are both silent for a moment.
"You still love her," Tori affirms. She knew, of course she knew. She's just really realizing now.
Beck shrugs. "Well, she was my first and only girlfriend, it takes time to get over that." He brushes his hair back. "But she's free to do whatever she wants. And so are you. I have no say in it. I just… I don't like it. As weird as it sounds, because Jade can take care of herself well enough, I don't like you using her for your audition."
"No, this is not- I mean, yeah, okay it is." Tori admits. "But… it's more than that?"
"Are you asking me?"
"No, no." She shakes her head. "I'm- I- there's an attraction there," she answers carefully. More like curiosity, she reasons to herself; she's open to some experimentation. Kill two birds in one stone and all that. After all, it'd be absolutely, batshit crazy, to like someone so mean and unstable as Jade West. Right? Right.
Beck looks at the ceiling and takes a deep breath. "Okay." He lifts the side of his mouth in an attempt of a smile and reaches for the door.
"Wait! You never told me if she… you know." Tori gestures with her hands.
Beck shrugs one shoulder. "Jade's bisexual."
Tori's eyes widen comically. "She is? How do you know?"
"Well, for one, she has a crush on Amy Lee. And Lights, you know, the Canadian singer, ironically. And two," he pauses, and chuckles a little, "she told me."
"Okay, this is it," she tells herself, her gaze fixed on the horizon.
Tori's been going over and over again through ways to ask Jade this without being punched in the face but so far she's come up empty-handed. It's a good thing she knows she can totally pull off a black eye. Hey, maybe that will make her seem risky.
What is she even thinking? Jade is obviously going to say no. She hates her, hates her guts since the day she walked into Hollywood Arts, and Tori doesn't even know why. So maybe they've been getting along lately; Tori would even go as far as to say they are actually friends now, what with Jade showing up at her house whenever she needs help and other small hints that prove Jade is warming up to her, but this? This is definitely going to take their tentative friendship back to square one and Tori's not sure she's ready to recieve a cold coffee shower again.
A loud knock on the car window interrupts her. "Hey! What are you doing sitting there like a moron? You're going to make me late for class!" Trina yells.
She doesn't know how long she's been sitting in her sister's car since she parked it, but she knows Trina's right, she's going to make them late. She takes three consecutive deep breaths, like she's about to go on stage to perform, and steps out of the car.
She's staring at the creepy, scissor-filled, locker door of the girl.
"What?" The girl in question answers without taking her head out of the locker where she seems to be rearranging her books.
"I need to talk to you for a minute."
Tori rolls her eyes despite of her nervousness.
"Ugh." Jade shuts the locker door hard with a clang and she juts her hips out, looking bored. "Fine, but make it quick."
Tori grasps her wrist before thinking it twice and drags her into the janitor's room without much complaint on the other girl's part.
She closes the door and drops her purse, playing her next words in her mind under the impatient stare of her companion, who just crosses her arms, purses her lips and taps her boot-clad foot on the floor. No coffee cups in either hand, Tori notices. Good sign.
"Well?" Jade finally drawls.
"Uuh… remember the other day at the lunch table, when everyone was giving me ideas to be more risky for my audition?"
"Yeah?" Jade raises a pierced eye-brown questioningly.
"Well, Beck's idea kinda stuck."
"Stuck," Jade repeats.
"Yeah… it made me think. A lot. And well it- it is a good idea, but, uhm…"
Jade lets out a guffaw. "Little ol' Tori is confused?" She asks mockingly.
"I'm not confused," she snaps crossing her arms defensively.
"So what's your problem, Vega?" Jade asks giving one step closer.
"I don't have a problem. I decided to do it. Date a girl. A bad girl."
Jade shrugs. "Whatever, good for you. Can I go now?" But she's already reaching for the door when she asks.
Tori side-steps her, blocking her path.
"Ugh, what now?"
"You see, Jade," Tori says carefully. Thus far this conversation hasn't gone at all how she expected, so she's going to have to come clean completely. "I was thinking of a girl that has a bad attitude, that my parents wouldn't accept, that could get me in trouble, that would keep me on edge…" Jade's eyes widen almost imperceptibly. Tori notices how green they look under this yellowish light. "And well, you- you came to mind, once or twice."
And then the strangest thing happens.
Jade grins. A wide, cheshire-cat like grin.
Tori's nape hairs rise on end.
"You want to date me," she states, her eyes twinkling like Tori just gave her an early Christmas present. "Oh, this is precious. Perfect, can-do-no-wrong, Tori Vega, wants something from me."
Tori doesn't answer, deciding to bite her tongue instead. Snapping at Jade won't be beneficial for her cause. Jade keeps flashing that smug, self-satisfied smile and Tori can feel the rush of blood flooding her face; she's never been so embarrassed in her whole life.
Jade rounds on her like a predator and Tori just wants the earth to swallow her whole. Jade's so close that Tori can smell her perfume, and she feels faint. The smirking girl stops in front of her, her body just a few inches away. This is definitely not the first time they have invaded each other's personal space. It is the first time, though, that Jade notices how it affects her.
"God, I knew you had some kind of weird fixation with me, but…"
"That's not- I don't-" Tori starts to argue.
"What makes you think I'd date you?" Jade cuts her off.
Tori shrugs weakly. "I don't know… I'm nice?"
"Yeah, and I'm not."
"Uh… well, I look a bit like Lights."
Jade recoils like she's been burned. "How-"
"Beck told me. Don't be mad at him," she pleads.
Jade purses her lips and Tori's eyes glance at it. She knows Jade's mad because for a fleeting second, Tori has the upper hand; she's been privy to something about Jade without her consent. Tori can see the cogs turning behind her eyes, can see her jaw clenching and her eyes narrowing. Now she's sure she's gonna say no. Or punch her. Or both.
But then her face relaxes and says: "Fine."
"That's what I said, didn't I?"
"B-but what do you mean 'fine'?"
"What do you think I mean, Vega?"
"I- I-" Jade cuts her off as she grabs the front of her shirt, getting so dangerously close, Tori thinks she's going to pass out.
"You," she breathes, "can't handle me." Tori is at a loss. Her neurons are completely fried. "So this might be fun."
She cocks her pierced eyebrow, and before Tori has time to prepare herself to what's happening, Jade's lips are on hers for just a moment of scorching, hard pressure.
Dazed, she watches as Jade pulls back with a smirk, licks the corner of her upper lip and leaves the room without another word, looking smug as ever.
It takes Tori five more minutes to remember how to walk.