A/N: Hey! Sorry it's been a while, but inspiration's a bitch (as is proofreading... so I'll apologise now for any mistakes) and I couldn't find a song to go with this one, so I skipped that bit altogether. But the title was inspired by Angels and Airwaves, so there's that... and, I guess the song is a little suitable... Anyway, I'm back with another chapter! Enjoy! Oh, and, I'm a couple of days late, but Happy New Year ;)
(As per usual, flashbacks are in italics)
Waking up on my own was something I had become accustom to: the short moment where your hanging on the very edge of sleep, not quite conscious to the real world and everything that has happened, possibly still partly in a dream, until reality comes crashing back down around you and all you feel is the bitter disappointment and sadness that is now the beginning of your every day.
Hell, I'd even gotten used to waking up on my couch, or, more commonly, rolling off the couch and waking up from the impact of hitting the floor.
Thankfully, that didn't happen today. Instead, I stretched out with a satisfied groan as my back clicked, waiting for the sleepy haze to clear from my mind as I registered something I definitely wasn't used to anymore- the clink of cutlery against china, some angry grumbling, the click of my stove being turned off and the mouth watering smell of pancakes drifting over from my kitchen.
I tried to push myself up into a sitting position, to see over the top of the couch, but as I did, a figure made their way around to stand right in front of me, their arm thrust out offering me a plate staked high with the syrup smothered food.
"Merry Christmas." Jade murmured, far from merry herself, as she dropped to sit on my coffee table with her own pile of pancakes.
I blink up at her for a moment, registering the scowl and slight red around the eyes as they looked down, anywhere but at me, before accepting the plate. "Thanks." I said in a voice still croaky from sleep. "Uh, Merry Christmas to you too."
She nodded once before we both began to eat in silence. I couldn't help but glance up at Jade every so often, she looked so vulnerable; her posture slumped and shrunk, like she was trying to hold herself together, the clothes she still had on from the night before were wrinkled and creased from sleep, her hair tangled and falling over her shoulders in messy ringlets. There was a smudge of flour falling across her nose to her right cheek, looking as it if it had been hastily wiped at, but unsuccessfully removed. My gaze travelled up further until it was met with a lost stare, the shining blend of bluey green that were Jade West's eyes seem dull as they looked deep into the chocolate brown of my own, her fork poised in front of her mouth, frozen in place with the bit of pancake dripping sugary sauce onto her plate going unnoticed.
We held this for a while, barely a breath passing between us, until I subconsciously lent forward and smoothed my thumb softly over the flour a couple of times, finally getting rid of it. Jade shuddered ever so slightly, leaning into the touch with her eyes falling closed and a heavy, trembling sigh escaping her lips. My hand remained, cupping her cheek as I watched her chest heave, a sign she was desperately trying to hold back the tears that would soon win. I gently picked her plate and fork from her clutch, placing them with my own on one for the couch cushions as I moved to sit beside her on the table. She immediately fell into my embrace, hunching over and letting a whimper rip from her chest. I circled my arms around her, holding her tight, keeping her a close as it was humanly possible as every sob rattled her body. I couldn't stand to see her so broken, but I knew I could do nothing more than hold her, waiting for the pain to ease. Right now, nothing mattered but Jade.
Ten minutes went by, the sobs turned dry, all the tears spilled and gone. Jade's arms had found their way around my waist, holding me just as tight as I was holding her, her head resting on my now tear soaked shoulder. My cheek was pressed to her forehead, allowing me to occasionally turn to place a small kiss to her crown, murmuring sweet nothings to try to calm her as my hand gently rubbed up and down her back. It wasn't long before she let out a small, choked cough and pushed herself away from me, standing up to take the long forgotten pancakes over to the kitchen and chuck them in the trash with the unspoken understanding that neither of us were very hungry any more. She busied herself with washing the plates, but her grip was lax and soon a plate slipped from her grasp, smashing against the sink, cutting a long slice into her finger.
"Sorry." Jade growled with a hint of anger, I couldn't tell if she really meant the apology. She took her hand out of the water and watch as the blood tricked from the wound in fascination.
"S'alright." I said, standing up myself. It was the first time I got to look around the apartment since the previous night and the small amount of damage that had been was still scattered around, untouched. "I'm going to need some new plates anyway."
Jade nodded slowly, her eyes still fixed on watching the blood flow, before she turned and walked over to my bathroom, where a keep all of my first aid stuff. I heard her as she rummaged around in the cabinet before she came back with three pink, Hello Kitty band aids wrapped around her finger.
"It's all I could find in your poor excuse for a medical kit, Vega." She said, her nose wrinkled in disgust and almost sounding like her usual self.
I shrugged, smiling awkwardly. "Cat cut her knee when she was staying over and, uh, she chose them."
Jade tensed, obviously remembering as clearly as I the final day of Cat's stay. I hadn't heard a thing from the girl since she left me the note and that's not from a lack of trying. I called her cell at least three times a day, every day after she left, in hope she would let me try to explain. Not that I really knew how to explain the situation in a way that would make any of it sound good. After two weeks of unanswered phone calls and hearing the same cheery voice mail message over and over, I gave up, knowing it was a lost cause. Cat was never good at holding a grudge, so if it went on this long, you know you've done something really bad.
"Have- have you spoken to her since… you know?" I asked cautiously, biting my lip.
Jade shook her head. "No. She confronted me when she caught me, um, sneaking out the next morning and told me I needed to sort myself out, but I haven't seen her…"
I murmured a noise of agreement as Jade trailed off. We fell into silence after that, both non verbally agreeing that the mess on the floor needed clearing up; Jade still had her boots on, but I was bare foot, unwilling to move around the place in fear of getting impaled by broken china. We picked up the biggest pieces first, piling them on the counter top before dropping to our hands and knees again, searching for more. I leant forward to pick up one half of a broken plate, just as Jade reached over for the other and we met in the middle, the top of my head knocking into the underside of her jaw as I went to move away.
"Sorry." I mumbled softly, drawing back a little to meet Jade's eye.
We held another, silent, intense stare, the air feeling thick and heavy around us as this time I subconsciously moved forward to press my lips to her own. It was gentle, a moment long with no movement, and I could feel every ounce of guilt and hesitation behind it before Jade tore herself away, dropping her half of the broken plate we were still clutching in our hands, cracking it straight down the middle.
"We- we can't" She breathed, unable to look me in the eye again. "We can't"
"Why not?" I selfishly blurted, unthinking. "Jade, please! I want to help! I want to make you feel better-"
"This isn't the way, Tori!" She jumped to her feet, glaring down at me and breathing out a deep sigh. "Why is it, whenever you try to help, everything always comes out even more damaged than it did before?"
I barely had time to gape at her, stuttering over an angry, nonexistent reply, before she stormed off and was out the door, leaving me alone in my apartment like many, many times before. My piece of plate fell from my fingers, clattering to the ground beside its companion when I got up and stomped off to my bedroom, ignoring everything and collapsing on the bed, in hope of some proper sleep.
Beck and Jade were having another one for their arguments in the middle of school. I didn't know what it was about this time, but I was sure I'd find out later as she paced in front of me in my bedroom, spiting out an angry rant that got her worked up until she couldn't take it any more and I found myself pinned to the bed with a mark that was sure to bruise staining my shoulder…
"I'm sure Beck's going to need to wear a blindfold to school." Andre commented as he walked towards me, startling me before my thoughts ended up in dangerous territories.
"Huh?" I replied dumbly, still watching the two bicker from across the hall.
Andre leaned back against the lockers, fighting off a knowing smirk as he sipping from his coffee cup. "Apparently he was looking at another girl for 'far too long, like he wanted to get in her pants'" He said, waggling his fingers in air quotations.
I only nodded in reply as Jade slammed her locker shut and stormed down the hall, sparing me a short, seething look as she passed, one that made me shudder in a mix of fear and anticipation. I watched her until she disappeared around the corner, only turning back at the amused chuckle coming from the boy beside me.
"Man, you've got it bad." He commented, his eyes twinkling in mirth. "I swear, you're worse than me when I was crushing."
"Ooo! Who's crushing on who!?" The snappy reply I was about to make ("Shut up, Andre") was interrupted by a cheery voice as Cat skipped over, Robbie trailing slightly behind with Rex on his arm. Cat was bouncing on the balls of her feet, her eyes darting between Andre and I, excitedly awaiting this piece of gossip that was meant to go unheard by her ears, or anyone's ears for that matter.
"Vega's got a crush!" Andre smirked, purposely using my last name. She was the only one who ever did that and I smacked him on the arm, shooting daggers as he sniggered.
"Tori!" Cat squealed in delight. "Why didn't you say!? Who is he? Does he like you back? I'm sure he does, you are very pretty-"
"It's no one, Cat." I cut her rambles off, slightly annoyed by the use of pronouns, not that Cat would know. "It- it's nothing really. Just a silly school girl crush…"
"Far more than that" Andre muttered over a fake cough, which thankfully went unnoticed by the little red head.
Another thing I was thankful for was Cat's short attention span, which quickly lead the conversation into safer grounds, something about Robbie's little sister and a fight the two siblings had over a pair of jeans they both insisted were theirs. As Robbie tried to make us understand his side of the story and Rex made his usual insulting comments, I watched Beck now appear from where he'd been to his locker after the argument, his face as stony as ever. He stopped between Cat and I, his presence making Robbie pause mid squabble with his puppet, and grumbled a quick "hey" to the four- five- of us, earning uncertain greetings in response.
"Jade's pretty mad again, huh?" Andre broke the tension, referring not only to the quarrel we'd just witnessed, but the increasing amount of fights over the past few weeks.
"When is Queen Gank not mad?" Rex chimed in only for his owner to clasp a hand over his mouth.
"Oh yeah." Beck responded in an almost bored tone. "I don't know what it is that's working her up, but she likes to take it out on me at every opportunity."
'You and me both' I bit my lip to stop myself saying it out loud.
"Isn't it, you know, annoying?" Robbie asked, his hand still covering Rex who was making muffled protests that went ignored.
"Eh." Beck shrugged. "It would be, if I didn't know it'll all blow over tomorrow and she'd be back to her normal… well, her less angry self."
I scowled. How can he be so impassive about this? If only he knew exactly what was putting Jade in a better mood after each argument. If only he knew he should be the one fearing cheating, not her. Would he just shrug it off and wait for things to 'go back to normal' as he always did? Or will he actually show some sort of emotion when it came to his relationship with Jade?
"You okay there, Tori?" The boy in question asked, disturbing me from my angry thoughts.
"She's probably thinking about the boy she likes" Cat giggled, winking at me
I rolled my eyes as all the attention was on my again, then shook my head, slamming my own locker too in defiance. "We" I said, emphasising myself by twirling my finger around, pointing at each member of my circle of friends. "are no longer going to discuss this. It is nothing, and it will remain nothing. Got that?"
Everyone nodded, yet each still gave me a sceptical look, even they could tell it was far from nothing. As the bell rang, we all dispersed to our different classes, only for Andre to remain behind, grabbing me by the arm as I went to walk away.
"Why do you let her do this to you?" He asked seriously, all playful manner from before dropped.
"You know why, Andre." I tugged my arm from his grip and his hand fell limply by his side, a look similar to pity gracing his features. "I know it's wrong and unhealthy, sick and twisted, but it's all I've got." I heard him sigh deeply as I walked away.
"So, she upped and left again, just like that?"
It was two in the afternoon on what was turning out to be the worse Christmas day of my life. As I'd curled up on the sofa, a cup of warm cocoa in hand, ready to waste the day away watching yet more cheesy Christmas movies, my apartment door was almost beat down with the force of someone's knocking. I had to hide my disappointment when I got up and opened it to reveal a half frozen Andre on the other side, as opposed to who would usually attack my door in such a violent way.
Once he'd finished grumbling about the weather and explaining to me how his grandmother freaked out over Christmas dinner, claiming she didn't know anyone in the room before kicking them all out and running upstairs to hide under her bed, he kindly asked how my day was going. I spent the next half hour filling him in on the events of last night, while he swapped my supply of cocoa for the eggnog and bandy he'd brought with him, smuggled from his grandma's and hidden under his jacket.
"Pretty much!" I sighed, taking an extra long sip of the yellowish liquid. "It's, like, the only thing she knows how to do! She's all good at starting petty arguments over nothing, but when it comes to something big, something real, she runs away like a scared little child!"
"Woah, easy tiger!" Andre laughed as he took the carton from my hands- which was pretty much pure brandy by now- and placed it on the table, out of reach. "I think someone's had enough of that." He chuckled again as I pouted, but shook his head. "Nuh uh. You practically became an alcoholic last time, remember? To the point you actually swore off the stuff. Until… well, just now, I guess…"
"Fine." I complied as he trailed off.
"Good." He reclined back in his seat, kicking his feet up on the table. "So, now what are you going to do?"
I glanced around the apartment, at the pile of broken things that still lay on my floor, abandoned after Jade had left. "Clean." I answered, earning a groan from Andre. "And can we please take these lame excuses for decorations down? I'm really not feeling in the Christmas spirit anymore."
It took some coaxing, and the bribery of a bottle of wine I had hidden away in a cupboard, to convince Andre to help me tidy the place, but he was soon up on his feet, taking down the minimal decorations he'd made me put up just a few days earlier, mumbling something about being a Grunch under his breath. I ran to grab my PearPad from my bedroom, blasting out some cheerful pop songs in an attempt to bring the mood back up and soon enough, Andre had rescued what was now his bottle of wine, pouring us each a large glass- so much for keeping me off alcohol- as we continued our cleaning spree.
I swept up the shattered remains of my dinnerware, belting out some Ginger Fox hit from years ago as it filled my little apartment, with Andre proving the backing vocals in a ridiculous, high pitched voice he seemed to think matched the singer on the track. I burst into a fit of giggles when a particularly high note caused him to squeak like a teenage boy who'd just hit puberty and his weak cough to cover it up only made me laugh more.
Only dregs remained of the wine once we got my apartment back into a reasonable state to live in. I dumped the plastic bags full of garbage by the door to remind myself to take it out sometime soon before skipping back to my couch, where Andre was sat with the bottle in hand, pouting.
"I can't believe we drank it all" He whined, holding the bottle upside down above his mouth, attempting to catch the last few drops on his tongue.
"It's your fault." I giggled, snatching it away. "Yoooou're the one who kept pouring more glasses."
Andre grinned as he got off my couch, slowly backing over to the kitchen. "But, you're the one with the secret wine stash!" He said, before diving forward to begin flinging open every cupboard I owned.
"Hey!" I yelled after a moment, cottoning on to what he was doing. "That was my last bottle and you know it!"
"I don't believe you!" He called back, his voice muffled as he stuck his head in my refrigerator.
With Andre distracted searching in the wrong places, I quietly made my way over to the kitchen, opening the smallest cupboard to take out what was really my last bottle of wine. Unfortunately, Andre turned around at the last moment, just as I was closing the cupboard door, and spotted me, his eyes locking on the bottle.
"Gimme!" He all but cried, diving for the alcohol.
"Never!" I yelled, holding the wine high in the air and darting past him to counters on the other side. Andre stumbled, his arms flailing as he tried to grab me, but missed.
"You're a cruel one, Tori Vega!" He laughed, spinning around to face me. He began to walk up slowly as I backed away until I bumped into the counter, which was much closer than I originally thought. Andre grinned, noticing he had me trapped. "I get kicked out of my Gran's on Christmas day and instead of cheering me up, you make me clean and keep the alcohol away from me!"
I hid the bottle behind my back as Andre got even closer, placing his arms either side of me on the counter so I had no escape. "Hey, you think you've had it bad? Try having the husband of the girl you've been having an affair with confronting you, smashing your things to pieces, then said girl running out on you when you think things might finally be heading your way."
He chuckled. By now, he was so close I could smell the sweet scent of the wine on his breath and the special Christmas cologne he wore every year- a musky, warm fragrance that was leaving me light headed. Something in me switched off and all I could see were his lips, the quick swipe of his tongue that ran over them, leaving them moist, so inviting, so tempting.
Maybe if I… I just… maybe I can forget about Jade…
I grab the collar of his shirt, tugging him forward until we meet, our lips brushing together for the briefest of moments before he pulled away, stepping back with his eyes wide and his hands raised in surrender.
"Woah, wait, Tori. This isn't right."
My fingertips reached up to graze over my lips, my eyebrows drawn in a frown. Nothing. I felt absolutely nothing.
"You're right." I mumbled, before looking up at him with apologetic eyes. "God, Andre! I'm so sorry! I just… I just wanted to see what it would be like, but… it's just not the same-"
Andre shook his head with a slight laugh. "Hey, don't sweat it!" He was beaming again, swinging an arm around my shoulders. "We'll put it down to the alcohol and us being two lonely, old souls with only each other for company on Christmas Day."
"You really know how to make a girl feel special, don't you 'Dre"
I turned my head to see him wrinkle his nose in disgust. "I thought I told you not to call me that." He scolded playfully, prodding me in a rather ticklish spot below my ribs, making me squeal and jerk away from him.
"What's the problem, 'Dre? Don't you like being called 'Dre? I think it suits you, 'Dre!" I giggled, leaving the wine on the counter and running to the opposite side of the apartment so Andre couldn't get me.
"Oh, you'll pay for that!" He teased, chasing after me.
Soon enough, the two of us were crashing around my apartment, our laughter so loud it drowned out the music still blaring from my PearPad. He caught up pretty quick, grabbing me around the waist, lifting me up as I squealed and kicked my legs, trying to get away. Unfazed by my fight, Andre carried me back to the couch, dumping me so I was sprawled across it before collapsing in the small space beside me, the both of us out of breath but still grinning.
"Do you think we would've made a good couple, if things were different?" I asked once we'd calmed down. We'd shifted around, making ourselves more comfortable so I now lay on my side, my arm draped across Andre's stomach while he staring up at the ceiling, his arms tucked behind his head.
"Oh yeah, girl!" He agreed immediately, smiling up at a slight water stain directly above us. "We'd dominate the world together! But, alas, your heart belongs to another, while mine is still searching for the one."
We sighed in unison.
"You mean my heart's been torn apart and thrown under a bus by someone else." I mumbled glumly, burying my nose in his shoulder. "You must think I'm a total idiot, still wanting to be with her, after everything."
"Yeah." I knew Andre was smirking. He wiggled an arm free and slipped it around me, trailing his fingertips up and down my back. "But, the heart wants what the heart wants, and it's not an easy fight. Remember when I had that crush on Jade?" I nodded against his neck. "It took me so long to properly get over it. Even after singing that song and all the stuff you did to try to help me, there was still a little somethin' tugging at my heart strings, not letting go."
"I dressed up as her!" I groaned at the memory "And did a terrible, terrible impression of her."
"Yeah ya did."
We lapsed into a comfortable silence with nothing but the sound of our breathing filling the air, my Pearpad having run out of juice a short time ago. Andre was lazily drawing patterns on my back with his finger but I could feel him slowly dozing off, the alcohol wearing out on both of us. I'm not sure how long we lay like this, or how soon we fell asleep, but we were both startled back to consciousness by a very loud banging on my door, rattling the wood on its hinges.
"For chiz sake!" I groaned, untangling myself from Andre, who was groggily wondering what was going on, and stumbling to my feet. "Does no one here know how to knock like a normal person!"
I grumbled and growled as I walked to the door, snatching my keys off the hook I'd left them on. It took a couple of attempts to get the key in the lock, the pounding on the door making it shake so hard, but I managed it, yanking the door open and scowling at the person on the other side, until I realised who it was.
"I don't really have anywhere else to go." Jade stormed past me, her usual entrance, stopping short when she saw Andre roll off the couch, standing up to face her. "Out." She snarled.
"I have more of a right to be here than you do!" Andre defended pathetically.
Jade drew a pair of scissors so fast, seemingly out of nowhere. She pointed them at Andre, snipping them threateningly in his direction. "If you'd like to keep the appendage you boys so desperately depend on, then I suggest you get out. Now. And believe me, you won't be the last guy I castrate."
Andre's eyes nearly bulged out of their sockets, trained on the shiny, sharp scissors in Jade's hand. He gulped, chuckling nervously. "Still carry those around, huh?" Jade answered with another vicious snip that made Andre jump. "Oh, well, um, I should go see if my grandma's calmed down, anyways. Uh… see you guys, later!"
He scarpered out of the place faster than I could blink leaving the door to swing too in his wake. I turned back to Jade, who was stuffing the scissors in her back pocket before pulling out something else, something I couldn't quite see. When she finally looked up at me, I could see her eyes were rimmed red and puffy, filled with a look so lost and full of despair.
"I got a Christmas present from Beck."
She staggered uneasily towards me, taking my hand in one of her own, clammy hands and pushed the unknown object into my palm. Her fingers pulled away and my mouth dropped open as a thin, white, plastic stick was revealed, its little screen displaying the word 'Pregnant'.
I was getting my books ready for my next class, humming merrily to the Ginger Fox hit Trina had been murdering as it played on the radio on the way to school, when my wrist was grabbed and I found myself being dragged into the girls bathroom, not even having a chance to close my locker door. Once inside, Jade kept a tight squeeze on my arm as she kicked open every cubical door, only finding Sinjin hidden away in the corner of one of them, who immediately ran for it the second he caught sight of the intense scowl that was gracing Jade's features. Jade shoved a trash can in front of the door as soon as he was gone, stopping anyone else from coming in, before she finally released my arm, turning to press her back against the uncovered part of the door and face me with a look of pure panic.
I raised an eyebrow. "How? Break's not over for another-"
"NO!" Jade interrupted, smacking her palm to her forehead. "I'm late. It's that time of the month and I'm late."
My mouth fell open in a comical O shape as my brain slowly caught on. "Ooooh. You're late…" Then my jaw dropped completely as realisation hit. "You're late!?"
Jade nodded, her eyes darting all over the room. "I think I might be…."
I choke as she trailed off, knowing where it was heading. "But… but how?" I stammered.
"How do you think, Vega!?" She spat, narrowing her eyes at my dumb choice of question. "It's not like it could've been you! How dense can you get!"
As much as I was used to the remarks like this, it didn't stop the lash of hurt anytime Jade called me stupid. But I sucked it up, concentrating on the more important topic at hand. "I know that, I'm not an idiot. I meant, I thought you two were always, you know, careful… with, protection and stuff…" My voice had dropped to a whisper as I trailed off, something that, for some reason, made Jade smirk.
"You're still such a priss, Vega." I tried to protest, but Jade sighed loudly, running a hand through her already dishevelled locks. "We are careful, but, I dunno. I think I might have forgotten to take a pill that morning and he hates using condoms, and we just got caught up in the moment, you know…" I cringed slightly, hoping it would go unnoticed. "But, I've been feeling queasy ever since and if I am then it's going to ruin everything, my career, my whole life…"
She started pacing, the true terror at the prospect glowing in her eyes and showing in every frown line on her face. Her hand was continuously running through her hair, a habit she only ever used when she was stressed and her breathing had become so deep and shallow, she was almost hyperventilating. I'd never, ever seen Jade in such a state before, I didn't know what to do.
"A-are you sure you actually are?" I murmured after a while, breaking through the thick silence.
Jade stopped mid-pace, her hand flying into her bag, rummaging around until she pulled out a rectangular box, holding it out to me. "I… I don't want to take it."
"In case it's positive?"
"No, in case a flying monkey comes out and bites me on the ass when I'm using it!" I was almost glad for Jade's sarcastic response, showing she hadn't completely had a break down over this. "Of course 'in case it's positive'! What the hell am I supposed to do if I am! My parents are strongly opposed to abortion, they'd never let me have one. They'd kick me out if they found out I had. I can't put a child through the hell of adoption and who in their right mind would make me a parent? People are too scared to let me baby sit their kids! If I'm left to deal with my own child they'll turn out even more fucked up than I am!"
"You're not that fucked up." I chuckled nervously, trying to relieve some tension, only to cease immediately under Jade's glare. "I… I uh, think you should take the test, just to be 100% sure."
"ARE YOU SAYING I'M WRONG!?" Jade's voice grew to such a volume that I backed away from her into one of the sinks.
"I'm just saying, it'll confirm whether or not you're-"
"I don't want to know! I don't want to be!" Jade roared. She screwed her eyes shut, massaging the bridge of her nose, her breathing heavy and deep. After a few moments, her shoulders lost their stiffness, her posture slumping as she began to calm down, looking at me with desperation in her eyes. "What if I am, Tori? What do I do? I can't have another life growing inside of me! I can barely handle my own."
I pushed myself away from the sink, gathering the shaking girl up in my arms, surprised when she didn't throw me off. I pressed a gentle kiss to her forehead, turning her around to face me, placing two fingers under her chin so I could lift her head up and look into her eyes, sparkling with unshed tears. "If you are, I will do everything in my power to help you with whatever you decide to do. You'll have me, you'll have-" I swallowed "You'll have Beck, you'll have Cat and Andre and Robbie and even Rex!" This earned a small laugh "You won't be alone."
"He's never gunna want to talk to me again." Jade murmured in a shuddering breath.
"That'll make him a complete idiot." I replied, squeezing her again. Jade looked so small, gathered up in my arms, her fingers clutching at the collar of my shirt. "But, I don't think he is. He'll be here for you, Jade. You know that."
"How can you be so sure?" She sniffed, pushing herself away from me and wiping the corners of her eyes with her sleeve. She coughed, the noise weak and foreign from her, then reached for the test again. "I should get this over with."
I gestured my hands to one of the bathroom stalls she'd kicked open. "I'll be out here."
It didn't take long for Jade to come back out of the stall. We waited with baited breath for the results, double and triple checking the back of the box for how they would be shown. Jade was leaning against me, one hand gripping tightly to my shoulder, the other clutching the thin, white stick in front of us. Her breath hitched as we stared at the little screen, watching a single blue line appear and nothing more.
"Negative." I whispered, as Jade let out a long sigh of relief. "See, all that worrying for nothing, eh?" I nudged her shoulder playfully and gave her a smile.
"Well, I'm sorry, I'd just rather not be pregnant!" Jade retorted. She snapped the test in half, throwing both pieces in the trash.. "Not now, not ever."
"Not ever?" I repeated. "You don't ever want kids someday?"
"That's what 'not ever' means" Jade growled, rolling her eyes. "Were you not listening before? I can't take care of a child. Besides, they're irritating. They're whiny, and needy, and annoying, and smelly. If I wanted that, I'd get a dog. Or you."
I glared. "I am not smelly!"
"On occasion." Jade smirked. She lent over the sink, quickly touching up her make up. "We should go, or we will be late for class." She said once she was done.
I nodded, gathering up my bag and making my way over to the door, about to push the trash can out of the way when I was stopped by fingers wrapping around my wrist once again. Jade tugged me forward, pressing her lips softly to my cheek.
"Thank you." She murmured, her breath tickling my ear. "But if you breathe a word of this to anyone, you will regret ever setting eyes on me in the first place."
I gulped. "Noted. Now, let's get out of here,"
"Pregnant!?" Trina spat the word out as if it were a bad taste on her tongue, her eyes widening and eyebrows shooting up in shock. "Like we need a miniature spawn of Satan running around!"
"Trina!" I scolded, slapping her arm that was wrapped around the link chain of the swing she was sat on, but I couldn't help the amused smile that crept onto my face.
It had been three days since Jade revealed this piece of news to me. Three days since she locked herself in my guest bedroom, without invite, and refused to say a word about it or a word to me at all. She just stayed shut in the room, the only times I'd see her were when she got hungry and raided my kitchen, or in passing to or from the bathroom. It wasn't for my lack of trying that she wouldn't speak. At first, I'd spend hours sat outside the locked door, either banging on the wood with my fist, or else just trying to talk, but she refused. By the next day, I was trying to break the damn door down, but my petit frame, and whatever heavy object she'd dragged in front of the door to stop it opening, prevented me from making much progress, besides a nasty bruise on my shoulder. I shouted empty threats through the door, about calling the police, my dad still being a cop, but it all fell on deaf ears. I had a small glimmer of hope, when she yanked the door open as I was bellowing about knowing a few of the guys at our local station, but she just barged right past and headed for the bathroom instead.
Now, it was late afternoon on the third day, December 28th, and I was sat in the park just a few blocks from my apartment with my older sister, who had dropped by to give me a late Christmas present. I was about to invite Trina in when Jade stepped out of the guest room. The two of them locked eyes for what felt like an eternity, neither saying a word, but I could see the smirk twitching the corner of Trina's lip. Eventually, they both looked away, Jade remaining expressionless as she walked into the bathroom, Trina showing off her pearly whites as she turned to look at me, her eyes gleaming in question. I immediately grabbed my coat and dragged her out the door, neither of us speaking until we reached the kids park a block away and we found ourselves in the seats of the old swing set, rocking idly back and forth as I told her everything that had happened in these past few days.
"So, she's really pregnant?" my sister asked, digging her heels into the gravel beneath to stop the slow momentum of the swing.
I pinched the bridge of my nose between my thumb and forefinger, massaging my temple with my knuckles. "Yes, Trina. We've been over this. She showed me the test and I know she's been up early with morning sickness."- Trina made a face at the thought- "But she won't talk to me or anyone else about it! She just stays locked up in my spare room all day and night and acts as if I'm not even there!"
I brought my swing to a halt, scuffing my tattered converse shoes against the dirt beneath, the mental chains rattling as I untangled myself from them. I felt Trina's eyes on me as I hunched over, propping my elbows up on my knees and my chin in my hands.
"How do you always get caught up in other people's messes, Tor?" My sister wondered aloud.
"I always butt my nose into where it's not wanted." I answered without hesitation, knowing, from being told multiple times, that it was true. "But, this does involve me this time, Trina. I'm the one who's been having an affair with one of my best friends' girlfriends… well, wife, now."
"Yeah, but you're not the one who knocked her up." Trina tried to reason. "I hope." She added, eyeing my suspiciously.
I rolled my eyes "No, I am not the one who knocked her up, but if it wasn't for me, she'd be living with Beck right now, instead of crashing in my spare room."
Trina stood up from her seat, the swing wobbling with the loss of its occupant as she came to kneel in front of me, taking my hands in her own, slightly larger ones. I took a second to observe the obvious difference between our skin tones, whereas once it was barely noticeable, now Trina's was a lot more tan from spending hours and hours in the sun- "There's a lot more time to sunbathe without school!"- while mine was becoming pasty and pale from spending my time cooped up in my house, avoiding the outside world.
"Don't beat yourself up about this, Tori. It's not your fault… well, not entirely." Trina smiled as she played with my fingers, a somewhat comforting gesture. "It takes two to tango, and Jade isn't the innocent victim here, so don't, for one second, let her fool you into thinking she is."
I nodded slowly. "Maybe you're right."
"I always am!" Trina grinned, patting my knee. "So, what are you going to do about it this time? You're always the girl with the plan, always finding a way to fix people's problems. What've you got for us?"
I laughed at Trina's analyses, although a little bitterly. "Yeah, that's me, the girl who can fix everyone's problems but her own." Trina opened her mouth to interrupt, but I continued on. "No, seriously, Treen. This isn't one of those problems that can be fixed by me buying a dog, or letting someone punch me in the face. We're not high schoolers anymore, and this isn't a Danny, or a Steven, or a" I grimaced "a Ryder. We're talking about a married couple with a baby on the way and I- I ruined them."
I hadn't noticed how hard I was gripping my fingers into my scalp, tangling them around strands of hair, nor did I realise the sting behind my eye letting loose a tear that trickled down my cheek until Trina instinctively smoothed her thumb across it, wiping it away. "Sorry"
"Don't worry about it, sis." Trina smiled, musing my hair with her hand. She stood up, dragging me with her, and linked her arm through mine. "Besides, I know you. You'll come up with something eventually."
I sighed as we started our walk back to the flat. What was left of the dead leaves scattering the ground soggy and squishing beneath our feet, the bare trees from which they had fallen beginning to frost over with the cold. "I do have an idea," I said after a while, kicking a small pebble and watching as it skimmed across the street. "But I'm not sure it'll work, or if I like it."
"Well, there's no harm in trying!" Trina said cheerfully. She bounded ahead of me, pulling her fake fur lined coat more snugly around her against the chill, winter air "Now, come on, home wrecker! Let's go somewhere else, I'm hungry!"
"Triiiina!" I whined at her playful jab, to which she just giggled and skipped off down the damp street towards the baguette shop on the corner.
The night was cold, the few stars dulled by the heavy clouds unleashing unforgiving rain that pelted my windshield as I drove down the familiar streets I hadn't been to in so many years. I kept my breathing in check, my jaw clenched, wanting to keep a level head for the task ahead. I knew I needed to do what was right, not what my aching heart wished, I needed to make amends for all I'd done.
The decision I'd made weighed heavy in the pit of my stomach, twisting my gut with the thoughts of what was to lose, with nothing to gain, after fighting so hard for what I wanted.
I tightened my grip on the steering wheel, forcing myself to focus on the road ahead while blinking back the all too familiar sting in my eyes. It's all about her. It's always all about her.
"It's always all about her!" I spat my last thoughts aloud, slamming on my breaks as I hit a red light, thankful for all the 'importance of wearing a seatbelt' lectures my dad used to give me. I took a deep breath, balancing the pedals as I revved the engine in my desperation to go. If I didn't do this now, I never would.
It took a lot of work to find out where he was staying. I knew he wouldn't go home as, if the situation was reversed, I wouldn't either, too many memories to plague a haunted mind. I almost gave up, until I remember how desperate Robbie was to keep in contact with everyone after the wedding and how he had given me details for every method of contact that was available to him. When he first picked up the phone after its fifth ring, I could tell he was off with me. It was understandable, he and Beck were always such good friends, and still are, he wouldn't want to cause Beck any more pain by talking to the girl who broke up his marriage. But after some explaining, and a little sweet talking, got the still bumbling and nervous boy to spill the information I needed.
Pulling into the drive way of a place that hadn't changed a bit since I'd last been here, I was hit with dozens of memories from our school days that took place in the very home I was about to visit- from casual get-togethers to a disastrous day at the beach. But one memory stood out above them all, a guilty memory that forcefully reminded me why I was here in the first place.
"Come on, it'll be fun!" Jade whispered, tugging my hand to get me to run faster.
"It's wrong, Jade!" I hissed back. "We can't just break in and do it in here!"
Jade snorted as we reached our destination. I was pleased to see all the lights were off, even though I already knew no one was home, it still didn't make me feel good about what we were doing.
"It's not breaking in, if you know where the spare key is" Jade muttered, rummaging around in a flower pot until she pulled out the small, silver object. "And stop being such a prude. Beck and I 'do it' here all the time."
"Yeah, great, that's just what I wanted to hear." I grumbled under my breath.
I watched Jade as she brushed the dirt off the key then proceeded to unlock the door, her tongue poking out the side of her mouth in concentration as she wiggled the little object around until a click indicated it had worked. Jade let the RV door swing open with a smirk of triumph before nodding at me to follow her into the dark motor home, slamming said door behind us as soon as I'd stepped in.
It smelt like Beck. The strong odour of boy mixed with his cologne and the scent of the apples that were placed in a fruit bowl over on his makeshift table. Jade flicked the light switch, illuminating his possessions, clothing, the weird collection of objects that looked like they'd been picked up at a retirement home garage sale were scattered around the place and the well made bed that Jade had already sat herself down on, taking off her boots.
"It's not like he's going to jump out of the closet, Vega" The girl remarked when she noticed I was still stood hesitantly by the door, unable to believe I'd actually gone along with this.
"This feels wrong" I protested again, yet still found my feet moving so I was stood beside her. "I know you're mad at him for going off to Canada at such short notice, but this isn't right!"
"We do this all the time, Vega!" I could tell Jade was getting angry with my lack of cooperation. "What difference should it make where we do it; the result is the same in the end!"
She kicked her last boot off and stood up so we were face to face, the smirk I always found irresistible playing across her lips. She reached out, her fingertips playing with the hem of my shirt, tickling the thin strip of skin exposed between it and my skinny jeans, before the garment was slowly pulled over my head, meeting no resistance.
"No one's going to know, but you and me" She whispered as she trailed kissed along my collar bone, making me shiver at the light, soft touch. "That's the way it always is, the way it stays." She stopped abruptly to place a finger over my lips. "So, are you going to be a good girl and go along with this?"
I looked into those eyes at always captivated me, seeing them dark with desire, alive and electric with the knowledge of what we were doing. I gulped back my rational thoughts, something I was getting used to doing while with Jade, and nodded my head in response, watching the topaz irises sparkle with delight.
"Good." Jade murmured as her lips reclaimed my neck, biting down hard before shoving me down onto Beck's bed. She stood over me with her hands on her hips, a smirk on her lips. "But, you're still going to have to be punished for your initial hesitation".
I didn't know what to expect when I knocked on the RV door. Though the bulletproof glass was tinted and the curtains were drawn, I could still see the dim lights shining through, confirming that Beck was indeed here. My heart pounded painfully against my ribs with each echoing knock, each muffled step of booted feet as they made their way across the carpeted floor until they came to a halt and the handle rattled as it was opened.
The strong smell of smoke hit me hard, making me step back as I choked on the stale scent that invaded my nostrils and stung my eyes enough to water. A bitter, throaty chuckle reached my ears and I blinked up at the source, taken aback by what I saw. Beck, his usual easy going smile twisted into a sneer, his long hair matted and unkempt and his chin covered in a whiles worth of stubble. The white wife beater that hung from his thin frame was stained and looked like it had been slept in while the arm that hung limply by his side held a half drunk bottle of beer along with a joint that was yet to be lit.
"I have half a mind to just slam this door in your face." He deadpanned, his voice croaky and much unlike his own.
"But, you won't?" I tested hopefully.
He shook his head with an empty laugh. "I don't really want to spend my night listening to you try to defend yourself over what you've done." He said, turning away from me, yet leaving the RV door open.
I clambered quickly in after him, casting my eyes around at the mess in the once well kept RV. The place looked like it had been trashed, which wouldn't surprise me now, not after seeing what Beck had done to my kitchenware. The few clothes that remained here were strewn everywhere, empty takeout boxes from Nozu and various fast food joints were scattered around between other pieces of trash and the odd little knick knacks Beck had collected over the years.
"I take it Consuela hasn't been here for a while." I joked nervously, remembering the maid Beck had when I first visited his home, being hit with that ever present prang of guilt as I remember just why I was there that time too.
Beck had fallen back onto his bed and did nothing more than raise an eyebrow at me as he stuck his joint between his teeth and lit it with ease, taking a long, slow drag before exhaling in a gush of smoke.
"I didn't know you smoked." I stated, watching with a sense of fascination as he took each toke.
"Not many people do." He drew in a breath, releasing it around his words. "Not even Jade." A second puff, a smaller cloud of smoke. "See, I can have my secrets too."
I shook my head, knowing I needed to cut the idle chit chat and get on with what I was here for. I opened my mouth to speak, not sure of what to say, my heart seemed to leap to my throat and stick, not wanting me to talk at all. I'd been having the argument with myself ever since I had the idea to come here, both my head and my heart at war, each wanting me to do a different thing that was 'for the best.' I knew which one I sided with.
"If you're here to apologise, it's a little late." The boy on the bed interrupted, holding his hand up to stop me from progressing any further. "If you're here to defend your actions by telling me you love her or some bullshit, I'm not interested."
"Or, did Jade send you?" There was a hint of mocking laughter to his voice as he shifted, swinging his legs off his too small bed, letting them hang over the edge as he lent forward, the rolled up joint burning closer to his fingers.
He spoke over me once again. "'Cause, if she did, you can tell her I'm not interested in what she had to say either."
"Would you quit interrupting?" I snapped. "I'm not here to defend myself, or Jade, I'm here to try to help! Like I always am with you two!" I took a deep breath in order to calm myself. "You two can never sort out your own problems, can you?"
"Who says I want to sort this out?" Beck retorted, finally stubbing the burnt up roll up on the wall beside him. "She made her bed, she can lie in it, with you, apparently. And don't forget, Tori. You're the main root of this problem." He laughed bitterly, shaking his head. "You have been many a time before."
Confused, I took a few steps towards him, lowering myself to sit on the edge of the bed, yet still keeping my distance. He didn't seem to notice, just continued staring at the trash ridden floor. "What do you mean?" I asked quietly, watching him.
"Oh, come on, Tori." A slight smirk lifted the corner of his lips. "You know full well that, from day one, you caused Jade and I problems, ever since you spilt coffee on me on your first day at Hollywood Arts. Everything fucked up from there and has never been right since."
I frowned, vividly remembering that day, feeling the burn of the small amount of coffee that splashed back on me, the electric nerves racing through my body upon knowing the day had barely even started and I'd already made a fool of myself. Remembering looking up to see Beck's face, bemused by the incident, and my first instinct being to make even more of an idiot out of myself by trying to rub the coffee stain out of his shirt. His smile was charming, his eyes alight with amusement and for the briefest of moments I couldn't help but think he was cute. That was until she stepped into the room.
"Okay" I drew out the word, unable to deny the fact.
"You know I liked you, right?" He asked suddenly, but not bothering to wait for an answer. "Of course you do, I tried to kiss you." He waved it off with an amused huff. "I don't know what it was, a passing crush or something, but it's what always wound Jade up the most. She's always been jealous when it comes to you; always worried something more was happening or could happen between us. She never fully trusted me, ever, and that seemed to get worse once you arrived on the scene. I guess, yeah, she did have something to worry about for a short while, but really, it should've been me doing the worrying."
Beck's little monologue ended, and I didn't know what to say. The sound of the rain hitting the roof was deafening as it echoed through the now silent RV, broken only by the occasional click as Beck played with his lighter, watching the flame burn bright before extinguishing it, or else just letting it spark weakly. I sat still at the very edge of the bed, my fingers clasped tightly together as the rested on my knees, feeling worse and worse as I took in the tired appearance of the man beside me.
"She's pregnant, Beck." I said so quietly I almost couldn't hear myself over the pelting rain.
He stiffed, sobering immediately before turning to me slowly, eyes widened in horror, the lighter slipping from his now limb grasp. "You're fucking with me."
I hung my head, shaking it as I was unable to trust my voice, the full reality of this situation finally hitting me. I felt the bed shift and looked up to find Beck towering over me, both of his arms stiff and his hands balled into fists. I flinched and screwed my eyes shut as he made a sudden move, terrified at the irrational thought of him maybe taking a swing at me, not that I'd blame him one bit. As I should've expected, no blow came. Instead, Beck had started pacing his already well worn carpet, curling and uncurling his fists before running both hands through his tangled locks, making his hair stick up at odd angles. He was mumbling things under his breath and I could only catch the odd few words – "Can't be." "No way." "No fucking way."- over the thumping of his boots and what had now become light patters on the roof.
"Take me to see her." He rounded on me abruptly, stopping just inches away from my toes.
I blinked, squeaking "A-are you sure?"
He hesitated before nodding quickly in confirmation. "I need to hear it from her."
Beck had just dropped me off after our 'opposite date', a term I decided I hated only shortly after it was coined, as it was still very much like a date, only without the nice date like activities. There was a rush of different emotions coursing through me- annoyance at the nosey people at the vets, relief that, although Jade had found us, she said she was okay with it- not that there was anything to be okay with as Beck and I were just friends- and maybe a small ounce of happiness as, despite it all, it wasn't a truly terrible night.
But as I walked up to my door, my mind went back to its favourite place- Jade. Of course I was shocked, terrified in fact, when she and Cat suddenly turned up, although it did explain all the strange phone calls I'd been getting from the red head all evening long. We were innocent, I knew, but I still felt like I'd been caught doing something I shouldn't. Going out with the ex of the girl I'd been secretly seeing behind his back? As if this tale wasn't twisted enough.
Unsurprisingly, the door was unlocked and no one was downstairs. I rolled my eyes as I closed the door and clicked the lock in place; with the head of the house being a police officer, you'd think my family would be more careful when it came to security. I walked upstairs, hearing the muffled beat of Trina's music the nearer I got to the top followed by her obnoxiously loud singing as I past by. I reached my room only to find the door already slightly open, not enough to let me see in, but enough to let me know someone had been in, and were maybe still inside. I could only think of one person who pulled such a trick, so I tried to ignore the tingling rush of desire and dread as I pushed the door the remainder of the way, holding my breath in anticipation of what could possibly be to come, only to be comforted by an empty room, save for the pile of laundry I'd put in the washer this morning, clean and dry, probably brought up by mom as Trina was most likely to dump all my clothes on the floor to make room for her own.
I felt more disappointment than relief at the fact Jade wasn't in my room. I still felt the need to explain to her that there was nothing going on between me and Beck; I still craved her touch every time we were near, every time she crossed my mind. I chuckled to myself at my neediness, I should be ashamed, but longing often took over and became my primary want, forgetting all the rest. I moved the laundry to the correct drawers and hangers in the wardrobe before changing into my pyjamas and crawled into bed, my dreams filled with what the night would be like it Jade had taken Beck's place.
The next day, I just wanted to dig myself into a deep, dark hole and stay there. My friends were their usual selves, Beck being a little more on friendly, maybe, and greeting me with a charming story about applying ointment to his aunts dog, and Cat was just, well, Cat. It was like last night didn't even exist to her as she went into a story about her brother and their own pet dog.
The only difference, of course, being Jade. My slightly weary "Good morning!" went completely ignored as she stormed past with her coffee in hand and the deep scowl that often graced her features firmly in place. The rest of the day was spent acting as if I didn't exist at all, which made lunch all that more awkward when we both arrived late and were forced to sit beside each other, although I'm sure the continuious brushing of her thigh against my own was no accident.
When the bell rang for the end of Sikowitz's class, and the end of the school day, I knew this was my only chance. Wading through the thick crowds of students spilling out in the corridors, I managed to ditch the majority of my friends and grab a certain, pale, tattooed arm, yanking it and throwing the owner into the janitor's closet before she, or anyone else, knew what was happening.
"What is your problem today, Jade!" I hissed through the darkness, not daring to turn on the light when the thin window in the door had recently had its glass replaced and the bustling students that went by would easily be able to see inside.
"Let me out of here, Vega." Was the bored response, accompanied by Jade trying to push herself by me. I took a step back, leaning against the door, blocking her escape route.
"You know there's a ladder that leads up to the library right behind me, don't you?" She said calmly. "I could easily climb that thing to get out of here, even in the dark."
"But you won't." I countered, with a lot more confidence than I felt.
"Oh." Her voice was deep with annoyance, yet filled with surprise, obviously not expecting my chosen form of defiance when I usually resorted to shameless pleading. She took a step back herself and I could make out her crossing her arms over her chest in the dim light shining through, indicting she was listening.
"Your problem, Jade" I repeated with emphasis.
There was a beat of silence.
"What the fuck are you and Beck now!?" Jade blurted, the seething anger no longer disguised. "Are you dating or something!? Have our roles been reversed!? What am I, your dirty little secret while you put on a front and date him!?"
I scoffed, unable to help it, at the absurd familiarity of it all. "Are you serious Jade?" I snapped. "How do you think I've been feeling the whole time this has been going on? No, I am not dating Beck, but yes you are my dirty little secret as much as I am yours, so don't you dare try to play the victim in all of this."
More silence, and if I couldn't still make out her faint outline, I would've thought she'd crawled up the ladder long before I had my say. My breathing had turned shallow in a surprising amount of angry that came after my speech, the only sound besides the thinning amount of students outside that was broken by a small chuckle from in front of me.
"You have some balls, Vega." Jade's warm breath fanned across my face, causing an involuntary shudder that was swallowed as her lips met mine in the briefest of kisses. "I like that about you."
I frowned at the sudden change, my lips tingling at the unexpected kiss, not knowing I'd have years to get used to expecting the unexpected when it came to Jade.
"You're mine, remember." She continued, her nose still but inches from my own. "Remember?" She repeated, more forceful.
All I could do was nod.
"Good. Now, you leave through the door and I'll take the ladder. I don't want to be seen leaving with you."
The short journey back to my place was silent. The rain had cleared but left the damp, chill air in its wake and large puddles on the roads that made a satisfying splash every time my tires broke the surface. Despite the cold night, I kept my window slightly open, the both fresh and stale smells of smoke clinging to Beck making me feel nauseous in the cramped car as it overpowered the new pine air freshener that hung from my rear view mirror. As I turned the corner to my apartment, I glanced at the clock on my dashboard to find it was gone 1am. From what I'd worked out over the time she'd been in my apartment, Jade was usually still up at this time, or so I'd gathered from the occasional small sounds I could hear from the room she'd claimed as her own.
I pulled up and parked, Beck and I getting out of the car and slamming the doors in unison.
"She's been staying with you?" Beck asked out of the blue, almost making me jump. I looked at him to see him frowning up at the apartment block, his eyes searching for which windows could be mine.
"In her own room." I reassured as we walked towards the doors. "She hasn't said a word to me since she told me the, uh, the news…"
I trailed off, but Beck nodded slowly in understanding. The creak of each stair echoed through the empty halls as we slowly made our way up, Beck trailing just behind me like a lost puppy, gripping the banister tightly to maintain his balance as the effects of everything he'd been putting into his body as of late still had a hold over him. He wobbled a bit as I stuck my key into the lock of my door, having to jiggle it with more force than normal due to the abuse it had suffered from being slammed so often. It opened with a creak of its own, and the second it did, I knew something was wrong. All the lights were out, every window closed, leaving an eerie silence to press upon my ears. I cautiously stepped in, flicking on the light beside the door so Beck could stumble in after without crashing into anything, and made my way to the living room.
"Jade?" I called out. "Jade, I know you're not talking to me, but…" I trailed off. Shouting was a bad tactic, as I would never get a response, Jade being as stubborn as she is.
"Where is she?" Beck appeared beside me, his heavy boots stomping across the floor. "Jade! Get out here, we need to talk. Now."
Still nothing. Beck and I turned to each other with matching looks of concern and confusion before I moved away, walking over to her bedroom door.
"Jade?" I said quietly, testing the handle. I gave it a quick, sharp turn and, to my extreme surprise, the door swung open, revealing the room behind it- bed made, curtains open, everything in place… I turned back to see Beck standing right behind me, easily looking over my head into the empty room. My whispered voice betrayed my sadness. "She's gone."