"What do you mean she's gone?" Beck asked, a humorless laugh in his voice. "There was nowhere for her to go but outside."
Cat was mimicking Andre's posture: arms folded tightly over her chest and a deep scowl on her face. Her eyes burned holes through Jade.
"Yeah, that's where she went," Jade bit out. Her face scrunched up in an unattractively confused expression. "What's the big deal?"
"It's dangerous out there!" Cat yelled, catching Jade off guard. Cat never yelled at her. Ever.
"Look, I'm sure she's fine," Jade snapped. She ran a shaky hand through her black hair and tried to take a step back from her friends. She didn't like being crowded in on. She didn't like being glared at like that.
"Tori still isn't answering her phone," Robbie reported back as he walked over to the group. They were all huddled inside Northridge's cafeteria. The two schools had competed against each other in a talent contest, and of course Northridge had lost. However, those Northridge girls were probably the worst losers Jade had ever seen. They screamed words at them that not even she would say. By the time the group of friends had headed outside to Sikowitz's van, the losing group had slashed the vans tires and spray-painted foul words all over it. It wasn't exactly the best part of town, so Sikowitz had ordered them to stay inside while he went for help.
"It's just like the cupcake incident," Beck said, completely frustrated, "You just let her go out there by herself!"
"She was looking for you guys," Jade screamed back at her ex-boyfriend. "You were the ones who left us here without announcing that you were going to try and find some teachers! I'm not her babysitter."
"No, you were just the big butthead that guilted her into trying to find them by making her think the Northridge jerks had done something to them!" Cat cried out.
"You could've stopped her," Jade snapped.
Cat's hands flew up and pulled at her bright red hair. "You know I pass out when you two fight like that. I woke up and Tori was gone."
"Forget Jade," Beck said. He rolled his shoulders under his jean jacket and cracked his neck. "We need to go find Tori. I mean, all we did was wander down one hall and they tried to stone us."
"With stones," Andre added, shaking his head, "Hard stones."
"You're all overreacting," Jade mumbled. She sat down on one of the hard, plastic cafeteria chairs and let out a heavy breath. "This is Vega we're talking about. She got a group of homeless thugs to help us change a tire on a giant cupcake once. I highly doubt anything's going to happen to her. I'm never that lucky," she added in a muffled voice.
"You went too far this time, Jade" Cat whispered. She sat down next to her and smoothed out her blue skirt. Both Jade's and Cat's eyes followed Andre, Beck, and Robbie's forms as they headed out the door that Tori had left out of a while prior. Cat was scared. That was a scary neighborhood and the kids there were really mean. Rex said they came from the bad side of the railroad tracks, but Cat hadn't seen any train tracks for miles.
"I don't see why everyone's freaking out," Jade mumbled. Sure, she'd gotten bored and thought it would've been funny to see Vega wandering around outside until she got slapped by one of these crazies. But had she really thought something bad would happen to her? No. Jade didn't think these people were that bad. But maybe she'd been wrong.
"Didn't you see what they did to Sikowitz's van?" Cat asked, shaking her head. Her eyes were narrowed in a way that showed she couldn't believe Jade. "I know you like hurting Tori and making her really sad, but I always thought you still sort of cared about her. At least enough that you didn't ever want to seriously injure her."
"I didn't want to!" Jade said, panicked. What if something bad had happened to Tori and they all blamed her? Cat's eyes burned in a way Jade had never seen them look before. She was seriously pissed.
"Whatever," Cat bit out, turning away from Jade.
Jade didn't have a chance to reply, however, since the boys bursted back into the cafeteria with Sikowitz hot on their heels. "We have a code red," the wild-haired teacher announced loudly. "The ambulance and police are on their way."
Jade shot up out of her seat when Cat did. Tori was in Andre's arms and he had her pulled up tightly to his chest. "Oh, God," Jade whispered. Cat whimpered and, despite being so angry with her, grabbed Jade's hand tightly.
"What happened to her?"
"Where did you find her?" Jade felt like she was going to be sick. Cat was actually crying.
"Tied to the flagpole out front," Beck said in disgust, "They beat the crap out of her. I think bones are broken."
"I'm just glad she's out cold," Andre said, his voice thick with emotion that he was trying to keep in. It wasn't exactly working, though, since he was holding his broken best friend in his arms.
Sikowitz looked more serious than any of the kids had ever seen him before. "They left us a little message," he said solemnly. With some effort, he held up the jacket Tori had been wearing. "Until next time, Hollywood Arts," Sikowitz read the spray-painted message.
Everyone exchanged solemn looks. This was, without a doubt, the worst thing that had ever happened to their little group. Why did it have to happen to Tori? Jade felt Cat release her hand and slowly walk over to Andre. She could hear the ambulance in the distance, and it took everything in her to not hurl. Tori was seriously hurt and it was all her fault.
Jade sat alone in the waiting room. Well, not alone since there were other strangers in there, but she didn't care about them. So, alone. Everyone else was in the visiting ward where Tori was. It was near midnight at that point and Jade still couldn't bring herself to see Tori. She didn't even know if she was okay. Her fingers were fidgeting with her orange-handled scissors when Cat came through the large double doors in front of her. Jade immediately stood up and averted her eyes.
"How is she?"
Cat looked like she'd been crying. She had dark circles under her eyes and Beck's jean jacket on. Jade hadn't known that she cared about Tori so much. "Uhm," Cat said, her hands fiddling together. The sleeves on Beck's jacket were too long for her, so Jade could barely even see her fingers. "Tori's pretty hurt. She has some bone broken in her right leg. I don't remember the name of it, I just know that I started crying then because you know how much Tori loves to dance and now she can't…"
Jade closed her eyes and felt another sharp pain in her chest. "Go on."
"Right," Cat said, shaking her head. "Uhm and she's got a lot of bruises and cuts. Her left wrist and hand are broken and she's in a sling to hold them up. But she's right-handed so that's kind of not that bad. And apparently they hit her in the side of the head with a bottle of Wahoo punch…?" Cat said, her tone questioning as if she couldn't believe someone would do that to Tori. Jade couldn't believe it either. "So she has some stitches by her eyebrow. I'm never drinking that again."
"Yeah, me neither," Jade mumbled. She was suddenly hit with a flashback of the time she tried to destroy Tori's prom. Prome, whatever. Tori had stolen her Wahoo punch, licked it, and then given it back in the hopes that Jade would be too disgusted to drink it. This was Jade, though, and of course she'd drink it still. Why couldn't they go back to then? When Tori wasn't hurt and Jade wasn't so completely wracked with guilt.
She vaguely registered Cat quietly asking if she wanted to see her. See Tori? God, no. Jade didn't want to walk into that room and have Tori's parents, Trina, and the rest of their friends look at her as if she were the biggest piece of scum on this earth.
"No, I…I need to get home," Jade fumbled out.
Cat furrowed her brow. Her eyebrows could communicate on their own sometimes. "What do you mean 'no'? Jade, I think you need to go in there and see her."
"I think you need to shut up," Jade snapped. "I'm not going in there. Are you kidding me? They'll eat me alive."
Cat was silent. She fidgeted on the spot and bit her lip. "Maybe you need to be." That was all Cat said before she turned on her heel and left. Jade's eyes followed Cat's bright green converse until they disappeared behind the swinging door again. And then she sighed.
"I think you've overreacting."
Tori opened one eye and squinted towards the voice. "You have got to be kidding me," she said through a split lip. The doctors said she could leave that afternoon, and so all of her friends were at her house planning a sort of welcome home party. Tori found that funny since she'd only been in the hospital overnight, but she wasn't about to argue against getting free cake.
Her eyes closed again as Jade took the empty visitors seat right next to Tori's head. "Look, Tori-"
"Jade," Tori sighed out, "What do you want? I'm supposed to be relaxing."
Jade cocked her head to the side and studied Tori's bruised face. She had a pretty cool looking black eye and a nasty looking split lip. "They really did a number on you."
Tori nodded slowly. "Yeah. It seems not everyone enjoys talking things out. I even offered a redo performance since they felt they'd been cheated." Jade groaned. Tori sighed. "Yeah. If I'd known they were more like you then I would've just run for my life. It wasn't fun." She pouted a little. Jade's eyes were on her, and she let out a breath of a quiet laugh.
"I'm sorry, Tori," Jade said, reluctantly. "I never meant for you to get hurt. I just thought you'd go out there, get a little shaken up, and come running back in before anyone could hurt you."
"You knew the guys weren't out there," Tori stated. It was something Tori had worked out the night before, but by then it had been too late. It was just another cruel Jade prank that she'd fallen for.
Jade looked down at her lap before standing up. "I gotta go."
"Yeah, you did your charitable five minutes. Now you feel guilt-free, right Jade?"
Tori arched an eyebrow, and a seething Jade turned around to find Lane, the school guidance-counselor, in the doorway.
"Excuse me?" Jade bit out.
"Lane, it wasn't Jade's-"
"Save it, Tori," Lane said, shaking his head. "You're laying in a hospital bed because Jade convinced you to do something that she knew would get you in trouble. This is serious, girls. Jade, come with me."
Jade folded her arms over her chest and tapped her boot against the tiled floor. "No. This isn't school. I don't have to listen to you."
"It's either me or the police," Lane said with a shrug. A muscle in Jade's jaw twitched. She turned her head and caught Tori's eyes. Lane was bluffing, Jade knew that, but it was still enough that he was bluffing that big. Without saying anything, Jade knew what Tori thought she should do. It was annoying how often they communicated by just a look.
"Yeah, fine, whatever. We'll talk."
"Okay, I'm sorry but why am I being punished?"
"Tori, sweetie, we're sorry," Mrs. Vega said, brushing some hair out of Tori's eyes and looking genuinely broken-hearted. "But we have to take Trina to this audition in New York."
"I actually tried to get out of it," Trina admitted. Everyone sitting in the living room looked over at her with a shocked expression. Trina nodded vigorously. "I know! I was shocked too. But they said if I missed this audition after everything they did to get it for me that I would really regret it. I'm sorry, baby sis."
It took a lot for Trina to actually care about Tori. The last time anyone had seen that had been when Tori had gotten thrown into jail in Yerba. The situation was pretty dire. Tori sighed and looked up from where Cat was drawing something onto her leg cast - hot pink, Cat's choice - and looked over at Lane. "But why does Jade's punishment have to count as punishment for me too? I need to be taken care of for a week, not tortured even more for a week."
Jade growled from over at the table where she and Robbie were handing out pieces of Tori's "Welcome home from the hospital and we're sorry you're broken!" cake. Lane sighed and glanced at Tori's parents. "Look, Tori, we understand that Jade isn't exactly nurturing. But all of your friends are going to be in and out the entire week."
"He's right," Andre mumbled. He was sitting next to Tori and drawing some music notes onto her arm cast - neon green, Andre's choice. "You know we'll be over here every day after school to make sure you're okay while your parents are out of town. We're not leaving you alone during your healing process, baby," he finished, smiling broadly up at Tori and nudging her shoulder.
Tori shook her head with a quiet laugh. "All right, all right. So, Jade's punishment is that she has to take care of me for the entire week I'm out of school. Isn't she going to get behind in her schoolwork?"
Jade shrugged as she sat down next to Beck. "Lane said my teachers know what's up and I'll have my homework delivered to me everyday by Cat. It's like a week long suspension in Hell."
Mr. and Mrs. Vega cleared their throats, causing Jade to actually look chagrined. "Sorry. I mean, you guys have a great home and everything. It'll be wonderful to stay here for a whole week catering to Tori's every whim."
"Well, we wouldn't be in this situation if you weren't a gank in the first place," Sikowitz said. When Jade looked up at him, completely affronted, he just held his cake plate up in a happy gesture. "But you know you're still one of my favorite students!"
"I hope you all know that you're sentencing me to death here," Tori mumbled.
Jade looked over at her with a wicked smirk. "Oh, relax, Vega. How bad can it be?"
"One time," Cat started, "my brother said that to a cop before he got out this bottle of-"
"I'm just saying that it can get pretty bad," Cat said with a shrug before turning back to her cake.
"No!" Jade screamed. The sound of a water bottle hitting the wall echoed through the dark house. It was her and Tori's first night alone together, and it was already going bad. Jade was just trying to get some sleep on the couch when she heard Tori's muffled cries upstairs. She had no idea why the girl was throwing such a fit, but Jade was exhausted and just wanted some sleep. She threw off her blanket and stormed upstairs. "What in the hell is your problem, Vega?"
Tori sat on the edge of her bed with her face buried in her non-broken hand. "Go away, Jade."
"And do what? Lay downstairs and not sleep some more because you keep making all this noise up here?" She tugged on her black pajama pants and crossed her arms over her chest. "What's wrong?"
"It hurts," Tori bit out. Her voice was muffled by her hand, but Jade could still hear that she was holding back tears.
Jade's blue-green eyes were darker than usual as a surge of anger passed through her. Not at herself, but at the morons who did this to Tori. Had anyone even thought of getting back at them? We're they going to juvey? Did they even know who did it? "What hurts?" Jade questioned, her voice coming out softer than she'd intended. Ew.
"Everything!" Tori cried out. She winced against the stinging in her head that came from her yelling. "I need my pain pills but they're downstairs."
"So, that's why you got angry and threw your water bottle?"
"I can't exactly use my crutches by myself, Jade," Tori bit out. She lifted her eyes to meet Jade's, and Jade furrowed her brow. This wasn't the Tori that she knew. The Tori Vega that Jade knew was always strong and shining. She never let anything break her. But this Tori was broken. Not completely, but enough that it unnerved Jade. She didn't like this Tori. Sure, it was in her Slap interests that one of her hobbies was trying to destroy Tori, but this was different. It wasn't fun when Tori couldn't fight back. And now it was Jade's job to take care of her.
"Well, that's why I'm here," Jade said, throwing her hands up in the air before pulling a pill bottle out of her pocket. She switched on the lamp by Tori's bed and helped her settle back under the sheets.
"You're not stealing my medicine, are you?" Tori asked hesitantly, eyeing the bottle Jade had pulled out of her pajama pants pocket.
"No," Jade bit out. She fumbled with the bottle until she got it open and got a pill in Tori's hand. Once she went and grabbed the bottle that Tori had thrown, she leaned against the wall and watched the girl swallow it down. "I just wanted to have them on me so they wouldn't get lost. That so hard to believe?"
"Kind of," Tori said, shaking her head. They couldn't go ten minutes without arguing, but right now Jade was grateful for that. As long as Tori was arguing with Jade, she had that spark in her eyes. That spark of the old Tori.
"We need a new method, by the way," Jade said once she was sure Tori was settled in. "Try texting me when you need something instead of doing damage to your walls. Your parents already hate me enough. I don't want to be blamed for one more thing." Tori rolled her eyes at that but Jade didn't miss the ghost of a smile that played over her lips. Whatever.
"Can I have tacos?"
"For breakfast?" Jade looked up from the fridge at Tori sitting on the couch. Tori pushed her glasses up and nodded. "Seriously? You're so fucking weird, Vega."
"It's all this medicine I'm on. It makes me crave things," Tori whined, sinking into the couch cushion. She tugged at her t-shirt. With it on she could see all of the bruises along her arms, and she didn't like seeing that. It was almost as if Tori could cover it up then she could forget that it happened. But she can't, and it did, and this was the first shirt that Jade had grabbed from her drawer so that had been that. It's not like Tori could explain that to Jade without being mocked.
Soon enough, the smell of fried beef caught Tori's attention. She turned the TV off and turned to face Jade. "Do you need any help in there?"
Jade arched a studded eyebrow. "Yeah, actually I do. Come on over here and flip the taco shells for me, would ya?"
Tori smiled, nodded, and then moved to stand. Then she stopped, sighed, and sunk back into the cushion once she remembered she couldn't walk on her own. "I really dislike you." Then Tori heard a strange sound. Jade was laughing. Sure, she was undoubtedly laughing at Tori's stupidity, but she was still laughing. It wasn't her usual malicious snark, either. Just a nice laugh; it made Tori beam. That hurt her split lip but it was worth it. It really was. "I'm glad you're enjoying laughing at my pain," Tori called over her shoulder.
"Wouldn't be a regular day if I weren't," Jade shot back. She suddenly hissed and mumbled a curse word. Jade's hand retracted immediately but she'd already done the damage. Stupid hot pan. What was it with her and picking up hot pans?
"Are you okay?" Tori asked in concern. She had turned to watch Jade and looked worried. Jade ran her hand under some cold water and shook her head.
"Seriously? You're asking me if I'm okay? It's just a burn, Vega. You're the one who's all fucked up," Jade said, laughing to herself. God, sometimes Tori's heart was too big for her own good. Worthless hearts.
"I guess that wasn't the good kind of pain," Tori said under her breath. Jade either missed that or chose to ignore it. Within a few minutes, Tori had her tacos for breakfast at ten in the morning. Jade never ate breakfast, and she'd already sucked down an entire pot of the Vega's nice coffee. But when Tori looked up at her with those stupid, sad eyes and asked if she'd eat too, Jade couldn't exactly say no. She even toned down her yelling when she decided Tori was crunching her taco too loudly.
"And then I decided that Robbie was a really bad kisser, which was good because that's what my character was supposed to decide too! It really ended up working out though because I slapped him and Sikowitz was glad. Class really isn't the same without you two," Cat finished, finally taking a breath. She had her legs over the back of the couch, her back on the cushion, and was hanging upside down off the edge. Jade was working on her laptop in the dining area, and Tori was sitting next to Cat on the couch with her leg propped up on the table and her arm back in its sling. It was so hard to only have one hand, even if it was the dominant one.
"I'm sorry we're not in class, Cat," Tori said sadly. She was licking the frosting off one of the twelve red velvet cupcakes Cat had brought over for her.
"It's okay," Cat said cheerfully, smiling up at Tori as best she could from that angle. "I can just hang out here for the rest of the night to catch up."
"No!" Jade screamed, never tearing her gaze from the laptop.
Cat pouted and Tori rolled her eyes. "Don't mind her. She's just cranky because she got no sleep."
Cat rolled off the couch with a grunt. Then she sprang back up onto it, right side up this time, and fixed Tori with a serious look. "Is she treating you all right?" Cat asked. Tori almost smiled at how caring and serious Cat's brown eyes looked. They were rarely ever completely focused, and it was nice to be the object of that focus.
Cat glanced over at Jade curiously. "Really? One time she took care of me when I had a really bad flu and somehow I woke up in my front yard…"
Tori folded up her now-empty cupcake liner and kept her eyes on Jade. "Well, she practically carries me down our stairs so-"
"She what?" Cat asked - practically screamed.
Tori jumped and then winced out an "ow". Jade was by her side in an instant with a firm glare for Cat. "What did you do? I told you that you couldn't say more than five words or raise your voice-"
"I didn't mean to! She caught me off guard." Cat pouted.
Tori raised an eyebrow. "You cannot limit Cat to five words, Jade."
"Sure I can. I told her to behave or I'd kick her out. You woke up with a really bad headache, Vega; we don't need to add to that."
"Oh my God," Cat mumbled through a mouthful of cupcake. She was staring wide-eyed at Jade. It was unnerving, really.
Jade scrunched her face up and shared a brief look with Tori. "What?"
"You care about her! You're really taking care of her!"
Jade's mouth moved wordlessly and she looked appalled. Tori was momentarily amused by seeing a speechless Jade. Then she wasn't.
"Wait, what? N-No, Cat. Trust me. Jade's doing this because she has to. I can't use crutches because of my hand so she helps me down the stairs," Tori explained.
Cat smiled wanly. It was hard to smile when Jade looked like she was about to rip her hair out. "All I'm saying, Tori," Cat said deviously as she got up and slowly made her way towards the front door, "is that when Beck broke his arm, she wouldn't even carry his books for him." She let out a squealing laugh as Cat ducked from the pillow Jade chucked at her. Her pointed look in Tori's direction was not missed before Cat wisely left the Vega residence.
Tori licked some frosting off another cupcake while steadily watching Jade. Jade let out a growl and then headed upstairs without another word. Tori was stuck on the couch, which really sucked because she needed to waz. And she wanted some milk. And what had that even been about, anyway?
Tori had been dreaming about a saw. Sort of. She'd been performing some new song with Andre, and she'd been doing it in a wheelchair. Still, she looked hot and she'd been rocking it when all of a sudden the sound of a saw interrupted her song.
"Is someone tearing down the school?" Andre had asked right before Tori started awake.
"Jade?" she whispered into the darkness, squinting. A black outline jumped just as the sound of a small saw stopped.
"Yeah," Jade responded coolly.
Tori tried to adjust her eyes to the darkness. "What are you doing? …Do you have a power saw?"
"It's just the mechanical saw you guys use to cut your turkey with on Thanksgiving, Vega."
There was silence in the room, and the only thing that could be heard was the wind outside playing over the crickets chirp. Then Tori screamed. "Murderer! I knew it! Oh my God, you're finally doing it! You waited until I got comfortable with you and then you-"
"Shut up!" Jade bellowed. She flipped on the lamp on Tori's nightstand and crossed her arms over her chest with the knife still in her hand. "I'm not trying to kill you. Do you really think I'd use a mechanical knife for that?"
"I don't know!" Tori cried out. She desperately tried to squirm out of bed, but only ended up wincing in pain and needing Jade to drag her back under the covers. "What in the chiz were you even doing?"
"I was trying to get this stupid cast off your leg," she explained. Jade dropped the knife onto Tori's floor and ran her hands through her disheveled bed-head hair. "What were you doing?"
"I was sleeping because that's what normal people - No! Jade, why were you trying to saw my cast off? Just because you didn't want to sign - or look at - anything hot pink doesn't mean you-"
"Do you ever stop talking?" Jade snapped. She eyed Tori carefully. It hadn't even been a week, but Tori was looking a little better. She already had back the fire in her eyes, and it was only when Jade caught Tori in the middle of the night that she could still see the broken girl behind the bruises. Her split lip had split open again from yelling at Jade. That probably hurt. Oh well. "Be quiet for two whole minutes and let me talk."
Tori grudgingly nodded her head and lied back down on her pillow. Jade plopped down on the floor next to the bed. "When Beck broke his arm he itched like crazy under the cast. It was so wazzing annoying because I constantly had to help him stick that wire hanger underneath and scratch. I figured this time I would just kill two birds with one stone. I was going to saw open the casts and put some anti-itch cream in there." Jade held up a yellow tube and smirked. "I found this in Trina's locked makeup trunk. Anyway, I was also going to get some awesome pictures of the damage to use for later."
"Oh my God."
"What? Why are you looking at me like that? You're freaking me out. I swear to God, Vega, I'll pick up that knife again."
"You do care about me!" Tori accused. She pointed a finger from her non-broken hand at Jade with a wide grin. "Cat was right!"
"Cat's a freak," Jade said, her lips tight together. She abruptly stood up, picked up the knife, and turned to leave.
"I knew it," Tori sing-songed. Jade snarled over her shoulder and slammed Tori's bedroom door shut so hard that it rattled the doorframe. Jade really needed to start spiking Tori's food with more medicine so she passed out more often. And she needed to get a shock collar for Cat so she could shut her up whenever she wanted to.
"Jade's got a pretty cool signature," Andre murmured. It was Friday and the gang was hanging out at the Vega house. Tori had her leg propped up in Andre's lap at his request. Something about him wanting to write the notes of a "get well" song onto her leg cast. Tori pushed up the glasses on her nose, winced as that made her bruised eye hurt, and glanced at him curiously.
"Her signature. It's cool. I'd never seen it before," Andre said, shrugging it off. He was already onto drawing out the notes since he'd found a clear spot on the hot pink cast. Cat and Tori exchanged a look. Cat army crawled over to Tori on the floor and then they both peered over to see what Andre had been talking about.
Tori's eyebrow slowly raised and she shook her head. "She signed it."
"Must have been when you were asleep," Cat added with a solemn nod. "That way you wouldn't know."
"But Jade took an oath to never touch anything pink," Beck stated as he leaned over the couch to look at the signature. The thick black marker definitely stood out on the neon cast.
"I gave that demon a pink flower once and she shoved it in a place that we never speak of," Rex said. He and Robbie had joined the crowd. Tori would've found it funny if she weren't desperately trying to think back to when Jade could have done this.
"You do realize I'm in the room, right?" Jade snapped. She chucked a water bottle at Robbie's head for good measure, and then stomped over to the couch. The group quickly went back to their respective seats and Tori looked up from Jade's boots to her eyes.
"Wha? Jade, when -"
"Shut it," Jade whispered. Her eyes widened, and Tori knew she was trying to look menacing, but she looked more nervous than anything. "It's time to take your pain pills."
"But I'm not in pain right now," Tori argued obliviously. Jade growled through gritted teeth.
"Jade must have seen the pain deep in your eyes, Tori," Cat joked through a smile. "Since she cares about you and all."
Rex laughed heartily from Robbie's lap and Andre snickered. "Jade's just trying to get you to overdose, Tori," Andre added. "I say stay down here with us and live."
"I say," Jade bit out, "waz off, Andre. I'm taking care of Tori. If I really wanted her dead then she'd be dead by now."
"Yeah, you proved that when you sent her outside last week," Beck mumbled. Jade's eyebrow rose and Tori was scared of her then.
"Uh oh! I feel a sudden pain coming on. Let's go take that medicine!"
"Will you just admit that you consider me a friend?"
"Why does it matter so much to you?" Jade yelled. "Why is that the one thing you're always trying to get me to say? Why do you even care if I hate you or not?"
Tori slumped back against the toilet as she sat on the closed seat. Her pout was deafeningly loud. "I can't stand having someone not like me. Everyone likes me!"
Jade stilled. The hand that held the pill bottle slammed onto the counter as her back turned stiff. "So, that's what all this is about?" Jade questioned as she turned her eyes onto Tori. "Little Miss Perfect just cannot stand having someone not like her! It has nothing to do with me at all?"
Tori furrowed her brow and donned a confused expression. "It has everything to do with you, Jade."
"Yeah, but if I were someone else, if I were some random kid who didn't like you, you'd act the same way? You'd still be desperate for their approval?"
Tori blinked her eyes in confusion. She had no idea what Jade was getting at. Her eyes drifted down to the pill bottle that was being brutally squeezed by Jade's hand. Then she thought about the piggyback ride Jade had given her up the stairs, the same as she always had. It was Tori's only mode of transportation until she could use her crutches. Then she thought about how she'd managed to talk Jade down in the living room long enough for no one to get mangled. Then Tori shook her head.
"Well, no. I mean, I like you, Jade. This is definitely something that happens to be on a personal level," Tori explained as if she were just realizing this for the first time, which she was. It's not like Tori had ever really dug deep into a psychoanalysis of Jade's mind. That didn't seem like something safe to do. But sure. It was all Jade. "I want you to acknowledge that we're friends because I think of you as one of my best friends. It's hard to have that sort of…"
"Unrequited-" Jade supplied, and Tori obliviously cut her off before she could add another word.
"Friendship! Yeah! That sort of unrequited friendship. Believe it or not, you mean a lot to me, Jade." Tori's brown eyes glazed over momentarily as she felt a stab of pain in her leg.
Jade's dark eyes watched her intently. They were studying her and seemingly pulling Tori apart at the seams. It was like Jade was crawling inside of Tori through the cracks of her realization in search of something. Tori wasn't sure if she found it, but just as quickly as Jade started, she stopped. "Take your damn pill, Tori."
"Out," Jade said blandly.
The group had stayed for dinner - uninvited by Jade but insisted on by Tori - and then had watched a movie about wild flowers. It had been Robbie's choice, seconded only by Cat. Jade had perched herself on the couch by Tori with the excuse of monitoring how much dinner she ate. It wasn't a complete lie, though. Jade needed to make sure Tori ate enough so she didn't get sick off her pain pills. But she just liked being close enough to Tori to make sure she was okay. It was her job, after all.
"Do we have to go?" Cat asked. She swung her legs and pouted at Jade. "My brother can't pick me up yet!"
"It's midnight and Tori's asleep," Jade stated, rather unnecessarily. Everyone had been watching with rapt attention as Tori had slowly slumped over sideways until she was sound asleep against Jade's shoulder. Beck and Andre had exchanged worried looks and Andre was two seconds away from moving Tori before Jade exploded when Jade did something even more terrifying: she covered Tori with the blanket they'd been keeping on the couch. No one was sure if Jade had been ignoring their questioning looks or had just been oblivious, but the incident wasn't mentioned.
"I'm not asleep," Tori suddenly slurred. She opened her eyes but didn't move her head. "Did I miss the documentary?"
"Yeah," Jade answered curtly. "It's bed time."
"Wait," Cat said suddenly. She jumped up and elbowed Andre. "We'll take her up and get her ready for bed."
"Yeah we will!" Andre cheered. His mouth snapped shut and he shrunk in size as Cat and Jade turned their glares onto him. "I mean, I'll carry her and then slowly back out of the room, you know. Like a gentleman."
Cat and Andre had Tori upstairs before Jade could bitch about it, and Jade was suddenly face-to-face with Beck and Rex. "Oh God, what did I do now?"
"What did you get me away from Jade to talk about?" Tori asked. She was sitting on the edge of her bed as Cat was rifling through her clothes for some pajamas.
"How did you know that's what I wanted? Maybe I just wanted to pick out pretty pajamas for you to wear," Cat shot back over her shoulder.
Tori smiled faintly. "Cat, I know you better than that and I know you're lying."
"What's that supposed to mean?" Cat snapped. She turned away from the drawer and ran a hand through her bright red hair. The hand stilled in her hair and she laughed. "Oh, right. I was lying, actually." Cat giggled again and then went back to searching Tori's drawers. "I knew you'd know I was lying. But I wanted to talk to you about what's going on between you and Jade."
Tori squinted her eyes and wondered if she'd heard Cat right. "Jade Jade? Like, the Jade that's downstairs?"
"What do you mean? There's something going on between us?"
"You mean you don't know?"
"I know I'm getting a headache," Tori groaned out. She ran her good hand through her long hair, messing it up even more. "Are you trying to tell me that there's something going on between me and Jade? Cat, it's not like that. You know she had to take care of me."
"There's a difference between taking care of you and caring for you," Cat pointed out as she walked towards Tori with an old t-shirt. At Tori's shocked look, Cat frowned. "Sorry. Whenever I eat strawberries I tend to become really wise, and I ate a lot of strawberries with dinner."
"Jade's just my friend, Cat," Tori said, her voice muffled as Cat helped her switch shirts. Cat stayed quiet as they put on Tori's brown pajama bottoms.
"Is it safe?" Andre called from the hallway.
Tori laughed. "Yeah, come on in!"
"So, I agree with Cat," Andre said nonchalantly as he strode into Tori's room.
"Of course you do."
"Hear Lil' Red out. I think she's got a point, which is pretty rare in itself."
"It is," Cat solemnly agreed. "Okay, look. Jade took an oath to never touch pink and yet she signed your cast. She signed both, in fact. She actually carries you upstairs because you can't walk very well. She cooks you whatever you want to eat and she never leaves your side."
"She's scared Lane will call the cops on her," Tori pointed out.
"Jade knows Lane can't do that," Andre said with a shake of his head. "That girl didn't do anything wrong enough to get her in trouble with the law. Jade knows his threats are as hollow as Sikowitz's coconuts."
"Coconuts are hollow?"
"During dinner Jade made sure you had enough food first before anyone else could get any," Cat added.
"And then there was the shoulder thing…" Andre said, trailing off and looking uneasily to the side. "That tripped me out."
"What shoulder thing?" Tori quickly asked. She looked at Andre and then Cat. "What shoulder thing?"
"You fell asleep on her shoulder and Jade didn't explode," Cat explained, "She just like, covered you with a blanket."
Tori let out a laugh. Then a yawn. "I've fallen asleep on her before. She doesn't get mad. I think she does it on purpose, actually. You know, spiking my food with pain pills so I'll pass out. Anyway, I don't get what the big deal is. Jade doesn't like me like that. She's just doing her job."
"You're a moron."
"Jade, he has a point!"
"And you're a bigger moron for going along with this." Jade's glare was enough to snap Rex's mouth shut when he looked like he was about to say something else. "I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, so why are you on my back?"
"We're not on your back, Jade," Beck argued. He threw his hands up and groaned loudly. "We're trying to have your back. We're trying to be supportive here!"
"Have my back on what? Jesus - Would you just leave? You're pissing me off and I just remembered Tori needs to take her second antibiotic," Jade snapped. She had heavy bags under her eyes from a lack of sleep so severe that not even her dark eyeliner could hide it, and that made her look even more menacing than normal. It wasn't exactly easy listening to Tori thrash around in the night from nightmares, even from downstairs on the couch through headphones.
"The queen of ganks does have a soft spot," Rex suddenly spoke up from Robbie's knee, "and its name is Tori Vega."
"You care about her," Beck stated knowingly, his voice soft.
"I do not," Jade fiercely bit out.
"She does not," Tori grumbled. "This is so stupid!"
"She cares for you," Cat declared in a sing-song voice. When Tori opened her mouth, Cat pointed a firm finger at her and narrowed her puppy-dog like eyes. "Jade cares for you. The end."
"The end is right." Jade came strolling into the room with murder in her eyes after not missing anything Cat had just said. "Out. Now. Beck is waiting downstairs to take you home. Andre, I don't know how you're getting home, but just leave."
Tori was exhausted, and that was why she was, for once, grateful of Jade's ability to get everyone to clear a room.
"Bye, guys!" Tori said, mustering up as much cheerfulness as she could. The cast on her wrist was itching like crazy and she really needed another pain pill.
"Stay sitting up," Jade mumbled to her. Tori scoffed; as if she could go anywhere on her own. Stupid crutches needing two hands to use. Stupid broken wrist and hand. Stupid Northridge kids.
"Well, that's not a very pretty face." Tori looked up as a sense of déjà vu washed over her.
"You looked deep in thought about something stupid, I'm sure. I don't know, but you looked like you really had to waz. You don't, do you?"
Tori's face scrunched up in disgust. "Just give me my pills."
"If I didn't do it the first time, what makes you think I'll do it this time?"
Jade rolled her eyes and handed Tori her nighttime pills just to shut her up. She dropped into Tori's desk chair and silently watched her swallow them down.
There was a period of silence between them that surprisingly wasn't uncomfortable. Like, at all.
"What did Cat and Andre want to talk to you about?" Jade asked, doing a horrible job of faking nonchalance.
Tori cleared her throat and shrugged while doing an even worse job at looking nonchalant. "Oh, you know, nothing."
"Jade! Why do you even care?" Tori shot back.
Jade sputtered through a scoff for longer than usual before abruptly standing up. "I don't care! Got it, Vega? You do know that, right? I. Do. Not. Care." Jade lied through her teeth, and not even about the stupid question, at that.
Tori saw right through the lie. Even Cat could have; it was that bad. "Oh, I got it," Tori said, trying her best to mock Jade. It fell flat, though, and Jade had yet to leave.
Another silence stretched between them, but that time it was uncomfortable. Unspoken words and their lies hung in the air. Jade felt the weight of her stupid, meager, shouldn't-matter-this-much lie on her shoulders. She wondered which made her angrier: The fact that Tori hadn't bought her lie, or the fact that saying she didn't care about Tori Vega was now a lie.
"Don't wake me if you need anything," Jade snapped over her shoulder.
"Oh, trust me; I'd rather die than need you for anything, Jade."
Jade's hands clenched into fists as she slammed Tori's bedroom door shut and stomped downstairs.
Tori glared at the door, and then all of the hot air left her body in one long whimper-sigh. It was a pathetic sound and ended with Tori dropping her head onto the pillow. Tori didn't want to fight with Jade. She just wanted to be. To be with Jade. Hm. Her eyebrow perked up and she cocked her head to the side on her pillow. To be with Jade would be such a good way to be; if only Jade would just be with Tori without fighting tooth and nail. It's not like Tori thought Jade loved her or something stupid like that. She'd just wish Jade would let her guard down around her.
It's not as if Jade hadn't been doing that the whole time she had been taking care of Tori. It really had been such a long week, but a good one. Jade had become so comfortable around Tori that she'd let her guard slip more than once, and Tori had gotten to see that Jade wasn't as mean as she portrayed. Sure, she was mostly mean and cold, but she could be a lot less mean. Those were good times. But now that their friends had noticed Tori assumed those moments would vanish altogether.
Which really, really sucked. Really, it did, because Tori had developed quite the crush on that Jade. It was going to be hard to see that Jade go away again.
"Stupid Vega," Jade muttered to herself. She was sitting on the Vega couch, her makeshift bed, stewing in anger. All of their friends were idiots. She didn't care about Tori! Jade had to do this because Lane would have made her life Hell if she hadn't. And, sure, yeah, maybe Jade felt guilty about the whole incident. She had been the one to talk Tori into going outside that night. Although, it hadn't been her fault that Tori had been stupid enough to do it.
Or maybe Tori just had a big heart; a little too big for her own good and she hadn't been thinking about herself.
No, that's stupid as hell. Tori was just dumb. Jade nodded to herself after reaching that conclusion. She was reasoning with herself, but it wasn't coming easy. So what if she cared about Tori? It's not like Jade wasn't capable of having feelings. She just didn't choose to show them like every other moron did. Jade wasn't going to cry in public like Cat…or Robbie. And she certainly wasn't going to show affection in public like Andre or Tori. That's why she and Beck had worked so well; neither of them let their emotions show. Well, Jade showed anger, but that was just because she hated everyone.
Except, over that stupid week of taking care of Tori, Jade had really started to hate her less. Maybe even to a point where she… Jade swallowed back bile and shuddered visibly. Maybe she didn't even hate Tori anymore. "Oh, God," Jade said through a deep groan. What had her life come to? A joke, basically. This was her life now. One big, stupid joke. She was the clown now, and everyone knows clowns don't bounce when they fall. And maybe Jade had been really, really stupid and let herself fall. Maybe Jade had been stupid enough to not look out the damn airplane doors because she'd been distracted by tacos at nine a.m. and making fun of crappy day time shows while eating stupid sushi balls. Jade hadn't been paying attention and she'd become some stupid clown in a joke of a play that demonstrates just how clowns really don't bounce when they fall.
They really don't.
Jade got woken up by a very obnoxious crashing sound. God, as if she hadn't slept shitty enough. She groaned, tossed her blanket over her head, and tried to ignore it. Failure. "What in the fu - Tori?"
"I'm fine, thank you," Tori called from the bottom of the stairs.
Jade watched in amusement as Tori struggled to get up. That is, until she realized that Tori had just fallen down the stairs for some reason. The very-much broken Tori that Jade was supposed to be taking care of and not letting fall down the stairs. Then she just groaned in annoyance. "What in the hell are you doing?" Jade quickly got off the couch and padded over to Tori.
"What does it look like?" Tori snapped back. She attempted to have a biting tone, but that wasn't something that Tori was really good at. Jade just rolled her eyes and tried to push some of her hair out of her eyes. Friggan bed-head.
"What were you thinking, you moron? You have broken bones," Jade said, enunciating as if she were speaking to a child. "This is why I get you down the stairs every morning."
"Well maybe I don't want you doing that anymore," Tori weakly argued. Jade arched an eyebrow in genuine confusion, and Tori looked up at her with pursed lips and a scoff. "You made it perfectly clear last night that you don't care about me, and so maybe I'm just tired of being taken care of by someone who helps me. I don't want to burden you."
While Tori had been rambling, Jade had gotten her arms around Tori's waist and was hoisting her onto her back. "Maybe I just want to fend for myself and take care of myself! I am a big girl, you know. A big girl who is perfectly capable of making it down the stairs. I just used a quicker method."
Jade had Tori piggy-backed at that point and was heading to the couch. "Yeah, okay. Are you gonna shut up yet?"
"Oh my God. Just lie back down and let me go get some pills to shove down your throat."
"But I would choke!"
"I would love that," Jade said sincerely. She turned and was headed to the kitchen when Tori's voice cut her off.
"And besides, butt jerk, I already took my pills."
Two things made Jade stop in her tracks and narrow her eyes in confusion. Butt jerk? "What do you mean you took your pills?" she asked, turning on her heel and arching an eyebrow. "What did you take?" God, was the sun even up yet? No. No it was not. Maybe this was just a nightmare.
Tori blinked slowly up at Jade. "The uhm, one from the orange bottle and one from the purple bottle." Definitely a nightmare.
Jade studied Tori carefully. The idiot. "You took your two different types of pain killers, idiot. No wonder you're so looped out. I mean, really? Butt jerk? You are seriously like five years old. Lie down and go back to sleep. It's too early for me to deal with you."
"I don't have to listen to you," Tori declared with a loud scoff. "For I am the swan queen, and because of that…I win." Jade slowly raised her eyebrows and nodded.
"Is that so?"
Tori woke up three hours later tangled up in the blanket Jade slept with on the couch and her face buried in Jade's pillow.
"You better not be drooling on my pillow," Jade said indifferently. Her feet were kicked up on the ottoman and she had the TV on low. Her laptop was in her lap, and she'd been attempting to work on a play. Really, she'd put in a valiant effort. But Tori kept breathing weird and Jade had ended up paying more attention to her than her stupid play. How could Tori have been so dumb? She could have died or something. Maybe not. Whatever. Jade wasn't a friggan doctor.
"This is my spare pillow," Tori pointed out. Her head was killing her and her mouth felt dry. She had her eyes squeezed closed against the material of the pillowcase Jade had been using all week. "Your shampoo smells really nice."
Jade raised an eyebrow. "Are you still stoned?"
"Ah. Never get hung-over, Vega. Get up and eat some food."
"No. Leave me to die."
"I'm not allowed to do that, remember?" Jade responded as she got off her chair. "Otherwise I wouldn't have stuck around all week. Up."
"Okay," Tori whimpered.
Jade scrunched up her face and shook her head. "Don't fucking do that."
"Don't cuss so loudly," Tori groaned. She squeezed her eyes closed tighter when she felt Jade's arms slid underneath her. She picked Tori up like she was nothing and took her into the kitchen.
"I'll cuss as loudly as I want to," Jade mumbled, considerably lower in volume than her previous statement.
Tori smiled against her better judgment. What day was it, anyway? She didn't even know. Their time together had sort of blurred into one big event. Despite the situation and the pain, however, Tori was kind of thankful that it had happened. Being beat up had kind of really sucked, sure. But spending time with Jade hadn't. She knew Jade would go back to hating her once they were back in school, but it seemed that day, Jade was still being her Jade.
"I'll make you some cream of wheat."
"I hate cream of wheat," Tori said.
"So, I can leave tomorrow."
Lane smiled tightly at Jade and nodded. "You can. Trina and Mr. and Mrs. Vega will be back tomorrow evening. I would let you leave earlier but-"
"No, that's okay," Jade quickly cut in. She and Tori were sitting next to each other on the couch. Tori was wrapped up in Jade's couch blanket and Jade had put a pillow behind her back so Tori could sit up easier. Jade was just in sweats with her legs crossed. It was the day she hadn't realized she'd been dreading until Lane had shown up at Tori's door that evening. "I'm uh...I mean I'm used to taking care of Vega now so. My schedule was cleared for me, as you know, so I can stick around one more day."
Lane suspiciously studied Jade. Then he turned to Tori and Jade rolled her eyes. "Are you okay with this, Tori? Has Jade been taking care of you?"
Tori didn't hesitate to nod and smile. A genuine smile. "She has. You'd be surprised, Lane. I couldn't have made it through this week without her."
Jade subtly cocked her head towards Tori and looked at her through her peripherals. Tori glanced back and they shared a very brief smile. Then Lane interrupted. "Well, if you're sure. I'm really glad to hear you're doing better, Tori. The kids who did this to you still haven't been identified, but let's not give up hope!"
Jade scoffed at his insolence. Then she blandly asked, "When they catch them, can I light them on fire?"
Tori shook her head. "You cannot."
"I wasn't asking you."
"You're a better person than that, Jade. Revenge is not the answer."
"Why are you still talking?"
"Because you're still listening."
Jade set her jaw and turned back to Lane. "Scratch that. Can I light myself on fire?"
Lane let out a laugh. "You two bicker like an old married couple."
Tori and Jade both whipped their heads around to glare at the other. Jade sneered and Tori rolled her eyes.
"Can I take back what I said about staying through the last day?"
"I don't think I want you to leave."
Jade was hunched over her duffle bag, filling it with clothes, and her back stiffened. An eyebrow arched. "Excuse me?"
Tori was lying on the couch, her leg propped up on a pillow and her arm held up by her sling. Her free hand was absently stirring a bowl of oatmeal that Jade had made for her. It was three a.m. that Friday night, and for reasons neither of them wanted to admit, neither of them were asleep. "Did you take extra drugs again?"
"No," Tori pouted. "God, never mind."
Jade rolled her eyes and let out a loud sigh. Her annoyance was only half an act, which technically annoyed her more. There was a constant game of 6 degrees of separation going on when it came to Jade and things in the world that annoyed her. "Gotten used to my company, eh, Vega?"
Tori lifted her eyes from her pink bowl and fixed them on Jade's back. Jade felt it. Instead of sneering or groaning, Jade laughed quietly. "Yeah. I get it. I, uh, I'm gonna miss…having free reign of your house and shit."
With concentrated effort, Tori managed to put her bowl onto the coffee table and snag the back of Jade's sweatshirt with the same hand. She tugged lightly, and Jade turned around with a groan. As soon as Jade's eyes locked on Tori's she groaned again. "Don't go getting all sentimental on me. You know we're still not-"
"Friends. Yeah, I know," Tori said softly. She chewed her lip and glanced around the room before letting out a nervous laugh. "No, we're not friends."
Jade studied Tori's face and looked skeptical. Her eyes narrowed on Tori as if she knew where she was going with this. "And we'll never be friends."
"Of course not."
"Because I hate you."
Tori laughed and met Jade's eyes. "Really? After all this? Besides, shouldn't I be the one hating you? I am immobile and covered in bruises because of you."
Jade licked her teeth and wetted her lips as guilt spread across her rolling eyes. "Yeah, whatever. You were stupid enough to-"
"Believe you, yeah, I know."
Tori wasn't sure how far she should push Jade, but it was admittedly quite fun. Besides, in all of the time they'd spent together, Tori had somehow taken - and gotten away with - far more liberties in pushing Jade's buttons. It wasn't like something had shifted in their relationship, per se. It was more of the fact that something they had both been desperately fighting had been allowed to escape for that week.
Jade ran a hand through her black hair - streaked with red that day - and sat down next to Tori's head on the couch arm. "I never really uh, really apologized for that."
Tori kept her eyes on the front door since she couldn't crane her neck that far around to see Jade. She smiled. "Don't. Seriously. Let's call it even."
Jade's face scrunched up in confusion as she studied the top of Tori's head. "Even?"
"I kissed Beck."
"I poured coffee on your head."
"I took the roles you wanted in plays."
"I kicked you off a chair, pushed you off a twenty-story building, smacked you so hard you fell off a couch backwards -"
"Prome," Tori interrupted, holding up her finger.
Jade's eyes glanced to the side in thought and a smirk played on her lips. "You're right. We're even."
Tori's face scrunched up and her eyes closed as she threw her head back and laughed. Her eye was still bruised and her lip was mostly healed, but Jade still thought she looked strangely pretty. A small smile tugged at her lips while she watched Tori laugh. Then she scowled.
"So, we're even then. That means I can-"
"No," Tori groaned loudly, extending the word in her whine. "Don't ruin it."
"Ruin what?" Jade questioned, affronted.
"The moment! We're having a nice moment. Don't ruin it by saying something mean or insulting. Can't you just for once admit that we get along, Jade? That maybe there's-"
"Something more here?" Jade added hesitantly.
Tori's lips were parted slightly as her eyebrows rose. "I was…going to say maybe there's something redeeming about me after all, but that's true too."
For some reason - and against all proper social constructs for a situation like that - Jade's breathed swear word made Tori grin. "Why the cuss word?"
Jade abruptly made to get off the couch when Tori quickly grabbed the hem of her sweatshirt. "Do you want the damn thing or something?" Jade snapped, quickly weighing the options of shrugging out of the sweatshirt and running or staying in place.
"I want you to come here," Tori said through a laugh.
"I know they didn't hit you hard enough that you became even dumber than usual, Vega," Jade snapped. "I'm already here."
"No," Tori said, shaking her head. "Here, here. Come sit on the floor here so I can see you."
Jade scoffed and folded her arms over her chest. "I'm not going to sit on the floor. I have important things to be doing right now and I'm not going to stand here and let you distract me with your pointless conversation."
"It's 3:30 in the morning!"
Jade grumbled as she sat down cross-legged on the floor by Tori's head. Tori caught her eye, still smiling, before she leaned over and left a lingering kiss on Jade's cheek.
Jade flinched but didn't make any move to pull back. "Jesus, Tori. What the hell was that for?"
"For being here for me," Tori said with a shrug. "For, you know, being yourself around me. I'm trying to keep this as sap-free as possible."
"Well, you're failing," Jade snapped. But the snap held less malice than usual, and Jade didn't even feel like correcting that. She rolled her eyes at seeing Tori's smile. "So, what then? I'm out of here tomorrow and then we go back to school like nothing happened?"
Tori pursed her lips and narrowed her eyes in thought. "I wouldn't say that."
"Then what would you say?"
"I'd say we go back to school on Monday and leave off from here."
"You're not going to kiss my cheek in public, are you?" Jade asked with an upturned nose. "I mean, like, it wasn't terrible or anything. I just don't want people going around thinking that-"
"We're friends, I know."
"No," Jade bit out, glaring at Tori. "I don't want people thinking I'm whipped or something equally as pansy. If you're going to kiss me then do it right."
Tori's surprise melted into a wide smile and a soft chuckle. "You do realize what this means, right?"
"Yeah," Jade said absently. She picked up Tori's oatmeal bowl and began eating what Tori left. "Means you need to take me out on a date."
"I thought you were more of the man," Tori pointed out.
Jade laughed. "You were a terrible husband."
"I was not!"
"Oh, you were," Jade said solemnly. "But whatever. Fine. Mutual date or whatever. I mean, we may go back to hating each other on Monday, you know."
"I never hated you," Tori pointed out.
Jade hummed low in her throat. "That's right. You were always just desperate for my friendship and attention. I see why now."
"Says the girl that drags me into the janitor's closet on a regular basis," Tori mumbled.
Jade put the bowl of oatmeal down and let out a nasty growl from the back of her throat. "Vega, you better watch it. I'll go tell everyone you have a crush on me."
"Who said I had a crush on you?" Tori said, eyebrow raised and smile hidden. For a brief moment Jade looked uncertain. It was so unlike Jade that Tori wasn't sure if she'd really seen it. But just in case, Tori smiled. "Besides, I'll just tell them you carried me up and down the stairs every day."
Jade gasped out, "You wouldn't."
"Oh, I would."
"Like anyone would believe you over me."
Tori shrugged nonchalantly. "Cat might've gotten pictures."
"Cat's been in on this the whole time," Jade mumbled bitterly. "I swear, give that girl some red hair dye and she starts thinking she's cupid."
"Well," Tori pointed out, "She kind of was this time."
"I never said I liked you, Vega."
"So, you're going on a date with me for the free sushi then?"
"And the sub-par karaoke," Jade added while holding up a finger. "Can't leave that out."
Tori dropped her hand off the side of the couch and took Jade's fingers into her own. "Jade."
"Vega," Jade responded with no malice whatsoever in her voice. Her eyes were trained on their hands, and the faintest smile was apparent on her red lips.
"Will you make tacos? You know, crunch the corn shell with me." Tori waggled her eyebrows in an attempt at being seductive, but as always, it failed and ended up being purely comical.
Jade laughed briefly and shook her head. "You're such a freak." Her blue-green eyes lifted to catch Tori's brown ones already staring at her. Jade was known for being able to stare at someone for so long that they made them uncomfortable, but that's not really how she stared at Tori. It actually had the reverse effect on her, and she ended up feeling comfortable just watching her. It was sickening, really. And with all the times she had caught Vega staring at her, Jade assumed Tori felt the same way.
"But you like me anyway."
Yuck. "God, seriously stop saying that out loud."