Title: The Sun's In My Heart
Pairing: Jade/Tori
Rating: R
Length: 12, 000
Spoilers: Tori & Jade's Play Date
Summary: Desperate to get out of the house, Tori spends part of her spring break with Jade.
Warning: Underage drinking, drug use, swearing, sex.

Part Five

"I have something to tell you." She had never seen her parents as tense as they had been at that moment, muscles rigid as they sat at the edge of the other couch despite the fact that they had obviously been trying to keep the worry out of their eyes for her sake. Still, Tori hesitated. Lia was sitting a foot away, close enough for comfort but far enough that Tori still felt she was speaking on her own volition rather than being coerced. "I'm… interested in girls and-"

"Oh, thank God." Her father rose from the couch and ran a hand through his hair while her mother visibly relaxed back into the seat.

"And… I'm glad you're so… happy…"

"Honey," her mother started from her spot on the couch, "when your teenage daughter says she has something she needs to tell you, your mind's gonna jump to the worst possible scenario."

Tori's nose scrunched. "Okay…"

"Tori, I couldn't care less if you dated an alarm clock, but," her father kneeled down in front of her and grabbed her face, "I am too young to be a grandfather."

"You thought I was pregnant?"

"My dad had the same reaction," Lia said from her other side. "Then he told me to give up on boys completely and exclusively date girls until I was out of college so I'd never have to worry about it."

"Yes," Tori's father nodded, still holding Tori's cheeks in his hands. "The British girl clearly knows what she's talking about. Listen to her. Date all the girls you want."

"You're being ridiculous, David," Tori's mother sighed as she reached over to tug on the collar of her husband's shirt until he relented and let go of their daughter's face. Tori watched the wheels turn in her mother's head as her eyes found their way to the blonde girl in the room. "Sorry, I don't think we've met."

"Lia Petrosini," an Italian inflection crept into the edge of Lia's British accent as she introduced herself, her hand extending across to shake Tori's mother's then following with her father's. "I've been courting your daughter."

"Well, it's lovely to meet you. I'm Holly and this is my husband Dave and we're-"

"Really glad you can't get our daughter pregnant," Tori's father interjected, causing both his daughter and his wife to rub their temples.

"Yes, well… you're right not to worry about that, I suppose…"

"She seems great, sweetie," Dave stated abruptly, standing up to head to the kitchen but not before dropping a kiss on his tense daughter's forehead.

"Yes, Lia, it's wonderful to meet you." Tori's mother reached for the remote and flipped on the TV. "Tori, you'll have to distinguish girlfriends from girl-friends so I can know who's who."

"So… that's it?" Tori asked disbelievingly, her eyes skipping from person to person. "I can honestly say that even if I expected the same outcome, this is not how I imagined this would go."

Holly smiled sweetly as her husband returned to his seat next to her, a drink in each hand. "Well, I'm glad you know us better than to upset over something like this. But don't get pregnant. We know we lucked out with getting one daughter who's already her own birth control, but we'd like to not have to worry about you either."

"Relationship question."

"Yes, love?"

"Is it bad that I'm admitting to you that I can't take my eyes off Noah?"

"Hmm." Lia seemed lost in thought despite looking utterly content as she stretched out on her towel, blending in seamlessly with the California bleach blondes that were scattered about. She lifted her sunglasses for a moment to appraise the subject in question, who had been tossing a frisbee with André and earning the attention of every girl within a twenty foot radius. "Normally, I'd say yes, but he does have that wonderful little v-thing at his hips."

"It's hypnotic," Tori concurred, though her eyes left the blonde boy's pelvic region to take in the girl next to her. A deep purple bikini was the only protection Lia had from the bright rays and she filled it out perfectly.

"Don't get too attached. I've tried before; he doesn't seem the least bit interested in experimenting with girls. Such a shame." Even with the dark shades Lia had on, Tori could see blue eyes slowly make their way up the blonde boy's body.

"Is it better with guys or girls?"

Lia's gaze slanted over to Tori; scrutinizing her body the same way she had been Noah's and making the brunette squirm under the attention. "It's subjective, I suppose."

"Well, what do you prefer?"

"It seems to me… girls are more desperate to please, while guys are more desperate in general." The blonde turned on one side, head resting in her hand. "And girls obviously know their way around a little more, but boys have their own unique… ruggedness." Her free hand reached over to play with the bikini string that had escaped from Tori's shorts. "Just their whole… aura of manliness. Makes you feel protected and all that jazz. And there's something to be said about how sexy stubble can fell when you're making out with them."

"You still haven't answered my question." Her voice was foreign and breathy as each brush of the blonde's fingers across her stomach made her muscles quiver, and Lia's eyebrow quirked in response to the reaction.

"When it comes down to it, I suppose I'll go with fairer, gentler, 'better-at-sex' sex." Upon Tori's derisive snort the blonde grinned and leant over the tan girl, planting butterfly kisses on her neck while she defended herself. "I will not be made to feel ashamed about my hormones, Tori Vega."

The sun had just begun to set when Tori found herself in front of the full-length mirror in Lia's room, her hair damp from the shower she had taken earlier in the evening and cheeks flushed from the wine she had been steadily consuming since the dinner Lia's father had prepared for them. They had promised her their most bearable Merlot, having always used a half-cup in their spaghetti sauces, and she drank it without complaint even though she had to put in an effort to not make a face as the dry flavor assaulted her taste buds.

It had been more bearable as the day faded, sipping after every other bite of food had drained her first glass in no time, and then her next, while Lia and her father finished a bottle between them. Her father had an event to attend that evening and when his car had arrived to take him he had left the rest of the second bottle with the girls, pressing a kiss to the side of his daughter's head and saying something in Italian before taking his leave.

Tori's head was heavy by the time she heard the blow-dryer turn off in the adjoining room, her fingers trailing down the exquisitely crafted frame of the antique mirror, the white paint having chipped in some places and added to the charm. She smiled at the sound of the door opening behind her and turned her head to greet a towel-clad Lia.

"How was your shower?"

"Lovely. I'd marry that showerhead if I could." Tori turned back to admire the wood frame, her nails slipping across the grooves carved into it. Lia's skin was artificially cold from the air-conditioning as she wrapped her arms around Tori's waist, her lips ghosting over the Latina's skin as she spoke. "I'd want to stare at you all day too, I suppose."

Tori laughed and leaned back into her. "It's a gorgeous mirror. The wine is making me appreciate it more."

"It was my mother's. Passed on from her mother and her mother's mother. I suppose I'll have to pop out a girl in a few years so she can inherit the thing." Her chin landed on Tori's shoulder, hands scorching across the gap of skin between Tori's shirt and shorts and making the brunette shiver.

Tori took a generous sip of her wine before setting the glass down; willing her body to react normally again to Lia's smile and touches like it had that afternoon. She accepted the lips on her own when Lia leaned over for a kiss, she responded accordingly when Lia stepped around her shoulder to face her and kiss her more deeply, she even lifted her arms to aid in the removal of her shirt, but still, her heart didn't race, her skin didn't tingle, her breathing remained calm and level.

She stopped Lia when the blonde had started to play with the belt cinched around her waist, her conscious feeling heavy as she tried to come up with an excuse, but Lia seemed unruffled. Her fingers instead chose to trail up each of Tori's arms while she continued to kiss her, until she pulled back a moment later, the smile on her face not quite lighting up her blue eyes like they normally did.


"You don't need to make excuses, Tori." She pecked Tori one last time and then pivoted, heading towards the dresser on the other side of the room. "Really. Let's just…" the blonde trailed off for a moment as she dug through her drawers, turning when she successfully found something to change into, eyes locking with Tori's. "Let's just be honest with each other, okay?"

She couldn't have possibly held Lia's gaze after that, but she nodded as sincerely as one could nod. Her coffee eyes landed on the glass she had set down. "I think I had too much wine."

"I've successfully wined you and dined you, then?" A grin broke out on Tori's face despite her heavy heart. "Might be smarter for us to wait on all that anyway, don't you think?" She nodded again and finally looked up to meet blue eyes again as Lia advanced towards her. "Now, just because I can't recline you doesn't mean that we're done with the girl-on-girl for the evening. Just let me change and I'll join you on the couch for the seven-thirty viewing of Imagine Me & You. You must watch the movies of your newfound people, young one."

Tori gave a small laugh, pleasing Lia enough that she received another kiss on the cheek before she left the room to allow the blonde to change, her head feeling weighty and cheeks warm in spite of the constant breeze that blew from the vents. She hadn't even noticed the smile on her face had been forced until she found herself alone in the hallway, relief flooding her as she broke the character she hadn't even realized she had slipped into again.

Everything with Lia seemed too hard for being so easy.

Not thinking about Jade was all that Tori had thought about since their confrontation in the bathroom. The raven-haired girl had become more reclusive as the weeks had gone on, no longer voluntarily associating with her former friends and frequently skipping any of her performance-heavy classes, while seeming to be checked out when she did manage to show up anyway. She still always seemed put together, but there was something inherently out of place. Still, Tori wouldn't allow herself to look closely at the other girl, her attempt at not giving into the obsession she had developed.

Try as she might though, Tori couldn't stop the dreams. The ones that had her waking up with a start, heart racing and stomach tight. On nights when she was too frenzied to think straight, her hand would find its way under her pajama bottoms and desperately try to mimic what Jade had done to her that night in that bathroom, but to no avail. Every time the guilt and frustration proved to be too much for Tori, always earning a pathetic sob and tears that she resented.

Another Friday night found them at another unfamiliar house with another crowd of equally unfamiliar people. Tori could pick out maybe two people she recognized as Hollywood Arts students, but the rest of the faces in the in the array were a mystery to her. With Lia's hand holding her own she found herself tossing back another colorful pill and dancing until her feet ached.

She saw her when the three of them had decided to take a water break. Tori had been leaning against the wall between the blondes she had arrived with, Lia chatting excitedly with one of the girls she recognized from a shoot she had done, while Noah had his back turned to her as he flirted with a dark haired boy from West Hollywood, leaving Tori to scour the room in peace. Jade sat with the now-familiar dopey smile on her face as she leaned back on the couch, apparently telling hilarious jokes judging by the reaction she received whenever she opened her mouth.

A pair of lips pressing against her cheek made Tori tear her eyes away, the fear of having been caught fading when she took in Lia's still-cheerful face. "Going to go talk to some friends for a minute, love."

She had disappeared into the assembly of people before Tori could say a thing, not that she would have anyway. Her heartbeat was rapid, faster than the music that was making the windows rattle, so she turned to find some comfort in Noah's warm smile and bad body spray, only to see he had apparently been successful with his conquest as he was nowhere to be found. Tori stepped out into the hallway and glanced around, then returned to the living room only to find that it seemed like the entire crowd had changed. Jade was no longer on the couch and when she crossed the room and headed in the direction Lia had gone, the blonde seemed to have disappeared too.

Tori stopped in the threshold between the living room and the kitchen, finding it hard to concentrate with people bumping past her. She was thankful for the normal lighting, but the vibrations still seemed to be making her brain rattle in her head. The Latina could feel herself start to panic despite her best intentions to stay calm, leading her to search through the main floor again only to end up frenzied and friendless once more.

Smoke was heavy in the air as she pushed her way out the front door and passed the group of kids with cigarettes, most of who were looking down at their phones while they continued their conversations. The LA air had been humid and heavy and provided her little relief from her overheated skin and racing heartbeat. The smell of smoke had begun to make her feel nauseous, leading Tori around the corner of the house so she could lean back against the wall in peace. Well, as much peace as she could get with a window rattling above her head.

Even with the pounding music and her own labored breathing, Tori had picked up the distinct sound of footsteps on gravel as they crossed the same driveway she just had. She glanced up, assuming it to be someone who was going to interrupt her panic attack by throwing up five feet away from her, but it was Jade who turned the corner, slowing to a stop when she spotted Tori.

"I saw you head over here… you looked lost." Her face was as unreadable as it always seemed to be, but her arms opened when Tori stepped forward and embraced her, pressing her cheek against Jade's own cool one. Relief and a sense of déjà vu had flooded her the moment she saw the other girl, but it wasn't until Jade's hands settled on her back that the tenseness left her muscles and she felt she could relax again.

"I am." Save for the window rattling above them and the distant sound of chatter from the partygoers, it had been quiet while Tori squeezed Jade, who stood without complaint and smelled of smoke. Jade's fingers curled on Tori's back upon her whispered reply, bunching the brunette's shirt in her fists and making Tori swallow in return. Her grip around the other girl lessened and she retreated a whole inch, but she was unable to make herself go farther away. They were still close, dangerously so Tori thought, and one of Jade's hands had relinquished its hold on her shirt to move up to Tori's jaw, holding it softly and making the Latina's breathing increase again.

"Did I torture you?" It was the third time she had asked the question, or a variation of it at the very least, but it lacked the teasing tone it had the previous times. Jade was impossible to read with her glassy eyes but her hand gentle, fingers brushing over Tori's cheek and lips and chin.

"You still are," Tori murmured back the intended joke but it came out like a plea and earned her Jade's gaze, which had been following her fingers journey on their trek across Tori's face. Tori wanted so desperately to kiss her again, to forget about everything for a little while, but even with amphetamine humming through her she couldn't bring herself to close the gap.

Jade's hand slid from Tori's chin down to her neck, palm resting on the racing pulse she found at Tori's jugular, her touch still cool and calming on the brunette's overheated skin. A startling flash of clarity seemed to flash across blue eyes even as Jade's voice remained calm and steady. "I'm sorry."

The sound of gravel crunching stopped her from responding and evidently caused Jade to step away completely, though her gaze remained locked with Tori's. "Oh, thank god." The accent caught her attention before the words and when she looked past Jade's shoulder she found Lia, standing breathless and red-faced, eyes wide with worry. "Noah said he hadn't seen you… I was so afraid something had happened to you."

"I just panicked-"

"Maybe," after her whispered words Jade's voice seemed booming as she turned on heel and began walking away, "you shouldn't drug your girlfriend and then ditch her at a party."

Their ride back to Tori's is quiet after the initial debate on whether Lia was okay to drive them home, though the blonde had been agreed to go considerably slower than she normally would have, as per Tori's request. Tori hadn't known how to even begin to broach a conversation, so she waited until the blonde had decided where she wanted to start. The streetlights flashed as they passed by, giving her half-second glimpses of Lia illuminated in orange, hands tense and reflexively squeezing the wheel.

"I shouldn't have left you." It looked as if she was going to say more but instead she shook her head and looked out the driver's side window.

"It was my own fault, Lia. Really. I shouldn't have freaked out." When Lia didn't respond Tori's eyes fell. "If you're worried that something happened between me and-"

"Tori." Lia shook her head again and they continued once again in mutual silence, the sound of the heat running filling the gap for them until they pulled up in front of Tori's house. When she put the car in park, Lia all but deflated back into her seat. "You're utterly enamored with her, aren't you?"

"Sometimes." She had enough sense to not attempt to lie to the blonde, but still Tori felt terrible responding. She reached over to grab the Brit's hand, earning her a semi-reluctant smile. "I'm enamored with you, too."

Lia brought their joined hands up so she could kiss the back of Tori's, smile morphing into a heart-wrenchingly sad grin. "You don't look at me like you look at her. Which I could deal with if it was just a sex thing, but it's clearly not." Her azure eyes dropped and landed on their clasped fingers when Tori didn't reply. "Are you in love with her, little dove?"

"God, I hope not," she blurted without thinking.

Lia burst into laughter and looked away, a genuine quirk having found its way to the corners of her lips when she turned back to Tori. "Stop making me regret doing the smart thing, Tori Vega."

"Nothing's going to happen with her, Lia. We don't have to break up." Tori looked at her with sincerity in her eyes while she swallowed, trying to express herself in a more meaningful way but coming up short. "I don't want to."

"I think… it's probably for the best, love. I'd rather bow out now and still like you than hold on and resent you for something that you can't help." Lia leaned over and kissed the Latina softly, squeezing her hand when she pulled away. She cleared her throat before continuing with a brave face that was obviously for Tori's sake more than her own. "Now get out of my car so I can go back to that party and drown my sorrows. It'll give us something to talk about when I call you tomorrow."

Tori nodded but her throat was tight with emotion. "I'm sorry, Lia."

"Tori, if it's not working out, then it's not working out. You don't have anything to apologize for. Maybe I'll give you partial blame for the impending hangover I'll receive, but I'm afraid I like you too much to let you be sad over me, as flattering as that is."

"I am sad. I really wanted this to work." She swallowed again before imploring, "You have to know that."

"I do, Tor. So did I. It's just… not."

For the first time in weeks, Tori finally had something she could discuss with André. He had even offered to bring the cocoa when he came over to mourn the loss of his new favorite lesbian couple, and Tori, for the life of her, couldn't believe how normal she felt again. And how unbelievably grateful she was that she could pick up with André so easily again. Even if she hadn't been able to tell him the real reason Lia had broken up with her.

The next week had gone by quietly, both the absence of Jade (who no one had seen at school since the previous Friday) and her cooled down relationship with Lia (who still talked to her every day without fail but no longer sought Tori out like she previously had) huge contributing factors. With neither of them around like they were before, her life felt less daunting than it previously had, allowing her to focus on herself rather than her love life.

Still, Jade's extended absence had left a weight on her chest, and she was sure it would have even if she hadn't gotten involved in a complicated relationship with the other girl. No one seemed to have heard from her – Tori had gone so far as to send Mike a message on his Slap page to see if he'd been hanging out with her, but he had replied saying he hadn't seen her since the party they had gone to on Saturday.

It wasn't until Friday after school that she had heard anything. She had been standing at her locker discussing her homework load for the weekend with Robbie (and Rex) when Lia had approached her looking entirely not like herself.

"Excuse me, Mr. Shapiro, but may I speak with my ex-girlfriend alone for a moment? We need to discuss who's going to get the kids on the weekends."

"I'll leave if you give me the last two digits of your phone number."

"It's been less than a week since we broke up and you're already hitting on my ex-girlfriend?" Tori asked incredulously as she pulled out the textbooks she needed to take home.

Upon Robbie's shrug Lia chimed in. "I'm sorry, Robbie, but while she was on her deathbed my mother made me swear that I'd never date a ventriloquist."


"No, she died in a car accident. She is dead though, which should hopefully make you feel awkward enough to stop trying to pick me up and leave."

Robbie nodded his assent, his usual self-deprecating smile on his face. "You are correct, madam."

"What's up?" Tori asked upon the awkward boy's leave, noticing that Lia wasn't alone when she turned to face her – across the hallway, a disheveled Noah stood leaning against the lockers. She smiled at the blonde boy, but when he looked away immediately she felt the weight settle back in on her chest. "What's wrong?"

"Something happened and before you freak-"

She pushed passed Lia and moved towards the guilty face across the hall. "What happened?"

"She's okay," he mumbled and stepped forward, only daring to glance up at her with sullen blue eyes. "She just had to go to the hospital last night." Tori slammed her hands into his chest, sending him crashing back against the lockers with a clatter and earning them the attention of the few students who still remained in the halls. Noah met her gaze then, with a look that she probably would have found incredibly endearing had the situation been different. "She just… took too much and brought her straight to the ER. She was only there for a few hours before she was released. She's safe and sound at-"

"You promised you wouldn't anymore." Try as she might, it hadn't come out as the forceful accusation she had hoped, but a pathetic whisper. Her hands dropped back to her sides, and the curious bystanders who had been standing out of earshot seemed to lose interest at that and meandered off. Tori glanced over her shoulder at the blonde behind her. "Why didn't anyone tell me?"

"I didn't want to tell anyone over the phone. I thought I'd find you guys when I came to get Jade's homework for her." Noah looked down and kicked at the backpack at his feet. "I'm sorry, kid. I was an idiot."

"Well, we can all agree that Noah is an idiot." Lia appeared beside Tori, bending down to pick the backpack off the floor before she slid her arm the tanned girls slim waist. "But thank god for that bone structure. Tori and I will take her stuff over, love. You look like you could use a nap."

"For some reason, I always expected her house to be next to a cemetery. Or, at the very least, have a little more of an Addams Family kind of vibe." The British girl leaned over the center console in her car to get a better view at Jade's home. "It's odd, isn't it?"

"I shouldn't have gotten mad at Noah." Tori had spent the entire ride to Jade's regretting her blow up involving the blonde boy, allowing her a distraction from what had really been plaguing her mind. "God, why did I get so mad at him?"


"This isn't funny," she whined and smacked Lia's shoulder.

"Darling, you had every right to get mad at him. He enabled Jade to do something that caused her to end up in a hospital. Besides, someone that good-looking needs to be knocked down a peg every once in awhile." A kiss was pressed to Tori's cheek before the blond leaned back and settled comfortably into her own seat again.

Tori sighed but smiled at the feel of the other girl's lips against her. "So, I guess you need to be knocked down a peg, too?"

"I think you've done more than enough damage to my self-esteem, thank you very much." She laughed at the repeated smack to her shoulder. "Stop abusing me. It might be a hate crime, Ms. America."

"You're ridiculous, you know that?"

"No, not approving of free healthcare is ridiculous. Now," the blonde reached into the backseat and heaved the bag of books into Tori's lap, "get out of here before it becomes too maddening to my sensitive ego that I drove you here in the first place, considering we just broke up."

Tori stared at the bag in her lap and then glanced nervously towards the house. "You're not coming in?"

"Are you out of your mind? I'm not exactly her favorite person lately and I just naturally assume that every American owns a gun. Not a winning combination. Besides, she probably doesn't want to see anyone right now anyway." She had reached over to squeeze Tori's arm, sincerity in her eyes and voice as she spoke, "So, you know, good luck with that."

"Thanks," she managed after rolling her eyes, though the sentiment was appreciated considering the potential lion's den she was walking into. After being assured more than once that Lia would be there to pick her up as soon as she was beckoned, Tori slowly made her way to the looming house, only to find herself greeted upon her arrival at the front door.


"It's 'Tori', Mrs. West."

"I knew that, I swear." The blonde woman gave Tori a cheerful smile that seemed so out of place with Jade's teal eyes. "I'm glad you're here, I have a business dinner tonight and I didn't really want to leave my daughter alone – she just got out of the hospital."

"I know. I came to bring her homework." She lifted the backpack to accentuate her point.

"Well, that definitely looks like more than a day's worth, doesn't it? I'm sure she'll be glad to see you... or the exact opposite. Probably the latter," she whispered with a smile, patting Tori's shoulder as she brushed passed and headed towards her car. "Try to make her eat something, will you? I don't know where she got those boobs but I'll be damned if she loses them like this. Lovely to see you again, sweetie!"

Tori blinked and stood motionless until the car had pulled out of the driveway, her mind still heavy with the question of how a woman like that could produce Jade. She supposed her father's drollness had combined with the over-cheerful nature of her mother and had somehow created something angry.

Upon her second walkthrough of the West residence, Tori allowed herself to wander and take in the eerily quiet home while she worked up the nerve to actually seek Jade out. While immaculately decorated, the house seemed impersonal and cold save for the few pictures that were scattered about. It was as if she was walking through a model home, stock photos of a family she didn't really recognize filling space in an attempt to make it feel more 'cozy'.

She knocked tentatively on Jade's door, but pushed through without waiting for an answer – she was sure there probably wouldn't have been one anyway – and found herself squinting as she looked around the room for the other girl. She spotted her when a head popped up from the mountain of covers on the bed, obviously unimpressed by the intrusion of light in her dark space.


Tori almost had, figuring it to be safer to drop the bag and run, but against her better judgment she stepped further into the room and closed the door behind her. She gave her eyes a few seconds to adjust to the light, or lack thereof, before she attempted to move uncertainly through the shadows.

"I brought your homework," she said quietly after swallowing the lump in her throat. She sat down at the foot of the bed as she opened the backpack and began sorting through the books and worksheets, dividing them by whom they belonged to and what class they were from – a task that proved difficult and frustrating when one couldn't see. Tori bit her lip when she heard the sheets rustling above her head, but reminded herself of the spine she had.

"Are you hard of hearing or something? I'm not in the-"

"I'm not going anywhere, so you can lay back down or you can start your homework." She kept her voice casual, which was as much of a white flag as she was willing to show. Tori could feel Jade looming above her but she refused to give in and look back at her. "What do you want for dinner? I could order-"

"I'm not hungry." There was a thump as Jade presumably fell back onto the bed. "Can you just leave? I'm really not up to an annoying visitor right now."

"I don't think you should be alone right now."

"Well, I don't care what you think." It was weird how much Tori had missed that snipped tone. "Get out of my house before I call the cops."

She sighed and picked up one of her textbooks. "Your mom wanted me to stay and make sure you eat. Can we turn on a light? I have to work on my Physics."

"The light gives me a headache and I can't keep anything down, so why don't you go play Holly Homemaker with your girlfriend so I can get some sleep."

With another sigh, Tori dropped the Physics textbook right back into the pile of her homework and stood, walking around to the side of the bed so she could collapse on the mattress next to other girl. Jade grunted as the bed shook but gave no other response to the invasion of her personal space.

"How do you fe-"

"I don't want to talk. I don't want to eat. I don't want to do my homework. I don't want to do anything." Her voice had petered out to a whisper by the end of her sentence, having picked up an almost pleading tone that made Tori glance over to her even though Jade was lying with her back to the Latina.

"Okay," Tori replied quietly as she turned on her own side. She reached out tentatively, intending to smooth a hand down the other girl's back or do something that would be in anyway comforting, but she stopped herself, leaving fingers curling around the duvet on the bed in the space between them.

It was hard to tell how much time had gone by in their little cave, but Tori was sure hours had passed when she finally moved from the bed. Jade didn't react beside her – other than the occasional shiver that ran down her spine the raven-haired girl hadn't moved at all. Tori slipped out of the room, moving as silently as she could across the thick carpet and squinting as she readjusted to the bright lights of the hall. She wandered around the house until she made her way to the kitchen, checking the clock on the stove to confirm the time.

The sun was already setting, but it seemed like Jade's mother hadn't made it back to the house yet, so Tori set upon making the one thing even she couldn't screw up: soup. After spending two hours lying down it felt good just to be walking around again, even if it was just to open a can and dump it in a saucepan. Looking around, Tori couldn't help but notice that it still seemed as if she was in a model home: everything was neatly put away or perfectly on display, leaving the Latina with the uneasy sense that she was making a huge mess no matter what she did to clean up after herself.

She walked carefully up the stairs while balancing two bowls that chattered against the plates she was carrying them on, stopping when she spotted light filtering under Jade's door. It gave her pause to think that Jade was probably just as conflicted about her being there as Tori was herself, but she wanted to be there and, as stubborn as Jade was, she was sure the blue-eyed girl wanted her there too, if only just a little.

"I made soup," she offered softly as she entered, Jade's eyes having snapped to her at the sound of the door creaking. The heavy, gothic-style drapes had been pulled back to let the orange glow of the sunset in, allowing Tori to look at Jade for the first time in a week. The only word she could think to describe her was rundown; her porcelain skin had turned pallid, her eyes had acquired shadows under them, her waistline had shrunk. "It's chicken noodle."

Jade didn't move from her computer chair, her gaze trained on Tori as she cautiously walked over and set the soup down on the desk in front of her before returning to her previous spot at the base of the bed, legs stretched out in front of her. She tried to ignore the stare down and tried even harder to not slurp as she ate her soup.


Tori assumed there was an unspoken second half of the sentence containing the words 'are you here' and shrugged in response to them. "I was worried about you."

Jade seemed slightly taken aback by the reply but she composed herself again. "Who told you?"

"Who do you think?"

"I'm gonna kill that gay blabbermouth," Jade muttered as she wrenched her eyes away from Tori to glare distastefully at the bowl of soup presented before her.

"Are you okay?" Tori asked quietly as she stirred the spoon around her bowl. When she received no response, she tried another route. "Your mom didn't seem too mad."

"Yeah, mom and the prescription amphetamine donuts she takes to work didn't have much to say. Big surprise there." She scrunched her nose and picked up her own bowl, slowly bring a spoonful of soup to her mouth, as if she was waiting for the taste of poison to hit her. "She's an idiot."

"What about your dad?"

It was Jade's turn to shrug. "I think my mom downplayed it. Told him I had the flu or something so he'd take my brother for the weekend. She didn't want to worry him."

"He should be worried though." Another shrug was the reply she was given. "Jade, you… you overdosed."

"And bonding time has come to an end, thank you so much for coming out to play."

"Jade, don't-"

"Seriously, Tori. Why are you even here?" Jade seemed more curious than angry, despite the forced bite in her voice. "Regardless of your bland personality, you have managed to acquire a life of your own. So, why are you wasting it?"

"I was worried about you," Tori repeated in a low tone, trying to remain aloof but surely failing miserably. "It felt like my heart stopped when I heard."

Jade opened her mouth to reply but seemed to swallow the words back down before she could, leaving them in a silence only broken up by the sound of metal clinking against ceramic. When they finished (or in Jade's case, half-finished) their soup, Tori offered to take the bowls down and wash them but Jade shook her head and grabbed them. Tori, with nothing else to do, followed Jade to the kitchen.

"Your house is seriously gorgeous, you know."

"Because yours is a total sty?"

"No, it's just that I expected… I don't know what I expected, really. I never do when it comes to you." Jade gave no retort as she rinsed out the bowls. "Are you sure you had enough to eat? Your mom's worried that you're losing your boobs."

"I am not losing-" Jade stopped midsentence to pull on the collar of her tank top, allowing her to look down her shirt. "God, they are smaller." At Tori's snort, Jade glanced over and gave a small laugh herself. "Shut up, A Cup."

"Hey! I like my A Cups!" Tori defended, her hand slipping under the still-running water so she could flick water at the other girl.

The rest of the night went considerably easier after that, though Tori hadn't found a way to bring up anything vaguely serious with the Jade. Still, it had been nice to even be delegated to small talk for the evening while they tackled their homework. Tori hadn't even realized it was midnight until she received a text from Lia, asking her why her previous messages had gone unanswered and if she needed help.

"I didn't realize how late it was."

Jade glimpsed at her out of the corner of her eye, hand stilling on the worksheet in her lap. "Well, you can stay if you're allowed."

"Okay," Tori replied with a smile. "I'll text my mom and tell her. She's probably still up anyway."

"I wasn't talking about your parents," Jade breathed, oozing of indifference.

"Oh." Tori had sent her message but continued to stare down at her phone, fiddling it in an attempt to distract herself. "Lia and I… aren't."


They had thankfully put music on during their study session, which left something to fill the dead air other than the oppressive weight of everything they weren't saying. Jade stood, so suddenly it made Tori jump and drew her eyes back to the dark-haired girl as she strode across her room to her dresser.


Tori shook her head and stood as well, leaving her homework forgotten on the floor. "It's not your fault."

"I find that hard to believe," Jade muttered as she returned to Tori with sweatpants in hand. A song Tori didn't recognize broke up another moment of silence between them but she held Jade's gaze as confidently as she could, even if she couldn't think of anything to say back. Jade seemed equally at a loss for words. "I'm… gonna take one of my mom's Ambiens. Do you want one?"

Tori nodded and changed quickly as Jade left the room, sliding under the covers and waiting patiently. She had no idea how Jade felt about the admission but the shift in atmosphere was apparent and overwhelming. When Jade returned she gave Tori a small white pill and handed her a bottle of water before heading to her laptop to turn off the music.

"I am sorry. About you and Lia." From her desk she headed to the light switch, flicking it off and bathing them in darkness again. "She's… great."

"She is," Tori agreed with a nod even though she couldn't be seen.

Jade settled into her bed inaudibly. "Goodnight, Tori."

"Goodnight, Jade."

Neither of them fell asleep for hours.

The other side of the bed was empty when Tori woke up, but she immediately knew that Jade wasn't far – the sound of retching echoed from down the hall. Still groggy from the Ambien, she fumbled out from under the covers and staggered down the hall until she found the bathroom. Jade was bent over the toilet breathing heavily, her body giving a violent shake with every dry heave it produced. She seemed to be nearing her end when Tori arrived, falling back against the wall with an exhausted breath, her eyes only opening when Tori pressed a water-cooled cloth to her forehead.

"Thanks," she muttered in a subdued voice as she took the washcloth in her own hands and idly pressed it against her flushed cheeks and neck.

"Jade… are you okay?"

"Define 'okay.'"

"I mean..." Tori slid down next to the pale girl, leaving a comfortable amount of space between them. Trying to find the balance between comforting and smothering with Jade always seemed to be a thin line to cross. "You're not… are you pregnant?"

Jade seemed almost exulted by the prospect but responded with a firm, "No."

"It would… explain a lot of things and-"

"Tori, you're the only person I've done anything with for, like, half a year now, so unless there's something you're not telling me, I'm definitely not pregnant."

"Oh." Tori wiped the sleep from her eyes. "Well, I'm pretty sure I couldn't manage that no matter how hard I tried."

"You're hopeless," Jade muttered as she stood up, dropping the cloth down on Tori's head as she walked by. Tori laughed and threw it back at her before Jade made it out of the room. "Are you coming back to bed?"

They spent the rest of the day on the couch, making their way through the vast movie collection the West family had acquired over the years. Jade revealed that it was the only thing she and her mother seemed to have in common, their love for the classics the only reason they chose to spend time together at all. Jade's mother appeared back at the house around noon, only stopping by to shower and to amusedly press a kiss to Jade's forehead before she was off once again, leaving in a flurry of blonde hair and blue eyes.

Jade blanched at the sight of any food put in front of her, having to rush back to the bathroom at even the smell of toast being made. Tori had internally debated it over and over in her head before calling in support. Noah hadn't taken long to arrive but he seemed relieved that it was Tori answering the door rather than Jade.

"Ginger ale," he held up the bottle Vanna White-style before passing it to her and digging through the pockets of his hoodie and pulling out a small sandwich bag containing two joints, "and some herbal reinforcements."

"Because I'm so sure that's the best thing for someone who's detoxing, right?"

Noah shrugged and pressed the see-through bag into her hands anyway. "It'll help with the nausea. A lot. And it might also help kick start that appetite of hers. Besides, this remedy is au natural, thank you. I doubt Pepto-Bismol can make the same claim."

"Maybe," Tori accepted the bag with a laugh. "She really does need to eat."

"I know – she's totally losing her boobs. I mean, I'm gay and I even noticed."

Again Tori laughed, not even thinking about it before reaching over to hug the disappointingly gorgeous blonde boy. "Thank you for helping me out. Even if you're a total drug pusher." It was Noah's turn to laugh as his toned arms returned the squeeze. "And I'm sorry for getting so mad at you yesterday."

"I more than deserved it, kid." A kiss was dropped to the top of her head. "I wish I wasn't so disturbed by lady bits so I could just date a nice girl like you."

"Trust me, it's not that great. You can ask Lia for some confirmation on that front." She pulled away with a smile and stepped back through the threshold. "You should come in. She's in a pretty good mood considering."

"I think that would probably change if she saw me." His hands slipped away from her when she stepped away so he stuffed them into his pockets as he mimicked her, walking backwards. "And Lia does nothing but sings your praises, little lady. We both agree that we're glad Jade mixed you in, even if you're trouble."

When Jade finally came back down to the living room she was freshly showered and changed, but she still looked pale and uneasy. She raised one eyebrow when she spotted the bottle of ginger ale on the coffee table, and then both when she saw the baggie next to it.

"So did these just appear out of thin air, or…"

"I asked Noah to bring you something for your stomach. This was his solution."

Jade took a minute to consider the information, reaching for the soda and gingerly taking a sip of it before shrugging and grabbing the bag. "Well, as long as it's medicinal."

She left without another word and headed back up the stairs, leaving Tori scrambling to catch up. Jade had already put one of the cigarettes in her mouth when she reached her room, picking up the candle lighter on her bedside table when Tori entered.

"Are you sure that's a good idea?"

"It's probably the safest thing I've done in the last month," Jade replied after she inhaled, her voice strained but still droll. "You know, the first time I ever smoked pot was with André. I don't even remember where he got it from or why it was just the two of us, but we ended up watching Mad Men until the sun came up. Again, no idea why."

"You're such a weirdo." Tori shook her head and walked around to the other side of the bed, collapsing back into the spot she had occupied the night before. "If I don't give you any flak about getting stoned a day after you're released from the hospital, will you tell me what actually happened?"

Jade took another drag as she walked across her room to where her laptop rested, leaning over her desk to open it and turn on some music. Tori kept her eyes glued to the ceiling, short shorts and Jade being a combination she knew she couldn't even attempt to deal with for the time being. So she heard, rather than saw, Jade return to the bed where she mimicked Tori's position.

"I really don't remember," she finally said as her head hit the pillow. "I woke up in the hospital and my mom was crying, which was the first time I've seen her do that since the divorce. And Noah was still there, even though it was probably four in the morning. He told them that he was my cousin so he could stay. Were you really that worried?" Much to Jade's amusement, Tori only response was to snatch the joint from her hand. They proceeded to share it in silence from then on until there was nothing left. "So what happened with you and Petrosini?"

Tori breathed in deeply, slowing letting herself deflate before she answered the precarious question. "It just didn't work out," she replied cautiously as she reached up to run a hand through her hair. "We're still… she's the one who dropped me off here yesterday."

"I still don't get why you came. Or stayed for that matter." Tori looked over to the dark-haired girl as she spoke, but with her blue eyes were closed she was impossible to decipher. Not that she was exactly an open book to begin with. "Guess you missed me."

"I did," Tori blurted out immediately. "I mean... even with… everything that's happened, you're still my friend." She paused. "Ish. The table always felt empty without you there." Jade stretched out next to her but didn't comment, so Tori continued. "It'd be nice to get a sign of what's going on in that head of yours once in awhile."

"My mom's been waiting seventeen years, so I wouldn't hold your breath, Vega."

She laughed despite herself, but let it go after that – a peaceful Saturday night hanging out with Jade was far more preferable to another fight. And as much as she wanted answers to, well, everything, even she didn't want to push Jade too much after the last few days she had.

So Tori didn't press and Jade didn't give, leaving them to enjoy the music for a while until Jade had decided she was hungry later that night. It was a half an hour after that she received some brief acknowledgment from the other girl – the feel of Jade's hand shyly brushing up against hers drew her eyes open and down. The raven-haired beauty's pinkie and ring finger lifted and stretched over, covering Tori's own and making her skin tingle. Other than her wandering hand, Jade gave no indication to even being awake, her eyes had remained closed and her face passive even when Tori's own fingers curled around hers in response.

In retrospect, the Judy Garland song that had come on the moment Jade reached over to her should have given Tori a sense of foreboding, but the butterflies in her stomach had her far too distracted.

I'm always chasing rainbows
Waiting to find a little bluebird in vain

Their Sunday afternoon was spent at the Vega's when Tori insisted on a change of clothes and Jade had become increasingly agitated by the wallpaper in her bedroom. They had slipped up to Tori's room quietly to avoid Trina singing in the kitchen and had been there since, mostly continuing their tradition of hanging out with little conversation while Jade continued to tackle her mountain of homework.

"Sometimes I think you look like Snow White."

Jade, who had previously been sitting next to her intently reading Hamlet for the past hour, was reclining against the pillows behind her while she took a breather from Shakespeare and had opened a solitary blue eye at the comment. "Which Snow White? Because if you say that Disney bitch or, god forbid, Kristen Stewart, they will never find the body."

Tori grinned and looked back down to the blank notepad in her lap. "I don't mean you resemble a Snow White, just what I imagine she would look like."

Another bout of silence followed. "You kinda look like the Vampire Diaries chick."

"Nina Dobrev?" Tori raised an eyebrow and looked back up but Jade had seemingly refocused on the play in her hands. "I'll definitely take that," Tori leaned back against her headboard, eyes closing, "I'd love to look like her, she's gorgeous."

The touch was so delicate that Tori almost didn't feel the finger ghosting up and around her ear, taking her hair with it. Brown eyes opened to meet blue and for the first time in a long time, Tori felt like she was actually seeing Jade. Without the red tinge creeping up from the corners of her eyes and the inclusion of color in her cheeks again, actually looking like she had slept in the past week. She almost seemed lost in thought as she held Tori's gaze, leaving the brunette agonizing over what she was going to say until Jade took it upon herself to kamikaze.

It was almost sobering to kiss Jade while she was, well, sober. She was more hesitant; as if she was contemplating pulling back every second, but she pressed forward nonetheless and Tori couldn't help but respond. Couldn't help slanting her mouth to the right when Jade went left, couldn't help but toss her notepad down when Jade threw a Shakespeare masterpiece to the end of the bed so she could cup Tori's neck, couldn't help but feel relieved when the other girl leaned over her, all soft curves and cool skin.

Tori didn't know how long it went on, only that by the end her lips were swollen despite how gentle Jade had been. Their positions had reversed at some point, with Tori now looking down at the other girl, whose eyes were reluctant to open and meet her own. She fluttered her fingers across Jade's stomach, tickling her until she finally snorted and batted her hand away, eyes revealing themselves once again as she laughed.

She tried to keep her smile steady as she spoke, but the subject matter had a sedating manner on her expression. "I can't keep doing this with you if I don't know how you feel, Jade." Jade's own smile drooped at the statement, so Tori pressed on, "I need to know this isn't a joke to you."

"I'm not exactly laughing."


"I can't… I can't stop thinking about you," Jade admitted as her eyes slipped shut again, a pained look having overtaken her face. "And then I think about how much easier my life would be if I could just get over it, but I can't. I've tried everything, but you're still there and it still hurts. And it's hard not to hate you when you do this to me without even trying."

"Well, maybe you shouldn't try so hard," Tori murmured, earning the sight of intense blue eyes once again. "I'm right here."


The Latina sucked her bottom lip into her mouth, teeth gnawing on it as she attempted to focus her thoughts. Asking Jade was one thing, but Tori had been agonizing over that question since their first kiss in the rain. "I… can't stop thinking about you either."

It was the truth, even if she hadn't come up with it on her own. Jade had dominated her thoughts for more than a month, had managed to completely turn her life upside down while feigning indifference. She wasn't though, evidently.

"It's terrifying, isn't it?"

For the first time in a very long time, Tori was excited to go to school. She tried to treat it as any other day – she didn't dress up, her makeup was minimal, hair lazily towel-dried – but she couldn't keep the smile off her face as she walked into Hollywood Arts. It barely took a minute for her to spot Jade walking towards her locker while Tori stood at her own, and it took less than thirty seconds after that for Tori's smile to drop.

Mike's arm was tight around Jade's waist as they approached her locker, only to let go so he could spin Jade around and press her back against the metal doors, lips firmly locking with hers. And Jade responded with vigor, her own arms flying up around Mike's neck.

She expected her heart to stop, figuring the incident should be devastating, but it only made her angry. It felt as if there was a fire in her stomach, a twisting rage that was threatening to boil over. When the two broke apart from their lip-lock, Mike left the girl at her locker as he headed off to class and Jade switched out her textbooks. After she had, she turned and proceeded down the hallway right past Tori.

She had the decency to at least look at the Latina as she walked by, and although her eyes routinely blank, she didn't seem drugged. Jade had instead chose to rely on her God-given acting ability rather than put on a mask with drugs, and it was convincing. So convincing that Tori almost let the fire in her stomach be put out by a wave of doubt.

"It's terrifying, isn't it?"

Jade hadn't made it three feet passed her when Tori snapped, springing forward from her position in front of her locker and grabbing the other girl's wrist, yanking her forward and practically throwing her into the janitor's closet before slamming the door behind them. Jade looked mad about the rough treatment and opened her mouth to undoubtedly spit something at the brunette, but Tori had not been in the mood to talk.

When she kissed Jade it was like how she had imagined Jade would kiss – hard and unrelenting, a clash of teeth and tongues while Tori backed her up against the corner down the wall from the door so they couldn't be seen through the small window. She had obviously surprised the other girl, but it didn't take Jade long to tangle her hands in Tori's hair and respond with fervor.

Tori wasn't having any of it, though. She wrenched Jade's hands from her hair and unceremoniously slammed them back against the wall behind the blue-eyed girl, who jerked her head away and sucked in a breath in return. Tori didn't idle, nor dwell on just how weird it was to be running on adrenaline and anger while her teeth scraped across Jade's neck. A gasp followed and the feeling of Jade's hips crashing against her own, and Tori took the opportunity to let one the wrists she held go so in order to slide a hand up Jade's thigh instead.

She had no idea what she was doing but Jade hadn't seemed particularly fastidious when it came down to it. The sounds she made were instantly addicting – high moans and gasps of breath echoing in the small room and she had been so, so wet when Tori touched her – like she had been waiting for days for this. Bruised cherry lips remained parted while her eyes were screwed shut, hips wanton as they bucked up to meet the hand sliding against her.

Though Tori couldn't recall hearing it, the bell must have rang only to be drowned out by Jade's desperate, breathy pants in her ear. If someone had been outside the door, they definitely would have heard but it was the farthest thing from Tori's mind as she pressed three fingers into Jade with little preamble, trying her best to mimic what the dark-haired girl had done to her when she was the one who was pressed back against the wall. If she hadn't been running on fire, she probably would have stopped to marvel at the experience, at being inside Jade, at forcing moans from her throat, at even the idea of fucking Jade like she was. She knew Jade must have felt like this, amazed at the power she had over the other if only for just a little while.

Maybe Tori hadn't been paying attention, but when Jade came it seemed to come out of nowhere. All the warning she was given was a particularly hard buck of Jade's hips against her hand and an almost surprised sounding gasp before Jade's knees buckled underneath her, barely giving Tori time to yank her hand out from under Jade's skirt and try to soften her landing.

She watched Jade recover as the last ember of the anger in her stomach died out, leaving her with wet fingers and a cramped hand while she awkwardly knelt on the floor with an arm still around the other girl. Jade looked like a marionette whose strings had been cut, slumped on the floor while she took urgent, shuddering breaths. She wondered if Jade felt as stunned as she did.

"Holy shit," Tori finally breathed out when it settled in on her. She stared at her sticky fingers for a moment and then looked back at Jade's flushed face. "I can't believe we did that."

The three toned bell rang and Jade was up in a flash, smacking into the toolbox and swinging open the door. Tori floundered for a moment, running to the doorway to watch her leave but hesitated before chasing her down so she could wipe her hands on some paper towel. When she finally made it to the hallway it was full of students, and not one of them Jade. So she ran to the door to confirm that the dark-haired girl was pulling out of the parking lot before looking around wildly for someone, anyone she could seek out help from. If felt like she was at another party where she didn't recognize a single face.



"I need you to give me a ride somewhere." Desperate times. "Right now."

The middle-aged man stopped mid-step and seemed to consider her words. "Alright, let's go."

"…Really? Don't you have a class to teach?"

"It's Improv. They can just improvise a class. It'll be a good lesson for them. Now, to the Ratmobile."

"You know they're just gonna – the Ratmobile? Why… why is your car called the Ratmobile."

"You probably wouldn't get in it if you knew."

Surely Jade must have heard her come in; she probably even saw her cross the lawn through one of the large windows in her room, where she had been pacing when Tori made it up the stairs and threw open her bedroom door.

"That's it. I'm done with all of this. No more giving into your stupid little tantrums, no more chasing you down, no more letting things not be said." It only took two short strides for her to reach Jade and shove her back against the wall, her nails digging into the other girl's shoulders. "What the hell is your problem, Jade?"

Jade's chin jerked to the side and Tori almost slapped her, only to choose to grab her jaw instead at the last minute. "You don't get to look away, got it?" Jade's eyes had promptly closed in defiance. "You know what? I think I know what your problem is. You're so… you try so hard to make people not like you so it doesn't hurt when they do. You try to act like you're above caring what other people think about you, but you're obsessed with it. But here I am, knowing full well who you are, scissors and mood swings and all, and I want to be with you but that's not good enough for you. God, what exactly are you afraid of?"

"Oh, I don't know, Tori. Maybe my whole goddamn life changing?" It was spat out and accompanied by a push, sending Tori back a few feet. "Do you think I want another reason for people to call me a freak behind my back? Another excuse for my dad to go on about what art school has 'done' to me? Not everyone has the world bowing at their feet to please them."

"Don't you dare make it sound like I was forcing you out of the closet. I told you that I'd wait, I-I-I did everything I could to try and make you comfortable with all of this because I was scared too, but you can't get your head out of your ass and see that." After a frustrated stomp of her foot Tori gave Jade a helpless look, palms outturned in surrender. "What is it about me that's so disgusting to you? I know it's not just the girl thing, it can't be. Even if you're worried, you're still Jade West and there's no way you'd take someone making fun of you for that. So it must be me."

Jade held her gaze at least, even though she looked like she was on the brink of a breakdown. "So what is it, Jade? My voice? My hair? Do you secretly have a thing for blondes? Maybe you wanted Lia all along and you were just using me to get to her. Stop me if I guess right!" Still nothing. "I'm… here, Jade. Because for whatever reason I want you and I feel like I'm going to miss out on something if I don't give this a chance, but you're not letting me in. And I don't know what else I can do; I've tried everything. I've tried giving you space, talking about it, getting over you… it's killing me."

"You think you're the only one who hates this? You have no idea how much I hate it – how much I hate you for making me feel like this." Tori thought she understood, though. Jade was looking at her with such total contempt that it would have made her heart stop if it weren't for the accompanying tears in her blue eyes. "I hate it so much, Tori. So much. This isn't supposed to be my life."

"I hate that I think about you at all, let alone all the time. I hate that I want you and I hate that you know how much I want you. I hate that you're so used to having this effect on people. I hate that I…" She looked absolutely pained, more vulnerable than she had even been in the janitor's closet – totally open and exposed. Not a surrender, but a graceful suicide. "I don't want to be in love with you. I hate that I am."

It was the truth that Tori had been wanting for so long, but it was still near impossible to digest. Jade had bared all to her and looked as if her heart had literally been ripped from her after doing so, every tear seeming painful as they slid down her cheek. She felt an overwhelming need to comfort the other girl but her feet had remained planted where they were as she took in the sight of Jade West actually crying.

"The feeling's mostly mutual," Tori whispered as her body deflated, all the tension that had been building up for weeks finally leaving her at the admission she had been both dreading and craving. "If that makes you feel any better."

Jade gave a weak laugh and seemed to recover a bit, reaching up to furiously wipe at her cheeks. "Probably the worst 'I love you's' ever," she muttered followed by a shuddering breath escaping her lips. "Maybe it's fitting."

"Might be," Tori agreed quietly as she stepped forward. "We're not always gonna click together, Jade. I think our history is proof enough of that. But we're miserable like this and I'm… still here. And I'm gonna be here chipping away at your resolve day after day," she smiled as she found herself in front of Jade again, "until you give in. Because I'm just that stubborn about wanting you."

For the second time that day Jade was once again seemingly lifeless in her arms, backed up against a wall and vulnerable. She accepted the hold on her hips, welcomed the forehead resting against hers, and returned in kind with her hands sliding up to rest on Tori's forearms. "So what does this mean? Skipping down the hallways holding hands at school tomorrow?"

"While I would pay to see you skip, I don't think that sounds much like us."

"And what do we sound like?"

Tori sighed and considered her words for a moment. "A car crash?" Jade laughed again and her grip on Tori's arms tightened. "I have no idea, but we're never going to figure it out unless you let it happen instead of being a pain in the ass and running away on me every time we get somewhere. I'm not asking for much more than that, okay?"

"Okay." Her hands loosened their hold on Tori's arms and her eyes blue eyes drooped shut. It ended up being as easy as that, Jade's fingers dancing up to rest at either side of her neck as Tori tilted her head to meet the other girl's lips tentatively. There was a desperation behind the kiss that made Tori smile as she pulled away, her hands sliding across Jade's back as she whispered out one more, "Okay."

Author's Note: omg remember this fic? Okay, there it is. VERY sorry about the delay but VERY thankful for all the feedback I've received from you guys. This was my first ever chaptered fic and it has taught me to stick to one-shots, which I will hopefully start doing for the Victorious fandom now (or, rather, the Jori fandom). 100 pages, 45 000 words, and I'm glad that there's people out there who have enjoyed it.