Okay, so I'm still not really sure where this is going. Both Jade and Tori always seem a bit one dimensional on the programme to me, so this fic is pretty much just an excuse to play around with the characters and satisfy my Jori desires ^_^ But they both have a lot of issues, and my plot bunnies are already hard at work planning out exactly what Jade's little secret sadness is and cajoling Tori into fixing it! But please don't tell the employment standards board, cause my mind is totally not regulation and, well, words like plot-bunny-sweat-(s)hop can do serious damage to a girls rep ^_^

Right, I'll stop rambling (I'm ridiculously pleased about my plot-bunny-sweat-hop pun though. My day = MADE!). Anyhow, enjoy (and review wonderful readers, you know you want toooooo)!

It's a couple of weeks till Tori actually encounters Jade again. Sure - they see each other at school but, as far as the Latina is concerned, that girl isn't really Jade.

Nothing actually changes, not in public anyway, although sometimes Tori feels eyes on her, even if when she turns round Jade looks completely engrossed in whatever it is she's meant to be doing. Still, Tori likes to think that Jade (the real Jade – the one that makes pancakes and admits to listening to her and makes silly puns and smiles genuinely), thinks about that Friday night just as much as Tori herself contemplates it.

But it's three weeks, and a somewhat grim, drizzly Tuesday evening till they meet again . Tori's driving home with her mother from the supermarket (and honestly is there anything more tedious than food shopping?) and as they pass a children's park, illuminated dimly by streetlights, Tori's peripheral vision catches a familiar silhouetted figure. Solitary and head hung, sitting on a swing.

It takes about three blocks and a red light of Tori thinking it can't be her, before she gives in and tells her Mom to stop the car.

Holly Vega is halfway through saying, "sweetheart it's raining, what on earth is so important?" when she catches Tori's own confused expression. So instead she just kisses her daughter on the forehead and tells her to call when she needs a ride home.

It takes about ten minutes of solid hiking to get back to the park and Tori is half scared that the figure will be gone. And half scared that they'll still be there.

She soaked and so tempted just to duck into the nearest coffee shop and call her mother to turn back round. Hell, rationally it's pretty unlikely that it even was Jade but... when has anything about their relationship been rational? And besides, just the possibility that the figure, with its heavy head and hunched shoulders, could be Jade... it makes her walk faster, and tilt her face towards the sky and think yeah, is this all you've got?

She rounds the corner and spots the girl, rocking backwards and forwards gently on the swing.

She was right to come back. It is Jade. There is no mistaking the blue hair, the familiar boots, and the apple curve of cheek. But suddenly Tori's unsure, hovering outside the gate and studying Jade's profile intensely.

Tori's no good with sad people. She never knows what to say; feels uncomfortable to the point where she laughs or does something equally as stupid like making jokes to cheer them up which often end up being offensive in some way. (There was this little incident with an old neighbour and some cat jokes, but it wasn't that big a deal. Really, the law suit was dropped and everything was totally fine once she explained and apologised. Complete coincidence that they moved to the other side of town a couple weeks later). But... she remembers Jade's unreadable gaze on her as they ate pancakes and thinks that she owes the other girl enough to at least try. And besides, just standing watching her friend break apart is doing strange things to her insides – and somehow Tori thinks that walking away so she doesn't have to look anymore, well, that isn't going to stop the feeling.

So she pushes open the gate. It squeaks unnecessarily loud and Jade's head snaps round, startled. Even from a couple of meters away Tori can see that she's been crying. Her eyes are red and puffy, their usual coat of makeup is missing. There's a crumpled, wet tissue in the hand that isn't gripping the swing chain and her hair is piled up into a messy, wind-beaten knot at the top of her head. Tori's heart melts a little.

She moves towards the swing, aware of Jade's gaze, intense even through watery eyes, fixed upon her. "Hi," she says softly. She points at the vacant swing, "is this seat taken? Or is it my lucky day?"

It takes a couple of beats for Jade to make any reaction to her (what can only be loosely defined as a) pun, which is about the same amount of time it takes for Tori to work herself into an internal frenzy over her lack of sensitivity. Eventually though Jade smiles – somewhat crookedly and broken – but it's a smile and Tori will take what she can get.

The swing gives a little groan when she sets her weight on it. "I don't have any pancakes."

Jade looks at her.

"So I can't cheer you up by feeding you comfort food."

"Actually," Jade mutters, and is suddenly digging around in her overly large sweater, "I brought my own." She retrieves a half eaten, red candy bar and holds it out towards the darker girl.

Tori peers at it, "what? Car-a-mac?"

Jade is smiling, and when Tori looks up at her from the proffered bar, it catches unawares and forces a little explosive breath out of her. She needs to warn her when she does that. Otherwise she's going to end up hyperventilating... or something.

"It's a British candy bar. Taste like white chocolate falling in love with caramel." And Jade's gaze becomes, somehow, even more complex, like she's daring Tori to work out if she's the chocolate or caramel. "Try it."

Tori takes a piece and pops it onto her tongue. The other girl leans forwards till their noses almost brush and murmurs, "let it melt."

Tori's pretty sure if Jade keeps this up, she'll melt before the candy. But to her surprise the chocolate is already melting and filling her mouth with sweet caramel-y essence and she's humming in appreciation without even realising. Jade leans back looking triumphant. The look fades quickly back into veiled sadness though and the tanned girl's smile drops. Tori wonders when her happiness began depending on Jade's own mood.

"Jade... what, what's wrong?"

The pale girl shrugs, eyes fixed on nothing behind Tori's shoulder with such intensity that the other girl wants to turn and check no one's there. "Nothing serious. Just. I..." Jade sighs, "look Tori even if I tell you, you can't help. So what's the point in telling you?"

The singer ponders the question for a second, surprising herself with the answer that instantly filled her, pushing to the front of her mind. "Because sometimes, even if you think no one can help, they can. Even if it's just by listening. You're not alone, I know it is clichéd, but you aren't... I want to know you Jade. I want, uh, well, not to be your friend cause' I think... I want more than that, but I want to be there for you. And to help you. And uh, stuff..."

Jade quirked a suggestive eyebrow. "And stuff...?"

"N-not like that! I meant-"

"You don't want my stuff?" If Tori had been less flustered she would have taken time to admire how quickly Jade had snapped from chronic sadness to impishness. As it was, she was a bit preoccupied with furiously back peddling, not catching the mockery in the other girls smirk.

"-help you non sexually! I mean not that I wouldn't want to help you sexually, just, I meant help you not to be sad. And I'm not expecting stuff, uh sexual stuff, from you. Not-not that I, uh, I... I'd love your sexual stuff! I.. you're laughing at me. Why are you-" Tori clicked her mouth shut and realised (despite the blow of sudden light headedness, almost certainly caused by the waves of blood rising to her cheeks, leaving more important parts like her brain deprived) that she was being teased. She huffed.

Jade was still, her cheek pressed against the swing's chain, looking at Tori with bright eyes. She hummed softly and Tori watch as the humour in her face fell away, leaving... well, not happiness exactly, contentment perhaps. Whatever it was, it made her expression smooth and relaxed, lips curling upwards threatening to fall back into a smile; eyes crinkling at the corners and glowing green against the grey of the day.

"Thanks Tori," she half whispered, voice almost lost in the wind.

"For what?" The other girl murmured back, leaning automatically inwards.

"Cheering me up. You're goofiness doesn't leave any space for my sadness."

Tori blinked at her, turning Jade's last sentence around in her head. It took her by surprise sometimes the clarity with which Jade could say something that really shouldn't make any sense at all, but somehow managed to pin down those fluttery little meanings that were so good at evading Tori's own mind. Tori could understand the things she felt, but translating those into something coherent... whereas Jade, not only could she decode the feelings into words, but she did it so beautifully that the words could translate back into feelings as soon as the other person had caught hold of them.

But Tori, being Tori, wasn't quite sure how to say all of that so she just settled for leaning forward ever so slightly more to brush their lips together. She hovered for a second and felt Jade jerk towards her, one hand on her own suddenly tugging her back to the other girl's lips.

They kissed softly for a second, languidly, almost platonically with only the liquid fire inside Tori's stomach as any indication of its true significance. "Jade?" Tori murmured against her lips.

"Yes, Vega?"

"My goofiness will always be around to cheer you up."