You stare at the slight indentation on the pillow, at the rumpled blankets beside you. Its kind of surreal, the idea of Jade being tucked into bed beside you just hours ago as is the notion that despite that you're still alive and in possession of all of your limbs. In fact it could be some sort of dream, you think, if it weren't for the fact that your brain has clamped down on the memory of Jade beside you, soft and substantial. You think about crazy people, the ones that keep celebrity tissues and chewed wads of gum and if the fact that you even thought of vacuum sealing the pillow Jade used puts you in the same category as them.
Instead you blame it on the fact that you're still really tired and thus you can't be blamed for the strange paths your mind drifts down in its current state.
There's a knock on your door and before you can answer Trina let herself into your room and stalks towards the bed.
"Get up and make me some pancakes." She demands before flopping onto your bed and erasing any evidence that Jade West had been curled up beside you hours ago. You groan as the mattress jostles, turning away from your sister and pulling the blanket up over your head.
"Trina, go away!" You call out but, of course, instead of doing as you request or respecting your space, she decides to spoon you. "Oh my god, go away!"
"Tooorrriiii! I'm starrrrrvvvviiiinnnnggg!" You grimace as she tries to puncture your eardrums with her voice alone and burrow deeper into your blanket.
"If you're so starving go make your own pancakes!" You cry and Trina lets loose an obnoxious whine. "Trina! Seriously?"
"Make them for me and I'll leave you alone all day." Trina offers and you whip the blanket from over your head.
"Swear?" You ask and Trina solemnly holds up three fingers.
"Girls Scouts honor."
"You were never even in the Girl Scouts." You point out, rolling over to glare at your sister who's sporting a very impressive case of bed head.
"So?" She argues and you roll your eyes at her tiredly.
"Fine. I'll make your stupid pancakes." You finally give in and Trina squeals, snuggling into your side.
"How do you feel? I mean, since you're practically a star now?" Trina asks, slinging her leg over yours.
"I am not a star." You laugh, closing your eyes. "And I feel the same. It was a great experience but the record company still wants nothing to do with me."
"Did you tell them about your more talented, compliant, older sister who doesn't mind wearing a meat hat and abusing senior citizens?" Trina wonders and you laugh.
"Wait. So, how did you end up performing anyway? I thought you got replaced by Jade." Trina wonders and you open your eyes to stare at the ceiling. You remember Jade in her ridiculous costume with sincere eyes and Jade later in pajamas, warm and solid beside you and a nervous feeling tugs in your stomach.
"Jade gave up her spot for me." You finally mutter and now you can feel Trina's eyes on you, wide with surprise. Rightfully so, you think, because Jade isn't nice or friendly and also hates you.
"But Jade kind of despises you." Trina points out helpfully and you turn to look at her.
"No…I mean, yeah, she does but we're also kinda friends." You say, "But it was also sort of a thank you for not kissing Beck when he tried stick his tongue down my throat."
"What?" You cover your ears, to prevent Trina's shrill voice from melting your brain while she pushes herself up to look down at you in disbelief. She shakes your shoulders violently while questions bubble past her lips and you answer them best you can until Trina is just staring at you and shaking her head.
"Lay back down." You request and Trina does, scooting down against the bed absently.
"What did Beck's breath smell like?" Trina asks after a moment and you frown at her.
"I don't know!" You hiss, pausing for a moment while your sister stares at you in disbelief. "Trina, what do you think of Jade?"
"She's a creepy gank." Your sister answers instantly. "I mean, sure she's pretty in that pale, vampire way and she has a decent voice but she's so weird."
"Isn't everyone at Hollywood Arts weird though?" You offer because you know for a fact there are more legitimately weirder kids than Jade West roaming around school and one of them is currently begging you to make her pancakes.
"I guess you're right." Trina says thoughtfully. "She's got great boobs though."
"Yeah…" You mutter absently, ignoring Trina's confused glance. "I think its fake…"
"Her boobs? No way, those are a hundred percent real. I mean have you-"
"I'm not…" You interrupt Trina pointedly. "I am not talking about Jade's boobs right now. I'm talking about her whole…gothic, sinister, violent persona she's got going on."
"Oh." Trina shrugs, sitting up again. "Who cares? I mean, Jade's just Jade and now that she's not dating Beck, she matters even less to me. Besides, let me point out how weird it is that we're talking about her at all when you're supposed to be making me pancakes."
"You're the one who started monologuing about her breasts!" You point out incredulously as Trina clambers out of your bed.
"What can I say? The girl's got a nice rack." Trina shrugs before grabbing your ankle and tugging you out of bed.
So Jade disappears.
Well, not really but still. She's all but stopped hanging out with you guys and no one seems to care. Not Cat or Robbie or Beck or Andre and especially not Beck who seems to split his time between making eyes at you and peeling questionable girls off of himself.
Okay, so that's not really true either because as far as you know Jade does still hang out with Cat and Andre but way less than she used too and she just finished a project with Robbie but he told you that they did most of the work separately and its not the same.
It's been like this for weeks and weeks now and you're over it.
Sure, its nice not to be insulted on a regular basis or have to fear for your well being but also its kinda not so you've gone to find her. And by find her you really mean pseudo-stalk.
You live your life You go in shadows
You lean against the door frame and feel only slightly creepy as you listen to the voice seeping through the wooden door. The sound is powerful and raw in a way that makes a chill run under your skin. You've spent most of lunch searching for Jade and you hadn't even planed on looking here but there was the faintest voice warning You'll come apart and you'll go blind and here you are doing your best impression of a stalker.
Some kind of night into your darkness
Colors your eyes with what's not there.
You don't knock. Instead you push open the door a little and slip inside noiselessly except for the part where your backpack gets stuck and you screech like a donkey.
Jade turns in the desk chair she's sitting in and immediately looks unimpressed with your entire being as you stumble into the classroom and the door successfully shuts behind you now that your backpack isn't wedged between it and the doorway.
"Oh," You swallow awkwardly, giving Jade a weak wave. "hello there."
"What're you doing in here, Tori?" Jade asks and she doesn't seem as infuriated as you would expect so you shrug and fix your bag on your shoulder.
"Actually, I was looking for you." You admit. "You haven't been around at lunch all week and I just…I haven't really seen you since our impromptu slumber party. "
You don't tell her that you miss her because that would be weird and you really not interest in being made a mockery of right now. You don't say you were worried either but you kinda were so you settle on shrugging as gawkily as possible as Jade stares at you.
"Why? Did you miss me?" She teases with a sharp smile and you fight off a blush and the lingering suspicion that Jade can see into your brain parts to scoff at her.
"Uh, no. I just couldn't help but notice you haven't been around lately. Especially since its been days since anyone insulted me for no reason."
"You're a talent less hack. Feel better?" Jade offers and you roll your eyes.
" Look," She sighs, slouching down in her chair. "I don't want to crash the party. I can only take so much awkward in one sitting and besides, uncomfortable situations make Cat vomit."
"Jade, its not awkward," You start with a wince. "I mean, its not that awkward."
"Right, because hanging out with my ex boyfriend, the girl I watched him almost kiss and other assorted people who don't really want to hang out with me, is the epitome of a 'not awkward' situation." She says with the most aggressive air quotes you've ever seen.
"Why do you think we don't want to hang out with you?" You wonder softly and Jade rolls her eyes now, using her heels to swivel back and forth in her chair just a little before doing a full turn.
"Haven't you heard?" Jade asks as you watch her spin and spin in her chair. She stops slowly, tipping her head to back to gaze up at you and you shift awkwardly, tighten your fingers on the strap of your bag. "I'm a gank."
You wince, shaking your head as Jade starts turning again, smooth and deliberate but still somehow dizzying. "No, you're not…you're just…"
"Tori." Jade laughs and the sound is sharp and bitter as she stills in front of you again. "It's fine. See, this funny thing happens when couples break up. Their friends have to choose sides and it looks like all of my friends have pledged their allegiance to Beck. Apparently being warm and nice and, like, caring earns you friendship. Who knew?"
"We're still your friends, though." You tell her, probably too earnestly and Jade just shakes her head and twists until you're staring at her back. "I mean, I'm still your friend. And I'm sure the gang feels the same way. Yeah, you put on a good act but I know you care about us. "
You watch her head drop, watch her push her hair back with both hands and you suddenly wish you could see her face, her eyes. You lean down, setting your bag down by the door before crossing the room in tentative strides.
"What were you singing just now?" You wonder cautiously, almost expecting the verbal decapitation that doesn't come. "Because it sounded really great."
"A song." Jade huffs and you step closer as her shoulders rise then fall with the oxygen in her lungs. You have the sudden urge to press your palm between her shoulder blades just to feel the air rustling in her chest but you realize the urge is both the quickest way to a maiming and weird so you stuff your hands deep inside your back pockets.
"Duh." You offer and Jade turns lazily to face you, whatever emotion that made her turn away from you has been wrangled and wrestled and now she only arches a studded brow at you while her face settles into a mask that could possibly be boredom. You don't think it is though. "What's it called?"
She sighs, long suffering and exaggerated in a way that makes you almost turn and leave but then she smiles just a little bit, the corners of her mouth curling and just like that you've grown roots. "Fade into You by Mazzy Star."
"I've never heard of them." You admit, sitting in the only other chair in the small room. It creaks with your movements and you dig your heels into the ground when it rolls forward towards Jade just a little bit.
"Somehow it doesn't surprise me that Pop Princess, Tori Vega, doesn't know much beyond Ginger Fox and Ke$ha." Jade bites out in this strange tone that you know is supposed to be harsh but just isn't.
"I know things!" You squawk indignantly and Jade turns a little bit in her chair.
"Oh, I'm sure you do Tori Vega." She hisses like a tease and you swallow, shifting uncomfortably.
"Well, are they good?" You ask stupidly and Jade slumps in her chair, hips jutting forward and hair falling over her shoulders as she exams the chipped polish on her nails. Her boot nudges your sneaker and those roots keep you from wheeling away from her.
"They're great." She says simply and you nod, glancing at the door before focusing on Jade and Jade's furrowed brow.
"Could you maybe sing some more?" You ask cautiously because Jade's voice is still ringing in your ears. And you've known Jade was talented. You've seen her act in various plays and sing a couple different songs but that was something different and spellbinding and pure in a way that makes you want to hear more.
Jade eyes you for a moment and you give her your best smile, your eyebrows nearly meeting your hairline. "Why're you doing this?"
"You have an amazing voice, Jade. I-"
"No." She cuts you off easily and you blink at her. "Why're you being so nice to me? I mean, I am unpleasant to you on a regular basis and you're always so…"
"I don't know." You sigh because she's right and if you did hate Jade it would make a lot more sense but you're staring at her bright blue eyes and all you really want, besides a record contract and worldwide fame, is for Jade to like you just a little bit. "I don't really know. I can't help it, I guess. Can…can you just sing?"
Jade straightens in her seat carefully, leaning over to a nearby table and picking up a tambourine that jangles happily in her hands.
"Here." She grunts, tossing it to you and you catch it against your knees noisily. "Keep up."
The tambourine bangs against the heel of your hand and you watch Jades lips part and throat work as her rich voice fills the room again while she declares I think it's strange you never knew.
Realistically, you know that everyone-Beck, Andre, Robbie, Cat and Jade- were all friends long before you arrived at Hollywood Arts. You're not narcissistic enough to think that you were the one to bring them together. Besides, you've seen the picture of Robbie and Andre in junior high school that Beck keeps in his locker for blackmailing purposes. You've also seen the Halloween gram with 'Don't die in your sleep' scrawled almost lovingly across the front from 10 year-old Jade that Cat keeps pinned to the corkboard above her desk.
But, for a while and heck even now sometimes, you had no idea why five semi-normal, mostly sane, good natured people would be friends with the likes of Jade West. Jade, whose hobbies include fondling sharp objects, terrorizing human beings and basking in the unhappiness of others. You didn't understand why Beck put up with her scathing remarks and why Cat ignored her threats. Or why Robbie just accepted the violent puppet abuse and Andre forgave her for her habit of publicly humiliating him.
You get it now.
You get why Robbie is constantly trying to get on Jade's good side and why Cat is constantly fluttering about the other girl. Why Andre still gets that look in his eyes sometimes even though he swears he doesn't have a crush on Jade anymore and why Beck will always, always go chasing after her.
You can't explain it but you get it now and you're just as bad as they are.
And that understanding is what fuels a full blown tirade in the halls of Hollywood Arts.
You corner Cat, Andre and Robbie after school and you're yelling. Because they're supposed to be Jade's friends and they can't just choose sides like that. Because Jade will never admit it but she's sad and invisible and how could they do that to Jade.
You poked Andre in the chest over and over and reminded him how many songs Jade helped him write and you gripped Robbie by his shirt and shook him as hard as you could because Jade puppet sits for him when his family goes out of town and bans Rex. You don't touch Cat but you remind her that she and Jade are supposed to be best friends. In the end you declare them all suckish before turning around and stomping away.
It's hours later when your cell phone buzzes on the coffee table. You've been ignoring Andre's calls and texts all afternoon and you expect it to be another from him but instead it's a text from Jade.
Jade: What did you do?
It reads and you blink at it for a couple of seconds before sending her back a question mark. You're phone buzzes immediately and you're a weird mix of terrified and curious when Jade sends.
Jade: Come over. Now!
It takes you nearly twenty minutes for you to convince Trina to give you a ride and then your half climbing out the car, half getting shoved into the street by Trina's foot. You stumble up to the front door of Jade's house, which you've never actually been inside and reach for the bell.
The door swings open before you can even press it though and you yelp as Jade drags you into the house by the front of your shirt.
"What're you doing?" You cry and Jade looks at you with wide eyes.
"What am I doing? What am I doing?" She cries and suddenly you realize there are other people in the house. You can hear Cat and Robbie talking and then Andre's laughter and you can't help but smile a little bit. "I've been invaded!"
Just then Cat wanders around the corner, clutching a bowl of popcorn. "Yay! Tori's here!" She squeals, hurtling over to give you a hug. "We're having a sleepover!"
Jade stares at you with hard eyes and you give her your best smile as Cat snags your wrists and begins pulling you towards the living room of the surprisingly normal house.
"I've never…" You mutter, glancing down at the cup in your hand and Andre throws a heavy arm around your shoulders.
"Just drink real slow." He laughs, steering you back towards the living room where everyone is gathered around the television and what looks to be a recording of a play is playing on the television screen. "We're all gonna crash here tonight so there's nothing to worry about. Just have a good time."
You nod, taking a drink from your cup and wincing a little at the burn of alcohol that cola doesn't quite mask before sitting down on the couch between Cat and Robbie. You're not exactly sure when everyone agreed to Jade's assertion that if everyone insisted on not getting out of her house and continuing to violate her human rights than there needed to be alcohol involved but now you're drinking fancy liquor out of her parents cabinet like its no big deal. "What're we watching?"
"Jade!" Cat yells happily, leaning down to wrap her arms around Jade where she sits on the floor in front of the couch and you almost expect her to snap Cat's limbs clean off her body. Instead she makes a face that's half grimace and half smile as Cat squeezes, reaching up to pat Cat's head.
"Relax Baby Girl, we've already seen this before. You guys were even at the show." Jade laughs a little.
"C'mon Jade, you are really great in this." Robbie pipes up beside you before pressing his cup to his lips.
"Of course I am." Jade kind of sneers with far less bite than you're used to.
"Always so humble." Robbie mutters.
"What is this?" You wonder aloud and there's a collective gasp among the group that startles you.
"You've never seen Wicked?" Jade asks, tipping her head back to look up at you coolly and you glance around at everyone else's shocked faces.
"Well…no." You mutter, taking a drink from your cup and Cat squeaks indignantly beside you.
"It's a musical based on this book about the witches of Oz." Robbie offers with a half smile, " It's really famous."
"And Jade played Elphaba." Cat giggles behind her hands. "The Wicked Witch of the West. They painted her green!"
"It was just a small production for my theater troupe." Jade says dismissively, looking down at her black fingernails.
"She rocked it." Andre laughs and Jade blushes, the blood bright red beneath her pale skin.
There's more lots of laughing and yelling for a moment then suddenly a voice is filling the living room and you all stop to turn to the screen as Jade sings. Cat squeals quietly and you barely register it as you stare slack jawed at the screen.
You've never really heard Jade sing, not like this. Her voice is broad and full and amazing in a way that is unfamiliar and you just know everyone else is staring at you, except for Jade who is probably smirking, while you experience it.
Been up all night
Staring at you
Wondering what's on your mind
Robbie's voice cracks a little bit as he stretches it high and thin while Jade's voice swoops low and you grin a little bit at the sound they make as you turn the corner into the wide, open kitchen. Your cup is sweating in your hand and you've already forgotten what Andre requested from the fridge but you ignore your wet palm and Andre's call from the living room for you to not forget the French onion dip as you watch Robbie pull a chuckling Jade through a clumsy waltz around the kitchen.
I've been this way
With so many before
But this feels like the first time
They move clumsily, bumping into everything possible as their voices meld and dance better than they're managing with their bodies. Robbie spins them over and over and Jade wraps both arms around his narrow shoulders. For a moment they're nothing but a blur, a smear under the fluorescent kitchen lights.
You want the sunrise To go back to bed
I want to make you laugh
Mess up my bed with me
Kick off the covers
They're laughing the lyrics but even that is harmonized in a way that makes your stomach flutter like just swallowed a handful of butterflies. You shake your head at the disgusting picture you've just painted in your head, pressing your dry hand to your stomach absently as Robbie dips Jade dramatically and her leg extends even as they nearly crash to the ground.
Every word you say I think
I should write down
I don't want to forget
She laughs the words as they straighten into an upright position, burying her face against Robbie's neck while he rocks her gently. You're still standing there with, what you're absolutely positive, is a dopey look on your face when Jade peeks at you over Robbie's shoulder. She arches an eyebrow in your direction and you lift your hand in an silly, uncoordinated wave before heading to the refrigerator on wobbly legs. You pull out the dip and shut the door with your hip before heading back to the living room. You glance over your shoulder once to find Jade watching you, blue eyes crystalline while Robbie sings Happy to lay here. Just happy to be here. I'm happy to know you.
You flop down onto the couch beside Andre, handing him his dip before leaning your head back to stare up at the ceiling. "I think I'm drunk."
Andre laughs beside you and the sound makes you smile even as the room tips and tilts a bit. Your arms and legs feel loose, like your joints are made out of gelatin and that thought only makes you laugh harder.
"Probably." Andre says as you lift your head to stare at Cat across the room where she has a hand up Rex and is making him speak in the worst Jamaican accent ever, "You feel okay, though?"
You shrug, blinking at Cat. "Jade's kinda, like, great…ya know?" You giggle and Andre just shakes his head and thrusts a bag of chips towards you.
"Eat some chips, Tori."
You're dying. You just know it.
The bathroom door opens and hits you in the leg.
"Call 911." You croak from where your sprawled on the pristine white tile, your cheek pressed to the cool ground while everything spins and spins.
"Tori." Jade laughs your name softly and you pry your eyes open enough to stare at her socked feet.
"I'm dying. Call 911." You groan as everything spins and dips like its not supposed to and Jade drops down smoothly next to your limp body. "Call the mayor."
"You're not dying. You're drunk." She points out helpfully and maybe she's right but right now it feels like the same thing. You blink at Jade as she leans back against the wall, watch her multiply to three before merging back into one. "Very, very drunk and I don't think there's anything the mayor can do about that."
You can hear the strum of a guitar in the other room and the sound seems far away in the closed up bathroom but you listen to Robbie warn:
Children, Broadripple is burning
And the girls are getting sick
Off huffing glue up in the bathroom
While your boyfriends pick up chicks
"This is your own fault, ya know." She smiles, hair falling limply in her face and eyes glossy and she looks touchable and knowable and when you blurt the words she just shakes her head. "You're speaking nonsense."
"Are you sure I'm not dying?" You wonder and Jade rolls her eye and scoots closer, threads her fingers through your hair and tugs a little too hard.
"I'm pretty sure." she hums when you wince before tucking your hair behind your ear. "Ya know, for your first time drinking, you've outdone yourself."
"It was fun." You laugh stupidly. "I don't think I knew you before but I'm starting to know you now and its fun."
Jade laughs and you like the way the sound works its way up her throat. "Listening to you babble drunkenly is pretty entertaining too."
"I'm not babbling." You argue even as your stomach rolls in that unpleasant way that usually signals the impending arrival of vomit. "I'm telling you secrets."
"You are?" Jade is smiling now and you grin back.
"Yeah, now you tell me one." You demand and Jade bites her lip. "Tell me something that no one else knows."
There's a few moments where Jade is just legitimately giggling and it's probably the most endearing thing your brain has ever processed in this moment.
"I have an audition. A big one. In New York." She finally says and your head jerks up too, too fast.
"No way!" You yelp then immediately regret it as your vision swims. "Oh gosh."
Jade does that low, soft giggle again and you close your eyes and listen to her get up. The faucet turns on for a second and you think of roaring rapids and drowning before it turns off and Jade is right beside you now.
You jump a little as cold, wet fingers touch your neck.
"What's it for? Your big audition, I mean?" You ask as she skims over your throat with a damp palm. You swallow and you know she feels it.
"A musical. It's no big deal but no one really knows." Jade says easily and you open your eyes and stare at her.
"Wow." You croak because that is so a huge deal and Jade lifts a shoulder in a lazy shrug. "Can I help you practice?"
You kind of expected her to laugh at you and tell you no but she just smirks at your slurred request and rolls her eyes. "Sure Vega."
Her wet fingers trace along your hairline and you watch her brow bend in concentration, closing your eyes when her fingertips brush over your eyebrows.
"So, thanks or whatever." She murmurs, words tripping over one another and you blink up at her in surprise.
"For what?" You mumble as she traces over your face, leaving a wet streak down the bridge of your nose and over your cheekbones. "I didn't…"
"For tonight." She cuts you off, bright eyes meeting yours and you shrug the best you can on the hard linoleum. "You've been more or less stalking me lately which means you've pretty much been there whenever I needed a…someone."
"A friend." You correct for her with a sloppy grin. "You can say it. It wont kill you."
There's a beat of silence where Robbie's voice, now accompanied with Cat's, echoes in the space the two of you are occupying.
And don't fucking move'
Cause everything you think you have will go to shit
But we've got a lot
Don't you dare forget that
They pause, a funny note ringing out from the guitar and then Cat is giggling.
"Fine." Jade huffs, pulling her cool, dripping fingers away from your skin. "You're a good friend but for the record, I'm pretty drunk so not accountable for the things I say."
"Yay." You murmur anyway, shutting your eyes again as nausea surges like a tide in your stomach. "Do friends forgive friends that puke on them? Just out of curiosity."
"No." Jade answers swiftly and you nod a little bit.
"Okey dokey." You swallow hard before looking up at her again. It's dumb and stupid but you want to look at her all night. You also want to go back in time and not drink that third alcoholic beverage.
You're still staring at her, you realize, when she tips her head to meet your gaze. Color high in her cheeks and limbs uncharacteristically loose.
"What're you looking at Tori Vega?." she whispers quietly just as the singing from the living room starts again.
And I'm wasted
You can taste it
Don't look at me that way
"You." You admit. "You, I guess."
Eventually the five of you spread sleeping bags out on the living room floor, nesting together like ferrets or something and you watch drowsily as Jade and Andre work together over Robbie's snoring form to put his limp hand in a bowl of warm water.
"He's gonna pee." Cat murmurs softly beside you in her bright pink sleeping bag. "He always pees."
You blink at Jade and Andre laughing quietly before abandoning Robbie to marinate in his own urine before Andre drops down beside you and Jade on his other side. Your so tired and drunk and also tired but Andre and Jade are still giggling and you turn your head to watch the battle of thumb wars they're engaged in.
It surprises you that the two most mature teenagers you know are like little kids when they get around one another.
"Last time they covered Robbie in toothpaste." Cat says and you laugh, closing your eyes as the room dances. "Jade hates you but only because she doesn't really hate you."
You stop laughing at that, licking your dry lips as sleep starts to sweep over you, starting at your feet and working its way up. "She says we're kind of like friends now."
"Yay." Cat cries softly and your mouth twitches up in a smile before you loose complete consciousness.