So, your shirt is stuck in your locker.
You're trying not to bring attention to it but, the chances of you dying right here in this hallway with the tail of your shirt closed in your locker are very high right now. You've pretty much accepted your fate by the time Beck appears around the corner, approaching you with a half smile.
"What's up?" He greets as you lean casually against your locker but his eyes narrow in suspicion almost immediately.
"Oh, ya know, nothing." You laugh awkwardly, resting your head in your palm. "Just making it shine."
"Stuck in your locker again?" Beck asks smoothly and you frown, leaning forward and swatting at the back of your shirt.
"Yeah and I don't know why it keeps happening." You whine helplessly and Beck chuckles, walking over to your locker and punching the door once. It immediately pops opens and your sure you would've ended up face first on the linoleum if it weren't for his strong arms around your waist. "Thanks."
"No problem. Damsels in distress are my specialty." He chuckles and you wonder absently if lines like that really work on girls, if they worked on Jade. "So…"
"So?" You straighten your shirt absently before turning to close your locker.
"So, rumor has it that the gang had a sleepover the other night." Beck whispers conspiratorially. "And Fun-Time Juice was involved."
"Who told you that?" You ask warily, narrowing your eyes.
"Aw man. That puppet can never keep his mouth shut." You groan, "Look, we all just wanted to hang out with Jade. She's been-"
"Hey, hey, hey. No need to explain." He says, waving away your details. "I get it."
"So, you're not mad we had fun without you?" You wonder and he shrugs, running a hand through his hair.
"I mean, I know how Jade can get after stuff like this." He says after a moment, glancing down the hall and you follow his gaze to where Jade is watching in quiet amusement as Cat bounces around her excitedly. "She draws in on herself and I'm just glad she has you guys."
"Aw, you still care about her." You coo and Beck chuckles, eyes still focused on Jade.
"I'm still in love with her." He says easily and you blink at him in shock.
"Yeah, definitely." He sighs, focusing on you again. "We were together forever. Feelings like that don't just go away."
That makes sense. You've had a very long, very complicated relationship with Peppy Cola even though you gave it up years ago so you get where Beck is coming from…sorta
"I miss her a lot." He's staring at Jade again but now Jade is staring too and you feel vaguely uncomfortable. A feeling that only grows when Jade's eyes track over to you so you immediately look up at the ceiling with sudden fascination. It doesn't matter though because you can tell she's walking over thanks to the click clack of her boots and the skittering of Cat's heels as she skips along.
"Well. Well. Well. What's going on here?" She asks smoothly and you drop your head to smile at her tightly.
"Oh, hey! I didn't even see you there." You lie awkwardly but Jade's focused on Beck. "Me and Beck were just discussing school…and learning…educational systems."
"How're you doing Jade?" Beck wonders, ignoring you and adjusting his bag on his shoulder while Jade regards him coolly even as people in the halls turn and stare.
"I'm fantastic. How about you." She's grinning severely and you frown. "How've you been?"
"Good." Beck huffs and there's more staring and your mind is desperately trying to figure out a nonchalant way to get the hell out of there.
"This is awkward." Cat laughs then grimaces, a hand pressing to her stomach. "My tummy feels funny."
Thankfully, the bell rings then, saving you all.
"Go to class Cat." Jade says and Cat shrugs.
" 'Kay 'kay." And then she's scurrying away into the sea of students and you watch her go longingly.
"So, I'll catch you later." Beck mutters and Jade looks bored.
"Yeah, whatever." She nearly yawns and then Beck is leaving too. You don't think you're supposed to see the way Jade watches him go.
After a long moment that you spend fiddling with your backpack and not running away even though you really want to, Jade turns to you expectantly. "C'mon."
You glance up and down the thinning halls as Jade tugs you towards the front doors. Hollywood Arts is sort of irresponsibly carefree about a lot of their policies, including the one that says you're not actually allowed to leave school grounds when you're supposed to be in class. Which means Jade pulls you towards the parking lot without any resistance from any sort of security guard or authority figure.
"Where are we going?" You wonder, glancing over your shoulder as Jade release your wrist and you immediately grip the place her fingers were, rubbing absently. "We're going to miss Sikowitz's class."
"Dude, get with the program." Jade sighs in annoyance and you feel inexplicably stupid. "We're ditching."
"We're what?!" You squeal, stopping dead in your tracks in the middle of the blacktop. "I can't ditch!"
Jade rolls her eyes as she circles on you warily, "Goodness no. I'm sweet, precious Tori Vega and I wouldn't dream of breaking the rules."
Jade mocks you in that syrupy sweet voice that grates your nerves. "I don't sound like that!"
"Look." Jade sighs after a moment, glancing around the parking lot before fixing you with a look that pins you in this moment. "Beck is staring at me which means other people are staring too. Like we're animals in some sort of zoo waiting for us to either kill each other or start mating and I just need to get out of there."
"But…" You start dumbly, "But you're Jade 'Fucking' West. HBIC."
"Two things." Jade starts with a frown, eyebrows knitting together. "First, listening to you curse makes me feel all tingly. Keep it up. And second, Jade 'Fucking' West? HBIC? Really?! Like, where did you even come up with that? Is that what people honestly call me? Because that's really stupid."
"You're missing the point!" You sputter even as you blush bright red. "Like it or not, you are Jade West and people care too much about your life. I mean, people have been watching you for as long as I can remember."
"Well, maybe I don't feel like being on display today." She exhales quietly, shaking her head a bit. Then you're watching her roll her shoulders back, straightening her spine and sealing the cracks in her wall that you hadn't realized were split open until this very moment. "Whatever, go to class. I'm leaving."
She turns on her heel, heading towards her car with her keys in her hand and then you're reaching out and curling your finger around her wrist because you can't stand to watch her walk away or to watch the gaps in her walls close up. "Jade, wait."
"What?" She spits, glancing at you over her shoulder and you smile a little bit, nervous and something else that makes the corner of your mouth twitch.
"Just…Where are we going?"
"I need coffee." Is all she says and you release her wrist reluctantly but follow close behind.
You kind of thought that when Jade said she needed coffee that you guys would end up in one of the trillion Starbucks around the school but that would be too easy and if there's one thing Jade West isn't its easy. So, you stay quiet as she hops on the freeway and follow signs for Santa Monica.
The coffee shop is practically on the beach. Its small and artsy with writing scrolled on every available surface and a jukebox in the corner. It smells like coffee and beach simultaneously and you inhale carefully as you guys join the line to order.
"How did you find this place?" You wonder, glancing around while trying in vain to shake some sand out of your boot.
"Me and Beck use to come here all the time." She grunts and you nod glancing around the place. You can't help but notice a tall, attractive guy watching the two of you for a moment before standing and heading over.
You've already mentally prepared a nice, gentle rejection when he smiles at you but he turns away just as you open your mouth to tell him that you're flattered but currently spending time with your friend.
"It would be really forward of me if I said you were beautiful, wouldn't it?" He says to Jade who turns to give him a lazy once over.
"Yeah and lame. Really lame." She says after a moment before turning back around and he nods, glancing at you with a half smile.
"Then I am definitely not saying that. In fact, I came all the way over here to inform you that you, ma'am, are hideous."
He has Jade's interest instantly and she whirls around to face him slowly.
"You're pretty ugly too."
"So, can I buy you a coffee? Considering how unattractive we both are?" He asks and Jade arches a slow eyebrow, a smile teasing the corners of her mouth and all you can think about as you stand beside her is Beck's admission this morning and the out of place feeling that is currently pushing outwards against your ribs.
"What if I don't want coffee?" Jade challenges, biting down on the amusement playing at her mouth and this boy with sandy hair that's that really great kind of messy and a perpetual knit in his brow that smoothes away when he smiles, just steps closer to Jade like he wants all of her attention, like he deserves it. "What if I want tea or hot chocolate? Maybe just water?"
"No, you're a coffee girl." He says like he knows and you roll your eyes and cross your arms over your stomach.
"Oh, you think so?"
" Yeah, I don't think I've ever seen you around school without a coffee cup in your hand." He says easily, hands shoved into the shallow pockets of his slim jeans. He's wearing a soft, worn tee shirt and leather loafers and looks like he fell right out of an H&M ad.
"How come your not in school right now?" You frown and you are promptly ignored by Jade and this boy. "Does everyone come here or something?"
"Stalker." Jade accuses quietly and he smiles, revealing a small, disgustingly charming gap between his front teeth.
"Maybe, a little." His smile broadens. "So, are you gonna let me spend money on you or…"
"What if someone else is already buying me coffee." Jade wonders, glancing at you pointedly and you smile awkwardly as he follows her gaze. He laughs a little, giving you a nod of his head before focusing on Jade again.
"You, Jade West, have a severe caffeine problem. I'm willing to wait until you need another fix and when that time comes, hopefully your friend will be willing to let me buy you a drink." He says easily, rocking back on his heels and Jade's teeth sink into her bottom lip.
All of this flirting is literally making you nauseas so when the line shifts forward and the barista asks for your order you clear your throat pointedly. "I will have one of your chai-est lattes and my friend will have…"
You trail off and glance at Jade expectantly while she proceeds to ignore you.
"So, what's your name Money Bags?" Jade asks with a smirk pulling at her mouth.
"Lennon." He says and he doesn't even attempt to shake Jade's hand, just runs his fingers through the front of his hair.
"Like the Russian Marxists?" Jade grins and Lennon chuckles.
"Like the legendary singer-songwriter." He corrects, hazel eyes focusing on you suddenly. "And it looks like your friend, along with the people in line behind us, are awaiting your order with baited breath."
"Coffee. Black." Jade says without even looking at you and you roll your eyes.
Lennon lets out a vaguely triumphant chuckle, "Until next time, Jade."
"Whatever." Jade says all breathy and girly and you roll your eyes again, turning to finish giving the barista your order as Lennon walks away with a glance over his shoulder.
"What was that?" You chuckle uneasily as Jade wanders back to your side, glancing around in time to catch the look Jade shares with Lennon over your head. "I mean…like, what was that?"
"He looks like James Dean." Jade murmurs as an explanation and you gape in a way your sure is definitely attractive before she shrugs and ambles over to an empty table.
You follow her, crashing down in the chair across from her before pointing an accusatory finger across the table. "You were flirting! You were flirting with that man-boy! I've never seen you flirt! It was like seeing an elephant snowboard or something! For some reason it gave me indigestion though…"
Jade leans forward to snap at your still extended index finger with her teeth and you jerk your hand to your chest with a gasp. "Relax Tori, its just flirting."
"But it seemed like he really liked you." You point out and Jade arches an eyebrow.
"Don't sound so surprised." She grunts. "Some people do actually like me."
The waitress chooses then to bring you guys your drinks and you smile your thanks before focusing on Jade who's already watching you burn your tongue on your chai latte.
"C'mon. I know there's plenty of people that enjoy your incredibly morose sensibility." You offer and Jade rolls her eyes but smiles in this way that's so genuine that something in your brain literally stalls, your cup hovering near your mouth for too long and scorching your palm.
"You okay there?" Jade wonders and you nod, clearing your throat and setting down your cup. "So, uhm, speaking of flirting. Has Beck finally asked you out so you guys can make vaguely middle-eastern looking children yet?"
Her words are airy and carefree but her eyes focus on the pattern on the tabletop before she pushes her coffee cup against her mouth. Your stomach sinks a little at the way her voice sounds.
"No. I mean, I made it very clear that I wasn't interested." You say clearly, practically screaming it across the small coffee shop.
"I was kinda there, remember? So, ya know, no need to yell." Jade mumbles, glancing at the few people scattered around you. "But…So, he hasn't."
"No. No." You whisper and Jade nods, tapping her thumb against the rim of the cup. "And even if he did I would never ever do that to you since we're friends and all."
Jade just nods again quietly and you shrug. "He, uhm, actually asked about you this morning. I think he misses you or something."
Jade lifts her eyes at that, looking at you wordlessly with her insanely blue eyes. You shift uncomfortably under her gaze for a second before pushing to your feet. "I'm gonna go play something on the jukebox."
You nod, heading across the shop to the jukebox. You dig some quarters out of your pocket and drop them in before punching the buttons. You don't recognize any of the songs offered save for one Ginger Fox that you're pretty sure is only for irony, not for actual playing. You shrug, pressing B-19 because you like the name of the song. A male voice immediately creeps from the speakers all around the café, soft and sincere and nearly unintelligible.
She may contain the urge to run awayBut hold her down with soggy clothes and breezeblocksCitrezene your fever's gripped me againNever kisses all you ever send are fullstops
Then the faint strum of the guitar builds into something steady and gains the soft tinkle of a piano and a chaotic drum beat as you walk back to Jade.
You sit gingerly, cupping your hands around your warm coffee cup and tasting the burn on the tip of your tongue then Jade is looking at you with eyes that remind you of dying stars in space while the song wonders: Do you know where the wild things go?
"What's good Robin Hood?" Andre greets as he walks through your front door and you look up from the couch as he heads straight for your kitchen.
"Are you greeting me or my food?" You laugh as he pulls out a bowl of grapes from the refrigerator before heading back towards you.
"The food." Andre shrugs, dropping down beside you. "But also you. Whats up? You ditch today?"
You pick up the remote and flip off Celebrities Underwater before tucking your legs underneath you and facing Andre. "Yeah. Jade took me to this awesome coffee place in Santa Monica and then we hung out on the pier for a while."
"You hung out with Jade West?" Andre chokes around a grape. "And she brought you home alive instead of leaving you swimming with the fishes?"
"I know its weird but Jade is cool when she's not being all homicidal." You defend even as Andre continues to skeptically eyeball you.
"Are you in danger Tori?" Andre whispers, glancing around your living room and you roll your eyes at him. "Blink once for yes and twice for no."
"Andre!" you laugh. "I'm fine and Jade really is cool."
Andre chuckles as you whack him on the shoulder. "Hey, I already know. Me and Jade get each other. In fact, she's gonna help me shop for clothes for my gig next weekend."
"Yeah, Jade's got great style." Andre nods, stuffing his mouth again. "So, you guys been hanging out a lot?"
"Not a lot." You shrug, stealing a few grapes. "Just more."
"It's good that you guys are finally acting like friends." Andre says. "Now turn the TV back on. I want to see if David Schwimmer drowns."
It's 3AM and there are footsteps on the stairs.
You're huddled under your blanket as your bedroom door creaks open, a scream loud enough to wake up the neighborhood building in your chest.
"Don't scream." Jade drawls as she shuts your bedroom door like she didn't just scare the crap out of you. "It's me."
You manage to choke down your cry of pure fear and tug your blanket from over your head as Jade ambles across your bedroom. "Is that supposed to make me feel better?!"
"It's not my fault your house is ridiculously easy to break into." She says, smiling at you brightly when you lean over and flip on your bedside lamp. She's wearing these tiny shorts and an oversized sweatshirt with sleeves that hang over her hands and you smile a little at that even though it still feels like your heart will break past your ribs at any second. "Also, someone breaks into your house and you hide under a blanket?"
"What're you doing her? Besides giving out free heart attacks." You sigh, pressing the heel of your hand to your chest as you watch her walk closer before face planting gracefully onto your bed with a groan.
"You said you'd help me." She says loudly against the mattress and you blink absently at the pale length of her legs.
"Help you what?" You wonder, flopping back against your pillows and shutting your eyes and saving yourself from a late night eye gouging. "What could you possibly need help with at this hour?"
"With my audition." She mumbles before turning her head and you can feel her peering up at you from where she's lying with her head near your shoulder. "That night you got totally wasted you said you wanted to help me."
You have very vague memories of the conversation but you shake your head. "Jade…"
"You also said you wanted to touch me." Jade whispers. "That you wanted to know me."
Your face flushes bright red and your eyes fly open. "Okay! Alright! I'll help you just-just shut up."
"You're not the boss of me." She mumbles, stretching her arms over her head until her hands disappear under a pillow.
"You know, that night you called me a good friend." You point out and Jade glares at you.
"Shut up." She hisses glancing around like she's afraid there's an audience.
"Do you have anything in particular that you want to perform?" You sigh, rubbing your hands against your eyes and when you look at Jade again, she's already watching you. "What?"
"Nothing. You just look awful right now." She shrugs and you squawk indignantly.
"It's three in the morning!" You hiss, reaching up to run your fingers through your hair. "Can you just not-"
"I have a couple things I want to do but I can't get the stupid monologue from 10 Things I Hate About You out of my head." She exhales the hard, rolling onto her back and pulling your pillow over her face. You watch her chest rise as she breathes in deeply.
"So do that." You say and Jade lifts the pillow to arch her brow at you.
"Are you kidding me? This might be the biggest audition of my career. I'm not doing some cheesy piece from a teen rom-com." She scoffs and the strange mix of embarrassment and anger that only she seems to be able to invoke floods your chest. "Don't be stupid."
"Just do it!" You hiss and Jade rolls her eyes dramatically before flipping over onto her stomach again and your eyes trail down to her legs again, at her sneakers floating absently as she kicks her legs back and forth.
"Don't tell me what to do." She spits back at you and you have a really, really strong urge to just go back to sleep because its nearly four in the morning and your arguing with Jade West in your bed after she broke into your house and asked you for help. But Jade gives a long suffering sigh before clearing her throat. "But for the record, this will not be my audition piece."
"Fine. But its good practice." You point out, watching Jade push herself up into a cross legged position in the middle of your bed.
"Don't you think I know that?" She grunts but her words lack her usual but increasingly less frequent venom. You stare as her eyes flutter closed and she licks her lips slowly and then she looks at you and your startled.
Her eyes are bright and honest and hurt and you swallow and sit up against the headboard a little more.
"I hate the way you talk to me. And the way you cut your hair." She starts easily, eyes focused on you like you're the most annoying thing she's ever come in contact with. You realize that you haven't seen that look on her face in a while. "I hate the way you drive my car. I hate it when you stare.
"I hate your big dumb combat boots. And the way you read my mind." you smile a little bit even as Jade takes a deep breath, like the words are sticking in her throat while her eyes soften. "I hate you so much it makes me sick-It even makes me rhyme."
Then Jade's voice thickens and her eyes glisten and that faint smile curling your lips evaporates as she croaks the next lines. "I hate the way you're always right. I hate it when you lie. I hate it when you make me laugh - even worse when you make me cry."
She looks away for a moment, squeezing her eyes shut against the tears or maybe to gather more but from your perspective it reads as emotion, rushing and inescapable and you shift forward some as your skin prickles. "I hate it that you're not around. And the fact that you didn't call."
Her eyes lift to yours again, shining blue while these beautiful, fat tears roll down her cheeks and your hands clench at the bedding stupidly as she finishes in a tight, broken voice. "But mostly I hate the way I don't hate you...not even close, not even a little bit, not even at all."
There's a beat of silence where you're just gaping at Jade because you've always known that Jade is talented but you realize in this moment that high school musicals aren't really doing her justice.
"Jade! That-that was amazing!" You finally sputter after what feels like years and Jade blinks once, hard, and then she's smirking. She's Jade again, just like that. The wounded girl who just spoke those words is already tucked away somewhere and the Jade you recognize is wiping at her eyes with a snort.
"Keep your pants on, Vega." She says and you flush suddenly, leaning away from her again. "It's just acting. I mean, phenomenal acting but acting nonetheless."
"My pants are very secure, thank you very much." You point out, slumping against the pillows again. "And if you're so aware of how phenomenal your acting is, what're you doing here?"
"I'm always looking to improve my acting and open to a little constructive criticism." She shrugs, glancing at her nails pointedly and you release a disbelieving grumble that makes her roll her eyes. "And I may or may not be freaking out about this audition."
"Jade, you're gonna do great." You point out and Jade just looks at you in a way that's unnerving mostly because you have no idea what she's thinking.
"How do you know?" She finally asks and you shrug.
"You're really talented."
"Oh," she moans and your eyes widen. "Say that again. It gets me all excited to hear that come out of your pretty mouth."
"Oh my god." You groan, leaning over to turn off the lamp before shuffling down into bed. "Go to sleep."
"Who says I'm sharing a bed with you again? You've got wandering hands and I dunno if I'm up for getting groped all night long. Again." Jade says into the darkness and you close your eyes, rolling so your back is facing her.
"Okay, then bye. Lock the door on the way out." You mutter, tucking your blanket under your chin. There's silence for a long moment that's broken by the sound of shoes being dropped over the edge of the bed.
"What happen to the girl that insisted I spend the night because she was terrified I'd get kidnapped?" Jade sneers even as she lays herself out beside you, on top of the blanket. "I kinda liked her."
"She's sleeping." You mumble and Jade is quiet and solid beside you. You're not going back to sleep, because Jade's wide awake next to you and who knows what she'd do to you! Though, she's already proven to be able to control herself and not murder you in your sleep but still, your stomach feels fluttery.
"Most people only get one chance, ya know?" Jade starts quietly as you stare blindly into the pitch black of your room. "To make it big. To be something. What if I-I mean…I can't screw this up."
You turn over slowly, staring at Jade's profile. "You wont."
"You don't know that."
"Yes. I do." You whisper. "Jade, have you met you?"
She laughs a little bit at that and you smile at the sound. "Once or twice."
"Then you know that you're amazingly talented and if for some reason the people in the audition room don't see it…then its their loss."
Jade turns to stare at you, you can feel it and you can barely make out the features of her face. "You're good at that. Making people not feel awful about their terrible lives."
"Thanks." You grin, "Now go to sleep."
"I need to ask you something!"
Andre grumbles something unintelligible across the line and you roll your eyes before shouting his name.
"What?! What is it?! Who's dead?!" Andre yelps and you groan, pressing your bare feet against the cold bathroom tile while you blink at the soft morning light seeping under the bathroom door where you sit in the pitch black.
"No one's dead, Andre." You hiss.
"Then why're you calling me so early on a Saturday?" He groans and you sigh, plucking at your toes with the hand not curled around your Pearphone.
"I need help. Advise, actually…I think…" You mutter and Andre sighs, shifting.
"What if I told you that Jade West was in my bed right now?" You blurt and there's a frozen silence on the other end.
"I'd ask if you'd lost your mind." Andre says very carefully after a moment and you squeeze your eyes closed.
"What if I told you that this isn't the first time I've woken up beside Jade West and every time I do I spend a long, creepy amount of time watching her sleep." You screech desperately.
"I'd ask if you guys are wearing clothes when this happens?!" He demands and you can tell he's wide awake now.
"Everyone is fully dressed, I just…I'm just…" You trail off, dragging a hand over your face helplessly.
"Ohmygod." Andre breathes. "Oh no."