Author's Note: I was interested in exploring a bit of Jade's home life as well as the early phase of her relationship with Beck, so I wrote this. I hope you enjoy.
Disclaimer: Victorious © Dan Schneider
She can remember, very clearly, the moment when she began to absolutely hate her father.
Her first grade class is putting on a special little Christmas pageant. It's all very sweet and adorable and oh-so-precious to all the parents, but to six-year-old Jade West, it's so much more. A burning hunger immediately strikes within her small body when her teacher says that everyone will have to audition to see who best suits each role.
A grin then forms across her thin pink lips as she pictures herself standing on stage in front of everyone, dressed in some sort of beautiful, sparkly costume, singing her heart out, because she's been taking singing lessons and her mommy keeps telling her that she's really good, good enough to be a star.
And so, while all the other first graders are filing into the auditorium for try outs, Jade calmly walks up to her teacher and tugs hard on her long brown skirt to get her attention.
"I wanna be the star of the play," she tells her. "Make me the star or I'll scream."
Her teacher, a slightly overweight woman with long black hair, looks startled for a moment, but then she smiles as she crouches down so that she's at eye-level with young Jade.
"I'm sorry, Jade, but it doesn't work that way," her teacher says gently, but Jade's eyes instantly flare with anger, and her once sweet teacher looks plain evil to her now. "You'll have to try out like all your classmates."
Jade scrunches her eyebrows together and puts her hands on her hips.
"Fine!" she shouts, turning away and stomping up to the stage. She crosses her arms over her chest and waits as her classmates begin to try out, one by one, each one worse than the one before. Finally, when it's her turn to try out, she walks out and gives a forced smile, uncrossing her arms and taking the microphone.
She starts to sing, her voice small at first, but quickly growing in power. When she finishes, she looks right at the teacher, who smiles and nods her head, writing something down on the clipboard in her lap. Jade smiles cockily and turns abruptly, whipping her dress as she walks off.
But just when she think she's got this whole thing in the bag, out walks one last girl, blonde, curly hair, two missing teeth. She smiles all sugary sweet, and Jade just wants to puke at the sight of her. And then the girl starts to sing, all syrupy and soft, and Jade thinks she's really going to puke now, but on the outside she just crosses her arms over her chest and lowers her eyebrows in anger.
Her teacher, on the other hand, looks happy. A little too happy.
Needless to say, little miss Goldilocks gets the lead role.
Jade gets chorus.
Like she's not even good enough for a speaking part.
And the night of the performance, when she's dressed in all black (the only good part about the whole thing, since it's her favorite color), her mommy tells her that she looks "so cute," but all Jade does is put a pout on her face and stomp her foot on the ground.
"But I'm not the star, Mommy!" she fumes. "That other girl is better than me!"
She's too young to realize that the anger she's feeling inside is actually jealousy. All she knows is that she wants to break something, or maybe use her special pair of small purple scissors to cut up the felt Christmas tree that's been specially made for the play.
"You're still a star, Jade," her mother says, leaning down and giving her a wet kiss on the cheek, which Jade immediately wipes off. "Isn't that right, honey?"
Jade looks up at her father then. He's on his cell phone, clearly too busy for her. Her mother nudges his shoulder, but he barely even so much as looks at her.
"Yes, yes, of course, whatever you say, dear," he says hastily, still carrying on with his all-too-important phone conversation.
That night, Jade sits up in her bed, way past her bedtime, holding her pair of scissors between her small fingers, imagining herself going into her parents' closet and cutting up some of her Daddy's favorite shirts. She opens and closes the scissors, listening to the lovely metallic slicing noise the blades make.
A smile plays dangerously across her lips.
From that point on, her singing blossoms; her acting does, too. By the time she reaches middle school, she kills with her singing, finally landing the leading parts that she so rightfully deserves.
Eventually, she gets accepted into Hollywood Arts. It's a milestone for two reasons: one, she knows it'll be a huge stepping stone for her to move towards a real singing and acting career, since only talented people go there, and two…
"Wow. You're an amazing singer."
He grins at her, a warm and friendly smile.
She doesn't grin back.
"I'm Beck, by the way," he says, stretching his hand out towards her.
"Jade," she says without taking it, and she watches with a certain feeling of triumph as he nods his head and brings his hand back, awkwardly running it through his hair.
That's when she smiles, wickedly, because in that moment, she just knows she's going to make him hers.
"How many girls have you dated?" Jade asks Beck a week later.
His eyebrows shoot up as he sets down his large cup of coffee right next to hers on the lunch table.
"How many girls have I dated?" he repeats.
Jade stares at him, unblinking.
She's fourteen, still maturing, her light brown hair pulled back in a high ponytail, her fingernails chipping with black nail polish. She's got dark green hair extensions clipped in her hair; she's thinking about adding some pale blue in there, too. She knows she's awkward looking; she's too skinny, and she's probably wearing way too much eye shadow, not to mention, her boobs have literally doubled in size in the past year, whereas the rest of her body still has yet to catch up.
She thinks she looks ugly, and yet, she knows that he thinks she looks beautiful.
"None," he finally answers.
Jade raises her own eyebrows then.
"None?" she repeats, not buying it for a second, because, she's gotta admit, this kid's hot. Real suave, too. He doesn't play games, she can tell. He just tells it like it is. She's not really used to that, but she's finding that she kind of likes it.
"None," he says firmly.
She frowns, leaning back in her seat.
"What about you?" Beck finally asks, picking up his coffee again. "You seem like the kinda girl who loves breaking guys' hearts. How many guys have you dated?"
At that, her lips twitch, threatening to turn upward in a smirk, but she holds her stoic look as she looks at him.
"None," she says.
Beck smiles freely then; he doesn't even try to hide it. He doesn't try to hide anything.
She's really not used to this.
"Well," is all he says in response, but then, he does something that completely takes her by surprise.
He leans over the table, scooping up her right hand in his. Her lips part and her heart skips a beat, but she makes no sign of her sudden fear as she looks at him. His brown eyes are practically twinkling as he lifts her hand to his face.
"I guess there's a first time for everything."
And then he kisses her hand, very softly, very quickly, but it's still enough to completely freak Jade out in a way that she's never been freaked out before. Her eyes bulge as she immediately yanks her hand away from him. She blinks, staring wildly, a single breath escaping her lips, and then—
She gets up and leaves.
That night, as she helps her mom clear the dinner table (her father has already retired to his office), Jade feels a question burning up inside her throat that's been on her mind ever since that Beck kid went and—
"Mom, what do you do if a guy tries to kiss you?"
Her mother freezes, dish in hand.
"What?" she says, turning to Jade. "A boy tried to kiss you?"
"This guy in my class, Beck Oliver, he kissed my hand today," Jade explains. That's one thing she's learned ever since she started talking to Beck, that is, that beating around the bush is just plain stupid and annoying. If you got something to say, just spit it out. "And then I slapped him."
"You…you slapped him?" her mother says, eyes widened, looking downright frightened all of a sudden. She sets down the plate and takes a step closer to Jade. "Oh, honey."
Jade takes a step back, knowing her mom wants to hug her. She won't let her, though. She hates hugs.
"What should I do if he tries to kiss me on the lips?" Jade asks, wishing her mother wouldn't make such a big deal about this and just give her a straight answer.
Her mom stops, now frowning, looking somehow disappointed in her. Jade hates that look.
"Well, Jade, if this boy makes you feel uncomfortable, you shouldn't have to put up with him for even a second," her mother finally says, and then, much to Jade's chagrin, her mom reaches out and places her hands on her thin shoulders. "If he bothers you again, just tell me, and I'll take care of it. Okay, sweetie?"
Jade stares at her mother with unmoving, emotionless eyes. Slowly, she grins.
The next day at school, Jade finds Beck in the hallway, taking books out of his transparent locker. She squeezes the strap of her bag as she walks up to him, her heartbeat increasing with each step. When she stops, he looks up at her, opening his mouth to say something, but before he can, she reaches up with both hands and grabs his face.
Her heart's already beating so hard in her chest, like it's trying to burst out of her, but before she can lose her nerve, she forcefully pulls him down in one swift tug, crushing her lips against his in a hard kiss.
Her first kiss.
She feels that same tingly, panicking feeling she felt when he kissed her hand the other day, only now it's so much more intense, making her feel…strange. A good strange. A mixture of emotions; dizzy, confused, excited, nervous.
Now, this, she can't say she hates.
His lips move rhythmically against hers, making her think that he actually kind of knows what he's doing here. She's not really sure what to do at all, though, so she mimics his movements for a few seconds, before she starts getting too dizzy and frustrated. Finally, she pulls away with a thick smack, feeling satisfied, for now, at least.
And the look on his face when she opens her eyes is absolutely priceless; he's shocked beyond belief. It makes her smirk, makes her feel like she won somehow, at what, she doesn't really know, but she definitely likes the feeling.
"What…was that?" he asks.
Her smirk widens as she gives him a simple shrug. She's trying to play innocent and dumb now, but she knows she's not very good at it. (So, she still needs to work on her acting a little bit, so what?)
"I wanted to kiss you before you kissed me," she finally says.
"Oh," is all he says.
"So. I guess I'll…see you around," she says, then lifts an eyebrow, trying to be sexy now, because really, she's got this so in the bag that it's almost too easy. "…Beck." She suddenly reaches up with one hand, running her palm over his cheek. Smooth. She likes it.
But then he reaches up, clasping his hand against hers, slowly lowering her hand from his face. She feels the flutter in her chest and warmth rise to her cheeks.
"You're not like most girls," he states. True. She can't deny that. A smile graces his face as adds, very boldly, "I like you."
The heat rises even faster to her cheeks. Yeah, she's definitely not used to this.
She still manages to keep her cool, though. She smiles at him.
"I'm glad," she says.
She really means it, too.
"Wow, you guys make such a cute couple!" squeals Cat, an irritatingly sweet girl that somehow managed to befriend Jade. The girl's kind of an airhead, not to mention way, way too happy…but she can sing, and Jade respects that.
"We're not cute," Jade says, practically gagging at the word. "Okay?"
"Yeah, you guys are hot," says Rex, a puppet belonging to a complete and utter nerd named Robbie, who also somehow started hanging around Jade and Beck recently. It's a weird occurrence that Jade doesn't bother to look too much into, because frankly, she doesn't really care. (After all, Hollywood Arts is just full of all sorts of freaks.)
"Did you just call us hot?" Jade asks, looking directly at Robbie. He gulps and immediately shakes his head, before awkwardly pointing to his puppet. Jade grins slyly as she leans over the lunch table, getting into Robbie's face. Her smile widens when she sees him visibly shiver in fear. "Tell your little wooden friend over there to keep his dick in his pants."
Cat immediately lets out a high-pitched cry, throwing her hands over her ears.
"Language, babe, language," Beck says, and Jade freezes suddenly, feeling her heart stop, too. She whips her head around to look at him.
"What did you just call me?" she demands.
"Uhhh…I'm sorry, do you not want me to call you that?" Beck asks, sounding genuinely apologetic.
Jade stares at him for a while. They've only been dating for a week; of course she doesn't want him to call her that!
"Whatever, it's fine," she says dismissively, finally returning to her lunch, looking bored and purposely ignoring the looks her new friends are giving her.
Later, when she's alone, she uses her scissors to carve out hers and Beck's initials into a tree. She runs her fingertips against the bumpy ridges of the bark, and as she does, the corners of her lips crick upward in a very small, but very real smile.
"Tell me a secret, Beck," Jade says one night, a month or so later, as she lies next to her boyfriend on his twin size, sort-of-uncomfortable bed inside his RV.
Beck looks at her, his face inches away from hers, his tan skin looking pale beneath the glow of the moonlight that spills through the window.
"I have no secrets," he says simply. "Remember?"
"Then tell me something you haven't told me about yourself yet," Jade says, a bit impatiently.
She doesn't care if she's being demanding; she just really wants to learn something about him, something that no one else knows about him. She wants to own more of his heart, more so than what she's already claimed as hers.
"Okay," he finally says, pausing for a moment. "Well…I don't really get along with my dad."
"Really?" Jade asks, although she can't really say she's surprised, being that he lives in an RV in his parents' driveway rather than in the same house as them. Still, she finds it interesting. In fact, it's kind of ironic, in a way. She smacks her lips together, telling him, almost proudly, "Me neither."
"Really?" Beck asks, sounding surprised.
"Uh huh," Jade says, then adds, without thinking twice about it, "but it's only because my dad's a heartless prick who doesn't support me or even give two shits about my mom."
"Whoa," Beck says, sounding even more shocked, but whether it's because he's appalled by her foul language or what, she can't really tell. "Those are some harsh words."
"Yeah, well, it's the truth," Jade says simply.
Beck doesn't say anything else then. He just snakes an arm around her waist, pulling her to his chest. She tenses for a moment, but then just lets go and closes her eyes, breathing in his warm, intoxicating scent.
In that moment, she can't really describe what she's feeling exactly, but all she knows is that she's never felt anything like it before. It's different; good different. She feels dizzy again, her heart banging in her chest, lightheaded, maybe even a little bit vulnerable.
Yet, at the same time, she also feels safe, powerful, like she's completely indestructible in his arms.
She briefly wonders if this is what falling in love feels like.
"Mom, how do you know when you're in love?" Jade asks her mother one night, sitting beside her on the couch.
She's fifteen now, and she hasn't really changed much, except that she now dons a new shiny, silver piercing in her left eyebrow, and a glimmering diamond-stud piercing in her nose.
And ever since she got those piercings, her oh-so-loving Daddy barely so much as even looks at her anymore, let alone talks to her, almost like he's disgusted by her or something. (Of course, he barely ever talked to her to begin with, not that he's ever even around to talk to her, but still, it's definitely gotten worse now that she's getting older.)
Not that she cares.
"Well, Jade, love is…it's something that's hard to explain," her mom tells her. "It's the kind of thing where you just…know. You feel it in your heart. You can't really put it into words, but it feels incredible, like you can do anything because you have that person in your life. I don't know; does that make any sense, sweetheart?"
She thinks about Beck then, how his face always seems to light up whenever he sees her walking up to him in the hallway, or how he kisses her, softly sometimes, other times with more passion, the way she likes it, a little rough, a little heated. She thinks about all the nice compliments he gives her, telling her how she's so beautiful, or she's really smart, or she's such an amazing singer.
And she just knows that the reason he says and does all those things is because he's in love with her. He has to be. There's no other explanation as to why a person would act so…stupid.
"Yeah," she says, finally. "Yeah, that makes sense." She's silent for a moment, but then, another question starts to bother her, and she just has to ask it. "So…do you feel that way about Dad?"
Her mother looks at her, startled again.
"Of course," she says after a moment, collecting herself. "Of course I do, honey."
Jade decides to leave that question alone for now.
It's a warm, clear night, mid-June, the start of summer. Beck and Jade are lying down on the hood of his RV, looking up at the stars. (Beck insisted on doing it because he thought it would be romantic; Jade only agreed because she likes sitting on top of stuff.)
Her heart flutters. Again. Every time.
She draws her lips together, feeling her heartbeat picking up in her chest. She wants to tell him tonight, those three little words that everyone loves to hear, but are so hard to say. She parts her lips, almost letting out a noise, but then, instead of speaking those words, she leans over, connecting her lips with his.
It's a soft kiss, lips flushed against lips, but when she tries to pull away from him, he leans forward, tilting his chin slightly, deepening the kiss. She reacts by wrapping her arms around his neck, like it's some kind of reflex, her fingers tangling into his perfectly soft and silky hair.
Then she feels his hands, first pressing against her back, before they start to slip lower. She feels them slide underneath her shirt and begin to work their way up her back again, and she can't help but notice that his warm palms somehow feel soothing against her bare skin.
She feels him slide his hands further upward, to the middle of her back, and then, suddenly, there's a tug on her bra strap. She makes a noise, like a startled moan, and he immediately pulls away from her, panting.
"Jade? What's wrong? Did I go too far just now?" he asks, eyes widened, voice slightly cracked.
She just stares at him for a moment, her mind reeling, her heart pounding. Is she ready for this?
Wordlessly, she shakes her head at him.
"Are you sure?" he asks, like he's searching for a way out.
She blinks. Then, slowly, still silently, she starts nodding her head, allowing her eyes to flutter shut as she begins to pull him closer again.
"Okay," he murmurs, thankfully getting the message, and just before their lips press together once more, he says, "but if you want me to stop, just say so."
They kiss again, deeply, hungrily, their hands sneaking underneath clothes, palms running over bare flesh, breaths labored, hearts beating in mismatched rhythms. She moans, letting her mind slip beneath this wave of unknown and forbidden pleasure.
And she doesn't say a single word.
She comes home at five thirty in the morning. She's exhausted and her hair's a mess, and all she wants to do is take a long hot shower and crawl into her bed for a few hours before she has to get up again and officially start the day.
The linoleum-tiled kitchen floor feels cold against her bare feet; she shivers when she touches it, closing the door behind her. It creaks; she winces, and then, suddenly, she hears a different noise, and she freezes.
A soft breath escapes her lips, shattering the silence. As quietly as she can, she begins to pad her way through the kitchen, and it's when she crosses the threshold that leads into the living room that she stops, frozen in her tracks, like a deer caught in the headlights.
She sees her father, all shaved and fully dressed, coming down the steps. He stops on the last step of the staircase.
"Jade," he says, surprised. "What are you doing up?"
She's smacked with a strange feeling then, one that's a mixture of weird relief and unexpected anger. Her hands tighten; she wants to snap some sort of snide remark at him, but whether it's because she's too tired, or too stunned by this weird emotion, she finds herself unable to come up with one.
"I…just…got up to get some water," she says instead, because she knows her dad will be too stupid to notice that, hello, she's wearing jeans and a tank top, the same outfit as the night before, and her shoes are in her hand, and her lipstick's all smudged and her hair is in knots.
"All right," is all her dad says. "I'm going to work."
He turns and walks across the living room. She hears the door open and close, and when it does, she closes her eyes and sighs.
It isn't until she's halfway up the stairs that her heart drops from a sudden realization: today's Saturday.
From that point on, she begins to pay close attention to her father's actions. She notices what time he leaves in the morning, and what time he comes home at night. She notices how his excuses that he needs to 'work late' are such complete and utter bullshit that she almost feels stupid that she had never been able to see right through them until now.
She also notices that her mother remains clueless in all of this, either clueless or in denial, Jade isn't sure.
But Jade still watches, with hard eyes, piercing like ice. She watches her father's every move; she watches his face, the way his forehead shines with sweat when he comes home late from 'work,' the way his collar is sometimes turned inside out, or how a button on the cuff-link of his stupid nice shirts is always unbuttoned.
Then she starts to notice other things, like the fact that her father never touches her mother. He never puts an arm around her waist, or gives her a kiss on the cheek, or shows any sign of affection towards her whatsoever. All he does is occasionally look at her with those cold eyes of his (and, maybe, that ability to give such a hard gaze is the one trait Jade's inherited from him), but beneath his cold, unfeeling eyes is something else, a spark of secret lust, and worse, they're not even masked behind any trace of human guilt.
So, Jade waits, as weeks and weeks go by, as the evidence begins to pile up more and more. She knows that all she needs is that one final push, that blatant lie, a lipstick stain, an accidental phone call, just something, before she can finally call her father out on being the pathetic and worthless liar she's always known he is.
"What's wrong?" Beck asks her one late summer night.
Jade sits up on his pull-out bed, a thin linen blanket covering her otherwise naked body. Now, instead of feeling relaxed and sleepy, the way she usually feels after they do…that, she feels anxious, maybe even a little bit worried.
All because of her stupid father and his horrible, horrible secrets.
Jade turns her head to look at Beck, who's now sitting up as well, placing a hand on her thigh. The look on his face is filled with concern, and she can't help but wish he'd stop looking at her like that, with those nervous eyes, because she hates when people feel bad for her, especially him.
So she closes her eyes, leans in, and kisses him on the lips, firmly, letting the dwindling passion from their latest tryst linger between them for a few seconds longer, before she slowly pulls back.
"Nothing," she says at last, though her voice comes out surprisingly soft when she says it, so she has to say it again. "Nothing's wrong."
It's a lie, but there's also some truth behind it, because nothing's wrong when she's with him, at least.
Two days later, her mother finds out.
Jade wakes up from a sound sleep in the middle of the night to the sound of a glass breaking. Her heart jumps as her eyes blink and stare open widely in the pitch blackness of her room. She tries to close her eyes again, pretending like she didn't hear anything, but then she hears her mother shouting, and another glass breaking. Finally, she flings off the covers and rushes out of her room, stopping at the banister that overlooks the living room.
"GET OUT! GET OUT! GET THE FUCK OUT!"
Her eyes widen at the sight of her parents. Her mother, always calm and sweet and soft-spoken, is now screaming, screaming, and Jade's never been more terrified of her. She absentmindedly squeezes the wooden railing in her hands, her fingers tight, draining in color.
"Stop shouting," her father says, and her heart starts pounding. "You'll wake up the girl."
And then she suddenly feels blood rush up to her ears, because she's the girl, not Jade, not his daughter, just the girl, like she's not even worth being mentioned by first name.
"I don't ever want you to set foot in this house again," her mother says, livid, seething; she's snapped. "I'm filing for divorce tomorrow. And, I swear to God, if you so much as even try to call this house, I'm calling the police." She's in her father's face now, pointing a finger at him, while he's pressed against the door, backed in a corner, jacket in hand. "And, mark my words, you try to come back here, and I'll make sure you'll never get to see your daughter ever again."
Jade lets go of the banister and runs back into her room. She's like a scared little mouse in her movements, scurrying frantically yet quietly. She grabs the first bag she can find, still in the darkness, and throws a change of clothes into it: shirt, pants, bra, underwear; all black.
When she's done, she slips the bag over her shoulder and rushes towards her window, unlocking it and pushing it open.
And the last thing she hears, just before she completely slips out of her room and starts to run away from her house, is the sound of the door slamming shut, like there's no turning back.
When she reaches Beck's RV, pounding a tiny fist against the metal door, it isn't until he opens the door, and she sees him wearing an undershirt and his usually perfect hair looking a total mess, that she realizes she probably should've called or something first.
But she's too freaked out to be thinking rationally.
"My…my dad," she chokes, and the sound of her own voice coming out in sobs only scares her that much more, "…having an affair…my mom…just—she kicked him out—"
Before she can say anything else, Beck's arms are around her, pulling her in close, and she just breaks. She feels herself trembling, hard, her body racked in uncontrollable sobs. She feels him squeeze her back tightly, a hand cradling her head, her face buried in his chest, like he's shielding her from all the ugliness in the world, protecting her from it all.
She lets him gently pull her inside, where she lies next to him on his unmade bed, her sobs gradually quieting down as he continues holding her while stroking her hair, until she eventually drifts to sleep, momentarily forgetting all her troubles.
She wakes up to the feeling of Beck's warm hand sliding down her tear-stained cheek. Her eyes flutter for a moment as his fingers tickle her skin. She tries not to smile, she really does, but as his hand slips down her cheek, fingers gently running along her jaw line, she feels herself break again, and a smile cracks over her face. It's brief, but it's real, so real that it almost scares her.
Slowly, she opens her eyes to see him staring at her. She feels her heartbeat picking up in a thrilling rush of emotions, and she breathes out a little shakily.
"I love you, Beck," she whispers at last.
She watches as a smile of his own breaks out across his face, so much more easily than hers.
"I love you too, Jade," he whispers back.
She breathes in, tilting her head back a little, as if her body has gone limp, like she's dreaming all of this.
"Say it again," she whispers, trying not to sound desperate, but at this point, so early in the morning, when she's still half-asleep and feeling so unbelievably relaxed as she lies next to him, she doesn't really care if she sounds desperate.
She feels his hand slide back up her cheek. It lays there, pressed firmly against her pale skin, his thumb stroking just above her jaw. His eyes are warm as he stares at her, so deeply, so lovingly, as if he never wants to look away from her.
"Jade West, I love you more than you'll ever know."
Then, he leans in, kissing her. It's gentle at first, but it quickly becomes more passionate as he brings up his other hand, locking it in place against her other cheek, his fingers threading into her hair.
And as she kisses him back, touching his smooth face, letting her desires take over, she knows, in the pit of her heart, that she feels exactly the same way about him.