Title: Keep Pushing The Bruise

Summary: Because I don't want to lose what I loved about you. What happened after the vet's office? Tag for Opposite Date.

Length: ~ 1500 words

Rating: Pg. I know. I'm amazed too.

AN: Ok, I'm sure there are dozens of these sort of fics going around right now, but Opposite Date left me with Bade feelings like whoa, so now this exists. Kind of fluffy towards the end. I was also inspired by this quote from an article I read the other day; "But when you really love someone, they become beautiful no matter what sort of nonsense they get themselves into, no matter what they do or say or the various ways in which they infuriate or ignore you." And the song All Good Things by the Weepies, which is where the title is from.

Cat has, somehow, convinced Tori to stay in the Vet's office with her and help facilitate a video chat between her brother's sick turtle and Maureen.

This means that Beck is facing the exciting prospect of putting ointment on his aunt's dog all by his lonesome. It also means that Cat is frighteningly good at getting people to do what she asks, but he already knew that.

Whatever. At least he can get out of the waiting room from hell and the clearly demonic patrons with their annoyingly perceptive questions.

"I'm just gonna…" He trails off and gestures between the dog and the ointment in his hand. Everyone can surely imagine the rest. Tori makes a noise that seems to indicate that she's heard him, so he turns for the door.

He doesn't want to turn and check but he's fairly certain that the little girl with the pigtails and the narcoleptic mother is staring him down the whole time.

He's lifting the dog into the bed of his truck when the door swings open again and he catches someone saying, "probably finish what the damn near started in this waiting room."

"Hey."

He smiles at her voice. It's a habit he never really got over.

He pats the dog's head, shuts the tailgate, and turns. "You sure you want to be out here?"

She scoffs. "What, you think I care what some weirdos in an animal clinic think we're doing out here? You wish."

"Nah, it's not that. Anyone who's out here with me gets to help administer the ointment."

He wags his eyebrows at her.

She folds her arms. "I am absolutely not doing that."

But she's smiling at him, a little, and it's almost how she used to look at him when they were alone, and he really can't help the answering pull of his lips.

"So if you didn't come for the exciting ointment action..."

"I'm putting the child lock on my windows. Earlier, Cat stuck her head out of the passenger side so she could 'lick the air like a dog.' I kid you not."

He cringes. "Yikes."

"Also I, uh, I wanted to ask you why those freaks in there knew who I was?"

Oh right. That. At one point, in a fit of irritation, Jade had started a list entitled, People With Too Much Information On the Relationship of Jade West and Beck Oliver. He should really check the RV and see if it's still there somewhere. He has some names to add.

Jade is tapping her toe on the pavement and when he looks up into her face she's got one eyebrow arched. It kind of makes his stomach hurt, in that way it's been doing every time they've made eye contact since she walked out and he didn't follow.

"Well?"

He runs a hand through his dirty hair and hopes Jade hasn't noticed that he hasn't showered yet today.

"One of them wanted to know if me and Tori were related and answering that led to more questions, and by the time you walked in, we'd already passed so far over the line of what's appropriate to say to strangers that I was actually looking forward to applying dog ointment, and Tori just kept answering things and it made me keep answering things, and then you came and then, well, the they were already too invested to let it go. I probably should have just let them think Tori's my sister, in hindsight."

"You do look sort of similar."

He shudders. "I can't imagine being related to Tori. I'd have to also be related to Trina."

Jade snorts. "Maybe that would finally get her to stop hitting on you. But, you know, probably not."

"Gross, Jade! Oh my God!" he tries to sound disgusted, but it mostly comes out amused.

He's missed this, he realizes. Just spending time with her, joking around. It had been true, what he'd said to Mrs. Nosy back inside. He loves her, still, always. As a friend, if nothing more. But the way her eyes crinkle when she smiles is making his heart beat a little too fast, and he thinks he was maybe going to kiss her in the waiting room if Maureen hadn't reappeared, and it was hardly the first time he's wanted to kiss her since they broke up, even if he blamed the first twenty or so times on it being a habit. If he's being really honest with himself (which he is. It sort of feels like that kind of night) he's never loved her as only a friend. She was his best friend, once upon a time, but that had never been all. They've never been "just friends."

It's not over. He's known for a while now that nothing he does is going to get her out from under his skin.

She's still standing there, still smiling, and before he can think about whether or not it's the wisest move, he's blurting out,

"I would've said you."

Her forehead crinkles, but she hasn't stopped grinning, like she thinks he's going to make another joke. "Huh?"

"That kid who wanted to know who I think is prettier? It's you. I know I didn't answer her, but that wasn't- it wasn't because I needed time to think or anything like that. If she'd asked again, I would've said 'Jade.'"

She's not smiling anymore. "You think I'm prettier than Tori?"

"Of course I do. Being broken up, it doesn't change that. I always think you're pretty."

She shifts from one foot to the other and wraps her arms more tightly around her middle, and it kills him a little that she doesn't know how much his world still revolves around her.

"Even when I'm being bitchy to you?"

"Yeah, even then."

"Even when I-"

"Even when you haven't brushed your hair or put on your makeup or showered and you're trying really hard to set my alarm clock on fire with your mind. Even when you're yelling and you get kind of splotchy. Even when you're crying and you get really splotchy. And snotty. Even when you're sweaty. Always, Jade, okay?"

"Beck..."

Her eyes are wide, and a little shocked, and he remembers what the little girl had said, about girls getting scared inside, and he remembers thinking about how wrong Tori was when she said that Jade isn't scared of anything. She's afraid of being last, of being alone, of being forgotten or left behind, of losing control. So much so, that she leaves first before she's left. What he's never been ever to figure out is why no one else has ever seen through the façade. He still can, even now that she's trying just as hard to fool him along with everyone else. But it's not his place anymore, to see through her mask.

And then he decides he doesn't care what he's allowed or not allowed to do anymore. He wants to say things like this to her again, and she clearly needs to hear them, so why not from him?

He shrugs. "I think you're beautiful. And funny, and smart, and talented, and a bunch of other great things."

He's probably crossed some friendship lines, in that speech, but he really can't be bothered to care.

"Oh." She says, blinking. "Thanks."

"Anytime."

A silence comes over them, and he's in the middle of wondering if it should be uncomfortable, and what it might mean that it's not, and if it would be inappropriate to kiss her, when she speaks again, directly to her shoes.

"You're not so bad either."

"Oh yeah?"

She looks up. "Yeah. Might want to shower though. You're kind of giving off the vibe of a homeless guy who spent the night in a dumpster behind a fish market."

"Good, that's what I was going for."

She rolls her eyes, but she doesn't actually walk back to her own car until Cat comes skipping out the door, followed by Tori who looks exactly the way Beck would imagine a person who's just spent part of her night video chatting with a turtle and Cat's brother would look.

"Jade! Come on! Maureen fixed the turtle, and I want to go home and see him walk upright! Hurry!"

Jade sighs. "I think that's my cue. Have fun with the ointment."

"Have fun with Cat the dog."

She sticks her tongue out at him.

"Cute."

"You think so, huh?"

"I do, actually."

She blushed and walked off without a word. It occurred to him then, that flirting with Jade in a parking lot for ten minutes had actually made up for the evening of gross seafood, busybody strangers, and sick dogs.

Tori was looking at him funny as they climbed into the truck. "Hey Beck, are you alright?"

"Yeah. Yeah, I am."