Title: Red Carpet
Word Count: Approximately 4000
Disclaimer: Victorious and all related characters do not belong to me (though I wish they do).
Summary: Without any tethers tying her down to Hollywood Arts, Jade West leaves to chase her dreams. Beck Oliver, regretting letting her go, chases after her. (or Jade West through the years, as seen through the eyes of Beck Oliver.) Future-fic.
Continuity: Spoilers until Tori Goes Platinum. Probably Crazy Ponnie too, just to cover all bases.
Two years after Jade West left (ran away from) Hollywood Arts, Beck Oliver saw her walking down the red carpet, on her way to her first awards night.
Jade was smiling and posing and generally having a good time. The hair extensions and the eyebrow ring were gone, but she was still, unmistakably, Jade West. The hint of mystery in her eyes, the pout of her lips, the way she walked, the way her eyebrow quirked, her smirk, (her nose ring)—they were all her.
Watching from a television screen, Beck was besieged with emotions—regret, melancholia, nostalgia and pride.
Back when Jade was still in Hollywood Arts, Beck should have known something was up. (Because even if they were broken up, Beck Oliver still knew Jade West best of all.)
She was often seen coming and going from Lane's office. She started skipping school (but the teachers seemed unconcerned). And she was always reading from a thick stack of papers every free time she had, oblivious to everything else.
And sure enough, one lunch period, just as their sophomore year was about to end, Jade dropped a bombshell. "I'm leaving for Ohio this summer."
"Why?" Andre asked, unconcerned.
"I've auditioned for a part in a movie and I got in."
Heartfelt congratulations erupted from the table. Especially from Cat who, seated beside Jade, threw her arms ecstatically around her friend.
To add to Cat's joy, her hug was not shrugged off violently. "You have to tell us all about it when you get back." she told Jade.
Jade paused, as if searching for the right words. "That's just it. I'm not coming back here."
"What do you mean by that?"
"What do you mean by here, exactly?"
"I've been talking it over with Lane and I finally got my mom's permission. I'm taking the CHSPE before I leave. If I pass, that's it. I'm done with high school."
"You're not coming back here in Hollywood Arts?" Cat asked, tears welling in her eyes. "You're dropping out?"
"Stop that, Cat. I'm not moving away." Jade assured her. "After all, this is Hollywood. You'll still see me around. Just not here in school."
Beck supposed he shouldn't be surprised. After all, considering that her relationship with her parents was tenuous at best, that she always felt slighted by the Powers that Be in Hollywood Arts (who always found Tori to be prettier, better and more deserving of fame), and that Beck had broken up with her, Jade had no more links tying her down to the school or in Hollywood, if it comes to that. She could now go anywhere without answering to anybody. And if she passed the CHSPE, she would be free to chase her dreams, wherever it would lead her.
And Beck didn't know how he felt about that.
He still loved Jade, sure. And he believed that they would be together again later. Because even though broken up, he and Jade were not dating anyone else (except for that one time he tried with Tori. But thank heavens no one but him and Tori knew about that. And there was no way they were gonna tell).
But this may permanently put an end to the story that was BeckandJade.
A month after Jade left Hollywood for Ohio, Beck (and the gang) finally got the entire story out of Cat.
Apparently, a casting agent attended one of the plays to see Hollywood Arts' It Girl (Cat never mentioned who the It Girl was, maybe she didn't know. Though Beck had a feeling that Sikowitz batted for Tori Vega again). The agent was impressed with the mystery girl's talent. However, there were a lot of sixteen-year old girls outside of Hollywood Arts with the same (or even better) acting and singing skills as It Girl. The agent was impressed, but not enough that she would sign up the talent.
Then Jade West, the play's main antagonist, walked into the scene, opened her mouth, and convinced everyone that she was an evil, conniving (and funny) real estate agent (don't ask, it was Sikowitz's script) with a taste for vengeance. (Beck was in that play, so he can confirm that Sikowitz really did invite the agent to see Tori, but it was Jade who got noticed. Life was sometimes funny that way.)
Later, the agent, with a contract in her hands, was able to get Jade into auditions where she got bit parts (hence, her frequent absences). Five roles later, Jade caught the attention of a director who was slated to direct the most-anticipated superhero movie event of the decade, starring a charismatic forty-five year old Grayson Bentley.
Grayson Bentley was an actor who seemed to transcend not only the age barrier but the sexes also. Tweeners and teenagers all over the world fancy themselves in love with him, same as their mothers. (He was the reason why the upcoming movie interested not only the supergeeks, but also the womenfolk.) And men of all ages wanted to be him.
The entire world was probably in love with Bentley because of his life story. Coming from a long line of Hollywood royalties (his father was a director while his mother was a character actress), Bentley was exposed to the harsh lights of Hollywood and began acting from a very young age. Like a lot of Hollywood kids who grew up under the spotlight, he started smoking and drinking at thirteen. At sixteen, he graduated to illegal substances. But he was tolerated by the masses because of his unparalleled talent. However, the roles came fewer and further apart during his twenties. In his mid-thirties, one scandal after another caused by his bout with drugs and alcohol ended his career. He made a comeback five years later after a stint in rehab. Hollywood accepted him with open arms because of his talent and the vulnerability he showed. Indubitably, he was now back and better than ever, having kicked off most of his bad habits. And the movie would show the world that he deserved his second chance.
The movie's director invited Jade to a closed audition where Grayson Bentley was one of the panelist. She impressed Bentley and beat hundreds of other hopefuls, known and unknown, for the role.
What was more surprising (well, not for Beck because for all his faults, he truly believed in Jade's talents and had no doubt that she would make it big) was how large Jade's role was. Jade West, a no-name teenager in the world of Hollywood, was cast as one of the movie's minor villains—a girl raised from childhood as an assassin-for-hire. Jade's role had no speaking parts (as her character, while trained in all manner of deadly arts, was never taught to speak), so all she had to rely on to get her message across was her body (and what a body it was).
And seemingly overnight (because the world had no idea how hard Jade worked before the agent and the director noticed her), Jade West became a household name. Her face exploded in the internet and in magazines. (Beck was pretty sure fanboys all over the world had her picture up their walls.)
There was no stopping Jade West from there.
Beck was rudely brought back to the present when a semi-famous actor slung an arm around Jade's shoulder and mugged for the camera. (There were rumors that they were dating. But Beck refused to believe it.) He watched as the actor leaned down to whisper something to Jade, who merely quirked an eyebrow, shook her head and walked out of the camera's range.
With an oath, he turned off the television and turned in his bed, to once again dream of the one that got away (he had erroneously let go).
Three years after Jade West left (ran away from) Hollywood Arts, Beck Oliver saw her walking down the red carpet, on her way to a music awards show (not the Platinum Music Awards, which Jade West adamantly refused to go to for some reason unbeknownst to the public, to the frustration of Mason Thornesmith).
And this time, Jade West saw him too.
Beck Oliver was slowly making a name for his name as a dramatic actor, having landed a meaty role as a tough rookie cop in a television series. Beck was also trying to start his movie career with a supporting role in a romantic drama.
He was attending the music awards show as the date of Tori Vega, who was working hard to achieve her dreams to become a pop star. They were there only as friends, as Tori had just broken up with her most recent boyfriend (one of her backup dancers) after finding out that he was only using her for fame (what is it with Tori and her poor taste with men?).
Actually, the media was all a flutter about him and Tori after learning about their Hollywood Arts connection. Since they were friends and hang out together, it was immediately assumed that they were dating. (They were not. After the two attempted kisses when they were still in Hollywood Arts, Beck never tried again.)
Beck believed that the Hollywood Arts connection helped all of them in their careers. After Jade West blazed the trail, it became easier for other HA alumni to make it big in Hollywood.
After his action/drama show premiered with lackluster ratings, Jade West tweeted that she was watching her good friend (because despite all that happened between them, they did part as friends of sorts) Beck's television show and loving it. A couple of tweets later, the show was brought to the attention of the public and its ratings skyrocketed. The show captured a large following, catapulting Beck from obscurity to fame.
Beck, in turn, was asked during a radio interview what song he listened to while driving. He answered that he had pop star Tori Vega's new single blaring on his car radio. Tori's song was immediately downloaded by fangirls all over the country, helping it debut in the top ten.
Tori, for her part, recommended Andre Harris when her producer was looking for a new talent to write songs for her second album. Now, Andre was composing and producing songs for Tori's record label.
Jade West, who was infamous for her staunch refusal to do interviews, guested in Robbie Shapiro's struggling web show. To date, Robbie credited that particular episode as the one which started him off to the path of becoming a famous host. (Years later, Robbie would have his own late night show where the Hollywood Arts Clique would appear and break big news.)
Back at the red carpet, Jade West's eyes met Beck's. She quirked an eyebrow at him before she turned back to the photographers begging for her attention.
Then, Cat Valentine, who was beside Jade having her photos taken, saw Beck and Tori. Cat squealed and hurled herself towards her friends. Beck caught her in the nick of time.
"Beck!" Cat gushed. "Tori!" despite the fame in Broadway, she was the same old Cat Valentine.
Jade West followed Cat at a more sedate pace.
"Hey," Tori greeted the two.
Jade merely smiled, old grudges with Tori forgotten.
"Who are you guys with?" Tori asked.
Beck waited for Jade's answer with bated breath. He wondered how he would react if introduced to Jade's date. It might be years since they broke up, but one meaningless relationship after another proved to him that he was still deeply, irrevocably in love with his ex.
"We're with each other." Cat giggled out.
Tori looked shocked.
Because the rumor mill was grinding overtime that Jade and Cat were secretly in love.
It all started when Jade West, sick of being typecasted in high budgeted action films as a sexpot, told her agent that she wanted to star in Broadway. People who only knew her as a movie star were skeptical, wondering if she had chops for that.
A Broadway producer gave Jade a chance and was thrilled after he heard her sing. He then created a team to create a musical just for Jade.
During casting, Jade recommended that they audition her friend, Cat Valentine, for one of the leads. Of course, the girl got in.
When the musical debuted almost a year later, Jade and Cat wowed their audience with their performances and their on-stage chemistry. Off stage, they moved in together and were seen frequently hanging out.
These highlighted two things about Jade West: first, her aversion to interviews and adamant refusal to talk about her personal life, and second, she had been in the business for more than three years, yet during that time, she never dated anyone. These facts, coupled with her chemistry and close friendship with Cat Valentine, led to the inescapable conclusion that Jade West was gay (or at least, bisexual) and Cat was her secret lover.
So the two girls (ladies, Beck mentally corrected himself. They were women now), going together to the music awards as each other's dates was crazy.
"Why is it crazy?" Jade asked when Beck expressed his opinion.
"Because it would feed the flames of the two of you dating even more." was his reply.
"Well, you and Tori are rumored to be dating and you're each other's dates," Cat replied. "You must be crazy, too."
Jade smirked. "Unless you want to tell us something?"
They got Beck there. He stammered a denial, quick and emphatic (because he didn't want Jade to get the idea that he was hung up on Tori).
But he was relieved (disappointed?) that Jade merely laughed, without any trace of the old jealousy in her eyes.
Four years after Jade West left (ran away from) Hollywood Arts, Beck Oliver saw her on the red carpet, on her way to an awards show for theater.
By then, Beck had established himself as a bankable Hollywood actor, though nowhere near the levels of notoriety Jade West had achieved. (He was surprised that he had also established a reputation as a playboy because of the number of women linked to his name. He was rumored to date all his female leads and was accused of breaking up more than a couple of marriages. There was no truth to either rumors, of course. Because despite the number of years that had lapsed, he was still hung up on one woman.)
Later, Beck also branched out into his (first) love, the theater, following the footsteps of (his last love) Jade.
This awards show, however, Jade did not notice Beck Oliver.
Because Jade West only had eyes for her husband of six months, Grayson Bentley.
Beck remembered receiving a call in the middle of the night almost eight months ago.
The caller didn't speak, but Beck heard a sigh the second he said, hello.
There was no doubt in his mind that his caller was Jade.
So Beck started talking. He told her how much he missed her and how sorry he was for letting her go (Taking her for granted. Dumping her. Not loving her the way she deserved to be loved). He told her about his life now, about how hard he was working so that someday, they may finally be on equal footing. And how proud he was of her and what she had achieved, and how he never had any doubt that she was going to make it and that she was one of the stars that would outlast the sun.
After talking himself hoarse, just before the caller (Jade) ended the call, Beck heard a whisper that said, I'm sorry and goodbye.
Beck didn't think it possible, but he felt his heart once again shatter in a million directions.
A month after that phone call, a scandal broke out that Jade West, in a secret ceremony, married Grayson Bentley, a man old enough to be her father. (He had, in fact, a son five years older than Jade, who was the frontman of a famous band.) No one, not even Cat Valentine, knew that the two were dating. In an interview confirming their marriage, Grayson admitted that they had fallen in love and had been seeing each other since the shooting of the second installment of the superhero movie which discovered Jade West, two years ago.
Beck cannot begrudge Jade her happiness. He saw firsthand how content Jade was with Grayson. And how much in love Grayson was with his young bride. (He realized later that Grayson gazed upon Jade the same way that Jade used to look at Beck. He was happy that Jade was able to find someone who would love her the way she deserved to be loved, the way Beck never had been able to.)
Five years after Jade West left (ran away from) Hollywood Arts, Beck Oliver saw her walking at the red carpet, on her way to an awards show for movie and television.
Jade West-Bentley had shed off her role as a sex symbol and started acting in films of different genres. (Un)surprisingly, she had a preference for thrillers, slashers and horror films which were always runaway blockbusters. Jade and her agent had the perfect partnership: her agent had a knack for choosing which films would make it big and Jade had the talent for bringing the most complex characters into life.
At the red carpet, Jade West-Bentley was wearing a white dress, which emphasized not only her perfect pale skin, but also the dark circles under her eyes. The fire and passion were gone from her famous blue green orbs, replaced by grief and weariness.
Because she was did not attend the awards show as a nominee. She was here to accept a posthumous award for her husband Grayson Bentley, who had recently succumbed to cancer, diagnosed too late.
Beck Oliver wanted to go to her to comfort her. But her escort, Grayson Bentley's son, placed a protective arm behind her back, and steered her away from the cameras.
Just a couple of months ago, Jade West buried her husband Grayson Bentley.
During the funeral, Beck watched Jade from afar. She was faring well, holding the hand of her stepson while her free arm was wrapped around Cat Valentine. She wore dark glasses to shield her expressive eyes. Beck knew from the way her shoulder was hunched how much pain she was in.
And Beck couldn't stand the way Jade broke down when her husband was lowered to the ground. Cat held on to her friend with all her might, but it was not enough.
Without conscious thought, Beck rushed to the side of the woman he loved.
Upon reaching her, he placed a comforting hand on her shoulders. And just like old times when she was hurt, Jade automatically turned to Beck, whose strong arms wrapped around her.
Tongues would have wagged because of that embrace. Although it was common knowledge that both Beck and Jade were part of the Hollywood Arts Clique, the two of them rarely interacted and as far as the public was concerned, they were the least close of their exclusive group.
Good thing that Cat threw her arms around the two of them. And Tori, Andre and Robbie followed, enclosing the grieving Jade West-Bentley into their protective embrace.
Six years after Jade West left (ran away from) Hollywood Arts, Beck Oliver saw her walking the red carpet, on her way to an awards show for kids.
Jade West smiled, and showed the world that she had (finally) recovered from her grief. She loved her husband who had taught her a lot about life and love, but she had (must) move on. Even Grayson's son was trying to convince her to go out and to start dating again, and that it wasn't healthy for her to just mope around the house.
Beck found the statement unfair when Jade told him about her stepson's comment.
Although Jade wasn't ready to date again, she wasn't idle by any means. Her professional life was very much active and flourishing. In fact, she was the favorite to win in a prestigious international awards show as best director for her latest movie, a docu-drama about cancer survivors and their families. And in an awards show first, she was also nominated for a best actress award for her role as a police officer in a psychological thriller, who, in a surprising twist, turned out to be the serial killer they were hunting.
Jade had laughed when Beck offered to talk with the stepson to keep him off her back.
Since the funeral, Beck and Jade were rebuilding their shattered friendship. Their relationship (As friends, Beck had to frequently remind himself. Strictly as friends. Solely as friends.) was strengthened by the fact that they had just finished shooting a movie together, an action-comedy with a dash of romance. (Jade also jokingly offered Beck the lead part in the latest movie script she had written. Beck planned to hold Jade to that. He would do anything and everything to star in that movie. Because if that was the only way Jade would notice him, then by all means, he would take it.)
And because of their latest movie, Beck was Jade's date at this particular awards show.
Beck was loving every moment of it (even if it was an award show for kids and he had a sinking feeling that he was going to be slimed). He had finally achieved his vow of chasing after Jade West. Now all he had to do was to try and keep her.
(He knew she wasn't ready for that yet. But he was willing to wait. He had waited six years for her already. What was another six years more?)
Seven years after Jade West left (ran away from) Hollywood Arts, Beck Oliver saw Jade West walking the red carpet.
Once again wearing white, Jade was breathtaking as she slowly walked to Beck, who was standing infront. From the sides, photographers were going wild.
Beck Oliver couldn't help the huge smile that broke out his face (he knew that when the pictures come out, he was going to look like an idiot. A happy idiot, but still an idiot). Beside him, best man Andre Harris patted his pocket for the nth time, to make sure that the rings given to him for safekeeping were still there.
Beck Oliver heard Cat Valentine, in her pink matron-of-honor dress, crying softly, as if she couldn't believe that after years and years of waiting and praying and hoping, this was finally happening.
And when Jade West reached the end of the aisle where Beck Oliver was standing, he couldn't help but be teary-eyed.
Despite his fame, his success, his career and his fortune, it was only at that moment that he had proven to himself that dreams do come true. (Because everything he had would not have meant a thing if Jade West was not there to share them.)
Beck Oliver knew that he would see Jade West (soon-to-be Oliver) walk many other red carpets. And that was just fine with him. Because from this moment on, he would make sure that he would be walking beside her.