Catch 22

On justice, cycles and getting to choose who you fall in love with/ Or, four boys Jade West kisses after her break up with Beck, and the one she does not.

If Beck can be a whore, then so can my bb girl.

Written directly after Tori Goes Platinum but only posted now.

For D-R-O-W-N-S-IN-S-E-Q-U-I-N-S who is a lovely sweetheart and has the misfortune of sometimes being my personal psychologist.

"Justice?" The Colonel was astounded. "What is justice?"

Catch 22—chapter eight

The first is Sinjin.

It would have been a surprise to anyone but Jade.

She's shoving things into her locker after her music appreciation class one Thursday a week and a half after the breakup. It's the end of the day and the halls are full of students and they keep jostling her. It's really annoying, because not so long ago this constant presence was the only one ever jostling her in the halls and it wasn't so much a jostle as it was an affectionate nudge and she didn't use to mind it nearly as much.

She has just fished her Shakespearean history book out of the bottom of her locker and shoved it into her bag when a particularly vicious jostle nudges her into her locker and she whips around, teeth bared.

"Watch it." She hisses, and her glare only intensifies when she realizes it's Sinjin. His striped shirt stops right below his hips and his pants are too tight and as always, he stands awkward and gawky, like his bones are too big for his body.

"Hi," he stretches out in a rasp of a voice, widening his eyes behind his thick glasses. He tries to smile, Jade thinks, but he's so awkward it looks more like a wince. Sometimes Jade feels so bad that people are the way they are, it makes them significantly more difficult to mock.

Instead she rolls her eyes and turns back to her locker, slamming it shut. She can hear him breathing heavily behind her, but she can't find it in her to snap at him or punch him in the gut or any of that. She's just so tired all the time. And by the end of the day, about all she can manage to do is drag herself to her car, drive home and then collapse into bed for the rest of the day, cutting up her father's old accounting manuals until there are a million bits and pieces of once-upon-a-time words littered all over her bedspread. She's been doing this so often over the last week it's become like a cycle, almost—lather rise repeat—except without any lathering or rinsing and just constantly repeating.

She's aware of how utterly pathetic this sounds even in her head, and thank god she summons a sufficient amount of anger at herself and at Sinjin to turn back around and tell him to "get lost" with enough venom in her voice that she actually sounds like her old self for a second.

She's just about to storm off when he grabs her upper arm.

Oh no, that just isn't going to fly. She tears her arm out of his grip and turns back to face him, ready to lash out, but he's suddenly standing so close she has to take a couple of steps back, and even then, he takes another step forward.

"The hell do you think you're doing?" she demands, holding her hands out in front of her. The halls have cleared significantly and she does not like the way his creepy bug-eyes are fixed on her lips.

"You know you're the prettiest girl in school, Jade."

This, Jade decides, is not now, nor ever, the type of conversation she wants to have with Sinjin Van Cleef of all people. She tries to get mad, she does, she does, she does, but honestly Jade can't even remember the last time anyone one called her pretty, least of all Beck and now this moron standing in front of her says it with so much certainty, it sounds like a solid fact rather than his twisted opinion and she just sort of stands there, pressed against the lockers as he takes another step closer.

His eyes are clearly on her lips, and he sort of folds his too-long body until he is at her level and closes his eyes. He leans in slightly and Jade is still frozen in place, wide-eyed. She can smell the tuna fish he had for lunch on his breath.

The edge of his bottom lip brushes over her upper.

Jade rears back and punches him so hard in the face he stumbled backwards and lands on his ass a good five feet away from her.

"If you ever try that again, I'll tear your mouth off."

She swipes her hand across her mouth, flips her hair over her shoulder and stomps down the hall.


About a week after that, Jade finds out that Beck kissed Trina.

From Robbie, no less. He doesn't mean for her to actually hear, he's sitting in one of the music rooms with a guitar on his lap and Cat by his side, filling her in on what happened with him while the three of them went on that ridiculous road trip.

"And you know how Beck's a born actor and gets really into character," he says to her, a hint of a blush spreading up his neck, the same way it always does when Cat stares straight at him for too long, "So he actually grabs Trina and kisses her! Right on the mouth!"

"Oh! Ew, Robbie!" Cat squeals, laughing. She even clasps her hands to her mouth. After her giggles subside she shakes her head slightly, leans over and touches the tips of her fingers to the strings of his guitar, so a soft trickle of music fills the room. Beside her Robbie turns bright red. "Poor Beck." She says quietly, not noticing Robbie's discomfort, "And poor, poor Jade."

Jade doesn't know what to think, her entire body has gone rigid. Barely two weeks into their break up and Beck was already kissing other girls. She's not sure if she's more upset that the girl in question was Trina Vega, or that a part of her is really not very surprised at all. She bites the inside of her cheek and kicks the door open all the way. The two of them start and Cat shrieks, flailing her arms and accidentally elbowing Robbie in the ribs.

Jade sweeps in and fixes Cat with a half-lidded stare. "Leave," she intones and when Cat opens her mouth and widens her eyes to protest, Jade fishes a piece of gum from her bag and tosses it to her. Cat accepts it happily. She jumps to her feet, says "Bye Robbie!" and skips out the door.

"Now," Jade says folding her arms and stepping closer to him. Robbie is still rubbing his bruised ribs but he gulps nervously and shifts backwards in his seat when he sees her coming closer. He holds his guitar to his chest like a shield almost. Pathetic.

"Tell me exactly why Beck was playing kissy-face with Trina Vega of all people, while I was getting rained on and squirted and chased down by a deranged clown?"

Robbie opens and closes his mouth like a fish, nervous and stuttering and Jade, frustrated, leans down and hoists him up by the collar of his ridiculous plaid shirt. The acoustic guitar in his lap clatters to the ground.

"Tell me." She demands again, and Robbie gulps fearfully, struggling in her grasp.

"It—we, we were just teaching her a lesson!"

"A lesson," Jade repeats, curling her fingers tighter around the lapels of his shirt, "So why couldn't you have been the one to kiss her?"

"Because I didn't—Beck just did and—"

Jade gives him a little shake when he can't seem to finish the sentence and he actually squeals, like a scared little girl and Jade cannot remember ever being so disgusted in her entire life.

And not just with Robbie and Beck—with herself as well. Beck was out kissing Trina and probably a slew of other skanky girls and here she was, a perfectly hot piece of ass, thank you very much, trying to bully information about her ex-boyfriend out of a boy with pubic hair on his head.

She stops shaking him, is all at once angry and upset and hurt because it had only been like three weeks and acting or not acting, there had got be some rule against kissing someone else so soon after a breakup somewhere. It just wasn't right. After the breakup everyone assumed Beck would be the one to move on first, and although on some level Jade had agreed, she never expected it to be this soon.

Jade cannot tell you what compels her to do what she does next. She doesn't know what force makes her release his shirt, claw her fingers around his neck and shove his face to hers. She doesn't know why the hell she is standing alone in the half-lit music room after school with Robbie Shapiro and his pubic head of hair, pressing her mouth to his mouth like it's her job.

"Jade," he protests against her mouth, but like she mentioned before, she's hot and a fantastic kisser so he relents eventually, responds for the length of a heartbeat before Jade violently shoves him away.

Like an idiot, he stumbles backwards until he hits the piano, and then slides down the length of it to sit on the floor, staring wide-eyed at Jade, a trembling hand held to his lips.

"Don't tell anyone." Jade warns, guilt already seeping into her bones. She just kissed a boy her friend liked, which was sort of like kissing someone's boyfriend, which, in the end, made her not very different from Tori on her first day of school.

"Seriously," Jade says, quieter now, less angry now, she bites the inside of her cheek until she can feel blood on her tongue and looks down at him. "Don't tell anyone. Especially not Cat."

She waits until Robbie gives one frightened little nod and then swallows, and slips out the door.


About a month and a half later, and Jade thinks this is the girl she would have been if she hadn't met Beck so early into her high school career.

She parties almost every night with a group of people who have tattoos to match her own and can actually hold their drinks. She wears short black skirts and low-cut tops and now there is this tiny layer of satisfaction and sexiness on top of all her sadness and if she focuses hard enough, sometimes she can even manage not to think about him for more than thirty minutes.

It's almost one a.m. on a Sunday night, and she knows she should not be out this late and that she will sorely pay for it tomorrow at school if she doesn't get home soon, but there is a predicament.

She had mistakenly accepted a ride to the party with one of her new friends, a spunky and hilarious-when-drunk Wendy. And then, when Wendy received a call from her hysterical mother and needed to rush home, Jade had even more mistakenly told her that she would be fine, and that she'd find another ride home.

And although Jade did find a few people willing to take her home, they were shamelessly drunk off their asses and call Jade what you want, but she wanted to wait until she had at least one blockbuster hit of a movie before she would be willing to risk dying in a fiery car crash

So it seemed Jade, in her heeled boots and short ruffled skirt, would be walking home tonight. The thought is unappealing partially because Jade hated walking, but mostly because her house is a good twelve blocks away and dying in a fiery car crash would probably be preferable to getting raped and then murdered walking home alone so late at night.

Jade had just resigned herself to sucking it up when she spots a very familiar mop of hair, walking quite soberly over to a shiny black car.

"Daniels!" she calls before she can stop herself, stepping off the curb and lifting one arm halfway in the air. Ryder Daniels looks up and over at her and raises his eyebrows, one arm draped coolly over the opening of his door.


She walks over to his car, stumbles only twice, thank-you-very-much, and stands by the passenger door, placing a hand on the handle.

"Give me a ride home." She demands, and instead of telling her to fuck off like she half expected, he just shrugs and presses a button on his keys, unlocking her door.

"Get in," he says, sliding in himself, so she does.

Inside the car Jade feels oddly removed from the rest of the world. It's almost pitch-black from the heavy tint of the windows and it quietly purrs to life the way new cars always do. She feels weirdly awkward, and out of all the crazy stunts Jade has pulled in her life, she can promise you she never in a million years imagined getting a lift home from a wild party on a Sunday night from Ryder Daniels and feeling somehow unexplainably nervous about it.

The seats are nice; a soft grey fabric instead of smooth leather and Jade can't help but recall the way her thighs would always stick to the cracked leather of Beck's seats and the way they would get too hot to sit on with shorts in the middle of summer. Jade is sure Ryder's seats never get too hot to sit on, and her thighs are certainly not sticking to them right now and for whatever reason, it feels to Jade like she's comparing Beck and Ryder rather than just their cars, and it makes her feel a little queasy so instead of thinking about it she crosses her legs and stares out the extremely tinted window.

They drive in absolute silence; he doesn't even put on any music, which would significantly lessen the awkwardness, she thinks, and for the next ten minutes, the only sounds are from when Ryder shifts gears and Jade telling him to take the next left.

When they finally reach her house, Ryder kills the engine, removes his hands from the wheel and turns to looks down at her, a small smile on his face.

His hair is perfectly tousled, and his smile is foreign and slightly crooked. It's a nice smile, Jade thinks.

"See you around," He says and leans over her, reaching an arm out to open her door for her. It's a player's move if Jade has ever seen one because it means his forearm has the pleasure of brushing itself up against her rather well-endowed chest.

Jade considers getting mad. She considers decking him across the face or else twisting his over-friendly arm until it breaks, but then she remembers Beck's latest status update—a bunch of girls showing up at his house in the mornings and the fact that he gives them rides to school, probably loving the attention—and so Jade does neither of these things.

Keeping eye contact all the while, Jade reaches her own hand over and settles it on his, halting him in the task of opening her door. He turns his hand over under hers until their fingers are practically entwined and Jade, despite herself, licks her lips.

Half a heartbeat later he is hovering over her.

He makes himself comfortable between her legs and grabs her face in both his hands and presses his mouth to hers. It's an entirely different kiss from the ones she's had lately, hot and rough and reciprocated on both sides for once. It's like when she use to make out with Beck, except Ryder is significantly rougher and he doesn't say "I love you" the whole time and he has this weird kink with her right ear that she just doesn't get.

Still kissing her ear, he reaches a hand below them and struggles for a second before there is a satisfying click and both of them propel down as far as the seat will allow, which, all things considered, is quite far.

It feels good, amazing really, and Jade feels sexy and wanted and god she has missed stuff like this. His hair has a texture so similar to Beck's and he makes almost the same sound when she pulls on it, and although it's totally new, it feels in some ways like just a year ago in an RV with a fish tank and her adoring boyfriend, and he sets her on fire in almost the same way, so when he slithers a hand up her shirt, she does not stop him.


The next day at school, while she is attempting not to fall asleep in her chair and Sikowitz is going on and on about some sort of rash he has developed in his nether-regions, Ryder pokes his head into the classroom.

"Jade," he calls, and although he had only called her name, the entire class looks up at him. Except Beck, that is. Beck looks right at her with slightly raised eyebrows and Jade does her best to ignore that.

She swivels around and raises her eyebrows, wondering what she saw in that cocky face and obviously over-moussed hair last night. "What."

He reaches behind him and holds the strap of her bra out in front of him with one finger. It seems like the entire class gasps when they see it, and from her peripheral vision, Jade can see Tori's mouth has dropped open. He gives her a grin and tosses it to her. She catches it with one hand and a growl.

"Forgot that in my car," he says cheekily, "It was fun, by the way. We should do it again sometime."

Jade rolls her eyes. She hadn't slept with him, and she certainly doesn't want to ever get that close to him again, but she knows the way this looks to everyone else, Beck included, and for whatever reason, she doesn't mind it nearly as much as she should.

"Whatever," she says, turning away and feeling Beck's eyes boring into the back of her skull, "Maybe. Now get lost."


It's been a bad couple of days.

Jade feels a bit like she's been gutted with a rusty fork. It's this terrible, seamless pain, definitely not the good kind, and it seems to be swallowing her whole.

There's this silence. It's this soft easy silence that comes after Tori has performed and leapt off the stage and a thousand congratulations and a screechy invitation to an after party at Vega's Jade opted out of attending. It feels like the silence she walks home in, just the clack of her ridiculous heels and the swish of her pink dress and the thoughts that revolve around the boy who doesn't deserve them.

Jade should feel angry. Anyone else in her situation would feel angry and anyone not in her situation would expect her to feel angry, but there's just this odd sort of detachment that comes from knowing she'd lost an amazing shot at fame and the love from Beck all in the span of two days. Or maybe, thinks an exceptionally bitter part of her, maybe the love had been lost forever ago, maybe it was gone after the first year together, the first time together, or maybe it had never really been there to begin with—

But there Jade stops herself. It had to have been there. It had to be there at least once, at least for a second, or else why would he stick around for nearly three years?

Three years, she thinks, and those two words settle like thick bricks in the pit of her stomach. Three years-three years-three years. That's the entire lifespan of a mosquito-fish, and she doesn't know why she knows this pointless information, but she does know that three years is a long time, and how does one recover so quickly from so long a time?

Jade knows that she's being a little hypocritical. After all, Beck was walking around assuming she'd slept with Ryder Daniels, and he didn't even really kiss Tori, but just the fact that he'd tried kills her.

Hadn't Tori always been where all of Jade's insecurities stemmed from anyways? Hadn't he looked her straight in the eye, kissed her solidly on the mouth and told her he didn't like Tori that way?

And the worst part, Jade thinks, the absolute worst, worst part is that Tori was the one to pull away. That Beck had questioned it, had justified it with 'Well Jade is a terrible person so it's okay for me and you to kiss' and yes, that, that part makes her mad, spitting angry, disturbed enough to want to sharpen her favorite scissors across his face, but everything else, the fact that he wanted to, that he didn't see anything wrong with doing it, makes her want to throw up.

It's so bad she actually stops walking and clutches her stomach, dry heaves a couple of times into the grass on her left. She closes her eyes and stays like that for a second, bent over slightly and breathing raggedly and although she doesn't notice it until she tastes it on her upper lip, crying.

The last thing fills her with so much frustration she shrieks, literally screams and scrubs her hands across her eyes, smearing the makeup that had taken nearly two hours to get on.

"Jade!" Someone yells from behind her, and she gives another shriek, this one out and fright and whips around, holding her hands to her chest.

"Andre, what the hell are you yelling at me for?" she demands when she recognizes him, swallowing hard and hoping he can't see the tear-tracks in the dark.

"Are you kidding me?" he asks with a raised eyebrow, walking closer until he reaches her side. "I've been following after you for the past three blocks calling your name! How did you not hear me?"

Jade stares at him blankly, and after a second, his annoyed face twists into something soft and concerned and Andre.

"Hey," he says, taking another step closer, "It was really cool of you to do that for Tori."

Jade doesn't say anything to that. She bites the insides of her cheeks and glares at the point right above his shoulder.

"I have to get home," she tells him, spinning on her heel and trying to march off, but the ridiculous shoes make it so about all she can manage to do is shuffle like an idiot.

Andre catches up with her in two strides, chuckling slightly. "I mean it," he says with a small smile, "You didn't have to do that, but you did."

"Yeah," she says viciously, thinking of Beck, "And I'm sure no one expected me to ever do the right thing. So surprise, surprise."

Andre raises his eyebrows, surprised but not really.

"What's up with you?"

"Beck tried to kiss Tori. Yesterday, I saw it myself. And Tori had to push him away." She says suddenly, the confession spilling out of her before she even realizes it. And she doesn't know what everyone is talking about when they say that getting things off your chest makes you feel better, because to her the words sound a billion times worse hanging in the air around them than they did in her head.

"Oh," Andre says quietly. Jade wonders if he's thinking about how this is awkward for her, or if he's slightly jealous. It had always seemed to her that Tori and Andre had a thing for each other, what with their near constant duets and how Andre practically lived at her house.

"That's really uncool of Beck," Andre says, which Jade guesses is a pretty shitty way to simplify things. "But that's really awesome of Tori."

That, Jade thinks, is an even worse way to simplify things.

"It sucks that it even happened," Jade mutters, looking straight ahead, "I always thought that maybe there was like a little something between them, you know? I've read and written enough screenplays to know that usually the formula for a romance goes like that."

"Like what?" Andre's voice is deep murmur, but it's so low it almost seems to be coming from the wind. Jade closes her eyes and swallows briefly; she wonders how her life would have been different if she had fallen for someone else.

"The brooding, good-looking boy, the shiny, talented new girl, and most importantly, something that keeps them from being together." Jade turns to him and smiles ruefully. "That would be me, of course."

"Come on," he says softly, nudging his shoulder with hers, "That's not always how it goes."

"That's always how it goes."

"Well," Jade amends quietly after a moment, she stops walking and turns to face him, and he does the same. She doesn't know why she's thinking these thoughts, but it's like a switch has been flipped in her brain, and now she can't seem to turn them off.

"Sometimes the rolls are reversed." She looks him up and down, takes all of Andre Harris in with a sweep of her eyes. "Sometimes the girl is the brooding good-looking one, and the guy is the shiny, talented one."

Andre swallows hard. Jade thinks he knows where she's going with this.

"Or sometimes," he says in a feeble voice, "Sometimes the guy and girl are both brooding and talented and good-looking, but not so shiny. Like you and Beck."

"But," Jade says, taking a step closer, "That never works out. In case you haven't noticed, Beck and I are not together anymore."

Andre backs up a little. He looks down, shaking his head at her. "Come on Jade," he murmurs, "You're just confused right now."

And she is. Jade thinks she has never been more confused in her life, not even when Beck would tell her he loved her in one breath and flirt shamelessly with some other girl in the next. Before, at least, she had the right to get mad, the peace of mind at knowing she was the only one who ever slept in his RV. She had the arms around her shoulders and the kisses against her locker and "I love you-s," even if they came more and more infrequently as the years passed.

Jade has never been more confused in her life, because never before has she lived in a world where the boy who claimed to need only her was kissing her sort-of-enemy and her sort-of-enemy was telling the boy that she couldn't do that.

And never before has Jade lived in a world where the only person she actually considered a friend looked extra-lovely at night, where she noticed how plump his lips were and how strong his arms seemed and that he looked like the type of guy who couldn't ever break her heart.

So Jade takes another few steps closer, barely needs to tip-toe because of her ridiculous shoes, and puts her hands against Andre's face, turning it until he looks at her.

With half-lidded eyes and slightly parted lips, Jade descends, presses her mouth softly to his. She has a moment to feel how soft they were, how warm and how nicely his breath swept across her nose before he turns away.

"Jade," he says urgently, swallowing hard. His eyes are wide and she sees his tongue dart briefly across his lips. He takes her by the shoulder and pushes her back gently.

"I can't do that to Beck," he says quietly, locking eyes with her, "And I can't do that to you."

"Beck doesn't care," Jade says in a choked voice, because now, on top of everything else, she had probably just mucked-up a perfectly good friendship.

But Andre just gives her a shaky smile, releases her shoulders and slips his hands down the length of her arms until he reaches her hands.

"Trust me," he tells her in a sure, quiet voice, "Beck cares so much; it's making him do some stupid shit."

Jade stays quiet. She wriggles from his grasp and backs up so that there's more room between them. She has no idea what she was thinking.

"Come on," Andre says after a moment, easy and forgiving. "I'll walk you home."


Jade stops counting the weeks.

She thinks, on some level, that is impressive and something akin to progress.

She goes through her days like her normal self again, slightly more bitter, slightly lonelier, but whole and herself, at least. She even talks to him occasionally, sits near him in class on her good days and gives him a little nod if she passes him in the halls.

This is good, she thinks, and maybe it's sort of what getting over someone feels like. The idea of still being without him has dulled to a mild ache, and Jade thinks (hopes) that maybe in a few years, all that will be left of Beck Oliver will be a harmless jagged scar no one else can see.

This is why Jade is understandably disturbed when he corners her one evening late afterschool. She had stayed behind to rehearse lines for the play her and Tori were in, so it was a quarter past five and Jade's last cup of coffee had long since worn off. She's walking out to the parking lot, towards her car when she hears him.

"Jade," he calls from behind her, drawn out and familiar. This was maybe what she missed most, the way he said her name, made the one very short syllable sound like a poem.

Jade takes a steadying breath. She wills herself not to get angry or upset or excited or anything. She unclenches her fists and relaxes her shoulders and when she turns to face him, she is the embodiment of cool aloofness.


"I wanted to talk to you." He looks like himself, and Jade supposes this upsets her as much as it makes her fingers itch to hold his hand. They're still the same, she realizes, they haven't changed much at all and standing together but all alone in a deserted parking lot after school, it's almost like they'd never broken.

"So talk." Her words are short and clipped, and Jade hopes they make him feel awkward and nervous.

"You might not," Beck falters, and he hasn't even met her eyes yet. He takes a few steps closer so that they stand about three feet apart. The pavement stretches out before them like miles, but Jade isn't going to be the one to close the distance.

"You might not like everything you hear." Beck offers quietly. His hands are tucked into his pockets and his angular posture is slouched. "But I just sort of realized something."

Jade raises one eyebrow, not that he would be able to see it what with him not making eye contact. She folds her arms across her chest and swallows nervously, surreptitiously. She wills herself not to hope and keep her tone even and bored.

"And what exactly did you realize?"

He swallows, and Jade follows the bob of the Adam's apple she had brushed so many kisses against. He takes a deep breath in, furrows his brow.

"You don't get to choose who you fall in love with."

His voice is quiet and his eyes are serious, and he looks like he aged a thousand years in twenty minutes.

"If I could," he continues, looking away and up at the sky, nearly purple at this point, "I would choose to fall in love with someone else—anyone else. And she would be calm and nice and not so sarcastic and if she decided to give me an ultimatum behind a closed door, it wouldn't hit me as hard. If I could, I'd choose from a thousand, million girls, stupid ones and ugly ones, and ones without any purpose in life, and I'd choose any of them—all of them if I didn't have to choose you."

To anyone else, it would be a terrible thing for a boy to say to is ex-girlfriend, but only Beck would say it like this and only Jade would completely understand.

"But life doesn't work that way," he continues after a moment, "love doesn't work that way. You don't get to just turn it off and on like a light switch and you don't get to choose the amount a person will hurt you. So I just decided that as long as I'm stuck loving you, I might as well do it the right way and go after you."

Jade arches one eyebrow, folds her arms across her chest, wills her heart to stop beating so fast. "You're stuck loving me."

"Stuck as the day we met."

"Look," Jade says running a frustrated hand through her hair, "If things were simple and easy and black and white and I was a nicer person and you were a better person, I could just drop everything and be with you again because—because I still care about you. A lot. Much more than I should, probably."

She draws in a deep breath and expels it, hoping this makes sense.

"But things aren't like that. I'm not like that and you're not like that, and how and am I just supposed to forget some of the things you've done? And—and once we sit down and really talk about it, how will you forgive some of the things that I've done? Sometimes, Beck, it's not about who was right and who was wrong and forgiveness and admittance and acceptance. Sometimes it's about justice. Sometimes it's about what a person wants versus what a person deserves, and I'm sorry Beck, I just don't think we deserve each other right now."

Beck stays quiet, looks disappointed but not surprised, and for whatever reason Jade takes comfort in that. Any other girl would, perhaps have liked it better if he pitched a fit and professed his love again, got on his knees and begged for her back, but that was never how they worked.

"But," he starts after a long moment, still not looking directly at her, "Someday, you think?"

Jade presses her lips together, sweeps her eyes over his perfect face until the ache in her stomach makes her look away again.


She knows she's being purposely difficult, she knows that she could just forgive him in one breath and kiss him in the next, let bygones be bygones and move on from this, but Jade has lived enough years by now to know that sometimes the greatest rewards are reaped after writing a particularly difficult scene, or belting out a particularly difficult note, so she doesn't let this go.

Beck is upset. He meets her eyes completely, looks for a very long time—just Beck and Jade and all the years between them and then looks away again, agitated.

"We always—" he takes a breath and pulls a hand through his hair, distressed, "We always end up coming back to each other though. That's got to count for something, right?"

She looks at him—Beck Oliver—the boy she had devoted so much of her life around, awkward and frustrated and so completely different from the way he is around everyone else standing in front of her; coming back to her.

She smiles.

"It counts for something."

Originally, after I saw Car, Rain, Fire and Beck kissing Trina, this was going to be "five boys Jade West does not kiss, and one that she does, with the one that she does obviously being Beck. But then after the watching the fanfiction-gone-wrong that was Tori Goes Platinum, this was born.