Title: In Her Shoes
Word Count: 6,500++
Disclaimer: Victorious and all related characters do not belong to me (though I wish they do).
Summary: Beck didn't need to be Jade's boyfriend to realize that there's something wonky with her that day. Post-TGP. Written for Bade Prompts, Round 5. Prompt: High heels.
Continuity: Until Tori Goes Platinum, but all episodes are fair game.
AN: I apologize in advance to whoever gave the prompt. It was a great prompt, but I am having problems with the execution. I'm sorry to those who put me on author alert, expecting a nice, funny fic from me, but getting this train wreck instead. (In my defense, the office next to ours is being renovated. I was inhaling A LOT of paint fumes as I was writing this. In my head, it was funny.)
In Her Shoes
You put high heels on and you change. - Manolo Blahnik
In retrospect, Beck Oliver realized that the red glittery high-heeled shoes Jade West was wearing were a dead giveaway. (Later, Cat would describe Jade's shoes as iridescent red rhinestoned pumps with five-inch heels and a concealed platform. Pfft. As if Jade would even know how to describe the shoes. She would just say five inch heels? in a disgusted expression before throwing the pair away.)
Beck Oliver dated Jade West for over two years and known her for longer than that. And he had never known her to wear high heels willingly (she would wear heels, under protest, for a role in a play, but nothing higher than two inches). She's more of a boots kind of girl (and also, you know, clumsy).
Yes, the heels were red flags, but there was a lot about Jade West that particular Monday morning that distracted Beck Oliver from the shoes.
For instance, her face was bereft of any trace of make up, except maybe for pink, shiny lip gloss (with glitters? What's the world coming to?); her hair was tied back in a curly, bouncy pony tail; and she was wearing a spaghetti-strapped knee-length dress that was white—white!—in color. With her eyes free from the usual gunk that lined them, the blue of her eyes really popped out. (And Beck was reminded how much he loved her eyes that always changed colors.)
Stranger still, her hand was without its usual tumbler of Jet Brew. And there was a noticeable lack of a scowl on her face. Instead, she was beaming as she threw the doors open, her head swiveling around, as if she was taking in everything in front of her. (Was she channeling Tori Vega?)
"What's up with Jade?" said Tori Vega asked from beside Beck.
"Jade!" from the entrance, a giggling Cat Valentine pranced in, Jade's messenger bag dangling from her thin shoulders, in addition to her own backpack.
True to form, Jade ignored Cat's frantic calls. Cat caught up with Jade just as she passed by Tori, Beck and Andre Harris, who were lounging by the Make it Shine locker, waiting for the bell to ring.
Cat grabbed Jade's shoulder to get her attention.
To Beck's surprise, Jade did not snarl for Cat to never touch her. Instead, Jade paused and turned around, her smile never losing its wattage.
"Yes?" Jade asked pleasantly, expectantly.
"You forgot your bag." Cat told her as she attempted to hand Jade her bag.
"I don't want that bag." Jade wrinkled her nose. "It doesn't go with my outfit."
"What?" Tori couldn't help but interject. "You love that bag, Jade!"
Jade turned to Tori with a frown.
Tori braced herself for Jade's usual barbed remarks, but surprisingly, none came. While Jade lost her smile, her expression was not irate or angry at Tori for butting in. Instead, Jade merely looked quizzical.
"I love this bag?" Jade looked at Cat for confirmation.
Cat nodded emphatically.
"Of course," Jade took the bag from Cat and dangled it from the crook of her elbow. "I love this bag." then, in a move so uncharacteristic that Beck had to resist the urge to check if hell had frozen over, Jade hooked other her arm with Cat's, telling her, "Walk me to my locker?"
Cat bounced up and down in excitement as she dragged the taller girl to her locker.
Confused and bewildered, Beck exchanged a look with Tori and Andre. The trio wordlessly trailed after Jade and Cat.
Upon reaching her locker, Beck distinctly heard Jade say, "Whoa!", as she touched one of the scissors embedded on the door. Cat replied, "I know, right?"
Jade then pulled out her phone from her bag.
"A Mulberry?" Andre gaped as he made his way towards Jade to inspect her phone. "When did you get a Mulberry phone, Jade?"
Both Cat and Jade visibly started as they turned to the trio.
"Well, um, you know, uh," Cat stammered, her eyes huge.
"Yesterday." Jade replied smoothly. "It's perfect for keeping my appointments."
"Since when did you keep appointments?" Beck asked incredulously.
"Since it's none of your business!" Jade snapped, but her tone was markedly lacking of her usual venom. Plus, its effect was ruined when she immediately turned to Cat, as if to look for approval.
Jade West never looked for approval. (In fact, she was one of the handful of students to pass the Bird Scene on the first try.)
Cat dimpled and gave Jade two thumbs up.
"So, if you haters are gonna keep on hating, then I would strongly suggest that you just leave." Jade told them.
Beside Jade, Cat nodded vigorously.
Tori and Andre looked at Jade as if she was crazy. In what alternate universe does Jade West suggest for people to leave? Are they being Punk'd or something?
When the warning bell rang, Andre and Tori walked away, looking back at Jade and Cat the entire time. Beck gave Jade a long, measuring look, before he, too, left. But as he was walking away, he was positive that he heard Cat and Jade giggling. And when Beck looked back, he saw Jade glance at her new Mulberry before she spun her locker combination and stashed her bag inside.
Tori Vega was off to a bad start.
It was Monday morning and Trina was being more Trina than usual. The short drive to school felt like days. (And really, maybe she should just suck it up and try for her driver's license again.)
With a sigh that originated from her toes, Tori opened the door to her first period: World History with the unreasonably strict Miranda Austerlitz. Unlike most teachers in Hollywood Arts, Miranda was a firm believer in the traditional methods of teaching and insisted for her students to call her Mrs. Austerlitz (but her students never do).
"Oh, sorry, I wasn't looking where I was going," Tori apologized automatically when she bumped into someone.
And when the person who she bumped into turned around, Tori's shoulders slumped. Of course. Typical. Just another thing to make her day. Not.
She had just crashed into Jade West, so Tori braced herself for whatever drama Jade would throw her way.
"Oh, it's fine," Jade said with a happy smile. "It happens."
"It happens?" Tori repeated incredulously. "That's all you can say to me?" her eyes went circled the classroom and met the eyes of Beck Oliver, who was seated in the middle row, raptly watching the scene between the two girls unfolding. Tori widened her eyes at Beck, asking if she was the only one who found Jade acting weirdly.
Beck just shrugged. Big help.
"Oh." Jade said. "I also have to apologize, right? Um, sorry I was standing in the way. I was trying to decide where to sit."
"Um, it's okay?" Tori offered.
"Great." Jade replied, then she peered closely at Tori's high-heeled boots before saying ominously, "Uh-oh."
By then, the two had already captured the attention of the students in the room. Because this was the most civil Tori and Jade were since they met.
"What uh-oh?" Tori demanded.
Jade leaned closer and lowered her voice.
So of course, the entire room quieted to hear what Jade was saying.
"Your Michael Siriano boots?" Jade said. "I don't know what the guy who sold that to you said, but they're definitely knock-offs, and not good ones at that. And also, so last season."
Tori felt her ears burn up in embarrassment. "Jade!" she hissed.
"I'd change my shoes immediately if I were you. I wouldn't be caught dead in those heels." and with that fashion advice, Jade whirled around and headed straight to the front row, where she sat on the middle chair, which was right in front of the teacher's table. Once settled, she took out her phone and began furiously typing on it.
Tori, her face still red, went to the back row, studiously ignoring the titters and whispered comments of her classmates. Then she sat down and waited for the earth to open up and swallow her whole.
Beck, who was seated behind Jade, leaned over to say something to her. But before he could, Miranda Austerlitz swept in, with a stack of paper in her hands.
Tori groaned, along with the rest of the class. That stack of paper could only mean one thing—pop quiz. Great.
At the sound of her students' pain, Miranda grinned. She sat down at her desk and placed the stack of papers on top of her table. "You know the drill," she said as her eyes swept through the room. Then, she did a double take at Jade who was seated right in front of her. "Miss West?" Miranda called out.
Jade, who was busy with her phone, ignored her.
"Miss West?" Miranda called out again. "Miss West!"
Beck reached out and poked Jade's shoulder with his pen. "Miranda's calling you," he whispered.
"Oh! I'm Miss West!" Jade looked up at Miranda expectantly.
"Why are you seated there?" Miranda demanded.
"Why? Where should I sit?" Jade asked in confusion. "Isn't this is a free-seating class so I can sit wherever I want?"
"Yes," Miranda waved her hands. "But why aren't you at your usual seat at the back?" she pointed to the last chair at the corner.
Jade twisted her body to look. "But that's too far! I want front row center, the best seat in the house." she beamed at the teacher.
"Why?" Miranda asked. "Why do you need the best seat in the house? And why are you smiling like that?"
"Like you're up to something?"
"I'm not up to anything. I'm just smiling because I'm excited to learn." then Jade did the impossible by further brightening her smile.
Miranda's eyes widened as she suspiciously glanced all around her, the stack of papers on the desk long forgotten. "What's going on?" she demanded suspiciously.
"Nothing." Jade tried to reassure her. "I'm just looking forward to whatever knowledge you are to impart with us today." as if to emphasize her statement, Jade folded her hands serenely on the table.
"Miss West, may I remind you that I am your teacher and, therefore, you must respect me and my authority and never lie to me or play tricks on me."
"I agree." Jade nodded pleasantly.
Instead of being placated by Jade's quick agreement, Miranda became more freaked out. "I'm warning you, Miss West!" Miranda moved away from the table. "Whatever it is you're plotting, you cease and desist at once!"
"I'm not plotting anything." Jade held up both hands in mock surrender.
"I don't believe you!" Miranda hissed as she stood up, knocking over her chair in the process.
Then, Tori heard Beck hiss to Jade, "Knock it off."
Jade's mouth dropped open in indignation. "Did you just tell me to knock it off?" she demanded. "What did I ever do to you?"
Tori was kind of wondering the same thing herself. After all, Jade's antics were keeping Miranda from giving them a pop quiz (which she was grossly unprepared for).
"Whatever it is you're up to," Beck began. "Stop it. You're freaking Miranda out." Beck told her.
"No, she's not freaking out," Jade rolled her eyes. "We are having an intellectual discussion. She is teaching the class through the Socratic Method where she asks a question and I answer."
"No, you're not. Look at her!"
Jade swiveled to look at Miranda, whose head was whipping back and forth as she searched corners of the room for anything suspicious.
"Just go back to your usual seat and—did someone just hit me with a spitball?" Beck demanded as he gingerly removed the wad of paper stuck on his forehead.
"Shut up, pretty boy." Derek Ledger, the mean, buff glass sculptor, glared Beck into submission. "In case you didn't notice, West is getting us out of the pop quiz." he hissed.
Exactly! Tori wanted to cheer. Anything to get them out of the pop quiz.
Jade frowned at Derek's statement before turning back to Miranda. "I swear, Ms. Austerlitz, I'm not up to anything!" she gave the teacher her most reassuring smile.
"You never call me Ms. Austerlitz!" Miranda's eyes narrowed. "That's it! I'm taking a break. Read your books! Do your homework! Text your friends! I don't care!" Miranda snapped as she opened the door. "But I won't stay here and let myself be victimized by whatever Miss West and her cohorts here are up to!" and with that dramatic closing, Miranda swept out of the room.
The class broke out in cheers.
Derek approached Jade's table and brought his face closer to Jade's. "Great job, West."
Beck frowned and waited for Jade's usual tirade.
But Jade didn't get mad at the invasion of her personal space. Instead, she looked at Derek and smiled. "Really?" Jade clapped her hands in excitement. "This classroom thing's easier than I thought." she brought out her Mulberry phone and tapped a few buttons. "I have Advanced Songwriting next. Wanna walk me to my class?"
Derek grinned since next class is not for another thirty minutes. "Of course." grabbing Jade's books, Derek stepped back to give Jade room to stand up. "But maybe you'd like to have a cup of coffee first?"
"Sure." Jade and Derek left, followed by the rest of the class.
Tori was shocked. Jade West just became the class hero and scored herself a coffee date with Derek Ledger, HA's resident bad boy hottie.
Did Tori Vega wake up that morning in some weird alternate universe or something?
Andre Harris was in hell. Or heaven.
Or wherever it is dudes who break the Bro Code are placed.
Who thought it was a good idea for the class to sit in a circle so that they could critic each other's song? Oh yeah. Anthony's.
Willing himself not to look in front of him, Andre found himself glaring at the music teacher.
Because in front of him was seated Jade West.
As in his best friend's ex. And also his friend. Who was so off-limits that she not only came with warning signs, she also have this super effective defense mechanism that gave anyone who got too close the big hurt. (Unfortunately, Jade Defense System seemed to be down today.)
Andre found his eyes involuntary straying over to Jade. (Because what red-blooded, straight, teenaged boy would look at Anthony the Music Teacher when he could look at Jade West instead?)
Smothering a groan, Andre found himself contemplating Jade's shoes. What is it about high heeled shoes that makes a girl's legs look so long and sexy? (Andre was a leg man, through and through.) And he couldn't help but imagine the contrast between his skin and hers as he runs his hand through...no. Not going there.
Andre moved his eyes higher.
One thing that Andre really admired about Jade, aside from her talent and her take-no-prisoners approach to life, was her body. Her full, voluptuous body. Jade could really pull off sexy without being slutty (and boy could she be sexy without even revealing an inch of skin).
Andre was man enough to admit that he had a hard time resisting the call of Jade's creamy, prominent cleavage, emphasized today by the cut of her dress. He couldn't help but think about how her magnificent breas...stop. Also not going there.
But he was a breathing teenager who like girls! How was he supposed to resist when temptation is being dangled right before his very eyes?
Andre took a deep, calming breath.
He could look. Of course, he could look. Looking's okay, right? That isn't breaking the No-Dating-the-Ex-Girlfriend Code, right? Right.
Andre indulged himself to a lot of looking that period, taking care not to get caught.
And before he knew it, classes was over. Andre was one of the last to head out.
Unfortunately, so was Jade.
"Hey!" she greeted him as they both stepped out of the room. "That was a great song you presented to class." she said.
"Thanks." Andre gulped as his eyes darted everywhere but at Jade. But not looking only emphasized her scent. The sweet smell of vanilla with a hint of mint and—nope. Apparently, he won't be breathing either.
"I have something to give to you, but you have to promise me not to open it until tonight." Jade said.
"Yeah? Okay." still not looking at Jade, he held out his hand.
"Here," Jade handed Andre a folded piece of purple paper.
"Are you method acting?" Andre suddenly demanded as he found himself staring at Jade's blue-green eyes. (And just like that, he felt feelings that he had no business feeling.) "Please tell me you're method acting and your goal is to drive me crazy? Because, let me tell you, girl, you're good."
"Of course not. Remember, you can only open it tonight." then, she surprised Andre by leaning over and kissing him on the cheek. "'Bye!"
Andre froze on the doorway, helpless to do anything but to watch his crush (yes, it's back and it's worse than ever) walk away.
"Dude, what was that?" Beck, who was passing by on his way to his next class, saw everything from the handing of the piece of paper to the kiss on the cheek.
Andre hastily shoved the offending piece of paper into his pocket. "Nothing! I didn't do anything! I don't want to talk about it!" he cried out before running away.
Robbie Shapiro was feeling bereft.
His mamaw and papaw had lunch in their house the day before. Mamaw took one look at Rex and declared that Robbie was too old to play with dolls. (Both he and Rex tried to argue that Rex was not a doll, to no avail.) When mamaw left, Rex was suspiciously absent.
Robbie, who was Rex-less that day, trudged to his locker, shoulders slumped, only to find that Ryder Daniels was blocking his way.
"Um, excuse me," Robbie called to Ryder.
Ryder flickered a glance at Robbie. "Aren't you the geek who's friends with Vega?"
"Ah, yes?" Robbie gulped.
"Well, scram!" Ryder told him.
"That's my locker behind you," Robbie squeaked. "I need books for my next class."
Ryder crossed his arms and leaned against said locker. "I don't care. And aren't you the one with Oliver who prevented me from going down the stage when Vega sang her ridiculous song?"
Robbie was about to plead for mercy when Jade West arrived by her own locker.
"Hey, West," Ryder greeted her with a huge grin that Robbie could only dream of having.
Robbie was surprised at Jade's pleasant, "Hey, guys. What's up?"
"I heard you haven't picked a partner for our Ballroom Dancing class." Ryder told her. "I don't have a partner either."
Jade's brow furrowed. "Oh, I'm not picking a partner until tomorrow." she said.
Robbie surreptitiously moved behind Jade, so that she will be between him and Ryder. (Because everyone knows that Jade could take care of herself.)
"I just want to throw my name out there," Ryder said. "Meanwhile, may I interest you in a cup of coffee after classes?"
"Nah. I have prior plans." Jade replied as she opened her locker. She frowned when she found a tall tumbler of Jet Brew inside with coffee still piping hot. She stepped back, wondering who put it in there.
And stepped right into Robbie, who let out an unmanly squeal of pain when he felt one of Jade's stiletto through his Chucks.
"Omigosh, I'm so sorry!" she cried out as she grabbed Robbie's arm in a futile attempt to help him.
Robbie, hopping up and down in pain, tried to shake her off. In the confusion, Jade accidentally stepped on Robbie's other foot.
"Ouch!" Robbie cried out, louder.
"I'm sorry!" Jade cried out.
Ryder laughed while Derek Ledger, drawn by the commotion, went to them.
"What's going on?" Derek demanded.
"It's my fault. I wasn't looking where I was going. I'm so sorry." Jade said, still trying to help Robbie.
"I'm fine!" Robbie squeaked out as he eyed Jade's heels suspiciously.
"I feel awful," Jade said as she released Robbie and went back to her locker. "Here, have a cup of coffee!"
"No, thanks. I don't really feel like drinking coffee today." Robbie replied, as he hobbled from one foot then the other.
Derek stepped towards Robbie. "I believe the lady offered you a drink." he said as he cracked his extra large knuckles. "The polite thing to do is to accept it and say thank you. Or are you being disrespectful to the lady?"
Robbie squeaked in fear.
"Okay!" Beck Oliver, who was watching from his locker, quickly stepped in between the terrified Robbie and the giant threatening him. "I'll like some coffee, thank you." he said as took the tumbler from Jade.
Jade gave him a quick, small smile, before turning back to Robbie. "Are you sure I couldn't do anything to help you?"
"No, no. I'm fine." Robbie assured her. "I just need to get some stuff out of my locker." he motioned.
"Oh, I'll get them for you," Jade offered. "It's the least that I could do."
"NO!" Robbie said. "It's fine. I'll get it."
Jade frowned when she saw Ryder leaning against Robbie's nipple-covered locker. "You do know that those nipples are used, right?" she asked Ryder.
Ryder's eyes widened in disgust as he immediately stood up straight. "Shapiro!" he called out threateningly.
Beck subtly moved Robbie behind him.
Good thing the warning bell rang.
"I have science next!" Jade announced, diffusing the tension, as she grabbed a book and shut her locker. "Who can walk me to class?"
"I will!" Ryder quickly offered as he took Jade's book, glaring at Robbie the entire time.
"I really am sorry," Jade told Robbie before allowing herself to be escorted by Ryder to her next class, with Derek Ledger following them.
"What is wrong with Jade and those thrice-cursed shoes of hers?" Robbie asked Beck as he painfully made his way to his own locker. "Was she abducted by aliens who replaced her personality in a lab experiment gone wrong?"
And to Robbie's surprise, Beck didn't look at him as if he was weird. Instead, Beck had a thoughtful look on his face.
Cat Valentine giggled as she made her way to the Grub Truck to buy lunch. She knew a secret. A delicious, wonderful secret that she could tell no one. She placed a hand over her lips as if by doing so, she could prevent everything from coming out.
After buying her lunch, she made her way to her usual table, still giggling.
"What is going on with that girl?" Andre asked just as Cat placed her tray on the table.
"What is that supposed to mean?" Cat demanded. Were they talking about her behind her back?
"We're talking about Jade and how weird she's been behaving today," Robbie was quick to reassure her.
"She called my boots last season and knock-offs." Tori groaned. "Out loud! I think I like her better when she was mocking the way I talk than when she's dishing out fashion commentaries."
"And she stepped on me! Twice! I think her stilettos put a permanent mark on my feet!" Robbie added.
"And what about you?" Beck turned to Andre. "What's your complaint about Jade?"
"Nothing." Andre's eyes widened. "Why? What did you hear? Whatever it is, it's not true!" and with a look of panic in his eyes, he packed his stuff and stood up. "I gotta go!"
"But you're still not finished with your food!" Tori called after him, but he was already gone.
Cat giggled and started bouncing up and down when she saw, "Jade! Jade, over here!"
Jade, who was standing by the Grub Truck, waved to Cat before walking over. "Hey, guys," Jade greeted them as she sat down.
Three freshmen boys were behind her.
Boy number one placed a tray in front of Jade. "Here's your lunch."
"And your water," boy number two said placing a bottle at the table. "Which cap I took the liberty of loosening."
"And your coffee." this from boy number three.
"Thanks, boys," Jade said as she picked up her water.
The three boys beamed before leaving the table.
"Since when did you start drinking bottled water?" Beck asked with a frown.
Jade, who had brought the bottle to her lips, frowned. "What?"
"Fish pee, remember?"
"Oh. Ew." Jade slammed the water back down. "I think I'll get a iced tea instead."
A freshman from a nearby table suddenly screamed, "Jade wants iced tea!" before a mass exodus towards the vending machine broke out.
"Non-carbonated!" Jade called after them as she opened her food container and grabbed a fork.
"Jade," Cat giggled. "How's your day?"
"So much fun," Jade said. She looked at the people sharing her table before zeroing in on Tori. "Oh, the Michael Siriano boots girl. Have you changed your shoes?"
"Of course I haven't changed my shoes!" Tori growled. "I'm in school. I don't exactly have a spare pair!"
"Oh." Jade shrugged as she turned back on her food. "That's so sad."
Tori made a face, mocking Jade under her breath.
"I've had enough." Beck suddenly stood up. "We need to talk." he said, grabbing Jade's arm and pulling her up.
"Hey! I'm not done with my salad! I haven't reached my daily quota of calories yet!" she cried out as she wrenched her arm off of Beck's grasp. "Who do you think you are? You're not my nutritionist!"
Beck stared at Jade as if she was losing her mind. "Dude," he said.
"Psst, Jade!" Cat whispered, she was pointing at Beck while her other hand tried to conceal her pointing hand. "That's Beck Oliver."
The gang looked at Cat as if she was crazy.
"Oh, the ex." Jade winced. "Phone!" she called out.
As if by magic, another boy appeared at her side. He handed her a Mulberry phone before disappearing as efficiently as he came.
"Why does that boy have your phone?" Tori asked.
"He's holding it for me because my dress doesn't have pockets." Jade replied to Tori as if it was the most obvious thing in the world.
"Jade, we're talking right now." Beck told her.
"No. I have to tell you something first." Jade said as she furiously scrolled through her phone. "Aha. Here it is." she began to read an entry on her phone. "We're broken up so it shouldn't matter what I do. Why don't you mind your own business? Why don't you," she paused. "I couldn't say the next line. It's vulgar."
Cat stood up and peered at Jade's phone. "It is. And dirty." she agreed.
Beck grabbed the phone and read the message. "Now, you don't have to say it out loud. I already read it." he handed it back to Jade.
"Good." Jade said as she stretched out the hand holding the phone. Immediately, the same boy who gave her the phone reappeared and took it before disappearing again.
"Now we talk." Beck told Jade as he once again grabbed her arm and started marching her into the school.
"Bye, Jadey!" Cat called out as she watched the two disappear.
"But I have Improv next!" Jade cried out. "That's my favorite class!"
"I know." Beck told her. "I'll walk you to class." he didn't stop until he reached the janitor's closet. He opened the door and firmly pushed Jade inside. He entered and locked the door.
"This is not Improv cla—oomph!" she whirled around, her eyes widening as Beck planted a big, wet kiss at her.
Beck ended the kiss seconds later, satisfied. He pulled back, but kept a hold on her shoulders.
"This is bad," Jade muttered.
"I thought as much," Beck told her.
"Really, really bad."
"I know. Now, who are you and where's the real Jade West?" Beck demanded.
"Really, really, really—wait. What?" panic began to set in Jade's eyes. "I am Jade West." she glared at him as she retreated to a corner of the room.
"No you're not." Beck told her. "At first I thought you were, and you were just method acting. But you didn't have your usual tells, like biting your lips when lying or looking up when uncertain."
Jade crossed her arms and glared at Beck.
"And then I explored the idea that maybe you lost your memories or something. But I thought, hey, your mannerisms are likely to be the same. But you not once did you ran your hand through your hair, sigh when frustrated, or hold yourself perfectly still when wearing something uncomfortable, which your heels probably are."
"My heels are so comfortable," Jade muttered.
"And then it hit me." Beck said. "It's not Jade. It's someone who looks freakishly like Jade pretending to be Jade."
From the way not-Jade jerked as if she was hit by lightning, Beck knew he was right.
"I am so Jade!" not-Jade insisted.
"No, you're not." Beck told her with certainty. "The kiss proved it. Jade's kisses makes me feel as if I'm losing my mind and leaves me craving for more. Her kisses burn me and make me feel alive." his voice softened in recollection. "But even if you look exactly like Jade, your kisses felt like stage kisses."
Not-Jade gaped at him. "My goodness, you're still in love with her!" then, she covered her mouth in horror.
Beck chose to ignore the you're still in love with her comment and focused instead on the implied admission. "Aha!"
"And I don't know why Jade's in love with you," not-Jade grumbled. "You're not very nice at all."
"Wait. What?" Beck asked. "Jade's still in love with me? Did she tell you that?"
"Well, no." not-Jade admitted. "But I can see it in her eyes when she talks about you. The same way I saw it in your eyes when you talked about her." she shrugged. "I've been meeting different kinds of people all my life, and some of them makes a career out of taking advantage of people. So in self-defense, I had to learn how to read people."
"Who are you?"
"Oh," she smiled as she extended her right hand. "Heather Fox."
Beck shook her hand before the name sank in. "Heather Fox, supermodel-slash-spokesperson?" Beck goggled. "I knew you looked like Jade. But when I told her that, she cut up my favorite plaid shirt in revenge."
"I don't see it, too." Jade, no, Heather shrugged. "But when we met each other at the bookstore, Cat kept confusing the two of us. And then when we went to the checkout counter, the cashier kept asking if we were twins."
"So where's Jade?" Beck asked.
Heather checked her watch. "It's noon, so she's probably on her way back from Paris. She sent me a message saying that the photographer was so impressed by her that he booked her, well me, for another gig."
"She is pretty special." Beck found himself agreeing.
Heather sank on the floor, unmindful of her pretty white dress. "So can I ask what happened between the two of you?"
"Why don't you ask Jade?"
"Are you crazy? Jade's scary." Heather shuddered.
"No, she's not," Beck denied. "She's just misunderstood."
"Yeah, keep saying that," Heather muttered. "Well, if you don't want to talk about it, let me just give you a piece of unsolicited advice."
Beck looked at Heather expectantly.
"If you want to get her back, you have to take the initiative." Heather said. "She's convinced that you broke up with her because you don't love her anymore. And she wants to set you free because she wants you happy."
Beck looked down but didn't say anything.
Heather continued. "She's in love with you now, but she's gonna get over it eventually. A girl like her's not gonna stay single forever. From my day in your school, it's obvious that with a little effort, she can have whoever she wants."
"We're volatile together."
"And you're saying that you're better apart?"
Beck fell silent because the answer to that was a resounding NO, at least on his part. Being with Jade was better. Sappy as it sounded, Jade made him see more colors, feel more intense emotions, experience joy.
Heather shrugged negligently. "But it's your life. I'm just visiting." she got up from her position on the floor. "Anyway, you have to promise me not to tell anyone about this."
"Sure, I won't tell anyone," Beck shrugged, his head still reeling from Heather's words.
Heather gave him a tentative smile before reaching out and squeezing his arm. Then, without a word, she left Beck alone with his thoughts.
Beck ran his hands through his hair. He had just kissed supermodel Heather Fox and that didn't even begin to measure with the kisses he had shared with Jade. (Come to think of it, he had been kissing, and trying to kiss, plenty of girls lately, wishing to get rid of the taste of another from his mouth too no avail. Because he craved only one woman.)
He was so deep in his musings that he did not notice that Heather Fox had come back.
"What?" he asked, startled when she stood in front of him.
Wordlessly, Heather grabbed Beck's arm, tugged his long sleeve down before carefully rolling it up properly. She repeated the action on his other sleeve. "If you want to get her back, fix your sleeves. And make sure you wash your hair tonight. It's getting a bit greasy." she grimaced. "Good luck with Jade. You have a lot of crawling and begging ahead of you of you want to get back together with her. She doesn't strike me as the forgive and forget kind of girl."
Beck wondered how long he was expected to keep Jade's secret. (He wasn't very good at keeping secrets, after all.)
Not long, apparently.
Because right after a disastrous rehearsal where Jade made Sikowitz cry because of her terrible acting, Tori Vega grabbed him, Andre and Robbie.
"We have got to get to the bottom of Jade's wonk!" she said, fire (not to mention insanity) in her eyes.
Beck shrugged. While he did promise not to tell, he didn't promise not to help his friends discover the truth.
"What do you propose we do?" Robbie asked.
"We'll follow her." Tori declared.
Andre and Beck looked at Tori like she was crazy.
"What? It was the best I could come up with under the circumstances. You try to come up with a plan," she glared the boys into submission.
That was how Beck found himself following Jade West (aka Heather Fox) and Cat Valentine into the parking lot of Nozu that Monday night.
Cat and Jade were holding hands, giggling, when a limousine pulled in. The limousine's driver disembarked, tipped his hat to the girls, before opening the back door.
And Jade West (the real one) stepped down the limousine. (The driver tipped his hat again at the girls, before going back in the limo and driving away).
And like spectators in a tennis match, Tori's, Andre's and Robbie's heads turned from one Jade to the other. The fact that the Jades were dressed identically didn't help matters any, the only difference being, limousine!Jade's hair hung down her back while the Jade holding hands with Cat was in a pony tail.
"I knew it!" Tori shouted in victory. "I knew there was something wonky going on!"
All three girls whirled around in surprise.
"Uh-oh," Cat sighed deeply. "Busted."
"What is this? Human cloning?" Andre ventured.
"Alternate universes?" Robbie guessed.
"Long-lost twins?" was Tori's contribution.
"No," Beck said as he hurrying towards the real Jade who was teetering dangerously in her high heels. He caught her in time and said, "Two girls who look ridiculously alike."
When Jade regained her balance, she shoved Beck away. With a cry of frustration, Jade reached down and removed the stilettos from her feet. "These shoes are killing me!"
"So which witch is which?" Tori asked.
Twin identical glares turned on her.
"This is Jade," Beck said confidently as he motioned to the shoeless one.
"So the one the went to our school wasn't Jade?" Andre asked excitedly, turning to look at the other Jade. "You mean I'm not crushing on my best friend's ex girlfriend?" Andre hurriedly took out the slip of paper Jade—no, not Jade—gave him earlier. It was her name and phone number. "Heather Fox? Supermodel Heather Fox?"
"Wait, what?" Jade demanded. "Andre was crushing on me?"
"No, he's not." Beck immediately interjected. "He was crushing on Heather Fox."
"Who was posing at me," Jade glared. "What do you care anyway?"
"Because I do," was Beck's enigmatic reply.
"Um, maybe we should go inside," Tori ventured, trying to nip the impending fight in the bud.
"Yes!" Cat, oblivious to all the tension, cried out. "So Jade could tell us about her day in Paris!"
"Paris?" Tori's eyes widened as she walked towards the door, encouraging Cat and Robbie to do the same.
Heather nodded as she released her hold on Cat and linked arms with Andre. "I had a shoot there which Jade did."
"Cool," Andre grinned widely.
Jade made a move to follow the group but Beck stopped her with a hand on her arm.
"Go ahead. We'll follow in a bit." he said.
Heather and Cat gave Jade a meaningful grin, while Andre gave Beck a thumbs up.
Beck and Jade watched the group go into Nozu in silence.
"So what do you want?" Jade grumbled as she snatched her arm out of Beck's grasp.
Without a word, Beck grabbed Jade's shoulders before swooping down and kissing her—deeply, passionately, meaningfully—the way Jade West needed to be kissed (the way he wanted to kiss her since the day he failed to open the door).
Beck pulled back seconds (Minutes? Hours? Days?) later. It took him a while to recover from the kiss, but it took Jade longer than him (probably because she wasn't expecting it). He thus had the pleasure of watching Jade try to pull herself back together.
After which, Jade shoved Beck back forcefully. "What's the big idea?"
"Just checking if it is you." Beck told her.
"Don't ever do that again."
"I like kissing you," Beck shrugged. "So no promises."
"If you do that again, you're gonna lose something important." Jade threatened.
"It's just a kiss, Jade. We're both actors. We both know that it's not a big deal and it can mean nothing."
Jade glared at him, for once without a witty rejoinder. (Because that one hurt.)
"But we both know that when we kiss," Beck said before swooping down and stealing another kiss from Jade. "It means everything." he took the pair of heels from Jade and squatted down. Gently, he lifted Jade's foot as he slipped it in in the shoe.
"Jerk!" Jade rolled her eyes as she was forced to hold on to his shoulder or fall down. "I'm not getting back with you just because you kissed me."
"I know," Beck shrugged negligently as he did the other foot. "But you will. Eventually. Because you love me." satisfied that Jade's feet are protected, he ambled away towards the entrance.
"I do not!" Jade denied hotly called out as she followed after the jerk.
"Yes, you do." Beck, ambling at a sedate pace, replied without looking back.
"I hate you!"
Beck had reached the entrance to Nozu. He opened the door before looking back at Jade and shouting, "Yeah! I love you, too, Jade West!"
The look of shock on Jade's (and the customers') face(s) was (were) priceless.
Beck laughed as he waited for Jade to reach him. He motioned for her to go in first.
"I won't take you back even if you're the last man on earth!" Jade muttered mutinously as she passed him by.
"Yeah, you would," Beck replied.
Yes. She would. But he would have to come crawling first.
*Loosely based on Mark Twain's The Prince and the Pauper. And again, I apologize for subjecting you 6,500 words of insanity.
**Sleeves and hair lovingly dedicated to Cassandra, the genius behind bade prompts.