Don't go away again
I want to be more than a phone call at four a.m.
Seems like every time you come back home,
It's just to steal my heart and leave.

- A Story To Tell Your Friends by Every Avenue


The last thing that Jade expected to interrupt her all-nighter was a phone call from Beck Oliver.

So, naturally, that was exactly what did.

She sat there, with the script she was revising open in her lap, safe from her red pen and its rather brutal margin notes ("If this dialogue gets any sappier, I'm going to kill someone" and "It's YOU'RE not YOUR, what are you, five?", among others) for the moment. She looked askance at her pear phone ringing incessantly at arm's length atop the table. It was probably just Cat, with her nth up-to-the-minute update on what was on her mind at that moment. Or it was Vega pleading for her to go easy on her script. Jade smirked. Well, too late for that. She reached for her phone, only to hastily drop it again when she saw whose name was on the caller ID.

It was Beck.

He had mercilessly spared her from the post-breakup coping mechanism that was purging him from her life by insisting that they not divide their friends between them. So they were technically still friends, which meant she couldn't exactly delete his phone number (although, after seeing what he almost tried with Vega the night before the Platinum Music Awards, she had no problem with gleefully parting with some of his photographs with the use of her favorite scissors). This had not been a problem, because they never called each other after the breakup. Until now, that is: two-thirty-seven in the morning on a Thursday, a month, six days, and ten hours since they stopped seeing each other. Not that she'd been counting.

With a quivering hand, she picked her phone up again, her thumb hovering over the 'Accept' button. What was the big deal, right? He probably just wanted to ask her something school-related, and no one else was up at this hour. But just the thought angered her. So they could be friends when it was necessary for him? Just like they had to break up, because it wasn't fun anymore, wasn't convenient being her boyfriend anymore? She pressed 'Decline' instead, not wanting to deal with this right now. She was going to end up saying something she would regret, and she had been doing so well keeping it in. Beck didn't even know she knew about Tori and the attempted kiss, and if she picked up, she just might slip, even if his only intention was to talk about Sikowitz's assignment.

She tossed her phone back on the table and returned to the script on her lap. Her brow furrowed as she strained to concentrate. She was halfway through correcting a grammatical error when her phone rang again. Her blue eyes darted up to check the caller ID. It was still Beck.

She groaned, half-wanting to turn the damn thing off, but half-wanting to just ignore it and let him stew a while. Then when she saw him tomorrow she could just say, "Oh, I'd set it on silent and went to bed, sorry" and be let off the hook. Or not. When it came to Beck, she was never let off easy. That boy could read her like a book. If she did feed him that excuse tomorrow, he'd know it was deliberate. The ringing died, and her phone had just registered the missed call when a new one was coming in.

"Oh, for Christ's sake," she mumbled in exasperation as she grabbed her phone. She took a moment to get good and angry, so that when she finally pressed the 'Accept' button, she gave a very convincing, and not at all bewildered, "What."

"Heeeeey Jade," he slurred from the other end of the line. "What're you doooing?"

She wrinkled her nose at the overfriendly greeting. It was either he hit his head and lost all memory of the breakup, or he was drunk. Since this was clearly not a romantic comedy (like Vega's script was trying to be), she went with the latter. "Are you drunk?" she asked bluntly.

"I-I think so," was the stuttered response.

She rolled her eyes out of force of habit more than anything. "Don't tell me those guys down at the club actually bought that fake ID of yours. You are obviously not twenty-six," she muttered quietly. She hated to admit it, but she was a little worried that he was out, and drinking, at this time. It was almost three and he sounded way too drunk to drive himself home.

He had the audacity to laugh. "Don't hate me just because you got thrown out. Apparently you don't make a very convincing twenty-one-year-old." There was an odd familiarity to his voice. Fondness. Maybe he was too drunk to remember they weren't a couple anymore.

Jade didn't know how many times she had repeated that sentence in her head since the call started – 'we're not a couple anymore'. As if she had to remind herself, too, because that fondness? She felt it too. It was an effort to keep it out of her voice. Two years of seeing each other was not going to be erased by a mere month or so apart. She knew that well enough, but she just didn't want to sound like the loser in this whole arrangement of theirs.

She pouted at what he had said, but didn't give it a reply. "Well, what is it?" she snapped, trying to sound as authoritative as ever, even though the question really had been hanging over her head since their conversation began. "Why did you call?" There was an inadvertent softening to her voice that she detested, but she said nothing more as she waited for his reply.

It was, "Nothing, I just missed you."

What surprised her even more was that it wasn't in a slur or anything. It sounded like the most clear-headed thing he'd said in this entire exchange, even though it clearly made the least sense. She couldn't speak, couldn't think of anything to say to that. Her heart was pounding in her ears. She was a writer; she imagined things, and she refused to admit just how many times and in how many variations he had said those words to her. Never had she actually thought she would hear him say them. In all those scenarios, she imagined an immense sense of gratification, but if it was even possible, this was breaking her heart even more.

"No, you don't, you're drunk and you just think that," she told him quietly, but she couldn't help but feel that it was partly for her own benefit. Then, a little more firmly, she added through gritted teeth, "Go home, Beck."

"N-no, I r-really do miss you, Jaaade," he slurred, slightly bemused by the sound of him. "I miss your hair and your eyes and your lips and your fingers and your –" he stopped there, and she heard a short, low chuckle from the other end. "I wanted to kiss you today. I really did. But it wouldn't have been right."

She didn't know what she should have said to that. In a better world, probably, she would have said, "I missed you too" or "Why didn't you kiss me?" Because Lord knows that no matter how many times she had tried to block the mental image out of her head, all she ever wanted to do these days was march up to him, wrap her arms around his neck, run her hands through his perfect hair… But there was no guarantee she wasn't going to be hurt, and that kind of pain wasn't the good kind. And because it wasn't failsafe, Jade did what she did best instead: be cynical.

"Because we broke up," she answered flatly, a little more sullenly than she would have liked. Because they were broken up. Why the hell was he even saying all this? On the one hand, it was so unlike him to be so vocal, to tell her exactly how he was feeling without her asking. On the other hand, it was so like him, as well. It was like she was finally hearing him without the filters, without the stoic façade. Who knew it would take alcohol to do that? Maybe if she had learned this sooner, no one would call them out for having had 'communication problems'.

"Because we broke up," he echoed, and somehow that made it sound like an ultimatum.

There was silence on both ends for a while. Jade stared dispassionately at the script she was still holding, her blue eyes not really seeing it at all. She sighed as she tossed it on her table. Picking herself up, she lay down on her bed, her eyes closing. This conversation was exhausting. She thought she had enough caffeine in her to keep herself going until roughly six in the evening that day, but apparently all it took was a phone call from Beck to prove her wrong. "Go home, Beck," she mumbled again, finally breaking the silence.

"I meant it when I said I'm tired of the fighting, Jade. I don't want to yell at you. I don't want you to be mad at me. But I'm not tired of you. I can never be tired of you. I love you and sometimes I just wish that were enough to make things right, but I screwed up. I forgot the best things about us and forgot that we were my favorite part of my day. I screwed up…"

She couldn't hear this right now. She didn't know what hurt worse, the memories his little speech was digging up, or the knowledge that had he been sober, his sense or his pride would not have let him say any of it. The worst part of it was that he said 'love', like it wasn't over for him. Just like it wasn't over for her, and her insistence on calling him her 'ex' or saying that they were 'broken up' was only meant to reassure her. She held her tongue, refusing to let go of the "I love you too" on her lips. There was no point telling him if he wouldn't remember any of this in the morning.

A bit more silence, before the fuzzy voice came from the other line. "Can I come over?"

She snorted, a welcome respite from the tears that were welling up in her eyes. "As if you could make it all the way from the club to my house without passing out."

"I have, actually. I'm outside."

His words made her shoot up and clamber off her bed to the window. She pulled up the window and stuck her head out to look. Standing there in the balmy night air, on the sidewalk in front of her house, was Beck Oliver, all smiles as he looked up at her from under her window.

"What are you doing here," she demanded, speaking into her phone, as she didn't want to wake anyone else in the house. It was not a question at all.

So he didn't answer it. The same goofy grin on his face, he asked, "Can I come up?"

There was a trellis right under her window that Beck used to climb to get up to her room back when they were together. She looked down at it now, raised an eyebrow (though she knew he probably couldn't see the expression), and said with a smirk, "I'd like to see you try. 'Cause in the state you're in, there's about a ninety percent chance you're going to fall and break your neck."

"Then I'll ring the doorbell," he said.

Her eyes widened. "You wouldn't!" she hissed. But by the time she had looked, he was making his way to the front door.

Shit.

She ran out of her room and down the stairs, only barely swinging the door open before he pressed the ringer for the doorbell. Out of breath and livid, she stood there with him on her doorstep, and he looked like he had won this little game of theirs. There was a look in his eyes she knew all too well, all dark and full of need, but there was a smile on his lips that said he hadn't been this happy in a long time. It disarmed her. Then, before she had time to react, he leaned in and pressed his lips to hers, chastely, innocently, and pulled away after a moment. An all too brief moment that tasted of whiskey and regret. As he parted from her, though, the smile on his face was serene. Content. She bit her lip, keeping back an angry comeback at bay. How could she ever stay angry with him?

"Get out," she mumbled as she pushed him back away from her doorstep. She saw the confused, crestfallen look on his face before she grabbed the keys from the drawer and added quietly, "I'm driving you home. Get in the car."

It was a silent ride to Beck's place, save for the music she put on to fill the awkward silence between them. She tried to focus on the lyrics, instead of what had just happened between them. Beck, she could see, was fighting to stay awake, fighting not to pass out. What all that effort was for, she couldn't imagine, but she was grateful she wasn't going to have to haul him into his RV all on her own. She pulled up at the curb by his house quietly, let herself out and helped him get to his feet. He hobbled along as best as he could, but she could tell that the liquor was getting to him. She had helped him into bed when he pulled her closer and whispered in her ear.

"Stay with me."

She looked at him ruefully. "You won't remember any of this in the morning," she whispered back.

"I want to," he murmured, his words stringing together until they were no longer coherent. "I want to remember. Help me remember." There was a flicker of a smile on her face as she sat down next to him and waited for him to finally fall asleep. She wasn't going to help him remember. If she was lucky, he'd think it was all a dream.

Author's Note: So this is my first fic in a long time. I haven't written much for the past few years being busy with school, but I decided to get back into things now that stuff has cleared up considerably. Still, I know I'm a pretty rusty and this is my first Victorious fic. But go ahead, don't be gentle, rip it apart. I welcome it. Also! I'd really like a beta reader to bounce ideas off of and to look over my stuff if anyone's interested in doing that. I think I'll just be doing one-shots, so it's probably going to be an easy enough job? Haha. Anyway, it would be nice to know what you think.

Disclaimer: None of the characters of Victorious are mine, and the song I quoted at the top isn't mine, either.