This is my first voyage into the wonderful world of Victorious fanfiction. Seriously, there are some super fantastic authors writing for this fandom, and obviously I have no hope of competing, but I'm actually really proud of this, so.
It's Alternate Universe. Beck attends Northridge, rather than HA, and works at a random hipster coffee shop that is the second home of one Jade West, who attends Hollywood Arts with the rest of the gang. Obviously, stuff goes down. ;)
Beck Oliver had never thought it possible to grow sick of the smell of coffee until today.
He'd worked a seven-hour shift last night. Only this morning he had narrowly avoided a violent encounter with a spindly geek who took his caffeine way too seriously, and then he'd had to endure a long day of school before returning to his position behind the coffee bar once more.
He hadn't showered since yesterday morning. His hair looked like crap. His stomach was empty, save for the slightly freezer-burned Hot Pocket he'd scarfed down on his way out the door this morning. His mouth was dry and tasted of old coffee and stale mint gum.
In other words, Beck Oliver was really, truly considering staging a violent altercation with his supervisor - a girl younger than he who wore Hello Kitty barrettes in her blonde hair - and throwing his decidedly feminine apron to the floor before storming out in high dramatic fashion.
But of course, Beck couldn't exactly do that, for a number of reasons. Firstly, he needed this job if he ever planned on getting out of his RV. Secondly, his supervisor had a thing for his hair, and was therefore more likely to stroke him like a coddled puppy than fire him. Thirdly, his supervisor wasn't even here today, and Beck wasn't yet far gone enough to start arguing with himself.
He was, however, in no mood to be friendly. And that was why he might have been a tad on the grumpy side when his first customer of the afternoon marched through the cafe's door, glaring at the bell that cheerfully signaled her arrival as though it had personally insulted her mother.
"Can I help you?" Beck relayed tiredly, running a hand through his disheveled, deflated hair.
The girl fixed him with an alarmingly intense, blue-eyed gaze and said haughtily, "Nope."
He blinked. "No?"
The girl smiled acidly. "Oh, good. He comprehends basic English." She snapped her gum obnoxiously. "You want some applause or something?"
Well. If you asked Beck's professional opinion as a coffee connoisseur (it sounded more manly than 'barista'), the girl certainly sounded like she could do with some caffeine. And an attitude adjustment. He sighed and attempted a tone of relative politeness.
"You don't want to buy anything?"
She blew a bubble, popped it with her tongue, and then repeated, "Nope."
"Then why are you-"
In answer, the girl hefted a large, white paper-covered shoebox onto the counter. The box, Beck noted, was lettered in large, looping black handwriting: COMPLAINTS.
He opened his mouth to question the box, as well as this girl's sanity, but it seemed she wasn't finished. Digging about in her bag, she procured several white index cards, covered in the same loopy font, and dropped them, one by one, into the slot on the box's top with a decidedly vindictive smirk.
Looking up, she said crisply, "Oh, and I'll take a coffee. Black. Two sugars. Two. Dos. Not three, not one. Two."
Beck ran a hand through his hair once more, if only to stop himself from strangling this girl with the insolent, darkly-rimmed eyes. "I thought you said-"
"Yeah, well I changed my mind," she snapped. "Now are you going to do your job, Aladdin, or do I need to write another complaint for your newly installed box?"
The bell tinkled irritatingly as the door swung open, revealing two bored-looking skater dudes. Only a second later, it rang again, ushering in a host of kids about Beck's age.
Beck decided that now, right as the after-school rush began, was not the time to pick a fight, so he just got the girl her damn coffee and grit his teeth when she accepted it with a coolly-raised eyebrow and no thank you.
Fifteen minutes later, she was back, fearlessly elbowing her way through the rabid pack of impatient, caffeine-deprived customers and stuffing an inked-on napkin into the COMPLAINTS box's slot with a charmingly cruel grin in Beck's direction. "This one's especially for you."
The door tinkled irritatingly behind her.
That night, before packing up and going home to a long night of homework in his RV, Beck's curiosity got the best of him.
Because obviously this girl had had some serious rage issues, and right now Beck, too, had some serious rage - towards the hipster cafe that was wrecking his sleep cycle and his magnificent hair - and he needed to know he was not alone in the world. It would be therapeutic.
Or just hilarious. Either way.
So he snagged the nearest stool, pulled it up to the counter, ran a hand through his de-fluffed hair, and removed the top from the shoe box, idly noting that the mysterious, nasty girl had size eight feet and a penchant for black combat boots.
Inside were the girl's index cards as well as a couple notes scribbled on napkins from other customers who had taken a shine to the idea of an anonymous complaint box.
Some wise guys (probably the group of rowdy middle-school boys who'd thrown their weight around as they swigged decaf blend that was more cream and sugar than coffee) had drawn various... diagrams on napkins and poked them through the slot. Beck threw these away immediately and wondered if lamenting on the corrupted youth of these days would make him sound old.
Someone else complained that the 'barista' had 'ogled' her 'assets' 'shamelessly.'
He had no doubt that this was from the brunette girl who came in with her sister everyday to order one schmancy-flavored latte or another while posturing for Beck and asking if she could stroke his hair.
Everyday he smiled politely and informed the girl - Lina? Xena? - that his hair had a strict no-stroking policy. Today he'd been a bit less friendly. Perhaps this was the girl's attempt at revenge.
It, too, went straight into the garbage.
And then there were the three index cards and a napkin from the nasty, albeit very pretty, brunette girl.
Obviously your barista cannot count. I asked for a black coffee with TWO sugars yesterday morning. One, two. TWO. What I received vaguely resembled sugary tar. Or maybe cat pee. Both of which I HATE. Color me on the verge of homicidal rage.
The bell on your front entrance is intolerably cheerful, especially to the ears of one in desperate need of coffee. I hate it. Take it down before it turns some unstable, caffeine-dependent hipster into an ax murderer.
The vapid, squirrel-reminiscent blonde who purports herself to be a supervisor is, like your doorbell, far too happy to be trusted. She's probably on drugs. Either way, I hate her.
Your afternoon barista, the allegedly male one, can neither speak in full sentences nor practice basic hygiene, apparently. He is constantly running his hands through his hair. Seriously, ew. I'd suggest shaving him bald, but I suppose a hairnet would suffice.
Beck wasn't sure whether to burst out laughing or be offended. He began to run a hand through his hair, only to realize what he was doing and guiltily jerk away.
He stuffed all the index cards into the pocket of his jeans, stowed the COMPLAINTS box beneath the counter, and proceeded to lock up, consciously avoiding touching his hands to his hair in any way.
Amusing as the girl's suggestions might be, there was no way he was letting them get to the manager.
Beck Oliver could tolerate a lot, but a hairnet might very well send him over the edge.
The girl was back the next morning, barging through the door with angry eyes burning in her pale face and turquoise high-lights in her hair. Beck steeled his nerves and struck before she could with a sarcastic greeting.
"Are you actually going to buy coffee today? Or are you going to install environmentally-friendly light bulbs and check our pipes for lead content?"
Without a word, the nasty, albeit pretty, brunette seized a napkin, dug a pen from her purse, and hurriedly scrawled:
Your light bulbs are killing the polar bears and your barista has a bad attitude.
Stuffing it into the box, she glared at him. "Happy?"
Beck blew air out of his mouth. "Not particularly."
Nasty, Albeit Pretty, Brunette smiled. "Yay." Then, turning towards the menu board, she continued, "I'll have a coffee. Black. Two sugars. No more, no less, or I'll literally rip your hair out."
Hands working automatically as he constructed the coffee, Beck smirked. "Bad day?"
Nasty Girl moaned and slumped into a bar stool, dropping her bag to the floor with a tired thump. "Bad day. Bad week. Bad- Hey, why aren't you wearing a hairnet?"
Beck handed her the coffee and spread his fingers to display the transparent rubber gloves he was wearing. "I'm being hygienical."
"Ooh." She sipped her coffee boredly. "Big word."
"I try. So can I get you anything else? A muffin? A bear claw?"
"Stop trying to make me fat."
"The muffins have chocolate," he wheedled, unperturbed.
The girl banged her coffee down with a look of exasperation. "I'm having a bad day, Oliver, not PMSing!"
Beck blinked. Dude. She knew his name? Who was this girl, some sort of snarky international spy intent on bringing freedom of speech to hipster coffee shops across America?
She sighed, seeming to read his mind - using her secret agent skills? - and explained flatly, "I read your nametag, braniac."
Well that was embarrassing.
Hastily, Beck attempted to move the subject away from his apparent lack of common sense. "Well, you know my name. Do I get to know yours?"
Nasty Brunette considered this, pursing her lips and taking another sip of coffee before getting to her feet. "No."
"Stop taking everything I say, repeating it with a slightly different inflection, and passing it off as your own," called the mysterious girl who was possibly a coffee-loving vigilante of justice, striding towards the door.
"You forgot to pay for your coffee," countered Beck. He smiled as she stomped back to the counter and banged down her wallet, slamming a couple dollar bills down in front of him.
"Happy now, Oliver?"
"Very... Jade," he returned wickedly, reading her name off the driver's license displayed in her wallet, with what could only be described as a triumphant grin.
Jade very politely flipped him off and stormed out, swatting angrily at the cheerfully tinkling bells overhead as she went.
As he entered the bills into the cash register, Beck smiled a little to himself, even if he wasn't quite sure why.
The next day another index card was shoved through the box's slot as Jade and a frighteningly peppy girl with bright red hair ordered coffee and strawberry milk, respectively, and took a seat at a table in the far corner by the window.
As soon as Jade had flipped her hair, streaked with fuscia today, and turned away, Beck retrieved the new complaint and read it apprehensively.
I did not receive my change yesterday when I paid for my coffee. Also your pipes should be checked for lead content.
Oliver, you owe me thirty-six cents change. I will collect.
Beck grinned just a little at the acknowledgment, and delivered a note of his own, scrawled hastily on a napkin, with their drinks.
Attached you will find today's order and your change from the other day's. Have a nice day, come again soon.
Your friend, Beck
The next day came with a new complaint, shoved into his hand when Jade and the redhead came to the counter to order. It was written on the back of a receipt from an arts n crafts store. Beck was slightly concerned at how many pairs of scissors the girl had purchased in one day.
Yesterday the napkin I received along with my order had been written on by a barista with obnoxious hair. Outrageous treatment of customers. I protest.
Also, Oliver, I HATE people who tell people to 'have a nice day.' Go die in a hole somewhere with your dumb hair.
He wondered if it was weird that he was enjoying entertaining such an abusive conversation with an unpleasant customer quite so much, then shrugged it off and hurried to retrieve the drinks and write his note in return.
I think we all know you're jealous of my hair. I'd let you stroke it, but - alas - I have a strict no-stroking policy. My apologies.
Your friend, Beck
He could have sworn he saw Jade's lips quirk into a smile for an instant as she scanned the note on the napkin he'd delivered, along with the coffee and milk, to her and her red-haired friend, who were fast becoming regular residents at their table by the window.
It kind of made his day a little bit.
He was in the middle of making two different cups of coffee for one dude with a puppet when Jade abruptly strode over to the counter, briefly petted his hair with one pale, darkly-manicured hand, and just as casually returned to her table.
When the redhead - "Cat, like the animal cat, except with a capital letter 'c'" - approached the counter to pay for her drink and to purchase an unhealthy amount of the cafe's newest delicacy, Bibble, she brought with her a familiarly-lettered napkin. She giggled happily, regarded her new sack of Bibble with an addict's adoration, and slotted the napkin into the COMPLAINTS box.
The instant Jade and her exuberant friend had departed, Beck retrieved the note.
I concede that your hair is fairly luxurious... Are you gay?
Jade looked very near to falling asleep when she slumped into a seat at the counter just past opening time the next morning.
Beck handed her coffee before she had even opened her mouth. "Long night?"
"Don't talk to me like we're friends, Oliver."
"I'm merely taking a passing interest in the welfare of one of my best, meanest customers," he returned, raising an eyebrow in challenge.
Jade groaned and buried her face in her arms. With her eyes closed, her lashes were incredibly long and dark against her creamy skin. "If I drink the coffee, will you stop talking?"
He studied her, slightly concerned. "Are you okay?"
She groaned. "Oliver, I am not in the mood right now."
"You can call me Beck," he ventured, feeling oddly brave, if only because Jade's glare was far less intimidating when she could barely prop her eyes open long enough to focus them.
"Fine. If you don't stop talking, I'm going to use one of those obnoxious red coffee stirrers to dismember you limb from limb, Beck," offered Jade.
Beck didn't even know why this made him grin as much as it did.
"Talky-pants," she mumbled.
"That's the best you can do?"
"I plead insomnia."
"No, but seriously. You okay?"
Jade didn't answer. Beck was pretty sure she'd fallen asleep. She kind of looked pretty adorable, with her hair all in her face, so he let her be all through out the early-morning rush, even warding off a group of those same irritating middle-school boys, who attempted to poke her with a coffee-stirrer.
Finally, as Flora - the 'vapid, squirrel-reminiscent' one - came in to relieve Beck so he could dash over in time for first period, he realized that Jade probably had to get to school as well.
He took a page out of the middle-schooler's book and prodded her with a coffee-stirrer until she back-handed him in the gut.
"Um. Ow. I have to get to school, so I'm assuming you do, too...?"
Jade groaned and got to her feet, scrubbing at her slightly-smudged eyeliner and generally looking more dead than alive. "I hate this day."
"I've noticed you hate a lot of things," Beck remarked conversationally, swinging his bag onto his back and politely holding the door for Jade. She was still conscious enough to glare spitefully at the bells, jingling innocently in the doorway, as she walked under them.
"I hate you."
"Shut up. I'm not actually awake right now."
After regarding her for a second, Beck decided that he might as well live dangerously - it was a Monday, so it wasn't like he had anything better to do.
"Okay," he said decisively, grabbing Jade's arm and steering her towards his car, "I'm making the executive decision, as coffee connoisseur and relatively conscious person, and declaring you unfit to be on the roads. Thus, I'll be driving you."
"What, no candy?" demanded Jade crankily.
"Better." Beck held aloft Jade's Styrofoam cup, still almost three-quarters full, which she had abandoned earlier in favor of sleep. "Coffee."
Jade grabbed the coffee gracelessly, climbed into the passenger seat. Propping her booted feet up on the dashboard, she took a long swig, surfacing only to say breathlessly, "I love you."
Beck was pretty sure she was addressing the coffee, not him. Still, something tugged in his chest as he backed out. There was a faint smudge of lip-gloss on the rim of the cup from where her lips had been.
"I bet you say that to all the coffee connoisseurs who chauffeur you around and have awesome hair."
Jade smiled. It made her look pretty, and he told her so before he knew what he was saying. She smiled a little bit more, a bit sleepily.
"And I bet you say that to all your best, meanest, half-asleep customers who you chauffeur around," she countered.
"Actually," Beck paused to consider, "I'm pretty sure I've only got one of those."
The smile grew.
The 'complaints' increased in frequency after that, until Jade had taken to elbowing her way through the line to simply hand Beck the note, rather than shove it in the box. Beck would drop her his reply as he passed with a table's order.
He learned that she went to his school's biggest rival - Hollywood Arts, had a younger brother whom she tolerated and a father whom she hated, disliked just about everything but coffee, loved scissors, was best friends with her perky polar opposite, and was constantly engaged in a bitter (mostly one-sided, Beck suspected) rivalry with Tori Vega - the younger sister of the flirty girl, Trina, and the newest barista at the cafe.
Honestly, Beck thought Tori was pretty nice, if not quite as amusing or captivating as Jade, and that it was kind of hilarious and a bit pathetic how desperately the girl sought to garner Jade's approval.
He got the impression that Tori wasn't used to being disliked, simply because she seemed like a generally nice and happy person who was easy to get along with, and Jade's blatant scorn and dismissal only served in furthering her resolve to win the Goth girl over.
Tori offered smiles and compliments, snarked back on occasion, and one day randomly informed Beck that she could handle Jade and Cat's orders, and why didn't he take a five minute break?
When he returned, having re-fluffed his hair and discovered a pack of gum under the front seat of his car, Jade immediately got to her feet and marched over to hand him a note, this time scribbled on the back of a lengthy Victoria's Secret receipt.
"And before you get any pervy ideas," she said sharply, yanking the paper out of his reach and glaring impressively, "this was Cats receipt, not mine. Comprende?"
He nodded, blew a bubble. She squinted at him.
"Can I have a piece of gum?"
"What's the magic word?" he sing-songed, deciding that the cafe was pretty much empty, so he might as well toy with her.
Jade bit her lip, considered this, and then returned brightly, "Give me a piece of gum."
A beat. He stared her down until, surprisingly, she sighed and rolled her eyes. "Please?"
Beck grinned and fished a stick of gum out of his pocket as he declared, "The magic word was actually lotion, but I'll give it to you 'cause you're cute."
A fragment of a smile cracked the porcelain severity of her face just a bit, but was quickly obscured by the massive pink bubble she had blown. Beck could've sworn he saw a lighter shade of pink spread across her cheekbones before they, too, were hidden.
"Thanks," she said around the gum, and walked away.
Feeling very light and tingly all of a sudden, like all his limbs had simultaneously fallen asleep, he scanned the note.
Tell your new girlfriend that two sugars does not equal SEVEN.
I have a girlfriend? Why wasn't I informed?
Your Friend, Beck
P.S. - If you meant Tori, I'll pass on the tip.
P.P.S. - Napkins are kind of inconvenient for conveying your many complaints. Maybe you should just give me your number?
Well, Tori's certainly vying for the position.
Your Friend, Jade
P.S. - See that you do. In as nasty a manner as possible.
P.P.S. - Nice try.
After that, Beck always made sure to handle Jade's coffee personally, partly because poor, hopelessly friendly Tori did not deserve such abuse, and partly because of the fluttery lurch that swelled abruptly in his chest each time he handed over her coffee and their fingers brushed.
Where are you? Tori made my coffee today and it tasted like crap.
Seriously. Two days in a row of absence? Not cool, bro. My taste buds are suffering.
Are you okay?
I would like to register a formal complaint revolving around the disappearance of the only vaguely decent coffee maker in this entire stupid hipster cafe. If he doesn't get his lazy butt back behind the counter, bad things will happen. Bad, bad things.
There was another line underneath this spitefully-worded paragraph, but it was studiously scribbled into illegibility. Beck thought he saw his name beneath the obscuring pencil marks, but he could be sure.
Either way, when he opened the COMPLAINT box upon his return, siphoning out the index cards with Jade's distinctive writing and ignoring all the rest, he grinned so hard it hurt a little and immediately scribbled back a response, which he handed to her once she had marched in and berated him appropriately for leaving her to Vega's mercy.
I had the flu, but I'm better now. Careful, or I'll start to think you actually care... :)
See that it doesn't happen again. And sanitize well - I can't afford to catch your gross Canadian germs this week.
Your smiley face makes you look like a pedophile.
Canadians are no more germy than Americans. And what's so important about this week?
Vega's utter humiliation, of course.
Why do I feel like this may involve criminal acts?
I wish... but it doesn't. Tomorrow's opening night of the play at my school. I'm starring, Vega's my understudy. For once.
Yours Truly, A Star
Wow, congrats. That's awesome - you deserve it!
As if you knew whether or not I deserved it.
But, y'know, thanks :)
Of course you deserve it. You're awesome. Obviously.
Beck was pretty sure, after sitting in the back of the theater and watching the white-faced girl from the coffee shop sing with a blazing passion that was as electric as her eyes, that he was in love.
The next day when Jade marched into the shop, head held a little higher, a bit more color in her cheeks than before, Beck handed her a bouquet of flowers instead of her coffee.
She looked at the flowers (he had no clue what they were called, but they were fragile and white and reminded him of her) and at Beck and then she raised an eyebrow and said, "One coffee. Black. Two sugars."
Beck grinned despite himself. "Anything else, ma'am?"
Jade considered, eyes flitting from his face to the flowers and back again, before issuing her next order with a child-like imperiousness.
"Tell me you love me."
He was the best actor at Northridge, but it still took every ounce of everything within him to stop another grin from blossoming. Instead he faked sternness and intoned, "Magic word?"
Jade smiled a little. "Lotion."
He handed her the bouquet of flowers, the coffee, and finally a carefully-worded blurb on a napkin.
So I think you should go out with me. Since I love you. Also, girlfriends of employees probably get some sort of discount. So, you know, weigh it over.
Jade's mouth quirked as her eyes moved silently over the words like she was determined not to smile, but it rapidly unfurled into a full-blown grin when she finally looked up.
"Okay," she said. And leaned over the counter and kissed him.
She tasted like coffee.
Inside, everything exploded into jubilation and fireworks and celebratory confetti and stuff. In a non-gross way, obviously. But Beck managed to keep it together long enough to say coolly, after they had finally pulled back, "That'll be a dollar and seventy-six cents, please."
Jade raised an eyebrow - as if to say "yeah, right" - and walked away wordlessly with her hidden smile and her armful of flowers and coffee, sea green streaked-hair bouncing behind her, and Beck just leaned against the counter and grinned and grinned and grinned.
Please review! Is anyone frighteningly out of character? Is the plot lame? Should I continue writing for the Victorious fandom? Let me know what you thought, especially if you're going to favorite (lol, wishful thinking, right?) or subscribe to moi!