A/N: This idea popped into my head when I was writing "Still Here" for my Oneshot Collection and it just didn't want to get out of my head. Also it reminded me of the movie "Just like Heaven". It has its similarities but it doesn't have the same plot. But man, I love that movie.
Disclaimer: I don't own a thing.
"Trina, can you please hurry?"
"God, why are you so annoying?"
Tori rolls her eyes and turns from the stairway to her aunt, the woman smiling in amusement at the yelled banter between her two nieces. "If you want to, you two can stay the night," she offers but Tori declines with a shake of her head. "No, we better get home. I still have to do a couple of things before I start at my new school next week." The brunette smiles at her aunt. "But thanks for the offer. And for the dinner."
Both of their heads snap to the stairway when Trina loudly stomps down into the hallway and joins her aunt and sister. "We can go now," she tells Tori with a fake smile, which just brings Tori to roll her eyes at her older sister. They give their aunt a hug and promise to visit her again soon, before they get into Trina's car, barely escaping the rain that starts to fall from the sky. They mostly ride in comfortable silence, other than when they argue over which radio station they should listen to.
"The rain is getting pretty heavy," Trina comments when they stop at a red stoplight. Tori nods, watching as the windshield wipers increase in pace, the squeaking of them mixed with the steady rhythm of the rain pelting down on the car slightly starting to annoy her. The green light of the stoplight lights up and Trina slowly pushes down the gas pedal. Not really being in the mood to talk to her sister, Tori rests her head against the headrest and turns to look out of the passenger side's window, starting to smile when she thinks about next week, small butterflies erupting in her stomach. Hollywood Arts is one of the best performing arts schools and Tori still can't really grasp the fact that she passed her audition. The excitement of being able to do what she loves on a daily basis almost crushes all the nervousness in her body, to the point where she doesn't even think she's nervous at all.
"Oh man," Trina mumbles, slightly leaning forward in her seat. Tori turns towards her sister with furrowed eyebrows. "What's wrong?"
"Nothing. Just can't see that good."
And really, when Tori turned her head to look to the front she barely could see anything through the heavy rain pounding against the window. A weird feeling, maybe even fear, starts to settle in her stomach and Tori sits up straight, her hands gripping her seat. "Maybe we should pull over and wait for the rain to calm down."
She doesn't really know why her voice comes out almost shaky but Trina seems to notice it, quickly glancing Tori's way and nodding her head. "Yeah… we probably should."
But just as she's about to turn the wheel to the right, Trina's eyes fall onto bright headlights on the other side of the road swaying back and forth, and before she can comprehend it, it happens.
Tori frowns, snapping out of her flashback. An entire year had passed since the accident but Tori's memories of it still are as fresh as they can be. She remembers every little moment, every feeling, every noise, every smell and she doesn't think she will ever forget anything of it. A little boy jumps up onto the bench she's sitting on, his mouth smeared with chocolate ice cream and Tori smiles at the happy expression that settles on his face when he resumes licking at the ice cream cone in his hand. A flash of black catches Tori's eyes and she looks up from the boy just in time to see the girl walk past her.
She'd been waiting for her.
A small smile instantly appears on Tori's lips as she gets up to follow the dark haired girl to the place she always goes when she's here. The large oak tree stands high in a slightly secluded area of the park and the girl stops, settling down in the shadows the tree gives. Tori smiles as she watches her, she herself taking a seat on the grass not too far away from the other girl, but not too close so that she would actually be able to catch her spying on her. She's dressed in all black once again, her notebook with her and pen poised above the paper, ready to write down every thought she has. But just like every other time before, the girl hesitates, her bottom lip tightly captured between her teeth and her forehead creasing. Tori's smile replaces itself with a frown as the girl sighs deeply and rests her head against the trunk of the tree, her eyes closing.
Tori had been watching her for quite a while, almost two weeks now. She had been shocked when she ran into her at Hollywood Arts, her eyes shooting daggers at her and her sharp tongue telling her to stop looking at her. The girl – her name is Jade West, Tori had long ago learned – had seen her, she had talked to her and being in Tori's situation, this was a huge surprise. Jade West could be the key to everything, she could be the solution. So Tori had made sure to follow her around and more than once did Jade see her, which only spurred her on more. She studied her life, she tried if Jade's friends would see her too, but just like everyone else, they didn't acknowledge her. But Jade did. And Tori still isn't sure why. Why her, why not somebody else. But she didn't care, as long as she had a chance to get her life back, it just didn't matter.
Jade comes to this park almost three times a week to write. What she's writing, Tori isn't really sure but lately the girl mostly left with a blank paper and an angry expression. Tori follows her home every time, being really careful not to be seen by Jade. She's mostly home alone, Tori notices, her dad, a tall man who seems to always wear a suit, mostly coming back pretty late. Strangely, Tori never saw Jade's mom and she couldn't figure out what's the deal with her either. But she doesn't really think it's that important.
Sometimes a red head would come over, whose name is Cat and actually is Jade's best friend, which Tori finds hard to believe. Tori spent a lot of time observing not only Jade, but also her friends and Cat and Jade were just so different from each other that Tori didn't think they would get along all that well. But seeing them interact with each other at school proved the brunette wrong.
Then there was Andre, a dark skinned boy with dreads, who came by her house twice since Tori started to watch Jade. Apparently they were pretty good friends, or even more than that. Both times he was at Jade's, he arrived in the early afternoon and only left shortly before midnight. Of course it wasn't Tori's place to make assumptions or anything, but she couldn't help but be a little curious, seeing as Jade used to date Andre's best friend, a handsome boy with awesome hair. His name is… Buck or… no! Beck! His name is Beck and Tori doesn't really know how long they dated, but they are mostly on good terms as it seems. And lastly there's a curly haired boy with glasses, Robbie who, weirdly enough, carries a puppet around with himself. It's a pretty versatile group of friends, at least in Tori's opinion.
And now, as she watches Jade sigh again, pack up her things and slowly get up, Tori knows it's time to make herself known to the girl. She just doesn't exactly know how yet…
Jade almost punches the door in frustration when her keys fall out of her hands. A scowl making its way onto her face, she bends down, quickly proceeding to put it into the keyhole. The door to her house clicks open and as usual, Jade is greeted by silence. After kicking the door shut behind her, Jade trudges up the stairs, stopping in front of the closed door to her father's office. A faint clacking can be heard and Jade can picture her dad sitting at his desk, his fingers tapping away on the keyboard of his laptop and his eyes fixed on the screen. For a short moment she contemplates saying hello to him, just telling him that she's home now and her hand starts to raise, hovering over the door handle.
He won't care, so why bother?
Her hand slowly falls to her side before she continues her way to her room. Closing the door behind her, kicking her boots off and letting herself fall back onto her bed, Jade sighs deeply and closes her eyes. This is just not her day. Not her day, not her week, probably not her month. She's been trying for almost 3 weeks now to write something new, a short story, a play, a poem, anything. But her brain seemed to shut down whenever she took a hold of a pen. Almost angry, Jade sits up and quickly snatches her notebook and a pen out of her bag. It just has to work sometime, right? She couldn't give up. But after almost ten minutes of blankly staring ahead, Jade still doesn't have any clue what she could write. The pen makes a steady drumming noise against the paper as Jade's hand quickly moves it back and forth. She sighs aggravated when nothing worth to write down comes to her mind and she proceeds to chuck her notebook and pen to the foot of the bed.
Maybe getting some food into her stomach would plant some ideas in her head.
"But Jade, what am I supposed to do now?"
A tired sigh escapes Jade's lips as she puts her empty plate in the dishwasher. "I don't know. And if I'm completely honest I seriously don't care."
Cat gasps loudly. "How can you say that? Mr. Longneck was always nice to you! He might die!"
"Okay, first of all: It's a stuffed animal! Okay? And secondly: It's just a rip in the fabric. Just give it to your mom so she can sew it back together."
"That's a good idea! I will do that!" She lets out a soft giggle and Jade rolls her eyes. "Thank you. I will call you when my mom's done with it! You know, let you know that he's okay."
"Yeah, don't bother," she mumbles and disconnects the call without saying goodbye. Sometimes she really wonders how in the world it's possible for her and Cat to be best friends. That girl is just so… weird sometimes, so childish and naïve. But oh well, without Cat, her life would definitely lack something. She shakes her head at her best friend and slowly walks back to her room. Her hand pushes down the door handle and her heart nearly stops when her eyes fall onto a girl sitting on the edge of her bed.
Tori quickly jumps to her feet and holds her hands up. "Don't freak out."
Jade's eyes widen, her heart hammering in her chest from the shock of seeing someone sitting in her room. "Don't freak out?! Who the hell are you? What are you doing in my house?"
The brunette opens her mouth but Jade doesn't give her any chance to answer, narrowing her eyes at the intruder. "Are you trying to steal something?"
It's Tori's turn to widen her eyes. "N-no! I'm not a thief!"
"Well, I'm going to call the police anyways," Jade tells her with a glare and turns around to retrieve her phone from the bed. She quickly punches in the three digits that would connect her with the police and hears the brunette behind her sigh tiredly.
"They'll just think you're crazy when they get here, Jade."
"You broke into a house! Why would they think-" Her finger freezes over the green button when she realizes that the stranger had called her by her name. Her eyes narrowed again, Jade turns back around to face the other girl. "How do you know my name?"
"Are you a freaking stalker?"
"No, of course not!"
"Wait…" Jade takes a step closer, her eyes scrutinizing Tori's features. "I know you. You've been staring at me at school, following me around and chiz! You are a stalker!"
"If you'd just let me explain, I-"
Tori is interrupted again, this time by a knock and a deep voice filtering through Jade's door. Both pairs of eyes snap over to look at the dark wood separating the room from the hallway before the girls turn back to face each other. Tori raises her eyebrows and crosses her arms, clearly unimpressed, when Jade smirks and shouts for her dad to come in. The door opens and Jade's dad sticks his head in. "I just wanted to tell you that they need me at the office. I left some money on the kitchen counter for dinner."
"Well, before you leave," Jade says before he can disappear again, shooting a glare at the other girl, "Could you tell me what that is doing here?" Jade's arm motions to Tori, ignoring the way she narrows her brown eyes. "Did you let her in?"
Michael's eyebrows knit together in confusion and he slowly steps into the room to see what his daughter is talking about. His eyes move to the spot Jade pointed to, settling on a picture of his daughter and her best friend, and his confusion only increases. "What? The… the picture?"
Jade looks at her father as if he lost his mind as he points his finger to the framed picture on her dresser with an uncertain expression on his face. "No…" Her eyes briefly move to Tori, who calmly watches the scene between father and daughter, then move back to her dad, her eyebrows raised to show him what she was talking about. Michael narrows his eyes and slowly starts to approach Jade, not even acknowledging the strange girl in the slightest. It's like he doesn't even see her and when he walks right through the brunette, Jade's eyes nearly pop out of their holes.
"Whoa," she whispers and takes a step backwards. Jade faintly hears her father's voice asking her if she was okay, but her eyes are steadily trained on the uncomfortably smiling brunette.
"Surprise," she weakly says, her eyebrows raised and the uncomfortable smile still on her face. Jade's eyes quickly snap back to her father. "Did you hear that?"
He looks at her weirdly. "Hear what?"
"Jade, he can't hear me. He doesn't know I'm here."
Jade's eyebrows move down as she looks at the girl. She inhales deeply before pushing the air back out through her mouth in a long breath. "Should I rather… stay home?"
With her lips tightly pressed together, she looks back at her dad, whose eyes flick all over her face in genuine worry. "No… no, I'm fine, just… didn't get much sleep." She nods her head, not only trying to convince her dad but also a little bit herself. "Go to work."
"Okay… if you say so." He stays still for a couple of seconds but then hesitantly walks out of Jade's room, still slightly alarmed at her strange behavior.
As soon as the door closes Tori opens her mouth but Jade quickly holds her hands up, signaling her not to talk. Jade's eyes are fixed on Tori and only when she hears the front door shut and her dad's car left the driveway, does she drop her hands, her eyes closing and a deep sigh leaving her mouth. She massages her forehead and hopes that the girl will be gone when she opens her eyes. But when her eyes flutter back open, she's still there, hesitantly smiling at Jade. Maybe I should just go to sleep. This is probably just some kind of hallucination or something. She's not here. It's not real. But the girl in front of her really looked real, she sounded real and if her father wouldn't have actually walked right through her, Jade would have believed that she most definitely is real.
"Would you let me explain myself now?"
Her voice rings through her ears and Jade realizes that she's been dumbly staring at the brunette for more than just a few seconds. She briefly closes her eyes and shakes her head to try to bring at least some sense into this situation. When she reopens her eyes, she lets them travel all over the girl's body, slowly taking a step closer. "Who are you?"
"I'm Tori Vega."
Jade nods, her eyes restlessly flicking across Tori's face. "Tori Vega. Tori Vega, the ghost?"
"I- I'm not a ghost," she stutters, her fingers slowly starting to play with each other.
Jade frowns and locks her eyes with Tori's. "My dad walked through you. I thought that was a clear sign that you weren't human." Tori bites her lip and looks down. "I just didn't think I'm a ghost whisperer now," Jade mumbles and walks over to her bed, sitting down in the same spot Tori sat a little while ago.
"I'm not a ghost," Tori repeats when she looks back up. Jade's eyebrow raises and Tori shakes her head, looking away from the black haired girl. "At least I don't think I am. I know I'm still alive."
She's silent, her eyes looking out of Jade's window. This is just the weirdest thing, Jade thinks. She's talking to a ghost, or… not a ghost. She probably is slowly going crazy. Hello, mental institution. She probably should just stop now, do something to clear her head but this is just too crazy. Jade sighs and gets up again, crossing her arms and walking over to Tori. "Okay, well… Let's leave that for later and start with something else. How do you know my name? And what were you doing sitting in my room like a total creep?"
Tori smiles and turns around to face Jade. "You're the only one who can see me, Jade." The girl clad in black raises her eyebrow again and Tori continues. "I've been… like this for over a year now," she pauses and swallows hardly, looking at her feet. "Long story short: I was in a car accident. My sister was driving us back from our aunt and… it was dark and it rained so hard. The windshield wipers could barely keep up and Trina had a hard time seeing the road. There was a car on the other side of the road. It was… swerving and… it spun out of control and it crashed into us."
"I remember that," Jade whispers causing Tori to look back up, "It was all over the news."
Tori nods, a forced smile on her lips. "It was. I don't remember anything anymore. Just that… I opened my eyes and… I got up and then… I was standing in a hospital room. I looked at the bed and… saw myself lying in it."
Jade blinks, trying to comprehend everything Tori had said. She had been doing homework, the TV playing in the background and the news came on, reporting a horrendous crash. The two cars had been completely crumpled, one driver dead on impact. "You… saw yourself? What… what happened to you?"
"I looked fine on the outside. I had a couple of scratches, a deep cut on my forehead. But I had four fractured ribs. My lung almost collapsed and my leg was completely shattered. Apparently, I fell into a coma." Jade listens intently, crossing her arms and leaning on her desk. "I was so confused. I mean, I saw myself lying there and… my parents and Trina were there. She was pretty lucky, no serious injuries. They were crying and I… I tried to make them see me but… they just didn't. No one could see me. Until I met you."
"I was in your school. Hollywood Arts. Hadn't I gotten in the accident I would have attended my first year there. I wanted to look around, see where I would have gone to school and then you were there. You walked through the hallway, looking down at your phone. When you took a sip from your coffee, you glanced up at me and… and you saw me. You told me-"
"-to stop gawking at people."
Tori smiles and nods her head. "Yeah. I was so shocked. I followed you around, tried to find a reason why you are able to see me. None of your friends could see me. No one but you. I just… I needed to talk to you. That's why I came here."
Silence falls over the room as soon as Tori finishes her story. Jade nods slowly, shrugging her shoulders. "So you kind of are a stalker."
Tori laughs softly. "I guess I am."
"So what do you want from me?"
The brunette takes a deep breath, her eyes looking at the floor for a moment before she meets Jade's eyes again. "I need your help."