Disclaimer: Victorious and all characters/settings in the Victorious universe belong to Dan Schneider.
Warning: Rated M for mature audiences. Adults themes and slight language.
It's been exactly thirty-seven days since you've last kissed Jade. Not that you're counting obviously. It's not like the two of you were really together, so it can't possibly be a break up, and yet it feels like you've lost something. You wish the world would just stop and pause, so that you can have the time to figure yourself and your situation out. When you're with Jade you feel like she's taking something from you, yet when you're not with Jade it feels like you're missing a vital piece of yourself.
The two of you avoid each other at school because interaction might lead to something heated and then something more as it used to. Jade stops hanging with your group of friends and she tends to keep to herself nowadays. You try not to look at her for too long as it raises something wistful inside you. There's times you look at her in Sikowitz's class and she's fixated on the lesson in front of her, lips pursed and arms crossed. The urge to reach over and kiss the anger away rises up each and every time until you're forced to ground yourself with reality. It's Jade, and she's not willing to back down even one step.
You know it can never work; you want her to look at you like you're worth something in her eyes, not just a sextoy, and Jade is too guarded to let you in and prove that you're trustworthy. And most of all you want her tenderness when all she has left to give is an inferno of rage.
It's a Friday, and there's a party at this new club in town. Cat and Andre are able to get tickets for everyone, but Robbie is busy and there's one extra ticket. You know who they're going to offer the ticket to, and despite yourself some ugly feeling coils at the bottom of your stomach. So you debate saying you're not feeling well tonight, but how can you let Jade control your life without her even trying? And maybe, just maybe, there's a small sliver of want inside you that just needs to see Jade. And, fuck it, you end up going.
You leave with Andre and Beck. The ride to the club is light as the two of them laugh about small talk and it brings your spirits up. You nearly forget that there's something to be upset over. Nearly. Cat and Jade meet the three of you at the entrance of the club with a happy bounce and a glare respectively. Jade is dressed in a tight black tanktop and equally tight black leather pants that show off her figure nicely. But the girl in question is avoiding your scanning eyes and, uncomfortable, she grabs Cat's wrist and pulls her into the club, barely even glancing at the bouncer who takes her ticket off her. Andre gives a nervous smile and then you enter with him and Beck into the club.
It's dimly lit with only the stage's lights illuminating the rest of the club. There's a sea of people dancing below the stage as red and green bounces off them. And on the stage is a band you've seen around here before, some up and coming group that has real potential. The singer is bellowing angsty and heartbroken lyrics with such power that you can feel it deep inside. The bass and drums reverberate through the speakers in a way that vibrates against your skin in a pleasant way.
Beck spots Cat and Jade leaning against the bar, which doesn't actually sell alcohol - kind of defeating the purpose, yelling in each others ears. You make your way over, but the moment you're even close to her, Jade pushes herself off the counter and towards the stage. You can't help but to think how immature she's being, but then she surprises you as she climbs up on the stage as the song is ending.
The singer looks her up and down in a predatory way that makes your fists clench hard, your nails digging into your palm. Jade smiles, deadly and calculating, and she leans over and whispers in his ear as his eyes travel to her exposed cleavage. Anger and jealousy surge through you alarmingly, and you imagine this is how she felt when you were going on that date with Karl. Thankfully, the singer's attention directs somewhere else as he grins and nods, moving to the microphone.
"Give it up for Jade West, everybody!"
No one at this club really knows who she is besides you and your friends, but there must be something dark and compelling about her because the crowd cheers loudly.
"This song is for those out there who don't give a flying fuck", she whispers into the mic, her voice hoarse. The people below scream even louder as she gives a small smile that you've only seen her wear for performances. It's an upbeat song that you recognize as Avril Lavigne and she's killing it, and the crowd knows it.
Cat yells something at you that you don't quite catch, but she's leading the two of you onto the dance floor so you follow her. You throw everything into dancing so that you don't have to look at Jade. The whole time you're cursing yourself for not being able to forget about her and just move on. You're free. You can do whatever the fuck you want. Maybe, you think, you've physically left the cage, but your soul is still stuck in there.
"All my life I've been good but now...I'm thinking what the hell!" Jade bites out with so much gusto and passion that your heart rattles inside your chest. Then she pulls the singer from before towards her by his tie with a seductive look.
"You say that I'm messing with your head", she smirks at his awed expression as she tugs him closer to her. Your throat closes up and you faintly feel Cat still tugging on your arm, "Boy, I like messing in your bed."
The microphone is the only thing between her lips and his now, before she violently shoves him away and turns to the crowd.
"Yeah, I am messing with your head, when I'm messing with you in bed", Jade's eyes search the crowd until they find yours. You swear she's singing the next line just for you, as if that is the one line in the whole song she's dedicating to you.
"All I want is to mess around", she's still staring at you intently, "And I don't really care about if you love me, if you hate me, you can't save me baby, baby."
You can't breathe suddenly and you run towards the bathrooms, vaguely noticing that you're leaving Cat by herself. Luckily there's a lot of other girls in the restroom with you, so when you burst in and gasp for breath, it's only a few glances thrown at you. You splash water in your face hoping that it'll clear you mentally and emotionally.
Your hands are gripping the edges of the sink on both sides and you let your eyes slide close. Slowly, the girls empty out of the bathroom until it's just you and a few other stragglers. The booming from the stage echoes out and you hear yelling into a microphone followed by cheering, and you can only assume that Jade's done with her song. But you're not ready to head out and face Cat's questioning look or Beck's worried frown.
The door of the bathroom swings open, and you don't know exactly what's happened because suddenly the other girls in the bathroom with you are scurrying out. Maybe a hot new singer is up on stage or something. You sigh and you're so lost in thought that when two hands grip yours on either side of you and a body is pushed lightly against your back, your eyes fly open in alarm. In the mirror, your eyes meet calm green ones and a pale face looking over your shoulder. And the two of you are content to just look at each other for awhile.
"You look nice", you manage finally.
Jade snorts, "Thought you didn't like black."
"So you wore it because you thought I didn't like it?"
Her eyes flash a warning, "Not everything is about you, Tori."
"And that song?"
"What about that song?" She pushes against you more fully now.
"Do you like messing in my bed?"
Jade laughs a quick and short exhale of breath, "I obviously hated it."
Her voice is dripping with sarcasm. The two of you are bantering and you're not sure what to make of it. Do you remind Jade that she's set you free? Or will that cause her to withdraw? You're not quite yet ready to let go of the heat enveloping the two of you just yet.
"What are we doing, Jade?"
Immediately her eyes darken and she flips you around so your back is against the sink and you're facing her now. Then her mouth is pressed insistently against yours and her hips are digging into yours. She cups your face with her hands and it feels like you're trapped again.
"I just", she breathes over your lips, "Couldn't forget this."
"Neither could I", you admit as you close the small gap between her and you.
Jade pulls away abruptly and shakily exhales, "I can't be with you."
"What do you want from me then?"
"Tell me how I can stop thinking about you", she's pleading and vulnerable, "Tell me how I can stop wanting this. Needing this even."
"You make me feel so helpless and angry sometimes."
How are you supposed to respond to that? Apologize?
"I want you, Tori, tell me how I can make you mine", she kisses you hard and with that she turns on her heel and is out the door.
For a few moments you stare at the empty outline she's left and you're filled with a void you're not quite sure how to fill. You vaguely recall walking out of the bathroom and back into the fray of sweaty dancing bodies until you find Cat. And the rest after that is sort of a blur, you plead with her to take you home and she does, but with many worried glances at you throughout the ride. Your mom says something to you that you don't quite catch, but you nod and walk to your room as she smiles at you. Tiredly, you collapse on your bed and that night you dream only of dark green eyes and a deadly smile.
When you awake the next day, you know how you will face Jade. With a song, as she did. You wait a week - she's jittery the entire time - until it's time for performance class final acts where everyone in the class has to perform an act of some sort. Robbie duets with Cat on a sweet song that makes you smile unconsciously. Beck and another boy from your class do a little improv skit that is hilarious and touching at the same time. Then you motion for Andre to join you on stage and he sits down with his keyboard.
"This is a song written by Andre Harris and Jade West", you whisper into the microphone, your hands are clammy and you've never been so nervous.
Jade is sitting at the back of the room and she's looking at you with confusion. You focus on her, not caring who knows that this song is for her. It's not like the two of you have exactly been discreet with your sexual activities, and you're sure others have at least a small inkling that you've had sex with her.
"I like your smile", you begin tentatively trying not to let your gaze or voice waver, "But even introductions need to last awhile."
You're sure she knows the lyrics to this song that she helped write. Her eyes flicker with something, some emotion you haven't seen her look at you with before.
"Sometimes I don't know if I'm right or wrong and in the end it seems like everything is worse when you're gone", you try and hold back your emotions from completely spilling over. Your voice sounds strained like you're one note from losing control.
You close your eyes and try to focus on the song, "There is no upper hand I'm giving you mine, it doesn't have to end up wasting your time. There's things that I could say, but hear it my way, I want to let you know that it's all okay."
"So there you are, mistakenly mistaken for a deeper scar", your hand clutches your chest as if you can feel in your heart where her scar is, "A hole in your heart and the same for me."
"Is everything you touch keeping you down? Or setting you free?" Your voice sounds wistful on the word free and you wonder what it's supposed to mean.
And finally you hit the last note. When you open your eyes, there's a small smile playing on Jade's face that makes your heart tighten. The applause dies down eventually and as you come down from the stage, Jade stands up and walks to you.
"Well played", she has on an unreadable mask.
"I believe you mean well sung", Robbie chimes in from nearby.
"I'm not talking to you, idiot", Jade's irritation is back as quick as lightning, "And I meant what I said."
You're not sure if you're annoyed at Robbie's interruption or if you're angered that Jade still treats the dynamic between the two of you as a game to be won. Jade must sense that small change in your expression and mood, because she gives you a distant calculating glance before walking away. The way her hips sway and her eyes hold you captive are indicative that she wants you to follow.
And you're following her despite your misgivings about this situation. When the two of you get to a deserted hallway she spins around and pins you against lockers, her teeth scraping against your neck eagerly. Even as your body responds to hers positively your vision goes red as you begin to feel trapped against her and the hard metal.
"I can't", you whisper feebly into her ear. There's a lot of negative things that can be said about Jade, she's selfish, cruel and so on, but the fact that it only takes two words for her to stop her actions lets you in on the fact that she's a better person than most will give her credit for.
"Why not?" Her voice is sharp and cutting, but when you look into her eyes there's a surprising amount of concern in them.
"Because I don't wanna play your game", you look away, unable to let yourself believe that maybe Jade feels something for you, "I don't want to be a pawn that you use and will eventually discard. If you want me, then you're going to have to stop using me."
"Say I let you be something more", her voice is quiet and your heart cracks because she's giving you a hope that hurts, "How do I know you won't discard me?"
"If I trust you not to discard me, why should you not trust me back?" You challenge, it seems like a simple exchange. Trust is a two-way street.
"Things change, Tori, look at Beck and me", she shoots back quickly and you realize things are never simple with her.
"Don't you think I'm scared too? That maybe I think you're using me because you don't want to be alone? And if Beck turns around and says he wants you back, what then?"
"So you don't really trust me", she says.
"I want to, but if you won't put your trust in me, what is the point?"
"I can't-", she stops her voice cracking, "What you're asking, I can't even begin to understand how to do that."
"Then weigh the risk and gain", you switch your positions so you're the one pinning her to the lockers, "It's what you do best, isn't it? Put a value and worth on everything."
As you angrily depart you revel in the fact that it feels so good to be the one in charge. And for a moment you forget that really you're not in charge at all.
Apparently it takes Jade a long time to decide whether you're worth the risk, because she avoids you like the plague for the rest of the week with a conflicted angry look adorning her face each time you see her. You're not sure if it's a good or bad sign. Maybe Jade's indecision means she's seriously considering taking the leap, or maybe her indecision just means you're not good enough for her to reconsider her previous stance.
And you're content to let her decide on her own time, but again the game changes without you even meaning for it to.
Sikowitz for some reason decides that it's improv skit time, possibly because he was so delighted by Beck's performance the previous week, and assigns first Robbie and Beck to the stage.
"Okay, all I'm giving you is this broom prop! Go!" The psychotic and energetic teacher yelled at his two chosen students. Robbie and Beck immediately become two characters, Beck assuming the role of a fancy rich old man and Robbie, a young man with newly acquired status and wealth. Robbie invents a ridiculous tale of how the broom has helped him become wildly successful and Beck is the rapt listener who congratulates him.
"Tori!" Sikowitz is pointing at you and then he pivots wildly, "Jade!"
Jade's scandalized look and Sikowitz's pleased expression leads you to believe he's chosen the two of you on purpose for some reason.
"Take front and center! All I'm giving you is this bird", and suddenly he shoves a cage into your arms. Upon closer inspection you believe that the bird inside is a real life bluejay. The obvious question to ask is why he has a live bird in his classroom, but it's Sikowitz and that's really all the answer you'll ever get. You set the cage down on the table between you and Jade.
She has a defensive pose, her arms are crossed and she's facing a bit away from you, so it's obvious that she's uncomfortable. Given that the two of you have talked about you being a bird in a cage quite often, you think her discomfort is justified.
"What a beautiful bird you have", you say to Jade in a dramatic Southern accent, trying to get things rolling so that the class doesn't have to watch the two of you stare at everywhere but each other.
"Indeed", her tone is angry, as always. As the rest of the class shifts nervously at the quiet, Jade gives into the exercise, "But it's such a shame."
"And why do you say that, m'am?" You don't even need to try to sound genuinely curious.
"Because it's a crime to cage a bird, isn't it?" And you know she's not just talking about this actual bird.
"Why is that, is she not a pretty pet?"
"Well a bird's only purpose in life is to fly isn't it? To clip her wings would be to take her purpose in life away."
"If you think so, why don't you let her free?" You're aware you've both had this conversation before, probably more than once. And yet, the two of you are still stuck.
"I have no other company, this bird is my only friend." It figures that only under the guise of a fictional character can she admit something like that.
"If she is truly your friend she'll fly back to you even if you let her free", you try not to look too concentrated on Jade, because then the spell of the skit would be broken. Hopefully she understands what you are offering.
"But how will I know that she'll continue returning? Maybe she'll go out and find a better owner", Jade fidgets and focuses her gaze on the bird instead and looks on wistfully. The vulnerability in her expression and words is so unlike her that you almost wonder if she's truly just acting.
"Why wouldn't she keep returning?"
"Because I can only give all of myself, the good and the bad, and I'm sure there are others out there willing to give only the good", she says while her finger strokes the surprisingly obedient bird.
"Well, I cannot help but to think that this bird here is attached to you too. In fact, she probably wants a owner who gives her everything, not a half-hearted attempt at love. After spending so much time with you, I bet she cannot help but to be devoted to you entirely" you say, and suddenly you are sure that all the stabs and coilings of feeling deep inside have led up to this realization. That maybe, you can't be without her.
Jade's eyes are filled with so much emotion that you're not sure if even she can identify all the feelings she has. And you finally finally understand, that all along this was the assurance she needed, a genuine cry of loneliness and want of only her.
"And what about you?" All pretense of the skit and the imaginary scene is dropped as she steps closer to you her hand cupping one side of your face.
"I don't want to be without you, either", you whisper and she leans closer instantly so that your bodies are flush against each other and her lips are against yours. And it's perfect and simple.
"Ehem", Sikowitz clears his throat awkwardly, "Interesting twist ladies!"
When she pulls back there's a strange look in her eyes, and you realize it's a grudging respect that you've convinced her to change her mind. Your face grows hot under the realization that you were making out with Jade West in front of the entire class, but Jade looks more annoyed at the interruption than embarrassed at the spectators.
"You're interrupting", she hisses and then she's dragging you out of the classroom presumably to her car or the janitor's closet. Outside the classroom, her lips roughly nip yours, but quickly her tongue soothes the pain away. You understand that Jade will hurt you over and over, but you figure she'll always remember to take away the misery and it'll be worth it.
"Maybe love is always about taking a risk", you unconsciously say against her lips.
"I trust you, Vega", she whispers as she strokes your face gently, "You better not fuck this up."
This time as your heart rattles within its cage, it's not because it wants to get out, but because it has realized it's been freed in the best way.
A/N: Thanks for reading, much appreciated. A special thank you to those who reviewed/favorited/followed, it was wonderful encouragement.
As always, feel free to leave a review. Enjoy.
Disclaimer: What the Hell belongs to Avril Lavigne and the lyrics of Okay belong to Backhouse Mike (I merely went with the Victorious Universe where Andre and Jade wrote it).