Rating: T because of Jade's potty mouth.
Disclaimer: Victorious and all related characters do not belong to me.
Summary: Beck thought she was the quintessential Hollywood socialite who had too much: money, booze, drugs, free time. Jade thought he was the typical struggling actor: perpetually broke, undependable, always looking for then next big break that never comes. Boy, were they wrong about each other.
Continuity: Alternate Universe.
Author's Notes: This is Lari's birthday fic but she might as well claim co-authorship because she gives great ideas when I get stuck, magnanimously extends my deadlines and assures me that I'm not a loser whenever I get frustrated.
Proud and Prejudiced
"I oughta take this and kill you both with it."
"How can you kill us with toilet paper?"
"Put it down. Put it...down."
"How can she kill you with toilet paper?"
"Oh, you naive, clueless boy. On top of my head, I could think of ten different ways to kill with toilet paper."
Beck Oliver smirked.
The last line was spoken by Jade West, who was too engrossed with the show she was watching on television to notice his arrival. There was a forgotten tub of popcorn on her lap with her hand stuck inside.
And the best part was, Jade West was watching Hollywood Arts Confidential, Beck's television breakthrough role.
"What are you wazzed about?" Beck's character, Iñigo Baxter, demanded from inside the boob tube.
"Wazzed?" Jade muttered to herself. "What on earth does that mean?"
"I think it's a kind of German sausage." Beck replied. "Or is that chiz? I get them confused."
Jade's reaction to Beck's statement was amazing.
With a blood-curling scream, she jackknifed from the sofa into the middle of the room, the tub of popcorn on her lap flying up with an impressively high trajectory.
With trepidation, Beck's eyes followed the tub of popcorn which seemed to move in slow motion: from Jade's lap, to the air, and straight onto his head.
Then everything went dark.
Or maybe it was because of the bucket of popcorn landed upside down on his head that obscured his vision.
"I should have coughed first or something to announce my arrival, huh?" Beck asked as he removed his makeshift hat. Popcorn came pouring out, from his hair onto the floor. He checked the state of his hair with a wince. "Butter. Of course."
"What do you think you're doing?" Jade screeched as she clutched at the remote, or maybe it was her heaving chest.
Jade, after getting over her surprise, glared at Beck.
"I caught Sinjin on his way out," the boy explained. "He told me to come right in."
"Of course he would," Jade muttered more to herself. "That's because he's an idiot. In fact, you're both idiots."
"Never do that again!" She dropped back on the couch, which Beck took as an invitation to join her.
"I see you're watching Hollywood Arts Confidential." Beck finally observed after a moment of charged silence as he placed the now empty tub of popcorn on the coffee table.
"No." She vehemently denied even as the television screen belied her.
"No, wait, I wanna watch!" Beck wrestled the remote away from Jade when she tried to change the channel.
A short and one-sided struggle for the remote later, Jade crossed her arms, admitting defeat. "Fine," she capitulated. "But I wasn't really watching your show. I was channel surfing when I saw your face so I decided to see what the fuss is all about."
"So you like it?"
"The dialogue is corny, the laugh track is too loud," she paused when she saw Beck's face fall. "But your acting doesn't suck."
"And I like the Liz chick. She knows what's up."
"Of course you'd like her. I have a feeling you would hit it off with the actor playing her."
"Why are you here, anyway?"
"Oh, yeah," Beck grinned. "I'm here to take you out for lunch."
"I'm not going out with someone with butter hair." Jade grimaced as she lifted up a lock of Beck's butter-coated hair. "Gross."
"I'll show you butter hair!" Beck playfully pounced on Jade, grabbing her wrists and holding her down while he wiped his hair free of butter on her shirt.
"No!" She screeched, trying in vain to hold back laughter. "Stop it! Stop! Beck! You're such a child."
"Then I'll have to give you noogies!"
"No! No! Not the hair!"
"Then say it!"
"Fine! I give up! Uncle! Uncle!"
"That'll teach you to diss the hair." Beck told her. He stopped torturing Jade, but he still hadn't release her from his hold.
Jade laughed, a rare and beautiful sound, in Beck's opinion.
Then, Beck, for the first time, realized how close he was to Jade. Man, her eyes were so blue. And her body was soft and warm underneath his hard and angular frame. She was—
As if electrocuted, Beck and Jade sprang up and apart.
"Just wanted to let you know that I'm back." A poker-faced Sinjin announced as he took in the duo's compromising position on the couch and the popcorn-blanketed floor. "So, I'm back. Carry on." He said before moving towards the kitchen.
Like chastised children, Beck and Jade met each other's eyes guiltily.
"Wanna wash off the butter from your hair before we head out?" Jade finally asked.
"Yes! Please. Thank you."
Indeed, Beck needed a shower. Not just for his butter-filled hair though.
It was with great trepidation that Jade West opened Beck's car door and arranged herself fastidiously inside. She resisted the urge to duck down to make sure enterprising paparazzi wouldn't be able to take a photograph of her.
"Are you sure we couldn't take my car?" Jade asked when Beck slid inside the driver's seat.
Beck's eyes actually twinkled in excitement. That car-loving geek. "You've got a car? What kind is it?"
"I dunno." Jade shrugged. "It has four wheels, it's shiny and new, and it takes me where I want to go. That's all I need to know." Technically, it wasn't her car but a hotel-owned one provided for her by her adoptive dad to use when she was in Hollywood.
"If that's the case," Beck replied. "It'll be better if we get to where we're going with Lucy. She's got more personality."
Jade frowned suspiciously. "Who's Lucy?"
He patted the dashboard affectionately. "You're looking right at her."
"You named your car?" Jade asked incredulously. "That is so weird."
"Doesn't everybody?" Beck asked as he started the engine. "And listen to her purr."
Jade listened but, "I don't hear nothing but the sound of engine running."
"Exactly." Beck said proudly. "She's older than I am yet she still runs like a dream."
"Yeah," Jade rolled her eyes. "I'll take your word for it. Where are we going, anyway?" She asked before Beck could wax poetic about his rust bucket.
"It's a surprise." Beck winked at her as he pulled out of the hotel's parking garage. That loser actually winked at her!
"But I know a lot of local clubs I can get us into, no problem." She tried to wheedle. "Even those members-only clubs that you have to make a reservation to months in advance. Just tell me where you wanna go and I can get you in with just a phone call."
"I don't think so." He replied. "I think it'll do you good to see how the other half lives."
"Yeah. That half who are not rich and famous and can't go into exclusive clubs."
Jade rolled her eyes.
"Plus, you wouldn't get an authentic Hollywood experience if you limit yourself to exclusive clubs." Beck gave her a blinding grin. "Trust me."
Jade hesitated only for a microsecond, but in the end, she realized that she did trust Beck. "Don't make me regret this."
"You won't." He assured her confidently.
Beck couldn't take his eyes off of Jade the moment they walked into Nozu.
Jade's head swiveled as she took in the decor and the people inside.
Beck timed their arrival at Nozu such that the lunch crowd was starting to thin. However, the place was still filled with people lingering over their meal.
"What do you think, so far?"
"It's kinda," Jade paused to grasp a fitting adjective to describe the place. "Bright. And loud."
"That's one way of describing the place." Beck grinned before, as casually as he can, he reached out to grasp Jade's hand to lead her to a booth.
He held his breath while waiting for Jade's reaction, but she merely smiled at him, allowing the hand-holding.
"Beck Oliver!" A high-pitched and nasal voice pierced through the usual noise of the sushi bar. "You finally deigned to return!"
"Brace yourself," was the only warning Beck could give Jade before a petite middle-aged Asian woman descended upon them.
"What took you so long?" She demanded as she lightly slapped either of Beck's cheeks. "You too famous for Nozu? And who's this?"
"Oh, Mrs. Lee, this is Jade. Jade, Mrs. Lee."
"Is she an actor like you?" Mrs. Lee demanded.
"You can say that."
She turned to Jade, who's eyes were growing larger and larger with shock. "You're too thin." Mrs. Lee proclaimed. "Our sushi should provide some meat in your bones."
"That's why we're here, Mrs. Lee." Beck said charmingly.
"Good, good. Here, have the best seat in the house." She motioned towards a booth in the center.
"Uh, Mrs. Lee?" a blond college-aged guy, who was still sitting at the table Mrs. Lee offered to Beck and Jade, interrupted. "We're still using the booth."
"Your plates are already empty." Mrs. Lee observed. "Are you ordering something else?"
"No. We're good." The guy's brawny friend replied, patting his stomach.
"Then you're done." Mrs. Lee proclaimed as she hailed a passing waiter. "Clear their table."
"But Mrs. Lee!" The two guys tried to protest as a waiter grabbed their empty plates.
The two boys hurriedly scrambled out of the booth.
"There you go," Mrs. Lee told Beck and Jade pleasantly.
"Thanks, Mrs. Lee." Beck said as he helped Jade into her seat before sliding into his own.
"Don't forget to mention Nozu in your interviews when you get more famous, okay?" Mrs. Lee told him.
"I'll send a waiter over for your orders." Before walking away, Mrs. Lee turned to Jade. "Isn't he handsome? Like a pretty pony."
"That was," Jade paused. "Different."
"Isn't she?" Beck grinned.
"She looks Chinese."
"She is." He confirmed, mirth dancing in her eyes.
"But this is a sushi bar."
"And she just shooed away those college kids like they were beggars rather than paying customers."
"And she called you a pretty pony."
"Huh." Jade leaned back on her seat contemplatively. "I like her." She finally decided.
Aside from an awkward moment when both she and Beck reached for the bill at the same time, Jade thought their lunch date had gone well.
But Beck wasn't finish with the slumming of Jade West. Their dinner was followed by an impromptu tour of the neighborhood Beck grew up in.
Holding hands, walking around and talking non-stop, Beck and Jade looked like garden-variety tourists out to check out the sites in Hollywood.
They were both incognito: Beck, who was best known for his clean-shaven, boy-next-door look, had embraced his inner hipster and went for a hollywoodian beard. Jade, on the other hand, had stuffed her hair inside a baseball cap she found inside Lucy's glove compartment and hid her trademark eyes behind big, dark glasses.
"Down that street is this fantastic food truck that serves killer tacos. Man, I miss those!" Beck told Jade excitedly. "Unfortunately, it's parked right across a school zone."
"So?" Beck asked, as if Jade was slow. "It's a school zone. Ever since I started Hollywood Arts Confidential, I can't cross school zones without causing a minor riot."
Jade rolled her eyes. "Popular people problems."
"You should talk," Beck playfully elbowed her. "But, good news! The kids should be tucked safely inside their classrooms so us grown ups can come out and play." He wiggled his eyebrows. "You game for some tacos?"
"Tacos? We just ate!"
"Correction: I just ate; but I always have room for The Grub Truck's tacos." He replied haughtily. "You, on the other hand, micromanaged your salad until they only served you torn out pieces of leaves, none of which reached your lips after torturing them with your fork."
"The Grub Truck?" Jade wrinkled her nose. "I don't think I wanna eat something from some food company called The Grub Truck."
"Come on!" Beck started dragging her. "The point of this exercise—"
"There is a point in this exercise?" Jade snorted but let herself be tugged along.
"The point," Beck gave her a mock glare. "Is for you to try living the life of the other side."
"The other side," Jade rolled her eyes. "You make it sound as if I'm from the afterlife."
"There it is!" Beck, his face alight with the joy of a little boy on Christmas eve when he saw the bright sign proudly bearing the food cart's name. He began tugging Jade more insistently. "Come on, come on, come on!"
"If you start hopping up and down, I'm outta here," Jade told him, only half-serious, as they came to a stop before a step van remodified to be a food cart.
"Why if it isn't Beck Oliver!" A middle-aged man with dark, greasy hair pulled back in a pony tail greeted them from inside The Grub Truck. Jade couldn't place his accent, which was a feat considering the amount of traveling she did.
"Hey, Festus!" Beck grinned.
"Welcome back!" Festus replied.
"Jade, this is Festus, owner/cook/wait staff of The Grub Truck. Festus, Jade."
"You know where to pick up all the good-looking ladies, eh?" Festus wink.
Jade's eyes widened at Beck.
"He's kidding! He's kidding!" Beck was quick to assure the girl.
Jade shook her head but gamely let it go. "So what's cooking?" She asked the weirdo inside the van.
"The lunch time's over so I just have the burritos, the bagels, the tacos—"
"Oh! That's great! We'll have the tacos!" Beck interrupted.
"I was not finished yet!" Festus suddenly snapped.
Jade took an involuntary step back in surprise. She was about to snap back when Beck squeezed her arm in reassurance.
"Sorry about that," he told Festus calmly. "So what else you've got?"
"That's it." Festus admitted. "The burritos, the bagels, and the tacos."
"Okay," Beck grinned. "We'll have two tacos."
"I swear, Beck Oliver, you know the strangest people," Jade told him after Festus went to the belly of his truck to start their meal.
"I know the strangest people?" Beck guffawed. "Have we forgotten about Sinjin?"
"Sinjin isn't strange," Jade rebutted. "He's Sinjin."
"I find your defense of your BFF cute."
"I am not cute!" Jade snapped.
"So Sinjin's your BFF?"
"Oh, shut up!" She poked Beck at his side for emphasis.
"You're asking for it now!" Was Beck's only warning as he grabbed Jade and started tickling her sides.
"Stop, Beck!" Jade protested as she tried to wiggle out of Beck's grasp. "Stop it this instant! You're so childish! Beck!"
"You know what to say to make it stop."
"Uncle! Uncle! Beck, I'm serious! Stop it! Uncle!"
When Beck eventually stopped teasing her, Jade found herself in the boy's strong embrace, their faces mere inches apart.
And suddenly, she was reminded of all those cheesy romance novels her former guidance councilor made her read (allegedly to help her develop empathy).
Their eyes met and (Jade would deny this last part to her dying days) their lips, as if on their own accord, seemed to draw closer and closer to each other's.
Slowly, Jade's eyes fluttered close.
For the second time that day, Beck and Jade sprang apart, as if shocked.
"Your tacos are ready." Festus declared as he offered two neatly-wrapped packages.
Beck took them before reaching for his wallet.
"I got this." Jade interjected before Beck could pay.
"But you already paid for lunch."
"As I've said, you're my tour guide for the day," Jade reasoned out as she handed money to Festus. "So it's my treat."
Beck shrugged unconcernedly. "We'll see you around, Festus!" He called out before handing Jade her own taco.
Jade smiled at Beck, relieved that he was not going all macho on her on who should pay.
Truth be told, she was a little worried about him. He had forsaken looking for jobs to take her places and yet he still insisted on paying his way, which may deplete his meager savings.
Thus, she rationalized, the least she could do is to insist on paying. She didn't mind: she was used to hangers-on who wouldn't even dream of offering to pay for anything, thinking that just because Jade's a gazillionaire, she ought to do the spending.
That was why Beck, loathe as she was to admit it, impressed her.
"So are you going to eat your taco or are you just gonna stare at it?" Beck asked as the two of them meander around the streets of Hollywood, shoulder to shoulder.
Jade shrugged as she unwrapped her food. She sniffed it. "I don't know. The Grub Truck doesn't look that sanitary to me."
"Are you sure that that's your problem?" Beck teased. "Or you won't eat it because you're," his voice dropped an octave lower. "A vegan?"
"What's that supposed to mean?" Jade demanded.
A couple of hours later, tired (Jade) and full (Beck, because he was not able to convince her to take even a tiny bite of the taco), Jade found herself staring at a large, silver monstrosity.
She gaped. "You live in an RV?"
"Yep," he said proudly. "I call her The Silver Streak."
Jade was successful in holding back an eye roll. Of course he would name that hideous contraption.
"I usually park at my parent's driveway," he was saying. "But right now, this is my manager's curb."
"You're worse than a dude living in his mother's basement."
"I am not!" Beck said. "Living in an RV is perfect. If I have a location shoot, I drive in the night before then the following day, I can just roll out of bed, then straight into the hair and makeup room."
"Fine. So you're not a major loser. Just a minor one."
"I'm gonna let that go." Beck turned serious. He opened his mouth, hesitated, then bravely plowed on. "You wanna go in?" Beck asked, his eyes solemn but sincere.
Jade met Beck's eyes squarely.
She knew Beck was asking more than entering the Silver Streak; that if she entered the RV that night she would be saying yes to changing their status quo.
Slowly, Jade nodded her head. "Sure. I'd love that."
Beck gave her a grin and once again reached for her hand.
Slowly, with a pace that belied their mutual excitement, Beck and Jade made their way into the RV.
TO BE CONTINUED
P.S. What do you think happened in Beck's RV? :) Tell me your thoughts!