A/N: Wow, first fic with this account! This is also my first Jori fic, yay! Reviews and concrit would be awesome. :)
Also, here's a little essential info: Yes, this is a Jori fic, but give it a couple of chapters! This will be curse-free. Set after Jade and Beck broke up, before they got back together. Trigger warning. (That's the most important bit.)
But without further ado, let's dive in!
I don't really think that you've ever walked a mile in my shoes. I don't really think you know what I've been through.
-Ben Threw, Of Mice & Men
Tori had just closed her locker and the bell was about to ring to signify the end of the school day at Hollywood Arts when Cat sauntered up to her, twisting a piece of her hair in her fingers.
"Jade says she wants your help after school with a play she's working on," she told Tori with an eager smile.
"Why does she want my help?" Tori groaned, picking her backpack up from the ground and shouldering it. "She doesn't even like me."
"She said she needed someone stupid and naive to play the victim and I have to go home and help my brother get out of the cat flap so I can't do it," Cat chirped.
Tori blinked and raised her eyebrows at Cat. "Why was he in the..."
The petite redhead giggled. "He forgot his species again. I should really go help him. Maybe I'll use butter to get him out..."
"Um, sounds good," Tori said, torn between wanting to laugh and wanting to question further.
But before she could do either, Cat abruptly said, "Well, bye!" and skipped to the exit. As she was opening the doors she called "Good luck with Jade!" over her shoulder, and disappeared just as the bell sounded through the halls. Kids came pouring out of all the classrooms, desperate to get out of the building. They rushed around Tori, opening and closing lockers and shouting to one another, while she leaned against her locker and waited for them to be gone. It took less than two minutes for the halls to be empty once more.
Sighing again and thinking that she would much rather be going home or getting sushi as an after-school snack, Tori headed towards the small room reserved for play rehersals, where she assumed Jade would be. Her eyes wandered as she tried to figure out how someone could even become stuck in a cat flap in the first place. How could they possibly fit?
She reached the play room and pushed open the doors. She dropped her bag on one of the fold-up chairs. "I'm here!" she announced loudly, but there was no response. All she heard was the hum of the heating system and distant music played by the janitor's radio as he began cleaning the school.
Tori shook her head – typical of Jade to not even be there yet. She took the time to glance around the familiar room, noting that the lights seemed a little dimmer than usual. She thought back to all of the plays she had performed in over the years in this very room, like the one where she and Jade were forced to play husband and wife. That role really hadn't been that bad though, in retrospect.
Tori heard the clang of metal followed by what sounded like a muttered curse word from offstage, behind the thick dark curtains, and she whipped her head around in the direction the noise had come from. "Jade?" She thought the other girl wasn't there yet. If she was, why hadn't she answered when Tori shouted?
There was still no answer from the other side of the curtain. Tori was curious and a little wary, not wanting Jade to pop out of all a sudden and scare her out of her wits. She scared pretty easily.
"I know you're there, Jade. If you wanted to scare me you blew your chance!" She tried to make her voice confident, but her words were tentative.
There was silence for a couple seconds as Tori continued to advance on the curtains, treating them as though they hid a rabid animal.
Then, Jade's voice sliced through the air, loud and cocky as always. "I was just finishing something up; I wouldn't lower myself to the level of scaring children from behind curtains."
Tori breathed a sigh of relief and paused. She had actually been worried for a moment that something was wrong, but here was Jade acting the same as always.
"You know you would, Jade," she replied with a small smile.
"Yeah, you're right, I would," Jade agreed snidely.
Tori finally came around the curtains and saw Jade standing backstage with her arms crossed defiantly across her chest, her lips curled into her eternal sneer.
"You're the last person I would ever have wanted in my play, but unfortunately all of the better options were unavailable."
"Oh come on Jade, let's just work on your play and get it over with. What do you want me to do?"
"Hold. On." Jade said deliberately and with hostility. "Let me get the script." She turned her back on Tori and strode away towards her book bag to find the papers.
Tori exhaled slowly, regretting the fact that she had agreed to come at all. She didn't really want to waste her time working with Jade if all she was going to do was challenge her and be a difficult diva about the whole thing.
Tori was just turning around as she contemplated telling Jade she had changed her mind when something caught her eye. It was the glint of red on a bright silver surface, shining from the floor behind a crate. Tori approached it and saw that it was a pair of carefully sharpened scissors, with fake blood spattered on it. She picked the scissors up and nodded, impressed.
"Hey Jade, this is some really good fake blood! How did you make it?" It looked so real, and when Tori touched her finger to it, it spread across her skin, as vivid and red as the real deal, and even the perfect consistency.
"Jade, I'm serious," Tori said, turning back in the direction Jade had gone, "this is really good!" She looked up and the smile froze on her face, shocked still by the look in Jade's eyes. Her face was composed but in her eyes was the look of a panicked, caged animal. The papers from the script Jade was holding fluttered to floor, barely noticed by either of the girls.
It was then that Tori noticed the same blood dripping down Jade's hands, hovering on the tips of her fingers for an indecisive second before dropping. It was then that she saw that the red droplets splattering on the white papers were coming from Jade's wrists, not a bag or bottle. It was then that she realized that the blood on the scissors wasn't fake.
It was real.
It was Jade's.
"But Jade," Tori whispered, her wide eyes searching the other girl's.
"It's not what you think," Jade said quickly. She crossed her arms across her stomach to prevent any more blood from dripping and shuffled her feet to hide the drops on the floor, but she knew Tori had seen and understood. Tori wasn't quite as naive as she always claimed. She should have made Cat come to play the stupid role in the stupid play because that ditzy redhead never knew what was going on, and now Tori knew what Jade had never wanted anyone to know.
Without breaking her gaze, Jade shook her head slowly at Tori. Her voice quavered when she spoke. "I didn't think you were coming. I only mentioned you jokingly. I told Cat to not worry about it, I told her to just go home and help that idiotic brother of hers..."
The jab fell flat, and Tori didn't crack even the slightest smile. "But Jade, why would you..." Her voice was high pitched and strangled.
Jade couldn't answer the question; she just looked down and away, grinding her teeth in her mouth. This couldn't be happening.
Tori took a tentative step towards Jade, who immediately stepped back, away from her advance. Jade glared at her menacingly, the walls she built around herself a mile high and almost impenetrable.
"Just leave, Tori, okay? Just leave and forget what you saw." Her tone was vicious, but Tori could see that she was scared.
"Just talk to me," Tori pleaded.
Jade snickered. How could she talk to Tori, who she'd never trusted and was never particularly close to? She would probably take anything Jade told her and go to the school shrink. That was a chance not worth taking.
"No," she said, her voice cracking. "You can't fix anything." She turned and stalked away, grabbing her bag and sweeping out of the room.
Tori stared after her for a moment, watching the doors swing, her mouth agape and her thoughts tangled in her head. Jade was... doing that to herself? Why? Jade had a dark personality, that was a fact no one could deny, but was she really so tormented that she felt the need to... hurt herself? She always seemed so confident and sure of herself, far from having a sunny personality, but seemingly just as far from depression or anything like it. Or was it that she just liked the pain? Everyone knew Jade was a masochist, but somehow that explanation didn't seem right.