There is a strange ringing in Jade West's head.
Groaning, she pulls the pillow tighter over her ears. She's not fit to go to school, she thinks; she's practically burning with fever, but she forces herself to her feet anyway.
Beck is in Canada, she remembers, and she groans. He is practically the only one that would bother taking care of her anyway; her mom has to work, her brother has school, and no one else cares enough to stay home with her. And sickness, with no one taking care of you, makes for a long, lonely, and boring day.
Trying to keep herself from vomiting, she showers off quickly, getting the sheen of sweat off of her pale, sticky forehead. Thankfully, she decides once she walks into the bathroom, she doesn't look too horrible, especially for a sick girl. After doing her makeup, she dresses in a large black hoodie and a pair of dark jeans, and off to school she goes.
Her angry glare is enough to keep most people far away, so that they don't notice that she's sick. She's gotten so used to this, after all, to scaring people out of their minds, to keeping people at arm's distance so that they never get close. She only lets a select few people into her life, and most people do not meet her qualifications.
Cat, to her annoyance, is in her History class. With a large smile, Cat skips up to her. "Jade! Are you okay? You look kinda, you know, bad. Not like, ugly bad! Just... like you feel bad. Is everything okay?"
"Yes," Jade says simply, not bothering to muster up the energy to further the conversation.
Thankfully, Cat is easy. Cat just grins at her and says, "Oh, good!" and takes the seat beside her, then picks up one of her pink, sparkly pens and proceeds to doodle hearts all over the cover of her notebook. Jade puts her head in her arms and hopes no one else will speak to her.
Much to her dismay, things don't exactly work out the way she'd hoped. (Do they ever?)
"Jade, is everything all right?" She glances up to see Robbie Shapiro standing at the edge of her desk, brown eyes wide. He looks sort of like a baby deer, she thinks, an animal they show on a commercial to advocate the protection of animal rights, a wounded little animal that makes others feel sorry for them. Pity, Jade knows, is a weakness, and Robbie Shapiro has plenty of those.
Unfortunately, Jade has never been an animal activist, and so she says, "I am fine, Shapiro. Now go be a good little boy and jump off a bridge."
"Jade." She winces when he says her name, probably because he sounds all soft and weak and pitiable. "You sound really sick. I think you need to go home."
"I think you need to leave me alone."
"Have you got a fever?" Robbie questions, sounding concerned. "Jade! Why would you come to school like this? You won't be able to get any work done."
"I am fine," she growls again, lifting her head from her arms and glaring daggers at him, hoping his fear will be enough to motivate him to leave her alone. "But if you don't go away, you won't be."
Robbie, with one last glance at her, walks away. She hears him walking over to Tori, and the two doe-eyed fools beginning to conspire, probably some sort of twisted plan to drag her home. She buries her head in her arms again, wishing not for the first time that Beck was not in Canada. It sucks when he leaves her here to deal with the fools she reluctantly calls 'classmates'.
She sleeps through most of the period, not bothering to pay attention to the details of the First Continental Congress (after all, there were like ten million after that, and she personally believes they were more important). At the end, though, she awakens to find Robbie standing at the edge of her desk. "Get up, Jade; I'm taking you home."
"What, in your car?" she mumbles blearily, blinking rapidly to clear her watering eyes. "Aren't you scared I'll cut up your precious leather seats?"
He sighs, though it does not sound like he's defeated, more like he's just plain annoyed. "You don't look like you have enough energy to walk ten steps, much less cut up my car seats."
She rolls her eyes, then closes them, thinking it must be because she doesn't want to see his scary face and not because she's so tired she can't even manage to keep her eyes open. "I'm... I'm fine, Shapiro. Just... leave me be..."
He just stares at her, eyes all determined (and why, she wonders, would he pick a time like this to be courageous or whatever). Then he steps forward. "Jade, please. I'm skipping class and everything. Now get up or I'll... or I'll make you get up!"
"I'll get up because I want to," Jade mutters, slowly pushing herself to her feet. Robbie is right, she realizes; she hardly even has the energy to get to her feet, and it's ludicrous to think she could get through the rest of the day this way. He slips an arm around her shoulders, slow, helping to steady her, and she almost smiles gratefully at him before realizing who he is and who she is and what is happening.
They walk to his car in silence, her determining it best not to speak to him, and him probably thinking about the same thing. He opens the door for her, though; one thing Jade knows about Robbie is that he is a perfect gentleman, and although Jade's not the best example of the proper lady, he doesn't miss a beat. She gives him a dirty look (because she's not used to him, not used to polite, not used to people being nice to her, who would bother) and slides in, her feet lightly brushing the dash.
His car isn't half as ugly as she had imagined it would be. There are a pair of plastic dice dangling from the rearview mirror, though, the ones that are supposed to be 'air fresheners' but really are only there to serve as a tacky decoration that spoils one's view. Her eyes dart to his collection of music, and she discovers with renewed fascination that actually they have a very similar taste in music. They both enjoy the oldies, but Robbie seems to have more of a taste for modern techno and pop than she does, unsurprisingly.
"Kelly Clarkson?" Jade slurs as he starts up the car and music starts to burst from his speakers. "Really, Shapiro?"
"Hey, she won American Idol; she can't exactly be talentless," Robbie defends, pulling out of the parking lot. "Like, half of America voted for her. That's got to mean something."
"I have no respect for the opinions of America," Jade scoffs with a roll of her eyes. "They go with whatever's popular at the time, and typically, on American Idol, it's some stupid white guy with a guitar drawling out some pop song. Not exactly my kind of thing. Though, in Idol's defense, they were actually decent back when they had Simon."
"Simon was rude," Robbie objects, tossing a glance her way as he steers. "I didn't like him much. I mean, seriously, not every performance was terrible. And hey - Scotty McCreery, Kris Allen - those guys were quality."
"You would think that. And no, Simon wasn't rude; Simon was honest. Get it straight."
"You'd think that being sick would take all of the life out of you," Robbie mutters with a roll of his eyes. "In fact, it's been scientifically proven that sickness reduces energy, vigor, you know, that sort of thing, and yet you don't seem to be affected at all. It's too bad, really."
"Don't start spouting your science crap at me," Jade hisses back, leaning her head against the soft, plush fabric of his headrest. It's funny, she thinks, that he has such a nice car. Honestly, she's not sure what she'd been expecting, but surely not this, and surely not that she would almost enjoy conversing with him, that it would seem easy, natural. Although it's not like Robbie's Vega, the absolute bane of her existence, the two of them have never really gotten along, and suddenly she finds herself wondering why. Of course, there's the fact that Robbie's a dork, but if she goes by labels, then she's a ganky, evil, Goth witch, and she doesn't really think that's an accurate description of herself.
"Wanna hear a science joke?" Robbie offers after a moment of silence. "I think it'll help make you feel better."
"Might make me vomit all over the interior of your nice car."
He disregards her objection (absently, she wonders when he has gotten so bold). "One atom walks up to another. The first says, 'I lost an electron!' The other says, 'Are you positive?'"
"Shapiro," she gripes, holding her head in one hand. "That is legitimately the worst joke I have heard in ages." But she's laughing, almost, and the edges of her cheeks are turning up into something resembling a smile, and he's smiling too, and it's sort of... nice. She misses decent, intelligent conversation when Beck is away, and sometimes she even misses his love for stupid puns, so this, this is the closest thing she has right now, no matter how odd it might say.
"I can come up with worse ones," he offers with a grin, and she turns her head to look at him, really look at him, not as Cat's annoying boyfriend or that geeky guy that tried to ruin her relationship with Beck once upon a time, but as Robbie Shapiro, resident weakling with an aptitude for wit, ventriloquism, comedy, and things of the technical variety.
"Really," she deadpans. "Maybe after I decompose, you can tell me them. Only maybe, though." He laughs, and she smiles; Beck rarely laughs at her jokes, especially if they involve death or things that are equally as sadistic.
"I'll be sure to tell them to your grave," he says, and then he pulls to a stop. "Hey, isn't this your house?" He furrows his brow, glancing down at the slip of paper. "Cat gave me the address, said you might be too sick to talk or something; I really have no clue. But, um..." He glances up again.
"Yeah, I know," she says with another eye roll. "It's not a freaking witch's castle. Believe me, I know. Practically everyone expects it to be. But contrary to popular belief, I am actually not the Wicked Witch of the West. I'm just a normal girl - well, maybe not normal, per se, but I do have a normal two-story house, just like normal people do."
"Gotcha," he tells her with a nod. "So, um, I was thinking, if you wanted, I can come by and drop by your assignments after school, so you won't be like, crazy behind or anything." Somehow, he looks sort of scared, as if this wasn't a part of his original plan, as if she will murder him in his sleep just for asking this.
Internally, she weighs her options. It is better than being stuck at home, bored, that much she knows for sure, and it is not as if Beck is here to keep her company. Time with Cat is exhausting and would probably make her sicker; Tori and her untalented sister are both simply intolerable; Andre is working on another song for his new girlfriend (whose name she does not know and probably will never remember, seeing as he always breaks up with these girls after just a few days). Yes, it seems that Robbie is her best option, and those are words she definitely didn't imagine she would ever think.
"Sure, whatever." Her response is placid, devoid of emotion, but inside she is sort of glad. It will be nice not to be completely alone for once. Lonely is bleak; lonely is counting the shadows on her wall and watching brain-numbing shows on her personal television until her brain cells are completely fried. She thinks it best to avoid that.
"See ya, then." He's giving her that crooked smile, and she thinks that maybe he's not as unattractive as she once thought him. Sure, he could use some work, but he seems to be a genuine sort of guy, and she does appreciate that, after all.
Nearly as soon as he leaves, her phone buzzes with a text. It seems that her boyfriend of actual ages does remember her and has sacrificed time out of his extremely busy schedule to fire off a quick text. Hey babe, hope you're not in school, not that u would care. Miss u a lot up here. Canadians r driving me crazy.
I can imagine, she shoots back. Don't let the Canadian girls near you; I hear they're crazy desperate. And no, I'm not in school. Home sick today.
You're home sick? he responds after a few minutes. U never stay home from school! Did some1 take you home or something? Happy 2 report that all the Canadian girls are staying far away. Their attention has been diverted to another "eye candy" (hint: he goes by the name of a famous Canadian animal. I'll give u 2 guesses).
Yeah, Shapiro brought me home. She decides to play it off, act like it's no big deal; hopefully Beck won't realize how big a deal this actually is, that she's actually tolerating Robbie freaking Shapiro. Hopefully he won't decide she needs to be all friendly with Vega as well. I had a fever and apparently that means I've got to be at home. Who knew? And well, thank Canada for Moose. You must realize the great gravity of this statement.
Robbie brought you home?! replies Beck. I didn't know you two were even friends. And wow, you're thanking canada. Canada thanks u back. :)
If you text me another smiley face I'll bite off your head. And we're not friends, really; I just needed a ride home. No big deal.
K. I'm really sorry babe, but I gotta go, we're gonna go visit my uncle in the hospital. Ill text you later. Dont kill anyone. She has to laugh at that, at the fact that he knows her so well, but she hates that whenever he's in Canada, they don't get to talk much. Inevitably, she misses him; no matter how much of an idiot he can be, he's still her Beck, and he will always be her Beck, the boy she knows best in the world, the boy that she's loved for longer than she can remember, the boy that melted her heart of ice.
With a sigh, she closes her phone. There's really nothing to do now except switch on her television and laugh at idiots' ideas of entertainment. She flips through channels of fashion shows, 'touching' stories of people who changed their lives, and reality shows with no real aspects to them, before finally settling on some show about a bunch of bratty kids. It's odd to consider that perhaps someday she will have children of her own. She's not really the motherly type; she's never had much affection for children. But absently, she imagines what her children with Beck would look like - tanned skin, flowing, dark hair, hazel eyes - and she thinks that well, children might not be so bad.
She's deep in this fantasy of a combination of her and Beck when Robbie comes clambering into her house (he doesn't seem capable of doing anything with grace, she's noticed). "Sorry," he says awkwardly, scratching the back of his neck. "I should've knocked, but the door was unlocked... anyway, I brought your work. There's really not much, and all we did in Sikowitz's class was, um, nothing, because he had to go deliver some cookies to old people, and... yeah."
"Kay," she says. "Thanks." She gives him a small half-smile, not really sure what to do.
"Seriously?" he asks, glancing up at the screen. "You're watching Supernanny? Honestly, I expected like American Horror Story or like, The Walking Dead, not this." He raises an eyebrow as Jo goes off on a tangent about how children respond well to positive affirmation rather than constant negativity.
"I'm actually an old horror movie fan," Jade explains, flipping her hair over her shoulder, "but my mom decided to cancel my On Demand, so I have been reduced to watching these shows that are practically frying my brain. I swear by the time Beck gets back and I can actually go watch quality stuff on his TV - when he's not watching Full House, that is - I'll have like three brain cells."
Robbie laughs, and admittedly she's sort of surprised that he appreciates her sense of humor. She'd never really thought they would have the same sense of humor; after all, from outward appearances, one would assume they were complete opposites. "I actually like old horror movies too," he confesses. "The new ones are too focused on trying to be scary that they lose the whole scare-factor, if you know what I mean. They don't make you think like the old ones do; they just gross you out or whatever, and you know I get grossed out really easily."
"Come on, Shapiro. Can't handle a little blood?" she teases, causing Robbie to shudder. "I know what you mean, though; aside from The Scissoring, most new horror movies are crap. I'd tell you to watch The Scissoring, but I don't think you can handle that much gore."
"Is that a challenge?" he inquires, his scrawny arms folded across his chest. "Because I mean, I can keep myself from vomiting... most of the time."
"We'll see about that," Jade remarks off-handedly. "Sometime when I'm not practically oozing contagion and Beck's off doing who knows what, you'll have to come over and watch it with me. I'll count the amount of times you vomit."
"Not more than once, I swear."
He laughs again. "See you tomorrow, Jade, if you're feeling better. And by the way, um, I hope you do?" It sounds more like a squeak, and Jade finds it oddly amusing that he is still scared of her, if just a little. She likes that feeling of empowerment, the fact that she can coerce people into bending to her will. She likes that not everyone has grown used to her schemes.
"Bye, Shapiro," she calls over her shoulder before curling up under the covers and resting her head on a pillow. She's shaking a bit even still. One of the things Jade hates the most is being sick, being weak, being powerless, feeling like she is incapable of doing things. It causes her literal physical pain. She likes to think she's stronger than all that.
With an annoyed sigh, she switches off the TV and starts to consider the odd events of her day. Sometime during her speculation, she dozes off to sleep, because next thing she knows someone is pressing a light kiss to her forehead. Her eyelids flutter open, and she smiles once she realizes it's her boyfriend. "You're back," she mutters blearily.
"Mmhmm," he says, sitting down on the arm of the couch and stroking her hair. "I heard someone was sick."
"Who, your random uncle?" she mutters with a roll of her eyes.
"You," he whispers into her hair. "If I kiss you, do you imagine I'll get sick as well?"
"Probably," she replies, raising her eyebrows at him. He's not really the sappy type, usually; she supposes, though, that absence makes the heart grow fonder. Or maybe he's just jealous that Robbie had to be the one to bring her home. The image of Beck 'perfect' Oliver being jealous of Robbie Shapiro is almost enough to make her burst out laughing, but she manages to contain herself. "But I'm guessing you're going to be an absolute idiot and do it anyway."
"You guessed right," he says before pressing his lips to hers.
They curl up that night side by side, her head pressed against his chest, something that only occurs when her father and brother are gone (like they are now, off at some Boy Scout retreat). She can hear the beat of his heart, the constant thudding, and it is reassuring - safe - in an indescribable way. His strong arms around her are reassuring, and she dozes off to sleep more easily than she has in days.
A/N: Thank you guys for the lovely reviews! I hope you enjoy this chapter as well :) there's both jade/beck and jade/robbie b/c i love both but i guess the ultimate couple is still a surprise. keep reviewing and everything ;)