Disclaimer: The show Victorious, its characters and other associated copyrights are property of someone else and not me.

That which we face.

Chapter 1 – Just a hunch.

Jade's POV

I remember the day well. It was April and a rather disgustingly beautiful day. Sun was shining, a light breeze moved the air everything seemed beautiful. I would much rather it be cloudy and dull looking. I hate sunshine.

We were all having lunch at the asphalt café as we did so many other times. I'm not sure exactly when I began to pick up on it but something seemed off. Very imperceptible but something seemed wrong.

I was sitting sullenly eating my salad next to Beck listening to Robbie try to impress Cat with a story about how he found a lost kitten and took it home.

"So I heard this little meowing while I was walking by the park coming from some bushes." He was saying.

"He wanted to Run." Chimed in Rex

"No I did not Rex. I went into the bushes and found a little grey kitten."

Cat seemed to melt at the mention of a little grey kitten. "Awww, was it OK?"

"It was tangled in some branches; they were hooked on his collar."

"Poor thing" said Tori said with sympathy from across the table. My eyes darted to her as soon as she said it. I found myself carefully studying the Latina as she listened to the story. I have no idea why.

"I got it loose and its tag had an address on it so I took it too it's owner. The little cat had gotten and the owners were so worried."

"Yeah it gave him fleas" Rex announced.

Tori said how brave he was. Cat seemed moderately impressed but from the look on Robbie's face he hoped he would do better.

I found myself watching Tori again as she told Robbie how brave he was. I still didn't know why.

The rest of lunch went on as normal; Cat told a funny story about her brother which caused everyone except me to laugh.

That dude needs to be locked in a padded room and left there.

Everything seemed perfectly normal, except I found myself continuingly watching Tori. More than I usually do. I pay attention to her much too often to my annoyance.

Tori was her normal perky, happy self. She was laughing and joking and telling Andre about the latest Cher Lloyd song her heard.

It was all very normal for the Latina, but something bothered me. Something always bothered me about her but this time it was something else.

I let my mind drift as I continued to eat. Beck said something to me but I wasn't listening. I began to think about an acting assignment I needed to finish for Sikowitz's class. Then it hit me.

Tori's behavior seemed totally normal, but in fact it wasn't.

I turned to look at her out of the corner of my eye. She seemed to be happily chatting with Cat about Katy Perry.

"It's all an act." That thought suddenly thundered through my head.

I blinked with disbelief as it hit me. She's not happy at all; she's only acting that way and doing a dam good job of it.

I'm an actress and it's good to watch people. Watch them to learn how to act and learn movements, and facial expressions all the things an actor needs.

Tori was only acting happy. I was sure of it. I had no idea why I was sure of it, but I was.

"Jade" Beck said tapping me on the shoulder.

"Don't tap me on the shoulder." I hissed at my Boyfriend.

He was a taken aback briefly. "I was talking to you."

"Well I wasn't listening." I quickly retorted.

More and more I just didn't want to deal with him. He hadn't done anything wrong but there was this distance between us and it seemed to be growing.

He just rolled his eyes and walked away figuring that I was too moody to deal with.

Lunch ended and we all parted ways. It was then I realized I had said very little during lunch which wasn't too out of character. I kept watching Tori.

"It's all just an act." I thought. "Why isn't anyone else picking up on it?"

I just pushed it aside in my mind. Perhaps she's just having an off day or something. No one can be that happy every day. So I just dismissed it and pushed thoughts of Vega out of my mind.

In the pit of my stomach, something about it just didn't sit well. I hated feeling that about Vega.

I thought about it that night. Vega was for the most part an open book. If she was happy she acted happy, if she was sad she acted sad, and so on. She wasn't the one to hide her emotions like that. Like I do. What was behind that mask she was wearing?

Over the next week or so, I found myself watching her. I didn't want to but something pulled me in.

To my amazement, I realized that on several days, she was doing the same thing. Some day's she would be her normal self, some day's it would just be an act. I was the only one who picked up on it. I treated her as I always did. Insults and other snide remarks.

That little feeling in my stomach started to grow. After two weeks, I noticed she seemed to be acting more and more and being her genuine self less and less.

Something was extremely wrong. What ever it was, she was masterfully hiding her real emotions. It was an acting performance that impressed even me. It slowly began to bother me.

I watched her intently. She didn't drop character for a single second.

I mentioned to Beck in passing one day.

"Do think Vega is acting funny recently?"

Without hesitation he said "NO, what's up?"

"It's nothing" I found myself saying.

Later that same day I approached Cat after school.

"Hey Cat." I said coming up behind the Red Haired Girl by her locker.

"Hi Jade. Do you want to go to the mall with me and my brother?"

"I'd rather be beaten to death" I said humorlessly.

I quickly ignored the frown forming on her face and asked her a question.

"Have you noticed anything odd with Tori lately?"

Cat seemed to think for a moment. "Hmmm…No, Nothing out of the ordinary."

I bit my lip and wondered why I was the only one who noticed this odd behavior in Tori.

"Are you worried about her or something?" Cat asked innocently.

"NO!" I quickly said. "Why on earth would I worry about Vega!"

I was a bit worried though I wasn't sure why but I had no intention of letting anyone know that. It annoyed me that I was wasting valuable time worrying about Tori Vega.

"I got to go" Said Cat before leaving.

It was then I saw Tori walking to her locker. She had a vague smile on her face and it appeared that her mind was elsewhere.

I glided up behind her silently as she opened her locker. She hadn't noticed my approach as I stood directly behind her.

After a moment of rummaging through her locker she turned and saw my smiling face directly behind her.

"HI Tori"I said a rather snarky voice.

Momentarily startled she screamed.

"You scared me Jade."

"Then I succeeded." I said proudly.

During our interaction I watched her eyes carefully to see if at all she would drop her act or show something of what was really there. Perhaps I needed to rattle her a bit to get her to show her hand.

"What do you need?" She asks with a rather convincing but fake smile.

"Dinner?" I say without emotion.

A look of surprise quickly registered in her face, as well as something else that I couldn't make out. I was actually surprised I said it myself. Though it did seem to rattle her slightly.

"You want to have dinner?" she said cautiously.

"That's why I said dinner, if I wanted lunch I would have said lunch. Just how thick are you Vega."

"I just wanted to be sure. May I ask why?"

"NO" I said bluntly.

Tori looked vaguely disappointed. "You're not going to tell me why you want to have dinner?"

"Precisely" I said with a smirk.

"Why are you doing this to me?" she said somewhat exasperated.

"I'm not telling you that either. We have dinner at Nozu, we talk, pretend were having a good time, we go our separate ways and life goes on. It's dinner, no more no less. Don't read anything into it, were not even friends." I tell her sounding rather bored.

She looked at me as if she didn't know what to make of me. For a split second it appeared as if she wanted to say something but quickly restrained herself.

"OK, but how about tomorrow night. I have to study tonight." She says hopefully.

I don't know why but I suspect I was just lied to but I just played along.

"Fine, I'll pick you up at 6" and I turn and walk away without saying another word.

I quickly hid outside and waited for Tori to emerge. I wanted to see the expression her face. As she came out she actually looked slightly worried or bothered by something. But that expression was replaced by a happy one once she got near Trina and her waiting car.

This was all just an odd vague suspicion about Tori Vega. Odd behavior that no one but me seemed to notice. Her real friends seemed oblivious to it. Three thoughts come to mind.

"What is really going on?"

And

"Why do I notice when no one else does?

And

"Why do I care at all?"

Just in time for Christmas, a new story. No sci-fi this time. Just a normal Jori story and a good one I hope.

This story will be rated M for smut and some rather serious subject matter.