The Tori Vega-Jade West Story
Note: This is the final part of the series. I want to thank all of you who reviewed and supported this story. And, again, I really want to give Loganx5 a huge THANK YOU for all the great suggestions.
~long term flashback cont'd~
Four years before…
~~ … and the senator, while claiming he was not intoxicated, could not explain his nudity.
In other news, the upcoming wedding of popstar Tori Vega and her long-time companion, award-winning Indy film maker Jade West, is today. It's being called the Celebrity Wedding of the Decade… ~~
The wedding day dawned with Tori and Lizzie at her family home in Hollywood. Jade was at the West house. They had agreed to follow the old traditions and hadn't laid eyes on each other since the rehearsal dinner the night before.
"Mami, why didn't we stay at home with Mom?"
Tori smiled and explained about traditions. "The bride and groom, or in this case, the bride and bride, shouldn't see each other before the wedding. It's good luck."
"Oh, like my rabbit's foot?"
Laughing, Tori replied, "Yes, like your icky rabbit's foot."
The wedding was held at Andre's newly purchased house north of Malibu. It came complete with a large yard overlooking the Pacific. Jade and Tori took rooms at opposite ends of the house as they donned their dresses and primped for the ritual.
"Something old," Tori muttered, fingering the charm bracelet that represented the gang – the same one that Jade had given her shortly before Liz was born. After the birth of their little girl, two more charms had been added, a small pacifier and entwined Venus symbols. "Something new." She touched the new pearl earrings her mother had given her the night before in a teary family get-together. "Something borrowed and something blue," Tori finished, caressing the blue strand of Jade's hair that was fixed in her brown tresses but hanging free alongside her face.
"Well, maybe not borrowed," she giggled. "Not like Jade can glue it back."
"Glue what?" Cat said as she walked in briefly to check on the other half of the wedding party. "I have my Grizzly Glue."
Tori shuddered, remembering how much trouble that adhesive had caused when Cat made her up as a zombie years before.
Jade had been going through her own checklist. Old was a necklace that came to her from her grandmother and had been given to her great-grandmother for her wedding. New was her own charm bracelet of alternating scissors, pacifiers and entwined Venus symbols, a gift from Tori for her last birthday. Borrowed was a pink hair ribbon from Cat, her Second Maid of Honor. Blue was the navy sash around the waist of her white dress.
"Okay, Kitty-Cat," Jade said, watching Cat's face light up at her old nickname. "I'm ready."
"Yay! So's Tori! And you're both so beautiful!"
As they walked slowly through Andre's house, Jade asked, "So when are you and Van Cleef getting hitched?"
Cat blushed, "We're sorta okay as we are now…"
"You dirty little minx…" Jade teased, ignoring the fact that she and Tori had been living together 'in sin' for almost a dozen years.
The time came, the wedding party marched out and took their positions on either side of the flowered arch. On the Vega side, a cousin, Beck (Jade allowed him to be on Tori's side to balance the wedding party) and Trina as her sister's Second Maid of Honor. On the West side, her brother, Sikowitz and Cat, Jade's Second Maid of Honor. In the middle was the First Maid of Honor, Elizabeth Catrina Vega.
And there was no prouder 11 year old in the state of California.
Drake and Andre played the Wedding March, the guitar and the keyboard meshing well.
First down aisle was James West with his daughter. They hugged and Jade kissed his cheek softly. "Thank you, Dad," she whispered. He leaned over and pecked his granddaughter before he sat down. Jade quickly kissed Liz as she took her hand and they both watched Tori come down the aisle on her father's arm. David kissed his daughter, then Jade's other cheek and then he kissed his granddaughter before sitting down.
The minister began as Liz took up her station directly behind her mothers, holding their rings as the ritual started. The rings were simple, complimentary bands. Tori's was gold since Jade called Tori her golden girl. Jade's was silver, her favorite precious metal. Each had both brides' initials and their wedding date engraved inside the rings.
Then it came time for the vows, of course the wives had their own ready.
Jade started, "Tori, I really had no idea what to say but that I love you and I'm in love with you. I've been in love with you for so long. But, even better, I love you. With all my heart and I always will. I will love you until long after the last star in the sky goes out. And I want to be with you for the rest of eternity."
Jade slid the simple gold band on Tori's finger. Then she kissed Tori's hand tenderly.
"Jade West," Tori began. "You poured coffee on me the first time we met. But, in your favor, it was iced coffee. While we were never friends, you were always there for me when I needed you. And when I really needed you, you showed me how wonderful you could be. And, although I think I always loved you, I knew then that I wanted you in my life. For now and for always, I love you."
Taking the silver ring from her daughter, Tori slipped it on Jade's finger and whispered, "I love you Jade West."
Jade's return whisper echoed Tori's, "I love you Tori Vega."
The minister said, "I now pronounce you wife and wife. You may each kiss the bride."
To give them credit, each tried to keep the kiss simple but neither could. Even as the audience cheered and applauded, Liz stepped up and had to push between her mothers.
They both were red-faced, a combination of the kiss and embarrassment, as the minister said, "I would like to introduce Mrs. Tori Vega and Mrs. Jade West. May they have a long, happy life together."
More applause and cheers came as the two soul mates held hands and smiled.
As soon as the newlyweds returned from their honeymoon (and retrieved their little girl from the Vega grandparents), Tori took Jade to see an attorney about officially making her the other parent for Liz.
Adoption forms were filled out and, after the usual bureaucratic delays, Jade West-Vega became the proud mother of a sixty-four inch tall, ninety-five pound, bouncing, little thirteen year old girl.
Liz Vega officially got herself a second mother and became Elizabeth Vega-West.
And Victoria Vega-West was in heaven. Her world was complete.
Beck had stayed single for a couple of years, honing his craft and building his reputation in the film and TV industries. Then, almost six months after his ex-girlfriend married one of his best friends, came a fateful day when he met the girl who was going to star in his next movie – Phoebe Tonkin.
Beck went to Vancouver International Airport on the north bank of the Middle Arm of the Fraser River, just south of downtown Vancouver. Whenever he could, he liked to meet the flights of people coming into Vancouver who were to work with him on a show or a film. He waited outside the customs area – in this case, psyching himself to act like nothing was special about meeting the lovely Australian actress.
Suddenly, there she was, coming through the small crowd. She extended her hand as she said, in her rich Aussie accent, "Hello, I'm Phoebe Tonkin. You must be Beck Oliver."
The normally very cool, very suave, very laid back Beck Oliver was speechless. He had worked with some of the biggest names in Canadian and American filmdom. But here was the secret celebrity crush he had nursed since he was in high school. The image of this woman had dominated him since he first saw her on H2O Just Add Water on TeenNick. During all of his relationships – from Jade to the present – she had been a shadow in the back of his mind at worst. At best, she was the girl of his dreams. Literally.
And now, this woman was standing right in front of him next to the currency exchange as new arrivals streamed by them heading to courtesy buses, long-term parking or family and friends meeting them.
"Mister Oliver?" she asked with a small smile, her dimples very evident. His brain melted further into mush as he saw those dimples. He finally shook his head and smiled.
"Um… Ah… I… Uh, hi!" He finally took her hand and shook it, even as he marveled at how soft and warm it was.
~~ In the aftermath of the devastating bombing of the Tokyo subway system, public transportation is under greater scrutiny than ever before. Homeland Security has tightened security measures in all subway and elevated trains as well as commercial rail traffic. Delays in all forms of public transportation are to be expected as… ~~
Ten months after the 'celebrity wedding of the year', at Vancouver International Airport, Jade, Tori, Liz, Cat and Andre slowly made their way through customs. Andre was again between girlfriends and Sinjin was in Shepperton, England helping on a new Anglo-American film at Hammer Studios. The customs lines were long as three different planes had arrived from Alaska and the continental US in a very short time.
Jade was griping about it. "Never used to be this bad."
"Yeah it was," Andre stated. "Ever since the Towers."
"Well, Beck's parents said it was easier. No customs, no passports, no…"
Tori spoke up, "Jade, that was before. This is the way it is now."
"Anyway, Jade, aren't you excited? We're in Canada!" Cat gushed, clearly excited to be there. "What about you, Lizzie? Are you excited?"
"Yeah! This is cool. I love all the Canadian and Indian stuff on display." She constantly stopped at the displays scattered through the terminal as the group headed for Customs.
"Native American," Tori corrected her.
"Wouldn't it be Native Canadian?" Andre remarked.
"How long is this gonna take?" Jade whined as if she was in pain.
Tori muttered, "So that's where Liz gets it."
Finally, after clearing customs, they were met by Beck and his beautiful fiance. Greetings and introductions were shared while waiting for their luggage. Once that was retrieved, it was time for money to be exchanged.
"The airport exchange has the best rate in town usually," Beck explained. "But, if you want to shop around, there's another in the city and one in Richmond that have decent rates. Sometimes better."
"Let's just go, Moms," Liz whined. She was feeling restless and cranky after sitting in the jetliner for several hours.
"Liz! Shush!" Jade said. "Let's cut to the chase, Beck. What's the rate here?"
Tori bent over to her daughter, whispering, "Honey, please. We have to do this then we can go. Okay?"
Pouting as only a tween can, Liz stood with her arms crossed, not answering her mothers.
Trying to ignore the situation between his friends and his goddaughter, Beck went on, "One hundred and fifty Canadian for one hundred American."
"Let's do it!" Tori chimed in. Andre and Cat agreed. The redhead with her customary happy squeal.
While Beck, Tori, Cat and Andre took care of the finances, Jade joined Phoebe and Liz on a nearby bench and began to talk to her ex's new love, "So, Phoebe, how're things in Australia since Pakistan and India nuked each other's capitols?"
"Well, the prevailing winds took the worst of the fallout west over the Indian Ocean and the southern end of the Saudi peninsula into the Sahara. So, no. No problem back home. Anyway, we're on the other side of the equator and if there had been any east-bound transfer, a lot of the heavier particulates would have fallen out before any could reach Oz." Phoebe sat back with a smug look.
Jade quickly covered up her surprised expression. She wasn't used to one of Beck's girlfriends knowing what she was talking about, much less being one-upped by the woman. "I…uh, guess you studied that in college?"
"Actually, I studied acting. But my cousin is a physicist and he told us all of that when my dad became worried after the attacks." As Jade sat there, becoming more and more impressed by Beck's fiancé, said fiancé turned to the still agitated young girl, "So, what do you want to do while you're here, sweetie?"
"I like your accent. And your dimples are real cute. I'm jealous!" Liz replied, a little less sulky.
"Well, I like your accent Liz. And I'd kill to have your cheeks!"
And suddenly they were fast friends.
The two new friends laughed together. Liz saw flyers near a rental car counter and ran over to look at them. She grabbed one and waved it at Phoebe, "Whale watching! That'd be so cool! Hey, Phoebe, d'ya think we could…?"
Jade walked up behind the two looking at the brochure, "So, lemme guess, Beck warned you about me?"
Phoebe turned to Jade with a smile. Jade couldn't help but see the adorable dimples Beck used to go on about – until she threatened his manhood. "I'd say warn is a strong term. More like clued me in. And?"
"Did I pass the Jade West Test?" Liz, who had pretended to ignore her two older companions, giggled at that.
"Yeah, you did alright. A lot better than those Northridge bimbos. Or the ones in college."
"Friends?" Phoebe asked, holding her hand out.
Jade took her hand firmly and shook, "Yeah, alright." Then, more to herself than her friends, she said, "The West Test. I like it."
"Let's go see how badly the people at the exchange are fleecing the rest of your group," Phoebe offered.
As they strolled over, Jade said, "You know, the kid's right. You have a great accent."
With a wicked gleam in her eye, Phoebe countered, "I was just going to say the same thing about you!"
Jade nodded in admiration. "Touché!"
Reaching the rest of their friends at the currency exchange, Tori handed Jade about half of their stack. Jade held up some of the multi-colored Canadian currency and snarkily said, "What's with the bills? Looks like Monopoly money!"
"I think they're pretty," Liz stated, her temper much improved with the prospect of actually seeing whales.
"Me too!" Tori and Cat agreed.
"Hey, as long as it spends, I don't care what it looks like," Andre stated.
As they all headed to the parking garage and the rental limo Beck had hired, Phoebe showed Liz some of the coins. "This is the dollar coin. It's called a loonie."
"Because of the bird on the one side?"
"Exactly! This is the two dollar coin." Phoebe held a slightly larger coin that was bronze colored on the inside with a silver ring around it. "It's also a loonie or a double loonie."
"Loonie," Liz snickered.
As they got to the stretch, Beck said, "We'll drop you at the Hilton so you can get settled in. I have to go to the studio for a couple of hours then I'll come back and bring you all up to the house for dinner."
"It's a beautiful place on the shore of Bowen Island. Across the Strait of Georgia is Vancouver Island, where the outdoor chapel and the B and Bs are located," Phoebe added.
That evening, the limo picked up the Americans at their hotel and headed up to Horseshoe Bay to catch the ferry to Bowen. No bridges connected the island to the mainland and the island people, like a lot of the less urbanized population of the Vancouver area, relied on ferries to get from one island to another or to the mainland.
Liz loved it! She stood near the prow, enjoying the breeze and the ocean spray. The views on either side were spectacular – hills rising from the waters, covered with the deep green of conifers and the occasional water-side home with a dock.
Bowen Island was heavily forested and the road meandered back and forth through the trees, finally reaching the southern end of the island and the few houses scattered along the shore. The distance between the houses ensured privacy for the homeowners.
Beck had inherited his grandfather's home. The elder Oliver had built it shortly after returning from the war in Europe in late 1945. He married his high school sweetheart and they moved in as soon as the roof and enough walls were up to protect them from the remnants of North Pacific storms that surged over the Island.
It was a two-story house from the front. The back of the house was three-story with a large deck extending out from the back doors on the middle level. The land continued to slope down to a small, artificial beach with an adjacent boat house and dock.
Phoebe had already fired up the grill and Beck began to cook burgers and brats. The rest of the meal was simple – cole slaw, potato salad, green salad and chips. Beer and soda were available.
Jade decided, before the night was over, she liked Molson's Canadian brand beer. She was going to look for it at home.
The cooking took place on the deck and everyone sat around, getting to know Phoebe and catching Beck up on all the news worth relating from southern California. Everyone except for Liz who scurried down to check out the boat house and the dock.
Food was ready and Tori stood at the railing, yelling, "Liz! C'mon up! Dinner's ready!'
The girl waved but didn't turn around. Jade came up and yelled, "THREE! TWO! ONE!"
The teen started to sprint up the yard before 'One'.
After dinner, as the evening cooled, the group moved into the family room. Naturally, it looked like a north woods lodge.
The limo was still waiting to take the gang back to the last ferry of the evening and on to Vancouver - the driver shared their dinner as he waited. Liz managed to finagle an invitation from Phoebe to stay over at their house.
"Stay out of trouble! Mind your manners!" Jade warned.
"Remember, all of this stuff is Uncle Beck's and not to be played with. Okay?" Tori confirmed.
"Mom, I'm not six anymore…" Liz whined in annoyance before her mothers each pecked her on the top of her head.
Phoebe showed Liz her room, it was really Beck's home office. A large, wood-lined room that took up over two-thirds of the third floor. Dormer windows opened onto small balconies that looked out on the blackness of the strait and the widely scattered, distant lights of Vancouver Island. Around the walls were full bookcases. There was also a couple of free-standing glass cabinets with military paraphernalia on display. In one corner was a desk with a full computer workstation. Opposite that was a queen-sized bed.
"Beck would often fall asleep in here working on something," Phoebe explained. She didn't add that, since they'd gotten together, he never slept anywhere but by her side.
The next morning, when asked how she slept, Liz replied brightly, "Not bad. I was up for hours though. You have a lot of books on the Second World War. And the medals and stuff in the cabinet. The pictures on the walls…"
"A lot of that's my grandfather's," Beck explained as they had breakfast on the deck. "He was sixteen, still in high school but dropped out to fight in the war. His parents wouldn't give him permission to enlist so he hitch-hiked, hopped a freight train and managed to get to Hamilton where he lied about his age and ended up in the 2nd Canadian Infantry Division, 4th Canadian Infantry Brigade in the Royal Hamilton Light Infantry.
"Almost immediately after basic training, he was shipped overseas to England. Another further year of training, sometimes alongside the British commandos, followed. In August of 1942, they, along with other units of the Canadian Infantry, some American Rangers and Free French commandos attached to the British commandos, landed as a small assault force at Dieppe, France. There were around five thousand Canadian troops."
"What happened?" a wide-eyed Liz asked.
Beck shook his head, "The Germans were ready for them. They landed, took up positions, made some inroads towards Dieppe but were forced back to the sea. Nearly half the Canadian contingent was killed, wounded or captured. My grandfather spent nearly a year in a German stalag – a prisoner of war camp in northern Germany.
"He managed to escape, and with the help of the German Underground, the Dutch and French resistance forces, he was back in England a couple of months before D-day. But he was in no condition to participate. He rejoined the 2nd Canadian shortly after the breakout in the hedgerow country and later helped liberate Dieppe in September, 1944.
"After that, the 2nd went on to fight through the final push into Nazi Germany. Grandpa got hit in the arm by a small piece of shrapnel from a German 88 when they tried to cross the Rhine in March, 1945. That's the metal sliver in the small jar…
"In October, the division disbanded but Grandpa stayed as part of the occupation forces for another six months before he was able to rotate home and get his discharge. Then he married my grandmother," Beck concluded, showing Liz the framed picture of his grandparents' wedding in 1947.
"Wow!" Liz whispered. "You should make a movie about that…"
Beck suddenly grew silent and an idea began to form.
The Tonkin-Oliver wedding was a gorgeous affair. It was held in an outdoor chapel that looked out across the Strait to the fir-covered mountains on the mainland to the east. Andre stood up with Beck and Jade filled in for one of Phoebe's bride's maids who couldn't make the trip from Australia. Liz was again the ring bearer.
The reception was held at a bed and breakfast where the newlyweds would spend their first night. Down the road a few miles was another b and b for the wedding guests who were in from out of town.
As the newlyweds had friends and family from out of town and overseas, they opted to take their honeymoon the following week. However, they were incommunicado after their departure from the reception until the large dinner the following night.
Another few days were spent in Vancouver by the old LA crowd. Then Cat flew off to London to see her boyfriend. Andre had to leave later that day to assist on Beyonce's new release.
The following day, Liz got to see her whales. Phoebe and Beck took her and her mother on a whale-watching boat. When Jade was asked, she merely stared at Beck and asked, "What do you think?"
"Oh yeah, I guess so…"
"You guessed so? You know whales are only overgrown dolphins! No way in hell am I getting near those damned things again!"
"Why Ma?" Liz asked in all honesty.
Jade softened a bit and replied, "Maybe I'll tell you sometime…"
She never did. And the mystery of Jade and the dolphins remained a secret.
When they returned to the Hilton, they found Jade asleep with two large shopping bags next to her on the bed. Liz looked at her mom. Tori read the girl's expression and nodded.
Leaping onto the bed next to Jade, Liz yelled, "MA! IT WAS INCREDIBLE! I GOT TO ACTUALLY TOUCH A WHALE! AND THE WHALE BLEW WATER ALL OVER US! IT WAS SOOO COOL!"
Eyes opened narrowly as Jade said, in a low threatening voice, "Get off my bed and wash that whale snot off you right now…"
Leaning over, she kissed her mom's cheek then jumped off the bed. Jade wiped at her face, muttering, "Whale snot…"
Tori, Liz, Beck and Phoebe all laughed at the filmmaker's discomfort while Jade glared at them.
Two years before…
~~ The Senate Subcommittee hearings on infotainment given tentative approval for the merger of broadcast media with the internet by the end of the decade, joining the former cable television networks and the wireless media to the internet. This final unification would unite the internet, telephones, cable and broadcast media into a single home entertainment source. Broadcast TV would become another piece of entertainment history within five years, industry sources predict.
New York Senator Holly Harper, an opponent of the measure, claims it would place "all our communication eggs in one fragile basket." ~~
Going through a box of Liz's baby things, deciding what to give to charity and what to cherish for memories, Tori came across a high volume flash drive. Popping it into her laptop, she found it contained nearly a dozen songs that Jade had recorded as Tori sang their little girl to sleep.
A happy, nostalgic tear rolled down her cheek. So many wonderful memories of their baby as she grew up. And wonderful memories of Tori and Jade growing closer and closer.
By the fourth song, Tori had an inspiration…
The latest Tori Vega release, a two-disc set, was one of her best sellers yet. On-line sales were the highest for any release that year.
Disc one was a collection of studio recordings of various lullabies – some classics and some newer songs from various shows and movies. Too-ra-loo-ra-loo-ral actually made the pop charts and rested comfortably between fourth and seventh place for nearly a month – as it had for Bing Crosby in 1944. It stayed in the top 100 for several more months.
Disc two was a remastered copy of the original lullabies Jade recorded while Tori was singing them to little Lizzie.
The cover art was a masterful pastel drawing of one of Liz' baby pictures.
One year before…
~~ Representatives of the space agencies NASA, EuroSec and Roscosmos announced a joint effort to begin to minimize the amount of space junk in Earth orbit. James Reid, a NASA spokesman quoted from the combined statement, "The loss of two major telecommunications satellites transmitting between North America and Eurasia as well as the partial crippling of a Chinese weather satellite has prompted this action. As the majority of the junk in orbit is from earlier American and Soviet space traffic during the old Space Race, it is fitting that the United States and the Russian Republic take the lead in this cleanup effort.
"Other nations are invited to assist in this effort which will take several years and millions of dollars to accomplish…" ~~
As they did on most nights after dinner, Jade and Tori were sitting together on their back porch overlooking the in-ground pool. After they both became moderately successful, they bought an Art Deco style house that dated from the 1920s. Their further success allowed them to pay off the house and it was completely theirs now.
Jade said it reminded her of Karloff's house in The Black Cat. She even tried to talk Tori into digging out the basement more to match the old gun emplacement the movie-version house had been built upon. Naturally, Tori said no. Even when Jade used her best persuasive techniques in their bedroom.
Tori did give in on the hardwood floors and the black and white tiled floors for the bathrooms and kitchen. Jade clearly stated that any carpeting would have a life span shorter than a fruit fly.
The back yard sloped down slightly where a sturdy wooden fence blocked the much-steeper drop-off several yards further. Beyond was the expanse of Los Angeles on down to LA Harbor with Long Beach to the left and the Palo Verde Highlands to the right. The front of the house was set fairly well back from the high fence along the street, allowing them a modicum of privacy.
The evening of Tori's return home from her latest, international tour, found Jade and Tori sitting together on the back porch bench. Liz had headed off to her friend's house to work on a science project so the couple had some quiet time just for themselves.
"I'm so glad you're home. I missed being able to talk or even text you when you were on that European leg of the tour."
"Aw, you missed me, Jade?"
The still raven-haired woman sneered at her wife. "Don't push it, Vega. I also missed emailing & chatting with Kohler at Bavaria Film on our remake of the Doctor Caligari movie."
Tori stuck out her tongue and Jade kissed the tip, leading to more heated kissing before Tori forced them apart. "C'mon. I have an emergency. I hoped I'd find something in Europe but…"
"Every year it's an emergency…" Jade muttered, earning a scathing look from Tori.
"Well, if you don't want to help…" Tori started to rise from the porch bench. Jade pulled her back down.
Their daughter's fifteenth birthday was approaching and, as usual, ever since the girl hit her teens, Tori was frantic about what to get Liz. And, every year, if their schedules allowed, she convinced Jade to help her come up with something. So out came the Photo Album…
It was a warm night and still bright out. Tori had brought the Photo Album (in caps as Jade thought of it) out with her. It was the one the focused on Tori's pregnancy and Liz' birthday and first six months. They paged through it and Jade lingered on the specific four that Tori loved as well. The four were taken within minutes of each other on a day when Tori was feeling sad and fat and ugly.
"I love these pictures," Jade said.
"You hated them at first. You threatened to impale Trina's PearPhone on a spike and then her head on another."
"Too Game of Thrones?" Jade asked innocently.
"Maybe a little," Tori nodded.
"Still, that would've been sweet," Jade stated, referring to an audition she had in the past.
"Not for me," Tori countered, knowing what Jade was referring to. "I'd've been without you for who knows how long. And your accent is too American."
"I can do a British accent!"
Back in '21, Jade was invited by a friend of hers to audition for a medium-size role for the long-running HBO Original Series ninth season which covered the first half of George R. R. Martin's seventh and final novel in his A Song of Fire and Ice series. What she loved about it was the gruesome way her character met her end near the end of that season's run.
However, when Jade was offered the part and learned more about what was involved, she turned the role down. Not only would she be in Europe for over six months but, more importantly for Jade and her relationship with Tori, there was at least one full frontal nude scene that would lead to a love scene with one of the villainous Greyjoys of the Iron Islands. As far as the former Goth was concerned, only two people would ever see her naked – Tori and her doctor. And only one of those two would ever make love to her – and that was never staged.
~end long-term flashback~
~~ …the proposal drafted by Representative Holly Harper, that would repeal the previous mandate to fuse broadcast networks with the internet, passed the House subcommittee. It is expected to pass in the House and Senate. President Wendy Davis has already announced she will sign the bill if it comes to her desk.
In other news, the three-day old riot at the Pelican Bay Supermax was finally quelled. Two guards were killed at the outset of the uprising, eight prisoners were killed during the course of the siege of…~~
"Jade, Liz is asking about her father again."
"Well, we can't keep putting her off. She's old enough to handle the truth."
Tori raised a concerned eyebrow, "Are you sure?"
"I think so. After dinner, we'll tell her together."
"Thanks sweetie," Tori said with a soft kiss.
After eating very little at dinner due to nerves over the upcoming talk, Tori led her women into the family room. She took a seat on the sofa beside Jade. Liz was sitting in the matching seat off to the side. The teen could see that her mothers were reluctant to start so she decided to. "Uhm, Mom... Who is my father?"
Sitting silently, Tori started to twist her hands together as she stared down at the coffee table set between the sofa and the large entertainment center. Jade reached over and gently held her wife's hands, saying, "Well... It's an ugly story, kid. We wanted to be sure you were ready to hear it. Are you?"
"Yes," Liz acknowledged. Inside she was nervous about what was coming. "Is that why you didn't tell me before, Ma?" Jade nodded. "So... Um, I'm not gonna like this, I guess."
Jade shook her head, her hand still holding Tori's hands. She glanced over and saw the brunette's eyes were watering. "Babe, I got this."
Tori shook her head. "No! Liz deserves to hear it from me. Thank you though." Tori looked over at Jade then across to her daughter. "See? This is why I love your mother so much. From the beginning..."
"Hey! Truth time. Your mother and I didn't get along for a while. From the day she started at Hollywood Arts. But, she kept at me to become my friend. It irritated the hell out of me and made me push back even harder. Tell her what you thought I was gonna do when I gave you a ride to school..."
"Jade, sweetie, I always liked you. Well, after the stage-fighting incident. But we're getting away from the point."
Jade smiled apologetically. "Sorry, I was trying to give you an out..."
"No. We need to discuss this. Liz deserves to know."
Liz asked, "C'mon… Know what?"
Tori took a deep breath and started, "This will be hard. I'll need your mom to help me through this but I need to tell you." She looked at Jade again and continued, "We haven't really talked about this since...around the time you were born.
"When I was only a little older than you, I went to a party with Jade, Uncle Beck, Uncle Andre and Aunt Cat."
"And Robbie..." Jade muttered, her teeth clenched.
"Robbie who?" Liz asked.
"See, I got into the cool gang at school when I started. You know all of them except for Robbie Shapiro. He was… We all thought he was a little weird. Carried around a puppet and had it talk like some street-smart ass."
"I always hated that damned thing," Jade interjected.
"Then, after a year at Hollywood Arts, I met a guy who I had thought was the One. But your Aunt Carly came down from Seattle - that's when we met - and told me she was dating him too. He was cheating on both of us at the same time. We embarrassed him on Carly's webshow at Kenan Thompson's house and I thought that was that.
"Turns out I was very wrong.
"It was our junior year and we had just finished fall mid-terms so we all needed to blow off steam. A party at Jeannie's house seemed perfect. There was alcohol at this party. I wanted to fit in and I had a cup of punch. I had another. Then I woke up in a bedroom upstairs. I was in pain and I realized I was naked. Steven, the cheater, was sitting on the bed with a nasty smile. He 'complimented' me on how good I was. It was then I finally realized what had happened. He had sex with me." Tori took another deep breath, "And I was still a virgin until then. As old-fashioned as it sounds, I had been waiting for the right guy. A few months before I thought that was Steven. He wasn't but he got..."
Tori paused again and realized she was fixated on the coffee table even as tears started to stream down her cheeks. Roughly wiping her eyes, she forced herself to look at Liz who had a horrified look on her face.
"You were raped?" Tori nodded, her eyes dropping again. Jade nodded as well. "So this asshole is my..."
"Wait. I..." Tori closed her eyes tightly. "He told me I was a lot of fun for him and his friends. And they might want to party again. I was horrified but I managed to tell him to fu... I told him to get lost. He shook his head and said it wasn't going to happen then showed me some pictures on his PearPhone. I only saw a few then I..."
When Tori stopped and shuddered, Jade took over. "He raped your mother. And so did two other basta...two other creeps. But, what your mother didn't realize at the time was that she was obviously unconscious in the pictures. So even while he tried to force your mom to be his...sex slave, he really couldn't prove what he said about her wanting it.
"But Tori was in shock and didn't realize what she was seeing," Jade anticipated her daughter's question. "I know, and so do you, that she would've figured it out if he gave her half a chance. Which he didn't. And he threatened to send the pictures to everyone to... Well, you know. That sexting incident with that Northridge girl last month? This would've been a thousand times worse."
Liz nodded in understanding. "So, where were you, Ma?"
"I was downstairs with Beck. We had broken up a while before but were talking about... It doesn't matter. I wasn't with her and I wasn't expecting anything to happen. We'd been to parties at this place before and they were all fun."
In a quiet, voice full of shame, Jade looked at her woman and said, "I…had no idea…"
Tori held her hand and whispered, "I know sweetie."
"So, what happened? Did you go to Grandpa? Or another cop?"
Shaking her head, Tori replied, "No. I was too ashamed. I was actually starting to believe Steven's line of bullsh... I was scared, embarrassed, angry at myself and felt absolutely worthless. I wanted to crawl into a hole and die.
"The next day, Saturday, I stayed in bed and cried all day. Your grandmother knew something was wrong and I did try to tell her but all I could get out was 'Steven'. When I couldn't say anything else, she just thought I was still upset about his cheating. Sunday was more of the same but my tears were finally done. Being so low, Mom agreed when I wanted to stay home the next day sick.
"By the time I went back to school on Tuesday, I tried to pretend everything was okay. The party was old news so I didn't have to worry about having to talk about it. Jade, Beck, Andre and Cat were all normal. Robbie was acting weirder but I didn't think anything about it."
"Yeah, he was stranger than normal on Monday too," Jade added.
"Why? And why haven't I ever met him?"
Rather than answer her directly, Tori said, "I tried to pretend that nothing happened. Steven never called and I thought maybe I could actually put it all behind me. Then..."
Liz seemed to know what was coming and was scared. Tori was again feeling ashamed and violated. And Jade was again almost homicidal in her desire to get back at the men who caused all this. The three sat in silence, each absorbed in their own thoughts for several long moments.
Clearing her throat, Tori continued. "I was actually getting to the point where I didn't think about it for almost ten minutes at a time so I knew I could eventually bury it deep in my memory. But I did make excuses whenever there was a party. I passed on two..." She glanced at Jade shook her head. "Three?" Jade nodded. "Okay, I passed on three parties. And Aunt Trina wanted to have a party at our house but I managed to talk her out of it."
"Really? I didn't know about that," Jade said.
"Well, it's not like she'd've invited you," Tori said.
"True. How did you talk her out of it?"
"I don't remember. Something about an audition on the following Monday I think. Made her decide to rest up instead."
"Clever," Jade said, admiration in her voice.
"Thanks, sweetie. Anyway, almost a month after the party, I missed my period. I got Trina to take me to CVS - I told your aunt I needed makeup and she took me, no questions asked. I did buy some lipstick, just to cover myself. But, the main reason I went to the drug store was for a few home pregnancy kits.
"Once I got her started shopping, Trina wanted to go to the mall and some other stores but I insisted she take me home first. Again, I don't remember exactly how I did it but..."
"But you're delaying the story," Liz observed.
"Smart girl," Jade announced proudly.
Despite all the horrid memories that were being dredged up, Tori couldn't help but give her a small smile. Then she continued, "I took all three tests and every single one showed I was pregnant. I was... Oh my god...I never felt so low in my life. So worthless…"
Tori reached out to Liz and the teen took her hand, squeezing reassuringly. "Honey, please understand. I love you and I haven't once regretted having you in my life. I never thought my life would be as good as it is - not without you. I know it wouldn't. But, at that time, I was only seventeen and had my entire life ahead of me. I wanted to be a singer and maybe an actress. And all I saw were my dreams crashing down around me."
Liz got up and sat between her mothers, still holding Tori's hand and taking Jade's in her other hand. "I think I understand, Mom. It's okay. I know you and Ma love me and I love you both too."
Tori choked back a sob and hugged her beautiful girl. Jade, trying to force tears back, wrapped her arms around both her gals.
"So, this Steven Carson is my dad?"
Tori shook her head. "I'm not sure. I... The night I found out I was pregnant, I was at the lowest point in my entire life. I went out and just started walking. I don't remember where I went or anything. But, after several hours, I found myself outside Jade's house.
"Your Ma and I weren't friends. She barely tolerated me then."
"And still do," Jade cut in, trying to lighten the mood.
Tori gave another small smile. "I knocked on the door and..."
Jade took over the story then and related the next incidents, including her quasi-legal method of getting the needed evidence.
"So, three men...?" Liz asked, the horror she felt at her mother's ordeal grew exponentially at this last piece of news.
"Yes. All three were convicted and were locked up. Your mother and I never even had to take the stand.
"By the way, one of them was a casualty up at Pelican Bay. No loss to humanity there."
"As to who your father is," Tori said, "I never wanted to know. And once you were born, all I knew was that you were my daughter. Mine! No one else's." Tori smiled at Jade, "Until your Ma stepped in and took over."
"Took over?! Why I..."
"Sorry, hon. I never wanted to know who was responsible. I wanted you all to myself. And I didn't want to gratify any of them with the knowledge that he, whichever he it is, has a daughter.
"But, if you want to know, I understand. I'll make arrangements to get a DNA test and..."
"No!" Liz declared. "I don't want to know which of those bastards did that to you. I don't want to know what evil coward I share my genes with. I'm your daughter. And yours, Ma. That's all I need."
Tori felt relief flow up out of her gut and into the rest of her body. The same effect hit Jade and the two older women relaxed.
Liz kissed both mothers on their cheeks and said, "I'm glad you told me. And... I'm sorry I..."
"Elizabeth, you have nothing to be sorry about! You are the perfect example of a silver lining. You are the ninety-nine percent pure silver lining for both of us. Without you, your mother and I might not even be together. You brought us your love and light and helped us find the love we had, and have, for each other," Tori said in complete sincerity and love.
"How come only ninety-nine percent?" Liz mock whined.
Jade, hearing her wife's whine in the girl's voice, said, "'Cuz you're a teenager! Jeez, and I though you were pretty bright..."
Liz stuck her tongue out at her dark-haired mother as her parents laughed.
And, without realizing it, the three found their love for one another stronger than ever.
Another press conference was called. Again the entertainment media were well-represented. And the news outlets, intrigued by the serious tone of the conference announcement, sent reporters as well.
Tori came out, holding Jade's hand and Liz' hand. She needed the support of her family. She didn't think she could handle this if they weren't with her.
"Hi folks! Again, I have a statement so please hold any questions for later. I have something to tell that's…not easy for me. I've hidden it under the rug for years. Partly irrational fears of rejection on my part and what could happen to my family.
"Seventeen years ago, I was at a high school party. There was alcohol involved but…" Tori looked at Jade, who nodded. Then she glanced at Liz who smiled her support.
"I was drugged and…raped. Three boys, two still in the state judicial system and the other dead, were responsible. Fortunately, for me, my family was there to love and support me. Even when I revealed I was pregnant.
"Remember, I was only seventeen. At first, I was scared and alone and I had no idea who to turn to. Or what to do. I even contemplated suicide." Jade's eyes leapt to her wife and widened. Tori had never mentioned that to her before. "I went to Jade West's house, a girl who had been nothing at all like a friend to me since I'd met her. Fortunately, she took me in and began to help me heal. And my darling wife stayed by my side for every stage of the next year from facing my family and dear friends, who stayed by my side as well, to all the legal proceedings and on to the birth of our darling daughter.
"Now, many will ask why I kept quiet for so long. As I said, I had this irrational fear of some reprisal. Given how many rape victims are victimized even more in court, I feel that's understandable. But, and far more importantly, I wanted to shield my daughter while she was still a youngster. I finally told her the truth about what her father is and she understands.
"Because of that, I felt I had to come forward. Any woman who has been a victim of sexual assault needs to know what it took me well over a year to learn. You are not at fault. You were the victim. Please do not ever blame yourself for what happened. Thanks to my loving wife and daughter, I…"
Tori paused and choked back a small sob. Then she looked back at the gathered reporters, "Does anyone have any questions?"
"Do you know who the father is?" the Fox entertainment reported asked. Naturally, thought Jade. Had to be Fox News – fair and unbalanced.
"No. I never wanted to find out."
"What about your daughter? Doesn't she want to know?"
Tori looked at her daughter and smiled, "Liz?"
The teen stepped up to the mike, confident to speak publicly from her classes at HA, and simply said, "My 'father'? Screw him!"
She paused then added, "For what of that limp-dicked coward did to my mother, I hope he, whoever he is… Hell, I hope all of them rot in jail or hell for a long, long time…" The teen paused again and took a deep breath then added, "I'm sorry. You'll probably have to bleep that." Chuckles were heard around the room. "As far as I'm concerned, my only parents are right here beside me."
Tori and Jade both hugged Liz before the expected, practically stereotypical questions came and the pat answers were issued. After several minutes, Tori and Jade finally called a halt.
But the media had their sound bite when Liz Vega-West said, "My 'father'? Screw him!"
And, that night, at the West-Vega home, the three women had another long serious talk about the past.
"Jade, something's bothering you. What is it?" After being together for over sixteen years, Tori had learned the signs her wife was agitated.
"You have to ask?! Why the hell didn't you ever tell me about the suicide thing? I mean, Jeez! That's not just some trivial bit of nothing to drop. That's a fucking bomb. Sorry, Liz."
"It's okay Mom. And I agree. Even though I understand why you didn't tell me about the assault until I was old enough, why didn't you tell us that?"
Tori, sitting between her two women, grasped their hands and softly explained, "It was a dark few days for me. The rape was bad but then I found out I was pregnant… I thought about forcing a miscarriage or even an abortion. That last day before… That last day, I seriously thought about suicide. Then I found myself outside your house, Jade. When you took me in and started to help me, those options closed for me permanently. And, outside a few of my therapy sessions, I never mentioned suicide again."
"Still, why didn't you tell me?" Jade insisted.
"I was scared and vulnerable. You remember how bad off I was. And to mention that I had considered killing myself… When you became so caring, I was too embarrassed to admit that. I wanted to be strong like you. For you. And for you, little girl."
After the latest press conference, Jade and Tori were contacted by several production companies to film the story of their lives. This also happened shortly after their coming out press conference but they didn't feel it was the time, or the subject, they really wanted to endorse.
This time, though, the idea appealed to them but there was just something that was missing. None of the creative teams offered seemed to be what they wanted. There was always some suggestion that would alter the story. Tori and Jade were firm in their need to keep to the facts without any unnecessary dramatic flourishes.
A few days later, Jade realized they needed someone they trusted and knew cared about them to helm the production. She quickly texted Beck. His reply was enthusiastic and a multitude of related texts and emails flew between Vancouver and several people in LA. Before long, production was green-lit for Violated: The Tori Vega-Jade West Story.
Most of the principal casting was done with an eye to talent as well as physical resemblances to the principal characters. So far, the cast looked amazingly like their inspirations. Harper Thomas was a talented young African-American cast for Andre. Danny Desai, a Canadian who had a small role in the most recent attempt at a prequel for Battlestar Galactica, was cast for Beck. Trina was to be played by Megan Kleinman, a very funny young woman with some experience in TV as a guest on various Nickelodeon, Dingo and Disney teen shows.
Even though it was over a decade and a half since the incidents, Sikowitz and Lane, with a little makeup – mainly hair dye, would play themselves. Sikowitz was especially psyched to act on TV again. And Phoebe, who had at least a cameo in every one of Beck's shows or movies, would have a significant, if relatively small, role as Tori's therapist.
As the story progressed to the present day, it was planned that the real people would play themselves. Except, of course, for Robbie. Matthew Harris would play him as a teen and Jesse Eisenberg would do an uncredited cameo near the end as a favor to Beck and the girls (Tori and Jade supplied music, including a hit duet, for his latest movie).
The hold-ups were Jade and Tori. So far, neither felt that the auditions showed what they wanted. After pressure from Beck, they settled on one of the first to audition for Jade. A young actress, Chloe Woods, who resembled Jade and would be almost a dead-ringer for her once the light brown hair was dyed to a darker shade. Coincidentally, the role of Cat had already been filled by her close friend, Charlotte Patrice. Both had a fairly extensive resume of stage and film experience, given their relatively young ages.
Finally, Jade had a solution to the problem they were having casting Tori. Tori loved the idea and they passed it along to Beck during another in their latest video chat. "Of course! Why didn't I think of that?"
"It's all that cold up there in Canucklehead Land," Jade stated over their video chat. "Froze your brain, buddy boy."
"Jade!" Tori responded.
"Tori!" Jade teased.
"Girls!" Beck added with a laugh.
"Phoebe!" they all yelled when the lissome brunette appeared briefly behind her husband.
It didn't take any time to set up. And, just days before Liz' birthday, her parents asked, "How'd you like a screen test?"
"Of course!" Liz yelled. "For what?"
"A film Uncle Beck is working on. Maybe…"
Jade chimed in then, "I got you studio time tomorrow at 10 AM."
Both mothers yelled, "Happy Birthday!"
Liz squealed and hugged both of her mothers, Tori gave Jade a look that promised special num-nums that night. Inside, Jade's heart leapt and further down her body, she felt a different effect. Her bored expression belied the joy that flared through her.
"Ma, Mom. I'm… I'm not sure I can…"
Tori hugged her daughter saying, "You'll be fine. Just do your best."
"Ye-ah, don't think about the fact that your entire future may be up for grabs," Jade added as she stoked Liz' back.
"MOMS!" Liz laughed as Jade's ploy had the desired effect. When her parents yelled at each other like that, she couldn't help but laugh. Especially when Ma called Mom by her last name. Liz felt a lot more light-hearted when she was called for the test.
Still a little stiff at first, Liz quickly loosened up before the camera and did a marvelous reading for her birth mother's part. She played against Jade in a scene set shortly after Tori first came to Jade that long ago night.
When 'Tori' finally told 'Jade' what happened, in a quiet voice, Tori, standing off to the side, out of sight, suddenly found herself back in Jade's bedroom all those years before. Forcing herself back to the present, the lovely singer felt like she would burst with pride as Liz performed.
As her daughter started to cry for the test, Tori felt tears in her eyes too. She could see her wife's eyes were watery as Jade fought not to give in.
Beck was able to watch the screen test simultaneously as Liz performed. After the reading, Beck announced, "We have our Tori!"
The Vega-Wests danced together as Beck watched from twelve hundred miles away, a big smile on his face.
The dance dissolved into a group hug full of congratulations for the new actress and thanks to her mothers and uncle.
Then Tori pulled back. "She'll have to kiss that other girl…"
"Um, well…" Jade, for a change, was at a loss for words.
"She's just a little girl," Tori added, a stricken look on her face.
"Moms! It's okay. I've kissed a girl before. It's no big deal."
"What?! WHO?!" Jade demanded.
"Ma, it's okay. It was Alexandra. And we were just seeing what it was like."
"That's the trouble-maker from New York?" Tori asked.
"The chick from Greenwich Village?" Jade added.
"Moms, she's okay. She's not a… Never mind. She's my friend and we're both still straight. Although I don't know why that matters," Liz said,
Tori sobbed for a moment then replied, "Cause you're still our little girl…"
Liz just rolled her eyes. She knew her mothers would get over it. At least until the actual filming of the kiss.
Tori and Jade collaborated on the screenplay while simultaneously working on a rough draft of the novelization. They decided to tell the whole truth with a single exception. Jade's doctoring of Carson's PearPhone wallpaper was not mentioned. She worried that, even after all this time, a technicality like that could get the surviving rapist released from custody.
That was not a factor with Robbie. His mental state was too chaotic to be allowed outside the walls of a secure institution.
Location shooting took place at Hollywood Arts, including corridors, classrooms, rehearsal rooms, the Black Box Theater and the Asphalt Cafe. The current student body filled in for the 2012-2013 student body. Fortunately, the clothing styles weren't all that much different – the early 2010s were already retro.
The production team did replace the current lockers with the locker doors for the principals. A tradition at HA, all grads got to keep their locker doors after graduation, and the gang was no exception. Except for Robbie Shapiro's, which was found in an old store room at HA.
Other exteriors were shot at the West home and the Vega home as well as some establishing shots of the Los Angeles area – especially Hollywood and the Hollywood Hills.
Most of the interiors, except for the high school, were shot in sound stages at Bridge Studios in Burnaby, British Columbia. The kids were all given permission to miss school for this, as long as they kept up with their work. And Beck managed to corral a tutor to help them out when they weren't on set.
Tori was goo-goo eyed when she saw the set of her home. Except for the missing single wall to the right of the front door – the infamous fourth wall - and some of the angles, it was stunningly close to the house she grew up in. The set for Jade's house was accurate too but Jade affected a nonchalant way of appreciating the set. "That picture should be on that wall."
The cast worked together so well, it was like they had been friends for years, just like their adult counterparts. Liz became good friends with both Chloe and Charlotte. They, and the boys, invariably hung out together after the production day was over.
When the time came for Tori and Jade's first kiss to be staged, the girls were ready. Tori wanted to be anywhere but the studio. Jade, who didn't say as much, felt the same way.
The girls were set with Liz on the delivery bed and Chloe in scrubs. A spray bottle was used to simulate the sweaty, disheveled, post-delivery look Liz needed. A doll wrapped in a white blanket was held by Liz as the girls recited their dialogue – the shots of a real baby in Liz's arms were already shot and ready to be edited in.
Then Chloe leaned over and kissed Liz.
Tori gasped and looked away. Jade started to look at her young doppelganger in anger, thinking the kiss was too long.
But the kiss was sweet and simple. Just enough to show Tori and Jade's real feelings without being too titillating. Compared to some other girl-girl on-screen kisses, it was very tame.
And, compared to Jade and Tori's actual first kiss, it was practically a grandmotherly peck.
Back in their hotel suite with a view of downtown Vancouver, the 'old' married couple lay back on the king-sized bed. "That wasn't as bad as I thought," Tori said.
Jade laughed. "How would you know? You had your eyes screwed shut the whole time!"
"Well, I watched some of the preliminary rushes. You think we were that cute the first time?"
"No," Jade said simply.
"Nope. We were hot as hell!"
Seconds later, from the other bedroom of the suite came, "What's so funny?"
Principal photography was finished as well as most of the location work. Now was the beginning of post-production as the film was edited, scored and readied for release.
The cast had a big wrap party at the studio and then the cast went to a nearby dance club for the evening. Before long, the older members of the group ended up simply watching the younger members as they danced the night away.
"God, when did we get old?" Tori groaned.
"Some of us just got better," Jade sniped.
The next day, Liz bid a tearful goodbye to her co-stars. And she and Chloe held their embrace extra long. They had developed nearly as intense a friendship as her mothers had – before the older ones became lovers.
Several weeks after principal photography wrapped, the Vega-West girls (and one West-Vega of course) headed back to Vancouver to work with Beck and his team on the final version of the movie.
This time, the three Angelenos stayed with Beck and Phoebe at their home on Bowen Island. Since it was only the three of them, they were able to use the two guest rooms on the second floor.
Again, Liz spent time in Beck's study, looking at the old Second World War and Korean War memorabilia. She had watched a bunch of the movies that Beck had recommended when she showed a deeper interest in the Second World War.
She found the entire war fascinating. From the causes dating back to before the Napoleonic Wars to the end of the conflict and the beginning of the Cold War. The dynamics and the personalities were incredibly interesting to her. Liz searched eBay and Amazon for books and movies, if she couldn't find them at the mall or the used shop down on Colorado in San Gabriel.
The DVDs Liz had at home were, of course, already in Beck's collection. But Beck had nearly triple the number of classics in his collection.
A girl who loved the outdoors, Liz was frustrated when it rained for nearly a week while they were in Vancouver. She was somewhat mollified when Beck, Phoebe and her mothers sat with her and watched war movies with her - once they were back from the studio and the work they needed to do.
Unfortunately, some of the dialogue that had already been rerecorded, needed to be replaced. Liz hadn't synced her words with her lips on film. She apologized but no one wanted to hear it. As her moodier mother put it, "Don't sweat it, kiddo. Everyone does this. Even pros like DeNiro or Cyan Peters."
"Really?" Liz' eyes were wide in wonder that her mother knew one of her favorite new actresses as well as one of the all-time greats. Jade didn't really but she was tired of Liz feeling bad about something like this.
Meanwhile, Tori was working on the score for the movie. She had written the main theme, a lot of the incidental music and the lyrics for the closing theme – a duet she would naturally sing with Jade back in LA.
After a few days, the rain passed, the sound work was done and the music had already been sent to the studio orchestra to record. Tori arranged studio time in Hollywood with Andre for the song as he was engineering it as well as playing the keyboards.
All that was left was the publicity and the premier.
Another talk show circuit run with Tori and Jade. Of course, Liz was along too. The first show was Jimmy Kimmel's and she sat between her mothers, nervous as hell. But the butterflies disappeared when she got into the whole interview process and was soon joking with Kimmel and her moms.
"How is it having two moms?"
"Well, Jimmy, it's like living a Lifetime movie…" As the audience laughed, her eyes bugged out and she added, "I swear I didn't mean to try to plug the movie."
After that show, Jade and Tori allowed Liz to occupy the main chair next to the desk. They shared the couch and beamed happily as Liz managed to charm and amuse Conan O'Brien who had become the grand old man of the late night shows, Jimmy Fallon, and the few other network talk shows that were still on. They even appeared on Mack Murphy's show – the first time since he was injured in a screwed up practical joke that left him in a body cast for several weeks.
They even broke Jade's old fogey barrier and were on Kenan Thompson's new CBS late night talk show – David Letterman had finally retired after thirty-five years in the business.
The first thing he said was, "Tori, you still have those adorable cheekbones! They're like…"
"Sugarplums I believe you called them," Tori smiled. They had the same conversation on the set of SNL a few years before when he was still a regular.
"And so do you, sweetheart," Kenan said to Liz. "You look just like your mother when we exposed Steven the Cheater on iCarly." Seeing the half-hearted smiles, he quickly changed subjects.
In a joking voice he asked, "So Liz, how is it being the daughter of two famous artists? Are you spoiled rotten?"
"No. And life as a celebrity kid is not as glamorous as it sounds. I still have to help out around the house."
"So you have chores?"
"Yeah. And if I don't get 'em done, Ma is all over me."
Jade nodded sagely.
"So you're not a typical spoiled rotten Hollywood kid?"
"Hell no! I hate those types. And there are plenty at school. Like I said, I have to work around the house, helping when Ma cooks and when Mom cleans."
"Now, let me get this straight, Ma is Jade? And Mom is Tori?"
"Do you at least get an allowance?"
"I guess you could call it that."
"Hey!" Jade interjected. "You do alright!"
Liz laughed, "Yeah, I do okay. But, I do have to work for it. The only chore I don't have to do is the yard. It's too big and they don't trust me on the riding mower…"
"You don't have a yard service?"
Tori leaned forward, "We do, Kenan. She's great at pulling your leg."
Again, Jade chimed in, "Yeah, she had my better half so hood-winked once that poor Tor was walking on a slant for a week until her leg retracted to it's normal length…"
With a laugh, Kenan went on, "So, you all share the household work. Who's the better cook, cleaner, laundry expert and grocery shopper?"
Tori took this one. "Jade's the best cook. The only one really."
"She can't even boil water right," Jade interjected.
"Yeah, I'm a mess in the kitchen and Liz isn't much better. She and Liz handle the groceries too. I'm a much better cleaner and I take care of the laundry 'cuz she never sorts. Once, when Liz was still a baby, my tidy whitey undies came out gray when Jade washed them with her new black jeans."
"Hey, they still looked good on you," Jade said. Tori leaned towards Jade and kissed her softly. The audience wooed, and Liz turned a bright red.
"Moms! Please!" Liz looked suitably shocked at her parents' pseudo-PDA even as the audience clapped.
While the buzz around the show was about the same-sex kiss shared by 'Tori' and 'Jade', the reviewers were almost all in agreement that the most powerful scene was early in the show when Tori came to Jade. And the most meaningful part of the movie was the end with the real-life people appearing on camera with their young counterparts to speak out about the subject. They all stood together with their younger counterparts as they took turns speaking to the audience.
The film had a three-hour running time, including commercial breaks. The first part showed the teens at Hollywood Arts. It was easily the funniest portion of the film. From that point, the movie became darker before lightening up again. Half of the balance of the show was the first year, from Tori appearing on Jade's doorstep to Liz's birth. The last section followed the next seventeen years with snippets of the real press conferences, a video of their wedding, some of Tori's concert footage and actual behind-the-scenes film clips of Jade's movie career. The film ended with the scene where Tori and Jade told Liz (who played herself) of the rape and then the press conference. The closing scene had the three of them on the back porch, watching the lights of the LA Basin come up at twilight.
Then the scene that the critics had cited as the most important. And one rape crisis groups around the country embraced.
Tori, with her arm around Liz's shoulder, started: "Rape, at any age, is a violent assault on a person. If you've been raped, you know how debased and violated you feel. How weak and how worthless. You're sure the world knows what happened and is pointing fingers at you behind your back."
Liz's turn and she added, "Mom is right. If you have been raped, or if you become a victim of rape, remember that you are the victim. You have been abused but you are not the one who should feel blame or guilt for it. You should take action."
Jade, standing next to Chloe with her hand on the girl's shoulder, continued, "Hopefully you will have people to help you, support you. People you can lean on for comfort and to try to bring peace to your soul. They don't have to be family but friends you can rely on. "
Chloe smiled softly and stated, "Never forget that you are not alone in this. Others are affected and will want to help. Accept that and take back what is yours."
Cat was next, her arm tight around Charlotte: "Stand up and fight for what's right. If you know who assaulted you, report to the police or someone you trust. But please do not just try to ignore it and pretend it'll go away."
Charlotte took over, "With rape, silence is not golden. Don't reward the rapist. Make him pay. And regain your dignity."
Trina, with Megan right beside her, took over, "If you have already been victimized, you can still fight back. Go to your family, your friends, a teacher, the cops. Whoever you trust. And fight back."
Megan nodded, "Remember, a rapist is never a one-time offender and he's probably hurt others too. And will continue to hurt others until someone stops him. You can be that someone."
Next was Andre and Harper Thomas, "Hey, don't let other people tell you what to do. Stand up for your rights and take back what's yours. Don't let the criminal win."
Harper agreed, "Don't let the rapist win. Criminals should pay for their crimes. Always."
Finally, with Danny Desai beside him, Beck's turn came, "Don't enable your rapist to assault and hurt others. He will. He won't want to stop."
Danny had the shortest statement but possibly the most important. "Fight back. Take back your self-respect that he stole from you."
Tori, Jade and Liz again spoke up, "Take back your life!"
"Take back your life!" the entire cast echoed.
That simple line became a new rallying cry for rape crisis centers and counsellors around the country.
Lifetime was scheduled to air the movie but the way the internet was buzzing about the movie caused some changes. For the most part, the hype was positive and expectant. Some few conservative voices expressed concern for the content. Of course, that mini-controversy spurred even more interest.
NBC, desperate for a ratings coup and well-aware of the interest this movie had created, took the premier from Lifetime (which NBCUniversal had reacquired from Disney a few years before). Lifetime complained but the execs at 30 Rockefeller Center stood firm. Universal backed NBC but acquiesced to some of Lifetime's other demands in an attempt to keep harmony within the corporate family.
And, the night of the premier proved them right, for once. The ratings for NBC for the three-hour time slot were the best they'd seen in well over a decade. In point of fact, the ratings were the best in nearly a decade for any of the Big 4 broadcast networks. Doubly impressive given the film was made-for-TV which, traditionally, didn't do so well for any broadcast network.
The following weekend, Lifetime would air the movie as a two-parter on Saturday and Sunday night. Even though it would've already been seen on NBC by a large portion of the viewing audience, Lifetime ended up with a huge ratings hit.
That same weekend, the movie was scheduled to premier on the UK's Universal Channel and Universal Channel Australia. Soon after, it was dubbed with the appropriate language and released in Europe, Asia, the Middle East and Latin America.
With Tori and Jade's families, the old HA gang and their significant others were gathered at the Black Cat house in the Hollywood Hills. That was Jade's name for their home. She even got two black cats to back up her claim. They were named Boris and Bela.
Tori and Jade had the whole thing catered. And they made sure to have plenty of booze in case the show was a total disaster. Instead, champagne was popped and all of them, even the young members of the cast who lived in LA, were able to drink a glass to toast their success.
An hour after the premier, Beck's cell phone rang. As it was noisy in the media room, he stepped out into the hallway to take the call.
"WOO-HOO!" echoed through the house, silencing everyone else. Phoebe rushed out to check on her husband, followed by everyone else. They found him standing in the hall, clutching his phone tightly in both hands with a huge grin on his face.
"What is it sweetie?" Phoebe asked, a trace of worry in her voice.
"That was… Holy shit! That was Steven Spielberg! He just watched our movie and wants to produce my movie. The one about Grandpa! And he thinks he can get Tom Hanks to executive produce too."
Phoebe pulled him into an embrace, kissing her husband. Her heart almost burst with pride over the news.
"Wow!" "Congratulations man!" "That's awesome news, Beck!" "Way to go Uncle Beck!"
As the congratulations died, Beck said, "He said he would make a point of not changing anything. He wants the story done as it really happened.
"Tori, Jade, Liz… I don't know if this would've been possible without you. I don't know how to thank you."
Tori smiled and hugged her old friend. "It was really Liz who pushed you. Liz and Phoebe."
Beck nodded and looked at his god-daughter. "Liz, you're pretty close to my grandmother's age during the war. Wanna make another movie?"
A week before filming was to begin on Dieppe: A Survivor's Tale, Jade and Tori were in the kitchen finishing dinner preparations.
"Jade, do you think we're making a mistake?"
"Well, I don't want Liz to become like those other starlets. You know, Lohan, Spears and Bynes. Too much fame too quickly so it goes to her head. I don't want her to become self-centered and..."
"Don't worry. She won't. I'll make sure of it."
Cocking her eyebrow, Jade stared at her mate.
"I mean, she's getting all this attention and..."
"Hang on, Tor. I'll prove it…"
Shouting towards the stairs, Jade yelled, "THE TABLE WON'T SET ITSELF!
"THREE! DON'T LET ME GET TO ONE!
Feet started to pound down the stairs and Jade smugly smiled at Tori, "You were saying?"