In the few moments in which he was quiet I feared that this would just be a déjà vu of Saturday and he would run away again. Only when he let out a defeated sigh and I heard him say the next words, did a relieved smile found its way on my face.
"Fine then. Explain."
"Alright, um…" My smile faltered, lips pressed together and brows scrunched when I realized that I had no idea where or how to start. I really hadn't thought this through… and Beck's empty stare didn't really help either. I cleared my throat and hesitantly smiled at him in hope that it would buy me a little more time but all it did was make Beck's frown deepen.
"Are you just going to stare and smile at me? That doesn't really explain anything."
"No, no I… How about we sit?" I asked and motioned to the staircase. With a deep intake of breath Beck turned and instead sat on the floor in front of the row of lockers next to the door, forearms leaning on his knees and hands locked. I sighed, walked over to him and let my eyes run over the locker Beck sat under, spoons and violet balls decorating the orange metal door. For a second I forgot about Beck and wondered what's the story behind that. Why spoons? Why the little violet balls? It didn't make any sense!
Only reluctantly I tore my gaze away from those spoons and focused my attention back on Beck. Oh, right! Beck. His narrowed eyes bore into mine as he looked up at me from his spot on the floor. "Are you…going to start talking soon?"
"I'm sorry, I'm… yeah." Feeling my cheeks heat up, I sat down next to him. I placed my bag next to me, took a deep breath and willed my stomach to stop churning when I looked at Beck. "So… where do you want me to start?"
He shrugged, his face staying blank. "At the beginning."
I nodded. The beginning. Alright. Swallowing the sudden lump in my throat, I began. "I met Jade in grade school… in second grade. She saved me from these two boys who… were picking on me. They were pulling at my hair and shoving me and… I was wailing like a baby." I quietly laughed as I looked down into my lap. "Jade showed up and told them that her dad's a lawyer and could put them in jail if they wouldn't stop teasing me. They actually believed her and ran away. From that day on Jade and I were inseparable."
"And you were like… how old? Seven?"
"And you were in love with her. At seven years old." When I looked up at him I saw that his face mirrored the doubt that I had noticed in his voice.
"I didn't know then, of course. But she was the only one I ever wanted to play with and be with and… I just felt that there was something different. I told my parents that I wanted to marry her. Looking back, I think that… yeah, I've been in love with her from pretty early on.
"Anyway, I… Jade became my best friend. Everything was great until her parents got a divorce." I stopped, my face morphing into a deep frown as I watched my fingers fiddle with each other. "I'll never forget the way I felt when I watched that cab drive down the street, Jade and her mom in it… on their way to the airport. It was so, so… horrible. It hurt so much to let her go." God, seriously Tori, get a grip on yourself! I cleared my throat and swallowed another lump. "Long story short, one day Jade decided that she didn't want to talk to me anymore. She stopped writing, wouldn't accept my calls… And I-"
"Wait." I looked up when Beck's voice interrupted me and saw him looking at me, eyes a little softer than before. "Why didn't she want to talk to you anymore? What happened?"
I shrugged and shook my head. "Nothing happened. I didn't know why she did what she did. That's what made it so much harder to accept it. But eventually… I came to terms with it, as hard as it was. Then, on my first day here at Hollywood Arts I saw Jade again and… finally found out why she stopped talking to me. She thought it would be easier that way… But it wasn't."
"I see…" Both of us grew quiet for a minute, before Beck quietly started speaking. "Jade told me she couldn't stand you when you started here." Wow. Thanks Jade. "I couldn't understand why and at first I thought she was just… jealous of you. But after a couple of days I noticed she wasn't… I had a feeling she was keeping something from me. But I let it go 'cause I knew it would just lead to a fight." The corners of his lips turned up slightly, his eyes staring into space. "At least now I know that she was acting that way 'cause she was in love with you. To cover up that she was cheating on me with you."
"No, that's not true. Jade never cheated on you. We didn't do anything when she was still with you, I swear to you. When you broke up with her-"
"You jumped at the chance," he said with a bitter chuckle that sounded really weird coming from this normally so friendly guy.
I frowned. "No, of course I didn't. She was devastated. I was there for her and helped her get over you. After a couple of weeks, we… we thought we'd just give it a try, you know? She wasn't your girlfriend anymore, you have no right to be mad at us for that."
He lowered his gaze again and let me continue. "After about… a week she broke up with me because she still wasn't over you." I watched him tense but he still preferred to watch his hands than look up at me. "I was so upset and… mad at her but…" Before wasting another thought about it I touched his forearm and gave him a gentle squeeze, urging him to look at me. Only when his gaze locked on mine did I continue. "She didn't do it to hurt me. She didn't want to hurt any of us. You still meant so much to her. Jade is a good person, Beck. I know you're upset. You can be. But don't think that Jade ever wanted to hurt you. I know she can be selfish sometimes… but at the end of the day she doesn't mean to be."
He hesitated before he asked, "And then? What then? What happened to make you get back together?" Even though he chose not to react to anything I said about Jade, I knew that he knew I was right. I don't think he ever believed that Jade deliberately wanted to hurt him. Yelling and accusing each other of things seemed to be their way of communicating in their relationship, which… couldn't have been very healthy. It was easy to blame her, I get that, I did the same thing when she broke up with me but at the end of the day, Jade just wanted to protect him. She didn't want to hurt him by not telling him about us, she didn't think about how kissing me in front of him and our friends would make him feel.
"Jade figured out what she wanted," I simply said, deciding to leave out the part with Noel. He didn't need to know that. A short silence followed Beck's quiet hum. I could see his façade crumble; eyes lost the thin veil of anger, his tense shoulders sagged and his voice grew soft.
"You mean she figured out that she wanted you."
I stayed silent. Beck suddenly let out a laugh, light and easy, and I pressed my lips together. "Jade and you," he murmured, smiling and shaking his head. Instead of elaborating, his smile dampened and he looked back at me. "So what happens now?"
I sent him a smile. "I think talking to Jade would be a good idea."
Beck chuckled and shook his head, his eyes falling into his lap. "No, that's not a good idea. Jade and I… we aren't really good at…" There was a pause in which he furrowed his eyebrows. "…talking."
"What is up with you two? How did you even manage to stay together for so long if you can't even talk to each other like normal people?"
"We can talk to each other like normal people, just… not right now."
I felt my lips stretch into a small smile. The way he glanced at me and shrugged his shoulder made him suddenly way more likeable to me. In that moment he wasn't the over-confident womanizer. He was just a guy who was unsure of himself, of the world he lived in right now. I knew talking to Jade could prove to be difficult at times, especially in delicate issues. She could get irrational and mad very easily when she didn't know what to do, when she was unsure of herself, and sometimes it wasn't easy to deal with the things she'd throw at your head – sometimes even literally. Maybe Beck was the same. Obviously he was way calmer and reasonable than Jade but confrontations, especially ones that involve his temperamental ex-girlfriend, seemed to not really be Beck's thing.
"I don't want to fight with her," he quietly admitted as the last bell of the day rang and the hallways slowly filled with people. "I'll talk to her eventually. But I think it's better if we both stay out of each other's way for a little bit. Just until I'm… actually okay with you two being together."
"No, don't get me wrong," he said before I could say anything, "I'm not really… thrilled about you and Jade but I'll accept it. And maybe someday I can be happy for you. But right now… I just can't. Even if Jade doesn't take me seriously, I'm not some heartless… robot and knowing that she chose you sucks. I'll make sure not to get in your way though. Because at the end of the day I want Jade to be happy."
"Good," I said with a nod and a smile, "That's what I want too."
"Yeah. Of course you do." He got to his feet, a loud sigh rushing out of his mouth as he swung his backpack over his shoulder and stuffed his hand into his pocket. His eyes were unreadable to me and I realized that the vulnerable Beck I saw only a couple of seconds ago was hidden again, behind that guard that I wished he wouldn't put up so often. "I'm gonna go home now." He hesitated before forcing a smile. "See you tomorrow."
"Yeah, of course. Have… a nice day." Have a nice day? Could you have said anything more stupid, Tori? Beck's lips twitched one last time before he walked away and out of the door, leaving me alone in the hallway with people… still staring at me. But it didn't matter anymore. The only people who mattered were our friends… and they all accepted us.
"Um… excuse me?"
I looked up from my spot on the floor and raised my eyebrows when my eyes fell on a dorky-looking blonde guy standing right in front of me. He pointed at the locker I was sitting under. "I have to get to my locker… Could you…?"
"Oh!" I scrambled to my feet, slinging my bag over my shoulder. "Of course, sorry." I smiled and watched him put in his combination, the locker door springing open soon after. Maybe I could ask him about the spo-
"What are you doing?"
Well, some other time. I turned around and came face to face with a very suspicious looking Jade. A bright smile spread across my lips. "Jade! Hey, come on, let's go!"
"I asked you a question…" She crossed her arms and leaned to the side to look past me at the blonde boy with the weird locker. "Who's that? Why were you staring at him?"
Rolling my eyes but keeping the smile on my face I grabbed her arm and began to walk with her out of the school building. "I wasn't staring at him, I was staring at his locker. But it doesn't matter. Guess what I did?"
"Well, by the way you're grinning I don't think it's something I will like very much."
"I talked to Beck."
"It went well," I defended myself and lightly slapped her arm, "Better than I expected it to go. He was… pretty reasonable."
We reached Jade's car but Jade didn't push the button that would allow us to get in, but instead stared at me with narrowed eyes. "He was reasonable?" she questioned doubtfully, arms crossing again. "What does that mean?"
I shrugged. "It means… that he's alright. Not happy but… alright." She looked thoughtful, a little doubtful still, but eventually she nodded and looked at her keys before pushing down the button on the little remote to unlock the doors. Without another word, nothing else was needed to be said about this topic, we got into the car. "So anyway," I started when I pulled the door shut and put my seatbelt on, "I wanted to talk to you about our prom again. I talked to Andre and-"
"There is no prom."
"There will be."
Jade sighed and started up the engine. "Why are you so desperate for our school to have a prom?"
"'Cause proms are fun! Why are you so against one?"
"Because," she said while slowly pulling out of the parking lot, "proms are stupid. I don't know how many times I have to tell you that before you finally get it."
I grew quiet then and kept my attention on the radio before a thought crossed my mind and I began to grin. If I couldn't convince her of how great a prom would be I could at least have a little fun. "We could even play our song…"
I glanced over to see her reaction; a furrow of her eyebrows as she kept her eyes on the street. "Our song…"
"Yeah. You know? The Lion King."
The sudden realization made her eyes widen and her hands grip the wheel tighter. I stifled a laugh. "No."
"That is our song! You can't change that!"
"I wrote you a perfectly romantic song and you want our song to be one that was sung by a monkey?"
"It's not about what I want," I argued with a grin, "It is what it is."
"I won't accept that. That will not be our song."
Even though I knew I was risking our lives by doing it, I began to sing the words I still remembered so clearly as loud as I could so the Pink song on the radio didn't have a chance to be heard. "Oh my God, shut up!" I laughed at the groan that followed her words and said, "It's your own fault, you know? You were the one who kissed me during that song."
A smirk suddenly shaped her lips. "Well, what can I say? Monkeys seem to turn me on. Prime example, you."
"What? Come on, keep singing, little monkey!"
Ugh. Darn her.
A/N: wikster: "Dirty" is not my style. You could take me to Disneyland! Or Whole Foods... :P
ScottyBgood: He could be there for standup comedy. I haven't put much thought into it and saw him more as an actor but I guess comedy could work too.