Originally, this was supposed to be the second part of the plot for "Stronger Than You Seem." But, after a lot of toying with the ideas, I decided it muddied the first story, and I thought it would stand alone as it's own story. I hope you agree.
This story is set two-three months after the epilogue of "Stronger Than You Seem." It is more Tori/Jade friendship focused (and Tori focused) than the last two stories. I took a bit of a break because the angst gets a little too heavy at times – but this story had already sort of formulated in my head – and it wanted to be written. I hope you enjoy reading it.
The Most She Ever Knew
They painted up your secrets
With the lies they told to you
And the least they ever gave you
Was the most you ever knew
Acoustic #3, The Goo Goo Dolls
Chapter 1 – It's Today
"What day is it?"
It's today," squeaked Piglet.
My favorite day," said Pooh."
― A.A. Milne
The tour had gone over extremely well – and had cemented Jade's staying power and ignited Tori's career. Her first album had gone to the top of the charts during the tour and she'd garnered three #1 hits from it before the summer ended. But by mid-August, they were all exhausted – and thrilled to be home in LA.
They had been home from the tour for less than a week – and most of that time was spent sleeping, eating non-restaurant food, and trying to get household things organized again. Jade's house was still a mess by her standards, which bothered her to no end – but it was slowly getting back to rights. The only person who wasn't almost finished unpacked was Cat. And Jade was about to hurry her along. It was seven on a Tuesday morning when Jade strode into her best friend's room, stepping over suitcases flung open and clothing strewn across the floor. "Cat, wake up," she said, sitting on the edge of the bed and nudging the other woman's shoulder.
"Too early," Cat moaned.
"We're not on tour anymore," Jade told her. "We don't have late shows - you are not sleeping until noon - especially not when my house is a mess. I asked you to unpack and pick up your suitcases yesterday." She paused for dramatic effect and her voice held a strain of annoyance. "They're still in the middle of the floor."
Cat ignored her, rolled over, and tried to pull the covers over her head. Jade was faster – she ripped the blankets from the bed and threw them at the foot. "Katarina Valentine – get out of bed and clean up this mess. Now. We have things to do today." Jade was using her dangerously low voice, so Cat crawled out of bed and went into the bathroom. She was dressed a few minutes later and began picking up the clothing that dotted her bedroom carpet.
Jade stayed to help, so the process took less than an hour - with most of the clothing going to the laundry or the dry cleaner. Cat followed her to the kitchen and sat tiredly at the Island, watching as Jade prepared breakfast.
"Good morning!" Violet cried, bounding down the stairs. Jade knew immediately that Beck had filled her in on their surprise plans for the day.
"Good morning, baby girl," Jade said, leaning down to kiss Violet as she neared. Tori was in the kitchen several minutes later and within ten, Beck appeared with Coral dressed and ready for the day. For their own sanity, they didn't tell Cat where they were going. Even Violet knew to keep the redhead out of the loop until they were so close that she couldn't be kept in the dark any longer. They had driven to Anaheim to spend the day in Disneyland. Cat began bouncing within ten minutes of the park; she knew the area all too well. Violet, who had been unfortunate enough to be sitting beside her in the back of Beck's SUV, started to complain.
"Aunt Kitty, stop it! Mom!"
"Cat, sit still or you'll make Violet sick," Jade told her, in a voice that stopped her best friend mid bounce. Sometimes, the brunette felt her best friend was her child – and needed more direction than her own children. But Cat did settle down immediately – and then looked witheringly at Violet, who simply smiled and looked out the window. Robbie and Andre were waiting for them at the front gate. Andre had brought his date for the day. Her name was Jill and she was a kindergarten teacher. She was nice enough and she tried immediately to befriend Violet, but the child – even at her young age – already knew the likelihood of seeing the woman again, so she smiled politely and answered her when prompted, but mostly ignored her.
An hour after they arrived, Jade twirled Violet along the path as they walked toward the next ride. The little girl giggled and ended the movement by hugging her mother. "Thank you for taking us to Disneyland," she said happily.
"You're welcome," Jade told her. She couldn't take credit. Tori had mentioned the day before that only a week remained before Violet was back in school – and that both she and Cat would probably be happy with a trip to the magical land of Disney. What Tori hadn't mentioned in the conversation was the fact that she, too, adored the place. "It was Aunt Tori's idea – you should thank her." Violet skipped ahead to where Tori was walking and talking to Andre and Jill. The little girl launched herself into Tori's arms. The woman lifted her with ease and carried her against her hip. Violet still liked to be carried – and Jade hadn't been able to do it in over a year. She was getting heavy, though, so Tori put her down after she was thanked and instead held her hand as they entered the line for "It's a Small World." Jade bit back a groan as Beck handed her Coral and picked up the backpack filled with supplies, leaving the stroller near the entrance.
"I hate this ride," Jade told him huffily.
"Babe, you hate most of these rides," he said with a smile. He kissed her lips. "But Violet and Cat love them." He looked her in the eye. "So suck it up." She glared at him in a joking manner and stomped ahead to catch up with their friends. Stomping in strappy black sandals didn't have the same effect as the combat boots of her youth but in Beck's eyes, she still looked as she had at sixteen; an absolutely beautiful force to be reckoned with.
Cat and Robbie were in the front because Cat refused to walk in any place with the name Disney attached. She ran everywhere. It was one time that Jade was glad that Robbie was always close to her best friend – because no one else had the desire or ability to keep up with her in the August heat. Coral smiled happily at the brightly colored set pieces surrounding them. She reached out toward a painted arch that spiraled above their heads and into the building and squealed. Jade tickled her lightly and she giggled.
She was a happy baby; quieter than Violet, but just as happy. She had been born a month early and had frightened everyone with several early bouts with allergies, flus, and pneumonia. Her immune system was not what could be described as "top notch," but she was getting better all the time. She had only suffered through one cold during their tour that summer – and one small cold in a three month time period was a record for the tot.
Jade slid onto the little boat between Cat and Beck. Robbie was on Cat's other side, trying to touch the water below them. Tori, Violet, Andre, and his girlfriend of the day sat in front of them. Coral watched in awe as they motored through from room to room, country to country. Violet loved it – but Coral was mesmerized.
It was a happy day. Violet and Coral were dressed up like princesses and had their pictures taken. Jade – despite her reluctance to do so – used a bit of clout to get Violet and Cat on The Mary Poppins float in the parade. Since Tori had cajoled Jade into doing it, she was voted the adult who had to supervise the expedition. So, she was also stuck on the float, draped in a frilly dress and sitting behind Violet on a moving carousel horse. She smiled the entire time, until they saw Jade in the crowd. Jade got a scowl. The brunette smirked back at Tori and waved happily to Violet, who was enjoying herself immensely.
By the time they arrived home, everyone was exhausted. Coral had missed all of her naps for the day and was running out of patience and steam. Luckily, she fell asleep as soon as they were in the car. Her sister soon followed. Beck carried Violet straight to her bedroom and Jade carried Coral, changing her diaper and trading her little sundress for pajamas. She slept through the entire ordeal and remained sleeping as her mother tucked her into her crib and turned on the baby monitor.
Walking back to her own bedroom, Jade saw Tori walking up from the kitchen with a cup of tea. She smiled. Tori glared slightly. "I can't believe you made me go on that float."
"It was your idea to get Violet and Cat into the parade," Jade reminded her with amusement. "And I certainly wasn't getting on that fake horse." Tori smiled and shook her head. It was true; that never would have happened.
"I think everyone had a nice time," she observed, before sipping her tea.
"Absolutely," Jade agreed. "Good idea. What did you think of Andre's new one?" She gestured to Tori's bedroom and they both walked in, sitting in the two arm chairs that sat comfortably near a bookcase. Tori thought through the question carefully before grimacing.
She shook her head. "I like her. She's nice, she's smart. She doesn't seem caught up on the money – but he's not serious about her." Jade looked like she wanted to say something but she held back, staring silently at the nearest window. "What?"
"You don't want to hear it."
"That's never stopped you before," Tori reminded her sarcastically. It was barely banter anymore. There was little they didn't share; but it didn't mean they could give up the pretenses and share openly. They had their games and their cues; they'd been perfected and civilized over the years, but Tori and Jade still had an interesting dynamic to their relationship.
Jade cocked her head to the side and sifted through her words carefully before saying anything. "Andre is never going to be serious about anyone until you give him the go-ahead."
"He doesn't need my permission," Tori insisted. "That's ridiculous."
"He parades potential girlfriends in front of you all the time – he's looking for your approval – permission – some kind of sign."
"He's a player. He always has been," Tori reminded her. "She's just another flavor of the week." She continued to sip her tea, eventually emptying the teal mug.
Jade raised her eyebrows and considered it. "He's a player alright – but I think he's getting tired of the game. He's not bringing home floozy dancers and half-witted actress hopefuls anymore. He brought a kindergarten teacher. She was nice – polished. She's not a one-night stand kind of woman. Beck said he was dropping her off at home last night – at her own apartment – before he went home – by himself. He's looking for something more serious."
Tori scoffed. "That's his business, not mine."
"Whatever you say, Vega." The surname as nickname only came out when Jade was indicating that Tori was wrong. She walked away, leaving the other woman confused, torn, and out of any ammunition – and tea, too.
Jade had one more trip – but she knew Cat was asleep. The other woman might sometimes act like a five year old, but she still had the relative energy of a thirty year old. Sure, an energetic thirty year old, but still – the day had exhausted her as it had everyone else. Satisfied that everyone was where they should be, Jade headed to her own room.
When she arrived in bed, her husband was waiting for her, looking exhausted – but happy. "Good day?" he asked, putting his arm around her.
"Good day," she agreed, resting her head on his chest and snuggling into his side. "'love you."
"I love you too," he answered, leaning down to plant a kiss on the top of her head. She sighed and relaxed against him, listening to his heartbeat until it lulled her to sleep.
I thought it would be good to start on a happy note – so this chapter was fluffy and did not yet introduce the conflict. But I hope you enjoyed the fluff. Let me know!