It's been almost two weeks since open mic night. I feel like I've settled quickly back into my relationship with Beck, though it isn't anything like it was before Tori. It has become more of a "need" now than a "want." A hint of desperation marked by possessiveness and jealousy. I do everything I can to make sure he isn't going to leave me. Like Jordan did. Like Tori did, if not actually. I haven't really spoken to anyone but Beck. He never asked about what occurred that drove me to his trailer that night. He never asked for any sort of explanation. For that I am grateful. Cat kept asking for my new number and I finally gave in, making sure she knew where we stand and that I still hold a grudge. Andre hasn't asked me personally, but earlier this week Beck told me that Andre had something important to tell me and asked him for my number.

It's a typical Friday. I sit next to Beck in Sikowitz's classroom, the last class of the day. I see Andre cautiously try to catch my attention across the room, but I don't let him. Sikowitz runs into the room shouting "drive by acting exercise!" We all sit up straight in our chairs. "You are all Dutch clog dancers sick with colds. Go!" And as we all clog and cough our way around the room I can't help but think that maybe my life could normalize again. I know it will take a while. But maybe someday I can get there. I'll never forget Jordan. I'll never forget Tori. But maybe I can find a life after pain. After destruction.

Andre makes his way over to to me. "I" cough "need" cough "to tell you" cough cough "something." Cough "I've been working" cough "on a" cough "song for" cough "the Showcase."

But he doesn't get a chance to finish.

"Let's talk," Sikowitz starts, "about subtext!" And class really begins.

Beck walks me to my locker after class.

"You really aren't performing tonight?" he asks me.

"No," I respond. "It's stupid."

"Well, I don't think so." Beck sounds slightly hurt. "Are you going to come watch me?"

"Sure," I say. He kisses me on my cheek and walks me out to the parking lot.

"Let's hang out afterward," he suggests.

"Yeah," I say.

I get home with enough time to eat something, take a shower, and put together a killer outfit. I don't see my mother at all, which has been the case for over a week. It's possible she's not even in town. I like it better this way.

I'm just about to leave the house when my phone dings, A text message from a number that isn't programmed into my phone.

"It's Andre. I need to talk to you before you come to the Showcase."

I ignore it but save the number so I'll know who it is the next time he texts me. I don't really know why I haven't spoken to him since he lent me his keyboard. He has been nothing but helpful and kind to me. But that's how Tori was in the beginning. So I need to push away for now. Just in case. But I'll push gently.

I find a spot in the Hollywood Arts parking lot and text Beck from my car. "Break a leg."

I walk up to the school and see Cat sitting out front.

"What are you doing, Cat?" I ask.

"I was waiting for you," she responds as she stands up.

"Why?" I ask. Cat adjusts her skirt and wipes some dust off the of it.

"Beck said you were coming and I didn't want you to be alone," she says.

"I'm fine," I spit back, rolling my eyes.

"Okay well now I'm here alone, so let's hang out," she says.

"Fine," I submit. We begin the walk to the auditorium. "Weren't you supposed to be performing?"

"My partner got sick!" Cat shouts out.

"Yeah," I mumble. "Sick of you, probably."

"What was that?" Cat inquires.

"Nothing," I lie.

"Oh, okay!" she says.

My phone dings. A text from Andre. "Are you coming tonight? I need to talk to you." Again I don't respond. I'm sure if it's actually important he'll find me in school on Monday. I think for a second about how he had already tried to get in touch with me, but push it out of my mind. I'm just not in the mood. I'm already going to have to spend the rest of the night with Cat. Throwing whatever else into it may be too much.

Cat and I walk into the auditorium and find seats near the back.

"I'm so excited!" Cat says. "This is going to be so fun."

Cat continues but I tune her out as I fall back into my thoughts. My mind goes straight to Tori but I try to change that. I'm just exhausted. She has consumed so much of me and I want to just move on. Just forget everything that happened. Pretend it was all just a dream.

Instead I think about the night Jordan was born. My dad was been out of town so it had just been me and my mother.

"Jade!" I had heard my mom shout from the living room. I had been in the bathroom, brushing my teeth. "Jade!"

"What?" I had groaned.

"Call a cab!" she had shouted, her voice louder than before.

"Why?" I had shouted back as I rinsed off my toothbrush and put it back in the medicine cabinet.

"I'm going into labor," my mother had said. She had appeared suddenly in the doorway of the bathroom, leaning against the frame with one arm.

I had jumped into action, ducking under my mother's arm and running toward the nearest phone. The cab had arrived fifteen minutes later and we made it to the hospital by ten o'clock.

It took almost two hours but when Jordan finally arrived I had stared at him for several minutes before making my decision. I thought then that I would have a friend forever. A little brother. Someone who would always be there for me. Who I could always be there for.

I realize now that I was wrong. I realize now that nothing can ever really last forever. It's heartbreaking, but it's true. It will never stop being heartbreaking. It will never stop hurting.

"What's going on?" Cat shouts out, interrupting my thoughts. I can hear muffled screams coming from backsage. My phone dings. A text from Beck. "Andre up next. You here?"

"Yeah." I write back. A minute later Andre and a few other musicians take the stage.

My phone dings again. I look down to see another text from Beck. "I love you." I stare at the screen, unsure.

I hear silence that seems to be going on for way too long. I briefly look up from my phone.

And the last thing I hear before my entire world spins out is a familiar voice.

"Here I am, once again. Feeling lost but now and then..."


AN:

And that's the end... Thank you all for taking this journey.