AN: I always feel like there is so much more going on with Cat and the Valentines than we get to see in the show. Honestly, if I were her friends, I'd be afraid to let her go home for fear her brother would accidentally hurt her ... but that's a story for another day ;-)
My goal was to make this story as in character as possible: Victorious had a good thing going, and I believe there is a ton of freedom within the confines of the show. That means this is all cannon (Jade and Beck are together, everyone else are just friends, and Robbie is crushing on Cat) With that, please enjoy!
"So, what's the deal with Cat's brother?" Tori Vega asked. Four sets of eyes flickered in Tori's direction, as Andre, Beck, Robbie, and Jade continued nonchalantly eating their lunches. Tori expanded, "Like today, Cat gets called out of school for a 'Family Emergency' and nobody seems terribly concerned. Everybody knows something was up with her brother, Cat always has crazy stories about him. So what gives?"
Andre shrugged, "Her brother is always fine… relatively. Crazy chizz happens to him all of the time and he never seems much the worse for it."
"So he's weird," Tori began, poking at her salad. "Is he, like, mentally messed up weird?"
Jade let out a sharp laugh. "Seriously? You've been here a year and you think her brother might just be 'acting up?' He's seriously batty!"
A little irked by Jade's comment, Tori returned, "Okaaay, I guess I've noticed some things. But Cat's a little odd too. Is it, like, a family thing? I've never met her parents: are they okay?"
"Oh yeah, they're completely chill," Beck said.
"Cat's brother has schizophrenia," Robbie added helpfully.
"Waaait," Tori hummed. "I watched this movie with Nancy McKeon, from Facts of Life, and she was schizophrenic, but it said that usually you get it when you're, like, in your early twenties, or something. Cat has way too many stories about her brother for this to be a recent thing."
Jade agreed, "Oh yeah, he's been batty since the first time I met Cat in middle school."
"Tori's right, though," Robbie cut in, waving his plastic fork from his chicken salad in the air. "I thought the same thing when I heard what was actually going on with her brother. Onset for most schizophrenics is in early adulthood, and Cat's brother has clearly had symptoms since he was a kid. Cat's got stories of him doing crazy things at her sixth birthday party, and he would've been, like, nine, then."
Andre nodded into his burrito, but it wasn't clear if he was responding to Robbie, or if he was outwardly attentive and inwardly focused. This wouldn't be the first time Andre had appeared invested in a conversation, only to holler, "I gotta write that sucka down!" and run off toward his keyboard locker. Beck and Jade seemed equally engaged in their food: only Tori seemed intrigued, and that was more of an audience than Robbie could usually expect.
"So I looked it up and there is such a thing as childhood schizophrenia, but it doesn't happen a whole lot. But here's the weird thing: doctors don't know what causes it, because normal schizophrenia seems to be, like, all genetic, but most kids that have it seem to come from situations where they didn't bond with adults when they were little. Like, there are a lot more kids with schizophrenia in foster homes and stuff than in your average household."
"That's weird," Jade drily commented before making a loud crunch from a long stem of celery.
Beck's brow crinkled. "No, that is weird. Like Andre said, the Valentines are totally normal. Mrs. Valentine always makes things for our bake-sales, and Mr. Valentine coached our little league team when we were kids."
Andre had even perked up and was participating. "Yeah, and the Valentines are super involved with their son. They're always takin' him to special doctors and stuff, and they've refused to let him stay in programs at hospitals where they wouldn't be allowed to stay with him."
"Oh, come on you guys, isn't it obvious?" Jade broke in. Everyone looked at her expectantly, and Jade relished their attention for a moment. Then she finished: "Cat and her brother are adopted! The Valentines could be the perfect parents, but Cat and her brother were already screwed up!"
Suddenly, all eyes were on Jade. "Whaa…?" Robbie queried.
"Adopted?" Andre murmured, eyes wide. "How didn't I know that?" he mused introspectively.
"How did you know that when we didn't?" Beck demanded of his girlfriend.
"Yeah, I feel like that might have come up at some point," Tori added, feeling a little bewildered.
"It's called being a friend," Jade smirked at Tori. "We talk about things." Beck glared at his girlfriend until she broke. "Fine. When we were in middle school, it was 'Adoption Awareness Month,' and the teacher asked kids to raise their hands if they knew someone who was adopted. Cat raised her hand, and when the teacher asked who she knew, Cat yelled, 'Me!'"
"That's it?" Andre asked.
"So you don't know anything else? Like when she was adopted, or why she was adopted?" Robbie added.
Eye rolls scattered across the other occupants of the table.
"Oh fine, like you all were adding so much to this conversation?" Jade groused.
"Wait a moment," Tori said, her face furrowed with thought and concern. "If Cat's brother has schizophrenia, and got it as a kid, then that means something hinky must've happened when he and Cat were little to mess them up."
"Most kids don't get adopted because their birth parents received 'Mommy and Daddy of the Year' awards." Jade smirked.
"Jade, stop being a gank!" "Jade, quit it!" Andre and Beck ground out together.
"Jade," Tori whined, "This is serious! Cat and her brother have been through something big! We're her friends, we should care!"
"Look, I'm all for happy fuzzy love as the next person, but one way or another, Cat is the girl we know now. Whatever happened before is done. It shouldn't make a difference in how we treat her. You don't know everything about us since you started at HA, and thank heaven, we don't know everything about you, but I can guarantee that some parts of our lives have reeked. But it doesn't matter."
"I hate to admit it," Beck sighed, while Jade threw him an angry glare, "But Jade's right. Cat is Cat. But personally, I appreciate having a little insight into why exactly Cat is Cat."
"I'm bored," Jade declared loudly.
Tori sighed, "Fine! What do you want to talk about?"
"What happened to your hair today? Did you hitchhike via tornado to get to school today?"
"Nooo …! Trina wouldn't quit using the straightner and it was just super windy today!"
"Good morning!" Cat laughed the next morning as she bounded up to Tori and Andre. "Look, look what I got yesterday!" Cat shoved her Pear-phone in front of them. On the screen was a picture of a fluffy gray and white striped kitten.
"Awww," Tori and Andre crooned in unison.
"Cat, he is so cute!" Tori gushed. "How did you get him?"
"Well, my brother climbed up a tree to get the neighbors' cat down, but the cat hissed, so my brother tried to bite her. The cat didn't like that, so she scratched him and jumped down, and my brother fell out of the tree and broke his collarbone. They thought he might have paralyzed himself, but he's okay. The neighbor felt bad, so he gave us one of the cat's kittens! My parents thought my brother might hurt it, so they gave the kitten to me! His name is Smudge-bucket!" Cat ended her story with a pleased giggling laugh.
"But your brother's good?" Andre asked.
"Oh, yeah, he's fine. He can't really move around and stuff, because of his collarbone, but my parents are giving him unlimited TV time until he's better, so he doesn't mind much."
"Your brother sure hurts himself a lot," Tori said, fishing for details.
"He sure does!" Cat returned, laughing at the end.
Robbie ran up, his face ashen, calling out, "Tori! Andre!" When he saw Cat, he started, his eyes darting to and fro.
"Hi Robbie!" Cat cried out. "See Smudge-buckets?" She asked, shoving her Pear-phone towards Robbie.
"That's nice, Cat," Robbie said absently. "Can I talk to Tori and Andre for a moment?"
Cat looked a little hurt, but said bravely, "Kay kay," and skipped off towards her locker.
"What's up, man?" Andre asked, noting Robbie's sickly appearance.
"Obviously you haven't seen the Slap yet, or you wouldn't be asking that!" Robbie cried out dramatically.
"Rob's been freaking out all morning," Rex added. "Me? I thought it was pretty funny stuff."
Robbie pulled up the Slap and then touched the highest trending post. He held it out for Tori and Andre to read. "Dear diary – Cat Valentine here. I almost succeeded in offing my brother today. When I do, nothing will stop me from being the most retarded Valentine of all! Note to self: find taller tree."
Tori's eyes grew wide and her hand flew up to cover her mouth. Andre grabbed the phone, and ground out, "Who do I need to kill?"
Robbie's anxiety was indicated by the quick speed of his words, "I don't know, it was posted anonymously. This is gonna kill Cat! She'll be so crushed!"
Suddenly Beck ran up, crying out, "Can you guys help me? Jade is seriously beating people up, and nothing I say will stop her!"
From across the room came a loud, "Eeeeeyaaah!" followed by a cry of pain and Sinjin's voice saying, "I'll check the IP server, I'll do it now!"
Andre glanced at Beck, "So ya'll already saw the post?"
Adding to the chaos was a group of laughing girls down the hallway, hooting and hollering after a small figure who was sobbing and making a break for the school's front doors. Cat flew past her friends, not even noticing them. Cat ran in between Jade, who had briefly released her grasp on Sinjin while she checked out the commotion, and a very confused Sinjin, fresh from his ninja-Jade attack. Upon seeing her friend, Jade called out, "Cat!" but the little red-head had already pushed through the doors and vanished around the corner of the school.
The noise continued, but Tori, Robbie, Andre, Beck, and Jade all froze, locking eyes, uncertain about their next move. After a moment's hesitation, Jade turned towards the doors and gave chase, followed closely by Beck. Andre turned to Robbie and Tori and said quickly, "I'll get Sikowitz, if you two run and find Lane."
Jade paused along the wall of the school, listening and thinking where Cat could have run. Beck caught up with her, but said nothing, giving his girlfriend the chance to think. She didn't have to think long: a loud, heartbroken sob came from the direction of Hollywood Arts' raised performance platform.
Jade slowly rounded the corner of the metal structure while gesturing for Beck to hang back. "Heeey, Cat," Jade crooned softly. Cat didn't even lift her head out of her arms, but her shoulders shook with each new sob. She seemed so small, with her back leaned against the thick, tall metal posts, her knees curled up to her chest, and her arms wrapped in a self hug. Her bright red hair stood as a stark contrast to the scene's bleak appearance.
"What's goin' on?" Jade prodded, wincing at how stupid she sounded. Jade clearly already knew what was going on. Cat just started crying louder.
"Okay, that was stupid," Jade continued, as she slowly took a seat next to Cat. "I know what's up: you saw that idiotic post on the Slap." Cat whimpered a yes and nodded her head into her arms. "Right. Cat, whoever wrote that is just some cold-hearted wazz-bucket who has no idea what they're talking about. They don't know you, they don't know your brother, and what they really need is to be dragged out into the street and run-over by a taco truck for being a grease-covered gank."
Cat's tears flowed faster and deep, guttural sobs filled the air. Jade caught Beck's eye from his hiding spot behind the metal pole, and Beck raised an eyebrow and nodded his head towards Cat. Jade made a small face back at Beck before scooping Cat into a hug and pulling her close. Of all things, the tender hug loosened Cat's lips:
"I- I don't understand how someone could post that!" Cat choked out through fresh tears. "It was so scary going to the hos- hospital and seeing my brother all still and unconscious. I could never hurt him! He scares me sometimes and I think he might hurt me, but why would someone say I tried to hurt him? I wasn't even there!" Here Cat stopped speaking to bury her head in Jade's arms and to sob. Jade's face had grown red and her jaw was clenched in anger. Even Jade's hands were tensed around Cat, and drawing into fists. Beck realized he needed to step in before Jade's temper made things worse.
"It's completely wrong, Cat." Cat didn't even seem disturbed that Beck had so suddenly appeared in her private conversation with Jade. "Whoever did that has to be a very angry, mean person. And don't get me wrong, I want to put the hurt on this punk for hurting you, but Cat, you were right: this person doesn't know you or your brother. If they did, they would have known how sweet you are and caring you are with your brother, and how much you love him. How you defend him, and support him. You're the best sister and you're the sweetest person, and just because this coward can write some crap out on his computer, that will never make what he writes the truth." Cat's cries had been reduced to sniffles as she listened to Beck's gentle words.
Jade spoke up. "And, as much as I hate to admit it, going crazy over this wonked-out post will just give that freak what he wants. If you really want to surprise him, you've gotta get up, shake it off, and remember that everything he wrote is a lie and that you're better than him."
Cat pulled back to look at Jade with a very serious, and very sad, face. "But it wasn't all lies. He was right about one thing: my brother's seriously messed up, and I'm pretty sure I am too."
Cat's soft-spoken admission was enough to bring Jade's anger instantly back. Jade's eyes blazed with so much fury that Cat jumped back, reaching for Beck.
"Who said you're messed up?" Jade asked coldly.
Cat was completely confused and quite afraid, assuming Jade's anger was directed towards her. Beck hissed at Jade while he smoothed Cat's hair, leaning down from where he stood to reach Cat from where she was clutching onto his legs: "You're scaring Cat!"
Cat warbled out uncertainly, "Everyone says it! You, Tori, Robbie! The mean kids in 'Singing R & B 101!' Sikowitz! Lane! My parents!"
Jade's anger wavered into uncertainty without a real target. "It's okay though," Cat said softly, noticing the change in Jade's demeanor. "It's true! I'm not like other people. I like happy things, and singing, and I get confused at how things like curling irons work, and I don't look before I cross the street, and I still watch Sesame Street, and eat the candy when we play poker! It's just that … well, I didn't know anyone else really minded me being messed up until today."
Cat slowly stood up and pushed away from Beck. She began to back away from Beck and Jade, who were silently watching her. "I'm just gonna… go home now, okay?" Cat slowly turned around and walked away, leaving Beck and Jade to their own thoughts, each thinking to themselves that something about the way that Cat had told them she was leaving seemed off, but neither realizing that "okay" left a different ring in the air than a light-hearted, "Kay kay."
Lunch was very quiet. Beck, Jade, Andre, Tori, and Robbie ate silently, no one wanting to bring up further details about the morning, nor feeling right changing the subject to light-hearted banter. Andre had been quick to find Sikowitz and update him on the situation, and their favorite acting teacher had turned pale and had taken Andre to Principle Helen's office to share the post. When they were there, Robbie and Tori arrived with Lane in tow, and the three adults had quickly decided that they would use all means at their disposal to uncover the offender. Lane had further promised that he would catch up with Cat, but even as Lane moved to the door, Beck and Jade had entered, bearing the news that Cat had gone home. With the teachers' plan decided and with further details to be discussed, the students were asked to attend their classes, and assured that if anything more was needed, the teachers could find them.
After suffering through separate classes during their second period, the five friends met up again outside of Sikowitz's classroom. They dully greeted each other and took their seats, and did not seem surprised when Sikowitz entered several minutes late. Sikowitz mumbled that he had, "lost track of time," without student comment. Just like the day before, the class had a sadly empty seat, but today the empty chair seemed to glare accusingly at each student. The lesson on Oedipus' insanity was less than soothing, and there was obvious tension in the air as Andre and Tori unconvincingly took the stage as two members of a Psych ward. The soft giggle throughout the rest of the class didn't help matters, and when Tori stormed out of class, red-faced with shining eyes, the entire class devolved into chattering conspiratorially. Sikowitz's eyes blazed as he snapped at the class to quit their yapping, told them to grow up, and then dismissed class half an hour early. No, the day was not going well.
Even now, at lunch, Tori could swear she felt a million eyes on their table, and Robbie was trying to keep from crying as he heard someone behind him say, "Yeah, the crazy homicidal chick sits with them!" Jade stood up and hollered menacingly, "I swear, I will slice up every one of you!"
Andre murmured, "Let's bail," picked up his food, and headed for the school doors. Robbie and Tori followed next, and Beck had to pull Jade along with him as she kept yelling at the staring faces, "What? You don't think I will?" Beck muttered, "Yes, but we don't need to find out."
Once inside, Andre and Tori plopped weakly onto the floor, but Jade began pacing like a caged animal. "We can't let them get away with this," Jade said, the agitation clear in her voice. "We can't let that stupid post change everything for Cat. If you'd just let me get my scissors-"
"No!" Beck said sharply. "Jade, people post stupid things all the time, and it sucks, and it sucks that this hurt Cat. She doesn't deserve it,"
"She's just so sweet," Robbie broke in plaintively.
"Yes," Beck resumed. "But my question is why are we all letting this bug us so much? Robbie posted a bunch of stupid things on us, but it didn't bum us out this much."
"And I am so sorry about that," Robbie added.
Tori answered, "It's just too close to home, ya know? We all know Cat isn't exactly normal. We all say stuff about her all the time. That she's sweet, but really cooky. It's almost like we could've written it!"
Andre nodded in agreement and Robbie hung his head. Jade faced away from the rest, her back towards Tori and her eyes studying a blank wall. Her tense shoulders spoke to her level of discomfort. After an uncomfortable silence enveloped the room, Andre said, "But just because we've done that kind of chizz doesn't mean we can't do better. I say we call Cat to hang out tonight and we just show her that we don't think there's anything wrong with her. I like that she's odd. Li'l Red ain't like anyone else. I don't think anyone else cares about anything so much as that girl does about everything. I know I don't ever want her to change."
Slowly every other head nodded. "I'll make the call," Robbie said.
Robbie dialed his phone and everyone waited in silence while it rang. "Hey, Cat!" Robbie said. "Listen, we were all going to hang at Tori's tonight, and we really want you to be there too. Can you come? Great! We'll see you tonight!" As Robbie hung up, he flashed a smile around the room. "She's in!"
The bell rang. Tori sighed regretfully. "I guess we need to get to class. See you all tonight?"
Beck, Andre, and Robbie chorused their agreement: "Yup." "Catch ya later." "'Til tonight!"
Jade remained silent. "Jade?" Tori asked.
Jade walked out of the room.
Cat bounced up and down on Tori's sofa, singing, "I throw my hands up in the air sometimes, saying-"
She pointed to Beck, who sang, "Ayyyy," and then at Robbie: "Ohhh."
Tori giggled at Beck, "You are so Canadian!" Beck's brow crinkled with confusion.
Andre slapped Beck on the back and enlightened, "You're singin' 'Eh,' dude!" Beck's mouth twitched.
The oven timer beeped. "Oh, pizza's ready!" Tori grinned, hopping up.
While Tori clanked and clattered in the kitchen, Cat and the three guys settled deeper into their seats, Robbie, minus Rex, discreetly scooting closer to Cat. "So, Li'l Red," Andre began. "How's your brother doin'?"
Cat giggled, "He's good. We spent all day watching, 'Name the Fish' reruns."
"Hmm. Uh-hm," Andre responded.
"He's not real sore?" Beck asked.
"Oh yeah, he hurts a lot, and he even cries sometimes because he can't move his head, but I gave him lots of foot massages, and that seemed to help."
"Ta-da!" Tori cried as she placed the pizza on the coffee table.
Cat let out a sudden squeal, her eyes wide with delight. "OH! They're little animals!"
The boys looked too: Cat was right, each slice of pizza was shaped like a different animal. There was a pig, moose, elephant, dog, and, of course, cat. Tori then guiltily set down another plate, this one of odd looking pizza scraps. She commented, "Cookie cutters leave some pizza behind." Tori picked up a strange chunk that had weird squiggles on one side and on another, two missing holes that looked like they could fit the moose's legs. She popped it in her mouth. "Still tastes good!"
"I call the cat!" Cat cried.
Andre shrugged, "Then I call the moose."
Just as each teenager laid their claim to different animals, the door opened and there stood Jade. Tori, Andre, Beck, and Robbie looked at her, judgment written on their faces, and Jade shifted her weight, uncomfortable standing in the doorway under their scrutiny. But Cat quickly called out, "Jadey, look! I saved you the pig!" With a grateful smile Jade entered the room and sat down next to Cat, grabbing up the pig. Beck caught Jade's eye and gave her a little wink. Jade just smiled back and then gave Cat a loving noogie.
The evening had been a fun and relaxing one, led by Cat. Everyone was doing their best to just let go of their inhibitions and to enjoy Cat's weird ideas as much as she did. At Cat's suggestion, Robbie wrote a song about flying bicycles that E.T. could sing to his friends and family to explain his adventures, Tori's animal pizza was a hit with everyone, Andre got everyone into a pillow fight, and a game of musical chairs seemed like it was more dramatic and fun than the last time they had played in elementary school. Jade even sang the "Sesame Street" theme with Cat, and decided that, out of context, it wasn't such a bad song. It was getting late, but Tori still had something on her mind.
"Cat, tell us a story," Tori requested. Cat loved to tell stories about her life, but no one ever seemed to be interested. Such an exciting request did not come Cat's way every day.
"What kind of story?" Cat asked, her eyes wide.
"A story about how a mom and dad without kids got a little boy and girl," Jade requested, her eyes oddly soft as they rested on Cat.
"Oh! I think I know one!" Cat declared. "Can it be a fairy story?"
Jade's brow furrowed, concerned that she wouldn't get to hear the story she really wanted. After the day they'd all had, and Jade's guilt over her past treatment of Cat, Jade really didn't want to upset Cat, so Jade responded, "Oh. Um, sure."
"Kay kay!" Cat said excitedly. She pulled her legs up unto the couch and sat with them crossed before beginning:
"Once upon a time there was a man and a woman that had just gotten married, and they loved each other very much. But they found out that they couldn't have their own babies, and they were so sad that they decided that they would just love each other and have really great lives, and talk about the kids thing when they weren't so sad.
"One day their best friends, brought a couple of little foster kids home with them. There was a little five-year-old boy and a little two-year-old girl. Their mommy and daddy were in jail for being bad parents, and the state took the little boy and girl away from their mommy and daddy for forever so the little boy and girl would be safe. The man and woman wanted to help their best friends, because the new kids were a lot of work, so the man and woman went to fostering classes and got background checks done so that they could babysit the little boy and girl, and let their friends have date-nights.
"One day a very sad thing happened. The man friends' mommy and daddy were killed in a car accident in Ohio, and the friends needed to go there, but the state wouldn't let them take the little boy and girl out of the state with them. So the little boy and girl stayed at the man and woman's house. The man and woman had been so sad about not having their own little boy and girl, but during those two weeks, the man and woman realized they didn't have to give birth to kids to still have them be theirs. So when the friends got back from Ohio, the man and woman told them that they believed the little boy and girl were supposed to live with them.
"One year later, the state created a brand new family: the man, woman, little boy and little girl. And they loved happily ever after. And that's my fairy story!"
"That was beautiful, Cat," Tori whispered through the lump in her throat, hurriedly brushing at her eyes.
"Yeah, that's great Cat, but I think you meant to say, 'and they lived happily ever after,'" Robbie corrected, ignoring the death-glare that Jade sent his way.
Cat shook her head, her eyes dripping with sincerity. "That's not true, though. Life is hard, Robbie. But that doesn't matter, 'cuz they loved."
"I have something to add to your story, Li'l Red," Andre added. "The little girl had five friends. Life had some wonk, and they weren't always so nice. They didn't always know what they were doin'."
Tori picked it up from there. "Sometimes they accidentally told the little girl that she wasn't quite right."
"But they never meant it," Beck added.
"They loved her," Robbie said.
"And they never wanted her to change, " Jade said lowly. "The little girl was perfect, the five friends just had to learn that."
Cat giggled and added, "And they all loved happily ever after!"