thegirl20: (Liz Gillies)
[personal profile] thegirl20
TITLE: Nothing you can see that isn't shown
AUTHOR: [ profile] the_girl_20 
FANDOM: Victorious
PAIRING: Jade/Tori (ish)
SUMMARY: Tori's been on vacation.
DISCLAIMER: Don't own 'em.
AUTHOR'S NOTES: Written for [ profile] anomalousalanna Because she keeps whining at me. 

For the third time in ten minutes, Jade finds herself looking out of her bedroom window.  The street is still empty. André was supposed to pick her up fifteen minutes ago to take her to Tori’s house.   She sighs, wondering again why she didn’t say she’d drive.  She hates waiting.  Or, at least, that’s what she tells herself to explain the unsettled feeling in her chest.  It’s frustration and nothing else.  It’s definitely not because she’s anxious to see Tori.  Even if she has been away for a whole month in Europe.  It’s not like Jade’s missed her or anything.

If she has, on occasion, found herself thinking about Tori, it’s only because she’s realised that her group of friends is a strange little set-up.  When they hang out all together it’s fine.  There’s enough of them that they kind of cancel out each others’ weirdness.  But Jade has come to realise that, taken individually, she can only tolerate them in short bursts.  And even that is stretching things when it comes to Robbie.

Take Cat, for instance.  Jade adores Cat, though she’d never use that kind of language out loud.  Cat is sweet and fun and so damn bubbly that it’s impossible not to go along with what she wants the majority of the time.  But more than a couple of hours spent in her company can be physically and mentally draining without other people around to absorb the energy and positivity that she spews out.  André is cool.  They hang out sometimes and talk about music and stuff, but they’re not really that close. She sometimes thinks he might be harbouring a secret crush on her, and that makes things awkward.  Speaking of awkward, there’s Beck.  Things have settled down a little since their break-up and they’re probably better friends now than they’ve ever been.  But there’s something odd about hanging out with him when it’s just the two of them.  She’s not still in love with him, of that she’s sure.  But they’re still transitioning from being “in love” to “in like”.  She doesn’t like it.

It’s a sad state of affairs when she realises that Tori Vega is the one person she doesn’t mind hanging out with on an individual basis.  Before she can depress herself further, André’s horn honks and she practically sprints to the front door.  She manages to slow her pace before she opens it.  It’s one thing admitting to herself that she’s maybe a little bit excited about seeing Tori, it’s a whole other thing letting other people in on that.  She saunters to the car and opens the passenger door.

“Hey girl, sorry I’m late,” he says as she slides into the seat beside him.  “My grandma thought the UPS guy was a Russian spy and she wouldn’t let him leave so I had to talk her down.  And untie him.”

She shrugs.  “No problem.  It’s not like I’m in a rush to see Vega or whatever.”

He doesn’t respond to her comment; he’s accustomed to her jibes.

“Man, I’ve missed Tori.”

She turns to look out of the window, just in case he expects a response.

“I mean, can you even remember what it was like before she came to Hollywood Arts?”

This gives Jade pause.  In all of her musings about her friends, she’d forgotten that Tori hadn’t always been there.  That, at one point, they were a group without Tori.  Her brow scrunches up as she tries to remember how that even worked and is horrified to when she realises that she can’t.  Who kept everyone from killing Robbie back then?  Who tolerated Cat’s antics with an indulgent smile?  Who brokered peace when Jade was on the warpath?  The group had existed before Vega, but could it survive without her now?  Somehow Jade doubts it.

To Andre, she responds simply.  “Yeah.  Good times.”

They swing by Cat’s place to pick her up and Jade mostly tunes out the animated chatter from the backseat, leaving André to field her nonsensical questions and bizarre stream of consciousness.  She focuses on the scenery passing by and tries not to think about Tori and her wide smile.


All too quickly they’re pulling into the Vegas’ driveway.   Cat bounces ahead to ring the doorbell and Jade feels sick to her stomach.  It reminds her of how she used to feel on Christmas morning as a child; nervous anticipation of what lies inside the door.  She clenches her fist, hoping that the pain from her nails digging into her palm will be enough to distract her.

The door is thrown open and Jade’s breath catches in her throat.  And, seriously, when did that start happening?  Tori squeals in that annoying girly way of hers and before Jade can muster up a decent eyeroll, she’s engulfed in a group hug.  She’s squished between André and Tori and, seemingly of its own accord, her arm moves so that it encircles Tori’s waist, squeezing the other girl.  Her face is smooshed into Tori’s hair and it smells like strawberries.  Of course it does.

“I missed you guys so much!”  It doesn’t look like Tori’s planning to let go for a while, and Jade has already allowed this for far too long, so she starts to squirm in the embrace.

“God, Vega, grope much?”

She manages to get out of the hug, only for her cheeks to be grabbed and then Tori’s grinning face is taking up the entirety of her field of vision.

“Oh, Jade, I missed you.”

Jade scowls and shoves her away, seething at the tinkly laugh this action elicits.  When did Tori Vega start thinking it was okay to laugh at her?  Cat has attached herself to Tori’s side again, hugging her tightly.

“We missed you too.  Even Jade.  She’s been extra-super-cranky while you’ve been gone.”

What?”  Her bark makes all three of them jump.  Cat cowers further into Tori, trying to distance herself from the glare Jade is sending her.  Glaring at Cat means she doesn’t have to look at Tori, who she’s sure is smiling at Cat’s ridiculous deduction.

“Now Cat, I’m sure Jade’s crankiness wasn’t related to my absence.  Maybe it was a full moon or something.”

Jade’s eyes flick to Tori’s, unbidden.  There she finds something far more unsettling than a smile; she finds understanding.   Suddenly self-conscious, Jade looks down at her boots.

“I wasn’t cranky.”  Her mumbled words sound false.

“I’m sure you weren’t.”  Jade clenches her teeth at Tori’s placating remark.  “Now, get in here all of you!”

They’re herded into the house and Tori pulls André into the kitchen to grab drinks and snacks.   Jade heads for the couch to sulk.  Cat perches near her.  Cat’s resilience is something Jade’s always admired.  She seems so fragile, but she can take Jade’s tirades in her stride, and she’s not afraid to speak up for herself.  Like now, Jade can feel it coming.

“You were crankier when Tori wasn’t here, you know.”  She turns to pin Cat with her eyes, but the redhead goes on, unperturbed.  “It’s okay.”   She leans closer to Jade and speaks in a loud whisper.  “We all know.”

Something akin to panic rushes into Jade’s stomach, chilling it.

“Know. What?”

Cat smiles that guileless smile of hers.  “That even though you pretend not to, you like Tori.”  She pats Jade’s knee.  “It’s okay.”

Jade’s panic lessens a little.  André and Tori bustle over from the kitchen with refreshments and Cat is thankfully distracted by popcorn.

“So how was Europe?” André asks, throwing an M&M in the air and catching it in his mouth.

Tori chews for a moment, like she’s thinking about how to respond.  “Well, aside from the fact that I was stuck in the back of a very small car for the best part of a month with was amazing.”

She launches into a description of the trip, and Jade finds herself taken along for the ride.  She smiles as Tori recounts the various mishaps and adventures that the family had encountered along the way.  She catches herself laughing out loud at a story about Trina’s belief that ‘European’ was a language which involved speaking English very loudly with an Italian accent.   Soon, Jade finds that she’s not even listening to what’s being said; she’s just watching the way that Tori’s face lights up when she smiles, or how her brow wrinkles when she’s trying to remember some detail.  She’s shaken out of her stupor when Tori springs to her feet.

“Oh! I got you guys presents!”

“I love presents!” Cat squeaks.  Tori hauls over her backpack and starts rifling through it.  Jade schools her face into one of indifference.  

“They better be real presents.”

Glancing up from her bag, Tori throws her a questioning look.

“What do you mean?”

Jade places a hand over her heart.  “Why, whatever do you mean?  Are you sayin’ that a personal performance by me, Tori Vega, is not a real present?  Just bein’ in my presence should be gift enough!”

“I don’t talk like that,” Tori mutters.  “And yes, they’re real presents.” She starts pulling out individually wrapped packages.

“This one’s for you, André from Liverpool.”  It looks like a record.  “Cat...this is yours.”  Cat’s is a less obvious shape, but is probably some kind of stuffed animal.  They’re already ripping into their paper by the time Tori holds out a box shaped package to Jade.

“And this is for you.”  She looks like she’ Tori blushing?  Jade takes the present, blocking out André and Cat as they fawn over their own gifts.  She mumbles her thanks.  As she begins to unwrap the paper, André drags Cat to Tori’s dad’s record player, waxing lyrical about the Beatles.  Cat’s just hugging her beret-wearing Minnie Mouse and smiling.

The paper comes away to reveal a plain white box and Jade feels a little uncomfortable now that it’s just her and Tori sitting on the couch together.  She opens the box to reveal a snowglobe.  She lifts it out to see that inside is a gothic cathedral, stark black against the white snow gently drifting in the water.

“I...uh...I got it in Prague.”  She glances up and catches Tori chewing on her lip before shrugging with a smile.   “It made me think of you.”

Jade looks back at the ornament in her hand, trying to decipher Tori’s meaning. “Why?  Because it’s cold and scary looking?”

Tori smiles.  She moves closer to Jade and takes the snowglobe from her hands.   She shakes it gently, making the little particles of snow float around in random flurries.  She holds it out in front of her, moving even closer - her chin is pretty much on Jade’s shoulder – so that they’re both looking at it from the same angle.

“No.”  Tori’s voice is closer now, and softer.  Jade catches a shiver just before it runs through her.  Tori continues.  “Because it’s beautiful...and complicated.  And it needs to be handled with care.”  The snow has started to settle.   She gives it another shake.  “Because it can go from perfectly calm to a blizzard in a second.”  There’s laughter in her voice, teasing.  They stay close together, watching the snow fall again.  Jade feels the deep breath that Tori takes before she speaks again.  “And...and because I really like it.”

In the silence that follows the statement, Jade notices that their breathing has synchronised.

“Sounds...uh...” She coughs because her voice sounds strangled.  “Sounds like you thought about this a lot.”

Tori’s nod makes Jade’s hair move.

“I did.” A pause.  “I thought about you a lot.”

Heat is spreading from Jade’s neck to her face and she hates it.  She wants to push away from Tori but she can’t.  There are words stuck in her chest that she thinks might cause her to explode if she doesn’t say them out loud.

“I...I’m...not totally bummed that you’re back.”  

It’s not what she wants to say, but it will do for now.  The other girl turns her head until Jade can feel her smile against her neck.  When she speaks, her lips brush Jade’s skin and this time she can’t contain the shudder.

“I missed you too.”

Swallowing hard, Jade tries to cling to some semblance of herself.  “So, I guess you’re going to insist that I hug you now.  Or whatever.”

To her credit, Tori doesn’t call her on her obvious desperation.  Instead she leans forward to place the snowglobe on the coffee table, then stands and turns to face Jade.  She holds out her arms.  

“C’mere.”  She wiggles her fingers.  “Give Tori a squeeze.”

Jade rolls her eyes, but she’s already pushing to her feet and moving into Tori’s embrace.  It feels...nice.  And somehow different from all the other times that Tori has blackmailed her into hugs.   André and Cat begin to sing; harmonising over the top of the song that’s playing and Jade can’t help but roll her eyes when she realises it’s ‘All you need is love’.  Tori joins in, singing softly into her ear, swaying from side to side.  Jade tries to frown but it doesn’t work so she turns to hide her smile in Tori’s hair.  For the first time in a month, Jade feels like everything’s okay.

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