Tori wakes up with a massive headache. After laying there for a few minutes wondering if she could so much as move, she sucks it up and took the advil Jade had suggested.
She then thinks about the previous night, remembering the way she fit into Jade like the last missing piece of a puzzle. When she closes her eyes she can see Jade’s secretive little smile and she can almost feel Jade’s lips on her skin.
And Tori just knows how convincing they were last night.
(She also knows that the way her whole body reacts to even just the memories of last night is probably a bad thing.
She ignores them.)
When she stumbles out of the bedroom she, Jade, and Cat - who was already apparently out of bed - shared, she finds the redhead sitting with the boys on the couch. The three of them look at her carefully and Tori suddenly feels like she’s being judged.
“Do I really look that bad?” she asks, growing self-conscious as she runs a hand through her tangled hair.
“We uh, have some questions for you,” Andre says, rubbing the back of his neck.
“Okay…” Tori draws out, slowly walking over to them. “Am I in trouble?”
Beck takes the lead when he asks, “Tori, do you remember last night?”
The half-Latina nods slowly. “Yeah,” she assures them. “I had a lot to drink, but I wasn’t blacked out guys.”
“One time my brother blacked out and he woke up in prison,” Cat tells them. After a beat she adds, “Don’t worry, we got him out the next day.”
Andre only spares Cat a glance before returning his attention to the brunette still standing in front of them. “Good,” he tells her. “So you can explain to us why you and Jade were being very... friendly last night.”
On the inside, Tori begins to panic. She knows her friends deserve to know, but for some reason she’d never thought she’d actually have to tell them about this, about what it’s all about.
“Tori we saw you guys making out,” Cat says abruptly. “And...you two have been weird the whole weekend.”
“We just want to know what’s going on,” Andre continues for her.
Beck shrugs. “I mean, if you guys are together we’re - surprised, but...we’re not mad.”
The singer in question lets out a long sigh, sitting on the edge of the coffee table in front of them.
“We’re not together,” Tori tells them, and for some reason there’s a small pang in her chest when she says it. “Jade’s kind of helping me out.”
“Are you guys friends with benefits?” Cat asks in a completely genuine tone.
At that, Tori makes a face. “No! God no, we’re not - look, my ex-girlfriend is here on break.”
“Hannah?” Andre immediately recalls, raising an eyebrow. “The blonde who went to San Francisco?”
The half-Latina nods, letting out a sigh. “She’s here with a new girlfriend and I was so thrown off when I saw them. Jade’s just pretending to be my girlfriend for the weekend.”
She lets her words sit in the air, allowing her three friends to process it.
It’s Cat who speaks first.
“Is this like when Sikowitz forced you two to go on a date at Nozu?”
It makes Tori laugh just a little and she replies, “Yes Cat, it’s exactly like that. It’s like acting, really. Just another acting exercise.”
(It’s unclear if she says it to help Cat understand or more for herself, a gentle reminder.)
“Are you sure it’s a good idea?” Beck asks cautiously.
He loves Jade and Tori; they’re two of his closest friends. He just wants to look out for them.
Tori shrugs. “It’s fine. And plus, I think it’s working.”
Andre and Beck exchange a look; Cat seems deep in thought.
Tori’s not sure what they’re thinking, but she speaks up again.
“Really guys, it’s cool. We’re going home tomorrow anyway.”
(Her friends still aren’t convinced.
None of them tell her that, though.)
When Jade finally manages to crawl out of bed, she only finds Beck sitting in the kitchen.
“Great, they left me with you,” Jade teases, with a small smile on her lips.
Beck lets out a chuckle, shaking his head. “You still bounce back well from drinking, I see.”
Jade only shrugs, going to the counter top to pour herself a cup of coffee.
The two had finally found a steady friendship with each other as the months went on, knowing that this time, they weren’t getting back together. It was hard at first - and their friends were in no way, shape, or form any help; it was something they had to do on their own. Of course, with the amount of times Beck and Jade had broken up in the past - including the really big one when Tori and Andre paid a guy to ask Jade out - their friends assumed it wasn’t going to be for real.
Except this time, there was no screaming and shouting. Jade didn’t show up at Tori’s door with a tear streaked face.
This time, it was only long and deep conversations in Beck’s trailer, quiet hugs and a soft kiss to Jade’s forehead once all was said and done.
“The rest of them went out to the beach,” Beck explains after some silence. “I told them I’d hang back and wait for you.”
“How sweet,” the raven-haired girl deadpans as she pours her coffee, black with two sugars. “What a wonderful ex-boyfriend you are.”
The handsome boy only rolls his eyes. “More like the only one who knows how to handle you at all times of the day.”
Jade only quirks an eyebrow at him as she takes a long sip of her coffee.
“So…” Beck says as Jade takes a seat across from him. “Tori told us about Hannah being here.”
The girl shrugs. “Okay.”
This clearly isn’t the reaction Beck’s expecting so he adds, “And how you two are playing girlfriends.”
Still unaffected, Jade shrugs again. “I don’t see the problem here.”
“Jade,” he sighs, running a hand through his hair. “Why are you doing this?”
The thespian groans and rolls her eyes. “Beck, you should have seen her. It was so pathetic.” After a another sip she adds, “It was so embarrassing I had to step in.”
“So all of this is just pretend?” Beck confirms, raising an eyebrow at the girl sitting across from him. “It’s all acting?”
Jade gives a short nod, seemingly so sure of herself. “Yup.”
But Beck knows the ins and outs of Jade West. He’d been dating the girl on and off since they started high school, and over the years he’d learned that there are layers and layers of emotion underneath her cold, “I don’t care” exterior.
He can see the slight hesitation in her eyes when she answers him, even if it’s just for a fleeting second.
“Really?” he asks again. “Because I know you Jade, and I don’t know if this is acting.”
Anger flickers to life in Jade’s expression, and she sends a glare Beck’s way. “What are you trying to say, Beck?”
There’s the tiniest hint of panic in her eyes, but it fades quickly. Instead, Jade’s hard glare pierces into her ex-boyfriend.
“Nothing,” he tells her, immediately putting his hands up in his defense. “I’m just saying it doesn’t look like acting.”
“Are you saying that I actually might have a thing for her?”
“No one said that, I just-”
Jade abruptly stands from her chair, the legs screeching against the hardwood. She angrily picks up her mug, the liquid coming threateningly close to spilling. Beck knows he’s set her off - and yeah, maybe there was another way to go about this - but nothing’s ever been easy when it comes to Jade.
“I don’t know if you can tell,” she spits at him, eyes flaring like a blue fire. “But Vega and I are pretty damn good at acting.”
With that she storms out of the kitchen and back into her shared bedroom, slamming the door as she enters.
The blazing sun beats down on Tori’s back as she lays on her beach towel in the sand. Her hangover’s pretty much gone at this point and she enjoys the sand and the smell of the ocean. Cat lays to her left, humming along to whatever song she’s got playing through her earphones. Andre had been on Cat’s other side, but has since left his beach towel long forgotten after some girl from the club last night walked by.
Tori’s practically falling asleep in the sun when a voice jolts her.
The brunette slowly turns half of her body and lifts her head to find Hannah - girlfriendless, for once this whole trip - hovering over her, blonde hair tied up in a bun.
“Hey,” Tori says, shielding her eyes as she sits up. “Um yeah, it was pretty fun.”
Hannah laughs softly before asking, “Where’s the girlfriend?”
“Probably still sleeping off her hangover,” the singer guesses. “And yours?”
“Her mom called her just as we were heading down here,” Tori’s ex-girlfriend explains. “She told me to go ahead.”
Tori nods at the information, unsure where their conversation is supposed to go after this. This whole weekend involving Hannah was never part of the plan, and to see her so often as she has in such little time is honestly still a bit overwhelming
She’s surprised when the girl drops her towel and sits herself down next to Tori. Cat’s eyes are closed under her sunglasses - the ones with the sharks, which Tori insisted look cute despite Jade’s comments - and she doesn’t notice or say a word about Hannah’s presence.
“So you and...Jade, right?” Hannah asks, catching Tori off guard.
She manages to nod though, sitting up properly to face Hannah. “Yup, me and Jade...it’s still kind of new,” she admits.
Hannah laughs, full and rich like Tori remembers. “I can’t say I saw this one coming.”
“What do you mean?” the singer asks, quirking an eyebrow.
Hannah had never attended Hollywood Arts, but of course she knew about Tori’s friends. They never really hung out in a group, yet Tori still told her stories from her adventures with various friends.
“Wasn’t she the one who was always so mean to you?” the blonde asks. “Like, she’s always been mean to you?”
Tori shrugs, thinking back to the days when Tori had no clue how to find her way around Hollywood Arts and Jade was still a brunette.
“I mean, things have changed over the years,” she reasons.
And the thing is, she’s not lying - not really. They’ve come pretty far since their first meeting, especially for someone like Jade, who sends a glare to anyone who so much as crosses her path.
“She’s been there when it counts,” the tanned girl continues, thinking back to how she willingly showed up to Tori’s house with Cat - a bag of donuts in one hand and a sly remark up her sleeve - when the girl currently sitting in front of Tori broke her heart.
Hannah nods in understanding and lets the silence sit before saying, “For someone who you said hates everything about the world, she seems to hate things less when she’s with you.”
Tori’s eyebrows scrunch together as she stares at Hannah. “What are you talking about?”
“Tori,” the blonde smiles knowingly. “I saw you two at the pool and last night. She couldn’t wipe her smile off her face when she was with you.”
“Yeah well - Jade’s a lot nicer and happier when she’s drunk,” Tori explains, shaking her head at the absurdity of Hannah.
She hardly even knows who Jade is, Tori tells herself. There’s no way she’d even have the slightest clue what Jade thought or felt.
Hannah only tilts her head with a smile like she’s part of some inside joke that’s gone way over Tori’s head. Tori frowns, not following this conversation at all.
“You’re happy with her, aren’t you?” her ex-girlfriend asks after a few moments of contemplative silence.
Once again, Tori’s caught off guard.
“Don’t play dumb with me,” Hannah tells her, shaking her head. “I see the way you look at her.”
“How do I-”
“It’s how you used to look at me.”
Tori opens her mouth, but no response comes. She’s lost her words, unable to come up with a reply for the girl sitting in front of her.
Lucky for her, the silence doesn’t last long.
“Tori, there you are.”
Both girls turn to find Jade nearing them, Beck trailing behind her. Tori’s lips automatically begin to turn upwards at the sight of Jade, clad in a black bikini top and distressed jean shorts.
“Hi Jade,” she greets with a full on smile.
Jade almost completely ignores Hannah’s presence all together, instead side stepping her to stand directly in front of Tori. Her pointer finger slides under Tori’s chin, lifting her head up as she leans down to press a soft but lingering kiss on the brunette’s lips.
(It should be concerning to Tori how normal this feels now.)
As she pulls away, Jade winks at the singer. Tori feels her whole body buzz with excitement at the mere sight.
“Well I’m heading out now,” Hannah announces, reminding the other two girls of her presence.
Jade merely spares a glance in her direction as the blonde stands and picks up her things. It’s Tori that gives her a genuine smile in her typical nice Tori way - despite being baffled at Hannah’s last comment before Jade approached.
“It was good to see you, Hannah.”
She means it; she really does. Albeit the frantic beginnings, she’s glad she’s was able to see her ex-girlfriend again. Even if she’s with some hot new girl that Tori doesn’t even know the name of.
(Somehow, Hannah’s presence doesn’t cause Tori to panic anymore.
Maybe it’s because Jade is with her.
Or maybe it’s because she doesn’t care about her the way she used to anymore.)
“Back at you, Tori,” she answers with a smile. “Take care. You too, Jade.”
Jade quirks an eyebrow at her, watching as she walks away before setting her things - and herself - down next to Tori.
“What was that about?”
Tori only shrugs. “Honestly? Not sure.”
“Having a heart to heart with your ex, Vega?”
She smirks. “Afraid you’ll be sharing?”
The thespian scoffs, crossing her arms. “You’re annoying.”
“Don’t worry,” Tori reassures her with a teasing smile. “I’m all yours, girlfriend .”
“Well isn’t that just wonderful!” Jade mocks, using her mocking Tori voice.
As expected, it gets a reaction out of Tori. She lets out a groan.
“I don’t talk like that!”
(Beck watches the interaction with curious eyes, trying to make sense of how his friends have found themselves in this situation.)
It’s their last night on the beach before they return to Los Angeles and their reality as high school seniors.
They eat at the burger place down the street, laughing and sharing stories like they have all the time in the world - like this little vacation will last way longer than they know it will.
Jade and Tori sit together on one side of the booth, with Cat on the inside. Their little redhead companion watches the two quietly, along with Andre and Beck. Of course, there’s no reason to pretend they’re dating now; Hannah is nowhere to be found and they’re going home tomorrow anyway. It doesn’t take away from the fact sometimes their shoulder press against each other, or that Jade’s just a teensy bit nicer and Tori’s a little bolder when it comes to comebacks directed towards Jade.
(None of them see the way Jade squeezes Tori’s knee under the table as she tries to catch her breath from laughing too hard at Beck’s joke.
Or the way for a fleeting moment, Tori’s hand goes to cover Jade’s in place on her knee before she has to return to eating her food.)
Beck once again comes in clutch, buying a few six packs of Mike’s hard lemonades to end the night in style. The five of them spread out in their room with Tori and Jade sitting not too far from each other on the couch that doubles as Beck and Andre’s pullout bed. Cat spreads herself out on the floor near them while the boys lounge in the kitchen.
They spend hours sipping and talking the night away, and Tori’s heart swells because she loves her friends and the way they’ve always been there for each other. At one point she’s resting her head on Jade’s shoulder and no one - not even Jade - blinks at the sight of it. The raven-haired girl even gives her that rare, easy-going smile from time to time. Tori can’t help but smile back.
In the late hours of the night they call it, with Cat stumbling into bed and the boys bidding them good night. Jade enters their shared bedroom and then tugs on Tori’s wrist when they shut the door, fully aware of how Cat is already soundly asleep.
“What?” Tori asks, still running on cheap alcohol and happy thoughts.
“We still have two bottles,” Jade tells her. “Let’s go.”
The half-Latina frowns in confusion. “Where are we going?”
“Come on Vega,” Jade rolls her eyes, grabbing her hand. “Live a little.”
Tori lets Jade lead her away, grabbing the two remaining bottles on their way out.
They sit on the cool sand of the beach in their sweats and t-shirts meant for sleep, each sipping their last bottle. For a while, neither speaks; they watch and listen as the waves meet the shore before retracting away again.
“I like you when you’re drunk,” Tori informs Jade.
“You’re not mean.”
The thespian chuckles, taking a sip. “People aren’t as annoying when I’m drunk.”
Tori raises her eyebrows in agreement. It’s a fair statement.
A wave of comfortable silence sits between them, something that - for awhile - was hard to come by between the two with Jade’s (mostly) irrational anger towards the other girl.
“Do you still have feelings for her?”
Tori blinks, surprised at the abruptness of her question. She honestly isn’t sure she’s hearing right.
“You’re not deaf,” Jade deadpans, eyes on the waves. “You heard me the first time.”
The brunette bites her bottom lip before taking another swig of her drink. She thinks back to earlier, how Hannah catching her by surprise on the beach wasn’t even an issue. She hardly even blinked at the sight, didn’t melt at the way she smiled or laughed, didn’t cringe at the way she talked about her girlfriend.
“No. Not anymore.”
The pale girl only nods at the statement. Tori tries to get a peek of her from the corner of her eye, but Jade is still looking into the ocean and her face gives nothing away. She wants to know why Jade would ask that, and she can see the way Jade’s turning the answer over in her mind.
“I think,” she continues when Jade doesn’t prompt her at all. “I needed to see her again - and maybe she needed to be with someone else.”
“Closure?” Jade guesses.
Jade nods with the new information and the two fall into silence once again, nursing their drinks slowly.
It’s once again Jade who speaks into the night.
“You still deserve better.”
Tori turns her head to look at Jade and attempting to read her emotions. Jade just keeps sipping on her Mike’s hard, watching the waves meet the shore over and over.
Jade only grins in her amused way when she turns to Tori. “I’m drunk, don’t count on me ever saying anything like this again.”
The half-Latina laughs, holding up her bottle to Jade.
“Our little secret.”
They stay out on the sand until their bottles are completely empty and all they can do is giggle and pretend this whole thing doesn’t end tomorrow morning when they head back home.
They lean against each other on the way back to their room. Jade wraps an arm around Tori to keep her warm and the brunette smiles into Jade’s neck, raven-colored hair tickling her face.
(Jade thinks she wants to kiss Tori; she doesn’t.
Tori kind of wants to kiss Jade, too.)
There’s a heaviness between the two of them as they pack up their things with the rest of their friends.
At least, Tori thinks there is.
Jade carries on like nothing’s happened at all. She drinks her coffee, quirks an eyebrow at any and all of Cat’s comments, and makes a jab at Tori when given the opportunity.
Like most other times, Tori can’t seem to read her at all.
The finality that hits her when Beck puts the last of their bags in his jeep tugs at Tori. She also realizes Jade hasn’t even so much as hovered around her all day. Perhaps the singer had grown accustomed to the thespian being so close and looking at her with her pretty blue eyes. It’s off setting for Tori that now Jade’s only handing out sly remarks and casual shrugs.
Cat sits between the two of them once again, talking about how she’ll miss the beach and boys this weekend had to offer. Tori just shakes her head with a smile, wondering what it must be like to be Cat - care free and just going where the wind takes you.
Conversation is light and absent minded on the ride home, with the majority of their time spent either singing along or letting the music play without interruption.
Tori tries to not get too into her head, instead enjoying the company and music.
Beck pulls into his driveway and all five of them climb out. Andre said he’s going to hang with Beck for the rest of the afternoon, so the girls all pile into Jade’s car - Tori taking the passenger’s seat and Cat sitting comfortably in the back. Cat gets dropped off first and she leaves kisses on both their foreheads - not without a glare and quiet growl from Jade.
“See you tomorrow!” she says as she skips towards her own home, still happy and bubbly as ever.
“I will never understand her,” Tori says.
Jade shrugs before pulling away from the Valentine residence.
“She’s Cat, there’s all there is to it.”
The ride to Tori’s is relatively silent between the two, save for Jade’s music playing through the speakers. Tori spends most of it looking out the window, trying to figure out what to do from here.
She doesn’t like Jade. This was just some dumb favor Jade had agreed to do. They’re friends who help each other out.
Still, she can’t shake her conversation with Hannah off her mind.
“Here we are Vega,” Jade says, coming to a stop in front of Tori’s home.
Tori nods, turning to Jade. “Thanks.”
“Get your license,” she retorts.
The singer only rolls her eyes. “It was your idea to - nevermind,” she huffs, knowing the conversation is pointless. “Um actually, I wanted to...”
“Thanks for this weekend,” she finally says, leaning back into her chair a little. “You know, for um, pretending to be my girlfriend.”
“Whatever,” the thespian shrugs off like it’s no big deal. “You owe me now.”
Tori doesn’t understand how Jade is so casual about it all, but then again that’s Jade West in a nutshell: calm, cool, and could give less than a shit about anything going on.
There’s more words in her throat, more things Tori wants to say. She wants to tell Jade about how she can’t stop thinking about the way her fingers fit perfectly in the spaces of Tori’s own, or how she’d kiss Jade until she’s breathless if she could.
She wants to ask if this means anything to Jade because Tori is somewhat afraid that this means more than it should to her.
Except she doesn’t want to accidentally say the wrong thing and have Jade forcefully push her out of her car so instead, she only nods.
“Right. Um, bye Jade,” she says, hopping out of the car and grabbing her things quickly.