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Chapter Text

“Isn’t this movie on Netflix?”

“Shhhh!”

“Did you just throw popcorn in my hair?”

“I was aiming for Andre. And shhhh!”

Tori tries her best to glare at the two boys sitting to her left, but it’s dark. Maybe she should have known better, dragging Beck and Andre to an old revival theater in Downtown LA, but she’s trying to make an effort to absorb more culture that she isn’t watching on her computer or her PearPhone or PearPad. Also, Sikowitz is giving anyone extra credit who can prove they’ve gotten out of the house to find non-digital entertainment.

His Girl Friday seemed like a perfect choice, because it’s old, in black and white, and it’s funny. Even though the guys make a few comments through the opening credits, once the movie actually begins, they shut up and listen to the quick, quippy dialogue and find themselves laughing at the jokes.

Proud of herself, Tori smirks and tosses a, “Told you,” at them, which results in Beck telling her to “Shhhh!” and Andre throwing popcorn in her hair.

The upside of this tiny theater is the cheap ticket prices and the fact that the concession stand doesn’t charge seventeen dollars for a soda and popcorn. The downside is that Tori took total advantage of the large size drink and, halfway through the movie, she’s stepping over Beck and Andre to get to the aisle so she can visit the bathroom.

One of the restroom stalls is occupied, but the other is open and Tori mumbles a, “Holy chiz, thank you” as she hurries inside. When she re-opens the door to step out toward the sink, Jade is standing there, all shades of gray except for the red Doc Martens, washing her hands. She looks unusually casual in a t-shirt and ripped up jeans with her hair loosely pulled back (though that doesn’t stop the shock of green hair from standing out against the black), making her look slightly less intimidating. Maybe because it’s a look Tori doesn’t remember seeing on her, before.

“Wait… Where did you come from?”

“Two stalls, Vega. Not that complicated.” Jade turns off the sink and shakes the water from her hands, sending several drops all over the front of Tori’s t-shirt.

“I mean, I didn’t see you inside the theater.” Tori begins lathering up her hands under the tap.

“Maybe you weren’t looking hard enough.”

“Did you want to sit with--” The room is plunged into darkness as Jade flips the lightswitch and exits out the door. “Hey!”

Tori manages to make it out of the bathroom and back to her seat, peering through the dim light of the flickering screen as she looks around for Jade.

“Ow! That was my foot!” whispers Andre.

“Sorry.” Once she’s back in her chair, Tori looks in the rows behind them, but there are only about twenty people in the theater all together and none of them are Jade.

From inside the pocket of her jeans, Tori's PearPhone buzzes twice, signaling a text message. Her understanding of decorum in a public theater tells her to ignore it, but after it happens a second time, she digs it out and checks the screen.

The first message says: You look paranoid.

And the second: Seriously, it's like you're waiting for them to haul you back to the cuckoo's nest.

Both are from Jade.

Again, Tori glances over one shoulder, then the other, but there's no glow, no indication of someone else using a phone in the theater.

"Turn that off!" hisses Andre. "Didn't you hear the dancing popcorn when she told us to put our phones away?"

"He's right," Beck says, "She was very specific about texting, too."

Tori slouches down in her seat and lowers the brightness of the phone screen.

Where are you?

Vega, put your phone away. Do you have no respect for the theater-going experience?

"Hey, I'm respectful!" Tori shouts, sitting up and looking for any indication of where Jade's sitting.

She's met with a chorus of "Shhhhh!" from all two dozen people in the theater, so she slumps back down, shoves her phone in her pocket, and ignores it until the movie ends. When the lights come up, she almost falls on her face when she trips over Beck's leg, trying to get to the exit. The lobby is small and there's no way Jade can get out without Tori seeing her.

But she's nowhere to be found.

Her pocket buzzes and when she fishes it out of her jeans and turns the contrast back up, it says: Have a nice trip?

"How are you doing this?" Tori calls into the space of the lobby.

"Uh, who're you talkin' to?" Beck asks.

"Jade."

Andre's eyebrows raise. "You... do remember that she didn't come with us, right?"

"I know that, but she was here. I saw her in the bathroom. And then she was texting me."

Both Tori and Andre look at Beck, expectantly. He puts both hands up in front of himself. "Hey, I barely was able to keep track of her when she was still my girlfriend."

Just as Tori’s about to consider that all of this interaction with Jade is a hallucinatory experience due to a bad breakfast burrito, she receives another text.

If you ditch the nub club and bring me a coffee, I’ll tell you where I am.

It’s not so much that Tori’s dying to see Jade, but she definitely wants to know how the other girl is pulling this off. It’s like she’s a ghost.

“Hey, nubs-- er, guys… I think I’m heading home. Trina’s taking a pottery class, so I’ll have the house to myself for a couple hours.”

Andre nods. “Did you want us to come with you and work on that song for--”

“No, it’s cool! Just need some girl-alone time.” Tori backs out the door to the lobby, “Okay, bye!” She briskly walks around the corner, then waits behind a newspaper stand until she hears Beck’s voice as he and Andre walk by.

“-- but at least she’s not acting as weird as Cat does when she’s on the bibble.”

“Man, that girl on bibble is something I never want to see again.”

Tori peeks around the edge of the stand and waits until the boys have crossed the street. She walks down to the end of the block to Peet’s Coffee and Tea and buys a large coffee for Jade and one for herself. She knows Jade puts sugar in her coffee, though she has no idea about the actual amount, so Tori grabs a handful of a variety of sweeteners, and, just in case, asks the barista for a small cup of milk, then doubles back to the theater.

Once she’s outside the lobby doors, she balances the coffee carrier in one hand and sends a text with the other.

I’m here with your coffee, now what?

The reply comes almost instantaneously: Come back inside.

Because it’s a small, single screen theater, the entrance also serves as the ticket queue and there’s an usher sitting, waiting to take tickets from anyone who enters.

It takes another minor balancing act to type out: But I don’t have a ticket.

The exit door swings open. “I am your ticket, dingus.” Jade apparently has lightning quick reflexes, because she catches both coffees just as Tori fumbles them. The milk, however, crashes to the ground and splashes across the sidewalk.

“What the crap was that?”

“Milk. I didn’t know how you take your coffee.”

“Black,” Jade replies, sounding irritated, as if Tori should have this memorized. “Two sugars.”

“Can I have mine--” But Jade’s already stepping back inside and Tori has to rush keep up with her.

They’re halfway up a cramped staircase when Jade passes one of the cups to her. “You can’t tell anyone about this.” At the top of the steps is a door, which Jade pushes open to reveal a small room.

“Is this the… projector room?”

“Projectionist’s booth,” corrects Jade.

Tori steps inside and carefully moves around the tiny space, looking at the metal tins that line the back wall, then at the windows that face out over the auditorium. “This is really cool.”

“Yeah, and that’s why you can’t tell anyone.”

“Why?”

“It’s just…” Jade shrugs. “I don’t need everyone knowing my business. It’s not that I need the job, really. I just… like it.”

“You? Actually like something?”

“I said I like it, not you, so watch it.”

“So, you work here?”

“Yeah.”

“Running this?” Tori leans a little closer to the huge, whirring machine.

“Don’t get too close.”

Tori immediately jumps back. “Is it dangerous?”

“I just don’t want you breaking anything.”

“Oh right, like I’d br--” There’s a crash as a stack of film canisters fall to the floor. “Sorry!”

“Maybe just stand over there.” Jade points to the corner of the room. “Sit on that box.”

“So, did you want me to stand or s--”

“Sit!”

Immediately, Tori lowers herself to sit on a wooden crate, watching Jade as she flips a couple of switches on the huge projector. The large metal reels start whirring as they spin. It’s clear now why Jade’s dressed so simply and why her hair isn’t hanging loose. If anything were to get caught in the rapidly spinning parts of this thing, it wouldn’t be pretty. “What’s happening?”

“I’m rewinding it,” Jade shouts, so she can be heard over the machine. She points to the seemingly neverending strip of film that’s being wound back onto the top reel. “This is the movie you just watched and I have to get it ready for the next showing.” Without even asking Tori to move over, Jade bumps a knee against her, forcing her to make some space on the crate. “Give me some of those,” she says, reaching for the sugar.

“Wow, so this is, like, really old school.” Tori hands Jade two packets, then rips open about five and dumps them into her own cup.

There’s a nod from Jade as she sips her coffee. “Everyone else has converted to digital. I think this is one of maybe three theaters in the state that still uses thirty-five.”

“How do you even know how to do this?”

“Old Henry.”

Tori waits for more explanation, but Jade isn’t offering any. “Who’s Old Henry?”

Jade scoffs, as if everyone in the world should know who Old Henry is. “Old Henry used to work here. Last summer, they ran a series of some old monster movies, so I was here every night for a week. On the last night, this old guys asks if I’ve ever been up to the booth. I thought he might be up to something weird, so I flashed my scissors at him and told him to leave me alone. And then he said he was too old and too tired to try anything and he actually looked kind of sad and I guess I just wanted to see the booth badly enough so I agreed to come up with him.” She leans back against the wall, keeping an eye on the reels as they continue to spin. “It turns out he wasn’t a creep, he was just the last of a dying breed. So he taught me everything he knew before he moved on.”

“Oh my god, he died?”

“No, he retired to Florida.” Jade’s back up on her feet as the final stretch of film winds back onto the top reel. Tori watches as she begins to feed it through a series of sprockets and it’s odd to see Jade take so much care with anything.

“I’m sure Old Henry’s very proud.”

“I guess.”

There’s more silence as Jade focuses on her job and Tori begins to feel like she’s infringing on something personal. “Uh, I should probably go.”

Jade glances over at her. “Right. Yeah. I have to get this started and then check the stock for tomorrow’s movie.” At Tori’s blank look, Jade rolls her eyes, but then explains, “This stuff is old, so I have to make sure there aren’t any cracks when I piece together the reels.”

It mostly makes sense to Tori. “What’s the next movie?”

Night of the Living Dead. One of my favorites.”

“Well, good luck.” She walks toward the door, but stops to add, “Thanks for showing me this.”

“You promised not to tell anyone.” It’s not really concern in Jade’s voice, but there’s definitely something that makes Tori want to reassure her that this is their secret.

“I remember.” And then after watching Jade’s eyebrow creep higher, Tori adds, “I won’t tell.”

“Good.”

Tori leaves Jade alone in the booth, climbs down the stairs, and exits the theater. This has been a weird day. But good. In a weird way.

This is how it is with Jade and Tori’s used to it. Their friendship isn’t as easily definable as Tori’s is with someone like Andre. It’s not like she ever calls up Jade to just hang out. But they’ve been there for each other if they’ve needed something. Ever since they did that play together a few months ago, the one where they had to play husband and wife, it’s been easier to talk to Jade. Kind of. It’s not that they talk more, it’s just that they can exist in the same space without picking a fight. Though, there was also that day Tori was pretty sure Jade was driving her out into the desert to leave her there. But… maybe it’s better not to think about it.

When she gets home, she updates her Slap profile with: Is it weird that I’ve never seen Night of the Living Dead? and chooses Spooky as her mood.

It turns out that it is kind of weird, because all of her friends have definitely seen the movie. Even Cat, though it sounds like her brother was entirely responsible. Her feed is full of replies talking about how it’s a classic movie and Beck posts a download link, telling her to watch it immediately.

As Tori’s thinking about whether or not she wants to scare herself by watching a zombie movie, no matter how classic everyone claims it is, she receives a text.

Don’t even think about watching that movie tonight.

Part of Tori is relieved. Another part doesn’t like Jade telling her what to do.

Maybe I want to.

Tomorrow. 8PM. Bring your own chair. It’ll be better than some crappy pirated version online.

Tori still isn’t even sure she wants to watch this movie. She knows it will freak her out. It’s bad enough living with Trina who walks around at night in her face cream masks, but is this going to make her think every clunk and thump in the night is a flesh-eating zombie?

But then Jade sends another message: Unless you’re too scared.

That settles it.

I’ll be there.

As soon as she hits send, Tori sighs. She’d better get a good night’s sleep, because she has no idea when the next one will come easily to her.

Chapter Text

Jade tells herself that the invitation to the movie she extended to Tori is purely out of the sheer disbelief that she’s never seen the film before. As an artist, she feels a responsibility to share art with other artistic types. And maybe Tori falls into that category.

It’s not because she particularly wants to hang out with her.

Though, maybe Tori’s pretty tolerable. As much as Jade appreciates Cat’s twisted view of the world, she talks a lot. Andre’s fine, but has too many rules about “weird stuff” he won’t watch, eat, or do. Rex can be hilarious, but Rex equals Robbie and Robbie equals spaz. And then there’s Beck.

Beck is fine. He’s pretty, he’s good company, he’s usually down for anything, and he doesn’t challenge Jade most of the time. But then maybe that’s part of it. Beck’s never a challenge. He’s so easygoing that, since their break-up, Jade wonders how they even managed to work for so long. He’s a nice guy. She’s not nice. At all.

But, whatever. Tori’s never seen one of Jade’s favorite movies and this is a chance to show it to her the way it should be seen. Also, maybe Jade hopes it’ll scare her. Giving Tori the creeps is a legitimate hobby.

Even though she’s run the film twice already, Jade’s waiting until the eight o’clock show to actually sit and watch it. Though, now that she’s thinking about it, there’s a huge chance that Tori’s going to be flailing and freaking out during the entire thing and Jade definitely doesn’t want to miss that.

Around seven forty-five, a message flashes across the screen of her PearPhone that’s sitting on the desk chair that’s placed near the larger of the two windows that look out over the rest of the theater. Jade grabs the phone and looks over the text.

I’m here. With my chair.

There’s a smirk as she stuffs the phone in the back pocket of her jeans, then she heads for the staircase. When she reaches the lower level, she can see Tori through the glass doors of the lobby. She has one of those foldable camping chairs slung over one shoulder and a coffee carrier in her hands. When she opens the door to let Tori in, the usher taking tickets shoots her a disapproving look.

Jade just glares back at him. Tori steps inside and catches the look between them.

“Oh, hey, I can buy a ticket. I just didn’t think it was--”

“It’s not.” Jade takes the coffee with one hand and wraps the other around Tori’s wrist.

“No, but it’s really not even a problem--”

“Vega!”

Tori takes her cue to stop talking and lets Jade pull her upstairs to the booth. With the door shut behind them, Jade feels better, cut off from everyone else. “Which one’s mine?” She asks, looking down at the coffee carrier.

“Either. They’re both black.” There’s a groan from Tori as she realizes, “And I forgot to grab sugar, because the woman behind me kept asking if I knew her niece from modeling academy. Except I’ve never seen this woman before and I’ve definitely never been to modeling academy and I really just wanted her to stop talking--”

“A feeling I certainly know nothing about,” Jade quips.

“--aaaand where should I set up my chair?”

“Where should I ever set up my chair?” repeats Jade, her voice lilting in the southern belle accent she often uses to torture Tori. “Maybe right by this other chair that seems to be in the perfect position to watch a m--”

“Yeah, yeah. I see it. And I don’t talk like that!”

As Tori unfolds the chair, Jade swipes up the handful of sugar packs left behind from Tori’s visit the previous day. “Here.”

“Thanks,” Tori takes the packets and offers a grateful smile.

“They were yours anyway. Which, thanks a lot for leaving your crap all over my workspace.”

“Oh, please. They were taking up like three square inches over there.” Jade says nothing as she pushes past Tori to check the projector, making sure the film is threaded correctly. Tori peers out the window at the audience below. “Hey, I think I see Sinjin.”

“Probably, he’s been here all day.”

“Oh, there’s Andre and Cat!” Tori knocks on the window, trying to get their attention, but Jade grabs her by the shoulder and yanks her back.

“What do you think you’re doing?”

“Uh, saying hi to our friends?”

“This is a secret, remember?”

“Oh, yeah.” Tori frowns. “Sorry. I can’t believe just did that.”

“Maybe just sit still and drink your coffee and that will keep you from being a terrible friend.”

“You… think of me as a friend?” There’s a slight smile creeping across Tori’s lips.

“Don’t make it weird.” As Jade finishes her final check of the film, Tori sips her drink and hums a little to herself. “What?” Jade snaps.

“You don’t want anyone to know you work here. But you invited me up to see the booth and now you’re showing me a movie.”

“And now you’re making it weird.” There are still a couple minutes before showtime, so Jade drops down in her chair and glares at Tori. “I needed coffee yesterday. And then I found out that you somehow have managed to avoid seeing one of the greatest American independent horror films of all time.”

“Just admit it.”

“Admit what?”

“That you asked me to come because you like hanging out with me.”

Jade’s immediately on her feet. “No.” She turns away from Tori to look out at the audience.

“Is that ‘no’ that you don’t like hanging out with me? Or ‘no’ that you refuse to admit it?”

“Why does it matter?” Jade’s still watching out the window.

“Because…” The hesitation causes Jade to look back at Tori. “We actually kind of have some fun, sometimes. But then you always act like it’s nothing.”

“If I tell you that I think you’re less annoying than Robbie and that you talk less than Cat, will you leave it alone?”

“If you at least agree that means you like hanging out with me.”

There’s at a ten second silence from Jade. Then, “Fine.”

“Is that ‘fine’--”

“Tori!”

To her credit, Tori doesn’t say anything else. She just smirks as she takes a drink from her coffee cup. Jade rolls her eyes and dims the light in the booth before she flips the switch that sends the projector into action.

“Are we even going to be able to hear the movie up here?” Tori asks.

“That button, right there.” Jade waves toward a push-button to Tori’s right.

A quick press leads to a crackle and then the sound of the film below from a speaker that’s mounted somewhere underneath the window. Jade reclaims her seat.

“You sure you can handle this?”

“It’s fine.” Tori insists. “This is old. Old movies aren’t that scary.”

That earns Tori a serious look of offense from Jade, her pierced eyebrow raised as she asks, “Are you serious? I have a distinct memory of you screaming at the Psycho shower scene that time Sikowitz made us do that Ladies of Hitchcock acting workshop.”

“Oh, yeah. Robbie was surprisingly good as Janet Leigh. I think it’s the way he screams.”

Jade’s not distracted from her frustration. “Listen, if we’re going to be… friends… you have to stop saying stupid shit like,” she switches to her southern belle voice, “Oh, golly gee, old timey movies aren’t scary!”

“I don’t--”

“Just be quiet and watch the movie and maybe I’ll forget about it.”

“Fine.” Tori slumps in her chair, but then she has to sit back up so she can see the screen.

As much as Jade’s just given her a hard time, this movie definitely isn’t full of the same kind of scares found in current horror movies. It’s more of a subdued suspense, laced with creepiness. Still, there are plenty of definite scary moments and as soon as the first one hits, Tori’s wincing at the screen and covering her eyes.

Jade reaches over and pushes Tori’s hands down, uncovering her face. “Oh, come on. This isn’t even the scary part.”

“I’m not scared,” Tori replies, unconvincingly.

“Of course you’re not.” Jade keeps her hand grasped over both of Tori’s, so she can’t shield her eyes again. Things stay that way for several minutes.

“Can I have my hands back?”

“You don’t need them.”

“I want my coffee.”

“Oh.” Jade can understand that. She slips her arm away from Tori and rests it on the arm of the folding camping chair.

There’s a moment where several zombies attempt to break into the house where the survivors are hiding and the entire audience below them shudders. Tori’s hands immediately fly back upward and, again, Jade shoves them right back down.

“Nope.” This time, there’s some resistance, but Jade’s the stronger of the two. She locks her fingers with Tori’s, but that only lets her keep one of them stationary. “I swear, if you use that other hand for anything other than drinking coffee, I’m tying your arms down.”

Tori seems to comply and, after a moment, relaxes a little. “If you wanted to hold my hand, you could have just said so.”

“No.” But Jade doesn’t let go. Tori’s not getting out of this that easily.

As they approach the final fifteen minutes of the film, her fingers are cramped and their hands are sweaty, but Jade’s confident that she’s made her point. No one walks into her projection booth and declares Night of the Living Dead to be unscary. Especially not Tori Vega.

The closer they get to the end of the movie, the more intense things become on screen and there’s movement from Tori’s free hand. Jade spots it, immediately, and Tori quickly shakes her head.

“It was an accident!”

“Since I don’t have time to find a rope, I’ll just have to do this.” Jade leans closer and grabs Tori’s far arm with her free hand. This means she has to twist in order to see the screen, but it’s worth it to prove her point. Except now, every time she breathes in, Jade can smell Tori’s stupid citrus shampoo or body wash or something.

At the final climactic moment of the movie, there’s one last scare and it’s enough to make Tori duck her head down and she ends up with her face pressed against the side of Jade’s neck.

“Vega, if you wanted to make out, you could have just said so.” It’s a joke, just like the one Tori made earlier. Nevermind that Jade’s heart is beating, like, a mile a minute. That’s probably just from the thrill of zombies eating human flesh.

Tori does laugh, so maybe it is actually funny. Her breath tickles Jade’s skin, for a moment, until she sits back up. “Oh, is that really why you invited me here? As a date?”

“Yeah, right. I asked you up here because I think we should go out.” It all comes out easily, sarcastically, but there’s something weird to the way they’re looking at each other. Maybe because Jade’s still holding Tori down in her chair. She releases the far arm, first. Their other hands, the ones laced together, take a second to detach.

“Hand cramp,” Tori whines.

Jade can’t even comment on how pathetic that sounds because her own hand is definitely stiff. She flexes her fingers and focuses on her tattoo, mentally tracing over the points of the nautical star. “Were you on a date last night?”

“Huh?” The question clearly catches Tori off guard. “No.” She tilts her head as she looks back at Jade. “I was with both Andre and Beck. Which one would have been my date?”

“Forget it, it was just a stupid question.”

“They’re both just friends. Are you… thinking about getting back together with Beck?”

There’s a laugh from Jade. “No. I mean, I’ve thought about it a couple times but… we’re not fifteen, anymore. Plus, I really can’t see me having a future with someone like him.”

“Someone who’s…”

The answer comes quickly. “Canadian.” Jade’s up, out of her chair and prepping the projector to reverse the reel.

“I’ve always wondered what you have against our neighbors to the north.”

“And you can keep wondering, because I’m not having any heart-to-hearts tonight.”

“I should go, anyway. Trina’s supposed to pick me up in a few minutes.” Tori stands up and collapses her chair, then slips it back in its cover so she can carry it.

“Did you at least like the movie? The parts you actually saw, anyway.”

“Hey, I watched the whole thing. It was hard not to with you… holding me down.” It’s still dim in the booth, but it almost looks like Tori’s blushing. “It was good. And scary.”

There are no more zombies on-screen, so Jade doesn’t have a good reason as to why her heart rate’s picking back up. “Told you.”

Tori hesitates before finally moving toward the door. “I should go. Trina usually only makes one pass and if she doesn’t see me, she might leave me here.”

“There’s a reason no one likes her.”

“Trust me. There’s more than one.”

“Hey, Tori?” Jade calls out, just as Tori’s about to head down the stairs.

“Yeah?”

“You’re significantly less annoying than your sister.”

“That might be the nicest thing you’ve ever said to me.”

“Go away.”

Chapter Text

Tori’s going to kill Trina.

After waiting twenty minutes in front of the theater, she finally sent a text, asking her sister where she was. It turns out she’s on a boat in the Long Beach harbor and has no intent of coming back up to Hollywood anytime soon.

He dad’s at work, but her mom is probably still awake. She’s about to make the call when she hears Jade’s voice booming from behind her.

“What are you still doing here?”

“Trina.”

“You missed her drive-by?”

“No, she’s at a yacht party.”

“Who would even invite her to a yacht party?

“I don’t know, but I feel sorry for them.”

“You want a ride home?”

It’s so casual that Tori takes a second to respond. “Yes. Thank you.” And then she has to catch up to Jade, because she’s already walking down the sidewalk.

When Jade opens up the back door to toss the chair in the back seat, Tori can’t help but look for the shovel she saw back there last time she was offered a ride.

“Relax,” Jade says, “if I wanted to make you disappear, you think I couldn’t have done that when I had you alone in a dark room for over an hour?”

“Is that really supposed to make me feel better?”

“Just get in.” Jade even goes so far as to open Tori’s door for her and gestures at the passenger seat. But her patience has a limit, as she begins to count down. “Three…”

Tori quickly slips into the seat and Jade shuts the door.

As a rule, Jade’s always been something of an enigma to Tori. They’ve butted heads since Tori first enrolled at Hollywood Arts, but then there are times when they rely on each other. Like now.

When the car starts, the radio begins blasting whatever radio station Jade left it on when she pulled into work. Tori reaches over to turn it down a little, not sure if it will result in being reprimanded, but there’s no angry shouting from Jade when the volume lowers.

The ride is relatively peaceful, at least until they’re sitting at a stoplight and there’s a lull in the radio station programming. That’s when Jade decides to say, “They’re coming to get you, Tori,” in the same voice as the guy in the movie they just watched.

“That’s not funny!”

Jade’s reply is to groan like a zombie.

“Jade!” Tori swings her arm over and knocks Jade in the shoulder. This just leads to Jade grabbing her wrist and forcing her hand down against the seat.

“Your passenger manners are about as bad as your movie theater manners.”

“I still don’t think it’s against movie etiquette to look away from terrifying images.”

“Maybe not. But it’s definitely bad form to beat your driver.” Jade keeps her hand on Tori’s wrist for three more blocks, but then she needs both hand to turn the steering wheel, so she lets go.

As the car slows to a stop in front of the Vega house, Tori notes that her mom’s car isn’t in the driveway. “Great. No one’s home.”

“Scared?” There’s delight in Jade’s voice.

“No.” Tori reaches for the door. “Thank you for the ride.” She pulls the handle, but nothing happens. “Um.”

“Yeah, so remember when you jumped out of my car? You broke my door.”

“I did not.” Tori tries again, but nothing happens.

“You did and now it’s really hard to open.” Jade puts the car in park and unhooks her seatbelt so she can reach over Tori to try the door. “You have to really yank it.”

“I was yanking it.”

“Not hard enough, obviously.” But even Jade’s attempts aren’t working.

“It’s not my fault you drive a murder car and don’t want people to escape.”

Jade has one knee on Tori’s seat as she tries to get the right leverage on the handle. “You’re the last person I’d want to keep locked in my murder car with me.”

“So you admit that it’s a m--” The door pops open and Jade falls forward. Tori throws out her arm to catch Jade and keeps her from tumbling out onto the sidewalk.

“Got it,” Jade groans.

Tori has to pull her arm around Jade to bring her back upright, so they’re tangled up, face to face, once they aren’t dangling out of the car. “That was close.” Her eyes can’t help but drift from Jade’s eyes down to her mouth. She has no idea why they can’t help it, because this isn’t an expected outcome.

“Sure was.” Jade’s not pulling away.

“You know, if you wanted to--”

“I could have just said so?”

“Uh huh.”

“Who says I’d even want to?”

“No one’s saying anyth--”

No one’s saying anything, because Jade’s kissing her. Tori’s eyes flutter shut as she kisses back. It isn’t drawn out, but it’s unmistakably a kiss between them. It’s not like Jade just accidentally fell against her lips.

When Jade shifts and leans back against the dashboard, she smirks. “Goodnight, sleep tight, don’t let the zombies bite.”

Tori narrows her eyes and shakes her head. “If I have nightmares, I’m calling you.”

“Good luck. I sleep like the dead.”

“Don’t you mean the undead?”

That makes Jade smile. “Someone’s a fast learner.”

“Goodnight, Jade.” Tori steps out of the car. She’s about to shut the door but then stops. “Wait, I need my chair.”

“Leave it. You’ll need it in a couple days. We’re having a Thin Man marathon. Clear your schedule.”

Tori leans down to look at Jade, who’s now settling back into the driver’s seat. “Is, uh, this going to be a date?”

“Only if you’re paying.”

“I’ve already bought coffee twice!”

Jade just shrugs and shifts the car into drive. “Get inside before the invasion begins.”

“Stop!” Tori looks over her shoulder. “Okay. Now I’m creeped out.”

“They’re coming to get y--”

Tori slams the door and runs up the front walk to her house. The porch light is on, but once she’s inside, everything’s dark. Quickly, she turns on the living room lights, then the kitchen, then the lights over the stairs. When her phone vibrates in her pocket, she screams.

The message says: Your neighbor is out in his yard and he looks a little… lethargic.

She immediately types in a reply: Don’t be a gank. And don’t text and drive! Tori looks out the window to see the taillights of Jade’s car still visible before they disappear as she pulls away from the curb. She must have waited to make sure Tori got inside okay.

Tonight has been incredibly weird. But good weird. But weird. That seems to be the best way to describe the time she’s been spending with Jade.

That kiss wasn’t weird, though. While it was a surprise, it was nice. It was… really good. Which was not something she expected. Not that she thought Jade would be a bad kisser. She just never thought Jade would be kissing her.

As Tori stops to turn on every light on the way to her bedroom, she thinks about that moment, from Jade falling forward, to catching her, to the lingering moment before their lips met, to the way the kiss tasted a lot like coffee and vanilla mint lip balm. Her mind backtracks to the way Jade held her hand almost all the way through the movie. Sure, it was supposed to be a punishment, but maybe it was more than that? This is Jade, she’s talking about, so maybe a little light bondage is part of a casual date. Was it a date? Is the Thin Man marathon going to be a date? Does Jade want to date her?

All of these questions roll through her mind as she brushes her teeth, takes out her contacts, and changes into her pajamas. When she falls asleep with all the lamps in her room turned on, she’s not even really worried about zombies, at all.

Three hours later, her laptop wakes her up because someone’s trying to call her on a video chat.

Tori peers over the edge of the bed to where her PearBook sits on the floor. Usually she closes it before going to bed, but she was using it before going to the movies and she didn’t bother with it once she got home. She has to grope around for her glasses so she can read the screen and when she slips them on, she sees who’s calling her.

It’s Jade.

She pulls the computer onto her lap and finally stops the incessant chiming of the incoming call request. A window opens and the side of Jade’s face is visible as she lies on her bed and looks at her own laptop.

“If you’re calling to scare me, it’s not funny,” Tori says.

“I’m not. I just… your were still logged in and I wanted to know if you remember which movie it was that Sikowitz told us to watch for method acting.”

Tori rubs her eyes under her glasses as she tries to remember. “The Blair Witch Project?” she suggests. “Wait, why wouldn’t you remember that? You love that movie.”

“I…”

“Jade… are you video chatting me because you can’t sleep?”

“No.” There’s silence, then, “So what if I can’t? I’m nocturnal, as it is.”

“And that’s why you called to wake me up and ask me about a movie you own in probably two different special edition formats?”

Jade mumbles something, but Tori can’t quite make it out.

“What?”

“I said,” Jade sits up enough so Tori can see her whole face. “I had a stupid dream and I can’t go back to sleep.”

“Like a nightmare? Aren’t those your favorite?”

“Usually. This one was just… different.”

“Want to talk about it?”

“No.” Jade flops back down.

This is the first time Tori’s ever been on a video chat alone with Jade. It’s actually not so bad. Maybe it’s because Jade is so tired, she doesn’t have the energy to be mean. Maybe it’s because they kissed. Tori kind of wants to ask. But she also doesn’t want to ruin whatever’s happening, right now. “What do you want to do?”

“Watch something stupid so I can fall back asleep?”

“Do you want something like weird 80s infomercials on YouTube stupid or cartoon stupid?”

“I was thinking more like your face. Especially with those glasses, by the way.”

“And, I’m hanging up on you.”

“Okay, fine. Like Ren and Stimpy stupid.”

Tori already has Netflix open. “Which episode?”

“Powdered Toast Man.”

It takes four tries to get the videos synced (and Jade grumbling that Tori was “doing it wrong.”), but then they’re watching the episode and Jade’s laughing at all the ridiculous jokes, though as the minutes pass, she laughs less and her eyes keep drifting shut. Before the show’s over, the girl on Tori’s screen is sound asleep. Jade actually looks pretty peaceful and unlike herself, at least from the half of her face that Tori can see.

Tori, meanwhile, is now wide awake. She doesn’t want to disconnect the call, in case Jade wakes back up, so she watches another episodes until she finally feels drowsy, again.

When she wakes up again, it’s morning. The video chat has been closed, but there’s a link in the chat box. When Tori clicks it, it opens a YouTube video of a zombie scene from Night of the Living Dead.

“Oh, chiz!” She snaps the laptop shut.

School starts in less than two hours, so Tori trudges into the bathroom to get a start on her day. Trina’s door is closed, but she can still hear her sister snoring from the hallway. She’s glad she woke up in time to beat her to the shower. Maybe last night’s yacht party was a good thing if it had Trina out late enough to keep her sleeping for now.

The steamy warmth of the shower makes her linger longer than usual and her peaceful, quiet experience is abruptly ended when Trina pounds on the door and screams something about her morning regime.

“All yours,” Tori says, laced with faux-sweetness. She clutches her towel around herself as she passes her glaring sister in the hallway.

“Thanks.” Trina offers an equally fake smile then slams the door behind her as she locks herself in the bathroom.

As she pads back into her bedroom, Tori runs her fingers through her towel dried hair, her other hand gripping the front of the towel shut. Once she shuts the bedroom door behind her, she’s about to drop the towel altogether when she realizes someone’s in the room with her.

She screams and scrambles to keep herself covered. “What are you doing in here?”

Jade sits in Tori’s rolling desk chair, lazily twisting back and forth. “Waiting for you to hurry up so I can get some coffee before school.” She takes a sip from the paper coffee cup that’s in her hand.

“How did you get in here?”

“Trina let me in. And she is not nice or pretty at this hour. Or ever.”

Tori seethes for a moment at the fact that Trina didn’t even warn her. “Are you trying to kill me with a heart attack? And you already have coffee.”

“Well, I’m going to need more after last night.” Jade leans down and casually rubs at a spot on her boot. “I thought you might need it, too. Since you were up with me.”

Tori nods, taking in what Jade’s saying. “I could use some coffee.” Still holding the towel against her body, she pulls together an outfit for the day. “Do you think you could…” She indicates that Jade needs to turn around.

Jade spins in the chair and faces the wall. “If you can manage to hurry up, we’ll have time for breakfast burritos.”

"Are you buying?"

"If you can manage to be ready to go in… six minutes, I'll buy your stupid burrito."

"And coffee?"

"Don't push it."

Getting dressed only takes a couple minutes, but there’s no way Tori’s going the be able to blow dry her hair if she wants free breakfast. Is it worth it?

“Two minutes,” Jade warns, slumped in the seat with her feet braced against the bedroom wall.

Tori makes a few passes with her comb, still trying to make her decision. “I’m dressed, you can turn around.”

“You say that like I want to look at you.” But Jade does turn and she looks a little surprised at how quickly Tori’s thrown herself together. “Ninety seconds.”

Abandoning the comb, Tori grabs her bag to make sure everything she need is in it. She can feel Jade’s eyes on her. “What?”

“Are you really sure that’s what you want to wear today?”

“Why?” Tori lowers the bag and looks down at herself. “Is it not okay? Is it this shirt? It’s new. I wasn’t sure about it when I bought it.”

Jade sits up and smirks. “Sixty seconds.”

Tori narrows her eyes. “You…”

“I’m just trying to make sure you’re ready.” Jade stands, leveling their eyeline.

“I am.”

“You’re sure? It’s just a two dollar burrito. Or I can even just go on without you. I’m sure Trina has room for you in her car.”

There’s a screech from the bathroom that barely resembles the latest Ginger Fox single. Tori shudders. She grabs her phone and stuffs it in her bag. There’s one last look in the mirror and she pouts at the way her damp hair hangs down. But she’s not losing this one.

With thirty seconds still on the clock, Tori shoulders her bag and says, “Let’s go.”

Chapter Text

Jade actually does end up paying for both the coffee and breakfast burritos, though she claims it’s because she doesn’t like change due to the fact that, “It’s annoying.”

She and Tori sit in the school parking lot, listening to Jade’s car radio while they eat breakfast together. There’s a morning talk show on and the current segment has the hosts making prank calls to people.

So far, the morning’s actually not bad.

As Jade finishes her burrito, she stuffs the wrapper in the paper bag and picks up her coffee. Tori’s particularly invested in this current prank call, eyes wide as she listens to the situation escalate. To be fair, it’s pretty funny. But Jade’s a little distracted, thinking about the earlier moment in the day when Tori almost dropped her towel in her bedroom.

It’s not like Jade was hoping to catch Tori naked. And it’s not that she’s disappointed that she didn’t (though, it probably would have been hilarious to watch Tori stammer and stutter in the wake of it happening). It’s just that she kind of feels bad for catching her off guard. And that’s weird. Because, if anything, Jade lives for making Tori feel vulnerable. That’s what the previous night had been all about, with the scary movie and the teasing. It’s fun to make Tori squirm.

Jade knows all the right buttons to push and Tori almost always reacts exactly as expected. Usually. Scare Tori? She screams. Gross Tori out? She shudders. Kiss Tori? She… kisses back.

Though, that kiss wasn’t something Jade was planning. It just happened. Even if the whole night had been… weird. But maybe things have been shifting for a while. After her break up with Beck, Jade’s found herself hanging out with Tori without the whole group. Sometimes maybe with Cat. But sometimes just them. Especially after their forced Nozu date, thanks to Sikowitz.

And, since then, it seems like maybe Tori doesn’t actually react the way Jade expects her to. Which makes Jade try harder to get a bigger reaction. Tori’s a challenge and Jade has no plan to back down from her.

Jade isn’t sure what to do with that.

“That was a delicious free burrito.” Tori stuffs her trash in the paper bag and wipes her hands with a napkin. “Best two dollars I didn’t spend this morning.”

“Your hair looks terrible.”

Tori looks at herself in the passenger side mirror. “Is it really bad? Can you maybe drive around for a minute so I can try to dry it out the window a some more?”

“It didn’t work all the way from your house to the burrito stand, why would it work now?”

“Maybe just a little more will really sell the wind blown look.”

“Maybe you should have thought before you chose the burrito over your hair dryer.” Jade turns to lean into the backseat where she rummages through the books, a couple flannel shirts, and Tori’s chair before she finds what she’s looking for. “Here.” She produces a green and black striped beanie, which she hands to Tori.

“You didn’t find this on a bum or a dead body or something, did you?”

“Does it matter?”

“Yes, it matters! I’m not wearing dead bum hat!”

“Relax, it’s from a stupid two for one Hot Topic sale. I haven’t even worn it.”

Tori pulls the beanie on and it’s something of an improvement. It clashes with the shirt she’s wearing, but it keeps her hair under control. “Hey, that looks all right.”

“Yeah, for you.”

From inside Tori’s bag, there’s the sound of a PearPhone ringing. Tori fishes it out and answers. “Hey, Andre. Yeah. Uh huh. Yes, I’m in Jade’s car. No… I’m not being held against my will. I promise. Y--”

Jade snatches the phone from Tori. “Andre? Hi. Mind your own business!” She pulls back and looks at the screen. “He hung up,” she says, handing it back.

“He’s just watching out for me.”

“Why does no one understand that if I wanted to actually hurt you, I would have done it a long time ago?”

“Because you’re scary.”

“Thank you.”

“Hi hi!” comes a voice from outside Jade’s window.

Without looking, Jade knows who it is. “Hi, Cat.” She turns off the radio. “Guess it’s time to go in.”

Tori gathers up her bag and her phone, then takes one last look at herself in the mirror. “Are you sure this looks ok--”

“Tori!” Jade shouts and her passenger cringes against the door. “You look fine.” Just as Tori relaxes and begins to smile at her, Jade pushes at her shoulder. “Now get out of the car.”

Tori pushes right back. “You get out.”

“It’s my car!” Just as Jade’s about to give another shove, Tori twists away. The slight change in momentum pulls Jade forward just enough that she falls toward Tori.

“You planning to open my door for me, again?”

Jade straightens herself back up, though she’s still right on the edge of Tori’s personal space. “Maybe I--”

The passenger door swings open and Cat’s popping her head inside. “Beck says that if you two can’t stop fighting, he’s going to lock you in the janitor’s closet together until you work things out.”

Tori shakes her head. “We weren’t figh--” Her eyes fall on where she’s still gripping Jade’s wrist. She loosens the hold and her fingers slide over Jade’s as she draws her hand back.

“Guess we’d better get to class so we don’t get locked up.” Jade fights a smirk, though it still manages to surface.

They walk toward the school entrance with their friends, Tori at the head of the group with Andre and Cat, Jade bringing up the rear with Beck at her side.

“Everything okay?” He asks her.

Jade shoots him a look. “Why wouldn’t it be?”

“You just seem…” Beck steps in front of her to take a good look. It’s been a couple months since their break up and things have balanced out to be okay between them, though they still don’t hang out nearly as much as they used to. That said, Beck’s still probably the best person at reading Jade, even if she doesn’t want to be read.“I’m not sure. But it’s not normal.”

“You’re not normal, Canadian.”

“That one really doesn’t work as an insult.”

“Maybe I’m not feeling particularly insulting, this morning.”

“That’s what I mean! You’re not very… aggressive.”

“I’m aggressive!” Jade smacks her palm against his chest.

He rubs at the spot where she made contact. “Still a little weak, for you.”

They enter the building together and three girls begin to swarm toward Beck, on sight, until they notice Jade walking with him and they all stop in their tracks. One of them looks like she might actually cry.

“Oh, relax. He’s still single.” Jade says, rolling her eyes. “Like any of you pathetic losers would ever have a chance.”

“There she is,” Beck says, flashing her a smile before they split up to head for their lockers.

Jade’s first class is American Film Narrative, which actually puts her in a good mood, most days. Today, she’s already in a decent headspace, so between periods when Rex says something about the way her shirt “hugs in all the right places” she doesn’t even feel the need to punch Robbie in the face.

At lunch, Jade’s the first to make it to the group’s regular table at the Asphalt Cafe, but Tori’s quick to join her. The acting class they have together isn’t until the afternoon, so the only time they’ve seen each other today is in the halls and there wasn’t much time to talk.

“So what’s The Thin Man even about? And why is there a marathon?” Tori asks, picking up her sandwich.

“Seriously?” Jade manages not to drop her fork into her salad “Were you born in a vault, somewhere?”

“Do you have to act like I’m a freak every time I don’t know about some random movie?”

“Yes.”

“Well, now that we’re done with that part, can you please tell me what it’s about?”

“Mid-thirties detective movie. Comedy-mystery. Based on the Dashiel Hammett novel.”

“It was made in the thirties or the detective is in his thirties?”

“Are you--” Jade’s initial reaction is to be annoyed, but then she realizes it’s a valid question. “Actually, both? I think. But it’s a husband and wife detective team.”

“Sounds fun. The movies are good?”

“Of course they’re good. Why would we show them if they weren’t good?”

Tori shrugs, apparently satisfied with the answer, because she takes a big bite of sandwich instead of asking any other questions.

Andre, Robbie, and Rex approach the table and Andre’s in the middle of describing something. “And in the middle of the scene where this freaky girl is eating the bodies of her family, Cat spills her soda on me and I screamed. People thought I couldn’t handle my zombies, but I could! It was just very cold! In my lap!”

Tori shudders. “That scene had me about ready to crawl under my chair.”

“I mean, yeah, it was nasty and intense, but I was-- Wait.” Andre cocks his head, thinking before he takes a seat across from the girls. “You weren’t there.”

“She wasn’t where?” It’s Cat, taking the spot to Andre’s left.

“At the movie where you drenched my favorite jeans with Dr. Pepper,” says Andre.

Robbie adds, “And you posted on your Slap page that you’ve never seen it.”

“Never seen what?” Beck asks, nudging Robbie closer to Andre so he can fit in the space next to Tori.

Night of the Living Dead,” answers Cat.

Jade stares at her salad, jabbing her fork at the same tomato several times in a row. As much as she insisted Tori not tell anyone about her job at the theater, she can’t really blame her if it comes out, because their friends are so damn nosy.

“I…” Under the table, Tori pats Jade on the knee. “... couldn’t sleep last night, so I watched it online with the link that Beck sent me.” The contact is fleeting, but Jade actually misses it as soon as it stops.

Everyone else at the table considers the explanation, then they nod and agree that it makes perfect sense. Jade releases the breath she was holding and tosses a glance at Tori. “Bet you were pretty scared watching it all alone, like that.”

“It wasn’t so bad.”

“Why, because old movies aren’t scary?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.” Tori’s thigh bumps against Jade’s. “I just didn’t have any bad dreams because of it, or anything.”

“Lucky you.” Jade reaches over and takes Tori’s pickle off her plate. “I’m eating this.”

“Something’s weird between you two.” Andre says, studying them from across the table. “I don’t know what it is. But it’s weird.”

“Yeah, why are you two… not fighting?” asks Robbie.

“Because Beck says that if they can’t get along,” Cat says, repeating the message she delivered to the girls earlier that morning, “he’s locking them in the janitor’s closet together.”

Jade turns to shoot a look at Beck. “Yeah, who made you King of the Get Along Gang, by the way?”

Beck shrugs. “I just think you two have a lot more in common than you realize.” If he has anything further to say, it’s lost behind the huge bite he just took out of his burger.

“Tori?”

“Yes, Jade?”

“Do you enjoy sunrises?”

“Sure.”

“What about cuddly kittens?”

“Of course.”

“And what did you do for your last birthday?”

“Um… My parents took me out for sushi and then we had a Star Wars marathon.”

“Great.” Jade piles up her trash in her salad container. “I hate mornings. I’m allergic to cats.” There’s a whimper from Cat. “And for my last birthday my dad emailed me thirty shares of stock in his company.”

“Hey, a sound financial investment is a great path to future succ--”

“Robbie, I will shove that puppet down your throat.” Jade stands, trying to avoid making eye contact with Tori as she steps out over the bench to get away from the table.

“Whoa,” Rex says, “I already spend all day with his hand in places I’d rather not speak of.”

“Jade!” Tori calls out after her, but Jade keeps walking.

So much for her moderately decent mood.

Chapter Text

Tori spends the rest of her lunch period looking for Jade, but not before giving the guys, especially Beck, an earful about how she and Jade have managed to be friends without their interference.

Though, with the way Jade stormed off, Tori isn’t sure what their status is. Okay, and it’s not just the events of today that are confusing, it’s last night. They kissed less than twenty-four hours ago, they kind of had a breakfast date, there was some playful under the table bumping at lunch, and now Jade’s M.I.A.

Tori finally just decides to text her. Are you okay?

The response comes pretty quickly. Peachy. Never better.

If you want to talk about anything, I’m here.

Because they both have PearPhones, Tori can see that Jade’s typing a reply, but a couple minutes pass before she finally sends it.

I don’t.

For the moment, Tori gives up. But that’s only because she knows they’ll both be in Sikowitz’s class next period. That is, if Jade decides to show up and not continue hiding wherever she is.

But she does come to class and she actually takes the seat right next to Tori, which just adds to the overall confusion about everything. For the first ten minutes of class, Jade appears to be incredibly wrapped up in the lesson about on-stage movement choices, but then she usually does have a strong interest in anything to do with acting. Still, Tori feels like maybe she’s being ignored.

“Everyone,” instructs Sikowitz, “pick a partner and face your chairs toward each other.”

Tori’s about to look around the room for a partner, since she’s unsure about what Jade’s thinking, right now, but there’s the sound of the chair next to her scraping against the floor.

“Well?” Jade asks, looking right at Tori.

“Okay.” Tori complies and turns her own seat so that her knees are practically knocking squarely against Jade’s.

“Good, now I want everyone to have a conversation with your partner.” There’s a murmur through the room about how easy a task this will be. Sikowitz continues. “The only rule is, once you begin, you may not move your body. You may discuss whatever you’d like, just don’t move.”

Jade’s in her usual in-class posture, which means she’s slightly slouched in her chair with her arms crossed over her chest. Tori, on the other hand, is leaning forward, palms against her knees.

“So…” Tori drums her fingers.

“Pretty sure you’re not supposed to be doing that,” Jade says, watching Tori’s hands.

The drumming stops. “Why’d you leave during lunch?”

“Because Beck was being an idiot.”

“For saying we have things in common? Because… he’s not wrong. We like a lot of the same stuff.” Tori is immediately met with an expression from Jade that challenges that statement. “Or some. A few things. We both like music.”

“That’s stupid. Everyone likes music, especially at this school.” Jade’s gaze darts to Sikowitz, then back to Tori. “And it wasn’t even about that. Just just hate when he… decides things for me. If I want to be your stupid friend, I can do that without him holding my hand to get me there.”

Tori sits up. “That’s exactly what I told him!” She realizes she’s breaking the only rule of the exercise and quickly returns to her previous position. “After everything we went through during the Platinum Music Awards, I think you and I at least appreciate each other.”

“I appreciate that I didn’t want to wear that idiotic outfit on national television.”

“Downplay it all you want, I know why you did it.”

Jade shrugs and stares at the floor. “Why didn’t you tell them about the movie theater?”

“Because you asked me not to. And it’s something that seems very important to you.”

“That’s… pretty cool of you.” Jade frowns. “Though now Beck thinks he’s responsible for you having seen the movie.”

“Does it matter?”

“I guess not.”

“You were right, though. It was definitely better than watching it alone in my room on my computer.” Tori’s arm is getting tired from leaning on it, but she can deal with it.

“I know.”

“Are we still on for later this week?”

Jade’s eyebrows scrunch together. “Why wouldn’t we be?”

“I didn’t know if you’d reconsidered when you’d disappeared during lunch today.”

There’s an eyeroll in response. “I was mad at him, not you.”

“It’s hard to tell. Usually it just seems like you’re mad at everyone.”

“Sometimes I am.” Sikowitz is on the other side of the room, watching Andre and Robbie’s exchange, so it’s safe for Jade to shift her foot and bump it against Tori’s. “But I’m not mad at you. Up until lunch, today was actually… good.”

“Yeah?”

“Last night was good, too.”

Tori smiles at the mention of the previous evening.“You did coerce me into watching one of your favorite movies.”

“That movie is always great. But I was talking about… after.”

“After.” No further specification is needed, because Tori knows exactly which part of the night Jade means. “Can I ask you why--”

“I don’t know why.” It’s almost like Jade recoils, though she doesn’t change her physical position. Her voice is quieter when she continues. “I just wanted to. I do what I want.”

Tori wants to reach over and take Jade’s hand, but she can’t. She’s not supposed to move. “I…” Anything out of her mouth is going to sound ridiculously cheesy and she doesn’t want to make Jade regret opening up, even if it was just the tiniest bit. But she also wants to be encouraging. “You should do it again.”

“What, now?” Jade’s expression is amused, as if she’s genuinely considering kissing Tori in the middle of class.

“No! We can’t… we’re not supposed to move.”

Jade hums. “Too bad.” Her eyes linger on Tori’s lips long enough that Tori isn’t sure how much longer she can hold herself up on the arm that’s braced against her leg.

“And, time!” Sikowitz claps his hands from the stage at the front of the classroom. “You are free to move.”

Tori sighs in relief and leans back in her chair, though Jade just continues to watch her. The look she’s being given reminds Tori of plenty of times when Jade was most likely planning to torture her, but there’s something slightly different working behind those intense eyes.

“What?”

“Nothing,” Jade replies, easily. She smirks as she finally straightens up to twist her chair back around to face the front of the room.

“Now, what was the point of that exercise?” Sikowitz asks.

“To give you time to crack a fresh coconut?” Rex answers.

The teacher shakes his head, though that doesn’t stop him from taking a sip from the coconut beverage in his hands. “No! It was to give you awareness. When we speak, even in the most casual conversations, we have tactile instincts.” He looks out at the students, who just stare blankly back at him. “We want to move. To touch. A pat, a nudge, a slap… it could be anything. And by removing the ability to do those things, you become much more aware of that desire. Andre! When Robbie wouldn’t stop talking incessantly about his trip to the scale model museum, what was your instinct?”

“Uh, to take a nap?”

“Excellent! Beck, when Cat described her brother’s latest… er, science project… what did you want to do?”

“Run out of the room, possibly screaming.”

“Perfect.”

“Jade! When Tori suggested you two share common interests, what was your natural inclination?”

“To ignore her.”

“That… well, we don’t always have physical reactions in a particular moment.”

“But after that I wanted to shove her against a wall,” says Jade.

Tori quickly protests. “Hey!”

“Ah!” Sikowitz nods. “Much better!”

The bell rings, ending the lesson. But Tori’s not finished.

“That whole time you wanted to shove me around?” she asks Jade.

Jade stands, shouldering her message bag. “That’s not what I said. Maybe you should work on your listening skills.”

“I really don’t see how shoving me against a wall is any diff--” Tori nearly drops her PearPhone. If Jade’s suggesting what she thinks she’s suggesting, that means… “Oh.

Jade examines the green streak in her hair. “If you want to walk with me to my locker, I won’t try to ditch you.”

“I’d like that.”

“Then hurry up.”

“I’m literally standing right here, waiting for--”

Jade grabs Tori by the wrist and pulls her out of the classroom. She lets go when they’re clear of the doorway, but as they walk, they’re still close enough that their arms bump into each other with each couple of steps. As they round the corner, Jade deliberately knocks her shoulder into Tori’s. Not hard, but just enough to make Tori want to retaliate by returning the gesture. It’s clear that, at this point, they’re flirting like nine year olds.

And maybe she’s hoping Jade will follow through with this whole thing about the wall.

She’s a little too caught up in what that might exactly entail to notice that they’ve reached Jade’s locker and Jade has to grab her by the strap of her bag to keep her from walking too far.

“Hey, are you two fighting?” It’s Robbie, because his locker is right next to Jade’s.

“Leave us alone,” Jade says, spinning her lock into the right combination.

“Because I told Beck I’d let him know if--”

Jade looks about ready to slam his head against the display of rubber nipples, but Tori steps between them and just says, “Go away or I’ll… hang Rex, feet first, from the flagpole!”

Robbie whimpers and dashes off in the other direction with Rex cradled against his chest.

“Hey, that one actually had some bite, Vega.” Jade seems to have found whatever she needs for her next class, because her locker is now closed and she’s leaning against it.

“I can be intimidating.”

“Well, let’s not exaggerate.”

“You don’t think I can scare you?”

“You? Who ran into your house and turned on every single light, last night?”

Tori smiles, because this confirms what she’d already thought about Jade waiting to make sure she’d gotten inside okay. “Yes, me.”

“You can try. Though, it’ll be hard when you’re four classrooms away.”

Jade’s right. They have separate classes now and won’t see each other until their stagecraft class, last period. “I’ll figure something out.”

“Fine.”

“Fine.”

“Fine,” Tori repeats.

There’s a pause, because it’s like neither of them actually want to go to class. But then Jade turns around to walk toward her scene study workshop. Tori prepares to pounce, to shout and startle her, but the second her feet leave the floor, Jade spins back around and shouts, “No!”

Tori clutches her heart, “You scared the chiz out of me.”

“See?”

“You’re going to be late.”

That damn eyebrow cocks upward. “So are you.”

It’s enough to get Tori scrambling to her songwriting class, but not without tossing a glance back at the girl who smirks at her before spinning back around in the other direction.

Over the next hour, Tori brainstorms to try and come up with something that will prove her ability be intimidating. She thinks about the things that make her nervous: Bush daisies, pop quizzes, giant lobster men… the quiz thing is probably universal, but the other stuff is so specific to herself that there’s no way they’d spook someone like Jade. No, Jade likes terrible, awful, scary things. Maybe Tori should chase her with dozens of puppies.

That thought just leaves Tori smiling as she thinks about assorted puppies tripping over each other, their fluffy fur making them look like a big puppy cloud.

“Are… you okay?” Andre asks.

“What?” Tori shakes herself out of her fuzzy daydream. “Yes.”

“You look like you ate one of Festus’ special burritos.”

Tori shakes her head. “I was just thinking about puppies. You think puppies would scare someone like Jade?”

“I don’t think so. You sure you’re all right?”

“I’m fine. It’s nothing.”

“So we can get back to working on this song?”

“Of course.”

Though, Andre decides to take a break when she suggests, “A thousand tiny licks and puppy breath makes time not tick,” as a lyric.

By the time last period rolls around, Tori knows exactly what to do. When she enters the space, she grabs one of the over-sized button up shirt smocks that are available for days like today, when they’re painting sets or stage furniture. Today, it’s the latter, and Jade’s already rolling blue paint over a basic wooden bench. She kind of looks like she does when she’s working in the booth at the theater, because her hair’s up and the plaid smock shirt’s sleeves are rolled up to her elbows.

Tori collects a brush and a small can of paint so she can get to work on a stool that’s next to Jade’s bench. “Hey, so, did you hear?” she asks, setting up her workspace.

“What?” Jade barely looks up from where she’s rolling paint onto the piece of furniture.

“You had to have heard.” Tori adjusts the beanie and wishes she had a hair tie. But she doesn’t and she knows she has Jade hooked, so she doesn’t want to leave to check her locker for one.

“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Still, no real interest. Jade’s focused on her task.

“You’re saying you haven’t heard anything about Disney buying the rights to The Scissoring? And that they’re remaking the entire series?”

The roller fumbles in Jade’s hand, but she grasps the handle more tightly, so it doesn’t fall. “What.” It’s not a question. It’s a demand for a retraction. Her whole body turns toward Tori. “The whole series? They can’t do that! It’s a masterpiece. It’s a classic. Disney?”

Tori leans in, ever so slightly, and pokes Jade’s arm. “Gotcha.”

For a second it almost looks like Jade might cry. And then her shoulders square and she narrows her eyes. “You.”

“I scared you.” Tori’s eyes shift from Jade’s face to the roller in her hand. “And you… are planning to do what with that?”

“This?” Jade looks down and contemplates the paint covered tool. Then she reaches forward and very deliberately rolls it down the front of Tori’s smock. “That’s what I planned to do with it.”

“Okay, you know what? I warned you two. But this is out of control.” Beck is suddenly stepping between them.

“Maybe you should--” Jade looks like she’s about to roll paint in Beck’s hair.

“Jade!” Tori shouts. “He’s right. He warned us. We earned a trip to the janitor’s closet.”

“But--” The paint roller drops, but Jade’s still shooting daggers with her eyes. “Fine, whatever. It’s better than this stupid class.”

She chucks the roller into the paint tin, splattering Sinjin with blue specs. It doesn’t seem to bother him. He just looks at his newly flecked jeans and nods. “Nice.”

Chapter Text

The entire time Beck escorts them from the black box to the janitor’s closet, Jade wants to scream. But it’s only about fifty feet and Tori isn’t making a big deal out of it, so Jade does her best to just keep her cool.

“Twenty minutes in the penalty box,” Beck says, holding the door to the closet open.

“Don’t speak Canadian to me,” Jade shoots back.

“Hockey is a perfectly acceptable national sport!” is Beck’s automatic reply.

Tori’s the first to enter the space and once Jade’s in there with her, the door shuts.

“This is stupid.” Jade insists, marching across the small room to the opposite side.

“Maybe.” Tori’s hovering by the door, looking out the small window. After a moment, she grabs a mop and places it over the glass frame, letting the strings of the mop head act as a makeshift window covering. “But now we’re alone.” For good measure, she locks the door.

Jade’s been in defensive mode because of Beck, but that quickly changes as she considers that Tori’s absolutely right. “You wanted to end up in here.”

“I didn’t officially plan it,” Tori admits, “but I know how to recognize an opportunity with one’s presented.”

“Well, well.” Jade takes a couple steps in Tori’s direction. “Look who managed to intimidate and manipulate, all in one class period.” Once upon a time, this kind of set up would have resulted in Tori backing away, but she’s standing her ground. As much as Jade’s fueled by making people fear her, having Tori square off in front of her is stoking a very specific kind of fire.

Tori’s eyeline seems to be fixed on Jade’s mouth. And maybe, sometimes, somewhere lower. “Did you still want to--?”

“-- shove you against a wall?” Jade nods. “Or a door.”

There’s a moment that hangs, that feels like it’s impossibly longer than it can actually be, where Tori wets her lips and Jade just watches, one eyebrow likely elevated as she does, and then time speeds back up to punctuate with the thud of Tori’s back meeting the closet door. Her hands are bunched up in Jade’s over-sized shirt; Jade’s hands are flat against the door on either side of Tori’s head. Their mouths are connected and, this time, the contact isn’t fleeting after a kiss and a half.

Instead, their kisses evolve and Jade’s immediately aware that there’s a particular sound Tori makes when their tongues move against each other and she wants to hear it again. And a lot. Tori, meanwhile, releases the bunches of shirt to let her hands rest on Jade’s hips. It doesn’t even qualify as groping, but Jade hears her own voice groan in response to it.

They kiss like this until they’re out of breath, maybe ten minutes, though Jade’s concept of time dissolved well before now.

“I think,” Tori pants. “I need to sit down.”

“Then sit down.”

They’re still tangled up in each other, so they both slide to the floor, though once they get there, Jade repositions herself so she’s sitting next to Tori, both of them leaning back against the door. Tori’s hand is wrapped up in Jade’s, fingers locked.

“You know,” Tori says, still a little out of breath, “I’d been thinking about that all day, but it was not… this was…”

“I’m going to assume the rambling means good.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah,” Jade agrees. Last night’s kiss was taking a chance, testing the waters. This one, actually these dozens of kisses that just happened here, these were an exploration. And Jade’s pretty sure she likes what she’s discovered.

Tori apparently does, too. “So this means the Thin Man thing is definitely a date.”

“Yes.” The confirmation is immediate. No question. “You’re buying dinner.”

“Why me?”

“Because I’m showing you the movie.”

Tori’s mouth opens to counter, but then she shrugs. “Yeah, okay.” She turns to get a better view of Jade. “So, really?”

“Really, what?”

“Really, we’re going out.”

“I don’t just buy breakfast burritos for anyone.”

“I thought that was because I won the challenge!”

“Would you rather win the challenge or be my girlfriend?” That word, the definition of what’s happening here, makes it all the more real.

Tori hesitates, as if thinking about it. “Well…” Jade leans in and kisses Tori, again, her hand moving up to tangle in Tori’s hair. This ultimately leads to the beanie ending up wadded up on Jade’s hand. Tori pulls back. “You know, if you wanted your hat back, you could have just--”

But Jade just opts for more kissing.

Until there’s a knock on the door. “Time’s up!” Comes Beck’s voice from the other side.

Jade groans, annoyed. “Go away!”

“I can’t see in there.” It’s Robbie’s voice. “Are both of you still alive?”

“We’re fine!” Tori calls back. She rests her chin on Jade’s shoulder. “How do you want to do this?”

“Do what?”

“This dating thing.”

“Well, I think it means you show up for the dates we decide to have. You bring me coffee at work. Make out with me in the janitor’s closet.” Jade looks down at their still intertwined fingers. “And you hold my hand in the hallways.”

“Starting now?”

“I mean, we’re already doing it.”

One of the guys pounds on the door, again. Tori pounds back, but then her attention is right back on Jade. “If we go out there like this, Beck might think he’s responsible for it happening.”

“You know what?” Jade decides. “Let him.”

She stands, pulling Tori to her feet. While the mop is still in front of the window, Jade steals one last secret kiss, then she tosses the mop aside and unlocks the door.

The second it opens, there’s a scream as Robbie, who’s running full speed at the now-open doorway, flies into the room and crashes into a trash can. “We thought you were trapped,” he mumbles from the floor.

“We’re fine,” Jade says, tugging Tori out into the hall.

“Maybe we should help…” Tori points back toward Robbie.

“On it,” Andre says, already stepping in to help heft the other boy up.

“So, did we learn to play nicely?” Beck asks. Jade knows he doesn’t really mean to sound so condescending and that he’s trying to be nice and funny and all the things Beck just naturally is.

Which is why she chooses not to flaunt what’s just happened with Tori right in front of his face. The handholding is still happening, but she’s not going to instigate a makeout session in front of him, or anything.

“Something like that,” Jade finally says.

“Good.” Beck smiles and crosses his arms, pleased with himself.

That’s about all Jade can take, right now. “But you should know, she actually watched Night of the Living Dead with me. At the movie theater. Where I work. In the booth.” She’s not above an over the top wink at him before she looks to Tori. “I guess we still have painting to do.”

“Guess so.” Tori lets Jade lead the way down the hall, back to class.

As they round the corner, Jade hears Beck say, “Did anything about that seem weird to you guys?”

By the time school lets out, there are already rumours rumbling through the halls, though most of them are wildly inaccurate.

“Is it true?” Sinjin asks, out of breath as he screeches to a stop in front of Jade’s locker. He rests a hand against her arm as he steadies himself.

Jade directs her focus to where Sinjin’s touching her. “Three. Two.” The hand quickly withdraws. “What are you talking about?”

“You and Tori.”

“Oh.” She looks across the hall to where Tori’s stuffing her books back into her locker. Jade knew this was going to happen and she’s ready for it. This is just the first time she’s about to say anything out loud. “We--”

“-- discovered the secret chamber under the school with the ancient inscriptions that may summon our alien ancestors,” Sinjin finishes.

“No.”

“Oh.” He waves a hand in front of her. “Neither did I.” Then he slinks away.

But Jade’s not done answering questions. Cat and Robbie flank her on either side and the only way to even pretend to ignore them is to face her locker and pretend to be very interested in the papers shoved in the back.

“Jade,” Cat says.

“I’m busy.”

“Oh. Can we help?”

“She’s not busy,” says Robbie, “she’s trying to ignore us. Trust me, I know the signs.”

Rex joins in with, “Yeah and hers says, ‘All Trespassers Will be Shot on Sight’. Hide me!”

Jade finally decides to just confront them all, head on. She slams her locker shut and turns around. “What do you want?”

Cat’s not at all fazed. “Robbie says he saw something interesting when he broke you out of the janitor’s closet.”

“Oh he did, did he?” Jade doesn’t even have to look to know that Robbie’s already cowering.

“Did I say I broke them out? I meant that I broke through the already open door when--”

Across the hall, Tori seems to be fielding her own inquisition from assorted students and Jade doesn’t feel right leaving her alone with them for much longer. “Just spill it, spaz!”

“I think you gave Tori a prison tattoo of a unicorn on her lower back,” Robbie spits out from behind Rex.

Jade can’t even respond to the absurdity she’s just heard. Cat, on the other hand, has no problem speaking up.

“Oh, I thought you were going to say that they’re going out.”

“Wait,” Jade snaps her attention over to Cat. “Who told you that?”

“You did.”

“No, I didn’t.”

“Okay, not so much with words, but when you two came back to class, holding hands and making googly eyes at each other, what else was I supposed to think?” Cat looks up at Jade, expectantly.

“We weren’t making…” There’s a glance at Tori, who’s now just leaning against her locker, watching Jade interact with Cat and Robbie. “Whatever, yeah. Okay. Can you leave me alone, now?”

“Don’t you want to tell us all about how--” But Cat’s cut off by Jade.

“No!”

That sends the other two skittering away, for now. Jade makes her way to Tori’s side of the hall.

“I guess the word is out,” Tori says. “We are, in fact, operating a jelly bean black market.”

“No one here can keep their mouths shut, apparently.” Jade rests a shoulder against the locker next to Tori’s. “Ready to go home?”

“You’re going to make me buy coffee on the way aren’t you?”

“Yep.” Jade holds her hand out and Tori takes it. The middle of the school day sucked, but it started and is now ending on a pretty decent note. Maybe Jade’s going to have to get used to being in a good mood.

A group of freshman linger in the doorway to the school.

“Get out of the way!” she screams. They scatter like bugs. A good mood doesn’t necessarily translate to being nice to everyone.

The ride back to Tori’s house is similar to their morning trip to school, only they don’t have to find excuses to touch each other. That, however, doesn’t stop Jade from reaching over and pulling Tori’s beanie all the way down over her face while they wait in the Jet Brew drive-thru.

“Hey!” Tori yanks the hat back up.

“What, it’s a good look for you.”

“You’re saying you don’t like my face?”

“Your face is fine.”

“Now that we’re going out, maybe you should work on fleshing out the compliments a little more.” Tori doesn’t sound angry, but Jade knows she should probably take her seriously.

“One step at a time, Vega.” She rolls the car forward as the line moves up. “And, I like your face.”

That’s enough to cultivate one of those goofy smiles on Tori’s face. Jade wants to hate that she’s proud of putting it there, but then she really doesn’t hate anything about this whole situation.

She used to hate being happy. She used to insist Tori wasn't her friend. Maybe she just wasn’t ready for either one until now.

Chapter Text

When Tori shows up for the Thin Man marathon, she finds out Jade’s actually never seen any of the movies.

“And you were giving me a hard time about not having seen this?”

“At least I knew what it was.”

Three movies is a lot for a first official date, but they’re smart, funny, and there’s an actual mystery at the heart of each film. They’re actually so engaging that the temptation to make out in the dark booth is sidelined because both girls want to see what happens. It’s already late when Jade drops Tori off, but that doesn’t stop them from texting each other until three in the morning.

The next screening is an old silent movie called The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, which Jade has never seen. Tori, on the other hand, has watched it a few times, because it’s one of her dad’s favorites.

“Seriously?” Tori asks. “But it’s everything you like. Weird, creepy doctors doing bizarre things to people.”

“I’d never even heard of it until I checked the reel last night.”

“And there’s a crazy murder prophecy--”

“I get it! It’s creepy and weird and I’m a failure for not having seen it.”

“You do realize this is what you do to me everytime I don’t know about something.”

“Okay, but who’s never seen the original Robocop? And your dad is a cop.”

They’re quick to figure out that impromptu kissing is the best way to resolve these petty arguments.

A full week after their first shared experience in the projection booth, they’re finally presented with a movie they’ve both seen. And it’s not that Jade wouldn’t normally want to commit her full attention to a Roger Corman classic like Bucket of Blood (again, another apparent staple in the Vega household and another reason why Jade can’t figure out why Tori had never seen a quintessential zombie movie like Night of the Living Dead), but she’s also seventeen and in a very dark, private space with her girlfriend who isn’t demanding they watch the film, this time.

They’ve been kissing all week, between classes, in the car, before and after the feature presentations in the theater. But tonight’s the first night that hands have really been allowed to wander freely. Not that there hasn’t been touching, but it’s hasn’t been purposed and direct. Not like right now, when Tori’s fingers brush under the curve of Jade’s breast and don’t shy away, back down her side, like they normally do. There’s still a hesitation until Jade nods, then there’s Tori’s hand, cupping her through her shirt. It’s not an entirely new experience, but it’s new for them and they spend the next hour just groping each other, over their clothes, while testing the boundaries of just how close to the neckline can someone leave a hickey without it being obvious to everyone else.

While the movie theater is the best place for them to be alone together, they find their way into each other’s bedrooms for hot and heavy makeout sessions. There’s a particularly intense evening spent in Jade’s room where things progress further. Not that any clothes come off, but Tori figures out exactly what it takes to leave Jade panting and begging (though Jade would argue that never happens) for more.

They’re lying on the bed, legs tangled together as they move, Tori above Jade, arms braced on either side of black and green splayed across a deep purple pillow. Jade’s hips rock upward as Tori angles with her. This has been happening for several minutes and, as time passes, it’s getting more erratic until Jade arches one last time and Tori collapses on top of her. It’s exhausting, but it’s worth it.

When Tori realizes it’s been six weeks, she’s amazed at how quickly the time has passed. But at the same time, it almost feels like she and Jade have been Tori and Jade (or Jade and Tori, depending on who you ask) for longer than that. Their friends, including Beck, adapted quickly. And maybe it’s because they’ve always been something to each other, even if they began as rivals. But then they’ve always balanced each other out, somehow.

She’s on her way up the steps to the projection booth, blanket tucked under her arm, because they’re supposed to have dinner during this showing of Howard the Duck. Nozu should have delivered their order a few minutes ago, but Tori hasn’t gotten a confirmation text from Jade. When she pushes open the door to the small, dark space, there’s a stack of cartons on the crate in the corner, but Jade is nowhere to be seen.

Tori sends off another text, telling her girlfriend that she’s arrived and then she busies herself with spreading the blanket on the floor. She’s about to set out the food when Jade walks into the room, closing the door behind her.

“Hey,” Tori greets.

“Hey.” But Jade sounds distant.

“Everything okay?”

Jade just shrugs and checks the projector, eyeing the sprockets and loops to make sure everything is in order before she flips the switch to begin the movie. She doesn’t bother to turn on the speaker before she drops onto the blanket next to Tori.

“They’re shutting it down.”

“Shutting what down?”

“This.” Jade halfhearted waves to the open space around them.

“The theater?” At Jade’s nod, Tori’s own shoulders sag. “Why?”

“Money. Idiocy. Whatever.”

“I am so sorry.”

“Can we just not talk about it?”

“Yeah, of course. Do you want to eat?”

Jade shakes her head. Food isn’t going to make her feel better, right now. She needs comfort and it’s difficult for her to ask for it. Fortunately, Tori’s becoming pretty good at reading her and she wraps her arms around Jade.

“It’s just…” Jade sighs. “This is our place. And it’s about to be gone.”

“It’s not gone, yet.”

The blanket was intended to be a picnic area, but it proves to be multi functional as they lie down together, the safety of the darkness around them, once again offering security as they explore each other, kissing and touching as they have before. But this time, there’s a further urgency. Jade’s comment about this being their space means they need to claim it, one last time.

“Tori?” Jade asks, her head resting against the blanket covered floor while she’s fairly certain she’s being given a hickey in a spot that isn’t entirely out of sight.

“Hmm?”

“Do you think you’d want to…” She pauses, not because of the question, necessarily, but because Tori’s hands are halfway up her shirt.

Tori’s head raises. “Do you mean… here? Right now?”

Jade nods. “If you want to.”

There’s a gentle kiss to Jade’s lips before Tori says, “I want to.”

Until tonight, everything has been above the belt, at least when it comes to under the clothes activity. Tori’s expression when she first saw Jade without her shirt is something Jade will never forget. Though, it’s bumped a little lower on the list when she experiences the look Tori makes as Jade’s fingers slip past her underwear and dip into slick heat. And those sounds from the time they first kissed in the janitor’s closet? Nothing compared the the way Tori pants and whimpers right before she comes.

Tori will argue that Jade’s the sexier of the two, because of the way she practically growls obscenities when she’s being touched, the way she demands things, only to have Tori make her wait. For as much as Jade demands instant gratification in her daily life, Tori’s quickly figuring out that delaying it in their more intimate interactions has excellent results.

They’re sweaty and the tiny room smells like sex and asian fusion food by the time they’re finished. But it’s worth it.

“I could probably eat now,” Jade comments, Tori draped over most of her body. “If I can find my clothes.” They aren’t naked, but Jade definitely has no idea where her bra went.

“I don’t want to move, yet.”

“Are you saying you need to work up more of an appetite?” Jade’s hand skirts along the skin of Tori’s side.

“No!” Tori laughs and twists away. “It’s was hard enough to be quiet the first time.”

“Who cares, it’s a terrible movie, anyway.” Immediately, Jade sulks. “They could have picked a better final run for this place.”

Tori rolls back toward Jade and kisses her cheek. “One day, you’ll be a famous filmmaker and you can buy your own theater.”

“Okay, but I’m putting a bed in the booth, because this floor is killing me.”

“You plan on making this a habit?” Tori asks, sitting up and feeling around in the dark for her clothes.

“Guess you’ll have to wait and find out.” Jade finds her bra under the edge of the blanket.

Tori flashes another one of her dopey grins and, even in the dim light of the booth, Jade can’t ignore it. Maybe she can’t even help smiling back.