As we saunter between the trees and along the path back to civilization, Jade veers into view. She's right at the edge of madness, rising to the tips of her toes and preparing to dive straight in as I catch her eye.
"I really, really hate you Vega." Jade states bluntly, as we walk towards where her and Beck are waiting on the porch. I roll my eyes and blow a derisive breath through my lips as we step towards them. Beck's eyes have seemingly gotten caught in my hair, but I'm sure it's not that noticeable. There's probably just something behind me. Yeah, that's it. It's just something in the woods.
"What's wrong with Beck?" Robbie asks after a moment, seemingly absorbing my concern through his fingers. From the corner of my eyes, I notice Robbie's hand darting back and forth, as he tries to wrench Beck's attention away from me. I'd feel a little more creeped out, but his eyes are unfocused and I'm not sure if he knows what he's even looking at. Beside him, Jade's features light up. Her emerald orbs shine with the type of glee that's usually reserved for mocking me. It's more than a little unsettling.
"Beckett here is just a little bit shocked that he lost the bet." Jade answers, slinking over to Beck and hanging over him languidly. Watching as Jade lifts her fingers and drums them casually on Beck's shoulder, I wonder what exactly the stakes in their bet were. Jade sure does look pleased though, leading me to believe I probably don't want to know even the vaguest details.
"What bet?" Robbie asks, his eyes narrowing suspiciously as he speaks. The satisfaction on Jade's features only deepens as Robbie's words curl around her. Something about the way her eyes flitter to me for a second brings around a sinking feeling in my stomach.
"Beckett and I made a little wager that the reason I couldn't find you two is because you were, well you know…" For a moment, it seems like Jade's not going to finish her sentence. I'm wrong though, so wrong.
"Doing it in the woods!" She finishes with a flourish, announcing our indiscretion to the world with unparalleled glee. I recoil immediately. My eyebrows shooting high onto my forehead as I attempt to sink back into the darkness. My heart is a pulsating lump within my throat right now and the only thing saving me from a full blown cardiac episode is the fact that nobody else is around to hear Jade.
"Sure Jade, just embarrass Tori because you're terrible at hide and seek." Robbie hisses, rolling his eyes and taking two heavy steps toward Jade. His shoulders cut jagged shadows against the air, and though there's a tinge of humor in his voice, I notice Jade's air of superiority dissipate almost instantly. My heart slowly slides back into place, and a smile flitter across my lips. Robbie might have not have the coolest hair or the best body of any boy I've dated, but I know he's got the biggest heart.
"She has twigs in her hair!" Jade shrieks, thrusting her index finger in my direction. Her eyes blow wide open, and she almost looks crazed. She's trembling slightly, looking more like a shaking leaf than a lioness right now. I bite down on my bottom lip to keep the laughter from spilling out. This whole situation is just ridiculous. From Beck's zombified expression, to Jade's crazed ranting, to Robbie's authoritative stance, it's madness. I wonder if maybe Robbie and I knocked ourselves into a coma walking through the woods, and this is all just some kind of shared delusion.
"You're seeing things, Jade." Robbie counters, before shaking his head and taking me by the hand. As we walk past Jade, Robbie dips his eyebrows and gives her a discerning look. I manage to contain my laughter for the most part, but as we walk inside, a few stray giggles slip out.
When Robbie closes our bedroom door behind us, our laughter rattles though the room. We crumble onto the mattress, spent from a long day. It's been amazing though, and I kind of wish we could just dwell within its hours forever.
Locked in Robbie's arms, the walls begin to drift further and further away as the events of today begin to catch up with me. A yawn slips through my lips, and I shuffle closer to Robbie, enjoying the way our scents intermingle. It's hard to figure out where his ends, and mine begins. Robbie's lips brush a gentle kiss against my forehead, and as my thoughts slow to a halt, I'm truly content.
"So, who's cooking tonight?" Jade asks, plainly implying that she's not up for a repeat performance of last night's minor fiasco with Cat. The food turned out amazingly well, but I'm fairly sure Jade almost burst a blood vessel trying to keep Cat in line when the girl's thoughts began to wander. For once, I can totally sympathize. For every brilliant thought that flitters through Cat's mind, a thousands chaotic ones seem to surface.
"We will!" I volunteer, eagerness dripping from my lips. Robbie's warm eyes dart towards me, questions coming to life on his lips. He's seen my baking, and truthfully it's not great. I'm almost certain I can manage to prepare something that's edible for everyone with his help though.
"Are you sure that's a good idea?" Cat asks, her usually manic voice grinding to a halt. My eyebrows draw together over my nose, irritation coiling within the muscles of my face, and illustrating just how offensive the implication is. I'm about to dive headlong into defending my cooking abilities when Robbie snakes an arm around my waist and the point I want to make slips out of my grasp.
"We'll do fine." Robbie comments, something along the lines of confidence crossing his lips. The stern lines in my face soften as Robbie speaks. We're greater than the sum of our parts I suppose. I'm his courage, and he's my level head.
The trees are flying past as we hurtle towards a small township. It's about a mile away from the expanse of our temporary residence. Beck allowed us to take the truck without so much as a second word. I think he's still a little traumatized by the realization that I'm not the angel his mind had painted me as. My lips curl upwards and I look over to Robbie. His eyes are fixed on the road, and there's a kind of fierce concentration burning within them. It's like a spark that ignites the flame, and the thought of asking if he'd like to pull over bounces around within my mind for a moment. I eventually snuff it out by envisioning Beck's expression should he ever figure out why our shopping trip took so long.
"Well, looks like we're here." Robbie announces, throwing the powerful vehicle into park. My eyes drift along the road, taking a few moments to analyze the township. It's not exactly a major task though. There are only a few shops and a pharmacy dotting the road. To say it's just the bare essentials out here would be an overstatement.
"Young man, could you reach up and get that can for me?" An elderly woman asks, as Robbie and I are looking for something to serve as a side. She's wearing thick-rimmed glasses, and I'm almost sure I detect the faintest aroma of cookies on her. In my mind I've already placed her in a portrait between two small grandchildren. She's smiling and handing out baking. The perfect grandmother.
When she doesn't smile back, a crack appears in my perfect mental picture.
"You know, you're quite the looker. If you'd like to trade up, I might be persuaded to let you…check my plumbing." She states, grinning lecherously. My perfect picture clatters to the floor and shatters into a thousand shards with those few disturbing words. Robbie's eyes blow open and I see his Adam's apple bob up and down in fear.
"Uh, hello. Girlfriend!" I shriek incredulously, waving my hands through the air and drawing as much attention to myself as possible. Momentarily, the woman's age lays forgotten in the back of my mind, and she's just somebody that's trying to steal my boyfriend. I'm hopping up and down slightly, like an overly aggressive monkey. I'm painfully aware of how ridiculous this is, but it just doesn't seem to matter.
"That's nice deary. So young man, what do you say?" The woman asks, brushing off my comment and turning back to Robbie. I've met creepy octogenarians before, but they were usually just a little overzealous with the cheekbone pinching. This woman is on a whole new level. Before Robbie picks up the nerve to reply, I'm contemplating on asking if she happens to be a Van Cleef.
"Uh, no…thank you. No. That's a no." Robbie answers, desperately trying to douse the ancient flame of lust flickering within her. His palms are extending between the woman and himself, a shield I suppose. Robbie's never been tan, but right now he's about as dark as a glass of milk. It's a little bit funny.
"A shame. I'll be here tomorrow if you change your mind." She counters, winking at him and not looking phased in the slightest. Beside me, I feel Robbie quake in his sneakers as his lunch attempts to leap out of his stomach. Mercifully, the woman turns on her heel and totters off in search of a new male suitor.
"Oh…my…god." Robbie mumbles under his breath, looking as though he's about to be physically ill. I bite down on the inside of my cheek and rub small circles into his back, hoping that he'll calm down and we can leave before any kind of perverted encore.
"You alright?" I ask, suppressing a laugh. With my words, Robbie's entire posture stiffens and regards me with an unnecessarily dour look on his face. I roll my eyes at his theatrics. It was pretty awful, but you'd think he'd just been told of his upcoming arranged marriage to Jade or something equally horrifying.
"I will be…in time. That was traumatizing though." He replies uneasily, dragging in thick gulps of air. As I watch his cheeks bulge and then hollow out, I can't help but think Robbie kind of looks like a fish.
"Poor baby. Does this mean you'll dump me for a hot young number when I'm old and wrinkly like that?" I toss the words between us thinking it's a joke, but I can't help the seriousness that begins to seep into my voice. The disturbing possibility that I could find myself alone once the color drains from my hair, and my skin begins to wrinkle skirts my thoughts.
"Of course not. You'll still be sexy to me, no matter how wrinkly you get." Robbie states, encircling my waist and magnifying the seriousness from my voice in his reply.
"Really?" I ask, finding the clouds of negativity rolling into the background of my mind once more. There's something in the way Robbie's arm curls around me that drags the doubts away. Well, mostly.
"Of course. Just don't lose your Tori-ness and you'll always be beautiful." A crooked smile finds its way to Robbie's lips with those words, and the clouds are a distant memory. Without warning, Robbie's free hand finds it's way in front of my face, and his index finger bounces playfully off my nose. It's barely even a touch and it's totally silly, but it's reassuring. I don't even know why.
"You're such a dork." I murmur, reflecting Robbie's grin. He's about to mutter something in response, but I hurl myself against his lips before another word can pass between us. Robbie's cougar might still be watching us, but I just can't bring myself to care.
Eventually, I tear myself away from Robbie's lips and we meander through the rest of the store. We find almost everything on the list with the kind of ease that's only possible on the best of days. I wonder how many more days like this await us, but don't dwell on the thought. Tomorrow never really comes, so I'll just enjoy today while I can.
When we're leaving, Robbie insists of carrying all of the bags back to the truck. We linger in the store's doorway for several moments as Robbie drags the bags I'm carrying into his grip. I heave a sigh in the physical world, but honestly it's more than a little endearing. As Robbie makes his way toward the truck, I shake my head at his teetering form. I'm fairly certain a strong gust of wind could knock him over right now.
"Seriously…you're making that?" I'm pouring over the recipe when Jade's voice invades my ears. I can feel the dancing caress as she leans over my shoulder and studies the same words I had been so engrossed in. Jade's always kind of had personal space issues.
"Yes, seriously I'm making it." I hiss, rolling my eyes severely. When I turn around, Jade's reaction catches me off guard. The titanium glare and hardened lines of her defiant form are almost totally absent.
"Calm down Vega, it just looks kind of hard is all." Jade replies, tossing her hands up in surrender. Nestled deep in the background, I notice olive skinned shoulders shaking up and down as Beck buries his head in his forearm. I guess there's something a little bit funny about seeing Jade back down to me of all people. It's sort of like a blood soaked lioness recoiling in the wake of a house cat's meow.
"I know." I reply, letting the irritation drain away. Turning back to the recipe, I see Robbie from the corner of my eye. He's currently beating a bowl of eggs into submission. His tongue is poking out and resting on his upper lip in concentration. It's more than a little adorable.
"Goddamn. I though getting laid was meant to mellow people out, not the opposite…" My swooning is interrupted by the sound of Jade's defeated muttering as she ambles away in the direction of her boyfriend.
"I heard that!" I call over my shoulder. I whip my head in the direction of an amused snort, meeting the gaze of my egg splattered boyfriend. He flashes me a winning smile, and again my irritation escapes me.
Robbie's arms encircle my waist, and for a few moments our progress stalls. When we finally tear ourselves apart and return to preparing dinner, it goes a lot less poorly than any of us had expected. Not that it's an entirely smooth experience, but whenever I forget an ingredient, Robbie's there waiting with the exact amount. Whenever Robbie fumbles something, I'm only a step away and with hands outstretched. It takes a while to make the dough and to chop up the ingredients, but our pizza's actually look somewhat appetizing when they enter the oven.
A little less than half an hour later, Jade's eyebrows sail into the sky as she tastes the first bite. She peers at us though widened eyes as though it's some kind of great realization. When Jade next speaks, I can see that the words aren't coming naturally to hear, but as she forces then out, I can tell that they're sincere.
"Wow, Vega. You and Shapiro made this? Maybe there is hope for you two after all."
Well, there it is. The second to last chapter. It's mostly just some harmless and hopefully endearing fluff. The last chapter should ensure this fic goes off with a bang and not a whimper though. Thanks to my beta Alex for correcting me on some stupid errors, and thanks to Megan for providing the inspiration for that creepy old lady. You lead an interesting life buddy :)
Anyways, leave reviews and stuff? I pinky promise that they'll lead to a speedy update and...GASP...end to this fic.