Title: Ragged Shards
Rating: T for mentions of non-con sex, underage drinking, and minor language.
Description: The two guys at Nozu remind Jade of someone in her past that's become a long repressed memory. But now she's about to break and Tori is the only one around to help. Tag to "Tori & Jade's Playdate."
Pairings: JORI friendship, mentions of Bade
Don't freak out. Don't scream. You're okay. Calm down. Calm. Calmcalmcalm. Just breathe, Jade. She repeated all of these things in her head but Jade still wanted to hyperventilate, pass out, or fall to the ground screaming. Or all of the above. But she was not about to do that in front of Vega, much less these two creeps who'd decided to take an interest in the two girls. So instead, she kept up her mask of being unafraid, cool, and tough.
Oh my God. Is this really happening? Jade thought as the creep to her left stroked her chin.
"Are you ticklish?" he smirked.
Once, twice, three times he touched her face.
That was enough. She snapped her elbow back, hitting him directly in groin. He hunched over in pain. Jade smiled.
Soon after the guy had regained his composure, Jade found herself standing on the stage of Nozu with Tori, about to sing a duet. The frenemy had picked the perfect song, "Take a Hint," in order to get the point across. Throughout their performance, Jade oozed confidence on the outside. But on the inside, her heart was still beating a million times a minute and she still wasn't far from a complete panic attack.
This is unreal. Jade watched the two guys slink out of the sushi joint after she and Tori finished their song. Before she knew what she was doing, Jade had reached out and grabbed the half-Latina into a bear hug.
"Thank you," Jade breathed.
Then she realized what she was doing and a completely different kind of fear than the one she'd felt around those guys shot through her. Jade quickly released her hold and stepped back.
"For...what?" Tori asked, completely confused and taken aback by Jade's sudden change in demeanor.
"Nothing," Jade replied frostily, "Don't worry about it."
"Jade, you insult me on a daily basis to my face AND behind my back. You have never liked me. The nicest you've ever been to me was tonight and that was only after I made you say something nice. I think I have a right to be concerned over what just happened."
"Tori, just let it go."
"Did you just tell me no?" Jade's eyes flared with annoyance.
"Yeah. I did. And I'm going to keep bugging you about this until you tell me why the hell you just acted like that,"
Jade was visibly angry now and crossed her arms. Her blue-green eyes locked with Tori's dark brown ones in an intense stare down. Their concentration was broken when Mrs. Lee came up to congratulate them on their great performance. The two girls thanked her and returned to their seats. They sat in stony silence for almost an hour while they listlessly picked at their food. Finally Tori broke the silence.
"Okay, look I know I'm not your most favorite person in the world."
"There's an understatement,"
"What I'm trying to say -if you'd stop interrupting with your stupid snide comments- is that you can talk to me about whatever it is that made you act the way you did earlier Because I know something pretty big had to have happened for you to have hugged me," Tori placed a hand on Jade's shoulder. "Okay?"
Jade considered this for a moment. Everyone else in their circle of friends knew, and (under orders from Jade) kept the secret from Tori and everyone else at school. It was easier that way. Jade didn't want to be seen as weak and not telling people about what had happened was the easiest way to ensure that she wasn't seen that way. But then again, Tori (for all her flaws and for as much as Jade disliked her) had proven herself over the past year or so.
Before Jade could finish her musing, Mrs. Lee got on stage with the microphone and announced that Nozu was closing for the night. Chairs scratched across the floor and shoes squeaked as the remaining customers began to file out of the restaurant. Tori stood up.
"You coming?" she raised her eyebrows.
Jade slowly turned around to face her. Her expression was unreadable. It was like she was curious, fearful, and a little sad all at the same time.
"Do you really want to know?"
Tori's eyes glittered for a split second with the prospect of knowing but she quickly masked her excitement.
"Only if you want to tell me,"
"Let's go," Jade grabbed her keys and stalked out the door. Tori hurried after her.
"We're taking my car. Tell your mom or whoever was going to pick you up not to worry about it. I'll take you home once we're done talking," Jade replied, not wanting to answer her question.
Tori quickly shot off a text to Trina, who was her ride, not to bother coming to get her.
"Get in," was Jade's next command. Tori hesitantly stepped into the car. Jade peeled away from the parking lot and took off down the nearly empty street.
"Uh, where are we going?" Tori wondered.
"You'll know when we get there,"
"Jadelynn August West tell me where we are going right now or I'll call my dad and tell him I've been kidnapped. He'll have the whole police force coming after you before you can blink."
"How do you know my full name?" Jade snapped.
"Answer my question first," Tori demanded.
"Fine. School parking lot. Your turn,"
"We were texting one night and he accidentally sent me a text message that was supposed to be for you," Tori answered. "Before you guys broke up," she added unnecessarily.
Jade said nothing, just stared at the road ahead of her. She knew the conversation to which Tori was probably referring to- it was the last normal one she and Beck had had before their huge (and final) fight. He'd been professing his love. Jade grit her teeth and accelerated some more.
Within five minutes the girls had arrived at Hollywood Arts. Jade pulled into a random slot and parked the car. It was silent. Completely and utterly silent.
"It goes without saying but I'm going to say it anyway. This doesn't leave my car. You don't repeat this to anyone, not even the others. If you do, I will hunt you down and even your detective daddy won't be able to find your body. You got me?"
Tori nodded jerkily. "Yup."
"Okay," Jade blew out a breath she'd been holding. "Wow. Okay. Um... I don't really know how to say this." In reality, she knew exactly how to say what she wanted, she just didn't know if she could make herself do it. She hadn't had to relive that night in quite some time.
"Why don't you start with why you thanked and hugged me?" Tori prompted.
"Because you helped make me safe," Jade answered, looking out the window. She couldn't meet the other girl's eyes.
"Okay..." Tori didn't understand why mean and tough Jade would need to feel safe. That went against everything she knew. "Why did you need to feel safe?"
"Because I was scared," she whispered. Hell, she was scared right now. Could she really trust Tori like she thought?
Tori was about to ask why she was scared but something held her back. Something in her gut told her that if she would sit there quietly and wait and listen when Jade spoke then things would go a lot better. After a couple minutes her theory proved true.
Jade turned to look Tori in the eyes. "It was probably a few months after you transferred to Hollywood Arts… that winter. There was this big party for whatever reason. Anyway Beck, Andre, and I went. After a couple of hours -and I'll admit, probably a bit too much alcohol on my part- this guy that Beck and Andre knew came up to us and started talking with them. Somehow the conversation got onto the guy's new car, a red mustang GT. Of course Andre and Beck wanted to go look at it. They tried to get me to come but I was starting to feel nauseous from all I had drunk so I told them I was going to just go find an empty room upstairs and lie down for a few minutes. I got upstairs and finally found a room without couples making out or having...well anyway, I crawled onto the couch and passed out. And then-" Jade's breathing hitched and she blinked back tears. Why was this so hard? It'd been a year.
Tori reached over and squeezed Jade's hand. Under normal circumstances, Jade wouldn't have allowed the gesture but this was definitely not a normal circumstance. In fact, she welcomed the comfort surprisingly.
"And then?" Tori repeated.
"And then," Jade averted her eyes again, "I woke up to this random guy on top of me. Raping me." A single tear fell.
"Oh my God. Jade I am so, so sorry I had no idea,"
"That was kind of the point. I didn't want anyone to know. I didn't want to be seen as weak."
"But you were passed out and you'd been drinking so-"
"So I wasn't weak, just intoxicated? So I wasn't cheating on Beck, since it was rape? Tori, I have heard whatever you're going to say at least a billion times over by Beck, Andre, and my therapist. And it doesn't make it better. Save your breath," Jade murmured.
Tori gasped. "Beck. Oh my God, BECK. And Andre? How did they react when..."
"They were looking for me after checking out the car. I was fighting off the guy as best I could but he still was stronger and I was still drunk. I finally got to the door. I fell into the hallway, and by some miracle Andre was there and caught me before I hit the ground. He stood me up and quickly gave me his jacket to cover myself up with. He pulled me close to his side and hugged me and kept saying that everything would be okay. And I was grateful for it but I wanted Beck. I asked Andre where he was and he kind of got this funny look on face as he looked at something over my shoulder. I craned my neck around to look and saw Beck literally beating the guy into the ground and yelling and cursing him out. He knocked the guy out with one of his punches and then came out to the hallway..."
"Good. Not good as in what happened to you but good as in what Beck did."
Jade gave a short laugh through her tears. She wasn't really crying but tears were definitely falling.
"Yeah." she agreed.
"So what did Beck do after he knocked the guy out?"
"Took me from Andre and held me close then whispered stuff in my ear that's private and personal," Jade leveled her eyes with Tori's to make sure she knew that that discussion was over.
Tori nodded. "Okay," she whispered. "So what happened to the guy?"
"Couldn't tell you if I wanted to... Beck and Andre took me back to the RV, leaving the guy bleeding and passed out on the floor. They tried to get me to go to the hospital for a rape kit but I knew that if I did that my dad would end up finding out and that was not something I wanted to happen. Plus if I did that then everyone at school would end up finding out. So we just kept it our little secret. I told Cat and Robbie the next day,"
"Weren't you worried you had an STD? Or were pregnant?" Tori asked, silently marveling at how strong Jade was, even at her 'weakest.'
"Very. But I still didn't want to see a doctor because I didn't want my dad to find out. So everyone- Beck, Cat, Andre, and even Robbie- literally dragged me to one. And I don't even know how to put into words how happy and how grateful we all were when all the tests came back negative. No STDs and no pregnancy,"
"Lucky. Damn lucky. That's the only effing thing to call it," Jade's sudden change in attitude surprised Tori enough to the point that she changed course in her questioning.
"So what was the issue tonight at Nozu?"
"One of the guys looked similar to the one who raped me. And he was way too far inside my personal bubble. And I was freaking out. Big time."
"Jade West was freaking out," Tori stated, still not able to believe that.
"Yeah. I had really bad anxiety and panic attacks whenever I was alone for like almost five or six months after I was raped. That's why I was so protective of Beck. Because I didn't want to be alone and even if we were together I still always had that fear that something might trigger a panic attack. But because of Beck and my therapist I slowly got better. Now it's just a bad memory that I've repressed for the most part. But certain triggers still set off a panic attack."
"Like guys getting too close to you without your permission," Tori realized.
"Or if they look similar like that guy did."
"Wow. I didn't... I didn't know. God I'm so sorry."
"Like I said, I'm pretty much all good now. It's just every now and again... It's bad. Like tonight."
The two were silent for a couple of minutes. Tori broke the silence.
"I still don't understand how I made you feel 'safe',"
"Because you made them leave. With the song that YOU picked, they left. I guess it doesn't make sense but that's how I see it."
"No, no it makes sense," Tori reassured. "But I don't think you're giving yourself enough credit. You sang the song with me and we BOTH made them go away,"
Jade gave her a soft smile. "Thanks Tori,"
Tori returned the smile, "You are so strong and beautiful Jade. You'll always be okay no matter what. You're a survivor, not a victim."
Jade's eyes narrowed.
"Heard that before too?" Tori sighed.
"No actually. I haven't. I like it, I like it a lot. Survivor, not victim," she repeated.
Tori's grin grew. "So are we good now? Friends? Full time, not every now and then?"
Jade laughed and wiped away her remaining tears, "Yes, Vega, we're friends,"
"Then as a friend, can you please take me home? It's nearly one a.m. and my mom is gonna kill me if I break curfew,"
"Sure," Jade laughed again and cranked the engine.
The ride to Tori's house was silent. But it was a kind of silence that was different from the other silences the two had experienced that night. It was the comfortable silence that fell naturally between two friends when no words were needed to fill the space.
"See you Monday, Jade," Tori said as Jade stopped the car in front of Tori's house. "And thanks."
"For the ride or for telling you my secret?" Jade inquired.
One side of Jade's mouth quirked up in a half grin. "Anytime Vega,"
Tori rolled her eyes at the use of her last name and stepped out of the car. She waved good-bye and then jogged up to her front door. Once Jade had seen her go inside safely, she pulled out of the driveway. As she drove down the street, she fished her phone out of her bag and dialed her therapist, Heather. Jade knew the chances of her answering at this hour were slim to none but Jade still wanted to leave a message while the events of tonight were fresh in her mind.
Then, surprisingly, Heather answered on the fifth ring. "Hullo?" she mumbled sleepily. "Heather Bentley speaking,"
"Heather, it's Jade West. Did I wake you up?"
"Mmm," Heather replied, "Kinda but that's okay. Whaddya need kiddo? Everything alright?"
"Yes, everything is fine. I just had a... Breakthrough... If you will."
"Really? Oh that's great! Talk to me," Heather now sounded significantly more awake.
"Kind of friend, kind of not?"
"Yep, her. We're friends now,"
"Really? Well that's good. What brought this about?"
"It's kind of a long story. We were out alone together because Sikowitz was being, well, himself, and these two guys started harassing us and touching my face and waist and we ended up singing this song that humiliated them in front of everyone so they finally left." Jade explained confusingly.
"Good. I'm very happy to hear that you're okay," the psychiatrist didn't bother asking for an explanation. She knew the tone in Jade's voice meant she needed to get everything out before being asked questions.
"But when they left I hugged Tori and said thank you before I even realized what I was doing. So naturally she wanted to know why I'd just done what I had. And i figured that she's proven herself, in a sense, ever since she came to HA. So i took her to the HA parking lot and told her everything,"
"How did she react?"
"She was really surprised and apologized and said all the cliché lines that you tell me like 'you weren't weak just drunk,' and stuff. But she did tell me something new that no one had told me before. I'm not a victim, I'm a survivor,"
"She's absolutely right. I agree completely."
"That's when I decided she was on my side and when she asked me if telling her my secret meant we were friends I said yes," Jade smiled softly to herself. She felt genuinely good about her decision and could see herself and Tori actually becoming close friends.
"I am so proud of you, Jade. I know you had a rocky start with Tori and it pretty much went downhill from there, but you've managed to overcome your differences and now you two are friends."
"Thanks, Heather," Jade's heart swelled with pride at the praise.
"I think this will be really good for you. You need a girlfriend like Tori. I know you love Cat to death- and I do too- but we both know that she doesn't possess some of the qualities that you need in a best friend, like brutal honesty. It seems to me like Tori won't hesitate to throw your sarcasm back at you or call you out on something if need be,"
"I know she won't hesitate to do either of those things,"
"Good." Heather yawned.
"I am so sorry for waking you up then keeping you up talking about all my stupid problems," Jade bit her lip nervously.
"Good grief. That's what our next session is going to be about, Jade. You need to stop putting yourself down. You are a wonderful, beautiful girl. Alright? You've overcome so many obstacles and you just need to build up some real self-confidence,"
"Okay. I'm going to let you go now. I'll see you at four on Tuesday?"
"Alright. Thanks, Heather. Good night,"
"Good night, Jade,"
Jade dropped her cellphone back into her purse and smiled softly. Maybe everything would be okay. Maybe this was that point in life that Heather had been telling her about- the rainbow and sunshine after the storm.
Her smile didn't last long. She was crossing through the intersection that led into her neighborhood when suddenly a car slammed into the driver's side of her car at over seventy miles an hour. The metal immediately crushed, folding itself around Jade. The airbags deployed, breaking her nose. The other driver scrambled for the break but the damage was done. Because of the high speed at which they'd been traveling and the inertia of the hit, the two cars skidded for a few yards, almost attached together, before the offending car broke away from Jade's. It spun out a couple times before coming to a stop. Jade's car, however, spun once then hit the median and flipped over twice before stopping.
It hurt to breath. It hurt to move any part of her body. Her vision and hearing came and went every five seconds. Jade blindly fumbled for her phone and tried to dial 911.
Just as she hit the 9 key, she blacked out.
A/N: Thoughts? Suggestions? Any kind of constructive criticism is welcome! Please review and/or favorite! Those who do will get virtual red velvet cupcakes!