Summary: "Normani likes Arin," Lauren says, matter-of-fact, like it's totally the same thing as her liking Keaton. It's not. It's not the same thing at all. The X Factor fic.
Word Count: 5,600
Disclaimer: I don't own anything and am not profiting off of this in any way. As always, the fourth wall is a gift we should all try to keep intact. This was written for this prompt at Better Together: A Fifth Harmony ficathon, because apparently I still don't understand how brevity works (I'd also like to apologize to Tori for whatever it is this became while I was writing it). Title from Tegan and Sara's "Drove Me Wild."
"So . . . You like him?" Camila blinks, her vision blurring and her entire body flushing cold.
Lauren shrugs, swinging her legs over the edge of the X Factor stage, a smile pulling at her mouth. "God, yeah. I do? Is that dumb? Tell me if it's dumb."
"He's--" Camila takes a deep breath, digs her nails into her palms until it hurts. "He's the competition though, is that smart?"
"Normani likes Arin," Lauren says, matter-of-fact, like it's totally the same thing as her liking Keaton. It's not. It's not the same thing at all. "Don't you think he's cute?"
"Arin?" Camila's mouth feels dry and she tries to swallow.
"No, Keaton." Lauren rolls her eyes and kicks sideways so she lands a blow to Camila's knee. Camila thinks, bitterly and dramatically, that it's like the blow Lauren's landed to her heart.
"No," Camila blurts.
Lauren scrunches her face like she does when she takes out the trash. "Really?"
Camila shakes her head. "Guess he's not my type?"
"You guess?" Lauren's raises an eyebrow, and then: "Are you feeling okay? You look a little pale."
Forced laughter bubbles out of Camila's mouth and it sounds harsh and high and fake. "I'm fine? Yeah no. I just. Surprised, I guess?"
"Hey, Camz." Lauren reaches across the space that seems bigger now than it did when they sat down for a break. "Is this okay? Like, if it's not I won't do anything. Just tell me."
And because Camila is a tried and true idiot, she says, "I don't mind."
Previously on Camila's life (sometimes Camila likes to pretend she's in one of those teen dramas on the CW that she can never keep up with enough to actually watch):
She walks up to Lauren, who she remembers from auditions, and sticks her hand out like a completely socially-inept weirdo. "Hi, I'm Camila."
Lauren bites her lip, eyes widening. Camila drops her hand. "Lauren."
"I saw your audition, you know, Alisha Keys, "If I Ain't Got You," very jazzy? Maybe. I don't know. Soulful? Yeah, soulful. It was really--" Camila shakes her head, brushing a piece of hair away from her face. "Sorry. I'm nervous. You were really good. Like, really good."
Really pretty, she doesn't add. Lauren is even prettier up close and personal, even when she's grinning like maybe she's scared Camila is going to mug her.
"Thanks. You're really sounded really good, too."
"You heard my audition?" Camila feels like there's a rock in her stomach. Lauren heard her audition, Lauren thought she sounded good, Lauren.
"No, I'm was just saying that." Camila exhales loudly, feeling simultaneously disappointed and relieved. "I'm just kidding," Lauren says, swatting gently at Camila's arm with the back of her head.
"I'm sorry I'm so awkward," Camila says.
Lauren smiles at that and shrugs. "Not really."
Camila never thought too much about kissing girls before Lauren. But as they sat on the stage, watching everyone get up and sing for the judges, Lauren's foot pressed against her shin, Camila thought about it. A lot. Which was quite the accomplishment, especially because she was so nervous about performing that she felt like she might puke. She wondered if Lauren would hold back her hair.
Really, Camila had never thought too much about kissing anyone she had a shot with, anyone who wasn't a celebrity. But Lauren laughs even when Camila's not trying to be funny, shares her lipstick, and she smells good.
"You smell good," Camila says. They're sitting outside, toes dipped in the hotel's pool. The sky above is inky blue and the moon casts everything in silver shadow.
"What?" Lauren asks, but she's smiling smugly, softly, her hair pulled over one shoulder, her neck slender and pale.
"Nothing." Camila looks down and fights the urge to hit her forehead. She's so, so stupid and she already likes Lauren so,so much.
Lauren splashes with her feet, the sleeves of her sweatshirt rolled up around her elbows. "You think I smell good?"
She's teasing, and Camila wants to die. Her face feels warm and she hopes Lauren can't see her blushing in the almost-dark. "No, no I -- Yeah," she sighs.
Shifting so they're lined up shoulder to hip to knee, Lauren says, "I like your hair."
Camila tries so hard not to think about all the places they're touching. "I like your eyes."
"I like that you can't walk in a straight line."
"Can too," Camila protests, and if she wasn't feeling so terrible-good about having Lauren pressed up against her side, she'd get up and demonstrate. "I like that you're from Miami, too."
"I think that's all I like about you," Lauren says around a laugh, dropping her head so her forehead presses into Camila's shoulder.
Camila's heart thuds heavily in her chest, her pulse racing, her lungs too shallow. Screw it, she thinks. She took a risk in coming here, so why stop now?
"I like you."
Lauren stills next to her and Camila thinks about laughing it off -- haha, funny joke, right? -- but then Lauren is threading her fingers through Camila's and squeezing.
"I've never kissed anyone before," she says. She used to have a filter, not a particularly good one, but still.
Biting her lip, she tucks a pieces of hair behind her ear and stares down at their feet, flexes them and causes the water to ripple gently. "Sorry. I didn't mean to--"
"It's okay," Lauren cuts her off, voice gentle. "I don't care."
Everything is still, quiet except for the roar of traffic from the highway.
"Can I--" Lauren's voice is shaky. "Can I kiss you?"
Camila inhales sharply and looks at Lauren, her face half-lit by the moon, her eyes bright and wide, her mouth pressed tight and nervous. Camila nods because she's afraid of what'll happen if she tries to speak.
When Lauren kisses her, closemouthed and soft, their noses bump together. Lauren laugh awkwardly against Camila's lips, so Camila giggles back. She feels her skin goosebump even though she's got a sweatshirt zipped up to her throat.
"Not bad," Lauren says, and Camila wants Lauren to smile at her this way forever.
Ever since One Direction, Camila had always kind of wondered what it would be like to be in a group.
And now she kind of knows.
They have their first rehearsal for the live shows tomorrow and her stomach flutters. Unable to sleep, her toes curl and uncurl against the sheets. Camila inhales and exhales slowly, steadily, trying to keep from breathing too loud. She doesn't want Lauren to think she's an annoying mouth-breather.
She closes her eyes and counts, doesn't open them even though they itch with it. She's scared to look at the clock because she always counts too fast, because it's already too late, because she wants to crawl into Lauren's bed and run her finger around the shell of Lauren's ear.
Camila screws her eyes shut and presses her palms hard against them, frusurated, when she hears rustling and then Lauren nudging her over. "I can't sleep," she whispers.
"Me neither." In the dark Lauren's face is cast in shadows, spiderwebs on her cheeks, eyes black and wide. Camila bumps their knees together and buries her face in Lauren's neck. "I'm nervous."
Camila presses her fingers to Lauren's wrist, feels Lauren's heartbeat, wonders if maybe hers is the same, if maybe they're in sync. Pressing a kiss to the smooth skin where neck curves to shoulder, Camila shifts her entire body closer. She feels brave when Lauren's pulse jumps under her fingertips, kisses up her neck, her jaw.
"I like you so much," she says into the dark, eyes closed.
Lauren cups Camila's face, thumb sweeping across her cheekbones before kissing her, gentle, like before. Lauren tastes vaguely of toothpaste, and Camila kisses back harder until Lauren presses her tongue against Camila's mouth and Camila gasps open, embarrassingly loud in the quiet room. Lauren's got one hand tangled in her hair, pads of her fingers pressing into Camila's scalp, her other hand still holding Camila's jaw.
"Is this okay," Camila says on a breath, fingertips dancing along the edge of Lauren's top.
"Of course," Lauren mumbles into her mouth.
They settle into a routine, on the show with vocal lessons and wardrobe fittings and interviews, and at night with Lauren crawling into Camila's bed and kissing her until her lips are swollen and sore with it.
Lauren straddles her, kissing down her neck, hands running over her stomach, cold against Camila's skin. "Lauren," Camila whispers, fingers digging into Lauren's waist. Lauren hums against her collarbone. "Lauren," she tries again, trailing her hands up Lauren's sides, bringing the material with until Lauren leans up, pulling it off.
God, she's so pretty, and Camila wishes they could stay here forever, on X Factor, singing for millions of people and laughing with the girls. But she also wishes they could stay in the right now, Lauren's palm massaging her breast through the material of her bra, biting a mark just below her collarbone in a place where no else will see.
Lauren's other hand keeps presses lightly over her stomach, her waist, her outer thigh, and Camila squirms under her, hips shifting up. Lauren's mouth stutters and Camila reaches out, stops Lauren's hand. "Can you, um," Camila starts, face hot and she really, really wishes she knew how this was supposed to work. She brings Lauren's hand down, nudging just under the edge of the boxers she's wearing at pajama bottoms.
"Oh," Lauren says, and Camila sees it more than hears it. Lauren's face, neck, chest colored pink, lips wet and plump, hair a mess, and Camila didn't know she could want someone this much.
"I'm sorry, I didn't--" Camila's exhales sharp and loud when Lauren slips her hand under the boxers, cupping Camila over her damp underwear.
Camila wraps her hand around Lauren's neck, pulling her into a kiss, open-mouthed and sloppy, teeth hitting teeth. Everything is contradictory blurry and clear as Lauren grinds down against the hand rubbing at Camila. Then they're just panting into each other's mouths, and everything in Camila feels pulled taunt, desperate and reckless and happy.
"Got enough rice there, Camz?" Lauren asks, her eyes laughing over the rim of her glass.
"You've seen how Vino eats," Camila says, sitting down next to Lauren and brushing her foot against her ankle. "And I'm hungry."
"You? Hungry?" Lauren shakes her head. "Impossible."
"Hey." Camila smacks her arm, shoveling as much rice onto her fork as possible. "I'm a growing girl." Keaton snorts from across the table. "What?" Camila asks.
"Nothing," he says.
"Besides, I need to keep my energy up." Camila smirks at Lauren, winking.
Lauren laughs, quiet and warm, pulling away a piece of hair stuck to Camila's lipgloss. Camila tucks her ankle around Lauren's. "Can't argue with that," Lauren says before taking a sip of water.
"You gonna eat that?" Keaton asks, pointing at an apple slice on Lauren's plate.
"No." Lauren smiles, handing it over. Camila watches their fingers brush and rolls her eyes.
Keaton keeps flirting with Lauren, and Lauren keeps letting him. Sometimes it's annoying, but actually it's kind of funny, because last night Camila had sucked Lauren's nipple into her mouth, Lauren keening when Camila scrapped her teeth over it before soothing with her tongue.
Camila brushes some sauce off the corner of Lauren's mouth with her thumb, leaning over to whisper, "I'll share my rice with you, but it's a secret. Don't want everyone all up on me like white on rice."
Lauren cackles, her entire body jerking, and Camila bites her lip around a grin.
Camila catches Keaton leaning toward Lauren, Lauren's back against a wall in the dressing room, Lauren giggling at whatever he's saying, looking up through her eyelashes and tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
And, if Camila was going to pick a moment she knew it was all going to end up shit -- and she doesn't like to swear, normally, thinks it's crude and unnatural coming out of her mouth, doesn't sound the way it does when a string of expletives spill out of Lauren -- this would be it.
She backs away, tripping over an extension cord, and three days later Lauren is telling Camila that she likes Keaton.
Camila's rubbing down on Lauren's thigh, breathing hard, likes the pain of Lauren's fingernails pressing moons into her hips. "I'm so moony for you," she laughs against Lauren's mouth, feels Lauren lips curve up against hers.
When Lauren rolls them over, Camila whines in the back of her throat at the loss of friction, at the loss of warmth, but then Lauren's kissing the inside of Camila's thigh, her mouth warmer than anything else. She bites down and Camila groans, hips bucking into air, one hand twisting around the sheets, the other twisting in Lauren's hair.
Lauren kisses up her thigh, kisses her hip where her shorts have slid down. She hooks her fingers around the shorts and Camila's underwear, looking up at Camila through lidded eyes and Camila nods yes, yes yes yes. Lauren pulls them down and Camila kicks them off her feet, her breathing already loud and erratic as Lauren kisses, sucks, nips up her thigh, and then she can feel Lauren breathing warm air against her. She groans, and then Lauren's licking, hesitant and not nearly enough, so Camila tangles her fingers back in Lauren's hair, accidentally pushing her hips forward.
"Someone's excited," Lauren says, but her voice is shaking and reverent, and Camila can't believe it's because of her.
She wants to say terrible, awful things, things like I can't remember a time when we weren't doing this and I had a dream that we got married and I want to make you laugh forever and I don't even care if it's at me or with me and I think I'm falling in love with you.
But that's all more than her brain can process, so Lauren's name just pours over mouth, over and over again.
"You have to be quiet," Lauren says, one hand holding Camila's hip down, the other slipped beneath her own shorts.
They've never done this before, but between the twist of Lauren's arm where Camila knows she's touching herself and Lauren finding her clit, wrapping her mouth around it and sucking, Camila comes, biting her lip until it bleeds. It's unlike anything she's ever felt before, her heart hamming so hard in her chest she feels like it's going to explode.
"Lauren," she says, when she feels like she can breathe again.
"I know," Lauren says, kissing her temple, having crawled back up when the world went blinding white.
"Are you okay?" Normani asks, eyebrows furrowed.
"What?" Camila blinks. Behind Normani, Keaton is giving Lauren a foot massage and smirking. Lauren's saying something, her hands moving the way they only do when she feels like it's important, when it's something she loves, like softball or Lana Del Rey.
"I said," Normani sighs, "Are you okay?" She turns around, presumably to see what Camila is staring at, and when she shifts to face Camila again she looks like she's going to laugh.
"What?" Camila snaps. Her eyes widen. "Oh god, sorry. I didn't mean to do that."
"Don't worry." Normani's mouth is still pulling up.
"It's not funny," Camila grouses.
"Yes, it is," Dinah says as she walks by, holding her phone above her head like she's trying to get a signal.
"You don't even know what we're talking about." Camila crosses her arms and frowns, petulant and childish. Maybe that's why Lauren didn't like her enough not to sneak away after dinner with Keaton last night, sliding into Camila's bed later to spoon, smelling like sweat and boy.
"Still funny." Dinah looks at her and laughs, taking a picture with her phone before walking away. "I've got to show this to Ally."
Camila should talk to Ally. Ally wouldn't laugh at her because Ally's actually nice. Ally's sympathetic. "Sleep with one eye open," Camila calls as Dinah heads toward craft services.
"It's cute that you're jealous," Normani says, smiling.
Well, at least she's not laughing anymore, so Camila uncrosses her arms and slouches in her chair. "I'm not jealous."
". . . No." Camila frowns. Lauren's laughing now, vibrant and low and Camila flinches.
"Why don't you just tell her?" Normani asks, her face gone soft, all traces of amusement gone.
And, so, she knows.
Camila feels her face warm, heart racing, and she wonders if that means Dinah and Ally know -- she's not going to think about the possibility that everyone can see the amount she likes Lauren written on her face all the time. It's embarrassing, and she just wants to be home, huddled under blankets with her curtains drawn shut and all the lights off, never having to look at anyone again.
"Oh, Mila." Normani's face twists into something sad as stands up and hugs her. "We just thought it was a crush. I didn't know . . . Nobody else knows."
Camila blinks back tears, because she's not going to cry backstage. "Thanks."
Keaton's arm is thrown around Lauren's waist, their bodies lined up on the couch, and Camila takes a deep breath and starts tiptoeing behind them. "Camz," Lauren says.
"Yeah?" Camila asks, pressing her mouth into a thin line, running her thumb over the binding of her book.
"Come sit." She pats the cushion next to her, smiling, body twisted toward Camila.
Camila holds up A Separate Peace. "I was going to read."
"Don't be a dork," Lauren says fondly, her eyes focused and bright, greener than Camila's ever seen them.
"Yeah, don't be a dork," Keaton echoes, but it sounds harsh and accusing coming from him. Lauren just hits his shoulder, doesn't tell him to stop or be nice.
"Well." Camila bites her lip and shrugs. "I don't want to interrupt anything."
I don't want to hang out with you when you're with Keaton, she doesn't say.
"You're not," Lauren assures. But Keaton's looking at Camila like he'd prefer sawing off his own head to her sitting down.
"Okay," she says. She walks slowly around the couch and sits back against the arm. Lauren grabs her ankle and pulls Camila's feet into her lap. "What're you guys doing?"
"Nothing." Lauren slips her hand under the cuff of Camila's jeans, pressing her hand up and down her calf.
"Your hand's cold," Camila pouts, fiddling with her fingers and trying not to stare at the place where Keaton's hand is covered by Lauren's top.
Lauren rolls her eyes and presses her other hand to Keaton's cheek. "What do you think?"
"Freezing," he says, grabbing it and pressing it against his mouth.
Camila looks at the giant television where a muted Friends rerun is playing, her entire body so ridged it hurts, her neck and shoulders sore. She wants to pull her feet off Lauren's lap, take her book and fall asleep reading about someone else's friendship falling apart.
She clears her throat, forcing herself to look at Lauren whispering something to Keaton. "I'm going to go read, actually."
Lauren looks at her again, hand tightening where it's stopped on her ankle. "But I'll miss you."
"I have a headache," she lies, standing up and wobbling a little. Lauren reaches out her hand to steady her but stops short. "You two have fun."
"You want me to cuddle with you?" Lauren asks, frowning.
"No, I'm okay." When Lauren still looks skeptical she adds, "Promise. Goodnight."
She hears Keaton ask, "What's up her ass?" as she climbs the stairs, doesn't pause to see if Lauren defends her.
Camila doesn't get it. She doesn't get why Lauren likes him. She doesn't get why Lauren needed something more than her, not when Lauren was so much that Camila felt like she was spilling over with it. She doesn't get why that something else Lauren needed had to be a boy who makes fun of her all the time and told a joke about the difference between a woman and a washing machine yesterday -- to be fair to Lauren, she hadn't been around for the joke, but still.
Camila falls asleep wishing she'd never kissed Lauren at all, even though she knows that quote about it being better to have loved and lost than never loved at all.
Camila's fingers tap dance along Lauren's forearms where they're wrapped tight around her waist. Lauren's humming against her neck, toes running cool up and down Camila's calves. She feels like she hasn't spent time with Lauren, just the two of them, in days, Lauren too busy doing things Camila doesn't want to think about with Keaton. But this is nice, comfortable, she's missed this. She's missed it so much she aches with it.
Lauren kisses her neck. "You sounded so good today."
"It's funny," Camila says, and when Lauren hooks her chin over Camila's shoulder, she continues, "I believe you when you say it, but nobody else."
"That's because I'd tell you if you were terrible," Lauren laughs, her breath hot and minty as it passes over Camila's skin.
She pushes gently on Camila's shoulder until Camila rolls onto her back. Lauren kisses her sweet and soft and slow, and Camila feels it everywhere, warmth spreading in her stomach, toes and fingers tingling. She cradles Lauren's jaw and sighs into her mouth. Lauren's hand runs under her shirt, pressing into her skin and anchoring her, like Lauren just knows Camila will float away if she doesn't.
"I've missed this," Lauren mumbles.
"Me too," Camila breathes.
Lauren slips a thigh between Camila's legs and she says, "I've missed this with you."
And. Right. Okay. Camila pictures Keaton hovering over Lauren, his knees bracketing her hips and his mouth sloppy on her neck.
She doesn't want to do this anymore. Tipping her head away, she exhales through her nose and Lauren just kisses behind her ear. Camila blinks and, god, she doesn't want to fucking do this anymore. She pushes at Lauren. "Lauren, stop."
"What?" Lauren asks, but she stops, holding herself up on her forearm. "Is everything okay?"
No, she thinks.
"Yeah. I'm just not in the mood."
"Oh." Lauren rolls off completely, lying on her back. There's barely a centimeter of space between them, but they're not touching, not anywhere, and Camila wonder if Lauren's falling off the bed. "That's okay," she says, and Camila tries to sift out any resentment or frustration in her voice, but she can't find any.
Lauren reaches out and grabs her hand, squeezing. Camila doesn't squeeze back, but she doesn't let go either.
"Ugh," Lauren groans, walking into the kitchen. "I ran out of conditioner."
They're leaving for the studio in less than five minutes and Camila is picking at a bag of honey nut cheerios. "At least no one hogged the bathroom so long you couldn't even get in to shower." It's stupid. It's so, so stupid. Camila knows it is the second it leaves her mouth, but, there it is. And because she feels really stupid for saying it, for how clipped it sounds, she only gets angrier.
"Someone woke up on the wrong side of the bed," Lauren says, shooting Camila a pointed, half-amused look.
"My hair's greasy." Camila shakes her ponytail in Lauren's direction.
"Camila, I'm sorry. I didn't know you wanted to get in there." Her voice pitches up at the end, almost like it's a question, her face scrunched up in confusion as though she can't tell if Camila is serious or not.
Camila rolls her eyes. She was planning on showering before dinner, but Lauren didn't know that. "Probably because you never think about other people."
"Camila that's -- You know that's not true." Lauren touches Camila's elbow and Camila flinches away. "You can't be serious."
She keeps thinking about Lauren's hand on Keaton's elbow, about Keaton pressed against Lauren's back on the couch, about Lauren laughing at Keaton's Screech impression, but mostly she thinks about how Lauren had slipped back into the room after two, the door squeaking a little when she closed it. She thinks about how she knows exactly where Lauren was and who she was with and what she was doing.
"You could've knocked on the door or said something." Lauren crosses her arms over her chest, disbelief written on her face.
Camila crushes a cheerio between her thumb and forefinger, watched the dust fall into her sandwich bag. "You probably used all the hot water, thinking about Keaton or whatever it is you do in there."
Camila is so, so dumb. She hates herself.
Lauren's mouth parts slightly, staring at Camila like she's grown a second head. "What the fuck," Lauren says, finally. "What the fuck."
Shrugging, Camila bites off the tip of her thumbnail, her face hot. She can't bring herself to meet Lauren's eyes. "I don't care. Do what you want. You always do."
Lauren's quiet for a long time, and then: "Don't talk to me until you stop being such a bitch."
When she leaves, Camila groans and hits her head on the kitchen counter.
Whenever they get a break Lauren leaves the room, and Camila knows she doesn't have to pee that much. And when lunch finally rolls around, Camila sets her plate down across from Lauren only to have Lauren roll her eyes, get up and move across the room to sit with Carly. So Camila picks at her spaghetti, feeling truly and spectacularly horrible. She thinks she probably still doesn't feel as bad as she should.
Ally slides into Lauren's recently vacated spot. "Is everything okay, Mila?"
Camila laughs quietly and bitterly, shaking her head. "Not at all."
"What happened?" Ally frowns, concerned etched around her mouth and her eyes, face open and focused.
"We've never had a fight before," Camila says.
"Well. Everybody fights sometimes." Ally reaches out and rests her hand over Camila's. "I'm sure it'll be okay."
"Not it won't." Camila twists a noodle around her fork. "I was mean."
"You can apologize. Lauren loves you. She'll understand." Ally squeezes, thumb running over Camila's wrist, and she sounds so sure that it makes Camila want to cry.
"You don't understand," Camila says, pushing the noodles back off her fork and using it to cut a meatball up into as many and as tiny pieces as possible. "I like . . . I said stuff about her and Keaton."
"Oh." Camila looks up to find Ally's eyes still sympathetic, head tilted to the side. "I'm sure she'll understand."
Camila worries her lip between her teeth. She's so tired of holding it all in; she's exhausted and has the dark circles under her eyes to prove it. She feels like someone's got their hands around her lungs, pushing all the air out, her chest heavy and tight. "Can I tell you something?"
"You can tell me anything."
Camila drops her fork and stands up, grabbing Ally's hand and leading her away from the tables set up for lunch. She doesn't want to do this where anyone could hear as they walk by to get a cookie and then proceed to make fun of her behind her back, mocking something that makes Camila's stomach twist, temples throb, fingers tremble. She find an empty voice room, a keyboard in the corner and two couches pushed against opposite walls. Camila shuts the door behind them and leans against it.
Ally sits down, crosses her ankles and rubs at the back of her neck like she's nervous, but she doesn't say anything. Camila's glad.
Camila needs to think.
"Lauren and I," she starts, standing up straight and pulling her sleeves down over her palms, "We've kind of been a thing? Or, doing things? Stuff. We've been doing stuff." Camila makes circles with her hands, the gesture wide and shaky.
"Okay," Ally says, her eyes wide in surprise, nodding as she processes this information. She's too still, so Camila starts pacing to make up for it.
"And now she'd doing stuff with Keaton. And I told her I didn't care, but then I said something really mean about it."
"So, you do care?" Ally asks, her voice quiet and encouraging.
"Yeah," Camila exhales. "A lot."
"You should just tell her."
"Ally," Camila says. She stops abruptly in front of the piano, hits one of its legs with her heel. Ally makes it sound so easy, but Camila thinks it might be the scariest thing she's ever thought about doing. Blood is rushing in her ears and she feels like the walls are moving in. "I can't. She won't -- It's embarrassing."
"Why?" Ally whispers.
"Because she won't -- Because I really -- Just because."
Ally stands up, places her hands on Camila's shoulders. She leans up on her tiptoes to meet Camila's eyes better. "She'll understand."
"How do you know?" Camila asks.
"Because she's crazy about you." Ally says it like she's speaking a universal truth, and when Camila starts to cry, Ally just hugs her, hand rubbing soothing circles into her back.
Camila wants to ask how Ally knows that, how she can be so sure, but she's too scared of the answer.
Lauren is very good at avoiding her, but after watching Spongebob with Dinah, Camila goes back to her room -- their room -- and Lauren is sitting on the bed, back against the headboard, listening to her ipod.
"Hi," Camila says, shutting the door softly and leaning against it, afraid Lauren will leave if she doesn't block it.
Pulling her earbuds out, Lauren tosses her ipod to the side. "So."
"I'm sorry," Camila blurts. "I'm so, so, so sorry." It doesn't sound like enough. Camila doesn't know if she's ever going to be enough -- if she's ever going to feel like enough.
"Okay," Lauren says, looking at her feet as she flexes them, her toes painted bright red.
"I didn't mean to say it."
"Then why did you?" When Lauren looks up, her face betrays how sharp the words sound.
Camila inhales, exhales, pushing off the door and walking to the edge of Lauren's bed, pressing her fingertips against the mattress, shoulders hunching. "Because I -- don't laugh. Please."
Lauren just stares at her, unblinking, face gone blank.
"I was jealous," Camila says, voice shaking. God, she's so dumb and she hates herself.
"You were jealous?" Lauren asks slowly, like the words don't quite make sense. Camila just nods. "Of Keaton?"
"Duh," Camila blurts, realizing as she says it she doesn't really have any right to be snippy right now. "Sorry. Yeah. I just. Of who else?"
"I thought." Lauren looks down twisting a ring around her finger. "I guess I thought maybe you liked him."
"No." Camila shakes her head. "Ew. Gross."
"Or that you thought I was a slut, or something." Lauren bites her lip, and god, it's terrible how much Camila just wants to kiss her, again, still, always.
"No, Lauren. I would never think that about you. I can't believe you'd even think I'd think that." When Lauren crosses her legs like a pretzel, Camila sits down where her feet were. "I was just mad that you were with Keaton, too."
Lauren swallows. "When I asked you said you didn't care."
"I know." Camila scrubs at her face, pressing her palms into her eyes until colors flash behind them and then fade to black and white dots. "I know I said that. But I'm selfish, I guess. I lied."
"I wish you'd have told me," Lauren says.
"Me too." Camila blinks until her vision clears. "So, I'm sorry. It's fine if you don't want to, um, be with me anymore."
"Camz." The weight pressing on Camila's chest lifts a little at the nickname. Lauren reaches out and grabs her hands. "Keaton's fun but like, I like you so much, you know?"
Camila bites down on her lip, feels Lauren's thumb pressing into her palm. "Me too. Sometimes I think I like you so much I'm going to explode with it."
Lauren laughs quietly, her mouth starting to turn up into a smile. "So, just you and me then?"
"I don't want it to be an ultimatum. I don't want you to regret it in a month."
"I won't," Lauren says, voice quiet and firm, hand squeezing reassuringly. "I think I'm in love with you."
Camila's breath catches in her throat, and she smiles small. "Me too. I think I'm in love with you, too." Lauren's grinning at her now, eyes so bright and green, and Camila's missed her so, so much. "I love you." She leans over to kiss Lauren and whispers "I love you" against her mouth, against her neck, against her hip, against the inside her thigh.
She admits that maybe she should reevaluate her position on that quote about loving and losing and never having loved at all, because right now, Camila can't think she'd ever regret Lauren, can't believe she ever thought she might. Not when Lauren smiles at her like maybe Camila's the whole world.
If Lauren thinks so, maybe Camila's enough after all.