A/N: I've been wanting to do a one shot to this song for awhile, but the idea I initially had probably would have angered a decent portion of the Rucas fandom. Then Nat ( reytonbleyer ) did a beautiful cover to this song, and another idea immediately hit me. So, this little one shot is dedicated to her and to my birthday girl Augustė ( hopefulforus ).

College AU: Farkle never figured out that Riley was stepping back for Maya; therefore, Farkle never stepped in and made the NYE announcement.

"Dancing on My Own"

Song by: Calum Scott

Riley Matthews hissed as her fingers brushed against the hot curling iron. She quickly set the device down before she turned on her sink. As she ran her throbbing fingers through the cold water, she groaned in pain. "Good going, Riles," she mumbled as she examined her tender fingers.

She looked up at the mirror as she examined her appearance. She had about half of her hair left to curl and then she would be done. She had spent the better part of her day picking out the perfect dress to wear that evening. Part of her, a bigger part than she would ever admit, didn't want to go, but she knew that there would be no way out of it. Besides, it was one of her best friend's birthdays. She wasn't going to miss that for the world, even if it meant another backslide, another night spent staring at something she knew she could never have.

'Because you lied in 8th grade, and never attempted to tell the truth.'

'You're my brother, Lucas,' she once told him. Those four words had haunted the brunette for the last seven years—nearly a third of her life. She thought that she was doing what was best for everyone. She and Lucas had their chance at a relationship, and it resulted in them not even being able to communicate with one another. She didn't want that. She never wanted that. He was one of her best friends, and she could never imagine her world without him in it.

At the same time, ever since that 8th grade proclamation, her world with him in it was slowly destroying her.

She was able to fool herself—for a while at least. She watched him spend New Year's with someone else while she sat alone on the rooftop of her parents' apartment building. She smiled as he and her best friend went on a handful of dates shortly thereafter. She had convinced herself that they were happy with one another, and that if they were happy, then she would somehow, someday, be able to move on from him.

In a flash, her best friend and her crush had parted ways—citing irreconcilable differences as the reason for their breakup. Riley was never sure if they were ever officially boyfriend and girlfriend in the first place. It was a little strange between the two after that—awkward—as Riley assumed most breakups would be, but as her group of friends entered high school, Lucas and Maya found a way to move on from their three-month pseudo relationship.

She could have come clean with everyone then, admit that her feelings for the Texan were never platonic and had always been something more than friendship, but she didn't. She never wanted to lose him. What she told him during their trip to Texas was true: she didn't want to date for a while and then break up and never talk again. Plus, he never really challenged her on her declaration—at least not after he began to date her best friend. And what about the whole girl code thing she learned about her first week in high school? Maya already dated him. Riley wasn't about to risk losing her best friend in order to admit her feelings for someone who might not feel the same way.

So, she kept up with the stupid charade. She treated him the same way she treated Farkle and Zay. The three of them became her older brothers, but instead of her romantic feelings for Lucas dwindling over time, they intensified. She thought that once they graduated high school that she could put some distance between them. She thought for sure that he would want to go to college back in Texas and that the distance would afford her the time to finally move on from him, but instead, he got accepted into Columbia while she and Maya decided to attend NYU.

Going to a different school did help the brunette. She was able to come up with excuses to explain away her absence whenever her friends all gathered together. Of course, she knew she couldn't always duck out, so she attended enough events so no one would really take notice when she was absent. She loved her friends and wanted to be around them, but she also didn't want anyone to know that she had been desperately in love with her good friend Lucas for over half a decade.

They both dated around. Riley was desperate to fill the void she had never quite gotten used to. She never found anyone she connected with. Most of her prospects only lasted a few dates. Lucas, on the other hand, seemed to bounce from relationship to relationship. Every time she saw him, he was dating some new girl. It got to the point where Riley and the rest of her friends couldn't even keep track with their names.

She thought that after a while, she would be used to it—used to seeing him laugh and smile and whisper to someone who wasn't her—but she wasn't. She never was. In fact, her jealously grew exponentially over the years—it was another reason why she remained distant.

But not tonight.

No. Tonight was Zay's 21st birthday, and they were all going out to celebrate.

/Somebody said you got a new friend
Does she love you better than I can?
There's a big black sky over my town
I know where you're at, I bet she's around/

Seven years and no one knew how the brunette felt about him—not even her best friend. Riley had grown accustomed to plastering that nauseating fake smile whenever she was in his presence. She was so good at it that no one in her world, who should have known better, ever suspected a thing.

Her counterfeit smile was splashed perfectly across her face as she and Maya entered the dimly lit club. Riley was grateful for the space—at least then she could stick to the shadows and not expend all of her energy by acting like her heart wasn't breaking all over again by the mere sight of him.

"I'm going to go ahead and get a round," Maya announced to the small group. "In honor of the birthday boy…we all need to drink until we can't remember our own names."

Zay grinned. "I like the sound of that, but what about," he gestured toward Riley.

"I'm covered," she smiled as she pulled out her fake ID. "Only going to need this bad boy for two more months." Her fake ID had served her well over the last three years. For the first two years, she only used them at clubs around the city, but over the last several months, she used it more at the grocery store when she would pick up her weekly wine stash. She never thought she would resort to alcohol to escape from reality, but it was the only thing that alleviated the pain in her chest at the sight—or quite often simply the thought—of him.

"That's right," Zay eagerly rubbed his hands together. "The Vegas trip is coming up. Are you excited?"

Riley watched as Maya and Farkle left to get a round of shots for the table. She slid into the vacant seat next to her friend. "Yeah. Of course. Aren't you? It's going to be amazing. Four days in Las Vegas and we'll all finally be 21."

"Baby Riley is finally growing up," he teased.

"Hey," she nudged playfully, "You only have two months on me." She glanced around the congested space. "So…is Lucas coming tonight?"

"Yeah. Yeah, of course. He's running a little late. Alicia had a wardrobe emergency or something."

Riley's face fell. Alicia. She hadn't heard that name before. "Alicia?"

"Yeah. Yeah…the newest conquest, I guess." He shrugged. "I don't know why I even bother to learn their names. I don't think he's ever had a relationship that's lasted more than two months."

"Serial monogamist, that one is," Riley sighed as she lightly drummed her fingers on the table. Another new conquest. While his relationships never lasted longer than a few months, Riley knew that one day, he'd find someone who would break that trend. As the years passed by, that fear only grew. She constantly thought about telling him how she felt, but what was the point? If he was ever interested in her, he never showed it. He could have asked her out during the last seven years, but he never did.

"Here we go," Zay proclaimed as Maya and Farkle returned with a handful of shots.

"He's still not here yet," Maya asked as she set one of the glasses in front of her best friend.

Riley shook her head.

"He better not do this in Vegas," Farkle told the group. "The plane isn't going to wait for him."

"Plane," an all too familiar voice asked from behind Riley.

The hair on the back of her neck stood up as soon as she heard his voice. The voice that haunted her, the voice that tormented her with a future that she knew she could never have. She wanted to be drunk by the time she saw him. She wanted to be in that sweet spot where seeing him wouldn't feel like a thousand knives stabbing her heart. She wanted to not care. She was tired of caring. She was tired of the fluttering feeling in her heart whenever she saw him. She was tired of the thud she felt whenever she saw the latest goddess on his arm.

She quickly decided that she couldn't handle this sober. She reached for the shot glass and quickly downed the contents.

"Riley!" Zay frowned. "We were all supposed to do the first one together!"

"Sorry," she apologized as she sat the shot glass down. "I thought you guys were taking it too," she lied. It was scary how good she was getting at this whole lying thing. She hated it. She longed for the days where her best friend could easily detect the falsities in her tone.

"Damn Riley," Maya's eyes widened. "You ok?"

She nodded. "Yep. Thought we all came to celebrate with the birthday boy? Why am I the only one drinking?" Deflection. She had also become a professional when it came to distracting her group of friends.

"But you hate shots," Maya tilted her head to the side as she examined the brunette. She seemed off—nervous perhaps? "I thought it would take a lot of convincing to get you to do this one."

She shook her head. "Nope. In fact, I'll get the next round." She slid out of her chair. As she turned around, she immediately bumped into him. God. Why hadn't he moved around to the other side of the table?

Lucas reached his arms out to steady the wobbly brunette. "You ok, Riles?"

She bit her bottom lip as she stared at the ground. Every time he touched her, no matter how innocent the gesture, a jolt of electricity shot through her. How was it possible that he didn't feel it too? Why was she the only one forced to walk through life completely and utterly in love with one of her best friends?

She slowly lifted her head. Those green eyes immediately entrapped her. She felt helpless as she, once again, found herself under the hypnotizing spell of them. "Yeah," she finally answered. "I'm ok."

Lucas smiled at her as he admired her outfit. "You look amazing."

"Thanks," she mumbled. "Um…sit down. I'll go get the next round."

"I'll come too," Maya said from behind the pair as she gulped down her shot.

"Oh, wait—before you go," he began as he turned to the brunette who stood next to him. "I want you to meet Alicia. Alicia, this is Riley and the blonde over there is Maya."

The brunette smiled as she offered her hand to Riley. "Nice to meet you, Riley. Lucas talks about you all the time."

'He does?' Riley tucked a piece of hair behind her ear before she shook the other girl's hand. "Nice to meet you too, Alicia."

"Hi, I'm Maya," the blonde told the latest addition to Lucas's long line of girlfriends.

Riley reached for her clutch before she spun around and walked toward the bar, her best friend right behind her.

"Have a seat," Lucas told his girlfriend as he pulled out a stool for her. He looked at Farkle. "What plane were you talking about?"

/Yeah, I know it's stupid
I just gotta see it for myself/

"You know, it's crazy," Maya began as the girls waited for their drink order.

"What is?"

Maya smirked. "You don't see it?"

Riley frowned. "See what?"

The blonde gestured behind Riley to the table their friends were at. "Lucas…and his taste in women."

Riley turned around as she looked at his girlfriend. Brunette. Olive skin. Killer legs. Complete and utter perfection. "What about it?"

"Besides yours truly here…every girl he's ever brought around us…well," she chuckled, "they all look like you."

Riley raised an eyebrow as she slowly turned around to face Maya once more. "No, they don't. Look at me…and then look at her. She's like a supermodel, Maya. We look nothing alike."

"She might be taller than you, but same color hair, same color eyes, same adorable little nose," she practically cooed.

Riley rolled her eyes. "Just because one girl and I share a few attributes does not mean that she looks like me or even that he has a type."

"Maybe I ruined him for blondes," she smirked.

"Maybe that's it." She took a deep breath. "Maybe he's secretly been pining over you for the last seven years?"

Maya chuckled. "Oh please. If he's pining over anyone, it's definitely not me."

Riley sighed. "We're just friends, Maya."

"You know that I would be ok with it…more than ok actually…if you and he ever dated…right? I know girl code and all, but it was 8th grade and I'm pretty sure we were never boyfriend and girlfriend. God…we never even kissed. Not to mention the fact that you two technically dated first anyway, so if anyone broke girl code, it would've been me."

Riley couldn't hide the shock from her face. "You never kissed? I thought that…you must have…you were together for a few months."

Maya shrugged. "We were also in 8th grade. We didn't know what we were doing. I don't even think we really liked each other like that. I think we just did it because…well…" she sighed.

She couldn't stop there. Why did they date if they didn't even like one another? "Because of what?"

"Because it was what you wanted."

/I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own/

Riley barely had time to sit the drinks down on the table before she felt his eyes on her. She slowly met his gaze. He seemed frustrated, mad, and maybe perhaps, a little sad?

"When were you going to tell me?"

She glanced around the table. What conversation did she miss? There were quite a few things she had kept from him over the years. She needed a little more information before she could come clean about anything. "Tell you what?"

He scoffed. "Tell me that you and everyone else was going to Vegas for your birthday in a few months."

She swallowed. She had hoped the trip wouldn't come up. She knew at some point he would find out, and that the guys would question her once they realized that Lucas wasn't going. She wasn't quite sure what she was thinking by leaving him out, but truthfully, she didn't want him there. It was too much. It was getting to be too hard to be around him for a few hours, let alone see him for four days straight. She knew he didn't deserve to be excluded like that, but what else was she supposed to do? "I-I was going to tell you," she lied.

"I don't believe you," he answered. Why would she leave him out? She was probably his best friend. He felt closer to her than with either of the guys. They did go to different colleges, and they hadn't seen one another a lot lately, but whenever he needed something or someone to turn to, she was always there.

"It's the truth," she lied again. "I haven't seen you in awhile…and we all kind of planned this at Maya's art show last month."

"A month?" He quickly stood up. "Really Riley?" He looked around the table. "You know you could have messaged me about it or…I don't know…call me? If you don't want me to go, all you had to do was say so. You don't have to play any kind of game with me." He paused. "We don't do that, remember? We're always honest with each other."

Riley looked away from him. She couldn't do this here and now. "We'll talk about it later. It's Zay's birthday now and we're here to celebrate him." She picked up one of the glasses. "Happy Birthday, Zay."

The entire group followed Riley's lead as they downed the shot. As soon as she set the glass down, she noticed that his mouth had opened to continue their conversation. She didn't want to hear it. She just wanted to have fun. She just wanted to escape from her feelings for one stupid night. She turned to Maya. "Let's go dance." She didn't wait for the blonde to respond before she grabbed her hand and led her to the dance floor.

Lucas watched the girls retreat to the middle of the dance floor before he turned to the guys. "What's going on?"

Zay shrugged. "No idea, man. You know girls. Can never figure them out."

He had a point. He had never been able to figure her out. From the moment they met, he thought there was something between them, but she made it clear a year later that they were friends—siblings to be more specific. She only saw him as an older brother type. Maybe that was the problem? Maybe she didn't want him to go to Vegas and keep an eye on her?

He turned to his girlfriend. "Do you want to go dance?"

The brunette smiled. "Absolutely."

/I'm just gonna dance all night
I'm all messed up, I'm so out of line
Stilettos and broken bottles
I'm spinning around in circles/

"Why don't you want Lucas to go to Vegas with us," Maya called out to Riley as they danced. They were only a foot apart, but the pounding bass beat forced the blonde to yell at the brunette.

Riley didn't answer as she bobbed her heat to the beat of the song. She had heard Maya clearly, but figured that if she pretended that she didn't, she wouldn't be forced to answer the question. She flipped her hair over her shoulder before she raised her arms over her head. She closed her eyes as she desperately tried to escape from the situation she found herself in. She needed to remind herself that she was there because she wanted to celebrate Zay's birthday. She wasn't there to drown in the quicksand of emotions she had kept to herself for this long. She could fall apart later.

Her eyes flew open when she felt Maya grab her hand and pull her close. Her brown eyes met crystal blue as the blonde glared at her. "What's going on?"

Riley's heart raced. She couldn't give in now. She had kept it quiet for so long that it was second nature to keep up the ruse, no matter who tip toed along the edge of discovering her secret. No one could know. If they did, he would eventually find out and then, whatever friendship remained between them would be ruined. She thought she could handle this. She thought that after some time, her feelings for him would disappear, but they hadn't. A few years ago, she began to suspect that maybe those feelings would never go away.

"Nothing," the brunette finally said.

Maya stared at her for a long moment before she reached for Riley's hand and guided her to the outside patio of the club so they could talk. Something wasn't right. Something hadn't been right for a long time. Riley had always waved it off as a result of whatever was currently going on in their lives—whether it was starting high school, going to college, trying to figure out what to do with the rest of her life—but Maya wasn't buying it anymore. She hadn't been herself in years, and while she had tried to justify it as a part of growing up, Maya wasn't so sure that was the case anymore.

Why couldn't Maya let this go? She didn't seem to have a problem with the flimsy excuses Riley gave her in the past. Why was it different now? Riley finally broke eye contact with the blonde as her eyes moved to the window. It was dark and dim inside the bar, but it didn't matter. She still saw them. She took an unsteady breath as she watched Lucas wrap his arms around his new girlfriend. She blinked several times as she fought against the wave of tears that threatened to betray the secret she had kept for so long. When he lowered his head to kiss the brunette, Riley clenched her jaw. She couldn't do this. Not here. Not now.

/I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own/

Riley was so spellbound by the sight before her that she didn't realize that Maya's eyes had never left hers. She didn't notice that Maya had slowly turned around to try to figure out what had captivated the brunette's attention. She didn't hear Maya comment about how disgusting public displays of affection were. She didn't see Maya turn back to her and study her face for a solid minute.

Riley was so transfixed by the image in front of her that she failed to do the one thing she promised she wouldn't: react.

As the first tear slid down the brunette's cheek, Maya's eyes widened. "Riles," she cleared her throat. "How long?"

Riley blinked several times as she heard her name. She finally tore her eyes away from the couple as she slowly turned to her best friend. What were they talking about?

Maya waited a beat before she wiped away the solitary tear that had nestled against Riley's cheek. "How long," she repeated.

As Maya wiped away her tear, Riley realized that her body had finally betrayed her. She had to think of something, another lie, another way to remain lost in the shadows as she desperately tried to move on from a nearly decade long crush, but she didn't know how to do that anymore. "How long what?" It was the best response she could think of. Maybe it could buy her another minute to come up with something.

"How long have you been in love with Lucas?" When Riley opened her mouth, Maya shook her head. "Don't lie to me, Riles. I saw you. I see the way you look at him." She looked at the ground. "I guess I became used to it because you always looked at him like that, but something clicked when I saw that tear." She reached for Riley's hand as she silently begged her best friend to talk to her. "Riley, how long?"

Riley stared at Maya for a long time. She had tried everything she could think of to stop caring about him—to stop loving him. Maybe it was time to tell someone? Maybe it was time to put it out there in the universe? Maybe that was the key to moving on? She trusted Maya more than anyone else in the world. If she was going to bare her soul to anyone about her unresolved feelings for the Texan, she would confess them to Maya.

Tears filled Riley's eyes as she simply shrugged. "I don't know," she answered honestly. "I don't know when my infatuation turned into a crush turned into me liking him turned into me loving him." She swallowed. "I…I love him, Maya." As soon as the words left her mouth, seven years of denial quickly melted away. "I can't make it stop. Tell me. How do I make it stop?"

As she watched desperation rapidly overwhelm the brunette, Maya felt her nose burn as tears filled her eyes. "You can't," she answered softly. "How long have you tried to fight it?"

Riley's eyes fell to the ground.

Maya took a shaky breath. "Riles?"

"I saw you…a-and him. I saw that you liked him and that…that maybe he liked you too."

The frown line between Maya's eyebrows deepened as she listened to Riley's confession. "All this time?" When Riley nodded helplessly, Maya's heart shattered. "Riles." The blonde pulled the quaking brunette into her arms. "Why didn't you say anything? Why didn't you tell me? We tell each other everything. We would have…we would have figured it out."

"What's the point," she mumbled into the blonde's hair. "It wouldn't have worked out." She slowly pulled back from her friend as she wiped her eyes.

"What do you mean it wouldn't have worked out?"

Riley tucked a piece of hair behind her ear. "I mean…you two barely dated."

"Yeah…and we're friends now. What's your point?"

"Besides you, he's my best friend. I can't…if I told him…and he didn't feel the same way…then it could ruin our friendship. A-And on the other hand, what if I told him…and for some strange reason he did feel the same way…what then?" She sniffed. "We were in 8th grade. It wouldn't have worked out. That almost never happens," she paused, "unless you're Cory and Topanga."

"What about now, Riley? We aren't in middle school anymore. We're in college. College relationships can—and do—work out sometimes."

"Because…he seemed ok with it. He seemed fine with just being friends…and that's what we've been for so long now. I'm…I'm firmly in the friend zone." She looked inside once more. "Besides, have you seen the girls he's dated? They're all…stunning."

"No," Maya shook her head. "You're stunning."

"I'm a wreck." She looked down. "If he was ever interested, don't you think he would have asked me out?"

"Maybe he thinks you aren't interested?"

Riley shook her head. "Doesn't matter now, does it? He's with Alicia…and he seems happy with her."

"You need to tell him, Riley." She paused. "We don't lie to each other."

Riley gave her a sad smile. "I can't tell him. I might lose him, Maya…and I'd rather have him in my life as my friend than as nothing at all."

"Riley, you've been pushing him for the last few years. What kind of friendship is that? He's not even invited to your birthday."

"Yes he is."

Maya raised an eyebrow at her. "Didn't seem like it to me."

Riley frowned as she wiped her eyes one last time. "Fine. I'll go invite him right now. And afterward, we are getting another round of drinks and we are never talking about this again. I mean it, Maya. I need to figure this out without getting anyone else involved."

/So far away but still so near
The lights go on, the music dies
But you don't see me standing here
I just came to say goodbye/

She stormed back into the club, as a renewed sense of determination overshadowed every other instinct she had to fall apart at the mere sight of him. They were all back at their table. As she approached them, she heard them all laugh as if they didn't have a care in the world. She wanted that. She wanted to not care. "Lucas?"

He turned toward her. "Yeah?"

"Would you like to come to Vegas with us to celebrate my birthday in a few weeks?"

"Riley, I don't want to go if you don't want me—"

"I want you to," she told him evenly. "Ok?"

The entire table turned to look at Lucas as they waited for his answer. "Ok."

She released a breath she didn't realize that she was holding. "Good." She forced herself to smile—that same strained smile she had learned to master over the last seven years. The smile she loathed—the smile that made her stomach churn. "Now that that is all settled…does everyone want another round?"

She didn't wait for the group to answer as she spun around and headed back toward the bar. Did she really just ask him to come to Vegas? Was she out of her mind?

As Lucas watched her walk away, his chest constricted. He glanced at his girlfriend. "I'll be back, Alicia. She may need some help with carrying everything." He didn't wait for her to respond before he jogged after Riley.

/I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own/

She was already ordering the round by the time he reached her. He remained silent while she smiled at the bartender. He thought he was going to be sick at the sight of it. She didn't have to flirt with anyone in order to get some drinks. Farkle did a bang up job on their fake IDs, and they never carded you once you were allowed into the club. He knew that he had no say in how she acted around people, but it always made his skin crawl to see her do it.


She spun around at the sound of his voice. Her smile slowly fell as her eyes landed on his. He followed her? She thought that everything had gotten settled. Why did he follow her?

"I thought you might need some help…you know…with carrying everything."

She slowly nodded. "Sure. Thanks."

"So, how have you been? Haven't seen much of you lately."

"Oh. You know. Just busy with school and everything," she casually responded as if she hadn't practiced that exact answer in the mirror about a hundred times while she was getting ready. "This is my first time off campus on awhile."

"I'll come to you then," he offered. "When's the next film series? I remember we went to most of them freshman year." He smiled. "Remember 'Breakfast at Tiffany's'?"

She slowly smiled as the memories of their first college film screening came back to her. "Yeah. We got all dressed up as Audrey Hepburn and George Peppard. We thought we were being so original."

"Only 90% of the people there had the same idea." He grinned. That was an incredible night, but truthfully, he had a lot of incredible nights with her.

Riley laughed. "I can't believe you sat through the first half hour of it next to some other Holly Golightly."

Lucas smiled sheepishly as he rubbed the back of his neck. "I had that plastic dog mask on. I couldn't see anything."

"Sure. Sure. At least I know how to dress whenever I need to hide from you." It just slipped out. She didn't mean anything by it, but as the thought sunk in, she suddenly longed for that black dress and sunglasses.

His smile slowly faded. "You never need to hide from me, Riles."

She nearly buckled under the intensity of his stare. If he only knew how wrong he was. She had to hide from him. There was no option. It was called self-preservation. "I don't?"

He frowned. "No. It's me we're talking about here. Me and you. There's nothing you could ever do to not make me want to be around you."

'I love you,' her mind screamed. 'If I told you the truth, I bet you'd want me to hide from you then.'

When she didn't answer him, his heart dropped. "Are you…hiding from me?"

/I'm in the corner, watching you kiss her, ohh
I'm right over here, why can't you see me, ohh
I'm giving it my all, but I'm not the girl you're taking home, ooo
I keep dancing on my own
I keep dancing on my own/

Riley shook her head. The simply motion was a lot easier than opening her mouth and feeding him another lie. "What makes you say that?"

"Oh, I don't know. The fact that I haven't seen you in a few months, and I honestly can't remember the last time we hung out alone." He paused when the bartender brought a tray of shots to Riley.

"Thank you," she smiled.

"Anytime, Rachel," the bartender winked at her. "There's an extra one there for you too."

"Thanks Brian," she practically purred.

Lucas turned his head away. He thought he was going to be sick. Once the Brian the bartender left, he continued. "Rachel?"

"That's what it says on my ID," she smiled forcefully as she looked down at the seven shots in front of her. "Are you going to help me with this or just watch?"

He sighed. "Promise me one thing."


He waited for her to look at him, to give him any indication that she knew that what he was about to say was important, but she didn't. She simply stared at the glasses in front of her. "Promise me that no matter what happens…no matter where we go…who we meet…that we're always going to be Riley and Lucas."

She bit her bottom lip. At the end of the day, that was all she wanted. It was why she kept quiet for so long about how she felt about him. It was why she wasn't about to take Maya's advice and tell him. He wanted them to stay as they were. She did too. She needed to get him out of her heart. It was the only way to ensure his presence in her life for the long run. "Of course," she answered as she turned to look at him. "We will always be Riley and Lucas." She gave him a small smile before she picked up half of the shots and walked away from the bar.

Lucas took a deep breath as he watched her leave. Everyone always wondered why he wasn't able to stay in a relationship for more than a few months. The answer was simple and obvious, at least to him. It was because his heart had always belonged to someone else. He was simply trying to survive—to find a way to move on from loving someone who only saw him as a brother.

Seven years since she first broke his heart and here he stood—more in love with her than ever.

/I keep dancing on my own/