Even on stage, Bayley kept an eye on the striking purple-haired woman working her way through the crowd. She watched as Sasha exchanged a smile with one guest, shaking hands with another, taking business cards from people who wanted to speak with her later. She knew her manager had been meticulous with the guest list for the launch party of her first album, making sure that there were plenty of people in the audience who they could impress and work with at some point in her career.
Yet it was also a celebration of their success. Of Bayley's many hours writing her music, playing with her band and working with her producers in the studio. Of Sasha's relentless networking and promotion, doing everything she could for Bayley's music to be heard, until she was finally signed with a label. Many of their friends and family had joined them for the party. In front of the microphone, Bayley smiled down at her brother and sister who were jumping up and down in excitement, screaming themselves hoarse.
The one person who wasn't there was the woman that Bayley had been kind of, sort of, seeing for the past few months. She threw a tantrum when she found out that she wasn't invited, that she wasn't going to be introduced as Bayley's girlfriend. It didn't matter how many times Bayley had gently told her she wasn't looking for anything serious and tried to make sure that she was ok with her lack of committment. Bayley finally took it as an opportunity to break up with her for good. There was only one person that she really wanted to celebrate with tonight, anyway.
"Thank you everyone, enjoy the party!" she shouted into the crowd as she finished her set. She flashed a smile at the people who had gathered to speak with her at the front of the stage, but first turned away to put her guitar down. Her bass player intercepted her as soon as she got the strap over her head, sweeping her up in a hug.
"Bayley, this is so amazing! I can't believe this is finally happening."
"I know dude, me too!" She squeezed his shoulder. "Couldn't have done it without you."
"Nah man, this is all on you. And Sasha." His smile turned sly. "By the way, she looks good tonight."
Bayley immediately felt the dull roar of jealousy in her chest, something primal scrabbling to get out. But she forced it down with an awkward laugh. "Come on Ricky, you're gayer than I am."
"I'm just saying." He hugged her again, taking the opportunity to whisper in her ear. "Ask her out."
"Ricky, even though you're gay, you might have more of a shot with her than I do. I don't even know if she could like me in that way. And I don't want to screw up our professional relationship…"
"Dude, have you seen the way she looks at you? Ask. Her. Out."
She gave him a wistful smile, before letting him go to meet his own friends and family. Taking a deep breath, she turned to face the crowd again, her eyes automatically sweeping the room in search of Sasha. She found her speaking to her cousin, but glancing occasionally at the stage over his shoulder. Their eyes met, and the other woman smiled at her, bright and happy at how well the night was going. Bayley couldn't help but return it, feeling her spirits lift again.
Her game face back on, she joined the group beckoning to her from the front of the stage. For the rest of the night, she moved from guest to guest, Sasha occasionally appearing by her side to introduce her to someone she needed to meet. Neither she nor Sasha drank too much, always aware that they could be speaking with a potential collaborator, a potential advocate. But as the night wound down, as more and more people left, they felt comfortable drinking a few glasses of champagne until it was finally time to usher out the remaining crowd, and to say their goodbyes to the venue's staff.
So as they made their way home to the apartment they had begun sharing a year earlier, Sasha was only slightly unsteady on her stiletto heels, as much from exhaustion as from the effects of alcohol. She leant on the door jamb as she waited for Bayley to find her keys, and pulled at a lock of her own hair, eyeing it critically. "I might go back to black. What do you think?"
"I think you'd look beautiful whatever color you choose." The response came before Bayley could help herself. She cleared her throat to try and hide her slip. "But I don't think I've ever seen you with your natural hair before."
"Yeah, I started dyeing it when I was sixteen. I went with red and pink first before I tried purple. But after tonight, it might be time to look a bit more professional."
"Sasha, in the past three years, you got me hundreds of bookings, interviews, sponsors and finally a record deal. I think you look professional enough already." She reached out to tug playfully at the other woman's hair. "But you haven't made a wrong decision for me yet, I don't think you will when you're deciding on your hair color."
"Thanks Bay." She hid a yawn as Bayley pushed the door open, following her into their apartment. "But that can wait, right now all I want is…"
She trailed off when she saw what was in their living room. There was a bottle of Veuve Clicquot chilling on ice, as well as a box from her favorite bakery sitting on their coffee table. She looked at Bayley, who was smiling at her nervously. "My sister came by after she left the party to set this up. I knew we wouldn't be drinking much since we were working. And I knew you would be too busy rushing around to eat today. I can tell you're tired… but tonight was a big deal, Sasha, and I don't feel like we were able to celebrate properly. Will you have a drink with me?"
Sasha's expression softened, some of the exhaustion falling away. "Of course I will." She kicked off her heels and sank on to their thick shag-pile rug, leaning back against the couch to watch Bayley pop the cork on the champagne.
Handing her one of the glasses, Bayley joined her on the floor. The musician was silent for a few moments, before she lifted her head and met the other woman's eyes with a smile. "To us. Thank you for being the best partner I can ask for, Sasha. You make all my dreams come true."
"Thank you for doing the same for me. To your first album, and to many more together." Sasha returned the smile, clinking their glasses together. After taking a sip, she rested her head on Bayley's shoulder. "You sounded so great tonight, Bay. Every time I see you perform, it reminds me why I do this."
Bayley reached up to tangle her fingers in the other woman's hair, lightly scratching at her scalp, feeling Sasha relax even further into her touch. But she had to ask the question, something she had been wondering for the past three years. "Why do you do this, Sasha? I mean, things are going well now, but for awhile, we were running on the smell of an oily rag. That's why we decided to move in together, so that we could save money. If you had bailed, I wouldn't have blamed you."
Sasha didn't answer for a few moments, taking another sip of her champagne. Finally, she said "When I first heard you play, from outside the music rooms in school, before we even met… it felt like your music was speaking just to me. I still feel that same way every time you perform. I knew I wanted to help you share that with the world." She reached out to tilt the brunette's chin up, making Bayley lift her eyes to look at her. "And you're amazing Bay, you know that? Not just with the music… but every time someone meets you, they want to support you, they want to work with you. You're so good and kind and genuine… you make everyone fall in love with you."
Bayley couldn't help herself. She glanced down at Sasha's lips, wondering what it'd be like to finally close the distance and kiss. Then, kicking herself mentally, she hurridely looked away. As a distraction, she pulled the dessert box closer and opened the lid, hearing Sasha sigh happily at the sight.
"Wow. I can't believe you got one of Dee Dee's Chocolate Bombs."
"I know it's your favorite."
"You're always looking out for me." Not bothering with a plate, Sasha speared a forkful of ganache, chocolate mousse and cake. She hesitated for a moment, before bringing up the fork to tease it against Bayley's lips, who laughingly pushed her hand away.
"Sasha! What are you doing?"
"You don't want it?"
"I got it for you." But Bayley didn't say no when Sasha offered it again for a second time. She knew some crumbs had caught on the edge of her mouth, and she brought her hand up to wipe them away. Then Sasha stopped her, reaching up herself to smooth at her lip with her thumb. Bayley held her breath, as Sasha looked at her with those deep, dark eyes that she had always loved.
Their first kiss was slow, tentative. Weighted down by all the reasons why it was a bad idea, how a personal relationship going badly could wreck their professional relationship. When they parted, Bayley could see the uncertainty written all over the other woman's face. She wanted, more than anything, to wipe it away. Their lips met again, more heatedly this time, Bayley tugging the other woman into her lap, threading her fingers into purple hair, moaning as Sasha eagerly kissed her back.
She was just about to slide the straps of Sasha's dress down her shoulders, when Bayley forced herself to pull back, shaking her head slightly to clear it of the daze she was in. "Sasha… wait," she said breathlessly. "This can't be just one night for me. If we do this… I want to really do this. Be together. I've been in love with you for years."
Sasha smiled, bringing Bayley's hand to her lips and kissing her knuckles. "Idiot," she murmured fondly. "I told you five minutes ago that I was in love with you too."
It was like a lightbulb went off in the musician's head. "Ohhh."
Laughing, Sasha got to her feet, pulling Bayley up with her. She drew her in for another kiss before leading them down the hallway to her bedroom, their hands still clasped together.