"How are you holding up?" The breathy voice to her left was tentative; the blonde was gently prodding toward a discussion her friend had put off since her plane's wheels touched the tarmac.
Naya sighed, tucking her knees to her chest and settling her long skirt over her feet so that it covered her toes. Resting her chin on top of her bent legs, she stared into the distance, avoiding the hazel eyes watching her carefully as she chose her words. "I'm just trying to keep myself busy."
"Random weekend in Paris? I noticed."
Tilting her head slightly, so her cheek pressed against the top of her thighs, she observed the woman next to her, watching the slight morning breeze brush through the tips of her hair, which had lengthened since they'd last seen one another. The brunette leaned over, searching with blind fingers for her mug of coffee before sitting back up, clutching the cup in both hands and allowing her thighs to separate, leaving her sat in a butterfly position. "We're having a viewing party of the episode Wednesday. I don't think I can sit through that," she murmured. "I don't know if Heather will be there, or Matt, and I just –"
"I get it Nay, I do." Reaching over, Dianna loosened her friend's grip on the cup she held tightly, exchanging the mug for her own fingers and gently squeezing. "At least you'll get a little break through, right? Your characters aren't slated to get back together until the holidays, if they do bring them back together."
"I don't want a break, Lady," she huffed, her face falling miserably toward her chest. "I know it was for the best, but it hurts, too damn much." She pulled her hand back into her lap, picking at the hem of her skirt before she continued. "Being close to her on set is the only way I can be close to her at all, and that's been ripped out from underneath me. It's too hard to go back to how things were in the beginning, because now we both know the touches mean more than they should. I can't cuddle up to her in her trailer, because my chest aches. I can't ask her to hang out because I honestly don't trust myself around her. Half of the time I want to pull her in and kiss her until I pass out, and the other half of the time I want to stop breathing all together, because it just fucking hurts."
Flitting back a few months in her memory, Dianna nodded, brushing a stray strand of hair behind her ear. Thoughts of Naya from London flickered through her mind's eye and gave way to further thoughts, years ago, of yet another brunette. "You two are perfect for one another honey," the blonde murmured. "You're far more than an "it is what it is," or a "que sera sera." Things will work out, in their own time. Right now, maybe being strong isn't an option, so instead, do what you do best."
"What's that?" she mumbled, allowing her dark hair to curtain her face and hide the tear tracks framing her cheeks.
"Channel your feelings into your work, and bury yourself there."
The unbridled need for affection she'd garnered in the past few weeks did not go unrecognized by her best friend, who'd toted her around set wrapped underneath his arm. The solid weight and familiar warmth was soothing, and she appreciated every attempt he made to make her feel at ease. Her smiles and laughter had become few and far between, and Kevin had done his best to bring the light back into her dulled mocha eyes. She'd catch glimpses of him tip toeing around her, however, and Naya would jolt with the realization that she was barely pushing through her days. Feigning indifference and avoiding the near constant questioning glances from those nearest and dearest to her was becoming exhausting, but she did exactly as Dianna had suggested, and buried herself into the filming for the Grease episode, scribbling into her lined composition book every second she had down time so she could simultaneously work through and ignore the thoughts running rampant through her.
She could see in blue eyes that Heather was just as worn down as she was, but the nail in this coffin of awkwardness that had encompassed them was that she couldn't do a damn thing about it. They'd skillfully danced around one another for the past few weeks, nodding in recognition when they'd meet and sending pained smiles between them. It was a civil attempt at preventing round two of the Great Morris-Rivera freeze out, but even then, the superficiality of the interactions drained them both.
"Are you going to the screening?"
The soft voice behind her left Naya breathless, and she turned to meet the blonde she spent her waking hours avoiding and her unconscious hours dwelling over. Shrugging nonchalantly, she looked down at her feet, more uncomfortable in Heather's presence than she had been in months.
"I don't know if I will either. It just – " She managed her own shrug, but didn't remove her eyes from tracing every inch of Naya's face. "You look tired," the blonde stated matter-of-factly.
"I am tired." The three words spoke volumes, all of the pretenses slamming to a screeching halt, allowing the undertones of her sentence to flutter around them, taunting both women mercilessly.
I miss you.
I love you.
I wish things didn't have to be this way.
How could you leave me?
Where do we go from here?
How do I make my chest stop aching?
I miss you.
"Yeah," Heather whispered, finally catching her ex's gaze. "I know the feeling."
I miss you too.
I'll never stop loving you.
I wish we could go back to how things were.
I never wanted to leave.
I don't know how to be around you.
I can barely breathe when I look at you.
I miss you more than you could understand.
The brunette suddenly surged forward, distance be damned, and pulled Heather to her chest, wrapping her arms around the dancer's thin waist. Naya nuzzled into the other woman's chest, inhaling the calm, clean scent that haunted her on a regular basis, relishing in the feeling of arms snaking around her shoulders and holding tight. "Is this okay?" she murmured, now painfully aware of what the embrace could do for their self-control, as she felt hers crumbling around her.
"It's more than okay," Heather returned easily, nodding against the top of long dark locks. They stood there, in the middle of the lot, breathing in every ounce of hurt within the other and feeling the pangs of reflection as they recognized the same thing creeping into their own chests. The blonde pulled away first, tucking Naya's bangs behind her ear. "I've got to get to set." The brunette simply nodded, though every atom of her buzzed with protest. "I'll – " Heather cleared her throat. "I'll see you around, yeah?"
She was unsure of what had possessed her to go to the screening. Every fraction of logic she possessed screamed that it was a bad idea – the worst idea – but the tug in her gut was growing stronger by the moment, and she had given up on fighting against it. If there had been more time, or if she wasn't so exhausted, her self-preservation might have kicked in, but it hadn't, and thus, she was surrounded by her colleagues, doing her best to seem unphased by the happenings on screen.
She remembered Heather's lips on her own in the laundry scene. She remembered the butterflies encompassing her frame, the rush of adrenaline that came with pressing their mouths together in front of people, despite being in character. She flashed back to the photos they'd taken before filming, her thighs fitting snugly on top of the blonde's, the heat between the two of them unprecedented. Tilting her head slightly, as not to attract any attention from the people around her, she saw Heather's brow scrunched, though only just. A surge filled her, and she knew the same thoughts were bouncing within the blonde's head, and strangely enough, the sense of comfort that came with that knowledge didn't scare her. Blue eyes shifted and caught Naya's, and a weak smile was sent along with the electric eye contact before Heather returned her gaze to the screen in front of them. The brunette did the same, sinking backward into her chair, thankful for small favors – those favors being that they hadn't received as much airtime as Lea, who was now crying loudly, and Cory who was attempting to muffle his sniffling.
Kevin gripped her hand, but she didn't feel it. Her body was now running on autopilot, and she was incapable of doing much more than watching the scenes flickering across the screen in front of her, though she absorbed none of it. She was gearing her body up for the one thing she knew she wouldn't make it through without tears. She reached out blindly for Lea's hand to the left of her, intertwining their fingers and using the woman's warmth as the only anchor she could find in this tumultuous sea of frustration she was floating in, the waves frequently crashing down on her, threatening a drowning.
"You can do this Nay," she whispered when she leaned over, releasing her hand from Cory's and running her palm down her friend's goose bump ridden skin. Lea pressed a gentle kiss to the top of Naya's bicep, squeezing her fingers gently as the scene shifted once more.
It was as if she had fallen into an alternate universe, one where her words rang with just as much truth as they had weeks ago – one where reliving the moment hurt just as much as it had then.
Sophomore year, I used to sit in this back row and secretly watch you. I counted the number of times you smiled at me, and I'd die on days that you didn't.
Naya shivered, leaning further into Lea's embrace, while not allowing Kevin's fingers to slip from her own as a single tear dripped down her cheek. She thought back to over three years ago, when she'd first met Heather. I think God has laid a hand. She remembered the instantaneous pull in her chest, and how Brad had teased them into walking around with linked pinkies. She remembered the videos they'd made, when the blonde was rarely seen without a video camera, and the small touches when the cameras were rolling. She remembered taking naps on their favorite red couch, and the filming for Heather's Glee parody music video. She remembered the hundreds of pictures they'd taken, the thousands of laughs, and the innumerous small smiles they seemed incapable of holding back.
It's where we fell in love. When I could say things with music, when words just weren't enough.
She remembered how hard it had been to film Songbird that next year. She remembered the director getting frustrated with her and Heather both, because there weren't meant to be so many tears. She remembered Landslide, and the warmth of the blonde's arms around her afterward. She remembered the twinge in her gut and the jealousy channeled toward Kevin every time he and Heather would kiss on set. She remembered falling in love with her best friend, and having no idea what that meant for either of them. She remembered drunken dancing, and even more than that when she'd collapse into the blonde's bed at the end of the night. She remembered the teasing, the lingering touches, and the cheeky grins. It all came to her in flash floods, feeling as if these memories were taking years to unfold, but encompassing her in sheer seconds.
You know this isn't working. You know that I will always love you the most.
She remembered that night.
She watched above her as Heather's face crumpled on screen, and lifting a hand to her mouth, she realized tears had been pouring down her own face. Chancing a glance to her left, though Lea tried to stop her, she saw the blonde in a similar state. One last kiss, and a choked sob echoed through the room. Vanessa vainly attempted to catch Heather's arm as she ran out, but there was no way the dancer would allow herself to be pulled back into the fray.
Naya was on her own feet in moments, murmuring something about checking on her, though she didn't know for whose benefit. Her heels clicked against the floor as she rushed toward the door, allowing it to click shut behind her with no regard for interrupting the screening. She twisted left and then right, her ears attuned to Heather's whimpers, and suddenly surged forward, following the sounds of pounding feet and struggling breaths. She sprinted the last few yards, and the dancer twisted around, falling into Naya's arms. The petite brunette faltered for a second before gripping Heather with all that she had, running her fingers through the ends of her hair as she cooed into her ear, shushing her as they rocked slightly in the hallway.
"I'm sorry," she whispered. "It was just too much."
Naya fought the pain creeping into her chest, and nodded into the other woman's hair. "I know sweetie, I know." She pulled back slightly, taking in Heather's wild eyes, rimmed in red and still leaking moisture. She brushed her thumbs across high cheekbones, snaking underneath bright blue almonds to wipe away what she could of the tears before leaning forward and pressing a kiss to the corner of the blonde's mouth. It held desperation, longing, and pleas of platonic normalcy – a contradictory melding of the deepest desires coursing through them both.
Heather tilted forward once again, almost invisibly, before settling her weight fully onto Naya's lips and snaking her arms around the woman's thin waist. She felt the brunette ease into the kiss and a warm hand meander upward to cup her cheek. Her tongue worked of its own accord, and the pair found themselves in a smooth tango, not unlike their kisses weeks ago. It was as if nothing had changed, and yet they were both painfully aware of the impact those days of separation held.
Pulling away, Heather pressed her lips into Naya's forehead, a shy smile coloring her features when their eyes locked once more. "I know nothing has changed," she whispered. "I know that, and I know that right now, nothing can change." The brunette nodded, fighting a second round of tears from making an appearance. "But I want you to know that you really are the best thing that's ever been mine." Their limbs entangled once again, their bodies left without an inch of space between them. Over Naya's shoulder, they both heard the tell-tale signs of the others leaving the viewing room, and pulled apart quickly, hoping to avoid more questions, as their sudden exit would be sure to catalyze more than a few inquiries.
Before Lea could make her way over to the pair, still wiping at her tears with a tissue, Naya tapped Heather once on the nose, whispering, "And I will always love you the most."
AN: I said I would probably do one shots for you, and as promised, here is the first. I had spoken to someone about doing a one shot concerning The Break Up, and I'm hoping you all feel I did it some justice. Whenever there are moments such as this that I feel can be worked into one shots, I fully intend on doing so. Thanks, as always, for reading, and I hope you enjoyed it. :)