have you no idea that you're in deep? / i've dreamt about you nearly every night this week / how many secrets can you keep? / 'cause there's this tune i found / that makes me think of you somehow / and i play it on repeat / until I fall asleep / spilling drinks on my settee / (do I wanna know?)/ if this feeling flows both ways? / (sad to see you go) / was sorta hoping that you’d stay / (baby, we both know) / that the nights were mainly made / for saying things that you can’t say tomorrow day [do i wanna know? - arctic monkeys]
It started out innocent enough. Emily got a text from Stacie asking if she wanted to go to the gym with her. There was nothing that suggested this would lead to anything other than two friends working out together.
And, sure, why not? Emily and Stacie had been hanging out a lot lately, going out to lunches or the movies, so Emily was happy to find another reason to see her.
Stacie greets Emily with homemade smoothies and a huge grin on her face, which Emily returns cheerfully. They head off to the gym together, as Emily relays Stacie stories about how being captain of the new Bellas is going.
“So,” Stacie huffs out as they’re cooling down. “You get any action lately?”
Emily shakes her head. “If you’re asking what I think you’re asking, then no.”
“Are you for real?”
“I thought you and Benji had a thing going.”
“We did, but it didn’t really go anywhere,” Emily shrugs. “It’s not a big deal.”
“Well, I’m sorry it didn’t work out. Everyone deserves a little stress relief,” Stacie winks. Emily just pushes Stacie gently, but she silently agrees. She’s basically running the Bellas on her own as of now, as well as taking classes and trying to fit in some songwriting. A little distraction would be welcomed.
“Are you busy? We can go back to my place and get sushi,” Stacie offers before Emily starts to part ways with her.
“Sure. Except I kind of wanted to shower first.”
“You can shower at my place, if you want.”
Emily agrees, and they walk back to Stacie’s apartment. Stacie’s stayed close to Barden, and it’s part of the reason her and Emily have stayed in close contact. It’s easy for Emily to drop in if she wants Stacie’s advice on an essay, or if Stacie wants to watch a movie.
Emily stretches her arms over her head as she flops down on Stacie’s couch. She lets Stacie use the shower first, considering it is hers after all. She catches Stacie watching her out of the corner of her eye. “What?”
“Nothing. You’re just really hot,” Stacie says casually.
“I’m all sweaty.”
“Yet, still hot. I’m just saying, Benji’s missing out,” Stacie says over her shoulder with a wink as she leaves to shower.
Emily chooses to ignore the blush creeping up her face and the butterflies dancing in her stomach. It’s just Stacie, they’ve been friends for years, and it’s not unusual at all for her to compliment Emily. But the way Stacie was staring at her, eyes darting from Emily’s exposed muscles to her face made Emily think that this comment was not as innocent as the others.
Emily busies herself by reading the magazines that are strewn on the coffee table. It’s a mix of celebrity gossip, science articles, and Emily’s pretty sure there’s an entire book of Sudoku puzzles under Stacie’s laptop. She’s in the middle of reading a psychology article when she feels a towel hit her face. She sputters and yanks it off, hearing Stacie laugh.
When Emily takes the towel off, she has to try not to stare. Stacie is in just her underwear and a Bellas t-shirt that is a little too short for Stacie, exposing the slope of skin that trails down to the pair of dark blue underwear that puts thoughts in Emily’s mind that she’s quickly shoving away. Stacie doesn’t comment on Emily’s flushed face, she just tells her the shower is free, and she can borrow clothes for now if she wants.
Emily stands under the cold water until she feels like she’s cleansed the inappropriate thoughts about her best friend out of her mind. She digs through her own bag until she finds a pair of boxers, but there aren’t any clean shirts so she opens Stacie’s closet, deciding on a Barden University sweatshirt. She pads back into the living room and joins Stacie on the couch again.
“You look good in my sweatshirt, Em.”
“Thanks! I hope you don’t mind me borrowing it. It’s really comfy, plus it smells like your perfume.”
“No problem, I offered. Never took you for a boxer gal, though.”
“Hey, no complaining here. It’s a look.”
They talk while they wait for their food to arrive, but there’s tension in the air that Emily is trying her best to rationalize or ignore. There are little things about their interactions that are different tonight. The way that Emily’s eyes linger on exposed skin when Stacie stretches and her shirt lifts up or the way that Stacie stares when Emily licks her fingers after dripping soy sauce down them or the way that they sometimes stop talking altogether and just watch each other carefully, like they’re both wondering if they’re thinking the same thing, and if they should make a move.
And Emily doesn’t even know who made the actual first move. Maybe it was Stacie, she’s the one who started the conversation.
“So, you haven’t been seeing anyone since you and Benji stopped talking?”
“No,” Emily shrugs. “I haven’t found anyone I’ve been really interested in, you know? I’ve been on a few first dates here and there, but that’s all they were. First dates.”
“But you want some sort of relationship.” It comes out as more of a statement than a question. Like Stacie’s diagnosing Emily or something.
“It’d be nice.” Emily plays with the edge of the blanket that they’re sharing. The ends are frayed from the many times she’s sat in this same position talking with Stacie and played with the fabric. “To have some sort of distraction, y’know?”
“Have you considered something more casual?”
Emily looks up and meets Stacie’s eyes. “Casual?”
“You know, like a friends with benefits deal,” Stacie explains. “You get stress release, without having to worry about compatibility or commitment or any of that jazz. It’s always worked for me. If you were up to it, I definitely would be first in line.”
“Jesus, Emily,” Stacie laughs. “You’re adorable, but so oblivious. An oblivious dork with a killer bod.” Emily breaks eye contact, and Stacie can see her blush. “But if you don’t want to, that’s fine. I’m not gonna like, pressure you or anything. I’m just saying, I’d be down.”
A million outcomes are running through Emily’s mind, but none of them are very clear. Maybe she wouldn’t have done it if she had paused to think more. She likes to think she would’ve made a more rational choice, one that weighed the cons a little further. But part of her knows that she had wanted this for awhile, even if it was only on a subconscious level. Part of her knows no matter how many chances she had to stop, to not go through with it, she still would have dived in head first.
“So, it’d just be sex.”
“Along with our best friend hang outs, yeah. Just think of it like another bonding activity. Like the gym. It even burns calories.” Emily giggles. “It’s just sex. No mushy feelings attached.”
“Just sex,” Emily repeats.
It was Stacie who proposed the idea, but it was Emily who leaned in first, eyes searching Stacie’s for any kind of hesitation. Stacie nodded, but let Emily kiss her first. She wanted to be sure Emily wanted this.
Emily does. Emily wants Stacie. Possibly more than she realized when she leaned in for that first kiss.
There was no looking back.
The sound of the mattress squeaking makes Stacie open her eyes, following the source of the sound. “Going so soon?”
“No, I’m just getting water. Do you want a glass?”
Stacie shakes her head, and Emily starts to walk out of the bedroom, but she realizes that she’s naked and grabs a blanket off of the bed to cover herself with before walking into the kitchen. Her body is still humming, and every brush of the blanket against her body reminds her of Stacie’s mouth pressed against that same spot no more than twenty minutes ago.
She returns to the bedroom with two glasses of water (because if she didn’t bring Stacie one, Stacie would end up drinking half of Emily’s glass even though she claimed to not be thirsty). Stacie thanks her and sits up against the headboard, patting the spot next to her and inviting Emily to join her again on the bed. Emily happily settles back into her spot, wrapping the blanket tight around her.
“So, we should probably talk about this.”
“What do we need to talk about?”
“Just setting some rules,” Stacie says. “For the benefit of both of us.”
“First rule is that we’ll still be best friends, nothing about our friendship should have to change.” Emily smiles and nods. Stacie seems a little relieved at Emily’s encouragement, so she continues. “Second rule is that if either of us wants to pursue another relationship, we’d probably have to stop. Or at least talk about it if some other arrangement comes up.”
“That seems reasonable.”
“Last rule is that we have to be open with each other about how we feel. Both during sex - which I don’t think will be a problem - and otherwise. If one of us starts catching feelings, we should stop. Just, trust me on this one. It gets too messy otherwise.”
The room is silent for a moment while both of them think about this last rule. Emily thinks it won’t be a problem. Stacie and she have always had a close platonic relationship, and she doesn’t think anything would change that. Sure, Stacie was intelligent and funny and confident and beautiful, but that doesn’t mean Emily’s going to fall in love with her the second they start getting intimate.
“Is there a contract I need to sign?”
Stacie laughs, sudden and bright and it rings in Emily’s ears. “No, a verbal agreement will suffice.”
“Alright.” Emily raises her right hand. “I, Emily Junk, agree to the listed terms and conditions.”
“Shut up, you dork,” Stacie grins. “Just don’t go falling in love with me, Em.”
“That rule goes for you too, Stace.”
Emily can’t help but stare at how absolutely radiant Stacie looks right now. Her hair is a mess and she’s makeup free and looks like she’s going to fall asleep soon, but Stacie is still the most beautiful person Emily’s ever seen.
Emily should have known right then that she was doomed.
It’s been approximately three hours since Emily sat down to try to write this paper. Her hand is cramped, the words on the screen don’t look real anymore, and she still has four and a half pages left to write.
The Bellas house is just too damn loud. The new Bellas (Emily doesn’t think she’ll ever call them otherwise) are all singing songs from High School Musical at the top of their lungs. Usually, Emily would go downstairs and join them in a round of What I’ve Been Looking For, complete with choreography. But this paper has to be written, and Emily has to get away from the noise. She texts the first person she thinks of and immediately packs up her laptop and books and starts walking over.
Stacie greets her at the door. “What’s up, buttercup?”
“Dying,” Emily deadpans. She knows she must look like a mess. Her hair is falling out of the bun she put it up in and she didn’t even bother to change out of her old t-shirt and sweatpants before coming over. Plus, there’s a cramp in her neck that won’t go away from being hunched over her laptop for so long.
“Should I speak at your funeral?”
“Shut up.” Emily can’t help but smile a little bit. Stacie gives her a look that says ‘gotcha to smile’. “Thanks for letting me come over. The new Bellas are just way too loud, and this paper isn’t going to write itself.”
“Do what you need to do. I’ll proofread, if you want.”
Stacie lets Emily sit at the desk in her bedroom, and even brings her a drink and a snack. Emily hardly notices Stacie enter the room again, because she’s so focused on this paper, and she’s so close to finishing. Suddenly, Emily feels lips pressing against her neck. She starts to protest, but her words fall short when teeth bite gently against her pulse point.
“Take a break,” Stacie whispers against her ear, nipping gently as her hand creeps down Emily’s body, groping her breast greedily.
“But I’m so close.”
“That’s what she said.” Stacie smirks, sliding her hand under Emily’s shirt so she can properly trace her hand over her skin, fingers edging under Emily’s bra. Emily feels heat building up in her body, and for a split second she thinks about giving in. But, her paper.
“I just have to finish this last page, Stacie,” Emily says, trying not to reveal how ragged her breathing is right now.
“Okay,” Stacie pulls away and Emily already misses her touch. “As soon as you finish, I’ll make you feel good.”
Emily barely holds back a whine. “Now I’m just going to be thinking about that. Why would you say that?”
It turns out that it’s exactly the motivation Emily needs. She pushes through the uncomfortable hint of arousal that’s settled in her center and buckles down and focuses on writing the last page of her paper. As she hits the last punctuation mark, she throws her hand up in victory and spins around in the chair to face Stacie’s bed. “Done!”
“Proud of you.” Stacie glances up from her phone. Emily starts tugging her shirt off and moves onto the bed, straddling Stacie’s thighs. “Actually, I think I’m gonna take a nap now. You took too long.”
Stacie smirks and kisses the pout off of Emily’s face. Her hands run up Emily’s torso, unhooking her bra swiftly and tossing it aside. “I’m teasing. You’re too easy.”
Emily scrunches up her nose at Stacie, but she doesn’t get to complain because Stacie is licking up Emily’s body, circling her nipple with just the tip of her tongue, enjoying the way that it stiffens. Emily arches her back, reaching up and tangling her hand into Stacie’s hair. She tugs Stacie upwards, in desperate need of having her mouth against her own.
In the middle of heated kisses, Stacie works her hand down between their bodies, sliding it into the front of Emily’s sweatpants. She’s surprised at exactly how wet Emily is, her fingers are soaked instantly, and she’s only barely run them through Emily’s folds.
“God, Em. You’re so wet,” Stacie mumbles against Emily’s lips. Emily smirks against them.
“I was thinking about this the whole time I was working.” Emily rocks her hips against Stacie’s hand, causing her to moan against Stacie’s mouth. “I just kept thinking about how much I needed you inside of me.”
“Shit, Emily,” Stacie breathes out.
She pushes two fingers into Emily easily, and Emily doesn’t stop rocking her hips. The motion causes Stacie’s fingers to hit just right inside of her, and the pressure builds steadily inside of her. Emily tries to work her hands under Stacie’s shirt, but the position is too cramped and Stacie just pushes her hands away. “Not now. Just you.”
Emily nods. Stacie adds a third finger and lets her thumb rub against Emily’s clit. The added stimulation is enough so that it only takes a few more thrusts of both Stacie’s fingers and Emily’s hips to cause Emily’s body to stiffen, and a long moan to escape her mouth. She feels Stacie’s hand run over her stomach while her body twitches with her climax. “God, that’s hot.”
Emily slumps against Stacie’s body, letting her head fall on her shoulder. She presses a few kisses there. “Thank you.”
“You don’t have to thank me, you know.”
“I know, but you’re really good at that. It deserves thanks.” Stacie chuckles, but it’s quickly replaced with a squeal when Emily pushes her back, pinning her to the mattress. “Now, let me give you a proper thank you.”
It’s totally not weird that Emily spends more of her time at Stacie’s place than at her own. After all, they’re best friends. Who are sleeping together. And they used to be roommates, so it’s not weird for Emily to sleep over after they fool around.
It’s not weird for her to wake up and help Stacie make breakfast or for them to hang out more and more together or for Emily to offer to bring Stacie homemade cupcakes when she’s on her period (do most people hang out with their friend with benefits when they’re on their period? Emily wonders about that.)
And it’s definitely not weird for Emily to feel more at home in Stacie’s apartment than she does anywhere else.
It’s not weird. But it’s dangerous. And Emily knows it. She sees the signs, the warning telling her that she’s too comfortable, too attached, too settled in this routine.
Emily sees the signs and keeps walking.
“Are you a parking ticket? Because you’ve got fine written all over you.”
“You must be a broom, because you swept me off my feet.”
“Is it hot in here or is it just you?”
“If you’re trying to get in my pants, you’re going to have to do better than that.”
“Are you a mirror?” Emily voice drops an octave. “Because I can see myself inside of you.”
“...Okay, fine, you win.”
“So, Em. I have a question.”
“You caught me, I stole the last of your ice cream.”
“Alright,” Stacie narrows her eyes. “We’ll discuss that later. What I was going to ask was if you have any sex fantasies.” Emily practically spits out her drink, but she manages to choke it down. “Is that a no?”
“No! I mean yes? No? I mean...you just caught me off guard.” Emily chews on her lip. “I actually kind of do have something.”
“Are you serious? Spill, babe!” Stacie’s excitement is palpable. It’s like someone just told her she won the lottery.
Emily feels a little awkward with Stacie staring at her so eagerly. Her whole body feels warm and she can’t quite get the words out. “Okay, if you won’t say it, just text it to me.” Emily nods and pulls out her phone, typing as fast as her fingers will go (Stacie knows how fast that is).
Stacie’s phone buzzes with the notification. Emily thought she was excited before, but when she reads the text, Stacie’s practically sprinting to the bedroom, dragging Emily along behind her.
Once Stacie finds what she’s been fumbling around her closet for and both of them have shed their clothes, Stacie sits back against the headboard of her bed. “You know, I bought this a while ago, but I haven’t gotten to use it.”
Emily doesn’t respond, because she’s focused on the strap-on harnessed snug against Stacie’s hips. It looks strange there, like a funny pink alien has made its home between Stacie’s legs. But Stacie starts applying lube to the dildo, stroking her hand over it and Emily’s mouth goes dry. She leans forward and places her hand over Stacie’s. Stacie lifts an eyebrow. “Can I?”
Stacie doesn’t respond, just moves her hand away and lets Emily stroke her. The sight really shouldn’t be as erotic as it is, but Emily is licking her lips and staring up at her so intensely that the dildo might as well be real, because arousal settles between Stacie’s legs just the same.
Emily moves to straddle Stacie’s hips, hovering just over the toy. “Are you ready?” Stacie asks. Emily just takes Stacie’s hand and brings it to her center, which is already dripping. “Holy shit. Yeah, okay you’re ready.”
The only sound in the room as Emily guides the strap-on into her is a sharp gasp, followed by a small moan from Emily. Stacie is speechless as she grips Emily’s hips and helps guide her down onto the toy. Emily feels Stacie’s nails dig into her and it only furthers her pleasure. She sinks further down slowly, feeling Stacie fill her until her center is flush against Stacie’s hips. Stacie gasps slightly. “Fuck, Emily.”
They pause for a moment so Emily can have a moment to catch her breath. When Emily starts moving, Stacie can barely register what’s happening. She’s so caught up in the way Emily’s body moves so perfectly and how her stomach is flexing so her abs are even more defined. Stacie runs her hands over them on her trail to reach up and grasp Emily’s boobs. Emily moans at both the feeling of Stacie’s fingers toying with her nipples and at the feeling of the strap-on pushing in and out of her.
“Jesus Christ, Emily. You look so fucking hot like this.”
The sight of Stacie watching her like she’s the only thing in the world, eyes filled with lust, makes Emily move faster. She adjusts a little so that the angle allows friction against her most sensitive spot, and she can’t help but cry out “holy fuck, Stacie” when Stacie starts meeting her with thrusts of her own. Stacie’s hands grab her ass, making sure that Emily doesn’t stop moving with her. Her mouth is warm and electrifying against Emily’s skin, leaving everything from the softest kiss to hickies that will last for days.
When Emily feels Stacie’s hand move from her ass to her clit, teasing it carefully between her fingers, Emily’s head drops against Stacie’s shoulder, absolutely overwhelmed with the stimulation. Emily can’t focus on anything but riding Stacie until she can’t walk properly the next morning. Stacie says a lot of things to her while Emily is on top of her, but all of her words are drowned out by Emily’s moans and whines and exclamations.
When Emily comes hard with a shaky moan, it’s overwhelming and leaves her slumping against Stacie’s body from exhaustion (she doesn’t even bother moving off of the toy, she thinks Stacie must have moved from inside of her at some point). She hears Stacie mumble “you’re so beautiful” against her hairline.
The words make Emily’s heart swell, and if she weren’t so exhausted, she would have sat up and given Stacie kisses all over her face. But she can’t move. So Stacie just shifts so that Emily is lying more comfortably on top of her, with her head against her chest, and lets her falls asleep to the soundtrack of Stacie’s heartbeat.
Emily lets Stacie choose what sex fantasy they try out next.
Sometimes they don’t even have sex when they hang out. There have been numerous occasions where Stacie asks Emily to come over to “bang one out”, but they end up getting hungry and ordering food or getting distracted by whatever show they’re watching.
They usually end up cuddling on the couch, wrapped up in the blanket that Emily loves to play with the frayed edges of.
Except lately, Emily plays with Stacie’s hands instead. She intertwines their fingers together, she traces the length of them carefully, she gives her gentle kisses on them. Stacie always laughs when Emily does this. Stacie likes to play with Emily’s hair during these moments. Especially the shorter hairs on the back of Emily’s neck. Stacie runs her fingers gently through them, and Emily always leans into the touch.
Theses moments between them make Emily forget that they’re not dating. Sometimes Emily slips up and almost calls Stacie her girlfriend or almost drops an “I love you” when Stacie gives her a playful kiss on the nose.
Emily’s walked this far, seen every sign that she should turn back. Now she’s teetering on the edge of a cliff, and one wrong move is all it will take for her to fall.
Emily’s breath is hot against Stacie’s thighs, warming up the area more than it already is. Stacie giggles lightly when Emily’s hands glide across the underside of her thighs.
“Stop, Emily! You know that tickles!”
“Oh, really? I had no idea.” Emily grins mischievously, repeating the motion and making Stacie laugh again. Her body jerks away from Emily to get away from the tickling, but Emily quickly pulls her back. “Don’t run away from me!”
“Then stop tickling me and just eat me out!”
They were already close before they started sleeping together, so it doesn’t feel that much different. They’re a little more physically affectionate, but other than that, everything feels so normal to Emily.
Not just normal, but right.
Like she was always supposed to surprise Stacie with her favorite meal for her birthday. Or wake up to find Stacie watching her sleep with a soft gaze that makes her heart jump. Or hold hands when they walk to the gym together, talking as casually as they did before this all started.
So maybe that’s why Emily didn’t realize right away that she had feelings. Everything already felt right between them. Everything was already perfect.
Once she realized she had feelings, realizes she broke a rule, she knew she should tell Stacie. But why? Why ruin something so perfect?
So Emily didn’t say anything. She didn’t push them aside though. She always expressed how much Stacie meant to her and never shied away from affection. Emily didn’t hold back her love for Stacie.
But Emily has to remind herself that they’re not dating. None of this should be romantic. This isn’t how this was supposed to play out.
She doesn’t know what she was hoping for. Maybe just the possibility that this could continue forever, they’d never have to discuss it. The mere thought of having to stop sleeping together or stop waking up beside each other or stop casually holding hands and giving each other kisses when they when shopping at 3am makes Emily’s gut twist. It was perfect. She doesn’t want to ruin it by bringing her feelings into it.
But perfect things don’t last, no matter how hard you try.
When Stacie starts hanging out with her less, Emily doesn’t think anything of it at first. But then Stacie doesn’t respond to a picture that Emily sent her that was anything but safe for work, and Emily starts to think something’s wrong. Stacie gives her a weak excuse about getting caught up at work. Emily gives her the benefit of the doubt this time.
And the next time. Plus the time after that.
Because they’re not dating, so Emily shouldn’t be clingy.
It’s been at least two weeks since Emily has seen Stacie at all, not to mention in the bedroom (or couch or kitchen counter or shower). Something’s very off, and normally Emily would give Stacie another chance to respond, give her a moment to breathe and sort out whatever needs to be sorted out. But their situation has gone past normal, and Emily needs some sort of answer.
Her body aches without Stacie, and not just because of the lack of sex. It aches because she misses the way Stacie laughs at her corny jokes or plays with her hair or how she grins when Emily presses a kiss onto her forehead.
Before she knows it, she’s knocking on Stacie’s door. Stacie silently opens the door, looks Emily up and down, and lets her in. “What are you doing here? You usually text.”
“I miss you.” Emily can’t stop herself from saying it. It tumbles out of her before she even has a chance to think about how she shouldn’t miss Stacie this much.
Because they’re not dating. No matter how much it feels like it.
But she misses her with her entire being, and it’s killing her. And that’s the moment everything collapses, the moment Emily made the wrong move and tripped up, finally falling to her demise.
“I think we need to stop,” Stacie says gravely after a minute.
“Stop what?” Emily knows exactly what.
“You know what.”
“Stacie, I don’t understand.” Emily understands.
“I can’t - I just - think you broke a rule,” Stacie’s voice is hoarse. It almost sounds like she’s been crying. The rims of her eyes look tinged with red as well. Emily wonders if she was crying over her, but she thinks better of it. Stacie’s not the one who’s been worrying what she did wrong, Emily is. Stacie hasn’t done anything wrong, she didn’t break a rule.
They’re not dating. Stacie has no reason to cry over her.
“You have feelings.”
“That’s not true.”
“Isn’t it though?”
God, it’s true. It’s truer than the fact that Emily’s favorite food is cereal and it’s truer than the fact that Stacie wanted to be a ballerina when she was little. Nothing could be truer than Emily’s feelings for Stacie.
“You don’t have to answer,” Stacie says. “Besides, I’ve been seeing other people.”
This hits Emily hard. She wasn’t prepared for this, she wasn’t prepared for her world to come crashing down around her. “What do you mean, you’ve been seeing other people?”
“We’re not dating, Emily! I just assumed - ”
“I thought you said that one of the rules was that if one of us is interested in a relationship with someone else, that we would talk it out.”
“I meant like, a real relationship.”
“So, none of this was real to you?” Emily wants to sound stronger, angrier, more bitter. But her voice breaks, and there are tears in her eyes that she can barely hold back for much longer, and she just sounds and feels like she’s been punched in the stomach.
“That’s not what I meant,” Stacie reaches up to touch Emily’s face. A soft gesture that Emily wants to lean into desperately. She wants to tell Stacie that everything is okay, and that they can move on from this. She wants to say “ Stacie, I think we misunderstood each other. It sucks and it kind of hurts, but I think we can fix it.”
The only thing that Emily can say is, “I think it is.”
Stacie’s face falls, like she knows there’s no coming back from this. “Emily, please. This is why I wanted to stop all of this. I didn’t want anyone to get hurt. I’m sorry if I’m a little too late, but please don’t leave.”
Emily’s heart aches, her whole chest feels like it’s going to explode. It hurts to leave. Hell, it feels like someone reached into her chest, ripped out her heart and stomped on it. Every part of her is screaming at her not to leave. But she knows that it will hurt more if she stays.
Emily leaves without another word.
It shouldn’t hurt this much.
Because they were never dating. None of this was real.
If none of it was real, then why does it feel like a breakup? Why does it feel like the world just collapsed around her? Why does it feel like she’s underwater and gasping for air? Why does it feel like she’s been thrown off a cliff and shattered into a million pieces as she hit rock bottom?
Why did it feel so real?
Everything feels numb. Emily’s body runs on autopilot. She tries everything, throwing herself into her studies or into the Bellas. But all she can think about doing is running back to Stacie’s, crying and saying how much she misses her. She can’t do that though. She can’t look back. Even if they start talking again, it wouldn’t be enough. Emily doesn’t think she can just be friends with Stacie after all of that. Her heart is stuck. An immovable object.
She can’t even get excited over the Bellas winning Nationals. Because the only thing on her mind when they win is I can’t wait to tell Stacie.
Except they haven’t talked since Emily walked out. Stacie will find out about the win one way or another. Maybe she’ll even text her to congratulate her.
The text never comes.
Emily stops waiting for them.
Chloe always insists on having lunch with Emily at least once every couple of months. She’s been supportive through this whole debacle. Emily found that Chloe was the only one she felt like she could confide in with this. So she did. She spilled everything to Chloe, sobbing over the phone one night. Chloe was a soothing presence, assuring Emily that sometimes things don’t work out right away.
Sometimes, Emily gets a little irritated because Chloe is just too good with people. It feels like Chloe understands the whole situation more than Emily does. Emily wants to be able to be mad at Stacie, but as Chloe pointed out to her, they were never exclusive. Emily admits that she’s right. It doesn’t make it hurt any less, but now Emily can’t even bring herself to blame Stacie. She pushes all of the blame on herself for falling in love.
“It’s been a month, Emily.”
“You should try to move on. Maybe then you and Stacie can be friends again,” Chloe proposes the idea for what must be the fiftieth time.
Except, that’s not what Emily wants. Somehow Emily thinks it would hurt more to go back to being just friends with Stacie. All it would take is a friendly hug to set Emily’s entire body on fire, leave it craving Stacie and how they would sleep tangled up in each other. Except there would be no relief, and Emily would just burn. And she can’t put herself through that again.
“Well, have you been seeing anyone else since Stacie?”
“Maybe you should think about it. It might be healthiest to move on.”
“I don’t want to move on,” Emily’s voice is breaking and she’s crying again. She’s so fucking tired of crying all the time. It never takes much to send Emily into a breakdown lately. Anything that reminds Emily of Stacie makes her chest tighten and she feels like she can’t breathe and all she can do is let the sadness overtake her rather than constrict her any further. “I don’t want to move on,” Emily repeats. “I miss her, Chloe. I miss her so fucking much.”
The Bellas house is empty. All of the new Bellas went to a frat party, but Emily stayed behind. She could barely stand being around normal people, there was no way she could handle a frat party right now.
Emily is sitting at the counter, alone, eating cereal in silence. Chloe told her that she needed to stop listening to sad music. So Emily chooses silence. Silence is Emily’s best friend lately. There’s enough noise going on in her head.
There’s a knock on the door, which startles Emily because she’s not expecting anyone, and nobody else is home. She slides off of the stool and drags her feet to the front door. Realistically, she probably should have checked to see who it was, she could have easily been murdered or kidnapped or roped into talking about Jesus for an hour.
But she doesn’t check, she just opens the door, and when she sees who it is, she almost breaks down again. She doesn’t though. She just silently opens the door further and lets Stacie inside.
Neither of them have said anything yet, but Emily hasn’t cried since Stacie walked in, so that’s promising. Emily walks back to the kitchen to put her dishes away. Stacie follows close behind. Emily notices how tired Stacie looks. She wonders if she looks just as tired, because Stacie looks how Emily has felt for months.
“I’m sorry.” It’s a whisper that Emily barely hears. She honestly thinks she’s imagining things at first, but when she looks at Stacie, it’s clear that she did say it. “I’m so sorry, Emily.”
Stacie doesn’t cry. Emily’s never seen her cry in the few years that she’s known her. Stacie’s always been the one that other people go to when they’re crying, and she helps them by distracting them with a joke or a story until they can’t think about how sad they are because they’re laughing. But right now, Stacie has tears streaming down her face that Emily wants to wipe away because someone as wonderful as Stacie shouldn’t have to cry. But Emily is frozen, unsure of what to say or do.
“Emily, I lied to you.”
The statement breaks Emily out of her trance.
“I lied to you. About why I wanted us to stop sleeping together,” Stacie’s voice is unsure, and Stacie is never unsure. Emily knows that Stacie does everything with confidence, even if she’s wrong. Emily’s never seen Stacie like this, and it’s causing her stomach to churn because she wants to hold Stacie and ease whatever pain she has. “I said that I wanted us to stop because you had feelings. That was wrong.”
“It wasn’t. I did,” Emily hesitates. Thinks about saying I still do. But she can’t bring herself to yet.
“I know,” Stacie smiles weakly. “I know that now. I didn’t at the time.”
“Then why - ”
“I had feelings,” Stacie says. Emily’s mind and heart are both racing now, and her stomach is doing so many flips that she thinks she might throw up. She grips the counter that’s separating the pair and tries to ground herself. “I still do. I don’t know if you still feel the same, and I wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. But I can’t lie to myself anymore. That’s why I slept with other people. I thought maybe I could try to distract myself from my feelings, try to make me be able to be unattached again. Do you know how many times I’ve slept with friends and haven’t gotten feelings? Like, an insane amount of times. But you came around and just completely fucked up that track record.”
Stacie manages to laugh a little, but Emily thinks that it sounds more sad than amused. Emily finally finds her voice, even though her mouth has gone dry. “So what does this mean for us?”
“I don’t know,” Stacie admits. Her eyes search Emily’s desperately. “That depends on how you feel. All I know is that I miss you, Emily. Not just as a friend. I miss waking up in the morning and laughing at your bedhead. I miss you singing the jingle from the sour cream commercial and getting it stuck in my head. I miss making fun of your bad pick up lines and kissing you when you have a decent one. I just miss you like hell.”
Stacie starts to say something else, but she finally breaks down. She’s trying to wipe away the tears, but they just keep coming. Emily can’t take it any longer. She rushes to Stacie’s side, wrapping her arms around her. And even though she’s holding her best friend turned lover turned nothing turned whatever comes next while she sobs, everything feels right again. Stacie relaxes into her and Emily can finally hear what she was trying to say.
“I love you,” Stacie repeats the words over and over until they almost don’t sound real. “I love you, I love you, I love you.”
Emily wants to tell Stacie how much she loves her too, but Stacie’s still crying and Emily doesn’t think she can really understand her right now. The only thing she can think to do to calm Stacie down is start singing.
The sun is shining on me like it should
Don’t know what tomorrow’s gonna bring
But whatever it is, I’m gonna sing
Oh my, what a wonderful feeling
Oh I gotta be dreaming
Feels so good, all I can do is smile
Feels so good, all I can do is smile
As soon as Emily finishes, she feels Stacie let out a shaky, deep breath, like she’s been holding it for months. Maybe she has. Emily pulls away from Stacie so she can see her properly. Her eyes are still a little teary, but she’s smiling at Emily, and nothing in the universe could be more beautiful.
“I love you, Stacie.”
“I know,” Stacie says. Emily laughs and it feels right again, because the crying, insecure Stacie has gone. Emily’s Stacie is back.
They don’t say much more as they lay together in Emily’s bed that night. They don’t need to though, they’ve said everything they’ve needed to. The only thing they need right now is to hold each other and never let go.
“I actually have something else I need to talk to you about,” Stacie speaks up suddenly. Emily can hear the fear in her voice again. “When I slept with other people…”
“That’s okay, Stacie. I understand, and I forgive you.”
“No, that’s not - thank you. But it’s something else.” Emily’s eyebrows furrow in a question. “I’m pregnant, Emily.”
“Oh. Oh my stars.”
“Yeah. I think I want to keep it.”
“Well, that’s great Stacie,” Emily smiles.
“You’re cool with it?”
“It’s nothing we can’t handle. We made it this far, didn’t we? What’s one more curveball?” Stacie smiles and kisses Emily’s jaw happily. Emily speaks again before she can continue. “Just one question.”
“I’m not the father, am I?” Emily can’t keep the stupid grin off of her face.
“You’re ridiculous,” Stacie hits Emily with a pillow.
“You love it.”
“Yes. I love you and your dumb jokes.”
Emily kisses Stacie, and it reminds her of their first kiss. It’s gentle and hesitant, but it’s also different. The first kiss was like that because they were both terrified of messing something up, terrified it would all go wrong. This kiss is like that because it all went completely wrong and then completely right again and they have all the time in the world to be passionate and heated again.
But right now, they both need soft touches. Stacie’s hand tangling in Emily’s hair and Emily’s hand lacing with Stacie’s and squeezing, silently asking her not to let go, to stay with her as long as possible. Stacie squeezes her hand back and tells Emily she’s not going anywhere.