December 18th, 2016
When Camila wakes up, she looks at the date on her phone, and feels anxiety building up in her chest. She doesn’t know why, because this isn’t her world. She should be happy and excited, because if Lucy is right, she’ll be going to sleep tonight and waking up where she’s supposed to be.
So why does she feel so empty inside?
When a text from Lauren comes through, Camila smiles to herself. Maybe that’s why you feel weird, Camila. When you wake up, you won’t get random texts from Lauren.
Laur (12:34PM): Hopefully you’re awake by now, because I’m coming to your house. I need to drop your Christmas present off. And NO OPENING IT BEFORE THE 25TH OR I’LL FIGHT YOU.
Camz (12:34PM): yes i’m awake and i’ll open my presents when i want thanks
Camz (12:34PM): what are you the christmas police
Laur (12:35PM): Yeah, I am. And I’ll arrest you for being a Grinch if you open your present before the 25th.
Laur (12:35PM): Anyway, put on your best Christmas sweater and get those chestnuts roasting on an open fire or whatever. We’re having a Christmas movie day.
Camila smiles down at the message, because if this is her last day here, there would be nothing better than spending it with Lauren. Especially if a movie day is involved, because Lauren is a very cuddly person when she’s watching movies.
Camila gets out of bed and brushes her teeth, before jumping in the shower so she’s presentable for Lauren. She gets dressed, pulling on some skinny jeans and a Christmas sweater, before heading downstairs to get something to eat.
When the kitchen and the lounge are deserted, she figures her parents took Sofi out for last minute shopping, and left her to sleep. She appreciates that, because Camila hates the mall around Christmas time. It’s way too busy.
She makes herself some toast, and is in the middle of making hot chocolate for the both of them when there’s a knock on her door, and she smiles. She opens it up and pulls Lauren in for a tight hug, her heart hurting at the possibility that this will never happen again, that she’ll never open her door to Lauren stood there.
“Hey, Camz,” Lauren grins, stepping inside and looking over her sweater. “I’m glad you listened to my instructions and put a festive jumper on.”
“I was making us some hot chocolate,” Camila explains, “so go get comfy on the couch and I’ll bring it through.”
Lauren beams. “That’s why I like coming over here. I get waited on like the queen I am.”
Camila snorts. “Someone thinks a lot of herself.”
“Nothing wrong with loving yourself,” Lauren shrugs, digging into the backpack on her back and holding out a gift. “If you open this before the 25th, I’ll know. I’ll make Sofi be my informant and come over every day for updates.”
“Thanks, Laur,” Camila smiles and pulls her in for a hug. “I guess I’ll respect your wishes and keep it wrapped. Once I’ve made the hot chocolate I’ll run upstairs and get your present.”
“You have my word that it won’t be opened before Christmas.” Lauren promises, nodding towards the stairs. “Can I put my backpack up in your room?”
Camila frowns. “Just leave it by the door. Isn’t it empty after my present, anyway?”
“Oh, I didn’t tell you?” I’m sleeping over,” Lauren announces, and Camila laughs a little. She misses the days she and Lauren were so comfortable around one another that they could show up for impromptu sleepovers. “So I’ll go and put this upstairs while you finish making hot chocolate.”
Before Camila can reply, Lauren heads up the stairs, so she just smiles to herself and heads back into the kitchen, making the cocoa. She takes it out into the lounge, since nobody is home and they can use the big TV, and gets herself comfortable. Lauren sits down next to her and grabs her mug of cocoa, taking a sip.
“Do you like it?” Camila asks, suddenly rather nervous. “Sofi tells me I’m the best at making hot chocolate, so your approval would be great.”
“It’s good, Camz,” Lauren assures her, taking another sip before she sets it down on the coffee table. “Anyway. Christmas movies. What’s your favourite?”
“Home Alone,” Camila replies, “you?”
Lauren hums. “I don’t know.”
“Yeah, I love I Don’t Know,” Camila retorts, and Lauren laughs, “screw Home Alone, I don’t know is my favourite now.”
“Camz,” Lauren gives her a gentle shove, “don’t be mean to me. Now I’m not staying. Bye.”
“I mean, I didn’t invite you, anyway,” Camila argues as Lauren dramatically gets off the couch and shoots her a glare as she heads for the door. “So, you leaving isn’t really a punishment.”
Lauren pauses halfway out the door and seems to consider this, before letting out a loud psh and turning back around, flopping down on the couch. “I’m staying and forcing you to cuddle me. Suck on that.”
Camila doesn’t comment as Lauren curls up next to her, resting her head on Camila’s shoulder. Lauren’s arms wrap around her waist, and the younger Latina starts playing with Lauren’s hair. Camila lets out a sigh of content and closes her eyes, her heart aching at the thought of going back.
I’ll never get this again, Camila thinks to herself, Lauren and I will never do this again. If anything, that makes her heart hurt more, and her grip on Lauren tightens a little, as if the older girl is slowly fading away.
“You still have your Wii?”
Lauren’s question takes Camila off guard, and she opens her eyes to zero in on the gaming console by the television. “Oh, yeah. I don’t really play on it though.”
Lauren grins and sits up, and Camila already misses how it felt to have Lauren pressed up against her. “Alright. Mario Kart rematch. Get ready to be destroyed, Camz.”
Camila can’t hide her smile. “Fine. I’ll get it set up.”
When Camila gets up and leans over the Wii, switching it on along with the TV and grabbing two controllers, she doesn’t notice the way Lauren’s gaze lingers on her ass for a little longer than it should.
“Were you mad at me?”
Again, Lauren’s question takes her off guard, so Camila frowns as she makes her way back over to the couch and gives Lauren a controller. “When? And probably not, no.”
“Earlier this week,” Lauren clarifies, “you avoided me pretty much all day on Monday. So I was wondering if you were mad at me. Because you seemed pretty annoyed when I told you I had a date with Brad.”
Camila’s breath catches in her throat, and her heart stops in her chest. Busted. But, instead of freaking out, she decides to play it cool. “I wasn’t mad. I just had a lot of work to do that day. But I guess you’re right in a way. I didn’t like that you went out with Brad.”
Lauren hums. “Why?”
“He just isn’t good enough for you,” Camila says, and it’s part of the truth. “Besides, he seemed like a fuckboy.”
Lauren snorts. “He was. It’s not like it was a huge deal, but it kind of helped, in a way. I realised that going out on some lame date with someone I don’t have a connection with isn’t for me. I want to connect with a person. You know?”
Camila bites down on her bottom lip, nodding. She thinks back to when Lauren had told her that she felt a weird connection to Camila, like they were supposed to be friends. Maybe Camila can make her see they’re supposed to be more.
“I feel that,” Camila finally answers, “but that connection is rare. And sometimes you can’t tell if it’s platonic or romantic.”
Lauren hums. “Yeah. Anyway, before we start, can I make a Mii? We can play Wii Sports after. But I’ll have you know, I’m an actual professional at the bowling.”
Camila clicks on the Mii creator and gives Lauren the player one controller. “Here. You have full creative control.”
Lauren smiles and starts creating a new Mii, at first trying to make Camila laugh by making herself as ugly as possible, but then by actually creating herself. Once she finishes, she passes the controller back to Camila. “Nice. Now I’m officially your best friend.”
“Cut to Dinah, jumping through the window to fight you on that.” Camila jokes, and Lauren laughs, but the younger Latina is hit with a sudden wave of sadness. When – if – she wakes up tomorrow, she won’t have Dinah again. She’ll have lost her rock for a second time.
“Alright, fine, I’m one of your best friends. Is that fair?” Lauren corrects herself, and Camila forces a smile. Lauren seems to pick up on this once she turns around from selecting her character – her own Mii – from the available options. “You know you can talk to me about anything, right?”
If anything, that just makes Camila sadder, because it’s been a long time since that was true for her. “Yeah, I know.”
“Come on,” Lauren nudges against her, “perk up. It’s the most wonderful time of the year. And the best person on the planet is gracing you with her presence right now.”
Finally, Camila laughs a little, and Lauren smiles victoriously. “Thanks for gracing me with your presence, Laur.”
“No problem, I love charity work,” Lauren teases her, and Camila gives her a light shove. “Hey, careful, I bruise easily.”
“Alright, sorry,” Camila says, finally picking her character – Yoshi – and going to select her kart. “I’ll get you back in another way; by kicking your ass at Mario Kart.”
“In your dreams,” Lauren scoffs, but her expression softens and she squeezes Camila’s hand. “Seriously, Camz… are you okay? Is it… is it that girl you told me about a while ago?”
“What girl?” Camila blurts out without realising, and then she remembers she’d effectively told Lauren about her alternate self without naming any names. Because while Lauren is the thing on her mind, it’s not that Lauren, it’s this one. “Oh! Yeah, no, it’s not her. That’s… communication has been cut off since September. I… I have feelings for someone else now.”
She says it like that because it’s effectively the only way to voice it. Even though they look the same, and sound the same, and smell the same, and feel the same, this Lauren and the one she left behind are a lot different. Camila doesn’t know why, but there have been times when she feels like she’s closer to this Lauren than she ever was to Fifth Harmony Lauren.
Maybe it was the fame. She knows that the other Lauren had to adapt a lot to being a public figure, and there’s nothing about being famous that wouldn’t change a person, whether it be in a positive, negative or completely neutral way. This Lauren is seventeen and she knows who she is, and what she wants in life. Fifth Harmony Lauren, however, was a different story. The one word Camila would use to describe that Lauren at seventeen was confused. And while this Lauren and the other one are the same in a lot of ways, they have their differences, too.
They’re different people, is what Camila had argued to Lucy, when Lucy had been avoiding this Lauren for something the other one had done. So, the only way she can really put it is having feelings for someone else. Because this Lauren is someone else.
She’d always thought that Fifth Harmony Lauren was her Lauren, and that this one was just the closest thing she could get. But now, she’s not so sure.
Maybe this Lauren is her Lauren.
“Oh, little Camzi has a crush?” Lauren smirks, but Camila swears she can see some other emotion concealed in Lauren’s emerald eyes. “On a girl, I’m guessing?”
“Yeah,” Camila replies, looking through the races and deciding to start off with a classic; Coconut Mall. “And before you turn into Dinah and Ally and start pushing me for answers, I’m not telling you who she is. Dinah knows, but only because she guessed.”
“Guess I’m going to head to the store after this and get some hot Cheetos to bribe Dinah with, then,” Lauren tells her, smirking. “That’ll suck for you; first you’ll get your ass kicked, and then Dinah will tell me your deep, dark secret crush.”
Camila rolls her eyes. “Shut up and get ready to lose, Jauregui.”
“Damn, that’s fighting talk, Cabello,” Lauren replies, turning to the screen and readying her controller. “I beat you once, I’m not afraid to do it again.”
As the race starts, Camila smiles. “Don’t you think it’s funny how our entire friendship is essentially stemmed from playing Mario Kart at your party?”
“Actually,” Lauren corrects her, “it’s founded on your litter sister having more game than you.”
“I thought you didn’t like me, okay? It’s not my fault you were all sullen and unapproachable.” Camila scoffs, and bashes into Lauren’s character out of spite. “Anyway, picking your Mii? Boring.”
“Hey, my Mii is new, I’m introducing her to the world of gaming,” Lauren defends herself, “and I was hardly unapproachable if a six-year-old could invite me to lunch without any kind of worry. Meanwhile you were shaking in the corner like a scared puppy because you were intimidated by my sheer awesomeness.”
“Who the fuck says awesome anymore,” Camila retorts, rolling her eyes, “like, 2008 wants its vocabulary back.”
Lauren laughs, and Camila smiles to herself, proud she could make that happen. “Alright, cool it on the sass. It’s supposed to be a festive, happy time.”
“You ruined any happy time when you suggested this rematch,” Camila replies, “I’m out for blood.”
Lauren hums. “Funny, coming from the girl who’s about to be in second place.”
Camila frowns, but when the annoying fucking blue shell comes and blows her up, she growls in frustration, seeing Lauren’s Mii drive past her at top speed. “Fucking hell. There’s nothing worse than the blue shell. And it’s always some annoying ass computer kart from the back that sends it, but it’s not like it’ll benefit them.”
“Sure benefitted me,” Lauren smirks as she passes the finish line, “when I was younger and I played the DS version with Mani, any time I was in first and I saw on the item thing that someone had got a blue shell, I let Mani pass, so it’d lock in on her and she’d get hit. Either way, I’d still win. But because this game doesn’t show you other players’ items, that strategy is dead.”
Camila scowls at the television when she finishes in second place, and she finds herself seriously rethinking her crush when she sees Lauren’s name at the top of the scoreboard. “Whatever, Jauregui. There’s still three races left. Plenty of time for me to crush you.”
But, Camila speaks too soon, because three races later, Lauren is smirking at her as her character stands on the first place podium, while Camila had come second. She’d managed to beat Lauren in the last race, but the first three were a complete flop. She puts two of those losses down to the blue shells, and claims that the game is rigged.
Lauren just laughs. “Or I’m better than you. Could be that.”
“I don’t know about that, but I do know that you’re a jerk.” Camila sends Lauren a sickly sweet smile and puts her controller down. “Christmas movies or Wii Sports?”
“Wii Sports,” Lauren replies, smiling, “I feel like I’m on a winning streak right now.”
Camila rolls her eyes, but gets up and changes the game discs. “You know, one time I played boxing on the Wii, and my arms were aching for days after. It was actually kind of depressing how much of a physical toll it took on me.”
Lauren laughs. “I used to do my fitness age, and if it brought up a task I sucked at, like golf or whatever, my age would end up being like, fifty or something.”
“My age was always over fifty regardless,” Camila replies, “my athleticism really isn’t something to brag about.”
Lauren hums, her eyes raking over Camila as the younger Latina sits back down. “So you’re not athletic and you don’t work out, but you still have that body? That’s just not fair.”
Camila’s stomach flutters at Lauren’s words. Is she flirting? She tries her best to play it cool. “I mean, if we’re talking about nice bodies… go look in a mirror.”
“Oh, this old thing?” Lauren looks down at herself and sends Camila a grin. “Thanks, Camz.”
“No need to thank me, I’m just stating facts,” Camila shrugs, smiling at Lauren. “Little Laur needs to know she’s cute.”
Camila swears Lauren blushes. “I’m not little, I’m older than you. I can call you little, but you can’t do that to me. Respect your elders, Camila.”
“Eight months,” Camila reiterates for what feels like the millionth time. “You’re eight months older than me. But I guess everyone always sees me as the dorky little sister type.”
Lauren murmurs something, but Camila doesn’t catch it. Before she can ask Lauren to repeat herself, the older Latina just smiles. “Dorky, for sure. And definitely goofy. But not, like the weird kind. You know, the cutesy kind of goofy.”
Camila remembers those same words, said in a different time, in a different context, but weirdly, they mean more here. “Thanks for calling me cute. Not to sound like Dinah, but I know I am.”
Lauren doesn’t reply, and when Camila turns to look at her, she meets Lauren’s gaze. Lauren has a soft, almost dreamy smile on her face, and she’s watching Camila, looking completely content. For a moment, Camila’s heart soars, and the smile gives her hope, but then reality hits her.
I’m going back. I’m going to wake up tomorrow, and Lauren will hate me again. The other girls will too.
Camila tries to push that thought from her mind, but it keeps creeping up on her. I’ll never have Lauren Jauregui. I’ll never be the one she’ll be out and proud with. I’ll never be the one she loves.
“I mean, you’re not wrong,” Lauren answers after what feels like a lifetime, and for a moment, Camila thought she’d spoken aloud. But when Lauren elaborates, she relaxes a little. “You are cute.”
Camila swallows the lump in her throat, because Lauren seems a lot closer than she was before. “I am?”
“Mhm,” Lauren murmurs, and Camila swears her gaze flicks down to her lips, before green locks with brown once more. “You are.”
Camila isn’t sure if this is entirely real, because it seems like Lauren is starting to lean in, and Camila isn’t exactly going to stop her. When she feels Lauren’s hand on her thigh, she almost jumps, but instead, she takes it as a positive sign and starts to lean in as well. They’re just inches apart, and Camila feels like maybe today wasn’t a negative omen after all, when the front door opens and Sinu calls out, “mija? Are you awake?”
Camila almost groans in annoyance as she moves away from Lauren, but she reigns it in. She looks anywhere but the older girl and calls out to her mom. “Yeah, I’m in the lounge.”
When Sofi walks in and spots Lauren on the couch, Camila knows that any chance they’d have to actually talk about how they were about to fucking kiss is ruined. From her experience, Lauren won’t bring it up, and if Lauren didn’t bring it up, then Camila didn’t either.
“Are you guys playing bowling?” Sofi looks at the TV, and then back at Camila. “Can I play?”
Lauren answers for her. “Of course you can play. Go grab a controller.”
Sofi gets the last controller from the drawer and sits down as Lauren works on connecting it. Camila, feeling a little upset that all of her last chances are being ruined, excuses herself to the bathroom to breathe. When she locks herself in, she sinks down against the wall and sighs.
Talk about bad timing.
Lauren closes her eyes, comforted by the gentle rise and fall of Camila’s chest. The way she’s sat, she can hear Camila’s heartbeat, and when she’d first cuddled up to her, it was practically pounding in the other girl’s chest, but her heart rate had slowly gone back to normal.
Even though they’re both keeping up the pretence that nothing happened earlier, Lauren knows that there’s some residual tension. She knows she shouldn’t have tried anything, and she doesn’t know what had come over her. All she remembers thinking was how beautiful Camila had looked, and suddenly she was leaning in, like she was being possessed by something.
But after they’d been interrupted, and she’d had time to think about it, she’s kind of glad that nothing happened. Not ten minutes before, Camila had told her that she has feelings for someone, someone that probably isn’t her. Lauren feels like she knows Camila pretty well, and she’s pretty sure that Camila’s crush is someone she gets nervous around, and Lauren likes to think Camila is comfortable around her.
Kissing her would’ve made things awkward, Lauren decides. It would’ve messed with their friendship, and Lauren doesn’t want that. She’s never felt so comfortable around a new person since she’d met Normani back in kindergarten, and she doesn’t want to jeopardise this, especially not if Camila is already crushing on someone else.
And it’s not like Lauren has a crush on Camila, anyway. Sure, she’s beautiful, and funny, and smart, and Lauren does have a connection with her. But it’s not a crush, because Camila is her friend.
Camila lets out a small sigh, and Lauren feels the vibrations of the younger girls’ chest against her as she speaks. “Not to be a drag, but this movie is boring.”
Lauren opens her eyes again and looks up at Camila. “Why do you think I was falling asleep?”
“I did suggest Home Alone 2, but someone vetoed that,” Camila looks down at Lauren pointedly. “Picking a movie neither of us has seen is always a dangerous move in case it sucks.”
“Sometimes it’s good if a movie sucks. Like, it’s so bad that it’s funny,” Lauren says, sitting up and immediately missing Camila’s warmth. “There have been times when Mani and I look up an infamously bad horror movie and spend the whole night mocking it.”
“I thought we had to be festive today,” Camila comments, “you know, since it’s the holiday season and all.”
Lauren laughs. “Yeah, we do. And we’ve watched one Christmas movie, so I’d say we’re good in that department. Anyway, we have more pressing matters at hand.”
Camila raises her eyebrows, but Lauren senses a little panic. “We do?”
“Yes,” Lauren nods, “did you get a place on the Universal trip?”
“Oh,” Camila laughs, a relieved smile on her face, “yeah, I did. It’s actually the week after my birthday, which is pretty cool.”
Lauren frowns. “You’ve never told me your birthday. Camila, I’m offended. It’s like you don’t want presents.”
“You don’t have to get me anything,” Camila rolls her eyes, “but it’s March 3rd. And yours is June 27th.”
Lauren blinks in surprise, because she’s never told Camila that. “How do you know that? I’ve never mentioned it.”
“I guess you could say I’m kind of psychic,” Camila smiles knowingly, but laughs at Lauren’s confused expression. “Kidding. It’s on your Twitter profile, dumbass.”
“Oh,” Lauren laughs, “yeah. That’s true. For a minute, I thought you were some stalker. Not that I’d blame you, I am pretty amazing.”
“Pretty egotistical, too,” Camila comments, before her smile softens and Lauren’s stomach flips. The first thought through Lauren’s head is fuck, she’s beautiful, and the second one is but that doesn’t mean anything. “You know, and also just pretty.”
Lauren feels butterflies, but does her best to shrug them off. She knows this isn’t real flirting; she jokingly flirts with people like Mani all the time. Just because both Lauren and Camila like girls, doesn’t mean it’s anything more than a joke.
“You know you’re absolutely drop dead gorgeous, Camz,” Lauren replies, resting her head back on Camila’s shoulder. “And the best cuddler I’ve ever met.”
“You know, when you slept over here for the first time, literally five minutes after you fell asleep, you rolled over and started cuddling me.” Camila teases her. “It was honestly kind of adorable.”
“What can I say, I’m a big cuddler.” Lauren shrugs, rolling over on Camila’s bed and grabbing Nala from her overnight bag. “That’s why I need this baby when I’m at home. I need something to cuddle.”
“I’m totally telling everyone in school that the supposedly badass and super cool Lauren Jauregui needs a stuffed lion to sleep.” Camila laughs. “Then I’ll be the cool one in this friendship.”
Lauren snorts. “I’m not ashamed of mine and Nala’s intimate relationship. I’ll tell everyone myself. It’ll be my second coming out.”
Camila laughs, and Lauren smiles at the sound. “Damn, and here I thought you’d deny it.”
“It doesn’t make me any less cool,” Lauren shrugs, “I have nothing to worry about.”
“So, uh, what’re your plans for after Christmas?” Camila asks after a few moments of comfortable silence. “Going to a New Year’s party?”
“Not sure yet,” Lauren replies. She’d been considering going to a party with Normani, but hadn’t decided if she’s up for it. “What about you?”
Camila’s mood drops instantly, and Lauren squeezes her hand comfortingly. She doesn’t know why this happens sometimes; she’ll say something completely mundane, and suddenly Camila will get upset.
Before Lauren can ask her if she’s okay, Camila speaks. “I don’t know. I’ll probably just sit in my room and write emo lyrics.”
“Then it’s settled,” Lauren decides. “I’ll have the house to myself on New Year’s Eve, since my parents have an annual thing they do with their friends, and my siblings will be with their friends too. So you’re coming over, and we’re going to get drunk and see the New Year in together. Okay?”
If anything, that makes Camila even sadder, and her forced smile makes Lauren’s heart sink. That’s when she realises why Camila is so upset; she wants her New Year’s kiss to be with the girl she’s crushing on. Even if she hangs out with Lauren, she won’t get that.
“I’d love to-” Camila starts, but before she can finish, Lauren interrupts.
“Or we could go to a party with Mani.” Lauren suggests; even though she prefers her earlier idea, if it’ll make Camila happy, she’ll take her to a party. Maybe it’ll give her the chance to kiss the girl she likes at midnight. “It’s up to you.”
Finally, Camila laughs. “You know I don’t like parties, Laur. I’d love to come to yours and hang out.”
Lauren cracks a smile, and her heart soars. “Nice. I’ll get us a decent alcohol supply. But are you going to tell me why you were so sad?”
“I just… feel really weird today. Like…” Camila sighs, “like it’s my last day on Earth.”
Lauren frowns, because she doesn’t exactly know how to comfort Camila when it’s something like that. “I mean… when I went through a rough time, when I was figuring myself out and everything, I guess sometimes I felt like that. Like there wasn’t a point in doing anything. So I made plans with Mani and… and Lucy. You know, to have something to look forward to when things were bleak.”
But making plans is the problem, Camila thinks, because I’m not going to be here to do them. I’m going to be somewhere you hate me. “I guess. Thanks, Lauren.”
Lauren smiles, giving Camila a comforting squeeze. “I’m always going to be here to impart wisdom on Camzi.”
Camila laughs. “Stop acting like you’re so much older than me. I get it, I’m like a little baby sister to you.”
Lauren looks Camila over with a smile. Definitely not with some of the thoughts I’ve been having lately. Admittedly, when she first met Camila, she did see her like that. But she hasn’t thought that way for a while.
“I guess we will be the same age soon,” Lauren replies, “looks like you’re elderly, too.”
Camila just smiles and wraps her arms around Lauren’s waist. “Shut up and watch this dumb movie with me. Maybe it’ll get better as it progresses.”
It definitely doesn’t. When Sinu comes in to tell them to turn it down, Camila and Lauren are passed out in each other’s arms, the movie still playing in the background.
December 19th, 2016
Sunlight from the open curtains wakes Camila up. She blinks, squinting, quickly rolling over and hiding her face in her pillow. Judging by how groggy she is, it’s way too early for her to be awake. She enjoys the few moments of blissful ignorance that comes with just waking up, when her heart drops.
She fell asleep.
She sits bolt upright, but she doesn’t even have to check her phone to know what’s happened. The bed next to her is cold, and Lauren is nowhere to be seen. Inexplicably, her eyes start to well with tears, and her heart feels empty. She’s back. She’s back in a world where Lauren hates her, where the girls hate her.
She has her career back, at least. That’s one thing she doesn’t have to worry about. She gets to do the thing she loves, and even though she’s in the exact same position she was before, somehow it hurts so much more.
She rolls over to pick up her phone, not sure what she’s even going to do once she gets it, but lands on something soft. She frowns, wiping the tears from her eyes, and puts her hand under the sheets to grab the item.
Camila’s eyes widen as she looks at the stuffed animal in shock, and she jumps up from her bed, flinging the bathroom door open, not caring if Lauren is stark naked in there, and just hoping that she’s there. But when she opens the door, the bathroom is empty, and Camila’s heart sinks. She cuddles the stuffed lion to her chest, burying her face in Lauren’s comforting scent, wondering if this is all she has left of the older girl.
She shuts the bathroom door with a sigh and squeezes Nala tightly, before putting the lion down on her bed. She opens the bedroom door this time, and listens for any sign of anyone awake in the house, but she’s met with silence.
With a sigh, she goes downstairs and into the kitchen, her eyes widening so much they nearly pop out of her skull when she sees Lauren Jauregui, sat at the kitchen table, sipping on a mug of tea.
Lauren looks up and smiles at her. “Hey, Camz. Sorry, I woke up a little while ago and couldn’t get back to sleep, so I figured I’d come and make a hot drink and see if that’d help. I didn’t think you’d- whoa!”
Lauren cuts herself off as Camila practically jumps on her and pulls her in for a hug. She blinks in surprise, but her arms wrap around Camila and give her a gentle squeeze, and the younger Latina can’t quite believe she’s still here.
“I thought you’d gone,” Camila murmurs, burying her face into Lauren’s neck. “I thought…”
I thought I’d lost you, Camila finishes in her head, I thought you hated me again.
“Sorry. I didn’t know that’d freak you out.” Lauren replies, pulling away a little to smile at her. “You know I wouldn’t just sneak out and ditch you, right?”
“Yeah, yeah,” Camila nods, breathing a sigh of relief, “I know. I was just worried.”
That little part of her, the part that wants her career more than anything is yelling at her, saying what the fuck Camila, don’t you want to be back where you belong? But Camila isn’t thinking about that right now. The only thing she’s thinking about is how Lauren is here, and she doesn’t hate her. They’re friends and everything is okay.
Yeah, except you’re stuck in an alternate universe. That isn’t okay, her brain rationalises, you can’t let a crush get in the way of your dreams, idiot.
But it’s not a crush. Camila knows it’s not a crush. There’s much history and emotion between her and Lauren for it to be anything less than love.
“Come on,” Lauren says, draining her mug and standing up. “Let’s go back to bed. It’s way too early for me to function properly.”
Camila nods, following Lauren back upstairs and clambering into bed next to the older girl. She practically wraps herself around Lauren, not wanting to let go for fear of her disappearing.
Lauren doesn’t seem to find her too clingy. Instead, she laughs and puts an arm around her. “Alright, I guess I can be the big spoon for once. Sleep well, Camz.”
Camila doesn’t go back to sleep. She’s not sure if she’s just so happy that she can’t sleep, or she doesn’t dare go back to sleep, in fear of being sent back to where she’s supposed to be. Either way, for the moment, she decides not to dwell on it, and save her confusion for the next time she meets up with Lucy.
For now, she’s perfectly content to lay here with Lauren while she sleeps.