Title: Fall Into My Arms (part 2/2)
Pairing(s): Ziam, Larry
Warning(s): genderswap, femmeslash
Disclaimer: I cannot and do not own/know/associate with/stalk the real people mentioned herein. The following is a work of fiction. No money was made in its creation.
Summary: Leah's a musical arts student who has got it bad for the gorgeous scenester she's only ever seen a picture of on the university radio's website.
Author's Note: a fill for this prompt from the 1D kink meme.
"I'm starting to get nervous about finals," Zaynah says between bites of her salad on Wednesday.
"Yeah, next week," Leah says with a grimace.
"Do you think..." Zaynah trails off, looking down. "Do you think that maybe we could study together? I just -- You take really good notes in class..."
"Absolutely," Leah says quickly, mostly because she genuinely wants to but also to get rid of the uncertain look on Zaynah's face. "We could even start this weekend, if you want."
Zaynah makes a face. "Studying on the weekend? We'd have to plan something fun too for me to look forward to."
"Oh, and studying with me isn't something to look forward to?" Leah teases, not expecting Zaynah to blush like she does.
"Yeah, alright," Zaynah concedes.
"We could do something after, though, too. Something fun."
"Okay," Zaynah says, before glancing at her phone. "Since we're talking about studying, I'd better not ditch my next class."
"Well, why don't you give me your phone number, and we can plan our study session later?" Leah says, and she wants to high-five herself for how logical and smooth she sounds.
"Oh, yeah," Zaynah says, and waits for Leah to get her phone out, before adding her number to it. Then she calls herself so that she has Leah's number too.
"Cool," Zaynah says, getting up from the table. Leah stands too, and the next thing she knows, Zaynah is leaning in for what appears to be a good-bye hug.
"See you," she manages to get out, once the smell of Zaynah's beautiful hair is no longer directly under her nose.
"Bye," Zaynah says, with a wave and a smile.
That night when Lucy calls her 'Leah No-Game,' she brandishes her phone in triumph and makes sure she gets a good look at the winky face Zaynah had sent her five minutes after they had parted. Harrie keels over from second-hand happiness.
- - -
Friday morning, Leah goes as far as to book a study room in the main library, so that she and Zaynah don't have to worry about making too much noise. She feels a little weird booking it without Zaynah knowing that she's planning to have a study session on Friday afternoon, but 1: last minute study room cancellations are what make this campus go around, and 2: a Friday afternoon study session with Zaynah will beat anything else she has done on a Friday since she started uni. If she says yes. Leah is like 85% sure she will.
"So I was thinking," Leah says as soon as she sits down next to Zaynah in class. "Maybe, but only if you want to, we could start studying this afternoon, after your airtime. There's a really great study room on the fifth floor of the main library that we could use, and I could run to the UC after class and grab some snacks, and we could kind of just plan out what we know and what we need to know and just go from there, what do you think?"
Zaynah has this sort of shocked grin on her face after Leah finally stops talking, probably because Leah's voice had been steadily rising in pitch throughout that entire run-on sentence. She can feel her cheeks burning.
"Okay, but only because you sound so excited about it," Zaynah laughs, her eyes literally shining back at Leah.
It makes the embarrassment worth it.
An hour and a half later, Leah is trying to just listen to Zaynah's playlist via her ipod, but she can't stop over-thinking what will happen half an hour from now.
She surveys the table again. She has snacks, carbonated waters, notebooks, pens galore, and the view over campus is amazing from the wall-sized window in the study room. Unfortunately, she finished setting everything up too soon, and now she's just nervous.
She considers texting Zaynah, but she doesn't know if they're at that point in their friendship yet, the random text phase. Instead, she takes to drumming her pens on the table to the rhythm of whatever song Zaynah is playing.
Half an hour later, Zaynah is sarcastically dedicating her last song to "Catty Perry" for getting this song stuck in her head.
Leah wonders if Zaynah will wait for her last song to be done before finishing, or if she will leave right away, if she has maybe already grabbed her things and is running towards the library...
Leah laughs at herself, but her smile vanishes when her phone buzzes and Zaynah's text of 'omw ;)' pops up on the screen. Leah spends the next five minutes bouncing her knee up and down, alternating between sitting on her hands and fixing her hair.
A gentle knock on the door startles her, before Zaynah pokes her head inside the room.
"Wow," she says, closing the door behind her. "Your directions here were amazing. I didn't get lost once."
"Good," Leah says, returning Zaynah's smile. "I'm glad."
Zaynah puts her bag down on the other side of the table and surveys the room.
"Man, if I prepared for all of my study sessions this well, I would probably study more."
"Well, I didn't want you to hate studying with me, so..."
Zaynah takes a seat across from Leah and crosses her arms on the table top. She smiles gently at Leah and says, "I wouldn't have hated it, even if it was just you and me and our books."
Leah laughs, her eyes darting down and then back up to Zaynah's. "Shall we?" she asks, gesturing to her open notebook.
"Yeah," Zaynah agrees, pulling her own out of her bag.
They start by comparing the syllabus and the study guide to determine the most important chapters and articles of the readings they've been given so far. Leah is delighted to discover that they work well together: companionable, but efficient. They compare notes, and between the two of them, they have a pretty comprehensive set of information.
They're in the middle of highlighting all the important terms in their notes when Leah gets a text from Harrie.
we'r at uni pub. u should b 2.
Leah looks the time and is about to text back that it's only seven o'clock, but then she realizes that means she and Zaynah have been studying for almost four hours.
"It's seven o'clock," she tells Zaynah instead.
"What? No way," Zaynah says, dropping her highlighter to grab her phone. "Damn. I'm pretty sure this is the longest I've ever studied for. I should study with you all the time."
Leah returns Zaynah's grin and says, "My friends want me to go to the university pub. Do you maybe want to go?"
"Can I invite Nia?" Zaynah asks.
"Yeah, if you think she'll want to come."
Zaynah laughs. "It's a pub. She'll come."
Fifteen minutes later, Leah and Zaynah walk into the campus pub, which is already pretty full. Leah looks towards where she and her friends usually sit. They're there, of course, at their usual table, and Leah takes a deep breath for what is possibly about to happen next.
"Hey guys," she says over the din of music and conversation.
"Leah!" Luce crows. Her face is terrifying with the pure mischievous delight covering it. "Who is this stunning beauty you've brought with you, and is she single?"
Harrie giggles from where she is perched half on top of Lucy's lap.
Zaynah reaches out her hand, which Harrie shakes and Lucy kisses. "I'm Zaynah and yes, I am single."
The way her eyes dart to Leah for a second ratchets Leah's heart rate up several beats.
"We've heard so much about you, Zaynah," Harrie says, a teasing tilt to her lips.
"Really?" Zaynah says, looking at Leah properly this time.
"Well, I don't usually make many friends in class, so I guess--"
"Bullshit," Luce coughs into her hand.
"--that's why I talked about you. So much."
Zaynah's eyebrow ticks up, but she's smiling until her head snaps down to pull her phone out of her pocket. She turns around and looks toward the door for a second before raising her arm and waving someone over.
"Damn," Harrie says as Nia walks up. She kind of looks like she just walked out of an advert for Polo and then put a trucker hat on backwards. (Later, Leah will realize that the front of her hat reads 'Pussies: the Breakfast of Champions'.)
"Hi, everyone," Nia says, with a nod, making eye-contact with everyone around the table.
"This is my roommate Nia," Zayn introduces.
Harrie leans forward and gracefully extends her hand to Nia. "Harrie," she says, in her 'sexy voice' as Lucy likes to call it.
"I'm Luce," Luce says, not offering her hand. By the way she's staring, Leah is worried that she's sizing Nia up.
Things are awkward -- the kind of awkward that always make Leah want to laugh -- for several seconds until the one of the bartenders shows up with a tray of drinks. She sets it down and moves two glasses to their table before glancing up at Nia from beneath her eyelashes.
"This one is from one of the girls at the back table over there and this one is from me." She practically purrs the last part to Nia, who smiles down at her in return.
"Thanks, Elle," Nia says, brushing her fingers down Elle's arm. "I'll call you later, yeah?"
"Yeah," Elle breathes before picking up her tray of drinks and walking away.
When Nia turns back to the table, Harrie is laughing at the expression on Luce's face, which is one of pure awe.
"I've been trying to sleep with her for the past semester!" Luce exclaims, not bothering to lower her voice even though Elle hasn't gone far. "You are my hero."
Nia laughs and says, "Thanks," like it might be a question.
"Come. Sit," Luce demands. "Teach me your secrets."
As Nia finds an extra chair, Zaynah's knee bumps into Leah's. She leans close and says, "Well, it looks like they're not going to kill each other," under her breath.
"Yeah," Leah says back, eyes involuntarily flicking down to Zaynah's lips, which are particularly close right now. "Guess we just have to watch out for signs of an orgy."
Zaynah laughs and leans the tiniest bit closer before shifting away.
Leah lets out a shuddery breath and looks up to see Harrie watching her with knowing eyes. Leah flashes her a weak smile, to which Harrie winks back.
She watches the others interact for awhile, and it almost seems too perfect: the banter between Luce and Nia, the way Harrie and Zaynah huddle together over Harrie's iphone to look at Harrie's favorite website for shoes, how comfortable everyone seems... it almost feels like maybe they were all meant to be here, together.
It's a foreign thought, because Leah has never had a family outside of her actual family, but she wonders if maybe this is the start of that. She hopes so, anyway.
That night, after Lucy had finally let Nia and Zaynah go back to their own apartment ("Come home with us," she had pleaded, hanging off of Nia and pawing at Zaynah. "Come home with us and never ever leave."), Leah is almost asleep when she gets a text from Zaynah that reads, love ur friends. we should do that again :) xx.
Leah turns her face into her pillow to hide the ridiculous grin that has suddenly appeared.
absolutely :), she types back eventually, but she hesitates before pressing send. want 2 study again mon? she adds before sending it off.
yea ;) she gets back, almost immediately, and Leah falls asleep with a smile on her face.
- - -
They study for their music comp. final again on Monday, but their room is taken on Wednesday, so they find an empty couch down on the first level and decide to do some readings for their other classes instead.
Zaynah pulls out her ipod, kicks off her sandals and turns to prop her feet up on the couch next to Leah. Leah glances at Zaynah's legs out of the corner of her eye and quickly looks away when the intense urge to run her palm up one smooth calf comes over her.
She focuses on a monstrous reading for her world music class that she's been putting off and manages to distract herself for a good half hour until she feels Zaynah's toes press against her thigh. Her eyes stop tracking across the page, and her heart jumps up into her throat.
Carefully, slowly, Leah looks down at Zaynah's toes, then her feet, then up her perfect, tanned legs. She's entirely aware that if Zaynah is watching her right now, it's going to be pretty obvious that Leah is checking her out, but that doesn't stop her from glancing up to where Zaynah is reclining against the side of the couch.
Leah's breath rushes out in relief, because Zaynah, it turns out, is asleep. Her head is resting against the back of the couch, and her face is relaxed in a way that makes her look... well, perfect. Leah stares because she can, until she starts to feel a bit like a creeper. There is, however, no going back to her reading now that she knows the picture that Zaynah makes sitting next to her.
Gently, she wraps a hand around one of Zaynah's ankles, and it does the trick of waking Zaynah up, but it also does the trick of tempting Leah to smooth her hand up and up. Instead, Leah swipes her thumb over the bone of Zaynah's ankle and removes her hand.
"Sorry," Zaynah says, around a yawn after pulling her headphones off.
"S'okay," Leah says with a smile. "Tired?"
Zaynah laughs a little and says, "Always."
Leah looks down at her books and then back up at Zaynah. "Want to grab some coffee?"
Zaynah's bottom lip slips under her teeth as she smiles at Leah and nods. Leah knows, in that moment, that no amount of studying could ever be worth a smile like that.
They spend three hours at the on-campus Starbucks, talking and laughing and, Leah's pretty sure, flirting. She hasn't really tried to flirt with anyone in years, but she remembers what it feels like to be so into someone else that all you want is to see them smile at you. And with the amount of smiling Zaynah's been doing, Leah's pretty sure there's something between them.
When Harrie texts her at 7 to say dinner's ready, if she wants to eat with them, Zaynah says she should probably be heading back to her apartment too.
"Hey," Leah says, because even though both of them have agreed that they need to go, neither has made any move to leave. "So I'm gonna be pretty busy next week, with finals and everything, but since we'll both be done by Friday morning, do you maybe want to go see a movie or something?"
"To, like, celebrate finals being over?" Zaynah asks.
"Yeah," Leah says, gathering her courage, "but also maybe as, like... a date?"
Zaynah's smile is so sudden and so brilliant that Leah almost doesn't even have to hear her say yes.
"Yeah, yes," Zaynah says, and hearing her agree is almost as sweet.
"Okay," Leah breathes, her own smile splitting her face. "Okay, great. Thanks."
Zaynah laughs. "Thank you."
Leah can't help but grin back.
"So I'll see you on Friday, and then next Friday we will go on our date."
"Sounds like a plan."
They sit there, staring at each other for several moments before Leah's phone goes off again.
"I'll see you."
They stand and this time when Zaynah moves in for a hug, Leah meets her halfway. It's a quick and gentle hug, more of an 'I'll see you soon' than a 'goodbye' hug, but Leah imagines that she can still feel the press of Zaynah's fingertips to her ribs long after she has left Leah's sight.
- - -
Finals week is always, understandably, awful. This finals week is particularly awful, though, because Leah can barely focus on her studies without remembering that she's got a date with Zaynah. And when she remembers that, she not only immediately loses her place in her readings, but she is also viscously attacked by butterflies, in both the stomach and heart regions.
It gets worse as the week goes on and she completes each of her finals until at last, at last, it's Friday morning and her hand is killing her from writing for two and a half hours straight, but she's finished.
She closes her blue book to keep from going over her essay answers yet again and glances around the lecture hall. It's practically empty, by now. Her back and shoulders protest as she stands, but it feels good to stretch and walk down to the professor's desk to turn in her final.
Outside, everything seems brighter and fresher, and she knows it's because she was sitting in a cramped desk in a dim hall for almost three hours, but still. She takes a deep breath, closes her eyes and feels a smile drift onto her face. This is the moment she has been spending the last four weeks waiting for.
She glances at her watch, sees that she has half an hour before she has to meet Zaynah at the movie theater downtown, and promptly takes off at a run.
Zaynah is waiting for her at the theater, two tickets in her hand and a giant smile on her face.
"We did it!" she shouts as Leah pulls her into a hug and swings her around.
"Thank god it's over," Leah agrees, beaming back at Zaynah.
"You ready for this?"
And Leah can't help but say, "I was born ready," and grab Zaynah's hand to pull her into the theater.
They find great seats right in the middle of the theater, and Zaynah promptly folds herself up in her seat, turns to face Leah and begins the tale of Zaynah versus Finals Week.
Leah is trying to pay attention to her words because Zaynah has this way of storytelling that is so dry and witty and under enthusiastic that it just cracks Leah up, but the way her legs are folded up means her already short shorts are riding so high on her thighs that it's impossible for Leah not to be distracted. Because, fuck, Zaynah's legs are to die for. Leah pretty much just wants to wrap them around her waist and never leave.
When the movie finally starts, Zaynah shifts to face the screen but also kind of leans against Leah's shoulder. Leah debates for a whole minute before slowly, casually inching her hand over to brush against Zaynah's on the arm rest. Immediately, Zaynah turns her hand over and interlaces their fingers.
Later, Leah won't be able to remember what happened in the movie, even under pain of death.
"Ugh," Zaynah says as soon as the lights come back on. "I could not get that article about music in media out of my head during the entire movie. College is ruining my life."
Leah laughs. "What ever are you going to do?"
"Soldier on, I suppose. I can't exactly drop out."
"Well, you could," Leah says, ever the responsible one.
Zaynah just looks at her, gently biting at her lower lip. "Nah," she says, and Leah swears she sees her eyes dart down to Leah's lips.
They chat casually as they walk back to campus, and not once do their fingers disentangle.
Outside the multimedia building, Zaynah stops and turns to face Leah.
"Since this is our last day on-air, there's gonna be an end-of-term party tonight. Do you think you and Harrie and Luce would want to come?"
"Yeah," Leah says so quickly that it's mildly embarrassing. "Sure."
"Okay, cool," Zaynah says, before she pulls her lower lip underneath her teeth.
Leah recognizes the moment when the content buzzing that's taken over her brain for the past two hours suddenly bursts into an acute awareness of everything: Zaynah's face and hair and the smoothness of her skin and the way her beautiful eyes look kind of hopeful and questioning and that her grip on Leah's hand has tightened minutely.
Without a further thought, Leah takes half a step forward and tilts her head down, eyes darting from Zaynah's eyes to her lips. A small smile starts to form on Zaynah's lips but then she's leaning forward, into Leah, and they're kissing.
Leah closes her eyes, exhales sharply through her nose and presses in -- into Zaynah's lips, into her space, into her skin. The hand not tangled with Zaynah's is at the back of her neck, fingers pushing through the thick black hair that she's wanted to touch since day one. She can feel Zaynah's free hand settle on her waist and pull in a way that sends fire shooting down Leah's spine.
They're interrupted by Zaynah's phone. When Zaynah pulls it out of her back pocket, she takes one look at the time and lets out a soft gasp.
"I have to go," she breathes. Leah drags her hand back to trace a thumb along Zaynah's cheekbone. "I'll see you tonight, yeah?"
"Yeah," Leah says, leaning forward to kiss Zaynah's smile.
Zaynah squeezes her hand and pulls back, only to wrap her arms around Leah's neck and lean in for another kiss.
"Okay," she says against Leah's lips. "See you."
"Bye," Leah says, finally releasing Zaynah's hips.
Zaynah turns around five times before she reaches the building and disappears from Leah's sight.
Leah stands there for an indeterminate amount of time, just staring and smiling. Then she realizes that she doesn't have her ipod and she's missing Zaynah's air time. She probably beats her personal best time at the speed she runs home.
"How was your--" is all Harrie gets out before Leah is in her room and accidentally slamming the door shut in the rush.
She's missed half the songs already, but it's better than all of them. She changes while she listens, figuring that she'll go for a real run after this, to try and work off all of the nervous, ecstatic energy she has coursing through her veins.
The hour is almost up when Zaynah's voice comes floating out of Leah's radio and the butterflies in her stomach practically explode.
"As you all know, this is the radio's last broadcasting day of the year. Thank you to everyone who took the time to listen. And now for my last dedication of the year. This one's for you, Leah."
Lee-uh. It runs through her mind on repeat, and Leah can't keep the grin off her face. She's never heard this song before, but it catches her attention immediately and not just because she's been on the edge of her chair since Zaynah started talking. The lyrics don't really register in her mind until the chorus, and a shudder wracks down Leah's spine.
I am yours now
So now I don't ever have to leave.
I've been found out
So now I'll never explore.
And Leah knows it's just a song, she knows the words weren't written specifically for her and Zaynah, but she can't help the smile from splitting her face.
They'll have to talk tonight, but Leah's pretty sure she knows how that conversation will go. It's a little bit nerve-wracking, the thought of building a new relationship, but after today and with the memory of Zaynah's lips on hers, Leah feels like she can do anything.
day-dreaming's what i do best
- fic: One Thing (genderswap!Ziam, Larry) (part 2/2)