“Tell me a secret.”
She whispers it in the dark so quietly he almost doesn’t hear her. They are wrapped up in each other, the sheets tangled around them, warm Los Angeles air blowing in through the cracked balcony door.
This is how they exist lately. Together and alone, in the dark. The outside world has become too colorful, too loud, too noisy since they stopped caring about what people would think.
Since they started holding hands in public. Started letting paparazzi catch them leaving Val’s place together. Since they walked down a red carpet and she let Val kiss her full on the mouth in front of all the press.
They were just tired of it- she was tired of it. She had slumped into the last run through of KC Undercover season 3, all eyes her.
“I can’t do it anymore.” She had said. And everyone in the room knew what she meant.
She had cried the entire drive to Val’s place that evening. She knew that it would feel strange, leaving the Disney lot for the last time. She had hugged Veronica fiercely, apologized over and over again for bringing the ship down with her.
No one was particularly mad. Make-up had been having to try harder to conceal the bags under her eyes. People kept hugging her, wishing her luck they knew she didn’t need. Reiterating that they just wanted her to be happy.
Of course the media went wild. There was never any formal announcement made, but it was hard to ignore she and Val out and about making puppy eyes at each other almost everywhere you went.
All the attention was fine at first. It felt exhilarating, really. They would go out to eat just because they didn’t have to play any games anymore. Attend every single event they were invited to because they finally could.
Then news outlets started doing pieces on Zendaya. Stopping just short of calling her a slut. Making Val out as a pedophile waiting in the wings to prey on his victim. Rumors started spiraling out of control- that Val was lewd and inappropriate backstage- that he’d hit on both Sadie and Willow. You couldn’t open up a gossip magazine without reading an article about Zendaya being a dangerous role model for young girls. Suggesting that the epidemic of teens sending naked selfies and engaging in sexting had something to do with the fact that her stardom was on the rise.
Zendaya’s heart broke over and over again. She stopped going to the store because she couldn’t bear to see what they would accuse her of next. They started ordering dinner in, became friends with the local Thai food delivery guy not because they wanted to, but because they had to.
Claire and Kazembe wanted them at home with them, but Zendaya wasn’t having any of that. They were the best parents ever, yes, but they didn’t get it. They could say they did, get enraged every time her reputation got knocked down a notch, but they couldn’t feel what she felt in her heart.
So here they were. In their own private prison with each other. Locked up for being in love.
Val studies her face, unsure if he wants to tell her the secret he’s been holding.
“Sometimes I wish we would have kept us hidden.” He admits, searching her eyes with his.
She nods. Wants to cry but physically can’t because she’s been fresh out of tears for weeks now.
“We’ll be ok, right?” She asks tentatively, curling into him.
“Of course we will,” her murmurs, placing a kiss into her hair.
“Good,” she exhales. “Because I have a secret, too. I’m pregnant.”
Val pulls back, their eyes meeting again. A slow smile spreads across his face, engulfing him and making his eyes twinkle with joy.
“We’re going to be more than ok.”
And he pulls the drawer of his bedside table open, retrieving something quite big and sparkly that he slides onto her finger.
It isn’t a grand gesture, no fireworks, no symphony, but it feels more real this way. They stare at her hand for a moment, silent and taking it in.
Let the world talk- it will never have them figured out.