it's like one minute it's so funny and then the next it's deep and thoughtful and heartbreaking

9

Amy Jellicoe, Aspiring Agent of Change

"Delicious Ambiguity"

A/N: I don’t even know what this is. So awful… I got caught up in the “Pretty Wings” feels. The title comes from the Gilda Radner quote from below. Astrid Deign is my pseudonym. ;) All of it be fiction, bros.

______________________
He beat her to the punch. Finally, laying it all on the line and raising the ante. But, she wasn’t ready for this. She wasn’t sure she’d ever be ready to admit feelings for someone that she herself couldn’t understand. However, it was all or nothing, and it had come to this.

She closed her eyes and breathed in deeply. The aroma of the Christmas tree down the stairs, permeating through her bedroom walls. The crisp scent, stinging her lungs, as she tried to focus on nothing. Absolutely, nothing. Nothing was better than this sinking feeling of despair.

But, the smell stirred a memory in her, and all at once, she felt the betrayal. A painful pang that hit her in just the right way, as to make her sob hysterically, but silently, into the night. Clutching her chest, as the despair ripped her apart.

Three years ago, they were so happy. Everything was perfect. There wasn’t a need for anything to be defined. Simply, being around one another was all that mattered. The smiles plastered on their faces, as they went Christmas tree shopping. Laughter and love. All was right in the world, but three years changed a lot.

He needed reassurance that he wasn’t simply waiting for a ghost, who would never be his. That he wasn’t a fool for stealing glances of her, in every possible angle, just so he could know every curve of her face. That he wasn’t hopeless for having his dreams flooded with her at night - only to awaken to the phantom of her fingertips, fueling the ache in his own living nightmare. He needed to know so much.

There was so much she didn’t say, and how, had she regretted the absence of her words. It would haunt her for the rest of her life.

She thought she had time - to clear things up, to make things right. Time had run out though.

They had grown apart over her world touring and his focus on Valentin, but they would still always make time for one another. Ensuring that they saw each other at least during the holidays.

The air had changed around him however. Her effervescent personality, which would normally illicit smiles, stretching to the corners of his eyes, now were minute, in comparison. He was growing tired of waiting for her, for letting her break his heart a million times over. Oh how, she missed the crinkles of his laughter lines. In their presence, she was just a girl, and he was just a boy. In love with the world, its opportunities, its beauty, and the company of one another.

Without them, she was just a famous face, and he was just a man. In anguish with the world, its missed opportunities, ugly fate, and the strangers that they had become.

This holiday reaffirmed that unsettling nature, and how something fundamentally had unravelled between them. They couldn’t just pick up like before and forget that everything hadn’t changed. That she hadn’t been outed in public with her boyfriend, who she had sworn was nothing more than her best friend for years. That he hadn’t taken solace in another girl’s arms, to make the heartbreak go away. That he hadn’t known it was coming all along. That he hadn’t taken to Instagram with compromising photos of himself with that girl, to just to spite her, who was always “too busy”, but in reality too shy, to text him. To say that she missed him. That she needed him. Because her world was becoming less grounded and falling to pieces.

It was over. The end of an era, and she knew she’d never feel whole again.

The expression on his face, when he introduced “Instagram girl” to her last week at their annual holiday get together, made her sick. There they were back together, and the terribly missed crinkles in his eyes relit. Only not by her, but by this new somebody. It hurt her heart in unimaginable ways to see him light up in response to someone else. To witness someone other than herself have the “Zendaya Effect” on her Val.

It didn’t make sense because he was never hers to begin with, but now, she understood. She understood what she had done to him - those countless times.

So she screwed on a fake smile, and sat amongst them as the third wheel, when she had always been in the driver’s seat.

A week later, and Z was still in town, celebrating the New Year with her family. As much as you could call, Zendaya’s gloomy state, celebrating. Even her dad, could sense the change in her attitude. Concerned for his daughter, he called her into the family room the night before.

She had been stalking Val and Charlotte’s social media accounts. Recently, Charlotte had gone on a favoriting spree of engagement ring photos and wedding dresses, while Val had liked a rather telling quote on Instagram -

“I wanted a perfect ending. Now I’ve learned, the hard way, that some poems don’t rhyme, and some stories don’t have a clear beginning, middle, and end. Life is about not knowing, having to change, taking the moment and making the best of it, without knowing what’s going to happen next.” -Gilda Radner

- along with another quote.
“Never in a million years would I have bet that this is where I’d be standing. That you’d be the one I’d be standing in front of with my heart on my sleeve. The world is funny in that way. That you never know, who you are going to connect with and who is going to completely screw up your life.” -Astrid Deign

The latter part, regarding fucking up his life, she took full credit for.

“Sweetheart?”

“Yeah, daddy?”

“Come sit down here for a minute and talk to your old man.”

“Daddy, you’re not that old.”

“I’m not that young either, but baby, this isn’t about me.”

She bit her bottom lip, unsure of exactly where this conversation was going.

“What is wrong, baby?”

After hesitating for a moment, she pulled out all her acting skills so as to not worry her dad. She’d always be a daddy’s girl.

“Nothing. I’m so happy to be here for Christmas and the New Year.” She gave a tired smile.

“Really, Daya. What is wrong?”

He gave her an all too knowing look, sensing just how depressed she had been ever after being so excited to go visit Val and then returning home with a look on her face, that made Kazembe want to go break the man, who he once considered as a son’s, legs.

“I’m just worn out. This year…” She took in a deep sigh, staring at the floor, trying her best to forget her less than jovial encounter with Val and Charlotte, or Valotte, as Instagram had so lovingly donned them, the evening prior. “has just been really, really… stressful.” She exhaled.

“Sometimes, I wonder if I made the right choice … in my career. Not getting to see you and mom as often, and all.”

“Don’t worry about us. We are just so proud of you. We couldn’t be more happy for all of your success. But that doesn’t matter nearly as much as your happiness does.”

“I know, Daddy. I guess, I just can’t believe another year is almost over.”

“What more incentive than to end it as the best one yet,” he gave her a wink, filling her with her hope that maybe 2017 could end with her and Val on good terms.

Little did she know, that just a day later, her whole world would come crashing down.

A simple text, from an all too familiar number but had not been seen in nearly 3 months, sent her over the edge.

Val:
“Hey, Z. It’s Val. I have something important to tell you. Can you meet me tomorrow at midnight? I realize its late, but it’s really big.”

That was it. He was going to tell her that he had proposed and that “Valotte” were going to get their fairy tale ending. The corners of her inner eyes, breaking their dams.

Zendaya:
“K” Was all she could manage to punch out before hiding in her room.

And now, it was approaching midnight - fast.

Z clutched her tear-stained pillow, hyperventilating into it. This was the end of her and Val. They would return to being the strangers that they once were before they had met by a chance pairing. She would be just another one of Valentin Chmerkovskiy’s former dance partners. And god, did it hurt.

Zendaya pulled on a hoodie, to be exact, the Sway hoodie that Val had given her three years ago. It was never cold in Oakland, but she needed something to hide her disheveled hair, raccoon eyes, and puffy face.

The trek began.

Val wanted to meet her at the DWM Studio.

The streets were dead and silent, except for the occasional blare of an ambulance siren. She didn’t know how she got to the doors of the studio, but somehow, her tired, restless feet had carried her there.

Pausing for a moment to regain her composure, which had faltered on her journey through the city, staining the sidewalks and pavement, she took one more deep breath before pushing her way through the entrance.

Maxwell’s voice, pouring through distant speakers, goading her further up the stairs.

“Time will bring the real end of our trial. One day there’ll be no remnants no trace. No residual feelings within ya. One day you won’t remember me.”

One step. Two steps. Three steps. Four.

“Your face will be the reason I smile. But I will not see what I cannot have forever. I’ll always love ya. I hope you feel the same.”

The impending doom of their five year relationship, whatever it was, tightening her every nerve, as she grew closer and closer to the sound source and the end of it all.

“Oh, you played me dirty, your game was so bad . You toyed with my affliction . Had to fill out my prescription. Found the remedy. I had to set you free.”

Why oh why, had she cheated on what she and Val had? It wasn’t like her to fall prey to her best friend’s advances, but she had screwed up. Got caught up in him, and the fact that he was physically there, when all she really had wanted all along was Val.

“Away from me
To see clearly
The way that love can be when you are not with me
I had to leave
I had to live
I had to lead
I had to leave…….

If I can’t have you
Let love set you free
To fly your pretty wings around.”

She reached the top of the stairway, and there at the end of the hallway was the rehearsal room with the record player.

Spinning around and around, as her pretty wings fell to the floor from the weight of her fear.

"Pretty wings, your pretty wings, your. Pretty wings. Pretty wings around.”

All the lights were off, and she couldn’t make out anything other than the moon casting shadows in the studio.

Letting the whole toll of the ambience take its affect, she cried out in the darkness.

“Val?” Her voice dripping sore with tears, self-resentment, and sadness that this is what their lives had amounted to.

“Z?” His voice sounded worried at her hysterical intonation.

“Val?” She recognized his form, coming towards her, and all she could do was help but run.

“Z, what’s wrong?” His voice clouded with concern.

But, she was in his embrace now. The moon beating at his back, as he tightly wove his arms around her. Tears falling from her cheek and saturating his shirt.

“Z, babe. What is wrong?”

It was like nothing had ever changed. That the reset button had been pushed, and they were back at square one. But, she knew things couldn’t be that simple. That they never were.

Pulling away from her clutch, he braced her face in his hands. His always callused hands. The perpetual reminder of all of his passion and ardent work.

She had missed those rough hands and the current that ran through them. Something unnatural in the way that it sent shivers down her spine. She cried relentlessly.

The pain tugging at her heart with the realization that this might be the last time, she ever felt it.

Love.

That’s what it was. What it had been, and what it always would be. Nothing could change that. The bond that she had formed with Val, never could be broken - not by distance, not by time, not by some other woman.

Charlotte could have Val in all the ways that she could not, but no matter what, there would always be a part of him that was hers and hers alone.

“Val,” she whispered in between sobs.

“Daya,” he stroked her hair, pushing the hood of her hoodie down.

The look in her eyes, heartbreaking, and her face contorted in despair, she breathed out, “I’m so, so sorry.”

All Val could do, was what he had been waiting for for five years. What he had texted her to discuss. What he had hoped his engaged friend Charlotte would pry out of her, which perhaps in its ambiguity had led her to misconstrue his intentions.

He braved the courage, sensing that the time was right and that she was finally ready.

Closing the space between them, he inhaled her muffled cries with the longest awaited kiss, the world had ever known, causing her to sink deeper and deeper into him. She wrapped her arms around his neck, edging him further to the core of her heart.

Three years had changed a lot.