She's been preparing for this for a week, praying it wouldn't happen at work. Laura hates storms, any of the sort. Thunderstorms, ice storms, even snow storms – she was caught in one a year or so back in New York. They just, they scared her. She kicked in to overdrive and went sort of crazy when one happened. This time is no exception. It's Friday, the last day of her working week, and the weather is pretty bad anywhere in California, let alone LA. The news channels have been warning everyone about the potential for freezing rain. She had hoped that if it were to happen, it would be when she's at home... with her family... at her dad's side. She always found herself acting like a child when there was a storm.
But it's not like she was afraid of them. No. In fact, she loved them. She always found a sort of peace looking out at the rain, the lighting, hearing the thunder roll. What freaked her out was when the power blew out. And it always does. That's what she's scared of now. That, this huge building that housed the set, the equipment, the dressing rooms, everything, would lose power. And then it would be dark.
It's been flickering all morning, so they've been shooting short scenes to guarantee that the generator will catch anything if the power fails. She's been trying to stay calm the whole morning, but it's clear she's a little rigid.
"Would you relax?" Ross whispers, appearing at her side. "It's okay," he laughs. "Just a little storm."
She chuckles insincerely. "I'm calm."
He rolls his eyes. "Yeah, okay," he smirks, heading back to his position at the grand piano. Just then, a huge crack of thunder radiates through the building and the power surges, then shuts off entirely. Laura squeals, caught off guard. She pulls Ross back and throws herself in to him. He wraps his arms around her protectively, trying desperately not to laugh at the girl in his arms. "Seriously, Laura? You're not calm."
She mutters profanities at him in to his chest.
"I can let go," he says, very slowly loosening his grip in return.
"No," she panics, squeezing his sides.
"Fuck," he gasps. "For a small girl you have a death grip," he complains.
She pulls back a little and looks around as the back up lights start to turn on. It's not much light, but it's enough that she's brave enough to pull away. She shivers. "I hate power outages."
"I'm used to them," he tells her, leaning against the Sonic Boom counter with his hands in his pockets. "Back in Colorado we had awful snowstorms that sometimes knocked it out for days."
Her eyes widen. "Nothing that bad that I can recall happened here as I grew up," she replies.
He shrugs. "They're not that bad, Laura. In my house, we got candles and our instruments and played music and board games. Never a dull moment there." He smiles fondly at the memory.
She's about to say something until Raini walks over with Calum. "Apparently the roads are really back," she tells the two of them.
"I know," Laura says, rubbing her arm nervously. "I don't know how we'll get home."
"It'll be okay," Calum says. "Might as well take the opportunity to relax when we can't do anything."
"What about your coffee?" Raini smirks.
"What about it?" He's not following.
"The power's out," she says. "You can't make anymore coffee."
His eyes widen and he runs away. She giggles and chases after him.
Ross laughs. "Those two, I swear." Laura isn't amused. She's staring at the floor, unmoving. He puts an arm around her shoulder. "Relax, Laura. Here, I'll take you to your dressing room." She lets him drag her along. "I don't get why you're so afraid of the dark anyway," he wonders.
"I'm not afraid of the dark," she argues. "I'm afraid of the unpredictable silence. When I go to sleep, it's quiet. But I do that. I'm making it silent. When it's quiet at random, it scares me, because music... noise, it's... I don't know how to explain. It's like a drug, sort of? And when it's gone when I don't want it to be, it's like having withdrawal. I can't function in the quiet. I need sound."
He nods, taking it in. "It doesn't have to be silent," he says as they approach her room. He lets them in and sits her on her bed. "Wait here," he tells her. She sits alone, gradually becoming scared, waiting for him to return. Then she sees a shadowy figure come back and she's at peace again as it shuffles around. "Here," Ross says, turning on a couple plastic candles, providing the smallest bit of light in her room. He sits across from her on the armrest of the couch and she sees his guitar. He starts strumming some chords then, and his face is somber in the 'candlelight'. He looks at her and sees her face, still painted in fear and unsureness, and he smiles. "It's okay," he whispers over the music. He doesn't sing, but she recognizes the song to be Counting Stars.
She smiles and sings. "Lately, I been, I been losin' sleep, dreaming about the things that we could be." He rocks his head to the beat and starts singing backup quietly. "Lately, I been, I been playin' hard. Said no more countin' dollars, we'll be countin' stars."
"Lately, I been losin' sleep," Ross sings. "Dreaming about the things that we could be. Lately, I been, I been playin' hard. Said no more countin' dollars, we'll be, we'll be countin' stars."
"Take that money, watch it burn..." she sings happily in the dark with him.
It's been two hours since the power went out, and Laura's finally relaxed. So much so, that she's drifting to sleep on her bed, despite the fact that she's having a conversation with Ross. She's laughing lightly at his words, but he notices the way she's slurring.
"I think Austin needs to tell Ally straight up that he still likes her," he says, discussing the show. "Obviously all of these songs he writes aren't helping."
"Yeah," she mumbles sleepily. "Ally... not... noticing."
He waits for more, but there isn't. He chuckles as he hears her breathing steady and she starts to snore delicately, almost inaudibly. He gets up from his place on the couch to get closer, and sure enough, she's out like a light. He pulls the blanket up over her because it's starting to get cold in the building from the heat being out as well, and he goes to leave.
But since it's dark, he walks in to the wall beside her door.
Laura's eyes shoot open as the impact startles her and she hears him whisper, "oops, shit."
"Are you alright?" she asks. "Where are you going?"
"Yeah," he says. "I was going now, because you were asleep."
"No, stay," she begs. "It's still dark."
He sighs. "Okay, fine," he agrees. She pats the space on the bed between her and the wall. "You want me to lay down with you?" he asks, taken aback.
"Why not?" she shrugs, making more room. "It's freezing in here, and you're hot, so." Her eyes widen. "I mean, you're warm, because you're wearing a sweater, not that... I didn't mean..." Her cheeks flush bright pink and he laughs, crawling in the space next to her.
"Relax, Laura, I knew what you meant." He takes his sweater off and gives it to her to wear. She takes it wordlessly, but smiles, both grateful for that and for the fact that he let her slip up go. She zips up "Austin's" sweater, a size too big, and lies down a few inches from him, looking up at his amused expression. "Warm enough?" he asks.
"Getting there," she muses. "I like your Walk The Moon Band sweater better though."
"Maybe I'll get you one for Christmas," he suggests.
She grins. "Is that your way of telling me that you're my secret Santa?" she wonders.
"No," he says. "I'm Julia's. But I'm still getting you a present."
"Well then I'd love one of those," she says, laying her head on her pillow and yawning. "How long do you think the power will be out?"
He shrugs. "I don't know, could be a while. You should sleep though. I can tell you're still tired from your finals."
She nods. "It was a long week." He pulls the blanket higher over them and she closes her eyes, drifting to sleep easily once more.
He chuckles quietly as her lips part and her body practically deflates from exhaustion. He brushes the hair away from her face, painfully aware that his hand lingers a bit too long on her cheek. He sighs and lays his own head down, only a little tired. May as well make the best of the situation though. He closes his eyes and dreams, dreams of only this. Being wrapped up with Laura, his not-so-secret crush like this, in bed. Not doing anything (although he wouldn't wind if they were whoops), just relaxing, enjoying each others' company. And hoping maybe one day, they can do this as a couple...
Raini and Calum barge in then, startling Ross and Laura. Laura almost flies up the bed, but luckily Ross' reflexes kick in and grab her waist. "Wake up," Raini says. "The power's back on and we can leave now."
He's surprised they don't comment on his bed situation with Laura, but speaks nothing of it. "What time is it?"
"Seven," Calum tells him. "But everyone said that there's really no reason to stay since we already lost a good five hours of work." He turns to Raini. "Want a ride?"
"Sure," she shrugs. "Bye guys." She waves and closes the door behind them.
Laura's tired expression lights up. "The power is back on finally," she says, standing up. She unzips his "Austin" sweater and gives it back to him.
He takes it, climbing out of the bed, dazed. "Is it weird that they didn't ask why were sleeping together?" he asks her.
She thinks about it for a moment while tying up her hair. "Nah, they probably don't care," she says dismissively. "Thanks for staying with me, Ross," she says, leaning up to give him a quick peck on the cheek. She flies out of the room and he's left standing there.
"No problem?" he says to emptiness. He pulls his shoes on and rustles his hair. Did she just make a big deal in to nothing? He sighs. Maybe that's how it would always be. There would be this transparent love for each other that they never acted on.
He's leaving the room and she runs back in and presses him lightly against the wall, reaching up to lock their lips, in a pleasantly warm kiss. He takes his arms and wraps them around her waist for a moment. When she pulls back, he's stunned and confused. She brings her index finger to her lips. "Shh," she giggles mischievously. "No one needs to know."
He grins and leans down, stealing a kiss of his own. She pulls back again, her eyes wide. "What's wrong?" he asks, immediately concerned. Did he cross a line? He just assumed it was okay since she did it.
She looks up at the lights. "Let's go before the power goes out again," she says, dragging him out of the room.
He's still laughing when they leave the building.