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Fair Weather Friends

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I. a thousand clever lines unread on clever napkins

It starts slow unlike everything else in their lives. Between the hectic schedules and promotion preparations, they still somehow manage to make time for this—for them. Hanging out with just the three of them so often should make her feel guilty, like they're alienating everyone else, or themselves.

At this point Raina thinks they feel like the same thing.

She's allowed to be selfish every now and then, she wants to be. It's nice (nicer) when it's just them. Lizzy tips over laughing about something or other and Nana leans back against her in amusement simply because she doesn't know how else to handle herself. It's unfair to the others but she likes this thing she has with Lizzy and Nana.

Some people just get along with others better, it happens.

She tries not to let herself get too hung up about it.

* * *

Raina likes to count sometimes. Beats, measures, her breathing. It's a habit born from a nervous tic that she's since turned into a tool.

She doesn't believe in weaknesses, only in transforming them into something that she can make work for her.

There are things she won't count, though. Glances, lingering touches, moments that probably don't mean anything more than what she makes it out to be.

She refuses to keep track of how many times Lizzy catches her eye or how many times Nana pulls her snug against her side when it would be more convenient to not do so. She doesn't keep track because she knows if she does she'll drive herself crazy thinking that it means anything other than what it is. It would quickly mess with what they have.

* * *

"You've got a little something..." Nana trails off and swipes a thumb over Raina's lip, wiping away the stray ice cream.

Nana licks her thumb, does it without a second thought and Raina inhales sharply.

It's the little things that she can never seem to get used to.

* * *

Lizzy loops an arm around her and leads her away from where she's trying to go.

"C'mon," she says airily, "enjoy the day with me."

They walk down the path as far as the park will take them and Lizzy coos at every single dog that passes by with its owner. She pets as many as she can, reaches out and coddles them without asking, fearless (careless) of how the dogs might react to a stranger.

Raina marvels at how Lizzy manages to go through life doing whatever she pleases.

* * *

When Raina is alone, she practices. Lines, footwork, remarks for any and every off the cuff questioning she might encounter.

She practices to herself in the mirror, talks to herself because she has to.

"We're happy with how fans have been reacting, please continue to support us."

Even though she looks them up online when she knows she shouldn't, sees what everyone really has to say about them.

"It's very new and challenging and hopefully worth the long months of preparation."

A part of her always tells her the payoff will never come close to how much time and energy they put into everything.

"It's all very exciting."

It's a nice skill she's developed, lying through her teeth.

* * *

Raina isn't sure when it starts but it does.

Lizzy's hand falls on her bare thigh when she laughs and instead of brushing it off, Raina freezes. On her other side, Nana falls asleep with her head nestled on her shoulder and for a moment she tries to remember a time Nana's ever made it through one of their movie nights without dozing off.

"You're getting toned," Lizzy says, hand still on her thigh, warm and not entirely unwelcome.

"We all are," she reminds her, words feeling heavy in her mouth.

Nana shifts in her sleep, buries herself into Raina's side. Lizzy doesn't move her hand, keeps it firm on Raina's thigh for the rest of the movie and makes her feel like she's stuck between a rock and a hard place in the worst possible way.

 

II. in the night we'll wish this never ends

It's Lizzy who starts it. She shouldn't be surprised, anything that smells like trouble almost always has Lizzy's hands all over it.

Raina tries hard to stay out of trouble, she really, really does. But when she wakes up sandwiched between Lizzy and Nana, she thinks maybe she doesn't try hard enough because whatever this is can only lead to trouble. With Lizzy breathing onto her face and Nana exhaling against her neck, Raina's skin crawls with a new kind of discomfort. 

But then Nana slings an arm over her stomach and Lizzy tangles their legs together, Raina thinks (hopes) that it might be worth the trouble.

* * *

"Whoever's phone that is better get ready to die," Lizzy mumbles against her collarbone.

"It's yours."

Lizzy groans and curls her hand into a fist, lightly scratching the skin on Raina's stomach as she does so.

She's too busy being flustered to wonder when Lizzy's hand found its way under her shirt.

Lizzy gets up to answer her phone and Raina tries to get up with her only to be stopped by Nana letting out a whine and tightening her hold on Raina's waist.

"Sleep," Nana murmurs into her hair.

Raina stays put but she doesn't get any sleep.

* * *

As promotions drag on, they spend more time together and Raina gets less and less time to herself.

Normally it wouldn't be a problem. She lives for this, performing and just being with her favorite people. But the more Lizzy and Nana keep doing... whatever this new thing is makes her carefully planned existence begin to crumble.

She doesn't get a chance to hate it with the way Lizzy and Nana keep ambushing her.

* * *

When she says ambush, she really means a literal ambush.

Lizzy corners her in the hall during break one day and kisses her. Just pushes her back against the wall and kisses her where anybody could see. It's telling that that's what goes through her mind instead of why.

It's over as soon as it starts and Lizzy pushes off the wall, fixes Raina's lip gloss, and skips back to the practice room.

* * *

Nana is slightly more subtle if only because it's in her nature. The girl could singlehandedly save the world and still find a way to apologize for something absurd.

What's absurd is this:

They hang out, just the two of them, for the first time in forever because Lizzy mysteriously has "important things to take care of." The way she says it and gives Nana a meaningful look should have been a red flag.

They end up baking because they're craving sweets and the kitchen seems to be missing all of the cookies and muffins she knows she bought last week. Jooyeon must have gotten a key to her place again, it's the only explanation.

Nana isn't entirely useless in the kitchen but she's no dream assistant either.

She tries, though, so very hard and Raina would trade all the sous chefs in the world for just one Nana making a mess of mixing flour and getting more of it on herself than in the bowl.

"At least it matches your skin," Raina says with a laugh and tosses a towel at Nana. She offers to take over for Nana. At this rate, they'll be spending more time time figuring out what went wrong instead of actually enjoying baked goods.

"I can do it," Nana whines and huddles over the bowl.

"Of course," she says distractedly.

One moment Nana is focused on mixing and the next, she's leaning over and placing a kiss on the corner of Raina's mouth.

When Nana pulls back, she doesn't do so completely, stays on the outskirts of Raina's personal space. Nana looks at her like she looks at the stage right before they go on: hoping for the best.

Raina swallows hard like she understands and pulls Nana close like a promise kept.

 

III. take a deep breath, i know i'm gonna regret it

They don't talk about it, ever. Even if they did, Raina's not sure she even knows what she'd say.

"What the hell?" used to be a common question in the beginning, back when Raina was sure she wasn't going insane.

Then, "what the actual hell," because her reflection just has to give her answers, it's never let her down before.

She stares back at the mirror until she's sick of her own face.

Maybe that's the point. She has to stop relying on herself so much.

* * *

Lizzy's bold, pulls her away from practice when she can and pushes Raina into the nearest empty room, makes her forget everything they just went over.

The one time Raina manages to get the advantage and flips them until she's pinning Lizzy against the wall, Lizzy's shocked for about as long as it takes Raina to figure out how to undo the lace. Then she's all smiles and laughing into kisses that turn into teeth dragging across skin.

When they make it back to the practice room, Lizzy looks smug and Nana looks at them with a blush creeping up her face.

Raina doesn't know how to look at all so she lingers by Jooyeon and Jungah for the rest of practice.

* * *

When Raina gets tired of Nana's overwhelming subtlety, she takes a page from Lizzy and pulls Nana away from prying eyes, grips her face and kisses her.

She tries to kiss reassurances into Nana, tries to tell her what she can't find words for with lips and clashing teeth. Raina hopes Nana does the same and by the way she's gripping the back of her head, Raina thinks it's close enough.

* * *

The first time they're all together is a mess of lost signals. Lizzy and Nana are a landslide and Raina's the city beneath them.

Lizzy's a force to be reckoned with, Nana's all skin and bones, and Raina's a nervous wreck.

For the first time in never, Raina doesn't rely on her plans and lets herself be led. Lizzy crushes their mouths together and Nana grips her tentatively. 

As always, she's the in-between to their polar extremes.

 

IV. we started something we could not finish

By the time the next round of promotions rev up, everyone looks as though they're sick of each other. Tensions run high but it's not something they've never gone through before. You could only be around certain people for so long until something snaps.

It's not noticeable at first, but somewhere along the way the three of them start to drift. What used to be them turns into yet another broken faction within their already fractured group.

Some things don't change, though. Lizzy and Nana are still LizzyandNana

* * *

Like with everything else about this, it starts slow, except this time it feels unbearably so.

Even if schedules are hectic during promotions, it still leaves them with far too much in-between time, periods where they're just waiting. These are the times where Raina has no choice but to seek out things she doesn't necessarily want to know.

Raina catches the glances between them, notices what used to be shared between the three now only works as a two way street. Looking back on everything, maybe it's been that way all along and Raina was just the detour along the way.

She wants to stop noticing but she can't.

So she counts, and counts, and counts.

* * *

Raina doesn't think it's on purpose, not really. She's not even sure that it started out on purpose either, just something that happened.

A part of her thinks maybe she should hate them for it, but she never really did ever quite get that far.

It makes her feel stupid because she should have known better.

They look at her like they're sorry it's ended up this way, she's just sorry it took this long. Some people just get along with others better, it happens.