By Gabi-hime (firstname.lastname@example.org)
A/N: Magically this turns from being a one shot into a chapterfic because of delinquent prodding of my significant other. Sometimes I get an offer that I can't refuse. This is the result.
Spoilers: End of Spiral TV.
She didn't move, didn't fight him, didn't do anything but stare up at him with wide brown eyes -- her breathing slow and deep, his palm hard against her shoulder, pressing her into the futon, all his weight on that one point, keeping her down, holding her tight against him – she didn't tremble, didn't make a sound. She was soft and silent and pliable as green wood under him, bent gently to his command.
If there was one thing he could say for Yuizaki Hiyono it was that she followed unspoken orders admirably.
It was all there, in one tight and rough moment that he had not intended, that he had not planned. One of her pigtails had come half undone and it spilled recklessly over her shoulder and onto the pillow. She did not tremble, but he did -- like a drunken surgeon or a fox in a bear trap – once, twice in all before mastering himself. He thumbed the curve of her jaw with his free hand before cupping her chin. She was under his hands and she did not resist and he knew that she would not resist. Everything he knew about her, every word she'd ever spoken, every thing she'd ever done screamed in mind that she would not resist. Not him, even as compromised as she was.
It had been standing between them open and raw for some time, and they had largely been ignoring it. She was his shadow. She was his Watson. She was his prop and his anchor.
And he could take anything from her, force the comfort out of her, bruised and bloody, and she would not complain because it might ease his pain. In a way, maybe she'd even be happy about it, because that was at least something that had fallen between them. Actions speak louder than words, but only to the mute and deaf.
Perhaps he was both.
He touched her hair, glossy in the morning sun, and suddenly he hated himself for knowing that he could drag anything out of her, for wanting to drag it out of her, spilling all her secrets carelessly on the floor where he'd step on them later from sheer negligence. He had no right to her, had given nothing to her, had promised nothing to her.
He rolled off of her in a moment and was away at the window rubbing his temples. He couldn't do it. He would not do it. He could not rip her apart and leave her to stitch herself back together out of his line of vision just because it suited him. She deserved more than that, deserved better than him.
He heard the springs shift in the futon and knew that she had moved, heard the floorboards creak and knew that she was out of the bed, out of his bed. She laid one hand between his shoulder blades and curled against his back the way she was fond of doing when they were cramped into tight or dangerous situations. Her touch was simple and familiar, something she'd done a thousand times before and it reminded him how fond he was of her presence at his back, how used to it he was. It was an intimacy that she expected and that he had never fought, like apron strings wound tight around his fingers, or perhaps, tight around her fingers.
"Why?" when he spoke his voice sounded flat and uninterested. He had intended to be relaxed and familiar, not sound like a tinny robot spitting out prerecorded spliced together thoughts. He was out of practice with all tones outside of stoic.
"Because," her voice was steady and warm, the way it always was when she was talking him through a difficult area. If she ever stopped being the voluble shadow to the world's only private consulting high school detective, then he was going to suggest that she become a social worker or a telephone operator on a crisis hotline.
"That's not a real answer."
If she ever left him then he'd have to go out and get a real shrink, one that he actually had to pay in something other than insults and free meals. His budget would be broken once and forever.
"That wasn't a real question, Narumi-san," she laid her head against his shoulder rather unexpectedly, "Why did you leave?"
He snorted derisively, "You actually thought I was interested in doing that with you? You're more delusional than I thought, idiot girl. You're not mature enough or thin enough for me. You've been eating too much at every meal. You're getting fat."
I couldn't tear you open without thought like that, even if I wanted it, even if you wanted it. I can't give you what you deserve – understanding and commitment. I won't give it. I have too much to do, too many commitments already. There's no place for this one. It hurts too much. I won't tangle you up in me and then leave because the game calls me to a different place. I am not my older brother. You will stay you and I will stay me and we will stay like this.
The barrage from usagi and kuma that he expected from the comment on her weight did not come and he was so unnerved that she had not reacted the way that he had intended that he looked over his shoulder to see how she had reacted, even if this did earn him a kuma in the face.
Her eyes were soft, her expression gentle. There was no anger or mock violence there, only a kind of sadness.
"You don't have to be afraid, Narumi-san."
He stared at her hard, expressionless, and then turned to look back out the window. It was late. Too late for breakfast. Too late for everything. The words wouldn't come, and though he hated himself for not being able to say it, for being to cowardly to say it, he was glad of it too. It gave him somewhere to hide, it left his hand his own, not forced.
"That part doesn't matter, Narumi-san," she persisted, explaining gently, almost as if she were reading this thoughts.
this girl have any brains at all in her head?
"Do you want me to hurt you?" he asked abruptly and finally an emotion rang clearly through his voice. He was angry. Would she spare him no quarter?
"Don't you know why it doesn't matter, Narumi-san? No matter what you say to me, it can't change my heart. If you tell me that you hate me, I'll still be standing here because that won't change my heart. I want you to be happy, Narumi-san. I want you to look at something else other than Kiyotaka-san's back, if only for a little while."
The silence standing between them rang wild and empty and he leaned forward, his forehead against the warm glass. Everything was so empty – the house, his belly, and his life. Was this all he lived for, chasing the shadow of his older brother? Chasing a ghost and living in the bones of another of the dearly departed? He had built himself an air castle with nothing inside of it. He was nothing, had nothing. The Blade Children at least had each other, he had . . .
"I don't know why you stay with me. It doesn't make any sense. You don't make any sense."
Suddenly her hand found his, hanging carelessly as it was from his arm like a forgotten bit of decoration. Her fingers laced through his unresisting, listless fingers and she squeezed his hand.
"I'm Narumi-san's family. It doesn't matter what happens, I'll always be here."
And in that soft, simple statement, another ran devastating through his ears, syncing perfectly.
"I'll always be here, Ayumu, even if you lose, you can always come home."
He jerked his fingers out of her hand and grabbed her wrist hard, twisting her arm back and forcing her against the bookcase, one arm trapped above her head where he held it fast as he leaned in, breathing hard.
"I don't want a family. They've all left. They've all gone. The only one whose ever stayed is you."
She blinked once and he could read the tears at the corners of her eyes. Still, she smiled.
"Narumi-san, it doesn't matter what happens. I'll always be here. I'll always love you."
So simple, so easy, how could it be so easy for her, when he had to choke it out? Was it all so easy because she believed that everything would turn out? Was it the happiness of the believer? No, she had said so herself. It wasn't that she believed that everything would turn out for the best in the end, it was that she didn't care how it turned out at all, didn't care if she was hurt now or in the future because the consequences didn't matter.
"Don't you dare ever say you want to be my family again," and the words came out bruised and thick, "I don't want you as my family."
She trembled underneath him, trembled like a bird and closed her eyes, accepting what she knew was next – the abrupt dismissal and careless reproach. He cupped her chin again and forced her to look at him.
He was . . . crying?
"You're more important than family."
He closed the spaced between them as if it had never existed, and she fell open like a book before him, and his hand was at her collar, pushing it wide so he could see the cream round of her shoulder. It almost wasn't a kiss, almost a bite, some pent up ball of frustration that left them both panting even as he rolled the ball of her bare shoulder under his palm.
"Even if I never said anything else, it would be enough?" he asked, mouth at her throat, breathing in her scent. Orchids. She still smelled of orchids.
"Narumi-san, you've already told me everything," she laughed gently and he was driven to kiss her again, to pull her away from the bookshelf and fully into his arms. The sun was warm on his back, warm, hot, it was too late for breakfast, too late for the morning, but not too late for this.
"Narumi-san left his clothes everywhere."
She pulled her bare knees up to her chest and wrapped her arms around them as she perched on top of the barstool watching him make breakfast. It was really too late for breakfast, but a day just wasn't a day unless it had miso soup in it somewhere.
"Nng. I was tired."
He had to have been. She couldn't have imagined anything would lead them to the situation they'd had this morning other than sheer exhaustion and possible hallucinations. He was not one for either heartfelt shoujo manga style confessions or scintillating adult encounters. In fact, when he'd found her asleep in his bed (purely accidentally, of course) she'd have imagined the way he'd deal with the situation is to scoop her up and then deposit her without comment on the floor. It was his bed, after all. She was the one who'd have to do the explaining.
And yet, perhaps there didn't need to be any explaining now. He was cooking in his robe and pajama pants. She was wearing her pajama shirt and precious little else. It was the perfect morning after, midday after, as if it had all been arranged. It almost made her giddy to think about it. It was just the sort of scene of domestic bliss that was supposed to follow such an encounter.
"Except I'm the one who's supposed to be making breakfast. In a frilly apron. While you look on adoringly."
"We don't have a frilly apron, besides, I don't want you to get oil on my pajamas. You're a disaster in the kitchen. If you want to cook, then you'll be doing it in just the frilly apron. Which we don't have."
She blushed, "Narumi-san really is more ecchi than I thought."
He looked at her sideways over the range and she blushed even more furiously. Well, he was! He had been needy, but almost practiced, as if he knew exactly what he wanted. From his exterior she would have pegged him a physical misanthrope, but from the way he held her, from the things he told her . . .
"You're the one who's sitting at the breakfast table and thinking perverted thoughts."
Her eyes widened and her blush deepened and she resolutely crossed her legs, "Narumi-san! I am not!"
"You are too. Hiyono it's obvious. You keep squirming while staring at the toaster in a very distracted way. I don't think you're pining for toast."
"I am not pining!"
He made no further comment, simply dished up the soup to her.
"You're terrible, Narumi-san!" she declared, directing her full attention to the soup.
He raised an eyebrow, "Maybe I am, but you didn't seem to mind it."
"Oi, Hiyono, why don't we restrict your howling my name to more traditional hours or the neighbors are going to think something is up."
"Narumi-san, your guardian has disappeared and a high school aged girl moved in with you. I think they probably already think something is up."
"Should we move to your house then? You keep tabs on your mother, but I have no idea where Madoka-onee-san is. It'd be embarrassing if she finally came home to find the two of us indisposed."
Hiyono's head swam. She'd never considered these complications. What if her mother came home unannounced to find her daughter asleep in her bed with some strange boy? Oh, she couldn't be so delinquent, she'd be sent away to boarding school! But if Madoka-onee-san came home then it'd be even worse, because she was already something of a wreck and if she came home to find the two of them in intimate conversation then she might get the wrong idea . . . or the right idea, which wouldn't be much better. Or the neighbors, the two of them could be turned in to some higher authority, she was sure of it, and . . .
"Don't worry about it, Hiyono. I'll change the locks."
The brakes slammed so fast on her train of thought that she almost bit off her tongue.
Well, how was she supposed to know? He made the same face all the time, whether passionate or despairing. The same brown eyes, the same non-committal mouth, the same curve of his jaw, he could be a statue for as much as his face gave away his tells.
"Narumi-san, why didn't you just kick me out of your room?" the question was abrupt, but if it upset him, he did not show it.
"Why didn't you leave?" and he'd turned the question back over on her.
"Because I wanted to be close to you. You seem so distant, brooding over something you can't help, I wanted to be there for you, even if you just kept pushing me away. Narumi-san is my special person. I couldn't run from him when he'd finally come home."
"If I asked you to do anything, anything in the world, would you do it?"
"Well, probably, as long as it wasn't anything illegal or – yes."
"Then I want you to promise, if I ever make a mistake, if I ever leave you behind somewhere, that you'll chase me down. I don't want to run from you any more. No matter what I might say when other people are around, I want you to know that. I want you to understand."
"Narumi-san, is it really cheaper to cook for two than it is to cook for one?"
". . . Hiyo-no."
" . . . Of course it's not. I thought even you could do math that simple."
Her usagi punchi let loose straight at his head, but he dodged it easily and then caught her when she fell forward. He looked at the miso soup where it sat still steaming on the counter and let his hand rest in her hair.
"It's not cheaper to cook for two, but it is better. It's better to share meals than to eat them alone."
Domestic bliss. Heaven in two and a half rooms.
Or a reasonable facsimile at least.