Claire hasn't lost track of the number of motels they've stayed at, not yet, but it's more depressing to keep count. This one is number four, and it's a step up from the last one, but it's still hardly what anyone would call quality accommodation. The wallpaper is too loud, the water pressure sucks, and she already misses her own bed. She imagines it's even worse for Nathan, whose fancy private school trips probably never made him stay in hotels little better than this, but if he's anywhere near as frustrated as she is, he doesn't let on.
The water in the shower is lukewarm at best, and she doesn't linger. She dries her hair quickly before wrapping the towel around her; there are only two towels, which means she has to leave one for Nathan, and her hair is already dripping down her back by the time she leaves the bathroom.
"I'm clean," she says, and Nathan looks up. The television is flickering in the corner, but the sound is off; she doubts there's anything good on, anyway.
"I noticed," he says, and there's a beat of silence, almost uncomfortable.
"So, um, you can have the shower now."
He nods, and walks into the bathroom without another word. As the door clicks shut behind him, she unwraps the towel, dresses herself in the ill-fitting clothes Nathan picked up a few days ago.
After a moment's contemplation, she turns the volume on the television up manually - there's no remote in sight - and flicks through a couple of channels before settling back on the bed. It's all talk shows and daytime soaps; not what she'd usually watch, but it's not like there's anything better to do.
It's a few more minutes before she can hear the noise of the shower cut off, and she waits for Nathan to emerge. When he doesn't, she gets up, rapping lightly on the door before admitting herself.
Nathan's half-dressed; pants on, shirt off, his hair sill damp. He pulls a battered electric razor out of one of the drawers and glances up at her, his eyebrows already raised in a question.
"Hairbrush," she says, and picks the brush up from beside the sink as if to demonstrate. He nods, again, and the distant hum of the television in the next room provides a welcome intrusion into the silence.
"Do you even know how to work that thing?" she asks. Nathan's staring at the razor as if he doesn't quite know what to do with it, and she gestures towards it with the hairbrush.
"A razor? I think I can figure it out." There's almost the twist of a smile on his lips, and it's the closest he's come to making a joke since they started whatever twisted road trip they're on.
"Can I?" The question almost surprises her, but Nathan doesn't look shocked; interested, maybe, and he hands the razor over silently.
She puts the hairbrush down and takes the razor, moving a step closer. Beads of water still glisten on Nathan's chest, and she presses her palm to it lightly.
"You should sit down," she says, and lets her hand drop. "I think there were some chairs in the bedroom."
There's one chair, scratched white plastic, but it's good enough. She carries it into the bathroom, where it takes up most of the empty space, and Nathan gives it a dubious look before sitting down. Claire picks up the razor again, flicking it on and off, and leans down so her face is level with Nathan's.
"Are you sure you know how to do this?" he asks, and she smiles. She used to do it for her dad sometimes, she remembers, when she was little.
She doesn't tell Nathan. There are too many bad associations there.
"I think I can figure it out," she says, and he smiles, properly this time.
She switches the razor on again, feeling it vibrate against her skin. She cups Nathan's chin with her free hand, and presses the razor to it, gently.
"More pressure," he says, his voice steady as he guides her. She obeys, pressing harder, and moves the razor down from the spot below his cheek to the edge of his jawline. She can feel Nathan clench his jaw, but he doesn't move otherwise, and his eyes never leave hers.
After a few minutes, she switches the razor off, surveying her work. Her fingertips trace the smooth lines of his chin, across his jaw to where his skin is still marked with stubble.
"I think I can take it from here," he says, and she frowns, leaning back.
"I still have to do the other side."
Her hand is still cupping his cheek, and she can feel the movement of his muscles as he swallows. He shifts slightly in the chair, but doesn't stop her when she flicks the razor back on.
He raises a hand to her hip as she starts over on the other side, settling uncomfortably over the fabric of her skirt. The movement startles her, and she falters, pressing the razor too hard to his skin. She hears his intake of breath over the buzzing of the razor, and she draws back sharply, setting the razor aside.
The skin of his throat is red where she nearly cut him, and she reaches out; Nathan catches her wrist, and there's a split-second before he pulls her down, her thighs settling atop his as she falls into his lap. The plastic of the chair legs squeaks against the tiled floor, harsh and loud.
When he kisses her, it squeaks again, the only sound of protest.
His hand is still circling her wrist, his fingers digging into her skin in a way that doesn't quite register as pain. After a moment, he releases her, his hands sliding up beneath her oversized sweater, and she leans back to let him pull it over her head.
"Claire," he says. His voice is thick, and she kisses him; whatever this is, she doesn't want to talk about it. Nathan kisses her back, hard. His hands start moving again, pushing aside the fabric of her underwear, and she can hear the sharp, metallic twang as he unzips his pants.
"Claire," he says again, and she nods, biting her lip.
"I'm sure," she says.
He doesn't go slowly; the chair feels like it's straining beneath their weight, but it holds, and when Nathan pulls her forward suddenly, jarring her against him, she shuts out the sound altogether.
She comes hard, her eyes closed, and she's still shuddering in his arms when she feels him go rigid beneath her, and a sharp, guttural sound leaves his throat; it sounds too loud in the empty silence of the room. Then other noises start to filter in; the low drone of the television, the steady drip of water from the leaky shower head. And her own breathing, heavy in her ears.
"We should pack," Nathan says, lifting her to stand on shaking legs. He sounds distant already, even as he zips up his pants, and his lips are still red from where she kissed him. She bends down to pick up her sweater, pulling it roughly over her head. "We'll leave tonight."
She doesn't look at him as she leaves; stares at the now-empty chair for a beat, takes a slow, deep breath. They'll have time to talk about it later, maybe. For now, they still have work to do.