disclaimer: I do not own Honey and Clover.


nicotine (nk-tn)

A colorless, poisonous compound occurring naturally in the tobacco plant. It is used in medicine and as an insecticide, and it is the substance in tobacco products to which smokers can become addicted. Nicotine is an alkaloid. Chemical formula: C10H14N2.

Once upon a time, she laughed a lot. Once upon a time, her silence was contentment and not despair. Once upon a time, her laughter and his were real, not vague dreams her consciousness pulls up so that she'd always remember.

"We'll both die young." she had said, in a flippant manner so unlike her. "You have caused both of our lungs to suffer enough."

Once upon a time, she wouldn't find herself sprawled on an unfamiliar bed. She wouldn't find the boy sleeping beside her, his hand resting possessively on her hip.
Such a silly boy, she smiled a little fondly as she removed his hand. She sat up, and examined the bed. Her clothes were on the floor, his shirt was on the edge of the bed along with his jeans.
A certain curiosity overwhelmed her as she saw the shirt. She moved to touch it, brought it around her shoulders. Wearing a man's shirt semmed like an intimate thing to do, but her normal hesitation was gone.

Would that smell still linger hours after Mayama-kun had smoked?
She brought the collar to her nose and sniffed.
Relief and devastation hit her like a wrecking ball, the force of it was much that she couldn't pull up her feeble wall of numbness in time.

Mayama-kun had taken the hint.
There was no longer any smell of nicotine. The shirt smelled of the new perfume he had bought. Perhaps noticing her particular aversion to him after he smoked?
She had never told him, but of course he had noticed. When was she ever going to be fair to him? Why did she fail when she tried?
Has she ever not hurt him?

She searched his pockets for a cigarette in a frenzy that accompanied her devastation. She found it in the pocket of his jeans and lit it, watching the end burn. The smell of sweat and nicotine- the smell of searing familiarity and yearning, and a knockdown of loss.

"The amount of passive smoking you do, Rika, you are as good as a smoker." Harada had laughed.

She watched the smoke rise, her hands trembled as she took in another drag, he is here, he is here.

She started as she realised Mayama-kun's eyes were open. "How long were you awake?"

"About the time you reached for my jeans." he replied, watching her with an inscrutable expression. "I always did wonder why you never wanted to be near me after I had smoked."

She didn't know what to say, to explain or comfort or to smooth away the painful expression on his face with her fingertips.
He sat up, a little awkwardly and she was very aware of his youth, his vulnerability and the pain she is saddling him with as he said, "I asked Sensei about it. He told me that the only time he has seen you smoke was on Harada-sensei's death anniversary. I suppose he thought that would help me figure it out."

He laughed mirthlessly, a hope he knew was a fantasy crushed. He had known better, but hope, as always was going to be a double edged sword.
She replied, her eyes filled with unshed tears. "He smelled of nicotine."
As his laughter subsided, he sat quietly beside her and let her smoke in silence, let her revel in her own world. As she stubbed the cigarette, he said, "I figured that out."

Once upon a time, she never would have felt the need to smoke, once upon a time, the laughter she heard was never tainted with hurt and disillusionment. Once upon a time, she was certain she would be alright but now, she wasn't sure she'd ever be. Once upon a time, she was alive, but now she'll live.

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