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let's be friends (so we can make out)

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Like most of Nico’s troubles, it all starts with Nozomi.

Nico’s leaving her afternoon class after a particularly pleasant hour of daydreaming, when she spots her, leaning suspiciously against the wall (or, okay, she’s checking her phone, but there’s something suspicious about it. Nico can just tell.)

Nico’s asked Nozomi several times to stick to her own department, because everyone already thinks they're dating, and Nico's in her final year now. She's never going to have one last college fling with a campus cutie before graduating and facing up to the realities of adult life if Nozomi and her intimidatingly large bust are always around encouraging rumours. But does that stop Nozomi? Can anything stop Nozomi?

She greets Nico with a cryptic smile.

“I need your help with something,” she says.

“Sorry,” Nico says, “I’m busy.”

She pushes on her sunglasses and steps outside into the courtyard. Unfortunately for Nico and her tiny useless legs, Nozomi falls into step with her super easily.

“You know that bar I went to before?” she says. “That nice one that I said you'd like?”

“You mean the one where you bumped into that blonde girl you’ve been totally into for months?” Nico says, cheerfully.

Nozomi's cheeks turn pink. Got her.

“Coincidentally, I think it might be that one…”

"What do you want, Nozomi?" Nico asks, flatly.

“Well… we’ve been messaging each other quite a bit recently and Elicchi mentioned she's going to be there tonight and it'd be wonderful if we could cross paths again, only it’s all very casual, so I can’t exactly turn up alone...”

Nico stops walking, hands sharp on her hips.

“Let me guess. You want me to all drop my plans and come with you?”

Nozomi beams. “Wouldnt that be fun? You're not working today, are you?”

Sometimes Nico wishes she wasn’t cursed cursed with a thoughtful and attentive roommate that actually pays attention to her schedule.

“No,” Nico says. “You know Fridays are reserved for idol updates and my ten step skincare routine. Besides, who would poor Nico hang out with while you're busy getting busy?”

“Ah, well, that’s the best part! Elicchi has this friend and I think you'd like her. She's cute. A little reserved, maybe, and a little bit overprotective, so I just thought... if there was someone who could warm her up a little, someone who can make anyone smile, then I’m sure that’d be so beneficial for everyone involved-”

“Hold up,” Nico interrupts. "Are you asking me to be your wingman? Because I am totally not up for distracting some annoying friend while you make your moves-”

Nozomi gasps in mock disbelief. “That's such a callous way of putting it, Nicocchi. It’s not like that at all. I’m just asking you to join me for a fun evening. We could get ready together now? You know you're much better at makeup I am.”

She smiles so enthusiastically that Nico weakens. She does like to make people smile, after all, plus it is their final year. If Nozomi’s found someone special, who is Nico to stop their sickening romance from blossoming?

“So this friend,” Nico sighs. “What’s she like?”

 ***

 

From the moment they step into the small bar, Nico knows it's not her scene. It's thankfully not gross or sticky or crammed with creepy old men (thank god for girl’s night), but it is kind of pretentious, and Nico gets the sense that her limited budget probably won't get her much more than a drink or two in a place like this. It's crowded with well-dressed people, but in a smug-young-professionals and an arty-grad-student kind of way, not nearly on par with the effortlessly stylish look that Nico works hard to achieve. The atmosphere could be livened up a lot if someone turned on some decent music and maybe invested some strobe lighting, but Nico gets the feeling that’s probably not going to happen anytime soon.

Nozomi scans the room briefly, then she takes Nico's arm and guides her decisively through the crowd. Nico spots a tall round table where the only blonde in the room is seemingly engaged in a riveting conversation with someone - a redhead? - Nico can’t tell if she’s cute from just the back of her head.

The blonde stops talking when they’re close and waves a dainty hand.

“Elicchi,” Nozomi beams, sliding up by their table. “What a nice surprise!”

Elicchi smiles at them and Nico smiles back automatically. She's intimidatingly pretty, if you're into that whole perfect figure, ice-cool model good looks kind of thing. (Not that Nico gets intimidated easily. She's far too confident for that.)

The redhead sitting across from her turns to look at them.

The smile drops right off Nico’s face.

The friend, as it turns out, is also stupidly pretty. The kind of girl that might make Nico's heart flutter and her whole body go ohhhh if she was meeting her for the first time.

Here’s the issue though: she’s not.

Nico has met her before and her whole body had gone ohhhh and they’d flirted for a good thirty minutes right before things had ended so disastrously that… no. Nico can't even go there. Of course, that was months ago, and she'd blocked the brief ordeal quite effortlessly from her memory and never given it a second thought.

Or at least she hadn’t, until Nozomi linked her arm and dragged her head first into the fiery depths of hell.

But it can’t really be her, can it? There’s no way the universe would be that cruel. Nico’s not a bad person. Her cuteness contributes a lot to society. She's loved by kids and small animals alike. She doesn't deserve this. It must be a twin sister. A doppelganger. A clone!

Nico spends a long moment staring in disbelief at her smooth skin and her soft blouse, at the precise way that her red hair flicks and curls.

It’s definitely her and she’s infuriatingly hotter than Nico remembered and before Nico has time to react and race towards the nearest exit, she accidentally makes full eye contact with Nishikino Maki.

Her violet eyes widen in recognition. Her pretty mouth curls into a frown.

And wow, she looks super pissed off.

Nico wants to scowl right back, but Elicchi starts introducing herself and Maki, completely oblivious to the total change in mood. Nico pastes on her best smiles and insists that Yazawa’s way too formal, and gets a please, call me Eli in response and Nico would be quick to conclude that Eli seems nice, if it wasn't for her questionably poor taste in friends.

At least Maki’s texting furiously which makes it easy to avoid eye contact.

Everything’s fine. Everything's perfectly under control.

And then some drunk crashes into Nozomi’s back and she has to go and make a comment about how crowded it is.

“You should join us,” Eli says, just like Nico feared she would. “You’d probably struggle to find space anywhere else.”

“How kind,” Nozomi chirps. She glances hesitantly at Maki. “As long as we’re not intruding.”

“It's fine,” Eli says. “Right, Maki?”

Maki looks up from her phone.

“I don’t care,” she says.

But the way she looks at Nico is a warning, her sharp glare ice cold. Nico's not one to back down from a challenge, but she'd also probably prefer diving headfirst into a pit of blood thirsty lions to taking a seat next to her.

“A-Actually,” Nico says, “I just realised I forgot my... money! Yeah, that was it. Nico’s so silly and forgetful sometimes. So, anyway, I'd better go back home and grab it-”

Nozomi wraps a firm arm around her shoulder and squeezes.

Nonsense,” she says. “We just got here. I can buy you drinks.”

Nozomi smiles insistently and attempts to nudge her towards a chair. Nico shoots her a desperate look which she hopes communicates the disaster that will occur if she takes a seat. She digs the heels of her nicest boots firmly into the floor, but Nozomi keeps on pushing until she wins - because Eli’s blinking at them in concern and there's that whole social obligation thing, plus Nozomi’s arms are quite a bit stronger than Nico's and it just gets kind of embarrassing after a while.

So that's how Nico ends up reluctantly perched on the edge of a tall chair at a round table, wishing her legs were long enough to reach to footrest and that she paid more attention in math so she could work out the probability of sudden death (hers or Maki's, either would work) because at least then she’d have something to look forward to.

Nico chances a swift glance in Maki’s direction. She's staring blankly ahead, not making any effort to join Nozomi and Eli in examining the drinks menu or to acknowledge Nico's existence, which is just fine by Nico. She's twirling a piece of hair around her finger and she looks about as pleased to be alive as Nico does, so... that's one thing they have in common at the very least.

Nico's still assessing the situation when Maki looks over at her. Her eyes dart down and then back up again, in a manner that Nico guesses is maybe supposed to come across as insulting, but really just makes it seem like Maki’s checking her out. Nico shifts and her high waisted skirt rides just a little higher on her thighs. Maki looks down again and this time her gaze lingers.

Nico smirks. So Maki still finds her attractive, despite everything. Interesting. 

Maki turns her head forcefully away and she sighs, loud and theatrical enough to make Nozomi and Eli look up in concern.

“I know," Nozomi chirps. "We should share some fun facts and get to know each other better! I bet you’d never guess that Maki here’s the youngest, would you, Nicocchi?”

“That’s right,” Eli says, when neither Nico or Maki respond. “Maki’s two years younger than me, but we take some of the same classes because she's so smart. And she’s really good at music. You like music too, right Nico?”

“Correct,” Nico says, brightly. “I like all kinds of music! Though I especially love-”

“Idols,” Maki says flatly.

“Ahh,” Nozomi says, blinking in surprise. “Have you two met before?”

“You could say that,” Nico says, with a harsh, false laugh.

“Could you?” Maki says, voice irritatingly uninterested. “I barely remember you.”

Nico hmphs. “Well, I don't remember you either. What was your name again?”

Maki sighs in exasperation. “Eli just said it.”

Eli blinks, glancing between them. “Am I missing something here?”

“I want a drink,” Nozomi says loudly. “In fact, I think everyone could use one. Elicchi, come help?”

“I’ll help!” Nico says, at the same time as Maki says, “I'll buy my own.”

“You two just stay here and guard the table, okay?” Nozomi says. “It'll give you chance to get… reintroduced.”

Nico shoots her a desperate don’t do this to me look, and she's half-tempted to fling herself off her chair and cling to Nozomi’s legs like a desperate child on her first day of pre-school, but she decides not to in the end, because it’s quite a long way down, and smacking her nose against the sticky floor probably wouldn’t improve on how terribly this evening's turning out.

Nozomi smiles and leads a confused looking Eli away to the bar like the traitor she is. Nico's going to kill her later. But first she has to deal with this.

Nico takes a soothing breath and allows herself a hesitant glance sideways. Maki’s on her phone again, and it’s angled just far enough to the side that Nico's sure she must be bitching about her. (Rude.)

Nico clears her throat. Maki looks up. Something about the way she looks at Nico makes her pulse speed up but, like, because she's so annoying. Not for any other weird reasons, that's for sure.

“So this is great, huh?” Nico says flatly. “My friend and your friend.”

“Sorry,” Maki says, “I’m not interested.”

Nico slams her hand down so forcefully that it actually hurts. “I’m not interested! Who implied I was?”

“You spoke to me,” Maki says, crossing her arms tightly. “And I’d be much happier if you never did that again.”

“Yeah, well, the feeling’s mutual, Nishikino. I'd love to be literally anywhere else right now.”

“Then leave,” Maki shrugs.

You leave.”

“I was here first. You sat at my table.”

Nico opens her mouth to protest but Maki's kind of got her there. “I didn't want to,” she mutters, defensively.

Nico watches Maki twirl the stem of her empty glass between her long fingers. She has nice hands, Nico notices, which is so stupid, because nothing about Maki is nice. Can a person even have nice hands?

Look,” Nico says. “At this point we’re kind of socially obligated to suffer through this drink, so let’s just get it over with quick so we can get the hell out of here.”

Maki’s hand jerks. She catches her glass just before it hits the table.

“I-I said I'm not interested!”

No,” Nico says quickly. “Oh my god, I don't mean together. I just meant that those two clearly want to be alone, so we should give them some space.” She feels her cheeks heat up. “Separately.”

Maki frowns, but she still looks kind of flustered.

“Eli’s not interested either,” she says.

“Are you serious? I’ve been here for like ten seconds and it’s so obvious. Look.”

She gestures over at the two of them, standing close together by the bar.

Maki glances over and then crinkles her nose in disgust. “I don't think so.”

“Are you jealous or something?”

“No way! It’s just that Toujou’s always hanging around. It’s annoying. She's weird.”

“Wow,” Nico says. “So jealous. So are you actually into Eli? You do like sophisticated older women, if I recall?”

Nico flicks her hair gracefully over her shoulder and pouts attractively. This time Maki's glass really does hit the table, and a few melted ice cubes slide out as it lands with a dull clunk.

“Y-You definitely don't count as a sophisticated older woman if that's what you're implying,” Maki says, as she clears up the mess. “And just to be clear, I was never interested.” Nico hums in disagreement. Maki firmly ignores her. “It’s not like that with Eli. I just figured anyone who’s friends with you must be a total nightmare. She can do better.”

“Okay,” Nico says. “First of all, you didn’t know we were friends until, like, seven seconds ago and I heard you’ve been giving Nozomi a hard time for weeks, and second, Nozomi may be a pain but she’s also super nice so lay off her, okay? They’re clearly into each other, so let them have some fun and maybe finally take that stick out of your a-ahhh! Welcome back, you two! Whoa, is that for Nico? Thank you~”

Maki’s face is sour as Nico graciously accepts her fruity-looking cocktail without even asking what it is. She takes a large gulp and it burns her mouth a little, more strong than sweet, but she probably needs at least six straight shots of vodka to deal with such an irritating, stuck up, unjustly attractive snob.

A snob who’s ruining the atmosphere with her silent seething and generally unwelcoming presence and quickly destroying any hopes Nico had for a pleasant evening.

Things weren't always this way. They didn't start out so disastrously.

Nico first met her months ago on a dull evening in a dingy little college bar. It was a place that lacked charm, but Nico had just finished nailing all five of her lines in a musical theatre spectacular, and she was feeling so euphoric and looking so good in her stage makeup that when Honoka asked her to join everyone for a drink or two after the performance she happily accepted. Nico was waiting as the slowest bar staff in the world took six years to serve all three of the people in front of her, and she sighed impatiently at the exact same moment as the person waiting beside her sighed impatiently, and when Nico turned to look, that was it. She was totally done for.

She was probably one of the hottest girls that Nico had ever laid eyes on, and Nico had admittedly spent at least half of her life watching every publicly documented move of idols that were so attractive that sometimes she could barely function. It wasn't just the way her vibrant red hair framed her classically pretty features, or the way her style was so simple, yet somehow so effortlessly polished. There was something about the way she carried herself, with a confidence that might be intimidating to some, with a self-assurance that Nico rarely noticed in people other than, well, herself.

The hot girl tapped a neatly manicured nail against her tightly folded arms and turned to Nico and rolled her eyes in an unspoken can you believe this? and Nico couldn't. A beautiful girl who she’d never seen around before (because surely she would've remembered that hair and those legs and that face) had just dropped out of nowhere like a gift from the gods and she was holding Nico's gaze with a warm curiosity that suggested she might not be completely uninterested.

Nico stepped forward and introduced herself with a warm smile, because her life goals have always included having every cute girl on the planet know her name, and Nishikino Maki introduced herself in this soft, raspy voice, and the guy at the bar finally leaned over to ask Nico what she wanted, but suddenly everyone else in the room had seemed irrelevant. It was a real struggle to look away.

A few simple questions and Nico knew all she needed to know: Nishikino was a tiny baby who'd just started her second year, she was a med student forced into an evening of mandatory socialisation by her classmates, and she was so attractive that Nico was hoping to spend the next hour or, like, maybe a good chunk of the rest of her life staring at her stupidly pretty face.

Nico insisted right away there was no need for formalities even though she was an older student (“No really,” she insisted. “I am older”) and Maki’s cheeks turned pink when Nico boldly called her by her first name because she liked the way it sounded on her tongue. She was just warming up to full charm-mode when an idiot rudely crashed into her back and spilled half of the drink that she just spent ten years of her precious life waiting to acquire right onto her adorable, affordable shoes.

“This place is terrible and I’m leaving,” Nico said through gritted teeth, retaining some class and composure because she's a Yazawa and hello, she was trying to impress. “Wanna join me?”

Maki glanced across the room to the table where her classmates were presumably sitting. Nico watched her consider her options and for a brief moment, she was sure she’d say no.

But then Maki had smiled - a little hesitant, a lot adorable.

“Let me get my jacket,” she said, and she promptly downed her drink and deposited her empty glass onto the bar and Nico melted - just a tiny bit - at how cool she seemed.

They ended up at a homely and affordable little Western-style restaurant down the street, sitting across from each other at a sticky table with some very reasonably priced drinks and food, because Nico hadn’t eaten since lunch and she was starting to feel a little lightheaded.

There was a lingering sense of awkwardness in a quieter space with less distractions. Nico got the sense that maybe Maki was a little shy, like she didn’t often go for impromptu dinners with (devastatingly adorable) upperclassmen, but Nico's raw beauty and appeal had just been too much to resist after suffering through drinks with people who talk about, what, bones and blood and stuff? (Yuck.)

Nico chatted through the silence, like the charismatic people person she is, and Maki fumbled nervously with her cutlery and watched her with a warm gaze and Nico hadn’t even turned her Nico-Nico appeal up to maximum yet, but somehow things were going so well that it kind of actually made her nervous.

And then they started talking about music.

Naturally, Nico launched into her extensive and unrivaled knowledge about idols, and Maki mentioned her private piano tutor, how she'd practically grown up in her (multiple!) music rooms, but that wasn't the problem. The problem started when Maki expressed a venomous distaste for any music that wasn't composed by the dinosaurs themselves, dismissing idols and the entire musical theatre department as tacky nonsense and not real music with a flick of her manicured hand. Things spiralled swiftly downhill from there.

(So very far downhill.)

Nico tried to be civil at first, it’d be fair to say that they both did, but it’s always a struggle, when someone’s so completely wrong that there’s no other choice but to correct them. Nico would've been more open to accepting Maki’s entirely incorrect opinions if she'd been more gracious about it, less irritatingly snobby. Nico had missed all the early warning signs - the designer purse and the expensive haircut, the way she pointed at the most expensive drink on the wine list when Nico had gone for the cheapest, even the name Nishikino - it all clicked into place too late. She didn't realise she was dealing with a rich daddy’s girl princess snob. She'd been blinded by beauty and she expected a full refund.

Their polite disagreement soon descended into a full blown argument, and the voice Nico thought sounded so enchanting and melodic suddenly sounded harsh and bossy. Maybe without the drinks it would’ve been easier to remain civil. Maybe they should’ve just stopped talking and agreed to disagree when the other customers started looking concerned and the entire team of waiting staff shuffled over to hover awkwardly near their table.

Maybe Nishikino Maki should've been less of an unbearable, arrogant ass.

Nico didn't mean to stand up with enough force to knock the table and send an almost entire plate of spaghetti in a thick red tomato sauce spilling onto the pristine white skirt of her dinner companion.

In hindsight, maybe sneering, “that’s what you get for insulting idols,” and storming out of the front door hadn’t been the most intelligent, ladylike move she could’ve made at that point, but she stands by her intentions. She doesn’t regret it. Her only regret is not sticking around to find out how much the tomato sauce stained.

So, sure, okay, maybe it hadn’t been her finest moment, but Nico hadn’t expected to ever see her again. She was perfectly content to just forget the whole thing ever happened and move along swiftly with her life.

And then of all the people in the whole damn country she could’ve ended up sitting next to, it just had to be her.

Now, Nico’s willing to suffer through a couple of passive aggressive comments for Nozomi, because she’s a selfless and loving friend. She can handle the hostile glares because she’s got plenty of those to give right back. She’s completely willing to demonstrate that she’s the older and more mature one here, because Nico’s a levelheaded treasure, and it's not like she doesn't deal with unreasonable drama queens most days in the theatre department.

She's willing to suffer through one drink (but no more!) for her best friend, because at least Maki smells nice, like expensive perfume and scented bath products, the kind that Nico’s sure would set her back a good chunk of her monthly rent if she even dared to look at a bottle.

Nico's suffering through it just fine, thanks, and then she’s showing Nozomi and Eli photos of the costumes she made with Kotori for their winter performance and Maki just has to lean forward to poke her perfectly shaped nose where it’s not welcome.

She even has the nerve to scoff.

“Is there a problem?” Nico asks, with a sweet tone and a forced smile.

Nozomi and Eli exchange a look.

No,” Maki says, mimicking Nico’s fake sweetness. “I was just thinking that white material stains easily. Watch out for pasta sauce, okay?”

Nico’s smile stretches tighter. “Pasta sauce is easily avoided if you don't pick fights.”

"Well, fights are easily avoided when people have the decency to apologise when they’re wrong,” Maki snaps back.

“Maybe people would be more willing to apologise if you had a better attitude? Just saying.”

“Maybe people would like you better if you appreciated the value of their possessions.”

“Oh please,” Nico hisses, throwing up her hands. “Like you couldn’t afford to just buy another skirt.”

Maki opens her mouth to respond, but Nico puts her hand on Nozomi’s arm.

“Nozomi,” she says, with a smile that’s ninety percent gritted teeth. “Bathroom?”

Nozomi’s barely left her chair when Nico takes her arm and maneuvers her swiftly across the bar. They barely make it to the mirrors before Nico snaps.

“I can’t believe you did this to me! That’s spaghetti girl, by the way. Remember, that girl I went out to dinner with who I ditched with the bill and a lap full of tomato sauce? Yep, that’s her.”

“Oh my,” Nozomi says, covering her mouth with her hand. “Well, that certainly explains all that... hostility.”

Nico prods her shoulder with a sharp finger.

“Don’t you dare laugh! This is serious. She hates me. She wants me dead. She’s probably poisoning my drink as we speak. ”

Nozomi grips onto a sink and collapses into giggles, and Nico practically growls at her to stop but that doesn't help anything, if anything it just makes things worse.

“This isn’t funny!” Nico whines. “I can’t stand her. She’s so full of herself and annoying and I am this close to storming out of here and going home, so can you just make a move already so I can leave?”

Nozomi stops giggling and her face goes all gross and dreamy.

“I was thinking of asking Elicchi to take a walk...” she says shyly.

“Great. Amazing. You have ten minutes,” Nico says. “Ten minutes then I'm leaving and you can take your romantic stroll with Nishikino tagging along behind you.”

Nozomi nods with fierce determination. “I guess I'll do my best then.”

“You’d better. Next time have more confidence in yourself and ask Eli out like a normal person, okay? Don't drag poor Nico into all this.”

Nozomi pats her shoulder softly.

“I'm sorry, Nicocchi. I really did have no idea. But who knows," she says thoughtfully, "Maybe there's a reason for the two of you meeting again?"

"Don't," Nico says. "Don't even go there."

Nozomi hums. “But it is a shame the two of you can't get along. Maki’s cute, right?”

“I said don’t. You saw how things were. She may be hot, but she’s a total nightmare.”

Nozomi just smiles. “A piece of work, huh. That sounds so familiar.”

Nico rolls her eyes and pushes Nozomi towards the door. Nozomi turns back and smiles.

"I really do appreciate this, Nicocchi. I feel more so much more confident when you’re here with me.”

Her eyes are so soft and warm that Nico can't hate her for it. It's not her fault Maki's unbearable.

“Yeah, well,” Nico says, her cheeks heating up. “Don’t think being mushy means you don’t owe me. I won’t forget, you know! Now, get going before I turn my charms up to maximum and your girlfriend falls for Nico instead.”

***

 

It's a smoothly executed plan, where Nozomi shyly suggests that the river is beautiful at night, and Eli softly implies that she'd like to see it, and Nico puts her arm around Maki’s shoulder and smiles a big false grin and says, “Don’t worry, I’ll look after her.”

Nico's completely taken aback when Maki doesn't furiously protest against it all and ruin everything. In fact, she goes as far as to reassure Eli that it's okay and she'll speak to her later. Nico doesn’t have to use her cleverly thought out backup plan, and Maki doesn’t even attempt to break Nico's arm when she touches her, though her shoulders do tense under the heat of Nico’s touch. She does look about as happy as a kid in a dentist’s chair as Nozomi and Eli say their goodbyes, but she doesn’t try to stop them leaving, which Nico can’t help but find incredibly suspicious.

And then it’s just Nico, Maki and a thick, awkward silence.

“So,” Nico says, “I guess you're not into Eli after all?”

Maki sighs dramatically. “I already said I wasn't!”

“I’m just… kind of surprised? I wasn’t expecting you to let them leave.”

“Well, it’s like you said. Eli’s my friend. I don't want her to be unhappy. Seeing you tonight made me realise that… maybe Toujou isn’t so bad.”

Nico’s raises her eyebrows and her heart speeds up a little. Are they having a moment? God, after everything, does - does Maki want to be friends?

“I mean, Eli could be dating you. That’d be way more horrifying.”

Nico huffs loudly. She hops down off her chair. Maki’s a dick and there’s no further reasons for her to stick around. She's so done here.

“Thank you for the terrible evening,” she says, sweetly, with a big false smile. “Let’s never do this again, okay?”

“Gladly,” Maki says, and she stands up too. “Hopefully I won't see you around.”

Nico watches as she bends to pick up her fancy bag, and she hadn’t noticed before, how tight Maki’s designer jeans are, how long her stupid legs look with those heels, how nicely her blouse complements her skin tone and the way her bra is kind of almost visible through the thin material (honestly). And it's not like Nico’s trying to look or anything, she’s just a naturally observant person, which an asset to society if you think about it and wow, is it hot in here? Nico’s mouth is kind of dry.

“Well,” Nico says, because she's definitely departing. Any second now.

Maki meets her eyes and it's not friendly or anything, but it's something and it’s forceful and it stops Nico from leaving though she desperately wants to. Maybe there’s some weird social obligation when your friends are soon-to-be banging. Maybe Nico’s just pissed that Maki has the nerve to look her in the eye so unapologetically when she’s so rude (when she’s so hot.)

Maybe, as much as Nico thinks Maki is terrible and arrogant, there’s something fun about getting under her skin, and the thought of never seeing her again seems kind of… disappointing? No, that can’t be it. Absolutely not.

Nico’s chewing on her lip and delaying her inevitable departure by thinking of the perfect witty and insulting comment to end things on, but Maki looks away before she can say anything. She takes out her phone and starts to make a call and Nico hears her asking someone if they’re around as she turns and steps away.

Nico wonders who she’s talking to, though of course she doesn't actually care.

She sighs in relief. She ignores the sinking feeling in her stomach. She’ll never have to deal with her again.

Thank god that's over.

She strides powerfully towards the door, and she’s so ready to go home and enjoy what’s left of her night. She’s can’t wait to relax and enjoy a peaceful evening without Nozomi and - wait. Nozomi. She hadn't previously considered the possibility that their little walk might end up back at the apartment. Eli had seemed nice and all, but Nico would rather go blind than walk in on the two of them making out on the couch and she can't cope with the possibility of them stumbling in all giddy and lovestruck when Nico’s unwinding in her facemask and her pyjamas.

Nico sends Nozomi a message, asking her to be a good friend and respectfully keep a safe distance away from their apartment. She does owe Nico, after all.

Nozomi replies several long moments later with a highly irritating ‘no guarantees’, followed up by an angel emoji and a winking face, and it's not like Nico's counting on her actually making a move if tonight's anything to go by, but is she really willing to take the risk?

Nico sighs and glances back across the bar. Maki’s still on her phone, but surely she'll be leaving soon. Nico thinks she could probably pass the time by chatting with a cutie and flaunting her appeal a little. Maybe she'll leave with someone way hotter than Maki just to prove that she totally canMaybe that will do something about the weird twisting feeling in her stomach.

She heads to the bar and flashes a wide smile at the girl behind it. It’s not like she’s spent any money yet. Her weekly budget will allow her a drink or two. She might as well attempt to have a good time.

***

 

The drinks goes down nicely and Nico’s limbs feel lighter and the music gets livelier and she’s surrounded by cute girls and suddenly everything's great. She thinks Maki might be still around somewhere, chatting with a couple of cute short-haired girls, but of course Nico doesn't have the time to glance over and confirm. She's way too busy having a wonderful time, thanks a lot for asking.

So, okay, the eye contact thing is a bit weird. Maki definitely makes eye contact with her at least nine out of the ten times when Nico has accidentally glanced in her general direction, and isn’t that kind of pathetic? Nico knows she’s an eleven in a room full of sixes, and that Maki had been drawn to Nico’s charms and her angelic good looks from the moment she’d first laid eyes on her, but shouldn’t Maki think of the spaghetti and get over her painfully embarrassing crush? Nico’s one hundred percent not interested.

But another thing that pisses Nico off is the way that Maki’s bopping her head along to a song that's super popular right now, because didn't she totally look down on this kind of music before? Is everything she says dishonest? And of course, it’s not like Nico's specifically looking at her - it’s just a small bar. There are limited focal points. It’s purely coincidental. Really, Maki's the one who should stay out of Nico's line of sight.

Nico's perfectly happy though. She's having and wonderful time, thanks. She bumps into a cute girl from her class, and they have a nice polite conversation and Nico's barely even aware of the fact that Maki’s lingering nearby, chatting with a dark haired girl who’s cute, sure, if you’re into that not-as-hot-as-Nico type. Everything's going as well as can be, until Nico's classmate leaves to get another drink at the exact same moment that Maki looks over (oh god, stop staring) and Nico realises she’s standing all alone like a loser, and that just won't do.

She steps out and strikes her signature pose at the first attractive person that walks by.

“Don't you just love this song?” she says, in a voice that's both cute and sophisticated.

The girl tucks a strand of long blue hair behind her ear and blinks, seemingly too baffled (or too in awe of Nico's beauty) to reply.

“Are you having a nice night?” Nico asks quickly, in a manner that's one hundred percent adorable and not the slightest bit desperate. “It’s fun here, right? I’m just going to the bar actually, did you want anything?”

The girl’s face twists awkwardly. “I appreciate the offer, but I'm.... fine. Thank you.”

“Just one drink?” Nico asks, with a gentle but firm hand on her arm. “You don’t even have to drink it. Just humour me for like five minutes? It might sound crazy, but Nico’s life kind of depends on it.”

“I’m sorry,” the girl says, tugging her arm back, “I have somewhere to be. Please, um, excuse me-”

“No, uh. Wait-”

Nico watches her push her way through the crowd.

When she turns back, Maki's right in front of her with her long legs and her stupid, perfect face. There’s something different about the way she holds herself, like she’s even more irritatingly confident. Her glass is empty. Her cheeks are flushed pink.

Her dark haired girl has gone.

Nico's pulse thrums.

“Oh, hey, thanks a bunch,” Nico says. “You totally scared her off.”

Maki takes a step closer.

“I think you managed that yourself,” she says. There's that smirk again. God, she’s so smug.

“Yeah, well, you’ve been putting me off all night. How’s Nico meant to talk to girls when Maki’s watching her every move like a stalker?”

“Stalker?” Maki echoes, incredulously. “You’re the one staring. You’ve barely taken your eyes off me.”

Maki holds her gaze, and Nico feels her cheeks heat up. Her heart flips. Shit.

“Uhhh, you wish. Geez, you’re so full of yourself.”

“You’re so annoying.”

“You’re so-” Nico forgets how to speak, because suddenly Maki’s really close. “You’re so-”

Maki’s fingers curl around her arm. Nico hates the way it makes her skin burn hot.

“Why aren't you leaving?” she asks, sharp eyes searching Nico’s, gaze hot and invasive. “I don’t get you. It's like you're trying to torture me or something.”

Her fingers grip tighter on Nico's arm. Nico’s whole body tenses - from anger, from anticipation.

“I could ask you the same thing,” Nico says, and she looks up at Maki, all fierce and challenging.

Maki huffs out an impatient breath. She’s so close that Nico feels it.

“Go home,” she says, voice low and deliberately even.

Nico leans in. “Make me,” she hisses.

Maki closes the space between them so suddenly that Nico jerks back on instinct. Unfortunately, it's a crowded room, so she stumbles right back into a harmless looking girl with a full cocktail glass which slips out of her hand and spills across the hard floor in a ear-splitting crash of glass that's audible even over the music.

People turn to stare. A security guy appears within seconds. His arms are probably bigger than Nico’s entire body.

“Time to leave,” he says. “Both of you.”

Nico lets out an affronted gasp. She doesn't even have time to apologise and offer to replace the spilled drink, because the two of them are swiftly manhandled outside into the cold air with a brief, stern telling off about strict no-fighting policies and it's beyond humiliating (doesn’t he know who Nico is).

“I hope you’re happy,” Nico sneers, when the guy has finally given them a break. “I’ve got a reputation to protect and you just ruined it.”

“Oh, I ruined it?" Maki scoffs. "That was my fault? God, you’re the most infuriating person I’ve ever met.”

“Sorry I have a loveable personality and I’m not a complete snob.

“Loveable? Are you kidding? You’re loud and annoying and completely reckless!”

“Reckless, huh?” Nico wets her lips.

She takes a step closer and Maki's eyes get wider and before she can stop herself, Nico’s fingers are in her hair and her mouth is on hers, all desperate and messy, and Nico's not sure what she’s expecting, but it’s definitely not for Maki to kiss her back. Her mouth is soft and then her teeth are digging into Nico’s bottom lip and it’s rough and kind of painful and Nico is really, desperately into it. Oh god, she’s into this. She should probably be having some kind of personal crisis over how much this is working for her because - damn, this is not right. This should be illegal.

“Ladies,” a threatening voice says from behind them. “Last warning.”

They shift apart forcefully, and Nico blinks as her surroundings come back into focus. Busy street. Girl she loathes. Overly patronising security guy. It’s fucked up, but Nico doesn’t even have the energy to pretend she's sorry. She’s too busy staring at Maki's smeared lipstick.

She wants to tell the stupid security guy that if he spent less time being a dick and more time learning how to read a mood his customer service would improve greatly. She’d also like to dig her teeth into Maki's skin and maybe go down on her at the soonest opportunity, if she's honest.

Nico takes Maki's hand and tugs her down the street, not even sparing the stupid security guy an apologetic glance.

“Okay,” says Nico, a little breathlessly, “so uhhh-”

“I live close,” Maki says. “About ten minutes away?”

Ohhh,” Nico nods. “That's good. Good location. Must be… handy for class?”

“I'm heading there now,” Maki says, with a long, lingering look.

Nico’s breath catches in her throat. She feels a hot spike of heat in her stomach. She hears Maki's footsteps echo on the pavement.

“Walk me back, if you want,” Maki calls out, without looking back.

Nico takes a shaky breath. She should stop and think about this logically. After all, it’s Maki. No good can come of this, can it?

She thinks about that kiss and her heart gives a stuttering lurch.

Maki takes at most ten steps before Nico catches up with her.

***

 

It feels like way longer than ten minutes with her heeled boots and the lingering mix of awkwardness and anticipation. She’s walking back with Maki and this could easily be a trap where she seeks revenge for the whole spaghetti thing, and it bothers Nico, that she doesn’t know which photo they’d use on the evening news on the tragic occasion where her lifeless body is found in a dark alley somewhere, and she’s too young to die, too pretty. She can’t have her legacy end with a terrible headline like SPAGHETTI KILLER: IT’S PASTA JOKE, she refuses.

“It’s this one,” Maki says.

Nico jumps and looks up. There’s a fancy apartment block towering above them.

“Cool,” Nico says quickly. “Yeah. Good one. Looks good. Nice place.”

Maki gives her a look. The doorman gives her a look. Nico want to give herself a look, because she needs to relax. She’s the older one here. She should be the shining example of maturity, the very definition of cool and casual and experienced. It's not like she's nervous or something.

The ride up in the elevator is torturously slow and silent, and Nico fusses with her hair in the mirror, stomach twisting nervously, and she wonders if she should make small talk, if she’s meant to clarify her intentions or if it’s all kind of obvious. She sneaks a good look at Maki under the harsh, bright light. It pisses her off, how she still looks good. This kind of lighting shouldn't flatter anyone. If she just had the decency to stop being so attractive, then Nico wouldn’t be in this mess.

They step into the apartment. Maki switches on the lights, but it's low and atmospheric (dimmer switch, rich girl) and the door clicks shut. There’s a brief moment where they just look at each other in the doorway, and Nico can’t believe she’s actually here. She wonders if this is a terrible idea, if she should just excuse herself and shuffle off home to her small but stylish room where everything is cute and makes sense.

There’s a long moment where nothing happens, and then Maki takes a step closer and then another and another until she’s barely a breath away and Nico’s back is touching the cold hard door. Maki’s breath is hot on her face and she’s so close that Nico feels her tremble, and she's not sure if it’s nerves or just raw anticipation. There’s another long moment of still and static, then Nico puts her hand on Maki’s shoulder, and that goes well, so she does the same on the other side, which is also a success, and Maki looks kind of confused because, okay, shoulder touching, maybe not the height of passion, so Nico just thinks fuck it. She loops her arms around Maki’s neck and tugs her close and just kisses her hard until there’s no pretence left, just lips and teeth and tongue, and Nico melts against her like she’s so fucking easy and she doesn't even care. It’s on. It’s so on.

It takes an uncomfortable moment where Maki presses forward and Nico arches back into a sharp and pointed door handle for it to become apparent that getting off in the entrance way maybe isn’t the way forward. Nico pushes Maki back and she watches Nico breathlessly, all wide-eyed and concerned.

“I'm just taking my boots off,” Nico mutters, wobbling her way out of them as gracefully as she can manage. “Also your door just tried to get involved. So not comfy.”

She lines her boots up neatly next to Maki’s shoes because she may be visiting with impure intentions, but she’s still a perfectly polite house guest.

Maki takes a few steps back into an open living room.

“Did you want to sit?” she asks.

She gestures at a fancy looking sofa, piled with too many cushions.

Nico nods and takes a seat and looks around at the spacious apartment. It’s clean, but there’s not actually that much stuff to clutter it up, no movies or photographs, nothing more personal than a whole lot of bookshelves and some fancy artwork and a piano that's so shiny that Nico could use it as a mirror. (Again, rich girl.)

“Do you live alone?” Nico asks, because it's a big place, and for all she knows Maki could have roommates or cats or, like, oh god, what if she lives with her parents?

“Yep,” Maki says. She still standing in the middle of the room, twirling her hair between her fingers. “Just me. Did you... want anything? A drink, maybe?”

She’s frowning, all shy and concerned, which would be kind of adorable, Nico thinks, if Maki was someone who was capable of being adorable.

Nico looks at Maki, all coy and alluring.

“I didn’t come here to drink tea,” she says.

“I know. I mean. I just thought-”

“We don't have to pretend to be friends, you know," Nico says. 

She shifts on the sofa, angling her body attractively in a manner that highlights the soft curve of her hips, the way her tiny skirt barely covers the tops of her thighs, because it makes Maki look. Because it makes Nico feel hot.

It clearly works, because Maki takes a seat next to her - back perfectly straight, a respectable distance away, like her tongue hasn’t licked into Nico’s mouth twice in the past twenty minutes.

“That's a relief,” she says. Her voice is strong and confident, but Nico hears her take shaky breath.

“Nervous?” Nico murmurs.

“Not at all. It's not like I don't know what I'm doing. In fact-”

“Shut up,” Nico says. “Kiss me again.”

Maki's so much cuter when she does what she's told. Her sofa, it turns out, is also much improved when Nico’s stretched out on her back with the weight and warmth of Maki’s body on top of her.

She's more confident too, when she stops thinking about it, when Maki's mouth is soft and exactly where Nico wants it, exactly how Nico wants it - just a little too rough to be nice, no objections when Nico bites back. Her hands are hot, as they slide under Nico's shirt, when she nudges Nico's arms up so she can clumsily push it over her head, fingers fumbling with the clasp of her bra.

Maki’s eyes linger on her chest when her bra is somewhere across the room and Nico’s all exposed, and Nico has to bite her lip so she doesn’t make some mildly self-deprecating comment about her modest size and ruin the mood.

She stops worrying approximately two seconds later, because there this heat in Maki’s gaze, and her mouth is just as hot when it’s wet over Nico’s breast and, wow, Maki just goes for it, huh? Nico thought she’d keep the whole shy thing going for a bit longer, but clearly there’s a lot she doesn’t know about Maki, and that thought fills Nico with this weird, electric excitement, because she has to admit that this side of her seems a whole lot more agreeable. Nico responds to Maki so easily, she's so sensitive that it's actually embarrassing, but she doesn’t even care, because Maki's supposed to hate her but she licking down her chest, and honestly, that's kind of a rush. 

Nico makes a particularly pathetic sound when she feels the rough scrape of Maki’s teeth and she starts to feel left out because Maki’s still fully clothed, and it's not fair if she doesn't get to look too, right? It's a bit of an effort to flip them so she's on top, but it's a wide sofa and Nico can be strong when she has to be, and she smiles in satisfaction when she succeeds, when she's straddling Maki's hips. She reaches down to unfasten her pretty blouse, slowly and patiently, one button at a time, partly because her hands are trembling, but mostly because Nico appreciates a well made garment when she sees one, and she’s not a judgemental person but she’s almost certain that Maki’s the kind of girl that couldn’t sew a button back on if her life depended on it.

Her mouth goes dry when she sees Maki’s breasts in her soft lace bra, because she's so pretty and her skin is so nice that Nico kind of wants to lick it, in fact she plans to. She takes a breath as she reaches awkwardly behind her to unhook the clasp of her bra so she can tug that off too, because she might as well go for it. If this is her one chance, she’s getting a good look because, personality issues aside, how often does Nico get so close to someone that looks like this. Nico helps Maki awkwardly untangle herself from the clothes, and then the bra’s gone and Maki’s half naked and Nico feels a rush of heat as it hits her that this is swiftly progressing way beyond just making out.

Nico's eyes glide down over Maki's smooth stomach and the curve of her hips, and back up again to linger on her breasts, because hello. Maki's annoyingly perfect in just her jeans. Nico hates how much she wants her.

“Do you even know how hot you are?” Nico says, fingers trailing over her stomach. “Because it really pisses me off.”

“It's been mentioned,” Maki says, and judging by the way the corner of her lips curl up, she definitely knows.

“Wow. And she's modest too. Has anyone ever mentioned that you're the absolute worst- ”

“You say that," Maki says, "but you’ve been watching me all night, haven’t you?”

Nico feels her face heats up. “You were in my line of sight. I wasn’t trying to look.”

“You were staring. It was embarrassing. Even my friends noticed.”

Nico leans in closer, presses a finger to her lips. “You know, I like you so much better when you don’t talk.”

The corners of Maki’s lips curl up again, and it’s the closest thing to a genuine smile that Nico's seen all night. “The feelings mutual, Yazawa,” she says.

Nico leans down and scrapes her teeth against Maki’s neck, and Maki arches her hips so willingly, hot friction against Nico’s leg.

“Someone’s eager,” Nico coos.

“N-Not really,” Maki says.

She inhales sharply when Nico's hand brushes the warm skin just above the button on her jeans.

“Ohhh?” Nico murmurs. “You don’t want this? Don't want me to touch you? ”

Her hand dips between Maki's legs. She can feel the heat even through the thick denim. Maki sucks in a breath but she stays quiet, teeth digging into her bottom lip. “I bet you always get you want, don’t you? Such a princess.”

“Less talking, remember?” Maki says, then her hand grips Nico's wrist and guides it to where she wants it, and Nico's hand is down the front of her jeans, all rough denim and smooth silk underwear.

Her fingers dip lower. Maki's so wet. She gasps and Nico forgets how to breathe.

“I knew you wanted me," Nico gasps.

“Wanted you to go away,” Maki says, her voice weak and raspy.

“Wow,” Nico says. “So dishonest.”

Nico tries to move her fingers to illustrate her point, but Maki’s jeans are too tight, so she tugs at the waistband and Maki lifts her hips up off couch, all elegant and pretty so Nico can tug them off, only it's less elegant when they get stuck on her ankles (skinny jeans are the worst) and there's a mildly awkward struggle. She succeeds eventually and tosses both the jeans and her underwear across the room and squeaks in surprise when a fancy looking lamp wobbles and almost falls to the ground.

“Yazawa,” Maki hisses, grabbing her arm and her attention, all desperate and needy.

Nico leans in close. She pushes at Maki's knees and it makes her heart pound so hard, the way she spreads her legs so willingly, the way her face is so flushed and so pretty.

Nico's fingers dip lower again, teasing over her slick entrance.

“Call me Nico,” she murmurs right by her ear.

“Yazawa,” Maki moans as Nico’s finger slips inside and then out again, just like that, and up into her mouth to taste.

Maki,” she chides. “We’re not going to get anywhere if you can't follow simple instructions.”

“Yazaw-ahhhh-

It’s two fingers this time, just slow and torturous enough that Maki actually whimpers.

“Maki’s this wet for me, but she can't even say my name? Say it,” she says, pressing into wet heat so softly that she has to break soon, she has to, “Nico.”

Maki closes her eyes as Nico’s fingers go deeper, slower.

“Please,” Maki gasps out, finally. “Nico.

And that’s all Nico needs to give her what she wants, a fast pace that makes her breath hitch and her kiss rougher, makes her legs curl around Nico’s back, drawing her impossibly close, flush against her hot skin.

She prowls over Maki and goes harder, and she's so wet that Nico wants to taste her more than life itself but she also wants to stay like this, her mouth on Maki's neck, teeth digging in, leaving rough red marks on her shoulder and it’s weird, how she's never wanted anyone like this before, she’s never wanted to put someone in their place this badly, never wanted to make someone come so hard that they can't breathe anything else but Nico.

Fuck,” Maki gasps, and it’s a rush to hear her curse. “Oh my god, fuck, Nico -”

Nico's hand keeps moving as she trails kisses down her trembling body, mouth wet over her breast, tongue teasing over her nipple, teeth digging in, and Maki’s making the most obscene noises now, so much louder than Nico would've ever expected from someone so stuck up, and it occurs to Nico, suddenly, that she has to taste her right now or she’ll die.

She moves her body and moves her tongue and Maki tastes indecently good, so hot and wet across her tongue that Nico can’t even cope. It seems like only moments later that Maki's whole body is trembling, and Maki’s fingers tangle in her hair as her hips grind rough into Nico's mouth and this is the hottest moment of Nico’s entire life and she doesn't want it to end, doesn't ever want to forget the sound of Maki’s voice when she comes, raw and hoarse, gasping out Nico’s name.

Maki take a long series of deep and shuddering breaths and Nico sits up and just looks at her. She’s so messy and flushed and beautiful that Nico can't help but feel smug, because she totally did that. She did that, despite the whole pasta sauce incident, despite the fact that two hours ago they maybe kind of wanted to kill each other, which is really funny, if you think about it that way, and it makes Nico giggle a little manically.

Maki frowns at her.

"What's funny?" she asks, self-consciously. "Did I make a weird noise or something?"

"No," Nico says, and she runs her fingers down Maki's arm to reassure her, "You made lots of really good noises, actually. I was just thinking..." she shakes her head. The chances of Maki doing something about the ache between Nico's legs might lessen if she mentions that. "You know what, never mind."

"You're so weird," Maki says. She shakes her head, huffs out a breath. "That was... so good?"

Her violet eyes are so pretty and warm as she looks at Nico in a way that makes her feel way more exposed than anything that’s happened so far. Maki reaches out for Nico, pulls her back down so she can kiss her wet face, and it’s less urgent and more gentle, so weirdly sweet that it's almost like things are different, like they like each other. Maki’s mouth is soft and perfect on Nico’s neck, and it’s totally unfair. Maki’s melted into something soft and post-orgasmic and Nico’s not prepared for the way that makes her heart flutter.

“H-Hey, don’t get all sappy on me,” Nico says, nudging at her shoulder, feeling herself blush. “Nico’s been patient so far, but she has needs too, you know.”

Maki flutters her pretty lashes up at Nico. “Who says I was planning to reciprocate?”

The smirk drops off Nico's face. “You’re joking, right? Because, I mean, I'd understand if you didn't want to, but it's a once in a lifetime opportunity, getting this close to Nico, and you shouldn't deny yourself the privilege unless-"

“Stand up,” Maki orders.

There’s a confidence to her voice that makes Nico stop talking. She shifts awkwardly and climbs to her feet. Maki's stands up too and she’s all hot and naked, which is completely unfair because Nico's so wet and she’s not sure what Maki’s planning, but she really hopes she’s going to deal with that in a timely manner.

“Like I said,” Nico says. “Super rare opportunity.”

“Stop talking,” Maki says. “Please.”

Nico does just that. She's kind of stunned speechless when Maki starts sinking to her knees.

She pushes up Nico’s skirt and tugs down her underwear (thank god she's wearing cute ones) and Nico steps out of them and she's trembling because she’s so, so ready and then… nothing. A soft breath of air. A teasing, gentle kiss on her thigh.

Nico looks down, and she's almost certain she'll never forget how pretty Maki looks kneeling between her legs. She pushes her skirt down and steps out of it because she doesn’t have the patience to hold it up. She nudges her hips forward.

Maki scrapes her teeth slowly along the inside of Nico’s thigh. Nico practically growls in frustration.

“Maki,” she says. She pushes fingers through her soft hair, not too rough, but quite clearly insistent.

Maki looks up at her, long pretty lashes fluttering. “Hmm?” 

Nico takes a shaky breath as her mouth gets close and then goes for her thigh again, teeth digging in a little harder this time .

“Do you need some advice on how to do this?” Nico asks, “I can teach you, if you want.”

Her stomach flutters because she kind of likes that idea. Talking Maki through it, bossing her around a little.

Maki hums thoughtfully. “I think I can manage,” she says.

Her nails are rough on Nico’s hips as she tugs her closer and she's teasing her again, kissing gently between Nico’s legs, lips barely touching where Nico’s aching.

“Come on, ” Nico says, desperately. "Please-” 

Maki smirks and Nico growls and she's just about ready to get her damn self off to prove a point, because it’s not like that wouldn’t be hot too, and then her whole body jolts and she makes the most pathetic sound, because Maki’s tongue's on her, and then in her, and it feels so good and so intense that Nico can’t do anything but whimper. And it's maybe the hottest thing she's ever seen, Maki on her knees, her eyes fluttering closed, glancing up coyly as her tongue circles over Nico’s clit and makes her whole body tremble. Nico’s fingers tighten in Maki’s hair, rough on her scalp as her finger teases over her entrance, as it slips inside.

Nico gives up at that point, just collapses back onto the sofa because her legs aren't really doing a great job of supporting her anymore, they’re trembling so hard they’re no longer useful for anything except spreading open for Maki, and Nico tugs them up towards her chest, when Maki climbs onto the couch too and lays between her legs. Nico moans as Maki goes harder, two fingers inside her now, just the faintest scrape of her teeth, and she’s so close already, god, she’s so close -

Maki stops. Nico practically screams.

“What,” she whimpers breathlessly. “What are you-”

“You want this?” Maki murmurs, voice husky. “Want me to make you come?”

Nico nods and her whole body’s shaking, because it’s kind of fucking obvious, isn’t it, and she really hopes this isn’t some weird payback for being such a brat, because she’s kind of really desperate right now. Nico moves her own hand down towards where she needs it and Maki stops her, pushes it back. She leans up and kisses Nico. Nico gasps at the taste of herself.

“You're so hot," Maki whispers against her mouth. She laughs, a little breathlessly. "I don't get this. Why does this even work? ”

Maki,” Nico begs, but Maki doesn’t move, and Nico’s worried she might actually start drawing up a chart to compare the correlation between loathing and magnetic attraction and she can't handle that, she can't. Nico tangles her fingers in Maki’s hair and pushes her head down so insistently that she has no choice but to eat Nico out before she dies. “Please, I need-”

“Shhhh,” Maki soothes. “I know.”

And then her mouth’s on Nico again and it's so perfect and Nico feels so relieved as Maki moans against her. She slides her fingers inside again, pace fast and perfect, and Nico's gasping for breath, and all she can hear is her own voice and the slick wet sounds of Maki's tongue against her and she’s so good, so good, so unreasonably good. Nico whimpers Maki’s name as her vision blurs and her whole body tenses and she moans and comes harder than she maybe ever has in her whole life, and it’s so unfair. Who even gave Maki the right to be this good?

Nico exhales as she melts against the sofa, breath hitching and shuddering. Maki kisses the inside of her thigh softly and she sits up beside her. She crosses her legs demurely and she even goes as far as to hug a cushion close to her pink flushed chest for modesty, which Nico would laugh at, if she had the energy, because isn't it a little late for that?

Her eyes meet Nico's.

“Whoa,” is all Nico can say.

“Yeah,” Maki says, equally eloquent.

“That was… Unexpected? But, like, really hot? I mean," she exhales sharply, "Oh my god. ”

“Yeah,” Maki says, again, and Nico giggles.

She wonders if maybe this is the part where she’s supposed to feel regretful or something. She mostly just feels relieved, like that thick tension that was hanging over them has maybe finally gone. She feels satisfied. Soft.

She sucks in another deep breath and shivers, still laid out flat on the sofa. Her body's still going through serious aftershocks.

Maki chews on her lip, and she definitely looks like she's thinking too much. Nico prods her with her foot, and Maki gasps.

“You feet are so cold. What’s wrong with you?”

“I have poor circulation. I can’t help it. All the blood went... up.”

Maki puts a cushion over them, which doesn’t help at all, but the gesture’s sweet. She looks down at Nico like she wants to say something, and Nico wonders if she wants to ask her to leave. Nico hopes not, because she's comfy and she's pretty sure her legs aren’t working yet and that she's missed the last train. She should probably do something. Maybe put on her underwear? Maybe she needs a modesty cushion too.

Nico stretches. “Can you even believe how good that was? You liked it, right? Everything was... okay?”

Maki blushes and twirls a piece of hair around her finger. “Wasn’t that obvious?” she asks.

“Oh, yeah, I mean, it did seem that way. Just, you know. Thought I’d… check.”

Maki smiles, and she looks kind of relieved. “It was good,” she says.

Nico smiles back.

“My room’s that way, if you want to… uh, you know...”

“Geez, already? I mean, at least give a girl a few minutes to recover?”

“I meant sleep,” Maki says, quickly. “I was going to say sleep.”

“Ehhhh? Nico thought Maki was gonna kick her out right away? But now she wants to snuggle?”

“I-I don't!” Maki snaps. “In fact, I changed my mind. Get out.”

Nico sits up and leans her head on Maki's shoulder. “Nope, Maki promised now. Nico's all worn out. She needs her beauty sleep after all that.”

Nico nuzzles close enough that Maki startles and stands so suddenly that Nico falls sideways onto the sofa. Maki's still hugging her cushion, now even tighter if possible.

“My bathroom’s over there. I don't have a spare toothbrush, but if you wanna clean up or whatever…”

“T-Thanks,” Nico says.

Maki nods. She swiftly departs off towards a closed door that must be her bedroom. Nico watches her leave, because there's certainly nothing covering her from behind.

She raises her eyebrows in disbelief.

Nico’s not sure even she believes what just happened.

***

 

The lights are soft and dim when Nico steps tentatively into the bedroom. She looks around and concludes that Maki must have more books than the university library. Like, has anyone ever had the time to read that many books? Her closet is enviably big too, and Nico would love to nosey through it, if the circumstances were different. Maki’s already in her huge bed, red hair peeking out from the top of the covers, which are rolled up around her messily, with just her feet peeking out of the end.

Nico sighs. “Geez, your feet will get cold,” she mutters, tugging at the covers so she can tuck them in.

Maki only grunts in response.

“Hey, don't fall asleep yet. You need to take off your makeup. You haven't even brushed your teeth.”

“I'm having a night off,” Maki mumbles.

Nico leans forward and flicks her forehead. When that doesn't work, she tugs off the covers in one big swoosh, and Maki gasps and glares.

“Clean up,” Nico orders, “Dental hygiene and proper skincare are not to be taken lightly.”

Maki squints her eyes open and just frowns at Nico, brows knit in confusion.

Nico covers her mouth with her hand. She's overstepping. Maki’s a grown woman. What does she care if Maki wakes up looking like a panda with terrible breath? It's not Nico’s fault if she wakes up dehydrated and feeling like death.

“O-Or not,” Nico says. “Do what you want.”

Maki pushes herself out of bed and huffs. She's wearing underwear now (nice underwear) and a purple tank top, which is kind of disappointing because if Nico had those boobs she'd definitely show them off at every opportunity.

She returns a few long minutes later, and Nico's perched on her desk chair, and this time she’s the one hugging the modesty cushion.

She’d made the bed after Maki had left, but she couldn't quite work her way up to getting in it, because you can't just get in someone's bed without explicit permission, can you? What if Maki's planning to roll out a futon and make her sleep on the floor? Nico doesn't want to assume anything. Their situation is kind of… unique.

She watches Maki climb into bed and snuggle down. She looks cosy. Nico really hopes she's not sleeping on the floor.

“Don't just sit there,” Maki says. “Get into bed.”

“I couldn't find your makeup remover,” Nico says.

“On the dresser,” Maki says. “Just use whatever.”

“Thanks. Oh, and Nico doesn't usually sleep naked. I wonder if I’ll get cold…”

Maki sighs. “Grab a shirt or something. Second drawer.”

Nico picks a nice red one. It's soft against her skin and skims her thighs. She hovers near the bed. “Are you sure you don't want me to go?” she asks, softly.

Maki tugs the covers back and pats the space beside her. “Don't be stupid. It's late. Just be quiet. I'm sleeping.”

Nico switches off the light and settles gently into the gigantic bed. It feels so different to her own, where's there's barely enough space for one small Nico. The sheets are so soft it's unreal.

It feels like Nico's staying at a really fancy hotel or something, only she’s sharing the bed with someone who’s facing away from her. Someone who’s definitely not her girlfriend. Someone she just slept with who may or may not still hate her due to previous incidents. 

Nico exhales, and it comes out a little shakily.

Maki flinches as Nico strokes her back, just an awkward little pat because nothing else seems appropriate.

A long moment passes, and then Maki rolls over. She finds Nico’s hand and pats back, thumb stroking briefly over Nico's hand, and it’s equally awkward and such a small, stupid gesture, but somehow it makes Nico relax.

She drifts off to sleep in a weird place with a weird girl.

But the weirdest thing of all is she doesn't regret it.

***

 

Nico's alarm chimes, startling and shrill, at precisely 6.50am.

She groans and rolls over to make it stop. She really should’ve turned it off last night. Her mouth is dry and her tongue feels kind of sore and she definitely needs to sleep a little longer. She stretches out on the unreasonably soft sheets and then it hits her, all at once, that she’s not in her own bed. She squints open her eyes to confirm she didn't make the whole thing up.

Nico’s heart flips wildly. She feels heat twist low in her stomach.

Last night certainly was something.

She blushes and buries her nose under the covers and dares a glance in Maki's direction. She seemingly slept through the alarm completely. She looks kind of dumb, laying on her side with her mouth half-open, breathing noisily, cheek smushed into the pillow.

She looks younger than she ever could with those tough glares and that haughty attitude.

Her hair’s messy, but it’s a blend of pretty colours in the soft morning light and Nico can't help but stare at her soft skin and the way the covers are tangled around her, the way that her tank top is cut low enough that Nico can see the red mark that she'd left on her breast the night before, that makes her shift a little guiltily because oops.

It occurs to Nico that it’s the first time she’s actually seen Maki in daylight. That she's really beautiful, bathed in the early morning sun.

She feels a stupid and unreasonable pang of sadness that this is probably the closest they’ll ever be. Despite everything, there’d been something more than just tension and fierce attraction - that weird spark, that easy connection, the way they somehow just fit together. Maybe things could've been different if they hadn't clashed so spectacularly that first time they met. If Nico hadn’t mentioned music, if she hadn’t been so quick to take offence, if she just apologised for the stupid spaghetti thing. Maybe they could’ve been something - a mutual arrangement, her college fling… maybe even more.

It feels so stupid to think like that now. It’s just… she wouldn't have hated waking up like this again.

“Maki,” she says, softly.

Nico’s voice shocks her out of sleep so suddenly that it makes her feels guilty. Maki squints open her eyes and frowns. She just stares for a long, confused moment.

Nico smiles nervously.

Maki smiles back, and the warmth of it surprises Nico, makes her pulse thrum, makes her forget how to breathe.

“Morning,” Maki says, yawning.

“Hey,” Nico says. “Did you… uh, did you sleep okay?”

Maki nods. She rolls over to squint at her phone, then she shuffles down and buries herself under the bed covers, until just her eyes and nose are peeping out.

“It's early,” she says, her voice a little muffled.

“Yeah,” Nico says. “Sorry I woke you. It’s just… I’ve got to get going soon. I've got work and I need to go home first. I definitely can't rock up smelling like you.”

Maki flushes and let's out a little sleepy laugh, and it's so sweet and completely unfair. Nico never wanted to know how cute she is when she’s half-asleep. Nico's trying to focus on how terrible she is, and this? This doesn't help one bit. 

“Shower here,” Maki says. “I don't mind.”

Nico briefly considers declining. She wants to sneak back home before Nozomi wakes up, but can she really pass up on the opportunity to make use of that gigantic bath she spotted last night and save money on her water bill?

“Thanks,” she says. “I'll… go do that.”

“Good,” Maki says, and she's already closing her eyes, and drifting back off to sleep. Nico bets she's never had a part-time job in her life. She's probably always lived a life of luxury. She’s not even a good enough host to tell Nico where she can find a towel.

But she looks so soft and peaceful when Nico glances back from the doorway that she wants to climb back into bed with her and drift in and out of sleep all morning, and maybe run her hands across her soft skin just one more time.

***

 

“Sorry I didn't have much food,” Maki says, lingering by the closed door to her apartment.

Nico’s lingering too, damp hair braided because she hadn't been able to resist trying out that shampoo that she's sure costs more than her weekly wages, but she'd been so enthralled by the guilt-free shower where she didn’t have to worry about how much hot water she’s using, she didn't leave enough time to dry it.

“It's fine,” Nico says. “Like I said, I have to get going. I've got work all day and then it’s straight on to visit the kids!”

“Kids?” Maki repeats. “Y-You have kids?”

“Oh, no. No. Siblings,” Nico says quickly. “Three of them. It's a Saturday thing.”

“Ahhh.”

There's a stilted silence. Maki hugs her arms to her chest.

“Well,” Nico says. “I... better get going. You know how it is. Busy, busy.”

“Yeah,” Maki says. “Same here. You got everything, right? You didn’t... leave anything behind?”

“I'm good,” Nico says, holding up her tiny purse. “I didn’t bring much.”

Maki nods and unlocks the door. Nico steadies herself on Maki’s arm as she balances back into her boots. Maki lingers close.

“You’re okay, right?” Maki asks. “I haven’t really... done something like this before. I don’t know what I’m meant to say but I - I don’t want you to, I don’t know, feel bad or something?”

Nico feels a rush of warmth. She smiles reassuringly. “Don’t worry. I mean, not gonna lie, this was kind of weird, but... good weird. Hot weird. I don’t regret anything, except maybe being a dick, because I guess I did owe you an apology for that skirt. I… hope it’s the same for you?”

Maki nods she opens the door to her apartment. “Yeah. This was...” Maki pauses, like she’s at a complete loss of how to describe it. “Fun.”

“Wasn’t it?” Nico winks. “Oh, but you should totally come by my place next time, I have all kinds of interesting stuff~”

Maki's eyes widen. She looks at Nico like she just said something crazy.

“What, so I can come in your mouth but you get all prudish at the mention of vibrator?”

Maki slams her front door quickly closed again. “You can’t just say things like that when my door’s open,” she hisses.

“It’s fine. It’s early,” Maki’s still staring at her. “What?”

Maki looks down at her feet. “Y-You said next time,” she mumbles.

“Huh?” Nico’s eyes widen. “Ohhh. N-No, wait, I didn't mean next time I just meant - shit.”

“You like me,” Maki says, and there’s a smugness to her tone that makes Nico feel equal parts pissed off and shy.

No,” Nico says. “I mean, yes, I think you’re hot, but that's completely different to actually liking you-”

“You might as well take my number,” Maki says.

Nico blinks. “Huh?”

“I mean, we’ll probably bump into each other anyway, right? If our friends are dating or whatever.”

“Ahhh, that’s true. This way you can warn me and I can mentally prepare for your bad attitude!”

My bad attitude?” Maki echoes incredulously. She shakes her head. “Give me your phone already.”

Nico watches in mild shock as she types in her details. Maki calls her own number from Nico’s phone, and Nico just watches in baffled silence as it actually rings.

Maki hands her phone back. “So… I’ll see you around then? I mean... uh, maybe?”

“Sure!" Nico says. "We’ll do something. But as long as there’s no spaghetti, right?”

The smile drops off Maki's face. She glares.

“No?” Nico says. “Too soon, then?”

Maki groans and opens her door again. She practically pushes Nico out into the hall. Nico spins back round and winks.

“Work hard, okay? Try not to let all those memories of how amazing I am distract you from your studies.”

“Don't be gross,” Maki says. “I’m locking my door so you can't come back. Then I'm deleting your number. And changing mine. I might even move house.”

“You’ll be texting me in three hours for another go at this,” Nico sing-songs. “Trust me.”

“I only asked for your number to be polite,” Maki says, with her arms crossed tightly. “I’d quite happily never see you again.”

Sure,” Nico chirps. “See you later, Maki.”

Maki sighs in defeat. She tries to hide it, but the corners of her lips curl up into a smile.

“See you around, Nico” she says softly.