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I’M BEGINNING TO SEE THE LIGHT

Maki’s phone went off. Nico. She’d changed all tones involving Nico to Hank Mobley’s “I Should Care” so there was a warning. Not glancing away from her computer, where she was considering which piano bar to take over for her Lunar New Year shoot. Betrayed by a hasty pulse, she reluctantly read her screen.

N: Hey, Nico’s Secret Weapon, how are you? Cotorou loved the camera “Santa” sent to my apartment.

M: 1. I’m not Nico’s anything and 2. Never put Santa in quotes.

N: (´・` )♡ Nico’s working two top secret projects so I won’t be around, but maybe when I’m in town next month we can have dinner so Nico can thank you.

M: Thank me now. I hate suspense.

N: Nico will make it worth the wait (。•̀ᴗ-)✧

Maki had no idea how to respond to that.

M: ┐( -“-)┌

N: Charmer. What are you doing?

M: Planning a Lunar New Year shoot.

N: Nico looks great in red. But you know that. You surrounded me with diamonds. Most people go for the obvious. I’m impressed.

Oh, so Nico had figured that out. Of course, she had. Maki always landed squarely in awkward and obvious when in the Presence™.

M; Don’t be. It just made sense.

N: Anyway, Nico has to run. Text Nico sometime.

M: ┐( -“-)┌

N: ღゝ◡╹)ノ♡

 

 

SINCE I FELL FOR YOU

Maki was nodding off when her phone exploded with notifications. Curious, she checked. Something about Nico Yazawa and Sexiest Celebrity...why would her name be mentioned? Clicking through the first link, it was an article announcing Nico’s selection as Sexiest Celebrity Comeback, partly thanks to Maki and the Houdini photoshoot. A picture from a photoshoot accompanied the press release, Maki flicked her fingers to zoom out the picture. Must have been one of Nico’s “top secret projects.”

PINK. All Maki saw was pink. THE PINK. She rolled off her couch, grabbing her laptop, searching there. Nico. Cherry Blossoms. Surrounded. At the end of January. Maki had just trooped through a foot and a half of snow to get home from her studio. It was too early for blossoms this year...and yet there it was, Nico, in a gray ball gown with a rising cascade of pink flurrying its way up over Nico’s shoulder, the dress a gray that almost blended with the cloudy dark WINTER sky behind Nico, melding Nico into the gray of the curved castle wall. And cherry blossoms a deeper pinker than Maki had ever seen them were a cloud lifting Nico up. Venus rising from Spring, with the mysterious ruby eyes of a goddess, but it WASN’T SPRING YET. The Lunar New Year had just happened. Maki had just trooped through snow. She glanced at the page, breathing more fiercely with each new bit of information, Okinawa, this year, designer dress, photographed by someone not Maki, trapped in the dark delicacy of bells of the Kanhizakura was the color that had been haunting Maki, the color teased across Nico’s lips in these...Maki grabbed for her phone, texting Umi.

M: If Kotori doesn’t get Elle magazine, go buy me a copy.

U: Why?

M: So I can shred it.

U: Is everything all right, Maki?

M: (ノ`´)ノ ~┻━┻ ~

U: Calm down, Maki.

M: (ง’̀-‘́)ง

U: There is no excuse for that tone, Maki (ー ー;)

M: ….

M: Please, Umi. I need you, my friend, to do me this small favor.

U: Of course, Maki (^-^)v

Maki smiled. Kotori had convinced Umi that emoticons were an acceptable form of communication, especially if your wife thought they were cute. Since then, like with most of the things Kotori initially had to nudge Umi into, Umi had embraced the style with verve and humor, viewing it new, alternate punctuation standard. Then Maki saw the picture again. And could taste bitter as her stomach roiled.

 

SINCE I FELL FOR YOU

Snow. Trees covered in snow. That was a natural look for this time of year. Not trees covered in the perfect pink, sweeping up against Nico “Perfect Pink Lips” Yazawa. And all the wrong angles and a terrible dress that made Nico look, okay, it made Nico look like a goddess curved and carved out of the Nakijin Castle courtyard walls. Maki shook her head, inhaling. Cold air, arched bridge, pine trees covered in snow as they should be. The pond around the zigzag bridge had a bold sweep of snow over it, as the wind cut new sworls and Maki barely noticed the cold cutting through her ragg wool glittens. Maki stomped her boots. She’d done a snowboarding shoot last winter and upgraded her winter gear so she should be set for a long day at the Botanic Gardens.

Maki was lying full length in the snow under a pine tree, capturing light on snow on green on blue. And her phone was vibrating. She ignored it, but it kept vibrating. Pause for voicemail to be ignored and then more vibrating. She sat up, ripped her phone out of her sleeve pocket and yelled, “What?”

“Are you actually in the snow?” Eli.

“I was until you called.”

“Posting shots every 15 minutes on your TWIG is how you cry for help, you know. Umi said you were upset yesterday. Why didn’t you call me?” Eli sounded wounded, Maki didn’t care. It was all Eli’s fault. Without Nozomi Maki would have never met Nico, never had every waking thought invaded by pink and sable and ruby and songs that suddenly made too much sense arranging themselves into a soundtrack that never stopped looping in her head. And then the stupid “I have two initials and my credentials are massive” photographer, whose name Maki refused to remember, stole her...

“I don’t want to talk about it.” Maki shut off her phone. And laid back down in the snow, staring up through the tree branches, remembering a laughing, flirting Nico shaking snow down in her face, a whispered promise. Maybe just freezing here would slow her thoughts down to a pace she could handle. Maybe. If there were no pink.

SINCE I FELL FOR YOU

Nico was there. At her home. Where Maki was going to collapse after seven hours roaming the Japanese Garden. Maki wanted a shower and something warm not a invading bite sized beauty who looked really pissed.

Nico touched her cheek, without saying anything and that’s when Maki realized how cold she was, her skin actually felt hard against Nico’s softness. Not to mention the way the warmth melted her, from the tender contact of Nico’s palm on her cheek, life running down her neck, up into her hair as Nico brushed that out of her eyes. At some point, Maki had lost her cap.

“You only look half frostbitten.” Nico announced, her voice brusque. Maki fumbled for her keys, only to watch Nico grab them and open the door.

“Why are you here?” Maybe Maki had fallen asleep in the snow and Nico was a hallucination before the freezing process completely shut down her brain. Then months later, with the arrival of non magazine Spring, Maki could thaw and turn into a comic book villain, Sakura Snow.

Maki stumbled into her apartment, shedding layers, too tired and cold to be self conscious. Nico went right to the kitchen anyway, where she would discover Maki’s stash of frozen pizzas, ice cream, and a half eaten rotisserie chicken. Plus milk and orange juice.

Nico opened the refrigerator, closed the refrigerator, turned to glare at Maki, “Don’t you eat?”

“Cereal at night, usually. I have probably eight different kinds, if you don’t count oatmeal. Suits every mood.”

“You’re a kid. No wonder you and Cotorou connected.” Nico moved too quickly, suddenly under Maki’s nose, her hand out, “Give Nico your phone and the name of your favorite delivery place.”

“No.”

Nico glared. Maki handed over the phone. “Carmen’s. Deep Dish. Pesto. It’s infused with garlic.”

“Take a shower.” Nico flicked through Maki’s recent calls, “Do you only talk to restaurants?”

Maki remembered Nico had never answered her question, “Why are you here? And how did you get my address?”

“Your manager expressed some concerns about your current mental state to her wife, my close personal friend, who then called me. They thought you might be upset by the…”

“I’m not upset by anything.” Maki spoke slowly and too loudly, her arms wrapped around her torso.

“You just felt like spending six hours in the snow, posting to TWIG every fifteen minutes.” Nico’s tone was the one universally used for calling out obvious bunk.

“Yep,” Maki nodded, regretting the delay that was keeping her from screaming out her general frustration while warm water pounded into her exertion tightened muscles. She decided sprawling on the couch under her Guardians Journey blanket was a good alternate choice and stepped around Nico. “Thanks for coming by, but I can order my own pizza. And I’m sure you have other, important things to do.” WIth other people, Maki finished the thought silently

Nico tilted her head, eyes narrowed, debating, Then she struck. “I saw the TWIG shots, Nico thinks you’re off your game.”

Maki exploded off the couch, “Oh really, why don’t you take A.F. P. Perky out there with you and see what kind of lousy you get…”

Nico nodded, suspicion confirmed. “You said you didn’t have enough time for your own projects. On that podcast. Nico was doing you a favor.”

Maki was caught in an angry loom, frozen, no words, as Nico stood undisturbed by any of this.

“I’m very grateful Maki. You didn’t have to but you helped Nico create an exciting new image…” Adrenaline and anger were fleeing and Maki was falling back, Nico proceeding chirpily, “People are throwing so many new projects at Nico. And taking me seriously.” Maki dropped to the coffee table, the wool wrapped around her warm and scratchy, and Nico was close, and the dark pink of those lips was all Maki could focus on. “Because you saw me differently.”

Maki curled up, still lacking words.

“So are you just jealous that Nico took another photographer on a trip? He wasn’t Nico’s type at all.”

Maki shook her head, reaching a finger out to Nico’s lips, such softness, “The Pink. You found it. Without me. So it’s gone.” Maki snapped her fingers, then pulled her hands back, shoving them under her thighs, bangs hanging down.

“But I’m still here.” Nico sat next to Maki, leaving a space, but turned so she and Maki had a pocket of warmth between them.

Muttering, “I...together...I thought we would go...cherry blossoms...maybe…” Maki sighed, running a hand through her hair, “Maybe it would have been there, the pink. And I could get it out of my head.”

“Do you really want to?” Nico’s question was soft, one of her hands reaching out to touch Maki’s.

Maki recoiled, standing to pace, “You don’t know. Things get in there,” she practically stabbed her temple with her index finger, “And I don’t eat, I don’t sleep, I don’t..” Maki squeezed her eyes, hoping not to feel tears, “And then,” Maki leaned into the couch, staring at Nico, desperate to see her words had been understood, “There’s a moment, and it’s all RIGHT. And then my head’s free. And I…” Maki remembered Aylen’s final question, “and I get to do the ‘next thing’.”

Nico’s hands were now clasped in her lap, “And Nico wouldn’t be the ‘next thing’?”

Maki’s expression must have been wild, because Nico was exuding a field of soothing calm, which deflated Maki totally. The whole scene felt hyper real, not a hallucination, but a picture where the colors were oversaturated but the background had been faded so the subjects just floated there, no connection, no tether to any real moment. “I don’t know.” Exhaustion had become the emotional house that Maki lived in.

“Oh.” Nico’s initial syllable sounded flat, but then she bounced right into cheery, “ You must be freezing. Hop in the shower, Nico will order your pizza and leave you to recover.” A smile, but a reserved one, “Nico has an important meeting early.”

“Okay.” Maki turned to her bedroom.

“Hey Maki?” Nico was leaning back over the couch, her view of Maki an upside down one.

“What?” Maki had her hand on the bedroom door.

“Tell Nico when you figure out your ‘next thing,’ okay?”

“Sure.”

“Thanks.” A warm smile. “For everything. And Nico is sorry about the pink.”

Maki nodded and shuffled into her bedroom. Maybe she should just sleep. That sounded quiet. She collapsed on her bed, rolling her comforter around her. Just a minute, then the shower. Really...

Maki unrolled from the comforter, stiff. Warmer. She stretched. Her upper back was going to hurt for a couple of days after yesterday, maybe she should schedule a massage...yesterday, snow, pine, cold, home, Nico…

Her laptop was on the coffee table, her camera next to it...the camera weighted down a note, written in curly cursive with glitter pink ink. Of course Nico carried a glitter pink pen, she probably had glitter pink blood, Maki thought as she yawned and dropped into the couch, grabbing the note.

“Hey, Nico got bored waiting for your pizza so I looked at your photos. Amazing. But don’t be Snowflake Bentley.”

Snowflake Bentley? Maki opened her laptop to search. THE Snowflake photographer. And in the mid 19th century, with such a primitive kit. Maki snorted when she got to “Died of pneumonia on his farm...after walking six miles home in a blizzard.” So that was what Nico meant. And did the devil diva have information on every photographer of note since the invention of the daguerreotype?

Back to the note:

Rest of the pizza’s in your fridge. SInce Nico paid, there’s a slice missing.

Text Nico when you thaw out. And make me a print with the zigzag bridge.” And the autograph with the usual flourish. Maki leaned back. Not a hallucination. Another night when she barely remembered what she said to Nico though, exhaustion wiping memory nearly as clean as whisky had. Pink. Things about pink. Probably embarrassing things about pink. Time to start picturing a world in black and white. Maybe that would be a solution. Maybe more sleep could sort it out.

THE SHADOW OF YOUR SMILE

Maki rewoke to 10 a.m., couch imprint on her face, and the realization that black and white was not enough of a buffer. There had been dreams, Maki continuing to see Nico too easily, everywhere, in too many poses, even in something so opposite to Nico as a still Zen rock garden in the snow. Was Nico burned into her world as the focal point now? That was no way to have a career, a life, or any peace at all.

Glancing down at the table, her lockscreen announced texts from Nico, from Eli, from Umi, from Tsubasa, from Jada Jefferson…

N: Did you thaw out? And stay inside, Nico doesn’t have time to bring over something warm until later (*`▽´)_旦~~

E: MAKI! CALL ME. NOW.

U: Good morning, Maki. Kotori and I are concerned that work is taking over your life. We would like to invite you for dinner, followed by a movie, on the evening of your choice this week. Please decide on a specific date at your earliest convenience.

T: I’ll be in Chicago next week. Call my manager to set up your backstage pass. Looking forward to that dinner you promised. Was that view of Lake Michigan the one from your loft (´ε` )♡

J: Hi Maki! Business is bringing me to the Midwest next week. Maybe you could find time to show me around Chicago’s landmarks? I’d love to continue our conversation.

E: I MEAN IT!

Maki tossed the phone. When did so many people start waking up and thinking, “Let’s see what Maki’s doing?” She shivered, and unlike yesterday, it wasn’t from the cold, although the feeling was a bit like noticing a tiny snowball rolling into a huge avalanche that was going to iceroll her off a precipice.

Maki sighed, sprawling down the couch, to stare at the ceiling, closing her eyes, forcing a black and white filter on the images rushing to fill her mental screen. Which got her to Nico, so many vivid memories, pink, pursed, pulsating lips with blooms and petals blowing across them, eyes gleaming in shadow, Nico, bold and brave, bursting out of the tank, dripping with...then Nico, small and cold, settled into Maki’s hoodie, shuddering with exertion. Indelible. Etched. Images to build a work of art around, but maybe also moments to launch something private from. Maki reached out a hand for the stereo remote and Ella started to sing “The Shadow Of Your Smile.” Smile. Nico’s smile. Didn’t she want to get closer?

 

Step One to clearing your head: Don’t take Nico’s advice. Maki laughed at herself as she left her apartment, then stopped for lunch at a small Chinese restaurant that made a simple egg flower soup, with broth as light as a dream. She followed that with a random lunch platter choice and trooping to the nearest El Station to land downtown, in Grant Park, snow on the ground, but not cold, wandering through the silent metal crowd of Agora, 106 nine foot tall body sculptures, no head, no arms, “instincts and emotions overpower the intellect without us being aware of it.” as their sculptor Magdalena Abakanowicz said ..nothing to think with, nothing to reach with, frozen even in summer, locked in one mood, one place. everything working on them...no camera in hand today, Maki stood and stared, taking time, more than the ten minutes she’d allotted herself to really look at Nico the first time she photographed her. What had she seen then? What had instinct and emotion known that Maki was ignoring? She had arms, why wasn’t she reaching? Like the Olmec Head not too far from here, seven feet of stone, was Maki all head, a mere copy of the original Maki, with lips too stiff to respond to the instincts surging through her synapses every time she saw Nico.

When had she not started a thought that made its way back to Nico?

 

Maki had practically sprinted back to her studio, once she knew what to do next. Practical matters while her hands were practically shaking were a minor problem, but there was a certain structure in routine and she’d printed and framed 1000’s of photos at this point.

She grabbed her phone, surprised at having a caller, but after ignoring a few more of Eli’s text, Maki should have expected an actual call, followed by a visit if that too was ignored.

“Answer my texts, Maki.” Eli nearly shouted, Maki could hear some form of soothing coo in the background. Must be Nozomi.

“I was busy.”

“You should never be too busy to type, “I’m ok, don’t get gray hairs on my account, Eli.””

“I would have gone with “text you later.” Maki countered, “I’m sorry I didn’t.”

“You shut off your phone at the Garden too.” Eli sounded sad. “I’m your friend, Maki. You could always talk to me before. Are you really that upset about Nozomi?”

 

Oh gods, Eli thought her marriage to Nozomi was creating a rift in their friendship.

“No, Eli, really I’m not. You seem happy. I’m glad.” Maki hesitated, “It’s just when you married Nozomi, I met Nico, and things have been crazy since…”

“They have, but the good crazy for me.” Eli sounded more relaxed, Maki heard settling into furniture noises and low mutters of conversation near the phone, “Not so much for you?”

“Just confusing.”

“Nico’s good people you know. She worries about you.”

“I know, Eli. She feeds me pie. Last night it was pizza, but still pie.”

Eli laughed, “Oh, did she stop by? Nozomi talked to her…I hope that was all right.”

“I don’t know much about wives, Eli, but I do know you can’t tell them what not to talk to their friends about.”

Eli groaned, “If only that weren’t true. Nozomi already has far too many embarrassing stories about me.”

“You could be less of a dork, Eli.” Maki stated with all seriousness.

“But then you’d be a solo act.”

“Nah, Umi will never not be a dork.”

“True.” There was a giggle and a movement noise, as Eli’s hand managed to not cover her phone mic, “Nozomi, wait just a minute…” then full voice, a little breathless, “I have to go, Maki. Don’t stress too much.”

“Talk to you later.”

“You better.” Maki could hear the grin.

 

TEACH ME TONIGHT

Maki had sent a text.

M: Are you home? I’m on my way.

N: Maki can’t wait to see Nico ⋋░ ✿ ⁰ o ⁰ ✿ ░⋌

M: Yes

N: I was getting ready for bed; I’ll wait ( -_-)>c[_]

M: Good.

Maki’s heart raced as her hands fumbled both phone and package. The ”just disappear into the night, flee to New Orleans, become an anonymous but renowned pair of hands at a hidden piano bar” urge came over her, but Nico was waiting. And Maki was going to make her own approach this time, not just dodge the attention.

Nico opened the door, dressed in cute, frilly patterned pajamas with a fluffy robe open over them. Maki handed over the framed print, “Yours.”

“You’re fast,” Nico’s eyes were wide, “Do all your fans get this kind of service?”

Maki could feel the blush, but she didn’t look away, although she did shove her hands in her coat pockets so she wouldn’t start twirling her hair, “No.”

Nico raised an eyebrow, “You’re monosyllabic tonight. Somebody steal your dictionary?”

Maki shrugged, then leaned closer, there was a slash of green under Nico’s ear and she reached out a hand and swiped at it, offering her fingers to Nico, “Huh?”

Nico pulled Maki into her apartment, locking the door, “Nico had to take off her beauty mask for company.”

Company. Beauty mask. Green. Maki was crunching through those thoughts as Nico pointed to her couch and went into her kitchen to pour a mug of something and hand it to Maki, “You like coffee, right? Nico is halfway through hers so join me.”

Maki did, sitting very tall at the end of Nico’s sofa while Nico curled up in the middle, watching some kind of video show on TV. Nico watched her, noticing the confusion, “Nico keeps up with the K-Pop trends. Very important for fashion.”

Maki sipped and nodded, a little lost in all the dance and flash and English mixed with foreign words.

“Show’s almost over.”

What to say to start? Then the video caught her eye, a woman in a gray suit with black lines embroidered, group of girls in a dark room with film negatives and fire, arcane rituals, interrupted by costume changes and aggressive dancing, strange scenes in snow, a smoke hand reaching for the woman in the suit. Maki found herself scooting closer to Nico.

Surprising Maki, Nico started to sing, “Close your eyes
Hold my hand
Forget all the times you were lonely
I'll be by your side in this dark world Baby
Now be with me”

Maki started, “WHAT!” And the girl in snow on the screen reached out to a closing portal.

“Still monosyllabic.” Nico patted Maki’s hand, causing a flare of feeling, “Those are the lyrics at the end. Some of the Korean M-Vs are more like horror movies. Song is called “You and I” by Dreamcatcher and it’s about making a dream connection.”

“The suit caught my attention.” Maki admitted, looking away from the screen before the next video proved to be worse.

“Of course it did,” Nico grinned rakishly, spinning on the couch, “You still haven’t gotten over Nico in formal wear, very, very wet formal wear.”

It was fascinating and frustrating. How did Nico manage to sound so matter of fact and so intoxicatingly provocative simultaneously? Was it how her lips, so lively, so pink, so plush, wrapped around the words before releasing them, was it in the depths of the ruby gems that watched Maki’s expression so seriously while cracks of contagious mirth sparkled through the irises. Lost in Nico’s eyes, depths of serious purpose drew Maki in while the effervescence of Nico’s joyful embrace of the moment made everything seem like floating.

“How do I know it wasn’t just the photography?” Maki blurted, feeling like every question she’d ever had must be racing across her eyes like chyrons on CNN.

“What wasn’t?”

“The…” Maki paused, reluctant to define her apprehension, “attraction...I...once...couldn’t stop thinking about...her skin...nude...touch…wanting” Maki glanced down, at the hands that had proven so ineffective at pleading or persuading, once upon a time. “She didn’t.”

Nico snorted. “Good.” Her hand slid over Maki’s, her voice soft, this moment an intimate secret they were sharing, “It’s not just the photography. Or you.” Nico’s hand slid under Maki’s sleeve, her fingers barely caressing skin, just enough contact to raise the hairs on Maki’s forearm and get the anxious photographer’s full attention. Nico’s other hand slid up Maki’s shirt, deftly unbuttoning, an aptitude Maki hoped resulted from changing costumes, not changing lovers. Nico’s hand was soft against her skin, fingers barely pressing as they slid under cloth, down toward lace, “You think I didn’t wonder about you? Imagine what it was like under here, how smooth your skin was, how you’d react when…” Nico’s voice was even smoother than her touch as it slid under lace, fingers suddenly focusing, circling one area, closing in, Nico pinched, Maki yelped, crashing forward into pink lips so much closer than she’d ever even imagine, so much sharper, the sensation of Nico pressing forward, pressure pulling Maki forward, sideways, back, down, fingers tight on Maki’s nipple, Maki’s lips too eager, a reflex, a response to Nico twisting the urgency level higher.

Maki broke away, panting, Nico’s hands too fast, too familiar with her, too frenzied. “You do this all the time?”

“Good question,” Nico finished removing Maki’s shirt, taking a moment to slide her lips up Maki’s neck to her ear before she began undoing Maki’s pants, “No.”

“Oh.” Maki expected to sound relieved, but with Nico’s mouth slipping along her throat, breathless was all she heard, and the murmurs of encouragement Nico was purring into her skin.

“Couple casual encounters here and there, last one two years ago. Then I met you.” Nico stopped, raising one of Maki’s hands to her mouth and licking across Maki’s fingers, “Can I talk about you now...beautiful, stubborn, silly...Maki” Nico’s free hand was rough against Maki’s hip as she pulled the taller redhead close, her mouth guiding Maki’s mouth away from the conversation and back to the crash, the quick bite, the collision of image and breath and want and the so so many nights Maki had shoved away thoughts of Nico, demanding they disperse into darkness. But no, they had lurked and gathered and coiled, waiting for this, Nico’s quick sharp bites against Maki’s yielding neck, Nico’s agile fingers finding every spot of skin where even the lightest touch, a trace, a flick would raise a whimper, make Maki quaver and moan.

Those nights, those images, had just gathered instead, coiled inside, waiting, Maki could feel the pressure, the whip of, the thrash of her head arcing back as Nico’s fingers slid across her hip, lightly skipping over Maki’s stomach, slowly slowly teasing hairs as the pressure increased, Nico nearly THERE but as Maki gasped, Nico pulled back, eyes a stir of emotions Maki knew no lens could capture.

“Maki” the perfect lips kissed her name, then wrote it in cursive on her neck, Nico’s fingers pushing again, teasing, tensing, tauntingly fast as if Maki could listen think respond and nearly crawl up the wall at the same time.

“Maki,” another breath, Maki thrashed, eyes closed, body caught between collapse and collision, “I want you. So pretty. Please…”

Maki’s “please” echoed Nico’s; the desperate, moaning, Maki seizing on the word to interrupt the sub vocal stream of “oh’, ‘no’ and other misleading rhymes, “Nico.”

A rapid series of caresses, an almost, “You glow Maki...I want…you....”

“YES!” A scream timed to the touch, the thrust, the uncoiling, the whiplash and force of contact, of NOW, of Nico, all senses, smell, touch, taste, hearing...everything but vision, Maki realized her eyes were closed.

Maki giggled. Nico hesitated, “Are you all right, Maki? Did I…”

Maki opened her eyes, certain they’d never been so bright with wonder or joy. Nico had frozen, worried, Maki smiled, “I don’t want a picture.”

Nico shook her head, eyes lightened by relief, voice buoyed by humor, “Good, cause my hands are too busy to autograph it.” And then she pushed them both back into the couch, her weight pressing Maki down, knee between Maki’s thighs, hand tickling up to follow, Nico’s lips crushing conversations and creating so many cravings Maki couldn’t process them, Lips, hands on neck nipples and fingers, Maki’s moans driving Nico to a near frenzy, Maki could feel the waves, the energy, Nico’s need as the ruby eyes, desperate for connection, locked on hers, as Nico’s crash into Maki broke through, the redhead screaming, body quaking as Nico’s last burst of energy launched both to trembling shaking tearing fabric screaming firework heights.

 

MORE I SEE YOU

Nico was sprawled across her bed, sheet barely draped, sable hair scattered, Okinawa cherry lips in blissfully sweet smile, long, dark eyelashes fluttering slightly with each breath. Maki was on her side, head on a pillow, staring, appreciating the sharp, vivid, bold, strokes of deep colors against the faintest palest gold.

Maki reached out a hand, wanting to brush the softness of Nico’s lips, but diverting to her hair in an effort not to disturb sleep.

“Gay.” Nico opened one eye, turning her head in Maki’s direction.

“Very.” Maki scooted closer, her fingers now tenderly exploring the curve of Nico’s jaw, “You really do have a dream profile.”

“Your dreams.”

“Since before I knew your name.” Maki found her focus once again on Nico’s lips, but now she wasn’t trying to match them with anything. Or compare them to anything. Or push them away. All the tiny details, all the subtle hues, all that was nothing against the…

Nico winked, her lips twisting in a shrewd, sexy smile that bared everything Maki was thinking, “Kiss me.”

Perfect.