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second glance

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Every thirty seconds, the lights turn pink. Trish has come to this club enough times that she knows the pattern: blue, then pink; blue, then pink. The blue is deeper, more reserved, than the pink—the pink is the kind of pink, she thinks, that one would see if they were to cut pink with a scalpel and look at the pink underneath, pushing out. 

This—the underneath-pink—flashes in Narancia’s eyes when he turns his head to her and asks, “See anything?” 

Trish looks. The club is jammed with bodies, all of them moving to the beat that pulses through the sticky concrete floor. It smells like sweat and weed and a hundred different perfumes, intermingling. There are corners that the lights can’t reach, patches of inviting dark, mostly on the ceiling. 

Nothing looks especially out of place, but for the past twenty minutes she’s been able to sense another Stand user here. She’s gotten used to the way Narancia feels, so she knows that this is different; this seems to grab her by the throat. But fat chance she’ll know who it belongs to in the crowd, all of them gyrating and laughing, sloshing drinks in plastic cups around, touching each other’s hips.

“No,” she says. “You?” 

Narancia shakes his head. “Nah. But I can definitely feel ’em.” 

“Me too.” 

Narancia keeps his eyes on the rest of the room, but he leans closer to her until he’s talking at her ear. 

“What d’you wanna do?” 

Giorno had sent the two of them here. A mission, he’d said; a small one—chump change, in the grand scheme of things. Maybe it had been Mista who had said that part. A branch of the Sorrentino family’s been running cocaine through the arcade downstairs for the better part of a year, never warming to the idea of giving it up under the organization’s new leadership, and Giorno had figured that he’d shown them enough patience and benevolence. 

Although Narancia’s been keeping busy—just a week ago he’d gone to Syracuse with Giorno for a meeting of the caporegimes, and had come back with cigar smell on all of his clothes—this is the first assignment Giorno’s given Trish since March. It had made enough sense, she guesses, for her to go; four years of living in Naples have made her no stranger to it, and missions that might involve bullets tend to benefit from Spice Girl’s assistance. But this is a little small-time for Narancia, who mostly keeps to bodyguarding these days. 

She hadn’t felt like asking Giorno for his reasoning. It’s always a headache. She hasn’t gotten to catch up with Narancia in a while anyway, so it had been a welcome thing despite the circumstances to see him again. 

She swirls her drink—a cloudy orange thing with a Maraschino cherry in it—in her glass. It’s more a prop than anything else; she doesn’t drink when she knows she’ll have to fight. But it’s a little tempting, with Narancia looking like that.

“We can just hang out,” Narancia says, still at her ear. “See what happens.” 

His breath hits the side of her neck when he talks like this. When the pink’s pink switches on, it illuminates him, makes the sweat on his throat and upper lip glimmer. A little of it has condensed at his temple and trickles now down the path the brow bone makes. 

At a club like this, she wants to say, you draw attention to yourself by standing around. They might be the only ones here who are doing it, loitering against the dark wall by the bathrooms. She wants to say that at a club like this, you dance.

She doesn’t really know what trips her up. It’s not like she’s never danced with Narancia before—but she’s never done it in a place like this, where people dance to show each other something. 

She feels the nudge of Narancia’s elbow on her arm and turns her head. When she does, the lights turn blue, sending indigo plunging down his face and the front of his shirt, which is bright yellow and wide open. He has the first four buttons undone, so that the front only comes together over his pants. 

He tilts his head; some hair falls into his face, veiling one side. He’s giving her a familiar, half-lidded stare. 

“You okay?” he asks, frowning. 

“Fine,” Trish says, instead of you’re glowing. “We’ll stand out if we don’t dance, though.” 

“Oh, yeah,” Narancia replies, looking out at the rest of the room with one hand behind his neck. “Yeah, I guess you’re right…” 

His eyes dart to her for a second just wide enough that she perceives it. Hesitantly, he asks, “You… don’t mind?”

Trish tosses back a little of her drink, which is stronger and significantly more disgusting than she expects; it burns the tip of her tongue on the way down. She plays it off pretty well, all things considered. There’s no place to leave the cup, so she sets it on the floor against the wall. 

In lieu of an answer—because telling him that she doesn’t mind suddenly feels like it would reveal something inside of her not unlike the pink light illuminating the room—she closes her hand around his wrist and pulls. He follows with no resistance. 

She knows this song, or at least she knows what it used to be, before parts of it were rearranged, intensified, burying the words under a beat built to soften bone. Narancia’s eyes catch hers when he turns to face her, and as he frees his wrist his fingers tease her palm. 

He’s probably doing it to make her feel at ease, but that’s not how it makes her feel. Not exactly. 

Narancia’s always been a good dancer. Trish had known this from the start. There’s that one that he and Mista and Fugo do—she’s seen it only once or twice—and many besides, ones that he’s made up and ones that he’s practiced enough times that they’re second nature. 

She thinks that what he does when she starts moving is the former: something both fitful and deliberate, centered on the hands. He keeps looking at her while he does it, and smiling, both of these unbroken, matching her movements so seamlessly that she starts to wonder if she’s leading him at all. 

“I missed you,” he says breathlessly when they lean closer. “In Syracuse.” 

Trish’s throat tightens up. A lot of her tightens up, just for a second, twisted to its breaking point, thinking about Narancia missing her in Syracuse. 

It’s just nerves, she thinks forcefully; it’s just the enemy Stand energy, pushing at her from all sides, without a definite source. It’s only gotten more palpable now that they’re on the dance floor. Whoever it belongs to has to be close. 

Someone crashes into her from the side, making her stumble. Narancia’s hand darts out and hooks under her elbow. 

“Thanks,” she says, steadying herself on her heels. “I’m good.”

Narancia nods, not letting go of her arm. He looks up, eyes flicking over her shoulder, and his gaze sharpens. 

“Hey, wait a minute—that’s the guy,” he hisses, “that’s our guy, he was in the picture! The picture Giorno gave us!” 

Trish wants to whip her head around and look, but unlike Narancia she’s learned a thing or two about the life-saving art of subtlety. She lightly smacks his shoulder with her free hand, and he falls silent, pouting. 

She leans close to speak into his ear, close enough that their cheeks are nearly touching. When she does, his grip on her elbow slackens by a fraction, so she looses her arm, twisting it over her head, keeping up her thoughtless, languid movements. The music’s slower now, with a dense, hypnotic beat, potent enough to taste. 

“Keep dancing,” she says into the shell of Narancia’s ear. “What’s he doing?” 

“Just standing around,” Narancia mutters. He lifts the back of his wrist to his mouth, wiping away the sweat. When his eyebrows twitch with concentration, Trish’s lips feel dry. “Keeps looking at the exit. Think he’s waiting for somebody?”

“Probably.” Trish tries to focus. It’s not working. “Hey, Narancia…” 

There’s no contact between their bodies, but it feels like there is; it feels like Narancia’s so close she could mistake him for the blood in her veins, the air in her lungs. She feels kind of dizzy, suddenly. 

She pulls her head away—anything to give herself some distance—but maybe that’s worse, because now she can see his face in all its details: his eyes, all bright with adrenaline; his hair, some of it curled from sweat at his forehead; the corner of his mouth, pulled up, exposing a canine. She can feel his anticipation through Aerosmith, like an engine rumbling between them, too hot to safely touch. 

“Narancia,” she says again, though his name gets stuck in her throat. After a delay, his gaze rejoins hers, still sharpened, still luminous. “Focus. All right? If we screw this up—”

“I know, I know,” he drawls, dropping his shoulders. “Big mess for us, big mess for Giorno.” 

He lays a hand on the back of his neck, scratching contemplatively at the nape. Trish watches the tendons of his arm move beneath the skin. 

“We can’t just stand around and dance all night,” she says, almost chastising, even though it had been her idea.

“Oh,” Narancia replies, deflating a little. “Right, right.” 

“I just mean he’s—he’s bound to make a move sooner or later.” 


Trish figures they may as well cash in their chips now—she’ll have Narancia haul him out back, and that’ll be the end of that—and then they can go home, and she can stuff her face into a pillow or touch herself or whatever she needs to do to untangle the inexplicable heat expanding from her center, constricting every vital part of her—whatever she needs to do to stop thinking like this about Narancia, her friend, her best friend. It’s not like Giorno wants them to round up the whole racket, just the boss—and the boss is standing not twenty feet from her, checking his watch—they’re golden. No point in drawing it out. 

She turns to tell Narancia that they can go for it, but the thought evaporates. Narancia’s breathing hard. He does it with his mouth open. She can see how the planes of his chest move through the slit of his shirt, how the lights glint dully on the sheen of sweat that permeates the skin. Blue, then pink. 

“So let’s—let’s just take him out now,” she hears herself say, and she congratulates herself for keeping her voice even, unrevealing. “Right? Yeah?”

Narancia grins, punching a fist into his open palm and kneading into the knuckles so they crack, one by one.

“Right.” He echoes her words so nicely, replicating every edge. “Yeah.” 


The guy’s Stand is totally weak. Narancia has to try not to laugh about it for the whole fight. Soundgarden? Altering sound waves to mess with people’s hearing? Yeah, right. Aerosmith doesn’t even need sound. It’s so easy they could’ve sent Abbacchio to do it. By himself

They have to chase him up to the rooftop. Even though his Stand is lame, it doesn’t go down easy, and neither does he. Narancia and Aerosmith track his movements while Trish and Spice Girl beat him down. Maybe Narancia gets a little too into it—Behind the fan, Trish. Left, left. Kick his ass!—but Trish is grinning the whole time, so he doesn’t bother holding back. 

He likes watching Trish fight, plain and simple. She’s good at it, and she’s only gotten better with practice. She still trains almost every week with Bucciarati, even though he’s retired. It had come as a surprise to all of them when she’d said she would throw her lot in with Passione four years back, at the end and the beginning of it all—maybe Narancia most of all, but he hadn’t voiced it—but she’d ended up being pretty suited for it. 

He and Trish are in the same caste in the organization—soldati through and through, and they both like keeping it that way—but he can’t deny that Trish feels like his capo, sometimes. (Trish feels like the don, sometimes, but he’s not about to start broadcasting that.) When he sees her fight, he can’t help wondering if her music and her insistence on maintaining a separate, distinct life from Passione are the only things keeping her from that kind of power. He’s not about to interrogate it too deeply, though. If it’s good enough for Trish, it’s good enough for him.  

They don’t kill the guy, or anything, but they do a number on him. The message it’s going to leave for the rest of his gang is not ambiguous, but Trish still squats down next to him on her five-inch heels and says in a low voice, “Don Giovanna sends his regards, so be sure to thank him,” and Narancia inconveniently remembers that he’s probably going to be in love with her for the rest of his natural life. 

He doesn’t let it get to him. At least she doesn’t know about it. 

Anyway, it all goes off without a hitch. Narancia’s not used to that; it feels pretty good. It’s a nice night out, to boot—cold, but not too cold. The wind’s blowing eastward, and smells like autumn. 

He follows Trish back to the roof’s access door. When they’re both on the other side, she locks it behind them with a smirk. 

“That should do it,” she says briskly, back to her old self. She reaches up with both hands to fix her hair. “Thanks for watching my back.”

Narancia stuffs down a very embarrassing monologue about how he could stare at her back all day and instead grunts, “Mm. ’Course.” 

The hallway’s dark, but his eyes have started to adjust. There’s another door at the end of it, which leads to the two flights of stairs that will take them back to the club. It’s quieter up here, even with the muffled music throbbing through the floor, and the air’s not so stuffy. 

He glances over at Trish and feels a grin grow on his face. 

“You were awesome,” he says, leaning over with his hands in his back pockets. 

Trish snorts, but there’s a faint twitch of pleasure at the ends of her mouth. She deliberately looks straight ahead at the wall instead of him. 

That just makes him grin wider.

“You were awesome,” he repeats, delighting in being loud. Spurred by leftover adrenaline and something else, he lunges over and sweeps her up into a hug, hoisting her off the floor. “Don Giovanna sends his regards!” 

Trish shrieks with laughter, the heels of her palms slamming onto his shoulders as if to push herself even higher. Her stomach shakes against his chest. 

“Stop it, come on, put me down—”

Narancia, snickering, swings her around once and drops her to the floor again, closer to the wall than he plans. Her back ends up flush against it, and her palms are braced on his chest, and the occasional giggle scatters through her; she’s close enough that Narancia takes them in, too. His arms are still around her waist.


He figures that his smile flickers out at the same time hers does. He doesn’t know how to explain it, the way that the air shifts between them, like a disrupted fault line. 

Trish’s eyes stray in almost rigid movements, as if she’s trying to keep them still, to his mouth. And they stay there. 

And she reaches for his face.

They kiss for just a rushed, impulsive second—her lips on his lips, her palms on his cheeks—and then break apart, open-mouthed, and stare at each other in shock. Her face is flushed pink, and her eyes are dark and intense in a way that he doesn’t think he’s ever seen before, and one corner of her purple lipstick is now just the tiniest bit smudged. 

Narancia loses track of everything else. He wants to kiss her again so bad that his heart might dislodge itself. 

“Huh,” he says with a dreamy smile, like a genius. “Wow.”

She drags him back with a sudden, desperate force, mashing their lips together—and Narancia’s eyelids drop. He kisses Trish again and again, until their breathing makes a mess of itself, until he isn’t sure whose air or tongue or hunger is whose. Her hand runs up the back of his neck and steers him where she wants him: sideways, straight-on; he bends to it comfortably. Goosebumps, or the shape of them, cascade up and down his back, and when Trish grabs a fistful of his hair and tugs at it the sensation bursts in every direction, dividing itself into fragments so that he can feel it all over. 

After a few minutes or a few years she breaks off, kissing a firm line across his cheek, and pulls him into a hug. Well, calling it a hug feels like it undersells it; Narancia doesn’t think he’s ever hugged anybody like this. She has one arm slung across the middle of his back and the other bent behind his head, and her hand musses and tangles the hair at the crown of his head, hard, and holds it, and holds it. 

Narancia clings to her, buries his face in her neck. Sweat’s thinned out the perfume, but he knows it so well that he can still smell it anyway. Crisp and sweet and—Trish. He breathes it in until it fills up all the chambers of his heart, and then some. 

“Do you want…” Trish pulls back, and when Narancia’s perception realigns itself he sees her with her head bowed, almost shy. “What do you want to do?” 

Anything, Narancia’s mind blurts back, because the rest of him’s too busy with committing the taste of her neck to memory. Everything

“Because I—I want you,” she says, decisive, and Narancia’s heart practically eats pavement. “Right here, right now. Is that… I mean, would that be—okay?”

Narancia still isn’t convinced he’s not dreaming—it wouldn’t be the first time—but just in case he nods as many times as he possibly can.

“Yeah,” he says, and in a moment of either courage or yearning or both he kisses her once on the mouth, lingering up close for a slow second afterwards. “Yeah, yes, definitely.”

Trish’s grin only lasts a moment, but it takes his breath from him like a thief. It goes all the way to her eyes, ignites something in the depths of them—something he decides in half a second that he’d chase to the ends of the earth. 

“You’ve—” She hesitates, combing some of her hair back with one hand. “You’ve done it, right?” 

Narancia has—just a couple of times, not with anybody important—but he doesn’t think he wants to go into the details of it or anything. (Especially considering one of them had been Giorno, who is important, but not like that.)

“Um, yeah,” he says, and realizes he’s blushing. He doesn’t know why it feels weird to tell Trish this. “But, y’know. It was a while ago.” 

“Oh,” Trish says, nodding. “Yeah, me too.” 

And hearing that feels much weirder—his brow furrows deeply—but before he can bark out any questions she’s tentatively slipped a hand beneath the fabric of his shirt, running it along his chest until her fingertips brush his nipple, and then not a single question he’s ever had in his life is even remotely important. 

His eyes flutter closed before he can think to keep them open, so it comes as a surprise to him when she mouths up the side of his neck and starts moving her middle finger in a small, deliberate circle. Sparks of feeling scatter from that touch, and before he can chase them there’s a hand tugging his shirt tail out from his pants and running up the skin. Trish’s palm settles flat against the small of his back, and drags him closer.

Closer is good, Narancia thinks into that wondrous dark, breathing strangely, his fingers straying up and down the lengths of Trish’s arms. Closer is great. 

“If you just want to kiss, that’s okay,” she says softly, and presses her parted lips to his. “I don’t mind. But… how do you… I mean.” He’s not used to hearing Trish second-guess herself so much. Has anyone ever heard Trish like this? Is he the first? “What do you want?” 

“Whatever you want,” he says in a daze, eyes still closed. 

Trish sighs, slumping against the wall until her head hits the wood with a thunk

“That’s nice, Narancia, but it is useless.” 

“My bad.” 

“I’m serious!”

Narancia opens his eyes. 

“Me too,” he says to hers, unblinking.

She runs her hand up his chest until it slides along the side of his neck and toys with the ends of his hair. She gives him a pensive, lingering stare, with a tilted head and a bitten lip. 

“Well… have you gone down on anyone before?” she whispers. 

Narancia’s face crawls with a new, exhilarated heat. Mutely, he shakes his head. 

“That’s fine,” Trish says, and hooks her hand behind his neck, easing him closer. “It’s fine. I’ll talk you through it.” 

Trish could talk him through anything, Narancia thinks almost deliriously—calculating x, defusing a bomb, eating her out—he would listen and listen and listen. All he can do to demonstrate this to her is to nod, his head held between her hands.

“Okay… get down,” Trish tells him softly. “Get down on your knees.” 

Narancia does as he’s told. The floor’s hard on his knees, but he doesn’t care; the back of Trish’s thigh is soft when he touches it, and the heft of it is right against his palm. He cranes his neck to look at her, expecting the next instruction, but she’s staring down at him with a hazy, admiring look on her face, her lips just loose enough that he can see the edges of her teeth.

“What?” he asks. 

“Nothing,” Trish whispers, blinking, swallowing. “Nothing… nothing. You just…” 

Her fingers tighten in his hair on one side; it sends a quick pinpricking sensation down his neck, makes his heartbeat stutter. His eyelids almost drop all the way, but he keeps them open, if just to look at Trish looking at him a little longer, from all the way up there. 

Her thumb strokes the ridge of his left ear. At this, he does close his eyes, just for a second. Trish’s touch makes so many parts of him remarkable, parts that never feel like anything when he touches them—but all at once they’re reinvented, like there’s some second body he has, just for this. Just for her.  

“Okay?” she asks. 

“Mhm,” Narancia says, tilting his head into the touch. “Mm. Yeah.” 

Trish breathes out in a faint, shaky way that ties his heart at both ends. She draws her left hand across the side of his face, her fingertips lingering on his cheek. He opens his eyes again, sweeps them up to her. 

“You can pull my underwear down,” she says, her face suddenly flushed, “or… just push them to the side. Be careful with them, they’re lace and they’re really—” She pauses, looking troubled. “I’m serious. Don’t rip them.” 

This makes Narancia nervous. He isn’t sure he could guarantee he won’t mess up Trish’s underwear somehow, but if she wants him to be in charge of taking them off then who is he to kill the flow? Still, the kind of stuff Trish wears is always expensive, you know, tasteful, and if he had to replace it he doesn’t even know what kind she’d want, and bringing her along to shop for it would be kind of weird, right—

Cautiously, he sets his palms flat on each of Trish’s legs and moves them up, until his fingers slip under the fabric of her dress. Trish bites her lip and hooks two fingers under the hem, hiking it up to what must be just under her navel. 

The straps of her underwear are thinner than a shoelace, and glimmer dully in the light like satin. The front, as she’d said, is lace—black, delicate. Some pink curls peek through the sheer fabric. Unthinking, Narancia leans forward and plants a kiss there, right in the middle. 

“What are you doing?” Trish asks, but there’s fondness and amusement in it, almost a laugh. 

“Sorry,” he says, all but springing back, blushing to his ears. “Shit. Sorry, it just looked… um… really cute.” 

“Thanks,” says Trish, and laughs all the way. “Go ahead.” 

Narancia’s paralyzed for a moment, torn between the two options she’d given him—take them off all the way, or just move them? Ah, there’s no way he wouldn’t rip them if he moved them—it would probably stretch them too much—but pulling them all the way down to her ankles seems even riskier. They could snag on something—one of her heels, or—

He must spend too long debating this, because Trish sighs and reaches down herself. Carefully, she wedges her first two fingers under the elastic and pulls it to the side, neatly bunching the lace up in the fold where her thigh begins.

“Now just…” She absently combs her right fingers through his hair, and Narancia has to work not to close his eyes again. “Just kind of… feel around. Touch things. It’ll be too sensitive otherwise.” 

“Things?” Narancia asks cluelessly. 

Trish looks at him for a moment, uncurling her fingers from the lace; her nails are lacquered a glittery jet black. Narancia watches her fingers, and forgets the rest.

“Touch me anywhere,” she tells him, and when he doesn’t lift his head she does it for him, hooking two fingers under his chin. “Anywhere you want.” 

Narancia swallows—or at least his throat makes the motions for it, but there’s nothing there for it to take. Trish has all of it. She isn’t smiling, but her cheeks are a pleasant shade of red, and the longer he gazes back at her with his neck bent back, the darker they become. Downstairs, the music goes on pulsing—he can feel it through the floor.

He kisses her everywhere that he can think of: the inside of her thighs, the front of her legs, her stomach and waist. Normally it’d be kind of an awkward angle, he knows, but she’s wearing heels and he’s never been that tall anyway—when he tilts his head back, his mouth lines up with where her clit should be just right.

He keeps his left hand on her thigh and lets the other stray between her legs, following the line of her folds with his middle finger. It’s already warm and wet, and Trish opens her legs a bit more when he touches her, making a noise adjacent to a whimper. He tucks his thumb into the middle and pulls her open a little wider on one side. 

He bends his neck, breathes in deep, and opens his mouth. Trish tastes—not really like what he’d expected, but then again, what had he expected? She tastes alive. That’s the best word for it. He runs his tongue experimentally along the—what is it—whatever it is, it feels good, it feels nice, and it makes Trish sigh faintly through her nose, and shudder. 

“Yeah, just like that,” she murmurs, petting his hair. Narancia feels a shiver deep in his stomach. “Slow.” 

So he goes slow for a while, and Trish gets wetter and wetter, warmer and warmer. After a few minutes her head drops back and she starts to breathe in a way he’s never heard before, deep and slow, almost fake, like she’s trying to convince someone she knows how. 

“Oh,” she says, or her breath does. “Narancia, that’s… that’s good… you’re doing so good.” 

That does something to him—Trish, praising him so plainly. He doesn’t do a very good job of hiding it, either; he only hears himself groan into her when it’s too late to think to hold it inside of him.

“Good,” she says hoarsely, approvingly. “Mm. You’re perfect.”

He groans again, like an idiot. His blood throbs in his ears, his jaw, his brain. He’s so hard that it hurts a little, in the best way—maybe the hardest he’s ever been in his life. 

He’s thought about this before. He’s thought about it—Trish, talking to him like this. He’s never had an especially vivid imagination, but it had always conjured enough in the dark. The real thing is ten times better—a hundred times better. 

It’s easy to get lost in it. When she tells him to go faster, he goes faster; when she tells him to slow down, he slows down, trancelike. Her breathing shallows, quickens. Narancia’s eyes stay open, but they slip out of focus; everything except for Trish, the satiny wrinkles of her dress, the erratic rise and fall of her chest, the gaping shape of her mouth, is all blurry—so blurry that it might not even be real. 

“M-my birthday,” she says out of nowhere—a hundred miles away, in his estimation.

Narancia, only half-listening, doesn’t pull back. “Hm?”

“My birthday… that house in Salerno,” she says, panting, and he sucks at her a little harder, thrilled by the way that her voice hitches when he does. “You fell—Mista pushed you into the pool. I came over to… to help you, and—when you were getting out you came up the ladder… I was standing there and you were holding the, the railings and you looked up at me and—that was when I knew I… mm, wanted—”

She breaks off, runs a hand up the front of her face until it’s tangled in her hair. That’s right, Narancia realizes, somewhat dissonantly—the only thing Trish really knows to hold onto is herself. 

“This,” she says, and slings her arm across her eyes, so that all Narancia can see is her mouth, coming undone into a smile. “I wanted—this.”

Want wrings at his stomach, unrelenting. He keeps going. 

The sounds that she makes are almost too much to handle on their own, but when one of them arranges itself into something like his name, it makes him want to touch himself right then and there. He wonders if he could get off by Trish saying his name alone, wonders if she could tell him to do it and he’d do it. It feels like it’s possible. 

“Narancia, I’m… you’re so good,” she says. Her voice is weightless, threadlike; it moves through him like it owns him. Maybe it does. “I’ve—I’ve liked you forever, you know that? The whole time… the whole…” 

Narancia wants to say me too, me too, the whole time, forever, always. He settles for moving his thumb back and forth across the side of her leg, feeling the little twitches and shivers in the skin underneath. Is she ticklish? That’s so cute—that’s—

“...amazing,” Trish gasps, softly, softly. “Perfect, perfect, Narancia.” 

Can Spice Girl feel it, too? Narancia’s never really considered that before—it’s a little weird—but she probably can, right? If she can’t feel it, she can at least see it. She can at least watch. The thought of that sends a jolt of something through his abdomen, all the way down.

“You doing okay?” Trish asks, and although her voice trembles a little it’s still just as authoritative, just as clear. “Y-You know if you don’t like it, you…” 

Narancia slowly nods his head as best he can with it wedged between her thighs. She’s so wet that his thumb keeps slipping, so wet that her hair’s thick with it. He could do this—taste this, feel this, listen to this—all night. For a hundred nights. Forever. Until he forgets his own name. 

“Ah,” Trish says, with a sudden electric urgency. “Ah—already—”

All of the muscles in her legs start to spasm at once, right under his palms, and then they tense up. For a second he almost pulls back, thinking he’s done something wrong, but her fingers are gripping his hair, holding him close, so he doesn’t stop. Then her hips judder forward. She claps a hand over her mouth. 

When she cries out, it’s muffled against her palm. What Narancia wouldn’t give to be that hand, to be that close to the sound—but Trish coming right in his hands, her body bucking in motions he’s never seen but can follow all the same, is pretty good, too. 

More than pretty good. It’s so good that his heart might break his ribs to pieces in its haste to give itself to her, but maybe that’s nothing new.

She says his name so many times—each syllable drawn out, adored—but he’s still greedy for more. He can’t help it. When she’s finished, shivering and half-limp, she has to gently push him away by the forehead with two fingers.

“Sorry,” he says in a daze, slack-jawed, before she’s even taken her hand away. 

She lets go, panting. Without the support, he sags forward until his forehead drops against her stomach. He keeps it there, and exhales through his nose until there’s no air left in him, breathing with her for a while.

Maybe she tips his head back again unconsciously—she doesn’t do it with much force, but he cranes his neck as if her strength is invincible all the same, angling his face up to her. Finally his vision focuses again, and Trish is at the center of it, in arresting clarity: a strap of her dress has fallen down. Her lipstick’s a mess—there are faded marks from where he’d kissed her, so he must be wearing half of it. The insides of her thighs are glistening, and her pubic hair’s still parted, even though his thumb is no longer touching it.

She looks at him for a long time, wide-eyed, flushed all over. Eventually she folds her lips in until her mouth is a thin pink line. It’s so cute Narancia almost busts up laughing, but he isn’t quite sure what emotion it might translate into—it might be bad. 

“Sorry,” he says again, clearer this time. Uncertainly, he lifts his hands away from her body, hovering at either side of her. “Um, sorry, was it bad?”

“Oh my god,” Trish says, and then makes a muffled noise, almost a snort. She covers her mouth with her hand for a second, and when she pulls it away she’s—she’s beaming, sun-bright. “Oh my god,” she squeaks, and then she flings her arms around his neck and squishes him against her abdomen, hunching over as if to fold him inside of her. 

When she laughs, he can feel it move through her, countless little spasms of it, exhilarated.

Narancia knows each one of the Trish Una laughs by heart. This is a good one. Before he knows it, he’s laughing, too. 

“Oh my god, I can’t believe we just did that,” she says, and starts peppering the part of his hair with kisses. “You’re amazing, you’re the best.”

Narancia shakes his head—his hair swishes against her dress—and grins stupidly into her skin, closing his eyes.

“Mm, you,” he mumbles. “You are.”

Trish scoffs and aggressively ruffles his hair. Narancia’s so limp and stupid and happy that his head just rolls around. When Trish sees this, she goes still. Quiet.

“Narancia,” she breathes out, all amazement and tenderness. “I’m… I’m really—I’m really happy you’re—” The word shudders. “Here.”

“Of course I’m here,” Narancia retorts sourly, insulted by the suggestion that he’d be anywhere else after that

Then the meaning sinks onto him. 

“Oh. I mean. Yeah.” He opens his eyes again, holds on to the way she’s looking at him, how it seems to name everything unnameable inside of him. “Yeah, I’m here.”

Trish lets out a ragged breath that she’d kill him for pointing out and swiftly squats down to his height, dragging him into a clumsy, clinging hug. And this time, it is a hug. Narancia wraps his arms around her shoulders, thumbing the indentation in the skin of her shoulder, where her dress strap would usually be. 

Absentmindedly, he pulls it back up. 

“Trish, um,” he says, his throat thick from the truth of it, “I… love you.”

Well, there it is. Four-ish years of sitting on it, and there it is. At Trish’s answering silence, panic lunges through him, but he keeps still, waits for the impact. 

“Oh yeah?” she says slyly. She pulls back, but keeps her hands linked at the nape of his neck. She bites her smile when he looks at it head-on, and he almost slumps forward and kisses her all over again. “Don’t worry. I won’t tell anybody.” 

“You can tell everybody,” Narancia murmurs, barely even thinking about what he’s saying. “You can tell whoever you want. I don’t care.” 

The smile slips off of Trish’s face, leaving some feather of itself behind. Her lips part around a word that he already knows isn’t there. Her eyes glimmer strangely. Beautifully. 

“How long?” she whispers. 

“Forever. Whole time. There was, um…” He struggles to communicate the memory: the silent room, the tension burdening her brow; his wrist, almost limp, in her cold, steady hands. “When you changed my bandages. In Rome? Yeah.” 

“That was four years ago.” 

“Yeah,” he says, blinking. “And?” 

“Bandages—” Trish’s shoulders slump, but she’s still holding onto him, as if it’s second nature. She looks totally bemused by this admission. “Why?” 

“Don’t know,” Narancia says, quieter than he expects. “Just… your face, and…” He trails off. “I just kinda felt it, and—well. That was, uh, it.” 

Trish stares at him for what feels like a long, long time—or maybe that’s just the aftermath, lengthening each moment until it’s wide enough to live in. 

He’s not expecting the almost weightless tenderness with which she cups his right cheek in her warm hand, and he’s not expecting her to breathe out thinly and kiss him the way that she does, soft and sure and slow. 

When they break apart, there’s no sound. Her hand eases away, but her fingertips remain: four of them, where his throat meets his jaw. He gazes besottedly at her face.

“What am I going to do with you?” she whispers with a deep and unadorned affection. 

Kiss me again, Narancia almost says.

Before he can give her a real answer, she’s easing him backwards—he falls back a little clumsily, with his legs askew and his hands braced against the floorboards. Trish ends up kneeling, maneuvering herself closer until she’s right between his legs. She fixes her underwear, pulls down her dress. 

Narancia can’t decide whether to look at her face—the freckles, the still-perfect mascara, the steady green eyes, the smile that knows something—or her hands, wandering up his thighs. He’s still hard, and there’s no way she doesn’t feel it with how close she is. Probably no way she doesn’t see it, either. 

“Here,” she says softly, and starts undoing his belt. 

Narancia’s brain almost short-circuits. Trish’s hands aren’t even on his pants, they aren’t even on his skin, but he feels that touch in every bone and ligament he has. 

“U-Um, wait, wait,” he blurts out, throwing out a hand. Trish’s arms spring back immediately, and so does she, without reproach. “Sorry, just, uh, you don’t—I mean, y-you don’t have to, or anything…” 

“I know I don’t have to,” Trish says incredulously. Then, gentle, “I won’t if you don’t want me to.” 

“No, I—” Narancia winces. It isn’t that he doesn’t want her to—it isn’t that at all—and he’s never known Trish to feel like she owes anything to anybody… but, well… “I just.” 

His ears are burning. What’s the use ever been in lying to Trish, anyway? He wants to do it even less now. 

“I just.” He clears his throat, keeping his eyes on the floor. “Don’t think I’m gonna… last very long.” 

“Oh,” Trish says, like he’s just told her tomorrow is Saturday. “Is that all?” 

Narancia blinks in surprise, but she’s already working at his belt again, making easy work of the buckle. She has it undone in a couple of seconds, and then she’s freeing the button, unzipping his pants, like they’re hers, like he’s hers—Narancia feels hysterical. He’s thought about this, too. So many times. 

“You…” he says, breathing faintly, and lifts his eyes to her face, which is so close to his, so calm. “You sure?” 

Trish closes her eyes and nudges her nose into the side of his, nuzzling his cheek. She slips her hand under his waistband, and Narancia’s gone. Soaring.

“Yeah,” she says, and with her other hand she starts to stroke his hair. “Don’t worry. I’ve got you.”

Narancia knows. That’s the thing, he thinks, collapsed against the wall; that’s the thing, he thinks as his eyes roll back—though he isn’t sure how to make her understand its magnitudes. That’s the thing. He already knows.