She can’t stand the quiet.
It hits her every night like a physical slap when she opens the apartment door – no Natsumi moaning about how exhausted she is; no Natsumi sneaking bites as she tries to make supper and complaining when she gets caught; no Natsumi railing at the TV when the latest debacle concerning Strikeman is reported.
Just the tick of the kitchen clock and the too-loud thumping of her own heart. The silence is a tangible presence, pressing down on her until it drives her to the balcony in a futile effort to escape. Some nights she’ll go for a drive – but the empty passenger seat beside her only seems to make the mocking silence louder. In desperation, she throws herself into work.
She knows the others are worried, that they don’t believe her when she says she’s fine; she can feel their eyes watching her. She just keeps her head down and keeps working – faster, harder, longer, so that when she does go home she’s too exhausted to notice the silence.
It comes to a head one night when Nakajima comes back from the graveyard patrol to find her in the garage tinkering with her patrol car. There’s no sign of his usual indecisive and wishy-washy attitude as he hauls her to her feet and grabs the wrench from her hand – over her rather loud and strident protests that bring both Toukairin and the night watchman running.
Before she knows it, he’s popped a helmet on her head and she’s holding on for dear life as he drives her home on his bike with a speed that’s just this side of reckless. He’s barely brought the bike to a stop before she’s jumping off and tossing her helmet at him before striding away. She heads straight for the elevator, and wonder of wonders, she doesn’t have to wait for it.
She closes the doors without glancing back at Nakajima, and spends the entire ride up running over her mental to-do list to avoid thinking of the silence waiting for her. The doors open and she strides to her door with her head down, only to come to an abrupt stop at the sight of a slightly winded Nakajima waiting outside her door.
He doesn’t say anything, but he’s a rather intimidating presence behind her that she does her best to ignore as she tries to get into the apartment and close the door.
But Nakajima’s quicker than she was expecting; a gloved hand grabs the edge of the door before she even makes it all the way in. She doesn’t want to make a scene – nothing will bring the neighbours out faster, even at this hour, than a hint of drama – and she can’t match his physical strength so she doesn’t bother, leaving him to close and lock the door as she sheds her outerwear.
She doesn’t get two strides away before he grabs her arm, “We need to talk.”
“There’s nothing to talk about,” she counters, “I’m fine.”
His raised eyebrow tells her exactly what he things about that statement, and suddenly she hates the sunglasses he’s still wearing at nearly three in the morning. She slips her arm free and stalks into the kitchen, going through the motions of making tea she doesn’t want because it gives her an excuse to keep moving and avoid his gaze.
She ignores him in favour of placing the kettle on the stove.
“What?” She snaps, finally turning around. A zing shoots down her spine when she realizes he’s taken off his sunglasses and is staring at her with hard, dark eyes, a muscle twitching in his jaw.
“You can’t keep doing this to yourself,” he says flatly.
She shrugs a shoulder as she pours the tea, feigning indifference despite her stomach twisting in knots. “I’m just working, that’s all.”
Nakajima shakes his head and lets out an exasperated breath as he rifles his fingers through his hair, and it’s the last straw as she slams her cup down.
“Oh, what do you care?! It’s none of your business!”
A low blow, but she’s tired of the void that never goes away despite all the work and the physical exhaustion. She needs to escape that sad and knowing look that makes her feel like he can see into her soul, so she turns to flee the kitchen.
But Nakajima’s faster and then he’s right there and she barely avoids slamming into him.
He’s pleading when he says her name and she flinches back, gaze involuntarily flying up to meet his. The naked love she sees there is so much it makes her chest hurt and her eyes tear. Before she can second guess herself or over think or anything, she grabs him by the collar of the leather jacket he has yet to remove and pushes up on her toes as she hauls his head down.
The kiss is rough and bruising and when Nakajima doesn’t respond she lets go and drops her arms. She ducks around him, gaze blurring as she runs to the haven of her room.
He catches her around the waist as she grabs the doorknob.
She spins in his grasp, “For what?” She flinches when he raises a leather-gloved hand, unable to make out his muttering as he peels the glove off with his teeth before using his now bare hand to tilt her chin up. She can’t really make out his features through the tears, but the soft press of his lips against hers – nothing like the kiss in the kitchen - makes her choke on a startled sob. He withdraws, and she blinks up at Nakajima, taking in the tousled hair, broad shoulders...and the solid heartbeat thumping under her hand.
Suddenly, another night where her heartbeat is the only thing she hears seems unbearable. She twists the doorknob behind her as she slides her other hand to the back of his neck, and tugs him forward as she steps back.
He hesitates in the doorway, and something twists inside her that feels suspiciously like guilt, but she pushes it away.
She can barely push enough air from her lungs to form the word, but he hears anyway. With a softly muttered oath he leaves the light of the hallway and steps into her darkened room, closing the door as he does. He hesitates again, and before his natural awkwardness can reassert itself she steps forward, sliding her hands under his jacket, pushing it off his shoulders as she tilts her head up for another kiss. His hesitance grows as his jacket drops to the floor, followed by his scarf and other glove.
He finally breaks the kiss, hands on her shoulders holding her not quite at arm’s-length. He’s going to stop, she can see it in his eyes and the thought of alone the only one here sends a wave of desperation through her.
She pushes forward, wrapping her arms around him and burrowing her face into his chest, and it’s the monster hunt all over again, only this time the monsters are all in her head. His arms come around her slowly, jerkily, and when his fingers slip under the hem of her shirt she isn’t sure if it’s intentional or not.
The next kiss is different again, a hot melding of mouths that has them tumbling on the bed before she’s realized they’ve moved. He’s peeling her coveralls off her shoulders before she’s got half his shirt buttons undone, and she fumbles with his belt as he slides them off. The silk of her underwear feels differently from this morning, changing from functional garments to a sensual slide over skin.
Nakajima freezes as she drops his belt to the floor and her hands continue their journey. Then it’s like a dam breaks, and his mouth crushes down on hers, stealing the breath from her lungs and kicking her senses into overdrive.
Then his hands are sliding across her skin (and when did she lose her underwear?), and they aren’t as rough as she’d been expecting, but she barely registers the thought before her attention is taken up with the suddenly bared expanse of his chest. She runs her hands across the broad planes of his shoulders, across the flat expanse of his pecs, and down the twitching muscles of his abdomen. She suddenly realizes how big he is; she feels (is) so tiny in comparison, but it hasn’t really registered until now, when there’s nothing but shadows and moonlight between their skin.
Then he’s settling between her legs, mouth moving from hers to trail kisses down her throat, and he’s moving so damn slow it’s giving her time to think, so she reaches down and slides her hands around him in a way that makes his back bow and his hips jerk. He grabs her hands, pinning them gently to the sheets. His mouth continues on, kissing and nipping a burning trail down her chest, avoiding the taut nipples she all but thrusts in his face. Down, down, and suddenly it registers where and what but oh god his lips and his tongue; and then it’s her back bowing and her hips jerking, jerking.
And she’s still breathless and shuddering as he kisses his way back up, and her hands are needy, clutching at his shoulders. He hesitates again, and she nearly screams in frustration as his body leaves hers.
“Miyuki, I don’t...I mean...”
The reason for his hesitance shoots across her awareness like a comet through the night sky, and she’s rifling awkwardly through her night table before he can stammer out the rest of his words. She shoves a packet – or several – at him, and then busies herself stealing another kiss.
When he finally settles back between her legs she arches up impatiently, so desperate to drive back the silence she doesn’t even care how wanton she acts. But the feel of him pushing in, in, in lifts the cotton from her ears, and suddenly all she can hear are his heavy breaths, the rustle of the sheets, the thunder of his heart…the sounds wrap around her like she wraps herself around Nakajima, and suddenly she’s crying.
Nakajima stops and she shakes her head franticly, tightening her limbs and her muscles around him until he starts to move again. The feel of his hard body against hers fans the flicker of desire suppressed by her overpowering depression, and suddenly she wants this. Wants him in her bed, in her body….but she shies away from letting him (completely) into her heart.
She threads her fingers through his hair and tugs Nakajima’s mouth back to hers. The slick slide of tongue-on-tongue makes her head spin, and when he tweaks a nipple it sends her over the edge again. Their mouths break apart as she throws her head back, gasping for air. He doesn’t stop moving, but shifts back onto his heels as his hands slide down her sides to grip her hips, and in this position it’s hard to miss the shuttered look in his eyes or grim press of his lips. Shame comes back tenfold, but it doesn’t stop her from begging him for more, don’t stop, don’t leave.
And he gives her what she wants: a temporary stopgap that drowns out the silence and makes her feel again, and when he finally comes apart in her arms she nearly feels human again.
Nakajima shifts to land beside her, though there isn’t a lot of room in her tiny bed for a man his size. Their breathing and heartrates begin to return to normal, and as they do guilt floods her again, and before she knows it she’s crying again. She doesn’t look at him when she feels Nakajima leave the bed, merely curling onto her side into a miserable ball. It isn’t until he returns, shifting her unresisting body under the covers and sliding in next to her that the floodgates really let go. Sobs tear their way out of her chest, but he stays quiet, tucking her against him.
She’s not even aware of falling asleep until she’s opening her eyes and there’s sunlight streaming into the room. She’s alone in the bed, but can hear someone clattering in the kitchen. The smell of coffee and eggs wafts through the open bedroom door, and Miyuki takes a deep breath before pushing to her feet.
She has an apology (a huge, awkward, humiliating apology) to make, so she grits her teeth and quickly showers – and refuses to delve too deeply into why she chooses to wear his uniform shirt afterwards.
But then she enters the kitchen and Nakajima drops his mug, and he’s suddenly back to being the awkward-as-an-untrained-puppy, blushing, stuttering man he’s always been. And then they’re bumping into each other trying to clean up the mess, and Nakajima trips over his own feet trying to stay out of her way, which knocks her feet out from under her – and suddenly they’re in a heap on the kitchen floor and Miyuki starts to laugh. She wraps her arms around him and just…lets go. Soon enough, he joins her, and they’re laughing like idiots on the kitchen floor while the puddle of coffee slowly spreads its way across the linoleum.
And maybe, Miyuki thinks, things aren’t as hopeless as she’s made them out to be.