|A Valentine's story for Naim & Nicodemus, from the ever-brilliant Star. May be familiar, as it was first posted in the LJ community, but read it regardless. It's damn shiny. *nod*|
So he had chocolates. What now? Naim wasn't interested in any holiday that gave Jess an excuse to be clingy around him. This was a frivolous holiday at best.
Even taking precautions to avoid Jess outside of class, he had ended up with a heart-shaped box. At least it was better than last year. He got chocolates out of it, if nothing else. What did she expect him to do with them, anyway?
Okay, assuming the mind of a normal person, just to eat them. There had to be a catch somewhere.
It was the same basic candy heart that could be found in just about any store this time of year. (The frilly ribbons were, thankfully, just a part of the design painted on the box.) Though something wasn't quite right. Naim knew that these were usually sold wrapped in plastic, and the absence made him suspect that Jess had tampered with something inside.
For now Naim just wanted to get away. Nothing had happened today, and that was almost worse than when things really did go out of control. At least then he wasn't spending the whole day expecting a blow that never came. Maybe if he could get away from the school he would be able to think. He would think of something that he had just overlooked before.
Though, at least he didn't have extra problems physically trying to follow him home. He caught a glimpse of Nicodemus in his rearview mirror. He looked the way Naim had been feeling all day, expecting to be attacked any minute, though in this case it was plain exactly what was making him expect it.
Naim didn't waste time thinking about what he was doing. He slowed, pulled up to the sidewalk, and waited for Nicodemus to catch up to him. Stretching across the seat to open the passenger side door, he reminded himself that Nicodemus had been thrown into the same situation as him, and if they were supposed to handle this together, he could at least try to see that Nicodemus didn't snap under stress.
Nicodemus noticed him, and hesitated. Naim looked up from moving his things off of the seat to find Nicodemus trying to decide if Naim was really waiting for him, and losing what little space he had managed put between himself and his usual tormenters.
Nicodemus wasn't going to waste time after such a clear invitation. Naim waited only until Nicodemus closed the door to shove the box of chocolates onto his lap. He shifted back into drive and was moving before Nicodemus even had a chance to buckle his seatbelt.
Naim drove automatically, diverting some of his attention to Nicodemus. He'd had more than enough varieties of the 'what are you thinking?' expression directed at him from various people to recognize it anywhere. The question was why Nicodemus was giving him odd looks.
Nicodemus lifted the lid a little, cautiously, as if he expected to find a snake curled up in there instead of chocolates. The way he immediately blushed and clamped the box shut again confirmed Naim's suspicions that something had been tampered with. It probably wasn’t subtle tampering, either.
"Jess," was all the explanation that Naim bothered with.
"Oh." Nicodemus pushed the box as far away from himself as it could go while he didn't have anywhere to put it other than his lap. His blush was taking it's time fading.
Morbid curiosity. Naim wanted to know what was in there now.
On second thought, it would probably be safer to just throw the box away.
Naim didn’t realize until he was pulling into his own driveway that he had ended up abducting Nicodemus instead of driving him home, as he had intended to do. He had been doing too many things automatically lately. He was too preoccupied.
Well, they were both at his house. Might as well make the best of it. Naim reached for his backpack and climbed out of the car, leaving Nicodemus to follow him.
“Thanks,” Nicodemus said, though he looked as confused as grateful.
“I can walk home from here.” Nicodemus grabbed his own backpack, and after a moment of hesitation he picked up Naim’s chocolates as well.
Naim stopped halfway to his house, simply waiting to see if Nicodemus would follow or go home. The longer he watched, the more tense Nicodemus seemed to become. Finally he gave up and followed Naim in.
The lights were all off. Naim was the first one home again.
Nicodemus dropped Naim’s chocolates on the kitchen table and stepped away from them, probably glad to be rid of them. Naim gave in to curiosity and opened the box instead of throwing it away, as he kept telling himself he meant to.
What he found was. . . Not exactly subtle, but not as bad as he had expected from Nicodemus’ reaction earlier. Naim used a corner of the lid to prod Jess’ extra gift out of the box. He could get rid of that later.
Naim looked from the chocolates to Nicodemus. "You can have them." He didn't think there would be anything wrong with them, but he didn't really want to find out otherwise firsthand.
"They were for you." Nicodemus wasn't buying it. Naim guessed he didn't really trust the sweets either.
Well, if there was something wrong, Naim would rather try one when someone else was around, just in case. It shouldn’t be that big of a deal. Just take one, eat it, see if there were any unpleasant side effects.
After a few minutes Nicodemus cautiously followed Naim’s example, and tried a chocolate himself.
They watched one another for a minute, but if there was anything wrong it wasn’t immediately evident. Nicodemus was the first one to decide that this was a good sign, reaching for another chocolate. Naim watched, still not trusting. His mistrust wasn’t helped when Nicodemus winced after biting into his second chocolate.
Nicodemus swallowed and tried to put the remaining half of the chocolate down. Naim quickly reached for it. In spite of his earlier thought of using Nicodemus to test the chocolates, Naim wasn’t exactly eager to see something happen to him because of them.
Nicodemus wasn’t exactly in trouble, though. “I don’t like that kind,” he said in explanation.
Naim didn’t bother to be annoyed by this. It was his own fault for reacting. He just confiscated the second half of Nicodemus’ chocolate and ate it himself, leaving chocolate smudges on Nicodemus’ fingers where the sweet had been.
Possibly deciding that the chocolates were really Naim’s and he didn’t want any more, Nicodemus sucked the chocolate off of one of his fingers instead of trying something new. Naim had no such hangups, since the chocolate seemed harmless now.
Nicodemus turned to look out the window, absentmindedly sucking chocolate off of his middle finger. When he took his hand away, he left a smudge of chocolate at the corner of his mouth. Naim looked at it for a moment before realizing that Nicodemus had no idea it was there, and thus wasn't going to do anything about it.
Naim licked his thumb, cupped his hand under Nicodemus' chin to steer his face closer, and wiped away the smudge of chocolate.
Nicodemus froze. Staring, he brought one hand up to the spot Naim had just wiped clean, brushing Naim's retreating hand by accident.
It might be best if he just ignored the look Nicodemus was giving him. Naim fixed his gaze on a point over Nicodemus’ left shoulder and carefully ignored those confused-hurt-hopeful eyes.
Nicodemus started fidgeting with his empty cup, staring at it instead. He probably had as good of a chance of starting conversation with it as he did of getting any explanation from Naim right now.
At about the moment that Naim was starting to be annoyed by the tension, Nicodemus snapped.
“I need to go home.”
There shouldn’t have been any need to follow Nicodemus out. He knew where the door was. He wasn’t going to lurk around instead of actually leaving. Naim just ended up leaning against the wall, watching Nicodemus. Nicodemus was hesitating again. If Naim didn't know better he almost would have thought Nicodemus didn’t want to leave.
Without any warning Nicodemus jerked away from the door, grabbed hold of Naim’s shoulders with both hands, and kissed him.
Naim froze. He couldn't have responded to what Nicodemus was doing even if he had wanted to. He was numb for a minute, just feeling the movement of Nicodemus' mouth on his. Nicodemus clenched his hands hard on Naim's shoulders for a second, then pulled himself away, looking disappointed.
Naim almost wished he could ask exactly what had made Nicodemus think he had the right to do that, especially when he had put effort into avoiding such things. The problem was he already knew. He had gotten careless. He really had managed to drop all the wrong signs. Now how was he supposed to set Nicodemus straight?
Nicodemus was blushing again, trying to say something that might have been an excuse if he could force out more than a few sounds at a time. It was obvious he would escape the minute he thought he could.
Knowing he could just watch, and in a moment Nicodemus would manage to say something and bolt, Naim took a step forward, and cut off Nicodemus himself.
Maybe it would have been just as effective to put his hand over Nicodemus’ mouth, but then he wouldn’t have gotten to see Nicodemus’ eyes go wide, or have gotten that muffled squeak of surprise. He wasn’t about to add that if he hadn’t initiated it, he wouldn’t have gotten to kiss Nicodemus again.
The shock didn’t last nearly as long as Naim expected it too. As soon as he tried to move away, Nicodemus followed. Even though he saw what was coming, he still felt a jolt when Nicodemus tried kissing him.
Naim wasn't sure what to do with himself. He tried to follow what Nicodemus was doing to him. If he could just duplicate the light touches of Nicodemus' lips that were currently making him lose all good sense, that should be more than enough for anyone.
Soon enough Naim found that Nicodemus had wrapped his arms firmly around him. He had both hands clenched on the back of Naim’s shirt, and Naim found himself mimicking Nicodemus, with one arm wrapped around Nicodemus’ shoulders and the other around his waist.
Nicodemus was breathing hard through his nose. Dimly, Naim was aware that this was something he should do. He really needed to find a way to breathe, because he was beginning to feel lightheaded.
At least when Naim stumbled and knocked both of them into the door he got a chance to breathe. He broke his mouth away from the kiss and rested his forehead on Nicodemus’ shoulder, seizing the chance to regain his breath.
Naim braced his hands on either side of Nicodemus as he realized he was leaning on him. Nicodemus was slowly releasing him at the same time, letting his arms drop away from Naim.
If this situation was starting to feel awkward to Naim, who was still at least trying to be determined that he didn’t care, it had to be getting out of hand.
Naim managed to calm his breathing, pushed himself upright, and reached around Nicodemus to open the door. Pulling the door open was a signal that Nicodemus would have to have been dense to miss.
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Nicodemus managed to say. It he hadn’t been blushing, he would have looked calm about it. As it was, the fact that he was obviously watching Naim even when he tried to walk away didn’t help.
Naim wasn’t about to say anything. That would only stretch out a situation that had suddenly become uncomfortable.
Closing the door as soon as Nicodemus turned onto the sidewalk, Naim tried to sort out what he had just done. There was a faint tingling up and down his spine, and around his lips. He couldn’t call that nothing. At the least it would be a diversion.
That made sense. A diversion, so his mind would be fresh when he had to turn it to other things. In that case it worked perfectly. He could start over and look at everything from a new point, instead of driving his thoughts in the same circles.
Automatically, Naim went through the motions of cleaning up. He was aware of putting the chocolates away instead of throwing them out, as he had originally intended. He carefully sealed off the speculation that bubbled up, that Nicodemus might be back tomorrow. No time to let his distraction have a mind of it’s own.
Naim didn’t have time to muse over a frivolous holiday any longer. Things were quickly getting out of hand. He had other things to think about.