Slashy-marvelous-shiny-wooh! From Star. (comes about a week after Frivolous Holiday)
Naim hadn’t intended to end up waiting for Nicodemus after school. He just found himself thinking up excuses to stick around for an extra few minutes, watching for him the whole time. He didn’t even have to acknowledge that he was waiting specifically for Nicodemus until he saw him. He leaned over and opened the passenger side door. This was as good as anything he could have been waiting for.
“Nicodemus,” Naim had to call to bring Nicodemus’ attention off of the ground and over to himself.
Nicodemus glanced away a little too quickly. “I’m fine. I’m walking home.”
“You’re limping.” Naim wouldn’t have noticed it if not for Nicodemus insisting that he was fine. Either Nicodemus was on the defensive because he had already been attacked at least once today, or he was remembering how he had embarrassed himself last time. Naim didn’t care.
Nicodemus did pause long enough to glance at Naim, who left the door open for him. If Nicodemus was going to be stubborn about it, he wasn’t going to waste his time commanding him to get in.
After several seconds of appraising the offer, Nicodemus climbed in, watching Naim out of the corner of his eye as if he expected to be bitten at any moment.
Naim took his foot off of the brake. No point in sticking around any longer, now that he had Nicodemus. He was sure there weren’t any demons lurking about after school today that he would be expected to deal with. All he wanted was an hour when he didn’t have to worry about demons or schoolwork, and he had already discovered that Nicodemus made a useful distraction.
It did occur to him that he might be giving Nicodemus something else to worry about, but he was fairly sure he could compensate for that.
“What happened?” Naim found himself asking carelessly as he pulled out.
“Tripped,” was all Nicodemus was willing to tell him.
Naim knew better than to believe such a lame explanation. “Over whose foot?”
“Ankle,” Nicodemus corrected, instead of actually answering Naim. He stared out his window, and to Naim’s annoyance he seemed to be getting more tense the further they drove.
“You don’t even know where I live, do you.”
“I was going to take you home and ask if I could keep you.”
Interesting. The oddest things made Nicodemus blush sometimes. Naim found himself relaxing as well.
“I have to get home.”
Well then he shouldn’t have gotten in, Naim thought privately. Unless he needed a ride. That was fine. “Give me directions, then.”
Strange. Then again, it was Wednesday. Even Naim had noticed Nicodemus’ pattern of disappearing on Wednesday afternoons. Even Ikku didn’t know where he went to, and if he had managed to keep whatever it was he was doing secret from Ikku, Naim could see that he wouldn’t want to give up his secret so easily.
It still didn’t answer why he had gotten in if he had somewhere to go. He might have some free time, Naim decided.
Naim pulled into his driveway at about the same time the blush completely faded from Nicodemus’ face. He thought it was safe to assume Nicodemus would play along and come with him. He had so far without Naim having to talk him into it.
Halfway to his front door, Naim realized that Nicodemus wasn’t following him. He hadn’t even gotten out of the car. Such an inconvenience. Naim had to go back and open the passenger side door for him.
Naim waited a moment, but Nicodemus didn’t make any move to get out, and he didn’t demand to be taken home instead. What was Naim supposed to do with him?
Well, he might sit there all day if Naim didn’t do something first. He looked half paralyzed. “If you can’t walk twenty feet, it’s a good thing you’re not trying to walk home,” he pointed out, reaching over Nicodemus to unbuckle his seatbelt. “Do you need me to carry you?”
That got Nicodemus’ face to go a very interesting shade of red. “I’m fine,” he insisted, pushing himself out of his seat and colliding with Naim’s arm, which was still stretched over him.
Naim was a little surprised that he was willing to follow him inside after that, though he was still trying not to look like he was limping. Stubborn as ever.
Still, stubborn could be helpful, especially when Naim couldn’t be sure if he had an ice pack or not.
Nicodemus sat down in the kitchen without Naim having to ask, while Naim sorted through the freezer, trying to remember the last time he had even needed the ice pack.
“What did you do?” Naim didn’t take his head out of the freezer to ask, so he was fairly sure Nicodemus couldn’t hear him.
“Twisted my knee.”
“Hm.” Naim glanced over. Why was Nicodemus brooding again? He kept sneaking peeks that Naim could practically feel, though he didn’t acknowledge them. Where was the damn ice pack? Naim was starting to think he was wasting his time looking for it.
“It’s under those ice-cream things,” Nicodemus pointed out.
It was. Naim was sure he had already looked there, but he shrugged it off and tossed the ice pack to Nicodemus.
Nicodemus pressed it to his knee, over his trench coat. Naim seriously doubted that he could feel it at all through his coat.
Naim pulled up a chair beside Nicodemus, sat down, and started unbuttoning the front of Nicodemus’ coat. It was fine until his hands were high enough to brush Nicodemus’ stomach, prompting a noise of pain from him.
Naim quickly finished with the coat, then wrapped the ice pack around Nicodemus’ knee while he waited for him to relax a little. He was a little intrigued that Nicodemus wasn’t protesting or trying to leave at this point.
Once Nicodemus had settled down, Naim pulled up his shirt to see what had made him wince before. There were two large bruises when he had accidentally brushed his hands, one on Nicodemus’ stomach and one on his side. Both of them were already blooming a painful blue-black. Naim was sure he knew just how Nicodemus had acquired those. He should have guessed they, the same nameless ‘they’ who had tripped him in the first place, would kick Nicodemus while he was down.
“What are you doing!?” Nicodemus demanded, yanking his shirt out of Naim’s grip.
“Thinking you need another ice pack.”
Nicodemus looked down at Naim’s hand, which was still holding the ice pack to his knee. Naim expected to feel Nicodemus smack his hand away, but he didn’t.
“Not that.” Nicodemus sat forward a little, his face so close to Naim’s now that Naim suddenly remembered how he had accidentally strung Nicodemus along last time. He recognized that look, the one that said Nicodemus didn’t know what expression he wanted to make. He tilted his chin up slightly, as if saying that he would like to kiss Naim, but he really didn’t want to make the first move this time. He probably wasn’t even aware that he was doing it.
Naim wouldn’t have minded just kissing him, but last time had been so awkward. Naim wasn’t sure it was worth it. “Didn’t you have somewhere to be now?”
That killed the mood very effectively. “Yeah. Pretty soon.”
“Numb yet?” Naim clenched his hand around Nicodemus’ knee. His hand was freezing already. He wished Nicodemus had tried to remove it.
“Give it a minute.”
Naim studied Nicodemus, so disappointed and oddly. . . appealing. He was good to have around, at least in controlled doses. Even in this stubborn mood he made a good distraction. Naim thought he could get used to this.
With that in mind, he knew he shouldn’t brush Nicodemus off entirely. “Do this again when you’re not busy?”
Nicodemus nodded, as Naim knew he would. “Sure.”