Good grief, I can just never get enough of this. More loveliness from Star.
A normal night followed the last day of December. Patches of light and noise announced where New Years Eve parties were being held. Resolutions were being made, ones that would be forgotten in a few weeks. There were exclamations over just where the year had gone. There was the expectation of a clean slate being laid out to start the next month, and a whole new year to fill up, at least if you liked that sort of thing.
Nicodemus was just glad to be getting home, and glad that Naim was willing to drive him. It meant leaving before midnight, but that wasn’t particularly upsetting to him.
When he moved to remove his seatbelt, Nicodemus felt a light tug on the collar around his neck. Naim had slipped one hand into his space while he wasn’t paying attention, and wrapped it around his leash.
Nicodemus yanked back on his leash. He didn’t see why people wanted to mess with it, and he was not blushing just because Naim had tugged on it. He was not blushing at all.
He was just a little too warm in his coat right now. That was it.
Naim relinquished his grip on the leash. His fingers deliberately brushed the edge of Nicodemus’ coat as they slipped away.
Naim sat back, looking bored. “Don’t slip.”
“Hm.” Nicodemus kept his eyes forward instead of looking at Naim as his hand finally found the handle in the dark.
Nicodemus fumbled the door open. He could feel Naim’s gaze on the back of his head as turned and stepped out of the car.
The instant he moved to stand up Nicodemus’ feet shot out from under him on the ice. The next thing he knew he was sprawled half in, half out of the car with a sharp pain in his back where it had collided with the edge.
Nicodemus heard the snick of a seatbelt being unfastened. He tried to push himself forward to get himself back on his feet and ward off unwanted attention. “I’m fine,” he said automatically.
He realized a moment later that he should have just taken a moment to steady himself, since Naim was the only one around, and he wasn’t about to do anything.
Another moment and he found Naim’s arm around his waist just long enough to pull him up and steady him. Then he was sitting up on the floor, his feet outside, planted firmly on the ice, frozen in place by the feeling of Naim’s warm breath on the nape of his neck.
“Were you going?”
“You,” Nicodemus suddenly wished he had left as soon as he had gotten his feet under him again, “if you just want to get rid of me . . . !” Nicodemus trailed off. Naim’s hand was on his leash again, fingers curled around it.
Nicodemus tugged lightly on his leash. Naim’s grip held. There was really no point in trying his luck on the ice again if Naim wasn’t going to let him leave peacefully.
Nicodemus drew his legs back into the car. Instead of protesting, Naim reached around him and pulled the door closed.
Naim moved to sit beside Nicodemus on the floor. In the small space there was no way to avoid touching. Even when Nicodemus leaned against the door to give Naim more room, it didn’t change the fact that the two of them were together in a space meant to only hold one person’s legs.
It wasn’t particularly comfortable at first, but a few minutes of silently rearranging limbs they found themselves tangled snugly together. Nicodemus had both legs thrown over Naim’s hip. His cheek rested on Naim’s shoulder, with his nose pressed just below Naim’s ear. Wisps of hair brushed his lips with each breath.
This wasn’t how Nicodemus thought he would spend the last night of the year. With his mind so foggy he could have been half asleep in the dark, Nicodemus let himself relax until he melted into the warm body curled next to him.
What was he doing?
Naim let his head rest on the glove compartment. His pants were already wet. He had one leg curled under Nicodemus. He should not have been at all comfortable in this position. If Nicodemus sat on his leg long enough it would fall asleep. He should make him move.
He didn’t move. For now he was comfortable enough. Nicodemus was hot, practically a human heating pad on the parts of Naim’s body that he was sprawled over, and especially where he kept breathing on Naim’s neck.
Naim shifted a tiny bit, easing Nicodemus into a more comfortable position. It was dark. He had nothing better to do. Naim let his cheek rest against the top of Nicodemus’ head and relaxed.
The only sound in the car was the two of them breathing. Slowly Naim began to pick up on what Nicodemus was doing. With each breath he took he moved closer, just enough that Naim felt lips brush his neck. Each exhale made him settle back, just enough to take the light touch away.
He couldn’t be doing it on purpose. Naim had felt him swallowing a yawn a moment ago. He was half asleep and had no idea what he was doing.
Minutes passed. Naim was being lulled to sleep by the sound of Nicodemus breathing. Even the sudden, staccato eruption of cheers from a few nearby houses didn’t disturb him, though they made Nicodemus jump and look up.
“It’s midnight,” Naim said, trying to get Nicodemus’ head back on his shoulder. He had been comfortable the way he was.
“I know.” Nicodemus insisted. He reluctantly let Naim guide his head back to where it had been resting, though he wasn’t nestled so close against Naim’s neck this time. Just as well. It wasn’t the best place to fall asleep.
Nicodemus didn’t seem to want to settle down any time soon. He kept squirming around in Naim’s lap, until Naim seriously considered kicking him out of the car.
Nicodemus finally seemed to catch on to Naim’s irritation, because he stilled, looking down at his hands sheepishly. “Happy new year,” he told Naim quickly, as if he just needed to say something to explain his behavior.
“Hm.” Naim was annoyed with the clock for ruining his sleepy moment. He didn’t care what year it was. The sudden increase of noise from the nearest houses wasn’t helping his mood either. He draped one arm carelessly over Nicodemus’ shoulders.
“Naim?” Nicodemus gave another uncomfortable little wiggle. “You’re poking. . . what is that?”
With Nicodemus’ weight on his lap, Naim had to twist into an uncomfortable position to get at the thing he was complaining about. He pulled it out and laid it in Nicodemus’ lap.
“I was sworn not to let you slip and break your neck.” Naim knew he had probably been expected to get out and walk Nicodemus to his door with the flashlight, but he really hadn’t seemed to want help.
“Thanks.” Nicodemus did not look particularly thankful as he settled back into Naim’s lap. He let Naim lean on his back for a minute before asking, “are you comfortable?”
“My leg is asleep.” Naim had been comfortable enough to not care about that while Nicodemus was willing to sit still, be he figured that would take too long to explain.
“I’ll move.” Nicodemus pushed himself off of Naim, and onto the seat, turning so that he was watching Naim.
Naim shifted, trying to restore circulation to his leg. His year was already off to a bad start. At least, if you believed in that ‘clean slate’ thing.
“I should get out so you can go home,” Nicodemus was saying. It sounded like he was trying to convince himself it was a good idea, more than telling Naim what he was actually going to do.
“I can’t drive with my leg numb,” Naim pointed out. He probably could, but he didn’t feel like trying that just now.
Nicodemus didn’t move, so Naim let him be. It wasn’t like he was keeping Nicodemus from just climbing out of the car and going home. One the other hand, as long as he wasn’t going to get out on his own, Naim couldn’t get up and stretch out his leg properly. The pins and needles pricking through his muscles were starting to get really annoying.
To compensate Naim practically dumped his upper body in Nicodemus’ lap in order to get room to stretch his leg.
“What are you doing?” Nicodemus yelped, trying to climb backwards out from under him.
“You could move,” Naim suggested. He didn’t see any problem with what he was doing. Nicodemus had stolen the seat, after all. How else was he supposed to get comfortable?
It took a moment for Naim to remember that Nicodemus had a crush on him. That was the problem with just lying on his lap. Naim tended to not factor that into how he treated Nicodemus, mostly because he had never made a pest out of himself because of it.
He wouldn’t have even noticed if it wasn’t so fun to see Nicodemus flustered. Right now his legs were completely tense under Naim’s hands, and his face had flushed a bright red that had nothing to do with the cold. Naim could actually feel a smile twitching at the corners of his mouth at Nicodemus’ expression.
Nicodemus seemed to resign himself to the fact that Naim was going to stay in his lap and put one hand cautiously on the back of Naim’s neck. Naim was satisfied that Nicodemus didn’t seem about to comment on the way his leg kept twitching. He couldn’t help it. He really wanted to knock his leg into something because the pins and needles were driving him insane.
Nicodemus was rubbing the back of his neck, his face returning to its normal color as he got used to the idea of having Naim in his lap. At least he wasn’t taking it personally.
When Nicodemus started rubbing the back of Naim’s neck, Naim was actually glad he hadn’t forced Nicodemus to leave. It felt so nice that he wished Nicodemus would do it again when he wasn’t going insane and could enjoy it.
For a few minutes Naim was concentrating only on the feeling of the circulation in his leg returning to normal. He was too distracted to think about much else.
Once the pins and needles had ebbed, leaving him with a slightly numb feeling, Naim rubbed his cheek contentedly against Nicodemus’ knee. For some reason this made Nicodemus take his hands away very quickly.
Naim looked up to find Nicodemus’ face was bright red again. He was pointedly not looking at Naim. The crush. Naim had completely forgotten about the crush. He hadn’t thought about what so much physical contact would do to Nicodemus.
“I’m going home.”
Naim was sorry to lose the hand on the back of his neck, but it didn’t really matter. He could drive home now. He might have wanted to have Nicodemus stick around a little longer, but there was no way to say that without getting Nicodemus’ hopes up even worse than he already had.
Nicodemus reached over and opened the door as soon as Naim got off of his lap. Naim almost wanted to say something, but he didn’t want to say anything he didn’t mean. Not only that, but if he really did mean it, it might be even worse for Nicodemus to hear. He would have to improvise.
“Happy. . . new day,” was all he could think of to say. Stupid holiday infecting his brain.
Naim was sure Nicodemus was amused. He just wouldn’t want to admit it. “That’s sort of cheap,” he pointed out.
Naim had no interest in a meaningful conversation at this point. “Don’t slip on the ice.”
Nicodemus grumbled an acknowledgment and climbed out of the car, taking the flashlight with him. Naim watched Nicodemus avoiding icy patches all the way up his front drive, watched him fumble for his keys and fight the door open. He didn’t move until Nicodemus closed his front door behind him and disappeared from view.
What was he supposed to do with Nicodemus now? He didn’t mind being around him, which was a lot to say of anyone. He almost enjoyed teasing him at times, but now he had gone too far without meaning to. He would have to be careful around him for a while. He didn’t want to give Nicodemus the wrong impression.
At this point Naim wasn’t sure what impression he wanted to give. He did not want to get involved. Not at all. It was too much trouble. At the same time, he couldn’t help remembering the way Nicodemus’ hand had felt massaging him. That hadn’t been bad at all.
There was also the way he looked when he was peaceful. Naim usually saw him hurt or miserable or tense. He hadn’t even realized until the moment Nicodemus woke up that he liked being around a truly peaceful Nicodemus.
He should investigate this. He would try something new, spend a bit more time with Nicodemus. He had a whole new year to experiment in.
At least, if you believed in that sort of thing.