Someone wolf whistles behind them. Neets growls under her breath and glares over her shoulder as she makes a rude gesture in return. It’s her standard response to street harassment and one of things Nomi loves about her, her fearlessness, her refusal to allow entitled assholes to intimidate her. Nomi’s not expecting the hard shove between her shoulder blades that sends her crashing into the side of the building next to her. Out of the corner of her eye she sees Neets stagger and trip, putting a hand down to the ground to stop her fall, but then all her attention is on the thug with the red baseball cap and the swastika on his neck who’s crowding her against the wall, leering down at her.
The stench of body odor and stale cigarette smoke catches in her throat as she swallows hard. But then Wolfgang lashes out with a controlled strike to the throat and Sun follows up with a backwards roundhouse kick to the head that puts him on the ground. Wolfgang kicks him viciously in the face.
Nomi stares at the retching man clutching his bloody nose. He starts to sit up, spitting out blood. His face is twisted in rage as he snarls a homophobic slur at them. Looking pretty murderous herself, Neets darts in and kicks him hard in the balls with the full force of her Doc Martens and her protective rage. He promptly loses interest in pursuing the argument, clutching his groin and whining high in his throat.
“Thanks,” Nomi says and the sense of her cluster-mates disappears, just a lingering feeling of security wrapped around her like a warm blanket.
“Yeaaahhh,” Neets exults, giving Nomi a high five and then pulling her into a hug. They probably shouldn’t indulge in PDA’s anymore, not the way things are going these days, but then, the skinhead had taken exception to the way they looked anyway, so fuck it.
Wolfgang is still there, smiling crookedly at her. “Wolfgang,” she murmurs out loud, more to clue Neets into the group hug vibe than any need to verbalize, as she reaches out with one arm and pulls him close. She’s relieved when his arms go around them both. He’s been so withdrawn lately.
“Hey, Wolfgang,” Neets says. She’s gotten pretty good at being able to tell which sensate has stepped into Nomi, and not just when they’re fighting for their lives. For the hundredth millionth time Nomi thanks her lucky stars that Neets chose her, that this wonderful woman wants to marry her. She’s aware of Wolfgang’s wordless appreciation, both of Neets’ acceptance of his presence, and, with a hint of his old carefree carnality, of her kickass package.
It’s good to see Wolfgang up and about, mentally, that is. His physical wounds had healed months ago, but he’d retreated into himself to lick his psychic wounds. For a while no amount of cluster cuddling or mental reassurances had been able to penetrate the walls he’d erected around his shame, not even Kala’s unwavering support. The shame he’d felt that he hadn’t been able to resist BPO, that Whispers had gotten in his head.
The fact that none of the cluster blames him had taken a while to sink in. A lifetime of scorn and belittlement from those who were supposed to love him had broken something in him. Just as her parents’ rejection of her and the verbal knife wounds inflicted by her mother had affected the person she’d become, she knows that Wolfgang mourned for the man he might have been, a man who is worthy of Kala.
Nomi understands in a way she is grateful the rest of the cluster never really will, no matter how close their bond. She feels Wolfgang’s recognition of her own pain in the brush of his thoughts against her own. For a moment she too is wandering along the Seine, her hand entwined with Kala’s as Wolfgang shares with her their happiness, and she blinks back tears. Kala squeezes her hand and her mouth curves hello in one of her beautiful smiles. Nomi squeezes back, grateful for the joy the two of them have finally found together.
Then Neets takes her face between her hands and kisses her deeply, right there in the street. Nomi kisses her fiancée back because fuck the haters. The world is theirs.