fic drop: unlike her best friend, mikoto is not a woman given to theatrics. and so she does not know what to do with this, this stirring that has taken root in her chest, a mustard seed planted in fertile soil. he takes her hand, and every gentleness inside her rushes to meet the hardness inside him. i would like to be the silk to your steel, she would say if she knew how. i would like to be yours, if you'd let me.
His hand is warm and her chilled fingers curl gratefully in his grasp. The stirring in her chest blooms as they stray together, off of Konoha’s main road, winding through the alleyways, where the only people who see them passing are workers sitting in the open doorsteps, the stale scent of cigarettes mingling with the spice of grilling meats.
He waited for her after her first solo S-class. She was worn and hungry and still clad in broken gear. Her mission was a success; the mission she received based on the strength of her performance in their team, where she demonstrated that listening for the whisper of cloth is as valuable as the singing of flung steel.
“You look tired,” he said then, his tone as clipped and if he was anyone other than who he is it would be an insult. But Mikoto takes it for what it is: a simple observation.
He reached out to her.
“Come take tea with me.”
She did not decline. She did not expect anyone to be waiting for her—that it is him warms away the cold that settled in her bones with the first rain of the season; the same rain that continues to mist over them as they make their way through the city.
It is a shame that the words stick in the back of her throat so, for he would hear them perfectly.
Their association began later than most—he is not her childhood crush, her idol or her fantasy. He is a peer, one of her squad mates when she first becomes a Jounin.
He is one of the first to hear her. Being seen was never her concern—she knows that she is seen. comments on her beauty, her fluidity of movement, her grace—all spill forth from so many lips, that it is all she can do not let her strained smile crumple—but when she speaks up on her very first mission, offers to scout ahead and flush out their target, he is the first to turn his head and the one to not dismiss her outright. For Mikoto whispers, not from a weak conviction or meekness but because her presence lacks the command that others of her age naturally carry, and so she lowers her voice instead of trying to raise it. She makes others listen through softness, not weakness, and he is the first to understand it. Understand her.
She knows others see him just as clearly: the next noble clan leader, possessor of the Sharingan (oh how it unnerved her, the first time his eyes bled crimson).But she is certain that she is the only one to hear him in the way he hears her. Fugaku speaks as though he knows the world better than it is (a habit that riles many). He is honest to the point of harshness, but that does not frighten her. Even on missions gone wrong, when he criticizes the strength of her stance, the precision of her bladework—she recognizes the advice for what it is, and does not hear the disdain others seek to console her of.
It is this they have in common: this ability to recognize intent and strength of will beyond merely tone and delivery. That is their bond—that delicate thread of understanding that has joined them so closely together in such a short time.
That is all she needs to love him, to realize that in her thoughts, there are not only friends and acquaintances and superiors but also Mother,Father and Kushina and then there is Fugaku.
There is nothing soft about him: not in his face or his voice or his gestures. But he is not so sharp that she will bleed. His lines are clean and broad and strong, not at all like the boys she trained with as a Genin or the gangly teens she sparred with as a Chuunin. She appreciates this hardness, this impenetrable exterior, because she recognizes the effort put into wearing it.
He does not need to hold himself so stiffly, she thinks. There is gentleness there, within him, if he is willing to embrace it. She sees it in his face when they speak of inconsequential things, hears it in his laughter, rare as it is. Feels it in the lines of his palm.
They stop just outside the teashop and he turns to face her. Her cheeks flood red as she tips her head up to meet his gaze. He has not let go of her hand.
What he says next, she does not hear.
“I’m sorry?” she asks, leaning closer.
He repeats himself, bending his head forward, words still too soft to make out.
She shakes her head. “I cannot hear you.”
She does not ask him to speak louder.
He keeps talking, voice low and soothing and still inaudible.
It is strange that she does not hear him.
But for this, she does not need to.
So she presses closer and closer until there is no space left between them, and the words are no longer needed.