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The single solitary thing Mika finds herself saying most in bed is do you trust me?

Even though a lot of the time it's a reminder, a rhetorical question, a way of gently saying by the way, Raizo, you started winding yourself up into hypervigilant combat mode about five seconds ago, the answer is never automatic. The word that answers her is never said without thought. She knows it can't be, completely gets it - is, in fact, still just a little bit startled that, five weeks after she got out of the hospital, she woke up to find him sitting in her kitchen eating noodles.

Amazed that he manages to unwind enough to sleep with her - and beside her - at all.

(Frankly, Raizo could probably use some really intense therapy. Mika's on the look out for the day that either she finds a mental health professional she can tell the whole story to, or the day she comes up with a lie that'll cover all the stuff that would need to be addressed, but she's not holding her breath. She'd have to convince him to go too, after all.)

It's gotten to the point where the exchange - "do you trust me?" "Yes." - is almost like their version of "I love you," and "I love you too." Except that Mika hasn't worked up the nerve to actually say those three words, and she's not totally sure that Raizo grasps the concept. And she's always thought it's possible that "I trust you" means a lot more. After all, Mika loves her Uncle Jacob and she wouldn't trust him with a ten dollar bill.

This time, tonight, she knows it does.

Mika's done a lot of research. That comes naturally to her. It's what she's done all her life. It's what got her into this, whatever "this" is, her whole life now. New idea, new problem, new project, and it's just automatic that she hit the books. So to speak. This time, that meant books and the internet and her reference books from her Japanese classes, but it was familiar, and she spent a lot of time reading and looking at pictures and testing things.

Her hands still shake, but only a little. She knows what she's doing.

Raizo's eyes are closed. It's easier for him, sometimes, when he can't see. It's not like the lack of sight does much to cut him off from the world. She knows that. He can hear and feel and smell, and probably knows exactly how fast her heart is going as the rope slides through her fingers, and her fingers over the rope, and when she touches his skin. His breathing is slow, and deliberate, and she only sees him swallow once. Gets caught by the movement of his throat under the rope, just for a second, before she takes a deep breath and goes on with what she's doing.

A loop around his throat, and the crisscross of diamonds over his chest, his back. The rope twisting in her hands, Mika works it around his arms, binding them together and then to the other rope. His breath actually catches there, which is okay because she has to stop for a minute. The words, "God you're beautiful," come out in English before she makes herself keep going.

Even he couldn't get out of this by himself. The rope is good, and the angle his arms are bound together gives him absolutely no leverage. Mika's always thought that the I trust you might be more important than any I love you could be and tonight, as Raizo lets her make him helpless, she knows it is. As she twins rope around his narrow hips, runs it between his thighs, as he lets her take his ankles and pull them together, bind them together, as she finally finishes the binding, ankles to back.

Then she stops and looks at him. The flush in her face, across her chest - that she can feel. And her heartbeat, that must be so loud to him. Mika bites her lower lip, looking at him, face down on the bed with his head just turned, bound so that even he, even he can't do anything. Immobilized and helpless and so, so fucking beautiful.

He let her do this. He trusts her enough to let her do this.

Raizo's breathing isn't slow and even anymore, but his eyes are still closed. As Mika bends to kiss the side of his neck, just beside the rope, he half-whispers her name, like it's involuntary. "I'm here," she says. She runs a hand over his shoulder, down his arms; she kisses beside his mouth and says it again, "I'm right here."