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Is This Gravity

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Nozomi's hand is around her wrist and she has that look , the one where she's about to say something she knows she shouldn't.

Something selfish.

But she doesn't. Nozomi says nothing at all, just releases Shino and gives a small smile. And suddenly everything is normal again as Nozomi walks to the kitchen and asks Shino what she wants for dinner.

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Her head is in Shino's lap and it's comfortable . Not in the physical sense; Shino's leg is falling asleep- definitely asleep- all static tingle. No, it's a different kind of comfort she feels, watching Nozomi's lashes as she blinks, turns the page of her book, the television all but white noise around them.

And then her hand is in Nozomi's hair, flaring out in a gentle spread of fingers. All Nozomi does is raise her eyebrows a moment and hum, not a question, but a noise of contentment. Shino's heart thumps at it and she carefully extracts her touch to lean chin in hand, eyes resting unfocused at the screen of whatever sitcom, afraid her chest will burst any moment.

Nozomi simply turns her page.

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She doesn't kiss Shino on the mouth; it's her shoulder that is graced by Nozomi's lips. It's gentle as they lay together, both quiet in the stillness of the night.

For a moment, Shino thinks she must have imagined it. But no; Nozomi's face is still so close beside her, eyes heavy and half lidded with looming sleep. 

Shino watches her and Nozomi blinks, slow.

Beautiful, Shino's mind chimes, the word quiet and calm and-

Nozomi shifts up to her elbow, fairer hair cascading down to tickle Shino's cheek and Shino feels her breath catch, caught suddenly in a question. 

Caught on the edge of that precipice.

Nozomi tucks hair behind her ear and Shino's jaw clenches as she watches the small movement, sees intent there.

The clock tick tick tick s and her heart thump thump thump s, but then something shifts on Nozomi's face and the woman settles back down, half burying her face in the pillow, eyes closed.

Shino is left motionless, poised to jump. 

She swallows and only realizes she had been holding her breath when Nozomi threads their fingers together under the blankets. The action is hesitant. Slow. Purposeful. 

Shino falls asleep burying the meaning deep, but gripping Nozomi's hand tight.

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A late night flicker of confidence nudges Shino forward. A spark of courage in the dark guides her hands into Nozomi's hair.

A hum. A question; her name, but Nozomi doesn't roll over, keeps her back facing Shino.

Shino gives no answer. Instead, she combs her fingers through hair.

Nozomi leans into the touch, head pressing back, legs stretching out like Colonel's would sometimes right after waking up.

Shino's heart warms at the comparison and she finds herself sliding closer. 

Nozomi is warm and Shino wonders what it would be like to fall asleep embracing that warmth. Would they get too hot under the comforter? Like they had at Nozomi's parents' house?

A flash of memory: hovering over Nozomi, desperate to have her understand.

Shino's hand grips at Nozomi's hair, not tight, but enough that Nozomi gives a small "mm." And something about that sound, that memory of being over her, presses Shino to grip tighter.

It's not a hum that slides past Nozomi's lips; it's a noise Shino has never heard her make before, somewhere between a whine and a groan.

Shino feels Nozomi tense, but she pulls again and Nozomi all but melts with another sweet sounding exhale.

And Shino's there once again, ready to jump but unsure how or if she even should.

Nozomi's hand finds its way back to touch Shino's knee and in that touch Shino finds her answer of how.

Shino presses herself against Nozomi, the movement careful and purposeful. She leaves one hand tangled in her hair as the other one wraps around to softly grip her thigh.

Shino isn't sure where she wants to touch, just that she does, so she touches her lips to the back of Nozomi's neck and feels the woman shudder against her. 

Another kiss to her neck and a hand inching up her thigh makes Nozomi's hips jerk, a short burst of involuntary movement, and ah , there , Shino's brain tells her.

Touch her there.

Something keeps her hand planted to Nozomi's thigh a moment longer as her lips continue to tickle her neck. Hesitation. Nozomi is breathing in quick puffs, as if she's trying to control it but is failing. Some part of Shino rejoices at this new found power and that's when she gently caresses Nozomi over pajama bottoms.

Shino's hand cups almost perfectly against her and Nozomi's shuttered exhale makes her own breath come out in an excited huff against her ear.

But then Nozomi's hand is gripping hers and yanking it away, pushing it back and away, away. She shakes, curls slightly away, hand gripping Shino's too tightly. In an instant she's out of bed, shutting herself in the bathroom down the hall. Leaving Shino uncertain, confused, and-

Guilty.

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Nozomi is good at pretending.

Shino is not.

Sleeping in her own bed leaves Shino itching for contact. The memory of her hand on Nozomi leaves her itching for...something else. She's unsure for what exactly at first, but then she finds that beautiful noise Nozomi had graced her with at the forefront of her mind.

And she realizes, arm slung over her forehead, dread seeping into the cracks she tried so hard to hide and cover, that she wants her. She wants her like Taishi must have wanted her. How all those strangers writing love letters must have wanted Minato.

But she isn't a stranger writing a confession, and she isn't Nozomi's classmate or peer. She didn't walk home from school hand in hand with her or held her when she cried. Taishi had.

Shino always followed behind, content to simply be there, be acknowledged and talked to but never beside. She'd been content as the sister. She'd been content.

Right?

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There was a night Shino remembers of hushed whispers and laughter behind closed doors and darkened lights.

And then soft, rhythmic slaps of skin. Shino wasn't stupid; she knew what her brother and Nozomi did. But hearing it-

"Taishi-" her voice was higher, desperate and wanting and Shino clamped her pillow firmly over her ears, eyes squeezing shut as a shot of adrenaline flew from her stomach to her throat and back down again.

She didn't want to hear it. She didn't want to know. She didn't want to feel this way.

A thump of a headboard against the wall, a cry quickly stifled, and Shino moved to shoving fingers in her ears, curled up tight under the covers in her own room, wishing desperately the walls weren't so thin.

She didn't like feeling this way. Would rather crush the feeling down down down than admit she felt anything at all, her gut burning and flipping all at once.

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There's someone else, someone in Nozomi's orbit Shino doesn't know. When she sees Nozomi's blush, her small smile tender and bashful, Shino isn't sure what exactly she feels. A tensing of shoulders, a shudder cold and sharp through her ribs and up around her neck.

She swallows, feels like suddenly she's drowning. It's cold, but prickling with heat.

Her stomach flips.

She wants to puke.

If Nozomi finds another, she would leave wouldn't she?

And suddenly Shino realizes that with Taishi's absence, she is unsure of what actually ties them together anymore. There is nothing stopping Nozomi from leaving.

It's a thought she shoves so far down so quickly she wonders later what the uneasy thought had even been about.

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Shino realizes it's easier for her to be truthful in the dark. It's not a sudden realization, but rather a slow one that creeps up on her.

It's easier to let herself stare in the dark, take in the slope of Nozomi's nose, the hills and valleys of her figure. It's easier to touch the thought, so blistering hot in the light, that she wants.

Nozomi is staring at her. They're in the same bed again. There are nights, Shino has found, that Nozomi beckons her wordlessly under the covers. They don't talk about it, never have, but those are the nights Shino tries not to think.

If she lets herself think, as she does now, staring right back at Nozomi, she fears she'll act, silence the pleasant buzzing she feels between them; kill it under her aching and yearning. She still remembers the night Nozomi locked herself away in the bathroom. Shino, burning with shame and guilt, had returned to her own room.

Nozomi never brought it up, and so neither did Shino, but soon Nozomi had beckoned her once again. That time, Shino made sure to go right to sleep, back to the woman.

But now.

Now, her fingertips are dancing up Nozomi's arm, tucking stray strands of blonde hair behind her ear.

Nozomi feels warm under her hand, and so, so close. Shino's fingers run across the shell of her ear, making Nozomi's eyes flutter at the contact.

And Shino finds that blistering thought, cooled by the dark. She wants, oh, does she want.

She pushes hair back, exposing the side of Nozomi's neck, and her eyes shift to watch her own fingers trace tendon and muscle. Nozomi swallows against her.

Shino thinks suddenly, is this all I get? Would this be all she would have? All she would ever have of the woman? A stolen brush of fingers on skin in the dark?

There would be no heat under her palms or heavenly sighs. No hushed whispers of her name.

Shino moves, slow and restrained. She leans up on an elbow, Nozomi blinking up at her, and then Shino kisses her neck, replacing fingers with hungry covetous lips.

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Her tongue is at Nozomi's throat, aching to feel a pulse, heat, anything.

"Shino-!" Nozomi manages, hands half-heartedly pressing her away. "We can't-" The words are rushed, stumbled over and quiet. Lacking conviction.

"Please," Shino whispers in response, breath hot against her neck. A shudder runs through Nozomi, a facade cracking, just a little, as Shino repeats, pleading, fist holding tight to Nozomi's sleeve:

"Please."

If Shino could mark her, leave proof, that would be enough. It would be enough. It would be enough, she keeps repeating in her mind, over and over, wanting so desperately to believe it.

"We shouldn't-..." Nozomi's voice is barely above a whisper and it shakes. Oh, does it shake, just like Shino's hands do when she takes Nozomi's face in them.

And she realizes then, as she kisses Nozomi's mouth, that the steep, sheer drop she had been so frightened of falling from is long since gone; she had already left it, stumbled over without even realizing.

Now, all that seems to matter is waiting for the impact when she hits bottom.

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Nozomi lets Shino touch her, angles into the hands on her chest, night shirt crumpled up over her breasts. They're a bit clumsy, but that doesn't matter; she just wants to be closer, wants the heat Shino is giving her.

Her fingers touch the bare skin of Shino's waist and it's not enough, not enough, not enough. She aches, feels the thread of her control being pulled from the seam as Shino roughly sucks at her throat.

They shouldn't. She knows they shouldn't, but all the reasons Nozomi would give in the daylight are threatened to be overcome by the shadow of Shino, of the venerational touch she can't stop herself from leaning in to.

With teeth against her, Shino's hand moves to grab Nozomi's. The touch is light, but confident when it leads Nozomi's hand higher, and when Shino groans into her at the hesitant grasp she gives the girl's breast, Nozomi lets the thread go completely.

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Shino has never had another person's hands on her the way Nozomi's are. They're not roaming, not like how the romance novels or movies always described; they're focused and determined, and so, so soft against her nipples.

Shino wonders absently how it's possible that something as mundane as a sweep of a thumb can feel so different coming from Nozomi's hands compared to her own, but then Nozomi is kissing her, tongue gliding over her lip. Shino parts her mouth and Nozomi wastes no time in slipping her tongue in.

A sound somewhere between a pleasant groan and a hum of surprise escapes her and suddenly she's on her back, flushed and panting, Nozomi's knee close to her apex but not close enough for Shino to chase any sort of release. Nozomi's hands grip her roughly, tweaking her nipples. A sharp, jagged set of whines are exhaled around Nozomi's mouth and then

"Nozomi-!"

She stops.

The world stops.

Nozomi is over her, breathing hard and face flushed, just looking at her.

Her hands tremble against Shino for just a moment and then she's moving up and away. Shino tries to follow her with desperate hands but she doesn't react quick enough; Nozomi is standing across the room, heaving gulps of air, hand gripping her head in obvious distress.

"Nozo-" Shino hedges, dread and unease sinking into her gut with alarming speed.

"I'm so sorry," Nozomi interrupts, refusing to look at her. "I don't know what- I can't- this-" She flounders and Shino can see the rapid rise and fall of her chest even in the dark.

"I'm so sorry Shino," she repeats, voice cracking. "I'm so sorry- I shouldn't have-" Shino can't make out the rest; Nozomi is crying. It's an ugly sound, twisted and jarring, and Shino feels the sting of her own tears threatening to fall in response.

With a shuddering choke of a noise Nozomi turns and flees. Shino hears the bathroom door shut and the thud of Nozomi's weight against it. She could almost see the distressed woman let herself fall against the door, let herself slide down it to curl in on herself on the floor.

Shino's fist presses against her forehead, palm bearing down roughly between her eyes. Her tears really do start to fall then, and they're angry and hot.

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She falls asleep in Nozomi's bed without her, curled up in a bundle of blankets, head resting on a pillow that still smells like the woman's shampoo. Shino is digging in her heels; she refuses to let this slide under the rug when the morning comes. But.

Nozomi is good at pretending.

Much better than Shino is at not.

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They stop sleeping in the same bed.

It leaves Shino restless at night. During the day it's easy to slip into the status quo, easy to give Nozomi a wide berth and simply talk about school and her job. Her friends. But it's always after their doors close for the night that...

Shino has come to dislike it.

She tries wearing herself out during the day, working more hours, spending off time with friends. And it works, for a while. But Shino finds herself in the same place night after night: alone with her thoughts and alone with her deviance.

Shino knows she's supposed to like boys her age. Go to mixers, get a boyfriend. They would walk home together, see each other on the weekends. He would visit for dinner sometimes. They'd get matching charms for their bags.

But every time she tries to imagine a face, a body, a person. She can't. All she can see is walking after her brother and Nozomi. All she knows is what she's ever wanted, the only thing she was ever drawn to. And it isn't some nameless boy from two classes over, or a friend of a friend, or even a coworker.

She knows what it is. Knows who it is.

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The first time she touches herself while thinking about Nozomi, she thinks of what might have happened were she to have stayed in bed those nights. Shino would have gotten to feel her, maybe even see her. She would have gotten to touch her, skin to skin. She would have heard her groan and watch her flush and move her hips. Nozomi would have touched her. She doesn't doubt she would have come undone at Nozomi's hands

 

She pushes a finger into herself, wrist already aching from it's laps around her clit. She imagines, eyes screwing shut as she roughly begins to fuck herself, that her digit is instead Nozomi's.

 

She would be rough with her, just a bit, to make sure Shino would feel it later. She would pull bruises from Shino's skin with her teeth, suck and bite and mark. They would blanket her body, a secret Shino would savor. She would come with Nozomi coaxing her through it.

 

And then she would press into Nozomi, making her squirm.

 

She wonders what sounds Nozomi would make. Would she let herself be loud? Would she gasp and pant and moan? Maybe she would grind against her hand, beg for more. Would she come? Would she say her name with the same fervor she used to say her brother's?

 

Shino has to bite down on her pillow to choke the noise of her orgasm. Her thumb stutters around her clit as she throbs around her own finger. 

 

She falls limp in her sheets, hand sticky and heart thumping, and then she cries. Pitiful, deplorable tears she fights so hard against. It makes her throat tight, the back of her neck hurt. She wants to wail, loudly and openly. It's not fair, it's not fair. But she knows she's not allowed. She isn't allowed to feel this way. It isn't her place. 

 

But god, she wishes it was.

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It takes Nozomi longer than Shino would like to crack, but she does.

Shino now is positive it's because she misses her closeness as much as Shino misses hers. 

Shino would catch her staring, catch the too-often-to-be-a-coincidence touches and brushes of fingers. She would see Nozomi turn in on herself, quiet, watch the woman hesitate before she would scooch the few inches away instead of closer.

So it is without surprise Shino finds Nozomi wordlessly inviting her back in under the covers. 

Shino knows she should decline. She knows it would be better, healthier, for her to go to her own room for the night. She knows they should keep their distance.

Shino knows, has known, that it won't end well. There is no foreseeable ending where things are simple or good or uncomplicated. They're both carrying too much. They're already too entwined. 

Shino goes in anyway.

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She can feel Shino staring at her through the dark. It's unnerving in a guilty way. As many times as she tells herself sharing the bed this time is innocent, innocuous, she knows it's a lie.

She wants a mouth on her again. She wants hands on her again. In her.

She feels herself flush. She knows Shino is unaware of these thoughts she has. These needs. She knows Shino is unaware of how much she's wanted her hands back on her. She knows she has managed to keep all her thoughts of Shino in check. (She also knows this is a lie.)

Shino and her are not peers. They're years apart. Not like she is with Taishi.

Was with Taishi.

Nozomi shies from the thought.

Shino is still staring at her still. She knows why she's staring; Nozomi can still feel the ghost of her hands on her, all these days later. It didn't matter what she did to move past it or distract from it; she can still feel it. She still wants it.

She snaps her eyes shut, brow furrowing. She just has to block it out. Block out the memory, block out the feeling- it was a mistake to have her here again- but then Shino's hand is gracing her face, a gentle touch, and her eyes open, memory and feeling pouring out with it. 

She can't-

Shino's lips meet hers and it's clumsy, Shino's inexperience obvious, but then it's needy and Nozomi can't keep herself from melting into it as Shino's fingers grip her hair. 

She hears her own breath escape in a rough exhale before she's pressing closer, gripping hard at Shino's pajamas. 

She feels so starved of this affection, laps it up hungrily as Shino gives it freely, tries not to let her thoughts break through the haze of-

" Shino- " She doesn't recognize her own voice, even as it slides from her tongue, but Shino does. Shino presses her back, straddles her thigh and goes for her throat. And oh god she needs this; she's throbbing and breathless and-

"Sh-Shino- wait-" A moment of clarity in the heat and she's grabbed Shino's hands-

" No ," it's heaved out heavily, hungry, before Shino kisses her again. There's no hesitation now and Nozomi groans blissfully into it as Shino's hands slide out of hers, the moment given up on as their tongues meet.

Nozomi feels Shino's hands at her shoulder, her face. Where the girl's mouth is steadfast, her hands seem hesitant, unsure where to be or touch.

Nozomi wants those hands on her, wants it like air underwater. Like a drink in the desert. She's drowning and burning with thirst all at once and god, this isn't fair.  

Her own hands grip at Shino, grab the soft fabric of her shirt, grab at her shoulders and sides, wrap around her to pull her closer. Shino in turn slides a knee and thigh right against her pelvis, tangles her fingers in Nozomi's hair.

She can feel her own heat radiating, feels her hips try to press forward with a shudder. Shino is kissing her mouth, teeth bumping and teasing her lips, and then she grinds down against Nozomi, thigh giving Nozomi's clitoris glorious friction. 

The reaction is immediate; Nozomi puffs a barely contained moan and Shino slowly repeats the motion, mouth and hands suddenly very still.

A choked down groan is all it takes for Shino to continue grinding, for her hands to seek out Nozomi's breasts over cotton. For her mouth to keep working, moving from Nozomi's lips, to neck, then back again.

And everything is suddenly Shino. She can smell her shampoo, feel her sharp little canines prick at skin, her tongue dance over the grooves left behind. Shino's hands studiously fondling over cloth. Her thigh, tensed and sturdy, pulling small whine after whine from Nozomi's throat.

It's so much, but not enough.

Maybe, if it's quiet enough, dark enough- if it's just them…

If it's just this once. 

If no one knew.

If she prayed for forgiveness after…

If they never did this again...

With a whisper, Nozomi asks Shino to touch her. 

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Shino unbuttons Nozomi's shirt with too-quick fingers and pulls a nipple into her greedy mouth, hands squeezing and touching everywhere they can.

Nozomi clamps a hand firmly over her mouth, but the whines still seep through and Shino is quick to pull the hand away.

"Let me hear you," Shino whispers and they're both still for that moment before Shino kisses her again, a palm rubbing across her nipple and hips grinding down against her thigh.

"I want to hear you," she breathes against her, and Nozomi exhales, chest stuttering as one of Shino's hands moves low over her belly. 

The angle isn't quite right and Nozomi's bottoms and underwear are cumbersome as Shino's fingers finally grace her, but Nozomi keens anyway, fisting handfuls of Shino's shirt as she does.

Finger pads press against her clit and she can feel how wet she is against Shino's touch. She would feel a burn of embarrassment if not for the pressure of Shino against her, of Shino's hips pressing down against her thigh. And so it's without embarrassment that Nozomi manages a quiet

" Please ."

Shino seems to understand the connotation because the next moment she is up on her knees yanking Nozomi's pants down, pulling by the band of her underwear to her thighs then, upon a clumsy moment of readjusting, down to her ankles. But before Shino can get her hands back on her, Nozomi is kicking the clothing from her feet and sliding her hands around the girl's waist, lifting her night shirt, and planting a kiss just below her navel. 

If it's just us.

Shino swears her teeth chatter at the touch, so close to where she's aching, and she threads fingers through Nozomi's hair. 

Things are easier in the dark, and so as Nozomi kisses her stomach again, Shino finds the courage to say

"Touch me," even if it is just barely above a whisper.

Nozomi hears it though and slowly, almost reverently, she slides down the cloth to Shino's knees.

Just tonight.

Nozomi would pray until her knees were bare boned and bloody. She would repent for the rest of her life.

I'll touch her just for tonight.

Nozomi places a hand on her sternum, gently leading her to lay back against the blankets to pull her bottoms the rest of the way off. And then Shino is staring at the flushed face of Nozomi kissing her inner thigh. 

Once and then never again, I swear it. I'll never touch her again.

She would never invite her to bed again, or hold her hand, or even tussle her hair.

If I can have this now. If I can have her now.

Shino feels her guts leap to her throat at the contact. It sends tingles all the way through to her fingertips and before she realizes what Nozomi is doing, a tongue, smooth and wet and hot , has slid right up and across her labia.

It will be enough.

Her back arches at the contact and she isn't sure if the sound she makes is even a word or not, but Nozomi hums against her either way and presses a forearm down against her hips to keep her still as her tongue continues to move.

Shino, hypocrite that she is, smothers her noise with two hands over her mouth. Nozomi is so gentle, but determined and precise. It takes Shino only a few minutes to tumble into an orgasm, thighs shaking with restraint, chest thrust up with her head thrown back. Mouth clamped shut in an attempt at control. She isn't sure if she should be embarrassed or not at how quickly it happened, but then Nozomi's slipping a finger inside her and Shino lets the thought fall by the wayside as an obscene moan seeps out of her mouth. 

She has never heard herself make a noise anywhere close, but in the moment she can't find the time to be ashamed; she's pulling Nozomi closer by her arm, words failing her as the woman presses a second finger in while moving up to kiss her.

Shino can taste herself on Nozomi's mouth and tongue. It sends a shudder through her as Nozomi moves her fingers, presses so deliciously against her. 

When she's done things like this before on her own it is always so quiet, even if she imagines it not to be. Quiet movements and even quieter climaxes; the walls are thin. But Nozomi's fingers feel so much more in her. Shino can't keep quiet, realizes distantly there's no one else to hear them on the other side of the walls anyway.

Is this what it would feel like for Nozomi?

"I want to-" Shino manages, pulling at Nozomi's wrist, pulling her fingers out and up.

The look on Nozomi's face is a mix of surprise and desperate want as Shino shoves her shoulder, presses over her again. 

Shino keeps her comments to herself about how lovely and radiant and pretty Nozomi is staring up at her, face flushed, lips pink and swollen and wet, eyes lidded, chest so gloriously full and bare. Instead, she opts to kiss the woman's palm, free hand caressing the top of her thigh.

Shino can feel her heart thrumming in her throat, feel the nerves trying to sink into her chest. So she takes the dive before she can think about it.

She can't keep her eyes from watching her hand. She wants to watch Nozomi's face (her gaze flickers up at the sound Nozomi makes as soon as Shino touches her labia), but Nozomi's apex is-

Beautiful, her brian chimes as she leans forward, presses a finger in.

Nozomi's warm and feels wider than herself so she presses a second finger in, mesmerized at how smoothly and effortlessly Nozomi takes them. Carefully, Shino starts to pull her fingers out. Not all the way, just enough to make Nozomi groan and quiver.

Shino's fingers come back practically glistening. It thuds her pulse up to her throat, down to her core, and her lips part.

She leans in and tastes her.

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The taste is not the most sensational thing in the world, but the shallow gasp and hand shooting to grip the back of her head could very well be.

With a newfound confidence Shino starts to move her fingers, curling and moving them in the ways she knows she herself likes. Which seems to work just fine for Nozomi.

The woman breathes out small, restrained whines, hips tensing and moving to meet Shino's fingers every time she presses in.

But Shino finds she wants more. So, so much more.

She runs the flat of her tongue up Nozomi's labia, brain working hard to try to remember exactly how Nozomi had done this so well, how she had circled and pressed, while continuing the attention with her fingers.

Nozomi's response is loud. She gives a shout, strangled and cut dead halfway out, and fists both hands in Shino's hair, keeping her close. Shino can feel Nozomi's hands shake, feel the sting of too tight a grip, but it only ushers her forward.

She gets lost in the noise, the taste, the sensation. Nozomi's thighs start to shake after what Shino isn't sure is 3 minutes or 30, and then she's crying out, trying to stop the half-words half-cries spilling out of her, and she's shaking and Shino is pulling her mouth away, pulling her fingers out, to follow Nozomi's hands up toward her face.

And she's bawling. Tears already streak her face as more flow down to rest in her hairline and on the sheets.

Shino places a hand on her arm, gently pulls.

"Nozomi…?" she calls quietly.

Nozomi shudders at her name, curling up on herself with a quick, awful inhale. Shino tugs again, gulping down the acidic despair threatening to churn up her ribs.

"I'm sorry," Nozomi squeaks out, refusing to uncurl and refusing to look at her.

"For what?" Shino whispers back, but she's afraid now, suddenly panicked that Nozomi will never look at her again.

She took it too far. She wanted too much.

"We sh-" Nozomi starts, interrupting herself with a gasp of air.

She just cries for a moment, refusing to react or respond to Shino's gentle coaxing.

"It's wrong ." She finally burbles out, words ending it a breathy huff of air.

Wrong.

Such a simple word for it, for the dust storm and silt in her heart. For the gnawing, stabbing thunder that flies through her when she tries to let go of this woman, when she tries to convince herself it's just adoration. Too simple for the bubbling self-disgust that chokes her when she thinks of her brother.

Wrong.

Shino grips tight at Nozomi, carefully slides around her in an embrace, buries her face against the back of her shoulder.

"I know." Shino says gently.

Nozomi just shudders with a harsh sob.

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It's a weekday. Because of course it is. Which means school. Which means no time to parse out… whatever it is that happened.

Nozomi had even gotten up early and left well before she needed to, left Shino asleep. Alone. 

It left more than just a bad taste in her mouth; she wanted to puke. Shino would never tell anyone, but she did a bit that morning, when she realized Nozomi had already left.

Her heart ached and her stomach churned most of the day.

What would she do when she got home? What would she say? Would Nozomi pretend like it hadn't happened?

Her mind keeps flipping between the sight of Nozomi panting under her, and the sight of Nozomi curled up in distress. Her heart keeps shuddering between the two. She loves it. She hates it.

She understands it. She doesn't.

By the time lunch rolls around it's obvious her friends are a bit concerned, but Shino laughs, chalks it up to accidentally staying up too late and skipping breakfast. 

She hardly touches her lunch though and the afternoon starts to drag and rush by all at once.

It's during the last hour of the day, as she's sightlessly peering out the window that she has the thought.

It's not one she likes. Not one she wants to look at or observe. But it's there. Heavy and outlined and unavoidable.

It's the bottom line and the truth.

Taishi is gone and Shino...

Shino loves her brother's wife. Loves her how he must have loved her. She's lain with his wife, taken her. Stole her. Took something that belongs to him. Tried to, anyway because Nozomi is still Taishi's wife. Nothing would ever change that. She married Taishi. She would never be Shino's.

Her teeth crunch into the wood of her pencil.

She packs up and heads home.

Chapter Text

Nozomi is home when Shino gets there.

She's not sure if it's a relief or not to see her. Her heart and stomach do their own flips and stumbles and Nozomi simply smiles and welcomes her home.

She's standing near the couch, face turned to greet Shino, probably on her way to change out of her work clothes.

"How was school?" She asks cheerfully and Shino's lip twitches.

So Nozomi is going to pretend it didn't happen. She's going to pretend she hadn't left early to avoid Shino. She's going to pretend she wasn't whispering Shino's name, kissing her mouth. Shaking under Shino's tongue.

"Good!" Shino replies with half a smile, taking her shoes off.

Fine. If Nozomi would rather it stay in the dark, fine. 

Shino's not sure she has the courage to bring it up in the daylight anyway. It feels… off limits. Fragile. Brittle. And she knows, of course she knows, that there is no one to be her confidante in this.

It's just her and Nozomi.

"What are you feeling for dinner?" Nozomi asks, disappearing into her room but quickly popping her head back out to add

"I can start it now if you're hungry?"

And just like that Shino feels the issue slide under the covers, out of sight, as she feels her stomach growl. It's easy to slip back into normalcy with Nozomi. She's so good at pretending.

Shino is finding it easier too lately.