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He flinches when I touch him

And that's a little weird

I don't think I've ever seen him scared before

Bright-eyed optimism in his youth, stone-faced determination in adulthood

If he's ever feared death it's because it meant he would fail Yonah

And later us

Maybe even me, specifically

But now Nier is not strong

He makes himself small and looks away all quick

Like he's a child again and trying not to stare at my ass or my tits

But I want people to stare

I want Nier to stare

I assume the worst of him

But really I'm just assuming the worst of myself

I hate myself and I hate my body

If I wear it proudly nobody can ignore it

But then neither can I and I kind of hate that I can't forget about it

But then I can whenever I'm around the others

Whenever I'm around Nier

I grabbed his face once and kissed him

We were in Facade and there was some kind of feeling in the air

You could almost forget about all the bullshit

Like the Shades and starvation and the Scrawl and all the dead family members

He pushed in when our lips met

I liked that

He's older than I am, or I guess he is now

And I like that too

Nier's face is rough and firm and my thumbs tuck just right under his cheekbones

I can feel his stubble against my mouth and his hand settling on the small of my back

He smells like a man and I feel like his woman

I'm getting sidetracked again

Point is I don't feel like his woman anymore

Not when he looks at me like that

Or doesn't, I guess

I guess I don't do a good job of hiding how much it hurts

But then when have I ever

Because all of a sudden Nier snaps to attention

He sits up and puts his big rough hands on shoulders that are a little too broad

Says he's so sorry and asks if I'm okay

I feel like dog shit in the sun and I say so

I want to push away and wander out of the tent and into the desert and let the fucking wolves take me

Or the endless sun

Whichever takes me first

It's my stupid self-pity talking and I know it

But it doesn't change the fact that I have these impulses to cut open my skin and crawl out of it

Again

Instead I let him hold me and let the anger rot inside me and let my eyes water

It'll ruin my makeup, but fuck it

I'm not fooling anybody anyway

I say that last one aloud and Nier tenses up

Squeezes me again a little too hard

He calls me beautiful

He's never said that before

Nobody has, not since Grandma died

I don't know if he means it or if he's saying it to make it hurt less

Just makes it hurt a whole lot more, really

This is bullshit

Kainé is strong and Kainé doesn't give a fuck

Kainé doesn't cry when her feelings get hurt by some fucking man

Not that Nier is just some fucking man

But Kainé doesn't cry

And if she does she'll be weak

She'll prove what everybody always said right

She'll let the people who depend on her down

The people she loves down

When I realize I'm crying anyway I curse and grit my teeth and cover my face

Fuck, shit, damn, piss, a million other things that help make the anger go away

It's humiliating

I don't know if Nier thinks I'm mad at him or what

But he holds me against his bare chest while I let it all out

He's warm

Maybe he begins to explain himself because he feels bad for disappointing me

That's so like him

Always willing to shoulder a weight that isn't his

Sometimes it annoys the piss out of me

Sometimes it saves my life

He says it wasn't me, it was all on him

Like some schlock from an old world romance novel

I ask him what the fuck that means

It takes a minute for him to get the words out

He tells me everything

Feels like he has to stab himself in the gut to get the words out

Pulling himself open with his bare hands, spreading his innards around, pulling out one syllable at a time

Airing out the diseases inside him for my viewing displeasure

Desperation and vulnerability and misplaced trust

Hands on the back of his head and in his hair and pinning his shoulders down

For a long while I'm angry

Nier doesn't feel anything

I tell him from now on I'm going in with him when he's in Seafront

If he sees that motherfucker again I'm gonna clog his windpipe with his own balls

He squeezes a little, remains silent, then says I don't have to do that

I sigh and wipe my face and get mascara on my knuckles

He's looking down at me

The look on his face isn't what I would expect out of somebody who just aired out their darkest secrets

It's amazing what people will do for the people they love

But I guess we all know that better than anybody

I sit up and kiss him and it's slow and imperfect and lasts forever

Eventually I break it and I take his hand and tell him that I get it

I can't claim to know what it's like but I understand

Nier squeezes tighter than anything and for the first time it looks like he's going to cry

He thanks me and I tell him to shut up because there's no need

We don't have to do anything if you don't want to, I say, and it sucks because I really really want to and it isn't fair that Nier is so God damn hot and it's even more unfair that I'll let him do anything he wants to me or that I'll do anything he wants me to do to him

Or anything I want him to do to me or do anything I want to to him

It's embarrassing and I shift a leg a little bit to try and hide how turned on I am

It's selfish but it comes as a relief when he says he wants to

Relief because he trusts me and relief because I don't know if I've ever wanted anything as bad as I want Nier right now

But I'm patient

He waited five years for me and I can wait a little longer for him

We lay there for a while

Nier's fingers dance in the crevasses of my spine

I keep my ear against his chest and listen

The sound of his breathing in tune with the rise and fall of his chest

The steady thud of his heart beating

Ba-bump

He's had every right to let his heart stop over the past five years

Ba-bump

He's got the scars to show it and I guess we all do

Ba-bump

But I hate mine and I love Nier's and I keep running my fingers up against them

Ba-bump

A long, diagonal cut under his right pectoral, a lot of overlapping scrapes and scratches, a huge chunk of scar tissue over his hip

Ba-bump

He's lean, muscular, wiry, pushing himself to the absolute brink of his limits even when we rarely have a chance to sit down for a decent meal

Ba-bump, ba-bump

It sucks shit that all the aspects I hate the most about myself I find myself desiring so intensely when they're on him

Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump

It isn't fair, but I guess that's okay

Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump

Nier probably hates himself just as much as I hate myself, but that doesn't change the fact that I love him

Ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump, ba-bump

And I know that in spite of my particular brand of horseshit, Nier loves me too

Something unspoken makes him roll onto his back

I straddle him and flay my fingers out against his stomach

I can't hide the distension in my underwear anymore but now I'm not so sure I even want to

Or really need to

I take his wrists and guide them to my negligee's ends

He treats it so daintily as if it's not already worn and frayed and stained, but I guess it's because it's a part of me

And then, finally, Nier lifts it up and off me and what little is hidden is fully on display

I look him dead in the eye only for his eyes to wander down, down, down

He makes a weird face but then he always does, it's a sort of weird signal that tells me everything is okay

Thumbs tuck under my waistband and — this is the moment I've been dreading, callouses against my thighs and hips

And I sit up a little so he can pull them down and then reach back to pull them off all the way, now with nothing left to hide

I carefully settle back down and my underside lies against his stomach, long and hard and needy and vulgar and just as much a part of me as my face or my tits or my voice or anything

Heat pools in my cheeks and my lips tighten up

Nier calls me beautiful again and this time I don't doubt that he means it

His hand tucks in the small of my back again, just the way I like, as he sits up and kisses me

I bring my hands to his shoulders and pull myself in hard, and he makes a noise

He's my man

And I'm his woman.