Natsuki is completely and utterly lost. Just what is a girl supposed to do?
This... this is so messed up. What on earth am I supposed to do now, just sit here and contemplate the mysteries of a relationship with Nao? Roll up, roll up, ladies and gentlemen, gaze yonder at a woman's mind as it commits seppuku. She's completely put me on the spot though; I don't have any choice in the matter, do I?
So, alright, let's start from scratch then.
A relationship. Do I want one? What is a relationship? I mean, I guess I've seen couples before, but it's not like I understand what it is that really makes them, well, a couple. Holding hands? Cuddling? Kissing? Fucking?
I can't think of anyone I've ever held hands with in my life. Well, my mother, maybe, but that doesn't count, right? I certainly do not cuddle. The only person I've ever kissed was... Shizuru. And that wasn't a real kiss, was it? I just, well, even now I don't really know what I was thinking when I did it. I guess I just wanted to show her that I understood, that I accepted her feelings for what they were. And I definitely haven't done the last one on the list. I'll admit a certain passing curiosity towards the act itself. I mean, well, everyone knows about it, you hear people talking about it all the time, and I guess with the right person, I'd want to. Just I've never had time for it. And now it's all I have. Time, a future, endless possibilities. I guess I would like a relationship with someone.
What about Nao then? Why a relationship with another girl, let alone her specifically? I mean, everyone knows it's a guy and girl thing, right? But then, Shizuru always had those girls who'd swoon around her and stupid crap like that. And of course, well, she's like that, isn't she? I mean, she was in love with me. Was? Still is? She left, she ran away, and I watched her go. I chased her off.
I'm getting off track here. Relationship with girls. Well, it's not like I can't look at a girl and say she's attractive, the same goes for a guy I guess. Though I can't really think of any guys I'd say are especially attractive. Kanzaki isn't too bad I guess, though I couldn't say the same about Tate and those stupid sideburns of his. Girls on the other hand, well, Mai is attractive. Midori is attractive. Shizuru is attractive. Nao... well yes, I am attracted to her. I remember catching myself watching her undress, and all the times she made me blush. Hell, I nearly kissed her once. So I can't say that I'm not interested in girls, right?
But then there's Nao herself. Sure, she may do it for me physically, I can admit that, but what about the rest of her? Half a year ago, I'd have laughed in your face at the very idea, especially after all of the Carnival stuff. But she has changed. As far as I'm aware, she's not doing the whole jailbait thing anymore; she certainly hasn't been going out at night whilst she's been staying here. And she even got a job. It's like she's actually starting to believe in herself again. I think of how she cried that day on the rooftop, and when we were by her mother in the hospital, it's hard to reconcile with the things she did. Nonetheless, I truly believe that she's a good person deep inside. She's just scarred, but then, so am I. She's really trying to build herself back up again, to heal her wounds, and I respect that, I honestly do. But she still strikes me as fragile. She's still as acerbic as ever, and she's unbalanced. The lumps on the back of my head will testify to that.
Do I love her? That's the obvious question, isn't it? And I do know the answer to that. I don't. I do not love Yuuki Nao. But does that mean I can never fall in love with her? There are times when I really like being around her, and I do enjoy the flirting. I'm not very good at it, but I can learn, right? I can learn to flirt, and I can learn to love her. And yet, is it right to start a relationship like that? I mean, she's bared herself to me, she loves me, and I can't return it. Yet. What if I did try and it just didn't work out. I don't want to hurt her, I know that. I'm not sure when I became so protective of her, but I know I couldn't bear it if I was the cause of more pain to her. But can this end up with anything but pain?
Arg, this is frustrating. I'm not really getting anywhere with this. And it's not like I can really ask anyone else about this. Mai's the only person around who I could hold a reasonable conversation with, but I couldn't talk to her about this. It wouldn't be right, telling her all about Nao's personal feelings.
I'm tempted to just go out and blast it all away on the bike, but I should be here when Nao gets back. It wouldn't do to have her think I've run away from this. From her. And I can't just sit here and think, I'll drive myself crazy. I need to find something to do, anything to keep my mind from wandering. I can't bring myself to read any more of Mai's insipid magazines, but there's not really a whole lot else I can do in this apartment. I spend the next two hours or so tidying here and there, but it doesn't really help. Neither does the fact that she's still not back yet. This is really starting to get to me. What if something's happened to her? Part of me wants to run outside and search for her, but that irritating logical part says that she's probably visiting her mother at the hospital again, and that if I do go out, I'll probably miss her completely.
I dig out a book on motorcycle maintenance and burrow myself into it. Most of it goes straight over my head since I can't bring myself to pay full attention to it. I keep looking at the clock as the sense of dread grows stronger and stronger.
Finally I hear a key in the door, and the dark mood that had been haunting me suddenly lifts. It's funny, I should be nervous or something, since I still haven't come to a decision, but I'm just glad to know that she's alright, that she's back safe and sound.
She looks anything but when she finally comes in. Her eyes are puffy and red; it's clear that she's been crying, and her clothes are looking ragged and covered in dirt. Quickly I put the book down and I'm by her side. "What happened?" I ask, a note of hysteria in my voice. "Did you get attacked again?"
She looks up at me as if she's only just noticed I'm there. She blinks a few times, before finally responding. "Oh, you mean my clothes. No, nothing like that. I just... fell over, that's all."
She's lying. I know it, and she knows it too, but she doesn't seem to really care. Her voice sounds flat, uninterested, and I wonder what on earth happened to the Nao who breezed on out of here a few hours ago. She tramps past me and into the bedroom; I follow after her, determined to find out what the hell's going on.
She's unbuttoning her shirt as I walk in, and she turns to face me, fury marring her features. "What the fuck do you think you're doing?" she yells, her hands falling to her sides clenched tightly into fists.
"Trying to find out what's wrong with you, for one. Make up your mind already, one moment you're professing your undying love to me and the next you can't even bear to look at me!"
She stops in place, completely rigid except for the rise and fall of her chest. Slowly she relaxes, a nasty looking grin sliding into place. "You actually believed that shit? God you're a complete idiot Kuga. I was just gonna fuck you and then dump you! Why the hell else would anyone waste their time with a whiny sack of crap like you? Even that psycho bitch was only after your body, and when she couldn't have that, she just walked away from you, just like everyone else."
For a moment, I want to smash her head in, and then I realise that's exactly what she wants. And now I know exactly what I have to do. "You're not fooling me Nao. Not for a second. You're just trying to push me away because you're absolutely terrified, aren't you?"
"Sh- shut up! Shut the fucking hell up!" Now she's shaking like a leaf. "You don't know a goddamn thing abo--"
She's cut off as I shut her up instead. A few seconds later I break away from her, the taste of her lingering on my lips. She stares at me, unblinking.
"You're supposed to close your eyes you know. Even I know that!" I smile.
I almost don't react fast enough to catch her as she sinks downwards, but I wrap her up in my arms as we go down to our knees.
"I... you... what?"
I do it again, just to prove she wasn't imagining it, and it lasts longer this time.
"Wait," she says, pushing away from me. "What's going on here?"
I hesitate for a moment, before I speak again. "I want you to hear me out, please. Like I did for you earlier." She nods, a worried look crossing her face, but she keeps silent so I continue. "I... I don't love you Nao, I need you to understand that. But I want to try. At first I thought it was too dangerous to risk the potential fallout if all of this didn't work out. But I was sat here waiting for you to return, and it was like this enormous pressure squeezing my heart as it got later and later and you still hadn't come back. I didn't know if something had happened to you or not, and I knew I couldn't live with myself if I hadn't been there to protect you. I can't just abandon you Nao. And when you did finally come through that door, I just knew I couldn't not try."
"What, all of this was just because you feel like you have to watch out over me? Thanks but no thanks!" She makes to rise to her feet, but my arms around her waist hold her tight, refusing to let her move.
"Hear me out, I said Nao. Yes, I do want to protect you. But it's not like some kind of big sister thing. Big sisters shouldn't like kissing their little sisters quite so much, don't you think?" I just know my ears are bright red, along with the rest of me. "I am most definitely attracted to you, I know that for certain. Just kissing you makes me feel... it's like, electricity running through my entire body.
"It's not that I've never felt attracted to anyone before I guess, it's just, I always pushed those kinds of feelings away since I was too busy going after the First District. After they were gone though, there was still Shizuru and I, and even though I knew how she felt about me, I just kept running away from the issue until I drove her off. You are far too special to me to lose you over something so stupid."
"But you don't love me."
"Honestly, I thought about lying to you about that, saying that I did love you. In some weird kind of way, I thought I might make the lie become the truth and everything would work out fine, you'd never have to know. But I don't want to lie to you, not ever. Yes I may never come to love you, and that would be a bad thing. But I can't not take that risk. I may know next to nothing about love, but I do know that a risk is exactly what it is, the biggest risk of all. I've thrown myself into all sorts of situations that could harm my body without fear. Why not one that could harm my heart? It could end horribly between us, I realise that, but I also realise that I couldn't live with myself if I didn't at least try.
"The question is, are you willing to try and hope with me?"
She stares at me long and hard, and I can almost hear her brain whirring along behind her green eyes. Finally, she comes to a decision and a smile unlike any I've ever seen her show spreads across her face, genuinely happy. "Shut up and kiss me already, Natsuki."
And so I do.