A silly short that I don’t feel is good enough for AO3, plus I’m not sure of the abrupt ending. Anyway, I’m just projecting one of my phobias onto Sakura here for contrived plot reasons. ¯_(ツ)_/¯
Although there had been many instances of heavy summer storms while Sakura had been with Nozaki, there had never been an instance of a thunderstorm. She had never really thought about it, and he would never have thought to think about it, but here it was.
She was sat quietly at the table, thankfully between beta pages, when the lightning had started flickering in the distance. She had quietly taken a breath and put the brush down, resting it over the ink pot she had been using after carefully wiping the excess ink on a paper towel. The brief moment of concentration this required gave her some reprieve, before the storm sent a great rattling roll of thunder their way.
Nozaki, seated at his desk, was pretty sure he heard a sort of squeak, but thought nothing of it until he heard the rustling of… someone climbing under the table. He turned his chair in surprise, but his assistant was nowhere to be seen.
“Sakura?” he called, baffled.
“Uh-huh?” came a shaky reply from the same room.
Bewildered, he left his chair and dropped to his knees, looking under the table for his friend. “Sakura, you’re afraid of thunderstorms?”
She nodded, her eyes screwed shut and her hands only momentarily unclamped from her ears.
He leapt up and drew the curtains on the patio doors in the living room, hoping it would alleviate at least the lightning part of the issue, but the curtains weren’t designed to keep the light completely out, and the sound was still an issue.
“Sakura,” Nozaki said, back on the floor, reaching out and gently touching one of her arms, “Come with me, we’ll find somewhere to wait it out.”
There weren’t many options in Nozaki’s little apartment – the kitchen had no external window, but opened into the lounge over the counter, so there would still be light and sound penetrating the room. His bedroom had a patio door too – and it was wildly inappropriate to take a girl in there. Mikoshiba’s tatami room at the front had a window opening out onto the walkway in front of the apartment…and that left…
“I’m sorry this isn’t the best solution,” Nozaki said apologetically, not realising he was still leading Sakura by her wrist – almost her hand.
“Th-th-that’s okay, Nozaki-kun,” Sakura said, too excited by the physical contact to have noticed the storm as they passed through the hallway into the bathroom.
He became aware of himself and let go of her arm, vocalising a quiet “sorry”.
“I don’t mind,” she said, equally quietly. “Thank you, Nozaki-kun, I don’t think I can even hear the thunder in here.”
A silence fell over them, but it wasn’t the normal silence. The normal silence was a comfortable one while both of them worked, with solace in each other’s presence. This silence was deafening above the extractor fan that blocked the noise of the thunder, a silence that said we don’t normally talk.
“I’m sorry there isn’t really anywhere to sit…” Nozaki finally stuttered, “Or much in the way of room to stand.”
“It’s okay,” Sakura said, pulling at the sleeve of her jumper in awkwardness.
He considered this article of clothing from the uniform that he hadn’t noticed her start wearing.
“That looks cute on you,” he said, before he had a moment to consider the situation. All the compliments he’d given her before had been out in public, where she or he had been able to deflect it.
Sakura covered her face, her sleeves pulled up over her palms in nervousness, “Don’t do this to me, Nozaki-kun!”
He looked confused at her outburst and could only mutter a “Huh?” before she apologised and composed herself. This wasn’t a romantic situation. This was Nozaki’s bathroom, stood between the toilet, the washing machine and the dryer. He couldn’t possibly use this in a future entry in Let’s Love.
She took a deep breath, and loudly proclaimed, “It’s you! It’s always been you.”
“Me?” Nozaki asked, wondering what he was being accused of, “What do you mean?”
She looked at the floor now, still fiddling with her sleeves, “Whenever you ask me if there’s someone I like, I always answer yes, but it’s never a straight answer.”
He frowned, trying to calculate what these two statements meant together in context.
Sakura looked frustrated, “Nozaki-kun, I didn’t know you were a manga artist.”
She watched that one stack up as well as a third seemingly unrelated sentence, but the concerned frown turned back into his normal blank expression with just a tinge of pink.
“Sakura…” Nozaki said at length, “Are you really confessing in the bathroom?”
“You can’t use it in your story!” Sakura said defensively, “Nobody in a shoujo manga would confess in the bathroom!”
She wasn’t wrong.