“If asked, Nikki wouldn’t be able to tell anyone how long she sat there, with conduit eyes and an aching heart.”
She doesn’t notice at first, when the rain starts against her wind shield. At least half of her is in South Africa, under the sun, on her father’s shoulders. The other half is railing against shaking sobs and tears. At times she tries to gather the strength to drive home, where she can break down privately, but her hands shake just trying to get her keys out of her bag and she knows she can’t drive home like this. It’d be irresponsible to drive like this.
And yet, she can’t stay here. Not like this. Public transport is out of the question now too.
If asked, Nikki wouldn’t be able to tell anyone how long she sat there, with conduit eyes and an aching heart.
So it startles her, when her door opens and Harry’s kneeling there, silhouetted in the orange flood lights of the Lyell Centre. Without a hesitation, she’s crying into his shoulder and his arms are around her. He’s getting wet in rain but either of them seems to mind for a while. But they can’t stay like this. Eventually, Harry plucks her keys where they lie forgotten in her lap and coaxes her out of the car, shutting the door and locking it behind them. Half supporting her weight, he walks them over to his car and she gets in without question.
By now, her choking sobs have turned into choking breaths, and Harry doesn’t say a word as he drives through the almost empty streets. He knows her better than to think that words would smooth her now.
When he finally helps her out of the car at Nikki’s apartment, she’s nearly dead on her feet. The longest of long days finally taking its toll. He accompanies her to her front door, where she insists he go home, because she’s fine, really. He looks dubious but accepts it without too much protest. She cups his cheek and smiles weakly, and he seems to know she means ‘thank you.’
But they can’t stay like this. “Pick you up tomorrow,” he whispers, looking at her through tender eyes. She nods and takes her time closing the door, holding his eyes till the lock clicks.