Title-Are you stalking me?
"Hey, Dad said dinner's ready."
Van looked up at his bedroom door, wide-eyed, as Merle stood there waiting. She remained a second longer before shrugging and leaving him.
It was only a minute later that Van walked into the kitchen, slinging on a jacket.
"I gotta go see Allen." The boy stated quickly and then headed for the front door before anyone could respond.
Goau had opened his mouth to say something but obviously wasn't even given the chance.
Varie raised her brows and turned to the only other two people in the room. "I guess he won't find out how bad your cooking is." She said to her husband, suppressing a wicked grin.
His mouth opened and his expression said, 'what the heck?' while Merle rolled her eyes.
It wasn't that Van was being a drama queen or trying to avoid his family, but it just seemed awkward to sit around having dinner while he still felt like he'd done something wrong. In his dad's eyes anyway.
So he arrived at Allen's house and banged on the door like he was being chased in a slasher film.
"What are you doing?" Was the first thing the blonde asked, because Van was out of breath by then and it was kind of chilly outside. Oh, and also because it's not like they had anything planned so it was unexpected.
Van rolled his eyes and pushed his way inside. "Where is everyone?" He questioned, hands still stuffed in his jacket's pockets.
"Mom and dad are in the basement." Allen flinched. "Hopefully just doing laundry."
They both shuddered.
"And Celena's in her room. For once." He added.
"Sounds like a full house." The dark-haired boy commented and finally decided to sit on the couch.
Allen stood there, raising a brow. "So... what? They're not feeding you or something?"
"I'm not in your fridge, alright!" Van said overdramatically.
Then he turned to the coffee table to grab the television remote and spotted the phone. His brows came together and his actions slowed down considerably.
"So what's going on at your house?" Allen asked as he also took a seat.
"Dinner." He responded flatly and started channel surfing.
"Seriously?" The disbelief was obvious. "It's almost nine o'clock."
Van looked up in thought, having not realized the hour. Then he remembered with a nod that it was because his dad was cooking, but didn't bother to offer this explanation.
"Did you eat?" Allen ventured.
A shrug was given before he said, "Not really hungry."
Now the blonde's eyes were the size of dinner plates. "What?" He gasped. "What's wrong, man? I can heat up some lasagna if you want."
Van just shook his head, holding back the rolling of eyes. Figures Allen would try to feed him when he wasn't even hungry. "Can we just watch some TV?"
"You look like you're gonna get up and leave any second."
At this Van glanced down and saw his jacket still on. He made a great show off jumping to his feet, ripping off the jacket and then tossing it to the empty sofa before falling back into his seat.
"There." He said forcefully, but still staring at the TV.
Ten minutes passed in silence as they watched some random cartoon that wasn't irritating. Van leaned back into the couch and folded his arms casually while Allen leaned forward with his elbows resting on his legs.
Although commercials were frequent enough to get on anyone's nerves, the two didn't really comment on it or turn to each other for conversation.
What would he have said? Van really didn't feel like ranting about his... life. It was tired and tiring.
Should he tell Hitomi though? Yeah, cuz she wouldn't get all alarmed or upset or anything.
Van rolled his eyes to himself.
Did his mom and dad discuss this or something? No... Goau was just expressing his personal opinion on the matter. And besides, Varie loved Hitomi.
Said girl was probably wondering if something happened that prevented him from calling back like he said he would. Well technically, something did happen.
His eyes were drawn to the phone sitting on the table.
"Were you making calls or something?" He turned to the blonde, who glanced up in surprise.
Abruptly, Allen scowled and reached over to grab the phone. "Yeah, I was."
Then, without getting further into it, he just hit redial and put the phone to his ear while Van stared on with wide eyes at the sudden turn of events. His friend looked kind of peeved, now that he was forced to pay him some attention.
The blonde sat in thought as a voice spoke and then decided to wait it through this time.
"Hi, this message is for Miss Millerna Aston." The mocking tone he used did not go unnoticed and Van gaped. "I'm just calling to remind you to bring that project on Monday. Neither of us wants to fail." Allen paused, looking thoughtful. "It looks like we won't be getting that A after all."
And then he hung up and tossed the phone next to him on the couch, where it sat between him and Van.
"What just happened?" The dark-haired boy questioned in horror.
He did not need to be witness to Allen either threatening or seducing someone (especially Millerna)... cause honestly he couldn't decipher what exactly just went down. It had to be one or the other though, right?
"Stupid girl won't answer the phone or something. I didn't see her at school the rest of the day so I called a few times earlier."
"To make sure she... brought the project? Is that code for something I don't want to hear about?" Van questioned with a disturbed expression.
It took Allen a moment, watching the TV blankly, to realize what his supposed b-f-f was getting at.
"What? No! We have an actual project you idiot!" He shook his head in disgust. "Just like my parents." He muttered.
A slight pause followed as Van became miffed at that comment.
"Hey Allen, I think I hear a thumping sound." He smirked, staring ahead. "You should go see if your parents are okay down there."
"Oh god!" Allen groaned loudly and put his head in his hand.
Luckily, this had just been a ploy to get back at the blonde... otherwise the two would probably have run upstairs to have Celena quiet the adults down.
She glanced down for a second in thought, hands paused in the air.
It was gnawing at her again, damnit.
Millerna quickly went back to leaning towards the mirror and applying her lip gloss.
It was a new day. Saturday, to be exact. She had a date. She was getting ready for said date.
But still! She kept coming up with this oh-so-confused face, desperately trying to find a reason why Allen had stepped up to protect her (dwindling) reputation. Twenty-four hours had passed since then. It was just so... baffling.
She was so amazed and horrified and just confused that she wanted to cry out in frustration.
She hated herself for forgetting the project. Hated herself for putting them in such a tight spot. And really, really hated herself for making her life more complicated than before.
When she stumbled down to the first floor, grabbing a bag and jacket, the phone rang. Since it could have been Dryden she was forced to answer it.
Turned out she was right. He was just altering their plans a little bit though. Instead of letting her meet him halfway, he was taking one of his family's cars and picking her up.
After hanging up and feeling relief at not having to rush, she was just about to turn away when she spotted something.
Millerna froze as she heard the voice being played back to her. And then she winced.
Allen had called?
The same desperate, I-don't-know-what's-happening expression came over her and she plopped down to sit on one of the steps.
Just the sound of his voice made her jolt in surprise.
She took a deep breath and tried to wait patiently for her date to show up.
"You're up... before noon." She commented, looking into his bedroom.
"Mmhmm." Her brother responded, not looking up from his desk.
She was just about to move on, seeing as he seemed busy.
"Hey, did you know this stuff is actually useful for something?" Allen asked, finally looking up briefly.
Celena stopped from turning away and stared suspiciously before cautiously trekking into his room to see what the heck he was referring to.
When she spotted the open notebook and textbooks, her face immediately fell into shock. She wasn't sure when she'd last seen Allen study something!
"Uh," She started after calming down. "What do you mean?"
"Like this stuff requires so much focus, you don't have the time or energy to worry about anything else." He turned back to the books, pencil (pencil!) in hand. "And it's not that hard when you just pay attention to what's going on."
Ohmygod. She was practically hyperventilating by then.
Did her brother just start doing homework? Did he also just discover he was secretly a genius underneath all his laziness and "too cool for this" attitude?
Allen shook his head as he literally felt her emotions.
It was better than thinking. He knew where that would lead. Nowhere.
He glanced over his shoulder and raised a brow. "Don't you have homework to do?"
Goau was still on vacation from work, and thus, wandering around the house restlessly.
Van and Merle sat on the living room sofa, trying to watch TV while Varie was in the shower.
Finally, an irritated young girl said, "Dad, go take a nap or something."
Her father frowned and instead chose to sit down in his armchair, looking to the television. He didn't bother commenting on her words, because he knew his restlessness was getting to them too.
Van didn't say anything, and was at the edge of his seat (metaphorically).
He hadn't really spoken to his dad after getting home late the previous night from Allen's.
In fact... now that he thought about it carefully... he realized he was kind of annoyed.
Sure, maybe before he was feeling a bit sorry for himself. He had thought that everything was going fine. Not only were things good between him and Hitomi, but his family loved her. She could come over and no one would complain or roll their eyes or make rude and nasty comments to/about her. It was looking perfect!
And this wasn't to say his dad would be some horrible person to her but... it just wasn't the same. Having his dad tolerate her was not the same as having him actually like her and wanting her over.
As weird as it was to say, he wanted his family to have that in-law kind of relationship with Hitomi (the accepting kind, mind you) where they treated her like family and stuff. To him that was a great relationship.
But then his dad had to be all crazy and ruin any hope of that.
Van jumped up from his seat and headed to his room, grabbing the phone on his way.
Why should he let something like this get in the way of their blossoming (yes, he did use that word) relationship? He liked her, she liked him, and there weren't any real obstacles... so he called her back. Finally.
"So, what do you wanna do?" He questioned while pulling away from the curb.
"I dunno." She shrugged. "What do you wanna do?"
Dryden glanced over for a second with a grin. "We can't have one of those conversations. I already started driving."
Millerna pretended to roll her eyes at him. "Okay, how about food? Like... french fries?" She asked sheepishly.
It wasn't exactly a dinner date or even a lunch date. It was just barely past noon.
"Well, since fast food is already a poor suggestion... you mind if we just use the drive-thru?" He questioned back with a half smile and shrug.
"Yeah yeah, it's good." She said before turning to her window and watching the cars that went by.
After a quiet minute of her falling into the trap (which were her thoughts on Friday's events) the blonde turned back to him.
"You said you'd tell me about your family, and you know, all the money stuff." Millerna said with a cheeky smile.
Dryden looked at her as he paused at the speaker box of the establishment. "Is that a hint of gold-digger I detect?"
"Like you don't wanna be my sugar daddy." She scoffed. "Fries!" And she pointed at the picture like it was foreign to him.
"Yeah... we're still gonna come back to that." He grinned and went on to order, getting her fries and himself a burger and milkshake.
This quickly turned into an argument of vanilla milkshake versus chocolate milkshake, all with the guy working the drive-thru listening tiredly and not making any effort to hurry them along.
"Okay, well my family's good with money." Dryden said fifteen minutes later.
They were parked near a park, sitting in the car and eating while people-watching. They settled for vanilla milkshake, in case you were wondering (Millerna won).
"Making it, investing it, spending it. Basically everyone's in business. Working with stocks, real estate, whatever." He continued, glancing at the sandwich in one hand.
"You're loaded." She said with a quirked brow. "Well now I don't feel bad about that sugar daddy comment. Not that I'm actually suggesting it." She grinned.
Another moment passed as they continued eating.
"So then this begs the question... why an arranged marriage?" Millerna looked up, asking this as soon as the thought struck her. "You've got money. You're smart and attending university. You kind of have a future set up."
He waited, blinking vacantly.
She rolled her eyes, fighting the slight embarrassment at her next admission, which was nothing but mere truth. "And you're all nice and charming and good-looking." And she tried not to sound irritated as he fought a smile at her uncomfortable state. "You don't need to-"
Millerna paused and became thoughtful. Then again, maybe he was looking to avoid that whole gold-digger scenario.
She sat back in her seat again, turning to stare out the front windshield while eating her fries with a blank expression.
"You seem kinda perfect." She said distantly before lifting more fries to her mouth.
Dryden smiled, a little bashful at the praise and revealing another redeeming quality; modesty.
"No one's perfect. It just seems that way." He said before taking another bite of his burger and following her gaze.
"But I'm guessing you've dated around before, right? You didn't just settle for this."
"Well yeah, I've had girlfriends but," And he shrugged. "Stuff happens."
Millerna couldn't help but wonder what it would have been like to have other experiences. To play the field, so to speak.
If this was it for her, a (possibly) perfect marriage to a (seemingly) perfect guy, would she regret not running around with bad boys like Allen, and just other guys in general?
Not to say she wanted a whole lot of drama and heartbreak and tears but... it would be nice to have some memories to recount, experiences to share, things to cross off the mental checklist she didn't really have. Because no one really has one... they just embrace the situations that arise and come out with something more or something less, but always with a story of how it all happened.
Well there was all the crap with Allen in the beginning and she could always tell the story of how her first kiss happened. But only after many years passed and she was done feeling shameful about the entire thing.
Either way, it was kind of too late to just go back, experiment and then come back to Dryden. It would be wrong and unfair, for both of them.
And right now she wasn't really regretting anything just yet. The thought was just a what-if about the future.
"We're kind of similar, I guess." She spoke after frowning down at the now empty container. No more fries. "My family has it pretty good when it comes to money too. I don't suppose you wondered how my mom and I live in such a nice house by ourselves?"
Dryden looked to her, both of them now finished eating. "Not really." And he smiled that slow, unassuming smile.
Millerna felt herself stop breathing a moment, before smiling back reflexively and hating herself for not knowing how to deal with hot guys.
Well, at least she realized something... Having (near) perfect guys interested in her was the kind of drama she could look forward to.
Her smile turned into a smirk. "So what happened with the last girlfriend? She didn't like your hair after all?"
Dryden pouted and self-consciously took hold of his ponytail.
"What happened last night?" She questioned as they continued walking through the shopping area.
He had his hands stuffed in his jacket's pockets and was moving at a pace that had her struggling a bit to keep up.
Hitomi's brows wrinkled in confusion and suspicion as Van kept his eyes downcast with a thoughtful expression.
It's not like she'd been worried when he didn't return her phone call. She kind of shrugged it off and assumed he'd gotten caught up with family things, the same thing that had happened to her after ten minutes of waiting around.
It was ridiculous to assume the world stopped when they weren't in contact with each other. She had a life before him and she would still have one whether he was there or not.
But he did return her call. Eventually.
He'd called an hour ago and said they should see each other, and so there they were. Of course he'd sounded happier on the phone...
"Something wrong?" Hitomi questioned as his footsteps finally slowed.
Van blinked and glanced at her.
"No." He responded, a hand slipping out of the pocket to grasp hers (so suddenly that she jumped). "I just missed you."
His face was calm and there was a small, sincere smile. This caused Hitomi to flush, though wishing hard she wasn't so easy to embarrass. Well maybe it wasn't all her fault... why did he have such a nice smile?
She felt him tug her hand lightly, taking a hold of their destination.
And that was how she found her back pressed against a wall, making out with the hottest guy in her universe (at that moment anyway).
It was a small alley, in-between two shops, and very much secluded enough that no one would pass by and force them apart.
Van kept his hands at her waist, though his hips pressed against hers unconsciously and Hitomi's hands rested in his hair, sometimes grasping the base of his neck.
She always wondered how in the world people just started making out in very public places, more public than this, without a care in the world. She thought it would be more awkward, hard to ignore the world around them and just plain uncomfortable.
But a minute after his lips found hers, she quickly accepted the smattering of body parts and the tickling, tingling in her chest, from the exhilaration and her own feelings toward him.
Van didn't feel his lips pull back into a smile, the expression that usually came over him when they were in such a position. Instead, for once, he kissed her hungrily in the way one usually saw in movies and TV shows, where said kisses looked completely over-exaggerated and fake.
But this wasn't fake.
It was so good to just be in control.
Which wasn't what he heard in his head, his dad's voice from earlier asking where he was headed.
Where was this headed?
As these thoughts crowded his mind for a few seconds, his actions slowed. But then when he pulled back a quick moment to assess Hitomi's tinted complexion and closed eyes he found himself glaring while her chest moved up and down, breathing.
Not glaring at her, but at himself. For being so bothered.
He rolled his eyes at himself and moved closer again, taking back that space and her mouth.
It didn't remove the irritating thoughts, just quieted them down.
This was far from over.
She walked in, closing the front door and moving to the kitchen to drop the few bags on the counter.
"Where'd you go?" Allen asked as he walked in the room and started poking around at the bags.
"Mom sent me to pick up some groceries." Celena responded and began unloading things to put away. "You gonna help?" She asked after a minute where her brother just stood there and watched her.
Allen shrugged like he wasn't sure and she rolled her eyes. He turned to leave the room without another word or even lifting a finger, but Celena started absently speaking while sticking things in the refrigerator (not noticing his near departure).
"I think I saw Millerna while I was out." She told him. "I haven't talked to that girl in ages."
The blonde boy quirked a brow and moved to sit at the kitchen table and resume carelessly watching his sister do all the work.
"Yeah? Where was she?"
Celena looked at him with a frown, having thought he had ditched her either way. "Oh, she was in a car with someone driving. I'm pretty sure it was her." She replied thoughtfully while making her way to another bag and emptying it into a cabinet nearby.
"Who was she with?" He went on, seemingly nonchalant. "Did she happen to have a poster board on her?" And he rolled his eyes, remembering the previous day.
She glanced at him with furrowed brows. "Poster board? Uh, I dunno who she was with. Some guy." And shrugged while rounding up the stray plastic bags.
"A guy?" Allen said to himself, disbelieving and caught off guard. "Hmm."
"Okay, well I think I did have homework to get to." Celena said, referring to his earlier comment, and left the room.
Unfortunately, her brother was trailing after her like a dog.
"What'd he look like?"
"Huh?" She glanced over her shoulder (and almost tripped on the second stair) to see him following behind. "Um, he... I don't know. I didn't get a good look."
And then she finally reached her bedroom door, but Allen was still casually on her heels.
"Is he from our school?" He questioned, realizing how weird it was to say out loud. He thought he'd gotten used to him and Celena attending the same school for once.
The girl finally spun around with a bewildered expression. "God Allen! All I said was I think I saw her in a car! I didn't stop and start staring so I could be sure! Geez, the way you're acting I'd think you were stalking her." At this point her mild annoyance turned into sadistic teasing. "Should I go back out and find her?" She gave an amused smile and put her hands on her hips.
Allen promptly scowled and turned in the direction of his room. "Can't ask a simple question."
Celena rolled her eyes and went into her own domain.
"Hey, where's your girlfriend?" She asked, and then smirked. "She dump you already?"
Dilandau rolled his eyes, irritated. "Would you quit that! It's not even funny!"
His mother was too busy suppressing her wide smile and laughter. "Your father thinks it is."
"How is that possible? You've been asking every day since you met her!" He said in disbelief. "Go- go cook or something!"
The boy let his head fall back onto his pillow and threw a hand over his eyes. What a way to wake up on a Sunday morning.
Alright, that's all for chapter 30. I know it's short and not all that great... but I have the next one or two chapters ready to be written. This took me four/five days to write so I'm guessing the next one won't take long either.
Sorry there wasn't really any Dilandau/Celena interaction in there. I decided I couldn't leave him out of the chapter and added that bit at the end. I'm thinking this story is focusing too much on the romance so I'll try to shift some focus on friendships and family relations next chapter.
Besides that I'm not sure if there were any issues I wanted to address but if you have any questions or comments you'd like me to respond to go ahead and say something!
As always, thank you for reading, tell me what you think and if you want to see when I might update or what's going on with me you can check my profile.