~ Dearly Beloved ~
…everyone falls in love…
Chapter One: The Meeting of Polar Bears and Good Samaritans
~Love is always bestowed as a gift
freely, willingly, and without expectation....
We don't love to be loved; we love to love ~
~ Leo Buscaglia
His eyes were glued onto the road ahead of him; the road that one would imagine would lead them to heaven, so heavenly white it glowed. He cursed silently as the sudden gust of wind brought about masses of snow on the windshield. Damn. His alert, maroon eyes fringed by pretty, almost girlish dark lashes that countless women had thought were odd in his chiseled features, skated down to check the car's speed and the observation he made caused him to frown darkly, making the sinfully beautiful face like that of a displeased god. The car was going at fifteen miles per hour. That had to be over the speed limit, huh? He shook his head at his own dry sense of humor.
The sky glittered a pale, shadowy white-blue as the pallid scenery moved at a painfully slow pace. He reached out to the cup of coffee at his right and almost choked on the dark, bitter liquid as it entered his mouth. It was cold and very, very bitter. He sighed in frustration as he set it back down on the cup holder, running a hand through the bulk of his onyx strands of hair; how had he expected the coffee to be hot when he had bought it two hours ago?
A reluctant smile tugged at the corners of his sensually curved lips as he thought of the bubbly voice of his sister. She had always been quite a pixie like girl, a little package of a child-woman with dark red hair and charismatic blue eyes whose one innocent glance could make him want to forgive her faults such as when she insulted his Gundam toys when they were young. He shook his head with a small laugh which eventually turned into a miniature frown.
She was however, the indirect reason he was stuck in this ungodly blizzard.
She hadn't even called him to let him know, that chit! She had text messaged him, an innocent message whose words haunted and delighted him at the same time. Haunted because of the acute sense of loss…by God, she was growing up, that girl with a heedful of wavy flaming hair, and he realized with some irritation, he was also aging. And yet he was delighted, he thought with an evil grin, to see that his crazy little sister had finally managed to enslave a man to her side. Her words had been brief and he could almost imagine her voice in his head as he remembered reading the note whose sender he had no doubt about…after all, it had ended with four exclamation marks. That was Merle and her patented nick name for him had given him another hint: Vanny, I am getting married! Come home!!!!
He had immediately booked a flight only to find out that all flights had been canceled due to inclement weather. Perfect; and thus he was stuck in this unholy, mother of a snow storm.
His eyes froze. It was just a small blot, a small insignificant blot when the image magnified and got larger; his eyes widened, his face tensed and he was sure he was dreaming.
There, not too far away in the distance stood…a huge polar bear who was waving madly.
He squinted as he tried to get a closer look and his realization though different from the previous one still surprised him.
It was a she. A female, he was sure for some inexplicable reason (somehow he decided it had to be a female to being doing the waving motion.)
The woman was dressed in a over-large white coat with a hoodie to cover her head, and white jeans. His auburn eyes widened slightly as he realized who, or what she resembled.
Her face was barely visible because of the hoodie and it was no wonder if his initial reaction of shock held any criticism…she could have passed for a polar bear.
"Stop!" she yelled and he realized that the woman had a heck of a vocal range if he was approximately ten feet away from her and his windows were sealed shut.
What the dark haired man hadn't realized that this would be one of the many surprises he'd encounter…
He halted his car just a foot away from her and with brisk steps she came to knock on his window. Her face was pale, but her cheeks glowed pink from the cold. Pressing a button on the side, the window slid down and the sudden gust of wind that over took her made her shiver not unlike the trees nearby. A wave of cool air washed the interior of his car, and involuntarily, he shoved his hands in the pocket of his pants.
"Can I help you?" he asked, somehow finding the question a bit rhetorical since it was quite blatant that the woman needed his assistance. No, he corrected as his eyes quickly roved over her curiously; she was more girl than woman. Plus, he wasn't quite interested in aiding anyone with anything in this soul-freezing wintry weather.
She smiled, her pale pink lips cracked and the voice that elicited from her lips was surprisingly pleasant, not the shriek-like voice he'd imagined in a lower tone. There was a friendly lilt to her voice, an easy going aura. "Finally!" her skin looked so soft up-close, her cheeks like a young girl's, "A good Samaritan!" He was mildly amused at the situation he was in; what would some of his high class "friends" say if he told them that she thought he was a good Samaritan? Laugh, yes, that is what they would do. In his situation, his friends would've been more likely to throw a blank check out to her than physically go out and help her if she had a flat tire.
"What is it you need?" he fisted his long-fingered hands in his pockets.
She was the picture of a helpless maid, yet her eyes sparkled with a certain warmth, an intelligence; a combination that he'd found rarely the pleasure of witnessing. "I ran out of gasoline and I was wondering if you had any…"
"I am afraid not."
"Damn," the woman whispered a curse and gave a sardonic yet somehow sweet smile, "you think you can rescue a damsel in distress just this once?" She used the full-advantage of her big, trusting green eyes but it was a blatant that she didn't know that countless women had batted their lashes, given soulful stares in hopes of extracting favors that were more of a, well, carnal nature. In short, he was not to be swayed by the looks of a woman especially those whose looks said that she a sharp wit and her steady eyes reflected intelligence and maybe…a bit of mischievousness.
But his eyes flickered just once in what he had not dared to think of…sympathy?
He inwardly stiffened; when had he started to analyze a woman's eyes so deeply? He had no idea. Perhaps, two minutes ago when he'd first set eyes on her? There was this compulsion…this strange compulsion to analyze every bit of her. It was this aura that surrounded her, them, and the message that he got was strange. He knew his life was about to change. He knew he should just drive away and maybe call for help.
"I don't particularly enjoy rescuing careless damsels," he spoke harshly, yet silkily. There was something unnerving about the woman before him. An ominous, perhaps portentous cloud hung over them.
She was taken slightly aback but she recovered quickly. She decided to take another approach and rolled her eyes. Surely this would make him agree…well, maybe. "The nearest gas station is in fifty miles and it's freezing here!" she gave him an accusing look, "You can't give me a ride there?"
"You couldn't refill your tank a while back?"
She stiffened and said with a raised eyebrow, "It was out of order."
"What if you're a killer? How can I trust you?" the question took her by surprise and the sheer hilarity of his accusation made her burst into laughter which turned into coughs.
Instinctively, he reached his hand out and drew back like he'd been burned.
"Listen," her face was slowly beginning to flush all over as the man not only began to grate on her nerves slightly but he had no idea what she was suffering from…it felt like she was stuck in a walk-in freezer! And so she chose her words deliberately, and looked him in the eye; green imprisoning maroon ones. "If I wanted to kill you and steal your car, I would've already done that." She gave an exasperated sigh as she saw his emotionless face, and so she inched even closer to him so he saw the hypnotic depths of her green eyes ever so clearly, "You just have to trust me," she pleaded and added quietly, "I won't hurt you."
Damn him for his treacherous mind. He wanted to believe her! Was he crazy? Had his sister been right all these years?...that beneath his cool façade there lay a man who was absolutely irrational, and well, insane? Brushing away those thoughts, he cleared his voice and raised one dark eyebrow, "How do you know there's a station in fifty miles?"
"I've traveled this road before…many times."
He looked at her face impassively and for a few moments the only thing that could be heard was the ragged breaths of the female and he could see the puff of vapor steal out of her lips.
"Get in," he said calmly, her eyes suddenly blinking…for a moment there she was convinced he'd say no and the tension was so thick in the air that it was almost tangible. So, Mr. I'm-so-Cool had a conscience.
Walking briskly, she opened the passenger side of the door, bringing in a wave of fresh scent of cleanliness and cool temperature. The next thing she said, obviously indicated by his scowl, displeased him, "So you are a Good Samaritan, albeit the irrational heart…and oh yes, you might want to get my luggage; it's in the trunk."
He grumbled and it wasn't until he was outside that he realized that he could've refused her order—
His eyes widened; since when had a woman ordered him to do anything? It was always the other way around.
Her voice carried over by the wind, "There is one suitcase; you get lucky this time."
He growled over his back, "They're yours, why should I carry them for you?" Who said that he had to follow her? He could come right back into the car and let her go and get it for herself…he grinned wickedly, he was all for female independence.
"Because you don't want a poor damsel to be out there in the harsh cold any longer than for the two hours she's been," she said teasingly. His heart beat quickened involuntarily; God, she had to be cold, freezing, more like it. He grunted as he grudgingly popped her trunk and she could only giggle as a string of curses burst forth like a fountain during spring. She called it a suit case? It was bloody cargo, so heavy it was.
"What do you have in here?" he looked at her incredulously as he dragged the poor, large, black suit-case to the trunk of his car.
Taking a deep breath, he carefully lifted it and after placing it, he shut the trunk close.
She answered, rocking herself back in forth from the cold, rubbing her arms to create friction that would generate heat, "They're clothes, of-course."
He regarded the hefty, yet somehow cute looking jacket she wore— Cute looking?! Excellent. Just the mere exposure of her was making him think like a female. He conjured up a high pitched female voice in his head, one that amusingly sounded much like the woman who sat besides him, That outfit is soooo cute!!! The voice shrieked in his head.
"You're not only one who's harsh to a woman, you're obviously slow."
"What?" he asked as he snapped back.
"I said drive, just drive before the storm comes in full blast," she gave him an innocent look as she added, "my Good Samaritan." The tone of her voice indicated that she was being sarcastic and this annoyed the raven-haired man.
"Stop calling me that!" he snapped.
She snorted as he revved up the engine, "Well I would if you weren't nameless…and so stingy…turn on the heat to full."
With a grunt, he turned the heat to max, instantly shot with a blast of warm air, "It's Van."
"Pardon?" she asked, caught off guard.
Sliding his maroon eyes until they rested on her face very briefly he spoke, "My name's Fanel; Van Fanel."
Do a James Bond on me, huh? "Van," she smiled, "Atleast your mother was a sensible woman; nice name."
"However, you call me Mr. Fanel," he added, irritated.
"Mr. Fanel," she grinned, rubbing her hands together, "your mother also married a man with a nice last name. Imagine being married to a man whose last name was…" she twisted her face in thought, "Guacamole?"
He bit back a laugh; the expression on her face was priceless. The way she pronounced his last name gave him a distinct feeling that he was being mocked; a thoroughly new and irritating feeling that he had never had the joy of experiencing. He cast a sideways glance at her; the woman's pale pink lips stretched into a smile, looking out the window in awe.
Van Fanel would've wanted to shoot himself dead than speak and initiate a conversation with the woman that had more clothes and less flesh. Woman. He had to find her name.
"Your name?" he asked simply, feeling rather stupid.
"Kanzaki," she admitted.
Why he asked the next question even baffled him; perhaps, as he liked to think, it was a natural instinct. "Are you married?"
She quipped, "Are you married?"
He shrugged, "No." Any woman with half a sense could sense that he wasn't the marrying sort. She observed him carefully, dark strands of his hair sticking in odd places in a way that was almost endearing if his face would soften just a bit… Her eyes unintentionally rested on his beautifully sculpted lips and she was drawn to gaze at them for a few moment until she jerked herself, her face showing a tell tale blush.
"Something profound you'd like to share?" she belatedly noticed that his voice had a husky timbre that she suddenly couldn't ignore.
She hastily turned away, "No, of-course, not."
"So?" he looked ahead at the road, driving steadily at twenty three miles per hour since the storm had subsided to an extent.
"So what?" she asked distractedly.
"Are you married, engaged?"
She grimaced, "Neither."
He found himself grinning evilly, "Knowing you, it's probably divorce."
She shot him a murderous glare, "Don't illusion yourself into thinking you know me…and no, I am not divorced; never married."
He leaned in, finding an odd feeling of soft of comfort in her voice, "Do you want to marry?"
"Hmm…this is part where I'm supposed to say…mind your own business," she huffed.
The sight of her ruffled form brought a smile onto his face…alright, he wasn't quite a sadist…
Seeing the reserved look on her, he prodded, "Perhaps I should just leave you here…I could drop you off."
Her eyes flickered and she raised her eyebrows in challenge, "You wouldn't dare."
"I would too," he grinned boyishly, not realizing the gasp that elicited from her mouth at the sight of his smiling face.
"You'll just have to face the crowd of reporters the next day. They'll have huge headlines talking about a woman freezing to death," she whipped out a guilty look, "and how you left her that way." But she did not stop there, "And if I survived, I'd curse you till you hit your grave, Fanel."
He gave her a benevolent smile that became a hoarse laugh. "Call me Van."
Tugging on her hoodie, the corners of her lips pulled upwards, until her eyes gave off a lambent glow the color of emeralds.
She stretched out like a lazy cat as they stepped out of the car. Van had driven into a hotel, where they decided they would check into separate rooms. It was a quaint looking place, having a familiar look of hominess, much like the ginger-bread house out of illustrated children's books, especially so as it was under a blanket of luminescent white.
"It's pretty," she observed. They had somewhat relaxed, and it was a wonder how she had dug out so much information by not even saying much about herself.
He nodded in reply, getting anxious. "Looks like we'll be stuck here."
She agreed with a murmur as they made their way to the door. Sweeping a glance he frowned; cars lined the parking lot. It was no wonder; the hotel/inn, coupled with its story-book looks and the frightening blizzard was becoming a popular spot.
"Yeah," she agreed, "I think this is only 'hotel' they even have; the town folks call it inns, I believe." He shook his head; he was anxious…he had to make a phone call home and his cell phone was dead. Damn.
She yawned and trudged onto the front door which still had a merry Christmas wreath and the light glow from the rooms gave her a feeling of homesickness. Home…
The bell gave a tingly chime as they entered the lobby which had comfortable, antiquated, country looking furniture.
"Nice," he murmured as they strolled up to the front desk, where a man with snowy masses of hair grinned at him cheerily.
"Aaaah, lucky couple. Might I book a room for you two?"
"Two rooms," they said in unison.
The man looked from one person to another and frowned, "There's only one room left," suddenly dismissing that important fact, he asked, "You two husband and wife? We don't allow singles male and female in one room." He puffed his chest proudly, "My grandfather ran this inn and we still carry our beliefs; it's our duty to the community," he snorted as he continued not noting their baffled faces, "don't have any young 'uns seeking a room together."
So taken he was in explaining his strong values, he was oblivious to the panicked expressions and incredulity.
Raven hair came into his eyes as he snaked an arm around Hitomi's waist, which caused her to squirm slightly. "Let go of me, you jerk!" she whispered fiercely.
He had a genuine look of exasperation, which was quiet easily possible to convey—because she was grounding his toes with the heel of her shoe. Gasping slightly as he tightened his hold, "As you can see," he spoke between grit teeth; "my wife and I haven't been getting along quite well these past few days," an unintentional stony expression on her face confirmed his alibi.
The man leaned in with a knowing smile, "Aye, aye. Becky, my Becky was a fierce one too. She had her moments," he grinned secretively, "I'll have them send up a little something," there was an impish twinkle in his kind blue eyes, "I discovered another place where my wife can let out her anger." He gave them a suggestive look that Hitomi had a most horrified feeling that, well, she was looking mortified and horrified. "She's quite spent with her frustration when, uuh," the man at least had the grace to blush slightly, "we're done…if you follow my line."
The dark haired man had an urge to laugh, his lips twitching, wanting to part and let out a sound of amusement. Instead, he leaned in and smiled appreciatively looking down at Hitomi, "I'll be sure to take that into consideration tonight," he said in a husky voice that made her tremor slightly. The way his face changed, the man was surely a chameleon!
Azure eyes shimmered as he beamed. "Yes, yes. You two take a seat there and your room will be ready in fifteen minutes."
"Oh my God." She touched a palm to her cheek, feeling its intense heat. "That man…" she shook her head too embarrassed thus unable to continue.
however, was too busy shaking with violent throes of laughter and so she
couldn't help but snap at him, "And you! You had to tell him we're
married?! Are you crazy?!"
He quieted slightly though his words were shaky, "It was that o-or you'd be sleeping in the car…a cold car."
She sniffed, "So much for chivalry; I think it was too much to hope that you'd maybe sleep in the car and I in the room." He stiffened slightly wishing—Nay, since when had chivalry appealed to him? He grinned slightly to himself; he was probably viewed as the black guard by the parents of the women he'd bed.
It was then he realized that she was prodding him. "Let go of me."
"What?" his maroon eyes snapped in focus.
"You're still holding onto my waist." He extracted his arm away from her waist as if it was just stung by a mass of bees.
"Sorry," he mumbled, burying his hands in his coat pocket.
She gave him a dirty look and he swept his hand through his hair, "I'll be back." With a turn, he left for the phone booth that was in the corner.
Hastily he dialed the number the phone ringing. "Hello?" a female voice answered, the smile evident in her tone.
"Van!" she cried, "Where are you?!! We were soo damn worried about you!"
He gave a short laugh, "Oh I don't know, I am stuck here in this small little town. You are going to paaay when I get home, you know that, you minx?!"
She giggled into the phone, "Yes, yes. And I also won a bet!"
"A bet?" he asked, his expression quizzical.
"Yeah, Folken said that I'd marry before you would. I gained two hundred bucks on that one!"
He snorted, "Don't get too carried away, lil' sis…you're not married y—" His speech halted as the sudden image of golden-brown hair flashed before his eyes and the female turned, revealing all the features of her face with her mass of shining hair.
…he forgot to breathe.
What irked him was that she wasn't even beautiful, or one of those gorgeous, porcelain-delicate models he'd dated and had little flings with! There was something else that was powerfully attractive about her—
"Van? You okay? Van!" the voice kept on worriedly and he snapped back from his reverie.
"Y-yeah, jeez Merle! My eardrums will burst!"
"Oh sorry," she said sheepishly. "You cut off there suddenly…something happened?"
"No," he inhaled a ragged breath, "I'm fine; where were you?"
"Yeah, we've postponed our wedding for a week. You'll make it by then, yes, brother?"
"Yeah," he smiled into the phone, "Sure, you're not gonna get wedding jitters?"
"Ha! You can keep on hoping. I won't lose the bet!"
Grinning ridiculously, "I think Folken made that bet just so that you'd hurry up and get married," he was being mean, but it was simply irresistible. It was his sister after all.
"It feels great to be loved," she said dryly.
"Hey hey, now, I was joking!"
"I know," she laughed, "Or how would I've survived all through those torturous years?"
"Well, that's not a mystery; you were a whiny, cry-baby."
He gave a snort and a laugh. "Alright, Merle," he saw the green eyed woman looking at him, "I've got to let you go."
"Right," she muttered, "Some other woman you're after?"
She laughed, "Oh Brother! I hope you find someone who'll teach you what it is to love."
He snorted, "Don't get girly on me."
She gave a care-free laugh, "Okay, okay, then; I can sense you don't want to talk to me anymore. Bye."
"Bye." He hung up. Oh yes, his little sister was definitely growing up. Belatedly, he realized that he'd forgotten to ask who the lucky man was that had asked for her hand in marriage.
Walking back to Hitomi casually, he asked, "Can't live without your husband by your side?"
She whacked his arm, "You wish." She dangled the keys in her hands. "Let's go. I am soo tired."
"Can't wait to collapse on the bed, huh?"
"Y-yes," and then she halted at the sight of his dancing eyes, "You are perverted, Fanel."
"Van," he corrected, he wrapped his arm around her waist and when she started to wiggle like a fish out of water, he whispered into her ear, "The old man is watching…tsk tsk…act like a decent wife for once."
She fumed, "You just wait until we get in the room."
He muffled his laughter, "Oooh, I am scared…but ready." He winked as he was barely inches away from her incredulous eyes adding with a husky, smoky tone, "I am ready to try anything you wish with you tonight, sweet."
"You say that again, I might just unman you!"
"Unman me?" he laughed, "How will you go about accomplishing that?"
She shot him a sardonic look, "A certain place where the male anatomy exists will be very, very sore if you go any further."
He threw his head and laughed, and oh God it felt so good to laugh.
God was seriously unhappy with her was her last thought before she began to climb the stairs leading them to their bedroom.
Grinning down at her, his broody maroon eyes sparkling with an odd emotion, his face lit with an ethereal glow, he slowly, wrapped his arm around her back and together they went upstairs, and to observers they were the epitomical picture of a wonderfully happy couple.
~Don't forget to be kind to strangers. For some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.~
A/N: *dreamy sigh and then coughs* Here it is…my sarcastic, little try at a romantic-comedy for Dariel's belated birthday present. ^_~ *hugs both teddies* ^____________________^ Haha, this is the edited version, Dee, so you if you print it, print this one. ^_^ Soooorry, I was soo bloody tired when I wrote that and I didn't have enough time to go back and edit.
Anywhoo, to all my other faithful readers, hope you've enjoyed this. :D I wanted to give Van another perspective. As for the length of this story, I have nooo idea. ^^;; Ooh another thing, this was very, very vaguely inspired by Judith McNaught's "Perfect," but I don't think it'll be even a bit like that...XD, and plus the guy was a convict and he kidnapped her and they slept in different rooms. Haha, but the snowy thing came from none other than Dee...XD she was telling me about the lack of good looking guys in Italy...where I'll never go. *sniffs*
So, yes, next chapter will prolly come next week even though I think I might have it done this weekend. ^___~ Oh yes, click and review!!! MUAHAHA…or maybe I might just be tempted to delete this story…XD I dunno, not too confident about how I will do at comedy. *smiles sheepishly*
Disclaimers: I don't own Escaflowne…but, *shakes head vigorously and winks at Ryuu Angel* but Van's all mine in my dreams. ^_______________^;;