Hey there!!! Look who's back!! hides behind chair I know I've two other stories running but I couldn't resist! I wrote this for my two teddies hugs them til they're out of breath No, this isn't a birthday present coz it would be way too late (though I don't complain about belated presents winks at b-teddy)...it's just dedicated to them! You see, my girls, this one's for you!!!
"Only with the heart one can see well. The essential part is invisible for the eye."
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
=What a Rainbow feels like=
One. Catching a sunbeam
#When I see the sparkle in your eyes, I can do nothing but smile#
Heat was crawling along the streets like water through canals, sunlight that was reflected in countless windows flooding the people on the sidewalks. The quiet sound of feet in flip flops running over paved ground and the scratching of claws on warm stones were just two of the innumerable noises on the street, at one day in early summer.
"Tiara, not so fast!"
But the complaining was in vain. The Golden Retriever simply dragged the young woman across the sidewalks of the city. It was a sunny Friday afternoon and the streets were crowded with cars, hooting and causing traffic jam. A lot of people were on their way home from work and their conversations filled the air, mixing with the monotonuous concert of the cicades, their endless melody hovering in the warm gorges between the skyscrapers for there was no wind to carry it away.
The deep baritone of an elder man was loudly trying to sell the last copies of the daily newspaper, making it palatable to his customers with the newest scandals of some celebrity. He was surrounded by the overwhelming, sweet scent of roses and lillies which was floating in the air like thick fog, coming from a flower shop nearby and caressing her senses.
It was when she passed a full restaurant at the street and entered a cloud that smelled like fresh-cooked meal, the clinking of dishes and the moving of chairs following her along her way.
The young woman stumbled behind her dog, her short honey-blond hair swaying with her movements. The violet pullover she wore, with sleeves that reached to her elbows, slacked slightly around her slim form, sunglasses hiding her bright green eyes. With her left arm, she held two bags full of vegetables, bread and yoghurt, indicating that she had just been shopping while her right arm was almost stretched to the maximum by her dog.
Oh, if she just hadn't listened to her mother! But she hadn't been able to resist when her mother had asked her to go shopping, her little brother calling from the kitchen and asking if it was right when the cake flowed out of the cake tin.
A small smile found its way onto her features but it vanished by the moment she bumped right into someone and it was more like running straight into a wall for her. She gasped and was thrown backwards, her hands instinctively letting go of her dog and the bags. Hitomi hit the hard asphalt at the same time as did her bags, their contents spilled noisily over the sidewalk. For a brief moment, she lost her orientation, the strangely dull sound of Tiara happily barking and a deep voice apologizing swirling through her mind.
"Hey!" the male voice insisted impatiently, waking her from her daze, her shoulders in a strong grip. "Are you alright?"
"Huh?" Hitomi replied and reached with her hand up to her head, touching her forehead and adjusting her sunglasses. "Yes, I think, I'm fine."
The grip around her shoulders loosened instantly. "Gods, I'm so sorry!" the young man who had shouted at her apologized again, after releasing the breath he had been holding. "I didn't see you! You appeared out of no-where and I simply didn't see you! Are you sure you're alright?"
She smiled about the worry in his voice and absently smoothed her once white skirt, palms sore from connecting with the ground. "Yeah, I'm fine and don't worry, that happens quite often to me."
"Okay," he replied with a sigh and his clothes rustled softly when he swiftly rose to his feet. "Let me help you to stand up."
Hitomi shook her head vigorously, her short hair flying. "No no, it's okay. I can..." her sentence ended in a gasp when he grabbed her wrist and uncompromisingly pulled her up with no effort, making her feel as if she weighed nothing at all.
She was too surprised to react when her feet touched solid ground and stumbled against him, her hands clumsily fisting in his shirt and his scent immediately surrounding her; warm and fresh like a rainshower over a wide field. She felt her cheeks flush at the unfamiliar closeness.
"You don't seem fine at all," the young man stated and she could hear the frown on his face. She had no chance to protest when he led her a few meters and put her onto a chair, the whispers of the people in the café audible in the background. "Maybe you hit your head. You should sit down and rest a bit while I go pick up your groceries."
Hitomi nodded mutely and exhaled exasperatedly, leaning against the creaking backrest of the wooden chair she was sitting on with her hands on her forehead. Her heart was still beating violantly within her chest and a stinging pain emitted from her coccyx which had unselfishly caught her fall. Not her day. Definitely, not her day.
"Well, I think I found everything," the raven-haired man stated, after collecting Hitomi's groceries from the oddst of places (who could have known a tin filled with corn can roll to the feet of a black and not very friendly dog?) and ran a hand through his dishevelled strands that were sparkling in the sunlight like polished onyx. "Only two yoghurts didn't survive the fall but I think we can cope with it."
He grinned lop-sidedly, revealing his white teeth, and held out the bags for her to take. Making no move, Hitomi just sighed and mumbled a thanks, making him blink and look dumbfoundedly at her, hands still stretched out. He was just about to open his mouth, black brows knitted in a frown, when she tensed, a thought suddenly coming to her mind.
"My dog!" Hitomi exclaimed and turned around, holding out her hands. "Tiara! Where are you, girl?"
Van watched in realization when the beige dog, who was calmly sitting beside the young woman, leaned in and licked her fingers. A smile spread across her soft features and she patted Tiara gently with delicate hands.
"Good girl," she said while stroking over the dog's forehead, enjoying the feeling of the soft fur under her fingertips. "But next time, not that fast, okay?!"
"You're blind," Van stated bluntly with an awe in his voice as if he had just discovered that Gaea is round, and sat down opposite her, his rare, auburn eyes focused on her.
"Obvious, isn't it?" Hitomi replied with a smile and looked up, turning instinctively in the direction of his voice. It was rich and deep, pleasant to her ears in a strange kind of way. It was one of those voices she would hear above hundreds of other ones, in a room filled with people.
"I'm sorry, I didn't intend to offend you. I just noticed that-that..." he stuttered, desperately searching for a way out of where he had put his foot just in, and Hitomi helped him out of his misery by interupting him softly.
"It's okay," she assured him, averting her blind gaze downwards. "After all, you couldn't have known."
"But I could have been a bit less blunt," he continued, folding his tanned hands and leaning onto the stone table that separated him and the honey- blonde.
"No, it's okay," Hitomi insisted, her voice slightly impatient and almost a little bit angry.
"Fine," the young man replied after a brief silence, a light frown visible on his features that had already caught quite some attention among the female guests in the café, innumerable eyes watching him silently. His intimidating height and dark looks were way too striking to not be noticed but he, of course, was oblivious to the stares, his interest focused only on her. "But I can, at least, invite you to a drink or something as a pathetic attempt to make up for standing in your way."
"Well, I actually don't have any time," she told him with an apologetic smile and attempted to fish for Tiara's leash. "You're forgiven, no need then to make up."
A smirk flashed across his handsome features and a mischievous sparkle entered his boundless orbs that if she had had her eyesight, would have told her that he was not willing to let her go just like that. He sensed that she didn't feel comfortable and somehow he knew that making her stay would be like trying to catch a sunbeam.
"What if I don't accept your forgiveness?" he countered and the smirk stretched into a lop-sided grin, his tall body slumped in the wooden chair, making him look like a lazy tiger. And though nobody would have doubted that he could be out of his seat within the blink of an eye, his posture radiating
Hitomi stopped her actions of departure to frown at him. "Why wouldn't you?"
"Why would I?" Van replied with laughter in his eyes. "Please, it's not as if I'm asking for you to spend the night with me or anything. A few minutes, a water, please."
"You're not giving me this puppy dog look, now do you?!" she questioned, brushing a stubborn strand out of her face. "Because that doesn't work on me, you know."
He blinked at her and suddenly threw his head back, his deep laughter echoing into the summer sky. Heads turned to watch the handsome, young man chuckle, his shoulders shaking, and there had to be something contagious around him for Hitomi couldn't stop the shadow of a smile from crossing her features.
"Oh, come on," Van whined when he had slightly calmed down. "You don't bump into people and let them go without even getting to know their name."
"You want to know my name?" the sandy-blonde asked, her delicate brows knitted and her hands folded in her lap.
"That would be a start, yes," he answered and she could hear the amusement in his voice. "Maybe it's easier for you when I start; my name is Van Fanel."
Hitomi had her gaze directed to the ground, her ears pricked in order to decipher the intention behind his words and behavior. "Okay, Mr Fanel..."
"Van," he corrected her and she looked up.
"Hitomi," she stated. "Hitomi Kanzaki."
"It's a pleasure to meet you, miss Kanzaki," Van grinned and turned in his seat to call for the waiter he had been silently watching the whole time. "And now, allow me to treat you to a drink."
"Wait, I never said I would stay!" Hitomi hastily protested, almost rising from her chair.
"But nor did you say you wouldn't," he countered and she knew he was smirking. "Your order?"
Her lips pressed to a thin line, she glared at him. What was it he was doing to her? She usually wasn't the one to be speechless. She was used to have the last word but there she was, in a café with a stranger compelling her to a drink by simply letting her no possibility to take a breath and say no. But then again, she was sure that he wouldn't accept a no and ignore it.
"A water is enough," she sighed and leaned back in her chair, listening to Van order her water and to her dog's fast but rhythmical breathing.
It was silent after the waiter had left. She heard his deep and regular breaths and that he leaned back in his chair, stretching his legs under the table and making his clothes rustle softly in the process. And she felt his eyes on her.
"What?" Hitomi asked warily and startled him out of his thoughts, the young man dragging a hand through his raven-black strands.
"Nothing..." he replied slowly and shifted in his chair, the glued wood creaking quietly under his weight. "It's just...I don't know, I just never met someone like you before."
"Am I that different?" the sandy-blonde questioned quietly, her head turned away from him.
It was always like that. As soon as the topic changed to her blindness, people started to act different. What she felt most then were nervousness and distance, as if they feared to do something wrong, rather staying away from her than taking the risk to offend her. And she had learned to keep her distance as well as people kept their distance towards her.
"No no!" Van hastily interupted her trail of thoughts with this melodic voice of his, waving his hands before running them through his hair again, a desperate sigh escaping his lips. "Gods, I really tend to put my foot in it. I didn't mean to offend you, really."
"You already said that," Hitomi replied, leaning onto the table and Tiara rested her head in her lap. "But don't worry, I'm not offended. You could say I'm used to it for people often act like that."
The auburn-eyed man watched her with a deep frown and crossed his arms in front of his chest before he spoke, his sleeveless, red shirt brushing gently over his skin with the motion. "Can I ask you something?" he questioned seriously and Hitomi blinked in surprise.
"Of course," she responded slowly and leaned a bit backwards, her delicate brows rising in anticipation over the rim of her sunglasses. Tiara whined softly and adjusted herself in Hitomi's lap again, the young woman patting her head absently.
"I mean, I can't imagine how it is to not see anything. No colours, no forms, no structures," he began and shifted his position again, propping his elbow on the thin armrest of his chair. "How do you...well..."
"...see the world?" Hitomi offered with a small smile when Van trailed off, obviously at a loss of words.
"Yeah!" he exclaimed exasperatedly and put his hands on the table again as if to stress his point.
The young woman sighed and brushed a honey-blond strand out of her face. How often she had been asked this question, she couldn't count. And explaining a world without colours to someone with eyesight was like trying to explain to a blind person that there were colours.
But she knew that he was waiting for her answer and right then, she couldn't tell why she explained him at all; explained to a stranger she had just bumped into, someone she didn't know, someone whose way she would never cross again.
"You see," Hitomi began and ran with her hand over her dog's soft fur, Tiara closing her eyes in contentment. "My world consists of noises, scents and emotions. I connect events and places with what I heard, smelled and felt. And I do see something if I can say so."
Van was quiet, listening attentively to her every word and watching her with curious eyes that sparkled an intense red from between strands of unruly hair. He watched a light breeze rustle through her tresses, delicate strands sparkling like a prism in the sunlight, her dark sunglasses a strong contrast to her creamy, pale skin. The whole time, he wondered what was behind them for he couldn't see through the glass.
"When I touch things, I can feel their outlines and can imagine how they look," she continued, revealing white teeth whenever her lips parted. "It's like seeing silhouettes. And I can also feel structure. For example, I can feel the smooth and cold surface of this table," Hitomi said and ran with her fingers carefully over the table. "I can feel the little crevices here and there and I can feel that the structure is changing, like a pattern. It feels like a marble imitation."
"Impressive," Van replied with a nod and she could hear the acknowledgement in his deep voice.
"If you gave me a coin, I could even tell you when it had been coined by feeling it," she stated, only to smirk a second later. "Your frown is so intense that I can hear it, Van."
The young man raised his dark brows in surprise and smiled when he watched her grin. Her eyes had to be sparkling. "When one sense is missing, the other ones are better developed," Hitomi continued with a shrug. "I hear and feel a lot better than you for there are no visual impressions to distract me."
"I don't doubt that," Van assured her with a wide grin that made his eyes crinkle at the ends, their red dancing with sunlight which fell through dark lashes.
"One time, I was allowed to touch an elephant in the zoo," she continued quietly and looked down at Tiara who was happily enjoying to be caressed. "It was the greatest experience in my entire life. I can still feel this wrinkled but soft skin under my fingertips, can feel the incredible warmth radiating from this gigantic body, can hear the huge heart beat as loud as a drum."
A warm smile crept upon Van's features when he listened to her and he knew that her eyes were shining behind the sunglasses.
"Did you touch any other animal?" he asked softly, his eyes never leaving her features.
"Of course," Hitomi chuckled and looked up at him. "Dogs, cats, birds and quite some other animals but I know what you mean. The elephant was the only exotic animal I touched." She grinned. "The poor things have to watch out because I want to touch them all! I want to know how a lion's fur differs from the one of a tiger, want to know how the scales of snakes feel and the wet skin of dolphins. Oh, I love dolphins and whales and all these other animals in the sea. My mom sais that I've been a mermaid in one of my former lives."
"Excuse me?" a polite, male voice interupted her giggles and she felt Van jerk across the table, making it shake lightly. He must've been deep in thoughts. "Here is the water you ordered." The glasses clinked faintly when the waiter placed them on the table, the clear liquid swepping in its transparent cage. "Are you okay again, miss? Your fall seemed quite painful."
Hitomi smiled up at the young voice. "Yes, I'm fine, thank you," she replied and the waiter left with a nod.
Slowly but unerringly, her delicate hands groped across the table for the glass, closing firmly around it and lifting it to her lips. She took a sip and placed it carefully on the table again. This time, she didn't even hear him breathe.
"Just ask," Hitomi said, not able to stop the corners of her mouth from twitching, and turned in his direction.
He still didn't speak, eyes set on her and she listened the noises from around her; quiet conversations, spoons stirring in mugs of coffee and hitting the ceramic every now and then. "Why are you hiding your eyes?"
She blinked and turned away. "I hide my eyes?"
"You do," was the simple answer and she sighed.
"I don't want people to feel uncomfortable when they look at me," the young woman answered, head slightly tilted to the side and a warm breeze playing with her short tresses. "I often don't look at the people I speak to."
"You don't want people to notice that you're blind when they look at you," Van stated quietly, making her rise her blind gaze.
"My eyes are blind and have no point to focus on," she continued. "They tend to dart around when I speak to someone or I simply look past the person I'm talking to for I can't see where they stand. It makes them feel uneasy and that's why I'm often wearing sunglasses for I don't like it when they don't know how to act around me."
"Can I see your eyes?"
Surprised, she hesitated briefly before she reached up with her hands and took off the sunglasses, sandy-blond strands tumbling over sparkling emeralds. It was the most intense green Van had ever seen, the reflections of the sunlight dancing across her irises like they would flicker over the surface of the sea, pale and delicate lashes framing them.
"Say something so that I can look you in the eye," she ordered while placing the sunglasses on the table, waking him from the daze her eyes had pulled him in. They were captivating and he simply couldn't tear his gaze away.
"They are green," he replied softly, his voice almost a whisper, and she smiled lightly.
"Yeah, people told me so," she stated with a wink and groped for her sunglasses but a frown appeared on her features when she couldn't find them where she had put them.
"I took them," Van grinned boyishly, twisting her fragile sunglasses between his tanned fingers. He already liked her frown. "Your eyes are beautiful and you shouldn't hide them. And right now, you're looking directly at me, no need to feel uncomfortable."
"Thank you," she replied quietly and listened to his fingers drum on the table, her cheeks slightly flushed but not only because of the heat.
"Does it mean anything to you when I tell you that your eyes are green, that my shirt is red?" he asked and she heard him shift again on his chair. "That the sky is blue?"
"Yes, it does," she answered firmly. "I know it is hard for you to imagine that there are no colours but I replace them with other impressions. I connect every colour with a certain feeling or emotion or even scent. Take green. It's a fresh colour, I can smell warm and wet lawn when I think of it and I imagine to stand in a forest with all these different noises around me."
"What about red?" Van questioned with narrowed eyes and she grinned.
"It's a cliché but I do connect love with the colour," Hitomi responded truthfully and nodded lightly, sipping on her water. "Mixed emotions, inconsistent emotions. Fire and heat."
Van was just about to reply when she spoke again. "Let me show you how it works," the green-eyed woman suggested and pointed upwards. "Look into the sky and tell me what you feel."
The black-haired man looked at her with an unreadable expression on his face but obeyed and leaned against the backrest of his chair, tilting his head backwards and linking his arms behind it. Warm sunlight, that twinkled through the foliage of the tree beside them, caressed his handsome features and warmed his tanned skin, unruly strands swaying lazily in a soft breeze.
An endless expanse of blue was spanned above him, sprinkled with feathery dots of a blinding white, the wind obviously enjoying to chase the clouds across the sky.
"It makes me relax when I look into the sky," he began with a smile and exhaled deeply. "I feel free. I feel the urge to just spread my wings and fly. I want to feel the wind on my face and want to know how clouds feel under my fingers."
"And this is how I see the sky," Hitomi whispered, not wanting to destroy this moment. "How I see the world without colours."
"You've got a talent to make one understand, you know?!" Van said, still looking into the sky with a far off look on his face and unaware of the smile that tugged at her lips.
"Yeah, people told me so," she replied quietly and listened to Tiara's calm breaths. The dog had fallen asleep on her lap. "What's the time, by the way?"
Van raised his arm and glanced at the black digital watch at his wrist, not even bothering to straighten from his half-lying position in the wooden chair, long legs stretched out on the paved ground. "Half past five," he stated and looked at her out of the corners of his eyes, a dark red sparkling from behind pitch-black strands. "Do you have to leave?"
Hitomi inhaled deeply and nodded. "I'm sure my mom is already waiting," she explained and shoved the Golden Retriever's head softly off of her lap, waking Tiara from her nap. The beige dog yawned and stretched her tired limps, shaking the sleep from her body and making the young man smile. "I was supposed to buy some things for supper."
"Ah yes," Van nodded and grinned lazily, directing his gaze down to her bags which looked as if someone had played football with them and their contents. Some yoghurt was still adorning the sidewalk, giving it a special fruity touch. "As long as your mother doesn't mind bruised groceries, everything will be alright."
"She won't," Hitomi replied, her eyes sparkling in amusement. "I've got a younger brother after all."
"That would explain it," he countered with laughter in his voice and watched her smile.
"Well then," she said, rising from her chair, and rummaged through her handbag, her dog circling her slim legs excitedly. Hitomi was fishing for her purse when a strong and gentle hand was suddenly placed on her smaller one. She stiffened instantly under the unfamiliar touch, his hand like a warm glove.
"I said I would invite you," Van said close to her ear and she could hear the smile on his face. "I know you're a woman with both of her feet on solid ground, able to pay for herself. But please, allow me this little victory."
Hitomi took a step away from him, slipping her hand out of his soft grasp. "Fine," she replied and groped for Tiara's leash. "Thank you for the water and for the conversation. I really enjoyed it."
"You're welcome," he offered and she was quite sure that he bowed to her.
Van waited patiently for her to pick up her bags and adjust them in her arms, her dog not of great help for she was pulling at the leash vigorously. Hitomi smiled briefly when he handed her the sunglasses and she slipped them into her handbag, making him grin.
"Have a nice life, Van," the sandy-blonde said, her eyes sparkling in the intense light of that one Friday afternoon in early summer and with a brief nod, she turned around and walked away, Tiara's barking fading slowly in the distance.
"See you soon, Hitomi Kanzaki," the raven-haired man promised and his unfathomable, rusty-coloured eyes watched her disappear among the innumerable people on the street, a tiny smile playing across his sunkissed lips.
"Moons and years pass by but a beautiful
moment glows throughout one's entire life."
A/N: That's the first part! What do you say?! I don't know exactly how long this is going to be but I hope I could stir up your interest. Hehe. And before I forget, I hope it's enough for the whole story when I put a disclaimer here: I don't own Escaflowne but we all already know that, so no surprise here sobs and I hope I didn't offend anyone who might know a blind person bows to the floor Thanks for listening and I'll see you around!!!