The rain poured ceaselessly here for a few days and the cauldron of ideas had bubbled over once again. I managed to have a lot of time to flesh it out since my car spent the entire day in the shop getting fixed. At least I got a good breakfast out of it. Here is the final chapter to my somewhat dramatic little fic. Enjoy…
This was it.
No turning back now.
No more questioning looks at school.
No more hesitation.
No more fear.
It was time to act.
To come clean.
The first thing that caught her notice as she stepped out onto the carpeted balcony was the glow of flowers from somewhere down below. The soft, questioning voice that had called her name and even the fluttering butterflies in her stomach were forgotten as she witnessed the seductive beauty of hundreds of softly incandescent flowers in what could only be a night-blooming garden. The subtle shine of the moon on the multitude of white and pale yellow petals gave the night an ethereal feel.
'If fairies existed, here is where they would live,' she thought, unable to stop herself from grasping the railing in her hands and leaning out for a closer look. Moths darted to and fro, from flower to flower, crickets chirped in the warm, night air, a gentle breeze carried the heady scent of jasmine to her nose and she inhaled deeply. Such an intoxicating fragrance that she breathed it in once more just to continue to enjoy it.
She'd never seen anything like this garden in her entire life. Smiling wryly to herself, she doubted that anyone outside of the household had ever seen it either. The most private place on earth. A small slice of heaven. And everyone thought that Seto had no heart, that he was a cold, unfeeling block of ice.
They were wrong.
This garden proved it. His heart was just buried deeper than anyone else's was.
His eyes watched from the shadows of the balcony as she stepped out soundlessly to follow the sound of his voice. Her gasp of breath as she leaned out to view the garden below pleased him immensely. Somehow, he'd known that she would like it. Téa had actually been his inspiration for the garden. Two months ago, it hadn't existed. It was only another patch of grass to be watered and cut by the army of gardening personnel that cared for the lands around the Kaiba mansion. But the day he'd seen her eyes, perfect sapphires, shining in the morning sun of the classroom had been the day the idea had struck with the subtlety of a lightning bolt.
The next two weeks had been spent online and on the phone contacting various horticultural centres around the world to ship what he needed to make the idea of his garden come to life. He'd never breathed a word of it to her but he was always on the balcony, talking to her during their nightly calls, and envisioning her standing there with him or relaxing next to him, hands held loosely and fingers twined together.
Every second he'd spent working on it and every dime he'd paid for it was worth it just to see the dazzling sparkle in her eyes and the bewitching smile on her lips at his creation. His own small slice of heaven.
Besides, her eyes were even more breathtaking in moonlight.
A deeper shadow near the wall of the balcony detached itself and moved slowly towards her, drawing her out of her reverie. It had to be Seto but he was different. There was no arrogant strut to his walk. No atmosphere of hostility. Nothing. This was the real Seto Kaiba walking to where she stood. No more defences, no sharp-witted comments. No business suits or school uniform either, she noted. In fact, she'd never seen him look so casual. So normal. Loose, black jeans rode low on his lean hips and her eyes followed the line of them all the way down to his red, sock-covered toes. Her lips curved up into a small smile as her eyes travelled back up, noting the gleaming, white buttons that sadly held the silk, crimson shirt closed over what was probably the most perfect chest ever created. The top button at his throat, however, was undone and offered her a tempting peak at the soft flesh of his collarbone. The slightly parted lips and the five o'clock shadow on his chin intrigued her but it was his eyes that finally captured her complete attention. Everything finally clicked. She was on to him.
A warm breeze came up and carried her scent to him. Light and floral, not jasmine though. More like gardenia. Another perfect fragrance for her. That same breeze tossed her chocolate hair forward, shadowing her eyes from his sight. He still couldn't believe he was doing this. Taking a deep, calming breath, he eyed her for a moment as his legs carried him towards her, letting the inner chaos of his thoughts go silent. Such a change from the school uniform he usually saw her wearing. Snug blue jeans hugged her dancer's legs, emphasizing their perfection in his eyes all the way down to her sock-covered feet. The navy blue t-shirt she wore fully emphasized other perfections that had plagued his dreams on a nightly basis. One more deep breath and he finally focussed his eyes on hers, noting the incredible smile on her lips in passing. Did she understand what was about to happen? What he was about to ask her?
He finally stood before her in his red socks and the moonlight caught in his hair like fairy dust. It shone with a light of its own and her fingers itched to find out what it felt like. From where she stood, it looked like silk. Would it be just as soft? Would he let her touch it if she asked? Would she need to if they were locked in a fiery embrace? Smiling to herself, she waited a silent moment before she said anything. No need to let him know that she understood his plan. Not yet anyways. She still had to find out exactly how he was going to ask her. That was going to be the fun part.
"What was so all-fired important that you just had to bring me here to ask?" Her tone of voice was light, amused and she crossed her arms over her chest in mock annoyance.
The hopeful intensity of his gaze on her made her feel like squirming but she just smiled a little more widely. No one had ever looked at her like that before and she doubted that he'd ever looked at anyone else like that either. His nervousness was almost too adorable for words.
If she was smiling,
Then maybe she knew what he was about to say,
Just ask her already, you fool!
Her smiling lips and understanding eyes were proof positive that she'd gotten the meaning behind his choice of Inuyasha episodes but why was he still feeling such trepidation? His heart was about to burst out of his chest and the sweatiness of his palms had him in fear that they were dripping. What had ever made him want to do this in the first place? The rush of blood in his ears made it hard to think straight.
ASK HER ALREADY!
He almost winced as that last thought exploded with the force of a small atom bomb across his brain.
"C'mon Seto. Spill it. What's on your mind? You dragged me all the way over here for what? It'd better be important, too or you are so dead! I'm dying of curiosity right now," Téa exclaimed, trying to shake him back to his senses by keeping everything light and friendly.
Friendly? Yeah, right, especially after last night's especially frisky dream about him? Gimme a break!
"I hope your parents don't mind that you're over here so late," Seto started, mentally slapping himself at the inane comment. The voice in his head seemed to agree as it threw up its proverbial hands in defeat and stomped off in a huff.
"They probably would mind, if they knew. But seeing as how they're 3000 miles away in the States for the weekend, I don't think their opinion matters. And I sincerely hope that's not what you wanted to really ask me," she replied, catching the edgy wriggling of his toes in the plush carpet out of the corner of her eye. How long was it going to take him to ask her? This could be an all night task if he didn't find his courage soon. She already knew what his question was and what her answer was going to be. Why was he wasting so much time that could be spent doing other things?
Great, now what was he supposed to say? He'd just made himself sound like a complete moron. The first time he'd ever done that in front of anyone besides Mokuba. Why was he prolonging his own torture, anyways? The trademark Kaiba coolness finally broke through and his whole posture changed. Feet flat, back straight and eyes focussed. No matter what was going on inside his head, it was absolutely necessary to keep his outer appearance as cool as possible.
Téa smirked, a pretty good imitation of Kaiba's own. So, he'd finally gotten his courage back from somewhere. It was about time, too. She knew he'd finally get tired of pussyfooting around the central issue and just dive right in. He was, after all, Seto Kaiba, teenage billionaire and master of his own destiny.
"You really want to know why I needed to see you? Why I sent Roland to pick you up without even bothering to ask for permission?" Seto was proud of himself for managing to keep his voice from cracking as he registered the moonlit shine of her eyes and the teasing smile on her lips. The slim possibility of happiness rested in her response to his question. Which she was still waiting for.
Quit stalling already. Spit it out!
Everything suddenly coalesced.
In an instant, the nervous twitch of his stomach, the wiggling of his toes and the sweatiness of his palms stopped. His heart, however, skipped at few beats as he saw the knowing look in her eyes.
He took a single deep breath and reached out to grasp her hand in his own. The shock of contact startled them both. This was the first time they'd ever physically touched each other on purpose. Hell, this was the first time they'd ever spoken so openly face to face. "I don't have any flowery words or anything to couch what I'm about to say. Just know that I've never said these words to anyone else before." She stood before him with baited breath and felt his fingers tighten around hers as he drew her in closer, toes touching. A single step really but one that bridged the chasm between them. Another deep breath from both of them broke the momentary silence.
"Téa, could we ever be more than 'just friends'?" A hand raked through his hair and he felt relieved to finally utter the words that burned in his soul.
The crickets chirped in counterpoint to her beating heart as her teasing smile changed to one of joy. Relief flooded her system and all she wanted to do was jump up and down as the chorus of angels from on high sang above her. She hadn't been wrong. Not in the slightest. She should have figured it all out with that Inuyasha episode.
Impulsively, her head tilted to the side as she pushed herself up on her tiptoes to place the sweetest of kisses on his lips without their noses mashing together. She almost cried out in loss as his hand disentangled itself from hers but it was replaced a second later around her waist, splaying itself across the small of her back. His other, clever hand quickly wound its way into her hair, deepening the kiss they were sharing. Too soon for either of them, the need for a breath of air forced them apart.
"Oh, Seto, do you know how long I've wanted you to ask that question?" she whispered softly.
"Too long," he managed to growl before claiming her lips once more. Was he dreaming? Was this really happening to him? It was almost too good to be true. Seto was about to pinch himself to make sure that he was actually feeling her lips on his, again, when he felt one of her hands slide teasingly up his chest, over the side of his neck and up into his hair. A distinctive sigh of pleasure escaped her as her fingers wound themselves into his chestnut tresses. That little sigh of hers gave him the perfect opening to take the kiss one step further.
His tongue slipped inside the warmth of her mouth and slid enticingly across hers. The soft mewls of pleasure he heard only encouraged him further in his explorations. Soft fingers traced lines down his back and the hand in his hair was used to push him closer to her. Not that he was about to complain at the feeling of her ever so soft body pushed up so intimately against his. That roaming hand on his back moved lower and lower while a curious pulling sensation and the feeling of cool air had him confused. Confused at least, until he felt her warm, little hand caressing his bare skin. She was a wicked one. Whoever would have thought that sweet, innocent looking Téa could be so… so… seductively devilish? Grudgingly, they parted once again for a breath of air and a minute to calm down racing hearts. Neither of them moved apart though, preferring to simply hold each other and enjoy what was happening between them.
"You still haven't answered my question, Téa. Could we ever be more than 'just friends'?" His voice was soft and silky with only the slightest hint of teasing underpinning it. Her cheek nuzzled comfortably against his chest, feeling the warmth of his skin through the silk shirt he wore. She breathed in the heady combination of his cologne and night jasmine, which gave her a moment to think about her response. Besides, his hand was very distracting as it continued to comb through her hair.
"Seto, I think we've always been more than just friends. We just didn't realize it," Téa answered and silence descended between them at the truth of her words.
Her rumble of laughter shook him out of his thoughts a moment later and he reluctantly separated from her enough so he could look into those azure jewels and find out just what was so funny.
She peered up at him, feeling the cool air where his presence had been a second before, through her thick lashes, mirth dancing merrily across her features. The curious look she was given only redoubled her giggles.
"What is so funny that you had to ruin such a tender moment?" Seto asked, cupping her face between his hands in a vain attempt at sternness.
"Do you think Miroku will ever get this lucky?"
The wicked gleam in her eye was too much for him and his face cracked as his own grumbling laugh burst forth.
It took a few minutes for their first shared laugh to die down enough to resume kissing once more.
It wasn't the last first they would experience together that night either… ;)
Finished! Whoohoo! I hope this chapter met everyone's expectations for the ending. The suspense was so high from last chapter that I had to take a break for a day or two to calm down enough to start writing this final part.
Just a quick note to say that I will try to update "CC" before June 30th. If I don't, it will be because I'm flying home to visit the folks and there is no Internet access there. I will be working on it longhand then and will post it the minute I get home to Calgary. Probably in two weeks, assuming I don't post before then… Sorry guys. Hang in there, it's coming soon.
Thanks for the awesome reviews. Such inspiration to be found in the rewarding comments others have made.