Rating: T for Teen! ( Yay! XD )
Setting: After book 7. That's as high as I've read. Heh…
Summary: Noriko's naturally kind, but when someone starts batting eyelashes at Izark… hell hath no fury.
Notes: Wee, sorry if the summary sucked. I'm tired. Writing is bad, overall plot lagging in plotness, Noriko and Izark are OOC, I could go on for hours! -sigh- Sazaar and Sanjula are my creations! I was saying her name, 'Sahn-you-la', though I'm sure that pronunciation is wrong. It's an Indian name… I thought it fit in well with the other names from Kanata Kara/From Far Away! Please Review!!
He watched her in the cautious sort of way, eyes flashing to her form every minute or so to make sure she was still there. She had fallen from the sky with warning from only seers, who said she would not fall again – this time back to her own world? He'd tried to push it from his mind, but it was always there, like a dripping faucet in the back of his head.
Drip, drip, drip. Noriko, Noriko, Noriko…
"What is wrong?" She would ask, her voice wavering, careful not to mispronounce her words.
Or maybe… maybe she wasn't so oblivious? When he caught her gaze, he couldn't help but think it looked guilty. Guilty in the way she frowned when she looked at him, her fingers worrying the hem of a sleeve.
"Nothing," Izark answered after a moment. He lifted his head to the wind, watching the sun sink behind the dark silhouette of trees, and did not look back at her when he spoke again. "Do you want to stop for the night?"
Somehow, he missed it when Noriko stepped closer. Her arm brushed against his, and set his skin afire. Izark grimaced, determined not to see her. It was wrong of him to be so off balance.
"We can keep walking for awhile," She paused, "I'm fine."
"There is a trading town not far, Sazaar, we can rest there."
The young woman smiled weakly, and offered him a slow nod. He's avoiding my eyes, Noriko realized. She followed him in silence, not noticing the occasional house they began to pass. Soon the earth beneath her feet became smoother, harder. She watched his back quietly, marveling quietly at the way his hair seemed almost blue in the starlight.
A voice shattered the still air. "Oh! I swear on the Awakening! -"
Noriko stiffened. They've found us!
"It's almost tragic to see a couple traveling alone so late. Are you on your way to the city?" The voice belonged to a woman; it's fluid tone sending a sharp chill down her spine. Noriko stared hard into the dark, determined to find the owner. "Oh," the voice giggled to her left, "Unless you wish to be alone together so late?"
Izark was glad the sudden blush burning his cheeks couldn't be seen in the night. He tightened his grip on the strap of the bag swung over his shoulder, and cleared his throat. He didn't sense any hostility or deceit in the air. "We have company awaiting us in Sazaar." He lied smoothly.
The voice drew closer. Noriko stepped towards Izark. "I see, then! Surely they wouldn't approve of you walking all night? The city is hours off on foot!"
"We will be fine," he answered after a short pause, watching the dull outline of the speaker continue to come closer. Something was off. What normal person would advance on two possibly dangerous strangers?
"Oh, don't be so hard-headed! There are thugs, and bandits, and oh – such awful creatures wondering around these days! I have room in my home for you for the night, I'll even be able to cook up a meal for you!"
Izark seemed caught off guard. He reached out and lightly grabbed Noriko's arm, pulling her against his side. "I-"
"Not another word! If you two keep on and someone finds you dead in the morning I'll never forgive myself!" There was a spark, the owner of the voice moved quickly, making him tense. When the soft light of a candle fell upon them, he forced himself to relax. "Hm, I could just tell from your voice you had to be dreadfully handsome!"
Noriko bit the inside of her cheek. A young woman stood before them, her dress clinging tighter than necessary to her slender form. Her hair was dark, blended with the night if not for the orange glow of the candle she held. The woman's eyes lingered for a while on Izark's face, before sweeping over Noriko with poorly concealed disdain. The girl was beautiful, and Noriko felt that fact begin to claw at her.
"I live all alone, that's my home just there," the woman nodded to a small cottage-looking thing not far off. She looked thoughtful a moment, and then smiled. The action lit her face, brilliant and impossibly genuine. Noriko felt her stomach turn. "By the way, you can call me Sanjula. Or Sanny," – here she pulled a face – "But I'd much prefer Sanjula."
Noriko glared, unconsciously tightening her grip on Izark's arm. The woman's obvious contempt for her seemed lost on him. Noriko mentally snorted. Men. The knowledge of her own world, usually tucked away in some dusty corner of her mind, resurfaced.
Maybe Izark was like the boys from her school in this way, oblivious to certain parts of girl… er… communication. Right now Sanjula was quite loud in her attempt to… woo Izark. Which, if Noriko had any say – and she had a lot of say – Sanjula would utterly fail to do. What's with this girl? She just met him!
Sanjula's smile never faded from her eyes, and she led them up a short walk to her home. Stepping inside, she left them to hover in the doorway while she bustled about lighting a few lamps. "There! Please, come right inside. And before I begin on that meal I promised, do tell me your name!"
The young sky demon seemed unnerved. He folded his arms across his chest, and turned his head. The room was surprisingly spacious, the furniture and occasional decoration placed just casual enough to be comfortable, and just precise enough to show effort had been put into the arranging. "Izark."
"Izark," She breathed, "You have a strong name, and it suits you."
"Oh, Sanny." The other girl called in a bittersweet voice, "I'm Noriko." She gestured to herself, and Sanjula nodded lightly – her eyes flashing. The woman bustled from the room.
Izark shifted uncomfortably. He'd never heard Noriko speak negatively to anyone before. It wasn't her nature, she was just… naturally kind. The notion she was jealous seemed outrageous – how could she think for even a moment he'd betray her? No… it must be something else that had her off. Does she sense something in this woman I do not?
"I'm sorry," she whispered abruptly, softly. "I spoke so rudely, and she's been… polite enough to offer us her hospitality…"
"Do you feel well?" he wondered aloud, leaving her apology hanging in the air.
"I'm fine, just…" She trailed off, the intensity of his gaze making her cheeks begin to burn. "Just…"
"Yes," He prompted calmly.
"Tired," She finished lamely. "Just tired."
Sanjula danced back into the room. At least, it was as if she were dancing. Noriko watched the girl progress in a dazed stupor. Sanjula carried herself lightly, one step sliding into the other. It was as if she were gliding towards them. "The food will be done soon," she sang softly, "I hope I don't seem rude, but why don't we get to know each other? It's not often I get visitors."
'Drag in strangers from the street more like,' Noriko muttered darkly, in her own tongue. Izark shot her a sharp look; it was dangerous for her to make herself seem even more out of place. Her accent on their language was bad enough. Sanjula, on the other hand, didn't seem to notice.
"So…" the woman began slowly, "Are you two married? Engaged…?"
Izark seemed hesitant to answer, surprised when Noriko did herself. "No."
"Oh, such a shame! You'd look great together."
Noriko worried her lower lip. Maybe I was wrong about Sanjula…
The meal was quick; a strange meat, rolls, and some leafy thing that tasted like a mix between garlic and lettuce. Noriko was reluctant in thanking the chef, adding compliments on the flavor against her better judgment as well. Sanjula smiled politely, seemingly only interested in Izark's short words of gratitude.
"I'm so glad you liked it," she purred, "Let me know if there's anything else I could do you'd like. Anything."
Noriko stiffened, eyes narrowing at the back of Sanjula's stupid, stupid pretty head. 'Why that little hussy!' She hissed to herself. Still, he'd been so distant earlier, what if he'd lied when he said he loved her? What if-
No, how can I even think that? I'm such an awful person! She scolded herself, closing her eyes.
"Now, the sleeping mats are in the corner…" The woman stood, gliding over to a small pile hidden just out of view. A soft blush tinted her cheeks. "I apologize for not having extra beds."
"It is no problem to sleep on the floor," Izark cut in.
Noriko nodded curtly. "Yes, you've allready done too much, Sanny!"
The woman laughed, the silver sound making the other girl sick. "I'm just so grateful for company, Norlo!"
"Of course!" The woman chirped.
Noriko smoldered, part of her wishing Sanjula was out to get her and Izark so Izark could pull his sword out on her. The other part was angry with herself for even thinking such ill thoughts.
Izark took the mats from her with another short thanks, rolling them out in the middle of the floor as Sanjula instructed. She blew out the lamps, and they fell into darkness.
The day dawned slowly, not fast enough at all for Noriko's liking. Politely refusing Sanjula's offer to cook them breakfast, Izark bowed in another form of gratitude. Noriko waved, muttering a dark farewell and following Izark out the door. Sanjula stood in a silent pout before her home, watching them retreat – or perhaps more accurately – watching the young sky demon.
Noriko kept at a quick pace, not daring to slow down until they'd left the clump of houses. Her feet hit the ground with soft thuds, head bent low. Izark watched her, silently dumbfounded. "What's bothering you, Noriko?"
'I was jealous of Sanjula, because she was so beautiful and was trying to take you away from me,' She confessed. 'I didn't want you to leave me. I know it was stupid to doubt you, but she really irked me…'
He frowned. "I don't understand what you're saying."
Noriko smiled up at him, feeling the sun on her shoulders. "I know."