Things Like This Happen II: Growing Attraction

"Hm…" she murmured, instinctively turning the other way so she could see him. She opened her eyes.

"Hello, sleepyhead." He greeted.

Asuka was a bit shocked to see a fully dressed Edo Phoenix sitting on a chair, looking straight back at her.

"You've been asleep all morning." He explained, "I've already went down to buy you some clothes."

Edo took the box that he had placed on the bedside table and handed it over to Asuka.

"I hope it fits your style." He added, standing up as he said this. He walked his way to the bathroom. "Tell me when you're done."

Asuka sighed. It was the morning after that night she had fatefully met Edo Phoenix down the streets of Domino. After verbally pushing him away, Asuka had stormed off, only to find herself face to face with two thuggish-looking men who planned to sexually assault her. Luckily, Edo appears and beats up the thugs to save her. The two then seek shelter at a nearby motel because of a sudden pouring of the rain.

Knowing that they could not sleep with their terribly wet clothes, the two decide to take off their clothes and sleep beside each other that night.

Although it seemed like a traumatic experience to be sexually assaulted by two crazy men, Asuka found it easy to sleep that night. Perhaps she felt safe sleeping beside the man who saved her life…

"This outfit looks great on me!" Asuka exclaimed.

Edo came out of the bathroom. Asuka looked at him, smiling.

"I can't believe you would choose the perfect outfit for me… It looks really nice."

Edo chuckled. "Well… it was probably just a fluke on my part. I'm glad you like it. So, you ready to go?"

"Yeah. Just let me finish packing my old clothes." Asuka said, placing her torn Obelisk Blue uniform inside the box that Edo used to put her new outfit.

The elevator door opened to show Edo and Asuka the lobby. They walked their way to the front desk. Edo placed his hand in his pocket then brought it out again, presenting the room key. The man on the opposite side of the counter took it from his hand.

"So, you guys enjoyed your one night stand?" he asked.

Edo and Asuka looked at each other, then back to the man.

"Er… your pillows were nice and fluffy." Asuka said, trying to change the subject.

The man's eyes widened. "You used the pillows? Oh good lord! You first timers are getting reallycreative nowadays."

"… We better go." Edo declared.

"Alright. Come again if you'd like." The man encouraged.

Edo and Asuka walked out the door.

"Do motel conceirges always assume a man and a woman checking in are there for sex?" Edo asked, "Just morbidly curious."

Asuka chuckled. "I don't know, but I'm guessing it's just that guy's thing."

Edo nudged Asuka playfully. "Wow, look at you, little miss sunshine! It's like last night didn't even happen!"

Asuka laughed again, sheepishly. "Well it doesn't hurt that I have a sugar daddy now." she pointed at the beautiful red sundress she was wearing.

Edo smiled. "I'm just glad you're back to normal, Asuka."

As they walked together in the streets of Domino, Asuka looked around and realized her hotel was in the next street. "So…" Asuka began, "Which hotel did you check-in to?"

"The Grand Hyatt," Edo replied. "What about you?"

"New Otani Hotel. I'm going to have to turn here at the next street."

"Alright," Edo said, "Let's walk over there."

"Really?" Asuka said in disbelief. She pouted at the conflict raging inside her. She wanted him to walk her there for the company, but at the same time she did not want to trouble him. "You know Edo, you don't have to do this. In fact, you didn't have to buy me a new outfit or pay a room for me. Heck, you didn't even have to save me from those people!"

Edo faced her, a bit annoyed by the fact that he wasn't appreciated. "What did you want me to do? Let those goons consummate you? Leave you out on the streets with torn clothes?"

"Well… if I were you, I would've done that." Asuka confessed. "It just feels weird… after being all snooty around you, you still found it in your heart to save me… You're such a… a..."

"-Hero?" Edo suggested.

"…Yeah, a hero…" Asuka muttered, gazing at her savior's eyes.

There was silence.

"… I needed help, and you came…" she continued, "I'm really grateful, Edo. I don't know how to repay you!"

Edo sighed. "You don't even have to think about these things, Asuka!" He said.

"But I want to!" Asuka exclaimed. "I owe you money… I owe you an outfit… I owe you my life!"

"Psh. Your life? Asuka, I just did what any other person would do. You don't owe me anything."

"I owe you everything." Asuka corrected. "And I was wrong to judge you… I feel so stupid!"

She remembered harrassing Edo in the streets last night. Today, she felt nothing but shame and foolishness. "I'm sorry," Asuka said finally, "I was wrong to think of such things about you, Edo. You're a very kind person… A lot different from the person I perceived you to be."

"So you thought I'm an arrogant, selfish, bastard." Edo concluded.

Asuka could not answer. Because it was true. It used to be true.

"It's fine," Edo said, "No need for excuses. Besides, we're friends now, right?" he asked cheerfully.

Friends… Asuka thought. For some reason, she felt saddened to hear him say that. That they were friends.

"Yeah. We're friends, Edo." Asuka agreed.

"Great. Hey, it's your hotel." He proclaimed.

"What?" Asuka exclaimed. "We're here already?" she looked and saw New Otani was indeed right before them. It was ironic; last night she wanted nothing else but be in this hotel, in her room, nice and safe. But now that she was here, she did not seem ready to get back inside.

The two looked at each other eye to eye. Time, which Asuka thought flew by so fast, began to stand still.

The sounds of busy streets and beeping cars were heard all over the place. The flapping of a dozen bird's wings echoed throughout the sky. The buzzing and laughing of the people around them seemed so distant, although near. It was clear that there was noise, but to them, everything was silent.

Everything just stopped.

"Well," Edo began, "I'll see you around."

But when will I see you again? Asuka thought. She wanted to be around Edo. She couldn't bring herself to tell him, but it was true. She knew it. And yet, all she could say was 'Yeah, see you around', a typical answer to Edo's goodbye. She didn't want it so predictable and simple. She wanted to tell him how she really felt… but how can she send that message to him without words?

The two gave each other one last look before the Edo turned his heel, about to walk away. Asuka finds herself going through an internal debate. Should she tell him? Should she not? She should… but how? How can she send that message?

"Edo…" Asuka called, holding his hand.

He looked back at her. "What?"

Asuka walked closer to him.

"What is it? Hey, what are you-"

Asuka leaned in and rewarded her hero with a soft, sweet kiss... on the cheek.

Edo stared back at her, bewildered. Asuka pulled away. They both stare at each other again.

"Bye." She said, taking a few steps back.

"Bye." He said. It was a different tone from his usual 'bye'.

He waved his hand, and so did she. The two couldn't avert their gaze from one another. Asuka opened the hotel door and proceeded inside. Still they stared at each other through the glass window.

He's so perfect… she thought, admiring her view of him.

"There you are!" a voice called.

Asuka looked around. It sounded like the voice of Mr. Shigekazu.

"Ms. Tenjoin, where have you been? You're late! The interns had a meeting this morning!" he scolded.

"I apologize, sir. I had some complications last night." Asuka explained.

Mr. Shigekazu seemed to ignore the explanation. "Come, let's not waste our time." He said.

He walked away with Asuka tailing behind him. The young duelist looked back at the glass window, hoping to see Edo still looking back at her. To her disappointment, he wasn't in sight.

She was in the kitchen, along with the other interns. The head chef explained to them what how the system worked around the kitchen, how the management handled things when there were problems, and then... something about cleanliness? She didn't hear it. She tried her best to take down notes, to get back to the present and understand what their mentor was saying, but nothing worked. Asuka's mind floated around the sky like a white, fluffy, cloud…

"Ms. Tenjoin!"

Her mentor's exclaim made her shift back to reality. "What? Oh, um… You ask the customer if his food needed salt. Right?"

The interns around her stifled their giggles. The mentor sighed. "We are talking about time management, Ms. Tenjoin."

Asuka heaved a huge sigh. She couldn't believe it. She wasn't like this before. She was never distracted, ever! Now it seemed that Edo has caught her attention somehow.

"I'm sorry. Please carry on."

After the session, Asuka proceeded to the lobby and used the elevator to go to her room. You idiot. Fess up, girl. You can do it. She was so disappointed with herself. Asuka took the keycard from her pocket and placed it in the keyhole. She then pulled it out, and turned the doorknob to open the door.

Asuka took off her shoes and dove on her bed, burying her face on a pillow. "Ugh! What's the wrong with me?" she groaned, her voice producing muffled sounds of agony. Urgh… I've got to get my mind off Edo… Asuka got up, lay down on her bed, and took the remote from her bedside table, pressing the red button that said, 'power'. The TV switched on.

Discovery Channel. The phoenix is an interesting mythical bird who uses cinnamon twigs to build its own bird's nest…

Asuka pressed the 'channel' button.

Cartoon Network. "Bubbles, what are you talking about? That's not a phoenix egg!" "It is too!" "It is not!" "Girls, stop it! Buttercup, be nice. Now Bubbles, if this really were a phoenix egg-"

Switch.

HBO. Nominated for five Academy Awards including Best Actress-Reese Witherspoon and Best Actor- Joaquin Phoenix… Walk the Line. Premieres Sunday at 9pm. Only on HBO.

Switch.

CNN. An autopsy will be performed Tuesday on a 45-year-old mother of three who died in police custody at Phoenix's Sky Harbor International Airport,the acting director of the medical examiner's office said.

Switch.

Hallmark. "Oh Edo! You've been on my mind all day. Because of you, I couldn't eat or sleep, I couldn't think of anything else but you!"

"Ugh! I've had it with this!" Asuka exclaimed, switching off the TV. She placed the remote on the bedside table and stared at the ceiling. Get a hold of yourself Asuka. Get a hold of yourself!

She let her mind wander for a moment. Asuka closed her eyes, hoping she could somehow forget about Edo and journey to a phoenix-less dream.

Asuka walked around the empty streets of Domino. "Hello?" she called out tentatively. Her voice echoed throughout the streets. There was no one else there. The skies were gloomy. The buildings were all abandoned. Domino City was a ghost town.

"Anyone here?" she called out again. Asuka looked behind her. A distant hooded figure was in sight. At first, she felt at ease with the company, but the eerie way the figure approached her triggered the funny feeling that she should stay away from this entity.

Asuka turned left on the next street. She saw the figure's shadow pursuing her. Asuka walked faster than usual, turning to every corner she saw. Still, the figure managed to follow. The thought of getting raped again suddenly got her frightened.

"Edo," she whimpered. Her breathing patterns were ragged. Asuka looked behind her. The person was gaining on her. She ran even faster.

"Edo," she said again, this time more fervent. "Help..."

Asuka caught sight of the stranger's shadow on the wall. It seemed to grow bigger as the footsteps grew louder. Asuka ran to the next alley, but it turned out to be a dead end.

"No... No!" Asuka cried, banging on the brick wall. "Not again!"

Now, the stranger's footsteps seemed to go at leisurely pace.

Asuka spun around sharply. "Who are you?" she asked, trying to conceal her fear. The hooded stranger did not answer. He just crept in on her, ever so slowly.

"Stop!" Asuka exclaimed, taking a few steps back as the stranger took a few steps forward. Asuka heard the stranger's evil laugh.

"W… what do you want from me?" Asuka exclaimed.

Again, the stranger refused to answer. He grabbed Asuka and pinned her against the wall. Asuka gasped. "W-what are you doing?"

"Taking what's rightfully mine." the stranger said.

"What are you talking about? I don't even know you! I… I didn't steal anything from you!"

"Steal?" the man repeated, "Who said anything about stealing?"

He neared his unrevealed face to Asuka's ear. "You're mine." He whispered. "I own you."

"Freak!" Asuka exclaimed, struggling. "Let go off me! Get your hands off me!"

The man planted kisses around her neck. Asuka couldn't seem to break free from his grasp. "No!" she screamed. "No! Not again… please! Stop!"

Asuka kept struggling, and finally managed to get her right hand out. She scratched her nails across her assaulter's face. The hood fell, and Asuka could not believe who the man was beneath the shadows.

"Kaiser!" Asuka exclaimed.

Kaiser had four red marks swiped across his face. But he grinned, without an ounce of pain in his expression. "Ouch. That hurt." He said, his face bleeding from the slashes Asuka gave him. "You naughty little girl."

"Why are you doing this?" Asuka asked, still surprised by her assaulter's identity.

"You're never going to get away from me again." He said. "This time, I'll be putting you in a leash if I had to!"

"Get your hands off her!"

Asuka knew that voice. Kaiser turned his head to face his enemy.

"This is none of your business, Phoenix. She's mine."

Edo arched an eyebrow. "Is that how you treat your ex-girl? Physical harassment?" he shook his head. "You never move on, do you? When I beat you, you couldn't get over that failure. Instead of just trying again, you simply hit rock bottom. If you couldn't get over one simple loss, what more if it were a relationship? Sucks to be Kaiser's girl."

Kaiser growled. He let Asuka go and faced Edo. "Are you asking for a black eye, Phoenix?"

"No. And even if I did, you'll just die trying." Edo teased.

Kaiser gritted his teeth. "You and your arrogant mouth!" he exclaimed. Cyberdark Dragon suddenly appeared behind the dark duelist, as if a result of its master's growing rage.

"You want a fight? Bring it on, Hell Kaiser!" Edo said with a smirk. His D-Hero Dogma appeared beside him.

Kaiser narrowed his eyes. "Cyberdark Dragon, attack!"

"You too, Dogma!" Edo ordered.

The two monsters clashed and fought. It wasn't long before Kaiser's Cyberdark Dragon was obliterated by Edo's Dogma. Edo ran to Asuka's side. He held her close.

"Hey, are you okay? Are you hurt?"

"Edo…" Asuka muttered. She was thankful yet again. "Edo!" she exclaimed, throwing her arms around him. Edo was initially shocked, but he later on returned the hug. Asuka leaned her head on Edo's shoulder. "You're my hero…" she said. "I know it's so cliché, but… you really are."

Asuka broke off the hug and looked at Edo. She was immediately lost in his eyes- those two pools of sapphire blue, resonating in her memory long after his gaze left her. She was drawn closer to him. She was, in a way, trapped. Trapped like the way Hell Kaiser had cornered her in the alley. Trapped in those endearing blue eyes… so hypnotic and relaxing. The mood was so perfect- she wouldn't dare to ruin it all by trying to explain herself. And yet, she didn't even need to explain herself. Edo seemed to understand. Edo knew what the confused girl was trying to tell him. He didn't listen- he didn't need to. He just knew. Edo drew closer to her too.

"Asuka," he whispered.

Asuka's eyes grew dazed. They were inches close, now. "Yes, Edo?"

She waited for Edo to say something. Except the words from Edo's mouth never came out. Instead, his right hand caressed Asuka's face gently. She smiled, a bit excited on what seemed to be happening. Edo's hand stayed on Asuka's face. He neared himself to her, his eyes slowly closing. Asuka closed her eyes, neared herself, and puckered up.

Their lips were inches close, when a startling telephone ring made Asuka's heart skip a beat. She opened her eyes. She was back in her hotel room, lying on her bed. The telephone continued ringing. Asuka growled, irritated from the fact that her technical 'first kiss' with Edo was interrupted. She answered the phone.

"Hello?"