Disclaimer: Excruciatingly not mine.
A/N: This was originally part of As Deep As the Sky, but I went far beyond the time limit. What can I say? Two and half minutes was never going to be enough time for me to write this one without hating every word I typed.
Heavily, heavily influenced by this pic -- rika-chan. deviantart. com/art/Seto-and-Kisara-colored-12540113
Someone Like Me
© Scribbler, November 2008.
Don't let your head rule you heart,
Don't let your world be torn apart,
Don't keep it all to yourself,
Just let all your emotions run free with someone like me.
That's the way it should be – someone like me.
-- From Someone Like Me by Atomic Kitten
The new girl was attractive, pleasant and utterly charming. Everybody liked her, even though she was also quiet and hid behind her hair a lot. She had a thick curtain of hair that swished audibly. The noise seemed almost louder than her tremulous, breathy voice, which emerged from her lips like a butterfly from its cocoon, always slightly stunned it had survived the journey up her throat into the open air, and so always with a note of vague surprise to it.
Seto despised her. He'd never actually spoken to her, but she epitomised one end of the spectrum of things he hated about being forced to go back to school, along with Maths teachers who has to use calculators and students who thought a deadline were the chalk you drew around a corpse.
Seto had an intellect that rivalled most university professors and had been running his own multinational company for years, but apparently, after several bad decisions about various money-spinning Duel Monsters tournaments, his shareholders refused to place any more faith in him until he'd finished a basic secondary education.
And so he found himself squeezed back into a uniform, sitting at the back of class, and going over stock market figures and international trading laws when he should have been studying the life and works of Kobayashi Issa. He hated every second and dealt with his emotions the way he always did: by freezing out the world.
When the new girl was introduced and bowed to everyone from the front of the class he didn't even look up from his figures. It was only when she was placed in the seat next to him that he spared her a glance – the only one he spared her between that moment and the one in which he decided she was yet another reason he wanted to finish high school and get away from his 'peers'.
She seemed desperate to fit in, as though in the past she'd been ostracised and wanted to never experience that kind of loneliness again. By comparison Seto actively avoided his classmates outside lessons, sealing himself up in the school library at lunch and forgoing food in an effort not to have to speak to anyone. If there existed a way of surviving on pure determination, Seto Kaiba would have been the one to find it. Mutou and his band of well-meaning idiots regularly reached out to him, but he knocked them back until it was habit to snarl the moment they approached, even when they weren't even looking in his direction.
The new girl wasn't anything like Mazaki, the token female in Mutou's group. Mazaki was opinionated and bossy, while the new girl was a natural peacemaker when she raised her voice above a whisper. Mazaki advanced on a bad situation ready to preach at it or clip it around the ear until it saw sense, but the new girl watched for an opening and then interposed herself, forcing everyone to back down because nobody wanted to be the one to hurt her. She seemed to have no self-preservation instinct, only a sickening desire to please and be liked.
Seto couldn't stand either of them – Mazaki or the new girl. He had little enough time for girls anyway, to the point where his classmates wondered whether he'd skipped puberty and gone straight for Crazy Hermit Adulthood, but these two in particular irked him. They were totally different than each other, but occupied the same portion of his mind that gave rise to labels like 'useless', 'melodramatic' and 'overemotional'. They had no place in his world and so he simply pretended they weren't there until they realised and made it a reality.
It lasted until the new girl demonstrated her lemming survivalism and found him in the library. She sat beside him at the table, even though there were dozens of other seats, and got out a book she didn't even pretend to read. Instead she watched him intently, evidently waiting for him to look up and pay attention to her.
Seto ignored her, though he could hear her breathing and strands of her hair clung to his arm with static. Her stomach growled. There was no eating allowed in the library. Still, she didn't leave. He turned page after page, reading but not absorbing a word, until finally he snapped the book shut and levelled a Class Nine Glare at her.
"What do you want?"
"Aren't you lonely?"
So she wasn't as far removed from Mazaki as he'd thought. What was it with females and this obsession with feelings? "No." He waited. "Is that all?"
"You look lonely. All the time. You look sad, too."
"Did I ask for psychoanalysis? No. Go away."
"I think I'll stay." She smoothed out one perfectly flat page.
The glare escalated to a Class Ten – high enough to barbecue saplings and roast small animals at a hundred paces. But not, apparently, enough to drive away irritating teenage girls who had mistaken him for someone with a warm heart under his icy exterior. "I think you should leave."
"That's your opinion."
"It's not an opinion. Go. Away."
She levelled her own look at him. Unlike his own, hers was placid with a hint of sadness. She had blue eyes, of a shade rather like his own, though he didn't realise it – nor would he have acknowledged it if he had. Yet where his irises were like a lock, his cold pupils the key that turned in them, hers were openly expressive. When he met her gaze he could see layers of person looking back at him with no thought of covering up what she was thinking. She really did have no self-preservation instinct at all.
Meeting her gaze made him uncomfortable. He returned to his book, unwilling to give up his place in the library just because she had invaded it. Seto had never been one to bow to the will of others. He hadn't bowed to Gozaburo's pans for him, he hadn't bowed to Isis Ishtar's stories about destiny, and he hadn't bowed to Noah's assertion that he had no place under the name 'Kaiba'. He certainly wasn't about to break the habit of a lifetime and start kowtowing with this skinny little nobody.
She kept watching him, though. Her big, sad eyes stayed fixed on his profile, until it was all he could do not to throw his book at her and stalk away like a belligerent child. His supreme self-control once again kept him in check. He turned pages with painstaking slowness.
"Have I given you some hint that I want your company? If I have, then it was an accident. I don't want to see you, hear you or speak to you. You don't interest me in the slightest. Leave now."
"You interest me," she said softly. "Very much."
"You … remind me of someone. I think. Or of a dream, maybe."
Seto rolled his eyes. That was all he needed – she was capricious as well as a lemming.
"It sounds silly, I know," she admitted, "but still … I think I'll stick around. You never have anyone around you. It's not healthy."
"I don't need anyone," he snapped.
"Everyone needs someone."
"I have all that I need, and none of it is here."
"Maybe." She toyed with the corner of her unread book. "You're Seto Kaiba, aren't you? You run Kaiba Corp."
"I'm not even going to dignify that with a response."
"You really must be lonely, with so much responsibility on your shoulders."
"You're not good at taking a hint, are you?" Even when it was studded with rusty nails and pieces of broken glass, and then thrown at her face with the force of an out-of-control bus.
She shook her head. Idiot. "Everyone needs someone," she said again, a lock of hair falling across her face. Anyone else would have called it endearing, but not Seto. He just found it as irksome as the rest of her – as irksome as her big blue eyes, her breathy voice and the unfathomable tenacity that would have her sticking to his side like glue until the end of the school year no matter what he did to get rid of her. "I'm Kisara."
He turned the page without looking at her. "I know."
I know it's hard when you're feeling down
To lift your feet up off the ground.
We make mistakes, but doesn't everybody?
You don't always have to agree with someone like me.
That's the way it should be –
Someone like me.
We know the story so far
(About what you want and who you are)
What you want and who you are
Let all your emotions run free,
You don't always have to agree with someone like me.