Happy White Day, everyone! Since I couldn't get anything posted for Valentine's Day, I decided this would be a good day, since it's the partner holiday.
~ Anatomy of Affection ~
~ Anatomy of Affection ~
Yako choked as she was suddenly snagged by the back of her sweater and yanked backwards to stand directly beside her 'Assistant.' "Wha-what the heck?!" She coughed.
"What is all this about?" Neuro asked blandly, pointing to a nearby couple snuggling on a nearby bench.
"What's what about?" The girl blinked, not seeing anything particularly strange.
The demon grabbed her head and painfully turned it so that she saw every couple standing around the park. Each was wrapped around each other, either gently or tightly, but all were snuggled together in lip lock. "That," he said. "Why is everyone trying to swallow each other?"
Turning slightly, Yako gave the hell-spawn a skeptical blink at his bizarre inquiry. "You mean kissing," she said. "People are kissing."
"Kissing," Neuro repeated the word, sampling it even as he stored it away. But he did not release his hold upon the girl's head as he forced her to look up at him. "For what purpose?"
Yako looked at him flatly. "For what…? They're kissing," she said, as the word alone should have explained everything. It was White Day, so plenty of women were thanking their boyfriends and such for their gifts. But Neuro's grip on her head only tightened and he twisted her neck to the point it popped painfully before letting her drop to the ground.
"You have stated this, but what is the reason for it?" He repeated, his annoyance at her stupid evasion toward answering clearly showing in his tone.
Rubbing her sore neck, the young woman sat up to meet his darkening green gaze before she realized that he was serious. "You mean you… You really have no idea?" She asked, astonished.
Gripping her small head in his larger hand, Neuro shook his slave so violently he could almost hear her insect-sized brain rattle within the caverns of her skull. The high risk of her neck snapping came as the obvious answer that if he had any clue, he would not be asking her to explain.
"Okay! Okay! Okay!" Yako grabbed his arm in an attempt to halt his actions. "OKAY! STOP ALREADY!"
He at last relented and held her still, allowing her a chance to gather her thoughts to answer his inquiry.
"Kissing is…it's…well…" She stopped, realizing she knew no real way to define or explain the simple act.
Neuro's grip on her cranium tightened. "I'm waiting, bread-crust."
"Owowowowow! It's just a show of affection!" The girl finally blurted.
Neuro stared blankly, raising her to be eye level with him. "Affection?"
"I guess…it's a way of showing…that you care? Maybe?"
The demon quirked an eyebrow, clearly still not understanding. "But what does it do?"
Scratching her temple thoughtfully, Yako shrugged. "I've only ever kissed my parents before, so…"
"You kiss your mother like that?" Neuro motioned toward a couple seeming to crush each other as they stood kissing each other eagerly behind a nearby tree.
"No! Not like that!" The girl exclaimed. "There are lots of different ways you kiss someone."
Green eyes met her caramel-colored ones again. "Such as?"
"Like, people sometimes kiss children on the cheek or forehead to show affection or comfort them. That sort of thing. And…there's kissing someone good-bye or hello. Then there's…that." She pointed to one of the couple behind the tree.
Man, this is awkward… Yako never realized how difficult it was to explain something that was common knowledge to everyone on Earth until the one person who wasn't native to it asked. "That's basically all there is to it, I guess…"
Neuro at last relinquished his grip on her head as he seemed to think about this.
"Anyway, I have a test is Math class tomorrow," Yako said, gladly changing the subject. "Since you haven't picked up any Puzzles, I figure I'll just go home and—"
Turning to look at her boss, Yako had not been expecting to find Neuro's lips upon her own. It was really nothing more than the pressure of his lips on hers for only a few seconds, but there they were, all the same.
Her first kiss.
The demon 'foreigner' pulled back and observed the wide-eyed shock upon his servant's face as she stood frozen. While her expression was oddly pleasing, he was perplexed and disappointed at the lack of…whatever it was one should get from such things. It was one thing to show how one feels, but surely it had to do something if so many people were doing it. Really, it made no sense otherwise.
"Hm. Nothing of particular consequence."
Neuro's muttered words seemed to snap the girl out of her stupor. Her face was already flushed with embarrassment, but as righteous indignation began to burn her glow shifted to maidenly fury. Her first kiss, stolen by her demonic cohort…and he didn't even value it!
Her blood burning hot, not caring of the ill-fated consequences that were sure to follow, Yako hurled her school bag with every ounce of strength she had. The small part of her brain that wasn't drowned out by anger was vaguely surprised that her cheap school bag actually nailed Neuro right in the face, but she couldn't revel in the surprised expression on the blue-clad demon's face as the bag fell to the ground. She was still furious, and wouldn't let fear or satisfaction overthrow it.
"You! You…butt-face!" She exclaimed, drawing more than one gaze. "You creep! I hate you!"
Neuro found he could only stare in stunned confusion as Yako turned and stormed away down the sidewalk. He honestly had no clue what the louse was so upset about. It had to be another one of those 'human feelings' that caused so much trouble. Admittedly, the native of Hell had experienced a few since coming to the human world, but he couldn't say they were nearly as sporadic as Yako's seemed to be. 'Female hormones' he believed was the term so widely used.
All the same, the slave had dared to strike her master. The fact it had not hurt in the slightest was beside the issue. Punishment was necessary. Picking up the offending bag off the ground, a grin plastered to his face, Neuro carried it back to the office.
Yako slammed the front door behind her as she entered her home, and ripped off her shoes before tearing down the hall. She barely missed her mother as she headed for the stairs.
"W-welcome home, Yako," Haruka stammered.
"He's awful!" The girl exclaimed over her shoulder as she climbed the stairs. "He's a complete and total snake! How could he do that?! He didn't even care that he stole it from me! My first one! I hope he chokes on the next newspaper he reads!"
The sound of her bedroom door slamming shut ended Yako's tirade.
The dark-haired woman stood at the bottom of the stairs, carefully processing what her beloved daughter had shot out. When she was done thinking, Haruka couldn't help smiling at the girl's distress.
After hastily changing out of her school uniform, Yako quickly went to the bathroom and brushed her teeth. It wasn't really necessary, as Neuro had not actually penetrated her lips, but her in her fury it was all she could think to do. Spitting the minty foam out into the sink, she then gargled a few times before being satisfied enough to leave the bathroom.
Her nose was greeted by the sweet and spicy smell of Chinese food and was instantly downstairs to find her mom setting the table, while the counter was covered by various sized white boxes.
Haruka smiled at her daughter's expression. "Yako, since Miwako-san has the day off, I ordered some take out," her mother said. "How does Wu Fei's Mei Ling sound for dinner?"
"Great!" The young woman smiled, and the two were soon sitting down.
"So, how was your day?" Her mother asked as she served herself a bowl of rice and noodles.
"It was…okay," Yako replied carefully as she grabbed a box of sweet and sour chicken and proceeded to devour it. "How was work? Anything special going on?"
"Oh, just the usual," Haruka waved it away. "Everything going okay at school? You've been able to keep up with everything?"
"Yeah, I guess I'm doing okay."
Haruka carefully observed her daughter's expression before speaking further. "So…whoever it was, kissed you after school?"
Yako hit the table with her fist. "It wasn't a real kiss! It was a steal! And he just—"
She stopped upon noticing the wide grin upon her mother's face and looked down at the table. "What made you think something like that?"
The woman smiled broadly. "Well, the 'snake' and 'first one' that you shouted earlier were pretty clear signs of a stolen kiss. Either that…or you slept with someone." She leaned forward. "You haven't, have you?"
Yako shook her head violently, trying to hide her blush. "You were right the first time!"
Haruka shrugged. "Well, if it had gone that far—"
"It hasn't! It won't!" The girl exclaimed, blushing hot red.
"Okay, okay," the magazine editor said calmly. "Do you want to talk about what did happen?"
Yako took another bite as she thought about confiding in her mother. It would be nice to talk to someone, but it wouldn't be particularly easy.
Seeing that her daughter was caught up in her own thoughts, Haruka decided a change in tactics. "Well, I guess I really figured out what was wrong because your outburst was pretty similar to mine."
At this, Yako looked up. "What?"
"Yup, someone stole your Mama's first kiss, too," the woman smiled broadly.
"Was it Dad?" She asked, honestly interested.
Yako was surprised when her mom shook her head. "No, it was actually a friend of his," she laughed. "I remember…it was Festival time at school. Your father and his friend were in a different class than mine, I didn't even know them back then. But we got caught up in how crowded the hall was and… Well, your dad's friend and I were squished against the wall and he ended up kissing me." The sweet glow upon Haruka's face belied the evil of her next words, "I hit him a few times and tried to throw him out the window, but your father and the rest of his friends managed to stop me."
Yako couldn't help the small twitch. It hadn't been so much of a steal as it was an accident on both sides. Plus her mom had been unfair and violent about the whole thing.
"Your father came by my classroom later to talk to me," her mother went on. "I didn't really want to listen to him, but he still managed somehow to admonish me and make me feel bad."
Yako could remember; her dad was always sweet and gentle, but no one could make it through to people like he could. No matter what he was trying to say, he could always make someone see what he meant.
"After that, we started seeing each other," Haruka went on wistfully. "Your Daddy may not have gotten my first kiss, but he certainly owned every one after that."
"That's nice," Yako sighed heavily. "Certainly better than me, I'm sure."
"Oh?" Her mother sat up, interest sparkling in her eyes like a cat. "Tell me about it."
The teenager glared at the wall to her left. "He… We were walking through the park and…a lot of people were kissing. He didn't really understand why everyone was kissing, or why people kiss at all," she said.
"He didn't understand kissing?" Haruka blinked. "That's a little strange…"
"Totally! He had no idea why people kissed!" Yako said, hotly. "So he expects me to explain it, and after I say what I can, he kisses me! He didn't even apologize for it! He acted like it was no big deal!"
"Any tongue action?"
The girl's face burned hot red at her mother's words. "NO!"
"Just asking," her mother said quickly. "And…he didn't push the issue?"
"Even after he kissed, he still didn't seem to get it," Yako said. "But I…I got angry and left."
Haruka nodded, remaining silent as she seemed to analyze something. When she seemed to reach some sort of conclusion, she smiled. "It seems to me, this boy isn't used to kissing, even among close relations. It's probably completely unfamiliar to him, though I'm not sure how…"
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you said he asked you to explain it, because he didn't know why people kiss, right?" Yako nodded to her mother's inquiry. "If he's never seen people doing it before, and needed someone to give an explanation, it's not likely he would know what it would mean to a girl to have her first kiss stolen. I wonder…if that was his first kiss, too."
Yako blinked, not really sure what to say about this. "But… That's…"
"I seriously wonder where this kid comes from that he never saw someone kissing…"
When dinner was finished, Yako found herself sitting on her bed, deeply considering what her mother had said. Neuro's first kiss? Was it possible? The demon was always so suave and sophisticated, she had never really thought about it before.
Now that she actually stopped to mull over it, she reminded herself that Neuro's real form was a bizarre parody of a bird; he didn't actually have any lips. He had told her about plenty of wacky things in Hell, and she could remember that weird 'Dating Game' he had set up in the office that one time. She supposed any gentle shows of affection—especially kissing—were way out there in left field to him.
"Wow." She felt a little bad about her outburst, but not bad enough to quench her rage completely. Even if he didn't know anything about it, a maiden's lips were not for stealing, and she would not forgive him. Besides, he wouldn't bother asking for her forgiveness. "God, I hate him."
The sudden ringing of Yako's cell phone caught her attention and she stretched across the bed to grab her school bag off the floor and pull out her phone.
"Yo, Yako!" Kanae was at the other end. "What's up? I've been ringing you for hours!"
"You have? I didn't—" Yako stopped. She didn't bring her school bag home with her today. She wouldn't have heard her cell ringing. But she heard it this time, because her bag was suddenly at home. In her room.
Tilting her head back, the teenager met the green gaze of the grinning demon plastered to her ceiling.
"Kanae, can I call you back? I'm…caught up in the middle of something right now…"
Her friend gave an exasperated sigh. "Alright, but be sure to get back to me!"
"I will. Bye."
Neuro dropped down from the ceiling as Yako hung up. "A pleasant evening, isn't it, wood louse?"
"Not particularly," Yako answered truthfully.
"Oh? Is it stress?" The demon inquired in fake sweetness. "I thought you might be worried without your school books. If I recall, you have a test in Math tomorrow."
'Yeah. Okay, he did something.' Reluctantly, Yako drew the book out and opened it. Every page was littered with scribbles of various monsters as well as obscene words in more than one language. What's more, every Math problem and solution had somehow been scrambled about the page; anything she was actually able to read made absolutely no sense.
"I released 'Evil Book Worm' into your bag," Neuro smiled brightly as he sat on the open sill of the Yako's bedroom window. "Sadly, it didn't seem to take to Mathematics and just kept spitting it back out on to the page."
"Dazzling, Neuro," Yako sighed as she returned the ruined book to her bag. She was sure the rest of her books were in similar condition, but didn't feel like dealing with it.
"On to more important matters, I caught the air of a Puzzle," Neuro's black bangs twitched in emphasis to his words. "But it shouldn't be ready until tomorrow afternoon. You'll have to cut lunch and afternoon classes for us to make it in time."
"But tomorrow they're serving—" Yako cut herself off as the demon gave her 'the look.'
There was no particular way to describe this expression—it was like a smile, but was so much stranger—in spite of the millions of times Yako had seen it upon Neuro's face. But 'the look' was always a clear sign that she would not be allowed any room to argue or object—she either did as he directed her or be punished.
"Geez!" She turned away, exasperated, and thus declared him the winner of their small dispute. "With that kind of mind-set, it's no wonder you've never been kissed," she muttered.
"About that, I still don't get what all the fuss is about," Neuro said, either not noticing Yako's twitch or simply ignoring it. "Everywhere, humans are always doing it. But there wasn't anything special about it when I kissed you. Maybe it's you. I bet—"
Neuro saw the alarm clock coming and managed to catch it before it impacted with his head. But he was mildly surprised by the various books, clothes and even the desk chair that came flying at him. Hopping out the window to avoid further projectiles, the demon landed gracefully on the ground below—right beside several blocks that were originally supposed to be a cake—and looked back up at the window in time to dodge a magazine.
"You…you…YOU THUG! SCUM OF THE EARTH! ENEMY OF ALL WOMEN!" Yako screamed out her window, attracting some attention from the neighbors who looked out to see what the fuss was about. "There is no small thing wrong with you, do you hear me?! I hope you die of Cholera, you sleaze!"
And with that, she slammed her window shut and closed the curtains.
Neuro was willing to admit he was vaguely surprised. He could terrify, confuse, exasperate and generally upset Yako, but this was the first time he had seen her display such raw fury. And again, it had been about the whole 'kissing' thing.
Still holding her alarm clock, Neuro allowed himself a smile. "I will have to cleverly modify the alarm to bite her rather than emit an irritating shrill each morning."
"Oh, it's you, Neuro-kun!"
Quickly pulling up his more human expression, Neuro turned to face the widow on his right and met the smiling face of Yako's mother. He had landed just outside the woman's studio. "Good evening, Madam."
"A little late to be paying a visit, don't you think?" Haruka smiled, leaning against the window frame.
"Oh, I had to discuss something with Sensei," he said, casting a rueful glance up toward Yako's window. "But she seems to be in a poor mood tonight."
Haruka's smiled broadened as she cocked one eyebrow. "Well, she'll probably be a little upset for a while. After you stole her first kiss and all."
Neuro blinked and the woman chuckled at his expression.
"I thought it might be you, but I wasn't completely sure until you showed up," Haruka went on. "Anyway, I wouldn't worry too much. She'll cool off her melon and things will settle down again."
"I take it this is normal for a…'first kiss'?" Neuro asked, trying to look contrite. "I'm…a little unaccustomed to things like this."
"Don't let it get you down," Haruka waved her hand. "She's no more used to it than you, I'm sure. And if you try hard enough, I'm sure she won't mind kissing you again." She reached out and patted his shoulder with a bright smile. "But if you force her into any situation that compromises her chastity without her consent, I'll break your legs."
Still bearing a sunny expression, Haruka bid Neuro a good night and closed the window and the curtains.
Assaulted by his servant and then threatened by her mother. Ridiculous as both situations had been, it had been an interesting turn of events, to say the least. And all because of a small 'kiss.'
Bewildered but also strangely amused, Neuro headed back to the office—still carrying Yako's alarm clock—and decided that he just might get to like this whole 'kissing' thing if it caused this much fun.