Lament of Kronos And Lachesis
The measure of a man is what he does with power. – Plato
They ate with a side helping of small talk and managed not to disappoint each other. Seto found he didn't have to force himself to ignore her, she would ask him casual things and mentioned that if he wanted to do laundry he can use her roof whenever—or if he was locked out of his apartment, her spare key was wedged in a crack on the right wall of her nursery that was hidden by a gray flowerpot. Overall, she wasn't annoying and her food tasted great. He reasoned his taste buds rarely occasioned on homemade dinner why they appreciated it and absorbed some of her habits, as he was prone to whenever he spend more than a few hours with a person. Yume was right-handed; she loved the vegetables in the soup; she never complained and didn't smile overly. When she was serious, she avoided his eyes but he assumed it was out of shyness—or maybe that was he mentally gloating about being the only man for whom she cooked.
"I don't mean to brag," Yume began, "But I am a wonderful cook, my pasta is the best. I made some for my boss and he usually hates homemade dinner. It was nice surprise to know he liked it," She beamed, her shoulders squared and lips forming a flawless smile, "My boss is a workaholic so he always orders out. I suggested a few times to have a cooking staff at work, because he is very moody and his health is not the best, no one wants to cook for him anymore."
So he wasn't the only one then. His eyes narrowed under the shadow of the baseball hat, almost looking black in the kitchen light. The living room was devoid of candles unlike last time he visited. Large bodies of cushions and shawls occupied her couch; there were stacks of books on both of the tables beside the couch. His searching eyes also noticed the T.V was plugged out. He never knew anyone who didn't watch T.V. Curious he eyed the various furniture's without making it blatant. Yet she had keen eyes and smirked at her plate. Seto's eyes flew at her knowing smirk, slowly Yume looked up, her brows inclined as well as the corners of her lips. In the light she had tanned skin and her brown eyes were dark from shadows, still warm and amused.
"Would you like more?" She took the soup bowl and readied to pour in his. He pushed a hand up in decline.
Dinner was dealt with and Yume suggested they check on the clothes, they were still wet.
"I can turn them to you when they are dry," Yume said at his frown. "Unless you want … to stay over longer? I don't mind, it's not very late," She checked her watch quickly.
He didn't say much and descended the roof; Seto entered her apartment with her trailing him silently. He stopped at the door with a glance over his shoulder, expecting her to return his clothes like she said. Yume nodded immediately. Seto walked out and closed the door, he returned to his apartment door, juggled his keys and was about to walk inside.
Yume flung open her door, coming toward him. Startled, he stopped and eyed her.
"This is kind of stupid…" She mumbled, "But can I know your name? I'm—"
"Natsumi." The name was squeezed lifelessly through clenched teeth.
She didn't lower her offering hand, her polite smile unfaltering, "Yume." She insisted.
'Dream'? "I'm just a neighbor." He whispered, leaving her hand untouched and closed the door once he entered his cold apartment.
Yume frowned at the door, flinching at the sound of the lock securing from inside. I guess that leaves me with the option of calling him any names I want. Suddenly, she wasn't upset, instead, smiled with a shake of her head and went back to her apartment.
The following morning Yume did not have class. Stuffing her books in her book bag, she went to her office, ran into Mokuba who was hopelessly teasing Kei. Grabbing the back of his shirt, she flung him away and back to his office.
"Work." Yume eyed him.
He glared, "You're ruining my style woman!"
"I don't care about your style, now go and work," She insisted gently.
Magenta eyes narrowed, "Where you going?"
"It's my day off," Head held high, she went to the door, stepping out, "I intend to catch up on my school work,"
Mokuba scoffed irritably, "What's the matter? Is he going easy on you or something? You're smiling."
"I'm trying to enjoy my day." She replied with a cautious scrutiny of his smirking face, "Oh shut up!"
"I didn't say anything." Mokuba shrugged innocently, dumping in the chair behind his desk. "I was thinking you look a lot better than you regularly do."
"Fine, I'll take the compliment but don't bother Kei. Office rules apply on you too."
"I thought you were here to bail me out." Reclining in the chair, he grinned.
Her eyes flashed, Yume removed her hand from the door lock. "Don't get too attached, Mokuba. I'm looking out for you. You can make things a lot easier around here by doing the same."
Sitting his elbows on the desk, a hand roofed his moving mouth, "Reminds me…" He murmured with distinct concern she wasn't accustomed to hearing. "Did you see Noah again?"
She didn't know he would bring his stepbrother in the conversation, unprepared, her shock displayed and Yume touched her once bruised cheek. "No…" She managed to stutter. "I haven't. That's good right?"
Mokuba watched her intently, wordless.
She removed her hand from her cheek, debating loudly, "Even if I see him, I'll avoid him."
"And the next time he corners you and abuses you?"
Yume looked him over in annoyance. "Won't happen."
"Hey…" Mokuba raised his arms submissively, "Just sayin…"
"Well, don't. I'll think of something when the time comes, ok?" It was said as an order that needed to be obeyed; even her voice held a stern note that sent shivers over his body. She didn't want uproar between him and Noah, especially regarding her, that would bring unnecessary attention on her, and Mokuba. Yume was protecting him, like she promised.
"About your day off," He considered, "What's the occasion?"
"No occasion." She moved to close the door. "Don't go crazy eh, bye." She was not about to elucidate her recent assignment on searching for his brother in Domino. Now that she had a picture of him, she hoped it would significantly help track him down within a few days or weeks, at the latest.
It rained while she visited the office and when she ventured out, the cold water tickled down the back of her sweater and shoulders, dripping from buildings and moving vehicles. Unfortunately, she hadn't brought her umbrella. Decidedly making her way to a short-cut, Yume crossed the street, made 3 swift turns, brushing, bumping shoulders of pedestrians absently, and each time a tall man appeared her searching eyes passed over him with more than concern and curiosity. She was deciphering a puzzle, and though she didn't care for the tall, dark mysterious crap labeled for men, her restless scanning eyes always found themselves locked on each tall moving figure in the street, thinking about… Her neighbor. She was reminded of him suddenly in the strangest of ways.
The stiffness of his shoulders, secret searching blue eyes, the hollowness in his voice, colder than a decrepit house in the middle of winter. That darn baseball cap that always wore him. He was always guarded around her it was tough to have any form of reciprocation, whether a harmless question, a polite suggestion, or simply a casual observation he turned rigid the next moment, eager to disappear behind the door of his apartment. Yume wasn't sure how she could possibly crack his exterior and make him more comfortable yet she had an inkling if she made herself speak to him everyday, gradually his cautioned demeanor would be replaced by a friendly, social one—a side she was eager and surprised that she wanted to see.
She stopped abruptly in a residential area, noticing she had drifted from the city streets. The gray sky continued dripping with lazy cool raindrops. She resumed on the moist sidewalk, her shoes squeaking on the water. A vibrating rusting noise echoed ahead, looking up, she stopped at the sight of a tall man, reading his mail at his front yard. He seemed to notice her eyes and turned, exactly in her direction. "Hm?"
Gasping, she stepped back, surprised. "Yo-you!" It was the second time they met coincidentally, in reality, a lot more than 2 times but she refused to account the first horrible disaster of smashing her coffee on his beautifully white tailored suit. Even then he was not angry, nor was he the second time, but the third time they were able to sit and talk, about anything either wanted, and it was very mutual, no judgments were passed, both searching for advise. She wondered if that was the reason why she was led to the neighborhood.
Green, gold eyes scrutinized longer than usual, obviously in the same state of surprise as her. He was not rude to turn away and pretend she wasn't standing within perimeters of his home. Smiling to himself, Dartz moved away from the front yard, toward the gates.
"Coffee girl." He noted.
She smiled, glancing at her hand and back at him, her eyes light and warm, "I thought we decided on Klutz."
"I remember," Dartz smirked thoughtfully. "What are you doing in this part of the neighborhood?"
Yume looked around the streets and comfortable looking homes, smiling. "Guess…I have yet to find out."
He noticed she was carrying her book bag, leaning over the black gate, Dartz said, "Another reading catastrophe?"
She scratched her ear. "Kind of… I was going to find somewhere quiet."
"Have you decided where?" He murmured, unlocking the gate. His slacks, dark jacket and pea coat were exchanged for a pair of casual dark jeans and t-shirt. The ripple of cotton stretching across his arms and chest revealed knots of muscle as he pushed his hand filled of mail over the unlocked door. Dartz's scanning green-gold eyes paused on Yume for a moment, an elusive smirk caught on his lips. Truthfully he couldn't believe his luck seeing her in front of his house despite not knowing his address. Maybe it was a thing he'd have to get used to but he liked meeting Yume at random places in Domino. At the airport, coffee shop, on the street, in front of his home…
"Not yet." Yume replied, starting to walk away, "It was nice see—"
"I know the ideal place if you don't mind me sharing…" Dartz murmured, prompting her to stop. He studied her enthusiastically.
She blushed stark at the gravity of his gaze and dropped her eyes on the floor, shyly. "Uh…um…"
"It's where I go so I know it's safe, no one will bother you."
She automatically looked up, curious. "Really?"
Dartz smirked, pointing over his shoulder at his abode. "Right here."
Yume's lip curled skeptically at his house and on him, wide-eyed. "Uh… I'm sorry I don't want to intrude,"
"You are not." He fished open the door, stepping on the sideway to gesture gracefully toward his home. "My library is one of a kind. You can research and study to your hearts content, I have no problem. I'm prone to staying in there almost every day if I need to focus on work, and I don't mind sharing."
"But I…" Yume shook her head, "Thank you but I can't just go in your house and…"
"And, and study. I'll go somewhere else. Thank you though." She whispered, turning away.
Dartz sighed with amused eyes, "Suit yourself. I have an enormous collection on deities and historically dated landscapes, my most prized one I wanted to show you, The Lost Atlantis, have you heard of it?"
Lost Atlantis? Her feet defied movement and stayed glued to the pavement. Yume glanced over her shoulder slowly. "L-lost Atlan-Atlantis?" Her mind whirled and heart pounced, "You have a collection on The Lost Atlantis?" She breathed, straying toward Dartz in a daze.
"Hm." He nodded.
7 years. Her clouded eyes swooped from the ceiling and floated to the shape lying next to her, asleep.
Has it really been 7 years? Kei studied Noah's disheveled hair and closed eyelids. His mouth remained in place and his soft breathing was the single indication that he was real. Softly, she touched his right cheek, setting her whole palm on the curve of his jaw and chin, he was still dreaming.
"Do you know," She whispered, "How I cried when you left? I thought I'd never see you again." Though she worked for Gozaburo for the mere reason of coming upon Noah someday. She hadn't expected their meeting to be one made of jealousy, fury and resentment for his father. Noah wanted to win and she wanted him. Kei pulled away with a deadly shiver. She knew he wanted nothing more than news of what his father schemed behind his back, implementing Yume to kick him out in the process.
A heartless chortle escaped from her throat, she turned on her back, her arm slapping the sheets between them and glared at the ceiling. She was a fool. How many deaths would she die to save him? Slowly, Kei studied his sleeping face, her eyes solemn. The answer scared her.
Noah shifted, pulling away and turned on his back, face averted. The sheet suddenly lowered from his chest and abdomen, settling daringly on his hips and legs. Her eyes closed and blinked once.
"Talk to her."
Kei raptly turned to him. "Huh? I thought you were sleeping!"
The corners of his mouth lifted but his eyes stayed shut. "Talk to Yume, get details from her. I want that bitch gone in the next 2 weeks. She can't take my place."
She folded her arms and curled on her side. Yume…
Kei clutched the sheet between her knuckles. She was someone, who would rather watch instead of help. Someone, who restrained because of the person she loved, told her to. Someone, who dare not dream of confrontation. I'll die as much as he wants. I'll do this for him, nothing else.
Dartz couldn't hold his surprise at Yume's enthusiasm. She was smiling brilliantly, captivated by his collection of 'The Lost Atlantis', all of the edition in the library were updated yet religiously maintained, thus, he was able to provide them for her when she asked. He hovered the counter in the kitchen smiling at the coffee he was brewed as Yume sat on the counter stool, chattering excitedly.
"I've been looking for this! You have no idea how happy I am!" Yume squealed. Her eyes squinted and her cheeks flushed, "Thank yoouuu!"
Dartz chuckled, "You are welcome to borrow them if you wish."
"Yes, please!" She said breathlessly. "You," Yume pointed, "Are awesome. These editions can't be found in public libraries, I've heard of them but they are private owned, museums are allowed to loan them for a certain period. How did you—" Her eyes squinted in confusion at him.
"Private owned," Dartz speculated, "Something according to that. I agree you can never find these outdated texts in public. It is sporadic they appear in museums as of late. Seven editions are overseas, several contemporary translations are circulating around, I don't remember which ones but I've kept the ones I prefer here, with myself." Dartz looked up and smiled.
She stared at him with awe and admiration. "How long have you been a fan?"
"All my life," He put away the coffee pot and fixed her cup. "Cappuccino for the Klutz." He offered her coffee before taking his. "Latte for me."
"Thank you very much." Yume clasped the warm cup with delight. "Warm coffee, esoteric journals and great company—It's a good day, absolutely. I can't thank you enough." She hummed.
"You may feel free to come at your convenience to read the journals." He sat across the counter.
In shock, she sat the coffee firmly on the counter. "But I can't," Sturdily, Yume peered at his exotically divine home that devalued the size and appeal of her shabby, old-fashioned apartment. "I can't come on a whim and do that to you, I don't want to be rude, it was rude of me today too but I wanted to see if your collection was real."
"Have you validated enough?" Dartz smirked handsomely over his steaming cup.
She avoided his gaze with a shy smile. "Yes, indeed they are real."
"I don't mind," Dartz blinked, "Personally, I'd rather share them with someone who has an intellectual perspective and interest in the topic, I don't intend to maintain the articles and findings as ornaments. The bought them with the idea that I may be able to share it with others, and yes, it is selfish of me to keep it here instead of loaning it to museums but it's valuable to me nonetheless. I'm pleased to have someone who has as much vigor in the topic than me, or else it'll get mundane… and," Stray silvery-blue locks shadowed the heterochormic eyes, the corners of his thin lips elevated along with his shoulders, "Well, you get the point."
"Actually…" Yume sampled her warm coffee before continuing softly. "I have the same problem. I don't get to share my enthusiasm and theories with others. This is great!" She grinned, "We can exchange notes."
Dartz stared at her dainty pale hands at the edge of the counter. "Do you mind if I ask a personal question?"
Brown eyes widened amusedly as she shrugged, "No, go ahead."
"Are you seeing anyone?" He looked up directly at her starry hues. "At the moment? Or the immediate future?"
Seeing anyone? Her lips felt glued against her teeth, blinking from her reverie, Yume ducked her head and slid her hand through her locks. "Uh…um… Nn-no." Yume stared intently at her coffee. He is very straightforward. I kind of… Like that. Keeping her smile to herself, with a flushed face, she stared up at Dartz's unfaltering gaze. "No, I'm not seeing anyone."
"Oh." Casually, he poured more coffee in his cup, "I was curious."
"Uh..heh…" Yume restrained from frowning at the casual answer that spilled fluidly as if he didn't care.
From the corner of his eye, Dartz caught the fleeting disappointment channel her usual serene face. "How is your studying going by the way?" He resumed the normal pace of the conversation.
"Uh—grreat!" Yume enforced. "Just great, I wanted to get more reading and work done." Speaking of studying, she reached for her study items.
Dartz paused, "If you need more room, you can retreat into the library, I promise not to disturb you." He offered gallantly.
"Nn-no!" Yume shook her head hastily, "I'm ok, really…" Staring into his pale eyes, she felt her stomach bolt to her throat and in the soles of her feet. Uneasily, she dipped her head to the books in her arms. What is wrong with me? Yume reprimanded. He is a nice person, there's nothing else to expect. Though forcing the thoughts wasn't ensuring, Yume dug her nails on the edges of her books, peeved by her stubborn emotion of despair. I wasn't rejected. Yume bit her lip quickly.
"I propose that you study in the library than the kitchen," Dartz reasoned, unaware of her troubles. "There are more research on Atlantis complied and at your vicinity if you prefer." He added with a euphoric grin, somehow expertly learning the technique to reel her interest.
"If you…think so?" Yume tried, "Thank you, Dartz."
He scratched the corner of his jaw thoughtfully. "Yes, I don't mind," Guiding her out of her kitchen toward the library, he steadily listened to the soft glide of her footsteps upon the wooden floor. Her lively scent permeated the hall, making him wholesomely conscious of her presence in his empty and forlorn home. Iona's scent was gritty, and insipid. Yume's scent breathed warmth, vivacity, and a kind of youthfulness he hadn't realized he missed and wanted to link with once again. Opening the double oaks doors to the library, Dartz turned the lights for her to see as she followed in the hallow corridor.
She seemed mesmerized by the isles, walls, and galaxies of bookshelves. Loving her reaction, Dartz resumed toward a rectangle desk by the large window. He turned on the desk light and gestured her toward the cushioned chair.
"Here, you can get all your studying done, and no one will bother you." He smiled gently.
Setting her items on the table, Yume helped herself on the chair. "Thank you, again." She sheepishly lowered her head. "I'll take advantage of the resources and get a lot done."
Dartz provided her the space she needed, like he promised. Yume hung onto her books and looked up hopelessly at the closed doors after his departure. A hand curled behind her ear, sighing, she returned to her texts. He is just a good person. Her lips dropped into a pout. It's only me who dreams this lonesome dream.
The dry clothes were neatly folded in the hamper at his front door. Mildly surprised by her diligence, Seto reclaimed his possessions, incompliant and feeling light-hearted than a moment ago. Usually she left notes or small trinkets but as of late, he realized she had stopped the treatment. Seto adjusted the lock and stared at the door emptily. His neighbor on the deserted 3rd floor was a young woman by the name of Yume Natsumi, a college student, undetermined profession, but naturally tender and caring of others. It was almost unfortunate and disbelieving he had found her unconscious on the stairs the first time they met. Although, she was not aware of the details of the incident, he acquired ill notions and instinct about her welfare. She was not the strongest of beings, and though youthful, she happened to break plenty of dishware.
The reckless habit with materials was not assuring.
A raging slam along the hall outside echoed, calling his attention, bringing him against the door to peek through the spyglass. He had expected spies to arrive but not so soon, and he had avoiding appearing in public for the meantime to acquire more time. While Mokuba was chained to Gozaburo, he couldn't possibly get caught and dragged back to K.C Headquarters. Her slender figure wandered past his door, she halted aimlessly and leaned against the wall, groaning and slapped her forehead. Sure, he had no reason to be concerned but noticing the slight ruby gash on her elbow, he allowed himself reason and the patience to tolerate the forthcoming moments in her company. Forgetting himself and his secretive way of life for a moment, Seto unlocked the door and strode out.
She was gazing at the floor in deep thought, the red hand shadowing her eyes.
Seto paused inertly and checked the stairs. Her bag slouched against her thigh while a strap lay carelessly on the floor. "Natsumi." He slurred peevishly.
The hand on her forehead flopped against her ribcage. Drained to the soul, empty brown eyes stared at the striking man in the dim hallway between their apartments. Cheerfulness was replaced by a remorseful and despairing expression, a look he wasn't certain she could obtain until the moment. His gaze fixed on the small cut at the corner of her lip. She rubbed the blood against her knuckle before drawing away from the wall and slung her bag on her shoulder.
"Sorry if I disturbed you." Yume searched for her keys. The metal bunch dropped next to her shoes, sighing tiredly, she blinked at the keys bitterly.
Seto didn't expect her current disposition. Always the one who reached out first, entreating him conversation, dinner, small advice, the cheery and calm person had ultimately turned into a zombie. Yume bent down for the keys and straightened.
She inserted the key to her door lock and jiggled, head flushed with previous scenes at Dartz's house.
He left her to study on her own respectfully. Soon, she had fallen asleep on the desk and awoke to a frightful slam somewhere within his home. Drawn by the noise instinctively, Yume ventured back to the kitchen to check on him.
Red-haired, fiery eyes of a goddess, she was extremely beautiful for words—though her physical appearance rivaled any mythical beauty, her words were worse than sailor.
"I will leave if I want to—No, don't force me!" She yanked her pale arm out of his grip. Hissing impatiently, her green eyes riveted to his face. "I can't believe you… What the fuck do you take me for?"
"I have already made myself clear haven't I?" Dartz replied through wavering patience.
"Iona, don't waste my time. We've already gone over this and I don't have the immediate patience to see you whine like a petulant idiot. Save yourself the embarrassment and—Leave!" He heaved, jerking a hand toward the front door.
She flew to him, her hands grabbing his slender face in her palms and probed the impassive heterochormic eyes. "Where is he? I want my Dātsu back! He wouldn't look down at me. He loves me." Iona buried her tearful face in his chest. "Please…" She clutched to his shirt, "Give me another chance, I won't soil our bond… Please!"
He turned his head to the side to muse himself with the articles of the foyer. "I… Have someone else in my life." Dartz murmured above her shaking head. "And I wish to forget about what happened between us. If I don't … Forgive you, I won't be able to let go our memories—"
"Don't forgive me!" Iona pleaded, "Don't forget me—us!"
He patted her white knuckles against his collar and smirked coolly. "I think I already have." Dartz guaranteed. "It's amazing how someone different can bring another light to your life once more. It's my second-chance, and I'm not losing this chance."
Sniffing, she cringed at his words. "Cruel…" Iona breathed, "So cruel… In the end, I came back to you. I was guilty for what happened, I screwed him over to return to your arms—because I believed you'd forgive me and loved me like you promised!"
"When a man's pride and heart is stepped on by a devious woman, he will resort to anything to keep his wits about himself." Dartz undid her knotted hands on his collar. He was emotionless and calm unlike her. "Take Chris and leave."
"NO!" She cried, "Chris wants to meet you—I told her stories about you and believe it or not—" Iona sniffed, "She considers you some kind of a king or a god. I promised you'd meet her. Don't just push me awa—" Creak. Iona ceased at the sound and peered at the light silhouette through the parted door. Her eyes widened in murderous shock as Dartz turned to caught sight of Yume, witnessing the scene.
For the first time, since she appeared, Iona saw Dartz clenched his jaw guardedly.
"You…" Iona blinked at the young girl and up at Dartz. "There is a woman… In…" Her eyes returned to Yume.
"Um, I'm sorry to intrude on you two." Yume bowed, backing out of the room, "Please, continue, I'm very sorr—"
"Hold it." Iona wrenched away from Dartz and advanced upon her. "Who are you? Where are you here?"
"Iona." Dartz growled, "You have no right to disrespect my guest."
"I'm…" Yume thirstily met Dartz's narrowed gaze and the livid green-eyed woman. "I'm Yum—"
Seething, Iona's lip curled as Yume cupped her aching cheek. "Who do you think you are? Walking in here like it's your home? What are you to Dātsu?" She shrieked fiercely. An overpowering force whirled her against her will, twisting her ankle. She staggered and was shoved against the couch near the door. Iona clung to the armrest dizzily, basking in the scorned realization that it had been Dartz'z arms that discarded her out of the way. "Dātsu…" Sobbing the soft name endearingly under her breath, Iona reared her head back, letting tears cling to the corner of her numbed eyes. She didn't want to look at them. She didn't want to hear Dartz defend that woman. He had always watched over her and loved her mercilessly, with the promise to never look at another. It was their vow and eventually they would marry… If only she hadn't been weak. If only she had held on to his hand, she would still be wrapped in his arms, in his love today—and that woman would no where be near him—standing in his home, protected by him as if she were some prized treasure.
"Dātsu…" Iona wrecked into sobs. "I'm sorry…" Slumping to the floor, she rested her forehead on the armrest. "I said, I'm sorry…"
"I've had enough of you." Dartz growled, deep in his throat. "I've told you many times to leave, if you don't listen I will have to you drag brutally. Did I not tell you to save yourself the embarrassment?" He stepped toward her.
Yume stood appalled by the two. Her trembling hand lowered to her rapidly beating chest. She was surprised to find herself rooted firmly in the room. She hadn't noticed the flying hand aimed at her cheek until the impact blasted in the tensed room. Suddenly, Iona was thrown against the couch where she crippled to the ground in pitiful sobs. Tears invoked by the fragile woman begging for her love's return, Yume rubbed her eyelids and breathed.
I have no right to be here. She glanced at Dartz stepping threateningly toward the fallen woman.
"Get out of my house." Dartz sneered.
"Why…?" Iona wailed. "Why are you pushing me away? Why?"
"Iona," Dartz leashed her arm, "I've told you many times." He yanked her up, "That I'm willing to forget and let go our of past. And that we no longer have any reason to be near one another. We are through—" Dartz turned her around, prompting her toward the door.
"Why don't you try listening?"
Dartz stilled and looked over his shoulder to the owner of the quiet voice. Iona's tearful eyes blazed resentfully on Yume, nonetheless, she continued, undeterred by their shock.
"She only wants to be heard." Yume whispered. "I, I will take my leave."
"No." Dartz spat, "You will not leave. The one who left—is this, right here, in my hand." He stared pointedly at Iona. "Go."
"You're picking her over me?" Iona mumbled, frowning.
"She is someone I never want to harm."
"You'll regret it." Iona whispered. "You'll see." She predicted.
Iona's departure incited Yume to leave accordingly. Dartz didn't stop her and apologized when he thought she was out of earshot on the sidewalk. Consequently, Yume rushed home and slumped on the stairs, writhing from a sensation born from pity and incredibility. Yume blinked at the blue-eyed handsome man gaping at her expectedly. Did he ask her a question? He appeared austerely furious but slightly relieved that she became aware of his presence.
Turning around, her fingers grabbed onto his sleeve. "Are you doing anything tonight?" Yume wondered.
Seto concealed his surprise and huffed at the floor.
"If not, can you keep me company?" She requested, "I really don't want to be alone right now. And I don't want to bother anyone, sorry to impose on you at such a short-notice, please don't be angry…" Yume sighed apprehensively at his daunting scowl.
Somehow, not even Seto could logically piece together, he sat in her living room reading some of her books while she bustled in the kitchen humming a tune. Yume returned to the room with her own set of books and began reading on the transversal couch. Her brown eyes shimmered in the dim light as she looked at him appreciatively. He lifted a silent brow and browsed back to the page.
"Thank you." Yume whispered, clutching the corners of her text tightly.
Abrasively, Seto cleared his throat and held up the book against his face to prevent her from discerning his calmed expression.
"Don't you think we should do this often?" Yume insisted another hour later.
Seto had been ignoring her every time she spoke. So engrossed was he in the book, he hadn't heard her move. The cap on his head was tossed and wrenched secretly behind his shoulders. If he were in the comfort of his own apartment, he may have been relieved to be rid of the article on his head. Since he wasn't, he had to think twice about his reaction and slung forward to grab it in time.
"What are you doing?" Seto sliced.
Her small hand rove into his brown locks, soft, smooth, healthy and… "Brown is beautiful." Yume observed. "Your scalp is healthy."
He glared at her bare feet and kept from responding to the touch of her moving hand through his hair. "Stop touching me." Seto gritted. "And return the hat."
"Nope!" Yume hugged the baseball cap victoriously. "You look better without it!" She titled her head with a grin to study his inexpressive cold blue eyes, prominent jaw line, feathery light lips that deserved to be kissed under the lamp light, and even dark brows. He was a stunning person, almost model-like and extraordinarily attractive. Yume's eyes widened and she giggled shyly.
"Stop gawking." He snapped, clenching his fists on his kneecaps.
"I don't get it." Her hand slowed behind his right ear. "So good-looking, a little rude, but nice enough to keep me company—why don't you have a girlfriend? And you barely socialize."
"I have no motive to socialize with the lower-half of society." He grunted.
Frowning, Yume pulled his face to meet her gaze. His stare was ferocious, as if she bugged an impatient lion. "Are you really in a position to criticize society? No one gives a damn about you or that you're rotting in an apartment. You're a nobody. Do you want to insist on calling the people you're surrounded with the 'lower-half'?"
Seto intended to retrieve the hat with a fluid snatch but she was sharp to deduce his plan. Yume raised it over her head and smirked. "I think you should keep the hat off. It's at night and you are in-doors, mind you."
"I warn you," Seto growled in rancor, "Don't challenge me…"
"Yea, because snatching your hat away is an undefeatable feat." She nodded empathetically.
Seto shot to his feet, looming over her like a brutal wolf, fangs bared and glare dreadful. In return, she hugged the cap closer and ducked her head. "Return the hat."
"No!" Yume yanked around, shuffling out of the way, "Never!" She spat over her shoulder. "You're too good-looking to hide under stupid hats!"
He was at her side in an instant, one hand clutching her side, while the other rested firmly on her forearm. She found she no longer had the will to move and gaped worriedly around, cringing out of habit. "Are you…Gonna…Hit me?" Yume mumbled, afraid to turn. His shadowed face shifted by her shoulder, slowly a hand forwarded to whisk away the hat out of her grip. Yume clenched her fingers indignantly. "I don't want to return it! Why you do keep on putting this piece of shit? You look better without it—trust me!"
"I know." Seto spat.
"Huh?" Yume blinked over her shoulder at his blue-black mysterious eyes, "You admit you're hot?"
"I'm mistaken for by the public and I want to avoid being addressed."
"Who are you mistaken for?" Yume chuckled, "You—you don't look like anyone famous!"
He glared, "You wouldn't understand."
"Well, I'm more than willing to." She grinned amicably. "You haven't told me your name."
Seto withdrew automatically. "Never mind, keep the hat." He strode to the door.
"Don't leave!" Yume jogged after him, "Please, I'm sorry for provoking you—sheesh, take a joke!" Grabbing his sleeve, she restrained him from stepping out through the open door. "I'm sorry ok? But I meant every word I said. Don't hide yourself. This is bad for self-esteem."
He almost growled at the impertinent girl. "Does it look like I have self-esteem issues?" I, Seto Kaiba?
"Because you're uncomfortable with yourself, you are afraid to socialize." Yume surmised. "So please, the longer you stay without a hat on, the more comfortable you'll become. And if you are comfortable around others, it will help you feel better…" She looked up briefly to note his relieved expression devoid of frustration and impatience. Yume smiled candidly, "See? What I mean?"
Seto reviewed her grip on his sleeve. "Unhand me." He said stoically.
Yume frowned in disbelief. "Don't you care? Do you always want to live alone by yourself—for the rest of your life? You need to meet people to grow as an individual!"
"Shut up." Seto pulled his arm in fervid aggravation. "Keep your theories to yourself, I'm not interested." Swinging around, he felt his shoulders become heavy at the mouth of the door. Seto's eyes widened in pure horror in acknowledgment to the weight against his back, she was holding him.
Yume hugged his back, "You idiot!" She shouted. "You don't know anything—The more you do this, the stupid and uncaring you become! You need people to hang on to, that's the truth even I can see. Don't you hate going back to that empty and lonely apartment every day? Don't you feel anything when you see a group of people dining out in the streets, like a family?"
"You…." Seto clenched his teeth. "Need to mind your own business." He was terrified at the idea of her warm arms restraining him in place. He had never known a pair of arms could do that to any one, let alone affect him. Seto lowered his eyes to her grip. Her hands were slender, gentle looking and pretty. His own larger hand curled onto her thin wrist. There was so much contrast between the size and shape. His own were angular, longer, and brawny. "Don't grab on to me, a stranger." He forbade.
"You definitely don't know what a stranger is, do you?" Yume sighed against his back.
He stiffened at the warm feeling.
"Stupid, we are not strangers." Yume elaborated quietly. "And we're not just neighbors. If you were a stranger to me I wouldn't ask you to keep me company tonight, for which I'm thankful."
He couldn't deny liking the warmth of her embrace and the soft murmurs coming over his shoulder. Some of the traits were alienable rights but he had been denied feelings all his life. Suddenly entangled in Yume's warmth he had no idea how to detangle and get away. The truth was he wasn't ready to be released yet. The feelings were surreal since he hadn't experienced them. Along the lines of wanting to stay and needing to leave from fear of discovery, Seto knew he was beginning to depend on the little creature called Yume, and in that truth, he felt something in his heart become undone.
Copyright Nur Misurr
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