Title: And You Can Read Me Anything
Summary: Three fateful words. Two unsuspecting enemies. One fateful book. 24 hours isn't as long as it seems... (PxL one-shot. This is for you, True-chan!)
Dedication: I swear to gosh, I've been meaning to write this for a month and... Well, here it is. True decided to hold reviews hostage, haha, and I needed to finish this anyway so here goes... Dedicated to you, True! Anyway, it was hell writing at times so I hope you like it. :)
"Books let us into our souls and lay open to us secrets of our own."
-- William Hazlitt
It was ironic because she had always loved libraries. He had always loved libraries. It was no coincidence that they were both stuck together with each other for twenty four hours. The circumstances, the situations, were all too planned. Surely, this was fate.
"Ribbon Lettuce Rush!" She shrieked, aiming her attack at the deep sea creature. As of the late, the aliens had become more advanced and the Mews had been finding it harder to beat them. In particular, Pai had significantly improved and it scared Lettuce; of all of the aliens, she did not want to hurt him the most.
The creature roared, a slimy and gurgling-esque sound, before lunging back at her. Overheard, Mew Lettuce could hear Kish taunt Mew Ichigo. "Oh, come on, Kitten, afraid to get your paws wet?"
"Kish, couldn't you just shut up and let me fight this thing?!"
"But, Koneko-chan, that's no fun!"
Mew Lettuce let out a small sigh, clutching her injured arm. And then, the strangest thing happened. With the second marine sound from the creature, the walls around the Mews began to tremble. Just slightly, and then completely. Mew Lettuce screamed as she saw Kish pick up Mew Ichigo, transporting the two out of sight. Mew Ichigo's met her own, and she yelled, "Kish! Mew Lettuce! You... You have to save Mew Lettuce!" But then, they were gone. In her haze, Mew Lettuce could barely see and she realized that the vivid flashes of blue, yellow and purple she knew as her allies were no longer visible. She could still hear their howls. "Mew Lettuce!" "Mew Zakuro, use your whip! Rescue her!" "Pai, where's Pai?" "Tart, I hate you! Can't you save her or something?! Mew Lett--"
And then her hearing cut off once more as the walls came down, and Lettuce closed her eyes tightly as she felt the walls crumble around her. In her haze, she felt a pair of strong arms wrap tightly around her pull her to safety and she screamed. Lettuce heard hard breathing and the sound of something thumping down onto solid pavement before she shivered, allowing the darkness to encase itself around her.
Lettuce had connected the dots that Pai had saved her. Why, and how, she was unaware of but as soon as they were on dry grounds her senses had came back to her. Currently, the two were trying to figure out how to escape. The room Pai had forced them into was a library, barely wrecked from the damage.
"Have you had any luck yet with an escape entrance?" Lettuce called out, still transformed.
"Not as of yet," Pai called back to her, his voice as icy as ever.
Lettuce sighed, fingering the fringe of her dress, and he came from around the corner. "There is no exit," he said to her, and before Lettuce could reply, Pai continued, "I have thought about it and from the commotion outside, I believe that the Mews and my companions are trying to rescue us. According to my calculations... It should barely be a minute over twenty four hours to get us out."
Twenty four hours... Pai's words rang in Lettuce's head. So long... And he could kill you within that time frame.
As if hearing her thoughts, Pai said, "I am not planning on killing you. In the long run, it will be better for you to survive this time period and we, ourselves, could try to escape."
Lettuce nodded her head. The pair tried, without success for an hour to break through the walls surrounding them but eventually surrendered to their imprisonment. Lettuce had decided to take with reading, and Pai had followed pursuit. However, at the moment she was unable to read and found herself observing her surroundings. The building itself had not suffered much damage, although some sections appeared to be held up by the bookshelves themselves. Water had leaked in from somewhere, as the carpeted floor was somewhat damp. There was a tiny alcove where the pair were seat, on opposite chairs, and a pair of books in the center of the table. Lettuce noticed that all of the books Pai had selected to read were related to history or the sciences, with the occasional artistic book. Is he... learning about humans? Lettuce stifled a giggle, covering her mouth.
"What is it that you find amusing, Mew Lettuce?"
She stiffened. "N-nothing. I just... Are you learning about humans?"
He looked up and she was certain the he glared. "Yes, I am."
Lettuce gulped. "Okay... If... If you ever want to ask me about, uh, humans, you can always ask me."
Pai seemed to have raised an eyebrow. "Thank you."
"It's no problem," she murmured, embarrassed by his black gaze. "What are you reading about?"
Amazingly, despite the fact he was wedged on the couch as far away as possible from her, he leaned forward. Suddenly Pai appeared very animated. "Your history is very interesting. At the moment, I am learning about the Qin in ancient China. You are far more advanced than I have thought before."
"Oh, uh, thank you!" Lettuce beamed, unsure if her reaction was correct.
"Humans," he began, "are interesting. While you are still not superior to my race, I have a hypothesis that we may, perhaps, be distant relatives."
"Yes. You see, we look very much alike although it appears that with evolution humans lost their excellent hearing." He paused. "These ears are not so enlarged for no reason. If you were across the room, I would be able to hear your breathing..."
Lettuce gasped, slightly alarmed. As her luck would have it, her heartbeat picked up and her breath came out in short gasps.
"Your heartbeat," Pai commented, remotely amused, "just picked up quite a bit. Is something wrong? Did I startle you?"
His eyes... Lettuce thought.
"What about them?" Pai asked.
Lettuce inhaled sharply. "I said that out loud?"
"As much as I would like to be able to read one's mind, I can not," Pai reminded her gently, his tone bitter. "What is it about my eyes that have startled you so?"
"N-nothing, it's just that... They're black. Honestly, truly, black..." It scared her slightly; they reminded her of the midnight sky.
"Really?" He asked, surprised. "Are you positive about that?"
"Um..." Lettuce said, hesitant to stare into his eyes longer than necessary; she was afraid of him. But, facing her fears, she looked into his eyes. Gorgeous, was the only word she could use to describe them. They weren't quite black, but some mix of a hazy gray purple. The closer she looked, the more saw... And she liked what she saw a lot. Unconsciously she moved closer toward him, entranced. I love him, Lettuce thought in shock. There was something about him, some air around him that drew her in; he was strangely, exotically beautiful, and she couldn't get enough of him.
And then she thought of something. "Pai... Why did you save me? When you could have teleported away from here?" There was a pause, and she suddenly realized how close they were, noses almost touching. Pai cleared his throat.
"I can not teleport from here," he informed her coolly, moving as far away from her as possible, "believe me when I tell you that I have tried." It never occurred to her that he had lied in that one moment. Slowly, she blinked tears out of her eyes before the two returned to their books and began reading as if nothing had ever happened in the first place.
Twelve hours left...
"A book must be an ice-ax to break the seas frozen inside our souls."
-- Frank Kafka
He had never been distracted from reading before, and most certainly he had never been distracted by a person before. But the way her green hair fell over her right shoulder, how her small hand would creep up to pull a section of those locks when she found something interesting, continued to distract him. Pai could not read.
It was not an impossible task, he concluded later. But at the moment, it was inevitable that they would both say the very words he feared the most. If anything he was a bit annoyed with himself. How could he be distracted by a human? By an enemy with a pair of enchanting ocean blue eyes, satin soft skin and cascading green locks... Pai shook his head. "I swear, I'm turning into Kish," he remarked to himself with a slight snarl.
"Excuse me?" Lettuce asked him quietly, slight blush on her cheeks.
"What is your book about?" Small conversation would have to suffice for the moment, he reasoned.
She furrowed her eyebrows for a moment with a small frown on her face before suddenly perking up. "Oh, this?"
Her eyes grew wide and doe like and she clung the thick novel to her chest. "N-nothing!"
He raised an eyebrow, commenting, "You don't know what you're reading..."
"N-no! Of course I'm reading! Why wouldn't I?"
"I..." He began.
"Y-yes?!" She replied, the response half-shouted and stammered.
"I think we should finish reading," he commented, cringing internally. Still, he could not stay away from her for too long. "What is your book about?" Pai repeated.
Lettuce, having calmed down a little, looked across the room at him. She was about to say something before she shivered violently. Pai stared at her, concern bubbling from deep within him. Was she... getting sick? With a slight sigh, he began to cross the room towards her. Lettuce's hand shot up to her pendant, although he was unsure why; she was still transformed as Mew Lettuce. "You are cold," he stated, arms crossed in front of her.
She sniveled. "Just a little bit..." With another sigh he sat down next to her, their arms touching. Lettuce jumped up as if he had burned her. "W-what are you doing?"
He stood up, keeping the same careless expression on his face. "You are cold," he simply stated again, moving toward the shivering girl.
"W-what are y-you t-t-t-trying to do?!" For a moment, despite Lettuce's chattering teeth, her eyes looked as if she would smack him and Pai took a deep breath before continuing,
"I do not know how much longer we will be in here. My estimate is until midnight, which is," he looked up towards the ceiling, "in around ten or so hours. You seems as if you are developing the signs of, ah, a cold."
"Why do you care?" The way she said it was not strong, neither of them could lie. Her voice shook and quavered, the words barely spilling from her lips but in those four words Pai melted.
"I should not care," he said gruffly, taking her in his arms.
"No, you shouldn't," she agreed, her voice a contented hum. Although he couldn't see her face, he felt her rosy blush on his chest.
"Which book were you reading?"
"Hm?" She sounded somewhat tired; he realized she was probably exhausted, despite being in her Mew form.
"I said, which book were you reading?"
"Ah, um... The purple one."
He smiled grimly, his back sliding down the wall and he took her with him. "Mm," Lettuce sighed.
"You can sleep for a bit," he told her hesitantly. "I won't hurt you."
"No, I," she murmured, "I need to be awake for... for..."
"When Ichigo, and the others, come..." She sighed.
Pai bit his lip. "They're working together, I believe. Your Mews and my companions; they both want us out safely, but I have a feeling that Kish believes I have killed you by now." Lettuce stiffened in his grasp. He tightened his grip. "No, I am not planning on killing you. That has never been my intention tonight." She relaxed slightly. "Kish...believes that I feel nothing. Which is true." He had the notion in his head that she wasn't listening, and continued. "I think that tonight... Something is different. Something has changed, although I don't know what." His voice softened into whispers. "Something has happened, but this change... is not so bad. In fact, I don't think I mind in the slightest..."
He paused; she was clearly delirious as he spoke in tones too low for a human to hear. "I am sure you do... Lettuce, would you like for me to... read this book to you?"
"Excuse me?" She began, but he interrupted her.
"You seem tired," Pai said awkwardly, "and you want to read, and..."
Was it just his imagination or had she just smiled? "Yes. If you could please... That would be nice."
Pai was not the best reader and they both knew it; his voice conveyed too little emotion for that. But as he read the book, which was romance he acknowledged bitterly, something else inside him shifted. It may have been the way she nestled up against him or that the book he was reading to her strangely reminded him of his own situation, but he stopped reading. "Lettuce?"
"I..." I love you. "Nothing." With a small puff of air, he picked up the book and continued reading. One question continued to remain on his mind: "How can I tell her? How can I tell her before it is too late?"
One hour until midnight...
"Fiction reveals truths that reality obscures."
-- Jessamyn West
"The end," Pai mumbled.
Lettuce sighed, stretching "That was nice. Thank you, Pai. That was really, um, sweet of you." The two got up to find another book, and Lettuce noticed joyfully that Pai kept his strong arm around her. With a small hum, she leaned her head on his shoulder and he tightened his grip.
She paused. Be brave, Lettuce, be brave... Tell him! Tell him before... "I love you," she whispered. In the quiet abandoned library, her words seemed to echo and she didn't get a response back from him. Tears started to fill her eyes as he began to walk away. He... doesn't love me... but why should he? What is there to me? But I thought that I meant something to him... Tonight, I thought...
Soft, cool lips fell upon hers like waves. Lettuce felt dizzy, leaning into the kiss and euphony resonated throughout her. He loves me! Pai... loves me too!
Eventually, their lips broke apart and he whispered against hers, "I love you."
"Yes," she smiled, her voice as soft as the breeze and their lips connected again. Too soon, they parted.
"We should read something else," Pai suggested.
"Okay!" She smiled happily, leaning into his grip around her. So warm... So soft... Their hands grabbed the same book, and there was a joyful shout of "MEW LETTUCE!" from up above. Lettuce vaguely noticed moonlight streaming into the alcove.
The pair paused, hope glimmering in their eyes that had almost vanished upon that shout. The truth was that neither of them wanted to leave; so much had occurred in... "Twenty four hours," Pai murmured.
The ghost of a smile lingered on Pai's lips. "It did not feel that long, did it? I will be seeing you soon, Mew Lettuce," he smiled, beginning to turn away from her.
"Wait!" She called out. "When will I see you again? Privately, I mean," she clarified quietly.
He spun around, holding her by her arms. "You understand that we can not be like this... intimate in fighting, correct?"
She nodded her head vigorously. "I don't... want to fight you."
He smiled. "I know, but we will. We have to... In the meantime, I think that we should see each other in... Twenty four hours."
"So long," she sighed, about to mention that he didn't know where she lived when Pai spoke.
"I will find you, do not worry," he smiled.
"MEW LETTUCE!" The time the shout sounded like Pudding.
"Tell them you're here," Pai instructed her.
Lettuce hesitated, but cupped her hands and yell up. "I'M HERE! I'M OKAY! WE'RE BOTH OKAY!" Lettuce answered in return to Pudding's whoops, and their yells.
"He's okay, Kish!" Tart cheered, before shouting, "Get off of me, Pudding!"
"We did it, Taru Taru! Kish nii-chan, Lettuce onee-chan and Pai nii-chan are okay!"
"Of course he is," Kish drawled, "he's made of ice practically... Of course, I get to feeling some of that ice may have melted in this time." Kish gave a chuckle before saying, "So, Koneko-chan, how about a kiss for victory?"
Lettuce allowed herself a small laugh, and Pai shook his head. "When will I see you again?" She sighed, still wrapped in his arms.
"In twenty four hours," he reminded her.
Lettuce smiled, before her happy expression dropped. Longing took over her eyes. "Goodbye," she whispered, wrapping her arms tighter around him.
"Goodbye," Pai whispered, "for now. Perhaps next time you could read to me?"
Lettuce giggled; she could wait twenty four hours, she thought to herself as he placed a gentle kiss on her forehead and began to leave.
"Oh, and Lettuce?"
Her heart skipped a beat, thumping erratically "H-hai?"
"Twenty four hours honestly is not as long as it seems, I assure you. We will see each other again," he looked at her, black eyes almost twinkling and with an undecipherable voice Pai whispered before fading into the night sky, "and you can read me anything."
"A good book has no ending."
– R.D. Cumming
A/N: So I missed True Colour's competition which was about the pairing of Lettuce and Pai, and I haven't exactly updated for... Well, a while. I hope you guys liked it! To clarify, that HUGEEE italicized part is a flashback of Lettuce's.
Hope you liked it, True-chan. :)