Chinese Fairy: Just putting up the Disclaimer, I do not own anything and nothing does not magicaly belong to me now~
The next morning, Tieria woke up in his bed with yesterday's clothes still on and his glasses were resting on his nightstand by his bed. Gazing at those non-prescription glasses, he felt his heart become heavier.
"If I didn't know better, I'd say you were falling in love with me!" a roll of the eyes dismissed the laughing brunette as he hugged Tieria closer. "I know you do. Why do you keep pretending that you don't like me and you keep ignoring my confessions of loving you?" Tieria bit his lip as he tried to come up with a better answer.
Finally, he pulled away and took a step back. "You know I can't. I don't have time to date. I need to save as much money as I can for my family." A pathetic reason if he ever heard one. Neil agreed and replied, "I'm not one of those gold diggers. I just want us to try out a relationship. If you don't like me by… the end of this week with three dates, then I will leave you alone about the matter and never bring it up again. Deal?"
This is a bad idea, his mind kept repeating, but for once, Tieria Erde listened to his heart; not his head. "Alright, three dates and by the end of the week, if I do not want to continue this, we end… Whatever this may be." His hands ushered between their forms and Neil smiled that same smile that melted Tieria's heart.
Neil's arms snaked around this smaller man's waist and he brought him close. "You don't mind out age gap, do you?" another roll of the eyes and Tieria said, "It doesn't matter to me; we're both over 18 and that's all. Now let go so I can get back to work." He pulled out of the embrace.
Ms. Sumeragi's voice called back, "No, you still have five more minutes of break, sweetie!" Neil laughed and brought him close again. "Not yet, my Cinderella."
"Not yet…" Tieria murmured to no one. He glanced up at his clock on his nightstand and sighed. "I'm late for work…" he rose from the warm bed and hurried through his daily motion of getting ready just like yesterday, but he didn't enter the kitchen until he was ready to leave.
The purple haired man walked into the kitchen and saw Lyle and Setsuna sitting at the table with their coffee mugs set in front of them. "Morning," said Tieria. Setsuna nodded and Lyle saw the satchel by his friend's side. "Where are you going?" he asked before picking up his mug for a sip.
Tieria rolled his eyes and replied, "I'm going to rush to work." He moved close to the refrigerator and took from a small fruit basket an apple. Setsuna spoke, "We called Ms. Sumeragi and told her you weren't feeling well. She said for you to take a day off." Tieria clenched around the red apple and turned to face them.
"I'm fine, I'm going to work." He grounded out and moved to leave, but forced himself to stop and calm down. They're just worried about me… don't take it out on them. He smiled a rueful smile to himself. Neil would be proud. He pushed his spectacles higher on his nose and turned to face them. "Sorry, but right now I just need to work; keep busy. You understand." A question posed as a statement. They knew he was going to go anyway, so Lyle sighed.
"Alright, go to work, but we are going to go pick you up after work." He said confidently. Tieria's mouth fell open like a fish for a moment and then his voice came back. "That's not necessary." Setsuna stood up from his spot and walked over to the sink to rinse his favorite mug.
"It doesn't matter if it is necessary or not. We are going to walk home together and that's that." Translation, we are giving you support, so just accept it. He turned to face Tieria with a soft gaze; the closest to a true smile.
Tieria slumped his shoulders in defeat and nodded, "Fine, fine. I'll see you guys around six." He slipped on his shoes and opened the door. "Take care, Princess!" called Lyle and the door slammed shut.
Tieria ran to his work and smiled when he walked in ten minutes to opening. Sumeragi and Feldt both turned to see him rush in and waited for him to come back to the first floor area. "Sorry I'm late, but I made it." He offered a smile to which both women knew was fake.
Sumeragi was the first to speak up, "I thought I gave you the day off."
"I don't need a day off, I'm fine." Was his response. Feldt opened her mouth to speak, but Tieria faced both of them with a neutral face. "Look guys, I know I'm not my usual self, but I need work. I need to keep busy." He turned to star only at his boss. "Please don't send me home."
"Tieria…" murmured Feldt and Sumeragi knew he won over her heart… Again. She exhaled and ran her hand through her head. "Fine, stay if you need to. You can help Feldt organize yesterday's order. Apparently, Lasse is going to come by again to drop off another shipment that was part of yesterday's batch."
Tieria released a small breath he was holding and nodded, "Yes, ma'am." With nothing else to say, he returned to the back with Feldt as their employer returned to the front window to flick on the "open" sign.
The day passed with nothing more to offer any form peace or unease. Lasse came by as promised to drop off the shipment; one of Sumeragi's best patron's Wang Liu Mei and her brother, Hong Long, stopped by the browse around the second floor and left with a collector's edition of the "Velveteen Rabbit" by Margery Williams; and the most of the shipment was organized and placed into stock. Customers came in and out with the wonderful sign outside to promote the sale.
Tieria sighed as he placed the last book on its designated shelf and allowed his mind to fall out of work mode. "Ribbons wants to see me…" he murmured to himself and allowed his forehead to hit the shelf in front of him with a low "thunk".
Feldt's aquamarine eyes turned away from her friend and turned to her employer. "He's really bummed out about something. I wish we could help him, Ms. Sumeragi." The voluptuous woman nodded and placed down her glass of water. "I wish we could, but if he doesn't talk to us, then there is nothing we could do…" she gazed down at her glass of water and had a fairly good idea as to why her male employee was so upset. Money, money and more money… those damn family members are going to break him and who will be there to clean up the mess that will be left of Tieria Erde?
Sumeragi sighed loudly and slumped back into her tall swivel chair that she has for when she or Feldt works the cash register. "I hate Tuesday…" she murmured. Feldt giggled and swiped a bit of her pink hair out of her eyes. "No, you hate it when Tieria is upset." Noriega gave her a small smile and nodded, "Yeah, you're right… I just wish there was something we could do."
Whether it was fate or pure coincidence, the phone rang then and there. Sumeragi and Feldt stared at each other before their hands appeared over the counter.
"Rock, paper, scissors!" they cried. Feldt cried out a happy cheer and her boss pouted while she picked up the headpiece. "Ptolemaios Bookstores, this is Sumeragi Lee Noriega, how can I help you?"
"That's you middle name! My friend Graham and I were talking about middle names and I totally forgot yours!" Sumeragi laughed and smiled, "Liar, I bet you have my name written on your wall." He chuckled and nodded, "Yes, it actually is in my datapad. So, how are you doing, Leesa?" her smile grew forlorn. "Only you call me that nowadays." She remarked.
"Sorry, I knew you before you were Sumeragi Lee Noriega. Now answer me, Lee-sa." She got the feeling he was smiling over on his end. "I'm doing well, thank you. How about yourself?"
"Uh… You know me. Work, work, work… It is satisfying working with the patients though. Keeps me on my toes." Nodding, Sumeragi picked up her water and took another sip. "Well, as long as it works for you and you are doing well, that's all that matters to me. Now, is there a reason for this call or did you miss me so much since our last conversation last week?"
"Nothing gets past you, actually. I was wondering… Is that young man still working for you?" the brunette blinked in confusion. "Tieria? Yeah, he is still working with me. Why do you want to know?" there was a slight pause before Billy continued. "It may sound rude of me to be so forward, but is he still in need of some extra cash?" her voice turned defensive. "Why do you want to know, Billy?"
Billy Katagiri removed his glasses from his face and rubbed the bridge of his nose with his thumb and forefinger. "I know it sounds weird and suspicious, but Graham brought up an idea that seems like it could work well with one patient that I have been working with." He paused and allowed his first bit of bait to sink in.
"I'm listening…" She allowed; Billy smiled and quickly continued.
"I have a patient who has been here longer than I have. His name is Allelujah Haptism and he is a 24 year-old-man who is capable of being with people, but he has a severe case of MPD."
"English, please!" she asked loudly. He chuckled again and placed his glasses on his cluttered desk. "Multiple Personality Disorder. Along with his own conscious, there is a second 'person' in his body beside himself. With this mental illness, he has been locked away in the Human Reform Institution since he was eight." He drew his ear away from the phone as he heard sputtering from the other end.
"Ms. Sumeragi, are you all right?" Demanded a female voice that wasn't Sumeragi. "I told you not to multitask, ma'am." Deadpanned a male voice on the same end.
One of Billy's eyebrows quirked in response, 'I am going to assume that is Tieria Erde.'
A moment later, Sumeragi's voice spoke up slightly choked up by swallowing too much water by accident, but she managed to reply, "May I ask what he did to warrant being locked away for the rest of his life or is that confidential?" her voice was slightly haggard, but there was still the defensive edge to it. Billy smiled, "When he was younger, it did warrant complete enclosure, but he has improved greatly over the years. I believe he can rejoin society, but a few others here believe otherwise. Short of treating him like a criminal, they think he should die in this padded prison." She mentally sighed. He avoided truly answering my question…
"And of course, you don't believe that," she commented dryly.
The man with deep chocolate brown eyes nodded and mentally acknowledged that Leesa couldn't see the motion, so voiced, "I believe that if Allelujah were to interact with someone outside of the Institution, he may react positively and be able to prove to the other doctors here that he is safe and with this proof, he will could be discharged by the end of summer."
Sumeragi turned to gaze at her male employee and saw that even though he was working and completing every task she or Feldt gave him, he still didn't posses that same warmth as the last two weeks.
He lost it in the last 12 hours… she thought dismally. Sighing, she turned her attention back to her longtime friend. "What exactly do you want from him?" Sumeragi asked.
On his end, Billy cheered. He heard the tone of defeat in her voice; it's not like he wanted her to feel like she was betraying her employee, but this was a perfect opportunity! Allelujah would get the human interaction with someone else and Tieria will be paid for his work and troubles. A win, win situation if he ever heard of one!
"We'll start with one meeting a week to see how they interact and all they have to do is talk, read, draw, even go on walks. They just need to spend time together. A complete third party not biased to Allelujah will help him see that there is good things in the world and that could get him to go the extra mile. This little push could set him free from the Human Reform Institute."
Sumeragi Lee Noriega contemplated before speaking, "If I'm going to sell this crazy idea to Tieria, I need to bring in how much he is going to get from this." She smirked. Let's see how desperate Billy is to have this crazy stunt done…
Without waiting for a reasonable pause, Billy replied, "250 per visit. We are only a 10-minute drive away from your store or a 20-minute bus ride plus a five-minute stroll from the bus stop. Nothing too demanding if I say so myself; not to mention he will only be here for an hour and a half to two hours." He was now grinning, that's a god deal, right Leesa?
She was a little taken aback, but quickly recovered. "Fine, I will talk to him and get back to you when he gives me an answer." Smiling, Billy replied smoothly, "I'll wait till then, take care Sumeragi."
With that said, the two hung up and left each other to their own devices.
Sumeragi's shoulder's slumped as she realized what she just did. Not only did I sell him out, I made it seem like there was no big deal with placing Tieria in a situation with someone locked away at that insane asylum for one on one expansive chatting! I made him into a whore without the sex part! Her inner turmoil was spilling onto her face and Feldt saw this clearly.
"Tieria, I think there is something wrong with Ms. Sumeragi." She stated, he looked up from a book he was reading, titled, "Along Came a Spider" by James Patterson, and saw the same thing.
Sighing, he placed the book back on the shelf and spoke, "I'll go talk to her. Can you go help the woman over in the children's section? She seems like she's in distress." The pink haired beauty turned and stifled a giggle as she saw the woman who was struggling to put a book back on a shelf that was clearly too tall for her while she was on her tip toes.
"I'll go help her," she replied and walked off. The purple haired man smiled before walking over to his slumped over boss and said loudly, "If you continue sulking like this, you're going to ruin all your hard work of promoting a perky sale with your depressing mood." She jumped and squeaked; quickly turning to her employee her scolding features on her face vanished.
A delicate eyebrow rose on his face as he saw this and was now a little curious, but it didn't show in his face. Sumeragi fumbled with her words for a moment, another thing Tieria wasn't used to, and then she finally got out a sentence. "I… need to speak with you for a moment in private." He hesitantly, "Very well."
They both made their way to the back room and walked past the locker area to a small door, which was labeled, "Manager's Office" in dark rose pink lettering. Sumeragi and Tieria both sat down in their respected seats. Hers was behind the desk and his was in front of her.
Moments passed before she finally told him about the offer that her friend Billy pitched her and how it pertained to Tieria and his financial situation. "… You will be paid well for your time and all you have to do is spend time with this young man. Billy says he is no longer a danger, and well… I believe him." She finished and mentally scolded herself for the lame ending. He believes in me, sure, but I'm selling him to Billy!
Tieria had on his passive face and no matter how much Sumeragi wanted him to reply in a bodily movement, he offered no such thing. Sumeragi was just about ready to laugh this off as a joke by her and her college friend, but Tieria's soft voice sounded through the air.
"All I have to do is spend time with him? Reading, conversing, walking, nothing else?"
She nodded quickly, "All you have to do is spend time with him. Maybe Billy will speak with you at the end to see how it went on your side, but he says that's about it." She paused and added in a more subdued voice, "I don't want to force you into this. Know that it is ultimately your choice and no one will blame you if you don't accept it. If Billy even tries guilt tripping you, I will drive over to the HRI and kick his nerd ass for you." Sumeragi offered with a small smile.
He smiled in return a real smile and nodded, "I understand, thanks for protecting my right to choose." He smile turned serene and he continued, "I do need more money for my brother, Ribbons…" his voice faded and that was the one fact that Sumeragi knew stole away his happiness. He received a letter from his family last night.
"So this will actually help me out a lot," he paused to look at the leg of the desk for a moment then brought his gaze up to his friend and employer. "I will agree to do this. When do I start?"
As promised, Lyle and Setsuna both walked up to the Ptolemaios Bookstore and saw through the window that Feldt was closing the curtains on the second floor, Ms. Sumeragi was writing down the receipts of the day into her sale books, and Tieria was sitting in a comfortable plush chair that was in the children's section for reading hour.
They walked in and Lyle spoke first, "I have a reserved book about a Princess that works in a Bookstore for a lovely Queen that won't let her find her Prince Charming because of a spell called work. Is it in yet?" the three workers looked up and he received three responses.
Feldt giggled and poorly hid her amusement; Sumeragi smiled at his silly antics and shook her head before returning to her book; and Tieria blushed a crimson red. "Would you stop with that Princess garbage? God, I am not a princess!" he closed his book and stomped to stand in front of the taller man. Height means nothing if you can take him on! Reasoned Tieria's mind.
Lyle offered one of his charming smiles. "But you ARE our Princess! Queen Sumeragi and Princess Feldt would agree with me, right Knight Setsuna?" he asked his boyfriend, who responded in a monotone voice, "So speaks the court jester."
While the bantering between Setsuna and Lyle brought Feldt closer to join in the frivolous story, Tieria moved to the back room to get his bag out of his locker and paused as a worn picture caught his eye. It was fairly old and being stuck inside a locker hasn't done it justice. It was a picture taken five years ago by a passer by of the bookstore that Sumeragi asked to take the picture of them all.
Since Neil and Lyle were the tallest, they stood in the back with Lyle's left arm hugging Setsuna close and Neil's arms were wrapped around Tieria's shoulders; keeping him snug and close. Feldt and Lasse were there on the right side of Tieria and Neil.
To the left of Setsuna and Lyle were Mileina and her father Ian, who was a good friend of Sumeragi, with their leading lady Sumeragi sandwiched between Tieria and Setsuna.
The twins were smiling the same smile they shared with Setsuna looking at the camera with a soft gaze and the corner of his lips pulled up to replicate a smile. Tieria was blushing a deep red, but managed a smile. Feldt was smiling a dazzling smile that could brighten anyone's day and Lasse was grinning from ear to ear. Mileina and Ian were also smiling; Mileina was just as pretty as Feldt with her smile and Ian had a kind smile adorning his lips. Lastly, Sumeragi help up a peace sign and was crying out, "To Ptolemaios Bookstore!" the picture caught her during the syllable "boo" so it made the snap shot more amusing.
"The days when everything made sense and more bearable." He placed his index finger to Neil's lips and shut the locker shut.
Now I have to make it on my own… was all he thought as he left the back room and bid his employer and fellow employee good night.
Sumeragi locked the front door shut as Feldt walked home and returned to her seat behind the checkout desk. He actually agreed… she commented in her head. Her elbows were propped on the counter with her hands supporting her face. "I almost wish he didn't…" this was said out loud, but no one answered her.
The lovely owner of Ptolemaios Bookstore glanced at the clock behind her head and nodded, "He'll want to know as soon as possible," with that, she picked up the cordless phone and dialed in the memorized number.
It rang a few times before the same warm voice asked, "Hello, Leesa?" She smiled the same forlorn smile before replying. "He said yes to the offer. When do you want him to start?"
"If he can, this Friday will be splendid." Her lips pulled down in a frown, but her voice maintained its neutral tone.
"All right then, he'll be there on Friday…" he finished her almost question. "Around 10 a.m. We can start with an hour and a half and stretch on the time from there." He paused a bit before tentatively adding, "Thank you for offering him Graham's idea." Shutting her eyes, Sumeragi bit out, "Yeah, no problem," and ended the conversation.
Minutes ticked by before she raised her head and sighed loudly, "I hate Tuesdays…"
Chinese Fairy: Sorry about the late update, I was hoping more people would reiew, but not many. I won't foul up the people who want this story to continue so here is the second chapter!