Set in an alternate universe.

Been a while, yes?
I almost forgot my format. Hahaha! Almost.
It all came back to me pretty quickly.

So, anyway, it's past midnight. And I thought I should post a new story just because I haven't in a while.
So I sat at my computer, typed, and here you go.

Enjoy.

DISCLAIMER [I do not own Kingdom Hearts] DISCLAIMER


STARING

Those brilliant little suns that were his eyes.


Aqua was not the type of person to break the rules. Or, to be very specific, she was not likely to do anything beyond following an instruction to the letter. It made her feel sick with guilt to even think to disobey. She did not even have to step out of line for a weight to drop in her stomach. She merely had to brush the proverbial line with the very tip of her toe and she would already feel as if she were pushing the limit.

Aqua was also not the type of student to waste time on idle, unproductive activities. If she finished an exam ahead of time, she would go back and review her answers thoroughly or lengthen her essays. If there was a homework-free evening, she would use her allotted two-hours-a-night for homework on something purely academic – like reading ahead on the lessons for the next day.

Aqua, most importantly, was not the type of girl interested in dating and guys and all that nonsense. To her, the class heartthrob was nothing more than a lab partner. The hottest athlete in school was just a guy she helped in math. Aqua was too young to be in a romantic relationship, and too logical to be swept up in the illogical world of crushes, and too emotionally-inclined to even be aware of the physically-attractive boys that were all but kissing the ground she walked on.

So why in all the world was it so hard to breathe when he was sitting right across from her, reading a book, his brows very slightly bunched together in concentration? Why was she wasting her scheduled hour of study hall in the school library staring at his golden eyes, counting those long dark lashes that ever so lightly brushed the top of his cheeks when he – slowly, tantalizingly – blinked? And why, oh heaven, why did she duck her face behind a book pretending to be studying when a teacher passed by only to look up at the boy again when said teacher was gone?

It was sinful. He was sinful. Even his name sounded sinful.

Vanitas. Deliciously sinful.

She was being sorely tempted by a demon, she was sure. Her conviction, her very nature, was being tested. And she was failing miserably. Failing! When was the last time that she ever failed in anything? When?

Never.

Her fingers dug into the book she was holding, her nails creating tiny, crescent-shaped dents on the paperback cover. She willed herself to look away from him – the boy sitting across from her with the sharp, golden eyes, and lightly tanned skin, and dark, ebony hair. Only her eyes moved. That was all she could manage. Her eyes darted downward to look at the page of the open book in her hands and she read...

In the year 1952 -

Aqua never found out what happened in the year 1952. The boy, that dashing boy only an arm's length from her, laughed. The sound of it dragged her eyes back to his and her heart shuddered blissfully at seeing the light of amusement in them. She wondered what made him laugh. A funny picture, perhaps? But before she could dwell on that thought, his laughter died down and he flipped the page.

But her attention was his again. And it was harder this time to look away. She had run out of energy to resist him.

And why did she have to resist him anyway? No, no, no! That was the wrong question to ask. Why was she attracted in the first place? She needed to get a hold of herself and get this nonsensical feeling under control. It was a waste of time and energy to be attracted to him. How many hours of study hall has she wasted watching him? How many favors has she pulled just so that she could take the seat at his table, right across from him, in the library every single time? How many changes has her physical appearance undergone in the hopes of catching his attention?

Alright, admittedly, the physical changes were not much. She cut her hair a bit shorter after overhearing him make an offhand remark to a guy friend that he never understood what was so attractive about girls with long hair. She switched from a practical, colorless lip balm to a light pink, cherry-flavored lip gloss because she learned he likes cherries. She added a little red and black to her wardrobe and her meager collection of simple accessories because they were obviously his favorite colors. And, just today, she decided to coat her fingernails with a clear polish, just because she thought that it would be her hands that his peripheral vision would see whenever he was reading the upper half of the pages of a book.

What did any of that matter, though? He never really looks at her.

Aqua almost whimpered as a fresh wave of hurt washed over her at that thought. He never looks at her. And it was true. So painfully true. Vanitas was aloof, always caught up in his own world, lost in his own vanity and arrogance, that he never notices anything that does not directly concern him. He was also very quick to shoot down people he disliked and he hated it when other people made attempts to speak with him and – especially – ask him questions.

So how was Aqua supposed to get his attention if she could not – for example – ask him what he thought of that play they were required to watch? How could she ever hope for him to be the one to start a conversation when he hardly knows she exists and he lives in his own little world?

There was nothing – nothing at all – that she could possibly do to ever make him look at her with those brilliant, little suns that were his eyes. She would never see his lips curl up to reveal his shiny, perfect, white teeth in laughter at some amusing thing she might say or do. There was no chance in all the world that she would ever find out if the tanned skin of his hands was warm or rough.

She could hope and wish and dream and pray. But to what end?

"You know what? Study hall is a waste of time. They should just scratch this right off our schedules and dismiss us an hour early every day."

Aqua froze. Blinked. Paled.

So caught up in her thoughts of heartache and despair, she almost did not hear him speak. Almost. But, was he actually talking to her? Was it possible that he was talking to her?

She stared at him. Then her eyes slid slowly to one side, then to the other. There was no one on their right. And the girl on their left was practically asleep, her head bobbing up and down in a constant, bouncing motion. Resisting the urge to prod the girl awake and remind her that they should be studying, Aqua faced Vanitas again.

He cocked an eyebrow at her.

Her cheeks grew slightly warmer and she tried to suppress her blush. If that was physically possible. She struggled for something to say to him. He was looking at her questioningly, expectantly. It should be easy. She normally has an opinion on everything and she was an articulate person. But her mouth felt dry, her tongue stiff, her throat constricted.

A minute of silence passed.

She watched his expression relax to something dangerously blank. Only his eyes revealed his thoughts and feelings. He was annoyed. Offended. The dark shadow eclipsing his sun-like eyes told her exactly what he thought of her. She was a snob who had the audacity to ignore him; to deny him an answer. She was an idiot who did not even have half the brain necessary to formulate a simple response to a simple statement.

He closed the book in his hands, stood from his seat, and walked away.

Aqua felt the air around her grow cold. The first – and most likely the only – time that he ever speaks to her and she says nothing back. She wanted to slap herself. Somewhere in the back of her mind, her logical self was trying to tell her that he just stood up to return the book to the shelf and maybe get a new one and then come back and sit in front of her again.

Her heart, in its panic and pain, was not convinced. To her heart, each footstep that took him further from her was the sound of prison gates closing between them. It was the sound of him locking her out, deciding then and there that she was not worth his time. She had been given her one chance and she blew it, and now he would lock her away with all the other people he had deemed unworthy of his attention. She could already hear him throwing away the key.

She snapped her book shut and stood up so suddenly that she almost knocked her chair over and hit the boy sitting at the table behind her. She hardly noticed that it was her lab partner – also known as class heartthrob – as she apologized and almost ran down the aisle she saw Vanitas walk towards.

She even forgot to feel bad about almost-running in the library, which she would normally consider a criminal offense. She just had to catch him before his decision to shut her out was final. She could not let him make that decision.

She caught up to him as he reached the shelf he was going for. He returned his book and had just slid out a new one when he noticed her. He looked at her blankly. "What do you want?"

"I disagree."

At first it seemed that he would do nothing and say nothing in response. Then the tiniest of smirks seemed to tickle the corner of his mouth. "Disagree with what?"

Aqua swallowed hard and frowned slightly, gathering her courage to speak. "I disagree with you. I think study hall is anything but a waste of time. It was made for students like you, who would spend this one hour doing pointless things if you weren't required to spend it in the library, reading a book."

He answered her with silence, with a gaze so intense that she felt all her courage slip away. In order to have an excuse not to be subjected to his stare any longer, Aqua turned to the shelf and slipped her own book into an empty space. At the moment, she could hardly care less that this was not where she originally got the book from.

She was so focused on that one action – returning her book – and he was naturally so quiet and quick that she had no idea he was already right beside her until he had taken hold of her hand.

Heat flooded her entire body; as if there was a blush on every inch of her skin. He was scowling as he studied her hand. And then he ran his fingernail down the length of hers, scratching the smooth surface of her nail polish.

"Hmm. I liked them better without."

He said nothing more as he dropped her hand and walked off, his newly chosen book tucked casually between his arm and his side. Aqua remained right where she was, overwhelmed by the events of the last few moments. It was so much more than she had ever imagined possible and the strength of the thrill coursing through her veins was indescribable.

She was unsure how long she stood there, her mind trying to process what had just happened, her body trying to re-establish some form of movement, and her heart struggling to restore its rhythm. The next thing she knew, her teacher was asking her what she was doing standing there and staring into space and then telling her to return to her seat at once and read.

Aqua did as she was told, absentmindedly picking a new book off the shelf and walking back to her seat. She noted that Vanitas was already there, leafing through his own book with a sluggishness that clearly suggested impatience. There was, after all, only ten minutes left of study hall. Aqua was sure he was itching to leave.

She did not share his impatience, though, as she sat down and pretended to read. Ten minutes was such a short time after all, and she was far from eager to end this hour of theirs, the first that they had actually shared somehow.

Her book was lying flat on its cover on the table, open to a random page. Her head was bowed slightly so that it seemed as though she was reading. But her eyes often darted towards Vanitas, watching his expression go from bored, to impatient, to frustrated, and back again. And hidden from everyone else, her hands were on her lap, her thumb running over the thin, shallow scratch his nail made on hers.

And feeling that scratch, Aqua could not help but smile.

Maybe she should be annoyed that he had scratched something that took her an hour the night before to perfect, having never polished her nails before. Maybe she should be upset that instead of him liking this change in her he disliked it. Maybe she should even be a little hurt because, now that she thought about it, his tone when he made the comment was not exactly kind.

But the smile stayed on her face, bright and sincere. What was today, really, but a beginning? What had he done except give her a new reserve of hope? And what did she get from all this but the one thing that she had been aching so terribly for? So she kept smiling, because above everything else, only one realization mattered: he noticed.


END

Thank You

~Alacquiene~