Dulcis Venemum (Sweet Poison)
Summary: "It always started with a pat on the head, a lopsided smile plastered on his porcelain face as he weaved his way to my heart..."
A/N:Since I can't get over my NeuKo fix, and the open ending of the series killed me, I decided to enter in the MTNN fandom and make a fic. I dunno how many chapters this fic will take, but I do hope you will like it. Expect OOCness since Human!Neuro is in this story, and not Demon!Neuro. It's an AU fic for all of you NeuKo fans out there! :D
Chapter 1: Recolo, Recall
"Mama, please tell me a story."
"Hm? A story about what?"
"I don't know. Any story!"
A laugh. "Hm. Let's see... Well then, how about I tell you how I met a good friend of mine?"
A high-pitched cheer. "Oh! Do I know her? Is it Kanae-neechan?"
An index finger hovered on her smiling lips, beaming at the child with mirth, "No, it's not her, but I'm quite sure you know him well."
"It's a man?"
A giggle, "Yes!"
"Hey, snout face."
"What? Don't call me that! I have a name, you know!"
It started with a simple series of name-calling on the day that we met.
"Pft. Please. I know you have a name. Everyone does, stupid."
"Then why are you calling me snout face? That—that's rude!"
"Oh? And I suppose pointing and yelling at people's faces is not rude, is that it? Why, that's like the pot calling the kettle black. Your glares won't work on me, maggot, don't even try it—I can squish you with my hands so hard you'll never get a chance to scream. And besides, snout face suits you—you eat like a piglet, so I'll call you a snout face, Snout Face."
He grated on my nerves back then. Always talking to me with that cocky smile of his.
"I have a name! Call me by my name!"
He laughed, on that day when I demanded him to call me by my name—he did so with that wide smile of his—and covered his mouth with his spidery hand. I could swear he had two pointed upper teeth on each side of his gums.
It fascinated me, surprisingly.
"Oh? Well then, let's hear it. What's the bug's name?"
Now that I think about it, there was something in his voice—his arrogance seemed to drip in his every word when he speaks, that I can tell—though there had always been something in his voice that drew me in.
"My name is Yako. Katsuragi Yako! Remember that! And I'm not a bug!"
"Oh? A name that means, 'strong child' and a surname that means, 'Judas tree'? How aptly named you are. It must be all of that food dumped on your hips. A strong child with an infinite hunger for greasy food."
Yes, he irked me. And it was only the first day of being a third grader.
"Don't make fun of me and my heritage! W-well, what's your name, then? Surely yours is funny as well!"
Only he knows how to make me mad...
"My name is not funny. Your unformed and dysfunctional brain might get blown away if I tell you. You might not take it to heart to remember it."
"Oh, it's not like I can't—hey! My brain's not unformed! My brain is working quite well!"
Only he knows how to make me go insane with his tactless words.
"Hmph. A little glutton like you will never understand."
"Hah! See? I told you you can't understand."
"That's because you didn't tell me what is it I'm supposed to not understand!"
That little laugh of his always makes me go frustrated.
"What now? You're laughing at me again!"
"You're quite amusing, I see."
"I don't see anything that's worth amusing."
His eyebrow had raised when I said that. Another expression for the always mischievous and grinning little boy.
"I meant you're amusing. Is that too much for your lonely-celled brain to decipher? Are you that daft?"
"I have lots of brain cells, thank you very much. Every human in the world has them. Why are you talking to me? I don't think I'm amusing. And I'm not daft!"
I think I said something that made him mad that day, for his thin eyebrows suddenly furrowed and he frowned at me.
"Well, I still think you're amusing. Not to mention, you look like someone who can be my playmate for the whole year. Is that all right?"
He had asked that to me sweetly, with a face that changed from that of a devil to an angel.
"...That sounds... nice."
I had agreed on that day.
"Of course it sounds nice! I had just asked your little insignificant and lowly self to be my playmate for the whole year! And that's saying something!"
"...And that something is...?"
"Hmph. You really need to sharpen that minute cranium of yours. Well, enough of that. I've decided to tell you my name, since it's only normal for two people playing together to know each other's names to have this sense of familiarity, at least."
"...Isn't that what I've been asking you for the past five minutes?"
"Nonsense. You didn't ask me properly."
He had this devious way of twisting the words of others to fit his convenience. That sly fox.
"Well then, Your Highness, what may I call you?"
"For some reason, I sense a bit of sarcasm in your squeaking noise you call a voice. But since you asked, properly this time, (and you practically called me a king!) I'll tell you who I am."
He's a manipulator, in a way. And I did not know I had walked into his trap.
"I'm Nougami Neuro—"
He told me his name that day. And in that moment, I realized—
"—and you will be my workhorse from now on!"
—that I have signed myself to the devil incarnate himself.
"H-how dare you! You can't order me around like tha—"
"Again with the finger pointing. Seriously, did you even learn a single shred of manners when you were five? I pity whoever taught you manners—they must have grovelled and vomited blood just to make you learn a single scrap of basic etiquette, which I can clearly see that you didn't apply any, if there's any."
"Ow! Don't bend my finger, you bully!"
"Hm, I think I should teach you some basic manners, that should clean up the boulders of dust in that empty head of yours."
"Hey, listen, you—"
"Rule number one. Never talk back to your superior."
"—What do you mean your superior, you dummy—"
"Rule number two. Never call people names. I thought at least you know that fact, worm. It's quite rude."
"—You're the one who started it! And you just called me a worm!"
"Rule number three. Never interrupt when someone is speaking. It's infuriating and is an insult to the speaker."
"—You're the one who's being infuriating, you—"
He sighed that day, and I remember smelling the scent of tapioca on his breath. It made me hungry despite my predicament.
"I guess I really need to teach you everything from scratch. Oh, well. At least I have something to play with."
"Wait, I'm a person, not a 'something'! I didn't even agree on anythi—"
He cackled, one that sounded too boisterous to my hearing.
"Be grateful, Katsuragi Yako! For I, the great Nougami Neuro have decided to take your insignificant existence under my wing!"
He pointed and flicked his middle finger to my nose. It hurt.
"I don't think I should be grateful for anythi—eek!"
He grabbed me by my head that day, with that wide smile of his that almost reached his ears.
"What's that? I can't hear you over this melody!"
He had put earphones in his ears, and cranked up a loud noise—rock music, perhaps—enough for me to hear it at an arm's length while he literally dragged me by my short hair. I remembered having lost more than a handful of hair that day. Farewell, my crowning glory.
"Let's go, Yako! I can't wait forever!"
It was then that I realized that he called me by my name twice. I thought it would be nice if he would always call me that. My life would have been so much better, I thought.
"I can walk perfectly fine, Neuro! Don't drag me!"
It was also then that I realized that I called him by his name for the first time since he talked to me for the past twenty minutes. And I realized his name sounded funny. "Brain eater", his surname meant. And his given name sounded like something that was taken from out of a science textbook. I never told him what I thought about his name, though. I wouldn't know what he would do to me if I insult him.
"I'll do anything I want with you! You became mine the moment you bumped into me yesterday!"
"How is that even possible? Have you forgotten I already apologized yesterday?"
He was very arrogant. He was sarcastic. He was a hypocrite to his own words.
"It's possible, Snout Face. Your contagious germs got transferred to me when you bumped into me! And don't compare me to your crust-filled brain. Of course I remember you apologized, you dog. At least you know how to say sorry."
He didn't care if he hurt someone with his sharp tongue, as long as he gets his point across.
"Of course I know how to say sorry! I have my manners, you know!"
"It doesn't look like it, though."
"That's because you're being rude to me!"
"Hah! I'm not being rude, I'm being honest around here. You're the first one to talk back to me continuously. I'm quite surprised, actually."
He was callous with his actions, it seemed. That's what I thought. But then...
I saw a glimmer of excitement in his green eyes. They had the most startling shade of green I have ever seen—a cross between that of jade and obsidian melted together.
"What? You suddenly became silent. Had enough hair loss and brain cell loss already?"
I remembered smiling at him, despite his hand being entangled painfully on my scalp as he dragged me to his side down the corridor. I could clearly hear some of my friends whispering words of pity about my situation. I shrugged them off as I looked at him and continued to smile.
"Could it be that you're happy?"
He became silent at my question, and that little hand on my hair slightly loosened its grip as he stared at me with those dark green eyes. I was thankful he let go of my hair even for a moment.
"Happy? Happy about what?"
He looked clueless then, and I laughed.
"Happy that you get to have someone to keep you company? Perhaps you were just lonely that no one was talking to you on your first week in school, so you get impatient and go on a fit about getting a new friend! Don't worry! I'll be your friend!"
"Yes! A friend! Friends help each other!"
I didn't know what came over me that day—to say such a thing to my (then) torturer.
"...You think I'm your friend?"
"...But you're my dog to play with. Not exactly the 'friend material'."
He resumed his vice grip on my head and walked towards his homeroom, my poor feet being dragged along like some ragdoll. He was merciless, I think. Always putting his ego first. That was my first impression.
"You'll be staying here."
He did everything on his own decision, uncaring for the opinion of others. I felt the heavy stares of the kids around me that day. They must have wondered what's someone like me doing in their class during lunch break. I wondered about that, too.
"I can't stay here! This is not my homeroom! And I don't have my things with me! And my food!"
"They're taken care of, piglet. Look."
He pointed his middle finger at the back of the room, where a chair was pushed far at the back, my name engraved on the wood at the top of the seat.
"You did what? Since when?"
He always did everything like he owned the world.
"How did you even do that?"
"I have my ways."
He had smiled at me, then. At least, I thought it was a smile. It was a face of something between mischievousness and sadistic amusement. His lips almost reached his ears, his grin wide and it almost split his face. His teeth beamed at me again, and I was right—he hadtwo sharp upper teeth on each end of his gums. His eyes gleamed at me as he dragged (forced) me to sit at the chair that held my name. The kids were whispering amongst themselves, the words, "poor girl" reverberating continuously in my ears.
But even so...
"This is your new homeroom, snail."
"...I see you have given me a new name—hey! How can this be my homeroom? I'm three classrooms away!"
...I can tell that he's lonely. Those eyes seem to said so. And those eyes—
"I've arranged it with the teacher so that you'll be in my every class. Isn't that fun?"
"What! You just did what?"
"...You don't like it?"
—those eyes seemed to hide sadness. I always wonder why. He seemed happy enough... I think.
"...You don't like it?"
"Of course I don't like it! You just suddenly got up to me and dragged me to—"
"...You really don't like it?"
I blame that "kicked puppy look" face of his. It was always that face that did me to succumb to his sadistic whims. Those eyes would go large and watery, his pointer finger poised on his bottom lip as he pouted and he would occasionally sniff. He's a great actor.
Guess what he did after I (bravely) said that word?
...He bit my forehead. Hard.
"Waaah! Jun-sensei! He bit me! He bit my forehead!"
"Neuro! I thought I told you not to go biting other people's foreheads! That's unhygienic and rude!"
Nevertheless, even after being scolded, his blank smile and those hollow green eyes stared at me with amusement, it didn't seem like he listened to the teacher's rants at all.
Though, even after that incident, and after he got scolded by the homeroom teacher and got jeered at by his classmates (I was looking at him from the doorway, too scared of him and his teeth), he turned to me—
"Come play with me again tomorrow!"
—and smiled, a real one, at that.
His very existence intrigued me, for some reason. And despite all of my classmates saying that they felt pity for my situation with the "forehead-nomming kid", and warned me about not to get close to him—I defied all of that.
"Ah! See? I knew you'd come crawling back to me with your tail between your legs like the mangy dog that you are! Now, get to work! You need to clean up this mess!"
"...I see no mess around this room, though. It's quite clean, actually—"
"...There, now it's dirty!"
"You just threw that pile of trash on the table! Clean that up, you filth!"
"...Did you say something, dishrag?"
"...Nothing. nothing at all, your majesty."
"Good. Now, clean it up!"
...Though there are times that I wondered why I had put up with him and his verbal abuse after all these years, never taking his piercing words to heart.
"Good. Here's a reward for your hard work, you mutt."
"Ah! Meat buns!"
There are also times when I think that he seemed like another person entirely—showing his rare caring side from time to time.
"Eat them well. I had put a decent amount of liquid paraffin in those buns. No, wait. Maybe I had put in the whole bottle. Dunno."
He's infuriating, and yet—
"It's getting late. Shall I walk you home?"
"...What's in it for you, this time?"
"Nothing much. I just have some time on my hands after doing that science homework."
"...You'll really walk me home?"
"Of course. What do you think of me? A bully who will taunt you when you're weak and crying all over the floor like some slab of dead meat?"
"...Uh, yeah. Kind of."
"How rude. I was trying to be nice to you like I did every day."
"...When did that happen?"
...'When did that happen', indeed.
"Did you notice something lately, Yako?"
"Hm? Notice what?"
"...And here I thought you might have grown a brain cell or two..."
"Just tell me already."
"Did you notice something about little girls being kidnapped around midday?"
That question had me thinking at that time. I thought it was just a cruel joke on his part, but—
—even I had heard of that news. I heard it from my mother.
"I have heard of it. Why?"
"No reason. I just wanted to ask. Because the usual time when they were kidnapped occurred between four to five o'clock. Just like now."
"...You've been asking that word to me lately. Maybe you have gotten deaf or something. Or maybe you really need some nourishment for that miniscule brain of yours. Would you like some bird poo?"
"Do not want!"
I never knew what went on in that mind of his; what makes him tick. I always thought of him as a bully, always wanting to see the pain of others with glee as he laughed away their misery.
...Until that day.
"I can't just leave you alone!"
"I said run, you worm! They'll get you if you don't drag your smelly butt out of here!"
I ran away from him. It happened a few days after he warned me about the kidnappings. Since I met him, he had been pestering me, following me, and walking me home every day.
I didn't know where he lived. I always thought he lived nearby, for he always walked me to my house.
It only happened once—on that day that we didn't walk together—because he got scolded again by the teacher for biting his classmate's forehead (it was his favorite habit, it seemed). I couldn't wait for him at that time because my mom wanted me to do some errands before she leaves the next day for another trip from her work.
It only happened once. And before I knew it...
I got dragged away by six men all clad in black.
"I thought I told you to run, you snail."
"But I really can't leave you alone!"
I didn't know what he did to my captors. I didn't even know how he found out about my location, let alone how he knew about my situation. All I know was that when I saw him outside the building, he was covered in soot and blood and swollen bruises were littered on his little arms. In his hand was a faucet pipe. I didn't dare to ask what he did with it.
"I see you did some damage here as well!"
"I only followed what you taught me!"
During the times that we walked together, he would always tell me things about how to do self-defense. I never knew why he told me those things—and yet I listened, even though I always believed nothing will ever happen to me.
I felt grateful for his presence—for meeting him, I was thankful.
"Good! I see that you've finally grown a brain cell!"
"Yeah, I've—hey! Stop it with the insults already!"
That blank smile was stuck in his face again, and before I knew it, I closed my eyes and my shoulders instinctively hunched. That hand was about to crush my skull again.
"Keep on growing, Yako."
I was mistaken. He—
"I hope that someday you'll become a human."
"What are you talking about? I'm already a human, Neuro."
"I meant that in a figurative way. Right now, you're still a leech."
He laughed. A loud, booming laugh as he threw away that disturbing faucet pipe.
And he pat my head. Twice. And he smiled.
"You're my leech, though."
He was infuriating, and yet—
"I don't intend to give anyone what belongs to me."
"...I was never yours to begin with."
"You're still my property whether you like it or not."
"You'll never let go of that topic, will you."
"Of course not. I'll repeat it again and again until my words will sink into your smaller-than-amoeba-sized brain."
"...My brain's not that small."
"It is. If it were not, you would've just admitted it that you're my property—"
"—Which I'm not."
"...You don't like it...?"
"Don't give me that puppy face again!"
—and yet when his bruised hand held mine—
"I'll walk you home, just as I promised."
"—I felt secure."
Yako smiled, "—And that's how I met him!"
She looked at the girl with bright hazel eyes, her wide smile of what she assumed was awe captivating Yako's gaze.
"So? Where is your friend, mama?" she asked as she hopped, her stuffed bunny with bright red eyes being held tightly in her death grip. Yako giggled.
"I'm sure you know him quite well. Enoguh of that for now, I need to make dinner. What would you like?"
An awkward laugh. "...That... is quite a vague description on your menu, you know."
"But that's also your answer when someone asks you about your favorite food!"
"I see you're becoming quite observant as time goes by."
"Of course! I've picked up your abilities, right? You said so before!"
"Right, right. Now, help me up, all right?"
"And then you'll continue your story?"
"You really want to hear the rest of it?"
"Yes, please! I want to know how the two of you got close or something! I've never met a man in my life who'll act gallant like that and would sacrifice his life for his friend!"
She laughed, a dainty hand covering her tiny lips, "Why does it sound like you're comparing this to a fairy tale?"
"That's because I've never met a man who acts like that."
"You're only seven. You'll meet many boys in the future."
"But you were seven when you met him!"
A tight-lipped smile graced Yako's features, and she laughed as she patted the child's blonde hair. "I can never win against you, can't I?" The child nodded in haste as a response. Yako giggled, "Oh, all right. Just help me up before he comes back and I'll continue the story!"
Shall I continue? Yes? No? Tell me~! :D