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:Hm, this is the last chappie. Short, I know. But please do read the A/N at the end. :D Oh, and to Lascka, Ishigaki already made a brief appearance in chapter one—he's only mentioned, though. He's Neuro (and Yako's) homeroom teacher. Pity for him, I know. XD
And to clear things up, the word, "musume" means "daughter" and "nanashi" means, "nameless". 8D
Chapter 3: Fabula, Story
The child of seven stood up and jumped her way to her father with her half-mooned smile. The man, who stood expectantly—proudly, should Yako add—smiled his wide and fanged smile at the squealing child and lifted her up—throwing her two feet in the air in the process.
"N-Neuro! I thought I told you not to throw her in the ai—"
"Whee! Whee! Mama, look! Whee! I'm flying!"
"...I'll shut up now."
"How's my maggot number two today?"
"Whee! Just—waa!—fine, papa! Mama's telling me a story about a good friend of hers! Whee!" the child's hands remained outstretched as she was thrown up in the air, and when Neuro heard his daughter's explanation, he stopped his ministrations.
"Hm? A good friend of my snail?" he asked, and he looked at the smiling Yako standing in front of him.
"Is it that girl with the penchant for always treating you to new restaurants? That Kana-onna-something," he brought the child back to the solid floor as he talked, much to the little girl's dismay.
"Kanae. Her name's Kanae, why do you always forget? And no, it's not about her. And don't throw her too high next time."
"Meh, whatever you say, leech."
"You'll never outgrow that degrading name-calling of yours, will you?"
"You'll never grow out of that constant growling stomach of yours, will you?"
"But papa says it's his way of showing he cares!" intervened the girl, who now sat happily on Yako's chair, eating her food.
Yako knew that she shouldn't scold her daughter's insatiable appetite—it was in her genes, after all—so she didn't. Instead, she decided to glare at her husband who was widely grinning at her.
"You told her what?"
"Exactly as she said," and he smiled that blank smile of his as he moved over to the table and took his share of food.
When Yako didn't move from where she stood, her eyebrow slightly raised, he sighed and dragged Yako by her arm and pushed her back to the chair beside him.
"Neuro! What's that for?"
"Hm. I want to know who this 'friend' is. So it's not that woman. I suppose it's that one that's always on TV?" he asked as he chewed on the sukiyaki on his plate, looking at her with a raised eyebrow as he did so. He ignored her previous question. Before Yako could reply, however, a little voice spoke up.
"Mama says it's a male friend!"
And she resumed eating her twenty-fifth serving, oblivious to a wide-eyed and babbling Yako and a wide-eyed and smiling Neuro.
"Oh? So it's a male?" the green-eyed man asked with a fanged smile. He eyed the wide-mouthed woman beside him, and his smile turned into a face-splitting grin.
"It's not what you think!" was what she blurted as soon as he asked that question. She knew how evil that imagination of his could get, and knowing him for almost all of her life, she's quite sure he's thinking something about 'punishing whoever gets in the way of making Yako his', or maybe even something about 'punishing Yako for paying a sliver of attention to another man other than him'... something like that.
"Oh? Would you care to explain, louse of mine?"
So this time, it's the 'punishing Yako for paying a sliver of attention to another man other than him' part. Although, that's not really the case now, is it?
She mumbled under her breath, and he had to inch closer to her face to hear her properly, his nose touching hers.
"I'm sorry, I didn't hear that."
She forgot how even after all these years he's still sadistic. It's a part of his nature, it seems. And she knew that he heard what she said. Damn him.
"...I said, 'I told her about you'."
And Neuro beamed like a child as he leaned away from her, and his fist collided with his palm in a soft clap.
"Oh, I see! No wonder you looked like a huge and ugly red pimple right now! You told our dear daughter about my fantastic and majestic self! How nice of you, Pimple."
Yako visibly flattened and her eye almost twitched, "...So I'm being demoted to a pimple now—"
"Rejoice, Musume! For I will tell you the story of how your snail-sized mother here fell for my manly charms!"
"(...More like, 'demonic charms'...)"
"Did you say something, pillbug?"
"N-nothing at all!"
And the little girl cheered as she ate her tenth plate of dumplings.
"Yay! Papa gets to tell me their story!"
Neuro turned to the still silently weeping Yako, and his wide grin widened even more, "So, Maggot. Where did you stop?"
It was our last day of elementary school, and lots of snot-nosed kids with their bawling parents were bustling around, saying whatever insignificant comments that comes to their inept minds.
I did not care for their sappy cries of joy and sadness. I just wanted to find that little pig of mine.
When I found her, she was on the school grounds talking to someone that initially looked stupid to me.
Heh. Well, he was already certainly stupid for trying to touch my property in the first place.
...And that crust-filled hand was on my dishrag's shoulder.
I'd say he's got some king-sized sacks of scrotum for doing that.
"Ya-chan, I just wanted to say something."
"Hm? Oh? Do I know you?"
"Uh, I'm one of your friends, remember?"
"...The one who's always with Kana-chan."
"Oh! Yes, yes. I remember. Nanashi-san, correct?"
"Uh, yes. You see, I... I've been wanting to tell you this for a long time."
I hid behind a sakura tree while I listened to them talking. That silly maggot of mine only smiled and nodded for him to continue.
That oblivious little worm did not know that ragboy's intention that day. He was going to—
"I like Ya-chan!"
—That disgusting and dirty little nutsack confessed! And she just smiled! She just smiled!
To say the least, I wanted to wring out his intestines and use it as a mop for his cobwebbed brain. That was my property he was wanting to take. And I don't share my property.
"O-oh. I see. That's it?"
She hummed. I didn't know why. It must be because of her brain malfunctioning for a proper response. I don't blame her. I mean, no one ever confessed to her. And we were only eleven. And that dog-in-heat of a boy wanted to court her. I bet he's not even circumcised!
What a loon.
"That's your response?"
"Of course. I said it's all right, didn't I? That you like me. It's only natural since we're you're a friend of my friend."
"So is that a yes or a no—wait, what?"
"Yes or no on what? Oh! Have I misunderstood something?"
Despite her deep understanding of human behavior in later years, she proved to be powerless at eleven. Her brain was an underdeveloped fetus—sadly, it remained underdeveloped until today. (Hey!)
There are times on which her more primitive-than-stone-age brain proved to be useful. That incident was one.
And sometimes, her unborn brain cell way of thinking amused me to an extent.
...I really had to intervene before she could say something that would make me rip off their necks with my nails.
"Your response to my confession?"
Because she was only eleven, her experience was lacking in terms of dealing with others.
Until now, she lacks coherent thoughts. (Hey! That's rude!)
"Yeah! You're supposed to answer me with a yes or a no! That's how it happens in a shoujo manga!"
"...You're reading shoujo manga?"
Gyahahaha! What a foolish little tick! He thinks life is a like a manga!
How insufferably stupid.
"N-no, I don't!"
What a big, ugly slab of a lie.
"Then how do you know of it?"
A good question from the little maggot. Sometimes she uses that lonely brain cell of hers. It does her good from time to time.
And because that pitiful mess and sorry excuse for a human being was being inadvertently rejected by your gullible and oblivious mother here, I finally decided to interrupt and laugh secretly at his miserable face.
"Ah, Yako! There you are!"
"I've been looking for you."
"Yup. I told you before I'm going to take you to that candy store after the ceremony, right?"
"Oh, Neuro! You really meant that?"
I had taken her attention away from that sweaty-faced frog. That was easy.
And that fat kid looked like he was about to cry. I smiled even more at his pathetic face.
"Oh, right. Before I forget—Neuro, this is Nanashi-san, one of Kanae's friends. (I don't really know him, though)."
"Hm? A friend of Kana-onna? Then why is he talking to you and not to her?"
"He said he likes me. And her name is Kanae. Get it right, Neuro."
She really is oblivious at times. Or maybe because her brain cells stopped regenerating. Either way, I liked the look on that boy's awful face. A mixture of sweat and snot and tears and snivel and drool—I don't know why he had drool in the first place.
"Oh? He said he likes you? And what makes him think that he should like you?"
"Neuro, not this agai—"
"Listen here, No Name. You and your silly words and actions of trying to woo her won't work. The only thing this maggot has her eyes on is her love for food—and I can clearly see that you're not a piece of food, unless you're secretly a mutated half-breed of an animal and a human, and I can clearly see that's not the case, either. Not to mention, you need to wipe your face with a rug. It's hideous. Now, scram, you swine."
"Neuro, you're going too far agai—"
"And you're being too soft again. How many times must I tell you not to talk to any boys other than me? They might take advantage of you and your lack of common sense. 'That' incident might happen again and—"
"No one will take advantage of me! It won't happen again!"
"And how can you be so sure, maggot?"
"Because you're with me!"
'Because you're with me,' she said.
It was all the words I needed to rub it in that kid's face.
"Did you hear that, Sniveler? She trusts me. Not you, but me."
And the thumb-faced kid ran off crying like a banshee. It was a success.
"What was that for!"
"I was protecting you, Snout-Face!"
"Protecting me by how? Did you see how miserable he looked?"
—it was the reason our first fight began.
It wasn't that serious, though.
"Yeah. I liked how he bawled. Like some pig being sliced with a knife."
"Apologize to him!"
"You heard me, Forehead-Biter. Apologize to him!"
"And I should do that because...?"
"You had hurt his feelings!"
"Hah! His feelings? Why are you making it sound like I'm the one who rejected him? And don't you dare put homosexual references here, you louse."
"What? I rejected him? Rejected him on what?"
Foolish, oblivious, and too kind. That's what she was.
"...You mean you really don't know, you no-brain?"
"If I did, I wouldn't have asked you, right."
...Her stupidity surprises me at times. (Sorry for being stupid, then.)
"He was trying to make you his girlfriend."
"Not only your brain needs refreshing, but also your ears."
"His girlfriend? Me?"
"Did you say 'yes'?"
"I didn't say anything about that."
"Good. Because if you did—I would crush his skull to his peni—"
"I don't think I really need to know the rest of that, Neuro."
A foolish and naïve little girl.
"Well? Will you do it?"
"To that poor boy!"
"Meh. Do I have to...?"
"Of course you have to. And don't pull that puppy-eyes look on me."
At some point in our elementary days, we learned how to co-exist with each other. She learned how to retaliate to my words. I learned how to to bribe her to my whims. It still baffles me to this day how we did it successfully despite our clash in personalities—co-existing, I mean.
"But we don't even know where he went. He must have gone home and hid under his bed, wallowing in his pathetic misery."
"I give up. You won't apologize, will you?"
Neuro remained insufferable and stubborn and refused to 'bow down to a level of a person with a mind lower than that of a leech'. In the end, we couldn't find him. He really must have gone home that day and wallowed in his misery like he said. (I told you so.)
"You really irritate me, you know that?"
"I know. And yet you haven't shunned me away. I wonder why is that?"
"'...Why is that', indeed."
"What happened next, Papa? Did that boy stop pursuing Mama?"
The tall man smiled, his two pointed teeth visible as he spoke.
"Obviously. Look at where she is now. I guess I manipulated her to what I want after all this time."
"You always do that, you know."
"Heh. I know."
I took her to the candy store after the graduation ceremony just as I promised.
She looked like an idiot when she ate her fill of sweets—
(I did not!)
"Neuro? Where do you live, by the way?"
She asked me that question that same day. Her mother walked us home—she gave me this hand-sized caramel...
At least, I thoughtit was caramel. Until I took a bite of it.
It was actually a small cake—it was too hard to eat so I threw it on Yako's head when her mother was not looking.
The maggot's expression was priceless.
"In a house, obviously."
"I know you live in a house, Neuro. What I meant to say was 'where' as in the location of your house."
"Oh. Silly Yako. You should've specified it at the beginning."
"I thought that was a very obvious question."
"Well, you're obviously wrong."
He didn't call me any degrading names at that time. Maybe it was because of my mother's presence.
He was trying to play the "good boy" act.
It worked on my mom. Not for me. (Of course.)
"Yako, be specific in your questions. I'm sorry, Neuro. My daughter can be such a klutz sometimes."
"Hahaha! Don't worry, Katsuragi-san. I'm used to it."
"(Why are you forcing yourself to be a nice boy?)"
"Hm? Did you say something, Yako?"
"Nothing. Nothing at all."
He pinched me on the cheek as soon as my mom turned away to open the door to our condo unit, that blank smile stuck on his face again. I tried not to squirm and yell in pain.
And as soon as Mother tucked the keys in her purse and turned to us, he was already holding my hand with a child-like smile on his face.
"Aww. Neuro, you're such a sweet little boy. Yako, be nice to him, all right?"
I held her hand and smiled as I walked into their home for the first time since I met her.
"Neuro. Can you stay over tonight? We have food enough for the five of us as a celebration for you and Yako finishing elementary together!"
"Yes. You, Yako, me, her father and Sonobe, our househelp. That's for five people, right? Don't worry, Seiichi will be here soon. He brought more food for us."
"...But there's already too much food on the table. Are you sure we can—oh."
"I want that steak!"
"Never mind. Oh, and thank you, Katsuragi-san."
"Don't mention it. Take it as a small payment for saving my daughter that day."
Her mother mentioned that incident again.
I kept silent and smiled instead.
"Oh? So you're Neuro, eh? The one who saved my daughter on that day?"
"I can't believe someone as young as you have such a heart of a brave young man. I should make you into my future son-in-law!"
"What? He's a good candidate for you!"
The betrothal jokes began on that day. I smiled while the little maggot reddened like an oversized pimple.
"I think you two will be a great couple someday."
While Neuro laughed along with my parents' jokes, he—
"I hope we will."
—he held my hand discreetly beneath the table.
"What are you doing there?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?"
"I dunno. Making a nest?"
"Pft. Shut it, piglet."
After eating and talking about little things, Father led Neuro to my room where he took an extra futon and some pillows and blankets from the cabinet and laid it on the floor. We had no spare rooms, and it would be rude if we made him sleep on the couch—so Father arranged our beds at each end of the room to prevent anything from happening.
"...You're taking all of my pillows and blankets."
And yet, even after my father left after arranged the beds for us, he re-arranged the futon and the blankets and pillows.
He had this weird way of making his bed. It looked like he was making a nest. Really.
He was fluffing out every pillow and arranged them in a circle around him. I don't know why he did that. (Don't ask, snail.)
"I can see that, worm."
"Why are you taking them?"
"So I won't get cold, stupid."
"But then I'll get cold!"
"That's your problem, louse."
He took every warm blanket and soft pillows in my room and put all of them on his futon. He fluffed all of them and stuffed it beneath his feet and his head—some were arranged in a circle around him. The blankets were wrapped around his feet like he had a fever—and I was left being frozen in my own room. Mother and Father insisted that he should stay for the night because it's too dangerous for a "sweet and innocent little boy" to go alone. Neuro called his caretaker that night, and she told him it was all right for him to stay.
If only she knew he's not all smiles and innocence.
"Hey, wake up."
"You were having a nightmare, idiot."
"No, I wasn't."
"Yes, you were. You were rolling and tossing like a dust bunny."
"That's because I can't find a comfortable position to keep myself warm."
"Yes. You took my blankets and pillows, remember?"
"So it's my fault, then?"
"Of course it's all your faul—"
Because she interrupted my precious sleep, I did the only thing I could to make her shut up.
"There. Better now?"
—I shared her my blanket and my pillow.
...Of course it's originally hers. But I was the one using it so I called it mine.
'Snuggling', I think it's called. She snuggled to me, and she was hogging all my space.
...Not that I mind.
"...Silly piglet fell asleep already."
...That was my first time being um—close—to a boy.
Good thing Mother and Father didn't find out. We woke up earlier than them—because it was a Saturday. It would be bad if they had found out.
Good thing he didn't drop a bomb on telling them the next day.
(And why should I tell them about our prepubescent escapades?)
(Nougami Neuro! Not in front of the child! And nothing happened that night!)
"Take care of my baby for me, Neuro! I know you will!"
"Yako! Be home before five!"
To say the least, he took care of me—in his own sadistic way.
I took care of her—monopolized her—until I have her completely wrapped around my finger. I never heard her complain once, though. She tolerated my torture and provocation.
"What is it, maggot?"
"...I see you returned to your name-calling habit."
"Neuro? Do you think—that—what they say will come true?"
"What my mother and father said last night. About that couple thing. We're too young, right?"
"...'Of course', what?"
"Of course. Of course we're too young. And—"
"And of course it will come true. You are mine, after all."
"But I belong to myself—"
"You belong to me the moment you bumped into me."
"But that was—"
He wormed his way to my life and greedily took every inch of space in my heart—making it his own.
"We'll be late for your daily dose of gluttony, snail. Hurry up."
"Ah! Wait for me! Takoyakiii!"
He dragged my hand—
I dragged her hand—
And I looped her existence to my life.
He carved his existence in my life.
"It was fate, I guess."
"It's a mystery, I guess."
Musume looked at her parents in awe.
"Mama and Papa slept together before they got married?"
Yako stood, her cheeks red in humiliation as she glared at the grinning man beside her, "No! You misunderstood, Musume! Neuro! Tell her nothing happened!"
"Nothing happened... in her room."
There was a pregnant pause—muffled only by Yako's whimpers of defeat—and Musume spoke.
"...So. Can I sleep with a guy I like—"
And the couple's eyes widened and they slammed their fists on the table in unison—voices echoing in chorus as they simultaneously yelled.
And little Musume blinked and smiled and laughed, her little pearly teeth being seen by the world as she giggled, and she tried not to accidentally bite her lips—as she so often does whenever she laughed too much. The appearance of her upper teeth and the color and length of her hair resembled her father's, the sharp intuition and the hue of her eyes came from her mother. The broad and inquisitive mind of hers came from both of her parents. A true Nougami child.
"Someday, I want to meet someone who's like Papa! And I'll make that boy my husband!"
Yako only laughed and Neuro grinned.
"I doubt you could meet anyone who's as majestic as me, maggot number two."
"Neuro, I think Musume needs to get some rest."
"But Mama, there's this show coming on—"
"Do you really have to watch that—"
"It's about food!"
Neuro looked at the tight-lipped Yako, and he fought with his inner self not to laugh.
"...All right. One hour."
And she ran off with a happy cry, the story of her parents' early days still fresh in her mind as she plopped down in front of the TV and watched the cooking channel. Tonight's episode was about French cuisine. Lovely.
In the dining room, a soft sigh was heard from the brown-eyed woman, a small pout gracing her lips as she crossed her arms.
Neuro sensed something was wrong with his little maggot.
"What's wrong, Slug?"
"You know what's wrong. You didn't have to tell her that. Now our child thinks it's normal for girls to sleep with boys still in their childhood."
"You started that. I finished it."
"...You didn't have to tell her that I snuggled up to you."
"Heh. Embarrassed now, Snail?"
"I'll help you clean this mess you made with the plates. And then we'll talk later about this."
"...I give up."
She stood up and walked over to the fridge, eyeing the last slice of chocolate cake she bought yesterday.
Just as when she was about to get the fork, a soft cheek and a slightly pointed chin met her shoulder. Yako looked at her husband—she was greeted with a wide grin and a blank pair of eyes.
"I suppose we have to tell Musume how she got conceived?"
Oh dear. I just have to put his perversion in. XDDD Ahem. Anyway, it got different than what I had imagined it to be. :o I'm planning to write a sequel to this—this is the prologue to the story. It will be a different story (not really) but it will be set on the time after they graduated in elementary school—thus, a sequel. And because it's only after their elementary years, it means no Musume yet. XD
Thank you for reading! :D