It was most certainly not a dark night, what with the lights the local fair was giving off. The din from the creaky old rides combined with the chatter of small families and large groups arguing on the price of tickets and who gets to go on which ride meant that it wasn't a quiet night, either. The scents of sugar-coated cakes and musky barbeque mingled in the warm summer night air, entrancing anyone passing by, driving more and more people to want to take part in the fair's events. Seto and Sai weren't much different than said passerby.
Seto and Sai were around sixteen, and they had been best friends for about a year. They met when Seto's parents had taken him to some hotel for a vacation into the woods; turns out Sai worked in the hotel's restaurant in the summer, but she lived fairly close to Seto's home. In fact, they even went to the same school! They had become extremely close since that day, taking frequent walks around the countryside and just talking.
Seto loved just having someone to talk to; he was a bit of a loner at school, and didn't have very good people skills. Then again, so was Sai, but she had an older boyfriend named Shin that she spent a lot of her time with, sometimes bailing on her plans with Seto to hang out with him. And every time, Seto would just feel more and more alone.
Tonight they were having another one of their walks when they both curiously followed the noise of a familiar pop song blasting and the scent of peanuts to a large fair that was apparently happening.
"Sai, did you know there was a fair tonight?" Seto asked, a bit confused. Sai giggled, jumping up and down and clapping.
"Of course! Shin and I were supposed to go together, but he had another one of his science club meetings. Lame." Sai rolled her eyes, running towards the entrance gate. Seto laughed. One thing Seto always noticed when Sai ran was she was very light on her feet, and ran so it almost appeared that she was floating.
"Wait! Do you even have any money to get in? I brought a fifty dollar bill, but…" he stopped, hesitating near the front entrance of the fair.
"You're going to pay for me, stupid! You're a guy, aren't you?" Sai teased, sticking her tongue out and fixing her hair so it covered her eye like usual. Seto rolled his eyes at her and shrugged. Why the hell not, he thought to himself as he paid the girl with the flowers in her hair at the ticket booth for ten tickets, ten for him and ten for Sai. She took them from Seto and smiled, thanking him.
They walked around the fair for a little while, admiring the dangerous-looking roller coaster, the dilapidated old statues of clowns and large pigs, and they also played a few games. Seto won a large locket from one of the crane machines, grinning triumphantly as he snapped it around his neck. Sai pouted as she didn't win anything.
"Hey, Seto, I'm going to the bathroom, okay? Wait here for me!" Sai said after they had just passed by the Ferris wheel.
"Mm-hm." Seto said, nodding and standing there, shrugging. Girls take a while in the bathroom, thought Seto. Might as well take a look at some of the stuff around here.
If only Seto had noticed he had been being followed closely for the past few minutes, he wouldn't have been as freaked out when someone suddenly appeared in front of him as if they were patiently waiting for Sai to leave. A boy who looked about a year older than him was standing there, his hands on his hips, his mouth pulled down in a small frown. He was wearing a lot of purple; a purple collared shirt, purple hat, and red shorts with tall purple boots. He was also wearing a yellow scarf with a feather pinned to it. But the oddest thing about the taller boy to Seto wasn't his flamboyant outfit; but his yellow, cat-like eyes. They seemed to be silently mocking him.
"Who're you?" the taller boy asked, to Seto's bewilderment.
"Wha—but you just— I'm Seto." Seto said, his eyes narrowed in suspicion.
"Se-to, huh?" said the taller, leaning in so close to Seto that it almost made Seto uncomfortable, feeling the other's quick breaths on his face. "What a lame name."
What's this guy's deal? What kind of person just walks up to you and asks who you are, only to call your name stupid? I don't even know this guy! Seto thought, gritting his teeth.
"Anyways, you can call me Crow. C-R-O-W." the other boy said, tipping his hat. Seto made a small noise of understanding in the back of his throat before backing away a little bit. I'm the one with the lame name? he thought. Crow huffed and advanced in on the smaller boy, closing the space between them obnoxiously.
"You here alone?" Crow asked, narrowing his own eyes.
"N-no." Seto said as his eyes darted around, searching for an escape.
"So you're here on a date?"
"I didn't say that either!" Seto said, blushing and looking at everything but Crow's piercing glare. Crow huffed one more before leaning back, looking Seto up and down until his eyes fell upon his locket. With cat-like reflexes, he grabbed the locket straight from Seto's neck.
"Hey! Give me back my locket!" Seto said, distraught and reaching for the locket that Crow was dangling high above Seto's head. Crow laughed in a bullying manner and took off running with long strides.
"If you want it back, come and get it. Tally ho!" Crow shouted, leaping around a corner and out of sight. After Seto watched him leave, shocked, Sai laid a hand on Seto's shoulder.
"Who the heck was that guy?" Sai asked as Seto turned around to face her. Seto had jumped a little when he felt Sai's presence. Seto looked off into the direction Crow had gone.
"Crow," Seto said, nodding. "His name's Crow. And he took my locket." Sai gasped a little, shocked.
"What? A thief?" Sai asked, biting her lip. "We can report him, you know." Seto shook his head a little bit at her final words.
"No, I'm going after him. You wait here, okay?" Seto said and Sai nodded, assuring him that she was just going to take a ride on the Ferris wheel and she wouldn't be far if she got off and decided to do something else. So Seto took off in search of the raven-haired boy, deciding to consult the nearby map of the area before running off to chase him. He was currently in the northern part of the fair, and Crow seemed to have gone in the direction of the roller coaster to the right. Swallowing, he dashed off to the right, dodging other fair-goers as he ran, almost knocking the cotton candy out of a silver-haired teenage girl's hand.
"Ah, sorry." he apologized, smiling at her. She gave him a look.
"You're Seto, right?" she asked suddenly. Something was familiar about her, he realized as he nodded. "I'm Ren. From your homeroom class." She said, grinning. Seto grinned again.
"That's right! Sorry, I forgot. I didn't recognize you out of your school uniform." he said, scratching his neck. She looked just a bit offended, and he blushed, embarrassed. Damn my awkward social skills, Seto thought, crossing his arms across his chest.
"Anyways, I guess I'll see you soon." she said absently, about to turn around before Seto realized something and put a hand on her shoulder. The look she gave him when she turned around made him jerk his hand back, mortified.
"Ah, I was just wondering if you wanted to keep my friend Sai company," he said, getting more and more flustered by the second. Her intimidating glare was freaking him out just a little. Obviously she did not like being touched. "I'm chasing after a thief and she's going to be alone for a little bit. Do you think you could just keep her occupied? I know it's a lot to ask." To Seto's surprise, Ren grinned at him and nodded.
"Sure! I mean, I know Sai. I talked to her briefly in the bathroom earlier. I can hang with her. Not like I'm doing anything else." Ren shrugged. Seto smiled with gratitude, the scared expression wiped off his face.
"Great! Thanks a lot, Ren. See you in homeroom?" asked Seto, awkwardly shaking Ren's hand. She shook it back; her face lit up as she said a goodbye and bounced off to go find Sai. Seto as he remembered what he was supposed to be doing and ran off to go find Crow, who he realized was probably somewhere far away by now, as he had just been distracted for a few minutes.
He walked further and further, searching left and right for the locket thief until he finally felt tired and he sat down on a bench, leaning his head back and staring up at the swirling night sky. The moon was large and full, and the stars were all in full view. It was actually, in his opinion, a perfect night. He was suddenly jolted back to reality when someone coughed next to him. When Seto turned around fast to see who had occupied the empty space next to him on the bench, he turned away quickly when he realized it was Crow.
"Giving up so easily? I thought I would get a little more fun out of you." Crow teased. Seto looked at him finally when he realized Crow's voice was kind. Crow was smiling slightly with his teeth showing, and Seto observed that Crow's canines were sharp.
"Yeah, I give up. You win. Sorry." Seto said, smiling a little bit with him. Something about Crow's kind expression made him feel comfortable with the other. They then both laughed together, and by this time, they had both forgotten about the locket. Crow instinctively put an arm around Seto, who was a bit surprised at this new development.
"Why?" Seto asked briefly.
"Well, I just figured we're friends now. You know, the night's beautiful." Crow said a bit off-topic. Seto looked at him, confused.
"Yeah, I guess it is. But why do you want to be friends with… me?" Seto said, his shoulders slumping a little bit. Nobody he had ever met had ever showed him this kind of affection, and although it felt nice, it was also… new to him. He had never had that many friends, so did this make Crow his best friend? The whole concept of best friends was a whole weird thing to him. Sai was his best friend, but she hadn't been acting like it since she had started dating Shin. But he just met Crow! He shook his head, not knowing what to think.
"Because you looked like you could use a guy friend. You don't have one, do you?" Crow asked, pulling his arm out from around Seto and into his pocket. He pulled out the locket.
"My locket!" Seto gasped happily.
"Yeah, I'm sorry for taking it from you." Crow said with a bit of an embarrassed smile. Seto nodded.
"It's okay." Seto smiled at him. "Thank y-!" he was suddenly cut off by a chaste kiss to the lips from Crow, who was smirking into Seto's mouth.
Seto pulled away quickly, recoiling. He nearly fell off the bench, even. His lips were pulled down in a tight little frown as he tried to wipe the spit off his mouth. Crow pulled back a little too, feeling shocked and embarrassed at Seto's reaction.
"What the… what the heck was that?" Seto asked, his eyes wide from the initial shock of the kiss.
"What?" Crow averted his eyes. "We're friends now, and friends give each other kisses. I… read that." Crow folded his arms over his chest. Seto didn't exactly buy it.
"But that was my first kiss ever!" Seto said, flustered. He suddenly felt mortified; he just shouted the fact that he had been a sixteen-year-old kissing virgin out loud in front of a whole crowd of people. Even though nobody even turned a hair, he still blushed up to his ears.
"Well I guess that makes me your number-one buddy. Best friends, right?" asked Crow, extending his hand for Seto to shake it. Seto took it, smiling a little, forgetting about the kiss.
"Yeah, best friends." he shook Crow's hand firmly as Crow helped him up from the bench.
They talked for a while after that; exchanging contact info, making promises to keep in touch after they parted. Turns out Crow went to the rival school right down the street from Seto's school, and lived a mere twenty minutes away from his own house. Well of course we live close to each other, thought Seto. Best friends always see each other again.
After a bit of searching for Ren and Sai, they basically gave up; they figured the two girls had probably gone off to some weird other part of the fair where they couldn't be seen, or maybe they had gotten on a ride or something. Either way, they didn't want to look any longer, so they decided to go inside of a small tent that was apparently selling shiny knick-knacks from around the world. The store was called The Princess' Treasure Trove, and although the name of the store was a bit girly, Crow really wanted to go in. So Seto followed him inside the candle-lit tent, being careful not to knock anything over on the way in. He walked past what looked like a wall shiny plastic swords. Crow was entranced, drawn to the shininess of the blades, staring in awe. Seto rolled his eyes a bit at how enchanted Crow seemed and he took a gander at the table in the middle of the store. The table was host to cat toys, vitamins, and a lot of other weird things that didn't seem to belong in a fair.
"Care to barter, my lad?" said an obnoxious voice that came from the far corner of the tent. A peculiar man in a large chicken suit approached, carting around a baby carriage. "I know my getup seems a bit strange, but it's just for the freakshow later tonight. You and your little friend should come see the show."
"Have you seen a silver-haired girl and her friend walk in her earlier?" Seto asked curiously, observing what looked like a slingshot sitting on the corner of the table.
"Why yes, I did happen to see them. They went to the roller coaster." the merchant said, tilting his head slightly.
"Thanks. Come on, Crow, let's go." Seto said, turning around to face the taller boy who seemed to be sneakily putting on a ring with a silver skull.
"Are you going to pay for that, boy?" asked the merchant, angrily approaching Crow. Crow smiled innocently as he bolted out of the tent with the ring on his finger. Seto had no choice but to follow him, groaning at the fact that his newfound best friend will probably grow up to be the next most wanted jewel thief. Seto reached for the taller boy's hand as he fell behind, panting.
"I can't keep up!" Seto gasped, doubled over and panting. Crow grabbed Seto's hand and pulled him along, his grip strong and secure. (Seto had to admit the fact that they were holding hands only made him feel embarrassed and didn't make the sprinting any more enjoyable.)
When they finally found Sai and Ren, they had just gotten off the roller coaster and were both looking pretty queasy. Crow introduced himself to the two of them a bit awkwardly, considering both Sai and Ren looked like they were about to throw up any time now.
"How about I walk you two home?" Seto quietly asked Sai and Ren, since he suddenly remembered that the two of them live pretty close to each other. They nodded, and Seto supported Ren as she walked, Crow putting an arm around Sai's shoulders. (Sai was suddenly thinking about what Shin would have to say about this! But she didn't really care since Crow was practically a stranger to her.)
The two girls got home safely after that, and Crow had taken the liberty of walking Seto home, a friendly arm around Seto's shoulders. And with Crow at his side, and Ren's cell phone number in his phone from when he dropped her off at her house, Seto realized that he really wasn't that alone in the world after all.