Summary: Threads have always been used to sew and patch clothes together. In the case of one prideful boy and one gluttonous girl, invisible threads have always been sewing them, patching them, drawing and pulling them close together, no matter how much others have tried to put them apart.
A/N: I'm back~! 8D Here's the sequel—or in this case, prequel—of Dulcis Venemum like I promised. Damn, I can't get over this pairing. XD
Chapter One: Initium
"I still wonder where all of the food you eat goes in that iron board body of yours."
"Insulting me again."
It was a lazy, rainy and gloomy afternoon in the heart of Tokyo. It was one of those days that Neuro could never stand. The droplets from the sky would get his hair wet and his mood would get sour, he had said once to a blinking Yako. And she had only laughed back then.
They were in junior high school now. They had entered the same school together. He insisted that someone as "small and insignificant as a bug like her" should always be by his side to prevent further deterioration of the human intelligence—whatever that means. Yako had complied to his wishes—an act that she always questioned why. Why does she always follow what he commands from her? Why doesn't she feel a bit of resentment for him?
"Oh! I want some ice cream! Neuro! Would you like one?"
"No, thanks. I don't want to get as fat as a pig like you."
...She wondered when her questions would be answered.
She guessed they will never be answered.
He followed her inside one of the convenience stores they had passed by, shrugging his shoulders and shaking his head in order to make his hair dry somehow. His eyes trailed where she ran off to—to the ice cream section.
"Oh, um—I think I might need another one. Neuro! What flavor would you like?"
She really wanted him to eat. How thoughtful of her.
"Anything you want."
"All right. Um. How about pistachio-flavored ice cream? Or cookies and cream? Or rocky road? Or mint? Or—"
"Just make sure whatever you buy, you have enough money to buy them. I won't be paying for it."
She whined and pouted as she looked at her thin wallet.
"I have enough to buy three."
She then brightened up as she took three containers of ice cream and placed them on the counter—one rocky road, one strawberry and one mint.
"You really are a glutton, Piglet."
"Oh, shut up."
She bought her tubs of ice cream as Neuro watched her from behind, his gaze as calculating as they had always been. He was now taller than her by nine inches; Yako remained five foot flat in the recent months. And no, Neuro did not observe that carefully.
He was just watching her, that's all.
"Yako! Are you ready for the exams next week?"
The brown-haired girl, Kanae, scoffed and put her arms akimbo, glaring straight at Yako, "You need to pass this test, Yako! Do you know that? It's almost the end of the term! Nougami-san, could you please tell her to study before she fails—again?"
The aforementioned 15-year-old whipped his head to the girl's direction, and Yako flinched as she saw that wide-eyed and smiling face.
Yako spluttered her words at her best friend, her hands waving frantically in front of her face, "Kanae-chan, I really think I can pass this one—"
"No. You need help and I know he can help you! He's not the overall top student in the whole school for nothing!"
Oh nononono—She can't have that. If Neuro were to—to—teach her (Why does that sound foreign to me?)—then all of her bones might get pulverized at the end of the week from whatever he might plan to do to her!
...She can't have that.
"But he might be busy and all and—"
A large hand grabbed the top of her head, and Yako fought her will not to cry there and then.
"Nonsense! I always have time to teach my little kitten!"
Yako's eye twitched at the new name.
Even after all these years since their elementary days, he had yet to grow out of his name-calling habit.
And it seems like Yako remained as Neuro's favorite "pet" to humiliate through name calling.
...Not that he had other friends to humiliate with.
"See? I told you he can do it! Nougami-san, please teach her well. I know Yako can be a klutz and a freeloader for food most of the time, but she's really nice!" she bowed.
"...Thanks for the unnecessary description, Kanae-chan."
The vicegrip on her head tightened even more, and the poor girl was close to tears while Neuro smiled wide.
"Don't worry, I'll teach her the basics from square one until she'll master everything!"
The high chirp of his voice at the end of his sentence promised a foreboding feeling in her gut—
—and she made a grave mistake when she turned around to look at his face.
"I'll take care of you, Yako!"
...That smiling and innocent-looking face could not mean well.
"That's wrong, stupid. Do it again."
"...B-but! I've been doing this problem for the past hour! Can we take a break?"
"You dare order me around, you insignificant little mite?"
"That was a request—"
"...I'll give you a break when you finish that."
Just as her pen made contact on the paper riddled with scribbles and crude erasures—huffing as she did so—she felt a socked foot pressing firmly on top of her head.
...Whoever was in charge of the heavens must have had a grudge her.
"What is it, sawdust?"
"...I can't concentrate if you're grinding your foot on me..."
"It makes no difference even if I don't grind my foot on your empty head."
Yako whined as she wrote on the paper once again.
And a knock came at the door.
"I brought you some snacks! Could you please open the door?"
"Um, Neuro, could you—"
"Do it yourself."
She pouted and struggled to remove the offending foot from her head and walked towards the door, unmindful of her ruffled hair. She glanced back at her long-time classmate, and surely, just as she expected, that blank look was on his face, his middle finger pointing at her face for some reason.
She chose to ignore it as she opened the door.
"Yako, what took you so long, my arms are about to fall off!"
"...Mother, your arms won't fall off. And um—did you make those?"
"Nope. Sonobe did, although I did want to try my hand on making these onigiri once and—"
And before Haruka could say something about food-making and the unkempt hair her daughter donned, the door was silently shut, not before hearing Yako's cries of joy upon eating.
"...I hope she doesn't get fat."
The study routine continued on. Everyday, Neuro would come over at Yako's house―invited or not―and would tutor her about different subjects, the most time they spent being on the subject of mathematics. Yako would tolerate his Spartan way of teaching—Redo the whole problem again or you'll get a whip from my belt... or maybe a spanking would do better!—and Neuro would smile at her misery.
She was already used to it.
"Neuro! I passed!"
The tall blond was walking down the corridor when he heard her holler out his name―rather happily, too. Some of the students and teachers looked at the broadly grinning girl running towards him.
He smiled―for some reason or another.
"You did?" he asked coolly as he regarded her heaving form. In truth, he had heard from one of Yako's friends (Kana-something, I think) that she had passed. He wanted to see for himself. And upon seeing the girl now―well...
All that eating must have finally taken its toll on those thighs, he mused with a smirk.
Yako heaved another deep breath and straightened herself with a wide smile as soon as she recovered her breathing. Without hesitation, she took out all of her tests from her bag, that wide smile never leaving her lips as she did so, "Yes! See? I passed them all!"
Amused―and proud―dark green eyes wandered over the slightly crumpled papers in her small hands, his wide smile widening even more as his gaze glanced on each subject paper―she passed them all with flying colors.
"I see you have finally grown a little bit of a brain, Piglet."
Yako laughed―his "piglet" comment completely ignored. It was his way of showing that he was proud of her (as what she observed for the past few years)―that wide smile and that deep voice and those bright obsidian-jade eyes told her so.
"Now you can treat me just as you promised the other day!" she declared with a smile as she neatly folded her tests and returned them to her bag. Nothing can ruin her mood today—!
"...Meh. I think I'll pass."
―except for that.
Oh, how he loved seeing her getting all riled up.
He simply turned his back to her, and he smiled as he walked away―knowing that she will follow him wherever he may go.
And as he predicted, he heard the tap, tap, tap of her miniscule feet and the squeaky sound that was her voice.
"Neuro! Wait for me!"
The teen only smiled.
"—And then there was this huge jar of chocolate bars on the newly-opened candy shop near the station and I wanted to buy them but they were so expensive and I had no money so I could only stare at them from the window outside! It was cruel!"
"And so I went home with no food."
"Hn. And you're telling this to me because...?"
Yako had insisted that Neuro should come over to her house, simply because she felt bored, and it was a Saturday—that was what she told him, at least. Her mother was away on a business trip. Her father was on Hokkaido doing his latest building project. And Kanae was away with her friends for one of those "group dates"—and she refused to join in such events. No, it's not like she needed his company. Nope. She was his only friend, after all—at least, that's what she repeatedly told herself.
She bit her lip and averted her eyes from that cold stare—she was used to it.
The temperature in her room suddenly felt warmer than it had been a few seconds ago.
Neuro tilted his head, his eyes never leaving her form.
In his point of view, his little maggot was becoming a bit round in the face.
...He could fix that.
"Owowowowowow! Myuuro! That hurtsh!"
He only grinned as he stretched her cheeks, enjoying the sounds of her painful cries.
He sighed, and—getting bored of his torture—let go of her.
The aforementioned man grinned from ear to ear. He loved hearing his name out of her plump lips. Whether it be the way she voiced his name out in a cheerful manner or in a painful one (like the one she's doing now), he always loved to hear his name being called by his "little maggot-faced piglet".
And even if she butchered the way his name's being pronounced, he didn't mind much. He often wondered why.
"I can't feel my cheeksh anymooore―"
Neuro shrugged and sighed. Growing tired of giving her punishment (for no reason at all), he roughly let go of her swollen cheeks. He reveled at her (predictable) reaction―those tiny (and unnecessary) tears threatening to fall from her (totally dull) hazel eyes, her (too bony) candle-like hands trying to soothe the seemingly searing pain on her abused face (she was entirely sure red welts will appear again), her scrunching and stretching of her now chapped lips, her repeated gulping and swallowing to let her saliva moisten the insides of her mouth again, and the half-hearted glare she was sending at him as she did all of those little quirks of hers.
He loved it all―basking in her undivided attention. He would never admit it to her, though.
"Snail. I want something to do. It's getting boring in this place."
As he expected, regardless of his torture and abuse he constantly throws at her person, her eyes widened with what he could only assume as excitement―that, he could not fathom as to why she was excited. She suddenly seemed to recover fully, the pain he (happily) inflicted on her face completely forgotten as she looked at him without that previously fiery rage she had on her eyes moments prior. Hence, he grinned and asked her.
"Are you that excited to be able to spend your insignificant and worthless time with my magnificent and superior self, you worm?"
Yako only beamed awkwardly, her pearly teeth being shown to him as she scratched her head—the face of stupidity, he concluded.
Yes, he always basked in her undivided attention. It belonged to him and him alone.
He would never let anyone lay a filthy finger on her.
He was becoming a bit too accustomed to her.
"Neuro, look! Hurry!"
"For a piglet, you sure run fast when it comes to food."
He watched her hop and run as he walked calmly ten steps behind her. He chuckled as he saw her bump into a woman.
The clumsy louse.
He saw her stammer and smile through a hasty apology and multiple bowings of her head as she did so―those reddened cheeks were still on her white skin, Neuro observed―and trudged along the sidewalk, her brown eyes looking back at Neuro once with a smile, making him to briskly walk his way just to catch up to her.
"Neuro, hurry!" she gleefully said as she waved him over, and she entered the store she was talking about since they left Yako's house about half an hour ago.
He looked at the name of the store.
A toy store?
He looked at Yako once again, wondering what could she like in this kind of place. The brown-haired little mouse of his was now running along the aisles of toys like a child―Neuro felt like he had to spank her for bumping into another woman again. Really, there should be a limit to her stupidity. Then again―
It was her stupidity that had caught Neuro's attention from the start, at least, that's what he repeatedly told himself.
With his hands poised coolly inside the pockets of his jeans, he walked over to where she was, those wide eyes almost twinkling at her newfound discovery.
"What's so nice about a toy shop, you filthy piglet?" he asked as soon as he was standing beside her, his eyes ignoring the shocked faces of the nearby mothers and children alike. It only took one glare at those gaping faces for them to gulp and walk away hurriedly, making Neuro grin in victory.
Yako, oblivious to the wide-eyed stares of the shocked mothers and little children alike (That poor girl didn't even feel embarrassed!), only insistently tugged at Neuro's shirt sleeve with barely hidden excitement, that wide smile stuck on her (still) slightly reddened face as she looked at him.
"Look at this, Neuro!" she chirped as she held out a large white box with little pieces of white cardboard on a plain white background.
It was his personal favorite pasttime.
"I heard this is really hard to solve because you don't have a pattern to follow! But since I know you love challenges, and I know you love puzzles, this will be a piece of cake to you!" and she smiled―quite proudly, might he add―at him.
They were white puzzles―puzzles with no backgrounds or canvases, hence, they have no patterns or clues to follow, making it difficult for the puzzle solver to put the pieces together. The only thing they could at least begin with was the pieces belonging to the edges of the board. He had been trying to find one―one that was in a huge board with little pieces of puzzle, so it would be harder to solve than those with big pieces―but he couldn't find a store that sold them near his area.
And then she had found one.
He didn't even tell her (not even once) that he wanted one.
So how could she know?
He grinned despite trying to find the answer to his question―his two little fang-like teeth almost gleaming as his lips stretched into a very wide smile. His eyes looked at the huge puzzle board, and back at the still smiling Yako.
He was proud of her―very, very proud of her.
"How did you know?" he asked, his smile still wide as he eyed her, his dark green eyes almost dancing in delight at the girl's surprise.
"You always said you needed something other than reading mystery novels and solving sudoku and crossword puzzles to keep your knowledge and sanity intact, so I thought this might be good! So I... kind of searched the different stores in town for something you might like. Tee hee!"
Neuro raised an eyebrow, his vague way of saying, 'Elaborate it, you worm.'
When the 15-year-old girl only blinked, Neuro only smirked.
And as Yako expected, his face inched closer to hers, and she instinctively leaned her head away from that predatory smile.
"...You have been observing me closely, haven't you, Yako?"
He hit the nail on the head—just as Yako knew he would.
Her gaze wavered at those pride-filled eyes, and she looked away as she spoke—and stammered.
"We've known each other for eight years. Of course I would know your quirks. I don't need further observation to know what you would like."
His smile never faltered. Instead, hearing those words come out of her lips made his smile even wider than before. And before she knew it, he leaned even closer to her face, his baritone voice reverberating in her ears.
"It seems that I have found myself a great slave. Keep up the good work, Yako. Keep it up―"
She gasped as his lips hovered near her ear, his sharp intake of breath sending shivers to her spine.
"―for you will be my wife someday."
And Katsuragi Yako was sure that she felt her heart stop beating altogether.
"This should go here. And this piece should go... there. This one should be in the middle."
The ashen blond male sat cross-legged on the floor, that wide grin never leaving his face, both of his hands holding two little pieces of the puzzle that Yako had given him a few hours ago. Nothing could dampen his mood since he said those words to her.
"Heh. That ragdoll of mine looked even more stupid when I said that to her. Bahaha!"
Glassy and amber eyes as wide as an owl's. Roseate-colored cheeks on milky white skin. Glossed and carnation-hued lips formed in a tiny, little circle. That bubblegum pink dart of tongue almost babbling incoherently. Dainty little nose hardly breathing in at his words. Those tiny, little ears reddened by his gaze. That squeaky and gentle little voice that couldn't utter a single word in his lush green stare.
He loved them all. Those little quirks of hers. The unconsciously-made actions that she does everyday. That piercing and knowing look. Her whines and pleas for help―her knowing that it would only be through him that she could be saved. Her awkward little smile after he makes a snide remark towards the shape(lessness) of her body. Her miniscule and thin little fingers that would pry their way to his hand grinding atop of her utterly mussed hair, only ending in vain as he would, instead, bite her forehead with a loud "chomp".
Her reactions were his. Those unnoticeable quirks of her were his. That awkward laugh and that sheepish smile were his. Those fragile and bendable and thin fingers were his. Everything that belonged to her were his. It was what he decided a long time ago since they met.
He laughed. In the presence of no one, he laughed. And as he put another white piece of a puzzle on its respective place on the board, he chewed on a stick of licorice, courtesy of his precious little maggot.
As soon as the last piece was placed, he dialed on his phone, and called a number he knew all too well.
"What do you mean you're finished? I just gave that to you after we ate that chocolate and vanilla-sprinkled triple chocolate ice cream! And that was only an hour ago!"
"Correction. You ate that chocolate and vanilla-sprinkled triple chocolate ice cream. I only watched you stupidly wolfing down the said ice cream like the stupid and greedy pig that you are, leaving me with nothing to eat but thin smears of ice cream on your drool-slicked plate―"
"Don't talk as if you have never eaten for your entire life! And I didn't drool on the plate! And you ate the strawberry pocky!"
"...You won't admit it...?"
"I won't admit anything for something that I didn't do!"
"...I'll come over, you ungrateful leech."
"Expect me to be there within three minutes."
"Stop babbling like a fish. You already look like one."
"Wha-hey! I'm a goldfish, at least!"
"I know you're a janitor fish. That bottomless mouth of yours sticking like tar on the filthy tank walls―"
There was a distinct sound of a huff on the other end of the line, and he was sure that Yako puffed her cheeks like a bubble.
"Remember not to break your promise, Maggot."
"What promise? I didn't―oh. That."
She could hear a laugh, and Yako could almost see that wide and malicious smile on his face.
"Yes. That. I'm quite sure you remember it―unless that useless and empty brain of yours had finally broken itself beyond repair. Oh wait. It already had!"
She pouted and sighed upon his words. She was used to it, though. She knew he didn't actually mean any of that―or so she assumed to herself every single day.
She could hear a deep rumble of a laugh, and Yako could almost picture in her mind what he might have looked like at that moment on the other end of the line—that large palm and those spidery fingers covering his wide and malicious-like smile, those proud and mirth-filled black-green eyes looking at her with what Yako could only assume as amusement.
She had been with him for too long, so much that whatever things he uttered between those constantly smiling lips, she could see with her mind's eye just what he was doing.
"...You're already at the door now, aren't you?"
"Shall I let myself in?"
"I couldn't do anything even if I say no. You'd always force yourself in my life no matter how much I wanted you to go."
It was one of those rare times that Yako could almost think of Neuro as a gentleman. Almost.
With a small smile, she looked at her bedroom door, and sure enough, the knob clicked and Neuro let himself in, his phone clutched on one hand, the puzzle box on the other. And that proud smile remained consistently dancing on his thin lips as he walked inside her room.
"Did you lock the door?" was her greeting. No need for formalities now, right?
"Of course I did, you numbskull. I wouldn't risk having a cat burglar sneaking in this house with me in it, now, would I?" he said with a chuckle as he put the box filled with the completed puzzle in front of the girl, his phone now hidden within the confines of his pocket. Yako had removed the pieces earlier in front of Neuro―to prevent him from cheating, she reasoned. But she knew him better than to cheat on his favorite pasttime.
"...You really did finish it," she said flatly, the tone of her voice almost disappointed at his achievement. Of course he would finish it in record time, no matter what the consequences are. That's just how he is.
Earlier, right before they parted their ways to their respective homes, they made a deal. Should Neuro cannot finish the puzzle by tomorrow, he'd have to treat Yako for food for the whole week. But, should hebe the one to win―the one who'd finish the puzzle before tomorrow―he'd make Yako his slave for the whole week, and she would have to obey whatever he wanted and needed with no complaints.
As expected by Yako, Neuro won.
"What's with that long sigh? Are you that disappointed that you didn't win?" he asked as he walked over to her bed and sat on the mattress. It seemed that she had acquired a western-style bed within the past two months, it wasn't there the last time he came. He was a bit saddened by the fact that he couldn't sleep on the futon anymore whenever he would stay over. Now, there'd be no reason for him to hog all the blankets and let her freeze to death―it was his plan to let her come to him, willingly or not. She would pout and whine for him to give him a blanket, and he would turn a deaf ear with a smile; she would give up, and she'd have to crawl (as he suggested every time) for her to cuddle by his side to keep herself warm. It was a miracle that no one walked in on them during those times. He was sly like that, it seemed, for his plan always worked.
He sat on the bed with his legs crossed and his amused eyes were very much trained on her pitiful expression―and no, he was not looking at that bit of white cloth with a pink ribbon peeking from the shadows beneath her skirt.
"Yeah, I'm disappointed. There goes my food..." she sighed once again, her fist cradling her chin, one elbow propped on her knee. Neuro laughed.
"You should know by now that I always win, Yako. It has never been the other way around; it never has and never will be," a lazy smile graced his lips as he regarded her coolly, his devious mind gears now working on how to claim his prize for winning the bet.
The girl's pout turned into a (tired) smile, her wide brown eyes staring at him with what Neuro assumed as pride.
"It's always you who wins, no matter what, isn't it? And for that, I admit defeat," and she bowed, her hands placed flatly beside her, her forehead meeting the floor in a light thud―a kowtow.
And Neuro grinned widely, his dark green eyes memorizing each detail of her body greedily. Yes, he was amused―very, very much amused.
"It's about time you bow your head to me, ragdoll."
Yako was sure, as her eyes were still trained on the floor, that she heard Neuro moan―on what reason, she could never tell.
And to rise her head from the floor she did.
"Starting today, you're now my personal slave. You're mine and mine alone to give―which I'll never do, of course," and that laidback smile was back, along with those warm green eyes.
It seemed that he'd only smile like that during the night, she concluded. He must have been always felt the calm of the night, as shown on those eyes.
"Since when did I become your slave?"
"Since the day you met me, you fool," he smiled at her misery.
She glared at him.
He pointed at her with his socked foot, that devious smile stuck on his face as he looked at her.
"Now, lick my feet."
Her reaction was what he expected.
Most school days are a blur to her recent bout of torture. It was only her second day of being Neuro's slave (When was I not his slave, anyway? And I just bought him a new pair of shoes yesterday! What does he want with seven pairs of shoes? Does he have a shoe fetish that I didn't know about?), and his treatment on her poor self was already taking its toll on her body.
"Yako! Let's eat together at lunch break! We haven't done that since our exams!" Kanae piped happily as she rummaged through her bag. It was just a few minutes away from their first class, and idly, she felt like she was not being the best friend she had once been. She often wondered why. Kanae was looking at her friend with a wide smile when she saw a familiar mop of blond and black suddenly obscuring her line of vision.
His name being called was ignored in favor of looking at his favorite, favorite toy.
"Yako! You promised me the other day you'll have lunch with me for the rest of the week, right?" he asked, rather bubbly, too—if it weren't for that mischievous look in his eyes as he stared at the brown-eyed girl. Kanae couldn't see much of his expression, his back was facing her.
"Good! So you don't have to make any plans with others, all right?"
With that, he turned around, his eyes wide and his pointed teeth slightly bared, and Kanae wondered how her best friend managed to be friends with him. She assumed it was because of his good looks and that "bad boy" vibe. She never really had the time to ask what Yako's tastes were when it comes to men.
"Oh! Hello, Yako's friend!"
Kanae sighed. What's up with him always forgetting her name? It's just a mere three syllables away from pronouncing it! And he had never even once forgotten to utter Yako's name!
Yako gulped, clearly not liking the way he's blocking her view on talking to her friend, "Um, Neuro. Could you please move? I can't talk to her while you're—"
He turned to her, his eyes gleaming with delight, "You said something, kitten?"
Yako looked away. Whenever he was in his mood for his sadism (which happens every single day when they're alone), he would call her that. His kitten. His ragdoll kitten. His submissive, favorite little ragdoll kitten.
She suddenly felt the upcoming extent of today's punishment.
A shuffle of movement. A soft sigh.
"Neuro, you didn't have to be that rude."
"Hmph. She was trying to take you away from my precious time. I wouldn't have that."
"Well, in any case, I don't see a reason for you to do this to me."
"Hm? Do what? What ever are you talking about, leech?"
"I'm talking about this."
Neuro looked over his shoulder, his newly-bought mystery novel (courtesy of Yako's allowance) in one hand, and the end of a chain on the other.
Nevertheless, Yako—who was sitting on the floor with a red collar around her neck—was not amused.
"Why, it's for your punishment for trying to talk back at me this morning in the presence of your friend."
"I didn't even do anything!"
"Precisely. You didn't do anything."
"What does that mean?"
"And what's with this collar and chain! Where on earth did you get this, anyway?"
"...From your wallet."
She gasped in horror.
It was now March. The time of spring and of cherry blossoms fluttering in the cool air of the day. The time where cries of joy and of sadness would meld together in the gatherings of school institutions.
It was now graduation day.
"Heh. You know I'd have the top place every time."
Yako chuckled, her dainty hand covering her lips, "Yes, yes I know."
Yako looked at her classmate and her friend. He became quite tall in a short amount of time during their junior high days. Though, she (and the other prominent upperclassmen) had always asked him why he refused to join the basketball club―his answer had always been somewhere along the lines of, "I'd rather keep to myself and read a boring book about fishes under the shade of a tree than to look stupid while sweating out my armpits all the while trying to chase an orange ball and smelling like some rotten piece of trash while running. Disgusting." His words.
His height was currently five feet and nine inches―and he wasn't even 18 yet! And Yako had to suffer craning her neck upwards just to look at him in the eye when talking to him. Her height was still five feet flat.
She whined, and it was noticed by the tall teenager.
"Something wrong, louse?"
She whined again. That name-calling of his will never stop, will it?
"No. Nothing's wrong―"
"You just sighed, worm. It means that something's wrong with that non-exsistent intellect of yours," he crossed his arms as they walked towards the back building of the school, their feet meeting the tiles as they plopped down on the nearby steps. Over the years, it became their sanctuary during the times when they would get themselves caught in the rain during break time. Yako had to drag him away from the foul weather. Neuro had always hated the rain, after all.
Yako's mother and father were at the school gates, chatting their time away with other overjoyed parents―My daughter finally graduated! Oh, joy!―and Yako had snuck away (with Neuro, for some reason) while they talked.
They always seemed to enjoy letting their daughter be the center of attention―and she didn't like it at all. She already had her hands full of Neuro's attention, thank you very much. The green-eyed man had only laughed at her predicament, clearly enjoying her time of woe.
"I'm just thinking that I might never grow an inch taller than I am now."
"And what makes you think that?"
She shrugged her shoulders and a shy smile made itself present on her face.
"I dunno. Intuition, I guess?" she laughed.
"You women and your strange instincts."
She didn't reply.
Neuro looked at her at the corner of his ever observant eye, taking in her strained smile and stiff shoulders as a cue to act.
And to act he did.
"Owowowow―Neuro! Not again!"
He only barked a laugh as he grinded his fist on her head, her neck trapped within the confines of his lean arm. Needless to say, his strength had grown over time, much to Yako's dismay.
Why, thank you, puberty.
Her thoughts of sarcasm were cut short as she heard her mother call out her name.
She hurriedly scrambled to her feet, her hands trying to pry Neuro's painful knuckles away from her scalp as she groaned.
Trust him to make everything painful for her poor body.
"We're here, Mother!" she squeaked as she finally removed his hands away from her abused scalp. Ignoring the few strands of hair that came along with his death grip, she then dragged Neuro by the hand, away from the stairs, and the latter complied willingly―surprisingly so.
And Neuro―having the mischievous mind of an imp―smirked as he suddenly had the idea to let go of Yako's hand, causing the girl to jerk her head to look at him and, as Neuro expected, making her fall on her bottom.
Neuro's eyes didn't fail to see the short flash of blue polka dots underneath her skirt.
He smiled blankly.
"Why'd you do that for!"
And she heard the rush of footsteps nearby as she looked at him―he only smirked.
When the blond could distinctly hear voices and footsteps, he acted according to his plan.
He lifted her up―scooped her up in his arms like his newly-wed bride―just as Yako's parents (along with the other members of the parents' association committee) walked in on them, and they saw his act of "gallantry."
Nevertheless, Yako wanted to bury her head in shame upon landing her eyes on her parents, and she did just as so, burying her head in the crook of his neck (It was quite warm, she thought)―Neuro smiled all the while as he walked towards the wide-eyed parents.
"She tripped, Katsuragi-san," he said happily, and mustered his kindest face to them.
And the parents immediately "aww"-ed.
And―as the green-eyed male predicted―the comments ensued, adding more fuel to the fire (or in Yako's case, it added more fire to her now beet red cheeks).
"What a gentleman!"
"And he's quite handsome, too!"
"He must be a foreigner!"
"And he's tall!"
"Oh, Haruka-san, he's perfect!"
"I once heard from my daughter that he's quite protective of her―your daughter is so lucky to have him!"
And Yako's father (just had to) butt in the cooing mothers.
"I know! That's why I want him to be my son-in-law in the future!"
And they laughed.
Yako didn't face them―she wouldn't. No. Not after what he did―and what they said (Assumed!).
She then felt a soft rumble from his throat―Since when did his voice become so deep?―and his smile never faltered. The eyes of both Yako's parents and the other parents were fixated upon the chestnut-haired girl hiding her face from view.
And she could feel those familiar obsidian-jade eyes on her face again.
Yako only grumbled under her breath.
"Hm? What's that, Yako?" he asked sweetly―and it made her blanch upon hearing the tone of his voice.
"I can walk on my own now, thank you very m―"
"Oh, nonsense! You just tripped! That means your ankles must have gotten weak from sitting so long during the ceremony!"
For further emphasis, he hoisted her even closer to his chest (making sure he was covering the pleats of her skirt as to not make her feel a draft), making her squeak. Her cheeks reddened even more.
Katsuragi Seiichi and Haruka only laughed.
"Oh, come now, Yako! Don't be shy! You two already knew each other since you were young!" piped her mother with a laugh.
A parent—a mother—gasped, and her eyes widened at Haruka's words, "Really? You mean they're childhood friends?"
"Oh! Then that must mean that this fine young man here is already taken—oh my. I think I have to tell my daughter that. You see, she seems to have a crush on him."
"I guess this means that your daughter's waiting for his first move?"
"Of course! Well, if you ask me, I think they fell in love at first sight—"
And Yako whipped her head to her mother, the distinctive "crack" of her neck noticed by Neuro.
Ignoring the feeling of flames seemingly licking her rose-tinged cheeks, she huffed, her eyes almost twitching as she spoke, "Mother! Please don't talk like that as if we're not here!"
The blond man laughed again, shaking Yako slightly in his arms, "Oh, Yako. Silly, silly Yako. You know you don't mind—"
Yako's eye twitched.
"Don't even start with your misleading words, you—"
She heard her father gasp in shock, and she pointed his finger at his daughter, "Y-Yako! Don't speak like that towards your savio—"
"He's not my savior!"
"Oh, hush, dear. Our child is just shy to admit it!"
Neuro silently watched the exchange between daughter and parents, his smile wide and kind, and his eyes large and clear for them to see. He looked at his little maggot's face—her flushed cheeks were starting to look like tomatoes.
"Katsuragi-san, please don't embarrass Yako any further. She must still be feeling upset over her earlier fall!"
The parents almost cooed.
"See, Yako? He's so kind! Be a sweetie for him! It's the least you can do for him after taking care of you for so long whenever we're away!" said her mother. Yako glared at Neuro, her arms (still) wrapped around his neck—just in case he'd have the mind to let go of her and make her fall on her back.
Those deep emerald eyes and that face-splitting smile were almost close to laughing at her—and he was, in his mind, that is.
Yako resigned to her fate.
Neuro chuckled lowly, loud enough for Yako to hear through her warm and claret-hued ears.
You really like seeing me like this, don't you?
That half-hearted glare she sent to his amused face was ignored in favor of smiling even wider that what he was used to.
"You're really happy at this, aren't you," she whispered, her hazel eyes observing the incessant chatter of her parents and her classmates' parents. She was sure the rumors would fly after this—whether graduation was over or not—she was sure this piece of news will spread, no thanks to the man who was carrying her.
"Of course I am," he replied, his green eyes almost twinkling in delight. "I'd love to see where this little game of mine would lead to."
In a wordless reply, Yako returned to burying her head on his shoulder, hiding her face away from the giggles of mothers and the laughs of her father.
Out of the corner of Neuro's sharp eyes, he could see a dark silhouette of green peeking from the corner of the back building.
He grinned, clutching Yako as close as he could to his person—he was sure that she felt something was amiss—not that he would tell her, of course.
So I see you're here, you pesky fly.
The shadow disappeared after seeing it was discovered.
Ten pages. TEN, long pages! 8D And this is only the first chapter, mind you. XD (It's my first time doing a ten-page pilot chapter, so...)