Bella Swan hadn't done anything particularly dangerous since that night. She had quite obviously learned her lesson, though she often worried that she would eventually revert back to her emotionless state without further attempts.
Of course, thoughts of her masked hero had kept her relatively occupied. Although no one else knew of the incident, Bella's suddenly intent gaze caught the attention of those around her. There wasn't a day that they didn't see Bella's face buried in a notebook, furiously writing down...well, something.
If anyone got too close or tried to peek over her shoulder, she quickly slammed the notebook shut. She became calmly detached when anyone questioned her about it, a particularly disconcerting sight to behold as Bella wasn't especially adept at hiding her emotions.
No one knew that the notebook was full of sketches and notes, all pertaining to the mysterious stranger that had dominated her thoughts as of late. She was so curious about him—the masked hero that had just swooped in and saved her.
She knew very little about him. Only his title, really. She had managed to scrape up a few stories of a masked man of a similar name in Tokyo, but unable to understand Japanese, she hadn't made much of it. Online translators only got her so far.
She also knew that he was considerate, or at least, that's how his actions had come across. Rather than leaving her to find her own way home, he had taken her to the nearest hospital. However, she had barely gotten a thank you out before one of the nurses diverted her attention, thus allowing him to disappear while her back was turned.
Bella hadn't quite expected to see him again, but then, she should have realized that with her own tendency to attract trouble, it was kind of inevitable.
Laurent had cornered Bella after her shift at Newton's one night. Mike had clocked out hours ago, leaving her to close up. His mother had been giving her more responsibilities as of late, most likely due to the recent change in Bella's manner.
Whatever the case, that left Bella closing the store after ten o'clock on a Tuesday night. There wasn't anyone around as it was the middle of the week and a bit late for the citizens of the quiet town to be up and about.
Laurent had detained her from leaving by slashing her tires, though she wondered why he had bothered. He could have easily snapped her spine like a twig, but then, she supposed that he might just like the novelty of it. He certainly seemed to enjoy drawing out her death by pointing out the obvious.
"How much could you mean to him when he left you here—unprotected?"
Bella had to admit that the way he had pointed out that fact had hurt. Despite the nearly lethargic tone all of her memories of Edward had taken, she couldn't deny that it wasn't still painful. The nightmares hadn't stopped, though they were less forceful than they had been.
What happened next had come as a surprise to both of them.
Laurent was in mid-monologue, stalking toward her unhurriedly, when there was a flash of movement. Bella watched in shock as Laurent paused to look down at his torso. Both continued to stare at the rose protruding out of his chest in bewilderment for a second more, before the thick purple smoke seeping from the wound became too much for her.
Bella's eyes watered, blurring the scene before her. Her ears, unfortunately, were very much welcomed to listen to the sound of Laurent's screams.
When the smoke had cleared enough for Bella to open her eyes again, she was astonished to find nothing left of Laurent but a pile of ash, as well as the star of her recent thoughts standing a few feet away.
Tuxedo Mask raised an eyebrow at Laurent's remains.
"That is the strangest youma I have ever seen."
Bella wasn't sure what a youma was, though it did sound familiar. She might've come across it a few times in her research.
"That's not..." she paused, considering. "That's a vampire."
Tuxedo Mask's gaze darted to her in confusion.
"Vampire?" he repeated, as if he couldn't quite believe it.
Bella wouldn't blame him if he didn't. She imagined that the most he had come across during his career as a cape-crusader were regular human maniacs. A vampire, even to a superhero, probably came as quite a surprise.
"How did you do that?" she asked, gesturing at the pile of ash that remained of Laurent. "What was that rose?"
Tuxedo Mask looked back at her for a moment, raising an eyebrow.
"You're that young woman I rescued in Port Angeles," he recalled. "How's the ankle?"
"Better," she replied somewhat curtly, annoyed that he was evading her questions.
"Good to hear," he smirked a little at her tone. "Well. I've got places to be..."
He turned around and she watched him walk away for a moment with furrowed brows, before a thought struck her.
"Wait!" she exclaimed, jogging up to him.
Bella was surprised when he paused mid-step, glancing over his shoulder at her.
"Laurent—the vampire—he slashed my tires," she explained, thankful to have found a reason to delay Tuxedo Mask from leaving.
After weeks of obsessing over him, she couldn't allow this opportunity to pass her by.
Tuxedo Mask glanced at her truck, noting the ruined tires. His gaze slid back to her easily, his lips turned down in a considering frown as he regarded her. Although his attention made her anxious, she tried not to show it.
"Very well," he conceded.
Bella fidgeted at his approach, uncertain now that he had agreed. She sucked in a breath as he wrapped a cape-clad arm around her waist and lifted them up in the air. Clutching at his arm, Bella watched in wonder as they flew over houses and trees, offering directions as an afterthought.
She had so many questions she wanted to ask him, but she was wary of doing so while they were flying through the air. She didn't want to risk distracting him and end up being dropped accidentally. Although he seemed to know what he was doing, she couldn't assume that he would be able to catch her.
When they landed in her backyard—as per her instructions—she slowly removed herself from his grasp, hoping to prolong her time with him. She was worried he would disappear before she had the chance to really speak with him.
He nodded in acknowledgement, but didn't speak. He merely stood there, stoically staring up at her house. She took this as a good sign that she could continue. He must've known she would have questions and she was grateful that he was at least going to hear her out, even if he decided not to answer any of them.
"So...you can fly?"
"I'd say that's rather obvious by now, wouldn't you?" he smirked.
Bella blushed in embarrassment, but endeavored to go on.
"What else can you do? Apart from...killing vampires with roses?"
Bella bit her lip, nearly wanting to laugh at how strange that sentence had sounded. Tuxedo Mask's lips quirked too, though he didn't respond. She sighed, wishing that he would confide in her, but acknowledging that it wasn't really any of her business.
"How long have you been a superhero?" she asked, thinking back on the information she had dug up about him in Japan.
"I'm not a superhero."
Tuxedo Mask was frowning now and Bella worried that she had offended him.
"I'm sorry... Is that not...um...politically correct?" she asked, hesitantly.
She was surprised at the loud guffaw that escaped him when she asked that. Her cheeks flushed, embarrassed once again. He waved a hand at her and attempted to quell his chuckling.
"Sorry... No, I just...never thought of myself as a superhero," he explained.
"But you've saved people!" she argued, surprisingly indignant.
"I don't really. I'm...looking for something," the laughter had quickly vanished from his voice and she realized with a start that she kind of missed it.
"But you saved me..." she pointed out.
Tuxedo Mask said nothing, once again redirecting his gaze toward the house behind her. She almost wanted to turn around and see what he was looking at, but she refrained.
"So...what are you looking for?" she asked.
His gaze quickly shifted to her and she felt nearly frozen by the way his blue eyes seemed to be looking right through her.
"I don't...I don't know," he replied after a moment, finally breaking their gaze.
Bella continued to stare at him, wondering what had caused his mood to shift so dramatically and wishing that she could get his smile to return.
"Well...I hope you find what you're looking for."