By this time in the midst of a crisp and chilly autumn, darkness had settled over the city and the remaining cadmium yellow bursts of sunshine fled with their tails between their legs. It was almost as if there was an agreement between the two halves of 24 hours. Day would be filled with the coruscating light that illuminated everything within its path, providing ample warmth to all who lay beneath it. Food was laden, mornings were picturesque, and perhaps the indolence of living in sheer serendipity bred otiose humans. Therefore, night was left to recuperate the surreptitious animosity in these beings. The avarice, the mephitic hedonism, and acrimony were all predators when the sun, the guardian, did not shine. Though the effulgent stars twinkled in the sky as a reminder of the heroic sun to rise once again, it did little to lighten the suspended cloud of misery choking all of mankind. The true natures of humans - including all taboo and crime - rampaged about, terrorizing the streets.
However, you held very little shame in identifying yourself as a feeder of these sins.
Being a bartender automatically came with that title. You were a person that made a living off of the egregious night by selling liquor to those who were in need of some solace from reality. It wasn’t an ideal job for you, yet it paid the bills and tuition for your degree. In some aspects, the job was comely; the genial, fulvus lamps emitted a warming glow that lit the bar as charcoal emptiness painted the sky. The light spilled out onto the streets, attracting cold, despaired customers like moths. The mahogany countertop was like a crafting table for you - the very place where you’d mix the miserable souls’ drinks into glass cups for them to chug down. They’d eye you hungrily as you grabbed combinations of fruit and tequila, or gin and tonic from the towering, extensive shelf behind the counter. Cedar tables paired with red cushioned chairs were scattered across the spacious, burnished marble floor. As the deranged, haggard men and women would seat themselves at the counter and request for your “strongest liquor”, you’d either be subjected to a tristiloquy of how their ex-partner cheated on them, or how’d their boss was a tyrant, or in some cases, how they felt so alone and miserable in this world.
Originally, your heart was filled with sympathy and kindness for those kinds of people, but as time ate away your remaining graciousness, you became apathetic to their problems. They soon became your anathema - after all, why were you one to care? They’d be at the bar one day, and disappear the next. What was the need to associate yourself with the degenerates of society? You, who were young and on the path to a prestigious degree, did not need to make unhealthy connections with the humans thriving in the darkness. It was a waste of your time, and precious optimism, which was become more and more scarce by the days you worked. Therefore, your once uplifting speeches and thoughtful reassurance became half-hearted hums of approval as you wiped away at the already-shining countertop, looking for an excuse to break the one-sided conversation as quick as possible.
Your favorite customers, or the most amusing, should you admit, were idiotic daredevils, pressured by onlookers and peers to chug down a bottle of vodka followed by a pint of beer. It was always a pain to clean up after their wild antics, but the sight was certainly hilarious.
In such a repetitive pattern, had your 2 years of working had passed. Your boss was a very amiable person, somehow managing to uphold joy and euphoria that you firmly assumed was phantasm. Perhaps it was the decent pay, or his pleasant attitude that caused you to stick to this depressing job.
But whatever the cause may have been, you began to look forward to walking in the bar every day at 6 o’clock sharp starting from that fateful day - the very day you laid eyes on him.
He strolled into the bar less triste and gloomy than the regular flood of salarymen. Yes, the first detail that caught your eye was his profession - which was definitely not an average businessman. His hand decorated in callouses, his fingers constantly impatient and fiddling with an ink pen, and the general air of superiority he carried himself in generated one conclusion - he was a journalist. He dressed like one, indeed. A brunswick green tie over a sangria button down, matched with olive slacks and ecru loafers all stood out significantly from the common suits you were surrounded in. Perhaps that was the reason why you ended up becoming quite attached to him; he radiated a selcouth semblance that was intriguing to you, whose tiresome, monotonous job deprived one of change.
A Dutch trench coat slung over on arm and an insipid look plastered on his face, you couldn’t tear your eyes off of him. Sure, his fatigued, irascible demeanor wasn’t very appealing, but there was something hidden in his azure eyes that beckoned you to reveal. They enchanted you - no, trapped you - in craving to expose that fleeing emotion unnoticed by the average eye. You had spent so much time looking at the same faces that you had emerged to notice even the slightest discrepancy in even a person’s orbs. It was a talent you put to full use, and this man was no exception.
However, you had spent so much time gazing at him, that you lost all sense of the drinks you were pouring before you. You had nearly spilt some expensive whiskey because of your carelessness. Hiding your mortification as best as possible, you brought your mind back to reality and to the counter. Your swift bartending skills had saved you from a mess, but you internally admonished yourself for being this distracted. You reminded yourself that, no matter how fascinating the man was, he would be gone by tomorrow. There was no need to get worked up over someone who you would never see again. Simple. The stranger strode over to the counter, and sat down.
You made sure your eyes would not follow his movements, so you focused on wiping the table vigorously. He pulled out a cigarette from his back pocket, and with nimble, experienced fingers, lit the end. The lambent, crimson flame burned away the paper, and he inhaled slowly between slightly chapped lips, allowing the nicotine to settle in his lungs. He pulled out the rod after a few minutes of pondering and requested “Any wine, please.” His voice was laced with an eloquent French accent, and every word morose and devoid of effusiveness. It was a pleasing, euphonious combination, and something that made you shiver in the slightest.
Your eyes darted around the cabinet, until they landed on a bottle of red Burgundy wine. You brought it out, uncapped it, and let the rich, deep red liquid flow steadily into the glass cup. All the while, you felt him staring at you. Shamelessly, almost. Even when you glanced back at him, his eyes continued to analytically bore into you.
You slid the drink up to the man, and he looked at the wine with curiosity. After he picked up the cup and swished its contents around for a bit, you announced “It’s Burgundy, 1997.”
He nodded, and continued to gaze at the cup, allowing the liquid’s movements to cease. Finally, he looked up, and both of your eyes met.
“What’s your opinion on it?”
“What do you think about this wine?”
You blinked. Honestly, no person had ever accounted your personal experience on a brand of liquor. You just provided whatever suited their tastes, and that was that.
“I haven’t really tried that wine yet. Or many of these types, to be honest,” you admitted, unsure whether to feel chagrin or smug. “Not much of a drinker, are you?” he mused, taking a sip of the wine.
“Not much of a drinker, are you?” he mused, taking a sip of the wine.He closed his eyes, fully immersing himself in the taste.
You paused and allowed him to indulge in the comfort before answering, “No, not really.”
A slight chuckle was emitted by the stranger, but it wasn’t one of mockery or pity. A small smile graced his lips, and it was a gesture that immediately entranced you. He looked so much more handsome with it, but then again, who didn’t? And yet, it caused your heart to flutter the more you stared at it.
“Oh, how odd...” he mumbled, his attention returning back to his cup. At this, you felt inclined to speak up.
“Are you going to write that down for your next article, Mr. Journalist?”
The stranger’s eyes widened, and you smirked jubilantly. He gaped at you in utter incredulity, barely able to choke out “H-how?”
“The way you dress. The items are individually pricey and impressive, but all together, the ensemble looks like you didn’t even try. That shows your general seclusion from many other coworkers, or general laziness. The callouses on your hand are another dead giveaway. Did I mention that notebook in your back pocket? It nearly slipped out when you tried to grab a cigarette. And maybe another thing is your overall ennui and lassitude. You look drained, to be honest, and yet, so restless to write - or type, whatever you guys do nowadays - away.”
The sudden burst into laughter made you catch your breath. His voice was deep and relaxing, that put your mind at ease. At the same time, though, it caused your heart to race and tighten in ecstasy. You were surprised at the amount of rapture you were consumed with at triggering such a wonderful response. Whatever it was, you wanted desperately to continue hearing that dulcet, mellifluous tone.
After his laughter died down, the stranger spoke “Ennui and lassitude….so you’re an English major, I presume?”
You shook your head. “Nope. But my friend insists on me testing her after every class. I guess I might have picked up some subconsciously.”
“Her? So...you’re dating her?”
“Wha- no! I mean, no, we’re not.”
“Would you like to date her?”
“I...no, I wouldn’t.”
“Is she unattractive?”
“I wouldn’t say that. I see other men looking at her quite… inappropriately.”
“Do you get jealous when they do?”
“No, and where exactly is this conversation going?”
“I do not give consent for this going into an article.”
“Don’t worry, mon ami.”
Silence began to reign between you two.
You were feeling more perplexed and troubled now than in this whole week. You couldn’t tell if he was teasing you, or genuinely interested in knowing about you.
And that last line!
Mon ami? Did he jib you? Did he catch all those prolonged stares at him? You couldn’t even catch yourself going red. Why were you heating up like this? How did this man make you feel so sensitive and worrisome?
“About the wine….” the man droned, playing with the remaining drops of liquid left in the cup. “You mentioned that you’ve never tasted it. Shouldn’t that be part of your job - y’know, knowing about all the drinks?”
You shrugged, thankful that you had an excuse to shove your overreacting to the back of your mind. “I’m not really an avid drinker. Heck, I think I’ve gone out drinking twice this year.”
“Is it either because you’re not interested, or that you have pretty bad friends?”
It was your turn to laugh. Something about his presence invoked a glee that you had thought was buried. He captured your interest, yes, and in the process, captured something else from you.
Yet, you were still clueless to what that was.
“I really don’t like alcohol, nor can I handle it well. It’s pretty foul.”
“A bartender who doesn’t like liquor? How ironic.”
“I’m sure you must be quite the master of irony, Mr. Journalist.”
“Mr. Bonnefoy. My name is Francois Bonnefoy. Mr. Journalist sounds like such a drag, doesn’t it?”
“I agree, Mr. Bonnefoy. I’m (F/N) (L/N). Pleasure to meet you.”
“Okay, (F/N), would you like to try burgundy?”
“Oh, no, I couldn’t-”
“I’ll pay for it. I don’t think anyone’s truly lived until they’ve had a taste of french wine.”
“....Are you sure?”
“Why else did I offer?”
You pulled up the same bottle from behind you, and refiled Francois’s cup. Then, you pulled out another for you. You were doubting this; if Feliciano caught you drinking on working hours, you weren’t sure how he’d react. You’d never done something like this, so he didn’t have to worry in the first place. You couldn’t imagine the man’s trust in you shattered.
Yet, breaking from the expected norm was a promise so thrilling, so unusual, that it excited to you to limits that you couldn’t remember mustering in your years of working at the establishment. It was petty, mischievous feat, but somehow, it made you effervesce. And experiencing such a rush alongside the man who had made you feel unbelievably lost with your emotions only heightened that thirst.
Without another thought, you brought the cup to your lips, and let the liquid spill into your mouth. The dark wine was deeply concentrated in sweetness, but an ineffable acidity struck notes in the drink as well. It was powerful and tense, with some undertones of spice that surprised you. The texture was complex, and the aftertaste was firm and intense. The bitterness of the alcohol kicked in once you removed the glass from your lips, causing you to furrow your eyebrows and wrinkle your nose. You attempted at hiding these actions as quickly as they spurred; this was opulent burgundy you were dealing with, and it would be ungrateful to not enjoy it fully, you believed.
However, as the taste of liquor continued to burn and penetrate your palette, these reactions were insuppressible. You brought a hand up to your face to cover them. Francois chuckled, before questioning “So I’ll take it it wasn’t very tasteful?”
You opened your mouth to protest, when you realized that there was no point in doing so. “It was interesting, until the alcohol kicked in,” you admitted, giving a half-hearted wave to a leaving customer.
Francois leaned back into his seat, finishing off the burgundy. “Oh well,” he sighed, placing the empty cup onto the counter. “At least you were honest. I don’t see that in many people nowadays.”
“That’s a pessimistic way to look at it,” you mumbled awkwardly, unsure on how to lighten Francois’s mood. Then again, did he really want to be uplifted? The only tone the man ever spoke in was one of vacuity, and the dark circles under his eyes along with the constant rubbing of the subtle under his chin didn’t exactly entice the need for alleviation.
“Pessimistic? But isn’t reality just a trivial bundle of contradictions and cheap, temporary happiness?” he demurred slowly, the liquor beginning to hinder his speech.
You were beginning to wonder if this man ever outgrew his emo phase from high school.
“Maybe. But, if that’s the case, why do we have situations like….love?” you reasoned, almost excited to see how he would uphold his aforementioned statement. Perhaps hanging around Alfred, a close friend of yours majoring in political science, had challenged you to think like that.
“Love,” Francois repeated, grimacing. The word almost seemed nocive him, and you realized it was in your best interests to drop the conversation. You didn’t mean to hurt him intentionally, and right now, you would do anything to take those words back. A pang of dejection numbed your spirits again, and you turned around, preparing to open another bottle of liquor.
“Love isn’t real, you do know that, right?”
You blinked. That wasn’t the expected reaction - normally, customers would fall silent after you’d hit a vulnerable topic. Francois, however, insisted on continuing to make his point evident. It was a phrase designed for bloviating people, to display their obstinacy and pomp to those who were certainly not interested in competing with their superior knowledge. The pervicacious tone he provoked you at - as if his notions were painfully obvious and common man’s knowledge, irked you. It was almost a request for a challenge, which he had skillfully played you into accepting.
“Alright, sir, if you think so, do enlighten me.”
Francois raised an inquisitive eyebrow, half amused that you didn’t escalate the comment into a diatribe.
“Are you sure? You’re the first person to want to listen to my tirade of how humans are just manipulative creatures that only work for personal gain.”
“As long as you don’t throw any hipster rhetoric at me, I’m all ears.”
“Then, I guess I’ll have to start off from the beginning. It’ll be long; are you sure?”
“Why else did I offer?” you reiterated with a smirk.
Francois gave a low chuckle, before leaning back in his chair. Just as he was about to speak, he was cut off by the sound of the doorbell ringing, and a man with slumped shoulders walking in.
It was the first time since you had begun this job that you wanted a customer to walk away. The stranger sat down at the countertop seating, and requested for a beer. Your irascible temper flared up, but was subdued upon filling up a pint for him. This was your job, and you couldn’t let some meager fascination avert you from that. After sliding the man his drink, you mumbled to Francois, “If you want to talk, you may need to wait until my shift is over.”
“And when is that?”
“12 o’clock. Most of the customers leave at 11:30-ish. It’s only, what, 8:45 now? It’s going to be quite the wait.”
“I wouldn’t mind.”
“I appreciate the offer, but I’m sure you have a lif-”
“You won’t believe the day I had!” the stranger droned, and you were just about ready to strangle him. It was difficult to reconsider, but getting arrested would mean no paycheck and no graduating.
So you did your best to pretend to duly care for his uninteresting routine.
In no more than mere minutes, this vitriolic man bored you. He was an average, desultory salaryman, brewing with resentment for all those who had (and continued to) oppress him in his “grand scheme for success”. It was the indefatigable, incessant harangue of imputing their finances, their spouses, their family, that you had heard far too much for your liking. Over time, the story seemed sequacious, as if every generic person coming in for a drink was somehow cursed with these mundane problems. Yet, they maligned their woes as if they were unique to them and them only. Their obtuse facial expressions didn’t help either.
Once having a taste of the idiosyncratic Francois’s mind, the enigma he was only became more appealing to you. You wanted to continue the conversation with him, to somehow get a glimpse of what his pensive eyes hid. Never had you felt more desperate for a change from your quotidian life, and to receive someone’s approbation. Then again, never had you met such a man with such strong duende.
Time dragged on slowly, with a flow of customers trudging in with despair and leaving too intoxicated to remember their names. All the while, you stole glances at the frenchman, often refilling his cup to remind him that you were still eager to hear his perspective on life. In the crowd of people, your eyes would continuously be drawn to him. Not that you minded, of course.
Finally, 11:30 rolled around, and you couldn’t have been happier. The remaining customers left the bar slowly, immersed in galimatias, and the only two people remaining in the bar were Francois and you. He was absorbed in doodling something in his notepad when you coughed, resulting in his head snapping up. He beamed at you, finally able to share his circumspect views. Before he opened his mouth, you spoke up first.
“You didn’t have to wait so long.”
“I wasn’t going to let this chance go by.”
“I’m sure there are many people willing to hear about your cynical notions, Mr. Bonnefoy. Like the journal you work for, The Rooster.”
“Okay, you’re pushing the line between stalker and observant.”
“Either way, how did you figure that one out?”
“Simple. You were staring at those prints,” you stated, pointing at the displayed newspapers on a rack in the corner.
“So? It could be any type of publication.”
“You had a pretty disgusted face staring at only type we provide.”
“The Rooster’s front page is about English food.”
Francois collapsed back into his chair, suffering from bouts of laughter. It was quite the struggle to recover, and before you knew it, he could hardly breath. The sound gave you an odd sense of fulfillment, and your heartbeat accelerated subconsciously. It took him some time to regain his footing, and when he did eventually, with shaky breaths, he retorted, “So, you admit to have been looking at me.”
“You got me there, sir.”
“Are you always like this? Staring at customers, I mean.”
“Only the interesting ones.”
The moment those words slipped out, you clasped your hand over your mouth. Since when were you this flirtatious and bold?
Francois paused a moment, before rubbed his hands over his eyes and mumbling, “Seriously? Were you trying to make advances on me?”
“N-no, oh god, no, nevermind. Just...forget about it, please?” you groaned, rubbing your temples. How the hell did that slip out?
“Well, I wouldn’t blame you. I am, after all, quite charismatic.” He finished that statement with a wink.
“I’m sure you're the most dashing vampire out there, Francois.”
“Hey, people love the undead.”
“I honestly can’t tell whether that’s narcissistic, or a really bad imitation of Casanova.”
Another chuckle slipped out of his lips. “To be honest, I don’t think I’ve upheld a conversation this interesting in quite a long time, (F/N).”
“As pathetic as it may sound, the same applies to me. Care to make it even better?”
“If I remember correctly, your spiel about ‘love’ is still pending.”
Francois responded with an acknowledging “ah”, before slipping the cigarette out of his mouth. His orphic eyes suddenly becoming verklempt, it took him a few moments to collect his thoughts. You patiently waited, surprised at the sudden resignation and mansuetude. He finally began after clearing his throat, prepared to recondite.
“Love...is just a glorified name for lust. It’s connotated with purity and amaranthine devotion. It gives people hope that there’s some happiness in this obdurate, depressing world. Family love? It makes sense - those are the people you’ve known your whole life, and their every actions shape who you become. But this trash about ‘love at first sight’? What nonsense. If love is defined by its longing for another person’s presence, and the unexplainable happiness it gives them, then how can it be brought about within first glance? It’s all physical attraction, really. And yet they go on about how ‘what’s inside counts’...You must take me as philophobic now, don’t you?”
You found yourself leaning forward, resting your chin on your palms. “No, no, do continue,” you urged. This earned you a surprised look, and a hint of thankfulness in his smile.
“All I’m saying, really,” he continued. “Is that everyone’s craving for redamancy is baseless. It’s stupid and unnecessary.”
“So how do you see a person’s unwavering loyalty, or selfless actions to their partner?”
“Are you kidding? It’s all fake! No one is that sensitive to other’s feelings - let me tell you, humans only work for self-benefit.”
“Now, you’re just cynical.”
“At least I’m honest.”
“....Which is a quality that you seem to love, but evade entirely.” You sighed, and straightened your posture. “Look, Francois, I see your intentions, and they’re understandable. However, you’re missing a key fact - your problems don’t extend to everyone.” Pausing for a moment, you disregarded treading carefully when you added, “Building off this so-called theory cannot solely rely on one personal experience. You’re either being very ignorant or equally selfish.”
Francois clutched his chest, as if he had been maimed. Feigning agony, he rasped, “Jeez, not even the slightest bit of sympathy?”
“I don’t sympathize those who are journalists, and still make this stupid of an assumption.”
“So, what I’m understanding is that you actually believe in love?”
You brought a finger to your chin, pondering, when you finally declared, “Yes and no. While I find it to be blown far out of proportion, it’s nice to find some solace with the belief of an unbreakable bond with another. In my dull life, perhaps that kind of whimsical hope pulls me through every day. Let fools be fools. At least they’re happy.”
Francois was about to protest, and continue on defending his conjecture, you quickly glanced at the clock, to realize it was midnight. “You should get going,” you blurted out, diving under the counter and searching for the keys. “I’m closing up.”
“Closing? Now?” he teasingly chided. Francois shook his head in disapproval. “The night is still plenty young, and you’ll lose customers if you’re not lenient with your timings.”
Retrieving the keys from between the shelves (discreetly and ingeniously hidden behind several bottles of champagne), you hummed, “Not at all! I’ve got classes tomorrow, and my boss doesn’t expect me to stay up ridiculously late. If they want liquor, then they’ll make time for it. We serve our customers, only if they fit into our lives, not the other way around.”
“That’s an unusual motto.”
“Believe me, in the service industry, it everyone’s motto. They just won’t admit it, that’s all.”
You had already grabbed your coat and were strolling to the door, Francois hot on your heels.
“You’ll be here tomorrow, right?” he asked, and you were touched to know that your presence was actually required somewhere.
Giving an exaggerated, melodramatic sigh and a mocking swoon, you sarcastically sang, “Well, since you insist, I suppose I can continue to work. I mean, I’ve always had a passion to buy food for survival.”You pushed open the door, and chilly air whipping in your face the moment the night air mingled with the warmth inside. Pulling on your coat, you continued for a few more paces as Francois tagged behind.
“Well then, (F/N), I guess this is where we part ways.”
Finishing the lock on the door as it gave a satisfying click, you nodded. “It appears to be so, Francois.” You turned to face him, and for moments, you were frozen in surprise. Was this the same man that entranced you? Was this the same man who had mesmerized you with his pensive eyes and perspicacious eunoia? What was once shrouded in layers of crypticness and mystery was now almost a blatant, quondam of an enigma. Not that it enthralled you any less - if anything, you felt more open.
His sudden conjecture snapped you out of your thoughts. “What?” you quickly shot back, wondering if your ears heard correctly.
“It originates from the French verb ‘trouver’, which means ‘to find’,” he explained, taking obvious pride in his extensive knowledge of the language. “Trouvaille means ‘a chance to encounter something wonderful’.”
“You’re exaggerating, aren’t you? Hell - it’s pleonastic.”
“Pleonastic? Once again, you're being overly-smart. What does it mean?”
“Come tomorrow, and I’ll tell you then.” You turned around to the direction of your route home, the clear opposite of where Francois was heading. Before you took another step, however, you called over your shoulder, “Same Burgundy tomorrow?”
He shook his head solemnly, and with a ghost of a smile tugging his lips, he spoke. “No, I prefer surprises.” As an afterthought, he quickly added, “But I guess you already have. Au revoir, (F/N).”
The pace to which your heartbeat accelerated to seemed questionably appropriate, but the shade of sangria you were encased in was a phenomenon that made your attraction to Francois painfully clear.
Starstruck didn’t even begin to cut what Kiku looked like. His mouth hung open, his eyes were wide with shock, and his face was reddening at an alarming pace. Yes, this was a process you were most definitely used to - first, the instant fangirling and fanboying, the immediate praise and devotion, and finally, the thankfulness to be working with the creator of the top-selling shoujo manga today.
What you didn’t expect was the tears. So naturally, when the man began to sob quietly into the sleeves of his jacket, you were a little more than unnerved.
“A-are you alright?” you cried out in alarm, rushing over to his side. You could hardly make out anything from the teary, mumbling mess. Your next instinct was to provide some sort of comfort, and you proceeded to do something you were very comfortable with- a hug. As you wrapped your arms around his shoulders in an awkward attempt to appease and console Kiku, he went sprawling backwards. His blotchy, wet eyes were now trembling with discomfort.
“I-I’m sorry, but I’m not very good with… um… bodily contact,” he squeaked, rubbing his eyes. That statement was enough to make the growing apprehension and guilt chip away. At least he didn’t hate you, which, at this point, was more than enough.
Kiku’s bottom lip quivered as more of the hot liquid trailed down his face. A weak sob escaped from his thin, pursed lips, and hid his feeble expression with his pale hands.
Things were not going good.
You had just given him a very important proposal! If it already wasn’t evident by his obsession with your series, he was a lover of manga and anime; so what triggered this whole breakdown?
“Ah...gomenasai”, Kiku coughed between his bawls. “I-I’m just so...so...thankful.”
“Y-you’re welcome?” you replied, bewildered. Were those...tears of joy? Hopefully, they were. Interestingly enough, another thing you learned with time was that people’s emotions were not always that easy to read. In manga, it was one thing to draw out people’s emotions clearly and hear their inner thoughts.
In reality, people were always hiding. It was true human nature to conceal their deepest intentions. Life wasn’t as linear or straightforward as it was expected to be - everyone had ulterior motives and reasons to do anything in this world. Sure, it was a pessimistic way to observe all of this, but being a mangaka that exposed the avarice and egregiousness of human beings challenged you to think from all angles.
But now...you were trying your hardest to figure out what exactly was going on in Kiku’s mind. He was quite daphnean and reserved, so it was never easy to tell. Such people had trained themselves not to reveal anything, which proved to be a huge detriment in situations like these.
“...I just-” he continued, the tears slowly reducing. “You’ve been….I’m so….thank you. That’s all I can really say. I’ve never been treated this kindly, and I’ll forever be in your debt.”
You smiled. Something about how aimable he was seemed idyllic, and you wanted to see his innocent smile continue to grow.
“But I’ll have to refuse.”
“Y-you see….I don’t think I’m cut out for working with such a top-notch mangaka,” he weakly laughed, though his words were laced with melancholy.
“Of course you are! I’d love...I mean, I’m sure she’d love to-”
“I’ve just started, I’m not that good…”
“I...She’d love to train others-”
“I’ll probably be getting special treatment…”
“She only has a few assistants!”
“...How do you know that, (L/N)-san? In fact, how do you know the creator of Namida no Elegy so well to the point of recommending assistants?”
You were never one to be very cautious with your words. Guess it was biting you back now, huh? Either way, Kiku would’ve found out if he had said yes in the first place. It was better if you’d tell him directly.
However, apprehension tinged your heart. Kiku was already someone who was very respectful and painfully demure; would conversations between you two become severely uncomfortable if you revealed your true identity? He was such a joy to be around, but you couldn’t understand why. It didn’t bother you to find someone so endearing, in fact, it was the first time someone had appealed to you like this. He made you want to bring out the subtle cheer he was so insistent on hiding, and to paint his cheeks roseate with laughter. You wanted to share at least a fraction of your everyday hospitality, in hope that he’d soon be able to call you by the suffix of ‘-chan’. You wanted to know him better, and vice versa, so you’d finally be able to call him your friend. There were so many things you wanted to do with him, but would revealing who you really were jeopardize that?
Apparently, you had been fretting so much that you didn’t notice Kiku’s questioning looks. Your anxious silence made his skepticality increase, he probably knew you were hiding something. Then again, Kiku was one of those enigmas that you couldn’t make heads or tails of, so you were praying to whatever god was willing to listen that Kiku was more gullible than he let on.
“(L/N)-san? Are you sure you’re not...hiding something?”
Damnit. Dammit all. If you continued to keep up this (failing) semblance of calm and ignorance, he’s grow even more wary, and you’d lose everything you’d already established with this man. Truthfully, you couldn’t remember being so concerned with conserving any relationship of any kind (besides, of course, friends and family members). You had only met this man less than 6 hours ago, so why were you getting this attached?
Looks like you didn’t have any choice. This was a two-way blade, wasn’t it?
With a heavy inhale, you spoke, “Kiku, I think you know the mangaka of Namida no Elegy fairly well.”
Kiku’s mouth dropped. “H-how? I’ve never met her in person, much less even wrote her a letter.”
You sheepishly smiled, and averted your eyes. “You...kinda have. In fact, you’re sitting in her house right now.”
You clenched your eyes shut, not willing to see his reaction. Only when you heard a thud, did you look up in concern.
Kiku was sprawled across your carpet, not moving.
“Yes..911? No wait, we’re in Japan, nevermind. Um..119? Yeah, see, my friend is kinda...unconscious. He...um...just fainted. How? I kinda told him...some big news, and he fainted. It’s good news...I think. I’m not sure how he took it. You think he’ll be okay? Should I bring him to the hospital, just in case? He’s not twitching, yeah. Yep, I don’t think he has any health conditions. Then again, I just met him today, so I don’t know all the details…..his age? 19. Oh, we’re at my house. Ah-wait! He’s waking up! Oh, thank goodness. Yeah, yeah, I’ll bring him to the doctor’s once he’s back on his feet. Thank you very much. Have a nice day!”
You put down your cellphone and ran over to Kiku, who has slipping in and out of a daze. Grabbing a bottle of water off of the counter in your kitchen, you darted towards the man. “Kiku?” you called out, hovering over the man. “Kiku, you up?”
The said man swallowed air, before opening his parched mouth. He raised a shaky arm weakly and gestured for the water. You uncapped the bottle and gave it to him, and as he drank, you pulled him off his back. “Damn, man, you scared me!” you laughed, trying to alleviate his grim mood.
Kiku finished off the bottle quickly, and you got up to get another. “(L/N)-san…” he groaned, and you stopped. “Could you...help me up onto a seat?”
You nodded, and you picked him up bridal-style. The man immediately resisted. “N-no! (L/N)-san! Stop, p-please! You shouldn’t….you don’t….” he stammered, becoming flustered by the second. You shot him a curious glance, before huffing out “Stupid! I don’t want your manly pride coming in the way of your well-being!”
That shut Kiku up.
You brought him to the dining table and set him down on one of the chairs with great delicacy, as if he were the most fragile thing you’d ever possessed. You got him another glass of water, and pulled up another chair for yourself. You waited until he finished his drink, and you then interrogated him.
“Are you doing okay?”
“Nah, don’t mention it. It’s common courtesy. Then again, it isn’t so common to have someone faint in your living room, so I’m not sure what to call it.”
Kiku’s silent chuckle made you smile in return.
“No, really, (L/N)-san, I’m very thankful. You’ve done so much for me.”
“Like I said, it’s no big deal. You would’ve done the same for me, right?”
“O-of course! There’s no doubt about it!”
“Haha! I’m glad. Anyways, what the hell happened? You just passed out after I…”
“After I finished drinking your tea right?”
You were about to correct him, and tell him that it was after you revealed your identity, when realization dawned on you. If you told him again, he would faint again, and this time, it would be more serious. It was devastating to know that you’d have to keep this secret from him, but if it was for his well-being, you had to. Keeping up your facade, you smirked mischievously.
“Wait, are you telling me that my tea is the cause for your problems?”
“Wha-no! No way, (L/N)-san! Your tea is wonderful!”
“Then you wouldn’t mind drinking another cup, right?”
“Haha! Oh god, you’re just too gullible! Fine, I’ll spare you, but I’m drinking tea from your place next time, alright?”
Soon, the two of you were reduced to laughter on the floor. A part of you ached to tell him that you were his favorite mangaka, but your rationale reasoned otherwise. It wasn’t worth putting his health at risk. After all, it wasn’t easy for you either….
You both pulled ourselves off the ground, trembling with laughter and sides aching. After the two of you settled down, Kiku glanced at the clock.
“Oh! How time flies! I’m sorry (L/N)-san, but I believe I must be going now. I have lunch to prepare.”
“Don’t worry about it! I mean, that instant ramen isn’t going to cook itself.”
“I-instant...how did you know?”
“Been there, done that. Hey, we should go out for lunch some time.”
“...Are you really that desperate to get screwed? God, I mean, I knew boys this age were rambunctious but….”
“NO! Oh, that was too loud...I mean, no! I’m not looking to get...screwed…..”
“Wait, is it because I’m not attractive?”
“What? No, no! You’re very pretty (L/N)-san! I’m sure many people would like to be with you!”
“...So you do want to screw me.”
Kiku grimaced and slunk onto the floor with a loud, despaired huff. He looked utterly defeated and was turning scarlet.
Goodness, teasing him was the most fun you had all week!
“But you’re right,” you sighed, getting up. “It’s lunch time. I’ve got arrangements to meet with my boss, too.” You gave him your hand to help him up. Kiku opened his mouth as if he was going to say something, but closed it after some more thought. For a second, he let his demeanor falter, and you saw a flash of some unidentifiable emotion twinkle in his eyes.
What was it?
Kiku took your hand and got up. You blinked, snapping yourself back to reality. Whether or not you had seen that emotion was beyond the problem here. It was what had caused him to let his guard down. For now, you could care less about what exactly you had saw dance through his eyes. Kiku was so uptight and rigid, that it was formerly impossible to tell what he was thinking without proper examination. Knowing that you had spotted some fault in the wall of apathy he was holding up enthralled you; it beckoned you to expose the man’s true nature. It wasn’t for any bad intentions.
All you had wanted was one person in the entire world that you could call your best friend.
Sure, you had several acquaintances and trusted friends, but none of them could ever prove to be the person you were looking for.
There was no one that you could ever cry in front of and not feel ashamed.
There was no one that you could cling onto and seek comfort.
There was no one that would always support you to their greatest extents.
There was no one that you could reveal your truest self to.
There was no one that would reveal their truest self to you.
But somehow, Kiku had tumbled into your life, and captivated you. His reserved form, his implicit facial expressions, his stuttering and stumbling all made you all the more intrigued in him. Even if it was only for 3 hours, you knew for certain only one thing about this man-
He was going to completely change your life.
...And you all thought Kiku would love the idea.
I'm really sorry for not posting this sooner. I had already written down the basis, but I wanted to polish it thoroughly. But exams came by, and projects and homework piled up, and before I knew it, this part had remained untouched. So, since a three-day weekend is coming up, I'm going to finish up as much as possible.
I think I did fairly well for this part! I wanted to make the conversations believable yet humorous, so please tell me if I've delivered it well!
*Le gasp* Is there some insight into reader-chan's history? Why are they so concerned with health and well-being? And how is it "not easy" for them as well?
QUESTIONS PILE UP.
All I can tell you now is that you should pay attention to detail, and not just in this part. I urge you to take a look at previous parts and find out some clues on how everything will play out. Hint: If I've taken more than two sentences to describe an inanimate object, it's probably plot-relevant.
I hope you liked this! Feedback and critique are greatly appreciated!
The morning went by with Kiku and you carrying the boxes to his abode. He had insisted on leaving the rearranging to him, and that you needn’t trouble yourself further. But being the generous (and slightly uncompromising) person you were, you remained at his house to unpack the remaining boxes. The two of you engaged in some small, meaningless banter (of which a majority of that was you asked simple questions and him replying with one word answers), but omitting that left you in complete silence.
“What box is this?”
“Wow, there’s a lot of stuff here! Do you like to cook?”
You nodded, and returned to collecting the silverware in your hand. Throughout the past hours you had spent here in his house, you had learned that he was only a few years younger than you, as he was still studying in college. You had also observed that he was a highly reticent person; his expression was unmovable and lacked much pretense for emotion. It made you feel squeamish and restless around him, without a doubt. In addition, your attempts at helping him improve his candidness all fell in vain.
After collecting a handful of forks and spoons, you marched over to a drawer adjacent to the stove, opened it, and delicately placed each of the utensils inside. It had come to your notice that Kiku was nothing short of a stickler for categorization. In fact, he had even went to great lengths to color code the interiors of the boxes, so as not to create any confusion. They had been lathered in some… very interesting designs (ranging from turquoise polka-dots on a lavender backdrop, to miniature models of U-boats). You inwardly smirked as you imagined all the entertaining events that may follow from this encounter.
“Hey… (L/N) - san?” you heard the boy’s voice call out. You gave an acknowledging hum, indicating that you were ready to perform anything. “I need to use the restroom. Would you mind bringing the final box here to my bedroom?” he squeaked. You looked at him with a smile, but he refused to meet your eyes. An unusual hue of pink dusted over his cheeks, causing you to raise an inquisitive eyebrow. “Don’t worry, go ahead,” you chimed, and Kiku rushed away.
You skipped towards the box, curious to find out what were the contents (and more importantly- what color the interior was painted in). You opened the box, and gasped. Inside, carefully arranged, were stacks of Namida no Elegy.
Your squeal was audible from 2 floors above.
Not long after you had fangirled (at your own work - now that’s irony), you heard a faucet turning on, water splashing, that very faucet turning off, and footsteps gaining momentum as they approached you. “(L/N)-san!” he cried out, eyes wide with paranoia and apprehension. “Are you alright?”
You stared back at him, agape, before bursting out into boisterous laughter. “I-I’m f-f-fine,” you sputtered in between giggles, as you were reduced to uncontrollable convulsions of joy. You heard a sigh of relief emitted from the man, and he slowly sunk to the floor alongside you. However, that breath of catharsis became a sharp intake once he saw the opened box.
By this time, your spontaneous outburst was reduced to a joking smile, but it was immediately dampened once you saw Kiku’s expression of utter chagrin. He appeared to be on the verge of a mental breakdown, with eyes clouded in despair and face contorted to that of humiliation, to which you were inclined to rapidly subdue. “H-hey! Don’t worry, I wasn’t poking fun of you,” you yelped, causing him to jump slightly. “Even I’m obsessed with manga!”
Kiku’s head shot up, and the previous helplessness and mortification had evaporated. Instead, taking its place was a glisten of alleviation and the hopeful prospect of friendship. A broad grin began to form on both him and you as you picked up that latest copy from the top of the stack. “In fact,” you mused, allowing the copy to dangle from your finessed fingers. “This happens to be my favorite one.”
“I’m so excited for the newest chapter! I heard that it’s coming out tomorrow!” Kiku continued, occasionally glancing down at the green tea in his cup. “No, today,” you corrected, pouring some more of it from the kettle into your’s. “It’s a preview edition. I bet the pages are being printed as we speak!”
“You think so?” he gasped, taking the chance of finally downing some of the remaining drink. “I have to get it!”
“But won’t the crowds be unbearable?” you reminded, gesturing to take Kiku’s empty cup from his hands.
“I-I guess you’re right…” he mumbled, crestfallen, and unable to manage even the weakest of smiles as he handed you his cup. He sighed, balked.
“Now, don’t go pouting,” you reassured. You quickly darted to the kitchen to place the cup in the sink, and returned with a mischievous and pretentious beam. “I have some-” you paused for effect. “-early release copies!”
The expression on his face was priceless. It was a hastening mixture of disbelief, astonishment, mitigation, and most profoundly, deep admiration. His eyes were glimmering with jubilancy and wonder. The ends of his agape mouth curled to form the most brilliant smile you had ever witnessed. “B-but how?” he choked out, more amazed than perplexed.
Something about how delighted he was and the euphoria present on his face made your heart jump, but you brushed it aside without another thought. “I made a deal with the publishers, and now, I get two copies delivered right to my apartment, fresh off the print! They’ll be arriving shortly.”
Kiku’s brow quivered slightly, and his beam faltered. You were genuinely touched when he began to protest. “No, no, (L/N)-san! You got these copies, I could never take them-”
“Ah, but you see, you aren’t,” you giggled, raising a finger to signify unquestionable resolve. “I’m giving them to you.”
Kiku opened his mouth to argue, but lacked the will to irk you. Instead, he clutched a palpating and to his heart, and mumbled “You are too kind (L/N)-san… first, helping me with the moving, then, inviting me over to your house, and now,...”
After finding out his obsession with manga and anime, the two of you were assured this was fate drawing you together. In moments, your simple chat had evolved into unrestricted ranting about your favorite and least favorite anime, promising, uprising mangakas, and most importantly, your love for Namida no Elegy. He was an avid fan of the series, but closeted his obsession out of fear for being ridiculed. He had also mentioned that one of the greatest reasons he had vied to come to Tokyo was to meet the mangaka herself. You couldn’t stop grinning throughout his confession, and your heart rate became expeditious whenever he complimented the manga. Little did he know he was speaking to the very creator herself.
In the midst of the conversation, however, you urged him to come to your house for tea, seeing that it was the most appropriate thing to do. He was at first very reluctant to accept the proposal, but he acquiesced as soon as you prodded the fact that you had obtained “limited, exclusive, rough drafts”. Though they were some failed panels that you had scribbled out over 3 months ago, he gazed upon them with such reverence you had previously assumed to be impossible to muster by humans.
Even now, the man continued to thank you, the cutest look of adoration plastered on his face…
Wait, did you just think “cute”?
Sure, the man was charming with his unnecessary atonement and bashfulness, but never had you viewed a man as adorable. That word was only reserved to your favorite anime characters. Last time you checked, Kiku was neither animated, nor your age.
Wait, now the situation was much more awkward.
The ringing of your cellphone snapped you (thankfully) out of your unnecessary overanalyzation. You shot Kiku an apologetic smile, and jogged over to swoop it from the kitchen countertop. You peeked at the number; registering who was on the other line, your cordial mood suddenly shifted to anxious and gloomy.
“Hello?” you droned, no ounce of eagerness present in your words. “It’s nice to see you too,” the woman on the other side snapped. You heard the shuffling of papers in the background, before you were predisposed to ask. “Is this about my manga?” “Yes, it is,” she stiffly replied, and a faint murmur of a male was audible again. Your heart caught in your throat as you surmised “What’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong, in fact, the manga’s preview copies are nearly sold out!”
“Then..why did you call?” you continued, through your sentiment of abated foreboding could not be suppressed.
“It’s… about a project.”
“A project? Listen, I’m not in a position to begin anything besides-”
“Jeez, just listen, you idiot! Stop interrupting! I’m only telling you this because I have to! I-it’s not like I want to help you or anything… idiot.”
“Fine, fine, what is it?”
“If you must know, it’s a project that involves mentoring students at a manga art college in-”
“(L/N)-san? I hope I’m not interrupting, but would you like me to take your cup to the sink?”
You brushed your hand through your (H/C) hair, and spun around, seeing a very confused Japanese man shifting uncomfortably as he held your cup delicately. “Listen, I’ll need to talk to you later,” you muttered into the cell phone, and hung up. Your downcast expression was hidden once you faced Kiku, and you reached out to take the cup away from him. “No, it’s fine,” you insisted. “Just my boss.”
“Oh, was that important? In that case, I’m so, very sorr-”
“Ah, c’mon! You don’t need to always apologize! I already told you there wasn’t any need to concern yourself.”
“Right, I’m sorry. Oh, wait, I won’t do that again. So- I mean, oh dear..”
As you strolled into the kitchen, you mentally face-palmed. This would take some practice.
You placed the cups into the sink, and began to wash the white crockery under a stream of luke-warm water from the faucet. You were meticulous enough to scrub the sakura-blossom pattern engraved into the side. This was, after all, a tea set that had more dignity than what was residing in you.
After washing out the two cups and leaving them out to dry, you returned to the living room, where a stupefied Kiku remained fixated on your degree. “See anything you like?” you gibbed audaciously, leaning onto the wooden door frame. Your interjection startled him, as revealed by his immediate jump. Goodness, the poor boy was high-strung. He turned around slowly, and there was a certain veneration decorating his face that made you want to chortle. “(L/N)-san, this is…” he trailed off, seeking the proper words to convey his feelings. “..absolutely impressive! I never knew you were so intelligent and talented!”
If you spent any more time with this man, you were sure to have a swollen ego.
“I assume you’re continuing in the field?” he inquired, tilting his head. At this, you blinked at the abrupt question. What was worse was that he rendered you unable to fathom a suitable answer. Sure, you had delivered your provoking speech to several people, but never had someone looked at you with so much esteem. It made you somewhat guilty to tell him you weren’t as successful as he thought. Therefore, you did the next best thing.
“Sort of,” you shrugged, trying to prevent any form of apprehension lace your expression or eyes. Before he could press any further, you steered the conversation in your favor. “But what about you? What are you studying now?”
The reaction was a concoction of eagerness and skepticism. He shifted his weight from side to side, forming a reply. You were perplexed at his initial hesitancy. Weren’t the duo of you close enough to share this? It was then that it hit you- perhaps he was lacking the motivation after seeing your degree? Dammit, you need to get it off that wall if it was going to hinder you from making friends. While your expression morphed to one of condolence, Kiku coughed out his answer. “I’m studying...art.”
“Art? Like, ancient Japanese style, European, or-”
Your eyes widened at this revelation. You saw Kiku noticeably flinch after he spilled that piece of information, expecting you to disapprove or cajole him to another field. His last expectation was, however, your instant captivation. “Awesome!” you cheered, a simmer playing on your lips. “Looks like you’ll become a mangaka, right?” Kiku nodded, thrilled to have gained your ratification.
Suddenly, an epiphany moment set everything in focus. The gears in your mind began to whirr, and you felt all the puzzle pieces of your career slowly aligning themselves into order.
Mangakas don’t work alone.
They work together.
“Kiku?” you marveled, your voice shaky and overwhelmed.
“Yes, (L/N)-san?” he responded, tapping rhythmically on the table, clueless of what was to happen next.
“How would you like to work with the creator of Namida no Elegy?”
"How'd it go?" an overzealous Cyprus cried out the moment Greece stepped through the door. His face was pulled into a broad and anxious grin, and his eyes were flashing with a variety of emotions-worry, pity, joy, sympathy, readiness, and so much more. However, the younger man's expression softened once he saw the blank, stunned look Greece's face was paralyzed in.
"I....I don't really know," Greece mumbled, still staring into space. Cyprus rushed over, and ushered the Grecian to their couch.
Once the two had settled down comfortably in the sinking couch, Cyprus turned back to his brother. Locking eyes, Cyprus firmly commanded "Tell me everything" (putting extreme emphasis on everything).
"It went....strangely," was all a puzzled Greece could manage. He was breathing at a steady pace, though he felt his lungs screaming for air. The light-headed feeling buzzing through his head wasn't helping him come out of shock. He was shivering, and his palms were drenched in sweat. Words weren't forming easily. It took a lot of his willpower to force his body to move his lips and tongue simultaneously.
Like a stream of water, words were trickling out of Greece's mouth. At first, they were careful, lacking vividness and description. Slowly, became Greece more engrossed in the conversation, and then, he was painting sceneries with his words. He went exceedingly deep in his vocabulary, vying to recreate the very scene through his eyes, and throw light on the range of emotions that were pounding through his head. Despite his candidness, he circumspectly omitted his emotional surge, and threw away description of the initial vexation he had with Turkey upon entering the palace. Plus, he meticulously "forgot" his reminiscence of his younger days with the Turkish jerk.
Despite the diffuse and persistent drawn-out narration Cyprus was forced to listen to, the younger brunette remained amenable and attentive, providing a required push of description here and there and interjecting to throw in advice when it seemed necessary. He nodded every time Greece paused for a breath or to search for words, to prove that he was still listening and very much engaged.
Finally, Greece ended his extensive recalling of the afternoon with a heavy sigh. Silence consumed the house, leaving the two in an awkward position and at a loss of words. Even now, he was still unsure on how he should feel. It was just....empty. He lacked a sense of accomplishment, regret, remorse, or even joy.
Somehow, retelling the story seemed to make it concrete- like it was becoming less and less of an abstract fiction. Speaking about his problems seemed to fabricate them from imaginative to cold, hard facts.
It wasn't easy to deny facts.
"Are you really?" Cyprus broke the silence. The sudden words caused Greece to jump a little. He turned his head slowly, unable to comprehend his brother's question. With a perplexed tone, Greece shot back "What?"
Cyprus coughed a little before expanding. "I mean, are you really going to wait for him all day? That.....doesn't seem like you."
Greece blinked at Cyprus's words before swallowing them down. "Maybe, that's true," he began, staring intently at the younger male. "But I really need to see Turkey again."
Cyprus couldn't stiff a chuckle, before it became amused laughter. Greece was a little stunned at Cyprus's reaction, before he replayed the words he had just spoken in his mind.
Oh, how awkward those words sounded!
Greece began to heavily blush out of embarrassment, covering his mortified face with his large hands. He let out an agitated groan, refusing to join in on his brother's mockery.
After Cyprus calmed down, he smiled as he stood up. "Whatever. I just think it's nice that you've decided to stop hating him." He suddenly had a far-away look shining in his eyes, like he was drifting off to when he was much younger. The whole sight of him radiated maturity and composure, to which Greece couldn't help but blurt out-
"You're unbelievably wise"
Cyprus broke out of the trance, beaming playfully. "What can I say?" he joked. "I've got Turkish blood in me."
Greece's smile faltered, and his tone dropped. "You're nothing like him," he blatantly protested. To Greece, Turkey was nothing but immature, crooked, and vile.
Cyprus raised an eyebrow, almost offended. With a cocky expression, he stated "Really? And here I thought you've known him for most of your life......." With that, the younger male walked off into his room, leaving a very flustered and bewildered Greece, sinking slowly into the couch.
Greece was up before the first rays of brilliant sunlight cracked through the dusk. In fact, he was up the whole night, contemplating over what sort of consolation or apology would be fitting when the two countries met. Failing to express an apology over his harsh words was out of the question. But, then again, wouldn't an apology stated foremost reduce the purpose of the meeting? Oh dear, that would be strange.
So Greece did what any logical person with common sense would do - stay up all night practicing. After all, he was sleep deprived in the evenings on a regular basis due to all the naps he indulged in during the day. Besides, he was far too restless and anxious to lie down. Removing his worries from his head was a task easier said than done. He had mentally studied every word that was going to be formed in his mouth over and over again, checking for formality, sensitivity, and sincerity. He would often get up, pace around the room, and mumble the sentences he would repeat the next day on the beach.
Often, he would just sit down, shoulders hunched, elbows fixated on his knees, and think about the good in Turkey. Surely, over the course of his life, the Turkish man had some appealing and virtuous traits? Greece realized that if he was able to observe the pleasant qualities of the other, he would be able to present the apology much more effectively and genuinely. But the first attributes that seemed to exaggerate his personality were all far too negative. He would rack his brain for quite some time, before falling back, frustrated. He had to stop himself from continuing to spot all the fiendishness in Turkey, otherwise he'd begin to hate the Turkish man all over again. To smolder the flares of detest lighting in his heart, Greece flashed back to the scene where Turkey was crying, concentrating on the distressed and agonized cries and crouched, shuddering figure. He was so vulnerable, so emotional,.........
...and yet somehow beautiful.
Even straying on the thought made Greece's head pound with discomfort and guilt, and his heart fill with distraught.
Groaning with irritation that all efforts were falling in vain, the Grecian would promptly stand back up, and continuously mumble incoherent lines of the following day's speech. Sometimes, he would sit at the petite, polished mirror tucked away in his room, and practice emotion. First, he would furrow his eyebrows and soften his eyes, holding something similar to a pleading and desperate look in them. That was the first expression- antagonizing repentance. Keeping the same look in his eyes, he would pull his eyebrows into a downward curve, but hold a small smile on his face. False joy. Yes, another valuable expression he was going to manipulate to keep a downcast air around the conversation. For the third and hardest expression, Greece's brown orbs sharply turned dejected and spiraled with misery, and his face fell into a deep frown. He bit his lower lip and quivered his nose, hopefully making it more convincing. Lastly, all he had to do was let tears fall. Not cry, but plainly letting the liquid flow. The Grecian figured how to do that by keeping his eyes open long enough.
Maybe, just maybe, he thought, Turkey will feel better knowing that I'm hurt too.
Did Greece feel ashamed that he was faking such serious emotions? Yes, a little, but only very little. The course of time had eaten away and blunted his sentiments, and Cyprus had pulled him through an unstable part of his life 2 weeks ago. Therefore, he didn't want to go back on his word and nullify all of Cyprus's efforts by actually feeling upset.
The night dragged on nonchalantly, but Greece still felt that eternities weren't enough to prepare for this encounter. In hindsight, he probably should have gotten sleep, because by morning, he was looking like a train wreck. But maybe the dark bags under his eyes may amplify his message of "regretting every word he lashed out". Either way, it would take time to pull down his immensely curly hair, and straighten his stance. Oh, and had he mentioned that his shoulders were stiff as rocks?
After taking a quick shower and straightening his hair to whatever limit was achievable by human hand, Greece walked out of the bathroom, circumspect to broaden his shoulders and straighten his back. Cyprus quizzically glanced at him, unsure of whether he should comment on his eyes (which began to look uncannily soulless and apathetic)or his new posture (which made him look a lot less calm and much more intimidating). So, he just kept silent.
At breakfast, while Cyprus was scarfing Moustokouloura, Greece was only able to manage poking at it, very uninterested in his meal. With a billion thoughts that he was stressing heavily upon, perhaps eating his morning meal was the least of his concern. Inclined to politely intrude, Cyprus sighed, and put down his fork. "Go," was all that he announced, his eyes locked onto Greece. "You won't feel better if you don't get it over with." Greece looked up, and nodded, appreciating the younger one's understanding. With that, he raced out of the house, ready as he'd ever be to go to the beach.
Greece looked at the sky with a huff. He slowly reclined into the hot sand, ignorant of the particles sticking to his hair. When would Turkey arrive? It had been over 2 hours, and Greece still hadn't spotted him. It was then that the man dawned upon a notion he was not interested in delving further into.
Maybe Turkey wouldn't come. Maybe he didn't want to see Greece at all. Simple as that.
No, Greece had to remain optimistic, though cheer wasn't exactly his strong suit. But he had a promise to uphold, and that was an unwavering resolute that would push him through the tedious wait. The brunette slowly closed his eyes, allowing the warmth of the sun to blanket him, luring him into slumber. He couldn't fight the urge to succumb into the temptations of unconsciousness, and his lack of sleep the previous night only further tantalized him. Perhaps on a few minutes of rest wouldn't be detrimental....
The said man's eyes shot open, not only because his name was being addressed, but the voice that announced it belonged to only one person.
The Grecian scrambled up, often losing his footing as he sunk in the loose sand. "Turkey," he stated, almost unable to believe he had actually come. Greece's eyes widened at the state his rival was in.
Turkey was paler than he'd ever been, and the lack of color in the usually caustic man was terrifying. His brown eyes- once brimming with vigor and restlessness, seemed apathetic and drained. His body had conformed to a slouching, almost protective slouch, very much different to his usual boisterous, upright stance. And his clothing.... Turkey was one known to care very much about his looks. But here he was, presenting himself with unkempt, messy, dark hair, and nothing but a simple, black shirt and cargo pants.
Then again, that shirt did quite nicely outline the man's muscles...
Greece shook his head, almost violently. What the hell was wrong with him? All he had to do was apologize and get this over with, and here he was, swooning over Turkey's figure. The other was in agony, for god's sake, and Greece was only prolonging the torture. He opened his mouth to begin his apology, but nothing came out.
God dammit, what was going on? Why was he rendered unable to speak? He felt his face heating up fast, and his tongue struggling to form words. His mind was grasping his racing train of thought, only able to enunciate a few words. "W-well, I...uh, t-that...um..." he stuttered, drawing to a complete blank. He had practiced this! So why was everything disappearing before his eyes?
Greece slowly closed his mouth, accepting defeat. He couldn't do it.
His pride was holding him back.
Greece hung his head, unable to face the eyes boring into him, perplexed and possibly offended. He knew Turkey would leave any moment now; it was expected. But a part of him wanted to beg the other to stay, to finally articulate his pent-up feelings, to revert everything to its original state. His heat was pounding, his legs were weak, and the whole scenario was slipping out of his palms. Why did he have to be so pathetic? Greece found himself hating the very body he resided in more than ever. Heat was building up behind his eyes, and he was dangerously close to spilling tears. But if this was what he had to do to express his remorse, so be it."Do you want to get lunch?"
Hello! I'm a hobbyist writer, though that doesn't mean I haven't published some more formal works....
I'm currently majoring in computer science in college, and I hope I can share my passion of writing with you all! I'm eager to making new friends and seeing the whole fanfiction community!