The rest of the day and half of the next were rather...odd.
He was so used to being by himself, he almost forgot that this bubbly girl was even here. He'd be harshly reminded every time he walked into a certain room, or came back to the house and BAM there she was, either sitting and looking through a book or walking past him, off to do something else. He'd pull his hood further over his face when that happened, but she acted like nothing was out of the ordinary. She just smiled and held up a hand, or nodded, or said "Hi!"
And that was it.
He didn't get it. She wasn't acting like someone who was trapped with a monster at all. It was like...It was like he was normal, and they were just neighbors. Or even friends.
His earlier conclusion that she wasn't all there seemed to be more accurate by the hour.
Actually, it was a little unnerving, being treated like this.
He finally said something about it that evening.
"You're a very strange one."
"Hm?" She looked up from the book (he couldn't tell which one is was), making direct eye-contact. He turned his head a little in response, tugging the hood again. They were at a table right now, her sitting down with her elbows on the surface and her head in her hands, him standing across from her, having paused in walking past her. "Why's that?"
She really didn't know? "You're not..." He paused, hands clenching on the tabletop. Why was he even having this conversation? He should have just kept walking... "You're not...afraid? Really?"
"Just a little."
"A little." She's stuck in a house with...with something like me and she answers "a little."
"Just a little." She leaned back in the chair, closing the book and keeping place with her finger. pink eyes rolled upwards to look at the ceiling as she bit at her lower lip, clearly thinking about her next words. Something in Yukiki's chest seemed to twist almost painfully just then; he ignored it. "It is a little scary," she went on, "in a strange place. And I can't say I'm entirely comfortable being in a spot devoid of snow with a storm going on around me--it's like we're in a bubble." More accurate than he perhaps realized, he thought bitterly. "So that's a little scary, since I really have no idea what's going on, and I can't contact my sisters, but...but everything else is fine."
He went over what she'd said in his mind. Something was missing there. Something important was missing. "You're not telling the whole truth, are you?" he asked, voice low. He didn't mean for it to sound threatening, it just came out quiet.
Hanana pulled her hand away from the book, losing her place. She frowned a little, trying to see his face under those shadows and that hood. "Yes? Really, that's all that bothers me." After it was apparent that he couldn't freeze her to death, since she'd grabbed his arm and then his hand and nothing happened, what was there to fear about him anyway?
"Oh, come on!" he snapped, frustrated. Without thinking, he lifted his gloved hands and swiftly yanked the hood back, fully showing his face for the second time in two days. He leaned forward, one hand on the table and bearing his weight. With his other hand, he pointed at himself, frowning and trembling slightly. "You can't be telling me--honestly telling me--that this isn't scary? You can say so--it's scary, it's strange, it's not natural--"
He stopped suddenly, seeing the look on her face. Her eyes had widened slightly, shining a little. But, it was the oddest thing, she didn't look scared to him. Suddenly he felt horribly guilty, sick in the stomach, and he forced himself to calm down. Maybe he was wrong: that had been the worst idea ever. "Miss--I didn't mean that--"
Hanana shook her head, lowering her eyes and biting at her lip again. "You're not scary-looking," she said softly. "It's a little weird, yes, and I've never seen someone who looked like you do before," she admitted, mouth twitching into a rueful smile. "But it's not really scary. It's just different--that's not a bad thing. I'm sorry if I gave you a wrong impression."
Oh, yes, that certainly made him feel better. Yukiki wanted to hit himself right there--he'd never upset someone like that before, not on purpose. And even if it had been an accident, he didn't like the feeling it gave him. The fact that the girl across from him looked like a sad kitten right now certainly didn't help matters. "No, it's..." he started, not sure how to finish that. "I--You just...
Well, that felt weird.
Hanana looked back up, wiping at one of her eyes, an act that only amplified the guilt. At least no tears had actually fallen; that would have made him feel like more of a monster than he already was. "It's just...You aren't running away, or screaming, or even fainting. You didn't do so when you first saw me, and you're not doing it now, and it's...strange," he finished lamely. "I'm not...used to it."
"I won't do any of that," she assured him, finally smiling again. Now suited her better, Yukiki couldn't help think, than crying. For a few moments, there was another awkward pause, neither quite knowing what to say next. Hanana, for her part, was trying to think of what was appropriate to say: Sorry everyone's been so scared? Why does everyone think you're a monster? How long have you been here? What's the story behind this place? but none seemed truly appropriate, and more than half of them seemed like they'd hit sore spots, she could just feel it.
Her companion finally cleared his throat nervously, standing straighter and turning away. "I'll...let you get back to reading, then. Sorry to bother you." His hands strayed to his hood, and--
"Wait a minute." He turned around, seeing her smiling more naturally now. "If you don't mind me saying though, Yukiki..." She was using his name? He hadn't even used hers yet. "I think you look better with the hood down." He must have been making a face because she quickly added "It lets me see you better; doesn't look like you're trying to hide. You look better that way."
Really? "I'll keep that in mind, then." He moved to turn away again--this was feeling too weird for his tastes already. But he didn't pull the hood back up, at least.
Hanana chuckled, opening her book again, somehow having found her spot in moments. "You have a nice smile, too," she teased lightly.
Yukiki froze, pun not intended. Had he smiled? He hadn't even been aware that--Feeling like his face was on fire, he ducked his head again in embarrassment, walking even faster. "Yes, well--I'll see you later." And then he was out the door.
Hanana laughed quietly again. That had been almost cute.
This is too weird, this is far too weird... he thought to himself, covering his face as he wandered into the forest--his "safe haven," so to speak. Ugh, he felt weird...his chest hurt a little again. And that girl--no, not "that girl," her name was Hanana, he told himself--wasn't making it better. Or maybe she was and that was why things felt weird, because it'd been awful and miserable for a century. Or maybe--argh, he was getting confused.
He slipped into the storm again, needing to be in his "element," so to speak, to take his mind off of this. Off the already-fading pain in his chest.
He couldn't see, but the blue rose, sitting in the first in the forever-blooming garden out back, had lost some petals.