Hello, everyone! I has been quite a [long] while, has it not? (sigh) Sorry for posting so late. I know I keep saying I'll post as soon as I can, yadda-yadda, but I keep getting swamped! And once the water subsides, I can't seem to find my footing anymore. But I did warn you that it takes a while for me to post, and…
Okay, I realize I tend to blah and excuse all the time, so I must stop. Anyways, thank you for all those awesome reviews. Really gave me the courage to push through the tough times somehow. The fact that people actually take time to read…and even review…what I've written gives me an amazing feeling. Thank you.
I hope you take time and enjoy this one as well.
The Maid Turns Clinical!
Chapter 3: Musings in the Interim
His soft answer had frozen Misaki
"We're—we're—this is…." She sputtered inelegantly. With a napkin, she wiped the corners of her mouth, mind racing furiously. There were no signs of laughter in Usui's face now—in fact, he seemed to be reflecting deeply on something whilst staring at her. This made her uncomfortable. She cleared her throat. "I—I think you misheard my question—"
"I don't think I misheard anything at all," he interrupted.
This time, it was her turn to stare. "So….this—you're really making this—a date?"
Seeing her flabbergasted expression, he felt more confident with his answer; with a smile, he murmured. "Yes."
MIsaki found herself staring some more; and staring some more, she found herself getting irritated with the self-satisfied expression on his face. All the warm feelings she felt earlier with the romance, the ambiance, slipped away. She suddenly felt foolish—foolish for getting carried away, even for a moment, causing her to forget her objective.
She chuckled bitterly. "Don't kid around with me. This…cannot be a date."
Usui narrowed his eyes, noticing the change in her mood. Part of him wanted to tread carefully, part of him wanted to stir her on; he chose the latter. "Why not?"
"Why not!" Even as she shuddered for control, Usui watched, fascinated with her temper. "Look. I think you're misunderstanding something here."
With eyes unreadable in the dim light, he slowly filled his own glass and swirled it almost hypnotically at her. "If I have, then you should enlighten me. Why don't you?"
Misaki struggled through her anger; she wanted to break something. Instead, she sighed through gritted teeth, fists curled into a tight ball. When she spoke again, her tone was almost reasonable. "I told you, didn't I? I don't want to lose my—my virginity—because I sold it. I'm choosing for myself, just this one time. So all this—prelude—is unnecessary. I don't want or need it at all."
"But you don't know me at all."
She paused, not really following the sudden shift of thought. "No, I don't—"
"What if I don't want what you want?" he interposed, sipping his wine delicately.
Misaki let out strangled cry. "Why am I here, then?"
"Because," he thought for a moment. "You interest me."
He smiled. "Okay."
"Then—then, we better get down to it," she said through gritted teeth.
Let's just get it over with. Don't confuse me. But she kept silent of these thoughts.
Unfortunately, he could not keep his own thoughts unvoiced. "You still don't understand...You interest me. I don't want just your body—that would be rude and shallow of me, right?" He gave her an impish smile. "Especially when we have just begun our date."
"I told you: this can't be a—"
He ignored her and went on. "I want to know you—all of you. For instance, why were you crying in your sleep?"
"That's none of your business!" she answered sharply. "Why are you doing this?"
He pondered over her question himself. Why am I doing this? She's being stubborn anyways, so why don't I simplify this and get it over with?
But he found himself honestly compelled to know more about her. True, their encounter has been short, but the attachment he felt was immediate. For a moment, he pondered if what he felt was pity, and yet she wouldn't be here if it were that simple. As he watched her angular face, furious amber eyes flickering back at him through the candlelight, he realized:
"Because I want this to be special."
The answer threw her off. But the next words shook her further:
"I like you…Misaki."
She shook her head, denying this, denying the surge of unwanted pleasure she felt from hearing the unexpected words. "That's impossible! You just met me! You know we can't make this personal." The flaming wickers from the candles danced as she slammed her hands on the table; his face, illuminated by the red-orange light, was as unfathomable as ever. He stood up, and she raised her fists to warn him off. "Get away from me!"
"Too late for that," he murmured, pissed off with himself for confessing, pissed off with her for her reception of it. In one smooth motion, he grabbed her wrists, moved around the table and pulled her towards him. She struggled against his grip. And yet though she refused to look at him, a blush stained her cheeks.
Usui wondered fleetingly over her conflicting reactions. His mouth formed a thin line. Why not do a little experiment? He released her left wrist; she automatically responded by pushing him away with the free hand. Ignoring the hand beating against his chest, he slid his hand behind her, pressing his fingertips along the small of her back, allowing her small body to mold deeper against him. A sound of frustration passed his lips as he felt the jolt of electricity from their connected bodies, felt his heart hammering almost painfully in his chest walls. And yet he also felt her pulse quicken, felt her hand lax palm-faced against his chest, heard the breath whoosh out from her. Watched as her furious eyes glazed.
Immediately, he felt relief upon her response, realizing that he wasn't alone. She may deny it endlessly—but body language never lies.
"You want me, too." It was no question.
She only gulped down the mass of emotions she felt. Intense arousal burned through him as he watched her.
Why does she have to complicate something so simple? He wondered.
When her breath returned to her, she looked up at him with uncertain eyes. "Usui-san—"
"This situation doesn't beg honorifics, does it?"
She licked her lips, enticing him further. It was too late to deny the attraction she felt now, not when she just gave herself away. His face seemed to be coming closer, too close—his breath tickled her nose, tingled her mouth. "Usui…I told you. We can't make this personal."
But he was no longer listening. Usui leaned to cover her slightly agape mouth with his. She almost staggered, legs suddenly weak, but he caught her in his arms. Her mind screamed at herself to fight him, to fight off his persistent lips, to bite off that tongue, to push him away, but she couldn't. Her mantras were lost in the whirl of desire which swept her.
She didn't want this at all.
But suddenly, she could move again, and she found herself responding with full force; her arms wound around him on instinct, scratching his back in fury and pleasure. One of his hands was on her bottom, the other arm wound around her back to support her. She shuddered when he squeezed her.
As he pulled up, she gasped for air momentarily but was reclaimed immediately. His mouth travelled to the base of her neck, and when he nipped his way to her collar bones she cried out clawing at him harder.
No longer able to control himself, Usui made a sound in his throat and carried her off to bed.
Hodou Aoi adjusted the mirror whilst slipping a discrete glance at the rearview mirror. Since the boss entered the car, he had been staring pensively through the window. His left forearm rested over a couple of leather-bound books he had brought in.
Usui Takumi was obviously in no mood.
He had been in the Usui household for four years now and since he had been assigned to Takumi two years ago, he managed to get a handle on some of his master's moods, and even a peek into the man himself. Conversation was only awkward when he had a bad day. But today was different—at least, something feels different, he thought curiously.
There was no answer.
"You're pretty early—I thought you said you had classes up to 5:30 pm."
Aoi paused, waiting for an answer. Just when he was about to lose his patience and poke some more, Usui gave him a sparse answer. "Afternoon class canceled."
"Huh. So who rammed the stick up your ass?" He muttered to himself. Usui sent him a bland look, making Aoi wonder if he heard the comment at all.
Discomfited by the gaze, Aoi coughed and tried to joke. "Looking so glum…you dumped or something?"
The reaction, this time, was totally unexpected; his boss visibly stiffened, eyes widening with shock—like he had an epiphany or something.
Bull's eye. The young chauffer whistled, impressed with himself. "Wow. Did I get that right? Guess that sums up your awesome, boss. You dumped someone again? Or was it the other way around?"
Usui raised his eyes to the mirror and the icy expression Aoi saw made him flinch. He was not exactly afraid of his master but he was aware of danger when he saw it. Nevertheless, he squarely met the glare in the mirror before smoothly returning his eyes to the road. He felt his own temper spiking but he bore it down. Though he made it a point to argue with his boss once in a while, he just didn't think it would be wise to push the man today.
"Geez. Thought you'd be happy and all, since you insisted on coming back so much."
"Just drive and mind your own business, Aoi."
With a feral grin, the 18-year old replied, "Oh, but isn't it the butler's job to mind to your businesses, aside from acting as your personal chauffeur?" When the only response he received was a grunt, the grin widened triumphantly and continued. "So I can't be selfish and just mind my own business, can I?"
Usui's glare, which never wavered from the mirror, intensified as though daring him to speak any further. When he didn't take the bait, Usui only sighed and murmured. "Just…drive. It has been a long day." Shutting his eyes, he rested his forehead against the cool glass, as though determined to be oblivious of the passing world.
Aoi only smirked to himself as he murmured a "Yes, boss."
Not once, he noted, did his boss' hand leave the surface of the stack beside him.
Misaki sighed as she parked her bicycle in the dark alley. As she did her usual routine of securing her bike with a lock-and-chain, her hands shook, and it was only when she grabbed some old newspapers that she realized how violently. She fisted her hands in an effort to still them yet the anxiety coursed through her whole body. She closed her eyes to clear her thoughts, but emerald eyes invaded it.
Don't think about it. Don't think about him.
Her heart almost flew to her throat as the alley door burst open. "Misa-chan! You're awfully early today."
"Satsuki-neesama!" she greeted affectionately. "Why are you throwing that stuff out? It's Honoka-san's turn today, isn't it?"
"Oh, it's okay! Honoka texted me about being late."
"But you should've waited for me instead of—"
Satsuki rolled her eyes. "Don't fuss about it, Misa! It's no biggie, so don't worry about it. And if you really want me to wait for you next time just to throw trash, I suggest you buy a phone already."
Misaki sighed in defeat. Satsuki, their "employer", was a bright and happy woman of thirty-five years old. She used to be one of them until a year ago when their previous pimp suddenly up and went, leaving them all jobless. Satsuki, in effect, saved them by using what little of her savings by restarting the business and changing some aspects of it. Her dream, they knew, was for them to earn enough money to start anew. Suffice to say, Misaki respected and admired her, despite—or probably—because of everything. "Yeah, I need to get out early today, too. I'll just finish the daily quota—and probably add one more if I can—before I leave."
Satsuki smiled sympathetically. "Oh, yeah. School is starting already, huh?"
"Oh, I almost forgot! You've been ordered for a Special."
Misaki's eyebrows shot up. "Loaded client. Nice."
"Are you fine with that?"
"Can't really say I'm not, can I? Haha. Kidding," Satsuki smiled at her sympathetically before entering.
There are two things that Satsuki could claim to be proud of when it came to the Love-Love Café. Firstly, it was legal, and being legal led to another big advantage called cleanliness. They benefitted from routine health inspections and check-ups which meant there were no drugs and no STDs; even first-time customers are routinely asked for a health status. As very few prostitution rings could be legal and famous at the same time, they earned many customers in the red-light district. And plenty of them were very willing to pay for the services they rendered.
The routine in Love-Love Café has always been the same. There are small security groups at front provided by the local mafia (old friends with Satsuki). At the front desk, someone would be showing them a brochure containing photographs of the entertainers. If the person requiring the services was of high social standing, a special menu would be given them showing the top four entertainers: Honoka, Misaki, Erika and Subaru. Each has their own special parlors and showrooms located at the upper floors. As for Satsuki, she would only be called per request, and even then, it would depend on whether she wanted to entertain them or not.
As it was quite early, Misaki went up to her own parlors and took out a dress with heavy lacy trimmings.
So today is Maid-day, she thought with an inward sigh. How ironic.
She put it on, smoothed the small creases and stared at herself in the mirror. The woman staring back at her held a confused expression today. There was a personal make-up set on the boudoir; she took some cream and spread it evenly on her face. Then, she used a light foundation which matched her skin tone; when she was satisfied, she took out the bronzers and pencil eyeliners. A year ago, she had no idea how to use all these products; now, it was already a mindless task which usually relaxed her. But today, she was haunted by those unreadable, intense eyes…
Don't think about it. Don't think about him.
And yet the more she tried not to, the more she thought of him. And the memory shook her.
"What," MIsaki stood up slowly. The noisy scraping produced by the feet of the chair against the floor added only to the tension. "What…did you say?"
"You heard me," Usui angled his head to read the expression on her face but her long bangs hid her eyes. He continued. "The pay will be good. You don't have to—"
For the second time that day, Misaki's hand rose—this time to punch him—but he caught her wrist, not without some surprise.
"Why are you—" But he could feel her hand shaking; in fact, her whole body seemed be vibrating with energy.
When she finally looked up, he was stunned by the unexpected fury in her eyes. "Your maid? Do you think I'm stupid? You're just a pervert." She hissed.
His eyes flashed at her. "I haven't told you the terms yet."
"I don't need to hear it. I know what you want—all men are the same!"
He didn't waver from the animosity in her voice. Usui simply looked at her, a strange feeling in his chest. "You told me before that I'm different from any man you've met. Has that changed?"
She faltered but shook her head. "Don't bring what happened then here."
"What I am offering you is a way to change your life. We both know you hate what you're doing. I can…match what you earn a night, and you don't need to do something you don't like."
"I don't need your pity." She punctuated this by pulling her arm free. She raised her hand again but she hesitated; she clenched her fist before lowering
"What you don't need," he said softly, almost dangerously. "Is that damn pride of yours."
"Don't judge me—don't—!" She wanted to scream at him, but she didn't want their conversation heard. She choked the anger down and pulled her wrist away from his grasp. She closed her eyes, closed him off. "Please…I'm tired. And I still have to study."
She opened her eyes, and the expression on her face simply sliced through Usui. "Please…leave me alone."
With that, she cleared the table and left him staring stock still into space.
She was already finished coloring her eyelids and cheekbones. She added some white along the edges of her waterline, to make her eyes look bigger. For her mouth, she applied a thin layer of cream then added a lip liner, before putting on brown lipstick; she spread it evenly with her pinkie. For added drama, she applied glittering floss over her mouth and dabbed sparkling powder over her face, neck and chest. For the last touch, she added mascara and curled her lashes. With that done, she stared some more at herself, satisfied with the results. The confusion that was there earlier was now masked by a totally different persona. That's right. She was Misa-chan here. As much as she despised it, Misaki Ayuzawa, the medical student with many dreams and an uncertain future had to be buried deep.
And yet she can't leave. Not yet. His offer, now that her mind was slightly clearer, was dazzling. But she couldn't leave, not when she remembered that she wasn't alone here. She thought of the other women, especially Subaru, Erika and even the prickly Honoka—her comrade-at-arms in this place. And she thought of Satsuki and her genuine care for each of them.
Thinking of them and leaving…the idea was treacherous and left a bad taste in her mouth. Add to the fact that the money—she needed the money…
She clenched her hand. "He wouldn't understand at all."
"You never quit with that habit of yours." Said a familiar voice.
Where it an unfamiliar voice, Misaki would have been startled and angry at being spied on. But she knew that voice; almost immediately, Misaki felt the unpleasant weight drop from her chest; she was already smiling even as she turned towards the speaker standing idly at the doorway. "And what habit is that?"
The young man simply raised his brows at her before easing off the door panel he had been leaning on; he went over to sit on her vanity table. He had shed off his chauffer outfit and is now donning a polo shirt, the first three buttons undone partnered with dark brown slacks. His stylish and unevenly cut black hair was pulled back into a tiny pony; the rest of it curtained around his face. An earring glinted from his left ear, matching the glittering of his dark eyes.
"Talking to yourself. You do that a lot. Hello, Misa." He grinned and kissed her cheek playfully.
"Hello, Aoi," she gave him a once-over and whistled. "You look trim as usual."
"And you're finally wearing the dresses I made especially for you. Of course," he added, pulling her up on her feet. The younger man looked at her appraisingly before giving a satisfied smirk. "You look as fabulous as I expected you to be in this outfit."
"I'm only wearing this because it's already there…and it's cheaper." Upon Aoi's bland expression, she grinned. "Okay, I'm just joking. Yes, this is a really fabulous outfit—"
"—half of the time, you don't know the difference between any of them—"
"—you have a point there, but—"
"Misaki," he drawled, "Let's just skip your unflattering niceties and tell me how you really feel about this dress."
She blinked. "Er. Thank you."
He smiled almost predatorily. "Good enough. Now, aren't you supposed to serve as my company for—" he looked at his watch—"an hour tonight?"
Misaki ogled. "You're my client?"
"Yes. Anything wrong with that?"
"Better and better," she shrugged.
"Now, let's first go to the bar so you can tell me who just put that frown on your face earlier." She hooked her arm over his when he offered and went down to the club area. "Maybe I can get you drunk enough to go home with me."
She scoffed. "Even if Satsuki-neesama is your aunt, you know I can't just up and leave unless…" her eyes widened at the confident glint in Aoi's eyes. "Oh god—don't tell me…you did! You the one who ordered the special! But that's—"
"Expensive. I know," chuckled Aoi, amused when Misaki slapped her arm lightly. "Hey, wouldn't you like one night away from greasy old men?"
"You should save your money instead of throwing it around—"
"I'm not," he said firmly, catching the hand in another half-hearted slap. Looking her in the eye, he said firmly. "I'm not. You're my friend, Misaki-chan, and we haven't seen each other in a while."
Misaki saw the serious look in the younger man's face and sighed. They've been through a lot—Aoi and her. Not to mention she was the one who took Aoi's virginity—for a discounted fee, of course. He used to be infatuated with her but she knew he was past that already. They were just good friends.
With her slim hands, she cupped Aoi's handsome face and tipped it down so she could kiss the base of his chin. By his surprised expression, she knew he didn't expect that at all; she chuckled. "Thank you, Aoi. It's been such a day. I'm glad you could drop by."
With a grin, he gallantly offered his arm, which she gladly took. "Then tell me about it."
Usui removed his gold-rimmed eyeglasses and looked out of the window. The view of city life sparkling in the midst of the dark night was a relaxing contrast to what he had been reading. He had just finished reading two journals tackling new proposals on the treatment of Duchenne's muscular dystrophy which were, overall, interesting though requiring more studies to back it up. And before that, he had finished reading three chapters from Robbins and Cotran Pathology, that alone equivalent to 150 pages of text.
All of this had taken him only 3 hours.
For a moment, he saw his reflection in the glass, wondered at the bothered expression on his face. It took more than that to stress him out, so why that expression?
The memory of a completely pained face returned to him, and he found himself sighing softly.
"So it all goes back to you, Misaki Ayuzawa." The stack of books she left on the library was on his desk, too. He wondered over his affinity for her.
Unaware to her, he had been watching her in the library; and watching, he wondered at the uniqueness of her existence. Sure, he had seen plenty of student prostitutes before but Misaki was different: an honors student—in the medical field at that—moonlighting as a whore.
What led her to this? He remembered thinking just that. The question remained unanswered. When he had finally approached her, he was overwhelmed by that urge to be her knight—a cliché thought, so unlike him. But it was there, and he couldn't ignore it.
A fleeting 'what if' gripped him, and he had blurted it out without thinking, without planning. And this too was unlike him. Yes, he admittedly had moments of spontaneity, but not like this…
"Be my maid instead."
Fool! Usui stood up, full of unease as he mentally cursed, remembering those fateful words which she rejected so vehemently. That offer, he thought, should be tempting. But wrong delivery on his part and a closed mind on hers soured a potentially good business deal.
His gaze fell now on his spacious, mercilessly Spartan living room; nothing adorned the walls, there were no pictures on any surfaces, not even a speck of dirt. Rather than clean, it was an empty, unattached place. There would literally be nothing to clean.
Business deal…right. Who're you kidding?
He gave up arguing with himself, knew that it was pointless; he could go on for hours circling around his psyche but he could not find himself giving in to the ridiculousness of his whole situation…yet. The fact that he was interested in her didn't mean that he is going to have sudden romantic idealisms. Returning to his desk, he picked his reading list, unsurprised that he had finished all noted there. He did not mind the assigned reading as he had already finished those books—and many others—months before. When Usui gave up the mindless rebellion, he gradually returned to his passions; returned to the study of medicine with the determination to prep himself for the new semester.
Without thinking, he picked up Hane's Neuroanatomy—the one she had been reading in the library.
I can't be her knight. This sudden made him frown. It seems like he can't turn away thoughts of her at all. As he browsed through the pages of the book, he noticed a thin bundle of recycled paper, literally sewed at one edge. It was a makeshift notebook, and on its corner was a name…
With a sharp breath, he pulled it out for inspection. It was a summary of diseases, specifically of the upper gastrointestinal tract, all hand-written and complete with their respective etiology, pathophysiology, clinical features and even illustrations which conferred easier comprehension. The hand-writing was neat and but small and cramped, as though she was saving space or had too little paper.
Obviously the latter, he thought as he browsed. At the last page, he saw the references she used. She used three books and two British medical journals. The fact that she summarized thick chapters from those books into just a few pages is an impressive and arduous feat. There are surely more of these, but how was she able to complete it? Making a reviewer this comprehensive would take hours, and with her work and demanding academic schedule…
"Do you even sleep…Misa-chan?" he mused before carefully tucking the precious notebook back between the pages of the neuroanatomy book. He smiled to himself, suddenly determined.
Usui pulled out his Blackberry and speed-dialed the number of his butler. If he's going to help her, he needed information, and Aoi—in spite of his age—has always been reliable with his information. He frowned when, after successive rings, he was transferred to voicemail.
"*Beep* Voicemail…duh. I'm obviously not here if you've reached this part. Just leave a message or call later. *Beep*"
The frown deepened. It was very unlike Aoi to turn in early at all. He called again. After three rings, there was an answer.
"Hey, boss! It's kinda late, ain't it?" said Aoi, airily. There was a slight slur in his voice which predictably told Usui that someone had one too many. From the background noises, he was obviously not in his room either.
"Huh? No, of co—urrrghh—"
There was loud crash—the phone must have fallen—Usui instinctively held the his phone away for a moment before shouting into it, suddenly worried. "Hey—Aoi! What happened—Aoi—!"
Someone picked it up and a female voice answered this time. "Hello? Don't worry—I've got him, he's just fainted—oops—okay, help me out here—"
"Oh—sorry, I'm,"—an unlady-like grunt—"Carrying him off the pavement."
He could hear scuffling sounds and more grunting; if he strained hard enough, he would have head Aoi's moan in the background. The lull allowed him to recover from the sudden worry over his butler; now, the voice on the other line reminded him of her. But what are the chances of that anyways?
He listened to her mutter and thought: Okay. You know you're getting an unhealthy obsession when all girls you hear start to sound like her.
"There! Uh—who'd you say you were again?"
"I didn't. I'm his boss. Who's this?"
"Old friend. Look—" The woman's voice was a mix of exasperation and worry—if that was even possible. "Aoi's obviously unavailable. I'll pass him your message once he's sober…Are you reprimanding him for this?"
"Good. Leave it to me—I'm skinning his ass for this."
"Hn. Maybe I should skin yours for letting him get to this state at all."
An indignant sound. "I did not!"
And it was evolving into a strange conversation with a strange woman. Definitely sounds like her. He sighed and shook his head. I'm being stupid.
"Where are you?"
"I am obviously going to pick him up."
"I'll just drop him home." Was there…panic?
"Do you know his address?"
"Where are you?"
"…You'd do that? For your butler?"
"I'd do that that a friend."
That seemed to settle her indecision; she rattled off an address and a name of a street. He raised a brow; the location was within the Kabukicho district.
"There's a ramen vendor just after that alley…I'm bringing Aoi there to sober him up a bit."
"All right." He ended the call, stared at the silent phone for a full minute more before heading out to the parking area.
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