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“Kisara, make sure those reports are filed by the end of the day.”

 

“Yes sir,  Mr. Kaiba. Will there be anything else that you require of me this evening?”

 

“Yes, read me next week's schedule one more time.”

 

“Of course. Monday will be spent discussing the quarterly reports in a variety of board meetings with your shareholders. Tuesday is much of the same as well a telephone conference with Industrial Illusions.

 

Wednesday you have a brunch with the Vangraff’s, followed by back to back meetings from one to six. Thursday you have a video conference with Von Schroeder- and have adamantly instructed me to remind you that you can not cancel again because, quote, your ‘complete disdain for that foppish, pink-haired freak can be quelled by the potential prospects of their recent advancements with the VR programs’, and Friday you will be attending a charity gala starting at eight.”

 

The CEO's lips curled ever so slightly, hearing the woman beside him parrot his words in regards to Von Schroeder.

 

“Good. Pencil in a haircut for me on Friday as well. See if you can get something before noon.”

 

“I'll add it to the schedule now, sir. Is there anything else that I can do for you?”

 

“No, that will be all.” the CEO gave a roll to his sore shoulder, muscles no doubt screaming from under use as he returned his attention to his laptop and began clacking away at the keys.

 

“Sir,” the woman began, out of turn, no less. “Are you sure you won't be needing my services for the rest of the evening? You've been working very long hours, as of late. I wouldn't mind staying to ensure your proper care. It is my job to be of use to you in any way that you made need.”

 

“It's also your job to do as I say, Kisara, and I believe I've already dismissed you for the evening. Now leave.” came the curt reply.

 

The young CEO had missed the slight flinch to her form and the way her eyes had dulled, though only for a moment, as she respectfully lowered her head.

 

“Of course, sir. Please have a good night and try to get some rest,” she turned, “that goes for you as well, young Mr. Kaiba.”

 

The third person in the room, Mokuba, nodded and politely waved as she left.

 

“Take care, Kisara!”

 

The younger boy was happy to see that she had left with a small smile but pulled his attention to his brother, Seto Kaiba, as the latter released an audible sigh.

 

“When will that woman ever learn to take a break? She'll work herself to exhaustion if she stays late with me every night.”

 

This time it was Mokuba who sighed. This is exactly why he needed to intervene. His amazing, incredibly smart and talented big brother was also the world's most clueless idiot.

 

“But Seto, you didn't have to say it like that to her.”

 

“Say it like what?” the elder Kaiba masked his brief concern for his employee. “She's of no use to me if she's tired and sluggish.”

 

Mokuba rolled his eyes. He didn't buy it.

 

“Would it kill you to say, ‘Hey, Kisara, I really value you and your dedication, and I think you deserve a work schedule that isn't insane like mine because you're always on time and really nice. Also, you have a great rack,’ ?”

 

The brunette faltered in his typing, the keyboard making a disdainful click as four keys were pressed at once.

 

“First of all, Mokuba, I treat all of my employees equally and fairly, unless they screw up, cross me, or disappoint me.

 

Secondly, she's employed by KaibaCorp- that should be thanks enough. And lastly, as an employee of mine, I kindly ask you to refrain from speaking out in her such a way.”

 

“Says the guy who stares at her cleavage every time she bends over.”

 

Seto's brow twitched.

 

“Let me rephrase that. You're a lecherous little pervert and I don't want you ogling her like she's a piece of meat.”

 

“C'mon on, big bro! You and I both know there's nothing wrong with appreciating a gorgeous looking lady. Curves and all.”

 

“Is this another one of those ‘teenager things’ that I was warned about?” Honestly, Mokuba had become more of a wise ass the older he got, and now that he was sixteen, he thought he owned the damn place.

 

“You're lonely, bro. I can see it. And you've got a super hot chick hanging all over you that already waits on you hand and foot, and you're just going to cast her aside?”

 

“Is there a point to this, Mokuba?”

 

“Ugh! My point is, is that you've got someone totally interested in you and you completely ignore her.”

 

“You're making a lot of baseless assumptions. I would ask you to verify your sources, except that I don't care.”

 

“You being dismissive proves that you do care,” the boy countered. “Are you seriously telling me that you've never noticed anything about her outside of her job position? She's smart, she's dedicated, she's charming, she's cute, and she can even be pretty funny if you get to know her. Look, I just like the girl. She seems really nice, and the fact that I approve of her should be more important to you than anything.” he crossed his arms indignantly.

 

“Nice try, that little speech probably would have worked back when you were ten and adorable. Now you're just a brat. And if you like her so much, why don't you date her, since you seem so fond of the idea? Sixteen is the legal age of consent- so go wild. But leave me out of it.”

 

Mokuba scrunched his nose in disgust.

 

“Ew. Please literally never say those same words in a sentence ever again. I don't need you of all people giving me the ‘talk’.” he shuddered.

 

“Then you should understand that my love life is also none of your business.”

 

“It is when I see you wasting away like an idiot when you could be starting a meaningful relationship with a nice girl that's into you and that you see and spend time with her literally on a daily basis.”

 

“Mokuba,” there was warning in his tone. “Enough, I'm done with this conversation. If you're here just to bother me, then please go home. I have a lot of work to do.”

 

“You always have work to do…stubborn jackass.” he mumbled under his breath but got up anyways. “Whatever, I'm heading back.” the raven haired boy took his briefcase and left the office, making a quick call to Roland to pick him up and take him home.

 

The conversation may have been over, but the war was just beginning. Mokuba was bound and determined not to let his brother make this mistake. Because that's what brothers did, they looked out for each other and didn't give up on each other.

 

So Mokuba wasn't going to give up on Seto. His brother deserved love and happiness, just like anyone else, and having gotten to know the fair-haired woman better during her time of service, he was all but convinced that she would be the one to give Seto a happy life. He just needed to be a bit smarter in his approach…

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Friday, the Day of the Charity Banquet

 

Seto slightly rolled up his sleeve to reveal his Rolex watch and look and at the time. With a click of his tongue, he pulled out his phone and dialed his brother's number.

 

“Hey big bro! What's up?”

 

“Mokuba, where the Hell are you? I'm about to leave to the charity dinner, and you're still not home.”

 

“That was today?! Wow, oof, I'm sorry, I totally forgot!”

 

Seto's brow twitched once more.

 

“Mokuba, you're sixteen years old, you can't get away with these excuses anymore. And I know you know that we had to attend because you were there when Kisara went over the schedule.”

 

“OK, OK, chill. Don't panic. Look, I'm kinda in the middle of something, but don't worry about me. I'll be there, just might be a bit fashionably late.”

 

Kaiba groaned in annoyance and rubbed his temples. “If you're not there in thirty minutes, I'm grounding you.” he hung up before his brother could reply and put his phone away. He left the house, entered the awaiting car, and listened to public radio and checked his emails during the commute.

 

Seto didn't really care much for these events. He found it more worthwhile to physically donate to the foundation or hospital or whatever it was personally. All these galas really did was stroke the egos of all the tycoons who were rich enough to give up millions of dollars and never miss it. It was a glorified social gathering for the rich and the snobby and Seto, unfortunately, did have to show up, at least once or twice a year to keep up appearances and scour the dregs for any potential conquests.

 

The CEO exited his limo upon arrival and walked up to the entrance, handing his tickets to the usher.

 

“Two tickets, sir?” the usher questioned.

 

“The other is for my brother, he's my plus one, he's just running a bit-”

 

“Oh, Mr. Kaiba, there you are!” an eerily familiar voice called out to Seto and the sound made him bristle. He turned, recognizing that feminine figure, yet his jaw nearly dropped as he took in her silhouette as he had never seen her before.

 

Kisara, his lowly and bookish secretary, was standing there at the bottom step, long, billowy white hair pulled back in a deceptively messy bun and a beautifully flowing and elegant cocktail mermaid dress. She wore no jewelry but a white clutch was clasped in her hands and the dress itself already spoke volumes. What with the way the bodice hugged her large breasts, pushing them up further while thick but short sleeves hung off her shoulders. The dress itself was white at the top with an ombre pattern of blues that began light and progressively became deeper and darker in shade the farther down the dress it went, as though she could be swallowed by the ocean. And a perfectly placed slit up the left side of the leg revealed more of her smooth and creamy complexion and she wore white stilettos to complete the ensemble.

 

“I'm sorry if my attire is displeasing. This was rather last minute and I quickly bought what I assumed would be presentable for this event.”

 

After a whole minute of silence, Seto finally remembered that he had a brain and used it to verbally communicate in an intelligent manner.

 

“Uhh….uhm….t-the dress is lov- uh, I mean, fine. What, uh, what are you doing here, Kisara?”

 

The woman looked to her boss in slight confusion.

 

“I am attending as your plus one, of course, sir, as you requested.”

 

Seto blinked, his ire beginning to bubble a bit as the initial shock wore off.

 

“Really? And when exactly did I make this so called ‘request’?” he spoke in a clipped tone.

 

“It was- oh no, have I made a mistake?” looking genuinely worried, Kisara took her phone and her bifocals out of her clutch and went through her text messages.

 

“Pardon me, sir. I'm afraid you're blocking the entrance and there are other patrons waiting to come inside…”

 

Seto shot the usher a glare.

 

“Fine. We'll be right there. You already have the tickets.” he got out of the way and went to join Kisara at the bottom step.

 

“I could have sworn that-”

 

Seto unceremoniously snatched her phone away from her and scrolled through her messages without permission to get the issue resolved. And that's when he found it. That little bastard had tricked them both.

 

‘Hey there, Kisara! It's Mokuba! (Duh) and I have a favour to ask. It's super last minute, but would you go with Seto to the 💃 💃 💃??

 

I don't want to go and he says he'd prefer your company anyways. He uses this night for business deals anyways, so it would be SUPER helpful to him if you went instead. 🙏🙏🙏

 

He already has both tickets. Just meet him at the entrance so they'll let you in. Thanks! Have fun! 😉’

 

“I'm going to kill him.” Seto growled and handed Kisara back her phone and explained. “Mokuba played a prank on both of us. He just didn't want to go and, for some reason, got you involved.”

 

“O-oh I see…” she looked over the message one more time and seemed a bit…melancholy? It was as though the girl was disappointed that she'd been tricked rather than annoyed. “Well, I'm sorry to have wasted your time with these shenanigans, sir. Please, enjoy the party, and I'll see you again on Monday.” but before she could call for an Uber, Kisara suddenly found herself being dragged by the wrist, practically being man handled as they approached the entrance once more.

 

“Don't be an idiot, you're already here, so you might be useful after all.”

 

The usher let them inside and the unlikely pair entered the main function hall. All around were billionaires, celebrities, and various benefactors all dressed to the nines with precious jewels and gaudy garbs. The women especially wore tight, and often very revealing clothing, tailored specifically to show off their implants.

 

Seto did his best not to grimace at the all too familiar scenery, but Kisara seemed completely enchanted. She was quiet and, at times, a bit clumsy, but he had hardly known the girl to wear more than a serious or even expression in all her time of employment. A professional façade, no doubt, but for the first time, Seto felt as though he was looking at her as a woman, rather than just an employee.

 

“Mr. Kaiba, sir, are the guests at these sorts of parties always dressed so lavishly?” the poor girl suddenly felt a bit out of place. Her dress was beautiful, yes, but she had no jewelry or painted nails, no make up, hair thrown together, and an outfit that consisted of a (name brand) discounted dress with a pair of shoes she'd had sitting in her closet.

 

“Sometimes. I never pay attention to these fads unless it's something truly outlandish. You sound surprised, Kisara. Don't tell me you've never attended a function before.”

 

“I haven't.” she admitted easily. “I have experienced many ‘firsts’ since I began working at KaibaCorp, and this is another one.”

 

Seto rose a brow at that. He found that hard to understand. The girl made it sound as though she'd never been to any sort of party. Not that he was fond of them himself, but at least he knew of their goings on.

 

“Well, prepare to be underwhelmed. We need to start mingling with the crowd, and all of them are pretty empty-headed.”

 

“Fear not, sir, I'm sure that we can make this evening beneficial.”

 

“Well, well, Kaiba Boy, what do we have here?” a notable effeminate voice drawled from behind them and Seto and Kisara turned, meeting a familiar face- Pegasus.

 

“Pegasus. I know that you're always on the guest list, yet I'm still somehow disappointed every time I see that you're here.”

 

“You wound me, Kaiba Boy!” Pegasus placed a hand over his chest in mock hurt. “And to think we were having civil conversations but a few days ago.”

 

“Times change.”

 

“And speaking of change, who, may I ask, if this enchanting creature by your side?”

 

“My name is Kisara. We have met briefly before, Mr. Pegasus. I am Mr. Kaiba's secretary; it's good to formally meet you.” she stuck out her hand in a manner for a professional handshake.

 

The lecherous older man merely grinned at her, delicately took her hand in his own, and turned it over, bringing the smooth back to his lips and placing a gentle kiss.

 

“I assure you, young lady, the pleasure is all mine.” Pegasus turned his gaze back to Kaiba, amused to see the murderous glare in his eyes while Kisara examined her hand, confused as to why anyone would kiss it, of all greetings. “And as for you, Kaiba Boy, I must say, that putting the moves on your secretary is a rather clichè practice, but I must admit that you both make a cute couple. I sincerely wish you well.”

 

“I'm not low enough to lay hands on my employees, Pegasus.” though the slight tint to his cheeks showed that the idea had gotten to him.

 

“Please, Mr. Pegasus, you should refrain from making such tactless jokes at Mr. Kaiba's expense. Our relationship is strictly professional. And I will happily and willingly follow Mr. Kaiba with whatever instructions I am given. Nothing more.”

 

“You're joking, right?” he looked between them, dumbfounded that they both seemed completely oblivious to their own chemistry. “Fine, fine, have it your way. I'll let you crazy kids figure it out on your own. I must bid you adieu for now, ta ta~” he let them be but Kaiba still felt his nerves shaking a bit.

 

“This is going to be a long night….” he pinched the bridge of his nose.

 

Kisara didn't like to see her boss look so distressed, so she had the idea to go get them drinks from the table.

 

However, one good drink between colleagues turned into two, and, as the night wore on, it became clear that the benefactors were in rare form tonight and even the bitchy Vangraff’s had shown up, Mrs. Vangraff in particular, the matriarch of the family, seemed to be one of the many people whose sole existence in life was to torture Seto.

 

A few more drinks and a few more bad conversations and Kisara and Seto had come to realize that they were the only people in the room that they could stand. By the end of the night, they'd spent the last hour standing close near the window to the balcony, Kisara's cheeks flushed a dark pink from the alcohol as her lack of melanin made her skin change colour easily. And Seto leaned almost casually against the wall, a drink in hand, and his tie loosened as they spoke in hushed tones, gossiping about the other guests and laughing at their expense.

 

There was an almost jovial air between them, and Kisara moved to grab another drink but lost her balance and fell back, Seto easily catching her and she rested against his chest, giggling uncontrollably.

 

“S'enough for you Kisara. I won't let you drink yourself drunkk.”

 

“Noooo, please, Mr. Kaiba, jus’- jus’ gimme one more. Honest heheh~” she turned to push off of him and stand correctly but she gave up and just stood there, still pressed against him.

 

“Sssir, your chest is not comfy.”

 

“Pfft. My chest is not your pillow, woman.”

 

“Good. It's a lousy pillow.” they both snickered at that, neither one seeming to care about the invasion of personal space at that moment.

 

“Smile!”

 

Kisara lazily lifted her head and instantly regretted her decision. A bright flash of light came from a reporter with a large camera and bulb, grinning to himself wildly as he was sure that he'd snapped a photo of the scoop of the century- Seto Kaiba in a confirmed relationship. But that feeling lasted only two seconds before a scream ripped from Kisara's throat and she covered her eyes, shaking her head almost violently and crying in agony.

 

Kisara's reaction had instantly helped Seto sober a bit as he looked at her in concern then glared at the reporter.

 

“What do you do to her?!”

 

“Woah, woah, chill! I just took a picture. Look, lady, I think you're overreacting a bit…”

 

Kisara shook her head and tried to get away, to find the rest room and wash out her eyes. But with her lack of vision and and unsteady footing thanks to the alcohol, she fell over more than once, making a huge scene by knocking over tables and hitting the walls for support.

 

Seto, concerned, followed her and mentally berated himself, noting a small swerve in his steps as the alcohol was still affecting him, if only a little. He reached out and held her by her upper arms, keeping her still, steady, and standing so that she wouldn't harm anymore property, or herself.

 

“Calm down, Kisara! It's just me- please focus. Where are you hurt? Should I call for medical help?”

 

“N-no,” she focused on his support to gather her words, although her speech from fragmented from the pain. “I-it's my eyes- my eyes! Bathroom, please…..need to water…”

 

Seto moved on hand just above her waist to make it easier to guide her.

 

“Follow me. I'll be your eyes for now.”

 

They walked until they located the women's restroom. Seto went inside with her and lead her to the closest sink. She felt for the basin and cranked the handles on the cold water.

 

Kisara leaned down, brushed some stray hair away from her face and used her fingers to force her lid open and placed the tender area under the stream for only a few seconds. But a few seconds brought forth a fresh wave of agony as the water burned and stung, yet it would ultimately help her eyes adjust faster.

 

With a sharp, cry of pain and grit teeth, she repeated the process with the other eye. She turned off the facet and shook her head again, holding on to the sink and bending low, as thought she may throw up.

 

She did not, but she looked completely miserable and held that position for a few minutes, her breathing slightly shallow.

 

This is where Seto felt a bit awkward. He didn't know what else he could do to help her, and he didn't know why he should really care, yet he did. He wasn't normally one to rush to the aid of others, but he found that it upset him to see her in pain like that.

 

Given the events, it was probably best that they leave, but he still needed to take care of a few things first.

 

“Will you be alright if I leave you alone for a little bit?”

 

She gave a gentle nod in response, paying little attention to the scuffle from Seto's expensive shoes hitting the tiles as he left the room.

 

By the time he'd come back, Kisara didn't know how long he'd been gone, but she was still bent in that same position with her head low and frazzled, astray hair covering her face.

 

“Roland is waiting for us up front. Are you alright enough to walk out?”

 

“I should be, I think.” she stood up and finally looked at Seto. Her normally large and even eyes looked tired and puffy from stress and crying. They were glassy still, likely from dousing them with tap water. And, strangest of all, her pupils had shrunk considerably and seemed to make small, sporadic movements, as though they were jittery.

 

“Is that normal for you?”

 

Kisara turned to look in the mirror, eyes squinting as she tried to make out her own reflection.

 

“In a way, yes. But I can hardly see at the moment, and I may strain my eyes further if I put my bifocals back on.”

 

“Then take these,” he handed her a pair of sunglasses and put a supportive hand on her back, “and hold on to me if you need to.”

 

Kisara gave a small, grateful smile and slipped on the shades. It wasn't an instant remedy, but it helped shield her eyes from the glare from the lights, fluorescent or otherwise.

 

Finally exiting the restroom, and leaning on Seto a bit for support, she kept her head a bit low, avoiding looking at the other patrons still in attendance at the party.

 

After being helped into the car, Kisara sat opposite of Seto, and the car ride took on an awkward mood as there was a heavy silence that hung in the air.

 

“Sir…” Kisara began, finding her voice, “I'd like to deeply apologize for-”

 

“What happened in there?” he turned to question her. “In all the time that I've known you, I've never seen you act like that.”

 

A flush of shame coloured her cheeks and she gripped the fabric of her dress over her knees, the dress itself now ruined and tattered from snagging on tables and spilt wine.

 

“It is a side effect of my Albinism. When you have Albinism, you're nearly always born with some sort of visual impairment. In my case, I experience photosensitivity around very bright or flashing lights.

 

I need bifocals to read and make out details. And, legally, I am unable to operate a moving vehicle, so I'm entirely reliant on car services.” she worried her lower lip, still thoroughly embarrassed. “I can't apologize enough sir, for my transgressions. I normally carry shades or tinted glasses with me as well, to avoid such incidents. Though I have never been to a party or function before, and I didn't think I would need to bring them because it was indoors and the lights only hung from the ceiling. But my ignorance is no excuse for my actions.”

 

While Kisara internally berated herself, Seto looked at her with curiosity and mild understanding. He had forgotten that Kisara was an Albino, in so much that he didn't pay attention to her greater details than he did to any other employee.

 

He may not know a lot about Albinism, but what she told him made sense. It would also explain her violent reaction to the camera flash- the poor girl suffered from the intense lighting and became inflicted with a temporary blindness as a result. Seto grinned, thinking ruefully to himself that he was glad he got the personal information of that reporter before they left- he would enjoy the pleasant thought that that worm would awake in the morning and reel in horror as he discovers that he no longer has a job.

 

Seto looked then to his fair-haired companion and noticed the unmistakable look of sorrow and regret, marring her otherwise flawless features. She reminded him of a sad little bird and he felt the urge to say something to make her feel better. But what should he say?

 

Seto Kaiba doesn't comfort people. Seto Kaiba doesn't even care for the company of other people.

 

“Hn, it happens. That's why they tell assholes like that not to use the flash when they take candid photographs. At least it made that party a bit more interesting.”

 

“I suppose that is true….”

 

Another pregnant silence fell between them and the conversation was clearly over. For various reasons, neither one spoke again until the car came to a full stop on front of the Kaiba residence, with Roland coming around front to open the door for Seto.

 

“Roland, what are we doing at the mansion? I said we needed to take Kisara home.”

 

“Ah, sorry, sir. You never told me where she lived, so I sort of assumed you meant you were… bringing her home.” he coughed to cover his slight embarrassment for misreading the situation.

 

Seto pinched the bridge of his nose and let out a reserved sigh of frustration. Though he was more so annoyed with himself, considering that it would have been easier if Roland had just asked, but he knew the reason he refrained was because most of his employees knew better than to question Seto's will.

 

“Fine, fine. Looks like you're staying the night then, Kisara.” his tone left no room for argument so the flustered girl mumbled a small but audible agreement and followed Seto into his mansion.

 

The lights inside weren't dim, but they weren't terribly bright either. So Kisara removed the glasses that her boss had given her, her eyes having rested more, and now, only a small sting of residual pain remained.

 

She kept close to her employer, and wished her eyesight were better so that she could appreciate the decorum of the house. After all, this would likely be the only time she'd ever set foot in the Kaiba mansion, and it would be interesting to see how exactly Kaiba chooses to furnish his own dwellings.

 

Distracted, she slightly bumped into Seto as he had stopped moving at the bottom stair of the staircase.

 

“I'm sorry! I wasn't paying attention where I was walking…”

 

Seto seemed to be in thought for another moment before responding.

 

“Are you always this clumsy when you've been drinking?”

 

It wasn't clear whether it was meant in good humor or as an insult, so the comment hung in the air and was forgotten as they ascended the stairs.

 

The girl followed him down another hallway and paid attention to not be too close when he once again abruptly stopped.

 

“Wait here for a minute.” he told her and opened the door to the right before closing it.

 

Kisara did as told, waiting patiently yet curious as to what was on the other side of that door. Could this perhaps be Kaiba's private bedroom? The thought brought a fresh wave of heat to her cheeks, though she tried to will away any unsavoury thoughts.

 

After all, Kaiba was her employer- nothing more. A myriad of unfortunate, but not entirely regrettable, circumstances had just so happened to lead Kisara into his home. She had seen this scenario hundreds of times in those silly romance movies and novels. The rough but kind-hearted boss takes his subordinate home, one thing leads to another, and eventually they start some grand romance together.

 

But things like that didn't happen in real life. Kaiba was not a one-dimensional beefcake that would sweep Kisara off her feet and ‘show her a better life’. Although, admittedly, he was fairly attractive, but there was so much more to him than that. He was callous and calculated, he was impulsive and menacing. He could even be down right mean-spirited at times, but he was also generous and affectionate towards his younger brother. He had a soft spot for children and, when you had his attention, he made you feel like you were the only person in the entire room. Although, some people found that aspect a bit unnerving. Yet all of these things and more made up Seto Kaiba, and made Kisara proud to work for the young CEO billionaire.

 

And more than that, this sort of clichè romanticism was missing one important element- a beautiful girl.

 

Kisara sighed softly to herself; she would never be the beautiful heroine of her own story, or of any other. As it was, she was content with her life. But her deepest, longest desire was that one day, she would meet someone who would love her and look past her freakishly pale skin and insurmountable imperfections.

 

A door opening interrupted her musings.

 

“Take these.”

 

Seto handed her a pair of royal blue silk pajamas with white lined trim and the famous ‘KC’ logo etched into the breast pocket.

 

“Sir?”

 

“Have you never seen clothes before, woman? I've handed you clothing. Unless you would prefer to soil the sheets by sleeping in that same dress.”

 

“O-oh.” he cheeks flushed again in understanding. These weren't just any pajamas either, these were Seto Kaiba's pajamas. “T-thank you, sir, for your hospitality. I'll have these washed and cleaned as soon as-”

 

“That won't be necessary.” he cut her off with a dismissive wave of his hand. “I'm not being generous. That's an old, ratty pair I've had since high school. It's taking up space in my dresser and I keep forgetting to get rid of it, so do with it what you will.”

 

Kisara allowed a small smile to grace her face as she ran a hand over the fabric. Even if it was true that these clothes were old, they were smooth to the touch and pristine, just like everything else that Kaiba owned. Kaiba was being kind, even if he didn't like to show it.

 

“Then, thank you, sir, for this gift. I only wish that I had gotten you something in return.”

 

“You got me out of that horrible party. I suppose that's something.”

 

“Perhaps I should act a fool more often, if the result is your entertainment.”

 

A shrug.

 

“It was the most interesting event of the night, certainly.”

 

“Though I don't plan to make this a repeat performance.”

 

“I should think not. With everything you broke, I may never be invited to one of those tacky events ever again. My one regret is that you didn't knock over Mrs. Vangraff.”

 

A smile.

 

“My apologies, sir. I will try harder next time.”

 

“See that you do. ‘Old, bitter matriarch knocked to ground: struggles to move and flails like flipped turtle’ would be a much better title to read in the papers.”

 

They both chuckled; Kisara feeling a little less embarrassed about the night's previous events. The gentle banter was enough to break the tension and calm her nerves. She even thought she'd seen her boss flash a rare, brief smile before he covered it by clearing his throat and speaking again.

 

“The spare room is the second door to the left. This is my room, and if you need anything, just ask one of the servants- I'll let them know you'll be staying as a guest. The kitchen is fully stocked and the maids have had culinary training, oh, and there's an en suite bathroom in your room that also has a shower. That should cover the basic amenities.”

 

She gave him another warm smile.

 

“Thank you again, sir. I really am grateful to you.” she bowed to him politely, bid him good night, and turned in.

 

The next morning, Kisara had set her phone alarm to get up at 6:30 AM. It was an ungodly hour for a Saturday, but for someone who was just crashing for the evening, she felt it was appropriate. She collected her dress and clutch in a plastic bag and, a bit reluctantly, slipped back on the heels she'd worn last night, as Kaiba rarely entertained, and therefore had no house slippers; but she wasn't about to walk around the mansion and, ultimately, outside, barefoot.

 

Descending the stairs as quietly as stilettos would allow, Kisara made her way to the kitchen; heading to cross the foyer that would lead to the main door outside. But she stopped short and doubled back to look at the empty kitchen.

 

There were white marble countertops with a small island, two stylish and small chairs on the other side of the counter, and a small, basic looking square table with four somewhat round chairs and a fruit bowl in the middle.

 

Despite the nice decor and lack of dust, the kitchen felt all but abandoned, as the space lacked a certain kind of warmth, as though no one had cooked anything in years.

 

Contemplating, the girl wondered if perhaps she would be overstepping her bounds by using the kitchen. Then again, Kaiba had given her free reign in regards to ‘basic amenities’- and food definitely counted as an essentially.

 

Further justifying her actions by remembering that she'd heard somewhere sometime about etiquette involving guests repaying their hosts in home cooked meals, she made up her mind and got to work.

 

Kaiba had been been right, the fridge really was fully stocked with just about everything one could need.

 

Kisara pulled back her long, flowing hair and tied in a loose bun, not unlike the one from the night before. She then rolled her sleeves, rolled up the pant legs just to the ankles so that she wouldn't trip, and removed her heels, leaving them next to the table as well as the bag with her dress.

 

Though the only real concern she had in regards to her attire was the button down shirt. She couldn't locate any sort of smock or apron, and the shirt was rather low cut.

 

Well, on a man, it would have been fine. With a smooth build and broad shoulders, it would have only hinted at his chest. But in Kisara's case, she was a full figured woman. Her shoulders were not as wide as a man's, and she was a few inches shorter than Kaiba, but what she lacked in height she made up for in bust. Her breasts, annoyingly, pushed against the silky fabric, making it appear more tight on her chest than it actually was. Though the buttons were stressed a bit from the weight and the cut seemed even lower due to her size.

 

Oh well. She'd just have to be careful when she was cooking the bacon.

 

Meanwhile, Mokuba, the culprit behind the fiasco, snuck in the back door about an hour later. He could have used the front door, but he didn't want to risk the ire of his big brother. Or at least, not yet.

 

Then suddenly his senses were hit with the wonderful aroma that was wafting from the kitchen. He followed the heavenly scent, wondering if one of the maids had been requested to make breakfast. They rarely were, since Seto ate most of his food at restaurants or on the go. But the teen was more than shocked to find his big brother's beautiful secretary slightly bent over a stove, flipping an egg while a smorgasbord of food awaited at the table.

 

“Wow.” he whistled. “I didn't expect the night to go that well.”

 

Kisara hadn't seen him come in and let out a squeak of surprise. She jerked and accidentally flipped the egg too high, sending it flying and sticking to the lowered ceiling above the stove.

 

ealayk allaeanat !” she cursed and turned off the burner and covered her heart, feeling it beat wildly in her chest. “Please, please do not sneak up on me like that.”

 

Mokuba covered his mouth, trying and failing to cover up a snicker.

 

“Sorry about that! To be fair, I didn't really expect to see you in our kitchen. Cooking breakfast. And wearing my big bro's clothes.” he smirked and leaned over the counter were the chairs were. “I take it you guys had a good time then? No need to thank me. It'll be thanks enough when I get to tell my future nieces and nephews the story about how I got their parents to hook up.”

 

“What?” she was confused. “Children and- I'm sorry, I'm afraid I don't understand what you mean?”

 

“Ok, so maybe kids are pretty far off. But I'm just sayin’, I'm happy for you guys. I just knew you'd hit it off if you spent time together outside of work.”

 

Kisara merely stared at the boy as though he had five heads. She rubbed her temples, getting a little frustrated.

 

“I have been speaking Japanese for three years, but this conversation makes me feel as though I have yet to master the language. If I gather, you are happy, that I attended the gala with Mr. Kaiba yesterday eve, is that correct?”

 

Now it was Mokuba's turn to be confused.

 

“Uh, yeah. Wait, just three years? I thought you were Japanese?”

 

“Not that it has anything to do with the conversation at hand, but I am not. I'm from-”

 

“Mokuba!” Seto called out, having heard his younger brother's voice, causing the latter to cringe slightly. He knew that tone, and he knew it meant that he was in trouble.

 

“Where the Hell have you been?! You better have a good excuse for-!”

 

Seto entered the room and saw and smelled the delicious breakfast waiting for him. Complete with water, orange juice, black coffee, home fries, sausages, bacon, and pancakes.

 

“What's all this about?” the anger in his voice had dropped.

 

“I'm sorry, sir,” Kisara answered, standing up straighter and taking on a more professional tone. “I utilized your kitchen to cook breakfast. I-I wanted to do something to repay you for your kindness from last night. I was nearly done but-” as if on cue, the egg that had previously been stuck to the low ceiling fell and landed half way in the pan and half way on the stove.

 

Honestly, Seto would have found the scene more amusing if Mokuba didn't look so damn smug about it.

 

“It looks good. Excuse us, a minute.” he took Mokuba by the collar and dragged him away, going into the private, sound-proof study.

 

“Where the Hell have you been?! He repeated from before and crossed his arms over his chest.

“I'd be even more angry if I hadn't been worried sick about you. I had to force your location out of Roland at three in the morning because you ‘swore him to secrecy’. You're always coming home late, you never call, you canceled on me at the last minute, you got Kisara involved, and you've been working behind my back.” Seto took a deep breath and sighed, looking his brother straight in the eyes. “I'm very disappointed in you.”

 

Mokuba widened his eyes a bit, not expecting that kind of talk from his brother. OK, so he'd been a little MIA recently, but he didn't think it had affected him so much. It stung a little.

 

“Look, bro, I'm sorry. I didn't mean it like that. I just thought that-”

 

“And I already told you that my love life is no concern of yours. So stop messing with it.”

 

“Then you need to stop messing with mine!” Mokuba countered angrily, finally revealing the truth to a shocked Seto.

 

“Mokuba…you have a girlfriend? Why didn't you tell me?”

 

“Oh, what, so you can stalk her too? I have to go out in disguise half the time just to spend some time with her, but your goons always find us! I keep going out because I wanna be somewhere that I actually feel like people want me to be around.

 

You never spend any time with me like we used to. I can't just bend to your will like a lost puppy anymore, I have my own life and my own schedule. Something always comes up, but then, when I don't want to be around you, you hound me like a mother hen and expect to know where I am every second of the day.

 

I'm not a little kid anymore! Let me make my own choices!” he shouted and panted, releasing most of his pent up anger. It seems that this had been a long time coming. But then he looked sad, and his voice grew softer.

 

“I meant what I said, I know that you're lonely. And now that I'm older, I know that I can't be everything you need. I'm still mad at you, but I get it. You're busy, it's always been like that.

 

But you freaking out all the time made me realize something else- I'm all you've got. You told me, when we were younger, still living with that man, you told me it was me and you against the world. It's not, Seto.

 

I love you, but I need my own freedom too. I can't wait around forever for when you decide you finally have the time to be with me. I wanna go out, I wanna meet new people, I wanna have a life outside of work.

 

But you need that too. You need more than just me to turn to. Kisara is literally always there for you. And, like I said, she's cute and she's nice and you guys work well together. You get along with her more naturally than I've ever seen you with anyone else.”

 

“You only like her for her chest.”

 

“Hey, the fact that she's gorgeous is just a plus.” Mokuba chuckled, feeling the tension fade. “But seriously, bro, did you listen to anything I just said.”

 

“I did,” he replied automatically. “I'm just not sure what to say. “I'm-”

 

“I don't want to hear ‘I'm sorry’,” Mokuba cut him off. “I've heard that too much in my life, big brother. Even if you say it, it doesn't mean anything anymore. I'm not looking for an apology or grand display of love or anything, I just want to know that you listened to me- that you care about what I have to say. Because I already know that you have other people you spend your time with- and that's fine. It's not like I'll never not see you, we literally work together! And live in the same house, most of the time.

 

But I want to know that you trust me to make my own decisions. And, more importantly, that you're gonna be OK, even when I'm not around. And I don't mean in the, ‘I'll bury myself in work until I can't feel feelings’ way, I mean in a genuine, ‘I'm not alone anymore’ kind of way.”

 

“I'm not lonely.” Seto denied on instinct.

 

“Then why is your secretary wearing your clothes and cooking you breakfast?”

 

“I didn't ask her to do that.”

 

“That's not what I asked.”

 

Seto stared him down but that didn't work on Mokuba anymore.

 

“......I gave her a place to stay after some unfortunate events that occurred last night. Most of which are your fault, by the way.”

 

“So you didn't have fun with her?”

 

“I don't ‘have fun’, Mokuba. But I will admit, she is an interesting person to be around.”

 

“Coming from you, that may as well have been a confession of undying love.”

 

“Heh. Don't get ahead of yourself, brat.” Seto reached down and ruffled his hair. “Our relationship is professional and nothing more. Also, I'm still mad at you too. I will…try to be more understanding in future. If you don't worry about me, then I won't worry so much about you.”

 

“Can't make any promises, bro. You'd probably die a virgin if it weren't for me. But thank you.” he smiled and nudges his ribs. “So uh, what is Kisara doing here?~”

 

Seto relayed the events of last night and Mokuba felt a little bad she had to go through that.

 

“So she got drunk, blinded, and embarrassed at her first party? Oof, man, that's rough. And you didn't want to look like an idiot for not asking where she lived and you had her sleep in your bed to make up for it. Nice~”

 

“We didn't share a bed, you little pervert. She stayed in the guest room. I let her use my pajamas because I don't exactly have a ready supply of women's clothing lying around the mansion.”

 

“You can see her nipples through that shirt.”

 

“Mokuba, I swear to God-”

 

“Relax! Just teasing!” the raven haired boy laughed and found the look of anger and embarrassment on his brother's face to be hysterical. “But we should probably get going, or all of that food will get cold. It looked really yummy too.”

 

“Insolent brats like you get to starve.” there was no bite to the remark and they left the private study, only to be disappointed and find that Kisara was nowhere to be found.

 

“Hey bro, look.”

 

There was a note scribbled on a piece of paper on top of the empty plate. Seto picked it up and read it.

 

“Dear Mr. Kaiba, I thank you once again for your gracious hospitality. All things considered, I had an enjoyable time last night, and I have you to thank for that as well. You invited me into your home and gave me clothes and a place to sleep, and I will never forget your kindness.

 

I'm sorry to have left so abruptly. I did not want to interrupt your personal time with your family.

 

I look forward to seeing you in work on Monday, and I hope you have a pleasant rest of your weekend.

 

Regards,

 

Kisara”

 

“You still think she's not into you?”

 

“Shut up, Mokuba.”

 

Seto put the note in his back pocket and they sat down to eat despite his earlier comment forbidding Mokuba from doing so.

 

The silence was peaceful and the food was delicious, though both brothers were also on their phones. Seto was reading his emails while Mokuba was scrolling through some news feed.

 

“Uh, hey, Seto, didn't you say you got that guy who took the picture fired?”

 

“Of course. Why?”

 

“Seems like you didn't do a very good job. Now the whole world knows you have a crush on your secretary.” he flipped his phone and showed his brother the article with the photo and headline. Seto was leaning casually against a wall with his arms loosely draped over Kisara's hips. Not grabbing, not groping, just resting comfortably around her waist.

 

While Kisara was leaning against is chest, on hand either holding him in place or keeping herself up while the other was hidden from view but also likely placed on his other pectoral, his back, or the wall behind them. But the best part of the photo were the genuine smiles that painted their faces and the crinkles of joy in their closed eyes. One must have just told the other something comical because there was so much genuine warmth and mirth in that one frame, even with their cheeks pink from alcohol, it was hard to deny that there wasn't something special between them. And the title read:

 

His Love to Give’

 

Has Domino City's number one bachelor been snatched up by this mystery girl? The young, stoic CEO was spotted at a benefit gala this Friday with his bae in tow. It looks like someone finally managed to melt this hottie's ice cold heart. Read on for more exclusive gossip about the budding romance of the century!!

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Two Months Later, Early December

 

“Mokuba, I told you the last five times to stop doing this. I know it's you, I know that you tampered with the ‘random’ exchange lottery and purposely made it so that I have to buy something for Kisara.”

 

“First of all, it's called a ‘Secret Santa’, I have no clue why you hate fun names. And secondly, I was totally fair about it. I also made sure that Kisara for your name too.”

 

Seto's eye twitched, a sure sign he was close to losing it.

 

“It's not a ‘secret’ anything if I know who the other person is. And stop involving her in your games.”

 

“Seto, I told you before, this isn't a game. I may have pulled a few strings here and there, but don't pretend that you haven't enjoyed spending a lot of time with her.”

 

It was true. Ever since the incident at the gala, Mokuba had tried at least once a week to get Seto and Kisara to see each other more. Whether it was attending an extra meeting as Mokuba's stand in, or going to a conference over brunch claiming that, ‘it'd be smarter to have someone with them to take notes’, Mokuba was pleased to see his hard work paying off as the two seemed to naturally gravitate towards each other. And because of that, the raven haired teen was able to keep his word and lean less and less away from their schedules. He did want their romance to come naturally, of course, but they still needed a few nudges in the right direction. And the way Mokuba saw it, exchanging Christmas presents was the last big push that they needed.

 

After all, it was a personal and intimate gesture but it was still within the confines of being between a boss and his employee, so it all but guaranteed that they'd have to do it.

 

“And what if I refuse to participate?” Seto quirked a brow, trying to challenge his brother with his authority.

 

“Then Kisara will be the only person in KaibaCorp not to get a present this year, and you'll look like a giant asshole.” Mokuba replied, sweetly.

 

Seto, irritated, took a deep breath through his nostrils and leaned on his desk, his head in his hands as he rubbed his aching temples.

 

“I hate you so much….”

 

“C’mon, big bro, don’t be such a baby. Are you really telling me that the mighty Seto Kaiba is afraid to give a girl a present?”

 

“I fear nothing, but that is not the point, Mokuba.”

 

“Then what’s the problem?”

 

“I don’t even know what she likes!” he replied, exasperated.

 

Mokuba rose a brow.

 

“You’ve known her how long and you don’t even know what she likes ?”

 

“I haven’t exactly been looking into the personal lives of all my employees.”

 

“But she’s not just an employee, she’s-”

 

“Ok, fine, I get it. I’ll come up with something. After all, I’m Seto Kaiba,” he folded his hands together and leaned his chin atop them, determination in his eyes. “And I can do anything.”

 

“That’s the spirit! Now go get your girlfriend a nice Christmas gift!”

 

Mokuba was then promptly smacked on the back of his head.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

One Week Before Christmas

 

“Oh no…”

 

Kisara worried her lower lip as she paced back and forth, her heels clacking furiously as she walked. She didn’t know what to do. There was only four days left before the Secret Santa exchange, and she’d yet to get Kaiba a present! Not for lack of trying, but she was completely at a lost and had been befuddled for over a week now as to what to get the genius, billionaire, CEO. After all, what do you get someone who has everything?

 

The door of the conference room creaked ajar and Mokuba poked his head inside.

 

“Kisara, are you ok?” He looked around, noting she seemed to be nervous, but not in distress. “You said it was an emergency.”

 

“Oh, but it is. Please, if you wouldn’t mind, could you close the door? T-thank you for meeting me on such short notice. I know it’s very impromptu but-”

 

Mokuba raised a hand to silence her and shut the door before returning his attention to her.

 

“Look, I get you wanna be professional and all, but y’know, you’ve been working here for almost two years- you can speak to me casually, you know. I’m not a super stuffy hard ass like my bro.”

 

“But sir, with all do respect, that wouldn’t be appropriate…”

 

“Kisara, you’re literally the only one in the office who doesn’t use my first name. Do you not like me or something?” he asked innocently to guilt trip her.

 

“N-no, of course not! I like you just fine, sir. But of course-” she trailed off and saw the smirk on his face, knowing he had her in a logical trap.

She dropped her earlier point and sighed, tucking some hair behind her ear and pushing up her glasses.

 

“Very well then….M-mokuba….I need your help, please.”

 

“There! You see? That wasn’t so hard. Now, what can I do for you?”

 

“Well, as you know, the Secret Santa exchange is in a few short days….and I have no idea what to give Mr. Kaiba! I have been to many stores and gone over possible scenarios, but nothing I come up with is a sufficient enough gift.”

 

“Oh, right. Yeah, uhh...I dunno, I think the other employees usually just get him coffee gift cards or something. You know, something useful.”

 

“But that is not personal! A gift is supposed to equal the person you’re giving it to. It should be something they want; something they desire. Something useful, preferably.”

 

The teen rubbed the back of his head, trying to think.

 

“Uhm...maybe buy him some stocks? Can’t hurt to have a couple more, I guess. Money is still money, right?”

 

“Some stocks, ah, that’s brilliant! Thank you young Mr. Ka- I, ah, I-I mean, M-mokuba.” she bowed politely and left the room to go conduct some research.

 

The ardent young secretary spent the next several hours looking into the archives, the numbers, the funds, and the shareholders in comparison to the stock market to see what stocks she should invest in that would be the most useful to Kaiba.

 

KaibaCorp already had their hands in the best current investments and even hands in some lesser known companies that were, quite frankly, only surviving because they were involved with KaibaCorp. Perhaps, instead of a stock, she could make or propose a new acquisition? No, that’s just preposterous. There’s no way Kisara could makes ties or buy out an entire company on her own in only four days.

 

It was then that she came across something interesting. Vangraff.

 

Now that was odd. When last they spoke, Mrs. Vangraff was, stubborn as ever, insisting that she, in no uncertain terms, had no interest in cutting a deal with KaibaCorp. Yet her she was, promoting the selling of stocks in her company, and for a ridiculously low price too.

 

Kisara decided to look further into it. She pulled up Mrs. Vangraff’s file, and discovered something very interesting. Mrs. Vangraff was the matriarch of her family, but she wasn’t actually related by blood- she was married into the family.

 

Further research showed that, although the Vangraff’s still held one of the highest positions in regards to manufacturing electronics, their numbers had suffered significantly ever since the death of Mr. Vangraff over six years ago. She found out more- Mrs. Vangraff was formerly the heiress to another family who’s group assimilated into the Vangraff’s. Though Mrs. Vangraff herself seemed to have no prior or current experience in either the stocks or productions of any sort involving either. Yet somehow she was incharge of a multi-million dollar corporation and auctioning off stocks at a dirt cheap price.

 

Kisara closed her laptop and stood tall with a determined look in her eyes. She knew what she needed to do, and this would make the perfect Christmas present for Kaiba.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

The Day Before Christmas- Office Party and Secret Santa Exchange

 

“....and even though there’s still a week left before the New Year, we here at KaibaCorp would once again like to thank all of you for your hard work and support. It isn’t easy running a multi-million dollar corporation, not even when the CEO and Vice Prez are both geniuses, but it’s all possible thanks to you guys. So let’s have an awesome party and a great rest of the year!”

 

Mokuba finished his speech and was applauded by the employees. The annual KaibaCorp Christmas party was generally the most fun day of the year. Everyone worked a half-day and were then given a great in-office party with catering and the Secret Santa gift exchange. All of the employees, for once, had time to relax and socialize without the crushing weight of their usual schedules.

 

It had been Mokuba’s idea, of course, many years ago. Seto didn’t really care for it either way, so he had no problem implementing the festivities on the 24th of every December. After all, it made the employees feel like they were appreciated, and it always raised morale pretty high, so the beginning of the next quarter was sure to be booming and lively for the company and its workers.

 

However, this year was different for two specific people in particular. The CEO of KaibaCorp himself, Seto Kaiba, and his lovely office secretary and assistant, Kisara.

 

Others had already opened and exchanged their gifts, some revealing whom they were from, and some not.

 

The CEO had seen his unknowing recipient deposit the letter with her gift in the inner left breast pocket of her jacket, but he was genuinely very curious to see her reaction. What’s more, thanks to Mokuba, he knew that she was supposed to get him a gift as well. That is what had him the most interested- what could his beautiful secretary have possibly gotten him? Wait, had he really just thought that she was beautiful?

 

Well, certainly, she was easy on the eyes; any human being could see that. What, with her long, flowing hair that looked soft to the touch, was left loose and free to curl around her back and shoulders just so, and cozy pitch black nylons with a cross-stitched pattern that chased up the sides of her legs, running along her curves and disappearing under her short pencil skirt-

 

It was then that Seto realized that he’d been staring and he averted his gaze before anyone else could notice. He easily located the champagne table and took a, graceful, yet quick swig from one of the glasses; a perfect excuse to explain the slight heat to his cheeks besides the warm temperature in the room. He took another glass, for contemplation, and retreated to the privacy of his office, leaving the other coworkers and party-goers to their own devices.

 

Not long after, Seto heard a knock at the door. He wanted to be alone at the moment, simply looking out to the city from his office, but he would make an exception so long as whoever it was was quick.

 

“Come in,” he called out and took a seat at his desk, spreading out some papers in an attempt to make himself look busy.

 

“Pardon the intrusion, sir,” came the soft, feminine reply from the other end. The door opened to reveal the one person who’d been plaguing the CEO’s thoughts- Kisara.

 

The door closed behind her with a soft click and she strode forward, with a more confident swagger in her step than Seto had ever seen.

 

He’d only had a single drink, but could he really be imagining things? Because in that moment, his normally demure secretary looked akin to a predator that was ready to pounce.

 

“I don’t mean to bother you,” she began again, “But I’ve been waiting for a chance all evening to meet with you. Alone.”

 

“You have?”

 

Seto was an expert by now at masking his emotions, portraying the barest hint of curiosity in her statement, but, on the inside, his heart was fluttering in a way that he did not approve of.

 

“Yes, sir.”

 

She walked right up to his desk, producing a packet from her other inner jacket pocket and handing it over to him.

 

“I will be direct- I drew your name from the Secret Santa exchange lottery. And I will not lie to you, the task was incredibly daunting to me. However, I do believe that you will be pleased with the results. Please, sir, I’d like to see your reaction.”

 

Kisara rarely asked him for anything, but if she kept talking like that, he’d be inclined to give her just about anything she wanted.

 

So Seto took the somewhat thick yellow packet and untied the red string and slid the papers out of the packet.  He looked over its contents and was completely floored by what he found contained within the pages.

 

“This can’t be real.” He skimmed the papers three times over before giving her a proper response. “Kisara, how could you have possibly managed this?” he looked at her with slightly wide, genuinely impressed eyes. “I’ve been trying for years to get that old bitty to sign a contract with KaibaCorp. She’s the most irritating and stubborn old woman I’ve had the misfortune to know.”

 

“Well,” Kisara began, unable to keep a large, somewhat proud grin off her face, “I discovered something very interesting about Mrs. Vangraff. Formerly she was just a wealthy heiress- a spoiled princess thrust into a position of power with no prior experience or training and is too stubborn and prideful to admit that she has no idea what she’s doing. All I had to do was, ‘put her in her place’, and then she simply caved and bowed to my will.” she stated with great satisfaction in her voice.

 

Really, it had been a miracle. Mrs. Vangraff wasn’t prepared for the way that Kisara had been able to talk verbal circles around the matriarch and make her feel like the idiotic and spoilt child that she’d always been. She had been so adamant about Vangraff Tech being far superior to KaibaCorp, but Kisara backed up her own claims with evidence and figures and verbally destroyed the aging woman.

 

And Seto was, admittedly, extremely impressed. From the way she spoke, he could only imagine the girl taking on an aggressive but factual attitude and not letting Mrs. Vangraff get the better of her. Oddly, he found that he was erect under the desk and very much wished he could have been there to hear exactly what she’d said to her.

 

“This is actually quite exceptional. This may be one of the best gifts that I’ve ever received.”

 

Her grin changed to a happy smile and she pressed her hands together, thrilled that her boss was proud of her.

 

“I’m glad that you like it, sir! As you can see, all that’s needed is your signature to complete the contract. To be honest, I’m very relieved. I did ask for some help because I was unsure of what would be useful to you.”

 

Seto felt another flutter like a caged butterfly in his chest followed by a pang of sudden guilt. Kisara’s gift had been so incredible and thoughtful, and what he’d gotten her definitely was not. He didn’t know much about her likes or dislikes. He didn’t even understand women very well, nor did he care to.

 

“Oh, and thank you for your gift as well, sir.”

 

“But you never opened the envelope, what makes you believe it was from me?”

 

She giggled, amused.

 

“Sir, forgive me, but I’ve been your secretary for nearly two years now. I think, even without my glasses, I can recognize your handwriting and personalized envelopes.”

 

He paled slightly, having never considered switching the envelopes to make it less obvious.

 

“But you are right, I haven’t opened it yet. Oh! I should do that now before I forget.”

 

She reached into her jacket and pulled out the item in question. The fair-skinned woman tore the sealed paper and pulled out what appeared to be a certificate with a flower decal on it. And in that moment, Seto thought that he had never felt more embarrassed. Kisara was going to see how little effort he put in to her gift and, for once in his life, he was actually going to feel like an asshole about it.

 

“Is this real?”

 

Her reaction of disbelief seemed similar to Seto’s from before and he dreaded the response so he quickly tried to cover his negligence.

 

“I had assumed that a lot women would like that sort of thing, but if you really detest it that much, I can always get you something else.” he spoke a bit gruffly, and he would care more about berating himself for catering to someone else, but he did not want to see the look of disappointment on her face, especially after she went to such lengths for his gift. However, her reaction was the exact opposite of what he’d expected.

 

“Thank you so much, sir! I’ve always wanted to get my nails done, but I’ve never gotten around to doing so. And now I have the opportunity to do so!” she let out a laugh of joy and hugged the certificate to the nail salon as though it were something precious to her. “Perhaps it was not intentional, but this means more to me than you could possibly know. Sir, if you’ll permit me, I’d like to thank you in an inappropriate manner.”

 

“Inappropriate manner?” he lamley repeated and Kisara nodded her head. Though, taking some initiative, decided to show him instead. She set the certificate down and came around the other side of the desk before bending to hug him.

 

It was close and intimate contact, and could honestly get her fired, but she could think of no other personal way to express her gratitude.

 

All the while, Seto did not admonish her for invading his space or attempt to push her away, mostly because he was paralyzed at the moment. He had no doubt that Kisara’s intentions had been pure and platonic, but Seto was still a man and he found himself annoyingly enjoying the fact that his face was now pressed against her large bosom.

 

Gods, her chest was soft. And she smelled sweet up close, was she wearing some sort of perfume? He sat motionless, fighting a battle within himself between, respectfully, not touching her body or, going with his baser, more raw instincts, and crushing the incredible woman to his body, making her sit in his lap, and seeing where it went from there. But the CEO’s inner turmoil ended sooner than he’d like as the door opened without warning and Mokuba entered the room.

 

“Hey bro, where did- woah. Uh, sorry, guess this is a bad time.”

 

“Please, come in. Our conversation is just about finished.” Kisara let Seto go. “I’m sorry if that seemed unprofessional. I’m just very grateful to Mr. Kaiba, he gave me such a wonderful present.” She smiled sweetly and Mokuba cast a leer and a knowing, cheeky smile over to his brother.

 

“Did he? About time he did something good on his own. So what did he get you, Kisara?” She happily handed him the certificate to which he looked on in horror then gave his brother an accusatory glare. “You only gave her a thirty-five dollar voucher for a mani-pedi? That’s it ?”

 

“Kisara likes it, and that’s what’s important.” Seto defended himself while his brother did his best not to facepalm in shame. His brother was even more clueless than he’d first thought.

 

“Of course. I was just telling Mr. Kaiba that it's a very gracious gift; I’ve never been to a nail salon before, so this will be my first experience.”

 

“Is that so?” Mokuba suddenly got a brilliant idea. He could throw his brother under the bus and save his love life at the same time. “Y’know, Kisara, big bro gets his nails done sometimes too. Nothing girly, just cleaned and trimmed. Since it’s your first time, you should go with him! I’m sure he’d like the company, and he can make sure they don’t try to scam you or do anything shady.”

 

The teenage boy sent a smirk over to his brother who replied with an icy gaze of his own, his eyes slitted dangerously.

 

‘I’m actually going to kill him later’, he thought bitterly to himself. Though he wasn’t about to just decline either. He figured he sort of owed it to the girl after what she’d done for him.

 

“I have no problem with that. But maybe you should ask Kisara what she wants instead of assuming things?” he tried to turn the tables and make Mokuba feel like the bad guy here but Kisara seemed flattered either way.

 

“Sir, would you really be willing to do something like that for me?”

 

“Of course. Don’t be so dramatic, woman. It’s not as if it’s a big deal or anything. The process takes about an hour and is fairly boring, so it will be good to have someone intelligent to converse with.”

 

“Uh-huh. The sooner you have an intelligent conversation with each other, the better. Seto, your schedule is pretty bare for the next few days, in fact, you’re completely free the day before New Year’s, so you guys should go then.”

 

“I have nothing planned that day as well. Oh, I’m so excited! Thank you once again, sir. I’m undeserving of your generosity. Ah, but I’ll leave you be for the evening, I’m sure that you have other engagements for the night and I don’t plan to take up anymore of your time. Have a Merry Christmas, Mr. Kaiba and Mokuba.” she bowed and left the brothers with a cheery, noticeable pep in her step.

 

Seto glared once again at Mokuba when they were alone.

 

“And since when have you two been on a first name basis?” he asked in an accusing tone.

 

“Hey, don’t take that attitude with me. I’m still waiting for, ‘Thanks so much Mokuba for saving my pathetic ass once again. You’re the best wingman and little brother a guy could ask for, and I’m grateful that you understand women better than I do.’ ”

 

“Don’t press your luck with me. I told you to stop interfering- I think I can handle myself fairly well.”

 

“You only got to cop a friendly feel. I got you an actual date. You can thank me now and bow down at any point. I’ve got the rest of my life to rub this in your face once you guys finally hook up.”

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

December 31st- New Year’s Eve (Daytime; Afternoon)

 

Kisara waved happily at Seto as she saw him approach the salon.

 

“Good morning, sir!” she smiled at him. “Or rather, good afternoon, I suppose.”

 

“Woman, your cheeks are pink from wind burn. Why did you stand outside to wait for me?”

 

“I wanted to be certain that you knew which salon this was. Many of them look the same- my Uber driver actually got lost on the way here.” she shivered a bit. “But I’d like to go inside now, please.”

 

Seto shook his head, a smile threatening to crack his face.

 

“You’re impossible. Just go inside already.”

 

Partially to make up for the lack luster gift, Seto had chosen one of the nicest nail salons that was still open this time of year. Of course, that also meant that Kisara’s voucher would be all but pointless, but that was alright because he planned to pay for everything today anyways.

 

They walked inside, Kisara sighing in relief as the heated room warmed them both. She took off her scarf and muffs and disrobed from her heavy, faux fur-lined jacket.

 

“You were cold wearing all of that?”

 

Seto questioned as he hung up his own leather coat.

 

Kisara smiled, a bit sheepish.

 

“You would think I would be used to the cold by now, but I'm still not. We never had weather like this back in my country.”

 

“Your country?” Seto began then turned his attention to the receptionist. She brought them over to the massage chairs and brought over two other girls to help them take off their shoes and socks and get the hot water running.

 

“Yes, my country.” she sat down in the chair and rolled up her ankle leggings and cautiously toed at the bubbling water. “Sir, forgive me for saying, but this information is located directly in my files.” she didn't want to accuse her superior of not conducting a thorough background check, but that's what it was starting to sound like.

 

“I'm sure it is,” he shrugged noncommittally and turned the massager on to the correct volume that he liked. “but I don't pay much mind to them- I have other people to conduct the hiring process for me. And others who work under them to double and triple check new employees.”

 

“So just a cursory glance then, for appearance sakes?”

 

“Something to that effect, yes. That time at the benefit party, when you had mentioned your Albinism, it did remind me that I had briefly skimmed at that in your file. It's not like me to be forgetful, but I've never seen you struggle or complain before, so I guess the information didn't stick with me.”

 

“I see. That does make sense then. Though I would suppose then, could it be you simply overlooked the fact that I am Egyptian?”

 

“You come from Egypt??” Seto sat up straighter and looked at her in amazement. He'd only met three people from Egypt before- and he hated all of them. One was an asshole, one was a freak, and the other was his rival. And none of them looked like her.

 

Kisara covered a hand over her mouth but it barely contained the wonderful ring of her laughter.

 

“Haha, I will take that as a yes then. Though I am quite used to that reaction. As you can see, due to my Albinism, I don't quite look like the rest of my people.”

 

Seto wanted to make a comment about that being the understatement of the century, but he refrained.

 

“I see. Do you not have nail salons in Egypt?”

 

She smiled softly but it didn't reach her eyes.

 

“Oh no, we do; plenty of them. I simply have never been to one due to….ah, personal reasons.”

 

Her body language said enough for Seto to know she was uncomfortable with the subject. So he decided to let it go for now, but his curiosity and stubborn resolve would incline him to bring it up again later.

 

“So why Japan?”

 

“That's also a little…” she pressed the tips of her fingers together nervously, a warmth spreading to her cheeks and her long hair slid from her shoulders and obscured her face from view.

 

It was strange. Although she was quiet and somewhat reserved, he'd never seen her act so meek before. Just when he thought he had this girl all figured out, she found new ways to surprise him and keep him guessing. Another tab for now, but he definitely wasn't going to forget this.

 

“Then why KaibaCorp?”

 

A genuine smile graced her lips as she raised her head, visibly relaxing and tucked her hair behind her ear so that her lovely pools of blue were once again visible behind her glasses.

 

“Well, why not? KaibaCorp is supposed to be the best of the best, so you should aim high, or die trying, as they say. I was told that the secretary position at KaibaCorp was an incredibly daunting task. That you must be prepared to lose your soul and succumb to madness under the stone cold iron fist of its tyrannical dictator. Though I must say, after two years of working there, I'm wholly disappointed.”

 

You're disappointed? This, I have to hear.” he propped his arm on the arm rest and rested his chin on his hand, a playful smirk tugging at his lips and mirth and curiosity in his eyes.

 

Seeing him so interested brought a slight flush to Kisara's cheeks but she couldn't help but grin back at him.

 

“Well, for something pitched as the worst job one could have, I found that not to be true in the slightest. Definitely, a lot of hard work and dedication is required, but as long as you know what you're doing, you shouldn't have a problem.

 

I find my job very fulfilling. It can be challenging, and even difficult, but it's all worth it in the end. And I do greatly enjoy helping you achieve your goals and helping to make the company even more prosperous, sir. As well, I rather enjoy working for you. You're not the unfeeling tyrant that they paint you to be in the tabloids.”

 

“I fired a man who designs water bottles because I was able to crush it in my hand, and KaibaCorp products shouldn't be able to break so easily.”

 

“I said you weren't a tyrant, I never said you weren't difficult.”

 

“In that case, you're fired.”

 

“Forgive me, sir, but you would be miserable without me.”

 

The warm mood and playful banter seemed to cease for Seto as the words she'd said really started to sink in.

 

She was right.

 

He would be miserable without her.

 

Over the past few months, Hell, maybe even longer than that, she'd slowly wormed her way into a heart that he didn't know he still had, and she'd become an integral part of his life.

 

Without realizing it, he'd broken his own personal rule about never relying on others.

 

She was an amazing secretary, and he'd never find a good replacement for her, but she was worth so much more than that. He looked forward to seeing her every day when he strode into the office. He took for granted the warm smile she'd give him and the polite morning greeting.

 

Kisara was pleasant to everyone, but the interactions they had in his office were just between the two of them, and no one else could see the way her small dimples pressed when she smiled impossibly wide or the cute way her brows furrowed then twitched slightly when she was concentrating on something. Even her hair, as he'd come to find out, was styled specifically in accordance to her mood that morning.

 

When she rushed, she put her hair in a low ponytail and spritzed body spray on her neck to make herself seem more presentable. On warm or regular days, she had it tied in a neat bun with only a few stray strands hanging. When she was feeling particularly confident, she wore her hair in a high, bouncy ponytail. Cold days she left it natural and down to generate heat on her neck, on warm days, her hair was tied up in a messy bun, and, on bad days, she swept her hair completely to the right.

 

Sometimes he would strike up a conversation based on the mood of her hair. He'd ask her how she was feeling or if she had any extra notes before an important business meeting that they had that day. He even vented to her, in his own, private way.

 

He often became talkative when he was angry. He had to explain why he was upset, who messed up, why they messed up, why they were pathetic for trying to use their brain to form a coherent thought, and why their ancestors should be punished for being irresponsible enough to reproduce such idiotic offspring.

 

Kisara, on her part, took it in stride and let him rant and vent, no matter how petty his reasonings were. And, the best part, was that she didn't blindly agree with him like his underlings. She wasn't afraid to tell him when he was in the wrong. That wasn't necessarily to say that he would listen to her, but if she told him something, he was more inclined to do so, because he could understand her reasoning, and what's more, he trusted her opinion. And the only other person who held that kind of authority with him was Mokuba.

 

That thought alone was so alien that it nearly frightened him. But he was Seto Kaiba, and he feared nothing. Yet if Kisara were to leave for whatever reason….he wasn't sure what he would do.

 

“Sir?”

 

Kisara spoke up at last, seeing Seto blankly stare off into space was worrying her a bit. Maybe she'd overstepped her bounds?

 

Seto's eyes focused, and he turned to her again, as though the conversation hadn't halted at all.

 

“Well then, Kisara, seems like I'm going to have to get creative if I'm really such an agreeable boss. So, therefore, for the rest of the day, you're not allowed to address me by ‘sir’ or any other honourifics.”

 

“S-si-uh! I mean, Mr. nngh...but then…?” it was her turn to be flabbergasted as she tried to find a way around the logical puzzle. “That's hardly fair! Certainly I must address you by something.”

 

“I do have a name, you know.”

 

“But you've forbidden me from using your name.”

 

“I said no such thing. Honourifics don't apply to my name.” he grinned at her, feeling a bit mischievous for catching her off guard and making her squirm.

 

Her eyes fluttered slightly from widening as she understood what he meant. He was giving her permission to use his first name.

 

In Egypt, it was only rare to call someone by their given name if it was a common one. And with no family name, you would simply use the least common name or a nickname. But the Japanese were very different. You were only permitted to use the family name, unless given explicit permission otherwise. (the poor thing could still remember the heated arguments people had started with her during the first few times she had to learn that lesson)

 

And for her boss, especially, to call him by his name so casually, this was huge. Addressing Mokuba by his first name had been odd but not very difficult- he preferred to be called by that, but this was different. To Kisara's knowledge, the only person allowed to address Kaiba by his first name was his younger brother.

 

She looked at him, almost pleadingly, but there was no cold gaze that said she better not do it. There was, in fact, a shine to his eyes, that she could only describe as intrigue. She received a gentle tap on her ankles to remind her uncurl her toes, not realizing that she had done so in anticipation.

 

Kisara worried her lower lip, a habit she had when she became nervous. But why should she be nervous? Repeat Kaiba's first name, culturally and professionally, seemed like a very personal thing to do. Though she did have his permission, so really, there should be no consequences to her actions.

 

“S-seto….”

 

It was then that Seto realized he'd made a terrible mistake, because the moment he heard her utter his name in such a breathy, unsure voice, he knew he had it bad.

 

Kisara also felt a bit strange as she tested the name on her tongue. It almost felt as though they'd crossed a line that they could never turn back from. Even such a simple request had carried huge implications behind it. Maybe there was hope for these two without Mokuba's interference after all.

 

“There, you've followed my instructions perfectly.”

 

“You certainly don't make it easy sometimes.”

 

“You wouldn't be the best if I did.” he covered the moment of praise by using the remote to turn the TV over to the news channel.

 

After a heavenly leg massage with hot coal, their legs and feet were lotioned and they were given slippers to walk over to the nail station. Seto, of course, sat in the seat next to Kisara.

 

“What are you getting done?”

 

“I'm a man, so I just get them cleaned and trimmed. But this is your first time, so you should do something interesting.”

 

The nail assistant wordlessly handed Kisara several wheels of nails with various colours and designs on them.

 

“Oh my, there's so many to choose from!” she scanned each one, trying to find a design that spoke to her. “What is this one?”

 

“That?” Seto quirked a brow. “That's just a French tip. It's even more common than singular colour coats, and three times as basic.”

 

“Oh, that sounds lovely! I'd like the French tip, please.” she said politely to the attendant then put her hands on the warm bowl of water as directed.

 

“You can't be serious. The design is so plain and natural. I would have thought you'd go for something more dynamic.”

 

“I will,” she assured him. “Eventually. For now, I think I'd like to try something pretty, but unassuming. It's sort of like…oh! Like your Blue Eyes card.”

 

You think my Blue Eyes are unassuming?? ” he asked incredulously, to which she responded with a bark of laughter.

 

“In a way, yes. I don't know much about the card game, but I've seen several of the cards. Many of them are quite flashy and dynamic. There are also plenty of strong cards with unique designs, yet you chose the Blue Eyes White Dragon.

 

Overall, it's fairly simple looking, but you look past that and see it for how strong it is. Yes, very few were made, and because of that, likely, no one would use them, because there are other, more interesting cards out there that can become even stronger, when played correctly. But you loved them so much, that you had to own every single one. Not only that, but you made them your own, and no one can take that away from you.

 

For me, it is the same. Yes, the design is very simple, but it is something I've always wanted. And, for the first time in my life, I can have it, regardless of how it looks to others, I can appreciate the design, simplicity and all, because it means a lot to me.” her smile softened a bit. “And I once again have you to thank for that.”

 

Seto sighed, though he wasn't bothered at all. He was more so wondering why her weird analogies always seemed to get to him.

 

“Whatever, woman, there's no need for that. As long as you like it, get whatever you want.”

 

“Then that's what I'll do- oh, look! They're showing the commons on TV.”

 

On the screen by the far wall displayed images of the commons downtown Domino. It was lavishly decorated with bright strings of lights and festive wreaths. There were even people walking around, some in normal clothes and some in yukata, in large coats, that looked ready to celebrate the Gregorian new year. And, in the center of the commons, stood a tall clock statue with an even taller pole attached to the top with a big, sphere like ornament adorning it. It was the ‘New Year's’ ball that would descend and drop completely at midnight. The whole place looked crowded and lively during the day, but it would be even more beautiful and crazy at night.

 

“Hn. Seems like your average celebration.”

 

“Perhaps, but it is an event nonetheless. I think it would be nice to be able to see the ball drop for myself.”

 

“They don't have celebrations like that in Egypt?”

 

“Not exactly. Aside from weddings, and the occasional prophet's birthday, our celebrations are pretty subdued. Though I've seen this event on TV, but I'm afraid I'll never be able to attend. I tried, during my first year in Japan. But even with my sunglasses on, I'm afraid the lights are still too bright, so they irritate my eyes and burn.”

 

She sighed a bit in longing, but she knew that it wasn't the end of the world.

 

However, that gave Seto an idea, but he'd tuck it away in the back of his mind for now.

 

Soon enough, their nails were finished; Kisara couldn't stop staring at hers and almost didn't notice how Seto had paid for the whole thing without telling her so she forgot to take out her voucher.

 

“Si- uh, Seto, you didn't have to pay for the whole thing! I feel a bit guilty now.”

 

“Shush, woman. I'm not exactly strapped for cash here. Just consider it a Christmas bonus or something.” he was struggling to find excuses to keep their relationship professional.

 

She pouted a bit then got bright idea, and suddenly took him by the arm.

 

“Then please, come with me! We'll find an open restaurant to eat lunch, and it will be my treat.”

 

Seto blushed slightly at suddenly being grabbed like that.

 

“That's really not-”

 

“Eh! Nope, as you like to say all the time, ‘It's already been decided’, so let's grab our things and see what there is around here.”

 

He gave her a bit of an indignant look before he sighed and caved, grabbing his coat. They both knew that he wasn't going to say no to her.

 

It was a little odd, seeing her so enthusiastic instead of quietly agreeing in the background. Maybe, just maybe, the freedom that she gave him in a sense of normalcy, to feel attraction and warmth for another person, he somehow returned to her; by allowing her to be more open with her feelings, it also allowed her to be more impulsive and tenacious.

 

The rest of the day persisted with the pair growing impossibly fond of each other and even more open and unguarded.

 

For lunch, though it was entirely too late to really call it ‘lunch’ anymore, they went to a fancy French cafe with a name that only someone eloquent and well-educated like Seto could pronounce.  The food was expensive but the deserts in particular were delicious. Though it was a shame that Seto didn’t feel the same, considering that he was rather adverse to sweets and everything they stood for. It wasn’t that he preferred things to taste sour or spicy, sweet was simply a taste that he couldn’t enjoy. Though the food itself was quite good, what he enjoyed more was seeing Kisara’s happy smile as she tried new sweets and treats. He even found it amusing, rather than annoying, when she took a picture of her nails while holding a pink macaron because, ‘the colours matched so perfectly’.

 

After lunch came an impromptu trip to the cinemas sans the usual concessions. Seto had even been considerate enough to make sure that they used a room with adjusted lighting so that Kisara wouldn’t strain her eyes.

 

The showcase itself was quite dead, as New Year’s Eve didn’t tend to draw the largest crowd. But that was alright, because Seto and Kisara had more enjoyment picking apart the film they were watching rather than being entertained by the story, and the seclusion of the dark room allowed them a near private bubble where they didn’t have to be considerate of others, despite the public setting.

 

With that train wreck of a film finally over, neither one could even remember who’d suggested it in the first place, Kisara grew a bit stiff and suggested they talk a walk around the park. After all, it wasn’t too far from the cinemas and it gave them a chance to stretch their legs and get some fresh air. Though, perhaps it was a bit too much stretching, as, more than once, the fair-haired maiden found herself flat on her face or her rump from slipping on black ice, which she insisted, she couldn’t see.

 

Seto refrained from laughing at her, picked her up, dusted her off, and then they continued on their way. Though after the third time it happened, he took matters into his own hands and wrapped his arm around her waist, holding her to his side so that if she fell, she could lean on him. It did, in fact, happen a few more times, but now she had Seto’s strong and supportive arm holding her up.

 

They didn’t talk about much while they walked and simply enjoyed the peace of each other’s company. The sky was getting darker and the lights which decorated the trees began to come alive; though they were only small string lights, so Kisara wasn’t bothered with them.

 

The lowered sun brought colder temperatures with it as well, and soon, Roland was called to pick them up. Kisara was freezing by the time the limo rolled up and she shivered as she climbed into the back seat. The girl hugged herself and ran her hands up and down her own covered arms for additional warmth.

 

Seto shed his coat as he entered the vehicle and draped it over Kisara’s form.

 

“But what about you?”

 

“I’ll be fine, woman. I would have gotten too warm once the heater was turned on anyways.”

 

He took his seat and pressed the button to roll down the partition.

 

“Take us home, Roland. Oh, and do turn up the heat.”

 

“Yes sir!” His faithful driver answered and did as such.

 

The girl in the backseat shifted the coat like a blanket, her face pink from cold and the faint, fresh scent of Seto’s cologne.

 

“You know,” Seto began, “It does take the heat some time to kick in. I may feel a slight chill till then.”

 

Kisara sat up straighter, about to retort until she realized the meaning of his words. Maybe he was….? No, you shouldn’t get your hopes up. He might just be covering up the fact that he’s cold after all.

 

Either way, Kisara slid closer until she was pressed to his side and moved her arm to spread the coat over both of them. The CEO slid his arm down her back, though unable to trace her spine due to the thick clothing, he still managed to leave electricity in the wake of his fingertips as they finally came to rest on her hip, pulling her just that little bit closer; which crossed the threshold between platonic, and intimate.

 

Neither said a word as the rhythmic beating of their hearts spoke for them. This was starting to get dangerous. Would this sort of moment ever be repeated? Had their fates been changed? Or would this single act forever remain in the whispered interior of this car? Neither was sure, but both could admit that something felt natural about this.

 

Even if it was the only time, Kisara decided to enjoy the moment of being wrapped in the arms of a wonderful and respectable man, and laid her head on his chest, relaxing, and allowing her weight to sink and shift against him. It was several minutes before Seto began to speak again.

 

“Hn. I thought you said my chest made a lousy pillow?”

 

When he was met with no response, he glanced downwards, surprised and relieved to see that she had merely nodded off.

 

“Roland,” he rolled down the partition again, “take us to KaibaCorp instead.”

 

“KaibaCorp? Sir?”

 

“Did I stutter? And lower your voice.”

 

“Yes! I mean, ahem, y-yes sir, apologies. But sir, we’ll have to backtrack and face congested traffic due to the holiday and festivities.”

 

“That’s fine, I have nowhere in particular to be. Just make sure you get us there before next year.”

 

Roland nodded in affirmation, smiling as he realized his boss made a rare joke, and set course for KaibaCorp. Though he hadn't been kidding when he said that the streets were going to be packed. Traffic was a nightmare, but Seto came to find that he didn’t mind the gridlock or the wasted time, because he had something very precious and valuable nuzzled against him, without a care in the world, and he planned to keep it that way, if only for a bit longer.

 

Sometime later, they at last arrived at their destination. Seto was alerted as such, and he gently rubbed along Kisara’s shoulder to wake her up.

 

“Kisara, come on. A good secretary doesn’t sleep on the job.”

 

The girl under his arm stirred, feeling the rumbling from beneath Seto’s chest when he spoke and catching the sound of that familiar baritone in his voice.

 

“Seto….?”

 

She pushed herself up and yawned, fixing her glasses that had been skewed before her eyes widened in realization.

 

“Oh, I’m so sorry! I didn’t mean to fall asleep I-”

 

“Shhh. We’ll talk about it later. Come on, or we’ll be late.”

 

He took his coat from her before she could question him and was already exiting the car and allowing her to pass next.

 

She stretched for a brief moment, then looked up, utterly puzzled by the familiar surroundings.

 

“Why are we at KaibaCorp?”

 

“Do you trust me?”

 

He caught her off guard with the sudden question.

 

“I don’t really see how that’s relevant.”

 

“Do you trust me?” he repeated.

She gaped like a fish, for only a moment, before looking at him with an even and determined gaze.

 

“I do.”

 

“Good,” he held out his hand to her, “then follow me.”

 

Holding hands, he gently lead her into the the empty building with his keys, making Roland wait outside in the warm car. They went to the usual elevator, and Kisara’s thoughts ran a million miles a minute as Seto had yet to tell her what this was all about.

 

The door dinged too soon, signifying that they had reached the top floor- Kaiba’s office.

 

Once inside, Seto finally let go of her hand.

 

“Look outside the window.”

 

She rose a brow in confusion and walked over, seeming almost suspicious of what was to come. However, whatever silly scenario she had cooked up in her brain was quickly erased as her breath was stolen from her and she was left in awe.

 

Out of the large, glass windows, from the very top of KaibaCorp, Kisara could clearly see the lit up streets of the commons and, more importantly, the great New Year’s ball on top of the clock. It was her first time ever seeing the visuals so clearly, despite the distance. . Because they were so high up, she could look down and survey without the chance of her eyes hurting her. She could finally take in the gorgeous sights of the city lit up in merriment and the normally harsh lights only reflected a soft glow against the night sky. And, because KaibaCorp was rather close to the commons, they had the perfect vantage point to see the rest of the city.

 

Rayie …” she pressed her hand gently to the cool surface of the window. “I cannot believe it. With the amount of time I have spent looking out of this very window, passing it day by day...and yet somehow, I managed to overlook something so beautiful.”

 

“I know a similar feeling,” a gentle voice spoke behind her. Kisara turned to feel a pair of arms sliding up her sides, resting on her upper arms as the man she knew as her boss deliberately pulled her close to him. “And I don’t plan to take that beautiful thing for granted anymore.”

 

The woman’s eyes widened with surprise and her cheeks flushed as she realized the position that they were in. ‘This isn’t real’, she repeated to herself. ‘This can’t possibly be real.’

 

“I’m not...I’m not sure what you mean.”

 

“Don’t play coy with me now, woman.” his voice was more gentle than before and he reached up to tuck some stray hair behind her small ear, as he’d seen her do many times before. “You’ve felt this as well, I know that you have.” The touches, the looks, the smiles; all of it. Mokuba was right, there was something between them- and he could feel it. Kisara was incredible, and the Christmas party had only further proved to Seto what he’d known, and denied, for sometime now.

 

“I think you’ve misunderstood.” she pushed against his chest a bit, her voice sounding small. “It’s not possible, between us. It must be a mistake. Y-you’re just confused.”

 

“Don’t tell me how I feel.” he retorted, a bit harsher than he’d meant to. It wasn’t being rejected that made him upset, it was the thought the maybe, the entire time, he was the only one feeling this way, and Kisara, in her compliant nature, had simply went along with his whims. “You told me before that you trusted me. What happened to that? Don’t tell me you’ve been placating me this entire time. It can’t be- because I know you’re strong enough and smart enough not to be swept away so easily.”

 

“I know but, despite what I feel, how do you expect me to react? To think that someone as incredible as you would lower yourself to someone like me, i-it’s inexcusable!” she shouted at him, raising her voice, her hands closing into fists against his chest as her shoulders began to shake.

 

Seto’s demeanor softened once again when he saw how distressed she looked. He held her cheeks and thumbed away at the forming tears behind those glistening, ocean orbs.

 

“Tell my why I don’t deserve you.”

 

Looking up at him, she nodded minutely and began.

 

“When I lived in Egypt with my family, it was easier for most of them to pretend that I didn’t exist. My Baba told me, that he and Mama were very happy together, that is, until the day I was born. My parents are very ordinary looking people, with dark eyes, dark hair, and dark skin. But then I arrived; I was born with Albinism, so my skin was already pale, my hair was already white, and my eyes were already blue. Baba was furious, he thought that Mama had cheated on him with some foreigner and tried to disown her and split the entire family.

 

They went to many doctors, and they all told them the same thing, that Baba is my father, and Mama is my mother, and that I had a disease that was recessive in both their families. That it was incredibly rare, but there was nothing they could do about it. Baba did not leave Mama, but he was still never happy.

 

When I was a young girl, before I had to cover myself, the school children would mock me and avoid me. They would throw rocks and cast me out as a ‘white demon’. So I stopped going to school much earlier than most girls. I managed to educate myself with books I borrowed from the library, but it was dangerous for me to walk outside alone, so Mama made me dress in a full burqa, even on the hottest of days. She says it was to protect my skin from the sun, but I also know that she didn’t want to look at me.

 

I was fourteen when Baba took me to my first marriage interview. A bit young by our standards, but he wanted me married off as soon as possible. He never had any more children with Mama, for fear that he might have a son who would look as undesirable as me, and if I was married, then they could collect my dowry money, so that I would finally be useful to them.

 

That man asked me to pull of my burqa so he could see me in my normal clothing. So I did. And do you know what that man did next? He laughed at me. He laughed at me, and then he laughed at Baba. He said to him,

 

‘What sort of joke is this? Old man, you are foolish to think that the shame of your family would make a good woman. It is low of you to trick hard working men like me into taking on something so ugly.’

 

I couldn’t help myself, I started to cry.

 

Baba tried many more times over the next few years to sell me off to some rich man. When that did not work, he resorted to poorer men, to men who were looking for multiple wives, and even to men to men three times my age, but no one wanted me.

 

Baba was at his wits end. He said I was useless and disgusting, and he prayed to God every day, asking him for forgiveness for whatever horrible deed he had to be punished with a child like me. And from then on I knew, like my family, that no man would ever love me.

 

So I stole money from my parents to buy a plane ticket and boarded whatever flight was leaving soonest- that flight just so happened to be to Japan. It was difficult at first, but I am a fast learner. I taught myself how to speak Japanese, I used old textbooks to learn how to read and write kanji, hiragana, and katakana, and, although I was poor, I applied for receptionist work, because I would use Japanese most often, and it would force me to master the language. It worked. And a year after that, after I’d made some money, had an apartment, and could easily type several pages with no spelling mistakes, that is when I applied for KaibaCorp.

 

And even though, I have brought myself up, I have made myself greater than my family ever thought that I could be; in the eyes of a man, I am still that same, ugly, unwanted girl with skin like a corpse.”

 

Kisara held her head in her hands and she started to cry. The poor girl had been through so much adversity in her life, it was no wonder she was so quick to dismiss herself. She threw herself into her work to always be useful- to prove that she deserved to exist.

 

Seto listened to her story, his heart broke to know how undeservingly cruel her parents were. He could relate as well, Gozaburo, his adoptive father, had also been a strict and cruel man. He treated Seto like he was less than nothing, and he knew all too well the yearning to prove your worth to the ones you seek approval from the most. And, of course, the crushing defeat to know that you will never receive the validation that you so desperately seek.

 

So he drew her close, one hand soothing along the center of her back, and the other gently stroking her hair.

 

“You’re right, I don’t deserve you, because you’re even more amazing than I could have possibly imagined. You overcame your upbringing, you made yourself better, you made yourself smarter, you made yourself into something extraordinary, and they can’t ever take that away from you.”

 

He moved his hands to hold her cheeks and make her look up at him.

 

“Look at me. I don’t want to see you cry, not for them. Don’t give them that satisfaction. They’re too blinded by their own pride to realize the amazing woman that they gave up. Don’t give them that hold over you, do you hear me? You’re better than that; you’re better than them , and their opinions don’t matter.

 

But mine does. I don’t joke around, and I don’t use pretty words to spare your feelings- you know that. What I say is truthful, no matter how harsh. And if you really do trust me, then trust me when I say that I can’t believe you don’t realize how incredibly beautiful you are. I won’t deny how I feel for you anymore, because you need to know. You need to know that I think about you, even when you’re not around. You need to know how much your bright and cheery smile gets me through each and every day. And you need to know how talented you are. You’re not just an amazing secretary, you're also an amazing woman.

 

I didn’t realize how alone I really was until I had you by my side, and I want to get to know you even more. I want to know what makes you sad, I want to know your vindictive side, I want to see more of your charm, and your intelligence. But, most of all, I just want you , Kisara.”

 

Seto pressed their foreheads together and looked her deeply in her eyes, their noses could nearly bump and the soft puffs of her breath tickled his cheeks.

 

Kisara had since ceased her sobs and looked at him through tear filled eyes. He wasn’t joking, he wasn’t lying, this wasn’t a dream- it was all real, though she couldn’t believe it. The handsome and amazingly talented Seto Kaiba actually found her attractive. He liked her for more than just her brains, he liked everything that she hated about herself. And, what’s more; he was still giving her the choice.

 

Her eyes flitted to his lips then back to match his gaze. She saw nothing but raw emotion and pure desire behind those eyes, but she also saw something smaller. A sort of melting warmth that made you feel affection. Seto had always had this way of looking at people, and that when he did, and he listened to you, he made you feel like the only one in the entire room.

 

However, right now, with they way he was looking at her, she felt as though she were the only woman and in the entire world. And, in the entire world, there’s only one man that she would want to be with.

 

Kisara slipped her eyes closed and tilted her head just so, and, at last, sealed Seto’s lips with her own. Seto returned her affection in kind, wrapping his arms around the woman he loved and embraced her, all the while deepening the kiss and holding her impossibly close.

 

The ball must have dropped at that very moment, because an explosion of colour lit up the night sky. Muted whistles and crackles could be heard as more fireworks were set off in celebration of the New Year, each colour reflecting against their frames and bathed them in a continuous glow, as though their very union was being blessed by the Gods.

 

The New Year means many things for many people. It is a chance to start over new. It is a chance to reconnect, to change, to grow, to mourn, and to love. But for Seto and Kisara, the New Year marked the start of their new life together. And they knew that they could overcome any obstacle that may come their way, so long as they had each other.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

OMAKE

 

Seto opened the door quietly from his en suite bathroom, towel in hand, drying his still damp hair as he walked over, fresh and clean, shirtless, and padded over to his empty side of the bed.

 

The mattress dipped under his weight and the body occupying the other side stirred. Hair bright as moon light splayed across the duvet, still tossled and untamed from the nights previous events.

 

“Kisara, it's time to get up.” he kissed her pale, exposed shoulder and earned a groan of sleepiness for the action.

 

The beautiful woman beside him began to shift until a soft yawn-like coo fell from pillowy lips as she sat upright, the duvet and covers sliding from her body, revealing her smooth, ivory skin, still bare to the world, but only for Seto.

 

“Mn. It's a holiday, surely we can sleep longer?” she stretched her arms over her head, her long and wild hair falling just so to precariously cover her large breasts; the lovely contours of her body unknowingly feeding a predatory gaze.

 

“I have no idea what you're talking about.” he leaned forward to capture her arm, pressing unrushed open mouthed kisses along her skin and happily retracing a string of small blemishes he'd caused it their love making.

 

She giggled; his kisses running more than just a pleasured shiver up her spine.

 

“Don't lie to me. You know that it's Valentine's Day.”

 

“Is it?” he drawled and mumbled against her skin, feigning ignorance. “If so, then I fully expect to be spoiled.”

 

She rolled her eyes and playfully shoved him and pushed him to the bed, pinning him down and resting her hands on either side of his head.

 

“And what do you think last night was about, hm?” she leaned down and brushed their lips together in a sweet kiss.

 

He brought his hands up to hold her head and stroke her hair before parting.

 

“I thought it was just a preview- ow.” he looked to see that she'd bitten his shoulder.

 

“Don't insult my craft, or I'm cutting you off.”

 

Seto emitted an uncharacteristic whine and hugged her around the waist.

 

“You're an evil woman.”

 

“And you love every bit of me, habibi .”

 

“Unquestionably.” he answered honestly and expertly slid his hands beneath the duvet to grope and caress her bare, lower half. “Though this part is particularly nice.”

 

“I can show you something even better.” lips met and hands traveled and explored as they pressed flush against one another. Kisara's quiet hopes for a repeat performance from last night for suddenly dashed though as a knock at the door brought them to a halt.

 

“Pardon the intrusion, Mr. Kaiba, but the food you requested is ready!” Rolland called from the other side.

 

Seto sighed in irritation and waited for Kisara to scurry back to her side and pull up the covers to make herself decent before calling him to come in.

 

Roland rolled in a silver cart with a small buffet of scrumptious looks breakfast foods and a center bouquet made entirely of a variety of specially cut fruits.

 

“All the food has been prepared exactly to your specifications, sir. If you or Miss Kisara need anything else, please don't hesitate to call us. Oh, and, Mokuba sends his regards, and his incessant taunts of, ‘I told you so's’.”

 

“I'm sure that he does.” Seto cleared his throat to gain the other man's attention. Honestly, even behind dark shades, he could tell that the man was ogling his former coworker. “Roland, don't you have somewhere else to be?” there was warning in his tone, which his seasoned underling quickly understood to mean, ‘get out’, and easily obliged.

 

“I wonder if it's strange for him.” Kisara spoke up.

 

“I wonder why you care. “ Seto replied, unwarranted.

 

“Don't be mean. We used to work together as your employees, but now he addresses me with honourifics and sees me casually outside of work, fumbling about the mansion. It must seem strange, is what I'm saying.”

 

“Well then, he needs to get over it.”

 

“But what if he's jealous?”

 

Kisara laughed at the horrified look that crossed Seto's face for even entertaining the idea.

 

Mr. Kaiba,” Kisara tried, and failed miserably, to deepen her voice akin to a man's and slid her arms around Seto's shoulders.

 

I've been your loyal servant for so many years. Oh, please notice me, my beloved Master Kaiba!

 

“Stop that right now or I'll fire you for real, I swear to God.” he face palmed while she laughed at his expense then kissed his cheek in apology.

 

“Forgive me, I could not resist.” she gave him a few more quick kisses then let go.

 

“Was it fun, getting a rise out of me?”

 

“In a word….yes.” she answered bluntly then chuckled and leaned in to whisper in his ear, “But, I'd rather get a ‘rise’ out of you that we can both enjoy.” A wandering hand that teased down his toned chest and abdomen confirmed what they both knew to b seduction when her delicate, and well-manicured hand slipped below the waist of his pants and took a firm hold once it reached its destination.

 

“You'll be the death of me, woman.” Seto said breathlessly and, with great reluctance, he made her remove her hand. “Food, first. Fun stuff later.”

 

She pouted in mock hurt.

 

“I thought you had large stamina, habibi ?” she teased.

 

“I'm large in all the right areas, but stamina needs to build on a full stomach.”

 

“Boo. You're no fun.” she pulled him back to the bed once again and curled up to his chest, resting her head under his chin and tracing nonsensical patterns into his clavicle. “Hey, Seto, why do you call me, ‘woman’?”

 

“Because you are one.” A pinch to his nipple told him that the smart remark was not welcome. “Ow, ugh, you're so violent today. Hmm….” he thought about it seriously. “I'm not really sure. I just started saying it one day, and it fits.”

 

“Because I am just a woman?”

 

“No,” he took her hand in his own and brought hers to his lips, pressing a gentle kiss on her skin. “Because you're my woman. Everyone else's knows you as ‘Kisara’, but only I know you. The real you; like this, the beautiful, incredible, talented, and sexy woman that I know.”

 

Kisara felt a warm flutter in her heart and she smiled softly to herself.

 

“You really are too good to me. Thank you, Seto. I know I've said that many times, but I truly mean it. You see in me what I couldn't see in myself for so many years. And now, thanks to you, I feel like a fuller, more rounded person. I feel this confidence in myself that I'd never known before. I can take pride in myself and how others see me, because I'm not afraid anymore. I'm not afraid to be disliked or be alone, because I have the most incredible man by my side that believes in me. And I believe in myself, that I'm worthy of standing beside Seto Kaiba.”

 

“I don't believe in the concept of luck. It's idiotic and unreliable. But there's no possible way I can explain how fortunate we are to know each other. And, although I hate to admit it, Mokuba was right all along. For once.”

 

She chuckled softly.

 

“That he was. You should do something nice for him one of these days to thank him.”

 

“And give him an even bigger ego than he already has? I think not.”

 

“You know, habibi , I believe I remember something about a saying involving pots and kettles and calling the other one black.”

 

“You're lucky I love you, or I'd have to punish you for being so mouthy.”

 

“You could kiss me instead, and then we can call it even.”

 

Seto didn't respond and simply tilted her head up to kiss her passionately. The pair laid happily wrapped in each other's arms, exchanging full but lazy kisses as time seemed to slow for them. Food forgotten, the world solely revolved around the lovers as they pressed close, their foreheads touching, and stared deeply, lovingly into each other's hooded eyes.

 

“Happy Valentine's Day, Seto.”

 

“Happy Valentine's Day,  Kisara.”

 

THE END