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Love It If We Made It

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Things had been difficult since your father’s funeral. Your mother was still feeling lost, even six months later, and you had to take over the candy shop in your father’s place. Of course, it didn’t help that you missed him like crazy, keeping a picture of the two of you in your cash register at work so you could still see him all the time.

But, things were also starting to look up. On the verge of bankruptcy, you had to find a way to get more business fast, and used some of your meager savings to fund advertisements and set up a catering side to the shop. You had seen something online about weddings and high profile birthday parties having “Candy Bars” instead of full meals, and you were now the only place in Domino City to provide that. It had definitely boosted sales, but it was also much tougher on you and your mom.

Every morning, your mother came in to open the shop. There was a small kitchen in the back, where she spent a couple hours baking fresh cookies and pastries. They were some of the most popular items in the store, especially your signature “Blue Eyes White Dragon” shaped cookies.

You had the mornings off, not coming in until noon. It was there you stayed until the shop closed at 8 every night. Just like you did tonight, nearly falling asleep behind the counter as you waited for the last 15 minutes to pass by. Thursdays weren’t very busy days, understandably, so you hadn’t had a customer in the past hour. You had run out of things to look at online, it seemed, so it was all just a waiting game now. You didn’t really anticipate anyone coming in this late.

Then the limo pulled up.

You thought this was odd, maybe they just needed directions. There weren’t many people who drove - or, rather, rode in - limousines here in the city, and you couldn’t see those that did stopping into a colorful little candy store.

You could just barely make out what was happening outside through the rain beating against the windows and the glare of the setting sun, and you squinted, trying to get a better look. But it wasn’t until the door opened that you could see who was coming in.

The man was tall, brunette, and somewhat angular - but he most certainly filled out his crisp, clean suit nicely. He was straightening out the cuffs on his jacket as he walked in, stopping just inside the door to look around. He looked like he was judging the rows of candies and sweets, but maybe that was just his face.

“Good evening!” You said, trying to sound perky. He turned to look at you with that same judging look, and it took you back for a second. It felt like he was looking through you instead of at you, but you could almost forgive him for it - you were now noticing just how good looking he was. “If you need any help, my name is Takara.”

“I’m sure I can find my way around myself.” He replied coldly. You almost answered with something snarky, but managed to bite it back and pretend to clean the counter.

He meandered around for a couple minutes as you watched, picking up little packages of candy and put them down. He did, however, pick up two bags of assorted hard candies and carry them with him as he continued to look at everything. You checked the clock on the wall. 7:56. You weren’t going to say anything, as the policy was that if someone showed up before 8, they could keep looking as long as they liked. Besides, you liked the view.

He abruptly turned around, catching you in your stare. You stood up straight and turned away, feeling your ears get hot. “Fucking idiot,” you mentally scolded yourself over and over. Hopefully he wasn’t offended.

After a minute of looking anywhere but at him, you hazarded a glance his way. He was now at the pastry case, bent at the waist and looking very intently at the Blue Eyes cookies. He grabbed a floral printed pastry bag and took out three cookies, then turned and came towards you.

“These will be all.” His voice was low, and he set the cookies and hard candies on the counter. You typed everything into the computer, read his total, and he swiped his card on the pinpad.

“Do you need a receipt?” You asked him as the transaction finalized.

He shook his head. “Though I do have a question.”

“Yessir?”

“Why were you staring at me?”

You felt your face burn and turn red. This was the worst thing ever and you wished you could melt and get sucked down a drain. “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-”

“Come on, spit it out.” He said sternly, placing his hands on the counter.

You swallowed hard, but tried to be as brave as you could be. There was nothing to lose by saying the truth, unless he actually was offended and ruined your shop's reputation. As you looked him in the eyes, you said, “Sorry if I offended you, I just think you’re… an attractive man.”

He smirked, leaning forward on his hands a little more. “Good. Then you shouldn’t have an issue coming out with me for drinks when you close up. I would like to have a pretty woman to keep me company.”

You felt your entire body tense. It took a minute for you to wrap your head around what was happening. You couldn't even recall the last time someone had asked you to go out for drinks or anything, and you certainly weren't expecting it to happen today. You were suddenly very aware of the flour on your shirt from stocking the kitchen earlier.

“I appreciate the idea, and I would love to go. But I don’t even know your name.” You stammered out. Feeling warm, you touched your cheek and sure enough you were blushing so hard you were hot to the touch.

He straightened up and reached in his back pocket, pulling out his wallet. He opened it to the first flap and held it out so that you could see, in the clear protective casing, his driver’s license. Suddenly you felt sick.

“Seto Kaiba? As in KaibaCorp Kaiba?” You squeaked. You wanted to hide for not knowing who he was beforehand.

“The one and only. And if it’s okay with you, I would like to take you out tonight. No funny business, I promise.” He held up his pinky, which, honestly, was kind of endearing. “Just say yes, I don’t think you’ll regret it.”

He was demanding, but you didn’t feel like saying “no” was the right response somehow. Part of you felt small and like you should hide. Another part screamed at you to go, that this was the only chance you may get to go on a date with a handsome billionaire. You knew which side was going to win.

You face apparently gave away your feelings on the subject, as Seto didn’t wait for a reply. “How long will it take you to close the store?”

“About twenty minutes, it doesn’t take long.” You remembered just then to reach behind you and clicked the light for the open sign off. “Do you want me to meet you, or-”

“I’d rather you ride with me. It’s okay if you want to text someone for safety, but it will be easier, just in case you have a drink too many to drive.”

That made sense, but most importantly, he was offering a real limo ride. You had seen pictures of limos with all that open space, but had never been in one. You wondered briefly what his was like, but then realized you’d see in a few minutes.

He glanced back at his watch. “Just don’t keep me waiting.” Without anything else, he took his bag of candies and walked out the door, the ring of the bell waking you up. Immediately, you took out your phone and called your best friend, Nanami. While you counted the drawer and swept, you told her about everything that had just happened and asked for her to text you in two hours as your safety contact, just to make sure you didn’t get murdered. You could finally see outside as the rain began to slow, and told her his license plate numbers. She squeaked as she wrote them down, saying how lucky your were. You didn’t know if it was luck, exactly…



You cleaned up in record time, and set the alarm. You grabbed your purse and ran out the door, locking it behind you. As you turned around, his limo was still there, as promised. A plump man in a black suit opened the door to the back of the limo, holding an umbrella for you. You walked towards him nervously, putting your keys in your purse, and slid into the seat on the limo.

There in the back was a seat facing forward, towards the driver, and one that ran the length of the side of the limo across from the door. The seats were black and made of a very soft, luxurious leather. Everything looked pristine and new, like he had never even sat back here, unlike your car that was full of clothes and water bottles.

“Hi,” You said as you got comfortable in the seat beside Seto, at a loss for words. “Come here often?”

“Frequently.” He replied dryly, typing away on his phone. The driver got into his position behind the steering wheel, and slowly took off. There was a moment of silence as he finished whatever he was doing, then slid the phone back into his pocket. “Thank you for not keeping me waiting. I’m sure you’ve heard I’m not a patient man.”

You had certainly heard a lot of things about Mr. Kaiba, most of which were not pleasant. But, you knew he had a heart for orphans and games, so you reasoned that he couldn’t be all that bad.

“Well, I’ve heard good things about you, too.” You said, trying to echo your thoughts.

He gave a little grin, as if that were funny. “Have you? Good to know.” He stretched out his legs, reaching all the way to the other seat. “How long have you worked at the candy shop?”

“Since I was a child, really. It was my father’s store, but he passed away six months ago and left it to me.”

“Sorry to hear that.” You didn’t know if you believed him. “How are sales?”

You turned your body slightly more towards him so that you could more easily look at each other. “Up from last year, thank goodness. Not enough to be sustainable yet. Working on it, It’s a lot harder than I thought it would be, raising it from the dead.”

Seto gave another little grunt of acknowledgement, plucked his phone out of his pocket again, and started to text again. Not much of a conversationalist, apparently. But then again, what had you contributed? He was asking all of the questions.

“Are you developing anything new and interesting? I haven’t heard much in the news lately, and normally KaibaCorp is all over everything.”

He was silent for a second as he finished up scrolling through what you could see was his e-mail account. When he locked his phone screen, he barely glanced at you to say, “We’re focusing on opening a new KaibaLand in France. Set to open in about six months. Developing new games systems - most aren’t cutting it though, so don’t expect to see one on shelves anytime soon. Improvements to the duel disks holographic interface are coming up, and I’ve got my eyes set on making several deals to buy companies in the next year.”

Your eyes widened. You thought you had a lot on your plate, but this was next level. “Jeez, maybe you can give me some pointers about how to make my shop better, because I’m nowhere close to as good at this as you are.”

He turned towards you, obviously thinking. You didn’t want to interrupt him, so for a few seconds you just watched each other silently. “Have you thought of opening an online store?”

Oh! That was so simple! You wanted to beat yourself in the head for not thinking of it yourself. You shook your head no to him, feeling stupid. “I guess I hadn’t, that sounds like a perfect idea.”

Seto turned away from you, leaning back into the seat. “Impress me tonight, and I’ll see about setting you up with the people who run the KaibaCorp websites. I’m sure they can easily start getting you set up.”

You nodded, but couldn’t find the words to express your feelings. How were you, the college dropout with nothing interesting to say, supposed to impress the unimpressable? It’s not that you were boring or bad looking, but you didn’t feel like you were on his level in any capacity.

The rest of the short ride was filled with idle chat - you both liked your whiskey neat - while he typed away emails destined for who-knows-where. When the limo pulled up to the curb outside of a well lit, beautiful building with smoke rising from the chimneys, Seto smirked at you.

“Have you ever been here?” He asked, moving to get out of his seat.

“Only in my dreams,” you replied as you looked out the window. It was a bar, but a nice one. It wasn’t a sleazy dance club or a place where drunks go to save a dollar on their cheap booze. It was more of a cigar club, were wealthy businessmen came to discuss business off the clock. You once looked at their online menu and a simple white russian was $20.

“Neither have I. But I’ve heard good things, and I like an adventure.” The driver had silently gotten out and came to open the door just as you reached for the handle.

“Oh, thank you,” You said as you slid out of your seat and onto the sidewalk. Seto came out right behind you, standing uncomfortably close before you took a couple steps forward to put some distance between you. He came up beside you, and offered you his arm. Your nerves started to come back and you timidly accepted his gesture, wrapping your arm through his.

“Mr. Kaiba, I don’t-” You started, but got cut off.

“I like to keep business and pleasure separate, so unless you’re working for me, Seto is fine.”

You cleared your throat as he began walking and you almost stumbled trying to go with him. “Seto, I don’t know if I’m the type that belongs in a place like this. I’m not like these people, I’m - I’m wearing jeans and a t-shirt with my shop logo on it, for God’s sake.”

“Good, you can advertise while you’re here,” He replied. You couldn’t tell if he was joking. He continued, “You’re not required to prove your income at the door. And if it’s money you’re worried about, don’t. You can’t drink enough to damage my check book.”

As he opened the door, you went ahead of him and were greeted by the sounds of a piano and the scent of tobacco and mint and faint cologne. You felt dizzy as your eyes adjusted to the darker atmosphere and you saw pretty waitresses talking up older men in suits. There were bottles of everything you could imagine along the back wall, and to the right of the main seating area, behind the counter, were boxes and boxes of cigars along a shelf. A bubbly woman your age held out her hand for your ID, and you fished in your purse to show it to her. Not surprisingly, she didn’t ask to see Seto’s.

She led the two of you to a round table in the corner with a deep red tablecloth, and set menus between you and Seto. He didn’t bother looking at them.

“Whatever your nicest zinfandel is,” He ordered, before looking at you expectantly.

You felt rushed, so you blurted out the first thing that came to mind - “Watermelon mojito, please,” and she left towards the bar to get them made.

Your eyes turned away from her shapely figure as she sauntered off, and back to the equally attractive man seated across from you. His fingers were intertwined on the table, and he looked to be studying you.

“Why did you ask me here tonight?” You blurted before you could stop yourself. It sounded rude.

“Are you complaining?”

“Not at all. I just don’t understand - I don’t really get asked out for drinks frequently.”

He was silent for a minute, turning his head to look at the piano player, then around at the couches where cigar smoking men in suits like his were lounging and laughing. “Do you have siblings?”

You furrowed your brow. It didn’t answer your question, but you decided to play along for now. “I’m the oldest of four. Two brothers and a sister.” Just then, his wine came out, and he took the glass delicately and sipped it.  

After he swallowed and looked pleased, he turned his gaze back to meet your eyes. “I have just one brother, and he’s the only person I feel strongly for. He’s truly my rock in life. He left for college a few months ago. It’s hard to find good company when all anyone cares about is money or fame.” He took another sip. “So it was important to me when you didn’t recognize me, that’s why I asked why you were staring. Calling me attractive helped, too.”

“So, because I didn’t recognize you, and I was honest that I think you’re cute, you asked me out?” You said, trying to make sure you understood properly.

“That’s the first part of it. The second part is that I find myself needing companionship, but I’m not a very… agreeable person. I want to give you the proposition, if you will, that we give each other a chance tonight. If we don’t hate each other by the end of it, perhaps consider making this a habit - dinner, drinks, business functions…”

You contemplated his words for a minute, and waited to see if he would continue. When he didn’t, you asked for clarification again. “If we find each other acceptable, we date?”

His grip on his glass visibly tightened at the suggestion. “I don’t know that I would call it that. I’ve never been called an ‘affectionate’ man. I don’t know that I will romance you - but for your companionship, there will be benefits. Nice clothes, jewelry, status, entertainment. I can set up things for your shop and make things happen that you can’t get elsewhere. But I have expectations -”

“Like what?” You interrupted.

He looked like he was struggling for words, and took another drink. You were startled just then as your cocktail came out and was set before you. You thanked the waitress, and took an eager drink, finding your mouth dry suddenly.

Finally, he began to elaborate. “I like fine things. Expensive drinks, good food, fast cars, and pretty women. In public settings with me, or at my office, I expect you to be well dressed and well mannered. I can take care of the clothing, if we agree to see each other again. I expect punctuality. You are free to decline ‘dates’ but I expect you not to be a flake. And, most importantly, I expect that you respect my boundaries with you. I take things slow, and I see where they go before I make promises that I can’t keep.”

Your head was swimming, and it wasn’t the drink. This was a lot to take in, but you couldn’t help but find yourself intrigued. You didn’t know about the gift giving and the eccentricities, but you found him sincere and open with his desires, and it made you a little more at ease with the idea of at least giving him a shot.

“Do you… Do you expect sex?” You said, just barely audible over the piano in the background.

He shook his head immediately. “I will never ask you to do anything, especially with your body, that you don’t want. I won’t even ask you to take my hand if you say you’re uncomfortable with it. There will be mutual respect.” The last sentence was said as more of a demand.

You nodded gently, drinking a little more. All in all, it seemed like he was asking you to just be there for him - he may have some rules about what to wear, but that wasn’t too problematic, you thought. Surely you could use a break from jeans and flats every once in a while. And he seemed lonely, what with his brother being gone and all. You felt a pang of pity ripple across your chest. With another drink, you finished your mojito off.

“Okay,: You said after some quiet contemplation. “I’ll give you a shot tonight. As long as I feel respected, I think I can keep you company.”

If he was pleased by your acceptance, he didn’t show it physically. It was becoming clear that he had a very flat affect unless his ego was being stroked. This might make things difficult…

“In that case,” he started, waving the waitress back over to the table. “Let me get to know you, Takara.”

You ordered another drink, and began talking openly about yourself. He wasn’t as forthcoming, but you didn’t mind being the one to talk. You told him a little about everything - growing up, your family, that you dropped out of your robotics program when your father got sick - and it was at this last one that his face finally showed a little bit of surprise.

“You’ll have to finish your degree. There are so many ways robotics could change things for you. I could even consider hiring you to work on features in Kaiba Land.”

You chuckled and tucked a lock of hair behind your ears. “I might consider finishing up school, if I can get the shop stable enough to hire some help. Right now it’s just me and my mother and my little brother if one of us can’t work. But I don’t know if I have what it takes to be a KaibaCorp employee, I know you’re a demanding guy.” Somewhat shockingly, he gave a little nod to agree with you.

You decided, on your third drink - a glass of scotch - that you wanted to know more about him. You were feeling a little more comfortable as inebriation slowly set in, so you crossed your legs and tried to think of something to get him talking. He had just lit a cigar, and the woody scent was floating around you in a comfortable haze.

“How did you become the owner of KaibaCorp so young? And what made you turn it into a games company?”

Seto blew smoke above his head, watching it dissipate for a moment before meeting your eyes. “I won it. My… father was being irresponsible with things I designed, and I wasn’t going to let him mutilate my dreams. So I acquired the majority of the shares with the executives, and I took it from him. I have no interest in war. Being paid money to manufacture death disgusts me thoroughly, but I’ve been interested in games for my entire life.”

“And that evolved into Kaiba Land, too?”

“No,” He finished his fourth drink, having picked up the pace to make sure you weren’t out-drinking him. His face was starting to flush, but he maintained composure very well. “Kaiba Land came first. I wanted a place where children could go to escape, especially children in poverty and orphans. Children don’t deserve the heartache of the real world, so I want them to have a place free from it.”

That honestly was touching to hear, and you smiled as you leaned your elbows on the table. “That’s sweet,” You said quietly, and watched him turn his head away from you. “You’re not all monster, you know.”

“Tell that to the press.” He snorted defiantly, still not looking at you. But he was clearly becoming uncomfortable with being questioned, so hen turned it back on you. “And what about you? You run what is essentially the dream store for children. You could have left it to fail, but something about it is clearly important to you.”

You thought about that for a second. “It’s a happy place. People come there for things that make them feel good, not for things they need. Anyone can come in and find something to smile about, and if they don’t have money, sometimes I… lose a little inventory, but I get paid in happiness.”

Even though he was avoiding looking at you, you saw the corner of his lips turn up just slightly, before they settled back into the emotionless flat affect.

It was then you got your safety call from Nanami, and you excused yourself to the bathroom, quickly recapping to her what had been discussed as far as future dates. She sounded a little disappointed that he was a slow mover and said that it sounded more like he just wanted arm candy. You brushed her off, and promised you’d call her with any more developments before heading back to the table.

The two of you then chattered about local happenings. You weren’t too well versed in politics, but he explained a few things, and found out he was quite the lobbyist for certain things. To your surprise, it wasn’t for tax reform or decreased regulations, but for things like increased workplace safety and the continued expansion of equal rights. That’s when you decided you were comfortable enough - or drunk enough, having finished three more cocktails - to let him know a secret.

“I’m not… only attracted to men.” You said with a slow sigh, wondering what the reaction was. But he just raised his eyebrows.

“So women, too?”

“Men, women, and anyone outside of that. Not many people know that about me, but I just think there’s so many good, attractive people out there, and their gender doesn’t influence that.”

“That’s interesting,” he mumbled, then, noticing your look, added, “Not in a bad way. I just didn’t expect it.” He decided not to say anything about himself on this matter, instead standing up from the table and laying a small fortune on the table to cover the tab.

“You’re slurring,” his voice was still crisp and low as he offered his hand to you. “I don’t want you too drunk to stand, let’s get you home.”

You took his hand, smiling as you stood, and like before, you linked arms. You couldn’t help but think how pleasant the night had been as you walked outside. It was a little surprising, honestly - there were a few surprises and bumps, but it was so nice to sit and talk with someone genuine for a change. It didn’t really feel like a date, but more like the beginning of a journey.

Seto slid into the limo first, scooting over to the side so that you could get in after him. Once you were seated, you noticed he was a little closer than he had been on the ride over. He didn’t touch you or try to hold your hand, which was a little disappointing, but you remembered that he had warned you he wasn’t very affectionate. You decided that was probably okay, and you would respect his boundaries as long as yours were equally respected.

You gave the driver the directions to you house, then settled back into the plush seat, angling yourself so your head could rest on the doorframe behind you.

When you arrived outside of the small house you called home your entire life, Seto stepped outside with you.

“Thank you for tonight,” You said, clutching your purse to your chest. “You’re pretty good company so far.”

He smirked at you again. “You as well, Takara. I’d like to do something a little more formal soon. If you’re still giving me chances, I’d appreciate if you stopped by my office tomorrow about ten. Wear whatever you have that’s nice, I want to send you with my secretary to buy an evening gown so that we can have dinner. I’m busy tomorrow evening, but I’m free Saturday. How does that sound?”

Your heart fluttered a bit, and you willed it to stop. You should be a little more reserved like him. You gave him a nod anyway, hoping nothing on your face gave away your emotions. “I’ll be there at ten o’clock, then.”

As one last surprise for the night, he reached up and smoothed back your hair from your face. But without anything else, he turned to get back in the limo, leaning forward so he could see you one last time. “Good night, Takara.”

Chapter Text

Once you were home, everyone else was asleep. You tucked yourself into bed and set your alarm, barely feeling tired. You were giddier than you had any right to be, and it took a long time to get tired enough to get to sleep. You didn’t have very sweet dreams, however. You were plagued with a nightmare that you were kept breaking everything you touched and an angry mob formed, and you woke up feeling a little down. That was, until you remembered your appointment with Seto this morning.

It was tough picking out what would be the most acceptable to wear to his office, but you settled on a navy blue dress with a lace neckline that you had bought to be worn to your father’s funeral. It fit nicely, it’s wasn’t jeans, and it was clean. You figured that should be enough to skirt by his requirements. You had pinned back your hair and done some simple make-up to try to boost the look. You started to wonder, though, why you were putting more effort into this...

“Hurry up, I need to get started baking!” Your mother, Motoko, called out from the kitchen. Because your car was still at the shop, you decided to wake up early to get a ride with her to get it instead of taking public transit. It’s not that it was a long trip, but you were lazy and didn’t much like buses.

You grabbed your purse and followed her out to the car. Once you were out on the road, your mother asked what you knew she was going to.

“So, were you out with friends last night, or...?”

“I, erm, got asked out to drinks, so I was a little too tipsy to drive.” You looked out the window, not wanting to see your mother’s judging looks.

“Oh,” she said, trying to sound cheery. “Who is he?”

This question was going to be a doozy. “You’re not gonna believe it, but it was Seto Kaiba.”

Motoko clicked her tongue. “I don’t like lying, Takara. If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine, you’re an adult, but don’t lie.”

“I’m not lying, mama!” you defended, maybe a little too loudly. You had snapped your head towards her and gave her a pout. “We went in a limo, and he bought me drinks, and he wants to see me today at Kaiba Corp.”

She hazarded a glance towards you, then back to the road. “So you really went on a date with that tycoon?”

Now you were blushing. Your mom was a tabloid reader, and you knew some of the things they said about Seto. “He’s really not that bad. He even said he would help us start an online store to get business better.”

“Did he try anything with you? Because I swear, I’ll-”

“He was a perfect gentleman the entire time. He didn’t even touch me, or ask me to go home with him. He just wanted some company.” It was then that you decided to paraphrase what he said he wanted from you - you didn’t give her all the details, about dress rules and such, but you let her know most of what he wanted. “I think he’s just lonely without his brother, and I guess I caught his eye first.”

“Tsk, tsk,” She was pulling behind the shop now. “Be careful. You can make your own decisions, but you know I’ll be there to stab a motherfucker if he hurts you.”

“Mom!”




When you pulled into Kaiba Corp’s parking lot, you had to park in the guest lot, which was way, way far away from the entrance. You groaned - it was starting to get hot in the summer sun, and you wanted to be in the air conditioning faster. But you walked quickly in, and were floored by what you saw.

The lobby was expansive beyond what you had imagined. It had insane vaulted ceilings and a huge, glittering chandelier. The walls were all chrome, and the floors were sparkling white. There were people walking each and every way, phones ringing, projections being played on the walls. It was honestly intimidating, but after a moment of awe, you resolved to get to his office right at 10 o’clock, so you beelined for the receptionist's desk.

After having to stand in a short line, it was your turn. “Hi,” you said breathily to the older lady behind the counter. “My name is Takara Ito, Seto-- I mean, Mr. Kaiba, told me to come in at 10 today.”

She raised a brow at you. You definitely looked out of place, but surely it wasn’t that hard to believe. “Give me a moment.” She picked up the phone and dialed a couple numbers. After a few seconds, it seemed someone on the other end picked up. “Yes, Midori? I have a ‘Takara Ito’ in the lobby, I just wanted to confirm she had an appointment.” She listened for a second, then nodded to herself. “Thank you, Midori.” With a click, she hung up and pointed to an elevator that had a guard stationed beside it. “Please wait beside that elevator. Roland will be down to get you shortly.”

You thanked her, then headed towards the guard. He was standing perfectly straight and still, an earpiece cord dangling to the side of his bald head, and a gun in a holster at his waist. “How intimidating,” you whispered to yourself, coming to stand in front of him.

“This elevator is not for public use, ma’am.” The guard said gruffly.

“Oh, I’m waiting for Roland. Is it okay if I stand here?”

He grunted and shrugged his shoulders. It was very awkward, just then, as you stood quietly in a bustling lobby, staring at the guards shiny shoes. It seemed to be taking forever, and you were starting to wonder if you needed to go back to the receptionist. That’s when you heard the elevator bell chime, and the doors opened. An older man with a very dominating appearance and a thin mustache held the door open.

“Takara?” He asked, and you nodded. He gestured for you to enter the elevator with him, and you hopped in beside him.

“You must be Roland? Are you Seto’s bodyguard?”

He laughed as he pressed the button for the top floor. “Sometimes. But I’m mostly his business advisor and confidante, and when he hosts events I’m Master of Ceremonies.”

You smiled up at him. “That’s a lot of titles you’ve got, I take it you’ve been around him a long time.”

He nodded as the elevator hummed quickly upwards. “Been around since well before he took over the company. We’ve had a pretty close bond most of his life.”

You thought that was sweet, and that Roland seemed to be a kind person. “So,” You began, deciding to get a little information about Seto out of him. “What is the best thing about working for Seto?”

Roland thought about that for a minute before saying, “Probably that it’s just nice to work with someone who is so consistently hard working and has such devotion for what he does. He loves this company, and he takes a lot of pride in what he’s built. There’s not a lot of people in this world who so passionate about everything they do.

There wasn’t time for much more chit chat as the elevator slowed and the doors opened into a welcoming lounge with soft looking gray chairs, a massive bookcase to the side, and a desk where a pretty blonde was sitting, reading through a stack of papers.

The blonde looked up as you and Roland stepped out, giving you a pearly smile that made your heart stop. “Hello gorgeous,” you thought, hoping your face wasn’t displaying anything you were thinking.

She pressed a button on the phone on her desk and cheerfully said, “Mr. Kaiba, Miss Takara is here to see you. Should I send her in?”

After a second, Seto’s voice came back through the speaker, clear as day. “Bring her in, and you come, too. I’m sending you on an errand with her today.” She gave a quick “yessir” and stood up, her heels clicking on the marble floors.

“Hi,” you said, as she approached you and offered her hand. You took it firmly and noticed how soft her skin was.

“Hello, I’m Midori. It’s nice to meet you. We better not keep him waiting, though, he’s still in a good mood today.” Her smile was infectious, and you couldn’t help but beam back at her.

She led you over to the ornate doors straight across the lounge, and slid one open before entering. You and Roland followed her in, and he shut the door behind you.

The room was immaculate, everything in its place. Books were organized in order of color along the wall, and floor to ceiling windows let in the morning light. The other side of the room was adorned with large photos of Kaiba, awards, and artwork , all arranged in a way that made it seem like one cohesive story of his time here.

And the man of the hour himself was seated behind a large wooden desk with neat stacks of binders and folders and loose pages, a sleek computer, and a little name placard that cheekily said “Boss.”

Seto finished typing something as you looked around, turning on your heel as you looked at the very modern lighting fixtures above your head. “You’ve met Midori,” He said, and you snapped around to look at him. “She’s going to be taking you today to find something to wear tomorrow. She’s very familiar with my tastes, and I expect you two will get along well.” He beckoned for Midori to come over to him, and held out a card for her. She took it with a curtsey and returned to your side. “Do you have any questions?”

“Ah, where will we be going?” You asked as Roland walked behind the desk to stand behind Seto.

“The Bell Tower. I’ve never been, but I’ve been told it’s good. I have a private room reserved, so I anticipate a nice, quiet evening.”

You raised your eyebrows. The Bell Tower was a very upscale restaurant that had opened a couple years ago. You had also heard a lot of great things, but didn’t personally know anyone who had ever been because of just how expensive it was. You had, however, once met a waiter from there who said that it was one of the best jobs he had ever had, so it was good that they treated their workers well.

“Anything else?” but before you could even think of anything, he gestured for you to leave. Midori took your hand and pulled you gently back out of the office. Once the door was closed behind you, she looked you up and down.

 

“We need to look for something… green.” She said with a nod.

“Green?” You felt like you were getting more confused by the second. “Oh, you mean as far as a dress goes?”

“Yep, you’d look great in something maybe forresty. But we better go, he doesn’t like for me to be gone too long.” She walked behind her desk with swaying hips and grabbed her big silver purse, and tucked his card into a pocket on the inside.

On the elevator ride down, and the ensuing walk to a nearby boutique, you told Midori your sizes, and then you found out that she had been working for Seto for three years now, and was essentially on-call every hour of the day. She told you about how once Seto had been bedridden with the flu and he called her at fifteen past three in the morning to bring him medicine and food. You asked if the proposal he had given you last night was something he did often, and she just shook her head and said that as far as she knew, he hadn’t seemed to have a desire to be around much of anyone until recently. She had even found herself filling in for Mokuba, coming over to the Kaiba manor to duel him or have dinner once in a while.

“I promise, though, there’s nothing going on,” She said, trying to reassure you.

“Oh, no! I wasn’t thinking there was, but even if there was, I’m not… expecting this to turn romantic or anything. He didn’t really indicate he was looking for someone to be with, you know. Just someone to spend time with.”

Midori groaned loudly and rolled her eyes. “You have got to learn to read him, and quick. Like, his brother and his company kept him busy, so he didn’t care about dating or anything. But with Mokuba in college he’s lonely. And if he just wanted company, he has Roland and me, and tons of staff to cater to him. He doesn’t want company, he wants a partner.”

You thought about that for a second. “So, last night was… a date date, and he just didn’t admit it?”

She nodded. “It wasn’t that he won’t admit it, I just don’t think he knows what he wants. He’s used to just getting what he wants, now he has to figure it out for himself. We’re here!”

You looked at the shop window you were standing in front of. Silver mannequins were displayed in nice clothes - long, sparkling evening gowns and knee length cocktail dresses on one side, suits and professional wear on the other. A you and Midori entered the store, it smelled like fresh linen and lemons, and the lights were a little brighter than you expected. A clerk in the back gave you a wave and told you that you were free to ask any questions. Midori made a beeline for the wall, where dresses upon dresses were displayed, and started flipping through them.

It looked different than the clothing stores you visited. You were looking through a rack for several minutes when you noticed, there were no duplicates. Each dress was different, so you couldn’t just get something in a different size. You didn’t say anything to Midori about it, but it was definitely a different experience.

When you turned around to look for Midori, she already had a stack of dresses folded neatly over her arm, and had made her way to the end of the long rack. She worked quick!

When she was done, she approached you and transferred the dresses to your arms. They were heavy, some silky and some with delicate beading. She had picked out a lot of green, but also some blues, purples, reds, and silvers.

“Okay, so Seto likes long dresses, not crazy about heavy embellishment, and he hates anything frilly. Limited pinks and pastels. Fitted is best, slinky dresses are good for black tie or white tie events, and the better your ass and hips look, the more he’s going to like it.” She leaned in close. “And this is a guess, but if you want to fuck him, tight and black are your best bets.”

You blushed as she pushed you towards the changing rooms. “That’s good to know. How do you know all this?”

She shrugged. “He likes to read fashion magazines in the mornings while I make his coffee, and there are ways to ask him things where he gives you good answers. You do have to do some interpreting though.” She opened the changing room door for you, than took a seat inside. You weren’t totally prepared for her to come in with you while you changed, but you weren’t mad if a pretty girl saw you undressed.

You hung the dresses up on the provided hook, and leafed through them. They were nicer than anything you owned, and you suddenly wanted to take them all home. You weren’t going to abuse your new privileges like that, but you decided that this may just be worth putting up with an attitude for.

You realized why Midori came in with you when you slithered into your first dress - they could be hard as fuck to zip. She helped you out and you pulled the fabric down a little further. It was tight and blue and beautiful, but Midori immediately said it wasn’t the right one.

And that’s how it went for the next thirty minutes. You shimmied around in dress after dress, putting most on another hook to be put back, and just a few were kept on a seperate hook to consider. When you had tried on all of them, you had three to decide between.

“Which one did you like best?” you asked her after you had been staring at the dresses for several minutes. There was an emerald dress that had a kind of cape draped around the shoulders, tucked in place with silver embroidery. The next was a blue, off the shoulder silk dress that kind of looked like a cross between a peacoat and a ball gown. The last was a burgundy velvet, fitted dress with spaghetti straps and a low back

Midori sighed and crossed her arms. “It’s tough. Personally, I like the blue, and if you were going on a date with me, that’s what I would pick.” Jackpot. “Green was my favorite color on you, but for Kaiba, I think he would go for the burgundy one. He’s going to love it on you.”

Honestly, you thought that was the nicest one, too, and you loved the feel of it as you ran your hands across the velvet. “Good, then this one it is.”

You helped Midori put the rest of the dresses back on the rack, and set aside the chosen dress with the clerk while Midori poured over shoes in the back of the store. You loved shoes - or at least, you loved looking at them. You never found a reason to get dressed up in heels, so it was always flats or sneakers, maybe the occasional wedge when you were feeling confident. This made you worry that you weren’t going to be steady in heels, and falling was the last thing you wanted to do.

Midori had you try on several pair, and you two gushed over them all, but none really felt like they went with the dress. Finally, she picked out a pair of strappy silver pumps, and you found them pretty comfortable, so those were chosen for tomorrow, too. After purchasing both, and getting a heavy dose of sticker shock, you meandered out of the shop together, carrying a long garment bag and nice bag to carry the shoes in.

“We have to make one more stop before we head back to Kaiba Corp.” Midori said, pointing just up the street to a little coffee shop. “He sent me a text a little while ago asking for coffee, so I can show you how he likes it while we’re here.”

Inside, Midori ordered three coffees - one for you - and asked for a spoon. At the cream and sugar station, she held it up. “So, for a twenty ounce coffee, he gets two spoons of cream. Nothing flavored, just cream.” She demonstrated by actually measuring it out and you shook your head. He was so picky. “Three packets of sugar. Always a medium roast, and preferably freshly brewed, but he’s actually not so particular on that.”

“Unlike everything else,” You huffed, stirring in cream and sugar to your own coffee. Midori gave you a little nudge with her elbow as she put a lid and sleeve on the cup.

“He’s got very specific tastes, yes. But he’s not too bad. There’s just ways to do things to make him happier. If he’s in a bad mood, there are ways to calm him down, and if he yells at you, don’t take it personally. He yells at me constantly, but I know it’s not about me. He runs a huge company practically on his own- he’s going to be stressed.” The two of you exited the shop with your coffees and headed in the direction of KC. You wondered just how much yelling you would have to endure during this, or if there would be worse. But, if Midori could not only stand him, but seem to recommend him, maybe you were looking at this the wrong way.

“Okay, so what are things I need to be aware of?”

She gave a light “hmm” and thought about it for a few seconds. “First off, I don’t know everything he likes or dislikes, so I can’t write a manual. But he definitely hates whining and looking for pity.”

“Understandable.”

“He doesn’t like being interrupted, he doesn’t like doing things that bore him, and he doesn’t like being made an ass out of, so if you can stomach being wrong, just be wrong, even if you’re right.” She took a sip of her own coffee, leaving behind a dark pink lipstick stain.

“What about things he does like?” You questioned, hoping it would be an easier answer.

“I’m sure he likes a lot more than he lets on to. But I know he likes flying, and good food, and dueling of course. Oh, and he hires a massage therapist pretty regularly, so he likes massages, hint hint. Stroke his ego frequently, and this is going to sound ass backwards, but touch him a little bit. A hand on his arm or knee seems to really please him.”

You sighed, and gave Midori a gentle smile. “I can’t believe I’m having to be coached on how to date someone.”

Midori stacked the two coffee cup in one hand and put the other on your shoulder. “I can’t speak from experience - I don’t think anyone can - but I think it might be worth it. He’s passionate and I think that could carry over to you if this all works out.. He needs someone, that’s for sure.”

It wasn’t long before you made it back to Kaiba Corp, and it was much easier to get back to the elevator this time with Midori’s badge. The elevator zipped upward to the top of the tower, and by the time they dinged open, you and Midori had exchanged phone numbers. You followed her back into Seto’s office, where he was quietly on the phone. When he noticed you there, he mouthed that he would be done in a moment, and quickly rescheduled the phone call he was on for thirty minutes later.

When he hung up, Midori handed him his coffee, then headed out of the office, giving your arm a pat on her way past you. You were a little uncomfortable and unsure of yourself, so you continued to stand by the door holding your dress and shoes.

“Put those down, and come here, if you will.” He said, motioning for you to come behind his desk next to him. You quickly laid the garment bag across one of the chairs in front of him, the shoe box and bag on the floor in front of it, and headed around, brushing the smooth wood of the desk with the tips of your fingers.

“Oh, did you want to see…?” You asked, just before you rounded the corner. You came to stop in front of him, suddenly feeling exposed and small. He was leaned back in the chair, legs crossed, with a hand resting on his face. Watching you, he took a second to respond.

“I’d rather be surprised tomorrow night. Did you enjoy yourself?” He moved his hand, but then pulled it back. You wondered what it was that he wanted to do.

You fidgeted, reaching up to twist a little bit of your hair. “I did. I think Midori and I are going to get along really well, and she’s been very helpful explaining things. I hope I can put it to good use.”

He smiled gently, and you felt yourself melt just a little. You could smell his cologne from here, and it was divine and earthy, and somehow a little feminine. You realized then how starved for touch you were, and wanted nothing more than to throw yourself into his lap and have him put his arm around your waist - but how inappropriate would that be? Lost in thought, you were startled when he reached up and pulled your hand away from your hair.

“It’s unbecoming to fidget so much.” He said, his smile gone. You nodded in response, and stood up a little straighter. He just watched you for a long time, and you didn’t know what to do or say.

Finally, he broke the silence again. “I meant it, what I said in the shop. You’re a very pretty girl, and I want to see how elegant you can be. I know you have it in you… But we’ll talk more tomorrow night. I’ll meet you in front of your shop at 8:30, so be ready.” He stood up and walked with you to the door once you had picked up the dress and bag, holding it open above your head. He was so close to you as you looked up to him.

“Thank you for these, Seto. You barely know me, so you’re putting a lot of faith into my ability to please you. I’ll see you tomorrow.” You could barely speak, your voice just more than a whisper above the clicking of Midori’s computer behind you. Seto nodded, and wished you a good day, before shutting the door. You took in deep breaths to steady yourself, then walked out and went to work, as if nothing happened.

Chapter Text

“He bought you this?” Nanami gasped, her hands gently running across the velvet as you displayed the dress proudly for her in the kitchen. “Takara, I think this thing costs about as much as my rent. Did you, like, suck him off for this?”

“That’s the crazy thing, he hasn’t even held my hand or anything.” You whispered, feeling like you needed to be quiet in your own empty shop. “He hasn’t asked me for sex, or a kiss… not even for any naughty pictures. He just demands I be dressed well and act appropriately.”

Nanami helped you push the dress gently back into the garment bag, not wanting to crinkle it or get anything on it.

“So, what’s wrong with him? Every guy I go out with wants sex on day one and they’re all so touchy-feely. Do you think he’s nervous or something?” The two of you closed the kitchen door and walked back to the register, both of you hopping up to sit along the counter. You shrugged.

“I don’t think he can be nervous about anything, I mean, he’s Seto Kaiba. Does he have time to be nervous?”

“Well, his secretary said that he doesn’t really date, so maybe he just doesn’t know how to navigate the whole issue.” She was grasping at straws just as much as you were - there was really no solid answer you could definitively give, so you decided to drop it.

“What do you think, though? Should I do my hair up or down? And you’re doing my make-up, right?” You trusted Nanami with everything beauty related. She worked hard to look even more beautiful than she was naturally, and it was one of the things that had attracted you to her years ago when you started dating. Things didn’t work out, turns out she much preferred guys and just wasn’t entirely happy with a girlfriend, so you upgraded her to the best friend rank and never looked back.

She clapped her hands together. “Honey, we’re going to make him fall in love with you tonight, you’re going to look so good. He’s gonna take one look at you and fall on his billionaire ass.” She looked up at the clock, the looked back at you with raised eyebrows. “But we better get to work, I don’t want to run out of time.”

Sitting at the counter with a handheld mirror and an array of products spread around and in bags, you two went to work, taking care of the odd customer as they filtered in this last hour. You put your hair up in a low bun, securing it with bobby pins and the lightest mist of hairspray you could afford. Nanami then did your make-up more expertly than you thought you’d ever be able to, but keeping it bright and nude so that it didn’t overwhelm your face. When you were satisfied, you gave her a big hug and told her how much you loved her, then kicked her out of the store so you could close up shop.

Once you were done cleaning up lightly around the shop and counting the cash, you carefully took out the dress and changed into it. You were a little wobbly in the shoes, but they weren’t as high as they originally looked. Once you were pleased with how you looked, it was just time to wait, since you were done early. You shut the lights out, ready to set the alarm, and waited for the limo to pull up.

After what felt like a lifetime, you saw lights slow to a stop outside of the shop, and you suddenly felt panicked. What if you had chosen everything wrong, and he didn’t like it? What if you weren’t interesting enough, even if you looked alright? You suddenly didn’t feel like eating at all, but it wasn’t like you could back out. So, with a deep breath, you armed the system and shuffled out the door, trying not to run so you wouldn’t fall in your heels, and let the door close behind you.

He was standing outside of the limo, waiting for you with his hands in his pockets. He was in a beautiful gray suit with a burgundy tie that matched your dress. For a moment, you wondered how he had known, but Midori had probably told him. As your eyes traced him from his shoes to his face, his did the same, and you saw a glimmer in his eyes, melting you on the spot.

“Hi,” Seto said, approaching you and taking his hands out of his pockets. “Come here often?”

You giggled and tried your hardest not to fidget. “Not at all. How do you do?” You gave a wobbly little curtsey, and caught a glimpse of a smile on his face. Instead of responding, he held out his hand, waiting for yours.

His hands were so soft, and you marveled at how much bigger than yours they were as you lightly put your hand in his. He lifted it above your head, instructing you to spin slowly so he could see all of you, from the delicate hem to the very low back, then back to your blushing face.

“This… This is how I’d like to keep you. You’ve impressed me a lot, Takara.” He was so close now, you wondered if he was going to…

Abruptly, he cleared his throat, and led you to the limo, letting you climb in first this time. As you were adjusting your skirt to sit comfortably, he got in behind you, sitting close enough that when you turned towards him your knee pressed against his leg. You weren’t going to move it, so you hoped he didn’t mind.

“How are you, Seto?” You asked, struggling to find anything more meaningful than that to ask or say to him. Your brain turned into mashed potatoes when you were around him, and you didn’t know how to stop it, or if you wanted to stop it at all.

“Fine,” He said quickly, and you didn’t think he would elaborate, being such a private man. But, to your surprise, he began speaking again. “I started the process today of acquiring one of the companies that manufactures a major part of the gaming systems we produce, and it looks like it’s going to be an easy process. Relatively.”

He wasn’t quite talking over your head yet, but you knew it was coming. “So, explain to me why you want that company. Is it just because it’s more money in your pocket? Or is there something I just don’t know about owning companies?”

He scoffed at the suggestion. “Trust me, money is not my motivator. I simply want the standards of Kaiba Corp to be reflected in as many stages of production as possible. I like clean and efficient manufacturing, and that’s not exactly what they’re giving me just yet.”

For some reason, you were hit with memories of econ and history in college when they discussed these exact type of company buyouts. “So... I'm trying to remember what it's called... upstream vertical integration? Doesn't that typically cause internal losses at first?”

He regarded you with a curious look, his lips pursed. You were wondering what you had said, when he leaned forward and put a hand on your knee. Your body responded by sending shivers up and down your spine, but you didn’t say anything.

“With a little bit of time, I could make you an expert in everything to do with running a company, and I wouldn’t be surprised if you were good enough to make a name for yourself all around the country.” This was followed by a moment of silence, your heartbeat audible in your ears, where he gripped your knee, then slipped his hand just an inch or two higher - then he pulled it away, and you realized you had been holding your breath the entire time.

Seto turned his head so he was looking at the floor. “Yes, there are some internal losses to begin with. Worker motivation drops when sales are guaranteed, so to combat it, I offer monthly bonuses for quality work. And I have a mind to improve the working conditions there so that it matches what I offer the rest of my employees. Do I work people hard? Yes. But it’s what I offer in return that makes them stay.”

You nodded - that made sense, you supposed. And he was right, you didn’t hear of much turnover at Kaiba Corp. You had met a lot of people who worked there, and they had all worked there since close to the beginning of his time as CEO. He obviously was doing something right, as KC was bigger than ever.

“I’m kind of surprised,” You said, holding your hands in your lap and looking down. “You seem to care about a lot of good things. Where does this image of you being a cruel, slave driving egotist come from?”

Seto clenched his jaw, thinking about how to respond to you. You got the impression, somehow, that maybe Nanami was right. Maybe he was as nervous as you were, though it escaped you as to why he would be. Finally, he came up with something. “I have a short temper. You haven’t seen it yet, but you will, so I apologize in advance. I’ve gotten better, though. There are things that happened - I don’t want to get into it now - and I made some friends that believed I could be better, and I am.”

The look on his face was one you couldn’t quite place, something nostalgic and homesick, maybe. Regardless, you felt sympathy for him, obviously trying to do what he thought was best, and you reached out to gently grip his forearm, and give him a warm smile.

“I don’t mean to talk about things that get you down, I’m just seeing this side of you I’ve never heard about and it makes me happy that I get to see it.” He placed his hand over yours as you spoke, his thumb stroking along your fingers, causing your body to tingle. It was hard to read him, and you wondered, as you glanced up to his blue eyes, if it was only you feeling this way. You wished you didn’t.

Just as soon as he had his hand on yours, he pulled it away. You took your hand away from him, and sat back. The limo began to stop, and you looked out the window. The restaurant was plainer than expected on the outside, with big windows covered by deep blue curtains and large, gold double doors with “The Bell Tower” painted in a delicate script.

“Are you ready?” Seto asked as the driver came to open the door. You nodded excitedly and quickly followed him out the door, wobbling a little as you took your first steps outside. To steady you, he took your arm in his. “You need a little more practice in those. But you do make them look good.” He whispered into your ear, his breath hot. You felt your knees weaken.

Why does he make me feel like this?” You wondered to yourself as he led you inside and began talking to the host. “I know I haven’t been with anyone in a long time, but am I really just that in need of affection?” You continued to question your emotions and your desires as you were led to the back, into a separate, dimly lit room. There was room for several tables here, but all but one had been moved out, leaving a lot of space. There was faint music filtering in, but otherwise, it was like no one else existed outside of that room.

You had to snap out of your thoughts as Seto pulled you chair out for you, and then scooted it underneath you as you sat. For a brief moment, he brought his hands to rest on your bare shoulders, and you shivered when they left and he came to sit down across from you.

You adjusted in your seat as a handsome, younger waited came in with two glasses and a pitcher of iced water. He poured you both glasses, and asked if you wanted a menu or something called “degustation.” Seto responded that that was what the two of you wanted, and once the waiter was out of earshot, you asked him what it meant.

“It’s small courses of the chef’s signature dishes. Here, it’s fifteen courses, and each except for the last has its own wine pairing.”

“It’s what? Fifteen?” He laughed at your shocked expression, and after a minute you laughed as well. This was ridiculous.

Once you had calmed your shock, you folded your hands on the table. “There’s still a lot to learn about you… What do you normally do in your spare time?” You had a couple good ideas, but you’d like to hear it from his mouth.

He cleared his throat and took a drink of water before responding. “I enjoy dueling, of course, and various other games. Tinkering around with things and learning - or, really, inventing - new technology. In the summer, I like to go out on the water.”

“Oh, you have a boat?” You shouldn’t have been surprised, but he didn’t much seem like the sailing type.

“A yacht.” He corrected, moving around his silverware. You watched his hands and had half a mind to tell him ‘no fidgeting,’ but didn’t know if you were ready to risk those jokes yet. “I take it out for business a lot, but sometimes it’s nice to just go out for a few days and be out in the fresh air.”

You smiled sweetly and leaned on your elbows. “You should take me out there sometime, I bet it’s lovely.”

He raised an eyebrow at you and you watched his lips curl into a half-smile. “Miss Takara, are you just here for my money, or are you here for me, huh?”

“Clearly your money. It’s not like you’re handsome or charming or interesting. All about the money.” You said, as sarcastically as you could muster. Truth was, it was nice to be taken out and gifted things, but honestly it was the way he made you feel that got you to accept those things, not the other way around.

“What about you?” Seto asked dryly.

“Oh,” You weren’t really prepared to answer the question, so you had to think quickly. “I watch my younger siblings most of the time, so it’s mostly whatever they want to do... but I like baking, and gardening. I’ll have to show you my flowers sometime soon, they’re coming in beautifully this year.”

“I should have known you’d be into growing things, you look like the nurturing type.” You couldn’t help but smile and thank him. “What are you growing this year?”

You brought up a mental picture of your small, cramped back yard. “I grow sunflowers every year, mainly because I like how small they make me feel. I’m also growing daisies, zinnia, and peonies, which are my favorites. There’s not a lot of room, but I started growing watermelon by the side of the house, and we just ate our first one last week. There’s a trellis, too, which I started growing wisteria on, but they’ve overtaken it and started breaking it, and it looks like a pretty purple mess.”

Chatter went on like this for the next near hour - or at least you thought, it was hard to keep track of time when you were so enraptured by your date. The first two courses came out during this time. They were small, colorful hors d’oeuvres that you had to figure out how to eat by watching Seto. To no one’s surprise, they were orgasmic. You had had some wonderful food in your life, but there was nothing like this to your memory. The wines were fantastic as well, just a little bit to sip on each course so you didn’t begin feeling drunk at all.

You learned a lot about him while you ate. For one, he was a little messy, but cleaned up his face with his napkin each time he got something on it. You learned he had his pilot’s license, and had had it for a long time, and that he speaks a moderate amount of French. As he demonstrated in his low, gravelly voice, you smiled and sighed, and he asked what was wrong with you.

The following six courses - more hors d’oeuvres, then a beautiful, creamy soup - were spent with you talking about your family. There was your mother, Motoko, who was the strongest person you knew; Minoru, your oldest little brother who had also just begun college; Shouta, four years younger than Minoru and getting into Duel Monsters harder than the rest of the family; and Atsuko, your baby sister who had just turned nine two weeks ago and helped you with your garden. You talked about your father, Nobu, and his long battle with cancer.

You didn’t get into too much detail about everything that had happened, but you went through the little timeline you had grown so accustomed to remembering late at night when you missed him. You were in your final year of college, just beginning the semester, when your mother called you in tears. You immediately moved back home. The cancer resisted everything that was thrown at it, sometimes shrinking and giving you hope, then spreading and taking it all back. Watching him pass away in early January was the worst thing that had ever happened to your family, but you spent the last few weeks surrounding him in love. You just wished that he could remember you on those final days.

You put on your strong face, willing yourself not to cry, but Seto noticed how much of a struggle it was to remember everything that happened. He reached across the table, placing his hand on the side of your face. You leaned into the touch with your eyes closed, your brain beginning to quiet down.

“You’re a very strong woman, Takara,” He whispered as he pulled his hand back. “I’m sorry things have been so rough for you and that you lost someone so important to you. I can’t change things for you, as much as I think I’m God, but I know your father's shop means a lot to you, and I'm still willing to help you. I have a group that works for me, that keeps the Kaiba Corp various websites running and up to date. If you’ll allow it, I can send them out Monday with a photographer to photograph your products and get information from you to start building everything.”

You were still blinking back tears, but you couldn’t help but smile down at your empty wine glass. “Thank you, Seto. I’d love some help, and whatever I can do to repay you… Just let me know.”

“I’m sure you’ll repay me in time, but don’t worry about it tonight.” He said, back to his normal speaking voice. You wondered what that meant, maybe letting your mind wander a bit too far, but you were interrupted by the waiter bringing out another course - a dish with carved seasonal vegetables.

That course, and the next, were eaten in relative silence besides discussing how good the food was. The following course, you were feeling better, so you asked him about his little brother.

“Mokuba is…” He stopped, thinking for a second as his fork clinked against the china plate. “Headstrong. Sometimes naive. Loyal. More of a badass than I’ll ever be. I didn’t think I could survive without him, and this is the first time he’s been away from home for long. I want what’s best for him, though, and if that’s going out on his own for a little while, I’ll just have to survive it.”

You nodded, remembering that Mokuba being gone is really the only reason you were sitting in this chair right now. Had he decided to attend Domino University, Seto would have never come into your shop, would have never asked you to keep him company, and you would have never found yourself so goddamn emotional you felt like you were going crazy.

“Speaking of Mokuba,” Seto said, letting the waiter take his plate and replace it with a lamb dish. “His birthday is in four days, and I have a lot of things to do before then. He’ll be on a little birthday break, of course, but I want to travel up to where his condo is-” of course he has a condo- “and give him a party. He hasn’t had a proper party in years.”

You cocked your head to the side. “In other words, I won’t see you for a while.” You pouted, but you didn’t mean to, and you straightened your face back up when you realized you were doing it.

“Unfortunately, not for a few days at least. But, once I get back, we’ll do something. I’ll take off the following morning, barring some catastrophe at work, and… well, I haven’t exactly figured out what I want to do yet, but it’ll be something.”

A grin crept on your face, and you couldn’t help but wiggle a little bit. “Okay, that’ll work. I’ll be looking forward to it.”

Things were kept light for the rest of the night. You were starting to get a little tipsy off the wine towards the end, but the last course was coffee and handmade ice cream, which helped you sober a bit. You were, without a doubt, a lightweight. After all the plates and glasses were removed from the table and the bill was quietly paid, you put your phone number into his cell, and he stood, offering you a hand.

“For a while, I forgot how that dress just…” He trailed off as he spun you around again, taking in every inch of you with his eyes, making you giggle like a little girl. Had anyone ever made you feel so high, and intimidated, and so very heavy?

You exited the restaurant hanging happily onto his arm, and as you waited on the limo to pull back around, he pulled you in close. He was so tall, even in your heels, and you wanted to float up to his level and… God, he was so close, and warm, and his cologne smelled so good...

Seto sighed, and loosened his grip on you. You realized your eyes were closed, and opened them with a confused look on your face.

He shook his head and took a step back. “I need more time with you. I need to get myself together, before…”

You tried to put yourself in his shoes. What if you weren't ready? You'd want his patience, too. So, quite deflated, you nodded. “It's fine. You said you'd never make me do something I didn't want to do, and that goes for you, too. Take all the time you need.”

He smiled at you, the limo pulling up behind him, and took your hand again. “That means a lot to me, Takara.”

You tried to cheer yourself up on the ride back to the shop to get your car. You felt guilty for how you were feeling, but you didn't know how to change it. What were you supposed to do? And now it was going to be several days or more before you saw him again.

You got home rather uneventfully, and quietly peeled off your clothes to shower while the rest of the house settled in to sleep. It was there you found the source of your emotions, and a near catastrophic dress mishap, in the stains on your brand new underwear.

Good thing he needed more time.