It isn’t love at first sight, but it’s something like that. As cliche as it may be, from the moment she first sees him, Niku finds it hard to look away, and hard to forget him, and once he’s spoken to her, she’s so infatuated that there’s no hope left for her. That is what happens to her the day she meets Shuu Tsukiyama, and, as cliche as it may be, that is the day that changes her life forever.
Niku is a first year as Seinan Gakuin, attending with a scholarship. She is nineteen, and the year has just barely begun. It’s morning, the first time she sees him, when she is walking out of an early class with Kaori, a new friend she’s made on campus. The two are discussing the lecture when she happens to look up and accidentally make eye contact with a man across the sidewalk that she and Kaori were about to step onto.
The only word she can think of to describe him is “beautiful,” and before she knows it, she’s staring at him, not thinking to break the accidental eye contact. He doesn’t break the eye contact either, and instead, gives her a warm smile that causes her face to heat up suddenly. Finally, Niku looks away, realizing that she’s been openly gawking at him, and, flustered, she starts to walk faster.
“Who was that?” asks Kaori, keeping pace with her. “Do you know him?”
“No,” she says, “I don’t.” She’s still blushing, and her heart is racing; her back is to him now, but she can still see him clearly in her mind.
“Well, you sure were pretty obvious about checking him out,” her friend observes. “He smiled at you, maybe you should go talk to him.”
“No! Definitely not, that would be weird!”
“Weirder than you staring at him like that?”
“Probably! The whole situation is too weird,” Niku whines, “and you know I have to get to my next class anyway.”
“You’re no fun,” Kaori replies. “You never know what could happen! Maybe it’s a chance encounter! Maybe it’ll end up being worth being a little late to class for.”
“Don’t be such a romantic. He’ll probably just think I’m creepy if I talk to him now.”
She knows that if she were to try to approach him, it would be a disaster. Still, through the rest of her morning classes, and even into the afternoon, she keeps thinking about him, which is probably only slightly less creepy than walking up to him to introduce herself after openly staring at him.
Niku has a short break during the afternoon, and, because the weather is nice, she sits on a bench outside while reading a book. All day, she’s tried her best to forget the beautiful man from the morning, telling herself that she can’t develop a crush on someone she’s only seen once and might never see again, but it’s difficult. Seriously, what’s he doing in school when he could be out making his fortune modeling? But, then, if he goes to this school, there’s a bigger chance that he’s already loaded, unless, by some chance, he’s a scholarship student as well.
She realizes that she’s been thinking about him again, instead of focusing on her book, and has read the same sentence over and over again while picturing him in her mind. Groaning, she tries again to push him out of her mind, and focus on her reading. She’s so distracted, thinking about the handsome stranger, and trying so hard to focus on the book that she doesn’t someone approaching her until someone standing in front of her speaks.
“Hello, I’m sorry to bother you,” a male voice says, and she looks up, freezing when she realizes who it is.
Was she thinking about it so much that she conjured him up? Standing in front of her is the same man from this morning, and though her memory of him hasn’t faded at all, he somehow manages to seem even more beautiful than she remembers. He’s tall and slender, with neat purple hair and warm eyes of a similar color, and facial features that suggest he might not be fully Japanese. Maybe one of his parents is American, or from Europe?
But she’s staring again, and completely frozen and not saying a word to him, and definitely not doing anything to make herself look any less creepy. “I…” she starts, but that doesn’t feel right. Nothing does, and she has no idea what to say to him.
“Is this seat taken?” he asks, not seeming to notice how shaken up she is, and he gestures to the empty spot on the bench next to her.
“No, y-you can…” Niku says, finally finding her voice, though she isn’t able to complete her sentence. He doesn’t seem to mind, and sits down next to her as she closes her book and puts it in her bag. Why on earth did he come to talk to her in the first place? He’s being friendly, so it doesn’t seem like he’s come to tell her off for staring at him, and she really didn’t do it for that long anyway, so what could it be? Or is it a coincidence, and he’s just looking for somewhere to sit, and not looking to talk to her at all?
But when he speaks, it turns out to not be either of those things. “This might seem weird,” he says, “but you seem incredibly familiar. Have we met before? I’m sorry if I’ve forgotten you.”
So he’s mistaken her for someone that he’s met in the past? She knows that they’ve never met before, because it’s not like she could forget someone like him, not after thinking about him all day after just seeing him once. Shaking her head, she says, “I don’t think we have. At least, if we have, then I’ve forgotten you too.” She’s glad that she’s able to speak fairly clearly now.
“Well, I must say, if I don’t already know you, I’d definitely like to,” he says. “My name is Shuu Tsukiyama.”
He’d...like to? He’d definitely like to know her? Again, she wonders if she conjured him somehow, because she has a hard time believing that this man, this Tsukiyama, would actually say something like that to her, and as a means of introducing himself, no less. She’d scolded Kaori before, telling her not to be such a romantic, but the way he’s talking to her feels like something scripted for the movies. If she’s not dreaming, then she has no idea what’s going on.
“My name is Niku,” she replies, when she realizes, once again, that she’s taking too long to respond. “Niku Inoue.”
“What a lovely name,” he says, and he smiles at her again. “I hope I’m not keeping you from anything, Inoue.”
Her break is almost over; if she doesn’t leave soon, she’ll definitely be late. Kaori’s words ring in her mind: Maybe it’ll end up being worth being a little late to class for. Could it possibly be worth missing class for? Niku is sure that she shouldn’t, but before she can talk herself out of it, she finds herself saying, “Not at all, I was just reading to pass the time.”
Tsukiyama’s smile grows, and she feels like her heart stops.
Yeah , she thinks, it’s definitely worth it.
She misses her last two classes of the day, talking with Tsukiyama, and doesn’t regret it one bit. He asks her about the book she was reading, which leads to the two of them comparing favorites and discussing authors that they have in common, and exchanging recommendations. They talk about school and life, and while she explains to him the circumstances of her scholarship, he tells her a little bit about his family’s business. As expected, he’s completely loaded, and Niku knows she should feel out of her depth.
And she would have, before, but after talking for over an hour about books, she doesn’t feel nearly as daunted by his wealth, and even his breathtaking good looks are a little bit easier to breathe around. It definitely seems too good to be true, that this unbelievably attractive man- who is just a few years older than her- took an immediate interest in her, approached her on his own, and turned out to have so much in common with her.
Finally, Tsukiyama looks at his watch and says, “Has it really been that long already? Well, I certainly took up the better portion of your afternoon, didn’t I?”
“It’s fine!” she quickly replies, not intending to tell him how much class she missed just to talk with him. “I had a good time talking to you.”
“I really need to be going, but…” He pauses for a moment, looking thoughtful, before he gives her a sheepish smile. “I suppose now is the best time to confess I’ve never met you before, and I already knew that. It just seemed like a good way to approach you and break the ice.”
She blushes at his words as she realizes the implication behind them. He wanted to talk to her just as much as she wanted to talk to him? And he couldn’t figure out a good way to go about that, until he made something up? Niku can’t understand how someone like Tsukiyama could struggle to find a way to talk to someone like her, but she understands the next thing he says even less.
“I never would have been able to forget meeting someone as beautiful as you before.”
What is he saying ?!
“Miss Inoue, I know this is incredibly forward even though we’ve only just met, but I’d love to spend time talking like this again,” he continues, undaunted by her inability to form a coherent sentence. “Perhaps on a date? If not, a conversation as friends would be just as fun, but I hope you’ll at least consider.”
“I-I’d love to!” She agrees, afraid that if she takes too long to figure out how to speak, that he’ll retract his offer. Was this really the sort of chance encounter that Kaori had semi-joked about before? Tsukiyama seems genuinely interested in going on a date with her, and though she can’t for the life of her imagine why, she is not going to let that opportunity pass her by.
“Lovely,” he says, giving her that same warm smile that’s made her heart feel like it’s twisting in her chest several times this afternoon. They exchange numbers and he tells her a time to meet over the weekend, and a location that he thinks she’ll enjoy, and then he’s gone, and Niku is left to wonder just how lucky she really is.
Lately, Shuu isn’t as fond of live feeding, when there are so many ways to prepare dishes, but he still has curiosities that can’t be satisfied unless a live feeding takes place. It’s little more than a crude joke in the ghoul community, but he finds himself desperate to test it out all the same- the rumors about human girls tasting better after intercourse, that is.
Though the way it’s usually phrased is much more vulgar than that, and Shuu tends to avoid such classless circles, the idea sticks in his head so much that he really does wonder if an orgasm can affect the flavor so much. Naturally, it doesn’t have to be a woman; when it comes to meals and potential lovers, Shuu has always kept his tastes open, but it a woman that he finds when his curiosity reaches the point that he is finally ready to start scouting his test subject.
Normally, he would stay away from students at his university, unless they offered a particular quality that he couldn’t find anywhere else and he absolutely had to have them. As extravagant as he may be, he has to practice some subtlety, or, at the very least, keep his predation spread out enough that the doves can’t pinpoint his family or his school as figures of interest in their investigation.
Inoue is just so terribly convenient that he can’t resist, and he supposes that means she falls into the category of something that he can’t find anywhere else. Right after he had decided to look for someone to seduce, she had appeared before him, gawking at him so plainly that she might as well have been wearing a flashing sign that said she would fuck him. And, of course, he has to seduce her; even before their first date, he knows that he’s going to have to seduce her.
After all, if an orgasm can really improve flavor as much as some might claim, he decides that that’s all the more reason to go as far as he can with it. While he’s sure that she would be willing, if not on their first date, then on their second or third, he decides from the beginning that he’s going to wait for a little while. He’s going to court her properly, so to speak, and wait until the right moment to invite her to bed, take his time to make sure it’s the most pleasurable night it can be for her, and only then can he finally sink his teeth into her.
Really, it isn’t that he dislikes live feedings. No, the more he thinks about it, he decides that it’s just that it has to be special. Only the most special of his meals get the honor of being eaten raw, alive, and that only serves to make them all the more special.