A Pragmatic Proposal
"You're not a likable man, Kaiba."
Her one-step forward... led her two-step back. Such was the will of fate. She had come to Domino Pier for some soul-searching. Surprisingly, she found him.
"You're not even my friend."
His mouth twitched at her obviousness. Twenty one years old, and Téa was still lighting the shinning beacon of friendship. 'Grow up, Gardner.'
"Friends demand time. I have no time." Seto gave her the truth. "None that I'm willing to spare for your useless pursuits of..."
"...Friendship? I know."
Black slacks, black shirt, white trench coat. Everything about him was in black and white. Confident, composed, with cold resolve, he looked good in his skin. Except for the diamond-hard azures focused on her, fixing her to the ground. His eyes looked stormier than the gray skies. They've been at this ridiculous argument for half an hour now. His sudden question, upon her arrival at the pier, had shocked her. His choice was clear. Hers not.
Seto wore a dark expression. He looked intimidating, towering over her. His patience running thin. She had stalled him long enough. He needed an answer. And he needed one now.
Fear urged her to run. Loneliness urged her to stay. In the end, her loneliness won.
"We're two very different people, Seto. And I don't love you..."
He knew that. "Gardner, I don't seek the gift of friendship. Nor the gift of love, or being loved." Sensing her intrusion, he raised his hand to stop her and let him finish. "Hate, Pride, and Anger. These are my stronger passions. Be under no illusion, I'm not a nice man."
'And you'll never be a prince charming.'
As if reading her thoughts, he neared her. As tenderly as he could, he raised her chin and looked her straight in the eye. Cerulean were dull, dim, and depressed. His gaze softened. He despised her tears. He despised seeing her so vulnerable and defenseless. Wiping the tears off her face, he gently tucked a wayward tendril behind her ear.
"I know who I am, Téa."
The question is, do you?
Do you know who you are?
The unspoken truth remained heavy in the air between them.
Téa Gardner, the starry-eyed dreamer with a passion for dancing. An honorable member of the Gang. The self-proclaimed leader of the Amity Committee. Yuugi's best friend. Joey and Tristan's caretaker. The girl who saw life as an adventure and believed in living to its fullest. The constant source of inspiration for an underdog, and a bully's worst nightmare. She was Happiness, Faith, and Righteousness personified.
Though these days, she was also someone who saw Stars as distant luminous spheres of plasma, and not the wish-granting celestial objects. She learned that Fairy Godmother didn't make dreams come true. Because 'dreams' were just the tricks that the mind played in the sleep. And no matter how much one desired, 'happily ever after' was, and will always be, a far-fetched myth.
The truth was she was lonely beyond words. She was lonely and miserable and with absolutely no idea where she belonged.
Yugi had Rebecca. Joey had Mai. Tristan had Serenity. Duke had Manya, Anya, Tanya, Narnia, and Sanya and... Whatever... Bakura had Ishizu.
And Marik... Marik had had her for a while but it never felt right. And so now, he had Vivian Wong.
What did she have at the end of the day? Nothing.
Her mother had once said that 'Love' subtle than lust, had far more frustration than fulfillment. And despite these frustrations, love was its own reward.
Téa now thought it was an utter lot of tripe. Because though lust fulfilled her requirements, it didn't chase away her loneliness.
And love? Hm, love simply broke her. She was an emotional mess.
Seto had once saved her life at this very Pier from her lunatic ex-boyfriend. And then saved her more on their neck breaking adventures to different continents. Different realms. But that was all in the past. Atem was gone. And he took the millennium items with him. The world was in no imminent danger. And neither was she. Or was she? Secluded, isolated, lonely feelings were dangerous too.
"I know who I am, Téa." Seto didn't evade the truth. He never pretended to be someone he was not.
Arrogance, self-assurance, and fierce determination oozed through him. He was never about selflessness, love, lust, or fairy tales. And he was exactly what she needed to give her the stability. To balance her quirks. Because truth, like life, was stranger than fiction.
But why did he need her? When he could have anyone in the world. What could he possibly get from marrying her?
"What do you seek from me, Seto?" In truth, she was asking- What do you see in me, Seto?
Emotions raced through his cool composure. Too swift for her to follow. He saw commitment, participation, intervention, confrontation, engagement, connection, implication, comprehension, interest, enthusiasm, concern, curiosity, and intimacy in her.
In short. He seek.
And it was all that she needed to chase her loneliness away.