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Questions: The Promise Arc, Part 1.

By seisuke

Humor / Romance

Chapter 1

Yzak Joule leaned against a column, sighing with boredom.  He was in a spacious gathering hall on Earth, attending a supposedly “benefit-ball” or whatever-it’s-called.  This is, as his mother called it, another “practice of peace”, where the Naturals and Coordinators can gather together and continue to understand one another.  Yzak snorted. It’s just another excuse for a party.  Whether a Natural or a Coordinator, humans never seem to lose their addiction to such nonsense. 

It has already been four years since the war between the Naturals and the Coordinators; and Yzak is a member of the High Council, so naturally, he was invited. 

Personally, he hated coming to these kinds of things.  But he had no choice--because, as his mother already told him, ‘A person of high position has obligations.’

Besides, compared to the wrath that his mother will bestow upon him…

Yzak shuddered at the thought.

So here he was, slowly killing himself with boredom, while the rich and powerful OLD men and women of both the Earth and the Plants danced the night away.  He was already hoping that that Athrun and his girlfriend Cagalli were here.  That’s how bored he was.  Fortunately for THEM, they had some urgent thing at Orb.

Yzak gave another yawn.  He had given up trying to stifle or even conceal it, with him yawning fifteen minutes after he had arrived, and every fifteen minutes afterwards.

“Oh, Minister Joule?” A voice broke his concentration from his boredom.  He looked down and saw a middle-aged plump lady.

“Yes?” He asked apprehensively. What could she possibly want?

“Oh forgive me. I’m Suzari Rosenberg.  I would just like to introduce you to my stepdaughter, Reinaria.”  She tugged at someone behind her.

Yzak hadn’t really been listening to her, to be honest.  But she finally caught his attention when she turned her back on him, and got into what looked like an argument with someone.  From what he could make out from their verbal sparring, the woman was forcing someone from ‘hiding’ to talk to him.  Yzak smirked.  The night was turning out to be interesting, at least.

He watched the scene for a few more minutes until, from the looks of things, the plump woman won.  Finally, a girl of about sixteen came out from behind her and stiffly stood beside the older woman.

“Well, I shall leave you two now.” The plump woman practically bounced out of sight. Yzak followed her movement with his eyes, looking bored again.

“I’m really sorry about this.” The girl spoke up.

He almost forgot about her. 

He returned his gaze back to her.  She had green eyes and raven hair, which was tied into, what could be a bun, maybe? He wasn’t really sure… But there were strips of her hair… How do women call it?

‘Tendrils…?’

Anyway, they were framing her face. 

He had to admit that she was acceptable in the physical appearance department.

She was wearing a simple dress… quite different from the others.  He had observed (He is a Coordinator after all) that most of them wore those weird dresses that looked like they would get ripped with one wrong move. Every form with the ‘-less’: strapless, backless…

Who knows…? It’s like there’s always something ‘missing’ in those dresses.

With the colors usually in those red or off-white, maybe even black…

But she is the only one in a dress that covered every inch of her self (save the head).

She is also the only one who was wearing a dress that is in a dark shade of green.

Maybe to complement her eyes?

Well, he had to admit the dress looked good on her.

It made her look… What’s the right word?

‘…Refined…? Classic? Proper?’ Yzak enumerated in his head.

He bent his head a little to further observe her.

She was only up to his shoulders.  He saw her sigh and then look at him apologetically.

“I think me Ma is hoping we’d hit it off or something like that.” She blew air from her mouth, making her bangs fly.

Yzak raised an eyebrow.  He didn’t expect that type of action to come from her.

‘So much for being refined… or proper.’

She sensed him looking at her, and smiled. “With that bewildered look on your face, I bet you’re thinking ‘hey, that’s not how a lady speaks and acts,’ aren’t you?”

“Huh?”

She gave a loud, hearty laugh that made those nearby give them a mixture of stares ranging from shock to curiosity to disapproval. “Oh don’t look so shocked! Oh well… I guess I must not be acting ‘accordingly’... I don’t want to embarrass me Ma and Pa.”

She extended her hand. “Well, it’s been nice to meet you. But don’t worry I’m not going to stick around. You look like you’re having the time of your life standing here…” She chuckled. “…I also need to get back on my reading. If you could point me to a really quiet spot, I’ll leave you alone. Don’t worry. I’ll give you an excuse so that me Ma would leave you alone.”

‘What’s with the expression ‘me Ma’? What is that? Why not just say ‘my mom’? What, did she get blasted from the past?’ Yzak wondered.

Weird.

But she’s one spirited girl, that’s for sure.

She frowned and put down her hand when he didn’t move. “Oh okay. I guess you’re not familiar with this place either?” She sighed. “Well, it was nice to meet you, Minister Joule.”

She turned around, looked both ways, probably checking if her ‘Ma’ might see her, and then quickly ducked past him and towards the edge of the ballroom.

“Hey wait!” Yzak followed her.  He saw her open a glass door leading to a vast garden. She wasn’t paying attention and accidentally hit him flat on the face while closing the door.  He was about to take the door handle so at least the door didn’t break his nose.

“Ow!”

“Huh? Oh! Minister Joule! I’m so sorry. I didn’t know that you were there.” She looked sheepishly at him as she opened the door again.

He was seeing stars.

Coupled with multiple dark-haired, green-eyed girls.

“Watch what you’re doing!” He snapped.

He expected her to apologize.  Instead, she snorted and stared straight at him. “Well, excuuuse meeee, Yee’re Hiiiighnesssss.” She retorted.

He stood there, stupefied. ‘What’s with the attitude?’ He wondered, rubbing his forehead.  He could feel a lump forming.

“Oh great.” He muttered. Just what he needed.

Glancing up at him and his newly-formed lump, she looked at him apologetically. “I’m sorry. I should have been more careful.”

She removed his hand from his head and inspected it. Yzak became uncomfortable at their sudden proximity. Not to mention that she is still holding his hand.  He doesn’t really like to be touched, but this girl is just holding his hand like it is the most natural thing in the world.

Finally, after some excruciating moments, she let go. She then took a step back, sighed and looked straight at him.  “You’re not that tall, but with that position, your nose is blocking my view. I can’t inspect it well. Come with me.” She extended her hand.

Yzak felt his cheeks flush.  “What do you mean MY NOSE is blocking your view?” He asked indignantly.

“It means that with the way you’re carrying yourself...” She replied while pointing at her head. “You’re nose-” She inclined her head upwards and pointed several times at her nose. “-is blocking my view of your forehead.” She started walking away. “Let’s go over there.”

Yzak followed her. Wondering the whole time WHY he was.

It’s a mystery.

She stopped at a stone bench and tapped at it. “Sit here.”

Yzak didn’t move. ‘Why do I have to sit down?’

“What’s wrong? You lost your capacity for comprehension…? Oh yeah, I was supposed to check for concussion first, right?”

She was blabbering away.

He was starting to have a migraine.

“What’s you’re name?”

“Huh?” Yzak muttered. “You already know my name.”

Her eye twitched. “I’m checking for concussion. Did I hit you that hard…?”

“My name is Yzak Joule, young lady.” He straightened his shoulders. “And I don’t appreciate your tone with me.”

She simply snorted. Why can’t he intimidate her?

“Hmmph. You don’t scare me. We’re only the same age. Just let me see your forehead! It’s not too much to ask, is it?”

Yzak narrowed his eyes, but before he was able to protest, she poked him at the side of his stomach--making him lose his stance, pushed him toward the bench and finally got him to sit down to check his forehead.

‘What just happened…?’ Yzak thought, stupefied to have been outmaneuvered by a girl.

“Don’t worry. I think you’ll live.” She straightened up and smiled at him.  She clapped her hands.  “Oh wait! I know!”

She bent lower and blew softly on the lump on his forehead. Before he was even able to react, she has already straightened up and was looking at him.

“There. My Mum used to do that.” Her gaze softened. “I hope it made you feel a little better.”

Yzak felt his blood rushing to his face. “W-who will feel better because of THAT?”

His comment made one of the corners of her mouth to turn upwards.

“I guess we got off on the wrong foot. I’m sorry.” She sat down next to him. “You live in the Plants, right? Do the Plants also emit light like the stars?"

He stared at her. “What do you mean?”

“I mean, looking up at the night sky, right now, could one of those lights be from the Plants?”

“Now why would you ask something as stupid like that?” He replied irritably.

“Just curious.” She glanced at him. “I’m sorry. It’s just that I’ve never really gone to outer space.”

Yzak snorted. “In this day and age? Are you for real?”

“Yeah. I’ve lived all my life on Earth. I’m not complaining. I like it here. To be born and to die on the same Earth… I think it’s something…”

“Hmph. It’s nothing special.”

“Maybe.” She replied, still looking up at the night sky. Yzak couldn’t help but follow her example. She just had that ridiculously satisfied look on her face he couldn’t help but just see what she’s so happy about.

‘What’s she looking at anyway…?’ He thought as he gazed up at the sky.

It’s just the stars. What’s so special about them?

This is a waste of time.

“Hey.”

“Huh?” She looked like she just came out of a trance. “What is it…?”

“What are you doing?”

“What am I doing…? I’m…uh…heh…it’s a secret.”

“What does that mean?”

She suppressed a laugh. “That’s right. It’s a secret. Sorry…”

“Hmph… You don’t sound too sorry to me.”

“Don’t be like that~.” She replied in sing-song voice.

“What’s with the smile?”

“Heh. I’m just… amused.”

“With what?”

“Many things.” She replied cryptically.

Yzak sighed.  It’s impossible to have a normal conversation with this girl.

“Ooops. I almost forgot…” She muttered as she stood up and faced him.

“I’m really sorry for the trouble. I guess I should be going now. You probably need to get back inside anyway.” She bowed low and walked away.

“Hey, where are you going?” Yzak called out.  He stood up and went after her.

“Nowhere special. I just want to get away from that place and read.” She held up a book for him and grinned. “It’s a book on short stories! I’m so excited!”

‘Where did that book come from…?’

“Just what are you so excited about?”

“Well, I just finished reading the short story ‘The Lottery’ by Shirley Jackson. Have you read it? It’s really good.”

“No, I haven’t.”

“Heh. You’ve missed half of you’re life. It’s about this lottery that is held in a town, but instead of being happy about it, the villagers don’t want to be picked.”

“Why not?”

She grinned. “Because they will be stoned if they’re picked.”

Yzak’s mouth hung open. “Then why are you smiling?”

She just gave him a mischievous smirk.

“Aren’t you being just a little bit too morbid?”

“There’s another short story by Edgar Allan Poe. I’m reading it right now. ‘The Tell-Tale Heart’. Do you know of it?”

“I don’t want to know...”

“Hm? Why not?”

“Your preference of stories is too...”

“Okay, okay… Don’t get too worked up if you’re creeped out.”

They continued down the path that eventually led to a gazebo. 

“I’m not creeped out!”

“Hm… You’re lying.”

“I’m not!”

“Oh really? Then read it.” She dared.

“I just didn’t like the outcome of ‘The Lottery’.” He replied defensively.

“For someone who was in the war before, you’re certainly… different from what I expected.” She said as she sat down.

“You’re not exactly hitting the jackpot here, lady!” He retorted as he sat down beside her and glared at her. She tried to glare back but then sighed and waved her book at him.

“Don't be so judgmental! Look...” She stood up and waved her arms, like she’s a teacher and he’s the student. “Isn’t it interesting? I mean, usually, lotteries make you think of good things, not bad! But in this story, it is the lottery that decides on a person’s life. Doesn’t that make you wonder? Don’t you think life is like the lottery, too?”

“Don’t be stupid! You speak of life as if it’s based on chance.  WE make OUR OWN destinies.”

“Hm, well, maybe destiny itself can be compared to a lottery?”

“Why would you even think that?”

She stood with her back towards him. She’d already stopped from animatedly waving her arms and looked like she’s deep in thought.  After a few moments of silence, she replied. “Does fate or destiny always turn out nice? Don’t we all have this tendency to wonder, ‘why of all people, am I dealt with this kind of fate?’  Maybe chance and fate are connected too.”  She faced him. “Am I wrong?”

He sighed. “Of course you’re wrong.” He snapped.

With that reply she looked straight into his eyes.  “Do you really believe that?”

It’s like they were on a staring match.  Yzak could feel his eyes watering but he didn’t dare blink.  He will not lose to this girl! 

But she just stared calmly back at him, making him increasingly agitated as the time passed.

Maybe he’s at a disadvantage.  He could already feel the strain in his eyes.  

Yzak almost jumped for joy (but of course he’s too proud to) when she finally looked away from him. But he saw a hint of a smile.

Did she just let him win? 

No way.

“Ah! What have I been blabbering about now?” She laughed out loud and sat down. “I’m sorry! I tend to babble nonsense sometimes!”

She took her book back from him and opened it. “Thank you for taking the time to walk with me. If you want to return to the party, I’ll be fine here.”

“What? You mean with those old people? No thanks. I think I’ll stay here.” Yzak cleared his throat.  “…That is, if you don’t mind.”

She glanced at him and smiled. “No, not really. I don’t mind.  So do you want to read with me?”

“Just no morbid stuff.”

“It’s not morbid.”

“Yeah right.”

She laughed. “You’re funny, Minister Joule.”

“What’s with the formality? Just call me Yzak.”

“Oh okay.”

“So...”

She raised her eyebrows. “So…?”

“What can I call you?” He phrased carefully.

The truth is, he couldn’t remember her name.

To be more accurate, he wasn’t really listening at the time.

“You can call me Midori. Me Ma told you already.”

“Oh, right.”

She burst out laughing. “I got you!”

Yzak looked at her with wide eyes. ‘Uh-oh.’

Wait.

He mustn’t let her know that he couldn’t remember!

He quickly changed his expression into an innocent, but dignified, mixed with a confused and blank, look.

“Just what are you talking about?”

She chuckled. “I knew you weren’t listening when me Ma told you my name.”

“I WAS.” He was quickly losing his cool.

She raised her eyebrows. “Oh really?”

“Oh just tell me your name already! Or else I’ll call you ‘old lady’.”

“So what? You’re the one who would sound ridiculous.”

Yzak turned red with anger.

“Just like a kid. If you can’t control your anger, how can you be in the High Council?” She teased. “Oh alright! I’ll give you a break this time. My name is Reinaria Rosenberg. You can just call me Rei.”

“Where did ‘Midori’ come from?”

“C’mon. Let’s just start reading!” She slapped his back, marking the end of that conversation.

Start writing here ...

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