She seems so fragile; looking at him as though he’s a sharp knife, apologizing again and again for something she hasn’t done. Vanitas has never in his life met someone more blameless and innocent, and yet she can’t stop thinking that she’s caused him an inconvenience. It’s odd, really.
"I live here," he says simply. They head down the block, where Vanitas knows he has one of his cars stashed in another alley. He has cars everywhere, just in case, and because he can get them from whomever he wants. "I guess you could say I control a lot of the area. So you don’t have to worry about anyone hurting you."
He can’t control everyone, but he can certainly try, and he does his best.
"You’re from the country, right?" He can tell. The way she dresses, her accent. It’s all tell-tale of someone who hasn’t ever had to deal with the inner city. "I know my way, sort of. You’ll have to direct me."
Shouldn’t be an issue if she wants to get home.
”In alleyways like this?” Hardly recognizing the voice as her own, she finds it difficult to discern what’s what when getting caught up amidst crooked thoughts that leave the blonde looking quite like an anomaly. Before him, she stands simply and with complication - a contradiction with silken hair and glass eyes.
A break between words; done merely to clarify for the other. "I meant…" Before any further slip-ups, they’re already heading down the block and it’s no question that she’s struggling to keep up. Endurance has never been her strong suit, but Naminé steadies her breath and takes longer, easy strides. "Oh. It must have taken a lot of work to come into a place like this one."
It’s a compliment, connotation notwithstanding.
”Paralia, yes. I work at a flower shop there. It’s why I was making a delivery here. Everything was running late today, so…” Lower lip falling behind her top row of teeth, she nods accordingly. "Of course!" She knows the way back from a certain point, anyways.
So she wonders, if only for a second, what it is that separates her from the types he held off.
He doesn’t know why she’s so embarrassed. Helping her hasn’t exactly ruined his day; in fact he feels a lot better knowing those idiots didn’t get a chance to hurt someone on his territory without permission. What this girl deserves is a good payment for those flowers and a safe trip home.
But the trains have stopped running by now. Does she expect to bike all the way back herself?
Vanitas bites his lip as he listens to her stutter, and holds out his hand. ”Don’t worry about it. C’mon, I’ll drive you home.”
He’s a gentleman when it comes down to it; or when it comes to innocent girls, wandering the streets by themselves.
"It’s not safe here, anyway," he says quietly. Even now, he can practically taste the lurkers’ intentions through the shadows around them. "They won’t mess with you when I’m here."
His hand isn’t just an offer— it’s an anomaly that she hardly expects. With that said, the girl doesn’t leave her home with an answer to scenarios like this one. Not that anyone else does, it’s just… The bouquet is in disarray, hardly salvageable and her brows crease at the comprehension of that fact.
Even so, she finds a way to keep everyone away from the blame. ‘It’ll be alright’. Right?
”I mean, you’re really going out of your way, I don’t feel right just…” Intruding? What exactly is more rude? Declining such a kind opportunity or leaving him out of the trouble overall?
A beat of reluctance leaves them at an impasse, but the blonde comes to terms with heeding his warning and takes him up on it. "I’m really sorry, again. Really." Two steps closer and she’s starting to discern his features - he looks a few years older than herself, tougher, stronger… capable. Altogether, she’s not surprised that the others left while they still had the chance. But where does that place her?
”Would it be okay if I asked if you spent a lot of time around here?”
For all expected hesitations, physical or otherwise, Joshua compensated in an aweless manner of taking responsibility. Whether it be through an easing of pace or a knowing smile, he began to make the most of their simple dance and conversation.
"I’m flattered," he hummed, having enjoyed the process of her eventual understanding. The confidence that ran through her tone for just a moment was more than welcomed, and he basked in her own capability with an inviting demeanor.
A certain degree of trust was necessary for even casual confessions to progress however, and it’s for this reason that he listened carefully to her honest response to gauge where their level might stand. Her questions, albeit rhetorical, strike him as interesting— not unlike ones he would have returned to her. For all his pretension, he’d rather have her speak than explain himself, even in manageable chat.
Which was why he found her gratitude for such a painless inquiry peculiarly charming. It’s his pleasure, of course, but the sentiment remained unvoiced, lest it came out mischievously.
"Oh? Where would you start?" His tone is considerably more tranquil, thoughtful as he remarked on her last few comments. Obvious likes and… not-so-obvious likes; what a choice of categories. Learning quickly was more of a skill as he saw it, but, once more, commenting such was refrained. There was joy to be had in it regardless, and it’s not his place to skew interpretations— at least, when he hadn’t any particular need to.
"… No, I didn’t." He skips over the implied matter of his other, assured interests, instead handling the last of her inquiries. Seconds of silence pass before the words to appropriately fill them are found. "I’m here because I want to be, really."
Crowds drew curious people and curiouser events— and viceversa. For reasons he couldn’t yet clarify, he felt the need to oversee them as part of an unsourced obligation. While playing the part of an instructor had been a chance to elongate a resume for his undefined future, he couldn’t very well admit the former.
In any case, his plan was to lead the subject back to her, always. If nothing else, Joshua was tenacious for examining others before himself. ”You’re here to learn quickly, I take it?” His teasings are less discernible now, but hints are still left in his expression. Her company had been far more satisfying than those of countless before her, so he wasn’t exactly out to rid himself of it.
With the end of the song, his hands drop slowly out of hers, one fitted against his waist as the other removed the mask that now irritated. Usually, he’d have lead her for another round, perhaps with the attempt of more complicated steps, but first, a small adventure.
"Have you been to the balcony, by any chance?"
It’s no surprise that she’s gone off on a bit of a tangent— no matter how small, the blonde nearly always finds herself amidst one of them. Certain topics of conversation merely sway her in several different directions and keeping track is occasionally harder than what one might expect.
With that said, she’s not sure if luck or courtesy is what keeps the taller male from deterring her vocal train of thought. In her mind, at the very least, it would be no less than a favor if he warned her of any bothersome rambling before it continued.
Rhetorics make her dizzy, but they can be pleasant just the same. "I suppose that’s the question, isn’t it? Because specifics can be intrusive, but… With such a big scope, it’s even harder to guess." Perhaps they’re going somewhere with this— perhaps she’s making a total of no sense at all. Either way, it’s more than suitable conversation and her interest is piqued, if not more than that.
Here because he wants to be? "Well… Not everything has an answer." Nor does he owe her one, if there is something tightly sealed behind each lip.
Simplicity makes up the contents of her smile in return, head bobbing slowly as several attempts of an explanation make her head start to swim. They speak behind these eccentric masks with purposeful ambiguity, sure, but sharing this kind of minute knowledge feels justified. As far as she’s concerned, the facts that her skin isn’t crawling nor is her face burning with chagrin are perfectly acceptable signs attributing to comfort.
”I’m just… here,” just so happens to be the meager divulgence of truth she provides him with. "But you’re right about learning quickly. I’m not sure I’ll be able to keep up if the pace changes a third time!" Preferences included, that is.
By the time their contact comes to an end, her hand immediately finds the elbow opposite to it. Really, it’s the connecting of a chain which simply lacks too much. The irony is that the closer she gets to herself, the stranger it feels. When he relieves himself of the mask tied over his features, the tiniest of sighs breaks the silence.
The strings are beginning to give her a headache, anyways. Off it goes, exposing lids that have just barely been brushed over with glitter and neutral shades of blue. "Not yet, though I was hoping to see the view…" She falters near the end, not wanting to sound expectant in the slightest. If he’d like to get along with the evening, that’s perfectly fine and she won’t hold him accountable for a thing.
Especially not wanting to find company that might keep him more amused. It’ll only take a moment to discover whether or not this is an offer, though her shoulders hike up a notch in response. Sparing a glance for the mask in gloved hands, Naminé tilts her head.
”I can’t tell if the question means that you have or you haven’t.”
FROM: MISTY ♒
txt: Alright. I’m gonna trust you NOT to open that journal up. I’m already down the street, so I shouldn’t be long.
Blue dress, huh? Stepping into through the library’s sliding automatic doors, Misty looked around. Man, what a hassle. She should really be more careful about this sort of stuff. Sighing out, the redhead made her way towards the marine biology books where she’d been doing homework before this whole incident.
Again, she scanned the place for anyone wearing a blue dress. It didn’t take to long to find her, the girl was just where Misty had been. Despite her eagerness to get her hands back on her own notebook, she approached the blonde as calm as possible.
"Hey, you have my notebook?"
There isn’t much that the blonde minds complying to— especially in helpful situations like these. Had someone else found the notebook currently pressed to her middle, there’s no telling what might have happened. It’s not as though everyone finds themselves respecting the privacy of others like Naminé does.
Curiosity isn’t such a bad thing, though. At least, she doesn’t think so - though her train of thought is interrupted by the voice of another girl. Misty, she presumes, before offering a gentle smile and handing the journal over.
”Yes! I’m sorry you misplaced it and all. I hope it’s still in tact— I didn’t touch anything!”
Green eyes scanning the text, she sighed out relieved. It was short lived, though, because soon she felt panic. What if they opened it up and started reading despite what they had promised?
FROM: MISTY ♒
txt: Yes that’s me! Thank god! I was there just a few minutes ago.
txt: I’ll be there in like, ten. DON’T open it!
[TXT] Okay! Well I'm glad to hear it! :) [/TXT]
[TXT] I'm in a blue dress. And don't worry, I won't! [/TXT]
Waiting isn’t anything near a bother, so she twines her fingers and takes a breath— at least this miniature crisis is short-lived. At this point, it shouldn’t be long before it’s all averted.
TO: ALL CONTACTS
FROM: MISTY ♒
txt: OK SO
txt: DID ANYONE HAPPEN FIND A NOTEBOOK LYING AROUND ANYWHERE
txt: I EITHER LEFT IT IN THE LIBRARY
txt: OR AT A COFFEE SHOP
There was a short break between the frantic messages as she debated whether or not to send the next piece of information.
txt: it may OR MAY NOT be my personal journal…
It’s not necessarily for certain, but the name on the booklet says ‘Misty’… so perhaps that’s enough to make a clean assumption?
[TXT] Oh, a notebook? Was it by the marine biology section of the library? I picked something up by there by accident! [/TXT]
[TXT] I haven't looked inside! And I won't - I just checked for a name is all! Is this Misty by any chance? uvu; [/TXT]
Her laughter fell in pieces and he noted it, an amusement arising far more than any petty offense could. Their encounters had been, as he recalled them, fleeting as they were serene. He had no qualms should the truth be that he was but another stop on the other’s path, having purposefully never instigated any situation that might have rendered him someone worth remembering. Where he could behave so that others remained predictable, he would.
Shyness was witnessed with nothing less than an unfaltering gaze, what couldn’t be seen behind masks felt in both the obvious and subtle differences of movement. Initial stiffness gradually fading as patterns were established by memory, his smile placed for the sake of formalities easily lifted into a more humble state.
Minutes later, he’s given the opportunity to sample her progress. An unveiling of crystal hues provides a medium so that he might understand where she intends to take this dance but falls short in the same fashion as her gaze. Prioritized was the concentration digging into her heels— understandably so— and while he was fortunate to have a partner so determined to succeed, he couldn’t help but chuckle at how fitting her bashfulness blended into her neck turned downwards.
"Hmm." Easy, she agreed, but he wonders. “Where I learned?”
A harmless question. Whether it was an honest curiosity of hers or a simple conversation starter to follow between melodies, there was no reason not to humor it.
"I’m self-taught." The corner of his lips budges just a tad, a precursor to inevitable teasing. "Is it not to your liking?" Practically awaiting a stutter, he paused deliberately before resisting another chuckle.
"Well, either way, I’m afraid my interest isn’t so much in the dance as much as it is in the music that accompanies it." Indeed, he cared more for the songs that moved spirits than the motions used to celebrate them— even if both were admittedly fascinating in their own aspect. Even someone with poor aesthetic values could admire the skill of past geniuses. A fan of the classics, if you will.
"And what do you like, Naminé?” Appearing at popular parties was not truly the hobby of those who attended, but taking the opportunity to learn a dance in a place of extravagance surely implied something.
"Flowers, I assume?" It was a shame such basic passions were lost on him, instead believing she might give care only because she related to such a fragile existence.
Self-taught? It must be nice, she thinks, to pick something up so quickly and without hesitation. Or faltering, though it’s not as if all of the details have been revealed to the shorter blonde. The more she drifts through the recesses of her mind, the easier it is to follow each note and passing beat of the music rather than stress over missing them. Of course, noticing that only leads her back to worrying over stumbling over the latter.
”That must have been—” Not to her liking? Concerned that she’s given off something that led him to such a conclusion, weight topples onto her shoulders and keeping up feels like more of a chore. Soon enough, though, she catches the indications of a stifling smile and feels ridiculous for not having understood already.
A breath settles her stomach, mind finally ceasing the endless swirls that could make even a sailor nauseous. "No, you’re very proficient! But…" When she does get the chance to speak up, a minor pang of confidence trails toward a mimicking act. "As far as what I think goes, you knew that." She says it matter-of-factly, because this just doesn’t happen often. For a fraction of a second, Naminé comes to assume that it must be the atmosphere he exudes.
Though the presence of others is something she often surrounds herself with, conversations like this one are rarely dispersed for reasons unbeknownst to even her.
Genuinely, it’s never about keeping her interest— as everyone can, no doubt about it— there’s not a soul that she doesn’t think is worth paying attention to. "I like it as well. Though… just how many people are drawn in by the sounds instead of everyone here? And what they have to offer?" Tone quiet as she trails off, it only takes a moment before her own optics catch his.
”Thank you for asking,” comes the initial statement— before any actual confessions, as she’s somewhat taken aback. "Yes, I do! There are just so many answers to a question like that. Why start with such a wide range?"
By now, it’s clear that she’s a better listener than speaker. "Surely there are things you like other than music— and there are less obvious things I like, too. Like… learning quickly. Maybe that’s a dead giveaway, but it’s just as nice." The extent to which she’ll worry about boring someone is impossible to fathom, so she’s back to easing into each and every step. "Did you only come for the music?"