Chapter 2: Illusionary Rain ~Gensou no Ame~
Arthur had been burnt before, and in multiple incidences. There were the numerous times where concentrating on either the floor or table had caused the bowl of noodles he was holding to tip a tad bit, causing scalding broth to burn through his fingertips. There was the one time where he was so fixated at the baked Sheppard's Pie in the oven that he forgot momentarily his exposed forearm was leaning against the interior of the oven door. There was also the one time long ago where he had received burnt marks from an incident he could not remember.
"At least it wasn't that bad." Arthur muttered softly, staring at the reddened skin of his forearms. Whatever the girl was afflicted with, it was one hell of a fever. It was a penetrating form of heat that even his deadened sense to heat could not ignore. It was painful to endure, even if he only spent thirty seconds or so carrying her from the pouring rain to the couch. Still, the burning was not enough to cause boils on his skin, which was one good thing in the end. The other good thing was that the girl was still breathing. Alive but unconscious.
He should contact the hospital after all, but there was one problem - his employment contract - there must be no association with the police, public media, and federal government. It was understandable, given his contract was written by and for a private corporation.
During the months he worked at VitroGen and all the way up to now, there were times when Arthur questioned the oddities that existed within the company and with work policies implemented and enforced upon him. When he was employed, Arthur didn't go through a rigid and scrutinizing interview. All that was asked of was to abide to the rules; rules that were sketchy at best and questionable. Even the interview was something of sheer surprise:
"Son, we aren't asking you for much; in fact, we couldn't say no when it comes to a brilliant mind such as you. However, that does not mean we'll let you run wild in there. Order will be maintained at all cost, and as long as you follow the rules that govern this order, your job is guaranteed."
"You must have heard the recent news, haven't you? Not everyone accepts our goals and ideals – despite how much we have accomplished. Not to point at a specific culprit, but there are people out there that would love to get back at us. The bombing incident in one of our branch companies a week ago was only one of the many events that continued to stifle our attempt to improve this society as a whole."
"Therefore, it is in our best interest – and in yours – to keep your status low-key. Work at home – we'll provide you everything you need. It's also best not to draw attention from police or local law enforcements to avoid media interference. Be proud; it's not every day an opportunity to change the world for the better enter your hands; we are glad to have you on board."
Talk about inspirational speeches. Arthur had always wondered if the company was trying to recruit him instead of the other way around, and that he had literally a free ride with little strings attached – except, of course, to abide to these rules.
"So that was your plan? You carry some utter stranger from outside into your house, and then call one of the few friends you have, who also happened to be a current medical student?" The jeering voice from the other side of the Bluetooth receiver irritated Arthur, but it was an undeniable truth.
"... Sorry Andrew, it just kinda happened." Arthur replied in exasperation.
"Sigh, well at least it was a chick. I would have hanged up immediately if you told me you rescued some homeless guy off the street."
"Um, right. Well, I don't think she's one of them." Arthur rubbed his head, taking a quick glance at the prone figure before him. She was unconscious but looked as if stuck in nightmares; little pockets of steam rose from her flushed skin. Contrary to vagabonds who lived in complacent destitution, she looked more like someone that had went through hell and back, only to land on his doorstep.
"Mhmm. Well, I've got this exam I'm studying, so I'll make this quick and easy for you to understand. Since she's in a feverish state, and soaked in the rain, we can assume that she needs immediate treatment or else her fever would worsen. So here's what you're going to do, okay?" Knowing his friend to be a laid-back joker if he wanted to, Arthur waited quietly for the continuation with pen and paper in hand.
"Go on. I'm ready, so tell me what I need to do."
"You sure about that? Hmm, okay. First; take off all the wet clothes - and I mean all of them; you can dispose them if you like since you claimed them unusable. Second-" It took Arthur a few second to register what he had heard, but when it clicked he had only one thing to say.
"W-wha? Then she'll be naked!" He blurted out in reflex, only to hold his breath realizing how loud his voice was. Taking a quick glance at the girl, Arthur exhaled softly noting that her eyes were still closed and she did not show any sign of hearing his outburst.
"Dude, you're already in your twenties. I'm sure you've watched plenty of porn so who cares if you've seen one or two-"
"Shut the hell up. I don't watch any of those... indecent things." Arthur felt his head throb from incoming headache. He was not ready after all.
"Mhmm, sure you don't. In any case, I don't know if you're doing it out of self-satisfaction or something, but there's a reason, right?" At those words, Arthur felt his fists clench and unclench. Reason... was there one?
"So take whatever thoughts you have as a closet pervert and throw them out. You do want to help her, right?" Andrew's voice was serious in the end. Arthur understood too, that these trivial things meant nothing when trying to save someone. Still, there's gotta be a better way than this. He thought.
"Anyway, before I was rudely interrupted, the second thing you'll do is dry her body. This is meant to return her body to homeostasis and prevent her from catching a cold. I suggest rinsing a towel in warm or hot water to wipe her body, then place her in a warm blanket or two."
"Andrew, I understand the first part, but don't you normally use the hot water because the body's cold?" There was a problem with Andrew's advice.
"Not always, but go on."
"The problem, Andrew, is that her body's burning up - her whole body, not just her forehead. It's like her body was on fire."
"Well, from what you told me, she's definitely a catch. A redhead was it? Mind sending me a picture after you're done?"
"W-wait, what? What the hell are you trying to say? Now's not the time for pictures or whatever!" Arthur couldn't help but shout back. It was one thing to joke around to relieve tension, but this wasn't helping at all.
"Sorry, I felt like teasing ya since other than your sister, there's not a single girl in the last eight years of your life."
"... I'm hanging up. I'll do the rest alone."
"Oh stop being so stubborn. I'm just trying to say that I'm really surprised by your progress. I'd never thought that after all the months of neglect you came and called me up to brag about your new found joy - rescuing hot chicks off the sidewalk."
"H-hey, it's not like that damn it! Just because... argh, just help me, okay? It's hard enough being the only one seriously in trouble here." Arthur was annoyed. He understood that he was being stubborn and unsocial, and not in a position to demand things, but having a monochromatic social life didn't mean he did not deserve any form of help.
"Fine, fine, sorry dude. Hmm..." The receiver became quiet as silence fell into the room, and the only sounds to remain were the raindrops hammering the windows and the girl's raspy breaths. "Arthur, just do it anyway. I don't know what she may have from these symptoms, but the important thing is to dry her body, give her a comfortable place to rest on instead of your couch, and for details sake, use a cold towel if you want. I still can't believe you don't want to call an ambulance instead."
"Her symptoms sound serious, but it's not enough to warrant a visit to the hospital. Anyway, I know what I need to do, so I'll start preparing." Arthur had written down the things he needed to do. But he still felt as if something was amiss.
"Yup, it's good to hear from you since we've graduated. Do your best with the girl, okay? I'm sure she'll thank you for all you've done and who knows, maybe I've been right all along and you've finally broken out of your virgin shell. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity; don't mess up! Bye now!" When Arthur's friend hanged up, he wondered what was with that abnormally cheerful voice at the end, and that was when it struck him.
"HEY! What the hell do you mean virgin shell! And.. and... once in a life time?" Taking the Bluetooth earpiece off, and feeling a new wave of exhaustion, Arthur turned his full attention to the girl lying there. "Goddamn it. Am I suppose to do it all alone?" Of course. Arthur shrugged helplessly.
"Well, good luck to me..." He quickly prepared the materials needed - two bath towels, one cold towel, one basin filled with lukewarm water, and all the determination he could muster.
"Alright..." He stared at the unconscious girl. "I can do this- Aiee!" The girl unexpectedly shifted her body in her slumber, startling Arthur so much that he jumped backwards.
"Is she... really not waking up?" In some parts of his mind, the inexperienced Arthur was scared. He was afraid that she would wake up any moment, and upon seeing whatever he was trying to do, his life would forfeit... one way or another.
Still, who else would help her in this state if not for him? Wasn't that the reason he brought her in here in the first place? It was his responsibility to see it through to the end, no matter what excuses he could come up with.
"... Fine. Damn it all!" Shouting to the air, he took a moment to readjust his glasses and left to prepare for the worst.
Within a few minutes, Arthur had returned with a basin filled with lukewarm water and a small towel. He also brought two large bath towels because of the inevitable fact that after all this was over, he had to move the girl out of the living room.
"Forgive me..." Slowly, with hesitance that came from years of no real contact with girls, Arthur reached out with his trembling hands and pressed the back against her forehead - only to pull away in pain because of the white hot sensation of pressing against something boiling. Could a human body withstand such a high temperature? He was too nervous to care or stick a thermometer into the girl's mouth to check.
"Okay... next, her... pants or shirt... Argh... I can... see-" Not sure if it was a good or bad thing, never once did he realize that the rainwater had made it possible to see the pink skin beneath the soaked shirt. Panicking, Arthur abruptly snapped his eyes away.
"No no no no no don't think about it damn it! Whether I can see or not's not the problem here!" Doing his best to push out those unnecessary thoughts, Arthur realized once again that he was a guy, and a damned newbie. He also knew that what he must do was just ridiculous and beyond comprehension. In the end, Arthur wiped off sweat with one hand and removed his glasses, and while squinting his eyes, slowly removed the shirt from the unconscious body.
"Holy-!" Instantly Arthur found himself shutting his eyes. The girl was wearing nothing beneath the torn shirt. All he saw was a world of pale pink thanks to his glasses removal, but the sheer embarrassment of knowing what was there overwhelmed him like a tidal wave.
Twisting his eyes away from the girl, Arthur took a large gasp of air, realizing he had forgot to breathe. Sweat drops fell down his eyes and cheeks, and he was quite aware of the silent heat that permeated this living room. Instead, he took a moment to focus on the tattered shirt. It really was as damaged as he had thought; seemed like something that would happen if someone had taken a scissors and randomly snip at the shirt from every possible angle. If it were not soaked in rainwater and mud he could easily rip the shirt apart. Although one thing was for sure; the shirt was warm, no doubt from the unnatural heat rising from its owner. Tossing the rag aside, Arthur went back to facing the reality before him.
"Maybe I should just leave her pants on... hahah." Laughing nervously in an attempt to dissuade his body overridden in tension, Arthur shifted his body to the side, hoping to at least move away to take a well-needed break.
"...Stop!" But as luck would have it, he couldn't escape that easily.
Freezing at the girl's sudden outburst, Arthur also felt his heart stop. She's awake! The simple yet terrible possibility threatened to drown him in fear. Expecting something terrible in its wake, Arthur could only close his eyes. However, ten seconds had past and silence had returned. Another ten passed away before he unwound and exhaled in silent relief.
Focusing intensely on the girl's ripped jeans and not the exposed skin, Arthur wiped away his profuse sweat with the back of his hands. Unlike the shirt, which could be taken off with just positioning of the girl's arms upward, loosen the collar, and pulling off via the two sleeves, jeans were an entirely different matter. For one; they were tightly bound to her skin even without the existence of a belt. That meant either he unbutton and pull the pants off with firm grip and handling, or mess up and possibly doing something similar to coming too close in contact to the girl's flesh, and if the girl should wake up at that time...
Shaking his head wildly, Arthur despaired at the raging chaos filling his mind. If Andrew were here, he would have doubled in laughter... probably. If his sister was here, Arthur would probably be called a dozen names, scolded, and then she would volunteer to do it in his stead, even if she were in that state.
"Grr... even I have pride too! Do or die!" Pushing aside all other thoughts, if only for a brief moment, Arthur homed in on unbuckling the button and pulled down the zipper. As soon as it was done, he shut his eyes with all his might and pulled the pants as far away as possible. Although the girl did not deserve having her clothes pulled off by force like that, there was no other way. "Wha- no underwear either?" He was shocked; she was wearing only single layers in the middle of a downpour. Could she actually have a death wish?
"See no evil, speak no evil, hear no evil!" Blurting out pure nonsense, Arthur grabbed the nearest bath towel and threw it over the girl's naked body. For once in his life he was glad that without his glasses he could only see shapes and colors, and nothing more.
Taking a full minute to inhale and exhale, Arthur crossed his legs and sat on the wooden floor next to the couch. He had made sure that all the necessary parts of the girl's body were covered with the towel, but his heart beat was still raging within. For one, even if he could not see clearly, he could still tell that she had a beautiful figure. She appeared skinny, but more slender than malnourished. Her arms and legs were slender; her scarlet hair, even if wet, were still long and vivid in color. The girl's skin was unblemished, smooth with a soft pale luster. Even if the towel did hide most of her body, the unmistakable curves of the female body were there.
"A-ah, right, I'm not done yet." Arthur reminded himself of his duties, and the time he was wasting. Wiping away something from his chin, he realized only moments later that he had been drooling. Embarrassment and anger immediately washed over him at the same time, even though there was no one around.
Starting with her forehead, Arthur wiped away the sweat and residues from the rain with the prepared towel. Pushing her bangs aside to clean her face covered in trails of mud, Arthur could see her shut eyelids twitching, as if she was stuck within a dream. She had shouted the word Stop earlier; was she dreaming a nightmare? If only she would wake up soon, he thought.
From there on downwards, Arthur continued to devote to the process of wiping, cleaning, rinsing, and return with fresh supply of water. He was not sure if it was a part of the adaptability of human beings, but he was able to wipe and clean even the girl's most delicate and soft parts without as much pandemonium as before. He had kept it as light as possible on those areas so that the sensation would not overwhelm and destroy his senses, while firmly wiping away at her arms and legs. Still, the fact was that for the first time in his life, he was spending time with a girl for longer than five minutes. More so, he was trying to help her after stripping her naked and wiping her entire body top to bottom.
When he was finished - leaving some areas undisturbed because he could not advance any further for obvious reasons - Arthur wrapped both bath towels together around the girl and lifted her up from the couch. He could worry about the mess around him later. The important thing was to put her somewhere comfortable and hoping she would wake up.
"It'll have to be my room, of course..." Sighing, Arthur placed the precious cargo on his bed and covered her with a bed sheet and blankets. His room wouldn't be called the best place but it will have to do, including how stuffy it was since the rain prevented any hope of opening windows to ventilate.
Checking the girl's forehead again, Arthur's hand did not forcefully pull away due to the heat, unlike last time. When he had held her up, his arms felt hot, but not unbearable. Her fever seemed to be dying down at last. All that was left for her would be a good night's sleep, some food when she woke up, and a bath or shower.
"I'm sure she'll understand the situation when she wakes up... for now, dressing her is out of the question." Arthur couldn't imagine doing such a thing anyway. It had taken all of his willpower and sanity to remove her clothes and clean her. Doing any more would break him. So instead, he left a clean, warm rag on her forehead and left her to time.
Exiting his bedroom and closing the door behind him, Arthur returned to the living room - to the mess. Wearing his glasses again, he picked up the girl's excuses for clothing and examined them again. The shirt was covered in mud, filled with gashes here and there. He was surprised it lasted for so long. Once a typical navy jeans, its blue fabric long faded away with multiple holes large and small sticking here and there. Assessing the damages done to both jeans and shirt, Arthur could only come up with one possibility - the girl had gone through some dire situation beyond his comprehension.
"I wonder if it was the right choice," Sighing again, Arthur threw the clothes into a plastic garbage bag. "I mean, she's a complete stranger... Gah, the landlady will kill me for this." Large wet spots layered with dirt and sand laid exposed on the couch. Cleaning it would take forever, and even with all the proper chemicals he would have to come up with a good explanation afterwards. At least the floor was easy to clean up with just proper wiping.
"Should I have told Andrew after all?" Focusing his thoughts on the young woman sleeping in his room once more, Arthur could never cease with worry.
"Pattern resembles bullet wounds, cuts by sharp projectile, and heavy impact. Trails of blood located on left shoulder, right arm, neck, face, right flank, abdomen, both thighs, pressure marks against lower right back and right flank, but no signs of internal hemorrhage. Her ribs seemed intact, and no signs of broken bones or torn muscles visible." Even if he could not see clearly, Arthur could at least make out that much, since he did major in molecular biology in college and took the right classes. The blood were the only things he could not wipe away with water alone. The visuals were definitely alarming, but Arthur could not bring up these details to Andrew. He wondered if this was influenced by the contract of secrecy with his employer, VitroGen.
Regardless, Arthur had decided to deal with all the questions once the girl had woken up. For the moment, he had finished cleaning the floor, tossed the girl's clothing into the trash bin, and wiped away as much dirt from the couch. Retreating to the bathroom, he refilled the basin with fresh warm water and opened the door to his room, carefully balancing the basin with one hand.
Whereas Arthur had hoped that this time would be the last time he had to check someone's conditions as she laid there in his bed, two things were not right as he marched into the carpeted room. For one, the girl that was supposed to be in bed had disappeared, and one of the windows was wide open as the raging winds swept rainwater all over Arthur's office space – his laptops.
"Fucking Hell!" Reacting first to the precious tools essential to his job, Arthur raced toward the open window to close it, forgetting that he had yet to set the basin down and failing to realize that several of his textbooks were missing. The fact that the girl missing was far more important an issue than his laptops, but of course his mind did not see it coming, nor what was to come that instant.
WHAM! Arthur never saw the crashing textbooks as they unloaded all the fury mustered within two thousand pages of text. 99.99% of students would never ever finish reading these books but most would buy and keep them. His skull made a dull sound as the books struck hard, and as his body collapsed under the impact, Arthur relinquished his hold of the basin filled with water, while his own consciousness began to fade away. Who or whatever that swung the textbooks knew how to knock out an adult human. He couldn't even worry about the flying basin of apocalypse as it made a beautiful arc, streaming toward his precious electrical equipment. All he could see was darkness.
When Arthur had finally regained conscious, a world of sound, smell, and sight invaded his senses. His sensitive nose caught the scent of burnt carpet. The back of his head felt as if it had swelled a little; the pain of that impact a while back still lingered like a bee sting. His hazel eyes snapped open second, and the unkind world greeted him in return. The monolithic laptop, only six feet away on the desk, was covered in clear liquid, its screen completely dark, never to awake again. The extension cords and outlets nearby fizzed softly with sparks that could jump out at any moment and ignite the carpet around them. Meanwhile, volleys of rainwater continued to hail through the opened window. splattering ever recess of Arthur's poor office space with rainwater. As if that was not the worst, when Arthur tried to budge he could find no room for maneuvering. Only then did he realize that something else was awfully wrong.
"W-what is this? Why the hell am I tied up?" He was tied, with his arms behind his back, against his chair. His struggle a vain movement in the direction of nowhere.
"Hmm, that is certainly a good question, isn't it." Arthur froze. He felt a chill running through his entire body. This voice, he had only heard it perhaps an hour ago, but now with an intimidating aura.
Turning his head to the direction of the voice, Arthur saw that the girl his friend claimed to be a golden chance sitting on his bed with crossed legs. Although he shouldn't feel this way about someone who knocked him out and tied him up, Arthur was somewhat glad that she had found his clothes to be fitting.
Dressed in Arthur's favorite black T-shirt, with its catchy lines reading: "Stand Back, I am going to Try Science", the girl also wore matching black wind breakers for pants. It was... strange, to see a girl wearing a guy's clothes sitting so casually like that, especially since they were all at least one size too big.
"You're finally awake; I'm glad." Uncrossing her legs, the young woman left the bed and came standing before Arthur, not caring about the rain outside or the wind that invaded and swept everything in the room about.
"Why, when you've tied me up like this?" For the moment, Arthur could only stare at her with tension as he bit back regret.
"Precautions. I am glad because I did not intend to kill you. But, I don't want you to get the wrong idea, so I tied you up." Leaning closer, she sized him up and down with those viridian eyes.
"Well, unfortunately for you, I'm already past that." What the hell was with her way of thinking , Arthur thought.
"Mhmm... anyway, it's for the best since we are back on topic now that you're fully alert." The girl smiled; even Arthur could see that such a smile did not reach her eyes. Alarms rang through his head, but there was nothing he could do.
Almost immediately, before he could prepare himself at all or say anything, Arthur felt a hard impact to his chest. A split second after he saw only the ceiling, while gravity exploited the combined weight of him and the chair sending a shockwave through his body even as he tried to regain his breath. Even if the floor was carpeted, the impact was anything but pleasant. A few seconds later, Arthur was face to face with the perpetrator, seeing her in an upside down view as she knelt behind his head and leaned downward. Strands of her long hair fell down, draped against Arthur's forehead and hair, but words had stopped flowing out of his mouth to even voice a complaint as he struggled only to keep breathing.
"I hope that by now, in case you haven't already, you would have a better understanding of the situation you are in. If you understand, nod. If you still don't, clench your teeth, because it will hurt." Arthur had decided that she was crazy and scary after all.
Not wanting to know what will hurt, he immediately nodded in a frantic motion. His heart was crying out over the destruction of his work space, but even a sheltered guy like Arthur could understand when nothing was more important than one's life.
Arthur could not understand the strange person interrogating him. For a person that had only recovered from fever, and in that such a state, she was quite active. She was not particularly tall, or appeared very intimidating beyond her completely mysterious air. So why was it that he felt it absolutely necessary to obey all of her demands, not daring to speak, and even feel the fear of having his life in her mercy? Goddamn it Arthur; you just had to help her because she was mysterious and attractive.
"Good. Now, you will unconditionally answer my questions - I expect not a single lie - if you want to stay alive of course. Nod if you understand; if you don't-" Before she could finish, Arthur nodded. "Mhmm. Now, answer the questions I will ask you. Nod if it's true, and shake if it's false."
Rather than threatening him for money or whatever, Arthur was puzzled as to why the girl chose to give him a quiz. Still, even with blood rushing into his head and having difficulty breathing and concentrating, Arthur waited in silence.
"First question. After I lost consciousness, you brought me into this place, correct?" Arthur nodded in silence. The girl nodded to herself, as if confirming her expectation.
"Second question. Was I unconscious for a long time?" He nodded once again to her question.
"Hmm, third then. After bringing me here, you stripped me of my clothes, and raped me, correct?" Arthur's eyes widened in shock. What the hell did she just say?
For the first time in his life he was shaking his head left and right to the point of dizziness. How the hell could she speak about such a subject so nonchalantly? For most women, regardless of age, any violence of that sort would have been a touchy topic. Even he would find it something hard to think about, let alone discussing it. Arthur opened his mouth to object, but she had already left him behind.
"So... you were not the one that stripped my clothes, nor had your way with me? Then- there's someone else!" As if Arthur's previous reaction had set off some deranged conclusion, the girl clasped her hands together as if reaching a decision. She then rose and left the room in mere seconds, leaving him flabbergasted, and still tied to the chair seeing nothing but the ceiling.
"How the hell did she draw such a conclusion?" Arthur felt exhausted as his ears picked up the clatter of footsteps running about in the house. He assumed she was searching for the 'second member of the party' while there was none.
"Her logic is beyond me..." he could only come to that conclusion as he took the opportunity to attempt freeing himself. Unfortunately, the struggle only caused the binds to tighten, and increased the pressure and pain on his arms.
When she came back, the girl fell back onto the soft carpet near Arthur's head, gasping for breath and panting as if she had run the marathon. Once again, her serious face came into view despite apparent exhaustion, with her green eyes stabbing daggers at him. He could already imagine what she might say next to him.
"You lied to me. There's no one here except you; either that or they are deaf and have no involvement. Since you lied, I will have to punish you." Arthur could see through the edge of his glasses that she was preparing to unload a punch on him, and his heart sank.
"But, I'm not going to do that," Arthur exhaled in small relief. "Because I might not hold back and end up killing you. So..." Drawing back her long bangs, the girl drew closer to his face with a wry grin. Looking into her narrowed eyes, Arthur suddenly felt as if he had become a frog and was staring face-to-face with a snake.
"You are going to tell me, in great detail, everything that has happened after I fainted. If I judge you to lie to me even once, you'll be facing something worse than death, got it?" Arthur shrank at the girl's cool voice. Unfortunately, there were no clear alternatives. People often said that there was a choice for everything, but they also omitted the part that many of these choices could in fact lead to bad ends.
"Sure thing..." At this point, Arthur wondered just how much he could still omit, if he didn't want to go down in flames.
After what felt like an eternity, Arthur was finally free of the reins that bound him to the chair. Life once again returned to his restrained limbs, even though it would take a while before he could move them from their paralyzed state. He wished he could though, to at least massage his left cheek - where the faint shape of a hand remained on his reddened skin, and the stinging sensation beneath it.
"So... although I shouldn't be asking this, but was that my punishment?" Arthur looked at the person who tossed aside the nylon ropes in an almost careless fashion.
"Ooh? Was that not enough?" She had taken a liking to his bed, and was resting against the wall while laying on the blankets. The windows were closed, so silence and normalcy had returned to the room; somewhat.
"N-no, that was definitely enough! Really!" Uncertain what his guest still intended to do after releasing him, Arthur could only sit on his chair with a load of anxiety and anticipation.
"Don't worry. It was never my intention to kill you to begin with."
"What do you mean?" Arthur was surprised, seeing her dismissing the idea with a wave. All that intense fear he had felt from her was merely a facade?
"After seeing how you behaved, and evaluating your responses, I've decided that you're harmless. In other words, you're pathetic as a man and not worth the effort to kill." With one eye closed and the other open, she grinned at Arthur as if that was the most natural thing to say.
"Y-you... you..." He didn't know what to call her, and could only look at the crazy woman with disbelief.
"What? Aren't you happy that there's no need to be afraid anymore?" She had a look that anyone could see as amusement.
"A-argh!" For the first time in a long time, Arthur felt a surge of anger.
"Come on; if you're going to say something, don't just groan like a wounded animal."
"..." He didn't understood why he was so irritated. Was it because of how accurate the young woman's words were? Or was it because the pride he had thought to not possess had taken a severe blow and he was finally registering it?
"Well, I stand by what I stated. You're a pathetic man," Arthur winced at her blunt words. "And that's because any other man would have taken advantage of my momentary weakness. You did nothing but the complete opposite." With both eyes opened, there was a soft mysterious glow in them as he watched.
"I don't hate that kind of man; is what I am trying to say. So stop sulking already, you pathetic idiot." In-between gasps of bated breath, she smiled if ever so faintly.
"... I don't even know how I should respond to that..." Arthur sighed. He felt mentally defeated, and decided that's fine because the girl was an oddity.
"In any case, please don't call me a pathetic idiot anymore. Just Arthur." His ego was in shambles, but it shall recover eventually. For now he could just endure it, or so Arthur hoped.
"I see; your name is Arthur. No idea what it means but I guess that'll do. As for myself... I am..." For a moment, Arthur watched as the strange girl looked at her left wrist, as if to stare at an invisible watch, only to shake her head a few times afterwards.
What's she doing? He wanted to ask it out loud but held the curiosity in check. Instead, Arthur took a quick survey of his room, and it was then that the memories of what happened before returned in all its unpleasant glory.
"Ah, don't worry about my name for now. Besides, it's best if you don't get involved anymore."
"Or so you say, but... before that, what are you going to say about your actions?" His temper rising like a balloon filled to the brim with hot air, Arthur confronted the girl.
"Hmm? What about my actions?" As he had thought, the girl didn't care about that at all.
"Look around you! Look at all the mess and my ruined office space." With one wide motion of his arm, Arthur displayed the source of his anguish:
The desk was drenched in rainwater and water from the basin. Various parts of the carpet looked somewhat charred. One of his laptop had ceased function while the other managed to escape a similar fate. Whatever work he was working on before was forever gone without any backup data. Furthermore, if one would look away from those particular areas and observe the whole room as a whole, the previous struggle and all the chaos had definitely upset the order within this place.
"Hmm... and what do you expect? An apology or something? I mean I am partly responsible-" In contrast to his evident seething, the girl only tilted her head with a slight frown.
"Partly responsible, partly?" Arthur was taken aback. All feelings of intimidation and anxiety had disappeared within him, and replaced with anger. "You were the one at fault here. If you didn't attack me none of all these damages would have happened! And what about the burnt carpet? Clearly that can't be me, so it must be you!"
"Great deduction there. Would you like an applause?" She grinned with not a trace of concern.
"You... ugh, fine. The point is, what are we going to do about my ruined living space."
"Sorry, that's something I can't help you with." The girl answered flatly.
"... Really, but you were responsible!" Dread renewed, Arthur could already imagine the kind of trouble he would get into once his landlady - or any housemate for that matter - return.
"I apologized, isn't that enough? Besides, you should know when you found me - I have nothing of value." With a tired complexion, she retreated back into the blankets of Arthur's bed.
"Hey, you can't go back to sleep just like that!" He was startled at her sudden loss in energy, but still tried to grasp the situation in his favor.
"I'm still recovering, so give me a break already! It's tiring enough having to deal with a loud yakker like you." Sighing loudly to emphasize her point, the young woman completed her nest on Arthur's bed with one last tuck of her head into the bed sheets.
"Oh, and don't try anything funny, because I can still wipe you off from the face of this earth." Glaring daggers back at the bed's owner, whose only response was an indistinct grunt and dumbfounded look, she closed her eyes and drifted off into slumber a few moments later.
An indescribable feeling washed over Arthur as he sat on his mobile chair, his eyes froze upon the face of his houseguest who more or less threatened not only his life, but also ruined his room and cubicle. Yet there she was, dozing off in his bed, his clothes, all the while looking as defenseless as a girl could be. He definitely could not deny that uncanny beauty in her appearance, but her less-than-normal personality was still more than enough to warrant apprehension.
Still, whether he liked it or not, she was there to stay at the expense of his life. Was he a coward after all? Unaccustomed to this strange oddity that had invaded his life in one fell swoop, Arthur could only groan in exasperation. Getting up from his chair, Arthur picked up the fallen basin he had ignored until now, and wring the remaining water out of the small towel.
Approaching the sleeping figure with caution, he leaned forward and placed the damp towel on her forehead. For half a second he was expecting her to open her emerald eyes and pierce him with her glare, but her eyes remained shut, and only the innocent expression of her defenseless, pale face remained. His hands tingled with the unnatural warmth that radiated from her, and Arthur realized that she was still bedridden with fever.
"Wipe me off from the face of this earth, huh?" Arthur emitted a soft chuckle as he muttered those words. How unlike him to be this relaxed around such a mysterious person. It was almost as if his anger only moments before had evaporated into thin air. Inconceivable, but... I'll have to make a call. With that thought in mind, he picked up the phone in his pants pocket.
"Damn it, I knew she hasn't recovered at all." He checked her for bruises and then again her forehead. Reflexively pulling back from the resurfacing heat, Tobias complained quietly as he once again held her up like a cradle. After putting her back to bed and changed the wet blankets for the unconscious girl and deciding to treat her possible injuries after she recover more, Tobias sank back into his chair in exhaustion. Seeing as how things turned out, he could only expect delays and problems ahead, but at the same time he just couldn't bring himself to stay angry.
"Yes, this is Chestnut Ate my Acorn. Please inform Alpha Centauri that the project is experiencing some unexpected delays… Yes, I am well aware of the pay deduction. Yes, I understand, and am very sorry about the inconveniences… Thank you very much for your understanding. Have a nice day."