The wind whispered as the chattering noise and soft swooshing sound of footsteps from the passersby entered in his ears.
The snow fell like confetti, sparkling like thousand stars under the blinking multicolour lights of Christmas decoration in town. The most lively festive in the most calming season.
Leaning his back against the wall of the designated shop, Kazuki hid his hand in slant pockets of his pants and looked upon the dark sky where the cottony snowflakes fell slowly and patiently.
Despite the nerve-calming scenery, each ticking of the secondhand on his watch got on his nerves a little further.
He was certain that he told her to meet him up in front of this shop; yet, the girl was nowhere to be found.
'Nanda? She didn't get lost, darou? Or perhaps she met an accident...?' his mind began to seek for the reason of her lateness.
Hundred of unnecessary-yet-distressing scenes started to play in his mind beyond his control- from the simple scene of oversleeping to dreadful one like the worst accident ever.
'iie, iie... Worst comes to worst, she might just forget about the promise.' he protested against his creative mind- and such protest knitted his brows.
Once again, he wished to have his ability under his control; and so, he could see whatever that triggers his curiosity. However, the gifted ability does not always come with ease of use.
On the other side, brown leather heels played soft, constant creaking sound as it stepped onto the solid ground that covered with a thin layer of frosty blanket.
A girl in a plain white dress with a navy single-buttoned cloak covering her bare skin dashing through the crowds that mingling on the street.
As if she was chasing after the ticking clock, she heaved on each wide step she took. Her hazel eyes were looking nowhere but to the front where the designated venue located at.
Once again, she regretted in taking an extra of 20 minutes to sleep and laze, and also changing her mind in clothing.
'I wouldn't laze that long if I know I would change my mind.' her mind spoke the blames, deafening the chattering sound that attempted to enter into her ears.
'No, I should have taken off the habit of lazing around.' she added secretly in her mind, uncertainly.
'A leopard won't change its spot... And I'm the leopard.' she protested, knowing herself that her motivation to make a change is near to none.
'Ugh! I'm such a helpless idiot!' again, she lost count on how many times she had such an argument against herself.
Her eyes widened as she caught the appearance of the grey-haired man appeared in her vision, blurring the existence of the passersby, though her brows knitted on the next second noticing the knotted up brows of Kazuki.
Frustration was written all over his face while agitation shaded her expression.
Stopping her pace and standing right in front of Kazuki, Asu panted softly, huffing a puff of vapour after another from her cherry lips.
Tilting his head down in slight extend, his verdant green eyes met with her hazel eyes.
"You're late." the first sentence that uttered by Kazuki as soon as he noticed her presence.
Holding her breathe forcefully, she straightened her back and shifted her hand to clutch the straps of her tote handbag lightly. The wrinkles in between her brows deepened as she stared at him sternly.
"Warukatta." she responded with hints of unwillingness before adding her protest, "But you can tell that I've tried my best to rush here judging by my pantings, deshou?"
Narrowed an eyelid, the pursed lips that were once plastered on his face curled up instantly.
"Heh... Tried your best and still being late? Does that means your best isn't anywhere near to best?" Kazuki talked back with hints of annoyance and teases.
Without needing a reminder from the arrogant man, Asu knows clearly that her best isn't anywhere near to the best.
However, being stated by the arrogant man, somehow, cast a sense of dissatisfaction within Asu; yet, she couldn't find a solution in winning over the conversation.
Letting the topic gone with the wind is the best solution that she could think.
Holding up her palm to the victorious face, Asu tilted up her head in reflex, staring into those verdant green eyes. "My compensation." she spoke briefly-yet-firmly.
The drift of topic announced the victory of Kazuki, bringing the verbal fight a result of 1-0.
Returning her stern gaze with a grin on his face, Kazuki held up the vintage brown paper bag and hanged the paper ropes onto her closed, straightened slender fingers.
"Since you're so smart, I think the guidance of the user's manual is sufficient enough for you to set it up yourself, darou?" he stated instead of questioning, teasing the girl further.
"That's what user's manual for." she responded confidently. 'Who wants your help, baka?!' she added secretly in her mind. Perhaps, when pride meets critic, it boosted confidence.
Without allowing the conversation to continue, she clutched the straps of the paper bag, walking away without giving a final glance to the arrogant man.
Kazuki stared at her back that grew smaller as she walked.
Without waiting for her to disappear in the crowds, he hid another hand into the slant pocket and stepped toward the opposite direction of where the girl goes.
Fishing out her cellphone from the messy handbag as she quickened her pace, she tapped onto one of the notifications that filled up her screen.
'I'm already here.', 'Where are you?', 'Please tell me you're not lost.', 'Most importantly, don't tell me you're cancelling on me for a newly-met guy.', and lastly, 'Asu Ryuura, you owe me this time!'
For a second, she took back the thought of her best friend having complete faith in her.
'5 minutes.' her thumb landed onto each alphabet showcasing on the virtual keyboard swiftly before she locked her screen and sped up her movement.
Capturing the word of Izakaya on the lightened up signboard, she slowed down her pace as the fresh doors stood proudly in front of her.
Pushing it opened, a cheerful chime rang, informing the servants of the arrival of the guest.
"Welcome. How may I assist you?" a girl with a lovely face greeted smilingly.
"I have a booking under the name of Shirogane." she responded with the details given by Mai earlier.
"Oh, please come with me." the servant said while holding up her hand before taking the lead.
Following behind the courteous servant, she passed through the crowded main dining area before walking down a narrow wooden hallway.
"Mr Shirogane and his guests are in this room. Please call for my assistance when you need." the servant said and bowed before excusing herself.
Standing in front of the wooden sliding door, she took a deep breath. As if the breath she took switching her expression from one to another.
She hanged the brightest smile on her face as she outreached her hand to slide the door opened.
"I'm sorry for my lateness." she greeted with the most cheerful apology she ever had.
However, her smile faded in a snap of the finger. Her eyes widened as her mind gone blank. Out of all possibilities, she wouldn't expect what she sees behind the door.
Unconsciously, she knitted her brows deeply.
"Why are you here?!" she questioned loudly without explanation- and the same question is spoken by the arrogant man that she met a moment ago, at the same time.