tried and tested and truly yours
sebek zigvolt x reader
summary: Sebek, the bodyguard of famous celebrity Malleus Draconia, is a regular at your café. With his frequency in your establishment, conversation was inevitable, though he never would have expected you to become anything beyond a late night acquaintance.
tags: gender neutral reader, sfw, fluff/romance, aged up characters (since they're all working), no magic AU, 12k+ words, not beta read
author's note (see end for more): (Belated) HAPPY BIRTHDAY SEBEK and (Belated) Happy Anniversary, TWST JP! Since my first fic was also on Sebek's birthday last year, Happy 1 year anniversary to my blog! Yippee!
you can also read this on AO3
“Hello! You’re here again.” Sebek looked up from the menu to stare at you, not unkindly but in a not exactly friendly way either. “Dear regular. What will you be having tonight?”
You recognized him as the man who frequented your café at odd hours—always your first customer in the morning, loudly declaring the same order and quick to leave; always your last customer in the evening, quietly eating until he was forced to leave. He recognized you as the owner of the establishment—he had thought you to be the manager once with how present you were, but the way you dressed freely and lacked a name tag suggested otherwise.
“I’ll have honey lemon tea,” he replied easily, heeding the recommendation his two bosses gave him. It would be good to keep his voice loud and healthy, they said, and who was he to not follow such a well-meaning, wise suggestion? “Hot, please.”
“Alright,” you replied, scribbling something on your notepad quickly, “and for something to bite… The usual, sir?”
Sebek nodded, “Whatever went unsold, I’ll get it all.”
You smiled brightly. He remembered you used to be visibly shocked the first few times he dined in, even concerned for his wallet with how much he ordered. He had huffed at the time, proclaiming that he was very well compensated by his very well-off employers, and that there was no use in worrying about him or his appetite. Nowadays, though, with the growing popularity of your business, you seemed more concerned about whether you had enough to feed him with.
“It’s really nice that you eat well,” you said, “does it have something to do with your job? You know, like people who compete in bodybuilding have to eat a certain amount and eat certain things to develop their body a certain way when they work out.”
“You’ve never asked me about my profession before,” Sebek noted. Many people would have stopped at that and you did look like you were about to apologize for prying, but he was, honestly, extremely proud of his job, so he found himself talking about it anyway. “But yes. Eating a certain amount is a part of my training regimen! How can I protect Sir Malleus properly if I can’t utilize my body efficiently?”
You blinked. “I’m sorry, protect who?”
Sebek’s first instinct is to groan to himself—that was a slip of the tongue, he should have been more careful with his words…! What if you’re some delusional fan who’s going to pester him about Malleus Draconia?! What if you’re an anti who’s going to try to use him to get close to the man and try to harm him?!
“Malleus… I feel like I’ve heard that name before. Is he a model or something?”
The second instinct he has is to immediately educate you, because unless you’re extremely good at pretending—he has to keep his guard up before he can clear that doubt about you—you seem to not know who Malleus Draconia is, which is an act malum in se… A crime in and of itself.
“How do you not know the greatest performer of the century? The Malleus Draconia!” Sebek exclaimed, shaking his head. Simultaneously, he brought out his wallet—but not to pay for his orders yet. Rather, snuck in a slot right in between his credit card and debit card, he pulled out a photo card, one of the man being brought up. “This is Malleus Draconia. He was a talented stage actor in his childhood, then he became a soloist in his teenage years, before returning back to acting, this time in movies and series, in his adulthood. He also models, yes, in commercials and magazines, but it is not his main profession.
“Surely you must have seen him somewhere? Perhaps you simply did not know his name but your eyes have been graced with his performances!”
“Um, I hate to break it to you… I don’t think I know any of his songs, or watched anything he’s in,” you admitted, though upon locking eyes with him for a few seconds you ended up adding, “I’m sure he’s very talented, though! I mean, he certainly looks the part of someone popular. I’ll, err, do my research once I get home? If I don’t pass out in bed immediately,”
“That’s WONDERFUL! Of course, if you are truly as new to him as you say you are, you will have much to catch up on,” Sebek sighed, as though pitying you slightly, “but it will certainly be worth it. If you’re quick to invest enough, I won’t be surprised if you begin begging me for tickets to his concerts or fanmeets, or if you try to bribe me to get his signature. I won’t do it, mind you! So I’m warning you now!”
It was a very genuine warning, but something about the look on your face perturbed him. Could it be that you had plans to do so?
“So during these fanmeets and all these other events… You’ll be in attendance?” you asked, and Sebek scoffed at the question. Was it not obvious?
“I’m one of his bodyguards,” Sebek proclaimed with pride, “I am always in attendance, not only in the case of an emergency, but to support him as well!”
“I feel like you’re about to tell me something along the lines of ‘If Malleus Draconia has 1 million fans, I am one of them. If he has 1,000, I am one of them. If he has one, that is me. If he has none, I’ve departed from this world,’ or however the saying goes,” you laughed, and Sebek had almost begun an argument about how Malleus had more than one million fans, thank you very much! His MagiCam followers were only surpassed by the likes of Vil Schoenheit and Neige LeBlanche, who were active on social media, so it wasn’t a fair comparison!
“I think it’s nice that a serious guy like you has this kind of passion, even if I wouldn’t have been able to guess it,” you said, “everyone must feel really reassured that they could rely on someone dedicated like you to protect such a high-profile celebrity.”
“Hmph! Of course they are!” Sebek was practically preening at your compliments, readily accepting them. “It’s good that even you, who hardly knows anything about Malleus Draconia, can recognize that!”
“Feel free to tip me for that if you want,” you said, “that was a joke by the way, I was being genuine.”
“I know it was a joke.” Sebek did not know, actually. He was fully prepared to tip you more than usual for engaging in this type of conversation with him. Somehow, he found himself more rejuvenated than usual, even though he had quite the tiring workday. Hopefully the tea would do the trick and, if not, he supposed some late night lifting back in his apartment would get him sleepy!
“Alright,” you smiled, as though you didn’t believe him. “I’ll go prepare your order, Sebek.”
“I’m surprised you remember my name,” he admitted, “you always call me your regular or something else instead.”
“Sebek, you’ve spelled out your name for me so many times for your coffee,” you reminded him, “S-E-B-E-K. I’m sure anyone would remember a name yelled out at five in the morning, practically every day.”
“Right,” Sebek turned away from you, flushing slightly in embarrassment. Of course that made sense. He was a frequent customer. If not you, then one of your employees would write his name down on a coffee cup. Sebek was not a particularly common name, too, so obviously you would recall.
“Since you know my name, though, I should know yours as well.”
You never wore a name tag, after all, so all this time he’s been calling you the person who owns the café in the building of my work place, which was a mouthful and just, honestly, plain neglectful of him. How rude of him! He should correct his impoliteness, shouldn’t he? It was simply right and, well, he should work on doing right so as to not bring any blights to his employer!
“Is that so?”
You didn’t answer him initially, focused on preparing his orders and, right after, charging his card for the bill. However, when he gets his receipt, he finds it jotted in pencil at the back, alongside your MagiCam handle and phone number—for emergencies it says, right beside an asterisk, or if he needed something delivered to his workplace.
Sebek doesn’t do social media, nor is he particularly social anywhere, mostly using his phone for work, to keep up with anything to do with Malleus, or to catch up with his family, but he keeps the receipt tucked in his wallet instead of throwing it out immediately.
For emergencies, of course, though it’s not so much for him but more so for you. Not having any security guards in your café this close to midnight? Sure, the city was relatively safe, but there were dangerous people everywhere. Though he was not employed to protect you, he still frequented your café, so he found it important to make sure you were safe. It would be troublesome if something were to happen to you or your business.
That was all there was to it so, despite the regulations he had, self-imposed or otherwise, he found himself not just saving your number, but replying back, warning you to not spread his contact details anywhere.
Aside from a promise to do so, you text him something you’ve already told him a while ago: Good night!
Perhaps he should have reminded you to only text him for important matters, but maybe it was a good thing that he didn’t.
He did not reply, but he made sure to greet you a good morning in person the next day.
Sebek’s eyes have constantly been flickering between Malleus Draconia and the crowd coming to see him this whole time, that being for about an hour now, and as much as he enjoys seeing people recognize the celebrity’s talents and efforts to the point that they would line up for hours to see him, the whole affair is, for once, relatively uneventful.
He’s grateful, of course, that there’s no one to have to restrain for once; even his boss seems genuinely relieved that the event thus far had been very peaceful, what with him flashing a rare grin (with teeth!) instead of his usual closed-lipped smirks and smiles.
What a blessed day to be a supporter of Malleus Draconia.
That was why, although he still tried to keep vigilant, he found himself relaxing slightly, just soaking up the good atmosphere.
Then you showed up. You were still wearing the clothes he usually saw you wearing in the café, but the hat you had on your head really made it difficult to distinguish you from the crowd until you eventually removed it, right when you were already in front of Malleus.
Why didn’t you tell him you were going to attend?! You never even showed any interest in attending when he told you there was going to be a fanmeet today!
Then, you placed a paper bag on top of the desk. The contents had to be food, Sebek was sure, because while you did your best to cover up where the food had come from by using something plain as opposed to branded packaging, there was no hiding the familiar smell of pastries within.
Really, it showed that you were awfully new to events like these. Though the rules differed from celebrity to celebrity, Malleus specifically was not allowed to accept foods that were not, at the very least, sealed and packaged. For safety reasons, unfortunately, but a measure that had to be done.
Still, because you, from what he knew of you, were a well-intentioned person, he didn’t want to embarrass you in front of anyone. He was already making his way to grab the paper bag himself, as well as give you a reminder for the future, when you decide to tell Malleus something, muttering low enough so as to not be heard by anyone else.
“Nice to meet you, Malleus,” you said, shaking the hand in front of you, “Sorry if this is impolite, but could you give this to Sebek?”
Sebek nearly screamed. He really was about to, but he just about managed to hold back, merely jolting in place. His fellow guard slash his other boss’ assistant slash adoptive son, Silver, stared at him pointedly.
“You know one of my bodyguards?” the black-haired man asked. While Sebek could not see his expression from his vantage point, he did sound intrigued by you. “Are you Sebek’s…?”
“He didn’t come by my café this morning,” you said, finally glancing towards him. “I was concerned he hadn’t eaten anything yet.”
“Oh I wouldn’t worry about him. He had a hefty breakfast, I promise,” Malleus laughed, “though I’ll make sure to give this to him anyway, since you worked so hard to bring it here.”
“Thank you, I really appreciate it. Sebek was right about you being nice. I’ll try to support you in the future,” you promised, “I’ll be going now. I don’t want to take away any more time than I have from your fans.”
“Alright, take care,” Malleus said, and Sebek watched you walk away with a smile, wondering to himself who exactly it was meant for considering the difference between who you were talking to versus who you were looking at.
Malleus spun around to hand the bag to him, eyes gleaming.
“Well, you might as well prepare yourself. Lilia is going to pester you about this later,” he laughed ominously, promptly turning back to the crowd to greet his next fan before Sebek could get a response out.
“You must have lined up for about an hour just to get to the front,” Sebek said, confronting you as soon as he got back to his hotel room. Through the phone, he heard you let out a hum of agreement. Sebek sighed right after. “You didn’t have to do that.”
“I was expecting you! You said you’d be able to go get your morning coffee,” you retorted, “well, ‘coffee’, quote-unquote, it’s more like milk with a dash of coffee… But seriously, isn’t it normal to get worried, especially because of the type of job you have?”
Sebek glanced at the mirror, the visual representation of his heated face reflected right back at him.
“Something came up. We had to leave earlier than usual, so I couldn’t stop by,” he explained apologetically… and blatantly ignoring the comment about his tastes in caffeine. “You could have messaged me.”
“You don’t check your phone during work hours,” you reminded him, “unless it’s work related.”
“How sure are you that I would not have checked?!” Sebek asked, rolling his eyes despite the fact that you would not be able to see it. “Seriously…! I got a severe questioning from my boss because of you!”
“Oops, sorry!” you apologized, not sounding all that sorry. “What did Malleus ask you? I can’t imagine him as the type to grill you all that much.”
“Not much, thankfully, since, AHEM!” He cleared the non-existent phlegm in his throat, using that time to think of some other response other than the truth. “He mostly did the listening, not the questioning. Our chairman did.”
He inevitably went with the truth.
“Damn… your chairman?” you laughed, though it seemed more sympathetic this time, “You didn’t get in trouble, did you? I know some people are particularly strict with, you know, how they operate during work hours, who they associate with, not allowing people in your personal life to interact with people in your profession, things like that.”
“No! No, he’s terrifying sometimes, but he’s extremely compassionate too!” Sebek said, defending the man, “Although the questions… I would have preferred not to answer them at all…”
The recollection of the earlier event, the awkwardness and embarrassment he felt as he was questioned about you of all people, everything about it made him groan in annoyance. It felt like no matter what he answered, he found himself digging into a deeper and deeper hole that he couldn’t get away from.
“Okay, I won’t pry about the questions since you seem so pained by the memory,” you assured him, “even if I’m curious, so… Let’s talk about something else, then, if you’re not busy.”
“I’m not busy,” Sebek said quickly, even though he was rather tired from everything today. It was just… talking to you, yes, so it wasn’t like he would be exerting that much effort by staying up a few minutes later! The only difference between talking to you back at the café and talking to you on the phone was distance, obviously.
Never mind that, at the time, he was there as a customer and right now, well, there was no real reason for him to speak to you without the proximity binding you two to converse.
“Are you sure? You sound a little tired.”
“Me? Tired? Do you still not know me well enough to be able to suggest such a thing? The events of today are not enough to make use of all of my strength, mind you!” he huffed, incredulous at the suggestion. “Even if I were to stay up for three consecutive nights, I would be able to do it!”
“Would not recommend that, even if it’s for work.” He imagined you shaking your head at him in some form of disapproval. “How was the coffee, by the way? I hope it was still warm by the time it got into your hands.”
“It was actually, yes.” His eyes darted onto the coffee table, the mint green tumbler sitting there, emptied and washed. “The insulation was good and it kept the drink sufficiently warm. I must ask where you bought it! I should replace my current water bottle with something similar.”
“Ahh… Just keep it, then,” you told him, hastily adding, “I haven’t used it yet, by the way! So you don’t have to worry about, like, my germs or something.”
“I can’t possibly…” Sebek said, trailing off as he listened to your protests. “Fine! Let me pay for it, then.”
“Sebek, no.” He tried to imagine what type of expression you would have on your face by now as you tried to argue with him. There were some complaints and banter, yes, but insistence regarding something so simple was new in regards to you. “Just consider it as a thank you for being my regular.”
“Absolutely not, then. Goods and services are meant to be paid for, and I’ve paid for them appropriately. It’s not like you’re handing them out to me for free. If anything, shouldn’t I pay you extra for doing a delivery run even when you did not have to go that far?”
For a moment you did not say anything, and Sebek thought he had finally won against you. Then, as though to let him know your silence was simply spent thinking of the perfect response, you replied,
“Then it’s a gift,” you told him, “because you’re my friend.”
“FRIEND?!” Sebek blurted out, before clearing his throat the second time that night. “Ah! Well, yes, of COURSE. This is normal behavior for friends to exhibit, yes. The exchange of gifts. Tokens of friendship.”
“Yeah? I mean, not everyone really needs to exchange. Sometimes, just receiving or just giving is enough,” you pointed out, “but you know, it feels nice to let your friends know you appreciate them any way you can, and that you’re appreciated, too.”
“Of course,” Sebek nodded to himself. Payment wasn’t what you wanted. What you needed in return was something… heartfelt and genuine. It was like one of his favorite Malleus Draconia movies, where he, to show his appreciation, gifted his dear ally something practical, something special, something he knew they would enjoy. It was such a good movie he had teared up, and what kind of fan would he be if he were not to heed the morals of the media he consumed? “I’ll keep that in mind.”
“That’s oddly intimidating, but alright,” you replied, yawning midway, “Alright, it’s getting late, and if not you, then I should go get some rest, so… See you tomorrow?”
“I won’t be there in the morning,” he let you know, “but I’ll see you in the evening.”
“Okay.” He imagined your smile, the one you usually gave him when he entered and left your café. He imagined you were smiling before you hung, and when you hung up it was only then that Sebek realized the call had gone longer than he had thought, and that he was still dressed in his suit.
It was thereafter he remembered that his room was right beside Malleus’, who tended to stay up late with Lilia, who often had Silver by his side, and thus…
Someone knocked on his door, a familiar beat of a song from his hometown. When he opened it up, he was only slightly surprised to be face to face with his fellow bodyguard, somehow awake at this hour.
“Sebek, try to lower your volume next time,” the light-haired boy sighed, “father told me to let you know he and Malleus could hear your lover’s quarrel from the next room.”
He felt the red seep back into his face, though he wondered if it had ever really left in the first place.
“I’ll go over and apologize… even if it’s not a lover’s quarrel!” he boomed, before shutting the door behind him. Next to him, Silver shrugged.
“Okay, maybe we just misheard.”
“And misunderstood, too,” Sebek added. They walked a few steps in the hallway, walking away from room 1703 stopping right in front of 1704, Malleus’ room. Before Silver could use the keycard, Sebek halted the action. “Wait. Answer me this before we enter.”
“Sure?” Silver asked, confused by how sudden it was brought upon him. “If I can, I’ll try.”
“Silver… What kind of gifts do friends usually give each other?”
“SIR! What are you doing here?!”
At his exclamation, Malleus Draconia looked away from his conversation partner, you, to acknowledge his presence. Beside him, you smile and wave at him, as though beckoning him to come closer. He could not compel himself to do so, choosing to stand right next to the door.
“Am I not allowed to be here, Sebek?”
He froze, panicked and unsure of how to respond. Who was he to dictate where the man was allowed to go, especially a place not just harmless, but a place he was fond and familiar with? If anything, his pre-existing preoccupation with the establishment should have assured him that nothing terrible would happen to his employer.
Beyond safety, the person who ran the business itself was one he approved of beyond measure, thus…
“There’s no reason you shouldn’t be, sir!” he replied hastily, gaze avoidant of your own, focused on the tall man. “I was just shocked to see you here so late, and without Sir Lilia or Silver by your side!”
“Even before you and Silver were enlisted as my guards, I’ve been accustomed to taking walks at this hour. You’re not the only creature of the night, after all.” Malleus moved to stand up from his chair, the seat he (and you) preferred to occupy during nights like these, walking towards him slowly. “Since I understand now why you frequent this place, I should take my leave.”
Sebek let out a sound of protest instinctively, ready to either drive or walk the man back to his home or whichever location he wanted to go to next, but Malleus waved him off.
“I don’t need to monopolize any more of your time, especially since you just got here. I already have your company nearly everyday for multiple hours a day.” His gaze drifted back to you, looking unsure as to whether you should insist on having Sebek escort him or otherwise. “Unlike a certain someone. I’ll go hail a ride by myself.”
“Do… Do you have the app for that installed on your phone?” Sebek asked, admittedly doubtful at the actor’s ability to book one for himself. Not that he could dare say his concerns out loud.
“Kids these days… Lilia taught me how to do it, remember?” he deadpanned, “now leave me be and don’t even think about being back at the hotel room until at least midnight.”
“Did you just get a reverse curfew?” you muttered in disbelief, attention all on him as Malleus took his leave.
“I’m… a little confused myself,” Sebek admitted, “but I’m sure someone as intelligent as Sir Malleus has his reasons for imposing a, as you said, reverse curfew. In fact, I can think of a few right now!”
You looked surprised, which was an offense (none taken, but an offense nonetheless) to him. Sure, he would not say he was one hundred percent sure, false advertising was a crime, but he was at least ninety percent sure, which was more than decent by his standards.
“Oh? What do you think Malleus is trying to do?”
“It’s not that he doesn’t have his own sense of agency, but I have my reasons to believe that the chairman influenced him to visit you during his free time,” Sebek sighed, growing more and more embarrassed as the list of reasons began writing themselves in his brain. Was he actually going to reveal all of it to you?!
Of course he was. He never quite got the ability to keep his mouth shut unless told or, well, with you sometimes.
“Him coming here was probably due to a few things. First, they’re trying to teach me some kind of lesson. That is–”
“Wait, lesson?” you laughed, finding his answer a little absurd, “Do you think seeing me is a punishment?”
“OF COURSE NOT!” he denied immediately, “To imply as such is downright repugnant!”
“Pfft, it was a joke!”
“I don’t see how it could be humorous.” Sebek shook his head, wondering how you could afford to smile at his displeasure. What a terrible thing for someone to find your company even the least bit unpleasant; even more terrible, for someone to think he could dislike it, dislike you. “In any case, what I meant by lesson is that they might want to remind me that, as a bodyguard, my protection should not be limited to my employers and family. Rather, it should extend to good people. Like you.”
“That’s… That’s quite the sweet conclusion to arrive to, but…” you trailed off for a moment, as though hesitating to continue. “Sebek, do you really think that’s the reason Malleus told you to stay?”
“It would make sense, but there are other reasons, I’m sure.”
“Okay, then tell me another, since I’m not too convinced.”
“Well… It could be a reward,” Sebek said, “for a job well done. Instead of having to continue working at this hour, which I would be happy to do, I’m proud of what I can do as a bodyguard. I’m sure some consideration is in play by allowing me to spend time with a friend instead.”
“Ah, well, yes, but also no. I’m not sure how you can get it, but also not? At the same time?” you laughed, awkward but not demeaning. It still perturbed him, though.
“Okay? Then explain your thought process, then,” Sebek huffed, slightly frustrated at what he was not getting, “You seem to have talked a decent amount with my boss before I got here, somehow to the point that you can understand his way of thinking already.”
“I would, but he told me to keep it between us.” Before he could complain and demand to know anyway, you switched the subject very deliberately and, to your fortune, rather effectively. “So you think getting to spend time with me is a reward?”
Sebek’s eyebrows furrowed, indignant at your choice of ignoring his inquiry and at himself for not catching his word choice. Reward, was that the word he used?
“Hmph! Don’t get too haughty about it now!” he insisted, a warning that you would likely not take to heart, “It’s less reward and more a rewarding feeling, like something nice to look forward to before I end my day.”
“I see.” Except you’re not looking at him again, despite there being no one else to look at. Sebek should be frustrated, as he tended to be when people did not pay attention to him when he addressed them, but there’s something soft about your expression that has him okay with the slight impoliteness. He supposed even someone like him could fall victim to favoritism after all.
There’s another reason he could have told you that comes into mind, but he swallows it for now.
“I’ll go get you something to eat,” you told him, suddenly standing up and leaving him alone at his usual table. Sebek realized that might have been the first time the both of you had simply talked without anything in front of the both of you, no barriers, no disruptions. It was like those signs that were hung up in establishments sometimes, telling people to talk or read a book instead of using their phones and asking for the internet password.
Sebek abided by those quite a lot, reading whatever book he could lay his hands on (or an electronic book if his bag was strapped for space), but he never could have imagined talking to someone about… topics that he had never discussed with anyone, for a lack of a better term.
“There’s something I’ve been thinking about.”
“Yes?” You looked up suddenly from the plate of pastries you had picked up for him, genuinely curious and perhaps even showing an anticipatory flash of excitement. “Lay it on me.”
“So how long was my boss in the café? If you can’t give me the specifics… What were the topics, at the very least?”
“Oh? Interrogating me, are you?” you laughed, as though amused, though you looked away and had gone back to piling pastries, now on a second plate, so he could not see your expression. “Don’t worry, I only said good things about you.”
Shame as it was, it was alright. Even without seeing your eyes, he knows you are not one to lie, especially with such a matter important to him.
On one hand, he likes (more than, even, perhaps adores) the idea that you talked about him, good things at that. Beyond that, the idea that you could compliment him to his superior, a person he’s heavily respected since childhood, pleased him heavily. With that said…
It’s not jealousy or envy, per say. He knows what those taste like—he’s been eating and swallowing them up for years, after all—which is how he knows what he’s feeling isn’t anything associated with the sin. Rather, he supposes he’s… concerned. That talking to others about him would give you a certain impression of him, one that’s not very capable after all, even though he goes on and on about how dedicated and passionate he is when it comes to his job.
Dedication is one thing. Ability is another.
The thing is, Sebek’s come to the realization that he wants, needs you to think of him as someone capable, though he can’t be sure why the idea of you in particular showing disappointment in him scares him so much.
“Do you think I’m lacking in any means?” Sebek breathed out the question without any context, and while you looked somewhat surprised at the question, you don’t grill him for it either. Maybe you understood what he meant—you had gotten good at that, he thought, understanding him in a way others failed to.
“I can’t say for sure,” you replied honestly. You sit in front of him once more, placing two plates in front of him that would go unnoticed and untouched for a little while longer. “When it comes to work in particular. However… Most people aren’t exactly built to be perfect in everything, so everyone is lacking in something.”
You could have stopped there. It’s a model answer to a question he had sprung up on you for no real reason other than to see what you think or, maybe, to reassure himself over this and that.
You don’t stop. Instead, you looked him in the eye and asked,
“Do you want me to tell you what I really think?”
“Please,” Sebek said, desperate not just for praise, but for feedback. As long as it was an opinion you held of him, that you had an opinion on him that wasn’t so… typical, he supposed.
“I think that when it comes to your character, I think you’re doing your best to become better and better each day. Whether this is the path you continue to take in the future or not, I think there’s one thing you will never lack—it’s your dedication.”
Sebek’s beaming the rest of the night, even when it’s mostly silent—him regaining his energy and calories, you asking him questions here and there about his day, him throwing them back at you. It’s peaceful and he’s happy, he’s happy and it’s got nothing to do with Malleus or Lilia or winning in a friendly martial arts spar against Silver; it’s got nothing to do with his parents doting on him or his siblings making him his favorite food. It’s got all to do with you and it’s just… terribly wonderful.
It’s a minute after midnight when he stands by the entrance again, smile a little smaller, regretful to have to go, but teeth still blinding nonetheless. He’s thinking if he should ask if he can help you clean up next time, or if he should offer to drive you home—some other excuse to stick around a little longer, all under the guise of his boss’ orders, when you interrupt his reverie.
“Sebek, before you go, I need to ask you something.” You stood by the door. You don’t invite him in nor do you step outside with him, but you keep the door open to be able to talk to him. “Or tell you something. Both.”
“What is it?”
“Malleus told me your awareness levels are… a work in progress, but do you really not understand his intentions? Or, one of them, at least,” you asked, “I’m sure he and Lilia and Silver are very nice people who genuinely want you to spend more time with me as a friend, and that they’re curious about me as a person because I’m your friend, but it’s a little clear to me that they’re trying to see if they can get something else to happen by giving us more time alone, or purposefully seeking me out during a time you would usually come by.”
Sebek did not answer immediately, not because he did not understand where you were getting at, but because he had not wanted to acknowledge it. His awareness skills, he was told, were something he needed work with, but the base level was not zero.
After all, every mention of you brought upon implications upon implications. At that point, even he would get it. It was just that… it was embarrassing for you to realize it as well, so he tucked the reason he was very well-aware existed at the back of his mind.
Unfortunately, you already realized it, too.
With the silence that followed, you decided to continue.
“Malleus told me to keep this a secret, but it didn’t feel right,” you admitted, somewhat cautiously, like the man would be able to hear you break a promise, “so I’m telling you now. He was asking me what I thought about you, mostly, or what I felt. Anything to gauge if the two of us were actually in a relationship or if there was some way to set us up or get us together.
“It’s nice that he cares, but, you know, still a little shocking to have some world famous celebrity come up to you and ask you about your intentions with his bodyguard. Shouldn’t it be the other way around?”
“I have to apologize,” Sebek said, unsure of who, if there was anyone, really, to blame for the situation. He knew you had started it by appearing in their sights during the fanmeet, but he was the one who brought you up, and… Sebek was loathe to so much as think it, but even his seniors played fault, too, no matter how well-meaning they were.
“I’m sorry for bringing you into this. They’re just… I don’t mention anyone other than my family. I’m not exactly the most…” His voice dropped to a whisper, as though unwilling to admit something. “What I’m trying to say is that I hope you’re not off put by me all of a sudden because of this.”
“What? Of course not!” Without a second even passing you had countered the idea immediately, and in the evening, the sun had shone in his heart once more. “I was worried you would be put off by it! I mean, you never… I mean I like having you around, so it would kind of, really suck if you stopped because of, you know.”
You waved your hands around, unable to find the appropriate word. Sebek, articulate as he tried to be, understood the feeling this time around.
“No, no! It’s not a big deal to me! These kinds of things happen all the time in the entertainment industry, I’ve heard all the complaints first hand! If they’re mentally strong enough to handle all those rumors about them, then something this small shouldn’t bother me, nor should it you!” he proclaimed, and you nodded your head in agreement.
“Thank the Sevens… I was seriously worried… You’re too important to me.”
Sebek stiffened in place. For a moment, he thought he would burst into… something, maybe flames, maybe an explosion, just something crackling and sparking and sparkling. You looked like you had expected him to shout, too, but when his voice had left his throat it had cracked like he was going through puberty once more. Uncertain, unsure, unconfident—words that he believed had long left his vocabulary since.
“I’m important to you?” Sebek did not quite realize it then, but he asked not for a clarification but a repetition. He heard it right, but what he needed was to hear it again.
“You’re important to me, Sebek.”
Sebek’s face was colored a bright red—he can see it through the nearby window’s reflection, hazy as it may be at this hour.
It’s through that reflection, too, that he realized his hands had been shaking, torn between wanting to cover up his face and the smile growing back on it, to trying to hold onto… something, someone. He settled for curling one up in a fist, then clutching the lapels of his suit jacket the other.
“I SEE! I SUPPOSE I…” He tried to respond with his usual bravado, but he could not compel himself to do it this time around. “Ahem, I…”
“Hey, you don’t have to–”
“No, let me say it,” he interrupted quickly. Your consideration was always appreciated, but he wanted to make things fair, to make sure you understood. “To you, I feel the same. You are… You are someone I…
“You are precious to me.”
“Ah?” You let out a huff, some kind of sound of disbelief. He can’t blame you—he had meant to echo what you had told him for it would be the truth anyway, and yet a different statement had come out instead. “I thought you were going to say… Seriously…!”
Then, you shut the door on him. Before Sebek can so much as worry if he had suddenly ruined everything, you go from leaning against the counter—the transparency of the door had ruined your ability to hide yourself from him—to stomping right back up to the door, opening it wide.
“I’ll see you tomorrow. Please stay safe on the way back,” you breathed out, somehow looking more frazzled within such a short time frame.
“Of course I will.”
“Okay. Good.” Then, you do something he had only seen people do in the movies, something he had thought would never happen in real life, much less to him.
You pulled him closer by his tie, almost as though you had wanted to drag him right back inside with you. Instead, though, you tug just strong enough to make him jolt forwards, letting him do the work of aligning himself to be right in front of you. With an anticipation he had never felt before, he abruptly shut his eyes, not knowing what else to do.
Unlike the movies, you don’t leave a kiss on his lips. Because you are friends, and most friends don’t just… do that, he thinks. However, the chaste peck you leave on his lips does not feel that friendly either.
There’s room for doubt, of course, because you are one of the only friends he even has, and the feelings he has with you have felt different than everyone else, but he just knows, for once not with his mind but with his heart, that he should not have felt that way receiving a kiss on the cheek from someone he saw as… as…
“Good night!” you shouted, emulating his usual volume, before running back inside, actually trying to hide yourself from him this time.
On the drive home he tries to simply move past everything, but the whole event—the whole night, really—just keeps replaying in his head like a broken record. The stoplight is green and he’s thinking about how you’re such a wonderful friend and that you were exhibiting normal friend behavior. The stoplight is red and he has one hand off the steering wheel, too busy keeping it next to the cheek you had kissed.
Sebek tried to move on, really, but the thing is—
It’s almost one in the morning, so it’s a given that all the stores are closed. Some stores, however, keep the lights in their display windows open. He never would have noticed it before, but with Silver’s voice ringing in his head, it taunts him now.
—Sebek’s not very good at moving past anything.
Sebek didn’t believe in magic, he was a little too old for that, but that did not stop him from believing you might have cursed him somehow, maybe put some kind of magic in that tumbler you gave him, or the sweets he definitely did not enjoy that much and only ate for the dose of carbohydrates he needed.
It had to be some kind of curse, because why else was he actually heeding Silver’s advice—Silver, of all people!—regarding what kind of gift you might enjoy. Why was he pulling up his maps application for a store he had never even known existed until he passed by it some nights ago while thinking about you! Isn’t that crazy?!
“I can type it, you know,” you offered, comfortably strapped with a seatbelt at the back of his car. “Not that I know where we’re going in the first place, but…”
“I’ve got it,” he insisted, having already saved the address previously. “You’ll see. It’s just ten minutes away from here.”
“Should I be nervous?” you asked with a short laugh, “I feel like I should be, especially since I’m strapped so securely at the back of your car instead of, you know, the front next to you.”
“It’s what I’m used to, so it was just my instincts telling me to make you sit there,” Sebek admitted, “you can sit at the front if you want later.”
“Nice! Still don’t know where we’re heading, though. I don’t recognize the store name you inputted.”
“I passed by it while driving home one time,” while I was freaking out thinking about you kissing me, except not really the type of kissing people expect when they hear the term kissing, except it felt like a real kiss to me anyway !
“I thought you might like some of the items they sold there.”
“Aww! Since when were you such a sweetheart?” you cooed, and Sebek used the excuse of being too busy paying attention to the road to respond to what you said.
“I’m surprised you’re free today, though, since you don’t seem like the type to skimp out on work. You give me the vibes of someone who would try to train somehow by going to the gym or something when you have a break.”
“That’s true,” he replied, “though I’m not some kind of musclehead, if that’s what you’re implying!” he said, “I also do other things, though, like dropping by bookstores in the area, or attending interesting lectures in my alma mater, or–”
“–or seeing your favorite café owner after hours?” He looked at you through the rear-view mirror, watching you eye him expectantly. You might even be pouting—he’s not sure, he doesn’t want to spend too long looking at your mouth. He sighed.
“No, I do that even when I don’t have days off,” he corrected you, “It would be more accurate to say that I also spend my afternoons with a café owner, now.”
“What’s with the aversion to calling me your favorite? Do you have another café owner friend that I have to worry about?” you complained, more as a joke than anything, but Sebek felt compelled to appease you anyhow.
“Accusing me of being disloyal? How insolent!” he huffed, “Did I waste my paid leave on you after all?”
Sebek was lucky he was the one behind the wheel, considering you looked just about ready to slam the horn of the car… or slam him against it, he can’t be sure.
“Wait, I thought you were free?!”
“I AM! Why do you think I’m here? I took a leave, which means I’m free for the rest of the day!”
“I thought it was just a day off or something! Like, Malleus told you you didn’t have to accompany him anywhere or something!”
“I mean he did tell me that, or else I would be working.” He rolled his eyes, because was it not obvious that he would not just skip work if he felt that he was needed? He did not even think he would be ALLOWED to. “I’m healthy enough to never be ill so I don’t use them up. If anything, they were very much alright with letting me take a leave once I told them my reasoning.”
“Well when you put it that way,” you laughed, “they probably think you’re getting time off to take me out on a date or some–SEBEK EYES ON THE ROAD!”
“Don’t spring up something like THAT on me all of a sudden!” His hand gripped the wheel tightly, chest heaving as he very nearly ran a red light. “Not that you’re wrong, but, you know!”
“I definitely won’t while we’re on the road,” you muttered, tearing your eyes away from him to look outside of the window, “but, like… You know they’re going to ask you about today later, right?”
“I have time to figure out how to word my report.” He cleared his throat, “Okay, wait, we’re here. You can step out and head in already, if you want. Parallel parking is… parallel parking.”
“No, no, I want to see how long it takes you,” you snickered, “come on, if you want to boast about being a terrific driver, this is essential to perfect.”
“Heh, you think you’re so cheeky and clever. This is why I shouldn’t favor you over anyone else—you’re too keen on taking advantage of it!” Ignoring that he had essentially admitted that he did favor you, he shooed you out of his car. When it came to parking properly, he had to use all of his mirrors and… Honestly, he was a little terrified he’d damage someone’s car because he miscalculated, distracted by your presence.
It takes him three minutes, which is way better than his latest record of four. He thinks it might be because he doesn’t want to keep you waiting, knowing he wouldn’t want to be kept waiting, too.
“Sebek, look!” You tugged onto the sleeve of his sweater as soon as he entered the store, attempting to navigate him carefully through the aisles, shelves filled with fragile objects and breakables that neither of you wanted to pay for.
Taking him to a more secluded area, you pick up a mug to show him.
“Doesn’t it look like you?”
“Because it’s green?” he deadpanned.
“No, no, look closely at the crocodile!” you argued. It was hard not to look closely since you were waving it right in front of his face. Other than the similarity in colors, he’s really not sure how it’s supposed to be him.
“I don’t see what you’re talking about.”
“I’ll make you see it then,” you proclaimed, “I’m getting it, then I’ll serve all your hot drinks with this mug so you’ll be forced to stare right at it. Then, you’ll realize I’m right.”
“You’re getting it because it looks—because you think it looks like me?! What kind of reason is that?” he coughed, pretending he did feel the least bit flustered by you. He took you here because he thought you might appreciate getting some nice mugs or plates or something for your cafe, and the first thing you pick out is something for him?! Isn’t that just unfair?!
“Oh, and I’m getting this one as well!” His eyes follow your fingertips, seeing you point at a mug themed after a brown rodent. Given that the animal-themed mugs seemed to be in alphabetical order, then that one was…
“You know capybaras are too big for crocodiles to swallow, right,” he explained, wondering if you were being purposeful in your selections thus far, “that’s why they can swim in the same waters.”
“In my heart of hearts that means they have a close relationship! Which means, I’ll be using that mug from now on, thank you very much,” you grinned at him, and all Sebek can do is take the two mugs from you, a lot more careful with his hold than he usually is. He’s pretty sure there’s only one left of the designs you’ve picked out, so it would be troubling if anything had happened to them.
“I can’t say I would have picked THESE out, but we went here for you, after all,” he began. He really did think there were designs more to his taste, like the squirrel themed one he saw by the display window, but he did not take his leave to go shopping for himself.
He was heeding Silver’s advice by getting you something practical you could use and, well, this was what he had thought of.
“So if you like these, then we’ll get them.”
“Wait… Sebek, are you offering to pay? I…” you trailed off, clearly remembering something. “No way… Is this about the tokens of friendship? You never forgot about that?”
“I use the tumbler you give me all the time. It’s pretty good for when I need something to drink during workouts, or keeping my drinks warm,” Sebek explained, “I wanted to get you something you could use all the time, too, so if you’ll let me pay, I’d be more than happy to!”
“I’ll think about it… I’m definitely not letting you pay for anything else I pick up, but if it’s those two…” you hummed, not giving an answer right away.
That was fine by Sebek, who had made a numbered list in his head of things he could do for you as some sort of… he didn’t know how to describe it. Something to prove himself to you, he supposed. Impress you, maybe, or simply make you happy with him. Happy in general.
“You know, I’ve heard people talk about whether people should split the bill on a date or not, but I never really hear discussions about whether people should give gifts or not,” you laughed, “not that this is a date, but the same principle applies.”
You’re walking away from him, perusing the rest of the ceramics and metals, and it’s then the impulsiveness wins in him.
“I MEAN, IT’S NOT LIKE–” He forgets himself and where he is, but you’re walking right back up to him, so he supposes his volume was alright in the moment. When you’re close enough, though, his voice drops to just above a whisper. “It’s not like it can’t be a date. You don’t have to insist that it isn’t.”
“Well you didn’t call it one when you popped the question all of a sudden at five in the morning!” you argued, “Wait, you’re not saying date as in platonic date, right? I have nothing against it, but I don’t want to misunderstand–”
“I meant it in a… in a… You know! The not-just-platonic way!”
“Romantic?” you supplied helpfully… or maybe unhelpfully. He knew the word! Saying it out loud, in public, was just embarrassing for him! Not embarrassed of you or his feelings or anything, just embarrassing in general. He wondered how the leads in those dramas and movies and books made it look so easy when it was the most nerve wracking thing he’s done since his job application!
“Yes, romantic!” he exclaimed, suddenly grateful that there were no other customers besides them, and suddenly uncaring that the only other person—the cashier—could hear him. “If you want!”
“I’ve extended my café hours from eleven in the evening to midnight for you, in case you haven’t noticed,” you informed him, “Do you think I just added salmon pasta to the menu on a whim? Obviously I only added it because you said you liked it!”
“Well you’ve never told me that!”
“Well, should I go ahead and tell you now? Sebek Zigvolt, terribly intelligent, incredibly cute, and occasionally dense, I–”
“Wait no!” He notices his grip tighten on the mugs, and he softens it just in time before any chips or cracks could appear on either one. “Not that, you know, I don’t… We shouldn’t say that here.”
“Why not?” you asked, not offended but certainly curious.
“I want it to be more… special?” he cleared his throat, “Not that it can’t be, since you’re here, but I want to be more prepared when I say it, or when I hear it. Whichever comes first.”
“Okay,” you responded, nodding in understanding, “yeah, maybe this was a little out of nowhere. We don’t want to have regrets or anything.”
“No, we don’t,” he agreed. As much as he thought he would not regret any of his feelings for you, he did not want you to look back at this day and wish he had admitted his feelings for you some other way. He needed it to be perfect. “I’m glad we’re on the same page. About this and about, ah, our feelings… Right?”
“Right!” You left little room for doubt with your answer. You never seemed to when it came to Sebek. While he had absolutely no plans to admit it to your face anytime soon, he appreciated the lengths you went to make sure he would never misunderstand you or your intentions. Just as he was a man devout to chosen people, he was a man prone to doubt.
“That said… Is your offer to count this as a date still up for grabs?”
Sebek Zigvolt was well into his twenties, so the idea that he was back to talking to an inanimate object—a mug of all things—was bizarre to him. Downright embarrassing, actually. Sometimes he found himself regretting buying that squirrel-shaped mug, but you were just way too convincing and now he uses it to store his toothbrushes. Wonderful.
“Should I do it today?” he asked. It had no mouth so it could not speak, but the painted-on eyes staring back at him held a resounding no.
“You’re right. Domesticity is one thing, but is it not too casual to confess in my apartment of all places…?” he murmured.
He checked his teeth for any food or stains one last time—old habits die hard when your parents are dentists—before leaving the bathroom.
“Thanks for letting me have lunch here,” you told him. You’re putting your shoes back on already and it reminded him that he, too, had to get back to work in a short while. “It’s hard to have a relaxing meal in my own café sometimes. I feel like I’ll end up doing work instead of eating.”
“And that would be no good! One must always rest without the distraction of work in the midst!” Sebek declared, walking over to the dining table, finding that you had already washed the dishes without him. You even remembered where he hid the towels—it took you longer to find them last time.
“Exactly, so I hope you don’t mind me coming here again. Though, if you’re free, I also know a good–”
A knock on the door interrupted the both of you. Sebek frowned, immediately reaching for something he could use to whack someone with in case of an emergency. Meanwhile, you walked over there without any hesitation.
“I’m already heading out anyway, so I might as well,” you explained, partially unlocking the door to get a peep of who was outside. “Oh. Silver, right?”
SILVER?! What was that man doing outside of his apartment? Not that he’d never been, but still! Couldn’t he have at least sent a text or call warning him? How rude, especially since he had a guest over, and…!
Oh Sevens, he had you over, and Silver saw.
“That would be me,” the man replied, face less stiff than usual. His expression is somewhere in between actually smiling and trying to de-widen his eyes. “You’re Sebek’s…”
“Yeah, let’s leave it at that,” you laughed sheepishly, “I assumed you would be Silver because of the hair. You probably get that a lot. Anyway, SEBEK! YOUR FRIEND IS HERE!”
“WHY ARE YOU SHOUTING,” he shouted, “I CAN SEE HIM.”
“THEN I’LL LEAVE YOU TO IT,” you shouted back, “I’LL GO BACK TO WORK NOW.”
You unlocked the door fully now, allowing Silver to enter, you to exit, and Sebek… to also exit right after you. He knew it was not very hospitable of him to leave Silver to tend to his apartment, but it would only be for a minute anyway! The INTRUDER could handle himself for that long!
“Hold on,” Sebek called out to you, grabbing hold of your hand. “I should give you a proper farewell. It’s good manners.”
“You’ll see me again later anyway,” you laughed, “okay, come closer.”
Sebek’s gotten himself into a certain routine, he would put it, one that he loathed to break. Routine was routine for a reason, and there was no reason for him to not abide by it. What must be done shall be done.
You pressed your lips just next to his, narrowly avoiding them in favor of the corners where his smile lines were. Sebek suddenly wanted to go on a run so he could blame the sudden spike of his heart rate on the physical activity.
“I’ll see you later,” you said as you pulled away—from his face, from his hand, from him. This would have been the part where he would have offered to either drive or walk you back, but…
He sighed as he went back into his apartment. He wanted to muster up a frown for Silver, but he was still too giddy to stop himself from smiling in time.
“Who said you could make yourself home in my place?” Silver, seated on his sofa and idly watching the news on his television, looked back up at him with a cup of coffee in his hand. Thankfully not one of the few cups you’ve brought and left in his apartment, but still. “And why are you here anyway?”
“I was nearby, so I thought it would be more efficient to ride together. Save gas, it’s better for the environment.” The man took a sip of his coffee (without sugar or cream or milk! Just how did he manage?), humming appreciatively. “Huh. Your partner’s pretty good at this.”
“That’s true,” Sebek replied, and then realized his mistake. “But, like I said, the two of us are NOT in a relationship.”
“There’s no point in lying, if you’re worried about being professional, since we don’t have a no-dating policy to abide by, unlike some talents out there,” Silver countered. That was NOT the issue though, unbeknownst to the man.
“I would NOT lie about this to you, and even more so to Sir Malleus and Sir Lilia!” he insisted. “We’re currently dating!”
“Dating. No label yet. Like courting. There is a difference!” He said it like it was incredibly obvious, even though he had not realized there was a difference between going on dates and being in an official relationship before you had told him about it.
“Ah, well… As long as you’re happy.” Sebek wasn’t sure if Silver actually understood correctly, but he nodded his head anyway.
“Exactly. I feel happy, so you don’t have to pry.”
That was what Sebek told him, but, if he’s being honest… He really does want to confess soon. It’s why after a moment of silence, he caves—
“BUT… You know, if you have any advice, I would listen attentively. Even if it’s subpar. Your previous advice regarding the gifts were decent, so I would not be against hearing what you would have to say.”
Actually the advice was more than decent, considering it somehow led him to being one step closer to being with you romantically, which was more than he ever could have hoped. However, he did not want to give Silver the satisfaction and credit, so he would not say as much.
“You could have just said thank you…” Silver deadpanned, shaking his head.
Sebek should have realized that the perfect place, the perfect time, would be that which was both special and familiar to the both of you.
He’s reading through a small binder of papers his boss had given him. He’s red-faced, slightly frustrated, but extremely focused at each and every word and line and note written in the margins, eyes intense like the words were his prey, his meal, like consuming the words would mean he would embody them.
You clearly notice how his attention’s been completely captured by the papers in his hand considering you call him out for it. You never used to ask considering he sometimes held confidential documents, things even he can’t tell you, but you can’t seem to hold your curiosity this time around.
“My boss gave me his scripts,” he replied, “to clarify, he selected a few scenes from some of the movies and dramas he’s acted in.”
“You don’t seem as excited as I thought you would be.”
“It’s not that I’m not grateful!!! Being able to have papers from the original copy is wonderful! I’m sure these count as prized possessions!” he exclaimed.
But the reason his boss gave them to him was embarrassing! His employer is terribly generous and kind, as expected, and maybe a little later he’ll be elated about being gifted them, but the fact that Malleus gave them to him so he could get an idea of how to confess to you simply made him want to shrivel up and wither.
A part of him didn’t want to explain it to you at all, perhaps think up some excuse on the spot, but he knew that honesty was important in all relationships, so he shouldn’t hide it from you.
There’s also the fact that he’s not the best liar, but that’s entirely irrelevant.
“I told you that I wanted to wait for the perfect time to confess, so I would have the right words to explain my feelings for you this time around… But I’ve been having difficulty formulating the perfect order of words, order of sentences.” Sebek was bashful at the admission. Even though he knew it not to be true, he sometimes felt that you were better at conveying your feelings for him than he for you. He felt repressed by comparison, even though he did his best to showcase his affections whatever way he could.
In him was the desperate need to not just make you feel how you made him feel, but to make sure you understood just how you have charmed him; that, at times, his heart was more yours than his.
“With that, Sir Malleus, or perhaps Silver or Sir Lilia—who’s to say who made the suggestion—gave me a few scenes to read so I could be inspired to finally confess my feelings to you.”
“Oh!” you looked somewhat pleased by his response, Sebek thought with relief. At least you’re not upset that, after all this time, he’s still having trouble to the point that he’s trying his luck with external sources. “Well, do you think it’s effective?”
“I can’t say for sure,” he replied, “the lines are well written themselves! It’s just… Imagining myself saying them feels off, to say the least.”
“Well, you don’t have to restrict yourself to imagining,” you told him, “you can actually say them out loud.”
“In front of you?!” He would have done a spit take had he been drinking a beverage, which would have humiliated him and ruined his chances of ever confessing to you, he dramatized in his head.
“It won’t count as your confession. Just think of it like a read through! Hasn’t Malleus ever made you do that while practicing his lines?”
“He has… So I suppose I do have some experience in this matter, even if it’s nothing professional,” he nodded to himself, arriving at a decision. “Yes. Alright. Well, have at this—I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be…yours…”
“Well, the line itself was rather captivating, and I liked the way you said it, although…” you stifled a laugh, “You looked so serious reading the script that I can hardly call it heartfelt.”
“That line wasn’t in the book the movie was an adaptation of,” he pointed out, a factoid he just happened to know. “I was just reminded of it while reading the script… I wonder if the line is too direct? What about… Anyone who has seen your smile has known perfection. You instill grace in every common thing and divinity in every careless gesture.”
“Very poetic,” you nodded, then joked, “if you ever consider switching careers, I’ll be your most toxic and supportive fan. I’ll go carry around your polaroid by daylight, then fight your antis by midnight.”
“How silly,” he shook his head, pretending he wasn’t a little flattered, even if it was a mere joke. “You already have a polaroid at the back of your phone case, remember?”
“Correction! Of us, not of you! Which, putting it that way, might be even better!” you laughed, “Though no point of using that against me when you have your copy tucked nicely in your wallet.”
“I’ve been meaning to take it out.”
“Sebek, you decorated it. With stickers your parents gave you when you had your last check up.”
“I TOLD them I was too old for stickers, but they insisted on giving me a sheet anyway!” he said, a well-prepared excuse in case you asked, “It would have gone to waste!”
“Of course,” you chuckled, “remind me to ask for a sticker sheet the next time I go to the dentist. Maybe I’ll even go out of my way to go to your parents’ clinic so we could match.”
“You’re ridiculous,” and terribly, terribly sweet and lovely, but ridiculous nonetheless.
“You love me anyway!”
“I’m not sure why I do.”
“Just like that!” Sebek doesn’t get what you’re on about, and he doesn’t for a while, even as you’re grinning at him, cheerful, beautiful. Honestly, he wishes he knew so he could do or say it again.
“Just like what?”
“Sebek, you just told me you loved me.”
“Had I?” he asked, voice a little shaky. Had he truly? If that was really the case, what an uneventful confession! How regretful and simple and incredibly plain, and–
“I’m not sure if you’ve ever considered this, but I don’t really need anything grand or incredibly put together.”
You take the papers from his hands, gently putting them to the side so his hands could hold yours instead. Sebek adjusts his grip; holds them more delicately—just tight enough a grip to feel that it’s truly you he’s holding, but loose enough to keep you comfortable. Your hands are precious; as is all of you. Not a prized possession for you cannot be possessed, but something to be treasured regardless.
“I feel that you deserve it, though,” he argues, a little forlorn, “I would speak my thoughts if I could. My mouth does not have the eloquence my brain has, I think.”
“You can try regardless,” you say, “it’s something I love about you. That in spite of failure, you will try and try.”
You, endeared to him beyond the limit he thought possible, had little trouble in convincing him. How could he, eager to impress you and eager to prove himself to you, refuse such a request? How could he when you tell him there is something about him you love, to state that there is love in your heart for him? How could he not attempt to say the same?
If it is for you, then he will swallow down his pride and try.
“In the past, I had wondered if the feelings I felt for you were that of romance or if I had been influenced by the opinions of others, if I even understood what romance was. Everybody knows that not all movies and books are true to life, and I was afraid I had misconstrued my feelings of friendship—for friends, to me, were few and far between—with attraction, if attraction was misconstrued with love.
“But it had dawned on me, what I had felt for you, that night you had first kissed me.” He peels his eyes away from your own momentarily, pained an action as it is, glancing at the entrance. “The first night, I excused my constant thinking about it, about you, to the new feeling I had never experienced before. The second night, I was still thinking of you, and I excused it as simply wanting to sort out my thoughts as to what that action meant for you, all your intents and purposes.”
“And now?” His eyes returned to you, idly watching your lips move as you spoke. “What realization had you come to?”
“Even now, after several phases of the moon have come to pass, I still think of you—night and day, morning and evening. Nothing has left, for the only change would be the growth of my feelings.”
There is nobody else in the café, and yet he drops his voice to a whisper, as though not even the air would be allowed to hear what was meant for you and you alone.
“I am sure more than ever, for how long I have tried to dispute or explain away my feelings, the tests I have done to make sure I could only be genuine with you… Tried and tested, tried and true, my heart and my soul is truly yours.”
You pull your hands away. The loss is mourned.
He thinks you’re saying something. He thinks and not knows because his ears stop working, just for a moment; among the vessels of his senses, only his eyes remain attuned, fixated on the way you stood from your seat, ridding yourself of the distance the coffee table forced between the two of you. It is only when you press your forehead against his that he feels everything again.
“Have I conveyed it to you?” he breathes out, pleading, “Do you understand me?”
“You never should have doubted yourself. I understand you perfectly,” you reply, smiling softly. “So let me make myself understood by you, too.”
end notes | masterlist of all my works |
other sebek fics
-> (the stories told, the charm you hold)
-> (capture my heart, my voice into art)
-> (stick to the script)
[ 1 ] Title comes from the phrases "tried and tested" and "tried and true", which I just combined with the sign off "yours truly".
[ 2 ] The AU idea came to me when I saw people make fancams of the bodyguards and back-up dancers of idols. It was kinda cute. I think they really deserve a lot of appreciation. Then the idea grew from there!
[ 3 ] For everyone’s ages, I sort of imagined Sebek and Silver to be in their 20s, basically typical post-college age. Malleus I’m not sure, let’s say 30s, and Lilia will be ??? (no one knows his age he has hid the documents). Basically they’re all working adults.
[ 4 ] Malum in se: wrong or evil in itself; sinful and wrong by nature (as opposed to malum prohibitum, which means something is wrong due to law dictating it).
[ 5 ] The first quote Sebek says is ripped from the Sense and Sensibility adaptation. Spoilers! Many think that the famous confession line, “I come here with no expectations, only to profess, now that I am at liberty to do so, that my heart is and always will be...yours," is also in Jane Austen's book, but it's actually just in the movie! I actually like the adaptation and the line, by the way! Just a fun fact!
[ 6 ] The second quote is altered to be gender neutral. It's from Edmond Rostand's Cyrano de Bergerac. The original is, "Anyone who has seen her smile has known perfection. She instills grace in every common thing and divinity in every careless gesture.'
[ 7 ] Fun fact! Malleus purposefully chose scenes from book adaptations since he knows Sebek is a reader, so he would appreciate it more.
[ 8 ] I actually had a lot of ideas for this fic and universe in general that I just can't fit in so maybe I'll revisit it some other time with one of the other Diasomnia boys.
last edited: 19/03/2023, for misspellings, changing cafe -> café