You'd always been aware of Seto Kaiba.
Of course that wasn't a hard thing. Nearly everyone was aware of Seto Kaiba. He was a teenage CEO, a jackass to everyone he met, and had the tendency to take over the city like he owned it. After his tournament, you would have had to live under a rock to not be aware of him.
That wasn't your type of awareness. You weren't constantly aware of him like a fan who kept praying to meet their idol. Nor was the news your constant reminder of his existence. You saw him in person on a weekly basis, and you kept track of all his dealings with your father's company. You didn't know any more about him than the average person. In fact, you probably knew less. You didn't have to scour the internet for details about him so you never did.
He was part of your life, an unresponsive part of your life but still there. His physical presence in your life was constant ever since you were a little girl.
The first time that you met him, he was visiting your school. He stood out because of his casual clothing. In a private school with enforced uniforms, someone wearing anything different stood out like a sore thumb. The hall was full of students rushing to their next class and talking to their friends, but you still noticed him. He was a lanky boy, not old enough to be an adult but not quite your age either, who seemed to be talking to a teacher. As a nosy little eleven year old, you felt completely compelled to approach him. You wanted to know why he wasn't dressed appropriately for school.
“Are you new here? Aren't you a little too old?”
The teacher standing next to him scolded you for being rude, but the boy carelessly interrupted.
“I'm thinking about going to school here.” Then he turned to the teacher. “Could she give me the tour? I'd like to see the school through a student's eyes.”
“A tour? That sounds like fun!” Especially since it would get you out of all your boring classes.
“I suppose that would be appropriate.” The teacher was clearly reluctant, and you wondered why he was allowing the boy to have his way. Not that it really mattered since you were getting out of your classes!
You grinned and introduced yourself to the new boy.
“Pleased to meet you,” he responded, and you were so excited that you didn't even notice the omission of his name.
You grabbed the boy's hand and started dragging him around the school. There were lots of fun places to hide when skipping classes, and you thought that he should probably know about all of them. He didn't say much, he simply seemed to be observing you the entire time, but you were having fun just running around the school.
He finally talked to you when you showed him how to sneak onto the roof.
“Should we be up here?”
“Nope!” You ran over to the edge and waved at him to follow you. “We're super not allowed up here, but it's got such a pretty view!”
He hesitantly joined you near the edge. “It's nice. Thank you for showing me this.”
“Of course! You've gotta know all the good places to hang out if you're going to go to school here!” Then you realized that the mysterious boy had never told you his name. “Hey! You never introduced yourself!”
“I'm Seto Kaiba. I hope that we can become friends.” He gave you a slight bow and you tried to remember where you'd heard his name before. Then you remembered your father's recent comment about a bratty little upstart who was in control of Kaiba Corporation.
“Kaiba? As in Kaiba Corp? My daddy does business with you!”
He frowned and looked sad. “Well, actually I don't think your father is interested in doing business with me. He keeps refusing to meet with me.”
That was horrible! You couldn't have your daddy making your new friend sad. “Well then you'll just have to come home with me and meet my daddy then!”
In your little girl head, the matter was absolutely decided, and you took him home with you to meet your daddy.
The moment you introduced him he started talking business, and you were amazed at the sudden transformation. He'd been your shy, quiet friend, but then he suddenly started talking like an adult! You were awestruck. Your older brother was the one who was being groomed to take over the company, and you were eleven, so most of what they said went completely over your head but that didn't stop you from trying to pay attention to the conversation. It was completely amazing that this boy could have such an adult conversation with your daddy. Your daddy was very smart so you were convinced that Seto must also be very smart.
At the end of their conversation, your father turned to you and asked you if he should do business with the young Mr. Kaiba.
“Um, well he's my friend, daddy, and I want him to be happy, and it'll make him happy so I think you should!”
Your father turned to Kaiba with a grin. “Well Mr. Kaiba. It seems the matter is settled. If you keep your promises about the amount of profit you can make my company, then I see no reason to stop doing business with your company.”
“It was nice meeting with you, sir. I'll be sure to send over the paperwork tomorrow.”
You realized that your new friend was leaving. “Good-bye, Seto! We should play together sometime.”
Then he was gone.
He never did end up enrolling in your school, but you never forgot him. He spent an entire day playing with you, and by your eleven-year-old logic, that meant he was now your friend. So when you discovered that Kaiba went to the 'adult' parties, you decided that you would go to those parties too! No matter how boring they were or how disgusted you were by the food. If Seto was there, then the parties were sure to be fun. Friends made everything fun.
Besides, your daddy rarely allowed you to visit him at work, and he wouldn't let you go see Seto at Kaiba Corp. You really wanted to play with Seto again.
Knowing that the parties were your only chance, you worked hard to convince your father that you could attend the 'adult' parties with him. He refused to let you go to any of the parties until you could prove that you were mature enough to handle them, and you didn't get permission to go to a party until you were thirteen.
Despite how long it took, you still remembered your friend and you picked out the prettiest dress you could find. It was going to be the night that you finally saw Seto again, you just knew it.
You hoped that he would remember you. It had been two years since you'd first met him, but surely he couldn't have forgotten you. He did still do business with your dad after all. (Which you knew because you kept trying to crash their meetings.)
It only took you a few moments to spot him. Even at seventeen, he was still one of the tallest men present, and he towered over everyone else in the room.
“Dad! There's Seto! Let's go say hi!”
“Mr. Kaiba,” he reminded you. “Not Seto.”
Your father said your name, and you recognized his warning tone in his voice.
“Ok. Kaiba. I'll remember. Can we go say hi, Dad? Please?”
“If it will make you happy.”
You followed your dad over to Kaiba, and you could feel a smile stretch across your face. Maybe Seto would ask you to dance! Oh, it would be so much fun! Your first dance at the adult party with Seto! Secretly you’d spent the past week dreaming that he would dance with you. Different situations played through your head each time, but the general idea of dancing with Seto remained. Even though you hadn't seen him up close in years, he'd been on the news and you knew how handsome he'd become. You weren't sure when your feelings toward him shifted, but you knew that he was the most amazing boy in the world.
Two friends who met when they were little, but didn't see each other for two years would finally reconnect at a party and dance together. The idea was so romantic.
“Mr. Kaiba,” your father greeted while he shook Seto's hand. “This is my daughter.”
“We've met before, Mr. Kaiba,” you delivered the line, just like you'd practiced. Now it was time for him to embrace you like an old friend and tell you to call him Seto. Then he would insist on leading you to the dance floor.
“How could I forget?” His piercing blue eyes looked you over. Then he turned back to your father. “She looks lovely, sir. Now if you'll excuse me?”
“Of course.” Your father nodded, and Kaiba took off.
He'd barely said anything at all to you! What about your dance? You were beginning to feel frantic; this night was not going at all like you'd planned!
“Is that it?” you asked your dad, doing your best to hide your emotions.
He ran his hand over your hair. “Sweetheart, young Mr. Kaiba and I already do business. The point of these parties isn't to socialize with the people you already know. These parties are simply an excuse to talk to people you want to do business with. That's the lesson I want you to take away from today.”
It had been the most disappointing lesson that you'd ever learned, but you had learned that lesson. Your father's words always stuck with you. Parties are an excuse to talk to people you want to do business with. It meant that Seto Kaiba would only talk to you at a party if he wanted to do business with you.
Except, he never would. Your father might have brought you to the parties to show you off, but you weren't going to ever take over the company.
You didn't realize that business extended past paperwork and monetary transactions until you were sixteen. That was the year your father asked you how you felt about the son of one of his partners.
“That's a shame. It would have been to our advantage for you to marry him. He's quite fond of you.”
“He'd be fond of anyone with more personality than a stuffed animal,” you muttered before you realized the full meaning of your father's words. “Marry him?!”
“It was just an idea. Business, nothing more. I'd never force you into anything you objected to.” Your father ruffled your hair affectionately.
As that year went on, many of your friends ended up engaged to men in the business world. As more and more of them told you about their future husbands, you found yourself thankful for having a father who wouldn't force you into something like that.
Your opinion wasn't always shared.
“But, you know it really would be good for your father's company if you married well. I don't understand why your father hasn't found you a suitable man yet.” Kimiko Aihara was nice enough, but you really didn't like the way she always had to have an opinion about your private life. She was better company than her brother but barely.
“Perhaps he can't find anyone suitable and willing to take her.”
You glared at the girl who'd said that. Saito had always been a real bitch, but she'd just gotten worse ever since that large diamond had made an appearance on her hand.
“That's unlikely.” Chiharu was soft spoken, but everyone listened to her. “I hear he's trying to arrange something with Seto Kaiba.”
“Seto Kaiba?!” Suddenly your entire table was whispering.
Kimiko turned to you. “Why didn't you tell me? That would be so amazing! Oh you absolutely must let me be in your wedding!”
“I don't think... I mean...” you stuttered. It was almost too good to be true. Could your father arrange for you to marry Seto Kaiba?
You pulled your head out of the clouds. There was no way. It was like your father told you many years ago: Men didn't do anything if they weren't going to gain something from it. Especially not men like Kaiba.
Kaiba had nothing to gain from you. He rarely even bothered talking to you.
A girl could dream, but that wouldn't make it happen.
You finally managed to gain a few bargaining chips when you were almost eighteen. Your father's company developed some new state of the art technology. It was technology that Seto Kaiba was very eager to get his hands on. Combined with his revolutionary designs, your technology could make him a fortune and push Kaiba Corp. decades ahead of the competition.
Except your father was unwilling to exclusively deal with Kaiba Corp. Seto Kaiba simply wasn't offering him enough money. There were a few other companies who were making offers for the product. Recently, your father and Kaiba had gotten into an argument over the issue. Kaiba didn't want his competition to get their hands on the hardware, and your father had told him that exclusivity wasn't on the table.
You were your father's daughter, and you saw the opportunity before you. Seto Kaiba wanted something, and you could probably convince your father to give it to him. This time you weren't a foolish eleven-year-old, and you were going to get something in exchange.
So at the next party, you approached Seto Kaiba with business in mind.
He simply nodded. “Is your father here tonight?”
“Yes.” You placed your hand on his arm to keep him from walking off on you. “But you don't want to talk to him.”
“I don't? Enlighten me.”
“I know what you want Mr. Kaiba, and I'm your best bet at getting it.”
He tried to pull away from you. “Not interested.”
“Oh.” You kept your face schooled into a careful mask. “Then I suppose you don't want my father's new technology? Pity.”
He froze. “You have a minute. Talk.”
“You want my father's new technology, and you want it to only be sold to Kaiba Corp. You and I both know that my father isn't going to go for that... unless I convince him. I could convince him you know.” You smiled at him. The ball was in his court now.
He took a step toward you, and he was suddenly towering over you. “What would it take for you to convince him?”
This was the part that you had to seriously consider. You knew what you wanted from Seto Kaiba. You wanted him to acknowledge you. You'd been watching him for years, and your crush on him had only magnified. You wanted what any girl wanted from the guy she liked.
Yet, you weren't an idiot. He wasn't going to date you just for your father's technology. Somehow you were going to have to pique his interest in you. You needed an opportunity to convince him that he wanted to date you.
“This isn't the place for that sort of discussion, Mr. Kaiba.”
He growled and grabbed your arm. “Then why don't we take it somewhere more appropriate?”
You pulled away. “Not tonight. Meet me tomorrow for lunch and we can talk more then.” You passed him a card with the time and location. “Until tomorrow.” Then you carefully disappeared into the crowd.
To be honest, you had no clue what you were going to do. You wanted anything and everything you could get from Seto Kaiba. You wanted to mean something to him, as unlikely and ridiculous as the idea seemed. Except that wasn't something you could ask him for.
You were getting in over your head. You knew that, but you just couldn't stop. Not when you knew that you'd be able to get something from him. Not when you thought that maybe if he got to know you, he might start to care for you too. It wasn't guaranteed, but surely, he might start to feel something for you if just spent some time with you.
Lunch the next day was a tense affair. You were reluctant to proposition him, and he was irritated that you were taking so long after forcing him into leaving his office for lunch.
“Just spit it out already!” he finally snapped.
“I want you to take my virginity!” You almost slapped your hands over your mouth. You really hadn't meant to say that. That was the most idiotic and awkward thing you could have said. He didn't need to know the dreams you had about him being the love of your life and the one you fully gave yourself to.
“Excuse me?” He was clearly shocked. That meant you could still take the upper hand.
You just had to be sneaky about it. Obviously you couldn't tell him that you'd wanted him since you were fifteen and had a crush on him since you were eleven. The truth would give him the advantage. It would let him know that he had power over you. So you would have to lie.
“Well, I'm the only one out of all my friends that hasn't had sex yet.” The best lies came out of the truth, and this was the truth. It just didn't happen to be true that this bothered you.
“And you're choosing me?”
You couldn't tell him it was because you'd always wanted it to be him. That for years you'd just wished that he would notice you. You couldn't say that.
“You won't take advantage of me.” Again, true. From his perspective there was probably nothing about you that he would consider worthwhile.
He seemed to be sizing you up for a moment. “Fine.”
“That's not everything!” Seriously, who did he think you were? You were going to get as much as you could out of this. “You need to take me out a few times beforehand. I can't have sex with a complete stranger.”
“Then pick someone else.”
“It's a fair exchange, Mr. Kaiba. You want something from me; I want something from you. Take it or leave it.” You were stubbornly sticking to this. You'd made your demands far more realistic than what you really wanted.
Though you were hoping that maybe somewhere along the line he would start to care for you. You couldn't stop yourself from desperately hoping he would see you as someone with whom he would want to spend time.
“How do I even know I can trust you?”
He had a right to be suspicious, and you were prepared for that. “If you agree to my terms, I'll convince my father to reopen negotiations with you. After... well, after you fulfill your side of the bargain, I'll convince him not to do business with anyone else.”
“How many times do I have to go out with you?”
Oh, you hadn't thought of that yet. You almost wanted to say, 'As many dates as it takes for you to want me too,' but you knew better.
“Two lunch dates, and five dinner dates. This lunch meeting doesn't count.”
He considered your offer. “I get to choose when and where the dates occur.”
You expected that. He needed to feel like he had as much control as possible in all his business deals. This shouldn't be any different. “That's fine as long as you don't half-ass it.”
“It's a deal then.”
You both shook on it.
Your dates sent the press into a field day. Seto Kaiba out with the daughter of one of his business associates? It was a juicy story and people wanted details. Kaiba simply responded with his traditional, 'No comment.' You were always very cordial to the press, so you gave them more to work with than that. When the press liked you, the chances that they would say nice things about you increased. It was another lesson learned from your father.
“We're not seeing each other. They're simply friendly dinners.” You smiled for all the cameras and did your best to politely answer their questions without actually telling them anything.
You eventually brought up the press at your third dinner with him.
“You know, I noticed that the public seems to like you a lot more now.” You were holding up a magazine that proclaimed he wasn't a jackass like everyone believed. “Kaiba Corporation's public image seems to have improved as well.”
“Fuck the public.”
His angry response caught you by surprise. This wasn't how you expected him to react. He should, by all rights, be thinking about how this worked to his advantage. You only brought it up because you wanted him to see the benefits of dating you. Good PR was always hard to come by and important to have.
“I'm sure your publicist loves that attitude.”
“Fuck him too.”
“You know, he sent me flowers with a thank-you card the other day.” You raised an eyebrow at Kaiba. Hopefully the challenge would pull him out of whatever foul mood he'd gotten into. “He thinks that being seen with me is improving your reputation.”
There was a moment of silence, and you almost thought that Kaiba wouldn't take the bait. “I don't give a shit about my reputation.”
This wouldn't do at all. It was unsettling that he didn't realize just how important public relations were. You let the subject drop and changed the topic to Kaiba Corp's newest technology. It wasn't a subject that you had any specific interest in, but you really enjoyed listening to him talk about all his new inventions. Listening to Kaiba talk about the development of all his products reminded you of his sheer brilliance. When he explained the logic that went behind some of his creations, you were barely able to keep up with him, but you could tell that he was a creative genius.
Though, on occasion, he did have to explain some of his more complicated theories to you since you were still in high school and simply hadn't reached a high enough level to understand everything he said. He was surprisingly good at explaining the things you didn't know. You would think that someone as intelligent as he was wouldn't be able to simplify things, but he was so thorough in his explanations that you were actually learning a great deal from him.
Tonight you couldn't get into the discussion. He was being a bit vague, and your mind was occupied.
You thought that he would have seen the benefit in having you around. You were absolutely adored by the public, and his reputation needed a lot of work. Kaiba Corp. may have established itself as the company with the best and most advanced products, but people thought that the CEO was a complete asshole. Other companies were able to compete with him just because people were more willing to buy products from them, not because their products were better in any way.
You would just have to change tactics.
Next time the press asked you about your relationship with Kaiba, you decided to change up your response a little. “I'm sure that any woman would be lucky to date a man like Mr. Kaiba. I'm not fortunate enough to be that woman.” Rather than give the cameras your perfectly constructed smile, you let your true emotions on the matter show. You smiled, thinking of how you only had two more dates left to change his mind. A dinner and a lunch.
The public reacted just like you expected. Suddenly everyone was up in arms, indignant that Seto Kaiba was leading you on that way. His publicist even sent you an email that sarcastically thanked you for screwing him over. You felt bad for suddenly turning everyone on him like this, but you wanted him to see how much the public mattered. His father had built weaponry for the militia. In that field, the public meant nothing, so he probably never taught Kaiba how to deal with them appropriately.
It might have backfired. Kaiba didn't call you again for two weeks. Since you couldn't call him without appearing desperate, you frantically began preparing for a party where you knew he would be present.
You had to fix the mess that you made.
You noticed him the moment he arrived at the party, but you didn't approach him right away. You took your time, conversing with various people as you wandered towards him. When you finally reached him, he was conversing with Mr. Aihara, an older businessman with whom you were actually somewhat familiar.
“There you are! I've been asking Mr. Kaiba here where you've been this entire time!” he greeted you jovially. “My daughter tells me that you and Mr. Kaiba have become quite close lately!”
Even though it was untrue, the news still could have told him that. You were sure that his daughter had put her own spin on the story. Probably pretending that you confided in her or something. As if you would ever tell that snoop anything. Not that you could just call his daughter a liar. “How is your daughter doing, Mr. Aihara? I haven't been able to find her all night.” Of course you hadn't looked for her.
“Oh she's here somewhere!” He looked around and seemed to be confused when he couldn't instantly locate her. “Let me go find her. I don't think she's been properly introduced to Mr. Kaiba!” He ran off, and you sighed in relief before turning to Kaiba.
“So are you backing out of our deal?”
He glared at you, probably not happy that you got rid of Aihara. “It hasn't seemed pertinent for me to be seen with you.”
He was such a hypocrite. Apparently the public only mattered when it worked in his favor. “Did your publicist tell you that?”
“No,” he muttered. “My publicist told me to make a romantic gesture toward you.”
“Then maybe you should dance with me.” You grinned. Maybe you'd get that dance you'd always dreamed of after all.
“No. I don't know what game you're playing, but I refuse to be toyed with.”
You couldn't say that you weren't surprised that he'd caught on to you. To anyone who knew about your feelings for Kaiba, your actions in front of the media were fairly transparent. “I just wanted to show you that the public really does matter.”
“Get over yourself.” He started to storm off, but you caught his arm.
“If you dance with me, the rest of this song and the entirety of the next, I'll count it as our second 'lunch' date.”
It was a bargain. Five minutes of dancing with you instead of an hour sitting with you? You knew that he would take that deal, and take it he did. He led you over to the floor, and soon, the two of you were dancing among the couples.
He'd never danced in public before, and you didn't understand why. He was graceful and confident. You expected him to know how to dance, but you never expected him to be anywhere near this good at it. It was a shame he didn't dance more often.
“I promise I'll say nice things about you when the press asks about this tomorrow,” you teased.
He ignored you and looked over your shoulder at nothing in particular.
“You know, if you look at me, it'll create a better photo for tomorrow's paper. Looking away like I'm boring you will just make people hate you more.”
“They'll get over it.”
You couldn't imagine why he was being so stubborn about the issue. You were handing him good publicity on a SILVER PLATTER and he wouldn't take it because he didn't want to look at you. Could he really find you that ugly? Did you bore him that much during your dates? Was there just something wrong with you?
“Am I really that repulsive?” Your question was loaded with all the insecurity he'd ever made you feel. You almost stumbled as you missed the next step of the dance. You hadn't meant to ask him that. It had come out entirely on accident. You began to panic as you waited for him to say something. He wasn't responding. He wasn't looking at you. He was completely ignoring your question.
Then all of the rejection that he'd ever made you feel pushed its way into the forefront of your mind, and you abruptly stopped dancing. He was looking at you now, but you didn't notice. All the experiences that you'd had with him ever since you were eleven were flashing through your head. All those parties where he simply greeted you and moved on. All those times he ignored you as he walked into your father's office.
He was brilliant. He'd become the CEO of a major company as a teenager, and he'd turned it into an empire. He created product after product and revolutionized every single industry he tried his hand at. Your father even complimented his business skills.
And you were just a girl that he couldn't even bear to look at.
All the training that you had during your childhood demanded that you stay in that room. You heard your father's voice in your head telling you not to cause a scene. You knew that you should be able to stop yourself from crying. You should keep dancing with him like nothing was bothering you. Then you should continue to socialize, smiling prettily like you were enjoying yourself.
You tried to get back into the dance, tried to move your feet to the music, and you missed another step, stumbling as your eyes began to overflow with tears. You were so useless that even your training couldn't stop you from acting like a complete idiot! “I'm so sorry,” you choked out even though you weren't sure if you were talking to Kaiba anymore.
You couldn't hold back the tears anymore. You tore yourself away from Kaiba and ran.
Perhaps your father should have taught you one more life lesson. Never deal with the devil, because in the end, you always lose your soul.