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I don’t mind if you don’t

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It had been late afternoon and her last class had released for the day when she saw him waiting by the gates to the school.  Though brief, Daisy took delight in his pleasantry.  The words that flowed from Barbatos' lips were their usual, an alluring mix of charm and roguish teasing.  Not one to step down from a battle of wits, even if it was for a short minute in time, sparks tended to fly when the two met.  The only difference was that during this short-lived conversation his usual combination smooth speech and banter had tucked within its layers an invitation to join him topside on the surface of the Earth. 

 

The outing had been framed as a way for her to experience a bit of sun given the time of the year where he had been tasked to treacle to by the Prince.  His parting smile had given her absolutely nothing to go off of in order for her to gauge his actual intentions for the invitation.  Daisy had huffed at the barely contained delight in his eyes as he watched her facial features struggle to stay composed. 


Not that she was expecting him to give anything away, if she was to go by their previous games of cat and mouse.  Between the two of them neither was ever truly the cat or the mouse for long.  She had found herself accepting before she even realized she had done so.  Not so much for the sun, but for the company.  

 

In spite of his serious nature, he showed care and prudence in each task as they went from store to store.  His face was focused and pensive as he moved down the list, checking each item off with a practiced ease that came from ages of serving his Lord.  She enjoyed the serene and tranquil presence he exuded, even when he wasn't truly aware of it or consciously doing it for her benefit. 

 

Daisy felt she was his shadow, content to move along behind him all the while watching him show the same level of focus and commitment to such a menial task that he gave every day serving the Prince.  This was a rare chance to study him without him returning the favor and she was going to use every moment he offered her to do so unabashedly.  Cute was possibly never a word she thought she could use to describe the diligent butler.  However, it was the only word that came to her mind as she watched him work.      

 

Due to this level of drive and commitment he gave all things in his day to day life, the tasks we’re completed as efficiently as possible despite the lack of challenge they imposed.  She wondered in the back of her mind if this was because of the low level of difficulty or if it was because he had asked her out on a date.  The faster they completed the original reason for being sent up to the surface, the more time they had to spend together before their return.     

 

The sun had been crawling slowly towards it's zenith as the pair had walked close together towards the west entrance of the Boston Common.  As they passed through a pair of stone pillars flanked by a black wrought iron fence the wide spanning branches of assorted native trees stretched out overhead.  Despite the shade offered throughout the grassy expanse of the Common, it did little to offer a much needed respite from the sun's harsh gaze.   

 

For a moment Daisy had a flash of regret.  She had been the one that insisted they get off a stop early despite the T having a stop that would put them almost directly on the Aquarium's doorstep.  But she had a desire to show Barbatos some of her favorite spots that were along the way.  It should have been easy enough to pick a few of her favorite sights as they walked towards their destination at the edge of the harbor.  All of her earlier plans had overridden the rational thought that should have been forefront on her mind. 

 

The weather would punish them ruthlessly while they traveled to and from outside in such a way that would make her beg to be sent back to Devildom. 

 

He had done his best to not show any of his discomfort at the blinding rays that threatened to scorch everyone from on high, human and demon alike.  Despite the oppressive heat, the sun seemed to be the only thing that caused him discomfort.  After all, he was a demon.  Jealousy rolled through her as thick as the humidity that weighted heavy in the air.  Even in New English the peak summer months could quickly become sweltering with little to offset the muggy heat.  Even she, someone who had spent many a summer month outside under the sun in New England, was struggling to remain composed. 

Part of his composure could have been from the fact that his gaze was hidden behind a pair of knock off ray band shades.  She had insisted they stop to get him once they had emerged from the shadowy depths of the T and into the harsh sunlight bearing down on them.  Daisy had also insisted on paying, knowing he probably didn't have the correct currency for the era.  She had simply assumed that given the earlier errand everything had already been pre-paid and the details had been taken care of ahead of time Barbatos probably didn't have any cash on him. 

 

It could be considered a small blessing that she had worn overalls that were shorts.  Despite that, the cotton material still felt like it was plastered to the small of her back as they walked.  It was a small blessing she had opted that morning while dressing to go for a tank top to wear underneath.  She wasn't sure if she could stand wearing a t-shirt during this record breaking heat wave.  Daisy also thought about how she would have to get a small gift for Asmo, a thank you for insisting she wear lighter makeup that wouldn't smear or sweat off her face.  He probably thought it was for other various activities he thought they would do instead of being so practical.  

 

But that didn't mean she had to enjoy being practical for every part of her outfit.  As efficient as wearing a pair of high-top sneakers could be, since they had to travel and walk to get to their destinations for the day, she so badly wished she had worn the pair of strappy sandals Asmo had tempted her with.  Blisters be damned. 

 

Thankfully she had managed to wrangle her hair up into a bun with the assistance of a thick polka dot covered ribbon that blissfully kept her wild curly hair up out of her face and off her neck.  A pair of sunglasses adorned her face to offset the sun’s demanding rays, the red circular frames comically large.      

 

Daisy thought she had done her best to keep her surprise to herself when she saw Barbatos in casual clothing when they met up at the appointed time near the palace for their departure to Earth's surface.  But there had been a slight teasing smile on his lips when he took in her slightly widened eyes before she could school her emotions.  It was surreal to see him dressed as such.  She even felt a little under dressed despite Asmo assuring her on the way out of the House that she looked cute. 

 

To be honest, she almost didn't recognize him as he stood waiting for her outside the gates to the Palace.  Daisy had a sudden urge in that moment that there was only one thing and one thing only that needed to be done before the end of their trip.  She needed to take a selfie with him to commemorate the occasion of witnessing the normally impeccably dressed demon in something that wasn't his uniform.  That's not to say even his casual wear wasn't some sense formal. 

 

In fact even when not wearing his uniform, he still showed the same level of dedication.  The simple white button down paired with a slim dark colored linen trouser was pressed to a sharp line and wrinkle free.  His wing tipped shoes were polished and impeccable that had not a single mote of dirt to mar the surface.  The outfit seemed to be helping keeping him cool, but she could see the faint trickle of sweat against his temple as they walked further into the Common.  It only fueled her jealousy more as she did her best not to pout at his ability to withstand the heat.          

 

As they continued to make their way she did her best to keep them both under the welcoming relief offered to them by the trees.  Daisy silently guiding him down along the worn and uneven brick pathway.  Soon they found themselves winding their way through the public garden where the branches of willow trees gracefully draped against the water's edge of a pond filled with heavy laden touristy boat attractions.  They wandered over to a small foot bridge, exchanging glances and hidden smiles while he asked her about the her time spent in the city.   The ease at which they fell into a friendly banter that bordered onto flirting was undeniable, yet neither one seemed in a rush to push it farther seemingly content to enjoy their banter for what it was.

 

She paused midway across the bridge, holding onto the phone she had pre-descent to Devildom with a vague sense of contemplation.  Daisy wasn’t sure if he would agree to a photo, noting that he usually ducked out of the way when cameras came out.  

 

Barbatos paused when he noticed she wasn't walking anymore.  Stepping them off to the side and out of the way of the foot traffic that flowed around them, he waited patiently for her to speak. 

 

"I'd like to take a picture,"

 

"Of the pond?  It is rather lovely,"

 

Her smile was rueful and she couldn't help but shake her head, "While that may be, I was hoping for one of something I find a bit lovelier than that," her fingers automatically waking her phone to put it into selfie mode before she could chicken out.  Motioning with her hand that wasn't holding her cellphone, she leaned in slightly so that they were both in the frame.  "Remember to smile," she turned her head slightly to look up at him, mirroring his slight grin with one of her own.  "I think you're rather charming when you do," she hit the button on her phone at the exact moment their gaze met to capture the bewitching smile he gave her in response. 

He would up the ante, given the nature of their personalities.  Before she could lower the phone, he leaned in until his lips barely grazed her forehead.  She felt her breath catch as a blush crawled up her neck.  Unable, or unwilling, to move she relaxed just a fraction into his touch.  Both of them were starting to come out of their reserved nature around the other and it was making her body feel light at the anticipation of what would come next.  

“Do I need to be the one to push the button?”

 

His teasing tone was enough to shock her into action, her smile pure as she pressed the button to capture the moment of time forever on her phone.  

 

All the while she did her best to not think about how her skin burned from the briefest of touches his skin had left against hers.

 

"Wouldn't you want to take another that is more suitable with just a smile?" he stepped back while motioning to the other couples near them that were doing the same thing they had been.  The smile on his face grew as he watched her, amused at her antics to do her best to ignore him despite the blush growing behind her sunglasses.  

 

Daisy kept her gaze firmly on her phone while her fingers quickly tapped through a few options on her phone to save the images and turn it off.  "It wouldn't hold true to who we are; I don’t believe anything would top those two photos anyway," she told him simply as she tucked her phone back into her purse, content to set them as her background and her lock screen once they returned to Devildom.  Maybe she could find a way to send it to her DDD as well.               

 

Moving along and leaving the bridge behind them, they followed the pathway and it brought them further along into the Common.  Loud shrieks trailed in their wake as they past a wading pond filled with screaming children out with their families seeking relief from the blistering heat that had already settled in for the day despite the hour.  For this part of walk they were mostly silent, each taking comfort in their own thoughts as they strolled close enough to occasionally brush shoulders but mindful enough to step out of the way if an errant child ran underfoot.  

 

It was, unsettling, in a way she couldn't put her finger on as she took in his profile while they walked.  Maybe it was because she never saw him outside under the light of the sun.  Possibly it was the occasional pass of the the cool ocean breeze moving his hair in a way that gave it shape and definition in a way that would never happen down in Devildom.  Daisy felt a bit of apprehension coil tightly within her chest in such a way that held her lungs, it felt selfish in her mind that she would be the only one able to make such a large a request on what to do with the limited amount of free time that had been allotted for them.  He had insisted he didn't mind, she always felt one of her eye's twitch when Barbatos told her he was only here as a task to ensure her satisfaction.  It felt somewhere deep within her that he was being disingenuous to his own hidden desires that lay beyond her grasp.   

 

 

“I know we were only given until the late afternoon, are you sure that this is an okay use of our time?”  

 

Barbatos didn't answer her, instead opting to give her that same alluring smile that irked her as much as it brought a smile of her own to her face. 

 

Hers was far less reserved while she held his gaze.  Daisy felt her smile brightening her face in spite of the discomfort brought on by the heat combined with her anxious thoughts.  

   

 

"We don't have to stay for long at the aquarium, if there was something you wanted to do.  I know you haven't been topside with time to spare," she laughed softly to herself, "in awhile."  She took a deep breath and held up a hand as they continued to walk knowing what he was going to say before he could open his mouth, "Yes, you've said that you don't mind.  I just," she huffed at the smile that grew an inch at her words, "I really want to make sure you're not just saying all those pretty words to make me feel better."

 

His laugh was smooth, a gentle noise that she knew was probably the only genuine thing he had allowed himself to show so far while spending time with her.  "I can assure you," he kept his pace languid to match hers as to not let her fall behind, "I am here because I want to be."    

 

Much to her delight, getting him to agree to stop for lunch at a place she had noticed caught his eye was easier than she thought it would be.  Was it cheating if she had told him she also wanted to try it out?  Either way it worked and kept it from being an ordeal.  Though by the end of their meal she felt completely outclassed by the way he handled his chopsticks in comparison to her own.  Daisy wasn't unfamiliar with them, she simply couldn't hold a candle to his unassuming poise.  What killed her even more was that he didn't seem to take note of the vast gulf between them.  Even if it did allow her to relax and enjoy the meal instead of being stiff and self conscious.  

 

When he pulled out a card to pay for the meal, she gave him a dubious look but only chuckled to herself for making the earlier assumption of him not having the means to pay.  Daisy didn't fight him, but when they made it to the Boston Aquarium's ticket counter, she was prepared and had her card out before he could reach for his wallet.

 

"Welcome to the twenty first century," she gave him a wink that only ignited a heated look in his gaze, "you got lunch, this is on me."        

 

Once they were inside with the blessed AC to keep them cool, her eyes went wide with wonder at all the different types of tanks that were on display.  Barbatos trailed after her - now it was his turn to watch her unabashedly as she gradually made her way from one tank to the next.  

 

He didn't focus on the tanks, or their contents, instead watching as his human companion loitered in front of each display mindful to read each placard from start to finish.  When she would find something she liked, she'd look up and then search around for him with barely contained glee to tell him all about whatever random fact had excited her.  Daisy had been more than happy to tell him about each one of her favorite things all the while asking for his opinion about each exhibit as they made their way around the ground floor.  They continued their stroll talking about the penguins and watching them move about in their open air exhibit below them.  He couldn't help but to react at her endless hidden joie de vivre that she normally kept under wrap, giving her a small smile that had the corners of his eyes crinkling while he watched her. 

 

The two finally came to the main attraction.  The large circular main tank that the building felt as if had been built around it.  They began the walk around the upward spiral towards the top with the same unhurried pace as before. 

 

Maybe it was because of the time of day, but the aquarium wasn't as packed as she had thought it would have been.  Yet Barbatos stayed as close to her as he had while they were walking outside along the busy sidewalks of Boston's financial district.  It took her a moment to realize how close he was keeping to her, despite all the things to do and space to wander.  

 

"Ah," she bowed her head, "I'm sorry, I've been boring you, haven't I?"  

 

"I don't believe you understand the excitement that watching can bring," he paused watching her flush a delightful pink color as she shifted to look away embarrassed, "though I think you may, given the way you have been watching the fish on display.  I am simply keeping my gaze on what I deem to be important enough to watch."

 

Daisy huffed, but then laughed a short note.  "I always do enjoy your silvertongue," she bobbed her head to stem her giggles, "alright, I'll trust you to speak up when you've had your fill."

 

"It won't be any time soon," he smoothly followed up her quip with one of his own, pleased by her chagrined smile she gave him while refusing to back down and look away.  "Shall we?"  He held out his hand, a tentative look on his face. 

 

"I think we shall," she reached out to take his hand.