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Guiding Star

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FANFICTION

SPY X FAMILY

Guiding Star

CHAPTER VIII : Puppet

 

Between the constant sound of volleyball bouncing around and the dizziness, Damian eventually dozed off. He woke up towards the end of the last match, between Anya and Bill’s teams. He watched the two go into a frenzy to beat the other. He had to admit one thing to himself: Anya was incredibly athletic, and he oh-so-loved admiring her body. It might have been one of the only times, except for the yearly Eden athletic competitions, where he could openly pine for her, and everyone was too busy to notice him watching her (or so he thought).

 

Loud cheers suddenly resonated, and Anya jumped up and down, covered in sweat from the match she had just won. Bill dramatically fell on the ground, cursing to himself and mumbling on how to improve his skills. Anya went to him and offered him her hand to help him up. They discussed for a few moments before the professors called for everything to be cleaned. The two classes divided their duties, except for Anya and Bill’s teams who were exempt from cleaning duties after winning the most matches.

 

Once everything was cleaned, Damian gathered his belongings, vaguely aware of Ewen and Emile whining about missing the free treats. He started drinking some water when he caught words from some of Wald Hall’s students.

 

“Look at him, he’s so obvious,” one of Bill’s classmates said.

 

Curious, Damian followed their gazes, finally noticing that Bill and Anya were standing on the side, still talking. He frowned, absentmindedly gnawing his teeth around his water bottle’s mouth.

 

“Do you think he’ll finally ask her out?”

 

Damian choked and spit water so suddenly that poor Emile and Ewen ended up covered in water.

 

“Boss-man!”

 

“What’s wrong?!”

 

“What did you just say?!” Damian exclaimed, whipping around towards the two Wald Hall’s students.

 

They stared at him with wide eyes. He ignored the fact that half of the students of both halls had turned their attentions to him.

 

“Uh… we were just…”

 

“We’re wondering if Bill is finally going to ask out Anya Forger out.”

 

“What?!”

 

“Yeah, he’s had a crush on her for years now,” the student answered with a shrug.

 

“WHA–”

 

Damian chocked, cheeks flushed, but not for the usual reasons and that was irksome.

 

“Hold on, Jamie, don’t you it’s Desmond and he’s–” the other student intervened, looking uncomfortable.

 

Said-Jamie turned towards his friend, blinking in astonishment.

 

“I know who he is, but everyone knows Bill likes Forger.” Jamie answered matter-of-factly.

 

Everyone, now enjoying the show, turned towards Damian whose face turned a lovely shade of unexpected jealousy.

 

“Bill likes WHO?!” he exclaimed, sounding furious.

 

Jamie stared at him, wide eyed. He understood his mistake too late.

 

“Ah… sorry?”

 

“BLACKBELL!!”

 

Becky, who was about to leave the gymnasium, turned around, looking annoyed by Damian’s harsh tone. He quickly walked to her.

 

“Did you know about this?!”

 

“…Everyone knows, Desmond. Except you, evidently.” She replied with a deadpanned look on her face.

 

“Y-you! You knew! B-but! And you’re okay with this?!”

 

She blinked. Then she frowned, her aura threatening enough that Damian almost took a step back. Almost.

 

“Of course I’m okay with this! Anya is big enough to know what she’s doing and Bill is a good guy, he’s been nice to her, unlike someone whose name rhymes with barbarian. She doesn’t belong to you.”

 

Damian opened and closed his mouth, but found nothing to reply. Becky left without sparing him another look.

 

Emile and Ewen, cleaned from the water their friend had spit earlier, joined him, looking a little worried for his sake.

 

“…Are you okay?”

 

“Did you really not know Bill had a crush on her?”

 

“He’s been offering her gifts every year for Valentine’s day.”

 

“But she keeps rejecting him, no one really knows why but well, we all suspect it’s…”

 

Don’t finish that sentence,” Damian hissed.

 

Angry at himself more than anyone else, but incapable of figuring out the source of that anger, he left the gymnasium.

 

***

 

Even if she couldn’t read minds, Anya was not a fool, and she knew quite well how Bill Watkins felt for her. But because she could read minds, she knew that his infatuation had started out of strange admiration for her athletic skills… She had thought it’d be a temporary crush he’d quickly get over, but it had been three years and as she opened her mind to his thoughts, she realised that he was more determined than ever, now that they were in high school. She had even caught some thoughts about introducing her to his family which was, according to her, jumping a few steps as she, as far as she could tell, had never encouraged him in the slightest. She only tried to be kind and decent to him, as she often humiliated him in sports (but that only made him more eager, somehow).

 

“So,” she started when they arrived at the end of a quiet hall, “You wanted to talk to me?” she asked with a smile to appear ignorant of his intentions.

 

Bill Watkins, as tall and big as he was, looked small and sheepish as he stood in front of her, red in the cheeks. Anya could almost feel guilty for not feeling the slightest twitch of sympathy for him.

 

“I… well… I’m…”

 

She remained quiet, and patient. It wasn’t the first time someone confessed to her. But it was the first time it was a someone who had liked her for quite some time.

 

I need to confess, I only need to say the words and then I’ll explain to her my plan to introduce her to my family soon!

 

“I was wondering if you would accept my company for the Imperial Scholars’ ball held next Friday!” he exclaimed, standing tall and proud like a soldier.

 

“Oh.”

 

She hadn’t expected that, even while reading his thoughts.

 

“Uh…”

 

I need to be honest with her, or she’ll never accept my attention, he thought, too fast for her to find an answer.

 

“I am aware that you don’t have feelings for me yet, but I have no intention of giving up! I have no regards to your commoner’s origins, my feelings for you are beyond such petty things. You are the only woman who can stand up against me, and better yet! To beat me. Occasionally. You are perfect in my eyes.”

 

He had obviously prepared and rehearsed this speech beforehand, but Anya had not expected the level of embarrassment she would feel. It was so different from other confessions, she considered Bill her friend and she didn’t want to hurt his feelings.

 

“Ah, um… uh… well…”

 

How eloquent of her.

 

“I’m not expecting an answer from you yet. Just think about it.”

 

He bowed to her, in a gentlemanlike manner, then turned around.

 

“Bill! Wait!” she exclaimed.

 

He immediately spun, as if ready to attack, attentive to any emotion she’d show.

 

Anya tightened her lips, finally feeling guilty.

 

“You’re my friend and I… I like you as my friend but… I’m really not interested in you in such… a way.”

 

He stared at her, grave and serious, in a way she hadn’t expected.

 

She has no idea that she deserves much better.

 

She startled upon hearing that thought. Bill narrowed his eyes at this movement, too alert for it to escape his attention. It somehow made him even more determined as he straightened up in all his height.

 

“Anya, I am aware of it. But I also know that your feelings for Desmond, if not unrequited, are aimless. He’s always treated you with disregard and, were he to start courting you, his family would never agree to such an union.”

 

“I’m– I’m not expecting anything from Damian!” she exclaimed, blushing despite herself.

 

Perhaps it was a little bit out of shame to know that, even as an Imperial Scholar, she wasn’t good enough.

 

“Then why are you holding onto these feelings for him? I could give you more, I would treat you much better.” Bill continued, an intense look on his face.

 

“I’m… I can’t control how I feel…” she mumbled.

 

“Of course not. But perhaps you should start considering your future and who will protect you best.”

 

That annoyed Anya. She tightened her fists, staring up at the imposing figure of Bill Watkins, no longer intimidated by his seriousness.

 

“I am not a damsel in distress who needs a man to protect me or ensure my future! I’m perfectly capable of making my own life and my own career by myself! My feelings are my own and I won’t smother them because it’d be more practical!”

 

He opened his lips to reply but she didn’t give him time:

 

“I appreciate your sentiment, Bill, and I am flattered by your feelings for me, but I am not and never will be interested!” she concluded.

 

He stared at her, a little stunned by her strong words.

 

Damn, she’s so determined, I like her even more, he thought with a grin.

 

“ARGH!!” Anya shouted, throwing her arms to the sky before leaving him there.

 

Bill watched her go, even more intent on convincing her that she deserved better.

 

“I never give up a fight, Forger!” he shouted at her attention.

 

Anya had been so focused on Bill’s thoughts that she hadn’t realised that someone else’s thoughts were raging.

 

Damian stepped out from behind a corner, having overheard everything, although it hadn’t been his intention. He stared at the two figures, going their separate ways after that discussion which somehow, had involved him.

 

His anger was gone, but now all he felt was a slimy, uncomfortable shame. He had always thought he had been discreet enough in his feelings for Anya that no one would notice, but apparently, even Bill Watkins was aware of it (unknowingly to Damian, everyone was aware of it and would cackle at his assumption he had ever been discreet).

 

But more astonishing, Bill Watkins seemed to interpret that Anya… felt the same for him.

 

She hadn’t denied it.

 

He should have known, he should have expected it. The way she behaved around him, especially in the last couple of years but he had always thought… he was just being hopeful. And a bit of an idiot. Because in the end, and that was the real cause of his anger and shame, it didn’t matter if he was in love with Anya Forger, or if Anya Forger was in love with him, because they could never be. His brother and mother would never accept it. His father would probably come back to life just to spit in his face how disgraceful it’d be for a Desmond to be with a commoner.

 

The silly puppy crush he had had as a child, and had buried deep in several layers of denial, was as impossible now that he was reaching adulthood as it had been back then.

 

***

 

True to his word, Bill didn’t give up. Now he was openly courting Anya forger and most of Eden Academy was keeping tabs on the evolution of what they called the “love triangle of Eden”.

 

Everyday, for lunch and at the end of the day, Bill would be waiting for Anya. He’d offer her red roses, chocolate, love letters, peanuts, whatever he thought would be a good sign of his feelings for her. Everyday, she rejected his gifts. Even the peanuts.

 

Damian could only watch from afar, incapable of knowing how to handle his feelings, especially the jealousy. He had never been jealous before. He never had to be, it had only ever been Anya and his little world, a magnetic dance between just the two of them, where neither would risk taking another step forward. No one had ever been brave enough to stand between them.

 

As for Anya, she was tiring of Bill’s attentions. As flattered as she was, the entire academy was trying to gossip on her love life, and it was becoming frustrating. Not only she could hear the whispers and giggles, but everyone’s thoughts were so loud. And so, she decided to avoid Bill. It was the best way to have at least one moment’s peace.

 

Between the classroom door and the entrance where he always waited for her for lunch and at the end of classes, there was a small hall with windows open on a courtyard no one ever went in.

 

“I’ll see you in the cafeteria, Becky!” she exclaimed, jumping up on one of the windows.

 

“Anya– wait!”

 

But Anya had already opened the window and slipped out of it, landing easily on the soft grass. She stood up, starting to run to catch up with Becky, but she bumped into a professor. She stumbled backwards and Professor Dunkel watched her with surprised eyes as a pile of notes scattered on the floor.

 

“Miss Forger?” he asked, tilting his head on a side, “What are you doing here, it’s only accessible for professors.”

 

“Oh, I… Well, um.. I got… lost!”

 

She stared at him, trying once more to figure out what was going on in his head… but like always, he was a complete mystery. Such silence, such blankness, it was making her uncomfortable.

 

She chased that discomfort by leaning down to gather the papers and books she had made him drop. Her eye caught sight of several names written down and she frowned.

 

“Why do you have a list of my classmates’ names?” she asked suspiciously, staring at the list of names in her hand.

 

“It’s the students whose parents I need to talk to on Friday’s Imperial Scholars’ Ball,” he explained, offering his hand to receive the documents and books.

 

She did as requested, reluctantly.

 

“Now, I won’t tell anyone that you have done acrobatics on a forbidden ground of the academy. The way out is next door on the left. Hurry up before anyone else notices you.”

 

He gave her an encouraging gesture towards the door to lead her away from the professors’ headquarters, and she hurried. But that list was still on her mind. Bill’s name was written there, and Becky’s, a few more, but worse of all, Damian’s was at the very top, and unlike the others, it was circled.

 

What was this professor hiding?

 

She was so lost in thoughts that she barely realised she was back on students’ grounds. She automatically made her way towards the cafeteria, where Becky would be waiting.

 

She felt his thoughts before she heard anything. She looked up and slowed down, suddenly face-to-face with Damian Desmond. He stared at her, as stunned as she was.

 

“Sy-on boy…” she said.

 

Since she had hit him with a volleyball last week, he had been avoiding her. And as expected, Damian frowned to see her and made to walk past her.

 

“I’m sorry!” she exclaimed.

 

“Uh?”

 

“You’ve been avoiding me, I didn’t mean to hurt you with that volleyball.” She continued.

 

He stared at her, blinking.

 

“I’m not avoidi…”

 

Does it seem like I’m avoiding her? I didn’t mean to. I just can’t bear to look at that Watkins flirting with her like that…

 

“Don’t mind that,” he continued while Anya swallowed hard, realising that she had misunderstood the whole situation completely.

 

For a mind-reader, she could be incredibly dumb at times.

 

“Wait!”

 

Damian stopped and turned around to look at her. And here she was, at a loss at what to say.

 

“I… uh… well. I’m glad your nose is okay.” She said, immediately regretting these words.

 

Damian grimaced.

 

“Uuh, thanks? My pride is what hurt the most, but you can forget it, Forger. Even if I were to avoid you for something so petty, Watkins would be here for you anyway, so you don’t have to bother with me anymore.”

 

Stop sounding so bitter, Damian! You’ve had it coming! I’ve been such an idiot, so blind, of course others would get a crush on her! And I’m so annoyed that he’s RIGHT! She does deserve better!

 

Anya frowned, tilting her head on the side. Damian’s memory flooded to her and she gasped.

 

“Did you– you heard everything the other day!” she exclaimed in an accusatory tone, “How could you?!”

 

He whipped around, flushed in embarrassment, glaring at her.

 

“You– how did you– I didn’t want to overhear your boyfriend confess his feelings for you, out in the open like that!” he exclaimed angrily.

 

“He’s not my– you don’t get to say that when you eavesdropped on us!!”

 

“It was an accident!”

 

“Of course it was!” she said on a mocking tone, rolling her eyes.

 

She made to leave but Damian’s arm reached out. He blocked her path and confronted her, forcing her against the nearest wall. Anya held her breathe, looking up, locked between his arms, his palms pressed against the cold stone. Her attention, and her heart, were locked by his eyes.

 

“It was an accident,” he repeated through gritted teeth, leaning forward.

 

“Give me one reason to believe you,” she replied, even though she could read his raging thoughts and knew he was telling the truth.

 

Damian just stared at her. He stared at her like she was the reason of all his anger. They both knew she wasn’t, but it was easier to pretend.

 

“Do you really think I would enjoy watching another man offering his heart to you?”

 

Offering you his heart and a future and a family I could never give you because there is no way I could ever disappoint my father, my brother, the entire Desmond legacy, he added to himself.

 

Anya tightened her lips and clenched her fists. It would hurt so much less if she could silence his thoughts.

 

“You heard everything, but you understood nothing,” she started, glaring at him, “I am not a damsel to be fought over by two men offering me their hearts. My feelings are my own, and I make my own choices. Perhaps… it’s time that you start doing the same, instead of simply being the puppet of the Desmond family.”

 

Damian stared at her, dumbfounded, astonished, bewildered by her words.

 

She was right, of course. And he couldn’t tell what hurt the most: that she saw through him so easily, like she had always done, or that he had been so blind his entire life?

 

His love for her had always been a mystery. She was cute, certainly, and pretty and intelligent and funny. Those were all reasons he could easily rationalise as to why he had fallen in love with her. But why, why could he never let go of those feelings over the years? Why was his heart so stubborn?

 

You have what I lack, what I’ve always wanted, he realised.

 

“I’m free to make my own life,” she whispered, finishing his line of thoughts as easily as if they had rehearsed those words their entire existences.

 

It was that spirit, that freedom, that he loved so dearly. That he wanted for himself.

 

Damian stared and stared and stared at Anya.

 

She stared back, unable to step away to ignore the weight of that gaze, that realisation. After ten years, she was used to his attention, to the way his thoughts and his heart focused on her and only her… but there had always, always been an edge to those lovely golden-green eyes. As much as he liked her, as much as he was willing to accept such feelings (to some extent), he had always been disappointed in himself, in his heart, in what he had assumed was a weakness. But that edge, that anger, that shame was gone.

 

Damian’s shoulders relaxed. He pressed more firmly his palms against the wall, leaning just a little closer to her.

 

She couldn’t look away. It was her turn for her thoughts and her heart to focus on him and only him. His gaze had softened. She had never been more in love with him than in this instant, when he let himself be vulnerable and open.

 

She raised her hand, and her fingers brushed his jaw. His lips trembled. She stared, then looked back up at his eyes.

 

Her heart sank. Her touch had broken the spell.

 

Damian swallowed and tightened his fists. His gaze had hardened again. That edge was back.

 

“I’m a Desmond,” he hissed while staring at her lips, his hot breath hitting her face.

 

Then he spun around and left in hurried, long steps. As if he was running from Anya, from the person he could be with her, the person he could become if he set himself free.