“Why the hell did you go frightening that poor boy? Oh my goodness, Quincy! You’re starting to be too much of a troublemaker now!” Haruhi shouted, controlling her fists from throwing a punch. “I’m waking up to all sorts of things now…first, Tamago goes all cranky last night, destroying my sleep, then I have to cajole Fyre to tell me what the hell was going on simply because you were too busy being a diva!”
“I had no other option. He kept pursuing me. Isn’t this better? Wouldn’t give him hope and stuff…” Quincy reasoned.
“I thought you are going to be a bit more mature now but you are right back in square one, mister!”
“Wow, these guys sound a lot similar even in my dreams,” mumbled Bastian incoherently as he sat up on the bed. He blinked consecutively, his vision focused on a hazy image of two familiar figures appearing to be in conflict.
“Wake up, idiot,” Haruhi growled, kicking Bastian in the leg and the pain was useful enough to get him up, opening his eyes wide.
“Woah. Woah. Why are you hitting him?” asked Quincy at the amount of ridiculousness he was viewing.
“Because I’m afraid I’m going to wring your bloody neck, Quincy!”
“What the hell’s happening here?” Bastian asked in a hoarse tone.
“Fyre has a crush on Quincy and your friend did an amazing job of telling him off!” stated Haruhi.
“Who’s got a crush on who now?!” Bastian exclaimed, getting up, only to end up kneeling on the bed, using his messed up blankets for support while trying to push away strands from his hair that was hindering his view.
“Fyre. On Quincy,” she replied pointing towards Quincy whose face was buried in his palm.
“Quincy. How dare you not even tell me someone has a crush on you?” reminded Bastian, hands folded. “Didn’t we agree to tell each other everything.”
“What are you guys, twelve?” asked Haruhi, flabbergasted. “That’s not the point! Ask him what he did!”
“Okay. Okay. Let’s get this over with!” interrupted Quincy before Bastian could ask profound questions. “I told him we can’t have a relationship but I don’t mind doing stuff. No strings attached.”
“That’s typical Quincy,” shrugged Bastian.
“He could’ve been softer! That boy’s depressed and holed up in his room,” said Haruhi, astonished that no one was in strong agreement with her.
“I mean his kisses were fine. I wouldn’t mind such a distraction now..” Quincy mumbled, feeling his neck.
“What?” chorused Haruhi and Bastian, looking at a wide-eyed Quincy who was perhaps regretting that he had let go of private thoughts.
“Whatever it is, don’t mess with that boy anymore!” continued Haruhi while Bastian’s eyes narrowed at his friend’s intentions. “Because of you now I’m going to do Fyre’s job of accompanying Erska out,” she said.
“Hand over the job to someone else. That should work out for you, right?” suggested Bastian.
“Who else? You, there’s no way you can after that huge fight. Quincy? Nope. You might mess up. I just want you both to not rile up shit further, hear me?” she warned and the boys faithfully nodded their heads at their stationed Drapha’s command.
“Ready, Haruhi?” asked Erska, her hands full with a bunch of files as she stood staring at what looked like a fight. The only odd out was a funny looking Bastian, kneeling in the ocean of blankets, hair messed up in the most extraordinary way possible as few strands remained in the bun while the rest were sticking in crazy directions. She couldn’t help but giggle.
“What are you laughing at?” asked Bastian, slightly frowning.
“You look..kind of funny…” she replied, tilting her head.
“Ha. Ha. Ha. You would think. Maybe I should be there when you wake up. We’ll see who is worse,” he said, clapping his hands slowly.
“As if you would. I’ll-” she said before realization hit her. “Wait. Why am I talking to you? Haruhi, I’ll meet you at the entrance.” Saying that, Erska stomped off.
As Bastian watched her go, he sat down on the bed, unsure of what the hell had just gone down. “Women…” he mumbled.
“I know right..” nodded Quincy in affirmation. It took some time for them to realize they were always at the mercy of Haruhi as she left them with a smug grin on her face.
Haruhi being the proper mother duck she was had been showering Fyre with snacks for an hour till he had completely shut her out, promising her that he was not the cry baby she thought he was. Either it was a Drapha thing to take care of the rookies or that he looked like a sick child, Haruhi was ready to cheer his spirits. As much as Fyre had pretended to be tough and everything, he did spend a night, absolutely dazed, covered in blankets while he hugged his knees. His only companion was the open window that brought the moon during the night while the sun replaced its position during the day. He wasn’t ready to move much, rolling left and right to pick his necessities. That’s why he believed anyone would go away if they had been knocking for almost thirty minutes yet it persisted which forced Fyre to use his legs for movement. He tried to stand up, the messed up covers preventing him and therefore, stumbled out and stomped towards the door, opening it in fury. “Haruhi! No more distur-”
“Hey,” said Quincy, leaning against the door as he got a glimpse of Fyre’s room.
Fyre bit his lip, folding his hands. He tried to pull his hood a little bit more towards his forehead, brushing off his coppery hued hair. “Hey,” he replied back.
“Can I come in?” Quincy asked out of courtesy but had already stepped forward so Fyre made way for him anyway.
“Sure,” Fyre said, closing the door.
“Not what I imagined but not surprised,” he commented as he sat on the bed. Fyre’s walls screamed red and black due to similar colour coded posters. Considering Fyre’s happy-go-lucky temper, it was an absolute contrast to an extent.
“People say that a lot,” Fyre replied shrugging as he sat on the bed, a little farther away from Quincy.
“I heard from Haruhi that..you are not feeling well,” Quincy enquired, turning towards him.
Fyre sat facing forward, unable to make eye contact, his figure swaying back and forth. “I mean I just slept..for a longer time..”
“Really? Then why is Haruhi substituting for you in accompanying Erska out?” Quincy questioned him.
“Erska? She never...Oh no! Erska!” repeated Fyre to himself, facepalming. “I totally forgot. Goodness. Did Haruhi really do that? I have to thank her..”
“Wait,” Quincy said as he frowned. “Haruhi didn’t tell you?”
“That woman! She didn’t ask you and started going all bazooka on me! Ugh!” he exclaimed, shaking his head.
“What? What did she say to you?” asked Fyre, curious.
“She said you got very depressed. She was ready to send me to HQ and screw me over,” Quincy grumbled as he looked at Fyre who stayed silent, pursing his lips. “Seeing that you are quiet, it seems like what she said was true.”
“Well, depressed is too harsh I would say,” Fyre muttered, running his hand through his head in frustration. “I did get sad.” Not being able to pursue a relationship was bad enough but now to explain each and every feeling pertaining to it was not making anything better. Specifically to Quincy.
“You like me that much, huh?”
“What?” asked Fyre as he sat up, turning towards Quincy who was staring at him in the most casual way possible. Like the way he had looked at him during their previous encounter.
“I don’t drag stuff, Fyre. I’m sorry. If it’s not going to work, it won’t work. I’m not the kind where I say one thing and act on a different thing the next moment,” Quincy said as he stood up, getting ready to leave. “You got to sort your feelings out.”
Yet Quincy’s path was restricted by Fyre’s arms hugging him from behind, locking him. “What are you doing, Fyre?” he asked, sighing. This is not going to end well.
Fyre spoke after taking huge breaths while eyes were shut tight, slightly leaning against Quincy’s back as he prepared to say words he never thought he’d say. “No strings attached. You said that, right? Let’s do that.” As soon as the words left him, he whimpered lightly while tightening his embrace.
“What?!” Quincy snapped, turning around brashly in astonishment. “Do you know what you are asking for?”
“Yea,” Fyre murmured, his voice cracking as he adjusted the hood, his eyes blinking like an innocent little kitty. “You-You said you were fine with it, nah?”
Quincy stood shell shocked at the end result, watching a miserable Fyre look at him with a hopeless smile. Who in this world actually goes through with this?!
“Thank you for taking the time to meet me, Mrs. Fern,” said Erska with a cheerful smile.
“Call me Melanie. Would you or your friend like something to drink?” she asked, looking at Haruhi. Both of them politely declined. “Does that mean we go straight into business?”
“Yup!” answered Erska, all excited.
“Before we proceed, may I know, why you aren’t you approaching Bon Voyage?” asked Melanie, hesitantly.
“I understand that it is quite obvious from my interview and many sources that I had a falling out of sorts,” she explained, having already anticipated. “I have just decided that I want to build myself up from scratch.”
“Okaaay..that’s a good idea,” Melanie replied, nodding her head.
“So…not to seem all excited which I am. Sorry for that,” she said, drumming her fingers on the table. “What did you think about the manuscript?”
“It is, how should I say, different. Quite different from you’re your first one,” said Melanie holding a copy of the manuscript in her hand. “It’s also shorter..”
“Does that make anything different? Like worse?” asked Erska, unsure what she was implying.
“No. No. No. Nothing like that. I’m afraid, Miss Saphine, this is not what we are looking for…” said Melanie as she slowly pushed back the manuscript towards Erska.
Erska blinked, looking at the copy and at Melanie while awkward silence made its presence for a sizeable period of time, suffocating Melanie. “Erska you should understand that as much as we do appreciate various pieces of work and how different they are from each, we pick the ones that we think would represent us. And I don’t think this would do..”
“I’m afraid I don’t understand the term 'different.' You said it is different from my first one. Are you trying to tell me that it is better or worse? Would you have opted for my first one, if you had the chance?” asked Erska carefully, partially sure about what was going to hit her.
“Then, there is no use twisting my words around since you are already at the answer. Yes, Erska. If it was your first one we would have gladly accepted but this absolutely would not appeal to the fanbase that you’ve created with your first one,” said Melanie, breathing in relief.
“So, basically you’re telling me it wouldn’t appeal to anyone at all now that it is different?”
“Not like that,” Melanie replied instantly, putting her hands up. “It would appeal to a certain group of people and it is just that we don’t cater to that kind of audience. That’s why I would suggest other publishers who would be interested in this manuscript who might be able to help you reach better than we do.”
“Hmm…” mumbled Erska to herself, staring at her manuscript.
“Or…” continued Melanie, unsure how her words were going to affect Erska’s temper. “You could make this one a little bit similar to your first novel. Just a suggestion.”
“I don’t think I can do that. I’m not changing any part of this,” replied Erska firmly as she picked up the manuscript.
“I know that. That’s why I didn’t want to ask you. Just tried asking,” Melanie stated, smiling. “Good luck.”
“Thanks,” Erska replied, getting up as she pinched a sleeping Haruhi in the arm who had dozed off, head thrown back. Haruhi got up with a start as she kicked the table slightly. She grinned apologetically to a stunned Melanie and followed Erska out, stretching her arms.
“So, is the work done?” asked Haruhi.
“No,” sighed Erska. “I knew this was going to happen but I can’t believe three publishers have already rejected me. I thought the difference in the manuscript might actually change their hearts but all it does is…they want me to make it exactly like my first one! And I hate the way my first one turned out! Ugh! What am I going to do?..”
She buried her face in her palms as Haruhi slung her arm across Erska’s shoulder, patting her. “We have a lot more people to meet. Hope for the best, my girl.”