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Chapter 6 - A Painful Connection

"Son? Are you feeling alright?" Allen asked, worry interlacing his words as he watched Jayden swallow up his third aspirin this morning. "That's not safe what you're doing! Is it so bad?"

"No, no, I'm okay." Jayden waved it off, wincing a little bit in his chair. He leaned against the bar and drew in a heavy breath.

"Do you have a hangover...?" He asked all of a sudden, narrowing his eyes. "Because if so, I swear to-"

"No, dad, I don't." He chuckled at his assumption. "But I actually kinda feel like drinking."

Allen stared in disbelief at his son. "You. Have. A migraine. And you want to drink?"

"Don't look at me like that. You seem psychotic."

Allen opened his mouth to respond to Jayden's playfulness but was cut off by the awkward silence caused by the bartender, who slowly slid his elbows across the bar to approach them, a funny expression on his face. "I heard boss is gonna throw a party tonight." He wiggled his eyebrows at Allen. "What for, huh?"

"What's so different? We throw parties every now and then."

"True. But is there a relation to the new guest?" He, again, wiggled his eyebrows, making Allen roll his eyes.

"Aqua?" Jayden tilted his head.

"No, son." Allen sighed, face-palming Bernard, their trustworthy bartender, and pushing his face away from his. "That's the fifth time that you've mentioned Aqua in the span of two days."

"Sorry, I- I'm not thinking clearly at the moment."

"Why is that? Is there another guest crush I should know about?" Bernard leaned in, though a little occupied with rubbing his nose, he still wanted to butt into their conversation. Specifically for teasing his best friend's son, who jumped up to his own defense.

"What are you talking about? No! It's just that- I don't know, something's been messing with my head ever since..." he trailed off, glancing down at his wrist. His eyes appeared to be lifeless, and drained, as if he hasn't had any sleep in the past few days, which wasn't particularly a lie. "I gotta go."

Bernard was no stranger to them. He's been working at their hotel the very first day it opened. He's close enough to know that something might be bothering Jayden, making him turn to Allen as they both observed him walking away sluggishly, his head low.

Two days had gone by, and though he wanted to have a better understanding of all that had happened, whenever he caught a glimpse of Aqua, his alertness would take over and he'd avoid her like the plague. Nevertheless, he always sensed her aura around him in some way, which never failed to agitate him.

"Where are you going?"

Jayden lifted his gaze to the speaker and gingerly grimaced when he saw who it was. Speak of the devil. "Outside."

"Where exactly outside?"

"I don't know," he said, his voice harboring a weakness beyond his capability to hide. He walked past her and went further into the gardens, hoping she'd stay back but as expected, she followed suit.

"If you're going to take a stroll, at least ask for company." She matched her pace with his, her arms crossed behind her back. At the silence that greeted her, Aqua clicked her tongue and let her hand wrap around his wrist. She turned to him. "Are you okay?"

"Huh? Uh, Yeah..."

"You sure don't look like it." She shrugged, ready to walk away and leave him be. She had a mission tonight, and the last she'd want was to spend time with him while she's out to kill his father. But seeing his state made her feel weighed down, because she as well had tons of complications, one of which is exactly the same as his. "Look, I know you're confused. I was too. But you have to cope with it."

"I thought you were gonna say something really comforting." He softly chuckled, shaking his head. "Guess not."

She blankly stared at him for a short moment, watching the early morning wind meddle with his brown locks, his eyes never blinking as he gave his full attention to the grand fountain amidst the hotel grounds.

Realizing the aching in her heart had washed away like she expected, Aqua spat, "Don't expect much from me, bud. I don't do well with emotions."

With that, she left a rather stunned Jayden behind, and walked along the pathway guiding her back into the lobby.

Ever since Igujin had linked them together, Aqua noticed how deprived of peacefulness she gradually became. For two days, she was seized with a terrible burn lurking around her flesh, slowly but steadily, traveling to the very depth of her heart.

At first, she didn't know how to react, and she'd decided she might need to talk to Jayden about it. To see if he felt any of that she does. However, when she was about to call out his name, she barely saw any sign of discomfort on him, and came to the conclusion that it wasn't mutual.

After a short while, Aqua found out that the pain grew the longer she was away from him. That's why she had to stay around wherever he was, keeping her distance yet close enough so it would ease. But to a certain extent, it got too much to bear as there hadn't been any contact between them, giving her no choice but to speak to him today, in hopes it would completely vanish. Which it did.

For now.

Aqua shook the thought out of her head and silently cursed the situation.

For now, she needed to focus on one thing, and one thing only.

Allen Dae's birthday party.

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