Chapter 29 - The Analysis
An octopus with my DNA is inside my car.
"What should I give her?" Tops asked as he looked out the window. "It has to be something sweet. Something sincere."
"How about something nonmaterial like a heartfelt apology?" I sighed.
He grunted before pressing the button on the door to open his window. I in turn quickly pressed a button to close it before he could stick his elbow out, feel the wind on his face and act like he was in a sad movie.
I'd kick him out if he ever did that in my car.
He sent me a small glare before resting his elbow on the arm rest to sulk like a kid.
"I need something to give her when I apologize." He mumbled.
"So, like a bribe?" I said.
"No," he quickly defended. "No it's not like a bribe."
"It is." I pressed. "You're such an idiot."
He was just groaning the whole time.
"Where did you get the idea that giving her a present would somehow give you an advantage anyway?" I asked, curiously.
He shrugged his shoulders. "In the first romantic-comedy movie I starred in. The guy did the girl wrong and apologized by getting her some chocolates and a huge teddy bear."
"Must've been one shitty movie," I mumbled. He didn't even disagree.
"Shut up. I just took the role for experience. Ugh. I cringe every time I remember my lines."
I snorted. "Recite the worst one. C'mon."
He rolled his eyes and looked out the window. He made an annoyed gesture with his hand and did what I said anyway.
"Jess, baby, you know I love you. I slept with that girl yeah, but you were on my mind the whole time. Baby, you're the only one who has my heart. Please forgive me."
I almost gagged. "Dude are you serious? What kind of character did you play?"
"The character of an arse." He replied. "At the end of the movie though, the main characters didn't end up together."
I nodded. "Good then. The girl realized what bullpoop reason you had."
"Hey," Tops warned. "Separate me from the character I played will ya? And no. They didn't end up together because the girl got pregnant with the guy's brother."
"Sounds like a really shitty movie." I said. Tops nodded vigorously.
"Yes. Yes it was. The reviews weren't very friendly either. Ugh. I hated the director too. He was so weird."
"You're an idiot. This is a bad idea. Anne won't appreciate this, you know?" I said.
"Danny would you just help me pick out something nice for her?" He sighed hopelessly.
I think he somehow knew it inside of him that I had a point, but he didn't know what else to do. I can't convince him at all.
"Fine. But hurry up." I told him as we finally reached the mall. He nodded quietly as the both us went straight to the department store.
For the next half hour of walking around, my cousin grunted and heaved out another hopeless sigh. We had absolutely no clue what we were looking for.
We saw a vacant seat near the dressing room for the resting glory of guys like us and practically sprinted towards it.
"Say Danny," Tops started after a little while. "What would you do if Tinz got upset with you?"
I'd probably start teasing her to get her even more upset because I'm an idiot like my cousin.
I mumbled an incoherent response. I don't know what to tell him. I'm not the one he should be asking.
He shifted in his seat to face me. "C'mon help me out here. Please."
I sighed heavily as I looked up to think. I tried to recall the times I got Poopy upset and cringed at what stupid things I've done to make her feel that way.
I really am an idiot. Idiot.
"I'd probably ask her why she got upset. That is, if I don't know what I did wrong this time," I said, unsurely. "Then I'd probably try to explain. Then apologize if it's my fault."
And apologize even if it's not my fault. Or if I have no idea what I did wrong. I just don't want us to fight.
We always end up talking about it anyway. Both sides must be heard to reach a mutual understanding to avoid conflict.
Tops nodded and folded his arms. He hummed and puckered his lips. "Sounds basic."
I wanted to hit him.
It did sound basic. But it was easier than done. We were still human after all.
I looked up again and sighed. Why does she tolerate me anyway? I've made her mad so many times now. I said and did a lot of stupid things.
She's too good for a jerk like me.
"Honestly I'm afraid to touch her when she's mad at me," I shared, surprised I said that out loud. Now that caught his attention. "But... I don't know. I think she'd calm down a bit if I hug her. Or kiss her. Something like that."
Or it was probably to calm myself down. But it had some affect on her too so it was all good.
Tops whistled slowly before he chuckled at my expression. He looked up and sighed.
"I never knew my robot of a cousin could be so romantic." He said. I rolled my eyes. "But our situation's quite different, difficult. I don't know what to do. If I apologize, I don't know where to start."
I nodded quietly, knowing exactly what he meant. I really didn't know what to tell him. The solution to his problem was simple, yet complicated at the same time.
We gave up looking for a present. I think he realized it was a bad idea. So instead of wasting more precious time, we bought some food then went back to my car. I got a text from Poopy as I started the engines.
| Are you still with Kristopher? |
I gave Tops my phone and asked him to reply for me because I was driving. He replied with a short "yup."
| Ok great. I need to talk to him. Bring him to my house. |
"Danny I'm kinda scared." He said as he read her text out loud. "It sounds like she's gonna murder me and bury my body in their backyard."
I snorted, shaking my head. "I'm sure she just wants to talk to you about what happened earlier. She's trying to help."
He gulped and nodded before tapping a reply.
He's not the only one scared to see her, to be honest. I'm still kinda awkward about what happened earlier.
God help us.
"You're here. Perfect." Poopy said when she saw us coming inside. Tops and I made ourselves comfortable in the couch.
Tops was quick to act and gave Poopy the box of chicken nuggets we bought earlier.
"A peace offering," he said. "Please don't kill me."
I wanted to complain since he gave her my share of nuggets too but since it's Poopy he's giving it to, I didn't mind.
"Oh I'm not the one who's going to kill you." She said, but still taking the chicken nuggets anyway.
She caught me staring at her and I've never looked away so fast in my life.
I am such a wimp.
She cleared her throat and turned her attention to my cousin. Tops sat up straight and paid close attention.
"Peyton talked with us a bit. She didn't have the chance to tell you guys because of um, what happened, but she gave us her initial analysis of the experiment we participated in."
We gulped. Why am I getting nervous too? I already know what she's gonna say.
"Peyton and Mark's results were as they had expected. They were in a relationship so that kind of reaction was normal." She explained, smiling, chewing on the nuggets.
"Here's the cool part. Both of them already did that experiment when they were in their freshmen year in college. An upperclassman asked them to participate in that project and they agreed in exchange for some cash. That's where the two of them met actually. Peyton said that after that experiment, Mark asked her out. Till now, he's been really good to her."
I raised my brows in amazement. That did sound cool. Tops agreed.
"Wow." He gushed. "They are goals. Now I know where to turn to when I need awesome advice."
"It's almost hard to believe that he's Sean's older brother." I added.
I mean, Sean's a good guy, but he's kinda slow at times. Mark seemed to have a good head on his shoulders.
Poopy nodded and continued what she was saying. "I can't remember the technical words Peyton said, but to put it simply, her and Mark's results confirmed their feelings for each other. She's gonna check in the video if their blinking synchronized or something."
"What about your and Danny's?" Tops snickered. I stiffened in my seat and shot him a glare.
I'm sure Peyton told her what she already knew. But I didn't want to hear it with Tops around.
Poopy cleared her throat again and smoothly changed the subject. "Your and Anne's on the other hand..."
Well that definitely shut him up. This was the real reason she asked Tops to come here. To convey what Peyton said.
He looked at her like a lost puppy and waited for her to go on.
I sighed in relief. I'm saved.
"Peyton said it didn't need a Psychology major to see how much she's been hurt. The amount of pain she's been bottling up has been tripled because of that mutual gaze for four uninterrupted minutes. You can only imagine what had been going on inside her mind during that time." She sighed, as if recalling the look on Anne's face earlier. "That's why she kept apologizing to Anne non-stop. She felt guilty because she had no idea you two had a history."
Tops groaned as he buried his face in his hands. "I have to apologize to Peyton and Ella too... I caused them a lot of trouble."
"Kristopher, listen." Poopy leaned closer to express her point. "Peyton also said that the behavior you showed earlier, your reaction when you saw her act that way, was a typical response of a boy in love."
I saw how fast the red travelled up his ears and I resisted a snort. "C'mon stop messing around."
"It doesn't take a genius to see how much you're still head over heels for her." I said, earning a faint glare from him. Though I'm sure it was just to mask his embarrassment. "I bet even Sean can tell just by looking at you when Anne's around."
"I can say the same to you whenever Tinz is around, genius."
"You're changing the subject."
"So are you."
"Shut up the both of you." Poopy interrupted before another childish argument broke out.
We lowered our heads guiltily after she scolded us. After a few seconds, she continued explaining.
"She said this was all based on visual analysis because she didn't know you guys personally and hasn't interviewed you properly. She judged and concluded that by the way Kristopher's eyes dilated, and how his expression softened at the sight of Anne breaking down, the confusion and guilt in his face, how he tried to reach out to her, how crushed his face looked when she ran away--you're carrying just as much pain as Anne. Anyone with a heart can tell that the both of you are hurt."
Tops was just quiet.
Well, yeah. She was right. It was so obvious. But my two best friends were absolute knuckle-heads. They were too stubborn. Too scared.
They were too in love. And now, they were too hurt.
"In the first two minutes, she said your blinking was synchronized. You were mirroring Anne's expressions-- maybe you didn't realize it. It showed full attention, and sincerity." Poopy said again.
Tops raised his head a bit, but couldn't look at her face. "Which means..?"
"It means go and talk to her you idiot." I sighed. How many times did I tell him this already? "The both of you are at fault for exchanging a bunch of attitudes and assumptions three years ago. Now look how serious it got? Go and apologize. I'm sure she wants to apologize to you too, but she's waiting for you to come to her first because she's scared you'll be cold to her if she approached you first."
I know Anne well enough to say that's true.
It wasn't entirely Tops' fault too. Anne was also in fault. But at least she gathered the courage to move all the way here, away from her comfort zone, to see us. To see Tops.
Even though she still kept on denying it.
Poopy agreed. "Anne isn't saying anything, but I'm sure she really is waiting. She already put in the effort of flying all the way here from London to see you guys again, I hope you return the favor and return her feelings. Honestly, I admire your friendship, the three of you."
Tops and I looked at each other quietly. I let out a breath of laughter. Tops shook his head while smiling weakly.
"It's a crazy friendship."
"That's why it's still holding on, right?" She was beaming with positivity. "Nothing ended when you guys fought three years ago. Right now, you're just picking up where you left off."
She was looking at Tops the whole time, trying to comfort him. I on the other hand just stared at her. She was dazzling.
"I can't believe you have that much faith in us. Even I don't have the confidence to think like that." He shrugged, trying to hide another blush.
Poopy just smiled at him, warmly. She turned her head to look at me with that same smile.
After a while (the nuggets were all gone--I don't know what happened), Tops stood up and got ready to leave.
"Thanks, Tinz, Danny. I'll sort out my thoughts first. I want to talk to her properly without stumbling on my words. I think I just need a bit of time."
"You've had three years to think about it." I pointed out.
"Yeah well my perspective's changed a lot over these past few weeks. Allow me a couple of days to adjust." He scoffed. He texted his driver to come pick him up because he knew I was too lazy to drive him back to his apartment.
"Whatever you say, wimp." I mumbled. He heard.
"Whatever your face, Denial." He said loud enough for Poopy to hear. Before I got the chance to bite back, he dashed outside. "I gotta go now. Thanks so much for telling me Tinz! See you guys at school!"
As soon as the door slammed close, it was dead quiet in the room. It didn't help that we were alone at the moment too.
But I was silently praying her parents wouldn't come in any time soon.
Okay, this is awkward. I'm getting nervous. I can't even look at her straight in the eye right now. Why am I getting so flustered?
"Hey." She broke the silence.
My heart stopped. I'm dying.
"Was it really that difficult to just look at me?" She was talking about earlier. Her voice was a bit unsure. She sounded sad. Or maybe she was making fun of me.
If it was just the two of us, I wouldn't be able to look away. But with that small audience earlier, I just couldn't.
I'm too embarrassed.
"Hello?" She called. "Anyone there?"
"I had a headache earlier." I lied. It was useless. She was smirking. She really was making fun of me.
"Sure." She hummed. I groaned.
"What are you trying to imply with that tone, Poopy?"
She shrugged nonchalantly. "Nothing, nothing."
She got up triumphantly and was about to walk away until I grabbed a hold of her wrist and stopped her.
She looked at me curiously. I was still a bit awkward to look back but I wasn't gonan let her get away with this.
"Wanna try that experiment again?" I sighed.
She looked surprised. "What for? Don't force yourself."
"So you'll see why I acted like I did earlier."
She stared at me suspiciously for a moment until she agreed.
Shut up thoughts.
She took her phone out and set the timer to four minutes. My heart was hammering right now. Was this a good idea?
When the timer started, I looked at her intensely out of forced courage. My stare gradually softened without breaking eye-contact.
Why was she so beautiful?
After about one minute passed, I couldn't help it. I held her hand. I gripped it tight.
I remember when we were kids. I would hold her hand whenever we ran back to the house because she was pretty clumsy and tripped on her own feet often.
I held this hand again after twelve years, in that silly game we were forced to participate in.
I held her hand every time there was a huge crowd because she was just so tiny and could get lost if left alone.
I want to hold this hand forever.
In the second minute, we found ourselves smiling, laughing.
It wasn't awkward like earlier, when everybody was watching. When there was a camera recording us.
This time, it felt comfortable. Fun. Warm, even.
She pressed her lips together as she tilted her head a bit. I subconsciously followed and the corner of my lip twitched up.
I wonder what she's thinking. I wonder what it'd be like if she was mine.
Damn it I'm just really happy around her.
In the third minute, my hand moved on its own. I touched her face gently. I don't know why she looked kinda sad; I'm sure I mirrored it too. Not only her expressions, but the swirling emotions as well.
Then when she smiled, I smiled too.
There was a small sting in my chest. I don't know whu. I just like her. I really, really like her. So much it hurts.
I feel like my heart's about to burst.
The timer beeped and I stopped myself from cursing. It wasn't enough. The time wasn't enough. I pulled her face closer and gazed into her eyes.
I took a deep breath when she narrowed her eyes.
"Damn it." I mumbled as I ran my thumb against her cheek. I hated myself at the moment. "Why did I say I won't kiss you until...until..."
"It's okay," she breathed. "You can kiss me."
I groaned internally. Why was she doing this to me? This was pure torture.
"Don't say that," I pleaded. "I really will kiss you."
"I'm not stopping you." She said.
I took a deep breath and sighed. I made a promise and I intend to keep it. I'm really serious about her. I don't think I've ever been serious about anything in my life.
I pulled her into a hug. "But I want this to be perfect." I kissed her forehead and hugged her tighter. "You're perfect."
I then found myself sighing again as I stared at her eyes one more time. What the heck was happening to me. I'm weak.
"I don't know why I feel like crying." I said out loud. That was supposed to stay in my head. Why do I keep voicing my thoughts lately?
She snorted. "You're moved by my mere presence."
"True." I smiled at her tenderly. "But you felt the same. Don't even try to deny it."
She laughed and hugged me back. Oh God I felt like melting. She's actually hugging me back. Oh God. "Yeah alright. Butthead."