Chapter 33 - A Little Push
My phone rang before my alarm so I was groaning as I blindly answered the call.
"Mmm," I mumbled, unable to speak properly yet.
"Honey! I have news!" My mom's voice boomed out of the speakers. I winced as I asked her what it was.
"Our trip just got extended. Louie got sent to the hospital for alcohol poisoning and Jacob hurt his back for going too low on the limbo so we're staying here for another two or three days. Oh! The reunion was so fun by the way! Ester got so drunk, she blew out chunks and when she tried to cover her mouth with her hands, it shot back straight at her! So she gave herself a puke facial! With her own puke!"
"Hmm..." I mumbled again, her words sinking in my brain five seconds late. When she continued talking, only then did I realize the point of her call this early in the morning.
I quickly sat up, feeling the blood rush to my head as I did so. "Mom wait wait wait. What did you say?"
"Ester gave herself a puke facial?"
"No not that! And ew." I said before scrunching my nose in disgust. "You're not coming home for another few days?"
Mom sighed on the other line. "Yes dear. Your dad can't drive at his state. And I don't know how to drive too. So we'll have to wait until his back gets better. Plus, Johnny is in no state to drive too. I'll tell you and Daniel all about it when we come back home."
I was in a loss for words. Only two days have passed since Daniel started sleeping here, and I've already done some pretty daring stuff to him. On purpose or not.
I'm afraid of what I might do next. God. It should be the other way around. What is wrong with me?
"And," my mom's voice pulled me out of my thoughts. "I'm not leaving until Louie wakes up. And laugh at his face for passing out just after the fourth shot. Weak shit!"
"Mom." I groaned. Her inner high school girl was showing. I guess they really had a pretty fun time.
"I'll call you again later, okay? Your dad wants to pee and he can't get out of bed."
"Okay mom." I replied, rubbing my forehead. I heard her scolding my dad before she finally hung up.
I was awake now.
I checked the time and it was only half an hour until my alarm rings. I can't go back to bed anymore because it'll be harder for me to get back up again.
I got out of bed and went straight to the kitchen to fix myself a sandwich. Daniel wasn't on the couch so I guess he was in the bathroom.
Wonder why he's up early today. Maybe his dad called him too?
I made four sandwiches. Two for me and two for the butthead.
After a little while, he entered the kitchen and gave me a small smile.
"Morning." He said, his eyes half-closed even though he just got out of the shower. He smelled nice. "Are those for me?"
"Yup." I said as I took the last bite of my second sandwich. I patted the crumbs off my hands before I stood up and made my way out of the kitchen. "They're peanut butter. Have fun eating yourself."
That sounded wrong.
"Hey," Daniel called, munching on the sandwich. I turned around and raised my brows to ask him what it was.
"Your soap's the pink one right?"
I don't trust this question.
"What of it?"
"I used it." He said, casually.
I suppressed a sigh. "So?"
The sides of his lips curled up into a mischievous smirk and I was getting suspicious.
"Where do you usually apply soap?"
I rolled my eyes. "To the whole body. Duh. Why are you asking me this weird question?"
He smirked again as he finished his sandwich and licked the peanut butter off his fingers. "I'll leave it to your imagination as to how and where I used your precious soap."
I didn't understand what he meant. If this was a joke, I was still on the process of figuring out the punchline.
But when an image of Daniel using my soap entered my mind, my eyes widened and I couldn't hold back a gasp.
"You pervert! Ew!"
"Just now, what did you imagine?" He asked, looking amused. His mouth was still full by the way. I hope he chokes and ends up coughing so I can laugh at him.
"I can't even look at you right now!" I stomped my foot. The thought crossed my mind once again and I winced. It didn't help that I already saw his thing, making my imagination much more vivid. "Why?! That soap was new! And you infected it with your... your germs!"
I don't even know why I was making such a big deal out of this. I don't know. I'm kind of a neat-freak.
He swallowed his last bite of the sandwich before he looked at me with that stupid smirk. That stupid attractive smirk. "Chandler Bing said soap was self-cleaning though."
"That doesn't apply to buttheads like you!"
He just laughed at my reactions and continued eating his sandwich without a care in the world.
"Ugh." I grumbled before I stomped away and headed straight for the bathroom.
I was at the sink when my phone rang. I wiped my hand on a hand towel before I answered the call and placed the phone against my ear and shoulder.
"Hey Tina!" Ella said. She sounded so cheerful. Maybe she had some news to share that couldn't wait until we meet at school. "What are you up to?"
"I'm cleaning my soap."
There was a silence for a few seconds before my best friend spoke again.
"Maybe I should carve out a whole layer from it."
"Tina, what are you talking about?"
I sighed heavily as I violently washed my soap. "The butthead used my soap and rubbed all his germs on it. Ugh. I don't even want to imagine where this thing touched him. And I'm indirectly touching him through this. God."
I heard her giggle so loud. It didn't help my situation. "Tina what the hell? Maybe he's just teasing like he always does."
"No." I deadpanned. "I'm going to burn this. Or throw it away. But what a waste."
"Tina." Ella said. "It's soap. It's self-cleaning."
"That's what he said!"
This time it was Ella who sighed. "My hopeless best friend. Anyways, I just called to check up on you."
I heard a snort outside the bathroom. I left the door open a while ago. It was Daniel.
He sent me that smirk again as he folded his arms against his chest and leaned his shoulder against the door frame. He looked so amused. "You're actually cleaning the soap?"
"Shut up and go away." I said through gritted teeth. "I'm using the bathroom right now."
I was still on the phone with Ella. She probably heard Daniel since she was giggling at our exchange of words.
Daniel pointed at the soap. "You afraid to use that again?"
"Of course!" I said. "I don't want your buttheadedness to rub off on me when I use this again."
"Relax." He chuckled. "You're not gonna get pregnant or anything after using the same soap I did."
I stopped what I was doing and stared at him in shock.
In turn, he mirrored my expression and placed a hand on his mouth to cover a fake gasp. "Or will you?"
After I gave him no reply, he shook his head. "I'm just kidding. Would you like me to practically educate you about the realistic process of making childr--"
He let out a loud laugh before he went on his way.
Ella was still on the phone, laughing way harder. "Damn Daniel!"
I closed the faucet and stared at the soap for a bit before I replied to Ella.
"I-Is it true?" I asked unsurely.
"Can I get pregnant if I use the same soap he did?"
"Tina, are you seriously asking me that?" Ella sighed, still giggling. "Are you really one of the brightest kids in school?"
"Why don't you put protection on your soap next time?" Daniel called out from the other room, still chuckling.
I groaned loudly as I placed the soap back to it's rightful place. What have I been doing? I'm ridiculous. "I'm turning stupid Ella. Help me."
I was just staring at the blackboard as the teacher went on and on about something I wasn't paying any attention to.
My mind has been pretty occupied lately since that four-minute experiment we did a few days ago.
The look on Tops' face kept replaying in my mind. I can't help but feel guilty.
I actually tried to ask Danny yesterday, but I lost my courage midway and changed the subject. He knew exactly what I wanted to ask about though. That's Danny.
I really don't hate Tops anymore. No, I never even hated him in the first place. I hated myself for liking him, and expected him to like me back.
I guess what really hurt me were his words. Maybe he just said those things out of anger and didn't really mean it, but it really hurt. I couldn't sleep for weeks after our last conversation. I felt so betrayed. I felt like the most horrible person in the world.
But that was in the past.
It's been three years already. I want to make up with him. But I don't know how. I don't know where to start.
My pride is telling me to wait for him to come to me and apologize. But I wonder if he's even sorry. It's been a few weeks since I moved here already. He hasn't made a move.
Maybe he just doesn't care? Maybe it's just me thinking what I want again, me being presumptuous again.
Presumptuous. I hate that word.
I just want this thing to end already. Tops is kind of a wuss. Maybe I should approach him first? But what should I say? How should I say it?
I sighed. No use thinking about that now. Mind as well distract myself from my thoughts. Paying attention in class won't help.
I glanced across the room and saw Ella smiling down at her phone. She was hiding it under her desk. Yeah, the lecture was pretty boring. At least the class was quiet.
A sad smile crossed my face as I saw how happy she looked. It's either she saw a meme or is currently texting Chie.
My cousin, Daichi Watanabe.
I contacted him a while ago and confirmed that he was indeed dating Ella. I wanted to ask him if it had something to do with my uncle or Danny or Tops, but he was sharp and found smooth ways to prevent me from asking.
I didn't know what his intentions with her were, but I trusted my cousin. But it's just... It's Ella.
I can tell she's loved and lost and is just trying to move on with her life by always smiling and playing Cupid on her friends.
But I know how she feels. I know she's not fine at all. I feel like what she was going through was sort of similar to mine, that's why I feel somehow protective of her.
Chie's my cousin. He's a good guy. But... His history with girls?
Impressive for a guy's point of view probably. But for me? Not very good.
I don't know if he's playing or if he's actually serious this time, but I just hope Ella notices it before it's too late.
I'm still wondering if I should reveal to her and Tina that Chie and I were related? But then they'll ask a lot of questions I wouldn't know how to answer.
And if I don't know how to answer, they might think I'm defending him or something.
They might even connect the dots and trace it all the way to Danny and Tops.
I don't want Ella to think that she was used.
I don't want to get her heart broken a second time. The first one did a huge blow on her. I don't know the exact details, but I'm sure dating Chie has to be one of the bravest things she did for herself after the breakup.
I even asked Chie what he was doing here, and he just told me it was for business and pleasure.
I needed to know where Ella belonged in those categories.
I was also worried that he might bump into Tops or Danny. But I doubt they'd recognize each other. He and Tops would, but Danny...
He's never met my cousins before. He's never attended any of the Watanabe's dinner parties in the past after all.
It involved food, so Danny not going was already saying something.
My eyes were open the whole time, but only now did I realize that Tops was right in front of me.
I mean, he was called by the teacher up front to write something on the board. I don't know. I wasn't paying attention.
I watched his back as he picked up the chalk and started writing on the board.
Images of his retreating back flowed into my mind. It wasn't that broad before. It wasn't that sturdy before.
It wasn't that far away from my reach before.
I subtly buried my face under my hand and suppressed a sigh.
Stop it. Stop remembering useless stuff.
Can we really fix this? Was there a point of me coming here? Was I being too reckless?
Should I just pretend that I was over it, or that I forgot all about it? Should I just get it over with and talk to him about it?
Tops finished writing and as he was walking back to his seat, our eyes met for a split-second. I looked away as soon as it did. I couldn't take it. Especially not after that four-minute experiment a few days ago.
He probably thought I was cold or that I hated him with a passion. That wasn't true at all.
I was just afraid.
I was afraid that he would reject my apology, my friendship-- me. I was afraid he would reject me.
The bell rang and everybody got up to leave to classroom. I was in no mood to get up. I needed to organize my thoughts a bit more.
The students passed by me like a blur, as well as the time that I spent on reminiscing, regretting, wondering and hesitating.
I arrived to no such conclusion. I think I just made my thoughts messier than before.
"Anne?" A careful voice pulled me out of my thoughts. I looked up and smiled as soon as I saw Tina. How long was she standing there? "I kept calling you."
"Oh," I said, immediately giving het an apologetic look. "I'm sorry, I was--"
"Are you okay?" She asked, worriedly.
I looked around the room. It was empty. The only people here were me, Tina and Danny.
Danny was sleeping on his desk.
"Yeah, why do you ask?" I replied, giving her a nice and cheerful smile.
She didn't look convinced. I was too obvious.
She wrinkled her forehead before she checked her watch. "I just came back from the council room. I spent over an hour there. You were staring at your desk when I left. When I came back just now, you were still staring at your desk. Doesn't your neck hurt?"
I blinked. I spaced out for that long? It felt like ten minutes or so. Wow. That's a new record. I think.
I giggled, trying to hide my embarrassment. "Guess I was daydreaming a bit too much."
She just stared at me, probably wondering what she should say. It was obvious that I was lying. And she already knows something was up.
She fixed her things and left her bag on Danny's desk.
"Can we talk?" She asked, politely and a bit nervously. It should be me feeling nervous. "Somewhere where the butthead can't eavesdrop on us."
"I'm not eavesdropping." He said while his face was still buried under his arms against his desk. I rolled my eyes as I resisted a laugh.
She led me to the council room since it was already empty. I was smiling and humming but in truth I was just trying to control my rapid heartbeats.
I don't know why I feel so scared. She's not gonna kill me, is she?
"Anne," she started. I straightened my back and looked at her in the eye. She was both serious and worried. "I'll tell you about your and Kristopher's results on that Psychology experiment Peyton made us do a few days ago."
I sighed in relief, not even attempting to conceal it. I smiled in reply and asked her to go on.
"You might already know it, but I'll tell you anyway." She cleared her throat. "I'll explain it simply. Peyton said you have suppressed feelings for Kristopher. It may or may not be positive but it was enough to make you break down, so she suggests you two face each other and fix it. As for Kristopher, she said his expressions were practically screaming that he was confused and he wants to reach out to you but something is preventing him from doing so. It may be out of fear, insecurity or he's just plain awkward with his feelings."
I slowly nodded.
Yeah, I kinda already figured that out.
When she saw how I nodded to her words, she still didn't look satisfied and asked me again.
"Are you okay?"
I looked at her, barely forcing a smile. I feel weak. I don't know. Guess I wore myself out with my thoughts today.
"Look," she started. "I'm not good at this stuff, but you're my friend. I want to help you. Please tell me if there's anything bothering you. If you'd like to rant about it or stuff. Just tell me."
I pressed my lips together and smiled at her. I could just hug her right now.
"You're a great friend Tina." I said. "You barely know me, and I bet I get on your nerves because I keep bothering Danny, but you still want to hear me out. Thank you."
She smiled all awkwardly, probably doesn't know how to respond to compliments.
Danny is so lucky to have her. And Tina's so lucky to have him. I'm happy for the both of them.
"You know," I said, smiling down at my feet. "Danny... He used to be a really a quiet kid. I met him when I was six at Tops' mansion."
It was obvious that I was trying to change the subject, but Tina just nodded patiently, prodding me to continue.
"Tops was the son of a wealthy family, and my mum was his favorite private tutor. He had a mum once, but she divorced Tops' dad before he can even remember her face. She completely ditched them soon after. That's why he looks up to my mum. He treasures her like his real mother."
The same way I treasured Uncle Richard like my own father.
I sighed as I recalled hating on him before because I thought he was stealing my mum. I was such a child.
"I tagged along whenever mum came to tutor him. It was after school hours anyway. Danny was always there too, being the robot-boy we all knew him to be."
"Why?" She asked. "Wasn't he kind of an introvert when he was a kid? Why would he still hang around there?"
I smiled at her, excited to tell her something she probably didn't know. "Danny's and Tops' dads were both busy at work. They leave their sons in the Walls Mansion because one, the security was tight, which was really needed judging by their statutes, and two, because they're cousins."
She kept nodding at the new information until I said that last part. Her eyes practically bulged out of her sockets. It was so funny!
"The two idiots were related?!" She practically yelled. "I thought they were just best friends."
I shook my head. "Their dads were first cousins. Which makes them second cousins. Danny probably left that part out when he told you about us. He leaves out stuff he thinks is bothersome."
She held her face and then rolled her eyes, probably smacking Danny in her mind right now for not telling her.
It was entertaining to see her expressions, as sadistic as that sounds. And it made my heart swell. My robot best friend finally has a girl. But not girlfriend. I don't get those two.
They should make it official as soon as they can. I don't understand why they're taking so long. They like each other. Why aren't they going out yet?
They needed a little push.
And so I thought of an innocent scheme to give them the push they need.
"Ahh," I closed my eyes smiling as I recalled a childhood memory. "Makes me remember how Danny cried when we asked him to open that jar."
Tina looked rather confused, so I told her all about it.
"Whenever I tag along with my mom to Tops' classes, I always see Danny at the garden from the window. He was always sitting under the shade of an old tree, sleeping or reading a book. Nobody dared to bother him; not even the maids. He was really quiet. He was like a robot. I never properly heard his voice for the first few months he came in."
Tina looked like she didn't believe me. I was just holding back a grin. I knew very well that the Danny she knew was far from the Danny that we knew.
But it was still Danny.
"How come he was like that?" She asked, genuinely confused. "I remember him being quite the talkative boy. Always pulling pranks and all. He was a really happy kid."
I giggled. "Well of course he was like that. He was with you back then."
Tina didn't know how else to reply so I continued.
"Honestly, I really thought he was a robot. I had to force Tops to talk to him back them. He always shrugged us off whenever we tried to talk to him; he just nods his head without looking at us then ignores us. That got Tops annoyed. But I managed to persuade him to talk to Danny, and they ended up getting along pretty well because of that comic book they still read today."
"He keeps denying it, but Tops was really excited to find out he had a relative his age." I continued. Tina was paying much attention to what I was saying. "So when Danny kept ignoring him back then, he was really hurt. He looked like he was incapable of making other expressions aside from a bored and an annoyed one. That kid never talked, never laughed, never smiled. But after that day, my perception of him totally changed."
She looked genuinely curious and asked, "what did he do?"
I held back a wide smile. "He told us about you."
That made her raise a brow. It was supposed to make her feel flustered. But here she was getting suspicious. I just snorted. Danny loves teasing her so much, maybe that's why.
"What did that jerk say about me?"
"No, no." I shook my head, laughing at how distrustful she sounded. "He didn't say anything bad. Remember? He was six back then, he wasn't a perv back then?"
She looked up to think and then slowly nodded her head. "Okay. So, what'd he say?"
"Well," I tilted my chin up, trying to recall that moment twelve years ago. "At that time, I kept asking him questions. I was a really curious kid. Then I think he got annoyed. He closed his book and mumbled a word. Tops and I didn't hear what he said so he repeated it."
I paused for a while to create some suspense.
Then I grinned. "His exact word was: Poopy."
I almost burst out laughing when her eyes widened in surprise. She wasn't expecting that now was she?
"We thought he was nuts. Tops even asked him if he wanted to use the bathroom. Every time we asked him what he was doing or what he was thinking about, 'Poopy' would always be his reply."
Tina looked like she didn't believe it, but I could tell her heart was racing. It was such a sweet yet sad memory. Poor little Danny.
I went on with my story.
"Then one time, the three of us went to the kitchen and looked for something good to snack on. Since the family chef wasn't around, we opened all the cupboards. Luckily, I found a jar of peanut butter..."
I paused again to take in Tina's reaction. She actually looked sympathetic. Maybe she already knew what was gonna happen next.
"I gave Danny the jar and asked him to open the lid since it was too tight. He didn't do anything. He just stared at it. He stared at the jar so sadly. Tops and I quietly observed him and we were both surprised when a tear trickled down his cheek. He quickly wiped it off with the sleeve of his shirt but we knew he was weeping."
I sighed, remembering how hopeless Tops and I were in that situation. We were still kids, we had no idea what to do.
"We panicked of course," I said. "We never expected to see him like that. The only words that ever came out of his mouth were Poopy, Poopy, loud, Dark Magician, Poopy, snacks, Poopy, boring, Poopy. Then the robot suddenly cried. He cried."
I released a breath of laughter as I shook my head and told Tina the rest of the story.
• 6 years old •
Tops and I were staring hopelessly at Danny over the kitchen counter. He just suddenly started crying after I gave him that jar of peanut butter.
"W-W-What's wrong Danny?" I asked, stuttering and stopping myself from crying too. Did I make him cry? Is it my fault?
Tops ran around and took some other sandwich spreads out of the cupboards. We had to use a stool to reach it because it was too high.
"D-Don't you like peanut butter, Danny?" Tops asked nervously as he put the rest of the jars on the counter in front of the crying Danny. "We'll have some jam if you want. Look, there's a lot here. So... So..."
Danny just continued sniffling as he stared at that jar of peanut butter.
Tops and I looked at each other and cried too. We don't know what to do. Danny's crying. Now we're crying.
"Poopy." He suddenly said again as he rubbed his eye. "I miss you Poopy. I... I really, really miss you..."
I tilted my head to the side. This was the first time he said something about that word.
"So Poopy was a actually a person?" I whispered to Tops. "I thought it was a code name for diarrhea or something."
"I dunno." Tops whispered back. "And what's a diarrhea?"
I rolled my eyes and went to comfort Danny. I climbed up a stool beside him and put a hand on his shoulder, like how mom does whenever I cry. "Who's Poopy?"
Tops also went up a stool and leaned over the table to look at his cousin. "Yeah, who's he? Why do you always bring his name up?"
Danny never tore his eyes off that jar. Then he looked like he was recalling a sad memory. I was getting sad too.
"Poopy..." He mumbled, wiping his eyes every time a tear fell. "Poopy was... my best friend."
I nodded. Then I set my tone to something gentle, like mum's. "And? What happened to Poopy?"
"And I can't see her again because daddy told me that we needed to move here for his job." He said between sobs. His voice was shaky.
I nodded, not knowing what to say next. That is sad. If I moved somewhere and can't see Tops again, I'd be crying really hard too.
But I still don't get the peanut butter part.
"Don't worry," Tops patted Danny's back. "I'm sure you'll see him again someday. When we grow up, let's all pay her a visit, and maybe we can be his friend too!"
"Idiot." I said. He's mixing him and her again. "Poopy's not a 'him,' Poopy's a girl!"
Tops' eyes widened. "She's a girl?!"
I sighed. "Didn't mum ever teach you about pronouns? Geez you're so hopeless."
"A-Anyways..." He cleared his throat, shrugging me off. "It's a promise Danny. You'll see her again. We'll all see her. She must be some incredible superhero since she made you like this."
Danny sniffled and nodded. "Yeah..."
"Like he said," I smiled at him, still patting his back to calm him down. I was pretty calm myself now I think. "We promise you'll see her again. When we grow up and are allowed to go somewhere without any grown-ups, we'll all see her together."
Danny slowly looked up from the jar and then looked at me and Tops. There was a hopeful sparkle in his eyes, or maybe those were just his tears.
"Promise?" He asked, wiping his nose.
"We swear." I smiled, feeling really happy he finally talked to us. We were officially friends now.
"Yeah." Tops nodded his head fast. I think he was more nervous than I was when Danny started crying. He stuck his little finger out and we did the same. "Pinky swear."
We linked our little fingers and locked the promise.
And after that, Danny just sobbed some more. We ended up crying for him too because he was so sad. We didn't like our friend being sad. It made us sad too.
Later, the chef came in and saw the three of us balling our eyes out.
Safe to say he panicked a lot more than he should.
We cried for so long that day. We only stopped crying when Danny stopped crying. When his dad came to pick him up, and when his dad told him to say goodbye to us, we saw it.
He smiled at us.
• Present •
Tina's face when I concluded my story was priceless. Her eyes seemed glassy as well. She was touched.
Who wouldn't be?
Danny's so gonna kill me for telling her this.
"That was the start of our friendship. The three of us." I smiled. "Basically, you're the reason why we became best friends. We got closer because of you."
She quickly shook her head and made a series of awkward snorts. "No, you three got closer all on your own."
I giggled. Now for the push.
"You're really special to him, you know that?"
She steadied her breathing.
"Even though a lot of pretty ladies practically threw themselves at him back at London, he didn't look at one of them. He told them he already had one girl in his heart, and that was enough." I added.
"And back when we were in middle-school, I asked him about you again. He told me that he didn't care what you looked like the next time he sees you. He said he'd like you even if you turned into a demon. How sweet right?"
It was a tease. It was a fact, but it was still a tease. And she was completely getting overwhelmed by it.
"Anne!" She said, practically begged. "S-Stop it. Seriously. Thanks for telling me these things, but I don't think I'll be able to look at him later if you keep--"
"Are you afraid of falling in love?" I asked. She was frozen stiff.
She probably already loves him. I'm sure Danny did too. I don't understand why they're wasting time.
For me it was a waste. I mean, I wasted time, holding back my feelings back then, and look where that got me.
I just don't want them to go through that. Ever. I want them to be happy.
"Ask yourself." I told her, somehow intimidating her. It almost looked like she was shrinking as I asked her the questions she probably asked herself a million times already. "Why are you denying your feelings? Why are you holding back? Do you love him?"
She swallowed hard as she stared at her feet, unable to say anything.
See, I was right.
"If you keep holding back, you'll lose him." I said, sounding a bit more emotional than I had intended. I feel like something pricked my heart when I said it. "And trust me, it'll hurt like a motherfluffer."
Silence enveloped the room for a few moments. She was busy contemplating her thoughts and I was busy with mine.
Both of us need to knock ourselves out of it.
I don't think she even noticed that I had smoothly changed the subject of Tops and I to her and Danny.
I didn't know how to talk about Tops yet. My thoughts were a mess. It was a blur.
But Danny and Tina's situation, I could see it so clearly. I had a bird's eye view of it.
I looked out the window and saw the sky quickly turning orange. How long were we in here?
"You should go back to Danny and go home now." I said, gently.
She nodded at her feet, and gave me a quick thanks before waving me a goodbye.
"We'll talk about you and Kristopher another time. See you tomorrow, Anne."
Damn it, she didn't forget about it.
The car ride home was silent. It wasn't a comfortable silence. At least, not in Daniel's part.
He kept glancing my way the whole time, probably wondering if he should ask me what was going on, or if he should just wait until I told him myself.
He could tell my silence was different from usual.
Anne's words kept echoing in my mind. And I couldn't not think about it.
I still can't wrap my head around it.
It was too good to be true.
My heart can't take it. Why was he like that? Why?
Dinner was silent as well. He tried to make small-talk but was rather careful with his tone. I just gave him short replies. I wasn't paying much attention.
I couldn't look at him.
He practiced calling my name again and it was still kind of awkward. But I didn't mind it. He was making an effort.
He was always making an effort.
That night in my room, as I was preparing to go to bed, he knocked on my door so I told him to come in.
He stared at me for a few seconds before he stepped inside and sat on the side of my bed, looking at me rather guiltily.
"Look," he started, scratching the back of his head. His hair looked messy, probably messed it up by doing that while debating whether to come up here or not. He was always thoughtful. "I'm not sure what Anne told you, but I'm sorry. If I did something you didn't like, I'm sorry. But please, please. Just tell me what I did wrong instead of ignoring me, please?"
"You're really special to him, you know that?"
"I'm not mad." I sighed, hating myself for making him feel uneasy because I didn't know how to express how I felt properly.
My heart was in turmoil. My thoughts were in a tornado.
Daniel scooted closer and took my hand. "Are you sure? Because you look mad. You can tell me."
"He told them he already had one girl in his heart. And that was enough."
"I promise I'm not mad." I said, squeezed his hand and gave him a small hug. That calmed him down a bit but he still wouldn't leave my room.
When he shifted closer to me, his wallet slipped out of his pocket. To distract myself from my thoughts and to keep my hands busy from this rather awkward silence, I took his wallet and examined the contents.
My heart almost stopped at the first thing I saw when I opened it.
There was an old photograph inside. The edges were slightly weak and the photo itself looked worn-out, like it was taken out and put back in this wallet a couple of times.
It was a photograph of me and him back when we were kids. It was taken in our garden. We had just finished playing chase back then, and we were out of breath as mom took this photo.
I didn't know he had a copy of this photo.
I didn't know he kept it all this time.
"Are you afraid of falling in love?"
"That's... Um..." Daniel fumbled in his words when he saw me looking at the photo. "I found it in one of my old boxes back in London. Yeah. Um..."
I looked up from the photo and watched the red travel from his neck to his ears.
He looked at me rather nervously and broke out into a fit of chuckles. "Please don't rip it to pieces. It's my treasure."
I was just silent as I looked at him, watched him with awe in my eyes, but I guess he understood it differently.
"What's wrong?" He asked, genuinely concerned. "Kristina, tell me what's going on with you."
I must be an idiot for always pushing him away. After all that he's done for me. After making me so happy and so sad at the same time, making me want to punch him.
"If you keep holding back, you'll lose him."
He's a butthead. I know he's a butthead, but he's my butthead. I'm not gonna lose him.
"Ask youself. Why are you denying your feelings?"
Because I'm scared to lose him.
Daniel took my hand again and looked closely into my eyes, trying to read my expression, trying to figure out how to make me feel better. "Kristina?"
"Why are you holding back?"
I took a deep breath and released it heavily. I made my resolve.
I looked into his eyes and bit my lip. I'm not holding back anymore.
I pushed the back of his neck closer to my face and pressed my lips against his. His eyes were wide open the whole time, but he slowly closed them as he responded to my kiss.
My feelings were everywhere and I even felt my eyes watering for a bit. I broke the kiss to stare at his gorgeous eyes before I kissed him again, wrapping my arms around him and him enveloping me into his warm embrace.
"Do you love him?"
When the passion slowly turned into something gentle, I could feel him cupping my cheek. Then he pulled away, both of us out of breath. He put his forehead against mine and squeezed my hand.
I love him.
"Kristina, I love you."