Chapter 35 - Sweet, Sweet Torture
• 5 years old •
"Tina, honey," mommy said, giving me a smile. She was talking with Uncle John and daddy right now. They were giants. "Go play with Daniel outside."
"Okay," I replied as I grabbed Peanut Butter's shirt and pulled him away from them.
We were supposed to go outside and play like mommy said, but I wanted to listen to their grown-up talk. Peanut Butter kept sighing as I hid from our parents.
"Why would you want to listen to their talks?" He asked, sounding tired. "It's boring. Let's go play."
"But I wanna know why they always take so long," I said, taking my best friend's hand and stopping him from escaping. "Maybe they're talking about fun grown-up stuff."
"They're not," he sighed again as he crouched down beside me, giving up trying to escape. "They're just talking about boring grown-up stuff."
I looked up to think. And then when I had a question form in my head, I quickly looked at Peanut Butter. He always knows the answers to my questions. Maybe it's because he's older than me.
"Then when we grow up, will we be talking about boring stuff too?"
He raised his brows before he peeked at our parents in the other room. "Well, no."
I don't get it.
"Let me put it this way," he said after seeing my confused face. I listened attentively. "Let's say we're already grown-ups. If I talk to other people, then it's boring. So I'd rather not talk at all. But if I talk with you, then it's not boring but fun."
I still don't get it.
"I don't get grown-ups," I mumbled. Peanut Butter patted my head gently. Our hands were about the same size but his felt so warm. Just like mommy's.
"I don't get them either. They're a mystery," he said.
What's a mystery?
He stood up and dusted his pants, then he grabbed my hands and pulled me up as well. We were about to go outside since we couldn't understand what our parents were talking about, but then mommy's loud voice stopped us.
"They are perfect for each other!"
Me and Peanut Butter looked at each other before mommy continued.
"The both of them are getting along so well! Wouldn't it be nice if they got together when they grow up? It'll be the sweetest love story ever!"
"Lizzy, what are you saying?" We heard Uncle John laugh. "Are you talking about your and Nat's promise back in college?"
"Well," mommy replied happily. "We promised to set our kids up. We were drunk when we made that promise. Remember?"
I heard daddy and Uncle John sigh together. "How could we forget."
"Anyway," mommy giggled. "I don't intend on forcing our kids together. I just hope they'll fall in love on their own. It would be nice if they reach that development and get married in the future. Natalie would love that."
"Lizzy don't be ridiculous," daddy laughed lightly.
"Ridiculous, but not entirely impossible," Uncle John chuckled too. "My son likes your daughter a tad lot. It would be nice if he pursued her in the future, hm?"
Mommy squealed as she took uncle's hand. She kept nodding excitedly.
Daddy just laughed weakly.
"What do you have in mind, Lizzy?" Uncle John said. "When we come back from London, how do you plan on setting them up?"
Mommy giggled. "I'll just tease them a little. You boys just go with the flow. Okay?"
They sighed heavily before nodding at what my mom just said.
"Poopy," I heard Peanut Butter whisper. He was pulling me away from the wall we were hiding on. "Let's go."
I looked at him and I saw that his face was bright red. Like Snow White's apple.
"Are you okay Peanut Butter?" I asked. Maybe he was sick?
"Y-Yeah. Oh yeah. I'm fine. Let's just go and play outside."
Why does he look so nervous?
He led me outside to our garden where we usually played. It was really windy today. My hair kept tickling my face.
Peanut Butter sat on the grass. I wanted to ask what was up with him but decided to ask the other question in my head instead.
"Peanut Butter, do you wanna get married?"
He quickly sat up straight. He looked like a sitting statue. Hearing no answer, I sat down beside him and tried to look at his face but he kept looking away.
"I couldn't hear everything, but I heard mommy saying she wanted me to get married when I grow up."
He still wasn't looking at me.
"Don't you wanna get married with me?" I asked, sadly.
He quickly turned around and finally looked at me. His face was even redder. "Poopy, do you even understand what you're saying?"
I tilted my head. "Huh?"
He sighed. "Marriage. It's not to be taken lightly."
I folded my arms. "I know that."
"Then why are you saying reckless things?"
What's reckless? I don't know that word. Peanut Butter always says words I don't know. But I'll learn about them soon.
"Getting married is done by two people who love each other right? Like mommy and daddy?"
"Well we love each other too! So that means we can get married!"
"We can't!" He said. I shot him a mad stare.
I wanna wear pretty white dresses and walk down the aisle too. I wanna be with Peanut Butter and be happy forever too. Just like mommy and daddy.
He looked down, his hair shadowing his eyes. "B-Because we're still kids..."
Peanut Butter is so weird.
He kept scratching his head and coughing and made a lot of weird movements and noises. His ears were as red as his face now.
"B-But I do wanna marry you." He said in a small voice. He was playing with the grass as he said this. "When we grow up..."
Instantly, a smile went up my face and I laughed cheerily. Yay!
I hugged Peanut Butter really tight. I was so happy. I wanna marry him too! Then we'll be together forever, just like mommy and daddy!
"Dear!" We heard daddy's voice from behind us. When we turned around, we saw daddy fanning mommy's face. Mommy looked like she fainted, but she had a really happy look on her face. Uncle John was just laughing.
I wonder what they were doing there. Grown-ups are so weird.
Peanut Butter groaned as we broke the hug. When I smiled at him, he looked away and then he ran really really fast back inside our house.
I still don't get what happened but I just giggled. I can't wait to grow up!
• Present •
I can't wait to go to bed.
I'm exhausted from all the council work for today. Nonetheless, it was a very productive day so I'm satisfied.
I was inside the car with Daniel at the moment, and we were on our way home. As we were about to exit the gates, Ella waved at us a little too enthusiastically and Daniel just honked in reply.
I hope she enjoys her date with Chie later. I'm gonna ask her about it tomorrow.
I think she's gonna want to exchange stories but I already told her I didn't want to jinx it yet.
Also, I've noticed since this morning that the butthead was unusually quiet.
After he said those three words last night, I was too stunned to say it back or say anything for that matter.
My heart fluttered and I was so happy, but I couldn't say it back even when I felt the same.
I don't know, maybe I was still a bit shy? Too stunned?
No one other than Ella and my parents said those words to me before. Hearing it from someone else, especially when that someone else was Daniel, was a whole other experience. It left a huge impact.
And me saying it back?
I wanted to, but I still felt awkward about myself. I felt like maybe he'll laugh at me if I say it because it's just so out of my character.
It's something I'm still not used to.
But I know he meant what he said. I know I felt the same for him.
I just don't know how to tell him. And when I do tell him, I don't know what to do after that. I don't know what we'll be after that.
Will everything change?
I had a fear of change no matter how good or how bad it was. I don't know. I just thought that everything will stay the same.
But thinking about these things makes me feel like I changed somehow. Have I gotten softer? Is it a good change?
If it has anything to do with Daniel, I guess I can deal with any sort of change. As long as he doesn't break my heart. God please don't let him do that to me again.
When I kissed him last night and when he said he loved me, I just kissed him again and hugged him so tight.
He looked like he was just as surprised and speechless as I was when he said those words and when I did what I did.
So I just hugged him and asked him if he could sleep with me that night. Other than fearing for my life in the wee hours of the night, I just wanted to be closer to him.
It sounded silly, but I missed sleeping beside him.
He didn't say anything and just nodded. He looked too confused, too dazed. My bad.
But I enjoyed it.
I'll let him be confused for a bit longer. So he'll know what I felt when I was growing feelings for him.
We didn't do much after that. I just fell asleep in his arms. It was so comfortable and fulfilling.
I wanted to know what he was thinking, but my heart probably wasn't prepared to hear it yet.
We reached home after a quiet car ride. I jumped out and went straight to the living room. Daniel was so lost in his thoughts when he followed me from behind.
As I was walking up the stairs, I felt a hand grab my wrist. I turned around to see Daniel looking at me with such an unsure expression.
Since I was on the stairs and he wasn't, our heights matched and we were face to face.
A smile just spread across my face when I saw how confused he was. Like he didn't know what to say but grabbed my hand anyway.
A foolish grin appeared on his face as well when I smiled but he quickly shook it off and ended up pouting at me. I laughed.
After a while of just staring at each other and exchanging weird expressions, he sighed.
He wasn't saying anything.
I sighed as well before I leaned closer to him, smiling with all my heart as I neared his face.
He looked like he was anticipating a kiss because of how wide his eyes were, but I just hugged him.
He stood there petrified as I wrapped my arms around his shoulders. Usually I could only reach his waist when I hug him, but since we were practically the same height right now, I could do this.
"Kristina," he mumbled under his breath. "I--"
Before he could finish, I pecked his cheek and gave him a small smile. His mouth was still open and I think he forgot he was still talking.
I held in my laughter as I kissed his other cheek and then ruffled his hair.
With that, his grip on my wrist loosened to the point where I could take it back without using much strength.
"I'm gonna go up and change first." I said as I gave him another smile before going up to my room.
I was feeling rather giddy today. And seeing him that vulnerable was just too much an opportunity to pass up for me to tease him.
I watched him from the corner of my eye when I reached the top of the stairs and held my laughter again when I saw that he hasn't moved an inch.
God I love him.
She went upstairs to her room to change out of her uniform. While she was doing that, I quietly went to sit on the living room couch, to contemplate my thoughts.
Was she teasing me back there?
I held both my cheeks and felt my heart jump in my chest when I recalled that moment.
I couldn't say anything to her at all. I'm so lame.
This feeling kind of hurts, but I don't know why I liked it.
Then my thoughts travelled to what happened last night.
I don't think she'd kiss me if she didn't have any feelings for me. I mean, it was the first time she made the first move.
That was the seventeeth, eighteenth and nineteenth kiss. Yes, I kept count like a total nerd.
I just can't stop thinking about it.
I made a promise to her back then that I wouldn't kiss her until we were official. But she kissed me. Does that count?
I'm not sure if we were in agreement when I made that promise.
I can't help but get my hopes up.
Does she love me back? Does she even like me? Why did she look so bothered yesterday? What did Anne tell her? Why did she kiss me?
Maybe she just got caught up in the moment when she saw that I had kept our photo of when we were kids? Maybe she just liked kissing?
No, no. She isn't like that. She's not that type of person.
She's the type to think about something a hundred times before she comes to a sure conclusion.
Maybe that was it? Maybe she was just making sure of her feelings? Maybe it was a test?
I scratched my head furiously. I feel so worn out. I've been thinking about it since this morning. Heck, I couldn't even sleep last night after she did that.
I didn't expect myself to finally confess to her. My mouth was way ahead of my brain.
She even asked me to sleep with her last night. Not that I was complaining, because I loved having her in my arms. But...
This is torture.
She's driving me insane.
I've never felt this confused in my life.
If she did love me back, I wonder why she wasn't telling me. She wasn't always vocal with her feelings, so maybe that's why? Or am I just being presumptuous? But what was that on the staircase? Did that mean anything? Am I getting way ahead of myself?
I don't know anymore.
But I love her.
I really, really love her.
There was this weird feeling in my chest and in my stomach. It tickled a bit, but it was somehow hard to breath. I sighed heavily.
It was so annoying.
My phone rang in my pocket, so I picked it up without much thought. It was my dad.
"Hey son, how are you kids back there?"
She's killing me, dad.
"We're doing fine." I replied. "When are you guys coming back?"
"In about two to three days. Jake's back still hurts and my sprain is still swollen."
I resisted a sigh. "That's why you shouldn't have danced on that old table dad. I know you knew it'd break."
"Yes, but drunk me had absolutely no idea." He defended. "Don't be like me, son. I'm a terrible drunk. Speaking of, I've never seen you drunk before. What do you do when you're drunk?"
I act sober in front of everybody and act like a baby in front of Poopy.
"I guess I just sleep." I mumbled. It was partly true.
Dad said something under his breath. It was like a mumble or something but it probably wasn't that important.
"Oh right, I forgot why I called." He said. "Watch out for Richard's boy, Daichi, I think was his name. I heard from my sources that he wasn't making any suspicious movement. I heard he's just enjoying his stay here like a vacation. But we can't be too sure."
I nodded quietly even when he couldn't see me. I didn't know the guy so I can't doubt him. But I can't trust him either.
If he's here then that means he's after either me or Tops. Gather some information about us for some leverage or something.
I have no idea.
"I'll be careful. I'll tell Tops too."
"Good." He replied. Then his tone softened. "I'm glad you boys worked things out. I'm happy for you guys. Lara called. She said Anne transferred to your school as well?"
Lara was Anne's mom and Tops' private tutor back then.
"Yeah. She's doing fine." I said. Dad chuckled on the other line.
"Those kids just can't live without you, huh?"
Tell me about it.
I heard footsteps so I knew Kristina was coming down from her room now.
I was getting the hang of calling her by her name now.
"Dad, I'll call you later. We're gonna have dinner first."
He made a sound of approval. "Cook her a nice meal or take her out to a nice restaurant. Don't just order pizza."
"Okay," I said, at the same time wondering what I should make her. I know she's tired so taking her out won't do. A home-cooked meal will be perfect.
She loved my cooking so I was a bit confident. I just hope I don't make a fool out of myself if she decides to watch me as I prepare our food.
"Take care of her, alright Dan?" My dad said. "Be a gentleman."
"Okay, okay." I replied. "I'll handle it. Go and have fun. See you in two or three days."
He hung up right after, and just in time, Kristina was right in front of me. She was smiling at me as her hands were locked behind her back.
Her wavy hair cascaded around her shoulders and spread on her back. It got longer again.
I could tell she was really comfortable.
She sent me another smile before she broke out in small laughter.
She was dazzling. She looked so adorable.
I unknowingly smiled like a fool at her and almost clutched my heart.
Why does she keep doing this to me?
A few more days of torture from this girl. I can take that. I can handle it. This torture.
This sweet, sweet torture.
"Are you listening to me?" Tops' voice echoed into my thoughts as I slowly went back to reality.
Oh. He was still talking.
We were in the classroom right now. We decided to have lunch here because Tops said he had something important to discuss with me
Sean tagged along with us but had absolutely no idea what we were talking about, and he didn't seem to care.
He was too focused eating his lunch.
"What were you saying again?" I asked, sounding absolutely uninterested.
He sighed but repeated it anyway. "I said, that photo that Anne had could be an opportunity for us to make up."
I nodded, still uninterested.
I don't think there's much to make up for anyway. I think they already forgave each other but are making excuses not to talk to each other yet because they're wusses.
"I should set up a time and place for us to talk properly." He said, sounding like he was asking for my approval. "Maybe buy her a present."
I sighed as I looked at him wearily. "You two are so alike, wanting to bribe each other to make up."
"What do you mean?" He asked, ignoring the fact that I called it a bribe again.
I'm so hungry. My food's gonna get cold soon. So I should tell him quickly.
For the sake of my food.
"Back when your idiot switch turned on, she was worried about you." I started, recalling that time three years ago. "You were having second thoughts about that agent's offer because Anne didn't want you to debut. You misunderstood her intentions. She didn't want you to debut because she felt that you wanted to prove yourself somehow. She was already happy with who you were. She didn't want you to debut because that meant you were going to leave. And she didn't want you to leave."
He was quiet as I continued.
"So because she felt guilty that she was holding you back somehow, she decided to get you a present. She brought me along to pick it because she thought I'd know what you liked. And as payment for my services, she treated me to some food."
Tops looked surprised, as if he was just realizing this for the first time. Seriously? How much of an idiot was this human who shared my DNA?
"That's..." He looked skeptical. "That's what happened back then?"
I rolled my eyes as I took a bite of my lunch. "Yeah, you dumbass."
"Oh shit." He said, sinking in his seat, holding his head like it was useful. "I got carried away by the news. I... I threw her present on the floor and said those horrible things to her."
Yeah. I remembered.
"But that present..." He mumbled sadly. There was a small pause before he continued. "I still have it. That T-shirt."
My brows raised. I didn't know that. I thought he just left it on the floor that night. "Good for you, you're not a total idiot."
"I just thought of a great idea!" He exclaimed as he quickly stood up from his seat. I didn't acknowledge his actions since I was busy eating my lunch and he was being a bother. But then the unthinkable happened.
He kissed my cheek.
I dropped my food when he jumped in excitement. "Thanks Danny, you're the best!"
Then he ran outside the classroom with such speed. He even cheerfully greeted someone near the door as he made his way outside. I don't know what just happened.
I wiped my cheek with all my might. How dare he contaminate this part of my face where Poopy kissed last night.
He ruined it.
I wiped it again, grumbling, as Sean just smirked wildly at what transpired right in front of him.
I ignored him.
As I was doing this, I felt a hand rest on my shoulder. When I turned around to the direction of that person, a warm pair of lips pressed against my own, making my eyes widen in surprise.
It was Kristina.
And that was the twentieth kiss.
I was just blinking; staring at her as she didn't say anything. It seemed like she had just entered the room. Did she see what Tops did to me?
Did she do this to purify me or something?
With a small grin, she took something from her desk. That was probably the reason why she came back to the classroom in the middle of lunch.
She walked away without another word and Sean just started howling and clapping his hands like he was greatly entertained.
I found myself slamming my head against my desk, whining to myself.
Why are you torturing me?