Chapter 6 - The Hundred Kisses
There are two things I can't believe I did tonight:
One - I kissed her.
Two - I kissed her again.
Somebody please tell me what the hell is wrong with me. I know she'll probably hate me for real this time but I just couldn't help myself. I felt giddy and happy.
Forgive me, my male-pride, to exchange you with my stubborn stupidity.
"W-Wait!" she cried out, grabbing my hand which was pulling her wrist. "Slow down! You're too fast!"
This time, my stupidity took over my brain and caused me to secretly smile all shy-like to myself. I mean, that's the only explanation right? What else could it be?
But maybe another reason was because I recalled a faint memory of my childhood, the one where Poopy chased me all around their garden, and she'd shout, 'Peanut Butter, wait for me! No fair! No fair! You're too fast!"
I feel so fuzzy. Bits and pieces of my childhood memories are coming back every minute I spend with her.
It's strange. But it's a good kind of strange.
"Daniel!" she yelled. I halted in my steps and peeked at her from my shoulder. She was softly panting. "You're unfair... Walk slower would you? I'm having a hard time with these stupid high-heeled shoes."
"Ah," I foolishly grinned, as I saw the resemblance of the past and the present Poopy. "Then shall I carry you like a princess?"
She quickly withdrew her hand from my grasp and rose up her fists, making a stance as if she was getting ready for a fight. This girl, seriously.
"Back off Romeo! You're messing with the wrong Juliet!"
It was cute.
I snorted and walked closer to her. I wonder how nervous she'll get.
"S-Stop! I'm warning you!" she said, but her brave words came out too weakly. "You're gonna regret it!"
"I'm so scared I might pee," I straightly replied, but sarcasm obviously dripped from my mouth. "I wonder what I'm gonna do with this midget."
After hearing the word midget she immediately reacted. Haha! She was offended! Truth was, she wasn't really that short. She was probably five foot something, but since I was a head taller than her, I called her that. I didn't know she'd be affected though.
"Who are you calling midget you butthead?!"
I can't help it. I want to tease her. I really like it when she gets mad. What the hell is wrong with my brain these days it has turned into its sadistic side.
"My, my," I said in a mellow accent. "Easily offended aren't we? Little girls should watch their tongues when speaking to guys. What if a guy will suddenly act hostile towards you?"
I put emphasis on the little. This is fun!
"So what?!" she huffed with annoyance. I noticed how she'd always bite her lip when she's mad, and how she breathes heavily, like a boar getting ready to charge. A very tiny boar. "I'll beat him up! And don't call me a little girl, you stupid pig!"
What a coincidence. I called you a cute pig in my thoughts too.
"Hmm?" I hummed as I slipped both my hands on my pockets. I looked at her curiously - she was serious? She'd really beat up a guy? Was she capable of that?
Curious, I decided to have a little experiment.
"What if I was that hostile guy? What if I do something to you right now?" I walked closer and closer to her, making her more and more uncomfortable.
She took weird steps back. She still couldn't walk straight with those heels, much more walking backwards. "Stay away!"
As she took another step back, she accidentally stepped on her gown and almost fell on her butt. I, for one, happened to predict something like this would happen, so I quickly saved her by grabbing her hand and holding her close to me. The way I held her back at the gym.
A look of relief followed by surprise crossed her face. I was just smiling playfully at her. "You see? You're so defenseless."
She seemed paralyzed. I just held her still for a few seconds until she finally reacted. "Let me go."
She fixed herself up... or something like that. She was probably just trying to keep her hands busy so she'd have an excuse to look like she wasn't bothered with what I did.
"Ha-ha," I grinned, putting my face dangerously closer to hers. I don't know why I keep doing that. My body is moving on it's own. "Your face is red again."
She jumped slightly, but she covered it up by clearing her throat in an awkward way. She's so cute. And I'm a jerk for taking advantage of her.
I can't believe I'm saying things like cute even if it's not out loud.
"We should go to the food stalls around here, let's not waste the prize money," she said with a straight face. "Now stop being such a baboon and let's go."
"Okay." I muttered, slightly offended with what she just called me. "You sure you can walk? I can carry you if you want."
I was serious when I said that this time.
"No thank you," Poopy wobbled towards the hotdog stall. This fool is forcing herself to walk. I know this because I had a friend back at London who wore shoes like those and ended up getting painful blisters on her feet. Was she really fine?
"Mmm. I smell something good around here." She said as she inhaled a sweet scent.
Ah well. Let's just see what happens.
"Oh!" she cried. She pointed towards a bright area surrounded by many people. "Daniel, I wanna play that shooting game too."
Poopy's inner child has awakened.
We've been walking around from stall to stall for over an hour now. She ate at almost every kiosk and won prizes from all the games she played. I still can't believe there was a place like this at school. This is actually the football field, but now it's filled with lights, food stalls and game stalls.
A festival is amazing. I've never been to one before but I think this one's amazing. Or maybe it's just amazing because she's with me.
"Yeah, yeah." I replied, getting kind of bored. All I've been doing was follow her around as she played and ate. I feel like a guardian. I couldn't help it. I was still worried about her feet. But despite that, she looked so excited about these games.
I bet she's gonna make the vendor cry.
"Waaaah..." A number of people crowded just to see her make clean shots so easily. She accurately shot the small toys in front of her and won a lot of prizes. Even I was impressed.
The guy beside me clicked his tongue and whistled at her. "This chick's good. I wonder if she's alone?"
I glared at him unconsciously. Who's he calling a chick? And I don't think he's a student of this school. He probably noticed my heavy stare since he flinched involuntarily. "Sorry! I didn't know she was your girlfriend." He quickly turned around and ran away.
Bastard. What did he mean girlfriend?
I can only wish.
I mean what? What? I've only met her again last night and this is how my brain functions? This is so strange. This feeling is so foreign yet familiar. Maybe it's because I liked her back when we were kids? But that was twelve years ago.
This is so weird. Why am I thinking like this? Ridiculous.
"Miss..." The vendor muttered desperately. "Aren't you satisfied yet?"
Shrugging my thoughts aside, I felt sorry for the poor guy. And Poopy gathered quite a crowd too.
"I'm bored," I told her, tugging her arm at that. "Let's go somewhere else. Your hands are already full of prizes."
She looked at her arms to see what I was talking about; she was holding a lot of packages containing food. Yes, instead of small plush toys, the prizes were small packages of snacks. "Um... Yeah. I think I did win a little too much."
I did the guy a favour. When we left, the vendor gave me a grateful and relieving smile.
We both walked around the school grounds with no destination at all. It was quiet between us, but it wasn't awkward. I was just following her from behind, silently observing her movements.
I noticed that she walked slower this time, and she walked like she was wearing heavy weights.
"Where are we going?" I asked, trying to distract her from the pain on her feet.
"Who knows." She sighed. I saw how she clenched her fist. I even heard her grunt and groan. I know she can't keep this up for long.
This is just how she's always been. Since we were kids, she hated showing her weak side, and she hated it more when somebody sees her tears. In fact, she never shows her tears to anyone, not even her own parents. She never concerns anyone with her own problems and she prefers doing things by herself. That's just how stubborn she is.
I might have missed twelve years of her life, but this side of her never changed.
After taking another step, she stopped for a few seconds and hissed. After that she continued walking.
I walked a bit faster and as I passed by her side, I took her hand, almost commanding her to stop. She did so obediently and stared at me like a puppy in distress. Heh.
"Take it off," I said.
"W-What?" her voice sounded alarmed. She clutched her chest and stared at me quizzically.
"Dummy," I pinched her nose and she winced. "I meant your shoes. I know you can't walk in them anymore."
She looked surprised, probably wondering how I found out. She was too obvious. And innocent.
"But..." she lifted her skirt up a little more than necessary to show me her feet. "I didn't bring extra slippers or anything."
"I can carry you if you want," I offered as I discreetly took her hand so she would let go of the dress.
She quickly rejected the idea with all her might. I mean, she was shaking her head so much I thought it might fall off her shoulders. Like I said. She's stubborn.
I groaned internally as I knelt on the ground and took off my shoes.
"What are you doing?" she asked.
Don't ask me. I don't know what I'm doing either. All I know is I just can't stand seeing you like that.
After I was through removing my shoes, I was left with only my socks. I looked up at her and stuck my tongue out like a kid. She glared at me. "Gimme your foot."
"No I really s-- "
"Just do it," I sighed. After looking at me for a while, she slowly lifted her foot up and I heard her release a sharp breath. I carefully unhooked the tiny strap of her heels and took it off her feet. I knitted my brows when I saw the red blisters on her toes and on the back of her feet.
I took my shoe and slid it to her feet, earning myself a gasp from her. "You don't have to!" she said, sounding worried and guilty.
"Don't worry," I said as I did the same to her other foot. "I want to."
I don't have anything to treat those blisters. I feel so useless. This is the least I could do after everything I've done.
I hope this helps.
After I let her wear my shoes, I held her heels on my left hand and took her hand with my right. My shoes were too big for her feet, but she looked adorable so there, no complaints from me. She seemed bothered that I was just walking in my socks but I didn't mind.
I didn't mind at all.
"So," I held her hand tighter. Her hand was so small and soft. She kept peeking at me but I didn't dare look back. What am I getting all shy for? "Let's find somewhere quiet where you can rest. Any suggestions?"
"Um..." she muttered."The rooftop."
It was almost 9 o'clock, and the sky was completely dark, but thousands of stars illuminated the sky. We were at the rooftop now, at the same spot where we had lunch earlier. It was so quiet, so my stupid mouth decided to hit the spotlight once more.
"So Poopy, why here?" I started. "To take me to such an isolated place. You're cunning. Since we're all alone and all, I might-- "
"I know you wouldn't," she interrupted, as if she knew what I was about to say. "You might have changed a lot since we were kids, but I know you're not the kind of guy who'd do stupid stuff. Even if you do have a stupid mouth and a perverted mind."
She rendered me speechless. She countered my tease-attack. For some reason, I felt embarrassed and looked away.
See, stupid mouth? You got whipped. And you dragged me down with you.
And why the hell am I talking to my mouth? God. Why. Some genius I am.
"You know," she started, her eyes staring at something from a distance. "I'm kinda mad at my parents."
I quietly hummed in agreement. I understood where she was going with this.
She sighed before pushing her hair away from her face. It was windy up here so her hair kept getting on her face. Now I see why she usually tied her hair up.
"The arranged marriage between us. Was that for real, or were they just joking around?" She took my shoes off her feet and stretched her legs. Luckily the length of her dress covered most of her legs. She's just too naive for her own good. I can't help the feeling of wanting to protect her.
Is this purely out of instinct or something else? Give me answers brain, damn it.
"I don't know if it's serious," I sighed, more at myself than at her question. My mind's become a living contradiction. "But I heard from my dad, it was your mom and my mom's decision."
She seemed surprised when I mentioned my mom, because her head quickly turned to look at me. I knew she wanted an explanation so I gave her one immediately. It's not like I'm hiding it anyway.
"When my mom was pregnant with me, she and Aunt Lizzy kept talking about how marrying their children would make them relatives and stuff. Uncle Jacob and my dad went along with their silliness. They were happy, and that's all that mattered. I was a premature baby at birth, so my mom died during labour. After that, your mom decided to fulfill that promise."
Maybe Aunt Lizzy felt really sad when my mom died. Dad said they were the best of friends, so of course she'd feel that way right? I also heard from my dad that she mourned for over three months, and reminding her of her and my mom's silly idea of marrying their children was the only thing he and Uncle Jacob could think of that could cheer her up.
Dad just gave me that brief explanation last night but I still can't accept it. I gave them my sympathy, but they can't just make that arrangement without our consent. We're old enough to decide things on our own, weren't we?
Did my mom really want this?
I glanced over at Poopy after thinking for a bit. She was quiet. Ahh. This kind of conversation is so uncomfortable.
My mom, huh?
I looked at him. As usual, his face never changes. His expression is always the same, and he always wore that bored-looking face. Even when talking about his mother. I wonder how he really feels when he talks about his mom.
Bits and pieces of my memories came back when we entered this topic. Memories way back when we were kids. I remember Daniel...
He would look so sad and stare at space at our garden for a long time.
"Peanut Butter, why do you look so gloomy? Here! Flowers for you!" the five year-old me smiled cheerfully at the quiet kid under the shade of our tree. I handed him a basket filled with newly picked flowers.
"Poopy..." he muttered, his voice small and lonely when he spoke."Why do you have two people who love you so much? Why do I only have one?"
I sat on the grassy ground beside him and faced him with confusion. "Huh? What are you talking about?"
Daniel stared at his shoes and had an equally confused look on his face. "Why don't I have a mommy? My daddy said that mommy went to a beautiful place up there," he pointed towards the sky. "He said my mommy loved me so much, but why did she leave me? I don't even remember her face. Why do I only have one person who takes care of me while you have two?"
I didn't understand what he meant by then, but because he was sad, I just hugged him and said, "That's not true! Poopy loves Peanut Butter too."
"Yeah..." he said weakly as I nearly squeezed him to death.
"Poopy!" Daniel clapped his hands in front of my face. "What are you all dazed about? Are you asleep? Wake up!"
I stared at him and gave him a small smile. Back then, I didn't understand what he meant. Now, I kinda do. But does he still feel lonely now? I don't know why, but when I got reunited with this jerk, fragments of my childhood memories started coming back to me.
"Hey now..." Daniel sounded suspicious, and looked a bit annoyed. "Why do you have that look on your face that's saying 'I pity you'?"
I laughed. "Nothing."
He really is a good guy despite the way he looks and talks. He's still the same old Sir Peanut Butter I know.
"Say," he began. "You seriously don't remember that time when we made that promise?"
Or maybe not.
I shook my head and feigned innocence.
Daniel groaned and pulled his face closer to mine. He held my head before I could retaliate and looked deep into my eyes, "You made me promise you that I'd kiss you a hundred times when I come back. Should I refreshen your memory?"
I pushed him away and crawled backwards - my sore feet began to fall asleep. At a time like this! "Stay away! I told you already, I was a kid back then! I was stupid! Break that promise!"
"No can do," he said in a teasing tone as he caressed his chest. I knew I had brute strength. Every time I pushed him away, he would touch his chest for a bit. But he didn't complain.
"I am a man of my word, and I keep my promises even if they are stupid."
"I hate you," I mumbled as I buried my face in my hands. The heat is travelling back to my cheeks. I can never get used to this, can't I?
And that childhood promise. I think I remember it, kinda. My memory was still a bit hazy. Blurry images were inside my head; images like a basket of flowers, a blue handkerchief, a window and a boy inside a car disappearing into the streets.
My heart hurts somehow.
"Ah. Out of a hundred, there's one kiss down." He said as if he just remembered.
I quickly snapped my head to his direction with a look of great disbelief. He was gravely mistaken, and I have to correct this bastard who knows accounting but not basic math. "You kissed me twice-- "
Daniel sealed my words with another quick kiss. "Two down," he mischievously grinned.
I covered my mouth with my hands and stomped both of my bare, sore feet on the ground. I was defeated again. "That was the third time!!!"
"Nope, that was the second. Because earlier, you said it wasn't considered as a kiss."
"You're so unreasonable! I hate you!" I steamed. Getting angry was the only thing I could do. I hate being the underdog!
"That's fine. I hate you too," he replied, but he sounded like he didn't mean it. Why do I feel somehow relieved? Am I crazy?
I can't understand him!
A smirk was on his face while a pout was on mine. The fireworks display began and we just silently watched the colorful, bright lights dance in front of us on that clear sky. I tried ignoring the fact that he kissed me several times tonight, but my heart was going on a rampage inside my chest.
I honestly, honestly don't know what to feel. I know I should hate him for that, but I don't. I don't know.
This is all so confusing.
We went back home after the festival. We changed back into our own clothes and Daniel the butthead offered to drive me home. He actually owned a car, much to my surprise. As soon as we entered my house, mom greeted us happily.
"You two look so adorable!!! Wait! I'll go get the camera!" She quickly ran upstairs.
Daniel and I waited awkwardly as my mother let her excitement get the best of her. It didn't help that both our dads were grinning at us. Well, Uncle John was, my dad was just standing there.
"So how was your first day of school?" His dad asked him. I suddenly felt the urge to cover his mouth in case he mentions something totally unnecessary.
"Eventful." He replied, sending me a knowing smirk.
"He's going to make my job even more difficult from now on," I said, I mean whined at Uncle John. The man just chuckled as he placed a hand on my shoulder.
"Take care of my son for me."
Daniel stepped forward as well and wrapped his arm around my waist. I turned my head to glare at him but my expression faltered when his face was too damn close again. He was grinning at me. "Don't worry. I'll behave. Often."
"You sly piece of-- "
"Say cheese!" mom took the shot, at the most perfect moment.
After a long night, I finally changed into my pyjamas. Uncle John and his stupid son were still downstairs. I guess my parents missed their best friend so much because it was so noisy downstairs. But I didn't mind.
It was just the idiot with him that bothered me.
I say stupid and idiot way too much. Even I'm starting to dread my mature vocabulary of insults.
Was he really an idiot though? He seemed smarter than he looked. I held my slowly healing feet and sighed. He was at least considerate. He even lent me his own shoes. What's his real personality? I don't get him.
I was about to go to bed when mom knocked on my door.
"Honey, Daniel and his dad are going home now. Go down and say goodbye," she said.
"Do I have to?" I complained like a child, but mom didn't even hear it because she dashed back downstairs as soon as she told me. Why is that woman always so hyper?
I grudgingly went downstairs in my bunny pyjamas and found dad and Uncle John still talking. Mom joined their conversation.
I walked to the door and stepped outside. I saw Daniel standing idly by himself. When he saw me, he approached me with that same expression. "What's up?"
"Nothing. Mom told me to say goodbye. Okay. Goodbye. I'm coming back in now," I yawned. I'm too tired to get mad at him now. I'll get mad at him tomorrow.
"Hey," Daniel said. "You forgot something."
I turned around to ask what when suddenly, he held the collar of my shirt, pulled me up and pressed his lips on mine.
I didn't realize what was going on until he bit my bottom lip. My tiredness disappeared in a wink of an eye. He slowly let go, and then walked away towards their car.
"You butthead!" I childishly yelled. I touched my lip with my finger and took deep breaths. Why does the feeling of his warm lips linger so long? My face. I know it turned red again. "That was the fourth-- "
"Third." He cut in. "And there will be ninety-seven more to come."
But why didn't I resist? I had enough time to push him off.
I gave him one last glare before I quickly ran back inside the house. I bumped into Uncle John and my parents. They were giving me meaningful grins. These old fools!
As soon as I arrived in my room, I slammed the door close and roared like a monster upon punching my pillows. Why does he keep kissing me?! And why don't I hate it?! "DAMN YOU TO HELL DANIEL!"
Good feathers of every poor chicken in the world. What is happening to me?!