You pranced around the hotel’s ballroom, mischief radiating from your every pore. Your aim? To surprise unsuspecting individuals using a branch of mistletoe on opportune moments, just for the sole purpose of amusing yourself. Some had laughed, some had brushed it off, and some had grunted in annoyance. But what you loved most about being such a pain in the ass at Christmas gatherings like this one, was being a witness to those people who finally found the courage to confess their feelings towards the other. You chuckled in delight at having caught yet another pair under your now hated and feared mistletoe, soon disappearing to find another target.
As you passed by the archway leading to the balcony you stopped, staring at what had caught your attention. Riku stood against the railing, arms crossed, gazing at the heavens above. His face appeared anything but relaxed, the frown that marred his features belying that something was up. You sighed, knowing quite well what was up. It had been the talk of the century, gossip mill chattering about it behind his back on the down low –snort, not.
His store, his wonderful, toy-making workshop, was being shut down due to low funds. He’d done his best to keep it running, but when online shopping had become the latest trend his pastime had become part of the past –har-har. Riku’s sponsors, the few he’d managed to acquire, had also backed out of the deal, knowing without a doubt that his shop would soon be nothing more than a wonderful, bittersweet memory. Those closest to him had tried to help him out but Riku was who he was: a proud man who wasn’t comfortable accepting anything of the sort unless he had a way of making it up to them. Sadly he didn’t, and so his friends had backed off.
Then there was you, and you were hard-pressed to back off. You’d pulled a miracle out of thin air, as if the man with the white beard had answered all those unopened letters you’d sent to the North Pole when you’d been a kid. You owned a few businesses yourself, having inherited them from your father and his father before him. Yeah, okay, what you sold could never compare to what Riku did –your shops specialized in selling art supplies- but you figured you’d put your abilities to good use. And of course those who owed you favors had been roped into helping you out for the allotted time.
After getting down and dirty with the supplies you owned you’d rented out a small gallery at the most visited part of town and displayed the few paintings you’d all created. The art had garnered quite the attention and, as you’d hoped would happen but weren’t certain it would, one of the pieces had been bought for quite the sum of money. And, low and behold, it hadn’t been the only piece that had been bought. Three more had, while two were still waiting for a yes or no back at your store. The excitement you’d felt last week had been amazing, but as days passed by it dwindled down to downright anxiety.
What if Riku didn’t approve?
What if Riku shoved your help away thanks to his thought pattern?
What if he got angry at your candidness?
What if, what if, what if?
It was too late to question how Riku would act, though. The day you’d set to approach him was set for the twenty-fifth, Christmas Day, to give him the news as a gift, but looking at him now had you changing your mind. And while you wanted to keep antagonizing everyone around the place you also wanted to approach the man who’d been fashionably late to this event. With a deep breath to fortify your suddenly fried nerves you walked over to his restless form, taking strength in the fact that ‘Tis the Season to be Jolly and all that folly. As soon as he caught sight of you his demeanor changed, and a small smile graced his lips. “Hey there.”
“Hey yourself,” you replied as you went to stand by his side. “Why so lonesome?”
You frowned. “You’re always thinking. Why don’t you take a break? Something might fry up in there and that’s the last thing you want to happen.”
“Pretty sure something already broke in there, but thanks for the warning,” he chuckled.
“Not funny.” Truly, it wasn’t funny, at all. You sighed at his melancholy and as you caught his eyes with yours you let out a small gasp. He was in so much pain. You couldn’t help when your heart took the reins, when you took out the envelope you’d had inside your purse all throughout the week, waiting for the moment you would surprise him with it. You just needed to see that happy spark your dear friend was missing. This was supposed to happen with more fanfare than this, but sometimes carefully formed plans changed and that was that. You handed the envelope to him, palms sweaty, breath a ragged mess.
It was his turn to frown. “What’s this?”
You explained everything, told him how you couldn’t stand seeing him so sad and had done what you could to amend his situation even if it had been behind his back. You loved him too much to see him suffer like that. Under no circumstances would you leave him like that, nor would you not do what was in your power to aid him. As you finished your small tale –or finished excusing your decision, was more like it- you felt yourself freeze on the spot as you took in his reaction. He was too still on that balcony, staring at that piece of paper as if it had come to life or something. Time seemed to crawl by, making your head spin, your heart beat erratically, as he’d yet to say a thing. It became too much after a lifetime seemed to pass –though it had probably been minutes, honestly.
“Please, say something, anything,” you burst out saying, trying to break him out of the stupor he seemed to have fallen in. And it worked, your name coming out of his mouth in a small whisper nearly breaking your heart in two.
“I can’t… You know I can’t- There’s no way I can accept this.” His hands gripped the envelope hard, though you noticed he was careful with it, the contradiction a testament to how he felt at that moment.
You closed the distance between you, held his hands in a soft grip that had his eyes coming up to meet yours once more. “I think it goes without saying that this right here? It’s more than you deserve. You’ve done so much, helped out so many people, never expecting a thing in return. This is but a small recompense compared to your deeds.”
He shook his head, opened his mouth to keep arguing the point, wanting to deny all of that. You spoke over him, “And if it’s hard for you to accept this gift, think of it as me being a selfish brat, wanting to see you smile more than anything else. That right there is the best outcome I can hope for.”
He stared at you for so long, you thought Christmas had come and gone. You forgot to breathe at the heaviness of it all, but then you took a deep, deep breath as he gave you that which you sought, the most captivating smile you’d ever seen in your entire life. He reached out to you, reverently caressing your cheek with the tips of his fingers. “Only you would dare to go against me.” The fingers softly trailed over your cheek. “And only you could get away with it.” He gave you another radiant smile, causing your breath to hitch.
“Is that a yes?” You had to know, had to hear it coming from him, that he accepted your gift in benevolence and gratitude instead of rejecting it altogether.
He grinned. And nodded. The breath you’d been holding went out in a woosh and you grinned back, ecstatic that things had gone well even though you’d stepped out of line according to his thought pattern. You were about to express to him just how relieved you were, but out of your periphery you caught movement and knew without a doubt that you were about to get interrupted. You stepped back so whoever had come to greet the man beside you could get to him. And then it happened.
That someone turned out to be a few someones, the same amount of people you’d been using your mistletoe on. And on Tidus’ grip? By yours and Riku’s head? The mistletoe you’d had before. How had he gotten it? A sudden memory filtered across your mind, of you dropping it to the floor without a care as you’d approached Riku earlier. And as that happy little thought bounced back and forth, all noise seemed to fade into the background as Tidus said, with an evil glint in his eyes, “You know the drill.”
Your eyes opened wide as saucers, head whiplashing as you turned towards Riku. You stammered, tried to stop this from happening, from exposing that very well hidden secret that no one, not even your closest friend, knew, but it was too late. Everyone around you started chanting, “Kiss, kiss, kiss!” and you were adamant to let them all stew in their stupid revenge as you took your leave. But then something miraculous happened, something that would later have you reflecting that, if it hadn’t been for this moment in time, you wouldn’t have found out that the man at your side had also harbored a secret of his own.
He stepped towards you again. Held your face tenderly. Stared at you as if no one else were around, as if you were the only thing holding him, grounding him. Your widened gaze couldn’t decide on what to capture, he was so breathtaking. His lips graced yours. “Thank you,” and then he fully pressed them together, robbing you of what little breath you’d managed to hold in.
Stars above, he’s kissing me, was the last thought you had before letting everything go, relishing in the moment. And in this fragment of time you gave thanks to whichever deity was hearing you out that everything had panned out not as you planned, but as it needed to be.