Took me long enough to update, eh? /notfunny
I honestly have good reason to be away, but it's inexcusable since I started this. And since I started this, by God, I'm going to finish it!
CAPJHMPAgirl, Accidentally The Whole Fanfic, Guest, MikariStar – thank you for your reviews, and I apologize again for thanking you so late. If it helps any, this chapter is where we finally meet our plot – holy cow bells, about time, am I right?
The fall wind was harsh this year, blowing summer away in its first week and setting a chill in its place. Warmth could only be found when the breezes weren't howling, and the sun was sinking just past noon before it was snuffed out by fast-moving clouds. Molly's red jacket was thin, but the girl didn't seem to mind. She barely noticed her collar tapping against her neck with each passing, new wave of cold air.
Molly was staring out over the ocean among her clay raked field. The fall crops had finally been planted, and her limbs were sore from the tilling, hanging loosely at her sides. The pumpkins looked a bit shriveled, so she wasn't sure how they'd fare, but the other seeds seemed to look okay to her. Maybe she'd have a nice eggplant to enter in the Harvest Festival this year.
Her knees folded beneath her, and Molly fell with a sigh. Her knees squished in the freshly dug ground, staining her blue jeans with cool dampness. Her head was cocked to the side, and she was wearing what Chase would no doubt call a 'dumb' expression.
But something was stirring within her. Something nagging. Something that she couldn't quite pinpoint, but it was still strong enough to not go away.
It was that party, she reasoned. Even weeks later, Molly was still hung up. It wasn't the dancing, the crowded atmosphere, the food, or even a promise to follow someone across the sea. It was the music.
Molly looked down at her dirty gloves and tore them off. She pouted, shaking her head to clear her thoughts. "Well, this is stupid."
A sharp wind batted her hair against her face and spitting out the strands wasn't helping. Molly gathered her hair into a ponytail, only to let it go in frustration. No, they'd never… it was so…!
She couldn't bring herself to even think 'impossible.' The posters of Mikhail cluttering her bedroom walls were flashing before her eyes, reminding her how short life is. How opportunities need to be taken. To not be a spectator. To feel. To take in everything. Every moment, every breath, every song.
Music was alive. It was in the world around her everywhere she looked. Her cow Lil swished her tail by the old, fruitless apple trees in a steady rhythm. The wind chanted a rustling through every leaf caught in its grasp, swirling in notes around her. A stray bird whistled an unrecognizable but clear as day tune in passing.
She wanted to harness that same spirit. Molly had never felt so alive than when she was with the people she loved most, clustered together in an over-heated corner of the bar, belting out nostalgic songs. She had created sound. Sound that was hers, from her core. She was a part of that rhythm, that chant, that melody.
Molly wondered why farming felt like such a chore suddenly. Her body was protesting every aspect as she plowed her way, quite literally, through the morning chores. It wasn't laziness – she knew full well what that was growing up with Toby. Farming was always her calling, her feeling of raw creation. But as a farmer, she was sowing seeds and raising animals that did the work, winding with the grand circle. What was she? What was she personally giving? She suddenly felt as if her time could be better spent elsewhere. She was ignoring something. A part of herself. Maybe something bigger than herself…
Molly's eyes glowed with a new fire, breaking out of her recent haze. She needed to talk to somebody. About all of these tangled up cords inside. And if she was lucky, he'd still be in Flute Fields.
The brunette snatched up her gloves and shot to her feet, making a speedy dash to her house. The door barely had time to close shut behind her.
Molly wasn't the only one in deep thought that afternoon. Tongue between lips, brow creased, and concentration bursting into a headache, Chase twisted his wrist and forced the chord. The guitar gave out a semi-pleasant response, garnering a victorious smile out of the strummer.
"Finally…" he breathed, running a hand through his peachy hair. He was so exasperated with the instrument, but he was finally coming along. All Calvin could tell him at this point was 'practice,' and 'life is pain' whenever he complained about the callouses on his fingertips. Chase rubbed the tips of his fingers together, examining the new damage. But it would be worth it. Still, he missed his flute at times like these…
"Chase! Chase! Chase!"
The call made his heart jump and his smile sink at the same time. Molly was his best friend, but he would always be the first to say how annoying she could be. Always disturbing the peace. Barging into the sunlit Flute Fields like an alarm clock on Monday morning.
She panted as she came to a stop, letting her frantically waving arm drop to her heart to help regain her breath. There was a piece of notebook paper in her hand that he was quick to notice, and her smile was beaming at him brighter than the lighthouse on a clear night. "Oh! And you have your guitar. How convenient!"
Chase just watched her in slight offense as she skipped greetings entirely and plopped herself down across from him in the grass at the crossroads, folding her legs beneath her and perkily watching him. He wondered if she expected some sort of response out of him, but with Molly, one didn't have to wait long for an awkward silence to be filled.
"So! Nice day today, eh?" She finally decided on a greeting, pushing the bangs off of her forehead and holding her paper aloft. Chase reached for it, but she snatched it back and held it close to her chest with a look of horror. "You're not supposed to take it!"
"Well, what is it?!" He grouched, his arms slumping across the guitar's body.
Molly bit her lip and displayed a sense of restlessness. It was a strange expression from her, since Chase knew her to always be so sure and confident. With her rising blush, she looked downright shy!
Chase found himself chewing her out again. "Well? Just come to breathe my air? What's the matter with you?"
"Nothing…" Molly said with a shrug. She puffed at her hair and melted from her upright position into an exasperated pile. "Oh, everything!"
"Now we're getting somewhere…" he mumbled, eying the uniform writing on the lined paper. Verse? He shook his head and frowned. "What am I, your life coach?"
Molly smirked, rising to sit on her heels again. "Who else would I go to? You always have the best advice!"
Chase was glad Molly was such an idiot to not notice the instant flush taking over his entire face. He gripped the neck of the guitar and shut his eyes, finding himself stuttering. "Wh-whatever! What's on the paper, anyways? That's why you're here, taking up the precious hours before my shift, right?"
"Oh, 'precious hours…'" Molly waved off his griping, her own face glowing red as she looked down at the words she had written. She scooted closer. "Remember? Back in summer? When we wrote a song?"
"Wrote a song?" His face was incredulous. Was she dreaming, or was he drunk for this? "What are you talking about?"
"Before the fireworks!" She insisted, her voice straining just before turning into a whine. Molly couldn't deny she was disappointed he had forgotten all about the senseless words they had come up with to match the chords he was practicing. Then again, it was over a month ago… She set her jaw in determination and looked him dead in the eye. "I finished it!"
Chase had been mulling over her reference to the fireworks, a dim light of recognition sparking. He repeatedly snapped his fingers to jog his memory. "You mean… God, I can't remember the words to that!"
"But do you remember the chords?" Her face fell.
"It was weeks ago!"
"Oh, please? You have to…"
He racked his brains to try to remember what he was focusing on at the time to get the kicked puppy look off of her face. "Wait a minute! Wait a minute! Lemme see…"
Molly watched hopefully as Chase tried strumming a few different chord patterns. Her bright smile that came back quickly began to fade again as he progressed, trying again and again. Finally, he hit one that was familiar, and she shot up like a rocket to alert him. "That one! That one! And then a higher one!"
Chase could hardly recall what his fingers had just played because of Molly's close proximity; mostly her hands wrapped around his in an attempt to help him position his fingers back and her face so close her hair was threatening to itch his nose.
"Will you back off?!" He lashed out, shaking her surprisingly strong hands off and finding the chord himself. He took a deep breath and played. "…That one?"
"Yeah…" Molly nodded, confused by his apparent discomfort but glad he regained a calm tone with her. She shouldn't be so impulsive and annoying… She watched in silence as he practiced the scale, going up and then back down again. "Do, do, do…"
Chase sighed. His lips quirked up in a small smile. "Okay, then? What's this for?"
Molly raised her forgotten lyrics into reading view and cleared her throat. She was careful not to touch him again when she pointed to his left hand firmly holding the strings. "I need you to play that over for the chorus! And the rest we'll just have to go by ear… But I wanted to show you my song. Please? It won't take long; I promise."
He watched with a bemused expression as she crossed her heart and folded her hands for her plea, the paper getting crushed in the process. Chase relaxed his shoulders and shrugged. "Right… Let's see what you've got."
She smiled wide, sitting as straight as she could. After focusing on the sign post telling pedestrians how to get to Marimba Farm and Horn Ranch for a little too long, she cleared her throat once again and made a motion for him to go ahead and play the scales. Chase plucked the strings and then let them resonate.
"It's just you and me
And a cup of tea
Make me smile, make me laugh
Make me free
It's just you
When Molly had opened her mouth, Chase wasn't quite sure what to think. He hadn't bothered to give much thought to her singing voice, but he would have bet, given the opportunity, that she couldn't hold a candle in that department. Probably as tone deaf as Maya whenever she graced the patrons of the inn with a dishwashing chorus from the backroom. He had heard Kathy hum and sing light melodies to herself as she swept the floor, and it was a deep, soulful sound. If anything, Molly might fit somewhere in there between the two – completely out of control and her pitch and intonation going all over the place.
What he didn't expect was to feel so blown away.
Molly's voice wasn't the ultimate chorus of angels nor the powerhouse bay of a professional, but it wasn't just passable either. She was good. There was potential he didn't expect in her. It was refreshing, and it showed him a new, interesting side to her as she sang her folksy song.
"It's just you and me
Sailing around all seven seas
Pack your things
Don't forget the tea
I've got the map in mind
If you've got some paper
Take your time
'Cos we've got later
Just you and me
It's just me and you
Hitting the big leagues
You and me
Grabbing the Grammy's
You and I
Doing what we want to…
Molly finished the chorus and dared a peek at Chase. So far, his face wasn't telling her to 'stop now, oh God, think of the children,' so she continued. Her heart was racing, threatening to stop completely with how nervous she felt. This was worse than any kind of secret confession; she was laying everything she had on the line out for him. And he was still smiling, encouraging her to finish…
"Don't be afraid
I brought the biscuits
Life's too short
And we're gonna miss it
There are trees to climb
And roads to wander
We'll make do
As long as we're together
You've got me…
And I've got the tea!"
So she did.
"It's just me and you
Hitting the big leagues
You and me
Grabbing the Grammy's
You and I
Doing what we do…
It's just you and me
And a cup of tea
Make me smile, make me laugh
Make me free
It's just you
Chase struggled with a finish, surprised it was over, and Molly's voice trailed off with the discordance as her voice cracked with the release of her anxiety. A hand flew to her mouth to stop any other unpleasant sounds from escaping as Chase finished a scale and let the strings hum to an end. He clapped his hands over the mouth, holding the strings to finally stop. He looked up.
Molly held back the squeak of fear she wanted to release, trying to make the tingling blood leave her cheeks. "S-so? Whatcha think?"
He decided to play it nonchalant, giving her a shrug in response and crossing his arms over the instrument. "I won't lie and say I wasn't surprised you've got some pipes… And that was the girliest song I think I've ever heard in my life…"
Her lips pursed in annoyance despite his compliment that soothed her worry. She grunted, still embarrassed that he didn't say it was the worst thing he had ever heard in his life. 'Girliest' was a pill she could swallow. "Well? Is that good or bad?"
"Why?" He asked, nose scrunching with the question. "What's this all about? You're a farmer, not a lyricist."
Molly bit her lip, leaning forward like she was telling a secret. "Well… what if I wanna be?"
Chase just tried to casually look her in the eyes and let her elaborate. He made a show with his hand for her to continue.
"I… I want to start a band."
The noisy bird screaming about something over in Fugue suddenly became the loudest noise around. They held eye contact for a moment longer as the sun glittered closer to the horizon. Chase held up his hand to close the staring contest, looking away with a deadpanning glare. "You couldn't pay me."
Molly giggled at his reaction. "No, not you, silly! I was going to ask the girls. Get a girl band going!"
"You're… not joking?" He ventured, ready for the worst.
She clenched her hands, squishing the paper further, before dropping her balled fists into her lap and sinking somewhat. "It just… seems so easy. It's sitting here right in front of me, and the only thing keeping me from doing it at this point is my own free will. It's just… drawn me in. Have you ever felt like that? That something, out of nowhere, just called to you? Demanded you follow it? And nothing can quite fill the void its made."
Chase hummed sarcastically, a hand to his chin. "Hm… sounds like the exact wording I used when I told you why I was a chef."
"So you understand!" Molly held up a finger. "Because I know how that feels now. I don't want to do anything but sing and write more songs to sing. Nothing."
Her sudden passion for this previously unknown subject was rather startling, but Chase couldn't argue that kind of enthusiasm. He'd just be in the shoes of all of those teachers and peers who told him he'd be wasting his life 'just cooking food' for a living. When he could go to college for pre-med or business or accounting. Nothing hurt quite like those people shoving their rules for his life down his throat. And he wouldn't be that person for Molly.
Laying an unsteady hand on her shoulder, Chase said with all the sincerity he could muster: "I think it's… good. You should do it. If that's what you want. I believe you can."
Molly's eyes unexpectedly filled with happy tears, throwing him off guard as she took up his hand in both of her own and bounced excitedly. "Oh, thank you so much, Chase! You always know just what to say! Well, sometimes I have to pry it out of you, but you always know what's best. Thank you! You're the best friend anyone can have!"
"Okay, okay; I'm amazing – chill!" Chase scolded her, angry that he was blushing again despite that jab she threw in.
She let out a laugh and hopped to her feet. Molly dusted the blades of grass from her jeans and posed for success. She let out a yelp of surprise when she saw her lyrics caught in the wind, but she grabbed the sheet before it could get away. "I have to go tell the girls! I hope they're just as excited as you've made me!"
Chase watched in dumb shock as Molly ran off as fast as she had come, always in a whirlwind of energy. He could hear her boots pounding against the cobblestones of the bridge as she danced and twirled her way in ecstasy to carry out her dream.
"Yeah, me, too…" he shook his head, knowing full well that more than one of the people she had in mind wouldn't be feeling the same way.