A/N: Just so everyone is aware, for all the chapters that are based on what Tsunpal has to say in the second game - which will only be two: this one and one more - I will be providing my own translation. The reason for this is that I was rather disappointed with how the official localization handled his character and I would rather write on my own translation than one that miffs me.
With that said, I gotta give a shout-out to Yume, who prompted me to write this on Tumblr! I suppose this could be considered the extended/re-edited edition of that original piece.
This Chapter Was Inspired By:
"Idiots! Of course I could teach you all kinds of secrets about that dumbass! But, no matter what you assholes do to me, there's no way I'll sell out my friend!"
"For the last time, I'm not telling you anything about Jude!"
"Oh come on, you're the one who said that you've known each other since you were kids! What was it you said - rivals or something stupid like that? You must know tons of Jude's secrets!"
"Yeah, won't you tell us, pretty please? We just want to know a little secret or two. That's no big deal, right?"
"As if I would tell them to you, you freakin' fangirls! Jude's got enough to worry about without you blabbing his secrets everywhere!"
"Well I am not leaving this spot until you tell me something. We can stand here all damn day if you want."
"Yeah, all damn day!"
Tsunpal felt his hands clench and unclench. He already knew that these women could stand here all damn day because they had been doing just that every day for approximately the past two weeks. Try as he might to shake them, they hung around as if they were the most persistent of parasites.
That dumbass owed him. Big time.
So today, as all the days before, progressed with the plodding pace Tsunpal had grown used to. Once it became clear that words had no power to sway him, the women attempted to wrench an answer from him under the power of their glares alone. From sundown to sunset, the trio maintained their positions by the entrance to the Leronde Lodge, exchanging dark looks and the occasional phrase of hatred. By the time the women finally gave up for the day, it was already dark. However, the darkness didn't deter them from leaving him with an icy glare and an unspoken promise: tomorrow would be much of the same.
"Bring it on, assholes," Tsunpal muttered under his breath as he watched the women enter the lodge and close the door with a noticeable bang. They probably meant that as a tiny form of victory, but after two weeks of no progress, it was beginning to lose its potency. Now, Tsunpal liked to view it as a victory of his own: the sound of the harpies finally flying back to their cave for the night.
Left alone in the now-dark streets of Leronde, Tsunpal gave himself a hundred count before moving from his assumed post and making his way down Leronde's main street. Giving the occasional glance over his shoulder to ensure that he wasn't followed, he hastened his steps and ducked into the entryway of the Mathis' clinic. One more look down the street, a sigh of relief, and a smile finally finding it's way to his face was its own unique reward for putting up with those women all day.
Well that, and knowing that he was helping out Jude.
Immediately shaking that idea out of his head, Tsunpal slid open the door to the Mathis Clinic the tiniest amount. Pushing his ear against the crack, he listened for the voice of the other Elympion woman who had been hounding Ellen about working in the clinic. Although there wasn't any solid evidence to say that this woman was another desperate Jude fangirl, he certainly wasn't going to take any chances.
Not hearing anything resembling the woman's voice, he opened the door the rest of the way and strode into the clinic's waiting room. All eyes swiveled to him and Tsunpal could have sworn that teasing smiles immediately painted the faces of everyone in the room.
"Ah, Tsunpal," He heard the easily recognizable voice of Ellen Mathis greet him, "Have you come to let Jude know that it's safe for him to emerge from hiding in the archives?"
"N-No!" Tsunpal responded instantly as he rounded to face her, "I just came to tell the dolt what a freakin' pain in the ass he is to me. Why the hell am I suddenly his keeper!?"
"Ah, quit playing coy," an old man at the back of the waiting area call out, "We've watched you and Jude since you were tots. You always react like this, especially when you're doing something nice for Jude."
"That's right," the old woman right next to Tsunpal chimed in, "There's nowhere for you to hide in a tiny town like Leronde. We all know that you-"
"Agh, just shut up, all of you!" Tsunpal screamed as he turned positively crimson with embarrassment. He was going to pile additional denial on top of those already supplied, but his tongue and wits failed him as he listened to the ever-so-knowing laughter surrounding him. Even Ellen was gently joining in!
"Well, Jude is exactly where you would expect to find him," Ellen said as she subtly hushed the patrons, "Just in case you want to make sure he knows the extent to which he is a 'pain in the ass'."
Tsunpal's cheeks flared with new heat as he pushed through the waiting room and into the back hallway of the clinic. As soon as he was out of sight, he began to take deep, gulping breaths, trying to force away the unneeded flush that permeated every fiber of his being. Unfortunately, any attempts at calming down were instantly dashed as he saw Jude emerge from the archive room, a look of confusion on his face.
"What the hell are you doing?" Tsunpal hissed as he closed the gap between them, "You're supposed to wait for the secret knock to signal that the coast is clear!"
"I heard you yelling in the entryway," Jude responded with a shrug.
"...You heard that? Did you hear what they were talking about!?" Tsunpal grabbed Jude's shoulders and was deeply tempted to shake him. If he had heard...oh Maxwell, if he had heard that conversation...
"Not really. You were the only one that was loud enough for me to hear clearly. You really have no indoor voice, you know that, right?"
"You shut up too!" Tsunpal yelled even though relief flooded through him as he released Jude with a gentle push for good measure, "I'll be as loud as I damn well please!"
"Yeah, yeah," Jude responded with a sigh, "I've certainly learned that lesson over the years."
"Hey wait a minute..." Tsunpal said as his mind returned to the present situation, "We're not done with our conversation! Just what are you doing out of the hiding spot?"
"I told you, I heard you yelling, so I figured the coast was clear."
"That's. Not. The. Secret. Knock."
"...Would you like me to go back in the room so you can do your secret knock?"
"No, that would be stupid! Next time, just make sure that you wait for it. I don't want your idiocy at the last second to be the reason that all my efforts go to waste."
"You know, I really think you're taking way too many precautions. I'm pretty capable of looking after myself."
"Well of course you can look after yourself, dumbass. But, I want to protect you!"
As soon as the words escaped him, he wanted to take them back, especially with the look of surprise that crossed Jude's features. Incoherent syllables began to pour forth from Tsunpal's mouth as he scrambled to find some way to cover his mistake. He had just admitted that out loud! He had just admitted that out loud! Shit, shit, shit!
"J-Jude! D-Don't! No, I-!"
However, Tsunpal's stuttering stopped the minute he looked at Jude's expression.
He was smiling, his features softening as he held Tsunpal's gaze. Any progress Tsunpal might have been making towards stringing together a coherent sentence was instantly lost as all his thoughts were snatched away sans one:
Damn was Jude cute when he smiled.
"Thank you for protecting me, then," Jude said, seemingly oblivious of all the mental anguish Tsunpal had just put himself through, "Fame has brought with it a lot of problems that I didn't plan for. It's nice to know that at least when I'm home I have a friend who ensures that I can have a few moments to myself."
"…Lunch?" Jude echoed in confusion.
"You can thank me by going to lunch with me, you twit. We never did get to sit down and catch up because you're always so freakin' busy saving the world."
"Okay, okay, we'll go to lunch together tomorrow if that's all I need to do to thank you. Sound good?"
Jude gave another quick smile before heading down the hallway and rounding the corner. Tsunpal listened until he heard the sound of the door shutting behind Jude. He rested his forehead on the wall and silently demanded that his heart rate return to normal. Unfortunately, it took a hundred count before he felt composed enough to finally give voice to what was on his mind.
"Goddamit Jude, you're such an idiot…"