Easy Smile

][ for cytrink dareth ][

I swear to Iris, I'm in love with him.

But why him? Why does have to be a him, no less? Why couldn't I have fallen in love with Sheba, like I was supposed to? Why couldn't it have ended perfectly, with Isaac and Mia falling in love and raising a happy family, Garet and Jenna eventually tying the knot and having a few kids, Sheba and I marrying and struggling together to find great solutions to many of Weyard's problems? With Felix living the bachelor's life and Picard returning to Lemuria to make it livelier and throw Conservato out? Why couldn't it have been so?

I guess I have to make do with it. Isaac and Mia are dating, Garet and Jenna are trying not to explode at each other every other minute, Sheba and I are like best-sibling-friends, and for all I know, Felix has Picard tied down to his bed. That's what I'm guessing, anyways. I'm personally too afraid to delve into my awesome Jupitarian mind to find out what's going on between those two. (Jupitarian? Is that a word?)


Sheba looks up from her book across from me, her glasses slipping down her nose. Pushing them up with her index finger, she asks me, "What's the matter?"

I know better than to hide things from her. We're practically mentally connected, so if I don't tell her I'm lovesick over Isaac, she'll figure out with her female Jupitarian ways, and that's a lot worse than telling her straight. I frown and turn to face the window. "Isaac."

"Isaac?" She repeats, sounding a bit surprised. I hear her put her book down on the table. "What about Isaac?"

"Do you think he and Mia and really in love?" I hope I don't sound too strange, asking about their relationship when I've never shown much interest in relationships in general before.

"Well... Neither of them strike me as the kind of people to get in a relationship if neither of them remotely likes the other." Sheba says in her usual vague way. It's impossible to get a straight answer out of this woman if you ask a tough question. (Ask her what the weather's like and she may answer 'partly cloudly, partly sunny' for all you may know.)

"And neither of them place any value on just looks alone, right?" I sigh again, curling up in my chair.

"Of course not." I can feel her gaze on me, and without even looking I can tell she's giving me a frown. "Why is this bothering you so much?"

"Can't you tell?" I ask plaintively. I hope she's not in one of her vicious moods, when I have to tell her everything in full detail to get any advice. (She's like that a lot, though, unfortunately enough for me.)

"Tell what?"

So she was in one of those moods. Either that, or she really doesn't know what I'm trying to get at. But I doubt that, this is Sheba, after all. I decide to go around from the outside. "Isaac and Mia... They just look like a perfect couple, but really, they..."

"Aren't?" Sheba finishes the sentence for me when I trail off uncertainly.

"They're too much alike." After saying that, I realized I sounded so whiny. Maybe she'd figure it out soon. "People who are too much alike... they..."

"Can't find any actual similarities." There she goes with her vague answers again. And her ability to know what I'm thinking, so much so she's able to finish my sentences. I hear her pick up her book again, and the soft scraping noise as she flips pages. "I understand how you feel."

"Really?" Somehow, I doubted that. I turned to watch her as she read. Her reading glasses slipped down her nose again, but she didn't bother to shove them back up this time.

"In some ways." She doesn't look up at me when she flips the page.

I stifle another sigh and turn back to staring out the window. So she knows. Maybe she doesn't. It doesn't help my case much, at any rate.

[ . . . ]

"So this is... the end?"

"You make it sound so final."

"Well, it..."

I watch her as her eyes slip away from mine to stare at the grass. She has beautiful eyes, really, but they're always so wide with concern, or fright... At least, they were during our journey. She's much happier nowadays, for which I'm happy. With what I hoped was a comforting enough smile, I said to her, "It's just the end of the romance, right?"

She looks up to meet my eyes. They're still a bit wide, and I can tell she's a bit scared. Her eyes wander away from mine again as she answers, "Yes. Yes, it is."

"Are you... glad?"

She blinks in surprise. "That's a hard question to answer," she murmurs.

"I am. I hope I don't sound rude, but I think it's best for good friends to stay good friends. Being in a relationship would... strain it, right?"

A small little smile appears on her lips, and I relax. The last thing I want to make her do is cry. (Or slap me, but I really don't like seeing people cry on account of me.) "It was all experimental, wasn't it?"

"Was it?" My smile becomes a grin.

"Well, Garet and Jenna are semi-courting, but then, that's different from experimenting, isn't it?"

I chuckle at her synonym of "arguing intensely with each other for no particular reason whatsoever". But then, she knows Jenna better than I do (I'll never really understand women), so maybe she understands the real depth of their relationship. (Relationship? Is that the right term for it?) "I guess it is... At least we didn't spend all our time together trying to bite each other's head off..."

She giggles at that. I feel a lot better now, knowing we ended our relationship amicably -- it'd be a lot harder on both of us if one or both of us went away unhappy. We'll still stay good friends, at any rate -- how can we not, after all we went through together alongside Garet and Ivan? Her slender arms slip around my torso in a tight hug.

"Friends?" She inquires, a smile on her face.

"Of course." I say, returning her hug. After a few moments we break apart, and I take in her appearance -- still so petite, despite being a full grown woman. Sheba's nearly taller than her now. "You'll be going back to Imil?"

"For a visit. I'm sure Megan and Justin are competent healers, but... I haven't seen my grandparents for a long time, and neither have the rest of the villagers."

"Everyone needs to return to their hometown sometime, Mia. You'll be going by yourself?"

"I plan on... ah... borrowing Ivan's Teleportation Lapis, if possible." She had that conniving female look on her face. I'm used to seeing it on Jenna or Sheba's, but definitely not her's. It's rather... creepy, if you know what I mean.

"Good luck with that. He's a bit possessive of his things."

"So I've learned." That creepy expression doesn't leave her face. Oh well. I know Mia well enough that's she too sweet to pull a Jenna on anybody. She leans up to peck me on the cheek, and we exchange farewells. I watch her as she walks away, probably to go and pack. It's best if she leaves as soon as possible, Imil gets cold as soon as spring's over, after all...

So now I'm companionless and rather loveless. I sigh and turn to walk towards home, my hands stuffed in my pockets. Typical of me to get moody, even after a relationship that really wasn't a relationship but an experiment of sorts. Mia's better off being the sister I never had rather than a girlfriend or a wife. We're... too much alike.

If anyone, I'd date Jenna, if Garet didn't care so much about her. But then, I grew up with her, so she ends up being like a sister, too. And I'm not so big on incest, even... not-really-incest. If not Jenna, maybe...


He skids to a stop in front of me. His face is flushed and he's panting -- why is he running?

"Isaac." He bends over and coughs. I blink, unsure of what to do.

"Ivan, what's the matter?"

He coughs one last time and straightens, carefully avoiding my eyes. Strange, he normally doesn't do that. "Mia isn't with you?"

My eyebrows furrow at his question. He's being completely off topic, which is also a bit abnormal. "Mia and I aren't attached at the hip, you know."

"You seem to go everywhere with her." Ivan mumbles. I'm getting more and more perplexed by the second -- what does he want?

"And that matters... why?"

"Well, it... doesn't."

I'm seriously confused now -- Ivan always makes sense. He's always been so practical, concise, and straight to the point, and now he's being vague and hazy like Sheba. (Then again, those two spend a lot of time together.) I'm confused and worried -- what's making him be like this? "Ivan, will you tell me what's wrong?"

He purses his lips, like he's going to be defiant. Seeing his expression reminds me of all the times on our journey when he stole my scarf and wouldn't give it back, not until I promised to give him something or allow him to buy a new magic item next time we came to a town. He was a little... immature back then, but he's definitely different now than he was then. So why has he lapsed back into his little fifteen-year-old self?

"It's you and Mia." He says, sounding unhappy.

"What about me and Mia?" I'm trying to think of anything might have seemed odd at the time when I was dating her, but nothing comes to mind. I sigh. "Did Sheba tell you to do this?"

He freezes, as though I said something particularly bad.


"It's her fault." I hear him mutter, nearly incoherently.

"Her fault? Whose? Mia's or Sheba's?" I'm seriously not getting anything he's saying. I have half a mind to ask him who he is and what he's done with the real Ivan. "Ivan -- Mia and I aren't in a relationship anymore."

His head snaps up all of a sudden. I blink in surprise. "...You aren't?"

"No... Is this what you've been trying to get at?" I ask him, letting the perplexity on my face speak for my thoughts. "And why does it matter?"

"Like I said, it doesn't." He gives a little shrug, and for the first time, smiles at me.

"What do you mean, it doesn't?" He still hasn't answered any of my questions, darn it.

"You know..." He says thoughtfully, "you talk too much sometimes."

"B-but -- " I sputter. What does he mean, I talk too much? I probably speak the least of any my friends, excluding Felix, who might as well be a mute, and here he says I talk too much? (So I have lots of inner monologue, it keeps my from blabbering away all day like Garet.)

"That doesn't really matter much either, though." He's wearing that smile that comes so easily to him -- the "I know something you don't and I don't plan on teling you" smile. It fits him well, personality wise... But why am I suddenly so detail-oriented? "Thanks, though."

I open my mouth, intending to ask him a question I know he won't answer, but he takes a step toward me and swoops in from one side and plants a kiss on my cheek, effectively cutting me off. Of course I'm stunned -- who wouldn't be? I can only fishmouth and stare at him as he continues to wear that smile. The one that comes so easily to him...

Then he turns around and continues walking in the same direction he'd been running, in the same direction Mia had left me.

What was that? I raise a hand to touch the place his lips had met the skin of my cheek -- nothing different than before. But I feel warmer inside. It's... strange. Mia and Jenna and even Sheba have kissed me on the cheek just like that before, but it's never left me feeling... different.

A thought occurs to me and I begin running after Ivan -- another experiment couldn't hurt.

][ ende ][

BWAR I hope that wasn't too bad. Did I get all the tenses right? I wanted to write something in the present tense, which I've done maybe once prior... Umm... Other than that...

I hope you like, Cytrink?