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The Ring

A CCS fanfic by Sakura

Standard disclaimers apply.

Slightly edited version up 2002.9.4.

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Do you really want to know what happened that day?  If you promise not to laugh, I'll tell you everything.  I won't glaze over certain details, although right now I'm starting to have second thoughts about this because I can already see your mouth starting to twitch in anticipation.

Don't laugh.

All right.

The saleslady leaned over the counter with the small velvet box that cost me more than half of my savings, giving me a knowing wink as she pressed it into my trembling palm.  Here you go, sir, thank you very much.  And oh --- here she lowered her voice into a conspiratorial whisper --- good luck!

I must've looked stupid standing there, rooted to the spot, gaping at the box in my hand because she giggled and whispered reassuringly, don't worry, I'm sure she'll like it.  It's a very beautiful ring.

And how I wanted to grab her by her silk scarf and scream in her well-painted face, do you know what you just made me do here?!  You actually made me buy a ring!  I'm giving this ring to a CHILD, for heaven's sake!

That's right. Because you ARE a child, although you act and talk as if you were a woman about my age. Sometimes.

Anyway.

Instead of handing over the box and asking for my money back, I smiled stiffly and managed to turn around and walk out of the store, unsure of where to go next.  I ended up at a cafe where I had a cup of coffee and a good smoke.

I only had one stick, mind you.  And at that time I still hadn't promised to give up smoking, remember?

Anyway, I fished out the box from my coat and stared at it.  My head was reeling.  To give or not to give.  My mother's voice suddenly rang out in my head.  She called again the previous night, asking about my --- as she so lovingly put it --- miserable bachelor's life, urging me to go out and buy a ring and give it to the first girl I fall head over heels in love with.  There must be somebody, ANYBODY out there, she declared, and I could almost see her rolling her eyes heavenward at the demise of her only son, a grade school teacher earning a decent salary, living alone at the age of twenty-five, no love life to speak of whatsoever.  Before she went on to propose to fix me up for a marriage meeting (like she does just about every time she calls me up), I took a deep breath and finally told her yes, I was in love, and yes, in fact, I was just about to go out and buy a ring.  She was quiet for about three seconds, then she shrieked into the receiver, so loud that I almost fell over in my seat.  You're serious?! she was screaming.  You're not serious!

Well, I WAS.  Or at least I thought I was.  But I was looking at the ring again and started having second thoughts about the whole thing.  Proposing to a twelve year old?  It was definitely crazy.

I hid the box in my pocket, drained my cup and went home.

I tried to get some sleep but I was too stressed out to relax, so I got a beer and took out the test papers and started grading them.  (You got an A, as usual.)  When I finished I lay in bed thinking the same thoughts I've been thinking ever since the time I realized that I was dead serious about you --- of all the people in this whole world, why did it have to be you?  And why did you have to be twelve years old?  If we DO get together, you grow up to be twenty or so and I'd still be old enough to look like your father, and when you grow up to be even older than that I'd look old enough to be your grandfather---

Et cetera, et cetera.

I asked myself, would you want to wear this ring in the first place?  Would you wear it even after finding out what it really stands for?  This ring will bind you to me.  Forever.  And you're so young; you have so much ahead of you.  Who knows where you might be in n years?  Maybe you'll be in love.  Maybe you'll get married, have children, live happy.  Giving you a ring at twelve would keep you from being free to find things out for yourself.  I'd be holding you back from all the people you still might meet, the loves you still might have...

So in the end, I finally decided to keep the ring in my drawer and let it remain there until I meet another woman to fall in love with. 

If I still had my heart to give.

Sorry, I couldn't resist a cliché every now and then.

Then before I knew it, it was another day.  I dressed up and went to work.  You knocked on the door of the library in the afternoon, and looking into your lovely brown eyes I knew you were nervously expecting it.  But I didn't give you anything; I talked and laughed as if nothing were wrong, and soon your brown eyes were clouding over and your smile was fading away and it was too much for me to bear.

So much for keeping the ring in my drawer forever, then.

Tomorrow, I whispered, tomorrow I'll give it to you.  I was tempted to add, remember, this ring isn't just a plaything, you know.  It took a hefty chunk out of my salary and cost me my sanity. Cast it away and I will be a broken man forever.

You said, tomorrow then, and you smiled, and I was actually surprised to see that you understood. Yes, you knew what the ring meant, yes, you knew how much it meant to me, and yes, it meant a lot to you too.

So the next day I went up to you and slipped it on your finger.

And there you have it.

But the story doesn't end there.

In fact, it's just beginning.