A Lucrative Alliance
Disclaimer: Harvest Moon, in all of its many forms, is owned by the good people at Marvelous Inc. This silly little work of fiction is not for profit, as no one in their right mind would pay for something like this.
Summary: Proposing to the man of your dreams is hard enough; what's a girl to do when he seems to have no soul to speak of? Farmergirl/Won.
When she looked back on it in later years, Vickie would grudgingly admit that the morning had been an uncommonly beautiful one. The grass was wet with dew and rain, and the scent of freshness filled the air, still cool from a night's thundershowers, though the midmorning sun was already beginning to banish the chill from those unfortunates who chose to wander far from home without a sweater, or plenty of work to do to warm themselves up.
And the little blonde, overall-clad denizen of the little farmhouse just south of Mineral Town noticed and appreciated approximately none of it, instead intensely focussed on a certain object packed carefully into her rucksack.
Something blue, and feathery.
Not to mention, the knots that her insides were twisting themselves tightly into.
Once the animals had been tended to and greeted an enthusiastic good morning that bordered on a level of hysteria that had rather unnerved cow, chicken, sheep, and horse alike, she had skipped merrily back to her house to fix something for breakfast.
No sense in making an ass of yourself on an empty stomach, after all.
No, not an ass. He would accept, wouldn't he? He wasn't the easiest guy to read, by any means, but something in her just knew that he felt the same. After all, hadn't he been letting her loiter around Zack's place more than usual lately? Normally, she would find herself chased off before she'd even had time to hop up and make herself comfortable on an old barrel. Over the last few weeks, her backside would be going numb from the hard surface before he made any reference to all the money she was wasting by sitting around here, flirting with him.
Had she been flirting? Vickie wasn't sure. Although, she thought that Zack might have a different opinion on the matter, if those knowing, toothy grins had been any indication.
She cracked an egg with such great vehemence that she would, weeks later, find little bits of shell sticking stubbornly to the floor.
He hadn't been flirting, that was for sure. And why would he? Flirting didn't make money, unless you were in that sort of career path. And frankly, the thought of Won in fishnets just didn't bear thinking about.
He might be cute, Vickie told Mr. Dog solemnly, but there were limits.
Mr. Dog had little to say on this matter, very clearly more interested in the delectable, decidedly bacon-esque scent drifting from the frying pan.
"Thanks for listening, friend," Vickie pouted, tossing the small, fuzzy animal with its huge, pleading eyes a half-raw strip of meat.
This, Mr. Dog decided, munching happily away, would go a long way toward reconciling himself to his unwanted role of therapist to a noisy, cuddly young human female.
"Planning to stay a while, are you?" the slight, dark-haired, brightly clad young man asked, one eyebrow lifting above the upper rim of his large sunglasses as the blonde hopped briskly up onto a nearby crate and settled in comfortably.
"I thought you might be lonely," Vickie grinned, catching Zack's eye and returning a wink.
"The life of a travelling merchant is bound to be lonely," Won sighed theatrically, and Vickie giggled.
"Until he meets that special someone and settles down, right?"
She winced as soon as the words were out. The little blonde had always prided herself on being good at talking; never tongue-tied, never lost for words. Too bad she had never mastered the art of shutting up.
Too much, too soon, Vick! What did Mr. Dog tell you?
Mr. Dog, of course, had told her nothing, being a dog and thus unable to speak unless through a particularly catchy song involving the entire town in a display of freakish synchronicity of thought and action.
And lots of super-big eyes, too.
Hey, what self-respecting young woman didn't know her Disney?
In her pondering of unrelated matters, a tendency she had had since early childhood when particularly nervous, she entirely missed Won's reply, and rubbed the back of her head sheepishly.
"Sorry; what did you say?"
Won hid a smile.
"There is no telling what the future may bring, Vickie. Just as soon as we mere mortals have decided that we definitely will or definitely won't, something will happen to change our minds. That is why I have made up my mind to never say never."
"You said all that while I was zoned out?"
The dark-haired merchant pouted.
"I bet it didn't sound that good," she said mildly, swinging her legs absently, heels bouncing off the side of the crate.
"You got that right."
"Thanks, friend," Won said with his second pout in ten seconds.
"Anytime," Zack grinned.
Then, as a flash of something bright blue and delicate peeking out of the girl's rucksack caught his eye, he gave a soft, incredulous laugh, and then turned to his housemate.
"Hey, Won, I just remembered some things I need to take care of. You can handle things here a while, right?"
"I can handle that and more, Zack. But what do you need to run off to take care of in the middle of the day?"
"Aren't you the one who says that a man's business matters are his own and no one else's?"
By the time Won was finished nodding dubiously, the door was clicking loudly shut behind his housemate, and Vickie was busily turning white and green and red and something like purple, in rapid succession.
Okay. Here was her chance. Just do it, kid! Get it over with! The sooner you make an ass of yourself, the sooner you'll be happily married and telling the story to your kids!
The image of dark-haired little boys and fair-haired little girls dancing across her mind, Vickie hopped down from the crate, picked up her rucksack, and started resolutely towards the orange crate that served Won as a counter.
"Oh! Are you selling today?" Won asked eagerly, trying to peek around Vickie and into her bag.
True, she didn't always have the best stuff, but she always presented what she did have with such…flourish!
"Um…not exactly," she admitted, blushing deeply as she reached behind her.
He stared at the feather in deep consideration for a long moment. A beautiful deep blue, with a bit of a sheen. Not a bad size, either.
"I have to be honest, Vickie; I don't know how much I can offer you for that. It's not very good."
"I-I'm not selling it," Vickie said hesitantly, expression hurt and baffled. "I'm giving it to you."
Won sent the blonde a delighted smile.
"That's very nice of you! I should be able to sell it for a good price."
"No!" Vickie wailed. "I'm proposing to you!"
If it had been another kind of moment, if she weren't in the process of being maybe-turned-down, she might have giggled, at his smile, growing even more delighted.
"Ah! I knew you had an excellent business sense; an alliance like that could be very lucrative to both of us."
Vickie nodded hesitantly. It wasn't exactly yes, my darling, I've loved you since time began, but it seemed favourable. She waited expectantly, eyes screwed tightly shut, for something more, but nothing came. At the distinct sound of shuffling, she opened one eye a crack.
"Uh, what's with the apples?" she asked timidly.
"Don't worry," Won said, climbing from his seat behind the counter and wrapping a comforting arm around her shoulders. "If you don't win, I'll still buy the feather from you for a good price."
"You're going to make me play your apple game to decide if you'll marry me?" the blonde asked flatly as he took the apples from the counter and arranged them on the floor.
He looked up, eyes catching and holding hers as she sat.
"It's your choice, Vickie."
She considered this for a long moment. Okay, so this definitely wasn't the way a proposal was supposed to work. But what was the point of a proposal that was perfect in every way, except to the wrong guy? She pouted.
"Okay, let's play."
And so, the apples were sorted, and the game began. Biting her lip in concentration, Vickie stared intently at the center apple as Won swung it around from one position to another, and another, and another.
"Alright!" he said after several swaps. "Which one is the SUGDW Apple?"
"The middle," Vickie replied immediately, inwardly doing a little dance of joy that she'd picked the right one to focus on for once.
"Correct!" Won declared with that delighted smile again. "I'm going to shuffle faster this time, okay? Ready?"
She nodded her assent, and the game began anew, with another successful guess, and then another, and then another, until Vickie smiled proudly to herself over the achievement of ten correct guesses in a row.
After that, the guy would have to agree!
At least, she hoped; while she had been busy reassuring herself on this point, Won had shuffled the apples again, and she had forgotten to watch.
And so, when her would-be future husband asked for the location of the HMSGB apple, Vickie simply stared back at him for a long moment, mouth opening and closing repeatedly.
"Um…right?" she ventured timidly after a long moment.
"Incorrect," Won replied with a frown. It deepened from disappointed into thoughtful, and it was a long moment before he continued. Finally, he met her eyes again and gave her a smile that seemed just a wee bit brittle, as though it might crack under direct pressure. "You were doing so well, too. I guess you just need more practice."
Vickie could swear that something was tearing a little inside her chest.
"I'll still buy that from you, if you'd like," he offered, gesturing to the feather after an awkward pause.
She shook her head, eyes already misting.
"Bye," she mumbled, turning abruptly for the door.
"Whoa, careful!" Zack boomed cheerfully as something tiny, blonde, and a little damp around the eyelashes came barrelling out of his hut at him.
He shook his head, expression growing dark as it occurred to him that those didn't exactly look like tears of joy.
"Won!" he thundered, shoving the door open with a bang. "You idiot!"
"Well, I guess that's that," Vickie was meanwhile telling herself with a decidedly threadbare sort of cheerfulness.
As she passed the garbage bin on her way out of Rose Square, she pulled the Blue Feather roughly from her rucksack and tossed it in.
"And now, off to invite all the girls to a feminist rally. With chocolate."
"She didn't have to do that," Won muttered several hours later as he passed the wastebasket, backpedalling as he noticed a very familiar flash of blue that, just now, served only to give him a queasy sensation, much akin to having been ripped off in a particularly important business deal.
Except…not. More like…ripping off his own mother. If he had liked his mother at all.
With a sigh, he lifted the feather gingerly from the surrounding garbage and tucked it into his coat before sauntering away and repeating to himself, over and over, that he was not going for this completely ordinary, normal evening walk just because he needed something to keep him busy enough to stop dwelling on the little sniffle that had floated back to him as his would-be suitor had lunged for the door. Or because Zack's glare was starting to burn twin holes in the back of his head.
As he thought about that glare again, he twitched. Maybe the Inn had an extra room.
Then, as he thought about the bright crescents of teardrops forming on Vickie's eyelashes when she hadn't turned away quickly enough this morning, he sighed again.
Maybe he should just let Zack do what he wanted.
"I can't believe what a JERK he is!" Vickie snuffled into a quart of chocolate ice cream, no more slurred than any reasonable girl might be after two bottles of wine and four hours of romantic comedies featuring women whose careers had been built on one charming facial expression and men for whom one expression would be at least double their current repertoire. "He spends three seasons flirting with me, then calls marriage a 'lucrative alliance', and then refuses to marry me because I only won his stupid apple game ten times! Ten times! I bet the frickin' Harvest Goddess herself couldn't do more than that! Well, you know what? I'm glad he said no! He's a miserable, selfish, greedy, rat-faced…adorable, wonderful sweetie!"
As her voice broke on a sob, Mr. Dog looked up briefly, then went back to slurping eagerly at the vestiges of chocolatey goo in an ice cream dish long since abandoned in favour of the far more efficient method of carton-to-spoon-to-mouth. Heavens knew what his little mistress was on about this time, but at least he was cashing in!
"I really wish some of the girls had been able to come over," the little blonde sighed. "I need some company."
She caught the reproachful eye of Mr. Dog, and glared.
"I meant, some company that doesn't care more about the ice cream than about my heartbreak." Then, when her beloved pet turned back to his share of the ice cream, without any outward sign of feeling sufficiently chastened by her harsh words, she sighed. "Forget it. I'm going to bed."
Very slowly, she put away the ice cream and deposited the dripping spoon and saucer – much to Mr. Dog's annoyance – in the sink, and then started towards the bed. Equally slowly, her face crumpled into another fit of weeping as she stood, surveying the huge bed pushed into the corner of the room.
"What a waste of money," she warbled miserably as she yanked her pyjamas out from behind a pillow.
It occurred to her briefly to see what kind of nifty fort she could build on this thing, but that idea was quickly squashed. Maybe sometime, when she was feeling better.
She threw off her clothes with vicious haste, and seconds later emerged from the swirl of garments in her very favouritest blue flannel pants peppered over with little green kitties and white t-shirt with a single bigger green kitty proudly displayed on the front.
"Night, mutt," she called to the wriggly little ball of fur curled up across the room, ignoring her disdainfully.
Just as she had seized the covers to pull them back, a brisk, sharp knock at the door made her jump a foot in the air.
"Geez, who is it this time?" she muttered in annoyance, stalking over to the door and reflecting that, if it was the girls again with some new, exciting ideas about how they could all fit into her humungous bed, they were going to receive some very cold answers (along with a good deal of taunting about how they had missed the ice cream and wine) for their pains.
"I don't suppose you'd like to buy one of my special apples," Won said with a tiny, sheepish grin.
"No, but I have a few other ideas about what you could do with your special apples."
"You're angry," he noted.
"You're observant," she noted, arms crossed.
"Look, I found this lying by the side of the road—"
"I threw that in the garbage, Won," Vickie said, nose wrinkling as he held up the earlier discarded feather.
"Same thing," he said absently. "Anyway, I'm going to keep it, so I'd feel a lot better if you let me give you something for it."
"If you've been reduced to garbage-picking, I don't think I want to ask for your money."
"Will you just take it?" he entreated, pulling a long face, and then shoving a little purse into her hand. "There's…well, I've given you a fair price, anyway."
"This really isn't necessary," she said dully, leaning against the doorframe. "But thanks, I guess."
"I'll see you later."
"Not likely," she muttered to herself as the door clicked shut behind him.
Seconds later, a loud crash echoed through the farmhouse as a pouch full of money hit the wall. Amid the sound of the money scattering to the floor, rapid footsteps pounded the bare, painted floor, and Vickie leapt into bed, drawing the covers up over her head and giving in to a renewed fit of stormy tears.
"Hey," Won was meanwhile glumly greeting the sole resident of the little stable at the far east corner of the farmyard. "Make room for another weary soul who can't go home or Zack will shave his head in his sleep?"
Shelby merely snorted and flicked his tail in reply.
Mr. Dog was right; a guy couldn't get a moment's peace around this place lately.
An unearthly groan rose from the bed at one corner of the farmhouse.
"Feel...like...crap," Vickie lamented, scrubbing at her eyes with slim, sunburned hands in a desperate attempt to remove the sensation that she was blinking around sand.
Mr. Dog gave a whimper of agreement, the previous night's repast of ice cream not sitting terribly well in his little puppy-stomach.
"Oh, shut up!" Vickie and her immense wine-induced headache thundered, urging the little animal towards the door, not particuarly gently, with the toe of her bunny-slipper.
"Good morning," a chillingly familiar voice greeted with that most curious of things, a sheepish yawn.
The blonde stiffened in horror.
Now, it was true enough that she often went to visit her special young man (or at least, her ex-special young man) either after, or in the middle of, a long hard day of farmwork. This had, naturally, led to a certain amount of grime and perspiration clinging about her, turning her cheeks shiny and her hair dirty and greasy-ish.
But this was something else entirely. This was a selfish idiot who had nonchalantly caused her all sorts of emotional damage getting to witness the extent of the outward symptoms. Puffy red eyes, dark circles, wine-and-ice-cream-induced bloating, the whole nine yards.
And besides which, she was still in her pyjamas!
"Why are you still here?" she asked cautiously. "I still don't want to buy any of your stupid apples."
"Actually, I came with another offer," Won replied, reaching inside his coat. "Vickie," he began solemnly, withdrawing the well-travelled blue feather and holding it up between them, "will you join in a lucrative and and mutually beneficial personal alliance with me?"
"Of course, you idiot!" Vickie sputtered, half-furious and half-laughing and half-crying, both her grammatical sense and her mathematical accuracy taking a temporary vacation. "Why do you think I asked?"
Won, who had fully planned on groping about for an answer to this entirely rhetorical question, found himself quickly robbed of mobility, unable to speak, and pinned to the ground as he collapsed quickly under the weight of a little blonde, pyjama-clad comet.
Mr. Dog, despite his relief that his little mistress had been distracted in the act of kicking him inexorably out of the house, shook his head.
Wasn't this just the damndest thing? Shelby was right, after all.
End Notes: Hehe! Well, everyone else has written a Farmer/Their Favourite Suitor fic, so I figured it was my turn, too. I'm gravitating to one of the guys with no canon match, because I like all the canon couples too much. Anyway, I know that no one else really likes Won, but I hope this was enjoyable anyway. Thanks for reading:)