The Way To a Man's Heart

Summary: In which Muffy falls for "the cute new farmer", and employs the help of said farmer's best friend to nab a date with the guy...but of course, things don't go according to plan...

Pairings: Muffy x Rock, one-sided Muffy x Jack, and a little bit of Nami x Jack on the side.

A/N: I honestly can't believe that I'm updating so quickly after publishing the last story...but that's a good thing I guess...

This one-shot was a request from The Scarlet Sky. I hope you like it. :D I haven't written many stories that focused solely on romance, so I hope you'll forgive me.

The entire town was abuzz with the news: Forget-Me-Not Valley had a new resident. That in itself was a rare occurrence, but the fact that the new guy was also apparently the grandson of the old farmer that had been working on the town's northernmost farm with Takakura before he had passed away, seemed to give everyone even more reason to gossip.

And word on the street was that the new farmer was cute; that was certainly a bonus. Or at least it was in Muffy's eyes. Goodness knows the town could use some more cute boys to flirt with.

And so she waited patiently for the cute new farmer to show his face in the Blue Bar, but to her disappointment, a week passed, and all she saw was the same old usual customers. Muffy was almost about to resort to marching up to the new guy's door and knocking, just to catch a glimpse of him, but at long last, he showed up.

"Hey, Muffy, can you hook me up with two of the finest drinks in the house?"

Muffy turned away from Gustafa, who had been ordering a Bodiaid, to face Rock, the innkeeper's son, who was grinning at her expectantly.

"Two, Rock?" she asked with a flirtatious smile, "Are you in a rush to get drunk tonight?"

"Oh, har har Muffy," he replied, his smile never fading, "But seriously, I'm only having one… for now anyway. The other one's for Jack. He's been busy the past week with the farm, and he hasn't yet tasted the dream that is the Blue Bar's Morning Mist."

It took only a few seconds for Muffy's mind to connect the name "Jack", to "the new farmer", and once she did make the connection, she nearly dropped the Bodiaid she was preparing for Gustafa.

"J-Jack?" she asked, "Is he the new farmer I've been hearing so much about?"

"That I am." Came a shy reply from just behind Rock, and for the first time, Muffy took notice of the boy that stood in Rock's shadow; and boy, he really was a cutie.

"So Jack," she hummed, making small talk, "How do you like Forget-Me-Not so far?"

"Oh, it's very nice." Jack told her with a kind smile, "Everyone's been really nice and accommodating—it's nothing like the city."

"Yes, well, the city is a whole different world." Muffy giggled, "Say, have you met—?" And so as the evening had progressed, Muffy found herself more and more impressed with the new farmer. He was just the sort of guy a girl would want to settle down with: calm, down to earth, sweet, shy, and a hard worker (you didn't get many of those), and not to mention that he was absolutely adorable. After spending the entire evening making conversation with the quiet Jack, and after having extracted a promise to visit again soon from the new farmer, Muffy decided that she was going to make it her goal to nab the new guy for herself.

The only question was as to how she would go about doing that. After several weeks, it became rather obvious to Muffy that Jack wasn't much of a drinker, and that he perhaps was too hard of worker; and so while Jack—like the gentleman he was— kept his promise to visit her at the Blue Bar, he did so rarely, and his visits were always short. But after several of these short little visits, Muffy noticed something: Jack never came to the Blue Bar without Rock in tow… or perhaps it was that Rock dragged Jack along with him, but either way, the two seemed to have become rather good friends, and she had seen Jack enter the inn on many occasions, presumably to visit Rock…

…and it was then that the beginnings of a plan began to form in Muffy's mind.

Knock, Knock.

Rock lifted his head ever so slightly off of his pillow to tiredly look towards the door to his room. He then glanced at the clock, which mockingly read only 10:00, which was far to early to be up. Grumbling, Rock rolled over, and tried to settle, and get back to sleep so he could wake up at a more reasonable hour of the morning.

Knock, Knock.

Rock rolled over again, and glared at the door in an angry, albeit confused manner. "Who would be trying to wake me up at THIS hour?" he wondered, "Mum gave up trying to wake me up early years ago, it would never occur to Nami to wake me up, and Jack should be doing farm work at this hour, so who…?"


"Fine, fine, I'm coming!" he grumbled, just wanting to end the annoyance that was disturbing his sleep, "Now see here—Muffy?!" Rock froze in surprise when upon opening the door, he found himself facing the Blue Bar's very own flirtatious barmaid. "What are you doing here?" he asked, the beginnings of a blush working their way across his cheeks when he realized that he was standing in his PJ's in front of one of the cutest girls in town.

Muffy, who had been wearing an annoyed expression when he opened the door, now was smiling, and giving him a rather amused look.

"Pink Pajama's Rock?" she asked, biting her lip, and just barely containing her mirth, "Well… I suppose they do look rather nice on you…"

Rock's face felt like it was on fire, and if he were to look in a mirror, he was sure that he'd find that his face had turned a shade of pink that rivaled the color of his sleepwear. And apparently his embarrassment amused Muffy, seeing as only a seconds after concluding that yes, it would be a miracle if his face weren't red, the barmaid burst into a fit of laugher.

"Once you stop laughing," Rock growled, trying to look daunting, but failing (probably due to the fact that he was blushing, AND wearing pink pajamas), "Would you mind telling me what you're doing here, and why you woke me up?"

"W-Well," Muffy giggled, starting to regain her ability to speak, "Y-you're, (giggle) friends with Jack, right?"

"Yeah…?" Rock replied, honestly having no clue as to where the conversation was going, "So what?"

"SO," Muffy drawled, "I want you to help me nab him."

Rock looked as though Muffy had just told him that Daryll had just been elected town Mayor, and had declared Monday's to be "weekly cow day". "You want me to do what?"

"Nab him." Muffy replied calmly, "Seduce him, catch his eye, get a date with him, whatever you want to call it; I want him to notice me, and since I don't know how to do that, and since you're the best friend…"

"Hold up!" Rock exclaimed, "You want me to help you date Jack? What makes you so sure that I'd help you?"

Muffy merely smiled innocently at him. "Well, when I knocked on your door, I was originally going to depend on you to have enough sense to help a woman in need, but now." Rock's eyes widened in fear as Muffy's smile turned to a rather malicious smirk, "I wouldn't be surprised if everyone somehow got word that a certain blonde haired boy who lives at the inn has pajamas that are rather… feminine in color. Why, I imagine if Patrick and Kassey got word of that bit of gossip, that they'd make sure that said blonde would never live it down."

Rock stared at Muffy and gulped; she had him right where she wanted him and she knew it. "…Fine. I'll do it."

Muffy's scary expression disappeared at once, and was replaced by her usual flirtatious smile. "Oh thank you Rock, you're such a angel!"

Rock sighed, and returned the smile hesitantly, wondering what in the world he was getting himself into.

A week into Muffy's operation "get a Jack to notice me", the barmaid had learned several very important things about Forget-Me-Not's newest farmer: one, that Jack always seemed to be working on his farm, and when he wasn't, he was at the inn, and two, that Jack was very, very dense—and not the normal kind of dense either; he was really dense, and it was driving Muffy crazy. He was oblivious to her flirting, and all the hints she was dropping, and he seemed to be honestly unaware of her efforts to gain his attention, despite the fact that she had given up subtlety several days into her "operation", at Rock's suggestion.

"What does it take to get him to understand that I like him?" Muffy asked, burying her head in her arms at a table in the kitchen at the back of the inn, "I've tried everything, but he's just so dense…"

"Uh, well…" Rock ventured, sitting across the table from her nervously, "I'm sorry that what you've tried so far hasn't worked, but perhaps trying a different approach…?"

"Like what?" Muffy asked, eyeing Rock in a scrutinizing manner.

"Well, you know what they say…" Rock told her with a shrug, "'The way to a man's heart is through his stomach.'"

Rock looked rather pleased with what he thought was a brilliant idea; Muffy however, just looked up at him incredulously. "WHAT?"

Rock however, wasn't dissuaded by Muffy's unbelieving tone, and continued to smile. "If theirs something that men like more than alcohol and woman, it's food." He told her smartly, "If you make him his favorite dish, you'll be sure to get into his good graces."

Muffy blinked at Rock, "…But I don't know what he likes; that, and while I don't burn everything I make, I'm not exactly a top notch chief either."

"No worries!" Rock told her, "being the great Ruby's son does have some benefits." He told her, rummaging through some cabinets for cookware.

"Wait… you can cook?" Muffy asked, not having expected that of the lazy innkeeper's son.

"Well, duh. My mom's the best cook in town! I couldn't have very well lived with mum my entire life and not have picked up a thing or two!" he told her, looking vaguely insulted by her astonishment, "But… I have to admit, I'm not quite sure what Jack's favorite type of food is; whenever he comes over, we usually have Rainbow Curry because that's one of my favorite dishes, but… well… whenever Nami eats with us, Mom makes Gratin, and he seems to like it well enough, so…"

"… so you'll teach me to make the best Gratin in the world so he'll fall helplessly in love with me?" Muffy asked, looking excited.

"Eh… well, I'll try."

Muffy smiled then at Rock, and suddenly hugged the boy firmly, "Oh thank you so much for helping me Rock!" she exclaimed, "I don't know what I would've done without your help!"

And for one of the first times since Muffy had met Rock, Rock was speechless, and merely pulled himself out of her embrace, and turned so his back was facing her while he looking for the ingredients needed to make Gratin. And Muffy was so busy imagining the look on Jack's face when he saw her Gratin that she failed to notice the blush adorning Rock's tanned cheeks.

"Oh dear! I burned it again!"

Rock felt as though he wanted to tear out all of his hair in frustration: Muffy hadn't been lying when she had said that she wasn't a "top notch chief". In fact, she was a rather lousy cook, as proved by the fact that she had burned all 7 of her attempts to make Gratin so far.

"Look, Muffy," he hedged, "It really isn't that hard. It's just five ingredients. This time, be sure to watch it while it's in the oven so it doesn't burn, o.k.?"

Muffy nodded sadly, and sighed as she went to work on the Gratin once more. And out of the corner of his eye, Rock watched her measure out the needed amount of milk before pouring it a bowl.

A part of him really wished that Jack weren't so dense, since it obviously was hurting Muffy, but… another part of him felt almost glad for some reason.

"Well it's obvious isn't it?" some part of his sub-conscious told him, "She's the prettiest girl in town! Surely such beauty would be wasted on Jack who would never really appreciate her the way she deserves." But he immediately shook his head at this thought, and berated himself mentally for thinking such things. So what if she was the prettiest girl in town? Everyone knew that Nami, Celia, and Lumina couldn't compare to Muffy, and admitting that to himself—even silently—meant nothing; he was just being realistic. "Just because I know she's beautiful, and because I want to see her happy…It doesn't mean anything!"

"Oh my!"

Rock was shaken out of his musings by the smell of smoke. Immediately Rock rushed to the oven, and pulled out the burning Gratin; acting fast, he put it in the sink, and turned on the water to put out the little fire that had been flickering on the surface of the now blackened meal.

"O.k., look…" he told her, "I'll make the Gratin, and you can bring it to Jack. He should be done working around now, so you'll be able to bring it to him at his farmhouse… and I'll teach you to make Gratin for real some other time, o.k.?"

Muffy stared up wordlessly at him for a moment, before giving him a brilliant smile and a nod.

Flushing, Rock set to work on making the best Gratin he had ever made, while Muffy praised him a thousand times over for "being so sweet", and "such an angel."

In the end, she gave him a little squeeze when he gave her the finished Gratin; she smiled at him sweetly said "thank you" over her shoulder before disappearing through the kitchen door, leaving Rock blushing, and feeling as though a thousand butterflies had taken flight in his stomach. And suddenly Rock found himself wondering why he felt as though he had done something very, very stupid, and as if he had lost his chance.

"But the chance for what exactly?" he wondered, "Well, it's done now; he'll love the Gratin, and they'll fall in love, and then she'll be happy, and that's what's important, right?"

"Right?" He asked, looking around expectantly, as if he were waiting for an answer, "That was the right thing to do, right? But… why do I feel as though that was the wrong thing to do?" Rock sighed; there was no use thinking about why all of this felt wrong; what's done was done, and now there was no turning back.

"Oh Jack!"

Muffy, oblivious to the internal conflict Rock was going through at that very instant, skipped all the way to Jack's farm. Feeling very much as though she could fly, Muffy knocked lightly on Jack's door, and hummed happily while she waited for the farmer to answer.

"Muffy?" he asked, looking adorably confused, "What brings you here?"

Muffy held up the dish of Gratin, "I made something for you." She told him proudly, "It's Gratin."

"Oh!" Jack looked delighted at this, "It looks wonderful; thank you Muffy! Won't you come in?" He asked, opening the door to allow her passage, "Well, Nami and I were just thinking about going to the inn, and getting Ruby to cook something, but since you've come bearing Gratin, we won't need to make the trip."

Muffy's mind froze. "Wait a second… Nami? What does she have to do with any of this?" Upon entering Jack's house, however, she found her question answered at once. Sitting at Jack's table, looking as sulky and brooding as ever, was the tomboy Nami.

"Hey Nami! Look what Muffy brought up!" he told Nami excitedly, "Gratin! We'll just have to eat it while it's still nice and warm; won't you join us Muffy?" Jack looked up at Muffy kindly, and pleadingly, and Muffy knew that a week or so ago she would have killed to be invited in his house, or to have him smile that smile at her…but Muffy knew that he was just being polite inviting her to stay; the smile wasn't hers, and she found herself feeling like an intruder standing in his doorway. That smile… somehow, she knew that it belonged to Nami, and not her. A piece of Jack's heat belonged to Nami—not her; never her.

"I always was surprised how much time he spent at the inn." Muffy mused, feeling strangely numb, "Apparently he didn't just go to see Rock…"

"N-No; you two go ahead and eat it without me." She told him, struggling to keep her voice steady, "I-I should be getting back to the Bar anyway…"

"Oh." Jack looked confused, but didn't question her. "Well… thank you very much Muffy. I'll be sure to come down to the Blue Bar sometime soon, o.k.?"

"Y-Yeah…" she murmured, barely restringing herself from running all the way back once she was out the door.

"Hey Muffy, how'd it—Muffy?"

Muffy looked up: Rock.

"Why the long face? He asked, what happened—?"

"I was so stupid." Muffy whispered, cutting off Rock's question, "I was so stupid to think that someone like him could like someone like me. He never noticed me, because he only had eyes for Nami." Rock looked startled by this, but Muffy didn't stop, and plowed on, "I'm sorry for dragging you into this Rock, I really am. I… I'm just going to go back to my room now, and forget that any of this ever happened." And then Muffy couldn't contain herself any more: she suddenly broke into a run towards the Blue Bar, ignoring Rock's exclamation of "Wait!" as she slammed the door to the Blue Bar in his face, and ran up the stairs to her room.

Muffy wasn't working at the Blue Bar that evening, and when Rock inquired about her, Griffin told him that she insisted that she wouldn't see anyone for the rest of the evening….

…which was why Rock found himself awake, and knocking on the door to the Blue Bar at 6 o' clock in the morning.

"Rock?" Griffin enquired sleepily, opening the door, "What are you doing awake so early?"

"You said that Muffy wouldn't let anyone see her for the rest of the evening." He informed him. "It's morning now, so can I see her?"

Griffin hesitated, but finally opened the door so that Rock could get in. "You can try, but I won't guarantee that she'll let you in."

"Thank you." And with that, Rock marched past Griffin, and scaled the stairs that lead to Muffy's room.

Knock, Knock.

Muffy lifted her head from where it had been resting on her desk and sighed. "I'm not coming out Griffin." She grounded out, "So go away."

The person behind the door seemed to hesitant before speaking up. "Well, if you won't come out, can I come in?"

Muffy's eyes widened in surprise, and she rushed to the door. "Rock?!" Rock grinned sheepishly and nodded. "What are you doing up at this hour?"

"Making sure you're alright." He told her, looking strangely serious for once, "Can I come in?"

"O-of course." Muffy moved aside, and Rock strode into her room, and spoke again once she had closed the door.

"So Nami and Jack are an item?"

"It seems so." Muffy agreed sadly, "I don't think I ever had a chance."

Rock said nothing for a moment, as if gathering his thoughts, but then at last, he spoke slowly, as if thinking very hard about what he was about to say. "Well… I think… that if he's stupid enough to pass up a chance with you… that… perhaps… you don't deserve him; you deserve better. You deserve a guy that'll appreciate you without you trying so hard to get his attention." He told her, "So… don't worry about it. There are plenty of other guys out there that would kill to have a date with you."

Muffy smiled sadly. "If that's true, I'm afraid I haven't met a single one of them; people always tell me that I'm beautiful, but no one in the world seems to want to actually be with me. I'll have to face it sometime; I'm just the sort of girl that guys like to look at, but not the kind of girl anyone wants to be with…"

"That's not true!" Rock exclaimed, his eyes glinting in a way Muffy had never seen before, "You're a wonderful girl Muffy, and anyone would be crazy to not want to be with you!"

"Don't say things just to try and cheer me up Rock—" Muffy began, but Rock cut her off.

"I'm not just saying things Muffy! I mean… well… If it had been me you had been trying to nab these past few weeks, and not Jack, I would have asked you out in a heartbeat!" Rock looked determined throughout his declaration, but once he was finished, and realized what it was that he had just admitted, his face turned a rather brilliant shade of scarlet.

"I-I have to go now." He stuttered out, turning redder by the minute and fleeing the room before Muffy could even get in a word edgewise, leaving the girl to stare blankly at the space Rock had occupied only moments before.

"Is Rock for real?" she wondered, "Is he serious? And… how could I not have noticed?" Slowly, shakily, Muffy rose to her feet, and gazed out the window, where she saw Rock's silhouette in the morning light dash towards the inn. All along, she had been so focused on hooking up with Jack, the so called "perfect" husband, that she hadn't noticed that perhaps, there was a guy that was just as good right there in front of her.

Rock wasn't exactly the definition of the ideal guy, but… even though he was far too lazy, and a bit of a bum sometimes, Rock was sweet too, as well as kind and gentle… and he actually was pretty cute, and could cook which was a plus in her book.

"And speaking of cooking," she mused, "I think I have a plan to make up for being as oblivious to his affection as Jack was to mine…"

Knock, Knock.

Rock sighed, and gazed at the door in annoyance; it was probably his mother knocking, since it was not only later then he usually got up, but almost night, and he still hadn't left the room once… well, not since he had gotten back from accidentally admitting that he rather liked the idea of dating Muffy to said girl's face. If he just ignored it, Rock was sure that the knocking would cease eventually…


…but of course, Rock had seemed to be wrong about a lot of things recently, so why not this too?

"I'm coming, I'm coming…" he muttered, "Now mom, I don't want to—Muffy?" On reflex, he tried to close the door, but it was too late; Muffy had put her foot in the door to prevent that, and actually had shoved him aside, and forced herself into the room.

"What are you doing here?" he asked weakly, "And…" he sniffed the air, and gazed down at the object in her hands in confusion, "what is that?" he asked, "Is that…Rainbow Curry?"

Muffy blushed, "Ah, yes, it is; It isn't exactly perfect, but… I managed not to turn it into charcoal, so I think it's edible"

Rock stared down at the Rainbow Curry in confusion, "And… why are you bringing me Rainbow Curry?" he asked, the butterflies he had only just managed to silence fluttering in his stomach once more.

"I-I thought the reason would be obvious." Muffy told him, a small, shy smile appearing on her face. "After all you were the one that said that the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

Rock blinked at her in surprise for a few moments before smiling, and taking the curry from her outstretched hands. "That I did," he whispered, "Would you… would you like to stay and eat it with me? We should eat it while it's warm; It looks, erm… very nice, and it would be a shame not to eat it while it's still hot."

Muffy sat down on Rock's bed next to where he had laid the curry and returned his smile. "I'd like that." She told him, "I'd like that very much.

And at that moment, Muffy couldn't think of anything more romantic then sitting beside a pink pajama clad Rock in his room eating badly made curry; and somehow, even though most of the curry was burnt, Rock found himself thinking that Muffy's Rainbow Curry was one the most wonderful things he had ever tasted.

A/N: I love Rock; but I also love picking on Rock. XD I really need to give the guy a break once in a while… And I also rather like Muffy too. At a first glance in the game I immediately thought "great; she's one of those typical "flirty" girls that that only giggle and act stupid". But after befriending her… I get the impression that she's not really just some flirt, but… that's she's really just a nice person, and a lonely person. I had fun with this one-shot, and for some strange reason, the story sort of fleshed itself out naturally in my head without causing me a headache And wow, this story ended up being long. I just started writing, and… kept writing. And it ended up fluffy. 0.o

Oh, I'm also still open/allowing requests. :D

Reviews are loved, and have a tendency to inspire me to write more. ;)

Till next time!