Note: For Rhianwen's challenge in my forum! Hopefully it's fluffy enough, and I'm sorry it took so long. Heh, I haven't written Jamie stuff in forever…I really am hard on that guy. Oh, well. I love grumpy!Jamie. XD
Disclaimer: Guess who doesn't own Harvest Moon?
Talk is Cheap, but Smiles are Free
It all happened because of a mistake.
It was stupid, it was pointless, and it was all that idiotic farmgirl's fault.
I told her not to get near my animals, you understand. I told her not to bother my dog. You would think she'd listen to reason, that she'd value her own safety.
But clearly, she is an idiot.
Because she bent down, petted my dog—when I clearly told her not to—and of course, since I was liable to be sued, I had to pry the snarling thing off her.
Normally, I would have loved to see the irritating woman get torn piece by piece by my dog's jaws. But, the mayor would certainly have none of that, and so as I did my good deed—saving her from my dog, which she shouldn't have been messing with in the first place—I became the target of its fangs instead.
Oh, karma, how I despise thee.
I ended up in a place I abhor, a place that I cringe upon entering: the Sanatorium. Yes, the loony bin. The place where the people with only half a brain come to stay. Why that farmgirl hadn't been stuck there yet, I don't know.
What I do know is, I had more than half a brain, and being forced to stay in such a place was both demeaning and insulting. I found myself stuck day-in and day-out in a small white bed, with thin white sheets, and more medical attention than I cared to receive in a lifetime.
But what was worse was that she was always there by my side, that she always had something kind to say, that she was always smiling. That…she made it so hard to be angry all the time.
Oh, no, I'm not talking about that farming psycho. Goddess, no.
This was a new resident to town—a nurse that I had never met before, and in more ideal circumstances, would have never met at all. She certainly had a lasting image: dark questioning eyes, and braids of sky blue tied up professionally, yet somehow maintaining a sense of naiveté. And her skin was porcelain white—almost as if she never cared to venture outside the Sanatorium's walls and see some sunlight.
But what was most memorable was her smile.
Because, you see, she never stopped smiling.
"I hate this place."
"I'm sorry, Jamie. Would you like another pillow to get more comfortable?"
"I hate this food."
"Do you want me to fix you up some jam, then?"
"I hate you."
When I said that, for the first time, her smile began to fade. And just as I was about to congratulate myself on reaching my objective, the persistent little grin came back, brighter than before.
"Well, I hope someday we can be friends. Because I don't hate you, Jamie."
How in Goddess's name was I supposed to respond to that?
Noticing that my mouth was wide open, I shut it, and snapped, "You could at least get me some jam, then."
"Right away!" the nurse beamed.
The pitter-patter of those shoes against the squeaky clean Sanatorium floor made me frown. It was just so…so…cutesy. I can't think of a better word for it. And I hate the word cutesy. But in her case, it seemed to fit. Her large, yet strangely attractive glasses—that way she wore her braids every single day—the way she'd just smile and apologize, it was so…so…
And I wasn't sure if that was what was driving me insane or being stuck in here for a whole season.
The jam came. The pillows were fluffed. The smiles kept on coming and coming. They were like a relentless torrent of joy—of cutesy joy—and all my frowns couldn't hold it back.
"What are you doing with my poncho?!" I shouted, my eyes widening at the sight of my clothes in her hands.
She blinked at me innocently, then smiled again. "Oh, Grandma Martha has been teaching me how to sew, and this poncho was so beautiful, it seemed a shame to leave it in this tattered state."
"Maybe I like it tattered."
"You do?" she exclaimed, her eyebrows raised. "Well, that's a bit peculiar."
"Are you calling me peculiar?" I accused.
"Are you suggesting that your fashion sense is better than mine?"
"Well, I didn't mean--"
"Did you ever think about asking me for my opinion at all on how my own poncho looks?"
"I—I'll do better next time," she nodded, placing the poncho in her lap. Her fingers played with the needle before she stopped biting her lip and let her smile show. "I won't be so forward."
"Good." With a deep sigh, I leaned further back in my bed, and said, "Gina?"
"I hate tattered ponchos."
And her smile broadened.
I'm wearing it now. The poncho, I mean. Her stitching is amateur, and you can see where the holes were patched up pretty easily. It's a shoddy thing, really. Quite ugly.
I hate it.
My farm is in ruins because I've been too busy recovering for the past season to water plants, feed animals, or anything. It's appalling to think that stupid farmgirl is ahead of me in shipments. Though, having her watch my ranch would be a fate worse than death, so I'm glad I refused her offer.
And it's as I'm sitting on my fence that I realize—belatedly—that I'm missing something pretty important. My dumb fedora is still in that Sanatorium.
That farmgirl's stupidity must be rubbing off on me.
Well, it's not like they sell pink fedoras on a regular basis, so I'm forced to trek on back and open the Sanatorium door. And I wouldn't think anything were different in there today if it weren't for two things:
Gina is sitting on a freshly-made bed—a bed that I used to lay immobile on.
Gina is holding a rather important fedora.
And Gina isn't smiling.
That's three things, isn't it? My Goddess, I really am getting stupider by the day.
Don't misunderstand me; I hate getting involved in drama, and if that nurse wasn't holding my fedora, I wouldn't be walking forward. And I most certainly would not be asking her if everything was okay and if she wanted to talk about something.
But because she's holding the fedora, I am.
Those lovely, youthful eyes are dodging my gaze as she murmurs, "Nothing's wrong. What are you doing here, Jamie?"
"I want my fedora," I reply bluntly.
Her grip loosens, and I know it's my chance to grab the hat and leave. But stupidly—stupidly—I find myself curious and say, "What's wrong with you?"
"N-nothing," she insists, wiping her eyes. "Why would you say that?"
"Because you're not smiling."
The nurse blinks, and immediately I regret what I just said. "I—I mean, you've always got this dumb grin spread across your face, and it makes you look like an idiot every time I see it. It's annoying, and it's not like I want you to smile or anything, and I just—dear Goddess, I sound like Ray!"
A little giggle sounds from the previously depressed nurse.
"See!" I exclaim, pointing. "You're doing it again. That smile—that dopey, stupid, idiotic smile. You're always smiling. So why weren't you before?"
She bites her lip coyly, crossing her legs. "I…I guess I was just a little sad, that's all."
"Mhm," she nods. "I mean, I've been alone in this Sanatorium for a while now…since Dia left with Mr. Kurt."
"You mean that dressy chick and the blockhead?"
"You miss them?" I reply incredulously. "What's so great about Dia, anyway?"
"She…she was so assertive, I suppose," Gina mumbles. "Always bossing me around, always asking for something, always complaining…I missed it. I missed that kind of life around here."
"You like getting ordered around?"
She laughs. "That's not quite what I meant."
I cross my arms and sigh, wondering why on earth I've decided to get involved in this girl's life. "I don't get it," I say finally. "You're sitting her, all droopy and loser-like, because some loud girl left? I mean, she's been gone for a while now, hasn't she? That's stupid; why weren't you whining before now?"
"Because…you were here." She squeezes her eyes shut, her smile widening despite her obvious awkwardness. "Because you would talk to me—"
"I just complained constantly."
"And you would ask me for favors—"
"I treated you like a freaking servant!"
"And you were always so easy to talk to," she finishes, unperturbed by my stream of shouts. "It…it was nice. I liked it."
I simply stare at her at like she's part of some freak show.
Some cutesy freak show.
"You have got to find yourself some friends," I remark finally. "Normal people don't like getting treated like trash."
"Oh, that's not true at all!" she insists. "You never treated me like trash!"
True. I treated her like dirt.
"C'mon, when have I ever been nice to you, Gina?" I persuade. "I've always been a jerk."
"But you're here now, aren't you?" the nurse reminds me, taking my hand. "You're asking me what's wrong, and you're listening to me, and you're…being a good friend."
"I'm here for the fedora."
"Well…why you're here, you might as well have some jam," she suggests, playing on my weakness.
Curse her and her cutesy ways.
Curse her and her knack for making jam.
Curse her and her freaking horrible sewing skills and her perpetual smile of joy and happiness.
Because I'm starting to realize that I'm going to be stopping by the Sanatorium more often.
And I'm not entirely sure it's because of the jam.