A/N: I know, I know. It's not Christmas and this is a Christmas time fic. I was going to post this around Christmas time, but I kind of lost the file of it and just recently found it. Hehe... Anyways, I hope you all enjoy this! (Consider it a Christmas in April thing.)
Disclaimer: All related characters belong to rightful owners.
"T-Tear…" the redhead noble stuttered, his emerald eyes wide with fright at what was dangling over the two.
"…Yes?" she muttered, also gazing intently at the foreign object above. Her voice came at an almost coarse whisper while her lips seemingly refused to say any more than they had to.
"Please tell me that that's not what I think it is."
A blink on her otherwise blank expression was all he received.
Tearing his gaze from the small green thing, Luke took several steps backwards until his back was fiercely pressed against the door frame before uttering another word. "Tear?"
Still the solider did not respond.
Still her attention was focused on the tiny item as if she couldn't actually believe that it was there. Her lips were parted ever so slightly as she stared at the object's snow coated, drooped leaves, expertly entwined together with a festive ribbon also keeping it intact with the beam above.
A long pause ensued as the woman's lips moved silently, like she wanted to say something but her voice wouldn't speak the words.
"Um…." A nervous laugh passed through Luke's lips, trying to break the uncomfortable silence that had settled in. Just before the two were closer than ever it seemed. Commenting on their situation and Anise's idea of spending Christmas in Keterburg (all the snow making it seem suitable), witty banter being thrown back and forth, and sometimes just encouraging nods or smiles in a silent argument over their usual spats.
Now, standing in the doorway of hotel their party was occupying, it seemed as if they were two whole different people. Luke as nervous as ever and Tear as silent as ever.
Luke head shot up from studying the white carpeted steps at Tear's sudden monotone voice. Her concentration was still on the plant, as if staring at it long enough would make it burst into flames, but she had also taken a few steps back.
"I was afraid of that," he whined, rubbing the back of his head and sending a death glare towards the mistletoe. It was just a plant; that old myth didn't mean anything. They didn't really have to… you know…
The legend had seemed funny to both of them when they were kids. Caught under a sprig of leaves and suddenly you had to kiss somebody. The laughter and girlish giggles that had echoed around the kids when they had found out seemed innocent back then, but now…
When you really were caught under mistletoe…
It seemed almost shameful and childish. The nervousness and anticipation you felt during those short moments that seemed to last forever was nothing to laugh about by any means.
"…We… have to… …kiss...," Tear managed to choke out, her pale face finally breaking lock with the charm and focused on her counterpart. Her eyes still wouldn't clearly look into his, so she chose to stare at her companion's fiery red hair instead.
A light blush slowly formed over her pale cheeks, only visible by the waves of moonlight filtering through the unpatched holes in the porch's overhang.
A delicate gloved hand slowly moved from her side to cover her lips, slightly turning her head so her bangs could overshadow a good portion of her face.
"Uh…. Yeah… I mean, I g-guess…" the swordsman stammered, wishing to whatever power that the thing would just drop to the ground and they could move on with their lives. "I-I m-mean we don't have too, if you don't want to… It's just some old trick that p-people use to… well… y-you know… um… …yeah."
If Guy was watching right now, he would never hear the end of it. Smooth, Luke. Real smooth.
But…! It just seemed so stupid! Two people didn't have to kiss if they didn't want to, right? Was there even a loophole for this whole mistletoe business? And besides, this was Tear he was supposed to kiss. His teammate, partner, the person who promised to watch over while he changed for the better. He couldn't kiss her!
…Or could he?
With a shake of his head, the noble banished that one thought. No, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, no, NOOOO!! He did not think of her in that way. And even if he did, she would never willingly let him kiss her.
Never, never, ever.
"Uh…" came Tear's shaky voice, snapping him out of his thoughts. Her blue irises still weren't meeting his green ones and it seemed that she was fascinated with shuffling her heel in the snow. "…I-It's t-tradition… so…"
Why was she implying that they had to kiss?
She herself didn't actually know. It just seemed that it would go against all of her morals to just walk away from the site without following the rules. But… it was just a silly little fairytale, nothing more. Why did the significance of it appear so important to her?
On the other hand, why would anyone, except maybe a certain pigtailed puppeteer, put mistletoe right in a public entrance?
Tear made a mental note to 'accidently' cast "Severed Fate" on the girl if she ever got the chance.
But, it wasn't a crime to not kiss under mistletoe. People did it all the time. Nothing bad ever happened to them. It wasn't like some breaking-tradition police would be arresting you if you didn't kiss. If there were, they would have been killed long ago by the escapee prisoners.
Why did the idea of simply touching lips frighten her so? It wasn't as if they had to romantically make out or share a passionate kiss like those in the romance novels Natalia often read. She had faced countless fiends, had been on the brink of death several times, and had survived the fall of Akzeriuth. Surely a simple gesture of affection was nothing compared to that.
Apparently, by the way the fonist's body was shaking and the anxiety creeping along her spine, it wasn't.
Did the fact that this would be her first kiss have anything to do with it?
"Uhm… Well, you know w-we could always not and say we did," Luke offered, kicking a mound of snow piling up near his shoe. "T-There's no law that says we have to."
"…N-No, you're right. …But there is a folklore that does say we have to," Tear defended, perplexed at her own words and why she couldn't just let it go.
Finally, both turned their eyes away from the crystallized site and locked gazes, for the first time since they discovered the source of their troubles.
They didn't know what to say to each other. They could get it over with fast and never mention it again, simply turn their backs on it, or do it right and have it change their relationship forever.
Tentatively, the oracle knight took a small step towards the redhead, her eyes following the tracks her shoes made.
Luke followed suit.
Chewing on her bottom lip, Tear tucked a long strand of her shimmering brown hair behind her ear. She could already hear the screaming thoughts running through her mind, her blood pounding in her ear, and the heat coming from her furiously blushing features. Her heart was speeding up, past any normal pulse, and it surprised her that Luke hadn't questioned about the loud thudding coming from within her chest.
They were both just an inch apart, each feeling the other's uneasiness coming off in waves but thinking it was their own.
Dazzling snowflakes littered their faces, now numb from standing out in the cold so long. Neither paid any notice to it though.
"…S-So… uh… what do you…want to do?" Luke glanced over at his companion her eyes once again on the snowy wonderland. Right now, on his most hated list of enemies, Van had been replaced with mistletoe.
"A-As an oracle knight we were always told to respect traditions, so…" Her sky blue orbs glanced up at him, this time not nervously flickering away.
"U-Um…." Luke honestly didn't know what to say. If he said no way, the female might get offended and slap him or something. He was supposed to be becoming a better person and offending the person who was supposed to help him do that was not a good thing. On the other hand if he said yes…
What was the worst that could happen? They kiss and then forget about it. Done situation. Off the hook. Banished memory.
"I-I guess we could," he started, glancing up at the leafy green item still hanging overhead. "That is, if you want to."
""Oh! N-No, it's not that-t. It just might be… uh… a-a little…. awkward." Tear, for the first time since he had known her, faltered over her words.
"And this isn't?" the male pointed out.
The melodist let a small, shadow of a smile pass over her lips before answering. "I suppose you're right." She paused, only briefly. "So… how are we supposed to, um, do this?" The blush that was fading away suddenly came back full force.
"Well, uh we could…" the redhead began, his own tan skin beginning to flush a distinct pink color.
"Maybe…" Tear interjected, leaning forward just a tad. It was almost unnoticeable to anyone's eyes except Luke's.
He gulped. "Y-Yeah maybe we could…" The swordsman bent down a little to adjust to the height difference.
Their heads were only a hair length apart. Each could feel each other's breaths upon their otherwise cold sink. Shivers were sent down both of their spines.
"Just…" the brunette trailed off, shifting to her tiptoe. Her voice was soft, no louder than it had to be and meant for only Luke to hear. Her once bright blue gaze was now half closed by her eyelids.
"Kiss?" Luke finished, suddenly closing the gap between their lips.
It was a blissfulness that neither could fully describe in words. Warm and soft, yet cold from the temperature around them. Quick, yet just long enough to last an eternity. Loving and gentle, yet not too passionate or intense.
Simple, sweet, and filled with affection, yet it held such a deeper meaning then that.
In a second, it was all over. Their lips parted, their eyes opened to meet one another, the worry gone….
And the mistletoe, the thing that had caused them so much grief, suddenly fell from its platform and landed silently next to the two's shoes.
Its magic gone and the meaning worthless.
But the two comrades didn't care. They didn't even notice the tiny red ribbon untying and letting its bundle drop. They didn't see that the little plant landed two centimeters away from them.
They were too focused on each other.
Their breathing a bit heavy from the lack of air, each one was in a daze. Neither spoke nor responded with any action. The two were still lost in the little world that they had entered when their lips met.
One word, one simple word was suddenly tossed into the air and left there for the wind to catch. One word that summed up the whole experience. One word they both spoke in unison, perfectly in sync.
And somewhere, among the light pitter patter of snowflakes swiftly gathering on the ground, they could have sworn they heard cheering.
"Whoa! Go Luke!!" shouted a male voice.
"…What are they saying? What are they saying? I can't read their lips with that tree branch in my line of sight. Someone really should cut that down anyways. It looks horrible there!" spoke an irked female.
"Would you two keep it down? They're gonna hear us," hissed a younger girl, refocusing her binoculars on the couple.
"Aren't we too far away for them to hear us?" the first female questioned, putting down her binoculars with a sigh and looking over at her companion.
Anise shook her head, her brown eyes still glued on the hotel porch. "Colonel measured the sound waves and all that other junk. Louder than a whisper and they're sure to hear us."
A sudden wolf whistle came from the other end of the Casino's rooftop they were perched on. "Go, Luke! …They're going in for another one!" Guy laughed, also seated on the red shingles with a pair of binoculars in hand a little farther down from the girls.
"What?! Really?" Natalia questioned, moving her head left and right as she tried to see past the branch blocking her view.
"Lemme see! Lemme see!" Anise squealed, running down to the edge to get a better view.
Natalia, finally getting in a position where she could see, let a romantic sigh escape her lips at the view. "Oh, aren't they adorable? They look just as cute as the couple in The Fonist and the Fiend."
"Yeah, only Luke is a lot more handsome and richer than any fiend I've met," the puppeteer pointed out, her pigtails moving with her head as she nodded in agreement with her own words. "What do you think, Colonel?" she asked, turning around to look at the bored man leaning against the brick chimney.
Lazily, Jade glanced in the direction of the two, put his binoculars to his eyes, and just as quickly laid them down. "Bravo."
"That's all you've got to say?" Natalia questioned, tearing her gaze away and refocusing it on the fonist. "And after you willingly came all the way down here to see such a spectacular display of love and affection."
That was the understatement of the year. Both he and Guy were forced to come to the flat rooftop with the two girls to make sure that they didn't ruin their "mission". (Jade had been somewhat respectfully dragged down to the Casino while Guy had been chased down by a certain pig-tailed girl and her puppet.)
"You must be worried though, Anise," Jade drawled, pushing his glasses farther up on the bridge of his nose and ignoring the princess's comment. "Now that Luke is off the market and all."
"Nope. Not really. Luke is a replica after all and has numerous health problems, which means the fortune will go fast. I'd be better off going after Asch. …I wonder how much a God-General makes?" she pondered, swinging the binoculars loosely around her finger from their strap.
"Don't even think about," Natalia reprimanded darkly, cocking one eyebrow and placing both hands on her hips. "Besides, what about Ion?"
"What about him? I can still guard him even while I'm married."
Guy, who was still watching the scene with Luke and Tear, abruptly shouted, "Third! Third time!"
"Third?!" Natalia and Anise parroted, quickly going back to observing the scene.
Jade let a chuckle pass through his lips. "It looks like mistletoe has more than one purpose."
"Well, you have to admit, this is pretty entertaining," the pig-tailed guardian reasoned.
"Indeed," Natalia agreed. "It appears as if Operation: Get-Luke-and-Tear-under-the-mistletoe was a success."
"I still think the title is too long though," Anise sighed. "Just Operation: Mistletoe sounds a lot better… …And it's shorter."
A/N: I had to add that little bit at the end with Anise, Natalia, Guy and Jade. I just had to! I think I got Guy out of character here, but I really don't know how he would react in a situation like this so... Anyways, I would love any feedback on this. Reviews make anyone's day a little better.
Hope you all enjoyed this! (Oh, and I may write more oneshots like this. It all depends on how this one is recieved and all.