AND OUT OF NOWHERE COMES A ONESHOT THAT IS NOT AVATAR-RELATED.
So in case you didn't know, my favorite not-cartoon TV show of all time is Pushing Daisies. And Ned and Chuck just scream all sorts of awesome. Their relationship is both adorable and achingly depressing. LOVES IT.
So here's a oneshot I wrote in preparation from the epic awesome that is the upcoming season premiere. Yay.
Disclaimer: I do not own Pushing Daisies
It had been a long and cold winter, but at last, spring had sprung at the Pie Hole. In the place of the snow, new grass was growing, flowers were blooming, and Chuck's bees were buzzing again.
Ned had always been rather partial to spring. And for someone who tried not to be partial to anything, that was saying a lot. Spring was the season of new life, after all, and Ned could relate. Though it, like many other things, made him rather uneasy all the same.
As Ned remembered, spring had always been the favorite season of someone else. Growing up, a girl called Chuck loved spring as much as he did. Perhaps more, since he wasn't known for loving things. They spent their days outside in the grass, running around in the April showers. Their evenings were spent at Ned's house, eating his mother's fresh pies until they were full and sleepy.
Ned looked at these memories both fondly and with an aching heart, because the girl called Chuck didn't seem to love spring anymore. In fact, as the temperature rose, Chuck became more and more melancholy.
And if Chuck was unhappy, Ned was very unhappy.
"Yep?" Olive responded instantly, pausing in the act of refilling each table's sugar cellar when Ned poked his head out of the kitchen.
"Have you seen Chuck today?" he asked, glancing around. "She was still sleeping when I came down…"
"Haven't seen her yet, boss," Olive shrugged, topping off the last sugar cellar and offering her rather sticky hand to Digby, who started licking the sugar off without hesitation. "She's been in a funny mood lately, hasn't she?"
"Oh, so you noticed too," Ned sighed, wiping his flour-covered hands on his apron.
Olive shrugged again. "Yeah, she just seems gloomy," she continued. "Kinda weird, if you ask me. She always struck me as the springy type."
Ned frowned thoughtfully, leaning on the counter. "She used to be the springy type," he said quietly.
"What's that?" Olive asked, distracted by Digby now chewing on her fingers.
"Nothing," Ned said hurriedly, removing his apron. "I'll um… be right back, I'm just going to check on her."
"Sure thing," Olive replied cheerily. "If you're not back by opening, I'll hold down the fort."
And he was out the front door. Olive looked down at Digby. "Well gosh, Digby, it's just a whole bunch of gloomy around here," she said frankly. "Whatever happened to spring fever?"
The girl called Chuck didn't turn around. She remained still on her perch on the roof, her bees buzzing around her.
"Hey," she sighed.
Ned stopped in the doorway, hands in his pockets. "Been looking," he said quietly.
"Been thinking," she sighed again.
He weaved his way carefully between the buzzing hives, hands still deep in his pockets, and sat down beside her. He was careful to keep a couple feet of space between them. This space, which they had grown used to, seemed to make Chuck even more melancholy.
"Do you uh… mind sharing what you've been thinking?" he asked hesitantly.
Chuck shrugged. "It's nothing," she murmured.
"It's something," he said abruptly. She glanced at him. He laughed a little, embarrassed. "Regardless of whether you think what you've been thinking isn't important, the contents of your thoughts have always been important. To me." She smiled, albeit rather miserably, and he felt his chest constrict rather uncomfortably. "You um… you've been sad."
Chuck was silent for several long moments. Ned just watched her, the morning sun shimmering on her skin and her hair and her blue sun dress and making it hard for him to breathe.
"I have been sad," she agreed quietly. She glanced at Ned, and his reaction formed a guilty lump in her throat. His face fell in that endearing way that made her chest hurt.
"Why?" he asked at length. She knew him well enough to know what he was really asking but couldn't bring himself to say for fear that he was right. Is it because of me?
She looked down. The truth would hurt him, she knew it. After all… it was because of him. But her silence was more of an answer than she anticipated.
"I'm sorry," he blurted. "What did I do?" She noticed he had pulled his hands from his pockets and was now clenching them together in his lap. He had never told her why he did this every so often, but she had figured it out. It had become second nature for them not to touch each other, but sometimes he couldn't help it. He wanted to touch her more than anything, and he had to stop himself.
She did the same thing, much more frequently than he knew. She didn't just clench her hands together. Sometimes she bit her lip, sometimes she tucked her hair behind her ears, sometimes she became very interested in her shoes or her sleeves. Anything to distract herself.
"It was nothing you did," she said hurriedly, and she had to fold her own hands in her lap to keep herself from reaching for him. "It's just…"
Ned sighed and looked at his feet. "I was afraid this would happen," he murmured.
"What?" Chuck asked worriedly.
"I know I can't… I can't give you any more," he said in a rush, still refusing to look at her. She felt her chest aching again. "And I wish I could, but I can't, and I'm sorry. I can't hug you when you need it, I can't hold your hand unless I get a prosthetic arm, and I can't kiss you no matter how badly I want to. This is… all you'll ever have with me, and if you want more then…"
"I don't want more," Chuck cut him off, her hands gripped together so tightly it was beginning to hurt. "I've told you before… all I want is you."
"You say that now but…"
He finally looked at her. She was staring at him, biting her lip, eyes brimming with tears. He crammed his hands back into his pockets.
"I've just been sad because I feel guilty," she whispered.
"What…" he began, a little breathless. "What do you feel guilty about?"
"Sometimes I…" she began hurriedly, but she stopped herself. "Sometimes I just can't help but think it would be easier for you to just… kiss me."
Ned frowned, confused. "I could get some plastic wrap…"
"No," she sighed, looking away. "No, no plastic wrap. No rubber gloves, no body bags, no plexiglas walls, no beekeeping suits. I mean just… kiss me."
Ned's eyes widened. "Chuck…"
She sighed in distress. "I can't help it," she whispered. "It's getting so hard to stand…" She sighed again. "Not touching you. And it keeps getting worse. At first it was just every so often, passing you in a doorway or… standing beside you for a while…" She finally glanced at him. "But now it's all the time. I just… ache. Just walking into a room and you're there, and I can't…"
Ned looked down. "I know," he murmured. "I know exactly what you mean."
"And sometimes I feel like it would be worth it if…" she looked at him miserably. "If your lips were the very last thing I taste."
They looked at each other for a few long moments before looking away, Chuck twisting her hands in her lap and Ned's fingers clenching in his pockets.
"I'm sorry, but I could never do that for you," Ned said at length. "I suppose I'm selfish."
"Selfish?" Chuck repeated quietly.
Ned took a deep breath. "It's like I told you before, Chuck, my world is a better place with you in it," he said quickly. He looked down again. "And if I kissed you and my lips were the last thing you ever tasted, I would keep on living and taste other things and eventually I'd forget what your lips felt like and tasted like and I'd be without you."
If Ned had looked up at her, he would have seen that she was smiling. Not miserably, though the tears had finally slipped down her cheeks. Just smiling. Ned was smiling too.
"I don't want to be without you," he finished, glancing at her. They were silent for a while, smiling at each other. Chuck wrapped her arms around herself. Ned did the same.
"Well, like I said," Chuck said quietly. She sighed contentedly. "All I want is you, so… I'm glad you're selfish." He grinned. "I don't want to be without you either."
"I think," he whispered, taking a deep breath and inhaling the scent of honey and death. "I'm going to go get some plastic wrap."
Chuck could hear the smile in his voice. She wished he could really be hugging her, wished she could feel his arms around her, but she found warmth in the anticipation of many more plastic wrap kisses and dances in beekeeping suits.
"I'll go with you," she said quietly, getting to her feet. He grinned at her and held the door open for her to pass through. "And Ned?"
Their eyes met and she smiled. "I'm not going anywhere," she murmured.
Ned felt as though there was far too much air in his chest as he and the girl called Chuck left the rooftop behind in search of plastic wrap. Perhaps Chuck still did love spring as much as he did. Perhaps more, since he wasn't known for loving things.
Except, of course, for her.