A/N: HERE IT IS! The final installment of Cupid's Chokehold! It's rather long, but the second half of the chapter is the "Epilogue". I didn't really want to make an extra chapter for it so I just hooked it on to this one. I hope you guys enjoyed this story, and I'm so happy I've had so many loyal readers this whole time. You guys are awesome. I'm so happy with this story and I hope to write another, soon! I just have to come up with ideas. Hahahaha. Anyway, enjoy.
Without thinking, I shut the window. No, not shut, I slammed it. I know I was acting like a child, but… I was angry. She led me on, and when I finally told her that I kinda, sorta, had maybe a little tiny smidgen of "feelings" for her, she completely shut me down. Rubbing the throbbing spot on my forehead, I sat back down on my bed and waited for another…
Thwack! That one sounded like a huge rock. Angrily, I opened the window and shouted, "What do you want?" I didn't care if it was like, twelve in the morning. She was disturbing the sleep that I so desperately needed, and for what?
"Can we talk?" she asked in a small voice, rock clutched in her hand. I sighed and leaned against the windowsill.
"About what?" I asked, playing dumb. "I already sent you that note, what else do you want from me?"
She looked down at the ground, seeming rather hurt. Good riddance. But at the same time… I just wanted to hug her. She looked so tiny down there, and I could tell she hadn't been getting too much rest since the wedding. The cowlick in her hair had grown in size and her clothes were rumpled on her skin. She probably smells like cow dung, I thought to myself. But instead of chuckling at the notion, that thought made me feel even sadder.
I really need to make up my mind on how I feel about this damn girl.
"Can I just come up?" she pleaded. I sighed, not wanting to haul her up the wall again. Plus, she would probably get my white sheets all dirty. "Or… can you come down?"
"Fine," I said curtly. Without another word, I turned on one heel and headed for the stairs, careful not to make much noise. Much to my dismay, my shoes squeaked painfully with each step I took. As soon as I reached the stairs, I realized that I wouldn't be able to make it. Gideon was tossing and turning on the couch, most definitely still awake. I thought they would have left by now, I pondered to myself. Nothing to see here, anyway.
Carefully, I headed back to my room and popped my head out the window. "Gideon's asleep on the couch downstairs," I told her. She pouted a little.
"You could use the window…?"
I snorted. Seriously? This girl breaks my heart- er, I mean, ruins my plan to be mayor, and now she expects me to jump out of my window? I might be getting crazy, but I'm not that daft. I shook my head fervently.
"But… I know where to find a ladder! Just wait," she said, holding up a finger. I sat back down on my bed, bored, while I waited for her voice to pipe up once more. What was the point, going through all this trouble? What was she going to say to me, that she was now getting married to Calvin, and they would be moving away to some remote island to excavate precious jewels? Ugh. She already knows that I'm giving her the house, why did this have to be so difficult?
"Here!" she called, as I heard a small thwump against my windowsill. A large, wooden ladder was propped up, waiting for me to descend it. Did I mention I have a fear of heights? I know I only live on the second story of my house… but still. I could die.
"Ah, uh… okay," I replied, shivering a bit. Why was I doing this, again? Cupid must really have me in a freakin' chokehold. I'm losing my sanity.
Suddenly, I had a small flashback to the day where we jumped off the waterfall. I wouldn't have done that in a million years if it weren't for her… I couldn't be a coward. After all, she's the girl, isn't she supposed to be the one that's scared of everything? Shouldn't I have to be the one to protect her? Despite myself, I laughed at the notion. "Here I go."
Cautiously, I backed out of the window, placing two feet on the ladder wrung closest to my window. "Uh…" I call to Angela. "I'm not going to fall, am I?"
She laughs a little, but stops when I turn around to glare at her. "No," she says with complete confidence. "You'll be fine!"
And I believed her. With more confidence, I took another step down, and another. Crack.
"What was that?" I cried, frozen in place. The wrung I was standing on didn't seem very sturdy.
"It's an old ladder," she said, her voice a little quieter now. "It's probably just creaking. Don't worry."
I placed my second foot, and another crack sounded through the air. And before I knew it, the wrung completely collapsed under my weight, and I went careening backwards onto the earth. "Shiiiiiiiiiit!" I cried, my voice dropping one decibel with each foot of air I fell through. I attempted to whirl myself around so I could at least fall onto my hands, but to no avail. I could hear Angela scurrying around, but I dropped sideways onto the ground with a thud, smacking my head in the process.
"Guh?" I mumbled, attempting to stand up. Angela kneeled over me, her head becoming a goopy blur. In an instant, my vision was completely skewed. Or maybe I was just closing my eyes? All I could feel was Angela desperately trying to pick me up, and finally succeeding.
"Oof," she grunted as she practically dragged me across bumpy surfaces. She was panting by the time we stopped, and she eagerly kicked a door with her foot. "Dr. Jin!" she called through the silence. Nothing happened for a matter of moments, and I could feel myself drifting into a deep sleep. Or unconsciousness.
"Wha-" came the voice of the sleepy doctor. "What is this?"
My eyelids fluttered open as soon as the hot sun hit my face. Feeling rather groggy, I rubbed my forehead repeatedly before sitting up. Ow.
Correction: trying to sit up. There was a huge cast on my arm. Memories from the night before flooded back to me, and when I finally opened my eyes I saw Angela sitting in a chair next to my bed, napping. Damnit, I thought to myself. I thought I dreamt that.
"What the hell," I said, loud enough to wake Angela up. My head pounded with each word I uttered. Her eyes popped open and in an instant, she was alert and standing at my side.
"What is it? Do you need anything?" she asked eagerly, her eyes bloodshot and drooping. I was silent for a moment, trying hard to remember exactly what happened. I glared at her suddenly, recalling that shoddy ladder that she convinced me to use.
"Why are you always trying to kill me?" I asked her exasperatedly, taking my head in my hands. Well, hand. Like I said, the other one had a bulky cast on it. Within moments, Dr. Jin was bustling into the room, pushing his thin glasses up the bridge of his nose.
"Well, Gil," he began, scanning a chart that was hanging at the foot of my bed. "It looks like you're going to be okay."
I attempted to stop myself from rolling my eyes. Instead, I held up the cast and pointed to it. "So what's this, then?"
"Well, you sprained your arm on the fall," Jin told me, hooking the chart back onto the foot of my bed. "But we were afraid you were going to suffer from a concussion. Everything should be fine for now, but we'll keep you here for the day."
I nodded and watched as he bustled away. That man always seemed busy, even when he had no patients to tend to besides myself. I shrugged.
"I…" Angela said as soon as he was out of earshot. She looked rather melancholy. "I'm so sorry."
"You should be!" I shouted a little, ignoring my headache. "You convinced me to use a shoddy ladder! Did you rig it, or something?"
"Of-of course not!" she retaliated, wringing her hands together. And suddenly, she was crying. My eyes widened as I stared at her, trying to hold herself together. I decided against asking her what the hell she was crying about, because it was probably something I couldn't comprehend. So I waited. "I'm so sorry! About everything!" she sobbed frantically.
"Shh," I said quietly, trying to stop her from attracting the whole hospital's attention. Well, all of the two employees. "You don't have to cry," I told her rather unconvincingly. I had never witnessed such a spectacle.
"But… but I feel so horrible," she said quietly. I repressed the urge to tell her that she should feel that way. "For everything! I'm sorry for agreeing to the plan, I'm sorry for roping Julius into it, I'm sorry for letting everything get so out of hand…"
I frowned a little. This was not the apology I had been waiting to hear. My head pounded as she spoke and I just stared at her expectantly. More fat tears burst out of her eyes. "I… I'm sorry for ruining your chance to become the new mayor."
"No," I said suddenly, stopping her. For some reason, I wasn't even thinking about that. It all seemed rather trivial to me now. I wasn't even thinking about my position as mayor. I didn't need to think about it. I just needed her. "Will you shut up for a second?"
She stared blankly at me, the fresh tears continued to roll off of her chin and onto the hospital bed. Shakily, she answered, "What?"
"Shut up!" I yelled, feeling my three-year-old tantrum coming on. "Stop being sorry for all of that stupid crap! It was just as much my fault as it was yours."
Cocking her head to the side, she continued to give me that inquiring look. I sighed and smacked my forehead with my good hand. "You led me on. And then you blew me off. Isn't that what you should be apologizing about?"
"I mean, there was no way to misread those signs. It's not like you were kind of flirting with me but it could have just been friendliness. No. You kissed me, twice, and you coerced me to jump off that waterfall, and you actually listened to me when I told you about Gid, and…" I trailed off, realizing that I was getting rather heated. Blowing some hair out of my face, I added, "What the hell was that all about?"
She was speechless. Angela, the farmer who "saved" this town, was speechless. Cow-dung-and-vanilla-coconut-infusion-shampoo-girl was speechless. I tried not to smile. She had it coming.
I was fully expecting a smack on the face, or even a polite rejection like before. But she sat there, eyes glued on the floor, not budging. I grew rather uncomfortable just waiting for her response, but I had nothing left to say.
Wait, I thought to myself. Did I seriously just say all of that… sober?
What the hell have I done? I sound like a sissy girl with all of these feelings and junk!
Finally, she said something rather quietly. I cocked an eyebrow at her and leaned towards her a little, although I'm rather positive I heard what she said. Sighing, she looked me dead in the eye and repeated it. "You're right."
I loved hearing that. Damn, it felt good. This time, I smiled, and I smiled a smug friggin' smile.
"The thing is," she said slowly as she leaned on my hospital bed a little. "I just don't think I can…"
"Can what?" I asked fervently, feeling another rejection coming on. I felt a pang in my chest that I knew had nothing to do with my hospital condition.
"I don't think I can face your father," she told me. "You know, when I tell him that I actually do like his son, and would like to eventually marry him."
"I understand- wait, what?" I replied, staring incredulously at the farm girl. Did my ears deceive me? Maybe I really did have a concussion, and all of this was just an illusion. Or maybe I was still dreaming.
"I got scared that night that you told me," she confessed, sitting down on the white cot. "Cold feet, I guess?"
I rolled my eyes. "You put me through all that trouble, when all you could have done was waited on it a few hours? You… you're a man eater."
She laughed a little. "I'm just… not good with this sort of thing." I sat for a moment, remembering the Angela I saw that fateful day when my father told me I needed a wife. She was handing out gifts left and right, flirting like the men in this town were a dying race.
"What about all those gifts?" I asked her, scratching my head. "You gave gifts to every guy in town, practically."
"Yeah, well… it never really went much farther after that," she said, scratching the back of her head. "You're the first one that I actually, well, really talked to."
Her face became beet red as she looked away. And here I thought she was such a player! Kissing me and sneaking into my room and whatnot. "Well, you did break my arm. What are we going to do about that?"
"I'm sorry," she said genuinely. "I'll nurse you back to health, okay? I'm a wonderful nurse," she assured me. I rolled my eyes.
"Are you sure that this isn't just another plot to kill me?" I asked. She leaned over my hospital bed and inched her face closer to mine.
"I promise," she told me, before crashing her lips against mine. Not the smoothest pick-up line on her part, but I shrugged and went with it. Cow dung or not, she was finally mine.
-~- Epilogue -~-
"Is everything set up?" I asked, for the millionth time.
"And did you advertise? Do we know how many people will show?"
"I'm sure it'll be a great turnout."
Needless to say, I was acting like a bumbling idiot. Everything was seemingly going great, but that was just the problem. Nothing ever goes well. There is always chaos. So… where was it? I paced and paced, wondering if anything was left forgotten, but my mind failed me. It seemed as though everything was, for the time being, perfect. I shuddered at the thought, wondering if I was jinxing the whole thing just by saying that word. Perfect. Bleck.
My father shortly forgave me after the mayor fiasco. Reluctantly, might I add. He used a lot of fatherly phrases such as "I'm not mad at you, I'm disappointed in you" and "You're going to have to earn my trust back" and all of that. I knew the spiel. Not to say I wasn't sorry about the whole thing, but I wasn't one to beg for an apology. I just had to deal with the silent treatment for a while, and tell my father the whole truth.
We haven't talked about my position as mayor yet, though. I'm not going to push the subject. It is my wedding day, after all.
"How does my tux look?" I asked him, turning around for the hundredth time. Luckily, Aunt Himoltana decided to stay away from the sewing machine. She made the floral arrangements, instead. Which were, to be frank, rather eccentric. But I let it slide.
"Very sleek," my father commented as he scuffled around the room, looking for something. My tux was plain black and very neatly ironed, with shiny shoes and a gold vest. Angela decided to go for a traditional white dress this time, with gold accents. So I've heard. I haven't seen the actual thing, yet.
"Oh, this is so exciting," Julius commented from the corner of the room while he held his camera up. "Say cheese!"
Awkwardly, I gave the camera a thumbs up as he snapped a photo. How else are you supposed to pose by yourself? "Oh that's just perfect," he mumbled as he walked around in a circle, shaking the Polaroid.
"We've got five minutes," Gideon called from outside my room. He poked his head in briefly, probably to ridicule me, but instead he left promptly when my father gave him a glare. The old man really takes after me.
"Are you ready?" he asked me, approaching me rather sheepishly. "I know we've been through this once before… but you've really proved to me that you can be trusted these past few months. You're such a wonderful son. I'm so glad you found someone to be your 'partner in crime', heh."
He held out the pendant with the tree, branches outstretched majestically. "Oh," I replied, taking the pendant in my hand. I grasped the cold metal between my fingers before slipped it on and hiding it under my tux. "Thank you, dad."
He smiled and enveloped me in a crushing hug. "Oh Gil, you're growing up so fast! Next thing you know, you'll be all old and wrinkly like me!"
Click. Julius took another picture. Scowling, I gave him a pointed look. "Really?"
"Sorry, it was just such a cute moment!" he replied, giggling a bit. I rolled my eyes.
"Let's go!" I said eagerly, heading out of my room and down the stairs. There was my whole family, staring back at me. This time around, I felt… good. I felt safe. I couldn't believe this was actually happening.
We marched like a parade up to the church. For this wedding, Angela and I decided to do everything different than what we had planned before, including the venue. Truthfully, I liked the church better, anyway. It was more traditional, and there was no chance of any crazy mishaps, like the water from the waterfall drenching the set up, or a sudden windstorm, or whatever.
We arrived at the large wooden doors of the church and I gave a great sigh, attempting to calm my nerves. My father grasped the handle and opened the door for me.
"Go ahead, son," my father urged me as I walked up to the aisle alongside Julius, who could barely contain his happiness. My father ushered everyone to their seats as I stood, waiting for those doors to open. I barely noticed the eager audience, probably wondering why we were having a second wedding. Half the people there were probably just waiting for another disaster to happen. Bunch of scandal-starved townsfolk, that's what they are.
I stood for what seemed like eternity, fidgeting and staring at Julius, who kept nudging me and wriggling his eyebrows. Yuck.
Finally, a beam of sunlight washed through the church room as Angela emerged through the doors, looking rather radiant in her sparkly gown. The dress flowed behind her as the string quartet in the corner began the wedding march. And thus the ceremony began. The townspeople watched intently as the pastor spoke and as Angela and I looked at each other. I winked at her secretively and she stuck her tongue out a bit as we waited for the important parts. We are really mature, obviously.
"Do you, Gilbert Hamilton, take Angela to be your lawfully wedded wife?" asked the pastor, after the reading of the traditional Waffle Town vows.
"I do," I said, staring at her intently and ignoring the giggles from the townsfolk who heard my real name. Angela smiled and squeezed my hands between hers. For once, her hands weren't caked in dirt.
"And do you, Angela, take Gilbert to be your husband?"
"I do," she said almost immediately, as if to make up for the last time we were asked this question. I secretly laughed to myself.
"Ladies and gentleman, I present to you Mr. and Mrs. Hamilton! You may now kiss the bride!"
I smiled at my almost-fake-but-now-real-bride and lifted her veil, happy to say that this was the real thing. She was finally mine. I kissed her sweetly before pulling away and staring at the audience, who clapped and wiped away twinkling tears.
After a few shared moments at the church, everyone headed to the Sundae Inn, where the reception would be held. Chase was busy doling out drinks and festive food in the corner while the rest of the townies milled around. Angela and I sat at a table and sipped champagne with our plates of cake, surprised that the wedding was such a huge success. All of the townsfolk were laughing and mingling as some low music played in the background.
"How did we pull that off?" she asked, as if reading my mind. I shrugged and took a bite of cake.
"Beats me," I replied, not bothering to chew my food. I smiled a cake-filled smile at her and took her hand. "But I'm glad."
She laughed loudly and pulled her hand away, disgusted. "Chew your food," she whined, taking another sip of her drink. It was silent for a few moments, before she said, "I'm really glad it went so well."
"Me too," I told her in all seriousness. I leaned in to kiss her cheek. "Plus, for once you don't smell like cow poop. So that's a plus," I told her. She crinkled her nose at me.
"Shut up," she told me. Somewhere in the Inn, we heard a few clinking noises.
"A toast!" my father called from a corner table, standing on one of the chairs with difficulty. Flashbacks from my ladder fall plagued my mind but I shoved those aside and watched as my father tipped from side to side. After being silent and inquisitive for more than a few moments, he finally thought to say, "To Gil and Angela!" He seemed rather intoxicated. Everyone cheered and clinked their glasses together while cheering and shouting "here, here!" We stared at each other and blushed profusely.
The rest of the night went by, weirdly enough, smoother than anyone could have ever expected. Well, besides the drunk people. Needless to say, I never wanted to see my cousin Gideon attempting the worm, nor did I want to see Angela's mother trying to hit on Jake, whose wife was sitting right next to him.
After some rather interesting conversations with several townsfolk and family, the clock struck midnight and the townspeople began bumbling back to their homes, not eager for the workday to start tomorrow. Angela and I headed back to my home to pass out before my father caught up to us, huffing and puffing.
"Gil, a moment?" he asked, seemingly having sobered up since the toast. I nodded and we walked ahead a little. I turned around and gave Angela a thumbs up as my father stared at me rather intently. "You've done a tremendous job, son. I'm so happy you found a wife. I think that… well, you have all the qualities of a mayor."
Adrenaline filled my body as he spoke. This was it! This was the mayor speech!
"You know exactly what to do in a crisis, and now you have a 'partner in crime,' as I like to call it," he said, chuckling a bit as he patted my arm. I snorted. "And you have definitely become more sociable. But, I must say… I believe that you need to have children before you become mayor."
"What?" I asked incredulously, staring my father down. Angela stopped walking for a moment and stared at us. "How could you do this to me? What do you mean, children?"
"Well, son, I had you before I was appointed the position of mayor. I only see it fit that you do the same. It teaches you a very valuable lesson in life, and I believe that it will help you grow," he told me. I felt my fists clench and unclench as I simply stared at him, bewildered, and wondering whether or not I should wring his neck. Suddenly, he laughed hysterically, clutching his large stomach as he wiped a tear from his eye. "Oh, your face! Priceless! I'm only kidding, son. I… oh Goddess, you looked so funny."
I stared at him, clearly not amused. He cleared his throat a little and continued his fatherly speech. "Anywho, I believe we should begin your training tomorrow. What do you say?"
"What? I mean, uh, yes!" I said, jumping up and down. "Yes, yes, yes, yes!" In a very un-Gil-like gesture, I hugged him briefly before running over to Angela and telling her the news.
Maybe I would get my happy ending, after all.
Angela and I headed to my room and fell asleep quickly, and I was surprised to wake up the next morning with everything still intact. All of this was real. It wasn't some ridiculous dream I would wake up from. Smiling, I slipped out of bed and stretched before heading for my bureau to grab some clothes to slip over my boxers. I opened the top drawer, and…
Nothing. Frantically, I pulled out the other drawers. No clothes. Where the hell were my clothes? Fitfully, I scoured the room. Where else could they be? I even looked under the bed, for good measure.
"What is it?" Angela asked groggily as she sat up. I headed towards the window, ignoring her. There it was.
All of my clothes, strewn across the lawn. Some were even tied to sticks and waving in the wind, like some kind of flag. A large sign on the ground read "payback", in scratchy lettering.
A/N: Bahahaha. Had to end it with that. Anyway, you guys are awesome. Seriously. Let me know what you thought!