A/N: I've been writing too much dramatic stuff lately. Fluff tiem! 8D
Jamie generally disliked most people.
Some were more tolerable than others, of course, but Jamie had a bad habit of attracting the most obnoxious of them all. Every loud, annoying, optimistic, simple-minded idiot in Flowerbud Village seemed to flock to him, as if they were purposefully trying to get on his bad side. That girl Nina often stopped and attempted to chat with him while he worked, flaunting her excessively pink hair and giggling at her own insipid jokes. Joe, the Miraculous Fishing Failure, seemed dead set on befriending Jamie despite whatever insults/heavy objects were hurled his way.
And then… there was her.
Every singly morning, unfailing even in the face of inclement weather, the Pig-tailed Horror would appear alongside his fence with a sunny smile and a gift in her hands. She would then proceed to chatter animatedly about whatever sprang to her mind, and Jamie would sigh and go about his business as if nothing was amiss. (Cursing at her had long since proven futile, as had his trademark Death Glare. Plus, her taste in gifts was fantastic, so there was no real point in scaring her off.)
Energetic, easily excitable, and far too friendly for his tastes, Tina should have been Jamie's living, breathing nightmare. But she wasn't.
He had actually come to enjoy Tina's daily visits, and he wasn't exactly sure why. It had something to do with how she laughed at her own jokes, he knew, and how she seemed to know his favorite things without being told. It had something to do with her eyes and the way they lit up while she rambled on and on, and how she always respected his space when he was in a bad mood (which was often).
And the more he pondered on it, the more he thought that maybe Tina wasn't so bad after all. Perhaps he even considered her… a friend. Or at least the closest thing to a friend he'd ever had.
… She was still annoying though.
"Jamie! Hey, Jamie!"
A quick glance from under the brim of his hat told him that Tina was waving at him excitedly from her usual spot by the fence. He smiled slightly, then realized what he was doing and quickly plastered his usual scowl back on his face. She motioned for him to come over, and he did so begrudgingly.
"What do you want?" he growled.
Tina ignored him – he asked the same thing every morning. Instead, her smile widened as she held out his daily gift.
It was homemade blackberry jam, sealed in a glass jar with a checkered cloth lid. There was even a lopsided ribbon tied around it.
Jamie took the gift from her with hesitant hands, unsure of what to say. No one in the Village had ever given him such a lovely present before. (Mostly because all the sane ones steered clear of him. They thought he kept voodoo dolls of each and every one of them, which was silly and completely false. He only kept voodoo dolls of a select few…)
"Do you like it?" Tina asked, beaming at him. "I mean, I don't know how if it tastes that great, 'cause I'm not that picky about what I eat. I'll eat just about anything, y'know? I'm not a food connoisseur like some people… Did I pronounce that right? Connoisseur? Other languages are super confusing. They made us learn a different language in high school, but I kept failing so they just told me to forget about it and that I'd probably never leave the town anyway, which was kind of rude now that I think about it. I proved them wrong though, eh? This place is pretty… Hey, where are you going?"
And to think, he had been about to thank her. Jamie shuddered and went to water his strawberries.
A few hours later, Jamie was enjoying the thirty minute break he allotted himself every day (he couldn't allow himself to become idle, or the Pig-tailed Horror might try and steal the title of Top Farmer from him). He was sitting along the edge of the lake, savoring a delicious blackberry jam sandwich and enjoying the tranquility of nature. Everything was so… peaceful. No neighbors to distract him, no chickens pecking at his ankles, no fretting about forgetting to do this or that…
It was just him and the serene sound of water lapping against the shore…
He very nearly choked on his sandwich. Tina had appeared literally out of nowhere, materializing from behind a nearby tree with ninja-like stealth.
"Don't scare me like that, you dolt!" he hissed, attempting to restart his heart.
Tina simply laughed sheepishly, grinning like an idiot once again. "Sorry 'bout that," she said. "I thought it'd be fun to sneak up on you…"
"Of course," Jamie muttered. "Why else?"
Tina sat down beside him and hastily pulled her boots off. She sighed in contentment as she dangled her feet in the cool water, and Jamie watched as ripples formed on the surface.
They sat in silence until Jamie's left eye began to twitch ever so slightly.
"Is there some reason why you're interrupting my lunch break?" he asked testily. "I've only got eight minutes left, you know."
Tina blinked, her brown eyes wide and owlish. "Oh yeah, there was something I wanted to ask you…" She frowned and tapped her chin as if in deep thought, then her face suddenly brightened. "Ah, right! I was going to ask if you wanted to come to the Star Festival with me tonight!"
"… Excuse me?"
"Are you listening?" She pouted childishly. "I asked if you wanted to go to the Star Festival with me."
Jamie was speechless. In the years that he had lived in Flowerbud Village, he had never once been invited to any sort of festival, much less a… romantic one. And now the Pig-tailed Horror appeared out of nowhere and invited him as if it were the most nonchalant thing in the world. Did that mean what he thought it meant? Did she… Did she… Despite better judgment, Jamie felt a light blush coloring his cheeks, and he pulled his hat low over his face to hide it.
"Why would I go to the festival with the likes of you?" he muttered, taking another bite of his sandwich just for something to do.
But Tina just kept on smiling that sickeningly heartwarming smile of hers. "I thought you might say that! Thus, I created a list of reasons as to why you should!"
She withdrew a crumpled sheet of paper from her pocket and handed it to him. On it was, in fact, a list entitled, "Why You Should Go to the Star Festival With Me". Underneath the title were several points of interest, such as:
~ everyone knows that Star Festival wishes are guaranteed to come true – you could easily sabotage my wish, causing disastrous effects!
~ while I am at the festival, you could hire someone to ransack my farm (and no one would ever suspect you)!
And then, at the bottom:
~ or maybe, just maybe, you actually do want to go to the festival with me for non-sinister reasons!
She had even drawn a cute smiley face next to it. Jamie felt his blush spreading to the tips of his ears, and pulled his hat down just a little farther.
"You are way too over-prepared for this," he mumbled, averting his blue gaze from her excited brown one. "Why do you want to go with me anyway? Doesn't… Doesn't that guy Ray like you?"
"Well yeah," Tina said matter-of-factly. "But I like you more."
This time he actually did choke on his sandwich.
In the end, Jamie agreed to go with her (and not even for any sinister purposes).
His lunch break had lasted five minutes too long, but his mind was reeling so much that he hardly even noticed.
The sun was sinking behind the dusky, faraway mountaintops when Jamie (angry at himself for actually showing up) and Tina (excited that he had, in fact, shown up) arrived at the river's edge with their bamboo boats in hand.
Tina was nearly bouncing up and down with anticipation. "I've been looking forward to this festival for months now," she said. "No other place has festivals like this one, you know. Oh Goddess, I don't know what to wish for... What do you think I should wish for? I guess a lot of people might wish for money or good luck or something, but that seems kind of boring to me. I want my wish to really stand out! What about you, Jamie? What are you going to wish for? You're already the Top Farmer in the area, so I guess you don't have to worry about that… Hey, what are you doing?"
She had to physically restrain Jamie from bashing his head against a nearby tree. Why in the world had he agreed to this torture?
But that question was answered as he remembered the events of just a few hours prior. Who would've guessed that five simple words could make even the cold-hearted Jamie relent? And now here he was, at a romantic summer festival with Tina of all people.
Something was either very wrong or very right with this picture.
Tina was still chattering away about something or other as they settled themselves on the riverbank. The sunset was painting the sky in different shades of red and orange, long shadows were stretching their dark fingers across the ground, and Tina's prattle blended into the sounds of the river and the hum of cicadas until they were all one indistinguishable murmur. Jamie felt oddly calm as he took it all in. His life might have suddenly gone screwy, but some things always remained the same…
"Aha! I've got it!" Tina announced, her expression completely serious. "I know what I'm going to wish for!"
She began scribbling something down on a small scrap of paper.
Jamie glanced at his own blank paper. Had he been given this chance a month or a week or even a day earlier, he undoubtedly would have wished for increased prosperity or eternal solitude or something of the like. But he felt as if he'd had some sort of epiphany over the course of this day. Prosperity, seclusion… He had both of those things already, did he not? There was something else, something far more important, that he was lacking…
He wrote his wish hastily and secured it to his bamboo boat, then looked up to find Tina's inquisitive eyes upon him.
"What did you wish for?" she asked, leaning closer to try and read his writing. He snatched the boat away from her prying gaze, a blush once again decorating his face.
"It's none of your business," he growled. He deposited his boat in the water quickly, and watched as it glided away along the current, finally disappearing where the dark ribbon of the river twisted away and out of sight.
Tina placed her bamboo boat in the water next, with the wish turned away so that Jamie couldn't read it.
"It's only fair," she said, her tone mocking, and watched as her boat drifted away too, borne by the swiftly flowing river to the open arms of the ocean.
Silence fell – even the cicadas were quiet as the wavering sun finally sank behind the mountains and the long shadows bled slowly into twilight.
"Whatever you wished for," Jamie finally said, his voice gruff. "It'll come true. I can just tell."
Tina smiled at him in the semidarkness.
"Yours too," she said simply, and it was more than enough.
The next morning, Tina arrived alongside his fence just like she always did, with yet another jar of jam in hand (raspberry this time – variety was, after all, the spice of life). When Jamie emerged from his modest house, watering can in hand, she waved to him and shouted a greeting just like she always did.
And then something completely unexpected happened.
Jamie raised a hesitant hand… and waved back.
Tina's mischievous grin became significantly triumphant.
Progress was indeed a beautiful thing.