This story takes place in Rune Factory 2 if you decide to have Kyle marry Cecilia. I had a wtf moment when it turned out that Jake ended up marrying Yue since Cecilia had been taken, and I wondered how that could ever be possible due to his hatred of humans. Kyle stealing Cecilia from him would only accentuate his hatred in my mind, so I found it quite odd. So naturally, I had to explain this phenomenon.
It was 1:00 pm, and yet Jake still remained in his room on the second floor of The Eagle Inn, unmoved from the bed he had awoken in six hours earlier. He was hungry, four hours late for work, and he smelled profusely, not having bothered to visit the bathhouse the day prior. In all his years as an apprentice blacksmith under Tanya, he had not once missed work. Even when he was sick or exhausted, his half elf pride always prevented him from showing any weakness in front of pure humans. Today, though… none of that mattered. All he could do was wallow in his own misery as he clutched an aquamarine broach tightly in his fist.
It was the twelfth of summer, Cecilia's birthday.
A season ago… oh, how things had been so much brighter a season ago. Cecilia had been entertaining the idea of marrying him back then, though she spoke only in hypotheticals generally. It was only natural for the two of them to wed, Jake had thought at the time. The two of them were the only half elves in a village of humans. Who better for them to marry but each other? If things had gone as planned, today they would have been celebrating Cecilia's birthday for the first time as husband and wife.
It wasn't to be…
That filthy human, the amnesiac that showed up out of the blue one day last year deciding to call himself Kyle… He had stolen Cecilia from him. It was only when he heard the wedding bells one day in late spring that Jake came to the worst realization of his life.
Cecilia was going to spend the rest of her life with Kyle, not him.
He made it to the church just in time to… congratulate… them, having barely managed to keep his rage in check as he mumbled some false words of encouragement before sulking back to his room in the Inn. That night, Kyle cried himself to sleep for the first time since his mother had passed on.
Since then he had put up a front, gone through the motions, and acted like everything was the same. He still worked at the blacksmith for most of the day. He still took baths at night. He still ate healthily. For all accounts, everything had been the same.
Today was his breaking point. The broach in his hand that he had crafted last winter in preparation for this day had lost all meaning. His life had lost all meaning. He should just go ahead and die.
"Jake," his full blooded elf father and village Innkeeper, Egan, asked as he poked his head into his son's room. "Are you feeling okay, son? Roy came by a moment ago. He said Tanya sent him to check up on you. Have you come down with a co-"
"Shut up," Jake grumbled spitefully as he rolled over to face away from his father. "I have no desire to speak with a human-lover right now."
That… had been a mistake.
There had been a time, back when Jake had foolishly been beginning to see Kyle in a better light, which he confessed that Egan was terrifying when he was angry. Today, that statement had never been truer. Egan's previous fury had been nothing compared to when his deceased wife was brought up negatively, especially by their own son.
Before Jake knew it, he had been forcibly hurled out of the Inn with his father yelling behind him that he had slept enough and that he was not welcome back inside tonight.
Today just wasn't a good day.
For a while, Jake stumbled around without purpose, not caring who or what he bumped into. Whenever he crossed paths with a villager, he merely grunted and did not acknowledge their questions. Apparently many humans were of the opinion that he looked particularly bad today and felt the need to express such sentiment. Though their statements were made out of concern, Jake took them as insults and simply continued on his way.
Eventually, Jake got fed up with the humans and their incessant prying and found himself on the boat headed to Blessia Island. Very few people ever went to the island as it was infested with monsters and poisoned soil, so perhaps he would find solace there, or at lease a tree near the port he could sulk under in peace.
It was just his luck that his hopes would be shattered once again.
As Jake stepped off the boat and onto Blessia's wooden dock, he couldn't hide his disdain as he spotted another human further ahead. The human, a girl to be precise, was rather unfamiliar to Jake. Though, Jake had never made much effort to get to know the other villagers. Aside from his day to day activities, wherein he always made it a point to interact when humans the least he could, the only times he ever saw all of the villagers were on festival days since his father would close and lock the Inn despite his objections. As such, he had seen this particular human merely in passing occasionally, but never often enough for him to really take notice of her, regardless of how oddly she chose to dress.
She was wearing an overly extravagant blue kimono with several decorations hanging both from the garment itself as well as her hair. The human also chose to lug around a particularly heavy-looking brown backpack for reasons Jake did not bother to ponder. The half elf thought her entire ensemble to be altogether ridiculous, not to mention seemingly rather difficult to move in. What was the point of clothing if it restricted your movement?
Nevertheless, what a human decided to wear was none of his concern, regardless of how foolish it made them look. Jake could manage to bring himself to ignore one more useless human if it meant he could find freedom someplace deeper into the island. The apprentice blacksmith did not bother to acknowledge the presence of the human as he stepped off the dock, nor did he react when she smiled at him as he passed her uncaringly. The only thing he was focused on was getting as far away from any other living being on the island as he possibly could.
"You shouldn't go any farther without a weapon," the human warned, breaking Jake's desired silence.
Of course she couldn't leave well enough alone. Couldn't she see that Jake had his sword with… As fate would have it, his sword was still leaning against the wall of his room back at the Inn. He had not had a chance to claim it while his father was busy throwing him out of the Inn on his rear. How troubling…
"I'll be fine," Jake grumbled as he continued past the oddly clothed girl.
"It's still a bad idea," the girl countered. "You shouldn't be so reckless."
"And you shouldn't be so foolish, human," Jake spun around on his heels and spat back at the girl. "Where I go is none of your concern."
"What kind of person would I be if I let someone who's obviously sulking walk into a deathtrap unarmed?"
"The goblins that inhabit this island are slow and stupid." Much like humans, Jake thought, though he did not voice this opinion. "Perhaps it would be a 'deathtrap,' as you call it, for one such as yourself, but I am far superior to you humans in every way. I do not need a weapon to best these creatures."
"Humans…" The girl mused aloud for a moment before clapping her hands together as a sudden realization struck her. "Ah! You must be Jake! I've heard some of the other people from the village talk about you."
This girl was really getting on Jake's nerves. Could she not take a hint? "I have not given you permission to use my name, human."
Jake cocked his head to the side slightly in confusion, but still maintained a heated glare, which altogether made for a rather humorous expression.
"It's my name," Yue elaborated. "You don't have to call me human all the time. Just use my name."
Jake narrowed his eyes at the girl further. She simply did not get it. "I don't call you human because I lack your name. I call you human because of your inferiority."
"Wow," Yue giggled, causing Jake to growl in anger. "I'm sorry. That was just so spot on how some of the other girls describe you."
Jake rolled his eyes in annoyance. At least it sounded like the other girls Yue mentioned knew of their own inferiority. Perhaps there was hope for them yet, but this girl…
"I mean, I don't get to talk to people a lot. Usually one of the villagers tracks me down when someone has a birthday coming up. I always carry something somebody really likes, it seems."
She carried? Jake unconsciously raised an eyebrow at the thought as he eyed the seemingly heavy backpack the girl wore. Was she some sort of traveling merchant? That would explain her mere passing familiarity with the other villagers.
"I'm a travelling merchant," Yue confirmed Jake's unspoken speculation. "Don't judge me on how old I look, though. I've been all around the world collecting and selling exotic items. I don't actually go into town, much, though. I might not get as much business, but I like to stay on the outskirts of towns, right next to nature."
That would certainly explain why she was on a monster infested island that very few people ever visited. But still, it was a flawed means to conduct business. "How foolish…"
Yue frowned. It seemed Jake wasn't one to hold his tongue, but rather speak bluntly. However, her solemn expression was short lived as she soon spotted something that glittered in the afternoon sun gripped tightly within the clenched fist of her unwilling companion. "Is that an Aquamarine?" Yue asked in near desperation as she pointed at the object excitedly.
Jake unconsciously fond his eyes following the girl's extended finger towards his own clenched fist. He was still holding the broach… He had not meant to take it with him, but perhaps… perhaps it was for the best.
"You are a merchant?" He did not bother to wait for confirmation. "Perhaps you are not as useless as you might seem."
"Thanks for the compliment," Yue said sarcastically as she rolled her eyes.
Jake nearly smiled at this. He was finally getting to her. Perhaps he could be rid of her just as soon as she served her purpose after all.
"I wish to sell this broach," Jake explained as he held up Cecilia's intended birthday present. "I no longer have a need of it."
"Let me see!" Yue swiftly closed the gap between the two and nearly ripped the broach out of the half elf's hands as she went to examine it. She always did love aquamarines.
"If you're going to break it, at least pay me for it first," Jake scoffed.
"Be quiet!" Yue demanded as she turned the broach over in her hand, far too absorbed in eyeing every small detail of the item to notice Jake's deadly glare. Yes, she loved aquamarines a little too much. "This is… fantastic! The stone is nearly flawless, and the craftsmanship is so unique and so detailed. This is amazing! Where did you buy it?"
Jake felt a swell of pride wash over him, dispelling any anger he felt towards this human before. At the very least she could recognize his talent. "I made it," he explained, not bothering to hide his smug tone. "It's only natural that someone with elfin blood could craft something better than you are used to seeing."
"You made this?" Yue asked in disbelief. "That's incredible! You have to make more. These would go for a fortune in the western countries." Countless numbers ran through the eastern girl's head as she began to tally estimated profit values and expenditures in moving items like this broach. She was nearly drooling by the time Jake spoke again.
"I won't ever craft something like that again," Jake said as his frown returned in full force. He never could stay happy for long with a human around. "I am a blacksmith, not a jeweler. I crafted that because I intended for it to have a purpose. It can no longer serve its purpose, so I no longer need it. It is as simple as that."
"But this is so good," Yue complained as the profit tally in her head began to plummet. "You put so much detail into this. It's obvious you have a knack for it. You must have put a lot of thought into this one, though." Yue eyed the broach again curiously when a sudden thought stuck her. "Did you have someone in mind you wanted to give it to?"
"I would like to complete this transaction, human, not make small talk." Jake folded his arms and looked away in aggravation.
"Ah. I see." Yue nodded. "That's why you're looking for a place to sulk way out here, I'll bet. You got your heart broken."
"I might not get into town much, but I am kept up to date on all the gossip by the people who do buy from me," Yue continued, not heeding Jake's warnings. "The only couple that I know of that have gotten together recently are… I see. Now that makes sense.
Jake's eyes narrowed dangerously.
"Yea… the way you dislike humans and the fact that she's a half elf just like you. It makes sense. You wanted to give this to Cecili-"
Jake rushed forward and snatched the broach from the merchant's hands and stomped angrily down the pier towards the boat away from the girl. "We are done here, human." He would just throw the blasted thing into the water on his way back to town and be done with it. If trying to sell it would just end up in the merchant asking him needless questions, it was better just to get rid of it for good.
"Wait!" Yue yelled out in desperation. "I'll pay ten times the going price for a broach like that!"
Jake stopped as numbers now ran though his head. Ten times the going rate was tempting. That was more than any of the swords he had crafted had sold for, even the ones with the gemmed hilts. Was a single broach really worth as much? Slowly, the half elf turned to once again face the merchant who was struggling to catch up to him. The kimono was quite obviously difficult to move in after all.
"Why so much?"
Yue stopped briefly to catch her breath once she had caught up with him. "Truth be told, I can sell that in another town for three times what I'm offering you for it."
Jake rolled his eyes. As expected of a human, she was ripping him off. At least she wasn't trying to hide it.
"I'm sorry for prying," Yue added softly, gazing downward bashfully. "I'm sure that subject is a sensitive one for you. I shouldn't have brought it up."
She was apologizing? This human was surely quite odd.
"No, you shouldn't have," Jake nodded, though he was a bit taken back by her sudden apology. Perhaps he could live with being ripped off by this human this one time. "We have a deal."
It was the middle of fall, and Jake now found himself struggling to even walk. A sudden storm had hit while he had been at work, and it had quickly grew into a raging tornado. The tornado had passed by the village safely, but the winds were still at abnormally high speeds. Tanya had offered him one of her spare beds for the night as she thought it impossible for anyone to traverse the storm outside.
It irked Jake greatly how humans judged him by their own limitations. A little wind was nothing for one with elfin blood coursing through their veins; at least that's what he had thought.
The winds had gotten so bad that he had to grip the creases in the stone roadway for him to keep his feet planted on the ground. It shamed him, but he had been reduced to crawling, now. As the arrogant boy finally managed to make it past De Sainte-Coquille Park, even he had to admit that nature had trumped him on this occasion. Though the thick sheet of rain, he could barely make out the candlelight emanating from the windows of the Inn, but even as close as it was, it was much too far.
Jake let out an aggravated scream of defeat against the wind as he flung himself at the nearest building and hoped desperately it was unlocked. For the first time in half a year, luck seemed to be on his side. Jake burst through the doorway of the De Sainte-Coquille Manor and landed heavily on the tile floors with a loud grunt.
"Jake!" A heavenly voice cried out from within in both shock and worry.
With all the strength Jake could muster, he pushed himself as far up off the ground he could and gazed upward, peering through the water as it dripped down from his hair. He fully expected to see the angelic figure that once gave his life meaning.
Instead, a pair of sandals and the bottom of a blue kimono intruded his vision. Jake let a disappointed sigh escape him. It was that human merchant again, Yue.
"What happened?" A new voice sounded from above.
"Jake! Are you okay?" Yue asked, crouching down to offer a hand to the drenched boy. He did not accept.
"I'm fine," Jake grumbled, swatting Yue's outstretched hand away. "I don't need concern from the likes of you." Jake still sounded like his strong, arrogant self, but his body was more willing to admit the truth. As he tried to make it back to his feet, the half elf suddenly collapsed back onto the ground in a violent fit of coughing.
"Jake!" Yue nearly screamed out. "Max!" She yelled out after turning to look up the nearby stairwell. "I need some towels and a change of clothes for Jake, please. I'll pay you for them later."
Max, the son of the mansion's owner looked down at the scene from the second floor and nodded urgently. "That won't be necessary, Lady Yue. I'll go fetch a set of spare clothing at once, and… ah! Rosalind!" He raised a hand to get the attention of his sister who had just exited her room. "Sister, could you please locate where Lady Cecilia stores the spare towels. We have a guest in need."
Rosalind gave her brother a confused look before glancing over the banister down onto the floor below. The blue haired heiress let out a loud gasp when she saw Jake collapsed on the floor in a wet heap. "Of course, brother." She said before racing down the stairs and into a nearby room while her brother Max disappeared back into his own room similarly.
"Jake," Yue turned her attention back to the still coughing boy, "it'll be okay." She gently patted his back in an attempt to ease his coughs, but Jake quickly swatted her hand away once again.
"I don't need," Jake coughed again, "your help, or theirs for that matter."
Yue stood to her feet and frowned down at the disgruntled apprentice blacksmith. "I don't care," she stated dryly before turning her back and walking towards the still open doorway. "You're getting our help, whether you want it or not." With a loud boom, Yue slammed the front door closed. This boy was such a stubborn idiot.
Jake woke the next day feeling oddly rested. It was strange. His bed never seemed this comfortable before… It was upon this morning observation that he remembered the events of the previous day and the storm.
Jake's eyes shot open to find that he was indeed in an unfamiliar bed in an unfamiliar room with the sun shining brightly in through the window, making the room almost glow a soothing white. How long had he been asleep? When did he pass out? And… Jake gazed down at the white clothing he wore. Whose clothes were these?
"Morning!" An all too bright voice rang from his side. And why god, why?
Jake let out a loud sigh as he looked to his side, fully expecting exactly what he saw. Again, it was that merchant girl, and she was just sitting there staring at him happily, staring with eyes that matched the color of her Kimono. While his face expressed that of extreme irritation, Jake idly wondered if the female human's favorite color was blue. After all, everything she owned save for that overburdening backpack she lugged around was colored various hues of blue, everything from her kimono to the broach she wo-
Jake narrowed his eyes dangerously as an aquamarine broach invaded his sight, his aquamarine broach.
"You lied to me, human, though I can't say I'm surprised."
"Hmm?" Yue cocked her head to the side cutely. Well, Jake would have found it cute if it had been Cecilia doing it, anyway.
"The broach, woman," Jake pointed at the offending object angrily. "You said you would sell it."
"I don't recall saying I would sell it," the blue clad eastern girl suppressed a giggle. "I just said that I could."
"And why didn't you? I find the sight of it appalling."
"Really?" Yue asked in honest confusion. "You made it, though. How can you not like it? I think it looks great on me. Besides, aquamarines are my favorite stone. I just couldn't sell something that was made with this kind of quality aquamarine."
Again, her words made his pride swell. He had mined for weeks to find the perfect aquamarine with the least amount of impurities to use in the broach.
"It wasn't meant for you," Jake grumbled, despite his bolstered ego.
"I bought it, though," Yue retorted, her lips curled into an almost smug smirk. "It's mine."
"That's not the point, and you know it!"
"Do you really hate me wearing this that much?"
Jake glared at the infernal eastern girl, who glared back in turn. However, he had years of experience at being cold hearted over the girl. He'd get his way in the end.
Yue eventually let out a defeated sigh. As she thought, this boy was stubborn beyond belief.
"Fine," she relented. "If you really don't want me to wear it, I will allow you to buy it back from me."
"Good." He could do that, and then he would dispose of it himself. "Come back to the Inn with me and I will pay you back every gold piece you gave me for it."
"Twelve times that amount," Yue corrected quickly.
"If you want it back," the kimono clad girl grinned slyly, "you'll pay twelve times that amount."
"That's absurd," Jake yelled in protest. "Even by your human standards, that's robbery."
"It is not!" Yue yelled back, clearly offended. "Just because I'm wearing it doesn't mean I didn't have it appraised."
Jake's eyes widened. Surely she didn't mean…
"This actually is worth twelve times what I paid for it," Yue almost laughed at that, but managed to keep it in. She had made one heck of a deal back then. "If I were to sell it back to you at the original price, I'd be selling at a loss. Any merchant will tell you, when you're trying to move a one of a kind item, you never take a loss."
"That's… This is ridiculous. I refuse to believe that, especially coming from a human like you."
"You should really take more pride in your work, Jake," Yue giggled as she stood to her feet and picked up her previously discarded backpack from the floor. "You know, this town is turning out to be a gold mine for me. First Gordon, and now you with these hidden talents appearing out of nowhere and falling right into my lap. I should really come through town more often. Who knows what hidden treasures I could find."
"Where are you going?" Jake protested as Yue reached for the door.
"The storm is over," she explained, "and you obviously can't afford this broach. Time is money, and it's about time I move on."
"Don't you dare leave with that broach, human."
Yue did not listen. "Your clothes are on the desk. They've been washed and dried, so make sure you thank Max and Rosalind for taking such good care of you last night before you leave." With that, she was gone.
Like hell he would.
A week later, Jake was back to his normal routine at the blacksmith. The storm had apparently damaged a lot of the buildings, most of which had suffered severe damage due and were leaking. Yet, the town seemed to ban together to repair what they could during the week that followed. Well, by "the town," Jake meant himself, Tanya, and Kyle, who had provided most of the necessary lumber.
Tanya, Jake could tolerate. She was his boss and mentor, after all. Kyle, however… It had not been pleasant to work side-by-side with Kyle. Kyle smiled and Jake glared, making the atmosphere altogether unbearable, but that was all in the past, now.
Finally, Tanya had reopened the blacksmith now that the town was more or less put back together. Jake could go back to working alone in peace. Tanya never bothered him while he worked. She knew he did his best work in near silence, so unless there was a customer, the only sounds that could be heard within the building were of Jakes hammer banging against hot steel.
"So this is where you work," a most unwelcome voice shattered Jake's precious silence, causing him to miss his last strike against the hot steel of the would-be axe and hit the anvil instead.
"Oh… you need to practice your aim."
Jake could almost feel Tanya's mirth as she no doubtably was watching the event unfold from the sales area of the shop.
"Why are you here, human?" Jake asked as he struck the hot steel dead on this time, not bothering to look up from his work.
"You're always so rude, Jake," Yue said lightly. Jake wondered if she enjoyed annoying him. He wouldn't put it past the girl. "Have you forgotten my name?"
"I remember it," Jake struck steel again. "I merely have no desire to use it." He was going to kill whoever told her where he worked.
"So rude," she let out an overdramatic sigh. Yep. She was tormenting him on purpose. "And here I brought back a gift from my home town especially for you."
Jake's grip on his hammer had slipped, sending it flying directly into the forge. That was his good hammer, too…
"You went back to your home town?" Jake grumbled as he tossed the unfinished sword into a nearby bucket of water. He wouldn't get any more work done on it at this rate. "That would explain why you were mysteriously absent while the rest of us were repairing the village. I'm sure you had a wonderful time visiting your human family in the meantime, though."
"Sounds like somebody missed me," Yue bounced on her heels playfully.
"Idiot," Jake scoffed in annoyance. "My days are far more peaceful without your intrusions."
"Tsk tsk, Jake," Yue mocked.
Jake idly wondered if the unfinished sword was sharp enough to kill the annoying girl. Perhaps if he used it to thrust and not slice. Tanya was too far away to stop him in time, after all. Hmm. What a pleasant thought.
"I'm beginning to think you don't want my gift."
"I doubt anything you would give would be worthwhile."
"Oh? Is that so?"
"That is indeed so."
"Are you sure about that?"
"I am absolutely sure about that fact."
"I see…" Yue shrugged and pulled out a previously unnoticed item that had been sticking up out of her much smaller backpack. She then unsheathed the item and held up the newly uncovered blade for the apprentice blacksmith to see, all the while sporting an innocent look on her face that was so obviously fake. "So I suppose you're not interested in this katana my grandfather crafted, then?"
Jake blinked, partly out of surprise and partly because the katana seemed to glimmer under the dim lighting the forge emitted. The katana was… spectacular. Jake did not even have to hold it to know that the blade was perfectly balanced with the hilt and that it could be wielded with ease. The blade itself sported the slightest of curves that would accentuate any swing, and the hilt seemed to be the perfect size for his hand.
Damn that girl. What was she plotting?
"If you're trying to gain more money at my expense, I suggest you give up the foolish notion," Jake waved dismissively, though his eyes betrayed him as they remained locked on the blade. "Your prices, much like the blade you hold, are far too outlandish for my wallet."
"I said it was a gift!" Yue stamped down cutely, yet angrily. "Gift. Present. Free."
"Forgive me if I lack faith in your hollow words, human."
Yue sighed. This boy seemed to bring out a lot of that in her. Why did he have to be so irritating? "There's a saying in one of the western countries I've done business in. 'Don't look a gift horse in the mouth.'"
Such a saying had not made it to their village previously, causing its usage to confuse Jake slightly. "What does that even mean?"
"I… don't know," Yue admitted guiltily. "I only ever heard people say it in passing, but I thought it fit since it talked about gifts and stuff."
"Figures," Jake rolled his eyes. This girl was unbelievable. "What is it that you're really after, here?"
"Fine, you got me," Yue relented. "There's a teeny, tiny ulterior motive behind this gift."
"It's not a gift if you expect something out of it," Jake crossed his arms over his chest in annoyance. "Thus, my original statement stands, human. If you're looking to get more coin at my expense, look elsewhere."
"I'm not after your coin, idiot." Yue spat. "I'm not that shallow.'
Jake merely raised an eyebrow as if begging to differ.
"The truth is I feel the teensiest bit guilty about how much I bought this broach off of you."
"I'm sure your conscious could be cleared with a donation of a large sum to my pocket."
"How about a katana instead?" Yue faked another innocent smile as she held the katana up once again.
Ah. Now Jake understood.
"You seek to buy my forgiveness?" The half elf questioned incredulously. "I've misjudged you. I see you're far more foolish than I previously thought."
"Look, do you want it or not?" Yue stamped her foot again with no trace of her previous cuteness. Her frustration was clearly evident this time.
Jake gave a grunt of noncommittal. "Leave it," the apprentice motioned towards an empty table, "but do so in knowing that my opinion of you remains unchanged regardless."
Yue merely smiled. "I can live with that. Your opinion of me doesn't really matter. As a merchant, all I care about it a fair trade. This makes things seem more even."
Jake scoffed again, but did not respond. Instead, he withdrew his unfinished blade from the water and stuck it back into the forge. The loud hiss of the wet metal on the hot embers along with the steam flowing from the forge was cue enough for Yue to take her leave. She sheathed the katana and placed it gingerly on the table where Jake had previously pointed. She took one final look at the apprentice blacksmith before turning to leave.
Once Jake heard the door close behind her, he rushed towards the discarded katana, forgetting his work entirely. He quickly unsheathed it and held the blade up to the light. It was everything he had thought and more.
From his side, he could hear Tanya finally breaking down into a fit of laughter, but he ignored her despite the annoyance.
"I'm sorry," Tanya managed to get out between chuckles. "I've just never seen you so happy before."
Although Jake was loathe to admit it, his human boss was right. "It is a fine blade. That girl's grandfather must be highly skilled. I must admit, I am… anxious to try it out."
Jake didn't see Tanya shrug and shake her head at his remark. He had no way of knowing that it hadn't been his reaction to the blade that she had been referring to.
It was the seventh of winter, and Jake finally had a day to himself. Surprisingly, the last few weeks had been the busiest weeks of the year for Tanya's blacksmith, and himself subsequently. A caravan had stopped in town for a few weeks to rest and resupply before heading farther north. Apparently, the lot of them were looking to purchase new weapons and armor that would better allow them to survive the inevitable monster attacks as they traveled the dangerous north.
Much to Jake's chagrin, it seemed that Yue was the one that had advertised their town as well as Tanya's blacksmith specifically during her travels. Many of the would-be customers had mentioned her name in hopes of getting some sort of discount. Jake made sure to charge those humans extra whenever Tanya left him in charge.
Finally, the caravan had moved on during the first week of winter, and as the week came to a close, Jake was looking forward to the upcoming holiday that was just around the corner. Of course, the half elf had no intention of actually celebrating the Shooting Star Festival this year, unlike the year prior.
Last year's attempt to ask Cecilia to view the shooting stars with him had been a failure. It turned out that she had agreed to watch them with Kyle first, and had offered an apology in consolation. Looking back now, Jake should have realized something had been up between the two sooner. At the time, he merely thought it to be out of pity, since Kyle had been in the village for the better part of a year and still could not recall any of his past. Oh, how he had been wrong.
But this year was different. This year, he was not bound by any false hopes of star gazing with anyone in particular. He was free to use his day off as he saw fit, and he saw it entirely fit to put the katana he had received nearly half a month prior to good use. Much to his displeasure, today had been his first opportunity to use the blade, however, he soon found that the wait had been worth it. No monster stood a chance against it as it effectively sent each back to The Forest of Beginnings before they even had a chance to react.
Despite his one sided dominance, Jake managed to slice and dice well into the night with each defeated monster still granting the same feeling of accomplishment as the first. It wasn't until nearly half past ten in the evening that the half elf grew tired and began to make his journey down from Messhina Valley. As he exited the valley and entered Alvarna's Falling Star Path, however, Jake froze in disbelief.
He was getting sick of these chance meetings.
Yue was entering the same path from Trieste Forest on the opposite end of the crossroad. Hey eyes expressed her own shock when her gaze finally landed on Jake.
"Jake!" Yue exclaimed as she waved gleefully. "Long time no see."
"I'd have preferred the time between out meetings to be a bit longer," Jake responded coldly, though his response did not have the desired effect.
"Still so grumpy," Yue laughed. "We really need to work on that."
"I would rather not." The last thing Jake was sure he wanted was more time with the annoying merchant girl.
"Your loss," Yue playfully stated in a singsong voice before her tone returned to her somewhat usual seriousness. "So what are you doing out so late? Did you come to see the shooting stars, too?"
"Hardly," Jake scoffed. "I just came from testing out this katana. I have no interest in some stupid festival tradition. Besides, I think it's a bit too late to see any shooting stars. I've heard they usually can only be seen for half an hour starting at nine, not that I've ever seen one in the first place."
"What?" Yue nearly screamed in disbelief. "You live here and you've never seen one? What is wrong with you?"
"You're asking me that?"
"That's it!" Yue pointed fiercely at the half elf boy before her. "You're staying here with me until we see one!"
"You can't be serious." Jae stated in disbelief. Was this girl insane?
"I'm very serious. You're staying."
"You can't make me stay."
"I can try."
"I have a katana."
"Fair enough, but I have… uh…" An idea suddenly struck Yue. "Merchandise!"
At this point, Jake was just confused.
"Hold on a second," Yue called out as she flung her backpack off of her shoulders and onto the ground before beginning to rummage through its contents. "Come on. I know it's here somewhere."
"I'm… just going to leave, now," Jake called over his shoulder as he took a step towards the village.
"Wait!" Yue called out desperately. "Here it is! I'll trade you your time for this platinum ore!"
Jake stopped dead in his tracks. He was beginning to spot a pattern emerging from their chance meetings. Every time he thought he'd be rid of her, she managed to come back with something he couldn't ignore. However, he could say whatever he wanted about the girl, but the fact remained that she knew exactly what he liked.
Jake turned around and slowly made his way back to the overexcited girl's side. He'd lost this round. Then again, he couldn't remember an occasion where he hadn't lost with Yue. Strange…
"Just," he sighed as he held his hand out expectantly, "give me the ore."
Yue shook her head in the negative. "Not until we see a star."
"Oh look," Jake spoke in a dull monotone as he half heartedly pointed towards the sky. "There's one now."
"Liar!" Yue gave Jake a soft shove. "Be patient."
"And what if we don't see a shooting star? As I said, I think it's a bit late for them to appear."
"Then I'll give you the platinum when I'm satisfied, okay?"
Jake crossed his arms and gave a grunt in affirmation. If she just wanted him to stand here and waste a little time, then that was well worth some platinum. The thought of all the different weapons he could make out of that ore was more than enough to ease his frustration. Jake just hadn't taken into account how long they would be standing out there and just how cold Alvarna's winter nights got.
The two of them stood in the middle of the crossroad gazing up at the sky for what felt like hours. From time to time, Yue attempted to make casual conversation, but Jake refused to cooperate every time. Instead, he merely stood with his arms crossed over his chest, half as an intended sign of his boredom and half as a way to keep warm. However, just as Yue was about to admit that Jake had probably been right about the shooting stars not appearing, a single glimmer suddenly caught here eye. The kimono clad girl looked up just in time to see a tiny light shoot across the sky.
"Jake, look!" She pointed at the sky with one hand as the other shook her companion fervently.
"Nnn?" Jake moaned. In truth, he had just about fallen asleep standing up when Yue started to shake him. Aggravated, the half elf glared at the offending girl, only to notice her outstretched hand pointed towards the sky. Out of curiosity, he followed her gaze just in time to see the tail end of a shooting star disappear into the night sky. Then another shooting star appeared. Then another… and another… and another.
By pure luck, the two unlikely companions had happened upon a meteor shower. It was the first time either of them had seen something so miraculous.
"Woah," Jake let out an amazed gasp at the sight before him.
"This is awesome!" Yue gripped Jake's arm tightly as she bounced on her heels in excitement. "They're so pretty."
Jake turned to complain about the girl touching him so freely, but stopped. Yue's expression was not one he had not been prepared for. Yue wore a smile of pure amazement and joy as her eyes reflected each star that crossed the sky. The sight caused an odd thought to pop up in the boy's head.
She was beautiful.
A sudden warmth enveloped Yue as she caught a glimpse of something out of the corner of her eye that she was beginning to think she would never manage see.
Jake was smiling.
Yue turned and gave Jake a quick smile of her own before diverting her attention back to the meteor shower that enveloped the night sky.
A feeling of awkward confusion was all Jake was left with that night.
Things had changed since the night of the Shooting Star festival, and not for the better as far as Jake was concerned. Yue seemed to travel less and came into town more often, and Jake found himself running into her on a near daily basis. One day she would visit the blacksmith to try and sell him more platinum, which he sadly could not afford. Other days Jake would meet her inside the bathhouse just before he was preparing to take his bath, which made the poor half elf boy slightly uncomfortable for reasons he could not fathom. Yue even began to rent a room at the Inn on some days rather than camp out in the wild as she was used to. To make things worse, the room his father had assigned her was right next to his.
"Good evening, Jake," Yue smiled into the said boy's room after having climbed the stairs in the inn. She was staying there again tonight, apparently.
Jake wondered if he had managed to somehow anger some god or deity, who then decided to torment Jake by telling Yue exactly when and where he was at any time throughout the day. He was certainly cursed.
It wasn't enough that she was staying at the Inn that drove him mad. If it was just that, then Jake could possibly tolerate it. After all, he would be asleep most of the time. No, what truly bothered him about the whole situation was that his father had rented out Cecilia's old room to Yue. That certainly did not sit well with the boy. However, Jake was much angrier with his father than he was displeased with Yue's presence. Thus, the eastern girl was privileged with a much more cordial Jake that she was accustomed to.
"Good evening, Yue," Jake nodded simply, doing his best to hide his dissatisfaction.
Yue's smile widened as she let out a pleased giggle. "You said my name!"
"Don't worry," Jake shrugged. "I won't make a habit out of it."
"Aww. That's too bad. I like it when you use my name."
It was suddenly very hot in Jake's small room. Was his father cooking something downstairs?
"I mean, it's a lot better than calling me human all the time," Yue explained.
And now the heat was gone… How odd.
"Try not to push your luck," Jake grumbled, "lest I demote you back to 'human' again."
"Roger," Yue grinned as she gave a playful salute, causing Jake to roll his eyes. Were all human women such bundles of energy?
"I'm glad I decided to come here tonight," Yue spoke with a sudden seriousness as she locked eyes on Jake.
Now the room was hot again. Perhaps he should open a window.
"Your dad's such a good cook."
Now it was cold again. Jake was beginning to suspect something was wrong with him. It was unlikely, but maybe he had caught a cold while walking back to the Inn after his bath. It was winter, after all.
"I don't usually like Stew," Yue went on, not noticing Jake's changing reactions, "but the spices your father put in tonight's dinner were so good. It makes me want to come back tomorrow just in case there are leftovers."
"I doubt there will be," Jake explained, hoping to discourage the girl from repeated visits to his home. "Egan usually donates any leftovers to the mayor for lunch."
"Egan?" Yue questioned curiously. "You don't call your father 'dad?'"
Jake frowned and looked out the window solemnly. "Not for a long time, now."
"Why is that?"
Jake scoffed. "So you honestly expect me to suddenly pour out my heart to you?"
Yue frowned and looked thoughtful. "I suppose you're right."
Jake nodded. At least she knew her place.
"Barrett bought out my entire stock of platinum yesterday, so I don't have anything to bribe you with this time."
Jake nearly lost his footing as the weight of Yue's admission hit him. He might have been in trouble if she actually had some.
"Oh!" Yue clapped her hands together in excitement. "I think I might have remembered to save one for you."
Yue was fervently digging through that infernal backpack again.
"No, it doesn't look like I did.
"Wait! Here it is!"
God damn it!
"Why do you insist on prying into my personal life?" Jake nearly yelled in frustration as he threw up his hands in defeat. "Do you think of me as some form of entertainment?"
"Of course not!" Yue suddenly looked very serious again. "I think of you as a close friend."
It was hot again. Jake was confused again. The girl was being unreasonable… again.
"You…. think… what?"
"I think of you as a very important friend, Jake," Yue repeated softly. "I have fun talking with you, even though you can be a jerk sometimes. I also… really enjoy these times we share together. I know neither of us actually intend for them to happen, but they do, and I enjoy them. I still don't get the chance to just talk with any of the other villagers like I'd like to. I just get little bits and pieces whenever they're buying something from me, so I'm really glad that we've had this chance to… connect… ya know?"
Jake's head was spinning, and the room… it felt like it was on fire. Something was definitely wrong here.
"Jake!" Yue let out a loud gasp when she finally noticed Jake's deep red complexion though the dim light. "You look so feverish! Are you feeling okay?"
"I'm… not sure."
"Here," Yue suddenly crossed the room and gripped the half elf's shoulders tightly. "Let me check."
At that point, Jake's mind shut down entirely. Yue had pressed her forehead against his in order to check his temperature. Jake just stood there, eyes wide in terror. He was acutely aware of their proximity, and was especially aware of the way her eyes glimmered in the candlelight. Her eyes did a lot of glimmering. They were pretty…
"Oh my god!" Yue worriedly exclaimed as she pulled away from the buy. "You're burning up!"
That sounded about right. He was obviously not thinking straight. Not at all…
"I… think I should lie down," Jake mumbled, nearly loosing his footing as he awkwardly stepped towards his bed.
"You should," Yue nodded while using a hand to steady the seemingly feverish half elf. Jake did not swipe the hand away. "And you need rest! And fluids! Should I go get you some water?"
"No," Jake waved a hand in dismissal after having reached his bed safely. Hid head was still reeling in confusion. "I'll be fine." He hoped. "I just need sleep."
"Okay," Yue frowned unconvinced, but decided not to push the issue. She didn't want to try her luck with Jake's patience. Not when he was sick. "Good night, Jake. I hope you sleep well."
That night, Jake experienced a series of disturbingly odd dreams, dreams which he wished he had not remembered quite so explicitly when he woke up the next morning.
Fever induced dreams contained the most ridiculous notions, he concluded.
Jake was working alone at the blacksmith again. Tanya had left him in charge, having been invited by the other adults for a rare afternoon drink. It was for the best, Jake thought. His work had been in a state of decline lately. There were things popping up in his head that had no business being there in the first place, and it didn't help that Tanya always asked him random things about Yue like she expected him to know every little detail about her.
Sure, after talking with Yue so much, or rather after sitting though her ramblings, Jake knew a lot of odd little things about the eastern girl. Her favorite gem was the aquamarine. Her favorite color was blue. Her father had been a fisherman. Her favorite food was cabbage cakes, and other random things of that nature that Jake had never asked about in the first place.
Then there was the time Tanya noticed the aquamarine broach Yue wore on one of her visits to the blacksmith. She had been relentless after that. She had overseen Jake's crafting of the broach nearly a year ago, but could never pry out of the boy exactly who it was for. Jake soon realized after she saw Yue wearing it that Tanya was under the false assumption that he had given Yue the broach. No matter how hard the half elf protested, the professional blacksmith just wouldn't listen to reason.
But today was a good day, the first since Tanya's incessant pestering began. Tanya was gone, Jake was alone, and there was finally peach and quiet enough for him to get some solid work done.
"Working alone today, Jake?"
You know, Jake thought he'd be angrier. It was odd, but… he was just used to it by now. The world simply hated him, and he'd accepted that fact.
At least it wasn't Yue this time.
"Don't you have crops to harvest, Kyle?" Jake spat, not bothering to turn from his work, though he made sure to tighten his grip on his hammer. He had learned his lesson on Yue's first visit.
"Nah, the cabbage won't be ripe enough to pick until next week." Kyle waved dismissively. "I'm actually here to see Tanya. Is she around?"
"She's out drinking with the other irresponsible humans," Jake said. "If you're here to do business, I can handle any transaction, though I can't guarantee you a reasonable price."
"No, I just came by to deliver a fresh bunch of apples from Trieste Forest," Kyle held a basket full of apples up, but Jake did not turn to face him to check. "Tanya has been bugging me about getting her more for a while, now."
"I'm surprised she doesn't simply just venture in to get them herself. For someone who expresses her love for swords so much, I don't think I've ever seen her actually use one. Though, I don't ever expect to understand the obscurities of some of you humans."
"Jake." Kyle stated with unexpected seriousness.
If Jake's time with Yue had taught him anything about humans, it was that such seriousness in their tone often preceded something unexpected and possibly unwanted coming from their mouths.
There it was.
"I should have told you this a long time ago," Kyle continued, "but I really am sorry about how things were handled with you, me, and… Cecilia."
Jake spun around swiftly, allowing his rage to get the better of him as he prepared to rip into the farmer with everything he had…
Except… he wasn't angry in the least.
"If you're going to yell at me, then don't hold back," Kyle prepared himself. "I deserve it. I should have told you how I felt about her face to face. I never meant for you to find out about us the way you did."
Jake opened his mouth and… nothing. Frustration swelled up within him, but it wasn't at Kyle or at losing Cecilia to him. He was frustrated that he wasn't frustrated.
Jake did not respond at first. Instead, he turned back to his unfinished blade still placed on the anvil and struck it again with his hammer. He continued to strike the blade as he gathered his thoughts until he was ready to speak finally.
"How is she?" Jake asked, not bothering to specify exactly who he was talking about. The both of them knew.
"Congratulations," Jake said in monotone. "At least your child will be blessed with at least some elfin blood."
"Yea," Kyle laughed nervously. "But still, I'm glad… that you're doing okay. Cecilia was sad when you stopped talking to her after the wedding. She'd be happy… if you spoke to her again from time to time."
"We'll see, human."
"Anyway, I should be going." Jake eyed the high sun out of the window. It was nearly noon. "I'll just leave these apples on the counter for Tanya. Tell her I stopped by for me, Jake."
"I believe the apples on the counter would imply that you were here."
"So they would," Kyle laughed again. "Anyway, before I go, I just want to congratulate you, too. I'm glad you finally found someone, Jake."
"I'm sure you and Yue will be very happy together."
There went Jake's second favorite hammer.
"So, let me get this straight," Alicia, the village's resident fortune teller said as she rubbed her temples. "You want me to tell you your love fortune."
"Yes," Jake said simply.
"You?" Alicia repeated, as if needing some form of confirmation that this was actually happening.
"I did not stutter."
"But… it's you."
"I am aware of that."
"Do you mind if I ask why?" Alicia asked in desperation. She was altogether confused. Jake was way too serious to get his fortune told, and had stated when she offered during an earlier holiday that he did not believe fortune telling was real. Thus, she was having a hard time believing that this was actually happening.
"I do, in fact. However, since you seem to be having difficulties in performing your task without such knowledge, it appears I will have to tell you regardless."
Alicia prepared herself for a deep, complex explanation.
"I wish to confirm something," Jake said simply.
"That's it?" Alicia asked in disbelief.
"That is it."
"I see…" The fortune teller was somewhat disappointed in the boy's simple response. She had honestly hoped that there was some grand and interesting reason for Jake's turnaround. "Okay. A love reading will be 20 gold pieces."
Jake visibly grimaced as he handed over the gold, but still, as long as he could confirm that everyone else was wrong, it would be money well spent.
"Thank you," Alicia smiled before closing her eyes. "Here we go! Sims sala bim! Sim sim sala bim!"
Jake waited impatiently as the fortune teller merely stood there with her eyes closed for what seemed like a very slow and long minute before her eyes shot open once again.
"Yue comes around far more often than she used to, and you're the reason."
Jake smiled as a feeling of immense relief washed over him. That was exactly what he wanted to hear.
"I'm so excited for you!" Alicia bounced up and down happily. "Are you going to ask her out?"
"Of course not!" Jake denied, sounding almost offended.
"Why not?" Alicia cried. "You heard my fortune. She likes you!"
Jake shook his head and just gave the fortune teller a smug grin. "Even I know your love fortunes have a reputation for being always wrong."
With that, Jake turned and walked away, leaving Alicia feeling miserable.
It was truly a shame that Jake wasn't aware that Alicia's love fortunes were only wrong when given to other women.
Things were a lot better for Jake after Alicia's reading. He could better ignore Tanya's teasing and Kyle's misunderstanding now that he knew the truth. No matter what they said, there was nothing going on. This fact also made dealing with Yue to be infinitely easier. There was no awkwardness like he thought there would have been if she had liked him. No, things were normal. Things were better than normal.
He was actually starting to enjoy spending time with the eastern girl. He would even participate in conversations with her, rather than saying short negative sentences. He had even gone so far as to confide in her.
Jake had told her everything, from being in love with Cecilia to having been devastated when Kyle stole her away. But most importantly, he had explained to her just how surprising it had been to realize that he no longer cared for Cecilia in that way, how he could no longer bring himself to be angry at Kyle, and that he actual felt… happy for the two of them on some level.
He then told her about his mother, about how much he loved her when she was alive. He had been devastated when she had passed on so suddenly. The doctors had told them it was just a cold and that she would get better with rest. She didn't. The doctors had lied, Jake convinced himself. Humans lied. Humans left him on purpose. His mother had left him…
Yue had chided him then. It had been comical, but she had hit him over the head and drilled it into his head that his mother hadn't left him on purpose and that she had loved him dearly. He had always known that, but it was easier to lie to himself and to hate than to grieve. Yue offered him a shoulder to cry on.
He didn't take it, but it made him happy to know that at least she'd always be there for him, for some reason.
But nothing was going on. No, things were completely innocent. Things were well within his comfort zone, and that wouldn't change, even if he was starting to see Yue in a better light.
"I-I want to give you s-something," Yue spoke bashfully, her words barely above a whisper.
Jake remembered how good his comfort zone felt, and just how far away it seemed now.
It was the thirteenth of spring, and the Flower Festival had come again. Somehow, Yue had managed to drag him to view the cherry trees in front of the still under construction Alvarna Academy.
Jake should have known it had been a trap.
The Flower Festival was traditionally a time where couples gathered under the cherry trees and watched the petals fall. It was a festival based upon romance, and now Jake found himself watching the pink petals fall with Yue.
What had he gotten himself into?
"I-I want you to understand what t-this means," Yue explained slowly, making sure she had the right words.
Jake merely stared, eyes wide as he watched helplessly as the scene unfolded before him.
"I have a c-coupon," Yue held up a clearly handmade small parchment.
The writing on the sheet was not something Jake recognized, but he assumed it was of her native language.
"I want you to have this," the kimono clad girl shoved the small coupon into Jake's hands while blushing profusely. "I-It's for something special, s-something you can't find anywhere else. I-I want you to have it. I want you to redeem it."
Jake... couldn't say a word.
"Please, Jake," Yue pleaded. "Use it whenever you are ready, but," she bit her lip to hold her tongue back as much as she could, "I want you to use it soon." The last part was barely above a whisper, and she did not bother to stay long enough to hear Jake's replay out of fear that she might have been too hopeful.
Jake stood there frozen, mouth agape, holding a now wrinkled coupon as Yue walked away.
Jake sat on his bed still clutching the coupon Yue had presented him earlier that day.
She was not staying in the Inn tonight, it seemed.
He wondered if she'd be alright alone at night…
What was he thinking? Of course she'd be fine. She used to camp out at night every night. Only recently had she begun staying in the village at nights. There was nothing for him to worry about.
He wasn't even worrying for that matter! He wouldn't worry about some silly human girl, no matter how frail she seemed… how frail and cute.
Jake banged his head against a nearby wall in order to stop such thoughts in their tracks.
No, he would no do this. Tanya was wrong. Kyle was wrong. Alicia was wrong. Everyone was wrong! He hated humans. Yue was a human, therefore he ha… he hat….
Jake growled in frustration. He couldn't even lie to himself anymore. Yue had changed him.
Damn that girl.
With a loud sigh, Jake stood to his feet. There was something he had to do.
Despite the redundancy of the statement, Yue was in the last place Jake had looked.
At first, he thought she'd have been sleeping in either Trieste Forest of Messhina Valley due to their more comfortable climates. When he did not find her in either location, he checked the base of the nearby Padova Mountain, though he could not imagine anyone willing to sleep in the snow. It did not surprise him when he did not find him there, though he was beginning to worry somewhat. If Yue was not in the final location, it would mean she had decided to travel to another town for a while again. That… would have been displeasing.
However, Jake was in luck. After having returned to town, he untied one of the boats at the dock and set sail for Blessia Island. Sure enough, she was there.
Yue sat leaning against a palm tree not too far from the dock, while her sleeping bag, although laid out, remained unused several yards away. It seemed she had been having trouble sleeping, too.
Yue's head shot up in surprise as she heard Jake step off the boat and onto the wooden dock, and their eyes locked. Neither of them said a word of greeting as they both knew exactly what this meeting would entail. Clumsily, Yue stood to her feet as Jake made his way across the sand towards her.
"I didn't expect to see you again so soon," Yue said just above a whisper when Jake finally reached her.
"Couldn't sleep," Jake explained, not trusting himself to say much more.
"Me neither," Yue giggled, but her mirth did not last long as the anxiousness of what was to come overcame her.
"Here," Jake handed over a small sack of coins as he looked away bashfully. "That's the exact amount you paid me for that broach you're wearing. I want you to have it back."
"Oh…" Yue looked down dejectedly. Was he asking for it back now that he knew how she felt about him?
"From now on," Jake paused as he crossed his arms, then uncrossed them awkwardly, then crossed them again, then uncrossed them again to scratch the back of his neck before finally letting his arms rest at his sides. "I want you to consider that broach a gift from… me."
Yue looked up in surprise, her mouth hanging open slightly. Did this mean…
"And," Jake continued, blushing furiously, "I'm here to… redeem this coupon."
Yue gasped and found herself nearly unable to breathe. "Jake… do you mean it?"
"Don't make me repeat myself," the half elf grumbled.
"Jake, look at me," the eastern girl pleaded.
Slowly, Jake turned to face the girl once again only to find himself staring straight into her beautiful aquamarine eyes. He couldn't help but smile.
"Jake!" Yue squealed in delight as she latched onto the boy in a tight hug. "I love you."
"God help me, woman," Jake sighed as he returned her embrace. "I love you, too."
That… was a long oneshot.
This fic was the first time I've had to build a pairing from the ground up, and it was really a challenge for me. These two don't interact with each other in the game at all, but they end up getting married if you have Kyle marry Cecilia. I tried to take a lot of the events in the game and implement them as much as possible from Jake's perspective, and I think it worked fairly well in the end.
For the latter part of this oneshot, you might have noticed the pacing speeding up somewhat dramatically as compared to the first part. I did this for a reason. I wanted to symbolize how things felt from Jake's perspective, having things going into a downward spiral. As a reader, you might think things happened too fast, but trust me; it always seems like that from a guy's perspective.