"I'm cursed!" It was the latest in a long line of realizations of just what Ruff was. She had spent the past two days spewing out different theories to whomever would listen—a group that mainly consisted of Astrid.
"You're not cursed," Astrid replied with infinite patience. "If you were cursed, you would be the one who had been struck by lightning."
The two girls sat outside Fishlegs' house—the popular place to be for anyone who remotely cared about Fishlegs, had the time for active sympathy, and hadn't been scared away by the healer. Still, despite the last two conditions, there were usually a few people coming by to check on how Fishlegs was doing. Currently, however, Ruff and Astrid were the only people in the vicinity.
"I mean I'm a cursed object," Ruff said darkly as she fiddled with the monkey's fist knot at the end of her braid. "I cause pain. I kill people."
"Not actively," Astrid pointed out with the appropriate reassurance.
"I'm bad luck."
"I already told you, the fight the other day was only begun by us."
She just had to have brought that up. Ruff buried her face in her knees. For the first time she actually felt guilty about that. If she hadn't encouraged all those boys to fight Fishlegs they wouldn't have gotten in trouble and Fishlegs would have never been punished with shepherding and would probably not have been outside in that storm next to that tree.
Astrid sighed. "It's not your fault! Everyone knows it's dumb to be outside during a storm."
"I was outside! I didn't get struck by lightning!"
"And that's a good thing. Do you really wish you had been struck by lightning?"
"Yes," she replied without even needing to think. "Me rather than him. Fishlegs is a nice person. That can't be said about me. Besides… now he gets to survive it and tell that story."
Astrid laughed. "I thought he just got the ground shock from the tree. Maybe some day you will be struck directly by lightning!"
"Really? You think so?" Then Ruff shook her head. "Why are we having this conversation?"
"I'm just trying to make you feel better."
"Thanks." She sighed. "But… he was running after me. He was trying to tell me something. I bet if he had stayed where he was, he would have been fine."
"We already discussed that. Not your fault. His choice and rotten luck."
They had discussed everything. Astrid was a great one for discussion. Logical, comforting, while still possessing the right amount of sympathy and emotional understanding. And Ruff was grateful for all those qualities in her friend. But Astrid refused to acknowledge that Ruff was being punished. Despite all the stupid things Fishlegs had done, what Ruff had done had been even more stupid. She had reacted to all these things like… a girl. Would it have been so hard to just tell Fishlegs she liked him? Would it have been so hard to just tell him his kissing of Astrid had bothered her? She had confessed everything to her brother the night after the accident, desperate for a little male perspective. And he had told her she was an idiot and no normal guy was going to comprehend her weird mind games.
It was all her fault.
And so she was going to make it better. Fishlegs had fortunately woken up that morning, thought unfortunately without heads or tails of what was going on. The moment he started making sense would lead to the moment she would be allowed to see him. And that would lead to the moment she could spell it all out for him and ask him in simple male terms if he felt the same way.
To answer everyone's question, yes, Fishlegs did remember getting with the lightning—though technically he had not been "struck" but simply a little too close to the tree that had been struck. He had not really had enough time to think about it. Lightning moved pretty quickly. And yes, he remembered everything that had led up to the incident. So it had taken a few hours to sort everything out mentally, but in his defense it made sense that he would senseless. But he felt pretty stable by the time the afternoon rolled around. Not bad for having spent two days unconscious.
He only hoped that the lightning blast would be the last of his injuries for a while. So maybe a few other minor wounds had healed, but his arm was still broken. There couldn't be anything in the near future to top lightning, could there?
Maybe he was cursed.
Yes, he had to be cursed. That was the only explanation for it. Why else would so much bad stuff happen to him in the course of two days?
The door opened, and his mother poked her head through. "How are you feeling?"
Besides feeling very tired and very dizzy, there seemed to be no extreme complaints. "Fine."
"Would you like a visitor?"
The first one since had had started making sense. Who would it be? "Sure."
Ruffnut slowly entered the room. Her face was pale. Wow. She wasn't even trying to act tough.
Fishlegs stared at her. Of all the people to come see him, she would be first. Of course she would be first. The reason he had been injured. No, not the reason. But the lightning sure had gotten in the way of what he was going to say to her. And he still remembered what he had been going to tell her.
He just had absolutely no idea how to say it.
"Are you all right?" she asked, kneeling next to his bed.
"Fishlegs, you were struck by lightning. I saw the whole thing!"
He suddenly found himself embarrassed. She had seen that? "Well, I'm not dead."
"I know. I'm glad you're not dead. And if you are really going to claim to be fine, I have something to tell you."
Uh-oh. Well, maybe while she talked he could think of the words for what he needed to say.
"I like you, Fishlegs."
Obviously. He had deduced that a long time ago. But he did not dare interrupt.
"I think you're cute. I think you're smart. I think you're nice. Those are all great qualities. In face, I would like to go out with you."
He had been right! She still liked him!
"So I have a question for you," she continued. "Do you like me? In a romantic sense? Would you be interesting in going out with me?"
Oh, boy. That was three questions. Well, maybe two and a half. And she liked him? What about the kissing? Did she or did she not like the kissing? Half a day wasn't nearly long enough to prepare himself for these questions!
So he just stared at her, and slowly the realization that, right before the incident, he hadn't been planning on telling her anything. He had just been going to kiss her. And now she wanted to talk and answer questions.
"I need an answer," she said, glaring.
"I thought you didn't think we had any sparks when we kissed?" He winced, anticipating yelling or hitting for not answering her two and a half questions.
But instead she laughed. "No, you idiot! I was lying!"
So girls did lie.
"I'm sorry I lied to you. I should have been honest. Now answer my question."
He tried to remember the questions. They were logical. Yes and no answers. He could do that. Except… she was sitting right by him. And she smelled really good. And she was pretty hot. And, unless she was lying again, she did like him. He took a deep breath. "Yes, I like you. Yes, I like you romantically. And yes, I would like to go out with you."
Her face broke into a wide grin. "Really?"
Really? Was she analyzing his answers? Had he answered incorrectly? Maybe he could distract her from too much thinking. "Ruff, um, when I was coming after you in the storm, I was… planning on kissing you."
Her face darkened. "Why? To prove something?"
Why was this so difficult? "Because I realized that I do like you. Romantically." Boy, that was hard to say. Why did girls like talking about their feelings so much? It was easier when she had tricked him into going into the woods and had kissed him there.
The smile was back. She did have a cute smile. "Well, we could kiss now."
That did sound nice. In fact, that sounded awesome.
But before he could think, she was in his lap, arms around his neck, kissing him.
It was better than the woods. Maybe the lightning had left a few sparks. He happily kissed her back.
At last they broke apart. She smiled at him. "Can I ask you a question?"
"Why are guys so confusing?"
Thanks to everyone so far who has read! This is the first story on this site I've actually finished, and it was a lot of fun.
If you like this ship, here are a few more excellent stories:
Irritation, Hatred, and Something Else by Backroads
A Visit of Remorse by Hell's Fiery Belle
Never Think by keep-me-posted
I Can't Wait by keep-me-posted
That Don't Impress Me Much by keep-me-posted
Girls Like Flowers by Backroads