~*Just Like A Puppy*~

In which our hero finds himself compared to dogs.

~*X*~

The sky was blue, the clouds were far and few between, the sun was brilliant…it was a perfect, beautiful day—for love!

Though that wasn't exactly what Marta was thinking at the moment, it was pretty darn close. She had decided that today, she and Emil were taking a break from their usual peacekeeping endeavors. Today, they weren't doing anything that would require them to get in arguments or draw their weapons.

Today, they'd do something romantic, and Sylvarant and Tethe'alla could wait.

The girl sighed deeply, closing her eyes momentarily so she could bask in the glory of her own little victory. She had managed to convince the others to leave her and Emil alone, at least until the sun set, so they could have some quiet time. Not that she didn't like her friends, it was just…well…for example, if Colette was part of the conversation, a derailment was guaranteed. They had once gone from a discussion about the pleasant weather to a lengthy quarrel regarding the existence of unicorns to a quiet pondering about the best briefcase colors, all in the span of seven minutes. If Sheena and Zelos were together for more than sixty seconds, a squabble would often break out, resulting in someone having a bruise on their pride…and their skin.

So…no. They could swing by later, in all of their hilariously entertaining magnificence.

The streets were crowded, though Marta didn't really mind, weaving her way elegantly through the pressing mob and walking with a spring in her step. At her side, Emil hurried to keep up, the hilt of his sword rattling slightly in its sheathe.

"Um…"

She wished he would just spit out what he wanted to say. You'd think, after two months, he'd be comfortable enough to just blurt out whatever in her presence.

Oh no, maybe he's not comfortable being around me yet!

Before she settled into Full Blown Panic Mode, Emil went ahead and said in his typically sheepish fashion, "Marta, where are we going?"

Taking his hand and tugging him to the side in an effort to avoid the ambling masses, they rested with their backs against the wall of a bulletin board. It was covered in a dense array of papers, some professionally printed, others hastily handwritten, each declaring a dozen different things at a dozen different dates.

"I don't really know yet. What do you want to do?"

His green eyes flickered to the left, to her face, to the right, and to her face again, as if he couldn't keep his gaze leveled on her. "Whatever you want is fine with me."

Marta hummed thoughtfully, her fingers trailing across the sheets tacked to the wooden board behind her. She hadn't really given much thought to what they would do today; all she knew was that she wanted to enjoy an afternoon with Emil, and it was still early.

Already feeling rather content just to have his fingers intertwined with hers, Marta surveyed the roads and the shops lining them. There were plenty of places to go, things to do and sights to see, but the girl wasn't entirely sure if she wanted to—or, more importantly, if he wanted to.

Why not begin with something simple? Maybe she needed some caffeine to give her mind a jumpstart. A nice, sizable establishment down the avenue caught her eye, and Marta smiled as she made her decision. "Let's go get something to drink, Emil!"

He opened his mouth to reply, but she was already leading him towards Sunpenny, a well-known joint in town. There was nothing and no one in the world—all of it—that she loved more than Emil, and he was just like the boys in those novels she used to secretly read, but better.

Sunpenny attracted people of all ages, be they elf, half-elf, human, or whatever else that existed. This was probably due to both their excellent customer service and the general atmosphere of the place. Upon entering the building, Marta inhaled slowly, enjoying the spicy-sharp scent of coffee and pastries. It was a two storied café, with large windows and a deep, dark color scheme composed primarily of russets and creamy yellows. Multiple tables and booths were set up all around the shop, and soft music of the jazz variety played from…somewhere.

She was about to ask where he wanted to sit, but Emil surprised her by taking the initiative and going first. "Find a booth for us, and I'll get the food. Okay?"

Flashing a grin, she nodded. "Sure!"

Nervously, he nodded at her before moving towards the counter. Marta idly wondered why no one was even remotely intimidated by his sword, since no one else in the establishment appeared to be armed, after all. Unless there were magicians here or something.

Dismissing the errant thought, Marta went off to find a place to sit. She had no trouble in this regard, and the girl reclined into the worn amber cushions with the air of a content cat. Her gaze traced Emil's slender figure, and she lost herself in old daydreams, happy as you please.

Unexpectedly, someone leaned over the back of her seat from the other booth and peeked curiously at her. "Who're you watching?" inquired the unfamiliar person inquisitively.

Marta had to blink several times to clear the imaginary scene from her eyes, snapping back to reality.

Folding her arms over the top of the chair, the teenage girl repeated, "Who're you watching? I've never seen such a love-struck face before!"

She searched the stranger's brown eyes, but it was no one that she recognized. Just a local inhabitant, someone with strawberry blonde curls and tanned skin. Marta shrugged. "See him there?" She pointed one slender finger at the blonde-haired boy.

"Yeah?"

"That's Emil. He's my boyfriend," she informed the girl proudly, just in case she was getting any ideas.

"Oh…" The newcomer smiled widely. "He's so cute! You're really lucky."

"I know, right?" gushed Marta happily. "So brave, so loyal!" Sighing, she almost ended up resuming Random Daydream Number Nine.

Her companion shook her head. "I've got a boyfriend too, but he—Emil, was it?—he looks just like a little puppy dog!"

Not sure what to think of that, she queried, "What do you mean?"

"Oh come on! Look at his eyes, and his expression, his stance…he's just like a puppy! I bet he adores you!" She stood and seemed to be heading out, slinging a pouch onto her back. Before she left, she added over her shoulder, "I'd keep a good eye on him, or else he'll draw girls like moths to a flame!"

Marta was left gaping as she was treated to a rather unsought for and unwelcome mental image of the girl's words. Girls? Swarming Emil? Her Emil? Impossible! She'd not let them. Simple as that. She started brooding, her eyebrows drawing together in a look that Tenebrae surely would have recognized as a bad sign.

Fortunately, the dark Centurion wasn't present to worsen the situation with a snide comment.

~*X*~

Emil returned with a tray and a soft smile, already knowing what she liked and therefore had brought the proper food. She accepted the fragrant coffee gratefully, but ended up peering at her reflection in the dark liquid with a thoughtful frown instead of, well, drinking it.

The boy examined her curiously, not missing how she supported the side of her face with one hand as she gripped the mug of her drink like her life depended on it.

"Marta?"

The faraway look cleared from her blue eyes, and she swiftly met his gaze with an intelligent and delightfully articulate, "Huh?"

"You look worried. Is something bothering you?" As he waited for a reply, he sipped his own coffee and resisted the urge to chuckle at the memory of Lloyd telling him about his "coffee mind screw" he had performed on Colette in the past. Evidently, Colette wasn't certain to this day if that had been hot or cold coffee. It kept her up at night, she joked.

"Well…" Marta muttered quietly, drawing the word out like unraveling string. Without warning, her voice acquired an edge and fire burned in her eyes. "You do love me, right?"

Startled, and for good reason, Emil stammered as his racing mind struggled to figure out if nodding or giving a vocal response would be better. After several seconds of wild babbling, he managed to shut his mouth and shift his head up and down enough to satisfy her.

Marta sighed, the corners of her lips turned up ruefully as she stared absently to the left and out the window. "Dogs have been known to run away from home."

Still clearly baffled, Emil scratched the back of his head, and then risked throwing out a guess. "Did you lose a pet, or…?"

She didn't answer, likely wandering down the alleys of her mind and not hearing his tentative question.

Perhaps the straight forward approach would benefit him here, he reasoned. "Marta, what is this about?"

The bit of steel in his voice recaptured her attention, and the girl met his eyes, giggling a little bashfully. "I was talking to someone earlier, when you were getting the drinks."

Slowly picking up an oatmeal cookie and biting it, Emil nodded, waiting for her to go on. An explanation was definitely needed for her abrupt mood change.

Looking up at him from between the bangs of her hair, Marta mumbled, "She said you were really cute, like a puppy, and that girls would flock to you if I didn't watch out."

The blonde boy arched his brows high. He looked like a puppy? Not even a full grown dog, but a puppy? Thank the heavens that Tenebrae wasn't there at the moment. Or Genis. Or Zelos. Or Lloyd. Unbeknownst to him, he tilted his head to the side in a very canine-ish way and repeated incredulously, "A puppy?"

Ignoring that, Marta continued. "So no matter how many girls you attract, you won't—"

Emil interrupted her by taking one of her hands in both of his, grasping tightly and staring her straight in the eyes. "You're the only one for me, Marta." He found her cheerfully astonished face to be both amusing and depressing. "…I thought you knew that."

She smiled, putting her free hand on top of his. "You're right, I'm just being silly."

He pouted. "What's with the insecurity? Am I that untrustworthy?"

Laughing, she shook her head. "No, no, nothing like that, Emil!"

"Good." Releasing her from his grip, he gestured at her coffee. "Now finish that, before it gets cold."

"Hang on a second." Marta slipped into the seat beside Emil, opting out of sitting across from him. Reclaiming her mug, she brought the dark concoction to her lips and leaned with a pleased sigh into his shoulder. He smiled affectionately at her.

Fighting off the violent scarlet throes of a blush, the blonde boy attempted to repeat the truth of the matter to himself. They were dating, and this was normal stuff between boyfriends and girlfriends…at least, he thought so.

So when she reached up to give him a coffee-flavored kiss, he for once was able to return it without going red in the face.

~*X*~

Author's Note: Pointless? Darn straight it is. My apologies if this is horribly OOC, I have not yet had the pleasure of playing Tales of Symphonia. I have only seen various YouTube clips of both games so far, though with any luck I can get them both soon.

Written mainly because I felt there was a severe lack of Emil x Marta stories. Reviews are appreciated, even if this was completely meaningless.