Monday, Winter 31st
I rolled over in my bed, ripping the covers off the upper half of my body. I'd been sleeping soundly up until this point. Normally, I would've been curled up into a ball from the cold, but this morning was different. The stuffy warmth I felt underneath the covers had woken me up.
Ugh, why is it so hot in here? My eyes fluttered open as I brought my hand up to my face and groggily wiped my eyes with my fingers.
I figured I'd sleep in for a couple minutes more and I flipped onto my other side, trying to spread myself out across the bed. As I extended my leg, I felt something – or someone – preventing me from sprawling out. I nearly fell out of the bed as I leaped up, looking at the person who'd fallen asleep beside me.
Skye?! Didn't he leave last night?!
My heart began racing as I watched his sleeping face. His silver hair fell across his face and splayed onto the pillow. His face was free of any creases or wrinkles and his expression was flat. His lips were slightly parted and I listened as he breathed quietly, his chest rising and falling as he did so. He seemed so innocent. I felt my face become warm as I reached out and brushed his hair out of his face. Life might've been simpler for the both of us if he acted as calm and sweet as he looked in his slumber. He must've accidentally fallen asleep last night.
This was a sight I wouldn't mind waking up to. I leaned closer to him, placing my hand on his shoulder to lightly jostle him awake as my front door began to squeak open.
"Claire! I'm here to make up for lost time on your birthday! How about some warm –"
A familiar brunette stood with her mouth gaping and her cheeks bright red, holding a small container in her hands. Her eyes were wide, darting back between me and the sleeping figure beside me.
"Celia!" I shrieked, standing up straight and backing away from the infamous thief.
"O-Oh! Oh my goddess! Oh my goddess I'm so stupid! I should've knocked! I-I'm… I'm leaving!" She reached for the doorknob in a panic. Her hands fumbled for a bit, before she was able to get a tight grip and slam the door shut. From the window I could see her head bob up and down as she tried to keep her footing, stumbling and running away.
I threw my legs over the bed and leaped up, running over the door hopping into some slippers and yanked a jacket from the coat rack. I rushed out, my shoes slushing against the melting snow as I slipped the jacket on. "Celia! Don't leave!"
She'd managed to make it pretty far in a short amount of time, as she was right about to turn out into the main area. She stopped, shaking her head and pressing one hand against her cheek. "I'm sorry! I'm really sorry! I walked in on something I shouldn't have!"
I jogged over to her, my slippers now soaked in melted ice and mud. "N-No! It's wasn't like that at all, you got it all wrong!" I waved my hands in front of me. "We fell asleep by accident! He never meant to stay over! We were asleep, t-that's all!"
Celia's eyes were as large as saucers and she avoided eye contact with me. "No, it's my fault! I'm really sorry, Claire! I-I didn't mean to interrupt your… your…" Her blush grew darker and she made a break for the entrance.
I grabbed her arm swiftly, pulling her back. "Celia! You weren't interrupting anything! Look!" I let her go, opening the jacket and revealing a white tank top and shorts. "We were just sleeping!"
Her shoulders dipped as her expression softened. "S-Sorry, Claire." She stuttered. "It just looked like something else… kind of… I-I didn't really get a good look…" Her face reddened again. "N-Not that'd I want to get a good look! I just –"
"Celia!" I said, placing my hands on her shoulder and biting back a laugh. "It's okay."
She lifted the container in front of me, her blush fading. "I made some hot pancakes to make up for your birthday, since I know you like sweet foods." She smiled sheepishly at me. "I didn't really make enough for two though…"
That's right. Skye is here. Funnily enough, I'd nearly forgotten that he still was while I was chasing after Celia. "You know, why don't you two formally meet? There's something he'd like to say to you, in fact."
I felt Celia shrink under my hands as her eyes drifted away from me. "A-Actually, I don't think I…" she fidgeted. "I just… don't think it's a good idea right now? I'm sorry, I just – I came in at such a bad time..." Her eyes kept darting towards the entrance and I knew she was trying to make her escape.
I let out a small sigh, giving her shoulders a slight squeeze. "Celia, I know this isn't the ideal time and place but… it isn't going to get any easier."
I knew Celia was apprehensive on meeting the former thief, considering their first encounter, but I'd wanted the most important people in my life to be on good terms. This could wait, of course, but… I'd done enough waiting. I wanted this to happen now. I waited for her response with hopeful eyes.
Celia relented, a half smile forming. "I guess you're right…" She let out a soft giggle. "You know, a small piece of me wants to meet him… properly. I'm curious as how he got mean old Claire to fall so hard."
I returned the smile. "C'mon, let's get inside. I'm freezing out here and my feet are popsicles." I lifted my foot and wiggled my ankle, showing off the drenched slippers.
We walked back to the house and I kicked my now dirty slippers off, leaving them outside to deal with later. I grabbed an old towel by the door and dried my feet off, using friction to warm them up.
"Oh! I wasn't aware you were bringing her back." I heard Skye say as he quickly leaped up from the bed. It looked like the commotion we'd caused had woken him up, as my bed was now neatly made. "I was just about to take my leave, anyway." He made his way towards the door but I closed it shut, standing in his way.
"Actually," I began, as I reached around my back and turned the lock. He heard this, as his eyes shifted from the door back to me. "I was hoping… you and Celia could sit down and talk... maybe…"
From the corner of my eye, I could see Celia watching us nervously, her arms wrapped around herself and her brows turned upward in worry. Skye stared back at me with a serious expression and I could feel my chest tighten. I felt bad that I was cornering them and forcing them to interact, but I wanted these two to talk one on one. I wanted Celia to know how much he meant to me and realize how much he cared about me if he was willing to go this far. As for Skye, well, this was just the price he had to pay.
To my surprise, Skye let his shoulders fall, turning around and sitting down at the table with a sigh. Celia saw this and glanced over at me. I half-shrugged at her, and the two of us cautiously walk towards the table and took a seat. Celia was now sitting directly across from him with the container sitting in front of her and I was at the end of the table, between the two.
"Well, as you already know, I'm Phantom Skye." He crossed his arms on the table and leaned forward, smirking.
He gave her a smug grin that I knew all too well and gently tapped his leg with mine under the table. Celia was on edge as it was and didn't need him playing that card on her right now. He felt this and quickly dropped the smooth-talking act.
"I do apologize for the way things unfolded that night. I hope I didn't cause too much harm with my spell. I'm also sorry for the anger I invoked in your partner as well."
Celia sat as far back as her chair allowed. There was a mixture uneasiness and shock painted across her face and her hands clutched the seat of her chair. "I-It's fine." She stuttered, giving him a timid nod.
He leaned back in his chair. "There's no need to be afraid. I know our first meeting wasn't very pleasant, but I assure you, you don't have to worry about that happening ever again." He locks eyes with me. "My days of thieving are finished."
From the corner of my eye, I can see Celia's tense body language slowly give way. "I see…"
The conversation came to an abrupt halt and all three of us sat in silence for a while.
"I… I wanted you to meet." I finally said. "Properly, I mean." I avoided their eyes and fixed my stare to the end of the table, looking at a swirl in the wood grain. "You two mean a lot to me… so I figured…" My voice trailed off.
What was I trying to say? "So now you two should kiss, make up, and be best friends?" I gripped the edges of my nightshirt, feeling heat rise to my face. Suddenly I felt selfish for dragging Celia back here.
"Well, I'll be honest" I heard Celia's voice and it didn't sound as meek as it had before. "You have a reputation, especially with women. I can accept your apology, and although it might take a while, I think I can come to accept you in the valley." Her voice was level and her eyes were fixed on Skye's. "But I won't accept if you break Claire's heart."
Hearing those words from Celia's mouth, I couldn't help but let a smile crawl onto my lips. Even now, when she held a serious face, I could still see her maternal instincts kicking in. She's so cute. I thought warmly.
"You don't have to worry about that." There was confidence in his voice. "I know what goes around about me, but rest assured, I wouldn't have gone this far if I wasn't serious about her." I felt him touch my knee gently under the table and I jumped.
"Do you have to profess your love for me every time?!" I blurted, glaring at him with a flushed face.
"Huh?" He blinked, taken aback by my sudden outburst. His lips tightened and he stared at me with a firm expression, his cheeks gaining color as well. "I need to, don't I? Otherwise how else would anyone know I'm serious?"
"It's cheesy! You don't have to say it out loud every time! You did this yesterday too!" I looked away from him, fixing my gaze on the bathroom door. I'd already admitted my feelings for Skye when I came clean to them. Was he going to remind them the reason for this whole mess each time?!
Our small quarrel had been cut short by the sound of giggling. Celia was trying to stifle the sound with her hand, but to no avail. I felt my cheeks burn hotter,
"You two are pretty funny." She said as her laughter began to die down. She looked up at the wall clock and pushed out her chair, standing up and smoothing out her dress as she did. "I think it's time I went back to the farm now. Enjoy the food, Claire!" She let herself out, giving me a final smile before walking out.
Skye spoke up once Celia was long gone. "So… she cooks for you, huh? I thought that was supposed to be my job." An impish smirk found its onto his lips and he reached out to grab the blue lid container.
Before his fingers reached it, I snatched it up first, holding it out of his reach. "It is!" I grinned back at him with the same mischievousness. "You think this will fill me up?" I motioned my head towards the kitchen, my laughter sneaking into my speech. "Get to it!"
Author's Notes: Let me tell you how I struggled so hard to finish this chapter, so it came out a lot shorter then I would've liked. These past two chapters have been very hard for me to write for some reason. Luckily I am reaching the end. (I just need to figure out how I'm gonna close it no-) If you enjoyed, don't be scared to leave me a review!