the ballad of mona lisa

desperation loves company. or was that misery?


They met in secret in the beginning, not because they would be shunned, but because they were afraid.

They didn't know what they were afraid of. Was it the world's opinion on their love?

Either way, it was an ironic reason, considering she was fearless, she was brave, and she was...

Well, she was White. That just about summed it up. The brunette was known for her reckless behavior, and dating the typical boy next door wouldn't (shouldn't) have been that big of an issue for her. People were used to her escapades, and quite frankly, this wasn't some big dare devil stunt. It wasn't scandalous, it wasn't trashy, it wasn't...anything in particular. In fact, it was quite normal for a girl to fall in love and end up dating the boy of her dreams.

That didn't matter though. After she accepted his dating proposal, whoever White was before went out the window, and in came a new being. She was just as reckless. She was brave. She was loved.

Right?


"Hey, White?" His voice tended to snap her out of her extended-trances. He always sat across from her, elbows resting on the table that divided them. His jet black hair was mussed, windswept from the Nuvema Town breeze. His blue jacket seemed wrinkled, and the mere sight of it sent warning bells wailing inside her head. Was he suffering from post-stress insomnia? What was making him so forgetful, so...carless?

She wanted to know, she wanted to know so badly. Even after weeks of dating, she wasn't given any access to that head of his. His mind was a maze, locked away behind the looking glass.

"Oh. Sorry, Cheren."

Cheren. The name suited him, she decided with the slightest smile. Sure, it was originally a girl's name, and his parents weren't expecting a boy when he was born, but the name simply fit him. She couldn't imagine him with any other name. If his name had been Sam, or Nate, it probably wouldn't have been the same.

He rolled his dark blue eyes, and allowed his lips to turn up into a smirk. "It's weird having you space out. It's usually..." his voice dropped several octaves, and his sentence disappeared into the air. He tensed, and White let out a sigh.

Even after five weeks, he still couldn't say her name. It was disappointing, really, how afraid he was. It was as if he uttered her name, the painful experience would return to haunt him.

White knew that she was being cold towards his pain, but sometimes, she felt like he never intended to accept her declaration of love.

That was what scared her the most.


Cheren and White met forever and a half ago, when they weren't dead set on accomplishing their dreams, or on being the best that ever was. They were simple back then, just a boy, and just a girl. They had met by accident, and the more White thought about it, the more she thanked the higher deity that ruled over them.

White and Cheren met when they were four years old. She had bumped into him, causing his glasses to fall and shatter into millions of pieces. Her eyes had gotten all watery and his had gone steely. He quietly picked up the red frames and pocketed them. She had blubbered apologies, and he had let out a sigh, had decided to accept her rushed expression of regret. He had left soon after that.

If it hadn't been for that, she wouldn't have been able to become friends with him. The thought of not ever being able to do that, frightened White sometimes.

Sometimes. Not all of the time, not constantly, not...

They met at Café Sonata, located in the dingy depths of Castelia City's Side Street. They knew that they wouldn't be found there. He knew she preferred something like the café in Nacrene City, Striaton City, or Village Bridge. White had certain tastes, and even thought she was an adventurer at heart, she adored the finer things in life. She once confessed during one of their coffee-shop dates that she owned four ball gowns.

Every time she expressed one of her more feminine traits, Cheren felt inadequate, uncomfortable, and downright awkward. He was reminded more and more of the Painful Experience, and he hated feeling like that.

He hated the feeling of low self-worth. He knew she loved him, and that should've been enough to quell the unease.

The question still remained, though. Was he worthy to be her knight in shining armor, when there was long line of boys fighting for her affections? He, out of many, won the war waged on White's love.

Shouldn't that be enough proof? Shouldn't that be enough to make him forget the previous girl? It should be, he thought, but it won't be, until he finally apologized and revealed to the world that he, Cheren Blanc, was dating White Kuro.

Cheren knew that maybe, one day, he would be brave enough to do so. For now, he wasn't ready, and wouldn't be ready.

He was barely taking care of himself nowadays. His jacket wasn't ironed, his glasses were askew most of the time. He tended to be the organized one, but now it seemed like he was falling behind his friends.

He was falling behind his friend. Not friends. They weren't a quad anymore. They were no longer a trio. They were couple.

Was it really worth it? Was it worth losing everything for the girl he loved?

He didn't know the answer to that question.


White and Cheren finally had an official date at the café in Striaton City in the winter. They were seated by the blue haired waiter, Cress, who threw envious glances at the couple seated at the central table. White asked why he was so down, and Cheren fidgeted with his shirt collar, as Cress explained with a simple sigh. Apparently, the couple was composed of Chili, the waiter's brother who was supposed to be working the tables, and Skyla, of Mistralton City.

"What can I say? I'm forever alone," he muttered, as he dejectedly went to retrieve Cheren and White's order. Cheren attempted a chuckle at the waiter's expense, but White stared straight ahead, and over Cheren's shoulders. She stared at the couple, tucked into a corner booth, hidden away from the unpracticed eye.

Her lips twitched in displeasure, but she quickly regained her composure. Cheren noticed her sudden change of mood, and arched an eyebrow.

"Are you okay?" he asked this as if he was asking about the weather. White nodded, rather quickly.

"Of course," she chirped. "Everything's fine."

"Liar."

It shouldn't have been a surprise when he said that. White smiled slightly, and let out a sigh.

"It's nothing, really. I've just been thinking..."

Cheren's eyebrow refused to budge. "White, you were staring for a tenth of a second at..." he faltered for a second. "Black."

The Painful Experience came rushing back, and White cringed at the sound of the other boy's name. She clutched the tablecloth, and shook her head, repeatedly, as if that would convince Cheren that she wasn't still effected by that day's events.

"Black and Elesa make a wonderful couple, don't they?"

White hoped her voice didn't crack at the end of that statement. Cheren shrugged, indifferent about the situation.

"Sure. They look great together."

White took a sip of her iced tea-lemonade, and a bite of her croissant. Cheren used his spoon to stir his cooling black coffee, no sugar added.

"Want to go to the park?" he stood up and offered his hand. She took it, and grasped it tight. They exited the café, not before saying farewell to Cress, and wishing Cilan good luck on his next shift.

They crossed the streets, hand in hand, reveling in their couple status. They exchanged jokes, and sarcastic insults. Upon arrival to the park, White took lead and dragged Cheren to the nearest fountain, and they sat down on the concrete circle.

She rested her head on his shoulder, and he let out a content sigh. Their fingers were intertwined, and their heartbeats were in complete sync.

"Maybe...this is how it's supposed to be." Cheren murmured, and White agreed with the softest of sighs.

Everything was fine, until the sun dipped back down into the earth, and the moon took her place in the heavens.

Cheren and White went back home to Nuvema Town. Cheren dropped White off at her house, and kissed her lightly. White felt her cheeks heat up, and mumbled good night, and disappeared behind the oak door.

The glasses-wearing male briskly jogged back home. He passed by...her house.

Her room's light was on. He could see the outline of her shadow, a silhouette against shimmering violet curtains. He could see the curve of her waist, the length of her hair.

He looked away and sprinted all the way back home.

The Painful Experience was something written for romance novels, Cheren decided when he slammed his bedroom door shut. He lunged for his desk drawer, and yanked various of them opened. He searched through old notebooks, throwing things out at random, until retrieving a little black notebook, about the size of an index card. He flipped through it, until jabbing his finger on the latest, and last, entry.

[May 7, 2011.

I screwed up. I screwed up. I screwed up. I screwed up.

Will my ignorance be forgiven?]

He shuddered, threw the notebook back into the desk, and kicked it shut. He slumped onto his pristine bed, and carefully placed his glasses on his nightstand. While running a hand through his messy hair, he briefly wondered why he was so hung up about that certain event?

Why couldn't he move on? Why was he thinking so much about the past, when he knew better than everyone else, that the past could not be changed?

These were the thoughts that plagued him, these were the thoughts that wouldn't leave him live a normal life. Cheren knew that he wouldn't be able to move on until he finally addressed the issue at hand.

That was the part that frightened him the most. Delving into situations that he knew were better left untouched, untampered by reckless action and intuition. He knew that it was better he left all the memories connected to his past self, all things connected to the boy he was before.

Cheren took a deep breath and sighed. He got up, threw off his jacket, kicked off his shoes, and then settled himself between the sheets of his bed. Hopefully, sleep would offer some sort of repose for his weary soul.

It didn't.

In the boy's subconscious, his wildest nightmares come to life.

He dreams of the day he let go of his previous life, he dreams of the day he ostracized the girl who only loved him. He remembers the way her voice cracked, the way her eyes glistened with fresh tears, spilling onto the dewy earth.

He remembers everything she cannot. Her blonde hair, her rosy cheeks - he knows her too well.

"I don't return those feelings."

He remembers the way her voice catches, the way her knees buckle. He remembers the look of pure pain, painted on face.

He remembers her shouts of fury, and of disappointment. He remembers the sound of her footsteps, and she runs away, disappearing into the shrubbery of Route One, covered with remains of dead cherry blossoms from the previous spring.

He remembers the way his heart plummeted with the new found knowledge that Bianca wasn't coming back anytime soon. He finally realizes that he was living a dream, and that he needed to wake up.


So he does.

When he's awake, everything is seen through jade-tined lenses. The streets he once adored in his youth, are the things calling out for his death sentence.

He is another man in the realm of the living.

It pained him. He wanted to live again.

With White, he knew he had the chance to start anew.

He wanted to be able to prove to her that he was worthy of her love.


Weeks passed by.

Cheren began writing in his black notebook again. Starting from his last entry, he wrote.

[Summer.]

I'm sorry, Bianca.

That's all he wrote. He folded to piece of paper into a small square, and pocketed it. He would give it to her, one day, he promised, as his heart began to grow lighter.

He would finally be able to move on.


It was a spring day. Cheren rolled off of his bed, and reached for his phone. It was nine in the afternoon.

He blinked behind his red-rimmed glasses. Nine in the afternoon? That wasn't right.

"Oh. Of course, it's nine in the morning..." the boy muttered, as he flipped the device open and dialed a familiar number.


"Hello?"

"Hey."

"Hi, Cheren. What's up? You're up early."

"It's not important, really. What's important is I need to talk to you."

"We're talking right now, smarty-pants."

"In person. Meet me at Sonata?"

"...all right. I'll see you twenty minutes."

"I love you."


Cheren arrived at the agreed destination right on time. He slipped through the grimy doors, and took a seat in their usual booth. It was near the back, tucked into the corner, far away from the commotion and noise that the drunk brought in. The jet-black haired male brushed his fingertips against the vinyl countertop, smiling ever so slightly at the sight of White's messy permanent scrawl.

The message was written on the night of their first date.

[cheren & white claim this table for as long as their relationship lasts.

which means forever and ever. ]

"Those where the days, weren't they, Cheren?"

White's sudden voice caused Cheren to jump in his seat. He smiled sheepishly, losing all traces of his characteristic haughty smirk. White leaned close and kissed his cheek, before taking the seat across from him.

"Yeah, they were."

Silence attempted to steal their conversation, but White broke down the wall that seemed to come between them.

"What's up, Cheren? You usually don't get up this early on a Saturday."

Worry was laced into her words, and Cheren cringed.

"White..."

He wasn't sure where to start. Not at all. "Remember the...experience?"

White's blue eyes flashed for a nanosecond with some sort of emotion Cheren couldn't decipher. It seemed to be a mixture of remorse and...pain.

"How could I forget?" she threw out a rueful smile. "It was the day we both made some interesting decisions. I gave up, and you rejected."

Cheren's lips twisted into a wry grin, and the waitress behind the bar brought them two cups of coffee, without their approval.

"Yeah. Basically...that's what I want to talk to you about."

White's eyebrow quirked, and Cheren knew exactly where her mind went.

"You're breaking up with-"

"I'm not breaking up with you."

Her shoulders slackened, and her posture relaxed. He realized that she had been on the edge ever since her arrival - had she really thought that he would throw away the relationship he fought tooth and nail for? No. He wouldn't.

He loved her too much for that.

"Then what?" White managed to say, in between sips of black coffee, no sugar. Just like Cheren's.

"I want to...tell you that..." Cheren wrestled with his tongue, with his over-analytical brain. How did you tell the person you loved, that you were still burdened with the memories of before, memories that your heart refused to let go?

"I'm not over the event yet, White. I ruined our best friend's life. I ruined it, I ruined it," Cheren was losing coherency at this point, slamming his fist against the table, causing the silverware to shake, and shudder. His voice continued to rise, and the other café goers ceased their conversations. "I ruined Bianca's life, White. I absolutely ruined it. We are no longer a quartet, or a trio. We are a couple, and besides one, two is the loneliest number."

Cheren felt tears roll down his cheeks. He didn't bother wiping them away. White reached for his face, and cupped his cheeks, carefully brushing the stray tears away. She smiled, eyes watering, and leaned in closer. Their lips brushed for a second, and she pulled away.

"Cheren, you think too much, you worry too much. I don't deserve this. I don't deserve your pain, I really don't."

Cheren never showed weakness, this White knew. He was her knight in shining armor, he was the one she relied on in times of crisis. He wasn't the one who broke down in tears due to a falling-out in friendship. He was a statue, he was a warrior, as snarky as can be.

He was her best friend, her lover, her soul mate. She grew up with him, and wanted to grow old with him, but no matter how perfectly their lives aligned with each other, she didn't deserve him.

She was one lucky girl.

"White, White, White...you're such an idiot sometimes..." Cheren murmured, still managing to retain a shard of his dignity in sarcasm. White chuckled lightly, and continued to wipe Cheren's face. She finally sat back down, and tilted her head slightly, causing her brunette waves to cascade down her back.

"You're the bigger idiot for making a problem out of a little thing, Cheren." she retaliated, albeit weakly.

A stretch of silence followed, as they finished their coffee.

They left the café.

They went back home, hand in hand.

and everyone lived happily ever -

.

.

.

after.

"Bianca?"

The blonde haired girl turned around, green eyes sparkling with curiosity. Her lips were pressed into a thin line, as the phone at her ear continued to speak.

"If it isn't Cheren." She smiled.

"I'm sorry."

"I know."

"..."

"That means you're forgiven." Her grin seemed to widen, imagining the look on her ex-best friend's face.

Maybe best friend again.

Who knew?

"I missed you, Cheren."

"...I missed you too, Bianca."

"That's good to hear. Tell White I said hi, all right? You can't have her all to yourself, you know."

"Ha-ha, very funny. I'll tell her you said hi. Anything else?"

"No, not today. Goodbye, Cheren."

Click.

(and once upon a time, there was no need for a happily ever after. The once quartet, the once trio, the once couple, reunited. They settled out their differences, and accepted each other back with open arms.

And that was enough for him.)


A/N: Ta-dah! This was for the wonderful, wonderful, WONDERFUL AlFlowerrise, who's the most wonderful friend, writer, and person ever. Her stories are lovely, so go check them out! ^^ I hope you liked it~ :3