Header: Influx of Emotions is actually the title of the story, lol. I couldn't think of anything better, and that seemed to suit it. I'm not particularly a good writer, and don't claim to be, but all of this is original. Hopefully, you like it :) I started writing this story for my friend, Enzeru no hikari. But it ended up being written more for someone else. I hope she still likes it anyway XD
"I know this probably...no, definitely sounds weird. Especially coming from me now. But I really want to see you...
He had read that text message at least a million times, and was still stung with shock by its contents. What could she possibly want to see him for? Was she having second thoughts?
No, he responded to himself. That was completely over-thinking it. He had seen her just the week before making out with his best friend. And, as if that had not left him emotionally traumatized, the next day, his friend had the gall to gloat about their engagement.
Engagement, he mused. She was the most important girl in the world to him, and his best friend was.... well, to put it simply, not the right fit. Of course, he thought, that's probably just my jealousy speaking.
He missed her for sure. It had only been three days, nineteen and a half hours when he last saw her, but they used to spend most of their time together. The puzzle just was not making any sense. He was the one she always wanted to see, the one she always told her secrets to — and yet, this happened.
Now, on top of that, he was sitting here, nervously waiting for her to arrive at the park they two had claimed almost a year ago as their personal escape from everyone else. The bench he sat on was the one where she had first disclosed some of her secrets to him, and he, right after she had, to her. They had had the perfect moment — where they knew each other "clicked." Everything was falling right into place. That is, until it was falling apart.
He instinctively looked at his watch, which told him it was 11:57 A.M. Three minutes until their planned meeting. At that thought, he closed his eyes. His anxiety gripped him, forcing him to comb his hand through his hair before he was able to re-open his eyes. Upon opening them, however, he saw a pair of knee-high, black leather boots. He knew instantly who it belonged to. Not daring to look at her, he shifted his gaze to the empty space on the bench to his left.
"Hey," she said breathily. The way she said it, it sounded more like a choked whisper, he thought.
"Hey," he responded, his voice sounding more morose and strained than he had expected it to come across.
Relax, he said inwardly. He had already told himself that he was not going to let his emotions run away with him again. However, he noted, he was already starting to feel extremely tense.
She, not able to think of anything more to say while standing, sat down quickly in the empty space next to him. Surprised, he noticed that she did not sit farther away from him than she had in times past. He had expected her to be clear on the other end.
Unfortunately, he sighed, this gave him a really good view of her ring. It was definitely more expensive than anything he could ever afford for her. Perhaps he really was the better match...
Before he lost himself completely in thought, Noel spoke again. "I know that sounded really awkward... I guess—" she cut herself off abruptly as if she half dreaded and yet half eagerly longed to say the rest of it.
"You guess?" he asked, turning his vivid green eyes toward her icy blue ones. His stare completely lacked the vivacity it had had before when they used to sit here. Her heart grew sore as she stared back at him, the look he gave burning into her. It looked as if he were desperately trying not to convey any sense of emotion, yet utterly failing.
She had to clear her throat and avert her gaze before she could muster up the strength to continue. "I guess I really miss seeing you so much every day."
His heart stopped half-way through her sentence, although it had been nearly beating out of his chest just seconds before. She missed him?
"I see," he said, trying to sound indifferent. At this point, he could not tell whether he succeeded or not due to the rapid influx of thoughts rushing through his mind.
Calm down, he repeated to himself. They were just best friends. If it had been anyone else, he could have completely convinced himself of it. But, sitting here next to her, it was hard to think reasonably. Everything was becoming tangled together and unwinding itself at the same time. His heart was also feeling the twists his thoughts were taking.
"I..." she faltered, her voice cracking with emotion. Catching the emotional tone to her voice, he stared at her intensely.
What is she thinking? he asked himself. "What's wrong?" he voiced aloud, partially intentionally but mostly due to an unknown, impelling force.
She looked up and caught a breath, then gazed back at him. A tear forced its way out of her eyelid and slid across her soft, pale cheek. The wind whipped her platinum blonde hair at it in a weak attempt to wipe it away.
"I really miss you," she said softly. It was no longer her choice now. The tears were escaping quickly from both of her eyes, and she tried her best to hide it by turning her head and quietly dabbing her cheeks with her hand.
He grasped a Kleenex from the pouch he kept inside his pocket and reached over and touched her face gently with it.
"It's okay. I missed you, too," he replied. At this point, he knew he was letting far too much emotion out for her not to notice, but she seemed to be doing a fairly good job of showing some herself.
She turned her face towards his again only to see a look of total longing plastered on his face.
"Why?" she asked, nearly incredulously.
He stared at her for a long time, not quite knowing how to respond. Surely he should have thought of this by now. Yet, she had asked him, and now he did not know what to say to her. Any words, thoughts that came to mind seemed useless to him. He simply wiped away the last of her tears and stuffed the Kleenex into his pocket.
"Because... I really care about you," he said, knowing this to be the truth. And it was not overly sentimental, as that phrase was commonly used even amongst his other close companions.
He knew that would not satisfy the situation, however, as she turned her gaze away toward the blue sky beyond. He instantly stood up and walked to the other side of her and sat down on the edge of the bench, mostly facing her now. After her gaze shifted back towards him, he gently gripped her left hand in both of his.
"I do care about you," he repeated, then added momentarily, "That's why I want you to be happy. With Mark."
Once he had, painfully, added the last two words, he noticed a sudden change in her features. Her expression was that of sheer hopelessness and indifference. This he had never seen before.
"Mark...." she said in a muffled tone that sounded very distant. "Yes, I'm sure my life would be perfect with him..."
He was now yet more perplexed. Her words implied one thing, while the sarcasm of her tone connoted something entirely different. Seeing his marked confusion, Noel decided to continue.
"He's not who he says he is. I know that was probably extremely obvious....looking back, it's so evident..." her voice sounded slightly bitter as she spoke. "He's a swindler. In his job, he's reputable for a reason. It's because he's a smooth talker and good at convincing people...."
She stared coolly at the beautiful, large rock adorning her third finger. Then her gaze softened as she noticed his hands had not moved.
"I don't think I can handle being with someone who lies to people on a daily basis....." she paused for a while. "Including me."
"What? What do you mean?" he asked, his confusion growing more and more as the conversation continued. "You mean Mark's—"
"A jerk?" she cut in quickly. "Yes, that's what I mean.... I would have thrown the ring in the nearest duck pond if I was sure he wouldn't sue me for it." She smiled at the thought before continuing. "I heard all that from a friend of his. I'm not sure to what extent it's true, but the way he looked at me and immediately stopped talking with his boss when I showed up today...."
She did not continue this time. He sat there, quietly puzzled. "You mean a friend of his told you this...but you're not quite sure, right? We could ask—"
"I don't want to talk to him again.... Not now," she interjected again.
Her worn-out appearance more than spoke for her cause. He would not try to force her to talk to Mark — not now, at least.
"All right. I won't make you," he replied, watching her face relax. Finally noticing that he was still holding her hand, he quickly placed her hand next to her and seated himself more comfortably, reclining on the back of the bench.
After a few lengthy moments of silence, he spoke up again. "What if Mark was trying to plan a party for you, or some surprise? Maybe his boss is just a really cool guy who's gonna let him use some place at work to throw the party," he said.
It was not entirely unreasonable to think this, as her only resource was just a so-called "friend" of Mark's who was probably just jealous of him for being engaged to such a pretty girl. Also, he knew Mark, and it seemed impossible for his friend to be a crook.
She shook her head forcibly, saying, "No, you should have seen the look on his face. You know, the boy with his hand in the cookie jar..."
After a brief pause, he nodded and replied, "He's never been good with control over his expressions. You and I both know that. We can just ask him later... If you want, I'll go with you."
She stared into the distance, her gaze not quite landing on anything specifically. It was not like them to have awkward silences like these — but then again, no circumstances had been similar to this before. Normally, if she had been feeling at all upset, he would simply put his hand on her back and rub her shoulderblade softly. But in this case, it was neither the time nor place.
"I can do it," she said slowly, trying to ignore his sympathetic stare. For some reason, it was unnerving to feel comforted by him, even to a small degree.
Noel stood once again, turning in his direction. "Good-bye, Jason," she said softly.
She turned back in the direction she came from and began to walk away. He watched her until her figure disappeared, then still gazed in that direction as if he were locked in that position forever. By the time he had finally looked at his watch, it was more than half past noon, and his stomach was already complaining of the lack of sustenance.
Guess I better go, he said to himself. Still, her voice gripped his memory like a vice and would not stop ringing in his ears. Why did he miss her so much?
I don't remember when I actually wrote the first part of this, but I finally got around to writing another piece of it =P So hopefully, it's not worse than the first part or too off-base because of the discrepency in time.... And I don't quite know where I was going with the story, so it could go almost anywhere from here =] So if there's anything you'd like to see happen... Just leave me a comment on my portfolio or message me or whatever, and I'll see if maybe I can work it in. Thank you <3 Please enjoy the story.
"So... Friday? ... Okay, gotcha. I'll be there," Jason spoke into his phone, then gently snapped it shut.
It's just what I thought. Poor Noel, he thought to himself. After being deceived by one of Mark's own friends, probably the last thing she would need is a party.
He stood up from the comfortable sofa he was seated in and pulled on a jacket, staring thoughtfully out the window. Snow was falling in almost gentle waves outside, creating small piles here and there where the ground was cold enough for it to settle.
But since I'm going to be there, I should at least get her something, he reasoned.
Once he had driven to the bustling mall nearby and went inside, he was instantly drawn to one of the newer shops that were opened there. He had no sooner found something that caught his eye when one of the employees started to talk to him.
"You have good taste. I've seen three or four ladies just this morning sighing over that same piece," he said jovially.
Jason caught himself, slightly startled, and smiled slightly awkwardly back. "Ah... I see."
"It'd be pretty hard for a girl to say 'no' to that thing," he laughed slightly, still in very high spirits.
"Tell me about it..." Jason replied, his voice trailing off.
After a little more small talk, Jason left, feeling even less excited about the holidays than ever. It was an almost identical ring to what Noel had had on her hand. And he was right — it was much too expensive for him.
He continued to walk aimlessly around the mall when met with a hug from behind.
"Jasey!!!" a giggly voice said.
Slightly perplexed, Jason turned around. "Oh, Jazz. Hey there."
She grimaced at him. "Come on, I find you, and I'm all excited, cause I haven't seen you in forever, and there you are, all acting like you see me every day," she retorted, pouting slightly.
"Hey, I'm sorry," he replied, smiling apologetically. "I'm not all here today — that's all. How've you been?"
Feeling partially compensated for the original greeting, she said cheerily, "I've been great!! I heard Noel's getting married and everything, and I had to come congratulate you guys. I mean, it was pretty obvious, since you got along so well and everything, I didn't even listen to the rest of what Mark was saying. I figured, I'd have the actual husband-to-be tell me the news. Soooo... How goes it?"
Every single word she spoke being an unintentional dagger, he took a lengthy pause to regroup before his slow reply. "Well... You're kinda looking in the wrong place for the husband-to-be."
Jasmine's face fell, as if her world were slowly crashing down around her. After a moment's thought, she smiled again. "You're such a kidder. Come on, don't be like that."
"Sorry, Jazz... I'm not kidding," he replied, sorry for more than one reason.
Seeing that the smile she was readily accustomed to when he was joking was not anywhere evident on his face, she quietly spoke. "Oh... Wow, um.... So... Who's the lucky guy?" she asked, half-dreading the answer. If it was not Jason, who on earth could it be?
"Mark," he said quickly, then noticed her eyes open widely.
"You can't be serious.... Come on, Mark? It's gotta be someone else. Anyone else," she groaned.
He leaned his head to one side slightly. "What's so bad about that?"
She reflected for a moment before replying. "Well... He was the one calling me about the news, and I kinda wasn't listening to him after he said Noel was getting married, so I told him I'd be right down to congratulate the happy couple.....and I wasn't talking about him..."
Jason chuckled momentarily, walking over to a cookie shop. "I'm sure he'll understand. Some cookies will help you drown your anxiety — don't worry, my treat."
"Jasey, me and Noel are gonna hang out 2gether. U should totally come with! <3
Jason smiled at Jasmine's usual chatspeak, then quickly replied.
"You mean you're not already sick of me? We did hang out for quite a bit yesterday.
He did not have to wait very long before she responded.
"I wouldn't have invited u if I didn't want u to come. :( Pleaaaaaase?
After a moment, he relented and told her he could probably hang out later in the evening. She then said that was perfect and that he should invite them to his place around seven. She also informed him that she would be bringing her boyfriend to balance out the boy/girl ratio.
How do I get myself into these things...? he asked himself, sighing out loud.
Even though he had gone to the mall specifically to get Noel something, in the end, he spent all his time hanging out with Jasmine. Not that that was unpleasant, but it did not accomplish what he had set out to do. So now, he was still searching for something to get her.
He did not want to get her something too expensive, since he was afraid that would still show his interest in her. But neither did he want to get her something cheap. That would relay an even worse message.
His thoughts slowly settled into one conclusion, and nothing else he could think of would do — but it was not something he would be taking to the party.
After messaging Jasmine about it, and her replying that there would be no problem with it, his mind was completely settled on it.
He finished reading the last chapter of a book he had been reading. Although he liked to write, he never found the initiative to finish any of his stories. Besides, angles and perspectives were much more clear-cut when it came to pictures. Thus, his occupation was photography.
Bored with everything else then, he slowly flipped through the pictures on his cellphone. When he saw a flash of light blonde hair, he instantly stopped and stared, his gaze softening. This was the best picture he had taken of her. She was completely unaware of the fact that he was taking her picture when she heard the tell-tale noise. Afterward, she begged him to take it off his phone. He smiled gently at the memory.
I love that girl... he thought before slowly coming to the realization that he had thought it.
A pang was sent into his heart, knowing that he could not have her. Visions of the engagement ring and Mark kissing Noel taunted him, causing a knotted feeling in his stomach. He had always thought that maybe Noel loved him back. It seemed possible. Even some of their closest friends had noticed it, apparently. She should have known that he loved her.
Exiting out of his phone album, he closed his phone and slowly swiveled back and forth in his chair. It was two days before that he last saw Noel, and every day apart from her seemed to take forever to pass.
Maybe she didn't know how much I loved her... Maybe I was imagining things. She's probably always loved Mark... I was just so blinded by my love for her, he thought.
The day after the party, Jason would be busy with holiday weddings. Any photographer with some skill is requested to do at least some weddings during Christmas-time. He was not especially well-known, but he considered himself to be fairly good at his occupation.
After thinking about it, he took out some old albums he had. Every time he would look through them, he would start from the very first ones he did. Sometimes, he would laugh at how much of a novice he began as. Several of the pictures were partially blurry or out of focus. Then again, he had started when he was a kid, so that was to be expected.
He had started to get to more recent pictures when the doorbell rang. Once he quickly shoved all his albums back into their respective boxes, he sprinted over to open the door.
"Took you long enough!!" Jasmine said, giving him a hug and then allowing herself in.
Puzzled, Jason looked at his watch.
Oh. It's already seven... Wow, he thought to himself as his eyebrow arched.
"Sorry. Were you not expecting us?" an unfamiliar voice queried.
Jason looked back up to see a tall, muscular man who seemed like he would barely fit through his door without ducking. After a brief double-take, he shook his head 'no,' responding that he had simply lost track of time.
They shook hands, and then the tall man entered, followed by Noel who remained silent and gave only a simple smile before entering.
"Hey, Jazzy, where'd you get off to?" the man asked, slightly rolling his eyes to Jason who grinned in response.
"Hold your horses, Carter! I'm looking for Jason's games!!" Jasmine responded loudly from the kitchen.
"Um... I don't think you'll find any there," Jason replied.
He slowly walked over to his shelf and took off a remote and two boxes of cards. "I have... A TV, a deck of cards, and UNO. Sorry... My other games are back home."
"Awww..." Jasmine whined, then walked back out and stood next to Carter. "Carter.... Can you get the games I brought out of the car?"
The one spoken to raised an eyebrow. "So I see you came prepared. All right. I will go retrieve these precious items, my princess," he laughed, winking at her.
"Aw, thank you, my handsome prince," she smiled broadly at him, then turned back toward her other two companions as if dismissing him.
After he left, she turned on the TV and pulled out the UNO cards.
"I bet I could beat both of you," she challenged.
Jason's eyebrows rose, and Noel rolled her eyes. "I thought we were waiting on Carter," Noel said.
"Jazz? Nah... She can't stand being bored...can you?" he grinned slightly at her.
"Not one bit. I'll shuffle!!" she said high-spiritedly.
By the time Carter had come back, Jasmine had already beaten them once, and was about to deal again. She coaxed him to sit in with them for the next game, and they played it until someone else won.
"I thought it would be Noel!" Jasmine said, laughing. "I guess you still have much to learn, young one."
"Young one? But I'm older than you," Noel smiled.
"Ah, so when I'm 39, and you're 40, I'm sure you'll enjoy saying that same thing," Jasmine replied impishly.
"Hey, I'll be 41. That's not really nice..." Carter said, pretending to be hurt.
"Okay, okay, so what's next?" Jason asked.
"Hahahah, Jason doesn't want to admit how young he is in comparison," Jasmine giggled. "But I guess the winner gets special treatment. It's your turn to pick what game we're playing."
"Hey, don't be mean... I'm not that young. In age, I am to Noel as you are to Carter. So you can't blame me for being really young — unless you are, too," Jason replied, returning fire in a playful mood as he pulled out the other deck of cards.
"Oh-ho... Taking on the master, are we? Well, I'm a girl, and as a girl, I'm allowed to be younger, because I'm looking for a responsible, mature kind of guy," she said in the same mood.
"Younger guys can be mature, too, though," Noel entered in.
"Really?" Jasmine asked, arching an eyebrow. "Do tell."
Noel flushed slightly, more used to listening in to their bantering than joining in with the others. "Well... I have actually met as many responsible, mature guys that were younger than me as there were older than me."
Jason glanced between the two, then smiled as he started setting down cards.
"I find that extremely hard to believe," Jasmine smirked. "Name one guy you know, younger than you, that's really mature and responsible."
After she said that, she noticed a change in the atmosphere. Noel was hesitating, and the cards were finally dealt. An awkward silence fell.
"I actually thought that would be easy," Carter said, chuckling softly and graciously breaking the silence. "Jason here seems to fit the description pretty aptly, I think. So... Who's first?"
After the company had left, Jason sat heart-sore on his bed. He knew Jasmine meant well to have them hanging out together again, but it could not be like it was before. Nothing would be. Every day that went by, whether it was with Noel or without her, he knew he was slowly losing her, and there was nothing he could do to prevent it.
Why should I, though? Mark's a good guy, and she did say yes to him. I'm not going to ruin that for her just because I'm not happy with it... But... I don't know if I can stay like this with her, if that's how it's going to be, he said inwardly.
It's clear now that if she ever loved me at all, she's definitely over me.