Of Love I am Sure
"I don't know how many times I've said this already, Cliff," Gray stabbed at the carrots on his dinner plate, "I don't give a damn. Alright?"
Cliff sighed sadly and poked at his own carrots. It had been this way for the past two weeks now, and it really worried him. He watched Gray shovel down the rest of his dinner and guzzle his glass of water, all the while managing to look absolutely livid.
"...Gray, I don't think you don't give a damn."
The blacksmith looked at his friend questioningly, "You don't think I don't what?"
"...Gray, I think you really do care about what happened, I mean, just look at you!"
Gray snorted angrily, "Just look at me? What's to look at? Nothing, that's what, so lay off. I'm fine and I don't need you to keep telling me I'm not." He stood up suddenly, the wooden chair made a loud squeaking noise as it grinded against the floor. "See ya later."
Another heavy sigh escaped the pony-tailed traveler as he watched his friend practically barrel Harris over as he left the building, Gray had a knack for being extremely difficult. Ann walked over and picked up Gray's empty dish. "No luck today, Cliff?"
"Nope, he's in denial, I think."
Ann shook her head sadly, "Poor guy, good thing he's got you for support right?"
Cliff blushed and managed to stammer out a sentence, "M-m-me? I don't...think so...I'm more of a nuisance, I think. H-He just ends up getting pissed off whenever I mention it."
Again, Ann shook her head sadly, "You know you're such a pessimist, you're a good guy Cliff, don't ever think otherwise." She gave him a pat on his shoulder, "Also, Gray seems to have skipped out on his bill, you got the money to pay for him or will you be washing dishes again?"
Cliff stared at Gray's empty plate and pulled out his ratty, tattered wallet. Of course, there wasn't much inside. "I guess I'm washing dishes again."
Ann laughed, "See Cliff? You are a good friend, and Gray needs that right now. C'mon, I'll let you into the kitchen."
As Cliff methodically scrubbed away at dirty dishes Gray was cursing angrily as he tromped down the cobblestone pathway. As much as he and Cliff were pals Cliff seriously needed to mind his own business, Gray kicked a small rock off the road angrily, it wasn't like he was pissed or anything. After a moment his shoulders sagged unhappily, well, maybe he was a little pissed.
Something suddenly rustled in the bushes a ways off the path and Gray jumped, surprised at the sudden movement. He managed to relax though when he saw a head of pink curls pop up from the foliage. Popuri rubbed her head and picked up the offending tiny rock that had flown out of nowhere and hit her. She'd only been stooping in the large bushes for a minute to grab at some pretty pink wildflowers. She glanced around and spotted Gray standing motionless beside the street light.
"Ohh, Gray! You won't believe it! A rock came out of nowhere and bopped me on the head!" She walked over to him, her steps a tad weary and showed him the small rock. He glanced away uncomfortably and tossed it into the blacksmith's yard.
"I wouldn't worry about it, it's just a rock."
He patted her head stiffly. He and Popuri were, he guessed, friends. Her and Rick and been the only people his age when he'd hopped off the boat into Mineral Town all those years ago, them and Karen, but she'd acted too mature for her age for him to be interested in making friends with her. Popuri smiled sadly as she plucked his hand off her head, and he suddenly realized that she was probably going through the same thing he was.
"You gonna be alright?" He questioned her when she started to shuffle back to the poultry farm. "I can walk you home if you like."
Popuri laughed softly, "Oh, Gray would you?" She smiled gratefully at him as they walked slowly down to her place and her voice was soft as she began to speak, "It's just, hard, you know? I can't believe he and I are...over."
Gray studied the shorter woman beside him, of course she'd be heartbroken, he thought. Kai and Popuri, they were like a match made in heaven. But his thoughts raced back to that night he and Cliff were eating dinner at the inn when Popuri burst through the doors, sobbing frantically into Ann's shoulder. Apparently, they were later informed, Kai had decided to break it off.
In truth, Gray didn't exactly think much of it at the time. Yeah, he'd felt bad for the poor chicken farmer but that was life, wasn't it? That's what he thought anyway, until he found out the real reason Kai had decided to bid the relationship he and Popuri had farewell. He clenched his fists angrily, the dark skinned traveler had suddenly kindled a new romance with the towns librarian. Shoving his hands deep into his pockets he silently let his anger ebb away. It wasn't like he and Mary were actually together anyway, but Gray had liked to think that maybe they were. He guessed Mary hadn't felt the same.
Popuri sighed sadly, also remembering the night Kai had told her they were over. He couldn't have been more kind about it, stating that she wouldn't be happy with him if he took her away from her family and that her mother, more than ever, needed her now. She had sobbed and stamped her feet and called him names and begged him to reconsider, but he stuck with his resolve. After kissing her head softly he'd simply walked away.
Absently she touched the spot where he'd last kissed her; it was bruised from where the flying rock had hit.
"It's alright Popuri, time goes on, you'll get over it." Gray spoke to her after the long pause and she managed a watery smile.
"You're right, I guess."
Gray couldn't help but think that maybe he was trying to convince himself to believe his words instead of Popuri. He mulled over his thoughts as they reached the front of her house, she looked up at him with her ruby red eyes and laughed, despite her sad demeanour.
"Thanks a lot Gray, I appreciate this. You and me, we have to stick together now." She punched his arm playfully and he gave her a reluctant grin and once again patted her head and mussing up her hair.
"I'll see you later, and don't look so down, you don't want to worry your mom or your brother." He bade her farewell and walked back to the blacksmith's shop, Popuri fixed her hair up outside before she entered her house. She just caught Rick quickly closing the curtains at the window. Popuri put her hands on her hips and frowned at her older brother who had a sheepish look on his face.
"Ricky, were you spying on me?"
"Oh – me? Of course not Popuri, why would I be spying on you? I was just closing the curtains!"
She tapped her foot and gave him her best glare, Rick was a terrible liar.
"Fine, alright, I was maybe watching but I'm your older brother, can't I be worried about you?" he gave her a pleading gaze, "I mean, this whole Kai thing hasn't even blown over and you're with...Gray?"
Popuri felt a pang of hurt but managed to roll her eyes as she kicked her shoes off, "Oh please Ricky, he was walking me home. Him and I, we're in the same heartbroken predicament right now, kindred spirits! We have to help each other in our time of need."
Rick shuddered slightly as took a seat on the couch, "Yeah, but, did it have to be Gray? Remember when that guy used to bully me? Ohh, he threw me in the lake that one time..."
Popuri joined her brother on the squishy seat and laughed, "I remember that, it was pretty funny!"
Oh the horrors of childhood, Rick feared the menacing looking blacksmith, he'd feared him since the day, years ago, Gray had smashed an egg on his head. Oh sure, the red headed bully and Popuri had gotten a laugh out of it but as Rick remembered the feeling of embarrassment and egg yolk dripping down his temples and forehead he sunk into the couch unhappily.
"Remember we used to call you egg head?" his sister tittered beside him as she smoothed her skirts out absently. "It was after you got egg in your hair."
"I-I did not get egg in my hair! Gray cracked an egg, on my head!" flustered Rick covered his face with a pillow as Popuri laughed louder.
"Oh goodness, I'd forgotten he'd done that!"
"And that time he put an egg on my seat, right before I sat down!"
"We named you egg butt after that! Oh and do you remember being called chicken wings?"
The be speckled poultry farmer gave a defeated groan, this wasn't exactly how he'd imagined spending his evening, reminiscing about unwanted childhood nicknames. But as Rick looked at his younger sister laughing beside him he couldn't help but feel just a little happy, she's just been so depressed lately. He managed to reluctant chuckle or two, because well, those silly nicknames were kind of funny.
And just as Gray had said, time passed and Popuri found herself getting over her break up. She woke every morning and found her shoulders to be just a little lighter, she found she could smile and give Mary hugs again and most of all she found she could walk right into the snack shack and order herself a snow cone, just like she used to - minus the flirting. She felt on top of the world, but of course she hadn't done it herself.
The chicken clucked angrily and fluttered away as the strange man with an UMA hat tried to pick it up.
"Goddamn little shit..."
"Gray, little Elli won't let you pick her up if you don't speak nicely to her!"
The red head rolled his eyes upward with a groan, "First of all, why did you name your chickens after people in town? Second, chickens don't understand English, they're just dumb animals with brains the size of peanuts."
Little Elli peered at Gray with her little chicken eyes and squawked shrilly, as if yelling at him for his remarks. He simply sneered and lunged suddenly, successfully rising up with the stubborn hens legs in his firm grasp, little Elli was upside down and flapping her wings wildly and trying to peck at Gray's wrist, to no avail.
"See Popuri? Who needs to sweet talk a chicken when you can do it like this?"
Popuri slapped him in the back of the head and gathered the dangling chicken in her arms, cooing soft words and stroking its feathers gently. Angrily she pointed her finger outside, telling him to go harvest some corn and make feed because he was obviously a chicken abuser and his kind weren't welcome in the coop.
Adjusting his skewed cap, Gray grumbled as he walked outside, that place smelled like shit anyway. He didn't exactly feel like making bird feed but he'd promised Popuri to help her with chores today, so he found himself walking up behind Rick who was busily wresting a corn off of its stalk.
"Hey, string bean, you won't get it off the way you're going at it." Rick gulped suddenly and looked behind him to see Gray, with his arms crossed, staring at him curiously. The blacksmith reached over the fence and easily snapped the vegetable off the stalk, the corn silk waved lazily as a slight breeze wafted through the air. Rick stammered as Gray thrust the corn into his empty hands and hopped the fence.
"G-Gray, what the heck – what the heck are you doing here?"
More corn was tossed into Rick's arms, "I told Popuri I'd help her out a bit today, you got a problem?" Rick laughed nervously but shook his head silently as he held a steadily growing arm full of fresh corn. Just as his legs began to wobble from the weight and the pile of corn began to tilt precariously Gray led Rick to the mill, they shucked the corn in mostly silence until Popuri popped her head in with a smile.
"Gray, my chores are done for today, let's go have lunch like you promised!"
And with that Gray was up and out of there, leaving poor Rick with a mound of corn to be shucked and no one to keep him company except for maybe the moody rooster of the farm who'd wandered into the mill. It gave a loud cock-a-doodle-doo and pecked at Rick's pant leg, demanding food.
Rick sighed as he tossed a clean corn onto the ground and spoke to the nasty rooster, "Jeez, Gray, why do you have to be just a big a meanie as the real one?"
"Yeah, he just asked me this morning!" Ann swooned happily on the edge of her bed. "Ohh, Cliff!"
Elli snickered as Karen forked over twenty dollars, "What's that for?" Mary asked tentatively as she caught the exchange.
Karen sulked but Elli simply giggled, "Karen and I had ourselves a little bet. She was set on believing Cliff was gay, but I knew otherwise." Elli gave Ann a wink and burst out laughing.
Popuri smiled as she sipped a cup of hot chocolate, the girls had gotten together the night before the fireworks festival to discuss dates and other things on their girly agenda. Of course, this year there had been some strain as to if they were even having their annual sleepover or not, what with Kai's shocking switch over and all. But Popuri had insisted they go through with their plans, she'd profusely told them she was fine with it and that it hadn't bothered her for the rest of the summer.
Elli beamed at the rest of the girls, "Well, the doctor said he's taking me to see the fireworks whether I want to or not!"
Karen yawned and casually added that Rick had asked her to go, Mary blushed and glanced Popuri's way. Of course, Kai had asked her to watch the fireworks as well. The four other girls stayed quiet for a while, not knowing what to say or how to go on until Popuri finally huffed and crossed her arms with an angry scowl.
"Oh, would you girls stop pussyfooting around me? I know he already asked her and I know I'm dateless this year!"
They smiled sheepishly and laughed but Mary eyed Popuri curiously until the pink haired woman blushed and asked her if there was something on her face.
"Oh no, there's nothing your face Popuri it's just that...that was the best Gray impression I've ever seen in my life."
Everyone stopped and stared at Popuri and almost simultaneously, devilish grins spread across their faces. The jumped on the pink haired girl and demanded that she divulge just a little information.
"We all know the two of you have been hanging out a lot more!"
"You claim your just friends, but now we know better."
"Has he confessed to you yet?"
Popuri backed up to the edge of her bed and bumped into Mary who simply smiled softly, "Just promise you'll take good care of him for me."
That night had been soooo awkward, and this night was no better.
Popuri kicked the sand uncomfortably. Why had she bothered to come to the fireworks festival tonight? It wasn't like she had a date, she watched wistfully as Kai and Mary sat on the docks. Quickly scolding herself for a sudden rush of mean thoughts she shuffled back to the end of the beach. It wasn't even like he was here anyway, what was the point in even trying, she'd just ended up looking like a loner.
She climbed the steps to exit the beach and looked upwards, only to see Gray coming down the steps. He looked like he was about to choke on something.
"H-hey Popuri. You here to watch the fireworks?" His voice sounded rather strained and he'd pulled his hat over his eyes.
Popuri shrugged, even though he couldn't see the action, "I came to watch them, but where's the fun in watching them alone? Especially when your ex is in the same area." She took another step up but Gray stopped her from leaving.
"Well, there's no point in missing them if you're already here. Just watch them with me; we'll stand over there on the opposite end so you don't even have to see Kai."
Popuri couldn't hold back her smile, "You came to watch them too then, Gray?"
"Y-yeah, well...uhh," he cleared his throat and stalked to the edge of the beach, refusing to say any more. Popuri skipped over to join him, not asking for any further explanation, but was more than happy to hold his hand as the fireworks shot into the air.
Hurray, Gray/Popuri! Lol, well I think they're cute together and they aren't even total crack! They were canon in HM64 P: But in the MT universe they can be considered as such along with Kai/Mary.
I guess this was more of a friendship based thing, except for the last sentence. I didn't think I could really delve into a G/P romance...not yet anyway!
Yeah, that's the deal so R&R, and thank yuu.