So yes, I'm new here. o.o Obviously. But I come bearing a gift! Because I found this place yesterday and spurred me on to finishing it before it fizzled into nothing. So I think I owe you it.
Title: Stockholm Syndrome
- Characters: Pence, Fuu
Notes: Pence is caught in something he doesn't understand. Pre-relationship. A really mini-spoiler for one event post-Roxas, pre-train.
It started with gazes that stared too long. He'd always catch them, watching him, piercing him, looking at him and not just through him. A demon red eye that would never look away in shame at being caught, but only when a point was made.
Pence wasn't sure what point Fuujin was aiming for, but it was undoubtedly unnerving him.
He didn't tell Hayner. He didn't tell Olette. It wasn't something you brought up with your friends, especially when Pence was sure Hayner would find a Seifer!conspiracy in it, or Olette would know the answer instantly and Pence could no longer play ignorant.
Sharing a computer lab&lecture with her made it worse. She would be there when he got in, waiting and staring, and she wouldn't leave until after he did, staring and waiting. And he couldn't ignore her; Fuujin was impossible to ignore as is, and this only made her stick out in his mind more. Never far in his thoughts, Pence was stuck thinking about her when he mostly wished he wouldn't. Agreed to himself, after a while, that she was very pretty, smart, and still a bully deep down.
Then things became gradually more confusing when he started watching her back (something he found himself doing and cursed himself for). Her participation within the "Twilight Disciplinary Committee's" questionable antics had decreased, she had been noticeably speaking more (and not just around the posse, but in the lecture too), her clothing style had changed, and Pence had to double-take when she smiled once at something Raijin said.
Halfway into the school year, Pence slipped. He'd smiled and waved at her before leaving for Algebra. Granted, the smile was pathetically unsure and the wave rather weak, but much to his slight discomfort, she had slipped in return. Fuujin's infamously stony expression had fallen, just for a fraction of a moment, into a faint startled one. And that confused him. Why was she surprised he'd finally acknowledged her? Isn't that what she wanted?
The staring stopped after that. And as personal and invasive as it was, Pence didn't feel relieved in the least. It was like the sick feeling he'd gotten at the end of the summer, that empty pit in his gut which hurt even more when the boy in too-small clothing boarded the strange train. Like something suddenly went missing and he couldn't even pinpoint what. And when it became apparent Fuujin was doing all she could to not look at him now, Pence felt liked a kicked puppy who certainly didn't know why he wasn't liked.
She was too confusing. Girls were too confusing.
Should he apologize? But for what though? All he did was wave for hells' sake; he knew that wasn't a crime. Was it wrong? Was it some sort of rule he didn't know about? Was it a code?
Now Pence had to talk to someone. But the matter seemed too awkward, even to bring up to Olette or his Aunt Rachael. And that just made everything worse. In the end, Pence was left to stew. Because he really didn't get it.
The end of the year was coming; the big event was the class dance. The last count on Olette's suitors was five, all denied. Pence didn't know who she was holding out for. Hayner had all but announced to the whole world he was going "stag". Who used that word anymore?
Pence considered it too, going dateless. Except while Olette didn't bother Hayner about his choice, she didn't leave Pence alone about it. And Pence was tempted, so very tempted to use this to explain Fuujin's year-long strangeness. But he didn't, and Olette continued to persist.
One hazy afternoon brought a rare sight in the courtyard, one Pence didn't think looked right. He knew Seifer was here; he and Hayner already went through the morning fight steps. He knew Raijin was here; Pence saw him bump into a girl in the hallway before the lunch break, knocking her books to the ground and helping to pick them up. So why on earth was Fuujin sitting alone?
They never sat alone, if it could be helped.
The day itself wasn't active. Hayner complained on his back, Olette compared notes, and Pence kept glancing back Fuujin, not knowing why he felt a light tug in his chest. It just wasn't right. But he wouldn't have moved otherwise, damned to be unsure and confused when it came to her, until a foot nudged his knee, and Olette was watching him. He'd been caught with his fingers in the cookiejar, and Pence tried to shrug innocently. But she's have none of that, and mouthed, 'Just go,' and nudged him more aggressively until he got up from the grass, as indignant as a bird being pushed from the nest.
Walking towards Fuujin was...hard. Each step like a mistake, an unwelcome intrusion, but he'd started and it was too late to turn back. A couple of feet away and she finally looked up from her laptop, and if she was surprised, it didn't show this time. Pence tried not to look stupid. "You mind...you mind if I sit down?"
After what seemed like an eternity, she shook her head, never looking away. "Go ahead."
The uncomfortable silence settled above them just as Pence settled himself. And it stayed, with no distraction to free themselves from it. And it was still Pence's move, the hardest one to open with. Because she couldn't hide behind her computer forever. He licked his lips, finally, and threw caution to the wind in an instant. "Fuu?"
He pushed down the knot in his throat. "I know it's been a weird year, b-but I want to get this off my chest. I mean, it feels like....I feel like I was tricked into liking you."
Like a woman scorned and battered down. He's seen Olette with that look more then once, and he had a bad feeling that was the wrong thing to say. "...Very considerate Pence."
In a flash, she was packing up her things. It hurt, and in a panic, Pence leaned across and grabbed at her laptop's carrybag, preventing her from taking it. "Hey, wait! Fuu! That's not what I meant!"
She glared at him, but didn't follow through with her threat to leave. "Then what did you mean?"
He floundered with his words. "I mean, you kept staring at me. And I kept thinking about you staring at me, because it's not like I knew why. And then you stopped and I have no idea what happened. And do you know how crazy it drove me?? I had no idea what was going on, and here I am, being a dolt and asking you to the dance, because this is mostly your fault."
She stared at him, the dark look long gone, and repeated slowly, "Asking me to the dance."
"...Well, yeah." He smiled bashfully, rubbing his nape. "I mean, you don't have to. You're not obligated to say yes. Olette's turn down half a dozen guys already so, and I probably got the wrong idea and I'm sorry if I did, but--"
"I'd love to."
Looking straight at her put an embarrassed flsuh in his cheeks, because she was smiling. At him. And that visible red eye had softened to match. Fuujin wasn't kidding. He straightened up immediately. "That's great!" he said, perhaps a little too loudly, much to his realization. But she was still smiling, and it gave him the courage to be be a little bolder. "So, um...do you wanna hang out later? If you're busy, that's okay--"
She chuckled softly, effectively silencing him. "After class will be fine, Pence."
Awesome, he thought with a boyish glee, and couldn't help let it slip at he told her as much.
Now if only things went so smoothly IRL.