Some people think that it's romantic to fall in love with the person you kiss underneath the mistletoe. What do I think? Well, I find it very cliché. What are the chances that the person who you get caught with is even your type? Jonath definitely isn't my type, and a magical kiss surely didn't change that.
Oh wait, I think our count is up to three by now. But still no change. See what I mean?
I knew coming to this party was a bad idea from the very start of it, when upon walking across the foyer I bumped into the aforementioned guy and his mother. The woman was very sweet and polite and introduced herself as "Mrs. Ault" and her son as her "darling Jonathan." The guy promptly flicked his black, emo-cut hair to one side and corrected her.
"Jonath, actually," he said in a deep, uninterested voice. He didn't even look at me. I nodded uneasily and flashed a charming smile at his mother.
"Merry Christmas to you too. It's nice to meet you, Mrs. Ault," I greeted her. I didn't even try to say anything to her son. "I'm Darcy. Have you met my sister, Arielle?"
"Oh, no, sweetie, but I remember seeing her in the other room," the woman gushed. "Both of you have the same face, it is so easy to tell that you are siblings!" Jonath at this point rolled his eyes and walked off. I wanted to stay and explain to his mother that actually, Arielle and I were twins, and the reason she probably didn't guess that automatically was because we styled our hair so differently. While my sister liked hers long, dark, and straight, I usually went for soft, blonde curls. After all, twins who look and dress alike are so cliché.
However, Jonath's attitude irked me, and I only managed a small smile before I headed in the other direction. I managed to last fifteen minutes before I ended up bumping into the guy again as we both were exploring the house and assessing the other guests of the party. It was a large place, similar in size to my own home, and so it shouldn't have been that easy for the two of us to run into each other so soon. Yet we did.
"Hi again," I said, trying to be nice. Jonath shrugged and slipped his hands into the pockets of his skinny jeans.
"Hm," he managed. He didn't even smile. Even though he was really annoying, I couldn't help but at least try to get something civil out of him. Years of dealing with Arielle taught me to be patient even in the most trying situations.
"How are you liking the party so far?" I asked.
"S'okay," he replied in that I-don't-really-care sort of way. I tried again.
"How do you know the Takahashi family?" I figured it was reasonable to ask a guest how he or she knew the host.
"My sister's boyfriend introduced us." Well, a whole sentence. That was an improvement. I beamed.
"Interesting. Did you know that the elder Takahashi is actually my sister's boyfriend?" I waited for some change in Jonath's expression, but he looked as glum as ever.
"That's nice," he said in the most apathetic tone I have ever heard. Discouraged, I didn't say anything further, and he walked away.
At that point, I decided that it was better if I gave up on trying to be friendly with Jonath. Even Arielle wasn't that difficult. She could be rude, demanding, and selfish sometimes, but she could at least pretend to be interested in a conversation if she needed to.
For a while, I managed to forget about Jonath and his antisocial behavior. The rest of the party would have been great if I hadn't been reminded of him again at all. But one hour into the party, the host family's two sons decided to change up the atmosphere by secretly hanging up mistletoe in most of the doorways. Since the decorations hadn't been there at the beginning of the night, no one knew to be cautious and one by one fell victim to the holiday tradition.
I was one of the first to suffer. My partner? None other than Mr. I Hate Conversation.
"I suppose this is an awkward situation to meet each other again in," I began, thinking that I could pull off the shyly unwilling kiss for everyone who was watching and giggling. However, Jonath would have none of that. As soon as he realized what was about to happen, he bent down and pressed a quick kiss to my lips and walked past as if nothing had happened. The guests cheered and laughed, but I was left standing there like an idiot.
Well, at least I didn't have to worry about any clichés. That could hardly be counted as romantic. While everyone else was commenting on how cute it was, I bottled up my hurt and walked away. Maybe if I talked to the others there, I could take my mind off of the incident.
"Arielle!" I called and walked over to my sister as soon as I saw her. She looked over at me as I took her hand and pressed my shoulder against hers.
"What?" she asked blandly. Next to her, Daitaro, her boyfriend, gave me a friendly smile.
"Having fun, Darcy?" he asked. Finally, pleasant conversation that I didn't have to initiate.
"Definitely," I lied cheerfully. "How about you? I hope-,"
"Come on, Daitaro. I want to go over there!" Arielle interrupted. She placed her hand around the elder Takahashi's arm and dragged him away.
"Sorry!" he said over his shoulder as he let himself be taken away by his girlfriend. I sighed. Somehow I knew I wasn't going to find comfort there. I looked around at the other guests, trying to see if there were any that I recognized. A girl with a slightly familiar face caught my attention. I couldn't place her exactly, but I walked on over to introduce myself and check whether we had ever met before.
"Merry Christmas, I don't remember if I have talked to you before?" I started. She turned and grinned at me.
"You too! No, I don't think we've met! But that's okay, because we can introduce ourselves to each other right now! I'm Zabeth!" she exclaimed in a hyper rush, holding out her hand.
"I'm Darcy," I replied, smiling. Wow, she was certainly a very enthusiastic person to talk to. I was sure she could definitely take my mind off of anything depressing, but at that moment Jonath decided to make another appearance. He stepped up next to Zabeth, putting an arm casually around her. The gesture made my chest feel tight. I wasn't quite sure why.
Even though Jonath made no attempt at conversation, I couldn't help but at least greet him by his name. That caught Zabeth's attention.
"You know my brother?" she asked excitedly. Oh, her brother. Why was that a relief?
"We've met." I didn't say any more. Zabeth, however, got my message loud and clear.
"He's very serious, isn't he?" she giggled, pressing into him. Her small frame fit snugly into his side under his arm. She's a good seven inches shorter than him at least. In fact, I would probably fit similarly under that arm, since she was about my height. Not that something like that actually mattered. It's just a comparison.
When I said nothing, Zabeth continued in a hyper fashion, "Actually my boyfriend is probably even more serious. Don't you think, Jonath? Don't you think Jeremy is more serious than you are? I think so, sometimes. But he's older than you too. Maybe that's just what happens when you're that mature."
I smiled at her as she rambled on. It kept me from having to try to converse with Jonath, who had made it quite clear by now that he had no interest in talking to me. At this point, if Zabeth had continued talking, I might have actually been able to stand being in his presence. However, she suddenly looked up, squealed, and jumped away. Moments later, Jonath and I looked up at the same time to see a mistletoe branch being held above our heads by someone who stood behind me. My eyes followed the arm back to the owner and I groaned.
"Daijiro!" I hissed at my sister's boyfriend's younger brother. He grinned and shook his finger at me.
"Now, now, don't be like that!" he said disapprovingly, all the while keeping a ridiculously wide smile plastered to his face. He looked at Jonath. "Now, you, be a gentleman and kiss the girl, will you?"
Jonath didn't respond vocally to that comment. Instead, he ducked down and for the second time wordlessly kissed me. I didn't even have time to react before he was gone, and Zabeth was all jumpy and excited over me.
"Aw! That's so cute! That was so cute! He usually never does something like that, especially if forced. He must like you!"
I nodded at her. "Is that so?" I asked half-heartedly.
"See, that wasn't too bad, was it?" Daijiro chimed, beaming. I smiled weakly at him. I couldn't decide if the new information was good news or not. Did I want him to like me? No, I didn't necessarily believe that two random people could spontaneously fall in love because of a kiss. Or two. What was it that was bothering me then?
I would have gone on thinking, but a new girl coming into the group distracted me. She wasn't cute or pretty like Zabeth. She had a distinctly tomboyish look about her, and she seemed very uncomfortable in that holiday themed dress she was wearing. She looked directly at Daijiro and directed her next sentence at him.
"What the," she used a word that I would never utter in the presence of strangers, "are you doing?" She indicated the mistletoe with a flick of her head.
Daijiro grinned, unfazed by her language, and scratched the back of his neck with his free hand as if embarrassed. "Hey, Ado-hime, nice dress!"
The girl looked ready to murder him. "I am not a freaking princess, and this is not a nice dress." She glared at Daijiro while he smiled back at her fondly. Zabeth bumped against me with her shoulder.
"Aren't they such a cute couple?" she whispered. "Daijiro and Adore! They are so cute!" They were together? Wow, I really wouldn't have guessed by Adore's behavior. I nodded and responded as cheerfully as I could manage that I agreed with Zabeth, even though I didn't.
After a few moments of standing there, watching as Daijiro happily sidestepped every rude remark his girlfriend threw at him while Zabeth "fangirled" the couple, I walked away. I gave everyone I passed a happy smile, trying not to betray the swirling emotions inside of me. That was when I bumped into Jonath for the third time under a randomly placed mistletoe decoration. For the third time, he kissed me and left without a word.
Irritating could hardly begin to describe it.
The next few hours were spent on dinner and a movie in the house's media room. The guests had now stopped wandering from place to place, so most of the mistletoe was removed. I sighed with relief, both at not having run into Jonath for a while and not having seen any of that annoying plant. Smiling at everyone, I introduced myself to all the people I had never met before and made small talk with all the people I did know. A couple celebrating their three-month wedding "anniversary", Lily and Felix Spencer, were now the center of attention, and I inserted myself into the crowd around them, listening as they told stories of their recent honeymoon.
However, even that got me worked up after a few minutes, and I couldn't help but politely withdraw from the crowd and retreat to one of the back rooms in the house. Some of the outer hallways were dark and silent, and I felt it was a better place to get a grip on myself.
Except for the fact that Jonath happened to be stepping out of one of the bathrooms, just in time to cross paths with me under one of the mistletoe decorations that the Takahashi brothers must have forgotten to take down. We were alone this time, and so there was no reason for him to kiss me. Or for me to be polite to him.
I tried to be anyway. "I haven't seen you in a little while. Are you tired yet, or do you usually stay up this late?" I asked. "It is winter vacation, after all."
Jonath stared at me for a few seconds with narrowed eyes. Then, he looked up and gave the mistletoe an equally critical glance.
"Strange that we keep repeating this, isn't it?" I offered up cheerfully. Jonath returned to staring at me. I kept smiling. This seemed to be the final factor in his decision, for he suddenly nodded as if he finished assessing something and, completely baffling me, leaned in for another kiss.
However, this time, I wasn't going to take it. With absolutely no intent on being gentle, I thrust out my hands and pushed him back before he could get within two inches of me. Looking surprised, Jonath recoiled and rubbed his shoulders.
"Will you cut that out?" I snapped. "I'm tired of acting like I don't give a crap about how you're treating me, but this is really getting exasperating."
I expected Jonath to glare at me or walk past without reacting to my outburst, but instead he threw his hands up in the air. "Thank you. I knew you were real."
"Ha!" I scoff. "Actually I'm not real, genius, I'm a freaking Barbie doll. Blonde hair, green eyes – I'm pretty close." It was surprising how much I had held in while I was in the presence of others. Being along with this guy was all I needed to completely release all my feelings.
Jonath glared at me. "You think this is a joke, don't you? You know, I have to put up with your kind all the freaking time. Acting nice, being polite, when you really don't give a shit about the people around you. I could see that you weren't listening to my mother speak when you met her earlier. I just wanted to see how far I could push you before you cracked." That set me off.
"So I was the joke?" I demanded, hands on my hips. "At least I know how to act around people, instead of giving them the cold shoulder, or…or…acting like a hyper lunatic!"
"Don't you dare insult my sister. She's not afraid to be herself."
"As if I am! Being nice to other people is myself." Why were we arguing so loudly all of a sudden? I hoped no one could hear us in the other room.
"Then why are you being all bitchy at me now?" Jonath continued.
"Because you are annoying, rude, insensitive, and everything else horrible!" I shot back.
"You can't change how you act just because the people around you change." Jonath ran his hands through his hair in what was probably frustration. "Zabeth will act just as you saw her regardless of how people treat her. Her boyfriend will be quiet and unsociable in any situation. You, no, you have the ability to be yourself, but you won't."
I bit my lip and stayed silent, refusing to respond to that. Jonath shook his head and looked away.
"I'm not asking you to be rude to everyone. But I'm asking you to stop pretending. I've talked to your sister. I saw you when you weren't talking to other people. You hate the very behavior you show towards everyone else. There's something there, Darcy."
"Is that why you kissed me?" I retorted. "Zabeth said you don't do this kind of thing often." Jonath raised an eyebrow.
"There's something there," he repeated. He was officially driving me insane!
"I don't even know why you care so much," I continued. "What's in it for you?"
"Well, I don't usually get along with people very much. I love my sister. I can tolerate her boyfriend. I don't really have the same feeling towards everyone else. Neither do you. So I thought I could, I don't know, save you from that. It would give me another person I could stand being around."
"Well, you suck as a knight in shining armor, if that's what you're trying to be."
"Of course not. That would be too cliché, right?" That response was met with a small gasp that I completely did not intend to let out. That sounded like something I would say, strangely enough. Jonath seemed to understand my expression, because he didn't say any more, preferring to look vaguely satisfied.
I sighed, defeated. "I guess it's refreshing to be able to yell at someone with my true feelings." Jonath tucked his hands into his back pockets and cocked his head to the side, as if saying: go on. "I guess I can't blame you for being tired of all the pleasantry that we're forced to deliver to each other." I shrugged my shoulders. "I suppose I can try to be less… fake with how I handle it."
"Nice to meet the real you, Darcy, congratulations." Jonath held out his hand and I giggled. Yes, giggled. There was some unknown pressure that was lifted off of my shoulders, and it made laughing a lot easier. Even Jonath was half-smiling, though he still gave off a serious aura.
I took his hand and shook it lightly. It felt weird to be returning such a politely distant gesture after having been kissed three times, but it would be, you guessed it, too cliché if we got all cute and cuddly just because of that. However, I could tell that there was more than just a friendly interest in his amber eyes. Even I found it hard to deny that I didn't like him now at least a little bit. Honesty was a rare thing.
"So you want to head back to 'civilization' now?" I asked, letting go of his hand and backing out of the hallway. Jonath shrugged and brushed some of his hair out of his eyes.
"If we must."
"I won't pretend to enjoy it."
"Then it might be tolerable. Let's see if Zabeth has anything up her sleeve." I led the way and Jonath followed, close enough to feel but not to touch. I looked back up at him and smiled, noticing out of the corner of my view the mistletoe that we had been under moments before. I just realized that we never finished that one kiss, but as the two of us made it back to the party, I wasn't really thinking about that any more.
After all, there was plenty of time later for all of that.