Don't Miss The Target♥
Let me tell you a bit about Charlie and Dana.
They were not what you would call polar opposites, but once you get to know the two a bit, you would find they actually do not have a lot in common. When they first introduced each other to their own friends, it became a bit of a mystery among them on how the two got together because there was no common ground to start from.
Academically, Charlie had his strengths, but Dana was the better student. While he was not particularly lazy in terms of studying, he was certainly more relaxed with it compared to her who takes it very seriously.
Dana liked to get involved and is even part of the student council – though I forgot what position she held there. If there were school events, she would be there as an organizer. Charlie on the other hand was not what you would call a complete sloth, but he was the type to do just the bare minimum. If he was required to attend, he would show up. But if he was allowed to skip, he totally would.
Dana was the health conscious sort who eats a lot of fruits and vegetables. Charlie has a tendency to be picky with greens and prefers meat and sweets.
Both had some interest in sports, but neither was as invested as in the other’s favorite. Charlie liked basketball, but Dana was into volleyball, so it was not a topic that the two could talk about in depth.
With regards to movies and fiction, Charlie was into romances while Dana had no particular genre she was into. Although Charlie's favorite genre was something the two started enjoying together after they started going out.
They also did not have many mutual friends until they started dating.
There was one thing they had in common though, and that was music. That was one thing they got. Both seem to be very fond of rock and liked the same bands. Both could even play the guitar and play the same songs.
However, a person’s taste in music is easy to overlook when you’re not talking to each other. So even when the two were classmates in their first year, they did not discover they had a common interest until halfway through the school year during the culture festival when they found each other listening intently to different bands that performed for the event.
After that, they found themselves talking about their favorite bands, foreign and local. Next thing anyone knew, they were already sharing a set of earphones to listen to the same songs and had started going out. They became lovers just like that, and now almost a year later, it ended just as quickly.
“The feeling’s just not there anymore”, Charlie said when I was about to ask him about the status of his relationship with Dana. He had not mentioned any other reason, not even the fight they had the night of the trip. In fact, he said he was not even angry at Dana, so he did not know why or what they were arguing about. But once the next day came, he felt like he just did not care anymore.
Apparently, when I contacted Fran later to compare notes, Dana had said the same thing. The same reasoning, the thing about the argument, and the not caring anymore.
That pretty much gave me one hundred percent confidence the two had become apathetic to each other – the second stage of the effects of the love laser on an established couple.
The third and final stage, the breakup, happened when the couple had the talk the day before. Since they felt the same, they decided to split up. Not as much as consulting anyone nor considering it for another day or two, they broke up then and there.
But of course, like I said in the previous chapter, break ups were not the end. As long as no irreparable damage was done, getting back together was a possibility. Since both had said that their feelings for each other were “just not there anymore”, I figured the first step of bringing them back together was making the two rediscover the spark that attracted them to each other.
Music was what brought the two together, so I started off with inviting them to karaoke along with everyone. I did not know which local bands they were fans of, so I thought this was the best place to start since if it does not work, I could get a glimpse of their favorite musicians and plan from there.
Luckily, it was easy to invite the two. I asked Charlie in a private chat if he was fine still hanging out with Dana, and he answered he did not mind. I also found Dana was the same after I asked Fran to ask her. They did not seem to be loath of each other’s presence as now ex-lovers, so I thought that was a good start.
Meanwhile, there was someone in the group chat that needed a bit more pressuring to join in on the fun. I figured I could also use the opportunity to do my job as a cupid for Arty and Tabitha, especially since the beach retreat did not bring them closer as I was hoping. The deadline was not getting any further away either, so I really needed to make the most of summer break to work on the two.
I was doing the convincing in the group chat, so when Arty was the only one who was hesitating to join, everyone else started asking him to come. He eventually caved to the peer pressure.
The day came, but unexpectedly, Tabitha invited me to go early for an errand. I had nothing else to do until the meeting time which was late in the afternoon, so I figured I may as well go with her.
One more surprise came when she started asking me about Beth. Apparently, they had talked about that thing Beth declared to me during the trip.
“I heard you’re dating now”, Tabitha asked.
“No, not really.”
“Then what’s this all about her telling me she’s become your girlfriend?”
I explained to her that it was all Beth deciding things on her own and we have not become lovers. Plus, she was not taking no for an answer even though I had tried telling her more than once so it felt that I really had no say in it.
“Well, if you haven’t agreed to be her boyfriend, then I guess it’s fine”, Tabitha said once I was done with the explanations. She did not continue with the topic afterwards.
Tabitha’s errand was a quick trip to the tailor’s. Their family was going to attend a relative’s wedding in the next week so they had suits and dresses tailored for them. Her mom had asked her to pick them up since she was going out, but she had to make the stop before we met the others since the shop would be closed by the time we had our fun.
At least, that was the plan when the tailor insisted that Tabitha try out her dress.
Meanwhile, I was a bit antsy being surrounded by fancy dresses. I felt out of place.
The last surprise I got for the trip was Tabitha showing off her dress to me. She seemed reluctant though. Looking at how smug and proud this shop lady was, there was no doubt in my mind it was her idea.
I was not complaining, however. Tabitha looked really pretty in her light blue dress that I gave her a perfect ten out of ten.
“Where did you even get that?” she asked while a bit red faced, pertaining to the score card I was holding up.
It was just lying around the store’s counter, which I assume was left there for me to use during the demonstration since the numbers zero to ten were laid out neatly in order. The tailor did not seem to mind me touching them, too.
“Just a ten?” the tailor jokingly complained.
“I’d give it higher if it was a white dress”, I said going along with the tailor.
As soon as I said it, Tabitha threw a large piece of cloth at me and returned to the dressing room with her ears completely red.
Despite our little side trip going longer than we expected, Tabitha and I managed to meet up with everyone just on time. I was relieved to find the now ex-lovers Charlie and Dana had come and they were still at least talking. I was almost tempted to shoot their hearts with the love laser and see if that could undo its effects, but our meeting spot outside the train station was not the right time and place as it was too crowded. Not to mention, Beth was close by and she might grab it off me again and shoot another unsuspecting couple.
Actually, Beth was really close to me. Too close for comfort, in fact, because she took my arm and pressed her chest on it.
“Hey, wanna hold hands?" she boldly asked in front of everyone. A couple of eyebrows were raised out of surprise. Tabitha meanwhile had hers furrowed.
I declined Beth.
“Aww, too bad”, she said, pretending to pout. She has not let go of my arm yet though, so she probably had the idea that linking arms was fine. “Guess I’ll settle like this for now”
I actually was not comfortable with it either. Tabitha had me carrying her parents’ stuff that we picked up from the tailor’s on one hand, so with Beth occupying the other, I had no arm free. I tried wriggling the arm Beth had wrapped around hers, but she would not let go. Despite that, I tried conversing with the group and asked if they were good to go.
They were, but Eric pointed out that Arty had not arrived yet. I checked my messages to see if he had sent anything, and like clockwork, I received a notification for a new message in our group chat. Arty was disappointingly going to be late – again. He said he had not noticed the time and was on his way, so the rest of us decided to start without him.
When we were in our room, after ordering our food and drinks, we did the thing that friends do before everyone starts singing – we kept pointing at each other on who should sing first.
“Go on ahead.”
“No, you go on ahead.”
Everyone was saying that to each other.
In the end, everyone else decided it should be me because I was the one who invited everybody to go karaoke. I tried to weasel my way out of the first song until Beth declared that we should do a duet instead to make it easy. At that point, everyone was egging on me to just do it, which I reluctantly agreed to.
Surprisingly though, there were not many songs that Beth and I could sing together. I did not know many songs sung by a duet, so it was mostly her doing the selecting. But, she was more of an R&B girl while I was not very into the genre. All of her picks had been shot down by me not knowing how to sing them.
At some point, Eric, who had grown impatient, just picked one for us. He said “Maybe you’ll know this.”
I looked at the screen and saw the title. Eric had correctly guessed that I knew of it. It was old, but I was familiar with the song because it was my mom’s favorite, and I heard it enough times that I knew the lyrics without looking at the screen. Although, I did not realize it had a duet version. Thankfully, the karaoke indicated who sings what.
But apparently, Beth was in a worse position than me. The song started as I almost mistakenly took the opening line which was supposed to be the girl’s part, but she started singing the first verse as monotone as a robot unemotionally reading a line of text.
“I don’t know this one!” she exclaimed over the microphone.
As soon as she said it, Tabitha, who was sitting beside us, took Beth’s microphone and started singing. It was not surprising for me that she knew of the song since she likely had heard my mom either playing or singing it more than a few times.
Once Tabitha and I had finished the song, I suggested that everyone should sing in pairs, too, otherwise it would not have been fair for us. Unfortunately for me, everybody had already taken a pick while we were singing, so that suggestion would have to wait until the next round of songs.
Dana was the first solo singer. She picked some popular melodic rock song which was done by a band with a female vocalist. She was also singing her song quite well. I thought she could do a good job fronting if she had her own band.
Fran was next and she picked some famous ballad. Surprisingly, her singing voice was a beautiful low soprano. Her normal speaking voice had not hinted she had that kind of range as she normally speaks at a higher pitch.
Eric followed, and while he picked an upbeat pop song, he was singing it as monotonously as Beth did earlier. Except Eric did it the whole song despite being familiar with it. None of us knew how to react, but at least his girlfriend was supportive. It did give the song a whole new different feel, however.
Beth went next and had her revenge with a song she was comfortable with. She was a decent singer as well.
Charlie was the last of the solo acts before everyone else had to do duets, and he picked a classic hard rock song that our parents would probably have heard of in their youths, but most of us could only go as far as “that sounds familiar”. As for his singing, let us just say was much better as a guitar player.
“You weren’t any better though”, Eric said to me.
“Yeah, Tabitha carried you”, Charlie followed.
They probably spotted me looking smug after hearing the two of them sing, which prompted the criticism.
I did not disagree though. I was willing to admit that I am not a good singer.
As I requested, the duets came after. First up was Eric and Fran who sang a slow pop song. The two, considering their individual abilities, made a weird blend of sounds that made the song seem bad but interesting at the same time.
For some reason, Tabitha and Beth came next. Beth stated that she would not have a turn doing a duet if she did not do it with Tabitha, so they sang an old favorite of theirs from a then famous girl band.
Charlie and Dana followed. All eyes on them because their fight from the trip was still fresh on everyone’s minds. Not to mention all of us had already heard the news of their breakup, but the two seemed okay enough to sing together. They sang an old famous rock duet where Dana had the high pitch parts and Charlie the low ones.
The fun continued on, and as we sang more, the more us boys were teased about our singing abilities by the girls. The teasing was at its height when the girls told us three guys to sing a song from an old famous boy band because two of us were completely monotone. One was simply tone-deaf, while the other was just not familiar with the song.
Afterwards, the four girls, as if to school us, did a song from a popular K-pop group. Not only were they singing their lines properly, they were in sync with their dance steps however simple. None of us understood the lyrics, but us three boys were certainly schooled on the art of performing.
That was the last group performance as we started mostly singing solo. Some of us paired up at times like Eric and Fran to everyone’s cheers and jeers at the new couple. Charlie and Dana seem to have found a bit of spark again as they started talking to each other about bands, which also caused them to search for more duet rock songs. The two even sang them together.
At this point in time, we had already forgotten about Arty. It was not until I felt my phone vibrating and saw it was him calling that I remembered he existed. I went out of the room to take the call and was surprised he was not calling in to say sorry or make an excuse for standing us up. In fact, he called me to ask which room we were in.
I was surprised because we already had asked for an hour extension and there was less than thirty minutes left of that. It was well past the time we had planned to spend at the karaoke, so most people would think we had already left at that point, but not our boy Arty. He went straight to the shop without asking us first if we were still there.
All the same, I met him at the store’s lobby and took him to where everybody else was. As punishment for being so late, we told him that he had to sing the rest of the time we had left for the room.
To our amazement, Arty was actually a decent singer unlike the rest of us boys. We thankfully did not have to suffer listening to twenty minutes of bad singing. He mostly sang slow rock and acoustic songs, which the others sang along to, too, so it was still quite an enjoyable punishment with regards to Arty.
Of course, not forgetting my role as a cupid, I tried getting Tabitha to sing with him especially on the songs that I knew she was fond of, but she was refusing, claiming she had enough despite still singing along. Not much I could do about an unwilling participant.
Our time came up. The rest of us had enough of singing and decided to call it a day, but we joked that Arty could extend the time by himself if he wanted to because he came so late.
When we were on our way out, I tried walking slowly behind everyone to try and sneak a shot of the laser pointer on Charlie and Dana since the two seem to be getting along fine again. But, Beth was keeping pace with me, so it was kind of hard to aim. Especially when she has been leaning onto my side while trying to make conversation with me.
“What was that song you were singing?”
“Which was your favorite out of all the songs you did?”
“What did you say your favorite band was again?”
She fired questions in rapid succession that I was unable to get most of them.
“Slow down”, I said. “I’ll answer any questions you have, so slow down.”
Unfortunately for her, the walk back to the lobby was a short trip, so our small private question and answer segment was cut short. That did not let it bother her though. She would later pick it back up again through Lime.
The following day, I was curious if there were any changes between Charlie and Dana so I went to their workplace. I immediately met Dana as she was the one who greeted me as I entered the restaurant.
“It’s rare to see you here twice in one week” she commented. She had spotted me with Fran and Charlie a few days ago even though I had not interacted with her at that time.
“Just here to chill”, I said. “My mom’s suddenly gotten tight with our air-con usage.”
I was not sure if I could still use the broken air-conditioner line anymore without being weird even if I had not used it on either her or Charlie yet, so that was my new excuse. It seemed reusable, too.
“Since you’re here anyway, do you want to hang out after my shift is over?” she asked.
“Sure, why not?” I replied. It was a bit surprising to me that she asked me that. Despite having known each other for a while, that was probably the first time she had asked me to hang out. But since I was going to ask her a few questions anyway, I figured I could do it then without bothering her at her work. “Just you? Charlie’s not around?”
“Yeah, he doesn’t have a shift today.”
“It’s a date then”, I joked.
I did not wait long for Dana since her shift was just about over when I popped around. That was no coincidence though, since I asked Fran what time her shift was for the day and timed it exactly that way. Of course, I was not telling her that because I was aware it made me look like a stalker.
“Let’s go somewhere else”, she said.
“Where to? Hopefully someplace cheap”, I replied. I did not mind going somewhere, but since I had already cut through a good chunk of my allowance that I asked for in advance, I was a bit mindful of my money situation. “I don’t have much spending money on me.”
“No worries”, she assured me. “We won’t need to spend a cent.”
So I followed her.
After the next block, she led me into an alleyway and told me it was a shortcut. But, it was a dead end.
“Looks like we made a wrong turn”, I commented.
“No”, Dana denied. “I got you exactly where I want you.”
I looked at her, confused. I did not get what she meant by what she said. But, I saw she had her arms crossed and her face looked angry for some reason. It felt like she wanted to kick my ass in this dark alley.
“Don’t worry”, she said, sounding irritated. “I’m not going to beat you up.”
She probably said that because I was in some sort of defensive fighting pose. I loosened my stance – if you could even call it that as I was a complete amateur in terms of fights.
“At least, not yet.”
I put my defenses up again.
I actually was not sure if Dana did some martial arts. But, if she was confident enough to corner a guy who was maybe half a foot taller than her, then she likely had some fighting prowess in her. Regardless, I did not want a fight so I tried with reason.
“Why would you want to beat me up anyway?”
“Let me be upfront, are you two-timing with two of my best friends?” she asked.
“What? What are you talking about?”
“Don’t play dumb!” she shouted. “Just yesterday, you had a date with Tabitha before meeting us for karaoke, but then during the karaoke Beth had been clingy with you. Too clingy in fact!”
“Wait, how could you tell Tabitha and I went somewhere together before meeting up with everyone?”
“Anyone would think that when you two arrived at the same time yesterday and were carrying bags from the same shop.”
Makes sense, I thought. She did ask me to carry the bags containing her parents’ stuff and I held onto them until I saw her home.
“Oh, and that wasn’t a date, I just went with her on an errand”, I finally tried correcting Dana.
“A simple errand run counts as a date, too!” she declared, unwavering.
I did not feel like arguing with semantics, so I just continued my defense. “Beth was just being her usual self, too.”
“That wasn’t being her usual self”, she stated. She sounded very sure of it. She continued “I’ve been with her since middle school and she never acts that way unless it was with a boyfriend”.
“Well, I’m not Beth’s boyfriend.”
“You can go ask her if you want.”
“I don’t need to!”
“Even if I was, I’m not even two-timing her because Tabitha and I are not lovers either.”
“I know for a fact that you two are just trying to keep it as a secret that’s why you keep telling your friends you’re not lovers.”
I never realized Dana could be so hardheaded.
My actual relationship with Tabitha aside – since there really was nothing to explain, I tried telling Dana what Beth was up to starting from the second day of the trip.
“Liar!” she stated again. “There’s no way she’d put herself in a situation like that.”
“You can go ask her if it’s true or not though?”
“I don’t need to!”
A bit fed up with the back and forth, I decided to call Beth myself. It took a handful of rings for her to answer.
“Oh hey”, Beth greeted. She sounded flustered. “Sorry, this is the first phone call we have together, and it’s you who called, so I’m a bit nervous.”
That made me wonder for a bit if we really did not have a phone conversation in the past, and I was not coming up with one memory that we did. That was a strange realization though, and I could not say I shared the same enthusiasm Beth did.
“So what’s up?” Beth asked as she finally composed herself. With her usual playful tone, she continued “Have you finally decided to be my boyfriend?”.
“No, that’s not why I’m calling”, I replied to her. “This is gonna sound silly, but I need your help with Dana.”
I explained to Beth the current situation I was in, so I asked her to explain some things to Dana. She sounded baffled, but she agreed so I handed my phone to Dana.
“It’s Beth”, I told her.
She was hesitant to take the phone, so I just decided to put it on loudspeaker. We were alone in an alley anyway so no one would probably hear the conversation.
“Beth?” I called to Beth over the phone.
“Yeah? Where’s Dana?” Beth asked.
As soon as she heard Beth’s voice over the loudspeaker, Dana took my phone and conversed privately with her while still keeping an eye on me. It was not like I could run away anyway since she had my phone.
I was not able to hear their entire conversation, of course, but each time after Dana’s turn to speak, her expression had gotten less and less angry, and started getting more and more confused. By the end of the phone call, Dana looked a bit shell-shocked.
“I guess I owe you an apology”, she said to me as she handed me back my phone.
“Well, in the end you didn’t beat me up so I’m not really bothered”, I said.
“No, really”, she pleaded. “I’m sorry I thought you were a sleazebag who deserves to be beaten.”
She really was thinking of beating me up...
“Like I said, it’s okay now.”
“If there’s anything I can do to make it up to you”, she said.
That gave me an idea though. I told her “If you can make up with Charlie then we can call it even”.
Wide-eyed, she was surprised by my request. She hesitated for a bit, fidgeting, before sort of accepting my request. She said “If he wants to get back together, then I guess I can take him back.”
With that, I was halfway through trying to get the two back together.
Of course, I asked Dana if she genuinely wanted to get back together with Charlie. It would be pointless if she was only going to do it because I asked her to as an apology to me. She informed me that, after the karaoke, she remembered what made her interested in him, but she felt awkward getting back together after just having broken up. Even more when she was not sure if Charlie was still uninterested or not.
I told her I will check up on Charlie, which I would have done regardless. But, I did not know his work schedule so now having Dana's cooperation was a boon.
Not to sound like a creepy stalker again, but I now know what his work schedule looked like for the rest of the week. At the earliest possible opportunity, I ambushed him again by the employee entrance behind the restaurant.
"What are you doing here?" he asked me.
"Just looking to get away from the heat", I answered. "My mom has been restricting the air-con in our house."
I was not sure if that was convincing though. He had the morning shift and it ended right after the lunch rush. I delivered my line while under the blazing hot sun, so it did not really look like I was trying to get away from the summer heat.
He seems to have accepted it, however. Or at the least, he did not question it.
So like the last time, I invited him to the arcade. But instead of starting out with some shooting game, I invited him for a racing game. It proved to be a bad idea though because the game had speakers around the headrest so we could barely hear each other to make conversation.
Afterwards, he challenged me to a basketball shootout. Now that we could hear each other properly, I half expected Charlie to make a declaration like the last time when he told me that he and Dana had broken up. Unfortunately, nothing came. We did start talking though, but it was just idle chatter.
Eventually, I tried bringing up the subject of Dana. I was not going anywhere if I didn’t. Figuratively speaking, that is.
“You two okay now?” I asked.
Charlie fell silent for a moment before replying “I don’t know”.
“But you two seemed to have fun singing together the other day.”
“Yeah, but...” He paused again. “I don’t know.”
It was kind of hard to continue with the topic after that, so I could not ask him anything else.
“Speaking of which, I was supposed to go with Dana to a concert this weekend”, Charlie said, switching topics. “It’s actually just for the local live house so nothing big, but it would be a waste to not use them. Interested?”
He then told me who was playing and it was a cover band of a classic metal band, but...
“I’m not much into metal”, I replied. But it gave me the idea that I should talk Charlie into going with Dana regardless of the status of their relationship. “Why not just go with Dana?”
“I don’t know, we planned that when we were still going out. It would be awkward if we go together.”
“Is she a fan of the band, or at least the original band being covered?”
I was tempted to ask which part of the question he was affirming to, but I held back. The specifics were not that important.
“Then maybe she’s still looking forward to it? I’m not saying you should go together, but at least ask her if she’s still interested in the concert.”
“...You’re right”, Charlie conceded.
The weekend came and the next thing I knew they were back together.
God damn, they really work fast.