Don't Miss The Target♥
Let us review a bit on how a cupid's weapon works. By that, I mean this device which I like to call the love laser pointer, which is the modern replacement of cupid’s bow and arrow.
The common perception is that, if a cupid shoots at two people's hearts, then that pair will fall in love with each other. That much is true, but it is only part of the truth. One thing that is not commonly known about cupids is that they do not and cannot bend free will. A cupid does not have the capability to make two people who are not attracted to each other fall in love. So in actuality, the people that have been targeted would need to have some level of affection towards each other for a shot to their hearts to make them madly in love. By how much, I do not know.
Although, I have already tested the laser pointer on a few pairs of strangers, so I could confirm it does not make two people who have no feelings towards each other fall in love. I have also tested it once on Arty and Tabitha when they were still acquaintances at best, so I could say the relationship level needs to be more than that.
The explanation for this is because a shot to the heart only gives a boost to the amount of love currently existing in a person’s heart. It does not contain an instruction telling the heart to fall in love with another person, but instead, it amplifies what affection is already there. So if there is little or no love interest, barely anything or nothing at all can be amplified.
But because of that, a cupid’s shot can also still affect two people who are already in love. If a pair of lovers were to be shot at their hearts, as the effect is multiplying the existing emotions, it would cause their love to burst like a dam and leave their affection levels lower than before, leading to apathy and breakup.
I have seen it happen with Charlie and Dana - by accident, so I could confirm this as a fact also.
However, that was the extent of what I know of a cupid’s power. There were still a few unknowns
For starters, I still did not know at what level a relationship has to be at for a shot to the heart to turn them into lovers. I did not know if a shot at two friends could make them want to take their relationship further, or if it has to be something more but less than lovers.
Secondly, I did not know if there were any effects if the targets did not feel the exact same towards each other. If one was in love, but the other just sees their relationship as a friends, I did not know if shooting them would still have the intended effect.
Lastly, and I was starting to wish I had asked this to Aphrodite, I did not know what would happen if more than two people were shot in quick succession. One condition for the magic to activate was that the targets needed to be fired upon within a short time span. I was not sure what the effects would be if that had happened to three friends.
Well, I will be learning the answer soon enough as I have found myself in that situation. I had fired the laser at Arty and Tabitha to fulfill my role as cupid, but then Beth had grabbed my laser pointer off me and shot me to the chest, too.
First thing I did, however, was recover the device so Beth does not do any more harm, especially since there were other people around. Next was that I checked if I was wanting to ask either Arty or Tabitha out or something, which I did not feel like doing. Well, Tabitha was one thing, but I was gravely concerned of suddenly becoming in love with Arty.
“Are you okay?” Beth asked me, looking concerned. “You look pale.”
“Yeah”, I replied as I composed myself. “You just surprised me a bit.”
If there was one thing I had learned, it was that the effects of shooting people can work quickly. As I returned to my seat, I tried observing Arty and Tabitha if there were any changes between them, but there seemed to be none. They were talking in hushed voices, so that could be something. I felt like eavesdropping into their conversation, but decided against it. I would be caught very quickly. I would later find out what they were talking about on the way home though.
Apparently, my shots had taken effect.
Arty tried inviting Tabitha to the cake shop with the not-too-sweet cheesecake that he had mentioned some weeks ago, but for some reason, she had declined. The rejection did not stop him from asking to take her home for the day instead, which she was fine with. But, that also meant that it was the three of us making the trip since I was neighbors with Tabitha and my way home was the same. It was during the commute that Arty had told me all this.
He had also asked me to head straight inside of my home. If I did not know any better, I would probably not have realized he had wanted me out of the way as soon as possible. I could guess he was planning to confess to Tabitha and wanted some privacy.
I was starting to get a good feeling that my mission was about to be over. But, just as the three of us alighted from the train for our stop, I received a message on my phone.
It was a text from Tabitha. Its contents not just confused me, but it immediately gave me the feeling that my job was far from over.
"Don't leave me alone with him", it read.
That kind of answered why Arty's proposal for a date at a cake shop was declined, but it also raised a lot of questions. Several of which started running through my head.
What's going on with the two?
Haven't they been friendly for the past couple weeks?
What happened when I excused myself to the men's room?
What did they talk about at the cafe?
Or have they become lovers without my knowledge and I had just caused them to fight by firing the laser at them?
I started feeling stupid, but that did not last for long. My train of thought was derailed when I felt a tug on the side of my shirt. It was Tabitha. She was grabbing on to me with her fingers as we entered our street, probably to remind me of her request which she sent to me through text.
But with that, I had a dilemma. Do I do what my friend asked and head straight inside my house, which would potentially benefit me as what he was planning to do could finally complete my mission, or do I do what my childhood friend asked and stay with her until she was safely inside her own home?
Well, I thought hard about it, but the decision was apparently not mine to make. When we were about to approach my house, Tabitha changed her grip and grabbed hold a fistful of my shirt. This time, it was probably to ensure that I followed her request.
"You're going to tear my shirt", I complained, but that fell on deaf ears. Tabitha just ignored me and kept walking.
Arty did not seem too happy that I stayed with them, but he made no comments.
When we arrived in front of Tabitha’s house, as if she wanted Arty to make himself scarce, she said to him with a warm smile on her face “Thanks for walking us home”.
“Wait, but I have something I want to tell you”, he said. He then glared at me before continuing “Alone if possible.”
“Sorry, but he stays”, she declared still with the same expression as she tugged on my shirt.
He looked taken aback as he likely did not expect Tabitha to be the one requiring my presence.
“But, I think it is something said best alone”, he pleaded.
“I’m sure it is”, Tabitha responded, being stubborn but still smiling. “However, this guy stays.”
“But, it doesn’t have anything to do with him.”
“I want him here, so it has something to do with him.”
A few more “buts” were said, but Tabitha refused each time. Arty then looked like he was debating with himself internally whether to keep asking for me to go away or just let out what he wanted to say even if I was there.
But before he could make a decision, Tabitha, still wearing the same expression she has worn throughout, piped up to say “I’m sorry, but to be honest, I’m scared of being alone with you.”
Silence fell between the three of us. It took a moment for Arty to process what was said to him, but in the end he just nodded, maybe a handful of times, and said goodbye to the two of us. He looked shell-shocked as he made his way back to the station.
As for me, Tabitha was still holding on to my shirt as the two of us saw Arty’s back disappear into the street. She was still holding on to me when she entered her house, so she had dragged me in with her. She closed the front door and slowly collapsed to the floor to take a seat in a fetal position, all while still not letting go of me.
I had to sit down beside her so my shirt did not get stretched too much.
“I’m curious”, I said to start a conversation to try and ease the tension that the silence brought in the air. “Why are you scared of Arty?”
It took a few moments for her to reply. Somewhat expressionless now, she answered “The trip”.
I did not recall Arty doing something that could make a girl afraid of him during our beach retreat. In fact, he had barely interacted with any of the girls we were with, so I was struggling to imagine what made Tabitha afraid, so I pressed for more information. I asked “What did he do?”
“He didn’t do anything”, she said, which just confused me more. “But, when the two of us went shopping…”
I recalled Arty had caused Tabitha to get mad at him for taking her to a different market with no real benefit. But apparently, there was more to it.
From my point of view, when they said they made a detour, all I thought was they just took a wrong turn and had a disagreement causing one of them to be upset towards the other.
But from Tabitha’s point of view, she was alone with a guy she barely knew in an unknown place, in an unfamiliar town. He barely talked to her, so she did not know what he was thinking or what his intentions were, which consequently meant her level of trust with him was low. Furthermore, he was stubbornly taking her somewhere she did not know about. She could have just fled, but since she wanted to at least get along with him as he was a friend of a friend, she tried trusting him. But then he would not give her specifics on their destination, and she started imagining the worst case scenario. The worst may not have happened, but the fear and distrust has already been planted.
I remember that time when she asked me to not get up from my seat when I tried to leave the two alone that same afternoon. I wondered what the reason was for then, so I guess I got the answer now.
“But you two have been getting along recently though?” I asked. I had seen the two share some friendly moments together, so that still had me wondering.
“I’ve been trying to”, she replied. “He’s your friend after all, so I thought I should at least try to get along with him.”
But if he was not a friend of mine, she would have completely ignored him after what happened. She did not say that, but that was what was implied.
“But, I still can’t be alone with him”, she added.
“Weren’t you able to chat with him alone at school?”
“That’s at school”, she replied. “There were people I knew all around, and I could retreat back to the classroom if needed.”
"But didn’t you say he was ‘cute’?” That was another thing I had been wondering about after everything that has been said.
“When did I say that?”
“You know when I introduced you two around spring?”
“How did you get that idea from that conversation?” she asked in disbelief. “I only told you he looked cuter than you.”
“Is that right?”
Trying to recall our conversation back then, it did seem like what she said was something like that. Upon realizing it, I felt dumb that I had been approaching everything wrong from overreading a simple comment. I had only been guessing, and I was guessing wrong.
I could only laugh internally.
“But forget about Arty”, Tabitha said to change topics. “I’m tired of this.”
“Tired of what?” I asked. I was not sure what she was referring to.
I felt a slight tug on my shirt which prompted me to look at my side where Tabitha was. She was already looking straight at me so we made eye contact.
“I’ve been changing, you know?” she said with conviction. “I’m not the same person I was three years ago.”
“I know, I noticed it at the beach” I jokingly said.
“I’m being serious here!” she exclaimed red-faced. She seemed to have gotten what I meant with my joke. After calming down a bit, she continued “I’ve been trying to change ever since that day.”
No joking this time, I answered “I know, I noticed”.
“Then, if you’ve noticed, how long are we going to be like this?”
I stayed silent and gave no reply.
Breaking eye contact and facing forward, she continued “I know I still have a tendency to lose my temper on you, but I don't think I've been as bad as I was before”.
"That's true, you haven't", I agreed with her.
"You're probably still not satisfied with this version of me yet, but I can't stand it anymore", she said as she tightened her grip on my shirt. She still has kept hold of it all this time. "It's frustrating when our friends ask me if we're dating and I say 'no' when I want to say the opposite."
Sounding a bit angry, she continued "I hate it that you're trying to encourage Arty to make a move on me".
So she has noticed…
With a pained voice, she continued "Even worse, you've been getting too close to Beth recently. I thought I could get closer to you during the trip, but instead you've become more close with her. Even if you say you're not in love with her, and that she's just approaching you all on her own, it still hurts seeing you two together".
"Sorry." I felt that I had to apologize for it.
"Don't apologize", she said as she made eye contact with me again. Then calmly she asked "Just tell me, can't we be like 'that'?"
She did not specify what she meant, but I was aware of what "that" means. It was the same question we had asked each other three years ago, so I knew very well what she was asking.
But, all I could answer was "I can't right now".
"Why?" she asked impatiently. "If there's anything you're unsatisfied with, just tell me I'll-"
"You're fine as you are right now", I interrupted her. I honestly meant that. "You don't have to change anything anymore."
“Then are you still holding a grudge on me?”
“It’s been three years, I’ve already forgotten about it.”
"Then why?" she asked again.
I debated whether to tell her the truth that I have to pair her up with Arty or make another excuse. There were no explicit instructions that I should not reveal myself as a cupid or my mission, but it was not a very believable excuse despite it being the truth. Even I would not believe it if I had not been made aware of the existence of cupids. Making a believable lie was hard, too, however. It may also end up making the situation worse, so I decided honesty is the best policy.
I explained to her my situation. I told her about my encounter with Aphrodite, how the job of standing in for Cupid was shoved onto me, and that I was told to pair her and Arty up.
She finally let go of my shirt. Then she stood up and angrily told me "If you're just going to lie, get out!".
She was not looking at me when she told me to leave, which meant she did not want to hear any of my excuses further so I did as she said and went out her front door.
I expected the reaction, but that did not mean I knew what to do to salvage the situation, so I just went home.
Before I continue, let us just flash back a bit to three years ago, to the time and the event which Tabitha and I kept referring to.
I admit I have not been entirely honest about my relationship with Tabitha, but I never lied. I just haven’t told the entire truth. We were not lovers, just good friends, I always say when people ask. She did the same. But, that did not mean we had not become more than friends once in the past.
Three years ago, we were in middle school. We had been good friends for a long time, that much is true, and by that time the other kids around us were already teasing and assuming we were a couple. Or rather, still. That had been going on since our last years in grade school.
Of course, as we were already teenagers, the difference was we had become aware of the opposite sex. It was natural that we would start thinking about romance and stuff like that. As she was the closest girl friend I had, I thought she was the one for me. I could not begin to tell you how happy I was when I found out she felt the same.
The teasing was at its height during middle school because middle schoolers are the worst when it comes to it. Since the topic had been raised so much, it was inevitable that we got to humorously talk about the what-ifs. We joked that, if we did become a couple, all the teasing would finally stop.
Eventually, our discussions turned to us veiling our actual thoughts behind humor. If we did become a couple, it would not be weird if we were seen together often. It would not be weird if we were seen out in town by ourselves. It would not be weird if we shared a drink using the same bottle, or even our lunches.
“Can’t we be like 'that'?” the two of us asked each other. The answer we found was “Yes”.
At least, while the relationship lasted.
Actually, not really much had changed when we were dating. We started going out more often and we would hold hands when nobody was looking, but for the most part, our attitudes towards each other were the same. However, that was where the problem laid.
Tabitha at the time had gotten used to holding something of mine hostage whenever I was reluctant to do something, studying especially. That sometimes extended to simple disagreements like plans for the weekend. If she really wanted to go someplace but I told her that I felt like staying in, she would threaten to delete a save in one of my games. Blinded by love, as cheesy as it sounds, I did not mind the threats. Even less since in my mind I was only playing, I was just fishing for a reaction, and I would go with her anyway.
But one day, she followed through with her threats.
We had agreed to spend a Saturday shopping. Her dad’s birthday was coming up, so she wanted to buy a gift. She also stressed that it was important that I go.
I joked that she could just give him a rare item from the MMORPG he was playing or just some in-game credits. I knew what game he was into at the time because I was playing it, too. I even used to ask him for game advice from time to time.
I was joking, but somehow Tabitha took it that I did not want to come, so she told me she would sell all the gear I had in said game if I bailed on her. As usual, I paid it no mind because I intended to go with her anyway, threat or no threat.
The day came, but then my family had an emergency. As comical as it sounds, my dad slipped in the bathroom by stepping on a bar of soap that he had dropped. I was not sure how he managed to do that, but he landed hard on his bottom and the impact had hurt his lower back. It was just the two of us in the house at the time as my mom was out meeting with a friend, so there was only me to take him to the hospital.
I tried calling Tabitha to tell her about the situation and that I could not make our shopping date, but she was not answering. I could have messaged her instead, but the cab that my dad called had come sooner than I expected and my priority was helping him to the car, so I was not able to. Worse, amid the rush of the situation, I mindlessly forgot that I had placed my phone on top of the table in the living room. I only realized it in the middle of the ride to the hospital. My dad had his cellphone, but I did not have Tabitha’s number memorized, so I had lost my means of communicating with her.
This all happened half an hour before I was supposed to pick Tabitha up from her home. Half an hour after I was supposed to go to her house, she stormed into my home to look for me. When she did not find me there, she went up to my room, booted up my personal computer and made good with her threat.
The worst part was that the disaster could have been avoided. By then, my mom was home picking some stuff up to bring to the hospital. She had let Tabitha in. Tabitha excused herself by saying she was going to pick something up that she forgot in my room. They could have talked about what was going on, but Tabitha said she was in a hurry to chat. Yet, all she had to do was ask where I was from my mom, and she would have realized that I had not shown up because I did not want to.
Once she found out about the circumstances, she had been nothing but apologetic towards me. But, the damage had been done. I just told her to forget everything, including about being a couple. We were only around four weeks into the relationship.
Now, it might sound silly breaking up over a game, but that was important for me. It was a hobby that I invested time and effort into. Imagine having woodworking as your hobby. You build something, but then suddenly someone destroys it for no real reason. Imagine painting something, then someone just suddenly lights it on fire. Imagine knitting a piece of clothing, then someone throws it to some rabid dogs that rip it apart. The game bore no physical result, but the feeling of loss after all the effort put in it was the same.
Even still, the fact that she had not given me the chance to properly explain myself before figuratively swinging an axe down my neck was something I could not forgive. I was angry enough at her that I wanted to ignore her for the rest of our lives.
But, I have known her long enough that it felt unnatural to not even talk to her. Eventually, my grudge had turned into something like when a family member did you wrong, but you’re stuck with them so you just try to forget about it to get along. It took around a week, but our relationship had returned to normal just with a simple “hello” from me.
However, by “normal”, I do not mean that we got back together as a couple. I only started treating her the same way as I did before the incident, except no dates and no holding hands.
She was also not bringing the topic up, likely out of awkwardness, guilt or both, but she was playing along by acting the same way she did before everything. Except, she was also not asking for dates or to hold hands.
Without talking about it, we had maintained the same relationship that we have always had afterwards that none of those who were close to us suspected that something had happened and ended between the two of us. They did not ask, so we never told them.
Eventually, however, once Tabitha judged that I had calmed down enough, she took me aside for a talk about our relationship. It was not about getting back together though. It was mostly her apologizing and promising to change.
“Once I become a person who does not hurt you mentally or emotionally, can we be like 'that' again?” she had asked me during the talk.
I remember only giving a lukewarm response. My answer to her was only “Maybe”.
I recall that I just wanted the conversation to be over quick, which is why I responded that way. That was the answer with the least amount of potential arguments without agreeing.
But apparently, she had interpreted it that there was still a chance of getting back together. So for three years, she had worked on her promise. She had stopped with the threats. This promise of hers was actually the reason why she had stopped making surprise visits to me for a study session during exam periods because she did not know how to make me study without making threats. But after three years, you could see that she had repented and changed her ways.
At the end of the talk, she had asked if we could still continue as friends, and that, I was fine with. We were acting the same way from before we became a couple already anyway, so I thought there was no harm. But I guess in hindsight, she asked it because she felt that I was only being friendly as a front, which was what I was actually doing initially.
In time, I forgot about my grudge and genuinely treated her as a friend again. Somewhere along the line, since we still had the same kind of friendship, I started rediscovering the things that I liked about her. Especially during the past few months when I had the opportunity to interact more with her as I tried to root for Arty. I was also starting to think and hope that maybe we could start over. But of course, I still had my mission so I tried to keep it in.
Furthermore, three years for teenagers was still a long time. Heck, even a year was a long time. A lot could happen within the time period, and as we have not had another talk about it ever since, I did not know where we stood. I did not know if the promise was still standing, and it had become awkward to ask. It was only until the conversation I had with Tabitha earlier that I realized she was still holding on to it.
Now, you’re probably wondering, if I had feelings for Tabitha, why am I not doing anything about it despite criticizing Arty?
Yes, I realize I’m a hypocrite.
You’re also probably wondering what I plan to do with my mission from Aphrodite.
Well, initially, I was planning to accept it. After all, what can a mere mortal like me do against a god?
Also, who wants to lose a body part? I was earnestly working to avoid that from happening.
Now, I do not know if this is because I was hit by the laser, but after that last talk with Tabitha, it made me reflect on the things that I want to do and the things that I want to happen. Most importantly, it made me unbox the emotions that I kept inside due to my circumstances so I could finally face them.
Then after much thought, I felt like defying these circumstances. I decided to defy a god. I was thinking “Screw the mission”. I wanted to respond to what Tabitha and I had talked about as we sat in the entrance of her house. I also wanted to act on my own feelings.
The following weekend, I decided to make things right. But, Tabitha did not want to see or talk to me. Evidently, she was still angry. I tried calling, but I got blocked. I tried going to her house, but she had told her parents to not let me in. I tried climbing outside up to her room, but the police got called on me.
“A lover’s quarrel?” Tabitha’s mom teased me after explaining to the cops that I was harmless. She was similar to my mom in that she wanted her daughter and I to just hook up already. I still got scolded though, by her, by the responding policemen, and then later by my own mom.
It was not until Monday when school resumed that I was able to see Tabitha, but she was outright avoiding me. It felt like now or never. It felt like that if I left it alone, we would end up not talking about it again for a long time. So, I decided to be stubborn. At lunch and during the recesses, I tried talking to her, but she would ignore me. Rumors started to spread that we were having a lover’s quarrel since our interactions were there for everyone to see, which would later turn into my favor.
Once the final bell rang, I immediately rushed to Tabitha's classroom so I could talk to her, maybe on the way home if she chose to ignore me still. She had anticipated my move though, and invited some of her classmates to make an after-school stop. However, she had also underestimated how supportive some of these people were to our non-existent relationship.
She had Dana with her, who had the firm belief that Tabitha and I were just telling everyone we were not lovers because we wanted to keep our relationship a secret. I had not cleared that up with her yet, mostly because she would not believe otherwise.
The rumors had very likely reached her ears by now. As soon as I appeared saying I wanted to talk to Tabitha, she immediately declared that she forgot that she had some student council work left to do, and that she needed help. She then dragged Fran, who looked like she could not process what was happening, and Beth, who had a concerned look on her face, plus the other girls they were with, who were just giggling to themselves, away from us.
“Come to the student council room once you’re done with your talk”, she said to Tabitha. Then she gave me a wink, probably for good luck.
I had not asked Dana for her help, so it was a surprise even to me that she did that. The act was completely of her own volition.
Tabitha was also surprised about the betrayal, but she kept her standoffish attitude towards me. She asked me, "What do you want?"
"I want to talk", I replied.
"There's nothing to talk about", she responded.
"There's plenty to talk about."
"Like what?" she asked derisively. "Your fairy tales?"
I did not want to get drawn into an argument whether or not Aphrodite and cupids exist, which was what she was fishing for, so I did not respond to it.
"Look, can we talk privately?" I asked instead. We were standing just outside her classroom’s doorway, and more people were starting to gawk at us. People from other classes who knew us and had heard the rumors stopped and looked probably because they were expecting some romantic reconciliation, and others were just curious onlookers because we were making a scene.
"No", she firmly said, crossing her arms. "If you have something to say, you can say it here."
She probably thought having a conversation, or rather an argument in public would deter me. Unfortunately for her, that would only work with Arty. I actually did not care that there were people who could hear me, so I just said it out loud.
"I'm sorry about what I said the other day", I apologized first because I thought that was what I should start with. I paused for a moment to breathe deeply. In that small window, I could feel some tense anticipation in the air as the crowd that had gathered held their collective breaths waiting for what I was about to say next. I then continued "I want us to be 'that', too. Can we still be ‘that’?"
I could hear confused murmurs from the crowd. "What does he mean with 'that'?" was commonly asked among the spectators.
None of them understood what I meant. They were probably expecting something dramatic and easy to understand, which is why a lot of them had stopped to look, but unfortunately for them, they did not matter. I was not there to entertain.
All that mattered to me was for that one person to get my message, and she was standing right in front of me looking surprised with her mouth agape and her face completely red.