Chapter 13:

Ep 10 - Growing Feelings of the Pair.

The Girl He Used To Know - Original HoneyFeed Version

Pierre's study was a somewhat lavish affair, wood panelled walls lined with packed bookshelves, his leather-bound armchair (only recently having been repaired), his large mahogany desk, a small sizzling fireplace against one wall - That filled the room with a homely roasting smell - A small area for making tea, and of course an ornate hanging wall clock.

Said clock filled the packed room with a subtle series of ticks & tocks. On its face the time read twenty past eleven. The room was the very same place Maka had first appeared out of thin air - Almost exactly two weeks ago to the hour.

Now she sat in her usual spot upon a plush four legged stool with its back to one of the bookshelves - Rocking gently to and fro as she interrupted Pierre's efforts to fill out his journal for the day;
"Oh come on man, just one little clue can't hurt can it?" She cooed.

"Maka if I've said it once today, then I've said it a hundred times, you shall simply have to wait and see."

Maka pouted playfully, "Since when did you become such a tease? Just one little hint, yes?"
Pierre sighed, Maka had spent the entire day asking for clues and hints on what exactly he had planned for tomorrow - For Valentine's day.

"Look if I tell you something it can only lead to dissatisfaction.
'Overhype' that's what the PR-people call it these days, when a product promises too much and ends up being a disappointment."

Maka looked slightly lost so Pierre continued his explanation;
"Alrigth think of it like this - Imagine you and your adventuring-party got word of an evil army of 400 heavily armoured orcs under the command of a corrupted Magi--"

Now he had her attention, Maka had sat up eagerly as though already formulating a plan to fight this imaginary army.

"-- And you spend a week getting there, coming up with your battle plan and so on.
However when you arrive it turns out the message was wrong, or miss-translated, whatever - Instead of 400, it is only 40 and they are goblins in leather-armour rather than orcs - All under the command of some children's party wizard, rather then a Magi.
Now how would you feel about that?"

She frowned, "Well that would be stupid, I would be most perturbed!"

"Exactly." Pierre finished plainly, turning his attention back to the ledgers and dairies on the desk in front of him - "So why not head off to bed and you will find out about the... the--"

"The date." Maka grinned.

Pierre flushed red, "-- O-our appointment, tomorrow."

Maka sighed leaning her head back against the bookshelf behind her with her arms holding on to the base of the stool, "You're no fun."
She mumbled childishly, but then her face perked up again;
"Say Pierre, how come you get to plan it all eh? Maybe I should plan some of our Valentines date."

"I wish you wouldn't call it that, anyway it's the man's job to court the women."

Maka's face turned to one of pretend shock, "Pierre my good man, I didn't know you were a misogynist!"

A fit of 'manly' coughing filled the room at this comment;
"Where in God's name did you hear a word like that?!"

"The internet."

"Ah, yes that makes sense..."

Maka laughed, "I'm only kidding no need to frown like that, I know you meant no harm.
Plus it's not like I know this "London Town" all that well, I'm not sure I would have any idea where to take us if I was the one planning."

"Yes well, I suppose that's true."

"Say Pierre, is this your first Valentine's day?"

The older man's hand held in the air, his pen dangling above the paperwork beneath - "I-i said it before right? Valentines is for children not adults... But yes I guess it is, if you must put it like that..."

"Oh, I didn't realise..." Maka said a little surprised.

"But it's not like its my first rodeo or anything! Indeed back in the day I was quite the ladies-man I'll have you know.
Ha! Wasn't a girl in the kingdom who didn't want to be with a man of my knightly physic!"
He boasted, puffing out his now greying hair and old man's body with pride - As though he were still twenty years of age.

Maka looked even more surprised by this remark but before she could comment Pierre started once again, this time talking as he stood up and made his way over to the small tea making station in the corner of the study;
"Though I suppose there was only ever one I actually loved..."

She watched as he set the kettle to boil and drew down two cups, filling them with coco-powder.
"I didn't ask for a drink Mr.Lady's-Man." Maka jeered.

Pierre grinned, "Who says I'm offering? I just so happen to be making two cups worth."

She smiled softly back at this before leaning forward and laying a hand to her chin;
"...Say the one who you lo-- who you really liked back then, did you ever tell her how you felt?"

A pained look came over Pierre's worn old face - "Ah, no I'm afraid not... It wasn't really that simple. We were always off fighting one battle or another, there was never much time for such things."

"In the stories there's always time for romance."

"Yes, well real life tends to be a little more intrusive." Pierre laughed a little bitterly.

Maka clutched her hands together as though bracing for an expected answer;
"Did you... Did you think she was ugly? Too much of a tomboy?"

Pierre nearly dropped the stemming cups of hot chocolate he had been carefully carrying across the room, as he burst into a light laughter;
"What in God's name would that have to do with anything? And of course not, I mean sure she wasn't nearly as feminine as a girl like you is, but that was never the problem.
Me and her, it was well complicated..."

As he handed her over one of the cups a thought suddenly dawned on Pierre.
It was one he felt incredibly ashamed to of not had sooner, one that seemed so obvious:
'This girl in front of me. All this time I've simply been worrying about her leaving me all alone, worrying about myself - Yet right here is someone with her own hang ups and worries.
For all your happy nature, your hurting too underneath, huh Maka?'

He smiled as he laid his cup down on the table next to him and retook his chair, resolute in what he would say next;

"That word you said early, 'Misogynist'. 
Back when me and... her lived - Well we didn't have words like that, ways to express ourselves. It's funny really but Bhaile and Earth mirror each other in that sense. We had no way to talk about things like sexuality or gender.
In all honesty I really did sleep around alot with many women but not so much because I wanted to or even found pleasure in it, but more like I had something to prove.
Like to be a 'normal man' I had to get with women, to prove to myself that I was normal and... And that it wasn't a me problem per se but simply how I was expected to act by those around me...."

Maka nodded along attentively as Pierre continued. She knew all too well the feeling of not fitting into society properly.

"The girl was in a way the same as me and yet completely different. I really mean it when I say I don't know what her gender was for sure.
She took such great strides to keep it hidden from everyone around her, that I struggle to believe she wasn't doing so on purpose.
I mean who knows, maybe she was a boy born in a girl's body or vice-versa. Maybe she was simply a tomboy ya know?"

"But we didn't have words like 'Transgender' back then and heck even if we did, we could hardly of used them in our positions!
I've had time to think on it since arriving on Earth, 30 years worth of time and postmodernist human knowledge.
They have words here for everything you can imagine - Labels.
Perhaps I'm A-sexual to some degree, or demi, or grey and maybe Aardig had gender dysphoria or had no interest in any relationship whatsoever - All of them might of fitted how we used to feel but honestly? I don't think I ever wanted to put a label on it."

"If she had actually been a female underneath that armour, or a male assigned female at birth or any other configuration - I don't think any of it would of changed my feelings towards them.
All I really know is this, I loved her and no one else in my entire life as much as her - In turn I'm sure Aardig loved someone in her own way aswell.
Whatever labels the two of us belong to hardly matter does it? Ultimately we were what we were and we loved who we loved --"

"-- So, umm, no it had nothing to do with her being 'tomboyish', that never even factored and no I haven't really had any partners since coming to Earth, there was no longer a need to pretend you see?
Me and her, we just... Well we just never properly got chance to express our feelings I suppose, before I got brought here."
Pierre finished quietly.

Maka's face had gone a deep crimson shade, Pierre soon followed suit as silence cloaked the small room.

".........Y-you said Aardig, Aardig was the girl you l-l-l-loved!" Maka squeaked.

"Wait now hold on, that's ah, not what I meant, I err-- Well what about you then!? Do you like anyone back home eh?!" Pierre fought back desperately trying to cover up his mistake.
Maka's face somehow grew even more beat-red, far warmer then the drink she held cupped in her hands;
"What? I... well maybe but..."


"Well he's younger than me but looks older, and I don't think he thinks of me like that....atleast I didn't think he did....but after what you said...." Maka muttered with a school-girl incoherence.

Silence fell again as the two simmered like childhood sweethearts.

Finally Maka sprang to her feet, glancing at the clock;

"Ah-ha, half-past already?! I ah, I better be hitting the hay! Ha-ha..."

Pierre's eyes followed her sheepish progress across to the door of the room;
"Ah, right of course yes - I must be calling it a night soon myself." He added.

The girl stood in the door for a few moments, hiding her face's massive grin from sight. 
"So ummm, thanks! I ah, I think I needed to know that - About the tomboy thing I mean!...ah, good night!" 
And with that Maka half sprinted away.

Pierre felt up to his own face, to his warm cheeks. He had only meant to comfort Maka's insecurities about her appearance, not to go and confess his own feelings towards Aardig - 'But Maka is....'

The clock struck ever nearer to twelve - To Valentine's Day.