Actions

Work Header

The Art of Love

Chapter Text

Moana Waialiki was tired.

No, scratch that. She was exhausted. She had left work at 7:05pm at night – much later than she had anticipated – her feet hurt, and her head was pounding after having spent the last five hours crammed in her office, tackling her numerous articles that had upcoming deadlines sooner than she had expected. Not only was she exhausted, but she was hungry.

Starving actually.

Maybe it hadn’t been such a wise idea to skip lunch after all. The rumble and protest in her stomach was proof of that.

So to say, she was exhausted, and she was starving.

Oh, and not to mention, she was annoyed too.

Her publisher and boss, Gothel had assigned her to write one of the most peculiar articles she could ever think of; and that required her to travel to the most high end café’s, taste every single mocha and latte they had and write about which café sold the most divine latte’s or mochas out there. The thought of having to complete this article only increased the anxiety and exhaustion to ache all over her. And a grimace had found its way across her features.

Why her boss had to come up with the most superficial ideas to write about was far beyond her.

But then again, she was Gothel; the wealthiest woman in small town of Vancouver who owned a four story mansion. Even her choice in wardrobe practically screamed Rich! And for Moana, she could only assume that it was one of the perks of having a boss that was so engrossed in nothing else but materialism.

It was bad enough already that she had been assigned to write the most ridiculous articles beforehand. One of them being the battle between fur coats and leather jackets. She remembered having to conduct a survey of how many women preferred which over the other, and truth be told, it was one of the most horrific experiences she’s ever encountered in her life. And the thought made her cringe.

Another had been which she was required to taste every single Bubble Tea in China Town and she was to write which one of fifty flavors was the most delicious. Moana had recalled those unpleasant moments where she nearly gagged with each sip that she took, and she remembered those times where she ended up wasting a whole $7.00 worth of Bubble Tea each time.

And now, it was on to the ultimate battle. Mochas vs. Lattes.

Not that she was even a coffee person in general. In fact, she hated coffee. She hated the bitter taste it left on her taste buds, and the smell of the roasted, dark coffee beans left a foul smell to her nostrils. So all in all, she had absolutely no idea how to she was going to survive having to taste twenty different flavors of mochas and lattes put together. And she dreaded the thought of having to complete such a task.

Gothel was completely mindful of Moana’s dislike for coffee. Most of the times, Moana would always have to ask herself if Gothel was assigning her these articles as a means to genuinely challenge her intellect? Or if she was flat out being spiteful and cruel.


 

“Lattes and Mochas?” She had a questionable look on her face that morning. “That’s what my next assignment is?”

“Why of course, dearie!” Gothel had chirped with a devious smile. “What? Did you think that I was going to give you an article to write something about….” She scratched her chin in mock confusion, leaning casually back in her chair. “Oh I don’t know! The ocean? Or the islands perhaps?”

A wheezy sigh slips past her lips. How much she would’ve adored to have written an article that would require her to travel the globe. Savoring the feel of the warm molecules of sand squishing between her toes, the glossy water blanketing her feet, the smell of fresh fruit and the warmth of the tropical breeze blowing delicately in her face, through her hair and-

“So boooring!” Gothel’s shrill voice broke through her thoughts. “No imagination whatsoever!”

She grimaced, biting back the comment that was mere inches from falling off her lips. “Pardon me, Gothel, but don’t you think that writing about mochas and lattes is a bit…..superficial?”

The dark haired woman straightened her spine, fixing her employee with a frown and a cock of the eyebrow – proof that she had some sort of facial work done.

“Superficial?” The corners of her mouth had raised in amusement, her freshly manicured fingers clasped together. “Miss Waialiki, are you questioning my authority all of sudden?”

“No! No, no, no! Absolutely not! I jus-“

“Good! Then you will have no problem writing this article then, will you?”

“I guess not.”

“Excellent!” She had eagerly handed her the papers which Moana took numbly. “I expect this article to be ready for me by next Friday!”

“Next Friday?” She jumped. “Uh – but – Goth-“

“On my desk by 9:30am, sharp! No ifs, ands or buts! No excuses and absolutely NO later than that!” And she had grabbed what was left of her hazelnut mocha from her pit stop to Starbucks, and dismisses her with an impatient wave of her hand. “Now, run along!”


 

Moana had reminded herself to add Gothel to her ‘five things to make me stressed’ list. And somehow, Gothel was definitely going to find herself right at number one.

So now she sat in Nemesis Café that was located on 32 Hastings Street West in the crowded city of Vancouver, looking slightly disheveled and purple bags coating her eyes – proof of her being deprived of sleep. She had not taken her eyes off her laptop for the past forty minutes that she’s been here, and still, the only thing staring back at her was a white, blank document, and a cup of mocha coffee – which was now cold – to add to the picture.

She sighed, a heavy sigh. She managed to take another sip of the mocha, made a face and pushed the cup aside. She forced herself to consume a latte earlier on and she had to everything in her willpower not to allow the bitter aftertaste of the semi-sweet milky liquid to make its grand entrance from the contents of her stomach.

The buzz from her phone vibrating on the wooden table drew her eyes from her laptop. An incoming call from the last person she expected, and the rate of her heart beat gradually sped up. She reaches for her phone, the device resting in her palm of her shaky hand, hesitating whether or not to press that ‘green’ button. Chewing on her lip, she does just that.

“Hello?”

“Moana! So glad I was able to get a hold of you.” She knew that voice all too well. The same voice that was a memory of her childhood. “How’ve you been?”

“I’ve uh….” She ran hand through her soft curls. “I’ve been managing…”

“Managing?” The woman’s voice on the other end dropped to a note of concern. “Just managing?”

“Oh! Did I say managing?” And she suddenly became mindful of the error in her answer. “I meant to say that I’ve um, I’ve been good! Great actually!”

“Yea? You haven’t been spreading yourself too thin I hope?”

“Of course not. I’ve been fine!”

There was a pause on the other line. A long one. Much too long for Moana’s comfort.

“Moana, are you sure you’ve been alright?”

“Yes, yes! Of course!” She forced a chuckle through her teeth. “Why would you ask that?”

“Honey, you sound kinda…stressed out a bit.” The woman spoke carefully. “Are you sure everything’s okay?”

“Of course! Totally and perfectly fine!”

Again, there was a heavy sigh on the other line. And the woman spoke. “Okay, well that’s…good I suppose.” And a shuffling on the other side told her that she was in the process of filing papers. “I was just calling to remind you about your check up for tomorrow.”

“Oh yes!” Moana mentally scolded herself having nearly forgotten of her appointment for tomorrow. “For 11:30am, right?”

“10:30, Moana….” The woman corrected, doubt was in her tone but she pushed it aside. “I’ll be seeing you then, correct?”

“Right! Yes! 10:30!” She went to pinch the bridge of her nose. “Got it!”

“Alright, well if anything comes up, please make sure to give me a call?”

“Of course. Thanks Dr. Parr. I’ll see you then.”

And the phone clicked. Both lines having made their exits. She stared at her phone in the palm of her hand, closing her eyes and letting out a sigh. Unresolved tension had now made its entrance, and she immediately felt the beat of her heart dangerously begin to increase. Even her own doctor knew how bad of a liar she was. After all, the evidence was present with each word that slipped past her lips.

Not only was this damned article allowing the stress inside of her to invade her organs, a call from her doctor reminding her of her appointment was the last thing she wanted to worry about this point. Deep down, they both knew that it wasn’t just any random checkup that needed to be dealt with.

She pocketed her device and attempted to go back to tackling that darned blank, white document that still stared back at her; sitting tall and proud, taunting. And her only response was to glare right back at the blank screen before her fingers went to typing animatedly on her laptop.


 

Maui, at the time, was neutral.

He had arrived to Vancouver a week ago to begin his position at his new job. The job was pretty straight forward, since he’s been working in a bank for pretty much his entire life. However, it was a matter of him getting used to the Canadian currency and following the Canadian legislation and so forth. Considering the fact that he’s pretty much travelled the entire globe – he even lived in Germany for about a year and a half – if he could adapt to the European legislation in the span of five minutes, then adapting to the Canadian legislation would be a breeze in the park.

Not to mention, the Canadian citizens seemed much more polite. Friendlier even. Much more pleasant than his American clients whom he’s had to deal with in the span of two years since the time he lived in New York City.

Majority of his clients back in States were either too brazen, or just flat out pain the asses who clearly would choose never to listen to his advice when it came to financial aiding. Which is why most of the times, they would end up in major debt, and then they would complain to him that he was nothing but a useless financial advisor who didn’t give a shit about them or their finances.

But Maui was the type that could care less.

Once you decide to dismiss him and take matters into your own hands, then you were literally on your own.

Typical New Yorkers.
Thankfully, his Canadian clients were more knowledgeable when it came to their financial aiding. Not to mention, they seemed to be more independent as well. Which only made his job easier and less stressful. That, Maui could definitely not complain about.

His boss, Robert Parr, head and CEO of the company that he worked for, was an alright fellow. Usually kept to himself, but he always made sure to keep a good eye on his employees. Not to mention, he would go out of his way to make his employees, and even his clients feel at home. Maui didn’t have a problem with him. So far, he didn’t seem to have a problem with anybody. But that was only considering that this was his second day on the job and already he was keeping up with the pace and meeting the procedures.

But then again, Maui was never usually one to really pay attention to anyone. Or even really acknowledge anyone. He wasn’t much of a people person, which is a bit ironic considering his position. But they were only his ‘clients’; meaning that these were people he was forced to communicate with on regular basis. But once 4:00pm hit, Maui was a man of his own. A stranger to everyone, and not really one that had the likes of mingling or making small talk with people.

So to say, it wasn’t a bad day in the beginning.

Maui, now however, was frustrated.

By the time he had finished his day at work around 4:00pm, he had expected his real estate agent to be on time for their scheduled meeting. The meeting had been for 4:30pm. The real estate agent had arrived at 5:30pm.

Punctuality was something that Maui took seriously. It ran in his family and luckily for him, he was quick to pick up on it and he had adopted that trait. There was never a time in his life where he was never not late, or had to deal with anyone who was tardy. So today, when his real estate agent showed up an hour and a half late, Maui had to do everything in his power not slam the door in this man’s face, send him away and request another agent.

But because unfortunately this was the only day and time that Maui’s schedule was clear, sucking it up and professionally discussing business was the only choice he had left. So, he went along with it.

Two seconds turned into two minutes. Two minutes turned into two hours.

It was now 7:30pm. And two long hours later, Maui was on the verge of just about drop kicking this man to Mars. If it hadn’t have been for the fact that he was currently living in a crappy motel at the moment, he would’ve gladly have done so without a second glance. Unfortunately, Silver Star Motel had a strict policy against their guests throwing their real estate agents out of windows.

“For the thousandth time, sir, I’m only going to be living here for a year.” He said through clenched teeth. “I just need something that will last me for that amount of time at a reasonable price.”

“Well,” The man adjusted his square rimmed glasses – two sizes too big to fit on his round, bald head. “The cheapest we can provide for you, Mister Mory-“

“Maui.”
“Yea…anyway…” He gave a wave of his hand, flipping through the papers. “If you’re looking to buy, then the cheapest amount for a down payment would be between two and four hundred thousand.”

“Okay, look, you’re not listening.” His thick fingers went to pinch to bridge of his nose. “I told you already that I’m not looking to buy, I’m just looking to rent.”

“Yes, yes, I’m quite aware of that.”

“Honestly, I don’t think that you are.”

“Well, Mister Maui, I’ve already given you many options. There’s not much more that I could do.”

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He muttered, raking his fingers through his tangled locks. “Look-“

“I’ve already said what I needed to say.” The man throws his papers in his brief case and flicks his wrist to check his watch. “My time is up.”

“But I told you, I need a place to rent. I cannot afford to buy-“

“And like I’ve already said, for the thousandth time, Mister Maui, the cheapest we can offer you is between two and four hundred-“

“But I don’t have that kind of money right now!” The meat of his palms slam on the wooden table with a loud ‘thud’. “And truth be told, you didn’t leave me with many options!”

The older gentlemen cleared his throat, adjusting those annoyingly large rectangular glasses as he tries to soothe his now thudding heart that was mere seconds from jumping through his chest and heading straight for the emergency exit. He stands from the chair, brief case tucked under his arm, pot belly poking through his white dress shirt that was clearly two sizes too small to fit around his round body. Maui could’ve sworn he saw a glimpse of perspiration sliding down his bald head, but then again, the perspiration had been evident the minute he opened the door and allowed this man to step foot inside his crammed motel room.

“My time here is done.” The man says, lips curling in distaste as he points his chin high in the air. “You have three days to make your final decision.”

Maui said nothing as he dragged a hand down his face and groaned into his sweaty flesh. He said nothing as that pompous of a man waddled out of the room without another word and closed the door shut. He had many chances to just reach over that little table, grab that roly-poly midget of a man by his coat collar and haul him out the window. Maybe then, that would teach the man how to be more knowledgeable and understanding of his situation. And to be a little bit more….human.

Sure, he would finally be out of his crappy motel room that he’s already spent most of his pay check on. But the only downside is that he would’ve been charged for second degree murder and thrown behind metallic bars in a raunchy jail cell for the rest of his life.

So to say, maybe it was a good thing that he didn’t go through with his ‘plan’ to have put that man in his place.
Some real estate agent he was.

Clearly, it looked like he was going to have spend another night in this lousy motel. Maybe even another week. Or possibly another month. Just his luck.

Maui made sure to make a mental reminder to himself to send in his review to the manager of the Silver Starr Motel ASAP. For a motel that had three and half out of a five star rating, if it was up to Maui, he would’ve rated this dump a big fat ZERO out of five.

It wasn’t like he was exaggerating. The place was indeed a train wreck. The room he had been staying in for the past week since he’s been here was way too small for his comfort, there was barely enough space for him to breathe. The closet was so tiny that he could only fit two measly outfits in there – so to say he was pretty much living out of his two massive piles of suitcases that he had no choice but to cram on the pullout couch.

Not only that, but there was absolutely NO cable or any type of WiFi that was present in his room. Or in any other motel room in this building. Apparently the motel had a policy where all of their guests were required to pay $6.99 a day if they wanted to use cable for television or WiFi for the internet. Of course, Maui thought that was complete bullshit and he refused to do so – which always resulted in him having to use the local library to complete his tasks that needed to be completed for his work.

And that wasn’t the best part.

The mattresses on the beds were lumpy – they made the pullout couches seem much comfier – which was the main cause of those tangled muscles that latched onto his bones in his back. The bathrooms weren’t as clean as he would’ve liked them to be – there has already been three spiders he’s had to catch and kill within the past week. The walls were not sound proof – which resulted in him having to hear things next door that he did not particularly want to hear at three or four o’clock in the morning. The sheets on the bed left a rather a distasteful smell to his nostrils, the windows were moldy and dusty, and the rest of the residencies were loud and rambunctious.

So to say, he had easily wasted his money on seeking temporary residence at such a disastrous place. The downside was that he couldn’t get it back. Not only that, but the room was definitely not smell proof either. Spicy Pad Thai from the little Thai place that was just down the block left a rather greasy aroma that lingered in the air. Not to mention, the perspiration laced with the residue of sweaty gym socks and smelly alligator shoes left an unpleasant stench. So if one was curious to know how the mixture of those three senses smelled like together, then you were definitely in for a rude awakening.

Maui groans again. His fingers peeling from his eyes as his line of sight trailed to the old, wooden nineteen fifties looking clock that sat on his dusty end table.

7:40pm.

The grumble in his stomach protesting that his belly needed to be filled with more food, considering the last time he ate was around forty thirty. He tried to push the thought of hunger from his brain, his gaze venturing to the now overflowing garbage dispenser that was piled up from numerous “Take out” containers of Spicy Pad Thai, Pizza boxes, frozen microwave dinners, and the list goes on.

He slumped in his chair, sighing heavily. Clearly not in the mood for having to turn to another night of “ordering in” once again. His body couldn’t handle the amount of grease and fatty acids and toxins for another night. He was definitely positive that he probably gained at least twenty to twenty five pounds, which was something that Maui was not fan of.

But his belly needed something. Some sort of food or liquid product, just so it could eventually shut up and leave him the hell alone for the rest of the night.

However, considering the evening he just had with that lousy real estate agent, Maui knew that he would need to stay up later than expected so he could make some more calls to any other real estate agent who was reliable and dependable.

‘A coffee would do, I suppose.’

He was going to need the caffeine to stay awake anyways, so why not?

After all, he wanted to get out of this place. He needed to get out of this place. And he was going to do everything in his power to make sure that he does. Even if he did need to throw a real estate agent out the window.

He lets out another sigh, searching around his shitty room and locates his wallet sitting beside the television. Lifting his body from the chair, he grabs his wallet, his jacket and his keys, makes sure to shut the lights off and makes his way out the door.


 

It was already 8:05pm. How the time managed to race by like the speed of lightening Moana would always ask herself? She would never have the answer. But that wasn’t something that needed to be worried about. The important thing was that she had at least gotten somewhere with that damned article of hers.

Key words being at least.

It wasn’t as long as she had wanted it to be. The white document that was deviously blank not too long ago now had some various phrases and different word choices on there.

At least she managed to fill half of the page. Meanwhile, the other half still lingered with its blankness. Taunting her in the most patronizing way, almost provoking her to pound her fist through its screen. And she was tempted to do so. However the other part of her decided that it would be best to remain civil and to preferably not have the other customers and employees think that she was some psychotic lunatic.

After all, the circles underneath her eyes – turning darker by the minute – didn’t do her justice. Nor did her tangled locks and flushed skin. So to say, maybe it was a better idea to not physically assault her expensive electronic device while there were still witnesses present.

A yawn was out of her mouth before she caught it. Realizing that her mind and body could only take so much thought and willpower before the exhaustion was alive and well in her system. She surveyed her surroundings and noticed that she was the only customer that was left, seeing how all the others were smart enough to go home and get a good night’s rest.

But then again, neither of these other customers were under extreme pressure to write and produce a measly article about lattes and mochas. Unlike her, they probably enjoyed these types of beverages on a daily basis. Bottom line was, they wanted to be here. She on the other hand, did not.

So to say, it was a bit of an unfair advantage on her part.

She went to balance her throbbing head in the palm of her hand, eyes squinted miserably at the half blank document that still lingered in her line of sight. Still, at least there was some progress that was made. That was the good part.

The bad part however was the fact that this was only the first of many other cafés she still had yet to venture to. So to get a better sense of this, she still had a long ways to go. And truth be told, half of a page was just not going to cut it.

She sighed, a wheezy sigh. Part of her tempted to just suck it up and continue to come up with any bullshit she could think of. However, her brain was practically screaming ‘if I have to sit here and be forced against my will to come up with any more foolishness I can think of? Then I will gladly shoot laser arrows through that computer screen for you!’

‘But I have to get this done by Friday next week!’

‘Oh boo hoo! You’re not the one that actually has to do all the brain work, darling! I DO!’

‘Must you always be so sassy?’

She rolls her eyes. Finding herself going somewhat mentally insane that she was partaking in a battle between her mind and her herself.

‘Excuse me? You know I get cranky when I don’t get enough sleep!’

Her gaze ventures to her cellular device. 8:10pm. Without a second thought, she closes her laptop shut and begins to gather her stuff. Clearly her mind had won this battle. She needed sleep, and she was going to need lots of it. Especially since for all of next week she will be out of her office for majority of the day taste testing various mochas and lattes.

‘Oh fun….’ She dreaded, sighing another heavy sigh as she gathered the rest of her belongings. Eventually, she remembered the mocha – which had gone cold hours ago – still standing proudly on the table. She made face, wondering if it would be wise idea to just get rid of and never have to see that thing again, or to just suck it up and drink it. After all, she always hated having to waste food or any type of beverage. Not to mention, having to waste her own money.

She glared at the object, only to have it grin viciously back at her, far too smug its own chocolatey goodness. Her hands grasp the cup, and she miserably drags it towards her, fixing it with a piercing glare.

“You’ll be the death of me…..” She mutters.

Meanwhile, how Maui found himself at Nemesis Café, the most prestigious and expensive cafes on the planet was beyond him. But then again, it was also the fact that this café was only a five minute drive from his motel. For the week since he’s been here, not once did he ever think to step foot into any sort of coffee shop. He had always been used to the idea of making his own coffee and preparing it the way that he himself preferred. The thought of spending more than three dollars on just a meager cup of coffee was not something that sat well with him.

That, and the fact that he didn’t always trust if the employees were clean or not.
But because of the crappy day he had after having dealt with that idiot of a real estate agent – which he is now regretting whole heartedly that he didn’t throw this man out the window – part of him just thought ‘fuck it, I need some caffeine in my system right now’.

On the outside, Nemesis Café was small. Well, small was a bit of understatement. On the inside however, it turned out that there was indeed more to Nemesis than meets the eye. The room was much larger than Maui would have expected it to be. Now that it was night time, the lights were slightly lower than they had been before. They were bright, but not to the point of blindness. It just right. The dimly lit lights casted a slight shadow over the room, enhancing the beige walls with a unique and dingy glow. There was still music that was playing, for he could pick out the undertones of a smooth jazz ballad. The aroma of freshly roasted coffee beans left a rather pleasant smell to his nose.

The tables were spotless, the floors sparkling and there was nice area where soft cushion couches were evident in his line of vision. And the fireplace crackled with delight.

Thanking the Gods that this place was much cleaner than he had anticipated.

And plus, the coffee beans smelled great.

Maybe there was an upside to going out for a coffee every now and then.

“Hi there, what can I get for you sir?”

“Black coffee, two sugars.”

The perky girl behind the counter punched in his order enthusiastically. And Maui found himself questioning what it was that she was so bubbly about.

“Anything else?”

He shook his head.

“Coming right up!”

He watched as she skipped towards the blending machines. He wondered if she had consumed one too many coffees here during her hours. For he has never really seen someone this eager to sell coffee to complete strangers on a regular basis.

Rolling his eyes and shrugging his shoulders, he busied himself with his phone as he waited. He already had twenty six new text messages, thirteen new voicemails and forty seven new emails in his inbox.

Even if he’s only been here for a week, he still can’t seem to get away from the duties of his job. And Maui would be lying if he said that seeing these things pop up on his phone did not stress him one bit. He doesn’t answer any of them, but instead his grip tightens around the defenseless device in his hand, tempted to crush the little and throw it all way the Mars.

“Here’s your coffee sir!” And the perky princess was back. “That’ll be $3.35 please!”

‘$3.35 for a measly dinky cup of black coffee and sugar? You’ve got to be kidding me!’

Suddenly, a nice homemade coffee from home didn’t seem like a bad idea anymore. He knew he should’ve stuck to his mentality of being against Cafes in general. It was all too good to be true.

He smacked the five dollar bill on the counter and slid it towards the barista. When she tried to give him back the change she owed him, he shook his head and refused it. No point in getting back change if it was just worthless little coins. The girl bid him a good night, and grudgingly muttered under his breath as she handed him his cup – his three dollar cup of damn coffee.

It did smell good though.

Actually, it smelled….amazing.

Damn these stupid Cafes and they’re stupidly delicious smelling coffees.

If the coffee didn’t smell as great as it did, he would gladly have chucked that thing out into the streets. But because it just had to smell so dang good, his actions proved otherwise. Literally, with just one sniff as the residue of freshly roasted coffee beans filled his sense, his mouth watered, eager to let the hot liquid dance amongst his taste buds and fill his insides with the warmth he was craving.

It would’ve been even more of a reward if the coffee actually did end up between his lips. Sadly for Maui, one minute he was wearing a nice freshly cleaned dress shirt, and in a blur, the next minute, he was still wearing his shirt. But now, with a nice big coffee stain as its newest accessory. Unfortunately, the coffee had still been hot. Extremely hot, which was now burning and seeping through his shirt and clinging to his flesh.

Somehow, the cup that he was holding just a few seconds ago had now ended up on the clean, polished floor beneath his feet with the rest of his untouched coffee, drowning in the puddle of roasted bean liquid. And to add the best thing to the picture, there was a person standing in front of him, eyes wide like golf balls, and a hand clasped over their mouth, realizing the error of their actions.

“Oh my goodness! I’m- I’m so sorry!”

Maui has to do everything in his power to let the anger that was boiling up in his system to subside. He closes his eyes, balls his hands into fists, and mentally counts to ten. Then to fifteen. This young woman just had to make his night far worse than it already was.

“I’m sorry!” She apologized, flustered. “I-I didn’t see you!”

Why this young woman had to be such klutz and come barreling into him like she was some sort of bull with horns charging at its target? Maui would never know. And truth be told, he didn’t care to know. He glares at her through his lashes, watching as she crouches down to pick up his disposed cup.

“I’m so, so sorry! I just-“

“You’ve got to be kidding me.” He grumbles, looking down at his newly stained shirt.

“I’m really sorry, sir, I wasn-“

“Of course you weren’t.” He says, sounding gruffer than he intended, but gruff as he means. “You need to watch where you’re going, chick.”

The curly haired young woman stared at him, blinking rapidly. “I’m sorry.” She quickly grabs some napkins from the dispenser next to her. “I didn’t mean-“

“There’s no need to keep apologizing.” He grows angrier by the minute. “If you were really sorry, then you wouldn’t have bumped into me.”

The young woman was stunned. “I said that I was sorry sir. I just-“

“Are you really?”

“It wasn’t intentional. I swear, I just-“

He holds up his hand to silence her. “Save it.”

She looks down at the napkins in her hands, then looks at the freshly made coffee that was now splattered all over the floor. Then she chances another look back up at him the hulking man standing in front of her.

“Look, sir, if you want, I can get you another coffee.” Her offer is genuine. “Really, I have no problem-“

“No.”

“Really, I insist, I can pay for-“

“I said no.” The dent in his brow deepens, to the point where she has to take a slight step backwards. “Now, can you please move so I can leave?”

She opens her mouth to speak, but closes it shut as she takes a tentative step aside to allow the man to move past her. Her gaze never left his back as she watches him disappear behind the entrance door. Part of her longing to repay him back for the damage she caused. But the other part of her decided against it.

Moana turned back to the mess that she had accidently caused. Napkins still in hand, as well as the now empty coffee cup, with the coffee spill still lingering amongst the floor and deviously spreading close towards her shoes. She was thankful that the baristas were gracious enough to clean the spill with not a single shred of annoyance or hostility. She had made sure to apologize continuously for her clumsy actions, but the baristas made sure to inform her that it was nothing to sweat, and that stuff like this happens on a regular basis.

So when she found herself leaving the Café, she knew there was something that she needed to do. Guilt was forming in the pit of her stomach. Usually, she would tell herself to just let it go and that it’s not the end of the world.

But this time, this time was different.

She wasn’t sure exactly why this time was different, but that feeling in her gut was giving her a reason to believe that it was.

Surveying her surroundings as she was met with the cool breeze, the sky illuminating the dark sheet of misted land with glossy stars glittering above, she headed towards the parking lot. Hoping that she would find what it was that she was looking for.


 

The parking lot was deserted. With the exception of two or three cars that were still present. One of them being Moana’s red Mazda, the jeep which probably belonged to the barista, and the black Mercedes sports car, definitely had to belong to that man.

The same man that she accidently bumped into.

The same man that she knew wanted to drop kick her to Mars if he had gotten the chance to do so.

There he was. About to slip into his car. She sucked in a deep breath, and quickly sped walked towards him. Desperate to catch him before he was eager to speed off into the night.

“Hey! Sir?”

She called as she neared his car. And suddenly she felt all her confidence gradually begin to diminish as his back stiffened. His hand on the handle of his door, ready to escape from the unknown he clearly did not want to encounter. His back is still towards her, and she was certain she could perceive the sharp intake of breath he inhaled through his nose. She didn’t dare inch closer than she would have as there was still a good meters between the two.

“Um, sir?” Her tone is meek as she clutches the strap of her bag. “May I um….have a quick word with you?”

She watches as he takes a deep breath, and he slowly turns to face her. The dimly lit streetlights outlined every single dent and crease in his facial features, clear that the glare was still masked on. She clears her throat, suddenly forgetting how to breathe as she chances a look down at that dark stain on his shirt that even gave her a frown of its own.
“Look, sir, about what happened back there,” She begins, “I’m really, really sorry. I just-“

“Okay, chick, seriously, just stop apologizing.” He grumbles. “You’ve caused enough damage already. Honestly, I just want to go home, alright?”

She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “I understand that but-“

“I don’t think you do.”

She lets out a wheezy sigh. “Sir, I promise that this,” She points at his stained shirt, “wasn’t intentional. I promise-“

“Seriously, stop.”

“But I-“

“Oh for the love of the Gods!” He throws his hands up. “Will you just drop it?”

Moana took a slight step back, stunned at this man’s hostility. This is the ‘thanks’ she got for trying to apologize for unnecessary damage she accidently caused? It was clear to her that this man had issues of his own. A man of little patience and one who certainly did not take any bullshit or crap for anyone. She would’ve argued his remark, but judging by how massive he was and how his hulking figure was inches from looming over hers, maybe it was a good idea to just keep her mouth shut and let it go. Just like he said to her multiple times.

“I don’t need your apology.” He grinds out, and she flinches. “And I definitely don’t need you feeling sorry for me.”

All she could do was blink and she closed her mouth shut. “I’m-“

“What you can do, is to leave me be and let me get on with my life.” He presses his hands together, as if he were about to say a prayer. “And I’ll do the same for you. Got it?”

Her lips pressed into a thin line and she nods.

“Good.”

And without another word, he gets into his car, brings the engine to life and speeds his way out of the parking lot, past the stunned young woman she was watches his black beamer disappear into the night. She silently trudges to her car, hand grasping onto the handle and stared at her reflection in the rearview mirror. Part of her convincing herself not to beat herself up over the situation. This was clearly a man who was just miserable with his own life and needed to take it out on other innocent civilians. Nothing to sweat about.

However, the other part of her had allowed his bitterness to make its home in her bones. Which was something that was used to doing her whole life. And she still continues to do it.

And she slips into her car, hands gripped on the steering wheel and her head bowed, the one question she could ask herself,

‘Can I ever do anything right?’

Sticking her key in the ignition as her engine comes to life, she reverses out of the parking lot and enters her way into the nightly city of Vancouver.

Chapter Text

So far, Moana Waialiki had been having a rather….odd day. She wasn’t sure how she would have considered what it was about this day that seemed to have been odd. Maybe it was the fact that normally by 8:00am, she would be in her office tackling various articles that her psycho witch of a boss would just magically pop on her desk without so much as a warning. Not to mention, running back and forth between filing other articles and rushing to the publisher’s department. Or having to listen to that same shrilly voice piercing through her eardrums, demanding more and more tasks from her favorite employee.

That was the everyday life of a journalist.

It was now 10:35am. And here she was sitting inside a medical centre, anxiously waiting for her oncologist to proceed with her check-up. The walls were still painted white, with various medium sized posters that displayed different images of the anatomy of the human body. Everything just how she remembered it.

It brought back memories.

Memories that she did not want to remember.

Which was why she wanted to get out of this place as fast as she could.

If she wasn’t out of here by 11:30 the latest like she had promised, Gothel would most definitely have her head on silver platter. Usually, Moana always hated having to schedule her daily doctor’s appointments during the days when she worked. So that was pretty much any of the five days during the week. Most of her doctors were more understanding when it came to her always having to schedule her appointments on the weekends. But this doctor in particular was a different story.

Not that she didn’t appreciate when Doctor Parr would constantly look out for her, she did. But most of the times, Doctor Parr just didn’t believe in patients choosing to put their health at risk over unnecessary stress that would inevitably cost them their life in the end. As a matter of fact, right now, it seemed as if Doctor Parr was the only one who appeared to be more worried about Moana’s health than Moana herself was.

And the evidence was proven when Moana yet again chanced another look at her watch. 10:37AM. Closing her eyes and letting out a heavy sigh, she silently prayed that this treatment would be done as quickly as possible.

After all, her articles had no interest in finishing themselves any time soon.

“Hey honey, ready to start your treatment?”

Thank the Gods! She thought. Right on cue, Doctor Helen Parr took her seat right next to her. Her smile genuine, which always made Moana feel right at home. She was a woman in her early 40’s, with auburn hair and a mix of brown tint that was cut in the shape of a bob. Even underneath her white lab coat, her hourglass figure was noticeable, and she was good a height of 5’8 for a woman her age. Brown eyes signifying warmth and security, showing that she actually cared about not just her job, but about her patients too. Luckily for her, she didn’t have to wear glasses, although she did have a tiny bit of worry lines underneath her eyelids, but it wasn’t anything that was too obvious.

As always, she was a woman who looked out for everyone and she often treated her patients in a motherly fashion. Considering the fact that she has three kids of her own. Which was one of the reasons why Moana always felt comfortable and at ease when she was around her. She practically looked up to her as a mother anyways.

Moana sucked in a deep breath and nodded. And because Helen knew her so well, the look of apprehension that was placed on the young woman’s face stuck out to her. Her smile grew wider, placing a tender hand on hers.

“You’re shaking.”

She lets out a small chuckle through her teeth. “I’m sorry. I um…I’m just a little nervous.”

“You’ll be fine. Don’t worry. I promise.”

“O-okay.”

She watches as Dr. Parr slips on her gloves. Latex slapped against flesh, and Moana somehow found herself wincing at the sound. Truth be told, Doctor Parr had been right. She absolutely had nothing to be afraid of. Heck, she shouldn’t even be afraid in the first place. It wasn’t like this treatment was still new to her. In fact, three years later of having to do the same procedure (well, on and off for three years), she should be a pro at this by now.

Most of the times, Moana would question herself as to what it was about this process that somehow always seemed to make her feel on edge. Truth be told, the scent of rubbing alcohol mixed with general antiseptic was not something she enjoyed. It was sharp, always bringing an unpleasant smell that was only proving her point as to why it was she never really enjoyed coming here on regular basis. Yes, there were times when she would be a bit anxious, but it was never to the point where she would find herself shaking. That was a first. Especially since she’s had to come to her treatments alone.

Maybe that could’ve been one of the reasons why this time in particular she felt more on edge than usual.

After all, she did seem to be the only patient who was present without a loved one there to hold her hand. Or to have someone there to offer her some kind and encouraging words to help ease her mind off the pain. A sigh slipped past her lips. So soft and shaky. Her pulse beginning to quicken with each beat.

Thumpthump. Thumpthump. Thumpthump.

She’s always come to her treatment sessions alone. Not because she wanted to, or because she would force it. It was because she had to. She had no choice. Her family wasn’t around. They hadn’t been for a good while now. And she couldn’t lie about the fact that she missed them. She missed them terribly.

Her mother. Her father. Her grandmother and grandfather. Her aunt and uncle from her mother’s side. Her uncles from her father’s side.

She even missed her big sister. And her younger brother.

She missed them all.

One minute, she had been preoccupied with heartbeat dangerously increasing in rhythm. And then the next, her gaze was focused on the scene that played out in front of her.

A young woman, probably around the same age as she was, with the same portrait of uneasiness painted on her features and sweat glistening off her forehead and leaking down the sides of her face as she sat anxiously on the cot while the oncologist of her own got to work in preparing the fluids and IV’s that were to be injected into her sooner than she thought. An older woman sat in the chair beside her – most likely her mother. Moana watched intently as she witnessed the mother dipping a rag into a bowl of water and lightly dabbing in on her daughter’s face, while, grasping onto her hand for dear life. The mother placing a tender kiss on her forehead and whispering words of encouragement to help steady the young woman’s obvious pain and discomfort.

What Moana would give to have her own mother here with her. She knew her mother was the type of person that would drop everything and to be there for her children whenever they needed her. Her mother would be here and placing soft kisses amongst her forehead and stroking her hair, just the way how Moana remembered and loved.

‘I’m right here.’

She always said.

‘I’m not going anywhere.’

How she missed her mother. So very much. Her gentle words. Her touch. Her dedication and the immense love she had gave to her family.

And it hurt to know that she was gone forever. And that she was never coming back.

Her thoughts were interrupted as a small gasp flew out of her mouth before she could catch it. The rubbing alcohol being coated gently onto her bare chest left a painfully cold feeling to her tender flesh that was rising in temperature. Once that process was finished, she watched carefully as Doctor Parr removed the cap off the needle. Its sharp point winked devilishly at Moana, desiring to be plunged into her delicate skin, which usually never harmed anyone. As the needle neared closer and closer, she allowed her eyelids to close, and she braced herself against the slight pain as it she felt that familiar little pinch, and the IV thrust into her skin.

She held onto the breath that was hitched in her throat, allowing one eye to open as she surveyed the shade of brown liquid streaming through the skinny tube and being injected into her body. Her organs and blood cells slightly grateful that they were receiving the medication that her body desperately needed. And once the pain began to gradually subside, her body relaxed, and the breath that needed to be released was granted that opportunity.

“That’s a good girl, you’re doing great, Moana.”

Helen’s soothing voice managed to break her focus away from the pain. A weak smile found its way on her lips. Pretty soon, fatigue was beginning to make its home in her bones. The lids on her eyes slowly beginning to droop, various shapes and colors appeared in her line of vision, beckoning for sleep to wash over her. Within mere seconds, she found herself drifting off into what seemed like an unusual but, slightly peaceful slumber.

Her short-lived sleep was interrupted the second she heard the buzz of her IPhone vibrating impatiently within the contents of her purse. She didn’t have to question who it was that seemed to have gotten a hold of her number. Nor did she need to wonder who it was that was ringing down her cellular device.

Eyes popped open and on red alert. The IV still attached to her chest, clear that the medication was not yet finished emptying its substance into the contents of her body. She chanced a look down at her watch.

11:10am.

Shit!

She nearly went into catatonic trauma when she realized just how little time she had left, and how her body still hadn’t received the exact amount of medication she still needed. She didn’t dare attempt to question how the time flew by from the last time she checked her watch. As always, life just enjoyed breezing past her and screwing her over in the process.

“Uh, Helen, how much longer?”

“For?”

“For the um….treatment.” She says. “I mean, are we…almost done?”

“With the cyclophosphamide, we’re about halfway there.” She nods. “But I still have to give you the 5-fluorouracil.”

And just like that, life just seemed like it wasn’t finished messing around with her. And suddenly, her heart rate was mere seconds from flying out of her chest.

“Oh….”

“Why? You in a hurry or something?”

“Huh? Oh! Um…no?” She suddenly felt the perspiration beginning to form on her brow. “Well…yes, actually.”

“Oh? What for?”

“Well, you see, I kinda told my boss that,” She pauses, looking down at the thin cotton blanket on her lap, “that um, I would be…finished by 11:30…”

Helen takes her eyes off the screen, a frown dented in her brows. “That’s what you told her?”

“Yea.”

“And why would you tell her that, Moana?” And the young woman winces at the iron in her doctor’s voice. “You know that an hour isn’t enough for your chemotherapy treatments. Your boss should know that too.”

She closes her eyes and sighs. “I know. I’m sorry.”

She settles back into the cot, gaze lingered on the tube still attached to her chest. She managed to catch sight of the time once again. Now 11:15am. There was no way she was getting out of here any time soon, and she knew that was something she was going to have to accept. Whether she liked it or not.

Maybe had she had another oncologist treating her, she may have been able to pull a fast one. But with a woman who was sharp like Doctor Parr herself, she knew her chances of doing such a thing would be slim to none. Very slim actually.

It was also no secret that Helen Parr had a strong dislike towards Moana’s boss. That was no surprise at all. Moana knew that. But Helen wasn’t one to fully say ‘I don’t like this.’ Or ‘I don’t like that.’ She wasn’t that type of woman. Nor was the type of be bold or blunt. Not once did Moana ever remember her physically saying that she doesn’t like Gothel. But just the mention of Gothel’s name, or even hearing the word ‘boss’, her facial expressions and her tone of voice said it all.

Moana couldn’t blame her after all.

Besides, it wasn’t like she herself had been a huge fan of Gothel’s to begin with. Nor did she have any plans of becoming buddy- buddy with her. Ever.

And she would never usually defend her anyways. After all, some of the things that Helen would often voice about Gothel was true. No doubt about that.

But Moana knew that Gothel was a woman of very little patience. So little. As small and as thin as a thread.

“Honey, I hope you’re not thinking that I’m mad at you.” Moana tears her gaze away from her blanket, Helen’s offering her a small smile and then turns toward the screen once again. “Trust me when I say that I’m not.”

“I know.” She says quietly. So quiet. “I’m glad you’re not.”

And the buzzing of her phone goes off once again. She’s tempted not to just drown her phone in any sort of fluid she could possibly get her hand on. Anxiety has taken hold of her body now. Penetrating through her skin and bones, invading her organs and viciously ripping the exhaustion from her lungs and tossing it out like last week’s leftovers.

“Sometimes it baffles me that your boss just doesn’t seem to be sympathetic towards your situation.”

She swallows. “She’s not the type to ‘feel sorry’ for anyone.”

“I know. That’s the point that I’m trying to make.”

She’s quiet. Not exactly sure how to respond to that statement.

“How long have you’ve been working for her?” Helen asks, the frown was back on her face.

Moana takes a deep breath. “Three years.”

“And she still works you to the bone, doesn’t she?”

It wasn’t a question. More like a fact. Helen was right. She always was right. If Moana didn’t know any better, sometimes she would think that Helen acts more like her mother to her than an actual oncologist. Which sometimes could be a good thing. But it could also be a bad thing. Often times, Moana would’ve sworn that her own mother reincarnated from the dead and somehow found a home inside Helen’s body.

“I um, I guess you could say that.”

Now it was Helen’s turn to sigh. The solemn look on her face pretty much signalling that this had suddenly become much deeper than Gothel’s selfishness and lack of consideration for others. Moana watched as she brought a hand to her chin, scratching in thought as her gaze remained glued to screen staring back at her.

“Helen?” Moana asks. “Is everything okay?”

But the woman doesn’t respond. She doesn’t answer as she reaches over and gently removes the IV from Moana’s chest. At least that was one medication down. One more to go. She watches as Helen is using the needle to suck out the 5-FU from its bottle.

“Helen…”

“We’ll discuss the results afterwards, honey.” She says and Moana braces against the slight pinch yet again as the needle thrusts into her skin.

“What….what is the scan showing?”

Helen closes her eyes, and sighs.

“Is it getting worse?”

“Not entirely.” She was honest. “But, it doesn’t seem to look too good either.”

She swallows again. Thick and terrible. The acid in her saliva burning a hole through her vocal cords. And suddenly, she realized why she always hated coming here. Expecting the unknown of her health.

At this point, maybe being with her mother and the rest of her family didn’t seem like such a bad thing after all.


 

By the time she was finally able to leave the medical centre, it was already 12:45pm. When she gets into her car and checks her phone, there’s ten missed calls and five new messages in her voicemail from Gothel (surprise, surprise), probably wondering where the hell she was, or asking if she’s still alive. And there was five new text messages in her inbox and five missed calls from Rapunzel Corona, who happened to be one of Moana’s closest friends since their freshmen year in college, telling her that she’s sorry for calling her numerous times and that she needs to get her butt over to work this instant before Gothel serves both their heads on silver platters.

She didn’t respond to any of Rapunzel’s texts. Nor did she listen to any of Gothel’s voicemails.

Shoving her phone back into her purse, her hands grip the steering wheel and she plants her head against it. Taking slow and steady breaths in, and then out. Something that Doctor Parr strongly recommended for her to do whenever she felt that her levels of stress and anxiety were on the verge of boiling over.

It was already bad enough that work was beginning to stress her out more than usual. But right now, work seemed to be the last thing on her mind. Her brain was too busy replaying the events of her appointment that she left not too long ago.

Her treatment hadn’t gone the way she had planned.

Nor did it go the way she had hoped.

The average human body required to produce between twenty to thirty trillion red blood cells. Her body had been producing only fifteen. After she had her blood work done, Doctor Parr had told her that her hemoglobin was bearing less than twelve grams per deciliter. Not to mention, her white blood cells were going downhill as well, which has been disrupting the work of the bone marrow in her body. All of a sudden, everything was beginning to make sense.

The chronic fatigue she’s been feeling in her daily life. Her heart beat tends to be faster than normal, especially when she’s stressed. The pains in her chest were getting worse.

Not to mention, the illness her body was battling was spreading. It was spreading faster than she had anticipated. The results after her treatment had shown that the disease has spread to her lymph nodes and was now beginning to invade her organs.

Her health was getting worse.

Much worse.

Worse than she ever could imagine.

And the thought scared her. Terrified her.

Suddenly, those articles that still needed to be finished didn’t seem so intimidating after all.
The worse thing was that all she could do was blame herself.

Blame herself for putting so much unnecessary stress on her shoulders. Blame herself for not listening to Doctor Parr’s instructions about not spreading herself too thin.

Speaking of which, Doctor Parr had strongly advised her not to bother going back to work. She suggested to Moana that she should just go home and rest. After all, she needed it. Gods, she needed it. Her body needed it. Her heart needed it.

As much as the suggestion sounded tempting, Moana just couldn’t bring herself to do so. Especially with Gothel’s boisterous demands trailing her every step. She was trapped. And she knew she couldn’t worm her way out of this one. Gothel would not have it.

Her breathing picked up. Growing more rapid with each breath she took. So fast that she thought she was going to pass out.

Thankfully, she gathered her senses and lifted her head to stare out window. Her gaze then ventured to the clock on her dashboard. 12:50pm. She was already late for work. She was supposed to have been there for 12:30.

So, she pulls out of her space and exits the parking lot. Instead of racing to work like she should’ve been doing, she finds herself parked in the small plaza, slides out of her car and heads toward where the Metro grocery store was located. It was a good thing that the medical centre had been right next to the plaza. How she ended up here instead of at the one place where she needed to be was a mystery.

Maybe her talk that she had with Doctor Parr (Helen), was slowly beginning to influence her decision on taking care of her health.

Once she stepped foot through the sliding doors of the entrance and reached to grab for a basket, she was immediately greeted by the whiff of steamed vegetables, oven roasted chicken from the deli department and freshly baked bread from the bakery right beside across from the meats. Suddenly, it all began to make sense as to why she actually came here instead.

She remembered that she barely had enough food in her cupboards and fridge at home. Barely enough to prepare a home cooked meal. Another thing that Doctor Parr had made sure to remind her to keep up with this specific priority.

Especially with the condition that her health was in at this point, turning to take out food was definitely not going to suffice.

Which wasn’t exactly something that she did quite often.

Well then again, her perspective of takeout was much different compared to the normal pizza and wings, or Kentucky fried chicken with a side of French fries and slab of coleslaw to add to the mix. Or Spicy Tofu from the Chinese restaurant a few blocks from here.

In all honesty, her idea of “take out” food consisted of purchasing a potato salad and quarter roasted chicken from the deli department. Well, technically it still was considered takeout food, only with less calories and less fatty acids than the regular burger and fries from Lick’s. Or pastas and shrimp that were loaded with carbs, butter and were extremely high in calories.

Besides, those kinds of foods did not often sit well in her stomach. And not to mention, her health couldn’t take it. So it looked like sticking to home cooked meals was the best option. The only option she had at this point.

Her basket is pretty much full at this point. She had made sure to gather everything that she needed. The usual that is. Lean chicken breasts, salmon steaks, egg whites, peas and carrots, blueberries and grapefruits, almond milk and oranges to make her own freshly squeeze orange juice at home. And the list goes on.

She finally makes it to the isle where the last mental item on her list resides. Isle 2 where the oat grains and cereals are located. Combing through the various boxes to find her specific brand of oats, (organic wheat oats high in fiber with only 90 calories) she’s quick to pick it off of the shelf, which was the only box settled in dust. And it happened to be the last box. At least, there was an upside to her day.

Only a tiny one though.

Key words being at least.

Just as she’s making her way to the cash register, she pauses in mid step and turns to the one isle where she is forbidden to go.

The sweets and baking goods calling out to her. You know you want to it grinned. Buy me! They taunted.

‘But I shouldn’t.’ She frowned, though there was longing in her mental brain. Oh, but you must. They had minds of their own. Feeding her soul with false prophets, they could sense the temptation. Smell it. Taste it. She chewed on her lower lip, before she inhaled sharply and found that her legs had been the one to make the first move, guiding her in the direction that should’ve been off-limits.

Apparently her legs had minds of their own too.

So she pursues the baking isle.

A site with various shades of splashy letters and interesting font choices, with multicolored boxes of baking goods that only increased the sweetness in her tooth to ebb, giving her recipe after recipe of different things she could eventually discover new creations. Her hand finds purchase on a slightly expensive ($5.25) box of chocolate icing (smooth and creamy and is perfect for brownies, cakes, cupcakes). She has to make sure she’s not allowing her mouth to salivate even more than it already was. The “smooth and creamy” was quick to claim her attention.

She throws it into her basket without even thinking, not regretting her decision one bit. Helen (Doctor Parr) would definitely have her head for this one. Seems like Gothel won’t be the only one after all who had interest in serving her head on platter. Only to be interrupted by that annoying buzz of her phone vibrating in her purse, her purse strap rumbling against her shoulder. Chancing a quick peak at her watch.

1:10pm.

SHIT! SHIT! SHIT!

Without another thought, she makes a race toward the end of isle. And she would’ve been successful it hadn’t have been the wall of a person that she smacked into. A thick wall that was. A massive wall of figure. A wall that seemed strangely familiar.

A little too familiar.

A hand flew to her mouth. The sound of the small cup landing with a little cluck to the floor. The aroma of freshly brewed coffee permeated in the air, and that same dark liquid puddled around on the gray grounds beneath her feet. Her gaze slowly travelling upwards, catching sight of dark stain that now made its appearance on the front of a freshly ironed and crisp dress shirt.

Only to have her eyes meet his. His face familiar. So familiar. The dent in his brows creasing. Eyes flashed heat waves at her.

That same man from last night.

“I-I…” Not again! Please, not this again! “Sir – I – I….”

“For Gods sake! You again?”

“I-I, I’m so sorry-“

“Jeez chick! Do I have a sign on my forehead that says ‘Spill coffee on me day!’ today?”

“Sir – I-I’m sorry! I-I didn’t see you, I just…” She blinked rapidly. “I just-“

“Didn’t your parents ever teach you to watch where you’re going?”

“I’m sorry-“

He holds up a hand. His eyes close shut and he takes in a sharp breath through his nose. Silently counting to five. Then to ten.

“I um – I can pay for your-“

“There’s no need for that.”

“Honestly, sir, I mean….I can-“

“I’ve said this to you before, and now I’m gonna say it again.” And his lids open, and Moana has to brace herself for the coldness in his gaze. “You’ve caused enough damage already.”

“I know.” She goes to pinch the bridge of her nose. “I know, and I’m sorry. Really and truly, I am-“

“Are you always this much of a klutz?”

She blinks again. Stunned. “E-excuse me?”

He grumbles and rolls his eyes. “And like I said before, you need to watch where you’re going.”

“Sir, I said I was sorry.” Her brows are furrowed. “Believe me when I say that this,” she points to his shirt and motions to the spilled coffee that was mere seconds from turning to sticky gum (this feels like déjà vu all over again), “wasn’t intentional, nor am I out to get you or-“

“Listen, Chick,” He rolls his eyes again. “Don’t bother wasting your breath, alright? You obviously don’t have any sense of others-“

“Okay hold on, who do you think you are-“

And, you don’t even realize how clumsy you are-“

“Pardon me?!”

“So don’t go apologizing and pretending that you’re sorry when you’re not!” He glowers down at her. And Moana would be lying to herself if she said that his large stature and hulking frame didn’t intimidate her one bit.

She sighs, a heavy one. There was no point in making the situation any worse than it needed to be. “Sir, like I said before, it was an accident.” And her heart rate was picking up speed. “I have no problem paying for your-“

“No.”

“But sir-“

“For the love of Gods, no!” He scowls. “What part of ‘no’ do you not understand?”

And she presses her lips into a thin line. Attempting not to allow his hostility and aggression invade her mind. (He’s just having a bad day. Don’t take it personal) She could feel the curious gazes and wondering eyes surrounding them with intense scrutiny. And suddenly, all of her confidence and assertiveness slowly slips away.

Seems like Gothel will needing to fight for claim over her head.

He’s glowering at her, and it doesn’t look like any shred of forgiveness will make an appearance on this man’s profile any time soon. She bows her head, gaze glued to her feet. Accepting that maybe everything was her fault. It always was her fault.

“I’m sorry, sir.”

It was the only thing she could say. Her tone was soft. So soft.

He responds with a grumble and turns in the opposite direction to escape from the isle as fast as he could. Hearing the sounds of his footfalls disintegrating, she finally looks up, eyes still glued to his back as he becomes farther and farther to her gaze. She stays rooted in the same place for a few minutes. Running a hand through her curly locks, chewing on her lower lip and fights the blob of tears that were desperate to fall, but refuses to let them.

(Clearly this day just doesn’t seem to want to agree with me).

And she had decided to accept that.


 

His lunch break had ended at 1:30pm. Thankfully, he had been able to grab a decent meal from Tim Horton’s (even if he wasn’t really fond of their food, it was the only option he really had), and was able to make a quick pit stop to Metro grocery store to grab some body lotion, soap (the soap at the hotel did not do much to accommodate to his skin) and even grabbed some sugar free cookies to munch on (his weakness, surprise surprise).

His day had been somewhat successful.

Key word being somewhat.

It would’ve been even more successful had he been able to enjoy his black coffee with two sugars that his body desperately craved.

Only, life decided it had other plans of its own to screw him over once again. Of all days, it just had to be the day where his yet again ended up on him instead of in him. Not to mention, it just had to be the same, klutzy Curly haired chick that caused the damages that were done.

It just had to be her yet again.

At this point, Maui was convinced that this Chick was out to get him.

He didn’t know why. Nor did he know how. He was just convinced.

And they said that Canadians were friendlier and kinder.

(Liars)

The good news was that his next client wasn’t scheduled to come in for their appointment until 2:15pm. So on the upside, he did have some time to kill to complete his financial plan that he had all set and prepared for his client. And to catch up on whatever files and mandatory account information and payments needed to be faxed to the Bank of Nova Scotia, or what needed to be forwarded to his boss via email.

The only downside was the fact that now he sat in his office, shirt stained with coffee, miserable and annoyed. Not only that, but sadly, the one day where decides not to carry an extra shirt with him (like he always does), he gets coffee spilled on him. Again.

Courtesy of ‘Curly haired Chick.’

That was just fantastic.

Looked like he was going to have to suck it up and dodge as many questions his client was bound to throw at him regarding his mishap.

His office happened to be located at the last room at the very end of the hallway. Since TD Bank only consisted of one level, all the rooms of the accountants and financial advisors were stuck in one section of the bank. TD was often one of those banks that was located in the rather smaller plazas of Vancouver. The banks were usually quiet, and Maui was grateful for that.

The bank itself was small, but cozy and spacious. There was enough room to breathe, and the offices were kept fairly clean and inside the building was always sanitary.

Right now, Maui sat obediently at his desk while he never once took his off the bright screen of his Windows PC computer. Thick fingers tapping at a fast pace as he was filling out some documents on Xcel.

A knock on drew his eyes from the computer. “Come in.” He said and immediately brought is gaze back to the screen.

“Maui, just the man I was looking for.” Robert Parr (everyone called him Bob for short), his boss, stepped in with a clipboard in hand. “I just got off the phone with your client. Said they’ll be a little bit late and that they’ll get here around 2:30pm. Is that okay with you?”

Maui looked up from his computer and shrugged his shoulders. “Seems fine to me.”

Bob was a man in his mid-forties. A massive height standing at around 6’5 that made every woman’s dream of finding the perfect tall man a dream come true, and made most men envious. Even Maui looked like a dwarf compared to him. (Well, not entirely. 6’1 wasn’t that bad of a height) Not to mention, his stature was to die for, muscles the size of cantaloupes (but not as big as the muscles that Maui has) and the usual blonde hair and blue eyes. He looked as if he could belong to one of those body building magazines, or some sort of catalogue for anything that had to do with body builders or the occasional “gym rats”. Many women in the banking industry found his ambition and his kindness incredibly appealing and very attractive. But it was too bad that he was married. Happily married that was.

He nodded and flipped through the paper on his clipboard. “Also, just reminder that you have an appointment tomorrow with that lady, Mrs. Morrison at 3:00pm.”

“Alright.”

“Good.” He nodded, then frowned. “What happened there?”

“What?”

“Your shirt.” He pointed towards the grinning stain. “Did you run into a coffee post or something?”

“Oh….” He looked down, pinching the bridge of nose. “Um, yea….it’s a bit of a long story.”

“I’ve got time.”

“Ah, well, long story short, some chick bumped into me at the grocery store. Spilled coffee all over my shirt.”

“Ooh…..sounds rough.”

“Little bit, yea.”

“Ah, don’t sweat it. I’ve had that happen to me before too.”

Maui couldn’t hold back the chuckle. “I doubt it was a random chick.”

“Actually, you’re wrong.” Bob chuckled and leaned against the doorframe. “Happened more than once.”

“That’s tough. How many times are we talking?”

“Ah, like three or four times.” Bob shrugged, shaking his head snickering at the memory. “I honestly thought she had it out for me or something.”

“Join the club.” Maui sighed and rested his hands against his lap. “Same chick?”

“Yup. Same chick.”

“Ouch. She must’ve been making your life a living hell then, huh.”

“At first.” The blonde haired man shrugged again. “It was either I drop kick this girl to Mars, or just accept the fact that she was after me.”

And Maui found the corners of his lips lifting in amusement. “So….what’d you end up doing?”

Bob thought, then shrugged again. “I married her.”

“Really?” His brows raised. “Just like that?”

“Yup.” Bob admitted. Seeming not to regret his decision. “Turns out that I found her to be really cute. Very attractive actually.”

Suddenly, Maui found the amusement slowly dispersing from his features. His brows dropped to frown. “Wait a minute,” He slowly leaned against his desk and folded his fingers, “are you trying to imply something here?”

Bob furrowed his brows. “I’m not trying to imply anything.”

“You sure about that?”

“Sure.” Then he cocked a brow. “Unless you are?”

“Course not.” Then he leaned back in his chair and ran a hand through his curls. “Just sounded like you’re implying that the same thing was gonna happen to me.”

“I wasn’t saying that.”

“Good. Cause it’s not.”

Bob nodded, a smirk creeping at his lips. He definitely didn’t sound convinced, but he was willing to let it slide anyway. “But seriously though,” he motioned to his shirt again, “I have some extra shirts in the back. I’ll go grab you one.”

“Oh, um, you don’t have to do that.” He was slightly taken aback by the man’s thoughtfulness. “Really, it’s fine.”

“I insist.”

“Really, you don’t have to do that. I wouldn’t want you to-“

“Like I said, I insist.” And Maui shut up, realizing that he was making himself look stupid by declining offers he clearly knew he didn’t deserve. “Plus, we always encourage our accountants and financial advisors to look presentable for their clients and what not.”

A sigh slipped past his lips. Bob was right. He looked down at his shirt, and then back up at his boss. “You sure it will fit?”

“Sure!” Bob gave him a once over, squinting. “You’re about my size. Maybe a little bit bigger.”

‘A lot bigger actually.’ He thought to himself. ‘I may be shorter than you, but I’m much wider.’

“Alright, well you sit tight and I’ll be back with the shirt.”

Maui nodded as Bob offered him a small smile, then stepped out the door, closed it shut and left. Once he was certain that his boss’s footfalls were out of earshot, he lets out another heavy sigh and looks down at his stained shirt, glowering. Maybe the ten minutes he had spent ironing his shirt in the morning was a waste of time after all.

Not mention, the fact that he had made sure to wash this shirt on the ‘delicate’ cycle instead of the normal one.

Maybe everything that he did just to make himself look presentable was just a big fat waste.

After all, it wasn’t like he had expected not to have coffee spilled all over it. Maybe that was the newest trend these days. Spill coffee on your shirt with a big stain as the next snazzy accessory. Or maybe that was the Canadian trend that he somehow missed the memo for.

(Canadians do have some rather….unique trends).

Well, hey? At least he was starting to blend in with the crowd more. Nothing wrong with that.

It was the knock on his door that interrupted his thoughts yet again. He looked up and rolled his eyes, figuring that it may be his boss with the shirt (small shirt that was). “Come in.” He sighed.

“Hey, Maui.”

It was the voice that claimed his attention. That same sultry voice he’d grown to know so well. That same voice that clearly did not belong his boss, or of any male species in this building. That same voice that belonged to a female.

“Oh, hey Nani.

Nani Pelekai, a fellow account stuck her head in the door. A young woman, probably around the same age as Maui, or a little bit younger. She had been the person who Bob had asked to give Maui some training until he was able to get a better grip on things. To her benefit, the training only lasted two days and she was silently thankful for the fact that a man like Maui was able to pick up faster than she had expected.

“How’s it going?”

Maui was unaware that he had suddenly forgot how to breathe. Or how to speak for that matter. That is, until Nani made slight clear of her throat and he shook his head, rubbing the back of his neck.

“Uh….okay I guess?”

“Just…okay?” Nani scrunches up her face, amused. “Rough day?”

“Ah, a little bit.” Then he studies her, realizing that her arms look slightly full. “And I’m guessing you’re not just here to make small-talk, are ya?”

She lets out a chuckle. “Well, not entirely. You got a minute?”

He swallows. “Sure. Come on in.”

And when she steps in and reveals her whole self from behind the door, Maui has to resist the urge to let his jaw drop. He presses his lips into a thin line, finding it rather difficult to remove his gaze from her full-fledged figure that lay underneath her pencil skirt and white French cut blouse. Her choice in wardrobe did indeed compliment her figure, clinging desperately onto her curves for dear life. Her smooth coco skin the sight of a forbidden fruit, chestnut brown hair that reached to the middle of her back and those long, thick legs that drove men crazy. The heels she was wearing gave those more of a leverage. Not to mention, her Polynesian decent was what had caused him to be so drawn to her.

Maui was regretting not having brought his chapstick lip balm after all. His mouth going dry.

“Maui?”

He shakes his head again. Gaze was fixed on her profile. “Uh, sorry, kinda spaced out there for a second.”

She offered him a smile. “No worries.” She looks at pile of files cradled in her arms. “I printed out the income taxes for your 2:15 client.”

“Oh.” He frowns, feeling guilty about not having done that himself. “You, didn’t have to do that.”

“Eh, I had to catch up on some filing anyways. Not a big deal.” She shrugs and hands him to the folder. “And, I also printed out the tax returns for your client tomorrow. Mrs. Morrison that is.”

He takes the file from her hand, gulping. His eyes landing on the smooth supple skin of her arm and he wets his lips. His pulse beginning to pick up in speed. (Get a grip for crying out loud!)

“Um earth to Maui? You still there?”

He’s immediately back on planet Earth, finally being able to come to his senses. He pinches the bridge of his nose. No doubt that he was definitely making a fool of himself. At this point, maybe having a small shower in coffee wasn’t the most embarrassing thing that were to happen to him today. Maybe he needed to go for another one. And possibly just drown himself in tap water coffee until his skin shrivelled up into prunes.

That didn’t seem like a bad idea at all.

“Uh, yea. Sorry.”

She eyes him with a suspicious look. Hand cupped around her hip, a smirk tugging at her lips and she tilts her head slightly to the side. Examining him closely. “You okay?”

“Yea.” He rubs the back of his neck again. “Just peachy.”

“You sure?”

“Yup. Positive.”

She studies him. The smirk still on her lips, begging him to play along. And she cocks a brow. “Well, can’t say that I’m fully convinced, but I guess I’ll let this one slide.”

Maui nodded. “Fair enough.”

“For now that is.”

And Maui finds the chuckle in his throat that wanted to escape. “Honestly, I’m fine. No need to worry about me.”

Although still not convinced, she smiles and decides to follow her own advice. “Alright.” They stare at each other, gazes so intense that Maui gulps and Nani has to clear her throat. “Well, I’ll see you around.”

And as Maui watches as she turns to leave (even her backside was quite the view to watch), instantly he felt an unsettled feeling in his stomach. Almost as if something had to come out. Needed to come out. An unmistakable feeling of word vomit that was just dying to make its entrance.

“Hey, Nani?” She turned, her gaze curious. “Just wanted to say, um….you look really nice today.”

She looked at him. Her mouth opening and closing. The sight resembling of what a fish usually looks like when underwater. She wasn’t sure if that was a ‘you look really nice today; can I screw you afterwards?’ kind of compliment? Or if it was actually a genuine ‘you look really nice; very beautiful’ kind of compliment? With Maui, she could never tell. It was only a few days ago where she had finally gotten through the talking stage.

She gives him a small smile, flattered by his compliment. “Thanks.” Then her gaze ventures to his shirt and she smirks. “Though I can’t really say the same for you.”

He cocked a brow. And when she nods towards his shirt, he returns her ‘polite’ gesture with a chuckle of his own. “I mean it though.” He meets her eyes with his own. “You do look really nice. Incredible actually.”

She chews on her bottom lip. Lips curling upwards, amused. It was all beginning to make sense now. Instead of falling weak in the knees like most women would’ve done in a heartbeat and literally thrown their arms around him at this point, she fixes him with an intense stare. And Maui was certain he could feel her staring right into his soul.

Responding to him with a nod, her hand on the door handle as she makes her exit. “See you, Maui.” She says over her shoulder and then disappears behind the shut door.

He’s unable to take his eyes off the door.

(Maybe today wasn’t such a bad day after all)

There always seemed to be upside to everything.


 

When Moana had finally arrived to work, it was 2:15pm. Usually for her, she often finished at 5:00pm. So to say, she would lose almost half of her entire pay check at this rate. But since she needed desperately needed the money, and a three salary was just not going to cut it, she had figured she might as well stay two hours later than she normally does. Maybe then she would have the ability to function much better than she would at home and be able to finish some her other work that needed to be done.

Her office happened to be the last room in the first hallway of the 13th floor on 355 Burrard Street wedged in the middle of the hustle and bustle of Downtown Vancouver. It was both awesome and horrible that she was able to snap the room that happened to have the greatest view of the city below.

‘Awesome’ in the sense that she got to admire the view of the breathtaking sight of the string of gorgeous and tall buildings, condos and apartments. It literally felt like being on cloud 9.

‘Horrible’ that city of Vancouver tended to get loud and rowdy in the evenings. Drunken citizens often yelling and screaming at the tops of their lungs to Katy Perry or John Lennon after a night of intense partying. And then there was the result of tired and angry civilians who open their windows from the tops of their condos and scream ‘SHUT UP! Tryin’ to get some sleep here!’ It was definitely not a fun melody to listen to when you’re stuck in the office later than usual while trying to concentrate on last minute articles and what not.

So to say, it had its advantages, as well as its disadvantages.

The building was home to one of the more well-known magazines, Dream On.

The name of the magazine was incredibly accurate to the concept. Not to mention, very misleading to its journalists. Literally, its journalists could keep dreaming about the types of topics that was of interest to them, something that they desired to write. Moana having the dream of covering topics that had to with travelling and experiencing various islands and cultures.

But with a publisher and boss like Gothel, there was about a million to one chances that that was ever going to happen. You write what she gives you, no arguments or objections and that’s that. Dream On was appropriate for the title. Its journalists often had no choice but to Dreamthey wanted as opposed to writing about whether lattes or mochas were the best. Or which style of hair is most suitable for young women.

So exciting.

So now, Moana sat at her desk with bit of writer’s block while staring inattentively at the half page words of her work. She could strangle Gothel for assigning her this lousy article to write. It wasn’t like this was at all going to help launch her career of one day becoming one the most knowledgeable novelists out there.

Speaking of which, Gothel had been holed up in her office the entire time. Even when Moana rushed through the revolving doors, signed her initials on the ‘punch in’ sheet and sped her way up the elevator. Not that she was complaining. In fact, she was grateful. Good thing she avoided that awkward run in.

Part of her trying to concentrate on what her next move was going to be. However, part of her mind was distracted and instead switched to focusing on the events that recurred in her brain. The scene playing out in front of her so vividly, it littered amongst her skull.

That man she bumped into at the grocery store. That same man she that she bumped into last night at the coffee shop. She had spilled coffee all over his shirt in less than twenty four hours. Him getting angry, clearly wanting to ship her off to planet Jupiter and be done with her. Her trying to apologize profusely and offering to pay for her groceries, just like she did with his coffee. His rejection.

Everything remained on repeat. Going back and forth. Forth and back. Repeating like a vicious cycle. The events like a rather odd film you’d see in the movies.

If only she had watched where she was going. If only she hadn’t been such a ‘klutz’ as he called her.

If only-

“There you are! It’s about time you came!”

Moana was immediately pulled from his numerous thoughts. She relaxed as she realized that same perky voice belonged to none other than Rapunzel Corona, the only friend who she managed to keep close from her days at College.

“Hey, Punzie.” She managed to let a small appear, and pulled away from computer. “Yea, sorry I’m so late. I didn’t think it would’ve taken this long.”

“Well, just know that the next time you ask me to cover for you, count me out.” The perky blonde girl rolled her green eyes and placed a hand on her hip. “I can only hold Gothel off for so long. That is until she starts digging her claws her in my face.” She shuddered at the memory.

“Well, that’s Gothel for you.”

“Tell me about it.”

“So….what’s up?”

Rapunzel huffed, crossing her arms over her chest, her bottom lip quivered. “I’m bored. Needed someone to talk to.” And she plopped herself down on one of the beanbag chairs in the corner. “I’m not disturbing you, am I?”

Moana chanced a look at her computer. “No….not really.” She tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. “Actually, I could use a bit of a break anyways.”

“Okay good. Cause, I really need to vent.”

“Ah, now this should be interesting.”

“Seriously!” She ran a hand through her golden hair. “Can we just talk about how incredibly psycho Gothel is? I mean, the woman wants us to cover topics that don’t even matter these days! It’s ridiculous!”

“Trust me, I totally understand where you’re coming from.” Moana went to massage her temples. All of a sudden, talking smack about Gothel clearly didn’t seem like a bad way to relieve some stress at this point. “Ugh! She’s making me write about some stupid article that talks about which café sells the best lattes and mochas!” She paused. “I don’t even like coffee! And Gothel knows that!”

Rapunzel forced a laugh through her teeth. Thought it was clearly fake. “You think that’s bad? This woman is making me travel to different salons and to find out which color hair dye is ‘in’ and which one is ‘so last season’! Brown, blonde, auburn and the annoying list goes on! Ugh!”

“That’s so unnecessary! When did she give you the assignment?”

“She gave it to me yesterday.” She slumped her shoulders in defeat. “I haven’t gone to any of the salons yet, but Mo I’m telling you when I say this, I’m absolutely dreading this assignment.”

Moana makes a face. “Tell me she’s not making you dye your hair with funky colors…”

Rapunzel pinches the bridge of her nose. “Not exactly…” Then she sighs. “But she is making me get every single streak of color in my hair…”

“That sounds traumatizing. At least you don’t have to spend your whole drinking coffee.”

“Hey, I would take the coffee over the crazy hair styles any day!”

“Eh, I guess you’re right in that sense.”

“I know I am.” The blonde pouted. “Just be grateful you’re not in my shoes right now.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Seriously, I mean I don’t get what writing about these kinds of topics will do for us. For once, I would be ecstatic if I had the opportunity to travel to different art museums and write about their paintings, their abstract artwork and-“

Rapunzel may have blossomed from the inexperienced twenty year old she once was, to the beautiful and confident twenty seven year old she was now, but her personality did not change one bit. She still had some similar characteristics from the day she and Moana became the best of friends. She was a perky girl who was full of life and brimmed with joy, innocence and spontaneity. Only two years older than Moana, but Rapunzel had decided to start college a couple years later as opposed to starting right out of high school. No doubt that the girl could talk. She could. Sometimes Moana would often question to herself if her jaw ever got tired of moving as frequently as it did. She could be little bit oblivious to others when they needed to vent. But on the other hand, Rapunzel did have her sweet side. Very compassionate of her friends and family.

Well, with what little family she had left.

She lives on her own, just like Moana. Her mother had died from a brain tumor when Rapunzel was only seventeen. Just like how Moana had lost her own mother to breast cancer when she was sixteen years old. Unlike Moana however, Rapunzel’s father was still around, but he left the country when his wife passed away. And her two older sisters had gone with him, leaving Rapunzel behind. They made sure to send her a check every now and then to help with the mortgage of their home. But Rapunzel hasn’t seen or spoken to her father or her sisters in years. So to say, their bond was broken.

And that was how the friendship between Moana and Rapunzel grew. They realized they could lean on each other in their time of need.

“-I mean, I’m just imagining how much of an incredibly journey it would be if I could just write about art and-“

Moana was trying her best to listen. Really she was. Only her mind was distracted. She wasn’t sure how, but immediately, the events at the grocery story played out in her brain once again. The man at the grocery store. The coffee spilled on his shirt. All over the floor. Their brief argument. Him calling her a klutz. Her apologizing to him. The heat waves in his eyes-

“Earth to Moana!”

The film in her brain stopped rolling. Her eyes meeting her friend, who was looking at her as if she had completely lost her mind. Moana could only swallow, shaking her head and running a hand through her hair.

“Oh, um, sorry.”

“You okay?”

“Um, yea.” She folded her fingers together. “Just spaced out a bit.”

Rapunzel tilts her slightly, eyeing her friend down. “You’re not okay.”

“Yea I am. Really, I’m-“

“No you’re not.” The blonde shook her head, smirking. “I’ve known you since College, Moana. You may be twenty five now, but that doesn’t change the fact that you’re a terrible liar.”

Of course she was. She was easy to read. Almost like looking at an open book clear on display. Rapunzel of all people knew her better than anyone else. Well, Rapunzel and Doctor Parr that was.

Moana gulped. Pondering over the fact whether or not she should just spit it out. After all, she was caught red-handed. She was trapped, so she had no other way out.

“What’s going on, Mo?”

She was questioning as to why this simply inquiry felt like she was back in middle school. Staring at a sheet of paper with POP QUIZ written smack in the middle. Pencil shaking in hand, sweat glistening on her brow.

“Did something happen today?”

There’s that question. All she could do now was grab the bull by its horns and just speak. She sucks on her teeth. “I ran into a man at the grocery store.”

Rapunzel cocked a brow. “Is that it?”

“No. There’s more.” She shook her head and spoke again. “I was in a rush. I bumped into him and…I made him spill his coffee all over his shirt.”

“So.”

“So?” She flashed her friend with bewildered look. “That’s all you have to say?”

“Well, Mo, I’m not really seeing what the big deal is.” Rapunzel offered her a small smile. “It’s not like you did it on purpose.”

“He seems to think it was.”

Then her face merged to a frown. “Was he upset?”

“Furious.” She sighed and leaned back in her chair. “I felt awful about the whole thing.”

“Well, you did apologize though, right?”

“Of course! More than a dozen times!”

“Okay, well, I’m sure he was reasonable after that.”

Moana closed her eyes and bit her lip. “He called me klutz.” The words stung even when they came from her own mouth. “Told me that I should watch where I’m going.”

“Aw Mo, don’t beat yourself up over it.” Rapunzel smiled, soothing. “He was probably just having a bad day. He needed to take out his anger on someone, so….unfortunately he took it out on you. I’m sure it was nothing personal.”

“That’s not the worst part.” She pinched the bridge of her nose. “Last night while I was leaving Nemesis Café, I bumped into a man and spilled his coffee all over his shirt too.”

Rapunzel blinked. Suddenly feeling deadlocked. “Well, I’m sure that was an accident too. Honestly, don’t-“

“It was the same man, Punzie.”

“Wait a minute.” She paused, trying to piece everything together. “The same man that you bumped into today…..was the same man that you bumped into last night?”

The only thing she could do was to sink lower into her chair. Her hand found her face and she groaned into the meat of her palm. Feeling more defeated and humiliated than ever.

“Ohh….” She dragged the word out, and Moana’s only response was another groan. “I see now….”

“You don’t understand how embarrassing that was for me.” She groans against her palm. “Now I just wanna bury myself in a hole and die from humiliation.”

There was a pause on Rapunzel’s part. She herself was pondering the situation. Clearly having run dry on some words of wisdom she could give to her friend at this point. “Y’know that may not be such a bad thing.”

She stared at her friend through the cracks of her fingers. “What?”

“Well, think of this way.” She smiled, a wide smile. “What if this is a sign?”

“What sign?”

“A sign that maybe, just maybe, this man could possibly be the one?”

She peels her fingers from her eyes and meets her friend with a frown. Now this girl was just talking pure nonsense. “You’re joking right?”

“He might very well be Moana!”

“Doubtful.”

“Oh come on! Lighten up! Have some faith why don’t you!”

She fixes her with a scowl. “Somehow, I’m finding that very hard to believe.”

“Well, I’m just saying to have an open mind! I mean, who knows!” She rises from the beanbag and stretches out her limbs. “He may be the guy!”

“Yea? The guy who called me a klutz and wants to drop kick me to Venus right about now? Oh yea! I’m really seeing a romantic connection there.” She rolls her eyes and sits up in her chair. “You’re crazy.”

“Suit yourself!”

A knock on her glass door caused both women to focus their attention on the person standing behind it. Moana gestured for the woman to come in. “Sorry to bother you, Ms. Waialiki, but Gothel wants to see you in her office.”

Instantly, dread filled her system. She knew it had been too good to be true when she saw no sign of Gothel the minute she arrived late. “Oh, um, right now?”

“Right now.”

She sighed, a heavy one. “Okay, thank you. Tell her I’ll be right up.”

The woman nodded, scribbled on the clipboard and left without another word. Moana was back to massaging her temples once yet. The thought of being alone with Gothel in her office only provoked the levels of stress in her bones and organs to increase.

“Uh, oh. Wonder what that’s for.”

She nearly forgot that Rapunzel was still present in the room. “Probably about my tardiness today.” She moved to rub the exhaustion from her eyes and hesitantly rose from her desk. “Just pray that she doesn’t feed me to the demons for dinner.”

“Trust me, I will be. Oh! Wait a second!” She stepped in front of Moana and combed her fingers through her curls, and then nodded. “Now you look like you haven’t lost any sleep!”

Moana chuckled. “Thanks. I’ll see you later.”

“Call me when you get home!”

“Okay!”

She had called over her shoulder as she made her way towards the elevator. Once inside, she hits the number “15” and dread is hovering over her when the button lights up and the floor is heaving upwards. The knots in her stomach twisting and pulling, she suddenly feels like she’s about to throw up. But she works against her emotions and swallows the vile back down her throat.

She steps out of the elevator once she hears the ding and the doors slide open. Her office standing right in front of her, beckoning for her to enter if she dares and possibly meet her doom once and for all. Grasping the handle, inhaling a sharp breath, she opens the door and enters.

“Ah! Moana! Just the girl I wanted to see! Come, come! Sit, sit!” She tilts her glasses and greets her employee with the most widely (and devious looking) smile that made Moana shift uncomfortably onto the marble chair. She looked just like she sounded. A witch.

“Hi Gothel.” Moana gulped, fixing her boss with the most genuine smile she was always good at. “You um, wanted to see me?”

“Yes dear child, I did!” She’s sitting at her desk, typing animatedly with the tips of her pens, the symbol of power, while Moana sat behind the desk. Something she had grown used to whenever Gothel needed her in her office. She turns from her computer, that witchy smile still plastered on her person. “So just a couple of questions first.”

(Oh no, here we go.)

“First off, how is that article going?” It seemed to be a genuine question. Judging by the way how she sat behind her glass desk, fingers curled into another. “Are you enjoying it? Because I hope you are!”

“Oh, um yea!” She nods just as eagerly. Her cheeks hurting from smiling so much. “It’s going absolutely well!”

“Oh goodie!” She clasps her freshly buffed hands together, manicured nails folding in one another. “Cause I can’t wait to see what you’ve cooked up for me next Friday!”

“Oh you’ll be surprised!” She wasn’t lying about that. “It’ll be great!”

“Of course it will!” She removed her glasses to reveal her perfectly, ageless face. (She had Botox done not too long ago. She wasn’t fooling anyone). “Besides, I wouldn’t have given you this article if I didn’t have faith in you now, would I?”

‘I wish you hadn't’. “Nope!” She shook her head, a little eager for her liking. “This article was exactly what I needed!” So a little white lie couldn’t hurt anybody. Could it?

The older of the two studies her favorite employee with a look of appreciation. Suddenly, Moana was beginning to feel all worries of apprehension and dread slowly begin to disperse. Maybe she was genuinely being nice after all. But then again, a woman like Gothel wasn’t exactly an easy person to get read on. She was one to switch between personalities faster than she changed wardrobes. Cunning? Yes. Unpredictable? Definitely. Maybe it was because she was also known to changing husbands whenever she didn’t get her own way. One would think that after marrying more than three times, that she would just give up and stick to her own.

But not a woman like Gothel. She was already on her….sixth? Or possibly seventh husband? No one could be quite certain. Who knows how long her marriage to this man would last. Probably not more than eight months or less.

Not to mention, she was the definition of a ‘cougar’. She had no shame. If most women that were her age had the body of an urn and long silky black locks like hers, then they would see where she was coming from. But the numerous amounts of Botox, lip injections, including breast and butt implants sometimes did nothing for her image. Which was why most of the times when she needed to leave work for an ‘emergency’, it was no doubt that her trips consisted of meeting with surgeons daily to enhance her appearance.

“You know, Moana, you’re very special.” She smiled. “You have such a phenomenal talent that makes the rest of the journalists here, well….jealous.”

The young woman swallows. Smiling. “Thank you Gothel.”

“No really, dear, I mean,” She leans back in her chair, “I know that I forget how grateful I am to have you on board.” She says, her tone hinting some sort of regret. “And, you like to take risks when you have to.”

(Not all the time)

“Not to mention, your passion for writing.” Her smile grows wider. “You take your job seriously, Moana. Trust me, you really do.” She touches a hand to her heart.

“Um, well, I guess its cause I…” She fishes for another lie. “I learn from the best.”

“Aw, dearie. That’s why you’re my favorite.”

Moana would be lying if she said that she wasn’t touched by her boss’s words. All this coming from Gothel? Usually, a woman like Gothel was never one to be appreciative and compassionate for her employees. This seemed to be a first.

“Thank you, Gothel.” Moana smiles, genuine this time. “Really, it means a lot that you-“

“Now, onto business.” Her face slipped into a more serious expression. Not a good sign. In an instant, the smile vanished. The evil witch had awaken. Leaning back in her chair, she folded her hands to her chest, elbows resting on the arm rest. “You came in an hour and a half late.”

And the knots were back. Pulling and tugging. Moana’s face slipping into a portrait of what looked to be stony fear. “I know.” She admitted. “But I have-“

“You were supposed to be here by 12:30.” She fixes her with an eerie stare. “You told me that your doctor’s appointment would end by 11:30.”

“Look, Gothel, I have a reason for-“

“I don’t want to hear any more of your excuses, Moana.”

That shut her up. Some arguments weren’t worth the trouble. Her father had always taught her to walk away whenever a disagreement was getting too out of hand.

“These doctor’s appointments of yours have been distracting you from your work.” She points her nose high in the air, eyes still fixed on the young woman withering before her. “You’ve been falling more and more behind on your tasks. And you’ve been handing in articles well beyond their deadlines.”

It was only one article. And that was one time.

Okay….maybe two…..or three….(But still! It was only three damn articles! I still take my work seriously!)

But she doesn’t speak. She bows her head. Her curls curtained around her face. Shielding any embarrassment and shame that was evident on her features.

“It’s clear to me that your job seems like it’s no longer a priority in your life.”

There was an insult beneath those words. And it strikes a nerve in her body. She knew it was too good to be true the minute she stepped foot into that elevator. The Gothel she knew was alive and well. The Gothel that she wished she knew was only a charade. Just like the game. Where you guess the character and then once you succeed, the real person underneath that mask returns.

“I should fire you right here without any explanation.” She winces at those words. Sharp and bitter. “But because you are in fact….one of the best writers here….I’m willing to make an exception.”

And suddenly Moana does not like where this headed. The edge and uncertainty in her tone was proof of how evil this woman really was.

“From now on, you’re only allowed three doctor’s visits for the remainder of the year.”

Moana’s head jerks from its position. Eyeing her boss like a desperate child eyeing her mother for candy that was off-limits. Now this woman was insane.

“T-three?”

“You heard me.”

“I – but – Gothel –“

“You heard me loud and clear, Moana.”

“But Gothel, these appointments for me are crucial. I can-‘t”

“It doesn’t matter if they’re crucial or not, Ms. Waialiki.” She cringed when she sneered her last name. Definitely not a good sign when she referred to her last name. “I’ve made my decision, and my decision is final.”

“But Gothel, look, you don’t understand-“

“I don’t have to understand Ms. Waialiki!” She rises slowly from her seat. And Moana was certain she could the devil reflecting in her eyes flashing their weapons at her. “If you had been on time like you said, then we wouldn’t be having an issue with this now would we?”

She winces at the tone of her voice shifting to a whole tone up from its original tone. She accepted that Gothel was right. There was no use fighting. She has already lost the battle. She was definitely not winning that golden trophy any time soon when squared off against Gothel. Or ever perhaps.

“I thought so.” The woman crosses her arms. “Just for that, you’ll be staying here until 10:15 tonight.”

“10:15?” She gaped. Ouch. “Gothel –“

“No ifs, ands, or buts! Do I make myself clear?”

She presses her lips into a thin line. “Yes.”

“Good.” She sits down and return to her work. “Now you may leave.”

Silently. Sliding off the marble chair that made her whole body turn numb, she makes her way for the door. She didn’t dare to look back.

“Ms. Waialiki?” She stops just shy of the door, but doesn’t turn back. “This is your final warning. One more strike, and you’re gone.” She doesn’t look away from her computer, her fingers (pens) back to typing. “And shut the door when you leave.”

She does.

(Definitely not my day today)

Chapter Text

It was Saturday. There shouldn’t have been a letter in the mailbox, but there was. But that wasn’t the worst part. There was a letter, plus another one. Two. Two letters were present in the mailbox on a Saturday morning. She never received mail on a Saturday. Her mail usually arrived on Friday afternoons. But today just seemed to be different. Whenever one would receive mail on a weekend, it meant that it was a bad sign.

Moana knew she was one of those people who were about to experience that the second she opened those letters. She didn’t want to claim those letters. But she knew that she had to.

Taking one last swig of her freshly squeezed orange juice and pushing her cup to the side of the granite counter, she braces herself for what’s to come next. Closing her eyes and drawing in a sharp intake of breath, she tears open the envelope without any feeling of guilt. Pulling the folded sheet of paper out of the white envelope, she examines the letter. And is not surprised to find another sheet of paper that clearly had to do with money.

Dear Ms. Moana Waialiki…..

Oh boy.

It had been a letter from Veridian. One of the most well-known cable companies in Vancouver. She was behind on last month’s payment. And Moana mentally cursed herself for having delayed her payment for last month. Which meant that pretty soon, this month’s payment for cable was just around the corner. Meaning one more month of overdue fees, and they would shut all of her cable down.

Which was just fantastic.

She sighed, setting the letter aside and burying her face in her hands. Taking deep breaths in, and then out. In and out. And she repeated that same technique for about a minute or so until she was finally able to calm down, though the feelings of distress and afflictions still lingered. Her gaze was fixed on the view of a large white bowl on the counter in front of her with the over flowing piles of overdue funds and bills. She glared at them through the cracks of her fingers. All it took was adding one more delayed bill on the top and then eventually topple over like Janga pieces.

For the past two weeks, she had been receiving numerous amounts of mails more frequently. No surprise that all of them had to do with the fact that her bills were not being paid on time. She had received two letters from Enrbridge regarding her daily gas deposits. One from Rogers issuing the lack of two monthly fees for her phone bills. And the last had been from BC Hydro. She remembered that one vividly.

Speaking of which, she had received a letter from them last month expressing matters of her lack of payments for her electricity. She got another letter from them just last week moving on to the problems with her water bill. Along with another letter explaining she has until the end of this month to catch up with all of her payments, including the one that is coming up very soon. Failure to comply with these requests will result in loss of water and electricity until she provides the correct amount of funds that are required.

She would be lying if she said these bills weren’t bringing her stress levels up higher than she ever could’ve imagined.

That would just be one big fat lie.

Not to mention, the mortgage on her house wouldn’t be up for another two years. So there was the thought of her being able to maintain the incomes of the mortgage that also left her feeling unsettled, and more distressed than she already was.

She had spoken with her housing councillor just a couple weeks ago. She had explained that she was trying her best to be on task with her monthly bills, be up to speed with her payments and overall, being able to maintain a steady income to put towards the house. She was trying. And she was working extremely hard at keeping her word.

Her housing councillor could see that. She could see that a young woman like Moana was doing her best. But she could also see that she was struggling. More like, she was drowning in debt. Moana knew that. And unfortunately, so did her councillor. Her councillor felt sympathy for her. Really and truly, she did. But she had to go back to reality. Move all thoughts of compassion and pity aside, and stick to her professional guns that her job required her to do.

Moana remembered that day like it was yesterday. Her councillor had warned her that if she doesn’t manage to keep up with her monthly funds that was required, then there was an 85% chance that she would have to put her house in foreclosure.

She would be forced to put the house up for sale.

And she would lose the house once the next available contestant slapped down the fees to do so.

She couldn’t lose this house.

Wouldn’t lose her house.

The house that was technically under the name of her parents (Tui and Sina Waialiki). That is, before they passed on and eventually left the house in Moana’s name.

Through the cracks of her fingers, her gaze came in contact with an object (very familiar to her) that stood proudly just next to the large white bowl sitting in front of her. Peeling her fingers away from her eyes, she slowly reached across the counter and snatched the framed photo from its place. She stared at it, long and hard, the smooth bronze texture left a tender feeling underneath her wandering finger. Tears formed on the tips of her lashes, and one was fortunate enough to slide down her cheek as she chewed on her lower lip.

Six figures stood in her line of vision. Three adults in the back, and three children standing obediently in the front, their gracious smiles signified a jubilant family and the joys they had of spreading their peace and love with everyone else. Even just by looking at a family of six in this photo, it was clear that these emotions were evident through the black and white filter.

She put a hand to her mouth. Her vision suddenly became blurry with the brand new tears abrasively making their grand entrance without permission from their master. She chews on her lower lip, face is stained with salty liquid, eyes never leaving the photo that she was holding.

The only man that stood nobly at the end looked about his age. Though he didn’t smile in the way that presented those big pearly whites, the expression on his features signified the immense love and affection he had for his family. He may be incredibly muscular to the fact that he could easily snap a twig in a half, and his stature proved to look as though he came off as intimidating, he was a kind and gentle soul with just enough desire and dedication to protect what was his.

That was one of the many things Moana had admired most about her father.

Tui Waialiki was the clear-cut definition of ‘man of the house’. He was the head of the family. The provider and the protector, just like how most fathers and husbands were typically supposed to do. He played the role really well. He took great pride in being known for that definition. It was how he earned his respect from his family. The rest of the men in the neighborhood often looked up to him for guidance on how to properly look after and lead a loving family. Every time, he was gracious enough to provide the men with as much as advice he could give them. But he was never a man to boast about his accomplishments, or his leadership skills. He was very humble, and he was a team player. His glory mainly came from his family, for the love and affection he would continuously feed them on a daily basis was what gained the respect he no doubt deserved. He was patient, but only to the point where if one would continuously go against his word, then his not-so-nice side would come out.

Moana herself had recalled those incidents of times where she had gone against her father’s warnings. He could be tough on you when he felt that he needed to be, and when felt that you deserved it. But that was only because he wanted nothing more than to keep his family safe from harm’s way. That was his duty. Moana remembered many times that from the age of three, she would often tell her mother that she wanted to get married to man that was exactly like her father. The protection he offered, the love that he knew his family needed, and the fact that he was incredibly faithful to his family was what every woman dreamed of finding in a man. Moana even remembered that her baby brother at the time, Keoni, would often dream about becoming like the man his father once was, even if he was still waddling around in diapers and continuously calling out “Papa!” or “Da-da!” in his tiny voice. That was evident just by looking at the picture with her father holding what looked to be a toddler version of Keoni in his arms.

How she missed her father dearly. A man who was passionate about taking care of his family, and who was equally as passionate about his career as an architect, it was such a shame that he had to leave this Earth in such a short amount of time at the tender age of forty six. Sure, he had lived the life he wanted, but it seemed as if he didn’t get much time to enjoy what more that life had yet to offer him.

The thought of him making his departure from earth so soon while just beginning to enter into a new chapter at the age of fourteen, Moana had recalled those nights of endless crying. She would cry every night until she fell asleep. She would often find any excuse during the school hours to exit the classroom and find a vacant washroom and sob uncontrollably until her head hurt.

And suddenly, Moana found herself back at the age of fourteen. Starting a new chapter where she had finally reached her teenage years, and being ecstatic that she would finally have the father-daughter dance at her senior graduation from high school. Only to have her father taken from her without so suddenly without any advanced warning. She had been mindful that he had fallen ill once she hit the age of ten, but she always believed and prayed for a miracle that his illness would subside and that he would be back to normal again. He hid from everyone, including his friends and colleagues. With his family being the only exception to knowing about his sickness. He would always keep a brave face, and pretend as if the disease didn’t exist.

Something that she had learned from her father up until this very day, while she is currently struggling with her own illness. It was something that her even her mother had learned to do as well after having lost her husband so suddenly.

Suddenly, Moana finds herself back in her current state. Her gaze never leaving sight of the picture she desperately held onto. She finds her eyes trailing to where the woman in the middle stood. She looked to be no older than thirty one years of age. Her face clear and smooth, hair was tied in a neatly fixed braid that she always through over her right shoulder. Even after bearing three children, she failed to lose her natural beauty and youth. Her smile and tender, always ready to offer a home to anyone who would curiously come knocking. Her soft demeanor was what often drew people in. She was known as the ‘mother to all’, and she had no problem with accepting that position.

Her vision became blurrier, choking on a sob that threatened to escape any minute. Her finger gingerly went to slide down the shape of her mother’s form that stood in the picture.

With the passion to only nurture her family with never ending love, and her driven desire to pursue her dream of becoming a nurse, Sina Waialiki was everything Moana dreamed of becoming. She often followed in her mother’s footsteps and she never once looked back. Of course, Sina was the definition of a ‘perfect wife and mother’. She often stayed home and took care of the domestic rituals. She took care of the children, bathing them, feeding them, tucking them into bed and bidding them good night, getting them ready and dressed for school and always packing their lunches for them. She found joy in taking care of her family and for being there whenever they needed her.

Even at the age of eleven when Moana was still petrified of needles (recounting those many times her entire family had to literally chase he around the doctor’s office until they eventually caught her, held her down and allowed the doctor to proceed with her duty), her mother was always there. Always cuddling her daughter close, with Moana’s face buried into her mother’s neck as she felt that unpleasant sharp pinch digging into her skin. With tears streaming down her face, her teeth sinking into her lower lip to prevent a sob, her mother’s soothing voice whispering delicately in her ear;

“Ipo, it’s okay.” Her voice left a soft feeling. “I’m right here.”

What Moana would do to hear her the sound of her mother’s voice again. The voice that she always looked forward to hearing when she burst through the front door after a long day at school. That same voice that left always left a pleasant feeling in her system whenever she needed to hear it. And that same voice that was constantly with her where ever she went. Her mother’s voice will forever be embedded in her. It was one of the many traits that could always get Moana through a bad day.

The fact that Sina herself had to make her departure from this Earth at the age of forty three was something that Moana had taken extremely hard. She thought the endless nights of crying herself to sleep after her father passed was bad, her mother’s death didn’t even compare. After Sina had had her own illness to battle when Moana was only eleven years of age, it was nearly the day where Moana felt her life beginning to collapse. Just at the age of sixteen, Moana had retained those memories of where her mother’s immediate death taking a toll on her daily life. Memorizing those times where all she wanted to do was sleep, and cry. Four days she had gone without eating a single meal. Or had even stepped foot out of the house and two weeks of missed classes from school.

Sina had been the last of her family members to go. Her father being the second last. Her Gramma Tala being the third last.

Of course. Gramma Tala. Good ol’ Tala.

Moana could never forget her dear Gramma.

The best was always saved for last as her tear filled eyes glazed over the old photo, finally discovering its next participant who was standing at the far right side. Her smile was warm and genuine. Tala was considered to be one of the most care-free and genuine souls to ever walk the planet. She was a woman of her own. She never took crap from anyone, and she definitely did not give a rat’s ass about what people thought of her. Some people believed that she was ‘village crazy lady’ (that was back home on the island of Hawaii), some believed that she was rather odd or strange, but what did she care? She was who she was, and no one could stop her from being her.

If Moana didn’t know any better, she would have believed that she and her Gramma were joined at the hip. Although she adapted some traits from her mother, she was most definitely her Gramma’s grandchild. Both shared the traits of having very active imaginations. Both were daring and loved to take on new challenges whenever one was given to them. Both had free-spirits with a liking to do things their own way. With Tala, being Tui’s mother, she could get away with it. Moana on the other hand, didn’t have the best of luck with that. But that didn’t stop her from always going after her dreams, with a little help and encouragement from Tala that was.

Tala was the typical grandmother. The grandmother who always loved to spoil her grandkids with plenty of sweets and gifts (when they deserved it that was). She was the grandmother that a lot of kids wished they had, and just like Sina, she never had a problem with opening her doors up to people who would always enjoy to come knocking. She was the typical grandparent who always loved to bake goodies with the grand children while their parents were out working, and when Sina and Tui would sometimes have to work late nights, Tala never had a problem with taking on the role of the care taker for a while. And she was the typical grandparent who would always sneak in a cookie to bring to school for lunch while their mother had her back turned.

Tala had the heart of gold that everyone loved and adored. She was a kindred spirit, and was often very loyal and loving towards her family. Because she gave birth to Moana’s father at the beautiful age of twenty, even at the age of sixty when her brownish hair turned to icicle strands of gray, her inner child still remained and she had all the energy she needed to keep up with those darling grandchildren of hers. ‘They make me feel young!’ She always answered with a wide grin, clearly referring to her grandchildren. ‘I may look old and brittle on the outside, but on the inside, beats the heart of a child warrior!’

Immediately snapping back to reality, Moana felt that she could no longer hold back the tears. Her body needed to allow them the opportunity to escape. And so she let it. A sob had erupted, her hand still placed over her mouth and her shoulders shaking with each sob that came out. She would never forget the time when Tala had battled her own illness and eventually had to exit the world of earth just when Moana turned the big twelve. Even when Tala had fallen very ill, she still managed to push it aside and continue to bask in what little time she had left on Earth. In a way, she had taken complete pride in her sickness, stating that it was a good thing, because she was a fighter. And that Moana would forever and always agree with.

Tala’s death wasn’t an easy one either. The deaths of her mother, her father and grandmother all took a toll on her. And when they had left, she remembered those unpleasant recollections of the times where she would nearly have meltdowns almost every day. And pretty soon, they were becoming consistent with each day that passed. Because she was only sixteen going on seventeen at the time, she was still a minor and she could not provide the funds to reach out to a councillor of some sort to help her cope with the losses of her loved ones. Her family’s death she pretty much had to deal with on her own. She had to pick herself up and try to take each day step by step. It was she who had to convince herself that her family was in a better place, and that they were still with her wherever she went, even though she couldn’t see them. Or hear them. Or touch them. Or talk to them.

Looking at this photograph brought nothing but warm and long lasting memories. Memories that she wished she could still relieve on this current day. It was a photo she could never forget and something that remained close to her heart whenever she needed that reminder that her loved ones were still with her. This photograph was forever and always will be embedded inside her.

A family photo they had taken when they were back home in their native hometown of Kohala, Hawaii. Moana had remembered that day vividly because it was the time where she and her big sister, Mahina, had both decided to be curious and sneak away on a canoe to venture their way out into the beautiful waters of the ocean. Her sister had been nine years old, while Moana herself was still at the curious age of six. It had been Mahina’s idea originally, and because of the love Moana had for the ocean, she did nothing but follow her sister’s lead. For Mahina, it was a way to prove to her father that she was a big girl and that she could handle herself while being on the ocean alone. For Moana on the other hand, it was only because she had dreamed of sailing across the sea since she was two years old. And they would’ve been successful had it not have been for Mahina’s lack of knowledge of sailing where they had eventually encountered some rather nasty waves that nearly drowned the both of them.

Her father had been furious at the time. He did lecture the both of them, but he made it clear that he was only worried for both his daughters’ safety and that he loved them both. So to say, the whole scenario was an odd one. It went from Moana and her sister nearly losing their lives to taking a beautiful family photo where all emotions of fear and worry and relief had somehow transitioned to happiness, warmth and security. While the rest of the family was dry and fresh (her baby brother who was still in diapers included), Moan and her sister had been the unfortunate ones to still remain soaked from head to toe, clothes clinging to their bodies for dear life, curly hair matted and damp against their foreheads. Mahina stood in the warm embrace of her mother, while Moana was wrapped in the cocoon of her grandmother’s arms. Keoni gurgling and smiling in his father’s hold.

So now at the age of twenty five, Moana sat at her kitchen counter in the house that once had her entire family with her, allowing the fat droplets of tears puddle the framed photo that was still in her grasp. How she missed her family. And what she would give to have them here with her right now. Fortunately, Keoni was now at the mature age of twenty, who had decided to join the military at the age of eighteen to receive better funding for his college application and was now living somewhere overseas. Because he was often travelling overseas for missions, he could not risk having any contact with friends or family. For their safety that was. The unfortunate part was that Moana had not seen or spoken to her baby brother in two years. And it was no doubt that she missed him. She missed him a lot. He was always the one to put a smile on her face whenever she was melancholy. He often was the one to keep her company after having lost both their parents and grandmother. For he himself felt lost without them and found himself needing the company and love he didn’t get to receive fully from his family. And immediately, Moana had taken on the role of being his ‘second mother’, along with all the other motherly tasks. It was what maintained their strong bond. The quality times they spent together, talking and laughing, and Moana would hold him in the middle of the nights whenever he would experience nightmares about his parents. Just like how Sina used to do, Moana always sung him his favorite lullaby to bid him back to sleep, rubbing his back while she did so. And it only lasted until he had turned eighteen, and was off to the military.

Which left just Moana and her big sister, Mahina. Mahina had taken on the fatherly role of the household after her loved ones passed. Constantly out working and being the provider for the family. There were times where she made sure that her siblings had to food to put on the table. She often would take care of the outdoor stuff (mowing the lawn) while Moana herself would take on the indoor stuff (cooking and cleaning). After the passing of their loved ones, Mahina had slowly begun to distance herself from her brother and sister. She would often shut them out whenever they would get too close, or if they were to bring up mom, dad and gramma (which they often did). A lot of the times, just at the mention of their names, her tone was harsh and would always end with an abrupt slam of the door. Even their family dinners had begun to go downhill. Most of the times, after a long night of work, just like the typical North American parents would do, Mahina would share her own food, heat it up and then head upstairs and eat in peace with her bedroom door locked shut.

So when their brother had left, Moana recalled those times where she had tried on numerous occasions to reach out to her sister and to repair their bond. But Mahina often refused. She couldn’t be bothered. Her family had fallen apart so there was no point in attempting to repair the damages that were already broken and shattered into pieces. Often times, the house was always quiet. Neither one said a word to the other when they would arrive home from a long day of work. It was always the usual “Hey” and then they went their separate ways. Because Mahina had decided to dedicate her full attention to her career as a flight attendant, she was often travelling the globe and Moana would never usually see her sister on a regular basis like she used to when they were still kids. It started off as just her being gone for at least eight hours a day.

And then it gradually moved up to between twelve and twenty four hours.

Forty eight hours. Seventy two hours. Two days. Three weeks. One month.

She often came and went. Not a single word was exchanged between them. Not even an advanced warning to signal when her next flight would be leaving and how long she would be gone for. No communication whatsoever.

So one morning, Mahina, at the age of twenty eight, had left without a single warning. Her luggage was packed to its entirety. Moana had asked her how long she was going to be gone for, and she had responded with a ‘Don’t know. As long as it takes’.

And this time, she never did come back.

Moana wiped the tears from her face and gently set the photo down on the counter. A headache somehow made its grand appearance and was now invading her brain from her crying session. After lamenting about the thoughts of her sister’s mysterious disappearance, she suddenly remembered the other letter that she had received in her mailbox that she still had yet to read. Reaching for the second white envelope, no doubt that it was definitely from her sister, she tears open the slit and grabs for the folded lined paper that was inside.

Though her vision was still slightly blurry and her eyes and cheeks now puffy, it wasn’t until she felt a hammer gliding through her organs without a care in the world. Her eyes never left sight of the printed handwriting that stared back at her.

Moana,

It’s me, Mahina. I know I’ve been gone for three months now without returning any of your calls or emails, or sending you a check for the house every now and then like I always did. I decided to write you this letter because I don’t want to risk you finding out where I am had I emailed or called you.

I was wanting to tell you this for a while, but I didn’t know how. So I’m just going to say it like this;

I’m not coming back home.

There is nothing for me over there. I’ve met someone and I’m going to be living here with him. So if you get this, know that this will be the last and only time you’ll hear from me.

Take care of yourself.

-Mahina

Her breathing picked up once again. Growing more and more rapid. Realizing that her knuckles had almost no pigment left from her grasp tightening around the defenseless thin paper. She sputtered a sharp sigh, and immediately crumpled up the paper and threw it aside, not giving a care in the world if it ended up on the floor. Good. Let it stay there and drown in its own bitterness.

Of course her sister would be capable of doing something like this. She was aware that this shouldn’t have come off as a surprise to her. But part of her had been clinging onto the deepest hope that her sister would return home. She needed her home. It had been Mahina who was always reliable on helping out with the monthly payments and taking care of the mortgage. With Moana lending a helping hand, it was the two of them together that managed to keep the house in perfect tact for the past nine years since their loved ones passed on.

And now to receive this letter from her sister explaining that she is not returning without a reasonable explanation, she was thankful that she didn’t have to work on this tragic day. It was already bad enough that she had had to deal with her delayed payments and her sister not returning. To have to work on this day would’ve definitely put her on her death bed. And she meant that literally.

Without Mahina returning home, there was a very slim chance that the house would still be owned under the family name for that much longer. Without Mahina, she would be in greater debt than she was already in.

And the thought was definitely not making things any better.

And at this point, with so many emotions that were already overflowing in her system, the only thing she could do was bury her face in her hands.

Sliding farther down into her seat, she cried.

She cried. And cried. And cried.

She cried so much that she was now choking on her tears and sobbing. All of her pent up emotions flooding out of her so quick that she barely had a chance to blink. And she couldn’t stop.

She didn’t stop. And for the remainder of the morning, she allowed herself to drown in her own tears.


 

It was Saturday in the afternoon. Outside was spitting raindrops fluidly. Skies gray and dull, signifying that today was one of those days where peoples’ homes were calling them to stay indoors and curl up on the couch with a steaming cup of hot chocolate to numb dreary day that was currently taking place.

It was a Saturday afternoon and Maui was questioning why on earth he had to come in to work on this rather drab day while the weather outside was currently in its miserable state.

It was a Saturday afternoon (early evening) and Maui was beginning to grow more and more impatient with the client he was dealing with at the moment, who was currently present in his office, with her teenaged son who seemed to not have a single clue as to what environment he was in right now.

Part of him wishing that he could just end his day once and for all.

“For the last time, Mrs. Morrison,” Maui laced his fingers together and placed them on his desk, “your son needs to be eighteen years old for him to be able to open up a TFSA account.”

The woman shook her head, shifting in her seat. “Uh-uh. No. That won’t work.” She glared at him. Hard and punishing. “I want him to have this account opened now!

“I understand that, Mrs. Morrison.” He tried to sound as calm as he could, with what little patience he had left. “But your son is only fifteen years old-“

“So what? That should stop him from opening up something as measly as a TFSA account?”

He sighs, going to pinch the bridge of his nose. “My point is, your son is fifteen. He’s not working and-“

“So what exactly is that supposed to mean then?”

He chances a look at the adolescent sitting in front of him. Far too busy reaching his highest score in Candy Crush than actually paying attention to what was going on around him this very moment. Not that Maui would’ve expected to know a single word that they were saying, for it would most likely be another language to him to comprehend.

“Mrs. Morrison, might I suggest that you maybe…..open up a student account for your son instead?” He offered kindly. “That way, he could have access to his own money and-“

“No.” She shook her head, a stubborn look creeping its way on her lips. “Not a chance. I refuse.”

He furrowed his brow. “Well, can I ask why?”

And she lets out an exasperated sigh and throws her hands up. “Because, then that means that all he’s going to do is spend all his money! I can’t have that!”

“Well, Mrs. Morrison if he were to open up a student account, that way he could get a job and all of his deposits-“

“I said no! If he has access to the money in his account, then he will spend it!” She crosses her arms over chest. “That is why I want to open up a TFSA account for him instead!”

He mentally had to count to ten. Then to fifteen. He was mere seconds from allowing the frustration in him to spill over. “Mrs. Morrison,” his tone was a warning, low, “I’m going to explain this to you again.” He pauses, then speaks. “Your son is not at the right age to be opening up a TFSA account. He doesn’t even have a student account, nor does he even have a savings account. He has no job. So as a result-“

“Oh this is complete and utter bullshit!” She throws her hands up, and her son is still too preoccupied on his phone to pay his abrasive mother any mind. “I don’t have time for this!”

A knock on the door had come to his rescue. And Bob was standing in the doorway, forcing the woman to face him as opposed to the ‘lousy’ financial advisor that was seated in front of her. Which was fortunate for her, due to the fact that Maui himself was nearly on the verge of losing his temper.

“Mrs. Morrison, Maui.” The man nodded towards them. “I apologize if I’m interrupting-“

“We’re leaving!” She stood from her seat and snatched her purse. “That’s the last time I come to you people for any advice!” Bob himself looked stunned, cocking a brow as she give Maui one last glare. “Get up Tommy! We’re leaving!”

Unfortunately, the poor kid didn’t have a chance to exit his fantasy world of Candy Crush before he was lifted from the seat by his mother, grabbing onto his ear as she hauled herself and her son out of the office and stormed towards the exit, leaving a rather stunned Bob and a frustrated (although slightly relieved) Maui raking a hand through his hair, and finally breathing a sigh of relief.

“Another unsatisfied client?”

Maui wasn’t sure if that was a genuine question, or if it had been a matter of fact statement. Not that Bob’s tone displayed any sort of disappointment or annoyance. Or confusion for that matter. Bottom line was, it came off as sounding as a question mixed with uncertainty and knowing.

“She argued with me over opening a TFSA account for her teenaged son.” He gave an honest answer. “Turns out she didn’t quite agree with our policy.”

To his surprise, Bob just shrugged and rolls his eyes. “Ah, that’s typical. I figured as much.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Don’t be surprised.” The man shakes his head. “Us Canadians aren’t all that friendly either. We have our ‘cold side’ too.”

“Uh…yeah. I um, I’m kinda starting to see that.”

“I wouldn’t worry too much about Mrs. Morrison.” He shrugs again. “It is what it is. This isn’t the first time she’s been unsatisfied with us.” He chances a look down at his watch. “Well, it’s already 4:30. You’re free to go whenever you want.”

Thank Gods.

“Great. Could use the break for a while.”

Bob gives a curt nod. “Well, I’ll see you tomorrow.” And he disappears without another word.

Not that Maui had anything against Bob. He didn’t. Bob was always a friendly person. He always believed in making his colleagues and staff feel at home while being on the job. That was just his personality. A lot of the times, it seemed as if Bob would purposely come to Maui’s office just to strike up a random conversation. Again, it wasn’t like he absolutely despised his boss. But sometimes, his need to be sort of in-your-face a lot was a little too much for his comfort. However at the same time, it wasn’t like he had minded. It was just something that he was slowly beginning to get used to.

The bank itself was pretty much empty. Well then again, it was a Saturday evening so it wasn’t as if it had been bustling about since ten am this morning. So to say, it had been a quiet day.

A slow and quiet day that was.

Maui had just slipped out of his office. Black leather briefcase clutched under his arm and his black coat buttoned all the way to the top. Slipping the key to his office in the lock and feeling satisfied once the sound of the click was heard, it never occurred to him that he was not the only person who was currently locking up their own office at this moment.

“You taking off too?”

He looks up to find Nani herself locking the door to her office. Beige Danier coat was snug around her curves and her Michael Kors bag thrown over her shoulder. It was a good thing that her coat wasn’t too long in length, only stopping just above her knees. Which was lucky for Maui, seeing as he was able to admire those luscious coco skinned legs that had the closed toed black heels to accentuate them.

And he suddenly finds himself having to shake the thoughts from his head as he gives her a nod.

“Yea. Thank the Gods.” He says. “This day went by way too slow for my liking.”

Even when she chuckles, it sounds sexy. “Trust me, I couldn’t agree more.”
And somehow, he found himself joining in on the chuckling with her. “Is it always this quiet on a Saturday?”

“Pretty much.” She nods and places her hands in her coat pockets. “If you think Saturdays are bad, then you definitely won’t enjoy working on a Sunday.”

“That bad, huh?”

“Yup.”

He rolls his eyes and groans. “Great.” And suddenly he was dreading the thought of having to come in to work tomorrow. “I can hardly wait.”

“Ah, it won’t be so bad.” She shrugs and gives him a smile. “Besides, I’ll be there suffering with you too, so you won’t be on your own.”

And suddenly that gave him a sense of hope. And dare he think….excitement?

“Well, I guess there seems to be an upside to working on a Sunday then.” He smiles, his hands suddenly feeling clammy. “Guess we’ll both be drowning in boredom tomorrow then.”

“Yup! I guess so!”

“Well then, great. Looking forward to it.”

And then there was silence. A long one. Much too long for their comfort. His gaze never left hers. But hers did, after having realized just how intense his stare was. And she found herself clearing her throat, before she opened her mouth to speak.

“Um, well, I should get going.” She smiles out of politeness. “See you around, Maui.”

And as she’s turning to leave and make her way through the revolving glass doors, he feels it again. His insides twisting and churning. He could feel the word vomit wanting to make their grand entrance once and for all. No matter how hard he was fighting against it, he could never win.

Before he knew it, he quickly races after her to the parking lot and calls out her name.

“Nani!”

She turns, hand planted on the handle to her car door. “Yes? What’s up?”

He stares into her eyes. Inhales sharply through his nose and instantly, the word vomit flows out of his mouth. He blurts, “Do you wanna go for a coffee some time?” And he mentally wanted to scold himself for literally throwing himself at her right then and there.

His proposal had caught her off guard. He knew that for sure. Because judging by the pair of eyes settling on him that just turned two inches wider, it was clear that that was the last thing she had expected to hear from him. Never mind that the rain had finally cleared up and left the outdoors in a rather dampened mess with puddles of water here and there. Nor did they seem to be too concerned with the chill that soon followed.

She blinks once. And another. “Uh….wow, Maui…I um….I-“

“S-sorry!” He shakes his head and scratches the back of his neck. “I…I’m sorry….that was uh….that was a little out of the blue, huh?”

She pursues her lips. “Yea….” And she gives a slow nod. “It was….a little bit.”

He heaves a sigh, pinching the bridge of his nose. “Look, uh…I’m sorry for throwing that on you.” And he looks at her, gaze being honest. “I wasn’t….thinking clearly….”

“Maui-“

“You don’t have to say yes.” He quickly cuts in. “But, uh….if I’m being honest here,” he shoves his hands into his pockets and begins rocking slightly on his heels, “I think you’re a great person.” He studies her as he continues. “You’re kind. You’re really intelligent. And not to mention….you’re….beautiful.” He pauses. “Very beautiful, that is. And uh….I just….y’know…wanted to-“

“I’m gonna have to stop you right there.”

He keeps his mouth shut. Grateful that her interruption had put a block on the word vomit.

She looks at him. Chewing on her bottom lip, she sighs. “Look, Maui,” she runs a hand through her hair. “I’m….I’m flattered that you went through the trouble of….asking me out and all….” She pauses, and takes a deep breath. “But….”

But? Of course. It was no wonder why everyone hated the word ‘but’.

“Right now…..I’m not really looking….to start a relationship.” She finishes with a slight frown, and an apologetic gaze. “And….on top of that….I don’t typically date my colleagues either.”

Ouch.

He gave a curt nod at that. Suddenly feeling that his confidence was gradually beginning to diminish with each word that came out of her mouth.

“But don’t get me wrong!” She quickly came to the rescue once again. “You’re a great man, Maui. And….I’m sure any other woman would be lucky to go out with you.”

Typical.

Now it was beginning to make sense as to why he fell into the routine of allowing many women the opportunity to make the first move. Or to throw themselves at him and continue their little parties in his hotel room. One thing he absolutely disliked was rejection. His mortal and sworn enemy. No doubt that he has heard this line one too many times in his life. And truth be told, he was beginning to grow sick and tired of it.

“I understand.” He says and averts his gaze elsewhere. “I uh….sorry about that.”

She offers a small smile. “It’s okay.” And suddenly the guilt forms in her stomach. “I um…I hope this doesn’t affect our working together?”

“It won’t. You don’t have to worry about that.”

“Good.”

It was silent yet again. The only exception of rumbling vehicles speeding through yellow lights and the symphony of various honking from impatient drivers. And suddenly this arrangement was beginning to feel more and more uncomfortable with each passing silence that flew by.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Maui.”

He’s pulled from this thoughts yet again. “Yea. Sure. Take care of yourself.” He turns and makes his way to his Mercedes. He didn’t dare chance a look back as he slipped into his car and sped out of the parking lot.


 

This will be the last and only time you’ll hear from me.

Of course, the last thing she wanted to be doing was ringing down her sister’s phone. Not only was it bad enough that she had called over twenty times for the past hour that she’s been here. But it was worse that she was still at Bel Café and currently having to take a break from writing her article to phone her sister in a rather public setting.

No doubt that if her sister did pick up (though she highly doubted she would even after a twenty first call), the last thing she wanted was to be screaming in her phone and having people shoot her dirty glares or tell her to “shut up!”.

But thankfully, it was now six ‘o clock in the evening. Meaning that the café would be closing in half an hour. Herself and two other civilians being the last remaining three customers to still be present.

‘Hey, you’ve reached Mahina’s cell. Leave a message.’

BEEP!

Moana had to do everything in her power not to chuck her phone through the glass window. She had been right that even after a twenty first class, she would have no luck with her sister being courteous enough to just finally pick up the phone and to settle this dispute once and for all. But if one knew Moana very well, Mahina included, Moana was a person who never gave up. No matter how many times you try to stop her, chances are 95% of the time, she will just ignore you and do as she pleases.

And this time, she was not going to give up.

She couldn’t give up.

She demanded an answer. A reasonable explanation. And she wasn’t going to quit until she got what she was after. Even if Mahina was intentionally ignoring her constant phone calls, that wasn’t going to stop her. She would keep ringing her sister’s phone down until she grew some balls to pick up and fix this messy situation that she put the both of them in.

‘Hey, you’ve reached Mahina’s cell. Leave-‘

She hung up. Redialed and waited patiently for the other line to pick up.

‘Hey, you’ve reached Mahina’s cell-‘

And she repeated the same cycle again. And again. And again.

‘Hey, you’ve reached-‘

She slams her phone on the wooden table and roughly pulls at the strands of hair on her head. Resting her elbows on the table, fingers still digging through her scalp, she mentally calculates the number of seconds she has left until she explodes. But instead, settles on counting down from twenty. Then to fifteen. Ten. Five. One. Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale….

Her pulse gradually beginning to slow down its pace. She lifts her gaze from the mahogany wood below, settling on her rectangular device sitting patiently in front of her. The bright screen of her laptop staring at her, the three pages of half written documents waiting for her response, taunting her in the process like it always did.

Part of her was tempted to just tackle finishing what more of the article she could complete. At this point, it would’ve been the smart thing to do. Considering the fact that it is now Saturday evening. Gothel (her dear boss) had made sure to send at least five text messages a day reminding her that the absolute deadline for her article was still to be on her desk by Friday.

Friday morning at 9:30am sharp! No ifs, ands, or buts!

But she finds herself minimizing the three pages of the completed document and instead, pulls up the internet browser. Fingers hitting the keyboard in a swift manner, entering in Craigslists’ website in the search engine. Once the website came to life on her screen, she quickly logged in her username and password. Her profile now visible. Using her finger to guide the mouse to her Inbox (eager to discover if she had received any alerts or messages), she was disappointed to find that it still remained as it always did.

Inbox (0)

Those bold letters being the cherry to add to the icing. That had been the last straw.

Slamming her screen down, she heaved another sigh and buried her face in her hands. Not giving a care in the world at the curious glances from the other two customers being thrown her way. One looking at her as if she was mentally in check. The other just shook their head, clearly didn’t seem to give a damn anyways.

At this point, Moana had actually considered driving over to Rapunzel’s house and putting a bullet through that petite blonde head of hers. Why she had even let her best friend talk her into putting her house on ‘Craigslist’, she would never know. At the time, she had been so against it. Fearing that people would find out that it was a young twenty five year old woman advertising her house to find a roommate, and end up encountering the crazies, psycho serial killers/rapists, or just horny old men who were clearly just looking for fresh meat to prey on.

Thankfully, that hasn’t happened to her. She had just put her house up on the site a couple of weeks ago. So in a way, it was a good thing that she hadn’t received any of those kinds of messages. Not that she planned on having to deal with that any time soon. Or ever.

Because Moana had expressed many times on numerous occasions her worries about whether or not her sister was going to come back home, it was Rapunzel who had suggested that advertising for a roommate on Craigslist wouldn’t be such a bad thing. She had done it herself a couple of times and was thankfully still in one piece. But still, the thought of putting one of her bedrooms up for rent left an unsettled feeling in the pit of her stomach.

Of course at the time, Moana had been incredibly skeptical about the idea. After all, it wasn’t just her house. The house still belonged to her parents, so the thought of having to advertise her parents’ house on Craigslist only encouraged her to believe that she was literally selling not only hers, but her parents’ soul to the devil. The thought left an unsettling feeling to ache in her stomach. So after days and days of the pestering, the text messages and the numerous phone calls from her best friend at three ‘o clock in the morning asking if she had finally made a decision, she stubbornly agreed. Even though she didn’t want to.

It was Rapunzel who had reminded her that if Mahina didn’t return home any sooner, that she herself would be in debt. Which, clearly that ship had already begun to sail. And it was only a matter of time before thunder and lightning began make its first strike. Even though it was about two months too late, at this rate, it was better than nothing.

But with having to still be left with absolutely no messages or requests, her luck was slowly beginning to fall out.

And she wouldn’t have been in this situation if hadn’t been for Mahina.

Without a second thought, she picks up her phone. But instead of hitting ‘Mahina Waialiki’ (caller ID), her fingers are once again doing all the thinking for her as she finds her thumb hitting the pound key first and then beginning to dial her sister’s number one by one. (#416….)

Hitting the red ‘telephone’ shaped button, she inhales slightly through her nose and puts the phone to her ear. The ring was hollow in the base of her eardrum. Closing her eyes and holding what little breath she had left.

Ring…..

Ring…..

Ri-

“Hello?”

Exhale.

All of her breath pouring out of her like pouring milk out of milk carton. Eyes snapping open, gasping at the voice on the other line that picked up. The voice that was all so familiar. The voice she never thought she would hear for as long as she lived.

“M-Mahina?”

“Um…yea….may I ask whose calling?”

Another intake of breath through her nose. Hand balled into a fist. “Mahina….i-it’s me.” Her voice was faint. So faint. So small.

“Sorry….what? Me….who?”

“It’s me….” She held her breath, and says, “Moana.”

“….M-Moana?”

“Yea.”

It was silent. Lasting far too long for Moana’s comfort. And far too long to have her worried if her sister had thought to quickly make her exit.

“….Oh.” That was all she could say. Oh.

“Yea…..Look I-“

“I can’t talk, Moana. I’m hanging up-“

“Mahina wait!” Her other hand reaches for the phone, as if to reach through the receiver and grab her wrist to stop her from leaving. “Just…don’t hang up.”

“Moana, I really can’t-“

“Just listen to me, Mahina! Please! I-“

“No. I’m getting off-“

“Mahina please!” She nearly shouted into the phone, grateful that she was now the only customer still lingering. Only to have the baristas shoot her a curious glance. “Please! I-I….I really need to talk to you..”

“Moana-“

“Please just….just….” She has to exhale, even her own sigh wavered in a shaky pitch. “Just listen to me.”

It was silent once again. And this time, Moana was convinced that her sister had yet again abandoned her in her desperate time of need.

“Mahina?” She asks. “A-are you still there?”

And the heavy sigh that follows on the other line confirmed that she was wrong. “Yes, Moana.” She sighs. “I’m still here.”

“O-okay.” She whispers. “Um….how-“

“Why did you call?”

Moana swallowed. A hard and heavy lump before answering her sister’s question. “Because….I um….I needed-“

“You called my phone twenty six times in the past hour and a half, Moana.” She winces. The ice in her sharp tone confirming the suspicions she had all along. Her sister had been ignoring her calls. “I figured you would’ve gotten the hint and just given up altogether.”

“I know. But….I really needed to talk to you.”

“Why?”

Even still, her words cut deep like a sharp knife.

“I got your letter.” She says without a care if it sounded blunt or not. “It came in the mail today.”

“Oh.”

(That’s all you have to say? 'Oh?!) Now that was the final straw. "Why aren't you coming home?"

 

Another bout of silence continued between the phone lines.

 

“Moana, I’m not having this-“

 

“Why the hell aren’t you coming home, Mahina?!” She scolded between clenched teeth. “Huh? Why aren’t you?!”

 

“Moana-“

 

“Answer my question! Why aren’t you-“

 

“Because I can’t Moana!” The woman nearly yelled through the receiver. “I explained everything to you in my letter!”

 

“Telling me that you’re not coming home is not a reasonable explanation, Mahina!”

 

“Moana-“

 

“And saying that there’s nothing over here for you anymore?!” She balls her hand into a tight fist. “I….what the hell is that supposed to mean?!”

 

“Will you just stop-“

 

“Those are not good excuses, Mahina!”

 

“Well what more do you want from me then, Moana?!”

 

“I want an explanation!” Because she knew damn well that she deserved one. “You know that I’m sick, and you know that I can’t handle maintaining the house on my own!”

It was silent on her end. Now that shut her up.

“You know that I’ve been struggling for the past three months without you!” She spat. The tears beginning to make their appearance yet again. “And you know that I’m ill!”

She sighs. “Moana-“

“I’m sick, Mahina!” She’s choking on a sob. “I’m sick and I’m struggling!” She swallows. Stinging her throat. “And you decide that you’re not coming back when I need you the most!”

And she goes quiet again.

“Mahina….” Her voice is croaky, wavering with the numerous emotions polluting her organs. “Come home….”

“I can’t-“

“Please come home!” Her tears spill down her cheeks. “You have to come home. I….I can’t do this….” Choking on another sob, “on my own.”

Her sister goes silent.

“Please, Mahina. Just…..” She uses her other hand to wipe at her tears. “Just come home…..please!”

Her sister made a sound between a sharp inhale and a sigh. Her little sister sounding so desperate, and so hurt, she was almost tempted to book her plane ticket from wherever she was and just rush on home. Moana listens as she opens her mouth to speak on the other line, hopeful.

“I….I can’t come home, Moana.”

Moana blinks. Mouth agape. And she has to choke back another sob. “But, Mahina-“

“We both know why I can’t come home.” Her tone is icy. No compassion present. “Like I said, I’ve already explained everything to you in the letter. That’s why I sent it.”

“Mahina, please….don’t do this.”

“Moana, I’m not coming home. I may not ever come back home.” Ouch. If this is what it felt like to have a knife slowly gliding through your organs and puncturing the flesh and blood, then Moana was indeed not a big fan of that at all. “That is just something that you’re going to have to accept.”

“But I need you! I need you to come home!”

“Moana-“

“Mahina, I’m in debt right now!” She leans back in her chair, voice shaky from the sob that wants to escape. “If you don’t come back home, then we’ll be forced to sell the house!” Five. Four. “Please, Mahina! Just…please come back home!”

Three.

“I’m not coming home, Moana. My decision is final.”

Two.

“Take care of yourself.”

The phone clicked. Her sister was gone. Without another word.

One.

Just like how she predicted, the sob was out of her mouth and muffled in the meat of her palms. Hunched over the table, shoulders shaking with each sob that escaped.


 

It was clearly a stupid idea.

So stupid.

It was by accident that Maui, while finishing up the process of organizing his online files that needed to be completed for work, that he stumbles upon the website.

Well, not exactly stumble per say. It was more so the fact that curiosity had definitely got the best of him and he finds his thick fingers typing in the website that he last expected to resort to. He moves the mouse on his laptop and clicks on the link, only to have the website come to life on his screen.

Craigslist.

(Such a stupid idea)

He found himself questioning why on earth he had let his boss, Bob, even suggest the idea of searching for a decent place to live on Craigslist. The idea of course didn’t sit well with him. He had heard his fair share of horror stories about stuff that happens to people when they resort to Craigslist in a desperate time of need. It started off great (just like how relationships do when they first begin) and then outcome of the results seemed to always end in a scam, or some sort of tragedy that Maui himself did not want to even illustrate in his head.

So the question he still had remains:

Am I really that desperate to resort to something as stupid as Craigslist?

(Yes. Yes you are. Clearly you are since you ‘accidently’ happened to stumble upon the God damn site in the first place! Smooth, dude. Smooth)

And without even thinking, he’s scrolling through the website. Houses and apartments of various shapes and sizes. Some were the same old plain rectangular houses with the usual red or beige bricks. Other houses shaped in a rather interesting manner. It was like brushing through a catalogue searching for the most classic black tux that was enough to make a man look sharp with a pair of shades to add to the mix.

(Why am I doing this?)

He finds himself clicking mindlessly on the given links. Completely ignoring that same question that was still on repeat in his head. With each link to different photos of various houses and apartments he’s come across, all pretty much said the same thing.

Furnished Apartment for Rent
$1200/month

Beautiful Waterfront Condo for Rent
$1345/month

Architecture Student look for Roommate
$950/month

And the list went on. And on again for another twenty minutes. Groaning at the sight of these images was only causing the migraine in his head to throb even more than it had been before. His fingers may have been doing all the physical work. And yet, his mind was still preoccupied with the same question he kept asking himself. Repeating the cycle over and over.

Clicking. Searching. Groaning at the prices that seemed to love being over a thousand dollars a month. And the motion repeated once again.

Gay male looking for a roommate to rent basement. *Preferably MALE roommate*
$1736/month

Maui cringed at the last one. Rolling his eyes in the process as a hefted another loud sigh. Being stuck in a rather crummy looking library on a Saturday evening while continuously searching for houses or apartments to rent was not exactly how he planned to spend the rest of his evening. Sure, the library was quiet, even somewhat spacious, but the atmosphere was still stuffy. There were at least nine other people who had had the same idea as him. Some had come to finish any outstanding work that needed to be completed, while the others decided that it was rather too loud at their own homes to grab a good book and read.

He had never really been a big fan of libraries to begin with. Working or reading at home was how he preferred it. But then again, being at the Vancouver Public Library was a much option of having to be stuck in that crammed box of a motel room. And besides, the library itself left a rather unique scent. Unlike that disgusting motel of his.

Unfortunately for him, Craigslist was his last option. It was either this, or spend possibly another month suffocating at the Silver Starr Motel. As much as he despised the idea, Craigslist was indeed a much better option at this point. Besides, the thought of him having to spend another wad of cash on another lousy real estate agent was the last thing he wanted to do.

(Craigslist it is then).

Even if he was only on a contract for about a year, Maui was typically picky when it came to living arrangements. Over the years of his travelling to many various places –Europe, and even Asia included- he had been fortunate enough that his work had been the ones to handle the living arrangements. The outcomes were generally good reviews from his part. All contained a rather clean environment, tolerable civilians who made sure to keep their distance and not invade his personal space (which was how he preferred) and were within a good distance from his work environment. So to say, he was used to living in nicely furnished houses and condos. Something that wasn’t too old, or too new. It was the perfect blend of modern/contemporary.

As he was continuously scrolling through the different ads, the farther he went down, the more the houses were becoming slightly more appealing.

Images of modern looking houses flicked his line of vision, beginning to reel in his interest. All different shapes and sizes did look somewhat impressionable. But some of them did not look like home. Sure, he wanted everything modern on the inside for sure, but the exterior had to be a blend. Of course, he wasn’t just interested a newly built house, but he desired to find something that contained an echo of years gone by with a modern twist. Something he felt could carry him more into his future, something he could for once in his life gain a sense of belonging and even security. And he wanted something that would at least give him some sort of comfort. At least some place he felt at home.

Some of these houses were indeed beautiful and even looked as if the original owners had put grave effort into making sure that their house was polished and presentably clean. But the pricing had been an issue. There was no way he could afford to pay over $700 a month.

At this point, after having spent the past hour scrolling through various ads, Maui was ready to call it quits and aim to try again tomorrow.

And then his gaze settled on something that immediately caught his eye.

Room for Rent in beautifully furnished Home.
*Looking for a roommate of any gender*
$500/month

And he found himself immediately drawn the vivid photograph of what looked like a beautiful house that seemed to have been cut out from Architect’s Today Magazine.

He clicked on the link. Much to his surprise, he wasn’t disappointed of what came next.

The exterior of the house was beautiful. But not in the olde-world quaint kind of way that he was usually drawn too. It wasn’t too new, or too old. Everything about it was fairly new, but still very simple. It wasn’t as geometric like the other modern houses he came across. The skin of mellow gray bricks looked as if they were brand new, but instead they gave off a rather warm feeling. It was decent looking, with the usual two door garages to add to the mix.

Then he moved to click to view the next photo.

The room that was offered made his motel room look like he was living in a box. Although he was only looking at a measly photo, the room itself looked vivid. It was as if he had been searching through for a catalogue for the best room décor. It looked spacious enough for him to breathe. And from the angle the photo was taken, he could easily make out a private bathroom located on the right side of the bed. The floors were carpet material, which was how he preferred and the bed itself had a headboard and the mattress seemed like one could easily walk on marshmallows. And to mention, his very own desk would be much nicer for a change.

He skimmed through the other photos the house had to offer. From a spacious kitchen, to a warm cozy living room, the dining room to even viewing a brief sneak peak of the backyard with a small deck that had its own little table, he found himself unable to move to another ad. Instead, he took the time to read over the criteria that was required.

I have a room in my house that is available for rent for a single occupancy of any gender. It is available to rent out any time. It is located on the East side in the Suburbs of Vancouver, British Columbia in the heart of the Sunset Neighborhood. This house is located….

The more he read, the more every word and every syllable began to reel in his interest more and more.

The only downside was that it wasn’t located in the heart of Downtown Vancouver like he had hoped. But right now, that didn’t seem to matter. At least he felt that he was getting somewhere.

I am looking for:

-A housemate of any gender (male or female)
-Single occupancy
-Friendly, sociable, responsible, respectful to others
-Clean, doesn’t do drugs, no smoking in the house
-Professionals and even mature students with a stable income
-I don’t mind if you have any pets, I love animals

It was a good thing for Maui that this person didn’t seem to strike him as the ‘high maintenance’ type. Well, aside for the friendly and sociable aspect, he was making a steady income. And he didn’t smoke. Nor did he do drugs.

Pets?

He honestly couldn’t be bothered with pets. And clearly, it didn’t seem like this person was all too anal about having an animal in the house or not. As long as they kept their distance and didn’t overcrowd his space, this seemed like a reasonable place to live.

His eyes scanned over the last of the criteria.

The bed-room will be on the upper level, large and spacious size, is furnished, the rent will be $500 per month and is all inclusive for long term.

$500 per month? Now that was in his price range.

Feel free to Contact me any time. Tell me a bit about yourself. If there is a considered match, I will be sure to get back to you ASAP!

Please Contact: Moana Waialiki

Moana Waialiki? Interesting name. He could only ponder if the name was foreign. Maybe even Polynesian like himself?

Email Address: MoanaWaialiki@gmail.com
Cell Number: 905-883-6790

Part of him was tempted to just grab his phone and start dialing her number. But part of him had to control the excitement he was feeling. The house was perfect. The amentities that it provided, the cleanliness and not to mention the reasonable rent?

Clearly there was not much time for him to waste any longer.

Bottom line, he needed a place. If he was going to stick to his guns and get himself out of that god forsaken box of a motel, then so be it. Screw the horror stories of serial killers sneaking into your bedroom at night. Screw the foolish bits about rapists sexually harassing you in the kitchen when your back was turned.

After his eyes scanned over the name and the contact info for about two minutes, Maui didn’t even have a chance to blink before he had called up his email account in the next browser and clicked to compose a new message.

(The hell are you doing Maui?)

He hadn’t realized his own fingers were shaking. Each finger typing in one letter at a time.

(I can’t believe I’m actually doing this!)

He sucks in a deep breath. Frowning at the bright screen that reflected off his face, he continued on.

Hello there Moana Waialiki…. He began typing.


 

It had taken her longer than usual to finally return home. Probably from having to pull her car over numerous times and just sit here and cry into her hands. Crying from the phone call with her sister. Crying from the stress. The numerous amounts of bills she had yet to pay. Possibly losing her beloved home. Her health.

Everything.

Moana’s literally a sobbing, rumpled mess as she numbly throws her dishes in the sink. She couldn’t be bothered to clean up the dirty dishes that still had slithers of chicken gravy and broccoli juice still present. Dirty dishes weren’t her main priority right now.

(Damn that stupid Mahina!)

She closes her eyes and massages her temples. Her eyes still puffy and cheeks were still flushed from the sobbing sessions that lasted all the way until she parked her car on the driveway. Right when she needed her parents the most, they were no longer present.

She had thought about calling up Dr. Parr, but decided that maybe it wasn’t such a good idea. Considering the fact that Helen herself was already worried enough about Moana’s health as it. She didn’t need to know the details about her debt and her sister’s no return.

So she had called up Rapunzel instead. Sobbing and hiccupping into her phone while she had been parked beside a curb. And because Rapunzel was always the type that fed off of other people’s emotions, it wasn’t long before she herself joined in on the crying fest. She wasn’t sobbing as much as Moana had been, but her own hiccupping had taken place.

Moana had poured out everything. Her sister. Her bills. Losing her house. Not receiving any notifications from Craigslist.

Being the supportive friend she was and through her own tears, Rapunzel had done what she always did best. Spilling out encouraging words of wisdom and hope, telling her continuously that everything was going to be okay.

And truth be told, it seemed to calm Moana down. But the thoughts of everything that had boiled down today only caused the distress to resurface in her body.

She hadn’t even remembered that her laptop had still been on and running when she heard a ding. Probably signalling a new message of some sort. Part of her was tempted to just slam her computer closed and just bury herself in her room and not come out ever again. But as always, curiosity had gotten the best of her. So without even thinking, she finds herself dragging her tired feet across the hardwood floor and settles herself at the kitchen table where her laptop is present.

She calls up her email account. And her eyes transition to at least two inches wider than they had been.

Inbox (1)

Craigslist: Maui Deeming is interested…

She clicks to open the mail without a second thought, and finds herself gasping at the message that was in her line of vision.

Hello there, Moana Waialiki it read;

Let me start off by introducing myself first. My name is Maui Deeming. I’m in the process of looking for a place to live at an affordable price. Then I stumbled upon your ad.

Moana had to do everything in her power to stop herself from delving into a heart attack.

Your house looks very beautiful and is neatly furnished, which is how I prefer it. Seems to me as though you like to keep your house clean (another thing that I prefer). The room that you are offering would be perfect for me.

I do not smoke. I do not do drugs. I have a stable income. I work as a financial advisor at TD Bank, located in Downtown, Vancouver. I am a male (of course) and I am thirty-three years of age.

And she nearly gaped at the last part of his message.

If you haven’t already found someone, I am interested in renting out the room you’ve provided. If you have any further questions, feel free to reply back to this email, or you can text/call me at 289-445-3785.

Hoping to hear back from you soon.

-Maui Deeming

No issue. Not even a second thought. It was as if the Gods themselves had answered her prayers of distress. And after three long weeks of the waiting and the losing hope, this was exactly what she had needed.

She put a hand to her mouth. More tears escaped. But tears of happiness. Choking down a sob, she quickly moved her fingers across the keyboard. Eager to send back a response as quick as possible.


 

Maui didn’t even get the chance to blink when two minutes later, there was already one unread message that popped up in his inbox.

(No way!)

Inbox (1)

From: Moana Waialiki

And he had to remember to keep his cool on the down low. After all, he did have an image he needed to protect. Biting his lip, he moved a cautious hand towards the mouse and guided to clink on the unread message.

Hi there Maui!

This chick (or was it even a chick?) already seemed quite eager.

Thank you so much for messaging me! I’m thrilled that you are interested in renting out the room!

Yea. Definitely a little too eager for his liking. Maybe even a tad bit perky?

No one has claimed the room, so you’re in luck! I appreciate you taking the time to tell me a little bit about yourself. Yes. Cleanliness is a big thing for me. Keeping a clean house has always been my foreplay.

That was good at least.

I’ll tell you a little bit about myself. I am a twenty-five year old young woman. I work as a journalist at one of the most well-known magazine companies, Dream On. I have two siblings – but they no longer live with me. So it’s just myself.

If you have any more questions, shoot me an email and we can get started from there!

Thank you so much! Hope to hear from you soon!

-Moana Waialiki

Maui would be lying if he said that little bit of the part where she works at Dream On magazine didn’t impress him. It did. A lot. Which in his case, was a bit weird. But that wasn’t important. The important thing was that he was in. And the fact that this Moana chick seemed just as eager to allow him the opportunity to rent out the room to her house only began to make the rest of his night seem a little bit more enjoyable.

Without even a second thought, he was hitting the reply button and typing his response back.


 

Ding!

Not even a minute later and already her inbox had one unread message. She bit down her lower lip and clicked on the message.

Hey Moana,

Thanks for getting back to me so quickly. Really appreciate it. And thanks for telling me a little bit about yourself.

Glad to know that you’re a female (your name sounds much too beautiful to be a guy’s name).

Her flushed cheeks turned a tad darker than before at the words ‘name’ and ‘beautiful’.

If this doesn’t seem too forward, I would like to meet up in person to discuss more about this. Would tomorrow afternoon work for you?

Let me know.

-Maui

And she responds back just as eager.


 

‘Your name sounds much too beautiful to be guy’s name’

(Did I really just say that?)

He drags a hand down his face and slides deeper into his chair.

(Smooth, Maui. Real smooth)

He made a mental note to cure himself later. The thought of him attempting to flirt with some strange chick whom he’s never met did not sit well in his stomach. For all he knew, this ‘chick’ could be some crazed lunatic serial killer. Or worse. His words could’ve probably turned her off altogether. Which would eventually lead him back to square one.

(Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.)

He peels his fingers from his eyes and fixes his gaze on his screen. Shocked to find that there was indeed another unread message that appeared swiftly in his inbox.

From: Moana Waialiki

He takes a sharp intake of breath and clicks open the message. Bracing himself for a possible rejection. But to his surprise, he’s breathing a sigh of relief as the message was far from what he had feared.

Hey Maui,

Yes of course! The sooner we can meet, the better!

How about we meet at 12:30pm? Lalotai Café? Downtown Vancouver?

Let me know!

-Moana

Maybe she was the type of chick who appreciated compliments like that. Considering the fact that he wasn’t left feeling like he had lost his chance. So he composes another message and hit ‘send’.


 

Moana eagerly clicks open the new message in her inbox. Biting her lip from grinning like the Cheshire cat and holding back the happy tears that wanted to escape.

Hey Moana,

12:30 at Lalotai sounds perfect. I’m not very familiar with downtown just yet, but I’m working my way up there.

I’ll be sure to put it in my GPS.

Again, thank you for getting back to me. Looking forward to meeting you tomorrow.

Thanks again.

-Maui

Now part of her was really considering what this Maui fellow was like. And if he really was as sweet and charming as he sounds in his messages. But all that she would figure out tomorrow.

So instead, she hits the ‘reply button’ and is quick to send him one last response before she’s closing her screen shut, breathing a huge sigh of relief and whispering a silent ‘thank you’ before the tears of happiness begin to take over.


 

And it’s the last message he receives that has for what seemed like eternity, a soft and genuine little smile creeping at the corner of his lips.

Hey Maui,

Perfect!

So it’s settled then! Tomorrow, Lalotai, 12:30pm! Can’t wait to meet you!

Thank you so much for your interest! Looking forward to tomorrow!

Have yourself a good night!

-Moana

Now he could finally return back to his crappy motel room in a more content state. Closing his laptop, he sighs and leans back in his chair. His mind beginning to ponder something he never would have thought in a million years he would do.

One thing. Things with Nani didn’t turn out the way that he hoped.

Two. With this Moana chick, Maui couldn’t help but suddenly begin to think if Moana would be just as beautiful in person as her name sounded.

And three. He would be lying right now if he said that he didn’t feel a tad of excitement at the thought of meeting this Moana chick.

Only time would tell.

Chapter Text

12:25pm.

Twelve hours. Twenty five minutes. And exactly twenty two seconds.

She made sure to check her watch a second time. And each time she checked, she was satisfied with the fact that for once in a while, she was on time. More than on time actually. She was five minutes early. A record she had reached in what seemed like forever.

The good news was that it was a little bit warmer than the weather forecast on her IPhone had predicted. Actually, it was much warmer. Sitting at tender temperature of fifteen degrees. Which was a lot warmer having given the past few days that were cold, rainy, gray and miserable. So standing outside the entrance of the Lalotai café wasn’t the worst decision she could have made. The weather was nice, so it didn’t matter all that much.

Chancing another look down at her watch – 12:26pm it read – she wondered if he had already been in seated inside the building. If he had been, then standing outside and waiting for what seemed like a miracle was probably not the best idea she came up with. But then again, it wasn’t like she wanted to step in and end up having to be the first one there. That probably would’ve turned him off? But then again, he did say that he appreciates cleanliness, so maybe that stood for something?

(Get a grip! Damn it!)

How Moana found herself in this situation, she would never know. One minute, she had been bawling her eyes out and was ready to give up on life for good. And then the next, she ends up stumbling upon an email from a potential roommate. If this was a sign from the Gods, then she’d be damned if she hadn’t have taken full advantage of this opportunity. So of course, being the courageous young woman she knew she was destined to be, without a second thought she took the plunge and went for it. Just like she had done back home in Kohala when she had ventured out onto the ocean.

If she could handle almost losing her life to the rapid seas back home, then surely she could handle something as small as interviewing a potential roommate.

Right?

She fiddles with her phone. 12:27pm. Part of her wondered if she had missed a message from him by any chance. After venturing off to bed that night, she had sat her laptop this morning and made sure to call up the email once again to locate his cell number. So, she had sent him a quick text, letting him know the location and time for their meeting. He had responded explaining that he would be there at 12:30pm sharp.

Once the time reached 12:28, she takes a deep breath, braces herself for the unexpected that was about to come, and bravely steps in through the entrance. Lalotai was one those buildings that were often misleading. Sure, it may have looked like a measly little building on the outside, but the inside shared a different story. It was one of those buildings that opened up to a much larger room, spacious enough to fit around twenty customers at a time, or sometimes more. If Moana was being completely honest, it wasn’t her favorite café. Sure, she had suggested it in the emails, but only out of courtesy for him.

For her, it was a little too spacious for her liking. The lights were low, which casted a slight shadow over the room, causing this to illuminate the deep purple walls in an apocalyptic way. She wasn’t one for the gloomy and haunting effects, but at this rate, it was better than nothing. Plus, Lalotai was on her list of cafes she needed to taste test. So, it was both an advantage and disadvantage all at the same time. The music was okay. She could easily pick out the undertones of a glam rocky bass line, but thankfully the crowd was louder for her to tell what it actually was.

She pushed her way through the throng of customers. Surveying her surroundings, almost every table had been taken up, and the line stretched almost close to the entrance. Great. Immediately, she felt suffocation slowly creeping to her bones. And one thing she absolutely despised was feeling as though she was claustrophobic. Not to mention, some of the customers here seemed to have forgotten what the term ‘manners’ really meant.

She had to scurry away from the crowd, clutching her laptop bag to her chest and eventually sought refuge at the end of the counter where people were patiently waiting for their drinks to be made. Taking this as an opportunity, she searched through the crowded vicinity and was disappointed to find that she wasn’t able to locate her potential roommate. All the seats and tables were full, so there wasn’t even room to find a seat for herself.

(Fantastic)

“Um, excuse miss? Little lady?”

She turned abruptly. Realizing that the voice behind her had come from a rather sassy looking brunette middle aged woman. The frown dented on her face didn’t much for the wrinkled lines that were just beginning to form. No doubt she was just an impatient customer that just seemed to enjoy making everybody else’s lives miserable.

“Yea, if you’re not buying anything, can you move out of the way so us customers can get our drinks?” She sneered. “Cause you’re blocking the way!”

She blinks rapidly before she answered. “Oh….um….I’m sorry-“

“Can you just move out of the way?!”

And then a frown crept on her features. “Look, ma’am, I’m just waiting for-“

“Do I look like I care?” The woman enunciated each word carefully. “Just move!”

Her mouth opened and closed a few times. There was no use in standing here to start up an argument with some old and miserable geezer who probably didn’t have much going on in her life at this point. It wasn’t like it was news to her. She knew there was a reason why she didn’t particularly prefer Lalotai, and that was because of the type of customers it attracted. This woman being the prime example.

With a quick glance towards the crowded scene, and then chancing another quick scowl in the woman’s direction, her only response was to huff under breath and force herself to stray away from the counter. She glanced around the café again, scanning to see if there had been a spot that was left just for her. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

Two teenaged girls giggled obnoxiously while using their phones to take selfies to upload onto instagram sat a table to her left. It seemed as if their latest photographs were more important than the expensive mocha Frappuccino’s that sat untouched. To her right, an old married couple sat arguing and bickering about why their marriage is falling apart (well, it was mainly the woman pestering her husband to pick up his dirty clothes once in a while). And of course, the husband didn’t look the slightest bit interested in having to hear his wife’s constantly blabbering for what seemed like forty years.

That was good ol’ Vancouver for you.

Planting herself in the middle of the café, she reached for her phone and was just about to dial his number to send him a quick text, only to have a voice snap her head up and she turned in the direction behind her.

“Hey pretty lady.” A man seated behind her sneered. “You lonely?”

She didn’t have to stand that close to him to inhale the musky scent and the residue of cigarettes that lingered in his breath. And truth be told, his yellow stained teeth didn’t seem to be much help to the situation.

“I’m actually waiting for someone.”

His grin grew wider, and she couldn’t help but cringe under the lustful gaze he was sending. “Small world, so am I.”

She cocked her brow. “Oh yea?”

“Mhm.” He hummed, nodding slowly, bloodshot eyes raking over her from head to toe. “For you, that is.”

She kept her gaze trained on him, and realization hit her. Though she silently begged that this could not be the man that she was supposed to be meeting today. If it were, then he definitely lied in his email. This man had clearly just smoked at least three joint of cigarettes, for the smoky scent still lingered in his breath each time he spoke. And not to mention, the scent of BO leaked off his body, signified that he probably had not showered in two days. And the gray hairs peaking from his Vancouver Cancucks beanie pretty much confirmed that he was nowhere close to being in his thirties. The wrinkles and lines on his face proof of his aging.

Sucking in a deep breath, feeling what little hope she had left, she spoke. “I’m sorry but….you wouldn’t happen to be….Maui by any chance?”

“Who?”

“Maui….” She furrowed her brow. “As in…Maui Deeming?”

Even when he let out what sounded like a snort mixed with a chuckle, she cringed. “Maui?” He shook his head and rolled his eyes. “You’ve got be kidding me! What kind of name is that?”

Closing her eyes, she out a sigh of both frustration. And relief. Of course. There was no way that a name like ‘Maui’ could belong to an old Caucasian man who clearly seemed to have nothing going for his life. His career most likely consisting of smoke ten packs of cigarettes a day. Not to mention, sneaking in to cafes and searching to prey on young women.

“I didn’t think so.” She muttered under breath. “If you’ll excuse me sir, I’m waiting for someone else.” And she turns and continue surveying her surroundings in search of this ‘Maui’ dude.

“Awww, c’mon! Don’t be like that, sweetheart!” Her back grew stiff. “I can be this ‘Maui’ character if you…y’know….want me to be.” He sent a wink in her direction, though her back was still turned. “I do like em…young and hot….and exotic…..”

Inhaling sharply through her nose, she turns back to him and fixes him with a glare. “First of all, don’t call me sweetheart.” She scolds. “And second, never will I be interested in an old geezer like you! So I would really appreciate it if you’d stop trying to hit on me! Okay?”

Her words didn’t seem to register, judging by the mischievous grin he was sending her. “Has anyone every told you that you’re insanely sexy when you’re upset?”

“Can you just….leave me alone, please?”

She groans and is about to locate a safer spot to wait, only to feel the pressure of her wrist being yanked back. Now crouching face to face with the man she wished to never see again.

“C’mon, sweetheart,” The residue of cigarettes hits her nose, and she’s tempted not to throw up, “I can be real nice once you get to know me.” His rusty fingers slowly climbed up her skin. “Come on, what do you say….we ditch this place, eh?”

“Let go of me.”

“You and me….I can take you back to my place for a little….fun….”

“Let. Go. Of. Me.”

“So sexy.” His mouth now pressed to her ear, hot breath sending chills down her skin. “Oh….the things I would do to you-“

“I said let go!”

Yanking herself free from his grip, she would’ve been successful had she been able to race toward the exit. Only to find that yet again, she hadn’t been. The good news was that she did manage to escape. The bad news however was that due to her clumsiness, she had somehow lost her footing and now ended up falling backwards. Only she didn’t end up on the ground like she thought. Or that she had hoped. The sound of an “oomph” confirmed her suspicions. Only the sound didn’t come from her.

So to say, she had ended up falling into someone else’s lap. The last place where she had expected to fall. Only, it wasn’t just a random stranger’s lap she was lying on. Her arms wrapped helplessly around a pair of broad shoulders. Much too broad for even her hands to fit around fully.

“Uh…excuse me?”

That voice sounded familiar. A little too familiar. And she hoped to the Gods that this couldn’t be who she though it was. No. It couldn’t be. She gulped, her gaze slowly venturing toward where the voice had come from. Only to be met with those eyes. Those same eyes that hinted the anger in annoyance. Those same eyes that she encountered at Nemesis Café. Those same eyes that she once again ran into at Metro Supermarket.

Oh no!

The man whom she never wanted to see again.

The same man. His gaze flashed heat waves as he looked down at the pathetic woman who had somehow fallen into his lap.

“For Christ Sakes!”

She blinked. Mouth agape. “I-I….I-“

“Ugh! This is a nightmare!” He glared down at her. “You! You again?!”

“I-I….I’m sorry-“

“Okay, chick,” He raises his hands in surrender, “seriously! Are you out to get me or something?”

“I-what? No! I-“

“Cause if you are, just tell me and I’ll back away!”

“I….” She shook her head. “No, no! I-I’m so sorry sir! I didn’t mean-“

“Yea, yea you didn’t mean to fall into my lap!” He rolls his eyes. “Yea, I got that.”

“Sir I….look I didn’t-“

“Look, chick, for the last time, I’m not interested in hearing what you have to say.” His brows dented, and Moana couldn’t help but cringe at his abusive gaze. “So save it.”

Normally, this would be the part where she would jump off of this man’s lap, bid him one more failed attempt at an apology, and race out of the café and hoping to never be seen again. But instead, for some strange reason, Moana only found herself lingering in the same position. Much longer than she had anticipated. And for some reason, she couldn’t seem to take her eyes off the man glowering down at her. His sun kissed skin, dark eyes, and his thick wavy locks of hair that curtained his broad shoulders. For some reason even when he still had that scowl denting his thick eyebrows, she found herself unable to move, and her breath was hitched in the back of throat.

“Excuse me, do you mind?”

She blinks rapidly. His gruff voice taking her out of her trance. “W-what?”

He lets out a loud huff. “Do you wanna take a picture or something? Cause I heard they last much longer.”

“Oh!” She blinks again. “I-I’m sorry-“

“Look, like I said before, save it.” His tone shifted to a lower note. “Now, do you mind?”

“Um….yea! S-sorry, I um…” Then her gaze ventures to his shirt. It was still freshly clean without a single smidge of a stain present on it. Then she cranes her neck to gaze at the small table. His black coffee still remained untouched, steams of smoke seeped through the hole. Then she turns to give him a small smile. “Well um…at least your shirt is still clean….”

He cocked a brow, though the glare was still on his features. “And you’re still sitting on my lap.”

And her smile immediately vanishes as she realizes that her hands were still pathetically wrapped around his broad shoulders. And the fact that she was still indeed in some stranger’s lap as the heat rushes to her cheeks.

“Oh! I um….” She scrambles off his lap with what little dignity she has left. “I….” She straightens herself up and gives him an apologetic look. “I’m really sorry sir, I-“

He holds up a hand to silence her. “Chick, has anyone ever told you that you babble too much?” He raises an eyebrow. “Or the fact that you’re still a klutz?”

She sighs. “Okay, sir, look, I really-“

“And I really don’t care to hear what you have to say.” He brings his coffee towards him, still glaring at her. “Besides, I have a meeting with someone right now. Alright? So can you kindly make yourself useful and leave?”

“I…..” She takes a deep breath, and speaks, “Look, I just….I feel really bad that-“

“Okay, Chick? Curly? Curly haired chick? Or whatever your name is?” He shakes his head and she gapes at his name choices. “I have a meeting right now…..with some…..” He starts to think, “with some…Moana chick, alright? So can you please-“

“Wait a second!” She cuts him off, which in turn he gives her a pointed glare. “Did you just say that you’re….meeting a person named….Moana?”

“Yea.” He says in a matter of fact tone. “Moana….Moana Waialiki? Or something like that, now for the last time, can you please just-“

“Are you…Maui?” She asks cautiously. “M-Maui…Deeming?”

“Um….yea!”

“Oh….”

(SHIT…..)

“Wait a second….” He leans back and stares her up and down, suddenly looking skeptical. “How would you know my name?”

“Um….well I….”

(SHIT! SHIT!)

She’s squirming underneath his impudent gaze. Tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, she speaks. “It’s um….it’s nice to meet you then, Mr. Maui Deeming.”

He stares at her. And he blinks. “What?” He seethes.

“I’m…Moana.” She says. “Moana Waialiki that is.”

And suddenly, the aggravation in his eyes soon switched to a look of pure horror. Eyes widening twice the size of its width, and Moana could’ve sworn she saw a bit of the color drain from his face. That’s when it hit him.

“Wait……” He slowly slides backwards in the booth. “You…..you’re Moana?”

“Um, well, last time I checked.”

“Oh gods…..”

“Look, Mr. Deeming,” She slowly moves towards him. “I-“

“Okay first of all,” He chances a quick glance at his coffee still standing proudly. Then he looks at her. “You stay there and do not come any closer!”

“W-what? Well, why-“

“Okay look….Moana? Curly? Moana…. Curly Haired….. Chick…. Waialiki? Or whatever!” He waves his hands. “Look, I just got both my shirts dry cleaned the other day, okay?”

“What? I-“

“And I’m not wearing my ‘don’t spill coffee on me’ sign today, either!”

“I-I don’t under-

“So therefore, I’m really, really not in the mood to have coffee spilled all over me again! Alright?”

“Wait! Just…just hold on-“

“Don’t come near me!” He slides farther into the corner of the booth, glaring with his finger still pointing at her. “I’m warning you, Chick.”

My name is not Chick! She’s tempted to scream the phrase at him, feeling all of her patience suddenly running so thin that she didn’t even have a chance to prepare herself for. But instead, she fixes him with a rather impatient (albeit sympathetic) look, swallowing down whatever comeback she was desperate to say. The thought of causing a dramatic scene would definitely not resolve this rather sticky situation.

Instead, she sighs and says: “Look, Mr. Deeming, I’m not here to cause any harm.” She looks at him wincing slightly under his glare. “Believe me, I…I just-“

“You sure about that? Caauussee….for some reason, I’m not buying that.”

Another sigh. “Look, if we can just-“

“Nope!” He shakes his head in a frantic rut. “No, nope, no! Nada!”

“Wait…no…?” She furrowed her brow, blinking. “No to…what?”

“I knew this was too good to be true.”

“Wait, what? I’m not sure….I’m understanding-“

“Okay, look,” He put up a hand to stop her from going any further, while still cowered away in the far corner of the booth, “I think it’s quite obvious that this is not gonna work.”

“What??” Her eyes bulged out of their sockets. “W-why??”

“Look, Curly, we both knew this was too good to be true alright? So….” He stares at her, frowning and shaking his head. “Let’s just…pretend that this….” He gestures between the both of them, “did not happen. Agreed?”

She had to do everything in her power not to let her jaw drop all the way to the ground. Shaking her head, a wave of panic washed through her insides as she tucked the same strand of hair behind her ear and placed a hand on her hip.

“Um…Mr. Deeming, look, we can work this out, okay? If you just-“

“I’m not going to live with someone if I’m gonna have coffee spilled on me every day! Alright? So like I said…..” He cranes his neck over the booth, estimating just how quickly he could make a race for the exit without having to take a quick shower in yet another coffee mishap. “You stay, I’ll go.”

“But Mr. Deeming-“

“Hey, hey! Stay back!” He glares, pointing his finger at her just as she took a tentative step closer. “Stay! Don’t….just stay there and….and…..don’t move!”

“Mr. Deeming-“

“Look,” He says as he’s slowly sliding towards the edge of the booth, with leg out and ready to make an exit, while keeping a cautious eye on her movements. “I’m getting out of here. You just….stay like a good girl and-“

She takes another step closer. “But it doesn’t have to-“

“Hey!” He puts up a hand and was successful sliding off his booth as he stood and took a step backwards. “Don’t even think about coming near me! You stay back before-“

He goes to snatch his coffee from the table. This time, he’s the one at fault as his fingers slip from the cup and the coffee spilled all over his shirt and the cup drops and lands on the ground with a clink. The roasted liquid beans claiming their territory on his freshly cleaned shirt. His lips pinched, and he’s inhaling sharply through his nostrils, and gives her deadpanned look. She clamps her hand over her mouth, noting the numerous glances and curious stares being sent in their direction, and she can’t help but squirm slightly under the scrutinizing gazes boring into both their persons. Thankfully, the music could be still be heard over the fiasco. Glancing at the puddle around both their feet, she chances a shy look at him, hand still clamped to her mouth, and then her gaze travels down to the sight of his now stained shirt.

(At least it wasn’t me this time. So that counts for something….right?)

She winces, chancing a glance around her (noting how even the baristas looks of disgust are planted on their faces), and then faces him. Slowly bringing her hand down from her mouth, she opens her mouth to speak.

“Are-“

“Don’t. Say. Anything.” He seethes through gritted teeth, and then looks down at his shirt. “Christ Sakes.”

“I-“

“Save it.”

She chews on her bottom lip and gently places the bag containing her laptop inside on the table of the booth. “Let me get some napkins for you.”

“I said-“

“I insist.”

This time, it’s her who’s raising her hand to silence him, which in turn he gawks at her. He has no time to object before he’s watching the Curly haired young woman race to the dispenser where napkins, straws, sticks and three containers of packaged sugars are. Sighing heavily and pinching the bridge of his nose, it isn’t long before she’s back in a flash and squatting down to wipe what coffee she could manage with only three measly strips of napkins.

Which in turn, doesn’t take what looked like a bored (and aggravated) looking teenaged janitor to roll the bucket of water and immediately begins to mop the floor dry.

“I’m so sorry.” Moana says meekly to the janitor. “It was an accident.”

The bitter employee only grumbled, mumbling something about how he hates his job and how he hates people. And it’s no wonder why Moana herself feels slightly embarrassed, as she chances another look at the rather large and hulking man still glaring down at her with a deadpanned look and a massive stain on his shirt. And she suddenly wasn’t doubting the fact that he would most likely put the blame on her for this unfortunate mishap.

The scowl on his face said it all.

“Are um…are you okay?” She asks him as the cranky fetus of a janitor makes his exit. Tucking another strand of hair behind her, searching his profile for an answer. “I’m sorry that-“

“Does it look like I’m okay?”

She stares at him, blinking. A sigh. “Look, I know you’re upset, but-“

“Okay, okay, y’know what?” He rolls his eyes, having no choice but to surrender his victory. “You win, Curly, okay?”

“I….what? What are you-“

“Look, it’s obvious that you’re clearly out to get me for….” He pauses, frowns, and shakes his head, “whatever reason that is.”

“I’m not....” She furrows her brow. “But-“

“You caught me red handed! Alright? Happy now?”

In turn, Moana only stared at him. And he thinks that I’m insane? If it wasn’t for the fact that this big sack of muscle was looming over her with a massive coffee stain on his shirt, she would’ve thought that this man was a complete lunatic with a rather unique (more like crazy) imagination. But the fact that he was waving his hands around like a maniac (not giving a damn if the people around him thought he was some sort of psycho path), for some reason caused her to react in a way she never in her life thought she would.

A smile begging to tug the corners of her lips. “You think that I’m….out to get you?”

“Well, yea!

“Well….what on earth would make you think something like that?”

“Exhibit A!” He points to the brown splash of a stain on his freshly (and most favorite) white shirt. “Do I really have to explain myself to you?”

Before she had a chance to think, she finds herself chuckling. “Mr. Deeming, I’m not-“

“Excuse me?” He raises his brows, though the annoyance is still in his tone. “Does this seem funny to you?”

“I….” She chews on her bottom lip, trying to fight against the second chuckle that’s begging to be released. “No….I just-“

“Cause, I’m trying to be serious for once!” He fixes her with a scowl. “And it seems like this is all a joke to you!”

“No….I…you’re right!” She claps her hands together and places them in front. “I shouldn’t have-“

“You are out to get me!” He grumbles through grit teeth, pointing an accusatory finger at her. “Aren’t you!”

“Wait, whoa! No, no, no! I’m not-“

“Liar!”

“Okay, look, Mr. Deeming,” She sighs and fixes him with a soft smile. “I’m not out to get you.” She says. “Nor did I mean for you to have coffee spilled….all over your shirt….again.”

He huffs. His hand going to rake through his curly locks. And Moana almost has to force herself to remove her gaze from the movement of his hair.

(Those long, dense, curly locks that just-)

“How about I get you another coffee?” She blurts without even realizing the offer was off her tongue before she had a chance to think.

He cocks a brow and takes a tentative step backwards. “Uh….yea….I don’t think so.”

“Please? It’s the least I can do for all the havoc I’ve caused.”

“And I’m not planning on having a repeat of that, Curly.”

She sighs, sneaking a look over at the line of customers waiting patiently for their beverages. If snagging this man a free coffee was the way to go, then nothing was going to stop her. Even if he keeps declining her offer. She didn’t care.

She was definitely not going to let this opportunity slide with just a snap of two fingers.

“Seriously.” She turns back to him, and the look on his face is a portrait of pent up anger with a mix of confusion. “What would you like? I have no problem getting-“

“I already said no!”

“And I am insisting.”

For once, it was Maui who felt the idiot. His only response was to just stand there, glowering down at this runt of a chick who was much shorter than him. He practically dwarfed her in every shape and form. Her brown eyes searching his, and it was he who suddenly felt anxious under the weight of her soft gaze boring into his. She may have looked soft and sweet on the outside, but the look in her eyes told a different story.

Determination was what he saw.

And with a man like Maui, he would be lying if he said that what he was seeing wasn’t intimidating him. The thought kind of scared him a bit. He was always used to having the last word. But this time for some strange reason, it was odd not having the superiority over him.

“So, what would you like for me to get you?”

He blinks. Once. Another. “Black coffee.” He says without thinking. “Two sugars.”

And all of sudden, he feels his insides go all funny at the sight of seeing her radiant smile beaming on her face. “Sure.”

He’s watching as she eagerly joins the lineup ahead. The sight of those curly black locks bouncing with each step she’s taking. And for once in his life, Maui Deeming isn’t sure if he’s supposed to just continue standing there looking like the epitome of “My Life Sucks”, or if he should’ve just made a run for the exit like he should’ve done in the first place.

He gladly would’ve done so had he gotten that chance.

Heck, he would be lying again if he said he didn’t have the desire to do so right this very minute. And truth be told, he could.

He had the perfect opportunity to do so.

Her back was turned so she couldn’t see him. It seemed like Lalotai itself was beginning to dimmer down with more of its customers deciding to call it a day and head out. He wouldn’t have to push (in his case, pick up and throw) anyone out of the way to make it to the exit without being seen.

It was right there. It was calling him.

But for some peculiar reason, his feet just wouldn’t budge. As if someone had glued his feet to the ground without him even realizing.

(That damn smile of hers glued my feet to the ground!)

And as always, it seemed as though life wasn’t exactly finished screwing him over.

“Hey.”

He looks to where the voice was coming from. And he finds himself frowning down at the last person he expected to see. Feeling slightly disappointed. “That was fast.”

She gives a small chuckle. “Turns out the line wasn’t as long as I expected it to be after all!”

He’s still frowning. Then he finds his gaze suddenly travelling down the tray of what looked like three coffees in their paper cups with the bright Magenta font of Lalotai plastered around them. Now, it was no longer the fact of not being able to escape when he had to the chance. Curiosity got the best of him as he questioned all of sudden whether that coffee of his was going to end up in his belly, or all eventually find its way back home on his shirt.

(Don’t trust her!)

“Did you….wanna take a seat?”

His brows are still dented and he shakes his head. “I guess.” Again, without even thinking.

“Great!” She slides onto the opposite side of the booth with the tray of three drinks still in hand. “Are you gonna sit?” She asks, noting how he’s still standing there looking as if he was lost.

He looks at the empty booth on his side. Then takes another look at her, shrugs his shoulders. “Sure.”

She can’t stop the smile creeping at the corner of her lips as he unenthusiastically slides back into the booth. ‘The booth of doom’ was more like it. She noted how he’s staring at steaming cup of coffee that’s still sitting in the tray. Immediately feeling a tinge of regret planting in her stomach as she realized her actions were definitely the cause of his sudden distrust with coffee.

“Um, here.” She gently takes the cup of out the tray and puts it in front of him. “It’s still very hot.”

Maui in return narrowed his eyes, cautiously darting between the coffee and her. “I’m not sure if I drink that.” Unsure if he should consider trusting her.

She furrows her brow. “Why not?”

For all I know, you probably poisoned it! And he was actually considering that she may have done so. Maybe she wasn’t as innocent as she made herself out to be. “I’ll put it this way; is it actually going to end up in my stomach like it normally should? Or…..should I just accept the fact that you’re definitely out to get me like I initially thought?”

Moana sighs, resisting the urge to do a face palm. Instead, she fixes him with a warm smile. “I’m not out to get you.” She looks at the still steaming cup, then back up at him. “Honest. You can trust me.”

Me? Trust you?” He snorts and shakes his head. “Yea…I don’t think so.”

“Just try it.”

He stares at her. Chancing another look down at the cup of roasted beans standing tall and proud. The aroma begging him to empty its contents into his stomach. He was hesitant. Very much so, even though part of him wanted to just grab the cup from the table and gulp down the hot beverage without a care in the world.

(It’s a trap! Don’t do it!)

"Black coffee and two sugars?"

"Yup!"

“Fine.” Maui grumbles, cautiously sliding the cup towards him. He cradles the cup in both his large hands, takes a sniff, and leaned his head over it in the rising steam. (Don’t do it!) Inhaling a sharp breath and pursuing his lips, he blows softly over the clouded surface before tips the cup to his mouth and finally for what seemed like eternity, allows the savoring taste of freshly brewed coffee slither and dance amongst his taste buds.

It was a relief that he wasn’t foaming at the mouth like he thought. Or the fact that the coffee had actually found its way into his stomach instead of on his shirt. It was just a good old cup of black coffee and two sugars.

“How is it?”

He nearly forgot that she was still sitting there in front of him. His line of sight trailed to hers, both eyes locked on one another. Her gaze hopeful, noting how she was chewing on her bottom lip in anticipation. He takes another sip and places the cup down in front of him.

“Good.” He gives a curt nod. “Tastes good.”

And her smile was back. “Good.” She’s beaming. “I’m glad.”

He finds himself cocking a brow. “Yea.”

“Well then….great!”

He resists the urge to roll his eyes. This chick was obviously way too perky for his liking. But it was either this deal, or back in that Motel for possibly another month.

Looked like the deal was his only option.

“So…..” Her fingers fiddling. “Shall we get started?”

And the eye roll makes it entrance. “That’s why we’re here aren’t we?”

“Oh, of course!” Her smiles is stretching much wider than she anticipated. “Just let me…..” She takes her own two steaming beverages from the tray and sets them on either side of her. “….get my notebook and pen from my bag and we can get started!” She grabs her bag and is sifting through the contents of her purse to retrieve her red notebook.

He answers with another grumble and takes another sip of his coffee.

“Alright!” She lays her notebook flat out in front of her, with the same annoyingly (somewhat radiant) smile still plastered on her face. “I’m all yours!”

He stares at her. Something about her words suddenly beginning to seem unsettling.

“So, tell me about yourself.”

He cocks his brow a second time. Again, resisting the urge to roll his eyes at the question. (Is this a job interview that he wasn’t aware of, or…..?) He’s about to open his mouth to speak, when the sight of both those two coffee cups are sitting on either side of her.

“Guess I’m not the only one who loves caffeine.” He mutters.

She blinks, somehow feeling lost. “Sorry, what?”

He nods towards the two cups. “And I thought I had a problem.”

“Oh! They’re not really mine.” She pauses. “Well, they are, kind of. I usually prefer tea. I’m actually not a coffee person.” She scrunches up her nose and frowns at the small mocha sitting to her right. “At all, really. I mean, the only reason why I have it here is because my psycho witch of a boss is forcing me to write an article based on which café’s sells the best mochas and lattes. So I figured that, y’know, I might as well get my mocha here at lalotai and……” She was suddenly aware that her words didn’t seem to be heard. “…..you’re not really interested in hearing about my article….or in fact my issues….are you?”

His hand encircles his cup, sighing and shaking his head. “Not really, no.” He takes another sip of his coffee. “So, are we gonna get on with this now or what?”

She nods. “Right. Sorry. Okay, on to business.” She grabs her pen and is ready to begin writing. “So, Mr. Deeming, where-“

“Maui.”

“What?”

“There’s no need to call me by my full name.” He scrunches up his nose. “Sounds too formal. Maui is fine.”

“Alright. Fair enough.” She gives a small smile. “So Maui, why don’t tell me a little bit about yourself.”

“Like what exactly?”

“Well, for starters, are you from here? Vancouver, or Canada that is?”

“Nope.”

“Okay…..so where are you from?”

He has to think for a minute. “Grew up in Chicago with my family.” He shrugs. “But was born in Savali’i.”

“Savali’i?” This reels in her interest. “That’s an island in Samoa….right?”

He gives a curt nod.

“Oh, that’s cool! Amazing actually!” She smiles. “So you’re of Polynesian descent then!”

Another curt nod.

“Wow, I mean, I guess we have….at least something in common then, huh.”

And this time, he lifts a brow. “How so?”

“I’m Polynesian as well.” She says very eagerly. “My family and I are originally from Kohala, Hawaii.” And the smile is back. “We moved up here to Canada when I was eight.”

“Interesting.”

“Yea….” She tucks a fallen strand of hair behind her ear. “Its um….it’s kinda nice to know that someone else shares the same ancestry as you.”

A curt nod from him.

“Especially since we’re both Polynesian and the fact that it’s…a little rare to discover people like us.”

He presses his lips into a thin line, growing more impatient by the passing minute.

She mirrors his movements with her own, noting how his body language was shifting. Her cue to get back on to business. She clears her throat and quickly changes the topic. “Um, so Maui, you work say you work as a financial advisor.” She reaches for her own cup of spewing green tea. “How do you seem to like it?”

He shrugs and gulps down his last drop. “It’s alright I guess. Nothing really special.”

“I see.” She nods. “How long have you been working in that field for?”

“About nine years.”

“That’s still a long time though.” She gives a small smile. “Sounds pretty impressive.”

“Yup.”

Silences follows for a bit. The undertones of a rather melancholy rock band sounding in the background being the only exception. Not to mention, the animated chatting and giggling from the other customers around them still lingered. Moana, suddenly feeling that the awkward silence between them was lasting much too long for her comfort was desperate to put an end to it.

“Um…so,” She takes a quick sip of her tea and grabs her pen, “what about your family?”

He looks up at her. “What about them?”

“Are they still around?”

He finds himself frowning at her question, then shakes his head. “No.” He sighs and leans back against the leather cushion of the booth.

“No?”

“They’re back home in Chicago.” He shrugs. “Just like they always were. And just like they always will be.”

“Oh….I see.” She taps her delicately on the table, studying him. “Do you at least keep in touch with them?”

“Nope. Don’t really care to.”

“Oh….” And she finds her own frown forming on her brows. “Well, do you mind me asking-“

“It’s really not that important.” He huffs. “They’re no longer in the picture. End of story.”

And she finds that her smile is slowly beginning to fade. “Oh.” Suddenly feeling like a nosey parker. “Sorry for asking.”

“It is what it is.”

“That makes sense, I guess.”

More silence follows shortly. This time it was much awkward than it had been before. It mainly consisted of Maui looking bored out of his mind, while Moana had once again found herself unable to take her eyes off him. Studying each of his features carefully. From his luscious black locks, to the way how the dent in his eyebrows creased, his broad shoulders, down to bulks of his arms-

“Sorry!” She hadn’t realized it was her who blurted the word and in turn, broke the silence yet again. “Um, how about we move on to a more…..lighter subject?” She offers with a genuine smile.

Another shrug from him.

“Do you have any pets? Dogs? Cats?”

He stares at her. Eyes clearly unimpressed. “Do I look like I a person who would own a dog?” He pauses. “Or even a cat?!”

She chews on her bottom lip. The chuckle ready to burst. “Well, I didn’t just want to assume things, or anything….”

He slaps a hand to his face and drags it downwards. “Next question, please.”

She lets the chuckle slide under her breath. “Are you married?”

He immediately rips his hand away from his face. “Excuse me?”

“Uh……or…?” She offers instead. “…do you have…like a significant other?”

Maui glared at her. “Are you actually being serious right now?”

“Well, I have to-“

“What kind of a question is that?

“Uh….a normal one….”

His glare hardens. Face now deadpanned. He blinks. “Noo! I’m not.

For some reason, she had found herself feeling a slight relief at the confirmation of his relationship status. He was single. Just like she was.

“Alright.” She scribbles in her notebook (a little bit too eager there). “Any kids perhaps?”

And he gives her that same deadpanned glare. “You’re trying to smite me, aren’t you.”

“What? I…I-no! No, I’m not. Whatever that means….”

He’s scowling at her. “I don’t believe you.”

“Trust me Mr.Deem….I mean, Maui.” She sighs. “It’s crucial for me to know these things…since you’ll soon be moving into my house.” She explains. “So, no….I’m not trying to….smite you….or anything like that…”

He just stared at her. Unconvinced of her words.

“So….do you have any kids….or not?”

“The answer is no, I do not have any kids.” He grumbles, beginning to feel somewhat violated at this point. “Happy now? If I’m not married, then what would make you think….” He pauses, groans and impatiently gestures towards her, “…and I’m sorry, but is there a reason why you’re documenting everything I’m saying?”

She pauses from scribbling in her notebook even further. Tilting her head up to look at him, gaze curious and slightly confused. “Um, well, like I said…..I’m don’t know you…so therefore it’s important for me to keep note of these things….”

“Well, personally, I don’t know you either and truth be told, I’m starting to feel a little bit violated right now.”

She blinks rapidly. Lip quivering up as she shakes her head. “Well, you have no reason to feel that way, Maui.” She goes back to writing. “Believe it or not, this is for my safety as well.”

His only response was a huff. He goes to pinch the bridge of his nose, then chances a look down at his watch.

“Yea, so…..how much longer do we have here?”

She looks up. “Oh, I’m sorry…are you in a rush?”

“Uh, yea, it’s 1:10, and I gotta be back at work by 1:30.”

She suddenly checks her watch. 1:10pm. Crap. “Shit! I’m sorry! I…didn’t know it was so late!” She shoots him an apologetic look. “I didn’t think it would take this long.”

“Well, we wouldn’t really be in this position had you not spilled coffee on me for the thousandth time.”

“But I didn’t….” She pauses. “I didn’t….spill the coffee on you this time.”

He quirks a brow. “Stop lying.”

“But I didn’t!” She drops her pen and fiddles her fingers. “Well….at least not…physically.

“Just you being here made me spill my coffee!”

Pinching the bridge of her nose, she sighed and shook her head. “You’re not gonna let this go….are you?”

You try spending two hours washing your shirts on delicates and then spend another ten minutes ironing them….” He stops, noting the amused look on her features. He clears his throat and shakes his head. “You better not write that down.”

And she couldn’t stop the grin from creeping on her lips. “So, it’s obvious you take pride in your appearance then.”

“Well, you should know that it doesn’t take me only ten minutes to get looking this good.” He gestures to himself. “Besides, you’re a woman. You should know.”

She chuckles and rolls her eyes. “Trust me,” She takes another sip of her tea, “I know the pain.”

He scoffs and rolls his eyes. And for once, Moana could’ve sworn that she caught glimpse of a tiny grin tugging at the corners of his lips. A genuine grin for once. But that only lasted for about a second or so before the scowl was back on his face.

“Alright well,” She suddenly couldn’t find any other questions to ask. “I think that covers just about everything then.”

He shrugs, chancing another look down at his watch.
“You don’t smoke.” He shook his head. “Or drink.” He shakes his head again. “You like to keep a clean place.” A curt nod. “And you’re willing to pay $500 a month to rent out the room.” Another curt nod.

“Time.” He taps his watch. “1:12. Can’t be late.”

“Right.” She nods. “Sorry, I know you have to go, but, just a few more things I want to cover.”

He huffs and rolls his eyes.

“Where are you currently living right now?”

He sighs. “At the Silver Starr Motel.”

“Oh….” She scrunches up her nose. “You’re living there?” She shoots him a sympathetic gaze. “That’s….one of the most horrible hotels in here in Vancouver.”

“Would’ve been nice to have known that beforehand.”

“Yea, I’m sorry about that.”

“It’s whatever.”

“Okay well, how soon would you like to move out?”

“By tomorrow.”

“Tomorrow?” This suddenly catches her attention. “Um…so soon?”

“Uh, yea.” He says matter of fact. “I can’t stay there any longer.” He folds his arms on the table. “I need to get out at some point.”

“Oh…um….” She rakes a hand through her curly locks, surprisingly beginning to reel in Maui’s sudden interest. “Alright, it’s just…” And she suddenly remembered that her house wasn’t exactly in its cleanest state. “….actually, never mind. I think that can be arranged.”

“Thank Gods.” He mutters.

“Okay so…..around what time would you be arriving?”

He thinks for a minute. Then he shrugs. “I dunno. 6:00?”

(6:00 didn’t sound so bad. Right?)

“Okay, sure.” She closes her book. “That can work.” She smiles. Those damn articles can wait. “So, I’ll just give you my address, and we can take off from there. Sound good?”

“Sure.”

“Great!” Suddenly, she was feeling much eager than she had anticipated. “Here.” She rips a page from her notebook and scribbles down the contents of her location. “This is my address.”

He stares at her for minute, and then he takes the scrap of paper from her hand.

“I put my cell number on there too.” She’s still smiling. “So, if you get lost, then don’t hesitate to shoot me a text…or a call. And then I can…help you from there.”

He’s carefully inspecting the handwriting. (At least her writing was neat. Very neat.)

She chews on her bottom lip, and then looks down at her watch. 1:17. “Sorry, um, before you go….”

He huffs. Growing impatient at the passing time. If this chick makes me late for work, so help me….

“…Um…is there anything you want to ask me?”

He quirks a brow and looks up at her. “….Like what exactly?”

Her brows creased slightly, though the smile was still on her features. “Um…well…is there anything about…me in particular that you would….I dunno….like to know about?”

He ponders over the question. Then he shrugs his shoulders and shakes his head. “Nope. Not really.”

“Really? A-are you sure…?” She furrows her brows. “Cause…I just thought-“

“Do you smoke?”

“Well, no…but-“

“Do you drink?”

“…not really, but-“

“Got any pets?”

“No…”

“You married?”

She shakes her head.

“Got any kids?”

She shakes her head again.

“Are you secretly a prostitute?”

“What?” She pulls up her nose, eyes alarmed. “No! Absolutely not! I-“

“Are you a secret spy? Criminal?”

“Okay…no! But-“

“Are you a psychopath? A serial killer? A rapist?”

“Wha-NO! But-“

“Psychopath? No. Rapist?” He looks her up and down. “Nah, you’re too small to be rapist.”

“Wha-?”

“Serial killer? No. A klutz?” He pauses and gives her another once over, and cautiously leans back. “Definitely.”

“Um…excuse me? Okay, hold on-“

“Alright! Then my job here is done!” He shrugs and moves to slide off the booth. “I’ll see you tomorrow then.”

“But wait!”

He groans and turns back to look at her. “What now, Curly? My time is pretty crunched right now.” His shoulders slump.

She blinks rapidly. Staring at him and somehow, she was at a loss for words. “So….that’s everything then?”

“Uh, yea!” He rolls his eyes. “Look, I don’t have much time, alright? I’ve got all that I need to know. Happy now?”

“Uh…well…” He had a point. She knew that. “…I guess so…”

“Great, so can I go now?”

She shakes her head and sighs. “Sure.” And then she offers a small smile and slides out the booth to stand before him. He’s quirking a brow as she takes a tentative step closer towards him. But still far enough to give them some distance. “Well, it was….nice to finally meet you, Maui.”

He pinches his lips together. “You too, I guess.”

She gives a slight nod. Unable to take her eyes off his. “I um…I look forward to tomorrow.”

He gives a curt nod.

She clears her throat. “Well, get to work safely.” She says, tone soft and light. “And I’ll see you tomorrow at 6:00.” She tentatively lifts a hand toward him, smiling.

He furrows his brows. Eyebrow tilting as his line of sight trails to the movement of her hand lifting towards him. Normally, Maui wasn’t ‘hand shaking type’. It was a weird gesture for him. And judging by her especially, he wasn’t sure if he should just smirk and turn around to leave, or if he should just suck it up and be polite for once in his life.

After all, she was allowing him to move in to her house. Especially at a reasonable price. It wasn’t exactly final, so there was still time for her to find another suitable roommate and kick him to the streets. There was no way her was going to throw away this opportunity.

Inhaling sharply while taking one last look at her extended hand, he lifts his own hand and meets it with hers. “Yea.” He finds himself wincing at the sudden tingly feeling that’s running through his body. A warm feeling that’s suddenly feeling foreign to him. And dare he say a tingly feeling that unexpectedly feels….good? Great?

There was something about her grasp that felt….warm. And….welcoming. Trustworthy even.

(What the hell is wrong with you? Not today, dude! Not today!)

“So, tomorrow then.”

Her voice suddenly breaks him from his thoughts. Noting that her tiny hand is still enveloped in his large one. It was even stranger that she herself didn’t seem to want to let go of his grasp. And strangely enough, he didn’t seem to want to do the same.

“Uh, yea.” He’s back to his senses and quickly rips his grasp from hers. He clears his throat. “Sure.”

“Great.” Even there was something about her smile that seemed so genuine. Kind. “See you, Maui.”

Even when she said his name, it sounded….beautiful?

(Stop it!)

He gives a curt nod. “You too, Curly.”

“Moana.”

“Right.” He huffs, finding the original feeling he had towards her. “Moana.”

And when he turns to leave and is heading out there, he didn’t even have to look back to know that her gaze was boring a hole into his back. For once in his life, he’s confused. Very confused. So when he steps outside of the stuffy café and is making his way to his black Mercedes that is parked just at the curb beside the location, he can’t help but pause opening the door to his car any further.

And he suddenly turns to gaze at the through the large glass window with a view of inside Lalotai’s café. And it just so happens that his line of sight landed on the view of the young Polynesian woman who was now sitting by her lonesome with her laptop now open in front of her. And Maui found that for some reason, he just couldn’t take his gaze off the young woman.

Furrowing his brow, his eyes watched her every single move. Studying every feature. Those long curly locks cascading down her back. Her smooth coco skin. The way how her red fitted off the shoulder top clung to her nicely toned body. The way how her small fingers moved so swiftly across the key board. The adorable way her lips pursued when she was in deep thought. The way her eyebrows creased with intense concentration-

Adorable?

(Did I just admit that? Yes, yes you did!)

He shakes his and quickly hauls himself inside his car. Sticking the key ignition and sighing in relief as the engine roared to life.

(Get a grip on yourself! She’s nothing but a child compared to you!)

He grumbles in annoyance as he’s speeding out of the parking lot and racing through the beautiful city of Vancouver.

Though his mind was preoccupied with the thought of possibly being late for work, he couldn’t erase the tiny thought of a certain Polynesian Curly Haired Klutz.

(God damn it!)

Chapter Text

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this….

Maui had to mentally shut his brain off from repeating the same phrase over and over again. He had been asking himself the same question from the minute he had waken, all the way until now. And truth be told, he would be lying if he said that he wasn’t already annoyed with the amount of times he continuously repeats the inquiry. Even at work when he had been with a client, it was the only thing he could think of.

I can’t believe I’m actually doing this….

There it was again.

He forced himself to release his grasp from the steering wheel. He hadn’t realized how tight his grip had been until he noted that the pigment in his knuckles were fading. He sputtered a sigh, mentally counting down from ten and peered up at the clock on his dashboard.

5:57pm.

If Maui himself had the answer to his inquiry, he would’ve gladly had taken that opportunity to have filled in the pieces to the missing puzzle. But sadly, he didn’t. And the worst part was, he didn’t think that an answer was coming to him anytime soon. He knew that there would be no answer to this question.

How he found himself sitting outside 628 E 46th Avenue, as always was beyond him. The house was standing in his line of sight. Tall and proud on its own feet.

Her house that was.

And soon to be his new house. Only until his contract is up. That wouldn’t be until next year though.

For now, that wasn’t his main focus.

5:58pm.

He reaches into his jacket pocket to grab the folded strip of paper. He unfolds it, though it still remains in its wrinkled state and his eyes skim over the contents of words and phrases. 628 E 46th Avenue, Vancouver, BC. At least he thought it was the right address. It had to be the right address. After all, she herself seemed eager enough for this decision to take off. So at the end of the day, it wasn’t like she would have intentionally given him a fake address.

Would she?

No! Of course not! There was no way she would seem like the malicious type. It wasn’t like she gave off the kind of vibe when they eventually met in person yesterday afternoon.

(Wait a minute…..)

Was she?

Moana Wailiki: 905-883-6790

At least her number was the same as it had appeared on the ad. It was the same number for crying out loud! So of course this was all legit. At least I hope. Shaking his head and grumbling, knowing that he was overthinking this whole thing. The important thing that he needed to remind himself of was the fact that he and Curl - …Moana had finally met in person, and that they had both agreed to this arrangement.

So that already had counted for something.

5:59pm.

With a quick glance over the strip of the wording, he shoves the strip of paper back into his pocket and literally bolts out of his car. Inhaling sharply through his nose as his eyes skim over the house, he moves to go to his trunk, pushes the button (satisfied once his ears perceive the click), grabs his two massive suitcases and slams the door to his trunk shut.

(At least the house is exactly the same how it appeared in the ad…)

He was right about that. It was the same house. Everything about it looked extremely identical to the photograph he came across in the ad. It was located exactly where it was supposed to be, exactly like the description on the website said. Everything was exactly how he had imagined it. But Maui had to admit, it was much better to look at in person than how it appeared in the photograph of the ad.

Not to mention, it happened to be the only house on the block that stood out from the rest. Staring at the house in awe, it was no wonder why it made the other houses look completely ordinary. Maybe he must’ve missed it in the photo, but the way how this house was decorated on the outside, it was no wonder why he had wasted no time in choosing this place. It was like he was back home, back home on the island of Savali’i. The exterior proved his point.

It was the most tropical looking home he had ever seen in such a foreign country.

(Well to him, Canada may as well be a foreign country)

After all, it would make sense that this certain house made feeling at home come so naturally to him. Seeing as he was parked by the curb, where the Koa tree stood tall and proud, looming over him to grant him the shade that he needed from the toasty sun.

It looked like home. And Maui didn’t doubt the fact that the inside would eventually begin to feel like home. But he couldn’t allow himself to get his hopes up too soon.

He still had yet to figure that out.

And finally, just as promised, it was located right in the heart of Sunset Neighborhood. The sight of the neighborhood itself he couldn’t help but feel fascinated by. Maui was always so used to always living in the city of any place he stayed in. Sure during his childhood, his family and he did live in a neighborhood with many houses next to each other. But the neighborhood that he lived in while back home in Chicago was nothing compared to this.

It was a good sized neighborhood. Not too big. Nor was it too small. It looked, and felt just right. Sunset neighborhood is covered in breathtaking greenery and concealed in various shades of colorful flowers blooming vibrantly in each and every single garden. The lawns are strewn with yellow dandelions. The sun that was setting made sure to cast its dark yellow haze all around the neighborhood, leaving it painted in its colors of yellows, oranges and pinks. It was nothing like the neighborhood he’s had to live in that was located South of Chicago.

He chances a look down at his watch.

6:00pm.

Sucking in a deep breath through his teeth, he grabs his suitcases and makes his way towards the house that beckoned for his arrival.

The house loomed proudly behind creaky iron gates, flanked by two rows of slightly tall palm trees crowned in its luscious greenery (even the palm trees looked scarcely authentic), swaying gently to the slightly chilly spring wind. The pathway leading to the house itself was long and straight, mellow gray cobblestones leading the way, perhaps only twelve feet wide at the front, but from a distance, it seemed like it stretched thirty feet back like a giant shoebox. The house itself was two stories high and even had its own balcony at the top with what looked like its very own tropical veranda. The balcony located between what looked like two bedrooms that both extended at the rear. The gray bricks looked the same as he had saw in the ad, only they looked much nicer in person.

Maui had to admit to himself that the view of the house itself looked rather intimidating to the eye. And it was more intimidating to know that only one person was currently living under that roof. No doubt that the house was beautiful. He only hoped that it looked just as beautiful inside than it did outside.

Chewing on his lower lip, he tentatively pushes through the gate and makes sure to close it shut right behind him. He’s making his way down the path, feeling his confidence beginning to gradually diminish with each step he took. His palms sweaty against the plastic handles of his suitcase, the vile in his stomach deviously rising to the top of his throat, threatening to make its entrance, only to have him force it back down his throat and mentally slap himself.

(Will you get a grip already?! What are you? A wuss?!)

He shakes his head and curses under his breath. And before he has a chance to blink, he’s standing right in front of the door that was ivory white. The same white door that was mere seconds from swallowing him up and claiming his soul the minute it closed it shut behind him. The porch itself had enough room to seat two people if one wanted to come outside and enjoy a fresh cup of coffee (in Maui’s case sweet coconut milk) on a warm summer’s day. Two charcoal colored Barcelona Resin Wicker chairs sat to his left. And Maui couldn’t help but swallow at the sight of those. There were even two large pots of what Maui knew to be Areca silk palm trees that were on either side circling the entrance to the door. And when he looked upwards, surveying his surroundings, he spotted the rows of Hibiscus tropical plants hanging at the edge of the roof of the house. The tropical plants crowned in crimson red, just like how Maui remembered them back home on his island.

(Holy shit…..)

At this rate, Maui would surely be lying to himself if he said that the sight didn’t leave him feeling in awe.

He even noticed the small purple anthurium garden that had been planted in the front. Even the garden itself intimidated him. But at the same time, it impressed him. Noting how the garden obviously resembled careful planning with a touch of love, it seemed rather obvious that this was a young woman who took pride in appearance of any kind. Even her ‘Aloha!’ welcome mat was vibrant with its bright colors.

She wanted to make a good impression. And strangely to him, he knew that.

Otherwise, he would not have eagerly sent her an email.

And he was almost regretting his decision yesterday afternoon to leave once he discovered who she was. He almost lost the opportunity once. He was definitely not going to let that opportunity slip from his fingers once again.

Especially considering that the owner of the house happened to a beautiful fellow Polynesian.

(Wait…beautiful? Did I really just think that?! Oh come on! Not again!)

Closing his eyes, he draws in another sharp breath. Raising his shaky and sweat palm, he inches it closer and closer towards the doorbell. And without a second, his thick finger is pushing the button, his breath is still hitched in his throat as the sound of the muffled chime on the opposite side blares loudly. He’s chewing his lower lip, the sounds of his alligator shoes tapping the pavement ground made a rather unique sound to his ears.

And it doesn’t even take a minute, until his ears perceive the shuffling on the other side as the sound of the door unlocking cause his insides to twist and churn. The vile in his stomach dangerously reaching closer and closer towards its target.

The door swings open. In front of him stands that same young woman. The same Curly Haired Klutz whom he couldn’t seem to get out of his head. Her bright smile that was warm and welcoming, those big brown eyes eager that seemed to take his breath away. Just the mere sight of her standing before him, it felt strange to feel the butterflies in his stomach squirming about.

“Hey Maui!” She smiles. “You’re right on time!”

He just looks at her. He chances a look at his watch. “Yea….this is the time I said I’d be here.”

Instead deciding the push all previous thoughts of her aside.

Her only response was a smile. She nods. “Of course!”

A curt nod from him. “Good.”

“Come on right in!” She shifts out of the way to let him in. He grabs his suitcases and takes a step inside the house. She close the door shut behind him, and he winces slightly at the sound of lock. (Yup, there was definitely no going back now). “I’m sorry if the house seems like a bit of a mess.” She apologizes. “I’m still…sorta in the process of cleaning and organizing it.”

He doesn’t say anything. The inside of the house itself looked rather impressive to his eyes. The wooden floors were spotless, freshly polished and winking at him. He noticed how he was standing on a Captiva Green/Red area rug that lay underneath his alligator shoes. Concealing the bright white tiled floors underneath.

“I um, I hope you don’t mind?”

He had been so wrapped up in his thoughts that he nearly forgot about the young (and smaller) young woman standing beside him. A smile on her features that signified she was more eager about this than he was.

“It’s fine.” He gives a curt response. Eyes scanning over the view of the inside one last time. “The house looks nice.”

“Thanks!” She’s literally bouncing on the balls of her feet. “Well, would you like for me to give you a tour of the house? I’m sure you’ll love it and-“

“Can I actually put these in my room first?” He huffs, nodding towards his suitcases. “I’d feel more comfortable if I got settled in before the whole….grand tour and what have you.”

“Oh! Yes, of course!” She gives a light laugh. “Sorry about that! I should’ve been more considerate of that….”

Again, her words were left unheard. Judging by the annoyance that was slowly appearing on his features.

She clears her throat. “….I’m sorry, I guess I should stop taking now then, huh.” And he rolls his eyes, she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “I can um….I can take your coat for you if you'd like?”

“No need.”

She nods, and chances another look down at his hands, furrowing her brow. “Um….is that everything?”

He cocks a brow. “Pardon?”

“You only have two suitcases.”

“Yea….and?

“Oh, I was just wondering if that’s all you had with you.”

He sighs. “Like I said before, I was living in a motel.” He rolls his eyes once again. “There’s only so much that I can bring with me.”

“Oh! Right.” She nods, smiling. “Well then again, it’s not like you could pack up the entire hotel room with you?” She chuckles, hoping to lighten up the mood.

But when he just stares down at her, frowning, she realizes her joke didn’t quite meet up to his standards. “So…are you gonna show me where my room is or what?”

She gives a small smile. Though it’s slightly strained. “Of course. Do you um…need some help with your suitcases?” He shook his head. “Alright then. Follow me.”

His eyes followed her person as she walks toward the staircase. He wasted no time in kicking off his shoes, grabbing both his suitcases and proceeded to following close behind. Even just the mere sight of the banister was once again, enough to make him feel in awe.

As they’re climbing up the stairs, the bannister arced like flowing water with the exact same smoothness it must have done on the architects sketch. Perfection in copper wood. A piece that would have cost more than his own annual salary and then some. From above, it appeared to float over the wide curved staircase with native ease. On close inspection, it was supported with the most ornate wrought iron balustrades that appeared to grow from the stairs themselves and blossom upward.

Even the stairs themselves he found appealing to the eye. Each stair carpeted with a creamy beige color. The inner edge also painted antique cream. There was barely any wrinkles or signs of tampering. The carpet concealing the stairs looked just right. Smooth, clean and with not a speck of stain. Maui of course found it was too good to be true. The stairs may look nice, but part of him was waiting to come in contact with undisturbed dust of some sort.

But other than that, so far, it was looking way better than the crappy motel.

And once they rounded the corner towards his bedroom, his jaw dropped. Eyes wide like saucers.

“So, this is the room you’ll be staying in.” She looks up at him, biting her lower lip to prevent the laugh at his expression. “I hope you like it.”

He blinks rapidly, shakes his head and clears his throat. “Thanks.” He shrugs his shoulders. “Looks nice.”

“Really? Well, I’m glad!” She claps her hands together. “I mean, I was in a bit of a rush to get it organized and such so-“

“The room is fine.” He huffs, frowning down at her. “Thank you.”

She closes her mouth shut, smiles and nods. “Right. No problem.” She nods again. “Well, I’ll um…let you get settled.” She pushes a strand of hair back. “Just let me know when you want me to show you around.”

He huffs again. Shrugs his shoulders and turns to stare into his newly furnished room. “That’s quite alright. I won’t be needing you to show me around.”

“A-are you sure? Cause honestly, I have no problem with-“

“I’ll figure my way out around the house.”

She stares at him. Dumbfounded. “Um, sure. That’s fine too, I guess….”

He rolls his eyes for what seemed like the umpteenth time. Clearly this chick didn’t seem to have her own things to do.

She clears her throat. “Well, there’s some food in the kitchen.” She offers a smile. “You can come back down when you’re ready.”

So when she leaves him be, Maui is once again in utter and complete awe. The view of the room was like a dream come true. The room is like a perfect magazine cover. And for once in his life, Maui couldn’t help but feel somewhat daunted. As he takes a step and sets his suitcases by the door, he’s afraid to sit in case he were to wrinkle the fabric. The bed set is an Island Estate West Indies Four Poster King Sized canopy bed, a color of deep birch outlining the headboard, the mattress ivory white and looked exceptionally cozy. He was confident at the fact that it would be like jumping and landing securely a fluffy cloud. The bedding was a Tommy Bahama Tropical Floral duvet cover with the matching pillows, which embellished authenticity.

And that wasn’t all. The floor was carpeted the same identical color to the stairs (exactly how he preferred it), the walls are cream, though it’s not the like the stuff he sees most people put in their coffee. The windows proof that they were thoroughly dusted, sparkly with no hint of dust or mold, unlike that crappy window in the motel he was used to seeing every day for the past week. The white linen curtains giving them more of an enhancement.

(At least now that’s something I can tolerate.)

As he gazes about his new room, the room that he had seen in the photo on the ad was definitely misleading.

Misleading in a good way that was.

The room was comfortably larger than he had expected. For some reason, being in this room almost felt like he was back in that five star hotel he had stayed at when he was living in Germany. But except, this room was much homier than a high end room. It had more of a personal touch to it rather than something that suggested a hired designer chose it. Not to mention, two identical Ocean Club Coral 3 Drawer night stands the same color as the bed stood proudly on either side, the Island Estate Silver Sea Chest dresser located smack in view sight so that the bed and the dresser both met eye to eye, it looked large enough to inhale almost his entire wardrobe if it wanted to, and there was a large mirror attached to it as the final touch.

And last but not least, what Maui had dreamed of the most. Located on the far left side of the room, there standing tall and proud, stood an Ocean Club Samoa Tropical Armoire. Maui was almost certain that he could feel pathetic tears of joy welling in his eyes. (Finally!!!!) A place where he could stash all of his clothes. A place where his wardrobe would have room to breathe. Instead of having to stay cooped up in the tiny space of his suitcases. It was beautiful to look at.

Immediately, Maui couldn’t help but ponder the thought of weather this chick’s parents were indeed filthy rich.

Well, they had to be. Seeing as nobody in this neighborhood (or possibly on this planet) would be able to afford such a classy and sophisticated furniture like these folks did. And again, like before since the minute he stepped foot in this house, the intimidation was back.

(And this chick is letting me rent out this room for only $500?)

It was good deal. A Great deal actually.

For once in his life, ever since he had left home (though it wasn’t much of a real home to begin with), this was the first time where being in such a place felt like home. He would be lying if he said that he didn’t. Because truth be told, he damn well knew it.

The next thing he headed for, was the bathroom. The inside literally made his jaw drop the ground. It was exactly as he’d hoped it would be. Functional and completely bare of any frills or unnecessary comforts. It was just right. The floor was made of ivory white tiles, polished. The walls painted white, a Roma 60 double bathroom vicinity gleaming a granite countertop (bonus!) with a tropic centerset bathroom sink faucet that consisted of having double leaver handles, and the satin nickels looked like it would be smooth to the touch. Looming amongst the vanity, a large rectangular bamboo wall mirror that literally could be the same width of the entire house made him salivate at the sight.

Not the mention, the bathroom even came with its own accessories that would make five star hotels envious. From the Bacova Citrus Palm waste basket, to the palm tree towels neatly folded in what looked like to be an Antique Blue Starfish Bowl Towel rack with a basket underneath that loomed over the ivory toilet, Hammered Glass seahorse canisters set up evenly on the vanity, Sago Palm Bathroom accessory set that was just for decoration, to even the ornate standing pineapple toilet paper holder, Maui couldn’t help but feel at home.

(So far, so good….)

The walk in shower to the left with the sliding glass door had somehow managed to find a place in his heart. It was completely frameless, but it looked clean and sanitary. There was no Jacuzzi tub, but he wasn’t complaining. And the last thing he caught view of were the bamboo four tropical bathroom light lining in a row amongst the top of the mirror as the final touch.

Yup. He was definitely going to enjoy his stay here.

So far, the overall appearance of his room earned an “A” in his books.

(Goodbye crappy and stinky motel room).

Breathing in a sigh of relief and plopping himself down on his new bed (he had been right, it was indeed like landing on soft clouds), for once in his life, Maui couldn’t help but begin to feel content.

(Things are definitely starting to unfold).


 

“Hey, there you are.” He finds her in the kitchen (much to his dismay), smiling as she’s drying off a plate. “I was starting to think you got lost up there.”

He shrugs as he plops himself onto one of the barstools (Tommy Bahama Home Island Estate South Beach Swivel Counter Stool), eyes gazing over the glistening granite countertop, and stopping just at the sight of what looked like to be a swaying palms decorative bowl that was placed in the middle.

“So….what did you think of the room?” She asks, tentative. “Do you like it?”

He shrugs again. “It’s fine.”

“And you’re sure about that…right?”

“Yea.”

“You’re positive?” She pauses from her actions, looking at him over her shoulder. “I just wanna make sure cause-“

“I said its fine.”

She blinks, and then nods. “Okay, good. I’m glad to hear.” She reaches towards the kitchen cabinet and places the plate inside. “I’m sorry.” She turns to face him. “I um…I just want make sure that you feel at home and-“

“Like I said before.” He rolls his eyes and sighs. “It’s fine.

She presses her lips in a thin line and nods again. “Right.” She offers him a small smile. “Can I get you anything? A drink perhaps?”

He wrinkles his nose and then he slides off the bar stool, moving around the counter as he nears the kettle. “You got any coffee?”

“Oh….I um…” She pushes a strand of hair behind her ear. “I actually don’t drink coffee.”

His back stiffens. “What?” He shoots her a rather annoyed glare.

“I’m sorry, Maui.” She walks towards him, fingers fiddling with one another. “I don’t drink coffee, so….I don’t have any.”

He turns to glare at the kettle. Closing his eyes shut, he inhales a sharp intake of breath. Mentally counting down from ten. Then to five.

“I have tea though.” She offers. “I can make you some if-“

“No thanks.”

“Are you sure?”

“I just said ‘no’.” He sends her a scowl. “Didn’t I?”

Now it’s her turn to inhale a sharp breath. Biting her lower lip, she nods. “Right. Sorry.” She takes a step back, looking down at her twiddled fingers. “Can I get you something else to drink?” She looks up at him, gaze hopeful. “Water? Ice tea or anything like that?”

He sighs. Shaking his head, he moves away from the kettle. “No.”

“Can I at least get you something to eat?” She asks again, though his back is turned towards her. “Actually, I had run out to Metro earlier and got a fruit platter.” She smiles, though it’s weak as she eagerly heads toward the refrigerator. “Y’know, as a way to officially welcome you to my home.” She sends him another smile over her shoulder. “Thought you might like it.”

Though the offer sounded tempting (and it really did), the thought of him having to go out and buy coffee from here on in somehow did not sit well with him. And instead of pushing the thought aside and allowing bygones to be bygones, the last thing he wanted right now was to sit around some lame ‘welcome home’ fruit platter and be forced to chit chat about how his day went. He was tired and exhausted.

And most importantly, he needed his coffee.

A mental thought he had reminded himself to make to remember to make a run to the nearest supermarket and pick up an entire jug of unroasted coffee beans.

“I’m not hungry.”

Her hand is on the door of the fridge. Pausing and looking over shoulder. “Oh….” Her smile slowly beginning to vanish. “A-are you sure?”

He lets out another impatient sigh. “I wouldn’t have said it if I didn’t mean it, right?”

She stares at him. Blinking. Slowly taking her hand off the door and nodding. He’s certain he could feel the weight of her gaze boring into his back. “Right, I guess.”

“I’m gonna to take a nap.” He pauses in the kitchen entrance, though he doesn’t turn his back. “If that’s alright with you.” It wasn’t a question. More like a statement.

“Um, sure, that’s fine.”

That’s the only he needs as he’s disperses around the corner and makes his way towards the stairs. Taking one step, he pauses for a moment. Head tilting to look back towards the kitchen, but not fully. Part of him thinking that he should maybe take her up on the offer after all. And he would be lying if he said that he wasn’t tempted to at this moment.

However, the other part of him decided to go with what his mind was telling him to. So being the obedient man he’s always known to be, he shakes his head, sighs and heads up the stairs to his room. Making sure to close the door shut.

Locked.

Meanwhile back in the kitchen, Moana found herself dragging her feet towards the kitchen counter. Fingers folded together, hair curtaining her face, and she couldn’t help but feel more defeated than conquered.

(Maybe it would’ve been better if I had just offered to run out and get him the coffee instead…..)

She shook her head. Sighing. Pondering over whether or not that this was the right decision she had made.

Wincing at the sound of the door being closed shut on the upper level, it was only beginning to increase the doubt inside of her.

(I hope I made the right choice.)


 

Day one gets off to a bit of a rocky start.

But that was expected.

To Maui it was.

For Moana, most definitely.

Maui had come home from a long of work, hoping to find some peace and quiet. After the day he’s had dealing with some rather angry and impatient clients, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with any more chaos at his new home.

Well, to Maui it was considering ‘Chaos’.

Not only did he have to endure some unfriendly people, but it was worse when almost every second of the day, his phone blew up maybe five or six text messages from Moana. Explaining to him how she was sorry about the incident with the coffee. How she offered to swing by the supermarket after work to get him not one, but two big jugs of the Maxwell House coffee for him.

After a while, he just ignored her texts.

The last thing he needed was for her to feel pity for him. He didn’t need that. Nor did he want it.

Right, what he did want, was to just surround himself in the peace and quiet. After all he needed it. God he needed it. He was convinced that the house was vacant for the time being, which meant that he would have the whole house to himself.

So when he finds himself settling comfortably into his new bed, his thoughts were shattered as the eager sound of footfalls echoed towards his room.

“Hey Maui?”

He growls. He curses himself having forgotten to have closed his door shut and locked it.

He sighs. A harsh one. “What?”

She leans in the doorway. “I um…I just wanted to make sure that you’re okay.”

He rolls his eyes, though they’re still closed. It was a dumb question, though it was a very sweet gesture. “Look, for the thousandth time, I’m fine.”

“And…you’re sure?”

He sighs again. “Yes.”

“Alright.” Though she’s not fully convinced. “Just wanted to make sure.” She noted his brows denting. “If you need anything, just let me know, okay?”

He doesn’t respond. Though he’s certain that she was waiting for some sort of acknowledgment.

So when she sees that his body language was indeed telling her to buzz off, she chews on her lower lip and makes her exit.


 

Days two all the way to four consisted of the same thing.

The same routine with the blowing up of his cell phone with texts of apology. Or texts repeatedly inquiring if everything was okay with him. If he was okay.

For a while every time he stepped foot through the door, it was like a little kid rushing to their dad when they heard the sound of the door unlocking. Always offering him some food she prepared. Him always declining and staying true to his word (sticking to himself, and only himself).

And it didn’t take long for Maui to slowly start beginning to regret his decision to live here.

If he recalled those times where he stayed at different people’s home while he was living in Europe, or even Asia, his roommates always kept their distance. It was like everyone was a person of their own.

They clearly had no interest in becoming some sort of unity like how they often glamorize roommates living together in television sitcoms.

And truth be told, Maui preferred it that way.

There was never really a time for ‘Hey! How’s your day going? My day was shit! You wanna know why?.....’ and the rest goes on.

For Maui, that took too much time and effort. Not something that he wanted to put more of his time into.

Why this Curly Haired Chick didn’t seem to understand that, he would never know.


 

Day five was the day that Maui wanted to dropkick this chick to Venus and be done with her.

It was the loud droning sound that forced his eyes to pop open. His door shut, but even that itself clearly proves itself to be a pathetic shield. He growls, his vocal chords vibrating as he adjusts himself in the bed so that he’s facing the view of the bathroom door, grabbing one of the pillows and pulling it tightly over his head so block out the sound.

Clearly, the pillow didn’t seem to be much help either. With a loud huff, he tosses the pillow and the covers aside and storms out of the room into the hallway. His eyes took a while to adjust to the bright lights shining above, its abusive rays literally attacking him. His gaze then lend on their target.

“Hey!”

His shouting forces her to yelp and whirl around in his direction. She’s blinking rapidly. The dark circles coating her eyes proof of even her own exhaustion. The heat rising to her cheeks as she leans down and switches the knob on the machine from ‘on’ to ‘off’. Noting the raging glare on his features, she suddenly feels inferior to him.

“Oh....h-hey, Maui.”

“Do you have any idea what time it is?” He seethes.

She blinks again. “I’m sorry….I…I-“

“What the hell are you doing vacuuming at this time of the night?!”

She chews on her bottom lip. “Look, I…I-I’m sorry…I just….” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “The hallway seemed pretty messy…..so I….I needed to vacuum it….”

“At the three thirty in the morning?

She opens her mouth, and then closes it. Gaze going to look down at her feet. Knowing full well that he was right.

He growls again. Raking a hand through his tangled locks, and dragging a hand down his tired face. “Listen,” His voice drops down to low warning tone, causing her to shift slightly. “I need to be up in two hours. Alright?” He glowers down at her. “So I would really appreciate it if you could be more considerate of those who are trying to sleep!”

She’s quiet. Refusing to speak. He was right. She was being selfish.

“Do you think you can do that!”

His tone was sharper and slightly raised from before. And she finds herself wincing at the change in tone. But being the obedient young woman she always was, she forces herself to look up at him, eyes glistening in the light and nods.

“Good.” His tone softer, though it’s still stern laced with irritation. Groggy from exhaustion. “I’m going back to bed.”

He turns to leave, but then she blurts, “I’m sorry! It’s just that….I somehow have this habit where I-“

“I don’t need to hear it.”

She chews on her lower lip once again, watching as he disappears behind the bedroom door that once belonged to her baby brother.

Bowing her head down, she winces as the door slammed shut.


 

Days six and the rest of the week passes by fast enough. So does day eight. Which marks Maui’s first week-a-versary in his new home.

Yay?

Day nine, Moana felt that maybe crawling into that dark space may not have been such a bad idea after all.

It was a Tuesday night. Around 7:30pm when this happened. Moana is once again, lugging that beast of a vacuum cleaner out of its cave and rolling down the hallway towards the laundry room. It was very fortunate for her because the location of the laundry room was located right next to her bedroom.

(Well, her parents’ bedroom that was.)

So when she pushes open the door, she didn’t expect to see what she was seeing right now. And the sight caused the heat to rush to her cheeks. This time, more drastically than ever.

She lets out a sharp gasp. Eyes wide like saucers. “I’m sorry!” She yelps quickly, covering her mouth. “I didn’t know you were in here!”

A half-naked Maui with a towel wrapped around his waist jumps at her unexpected visit. “Jeez!” He hisses, glaring as he grabs at the knot before it could fall down. “Don’t you knock?!”

She gapes. Her blinking going rapid. “I-I….I-I…..just….” Suddenly at a loss for words as she was trying her hardest to avert her gaze. “I – you…..I-I mean….”

“Don’t you think a man has his own right to privacy?” He glowers, and Moana was certain that for once she caught glimpse of his cheeks transforming to a shade of bright red. “What are you? Some sex feline?!”

“I-no! I-I….I just needed to vacuum!” She feels the sweat glistening on her brow. “I-I didn’t know you were in here!” She holds her hands up in surrender. “I swear!”

He releases what sounds like a grumble and a snort. “Well……” He’s fuming. “You…..” Now feeling flustered. Suddenly feeling the words on his tongue begin to falter. “I….just….gahh!”

“I-I….I’m so, so, sorry, Maui! I-“

“Damn it, Curly! You are trying to smite me!” He pauses, then points an accusatory finger at her. “Why are you trying to smite me?!”

“I’m not! I swear! I-“

“And I actually believed you when you said you weren’t out to get me!” He’s seething, ignoring the heat overheating the tissue in his cheeks. “Liar!”

“No! I-“

“You what?! Hmm?! You what?!”

She stood in shock. Face blanched. Mouth still agape. Brown eyes still twice the width of their normal size. “I-I….” Her gaze is darting between his eyes flashing heat waves and his half-naked form. “I – I-“

“And you said you weren’t a rapist either…..” He snarls through grit teeth, taking a tentative step backwards (though there was clearly nowhere else for him to escape. “You liar!” He protectively holds tightly onto the knot that’s preventing his towel from moving any further.

“What? No, no, no!” She waves her hands frantically. “I’m not a rapist! Trust me…I-I just-“

“Must you always put me in these situations?!”

“I – what? What do you mean?”

“You! Why is that I always seem to find myself trapped in your chaos?

“I…that’s not….” She shakes her head. Then she stares at him, frowning. “……you do realize that you’re in the laundry room….” Her hands go to cup her hips. “…..right?”

Though the glare is still on his features, he takes a quick look around. Although he felt like an idiot (an idiot who happened to be arguing, half-naked with a girl….young woman….about having manners when it came to knocking), he still needed to maintain his dignity.

He huffs. “Yea.”

“I mean…..it wasn’t like I barged in on you while you were in the bathroom or anything.”

And there goes his dignity. “…..yea.” He mutters.

She can’t help but sigh, going to pinch the bridge of her nose. “So….why exactly are you in the laundry room…..” She pauses, then clears his throat, averting her gaze. “…..half-naked that is?....”

He pursues his lips. Averting his gaze. “…..my shirt was dirty.” He looked to the tiled floor beneath, scuffing his foot sheepishly.

“Oh…..” She blinks again. Then offers a small smile. “Then….why didn’t you just toss it in the waste basket? Y’know….the one that’s in your bathroom?”

He grumbles. “I needed to do some laundry.” He looks up at her, the scowl still on his face. “If I had left it in the waste basket, then chances are, I would’ve forgotten it.” He places his hands on his waist. “Why? Is that illegal all of a sudden?”

She sighs. “No.” And shakes her head. “I just….figured that using the waste basket would’ve made more sense, that’s all.”

He rolls his eyes. Mumbling something inaudible under his breath.

And for what seemed like eternity, Moana had eventually found herself frowning at his hostility and stubbornness. She blinked, just about ready to open her mouth, but found that the words had somehow ended up lost at the back of her throat. Her gaze somehow ended peeling to the sight of his body instead. Almost as if they were stuck there.

Noting the heavy dark ink coating the expanse of his broad chest. Patterns and drawings of the tattoos outlined every part of his large body. From his massively bulky muscles, to his solid chest, trailing down to his toned (though they carried a little bit of meat) abdomen, all the way down to his legs where the lining and the patterns continued until they stopped at his ankles.

And suddenly, Moana had found herself unable to move. Her feet rooted in place. Her breathing becoming shallow, and heavy. Mouth going dry. Her gaze then landing on the towel around his waist. Her mind immediately illustrating some rather provocative images to swirl about. Though she tried to shake those naughty thoughts away, her mind wouldn’t let her. And she could only imagine what it was exactly that was hiding underneath that towel.

Even just the sight of watching how his chest heaved and fell, she was certain she could feel her mouth beginning to salivate. Breathing becoming even shallower than before. Heavier.

The things she only wished she could get away with had he let that towel drop to the floor. The expanse of his arms she could imagine running her tiny hands over. The meat of his chest just begging for the feel of her peppering lips to press endless kisses upon. Her fingers combing through those luscious locks of mane, and his massive body dominating hers in the most passionate and kinkiest ways possible.

And she would be lying to herself if she wasn’t picturing it right now. Feeling him. Tasting him. His massive hovering over her withering form as she passionately cried out his name, her nails clawing at his back.

(If only……)

“Um, excuse me!”

His gruff voice abruptly brought her back to reality. “Sorry!” She gasps, shaking her head, suddenly remembering just how important breathing was. “I-“

“Do you mind?” He grabs hold of the knot on his towel at his waist. Shielding his chest from her gaze. “I would like to get back to my room.” He glowers down at her, suddenly feeling like he had just been violated.

She blinks rapidly. Realizing that she was still blocking the doorway. “Oh! Y-yea! S-sure! I-I….” She fumbles over the words, her cheeks on fire. “I-“

“So….if that’s okay with you…..could you kindly remove yourself out of the way so that I can get by?”

“Y-yea! O-of course! I-I’m sorry, I just-“

Now….would be a good time, Curly.”

“Of course!” She chirps, tone wavering drastically. “Just….uh….just let me – oof!

Of course it would be stupid for not to remember that the massive beast of a vacuum cleaner had still been sitting behind her. Its cords deviously spread and tangled in one another, which turn had caused her to flail her arms like a rabid bird flapping its wings, fall backwards and land Right Square on her ass, and somehow slither their way around her ankles. Trapped.

Thank God that floor was carpet.

Unfortunately, the worst part was when the larger of the two stopped in front of the door way, looked down at her and rolled his eyes.

“You really are a klutz.” He shakes his head. “You know that?”

And suddenly, her own confidence just went from an eight, drastically dropping down to a minus twenty. His massive form shadowing her pathetically small one, feeling extremely small compared to him. Both theoretically and literally.

His insult definitely didn’t anything to boost her confidence. She looks towards where her ankles are pathetically held captive in the tangle of cords, chances another pleading look up at him, feeling defeated at the judgemental look that’s plastered on his face, and instead decides to settle on biting her lower lip and averting her gaze.

A smirk from him. “Suit yourself.”

As he casually lifts his large foot to step over the tangled mess on the ground, he stops just shy of his bedroom. The guilt beginning to swirl and rise about in his stomach. The right thing to do in his mind would be to say good riddance and just leave her there to fend for herself. However, his insides told a different story.

Maybe you should help her….

(Don’t be such a wuss! She’s a big girl! You’re not her babysitter! She can get herself out!)

Mind over feeling.

Now…which to choose?

As she struggles to undue the cords that were grasped around her ankles (wiping away the frustrated tears that were falling down her cheeks), she nearly yelped at the sight of two large hands reaching over her head to unravel the cords from her ankles.

“Hang on there, Curly.” He sighs, working to unravel the cord. “I got it.”

Her breath is hitched in her throat as he detangles the cord with such ease. Wiggling her ankles free, she gasped as she felt his massive arms wrap around her torso and eases her upwards.

“Up we go.” He gently lifts her from the ground. “All better now.”

She cranes her neck to look up at him. “T-thank you.”

He gives a curt nod. “You’re welcome.”

And for a while, her eyes stay locked on his. As his did with hers. The feeling of being in his large arms felt so foreign to her. But it felt right. Just right. Her cheeks turned a shade of red, rather enjoying the feel of his heart beating against her back. Her fingers find purchase on his forearms, and she’s tempted not to bury herself in his chest. Her breath hitched in her throat as her brown eyes roams over his jaw, his lips, his eyes, his nose…..

He swallows. A deep one. Strangely enjoying the feeling of her small body curled in his arms. It was like she fit there like a puzzle piece. Effortlessly. Knowingly. His gaze trailing over those full luscious lips (those lips he had to restrain himself from crashing his own lips against), the adorable way her cheeks lifted, those big beautiful brown eyes staring into his, and suddenly his gaze travelled to the sight of cleavage peaking from her deep purple V-neck tank top. Then he found his eyes lingering amongst the sight of her neck, coco skin, begging his lips to pepper and nip and bite at…..

He shakes his head. Clearing his throat loudly. “Alright. All better now.” He sloppily plops her back on her own two feet. “I’m gonna go take my shower now.”

Of course the moment had to end when she only wanted it to continue even further. She blinks. Staring at his back as he’s walking towards his bedroom. Not sure of how to properly respond.

“Thanks again!”

He pauses. Hand on the doorknob. Without a second look back, he enters his room and closes the door.

And just like that, it didn’t take long for Moana to suddenly feel her legs beginning to turn to jelly. The same feeling that she’s felt since the moment she laid eyes on him becoming alive and well once again.


 

Day Fourteen (two weeks), Moana finds herself hurling a basket of dirty clothes into the laundry room. Again and just like always without realizing, it didn’t her long to figure out that another figure happened to in her presence.

Bumping into him yet again. This time, the impact caused him to spill downy fabric softner all over his white t-shirt. Eyes like saucers, hand going to her mouth, gasping as he inhales sharply through his nose, mentally counting down from ten to five. Then all the way down to zero.

Two weeks of living in this house and already she’s managed to dirty up fifteen of shirts. Some had the typical coffee stains on them. Others were covered in tomato sauce as the new accessory. It was the same routine. She clumsily runs into him. The impact causes the unwanted substance to be soaked onto his shirt. She apologizes profusely. And he’s about ready to lose his mind.

Same routine over. And over. And over again.

And now for the newest accessory, it was fabric softner.

“I’m sorry, Maui!” She sighs. “Really, I am! I just-“

“Save it.” He wastes no time in yanking his shirt over his head, revealing those incredible muscles once again and tosses the shirt into the basket. “It’s whatever.” He gruffly moves around her.

“I can wash your shirts for you if you’d like!” She offers as she watches him leave. “It’s the least I can do-“

“Don’t bother.” He angrily calls back as he slams his door shut.

Chewing on her lower lip, she sighs again. Chancing one last look at the mountain of stained shirts piling up in the basket, setting her laundry basket down on the floor, she does the last thing she ever expected herself to do.

Without a second thought, she hurries over to the basket, dumping the pile of his shirts into hers.
(It’s the least I could do.)

Taking one last look over her shoulder to make sure that he was locked in his room, she buries his pile of shirts beneath her clothes. Knowing that he would most likely have a heart attack after witnessing that his shirts had disappeared.

He had said not to bother. But he clearly didn’t know just exactly how much of a determined woman Moana really was.

In the end, she wanted to make him happy.

And she was going to do just that. Not giving a damn if he tried to stop her.

Chapter Text

Day eighteen. Almost three weeks into the month.

For the first time in his life, Maui seemed to have been enjoying his times at work more so than he has been at home. And truth be told, he wasn’t quite sure if that was a good thing or a bad thing. There were times when part of him was beginning to feel a shred of guilt clouding over him every time he would blatantly ignore her text messages while he was at work. That’s one thing he was finding slightly difficult to admit. Even during the times at home when she was always offering to help aid him with something, anything she could think of (feeding him more food, making sure she meets the accommodations that he needs, and the list goes on), every one of her proposals were declined.

And for some strange reason, Maui himself couldn’t help but ponder the fact that whether his hostility towards her was appropriate. Sometimes, he often needed to take a pause and wonder if maybe he should just accept the fact that this chick clearly seems eager to have company and allow her the benefit of the doubt to spoil him as much as she could.

So yes. Sometimes he was beginning to let his guilty conscience get the best of him.

After all, she was in fact the first roommate he’s ever had that actually seemed to want to keep him around. It was obvious that she wanted to please him. To make him feel at home. Truly at home that was. As a matter of fact, so far, she was the only roommate who’s ever gone out of their way to really please him. To truly and genuinely please him that was. It wasn’t like it was an act or some sort. It was simply just a genuinely kind gesture of hers that seemed to be embedded in her since the moment she opened her eyes.

At this point, Maui would admit that he was beginning to feel a little bit guilty for his actions. Considering the fact that again, this young woman was in fact letting him rent out one of her bedrooms at very reasonable price.

So….maybe he owed it to her to be a little bit nicer?

(Are you nuts?! Are you forgetting who's literally been painting your shirts with coffee and tomato stains?!!! And you’re actually considering being nice? To her?!)

And just as always, the original thoughts he’s had of her decide to pay his mind a visit. Convincing himself that he should still continue to hold her accountable for the actions she’s caused. And just like that, all thoughts he had of guilt instantly faded out into the distance. She was much too perky for his liking. Not to mention, her constant need to always be in his face, it was like a mother coddling her thirteen year old son about her ‘baby is growing up so fast!’

If it was one thing Maui absolutely hated the most, was being coddled, and treated like he was a child. He grumbles and wrinkles his nose at the thought. And for once in his entire life, he never would’ve thought that he would be so ecstatic to see the familiar blocked white glowing letters of ‘TD Bank’ come in to his line of view as he pulls in his parking space and breathes a sigh of relief.

(Work at last….)

So right now, the time being 11:30am, Maui rubbed his sore temples and wishes on whatever stupid stars there that he could just call it a day and be finished with this job. Maybe some Tylenol would do. It would definitely get rid of the headache he was feeling. And even put him to sleep just in the snap of his two fingers. Then suddenly, he wondered if there was any Tylenol already at home. He hoped there was. Gods he hoped there was. He wasn’t in the mood to have to swing by the supermarket yet again with a crowded mob and pick up some medication. After the rough morning he’s had from having to deal with not one, but two miserable clients, to having spent over two hours looking at a screen and typing until his thick fingers were mere seconds from becoming crippled, he was just about ready to pack up and just leave.

Only it still the morning. He had another five hours to go.

(Great…..)

Just as he thought his day couldn’t get any worse, a knock on his door forced him to scowl at it. “Come in.” He grumbles.

He was expecting it to be Bob yet again. Seeing as this would be the third time since this morning he’s knocked on his door. But instead, he was shocked to find that it wasn’t his boss like he had suspected. A brunette haired young man poked his head in. Someone who was clearly unfamiliar to him.

“You.” He points. “You’re Maui? Maui Deeming that is?”

Maui quirks a brow. “Uh…last time I checked. Yes.” He gives a curt nod. “Can I help you?”

“Yea, actually.” The man steps in with what looked like a folder tucked in his arms. “Bob wanted me to give you this.” He passes him the brown folder. “For your next client. Their income taxes they’ll want to discuss with you.”

Maui takes the folder. Pauses. Then chances another look at the man standing before him. His eyes raked over the figure from head to toe. It was a young man who was probably the same age or a bit younger than Maui. He was tall, which was the first thing that Maui noticed, but not extremely tall. The young man probably stood at a good height of 5’11, shorter than Maui himself that’s for sure. He was pretty slender, and muscular too. Definitely not as muscular as Maui. Heck, he wasn’t even close to being the same size as Maui himself. But then again, when it came to a young man like Maui, he had yet to come across another man who dared to have the same density in size like he did. The closest he came to was Bob, his boss. But even Bob himself wasn’t exactly as close to size as Maui was.

“And….” Maui drags the word out. “You are…..?”

“Eugene.” The man grins, sticking out his hand. “Eugene Fiz Herbert that is.”

Maui in turn only stared at the fair skin of the man’s outstretched hand that lay in front of him. If it was one thing about Maui that not a lot of people knew about, it wasn’t only the fact that he wasn’t entirely a people person, but more so the fact where physical touch wasn’t exactly his forte. His eyes darted from the hand, to arrogant smirk plastered on the man’s face.

He presses his lips into a thin line. Then gives a curt nod. “Nice to meet you.”

The grin on the man’s face eventually spread wider, eyebrow cocking up. “You’re not really one for handshakes, are ya?”

He chances another look down at his hand, lifting a brow. “Nope.” Then he turns back to his computer.

“Ah c’mon.” This Eugene fellow just didn’t seem to want to let this go. “It’s just a little handshake. Won’t do ya any harm there, bud.”

Maui shrugs. Resisting the urge to roll his eyes.

“Can’t knock it til you’ve tried it.” The brunette does a little sing song. Wiggling his fingers. “C’mon, it’s not such a bad thing. Just one little shake and then it’s all over.”

He sighs. Resisting the urge to do a face palm. Clearly this dude didn’t seem the least bit interested in just calling this a day and moving on with his life.

“If I say yes, will you leave me alone?”

“Sure!”

Hefting another sigh, Maui rakes a hand through his tangled locks and in return, grants this Eugene fellow his wish. Their hands come in contact, giving it a slight but firm shake. And Eugene had to keep his jaw from dropping at just how massive Maui’s hand was compared to his own. The grin still in place, though it weakened slightly.

“Happy now?”

“See? That wasn’t so bad now, was it?” Eugene retreats his hand back, reminding himself to inspect for any signs of broken bones. “Wow! That’s quite a grip you got there!”

Maui blinks, a deadpanned expression. “So I’ve been told.” And turns his focus back to his computer.

Eugene can’t help but study the larger man sitting at the small desk in front of him. The desk probably being barely half his size. Grin tugging his lips as he casually leans against the doorframe, arms crossed over his chest.

“So….you’re the new recruit then, huh.”

Maui sighs. “Yes.” He’s trying his best to focus on his typing. “And you’re still here.”

Eugene can’t help but put his hands up in surrender. “Hey, I’m just trying to be friendly here. No need for the hostility dude.” A chuckle soon follows. And he’s back to crossing his arms. “So I heard you’re quite the traveller.”

Maui has to take another intake of breath. Just about ready to throw this man out the window and be done with him. Clearly this man had no interest in going back to his duties. And judging by the tone and his posture, it didn’t seem like he cared that much either.

“Bob here told me that you recently came from Germany.” He grins. “Impressive.”

Just at the mention of his boss’s name rolling off this guy’s tongue, Maui can’t help but find his fingers slowly beginning to stop from typing any further. “You know Bob?” He cocks a brow and stares at him.

Eugene just shrugs. “Of course. Bob and I go way back.”

“Huh.” He mutters. “How far back exactly?”

“Ah, way back when-“

“Maui?”

The sultry sound of Nani’s voice instantly causes Maui’s ears to perk up. The glare immediately erased from his features. His cheeks going hot. His heart thudding in his chest which was mere seconds from beating right out of his chest any second. And his gaze fixed tightly on hers as she stands in the doorway.

“H-hey Nani.” His voice nearly goes horse at the near sight of her. “Uh….” He rolls his chair forward so that his hands are laced together on his desk. “….what can I do for you?”

“Well, Bob-“ She pauses, blinks and then frowns as she notices the figure leaning casually against the doorframe next to her. Then cocks a brow. “Eugene?”

“The one and only!” Eugene makes a grand gesture with his hands, causing Maui to roll his eyes. “Nice to see ya again, Nani.”

“Huh.” She places a hand on her hip. “I didn’t think I’d be seeing you here again.”

“Ah, well, I can’t say that I didn’t expect to see you here again either.” He flashes her his best mischievous grin. “And yet, here we are!”

And something about the way how he was looking at her did not sit well with Maui. At all. A flash of jealousy sparkled in his eye.

Nani in turn, rolled her eyes. Fixing him with a smirk of her own. “So why exactly are you here, Eugene?”

“Bob wanted me back. I mean, it’s quite obvious that the man loves me, don’t ya think?”

She lets out a dry chuckle. “Yea….cause Bob loves you so much…..” Then she shakes her head. “Give me a break.”

“And I see you haven’t changed much.” He grins at her, licking his lips as his eyes raked over her form. “Just like the same old Nani I used to love and adore.” And Maui found himself flinching at the last word. “Have I ever told you how much I dig that?”

A smirk on her face, nearly about to send Maui over the edge. “You have.” She answers. “A little too much that was.”

“Ah, can’t blame a guy for being honest, huh.”

Nani’s just about to give another one of her cheeky responses. That is until Maui forces himself to clear his throat. Reminding them that he’s still present. Clearly beginning to feel the discomfort surfacing in his system.

“Sorry about that, Maui.” Nani sends Eugene a dry smirk before focusing back on him for what seemed like eternity. “I see you met Eugene here.”

He gives a curt nod. Lifting a brow between the two of them. “You two know each other?”

Nani sighs. “Unfortunately.”

“Oh please!” Eugene chimes in, chuckling. “It’s not unfortunate! You love me! You can’t help it!”

“In your dreams, pretty boy.” She rolls her eyes and is back to focusing on Maui. “Eugene used to work here a while back. He was one of our old financial advisors.”

“Oh?”

“It seems like you both have more in common than you thought.” Maui furrows his brows at that. Nani continues on. “Eugene here is also a world travelling financial advisor.” Then she looks at Eugene, whose grin hadn’t seemed to disappear just yet. “He worked here with us for about six months.”

(Which would explain how he knew Bob so well. And the fact the he happened to be so…..chummy chummy with her….)

“Interesting.”

“And nearly eight months later, I’m back!”

(Yay….?)

“Man, I’ve gotta say, it feels pretty great to be back here.”

(Great….)

“It feels nice getting to see familiar faces.” He grins at Nani, licking his lips as he does so. “It’s especially nice getting to see your face again, Nani…”

“Hm, and yet, you still haven’t changed much yourself, Eugene.”

Maui has to do everything in his power not to flip his desk over right this very minute. The blood beneath his bones beginning to boil.

He clears his throat. “Nani,” She turns to him. “You came to my office for a reason. Which would be….?”

“Oh! Right! Yes!” She clears her throat. “Bob says that he would like to see you in his office.”

“Right now?”

“No, no! When you’re finished up with your next client.” She checks her watch. “The one’s that’s coming today at 12:30? After that one.”

“Oh….well….alright then.”

“Good.” She nods and then gives him a genuine smile. “You don’t have to worry. It’s nothing bad.”

(Easy for you to say).

“Well, I’ll see you around.” She smiles as she heads out the door.

“See you around, Nani.” Eugene smirks. And in turn, she looks over her shoulder to give him an icy stare and heads down the hall without so much as another word.

And if Maui was lying to himself, he had to be honest. He was definitely not pleased with the way how Eugene’s lustful gaze seemed to be lingering on her person. Even when she disappeared down the hallway. Part of him tempted to smack that arrogant smirk off his features.

“Man.” He hears Eugene sigh. “She is one fine piece of ass.”

He growled. Feeling the vibration tickling his vocal cords. (He did not just refer to Nani as a piece of meat!)

“You like her?”

Eugene shrugs. “Eh, she’s definitely got a feisty personality.” He licks his lips. “Not to mention, the body of a goddess.” He chuckles as he watches as her his sway down at the hallway until she disappears behind the door to the staff room. “I would definitely be banging that without a second thought.”

(This guy better shut that loose lip of his or I’m gonna….)

“The things I would do to her…..”

Maui didn’t realize that he was growling. Disgusted. This man was clearly a pig whose only priority consisted of eventually finding his way in women’s skirts.

“Y’know, she may be more than just a piece of meat….right?”

Eugene shrugs his shoulders. “She could be.” Then he turns to face him. “I mean, I could’ve had a shot with her before.” He shrugs again. “It’s just too bad that she still seems to be hung up on that loser boyfriend of hers.”

(Boyfriend?)

“Boyfriend?” This suddenly reels in Maui’s interest. “Wait a second….” He shakes his head. “She…..has a boyfriend?”

“Yea. Last time I heard. He’s either her boyfriend, or an ex-boyfriend, or a fling, or a friends with benefits.” He shrugs again. “Who knows.”

“Why would you say fling? Or friends with benefits? Or even an ex-boyfriend? Wouldn’t he….just be her boyfriend then?”

“Ah, from what I know, she’s been on and off with him for about….five years now. I could be wrong though. But that’s just what I remember.”

“So then….she’s still with him.”

“Maybe. Who knows?”

(Nani never mentioned a boyfriend…..)

Maui shakes his head again. Blinking. “She never told me that.” He mutters.

“She never told you what?”

Shit! He wasn’t supposed to hear that! “Nothing.”

Eugene lifts a brow, leaning against the doorframe. “Do you like her or something?”

He presses his lips into a thin line. His silence confirming the man’s suspicions.

“You liked her didn’t you?”

He shakes his head. “No.” He closes his eyes and curses under his breath. “No, I didn’t.” Then he goes back to typing on his computer.

The brunette haired young man casually strokes his dark brown goatee. “You still like her, huh.” Followed by a sly grin.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

“Do you really think I’m that dumb?”

Maui’s attempt to ignore him clearly was beginning to wane out.

“C’mon dude, I’m not stupid.” He folds his arms over his chest. “You asked her out, didn’t you?”

He’s silent. Refusing to talk.

“Hey, I’m not judging here.” He reasons. “You still like her, fine. Then you still like her.”

He huffs a sigh. But doesn’t respond.

“All I can say is, you’d be wasting your time if you think that a woman like her will ever come around.” Eugene shrugs. “So I say, it’s not worth the wait. Don’t sweat it. Move on. There’s plenty of hot bods around to bang.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“Oh please!” Eugene lets out a small guffaw. “I’m sure a guy like you has plenty of chicks worshipping the ground you walk on!”

And he’s silent again.

“Hell, I bet that you got some smoking hot chick right now that’s always ringing down your phone!” He chuckles. “Am I right?”

In response, Maui rolls his eyes.

“I’m right, aren’t I?” A sly grin on Eugene’s face. “Any second now, your phone’s gonna ring, and it’s gonna be her.”

As if on cue, the vibration of Maui’s cellphone rumbled on his desk. An incoming call. He slowly takes his eyes of the screen, settling on the moving device, ringing impatiently. He quirks a brow, shoots a pointed look up at Eugene, who has that same arrogant smirk on his face and shakes his head to grab the phone.

Moana Wailiki (Incoming Call)

(Either this dude is some sort of freak with extraterrestrial powers…..or….)

Okay, so it was indeed a chick that was calling him. Eugene was right about that. However, it wasn’t just any chick. Unfortunately for Maui, this chick clearly did not know when to quit. In response, Maui’s stare hardened at the name on his phone, spitting curse words under his breath as he snarls and decides to throw his cellular device in his drawer.

“Hm, what did I tell ya? I’ve got a knack for these things.”

“So you say.”

The grin on his face widens. “I do.” Something about his tone had Maui suddenly beginning to feel just a tad bit intimidated. “It was a chick, wasn’t it?”

He glowers at him and turns back to his computer.

“Is she cute at least?”

Cute? More like an exotic goddess!

(A goddess?? Really?? I can’t believe I just said!)

Maui grumbles. Fingers going to pinch the bridge of his nose.

“Judging by that sound,” He had nearly forgotten that this Eugene fellow still didn’t seem to understand what the term ‘privacy’ meant, “she’s hot, isn’t she?”

A sigh slips past his lips. “Guess you could say that.” He mutters without even thinking.

(For Christ Sakes! I did it again! Have I gone soft?!)

“Ah.” He nods. “So let me guess, you two met at some party, had one too many drinks, got drunk, banged each other maybe three or four times, and now she won’t leave you alone. Does that sound about right?”

(If only it was that easy.)

Maui sits with a pointed stare. This dude clearly seemed to need a hobby. There was no doubt about that. Then he suddenly found himself back in that scene. It seemed as if something like that seemed to be simpler than this situation

He only wished it could be that effortless.

“Alright, well, here’s my advice to you, bud.” He helps himself to one of the chairs standing against the side of the wall. (I know this dude did not just take my chair!) “Dump her.”

He blinks again. Frowning. “What?”

“You heard me, dump her.” Eugene shrugs. “Ignore her calls. Erase her number. Pretend that she never even existed, and then move on. Simple as that.”

“It’s not that easy.”

“Oh don’t tell me you’re starting to have feelings for her. Such a waste of time.”

“No, I mean, it’s really not that easy.”

Now it’s Eugene’s turn to groan roll his eyes. “Maui, man, you’re killing me here!” He scoffs. “So what if it’s not that easy! You already screwed her, so move on! I mean, why settle for only one chick when there’s ocean swimming with more hot babes available to procreate with?”

“Okay, look, you’re not getting this.” He fixes him with an icy glare. “I’m not screwing this chick, alright? Nor do I have any feelings towards her.” He huffs, and then sighs. “I live with her.”

“Whoa, whoa whoa! You live with her?”

“We’re roommates.”

Eugene forces himself to blink. “Roommates?”

“Yea. Believe it or not.”

“Huh.” He ponders this for a minute. “Still, you two haven’t been…..banging….or anything like that?”

“What? No!” Maui wrinkles his nose at the thought. “With this chick that I’m living with? Not in a million years, dude!”

“Really? Huh, well that’s funny.”

“What is?”

“Well, just a second ago….you said she was cute.”

He blinks. “No I didn’t.”

(Liar)

“Yea you did.” His sly grin is back. “I asked you if she was hot, and you said yes.”

“That’s a lie.”

“Is it?”

He heaves a harsh sigh. “I never said that.”

(Liar! Liar! Liar!)

“Dude, just admit it.” Eugene is smirking. “You’re feeling your roommate. I know you are.” He settles back in his chair, throwing one leg over the other, pursuing his lips. “And frankly my friend, you know it too.”

He’s on to you! Just admit it already! You know it’s the truth!

(No it isn’t!)

“She’s not my type.” There's a lie between those lines. “Way too….perky for my liking….”

“Oh….” This causes even Eugene to wrinkle his nose. “She’s one of those chicks.”

“Unfortunately.”

“I had one just like that.” He shakes his head. “Not too long ago, actually.”

“That’s rough.”

“Ah, it is what it is.” He shrugs. “Don’t get me wrong, she was…..” And Maui could’ve sworn he saw a flash of a smile on his face. A genuine smile that was. “….she was….beyond hot.” He sighs. “Gorgeous even…..had the mind, body, face and personality of an angel.”

“So…what exactly turned you off from her then?”

“She was too…..in your face…I guess.”

Now it was Maui’s turn to wrinkle his nose. “You still have feelings for her?”

“No!” Eugene says a little too quickly. Finally coming back to his senses. “No! Not at all! I mean….it was great while it lasted. Gorgeous? One hundred percent.” He nods. “Perky and clingy? Definitely. Way too much for my liking!”

“Huh, I know what that’s like.” Maui hefts a sigh, then chances a quick glance up at Eugene. “So….what’d you have to do exactly?”

“What do you mean?”

“To get her to get the hint and to leave you alone?”

Eugene thinks about the question for a minute. And then shrugs. “Ah, I just tuned her out.” He says. “After a while, she started getting tired of trying so much. So eventually, she left me alone.”

Maui blinks. An annoyed expression. “And that actually works?”

“Trust me, the more you keep tuning her out, the quicker she’ll give up. Then, she’ll leave you alone. Simple as that. Problem solved.”

(Problem solved? I don’t think so…)

Maui says nothing as he fixes him with a deadpanned expression. “So…how did you say you’re staying here for again?”

Eugene shrugs. “About three to six months at most.”

(Three to six months of having to deal with this? Yay….)

And suddenly, Maui’s was starting to think that maybe going home wasn’t such a bad thing after all.


 

He finally returns home that night. Another long day at the office forced the exhaustion to ache all over his body. He sits at the dinner table, back hunched, fork picking and move about the spaghetti on his plate, suddenly feeling full. On the bright side, he was able to relish in the serenity of the house. But that only lasted maybe two seconds until his ears perceived the sound of eager footfalls inching closer and closer….

“Hey Maui.”

And….she's back. His chance at finding peace was once again squashed in the span of under a minute. It had been nice for the whole point two seconds that it lasted.

“How was work?”

Nun ya business! He wanted to reply. But instead settled on a grumbled, “fine.” He shoves another mouthful of spaghetti in his mouth.

“Oh, well that’s good.” She fiddles her thumbs. “Mind if I join you?”

I’d rather you leave me alone! He rolls his eyes. And another grumbles escapes. Not saying anything and his irritation only increases as the corner of his eyes catches sight of her slipping onto the barstool next to him. This chick does not know when to quit.

He can feel her smile boring into his person. “Did you….at least have a good day?”

He answers with another grumble. “Sure.”

“Well…..that’s good to hear too.” She smiles. “Glad to hear that you didn’t have a shitty day or anything.”

(You don’t know the half of it….)

“Maui….”

He heaves a harsh sigh. “What?” He grounds his teeth.

She frowns at his plate. “It’s just….you’ve barely touched your food.” Then she looks at him, gaze suddenly becoming worried. “Is something wrong?”

He rolls his eyes. “Nothing’s wrong.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes.” He seethes, glaring down at his spaghetti that was drowning in tomato sauce. “I’m sure.”

Of course, Moana didn’t look the least bit convinced. Wrinkling her nose. “You sure nothing bad happened at work? Nobody….pissed you off or anything?”

“I said I’m fine!

He finally turns and glares at her. “For Christ Sakes, what part of ‘I’m fine’ do you not seem to understand?” His voice was gruff. More gruff than he had intended. But exactly what he needed to get his point across.

She winces at his tone. Blinking rapidly. “I….I’m sorry….I was just-“

“Alright, y’know what, I’m just gonna be brutally honest here.” He grumbles, going to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I’m not sure how….you Canadians do things around here, but from where I come from,” he gives her a pointed scowl, “we do things differently. A whole lot differently. So therefore from now on, we’re roommates, and only roommates, alright?”

She chews on her lower lip and averts her gaze. “Oh…..” She decides to focus on the patterns of the granite counter. “…I just….I guess I never really….thought of it that way….”

“We’re not husband and wife. We’re not brother and sister. Certainly not boyfriend and girlfriend. Definitely not even friends.” There’s insults upon insults in between every single one of those lines. “We’re roommates. We’re just roommates.” His tone is icy. “And that’s all we’ll ever be. Got it?”

We’re just roommates…

His words sting. A lot. Much more than she was used to. Which was beginning to leave her feeling small. So small. Minute.

Defeated.

And she has no choice but to give a curt nod. Head bowed. Fingers laced together. Hair curtaining her face.

“So from now on, I do my own thing, you do your own thing.” He says and slides off the barstool. “Both of us will lead our own lives, and that way we stay out of each other’s way. Do you think you can do that?”

She gives a numb shrug. “If that’s how you want it……then….I have no choice but to respect that….”

“I want it that way.”

“Alright then….um…I guess that’s fine….”

“Good.” He mutters, grabbing his plate of unfinished food. “I’m going to my room.”

He leaves without another word. Leaving Moana by her lonesome yet again. The cloud of grief still hovering over her. Taunting.

Once his footfalls were out of earshot, followed by the familiar sound of the door banging shut, it didn’t take long until she discovered that her tears had somehow made their entrance.


 

Exactly twenty seven days. It’s already four weeks into the month. How the number of days just seemed to fly by without so much as an explanation, Moana would never know. Work had been like it always was. Busy and demanding. Her lovely boss breathing down everyone’s necks. Various publishers coming in and out for meetings over what new and interesting topics will be featured in their new magazine. Which put Gothel under a lot of pressure, and that would be a reasonable explanation as to why she was constantly on her journalists to get cracking and come up with new stories.

So to say, the building was bustling by the time even Moana had stepped foot through the door. And to make matters even worse, the heater had broken down and there was persistent chill spreading throughout the entire building. It was already bad enough that it had been much colder outside than the weather forecast had predicted.

So that was another typical day working at her favorite magazine company.

(Yay?)

Finally after three hours of being on her feet all day, having to run back and forth between publishers and her office (though it felt like nine hours), lunch hour managed to once again be the night and shining armour she’s always dreamed of. She thought she could use the one hour break from all the chaos. Her body desperately needed it at this point.

“I can’t believe how busy it was this morning!” Rapunzel throws her hands up. Her green eyes bloodshot from clearly lack of sleep the past few nights. “I’ve never seen the building that crowded in my entire life! Ugh! Gothel has gone completely nuts! I’m telling you!”

Moana in return only nods. Hand balancing her own throbbing head. Picking at her salad, moving the red onions and tomatoes to one side, the green leaves in her bowl now soft and moist after having spent so much time drowning in Italian dressing. She and Rapunzel had decided that having lunch outside of the building was a much better option. They decided on Apollonia’s, a small little Greek restaurant that was within walking distance from the building. It still had its usual customers having the same thing in mind to come out and enjoy a nice quiet lunch. But fortunately, the atmosphere was quieter. Much quieter than having to be stuck in the hustle and bustle of Dream On magazine at this point.

Like the Nemesis Café, the inside of Apollonia’s brought a feeling of warmth and welcoming. It wasn’t too fancy, nor was it unsanitary. It was just right. It was a family owned restaurant. The waiters and waitresses were always nice and friendly to their customers. Moana had only remembered coming to this restaurant maybe only twice a year. But it was Rapunzel’s favorite restaurant. The reason being for the delicious and authentic Greek food. The warmth that the other customers brought. Moana could only assume that this was Rapunzel’s second home.

That was Rapunzel on a nice day.

Today however, was a much different story.

“I mean, this woman has us working like….like her pack mules! It’s ridiculous!”

Moana nods. Still picking at her salad.

“Ugh! And to mention these stupid articles! I mean, it’s already bad enough that it’s been like what? Almost three weeks since we’ve handed in our other articles? And she expects us to write double the amount in two weeks?! Ugh! This woman has seriously gone nuts! I can’t even…”

But clearly, Moana seemed to have other things on her mind that made the articles seem to be the least of her worries at this point. Yes. You could say her body was still present. Her mind however, was not.

“I mean, you know me already!” Rapunzel gestures to herself. “For me, I can’t continue writing more articles when I don’t get the previous ones back! That way, I can see where I went wrong, and that I know what to avoid when writing my upcoming articles!”

We’re just roommates! That’s all we’ll ever be!

Maui’s gruff voice suddenly grabbing hold of her thoughts. Digging and clinging onto her skull for dear life. Refusing to disperse any time soon. Stuck to her brain. Deviously lingering.

“If I have to see that witch’s face again….ugh! So help me! I will-“

We’re not husband and wife! We’re not even friends!

She’s wincing. The pain in her chest beginning to swell. Coursing through her body. On the verge of falling off a building. Her breathing silently increasing. Growing rapid. (In and out. In and out).

“Hey! Heeeyyyy! Mo? Helloooo!”

She was released from the prison on her thoughts. Snapping back to reality. She blinked. Gaze widened, her brown eyes meeting her best friend’s confused green ones.

“Yea?”

“Are you even listening to me?”

She blinks again. Shaking her head. “Oh uh….yea. Sorry…”

Rapunzel can’t help but let out a soft chuckle. “You haven’t said a word since we got here.” She grabs her fork and digs through her own salad. “I figured you’d be the first person to vent and rant about this whole thing.”

Moana answers with a shrug. “Yea….Gothel’s….definitely a witch alright.”

“A big one that is!”

“Mhm.”

Rapunzel can’t help but wrinkle her nose. “You okay?”

“Huh? Oh! Yea….I’m fine.”

“You sure?”

“Yea! Just…peachy!”

Her large green eyes squinted. “You’re not fine.”

“What?” Moana lets out a nervous laugh. “Yes I am!”

“No you’re not.”

“Punzie, I am! I don’t know what you’re talking-“

“Mo, just drop it.” The blonde lets a loose smirk hang on her lips. “Look, we’ve both come to the conclusion already that you suck at lying. No use trying to hide it.”

And…I’m caught. Again. (Damn it!). She hefts a sigh. “Is it that obvious?”

“You’ve barely touched your salad!” Rapunzel points with her fork to Moana’s now soggy greens. “And not to mention, you haven’t said one word about this whole Gothel thing! So something is definitely wrong here.”

(Damn her for always being so observant!)

Moana wrinkles her nose at the soft and moist leaves staring back at her. Even they too wondered why they haven’t found themselves being consumed at this point. Another sigh as she drops her fork in her bowl and pushes the dish aside. Suddenly feeling her appetite gradually begin to diminish.

She leans back in her chair. “Sorry, I just….have a lot of other things that I’m dealing with right now.”

Rapunzel picks through her salad. Shoves a mouthful into her mouth. “That makes sense.” She answers through a mouthful of lettuce. “What kind of other things?”

Moana shakes her head. “It’s not that important.”

“Well obviously it is since you seem to be stressing about it.”

She shakes her head. Refusing to say any more that needs to be said. Reaching for her glass of cold water and taking a small sip.

“Seriously Mo, what’s been going on with you lately?”

She doesn’t answer.

“I mean, for the past few weeks….. the pastmonth actually, you seem to be….out of it.”

She shrugs. Fiddling her fingers.

“Is it Mahina again?”

Mahina. God how tempted she was to just erase that name completely from her memories.

“Have you…sorted things out with overdue bills?” She shakes her head. “Has your doctor been hounding you down to come in for your appointments?” She shakes her head again. (Speaking of which, she needed to return Dr. Parr’s three messages.) “Are things at home okay at least?”

Home.

Home equaled Maui.

The way how her body twitched at the word confirmed Rapunzel’s suspicions.

“Mo, have there been things going on at home?”

Yes! A lot! She wanted to blurt out. But found that she had forced herself to press her lips into a thin line.

“Alright, Mo, spill.”

(How the hell does she….)

“W-what?”

“Spill.” Rapunzel puts her fork down and folds her arms across the table. “What’s been going on at home?”

Suddenly, going around the city of Vancouver and hanging up posters of “psychic best friend WANTED!” didn’t seem like such a bad idea. The thought was tempting. Very tempting actually. So tempting that she was considering snapping a picture of the blonde sitting before her, running back to her office and printing out her picture and running around town to put her poster up.

“There’s nothing going on at home. Everything’s fine.”

“No they’re not. I’m not stupid, Mo. I know you are already.”

“Punzie, nothing is-“

“I’m not buying it.” She shakes her head. “I’m your best friend! You can tell me anything!”

She sighs. “Look, Punzie, it’s really not that-“

“Just tell me! Please?”

Then without even thinking, she blurts, “My roommate hates me! Okay?”

And when she sees how Rapunzel’s eyes widened, blinking and unable to digest the words that had just flown out of her mouth, it’s quite clear that that was the last thing she expected to hear. Silence fell amongst them. Curious gazes from the small amount of customers roaming over them. But it only lasted for a brief second until they were back to minding their own business and enjoying their meals.

“Oh…um…” Rapunzel only blinked. “….wow. Definitely wasn’t expecting….that.

Moana rolls her eyes. “Happy now?”

“Happy that you finally told me? Yes. What you just said? No.”

She sighs. “Well, there you go. You have your answer.”

Rapunzel blinks. “Well, what makes you think that your roommate hates you?”

She sighs again. “Too many things.”

“Is your roommate a male or a female?”

Her fingers go to rub her temples. “Male.”

“How old? Forty five?”

“Thirty three.”

“Oh. So he’s not that much older than you then.” Rapunzel ponders at that. “I was gonna say if he was forty five, he could be going through a mid-life crisis or something.”

“Not at all. He’s definitely not at that age yet.”

“And this is the roommate that just moved in not too long ago?”

Moana nods.

“Well, how long has been in living in your house exactly?” She asks. “Maybe he still needs some time to….adjust?”

“But it’s already been four weeks, Punzie!” She hadn’t meant for the whine to come out. “He’s been living in my house for literally a month and he’s still…..I don’t know…”

Rapunzel only sighed and gave her friend a sympathetic look.

“He’s just been….so mean.” Moana shakes her head. “I mean, I’ve done everything I could to make him feel more at home and….” Her voice starts wavering in pitch. “….I don’t know. I feel like….he just…doesn’t like me…”

“I don’t think that’s true, Mo.”

“He hates me. I know he does. He’s made that pretty clear already.”

“Mo, I’m sure he doesn’t hate you.” Moana rolls her eyes at that. “Maybe he’s just…..not used to being around nice people.”

“I doubt that.”

“It could be true! You never know!” Rapunzel goes back to scooping another mouthful of salad into her mouth. “Remember that guy last year that was living with me for a while?”

“Oh….” Moana recalled that memory vividly. “Right, I remember that.”

Rapunzel nods. “Exactly! And do you remember how much I was complaining to you about how he was acting like such a jerk and stuff the first time he moved in? And how I was doing everything I possibly could to accommodate him and make him feel welcome and at home? Just like how you’re doing!”

How could I not remember that? “Yup. I sure do.”

“Well, just like I predicted, he just needed the time to adjust.” She gives and encouraging smile. “Eventually, after a month or so, he started warming up to me. And it turns out, he really enjoyed my company. The two of us became inseparable after that!” Then her smile slowly drops to a frown. “That is….until his contract here for work ended and he had to travel all the way to England.”

Moana nods. “I see. What was his name again?”

And Moana could’ve sworn she saw Rapunzel slightly flinch at the question. Then what looked like a flash of hurt soon followed. But then she quickly shakes her head and is back to reality.

“Ah, his name’s not that important right now.” She waves it off. “You don’t have to worry about that.”

Though not convinced, Moana nods.

“Anyway, going back to your situation,” She goes to take a quick sip of her lemon water, “my point is, you just need to give him more time. I’m sure he’ll start to come eventually.”

I can only hope for that miracle. She wants to say. But settles on, “I’m not sure if that will happen.”

“Sure it will! I mean, he’s a guy! That’s usually how guys are! They’re not really….programmed to be social like how us women are.”

Moana only lets out a dry chuckle. “Please, I’ve met a lot of different men who were definitely more social than you and I put together.” She sighs. “So…I don’t really think you can blame it entirely on biology or genetics.”

Rapunzel ponders at that statement. Then she shrugs. “Eh, I guess you could be right in that sense.” And her hand goes to find her fork. “But just trust me, he will come around. I’m sure he will.”

“Honestly, Punzie, I’m finding that really hard to believe.” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Especially after what he said….”

“What he said? Well, what did he say exactly?”

“That we’re just roommates.” Even the words sting when she says it. “And that’s all we’ll ever be. And how….we should stay out of each other’s way….and just go about our own business.”

Rapunzel paused from her actions. Gaping. Blinking. “He said that to you?”

“Yea.”

“Wow….that’s pretty cold.”

“I know.”

She blinked again. “He does realize…..that he’s living in your house…right?”

A nod from her to answer the question.

“Well, Mo, he has no right to be talking to you like that!”

Another nod from her. “I know.”

“Seriously!” She slams her fork on the table. A glare masking her features. “You’re letting him rent out your brother’s bedroom for a reasonable price! The least he could do is at least show you some sort of gratitude!”

“He doesn’t seem to think so.”

“Okay, Mo, look.” If it was one thing about Rapunzel that no one knew about, it was not to get on her bad side. Moana had seen those parts. Definitely not a pretty sight. “I love you. I truly do. But I’m telling you now, you need to start putting your foot down.”

“Punzie, that’s not gonna-“

“It doesn’t matter! Either you demand that he shows you some respect? Or you throw his ass into the streets! Simple as that!”

Moana had to admit. Hearing those words come from her best friend’s mouth was a little harsh. Considering the fact that it was Rapunzel of all people saying this.

“….Punzie, I can’t…I mean…it wouldn’t be fair if I just-“

“Do you want him to keep walking all over you like this?”

She shakes her head.

“And if I remember correctly, he came to you! Right?”

She nods.

“Meaning, he was the one that reached out to you through Craigslist! Right?”

She nods again.

“Exactly!” Rapunzel’s once radiant face transitioned to a sheet of red. Fuming. “So, if he wants to keep living in your house at an affordable price?” She points, and Moana slightly leans farther away in her chair. “Then you put your foot down and you demand some respect! Got it?”

She swallows. “Yes.”

“I mean it!”

“Alright, alright.” Moana slowly lifts her hands in surrender. “I’ll…I’ll do it.”

The angry Rapunzel instantly vanishes. A wide grin on her face. “Good. That’s all I ask.”

Moana says nothing. But nods.


 

Maui’s still in buried in his room when she passes with a basket full of dirty laundry. She had thought about maybe having a talk with him about the tense conversation they had a few nights ago. But decided against it. It would’ve been awkward to bring up anyways. Especially considering the fact that neither of them had said a word to each other since that night. So just like she thought, maybe it was best if she didn’t pester him more than she already had. After all, it wasn’t like she wanted to set him off and eventually cause a strain on their living arrangements.

So she finds herself in the laundry room. Setting the basket atop of the ironing board leaning against the wall, silently sorting the white clothing from the darks, the colors, and the lights. Just like how she had been taught from the time she was eight.

Her mind was still preoccupied with the conversation that she and Rapunzel had over lunch. Pondering over the fact that if she should consider taking her best friend’s advice and just put her foot down with this dude once for all. Or continue to maybe live a miserable year with him while he still treated her like garbage. The question rolled through her brain. Littering amongst her skull like last month’s leftovers. She shakes her head from the thought and decides to focus on finishing sorting out the rest of the clothing.

She goes to throw her whites in the washing machine, making sure to turn the dial so that its needle was pointed to the ‘delicates’ cycle. Filling the machine with a sprinkle of detergent and a slither of fabric softner, she hits the ‘Start’ button. The machine roaring to life. It's cycle slowly beginning to spin.

Well, that was already one load off her shoulder for now.

She still had at least three more to go.

Groaning, she lets out a large yawn and goes back to fidgeting with the still overflowing basket of dirty clothes that still needed to be tended to. Her head still throbbed from earlier today. Her feet were so sore and were now covered in blisters, and the worst part was, the pain in her chest was swelling more than usual. Certain she could feel it spreading to her bones.

Laundry was the last thing she wanted to be doing right now. Her bed was calling out to her. Her body literally wailing out to her for sleep. But unfortunately, these articles, and these loads of laundry were not going to finish themselves.

Not to mention, with the amount of water that she’s used in the past four weeks, her water bill was already through the roof. It was only a matter of time before it eventually reached all the way to space. She would find time to stress about that situation later.

She’s sifting through the pile of dirty clothing. Some were drowned in stains from various ingredients. The others worn out and smelled of perspiration mixed with a whole bunch of interesting scents. She wrinkled her nose at those and tossed them aside. She came across a crumpled pair of large fitting black dress pants and she couldn’t help but chew her lip at the sight of it. Hesitantly reaching for it and pulling it up before her eyes for a better inspection, she hefted a sigh. Frowning slightly at the big fat reddish crusty stain that just so happened to be located near the crotch area. Once again, courtesy of her clumsiness.

“What the – are those my pants?!”

She jolts with a sharp gasp. Not expecting to hear that same gruff voice that now seemed to be raised a whole tone higher than its normal pitch. And she wasn’t expecting to find his massive form standing in the doorway to the laundry room. Face pinched with a hardened glare.

“Shit Maui! You scared me!”

“What the hell are you doing with my pants?!”

She opens her mouth, then closes it. Eyes widened like saucers. Feeling like a deer caught in headlights. A quick glance at the stained paints that were held up in her hands on display for everyone to see. Then she looks back at him.

“I was just….doing laundry, Maui. I-“

“With my clothes?!” He moves towards her, ripping the pants from her grasp that had her flinch. “You’re still doing my laundry?!”

“Well, yes…I-“

“How many times have I told you to stop doing my laundry?!”

She blinked rapidly. Gaze stunned. “I’m sorry, I-I just-“

“For Gods’ Sakes, chick! Don’t you ever listen to what anyone tells you?!”

“I’m sorry, Maui. I was just trying to help.”

“I never asked for your help did I!” He glowers down at her. She sees his lip twitching and his eyes blazing heat waves at her.

She blinks again.

“Gods! Do you not have any consideration for anyone?!

She winces and takes a step back. Now this is what he looked like when he was extremely angry.

“You completely disregard anyone’s feelings and you just do whatever you please!” His voice raises. “You clearly have no respect for personal boundaries! And you don’t seem to give a rat’s ass about when people tell you to leave them alone!”

“Maui.” She looks at him, holds held up. “Like I said, I….I’m sorry.” Her tone was soft. “I just wanted to help. I didn’t think that it would upset you-“

He lets out a guffaw. “Of course!” Then the glower is back. “Because you don’t think!” She inches backwards. “You don’t think about anything! That’s your problem right there!”

She chews on her lower lip.

“You know what, I seem to have been way too lenient with you.” He pinches his nose. “So I’m just gonna tell you this straight up.” His tone threatening. “Don’t touch my stuff! Don’t talk to me!”

“Maui, can you just listen-“

“Don’t look at me! Don’t even breathe in my direction!” He’s fuming. Chest heaving. Face going red. Steam pretty much coming out of his ears. “I’m gonna tell you one last time….”

“Maui….I-“

“Stay out of my way! Got it!”

Her only response is to blink. Hard and rapid. Her body frozen, unable to move. His form looming over hers. And suddenly, she felt small. So small. And frankly, she was really beginning to hate that feeling. Not even her own father had yelled at her or spoke to her like this in her life. Never ever. To have a strange man whom she barely even knows feeling like he can treat her anyway that he pleased was shocking.

Stunned at his hostility.

And for some reason, Moana was convinced that somehow contentious attitude towards her seemed to be much more than just an innocent coffee stain on his shirt. Or tomato sauce on his black dress pants.

This was personal. She unfortunately couldn’t understand why. This was way more than just ‘giving him time to adjust’. She knew there was nothing more she could say to defend her argument. As far she was concerned, the argument was over. He had won like always. And she had been pummeled to the ground. Her victory long gone.

“Move.” He demanded. “So I can do my own laundry.”

He didn’t give her a chance to shift sideways as she felt his large body push past her. His arm hit her shoulder, almost knocking her off balance. So with what little dignity she had left, she presses her lips into a thin line, and goes to head out of the room like nothing happened.

But she doesn’t seem to make it past the doorframe. Her feet glued to the ground. The voice in her mind nagging her to put a stop to this. And instantly, Rapunzel’s voice was shouting at her. Her words replaying in her head. Spinning and circling.

The least he could do is show you some respect!

And…

Do you want him to keep walking all over you like this?!

Demand respect! Demand respect! Demandrespect! Demandrespect! DemandrespectDemandrespectrespectrespectrespect…..

For once in her life, she does the last thing that she ever expected herself to do.

“You know,” She turns around. Her own eyebrows dented, “if you wanted me to stop doing your laundry, you could’ve just asked nicely.

She watches as he stills from his actions. His was still towards her, and it stiffened at the words that were thrown at him without as much as a warning. Then, he slowly turns to face her, brows dented even more.

“Excuse me?”

“You heard me.” She glares. Hardly believing that it’s her voice that’s saying this. “If you wanted me to stop, you could’ve asked nicely. I was just trying to do you a favor.”

“And like I told you before, I didn’t ask for your help.”

“You’re right. You didn’t.” Her hands cup her hips. “But I thought if I’d offered, that you would be a little bit more thankful.”

“And why should I be thankful to you? Hm? Why should I?”

“Oh, you have plenty of reasons as to why you should be thankful!” She winces at the sound of even her own voice raising a whole tone up. “One, you’re in my house! Two-“

“Curly, you better watch-“

Two, I’m letting you rent out one of my bedrooms at affordable price!”

“You’re really trying my patience-“

“And three,” Her blood is boiling, “you were the one that reached out to me!

“You know what!” His own voice raised. “I’m-!”

“Hey!” She puts up a hand. “I’m talking! You’re listening!”

She saw his lip twitch. Though the scowl masked his features, for once in her life, it seemed like her words were understood. Loud and clear. Right now, it clearly seemed like he had no choice but to comply with her statement, pressing his lips into a thin line as she was the one glowering up at him.

“If I remember correctly,” Though her voice was at its normal tone, there was still an icy edge to it, “you were the one that came to me. Right?”

He blinks. And without thinking, he finds himself nodding.

“And as far as I’m concerned, you had many opportunities to decline this offer.”

She’s right. He hated admitting that.

“So what I’m saying to you is this.” She takes a step towards him. Her chest mere inches away from his. Her own eyes flashing heat waves. “You made this decision to live here.”

(Yes…that was true.)

You agreed to pay five hundred dollars a month for rent.”

(True too.)

“And, you made the decision to sign the contract.”

(Now she’s got me trapped….)

“So what I’m trying to say is this.” Her tone threatening. “You…..all this….” She gestures around the house with her hands, “this was your decision Maui! I didn’t force you to live here! You made this decision on your own!”

(She’s right. No use denying it now….)

“You knew what you were getting yourself into!”

And for once in his life, it’s a strange feeling to feel that his own confidence was slowly beginning to drain out of his system. Diminishing.

“And you know what, if this whole thing is about the coffee on your shirt and the tomato stains in your pants, then I'm sorry!” She seethes. “I’m sorry for trying to do everything I can to make you feel more at home!”

(Well….when you put it like that….)

“You can hate me all you want! Go ahead! I don’t care!” Rapunzel was right. This did feel good. “But what I do care about, is being treated like shit by a stranger in my own house!”

He chews on his lower lip. Suddenly feeling intimidated by her words.

“So unless you don’t want me to throw your ass out in the streets,” Her voice containing venom, “I suggest you start showing me some respect!

He averts his gaze. Inhaling sharply through her nose. His palms sweaty.

“Believe me, I’ve dealt with plenty of assholes in my life. And I definitely don’t need to be dealing with one at home!”

(Ouch.)

He stares at his feet. Frowning down at the ground. Feeling much too weak to even try to win this one. For once, she had won the ring. She would be walking out with the golden trophy. She had the victory. And if she was being honest with herself, it felt so damn good to be able to have gained that feeling back.

She hefts a harsh sigh. Pinching the bridge of her nose. “You know what, you got your wish.”

He looks up. Still frowning.

“From here on in, I’ll stay out of your way.” She sticks her nose up. “I won’t talk to you. I won’t even look at you. And I definitely won’t touch your stuff, or offer any kind of help to you.” She folds her arms. “Just like you said, we’re roommates, and that’s all we’ll ever be.”

Even hearing his own words coming from her mouth caused quite a sting.

(Was I really that harsh?)

“If we need to talk, it’ll only be about the rent. Nothing else. Deal?”

He blinks. Looking dumfounded and stupid. Part of him wanting to comment on the last part. But the other part of him was saying ‘just walk away for the sake of your pride.’ So instead, he huffs and gives a curt nod.

“Good. Then it’s settled.” Her brows still dented. “Have a good night, Maui.”

And as he watches her leave, all he can do really is stand there. Looking pathetic. His dirty pants still clutched in his grasp. Confused as to what had just happened. How quickly the tables had turned. And Maui knew this for a fact.

As much as he hated to ever admit this to himself, for once in his life, he screwed up. He screwed up big time. No doubt about that. And no use denying it.

The good news is that he finally got his wish.

And the bad news…..well…..he couldn’t help but think if his wish being granted felt right after all.

(What the hell have I done…..)

Chapter Text

The morning itself hadn’t exactly started out very well. For starters, Maui found that he didn’t sleep well for the rest of the night. He wasn’t exactly sure why it was exactly that he couldn’t sleep, but the continuous tossing and turning had pretty much said it all. When he woke at 6:30am that morning (the same time which he’s always woken up at for pretty much every single of his entire life since the moment he turned eighteen years of age), he felt more tired than usual. Which was definitely a sign of abnormality. Sure, 6:30am was an early time to wake up at. Heck! It was an early time for everyone to wake up at. But with a man like Maui himself, he found that he had adapted rather quickly to setting his alarm clock to that specific time to be woken up at every day. It’s always been the usual time he preferred to start his day.

Well, he didn’t necessarily prefer to start his day at that time precisely. It was more like he had adjusted to it. Way different to his preference. Frankly, had it been up to Maui himself, he would’ve had absolutely no problem with starting his day twelve o’clock noon. If only that could happen in his world perhaps.

But that was beside the point.

So to say, he woken up feeling way more exhausted than he’s ever felt in his entire life. Which didn’t seem to make sense to him. He wasn’t sure if it had been all that tossing and turning itself, or the fact that maybe his mind may have been preoccupied with something else. For some reason, he found that he couldn’t quite put his finger on it.

Something had definitely been bothering him. Rudely invading his thoughts without permission. He knew that for sure.

So when he finds himself attempting to washing and patting his face dry to be he got rid of the grogginess that had been deviously plastered to his face, he was certain he had heard what sounded like a light knock on his bedroom door. And at that moment, Maui would’ve been lying if he had said that his heart didn’t flutter with hope to know that it was maybe her that may have come looking for him.

Only, it hadn’t been a knock.

He found that he’s feet had eagerly moved from his bathroom to quickly swing his bedroom door open. But he had felt slightly disappointed to find that no one was there. Instead, he finds three of his white dress shirts on hangers that were hanging on his doorknob. No doubt that the delivery had been from her. Maybe these were the only shirts she got to finish washing that night and decided to have a change of heart. He gulped as he stared down at them, wondering if this was some sort of trap. Or maybe even a test.

So he hesitantly grabbed them and held them up in front of him to examine them closely. That time, he had to admit. He was actually impressed to find that his shirts were in perfect condition. Maybe even in better condition than before when he had been taking care of them. So as he’s slowly getting into his usual business attire for work, standing in front of the long glass mirror, his collar that was always pristine white without the tell-take brown lines of his colleagues who often skimped on their laundry looked far better than he’s ever seen it. His entire attire was neat and pressed and his blue tie a perfect knot.

It all began to make sense.

Maui at that time, couldn’t help feeling intimidated with just how insanely neat and crisp he looked. Not to mention, it had been his favorite shirt that he decided on wearing. The same top that had been showered in coffee stains for the past four weeks he’s been here. And it was the same top that she had taken the time to wash, dry and press. It was so spotless that one wouldn’t even believe that it had once been covered and drenched in a variety of stains from before.

Now, everything made sense as to why it was exactly that he was unable to abide in his peaceful slumber that night.

His mind had still been preoccupied with the unfortunate events that had occurred last night. The scene vividly playing out in his brain. Littering his skull. Refusing to leave any second. His eyes roamed over his large form in the glass mirror, carefully adjusting his tie once more, and for all of his life, feeling more and more like the world’s biggest failure.

Although, he would admit that he did indeed look absolutely charming, even more charming than he’s ever looked in his entire life, it was mainly because his clean shirt stood out from amongst the rest. The clean shirt that she herself had made sure to take extra care to properly clean and nourish it.

That was the first thing.

So when he finally makes it down the stairs and heads towards the kitchen, he’s slightly disappointed to see that she had beat him to it. She had gotten there first without much thought. He pauses in the doorway, swallowing, his brown eyes lingered amongst her person.

She’s sitting at the counter on the barstool, sipping on her tea slowly as she was careful not to allow the steaming hot substance come in contact with the flesh of her tongue so hastily to the point where she ends up with an unexpected burn. There isn’t the usual aroma fresh croissants, toast, hash browns, or all the other usual confectionaries one could possibly imagine for breakfast during any day of the week like she had always done to make his stay here more welcome and enjoyable. There was nothing. No food, no drinks, nothing.

Not that he had really been big on breakfast anyways. But this time was indeed different. And he couldn’t help but feel a little disappointed at the sight of seeing nothing in the kitchen that was prepared.

She cranes her neck from her cup, acknowledging his presence lingering in the entrance towards the kitchen. Their gazes meet for what seemed like eternity. And he can’t help but gulp and swallow. And for once in his life, his heart sinks in the pit of his stomach at the small scowl that she sent him and she goes back to focusing on finishing what’s left of her tea. Not a single word.

And something told Maui that she definitely wasn’t kidding when she said that she would stay out of his way. It was clear that after that little exchange between glances, she had meant every single word that came out of her mouth.

His wish had been granted.

And for once, this particular thing that he wished for did not feel right.

He takes a deep breath and gently sets his briefcase down by the doorway. He rakes a hand through his hair and clears his throat.

“G-good morning.” He mumbles without a second thought.

Her back stiffens at his voice. She blows through the rising steam of her cup. “Morning.” She mutters, and takes another tentative sip of the hot liquid.

He breathed out a small sigh of relief. Though when it came out, it sounded like a small huff. At least she said something to him. Though her back was still towards him. And she didn’t look at him when she responded. There was obviously unresolved tension that still lingered in the air. Much to his discomfort.

He presses his lips into a thin line. Suddenly getting the urge to start fiddling his thumbs. “…Is there um….” He settles on scratching the back of his neck instead. “….is there still….water left in the kettle?”

“Mhm.”

“Alright….um…” He’s suddenly feeling lost at words himself. “…is it okay if I….poor myself some coffee?”

“Sure.”

He doesn’t know what to say after that. Even the word ‘thanks’ didn’t really seem to foster in his mind that easily. So without another word, he silently makes his way towards the kettle. The one that was wedged in the corner between the refrigerator and the toaster. It was still hot, which probably wasn’t too long ago when she had poured herself some tea. So that was still a good thing. It was definitely the highlight of his morning so far.

He reaches into the cabinet above and plucks a mug from the shelf. He makes sure to put two teaspoons of the Maxwell House coffee powder into his cup (his usual dosage) and fills his mug the rest of the way with the water that’s clouded his mug in a heavy steam. The heat was perfect, he would admit. But it wasn’t the steam that was making the perspiration on his brow to surface. Though he was sure that she refused to make any sort of eye contact with him, just the thought of her still sitting behind him at that counter caused an unpleasant feeling to settle in the pit of his stomach.

And for once in his life, he was the one feeling nervous. And that much was evident when he noticed that his own hand was shaking as he’s pouring the steaming hot water into his mug. For once, she was the one that had him pegged. And the thought of that didn’t sit well with him. But really, it was only because he’s Maui Deeming that he manages to keep his true emotions hidden underneath, for he was not one to allow others to know that they’ve intimidated him.

But then again, it didn’t seem like this chick had a problem with showing her true emotions to anyone. And her actions last night was definitely proof of that.

He grabs the silver spoon he managed to take from the drawer. Stirring the contents of his drink so that he made sure that the powder and hot water meshed and blended together well.

“Your rent’s due tomorrow.”

He hears her say from behind him. And though he’s sure that she’s still not making direct eye contact with any part of him, he hears the edge in her voice that still remains. So much that it causes him to pause from his actions, staring at his reflection through the steaming hot liquid, and breathes a sharp, but tentative breath.

“Alright.” He says, though he doesn’t look at her either. “Thanks for the reminder.”

And when he turns to chance a quick glance in her direction, she’s now pushed her cup aside and is now tapping her thumbs against the screen of her phone. No doubt that she was in deep concentration as her mind was preoccupied with sending a quick text to someone.

As he’s leaning against the counter, he’s eyeing the empty barstool sitting right next to her. He has stop and wonder if it’s such a good idea if he just waltzes over there without a second thought and just proudly snatch the seat without a care in the world. And he would’ve done so had it been a few weeks ago. But because of the icy chill that was crawling up his spine and spread throughout the entire kitchen like some sort of a contagious disease, he felt hesitant about making a move that was so bold.

And Maui, he was bold man.

But the Maui now, not so much.

(The seat’s literally sitting right in front of you. Just take it for crying out loud!)

You’ve obviously pissed her off! Look what you did you ass!

He finds his feet moving across the kitchen and he’s standing at the counter. Eyes cautiously darting between her, and the empty seat that’s deviously tempting him to sit. Mug still in hand, he inhales a sharp breath through his nose. Then his gaze is fixed solely on her.

“Um…..do you mind if…..I take that seat right next to you?”

She pauses from typing. Huffing, and then she shrugs. “Doesn't matter. Do whatever you want.”

He winces at the chill in her tone. But he makes sure he doesn’t let her see it. And because he’s Maui and his ego is as massive as the muscles the size of watermelons on his arms, he silently pulls out the chair and shifts so that his full body is rested on the weight of chair. And because he’s Maui, he does his best not to show that the deathly silence that’s pressing down onto the both of them is causing the discomfort to resurface.

And because he’s Maui, he mindlessly takes another sip of his coffee and attempts to enjoy the fact that his wish did indeed come true and that there was no need for forced conversation to take place. Only yet again, the uncomfortable silence that was following was not was he was expecting this to feel like. Instead, this felt like the devil had invaded his slumber and sucked his entire soul out of his being. Swallowing him up and then spitting him out like he was garbage.

He hadn’t realized that his own fingers had been tapping against the granite counter. Or the fact that his knee was bouncing. He chances another look at her person from the corner of his eye. And he would be lying if he said that he didn’t find it insanely freakish that she didn’t seem to be at all bothered by this.
She was merely just giving him what he wanted. Simple as that.

Only he wasn’t sure if this was exactly what he had wanted after all.

“So…..is there uh….a specific time you want me to give you the money by?”

She shrugs her shoulders. “Whenever you get it.”

“Alright….” He gives a curt nod. Taking another sip of coffee. “Did you….I dunno….want me to get the money by today? Or…..by tomorrow?”

“Like I said. Whenever you have it, just give it to me.”

He gives a curt nod once again. “Alright then. Fair enough.”

In turn, she answers with a shake of her head. (Ouch, so that’s what it felt like?). It seemed as if life for Maui definitely had its own plans. It was like one minute, things were completely normal. And then the next morning, the world seemed to have done a complete 180 degree turn and completely flip things around so that the tables were turned.

And truth be told, Maui would admit this right now, that being on the opposite side was not his favorite. For once, he felt like the worthless opponent. And the worse thing about it, was the fact that he somehow couldn’t seem to find his way out of it. All he knew was the fact that he definitely did not want to be stuck in this ring forever. He needed to get out. And fast. But unfortunately, he didn’t know how he was going to succeed in doing that.

Or if he would ever find his way out.

He was trapped.

And right now, there was definitely no turning back.

He hadn’t realized that he had downed the last drop of his coffee. And somehow the amount of caffeine he had just consumed didn’t seem to settle properly in his system. The anxiety he felt was still there. Alive and well.

He chances another quick glance in her direction. Opening and closing his mouth. And suddenly, there it was again. Word vomit. It was on the tip of his tongue. And he only did nothing but fight against it. There was nothing he could say. Nothing that he could do to make this situation better. The more he fought, the harder the word vomit was mere seconds from spilling out of his mouth.

Just say it already!

And he’s about to. His gaze still fixed tightly on her person. His mouth was about ready to open.

“Gotta go to work.” She mumbles as she quickly shifts off the barstool.

(So close…..)

“Alright.”

She moves to throw her empty mug into the sink. His gaze watching her person from his lashes as she moves swiftly to the counter to grab her purse and her laptop bag as she slings it over her shoulder. She grabs her jacket from the barstool. And for what seemed like eternity, her gaze finally met his for a second time.

But this time, her brows are pinched. Her lips curled. He swallows.

“Just make sure you’ll have the money by tomorrow.” She reaches across the counter for her keys. “No later than that.”

He nods. “Alright. I will.”

“Good.”

And before he had the chance to blink, she walks out of the kitchen without another word. Maui forces his eyes to blink. Rapid. All of sudden, he was the only body that was left in the house. By his lonesome. Unable to fathom what had just happened.

(Some morning…..)


 

As for how the rest of his morning went, well let’s just say it was the epitome of complete and utter disaster. Sure, he had shown up on time (at exactly 8:00am on the dot and not a single second late), but apparently showing up on time per say – and Maui was beginning to figure this out now – didn’t necessarily mean that everything was going to run smoothly. Well, at least to Maui himself, he at least hoped the rest of his morning would be a breeze in the park.

But after encountering what a horrible morning he’d had, well, it was clear that he was wrong. So very wrong.

For some reason, his clients seemed to be exceptionally meaner and more abrasive towards him than he’s ever seen them for the entire month he’s been here. He had made the mistake of sending in the wrong income taxes for a low-income family to a bank that happened to located in the province of Nova Scotia, as opposed to sending it to the Bank of Nova Scotia (otherwise known as Scotiabank). Due to lack of receiving a good night’s rest, instead of his brain being on high alert like it always had been, his mind had been asleep for pretty much the entire day. A prime example of how he mistakenly printed over fifty copies of tax work (ending up with one hundred and fifty that morning), when he was only ordered to print forty.

Not to mention, he was groggier and much slower than he usually was. And as a result, a throbbing pain began to form between the creases of his brows.

So after that morning, Maui for once, had finally learned what people mean when they say that their ‘world is falling apart’. Seeing as this was literally the morning he’s had to deal with. Thankfully for his sake, Bob wasn’t entirely angry with him. A bit disappointed? Yes. Furious to the point where he wanted to strangle him? Not really. He was sure to give him a bit of a stern talking to, but then eventually brushed it off and had advised him not to sweat it, and that everyone has their ‘bad’ and ‘off’ days. Which was understandable.

For a morning like how Maui had, ‘bad’ and ‘off’ seemed like a bit of understatement. But then again, he could be exaggerating.

Thankfully for him, lunch hour had appeared to the rescue. And god how much he needed this half hour break. Well, Bob had strongly advised him to take the full hour instead of only half. Clearly, he needed it. And he didn’t seem to object.

He witnesses his phone vibrating impatiently on the wooden table. His screen lighting up. And for once in his life, Maui would be lying if he said that he didn’t feel his heart flutter at the sight. Hope and longing filling his insides at the possibility of seeing her name popping up on his being the cause of his phone to viciously assault the defenseless table. After he quickly reaches for the phone and balances it in his large hand, his brows dent even more at the sight of what was on his screen.

He’s disappointed to find Eugene Fitz Herbert’s name (of all people) intrusively pop up on his screen. So without a second thought, his thumb taps the ‘read text message’ button.

From Eugene Fitz Herbert:

‘Heard the big man gave you a stern talking to. Ouch. Rough morning I’m guessing?’

He glares at the screen. Punishing his grilled chicken sandwich with a gruesome bite (way too much mayo and one too many slices of tomato for his liking), lets out a muffled huff and throws his phone back onto the table. He makes a face at his sandwich, wondering why on earth he had settled for this as opposed to something more satisfying to his belly.

Well then again, this is what happens when he decided to settle on yet another Tim Horton’s run. It suddenly all began to make sense as to why he felt like he was chewing cardboard as opposed to an actual freshly made grilled chicken sandwich. He had forgotten to pack his lunch the night before. And he didn’t seem to have time to do that this morning. So it was another unfortunate Tim Horton’s day once again.

Luckily the shop itself hadn’t been so busy. There was maybe a couple other customers in, but it wasn’t loud nor was it rowdy as he thought it would be. But then again, it was a Tuesday. And Tuesday’s usually seemed to be the chill days. So that was a plus.

Deciding his stomach couldn’t take anymore abuse from the cardboard tasting and fatty toxins that he was giving it, he tosses the rest of his sandwich aside with a snarl and instead decides to settle on Tim Horton’s most horrible cup of black coffee and two sugars he had ever tasted. But right now, his body seemed to need more caffeine in its system if he was going to survive the last four hours of his shift.

Plus, he had already paid for it, so it looked like he was out of luck.

He takes a slow sip. Eyes fixed on the view standing outside the large glass window, watching various cars speed by over the speed bumps, people walking by with their dogs or their arms full of groceries or take-out food. The sky was a mix of grey and some blue peaking from the clouds. But other than that, outside seemed to look miserable, in sync with his own emotions. He hadn’t bothered to settle on sitting in the staff room at work to eat. Not that no one wanted him there. He had needed time to be alone, and not having to feel the pressure of having to part-take in unwanted conversation through a smile and cheery tone that were both obviously fake.

His phone buzzes again for the second time. And his eyes are eager to find the brightly lit screen. But is once again disappointed by the sight. A reminder alerting him that he had a business meeting tomorrow morning at 10:00am sharp. Like he didn’t know that from before.

For some strange reason, Maui wasn’t able to fathom what he was feeling right now. He had gotten his wish, just like he had hoped for. Just like even she mirrored the exact words. And for some reason, the thought just didn’t seem to want to sit with him. For once in his life, Maui would actually had to admit that this well……it sucked.

It sucked. A lot.

He never thought that after getting what he wanted, that he would be wishing and silently hoping that her name would pop up on his phone for whatever reason she could think of. But after this morning, he hadn’t heard from her since.

And frankly, he knew he wasn’t going to hear from her any time soon. Or even the next day. Or possibly even for the year until his contract is up.

(You got what you wanted…..so suck it up! She’s not bothering you anymore!)

And something about those words seemed bothersome.

(Get a grip dude! This is what you wanted!)

It didn’t feel right.

None of it did.

“Maui?”

He looked up from his coffee. Nani stood above him. A bag of what smelled like cream of broccoli soup while balancing a bottle of water in her other hand. A concerned look on her face that was clearly covered by a small smile instead.

“Oh…hey.” He rakes a hand through his curls. “Sorry, I….didn’t see you standing there.”

“Eh, it’s alright.” She shrugs. “I got here not too long ago anyways.”

Even the sight of seeing Nani standing so close to him (her hip brushed against his broad shoulder) for some reason didn’t seem to excite him as much as before. Now that was definitely weird.

“Guess you had the same idea too, huh.” He nods towards her bag of food.

“Precisely.” She gives him a small smile. “Want some company?”

He shrugs. “Sure.”

Because who was he to turn good company? Especially when it was company from Nani. (Ah! Now that’s more like it!)

“So....you had a bit of a rough morning.” She says as she settles onto the wooden booth across from him. “That’s usually not like you.”

He shrugs again. “It is what it is.”

She blinks. Watching his person. “Is everything okay?”

“Yea.” He tilts his cup to his mouth. “Just peachy.”

“….Are you sure about that?”

(Now why does that sound strangely familiar all of a sudden?)

“Yea.”

The two of them sit in silence. Maui looking down at his coffee, and Nani can’t help but keeping her gaze peeled to him. The exception of the constant beeping from the cash vendor, the shuffling and mumbled yelling from the cashiers. And suddenly, Nani for once began to feel like she was the bad guy. After all, to her, the one word answers and all that, all of it seemed pretty clear from where she was sitting.

She takes a deep breath, and goes for the plunge. “Look, Maui.” She begins, twiddling her thumbs (Even that looked too familiar). “I….I hope you can forgive me.”

He looks up. “For what exactly?”

For….you know…..” She tilts her head. “For….that time in the parking lot.”

He quirks a brow.

“….when you….asked me out.”

Oh. That. Of course. How could he let such a wonderful memory such as that slip his mind?

He takes another sip of his coffee. Grimacing at the bitter taste. Though it wasn’t just the coffee itself that suddenly caused his emotions to shift.

“It’s whatever.” He says. “I forgive you.”

“That doesn’t sound very convincing.” He can hear the smirk in her voice. “Look, I know that….” She carefully removes her container of hot soup from her bag. “….things have been a bit….awkward between us lately.”

He cradles his cup, and produces what sounds like a huff and a snort meshed together. (And he thought he was having a slow morning.)

“Maui, what I’m trying to say is…..I just don’t want there to be any bad blood between us.”

(Of course not! Why would there be any such thing? I mean, it’s not like you mentioned your on again off again boyfriend or anything….)

“I just, y’know, wanna make sure that…you and I are still on good terms.”

He shrugs. “Fair enough.”

She studies him. Nods. “Alright….” Though she’s still not entirely convinced. “So….there’s no beef between us then, right?”

There’s silence again. But this time, a short one. One that’s filling up the space with unresolved tension and Maui’s thoughts suddenly shifting to the unexpected conversation (well mostly on Eugene’s part) he had had with Eugene the day before. If she wasn’t still hooked on that loser boyfriend of hers, and he finds himself cracking the tension in his neck to fill up some space.

“Of course not. Why would you think that?”

“Well, it’s just that…..you seem a bit distant today.”

He huffs. “Really.”

“Well…yea I guess.” She lifts the lid off her container. “I just thought that….maybe you were still upset about that encounter between us.”

Another huff. “That? No.” Then his gaze meets hers. “I mean….why would I be? It’s not like you….told me that you have a boyfriend or anything.”

She froze. Face flushing from its usual color. The opening and closing of her mouth confirming Eugene’s story.

(Aha! So he was right!)

“Y’know,” He downs the last drop of his coffee, “you could’ve just been honest with me from the beginning.”

And there it was. The word vomit. And as of right now, he had already lost the will to fight against it. Once it was going, it was nearly impossible to stop.

She blinks. Shaking her head. “I….” He had her right where he wanted her to be. Trapped. Pegged. No escape. “Where did you hear that?”

He shrugs again. “A little birdie told me.”

Her heavy sigh yet again confirms that she’s forfeiting the fight. “Look, Maui, it’s…..” She ran a hand through her hair. “…..a little complicated to explain. I just-“

“Look, if you didn’t wanna go out with me, then you should’ve just been honest and told me that you have a boyfriend.” He doesn’t know why he’s lashing out at her all of sudden. Maybe his pride was still hurt from this morning? “Instead of….pulling out every bullshit excuse you could find in the rejection book.”

She fixes her gaze on him. Feeling a frown creasing in the depths of her brows. “Excuse me?”

“Look, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m human, Nani, alright?” He focused on her with a tight glare. “Therefore, I have feelings. I mean seriously, did you ever stop think about that?”

Nani was still for a moment, swallowing down whatever fear she had in the presence of the man sitting in front of her, fixing him with her own tight frown. “Well, in case you haven’t noticed, Maui, I’m also human. Meaning that I myself have a feelings too.”

He rolls his eyes. “Yea. Believe me, I got that. And frankly it seems as though you clearly don’t seem to give a shit about other people’s feelings either.”

“Okay, hold on.” She puts her hands to stop him. “First of all, who the hell are you to tell me that I don’t think about other people’s feelings?”

“I’m just calling it like I see it.”

“The way how you see it?” She leans back in her seat, folding her arms over her chest, glaring and pulling a grim face. “Oh, so you think that just because I decided not to mention me having a boyfriend from before, all of sudden I don’t seem to give a shit about people’s feelings?”

“That is what I’ve been saying. In case you haven’t noticed.”

She pursues her lips. “Are you being serious right now, Maui?” She shakes her head. “You’re really thinking that?

And suddenly, he’s forgotten how to answer. Instead, settling on a sheepish shrug, all of sudden feeling like it was he who was the one that was now trapped. Averting his gaze from hers, focusing his line of sight on the now empty cup of his coffee that still had droplets of the leftover brown liquid glued to the bottom. Seems like they themselves had nowhere to run either. Just like how he felt right now.

“Let me ask you something, Maui.” He flinches at the sharp tone of her words. “Did you ever consider that maybe what goes on in my personal life is…..I don’t know….probably none of your concern?”

And always, life had decided to do a complete one eighty turn on him yet again. After all, she did seem to have a point there.

“Honestly, did you ever stop to think that maybe, the reason why I didn’t tell you that I had a boyfriend was because I didn’t want to put that kind of burden on you?”

His lips twitch, but he makes sure to keep his gaze fixed on the wooden table beneath. Now, she was the one that had him pegged. And all of a sudden, it was like déjà vu all over again. He’s back in that kitchen. He’s back in that laundry room. Cornered. The bully losing his power and shifting to the worthless victim.

“All I’m saying is that at the time, I didn’t know you very well.” She says tightly. “You didn’t know me very well either. We barely knew each other.” The glare on her face still tight and determined. “And in all honesty, I didn’t think that it was necessary for me to have thrown all that on you, considering the fact that you went out of your way to ask me out.”

(Well that’s just great! You did it again dude! When you will ever learn?)

Of course. This all seemed to make sense now. Clearly his judgement of her had been false. So very false. And the worst thing, was the fact that Maui had known that from the beginning. Obviously she didn’t come off as a selfish person only thinking of herself. It was more like she was selfless, considering the fact that she basically just admitted that even though she didn’t seem to know him as well as she would have liked to, that she was indeed taking his feelings into consideration.

Hell! She was sitting right in front of him, going out of her way to apologize to him about her actions, when there was clearly nothing for her to be sorry about. It was his own fault that he couldn’t seem to have taken the rejection gracefully instead of nitpicking to find ways to blame her instead.

But it obviously wasn’t her who was in the wrong anyways. She never had been.

“Not everything is about you Maui.”

Ouch. That stung a bit. But the worse thing is that she’s right.

“And frankly, I’m sorry that you can’t seem to handle rejection well enough to move on with your life, and to stop lashing out at people just because you feel insecure.”

Yup. The tables have definitely done a complete one eighty turn on him. Man, today just seemed to be not his day today. And truth be told, it kind of sucked.

“So, you know what, if you wanna sit here and wallow in your own self-pity, then be my guest.” She makes to put her container of soup back in her take-out bag. “When you’re ready to be a man and talk like an adult, then you can let me know.”

He sinks lower into his seat, going to stare at the ugly far wall to his right. He had thought that having received last night’s lecture had been the last time he would ever have to put in that kind of situation again. Who would’ve thought that after being told off by a young woman - who was merely a shrimp compared to him – that he would just brush it off and go about his day as if nothing happened? After all, it wasn’t like he had expected to be lectured by two women in less than twenty four hours.

Right?

Wrong.

Clearly, life didn’t seem to want to stop screwing around with him. And the worse thing, was that he was beginning to slowly start accepting the fact that maybe he needed to be put in his place once for all. At this point, maybe it was just time to drop the whole ‘asshole – I don’t give a shit’ attitude and just throw up his white flag and surrender already. There was no use to continue pursuing the battle if he was limping on one leg. The fight he had slowly beginning to seep out of him.

“Wait.” He says as she’s pauses mid-way from throwing on her coat. “Stay. Don’t leave.”

She quirks a brow, though she’s not fully convinced.

He heaves a heavy sigh. Lifting his gaze to meet hers. “Look, I’m….sorry.” The words feeling so foreign to him that he finds himself cringing.

She stays still. Letting her coat slide down her shoulders and folds her arms over her chest again. Knee crossed over the other, her foot tapping against the floor. Eyebrow still quirked, lips pressed in a thin line. Her form a caricature of his own mother whenever he received bad grade on his assignments from school.

“You were right. I was an ass.” Even those words left a strange aftertaste on his tongue. “I uh……I shouldn’t have lashed out at you like that.”

She stares at him. Though Maui was certain that he could see the tension slowly beginning to dissolve from her person.

“I had….no right to accuse you of such a thing.” He nervously rubs the back of his neck. “It was my own fault.” He says. “I should’ve just….left things alone. So for that…..I’m sorry.”

(Sorry? What the hell? Did I just say that? Oh man! This definitely is not my morning….)

And something about his apology seemed genuine. A little awkward? Yes. But for some reason, Nani had been expecting it to sound more forced. Insincere even. Though clearly, it seemed like this may be the first time in his life that he’s ever had to admit his wrong doing. And right now, it was a step. The least she could do was to go a bit easy on him.

He averts his gaze, feeling the heat rushing to claim first place to the surface of tissue in his cheeks. His palms sweaty, inhaling sharply through his nose, bracing himself for whatever psychological torture is to follow suit.

She sighs. “It wasn’t easy for you to admit that, was it.”

Please, spare me to the embarrassment. He has to resist the urge to roll his eyes. Yes. He gets it. He’s come to the conclusion that he’s now a terrible demon that’s forced to walk this planet.

“I appreciate the apology.”

He lets out an exhale. Okay, he was slowly starting to make some progress here, so that was a good thing.

“And for that, I’m sorry too.”

He looks at her. Brows furrowed. “For what exactly?”

She gives a slight shrug. “I mean, in all fairness, I should’ve just….mentioned the fact that I had a boyfriend from the get go.” Her gaze softened. “After all….it wasn’t fair to you to have to….find out from someone else.”

He sighs and shakes his head. “Well, in all fairness, you were right.” Okay, this admitting the wrong doing thing was starting to feel a little bit out of place. “It wasn’t any of my concern. I mean, what goes on in your personal life is….your business, not mine.”

She nods. “Fair enough.” She uncrosses her knee and places her arms to rest on the table. “In all honesty, I would’ve….eventually come around to telling you about it. But…..” She sighs and shakes her head. “It’s just…..things between me and him have been…..very complicated. It was just hard to determine….whether or not I should put a ‘label’ on it or not, so….”

He sighs. “I get it.” And offers her a small smile. “I don’t want you to feel like you have to explain things when you’re not ready. So…don’t worry about it.”

Her smile meets his. “Thanks Maui. I’m glad you understand.”

“It’s not a problem.” He nods slowly. “So….we’re okay now?”

“Yea. I’d say we are.”

“Good.”

This time, her smile is genuine. So maybe there was an upside to finally admitting some wrong doings. All tension had been settled. And frankly, Maui would be lying if he didn’t say that it didn’t feel good.

Really good actually.

(Really good? Huh?)

“So….” She takes her soup, still warm thankfully and uses her spoon to stir its contents. “Now that that’s out of the way, what’s the real reason why you’re so out of it today?”

He gapes at her. Eyes blinking rapidly. “Uh….pardon?”

“I’m not stupid, Maui.” Her lips quivers up. “Obviously there’s something else that seems to be bothering you.”

He shakes his head. “I don’t know what you’re talking about it.”

“Maui, c’mon.” She tilts her gaze to meet his. “I may only have known you for a month, and I know you keep to yourself and all.” She scoops a spoonful of her soup into her mouth. “But honestly, you’re not that hard to read.”

He quirks a brow. So much for attempting to keep his emotions buried under his ‘stand offish’ attitude. You’re wrong, he wants to say, crunching his fingers so that they crack easily. He chances a look at his watch. 1:00pm. For once, he was silently pleading to the Gods for the last half hour of his break to breeze by. This wasn’t the time, and place for that kind of conversation.

“Let me guess.” She challenges. “I wasn’t the first person you lashed out at this morning, was I?”

He swallowed. It amazed him how creeped out he was at how ridiculously accurate a woman’s intuition was. Sometimes, this was one the reasons why he was still single. It was just too much for him to deal with.

“You lashed out a someone else, didn’t you.”

He presses his lips into a thin line. He averts his gaze, going back to staring at that same ugly far wall once again. His silence confirming her suspicions.

“Was it someone from work? A client? Or perhaps another colleague?”

He only wished it was that simple. But unfortunately, it wasn’t. His eyebrows pinch together, sinking lower into his chair and raking a hand through his dense curls. His knee bouncing. His fists clenched.

“None.” He blurts. Inhaling sharply through his nose. “It was….a roommate of mine actually.”

And….the word vomit was back. Alive and well as ever.

“Ah, I see.” She nods, stirring her soup. “Did you guys get into a fight or something?”

He shrugs. “I um…..guess you could say that.”

“Is your roommate a male or a female?”

“Female.”

She nods. “Makes sense. How old is she?”

He make a face. “Uh….” Of course her age would slip his mind yet again. “…..younger than me, I know that for sure.”

“You’re how old again?”

“Thirty three.”

“So….what age range are we talking?” She asks. “Under thirty? Over twenty three?”

“She’s…..twenty four or…..twenty five maybe.”

“Hm.” She takes another spoonful, then makes a face. “She doesn’t seem to be that much younger than you.”

He shakes his head. “Not really, no.”

He’s not really sure how to explain the situation. But in all fairness, he’s not entirely comfortable with sharing the events detailing the confrontation that had happened between them. If he was being honest with himself, he really couldn’t explain it.

“What’s her name, if you don’t mind me asking?”

He quirks his brow a second time. It’s funny how one minute, she’s hesitant to explain her situation to him and in turn, he lets it slide. And then the next, she’s the one prying into his personal life. Another thing about women that always baffled him.

“You wouldn’t know her.” He decides to settle on taking another bite of his half eaten sandwich rather than letting go to waste. “So, her name’s not that important.”

“Try me.”

He fixes with a tight stare. “You’re a very determined woman, you know that.” Though the corners of his lips are begging to be tugged upwards.

She lets out a dry chuckle. “You’re not the first person to tell me that.” She smirks. “And you probably won’t be the last.”

“Could’ve fooled me.”

“So tell me, what’s her name?”

“Nani, I’m telling you. You probably wouldn’t know who she is.”

“You don’t know that.”

True. He couldn’t argue her logic. After all, she was one of the top financial advisors with a degree in business and a diploma in finance. It almost seemed impossible to continue an argument with her. Judging by the look in her eye, it was clear that she still had the upper hand. It was she who would be walking out of the ring with that golden trophy.

The smart thing to do would be to just give up while he still had the chance and walk away with what little dignity he could salvage.

He huffs. “Fine, you win.” He rolls his eyes and shakes his head. “Her name is……Moana.” The sound of her name on his tongue left a sense of longing swelling in his heart.

“Moana?” Nani blinked. “As in, Moana Waialiki?”

His brow slowly dipping to a furrow. “Yea…..” He drawled out the word. “…..you know of her?”

Please say no! Please say no! Please say no!

“Yea actually, I do.” She nods. (How great…..) “I happen to know her quite well actually.”

His face blanched. Great. So she had friends too. Friends that were most likely out to get him. He made a mental reminder to himself to sleep with one eye open tonight. Otherwise at the crack of midnight, his house would be barged into with an army of determined and preppy women with lit torched and pitch forks.

“Her and my little sister, Lilo, went to the same high school together a while back.” She explains. “Very sweet girl.”

Yup. Time to set his alarm to wake up him at midnight to make sure that the house was still secure. For his sake and for his safety especially.

“I didn’t know you two were living together.” She makes a face at her soup, and the pushes it to the side. “She’s not bad once you get to know her a little better.”

Easy for you to say.

“Sure, she can be a bit of klutz. But honestly, Maui, she means no harm.”

Wish I’d known that from the beginning.

“Trust me, the amount of times she’s run into me and managed to spill juice all over my blouse, it makes sense.” She gives a small chuckle. “I guess that’s what happens to those who have so much energy.”

He looks up. “She’s spilled juice on you too?”

Nani smiles. “Oh yea.” She shakes her head at the memory. “I remember her always feeling terrible about it. But I always told her not to sweat it. I mean, it wasn’t like it was the end of the world or anything.”

So she was just indeed a klutzy person. No big deal. It wasn’t like a person like that would ever have anything against him. She was true to her person. And as for Maui, well, it was clear that he was just a complete and total asshole.

“She’s not terrible once you get to know her.” Nani says. “From what I remember, she was always eager to meet new people. Always wanting to make them feel welcome.”

Another one of her traits she stayed true to.

He shifts lower in his seat. Feeling like the world’s biggest idiot on the planet. Of course, it was he who had to be the bad guy. Perhaps maybe it was too late to take Nani’s words into consideration.

“Look, Maui, I don’t know what’s going on between you and Moana right now, but if you want my advice, I’ll tell you this.” She keeps her gaze tightly fixed on his person. “You’d be missing out on the opportunity to build a long lasting friendship. I can tell you that for sure.”

He sighs. Shrugging his shoulders. It was probably too late for that now.

“I’m sure Eugene’s probably already given you his unnecessary advice on how to deal with women.” She shakes her head, making a face. “Don’t listen to him. He clearly knows nothing when it comes relationships and dealing with women especially.

“Fair enough.”

“I’m serious, Maui. Get to know her. She’s a sweet person.” She tells him. “Like I said before, don’t let this opportunity slide. And who knows, this might be a good thing for you. I mean, you might get a chance to expand your horizons and what not.”

“But I’ve been doing that already.”

“I meant socially. Not globally.”

Again, she had a point. She always seemed to have a point.

“I mean, with everything that she’s gone through over the years, this could be good for the both of you.”

“Everything that she’s gone through?” This reels in his interest. “What do you mean by that exactly?”

Nani pauses. Offering him a small smile. “Well, I can’t tell you that Maui. That’s something that you’ll need to discover for yourself.”

Of course. There was no way she was going to give him that answers so quickly. Which meant more work for him. He was hoping for less.

He huffs. “But….I don’t know how.”

“Talk to her.” She says. “Ask her how her day went. Or ask her more about her job, or he family. Or….I don’t know….talk to her about the weather.”

He lifts a brow. “The weather?”

She shrugs. “Well, I mean it helps….to a certain extent that is.” She shakes her head. “Don’t worry, you’ll figure something out.”

“But…..how exactly am I….supposed to strike up a conversation with her?” He asks, suddenly feeling the knots in his stomach beginning to twist and churn. “I don’t…..I’ve never been good at keeping a conversation going….”

“Well, it’s the only way you’re gonna learn.” She rests her arms on the table. “I mean, hey,” She gestures between him and her with her hand, “you seem to be okay with keeping a conversation going with me. Right?”

True. Again.

He nods. “I know, but…..” He fiddles his thumbs. “….this is….this is different.”

She quirks a brow. “Different how exactly?”

“Ah….I just….” He blows a puff through his mouth. “….I mean….it’s like….well….she’s a woman and-“

“So what? You’re saying that I’m not a woman?”

“What? No!” He holds up his hands. “No! No! I….I didn’t mean it like that per say….”

“Cause last time I checked, I do still have certain things in tact that a woman should have.”

“No – I – Yes! I – “ He groans and pinches the bridge of his nose, and then sighs. “I know that.” He mutters into the beef of his palm. “What I meant to say was…..that….”

She’s waiting. Patiently. Smirking. Foot tapping on the floor.

“Okay look, it’s…..different because…..you’re my colleague.” He explains. “And….she’s my roommate. So…..the relationships are….different…” He scrunches up his face. Even he wasn’t all that convinced that his words made sense.

She takes in his words. Pondering over them. Before she nods. “Alright. I see where you’re coming from.” That’s a relief. “But, that still doesn’t change the fact that we’re both women.”

True. For what seemed like the thousandth time today.

“You see how you and I are talking right now?” He nods. “Just talk to her like you’re talking to me. It’s not that hard.”

(Am I actually considering taking Nani’s advice on this?)

“I don’t know how I’m supposed to do that though.”

(Wait a second? I’m actually gonna go through with this? Me?! Talk to her?!)

“You’ll learn.” She tells him with a sincere smile. “Trust me. It will come naturally. Don’t stress about it too much.”

She was right. This wasn’t something worth stressing over. He could handle this. He could especially handle this young woman who was merely a shrimp compared to him. He would talk to her. Fake his enthusiasm, and then go back to the way things were.

Wait….could he? Would things really go back to normal?

(You’re smiting yourself! You big dope!)

He hefts another sigh. “So….you think this could really work?” He’s doubting it. There’s no way this was going to work. There was already bad blood between them. It seemed like it was almost impossible to somehow…..turn the blood….good?

“It will.” Her smile is still there. Guiding him every step of the way. “Trust me. Get to know her. You won’t regret it. I promise you that.”

Was he really going to go through with this?

“Alright.”

Yes. Yes he was.

“Good.”

He pushes the rest of his sandwich aside. He watches as she does the same with her half eaten soup. Clearly her taste buds seemed to have a mutual connection with his. They both hated the food here.

He stare at her. “Hey Nani?”

She looks up.

“Thanks.”

She grants him a genuine smile. “Any time.”

Yup. He had faith that things between them would develop into a beautiful friendship.

At least that counted for something.


 

When he’s finally leaving work at 4:30pm, his head was pounding even more than it had been this morning. He cursed himself for having left his Tylenol at home. But the good news was that the last three hours of his shift had been tolerable. His last three clients seemed much more pleasant than his earlier clients. At least he was able to stay on track with their statement claims and insurance bills. Bob had told him not to worry so much about his train wreck of a morning (well, he didn’t say ‘train wreck’ particularly. But it was the words behind it that signified what he was meaning to say).

And to top it all off, in turned out his one hour lunch with Nani was exactly the wake-up call he needed. So after they had returned to the building, chatting animatedly with one another, things had run more smoothly. And he was grateful for that. But that didn’t prevent the exhaustion from arriving. So yes. The rest of his day had gone. But he was still tired. And he wanted nothing more than to just head back home, put his feet up and melt into a coma for as long as he could.

He trudges to his Mercedes, ignoring the symphony of the various sounds of honking and tires screeching of the impatient drivers who were speeding down the roads like wild monkeys. He threw his briefcase in the backseat, reaching his arms above his head to stretch out his limbs as he stifled a loud, bellowing yawn. Yup. He was definitely going to get a good night’s rest.

At least, he hoped he would.

He’s about to climb into the driver’s seat, only to find his hand still glued to the door’s handle. A figure standing on the other side of the curb caught his attention. It was a young woman who looked as if she was waiting for the transit bus to take her home. Her arms clutched around her, attempting to shield herself from the chill that breezed by. Of course, she was standing alone. Pacing back and forth between the ‘bus stop’ post as if she had been trying to keep herself occupied.

Maui blinked. Squinting his eyes, he leaned slightly over the hood of his car, trying to get a better look at the individual. Because for some strange reason, this woman seemed to look vaguely familiar. A little too familiar. But then again, it could’ve been the fatigue that was fooling him.

For all he knew, it was purely just coincidence. Same color hair, same coco skin tone, same flowy curls that swayed so gracefully in the wind, same Coach purse, same laptop bag, same clothes-

(Wait a minute!)

Moana?

No! That couldn’t be her standing there!

Could it?

What? No! She drives for crying out loud!

Wait a second…..so…where was her car then? And why was she waiting at a bus stop?

All of sudden, Maui had forgotten what the term ‘breathing’ meant. Hitched in his throat as he watched her walk back and forth, up and down the grassy curb, minding her own business but seemed to be completely immersed in her own little world.

But what the hell would she be doing standing at a bus stop?

Clearly, his brain couldn’t seem to produce the answer was looking for. So the real question is, what next? Unsure if he should just dismiss her (if it is her) completely and just drive off as if he didn’t see her? (Though that was a total lie). Or…..if he should….maybe just maybe….swallow what little pride he had left and just march up to her and then….

Then what?

Ask her if she wants a ride?

He could do that. Could he?

For the first time in what seemed like forever, Maui Deeming had seemed to have lost the willpower to hide his emotions. He’s intimidated. He’s confused. He’s conflicted. He’s nervous. Nervous to the point where he felt he was going to shit his pants any second now. What he was supposed to do? The woman was right there. Standing in his wake. Now seemed to be the perfect opportunity to just for the plunge.

But the question was, what would she do?

Would she freeze him out like she had done this morning? Or like he’s freezed her out for the past month he’s been here?

Or would there be a possibility of having a change of heart?

So many questions. So little answers.

Ironic right?

Then, out of nowhere, he hears Nani’s voice ringing in his head.

This could be a great opportunity for you.

She’s right. So….what did he have to lose?

(Your pride! Your dignity! Your one shot of feeling like a real man!)

Screw it, he thought. He hefts a loud sigh, and finds that his feet seem to be the ones that are in control. He’s walking. Walking towards her. Her figure becoming closer and closer which each step he’s taking. He’s walking on the grassy patch on the curb, inching closer and closer….

“Moana?”

She turns. Face revealing that it is indeed Moana Wailiki in the flesh. His breath hitched in his throat as her eyes met his. But the knots in stomach grab tightly at his organs at the sight of her features merging to what looked a scowl mixed with an icy glare.

“Oh, it’s just you.” Even her words were sharp as she instead decides to focus her gaze on the portrait of the busy street in front of her. “What do you want Maui?”

He winces at her tone. Her body language clear that she was definitely not happy to see him. He rakes a hand through his curls, hesitating on his next move.

“I uh….just got off work.”

She shrugs. “That’s nice.”

He shoves his hands into his pockets. “So….why are you waiting at the bus stop?”

She pursues her lips. “Had to bring my car in this morning to get it looked it.”

“How’d you get to work then?”

“Bus.”

“Oh….” He scratches the back of his neck. “I see.”

There’s a whim of silence. A long one. A very uncomfortably long bid of silence that’s pressing down on them. Pressing down so hard that it feels like he’s being dragged to the bottom of the ocean. Drowning. He inhales sharply, and opens his mouth to speak.

“So….you’re heading home then?”

She nods. A curt one.

“Well, what time is your um….your bus supposed to arrive?”

She looks down at her watch. “Should be here in twenty minutes.”

Ouch. That was a bit of a wait. By the time the bus arrives, he most likely would be at home already. No use making her wait even longer than she needs to….right?

“I wish you’d….told me that you….had to bring your car in this morning.” Because he wasn’t used to ever having to be this sincere to anyone. “You could’ve….called me or something.”

She lets out what sounded like a snort and guffaw. “Me call you?” She fixes him with raised eyebrows, then slowly lets them slip into that same icy glare. “Like you of all people would give a shit.” Then she’s back to focusing on the chaos in front of her.

He sighs. A heavy one. Closing his eyes and pressing his lips into a thin line. He knew it was too good to be true. She had right where she wanted him. And frankly, it seemed like there was no turning back. He knows that expression all too well. He owned it. It was the same expression he’s given her since day one’s first coffee spill.

Yup. And the award for the world’s BIGGEST asshole goes to….

“I don’t need you to give me a ride home.” She tells him. “I’ll be fine.”

He blinks. Then sighs again. “Moana-“

“I’ll see you at home.”

Now was his chance. Go in for the plunge and don’t look back.

“Moana, it doesn’t make sense for you…..” He hesitates. “….to have to waste your money on bus fair, when I can just drive you home myself.”

She says nothing. A sharp breath from, body language now pretty much telling him to just fuck off and leave her be. And truth be told, the old Maui would gladly have accepted her request without a second thought and just stalked off.

But the Maui now, thought that maybe it was time to bury the hatchet and try to clear up all the bad blood that was between them.

“Look,” he takes a pregnant pause, “you’ve already granted me…so many favors already.” His tone is soft. “So…..let me return the favor.”

She rolls her eyes. Brows denting deeper.

“Let me drive you home.” It wasn’t a question. More like a gentle request. “It’s the least I can do.”

She sputters a sigh. Chewing on her lower lip, she slowly turns to face him. The glare on her face still there, alive and well, shooting daggers at him. He swallows, shifting on his heel, palms so sweaty they were dripping amongst the linen fabric of his dress pants. (Thank goodness they were black.)

“Fine.”

She marches past him without another word. He’s still for a few moments, sucking in a deep breath and turned to make his way to follow her to vacant parking lot where his car was patiently waiting.

As she plops into the passenger side with her arms still crossed, he has to silently wonder to himself what the hell he was thinking.


 

Moana sat hunched in the passenger seat of the speeding Mercedes. Eyes fixed on the moving view outside the window, brows pinched, arms crossed protectively over her chest with her laptop bag clutched tightly towards her stomach. The only movement that had been consistent with the now ten minute drive was when she blinked. But other than that, nothing. Not a single movement. Or even a subtle flinch. Nothing.

Not that she even made an effort to notice the guilt that was saturating in the man’s features. Because for the rest of the drive home, she had refused to make even the slightest bit of eye contact with the man sitting next to her. There was absolutely no way in hell she was putting herself through that again.

Of course, Maui was no stranger to the sudden hostility she had towards him. It was fair for her to express her anger when she needed to. After all, he deserved it. He knew he deserved it. His hands gripped the steering wheel for dear life, taking complete control as he managed to dip in and swerve in and out of lanes to get his destination sooner rather than later. No thanks to rush hour at its finest that was indeed the cause of the delay.

Just like he predicted, the drive home was a complete disaster.

The silence pressing silence between them even more menacing than it ever had been from before. Probably because for once, Maui was the one who was on the opposing side. And frankly, he hated it. He could only imagine the trauma he’d put this woman through for the past month.

He brakes. Vehicle coming to slow stop. Yup. Rush Hour at its finest. He looks at the dashboard. 4:45pm. Looks like they were going to have to spend another half hour in traffic. Racing home by 5:00 just to avoid awkward silence clearly seemed to have been tossed from the drawing board.

Plan B it was then.

‘Talk to her.’ There was Nani’s voice ringing in his eardrums. ‘Get to know her. Ask her how her day went.’

(For Christ’s Sakes…..I can’t believe I’m about to do this….)

“So…..” The word was said hesitantly, nervous. “You got off work early?”

She’s quiet at first. Then shrugs her shoulders. “Yea.”

He nods. “I see.” His grip tightens on the steering wheel. “So….” Ask her how her day went. “…how was that?”

“Fine.”

He nods again. Blowing air through his lips. “Anything….interesting happen?”

She sighs again. Avoiding eye contact. “Nope.”

“Oh….so….just….the same old stuff?”

“Yup.”

He chews on his lower lip. Fingers drumming against the wheel. Silently praying for the traffic to pick up so he could just escape from this awkward tension once and for all. And frankly, when he found he was able to crawl just tiny bit, even that didn’t seem to make the situation settle.

“You cold?” He suddenly notices her body shivering.

“I’m fine.”

“You sure? Cause I can turn the heater on-“

“I said I’m fine!”

He was silent after that. Pressing his lip closed as he focused his gaze at the line of cars stretching in front of him. Maybe for his benefit, it may have been a better idea if he just kept his mouth shut and didn’t bother her any more than he already had. But he knew that it wasn’t just his awkward attempt at small talk that was bothering her. It was more than that. She was merely giving him a dosage of his own medicine. Tossing it back at him so he could feel what it was like to have been in her shoes. And the truth was, it didn’t have to take Maui a whole month to figure that out.

He himself would admit that this was not fun. And that he deserved what was coming to him. Karma at its finest.

He pondered over the conversation he had with Nani. Thinking more and more that maybe she was right. No, scratch that. She was right. Maybe he did need to take a chance and get to know her more. Who knows what he could be missing out on if he didn’t. But the question, was how? How was he supposed to get to know her when there was clearly a red line between them? How exactly was he supposed to dispose of the bad blood between them and maybe…start fresh?

It will come naturally.

I’m sorry. He told Nani at lunch. I was wrong.

Could it work?

He hefts a loud sigh. Grimacing at the thought that traffic still hadn’t budged. He chances a quick peek in her direction. Her gaze fixed solely on the view outside the window. Refusing to look in his direction. Do it already!

“Look, I um….” He hesitates. “….I wanna apologize for….what happened last night.”

She kept silent. Ignoring him.

“I’m sorry for what happened in the laundry room.” Hands gripping around the wheel tightly. “It wasn’t….right for me to have….yelled at you like that.” He breathes. “I was wrong.”

She’s still silent. Though her gaze slowly staring to soften.

“And, I wanna apologize for the way I’ve been….treating you lately.” He’s sorry. He really is. “You have every right to be mad at me.” He says. “I’ve….I’ve been an asshole lately and….I don’t blame you for wanting to throw me out in the streets. I deserve it.”

She blinks. Eyes now downcast as her fingers pick at the buttons on her leather jacket.

“You’re right. About everything.” He keeps his gaze trained on the rush hour in front of him. “I should be grateful at the fact….that you’ve allowed me to live under your roof. Especially at a reasonable price.” He confesses. “Really and truly, I…..had no right to be so hostile towards you.”

He’s right. He didn’t. That she would agree with.

“Even after those times you…..spilled coffee on my shirts….I shouldn’t have been so quick to just…ridicule you like that.”

The heat to her cheeks surfaced at that. Her head was down. Eyes focused on the button of her jacket.

“So….what I’m trying to say is….I’m sorry.” He closes his eyes. “I’m sorry….for everything.”

His apology sounded genuine. She would give him that.

“I understand if you want nothing to do with me after this.” He says. “But….I just want you to know that I’m sorry, Moana. I’m sorry for what I’ve done.”

She hadn’t been expecting that. Actually, she hadn’t been expecting any of that. It was like music to her ears. So in return, she allows her gaze to soften. Allowing a few minutes of silence to pass by. Clearly it hadn’t been easy for him to admit his mistakes and wrong doing. And judging by the tone in his voice, this was a new field for him to be venturing through. Now the choice was in her hands. The apology she’d been waiting for was laid out right there on the table. Now it was up to her whether or not she wanted to either take and accept it. Or just dismiss of it completely and go back to hating him.

Though the second option seems a bit too harsh. Even for her.

She slowly turns so that her gaze is fixed on his for what seemed like eternity. A small smile tugging at the corner of her lips.

“I um….I wasn’t expecting that.” She looks at him. “I appreciate your apology, Maui. So, thank you for that.”

He breathes a sigh of relief. “You’re welcome.”

She hesitates. “If anything, I’m sorry too.”

He furrows his brow. “Sorry? For what?”

“For doing your laundry without asking.” She says. “I should’ve known better. For not….going through other people’s things without asking and all.” She pushes a strand of hair behind her ear. “I just wanted to help. You know, to make sure that you feel…..more at home, and not just feeling like you’re living a stranger’s house.”

Traffic still hasn’t budged. So this gives him a chance to look at her. Their gazes meeting. A small smile at her lips, and in return, he gives her his own small smile. A genuine smile. One that Moana finds herself suddenly feeling more drawn to him than ever. Her demeanor brightened, causing Maui’s heart to flutter at the sight. Rather taking an instant liking to that contagious smile of hers.

The one he found himself growing to adore more.

“I um….” He starts. “I really appreciate that you’ve…taken the time to do that for me.” Then he smiles. “So….thank you.”

She smiles. “You’re welcome.”

Seems like Nani had been right all along. Don’t judge a book by its cover.

“I’m sorry if I seemed….a bit overbearing in the beginning.”

He chuckles. “You have nothing to be sorry about, Curly.”

She blushes at the nickname. “No but I should be.” She looks at him. “I guess now….after being alone in that house for so long….I never really realized how lonely it can be.”

He swallows. The longing in her voice causing his insides to turn.

“I guess, just the thought of having someone come to live with me….” She pauses. “Well, I…I really missed the company.”

Something about her words sting him.

“It’s funny. My parents always warned me about invading other people’s….personal space….” She shrugged her shoulders. “….and boundaries.”

He’s quiet. Gazed fixed on the traffic that seemed to be now picking up.

“It’s never my intention to come off as….pushy or too ‘in your face’.” She confesses. “I’ve just….always liked meeting new people.”

He’s quiet. Taking her words into consideration.

She hefts a sigh. Chewing on her lower lip. “I’m doing it again, aren’t I?”

He quirks a brow. “Doing what?”

“Talking too much.” A small chuckle. “I guess this is the part where you want me to shut up, right?”

“No.” He says a little quickly. Shaking his head. “No, no. It’s fine.”

“Really?”

“Of course. I don’t mind.” He gives her a quick smile, then focuses on the view in front of him. “Believe it or not, I like to talk too, y’know.”

“Really?” She cocks a brow. Lip quivering up. “That’s surprising.”

“How so?”

“Well, all those times I was trying to talk to you, you looked like you were about ready to ship me off to Mars.”

He chuckles. “Nonsense! That’s now in the past.” He grins. “Y’know, back when I was young and foolish.”

She blinks. Fixing him with a knowing stare. “….That was last week, Maui.”

“See? My point exactly!”

She can’t hold back the giggle that soon follows. Even when she laughed, it sounded melodious. Just the perfect attribute to match her beautiful personality. And suddenly, it felt much better to make her laugh as opposed to causing her more pain and suffering.

“Listen, I uh….” He begins. “I just wanna say, thank you for washing my shirts.” He smiles at her. “Gotta say, Curly, I was pretty impressed with how they turned out.”

Her eyes lit up. “Really? I mean…they weren’t too….wrinkly or anything?”

“They were perfect.” He hears her breathe a sigh of relief. “It’s funny. They turned out way better than when I do them.”

She smiles. “Oh please.” She rolls her eyes and giggles. “I doubt that. I’m not that good when it comes to laundry.”

“Hm. Could’ve fooled me.”

“I’m serious.” She blushes. “I honestly didn’t do much.” She pushes her hair behind her ear. “I mean, all I did was just….make sure that they washed on the ‘delicate’ cycle.”

“Which is how I usually wash them.” He stops at a red light. Then he turns to look at her. “How’d you know?”

She shrugs her petite shoulders meekly. “Well, if I’m being honest, I remembered the time when were at Lalotai, that you said that you wash your shirts on ‘delicates’.”

He blinks. “You remember that?”

“Yea.” She smiles again. “It wasn’t that long ago.”

“Huh.” He grins, then slams on the break when the light turns green. “I’m impressed.”

“Eh, it was nothing. It’s the least I could do.”

“And I see that you ironed them too.”

“Of course!” She shifts so that her full body is now facing him. “I always iron my clothes after I wash them. It’s actually become a habit of mine.”

He chuckles again. “Looks like you and I both have something else in common, Curly.”

“The fact that we both like to iron our clothes so that they’re crisp to its finest?” She giggles at this. “I guess so.”

“So I’m assuming you spend at least ten minutes ironing a single piece of clothing then, huh.”

“Ten? More like twelve!” She grins. “I mean, c’mon! A girl’s gotta look good, right?”

He laughs at this. “Oh trust me! My feeling’s exact!”

Her laugh soon follows suit with his. “Well, I guess that’s another thing we both have in common.”

“The fact that we both like to good?” He smirks. “I would say so.”

She giggles again. And Maui could honestly admit that hearing her laugh brought a rush of warmth to his insides. It was toxic. But toxic in a good way. Contagious. Addicting. And he frankly, he was yearning more for it.

“Huh.”

She quirks a brow. “What?”

“Maybe I should let you spill coffee on me more often then.” He meets her gaze with a sly smirk. Braking at another red light.

“Oh….” She laughs, a light laugh laced with nerves. “I uh….I hope you’re not still….mad at me about that.” Then her face blanches, her smile dissolving into a look of pure terror. “….you’re not….still mad at me about that….are you?”

He pursues his lips. Dents his brows. Slams on the gas to speed through the green light. Gaze pointedly fixed on the view in front of him.

“Maui?” Oh god. I knew this was too good to be true. “You’re not….mad at me still….are you?”

He grips the steering wheel tighter. Brows still pinched. “I am actually.”

She blinks rapidly. “I….really?”

“Yea.”

“I….but – I – look Maui – I-“

To her shock, she’s baffled to find a small smirk that was now tugging at his lips. His shoulders bouncing as he deep laugh rumbles in the back of his throat.

“Relax, Curly.” He chuckles. “I’m just messing with you.”

She has to do everything in her power not to let her jaw drop to the ground. “I – but – so you-“

“Just kidding. It’s all good.”

He wasn’t expecting a slap to his bicep from her to follow soon afterwards.

“Whoa, whoa! Hey now!” He laughs, though he barely felt anything from her tiny fist. “There’s no need for violence!”

“You almost made me shit my pants!” She’s tempted to join in and laugh with him. “You had me thinking that you still hated me!”

“Well, I’m sorry!” He says through a fit of guffaws. “It was just so tempting! I had to!”

She groans, though it’s laced with a laugh. “You’re terrible! You know that?”

He shrugs, still laughing. “Well, hey….at least I’m not a klutz.”

“Wha – Hey!” This earns him another smack, which has him breaking into another fit of laughs. “That’s not fair! Knock it off!”

“Okay, okay.” He is guffaws are slowly dying down. “I’m done. I’ll be nice to you now.”

She folds her arms over her chest. Scowling at him, though the grin is still there. “You really are terrible. I hope you know that.”

He chuckles again. “Well, I’m sorry, Curly.” He gives an innocent shrug of his shoulders. “I mean….you’re kinda fun to mess around with.”

She glares, though it’s clearly fake and sticks her tongue out at him. “Meany.”

“Well, I’m just being honest.”

“Oh, how noble of you.” She sticks out her tongue once again. Then a shy grin tugs at the corners of her mouth. “Fine, I’ll admit.” She surrenders. “I am a total klutz….” A dry chuckle. “….aren’t I?”

Maui’s lips quivered upwards. “Total klutz? Yea. I’d say so.”

“Oh….” A shaky laugh. “Well, I guess that’s fair.”

“But a very cute klutz, that is.” He tries to pass it off as a mumble. Which unfortunately, he didn’t seem to succeed, seeing as this instantly caught Moana off guard and she perched higher up in her seat.

She smirks. “Cute?” She tries to suppress the wild grin on her lips. “Did you just say I was…..cute?”

“Depends.” He chances a quick look at her. “Do you want me to call you cute?”

She lifts her shoulders. Cheekbones lifted so high. “I don’t see why not.” Wait a second! You know how to flirt?

He grins widely. “Well, then yes.” He says. “I did call you cute.”

She smiles. “Well thank you.” She sheepishly tucks the fallen strand of hair behind her ear. “I’m…flattered.”
He smiles. Though his gaze is still fixed on the road. “Good. I’m glad.”

He can see out the corner of his eye how she’s trying to suppress the wild grin that’s forming on the curve of her lips. Her cheeks went a raging crimson. That was another accomplishment. And for once, he felt proud. Insanely proud at how this day seemed to be playing out.

“So….” She looks at him, smiling. “You really think I’m cute?”

He grins. “Of course.”

“You’re not just saying that, are you?”

He turns to look at her. “Trust me.” The grin still on his face. “You’re adorable.

A light chuckle from her. “When did you become so charming all of a sudden?”

“Eh, it just comes naturally.” It will come naturally. “It’s one of my many talents.”

“Oh really?” She smirks. “Well, you should use it more often.” A grin follows. “I’m starting to really like this side of you.”

Maui could’ve sworn he felt the heat rushing to his cheeks. A nervous chuckle soon following. His palms suddenly going sweaty, and his mouth going dry. So this is what flirting with someone feels like. Weird. But strangely very intriguing.

He gently presses his foot against the brake as the light blinked from yellow to red in the span of two seconds. He hadn’t realized that they were merely twenty minutes away from home. There was still a bit of traffic up ahead. And frankly, Maui for some reason, couldn’t be any happier. The sight of the traffic that still lingered in front of them, only meant that the longer they take to get home, the more time he could spend talking with Moana. And with each passing minute, the more he was enjoying her company.

Nani had been right all along.

“Hey.” She looks at him, gaze curious. “What do you say we…..maybe start fresh?”

“Start fresh?” She tilts her head to the side. “You mean like….start over?”

He scratches the back of his neck. “Yea…..” A light chuckle. “I mean….” He looks at her, gaze so intense. “….if you want to….then….I guess we could go from there.”

She studies him carefully. Her brow furrowed a bit, head shifting to the other side to get a better look at him. And then, much to his relief, her mouth changed into a soft smile. “I’d like that, actually.” She chewed on her lower lip.

His felt his heart stop. Brows raising with hope. “Really?” He swallows.

“Sure! Why not?” She’s beaming. Then she reaches over and holds out her hand. “I’m Moana Wailiki. What’s your name?”

He stares at her outstretched hand. Then he looks back up at her. Chuckling. “It’s nice to meet you, Moana.” His large hand grasps onto her delicate one. And that same tingly feeling resurfaces just as their flesh reunites. “I’m Maui.” He gently brings her hand to his mouth, placing a soft kiss on her skin. “Maui Deeming.”

Their gazes are locked on each other. Intense. Moana feels that her heart is about to burst through her chest. Suddenly losing feeling in her legs, she was pretty sure her cheek were the color of cotton candy. And at this point, she could care less if the sudden attraction she had for him was increasingly visible on her features.

Frankly, Maui seemed to feel the same way. Though he did his best to mask it.

By the time either of them were able to find their voices again, the light had blinked bright green, which left him no choice but to slam his foot on the gas and crawl through the slow traffic up ahead.

“So….if you don’t mind…” He had forgotten that his hand was still wrapped around her small one. “Did you….maybe wanna show me around your beautiful home?”

Her face lit up. “You mean like give a grand tour?”

“Yea.” He smiles. “Something like that. If you don’t mind that is?”

She shakes her head. “Not at all!” Her smile widening. “I’d love to!”

He chuckles. “Great. I’m really looking forward to it.”

She blushes. Noting that her hand was still enveloped in his massive one. “Me too.” Happy to find that he seemed to make no attempt to let go it any time soon. “You’ll love it. I promise.”

“I’m sure I will.”

They drove the rest of the way home. It was silent, but it wasn’t uncomforting. Moana was grinning like the Cheshire cat, blushing furiously as she gazed out the window to swoon over the view of the passing pinks, yellows and oranges of the setting sun’s rays. Her heart, mind and body in too much of a daze.

As he chances another look down at their entwined hands, Maui for once in his life, could not seem to remember when he had felt his heart flutter this much.

After today, Maui seemed to be sure of three things.

One, though he wasn’t able to have a romantic connection he hoped to have with Nani, he was certain that a lasting friendship was beginning to develop between them. And that was better than nothing.

Two, it turns out that his one hour lunch break had today was exactly what he had needed.

And three, shooting another look at their hands that were still locked together, he had managed to bury the hatchet with Moana. Which meant that things were going to change between them. And for once in his life, Maui couldn’t seem to erase the vibrant smile that was forming on his lips.

Maybe it was a good thing that life decided to take a complete one eighty on him today.

And not once did he complain. For the very first time in his life, he now had a reason to be excited for what tomorrow would hold.

Chapter Text

Moana could say that she had been eagerly looking forward to the next day. Actually, eager was a bit of an understatement. She had been excited to start the next day. So excited. Increasingly and immensely excited. So excited that she finds herself literally jumping out of the bed the second she caught sight of the sun’s bright rays spilling through the cracks of her closed drapes over her window as it had just been rising from its peak.

After she and Maui had returned home from work last night, Maui didn’t even have a chance to take his shoes off before Moana found herself eagerly wanting to give him the grand tour of her house. Which to her surprise, he chased with a chuckle and had graciously accepted the offer. Sure, he had been living in her house for a full month now, so it was clear that he managed to find his way around the house before. But because of their agreement to patch things up and to have started a brand new relationship, Moana had insisted that re-introducing the atmosphere of her house to him was another good way to start.

So she did what any great hostess would do and showed him around his ‘new’ home for the very first time. Though it was no secret to the both of them that they were fully aware of how knowledgeable Maui had become of the house. After all, they were starting over, so in the end, it didn’t hurt to have played along.

Thankfully, that had gone well.

Dinner that night was another one that had been successful.

They had agreed to settle on ordering in for the evening. Seeing as there was little time left to have prepared such a heavy meal. They decided on pizza. Both agreeing to split the cost between the two. Though Moana wasn’t really one for eating take-out due to the circumstances of her health, she had agreed that maybe stealing two little slices of pizza wouldn’t increase the ending of her life to near any time soon. Thankfully to her benefit, the size wasn’t insanely large. It was a medium filled with only six to eight slices.

They settled in on the couch in the family room with paper plates and the box of pizza resting on the Odom in and chatted for the rest of the night. Now that the ice was broken, and Moana having felt more successful in finally getting Maui to have a change of heart towards her, she was happy that their conversation had gone well from there. They managed to shuffle between various topics, changing from one subject to the next like flipping through channels on a television as if a toddler had gained control over the remote. They spoke about a lot of things. Asking one another how either of them had managed to land shipwrecked in a cultural country like Canada. Moana was even surprised to find that they even managed to throw in the topic of their favorite types of music, and even how both shared a love of appreciating various cultural backgrounds and what not. Another thing that they managed to have in common with one another.

They enjoyed having the opportunity to talk to one another. And they were especially beginning to enjoy each other’s company. Both discovering a mutual level of comfort between the two of them. One minute, Moana had been doing most of the talking for a bit. And then the next minute, Maui strangely found himself switching to that position, while Moana had switched to the role of the listener. Both fascinated to hear what next word or phrase would come out of the other’s mouth.

Moana couldn’t help but think that Maui had been right all along.

He did like to talk. A lot actually. Not that Moana was complaining at all.

For the rest of the night, they had taken turn sharing some stories about their high school days. Well again, Moana was the one who had graciously taken that lead. Maui in turn only listened. Naturally when it came to that specific topic about their child hood/adolescent years, Maui had made sure to choose his words carefully. Omitting some details, choosing instead to be quite vague with some things and speaking in fairly short sentences. Not wanting to give away more than he had wanted to. It mildly confused Moana a little bit. But thankfully, she was able to brush it off and find something else to talk about.

Before the topic of family could emerge, the clock had already reached 1:30am. Which secretly was much to both of their relief. Though they paused, gave each other wary looks, and then burst out laughing without a second thought. Both of them commenting how insane it was that they had managed to talk for so long that the hours had seemed to fly by without any advanced warning. But it wasn’t like neither of them were complaining. Not at all. But unfortunately, they had both agreed that they needed to be refreshed and energized for work in a few hours. So it looked like hitting the sac needed to be an option. Though it was clear that neither of them seemed to have no interest in putting the conversation on hold for another few hours.

Her giggling, his chuckling followed by a few moments of intense gazing into another’s eyes and even a smidge of harmless flirting being the final coating of icing sugar on top of the cake, the attempt to put an end to their conversation and resuming from where they left off in the morning didn’t seem to be part of the plan. But it had to be done. Much to their grief.

Moana vaguely recalled the moment they bid each other good night. How Maui had confessed that he was happy that things between them were starting to settle. Moana had agreed, heart fluttering as she told him likewise. So after standing face to face in the hallway for about five seconds of the passing silence, both grinning at each other sheepishly, they agreed on shaking hands for the time being.

Awkward? A little bit. Lame? Totally.

Though it was clear that even with the looks of longing that had been in both their eyes, it was Moana who had to resist the urge to reach on her tip toes and press a sweet kiss to his cheek. Not wanting to scare him off or turn him off from her completely. But it was also Maui who had to resist the temptation swelling inside him to just envelope her tiny form in his large embrace and hold her to his chest. And never letting her go. But even the thought of that seemed to intimidate him.

So they went their separate ways that night. Both departing to their bedrooms. And Moana had been certain of one thing that night. That she hadn’t remembered when she felt those butterflies lightly swirling about in her stomach in such a long time.

And if she was being honest with herself, it was the feeling she had been yearning for.

So, she had woken up extra early (Five am to be exact) and had immediately found herself in the kitchen. Rummaging through one cupboard and the next, rushing to the fridge and making sure that she’d grabbed every single ingredient she could think of. Stove had been on and ready to go. The kettle had been steaming with two mugs having taken their places next to it, scurrying from point A to B, whisking the batter, making sure that her pan was hot and the oil was ready to fry. And at exactly six am, she had to admit that she couldn’t withhold the widening grin that was stretching to her cheeks as she eyed everything set out in front of her. Everything was in its place. The food for a nice early morning meal were all neatly spread out around the Ocean Club South Sea Hawaiian Dining set that her father had built himself when she was at the age of ten. Placemats were all set with their respective plates, and cutlery was on each side.

That had made her feel satisfied at the thought of being able to accomplish what she had set out to do.

Yes, she had made sure to take her usual, hot morning shower and made sure that her teeth had been scrubbed well so that her pearly whites sparkled in the glass mirror. She made sure that her face was properly clean and polished, hoping to have erased any trace of exhaustion that still lingered amongst her features. She had managed to follow her morning routine in the exact same order as always. Shower first for about twenty minutes to half an hour. Brush teeth second for about ten minutes. Wash and scrub face for no more than seven minutes. And lastly, blow dry her waves for a minute, and let the rest air dry neatly. Her curls were essential to her look. There was no way she was losing them.

So after wiggling into her outfit that she reminded herself to lay out every single morning (her favorite cream colored pencil skirt with thin magenta stripes going vertically downwards, her matching magenta off the shoulder crop top and last but not least, the matching colored kitten heels), followed by a couple dashes of face powder and a swipe of subtle peach lip gloss, Moana finds herself in the kitchen, scarcely eager to start a brand new day.

She makes sure to pour the boiling hot water from the kettle into to the two mugs that she had placed out earlier. Plain black coffee for Maui with two sugars. Green tea with one teaspoon of sugar for herself. The usual. She hadn’t heard the stampede of large footfalls having made their grand entrance, and she nearly jumps out of her shoes with a soft ‘yelp’ as Maui’s large figure stood in the entrance to the kitchen. Eyes widened, mouth agape, and blinking rapidly.

“Gods Maui! You scared me again!”

His mouth opened and closed. A few times too many, resembling the image of a goldfish at this point. Until he finally clamped it shut, and shook his head.

“Uh…sorry….” He stammers, then turns to look at her. “G-good morning.” Then he blinks again.

She giggles. “And good morning to you too!” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Did you have a good sleep?”

His eyes are blinking again. “Uh…yea…sure.” Then he focuses his attention back on the elaborate view of the kitchen table that resembled what looked like a masterpiece. “Wow….um…pardon me for asking but…what’s all this?”

“Oh!” She laughs lightly, and follows his line of sight. “It’s breakfast silly!”

He chuckles. “Well, I know that.” And shake his head. “But….wow that’s um….that’s quite a bit of food there.”

“You don’t like it?”

“Huh? Oh! No, no! I-I mean-“

“Is it too much?”

His gaze meet hers. Noting the way how her smile had vanished. Brows creasing with worry. He shakes his head once again.

“No! I mean….” He looks back at the table that’s covered with plates upon plates of delicious dishes. “Did you do all this…f-for me?”

“Well….yes.” She gives a small smile. “I mean….I guess I just figured that since we’re….starting over again…I um….” Another soft laugh. “….I wanted to give you a proper welcome.”

“Oh….” He blinks again. Staring in awe. “Moana I uh….I don’t know what to say.”

She giggles again. Moving towards the table where the food is still present.

“I never did get the chance to give you a proper welcome, Maui.” She stands behind the chair, smiling at him. “So….all this….” She gestures towards the table. “This is my way of officially welcoming you to my home.”

He wasn’t sure how many times or exactly how long he had been standing there, blinking and gawking at the items that lay out in front of him. Breakfast looked delicious. Actually, more than just delicious. In fact, it looked like a portrait of an elaborate masterpiece of various cultural foods. The rich aroma of dish beckoned for him. His stomach rumbling and growling in protest. Unable to resist the rather delightful sensations that whipped up inside his memory at the mere thought of delving his teeth deep and fast into each and every one of the various colorful schemes of food that lay out in front of him.

The table laden with handcrafted delicacies – clear that each dish was carefully prepared with love and care- spread around neatly. Every single dish he could think of, and things he had never thought he would see again, lie in wait. Two bowls contained slices of breadfruit and papaya (Maui’s most favorite fruits) that were the perfect amount of ripe. Portuguese Sausage with eggs and white rice with steam rising off signifying the perfect temperature of not too hot, but still warm and tasty. There was countless amounts of Puna Goat Cheese. His mouth watered the moment he spotted what looked like to be Panikeke Lapotopoto. The fresh residue of sweet dough covered in a slithers of soft, sweet Fa’alifu. And Maui would be lying if he said that he didn’t feel tears of happiness beginning to build in his eyes. But he did not dare let one slip. And to add the icing to the cake, there were glasses laid out with waterfalls of Savi’i Popo poured into them.

“I hope you like it.”

He had been so divulged in the beautiful sight of food that he nearly forgot of the young woman that was still present in the kitchen with him. He forced himself to peel his gaze from the sight, and his wide eyes instantly connected with hers.

“I’m not going overboard again….am I?”

“I – well – I –“ He nervously scratches the back of his neck. “It’s just…..Moana…..you really didn’t have to go through the trouble of doing…..this.” He lifts a hand towards the glorious meal. “To be honest, I would’ve just been fine with coffee and some scrambled eggs.”

She smiled. “But I wanted to.” And sunk her teeth into her lower lip. “I wanted to return the favor for what you did for me yesterday.”

He keeps his gaze trained on hers. That same, beautiful and gleaming smile boring right into his person, inducing the butterflies to flutter about in his stomach. Not to mention, the determination in her eyes, the warmth that her entire being was capable of spreading around like a contagious but addicting disease. Though, there was still a bit of apprehension that lingered, noting how she seemed to look as though she was silently praying that this elaborate scheme wouldn’t scare him off. And truth be told, it didn’t. Not one bit. In fact, he felt anything but. And if he was being honest with himself, he was fighting the temptation to just march over behind that table, scoop her up into his massive arms and kiss her senseless. And the feeling was still there. Ebbing against his bones and penetrating through his ribcage.

Only he didn’t.

Instead, he offers her a kind smile. “I’m….flattered.” He croaks. “Really, I am.” A light chuckle follows. “Everything….the food….it looks amazing.”

“Really?”

“Really.”

“You’re sure? I mean….you don’t think it’s….too much?”

“Not at all. It’s perfect, actually.”

He didn’t miss the flash of red in her cheeks as her smile widened. “Great! I’m glad!”

He chuckles again. “Actually funny enough, breakfast happens to be my favorite meal of the day.” His eyes still on hers. “Looks like you liked out, Curly.”

Another giggle. “I….guess I did.” Pushing strays of hair from her face. “Actually, that’s even better! Cause breakfast is my favorite meal also!”

“Huh. Looks like that’s another thing we both seem to have in common.”

“Looks like it.” She smiles. “So….wanna eat now?”

“Of course!” Maui put his briefcase down against the wall and eagerly trots his way to the table. He pauses as his hands come in contact with the chair, then shoots her a wary look. “But first….” He cautiously shifts around the table, Moana’s eyes following his person as he big form is looming over hers. Lifting a curious brow as she follows to where his hand is resting on the cusp of her chair. “Ladies first?”

She blinks rapidly, staring up at him. “Oh! I uh….” She laughs lightly. “You don’t have to do that, Maui-“

“I insist.”

Before she could protest once more, her words faltered in the back of her throat as he graciously pulls out her chair for her. She swallowed at the sight of his large hand gesturing for her to take a seat. Her lips going dry as she had to force herself to shift into her chair. Her cheeks now a shade of red tint as she watches him shift into his own seat across from hers.

“How about we dig in?” He offers with a smile. “Shall we?”

She bites her lip and giggles. “Absolutely!”

Without a second thought, they each fill up their plates with food. Maui pretty much going for every single piece of dish that was laid out in front of him. After all, now was definitely not the time for discrimination against foods now. Moana herself had made sure to select the healthiest options, although she did manage to steal only one of the Panikeke Lapotopoto. After all, it wasn’t like she couldn’t resist the temptation that wallowed in the pit of her stomach.

“I hope you don’t mind.” She says. “About the food that is. I uh…I decided it might be better if I went a little less with the North American style."

“You mean without the usual bacon, scrambled eggs and French toast?” He says as he shoves a roll of the Panikeke Lapotopoto into his mouth. “Not at all!”

“You mean it?”

He nods eagerly. “Absolutely!” Moana couldn’t stop the giggle as he exclaimed through an eager mouth full of food. “Everything here is delicious!”

She chuckles. “Well great then! I’m glad!”

“Mmfgmf!” He nodded and insisted through a mouth full of food. “Mmf!”

She pauses mid-way from scooping a spoonful of rice into her mouth. And from there, she couldn’t stop the laugh that now filed out of her mouth. “Slow down, Maui!” She tries to bite back another one. “The food’s not going anywhere.”

“Mmphf?” He looks at her wide eyed, cheeks so full of food that he could easily resemble the character, Po, from Kung Fu Panda with a face and mouth full of cookies.

“You’re eating like you haven’t done so in years!”

The heat rises to his cheeks. And blinks. “Mfmg?”

“Sorry.” She laughs and sticks the spoonful of rice into her mouth. “I can’t seem to understand you with all that food in your mouth.”

In that moment, Maui wasn’t sure what he was more embarrassed by. The fact that he was indeed devouring his food like a caveman would, or the fact that he didn’t seem to be fully aware of how much heat had been racing to the surface of his cheeks. He probably resembled the color of a bright red tomato right now. Especially the fact that he’s sitting across from a young woman who had the table manners of a debutante. He blinks again, takes a moment to swallow down his food, all the while his eyes were still trained on hers.

He clears his throat and scratches the back of his neck. “Er….s-sorry….” He shakes his head. “I uh….I probably looked like a freak, didn’t I?”

She bites on her lower lip. “A freak? Not really. Food deprived? Most definitely.”

“That obvious huh.”

“A little bit.”

“Ah….” He goes to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I’m er….I’m sorry. It’s just that….it’s been a while since I’ve had a decent home cooked meal.”

She chuckles. “You poor thing.” Grabbing her cup of tea and bringing it to her lips. Still keeping her eyes on him. “I guess with all that travelling, the meal choices weren’t that great then?”

He shakes his head. “Not really.” He scrunches up his nose and offers a nervous smile. “I’m sorry that I looked like a gorilla just now.”

She laughs again. “Don’t be sorry! Actually, that’s a good sign.”

“It is?”

She nods. “That just means that you strangely enough, you enjoy my cooking.”

He smiles. “Strangely?” He quirks an amused brow. “Why wouldn’t I enjoy it? It’s amazing.”

“You think so?”

“Of course!” He grabs a piece of the breadfruit. “Actually, out of all the cooking I’ve tried during the times I’ve travelled, yours comes in first place.”

She blinks. Mouth agape. “R-really?”

He sinks his teeth into the fruit. “Yup.” He nods, savoring the sweet taste dancing amongst his taste buds. “I mean, who would go through the trouble of whipping up some of this amazing food?” He then gestures towards the steaming meat on his plate that he still had yet to devouring. “Like the Portuguese sausage for example.”

“Also known as linguica.” Moana couldn’t seem to take her eyes off him. “You’ve had linguica before?”

“Of course!” He laughs. “It’s one of my favorite foods that I used to eat all the time when I was back home in Savi’i.”

“Really? I didn’t know that.”

“Well, I could say the same for you.” He grabs another piece of the round fluffy dough that was still warm against his flesh. “You eat Panikeke Lapotopoto too huh.”

She nods eagerly. “Those are round pancakes.” She herself grabs one of those as well and breaks off piece. “My gramma always used to make these for us when we were younger. Even when were back home in Kohala.”

He takes a bite and sighs in satisfaction. “Now I see where you get your cooking skills from.”

She chuckles again. “I wouldn’t say that.” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “My gramma’s cooking was…unbeatable.” And she throws the piece into her mouth. “No one, not even my own mother could even compete with her cooking.”

“Hm, for some reason, I’m not really convinced.”

“It’s true though!” She says meekly. “I mean, sure I’ve been cooking since I was nine and all, but…” She pauses, then says, “no matter how many of my gramma’s recipes I follow, I just…can’t seem to get the same results.”

He nods and chews slowly. “I see.” Then brings his mug of coffee and tilts it to his lips. “But….you also need to learn how to take a compliment, Curly.”

And instantly, Moana feels herself blinking rapidly. Cheeks now flushed with a mixture of red with a tinge of pale. Suddenly wanting to cower down in her seat at the words that came out of his mouth. There was an edge to his tone, but not one that signified any sort of judgement or bitterness. More like security and encouragement. Though the way how his voice sounded when it was low didn’t seem to really help the situation.

“Oh….” She looks down at her plate of food, which was still half full. “I’m sorry….”

He looks at her. “For what?”

“It’s just….I…you’re right.”

He quirks a brow.

“This might sound weird but…..” She twirls a stand of hair between her fingers. “….I’ve always found it hard for myself to accept compliments and such.”

He shrugs. “It’s not weird. That’s usually the case for a lot of people.”

“That’s true.” She ponders, slowly nodding. “But still, I should’ve just said ‘thank you’ instead of….bagging on myself.” She lifts her heard to look at him.

“I won’t lie, it would’ve been a nicer start.”

She bites her lip, and the nods again. “You’re right.” Then she offers him a soft smile. “So…thank you.”

He offers one of his own in return. “You’re welcome.” He sips his coffee again. “I meant every word I said, by the way.”

She smiles.

“Your cooking is very tasty. Delicious actually.” He puts his mug. “So….thank you for this amazing breakfast. I uh….I really appreciated it.”

“Well, I’m glad you liked it.”

“I would actually say that I loved it actually.”

She grins. “Well, I mean…..why wouldn’t you?” She grabs her own mug and drinks.

He cocks a brow.

“I mean after all,” She makes a dramatic flip of her hair over her shoulder. “You did say that I’m a pretty amazing cook, right?”

He blinks. “Amazing?”

“Yup.”

A grin tugs on his lips. “I said that? Really?”

“Loud and clear.”

“Huh.” He reaches to grab a napkin from the dispenser, his eyes never her amused ones. “You sure I said those exact words?”

She crosses her arms over her chest. “You totally said that.” Grinning mischievously.

“I dunno, Curly.” He wipes his hands. “I think I would remember if I said something like that.

“So you’re denying it all of sudden?”

He shakes his head. “Nope.” His grin widening. “I’m not denying it, cause I know that I didn’t say that.”

“Liar.”

“Whoa, whoa! You calling me a liar now?”

“Yup!”

“Alright then, prove it.”

She lifts an amused brow, leaning forward so her arms are folded on the table top. “If the shoe fits,” her own grin spreading across her features, “where ‘em.”

Oh….she’s good.

Of course, he couldn’t stop the mischievous grin from spreading wider amongst his face. She was definitely, not word a lie, a ball of ‘spit fire’. Those deep brown eyes that signified determination boring right into his, the corners of her lips curling upwards, the tone in her voice far too smug for its own good, the way her body was leaning deviously against the table (her crop top slightly low enough to where the crease of her cleavage had the opportunity to present itself) and her left eyebrow raised as if daring him to challenge her.

And it was in the second that the sight of her now left Maui feeling slightly at loss for words. His lips had gone dry, but careful to not show it. The way how his stomach was doing those flips, and dare he say it, the aching he felt swirling about his whole body (even all the way down between his legs), it was rather difficult for him to resist the thought of her looking so…..sexy.

Oh gods….

He doesn’t take his eyes off her. Nor does she with him. It was that moment where Maui literally had to resist the urge to do something he would regret. His mind suddenly clouded with the thoughts of some of the things he could do to her right then and there.

Careful there dude….

Honestly, he really could if he wanted to. After all, it wasn’t necessarily a bad thing if he were to have reached across the table and scoop her up in massive arms and kiss her senseless. That wasn’t a bad thing. There was that, and also he could easily just maybe toss all the dishes and tableware off the table so that he could shove her on it while he climbed on top of her. That didn’t seem like such a bad thing either. It wasn’t like she would have a problem refusing. Maybe he could eventually rip off her skirt, tear open her shirt and claim her body for himself. Her nails digging into his back, crying and moaning his name while his massive form dominated her small one in the most lustful, seductive and kinkiest way possible…..

CHILL OUT!!!! COOL IT!!!!

“You’re lying, and you know it.”

Her voice breaks through his thoughts. Grateful that she was able to bring him back to the familiar planet of earth. The smirk still on her features, not daring to vanish any time soon. She was asking for it. She definitely seemed to want it just as badly as he does. Only hers seems to masked under her impudent gaze that she’s giving him. So instead, he chuckles. A low one.

“You seem quite confident.”

“Unless there’s a reason why I shouldn’t?”

“Huh.” He smirks. “Well, I dunno, Curly….”

She lifts her brow higher.

“I mean, ah…I don’t mean to brag or anything, but….” He shakes his head and then leans back in his chair. “Now….I’m not so sure if….”

“If what?”

He grins. “If….I dunno….you’re the best cook out there anymore….”

“Oh really now?” She pursues her lips, eyes challenging him. “So….you’re convinced that there’s a better cook out there than...moi?

“Yup.”

“Okay then, Mister Know-It-All, who is it then?”

He chuckles, then opens out his hands. “You’re looking at him.”

Moana lets out a guffaw. “You?

“Uh-huh.”

“Since when?”

“Since forever.”

“Liar.”

He laughs. “I’m serious.”

She studies him. Eyes squinted, though the smirk still lay astray on her face. Finger nails tapping soundly against the wooden table.

“You’re not convinced?”

She bit back another laugh. Slowly shaking her head. “Not fully.” Eyes glinted, a sly smile.

“Huh.” He tilts his nose to the air. “I’m sorry….” Then a dramatic sniff was sent in that direction. “Is that a challenge I smell?”

A wide grin on her face. “I would say so.”

“Ha! Alright then.” Maui sat up straighter in his chair. “Then it’s on.” His clasped together.

“Good!” She shoots back at him. “I like a good challenge.”

“Careful there, Curly.” His lips curl to the sides. “I wouldn’t sound so confident.”

“Is that a threat I’m hearing there?”

“If the shoe fits.” He leans closer towards her, paraphrasing her words. “Wear ‘em.”

She leans closer. “We’ll see about that.”

“Done.”

Beep Beep!

The loud chiming of Moana’s phone had abruptly put their little deal to an end. One minute, their faces had been so close to the point where the other could feel spurts of breath delicately hitting their lashes. And then the next, it happened in such a blur when Moana had jolted back and quickly reached to claim the device in her hand, which left Maui fly backwards and immediately clear his throat.

“Shit!”

He looks at her. “What’s wrong?”

“That was my alarm! I gotta go now!” She frantically searched through the dishes on the table for her wallet. “My bus will be here in five minutes and I can’t miss it!”

He blinks. “You’re taking the bus again?” Furrowing a brow.

“I have no choice!” It’s amazing how minute ago, she was calm and relaxed. Daring even. And then the next, it was like the Wicked Witch of the West was mere seconds from bolting through the window on her broom stick without advanced warning. “If I miss this one, then I’ll be late!” Her tone was now frantic, strained. “And I cannot afford to be late for work again – damn it! Where the hell did I put my wallet?!”

“Hey….” He hadn’t realized how fast his hand had zipped forward to grab hold of her tiny wrist. “Relax.”

“Relax?” Her eyes are wide. “Maui, I-I can’t”

“I’ll drive you to work.”

“W-what?”

“I said, I’ll drive you to work.” His tone was calm, reassuring as he spoke carefully and kept his eyes trained on her frantic ones. “Okay?”

She couldn’t seem to find the words to form on her tongue. Staring at him with a gaze so intense, though still laced with fear. All she could do really was blink. Rapid, her mouth opening and closing.

“I….Maui….you….you don’t-“

“I’m driving you to work, Moana.”

“But-“

“I’ll drive you there.” It was a statement now. No longer offering. “And I’ll pick you up afterwards as well.”

“A-are you sure?”

He furrows his brow. “Of course I’m sure.” And he means it. “As a matter fact, until your car is ready, I’ll provide you with transportation.”

“Oh….” The heat is rushing to her cheeks at this point. “Maui….I couldn’t-“

“I’m insisting.” He suddenly became aware of the fact that his large thumb was gently rubbing her skin. “Like I said before, it’s the least I can do.”

“Really?”

He nods. “Yea.” Seeming a hundred percent sure of his answer. “Besides,” He flashes her a grin. “I don’t mind being your chauffer for a while.”

And something about the word chauffer has her scrunching up her nose. “When you say it like that….I…”

The smile from his face slowly vanishes. “What’s wrong?”

“It’s just….well….I can’t help but feel….a bit guilty now.”

“Guilty about what?”

She hefted a sigh. “About me forcing you to drive me around everywhere.”

Maui only stared at her. His gaze softened, but the smirk was still tugging at his lips. “First of all, you’re not forcing me to drive you everywhere. I’m offering.

“Well….yea but-“

“And second.” He’s chuckling now. “Do you hear me complaining in any way?”

“No….”

“Well, there you go.”

“I….but…Maui, are you sure though?”

He has to resist the urge to roll his eyes. “Curly, if I wasn’t sure, I wouldn’t have offered now, would I?”

Moana was sure her face had flushed to a lighter shade. Suddenly feeling like maybe she should’ve just crawled into a tiny space and just stay there forever. So instead of trying to find another irrelevant excuse to try and argue his demand, she settled for a slight shake of her head. Having no choice but to agree with him and to just accept his offer once and for all. After all, it did seem like a better option to ride in a vehicle that had air conditioning with the sweet residue of mint laced with pine car freshener as opposed to having to be stuck on rickety bus with crammed between numerous bodies with the greasy residue of perspiration laced with the smoky smell of cigarettes, body odor and coffee breath.

She cringed at the thought. It was a much better option. Plus it would be having to be risk being late for work.

“Alrighty then, so it’s settled.” His voice breaks through her thoughts. “I’ll drive you to work.”

And then a soft smile slowly forms on her features. “Thank you, Maui.” Her voice soft. “I um…I really appreciate that.”

He can’t help but return her smile. “No worries.”

For some reason, Moana couldn’t seem to force her gaze to part from his. And for a minute, that’s how they sat. Keeping their eyes on one another. One studying the other so carefully, so intense, so curious, it was literally the definition of ‘two bonds can’t be broken’. His brows were slightly dented, and his lips were going dry once again at the mere sight of her staring right at him. The smile on her face, that same smile he find himself coming to cherish, so radiant that was laced with innocence and raw beauty, his belly part-taking in its own dance. And Moana’s blush seared to the surface of her flesh and for a minute, she thought her face was on fire. Her cheeks suddenly kissed pink like a spring rose, the blooming color so sweet against her coco skin.

And as her gaze abruptly ventured downwards, she had suddenly became mindful at the fact that her tiny wrist was still claimed in his massive hand. Watching as his thumb gently traced over the smooth flesh of her skin. His touch so soft, so soothing, so gentle, a rush of comfort coursed through her body and she suddenly didn’t feel obligated to bring her wrist back to its rightful owner. Her breathing became heavy, the saliva that washed amongst her tongue threatening to spill out the corner of her lips any second.

It happened in such a blur when she felt that her wrist was abruptly released from his gentle grip as he cleared his throat loudly, scratching the back of his neck and shaking his head. Her blush burning through her cheeks and her face immediately switched to the feel of a hot oven. Suddenly feeling awkward and embarrassed as she attempted to hide her rosy cheeks behind her curtain of locks.

“So uh…..” She twirls her hair around her finger as he speaks. “How about we clean up?”

“Um…..yea.” She looks at him, and nods. “Sure.”

He nods as he rises from his seat and begins to clear the plates from the table. He’s about to reach for the mugs, but Moana shakes her head.

“Oh, I got those.” She reaches across the table to claim Maui’s and her mugs. “Don’t worry about it.”

“You sure? I don’t mind-“

“It’s okay!” She smiles as she pushes her chair backwards so that she has room to stand. “I’m fine!”
“Positive?”

“Maui, I’m fine!” She giggles. “Really,” She rises from her own seat with a spring. “I’m-“ The rest of the words are suddenly cut off by the heavy panting. Her head beginning to spin, and her vision abruptly producing splotches of different shapes and colors. “Whoa…..”

“You okay?” His brows furrows, creasing with worry.

She tries blinking. But even the way how her eyelids are flapping so abruptly, even that didn’t seem to clear her vision. “I-I……” She reaches down to place the mugs back on the table, and suddenly even the mugs that weighed no more than two pounds had seemed to weigh her down more than she had anticipated. The mugs meeting the wooden table with a dull thud. “S-sorry…..I….u-um….”

“Moana.” Maui instinctively drops the plates back onto the table and he quickly moves around to stand by her, placing a gentle hand on the small of her back as she is now curled over the edge of the table. “Are you okay?”

She moves her head to nod, but fails in doing so. “I-I’m fine…..I um….” Her chest is tightening. Her breathing growing rapid, heavy, much heavier than she’s ever felt before. She’s bent over, face hidden in her curtain of her hair, hands shaking, waves of heat coursed through her blood and a cold sweat glistening in her features. Her chest clenching, squeezing harder and harder, begging for the oxygen that was dangerously slipping away.

“Hey, hey, Moana.”

She feels her body slowly being lifted from its state, propped up against his chest and the tender feel of both his large hands grasping onto her shoulders him brought a rush of heat throughout her body. Her eyelids drooping, but not from exhaustion. His massive figure that loomed over hers suddenly becoming blurry. His face alarmed, steadying her person.

“Hey. Look at me.”

She does. As best as she can. Her breathing still heavy. Her eyes glossy.

He peers into her gaze closely, searching her features. “Moana,” He takes his hand and sticks up his thick fingers in her line of vision. “How many fingers am I holding up?”

She blinks. Attempting to study the amount of fingers that are lined in front of her. Though her sight was still blurry, she had to do everything in her power to convince herself to produce the right answer. The answer that Maui wanted to hear. Needed to hear.

“….six.”

Maui looks at his three fingers. Brows creasing with worry, and then shifts his gaze back onto hers.

“A-am I right?”

He sighs. “No, Moana. It was three. Not six.”

“Oh….” Her own brows furrowed. And suddenly, the blur in her vision was slowly beginning to disperse. “Well….that’s still….c-close enough…..” She breathes, attempting but failing miserably to form a reassuring smile. “Right….?”

Maui only stared at her. Hands still grasping her shoulders to steady her. Face slipping into a more serious expression as he swallowed. Moana suddenly took on a pale look, as if she’d been painted with bleach, even her lips were barely there.

“Maui…..” She sighed heavily, so heavy. “I’m fine…..”

“Moana, I think we should-“

“Honest….”

“Moana…..”

She wiggles herself free of his grip. And when she goes to move around him towards the sink, just like that with one step forward, she loses her balance and crumpled like a puppet suddenly released of the strings. Thankfully, she didn’t hit the ground like she normally would. But was instead caught in Maui’s hold as he lunged forward to catch her.

“Moana!”

He brings her to his chest. Slightly grateful that she still seemed to remain conscious, her eyes still glossy as he holds her close and looks down at her. Her own gaze lifting to meet his. The fear he had in his eyes were obvious.

“Maui…..”

“Hey, hey.” He coos, pinching her chin between his forefinger and thumb so she can look at him. “Are you okay?”

And just the look of pure concern that was laced with some sort of compassion in his eyes was enough to steady her breathing, slowly but surely bringing it back to its normal state. Without a second thought, she reaches a hand to desperate grab onto his. The color in her face returning to its surface. She breathes another sigh, as she slowly nods, keeping her eyes on his.

“I’m fine now….” She sighs, confident with her answer. “I’m okay.”

He swallows. Definitely not convinced of her answer. Considering the fact that she was still wrapped in his arms.

Sensing his concern, she reassures him with a smile. “I’m fine now, Maui.” And she slowly regains her strength as she gently eases out of his grasp and begins to rise. “I’m much better.” She smiles, placing a tender hand on his shoulder.

He shakes. Wondering if what he saw was actually real. “Are you sure?”

She nods. “Mhm.” Then she flicks her wrist to check her watch. “We should finish cleaning up.”

He rises from the floor, his figure blocking her from moving around him. “Moana.” She looks up at him. “Are you positive that you’re okay?”

“I’m fine.” She says through a wide smile. “We should hurry,” She gestures towards the table. “Otherwise, we’re both gonna be late for work.”

So he grants her the opportunity to move back towards the table, reclaiming the mugs she picked up earlier and bringing them to place in the sink. Maui watches her, careful to trail her every move, searching for any sign of weakness that might abruptly resurface once again. Though he felt some sort of relief that she seemed mobile and operating normally, there was something that didn’t seem to sit well with him. He couldn’t put his finger on it, but for some reason, something wasn’t right.

She’s leaning against the sink, hands sudsy with soap as she’s scrubbing the mugs. And he doesn’t stop himself as he moves to stand beside her, frowning.

“Curly?”

“Yea?”

“You’re sure you’re okay, right?”

She turns to look at him. “Maui, relax. I’m fine.

“And…you’re positive?”

She smiles. Smiles so wide her cheeks start to hurt. “Of course. One hundred percent.”

And even the sight of her smile seemed off. It wasn’t the genuine smile that he was beginning to grow used to. No, something wasn’t right. He was sure of it.

“Hey, Maui?”

He looks at her.

“Do you mind passing me those plates over there?”

He hesitates, then nods. “Yea.” He breathes. “Sure.”

“Thanks!”

Yup. Something was definitely not right.


 

“Hey! So guess what?”

It was lunch hour again, much to Moana’s satisfaction. At this point, lunch hour seemed to be the only thing that Moana looked forward to do when coming to work. It was too bad that it didn’t require a nice fat pay check she could evidently stick into her pocket and proudly walk away with it. Truth be told, she could just imagine how beautiful that pay check would be if something like ‘lunch hour’ was part of the job. She would’ve been a millionaire right now if that had been the case. Unfortunately, it would take something as ridiculous as pigs to fly to convince the government of that.

Moana cocked a brow. “You seem happy today.”

“Because I am!” Rapunzel was eagerly bouncing in her seat. “And you wanna know why?”

Moana nodded. Scooping a forkful of salad into her mouth.

“So, you know how we’re getting our bonuses from work?”

She furrowed her brow. “That’s not for another two weeks though.”

Rapunzel scoffed. “Well obviously I know that!” She shakes her head. “But anyways, so when I get my bonus, guess what I’m gonna do?”

“What’s that?”

She smiles. Smiles so wide her cheeks are able to stretch all the way to Mars by now. “Well, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking lately.” She places her hands flat on the table. “And so……I’ve decided that I’m gonna use the money to travel back home to Munich!”

“Oh!” Moana blinks, nodding. “Well that sounds nice.”

“I know! And I’m actually really excited!”

“That’s great, Punzie.” She smiles, a genuine smile. “I’m glad. Do you know how long you’re gonna go for?”

Rapunzel shrugs, reaching for her glass of lemon water. “Probably for about a week or so.” She tilts the glass to her lips and swallows. “I’ll most likely be staying with some relatives or something like that.”

“Only a week?”

Rapunzel scrunches up her nose. “Yea….I know, it’s not very long, but you know Gothel already.” She cringes and scoffs. “We’re only allowed one week’s vacation three times a year.”

Surprise. Surprise.

“Oh right…..” Moana hefts a heavy sigh, picking at her salad. “How could I possibly forget that…..”

“I know, right.” Rapunzel stirs and tosses her salad around. “I mean let’s face it, she’d probably feed me to her dogs if I ever were to request time off for more than a week.”

“Well, that’s Gothel for ya….”

“Tell me about it.”

Moana only nodded slowly. Gaze venturing down to her bowl of Greek salad, and suddenly feeling her appetite begin to gradually diminish. Of course, it seemed as if just the mere mention of her boss’s name being thrown into existence, only seemed to either increase her stress levels, or decrease her appetite. Gothel wasn’t a nice person. She had come to realize that the moment she had first stepped foot into that woman’s office for her job interview. Gothel was the epitome of ‘Wicked Witch of the West’. You do what she says, when she says it and where she says. No questions asked. No objections.

Nothing.

How Moana managed to put up with literally working as this woman’s pack mule? It was beyond her reasoning. More importantly, the why she continued to work at such a high end and prestigious magazine company under high anarchies who showed below zero respect for their employees? Again, the question still remained a mystery to her. Or maybe it was the fact that the job paid good money. Well, not exactly good money per say. A decent amount of income was better than nothing. But of course, as her doctor would always say, ‘it’s not worth the stress if it’s only going to make you miserable, or sick’.

“Well regardless of the fact,” Rapunzel’s voice broke through her thoughts. “I’m just happy that I’m going.”

Moana smiled. “I’m happy for you Punzie. This will be good for you to get away and such.”

“Ugh, I know! I can’t wait! It’s been forever since I’ve had a vacation!”

“You and me both.”

“Seriously! I mean, I’m just so excited that not only do I get to go on vacation, but I get to-“

It’s amazing how even after eight years of friendship, Moana sometimes tends to forget just how much and how often Rapunzel tends to talk. Let’s face it, the girl could go on and go for hours without so much as needing a quick breath before resuming back to where she had left off. Not that Moana didn’t love Rapunzel. Of course she loved her! She was her best friend! After all, it was she was the one who had stood by Moana for all these years and the thought of giving up on her like most people would do, well, that didn’t seem to be a page turner in Rapunzel’s books.

“-and I get to stay with family, and go on adventures, and-“

One minute, Moana had been trying her hardest to hang onto every single of her best friend’s words. And then the next, the slight rumble on the table immediately alerted her that she had just received an incoming text message. Thankfully, Rapunzel was too busy babbling to notice Moana quickly swiping her phone from the table and tapping her thumbs against the screen to open her window.

Her heart stopped.

Butterflies in her stomach as her eyes scanned over the name of the recipient who had sent the message.

From: Maui Deeming

Hey Curly, just checking in to see if you’re still okay from this morning? You took a pretty nasty fall there and I just wanted to make sure that you’re good? If you need anything, please let me know!:-)

For some reason, Moana couldn’t seem to stop the goofy grin that had her lips quivering upwards. At first, it seemed kind of strange that he would text her in the middle of the day, seeing as he’s never done so before. But again, that was before they had broken the ice and pushed their differences far away to the side. And then the next, her body was tingling at the thought of him being so kind as to reach out to her, just to make sure that she was okay. It was such a sweet gesture.

That she couldn’t deny.

She bites her lower lip. And in an instant, her thumbs were racing amongst the keyboard of the touch screen to send back a reply.

To: Maui Deeming

Hey Maui, don’t worry about me! Like I said before, I’m one hundred percent fine:-) Really, it’s nothing serious and right now, everything is great! But thank you for checking in. It was very sweet of you to do so and I really appreciate it:-)

(Liar)

Lies. All lies. Well, that is except for that last part in the sentence. Her eyes scan over the message one last time, her thumb hovering over the ‘send’ option. And sucking in a breath, she wastes no time in hitting the button and that familiar blue bubble with letters and phrasing in it pops up. Signifying that her text was sent and there was no looking back.

“-oh! I can’t wait!” Rapunzel’s perky voice managed to slip through her eardrums. “It’s gonna be an amazing adventure! And-“

It wasn’t long before the events from the morning had begun to recur in her brain. For some reason, Moana could barely recall what exactly had happened. All she really remembered was seeing Maui who seemed to have been discovered what a single touch of heaven felt like having scarfed down her food in almost one bite. Maui having offered to drive her to work as opposed to her having to take the bus. All that she easily remembered. And then the next, it was as if her memory had been briefly swiped from her brain and before she knew it, she had somehow ended up on the floor in Maui’s arms. With Maui having been hovering over her, asking her repeatedly if she was alright. And in turn, she had reassured him numerous times – including the ones from the car ride to work – that was absolutely fine and that nothing was wrong.

(Liar!)

At least, that’s what she had wanted him to think.

After all, it wasn’t like he needed to be aware that this hadn’t been the first time this has happened to her.

Did she feel bad about lying to him? Of course she did. It wasn’t just out of spontaneity that she had decided to end up embraced in Maui’s tender hold. There was a reason for that. A reason that stretched all the way down to her bones and was penetrating through her organs and blood tissue.

“-and I haven’t seen my grandmother in a while.” The perky blonde went to scoop another salad full fork into her mouth, then pause mid-way, emerald eyes lighting up like fireworks on the fourth of July. “Oh my god! I'll get to see my granny again!”

Moana’s phone was quick to vibrate again. She quickly tapped in her four digit passcode to retrieve the text. Her heart skipping a beat once it was open.

From: Maui Deeming

Alright! If you say so! I’m glad to hear that you’re okay though:-) Also, I want to thank you again for breakfast this morning. It was amazing and everything tasted delicious! And…..I didn’t get a chance to say this to you this morning, but…..I’m glad that things between us are getting better. You’re a great person to talk to:-)

It was combination of her heartbeat doing a tango, and the heat in her cheeks transitioning to a raging crimson. Of course, it was no doubt that she couldn’t seem to supress the wild grin that tugged at the corners of her lips. She’s about to type again, but pauses instead. Her gaze scanning over the wording of his message. Her mind trying to cook up her next reply so that she could easily reiterate it in writing. Part of her was thinking that there are so many positive things she could say to him. Including their late night conversation that had them up awake until almost two am in the morning.

But part of her had been thinking against it. Instead, thinking that it would be wise of her to maybe stay away from producing an essay that neither of them had expected.

At this point, playing it safe seemed to be the best route for now.

To: Maui Deeming

I’m glad you enjoyed breakfast this morning! I wasn’t sure how it would turn out, but judging by your positive feedback, I think I did okay:-) You’re so sweet! I’m happy that things are progressing between us as well! You’re awesome and funny and I’m eager to get to know you more! So thank you!:-)

Lame? A little bit. But it was better than nothing. Or worse. Writing an essay.

She pauses again. Scanning over her choice in wording. And it wasn’t long until a mischievous grin appears, and her fingers type in their last phrase.

By the way…..I still think that I’m the better cook. LOLxD

After she hit send once again, it was a bit of a struggle to switch from focusing her attention to Rapunzel –who seemed to be completely oblivious to the fact that she had ended up talking to herself at this point – and checking her IPhone to see if he may have responded just as quickly as she sent that message.

“I remember all those times when I visited Munich with my family!” Rapunzel sighed happily at the memory. “My granny always used to bake us her homemade apple pies…oh! They were so yummy! And-“

New text message had popped up once again. Anxiously biting her lip to read his message.

From: Maui Deeming

Ha! Oh yea?!xD Well, hate to say it but you asked for it Curly……THE BET’S ON!

The perks of having a best friend who talks non-stop definitely had its advantages. Moana would one hundred percent agree with that. After all, Rapunzel seemed to be too preoccupied with fantasizing about her dream trip back to her home town in Munich, Germany. So oblivious to the fact that she had totally missed the scene of Moana having to stifle back a laugh at the text she had just received.

So he was not only charming, but chivalrous with touch of compassionate, and a hint of humor.

Seemed to reach almost Moana’s standards.

To: Maui Deeming

Then you owe me a meal big guy!:-P

(Big guy? Did I really just say that?)

She cringes slightly at the last two words after it was too late before she hit ‘send’. Praying to the gods that those wouldn’t come off as offensive. And after having been seven minutes that passed with still no text from him, Moana would be lying if she said that she wasn’t beginning to feel like the world’s biggest idiot.

(Way to go….stupid….you probably insulted him!)

Damn it…..

Ten minutes pass. Rapunzel still yapping, switching constantly between chewing and sipping. And then the next, Moana’s phone vibrates. It probably would’ve been a terrible thing had she knocked over her glass of water from how fast she literally jumped from her seat to swipe her phone from the table. But thankfully, that didn’t happen. And her glass of water remained untouched and was standing strong and proud.

Her heart skipping a beat once again. Anxiously chewing on her lip to read his message. And mentally preparing for the worst.

From: Maui Deeming

Alright then! Dinner’s on me tonight! Now tell me, what would the lovely lady like for dinner? ;-)

And yet, it was amazing at the fact that he didn’t seem to take her new nickname for him offensively. So that seemed to be a good thing. Right? She chuckles softly, biting her lip as she analyzed the words ‘lovely lady’, followed by the wink eyed little emoji at the end. Maybe he was a big softie after all. He’s definitely quite the charmer.

Grinning, she eagerly taps her thumbs and fingers against the screen.

To: Maui Deeming

Well, that depends……you cooking? Cause I mean….you can always do take out if you’re too scared to lose….xD LOL!

“Oh! I almost forgot! I didn’t tell you about the last time I went down, that me and my sisters had gotten into this huge fight with three of my cousins! Ugh! I’ve got to tell you, it was-“

New text message.

From: Maui Deeming

Me? Scared?! Pssssh! You wish Curly!xD And cooking obviously! Duh!:-P

“-ugh! And then my cousin Annabelle was all like ‘well, you have no right to be going out with my ex-boyfriend!’ And then, my sister, Lena was like ‘well, he’s not your boyfriend anymore!’ And then I was like ‘what the fuck guys?’-“

To: Maui Deeming

LOL alright then! You’ll just have to surprise me when we get home then;-)

“Um…..excuse me! Hellloooooo! Earth to Moana!”

Her head snaps up. Wide brown eyes blinking as she met the pair of green ones that seemed to be tinged with confusion and a touch of annoyance.

“Yea? I’m listening!”

“What? No you’re not!”

“Yes I am! Honest!”

“Liar! You’ve been on your phone for the entire time since we’ve been here!”

“Wha – No I haven’t!” She makes sure to keep her gaze trained on her friend, while her fingers are still tapping amongst the screen. “That’s not true!”

Rapunzel scoffs. Tilting her head to the side with a frown. “Well, either you’ve been listening to every word I’ve said,” Then she nods toward the device, “or your phone just magically glued itself to your hands.”

Moana’s eye dart between the device cradled in her hands, and the annoyed blonde whose fixing her with a death stare. “Not true!” And she tosses her phone to the side and gives her friend a wide smile. “See?” She lifts her hands and wiggles her fingers. “No phone!”

Rapunzel just stares at her friend. Expression dead-panned with a cock of her brow. She purses her lips. “You really are a terrible liar, Mo. Y’know that?”

Moana blinks, sputtering a reply. “I…well – I –“

Oh just give it up already! She caught you….again!

“Who’re you texting anyway?”

Moana watches as Rapunzel wrinkles her nose and tilts her head towards the devious cellular device. Even it seemed to be gazing at the both of them in triumph. Happy at the fact that it’s starting to cause grief to develop between the two friends.

“Uh….no one!”

“No one?”

“Well…..” She gives an innocent shrug of her shoulders. “No one that’s…..really important that is..”

Rapunzel cocks a brow. “Really?”

“Mhm!”

And something about the way how Rapunzel’s impudent gaze held onto hers with a tight grip somehow seemed to have Moana squirming in her seat. Sometimes, she had to ask herself what the point was in trying to keep something hidden. Especially from her best friend of all people. A best friend who seemed to have the skills and knowledge of a detective. She definitely had the qualifications for one.

And instead she seems to be spending her time working as a journalist because….

“I’m not buying it.”

Moana shakes her head. “W-what?”

“You.” Rapunzel gives her a pointed look. “The phone.” Her gaze lands on the device. “The texting.” She takes another sip of her water. “I don’t buy the fact that it’s not someone important” her fingers making air quotes around the word, “that you’ve been talking to.”

Strike two!

Now she was officially caught. Trapped in the net like a writhing fish out of the fresh salt waters.

“What….what do you mean?”

“God, Mo, do I have to spell it out for you?” The blonde lets a loose smirk hang on her lips. “For starters, you’re grinning like that stupid Cheshire cat…”

(Damn! She’s good….)

“And not to mention,” She pauses, squinting. “Your cheeks are as red as a hot stove on hot summer’s day!”

Blushing would have been no problem at this point. But instead, Moana instantly goes as red as a beet-root and radiate like a hot pan. If she didn’t know any better, she would’ve strongly believed that not even Rapunzel, but anyone as this point could’ve cooked a three course meal on her face.

(Correction…..she was too damn good!)

“Either you’re getting sick…..” Moana ducked behind her curtain of hair. “Or…..you’re totally blushing!”

And the winner for the most persistent and embarrassing best friend goes to….

“I’m right aren’t I?”

I wish you weren’t…

“I knew it!” Rapunzel shot her fists up in victory. “I’m right!” She sing-songed. “I’m right!”

“Okay, okay!” Moana had no choice but to admit her friend’s victory. “Fine! You’re right as always, okay?”

“Ha! I told you!” The blonde fixes her with a devious smirk. “You can never pull one over on the ‘Punz-Mister!”

Moana only groaned. Sliding further down in her chair and dragging a hand down her face. I can’t believe she still calls herself that! She really couldn’t. Remind me to fire whoever it was that came up with that ridiculous nickname for her….

“Oh, don’t get all embarrassed Mo! I mean, it’s a good thing to know that you seem much happier now!”

She slowly peels her fingers from her eyes. Scowling at her friend through the cracks of her fingers. Eyes squinting.

“So…..did you meet someone?”

She shakes her head. “No.”

“Liar! You met someone! I know you did!”

She hefts a sigh. “No Punzie, I didn’t meet anyone.”

Rapunzel can’t help but roll her eyes. “Lie all you want, Mo.” And she grabs her fork to sift through her unfinished salad. “I’ll just keep asking.”

She wouldn’t…..

Another groan. “Please don’t….”

“What’s his name?”

And there she goes….

“How old is he? Is he cute? Hot? Sexy? Is he smart?”

Where was the remote to shut this chick off when you needed one….

“Does he live around here? Does he work? Does he-“

“Ugh! Fine! His name is Maui!” Moana jolts from her seat, eyes wide around the edges. “Are ya happy now?!

It seemed as if the sheer volume agitation that escaped Moana’s usual gentle lips would’ve made her little brother jump up the fence in fear and her doctor believe that she needed more of a psychoanalysis on top of the chemotherapy treatments. In fact, it seemed as if the customers at Apollo’s restaurant would’ve definitely agreed to that last part. And what made things worse was the fact that it wasn’t like her and Rapunzel were strangers to this restaurant.

At this point, Moana was shocked that the elderly couple who owned this restaurant hadn’t thought to have banned her from ever coming back here. That seemed to be a good thing. Maybe….

“Whoa….” Rapunzel causally leaned farther back in her seat. Trying to stifle back a laugh. “Looks like someone woke up on the wrong side of bed this morning…..”

Moana’s gaze darkened. “You are so annoying, y’know that?” And the cons about having a best friend who yapped until her jaw hurt, well, it only seemed to make sense that it was part of her personality to make sure that she looked like the sane one.

“Oh stop it!” Rapunzel waved a hand her dismissively at what was supposed to be an insult. “You love me and you know it!” And instead decided to take it on as a compliment.

Not now I don’t.

“Wait a minute.” Rapunzel’s face suddenly slipped into a more serious expression. “Did you just say….the name….Maui?”

Moana sighs. And then nods.

“As in…..your roommate, Maui?”

She nods again.

“The same guy you were having issues with before?”

Another nod.

Rapunzel’s only response was to blink. For once feeling at a loss for words. Her jaw hanging open. Her eyes nearly bugging out of their sockets.

“Oh…..”

“Yea…..”

“So wait….” The blonde pauses, then that same wide smile is spreading. “Does this mean that you guys are starting to get along now?”

Another sigh. And surprisingly, a lighter one. “Yea….” Then a small smile. “Yea, I guess you could say that.”

“Well that’s great to hear, Mo!”

Considering the fact that she had just been on the verge of stuffing her friend in a trunk and dumping her off to God-knows-where, Moana couldn’t seem to stop the smile from growing. “Yea. It is, actually.”

“Wait! So…..when did this all happen?”

“Yesterday, actually.” Moana shrugs, smiling. “We managed to put aside our differences and just…start over.”

“Huh.” Rapunzel’s smile shifted to sly grin, crossing her arms over her chest. “What did I tell ya?”

Moana cocked a brow.

“That patience is key.

(Of course she would rub that in.)

Moana rolls her eyes. “Does that mean you’re gonna say ‘I told you so?’”

“Don’t have to.” Rapunzel shakes her head. “I already did!”

Of course you did.

“So tell me!” Her blonde friend was obviously eager to hear more of the sudden accomplishment. “What’s he like?”

As always, it didn’t seem to take long for Moana’s cheeks to heat up once again. She hesitated at first, but decided to just suck it up and dive straight for the plunge. Making sure to explain every event and circumstance that had eventually lead Moana and Maui to where they were now. Starting with the incident of what happened in the laundry room the night before, all the way to the apologies he had confessed when he offered to give her a ride home from work. She even explained the part where they had stayed up practically all night talking and eating pizza together, and eventually mentioned the part about breakfast earlier. And now with the whole texting, well, let’s just say she made sure to include Rapunzel in on the little challenge that she and Maui seemed to have going on right now.

“Wow....” Rapunzel was left stunned, but happy. “That sounds so surreal.”

Moana nodded, blushing. “I know. It’s hard to believe that after only one day of getting to know one another, I dunno, I just feel so…..comfortable around him.”

Rapunzel nods. Smiling.

“I mean, is it a weird thing to say?”

The blonde shakes head. “Not really. I don’t think so.”

Moana nods. “Well, he’s just so….nice….and sweet…and funny….” Her own private thoughts making her blush even more. “He’s a great person to talk to.”

Rapunzel stars at her friend. Then squints her eyes. “Do you…..like him?”

“What?” She nearly jumps from her seat. “No!”

“You sure about that?”

“Punzie, didn’t you hear what I just said?” Leave it to her best friend to be the one to over romanticize certain things. “I don’t like him!”

Rapunzel cocks a brow.

“I mean-!” She shakes her head, running a hand through her locks. “Sure! I like him, but only as a friend!” She insisted. “I don’t…..like him like….that!

Rapunzel was still for a moment. Her fingernails tapping noisily against the wooden table. And then she snorts. “I don’t believe that one bit.”

Moana opened her mouth. Then closed it. Then repeated the same motion five or so more times. Then she shakes her head, and groans.

“You’re delusional!”

(Is she?)

“I don’t like him that way.”

(Liar)

“We’re just friends. That’s all.”

(Liar! Liar! Liar!)

“Alright then, suit yourself.” Rapunzel takes another sip of her water, then rises from her chair. “I’m going to the washroom quickly.” She turns to leave, but then pauses and spins around. “And please….” She places a hand on her hip. “Try not to drool and blush over your phone so much when I’m gone.”

And she whirls back around, blonde hair whooshing around and walks towards the bathrooms. Leaving a now aggravated Moana to gape at her back. Opening and her closing her mouth. Completely at a loss for words. Her best friend was wrong!

Wrong! Wrong! WRONG!

Please, who are you really fooling?

No. She crosses her arms over her chest and huffs. Glaring at the dampened green leaves drowning in Greek Salad dressing.

I don’t like him that way. I don’t like him that way.

She was not going to let her best friend win this battle like she always did. She would prove her wrong. She would claim her victory and shove her prize winning gold trophy in Rapunzel’s face.

I don’t like him that. She’s wrong! She’s insane! Delusional! I don’t like him that way. I don’t….

Her phone vibrates. She literally jumps from her seat to swipe it from the table. Fingers quickly tapping the four digit barcode to eagerly let herself in. A text from Maui had come through.

Her heart skipping a beat. Her stomach doing backflips.

From: Maui Deeming

Let me know when you finish work so I know where to meet you:-)

That was his last response. Moana’s blush seared through her cheeks and for a minute, she thought that her face was on fire. And without a second thought, her thumbs tap against the keyboard.

To: Maui Deeming

Sounds great! Thank you! See you then!:-)

And as she pressed send, she realized something. The thought causing her to groan and bury her face in her hands. Maybe she wouldn’t win that trophy after all…..

(Damn girl…..you’re in way over your head).

One thing was for sure.

She would absolutely not admit that her best friend had been right all along….

Chapter Text

They arrive home that night. Around 6:00pm. Plenty of time to spare before dinner was ready. And Moana couldn’t be more grateful to have escaped the prison cell of her office. It was a relief when she stepped through the door and was able to sleep her heels off, allowing her poor feet the opportunity to catch its first breath. After all, this is what happens when a full-time job requires one to be on their feet practically all day long. Moana had wished someone had warned of that three years ago when she had eagerly submitted her resume to Dream On magazine publishing company.

Besides, it was more of a relief knowing that Maui had been so generous enough to go out of his way to pick her up from work as opposed to having to take the crammed bus that was always mixed with interesting scents and stale residues. And it was even more of a relief to discover that spending only an hour with him while sitting in rush hour seemed to have been the highlight of her day. That, including their morning together at breakfast.

And as promised, Maui had agreed to take care of the preparations for dinner that evening. And at this point, Moana would be lying if she said that she wasn’t eager to try his cooking.

On top of that, Maui had made sure to pay her the five hundred dollar rent that he owed her for the month. So when Moana is in her den (or the office) sifting through her bills and making sure to organize which bills needed to be paid off first, it didn’t take her that long to figure out that the envelope that Maui had given her seemed to be much heavier – and fatter – than the amount that he had given her. It takes her a while to stop the opening and closing of her mouth, and the widening of her eyes to see that she not only discovered the five hundred dollar check, but an additional wad of cash (fifties and hundred dollar bills) that was tucked away with the check.

An extra two hundred dollars to be exact.

He didn’t….have to do that….

So as her gaze remained glued to the sight of the cash still gleaming up at her, part of her couldn’t help but feel guilty. Guilty for having taken more of this man’s money than what was required of him. The agreement was that he only pay her five hundred for the month. That was it. But instead, here he was, generously enough handing her seven hundred dollars. Which meant that it was at least a good chunk of his pay check.

Yes. She had felt a terrible feeling settling in her stomach at having taken more of what this man could afford to pay her monthly. However, there was a selfish part of her that was wanting to keep it. With his rent, on top of the check she had just received from work, it was just what she needed to pay off her bill for Veridian. But at the same time, Moana had to stop herself from wanting to rush to the bank and eagerly cash both the check and cash into her account and just send off the money like it was no one’s business.

So she had come up with a conclusion. She would go up to Maui and thank him for his generosity in adding an additional cost to his payment. But she would decline the money and encourage him to keep it.

After all, it was the least she could do.

She was already charging him five hundred dollars a month to live under her roof with her. She could easily survive on that alone on top of the money she’s making from work. After all, she couldn’t possibly live with the thought of him offering to pay her two hundred dollars more. Right?

Her thoughts were put on hold when a pleasant aroma wafting had somehow trailed its way from the kitchen and had seeped through the crack of the office door that was slightly open. As soon as it slid in through the holes of nostrils and had eventually found its spot, it didn’t take long for the corners of her mouth to begin salivating, and her stomach to begin rumbling in the process. The smell so addicting as it lifted her from her seat and had literally had her eating out of the palm of its hand. Floating on cloud nine as the smell beckoned her with each step, rounding the corner and finding herself standing in the kitchen entrance.

Normally, her first instinct was to find either her mother, or her grandmother in the kitchen preparing dinner. But despite the fact that it’s already been a month that’s passed, finding Maui who was the one slaying over a hot stove had somehow seemed to catch her by surprise. Especially since the fact that there was indeed a definite contrast between the view of her mother or grandmother, versus seeing Maui’s large figure gracefully moving about to collect the right ingredients that he needed.

He didn’t seem to have noticed her person standing in the entrance. His back had been turned at first, carefully leaning into the rising steam that eluded from the pot and bringing the wooden spoon to his pursed lips to make sure that the required taste was still present. And for some strange reason, Moana couldn’t seem to find the energy to move, or to make some sort of sound to signal her sudden arrival. So, she stayed rooted in place, studying the scene that was playing out in front of her.

It hadn’t only been the aroma of delicious food that somehow had managed to nail her feet to the ground. The thick scent of tomato sauce, cooked meat and steamed broccoli with green peppers wafted under her nose, teasing her with promises of a palatable meal that stood at nearly a meter away. It wasn’t anything that seemed to be of familiar memory to her, for it had been such a long time since an aroma such as this had been able capture her soul and grip onto it for dear life. It was entirely foreign to her. The tangy smell that seemed to touch every brain nerve with pleasure that practically screamed “out of this world”.

Not to mention, the tangy deliciousness that seeped into her nose with threw every inhale that was taken. But it wasn’t just the smell that seemed to captivate her attention. It was the burly figure of how her male roommate moved so smoothly about the kitchen. His thick fingers using a knife to chop his vegetables. Chopping and cutting, knife meeting the cutting board with a faint chuck chuck chuck, the sound a continuous melody that rendered Moana speechless. From the chopping and cutting and not a single shred of sweat produced on his brow, to Moana, it looked like he was in the making of producing a masterpiece. His demeanour mellow, unlike her vigorous attempt of rushing about the kitchen from point A to B in an effort to get her breakfast and lunch prepared.

His curly mane of locks thrown into a bun, allowing a better view of his thick neck to be on display. The black t-shirt he wore that seemed to hold onto each of his muscles. The ocean of tattoos trailing his thick burly arms. She swore she could’ve seen a muscle ripple beneath his skin as he continuously used the knife to cut through the vegetables gracefully, causing the salivation to dissolve and to dry up her lips. And it didn’t seem to help with the low droning of his voice mixing into the picture. He was humming a tune that Moana couldn’t seem to remember the name of. But she had heard it before. A classic that they both had discovered a mutual adoration for. And she would be lying right now if she said that the low baritone of his voice wasn’t beginning to lull her to sleep.

She found herself unable to breathe. Leaning her head against the doorframe and accidently losing her footing, which caused her to stumble back slightly. Luckily this time for her, she didn’t end up on the floor like she had predicted. However, the bad part was the tune he had been humming had dissolve into a rather low, thick chuckle.

“Enjoying the view, Curly?”

His voice ripping her from her thoughts. Shaking her head, blinking rapidly and forcing herself to stand up straight. She quickly crossed her arms over her chest, her mind unable to come up with any valid excuses.

“S-sorry!” She mumbled. “I-I was just….um….j-just….thinking.” It was lame excuse. “T-that’s all….”

He chuckles again. “Thinking? Anything in particular?”

She blinks. “Um….j-just about….” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “Work….y’know….t-the usual stuff…..”

“Ah. I’m sure that’s it.”

At this point, Moana wasn’t sure which had been worse. The fact that she had been standing in the doorway, drooling over her handsome (more like gorgeous) roommate like a dumb chimp? Or the fact that not only had she been watching him like weirdo, but he had caught her doing so? It seemed to be a tie between the two. And right now for Moana, it felt like someone had suddenly turned on an internal heater inside her system, and her tan skin slowly turned from ghastly coco color, to a shade of ripe strawberry. The warmth had now bloomed into a full blown, sweltering heat wave bursting through her pores and triggering the banging and thudding in her heart.

Maybe having done the ‘walk of shame’ wasn’t such a bad thing at this point.

“Smells good, doesn’t it?”

His question had caught her off guard. He didn’t look up from what he was doing. But the wide grin on his face was proof that he was indeed trying to lighten up the mood from its sudden awkward state. She blinks again, arms still crossed over her chest, and nods.

“Um….y-yea….” A small laugh. “Everything smells….delicious actually.”

“Well that’s a good sign.” He chuckles. “Means I’m doing an okay job then.”

She shakes her head and rolls her eyes. Then pauses to look at him. “M-mind if I….keep you company?”

He shrugs. “Sure! I don’t mind having an audience.”

A small smile from her. Having felt a sense of relief at the thought of him not wanting to hold her accountable for her actions any longer. She takes a few tentative steps into the kitchen, rounding the corner to where she was standing next to him. Gaze peeled to his thick fingers and the vegetables. Curiosity catching the cat at its finest as she gently peers over his massive shoulder.

“What are you making exactly?”

“Lasagna.”

“Las….les….la….?”

He chuckles. “Lasagna.”

She furrows her brow. “Las….what?”

Le – za – nja.” He turns to her and smiles, his smoldering smile that had her weak in the knees. “It’s Italian.”

“Oh…..” Moana mumbles, suddenly feeling stupid. “I’m….sorry….”

He cocks a brow. “For what?”

She blinks again. “I um….I’ve actually never heard of, or even tried las…lesza.....lez – agna…before…” She scrunches up her nose. “I totally didn’t pronounce that correctly….right?”

He chuckles again. “Lasagna.” Then gives her a smile. “And no need to feel bad about that.” He turns back to his chopping. “That just means you’re in for a special treat tonight!”

Now it’s her turn to chuckle. “Special treat, eh.” Then finishes with a grin. “I just hope the food tastes as good as it smells.

“Oh trust me!” He smiles. “It’s to die for! I’ll tell you that!”

Moana quirks a brow. “It better not be.” Her lip curled upwards.

Maui can’t help but furrow his brow. “What do you mean?”

“I’ll put it to you this way.” Her brow is lifted, her hands go to cup her hips. “If you’re food kills me, then I will make sure to haunt you in your sleep.”

It didn’t take long for Maui to catch on to her little charade. As he throws his head back, neck on full view and chases down with a laugh. A low, raspy and throaty laugh that causes a rather endearing tune to ring through Moana’s ears.

“Good one, Curly.” He says as he calms down from his laughing session. “But I gotta say, I could’ve said the same for you.”

She snorts. “Oh really? In what regards exactly?”

“From this morning.” He shrugs, turning to fix her with a grin of his own. “I mean, I’m shocked to find that I’m still alive and standing after having eaten your food.”

She sighs, a fake one. “Well…..” She dramatically flips her hair over her shoulder. “I guess that just means that…..y’know….I’m the better chef…”

“Mmm, is that so?”

She shrugs. Pretending to carefully inspect her cuticles. “I would say so.”

“The competition’s not even over yet, Curly.” He warns her. “So….how could that be?”

“Don’t question my authorities!” She spits back, grinning in triumph. “I have my sources!”

He lets out a guffaw. “Your authorities eh?”

“Yes! My authorities!”

He nods. “Okay then.” Then he chuckles. “So tell me, would your authorities happen to be an attractive, curly haired journalist?”

She drops her jaw to the ground. Though the smile is still stapled to the corners of her mouth. “Excuse you?”

And, does her name happen to sound like….” He shrugs his shoulders. “I dunno……Mona….or Loana…?”

She scoffs. “No!” And crosses her arms over her chest.

“Cause….if I remember correctly….” He gives her his smoldering grin. “I seem to recall someone exactly like that….”

She lifts her brow. Smirking. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

He chuckles and rolls his eyes. “Whatever you say, Princess.”

“Excuse me, but I am not a princess.”

He chuckles again. His gaze roaming over her person from head to toe, and landing on the view of her skirt. The heat in her cheeks beginning to resurface once again.

“Well, that depends. Got any pets?”

She furrows her brows. “I used to have cat named Heihei.” She stares at him. “But he died when I was nineteen….” A questioning. “Where…..are you going with this….exactly?”

“Well, according to my theory.” He grins in triumph. “If you wear a dress,” He nods towards her skirt. “And have an animal sidekick, then….you’re a princess!

Now it’s her turn to let out a guffaw. “And….what kind of a logic is that exactly?”

“I told you already.” He says matter-of-factly. “My logic, duh!”

She scrunches up her nose, though the grin still lingers. “Okay, no offense or anything, but that would have to be the weirdest logic I’ve ever heard.”

“So what? You’re saying I’m weird now?”

She shakes her nod. “Nope. I’m not saying it. I’m implying it.”

“Okay, excuse me…..” Maui holds up a hand. “Who’s the klutz around here again?”

“Oh shut up!”

“See? My point exactly!”

Of course, this earns his a smack in the arm. He’s roaring with laughter as she laughs alongside with him.

“You are never going to let me live that down are you?”

He chuckles again. “I could…..” And then presents that same devious smile. “Buut….that wouldn’t be very fun…..”

She scoffs again. Shaking her head. “You’re a big meanie! You know that?” She chuckles.

He laughs some more. “I’m sorry, Curly. But….” He says in between in laughs. “You just seem like so much to pick on.”

She rolls her eyes. “Ugh! Whatever, ya big lug!”

He gives her an approving smile. “Hm, I’m really liking the new nickname there.”

“Ugh! Even when I insult you, you take it as a compliment!”

He chuckles again. “I know.”

Moana takes the time to study him. A smirk at the corners of her lips still in place as her eyes roam over his person. There was a tiny shred of arrogance in him that was no doubt alive and well in him. And usually, a trait like that had definitely hit first place in Moana’s “five traits I cannot stand in men” books. Arrogance was definitely one to turn her off completely. Even if a man happened to be ninety five percent amazing with a small five percent of conceitedness that still lingered, it would always turn out to be a “goodbye!” and a “never going to happen!”

But Maui, he was different. There was something about him that had no doubt caused the attraction in Moana to swoon. Sure, his ego seemed to be much more massive than a measly little five percent. But for some reason, the arrogance and pride that he held high above his head didn’t exactly seem to be much of a bother to her. In fact, maybe if it hadn’t been for the fact that his sense of humor, his compassion or witnessing just how genuine his actions have shown, that Moana herself would be completely turned off by him. Maybe it was that ninety percent of him that managed to overthrow the ten percent almost completely.

And it wasn’t until then that Moana had realized that she hadn’t moved an inch, that her gaze still lingered amongst his person. Her stomach doing belly flips at the expanse of his jawline. Her lips turning to thin dry strips at the way how the muscles in his arms twitched as he continued chopping his vegetables. The drool pooling at the sides of her lips as he stuck out his tongue in serious concentration. Everything about him was like staring at a beautiful god. His hair, his eyes, his body…..

Do you….like him?

Immediately the sound of Rapunzel’s perky voice had invaded her thoughts. She shakes her head.

Stop it! I do not like him like that!

Rapunzel was wrong. She would make sure to prove her best friend wrong.

Try not to drool when I’m gone.

Gross! You’re totally drooling!

I’m not drooling! I’m not drooling! I don’t like him that way! I don’t like him that way! I don’t…..

“Hey, Curly?”

She shakes her head almost loses her footing. But she’s quick to grab hold of the counter to balance her person. Placing a hand on her hip, leaning causally against the counter as she blinks and fixes him with a tight smile.

“S-sorry! You were saying?”

He quirks a brow as his eyes rake over her profile. “I’m almost done with the preparation and such. So-“

“You want me to set the table?”

“Oh….uh…..you can…” He furrows his brow. “But actually, I don’t mind-“

“Sure! I’ll set the table for you!”

She practically bounced on the balls of her feet as she hurriedly moves across the kitchen, running from one cabinet to the next as she eagerly collects plates, glasses, forks and knives. Fully aware that Maui’s curious gaze was boring into her person.

“Are you sure? I can help with-“

“No, no!” She turns and waves him off. “It’s fine!” She smiles tightly. “You finish up and I’ll set everything on the table!”

“You’re sure?”

“Of course!”

He blinks. “Uh….alright.”

She makes sure that there’s two place mats present. Setting the forks on the left, and the knives on the right with the plates placed the middle and the glasses to add to the mix. Thankfully, Maui’s back was turned as he hovered over the hot stove. And for once in her life, Moana couldn’t help but realize how much a fool she really was.

Nice one, you goof!

She just hoped that dinner wouldn’t turn out to be as awkward as what had just happened.


 

“How’s it tasting so far?”

Moana had been too busy sinking her teeth into the plentiful pasta and allowing the moist layers of meat and the sizzling cheese to sear over her taste buds. She hadn’t realized that she had been moaning into her food as she reveled in the taste that the juicy layers of the mushy meat and tomato sauce and let it easily slide down to the contents of her stomach. And had it not have been for the rumble of Maui’s deep chuckling that echoed in her ears, she would easily had allowed herself to have already drown in the saucy red goodness.

“So….I’ll take that as a…yay?”

She paused from her actions. Slowly pulling her face away from her food as he gaze finally meets his amused one. While the corners of his mouth folded into a smirk, hers was still full. Eyes slightly wider as she realized that she had been eating her food like the way a heroin addict shoots up. Having inhaled almost her entire plate of food, with only a quarter of it still left to finish. He looked at her, while she was certain she could feel the heat rushing to her cheeks as she realized that it she who was the one that resembled that stupid Panda, Po with a mouthful of cookies, from one of her favorite films, Kung Fu Panda.

Well this is attractive…..

“You like it, huh.”

She inhaled sharply through her nose. Mouth still full with food. Unable to give a straight answer. So instead of attempting to formulate words on her tongue that were most likely going to sound like a toddler trying to learn their first few words, she settled on giving him an eager nod. A wide smile spreading across her face.

Maui couldn’t help letting out a low laugh as he shakes his head. “Well that’s a good sign.” He grabs his glass and takes a sip of his coconut milk. “I’m glad you like it.”

She nods again, and is able to swallow all the food and feed it to her stomach. “I’m sorry….” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear and laughs a little. “That was so delicious!”

He chuckles again. “I’ll say.” Then he chances another look at her, then laughs. “Looks like you enjoyed it a little too much there.”

She furrows her brow. “What do you mean?”

Fielding her questioning look, he lets a loose grin hang on the tips of his mouth. “Well, for starters….” He points towards his mouth, “you got a little bit of meat sauce on your lip there…”

“I – what?!” She gapes as she scrambles to swipe her napkin from the table and roughly wipe away the mess of the tomatoey meat sauce she was unexpectedly wearing on her face. “Ugh! Gross!”

Maui chuckles. “It’s okay, Curly.” He scoops a forkful of lasagna into his mouth. “Nothing to be ashamed of.”

Moana blinks, chewing on her lower lip. “….Did I look that bad?”

He shakes his head. “Nah, I’ve seen much worse than that. Trust me.” He focuses his gaze on hers. “I mean, it’s not the first time I’ve seen and heard people moaning into their food.”

Moana balked. “I….I actually did that?”

He shrugs. “A little bit. Yea.”

Something about the last part in his sentence had provoked the idea of her wanting to desperately escape underneath the dinner table and just remain there for the rest of her life. She could feel the heat growing in her cheeks. By now they were nearly beyond an attractive rosiness. No doubt that they were marking her out as socially incompetent. At this point, she may as well be considered as one.

She blinks rapidly and drags a hand down her face. “Oh my god….” She mumbles into the meat of her palm as she slides down a little further into her chair. “I probably looked and sounded like a caveman…didn’t I…”

He shrugs again. “I wouldn’t use the term ‘caveman’.” He grins. “Maybe someone who’s been deprived of food for their entire life.”

She hefts a sigh. “Well that’s embarrassing….”

He smirks. “Don’t be so embarrassed.” He says reassuringly. “I actually found it kinda flattering.”

“Flattering?”

“Of course!”

She slowly peels her fingers from her eyes and stares at him through the cracks. “In what way is seeing me eating like a pig a form of flattery?”

He chuckles again. “It just means that you enjoyed my cooking, Curly.”

She sighs again. Taking his words into consideration, and finally agreeing with herself that he was most likely right.

“And besides…” He pauses, then puts on a mischievous smile. “It also means that…..I’m the better chef.”

“Says who?”

“Well, says me!” He makes a grand gesture to himself with his hands. “Maui! The greatest chef in all of Vancouver! That’s who!”

“Oh please!” She laughs and sits up straighter in her seat. “Not even close!”

“You sure about that, miss tomato lips?”

Moana’s jaw dropped to the ground. Trying to supress the laugh that was dying to release itself from her throat. Maui a grinning Cheshire cat across from her.

“I – You – Take that back!”

“Or else….what?”

“Or else I’ll…..I’ll…..!”

At this point, even she knew that forfeiting the competition would be her best bet. After all, she was the one who had ended almost drowning herself in the tomato meat sauce anyways.

“Ugh! Y’know what, fine!” She laughs and shakes her head. “I give up!”

“Really? So….does that mean I win then?”

“Yes!” Her hands threw up in mock surrender. “You win! Are you happy now?”

Maui lets out a throaty laugh at this. “Ah!” He casually leans back in his chair and lifts his hands to rest on the back of his head. “Guess the victory is mine then!”

“Yea, yea, you win! Big whoop!”

“Hey now……no one likes a ‘sore loser’, Curly.”

Her eyebrows crease with mock frustration as she sticks her tongue out at him. A smirk hanging at the edges of her lips.

“Although,” He stares at her with a gaze so intense. “I have to say, you do give me a run for my money.”

She furrows her brow. “What do you mean?”

“Well, I’m not sure about you but, I think you and I are both pretty good chefs.”

Her ears perk up at this and she blinks. “You think so?”

“Of course!” He boomed with a wide smile. “I mean if I remember correctly, I think I recall having enjoyed a rather delicious breakfast that was made by a certain, Curly haired, non-princess this morning.”

Moana in return only blinked. His response rendered her speechless. Unable to form her own words that were on the tip of her tongue. She turned her head to the side, laughing lightly as she attempted to avert her gaze, but the sudden rosiness of her cheeks had given her away.

“It’s weird.” She chuckles. “I’ve never really had someone enjoy my cooking so much.” And she finally finds the courage to face him.

He stares at her. “Well, I call things as I see them.” He nods. “You don’t give yourself enough credit.”

“Oh…..well I…..I never really thought of it that way….”

“You’re an alright chef, Curly.” He smiles. “Really, you are.”

“Thank you.”

“You’re welcome.”


 

“So tell me something,” She says, standing on the wooden stool next to the sink and reaching into the cabinet above to put away the dish she had just finished drying. “When did you start learning how to cook?” She pauses. “That is…..if you don’t mind me asking.”

He chuckles and gives a shrug of his shoulders. “Ah…I honestly didn’t start learning until I was around….” He has his arms elbow deep in the suds, his fingers beginning to prune. A plate in one hand and the sponge in the other. “….maybe fifteen.”

“Fifteen?” She says as she grabs a spoon to dry off. “That’s still fairly young.”

“Yea, I guess so.” He lifts his shoulders again and continues scrubbing. “But in all honesty, at that age, I really hated cooking.”

“Really?”

“Yup. Ideally, my parents wanted all of my siblings and me to start learning how to cook at the age of ten. But at that point, I could care less.”

“Ten’s not a bad age to start learning.” She reasons with him. “I mean, I started learning how to cook when I was nine.”

“Sounds kinda rough.” He smirks. “Did your parents have to force you?”

She shakes her head. “Nope.” She grins. “Believe it or not, I was the one having to beg my mom and my gramma to teach me.”

“Really?” He chuckles again. “You must’ve been very eager to learn then.”

“Trust me, I was.”

“Well, at least it was something that you enjoyed.”

“I still enjoy it!” She says eagerly. “I love cooking! I find it kind of fun, actually.”

He snorts. “Wish I could say the same for me.”

She stares at him, studying the way his form as he’s neatly scrubbing the plate with each steady stroke. The dish now drowning in suds and water.

“So….you’re saying that….you don’t like to cook then?”

“Ah, well, I wouldn’t say I don’t like it.” He swishes the water against the sponge. The suds collect on his arm. “I mean don’t get me wrong. I’ve learned that if you’re going to survive in this world, then it does come in handy.”

“So in other words, it’s just….something that you tolerate?”

“Ah, it’s more like a chore that I’ve gotten used to doing.” He shrugs. “I mean, hey! It’s kept me still alive all these years.”

“Yea.” She nods. “That’s a valid point.” He hands her the dish and she moves the dish towel around it to capture the wet drops. “I have to ask, where did you learn how to make that delicious meal that we just had?”

“You mean the lasagna?”

“Yea.”

He claims the dirty spoon and splashes water all over it. “Well, I learned to make lasagna even back when I was at home living in Chicago.” He says. “But, I actually learned how to make the authentic lasagna back when I had been living in Italy.”

“You’ve lived in Italy before?”

“Yup.”

“For how long?”

“For about a year.” He says. “I was on a one year contract there for my job.”

Moana blinks. “Wow! That’s amazing!” She breathes. “How did you like living there?”

“It was great, actually.” He nods and smiles at the memory. “Next to having lived in Weimar, Germany, I had to say that living in Italy was one of my favorite places.”

“So, did you live in Rome when you were staying there?”

“I was in Rome for about three months.” He confirms. “Then I switched over to Venice for a bit. And then for the remainder of my stay there, I was living in Milan.”

“And this was all for business?”

“Yup.”

“Huh, so you’re like the official ‘globe traveller’ then.”

He chuckles. “I guess you could say that.”

“How long have you been doing this for?”

“Ah, since I was about….eighteen.”

“Eighteen?! But….isn’t that when you started college?”

He nods. “Yup.” He hands her the spoon to dry off. “I chose to study abroad though, so I wouldn’t be stuck in having to study at a boring school in the States.” He shrugs. “I guess I just wanted the adventure.”

“So, how did you manage to do all of that?”

“Well, since my entire family was hell bent on every one of their kids – myself included – in securing a job as a financial advisor, or an accountant, my parents had no problem with paying my tuition and sending me off to complete my studies.” He ponders over the thought. “It was a good advantage, considering that in order for me to have been able to graduate and receive my diploma, I had to do a lot of co-op courses, and look for a lot of internships and so forth.”

“Wow!” Moana was amazed. “So you were studying and working at the same time then.”

He nods. “Yup.” He turns off the tap. “And with all the experience that I gained, I was lucky enough to snag a job in my field.”

“A job that lets you travel the globe.” She mutters.

“Yea, I guess you could say that.”

Of course, Moana couldn’t help feeling impressed by hearing all of this. And if she was mistaken, a tad envious at the thought of him being able to travel and live wherever. Listening to him talk about the excitement that this career allowed him to do only made her feel as though that her job as a journalist was mediocre. What she would give if her job had allowed her the opportunity to travel anywhere she desired and to be able to experience different cultures. It would sure beat having to spend hours crammed in her office while trying to come up with interesting phrases and words to describe the delicious taste that mochas had to offer. Or if the styles of leather jackets were ‘in’, or ‘so last season’.

“You’re lucky.” She finishes drying off the spoon. “I wish I could be able to travel as much as you do.”

He gives a curt nod. “It can be fun to travel and so forth.” He looks at her. “But after a while, I dunno, it gets kinda lonely.”

She furrows her brow. “How so? I mean, you’re constantly meeting and living with new people, right?”

“Ah, yea I guess you could say that.” He shrugs. “But, there’s only so much travelling and meeting new people that you can take.” He leans against the counter. “After a while, it just….requires so much change, to the point where suddenly….you forget what being at ‘home’ feels like.”

“Oh…..” She blinks, suddenly feeling like a complete idiot. “I um….I never really thought of it that way.” She tucks a strand behind her ear. “I’m…..I’m sorry.”

He just shakes his head and smiles. “Don’t be.” He says. “Not a lot of people take that part into consideration. Even I didn’t at first. But….it’s just something that you have to experience on your own in order for you to realize.”

“I see.” She gives a small smile as she moves to lean against the counter next to him. “So….where else have you travelled to?”

“Pretty much everywhere you could think of.” He tells her. “Europe. Asia. South America. The U.S.” He pauses and looks down at her. “And of course, Canada.

She laughs at this. “And how are you liking good ol’ Canada so far?”

He chuckles. “I like it a lot actually.” He smiles. “It feels like home.”

“Good. I’m glad.” She smiles at him. “Although, as much I would love to travel, I don’t think I would have the courage to travel on my own.” She laughs lightly. “Especially to all those places you just listed. I guess men have more of an advantage over us women in that regard.”

“Ah well,” He shrugs. “You get used to it after a while.” He stares at her. “But I get what you mean.” He understood every word that had come out of her mouth. And he couldn’t help but agree with her. As much as he didn’t want to, the facts were there on table. And most importantly, the facts were indeed valid. “But, can I make a suggestion to you?”

She nodded. Face a portrait of earnest as her eyes immediately lit up. Which in turn, caused a soft smile on Maui’s face to spread even wider.

“Y’know, if you…I dunno….decide that you do want to travel sometime soon….” He pauses, swallowing. I can’t believe I’m about to say this! “And…if you ever feel that you may need….a guide…or something like that….” And….I’m actually going to say this. “I’d be more than willing to….accompany you….” He gulps. “That is….if….you would be comfortable with that.”

Without even thinking, Moana blurts, “Yes!” She nodded. “Yes! That would be amazing actually!” Did I really just agree to that? No wonder he thought I was total recluse….She shakes her head, realizing that she may have come across as…too eager. “I mean….yes….I will definitely take you up on that offer, if….y’know….you’re still….”

He laughs. “Curly, I wouldn’t have offered if I didn’t want to.” He smiles. “So yes. Whenever you’re ready, just let me know.”

She smiles. “Yea. That would be great actually.”

It was good thing that they had patched up whatever bad blood was between them. A really good thing. And for some reason, Moana couldn’t stop the belly flips that her stomach was doing at this moment. Seriously, from this man having wanted absolutely nothing to do with her, to him now wanting to be her travel companion, at this point, Moana couldn’t seem to understand what life was beginning to throw at her. However at the same time, she would be lying if she said that she wasn’t already beginning to plan just how much money she needed to save up in order to make this happen.

After all, who was she to turn down such an extravagant offer from her handsome roommate?


 

The remainder of the evening went well. After having finished scrubbing the dishes and making sure that the kitchen was all neat and tidy, their late night conversation had picked up from where it left off. With Moana being eager to learn more about Maui’s life, his career and his overall life experiences. And just like he had done so before, Maui had made sure to remain cautious with his words, and what information he put out on the table. Unfortunately, they had to call it a night as usual, seeing as they needed to be refreshed and energized for a brand new day at work.

Yay?

It wasn’t until after they had both bid each other good night, that that’s when it all happened. It was the middle of the night when Maui had decided to head downstairs to fetch a glass of water. Only to find that the kitchen light was already on, which had Maui feeling suspicious. Fearing that maybe someone had broken into the house. So he chances a look at the back door leading to the patio in the backyard. Relieved to find that it was still locked and nothing had been tampered with.

So as he rounds the corner and hesitantly puts a foot out so that he’s standing in the middle of the kitchen entrance, it was the hacking and the heavy breathing that left an unsettling feeling in his stomach, leaving a rather unpleasant melody reverberating in his eardrums. His brows are creased with worry as he turns to find the last thing he had expected to ever see.

“Moana!”

He bolts toward her and squats down to the ground. She’s bent over on her knees as sharply as if she’d been punched in the stomach. It was a barking cough. It sounded loose and wet, like thick phlemy mucus was sliding up and down her throat with each violent expulsion of air. And at the end of each cough it had that whistling sound you get when the airways are closing up. They were coming thick and fast now and she was struggling to get enough air.

“Moana!” He was squatting in front of her, grabbing her shoulders and holding her against him. “Moana! Look at me!”

To Maui’s horror, drops of blood spattered on her lap and knees as she was trying to clutch the paper towel tighter to her mouth. And it didn’t seem to make the situation any better. As she hacked and coughed, Moana held the paper towel to her mouth, and no matter how much pressure she applied, the blood had still managed to slip between the cracks of her fingers and drip down to her hands.

“Moana! Wha- what happened?!”

Her only response is another hack. A harsh and guttural one. Lifting a hand to wave him away, attempting to hide behind her curtain of locks to prevent him from seeing more than he needed to.

“Gods!” Maui’s voice raises through gritted teeth as he hoists her up from the ground. “I gotta get you to a hospital!”

“No!” She managed to mumble through the cloth that she pressed tightly against her mouth. “No!”

“Wha – What do you mean no?!” He stares at her with wide eyes as his massive grip around her shoulders tightens slightly. “This – I – I – “ He shakes his head and blinks rapidly, losing the words that desperately needed to be said. “I’ve gotta call the ambulance!”

“No! Maui….please….no….”

“Moana, you’re coughing up blood!” Maui practically shouted at her. Not because he was angry, but because of the fact that his palms were glistened in sweat and even the feel of his own heart thudding violently against his chest had caused the fear to rise in his system. “We need to get you to a hospital! Now!”

“…..I-I’m fine….Maui…..” She gives one last hack and is finally able to breathe normally. The remainder of the dark red liquid spilling through her lips and staining the paper towel with a pool of blood. “I…..please don’t…..call-“

“You’re not fine, Moana.” His tone is firm, but hoarse from having raised his voice. “You were just coughing up blood!” He shakes his head, brows creased with anger, gaze dark, hands shaking. “I’m going to call the ambulance and-“

“No!” The yell rips from her throat. Eyes wide as she shakes her head. “Maui….” Her tone is ragged, hoarse and croaky. “T-that’s not….necessary….I-I’m fine-“

“You’re not fine!”

“I am….”

“Moana, listen to me.”

He forces her to look at him, gaze searching hers and raking over her person. Her face a shade of white, a ghostly and a dangerously sick pale as her usual olive skin color had been nearly drained from her face. Films of blood clinging to her lips were left over. And the way how her eyes were sunken and the way how her skin looked so sallow left Maui feeling like he nothing but a means of a burden at this point. Her tiny body so frail and small in his massive grasp. He swallowed as he looked her straight in the eye.

“We need to get you to a hospital, okay?” He tells her, but it seemed as if the only way to get through to her, was as if he had needed to explain this to a three year old. “I’m going to call the ambulance, and then they’ll-“

“No……” She croaks, face now a portrait of worry. “I-it’s normal…”

“By you coughing up blood?” He gives her an incredulous look as he grip tightens a bit more on her shoulders. “That is not normal, Moana!”

“It is!” Her words came out in a whine, thin, releasing itself. Though the rawness in her tone still lingered. “Maui…..” She breathes, voice is frail and weak, pleading eyes boring into his. “Y-you have….nothing to worry about….”

He frowns. “I don’t believe that.”

“M-my doctor says t-that it’s……” She squirms underneath his impudent gaze boring down on her. Wincing slightly at the feel of his thick fingers digging into her skin from his own fear that he was feeling. She shields her face behind her curtain of locks. “….it’s normal….”

(Liar)

“Moana, I’m not buying that.”

“Please Maui!” She whimpers. “I-I’m fine! You’ve got to believe me…..i-it’s nothing serious.” Her tone is soft, so soft. “I-I’ll be fine…..”

(Liar! Liar!)

Every word that came out of her mouth was a lie. There was absolutely no doubt about that. He could hear it vibrating in her vocal chords. Each word covered with a lie that slipped out of her mouth, smooth and easy like melted butter running down toast. Was it convincing? Absolutely not. But it was already out in the open, and there was no going back. At this point, even Maui knew that the smart thing to do would be to just put the situation behind him and act as if he saw absolutely nothing.

Only he couldn’t. He didn’t want to.

He knew what he had seen.

And there was no way he could just casually erase the image of Moana bent over on the ground with blood spattering amongst the ground as she continuously harked up blood from her veins. That was definitely not normal.

I don’t give a damn! I’m calling 9-1-1 and I’m taking you to the hospital! He wanted to shout. “I’m not leaving you until I make sure that you’re okay.” He settles on that instead, reluctantly giving in to her protests.

She blinks, feeling somewhat relieved. “But-“

“No buts.” He releases his grip on her shoulders and uses his fingers to tilt her chin to look up at him. “I’m gonna stay here with you until I know that you’re fine. Understand?”

She chews on her lower lip as she gives a small nod. “O-okay….” Her tone a hushed whisper. Realizing that her paper towel is stained with bright red, she makes a face.

“Let me take that.”

“Let me take that.”

He takes the discolored serviette from her hand and he has to do his best to swallow back the vile down his stomach. And he had to do everything in his power to prevent himself from racing towards the phone, punching in the three familiar digits of 9-1-1 and rushing her to the hospital. The thought was tempting. Very tempting at this point.

Between the cotton white paper towels that was now tarnished and soaked in scarlet blood, and her lips now caked with dried blood as she had attempted to hide her face from his gaze, it was no wonder why the thought of him just driving her to the hospital was so tempting. She wraps her arm around herself as she turns away from him. She was able to stand, but her balance was wobbling slightly. Frowning at the blood soaked object in his hand, he chances a look at her form, as he hefts a sigh and walks toward the garbage can and is quick to dispose of the tainted serviette. His back is still turned towards her, palms pressing against the edge of the counter, sucking in sharp intakes of breath.

Inhale. Exhale. Inhale. Exhale.

The silence between them stretched thinner and thinner, like a balloon blown big, until the temptation to rupture it was too great to rest. Moana manages to sneak a peek at him through the curtain of her locks. Her eyes glued to his back, longing for him to look at her. But at the same time, she couldn’t let him see her like this. And this was one of the major things (actually the only thing) that she had been avoiding from the first day they met.

He had her pegged.

He knew she had been lying. Heck, even she knew that he knows that she’s lying.

“….Maui,” She says, soft, so soft, taking a tentative step towards him. “I…..”

Maui breathes out a heavy sigh, the creases of his brows still dented as he pulls himself away from the counter and reaches toward the kitchen cabinet above to retrieve two glasses. His back still turned toward her.

“Maui….”

He flips on the tap and finds relief in listening to the sound of the water crashing against the stainless steel sink. “Here, have some water.” He fills up the two glasses then turns to hand her the glass, which she meekly takes from him with a mumbled ‘thanks’ as her response. “Drink as much as you can.”

She nods and tilts the glass to her lips to take a sip. And for what seemed like eternity, she meets his gaze with her own. His face a portrait of so many various emotions etched into his features. And at this point, Moana would be lying if she said that the look that was plastered on Maui’s face was not one she had been avoiding to see. She couldn’t let him see her the way she was. Especially with the condition she was in. No doubt that her illness was the main culprit in this.

And at this point, she couldn’t bear the thought of him ever finding out about it. He couldn’t know.

“Feeling any better?”

She takes one last gulp and nods. Noting the tall glass cradled in his hands that was still full and remained untouched. “Yea….” Her tone is quiet. “….I am.”

He’s still frowning, and he reaches across the counter to rip off a clean piece of paper towel and hands it to her. “You’re sure?”

“…Mhm.” She nods and wipes the remaining blood from her lips. “I….I’m gonna go back to bed now….”

“Moana, are you-“

“Goodnight Maui.”

He doesn’t get the chance to say another word as she turns on her heel and quickly exits the kitchen. Not daring to look back as Maui watches her disappear through the entrance and is engulfed in the darkness.

And just like he had suspected from this morning, Maui knew that something was definitely wrong.

Chapter Text

Maui Deeming couldn’t think to fully process the events of last night that had played out in his head. The images of everything that had happened flickered and lingered deviously amongst his skull. The way how he recalled seeing Moana in that kitchen, hunched over on the ground like a rapid dog fighting what was left of its withering breath. The amount of blood that had been coughed up from her veins. Her pleading voice beginning him not to have dialed 9-1-1 just as he had been determined to do. He remembered everything. It was vivid in his mind, like a gory horror movie that seemed to be on repeat without as much of a legit purpose.

But she had insisted that she was fine. Claimed that it was normal.

There was absolutely nothing about that that one would consider to be normal.

The blaring of the sun’s fluorescent rays leaking through the cracks of the shutters in the small window of his bathroom located at the top left corner, had forced Maui to awaken from his thoughts with a heavy sigh. Unaware that he was letting thoughts and those images consume him. Staring at his ragged reflection in the glass mirror, he switches on the tap, relieved to hear the sound of the water guzzling from the tap as it crashes against the sink with a soothing whoosh and he doesn’t hesitate to cups his large hands underneath the tap, scooping up a large puddle of water and splashes it onto his face. The warm water concealing his moistened flesh, appeasing to his skin and eager to wash away any traces of fatigue that lingered.

He hadn’t realized just how much his thoughts had been consuming him when he walks out of the bathroom and sees that a new text message had popped up on the tiny screen of his phone. As he grabs it from the end table and laces his fingers around the small device, he hammered the standby button and blinked as the bright screen glinted in his eyes.

From: Nani Pelekai

Hey everyone! Just a reminder that there will be a mandatory meeting with the RBC officials today at 9:00am sharp. Please arrive to work at 8:00am. NO later.

He rolls his eyes. Of course he had a meeting. Another meeting. How could he possibly forget? Considering the fact that it seemed as if his job had been consisting of him showing up to get a fat pay check by just sitting in a board room all day while having to listen to boring ideas about ways on how the company should be improved. Besides, this meeting was the least of his worries.

He doesn’t waste any time as he’s wiggling into his dress pants and throwing on his white dress shirt with the matching black socks to add to the picture. He’s not sure exactly how he was going to react when he would eventually see her. Nor was he sure of what he was going to say to her. Or even how he would act overall around her. Especially since it would be much difficult for him to even look at her the same knowing that that image of her literally drowning in her own blood would still invade his thoughts.

It wasn’t like he could just blurt out ‘good morning! Cough up any more blood last night? Should’ve just drove you to the hospital like I said!’ No. Nope. Absolutely not. And it wasn’t like he could really ask her about whether or not that what he had seen last night was normal. She was lying. Everything word that had come out of her mouth that night was a lie. A big one.

And he knew she was lying.

She was hiding something. And right now, Maui wasn’t sure whether or not he was wanting to find out what that something was? Or if maybe brushing it off like it was nothing would be the better route. Though the first option was indeed tempting, he did have to remind himself that he and Moana were still in the early stages of establishing some sort of relationship. Still, they barely knew each other. And it was only just two days ago where they were finally able to begin communicating with one another. So maybe, the second option seemed like it would be a more realistic decision for him to do.

Though the temptation to maybe do some investigating was still there.

So when he finally finds himself dressed and ready to go, briefcase in hand as he pauses in the entrance leading towards the kitchen, he’s not sure what to think of when he sees her gracefully moving about in the kitchen. His body is still, gaze fixed on her person as he inhales sharply through his nose. She was fiddling with the kettle, patiently waiting for the water to finish boiling. Then she glides towards the cabinet, retrieving two matching mugs with palm trees painted on them. One of the many gifts that were presented to her mother and to her father on their tenth wedding anniversary. She seemed to be too much in her own little bubble, too preoccupied to realize that another person’s presence was lingering in the doorway.

Or, maybe she did notice but decided to keep her back turned. Whatever it was, it wasn’t only the fact that her back was still turned towards him, or the fact that she may or may not have decided to act oblivious to the fact that he was standing in the doorway with his eyes glued to her back that seemed to trouble Maui. It was that, plus the sound of humming that soon followed.

Maui blinked. Dumbfounded. For some reason as his eyes continued to glaze over and follow each movement her profile made, he pictured the events of what had occurred last night right here in this kitchen. Bent over on the ground with droplets of blood hanging from the tips of her tongue. Gasping and hacking for her dear life. And yet, here she was, humming with her back to the world. Her hum has a happiness; there’s something carefree about the notes as they fill up the kitchen. She leans towards the kettle, inhaling the clouded steam as it seeped through her nostrils.

At this point, Maui opens and closes his mouth, no intention of disturbing her, but at the same time, wanting her to acknowledge his presence, and instead decides to focus on soaking in the sound. Her hum is more beautiful than the softest of singers. After all, who was he to interrupt something so beautiful and replace it with the gruesome events of the night before? It wasn’t like she was going to turn around any minute and say ‘good morning Maui! Oh by the way, I coughed up more blood last night! But no biggie! It’s totally normal!’ No. It definitely wasn’t like that. He knew that. And for some strange reason, she knew that too.

He finally exhales, sets his briefcase against the doorway and enters into the kitchen. It wasn’t going to do any good if he just continued to stand there like a mindless zombie and not make his presence known.

He clears his throat. “Morning.” He leans against the counter with his hands wedged in the pit of his pant pockets.

She whirls around with the kettle in her grasp. “Good morning Maui!” She beams with a wide smile. “Did you have a good sleep?”

I wish. He shrugs. “Uh…sure.” Then he stares at her. “Did you?”

“Oh yes! Of course!” She fills each cup of with the steaming hot water pouring out of the kettle. “Slept like a baby!”

There’s a lie between those words. Slipping out easily like melted butter on warm summer’s day.

“Oh yea?”

“Mhm!” She places the kettle back in its little crate, then sifts through the drawers to retrieve two spoons. “Here’s you go.” She smiles as she gently places his cup of coffee in front of him with the spoon standing proudly in the depths of the roasted liquid beans to add to the mix. “Black with two sugars, just how you like it.”

He was dumfounded. Gaze darting between the steaming hot coffee and her seemingly perky profile. “Uh….yea….right.” He blinks as he cautiously grabs hold of his mug. “…thanks.”

“You’re welcome!”

Is she okay….?

Maui’s not sure what to make of this situation that seems to be unfolding before his very eyes at the moment. It was like watching one of those obscure crime shows where a gruesome murder had just taken place and there’s blood stains everywhere that could easily resemble a bloody massacre and then the next thing he knew, the crime scene was immediately wiped clean of its contents, making it seem as though the murder was all some sort of ploy to provoke the protagonist to go completely insane.

And as his gaze followed her person as she moved graciously to sit at the granite counter and plop down on the cushiony barstool with her tea in hand, Maui suddenly understood the meaning behind the story of ‘The Boy Who Cried Wolf’. It was all too absurd for his liking.

She’s stirring the contents of her sugar with her spoon to blend in with her tea, her smile meeting his gaze. “Hey,” She pulls out the stool next to her, and eagerly pats the seat. “Come sit with me.”

Maui tries not to narrow his eyes. Eyeing the seat before meeting her eager gaze once again. There was definitely something that seemed off about her this morning. Or maybe, just maybe, he may have been reading too much into it. He wasn’t sure. But right now, all he really could do was to oblige and convince himself not to think anything of it. After all, it was the morning. And for the past month he’s been here, he’s seen how earnest she was in the mornings. Maybe it may have just been a reflection of that.

But who could really be sure?

He takes the seat next to her and sips on his coffee. He’s not sure what to say. Or exactly how he was supposed to start up a conversation with a brand new topic instead of the one who originally had in mind.

“So, anything new or interesting happening at work for you today?”

The question had caught him off guard. Actually, it had caught him off guard a lot. That was definitely the complete opposite of what he had been expecting.

He steals another sip of his hot drink. “Uh, nothing really.” He scratches the back of his neck. “Just some stupid meeting we have to attend this morning.”

“Oh, I see.” She nods and tilts her mug to her mouth. Even her tiny slurping he strangely finds endearing to his ears. “Sounds pretty interesting.”

“Not really.” He scrunches up his nose. “Our meetings are usually very boring.”

She smiles. “I’m sure they’re not the bad.”

“Oh trust me, you have no idea.”

“Really? Try sitting in a meeting at my work for a change.” She rolls her eyes and chuckles. “Three hours of either discussing ideas to write about fur coats, Coach Bags or Louis Vuitton heels? If that’s not considered ‘boring’, then I don’t what is.”

He gives a curt nod, smirking. “Sounds pretty rough.”

“Tell me about it.”

“Eh, but it sounds much more interesting than having to discuss taxes and talk about other billing companies and so forth.”

“At this point, I would rather hear about taxes than shoes and clothes.” She sighs. “Honestly, if I have to hear anything more about women’s clothing and accessories, then I will shoot someone.”

He laughs at this. “Damn, Curly.” Then he turns to look at her. “I didn’t know you had a mean streak in you.”

She giggles. “Trust me, there’s a lot about me you don’t know about.”

There it is! She’s laying it right there on the table! Go for it!

And he wants to. He really does. The way how his gaze is roaming over her profile from head to toe, considering, he’s fighting against the little voice in his head that’s giving him a list of reasons as to why he shouldn’t. But as the other little voice in his mind was saying, she’s laying it right out in the open. It’s the only chance he has left if he’s going to crack the code once and for all. He swallows, opens his mouth to speak, until she’s quick to beat him to it.

“I just wanted to thank you again for dinner.” She smiles. “I didn’t get a chance to when we were talking last night.”

Fuck. Almost had it! “Oh….I uh….” He blinks. “Sure, not a problem.” He tells her, nodding. “I’m uh….I’m glad you enjoyed it.”

“Really,” And his heart thuds against his chest as his eyes fall the movement of her little hand going to rest gently on top of his large one. “I appreciate it. A lot.” Her smile widens, stretching. “So thank you.”

He gulps. “Y-you’re welcome.”

And something about the feeling of her soft supple skin meeting his brought a calm feeling to his insides. He felt warm. It was that same tingly feeling he got when they first shook hands back at Lalotai. The feeling of familiarity that coursed through his veins. The comfort in which his body craved. There was something about her touch that seemed so genuine, so loyal, it felt as if there was a sense of reassurance and acceptance that he never in his life thought he would ever find.

But then again, he was still just getting to know her. To really know her.

“And also,” Her voice breaks through his thoughts. “I um…I wanted to thank you for paying the rent on time.”

He smirks. “You don’t have to thank me for that, Curly.” He says. “I have to pay you at some point.”

“I know.” She nods. “But…..about the….extra two hundred that you gave me….” She stares at him. “I-“

“Keep it.”

“W-what?”

“I said keep it.”

She blinks. “But, Maui….I can’t just-“

“It’s your to keep, Moana.” He’s mindful that her hand is still rested amongst his. “You can use it whatever else you need.”

“But-“

“No buts. No objections.” He looks at her, studying her features. “It’s yours.

“A-are…..are you sure?”

“Moana, I wouldn’t have given you the extra money if I wasn’t sure.” His tone is soft and gentle, though there’s determination that lingers. “So believe me when I say ‘I’m sure’.”

Moana just stares at him. Considering his words and him. “O-okay.”

They sat in silence for a few moments. Gazes trained one another. And Moana wasn’t sure if they may have been participating in some sort of a staring contest, or if there was something between them that was beginning to heat up. She didn’t know. But the look that he was giving her, she could only feel certain that maybe there was in him that he felt for her too. Just as she was certain herself that she was feeling something for him. Gazing into each other’s eyes longingly, not a word spoken by either of them. At this point, Moana was certain that she was getting lost within the breathless paradise of his dreamy eyes. The heat in her cheeks were evident. The pits of her stomach doing jumping jacks. The way her heart swelled like a balloon and rammed against her bones and flesh. Her mouth losing its moisture and slipping into thin strips of dried skin.

Ask her already! The voice inside Maui’s head was screaming at him. Here was his second chance.

“How are you feeling by the way?”

Definitely not what she had expected to come out of his mouth. But the second it was out, her body froze. The rosiness in her cheeks slipping to the depths of paleness. She swallows, shaking her head as she presents him with that same smile she was always good at using for her best performances.

“Oh, I’m fine!” She immediately tears her hand from his, leaving him feeling slightly disappointed. “I’m feeling much better now that you ask!”

Another lie.

“And you’re sure about that, right?”

“Of course!” She nods and goes to take another sip of her now cold tea. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

(Liar)

Go in for the plunge!

(He’s not sure if he should do this)

He inhales, then says, “Moana, about last night….” There it is. It’s there. “…I think-“

“It was nothing!” She pipes in. “No need to worry!”

(Liar)

He furrows his brows. “Moana, you were coughing up a lot of blood.” Then he shakes his head. “You should’ve just let me take you the hospital.”

“Maui, you worry too much.” And there’s that same smile he’s beginning to know all too well. The perfect mask as a means to fool the dumbest of them all. “I’m fine. It was nothing. I promise you that.”

“I’m not sure if I believe that.”

“It’s the truth. I’m being honest. I swear.”

(Lies upon lies upon more lies)

“Moana, at least-“

“Shit!” She curses as she chances a quick peak down at her watch. “It’s already 7:05! We gotta head out now!”

(Of course)

“But, Moana-“

“No time, Maui!” She grabs her cup and takes a big gulp. “We have to get going otherwise we’ll both be late!”

She jumps off the barstool before Maui can get another word out. She reaches over to swipe her keys and phone from the counter and dashes towards the family room to unplug her laptop from the plug. Maui inhales another sharp breath, closing his eyes as he mentally counts to ten. Then to fifteen. She was right. It was 7:05 as he read on his own watch. And truth be told, he didn’t want them to have to spend an hour sitting in traffic while they both stressed the worst about arriving late to work. That wasn’t part of his itinerary he had for today.

He takes one last gulp of the last drop of his coffee and moves to slip off his seat. Noting that Moana was in such a hurry to get out of here (more like to escape the depths of a possible interrogation), her mug was left behind on the counter. He goes to pick up her mug with his own in hand, until his eyes land on the one thing he never expected to see. An alarming view that caused his insides to twist and churn.

He was right not to buy in to her ridiculous lies. The thick scarlet encircled around the rims of where her lips had touched confirming his suspicions. The bright red trail blinking devilishly up at him. It was a good thing he wasn’t a stupid person who was oblivious to the universe. His eyes seeming unable to find the courage to part ways from the evidence that penetrated through his organs. Every word that tumbled out of her mouth was a lie. There was absolutely no doubt about that.

“Maui! You ready? Hurry or else we’ll be late!”

And it was a good thing that her voice proved that her person was no longer present in family room. Or the kitchen like he had feared. Pretty much telling him that she was seconds from exiting through the front door all set and ready to go.

“Uh, yea!” He calls back. “I’m coming!”

He carefully places the mugs into the sink. Unaware that his hands had been shaking. He takes one last look at the blood covered mug that’s stained, inhales a sharp breath through his nostrils, and reluctantly goes to claim his briefcase and exit the kitchen.

And for the entire drive down, he can’t shake away the thoughts that continue to haunt him.


 

Moana rubbed her sore temples and wished on whatever ridiculous stars there were that she could just pick up and leave for the day. Or maybe get some Advil. Advil would help. But it unfortunate that she had forgotten to carry an extra bottle in her purse. But that was because of two reasons. One being that she was now a prisoner and under the ruthless rules of her wicked witch of a boss. And unfortunately, there didn’t seem to be any pharmacies nearby that she could easily just run across the street to pick some up and slip back in with no one watching.

And two, being that she had been in such a rush this morning that she hadn’t realized she was completely out of the Advil that her poor temples desperately needed. But the reason for her being in a rush was to escape from the depths of having to endure some sort of interrogation that Maui seemed so determined to pry out of her. So in her defense, she needed to do what she had done. She needed to do everything in her power to have gotten out of that situation.

She couldn’t risk him finding out about her. Finding about her condition.

Not now. Especially not now. Not when she and him were on the road to developing a relationship. Now was not a good time. And truth be told, she wasn’t sure if it would ever be a good time. All she knew was that he couldn’t find out. She wasn’t going to let him. No matter how hard he tried, she wasn’t going to allow it.

Last night had been a mistake. She hadn’t meant for her to be reacting the way that she had done. One minute, she had been thirsty and was wanting a glass of water. And then the next, it was as if everything had happened to fast that it hit barreled into her like a ton of bricks. She especially hadn’t expected that she would participate in coughing up another blood bath. Thankfully to her, it hadn’t been as horrible as she had expected it to be. After all, it had been worse. Much worse than last night.

So to say, she was right about one thing. Her coughing up blood once in a while was normal in a sense. But normal for different reasons. Reasons that she couldn’t bear to discuss with him.

After all, Moana was fully mindful at the thought of the negative reactions her body would experience knowing what her chemotherapy treatments would entail. And she knew that so well that it had been pretty much been nearly a month and a half since she had attended her last chemotherapy appointment. The day that her boss, Gothel, had literally threatened to fire her was the day that Moana had decided to put her appointments on hold.

Just thinking about her abrupt decision caused her head to ache more than it had aching before. Her mind was worn from the amount of stress and over-thinking she was forcing her brain to carry. She only wished she could just drop everything she was doing and just hop on a plane that would take her to any place tropical where her only worries consisted of whether or not how much Vitamin D her body needed to soak up and how often she needed to take a divulge in a much needed sea bath in the ocean her skin needed to feed on.

If only…..

The buzzing from her phone vibrating against her glass desk had broken her away from her thoughts. No doubt that it was an incoming call. And to add more stress to carry on her shoulders, her eyes widened at the sight of the name that was blinking on the brightly lit screen. Her heart rate increasing with each rapid breath she took, pleading to the Gods that this was all a dream.

Dr. Helen Parr (Incoming Call)

Don’t answer. Don’t answer.

She wasn’t sure what it was. But maybe it was just a natural instinct that forced her hand to reach for her phone, pocketing the device in her hand as the vibration felt rough and ragged against her sweaty flesh that was pulsing. Eyeing the name down with such intensity, her thumb hovering over the green ‘answer’ button, knowing in her heart that it was the right thing to do. Her call history a catalog of numerous missed calls and her voicemail an album of urgent messages from her doctor. Wondering how she’s been holding up or sternly implying to her of her missed check-ins that she has failed to inform her of.

Her doctor meant well. Really and truly, she did. Moana was one hundred percent positive of that. But with the how things were going now, the demands of her job, the relationship she and Maui were beginning to establish, as bad as it sounded, her doctor’s appointments were right now the last thing on her list she needed to be focusing on. And it pained her to think that the only person who seemed to give a damn about her health was her doctor, Helen Parr. At this point, not even Moana herself could convince her own mind that her health and well-being was the first thing that needed to be at the top of her demands. The weight of her life was in the palm of her hand. What little life she knew she had left that is.

Chewing on her lip and closing her eyes, she’s mere seconds from hitting the green button.

A sharp knock on her glass door drew her eyes from the little screen cradled in the palm of her hand. And much to her horror, there stands the last person she wanted to see. Gothel. A look of distress painted on her features (her cake faced, Botox injected features and all.) This can’t be good. She tosses her phone aside without a second thought and sits up straighter in her chair, her fingers quickly combing through her mane of curls and she straightens herself out. Fingers lacing together as she presents her dear boss with her best (fake) smile.

“Come in!”

Gothel doesn’t hesitate to enter as she literally throws open the door and barges her way into Moana’s office. She had what looked like staples of paper hanging between her manicured fingers. And judging by the way her eyes were squinted when she was glaring, it immediately reminded Moana of a pit viper’s slit-like pupils. She gulped nervously. A burning animosity was developing in Gothel’s amber orbs, and she could tell she was likely the root cause of the problem for whatever it was that seemed to have her boss feeling perturbed. The woman stands above her desk, and Moana is trying her best to squirm under the impudent gaze that’s looming over her.

“I-is there y-you need, Gothel?”

Her voice is wavering in pitch as she spoke. And Moana has to mentally curse herself for allowing her boss to sense any kind of weakness she always seemed to enjoy throwing at her employees. The woman says nothing, and Moana jumps slightly at the harsh impact that the sound of the papers slamming against the glass had made. She looks to Gothel again, wincing as she cups her hands around her injected hips.

This definitely can’t be good.

“I-I…” She looks at the papers, then back up at Gothel again for confirmation. “What….what are these?”

Gothel huffs. “I’m certain you’d be familiar with these.

Moana blinks. Her wobbly fingers going to take the papers that were laid out in front of her. She flips through the stack, eyes scanning over the writing that seemingly looked strangely familiar. The phrasing. The wording choices. The paraphrasing, the topic….

What the…..is this some sort of joke?

“My article?” She looks up and meets Gothel’s impudent stare. “My most recent article?”

Gothel’s eyes narrow. Lips pursed. Gaze judgemental.

“T-the one that I….just submitted to you?” Moana blinks rapidly again. “T-the one y-you asked to write about….the mochas and lattes?”

Gothel smirks. “It’s a good thing you’re not dumb.”

Ouch. That stung.

“I-I…..But I don’t understand….” Her brows furrow. “Shouldn’t this….have already been published?”

The cougar of a woman gave a wry laugh. The sound reaching Moana’s ears with a feeling that left her stomach unsettled. Oh gods…..here we go….

“That’s what you think!” She was smirking down at the tiny woman before her, eyebrow tilted in dominance. “You really think I was going to send that,” she points her manicured nail at the papers in Moana’s grasp, “to the publishing committee?”

“Um….well…..yes.”

“Wrong.”

“W-what? I-I….I don’t understand.”

Gothel gives a dramatic sigh. Rolling her eyes and shaking her head. “Oh dearie, you are so naïve.”

(What the hell was that supposed to mean?)

“I will not be publishing your article.”

“I – what? B-but….but why?

“Why?” Gothel gives her look of mock terror. “Oh why dearie, did you not read over your article before you submitted to me?”

“I did.” Moana’s creased. “I-I read it over a bunch of times and I-“

“Obviously you didn’t read it over well enough.” The glare is back on Gothel’s features. Her eyes were narrowed. Rigid. Cold. Hard. “And I’m afraid to say, Ms. Waialiki, that I was very unimpressed with the work that you presented to me.”

Insults upon another insult. It was obvious. No need to sugar coat it.

Moana gapes. Blinking. “But….Gothel I….I-“

“You know, Ms. Waialiki, I’m beginning to think that you no longer care for your job here.”

“No! Gothel, t-that’s not true!” She blurts. “I do care! Really and truly, I-“

“Judging by the work you provided me with,” She nods towards the pathetic stacks of stapled papers. “I’m not convinced.”

She could feel the sweat glistening on her brow. “Gothel,” She says as though it’s the last time she’s seeing her parents again. “I really-“

“Ms. Waialiki, what I saw in your article was a disappointment.”

“But I ¬do care. Really, I do! Gothel, y-you have to believe me when I say that…..that I really and truly tried my hardest with this article, a-and-“

“It doesn’t look like you did.”

“But I did.

“I’m still not convinced, Ms. Waialiki.” Her piercing glare suddenly makes Moana feel small. So very small. Just like how she did a month ago when she was sitting in her own office being lectured for her tardiness. “Your writing was sloppy. Your phrasing was atrocious and overall…..” She pretends to ponder as she inspects her glittering nails. “……a disappointment.”

Moana blinks. Her eyes glossy. “B-but I-“

“A complete disgrace to the Dream On community, and an embarrassment to me.” The whites in her eyes turned a pure black, and as her iris glowered teal. Symbols, lines and dots formed in the iris, placed in a sort of manner. She huffs. “And here I was fool to believe that you were one of the best writers here. I guess I was wrong.”

Her words stung. They stung a lot. And at this point, the temptation to allow the tears to drown her sorrows was evident in the pit of her stomach. But because she refuses to let the lion dominate the lamb, she sucks on her teeth and says, “Gothel,” She stars slow, so slow. “I do care. And I am a part of this company.”

Gothel blinks. Points her chin to the sky. “Prove it.”

“What?”

“If you think you have what it takes to stay a part of this company, then you will prove it to me.” She says. “You are to rewrite this entire article over again.” Her tone is icy. Warning. “And you will make it stand out.”

She wants to object. But she closes her mouth and instead settles on a curt nod. “O-okay.” She says softly. “How long do I have?”

“You have until next week, Friday.”

“W-wait, Friday?” She suddenly gapes. “B-but-“

“Is that going to be a problem?”

“I-I just…..” She shakes her head. “I already have….two articles that are due next week!”

“And?”

“S-so that means…..I-I have to submit…three articles by then!”

She smirks. “Well that’s not my problem now, is it?”

“But Gothel, I-“

“You are to hand in all your articles to me by Friday.” She glowers. “No ifs, ands, or but! Otherwise, next week will be your last week working for this company. Do I make myself clear?”

She has no choice but to press her lips into a thin line. “Yes.” The last words of her sentence forcing her to retract the previous words that wanted to fly out of her mouth.

“Good. Now get back to work.” She turns on her heel to leave. And because she’s Gothel, she holds the authority and power to do so. “And Ms. Waialiki.”

Moana looks up. Brows creased. Lip quivering at the bottom and she has to force herself to bite it. And when her glossy gaze meets the harsh one staring back at her, part of her is questioning whether what more of her dignity this woman could take from her. With what little dignity she had left.

“This is your last chance. Don’t disappoint me again.”

And when Gothel disappears behind the glass door, Moana has to allow herself the opportunity for the warm sensation of the salty liquid to cascade down her face. Closing her sighs, hefting a loud sigh, she buries her face in the cups of her hands. Her breathing growing rapid. Wondering what on earth she had done in her life to deserve this.


 

Moana hadn’t taken her eyes off the screen of her laptop ever since they had stepped in through the door. She’s been sitting at the table hunched over like a pack mule for the past two hours. It was already five minutes to eight and her stomach had been rumbling at the fact that it still hadn’t receive any shred of food or a drop of liquid since today’s lunch break. The last time she ate had been at two o’clock. On the dot.

Maui comes in to the kitchen and finds her still sitting at the table. Brows furrowed in deep concentration, lips pursed and her fingers tapping and dancing animatedly against the keyboard as she’s typing away. And Maui has to wonder how she hasn’t become crippled yet. Especially with the amount of time she’s spent typing for the past two hours since they’ve been here.

He can’t help but furrow his brow, the scene in front of him troubling. Noting the little plate next to her laptop. Her grilled Chicken Cesar wrap that had probably gone cold had still remained untouched, tucked neatly away in the thin strip of white wrapping paper. Not a single bite, or any shred of evidence that the wrap had been tampered with. Nothing.

“Hey, Curly.” He pulls out the chair that’s next to her and takes a seat. “How was your day at work?”

But she was too much into the wording and phrasing she was producing onto the semi blank document on her laptop to notice that her roommate had broken the looming silence. Or perhaps, she did notice. But after all, this damn article wasn’t going to finish itself.

“It was….” She mumbles, deciding to give in. “Fine.”

“That’s good.” He nods, gaze fixed on her person. “Anything interesting happen today?”

She shakes her head. “Uh-uh.”

“I see.” Then his attention shifts briefly to the uneaten chicken wrap on her plate. “You haven’t touched your wrap. Aren’t you hungry?”

She hefts a sigh. “Not really, no.”

“You sure?”

“Yea.”

He studies her with a careful eye. “Is everything okay?”

“Uh-huh.” She gives a curt nod. Though her gaze is tightly fixed on the bright screen in front of her. “Why?”

“Nothing, it’s just….I noticed how quiet you were on the ride home.”

She says nothing. Fingers tapping and typing. Eyes peeled to the paragraphs of wording that hopefully seems to “stand-out” as Gothel would phrase it.

Then his brow creases. “I didn’t say anything to upset you this morning, did I?”
“No.”

“Are you sure?”

“For Christ Sakes, Maui! I’m fine!”

She hadn’t meant for the words to come out in the way that they did. Nor had it been her intention for the tone in her voice to raise two octaves than in its usual key. The way he flinched, his face a mask on confusion and shock, it was obvious even she had heard the error in her sentence. She clamps her mouth shut, chewing on her lower lip as a look of immediate remorse is quick to wash over her features.

“I…..I’m so sorry, Maui.” She says softly. So soft. “I-I didn’t….I didn’t mean to startle you, I just-“

“It’s okay.”

“No, no, I-I shouldn’t have yelled at like that, I-“

“It’s okay, Curly.” He tells her, his tone is gentle as his large hand goes to seek her small one. “Don’t sweat it. It’s not a big deal.”

She bites her lip. His forgiveness isn’t enough to wash away the guilt that’s still swelling in the contents of her stomach. Her lower lip is trembling, though Moana has to fight with herself to keep an iron grip on all the extreme emotions that were begging to be released. “I’m sorry…” She says quietly.

“Hey…” He swallows and without a second thought, he finds his other hand reaching to push a strand of her locks behind her ear. “Stop apologizing. It’s fine. Don’t beat yourself up over it.”

She’s still as her gaze is locked with his. Completely mindful at the fact that his large hand still lingered near the surface of her cheek. And Maui wasn’t sure if it was his inner instincts that had somehow kicked in, but when he finds his thick thumb tracing the tender skin of her cheek, he watches at the way how her body seemed to instinctively respond to the sudden affection it was receiving. His touch was so soft, and so gentle, Moana had found herself taking a liking to the fact of how attentive he was being. The way how his thumb continuously stroked her cheek, almost like he had been gently caressing all the stress away.

And she’s mere seconds away from reaching her own hand up to meet the one still lingering amongst her cheek. And Maui fully becomes mindful at what he’s doing. Pausing from his actions, he gives a sharp clear of his throat and he instantly rips his hand away from her face. Leaving Moana to eye him with a longing he couldn’t seem to reach.

“Are um….are you okay?”

“Oh….um….no, not really.” She shakes her head and sighs. “I’m just….I’m a bit stressed with my work, that’s all.”

“Yea? Well, why is that?”

She sighs again. “I got one of my articles back today.” She rolls her eyes. “My stupid boss is making me rewrite this entire article from scratch!”

“Why is she making you do all that?”

“Because she’s an evil witch! That’s what she is!” Moana groans. “Ugh! I swear she just….ugh!” She clenches her fingers in her scalp. “She just loves to make my life a living hell!”

“Well, what topic do you have to write the article about?”

She chuckles dryly at the question. Her tone lacking humor. “Mochas and lattes.” She smirks at him. “That’s what my article has to be about.”

He lifts a brow. “What?”

“Mochas and lattes.”

“Uh….you’re joking….right?”

“Nope.” She grins, and there’s a sarcastic edge in her words. “She’s making me write an article that’s requiring me to travel to different cafes in Downtown, Vancouver and write about which stupid cafe makes the most stupid divinely stupid mochas and stupid lattes!” Her hands throw up in frustration. “Mochas and lattes! Are you fricken kidding me?! Ugh!”

Maui blinks. Dumbfounded. “So…just so I’m following you,” He tries to make sense of the situation, “you have to come up with an article about which café makes the most delicious mochas and lattes?”

“Yes!”

He scrunches up his nose in distaste. “What kind of boss makes her employees write about….ridiculously overpriced coffee?”

“Trust me! I wish I had the answer to that!” Another groan as she slides further down into her seat. “Ugh! This article will be the death of me….”

He sends her an apologetic gaze. “Hey, don’t be so quick to give up.” He says lightly. “I know this whole thing is absolutely ridiculous. But, I think you can do it.”

She furrows her brow. “You do?”

“Of course!” He chuckles. “I wouldn’t be saying that if I didn’t think anything of it.” He smiles. “You can do this, Curly. I know you can.”

She hefts a sigh. “I’m not so sure anymore….”

His mouth opened and closed a few times. Unsure of what solution he could come up with. But if he was being completely honest with himself, he couldn’t help but feel incredibly useless. Of course him just sitting here staring at her with an apologetic gaze was definitely not going to help settle the situation in which she was battling. He wanted to help. He really did. He just didn’t know how. And generally speaking, this wasn’t exactly his particular area of expertise to begin with. Especially considering the fact that the majority of his previous roommates with whom he’s lived with in the past were usually those who were never interested in making small talk.

Now that he was living with Moana, things were different. Much different. She definitely wasn’t like any of the roommates he’s previously lived with. Just the thought of how he and she were beginning to develop some sort of relationship, it was indeed a drastic change compared to what he’s been used to experiencing throughout most of his life.

And to be honest, the thought kind of scared him.

It scared him a lot actually.

But yet somehow, the change seemed like it was….dare he say it….enjoyable.

So enjoyable.

But was that because of the fact that he was beginning to actually….feel something for her? There was no denying the fact that….maybe he was.

Her heavy sigh breaks through his thoughts. “I’m never gonna get this thing finished.”

He stares at her. “When does it have to be finished?”

“By Friday next week.” Another sigh. “Along with my two other articles.”

“You have to do two other articles?”

“Yea.”

“So that means…..you have to write….” He tries to make sense of everything. “….three articles….”

“Mhm.”

He blinks. “All three articles have to be finished by Friday?”

“Yup.”

“Ouch.”

“Tell me about it.”

And again, he still remained unsure of exactly what his next move was supposed to entail. He watches as she drags a hand down her face and hefts a loud sigh into the meat of her palm. His mouth opening, and closing once again. Feeling more and more like the world’s biggest and useless fool that ever walked the planet. Well then again, he was useless. Heck, he was even useless to his own family and look how that ended up.

“I can help.” He says without a second thought. “If you want….that is.”

His words catch her off guard. And she looks at him through the cracks of her fingers. Head tilting to the side to study his features.

“You….” She blinks. “What?”

“I’ll help you.” He offers. His tone serious. “I wouldn’t mind.”

She stares at him, eyes raking over his profile. Considering the words that had just tumbled out of his mouth. His offer tempting. It was a sweet gesture. And she was mere seconds from allowing the word ‘Yes!’ to fall from her lips. She blinks, then offers him a genuine smile.

“Maui, that….that’s sweet of you, but….”

“But….?”

And the look smile on her face is almost apologetic. “I wish I could take you up on that, and believe me, I would, but-“

“So why don’t you?”

“….Why don’t I what?”

“Let me help you?”

She blinks. “Well, I mean….it’s not like you can write my work for me.”

“Why not?”

She furrows her brow. “Why not…what?”

He shrugs. “Why don’t you let me write the article for you?”

“Maui,” She sighs and stifles back a small laugh. “I can’t just let you….write my article for me.” She smiles. “I couldn’t do that to you.”

“I don’t mind helping you out though, Moana.”

“But….Maui, I can’t let you do my work for me.”

“Well why not?”

“Because that would be considered cheating.” She says in calm tone. “I can’t give my boss something that’s not mine.”

He shrugs. “She doesn’t have to know.”

For some reason, her words didn’t seem to register with him. She was right. He knew that. But after all, Moana only knew that he meant well. His intention wasn’t to get her in any sort of trouble with her boss. His gesture wasn’t meant to ignite any sort of harm whatsoever. He was only trying to help. And for some reason maybe to Maui, this was his way of wanting to offer a helping hand. After all, the offer did seem tempting.

“Maui, I can’t-“

“How much work have you done so far?”

“Oh, um….” She moves her finger on the cursor and scrolls downwards. She sighs. “Only two pages.”

“And how long does it have to be?”

“Six to seven pages.”

He nods. “That doesn’t sound too bad.”

“You don’t know the half of it.” She mutters.

“Well, how about I look it over for you instead?” He offers.

“What?”

“Your work.” He nods towards her laptop. “Why don’t you let me see what you have so far and I can try to edit it for you?”

“Oh…..” The words drawls from her mouth. And she suddenly feels the insecurities swirling about in the contents of her stomach. Or maybe it was just the protest of her empty digestive system crying out to her. “Um….well….I-“

“I mean,” He interrupts, realizing that he may have sounded a bit too pushy. “that is, if you feel comfortable with me doing that…you don’t have to if you don’t want to.”

She considers his words. Considers his generosity. Though she’s hesitant as her fingers hover protectively over her keyboard. “Um…..o-okay….”

She slides her laptop closer towards him. Feeling what little confidence she had left begin to gradually diminish once she caught side of her large, thick fingers moving the cursor around the screen, his brows furrowed in concentration as his eyes skimmed slowly over the only bit of work she had produced. He seemed to be so engrossed in the content of her writing that the silence that was looming amongst them only left an uncomfortable feeling that was beginning to taunt her.

Oh my god! What I was thinking?! He probably thinks my writing sucks!

Moana wasn’t sure what it was that could be going through his head. And if she was being honest with herself, the thought was eating her up on the inside. She wasn’t sure whether or not he would ridicule her like Gothel had done. Tell her if her writing really did suck. Or tell her that she was indeed wasting her time waiting for a dream like this to ever come true. She didn’t know. And judging by the forced look of concentration that was painted on his features, his chin resting in the palm of his hand as his gaze studied every single wording and phrasing, and the way how the dent in his brow seemed to deepen as he scrolls further down the page, it was impossible for her to not think the worst of the worst.

See! Gothel was right! Even he thinks you’re shitty writer!

“Huh.”

His voice rips through her thoughts as she abruptly looks toward him. Her body slightly cowering away, face a portrait of fear. Though she was mentally preparing herself for the first blow of criticism that was soon to follow.

“Yea…..I know.” She bites her lip and clamps her eyes shut. “My wording is terrible.” She inhales a sharp breath. “And my paraphrasing is….disgusting. It’s…..not very good. I’m sorry….”

He snorts. “Sorry? What do you have to be sorry for?”

She lifts one eye open to peer at him. “W-what?”

“I’ve never heard of a writer having to apologize for how amazing her work is.”

Her other eye lifts open. And she blinks. “…Amazing?”

“Well, yea.” He says matter-of-factly as he turns to look at her. “You’ve got some great skills there, Curly.”

“I do?”

“Of course!” He chuckles and he keeps his gaze trained on her profile. “Your writing is fantastic!”

“Y-you…..you really think so?”

“Absolutely! This!” He points at her screen. “This is one of the best writings I’ve read in such a long time.” Then he smiles. “I mean, everything about it is just so….vivid. It’s beautiful.”

Moana at this point, isn’t able to prevent the heat from rising to her cheeks. Her stomach fluttered and participating in yet another match of backflips and jumping jacks.

“You really seem to captivate people with your writing.” He says. “It’s amazing.” He goes to skim over the wording once more. Then he furrows his brow. “Though, if I’m being honest, it seems like you’re holding back a bit.”

(I knew it was too good to be true)

The smile from Moana’s face instantly fell. “Oh……really?”

He presses his lips together, and then nods slightly. “A little bit, yea.”

He sees the look of hurt and defeat that’s painted on her features. Bowing her head down as she shields her face behind the curtain of her locks. Twiddling her thumbs in the meantime. Of course. It was too damn good to be true. It always was.

“What I meant by that,” She looks up, hopeful. “Is because, I think it’s a shame.”

She frowns at those words. “What is?”

“Well, the topic that you’re having to work with is…..just so mediocre.” He scrunches up his nose. “I mean, mochas and lattes? I don’t feel that it’s challenging you to the best of your ability.”

“….What are you saying exactly?”

He gives her a reassuring smile. “I’m saying that it’s too bad that you’re having to waste your talent on having to write about complete…..bullshit that means absolutely nothing.

She opens her mouth, then closes it. “You….you really think so?” Her tone soft. “Y-you’re not….just saying that, are you?”

“Trust me.” The smile is still there. “I know a good writer when I see one.”

There was something in his words that was comforting. So very comforting, each word moving past his lips concealed her insides. So warm and so sincere. And the look behind those gorgeous brown eyes of his that stared into hers had lined up perfectly with those last words that were said. Genuine. Reassuring. Encouraging. Everything all wrapped up on in one package. And Moana was able to find that smile that tugged at the corners of her lips.

His words were exactly what she had needed to hear after a hard day of being trapped in that prison she called ‘work’. At this point, Dream On might as well be one.

“Wow.” She sighs, laughing lightly. “Maui, I….I don’t know what to say.”

He chuckles. “You don’t have to say anything.” Another smile. “I meant what I said.”

“Yea?”

“Uh-huh. Every word.”

She smiles. “That’s…actually the sweetest thing you’ve….ever said to me.”

“Well, it’s the truth.”

She bites her lip. And she turns her head to the side to avert her gaze from his that lingered amongst her person, but the sudden rosiness of her cheeks gave her away. And Moana wasn’t sure just how far her cheeks had been stretching.

“Thank you, Maui.”

He smiles. “For what?”

“For believing in me.” It’s cheesy, she knew that. But it had to be said. “Lately, I’ve just been….I’ve just been doubting my ability to continue on with writing.” She swallows. “And, honestly, I’ve never….usually been confident with my writing skills.”

And there was something about her words that allowed the dent in his brows to deepen. Feeling troubled at hearing the words being confessed through her lips. And just as always, he had to hold back the urge of wanting to envelope her tiny body in his arms and just hold her against his chest while he just listened to her worries and whispered words of encouragement in her ears.

What he would give to just have her in his arms…..

“I….always felt insecure with my writing.” She explains quietly. “I honestly never thought I had what it takes to become a writer.”

“You shouldn’t think that way.” He tells her. “Not about your writing, or about yourself.

She sighs. “I know.” She gives a small shrug of her shoulders. “But….when you’re in a pool full of billions of other writers who have the same dream as you, it….it gets hard.” She bites her lip. “Especially….when there are other people that are better than you.”

Now it’s his turn to sigh. “There’s always going to be competition out there, Curly.” He explains, and his instincts kick in yet again as he finds his hand going to envelop hers in his grasp. And he keeps it there. Fingers wrapping around her tiny palm. “The world’s a competitive place.”

“I’ll say.”

He stares at her. “I know things can get very tough.” He says. “And trust me, they do. But, at the end of the day,” his other hand instinctively finds her features once again. This time, he pinches her chin between his thumb and index finger, tilting her face to look at him, “you just gotta believe in yourself.”

She says nothing. Looking at him.

“You just gotta believe it in your heart that you do have what it takes to achieve what it is that you….really want in life.”

(He’s right)

“And, I like I said before, I meant what I said earlier.” He nods. “About your writing being….amazing.”

(Even when he talks, it’s like melting into sweet honey....)

She swallows. “…You really think…it’s amazing?”

He nods, smiling. “Of course.” And his hand goes to brush the stray of hairs from her face. Allowing his fingers full access to rest against the supple skin of her cheek. “….Absolutely….” He stares at her with so much intensity. “….beautiful.”

And just as instantly, the feeling was back. That same feeling they had both felt the minute their hands had made contact back at Lalotai. That same tingly feeling that just felt….right. So warm, so natural, so genuine, it was as if Moana had experienced fireworks igniting in her system. And while their gazes were locked on each other’s, it was like they were looking into one another’s souls. He knew her fears. She knew his weakness. He was everything she could have asked him to be.

She allows her eyes to flutter at the feel of his warm fingers tracing the flesh on her cheek. His warmth from his touch seeping into her being, comforting her with just the stroke of his hands fingers alone. And for what felt like eternity, Moana had almost melted into him like ice-cream on a warm porcelain bowl. And just like this morning, Moana was once again lost in the depths of breathless paradise in his calming eyes. No doubt that the attraction between them was growing. Throbbing against their insides. Begging to be released right this second.

Her hand goes up to meet his. Her fingers small against his as they wrap around his large ones. And her hand stays there. Not daring to move any time soon. Maui almost has to hold back the sigh that’s hitched in his throat the minute her skin comes in contact with his. Swallowing as his gaze is fixed tightly on hers. Neither of their gazes wanting to disperse from one another any time soon.

Her breathing goes heavy, and gulps down another blob of saliva down his throat. And before he knew it, Maui finds himself leaning forward. Moving his head closer to Moana’s. She sits, fingers clutched around his that’s still cupped around her cheek.

(It’s happening….it’s happening…..)

He leans in, his forehead resting against hers. They close their eyes. Both their breathing mixing with one another. And he’s close, so close, his lips almost barely brushing against hers, and….

Beep. Beep. Beep.

The cacophony of the chiming from his phone jolts them. Both of them ripping apart from one another as Maui lets out a loud huff underneath his breath. Damn piece of shit phone! He goes to grab the phone from the table, his attention shifted to focus on the bright screen in front of him. Which left Moana feeling embarrassed, and somewhat disappointed.

He groans. “Stupid work….” He mutters.

Moana wrinkles her nose. “Is it important?”

“Ah, yea…..sorta.” He drags a hand down his face and rises from the table. “I gotta take this.”

“Oh….okay.”

He pauses from taking another step further. Cursing under his breath. Muttering profanities of words that thankfully, Moana couldn’t seem to make out. He wonders where things would’ve gone had he left that stupid cell-phone of his upstairs…..

“Sorry about that.”

She blinks. Then shakes her head. “No, no. It’s fine.” She nods as she closes the screen to her laptop shut and rises from the table. “I um….I’m gonna go take a shower anyways so….”

He gives a curt nod. Clearing his throat as he tried to shake away the rather provocative thoughts that ran through his mind after hearing the word ‘shower’.

Get your mind of out the gutter, dude!

“Alright.” He looks at her. “I’ll um….I guess….we can talk later then?”

She smiles. “Of course!”

“Great.” He looks down at the plate that still lingers and picks it up. “And,” He hands her in the plate of now cold uneaten chicken wrap. “Please eat something before you go to bed.”

She chuckles. “Okay, dad.” Though she’s blushing. “I will.”

Now it’s his turn to chuckle. “Good.”

And when he turns to head out of the kitchen, Moana finds herself calling after him without a second thought. He pauses in the doorway, turning to face her.

“What is it?”

She blinks. “Thank you.” She smiles. “Thank you for the talk and….and for everything.”

The smile on his lips reaches all the way up to his face. “You’re welcome.”

And when he disappears out of the kitchen, Moana couldn’t remember the last time she had felt the butterflies in her stomach fluttering about in her system. And another thing she was certain of.

As much as she hated it to admit it, Rapunzel had been right all along.

(Oh boy….)

Chapter Text

Moana was sitting at the counter with her laptop the next morning. Moving the cursor of her mouse to scroll through the semi-blank document of her work that sat in front of her. Her mind unable to produce any more words than she had come up with last night. Still sitting at two pages, with four or five more pages to go. She had tried to find any more interesting ideas that her brain could come up and eventually maneuver through her fingers to the keyboard. But nothing. No a single sentence. Not even a single word.

She hefts a deep sigh. A case of writer’s block puncturing through her skull. The article was due on Friday of next week, along with her two other articles that just so happened to have the same deadline that needed to be met. How she was going to find the motivation and that inner fire within her to push through? She wouldn’t know. And at this point, it wasn’t like she could just turn her back and walk away from this forever. No. Unfortunately not. Looks like her week was definitely going to consist of participating in numerous all-nighters. Something that she couldn’t put her body through. But she’s done it before, and it looks like she was going to have to do it again.

That was the story of her life.

She had been so preoccupied with staring at the taunting screen in front of her, that even her list of emails that were marked urgent didn’t seem faze her. Even if they were emails from her work, or invoices from her doctor, none of that seemed to be a big priority for her right now. All that was consuming her thoughts right this moment, was getting all three of those articles finished, published, and complete. Done. Nothing else.

Easier said than done though. Moana only wished it could be that easy. She hefts a loud sigh, her chin rested in the palm of her hand, wondering why on earth she was even putting herself through all of this. Heck, she couldn’t even believe that at the time she had even considered submitting her resume to this company in the first place. Or why she had decided to immediately accept this job without a second thought. Had she done so three years ago, maybe her life would be different right now. Maybe even less stressful.

But then again, maybe she was here for a reason. Or so she had tried numerous times to convince herself.

Another sigh, this one longer and louder than the one before. She chances a look out the window, noting how the sun’s golden yellowy rays spilled through the cracks of her shutters over the kitchen sink. It was a Saturday morning. Bright and sunny as the weather forecast had promised. And the melodious sounds of the bird’s chirping and singing in the background signified that the forecast had indeed kept its word for a much nicer and refreshing day.

And right now, all Moana had tried to convince herself at this point was that a nice leisurely walk on this beautiful morning was the only thing she should be worrying about. Her mind had been right. The article could wait a bit. Right now, her body was craving a good dose of Vitamin D. Without a second thought, she grabs hold of the elastic hairband on her wrist and throws her hair into a loose bun. As she was just about to close the screen to her laptop shut, it wasn’t long until a pair of hands (massively large hands) landed roughly on her shoulders and had made her jump at least a foot off the chair, and a sharp yelp to add to the mix.

“Holy shit!” She exclaimed in shock. “W-what the….?!”

And the sound of the bassy, deep laugh had confirmed her suspicions of the instigator. She whirled around in her seat and shot a glare at the burly culprit that was standing behind her, holding his stomach with laughter as tears pooled from his eyes. Of course her roommate had to be such a goof in the mornings.

“Gotcha Curly!” He cackles. “Oh – oh man! That was priceless!”

“Ugh! Goddamn it Maui!” She exclaims, resting her hand on her chest as it rapidly rose and fell. “You nearly almost made shit my pants!” She throws up her hands. “Don’t sneak up on me like that!”

“Man!” He roars with more laughter. “You should’ve seen the look on your face!”

She narrows her eyes, lips pursed. “I hate you….”

He puts his hands up in surrender. “Okay, okay!” He says through guffaws, laughter gradually beginning to subside. “I’m sorry! Didn’t mean to scare ya there, Curly.”

“Oh bullshit!” She snorts. “You totally did so!”

He ponders over this a quick moment, then shrugs with a wide grin. “Yea, you’re right!” His chest shakes with chuckles. “I totally did.”

She sticks her tongue out of him. “You’re horrible! Y’know that?”

“I know!” He grins in triumphant. “It’s one of my many talents!”

She rolls her eyes and shakes her head. “Yea! I’ll say….” Then she can’t stop the chuckles that come out of her.

Maui just shrugs. Another chuckle as he doesn’t hesitate to claim the seat on the barstool next to her. The smile instantly vanishes from his face, his eyes narrows at the sight of her open laptop. He nods his head towards it.

“More work?”

She hefts another sigh, turning her head lazily toward the device that was still visible in her wake. She rolls her eyes and closes it shut.

“I was trying to.” She mumbles in monotone. “But I wasn’t getting anywhere.”

“Writer’s block?”

“Uh-huh. One hundred percent.”

“Ah, I see.”

She chances one last glance over her shoulder to stare out the window. Without a second thought, she eagerly hops off the stool. Her gaze still settled on Maui’s, and she’s quick to field the questioning brow that’s raised on his face.

“So….are you doing anything right now?” Her voice is meek, though she’s quick to lace it with a smile.

He blinks because her question had caught him off guard. “Uh…..” Then he shakes his head. “No, not really.”

“Oh, well great!”

He furrows his brow. “Why?”

“Oh, I was actually gonna go for a walk.” She reaches for the water bottle that she laid next to her laptop. “Since it’s so nice out.”

“Oh….alright.” His gaze briefly meets the bright rays hitting his face through the window. “It does look nice out actually.”

She nods, then hesitates. “Actually, I was wondering if, I dunno, maybe….” She pauses, searching his gaze. “…you wanted to come and join me?”

“You want me to come with you?”

She shrugs with a meek smile. “If you want to, then of course!”

He stares at her. Her invitation had definitely caught him off guard. It had caught him off guard so much that even he couldn’t seem to find the words to respond. Though Maui would admit, the invitation did indeed sound tempting.

Very tempting.

“…That is….” Her voice brings him back to planet earth. “If you’re…not busy…”

He scratches the back of his neck. “Actually, I um….I was actually gonna go for a jog later on in the afternoon….”

“Oh….” Even he had to scold himself for allowing the disappointment in her tone to surface. “…Well um….that’s alright.” She looks at him, a small smile. “If you want to go on your jog, then-“

“But I don’t mind going for a walk.” He cuts in quickly. A little too quickly. “…With you….that is…..”

“Oh!” Her ears instantly perk up at this. Her smile growing wider. “Well, sure! That would be…awesome!”

He grants her a small smile in return. Finally able to relax at the eagerness that her tone portrayed. Because really and truly, who the hell was he to turn down an offer such as that? After all, he could use a nice leisurely walk on a beautiful Saturday morning. Especially since he would be in the company of his roommate. His beautiful roommate that is. His gaze didn’t leave hers. Nor was hers quick to disperse from his anytime soon. And the question still remained, how crazy was he to have turned down an offer like this? Especially being completely mindful of the fact that this beautiful ray of sunshine standing in front of him had gone out of her way to actually invite him to come along with her?

These were the things that Maui himself still had yet to learn.

“I um….” He slides off the barstool. “I’m just gonna get changed quickly, and then we can go.”

She nods. “Okay! Great!”

Because who in the right mind would he be if he actually had the guts to walk out of the house in only his boxer shorts and raggedy tank top? Sure, he could definitely have gotten away with it considering that most women would drool at the sight of his large, defined muscles. But considering the fact that here his roommate was standing in front of him wearing her black lulu lemon yoga pants that fitted well enough to outline the curves of her thick legs, all the way up to where it was hugging those delicious hips so snuggly, noting the way how her red V-neck tank top clung desperately to her toned and slim figure, and the way how her locks were now wrapped in a bun on her head, allowing him to get a full view of the beautiful coco and supple skin of her shoulders that looked so small and frail.

It certainly didn’t long for Maui to admit that the attraction he had for her was beginning to grow rapidly. Swelling in the depths on his organs and piercing its way to the core of his soul. And even without make-up, he felt as though he was finally able to comprehend the beauty that this young woman had. There was a type of natural beauty to her that made even Victoria Secret models seem ordinary. And he couldn’t stop the beating heart in his chest at the smile she gave him. He always knew that the smile she gave off was one that signified warmth and kindness. But Maui never knew just how beautiful her smile was. So beautiful it was like the stars themselves had decided to rest behind the soft cushion of her lips.

Those lips. Full, soft. What he would give to meld his own with hers and just be able to taste them….

“Maui?” He shakes his head as her voice rips him from his thoughts. She’s still smiling at him. “You okay?”

“Huh? Oh…..y-yea!” He mutters and scratches the back of his neck. “I um.…..I’m gonna go get changed quickly.”

She nods. “Okay! I’ll wait for you outside?”

“Sure. That’s fine.”

“Great!”

And as Maui is climbing up the stairs to his bedroom, he finds himself pausing in the doorway. Unable to shake those thoughts that had now consumed his brain. Wondering how things would’ve turned out last night had his damn phone hadn’t had interrupted the moment that had been mere seconds from happening.

Wondering what it would’ve been like had his lips had gotten the opportunity to have meshed together with hers….


 

As it turned out, having good company seemed to have made the walk more enjoyable. And to Moana, it felt amazingly peaceful to have someone walking alongside her. Considering that her usual morning walks were always either depressing or lonesome, it was a nice change to have Maui by her side. His company becoming more and more delightful that it always left a positive effect on her well-being. Even if it was technically only the third day that were just getting to know each other. That thought didn’t seem to faze her. Nor did it seem to faze him that much either.

It merely felt like two old friend reuniting after having been apart from one another since their preschool days when they were once in diapers and could barely produce an audible word that sounded nothing close to the traditional English language. At this point, she was glad that she had decided not to hold a grudge against him when he had delivered his sincere apology. Who knows how things would’ve turned out?

“So, tell me something.” He looks down at her as they’re walking down a path. The sun warm against their flesh and the large pine trees providing them with shade they would need. “When did you realize that you wanted to become a writer?”

She giggles at this. “From the time I started high school.” She looks up at him. “Ever since I was little, I always loved to write. Poems. Stories, you name it!”

“Ah.” He smiles. “That sounds interesting.”

“Mhm! And essays too.”

“Essays?” He scrunches up his nose. “Really?”

“Yup!”

He quirks a brow. “You’re telling me that you actually liked writing essays?”

“Totally!” She smirks up at him, careful to keep stride with his. “Why, you never liked having to write essays when you were in school?”

He snorts. “Are you kidding? Writing essays was my sworn enemy back in school.”

“Oh please! I’m sure you’re just being dramatic!”

He huffs in disgust. “U-uh. Those things will be the death of me.” He shivers at the memory.

She laughs at this. “Oh come on! Essays aren’t that bad you know!” And she jokingly bumps her shoulder against his (well, his forearm since she’s so much shorter than him). “They can be fun to write!”

“Huh, easy for you to say.”

Another giggle from her. “Oh Maui,” She shakes her head. “You are so ruthless.”

He shrugs. “At least I’m not a nerd like some people….”

“Hey!” She smacks him in his arm. “Take that back!”

He’s laughing now. “You didn’t even me let me finish!” He smirks down at her. “I meant so say, at least I’m not a cute nerd like some people.”

She sticks her tongue at him, though at this point, it’s nearly impossible for her to hide the blush that’s beginning to rise to her cheeks. Which in turn has him throwing his head back and roaring with laughter. And that’s how it ends up being for the ten minutes that pass by. One teasing the other, while the other retaliates and spits something cheeky back. Laughter is exchanged along with funny faces and goofy voices trying to imitate one another.

Yup. Moana could definitely get used to this.

“So, you say you like to write stories?” He asks genuinely. Their laughing session has died down. She nods eagerly at this. “And poems too?” She nods again. “Ah, I see.”

“Yup! I’ve always love writing stories!” She sighs happily at thought. “It’s always been a passion of mine.” She looks at him. “And it’s always been something that I want to pursue as a full-time career.”

“So you want to be an author then?”

“Mhm!”

“Huh” He’s pondering over this, while enjoying the feel of the warm breeze kissing his sun tanned skin. “So, if you love writing stories so much, then how come you haven’t started selling any novels?”

She considers his question. His words. Feeling the disappointment resurfacing in her system. Chancing a look at the beautiful, luscious trees that stood tall and proud around them. Her smile vanishing off her face. She lets out a sigh.

“It’s…..complicated….I guess.”

“How so?”

“It’s just….it’s hard to explain.”

Maui shrugs at this. “I don’t how that could be so hard.”

She furrows her brow. “What do you mean?”

“Simple. You like writing stories, right?”

“Yes.”

“And it’s something that you love to do, right?”

“Well, yea…..but-“

“So, it shouldn’t be that hard.” He shrugs again. “I mean, you do have the knack for it. All you just gotta do is write some stories, bring it to an editor, send it in to the publisher and then release it into a novel. Shouldn’t be that complicated like you say it is.”

(Yea, that’s what you think)

A frown forms on her brow as she gazes ahead. “I….” She hesitates. “I don’t think you really understand how the process goes.”

“What do you mean?”

“….It’s really not as easy as you make it out to be.”

He frowns at this. “All you really need is an editor and a publisher, Moana. It sounds a lot simpler than you make it out to be.”

She sighs. “I know that Maui, but I….” She pauses. “…I just don’t think that you’re getting it.”

“And how am I not seeming to get it?”

“It’s more than just ‘sending it in to an editor’ and then ‘giving it to a publisher!” She hadn’t mean to grow annoyed, especially with the how he was frowning at the irritation that her tone was conveying. “What, did you think that it only takes a day or two to get a novel edited and published?”

He pursed his lips and then shrugs. “I was thinking more like a week or two….”

“Trust me, if it was that easy, I would’ve already had sold over ten million books and I’d be a millionaire right now.” She sighs and shakes her head. “…Only….it’s really not as easy as you think.”

“Hm. Maybe I should’ve just kept my mouth shut then.”

Moana winces at the tone in his voice. Mindful of the error in which her tone had portrayed towards him. (Not again….) Noting how she was now the epitome of ‘The World’s Biggest Bitch’. She had done it again. And she had to mentally scold herself for once again, allowing the stress and frustration to just spill out and punch him in the face without a single warning. It was quiet between them for a bit, as they both walked, and with the exception of the birds chirping around them, echoing in the air.

“You didn’t do anything wrong, Maui.”

He lifts his shoulders. “Well, I guess it’s just my fault that I don’t always seem to know the right things to say.”

She looks up at him. “I’m sorry.” She confesses softly. “I didn’t mean to get frustrated with you.”

“Mm, it is what it is, Curly.”

She chews on her lower lip. “I shouldn’t have blown up at you like that.” Her voice still soft. “I just….lately, I’ve just been feeling….” She hesitates. “….so unhappy and all that….”

He furrows a brow. “With what?”

She hefts a sigh. “With….everything.” She whispers, staring down as she watched her feet taking one stride after the next. “….My job. My family. Everything.”

He gives a curt nod. “So in other words, you hate your job then.”

“Yea.”

“Can I ask why?”

She shrugs. “Because….it’s not where I want to be.” Then another sigh. “It’s not exactly….where I’d envisioned myself I’d be.”

(That makes two of us….)

He casts his eyes downward in her direction. “It doesn’t make you happy.” His gaze is sympathetic. “Does it.”

She shakes her head. “No. It doesn’t.” Her tone is laced with longing. “Working at a magazine company,” She sighs again. “It….just isn’t for me.”

She looks up at him, and is instantly comforted with the warm and apologetic gaze he’s giving her. His eyes signifying that he knows exactly how she feels.

“Yea?”

“Yea.” She nods. “I mean, my boss hates me. I can’t even stand her myself. The other employees there are just….snobby and very competitive. And I just….” She pauses and takes in a deep breath. “I just feel like…..nothing I do there….is ever good enough.” Her voice is wavering in pitch as she’s speaking. “It just….doesn’t define who I am, y’know?”

Maui had to consider her words. Digesting every single syllable tumbling out through her lips. Every word spoken a mirror of his own thoughts he constantly deals with on a regular basis. The inferiority. The lack of self-discovery. His longing to pursue something that means so much more to him as opposed to being meaningful to his parents. His entire family.

(Déjà vu much?)

“I see.” Because he understands. Really and truly, he does. “So then, why are you still working there if you hate it so much?”

“Money.” She frowns at this. “I still need a stable income.”

(Duh!)

Of course. Money always seemed to play an important factor in decision making. Not to mention, it was also known to be the biggest culprit in life. But then again, money did guarantee a much longer and stable life.

Or so his parents always said to him.

“What about your family?”

His question had caught her off guard. “…My family?”

“Sure.” He nods. “Your mom, your dad? Have you ever told your parents how you feel about your job?”

“Uh…oh….” She blinks rapidly. “I uh….” And she switches her vision to focus on the precipitous path ahead of her. “I actually haven’t….spoken to my parents in….such a long time.”

“Really?”

She nods.

He furrows his brow. “How come? If you…don’t mind me asking…”

She chews on her bottom lip. “It’s um…it’s complicated….that’s all.”

“Are they still around?”

And the sharp look she sends him has him realizing the glitch his question conveyed.

“I mean….” He gulps. “…Are they still around? In Vancouver that is?”

Though his question still didn’t seem to calm her down, she blinks, tears her gaze away from his and shakes her head.

“No.”

“Oh….so they’re no longer living here anymore?”

She shakes her head.

“Well, where are they living then?”

Moana has to do everything in her power to bite back the sob that was now wedged in the base of her throat. Swallowing past the lump, her teeth sinking into the flesh of her lip. Her vision beginning to blur, though she did not dare let the tears escape. Maui was not going to see her like this. Not now. Maybe not ever.

“Moana?”

“They’re back home.” She blurts without realizing. Though it proved to be a safer route for the time being. “In Kohala, that is…”

“Oh, really?” He stares at her. “I didn’t know that.”

She swallows. “Y-yea….” She clutches her water bottle tighter in her grasp. “They um, they moved back home when I was…eighteen.”

“And they haven’t been back since?”

“No.”

“I see.”

And for some reason, an uncomfortable silence falls amongst them. Well, to Moana, it was rather uncomfortable. They were nearing what looked like a woodland floor that was a million hues of brown, a sight that was calming to their visions. The view laid in front of them magnified by the moisture, variation on variation. Mingled in are some stones, adding their greys to the mosaic beneath their feet. And up ahead, the trees are khaki over the bark, kissed with moss; on their shaded sides grows lichen as if thrown there like powdered paint, so softly green as to be close to white.

A sight that Moana knew all too well. A sight that had caused memories upon memories to pool in her brain. And if she was being honest with herself, the sight left her feeling a tad emotional. And she had to do everything in her power to calm her beating heart, a deep pain aching in the contents of her stomach and travelling all the way up to her chest. Her head bowed, chewing her lip.

“Wow.”

She doesn’t look up as Maui had breathed in amazement. His pace coming to a gradual stop as he was taking the breath-taking scenery around him. Much to Moana’s chagrin.

“This place….”

Maui lets his eyes rest on the trees, their bark scarred by forest animals seeking insects. Each of them is soft brown, their injuries mahogany and deep even where the light reaches them. Periodically there is a raised ring under the bark going right around the girth, regular and chaotic all at once.

Moana stands, a few feet ahead of him, head tilted as her lips are pursed, growing impatient and desperate to get out of here as fast as possible.

“It’s just….wow.” He sighs. “Amazing.”

Moana swallows. “It is.”

“Do you come to this place a lot?”

She nods.

“What is this place?”

She hesitates. “C-Calmlake.” Even the name leaves a painful taste on her tongue.

Maui places his hands on his hips. In utter amazement at the scenery surrounding him. Then he locks his gaze with hers. “I bet you and your family always used to come here, huh.”

(A lot actually….)

“Mhm.”

“Do you ever think of going back to Kohala to visit them?”

It didn’t long for Moana to suddenly begin to discover that her breathing was growing rapid. Heavy. Shallow breaths here and there. Her lungs clamping together tightly, as if someone was squeezing the air out of her mouth.

“N-no….”

“Why not?”

She shakes her head. “B-because I…..I c-can’t…”

He smirks at this. “Sure you can!”

Her face felt tight. Hot. Everything becoming too much for her mind and body to handle all at once. Already her heart rate was accelerating and her mind replayed the trips to the hospital, the paramedics, the waiting room, the caskets being lowered deep into the ground on a depressing rainy day, the continuous flow of tears, the days spent locked and sobbing in her room until her throat become raw and dry, the fainting spells, the anxiety attacks, everything repeating and circling on a continuous loop.

She was unable to make out the rest of his words. His mouth was moving, but the words didn’t seem to be audible to her ears.

“M-Maui…..I-I need….w-we….”

(Oh god…it was happening again…..)

“…na?.....you……ay??”

His words were muffled. Her sight growing blurry. Her hearing cutting in and out. Everything around her transforming into colors. Different colors. Blotches of red, splatters of white and yellow was all she could see. None of it making the slightest bit of sense. Sweat trickled down her face, her breathing heavy. All of sudden, her legs felt shaky, no longer able to support her body. Her hand instinctively goes to clutch her chest, and her water bottle tumbles from the grasp of her hand and lands at the base of her feet, he pain was rushing through her body and sitting in the depths of her chest like an igniting fire.

“…M-Maui……c-can’t…..s-see…..”

“Moana!”

Maui’s voice boomed and echoed through her skull. Moana lost the colour from her face. It was as if her heart had suddenly stopped beating and all the blood had run down into her shoes. She swayed for just a moment before Maui was barreling towards her, and caught her, lowering her to the ground.

“Moana…..”

A soft moan escapes from her mouth. Her eyes flickering open, and her vision was clear again. She wasn’t sure if she had been dreaming or not, but feeling her body being cradled in a pair of large arms was beginning to feel more realistic than it was a fantasy. And she sighs softly as his fingers were stroking her face with such tenderness that it almost lulled her to sleep.

“Hey, Moana?”

His tone was soft, though there was urgency there. Her eyes meet his, his head peering down at her, his locks a curtain around his face. And Moana couldn’t remember the last time she had ever seen something that was so beautiful.

“Moana, are you okay?”

She breathes deeply. Satisfied that her breathing had returned back to normal. Her hand goes to rest upon his, as she blinks and rapidly.

“M-Maui…?”

“It’s okay.” He whispers. “I’m right here.”

“I….w-what….happened….?”

He swallows. “You fainted.”

She gapes. “I-I did?”

“Yea.”

“Oh!” She tries to jolt out of his arms, but is instantly tugged backwards. Body resting against his chest. “I-I’m fine! Really, I-“

“You’re not fine.”

“Yes!” She nods, shifting out of his grip so that when she’s kneeling, their faces are inches apart. “I-I’m fine!”

“Moana, you fainted.”

She shakes her head. “Maui, it’s…it’s nothing, really.” A small laugh. “I’m fine.”

He studies her. Brows furrowed. “Moana, you’re not fine.”

“But I am-“

“No, you’re not.” Then his brows are creased. “Couple days ago after breakfast, you almost fainted.” His tone is low, stern. “The night before, I find in the kitchen coughing up blood.”

“Maui, I-“

“And then now,” He cuts in. “This time, you did faint.”

She blinks. Opens her mouth and then closes it a few times. He’s got her pegged. She knows that. So in reality, did it really make sense to try and convince him that what he’s seen so far wasn’t real? So instead, she just chews on her bottom lip and averts her gaze downward.

“Moana, if there’s something going on with you-“

“Nothing’s wrong with me.”

“I don’t believe that.”

She swallows. “Well, believe it.” Then she looks at him, gaze determined as his tone.

“Moana-“

“I’m fine, Maui.” And there it was. That same smile that always seemed to stretch wider on her face. “Really, I am.”

She rises from the ground before he could manage to get another word. Watching as she’s dusting the dirt from her pants and grabbing her water bottle from the ground. And Maui isn’t sure whether or not trust to his instinct and just dial 9-1-1 right here, right now. But he knew something that was certain.

Moana was not okay. Something was wrong with her.

“You coming?” She smiles. “We can explore more of Calmlake and-“

“Actually, how about we call it a day and just, head back home?”

“Oh….” A troublesome look. “…You sure?”

“Yea.” He rises from the ground, his gaze still on hers. “I think it’s better if we get you back home to rest for a bit.”

“Maui….I’m fine. I don’t need-“

“You need to rest, Moana.”

“No, I don’t-“

“Yes.” He moves toward her, his large form towering over her tiny one. “Yes, you do.”

She wants to challenge him. Tell him that there was absolutely nothing wrong her. She wants to tell him how silly he’s being. Not to mention, overly protective. But for some reason, the way how his massive form seemed to be looming over hers had left her feeling small. So small that she had no choice but to reluctantly oblige to his request.

She swallows. “O-okay…”

“Good.” He nods. “And I’m carrying you home.”

“What? Maui, you don’t-“

And he doesn’t give her a chance to object before a squeal slips past her lips. He swung her up from the ground and into his strong arms as if she were nothing more than a ragdoll, plucking the water bottle from her grasp and pocketing it in the pockets of his jogging shorts. Her gaze never left his, as his were on hers. Her hands finding purchase on his shoulders so that her arms were literally wrapped around his neck.

“Ready?”

She gulped. Blinking rapidly as she slowly nodded. “Um…y-yea….”

A grin from him. “Good.”

As he walked back up the hill (though it didn’t seem like it had been a hill since they had been walking downward), he walked with such ease. Her weight didn’t bother him. But then again, with the size of his muscle, not to mention how wide his form was, he didn’t seem to have a problem lifting twenty car tires all at once. And as he was walking, Moana couldn’t seem to take her eyes off him. Studying his features so intently. Rather enjoying the feel of being in his arms. And given his size, he was so gentle. As if he was nervous at the mere thought of breaking her.

He looks down at her. “You okay?”

Her eyelids flutter. “Yes.”

A small smile from him leaves her heart pulsing a thousand beats second.

And as he was walking with his arms still full of her, Moana couldn’t resist the urge that was ebbing inside her. Chewing on her lower lip, gaze raking one last time over his sculpted features, she does the last thing that she ever expected herself to do.

Her hand reaches up to touch his face, fingers caressing his cheek with such warmth. And without a second thought, Moana leans up and her lips alight on his cheek like a dew freckled petal caught in a breeze, so soft and with the smallest hint of coolness. And because he was so shocked at the unexpected contact, his strides gradually come to stop, his heart beating so hard that he feared she’ll hear it. And if she did, then his secret would definitely be no longer a secret.

His gaze is searching hers. He couldn’t hold back the small smile that spread across his lips at the adorable way her cheeks were suddenly kissed pink like a spring rose, the blooming color so cute against her supple skin. She averts her gaze from his.

“I uh….wow….” He gulps, smile still spread across his face. “What….what was that-?”

“I’m sorry!” She blurts, blinking rapidly. “I-I….I just…..”

“You don’t have to be sorry.”

She chews on her lower lip. “I….” Her eyes rake over his. “I just….wanted to thank you….”

He lifts a brow. “For what?”

A small smile. “For just….for everything...." She says softly. "For....being you.”

For being you….

Her words trigger him. He swallows at this. The most kind and endearing words he’s ever heard in his entire life. Leaving a rather peaceful melody in his ears.

And as his own instincts came in, he leans and presses his lips to her forehead. She closes her eyes at feel of his soft lips amongst her head, breathing in his scent heavily and looks into his eyes. Her grip tightened around the expanse of his shoulders.

“Y-you’re welcome.”

And without a second thought, Moana gently leans upward and presses her lips to Maui’s, kissing his warm lips. And Maui, of course, has no objection, his lips moving just as eager amongst hers. They pull apart and take shaky, shallow breaths. Unable to contain themselves any longer, Moana holds Maui’s face and brings him into another kiss. Their lips moving together with one another in one continuous unit. He returned the kiss just as urgent. He kissed her, and the world immediately fell away. It was slow and soft, comforting in ways that words would never be. He pressed his tongue to the seam of her lips, granting him full access to delve his tongue into her mouth as he lifted her body slightly higher into his arms. His fingers caressing her back so lovingly, Moana had completely lost herself and had let out a few, small urgent moans.

It was everything that they had both been waiting for.

“Mm….Moana…..”

His groan was husky. And though neither of them seemed eager to end this moment, their lips separate from one another. Her hand pressed against his cheek, their breaths mingling with one another, gazes full of longing and craving more of that delicious friction.

He swallows. “We should….” He breathes. “….We should probably head back.”

She blinks, feeling a dizzy and high off that kiss. “O-oh…..” Though there was disappointment in her tone, she suddenly became mindful at the fact that here they were, standing on a path with him carrying her in his arms like a mother carrying her babe. “….o-okay.”

A small smile spreads across her lips as his lips place another soft kiss amongst her forehead. And he’s back to heading in the direction that they had previously come from. On the way home, there was two things.

One, Moana couldn’t resist the urge to bury her face in the crook of his neck as she rests her head against his shoulder. Unable to wipe the goofy smile from her features.

And two, Maui was beginning to believe that there was a reason as to why his cell-phone had interrupted them yesterday.

And one thing was for sure.

There was definitely no denying the fact that the two had both discovered a mutual attraction to one another.

Maybe it was a good thing that things between Nani hadn’t worked out after all.


 

Maui is at work that morning, shuffling through more papers that were scribbled with tax payments, banking account information, and the rest goes on, bored just by the sight of them. A lot of the times, he wondered why on earth he even considered listening to his parents’ demand of wanting their youngest son to pursue a career in banking and finances. Well, not just him per say. They had wanted all four of their children to become the world’s greatest accountants and financial advisors out there.

(Yay! Whoopy!.....)

He rolls his eyes at the thought. Thanking the Gods that he had decided to make the decision to travel the globe and leave his darling (toxic) family behind. Though sometimes (okay….a lot of the times) he did feel lonely when he travels by his lonesome, it wasn’t like there was really anything going for him had he decided to reside back in his home town of Chicago.

But then again, there did seem to be a plus side to everything.

Had he decided to stay in Chicago while pursuing his career there, who knows where he could’ve ended up? He wouldn’t have had the opportunity to live in the classic places such as Munich, Rome, Paris, Hong Kong, Tokyo, and the list goes on. He definitely would not have had the opportunity to reside in Vancouver, only to wind up living at an affordable price with a certain, gorgeous Polynesian Curly haired klutz.

As the saying says, ‘things happen for a reason’.

And it seemed as if that walk to Calmlake on that beautiful Saturday morning was proof of that saying.

He had dropped Moana off to work, arriving at exactly 7:45am sharp. Thankfully, the traffic hadn’t been bad. Fifteen minutes to spare had given her just enough time to have punched in, organized everything she needed, and would start typing at her computer once the big hand on that clock reached 8:00am. But Maui had remembered everything that had taken place that morning.

It seemed as if that kiss (Yes! KISS!) that they had unexpectedly shared with one another had opened to a whole new level within their newly found relationship.

(Or….was it a friendship?)

It was a little difficult for Maui to decipher what exactly the title to their relationship entailed. Were they friends? Or would they potentially become more than that? He didn’t seem to know. Well, if you think about it, did friends exchange plentiful kisses that morning in the kitchen? Did friends usually swap spit almost every chance they got whenever they were stopped at a stop light? Did friends even spend at least five minutes (okay, so she had ended up receiving only ten minutes of time to get herself prepared earlier on) exchange warm, soft kisses with one another while they were pulled up at a curb?

All these questions littered amongst Maui’s skull. And truth be told, he absolutely could not find a single answer to any of them.

Absolutely nothing.

None. Nada.

But if Maui was being completely honest with himself, he would be lying if he said that he hadn’t not enjoyed their cute little exchanges. Everything playing out in his mind so vividly. He had found her in the kitchen earlier, preparing their mugs of tea and coffee. They greeted each other with a warm “good morning”. And it had happened so quickly before Maui had a chance to blink, that she was in front of him, standing on her tip toes, reaching upward to cup his wide face between her small hands, where she had planted a fiery kiss amongst his lips. And of course, Maui being Maui (Maui ‘fucking’ Deeming), had no objections. He had kissed her back, his mouth moving with hers just eager as she was.

Two minutes of that. And then ten minutes later, he noted how she had been leaning towards him as they sat together at the counter, places a soft kiss amongst his cheek, only to brush against the corners of his lips until his own mouth had found hers once again. That one had lasted much longer than he (they) had anticipated.

Maui couldn’t seem to shake the images from his head. He experienced it all.

A quick kiss as they were stepping out the door. Another kissing exchange before they had even pulled out of the driveway. Followed by not one, but three sessions of spit swapping after having stopped at three intersections. On the highway they had settled for just holding hands, fingers laced together like puzzle pieces. Neither of them seemed to have shown any interest in unlocking their grasp from one another’s any time soon. The last had been when they had pulled up at the curb beside her work. Their lips meshing together with so much passion, with so much hunger, it nearly took all of Maui’s willpower to notice that the dashboard had read 7:49am. And with one last longing look at one another, it was Moana who had granted one last kiss to his cheek before she bolted out of the car disappeared behind those revolving glass doors.

It was all absurd, Maui had thought.

But absurd in a good way.

(If there was ever such a thing….)

But then again, what had happened this morning, plus what had happened on the Saturday morning wasn’t entirely only the first or the last time they had exchanged more kisses. Maui couldn’t help but replay the events that had taken place upon their arrival from their walk that Saturday morning. They had spent a great deal of time sharing more kisses with each other. On the couch. In the kitchen. When they bid each other goodnight. And then yesterday, the same thing. More sessions of necking took place. The laundry room. While they washed dishes. And again, when they went their separate ways for bed. Though they had also made sure to incorporate a great deal of communication and interesting conversations.

But it was doubt that their attraction for each other was still a secret.

The numerous kissing sessions that they shared over the span of three days had been the confirmation that they needed.

Maui had lost count of how many times they actually had kissed those says. And frankly, with the amount of kisses that they shared, it was almost impossible for him to have kept count. Especially when he had enjoyed every minute of it.

“Hey Maui.”

The sound of Nani’s voice drew him from his thoughts. Shaking his head, he looked up to find her standing in the doorway with folders tucked away in the crook of her arm.

“Hey Nani.” He gives her a smile. “What’s up?”

“Ah, nothing much.” She smiles, then chances a quick look at her arms that were slightly full. “Just about to take these files to photocopier room.”

He looks at her arms. “Ah, I see.” He smirks. “Well, you better get crackin’ on those.”

“Ugh!” She rolls her eyes and grins. “I know, don’t remind me!”

A low chuckle from him. “Don’t worry, you’ll get through it.”

“I can only hope.”

“Well,” He looks down at the papers in his hands. “That makes two of us.”

She chuckles. “I’ll bet.” Then she studies him before she asks, “So, how’ve you been so far?”

“Ah, I’ve been alright.” He shrugs. “Can’t really complain.”

“Well that’s good to hear.” She nods. “Anything new?”

“Nah, not really. Just the same old routine.” He’s still shuffling through the piles of papers he’s holding. “Work. Home. Eat. Sleep. Sleep. Home. Eat. Work.” Another shrug. “Not much really has changed.”

“I see.” She tilts her head. “How are things going at home by the way?”

He lifts a brow. “At home?”

“Yea. Y’know…..at home.”

“….Okay....”

“…So…how are things going at home?”

He blinked. “Home is….home. Simple.”

She lifts a brow. “That’s it?”

“Yea….”

She leans against the doorway, crossing a leg over the other. “So….nothing really new then?”

“Uh…no?”

“Huh.” And then her hand finds purchase on her hip. “So, what about things with Moana then?” Her lips forming into a smirk. “Nothing really new about that?”

(Ah! Now that was it!)

“How are things with that going?”

He blinked again. “…With what?”

“…With Moana….” And then a chuckle. “How’s she been? I haven’t seen her since she and Lilo graduated from high school together.”

(Of course! Of all things to ask about, she would ask about that!)

Why the hell are women so damn nosey?!

But Maui would be lying right now if she said that just hearing the sound of her name didn’t leave such a gorgeous sounding melody ringing in his ears. Or hadn’t have provoked the belly flips fluttering about in his stomach.

“...So….”

He had completely forgotten that Nani was still present. “Sorry, what?”

“So how is she?”

“Who?”

“Uh….Moana!” She chuckles and rolls her eyes. “That’s who!”

“Oh….” He looked a little dumfounded. “Uh….she’s um…” He scratches the back of his neck with a small chuckle. “She’s been good.”

Nani gives him a knowing look. “Really?” And then another smirk. “Just…good?”

Yes! He wanted to say. But Maui knew that even the way how she was standing, the look on her face and even the sound portrayed in her tone, told him that even she wasn’t all that convinced that things between him and Moana were just….good. Heck! Even he knew that things between him and Moana were not just ‘good’.

It was more than….good. That he would admit.

(Damn it! She’s got me pegged again!)

He stares at her. “Well,” He scratches the back of his neck. “Actually, she’s been….great.”

“Yea?”

A small smile from him. “Yea.” And he feels confident with his answer. “Yea, really great.”

“Ah, well that’s great to hear.” She gives him an encouraging smile. “So, you guys have been getting along with each other really well then?”

Then the thought of the kissing comes back to play.

If only you knew. “Yup.” If getting to make out with your friend is considered ‘getting along’? Then hell yes! “Yea, we have been.”

Nani smiles. “That’s great to hear, Maui.” A nod. “I’m glad to hear that things between you guys are going well.” She smiles. “Looks like my advice came in handy.”

He lifts a brow. “Your advice?”

“Yup.” A smirk. “The one where I was the one that told you to ‘get to know her’?”

“Oh….right….” Of course. How could he have forgotten that? Then he studies her. “I’m guessing that this is the part where you say ‘I told you so’”. And then a smirk. “Right?”

She chuckles. “Ah, you already said it for me.” And then an innocent shrug of her shoulders. “So…I’m good.”

A snort. “I thought so.”

She laughs at this. “But seriously though, I’m glad to hear that things between you guys are going well.”

“Yea, I am too.”

She smiles. “Sounds like you two are starting to feel comfortable around with each other.”

Maui ponders about this for a bit, and then nods. “Yea, we are, actually.” And then he can’t stop the smile that spreads his features. His eyes then meet Nani’s. “Thanks for convincing me to um….to taking that next step.”

A smile from her as she nods. “You’re welcome.” Then she chances a look down at the papers in her arms. “Well, I better go get these to the photocopier.” A nod to him. “See you, Maui.”

As she leaves, Maui couldn’t seem to erase the smile that felt warm amongst his cheek bones. And for once in his life, for some reason, he couldn’t remember the last time he had felt his heart beat with so much excitement.

And as crazy as it sounds to think that it was still only 10:30am, for some reason, he couldn’t wait for the clock to hit 4:30. He couldn’t wait to get home to see Moana again.


 

Granted, his wish had been answered. The minute that clock hit 4:30pm, Maui couldn’t seem to remember the time where he had practically ran out of work so quickly. He had arrived at Moana’s workplace in the span of five minutes, sent her a quick text to let her know that he was here, and it seemed as if his message barely had enough to time to go through until she literally came barging through the doors and plopped herself into his car. A big smile on her face that she couldn’t seem to wipe off, which told him that she was just as eager to be with him as he was with her. And then of course and just as he had hoped, she greeted him with a kiss.

They held hands for the entire ride home. Just like this morning, neither of them seemed to be in a rush to part ways. They talked though. They talked a lot for the duration of the ride. Laughing at one another’s jokes. Laughing together. Some flirtatious phrases sent back and forth every now and then. Their attraction for one another increasing, growing fonder of each other with each minute that passed.

So to say, the ride home was a treat.

And it was an even bigger treat to have received another kiss the minute they pulled in the driveway. And it went from an ever bigger to a sweeter treat when the kiss had lasted for about four minutes. But after all, it wasn’t like Maui could find a single complaint. Absolutely not. In fact, what the hell kind of man would he be to deny the affections that this beautiful, spit fire of a young woman was willing to share with him?

He would’ve been incredibly stupid to have done such a thing.

So, why not claim it when it was given him to right there on a silver platter?

So to say, granted. His wish had been answered.

Yes. His wish had been answered. Triple times the amount that he had been expecting. But it wasn’t the thought of that that seemed to be troubling him. When he’s climbing the stairs and heads to his room later that evening, it’s the scene in his line of vision that troubles him.

“…Moana?” Her head instantly snaps up in his direction. Blinking rapidly, eyes suddenly looking wild around the edges. Hair thrown up in a messy bun. She tilted her head gently.

“Y-yea?”

“Uh….what are you doing?”

The young woman chanced a quick look at the two objects clutched in her hands. A dingy duster that even proved that it was well passed its expiry date and a bottle of orange flavored pledge that had a rather distinct smell to one’s nose. She was standing crouched over his bedside dresser, eyes wide, feeling as though she was in the middle of a crime scene and she had been caught red handed.

“Oh….I um….I needed to clean.”

“…Clean? …Now?” He raises an eyebrow. “At this time of the night?”

“Yea!” She nods. “It’s only 7:30!”

He flicks his wrist to check his watch. “It’s….9:30, actually…”

“Oh….is it that late?”

“Uh…yea…”

Then she blinks, brow furrowing as if she had been a child deprived of sweets before bed time. “I-I’m sorry….I didn’t know…”

He studies her, then presses his lips into a thin line. Unsure of how he was supposed to have proceeded with all of this. At this point, the last thing he needed was to have to convince her that cleaning at this time of the night seemed absolutely ridiculous. Especially since for some reason had found herself cleaning up his room that is.

“Don’t worry!” She sprays some more pledge on her duster and wipes it against his dresser. “I’m almost done!”

He sighs. “Moana, it’s late.”

“I’ll be quick! I promise!”

“Really, you don’t need to-“

“I have to get this done, Maui!”

“Why? Why now?”

She’s too busy dusting. Dusting so vigorously that little snowflakes of dust begins to arise. Ignoring his question. She was on a mission. She needed to get this done.

“Moana,” He sets his briefcase down and frowns. “Why-“

“Maui I just need to get this done! Okay?!”

He takes a tiny step toward her, slightly taken aback at the fact that she snapped at him. “Moana, why do you need-“

“Ugh! Because….because I just do!”

She throws her hands up. The pledge and the duster fly out of the palms of her hands, flying in the air and grateful to have been released after having been captured and worked to the bone. Landing on the carpeted floor with a soft plop, leaving a stunned Maui with creased brows to stand watching her. Her breathing became rapid, eyes bloodshot and her body was shaking, she was seething.

“Moana,” He swallows, lifting his hands up. “Just….calm down-“

“How do you expect me to remain calm Maui?!” She spat through grit teeth. “I can’t just calm down! Okay?! I just can’t!”

“Moana-“

“Do you not understand?! I have to finish cleaning! I just have to!”

“Moana, listen-“

“Ugh! I can’t calm down!” Her voice is raised well over two octaves from its original tonic key. “I can’t!” Then her fingers claw their way into her scalp, tempted to rip the strands of hair from her head. “I just can’t!”

“Moana!” He takes a large step forward, and grasps her shoulders in his large hands. “Relax.”

She looks at him, helpless. “But I-“

“Shh, shh.” He shushes her softly, then places finger to her mouth to silence her. “Relax.”

And surprisingly, she complies. Slowly but surely. The rage in her eyes beginning to slip out of her, she took a couple of much needed deep breaths, before her breathing eventually came back down to normal. And whatever anxiety she was feeling was gradually beginning to exit the contents of her body slowly but surely. It was the look in Maui’s eyes that was allowing her to find the inner peace that she desperately needed. So comforting, so reassuring, and so honest.

She looks at him, blinking. “I-I’m…..I’m sorry….” Her bottom lip quivers. “I didn’t-“

“Don’t be sorry.”

“But…I wasn’t thinking and-“

“It’s okay, Moana.” His thumb goes to stroke her cheek. “You did nothing wrong.”

She bites her lower lip. His gaze boring into hers with so much intensity that she suddenly couldn’t stand the thought of him looking at her. Not like this. Especially when she didn’t seem to be in her right state of mind.

He frowns, not buying a single word that came out of her mouth. “Moana, if there’s something that’s bothering you,” He leans in close, so close. “You know you can tell me anything, right?”

Her body tenses up in his grasp. And she takes a deep breath. “There’s nothing wrong, Maui.”

He lifts a brow. “Are you sure?”

“Yes.” A small smile. “Positive.”

(Liar)

“Forget the cleaning for tonight.”

“But-“

“No buts.” He says. “You’ve had a long day. You need to give yourself some rest.”

“But Maui, if….if I don’t finish-“

“You can finish cleaning tomorrow, Moana.” His tone is stern, but gentle. “It won’t be the end of the world.”

And something about his words seemed comforting. She looks helplessly into his eyes. He always seemed to know the right word to say at the right moment. She knew he was right. Her body was crying out to her that she needed sleep. Preferably between six to eight hours. And if she had that opportunity, maybe even more than eight.

“You should go get some sleep.” He strokes her cheek, his hot breath warm and tickling her skin. “You’ve been on your feet all day. You need rest.”

For some reason, Maui himself wasn’t even sure what had come over him. Here he was, telling a grown woman to go to her bed. And suddenly, he felt like the parent. The one that was always telling their kid to go to bed when it was necessary. And if Maui knew himself well enough, he was never one to really give a damn about other people’s feelings, or show any signs of concern when needed. But with Moana, things were different. So different. And he suddenly had to wonder maybe he had not have shared the amount of kisses that he did with her, would he be standing here and basically ordering her to go to her bed?

Maybe it was the fact that he had kissed her that he suddenly felt like he was entitled to being her protector? Or maybe he was entitled to her in every way possible? (Hand, mind, lips, and possibly…body…)

She sighs, a pleasure sigh as she feels his lips pressing amongst her forehead. And then his lips find hers and they exchange a soft kiss. Her hands find purchase on his chest. Her eyes searching his, feeling somewhat desperate for more of this delicious friction. Then without a second thought, he places another kiss on her lips.

“Go get some sleep.” He whispers. “Okay?”

And she finds herself hesitating at first, swallowing as she reluctantly nods. “O-okay.”

And after they bid each other a silent good night and Maui is watching as she retreats to her room, the more he’s beginning to believe that the feeling in his gut had been right all along. That something was definitely wrong with her.


 

“Hey, Nani?”

The woman looked up from the fine print that her eyes had ben glued to. Pen still in hand as she paused from her writing. She cocked her head gently.

“Yea?”

He takes a deep breath, his head poked in the door to her office. “You got a second?”

“Sure!” She puts her pen down and removes the glasses from her face. “Come on in.”

He makes sure to chance a quick look over his shoulder, relieved to find that the hallway remained clear and that there was no one else present. And when he finally enters into her office, for some strange reason, he isn’t able to prevent the moisture from erupting in the palms of his hands. His heart beat gradually beginning to race in his chest.

“What’s up?”

He scratches the back of his neck. “Uh...I um….I need to ask you about something.”

She furrows a brow and crosses her leg over the other. “Is everything okay?”

“Um…well….” He shoves his hands into his pockets, and takes a deep breath. “Not really.”

“What’s going on?”

It’s an odd thing, coming to the woman whom he once had a crush on for advice. But he decided that if anyone would know the right words to say, it was Nani. After all, she was a woman. And who else would understand a woman than well….a woman?

Maui hesitates. “It’s….” A deep breath. “….It’s about….Moana, actually.”

Nani’s brows raise in concern. “Is she okay?”

“Well, that’s the thing.” He swallows. “…I don’t know.”

“What do you mean by that exactly?”

He sighs. “Well….” He hesitates again. “I don’t….know exactly.” Nani’s brows crease with worry and confusion. “…I think she may be hiding something.”

She blinks, and then lifts a brow. “Well, why would you think that?”

Because of the fact that she was coughing up blood like a rapid dog and the fact that she’s fainted in front of me more than once! He wanted to say. Gods, he so desperately wanted to say that. To just get if off his chest and be done with everything.

“Well,” He says instead and then makes a face. “A couple nights ago….” He hesitates. “….I um….I found her in the kitchen…”

Nani immediately straightens up in her seat. Nodding as he continues.

“I um….I kinda found her in a…..” He takes a deep breath. “….A bad condition….”

“Okay….” She nods. “So….how bad was the condition exactly?”

Another deep breath. “….She was…coughing…”

“….Just coughing? Well, Maui that’s not exactly-“

“Blood.”

“…What?”

“Blood.” He mumbles. “She was coughing up blood, Nani.”

“Oh….”

He lifts his shoulders. “Yea…” Another deep breath. “…And then a few days ago, we went on a walk…” He closes his eyes as he speaks. “…And then, I don’t know how it happened but….she fainted.”

Nani clasps her hands together, nodding and listening.

“I just…I don’t know….” He opens his eyes and sighs. “I mean, her fainting in front of me, it’s not the first time she’s done that.”

“Oh?”

“Yea. She’s uh…..she’s fainted in front of me a couple of times.”

She nods. “I see.”

He sighs again. “I don’t know….lately I’ve been just…getting kinda worried about her and stuff so…”

“Have you talked to her about it?”

“I’ve tried that already.” He frowns at this. “I keep asking her if she’s okay and if there’s anything wrong.” A pause. “And…she keeps telling me that’s fine but….”

“You don’t believe her.”

He hated to admit the fact that she was right. The words spoken out loud confirming his thoughts as hesitates and nods numbly.

“I mean….I don’t want to force her to tell me or anything, but…”

Nani nods, understanding. “I get it.” Then she sighs.

He nods again.

“Well, Maui,” Another sigh. “All I can really say to you, is to just…give her some time.”

He doesn’t like the sound of that. Giving a small roll of his eyes in the process and hefting another loud sigh.

“I mean, I don’t know.” Nani shrugs her shoulders. “She probably might be going through something that maybe, she just might not feel comfortable telling you just yet.”

He furrows his brow. Raked a hand through his mane of curls.
“It’s probably just a matter of time.”

“But I don’t get it.” He begins pacing slowly, hands shoved in his pockets. “Things were going great between us. Things are great between us.” He pauses, frowns, and then paces again. “I don’t get how she wouldn’t feel comfortable around me.”

“Well, like I said, Maui,” She watches him, giving him a sympathetic look. “Maybe she just needs time. I mean, really and truly, you both just started getting along like…what? Three days ago?”

A snort. And then another roll of his eyes.

“Just give her some space. Maybe she might just need some time to think a bit more. That’s all.”

“So what am I supposed to do in the meantime then?” He stops, shakes his head. “Just look the other way and let her keep fainting and coughing up blood in front of me? I don’t think I can back off any longer, Nani.”

“But Maui, you don’t want to keep pushing her either.”

(Aha! There it was! The voice of reasoning! Again!)

“Believe me when I say this, but, Moana can be a very private person.” She says. “I mean, when she’s going through things, she’s not really one to drag people into her problems.”

“Well then, do you know what’s going on with her?” He grimaces. “Because, it seems as if she’ll tell everyone else but me.”

Nani sighs. “Maui, look, I know you’re worried, I get it.” He huffs and goes back to pacing. “But, believe me when I say that people like Moana, maybe they just don't want to explain the situation that they might be going through.”

(Were women always this complicated to deal with? For Christ’s Sakes!)

“And to answer your question, I haven’t seen Moana since the time when her and Lilo graduated from high school together. So, no. I don’t know, so I can’t tell you what’s going on with her.”

(Yes. Yes they were.)

“As friendly and loving as she was, I mean, everything that she’s had to go through with her parents and-“

He stops. “Her parents?”

She nods. “Yea….didn’t she tell you?”

He scratches the back of his neck. “Well, sure.” Then he scrunches up his nose. “I mean, yea, she was pretty broken up about it when she told me. Y’know, about her parents moving back to Hawaii and everything-“

“Moving back to Hawaii?” And the look of her face tells him otherwise. “…That’s what she told you?”

“Well….yea…” He furrows his brow. “Why? Isn’t that true?”

But it’s too late. He sees the way how she reacted. She winced slightly, eye twitching a bit as she blinked rapidly. The way how her jaw was hanging open in shock, and then she quickly presses her lips into a thin line and completely disregards whatever words were just mere inches from slipping off her tongue.

“….Isn’t that what happened?”

She immediately tears her gaze away from his and is back to picking up her pen and scribbling down any more data she could come up with.

“Nani?”

She slowly raises her gaze to meet his. She swallows.

“Do you know something I don’t?”

He couldn’t decipher if it was nod or a shake of the head she gave him. Her lips sealed shut and she looked almost nervous to say any more than she had intended to.

“Nani,” He furrows his brow. “If you know something, then you should tell me. Please.”

Her mouth opens and closes a few times. But she was silent. Not another word dared to make its way out of her mouth. For his sake, it was probably better if her mouth just stayed shut. Throw away the key, somewhere far, far away where no one else could find it. After all, he did seem to be putting himself in somewhat of an unpleasant situation. And for a woman who had the smarts like Nani, she knew that.

“Nani-“

“It’s….” She hesitates. “It’s not really my place to say anything, Maui.”

A frown. “What do you mean?”

She takes a deep breath. “Like I said before,” And completely disregards his question. “Just give her some time.” She looks at him. “Once she feels ready enough to tell you, then she will. Trust me.”

There’s something about her answer that seems a bit off. And judging by the way how her body language all of sudden was screaming ‘do not enter!’ was telling him that she was hiding something. If Maui was being honest with himself, his gut was telling him that Nani knew a lot more than she said she did. And just like Moana, it didn’t seem like Nani was going to fess up any time soon. She said what she had needed to say. And that was it.

And once again, he was on his own. The lone wolf left with no answers whatsoever.

He chews his lip, before he hefts a sigh. “Alright.” Because there’s really no point in pushing any further than he had done before.

She nods. “Good.”

He’s hesitating for a second, rakes a hand through his hair again. “Alright, well….” He pauses. “….Thanks.”

A small smile from her. “No problem.”

And he turns to leave without another word.

-------------------------------------------

“Punzie!” Moana is literally banging on the door to Rapunzel’s office. Her eyes wild and her locks were slightly tangled and all over the place. Usually she’d be one to freak out over if her appearance had somehow turned in to be a tornado. But at this point, she didn’t seem to give a damn. Her appearance was not the one making her about to shit her pants any time soon.

The blonde looked up from her desk. Her own eyes were wild around the edges as well. Even her golden hair that was always combed neat, silky and straight also had its own strands poking up in different directions. Almost as if Gothel had set off of a nuclear bomb on Rapunzel’s head. She instantly rushes to the door and lets her in.

“Thank God!” Moana exclaims as she literally tumbles in. “I need to talk to you!”

“Good! Cause I need to talk to you too!”

“Yea, okay, listen!” Moana is quick to dismiss her with a wave of a hand. “Maui is-“

“Can you believe the nerve of that woman?!”

“Wait, who?”

“Gothel! That’s who! Ugh!” The blonde nearly shrieks as she throws up her hands. “I cannot believe me that she is making me rewrite my entire article on the hair dyes!”

“Oh! Right, that.” Moana suddenly remembered that her article was mere seconds from needing to be submitted. “Ugh, I know, but that’s not what-“

“Do you know how many hours I spent writing that stupid thing?!” Rapunzel is seething. Face transitioning from a beautiful pale to a raging red. “And she has the nerve to tell me that my writing was not good enough for this?! Ugh! I absolutely cannot stand that….that….stupid bitch!”

“Yea yea, okay, I know, we hate her,” She groans and pinches the bridge of her nose. “But that’s not-“

“And she expects me to finish writing this damn article by Friday!” Rapunzel’s hands grasp onto the strands of hair from her scalp. “Friday, Mo! Friday!

“Okay, Punzie, that’s-“

“I have two other articles that need to be finished by Friday!” Her voice is raised three octaves higher than its usual key. “Two! And you wanna know what she said to me?! She just laughed and-!”

“Rapunzel will you just be quiet!” Moana throws her hands up, nearly shouting. “Just…..just stop talking!” She’s seething. “Just...stop talking for one second!”

The way how Rapunzel flinched as the words left her mouth with furrowed brows, even Moana had realized the error in that sentence. Her mouth snapped shut, breathing deeply in an attempt at stanching at least some of the frustration. She lets out a breathy sigh, squeezes her eyes shut and goes to pinch the bridge of her nose.

“Punzie….I-I’m sorry-“

“Jeez, Mo.” The blonde frowns, crossing her arms over her chest. “If you wanted me to stop talking, you could’ve just asked nicely.

A heavy sigh. “I….I know, I’m sorry, I just-“

“What’s wrong with you?

Moana blinks, swallows and rakes a hand through her hair. “Look, I…” She takes a deep breath, and then says, “It’s….Maui…”

Rapunzel lifts a brow. “You guys are fighting again? I thought that things between you guys were-“

“No, no. I mean….things are fine between us.” She bites her lip. “It’s not that….it’s just….”

“Then what it is?”

“I….I think he….suspects something….”

The blonde furrows her brow. “What do you mean?”

Another sigh. “I mean…..” A deep breath. “….I just think he’s becoming suspicious….”

“About what?”

“About my illness!” She raises her voice, takes a sharp look over her shoulder, and then hisses, “That’s what!

Rapunzel blinks at this. “You mean, you still haven’t told him yet?”

“Ugh! No! I haven’t!”

“Well, why?”

Because, I can’t!

“Well, Mo, I don’t think-“

“He cannot find out that I’m sick, Punzie!” The whine was out before she could stop it. “He just….he just can’t! Okay?! He can’t!”

“Mo, just calm down!”

To her surprise, she does. She takes a deep breath, mentally counting to ten. Then to fifteen. Her fingers go to massage her temples as she slowly begins to pace about the office. Rapunzel keeps her gaze trained on her friend, her brows are creased with confusion and worry. Silence looming amongst them like the deadly plague.

“Look, Mo, what’s the big deal if Maui were to find out?”

She heaves a shaky sigh. “…Because, I just….” Another deep breath. “….This is personal, Punzie. And….I’m…..I’m just scared…and…”

“Mo,” Rapunzel gently places a hand on her friend’s shoulder to block her from pacing any further. “Why are you scared?”

She swallows. “…Because, I….me and Maui….it’s just that things between us are going so great…” She pauses. “…And I’m scared that….” Then she sighs and turns away. “…That he wouldn’t understand…”

“Why would you think that he wouldn’t understand?”

“Because he won’t!” She sighs and pinches the bridge of her nose. The topic was too embarrassing to even talk about. “I know he won’t!”

“But you don’t know that.”

“And you don’t know that he won’t!” She turns to face the only friend she cared about. “Punzie, he won’t understand! They never understand! Okay? They just don’t!”

Rapunzel was still for a moment, swallowing down whatever grief she had in the presence of her best friend who clearly needed her help. “Mo-“

“He won’t understand if told him, Punzie. I….I just know that he won’t.”

“Mo, when you say….they….” She pauses, then takes a deep breath and says, “….do you mean….K-Kristoff?”

And the way how her body immediately stiffens at the mention of his name is all the confirmation that Rapunzel needed. Moana’s back was turned to her friend, unable to face her. Refusing to face her. Just hearing his name left that same miserable melody reverberating in her eardrums. His name that had caused her throat to tighten. And it was his name that nearly made the tears begin to pool in her eyes. But she did not dare let one escape.

She wouldn’t cry over her no good ex-boyfriend. She couldn’t. She wouldn’t.

“Mo, Kristoff wasn’t-“

“I don’t want to talk about him.” Moana manages to push past the lump in her throat. “He’s…he’s no longer in my life anymore. And…I’m glad that he isn’t.”

Rapunzel presses her lips into a thin line. “He hurt, Mo.” And she realizes the error in her words. “He wasn’t good enough for you.”

I wasn’t good enough for him.

“That’s not true.”

“I wasn’t good enough for him, Punzie.”

“Mo-“

“It was my illness that drove him away.” Her voice breaks at this as she slowly turns back to face her friend with glossy eyes. “…That’s why he left.”

“No, Moana, it wasn’t your illness that drove him away.” Rapunzel’s tone is stern, but gentle. “He chose to leave. He wasn’t man enough to understand.”

Moana is quiet, refusing to speak. Bottom lip quivering at this.

“It takes a real man to accept you for who you are and to love you no matter what.” She says. “Kristoff was not that man for you.”

You’re so much better than that.

You deserve better. He’s not the one for you.

Part of her wants to argue that sentence. Truth be told, she had grown so used to hearing words and phrases like that that it no longer fazed her anymore. However, the other part of her wanted to consider her friend’s words. After all, Rapunzel was right. Any single one of her family members would’ve hopped ship on Rapunzel’s any time soon. And she tried so hard not to let the tears fall any time soon. The memory of that familiar blonde haired young man with that irresistible smile left her beginning to feel nostalgic.

The very last thing she wanted was to be reminded of her ex-boyfriend. The same young man who had left her for another woman the minute he had discovered her illness. And truth be told, Moana didn’t want to have to recall those unpleasant memories she had spent crying, wondering why every person she’s ever loved always had the tendency to leave her without a single warning.

“Mo?”

She looks up. Her vision becoming slightly blurry.

Rapunzel bites her lower lip. “You think that Maui will do the same thing.” She says softly. “That’s why you’re afraid that he’ll find out.”

That was exactly it.

She was afraid. And truth be told, Moana didn’t want to relive that fear again.

“Mo,” Moana’s breath hitches in her throat as Rapunzel takes a step closer towards her. “Maui is not Kristoff.”

She swallows. “What makes you think he’s….any different?”

“What makes you think he’s not?

(She had a point)

It wasn’t fair for her to underestimate Maui’s loyalty. After all, they were still just getting to know each other. Maybe Rapunzel was right. Maybe he was different.

He wasn’t a Kristoff, that’s for sure. At least he didn’t seem like he was a Kristoff.

(Was he?)

“Maybe….you should just tell him, Mo.”

She shakes her head. “No-“ She gulps, tears starting to roll down her chin. “I can’t. I-“

She’s cut off as Rapunzel throws her arms around her friend and pulls her into a tight hug. And Moana can’t help but to return the embrace back. Immediately feeling all of the puzzle pieces begin to reassemble themselves back together. She’s holding back the sob that wants to erupt.

“You can.” She whispers.

“B-but….what if he-“

“You’ll never know if you don’t give him a chance.”

A shaky sigh as she sniffs and buries her face into her best friend’s shoulder. “But…..” She mumbles against the pink, lacy fabric of her shirt. “But-“

“Everything will be okay, Mo.” She instantly begins to relax as Rapunzel’s soothing voice takes over. “I promise.”

And Moana hoped to the Gods that her best friend would be right.


 

‘Just tell him’ The sound of Rapunzel’s voice plays ring around the rosy in her head, like a deadly plague. ‘He’s not Kristoff’ There it was again. ‘You won’t know unless you give him a chance’ (Negative) ‘Just tell him, he’ll understand’.

“Hey, Moana?”

She jumped with a sharp gasp, startled at the feel of Maui’s large hand finding a place on her shoulder. She put a hand to her head, massaging her temple. Once again, unaware of just how much her thoughts had been consuming her.

He furrowed his brow. “Are you okay?”

She lets out a shaky sigh. “Y-yea….” Realizing her tight grip around the plate she had just dried as there was almost no pigment left in her knuckles. “W-why?”

“Nothing, it’s just…” He pauses, brows furrowing as his gaze didn’t leave hers. “You’ve been quiet all this time.”

She blinks. “O-oh….” She tucks a strand of hair behind her ear. “It’s nothing. I-I’m just….tired that’s all….”

“You seem to be tired a lot lately.”

Her head snaps up. “What?”

“You just seem more tired than usual.” He reaches for a paper towel to drive off his hands. “And, you also seem a bit…jumpy too.”

He knows. Fuck! He knows!

“I…I well….I just-“

“Are you sure you’re okay?”

Yes. She so desperately wanted to say. But something else had been nagging her. A soft, “No…”

He cocks a brow. “..No?”

(Say it!)

Her eyes are glossy. Her vision becoming blurry. “….No….”

His gaze rakes over her profile. “Then, what’s wrong?”

‘Just tell him’ There it is again. ‘He’ll understand’

(I can’t take this anymore! Just tell him!)

Moana wasn’t fully able to process what it was that was happening. Setting the plate aside, her gaze meets his. Her breathing becoming heavy, her bottom lip quivered. She refused to look away, even as her lips trembled and her shoulders started heaving with so much emotion bottled up inside, unwilling to back down. Her dark lashes brimmed heavy with the sudden tears that had somehow made their grand entrance; her hands clenched into shaking fists in a desperate battle against the grief.

Maui swallows, unsure of what to expect next. “Moana….”

A lone tear traced down her cheek, and just like that, the floodgates opened. Brick by brick, her walls instantly came tumbling down. She wept tears streaming down from her deep brown eyes, loud heaving sobs from her throat and she still did not look away. Not until the sobs eventually tried to drive her to her knees did her determined gaze fall. Before her knees could reach the ground, she felt as a pair of hands immediately gripped her shoulders and pulled her back upwards. Maui gathered her into his arms as she let out all the sorrow and grief she has kept hidden and bottled up in her system for God knows how long. She sobbed into his chest as he held her.

“Hey, hey, Moana,” He gently pulled her away to better inspect her tear stained face. He rubs his thumb against her cheek, stroking her tears away. “What’s wrong?”

She takes a couple of heavy breaths. “I….” Her voice shaky, raw. “…I’m sick….”

“What?”

Her voice is trembling as she says, “….I’m sick....”

He studies her. “Do you have a fever?” And he uses his hand to push the loose strands of hair behind her ear. “O-or a stomach ache? I can get you some tea or-“

“No!” She blurts through a choked sob. “No, Maui! That’s not it!”

He blinks once, and then another. “Then, what-“

“I’m sick, Maui!”

He swallows. “Moana, I-“ He pauses then shakes his head. “I don’t understand.”

Just tell him….

She chews on her quivering lip, staring helplessly into his eyes. Her heart beat thudding so violently against her chest, her entire body shaking with anticipation. Her breathing shaky and heavy. Another sob rips from her throat. And for what seemed like eternity, the last thing that she ever expected to come out of her mouth was,

“I’m….sick, Maui…”

“…Moana,”

She takes a breath, before she whispers, “…..I….I have breast cancer…”

Chapter Text

“…I have breast cancer….”

He didn’t know how to react. Nor did he think he should even react at all. It’s almost impossible for him to even find some sort of reaction. And right now, he couldn’t. The words I have a breast cancer that had flown out of her mouth rendered him speechless. Completely at a loss for words. He couldn’t exactly say anything. Or correction, he couldn’t seem to produce the right words to say.

What could he say really? ‘I’m sorry you have breast cancer’? Or ‘That’s too bad….’

For now, all he could do was just hold her.

Moana was sobbing into his chest unceasingly, hands clutching at his shirt. He held her in silence, swaying her slowly as her tears soaked his chest. A tiny lapse let her pull away, blinking lashes with heavy tears, before she collapsed again, her whimpers of misery worsening. The pain coming in waves, minutes of sobbing broken apart by short pauses for recovering breaths, before hurling her back into the outstretched arms of grief.

She was clutching onto him so tightly for fear that he would easily just slip right through the cracks of her fingers and leave. Disappear out of thin air without any advanced warning.

For a moment, they just stood there. Embracing each other with so much desperation, even Maui had to fight back the tears that burned his eyes. The fact that he was standing here, holding his roommate in his arms who was so vulnerable, it caused his own heart to ache just seeing how much emotional pain she has held inside of her for so long. All he could really do for the remainder of that moment was to press soft kisses to the crown of her head, and whisper to her that it was okay.

Even though it didn’t seem to be.

So after a while of allowing her the time she needed to calm down and take a few more deep breaths, they find themselves in the family room. Maui had decided to flick on the switch and allow the burning flames from the fireplace to arise. He goes back to the kitchen to turn on the kettle, thinking that a cup of tea would mend the emotional wounds. And when he comes back and hands her the mug along with a tissue he managed to pick up, she numbly takes the two objects from him, though she’s grateful for his warm gesture. He doesn’t hesitate to claim the spot on the couch next to her, and he tentatively wraps an arm around her shoulders, as she rests her head against his.

They sit like that for a while. Silent. Watching the flames flourish in their lines of vision. Not a single word was said.

After all, considering the fact that it was more than just ‘I’m sick with the flu’ and instead replaced with ‘I have breast cancer’, even Maui seemed to have a difficult time processing those words and allowing them to make a home in his system.

“…I…I’m sorry you….” Her voice breaks as she speaks. “….that you had to…find out this way….”

He looks down at her. “Don’t be sorry.” His thick fingers play notes on the tips of her shoulder. “It isn’t something you should feel sorry about.”

“No…” She shakes her head. “I should’ve….told you sooner…” Teeth sink into her lip. “I tried…”

“Moana-“

“I tried, Maui!” She lifts her head to stare at him through tear filled eyes. “I really did! I….I wanted to tell you...but…”

He stares at her. Gaze apologetic.

Her eyes shifted to the side, and became glazed with more glassy layers of tears. As she blinked, they dripped down her eyelids and slid down her cheeks. She bit her lip tightly in an attempt to hide any sound that wanted to escape from her mouth; his heart sank.

Her lower lip quivers as the words slowly make their way out of her mouth. “…B-but…” She began, yet what follows in engulfed in tremors. “…I j-just….I just couldn’t.”

“Moana, I’m not-“

“I have breast cancer, Maui.” Her gaze rakes over his. “I’m sick. Okay? I’m sick.”

He blinks, unsure of how to respond. Raking his fingers through his hair, he lets out a sigh, a heavy one. Another bout of silence pressing down on the both of them. Neither of them saying a word, and he gently unwound his arm from around her and folded his hands into one another on his lap. He’s the first to open his mouth to speak.

“Moana-“

“Maybe I…I shouldn’t have said anything.” She whispers, biting her lip as she scoots to the farther side of the couch. “I’m….sorry for…telling you.”

He stares at her. “Moana, you have nothing to be sorry about.” He watches as she dabs the tears away from her face. “I know that this is….difficult for you, but-“

“I should’ve just kept my mouth shut.”

“But, Moana-“

“I-it’s not…important anymore…”

He frowns. “What do you mean?”

“It’s really not….that big of a deal.” She shrugs, sniffling as she bites down on her lower lip to prevent the tears. “I mean, i-it’s not like….this is all new to me or anything….”

“Don’t say that.”

“Don’t say what?”

“That it’s not a big deal.”

“Well,” She shrugs again, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear, “it’s….not though…I mean, I-I have a habit of….making it seem like it’s….much worse than it…usually is…”

“That doesn’t matter, Moana. It is a big deal.” He shifts closer towards her, brows merging to a frown. “You shouldn’t just…shrug it off all of a sudden like it’s nothing serious.”

It came as a surprise to Maui’s ears when she forces what sounded like a small laugh through her teeth, though the tears still lingered on her face and spilled down her cheeks. “Well…to be honest Maui,” She uses her now soggy tissue to wipe the salty liquid from her eyes, “I kinda….got used to just shrugging it off.”

“What do you mean?”

“I mean that it’s not like….” She heaves a shaky breath, “this is the first time that I’m…discovering this.”

Right away, he knew. And now it’s his turn to let out another sigh. “Moana, how long have you had the cancer for?”

Another sniffle. “Since I was twenty-two.”

“So….you’re saying that…you’ve been sick for three years?”

“Yea.”

There’s a silence that presses down amongst them. Swallowing them whole without a single warning. Maui couldn’t seem to push away the sudden discomfort his body was beginning to feel. His gaze rakes over her small form. So vulnerable. So weak. So….hurt. He opens his mouth to speak.

“Moana-“

“Like I said before, Maui,” She’s quick to cut him off as she shakes her head, avoiding eye contact as she stares blankly at the orange and yellow flames dancing and hissing before her, “It’s not a big deal.”

“But-“

“If…I’m being completely honest here….” A pause, then a deep breath. “…I’ve been dealing with this for three years of my life.” She tells him, trying to sound stern. But it just sounded like the tone in her own voice was wavering in pitch, courtesy of the many emotions that were all beginning to resurface all at once. “I’ve…I’ve managed to work through it then, and I just have to…force myself to…work through it now.”

“That doesn’t mean that you should just shrug it off.”

She turns to look at him and whispers, “It’s the only way for me to keep surviving.”

“But it shouldn’t be.”
Her brows dent at his words. “There’s not much else I can do, Maui.” He swallows at her words. “I don’t have a lot of options.”

“Of course you do.”

“No, I don’t.”

“Moana, you have-“

“Maui, this is something I have to live with for the rest of my life! Okay?” Her lower lip trembles. “For the rest of my life!”

He swallows again. Unable to blink. His gaze holding onto hers, tight and unwavering. The words he wanted to say disappearing off the tip of his tongue, wiped from his brain and unfound. He was beginning to think that maybe it was good idea if he just kept his mouth shut and not say anything. Seems like the more he spoke, the more damage he caused.

She tears her gaze away from his, sniffling. “I won’t have much long to live.” Her words seeped with acid, and he grimaced at the thought. “And when I die….” A pause. “…then it won’t matter anymore.”

“You’re not going to die, Moana.”

“Not yet.” She looks at him. “But soon.”

Maui can’t help but frown at her choice of words. “Stop.”

“Stop what?”

“Talking like that.”

“What, stop saying that I’m going to die?” Her brows dent. “I am going to die from this, Maui. Eventually I am!”

“Moana, you’re not going to die.”

“Yes I am!”

“No, you’re not.”

“Yes, I am! And I will!”

“How can you be so sure then?”

“Because of what happened to my entire family! That’s why!”

She hadn’t meant to raise her voice, or to lash out at him. Because God knows he didn’t deserve it. Heck, even she knew that he didn’t deserve it. The way he flinched at the words that left her mouth, even she had seen the error in that sudden outburst. But it was the realization in her choice of words that made her recognize that she had said more than she allowed herself to. Because of what happened to my entire family! There it was, out it the open. And Moana knew deep down that she couldn’t take those words back. No matter how much she wanted to.

She had said more than she needed. Her mouth quickly snaps shut. Her face streaked with glossy tears as she stared into Maui’s gaze. Deep, confused and curious. Of course, just mentioning the tragedy of her family was the last thing she wanted to talk about. Her confessing her illness to Maui was already too much for her to handle. Much less, it was too much for even him to digest on his own.

Maui’s gaze never leaves hers. He swallows, allowing his brain to thoroughly compose the right words he wants to say.

“What about your family, Moana?”

He watches how she flinches at his words. His question rendering her speechless. Unable to dispose of any more words or excuses. She doesn’t say a word. She immediately rips her gaze from his and bows her head downward, allowing her curls to curtain around her face. Begging to be hidden from him.

You idiot!

He mentally scolded himself for having said the wrong thing yet again. He was thinking that maybe he did deserve that sudden outburst that unintentionally poured out of her merely seconds ago. After all, it was clear to him that dealing with people’s emotions was definitely not his area of expertise. Maybe it was a good thing that he had decided to throw away the possibility of becoming a therapist. And Maui was certain that had he brought the idea up to those around him, there would’ve been a 90% chance that he would’ve been laughed at.

And right now, being in the current situation was proof of that.

At this point, there wasn’t really much more he could say. No matter how much he wanted to be there for her. And seeing her body literally crumpling over only caused the aching in his heart to ebb. All he could do now really was just stare at her. The sounds of her sniffling, the sight of seeing her shoulders shaking gently with each tear that passed, instead of sitting there twiddling his thumbs and biting his lip in anticipation, all he could do really was to gather her small form up in his massive arms and hold her.

And so he does just that.

He obviously knew there was more to the story. There was definitely more that she was hiding from him. But he decides not to push her any further than she can handle.

For now, he just holds her. Letting her bury her face in his chest as she clings onto him desperately, sobbing, allowing all the hurt and sorrow she had been feeling to pour out of her so effortlessly. Her face is stained with tears, and Maui doesn’t hesitate to press a few kisses to the crown of her head, and whisper in her ear that everything would be okay.

“Everything’s gonna be okay….”

Everything’s gonna be okay….

Even though deep down, they knew that things were not okay.

And Maui could only wonder what tomorrow would hold.


 

Some say that specific cases of a “mental breakdown” occurs after the physical and emotional demands on a person’s life is so great, that it eventually prevents him or her from performing activities of daily living, or less strictly, or only when those demands prevent him/her from performing his or her familial or occupational duties.

However, others say that a breakdown can happen differently for every person that suffers one. Some will completely shut down and become an empty shell to the world, refusing to say one word, or so much as blink. While others can become a flailing wreck, hypersensitive to the slightest touch or sound. Not only that, but even the duration can be different for each person. For some, it can be over in minutes. While others could experience it for days, maybe even weeks, sometimes months.

Maui couldn’t fall asleep. He had spent most the three hours staring up at the ceiling with the darkness engulfed around him. He lay flat on his back, both arms stretched outwards with barely even a single blink or subtle flinch. The first couple of minutes he had retreated to his bed, all he could do was toss and turn. But after giving up on finding rest, he settled for just looking blankly up at the ceiling, his mind unable to push past the events that had occurred a few hours prior.

Maui was never one to experience a ‘mental breakdown’. Even if he had been carrying a massive load of stress on his shoulders, he was never usually one to show or tell people that he was stressed. He remembered that he would always put a smile on his face, even though deep down, he was aware that he would be drowning in his own pity.

But then again, the only kind of ‘stress’ that Maui had ever dealt with was the demands of his parents. Or the strict demands of his job. It wasn’t exactly something that was small and easy to brush off, nor was it something that was incredibly horrendous. Looking back now however at the age of thirty-three, Maui could agree that these experiences are definitely something that could easily be fixable. Or so he would convince himself.

‘I have breast cancer…..’

‘I don’t have much longer to live…..’

‘And when I die….it won’t matter anymore….’

Those words were like a melancholy tune echoing in his eardrums. Plaguing him like the deadly hollows. Of course, the last thing he needed was to discover that his roommate (possibly more than a friend?....girlfriend maybe?) was suffering from a physical illness. Not that he blamed her for all of this. This was simply something that for some reason, seemed to be out his control.

Sure, Maui had some relatives in his family that had suffered from diabetes, asthma, etc. But for as long as he lived, he would have to admit, that he has never ever in his life had to be around someone close to him who was suffering from cancer. Breast cancer more specifically.

He acted like such an idiot, or so he tried to convince himself. He had felt worthless, sitting there like a stump while his roommate was crying to him about how much this illness she’s been suffering from had been affecting her daily routine. Not to mention, how much it was affecting her life.

‘Everything’s going to be okay….’

(Liar!)

He heaves a heavy breath, roughly tosses the covers aside and climbs out of the bed. Somehow through the dark sheet looming above, his gaze manages to find the glowing red numbers on his digital clock sitting beside him on the end table.

3:40am.

He groans. That was just great. It wasn’t like he needed to wake up in two hours for another busy day of hustling. At this point, if he was going to sleep, then a glass of water would definitely do the trick. (At least he hoped it would).

So when his hand finds purchase on the knob, throws open the door and rounds the little corner towards the stairs, the last thing he expected to see was the small figure sitting at the top of the staircase. Her back towards him, elbows on her both her knees so her hands could support her heavy head and her dark locks shadowing around her face. Shoulders shaking, signalling that she had been sitting there crying for God knows how long.

Maui’s breath hitched in his throat as his eyes scanned over her form. “Moana?”

She doesn’t answer. And for some reason, just hearing her name on his lips had caused her to cry harder. Burying her face in her hands, not wanting him to see her.

He swallows. “Moana….what – what are you doing out here?” A sniffle. “Why aren’t you in bed?”

She hesitates, a small hiccup. “I….” She mumbles a whisper. “…I c-couldn’t…sleep…”

He takes a careful step closer towards her, his massive frame looming over her tiny one. He takes a deep breath, and gently squats down behind her, his hands softly found purchase on her small shoulders and he allows his thumbs to stroke the blades.

“Are you okay?” He whispers.

She shakes her head, though her crying seems to beginning to simmer down at the feel of his gentle touch. “….N-no…..”

He chews on his lower lip, unable to produce any more words. He folds his legs underneath his bottom so that he’s resting on his knee caps, hands still placed on her shoulders.

“Moana….what-“

He doesn’t expect what came next. It happened in such a blur when the last thing he had expected her to do was to twist her body around fully and just throw herself into his arms. He’s shocked at first as she wraps her tiny arms around his neck, buries her face in the crook of his neck and sobs into his shoulder. But then again, who the hell would be Maui if he were to deny her of the affection that she was desperately craving?

So he did what he could only do. Wrapping his own arms around her waist, one hand combing his fingers through her hair as he places a soft kiss against her ear. “Shh, it’s okay.” He coos.

Her voice was muffled against the massive layer of flesh. But he was able to make out just bits and pieces of the long sentence that strung out. “…..don’t…..want…..alone….now….”

And he immediately understood. Of course she didn’t want to be alone. (Idiot). Maui had to wonder how much of a narcissistic ass he could be in the span of eight hours. Of course he believed himself to be too much of letch to consider her feelings and what she needed.

“C-can I…stay w-with you?” She blurted through hiccups and tears.

His body immediately goes stiff. Breath hitches in his throat and his eyes open wider, adjusting to the darkness engulfed around them. Her words catching him off guard so suddenly that he had to blink twice for him to decipher if what he heard was valid. He gently peels her from his grasp so that his gaze is centered right on hers, holding her at arm’s length. Even in the dark he was able to catch a glimpse of her appearance. Three forty in the morning, hair completely disheveled, face flushed and tear stained, eyes huge and pleading. Even when she was a mess, she was still beautiful, but with desperation and vulnerability etched onto her features. He takes his hand and gently uses his thumb to rub away the tears.

“What did you say?” He asks, his tone was gentle, laced with confusion.

She takes a deep breath. Another sniffle as she blinks once, and then another. Refusing to unwind her arms from around him. She bites her lip.

“…can I….stay with you?” She whispers, gaze pleading.

So clearly he surely wasn’t just hearing weird things. He knew what he heard. He swallows, fearful of the question that’s about to tumble out of his mouth.

“…s-stay with me…” Brows furrowed. “….i-in my…my room?”

She chews on her lower lip, having calmed enough to at least sit still, though the trembling still stayed and gives small nod.

The answer he had for the question was nowhere in sight, nor was it something that ever came to mind. He blinked once, and then another. Aware of the curious gaze that heavily weighed on his form, patiently waiting for their answer.

“Uhh......” Truth be told, he was hoping that her intentions wouldn’t align with the rather erotic thoughts that were quick to make their appearance. “Moana….I…I don’t think that’s-“

“Please?”

“But…Moana…I…” A pause. “…I’m not sure if…that would be…appropriate-“

“W-what? N-no….I-I don’t mean….” She’s quick to cut him off, realizing what he might’ve been insinuating. “I don’t mean….like that, Maui.”

Maui couldn’t resist the urge to blow out a heavy sigh in relief. The tension in his body relaxing his muscles. Much to his relief, her answer was what he needed to hear to reassure him that his thoughts were indeed wrong. But at the same time, Maui would be lying if he said that her words didn’t leave him feeling slightly disappointed.

A shaky breath. “I just….” She pauses, her gaze searching his. “I….don’t want to be alone right now.”

He swallows.

“Please Maui….” Her tone soft, so soft, pleading with desperation that caused his insides to ache, and melt at the same time. “…Can I just stay with you?”

At this point, he doesn’t know what to say. All he could do was just look into her eyes, heave a heavy sigh and contemplate on what his next move entailed. It was a simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ question. Something that he easily could’ve responded to with the snap of two fingers. And a man like Maui, who was known to be a man of little patience and a man who was always usually quick with his answers, well, for some reason the ‘old Maui seemed to be long gone. And for some reason this ‘new’ Maui was a person whom he had yet to discover.

But what was he supposed to say?

Here he was, sitting in the dark on top of the staircase holding his gorgeous roommate in his arms who was currently battling a severe illness that was threatening her life, asking (begging) him to let her stay the night with him. In his room. His room.

Those big, beautiful coffee brown eyes pooling with tears staring into his, patiently waiting for answer. What was he supposed to say?

He doesn’t take his eyes off hers. And the last thing he did was swallow and open his mouth to speak.


 

“Feeling better?”

He asks gently as he hands her a glass of water. She takes a gulp and then places the glass on the end table next to her, shifting comfortably on the cozy mattress of his bed. In the darkness, the brown pearls blink.

“Yea.” She smiles up at him. “Thank you Maui.”

A small smile from him. “You’re welcome.”

She watches as he slowly rises from the foot of the bed, gaze glued to his massive silhouette moving about the room. Just as he reaches his side of the bed, she’s disappointed to see as he takes his pillow and places it gently on the ground.

“Maui?”

He lifts his head to follow the sound of where her voice is coming from.

“What are you doing?”

He cocks a brow. “I’m moving my stuff.”

“Why?”

He gives a small chuckle. “Why? I’m gonna sleep on the floor, that’s why.”

She blinks. “But….” A pause. “You don’t…have to do that.”

Another chuckle. “Then where else am I supposed to sleep?”

A deep breath. “You can….sleep in your bed…”

“But…you’re already sleeping in my bed.”

“…I know…”

Again, it didn’t take long for those previous thoughts to come swirling about in his brain. Right away, he knew where she was getting at.

“Uh….” He scratches the back of his neck and lets a loose chuckle slip through his teeth. “Moana, I uh…I get that you’re…trying to be kind and all…but-“

“I don’t mind.”

“Moana, I don’t want to give you-“

“Again Maui, I’m not insinuating that.” She sighs. “I don’t want you to have to sleep on the floor.” She studies his form. “You can sleep in your bed.”

He’s silent a long moment after that. Which to Maui, is odd and disconcerting. The offer was there. Flat out on the table just like that. No ifs, ands or buts. No objections. Because he is Maui Deeming, who the hell would he be really to turn down an offer as tempting as this one? But then again, because he was indeed Maui Deeming, as much as he’s had absolutely no problem scoring women in the past, the respect that he had for the opposite gender was a characteristic he just couldn’t seem to give up. And here he was, his beautiful roommate snuggled up in his bed, going as far as to actually offer him a place to sleep in his own bed.

With her.

The two of them in his bed together.

(Are you nuts dude?! Take the damn offer!)

But-

“Are….are you sure?”

He swallows as his ears perceive her words. “Yes.”

Maui sucks in a breath, holds it, and then releases it slowly. His heart beating rapidly inside of his chest as he places the pillow back on his side of the bed and gently lowers himself onto the bed. The mattress sinks a bit with the amount of weight he’s putting on it, and he’s grateful that the darkness concealing them is able to shield the bright crimson rushing to the surface of his cheeks. He can feels her gaze boring into his as she watches him settle into the mattress. And once he’s able to, he lets out an exhale, resting his head against his pillow, hands placed on his belly, fingers clasped together as he keeps his wide eyes trained on the ceiling looming above.

He doesn’t take his eyes off the ceiling, and he can hear her shift. The sheets tugging and pulling and sliding, and Maui could’ve sworn that he feels the moment the flesh of her small feet brushing softly against his knee cap. She’s laying on her side, facing him, and Maui has to do everything in his power not to give in and look into her eyes.

But he can’t.

So after a few moments, he blows out a deep breath and finds himself mirroring her actions, shifting on his side. Their gazes locked on one another’s. Her hand is resting between them and again, he has to resist the urge to just grab it and place delicate kisses on her soft skin. Seeing the look in her eyes, told him that he had her full permission to just relax. If he was being honest, there were no signs of discomfort hidden on her features. In fact, she looks anything but. Almost as if she was….dare he say it….happy.

“Thank you, Maui.” She whispers, breaking the silence. “..For letting me stay here, that is.”

He gulps. “You’re welcome.”

And the next thing Maui finds himself doing, is reaching his large hand towards her face and brushing a strand of a loose lock out of her face and pushing it behind her ear. His thumb caressed her cheek so sweetly that he enjoyed hearing the soft moan that spilled from her lips as she melted into his warm touch. He doesn’t make any effort to pull his hand away, watching as she places her hand over his and gently guides it closer to her mouth and places sweet kisses over his knuckles. The way her lips felt amongst his flesh increased the shivers to erupt in his body. Once she was finished and his hand was still in hers, he uses his thumb to trace the edges of her lips. Stroking and caressing.

Moana would be lying to herself if she said that his touch wasn’t causing her to melt into him like ice cream on a warm porcelain bowl.

And it was the look that he was giving her. Staring into her soul. Almost like he knew her fears. Like he knew everything that her life consisted of. Like he knew her. And in his eyes was not just another man who would break her heart. In his eyes was his humanity, the person he really was. Sure, at the beginning there were times where it got lost, when he wears his suit, when he becomes the man that the world demands of him. But now as he sprawled on his bed with his curly hair all ruffled and the fatigue in his eyes present, there was that side of him. That same side when she had fainted in the forest and insisted on carrying her home without another word. That same side when he had found her cleaning vigorously in his room with the concern he had for her etched onto his features.

And it was that same side of him that deep down, Moana knew in her heart that she could trust him.

That she can trust him.

“My family,” She begins with a horse whisper. “My mom, my dad, and my grandma,” Another pause. “They’re all….dead.”

Maui looks at her. His eyes going wide as he blinks once, and then another. Clearly having not expected for those words to come out of her mouth.

“What?”

“My family, they’ve all passed away.” She says again. “They’re….not around anymore.”

Another bout of silence fills him. Silent to the point where her words had rendered him speechless. And for a man like Maui, he was rarely ever speechless. But this time, he is. Marinating on her words and letting them sink in.

“How did they die?” Was all he could really ask at this point.

And almost instantly he regretted his choice in words, noting the way how she flinched.

“…From cancer.”

He’s quiet. Thinking that maybe it was best if he just kept his mouth shut and allow her the opportunity to fill in the gaps to all the blank questions he had.

“My grandma was the first to go.” She whispers. “She developed breast cancer when I was eight. She had it for four years.” A pause. “And then she died when I was twelve.”

He swallows, allowing her to continue.

“My dad, he had lung cancer. Just after I entered my freshmen year of high school, he passed away three months later.” A sniffle. “When I was fourteen.”

He blinks, swallowing.

“Then I lost my mom when I was sixteen.” Her bottom lip quivers and she chomps on it. “She had breast cancer as well.” A shaky sigh. “So….I’ve been without parents ever since then.”

Moana hadn’t even realized that she had begun crying. Maui’s thick fingers came to wipe away the tears that slid down her cheeks. It was all beginning to make sense. The thoughts she had previously expressed as to why she didn’t believe she was going to survive much longer than he had tried to persuade her to believe.

Her entire family had passed away from cancer.

“Cancer runs in my family, I guess.” She chokes out what attempted to be a chuckle, but instead was a choked sob. “My aunts and my uncles all passed away from some sort of cancer. Even….the ones that….” Another shaky breath. “…That came up here from Kohala....they’ve all passed away….”

She bites down on her lip. Her vision turning to a blur.

“A-and then soon….it will be….me….”

There was an immeasurable sadness that ebbed in the pit of his stomach. He couldn’t find any words to say. He uses his hand to hold onto hers, and she doesn’t hesitate to let him.

“I-I….I don’t have much family left….”

As much as she tries to hold back the sob, the pain comes out like a silent uproar from her throat in the form of a silent, desolate wail. His other hand immediately finds her spine and he pulls her closer towards him, his fingers running a melody against every notch. He lets her sob quietly into his chest and for once, Maui himself has to resist the urge to join in with her. He bites down on his lower lip to prevent the tears that were pooling in his eyes to escape any second. He holds her close, cooing in her ear, whispering sweet nothings, and placing soft kisses on the crown of her head. Her fingers clutching his old grey t-shirt and her tears soaked through the fabric.

That was why she he had found her crying at the top of the staircase.

And it all made sense as to why everything had become so emotional. Maui could tell that Moana was a very fragile woman. Being alone in this house at the age of sixteen without a family could really take a toll on a person. And it would explain why she was so eager to get him to open up to her. She was lonely. She was vulnerable. And it seemed it had been forever since she was able to open up to a person and allow her vulnerability and sadness to seep out of her. She had needed comfort. She had needed a companion. And Maui was it.

Maui knew that from now on, he was everything that she needed.

She was able to calm down after a few moments, though she made no effort to detach from him anytime soon. So Maui, being the good man that he is, allowed the privilege to do so. And truth be told, Maui would be lying if he said that he wasn’t enjoying having her wrapped in his arms with her head resting against his chest. He holds in the darkness, silence engulfing around them. And a question burned in his brain. He hesitates at first, but wastes no time in opening his mouth to speak.

“Moana?”

She shifts her head slightly to look up at him, blinking away the tears.

“How come you didn’t tell me?”

She blinks. “W-what do you…mean?”

“I mean, about your parents.” He pauses. “Your family. And….you.” She flinches. “I mean…how come you didn’t tell me sooner?”

Moana sucks in a deep breath, holds it, and then slowly lets it go. Her heart beats in time with some muffled electronic music that’s playing far too loud at almost four o’clock in the morning on a weeknight. No doubt that her neighbors next door were most likely out of town and their teenage kids were throwing an overnight party in their parents’ absence, strobing and thrumming. She was definitely going to have a word with the parents when they arrive back. But that was the least of her worries.

She swallows. “I….I was scared.”

“Why?”

“Because,” She pauses. “I….I didn’t want you to….look at me different.”

He sighs, a sad sigh. “Moana, why would you think that I would do that?”

“Because…a lot of people have….”

He frowns.

“And….I was scared that…you were going to…”

“You thought I was going to what?”

She’s quiet, refusing to say more than she already has. And right away, her silence was all that Maui needed to confirm his answer.

He pinches her chin between his thumb and index finger to gently tilt her head to look up at him. The way how her bottom lip quivered and the glossy tears in her eyes what all the confirmation he needed.

“You thought I was going to leave you?”

She chews on her lower lip, and then nods.

Of course. It definitely wasn’t easy for someone to deal with another person who was suffering from some sort of physical illness that was threatening the cost of their life. Maui hated to admit this, but part of him would understand as to why any other person would just leave another if that person was sick. The stress of having to deal with it all could easily provoke someone to have a nervous breakdown, even if they weren’t the person that was ill. And typically, Maui wasn’t one to stick around if something like this were to happen.

But this time, this time was different.

A woman like Moana, who was full of life and always seemed so positive and ready to offer her home to a complete stranger, it would be selfish of him not give back to her the way that she’s given to him. But the question was how.

How was he supposed to help her?

“Moana,” He pushes a strand of hair behind her ear. “Why would you think that I would just leave?”

She sniffles. “Because, it’s….happened to me before.”

He frowns. “Yea?”

She nods. “Yea.” She lays her head down on his chest, plays notes on his pecks. “A man that…I was in love with before,” A hesitation, and then she proceeds. “We um…we were in a relationship for two years…and then once he found out that I was sick,” A pause. “He….he left me.”

Maui was quiet at this. Hardly believing the words that his ears were perceiving. He runs his fingers through her hair, massaging her scalp.

“Why did he leave you?”

“My illness was too much for him to deal with.” She mumbles, frowning at the thought. Recalling that nasty fallout that had taken place in this very house. “He left me….for another woman.”

Maui’s brow raised. “Did he really?”

She nods.

He scoffs at this. “You…you can’t be serious.”

“I am.” Her head bobs, and she hates to admit it. “But….I found out….that he had been cheating on me with the same woman.” She bites her lip. “That’s why…it was so easy for him to just….get up and leave.”

Maui finds his gaze stuck to the ceiling. The anger in his insides on the verge of boiling over. He inhales a sharp breath and exhales slowly. He needed to calm down. He really needed to. Especially since he never expected to speak the words that came out of his mouth next.

“Did you ever have sex with him?”

She lifts her head from his chest and looks at him. “What?”

(Idiot!)

“I said, did you ever have sex with him?”

He’s not sure what had gotten into him. And judging by the look on her face, Moana doesn’t seem to be so sure either. Truth be told, she’s stunned at his question. And surprisingly, so is he. He wasn’t like he meant to ask it. Heck, when it came to a person’s sex life, that was the least of his worries.

Was he jealous?

Jealous at the thought of another man having touched her?

She hesitates at first, and then speaks. “I did.” She confesses.

He keeps his gaze fixed on the ceiling. His eyes immediately clouding with hate. He didn’t even know the guy and already, Maui hated him with a burning passion. He had earned her love and then he had taken for granted. He had gone as far as to put his hands all over her body, and he instead, he tossed her away like last week’s left overs. He had touched her. His lips had been on hers. And then he had the nerve to fool around on her and leave her for another woman.

How he wanted to find this man and beat the living daylights out of him.

“But,” Her voice broke through his thoughts. “I…I only ever had sex with him twice….throughout our whole relationship.”

Only twice?

Two years? Only twice?

“He was the only man I ever dated.” She whispers. “And the only man I…I’ve ever loved.”

Maui swallows and forces himself to tear his gaze from the ceiling and to seek hers. It was sheer luck that at least he knew what it was like to have someone you once loved to break your heart. If anyone knew about broken hearts, Maui was definitely taking the winning trophy in that category. She rests her head against his chest, though her eyes are still on his.

“After him and I broke up, I haven’t date since.”

He sighs, a heavy sigh. “I know what it’s like.” He says. “To have your heart broken.”

“Were you ever cheated on?”

She closes her mouth, regretting the words that slipped out. But surprisingly, he doesn’t hesitate to respond. Nor did he seemed too bothered by her question.

“I was.”

“I’m sorry.”

“It is what it is.”

“Were you in love with her?”

“Yea, I was. Very much so.”

She looks at him, biting her lip. “Did you…ever date after that?”

He shrugs, playing notes down her spine. “I did here and there. Didn’t really mean much.”

She sighs. “Well, I’m sure you’ve had more of a sex life than I’ve had.” She lets out what sounds like a chuckle, though it lacked humor, laced with sadness.

He cocks a brow. “What do you mean by that?”

“Ever since I found out I was sick and after he and I split up,” A pause. “I’ve often found myself straying away from having relationships with men.”

“Really?”

“Yea.” There’s sadness in her tone. “I haven’t had much of an….intimate life.” She whispers. “Nothing’s ever been the same…ever since I got sick.”

And it was something about her last statement that immediately got Maui pondering over it. Yes, she was in a vulnerable state. Yes, she needed companionship. And yet, the one thing she seemed to be lacking was intimacy. Whether it was emotional, or physical. Especially a bright young woman like her – gorgeous, has everything going for her, lives in a beautiful home – lacking an intimate life? Even Maui found it hard to believe that a beautiful twenty-five year old woman didn’t participate in the average sex life that a thirty year old would.

He wasn’t sure what came over him. One minute, they were gazing into each other’s eyes. And the next, Maui finds himself pulling her closer towards him, his mouth finding hers as they crash together. He was kissing her. And she was kissing him back just as hard. It was obvious that they had past the first stages of kissing. And they had immediately skipped to intermediate level; their mouths meshing together with so much hunger and passion, but yet so sweetly. His tongue nibbled on her lower lip, begging for entrance, which she was gracious enough to grant his request. His tongue found hers, both wrestling for dominance, and she moans and whimpers into his mouth at how rough, yet gentle he was being with her.

Her fingers clawing at his shirt, his arms wrapped around her waist, not wanting to let her go. And it was the first time in three years where Moana had felt a man’s passion mold together with hers. He gently breaks the kiss, the both of them catching their breaths, his forehead resting against hers. And Maui confirmed to himself that the kiss he had given her was his way of telling her that he wasn’t going anywhere.

He was staying.

And there was no turning back.

He places a kiss amongst her forehead, caressing her cheeks so gently.

“I’m not going anywhere, Moana.” He tells her, and he’s honest. “I’m staying.”

She tries to blink back the tears that wanted to escape. His thumb was quick to wipe it away. “R-really?”

“Yes.” And he kiss her again. “I’m staying.” A kiss to the tip of her nose. “For as long as you need me.”

Her heart beats in her chest. Feeling nothing more than protection and honesty. Which is exactly what she needed. What she had craved for her whole life since her parents had passed away. She pulls herself closer until there’s nothing left between them. And she doesn’t hesitate to reward him with another kiss. She rests her head against his chest, his fingers playing with her hair. And he relaxes into the mattress of the bed and sighs a content sigh.

“Thank you, Maui.”

A smile plays at his lips. “You’re welcome, Moana.”

With nothing but the warmth that both their bodies offered one another, the sleep pooled in their eye-lids, and the blackness comes over them both. Like a blanket. For Moana, it wasn’t like a blanket of loneliness that made her shiver at night like always, but a blanket of warmth. Her eyes growing heavier and heavier. And for the first time in her life, she closes her eyes and is finally sent into dreamless, and peaceful sleep.

All of the worries she had bottled up evaporating into the dark sheet surrounding the both of them.

Chapter Text

The day itself seemed to be going by smoothly.

The usual breakfast in the morning, the sweet flirting and hand holding while travelling on the highway, and then the drop off to work and a promise to arrive back to her workplace by 4:30pm to pick her up. For the most part, Maui didn’t seem to complain. Seeing that the minute they both woke up lying next to each other, bodies pressed together with her head resting against his chest and his arm wrapped around her waist, there didn’t seem to be any sort of tension. Not that either of them were hoping for any tension.

It was different in a way. Much different than either of them, especially Maui, had anticipated.

And so far, things were going good. Very good. A little too good. Not that Maui himself was complaining. Though, part of him considered believing that it may be ‘too good to be true’. But really and truly, his only goal right now was just to get through this day without any unnecessary interruptions whatsoever.

It came as a surprise when he finds his phone vibrating at lunch time. An incoming call was the last thing he wanted to deal with. And just as he was about to pick up the phone and brutishly inform the caller ‘not interested. Now leave me alone’ and hang up without so much as a second thought, he’s shocked to find the bright letters Moana Wailiki appearing on his phone.

Whatever unpleasant thoughts he had could wait. Moana needed him. So he doesn’t waste any time in hitting the ‘answer’ button.

“Moana?”

“Hey Maui.”

“Hey.” He speaks around his turkey sandwich (way too much mayo, too many tomatoes that it overdid the small amount of turkey and too little mustard), sitting in Subway alone and silently reminding himself to next time, give himself the night before to prepare his meals for work. Though the sandwiches at Subway beat the crappy ones at Tim Horton’s by a landslide. “I’m uh, I’m just on break right now. Is everything okay?”

“Yea, yea! I’m just taking a little coffee break that’s all.”

“Oh, alright well that’s good.” He tries to smile, though he can’t push away the uncertainty wedged in his brain. “You sure you’re okay?”

A light chuckle on her end. “Yea, I’m fine.” A brief pause. “Actually, I um…I called ‘cause I…wanted to thank you.”

“Uh…to thank me? For what?”

“For last night.” Of course, how could he forget! “For….letting me sleep with you.”

“….Sleep with me?”

“For letting me sleep with you in your room.” She was quick to correct herself in case the words came out wrong. “Um…that is.”

Of course.

It was a good thing he had decided on a different pair of pants. Ones that fit a bit looser than usual. After all, the last thing he needed was for everyone to his slight erection on display that could pretty much resemble a ‘magic stick’. He grumbled at that, mentally cursing himself for allowing his hormones to rise through the roof so drastically.

“Oh….uh…that wasn’t a problem, actually.” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “You don’t have to thank me for that.”

“But I wanted to.”

There was something about the tone between her sentences. Maui couldn’t seem to put his finger on it. But there was something there. Her gratitude sounded sincere, genuine, honest even. A hint of determination could be picked out. All he could really do right now was to stay quiet. He had no choice but to force himself to allow her words to find rest in his system.

He starts to feel guilty at the heavy absence of words, and is about to apologize and insist that she go back to her work when – “Hey, Mer? Tell Gothel that I’m just in the bathroom!”

“Al’right, well ye better hurry up!” Maui could decipher the thick Scottish accent in the background. “The Lass is not ay pat’ient lady!”

She’s walking away from all the shuffling and movement that’s going on around her. “Hey, sorry about that.” She mutters quietly into the receiver. “Work’s been….a bit stressful this morning.” There’s a door opening. Closing. He could hear numerous amounts of water guzzling out of the taps. “Needed a little break.”

He checks his watch. 11:25am. At least he still had a bit of time before his lunch break ended. Her on the other hand, well, that was a different story.

“When do you usually go on lunch?”

It was an odd question. Especially considering the heavy silence that was placed amongst them just a few minutes ago.

“Eh, around noon.”

“Well, Moana, I don’t want to get you in any trouble-“

“You won’t. It’s fine.”

“…You sure?”

“Of course.”
Again, his attempt at finding the next words to say was lacking. He was beginning to think that maybe it would’ve been a better idea had he let his phone go to voicemail instead.

“Anyway, yea.” Her voice pulls him from his thoughts. “I just wanted to say thank you for everything you did for me last night.” She was genuinely being honest. “You don’t know how hard it was to get all that off my chest.”

“I can imagine.”

“Seriously, Maui. Thank you. For listening to me and….” A pause. “…For just, being there for me. I really appreciate it.” A gulp from him. “Not a lot of people have done that for me.”

Of course they wouldn’t. Because people like that were selfish.

Were they?

The space between their phones is infinite. Farther than any roads could carry him, and he can feel it against the plastic chair behind him, arching and perforating. A swallow grates his chest.

“…And I didn’t just call to say ‘thank you’…”

“…No?”

“No…” Another pause. “I also just…wanted to find a reason to talk to you…”

He swallows. “Oh yea..?”

“Yea.”

It really was impossible for him to ignore the heat spreading to his cheeks, and trailing all the way down between his legs. Of course she didn’t just call him for one thing. And because again, he is Maui Deeming, a man that smooth like him should’ve known that.

How he could be so blind as to >em>not see that? He would never know.

He checks his watch again. 11:32am. “You sure you won’t get into any trouble?”

A soft chuckle from her end. “I’ll be fine, Maui. Trust me, my boss is the last person I want to deal with right now.”

“Moana, if you get fired because of me, I will-“

“Maui, stop worrying!” Her chuckle turns into a giggle. “I’m fine.

And for what seemed like eternity, he couldn’t stop the deep chuckle that slipped past his lips. That was another thing he should’ve known. A woman as determined as Moana, there was no definitely no turning back.

“Well, you’re in luck then, Curly.” He takes a sip of his coffee. “I’ve got half an hour of my break left.”

“Good.”

And luckily for the both of them, their conversation didn’t seem to want to disperse any time soon.


 

The bank is bustling by the time he gets back. Thankfully and much to his comfort, Bob had been gracious enough to turn on the heater. Since outside had drastically dropped from twelve to six degrees without any advanced warning. He tilts his neck to the side, relieved as he heard the sound of a crack, stretching out the tension that somehow crept into his system.

The brief talk that he had with Moana at lunch was something that he had needed. Hearing the sound of her voice for some reason always seemed to calm him down. And to hear that she was doing okay was definitely something that immediately allowed his insides to relax.

But then again, today was Saturday. And Saturday’s at the bank were always busy. Now he knew why Saturday’s were always the least of his favorite days. He hated Saturday’s.

“Hey man!”

Another reason why he hated Saturday’s.

He forces himself to tear his gaze from the fine print he was inspecting, to look up at none other than the ‘infamous’ Eugene Fitz Herbert in the flesh. He had his arms folded against his chest with his shoulder relaxing against the doorframe, his stance a caricature of one of those old 1950’s movie stars that screaming girls who’ve barely hit puberty would vie over attention for.

Of course. Being pestered at work was exactly what Maui needed.

“Hey yourself.” He says, his tone lacked any enthusiasm as he busies himself with the array of files scattered on his desk.

“Bad morning?”

“Nope.” He mutters. “Just trying to get some work done.” There’s an edge to his tone. He could only hope for a miracle, but he doubted that someone with a massive ego like Eugene would be wise enough to pick it up.

The brunette did nothing but smirk. “Work? Pssh, no one likes work dude.” Maui hated always being right. Of course the man with the biggest ego wasn’t going to pick up on that sarcastic comment. “You should know that by now.”

Maui lets out a loose chuckle. “Well, if I had to choose between working and drowning in debt….” He looks up from the files, “I think I’d choose the work.”

Eugene ponders over this for a minute. “Touché.” He shrugs his shoulders. “Guess you got a point there.”

Maui fixes him with a tight stare. As always, the man’s body language was pretty much suggesting that he was not going to be leaving here anytime soon. But unfortunately, that’s what one gets when they’re working with someone like Eugene Fitz Herbert.

“So…..” He pulls up a chair from the corner and plops himself down so he’s straddling the front. “What’s new with you?”

Maui cocks a brow. First off, who the hell was he to just barge into his office and make himself feel so much at home? And second, Maui could’ve sworn that this indeed, was the same man who made it clear that his patience for perky people were not the greatest.

And yet, here he was.

“So….shouldn’t you be getting back to work?”

Eugene chuckles at this. “Like I said before, work is so boring!” He shakes his head. “Besides, I was getting kinda lonely.”

“And you came to me, because……”

“Well, Nani’s with a client.” He shrugs shoulders. “And Bob is on break, so, I guess that just leaves you!” A smirk.

Maui fixes him with a deadpanned expression. “Great….must be a lucky day for you then.”

“It will be once I get out of here. Got a hot date tonight.” His smirk shifted to a devious grin. “If you know what I mean….”

Typical.

Maui rolls his eyes at this as he fixes his gaze on the fine print. “Good for you.”

“It will be good. I’ll make sure of it.” He leans against the chair and sighs at the thought. “Y’know, it’s been a while since I’ve gotten laid.”

Maui stopped writing, though he refused to look up from his work. “Is that so?”

“Yea man, can you believe it’s been a whole week since I’ve gotten any action?”

He rolled his eyes again. “That’s unfortunate.”

“You’re telling me? I mean three weeks ago, it was this chick I met a bar.” Eugene licks his lips at the memory. “The things that we did in her apartment that night…..man….”

Maui just nods.

“And then two days later, met another chick at some business convention. She was only here for three days.” A smirk. “She was a fun one.”

There was something about his tone that left a disgusting taste on Maui’s taste buds. But then again, who was he to judge? After all, it wasn’t like he was that much of a saint himself.

“A couple days after that, another hottie I met a club. A foreign chick.” The smirk still there. “She was a wild one.” A devious grin. “Definitely one of my favorites. I mean, the things that she did to me….all those different positions, I mean-“

“Too much information there, dude.”

“Aw, come on!” Eugene holds out his hands. “I haven’t even gotten to the best parts yet!”

“Because I really don’t need to know that.”

“Oh please! You’re a man! You should know how it is with the ladies!”

(He did know. And frankly, he definitely did not want to think back to those events)

“Besides,” He could hear sneer in his voice, “I’m sure you’ve had your fair share of hot women in the past.”

(He did)

Maui had to do everything in his power to peel his gaze from the fine print yet again. His head slowly tilted up to scowl at him. Eyes squinting.

“And…..how exactly would that be any of your business?”

Eugene gives a shrug. “Hey, I’m just calling it like I see it.” He says through a wide grin. “Nothing wrong with having some fun in your life. I’m not here to judge.”

(No actually. Those times he’s woken up to women’s faces he couldn’t seem to put a name to, they really weren’t that fun)

“Besides, who could really blame you?”

He cocks a brow. “For what exactly?”

“For getting with the ladies!” Ah. That. “I mean, come on! Why settle down with one chick when you can have hundreds!” The thought of that made him sick to his stomach. “This world is crawling with plenty of sexy bods!”

(One hundred gorgeous bodies to have “fun with” versus one body with a beautiful mind, heart and spirit? The answer was obvious to him)

“Especially with a world class travelling financial advisor like you? I find that hard to believe that you would ever settle down with just one chick.”

Maui blinks, then shakes his head. “It’s not always about ‘looks’ and ‘having fun’.” He sets aside his pen and turns to his computer, typing. “After a while, that stuff starts to get pretty….boring.”

Now it was Eugene’s turn to cock a brow. “Boring?” And then a dry chuckle. “I seriously doubt that.

(But it was true)

“I’d choose a night of fun over commitment any day! I’m more of a man that prefers to run solo.” He sneers. “Fun? Absolutely! Commitment? So boring!

(No. One night stands with multiple different women on daily basis was boring)

(After all, he of all people would know)

“Well, believe it.”

There’s a long silence. It fills up with room with vigorous typing. For once, Maui was starting to feel relieved at the thought of finally succeeding in getting this guy to shut up once and for all. Unfortunately for him, the silence was short lived.

“It’s that chick, isn’t it?”

He stops typing. “What did you just say?”

“I said, it’s that chick.” A curt nod with a sly grin. “Y’know, the one that you’re living with.”

(That chick? Moana was far from ‘that’ chick!)

The hairs on the back of his neck stand up. “What about her?” His mutters.

“She’s gotten to you, hasn’t she?”

His knuckles clench. It wasn’t a question. He knew it wasn’t. Especially with the smug that lingered in his tone.

“That doesn’t concern you.”

A wider grin. “I’m right, aren’t I?”

“And what if she has?” He cranes his neck to scowl at him. “What difference would it make?”

“Ah. So you do have feelings for her, don’t you?”

(Yes!)

(Wait!.....no?)

(…Maybe?)

“I don’t see what’s so bad about that.” He settles on saying instead.

Eugene gives a very unsatisfying sigh, along with a face palm. “Dude, you’re killing me here!” He mumbles through the flesh of his palm. “You’re doing it all wrong!”

Another sigh from Maui. “What are you talking about?”

“You’re not supposed to catch any feelings!” He throws up his hands. “Especially not after you’ve been banging her! That's a definite no in the 'Man's Rule Book!”

(First of all, did such a thing even exist?)

(He reminds himself to have a word with Bob later on)

You of all people should know that! You seduce her, have a few drinks to get in her in the mood, then you have your ‘fun’ and then you drop her like that!” He snaps his fingers. “Done! Finito! Sianara! You don’t know her, she doesn’t know you! You two have never met! It’s the principal of-“

“I never slept with her.”

Eugene pauses, face dropping. “Wait….what?” His mouth was hanging open. “You mean….you two….you never-“

“No.”

“Not even a little-“

“No.”

(That part was a lie)

(Yes. Definitely some lip action here and there. But never anything like that)

More silence. One that fills the air now with numerous footsteps echoing from the hallway. Murmurs of voices interacting with their clients in the next room in the altos. The chiming of the constant ‘beep beep’ of photocopiers taking the lead as the sopranos. But it didn’t stop Maui from contemplating whether or not he should’ve admitted anything.

Especially to man like Eugene.

“So you haven’t slept with her.”

He rolls his eyes and turns back to typing. “No.”

“Well….why not?”

He pauses from typing. “What do you mean?”

“Why haven’t you slept with her yet?”

Because it’s nun ya damn business! He wanted to shout in his face, clenching his fists tightly, convincing himself that spending the rest of his life behind bars was not worth it. What I do in my intimate life does not concern you! So why don’t you just buzz of and leave me the hell alone and-!

“She’s my roommate.” He says instead. “That would be crossing the line.” (Which is a lame excuse. Considering the amount of times that they share sweet kisses with each other on daily basis, it was obvious that the two had a mutual attraction for one another). “I wanna respect her.”

Lame!

He rolls his eyes.

“That doesn’t mean that you two can’t still have some fun!” He cringes at the sly chuckle that slips through his teeth. “Don’t be such a prude, man!”

His knuckles transition to a shade of white. (Think of a happy place – something that his therapist always advised him to do)

“I couldn’t do that to her.”

“Why not? Look, you don’t have to be all…romantic,” He makes air quotes around the word, “or any of that sappy shit. Just go in for the plunge and-“

“She’s sick!”

Eugene pauses. “….what?”

Maui has to shut his eyes. Heaving a heavy sigh, he says, “She has breast cancer.” His voice dropped to deep note.

“…..Oh…”

“Yea.” A snarl. “Oh.

Eugene knew he deserved that. And truth be told, Maui couldn’t help but feel satisfied that he finally got this man to shut his mouth once and for all. It was about time someone put him in his place. A place that didn’t involve images of beautiful women dressed in scantily clad clothing and eventually provoke his manhood to erupt.

“Well, that’s, um….” He scratches the back of his neck. “That’s pretty rough, man.”

(He knew that. Of course he knew that)

He says nothing. And settles on a curt nod.

“So….I’m guessing you’re gonna stick around and help her out?”

(Was that such a bad thing?!)

“Yea.” He was proud of himself. “I am.”

Eugene couldn’t help but give a small shrug. “Well, that’s cool too.” His tone is light, giving a soft chuckle. “Nothing wrong with that.”

(Of course there wasn’t)

“Do you know how you’re gonna help her?”

He never took the time to actually process that information. And frankly, it didn’t seem like there was much he can do to help. All Maui knew was that he was staying with her, no matter what. She needed him. He wasn’t going to abandon her in her time of need.

“I haven’t really thought of that.” He admits, and is slightly embarrassed by that. “I guess….all I can really do is to just….be the friend that she needs me to be.” (Friend? Preposterous!)

“….You can still offer to sleep with her.”

And he’s back.

“Okay, for the last time!” He turns abruptly in his chair, and glares at him. “What part of ‘she’s sick’ do you not under-“

“Just hear me out for a sec.” Eugene holds up his hands. “You said she’s sick, right?”

“Yes! But that doesn’t mean-“

“So that’s already a golden opportunity for you right there!”

“Golden opportunity?” Maui grunts in disgust. “What the hell is going through your mind?! How can you possibly say that-“

“Dude, she’s sick! Meaning that she’s already vulnerable as it is!”

“Okay, just stop-“

“Look, if she’s vulnerable, that means that she will do anything to get what she wants!” Eugene tries to reason with him. “It’s just that simple!”

“No! It’s not simple!” He can feel himself fuming. “If I do that, then I’d just be taking advantage of her!”

“So?”

“So! You’re saying that I should just use her sickness and her vulnerability as a way to just jump into her pants?”

“See? Now you get it!” And that same wide grin is back. “That’s exactly what I’m trying to tell you!”

Maui cocks a brow, shaking his head. “Do you hear yourself right now?” And then a glare. “I am not going to do that to her.”

“Dude, are you really that concerned about what she wants?” Another dry chuckle. “Trust me on this one, man. She definitely wants this more than you do. I mean think about it! The chick is already sick! She’s got nothing to lose! You’ve already got an advantage!”

“She is sick!”

“Dude, this could be a way for you to keep up with your sex life!”

“To keep up with my sex life? Are you crazy?”

“Think about it. She gets what she wants. You get what you want. There! Everybody’s happy! No one gets hurt!”

Maui’s gaze darkened. His face scrunched up in disgust. He wanted nothing more than just punch that stupid smirk off this man’s face. Nothing seemed to faze him. Not even if it involved possibly destroying someone else’s life and well-being.

“Just trust me on this one, dude.” Maui growled at this and turns back to focus on his computer. “When you see her tonight, all you have to do, is just go up to her and ask her if she wants you to sleep with her. It’s not that hard!”

Maui heaves a harsh sigh. He had enough of this man for one day. “Look, I have a lot of work that I need to finish up here.” He pinches the bridge of his nose. “So can you please just leave?”

“Come on, man! Don’t be like that! Look, it won’t be that bad when-“

“Leave. Please and thank you.”

Eugene just stares at him. Feeling dumfounded, though he tries his best to hide the fact that his ego was now bruised. So, with what little dignity he had left, he shrugs, mumbles an “okay”, and rises from the chair. His hand is on the doorknob, then he turns to look at Maui over his shoulder and says, “Remember what I said though.” And finally, he leaves.

Maui had to count down from twenty. Then to ten.

And he wished upon whatever stars they were that his conversation with Eugene would completely disappear forever.


 

Unfortunately, his conversation with Eugene had stuck with him for the rest of the night. The sound of his voice was like an irritating melody that somehow managed to be stuck on repeat. ‘Go up to her, and just ask her if she wants you to sleep with her. It’s not that hard.’ His voice taunted. Of course. A question like that seemed to be the least intimidating for a man like good old Eugene Fitz Herbert. After all, he was the ultimate womanizer that lurked the streets and suburbs of pretty much all Vancouver.

‘To do it? Or to not do it?....

They had agreed on oven roasted chicken and pasta salad for dinner that evening. Courtesy of Moana’s favorite grocery store. It was Maui who had offered to maybe settle on Spicy Pad Thai and tofu from the Thai restaurant down the block from his workplace. But remembering that Moana had to keep a strict eye on her diet, and nice hot meal from Metro was the better route to take. Their usual jokes and quips were exchanged, something that had become a main part of their budding new relationship.

Eugene’s words finally made their home in his system. And unfortunately, they didn’t seem to want to evacuate any time soon. Not now. Probably not ever. Damn him. Damn that stupid, stupid, arrogant man.

But Maui was a man of himself. He was the one that called the shots. He was the one to make the decisions. What he doesn’t like, and what he does like. He knew from right and wrong. It was something that was engrained in him the minute he left his mother’s womb. He was never usually one to let people make decisions for him.

Well….not technically…..

‘She’s already vulnerable as it is!’

There goes that annoying tune again. The tune of Mr. Fitz Herbert’s devious voice.

‘Trust me on this one, man. She definitely wants this more than you do. I mean think about it! The chick is already sick! She’s got nothing to lose! You’ve already got an advantage!’

So calloused. So cold. So selfish.

And yet, the minute that her soft lips stretched into that gorgeous smile that he grew to love and adore, the one where it reaches all the way to her eyes that it could nearly light up a room, he easily could’ve oozed into a puddle of silly putty at her feet.

Yes. Maui knew that Eugene’s suggestion was indeed full of greed. Yes. He knew that right away he should’ve told Eugene to get lost.

So…..why was it that he couldn’t seem to ignore that little voice that was shouting ‘do it! Just do it!’

(No! Bad Maui! Bad!)

How they ended up on the couch, with Moana cuddled against his chest? He had no clue. The television was on for the third time in literally over a month. An episode of Dateline was on. Tonight’s topic; ‘Crime of Passion’, when wives murder their cheating husbands and end up going psycho and lose their minds in the end, only to end up in handcuffs and spend the rest of their future withering away behind metallic bars. Maui remembered they had watched an episode prior to this not too long ago. The case was similar to the one they were currently watching. It was fortunate for them that they both shared a common interest with a strange fascination for murder mysteries.

It was a bit ironic, seeing as they were both engaged in listening to how a woman had butchered her husband and his lover with a machete. Leaving them in a rather gruesome blood bath to the point where they were both almost decapitated. And yet, here the two of them were, cuddled together, his arm wrapped around her small frame while her head was rested against his chest, his fingers combing through her hair. But then again, they weren’t married. Nor were they engaged. Come to think of it, they weren’t even boyfriend and girlfriend.

Well…..not really.

‘She gets what she wants. You get what you want. There! Everybody wins! No one gets hurt!’

Was it true though? Was it really true?

“Moana?”

“Hmm?”

He hesitates. “I….I need to ask you something.”

She takes her head off his chest, craning her head to look up at him. Brows creased with worry.“…Is everything okay?”

He keeps his gaze centered on the visuals off the screen. Though his mind seems to wandering elsewhere.

“Things are fine, don’t worry.” He thinks for a short moment, and then says, “it’s actually about….the conversation we had last night.”

“Oh.”

“Yea.”

“….is it about my illness?”

“No?” He thinks again. “Well….sort of.” Then he finally turns to meet her gaze. “It was…something else that you told me.”

She falters, trying her best to concentrate on the conversation taking place and not of the narration of the voice on echoing from the television. “I told you a lot of things, though, Maui.”

He studies her, as does she him. “I know.” Then he shuts his eyes, inhales a deep breath, and then says “but it was something that was….kinda personal on your end.”

She furrows her brow. “You’re gonna have to a bit more specific.”

(He was afraid of that. Really, he was)

Heaving a heavy sigh, inhaling another deep breath through his nose, “your ex-boyfriend.” He lifts his eyelids.

“You mean, Kristoff?”

“….Guess you could say that.”

She tilts her head to the side. “Well…what about him exactly?”

“It’s not really about him per say.” Another pause. “But it sort of relates back to him.”

“How so?”

For crying out loud! Was he really going to have to spell it out for her? It was already embarrassing enough that he was even having to bring something like this up in the first place! The least she could do was to just get the hint already and move forward to the next clue.

“You don’t have sex.” He blurts without even thinking. Of course. Nothing like good old word vomit coming to make it grand entrance.

“….What?”

He chomps on his lower lip, and then he gently eases her off of him so that they’re both sitting up straight. He fiddles his thumbs. “You haven’t had dated, or had sex….ever since you and him broke up.” He looks at her, noting how the size of those brown orbs were now two sizes two big. “That’s what you told me last night.”

Moana swallows. She immediately tears her gaze from his. Eyes cast downward. “….that’s embarrassing…” She mutters.

“Don’t feel that way.” He tilts her head towards him, resting his thumb and finger underneath her chin. “If anything, I’m….glad you told me.”

“You are?”

“Yea.” He’s honest when he says it. Genuinely he is.

(Of course you are, stupid! You can’t even control your damn hormones!)

‘Just go up to her and ask her if she wants you to sleep with her.’ There it was again. For the umpteenth time.

“I’m sorry if what I said made you feel weird.” Her eyes are glossy. “I….I know that was a little bit personal, but-“

“It wasn’t. You don’t have to apologize.”

“But I feel like I do.”

He shakes his head. “Don’t.”

She takes his hand and brings it to her lap. “Sex and relationships….” She pauses, enveloping her fingers with his, “….they just….haven’t been the same for me.”

“I know they haven’t.”

(He gets it.)

“I know that had I gotten involved with any other man,” Something about her words leaves a bitter taste in his mouth, “none of them would understand what I’m dealing with.” Her voice starts to waver a bit. “And….I know that none of them would want to stick around.”

(He does. And he will.)

“It gets lonely though.” She whispers, biting her lip and dropping her head downwards. “I do miss it. A lot.”

Now’s your chance…..

“I wish I never had this stupid breast cancer. I would give anything to have my old life back.”

‘Just go up to her and ask her if she wants you to sleep with her.’

Uh-oh. There it was. Word vomit. Racing to top like gametes sprinting against each other to claim their prize. And then-

“Do you want me to sleep with you?”

There it was. Out in the open. No advanced warning. No signal.

Nothing.

Her head jerks up. Brown eyes flecked with shock and confusion. “…..W-what?” She literally chokes, jaw is dropped. Maui gulps. A loud one. His eyes blinking rapidly. His face now a caricature of Casper the friendly ghost, and his heart sunk to the pit of his stomach.

(Did he really just ask that?)

(Yes. Indeed. Yes he did.)

“W-wha…?” She shakes her head, slowly untangling her fingers from his. “….I…I don’t….what-“

“Never mind! Don’t answer that!” He holds up his hands to prevent her from saying another word. ‘Smooth, Maui. Real smooth.’ “Just-“ He presses his lips into a thin and huffs a breath. “Just…don’t say anything. You…you don’t have to answer that.” And he immediately looks away.

There’s silence for some time after that. Except for the murmuring of voices from the television. Maui had somehow managed to slide his weight slightly farther away from hers. Of course he couldn’t bring himself to look at her. Especially not after what he had just done. After all, it was already bad enough that he could still feel her eyes burning into his person. Curious and patiently waiting for some sort of explanation.

But as always, the answer always seemed to leave whenever he needed it the most.

And right now for Moana, well, that was a completely different story.

(Did he actually just offer to sleep with her?)

“…Maui….” Her voice is low, confused. “I-“

“I know. It was a stupid thing to ask.” He’s bitter. But not with her, obviously. “Forget I said anything.”

“I don’t know what I’m supposed to say…..”

“You don’t have to say anything.”

At this point, maybe it was best if she were to just keep her mouth shut and not say anything else. Because really and truly, what she could she really say? Especially to a question such as that? ‘Do you want me to sleep with you?’ A bizarre chant that had now nestled its way into her bones.

“I’m gonna head up to bed.” He literally jumps from the couch.

“Maui-“

“G’night.”

She doesn’t take her eyes off his back. Watching as he disappears up the stairs.

And she’s left alone.


 

From: Maui Deeming

Hey Curly, I felt like I needed to get this off my chest. Look, about what I said a couple nights ago. I am truly sorry that I offended you. It wasn’t my place to ask you something like that. If that’s why you’ve been quiet all this time, I wouldn’t blame you for wanting to keep your distance from me.

Moana chews on her lower lip as her eyes scan over the multiple letters and phrases presented on the screen of her phone. Her thumbs are hovering over the keyboard, tempted to write back, but failed to find the right words to do so. So instead, she heaves a sigh and once again, she places her phone down on the table beside her. She could feel the guilt inside of her beginning to surface, but at this point, she believed that Maui had already confirmed the answer he needed. She did need to keep her distance from him.

After all, if she didn’t, then she would definitely be sending him mixed signals. So at the end of the day, she couldn’t let that happen.

Could she?

‘We have kissed. A lot. That’s not really sending him mixed signals….is it?’

12:30pm

Her thoughts were put on hold as the vibration of her phone rumbled against the table. She knew what that meant. There was no doubt about it. She hesitates, staring at the device like it’s her sworn enemy. Her hand hovers over it, debating on if she should bother getting it, or to just ignore it and pretend as if what she heard wasn’t real. As always, it was battle between what the brain needs and what the heart wants.

From: Maui Deeming

I truly am sorry if what I said hurt you in any way. I’m an idiot, I know. In no way did I mean to offend you. I just thought that….maybe it could be a way to…help? Ugh! That sounded so stupid, I’m sorry! Forget what I said. Forget everything I said. I just don’t want there to be any awkward tension between us. But like I said, if you need your space, then I’m fine with that. Once again, I’m sorry, I’m so sorry Moana. I hope you can forgive me :-(

She doesn’t know what to say. Of course she didn’t. What the hell was she supposed to say? Part of her was thinking that maybe she had gone about it the wrong way. Maybe ignoring him or barely saying a word to him wasn’t exactly the best way to handle this situation. (Or could she even call it that?)

‘I’m sorry I offended you’…

That was another thing she had to think of. Did his question really offend her? There was a small part of her that wanted to think ‘yes’. Yes to the fact that his question had offended her. What was he thinking? That she would just gladly accept that kind of proposal right then and there and eagerly spread her legs open for him to rent temporarily? Shame on him! What the hell was he thinking?

(Liar)

That was the small part of her. The tiny part of her brain that was smart enough to still have some sort of common sense present. Well, what was left of it.

But the question still remains; was she truly offended by his offer?

Yes?

(Liar!)

Moana silently places her phone down on the table. Her fingers go to massage her temples, unable to prevent her mind from continuously pondering over the answer to that question. A lot of the times, she had to question how on earth she would manage to always find herself in these types of situations.

And always, the answer seemed to be vacant.

“I. Have not. Gotten. Any sleep. For the past. Three nights.” Rapunzel grumbles, glaring miserably at her skinny vanilla latte sitting in front of her. The dark smears hanging complacently underneath her eyelids, and her golden hair was hanging limp. “I have seriously had it with this woman.”

On the bright side, it was a good thing she had asked Rapunzel to join her while she was bouncing from one coffee shop to the next. After all, Rapunzel was the best person to talk to. Especially about this kind of situation.

“Anyways, what did you want to talk to me about?”

Moana stares at her friend. Contemplating on how exactly she was planning on bringing this up. She hesitates at first, and then opens her mouth to speak.

“Um, well first things first.” She hesitates again. “So….I finally told Maui about my illness.”

Rapunzel immediately perks up from her slump. “Really?” Moana nods. “Well that’s great! And how did he take it?”

“Well, thankfully, he didn’t react in the way I had anticipated.” She’s honest. “As a matter of fact, he was very understanding, and he was more than helpful and supportive about it.”

“See? I told you!” Rapunzel smiles, though it doesn’t do much to conceal her sloppy appearance. “I knew he would understand.”

Moana nods again. “I know.”

“You should’ve trusted him a little better, Mo.” Rapunzel’s comment was stern, but with compassion. “You shouldn’t have jumped to conclusions so quickly.”

A sigh. “You’re right.”

“And most importantly, you should’ve trusted me, your best friend.”

“I know, Punzie. You were right all along.”

She could feel her friend’s gaze boring into her person. And truth be told, she couldn’t help but bow her head down slightly, careful to avoid any eye contact whatsoever. After all, this wouldn’t be the first time she had disappointed someone she cared about.

“Listen Mo,” She hears Rapunzel sigh. “I know that with condition that you’re in, it’s hard for you to trust people.”

She gives a curt nod. Her locks curtaining the frame of her face.

“That’s why I can’t be too hard on you.” A soft chuckle. “I get it. I know exactly what you’re going through. I mean,” The blonde shifts uncomfortably in her seat, “I myself have been in this type of situation before too, remember?”

How could she not remember? It was true after all. So true. Very true. The endless nights of tears and being haunted by the mere images of her best friend being on the brink of death….

“But,” There’s hesitation in Rapunzel’s tone. “Eventually, I had to just…learn how to open up more to people.” She tucks a blonde strand behind her ear. “Especially when I was living with…that guy….” A pause. “At the time, eventually I just had to come clean with him and tell him everything that was going on with me.”

Moana nods. Quiet. Circling her hands around her mug and using her finger to trace around the edge.

“I remember I was so scared to tell him.” Rapunzel continues, fiddling with her fingers. “One night, I couldn’t even open a bottle of water, and he had to come and help me, and then….I don’t know what came over me. I just broke down in front of him.” Her voice cracks. “Next thing I know, he’s holding me and cuddling me on the couch. He kept asking me what was wrong, and then before I knew it, I just blurted everything out.”

(Déjà vu much?)

“And you wanna what happened after that?” Moana looks up at her friend. “He told me that he would do everything in his power to help me get through this.” A sad smile. “And he did.”

Moana swallows. “And….how did he help you exactly?”

“He just…..” She hesitates. “….helped me.” A pause. “In ways that….I couldn’t even imagine.”

She already knew the answer. It was only a matter of wanting to hear exactly what she had anticipated.

(Just say it already!)

“So…..did he….” She gulps. “….help you by….offering to sleep with you?”

Moana was certain of the tears that welled up in those green orbs. Her bottom lip quivered a bit, before she was quick to shrug it off. “…Yea….” She slides her own mug towards her and stares into her reflection that rippled in the dark liquid.

“So….you did sleep with him.”

A curt nod. “Yea, I did.”

Moana hesitates at first, and then says, “Maui offered to sleep with me.”

Rapunzel immediately lifts her head up. “He did what?”

“He um….he asked me….if I wanted him to sleep with me.” Rapunzel is about to protest, until Moana beats her to it. “But don’t worry though!” She holds up a hand. “I um…I haven’t exactly given him an answer yet.”

“Tell him no.”

That was the last thing she expected to her. “What?”

“Don’t do it.” Rapunzel shakes her head. “Tell him no.”

Moana blinks once. And then another. “…Are you sure?”

“Of course I’m sure!” Her brows merge to a frown. “Don’t tell him yes! Are you crazy? He’s only offering because you’re sick and he knows that you’re vulnerable!”

Moana sighs. “Of course he does….”

“Trust me! I know! I’ve been down that road before!”

“You’re right.” She agrees, but then a thought suddenly comes to mind. “But, I don’t think that Maui seems like the type to just…..do something like that, though.”

“What are you talking about? Of course he does! He’s a man, Moana.”

“I know that, but he just kind of…was so sweet about it, Punzie.

“That doesn’t matter!”

“But-“

“He’s only thinking about himself. He’s only offering because he thinks he can take advantage of the fact that you’re sick so that he can take care of his own sexual needs!”

“But….he just doesn’t seem like he would do something like that.” She tried to argue. “It was the way how he asked me. It was….genuine….and kind.”

“That doesn’t matter, Mo!” She flinched slightly. “He’s still a man! Men will do and say anything to charm their way into your pants!

She chomps on her lip. Unable to find much more to say.

“I can’t believe you’re actually thinking about going through with this!”

Her brows are furrowed. “Punzie, you’ve done it.”

“And that was a mistake that I’ll never make again!”

“And just a minute ago, you were telling me how important it was to start trusting people.”

She’s got her pegged. Noting how she was opening her mouth and closing it shut. The glare is still masked on her face, and it was the first time in a while that Moana had wished for that familiar, perky and overly talkative girl was here with her right now.

Moana leans forward. “I trust Maui, Rapunzel.”

Rapunzel’s glare hardens. “Well….maybe you shouldn’t.”

“And why shouldn’t I?”

She scowls into her reflection. Grabbing the handle of the mug.

“If you go through with this, then he’ll just leave you.” She snarls.

“He won’t.”

“You don’t know that.”

Now it was Moana’s turn to glare. “And what makes you think that?”

“I don’t think,” She responds as she traces her pinky finger around the seam of the mug. “I know he will.”

Moana heaves a heavy sigh. “Rapunzel-“

“If you actually go through with this,” Rapunzel’s lifts her gaze, “then I don’t think I could ever look at you the same again.”

There’s an insult there, and rises to the top like fat. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

She doesn’t answer the question, so instead she says, “Don’t let him think that he can take advantage of you like that.” A pause. “It’s not worth it.”

“Rapunzel, this is my decision to make.” It was. “And frankly, I think I’m capable of making my own choices”

A scoff. And then a snarl. But not another word.

“You did it too.”

“So just because I did it, all of a sudden you have to too?”

Moana bites her lip. “It’s my body, Rapunzel.” She frowns. “And at the end of the day, the ultimate decision is mine to make.”

“So you’re actually gonna go through with this?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“But you’re thinking it.”

“Maybe I am, maybe I’m not.”

Rapunzel leans back in her chair and crosses her arms over her chest. A caricature of her own father whenever she had disobeyed his orders. She was glaring heat waves at her. And just like always, Moana couldn’t shake that guilty feeling.

She had done it again.

“Fine.” Was Rapunzel’s last response. “You do whatever you want, Moana.” She rises from her seat, though a sharp gasp escapes her lips, she grit her teeth in pain as she slightly wobbles at the sudden pain in the joints of her knee.

It was too bad that Moana had noticed.

“Where are you going?” She asks instead.

“Back to the office.” She responds bitterly through grit teeth, though the piercing pain still lingered. “I have work to do.”

“Punzie, I-“

“If you decide that you wanna go and mess up your life?” The glare is still there and she was able to regain her balance. “Then that’s fine by me.” She grabs her bag and coat.

“Punzie, that’s not-“

“Don’t come crying to me when he decides to toss you away.”

And the next thing Moana knew, her best friend was marching (more like hobbling) through the entrance to Nemesis Café. So much for that conversation. Getting into an argument with her friend was the last thing she needed at this point.

She heaves a deep sigh as she massaged her temples.

At the end of the day, she just hoped that she would make the right decision.


 

Moana was sitting in her den that evening. The screen of her laptop staring blankly at her. Her mind was pondering over the conversation she had with Rapunzel back that afternoon. It wasn’t a type of conversation that she had been expecting. It had been intense, very intense. Out of the eight years of their friendship, that specific conversation had to be the most intense she’s ever encountered. So to say, she hadn’t expected that it would go the way it did. Especially since she had expected that out of all people, that Rapunzel would be the one person to understand what she was going through. And especially why she had brought that kind of conversation up in the first place.

‘He’s only thinking about himself.’ Rapunzel’s voice echoes harshly in her eardrums. ‘He’s only offering because he thinks he can take advantage of the fact that you’re sick so that he can take care of his own sexual needs.’

Moana didn’t let Maui pick her up from work this time. Instead, she had told him that she would be taking the bus home. She never explained to him why, but she didn’t have to. She needed the time to herself to think about a lot of things. Thankfully, Maui himself was already aware of that. Seeing as he knew that the temporary separation had to do with their awkward encounter that had taken place right on that couch.

‘But….he just doesn’t seem like he would do something like that.’ She could hear her own voice this time. An attempt to reason with her best friend. ‘It was the way how he asked me. It was….genuine.’

‘That doesn’t matter, Mo!’ There was Rapunzel’s voice cutting in yet again. ‘He’s still a man! Men will do and say anything to charm their way into your pants!’

(Do they?)

(Do they really?)

‘Don’t let him think that he can take advantage of you like that!’ Maybe he won’t. ‘It’s not worth it!’ What if it was?

All she really knew was that whatever tension was lingering between her and Maui, it was her job to put an end to it. Let bygones be bygones and just move on from it.

So when Maui returns home that night, she was quick to find him in the kitchen. His back had been turned towards her while he was searching for whatever he could find in the fridge. It was more of an advantage for her though, when she casually strolls up behind him and wraps her arms around his middle (well, as much as his figure would allow her to) and hugs him from behind.

Her actions shocked him, having expected that he would receive the cold shoulder yet again. But that the same time, with her head rested against his back, he wasn’t complaining. The feel of her body pressed up against his, there was definitely nothing he needed to be complaining about. It wasn’t anything like ‘oh, I thought you were still mad at me’ kind of thing. It was the usual greeting he was used to (“Hey Curly.” – “Hey Maui.” A kiss to his cheek – “How was work?” – “Work was work, you?” – “Same. Nothing really new.”). At least when they spoke, things seemed to okay. For Maui’s sake, he hoped to the Gods that things were going back to normal.

Thankfully their small talk wasn’t bad. The usual ‘work sucks’ or ‘work is stressing me out’ was allowing the tension to begin dissolving. Especially with how Moana had been chatting animatedly. Almost as if the events that occurred a few nights prior seemed to have escaped from her mind. Things seemed like they were beginning to quell down.

Keyword being seemed.

Dinner went a lot better that evening.

For some reason, it was Maui who suggested that breakfast for dinner would be a good idea. And it was Moana who had eagerly accepted. It was nothing too fancy. Just some scrambled eggs and turkey bacon to fry, along with two glasses on freshly squeeze orange juice to add to the picture. Things had seemed to be more at ease for them.

Laughs were exchanged. Playful banters made an appearance here and there. And the deep, knowledgeable conversations were what made the air around them fee lighter. Much lighter. Even when they were cleaning dishes together, it was as if everything had gone back to normal.

But there was something else that needed to be added to the equation.

“Listen,” He tells her later that evening, presenting her with a steaming cup of peppermint tea. Her favorite. She often guzzled that thing down like it was water. He has own cup of coffee in his hand, chewing on his lip as he tried to find the words to speak. “I um…I want to apologize for what I said that night.”

She holds her cup in her hand, then places it back on the counter where she’s sitting. The mug nearly burning her hands. She studies him with a curious look. “You don’t have to apologize, Maui.” She’s honest when she says it.

“But I do.”

Her gaze never left his.

“It was stupid of me to even ask that.” He shakes his head. A pause. “I was stupid.”

She slightly begins to consider him. Slightly. Cradling her mug in her hands after having cooled down a tad bit, the blanket of steam simmered.

“I didn’t mean to offend you, Moana.” There’s guilt in between those words. “And for that, I’m sorry.” And he means it. “I’m very sorry.” He shuts his eyes and mentally punches himself in the head. “I’m such an ass.”

“You’re not an ass.”

He slowly lifts open his lids. “I am.”

“No.” She shakes her head. “You’re not.”

He studies her. His brows furrowed. “I just…I don’t want there to be anymore awkward tension between us.”

She offers him a smile. “And there won’t be.” She reaches out her hand and gently places it amongst his forearm. “Honest.”

His eyes venture down to their hands. Her tiny hand enveloped with his large one. The warmth from her skin blanketing his own. And he could feel the radiation seeping into the depths of flesh and sinking all the way down to his bones. A loud gulp was all he managed to find. It didn’t take long for his eyes to finally meet hers. The brown orbs that stared into his a portrait of beauty, innocence and honesty.

It took another kiss to his cheek and another hug to reassure him that there was definitely no more bad blood between them. It was long gone. Time for a fresh start.

“You’re sure?” He asks as he looks down at her. His arms still wrapped around her. There was apprehension still present in his tone.

Another smile from her. She lifts her hand to caress his cheek so sweetly. “I’m sure.” She rises on her tip toes and places another kiss to his already burning cheek. That was three times already. Not that was he was complaining.

They end up on the couch in the family room. The two of them having begun to share more intimate conversations with one another, opening up in ways that neither of them could imagine. It was in that moment that Moana, for the first time in three years, was beginning to develop a strong bond with a man. Though there were still some things that both of them still kept hidden, that was beside the point. There was something about Maui that made her want to press numerous kisses to his mind and soul. He was so genuine. Kind. Honest.

Moana couldn’t help but wonder if Rapunzel’s judge of character had to do with her own insecurities. All she knew was that her best friend had been wrong. So wrong. Maui was nothing like any of the other men that exist in this world.

Especially not like Kristoff.

“Hey Maui, can I ask you something?”

He looks at her. Curious.

“If you had a girlfriend, and you knew she was ill,” She hesitates, fiddling her thumbs, “what would you do?”

He furrows his brow. “What do you mean?”

She looks at him. “I mean,” She tucks a lock behind her ear. “Would you…stay with her? Or…would you just leave her?”

He’s not surprised by her question. It all made sense. He knew why she had asked that. His gaze softens, and sucks in a deep breath before he answers.

“Well, to be honest, I’ve never been in that kind of situation before.” He scratches the back of his neck. “So…I can’t really comment on that.”

She bites down on her lip and averts her gaze from his. “Fair enough.” She shrugs her shoulders.

“But…..”

She looks up.

“That doesn’t mean that I wouldn’t just give up on her.” He answers. “If I were to be in that situation, that is.”

“Oh….” She blinks, stunned by his words. “…Really?”

He nods. “Really.”

She hesitates, and then asks, “So….are you saying that,” A pause, “that you wouldn’t-“

“Leave her?” She bites her lip and nods. “Not a chance.”

“Yea?”

“Of course.”

There was something about his words that seemed comforting. Protective almost. But most of all, it was the determination amongst his features that stood out. And it was the compassion that was stood behind his words.

“If I had a girlfriend, and I knew that she was ill,” He studies her features. “I would do everything I could to help her get through it.”

She swallows. “You would?”

“Absolutely.”

Her lips had gone dry. Her heart rate beginning to increase drastically. She was unable to take her eyes off him, trapping her in his trance. His brown orbs bored into her own, gaze so intense, yet so compassionate, and so kind. And she nearly shudders at the feel of his warm skin coming into contact with hers. She looks down as he takes both of her hands in his, and holds them. She lifts her gaze to meet his.

“I would never leave my girlfriend if I knew she was sick.” She looked at him carefully, considering his words. “Especially if I knew that she needed me.”

He pinches her chin between his thumb and forefinger and tilts her head to look deeper into his eyes. Then he gently pushes her locks back behind her ear. His thumb caressing her cheek sweetly.

“I would never make her think that her illness was her fault.” He could hear her breath hitching in her throat. “Nor would I ever make her feel that she wasn’t good enough.”

His words find a home in her mind. Nestling in her body. Blanketing her soul.

“I would remind her of how beautiful she still is.”

Her bottom lip begins to quiver.

He strokes her cheek. “And I would keep telling her how strong she is.” He studies her closely. “Because I know that she would have it in her to get through this. I know how capable she would be.”

It wasn’t long before Moana could feel her eyes beginning to burn with liquid.

“I wouldn’t see her as being weak.” He frowns at this. “I would see her as a survivor. A warrior.”

The words hit home. Right in the gut.

Moana hadn’t realized that she had let the tears from eyes escape as Maui had used his thumbs to stroke away the tears. Her lower lip was trembling and Maui did nothing but pull her closer towards him, peppering her face with sweet kisses, before he placed a tender kiss on the crown of her head. She hadn’t expected to cry a second time in front of him. Nor did she prepare herself for that powerful speech that Maui had given her.

Every single one of his words leaving her speechless. But yet, they were the exact words she had been waiting to hear.

“It’s okay.” He whispers into her ear. “Everything’s going to be okay.”

They were. Now that she had him in her life.

She looks deep into his eyes. And Moana wasn’t sure what had ignited that burning desire to rise to the surface of her flesh, but the next thing she knew, she was leaning towards him to join their mouths into a warm kiss. And Maui himself did not do anything to stop her.

They wrapped their arms around each other. Devouring one another with more fiery, and more passion than they had ever experienced together. Sure, they had shared some pretty intense kisses before. But this time, they had were taking this to a whole other level. Their tongues danced with each other, teeth sucking and biting the other’s lip. She allowed him access to the inside of her mouth as his tongue had demanded to be let in. The next thing Moana knew, she felt as Maui’s arms gently lifted her from her spot and plopped her down onto his lap so that she was straddling him.

Her arms reached up and tangled around his thick, strong neck. In an instant, she had pulled away and arched up into his broad chest, moaning in the contact of his broad body against her own, before she drew back into his lips. She could nearly feel the slight burn of the coffee he consumed earlier, as it rolled off her tongue and seeped down her throat with every push of his tongue against hers.

His hands wandered her body, reaching under her shirt and she gasped and moaned into his mouth at the feel of his hands coming in contact with her sensitive skin. She presses her body tighter towards his. So tight that he could almost feel the flesh of breasts pressing against his chest. He pulls her closer, his hands encircled around her round derriere, and a soft moan slips past her lips as the bulge growing through the fabric of his pants and presses into her crotch through her beige jeans.

They break the kiss briefly. She hesitantly looked into those brown orbs. The swirls of emotion she was seeing there made me gasp. Lust and desire. However, before she could ponder about it further, he yanked her back to him and covered her mouth with his in a hungry kiss. As their lips crushed together, she felt like she was walking on air. It was magic, the way his lips connected with hers. His mouth was so warm, the caress of his lips softer than she could have imagined and she opened her mouth with another low moan.

A sharp gasp escape once again as her back lands against the cushions. She stares up at him, his hulking figure towering over her little frame. Their breathing was rapid. Panting in exhaustion. Until he leans over her and crashes their lips together. Her fingers run through his curly mane of locks, his lips sucking on her clavicle, his tongue licking and nipping at her neck as she arches her body into his. His hands find purchase on her hips and he pulls her closer. He breaks the kiss, staring into her eyes, noting the apprehension on her features. His gaze is compassionate, softening, and he’s wondering if he should even continue.

She gently places her hands on his face. “Maui….” She whispers, the tone in her voice was the signal he needed.

He reaches downward. His hands fumbling with the belt as he began to undue his pants, and-

BEEP! BEEP! BEEP!

Yet again, the musical chime from his cellphone decides to play referee. Maui was the first to let out a rather loud and frustrated groan as he reluctantly pulls himself off the beautiful goddess laying before him. A loud sigh from her as she quickly sits up, though she’s still panting.

“Work again?”

“Ugh.” Maui tears his phone from his pocket and rolls his eyes. “I just wish they would leave me alone.” He grumbles.

The heat rises to her cheeks as she nervously pushes a strand of hair behind her ear. She casts a quick look downward and quickly adjusts her top. “You have to take it then, I’m guessing.”

He couldn’t bear to face her. Not after what had just happened.

Well, nothing happened. If it hadn’t have been for his damn phone…..

But then again, had it phone not been there, who knows where things would’ve lead to….

“I’ll be upstairs.” She jumps off the couch.

She makes it out of the family room before Maui could even get another word out. And before she knew it, Moana finds herself in her bedroom, closing the door and her back against the door. Her heart beat hammering against her chest. She heaves another loud sigh and runs a hand through her slightly disheveled locks.

She couldn’t believe the thought of what had just happened downstairs in that family room.

She almost had sex.

With Maui.

(Sex?)

Yes! Sex!

What the hell was she thinking? Almost about to have sex! With her roommate!

(Hey very attractive roommate that was….)

How she ended up in that situation? She would never know. After all, it wasn’t like she didn’t enjoy it.

That was the problem.

She had enjoyed it. And she had enjoyed it a lot.

‘Don’t let him think that he can take advantage of you like that.’

There was Rapunzel’s voice again. Warning her about the mistake she would make. Taunting. And as many times the voice in her head was repeating itself, Moana was certain of one thing.

In the end, she just hoped that Rapunzel wouldn’t hate it for it.


 

It’s an odd thing, after having spent the last few minutes tossing and turning in bed that she finds herself at the last place she could even think of. She stares at the door that’s closed shut. His door. At this point, she couldn’t ignore the burning desire inside of her that immediately surfaced. The longing for another body to be pressed up against hers in the most intimate and passionate way possible. They almost had engaged in sexual intercourse on the couch downstairs.

What are you thinking?! Remember what Rapunzel said!

What was she thinking? Really?

Clearly, she was thinking. She was thinking about what her body was craving more so than what her mind was already telling her. After all, he did offer. Really and truly, who the hell would she be to pass up an offer such as that?

You’re crazy….

She refuses to take another second to think as she balls her hand into a fist, raises it and gently knocks on the door. Chewing her bottom lip, her breath hitches in her throat as the door quickly swings open. His hulking silhouette lingering in the doorway, his gaze glossy from the lack of sleep that he couldn’t seem to find. He blinks once, and then another.

“Moana?” His voice is groggy. “What….what time is it?”

She gives a slight shrug. “Midnight.”

“Oh….you couldn’t sleep?”

She presses her lips into a thin line, then slowly shakes her head.

“Is everything okay?”

Her eyes are glossy. Even though it was dim, she could still see the look in eyes. His gaze boring into hers with such intensity that she had suddenly forgotten how to breathe. And immediately, she had imagined herself back in that kitchen. With him. She thought about everything that had almost gone down that very moment. They way how he had kissed her so much with tenderness, the way how his large hands could caress her so sweetly, the swelling and the heat between her trembling legs just as he was mere seconds away from unbuckling his pants and proceeding with the deed that was begging to be done…..

“Moana….”

The larger man was standing right in front of her now. So close that his breath was warm against her tender flesh. Her eyes were instantly locked on his face in the dim light. He stared at her with that same intensity. So many unresolved emotions were flowing between them and before she had a chance to regain her breathing, she felt as his hands found rest against her arms, softly brushing them.

“Yes.”

She let the breathy word tumble out of her mouth like sweet honey seeping through her teeth and softly glazing her taste buds. He looks down at her, brows merging to a frown as his gaze rakes curiously over her much smaller profile.

“Yes what?”

“What you asked me that night.” She stares into his brown orbs. “…When you asked me if…..” A pause. “….if I…wanted you to sleep with me.”

His brows raise. He blinks. “Oh….”

“My….my answer is…yes, Maui.”

Her voice sent shivers down his spine and he had to prevent the deep sigh that wanted to escape. He keeps hands on her arms, his thumbs gently stroking her skin and he could feel the swelling between his legs at the soft sounds of her whimpering. He knew what he wanted. What she wanted. What his body needed. But was he willing to take that step and possibly risk there being more tension between them than there had been before?

‘Don’t do it!’ He curses at himself. ‘You’re better than this! Be a man for crying out loud!’

“Moana,” His voice is low and he heaves a deep sigh, “you don’t…..have to do this, it was a misunder-“

“I want to.”

“But you don’t-“

“I thought about what you said, Maui.” She whispers. There’s longing between each word. “I…thought about it all.” Her gaze is pleading, and her hands then felt purchase on his heavily broad chest. “I’m not going to change my mind.”

‘Think of it this way,’ Eugene’s smug, nonchalant voice rippled through him. ‘You’d be doing her a favor, and you’d be fulfilling your own needs.’ Stupid man. ‘That way, everybody wins and no one gets hurt!’

(You know you want it….)

Taking advantage of a sick woman? That’s just low….even for you!

“Maui….”

Her voice cracks and immediately, there’s grief in her tone. The longing in which she was desperate to feel for the first time in three years. His pectorals rippled underneath her fingers and he would be lying if the feel of her body pressing against his own was not beginning to stir his own needs and desires.

Truth was, he needed it just as much as she did.

They both needed it.

They both craved it.

He moved away slightly to look down at her. More emotion filling his face. It poured into Moana and her body was quick to respond with the heat beginning to rise at the intense eye contact. He leaned forward once again, this time, his forehead and his nose pressed against her own. “Moana, I….I don’t want to do this…..if you’re not comfortable.” As he whispered this, his hot breath hit her lips and she breathed him in, tasting his scent, and the heat continued to rise. She whimpered again, her fingers gently curling the fabric of his t-shirt. “….Are you sure you want to do this?”

He took a deep breath, inhaling her sweet scent as his fingers reached up to thread their way into the hair at the back of her head. She gasped slightly as she felt his other hand going to grasp her waist. Her breathing was beginning to quicken. Right then and there, she knew that she wanted him. And she wanted him badly.

“I want you.” She whispers hoarsely. “I….” She swallows. “I need you.”

I need you….

His hands moved to her cheeks, pulling away slightly to look into her eyes. Her brown orbs beginning to pool with tears, and he has to calm his beating heart at the choice of her words. His thumbs stroke her cheeks. He gulps.

“You’re sure?” He whispers.

“Yes.” She gasps quietly. “I want you. I-I want you…so much.”

Before he could convince himself to think twice about this, it wasn’t long until his thick lips immediately crashed against hers. She could feel his lips moving against hers while one of his hands caressed the back of her neck. Moana was surprised to find that her body was going rigid with surprise as trembles shook her body and the euphoric warmth blossomed within her once more. Moana was breathless with delight as he showered with some kisses that were soft and gentle, and other kisses where it was intense and fierce, each with its own flicker of warmth and passion. For a moment, Maui broke the kiss and drew back again slightly, with Moana whining imperceptibly at the sudden pause. He spent a moment studying her face, wanting to see if there was a chance that she was on the verge of backing out.

But there was none whatsoever.

She had wanted it just as much as he did. They both did.

Moana felt her blush deepen under his scrutiny. The way how Maui was gazing at her, so intense, so sweetly, so lovingly, his eyes softened with tenderness before sparking with something else. He tilted her head to the side and kissed her, his lips demanding. Moana immediately felt a smoldering heat deep within her as Maui’s grip around her waist tightened. Crushing her body to his, gentle yet firm. He slanted her head slightly further, deepening the kiss. And Moana couldn’t seem to stop herself from wanting to join in.

The hands that were on his chest moved up to hang around his neck. He covered his lips with hers and his tongue traced the seam of her lips, and it opened almost instantly. Her tongue welcoming his with her own and they danced together for a few minutes, before wrestling with one another for dominance.

He knew what she wanted. She knew what he wanted. They both knew what the other wanted.

Moana hesitantly breaks her lips away from his, staring into his eyes. Breathless after engaging in a heated make out session. But that was not where it was going to stop. Her hands are around his neck, before they slowly move their way down to his cheeks, and she places a soft kiss to his lips, before her hands move yet again to grasp onto his own.

Refusing to break eye contact, she holds onto his hands, and she slowly pedals backwards, his own feet mirrored hers as he moves in the direction where she’s leading him. Her back lands on the door. The door to her room.

And with one last look, she slowly drags him inside, and quietly shuts the door.

Chapter Text

“….Moana?” He murmured against her lips, his hot breath blanketed her sensitive flesh. Her chest rising and falling with each labored breath. “Are….are you sure you…want this?”

A small whimper tumbled from her lips. “Yes.” Followed by breathy gasp. “…I-I’m sure.”

He considers her for a moment. His gaze searched her brown orbs, caressing her with the look of lust and passion building up with just one stare. And Moana had found it a struggle to keep her breathing to a minimum. In the room with dim lights and shadow, Maui standing close enough for her to breathe in and taste his scent. His arms snake their away around her back and in one gentle pull, their bodies caress one another’s. She feel his hand tangle in her hair, his fingers adoring the softness, watching it tumble as he releases it. Then his hand moves down her cheekbones, then to her lips, tracing the seam with so sweetly, so gentle, so loving. Moana instinctively closes her eyes as she enjoys the feel of his meaty thumb caressing her so softly. She’s melting into his touch, a chill shoots up her spine. Goose flesh rises on her skin through the silky fabric of her robe. A soft cry left her lips and her fingers clung onto his shirt, begging him to proceed with the next step. He sensed her cries, and he brings his lips down to join with hers. The kissing starts and without further warning, they begin to move together like partners in a dance that is written in their DNA. Her arms wrap themselves around his neck, bringing him closer to deepen the kiss. He pulls her closer to him, his intensity growing, matching her own. Their bodies fit together as if they were made just for this. To fall into one another, to feel this natural rhythm building between them.

The intensity of the kiss was building. Becoming fiercer, much like the tightness Maui was feeling in his sweatpants, the gentleness slowly gave way to allow the passion to rise. Moana could feel her heart beating rapidly, growing vigorously as the passion was beginning to take over. It was beating to the point where it almost pained her ribcage. Her mind was screaming out to her, begging her to stop, and that this wasn’t right. But she ignores it. She didn’t she care. The emotions in her body was taking over. She needed this. She craved this. As did Maui. It’s without further warning that he drops to his knees, a sharp gasp leaves her lips as they’re both at equal eye level with one another. Though they both stay wrapped in each other’s embrace. Her eyes glaze over his in wonder, curious, but she’s interrupted as his lips crash against hers yet again. And she does nothing to argue with him. His tongue traced the seam of her lips, and she happily opened them, granting him the access he desired. Her tongue welcoming his and they breathed each other in. She moaned into his mouth, arching her back into his touch.

She let her head tilt back slightly, the sight of her neck on full display for him, and he took that as an invitation for his mouth to attach to her warm flesh. His lips sucked and nipped, his tongue gently tapped against the skin and left a gentle trail beginning from her clavicle and slowly moving up to where her jaw and ear joined. A light, but high-pitched cry was born in her throat, and Maui shivered, feeling his member becoming erect at the sound of her whimper. Knowing that he had located her sweet spot, his mouth continued pleasuring her skin. He sucked on it, and then he began to nibble at the spot. His tongue and his teeth gently nipping and biting. Her gasps became heavy, and her moans became slightly louder. Her body melting into him like warm honey, her fingers gripped his curl tighter, and she chomped on her lower lip, pressing her body tightly towards his. So close that her breasts nearly clutched onto his neck.

“M-maui….” She whimpered.

He was kissing, nipping and biting all the way down from her sweet spot, down to her jawline where his tongue traced and licked the line of her jaw, and back down to her clavicle, interspersing it with a light nibble. Another soft cry slipped past her lips, her breathing growing rapid. The fire in her body ignited and it races to the top like fat, surging through the tissues and puncturing her bones. She holds him close to her, not wanting to let him go. Though she doesn’t want to him, she places both her hands and gently pulls him away from her skin. Their gazes meet once again, he was slightly breathless as his curious look bored into hers. She framed his face with her hands and caresses his cheek with her thumbs. His grip tightened slightly around her waist, and she uses this as an opportunity plant sweet kisses to his forehead, moving to pepper the tip of his nose, and then her lips connect with his.

Maui had no objections. Instead, he himself took this as an opportunity to loosen his hold on Moana and allowed his hands to explore every inch of her delicate body. His large hands traced each curve from her mid-section all the way down to her hips, where his grip tightened slightly, and a sharp gasp tumbled from her lips and fell into his mouth. Once his hands finally reached the curve of her derriere, he couldn’t stop himself from allowing them to caress it. His hands gently clutched onto it, earning another soft yelp from her, which only meant that he was indeed doing his job correctly. He held onto it for a short time, before he felt his fingers massaging it tenderly, caressing her beautifully round bubble gently, and giving it a soft squeeze through the silky fabric of her robe. She moans into his mouth, the feeling being so foreign to her. She melts against him, the feel of his large hands caressing her buttocks only provoked the liquid between her legs to emanate.

He gently pushes her backwards so that her heels meet the foot of the bed. Her fingers claw at his shirt, tugging and pulling. He knew what she wanted. So after he breaks away from the kiss, he answers he demand by grabbing the hem of his old t-shirt, pulls it over his head and tosses it to the floor. His gaze settles on hers, noting the way how her eyes widened, her jaw dropped to the ground and her breath was hitched in her throat. Maui had to admit that it had been a while since a woman took the time to admire his large and toned physique. And frankly, he missed it.

And for Moana, well, that was different story.

She sucked in a sharp breath, her lips going dry as his shirtless torso was exposed to her. She tried not to gawk, but it was hard for her to do considering the fact that she was so mesmerized by his large physique. It was definitely nothing like she’s ever seen before. His body was drool-worthy. His pectorals were broad and chiseled, his biceps extremely larger now than when he’s wearing his blouses. Through the dim light, she caught glimpses of the dark ink painted on his beautiful skin. His abdominals were sculptured to perfection as his six-packs pop, instantly giving off the impression that he came out of one of those body building photo shoots. Her eyes roamed over his person, tracing and outlining every single muscle that protruded from his skin. He looked even more gorgeous without a shirt. Sucking on her lower lip, her tiny hands immediately felt purchase on his chest, and she shivered as his pectoral rippled underneath her fingers.

Unexpectedly, his hand drifted to her hip. It settled there and pulled her closer. She inhaled sharply. She was against his warm chest, chiseled to perfection. He began nuzzling her neck with delicate kisses. So faint, they were whispers. Her limp body began to tremble uncontrollably. His hands massage her hips softly, and as they slowly travel upwards, his hands immediately find her breasts. Moana realizes this, feeling his fingers trying to prod open the seam of her robe. Without even thinking, she gently pushes him away, and Maui recognizes the look of apprehension merging onto her features. He blinks rapidly, feeling stupid for having talked her into this.

“I-I’m sorry.” His voice cracks. There’s worry in his tone. “I was going too fast. Moana, if you don’t want to do this-“

“It’s…not that, Maui…” She whispers.

“…You’re sure?”

She nods.

He furrows his brow. “Then, what’s wrong?” His voice is soft.

She bites her lip. And suddenly, her mind became consumed with those unpleasant images. The images of her body. Her skin. Everything. On the one hand, she did want this. God, she needed it. But the question remains; what would Maui think? Would he be attracted to her body? Or would the mere sight of it disgust him like she feared?

“Moana, we don’t have to do this-“

“No.” She shakes her head, teeth sinking into her lower lip. “I-I want this….” Her voice cracks. “I-I’m just…I-I’m scared…”

He can see her eyes becoming glossy. The tears began to well up inside of them. He immediately leans forward to capture her lips in his, slow and tender. His tongue caressing her mouth, as she did with his. And she lets out a soft moan, and a quiet whimper. He pulls away, and places a kiss to her forehead.

“Don’t be scared.” He murmurs against her skin.

She chokes on the sob that was now wedged in her throat. “…I-I am…”

She feels his large hands framing her little face, his thumbs caressed her cheeks. He stares at her, their gazes lingering with one another. Her chest heaves with each breath she takes.

“Why are you scared?”

She tries to avert her gaze, but his hands hold her face in place.

“..You’ll think…that I’m…u-ugly.”

Her answer shocks him. “Moana….why-“ He cuts himself off. “Why would you-“

“Because….” She whimpers, her lips tremble. “I-“

“Shh.”

He places another kiss to her forehead. His lips finds hers again, and the kiss intensifies. Moans and whimpers pour of her lips. His hands find her breasts again, and a sharp gasp tumbles from her mouth. Her body stiffens under his touch, but he ignores it. Her body shivers as his fingers trace the seam of her robe, but she doesn’t stop him. His skin tickles hers and his hands finally reach the knot that’s shielding her body from his. She focuses on the movement of his tongue dancing with hers, trying her best to ignore the knot that was mere seconds from being untied. She gasps as the seam of her robe is pulled open, eye cast downwards as she feels his fingers reaching up to her shoulders and pushes the robe entirely off her body as the fabric slides to the ground and puddled around her feet.

There she stood, bare to the heated air. She still remained in her panties.

He lets out a quiet gasp at the sight of her.

Immediately, she averts her gaze to the side, her hands go to shield her breasts, to shield her body from his eyes. The last thing she wanted was to cause him some sort of distaste. And standing in front of a man, with her chest bare, Moana suddenly remembered why it was that she could never bring herself to sleep with any other man again. Proof that her illness had permanently marked her skin. And it was the mix of emotions she felt beginning to boil up and inside of her. She bites her tongue, trying to hold the tears that threatened to leave her eyes. And that's when she can't hold them back. First, one small crystal bead escapes from her right eye. She can feel the warmth, sliding down her cheek, and rolling off her chin. Then another. And another. Until her eyes flood with them, coming like a rainfall. Sniffing every ten seconds, they fall, and fall, and she lets them.

“Hey…” He coos in her ear, his breath hot against her skin. “Why are you crying?”

She can’t find the words to answer. All she can focus on is the fact that the distance between them became nonexistent. His skin and pressed against hers and his hands were still holding her waist. She shuts her eyelids and lets a choked moan mixed with a mewl slide through her teeth. Her hands are still clutching onto her breasts, desperate to shield them from his sight. She couldn’t let him see her body like this. Especially with the shape that it was in.

His lips pepper her ear with soft kisses. Her teeth sink deeper into the flesh of her bottom lip. She tries to suppress the moan that’s begging to be released, but she ends up losing. As his lips seemed to be distracting her, she feels as her hands are being pulled apart from her chest. And surprisingly, she does nothing to stop him from doing so.

Her face stand between his large hands, as he gently turns her head to face him. His thumbs caress away the tears from her cheeks so sweetly, and this forces her to lift her eyelids. His gaze catches hers for what felt like eternity. Her vision is blurred as the salty liquid cascades down her cheeks. And when he pulls back slightly to stare at her bare form, she suddenly feels ashamed, and another sob was born in her throat, though it doesn’t pour out like she feared. His hands slowly drag down from her face, to rub her bare shoulders, trailing softly down her arms, until they find rest on her hips. His eyes dragged up and down her body, taking in every part of her.

To him, her body was perfect. Her legs were nice and toned, her hips were even more impressive. No doubt that she had the perfect hips to bare children one day. They way how her mid-section was smaller than her waist, giving her the perfect hourglass figure.

That is, until his eyes finally reach her bare breasts.

He swallows. Nothing the way how her body was shaking, her lips were trembling and the tears staining her eyes. But that wasn’t the thing that caught his attention. His eyes widened slightly, focusing at her breasts that stood out to him. They were not like any that he’s ever seen. No, they were different. Proof that her illness had gotten hold of her body.

“I-I….” Her voice wavers, and the sob is mere seconds from tumbling out. “I-I’m sorry…” More tears spill downwards. “T-they’re…..ugly…”

He looks at her for a few moments. Then his eyes travel back down to her breasts. He takes in the patch of the orange colored texture of skin surrounding her breasts, the dim light casts a hazy glow around it that makes it stand out. Her right breast is slightly larger than her left, proof that there was swollen and irritated blood tissue present. But her left breast’s nipple was pointed inwards instead of the other way around. And it suddenly becomes clear to Maui on why she was feeling so self-conscious. She was afraid that the sight of her body would repulse him. But that wasn’t the case at all.

His gaze catches hers again. And Maui could only feel compassion welling up inside of him at the tear filled eyes that stared back at him. He bites his lip, and he slowly brings his hands up, letting out a low growl as her body shivers under his touch to stroke the skin where her ribcage was located. He brings his forehead to hers, and he places a tender kiss to her lips.

“No….” He murmurs against her lips. “They’re not.”

She could only answer with a whimper. And she gasps sharply as both his hands capture the cells of her breasts. Her breath is hitched in the hollow of her throat, and another mewl escapes, along with more tears.

“Shh….” His breath is hot against her ear. “Relax, it’s alright.”

She stands there. Body rigid. Despite the hot stream of tears flowing down her cheeks. She closes her eyes, a husky sigh from her lips hits his ear, and she forces herself to at least try and enjoy the attention he was giving her. Instinctively, her hands find rest on his forearms, while his are at work. Her body is tense underneath his touch, and she chokes on a sob as his hands cup her breasts. He massages each of them with equal gentleness, his thumbs dragging over her nipples and he kept repeating the same motion, rather enjoying having the flesh of her breasts in his hands. He rests his forehead against hers.

“They’re beautiful.”

Another whimper. “M-Maui….”

“Shh….”

Without a second thought, he presses his lips to her neck and peppers her skin with soft kisses, earning a small moan from her. She presses her lips into a thin line, stifling another moan that wanted to escape. But she couldn’t. So she lets herself enjoy the feeling of his hands massaging her breasts. Her body basking in the lust and passion this man was giving to her. And another gasp slips loose, as Maui’s lips begin to descend down her body with wet kisses and precise licks, leaving her impotent with his touch and his caresses.

His touch begins to intensify slightly. His hands groping and digging into the skin of her breasts a tad bit harder than she was expecting. But Moana had known that the symptoms of her illness had unfortunately caused her breasts to feel more tender than usual. They had grown a lot more sensitive to the tiniest touch. Even when she puts on her bra in the mornings, she has to remember to be gentle. But Maui was unaware. And frankly, it seemed like he was allowing the passion to take over a little too quickly.

It’s when his fingers give her nipple a tiny squeeze, that an acute gasp, followed by a tiny cry projects from the base of her throat. He pulls away from her quickly, her eyes shoot open as a sharp sting races to the tissue of the flesh surrounding her breast. She’s panting, and the look of horror masks his face as he realized that he went a little too rough.

“….T-they hurt…”

“Moana.” He quickly releases his grip on her chest, much to her disappointment. “I-I’m sorry, I went too hard, I-“

“No.” She whimpers and grabs his hands. “P-please….I-I need this.”

“But Moana-“

“Maui, please.” The desperation is evident in her tone. “I-I want this. I n-need you.”

Maui swallows. His hands are being guided by hers, but he doesn’t take his eyes off her own. She forces his hands to cling onto her breasts and her body shudders underneath his touch. Despite the pain and insecurities that were running about inside of her, behind those tears, he was captivated by the lust and compassion that was staring back at him. She holds his hands in place, worried that he might disperse from her flesh, and all she could do was nod.

He finds mercy within himself, and leans forward to kiss and lick and the bone in the center between her breasts. His lips left a wet trail on the bone. And when they hover over her right breast, he pauses for a brief moment, before either of them had a chance to think, his mouth had captured her nipple. The contact caused what sounded like a sharp gasp and delicate moan that was so sweet - like hearing a soothing melody ringing through his eardrums – suggesting the sensation was entirely foreign to her, but it felt right. So right.

His long, broad tongue played with her nipples, tasting them with an almost animal grunt. Using his hand to cover her other breast, massaging and kneading, and she feels the sudden urge to cover her hand with his and join him in the circular motion. His touch so gentle, so warm, she could feel the liquid between her legs beginning to soak through her panties and trail downward, and she throws her head back. She marveled at the feel of his mouth suckling her heated flesh so tenderly, tongue twirling and flicking her sensitive nipple, more salty liquid flows down her cheeks and she grants herself the privilege of letting out another moan. She felt the vibration of his moan against her chest, his breath blanketing her heated skin that sent shivers down her spine. The ecstasy rose within her body, and she melted against him like sweet honey.

"So beautiful." He snarled against her skin before nibbling on her nipple until it hardened in his teeth. He kissed and licked it to calm it down and proceeded down her chest kissing every curve of her skin, until eventually, his tongue found her navel, and he kissed, nipped and twirled his tongue around it. Her fingers find their way into the curls of his mane, and slightly arches her body into his mouth, keeping his head in place so that he doesn’t disperse from her body any time soon.

His mouth travels back up to her neck, where he swirls tongue around the base of her bone. His hands part from her breasts almost unwillingly, until they travel back down to rest on her hips, before they find their way to the curve of her buttocks and without a second thought, he lifts her up from the ground and she yelps in surprise as she feels her feet leaving the ground and she instinctively wrapped her legs around as far as she could around his broad waist.

Thankfully, the bed was right behind them, so he wasted no time in gently lays her down onto the mattress. He slowly climbs onto the bed and lowers himself slightly, making sure to place his hands on either side of her head and use them to support his weight. He pauses from his actions, taking a moment to admire the beauty laying underneath him. His eyes found hers, and she’s panting as she looks up at him.

Her hair laid in disarray on the bed around her head. Her eyes were wet. The tears flowed unchecked out of the corners of her eyelids and dripped to the fabric of the covers. She was too sad to cry out or wail, she just laid there as still as a statue while the magnitude of her illness and loss for intimacy swept over her. Maui felt that his dry face was an insult to the woman withering underneath him. His gaze travels down to the view of her bare chest, the mounds of her breasts rising up and down so swiftly with each intake of breath.

His instincts kicked in, and he guides his hand to her cheek, his thumb wiping her tears. He swallows, pushing past the lump in his throat that had suddenly made an appearance. Watching the streams of tears flow freely out of her eyes, it’s the first time that Maui is seeing her true colors poor out. His eyes hang onto hers, and he sees her. He does. He sees the pain in those eyes. He sees that that it has sat there for her life time, trapped in the confusion in which not only, she but even he himself and everyone else carries. He sees the all the hurt and desperation in which she has tried so hard to cover up with a simple smile and that adorable laugh he’s grown to love. It was different seeing her from the headstrong, independent and loveable woman she was, to the woman that concealed so much pain withering beneath him. And seeing her like this only caused the feeling in his heart to ache at the sight of her.

With the hand on her cheek, he angles her face toward him and he brings his lips down to hers. And she was eager to welcome his kiss. Their lips mingled and parted together, and the world fell away. Slow and soft, comforting in ways that words would never be. His hand rested below her ear, his thumb caressing her cheek as their breaths mingled. She reaches up to stroke her fingers up and down the backs of his shoulder blades, pulling him closer until there was no space left between them and she could feel the beating of his heart against her chest. His bare chest meets her breasts, and their bodies shiver at the sudden contact of warm skin against the other. His hand moves to tangle his fingers in her locks while their tongues are licking the inside of each other’s mouths.

Maui cuts off the kiss and again, and his tongue declines down her body. His hands following. His kisses becoming wetter as he sucks on the skin of her breast bone, earning an urgent moan from her lips. Moana closes her eyes, relishing in the pleasure his mouth was giving her flesh. His hands cling onto her hips as he continues sucking on the bone of her hip. He pauses briefly from his actions when his fingers come in contact with the waistband of her panties. And it’s without a second thought, that Moana suddenly gasps as she feels his fingers digging into the elasticity that’s holding her panties on her body. His body disconnects from hers, a whine is out of her mouth before she could catch it, the sudden coldness surrounding her skin as he pulls away from her. He’s resting on his knees and Moana has to chomp her lower lip, her body shaking and trembling as the fabric of her undies are being parted from her. And just like that, she was completely bare to the heated air. A sob is born in her throat as she chokes on it.

Maui leans back slightly farther as he takes in the breathtaking sight laying beneath him. His eyes slowly dragged over her body, taking in every inch, and every curve of her, drinking her in. His mouth goes dry and he gulps loudly. Her naked body lying in front of him was everything that he imagined. She was different from a lot of the women he’s slept with in the past. Sure, he’s seen naked bodies of various shapes and sizes. Some skinny and boney, some were slim and athletic, curvy, even on the thick side. But Moana was different. Different in a good way of course.

Her naked body was beautiful, supple, and succulent. There was a rawness to her that he appreciated. So honest and vulnerable. Instinctively, his hands go to her hips, rubbing and stroking them. The scent between her legs was inviting, sweet and beckoning. With Moana, beginning to feel even more self-conscious at the fact that here she lay, completely naked in front of a man for the first time in two years, she covers her face with her arms, and her body begins to rack with the quiet sobs that had somehow managed to release themselves.

“Hey, hey….” His voice is soft, husky, as he goes to gently remove her arms from her face. He stares down at her and watches as her mouth trembles and her face is stained with tears. He leans down to press a kiss to her mouth. “You are….absolutely stunning.” Her murmurs against her lips.

She answers with a choked sob, his hands now pinning her wrists above her head and he holds her there. She tries to ignore the tears, but the more tender he is being with her, the more her pent up emotions begin to poor out of her. And she couldn’t stop herself from doing so. He’s silencing her sobs with tender kisses. And then his mouth finds her breasts, clinging onto the most sensitive one. His tongue finds what’s left of her nipple that’s inverted inward, dipping and sucking into it. His mouth is warm on her flesh, and his other hand goes to cover the other breast. His tongue flicked and twirled around her sensitive nipple at the same time he pinches the other with his thumb and forefinger. Moans poor from Moana’s mouth as she arches her back in pleasure, her fingers going to bury themselves into the mane of his curls, which did nothing but begin to arouse him even further. Proof that he was doing his job correctly.

He had made sure to spend a good amount of time loving and adorning her breasts with both his mouth and his hand. His other hand massaging and caressing her right breast, while his mouth and tongue licked and sucked on her left. Moana couldn’t remember the last time that her body had been given so much affection and pleasure. All she knew was that it had been a good while, feeling like it had been a decade since she was able to feel what it’s like to have a man’s naked body pressed up against hers.

His mouth parts with her left breasts almost unwillingly, but his hand replaces it as he gently uses them to massage both her breasts. His thumbs are dragging slowly over her hardened nipples, and Moana stifles a sweet moan, arching into his touch. Maui watches carefully and with lust at her head tilting backwards, the expanse of her neck is on display, her jaw hanging open as quiet whimpers escape from the base of her throat. Her body begging for more. He would be lying if he said that the near sight of her twitching and trembling in his touch didn’t excite him. She looked so beautiful when he gave her the pleasure that she craved.

His hands slowly part from her breasts mournfully and nearly cried out when they left her skin. Her body jerks slightly as his fingers lightly caress the skin of her inner thighs. She could feel him watching her, but her eyelids remain closed as she convinces herself to adore the attention her body was getting. His touch was gentle and her body shivered with each stroke. Instinctively, Moana couldn’t stop the sudden urge to slowly open her legs up wider, which granted him more access to pleasure her in the way that she needed him to do. Maui watches as her body trembles with delight, and he uses this as an opportunity to bring one of her legs to his mouth and plant soft kisses to her thigh. Licking and sucking so gently, she mumbles incoherent words.

Then his gaze finally meets the one thing that they were both desperate for.

Her womanhood stares at him. Begging to him to give it the loving that it needs. He had to find mercy within himself to resist the urge not to immediately put his face between her legs and attack her clitoris with his tongue. No matter how much he wanted to, he talks himself out of it. This woman was different from the rest. She was special. And Maui found himself, for once, wanting to think about her pleasures and what she needed from him.

Tonight would be all about her.

Maui find himself swallowing a large lump down his throat. The sight of her pinkish and reddish cocoon provoked his fingers to guide themselves toward her. She gasps at the feeling of his thumb brushing against her soft folds. Maui uses his finger to stroke the entrance of her opening, while his thumb circles her clitoris. And Moana finds herself groaning and writhing at his touch. That was the confirmation he needed to keep continuing. And so he did. He uses his other hand to grab hold of her leg and gently pulls it farther from the other, and his fingers get back to work. They play with the lips surrounding her entrance, circling and stroking. His gaze never left her form. He’s watching her with intense hunger and lust, noting the passion that’s igniting in her body. Her hands stretch to the side, fingers digging into the fabric of her the covers surrounding her and she grabs hold of it.

Her eyes screw shut tightly as his thick finger eventually enters through her folds and finds their temporary home in the warm depths of her womanhood. She could feel the slightly stretching of her skin, but she ignores the tiny pain and instead decides to focus on the pleasure of it all. A strangled cry rises from the back of her throat, and her body arches upward. He licks his lips at the sight of her, noting how she’s calmed down and is enjoying every minute of pleasure that she’s receiving. His finger pumps in and out of her gradually beginning to pick up the pace just a tiny bit. She’s panting louder and heavier than she did before, and eventually, his thick finger curls insides of her and is able to locate that sweet spot that she hadn’t realized that she had.

She cried and her body shook. Eyes are wired shut and her mouth opened to form an O as she clung and pulled at the covers. He watches her from below, pumping his digit inside of her and he sees as she’s about to reach her climax for the first time in what seemed like forever.

“M-maui!” She cries in a hoarse tone.

The wetness between her legs and the juices that coated his fingers eventually gushed out of her and her she feels her body beginning to come down from her orgasm. Her body collapses, meeting the mattress as she feels her muscles spasming. He leans forward to hover over, his hands clutching onto her hips and he plants her face with sweet kisses to calm her down. Her now shaky hands goes to curl their way in the jungle of his mane. And though she feels slightly weak, she kisses him back with urgency. The kiss began to intensify, his mouth nibbles on her lower lip and a soft whimper meets his tongue.

He pulls away, his fingers fumbling to rid himself of his pants. Pretty soon, his pants were tossed across the room, and he watches her as her eyes are peeled to his with lust as slowly pulls off his trousers and lets it drop to the ground. He gulps as her eyes have widened, and soft gasp slips through her teeth. His member is now free, out in the open, and the erection that surging through his body and reaches the tip of his manhood is now standing tall and proud. Eager to partake in the delicious activity that it was here to do.

He was large. Like the rest of his body. Larger than any man that roamed the Earth.

Especially considering the fact that this was the first time in two years where she had ever been this close to a man.

And the feeling scared her.

He can see the apprehension painted on her features. And just in the blink of an eye, that apprehension transitioned to a look of fear. His member stared back at her, waiting for her approval. She can feel the sweat drench her skin, the throbbing of her own eyes, the ringing screams vibrating in her ears, and the thumping of her heart against her chest. Her fingers are curled into a fist, nails digging into her palm. She couldn’t hear her rapid breathing beginning to grow, but she can feel the oxygen flooding in and out of her lungs. Hesitantly, her eyes look at his member. No doubt that a man his size is used to getting his way. Especially when it came to taking charge in the bedroom.

Would he hurt her?

She didn’t know. And frankly, the sudden fear she’s feeling inside of her overwhelms her body, making it drastically exhausted. Her gaze continuously darts from his member, to the eyes of the hulking man hovering above her petite frame, and back down to the broad shaft ogling back at her. And without further warning, a lone tear traced down her cheek, and Maui’s face immediately transitions to a portrait of stony fear.

He’s fucked up. He knows he has.

With a loud gulp, he slowly leans over her, pressing his forehead to hers and breathing in her scent. His hand goes to stroke her hair tenderly, and he whispers, “we don’t have to do this if you don’t want to.” He means it. Because the last thing he ever wanted to do was to cause her any sort of discomfort.

His voice blankets her face, sending warmth through her body. The sincerity between his words were so genuine, so sweet, so caring, it was the confirmation she needed that he wasn’t only in this for himself. But more importantly, he was doing this for her.

She whimpers softly, and places her hands on his cheeks. “…I want this…”

“Moana,” He moans with her. “A-are you sure-“

“I’m sure.” She lets out a breathy sigh. “I-I want you….please….”

He considers her words. Pulling back slightly to search her gaze. Though her face was stained with tears, something told him that these weren’t tears that signified any kind of fear. No. These tears, they were different. And for Maui, as a man who was known to always take control and have his own way in the bedroom with many women, Moana was different. So different.

It was her nod that gave him that granted the approval that he needed.

He hesitates, staring down at her delicate form beneath him. His fingers stroke her hair, while his thumb caresses away the never ending tears. Instinctively, she slowly spreads her legs open farther, allowing him the opportunity to nestle himself between her. The sudden contact of their bare bodies warmed her skin, and she lets out a soft moan mixed with a tiny gasp. He positions himself at her entrance, coating the head of his member with her juices as they meet her slick folds, and with a sharp intake of breath, he slowly pushes inside of her. He watches how the way her eyes screw shut, her fingers now digging into the beef of his shoulders, and she chomps onto her lower lip to supress the cry that’s lodged in the base of her throat, the stretching of her skin becoming more intense than she remembered.

He pauses briefly, feeling horrible of the sudden he was causing her, but when she whines softly, that was the confirmation he needed to proceed further. He keeps pushing, slowly but surely, feeling as his large member gently traversed the ring of her entrance, and the barrier that was there instantly disappeared with shot of pain. A cry is born in her throat, a cry of pain. He instantly stops, rubbing her hair gently, the tears cascading out of her eyes, and she writhed underneath him. Gasping, crying and panting in the crook of his neck. It had been so long since she’s been with a man, and having been with Kristoff definitely did not prepare her for this level of intimacy.

“Moana,” She’s gasping, her chest heaving, “Look at me….please…”

She doesn’t. Instead, she settles on listening to the sound of his gentle voice.

“Hey….” He whispers, planting a tender kiss to the base of throat, then to the corner of her mouth, and then to her forehead. She calms down slightly at the feel of his lips, though eyelids remain closed. “A-am I hurting you?”

She tries to shake her head ‘no’. Because truth be told, he wasn’t. Despite the sudden pain her body had just rediscovered. The way how he filled her was foreign, yet it was so right. It was just what she needed.

“…do you want to do this?”

Her hips gyrate against his, though she hisses at the pain that joins in with the sudden movement. She needed more of him. She need him so much.

“We’ll go slow.” He whispers almost nervously. “I’ll be gentle, okay?” He places another kiss to her forehead. “I promise.

He slowly pulls out of her, eliciting a moan that was so sweet and desperate, she almost whined at the sudden with drawl. But when pushes himself back in so gently, Moana felt her body gradually beginning to adjust to him being inside of her. Her hands are still on his shoulders, and he places his hands on either side of her head, finger clawing into the thin fabric of her covers. Taking one last moment to gaze at her delicate and petite little body withering beneath his, he manages to find a steady rhythm, enjoying the way that the inside of her was so slick and tight, that it gripped him in the proper way. I felt right. Just right.

Their hips join together, and he moves tenderly in and out of her. Her cries of pain graduated to the sounds of long, and sensual moans. After a few moments, Moana was able to discover a wave of immense pleasure surging through her entire being, and it swept down her spine, her back arching with a groan of ecstasy. It was everything she needed.

Maui sensed the way how her body was relaxing, but he never took of his off her features. He found himself enjoying the way her face portrayed the pleasure he was giving her. He stroked her in places that she never would’ve imagined, and she could feel her juices overflowing, and Maui lets out a soft growl at the way how she was warm against his flesh.

As he’s thrusting into her, his hips gradually beginning to pick up the pace, she could feel his large member bumping into her inner walls, making her groan and gasp. Her body moves with his, the heat in her body radiated throughout her entire being. Her instincts begin to kick in, and she hooks her heels onto the backs of his thighs, forcing him deeper inside of her. His gaze travels from her face, to the way how her breasts moved and bounced with each thrust, to where they were connected. She was so small, and tiny compared to him, and how she managed to in almost every inch of him was something that he couldn’t help to enjoy.

He picks up the pace even more, the mattress beginning to move with their bodies. Her moans were pleasuring him in ways that he couldn’t even imagine. And for Maui, it was the first time that he was growing to enjoy pleasuring a woman. For once, she was in control, and he was fine with that. He leans forward, pressing his forehead to hers as he’s thrusting into her, and he captures her lips in his. Eliciting another sweet moan. Her fingers find their way into his hair, and she holds him close to her. Basking the movement and pleasure his body was giving her.

It didn’t take long, until Moana began to feel the slow desolate tears running from her unblinking eyes and dripping steadily onto the bed. She groans into his mouth, her ankles sticking to the backs of his knees with every movement and her nails dug into the mane of his curls whenever his member got into her body unmercifully.

“You’re so beautiful.” She feels him murmur against her trembling lips. She wraps her arms around his neck, and lets out what sounded like a moan and a cry.

Pretty soon, the tears burst forth like water from a dam, spilling down her face. She feel the muscles of her chin tremble like a small child. His words. His body pleasuring her in ways that she couldn’t even imagine. And the fact that he was being so gentle and so caring with her, only enticed the emotions she had kept bottled in her for so long to poor out of her. The intimacy she had been craving was exactly what she needed. For some reason, as much as this was about the sex, to Moana, this didn’t feel like something that was just ‘sex’.

No. This was different.

Much different. So different.

The way how her body meshed so well together with Maui’s told her that this was indeed much deeper than sex. Had she been with another man, he would’ve just taken advantage of her and only focused on pleasing himself. But with Maui, he was so different. The way how his body filled hers was so genuine, so sweet, and so loving. But it was mainly the fact that a man like him was willing to give her what she had always wanted.

And she couldn’t help but cry.

And for Maui, the feeling was mutual.

Her salty tears meet his tongue, and this entices him to thrust harder into her. Though he’s gentle, but fierce. The both of them wanting more. Needing more of each other. She ended up cutting the kiss, out of breath and buried her head in the crook of his neck, letting him take her again and again with fury, sinking into the depths of her being.

Without any advance warning, she gasps as her body is removed from the soft mattress beneath and is placed on his lap, with him still inside her. He holds her, his grip on her waist gentle and his gaze meets hers. Her eyes are glossy from the tears that cascade down her cheeks, her breathing is short and heavy, blowing in spurts amongst his warm flesh. She closes her eyes at the feel of his hand tenderly wiping away the tears and she leans into his touch, though more tears still leak from her body. His lips find hers, kissing her tenderly, and her lips move equally with his. Tongues wrestling for dominance, and his teeth finds her lower lip, allowing a little nibble which only causes quiet moans to spill from her mouth.

Their bodies pressed together, warm flesh amongst one another. The perspiration from their nightly activity melding together as one. Their heart beats in sync and another moan left her lips. He holds her close, fingers digging into the meat of her hips, and they slide higher towards her torso. His fingers traced the outline of her ribs, and they once again meet the tender cells of her breasts. A moan rings in his eardrum, his thumbs massaging, kneading and dragging over her hardened nipples and his mouth captures one of them again. Licking, flicking and adorning her breast, while the other hand kneads and massages the other. She chokes on a sob, her hands instinctively framing his face as she forces her body to grind against his mouth, enjoying the never ending attention he was giving to her sensitive breasts.

His hand found her hip, and his other gently went to grab the back of her head as his mouth once again found hers, and he resumed his thrusting. It wasn’t like he was only focusing on the enjoyment for himself. He thought about her too, carefully and slowly. And the tender moans and cries that resonated in his ears was the confirmation he needed that he was indeed doing his job correctly. And he was glad for that. Pretty soon, his own moaning matched with hers, and hers only ascended a few octaves higher than his.

She nestled her head in the crook of his neck, and he could feel the hot tears sticking to his skin. He kissed her clavicle, his tongue leaving a warm trail amongst the bone underneath her skin. Once the passion took over, he began thrusting faster and deeper. All Moana could do in return was revel in the feel of him moving inside of her. She basked at the feeling of his rhythm being in sync with hers. And she moaned his name, the sob that was wedged in her throat made its grand entrance and it only enticed him to thrust harder.

She dug her fingers into skin of his shoulder blades, her body clinging desperately to his as she bounced up and down on his lap while he took over. Riding the waves of pleasure that soared within her system, she cried out in a mixture of delight and sorrow. Hearing her cries tremoring amongst his flesh, he grabbed the back of her head again and brought his lips to hers while he maintained his thrusting. Skin slapping against skin and she cried into his mouth, the taste of salty liquid meeting his taste buds as she curled her fingers in his hair and moved her lips with his just as eagerly.

Hungry for the taste of each other.

With their mouths still linked together, he used his other hand to reach down between her legs and locate her sweet spot, knowing that it would drive her over the edge. So he did. His thumb rubbing her clitoris in rapid circles. And finally, she reached her climax as she let out a loud moan, and melded against him.

“Maui!”

He growled against her mouth, coming to his own sweet release as his movements came to an end. The tension melted from their muscles, oozing out of their systems and they basked in the peak of intimacy. He had released himself inside of her, Moana moaning and gasping at the sudden warm liquid pooling inside of her, and her own warmth embraced his member. All she could hear was the sound of his heavy breathing pulsing sweetly in her ear, while she partook in her own, sobbing into his shoulder and desperately clinging onto him.

He holds her close, burying her face in her hair, and he pants into her shoulder. She doesn’t let go of him. She refuses to. Her hair tickles his nose and lips, and he finds himself peppering tender kisses to her shoulder, and to her neck. They had stilled, and breathed deeply, and felt each other’s muscles beginning to settle. Maui’s fingers gently ran up and down her spine, coaxing shivers out of Moana. With her cheeks still blushing hotly, she pulls back slightly to glance into his captivating brown eyes. He leaned forward, resting his forehead against hers. Moana watched breathlessly as his eyes studied hers with silent intensity. His warm breath ghosted across her face. She shuts her eyes in anticipation. She stifled a surprised gasp as his soft lips captured hers, causing her body to flush with heat. The heat seemed to travel through her veins, warming her. Just as she felt a rush of euphoric bliss envelop her, making her heart sing with pure joy, Maui reluctantly drew away. She instantly missed the lovely heat curling within her.

He stares at her for a second time, admiring the beauty sitting in front of him. She feels her back softly meeting the mattress, head resting against the pillows, his body hovers over hers, her legs wrapped around his waist as he stares intently into her tear filled eyes. Without even thinking, his hands found their way to her breasts. She lets out a whimper and he massages them once again. She marvels at the feel of how gentle he is with her and she lolls her head to the side, teeth sinking into her bottom lip, not wanting him to see how much she’s crying and she shivers under his tender touch. His thumbs knead and drag slowly over her nipples. He’s massaging, caressing, and soon his mouth finds her breasts again and he’s sucking, kissing, and the soft sounds of her moaning and crying is rather enduring to his ears. For the remainder of the night, he is being tentative. Continuously playing with and kneading her breasts, kissing away her tears and whispering sweet nothings in her ear.

They lay together for the rest of the night. Their gazes locked with one another. And pretty soon, she can no longer hold back the tears. She was crying. And she couldn’t stop. So he hugged her, brought her to his chest and continued to cuddle her. Placing soft kisses amongst her forehead, and on the crown of her head.

He snuggled her in the darkness that engulfed around them. Naked bodies that were concealed in sweat tangled together underneath the covers. And she cried into his shoulder. His fingers playing notes on her bare spine, shuddering in delight against his gentle touch. He places a tender kiss to her forehead, her eyelids suddenly becoming heavy and gradually, she begins to find rest.

He holds her close, letting her head lay on his chest. And pretty soon, he slowly closes his eyes. Before he suddenly whispers,

“Sweet dreams, beautiful.”

And they slept, naked and content with each other, letting the night sweep over them and bring them both to a peaceful slumber.

Chapter Text

Moana’s eyes flutter open. The glare of the morning sun spilled through the sheer curtains that stood between the window and her bedroom. She doesn’t move from her place, and instead decides to focus on the fact that her head was resting on his muscled bicep, her petite frame had his large arm circled around her waist and was still holding her close. The unconscious body of the man that she had been intimate with the night before lay next to her, their naked bodies blanketing one another with the warmth and heat that they needed, and for the first time in a while, Moana couldn’t remember when the last time was when she had slept so peacefully.

She’s hesitant to part her from him so soon. The warmth that his massive body gave her was addicting. Almost like she became drunk off of it. She snuggles closer to him, burying her face in his shoulder and breathing in his delicious scent; Jean Paul Gaultier Le Male that mixed with a slight perspiration. Courtesy of their nightly activity that had taken place in this very room. Her lips linger in the space where his neck and shoulder meet, and she can’t help but pepper it slightly with soft kisses. That was another thing she had realized; was that she hadn’t remembered the last time her body had received that amount of affection and care, nor did she remember the time where a man had took his time to turn her on and to make sure that she had been enjoying every precious moment.

Not that she had been with countless men in her past.

Besides Kristoff, there was another man that she had been seeing. But it was nothing serious. Maybe a couple kisses here and there, and that was the last thing she remembered. It wasn’t something that was important to bring up to Maui any time soon. Maybe never.

She cranes her neck gently to peer at his sleeping face. So content, so gentle, for a big guy, Moana had to admit that he was indeed one of the gentlest men she has ever met. Not to mention, if there was an award for the ‘World’s Greatest Lover in Bed’, Moana would definitely say that Maui had claimed the gold trophy with that one. After all, he did go out of his way to pleasure her in the most beautiful way possible.

She owed it to him. She knew that for sure.

Even though she suspected that he would most likely tell her that she should do no such thing, Moana knew that she herself wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer.

Though she wanted to so desperately just stay in bed, naked, while she lay next to her lover for the whole day, she knew that there were some chores that needed her attention. She gently lifts her hand from his chest, and uses her fingers to softly stroke the expanse of his jawline. His chest rising and falling with each gentle breath that he took. She doesn’t hesitate to lean over and press her lips softly to his cheek to plant a kiss, before she quietly unwraps herself from his grasp, and slips out of bed.

The cool air that greeted her prompted her to reach for her robe that was discarded at the edge of the bed. She quickly wraps it around her body, allowing the goose flesh to settle back onto her skin. She finds herself in the bathroom and quietly closes the door shut behind her. She uses the palm of her hands to rub the sleep from her eyes, and then she tangles her hands through the curls of her hair. Fingers combing and kneading through, eager to get rid of any unnecessary tangles or knots that lingered. It wasn’t until she moved her hand to flick on the light switch, that she heaves a deep breath and slowly turns to face her reflection staring back at her through the glass mirror.

She stares at herself for a good while. She didn’t take her eyes off herself once. Moana knew the person staring back at her. But at the same time, it was like the person who was staring back was not her. It was like she was staring at two different people. Both looked strangely identical to the other. And yet, their personalities were contrasting.

Moana gazes at her reflection, but she wasn’t seeing what she had grown used to seeing after all these years. What once used to be a woman who was drained of energy and confidence staring back at her, was now a woman who seemed to look more refreshed and almost….brand new? There was proof that the illness in her body was still present. But for some reason, none of it seemed to really look that noticeable. Part of her wondered what it was that had caused this sudden change and feeling to appear so abruptly.

And right away, the images of the delicious events that took place last night had managed to sneak into her skull.

Her hand immediately draw to her mouth. She uses her fingers to travel delicately and slowly amongst the flesh of her full lips, and she slowly shuts her eyes, remembering how Maui’s thick lips tasted on hers. The way how his mouth moved so softly and gently with hers, with so much passion, and the way how his tongue left traces of his DNA on her skin left her feeling drunk off of him, desiring to feel and to taste more of his delicious scent.

Her lips tilt into a soft smile and her eyelids slowly flutter open. Her reflection still there, staring back at her, but mirrored that same seductive smile she had on etched on her face. Then she uses her hand to trail its way towards her neck, her fingers playing notes around the area and skin. She hadn’t noticed the deep sigh that managed to slip its way through the seam of her lips, recalling how amazing Maui’s mouth felt on her. The way how he kissed, licked and sucked on her neck so sweetly was a feeling that Moana had never experienced with any other man.

And then she remembered being under him. She remembered how she had allowed him to be control. And frankly, she loved the way how his massive form (despite the fact that she was so tiny compared to him) was able to dominate her in the most passionate and loving way possible. It surprised her though. With a man like Maui, a massive body with a massive personality to go with it, even she knew that he was no inexperienced prude when it came to creating a masterpiece in the bedroom. With how big his ego was, she would’ve assumed that he was used to getting his way. Not taking orders from anyone. Doing things exactly how he wanted to. And not giving a damn about what the woman wanted.

But with her, he was different. So gentle. Sure, his hands were excessively large and they did indeed look as if they could easily snap anything (including a human being) in two without no shame and with no emotion left over. But they had their soft side. And Moana was honored to have been the one (and hopefully the first) to have experienced his soft touch. His touch being so soft, so tender, the liquid between her legs between to emanate, her thoughts recalling those pleasurable moments where she could feel her body shivering in delight under his soothing touch.

The way how he penetrated her was much more enjoyable.

Much more enjoyable than she had ever imagined. Her experience of intimacy with Maui did not compare to those unpleasant attempts she’s engaged in intimacy with Kristoff. None of it did.

Nothing.

Absolutely nothing.

Those two times she had been under Kristoff were the most horrible experiences of her life. He had been inexperienced, uninterested and pushy. There was no love, or nay type of emotion to it. She remembered that she had to numb herself from feeling him inside of her. He did the deed that he thought he was supposed to, pleasuring himself and not thinking about her needs, whereas she just lay there. Staring at the ceiling. Refusing to look anywhere at him. Begging for it to be over. She had been grateful that it only lasted for about twenty minutes both times. And then once they were done, he would just put back on his clothes and say ‘sianara!’ and go about his business as if nothing happened.

Moana had recalled those two nights where she had ended up crying herself to sleep. But those weren’t the only nights where she had cried herself to sleep. And frankly, those weren’t the only times where she’s cried in Kristoff’s absences. There were tears throughout the two years she dated him. And there were lots. From beginning to end, there was never a day (or night) where she wouldn’t not cry over him. Or to him. And the sad thing was, she had grown used to it. And so had he. Every time where they would see each other, they knew that there would be fights, and the fight would lead to never ending tears. Heart ache. Regret. (More so on his end).

Moana had often questioned why she had forced herself to go through turmoil and feelings of being unworthy for those two miserable years.

Only to have him cheat on her in the end, and leave her for another woman in the process.

The breakup was a punch to the gut. Unable to breathe. Unable to process the events happening around her.

‘I just think we need to see other people’

His voice rings in her eardrums.

‘We can’t keep pretending anymore, Moana.’ He had said. ‘We both knew this was bound to happen. You’re sick, and frankly, there’s no point in me staying in this relationship any longer.’

His words cut deep through her skin like a sharp blade. Puncturing through the skin and tissue. The acid in his tone seeped to her blood. Sharp. Stinging.

‘I think it’s best if we just move on. Pretend like this never happened.’

That had been the last thing he had said to her. And he walked away without saying another word. And not once did he turn back. Not once did he seemed kind enough to notice her face stained with tears.

And through her blurry vision, all she remembered was seeing his profile shrink and disappear.

She shakes her head, and realizes that she’s still standing in her bathroom. Her reflection staring back at her in the mirror. And she hadn’t even realized she had been crying herself as she noticed the few tears she managed to let escape during her train of thought.

She wipes the tears from her cheeks, though she lets more flow down. Maui was different. He wasn’t Kristoff. He was sweeter. Kinder. Compassionate. And so far for these past couple of weeks, his actions gave her no reason to doubt him. In the little time she’s gotten to know Maui, she knew there was connection between them. She could feel it building inside of her. And she knew he could too.

And that connection proved to be true when they were in bed together last night. It wasn’t just about sex. It was beyond that. The connection and the passion they had for one another was mutual. It was alive and well. And the way how Maui was so kind enough to take his time with her, to pleasure her in every single way, and to make sure that she enjoyed herself just as much as he did as he was taking her so sweetly and took pleasure in hearing her cries of bliss ringing in his ears, told Moana that there was something more that already starting to blossom between them.

At least, she hoped with all her heart that there would be something growing between them.

She cared for him. Really and truly, she did. She deeply did.

And secretly, she wanted more of him.

She balls her hand into a fist and scrubs the tears dry and damp from her face. The last thing she needed was for Maui to see her crying. She quickly combs her fingers through her curls, then reluctantly unties the robe from her body and places it on the hook behind her door. She takes another look at herself in the mirror, her naked body staring back at her. Biting her lip, what normally would disgust her at the sight of her seeing her bare body in the mornings actually turned out to be much different.

Her lips curl into a small, amused smile and she softly runs a hand over the expanse of her ribcage. Red shades of little bruises were scattered amongst her body. On her neck. One her breasts and nipples. On her stomach and abdomen. On her inner thighs. Moana recalled the amount of times where Maui would continuously suck and nip on every inch of her body. But she wasn’t aware of the amount of hickeys that would cover her skin the next morning.

But again, it was proof of Maui making sure that she herself had an opportunity to participate in the pleasures of the artwork.

She sheepishly tucks a hair behind her ear, and turns to glance at the clock in the left at the top corner.

8:10am.

Maui would be awake in an hour.

With one last glance in the mirror, she takes a deep breath and hops into the shower. She wanted to surprise him when he woke up. With that, she still didn’t know. But she had ideas. She allowed her mind to ponder as she washes her hair and scrubs herself with care.

So as she steps out of shower, changes into a new set of clothes and half dries her hair, she’s not surprised to see that he’s still sleeping. And she can’t stop the smile from spreading across her lips. Sure, she had Maui all to herself today. No work. No calls, texts or emails. He had the day off, and surprisingly, so did she. So they would have to whole day to relax together (with the exception of her finishing up her articles that were all to be submitted in two days). And frankly, she wasn’t’ complaining.

She checks her watch.

Noting that it was now 8:30am.

So without a second thought, she slowly makes her way toward him and she leans down and gently presses a soft kiss to his lips.

And just like that, she makes her way down the stairs towards to the kitchen to get breakfast started.


Maui’s eyes had just opened to the abusive rays of the morning sun splashing through the sheer curtains that were still closed. He stares up at the ceiling, slightly disappointed he was unable to find rest that his body desperately wanted. Proof that he was still tired and wanting to go back to sleep. His arm was resting in the space of the empty void next to him, realizing that the body of the unconscious woman he had engaged in physical intimacy with last night was nowhere in sight. Nor was she anywhere to be found in the room.

He blinks rapidly, his mouth stretching into a big yawn as he finally remembers that it was her bedroom that he had fallen asleep in. Her bed, for some reason, felt much more comfortable than his. The mattress wasn’t as stiff as the one in his room. But then again, it wasn’t like he was complaining. At least he had a bed to sleep in. The covers that were laid out on him only came up to his waist, his broad chest was left bare and on display. And frankly, he didn’t mind. Not one bit. The temperature from the glaring sunlight was warm and comforting as it blanketed his skin. So sure, there was no harm in lying in bed for a few extra minutes.

It would’ve been nicer if the woman whom he had been intimate with last night was still lying beside him. He would’ve loved to have woken up to see her beautiful face. And to relish in the feel of her own naked body pressed up against his. But unfortunately, it was clear that she had some chores around the house that needed her attention.

But then again, so did he. Sad to say that he knew he couldn’t lay in bed for the rest of the day. Yes, he had the day off from work (it’s about time), but even he knew he had some of his own unfinished business that would need his attention later on.

He blows a heavy sigh through his lips, the mattress was warm and soft against his skin and his eyes remain on the ceiling. But his mind wanders elsewhere.

Immediately, the events of last night play out in his brain.

Sure, last night had been great.

Amazing actually.

Seeing as it’s been such a long time since he’s engaged in sexual activity with a woman. Though to him, none of it felt like it was just sex. It felt to be much more than that. Or maybe, it had been just about sex?

He didn’t know.

But then again, having sex with Moana had felt much different compared to the amount of times he’s slept with different women in his past. None of them had been virgins. He knew that. But it wasn’t like Moana herself was a virgin either. He remembered that she had confessed to him that she’s had one boyfriend in her life. One whom she had been intimate with. But it was only for a short period of time.

(That prick!)

He rolls his eyes and huffs another sigh. Even he knew it was hypocritical of him to have feelings of anger and jealously towards a man he doesn’t even know. She’s only been with one man. And Maui, well, let’s just say that the amount of women he’s been with was way more than people would expect. Even he himself was shocked at the number of women he’s given his body up to with no shame. But it wasn’t like these women were all that innocent themselves. Nor were the naïve. They were clever. They knew how to play their cards. And after all, a lot of them were businesswomen.

Some had also been high ranked and world travelling models. There were a few actresses he’s gotten with as well. But they weren’t exactly known worldwide. Only in their small communities were they praised and worshipped. Some had even been singers. A few lawyers. A couple of doctors here and there. Architects. Magazine editors. And the list goes on.

Maui cringes at the thought of having bedded so different women in his past. Still to this day, he didn’t even know why it was that used to be. Forget making it to the NFL as one of the greatest quarterbacks in history, or making it to any Olympic sporting event, sex back in the day was his sport. Back then, he was known as the world’s famous lover in bed. Women would throw themselves at him wherever he would go. Whether it be at business conferences, clubs, even restaurants, cafes, bars, anywhere. Maui recalled those events where there was never a day where anything in a skirt wouldn’t not hit on him.

But then again, during those moments in his life, it wasn’t like he had been deadest on finding a serious relationship. No. To him, relationships back in the day were a drag. It was overrated and there was absolutely nothing about it that seemed appealing to him. Well, that was after the fact that his girlfriend of four years had broken up with him.

Actually, it was more like her screwing around with two different guys behind his back, and then dumped him for one of the guys she had been sleeping with.

‘You’re just….not that established for me.’ Her words cut that night. The knife’s sharp blade gliding slowly and painfully through his skin. ‘He is. If you had just a little bit more money, then I wouldn’t have slept with him.’

And then she had left that night without ever once looking back. Leaving him alone, confused, hurt and angry.

That had been the first girl he ever loved. And at the time, the only girl that he was hoping to marry one day.

But that ship sailed. And there was no turning back.

So in the end, having one-night stands became his thing. Every night of the week, he would always find himself in bed with a naked body and a pretty face that he couldn’t quite put a name to. He had remembered a few of them. Maybe two. But those two out of the large number he’s slept with, they were sweeter.

The first one had been from Italy. Those Italian women would be the death of him. There was never a day where he wouldn’t constantly almost strain his neck to see an Italian Bella purposely swaying those curvy hips of theirs every time they would walk by him. And then just to spite him, a playful wink was sent in his direction.

That was how he met Alessandra. Maui had been twenty-five at the time when he had met her. And she had been twenty-six. She had walked by him when he had been sight-seeing at Rome’s famous Coliseum. She had dropped her bag, and Maui being the gentleman he was, was gracious enough to have picked it up for her. And the minute they looked into each other’s eyes, an immediate attraction grew. She was the one that had initiated going for a coffee, and Maui was in no way ready to reject her gracious proposal. They laughed, and talked and flirted. Then he brought her back to his apartment, and they ended up engaging in passionate sex that night. The next morning had been a blur, but he remembered that she had to leave for work. So he let her. But that wasn’t the first and only night that had hooked up. They had a fling for about three weeks, the amount of him he spent living in Rome. She had given him her number, wanting him to promise her that he would call her the minute he arrived in Venice. But he never did. He had felt guilty for not pursuing her, but maybe it was for the best.

Maui couldn’t help pondering over what his life would be like had he just been man enough to call her instead of tossing her number away. But then again, there was a reason for everything.

After all, if he had pursued Alessandra, he wouldn’t have had the opportunity to meet Makiko. A beautiful Japanese model whom he had met during his stay in Tokyo, Japan. She was a gentle spirit. But very seductive. She wasn’t all that innocent. But she still maintained her sweet demure. Maui had been twenty-seven at the time. And she had been the same age. She was his potential client, one who had been advising her on how to manage her finances and to make sure that all the money she made would be in order. She had appreciated his generosity, and his knowledge. And then she grew attracted to him. And he to her. She took him to a club, had a couple of drinks here and there. Then he brings back to his apartment, they have wild sex, and then the next morning, she was gone. She had left a note, saying that she had a photo shoot, but she had wanted to grab lunch with him afterwards and left her number. So they did. Sharing laughs and conversations with one another over some California Rolls and Wonton Soup. They had a hot fling on and off for the year he lived there, and then once he had to jet off to Germany, she gave him her number and asked him to call once he landed in Munich, and just as always, he tossed away her number. Refusing to look back.

Women like Alessandra and Makiko were the type that were ‘one of a kind’. They were different, and it was obvious that despite the demands of their careers, that one of these days, they would want to settle down, get married and raise a family. But Maui at the time was immature. Unstable for a long-term relationship. But then again, if he had pursued a relationship with one of them, then he wouldn’t have been fortunate (and damn lucky) to have met Moana.

Sure, Alessandra and Makiko were sweet women.

But Moana, Moana was different.

She had a personality to her that seemed to give Alessandra and Makiko a run for their money. There was a genuine side to her that a lot of women lacked. And there was sweetness to her that seemed so addictive. She had purer heart, and a warmer personality. And there was something about her that made Maui want to protect her from anything or anyone that would threaten to harm her in any way, shape or form. Sure, Maui could’ve slept with her and then just pack up his bags and leave without so much as another word.

Only he wouldn’t.

Sex with Moana hadn’t just been sex. It was different. Passionate. Kind. Sweet and genuine. The chemistry between was unlike any other he’s felt. And for Maui, it had been a long time since he’s had that feeling. And frankly, he didn’t know if that was a good thing, or if it was a bad thing.

But then again, she was sick.

And as much as he enjoyed having slept with Moana last night, there was something inside of him that made him feel sick to his stomach. Deep down, he knew he was taking advantage of her. She was sick, meaning that she was vulnerable. Exactly what Eugene said.

(Damn him).

She longed for intimacy. She longed for that feeling of having a man’s body dominate and love her body in the most passionate way possible. The tears and her cries of pleasure were proof that she had been lacking that for a very long time. Maui would be lying if he said that he didn’t enjoy every minute of it. He did. As a matter of fact, he loved it himself. He loved having got to experience the way how her body shivered and convulsed under his gentle touch. He loved having been surrounded by her body, and he had loved being inside of her just as much. Feeling her around him, seeing how much pleasure he was giving her when he was moving inside of her. Hearing cry out of his name over and over again while he took in every imaginable way that would leave her catching a glimpse of what heaven looked like.

She was beautiful. Truly she was. Everything about her left Maui feeling weak in his knees.

Her smile. Her laugh. Her generosity and kindness. Her wanting to make people (including strangers) feel at home. Her sweet kisses. Even when she cried, she looked beautiful. Pure. Natural.

And here he was taking advantage of her.

(Was he?)

There was something between them. Maui knew that. Even after all those times she spilled coffee on him, he knew there was something about her that he couldn’t get out of his mind. It had been such a long time since he’s felt this way about a woman. And the only way he could be sure that this feeling was real, was because he had had that same feeling when he first met his ex-girlfriend. And feelings such as what he was feeling now, didn’t come very often.

Nope.

So what could this mean? He didn’t know. But he hoped it meant what he was thinking.

He blows another sigh and gently lifts himself from the mattress. He peers over at the digital clock sitting on the dressing table.

8:50am.

So as he gets off the bed, he picks up his scattered clothes that were discarded on the floor and throws on his briefs. The pants and top he could care less about. Just out of courtesy of walking around the house naked. He heads back into his room, throws his clothes on the bed, and enters the bathroom with the door closed shut. He discards his briefs, and steps into the shower.

And as the warm water is running over his skin, Maui finds himself pondering over if last night was such a good idea after all.


He finds her in the kitchen, humming and gracefully gliding about. Her back was towards him, unaware that he had been standing in the doorway, drooling like a chimp just the mere sight of her. Her black curls lie long and loose, obscuring the open back of her burgundy tank top, making sure to allow glimpses of her coco skin beneath. Her black shorts are at a pleasing length (living more to the imagination), and those curvy legs and hips are accentuated, which Maui licking his lips.

She’s frying something on the stove. The smell was delicious. His stomach growling. His mouth goes dry as he watches her. Her humming was something he came to enjoy. He swallows, and then clears his throat.

Moana looks over her shoulder, and greets him with a smile. She doesn’t hesitate to abandon her cooking temporarily, and she races over to hug him. He hugs her back, a warm tingly feeling crawling up his spine as his mouth creases into a warm smile.

Her hands find his cheeks, and she pulls him down to capture his lips in a kiss. A passionate kiss. One that lasted much longer than he was used to. But he wasn’t complaining. His arms snake their way around her waist, and the kiss intensifies. Their tongues wrestling for dominance, and he nibbles on her lower lip, earning a pleasing moan from her.

Then she resumes back to her cooking. Maui takes a seat at the counter and he’s surprised when she presents him with what he had least expected.

“Morning, Maui.” She greets him with a tender smile, offering him some chocolate chip pancakes she apparently had seemed so eager to prepare. It would definitely explain why the wafting aroma of darkened flour and frying butter lingered all over the entire house. Even the washroom on the first floor had traces of that powdered sugar scent that still dawdled.

Truthfully, Maui had never usually been a huge fan of pancakes. For some reason, having sugar filled carbs in the mornings for breakfast was not his cup of tea. Scrambled eggs and bacon were usually his go-to meals to start the day. It was no wonder why his siblings referred to him as “odd” in their younger years. But then again, that was Maui. He was different from his siblings. So different. Sure, they may have had the same colored skin, same texture of hair and even the same eye color. But oddly enough, they never had the same taste buds.

So when Moana shoves a plate full of those round, tanned and fluffy butter cakes towards him – which surprisingly looks very mouthwatering – he’s not sure whether to immediately decline, or to just suck it up and accept the offer. After all, having done what he did for her last night, it was the least he could do. But really and truly, she didn’t have to go out of her way to do such a thing.

Especially after the delicious events they had participated in together that night.

He chuckles a bit. “Morning, Curly.” He takes a sip of his coffee. Black, just how he liked it. “Pancakes?”

“Chocolate chip.” She smiles. “You’re not allergic to chocolate are you?”

“Nope, not at all.”

“Okay, good. Well, I hope you like these.”

“They smell really good.”

“They taste even better!” She steals a cake from the platter and chomps a bite. “It’s my gramma’s secret recipe. She always used to make these for my brother, sister and I when we were kids.”

“I see.” He takes another swig of the roasted nut flavored liquid. “Did she always make pancakes on a Wednesday?”

She’s leaning forward on the granite counter, elbows rested out before her as she casually breaks off another piece of the fluffy goodness. “Nope.” And plops it into her mouth. “Only on Sunday’s usually. Sunday’s were her ‘special’ breakfast days.”

“Huh, interesting.”

She cocks a brow with an amused smirk. “And what’s wrong with making pancakes on a Wednesday?”

He shrugs. “Ah, I don’t know. If I’m being honest, it just….kinda seems a bit odd to me, that’s all.”

“How so?”

“Pancakes. On a Wednesday?”

Then a giggle from her. “Yeah….and….?”

He lets out another chuckle, and scratches the back of his neck. “Never mind. It’s not important anymore. Forget I said anything.”

Another giggle. “Well….you are going to have some though, right?”

He blinks. “…Do I have to?”

“Yes!”

Now it’s his turn to laugh. “Is that an order?”

“Um, yes! You have to!”

“Do I?”

“Oh come on! Pleeeaaasseee?”

“Ah, Curly, but I’m not really-“

“Pleeeeaassseee?” She bats her eyelashes with her bottom lip quivering. “For me?”

And she’s won the battle. He hefts a loud sigh and raises his white flag. “Oh fine! I can’t resist those puppy dog eyes….”

Then a triumphant smile spreads across her lips. “Thank you!”

He rolls his eyes. “Uh huh.”

She’s giggles and steals another bite from her pancake. Then she goes quiet at first, her gaze searching his profile. And then she takes a deep breath, before she admits, “Actually, I made these especially for you.”

“For me?”

A small nod. “Yea.”

He already knows the answer. But still he asks, “For what?”

Another deep breath. She closes her eyes, and then says, “For last night.”

And there it was.

Her words were there, way out in the open. A little too out in the open for his comfort. But then again, there was going to be a time where the events of last night needed to be discussed. But at the same time, it was all beginning to make sense. The eager early morning riser. The slaying over a hot stove to prepare such a warm and inviting meal. A peace offering nonetheless. It was simple, he had done her a favor – a huge favor – and now she was repaying him for that favor she so desperately needed. And usually, a kind gesture such as this was so foreign to him, for he has never in his life experienced this sort of special treatment from anyone. Not even from his own family.

And because of his lack of experience in this specific department, Maui wasn’t really sure how to react. Be thankful? Grateful? Show her the gratitude that she deserves for her genuine and gracious actions? He didn’t know.

Even though he was beginning to grow aware of his emotions towards her, he still didn’t know how to go about it.

“Last night?”

“Yea.”

He’s quiet, looking down at his reflection staring back at him through the ripples of the dark liquid in his cup. “What about last night exactly?” He already knows. Though he tries to bury his eagerness over it.

And this time she raises her gaze to settle on his hulking figure. Eyes curious, searching for any sign of confirmation. But was rewarded with nothing and was left on her own yet again. She was certain she could feel the heat radiating within, and rushing to the surface of her cheeks where it eagerly finds its temporary home. Chewing on her lower lip, the events of last night begin to materialize in her brain.

“I um….” And suddenly her half-eaten pancake begins to look less intimidating at this point. “I just…..wanted to….to thank you.”

He swallows. “Yea?” She nods. Then he grinds his teeth into his jaw. “For what exactly?”

“For doing what you did.” She looks at him again. “For….”

“Sleeping with you?”

Her face goes hot. And her breath hitched in her throat. “Yea….”

He pushes his cup aside and laces his fingers together. “Moana….you really don’t need to thank me for that.” And he twiddles his thumbs. “I um…I understand if it was…not really anything special.”

“That’s not true. It was something to me, Maui.”

He’s quiet.

“With the condition that I’m in….” She explains in a soft tone. “It’s been a while since I’ve…been intimate with a man.” A pause. “It’s just that….no other man would’ve done what you did for me.”

Still, he’s quiet.

“But you did.”

A sharp intake of breath.

“And I…..” She watches him carefully. “I couldn’t be happier.”

And finally for what seemed like eternity, his gaze meets hers. He would lying if he said that her choice of words didn’t surprise him. Actually, they didn’t just surprise him. They shocked him. Shocked. As a matter of fact, those were the last few words that he ever would’ve expected to come out of her mouth. Even though he was certain she took pleasure in participating, part of him wasn’t expecting her to have admitted her feelings to him so openly and so fast.

Especially from her in general.

“For the first time in a while…...” She tells him, and her tone is honest. “You allowed me to experience something so beautiful, Maui.”

He doesn’t take his eyes off hers. The look on his face was knowing. He knew everything.

“You were very attentive.” She offers a small smile. “You took your time. And, you actually cared about wanting me to cherish each moment. And I did.” She pauses. “….I loved it.”

All he can really give her in response is a blink. And then a deep swallow. He wasn’t exactly sure how he was supposed to react. Or exactly what he was supposed to say. It was like sitting in grade nine French class all over again and having to comprehend what exactly the French question was trying to say. In French of all languages. Not even in English.

But this was deeper than some stupid French class.

Much deeper.

“Maui….” Her voice is soft, so soft and it breaks his train of thought. “I….”

He watch as she slowly moves from around the counter and is now standing directly in his line of vision, gazes locked intently on one another and he gulps at the sudden close proximity between them.

“I….”

Her gaze meets the ground beneath. Staring at her bare feet, she lets her hair curtain around the frame of her face, shielding the vulnerability that was now a portrait of abstract artwork on her features. Without even thinking, he reaches out and pushes the strands of fallen hair behind her ear, his thick fingers pinching her chin and tilting her head to look at him. He’s smoothing the dark tresses of her hair, and uses a finger to stroke her cheek.

And his arms find their way around her tiny waist. Pulling her closer towards him so that the distance between them is non-existent, their chests meeting one another and her arms snake around his neck, burying her face in his shoulder and inhaling his scent. His sweet scent that still lingered in her nostrils from the night before. Immediately, her body relaxes and she melts into his embrace with his fingers stroking her back, almost lulling her to sleep.

“Thank you, Maui.” Her voice a hushed whisper against the fabric of his shirt.

Letting out a sigh in content, he whispers, “You’re welcome.”

Then he gently peels her from his body, though his arms are still wrapped around her waist. Their gazes meet, none of them eager to part from the other. And it’s the first time where Maui was able to really look at her, and see beneath the surface of her features. Her emotions were not easily hidden on her innocent face. Her pain was evident in the crease of her lovely brow and the down-curve of her full lips. But her eyes, her eyes showed him her soul. They were a deep pool restless brown, an ocean of helpless grief she’s been battling pretty much her entire life.

As he continues staring into her eyes, he knew. All the beauty of the universe could not even hope to compete with this simple thing: passion. Passion is what turned her eyes into the orbs of the brightest fire, and in them he read clearly that she would fight, and continue fighting to the very last tear for her life. The passion was what made her beautiful.

It was the passion that made him weak in his knees.

And it was the passion in her eyes and soul that made Maui convince himself that he needed to have this woman.

There was no he could let her slip from his fingers so easily.

He lifts his hand, pushes her hair back behind her ear, and uses his thumb to caress her cheek so sweetly. A gentle moan escapes past her lips, enjoying the feel of his hand cradling her head. Instinctively, she brings her hand to place over his, and then gently guides it to her lips, pressing sweet kisses to his thumb and forefinger. He shivers slightly at the feel of her soft lips kissing his skin so tenderly.

“So beautiful.” He whispers with a low voice.

Her gaze trails over his. She could feel the tears in her eyes beginning to build. Before she could let one escape, his mouth is on hers. Passionate. Soft. Gentle. The way how their mouths moved together was magic. Written on their DNA. And then he peppers her cheeks with kisses. Then her nose. Then he places a gentle kiss on her forehead, and he rests his against hers. The two of them breathing in each other’s sweet scents.

She smelled of mango citrus body spray.

He smelled of Dolce & Cabana cologne.

Both drunk off each other. Addicting.

“I’m glad we don’t have work today.”

He chuckles at her choice in words. “I am too.” Then he pulls back gently, turns to look over his shoulder, and then turns back to her. “You are going to join me for breakfast, aren’t you?”

“But I can’t really eat pancakes though. It’s bad for my diet.”

He frowns. “Pleeeaaaassee?”

A small giggle as she rolls her eyes. “Alright, fine.”

A smile from him. “Good.”


The rest of the day seemed to go by with ease. Sharing laughs and deep conversations over a stack of homemade chocolate chip pancakes was definitely something Maui would have to squeeze into his daily schedule. Only if he could have the opportunity to share it with his beautiful roommate. One thing that both Maui and Moana would admit, was that a day off from work was something that needed to happen at least once every week. No texts, emails or phone calls. It nothing but peace and silence. Sure, they had some chores that needed to be finished around the house; laundry, cooking for dinner and doing a little bit of cleaning, but all those things proved to be fun if there were four hands instead of two.

Not to mention, a couple kisses were sneaked in here and there. But that wasn’t something that they were strangers to. It pretty became a part of both their schedules the moment they sealed their first kiss back in the forest a few weeks ago.

Neither of them were aware that the weather forecast had called for rain. Sadly, it had rained all day. And still to this hour, the rain was still in progress. But that didn’t really bother them. Being indoors with each other’s company was something that they enjoyed for the whole day. So neither of them really were complaining.

So when he finds her sitting outside in the backyard under her Hawaiian gazebo (though he tried not to let his jaw drop to the ground at how grandeur it was) while she’s huddled over her laptop, the urge to go out and join her was evident in the pit of his stomach. But at the same time, the last thing he wanted to do was to distract her from her work. After all, he did remember her mentioning that she had all three of her articles that were due in two days.

Maui hadn’t realized that he had been standing out in the doorway for such a long time. Mainly because he was in awe of how big and beautiful the gazebo looked. Sure, he’s seen many gazebos in his life before, but this was one was different. Large? Most definitely. But there was a homey feel to it. The shape of it was round and octagonal. Typical pavilion structure of what a gazebo is supposed to look like. The structure was truly breath-taking. It was like another room, but except one that remained outdoors. White curtains that were tied back offered the opportunity to express a lifestyle beyond the confines of just four walls. It was a mixture of contemporary and modern, with a beautiful wooden floor and beams. It almost reminded him of the fales and wharepunis back home on his island in Samoa. Its authenticity bringing back memories of the good times he spent back in the one place he could call home.

Not to mention, the backyard itself still had adequate room to be able to host a nice Luau if they wanted to. There were Tiki torches that were lit on either side, and hibiscus flowers had been planted in circular beds. The skies were now gray, dark and dreary. The pitter patter of rain drops hit and splash against the paved grounds, its gentle waves of gravity is a soft music from the Earth, a sweet beckoning serenade. How Maui missed feeling the warm droplets splashing against his skin back home on the beach in Samoa. What he would give to be able to go back there. Maybe then, things would be different than they are now.

But luckily for Moana, she was under the comfort of her gazebo. Not once did she feel a drop of rain hit her skin. And thankfully, it wasn’t too cold out either. In fact, it was pretty warm out. Not that the warm weather here in Vancouver could ever compare to the beautiful hot weather that Samoa had to offer.

“Maui.”

He looks up. Her voice pulls him from this thoughts as his gaze meets hers. She’s smiling at him. That same smile that he loved and adored.

“Come join me.” She pats the seat on the couch next to her.

So without any hesitation, he does. He makes sure to slide the screen door closed behind him and he quickly darts under the gazebo (or a contemporary fale). The couches were cozy, and he was immediately embraced by the intimate feel that it had to offer. It really did feel like being in another room. One where it was outdoors instead of sitting with four walls surrounding him. Truly, this felt like home. And frankly, he wasn’t complaining. Nor was he sure that he was really up for leaving when his time would eventually be up.

But now was not the time for negative thinking.

All that was important was the fact that he was here in the now.

“I was just writing a story.” She tells him.

This reels in his interest. “A story?”

“Mhm.”

He blinks. “Wow.” He’s impressed. “That’s pretty awesome.”

She smiles. “Thanks. Actually, I started writing this particular story a very long time ago.”

“Really.”

“Yup.”

“How long ago exactly?”

She shrugs. “Meh, maybe when I was about….nineteen?” She pauses briefly. “Yes! When I was nineteen.”

“Nineteen, huh.” He stretches his arm across the head of the couch and leans back. “That’s impressive.”

A shy smile and a nod. “I had bad writer’s block though, for a while.” Her brows then dent slightly. “It was hard for me to get back into it. So I ended up abandoning it for the last six years of my life.”

“Ah. How exactly did that happen?”

“Lack of inspiration, I guess.”

“Fair enough.” He nods. “So….what inspired you to pick it back up again?”

She turns to look at him. Their gazes meet, the stare between them was so intense, so honest, Maui had to hold back the saliva in his throat that he was desperate to swallow down without being heard.

“More experience?” She shrugged with a small giggle. “Actually, I don’t know really. It just….sort of came back to me out of the blue.”

He swallows. “Came at you out of the blue, huh.” A nod of approval, the sounds of the pitter patter of raindrops filling in the blank spaces between their words. “What’s it about?”

“My story?”

He nods.

“Oh…I um….” She laughs sheepishly, turning to glance briefly at her opened laptop as she tucked a strand of a loose lock behind her ear. “You’ll probably think it’s too sappy.”

He cocks a brow, a playful smirk. “Romance?”

She bites her lip and bows her head down to hide the blush rising on her cheeks. A small smile tilting on the corners of her mouth. And she gives a slight nod.

“Yea…you could say that.”

He chuckles. “I figured as much.”

She looks up at him. “I’m a woman, okay?” A giggle follows. “I like my romance and Nicholas Sparks novels!”

“Whoa, hey!” A low bassy laugh as he holds up his hands in surrender. “I’m not judging here!”

“Liar, you are too!”

“Nope!”

“Liar!”

“I am not!”

“Prove it!”

They exchange a few laughs with one another. Maui uses the fingers on his left hand to trace the shape of a giant “X” on his chest.

“Cross my heart and hope to die.” She sticks her tongue at him, then another chuckle from his follows. “I swear to the Gods. Scout’s honor.”

She stares at him, though the amused smirk is still etched onto her facial features and masks the slight apprehension she hopes he didn’t seem to notice. She considers his words, her gaze curiously roaming over his person. But it was pretty obvious she knew he was telling the truth. After all, they have established some sort of bond between them. (Sort of).

“So….you promise you won’t laugh if I tell you what it’s about?” She has to be sure, though she knows deep down that her trust for him was evident.

His mouth stretches into a wide grin. “I promise.”

She tilts her head to side slightly. Her black curls cascading beautifully down her shoulder, reaching to the tips of her thighs. Pushing a strand of hair behind her ear, an eager smile replaces the smirk on her lips.

“Alright.” She brings her legs onto the couch and crosses them so that she sits cross-legged beside him. She faces him fully. “So…..it’s about this young woman.”

“Ah, now we’re getting somewhere.”

“Maui, you don’t even know what’s about to happen.”

“I know.” A wide, toothy grin. “But it sounds like an adventure already.”

She rolls her eyes and giggles. “Anyways…..so yea, it’s about this young woman. She’s a world traveler.”

“Does this young woman have a name?”

“As of a now, her name is unknown.”

“Huh, interesting.” He nods. “Anyways, continue.”

“So yea, she’s a travel writer.” She continues. “She travels all over the world, and she never stops.”

He smiles, enjoying the sound of this. And he nods for her to continue.

“So, throughout the story, she does love her job. Being a travel writer has always been a passion of hers.” Moana continues, smiling and eager. “She never gave up on pursuing her dreams to become one.”

He nods.

“She even had a loving and supportive family. Amazing friends. She had the perfect life that everyone envied.”

He nods. Slowly this time. Allowing her words to begin to sink in.

“Until recently.” Her voice lowers slightly, and the smile from her face slowly begins to disperse. “When one of her assignments requires her to stay at a certain destination for longer than she’s used to, she begins to realize a lot of things.”

He frowns at this. “Like what?”

She stares at him. “Well, like the fact that she’s never really had a place she could call ‘home’.” Her voice goes quiet. “Her family traveled quite a lot too, so it wasn’t like she could bunk with them temporarily if she really wanted to.”

Her words suddenly left a bitter taste amongst his tongue. Part of him was already beginning to grasp of an idea of where this fictional (was it really?) story was headed. Though he didn’t want to admit it just yet.

“She realized other things too.”

He stares at her, curious.

“Like, the fact that she wasn’t really happy with her life.”

(This was starting to sound familiar)

“Sure, people wished they were living the lavish lifestyle of traveling like she was doing.” Even she herself frowns at her choice in words. “But little did these people know, that her life wasn’t all that it was made up to be.”

He swallows. Then he nods slowly.

“She didn’t have a home. Nor did she had much a family after all. And most importantly, she realized the one thing that she was lacking for her entire life.”

His brows lift with anticipation. He knew where this was going.

“She never got the chance to find love.”

The words hit home. Hard in the gut.

“But, luckily for her, she ends up meeting a guy on the island that she’s staying on.” Then a small smile forms on Moana’s face. “Funny enough, he ends up letting her live with him for the time being.” She doesn’t take her eyes off his. “They start to get to know more about each other, and then, they realize that they’re starting to fall…..” She pauses, peering into his soul. “….Helplessly in love with one another.”

He swallows. A long, loud and deep one.

This story, indeed, was not a story. Nothing about it was fictional. Nor did it seem like it was made up from scratch.

This was deeper. Much, much deeper.

“So….” He jumps slightly at the sound of her voice. Soft, so soft. “That’s all I’ve been able to come up with so far.” He nods. She smiles. “Um…so…what do you think? Does that sound too cheesy?”

He scratches the back of his neck. At a complete loss for words. “N-no….um…..” He pauses. “I…I think that’s….beautiful.”
“Really?”

“Yea…” He’s honest. Really and truly, he is. “Yea, I really do.”

The smile is still there. “Thanks Maui.” She says softly. “That really means a lot.”

“You’re welcome.” He gulps. “So….do you know where you’re planning on taking the story from there?”

She shrugs. “I haven’t thought that far yet. But, I’m hoping to find some more inspiration soon to pick up where I left off.”

He blinks. “….Do you mind if I….read it some of it?”

“You want to?”

He nods.

She blinks rapidly. Smiling, though the apprehension is still on her features. “Of course you can.”

She reaches to grab her laptop from the table and hands it over to him. He takes it gently, careful to balance it in the palms of his hands, as if he had been given a forbidden emerald stone that needed to be protected and cherished until the day he died. His eyes scan over the words and phrasing. Everything about it so vivid, so real, so raw, it was like he was living the life of the young woman in the story. He was the young woman in the story. Everything about her matched every bit of his personality. Her longing for love, just like him. Longing for the feel of home, just like he wished to find all these years. He was living this lifestyle.

And Moana was the young man. The young man that in the story that the woman was starting to fall in love with. He had opened up his home to her. Exactly like how Moana had done for him. Nothing about this story was fictional. Everything in this story was detailed, honest and pure. It was no wonder why Moana felt trapped at Dream On magazine publishing company. Those articles did not reflect who she was as a person. This story did. It reflected everything about her. She was this story. And this story was her.

“There’s still some things I need to edit a bit.”

Her voice pulls him from this thoughts. He turns to look at her. She’s biting her lip in anticipation, her fingers twiddling in her lap and her shoulders are hunched. She was worried about what he thought about her writing. But she had no reason to be.

“I….” He swallows. “I don’t think you need to.”

She furrow her brow. “What?”

“You don’t need to change a word of this.”

“I don’t.”

“No, you don’t.”

She blinks. Unable to find the right words to project. Clearly he was just being nice. Wasn’t he?

“A-are you sure?” She scrunches up her face. “I mean, some of the paraphrasing, and the run-on sentences, I feel like I need to-“

“No.” He shakes his head. “You don’t.”

“But, Maui I really feel-“

“It’s beautiful, Moana.” He stares at her. “I mean that. Everything about this,” He points to the screen. “This is what I call real writing.”

“…Really?”

“Yes.” He’s honest. She knows it, and she can feel it. “This doesn’t even compare to your articles.” He stares at her, searching her. “This allows me to see who you truly are as a person. This is the real you, Moana. This is you.”

She bites her trembling lip. And she has to hold back the sudden tears that begin to build up in her eyes. His word left a tingly feeling surging up her spine and splashing all over her entire being. Her insides filling with joy and content.

“I….” Her voice cracks. “I-I don’t know what to say.” She whispers.

She feels his thumb and forefinger pinching her chin and gently tilting her head to look into his eyes. His gaze so genuine, so sweet, so kind, she nearly forgot how to breathe properly.

“You don’t have to say anything.” His voice low and soft. “It’s beautiful.”

She smiles softly. “Thank you, Maui.”

He says nothing, and instead leans over to place a soft kiss amongst her forehead. “I’m proud of you, Curly.”

She lets out a breathy laugh. He hands her the laptop and she carefully takes it from his hands. She turns to set it back on the wooden table and closes the lid shut. She pauses briefly, and then turns to look at him. Her gaze curiously wanders over his profile. She hesitates for a brief moment, and then slowly opens her mouth to speak.

“You know, you never did tell me much about your family.” She says in a soft tone.

He cocks a brow. “My family?”

She bites her lip. And then nods gently.

He tenses under her stare. He knew he would have to come clean eventually. After all, it wouldn’t be fair if he had the knowledge of knowing about her family history, and she was left in the shadows about his. It was pretty obvious they were over the first stages of getting to know one another.

Last night spoke for itself.

He scratches the back of his neck. “Meh, if I’m being honest, there’s really not much about them to talk about.”

She frowns. “I doubt that.”

A dry chuckle. “Well, believe it.”

“Maui….”

He forces a loud sigh through his teeth. “I don’t usually like to talk about my family, Curly.” He eases back on the couch, grimacing at his words. “It’s…..it’s a very sensitive topic for me to discuss.”

She nods. “I understand.” Though her gaze searches his profile. “But, remember I told you about my family. Even though it was painful for me, I still opened up to you.”

She was right.

(Damn her for being right)

(Damn all women for always having to be right)

“Moana, I don’t’-“

“I just want you to open up more to me, Maui.” She says softly. So soft. “I….I want to know more about you.”

That’s a first. “Really?”

She nods.

His allows his gaze to trail over her person. The look on her face was tender. Gentle. And trusting. Even he knew deep down, that he could trust this woman. She trusted him. And now it was his turn to do the same for her in return.

He lets out another loud sigh. “You really want to know?”

She nods again.

He hesitates. “Sit with me?”

She doesn’t waste any time as she crawls over to him. He pulls her onto his lap and she folds her legs on his thighs. She rests her head against his chest, humming softly at the feel of his heartbeat thudding gently against her eardrum. He wraps his arms around her, enveloping her in a warm embrace, resting his chin on the crown of her head as they listened to the soundtrack of the rain drops falling softly as if it knew of the hardships that were about to be exposed. He takes a deep breath, and then open his mouth to speak.

“What would you like to know?” He whispers, tightening his grip slightly around her being.

She ponders over his question, and then she speaks. “Do you still talk to them?”

“No. I don’t.”

She cranes her neck to look up at him. “When was the last time you spoke to them?”

“When I was eighteen.”

Her eyes widen slightly. “Really?”

He nods in shame.

“So….you haven’t spoken to your family in fifteen years?”

He swallows. “Yea….” He sighs. “Guess you could say that.”

“How did it happen?”

He falters a bit, deciding that the view of the slamming rain was less intimidating. “Let’s just say….that the last words I said to my parents were…..’I hate this family’ and to ‘fuck them all’….”

She gasps at his words. “You said that?”

He winces, but he doesn’t look at her. He could feel the judgement from her eyes burning into the depths of his inner being. That was the very last thing he wanted to deal with.

“What-“

“There’s more to the story.” He then slowly looks down at her. His face a portrait of sadness and regret.

She swallows, bites her lip and nods slowly.

“It was the day I was leaving for college.” He begins in a low tone. “I remember that was the day that my dad said that…he was proud.”

“That’s why you got mad at him?”

“He said….that he was proud….because I would be going on to actually make something of my life.” He grimaces. “And he was happy that I wouldn’t be wasting my time on pursuing something that would be a ‘waste of time’.”

“A waste of time? What did he mean by that?”

He hesitates. “Let’s just say that….I first had plans of pursuing my own dreams.”

“Wasn’t it always your dream to become a financial advisor?”

He takes a deep breath. “Would you believe me if I said…no?”

She gapes, blinking. “No?”

He swallows. “No.” Then he closes his eyes and sighs. “No, I never wanted to become a financial advisor.”

She stares at him.

“I never even wanted to pursue anything that business related.” Another sigh, there’s sadness in his tone. Then he opens his eyes and looks down at her. “I hate my job, Moana.”

She blinks. “Y-you do?”

He gives a curt nod. “Yea. I do.” He swallows again. “I’ve always hated it.”

Moana presses her lips into a thin line. His choice in words came as a shock. Here she was thinking that he, Maui Deeming, had loved his job so much that finding a wife or having children would be the last things on his mind to pursue. Turns out, there was a lot about him that she still had yet to discover.

“Maui….” She whispers. “I….I had no idea.”

“You couldn’t have known.”

“If you hate it so much, then why do you do it?”

He grunts at the question. “My parents.”

That was the answer she needed to hear. It was beginning to make sense.

“I come from a family who obsesses over money.” He says. “It’s funny, before we moved to Chicago, my family and I, we were much closer.” His voice drops to a lower note. “We were happier. Everyone loved, cared and supported one another no matter what.” He smiles sadly. “My mom used to have her own Samoan antique story were crafts and ancient artifacts that she, my big sister and my grandma always used to make. And then my dad, well, his job consisted of him building and selling boats. Me and my three older brothers always enjoyed working with him. We had a pretty good life back in Savi’i.”

Moana nods, smiling sadly as he continued.

“My dad was always good with numbers though. So, you could say that he was also our accountant back when were working with him.” Then he grimaces. “Then, he gets a job opportunity in Chicago. So my family and I moved there, we had to leave my grandma behind though. She didn’t want to leave the only place she called home. I couldn’t blame her though. If I had the choice, I would’ve stayed back and lived with her.”

Moana hesitates, then asks, “So….what changed?”

“My dad found that working in bank was much more beneficial to our lives instead of working in an old boat shop.” He frowns at this. “Then, he started becoming obsessed with the idea of making a whole bunch of money. He wanted to be rich. Then eventually, he got my mom on board. It didn’t take long for her to start obsessing over the idea of our family being rich.”

She nods. Listening patiently.

He sighs, and then continue. “Then, once my parents were both working in the banks, they started wanting my brothers, my sister and me to start focusing on the idea of going to college to pursue careers in business and finance. My brothers and my sister were quick to agree. But me?” He chuckles dryly. “Let’s just say that I had other plans of my own that I wanted to pursue. And none of it involved business or finance.”

“What were some of the goals that you wanted to pursue?”

He sucks in a deep breath. “That’s….a little personal.”

“Fair enough.”

“Let’s just that my dreams didn’t line up with what my parents wanted for me.”

“Oh.”

“Ever since we moved to Chicago, I never felt like I was good enough to impress my family.” He admits with insecurity between every word. “Especially my parents. They would always look at me as if…” He pauses. “….I didn’t belong. Being the youngest, I always felt outnumbered by my siblings.”

Moana nodded sadly.

“They always got A’s in school. But me?” He shakes his head, sighing regrettably. “I could never pull those off. I was always a C student. And in my parents’ eyes, if you got a “C”, well, you may as well just accept the fact they’ll always see you as a failure. You were nothing more to them.”

She frowns. “Getting a C is still average.”

“Average doesn’t work for my parents.” He smiles, though it doesn’t quite reach his eyes. “You were either an A student, or they wanted nothing to do with you.”

“No offense, but…your parents are terrible people.”

He chuckles.

“I’m serious.”

“None taken. You don’t have to tell me twice.”

She frowns, though there’s a mixture of anger and compassion for him. “So….your parents would discourage you if you didn’t pursue what they wanted you to do?”

“Yea. That’s how they operate.”

She blinks. “Maui…..”

He tries to shrug it off, but even he wasn’t fooling anyone. “When you’ve lived with my parents for as long as I have, then it doesn’t faze you anymore. You just become numb to their judgements and critiques of you.” Another dry chuckle. “I’ve learned to accept the fact that I would never be good enough for my parents.” Then he pauses, his tone become scratchy with gravel and sadness. “I’m still not good enough for them.”

She has to try and blink back the tears. Her heart breaking for him.

“My brothers and my sister and I used to be so close.” He nods sadly. “But, even they would discourage me from pursuing my dreams. And that’s when I realized that….” He swallows down a painful lump. “…even I wasn’t good enough for my siblings either.”

Moana bites her lip. Holding back the tears that wanted to escape for him.

“Then, I always believed that….if I wasn’t good enough for my own family,” Another pause. “…then, what good would I be for anyone else?”

She lets a few tears escape. “Oh Maui…..

Then she reaches to touch his face and gently bring it closer to hers. She rests her forehead against his and he uses his hand to place over her own. Part of him was wanting to hold back his own tears. And he would. He couldn’t allow this young woman to see him crying. That was something he also learned from his parents. Never let people see you cry. Crying was a sign of weakness. Weakness was not something that was to be shown.

Ever.

“You’re good enough for me.” She whispered. Her words were honest and sincere. And she meant every word that came out of her mouth.

He swallows. “I am?”

“Of course you are.” Then she places a tender kiss on his nose. “I want you to believe that.”

He nods and he presses his lips to her forehead. She noticed the way his lips trembled amongst her flesh, proof that he was on the verge of tears himself. But he was holding back his emotions. He didn’t want to seem weak, she knew. But him being vulnerable in front of her was allowing her to see more than just a tie and polo shirt. This was the real him. He was lost. Confused. Frustrated with his life. He was wanting more, but he couldn’t seem to figure out how to go about it.

“I’m proud of you, no matter what.” She whispers. “In the short amount of time that I’ve known you, you’ve proved to be more than enough, Maui.”

He gulps. “Really?”

“Yes.” Then she offers him a small smile. “You are.” Then her gaze searches his. “You don’t know it, but you are. Trust me when I say that.”

His lips begins to quiver. But he fights with himself to not let his emotions get in the way. Her words were like an unfamiliar melody, soothing to his ears. A love song that he was now drunk over, and love song that would continuously be stuck in his head.

“You….you’re the first person to ever say that to me.” He croaks. “I….I’ve never had….someone care about me so much in the way that you do, Moana.”

She places her hands on either sides of his face, her eyes peering into his inner being. Her thumbs lovingly stroke his cheeks and she leans up to place a tender kiss to his nose. And then her lips meet his and she presses hers amongst his sweetly. He returns the kiss, their mouths caressing and moving smoothly amongst one another. Then she places her forehead against his. His arms tighten around her waist as he holds her close.

“I care so much about you, Maui.” She whispers fervently. “I really do.”

He swallows, heaving a soft sigh. “I care about you too, Moana.” His fingers stroke the sides of her waist. His hot breath hits her skin. “I care about you, a lot.”

And she kisses him, the world fell away. It was slow and soft and sensual, comforting in ways that words would never be. Her hand rested below his ear, her thumb caressing his cheek as their breaths mingled. He ran his fingers down her spine, pulling her closer until there was no more space left between them, and he could feel the beating of her heart against his chest.

They break the kiss, gasping slightly for breath. Though their foreheads remained stuck together. Her gaze still lingers amongst his, searching. And Maui had to swallow, because he knew it wasn’t just his eyes she was looking at. Frankly, he felt naked. Like his naked soul was on display for the first time ever. And the feeling scared him.

He knew that.

And she could clearly see that too.

Moana stares into his eyes, and it was the first time she was seeing Maui in a much different light. His emotional pain seeps out in his words, and she knew that it hurt him to hear them. It hurt him to read them. She could sense what was inside that troubled him. Yet also, she could see that there was so much goodness in him. So much goodness and kindness that he had to offer to the world. There was bravery, tenacity, and dedication. She could see that every morning, he continues to hold on like a fighter, rising at the ringing of “the bell”. Everything made sense. And right now, it was up to her to bring him out of the slump that he’s in. All she could really offer him, is a brighter horizon, and a hope that one day he would be free from this burden he’s been carrying on his shoulders. And she would continue to do so.

One day, he would have that choice. The choice of his own to make his dreams come true. And not to let anyone else’s opinions and expectations to prevent him from doing so. His freedom was his and his to keep.

And Moana knew damn well that he deserved that.

“Maui?”

He takes in a deep breath. Patiently waiting for what was to follow.

“I want you to be happy.” She says softly.

He swallows. “Y-you do?"

“Yes.” She smiles against his lips. “Wherever your heart tells you to go, I’ll support you no matter what.”

He takes the moment to stare at her. He could see the trust and the compassion that she had for him in the depths of her orbs. And deep down, he knew he could trust her. He could trust her.

He gives her a genuine smile. “Thank you, Curly.”

They share another kiss. Then he holds her closer towards him, her head resting against his chest and he brings his hand to her hair, stroking and running his thick fingers through her scalp. His chest rising and falling against her back, their breaths in unison, and the warm blood that they could feel in each other’s embrace. They had established something new together. And for the both of them, it was obvious that this was the start of a beautiful and blossoming relationship that seemed to be promising.

For the rest of the night, they enjoyed listening to the melody of each other’s breaths that mingled with the steady downpour of the raindrops.

Chapter Text

To say that having a day off from work was ‘relaxing’ would be an egregious error. Truthfully, one day off should be the equivalent to taking at least one month off work. Something like that would be considered more ‘relaxing’ and ‘stress-free’.

But in Moana’s case, well, unfortunately that was a much different story.

Sure, she had been grateful that in the three years since she’s been working at Dream On, that she and everyone else were granted a day off from slaving over computer screens, photocopiers and typing on their keyboards until their hands were on the verge of becoming crippled. But most importantly, she had been extremely grateful for the twenty-four hours she had spent with Maui.

Getting to know him, at first, had proved to be difficult. But she meant every word she said to him last night. Yes, in the short amount of time that he’s been living here with her, there was still so much more to him than meets the eye. And Moana had been grateful and honored to have been the person who he could allow himself to open up to.

Both emotionally and physically.

And especially, how he had opened himself up to her sexually.

Boy, did he ever. And not only that, but he himself had allowed her the opportunity to open herself up to him on so many different levels.

After all, this was only the beginning. There was more that needed to be discovered. But it was only a matter of time before that opportunity would reveal itself.

No rush needed though.

Truth be told, Moana was enjoying being in the moment. Letting things take its time seemed to be much a better route.

In fact, she had been enjoying it so much, that she could barely wipe the goofy smirk off her face as she was photocopying some files that needed to be printed and sent to the publishing committee. Truth be told, it was the first time in three years where Moana had found herself whistling a merry old tune as she stepped into work. Or, maybe it wasn’t work per say that was making her feel jolly this morning. As a matter of fact, if it had been up to her, she would gladly have taken another day off work.

But unfortunately, the bills weren’t the ones that were going to pay themselves.

Even her dear boss, Gothel, had her brow furrowed when she had come barreling at Moana’s door and demanded she get to work on the files that needed to be photocopied immediately. Funny enough, Moana was too much into her thoughts to notice all the weird looks and curious gazes that was being sent her way from her meddlesome colleagues.

Not that she gave a damn.

That was the last thing on her mind at this point.

Not even the warm air of the photocopy room that was always mixed with the smell of burning cords, coffee and slight perspiration seemed to bother her like it always had since she first started working at this company. Neither did the continuous blares of the beep beep seem to faze her.

But that didn’t stop her from thinking that she needed to remind Gothel to invest in getting an air conditioning system to put into the photocopy room.

She was so busy basking in her thoughts that she failed to hear the door to the photocopy room open, and to make note of the fact that she was no longer the only one in the room. The presence of another figure solemnly dragged their feet against the marble floor. But once another set of beep beep blared its way through the room, Moana’s head snaps up, and her smile slowly begins to fade from her features as she comes face to face with a pair of green (and all too familiar) eyes staring back at her.

“Hey, Punzie.” She says quietly.

Her best friend just stares at her. Blinking once, and then another. With a tiny frown, she casts her gaze downwards and focuses on the files in front of her that need to be photocopied. Moana tries to ignore the sharp sting that was cutting through skin and tissue. There’s a long silence. It fills the room with its constant ringing of beeping and papers shuffling out of the printers. And it wasn’t just the warm air from the room that encouraged the sweat from Moana’s palms to turn clammy.

She bites her lip. “….How’s everything going?”

Rapunzel is quiet. Refusing to make any sort of eye contact with her friend. Her gaze instead focuses on pressing the right buttons and catching the papers that were spilling out of the machine. Judging by her current state, Moana had to wonder if her friend was getting enough rest that she needed. But by the looks of her usual golden blonde hair that now hung limp and greasy, her usual rosy red cheeks that were flushed to a paler shade, and the purple bags coating her eyes, it only confirmed her suspicion. Not to mention, her usual bodycon dresses that showed of her slim and petite figure were swapped for a burgundy colored off the shoulder top that would look more appropriate on a homeless person, grey tights that Moana had reminded her on numerous occasions to get rid of those things once and for all, and her usual violet colored heels were swapped for a pair of brown Ugg boots.

Her appearance said it all. And Moana couldn’t help but wonder if she should bother asking. Even though she already knew what the answer would be.

“Punzie…is everything-“

“I’m fine.”

Her words were sharp. Like a curse. Bitter. And truth be told, Moana was not a fan of how it left a bad aftertaste in her mouth.

“Are you sure?” She offers kindly. Because she’s her best friend. Not to mention, it’s her damn job. “Because…you seem a little-“

“I said I’m fine!”

Moana swallows. And the taste leaves a sour feeling down her throat. There’s more silence. But this time, it swallows everything up. And Moana had to wonder if she was hearing the sound of her own heart beat thudding violently against her chest, or if it was the sounds of numerous footfalls jogging and scattering their way down the hallway. Either one, she didn’t like. And truth be told, there was one of them that she preferred over the other.

(What to say! What to say!)

“Punzie, is there something that’s bothering you?”

She still doesn’t look up. “No.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yea.”

It takes Moana a moment to realize that her feet were the ones in charge as they move from the machine that she was at, and is now standing beside her friend. She doesn’t take her gaze off the petite blonde in front of her. And noting the way how Rapunzel’s body tenses at the sudden approach of her friend, it only confirmed Moana’s suspicions even more.

“Well, I called and texted you last night.” Moana tells her honestly. Rapunzel taps her nails against the machine. Eager to escape from this sudden interrogation. “I’ve actually been trying to get a hold of you these past couple of days.”

Rapunzel says nothing.

“And you haven’t returned any of my calls.”

Moana’s breath hitches in her throat. Noting the dent in Rapunzel’s brow.

“So…I just wanted to know if everything was okay.”

“I’ve been busy.” Her words are abrupt and bitter.

Moana chews on her lower lip. “Punzie, this isn’t about what happened at the café the other day, is it?”

She’s quiet again.

A heavy sigh slips past her lips. “I hope you’re not still mad at me about that.” She knows. Of course she does. “You’re not…are you?”

She hesitates. And Moana was certain she could see the little light hairs on Rapunzel’s neck begin to shoot straight up. ‘No! Of course not! Why would I be mad at my best friend?’ was she had hoped to hear. But in this situation, that would be asking for too much.

“Rapunzel, are you mad-“

“No.”

“Well, you’re not even looking at me.”

“And?”

“Rapunzel, I want you to look at me when we’re talking.”

So she simply complies with her request. And almost instantly, Moana had regretted it. Her green orbs were a knife in her ribs, the sharp point digging deeper. Where there had been love, acceptance and happiness was an emptiness, but not in a vulnerable sense. Her eyes flashing with indignance and anger, much like lightening on a pitch black night. And sadly, this was definitely not the Rapunzel that she’d come to know and love. She couldn’t recognize this woman standing in front of her, and Moana silently hoped that it wasn’t because of her.

“Happy now?” The sharp edge of sarcasm in her tone was like a jab to the gut. “What more do you want from me, Moana?”

That hurt. Of all people, even Moana knew that her best friend was never one to say her real birth name. But that didn’t mean that she was oblivious to the fact that there was something wrong between them.

A swallow grates her chest. “I just want you to talk to me.”

A scoff from her. “I have nothing more to say to you.” And she turns to focus her attention on the machine that’s spitting out the files.

“So you are mad at me, then.”

Her silence confirms her answer.

“For what, Rapunzel?” Her own brows slowly merge to a frown. “What could you possibly be mad at me for?”

The blonde pauses from her actions. Inhales a sharp breath, and then says, “You know what.”

(She couldn’t be serious!)

(Could she?)

Moana rolls her eyes and places a hand on her hip. “Because I was thinking about sleeping with Maui?”

No answer.

“Are you serious, Rapunzel? That’s why you’re mad at me?”

“I was just trying to look out for you.” She grumbles. “But it’s clear that you don’t seem to care.”

She hefts a heavy sigh. “Rapunzel, that’s not your decision to make.” A glare masked her features. “And frankly, it’s really none of your business.”

“Oh! So what? All of a sudden it’s a crime for me to worry about my best friend?”

“I didn’t say that.”

“No? But you were implying it!”

“Look, I wasn’t-“

“Yes you were, Moana! And you know it!”

“Rapunzel, can you just listen to me for one second?”

“Why should I?”

Moana winces, noting how the tone in her friend’s voice had raised a semitone higher. Even she herself knew that for her sake, it was probably a much a better idea if her mouth just stayed shut. Throw away the key somewhere far, far away that left no traces of where its DNA travelled to. After all, it looked like the situation was only going to get uglier from here. There was no doubt about it.

“Look,” She sighed. “I really don’t want us fighting over this, okay?”

A harsh sigh from her. “Well, I really didn’t wanna have to fight with you over this either, Moana.” Her brows dented even further. “But it seems to me like you don’t wanna listen to what I have to say.”

“Rapunzel, it’s not like that, okay? I just think that this should be my decision to make, and-“

“See? There you go again!” She throws up her hands. “Just completely disregard anything that I have to say!”

“I’m not disregarding what you’re trying to-“

“Yes you are!” She finally turns to face her, and Moana wished that she hadn’t. “You’re doing it right now! Just like you always do!”

“Rapunzel, that is not true. I’ve never-“

“Yes, you have! And you will continue to do so!”

“Oh my gods! Rapunzel, are you being serious right now?”

“Yes, I am!” She cups her hands around her hips, seething. “And frankly, I think you’re being selfish!”

A big insult was there. “I’m being selfish?!” Moana finds her brows merging to dent deeply. “Really?! I’m the one that’s being selfish?!”

“Yes, you are being selfish, Moana!”

“And how the hell am I the one that’s being selfish, Rapunzel?!”

“Ugh! Do I need to repeat myself?!” She glares, practically shouting. “Because, you’re not listening to what it is that I’m trying to tell you, Moana!”

“And what is that, exactly?” Moana harshly crosses her arms over her chest. “Hm? That all men are pigs that just wanna get inside your pants all the time?!”

“They are pigs, Moana!” She takes a slight step back. Hearing Rapunzel yell was something that was entirely foreign to her. At least when she would yell, it was never directed towards her. “They all are!” Her face is red, and she’s seething. “Especially the one that you’re living with!”

Insult upon insults. Moana had to do everything in power to calm her seething heart down. How she desperately wanted to shout the words that were mere seconds from slipping off the tip of her tongue. But even she was intelligent enough to know that that would for sure cause havoc to wreak.

(Inhale)

(Exhale)

“You don’t even know him, Rapunzel.”

“And neither do you!

Moana chews on her lower lip. Brows denting much deeper that she was pretty sure her forehead would have creases for life. For her sake (most importantly, for the sake of her best friend), she had to resist the urge to control the fuming inside of her. But unfortunately, she was finding it a challenge to do so.

Every word that came out of Rapunzel’s mouth stung, only fuelling the sudden fire that was burning inside of her. It was like Rapunzel’s words had harshly bit off a chunk of her dignity, which was something that did not fit her personality at all. Every violated phrase was like gasoline to it, and Moana could feel the tension in her jaw squeezing. Her knuckles clenched in the crooks of her arms, transitioning to a shade of white.

“He’s my friend.” She grounds out through her teeth. “He wouldn’t do that to me.”

“Oh yea? Is he really your friend, Moana?” Moana’s gaze hardens as her eyes follow as Rapunzel takes a threatening step towards her. Face to face. Glaring heat waves at one another. “Last time I checked, friends don’t ask other friends to sleep with them when they know that they’re sick!”

Moana takes a deep breath. “You don’t know him.” She settles on again.

“And like I said, neither do you! If he was really your friend, then he wouldn’t be-“

“What if I decide to sleep with him?”

She spoke before she had time to process her words. And noting how the glare on Rapunzel’s face had hardened, she knew that she had hit a nerve. And frankly, right now, caring about that was the last thing on her mind.

Rapunzel blinks, though the glare is still masked on her features. “What?”

“I said, what if I do decide to sleep with Maui?” Moana shrugs. “Then what happens?”

Her gaze searches hers. “You slept with him already?”

Moana swallows. “No.”

(Liar)

“You’re going to sleep with him, aren’t you.” It wasn’t a question. More like a matter of fact statement.

She cocks a threatening brow. “What if I do?”

Rapunzel opens her mouth to speak, and Moana finds herself wincing at the words that are about to come next. But when she sees that her mouth snaps shut, it was clear who the winner was.

She answers with a scoff. “Fine.” She says with a snarl and turns at the sound of the machine beeping. “Go ahead and sleep with him. See if I care.”

‘Rapunzel, I’m sorry. It’s not like that. I shouldn’t have said any of that. I’m sorry.’ She wanted so desperately say. Because fighting with her best friend was the absolute last thing on the planet that she wanted to do. “Then I will.” She says instead. And even her own choice in words left a bitter taste on her tongue.

When she turns to face her, her green eyes were narrowed, rigid, cold, and hard. Once more, Moana knew that she was the enemy. And frankly, it did not leave a pleasant feeling swirling about in her system. Her arms were still crossed over her chest, and her brows were still dented. Really and truly, she hoped that this wasn’t going to be the last time that she would ever see her best friend again. It couldn’t be.

With a curl of her lips, she snarls, “Have fun getting your heart broken.”

And she grabs her files, turns her back and marches out the door without another word. Moana is left by her lonesome, with only the annoying sounds of the beep beep keeping her company. She heaves a deep sigh, staring after her friend as she rounds the corner and disappears into the hallway.

‘What the hell did I just do?’

And it was then, that Moana immediately felt the longing and regret aching inside of her.

And now, all she longed for was her best friend to come back.


Maui rubs the bridge of his nose and stifles a muffled yawn in the process. He hadn’t been expecting to receive an urgent text that morning at five thirty am from Nani. The text had informed everyone that there was a major meeting in which was mandatory for every single employee to attend. It was the message Maui needed, but at the same time, it was one that had completely caught him off guard.

So to say, the board meeting that had taken place just fifteen minutes ago had tired him out so much, to the point where at the time, he had to try his best not to let himself fall asleep during the commotion that had been going on. But this wouldn’t be the first time that Maui had to force himself to stay awake during any meetings that would take place. After all, it really didn’t seem like anything was being handled properly in the way that it should be. Apparently, the issue this time, was the fact that Financial Technology (otherwise known as ‘FinTech’) companies have started to take over from the way that traditional banking has been done. The string of complaints from the rest of the employees were arguing that with FinTech coming into use, this would create a whole load of chaos to ensue. While others had complained that these new companies puts a massive strain on traditional banks (like themselves) because they wouldn’t be able to adjust quickly to the drastic changes.

Blah, blah, blah.

And more blah, blah, blah.

In all honesty, at the time, Maui didn’t see what the big fuss was about. Nor did he really care to fully be sympathetic to what it was that was going on around him. Truth be told, it was like having to listen to a bunch of children panicking, throwing tantrums and having meltdowns that the mean teacher was going to take their toys away. Again, if he was being honest with himself, the fact that he had to sit there and listen to these rambunctious strings and outbursts and complaints, had driven him up the wall. So much to the point where it had angered and annoyed him to see grown adults bickering and whining about this and that, rather than to come together and think of a way to properly work this out.

He’d seen children act more mature than this.

Well, aside from Bob, who at the time had been calm about the whole thing. And Nani, who seemingly tried her best to handle the situation in a mature manner.

But aside from those two, in the end, nothing really got resolved.

So to say, half the day had been wasted.

So when he left the meeting with one hell of a headache, a grumbling belly and extreme annoyance burning inside his chest, he immediately had dived into the drawer to his desk to retrieve his phone, eagerly checking for any more notifications or messages that were flagged as urgent. It was no surprise that his inbox was already overflowing with numerous emails that either had attached tax forms that needed to be printed and faxed over, or forms that were in need of his signature as proof that he was indeed part of the TB banking branch of Vancouver.

It didn’t even surprise him to find that even his Junk box consisted of emails from various users and code names that never once seemed the least bit familiar to him. If he had the opportunity to just chuck his phone to planet Mars and never have to see it again, he would’ve gladly done so without any hesitation whatsoever.

But then again, water bills and monthly car payments weren’t going to pay themselves. So unfortunately, he was out of luck in that department.

Though, it was just a thought after all.

(Sort of)

But it was the little red little bubble on his phone indicating that he indeed had a text message. After all, it was pretty rare that he would receive text messages, considering the fact that the only messages he received on a daily basis were the ones from work.

He perks up in his seat, pressing his mouth into a thin line as he hovers his thick thumb over the little icon, and taps it without a second thought. And when he opens the message, he has to try and supress the urge to curl his lips into a Cheshire cat-like grin.

From: Moana Waialiki

Just thought I’d send you a quick text. Thought about everything that happened in the past two days with us. Our conversation outside, our morning at breakfast….and…heh…even when we spent the night together….if you know what I mean *ahem* :-$ I just wanted to thank you for everything, Maui. You truly are an incredible human being, and I’m so grateful I’m getting the chance to know you:-)
Have an amazing day at work.
~Moana, xoxoxo

The message had been sent at 9:30am. Right before he had gone into the meeting. He takes a minute to scan his eyes over to where the time hovered at the top of the screen.

11:45am.

Nearly two hours later. Maui would be lying to himself if he tried to deny the fact that seeing Moana’s sweet text message was exactly what he needed.

It was funny to think how much one person’s presence (whether it be physical or emotional) could turn even the darkest days into the brightest ones. And maybe for once, Maui was beginning to learn why it was that people were often so content with getting into relationships and deciding to have the courage to settle down with only one person for the rest of their lives until the day they part from the Earth plane.

And after having gotten the opportunity to spend not only the night with her, but having spent the whole entire day with her yesterday, for once, he was starting to see the brighter picture.

But the real question still remains; where do they stand?

Are they officially a couple?

Friends with benefits?

And most importantly, was this turning into (dare he think it)…..

Love?

Love…..

‘What the hell is love anyway?’

He didn’t know. And still to this day, the answer remains a mystery.

“Maui?”

He looks up. He had expected to see the ‘infamous’ Eugene Fitz Herbert standing in his doorway and looking like Hollywood’s biggest movie star. But instead, he was shocked (and slightly relieved) to see the person he least expected, knocking lightly on his door. The smell of coffee spilling in from the hallway.

“Nani. Hey.” He gives her a genuine smile. “What’s up?”

“Hm…Nothing much. Just wanted to come and see how you were doing after that….” She shakes her head and heaves a heavy sigh, “after that…meeting we had earlier.”

“Ah, well, I’m…okay I guess.” He rubs the back of his neck. “The meeting itself was pretty….interesting.

“It was a disaster.”

He chuckles lightly. “Glad to hear that coming from your mouth as instead of mine.”

She shakes her head again. “Well, that’s the truth, unfortunately.” Then another long sigh. “I’ll have to have a word about this with Bob soon.”

“You do that.” He nods, then his gaze ventures to the two cups in her hand. “Coffee run I see?”

“Oooh yes. Especially after that meeting, absolutely.” She walks toward his desk and reaches out her hand. “I figured you could use a little pick me up as well.”

“Ah, you read my mind.”

“Black, two sugars. Just how you like it.”

“Huh, impressive.” He gladly accepts the cup from her. The thick cardboard was warm against his palms. “You really are a true friend.”

“Well, of course I am.” She smirks, making a dramatic flip of her hair. “After all, what are friends for?”

He chuckles. “Yea, yea. Whatever.”

“Well then, here’s to more crappy meetings.”

She raises her cup in the air with an amused smile. Another chuckle from him as he shakes his head and raises his own cup.

“To crappy meetings.”

They tap their cups against one another. A rather pathetic type of ‘cheers’, but really, who was judging? They tilt their cups to their mouths. For once, Maui had to admit that the companies’ coffee here tasted far better than it ever did at Tim Horton’s. He was definitely going to have to reconsider his once-a-week rendezvous to Tim Horton’s at lunch time from now on.

“Mm…” He mumbles through a mouthful of coffee. But he quickly lets it rush down his throat. “Remind me to ask you to go on coffee runs for me more often.”

A chuckle from her. “Whatever.”

Another chuckle from him as he tilts his cup to his mouth once again.

“So….what else is new with you lately?” She asks casually. “I feel like I haven’t seen you in a while.”

He swallows the liquid down his throat. “Eh, nothing really.” He shrugs. “Just the same old, same old.” He looks at her. “What about you?”

“Eh, the same, I guess.”

“Well that doesn’t sound too bad.”

She cradles her cup in her hand. “Nah, not really.” Then she looks downward, tracing her finger around the seam of the cardboard. “So…how are things going with you and Moana?”

“Moana?”

“Yes. Moana.” She looks up at him. “Are things going well between you two?”

(Of course! Women are always so nosey aren’t they?!)

“Uh, yea!” He quickly tosses his phone to the side. “Things are going great between us, actually.”

“Is that so?”

“Absolutely! One hundred percent!” His lips tilt into a small smile. “She’s been….” His mind immediately shift back to the events of the two nights before. “…She’s been great.”

A small smile from Nani. “That’s good.” She nods. “I’m glad to hear.”

“She’s great company to have.” The words provoked the sudden butterflies to swirl about in his stomach. “She really is.”

“And….she’s happy?”

“Of course.”

“You’re treating her well….right?”

He furrows his brow. “Of course I am.” A chuckle, though it’s not one that exactly signifies humor. “Why wouldn’t I be?”

“Oh, y’know, just wondering, that’s all.”

He studies her. Noting how she’s now leaning casually against the frame of his door. Hip jutted outwards and her hand cupped around it. It was mostly the weariness and apprehension that was painted on her features that had Maui suddenly feeling like he was in an interrogation room.

“…Is that all?” He asks curiously.

She presses her lips into a thin line. Her features immediately switching to a 180 turn that neither of them saw coming. She taps her foot vigorously. Maui furrows his brows even more, but it was clear that he knew that there was something else that was soon to follow.

“Look, Maui,” She says with a sigh, “I know it’s…really none of my business.” She pauses to study his features. “But, about a week ago, I couldn’t help overhearing…some things.

He cocks a brow. “Some things? Like…what exactly?”

She chews on her bottom lip. Then she turns to look over her shoulder to make sure that the hallway was completely vacant. Then she turns back to him, and opens her mouth to speak.

“I…” Another heavy sigh. “I heard your conversation with Eugene.”

“My conversation with Eugene?”

“Mhm.”

He didn’t have to ponder twice about what she was getting at. He knew exactly what she was talking about. And at this point, Maui could feel his blood burning under the surface of skin and tissue. His heart vessel was pumping blood faster than the speed of lightening. Of course, this is what he gets for having conversations with some egotistic maniac like the ‘infamous’ Eugene Fitz Herbert himself.

“O-oh….that?” He scratches the back of his neck. “Uh…yea, you see….um…that wasn’t really important.”

“I heard what he was telling you, Maui.”

He swallows. “…Y-you mean…” He makes small gestures with his large hands. “…that whole thing…t-the thing about-“

“I heard everything.” She tells him in a stern tone. “Including the part about Moana.”

The blood immediately drained from his skin. His face now caricatur