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Kiwi Gets Hugged

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In a small, somewhat isolated house, just outside the town of Langtree, Kiwi, the Bard that had united the world in song, was busy cleaning their house and packing some supplies in a modest knapsack, singing all the while. Dance and song were mixed into their work as they traveled around the house, picking up garbage, tending to the flowers, and sorting their wardrobe, excited for the day and the joy it will bring. Miriam, their best friend on the entire earth, was planning on picking them up to prepare for a Dinner later that evening.

In the days following the great restoration of the earth, The strange bard and the irritable witch’s friendship had greatly strengthened, becoming more open with each other than ever, particularly Kiwi, who found that while releasing their negative emotions felt alienating and unnatural, it also felt liberating and comforting to know someone would still be there to listen and care. This afternoon the two of them had made plans to meet up, and Kiwi couldn’t be more excited.
As fate would have it, Kiwi was just putting the finishing touches on arranging a collection of neat novelties they obtained from their various adventures, when they heard a knock at the door.

As they opened it, they saw Miriam in the doorway, broomstick in one hand, and a half-hearted wave in the other. Her expression had quietly softened over time, but still carried a certain amount of impatience and grumpiness. “Hey. Ready to go? There’s a few things I wanted you to pick up for tonight.” she said. “Sure am!” replied Kiwi, practically bouncing with energy. “You double checked your bag, right? I do NOT want to come back here because you forgot something again.” questioned Miriam, crossing her arms while simmering with annoyance at the notion. “Yep! Made double sure this time!” reassured the Bard, adding a Thumbs up motion. Miriam gets on her broom and motions to them to get on. “Wonderful, let’s get going.” Kiwi assumed their usual “seat” on the broom, and the duo took off into the air. After a few minutes of being airborne, Kiwi suddenly shouts “Wait, I forgot my clothes!” Their flight grinds to a halt, nearly flinging Kiwi off of the broom entirely. Miriam’s anger starts to boil over as she groans, gripping her broomstick with great force. Kiwi then pats her head gently and starts giggling. “hee-hee, just kidding, Miriam.” She is clearly not amused. “Oh, ha ha ha. Maybe comedy is your real calling.” she grumbled sarcastically, clear annoyance in her voice.

The rest of the trip was mostly quiet, which was unusual for the both of them. Usually, Miriam would go on and on about whatever latest job she did for money, anything from escorts to potion-making. Eventually, they arrived at Miriam and her grandmother’s house. After a quick exchange of hellos with Saphy and dropping the contents of their knapsack off, Miriam leads Kiwi to the side of the house, where the two of them had made a small garden. An assortment of vegetables were planted, some ready to be harvested, others still needing time and care. After properly tending to the area together, Miriam hands Kiwi a list.

“I’m going to go get some of this stuff ready, see if you can track down these things while in town. You're better at the whole talking thing." She tosses them a bag of assorted coins. "This should cover just about everything we need." "Will do!" Kiwi replied as they gave a quick saluting motion, then began leaping and twirling through the air, their trademark singing accompanying them.

"AND DON'T TAKE ALL DAY, OR I'LL MAKE DINNER WITHOUT YOU!" the witch shouted, piercing the sounds of the elated singer's solo like a knife through butter. As soon as they arrived in town, Kiwi began asking around for the items on their list. After a short time of purchasing the odds and ends, and a moderate time chatting it up with the locals and the occasional tourist, Kiwi returned to Miriam’s house, all items in their recently emptied knapsack. They already could pick up the scent of freshly cut and peeled vegetables as they began climbing the hill where their house stood. Miriam gives a sigh and a small “finally.” to herself as she sees them approach. Using the various seasonings they just obtained, Kiwi quickly begins cooking the veggies in a small pot hung over a fire pit in their backyard. They weren’t the best at it, but they were definitely learning.

Once the cooking was done, Kiwi brought the pot into the house. As they ate, sitting closely around a small circular table, Saphy would ask about Kiwi’s recent events, and they’d reply with all the stuff they and Miriam did together recently. Anything from just taking simple trips to venues to encouraging Miriam as she practiced her piccolo playing skills, to Kiwi introducing her to the locals. Even now, her grandmother knowing this much about her life is pretty embarrassing for her, not helped by her teasing Miriam about coming out of her shell.

“Well, I’m so happy to see my precious girl is finally opening up to people.” Saphy replied, gently grabbing her granddaughter's face and rubbing her cheek with her thumb. Miriam was still pretty red from all the compliments and praise from the both of them, but secretly enjoyed the reassurance. “Well, It’s getting rather late. I’ll be off to bed now. You two enjoy yourselves, hoo hoo!” Saphy said, getting up and slowly retiring to her room for the night. As the sun set, The two changed into their usual casual wear, Kiwi into a set of light blue pajamas, Miriam into a looser shirt she bought from a gift shop, black pajama pants, and purple slippers. Not quite wanting to sleep yet, the 2 retired to the couch.

Miriam sat down on the right corner of the couch, quietly reading a book, while Kiwi laid down the width of the couch on their back, head resting on her lap, quietly humming in between yawns. Both had a small smile on their face as they simply enjoyed each other’s company. Occasionally, they’d find something to talk about for a little while, like, what her book was about, or how that silly novelty collection of theirs was going, but eventually, the conversations would drift away back into nothing but the sounds of a tired bard’s crooning and the turning of pages. Despite this, it didn’t feel awkward for either of them. Conversation felt more like an option they could choose when they were ready, and at the end of a long day, they both appreciated that greatly.

“Alright, I’m gonna go to sleep.” Miriam said with a yawn. After a bit of fidgeting, Kiwi got up from the couch, standing up to let her leave. “Good night, Miriam.” they said weakly, overcome with tiredness themselves. As she got up to leave, she saw her friend, barely keeping balance, eyes half closed. The sight made her smile just a bit wider. Feeling oddly flooded with emotion, Miriam approached the sleepy bard and gently wrapped her arms around their torso.

"It's really nice having you over, Kiwi."

Kiwi was uncharacteristically silent and still. Normally, they'd jump at the opportunity for a hug, but all of a sudden, this felt different. THEY felt different. Nevertheless, they eventually returned the gesture awkwardly. Silence once again filled the room until Miriam started letting go, which Kiwi quickly mirrored. She noticed Kiwi was sort of spacing out, looking in her general direction, a small blush on their cheeks.

"Hey, you okay?"

...No response, though their eyes shifted away from her a bit more.

"I...didn't make you uncomfortable, did I?" She asked, thoughts already swimming through her mind about how she might have underestimated Kiwi's need for personal space.

"No!" Kiwi shouted, getting a "shh" from Miriam in response. "It's just… I guess I'm not used to GETTING hugged, heh heh…"

Silence filled the room again, but this time, it was haunting, choking.

"...I guess it kinda sounds silly when I say it out loud."

"Okay. Well, see you in the morning. If something's on your mind, you know where to find me." She walked away, still unsure if she made a mistake or not.

Kiwi returned to being lost in their own mind. Why did they start feeling so different all of a sudden? Why did they have this reaction to a hug, something they did often with no problems in the past? Why can't they stop blushing when they think about it? Why can't they stop thinking about it?

Even by the time sleep had finally claimed them, they hadn't come up with a good answer.