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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 MISERABLE. Anxiety came to them in an endless sea of waves. The weather reflected their mood, as it had been storming ever since they woke up. It was as if the rain, wind and thunder were attempting to break in and torment them further.
While they were still torn on what they should do about how they feel about their best friend, they at least breathed a sigh of relief that it seemed like, at least for today, their actions had been decided for them.

Grabbing a small bag of assorted nuts from their cupboard, they settled back on the bed and quietly let their mind drift. The internal back and forth continued, as their attempts to get what Ash had said to them out of their mind proved fruitless. It didn’t feel fair, having to put their entire friendship in jeopardy, just because of something they couldn’t control. Something they didn’t even want. After what felt like hours of brewing in their own thoughts, Frustration once again erupted from their mouth in the form of an agonized yell. In the midst of their commotion, they heard a knock on the door. Normally, they’d happily greet whoever was knocking with a song and a smile, but neither they nor this day were normal. They kept quiet, hoping whoever it is would decide to leave them alone, when they heard someone call their name from the other side of the door.

Of course, it was Miriam.

Quickly, they rushed out of bed and opened the door, finding their friend soaked in rainwater.
“Miriam!” Shouted the Bard as without a moment’s hesitation, they grabbed their friend by the arm and pulled her in the house. Despite bringing an umbrella with her, she was soaked from head to toe. Kiwi instructed her to take one of their towels and sit on the bed. She rubbed the towel all over herself to get dry, shivering all the while. Kiwi eventually came out with a fresh change of clothes for her. It was some of their older, much less used clothing. They didn’t QUITE fit, but they were dry, and dry was what Miriam needed right now. She quietly changed, using the towel to dry off what moisture remained on her.

“What on earth happened, Miriam? Why are you outside in a storm like this?” They inquired, in a voice somewhere between angry and concerned.
“Uh, I was running some tourist to Langtree when the storm started making its way over here. By the time I finished up, it was too stormy to fly, so I hurried over here to try and not get a cold, or worse.” Miriam replied nervously, the cold still clearly affecting her speech.
A bizarre silence followed.

“I also… wanted to see you again. We hadn’t seen each other since you started acting weird.” she added, a slight blush filling her face, a response that her friend copied. “What do you mean weird?” they replied. “I don’t know, WEIRD. You seemed different since you stayed over. You were so quiet, you barely sang or danced. As I said goodbye last time, I could have sworn I heard your voice screaming in anger. Even your friends pulled me aside and asked about you. they said last time they saw you, you were sad and frustrated, and you had a lot to think about.”

Kiwi fell silent as the roar of the storm attempted to fill the room with sound. They dejectedly looked away from their friend, unable to bear the fact that all they were going through was concerning her, yet they still couldn’t open up and just give her the situation. The two sat there, silence once again battling the elements just outside the abode.
“Kiwi, did I do something wrong? Have I been making you uncomfortable?” Miriam finally spoke,
a great sadness in her voice. Kiwi, without a second thought, turned to her. “Miriam, no! You’d never make me uncomfortable! I love the time we spend together!” Now unable to look away, they watched as the sadness on Miriam’s face boiled into anger, as her hands balled into fists. “Then WHAT!?” she screamed, surprising Kiwi with a sudden outburst. “I’ve been worried SICK because of something YOU aren’t telling me. I can’t just stand here and watch my friend wither away emotionally! Something is clearly going on with you. I don’t care what it is, just TELL ME so I can help you!”

Kiwi once again said nothing, turning away, tears filling their eyes. They hated this. They hated every single moment of this. Their best friend was angry, their other friends were concerned, everything was falling apart.

But still they couldn’t tell her.

“I…I’m sorry, Miriam. But I can’t. It might ruin our friendship.” they squeaked out, still unable to even look their friend in the face. “What do you MEAN “It might ruin our friendship”? It’s not like it’s getting much better right now.” She took a couple of deep breaths, then continued gently as she could. “Please, I really just want to know. I promise there’s nothing you would have done that could force us to stop being friends.” Kiwi struggled to respond, keeping their head down, face beginning to puff up with tears. “I...I…”

Miriam’s anger reached its peak as she growled loudly in frustration. “I thought we were past this, Kiwi! You were keeping yourself open for such a long time, and I was HAPPY! Because I CARE about you! But now you just wanna keep whatever’s going on to yourself, and for what?! So you can sit here and continue suffering while the people that worry about you are just supposed to stand and watch?"

Kiwi couldn’t handle it anymore, they resolved to finally admit what was keeping them like this as they heard footsteps, followed by their door opening, the roar of the storm reaching a crescendo. Miriam stood in the doorway, umbrella in hand, about to walk back outside. “Miriam! What are you doing? You’ll get really sick if you go out again!” Kiwi screamed, scrambling up to try and stop her. In between flashes of light, they could clearly see tears filling her frustrated-looking face, occasionally streaking down her cheek. “I can’t be here. You’re being so… STUPID right now!” she said, starting to turn back towards outside. She feels Kiwi grabbing her arm. “Miriam, wait!” Kiwi said desperately. “What do you want from me!? Why are you insisting I stay here WHEN YOU DON’T WANT ME TO HELP YOU!?”

“Because.” Kiwi said, taking a deep breath. “I’m in love with you.”

Miriam was completely hit out of left field by the statement. She stood there, completely breathless. Kiwi used the opportunity to shut the door. Both of their faces sported the brightest blush they’ve ever had as they both struggled to recover from the confession. Kiwi sat back down on the ground, hugging their legs, occasionally looking up at the object of their affection.
“That… was what I was so upset about.” they finally gathered the courage to say, in a voice barely audible next to the storm just outside. Their words snapped her out of the strange emotional trance she had been in. “Ever since that one night where you hugged me, I felt different around you. I felt a lot of different things, and I was so confused. Eventually, through talking about it, I found out they all meant the same thing: That I had very deep feelings for you.”

Miriam, still silent, could barely believe what was going on. Feeling dizzy from a combination of all of this new information and being slightly reintroduced to the elements outside, she sat down next to Kiwi as they continued. “I wanted to tell you, but I was so scared of what would happen if you didn’t feel the same way. I do really love you, but I also love our friendship and-”

“You didn’t want to lose it.”

They found their speech interrupted by Miriam, who was now staring in their direction. When their eyes met, however, she quickly looked away, still very red. Regardless, she began to speak again, preceded by a deep breath.

“I feel the same way. About a lot of it.”

Now it was Kiwi’s turn to be stunned and speechless as much as it was Miriam’s turn to talk.

“I’ve felt… like that for a long time. Pretty much ever since that day we- everyone saved the world, I’ve felt things I couldn’t explain. For a time, as we got used to just doing things with each other without some big looming countdown threatening to wipe out everything we know and love, I was happy just being closer to you. Being there when something was too much for you, and being comforted and encouraged when something was too much for me. I thought I could just be happy like that forever, but then I started wanting to be even closer. I wanted to be all feelsy and sappy around you, and have you be the same to me. But, you didn’t seem like you had feelings for ANYONE, at least not that kind, so I tried containing it, not thinking about it. Pretending I didn’t really feel like that. But it never went away.”

“I don’t think it ever does.” replied Kiwi quietly.

For a time, that was all they said. They didn’t know what to do next. This was new territory for them. The two’s nervousness was at an absolute peak, but they were also happy. Excited, even. The thought that their feelings were mutual made their minds race in ways they never experienced before. Eventually, Miriam felt a warm presence rub up against them. Kiwi had taken the opportunity to sit as close to Miriam as possible, gently resting their head on her shoulder, a big goofy grin adorning their face. It brought back feelings of shyness and reluctance, but she also wanted more. A lot more. With a little hesitation, she wrapped her arms around their shoulders.
“I’m not too cold or wet, am I?” she asked, stuttering like crazy.
Kiwi leaned more into the hug. “This is the warmest I’ve been in a while.”, they said contentedly.
With a gentle squeeze, Miriam replied: “Me too.”
They both kept the embrace for a couple minutes, one occasionally nuzzling the other with their cheek. Their worries slowly faded as they became more comfortable with each other’s touch, feeling their affection pouring out of them in one big torrent neither thought they’d see fully unleashed.

“So, what do we do now?” questioned Kiwi, opening their eyes.
“Well, I don’t really know, I guess we do going out stuff or something.” replied Miriam awkwardly. Kiwi started giggling at the statement. “Going out stuff? It sounds so silly when you put it like that.” Miriam got a bit annoyed at this response. “Well, what would you call it, since you obviously know everything?”
“Um…” Kiwi hummed with no real ideas, face once again slowly returning to a reddish hue. Their confusion made Miriam quietly chuckle. “You know, I thought you’d kinda be an expert on lovey-dovey stuff, since you’re… you, but you’re as hopeless as I am”. She replied playfully.
Kiwi chuckled a bit in return. “Yeah, I guess we’re a pair of hopeless weirdos.” they said with a yawn. “You tired?” she asked, noting the sleepiness in their voice. They nodded yes, still eager to cuddle closer when she let go and stood up, with Kiwi nearly falling over from a sudden lack of support.

She extended a hand to them. “We could take a nap or something. This isn’t gonna let up anytime soon, and I’m kinda tired, too. Being freezing kinda takes a lot out of you.” Kiwi took her hand eagerly as they gave each other a big smile before walking to the bed together. As they crawled under the covers, they shuffled around until they were close and comfortable. Miriam nestled right on top of Kiwi as they wrapped her arms around her waist. It was nice to lay there, exchanging warmth and gently having their back rubbed, but it was just as nice to talk so casually while it happened. They surprisingly talked about an assortment of topics. About what they wanted to do with their new relationship, all the new things they could try as a couple, how everyone in their lives will react to being told they were a thing now. (Miriam particularly shuddered to think how her grandmother would react, as she already suspected her feelings towards Kiwi before this point.) It was clear that they had a lot to work out, but they were ecstatic to try. Eventually, the room grew quieter, as more conversations trailed off more quickly. Kiwi, after some searching under the covers, gently rested one of their hands on Miriam’s, still keeping the other around her. They looked at each other for a moment, saying nothing, before smiling once more and returning to their positions, just happy to be here, in the moment. Quietly, despite the storm still furious outside, they drifted off to a very content sleep.

When they awoke, it seemed as if the storm had finally passed over them. Everything was still soaking wet outside, but the clouds were gone, and the sun’s warmth even made its way into the room. Kiwi got up first, then gently nudged Miriam awake. “Ugh, what?” she annoyingly muttered out, fidgeting. “The storm’s over. We can finally leave the house.” they replied quietly, smiling excitedly.

“Well, that’s great and all, but I’ve had a very feelsy day so far, and I’m kinda fine staying right here, where it’s nice and warm and I can be as sappy as I wanna be without other people finding out.” Miriam said. “I mean, it’s really nice being together like this, but think about all the NEW stuff we can do now, too!” They leapt out of bed, sliding away from Miriam completely. “Hey! What was that for?” she replied angrily.
“Miriam, what about all those things we were talking about doing? I wanna go to that Café in town with you, and tell my friends about us, and watch the stars with you, and-”

“UGH, FINE!” they heard Miriam say with a groan. “But before we do any of that, we gotta check out our garden, get me another set of clothing, let Saphy know I’m okay, and…” she kinda trailed off as Kiwi decided to embrace her. “Thanks, Miriam. I promise, we’ll do some more “feelsy” stuff later. It was really nice.” Miriam gave a long sigh, seeing their big, goofy smile as they said that. “I can’t believe I had to like someone so wound up.” she said as she hugged them back, her playfulness returning.

After gathering some food and other assorted supplies, the two of them walked out the door of Kiwi’s house. “Hey, Miriam?” Kiwi asked as Miriam readied herself to fly. “Could we just… walk there? I really just feel like taking my time right now.” they held out their hand again towards them. Miriam grumbled something about how Kiwi had to be so difficult while taking their hand, trying to hide the blush creeping on their face as they walked. As they started moving towards the next town over, the new couple was locked in wonder as they imagined everything the rest of today had for them. Some possibilities made them a bit scared, but they faced whatever was in store anyway, hand firmly in hand.