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Breaking Down Barriers, Chapter Two

Uhh, I uploaded chapter one here, right?
Putting two so that I can link it to the HMFic comm later. ...In the near future. Yeah.

Chapter Two - Put Everything on Pause

Gill decided to take a detour on his way home from Ivan's house. At the fork in the road leading to Waffle Town, he took the other path, the one leading to the beach. He stared at the ground all the way to the sandy shores, watching pebbles and grass quiver under his wake. Hands in his pockets, he took a seat on the grass on the edge of the sand's start, digging his heels into the yellow grains below.

The blond stared at the dark waters of the ocean, squinting to see the patches of water that shone under the moonlight. They shimmered and wavered as they moved with the wind, distracting his eyes for a moment.

He needed time to think. That's why he was here, on the beach, instead of at home and in bed. He rubbed at his eyes, feeling his eyelids become heavy with fatigue. God, I wonder what's wrong with me... I just went to Ivan's house in the middle of the night for a five-minute conversation. He's right; I could have just talked to him about it in the morning. But I didn't. Why?

In his mind, a picture of Ivan when he first came to the island appeared. He'd just arrived on a boat after the storm, yet his father was so eager to show him around. The rancher was dripping wet, but he still smiled when he greeted him.

Gill sighed as he dropped his head to his knees. There's just something about today's incident that was just... odd. Elli was just plain strange. She was acting as if she had something to... something to tell me. Or him. Or something. Ugh, women are so confusing. It shouldn't be that hard to read Elli, though, since we've known each other ever since she came to the island. And I was pretty young then.

The image of Elli holding a plate of fresh cookies popped up in his mind then. Raisin chocolate chip, his favorite. He remembered when she first started babysitting him. He always thought that it was unfair because she was only two years older than him, but she got to boss him around and tell him what to do. But they became friends over the years, and she was always someone he could confide in when times were hard. Especially when the mother tree died.

She always knows what's best for me. At least, that's what dad used to say when she babysat me
, he thought to himself, picking at the lint sticking to his sweater vest. She was supposed to be the female influence in my life because mom died. She's more like an older sister, anyway. Too young to replace mom. Though it was a nice try, dad.

Gill looked back to the sea. It seemed darker this time around, and the moon was higher in the sky. Dad always tried to give me everything I wanted. Everyone was like that. Yolanda gave me treats, Dale gave me wooden toys, Ruth gave me apples every fall... I always just assumed it was because mom died. Could there be any other reason?

He couldn't even remember his mother anymore. He was so young when she died... But I guess she wasn't what I came here to think about. I can't dwell too much on the past, not like the other villagers. He also knows this, too. We need to move forward. But right now, I'm stuck.

Ivan is very determined to revive the mother tree, and I admire that. I admire his knowledge of everything. I wish that he could tell me all he knows, but... Would that be too much to ask? Though he is a bit jaded at times, it's a sign that's been through a lot... I wonder what goes on in that mind of his. Farming, for sure. Helping out the mother tree, too. What else could possibly catch his attention?

The blond tapped his chin. Priorities of life shouldn't be that hard to remember...

Hmm. Oh, yes, the female population. I guess that starting a new life here means going the whole ten yards. He's always hanging out in the Town Hall though. It's amazing he has time to farm, yet alone help the mother tree, so I wonder who in the world he has his heart set on? Maybe it's Elli. But she already has a boyfriend back on the mainland... And I'm sure he knows that. Maybe he has a girlfriend back on the mainland as well?

The thought of Ivan having a girlfriend made his stomach jump. Blinking tired blue eyes, Gill straightened up his back in surprise. Why does that thought unsettle me so much? It's perfectly normal for people to have, uh, significant others. I mean, when someone is as handsome and as charming as Ivan is, it wouldn't surprise me if he...

Okay, I really need to sleep now. I'm going crazy.

Shaking, Gill brought himself to his feet, swaying as he felt his his spin from the sudden movement. He held his hands out to balance himself, blinking furiously. When he opened his eyes again, he saw the ocean and it's shining blue waters. The moon was closer to the horizon now, shining at him merrily. It was much, much too late now.

With the remainder of his strength, the blond hurried back into Waffle Town and into bed, thoughts of that persistent brown-haired rancher invading his dreams.


Elli looked worriedly at Gill as he leaned on the front counter, head on his forearms. His eyes were closed, but she could tell that he was fighting to stay awake.

"Gill, it's Wednesday. No one besides Ivan drops by on Wednesdays, you know. No one else is free, and I think he's off feeding fish to a bear or something..." the brunette murmured quietly, touching his shoulder. He twitched and muttered something unintelligible in reply.

She frowned at his stubbornness and took a step back. He raised his head and shot her a blank look with bloodshot eyes.

"I know that, Elli." He stared at her a little longer and sighed. "Look, I was up late last night, okay? That's all."
The baker scoffed, crossing her arms across her chest. "Obviously, I can see that much, Gill. What in the world were you doing?"

The blond turned his head away from her. "I was thinking."

Elli felt a little relieved that he wasn't doing anything suspicious, but this irked her even more. "You were thinking? What the hell could keep your mind occupied for so long that you come to work looking like this?"

Gill seemed to shrink away from her as he replied, "Nothing."

"Oh come on Gill, I thought that there were no secrets between us." Elli leaned in for a better impact. "I mean, I'm practically your sister. What kind of little brother keeps secrets from his--"

"Do you think Ivan has a girlfriend?"

The brunette was dumbfounded by this question. She closed her mouth when she realized that she had left it open to reply. She bit her lip, trying to remember if the rancher had ever mentioned a girlfriend. "No... He said that he came to the island to have a new start, remember? I think he severed all ties from the mainland, so that means that he could only be looking for a girl in Waffle Town."

Elli was still frowning as she watched Gill's shoulders relax a little. "And you and I both know that he spends so much time here that he practically lives here, so I don't think he has his eye on any of the girls... yet. Why do you ask?"

The blond's shoulders tensed again. "No reason. Just... curious."

She decided that it would be a good idea to leave him be, seeing as he needed to sleep more than she needed to know. At least, for now. "Whatever you say, Gill. But you know what they say: curiosity killed the cat."