There are two schools of thought regarding confessing your feelings to someone you love, in this case, your best friend of several years. The first, more positively believes that you should confess, lest you miss a chance of a lifetime with who could potentially be the love of your life. The other, well, it strongly advises against it, because if they do not love you back, you could lose that friend forever.
Of course, unfortunately for you, you had put all your faith into the former.
The look in Alfred's beautifully baby blue eyes said it all: You had just made the biggest mistake of your life.
"I love you!"
Perhaps he hadn't heard me the first time...
"I said, Alfred, I love you...."
He blinked, "Are you being serious _______?"
Oh god... He didn't just ask that, did he?
"Um - Yes... I am." You could feel the deathly dragging sensation pulling all your hopes to oblivion.
Gone was the usual, trademark Alfred grin that you had seen just moments before. Instead, a unrecognizable look was plastered all over his face, a look really wasn't a good alternative.
"D-Dudette... How long have...?-"
Your gaze dropped to the floor, "I've known, well, a long time I suppose..."
Oh god, you thought with utter embarrassment, this can't be happening... maybe I should have worn something a bit more 'potential girlfriend material'?... I just knew I should have taken Liz's advice and put more effort in instead of opting for smart-casual... Oh god... He looks so good tonight too... What have I done!?
This is such a mistake...
"But... we're like bros, ______."
Bros, your mind echoed in mockery.
"Um, yeah! -Yeah, of course we are.... Look, Alfred, just forget I said anything okay?"
He was staring down at his beer as if it had just insulted him.
"But, like, how _____? You've said it now. It's not like I can just forget you've said something like that, can I? - It's out there."
Looking around the bar, you found it to be overcrowded with New Year's merrymakers. And when you drew your gaze back to Alfred, you became soberly aware of how all your hopes of a romantic love confession on New Year's eve, and then, when the time came, a breathtaking kiss into the New Year with your beloved had flown out the window like a frozen chicken being shot out of a ballistic canon.
"...I'm sure none of them heard me though, Alfred."
Okay, as attempts at humour went, that really wasn't your finest.
You took a large gulp of [Favourite drink], wishing you were dead. Or at least several thousand miles away from where you were currently sitting right now.
Alfred shook his head, "No, ______ - I heard you. Aw, dudette, why did you have to go and say something like... -?"
You stared blankly at him, "Said something like what?" you asked slowly.
"Just, not said anything! I mean, come on ______. We've been pals forever, right? Why me? Why now?"
There was a sheer look of panic in his eyes as he spoke. He'd never looked at you that way before... In fact, you'd never seen that look on his face at all- he was the hero Alfred F. Jones after all, you didn't know he even knew such an expression, and you were the cause of it.
He continued, "Weren't we fine the way we were before? Going out for drinks as pals, watching the game together. I mean, dudette - if it's good, why change it? I just -- I can't believe you thought this was a good idea..."
Well excuse me, but I did. You thought indignantly, somewhere between my ridiculous, obviously delusional heart and stupid mouth, my brain was overridden with this idea that maybe, just maybe, you might feel the same way. I - the crazy, stupidly deranged loon that I am - found myself persuaded that I might be the woman of your dreams.
The reason for the many hours you had spent together - days of laughter and practical jokes ending in nights of heart-to-hearts - was that you were destined to be more than just 'pals'.
It had been a running joke amongst your friends. Matthew, his brother once commented that you and Alfred were like an old married couple, and it just seemed to stick. Every time you had gone out with Alfred people always mistook you for a couple. Even your female friends said that you just had this way with one another, as if you were completely in sync with each other's feelings. So, if it was this blindingly obvious to the world, how come Alfred couldn't see it?
Of course, you couldn't relay any of this to him. Sheer embarrassment stole the clever arguments from your mind so that right there and then, in a crowded bar on the final night of the year, you found that all there was to say was: "I'm sorry."
Alfred shook his head. "I did not see this coming ______. I thought we were friends, but that's all - now this, this is just weird..."
"Thanks for the vote of confidence, Al."
He stared at you, confusion evident in his eyes. "I-I didn't mean... God, ______, I'm sorry - I just, need a minute to get my head around this."
You looked away, focusing on a particularly harassed-looking couple clearly having a domestic on the other side of the bar. "You don't appreciate me at all, do you?" Shouted the woman, tears pricking the corners of her eyes.
Right now, you knew exactly how she felt.
"The thing is, ______. You've always been one of the guys, you know? You're not boring like Arthur is, I can have fun with you - hang out with you... But now -" Alfred stopped himself short. He was digging an impossible hole for himself and he knew it. Eventually, he sighed deeply. "I'm sorry, I'm not really sure how to deal with this..."
You'd heard enough. Swiftly, you rose to your feet, feeling the intense pain and crushing embarrassment pushing your body up off the chair. Your mouth opened with the intent to administer one harsh, devastating parting shot. But nothing came. You couldn't find the words to say at all, didn't have the balls to say them. Instead, you turned and fled the crowded bar, knocking shoulders with one of the patrons and who ended up spilling some form of alcohol on the hem of your dress and ungracefully made your way out into the bustling city street beyond.
"Wait - ______! ______, where are you going?! I'm sorry, dudette, please come back! ______!" Behind you, Alfred's shouts blended into the hum of partygoers. You picked up your pace, making your way against the tidal flow of alcohol-fuelled bodies, their countless faces looming up to you, jovial and merry. But still you pressed on, determined to lose him, placing as much distance as your could between you and him. You had humiliated yourself enough already, you didn't need Alfred to come back for round two.
You felt furious for creating such an awful situation. Tears were beginning to fill your eyes as you put on another sprint, rushing through the swimming mass of bodies. A part of you wanted Alfred to catch up, to catch you and grab your hand, to tell you that he had overreacted, that you hadn't been mistaken. But you knew that wasn't going to happen, and you hated yourself for wanting the impossible.
What was I thinking telling me best friend in the whole world that I loved him? Honestly, you'd never wanted to smack yourself in the face more than you did right now. You hadn't even planned to say it all - and now you couldn't quite believe you had blurted out you biggest secret seemingly on a whim. One minute you were talking about a game that was being released in the New Year - his smile was so warm and his eyes lit up in the way they always did when he was talking about one of his interests; next you were confessing the feelings for him you had been carrying for him for god knows how many years. What on earth made you think that was a good idea?
With determined steps, you made your way up the main street, intent on catching a taxi home. Half past Eleven, your mobile phone read. There was no way that you wished to stay in town for the New Year. You couldn't bare it. After all, what was the point in hanging around waiting for the New Year now? you didn't have anyone to share it with. You felt completely and utterly humiliated, your dress had a dark brown stain on it and you were pretty sure your makeup was a mess.
Stupid Idiot, you thought angrily to yourself, what were you thinking?
Angrily, you wiped the tears from your eyes - just in time to see a man walking directly in your path a split second before you slammed straight into him.
A collective gasp rose from a group of nearby people as you tumbled, helpless limbs flailing, in an ungracious slow-motion sprawl. A sprawl that resulted in an inevitable gut-wrenching crack as your body made contact with the unforgiving block-paved floor.
It took a moment for you to catch your breath, your ears buzzing from your head's unfortunate meeting with the floor.
Fate was really playing a cruel joke on you tonight.
"-Ughhh..." You heard a male groan to your side.
...And then you remembered that it wasn't just you that had gone flying.
"---Oh my god, I'm so sorry! I'm so sorry!"
As you raised your eyes to the person in question, your found yourself staring at who had to be the most gorgeous man you had ever seen. You had always had a weakness for blondes, that one of the many things that had attracted you to Alfred. But this man had the most silkiest golden-blonde hair you had ever seen, tied back in a messy way that only seem to add to his good looks. Involuntarily, you gasped slightly as his eyes met with yours, expressive azure orbs that seemed to flicker in the light of the Christmas decorations above. And when you thought he couldn't be more the Adonis, his well defined cheekbones and the slight shadow of stubble edging his jawline almost had you reeling in a swoon.
In true bystander fashion. Nobody around bothered to check that either of you were okay. If you wasn't morbidly mortified enough already, you were aware that some of the drunken onlookers were still stood watching you, most likely braced for the entertainment that would transpire in the form of a tirade of abuse by the man you had carelessly crashed into.
But he said nothing. In fact, he was just staring at you.
"...A-Are you okay?" You asked hesitantly, concerned that he hadn't spoken yet.
He looked a bit dazed, but nodded.
For a moment, you both sat there, silently looking at one another, your breath rising in little puffs of translucent clouds.
You couldn't explain why, but just then, at that moment, the sudden arrival of this beautiful stranger... It felt almost like a blissful reprieve - as if everything you had experienced was merely the opening bars in bringing you to this moment, this fateful meeting.
Neither of you said anything. And the awkwardness of the silence brought the earlier humiliation flooding back. You were a mess, you'd made an utter fool of yourself in front of someone seemingly... perfect.
His lovely eyes stared into yours, and his mouth opened with the intent to say something - but before he could even speak a work, you had already bolted down the street.
As you hurried away, you felt like screaming. Not content with ringing your friendship with Alfred and making a completely idiot of yourself in the centre of town on what was one of the busiest nights of the year, you had now embarrassed yourself in front of a really good-looking man.
Nice work, ______.
You stared out at nearby shop window, a little French Boutique by the name of Un baiser à minuit. During the days you had been out shopping for Christmas presents, you had simply dismissed the shop and its display - but now that you were standing before it, bored out of your mind waiting for a taxi to show up, you found yourself gazing the ornamental display with keen interest. One particular object had caught your eye specifically: a large, clear teardrop-shaped bauble adorned in tiny painted [favourite colour] stars - delicate brushstrokes that sparkled from the glass surface. It was beautiful, a real work of craftsmanship. Even though it was behind glass, you still felt yourself reach out in the hopes of touching it's icy coolness.
"It iz beautiful, non?" a deep voice said behind your right ear, making you jump forward from fright.
You turned quickly, albeit with slight fear at your potential perpetrator. Your eyes registered the familiar blue, red and white stripe scarf first, and then north to some equally familiar stubble belonging to the attractive stranger you had just walked into, who, apparently spoke with an incredibly sexy French accent too. Your breath caught in the back of your throat and you nodded dumbly at him.
"- Zhey make zhem in Paris." he commented with a small smile, moving to your side. "Each one is 'and-made from start to finish, and zhe detail in zhe stars alone can take several 'ours to complete.... Izn't it amazing 'ow somezhing so delicate and fragile receives so much love and care... It truly is dazzling..."
"- I'm rambling aren't I? ...My apologies mademoiselle, You ran away so quickly, before I was able to check zhat you were okay..."
"Oh, um... I'm fine, thank you. But there's no need to apologize, it was my fault for being so careless when I was walking."
"Non, it iz my fault also. But I cannot believe zhose people were just watching..."
You smiled, despite the blush you knew was glowing from you cheeks. "I suppose they were hoping for some entertainment..."
"Some entertainment! I fell straight on ma' derrière! Ohohohon~" He laughed, a deep, melodic rumble erupting from his chest. Almost immediately he hid his amusement upon seeing your expression, "Are you sure zhat you are okay, mon cher? I mean, you are not 'urt at all are you?"
His concern was touching, truly, it was. But baring in what had transpired this evening so far, the last thing you wanted was the pity of a man, especially a stunningly handsome one at that. "I'm fine, honestly, nothing broken at all."
"Good." He replied, his voice oddly soft, and as he stared at you this time, there was something more in his eyes than concern. "Look... - Ma chérie, zhis may sound... Presumptuous... Absurd even, but I'll say it regardless. I couldn't let you get away wizhout telling you 'ow beautiful you are. Zhat is why I followed you 'ere. Please, do not zhink zhat I am a psycho or a threat to you... or zhat I do zhis a lot: I don't. But you are beautiful. I've nezer met a girl as... jolie as you. I thought you should know zhat."
Stunned, you opened your mouth to reply, but just then a shout from behind you caused him to turn.
"-- Oi, Kumpel! Zhe countdown's already started, come on!"
" Une minute, mon ami!" He shouted back. He looked down at his watch, "Merde."
What happened next, well, was like time had sped up and slowed down at the same time. It was so dreamlike that the details remained frustratingly sparse in your mind. When he turned back to face you, the way he looked at you took your breath away. It look akin to when a bridegroom turns to see his bride walking towards him for the first time; a heady, overpowering mix of shock, surprise and all-encompassing, heart-stopping love. It was a look that Alfred should have given you when you told him that you loved him. But this was not Alfred, in fact, this man was completely different to Alfred - and that, in itself was part of the problem. Because, apart from not being the man who you had publically expressed your undying love for not an hour beforehand - this person was almost perfect: from his deep, expressive eyes and handsome smile, to the way that he had sought out to find you just to make sure that you were okay.
He took a step back from you, and you could see a battle raging in his eyes as the voice behind him called again, more instant this time. "Scheiße, come on, or I'll use my awesomeness on you Frosch-Gesicht! Gott verdammt! Are you coming?"
"I'll meet you in zhere!" He shouted, just as a group of drunk males shoulder barged past him, momentarily throwing him off balance - and straight into your arms.
In utter surprise, you held on to him and his strong arms reached to cradle your back. The shock of it blew all previous thoughts of Alfred instantly from your mind. Heart racing, you gazed up into his arms.
"Je suis tellement désolé, mon cher - I apologize, I 'ave to go -" He whispered, his lips inches from your own.
"But you're beautiful."
"Happy New Year, ma chérie..."
And then, he kissed you.
Although yours lips touched for the briefest of moments, it was unlike anything else you had experienced before. All those kisses shared with previous boyfriends, with lovers - none of them were even close to this kiss. It was the kind of kiss you expected to see at the climax of a Hollywood rom-com, and with a blissful euphoria sweeping over you , you closed your eyes and gave in to the unexpected gift of the stranger's lip on yours, all thoughts of the horrendous night dissolving from your mind.
It was almost perfect. Almost. But not quite. Because, as suddenly as he had appeared, he was gone: swallowed up by the heaving, unyielding mass of partygoers, singing out Old Land Syne off-key and kissing one another in New Years tradition.
You remained frozen to the spot for what felt like an age, dazed, and yet elated, heart beating wildly in your chest.
Oh my god, a New Years kiss - A New Years kiss with a gorgeous French stranger! You thought to yourself with giddy realisation. And then, from somewhere deep in the recesses of your consciousness, a thought began to push urgently through the swirling mass of emotions.
______! What are you doing just stood there?! Go after him!
"Wait! Come back!--"
You looked in the direction you thought he had gone, but there was no sign of him. Nevertheless, you began to shove you way through the crowds, rising on tiptoes to scan across the bobbing bodies for a glimpse of his hair or his scarf as you ran. And as you neared the location where you had originally collided with him, you suddenly caught a glimpse of that familiar golden hair, hurrying ahead of you. Heart thumping hard against your chest, you pressed on, gaining on him. Soon, you were within touching distance, enough to reached out your hand and tap his shoulder.
"H-Hey! You can't just kiss me and leave without at least giving me your name!" You said quickly with laboured breath.
He turned to face you... and your heart plummeted.
"Oh... Sorry, I've got the wrong person."
It wasn't him.
How was it possible for something so amazing to happen and then disappear as quickly as it had arrived? You wondered to yourself as you made your way back to the main street, frustrated and dejected. And how stupid was I for not asking his name? At least I would have known something tangible about him.
A part of you had begun to rationalise that perhaps you had simply imagined it all, a figment of your imagination your mind had designed to make the embarrassment you had endured today more bearable. Your stained dress still held lingering traces of his cologne, and your lips were tingling from your brief kiss, but that was all you had to show for an event so significant that it may have just changed everything.
All you knew about him was what you could remember. To all intents and purposes, he was just another stranger existing in a sprawling metropolis - another life living parallel to your own, with the chances of meeting him again minute, completely improbable. But when he looked into your eyes and kiss you, it felt like you had known him all your life. It was cliché, perhaps, naive really to believe something like that. But it was more than just an attraction, there was a connection that resonated deeper within you than with any other. That one single meeting in a lifetime of acquaintance was enough to alter your life irrevocably.
As you sat in your taxi, eyes cast out of the window, and with one finger absentmindedly in contact with where he had kissed your lips, you knew, with great resolution what you had to do.
You had to find him.