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The first couple of months were hard to deal with for Ariel when Joe dropped her off from and to work because her co-workers were being a bit too obviously amused by it. Her boss was okay with it, but all the other officers were all over Joe. Ariel was known to be professional and she never talked about her social life, so when Joe first dropped her off, they thought he was her brother. But when Ariel cleared it up, much to her own dislike, her co-workers bombarded Joe with questions that he didn’t know how to answer.
Then came the flowers. Ariel knew Joe was getting in way too deep when he started sending her random flowers to her office even after she told him not to. He knew she would accept them this time and her co-workers would tease her mercilessly for it. She was getting sick of it but couldn’t throw them away until they died because she didn’t want to hurt Joe’s feelings.
And everyday, when she would waited for Joe to pick her up, her co-workers would all stop working for about five minutes to check when Joe would come in and they would hoot and holler as if he was Richard Gere in a sailor suit. Ariel would be mortified, but Joe was amused by it. He would give that same half-smile and shy wave to her and then at her co-workers before taking her home. This is what she got for never learning to like driving, she thought.
By now, however, Ariel had become accustomed to the embarrassing stares and her co-workers immaturity. As long as Joe wasn’t hurt or teased, she was okay with it. He was enjoying the attention too and he really seemed happy just to be around her. What was uncomfortable was she was enjoying his company too.
It was around the beginning of Spring, and Ariel and Joe had become exceptionally close. They weren’t dating, but had a solid friendship. Joe still made things quite apparent that he had feelings for her, but never tried to take the next step towards a relationship. She figured he was too shy to make the first move…or maybe was reluctant to because he had been rejected before. When she asked him about it, he became speechless.
“W-why are you asking me this all of a sudden?” he said, obviously still uncomfortable with her bluntness. They were grabbing a hot dog for lunch at the park they usually walk at and he had almost dropped his when she asked him.
“I just wanted to know,” she shrugged, taking a bite of hers as they walked slowly through the pathway. “When are you going to ask me out?”
“I didn’t know that was an option,” he said, a bit shocked that she would even ask him.
“It’s not, I just wanted know why you never asked me out,” she continued, finishing her dog. “I would still reject you, but it would be nice to be asked.”
“You little stinker!” he nudged her arm, playfully. “My feelings are not for you to toy with.”
“Speaking of toys, can I play with your camera now?” she asked, pointing to his SRL. “I cleaned my hands.”
“You’re such a kid,” he laughed before he finished his own hot dog. Taking the camera sling off his neck, he handed her the camera . “Here.”
“Nice,” she smiled widely as they stopped walking and she took his camera. “What have you been shooting these days?”
“Random stuff, mostly,” he said, watching her obsessively examining the cameras photos. “You wouldn’t understand.”
She stuck out her tongue at him for that. Scanning through the photos, Ariel looked for the photos she took. “Where are my pictures?”
“You mean the ones of your stuffed animals?” he scoffed. “I deleted them!”
“You deleted them??” She screeched. “They were important to me! How could you?”
“They took up too much memory!” he yelled back playfully. “If only I knew this strange habit of yours, I wouldn’t have liked you so much in high school.”
She punched him on the arm for that. “You suck, man.”
“You are so strange,” he said, tapping her on top the head. “How much do we have left before you go to work?”
“I’m mad at you,” she said before storming off.
“Hey,” he yelled out as he caught up to her. “Are you really mad?”
When she didn’t respond, he knew she had had enough so he pulled out a USB card out of his coat pocket. He took her hand so she’d stop walking and dangled the card in front of her. She gave him a frown as he placed it in her hand. On the card was a note, which made her almost want to punch him in the stomach.
“April fools!” he revealed, with a brilliant smile. “You really thought I’d delete your photos without making copies? But your photos really were taking up a lot of my memory so I put all of them in the USB.”
Joe thought she’d be touched by all this but she wasn’t. He could see that after a moment where she looked like she could possibly have been, her face changed into a deep frown. With a stiff finger pointed towards him she didn’t look happy at all.
“You lied to me,” she accused.
“It was a prank,” he corrected, batting her hand away. “And you were the fool. Get it? April fools?”
“I hate you,” she pouted.
“No you don’t,” he laughed and gave his signature half smile.
She blew him a raspberry and marched her way back to her office. She was mad the entire work day and didn’t answer any of the texts Joe sent her. By the time he was supposed to come pick her up, Ariel still wasn’t ready to forgive and forget. As the normal fanfare from her co-workers rose up to her attention, she walked to the exit where Joe normally waited for her to drive her home.
He knew she was still mad, so he decided to treat her to dinner and a movie but that did nothing. She still kept a pout on her face and didn’t eat much. When they were finished, it was late and he decided to drive her back home.
“Still angry?” he asked her in the car.
She blew another raspberry. The drive home was quiet and awkward but Ariel was not about to let it go, not just yet. When he pulled by the curb, she quickly got out of the car while he went after her.
“Hey!” he called out.
“I’m not talking to you,” she finally answered while she neared the stairs.
He grabbed her arm to turn her towards him. “What’s the matter? It was only a joke.”
“It wasn’t funny,” she said, with a break in her voice. “You know how much those pictures mean to me, you shouldn’t tricked me.”
“Hey,” he pacified, rubbing her arm. “It’s not like I didn’t save them. See, you still have them in the USB.”
“I thought you liked me,” Ariel cried, putting a hand over her mouth. “I didn’t think you’d be so mean to me.”
Joe almost lost his balance when he heard her. “I do like you!”
Her muffled cries started up now. “And to think I actually started liking you.”
“W-what?” he screeched.
Ariel raised her head to look at Joe with big, pitiful eyes which made him mentally scold himself. Her cries were getting louder and he was getting more and more uncomfortable. She was so distraught that she wrapped her hands over her face and her crying became wailing.
“D-don’t cry, Ariel!” Joe nervously said. “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. What do you want me to do? I’ll do anything. Just don’t hate me.”
Her face was still buried in her hands but her cries were calming down. Her body was shaking, but he realized something wasn’t quite right. He listened carefully and heard what sounded like laughter.
“HA HA HA HA!” she laughed. “April fools!”
“WHAT!” he screeched, his heart falling to his stomach as she laughed harder than he has ever seen her laugh.
“I tricked you,” she heckled, smiling and now jumping up and down like a fool. “I got you! And it’s 11:59 so if you can’t fool me in one minute, I win!”
Joe was about to explode. “What I did to you and what you did to me are two VERY different things!”
“Loser…” she laughed.
He looked at her with a glare she had never from him before. But that just made her win so much more awesome, she thought. She was still bopping up and down the stairs from her high when she realized he wasn’t taking this to hard.
“You should have seen your face when I said ‘I thought you liked me’, it was priceless!” she said, calming down and facing him with a cheeky grin.
This girl, he thought, was too much.
“Oh don’t give me that look, Joe,” she scoffed. “I invented that look.”
“You’re not taking my liking you seriously enough,” he scowled.
“Well…” she said, peering into her watch. “You have about 20 seconds to make me take it seriously-.”
So he took it. He grabbed her by the waist and pulled her close enough to him so she couldn’t escape, brought a hand to the back of her head so she couldn’t pull back and kissed her. It didn’t last long but it was enough to make her blush. Just as she was about to kiss him back, he let her go and mocked her by sticking out his tongue before walking back to his car. Ariel remained still and kept a hand on her lips. When Joe reached his car, Ariel kept her gaze on him and slowly let her hand graze her lips, feeling the area where he had kissed her. As he drove off, her lips curved into a smile before heading into the apartment.
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