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Warning : Reader's discreetion adviced.. Underage readers, please do not rebel.. i have no intentions of offending anyone.. and i apologize if anyone's sensibilities are hurt.. this is purely a work of fiction.. hope you enjoy this one! happy reading!!
TO HELL WITH YOU..
He unlocked the door and slowly dragged his feet into the empty house.. He couldn't believe just a few hours ago he was rushing to get back to this place.. And now, he wanted nothing but to get away from it.. He had tried convincing her to come along, but she obviously couldn't.. They had gone over to her place for dinner after his sasurji had called her the umpteenth time to remind her to get back home.. He for some reason desperately wanted to have dinner with them.. He himself on the other hand had been pestering her that they not join her papa for dinner tonight.. But she had mercilessly refused all his offers and dragged him home.. Unfortunately or fortunately, he didn't know, Dr. Shashank wasn't home when they reached.. Padma mom had been quite miffed with them for the delay.. Apparently Dr. Shashank really wanted to have dinner together as a family tonight.. That is why he had called Anjali and Atul over too.. But before Riddhima and him could reach, he got an emergency call from the hospital and had to leave immediately.. Hence he could not join them for dinner.. As they learnt of this, both he and his Basket wanted nothing but to get away.. They had only come coz sasurji had been so insistent.. And now that he wasn't there, there was no need to keep up the pretence that they really looked forward to these family dinners.. Especially not when he was to go away from her the next day.. And also coz that heart-to-heart that they had two hours back was not enough.. He realized now how little he knew about his Basket.. He knew her well.. Better than she did herself.. But 'knowing' her and 'knowing about' her was different.. And he had not realized the difference until tonight.. He couldn't believe she was so attached to him.. Attached to him, not because he needed her, but because she needed him.. He wanted to hear more.. Now that she was telling him, he wanted to ask her so many things that he had always wondered.. But they had succumbed to Padma mom's and Anjali's emotional blackmail and had thus spent all their precious time with the family.. But Riddhima's thoughts had him occupied inspite of all the company that he had.. All through dinner he had been able to endure Atul's botanical description of the latest addition to his garden only coz he wasn't listening to him at all.. He was busy thinking about all that his Basket had said to him.. About her childhood.. About her loneliness.. About her fears and insecurities.. He would have never imagined that Riddhima was so insecure.. Someone who had gotten so much love from their family could still have such insecurities was a little hard to imagine.. But now that he looked back, he realized how true it was.. Everything she did reflected that.. Now he knew why she had not been able to speak to Padma mom about them even though she knew about them.. That is why she had always feared telling her dad about them.. Coz she never did that.. Tell people about her feelings.. Except him of course.. And he felt privileged that he was the only one she could share her feelings with.. When she had told him all that this evening, he had been too stumped to gather all of it.. But now he understood that weird feeling that he was getting.. Like he was high or something.. He couldn't describe it in words even if he wanted to.. Never ever in his life he had felt this way.. Even when they were together he was mostly so grateful to her for being there in his life that he totally overlooked the fact that she needed him the way she did.. He knew she loved him.. But he didn't know that she was as hopelessly dependent on him as he was on her.. And even if he had an inkling, he never understood why that was, like he understood it now.. The fact that she had given him a place in her life had fascinated him so much that he had not noticed how glad she was to be in his.. And that feeling was more than just the feeling of being happy.. It was inexplicable.. To know that he was the only one who knew her secrets, things that even her mom didn't, made him feel so____ He didn't know what that was.. But he knew it was good.. Like he was filled with it, but still wanted more.. It was addictive.. He could imagine what Riddhima must have felt when he shared his past with him.. He had never realized the need to ask her, coz he assumed she must've had a normal childhood.. Something that he had missed out on.. But that is not how it works.. Everyone has problems of their own.. Life is not a bed of roses.. Not for him.. Not for anyone.. And to think that Riddhima had had a fatal accident when she was only six, was as not normal as it could get.. The thought scared him even though he knew that everything turned out well in the end.. Now he understood why Dr. Shashank was so protective of her.. Though he had gone overboard with it, but he could sort of empathize with him.. He knew how it felt.. He never wanted her to see pain again.. Wanted to protect her from all there was that could hurt her, physical or otherwise.. But he also knew that the freedom she found with him was what attracted her to him in the first place.. He remembered how she had thrown attitude around him throughout their Goa trip.. And yet she had been so different with everyone else.. So polite and ever obedient.. But he would have never ever realized this if she had not come to the realization herself.. He had to admit she was smarter than him.. At least where their relationship was concerned.. He should have listened to her when she had tried to stop him from going away from her.. That was never the solution to anything.. They were meant to happen.. Destined to be together.. And though he was never a believer of things like destiny and fate, her presence in his life had forced him to at least acknowledge that a certain inexplicable power exists that somehow puts everything in place.. Like the two of them.. They were a perfect fit.. She was right.. As flawed and broken as they were as individuals, together they were as perfect and complete.. And the ups and downs, mistakes and realizations, was all a part of them being human beings.. And if feeling love was one of the perquisites of being human then the insecurities that accompanied it were a bane.. Like the fear he felt right now.. Of leaving her and going to that place that had shown him the worst two weeks of his life.. He had felt suffocated.. Not being able to die and not being able to live either.. That confusion and guilt had smothered him like none ever had.. Not even his lonely childhood.. And now he was sure that most of it was coz he knew that she was going through something similar.. And that too because of him.. He had seen that pain.. But now he could well imagine what she must have gone through in his absence.. The one person who she had been sure was hers forever had turned his back on her.. He was most important to her.. He felt like saying that again and again to himself.. It made him feel good.. But a part of him was cursing himself that he had not realized this earlier.. Why had he not pestered her to talk like she always did to him.. Why was he so contented with whatever she chose to tell him and what she chose to hide from him.. He shouldn't have assumed.. If he would have known earlier what she told him today, he would have never ever made the mistake of leaving her.. He could never do that to her.. Take away the one thing that makes her feel like she is living for herself and not for anyone else.. The one thing that makes her happy and brings that sparkle in her eyes.. And now he was doing it again to her.. Going away to that nightmare of his.. In those two weeks, he had seen a preview of what hell would look like, which he was sure he would see some day for troubling his Basket so much.. Coz his pain was not even comparable to what she went through in his absence.. And this he was sure of.. Now that he thought of it, she must be going through that hell even now.. At the thought of him leaving.. He knew well that she was masking her fear behind that smile of hers like she always does.. But the pain in her eyes was clearly visible when she watched him leave as her family stood at the door waiting for her to get in earlier tonight.. He sighed, wishing they could have gotten a moment together.. He didn't understand why Anjali and Atul were tailing him or Riddhima around everywhere.. Even when she came to drop him off, they stood at the door and that too with Padma mom till the moment he left.. Obviously he couldn't kiss her goodnight in front of them.. That was so unfair.. This heavy, sad feeling had engulfed them from the moment she had found out about his mom last afternoon and through today morning when he had that little outburst of his.. And the talk that had made everything seem so right this evening had its magic wearing off now.. Now that tomorrow was so near.. And the fact that he might not get time to spend with her.. Coz Padma mom had warned him to come on time for breakfast. And after their snub to Dr. Shashank's dinner invitation tonight, he had no choice but to be present for breakfast tomorrow.. Then they had a long day ahead.. He had to prepare for the surgery, do a bit of reading. And she surely would be busy with one thing or another.. And then he had to fly next evening.. Anywhere else would have been fine.. But the thought of being in that place, alone, without her, sent his heart racing in fear.. He knew he was being a wimp.. How childish was it to be scared of going alone.. Let alone embarrassing to the core.. He was a guy.. He had lived on his own all his life.. He shouldn't be scared.. And in fact he should not even voice his fears to Riddhima coz it would upset her more.. As he made up his mind to be a man and accept the fact that he had to go, he thought of what Rahul had said today as he was leaving for Chennai for some surgery.. "Yaar at least do din ke liye uss Muskaan se chutkara milega.." Muskaan had hit him hard and retorted in a "Thank god you're going.. I don't mind if you don't come back..".. He obviously knew they were joking, but it was true that both Rahul and Muskaan weren't really pained by leaving each others' side.. They would miss each other, but the way Muskaan had bid him a casual bye had suggested that they could manage a few days without each other.. In fact Muskaan couldn't even go to drop him off at the airport coz she was so busy.. Rahul had just taken a cab and not complained about it even once.. He wondered if Riddhima and him were too into each other then.. But now he realized why that was.. They were in a different place in their relationship than Rahul and Muskaan were in theirs.. They had the security of a marriage that him and Riddhima didn't.. And plus, they had just gotten out of a nightmare a week ago.. It was bound to make them jittery to go back to what had been the most painful phase in both their lives.. But now everything was ok.. Now he shouldn't be so bothered about it.. Enough of the nightmares.. Enough of the insecurities.. But that feeling of dejection was lingering.. And nothing he did was going to make it go away.. Unless of course he talks to her.. But then that would upset her.. He didn't want that.. He made up his mind to stop the nonsense and just go off to sleep.. Then he backed up on that thought.. They had just decided today that they would talk each others' feelings out.. Maybe telling her about this would make all this easier.. Had he not learnt it all.. And that too just today.. But how would he tell her.. Maybe he should call her.. But it was 12 already.. Maybe she was sleeping.. But he didn't want to just talk to her.. He wanted to see her.. Take her in his arms and take in her presence before he left for that godforsaken place.. Cursing himself for making that mistake of leaving her in the first place, he went in his room to change.. He was very tempted to go to the terrace as usual.. But Riddhima had him promise her that he wouldn't.. So he trudged to his room and sat on the bed.. This restlessness was going to kill him.. As he sat there, his face in his hands, he thought of something.. He had promised her he wouldn't do it.. But tough times call for tough measures.. And the circumstances had changed now.. Plus, he had broken more than a few promises.. One more would do no harm.. Making up his mind, he got up and took the car key that he had just placed on the key holder.. Then rethinking his plan, he kept it back on the holder and just taking the house keys walked out the door..
Riddhima came back to her room about half an hour after Armaan left her place.. Anjali and Atul had decided to stay over for the night.. So they had sat in the living room with her mom and nani and caught up with each others' lives.. The only highlight of the entire conversation was when they had spoken about Armaan and her wedding.. Nani had suggested that they fix an appointment with the pandit to decide the date.. That had sent Riddhima's heart racing in excitement.. She couldn't believe that their marriage was being discussed out in the open.. Not very long ago their relationship had been a taboo topic in this house.. That reminded her of the painful two or three weeks that she had spent without him.. She had actually thought that she had lost him forever.. Now she knew she was stupid in thinking that.. Coz sooner or later that oaf of a boyfriend that she had would have realized and not have been able to bear the distance.. And that is what exactly had happened.. He could fool the world, but she knew that he had come to Nikki's wedding only coz it was a good excuse to see her.. She knew he had forced himself to believe something that wasn't really true.. But her own doing, and her father's of course, had led him to doubt his own love.. But she had solved it all today.. And she was happy to see that guilt in his eyes disappearing for good.. But that happiness was marred by the fact that he was returning to that very place that had given him refuge when he was trying to hide from her and from his love.. The place whose name even sent shivers through her as it brought back painful memories.. She had not let him think it was affecting her.. But she was extremely apprehensive of letting him go.. But she had to understand here.. He couldn't be with her all the time.. And distance was good.. Didn't they say it made the heart grow fonder.. But why had the distance to be so soon.. They had just gotten together.. Anyway.. What was to happen would happen.. She didn't have much of a say in that.. But what was she to do of this feeling of extreme misery that was slowly engulfing her.. She had not felt so much of it till he was around and also till she was surrounded by other people.. But now that she was alone she couldn't shrug this feeling off.. Now she wished she had not arrogantly turned down Armaan's offer of running away with him for the night.. It had sounded silly two hours ago.. But now she thought it was a perfectly awesome idea.. The only problem was that it was too late for that now.. He probably must have fallen off to sleep.. And she hoped he would sleep well tonight.. Free of any guilt whatsoever.. But she was certainly not going to sleep peacefully.. She was dreading, and the intensity of the fear only increased, as slowly the time ticked by, bringing near the time when she would see him off at the airport again.. She didn't want him to go to that hell.. She knew it would torture him to no end.. And it would bring back to her all that she had tried to forget.. She had never felt more alone in her life than in those two dreadful weeks.. The mere thought brought tears to her eyes.. Controlling them, she quickly got up and made her way to the washroom.. She thought of having a quick warm shower.. Maybe that would calm her down and help her to sleep.. As she got out of the shower in her beige shorts and black noodle strap, she dried her hair, first with the towel and then blow dried them to dry it off fast.. She didn't know what hurry she was in considering she had the entire night to while away.. After drying her hair, she went through her daily after bath routine of applying body lotion to keep her skin from cracking, and then her cold cream.. Noticing that her lips were chapping too, she looked for her chapstick in her drawer.. As she rummaged in the drawer, her eyes fell on a box, bringing back a lot of memories that made her blush.. It was the chocolate lip balm that he had gifted her when he had returned from Singapore the first time he had gone there.. She had completely forgotten about it.. It had been just the next night after his return that they had been caught by her dad.. And what followed was exactly what she was trying to forget at the moment.. So she just diverted her thoughts back to that night.. Blushing to her reflection in the mirror she applied the lip balm that had actually been for his benefit. Too bad it wasn't going to fulfill that purpose.. But at least it would keep her lips soft and moisturized.. Just like the cover said.. She remembered how he had read that out to her.. And then said how yummy it would be.. Curious to know if it was true she just licked her lips a little to find out.. Yeah.. He was right.. Only he would never know.. She giggled to herself at that.. That had been quite a night.. But then when she had come home she had gotten that horrible nightmare of losing him.. It was scary to even think about.. But some thing just as bad had happened that day.. It had completely ruined them.. And she had thought it would be forever.. But that wasn't possible.. She was sure of that now.. No matter what happens, even in the future, one thing was for sure.. That they would always end up together in the end.. But that realization did not give her the expected peace of mind.. How was she going to see him go back to that place that had taken him away from her.. She didn't want to.. She wanted to be with him.. She had pretended to be cool for his sake.. But the memory of that pain even was too much to handle.. Even if she understood all that, him, their relationship and the reason he had left her in the first place, she couldn't control her feelings.. That fear gripped her involuntarily.. She got into bed slowly and pulled the blanket over herself, a lone tear now escaping her eye.. She drew a deep breath in and tried remembering their conversation from earlier tonight in hope of getting distracted.. But his thoughts only brought in a fresh bout of the dread that she was trying to avoid.. Then she remembered how they had promised each other to talk it out.. But it would hurt him.. But again that was not the point.. She was sure he already knew she was lying to him.. She'd probably feel better if she talks to him.. And she could also ask him if he was sleeping in his room and not on the terrace.. She had had to make him promise that when he was leaving after dinner.. But then he was well skilled at breaking promises by now.. So making up her mind to call him, she took her cell phone.. She called him and let it ring for quite some time.. But he did not take her call.. Maybe he had gone off to sleep.. Disappointed, she sighed.. Maybe she too should go off to sleep.. She was about to turn off the lights with her bed switch, but before she could do that, she jumped up suddenly by the sound of some rapt knocking.. And the fact that it was on her balcony door was what scared her the most.. "Basket..", she heard him hiss from the other side of the door and he heart went in a mad frenzy.. She ran quickly to the door not believing that he had climbed his way to her room.. "Hey sorry.. I couldn't take your call.. I was climbing.. Trust me.. you should never use mobile phones while climbing pipes.. It could lead to fatal accidents..", as she opened the door she saw him grinning at her naughtily.. and as shocked as she was, she couldn't help but let out a smile.. It had been so long since he had done this.. Then she remembered they had given up on his pipe climbing activities the day her mom had gotten suspicious and he had felt guilty of lying to her.. And that suddenly turned her smile into a frown, "Armaan!.. What are you doing here?.. Tum pagal ho kya.. "
He just walked in uninvited and sat on her bed like it was his.. "Basket, don't try to act that you are not happy to see me here.. I already saw that smile of yours.. And I know you were thinking about me.. And by the way you're looking hot..", he said coolly, looking at her, awaiting her reply..
Riddhima's mouth opened in shock at that last comment of his.. "Armaan!!", she yelled, sitting on the bed now, trying to put the blanket over her bare legs..
He turned to face her, grinning as he did.. "Shh.. Dheere bolo.. Koi sunn lega.. And why are you shouting.. Tumhi ne toh kaha tha that we should just talk about everything that we feel.. ", he reminded her..
"Armaan.. Stop it.. Why have you come here.. Kisi ko pata chal gaya toh.. ", she asked worriedly..
"Don't worry Basket.. This is not the first time I am doing this.. ", he said confidently, smirking at her..
She scowled back, "Armaan.. I thought we had decided you wont do this again.. You cant just climb your way in through the balcony.. Don't you have any decency?.. "
"No..", came his quick reply..
"Armaan!!", she raised her voice again..
"Ok.. Basket if you keep shouting my name out like that we'll surely get caught.. ", he said, shifting closer to her..
"You'll get caught..", she countered.. "Please Armaan.. Di and Atul are also at home.. Plus thodi der mein papa bhi ghar aayenge.. Oh no.. He knows your car Armaan.. He'll know you're here.. Please go before he comes back Armaan.. Please..", she pleaded, panicking at the thought..
"Basket calm down.. I know you think I am stupid, but I am not.. I didn't get my car.. I took a cab.. Trust me.. Whenever sasurji is involved, I make fool proof plans..", he assured.. But as he moved closer to make her feel better, she moved away from him..
"Armaan.. You took a cab at 12:30 in the night!!.. Tum pagal ho kya..", she asked, unable to believe him..
"Ismein pagal hone waali kya baat hai.. And could you please stop running away from me..", he said, a little irritated with her behavior.. Fine, she was surprised.. And she was panicking.. But why was she moving away every time he tried taking her in his arms.. He knew that was a sure shot way of cooling her down.. Only she didn't want to come closer..
"Armaan.. Tum jao.. Please..", she said, looking at the door, hoping every one was fast asleep.. But that was not her only concern.. She was in her sleeping clothes and had not expected this moron to turn up at this time.. She was uncomfortable having him close to her.. Not that he had not seen her in shorts before, but the fact that she was wearing only a flimsy hosiery noodle strap on top made her nervous.. And his 'hot' comment had added to that all the more.. And the daft of course had not realized why she was feeling uncomfortable..
"Theek hai chala jaunga.. But I forgot something here that I couldn't sleep without..", he said, pretending to be serious..
Riddhima rolled her eyes, but couldn't stop herself from blushing, "Armaan.. I am not running away with you..", she declared, though she really did want to do just that..
He smirked at her presumption, "Yeah.. I was talking about the good night kiss Basket.. But your suggestion seems fine too.. I cant sleep without you either.. ", he said creeping closer to her as he leaned in..
Riddhima's cheeks flamed crimson in embarrassment and at his suggestions.. She had wrongly presumed and he wasn't going to let it go.. "Armaan.. Tum seriously pagal ho.. Please go before papa gets back.. ", she said, leaning away, her hands on his chest to keep a distance..
And Armaan of course was a champ at this game.. "I am not leaving till I get what I came here for.. ", he declared, leaning further into her..
"Armaan!!.. Fine.. I'll give you your goodnight kiss.. Then will you go please.. ", she had no choice here..
"Maybe.. ", he said smartly..
"Fine.. Pehle kiss toh de do..", and he moved forward.. She let him kiss her, but did not let him closer, her hands still on his chest between them.. But that didn't stop him from pulling her closer by the waist and she gave in to the kiss almost immediately, inspite of her inhibitions, losing herself in his proximity.. His eyes closed automatically at the contact.. It felt as good as ever.. He could never get over kissing her.. And every time he felt something new.. Like today, he could tell something was different.. Only he couldn't place it.. When she deepened the kiss taking his lower lip, asking him to go all French, he got his opportunity to brush his tongue against her lip.. And that was when he realized what was different.. She tasted like chocolate.. And though he hated chocolates otherwise, except those of the dark variety, this was the yummiest thing he had ever tasted.. He could probably live off this chocolate if he had to.. If she would let him rather..
She felt him smile between the kiss and wondered what it was.. As she pulled out to check on him, she saw him still grinning and opening his eyes to look at her.. "Finally.. You used it.. Do you know how yummy you are?.. ", he said, his voice coming out all husky, making her go red in embarrassment..
"But I thought you hate chocolates..", she retorted, trying to fight her smile..
"Not this one.. I'd kill for it..", he said, winking at her as he leaned in again to continue the kiss.. But she moved away, pushing him by the hands that were still on his chest as she resisted his attempts to resume the good night kiss.. "Unfortunately Dr. Mallik.. Too much chocolate is not good for your health.. Ab jao.. You got what you wanted..", she said, getting all strict now..
"Please.. Basket.. That's not fair.. I didn't even get out of breath.. You didn't even start unbuttoning my shirt.. Yeh bhi koi kiss hua..", he whined, embarrassing her as she flushed at his complaint.. "Armaan!!.. Tum jyaada smart banne ki koshish mat karo haan..", she tried scolding him and trying to get away from him, though she didn't really want to..
He smirked at her lame attempts as he saw her smile a little between her rebuke "Mujhe koshish nahi karni padti Basket.. Main already bohot smart hoon..", he stated smugly, resisting her attempts at getting away by holding her in a tight grip..
"Yeah I know tum kitne smart ho.. Now please will you get lost from here..", she got a little irritated now that he wasn't taking her seriously.. Though she would love for him to stay, but she didn't like this troublesome Armaan.. And though she wanted to be near him, she couldn't.. She had her reasons..
But he wasn't going to leave.. Not so soon anyway.. "No way Basket.. Main yahan pipe chadhke tumse milne aaya hoon.. And you're sending me away.. Basket don't you want to spend time with me.. I am going tomorrow..", he asked her seriously.. "Ek toh pehle hi we didn't get time.. I just thought you must be missing me.. But apparently not.. Fine.. Main chala jaata hoon..", and he got up, pretending of course, to be mad at her.. Emotional blackmail always works.. And also this gave him an opportunity to make it sound like he wasn't missing her at all.. Now that he was in front of her he didn't really want to admit it to her that he was scared of going away from her..
Riddhima felt guilty that she was being so insensitive.. But he had caught her at a wrong time.. only if he would have informed her that he is coming.. But she also knew how much she was going to miss him.. That was the only thought that had occupied her mind after he had left.. she obviously wouldn't let him go.. not when he had come all the way.. "Armaan.. Just lock the door please.. I don't want to get caught..", she said softly, looking at him apologetically.. Armaan smiled at that and went to lock the door.. When he was done doing that, he walked over to her bed and sat next to her.. Her eyes widening in shock when he pulled the blanket over his legs too and pulled her closer to him, holding her by the waist..
Armaan raised his eyebrows when she squirmed at their closeness.. Why was she trying to get away from him.!!. "Basket.. Is everything ok?.. Tum ajeeb behave kar rahi ho.."
"Armaan you're the one who climbed up a pipe into my room and I am the one who is ajeeb.. That's pretty high of you..", she tried to turn the tables on him.. But he wasn't falling for that.. He just tried to ignore the fact that she was so stiff in his embrace.. Taking his arm away from her he folded them across his chest, "Fine.. So are you going to tell me the problem.."
"What problem?.. There is no problem.. And I should be asking you that, considering you're the one who has come to see me..", she deflected his question smartly..
Armaan scrunched his brows at that.. No he didn't want to discuss why he had come here.. It was embarrassing to tell her that he found it difficult to sleep in that house without her.. And that he so did not want to go to Singapore the next day.. So he just said, "Nothing.. I just wanted to spend time with you.. You know.. I am leaving tomorrow.."
"Armaan.. You're going only for two days.. Tum pehle bhi toh gaye the na..", she said, understanding now that he was apprehensive about leaving.. She knew she was supposed to talk to him about how she was feeling the same fear herself.. But she changed her mind now.. She didn't want to ruin his mood.. Especially when he already was upset..
Her words however had the opposite effect on him.. He was a little disappointed at her response.. She was really ok with it! It was hard to believe.. He knew she was lying.. But even he wasn't such a good liar.. Anyway he didn't want to look like the cry baby here.. So he said, "Yeah I know.. Toh main chalta hoon.. Breakfast pe milenge.. ", and he got up to leave.. He knew she wasn't ok at all.. But it irritated him to see that she was still acting like she wasn't bothered.. If she could put up this act, then he wasn't that bad an actor either..
Riddhima nodded, a part of her relieved that he was going and a part of her panicking at that move of his.. She didn't really want him to go.. But she couldn't stay too close.. She watched him as he walked to the balcony door and opened it, about to walk out when, "Armaan.. Don't go please..", she couldn't help herself.. She knew she wanted to be with him tonight.. And she knew he needed her too.. And that was more important than anything else that was bothering or embarrassing her tonight.. Anyway he was her Armaan.. How did it matter..
Armaan looked at her, surprised a little that she stopped him.. "Basket.. You are so confused.. "
"I am sorry..", she said as she got up from the bed and walked to him.. Taking his hand she took him back to the bed and sat down, tugging at his hand, asking him to follow suit.. He sat and looked at her as she eyed him warily.. Then sighed.. She was tired of this awkwardness that was creeping in.. After their talk today, she wasn't going to let this happen.. She had to tell him how she felt.. But he guessed that she was disturbed before she said anything.. "Basket.. You can stop pretending that you're fine with me going tomorrow..", she looked up at him as she heard him say that.. Then smiled.. Of course he knew.. Why did she ever bother lying to him.. "Toh even you can stop pretending that it isn't bothering you so much.. And you came here coz you couldn't stay alone tonight.. ", if he could confront her so could she.. He could try all he wanted to act all condescending and supercilious by confronting her.. But she knew him well.. He was as scared.. A baby at heart..
"That's not true..", he replied, looking away from her.. Embarrassed by the truth that she had stated in clear words..
She giggled at his discomfort.. But she wasn't going to let his embarrassment come in their way.. "Fine.. But I cant stay alone tonight.. ", she confessed, keeping her hand over his.. He looked at her and smiled a little, "Basket.. You're not alone.. You're at home.. With your family..", he liked her bahana, but it was different for him than for her..
But she didn't think so.. "I feel I am alone when you're not with me.. And I don't want to let you go tomorrow.. You don't know how it feels..", she said, her voice dropping decibels as she remembered that pain with every word she spoke.. She leaned her head sideways on his shoulder, holding his hand tight..
Armaan realized what she was talking about and tightened the grip on her hand.. "Riddhima.. I am sorry.."
"It wasn't your fault Armaan..", she said, sighing as she realized he was blaming himself again for all that happened when he decided to relocate to that hell of a place..
He chuckled derisively at that.. "You can keep saying that, but it wont change the truth..", was his retort.. He made it a point to stare straight in the front and avoid her gaze completely.. He knew that whatever happened was due to a misunderstanding on the part of them both, and not forgetting, her dad too.. But still he was the one who had taken that decision to go away from her.. He wasn't guilty about ruining her life or taking advantage of her anymore.. But the guilt, that he had put her through that pain would never go away.. And it probably shouldn't.. He deserved every bit of this rotten feeling to put her through all that..
Riddhima however was defeated as she heard him.. She had thought that she had rid him of his guilt.. But here he was still hurting himself by thinking like that.. What was she supposed to do.. Maybe this was her punishment for messing their relationship.. It couldn't have been so easy.. He had paid a heavy price for his mistake.. And now it was her turn to pay for being the reason he made a mistake in the first place.. She probably deserved this terrible feeling.. But he didn't!.. So she turned him towards her as she tried explaining to him.."I am sorry.. I don't want you to feel guilty Armaan.. Why don't you just blame me for a change.. I cant talk to you about what I feel if you keep blaming yourself and feel hurt.."
"But that's how I feel Riddhima.. I could have done something about it if I could.. But I cant change what I feel.. Maybe only time will decrease the intensity of this feeling that I just cant help.. And you know what will make me feel better.. If you just for once tell me that I was wrong.. Just yell at me and tell me that I hurt you and I don't deserve you.. ", maybe then he would feel the relief that he thought he so didn't deserve..
She smiled hopelessly at that, a few tears forming in her eyes as she looked him in the eye and said.. "But I already did that Armaan.. I already said all that to you.. and much much more at Nikki's wedding.. And even after that.. ", she could never forgive herself for saying all those things to him.. But that time she was so angry and so hurt.. And to top that he was being such a daft head.. But that had not given her the right to hurt him with her words.. She had actually said that she had wasted time on him.. How could she have.. That must have killed him..
Armaan too was thinking of those very words.. They were the most hurtful words she had ever said to him.. That she had wasted time on him.. But ironically those very words had made him break through his stubbornness.. Those words had made him go back to her.. Though he had still believed then that he wasn't right for her.. But he had gone back to her coz the pain had become unbearable.. His pain as well as hers.. And he knew that whatever she had said was out of anger.. Now he could understand that anger.. After knowing what he meant to her, she was obviously going to be angry at the realization that he wasn't as perfect as she thought him to be.. And he wasn't going to allow her to feel the guilt that he could see in her eyes right now.. "But you didn't mean any of it.. I know it hurt you to say that..", he said, trying to make her feel better about it..
She smiled at the way he defended her against herself.. Only he could do such a thing.. Anything that hurt her, hurt him more and vice versa.. And inspite of knowing that he was asking her to hurt him.."And you still want me to do that again.. Hurt you so it hurts me back!.. "
"No.. I am just asking you to acknowledge the fact that I messed up..", he said lowering his gaze.. He was finding it difficult to keep up with the conversation now.. It had started to go in circles..
Riddhima nodded when he said that, surprising him, that he looked up at her.. She caressed his face at that cute confusion on his face as she said.. "Yes you did.. But so did I .. We're always in it together Armaan.. We've always been.."
"But you tried saving and I tried destroying us..", he said, holding her hand that was on his cheek with his own, as tears threatened to spill at that terrible memory.. And surprisingly he wasn't as pained as he had expected himself to be.. It probably was because she was with him and he knew she would never let him go again..
But Riddhima shuddered just thinking of that.. She couldn't see him go away again.. It reminded her of how he had left her screaming for him at the airport.. Her tears spilled over as she looked away from him.. She took her hand out of his hold and said.. "I don't want to talk about it Armaan.."
"Why Basket..", he asked, making her look up at him..
As she looked into his eyes, all her resolve of keeping the tears in check broke and she hugged him, not caring anymore of the inhibitions that were holding her back so far, hiding her face in his chest.. "I wont be able to let you go tomorrow.. Don't go Armaan..", she murmured, feeling so much better in his arms as he ran his hand on her back to comfort her.. And he caught on to every word, amused by what she said.. This was his Basket.. The one who was unreasonable.. Smiling through his tears, he held her close as he joked.. "Then don't let me go.. Stop me.. I'll resign from Sanjeevni and do something else.. I am sure I'll get another job.. And if I don't, my mom and dad have left me enough money to last us a life time.. And I am sure I can borrow money from you when I need it, right?.." he knew he was jesting.. She knew he wasn't serious.. But the hopeful seriousness that had been in his voice for a fleeting second had surprised both of them.. So she dared to ask him.. "And what about the patient?.."
He smiled at her question, sighing as he said.. "Its not like there is not a single cardiologist in the whole of Singapore.. And even if not, I am sure if your papa tries hard enough he'll manage to send a good doctor there.. I don't know why, but I am getting a feeling that he's doing this on purpose.." and this comment of his got them out of the miserable tension that their horrific memories had managed to create.. She frowned at him as she pulled out to look at him.. "Armaan.. Papa jaan bujhkar aisa kyun karenge.."
"Mujhe kya pata.. Ask him na..", he retorted, pulling her back into himself.. He didn't want any distance now that she had willingly come into his arms.. But she was still stuck on that unlikely solution he had conjured to avoid going where he didn't want to.. Where she didn't want him to.. "Can you really not go Armaan?.. Will something like this really happen.. ", she asked him, an innocent hope still there deep in those green eyes of hers.. But his eyes reflected only disappointment.. And she read it right there and heard it as he spoke.. "I don't think so.."
Her eyes welled up again at that.. And she chose to not show him her tears.. So she hid her face in his chest again and held him tight.. "I'm going to miss you so much.. You know jab tum mujhe chodkar gaye the, I didn't feel like doing anything.. I felt so suffocated.. Like there was no air.. I was always so restless.. I tried to look calm on the outside, but inside there was just chaos.. I don't want to feel like that again Armaan.. It's a scary place to be in.. ", the confirmation that he was actually going had filled her up with those memories as those feelings were slowly returning.. And in the flow of emotions she had blurted her feelings out.. She kind of felt better after saying that.. And as she was hiding herself in his chest, she failed to notice the pain that filled his eyes when she said that..
Armaan felt the worst he had felt this evening in all that he had said and heard.. This was the first time they were actually talking about what had happened.. Till now they had been focusing on forgetting all of it.. And though he had an idea of what he had done to her, hearing it from her itself was a thousand times worse.. He could totally imagine what she was talking about.. Coz he had been to the place himself.. But it was unbearable for him to think that she had faced it.. Exactly the way he had.. Her words confirmed all his beliefs.. His eyes stung with that very pain, tears forming in them, for the pain she felt.. "I'm sorry.." was all he could say..
Riddhima didn't fail to notice his quivering voice.. And when she looked into his eyes, she saw the reflection of the pain she was talking about.. And for once, she accepted his apology.."I love you..", and she placed her lips on his, kissing him her sorry.. Coz he seemed to understand no other language.. He held her close and she held him tight as he kissed her back, pouring out his insecurities.. Replying to her in the language she wanted him to.. When they pulled apart he held her close, just staying there for a while.. Riddhima didn't let him go either, holding onto him, wishing they could stay like this forever.. And just as that thought crossed her mind she said softly, "Armaan.."
"Hmm..", came his reply to the question that had killed the silence..
"Can you stay here with me for the night?..", she asked in a small voice hoping that he would not tease her about it..
And as she had expected, "What do I get in return?..", he asked cheekily, leaning in.. But she pushed him away to glare at him angrily.. "Armaan.. Get serious please.."
"Fine.. If you insist.. How can I refuse.. ", he said, like he was doing her a favor.. He was obviously going to stay.. And especially now after he knew how miserable she was feeling.. After all that she told him, he had just dropped all his plans of telling her about his pain.. Now he had to focus on making her feel better.. He couldn't change what had happened.. But he didn't want her to remember that pain anymore and hurt herself.. And the only way was if he was around to distract her.. As he was lost in his thoughts, making up his mind to stop this depressing conversation, he didn't realize when she got away from him and up from the bed.. He wondered what she was up to when he saw her take her blanket away, then taking her bean bag she started dragging it out.. "Basket.. What are you doing?..", he asked her, his brow furrowed, as he followed her out into the balcony..
Without answering him, she adjusted the bean bag properly, then taking his hand tried to get him to sit.. he was just confused by what she was doing and didn't keep up.. So she almost pushed him onto the bag to make him almost shout, "Basket.. What are you doing?.."
But she just, for some reason, blushed and did not answer him at all.. She put the blanket behind him and the brought the ends to the front, wrapping him properly, confusing him even more.. He hoped she didn't want him to sleep outside while she slept araam se on her bed.. But all his doubts were cleared when she sat on his lap, sideways, curling up into him, her head leaning on his chest as he heard her say, "Armaan.. Wrap the blanket around me you moron.. Its cold out here.."
Amused by that, he grinned as he wrapped the blanket tight around her and pulled her closer into him.. "Basket.. Why are we sleeping like this.."
"Who said we're sleeping.. I thought we're talking..", she said, making herself comfortable in his embrace, still hiding her blushing face in his chest..
"And why exactly cant we talk inside..", he asked trying to look at her face..
"Coz its my room.. My rules.. ", she declared..
"Really.. And when it comes to my room.. Tab bhi the rules are all yours..", he asked, feeling betrayed by the unfairness of it all..
"Of course.. Tumhi ne toh kaha tha.. That place is mine as much as it is yours.. So your room also becomes my room..", she derived the conclusion, grinning as she placed a kiss on his chest..
But Armaan just frowned.. "So smart Basket.. My room is your room.. But your room is not mine!!..", that was really unfair..
"Of course not.. Yeh ghar tumhara thodi hai.."
"Please.. Of course mera hai.. Padma mom ne kaha tha ki main isse apna ghar samjhu.. So this is my house and so is your room.. And I say we sleep.. Sorry talk.. Inside.. Its cold here.. Tumhe thand lag jaegi.., he decided for them, as he tried to get her off him..
But she whacked his hands away from her and clung on to him as she said.. "LWIT!! You are the one who slept on the terrace for the last few days.. ", she reminded him, resisting any attempt of his to get out of that bean bag..
"That is why I don't want to sleep in the balcony today.. Plus have some mercy on my legs yaar.. You already sat on my lap for almost two hours today.. Can we go in.. Its more comfortable.. ", he requested as she didn't budge..
"No.. I want to sleep.. I mean talk.. here.. ", she stubbornly declared..
"Why?..", his scowl made her frown as she said, "Why do you want to know everything.."
"Coz you said I should ask you things when you don't tell me.. Didn't you say that today.. ", he grinned at that.. Now she had to tell him..
Riddhima thought for a moment, then decided to give him a part of the answer at least to shut him up.. "Fine.. Coz I don't want you to sleep on my bed.."
And that only shocked him more.. "What?.. Why?.. You slept on my bed so many times.. "
"Please.. Just once.. That too for just 15 min or so..", she refuted, reminding of that night when she had felt guilty of taking advantage of her dad's trust.. "And the day we took Raunak home, it was morning.. Not night.. And you slept at a one arm distance from me.. So technically I have hardly ever slept in your bed.."
"Jhooti.. What about that night you got drunk.. ", but she had a ready retort.."That night I slept alone.. You slept out on the couch.. I am talking about sleeping together..", she pointed out..
"How do you know I didn't sleep with you that night.. You were drunk.. And I woke up much before you did..", he asked her, grinning naughtily.. He still had not gotten over teasing her about that night.. And he had seeded the doubt well in her head as he saw her frown.. "Please.. I know you didn't.. And stop grinning like that.. I know you're trying to tease me.. But its not working.."
"Of course it is.. Look at you face.. ", he continued to tease her.. But she just frowned and started getting up.. "Wow.. So you listened to me.. We're finally going in..", and she immediately fell back as he said that.. Rethinking her decision, she pushed him back and resettled herself.. "Basket.. ", he called out softly, but she did not reply and just holding him close, she shut her eyes..
"Basket.. Accha theek hai I wont tease you.. But why are we not going in..", he asked again.. It was pretty cold..
"Armaan I am not going to talk to you till you stop asking me that.. ", she mumbled as she buried her face in his shoulder, near the crook of his neck, taking in his scent, refreshing her memory of it.. She just wanted to be close to him.. He could keep yapping as long as she got to keep him close.. And this close proximity to him was slowly taking its effect on her.. That scent of his intoxicating her as she moved aside the collar of his shirt with the tip of her nose, kissing him softly on his neck..
And that action of hers gave Armaan new ideas.. "Are you sure you want to talk.. Tumhare iraade muhe nek nahi lag rahe..", he joked, but it didn't seem to affect her as she continued doing whatever she was.. He wasn't complaining.. It did feel nice.. But he couldn't help but raise a brow at that.. So they were back to that equation where nothing he said embarrassed her anymore.. He had not liked that period.. He liked to irritate her.. To see the scandalized expressions on her face.. But he himself had made her immune to them.. And after they got back together, she had still been a little shy and a reflection of what she was when they had just started seeing each other.. But now it seems, she had found that unabashed comfort again.. And that made him think of newer ways to trouble her.. But his thoughts seemed to freeze the moment he felt her hands slowly unbuttoning his shirt, one button down a time..
"Basket just because I came to see you doesn't mean you can take advantage of me.. ", he tried again, her actions starting to invoke feelings in him that were not beneficial, if 'talking' was what she had in mind as the agenda for tonight..
"I love you..", she whispered as her kisses became frequent and she moved down his neck, her hands exploring him like never before.. She didn't really care anymore about her embarrassment or all the teasing that he was doing and more of it that she was sure was to follow.. All she knew was that he was leaving tomorrow and she wanted to be close to him, as close as he would allow her.. That was actually not her original plan.. But she didn't want to talk about her fear anymore.. She just wanted to forget it.. And this attempt was really working well..
Armaan had still been thinking of what else to say to her that she would yell out her standard 'Armaan!!' when he felt her lips on him and whisper an 'I Love You' in response to his latest comment.. And what followed had driven him crazy.. Had she really managed to unbutton his shirt completely!!.. His brain and heart had stopped working momentarily.. And as a reflex he had pulled her closer and caressed her back, leaning in to hide his face in her neck, placing kisses as he did.. She at once got one of her hands to his hair, ruffling it, pulling him closer, as at the back of her mind she thought how it would feel better if his hair was a little longer.. Armaan, however, had lost it completely at that action of hers.. Nothing was going to be able to distract him now.. She felt him move to the other side of her neck as he moved to her shoulder, pulling down the strap that was coming in his way.. She drew in a sharp breath as she felt that rush of adrenaline and all those hormones that she couldn't remember the names of at the moment.. And he didn't stop, his passion only rising, as she encouraged him, her hands caressing his skin, setting him on fire.. That made him crave for her skin too as he caressed her arms, down from her shoulders, sending shivers down her spine.. When he got his hands inside her top however, she suddenly stiffened in his hold, remembering something that she had completely forgotten in the comfort of his embrace.. Pulling away from him all of a sudden, she forced his hands out from her top.. He looked at her, surprised by her actions, as she sat there in his lap, the straps off her shoulder and her hair that she had tied up, now loosened from the bun.. She just looked at him once, her face flushed with heat and embarrassment, then looking away, she put her arms around him from inside his shirt and spoke into his chest, "Don't do that Armaan.."
"What!", he didn't know if it was a question or a remark of surprise.. And he wasn't sure what she didn't want him to do..
"Armaan.. Keep your hands to yourself..", she told him straight, reading his confusion..
He scrunched his eyebrows at that, pulling her out to look at her, "What.. Are you serious.. You started this.. Heck!.. You still have your hands inside my shirt.."
"So!", she asked him boldly through her embarrassment.. Why couldn't he just obey her.. Didn't he understand.. Well it was good that he didn't.. At least she was saved that embarrassment..
"Basket.. What is wrong with you.. You cant boss over me like that..", he complained at how weird she was behaving..
"I am not bossing over you Armaan.. I am just requesting you to not do something that I am not comfortable with..", she told him straight away, hoping he doesn't ask her the reason for her discomfort..
And she had managed to confuse him a little more as he started thinking as to why all of a sudden what he was doing was uncomfortable for her while what she did was perfectly normal.. But before he could argue back she leaned closer into him, and as she said, "Don't think so much Armaan.. Doesn't suit you.." and placed her lips on his, to take him in a kiss that would make him forget all his curiosity.. And true to her orders, he did not dare to get his hands in her shirt.. But as he savored her chocolate flavored lips, his hands caressed her back and then slowly down to her hips.. And that made her pull out abruptly again, "Armaan!!.. What are you doing.. Didn't you hear me..", he had never dared to go there before.. And the new feelings had caught her off guard.. she had not been expecting that move from him..
"What!.. I didn't even try to put my hands anywhere in your clothes..", he defended himself, though that naughty grin was finding its way to his face.. He could always find loopholes to all her so called rules..
"Yeah.. Let me just state it in clear words.. Keep your hands above my waist and over my shirt.. Is that ok?..", she almost glared at him before pulling him back to continue that kiss..
But that order did not go down with Armaan, "That is not fair Basket.. I cant get my hands in your shirt.. I cant get them down your pants.. And you can just do what you want with me?!!.. I am not going to let you take advantage of me like that.. ", he said, pretending to be offended, finding the new weapon to tease her that he had been looking for.. And it hit his target right as she went, "Armaan!!.. You're gross..", completely scandalized by his 'hands down her pants' comment..
Armaan smiled triumphantly at her embarrassment.. "Says the mad girl who has my shirt almost off me..", he mocked her, as she turned a deeper crimson than she already was.. But he had irritated her enough now, "Armaan stop it alright.. Tumhe mazak ke alava aur kucch nahi sujhta kya?.. I have been tolerating this from so long hoping that you'll shut up.. But tum rukne ka naam hi nahi le rahe.. Why do you like troubling me so much.. Pehle toh you're going away tomorrow.. Still you want to trouble me.. Just go.. I changed my mind.. Yahan bore hone ki zaroorat nahi hai tumhe.. " she lashed out at him.. She just wanted a few moments with him and he was bent on ruining all of them.. She knew she was being unreasonable by ordering him around so much.. But she had no choice.. He had one.. Of listening to her and letting her be.. Or just talking something sensible or romantic.. But no.. He chooses to irritate her.. How typically Armaan was that!!..
Armaan was alarmed by her outburst as she tried to get away from him.. But he restricted her, pulling her closer, as he tried to pacify her, "Accha I am sorry.. But you said you wanted to talk.. Then you didn't even talk.. Now I was talking.. But you don't like that either.. And I wasn't troubling you.. I am just telling you the truth.. Isme itna bura man ne waali kya baat hai.. It was you who started the whole touching business.. I was ready to talk.. ", if he thought this was going to calm her down he was so so wrong.. Coz she just started hitting him on every inch that she could get her hands on.. "You moron.. You you.. Aargh.. Why.. How did I fall in love with a jerk like you.. ", as he tried to get hold of her hands that were hitting him, grinning at her over reaction.. But when her hysteria turned gave way to tears, he sobered, surprised by her sudden outburst.. Holding her hands tight he pulled her close, "Basket what is wrong with you.. Fine.. I wont say another word.. You do what you want.. ", but she glared at him through her tears as she thought he was teasing her again.. He realized soon that it wasn't a good choice of words.. "I meant.. I wont say anything.. We'll do what you want.. I am sorry.. I was being a jerk.. But why are you crying.. You know na main aisa hi hoon.. ", he caressed her face, daring to leave her hands now, as she seemed to have calmed down now.. And in fact was now embarrassed by her tears.. When she didn't reply and continued to frown, he wrapped his arms around her, taking her in a tight hug as she rested her head on his shoulder.. When she felt him caress her back softly to calm her down, she pulled out and looked at him.. "I hate you..", she declared, the frown not leaving her face.. Armaan smiled at that and replied, "I know.. But don't cry na Basket.. I don't like that.."
"Then why do you trouble me so much..", she asked through her tears..
He chuckled, knowing very well that she was crying coz he was leaving.. So he confronted her.. "I don't think that is the reason you're crying.. Basket.. Is there any point in crying.. I have to go tomorrow.. and your crying is not going to change that.. So lets not talk about it.. And please don't cry..", he requested her, kissing her forehead lovingly..
"But I am feeling like crying.. Please can I cry for some time..", she asked, putting her arms around his neck and hiding herself in his shoulder, as she let the silent tears flow out of her eyes.. He could help but laugh at that, pecking her earlobe as he said.. "Tum pagal ho pata hai.. "and he just let her be for sometime.. Letting her cry if that was what would make her feel better.. But she couldn't stop herself.. She was done pretending, hiding, and trying to distract herself.. But before she could hold on to that thought, he made her look at him and joined their lips, not giving her moment to think about it.. As he kissed her gently, she responded back, not being able to hold back her desires.. He seemed to be determined on distracting her.. And he surely was succeeding.. As he moved from her lips to her neck, he turned on his side, making place for her in the restricted seat that they were in, pushing her slowly off his lap, and soon had her under him.. She caressed his back, leading him on, as he explored her neck and shoulders with his mouth.. When he moved down to her chest, she pulled him up, and brought him up to kiss her again.. He wondered why she was being so weird.. She wanted to be close to him.. But sometimes she seemed to remember that they were way out of line.. Well they were, but he really couldn't help himself.. And they were just letting themselves go, under the excuse that he was leaving tomorrow.. But he couldn't keep up with his train of thoughts as he got lost in her kiss and her caresses.. When they pulled out for air, he looked down at her to see a small smile on her face, her cheeks still a little damp by the tears that had stopped a long time back.. He smile at that, and when he slowly wiped off the almost dry tears, from her cheeks, she opened her eyes to look into his.. "Armaan.. I m gonna miss you..", she told him softly, looking up at him.. He sighed at that, "Basket.. Main kab se tumhe distract karne ki koshish kar raha hoon.. But you're still thinking about tomorrow.. "
"Armaan.. I cant help it.. I tried to distract myself.. But I cant.. Its better to just talk about it.. Even if we try, it's the only thing that's going to be on our mind.. "
He nodded in agreement to that as he nuzzled her neck saying, "You're right.. But there's one more thing that is on my mind right now.. ", he said, controlling the grin that was forming on his face.. She pushed him away by his shoulders to look at him when he said that, "What?..", she asked..
"No forget it.. Maybe you don't want to talk about it..", he said, as she looked at him curious to know what it was..
"Armaan.. We decided we could talk to each other about anything right.. Bolo kya baat hai.. ", she tried convincing him, more for the sake of her curiosity than his..
"You're right.. As always.." a naughty smile was coming across his face and Riddhima knew that encouraging him was not the smartest thing to do.. And she was right to think that when she heard what he said next, "So I was wondering.. Are you wearing a strapless thing inside or.. Like.. Nothing.. "
She just stared at him for two seconds, then as his words made sense, her eyes widened in shock.. No no no.. So he had realized.. Of course he had.. What was she thinking.. "Why.. Why.. Why Armaan!!? Cant you keep your mouth shut sometimes..", she was so so embarrassed by his question.. She had been embarrassed because of this very reason right from the beginning.. But she had wanted him to be close too.. And her emotions had overpowered her embarrassment.. she had even become comfortable in their closeness.. She had only hoped that he wouldn't realize.. and even if he did, she had hoped he wouldn't bring it up.. But he had.. And he had caught her in her own words while he did that.. "Hey.. You were the one who said we could talk about anything.. Even if it is embarrassing.. And anyway.. I thought this was a less embarrassing way than directly asking you why you aren't wearing one.. ", he retorted, his tone casual, but his grin teasing..
And she was even more flabbergasted at that comment of his.. "Armaan!!.. Hato.. Mujhe uthne do Armaan.. Please.. ", she tried pushing him away, as he held her hands to his chest, putting his weight more on her to restrict her movement as he asked "And what if I don't.. ", he had finally discovered something that scandalized her..
And she was scandalized!.. Oh yes she was!!.. She kept up her attempts at getting him off her as she scolded him.. "Armaan stop it.. I don't want to talk about this.. I mean.. How dare you?.. Have I ever asked you if you wear boxers or briefs.. "
"Or nothing?..", he quipped, making her squirm her face contorting in disgust, "Eww.. Get off me Armaan.. You're so gross.. "
"Don't worry I am wearing..", but she didn't let him continue, "La. La lalala lalalala.. I cant hear what you're saying.. La la la la la..", and she continued to chant her la la la.. her eyes shut tight, her fingers blocking her ears.. Armaan laughed seeing that state of hers.. But if she continued to make the noise, he was sure someone would come up to check what was going on.. So he readjusted himself, pulling her back on his lap as he took her hands, forcing her fingers out of her ears, "Basket.. Stop making noise.."
"You stop your bakwaas.. And let me go.. ", she said, glaring at him and scowling as she tried to get off his lap..
"What bakwaas.. You said we should talk.. Now I am talking.. And I don't understand what you are so embarrassed about.. All of us wear..", but she cut him off again, "Armaan!!.. I swear I'll murder you.. Shut up.."
"But why?.. I was just asking.."
"Armaan stop embarrassing me.. I know you're doing this on purpose..", she glared, while he just innocently asked, "What have I done?.. You're the one who's not wearing a.." and he received a tight smack on his arm before he could complete that.. "Armaan!!!.. Let me go.. Enough.. Let me go.." and she had a finality to her tone this time.. He realized she had had it as he held her.. "Stop moving Riddhima.. Fine.. Ok fine.. I wont talk about our.. Items.. ", he declared.. She stopped moving and twitched her nose at that, "Items?!.. That's what you call them.. Items!!..", she asked him, finding it a little amusing even if it was not the conversation she wanted to have with him.. He looked at her amused expression and asked nonchalantly.. "So.. What do you call them.. "
"Inner clothes.. Or underwear?.. Items!! Really!", it sounded so funny..
"Na.. I like items! That's final.. So why aren't you wearing your item.. ", he asked making her squirm and almost shout again.. "Armaan!!.. ".. But their little 'item' discussion had loosened her up a little as she continued.. "What is it to you anyway.. I don't wear one while sleeping.. ", she answered, not sure if she should have said that..
Armaan smirked at that piece of information.. It was new and amusing. Plus another thing to embarrass her about.. "Really?.. Then why were you so angry that night in Lonavla when I tried to.."
"Oh my god!! We are so not having this discussion right now.. ", she shrieked before he could complete his question.. She had not loosened up so much to have this conversation..
"But.. " he tried to unsuccessfully counter her.. "Armaan.. I don't want to talk about this.. Couldn't you have just kept it to yourself.. ", she asked him angrily..
"And missed those expressions on your face.. No way!", grinning his perfect dimpled smile..
"You you.. I hate you.. Let me go now.. ", she resumed her attempts at getting out of his hold.. But he held her close, burying his face in her neck, grinning to himself as he asked, "So this is why you didn't want me to stay!.. And really Riddhima?.. This is why you didn't want to sleep in your bed?.. Its ridiculous.. You know you're closer to me right now than you would be inside right?.."
She stopped moving as he concluded that.. Going redder in her embarrassment she replied.. "Its not like that.. "
"Then like what.. ", he asked, pulling out to look at her..
"Armaan.. Forget it.. ", she looked away from his eyes, as she felt uncomfortable again.. But she didn't want to talk to him about it.. How was she supposed to tell him that she was feeling so vulnerable tonight that she didn't care as to what she was wearing or rather what she was not.. How was she supposed to tell him that she was rather liking this newfound proximity.. She didn't have the guts to tell him that she had really wanted all this and so much more the moment he had taken her in his arms.. She didn't trust herself with him.. Not tonight.. And this was something she could never put in words.. Some things were best left unsaid..
He probably understood her silence.. As he always did.. It was better if he left it at that.. Enough of the teasing now.. The awkward silence between them compelled him to say.. "You could have changed.. You still can.. ", he wasn't too sure if she was comfortable with him now..
"No its ok.. I am fine.. ", she said in a small voice, hugging him again to hide her blush..
He grinned at that as he shook his head in amusement.. "You are such a nautanki Basket.. Itna naatak karne ki zaroorat kya thi.. You wanted this anyway.. "
"I didn't want anything.. I am just..", she found herself stuck for words again..
The awkward silence again made him wonder if she was ok.. Coz the closeness was now surely making him uncomfortable, his desires getting the better of him.. "Riddhima.. Main jaun?..", he asked her, unsure of what this was going to lead to..
"No.."., she said, her tone firm as was her decision.. And when he felt her hands creeping up his bare back again, he smiled and asked.. "So what do you want to do.."
"Lets talk about something else..", she declared, looking into his eyes as she got out to look at him.. He let the topic go too, asking her in return.. "Like what.."
"Like.. Like the tattoo on your arm.. I knew you were crazy.. I didn't know you were psychotic.. ", she purposely chose the tattoo to embarrass him, now that he had completely embarrassed her..
"Very smart Basket.. But we are not discussing this tattoo.. And I am getting it removed the first thing I get back from Singapore.. ", he declared..
She smirked at his discomfort.. "So Armaan.. You really think I should feel safe in the arms of a psycho like you.. "
"Hey!.. When Beckham does it for his wife it's the most romantic thing in the world.. Why am I being made to look like a loser here.. "
"Armaan don't even compare yourself to Beckham.. "
"I know. I look better, don't I ?"
"In your dreams.. And don't change the topic of discussion.. So we were at your tattoo.. "
"Basket.. Stop it.. If you say another word about the tattoo, I swear I will start talking about our items again.."
"What.. No.. Ok.. No tattoo.. New topic.. "
"That's better.. Lets see.. How bout I kiss you and you kiss me back..", when she glared at him at that, "No.. Ok.. what about this.. Atul and Anjie kitne irritating hai na.. Aaj peecha chod hi nahi rahe the.. Like they were purposely trying to keep us apart.. "
"Tumhe humesha aisa kyun lagta hai.. Anyway Di and Atul know what it is like.. I remember when they had to stay away from each other when he had gone to London for some training.. Di used to talk to him on skype all night.."
"When was this.. "
Before you came.. Obviously na.. Tab they had just started dating each other.."
"Really?.. So how did it happen.. I mean.. They are so different from each other.."
"I know.. They used to keep fighting.. Actually Di used to fight with him.. Internship ke time se.. I think Atul had fallen for her the moment he saw her.. "
"Obviously.. She is hot.."
"What.. She is going to be my aadhi gharwaali soon.. Itna toh comment kar hi sakta hoon.."
"Armaan.. Do you or don't you want to hear their story.. "
"Sorry sorry.. Continue.."
"So where were we.. Haan.. ".. And she continued to tell him about her sister and her jeeju.. That made him recollect Abhi and Nikki's love story.. He told her how he used to terrorize Abhi.. But he didn't like it when she compared him to her dad at that piece of information.. And that led to another round of bickering, and their banter continued, temporarily forgetting about the separation that they had to face the next day, ensconced in each others' warmth as they talked into the cold night.. a night that didn't seem to end.. It was just amazing how they could keep on talking, on and on.. Every topic just leading to another.. Whether they discussed it, laughed about it, or fought over it.. With each other, it didn't matter when, where, how or what it was..
Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe
Yeh Hamari Mulakate, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe
Beete Yuhin Apne Saare Din Raat
Baaton Se Nikalti Rahe Nayi Baat
Phir Wahin Baatein Leke Geet Koi Hum Likhe
Jo Dil Ko Haan Sab Ke Dil Ko Chu Le
Baatein Suron Mein Yuhin Pighalti Rahen
Baatein Geeton Mein Yuhin Dhalti Rahen
Geeton Mein Haan Humko Khusiyon Se Haan Saja De
Jo Sune Gaaye Woh Hum Se Gaaoon Na..
Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe
Yeh Hamari Mulakate, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe
Beete Yuhin Apne Saare Din Raat
Baaton Se Nikalti Rahe Nayi Baat
Phir Wahin Baatein Leke Geet Koi Hum Likhe
Jo Dil Ko Haan Sab Ke Dil Ko Chu Le
Baatein Suron Mein Yuhin Pighalti Rahen
Baatein Geeton Mein Yuhin Dhalti Rahen
Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe
Yeh Hamari Mulakate, Hamesha Yuhin Chalti Rahe..
(Yeh Tumhari Meri Baatein - Rock On!)
Riddhima woke up at the sound of her six o clock alarm, irritated by the shrill ring of it.. She moved to her side, putting out her hand and snoozed it shut.. But she felt herself restricted.. She opened her eyes at that and saw Armaan sleeping under her, his arms tight around her waist.. As she saw his shirt open up front, she noticed she had been sleeping almost on him.. And that rhythm that she had been hearing in her sleep was his beating heart.. Her face colored pink as she started feeling a hot in the cold early morning, her heart racing at the thought of the night.. When the hell did she get here.. As far as she remembered they had been on the bean bag outside talking about their wedding that was being discussed in the house last night..
"Basket!.. ", her movements had woken him up, and his voice brought her out of her thoughts.. Seeing him awake she felt shy all of a sudden and jerked up to sit straight.. "Armaan.. What are we doing on my bed.. I told you.."
"Shh.. ", he shut her with his finger on her lips, "You fell asleep while talking.. Then you were feeling cold.. So I carried you in..", he explained..
She frowned as she didn't find a counted argument to that.. And before she could find the words she was looking for he sat up, pulling her closer and leaning in as he wished her, "Good Morning.. And don't think so much.. It doesn't suit you..", before she knew what was happening, she was kissing him back as he wished her a good morning in his own style.. When they parted, he couldn't help but exclaim, "Yummy!.. "
"Armaan.. I am sure the lip balm has worn off by now.. Don't find reasons to pass your cheeky comments.."
"What lip balm.. I was never talking about the lip balm.. Basket you've always been yummy.. Only I never mentioned it to you.. But now that we've decided to talk.. Including the embarrassing heart to hearts.. ", he winked as she whined, "Oh no.. Not that again.. Maine bohot badi galti kar di.. You know what.. No talking from today.", she declared..
"Great.. I was never a fan of all this talking business.. Lets seal that with a kiss..", and he leaned in again..
"No thank you.. ", she got away, a blush accompanying her frown.. But that frown suddenly turned into horror as she heard knocks on her door.. "Riddhima beta.. Why have you locked the door.. And get up.. Che baj gaye.. Saat baje Armaan aane waala hai.. "
Armaan's eyes opened wide in shock as did hers as they heard Padma mom from the other side of the door.. He nudged her to answer back, but her voice was stuck.. "Basket.. Say something..", he hissed, buttoning his shirt up in a hurry..
"Haan.. Haan.. Mamma.. I am awake.. Main.. Woh.. Nahane jaa rahi hoon..", she stammered her lie..
"Darwaza toh kholo Riddhima..", her mom requested, her curiosity clear in her voice..
Riddhima winced at that as she made up something to get out of this situation. "Mamma.. Main tayar hokar neeche aati hoon.."
"What is going on Riddhima.. ", her mom didn't seem quite convinced as to why she wasn't opening the door..
"Nothing mamma.. Aap ko Papa ko chai deni hogi.. Aap neeche jao.. Main aati hoon.."
And that worked, "Haan.. Main toh bhool hi gayi.. Chai thandi ho jayegi.. Come down fast.." and with that she went down, leaving the two of them to sigh in relief.. But a new problem had come up as Armaan got up and spoke fast.. "Basket.. You'll have to drop me.."
"I didn't get my car remember.. Ab itni subah cab kahan milegi.. If I have to make it back here by seven, you'll have to drop me home.."
"Armaan!!.. You moron.. ", she yelled at his stupidity..
"Curse me later Basket.. Pehle tum mujhe ghar chodo.. I am going down.. I'll see you two blocks from your place.. Hurry up.. ".. And he hurried to the balcony and soon out of it. Riddhima ran to her wardrobe, put on her sweatshirt and exchanged her shorts for her tracks.. Putting on her sneakers she ran down..
"Riddhima yeh kya?.. Where are you going..", Padma asked her as she ran across the living room..
"Main.. Main.. Woh.. Jogging.. Main jogging.. I have to jog mamma.. Look I have put on so much weight..", she said hurriedly, jogging in her place to show her urgency, and before she could ask her more questions she ran out of the house.. Padma couldn't help but grin.. Jogging!! Her daughter needed new bahanas now.. She obviously knew that she was going to Armaan's place.. What she didn't know was that Armaan was also going back with her..
When she came back after dropping Armaan home, her Di, Atul, naani and her dad were at the dining table having their morning cup of tea or coffee, reading the newspapers.. Anjali looked up as she saw her come in, "Good morning Ridzi!.. Toh itni jaldi aa gayi lover boy se milkar..", was how she greeted her..
"Di!!", Riddhima shouted, her eyes wide as she eyed her dad, "Main jog ke liye gayi thi.."
"Phir bhi.. Bees minute mein jogging ho gayi teri?.. ", she teased her again, knowing very well where she was all the while.. Her mom had told her how she had run out of the house in a hurry to see Armaan..
Riddhima blushed at that, but maintained a straight face as Atul and naani were giggling, "Will you guys stop being such detectives.. Main jog karne hi gayi thi.. I have put on so much weight.. I really need to exercise.."
Shashank smiled at his daughters attempts.. But he kind of understood her.. Like he felt when he had to leave his wife and children to go for long tours.. Padma had made him see that when he had thought Armaan was being unreasonable in not wanting to going to Singapore.. But it was true that they needed time to get over the problems that he had created in their life.. Even if he had paid for it already, they had been the worst sufferers of the whole fiasco.. And the least he could do for his daughter right now was to support her.. "Riddhima.. Don't listen to them beta.. Go get ready.. Armaan aata hi hoga.. "
"Jee papa.. ", she smiled back at him, then glaring at her di and Atul she ran up the stairs to get ready..
Armaan was greeted at the door by a smirking Anjali.. "Aayiye.. Future damaadji of the house.. You know you're late right.. A whole half an hour late.. Good luck with your sasurji..", Armaan gulped as she said that, and followed his smug saali in, cursing her in his head.. He had tried hard, but had not been able to make it on time.. Yesterday he had been too busy with Riddhima and her thoughts and had completely forgotten that he had to pack.. So he had thrown his clothes and other essentials in his bag.. But he couldn't find his tattoo lotion.. Then he had to call up Riddhima to ask him where she kept it, coz she was the one who had cleaned up the mess in his room and organized the whole place when she had come the day before yesterday.. When she told him not to waste time on such frivolous stuff that didn't matter, they had had a small argument over the phone.. And he had not stopped irritating her till she told him where it was.. Finally when he was ready, the paperwaala came to collect the bill.. He asked him to come later, but he wouldn't budge.. "Saab aap kahin bhaag jaate ho.. Do hafte pehle bhi kahin chale gaye the.. Mera paisa mat atkao..", he had pleaded.. Armaan had rolled his eyes at that but decided to pay him since he was again going to disappear for the next two days.. But there was another problem.. Armaan didn't have the exact change and the dude didn't accept credit cards.. That had completely set Armaan off.. He was getting late and this guy was crying for his Rs. 273.75!!.. So he handed him a 500 rupee note and asked him to keep the change.. But the paperwaala turned out to be the self-righteous types.. He refused Armaan's offer vehemently.. Armaan could have killed him then and there!! So he finally took him in his car to a nearby grocery store, and got change.. When that was settled he had to drop him back to his block of houses so he could continue with his money collecting activity.. And thus, by the time he made it to the Guptas he was a little more than half an hour late.. Now dreading the consequences.. Especially after that warning from his saali sahiba, he wondered what sort of a breakfast was in store for him this morning..
"Aah!.. Armaan.. Tum itni jaldi aa gaye.. Mujhe toh laga tha ki aaj bhi kal ki tarah mujhe ghanton wait karna padega..", and that was how Dr. Shashank greeted him his good morning.. Armaan cringed at his sarcasm, then opening his eyes, gave him a small apologetic smile.. "Sorry sir.. Who thoda late ho gaya.. I was packing.."
"Packing?.. Aap abhi packing kar rahe the.. I thought you would have finished doing that by last night.. ", he asked him, acting all surprised by that piece of information and smirking at the discomfort on his son-in-law's face.. And before Armaan could answer that, his saali butted her shapely butt in to make matters worse for him and a nervous-looking Riddhima.. "Of course not papa.. Kal raat ko kaise packing karta.. When he was talking to Ridzi the entire night..", Armaan, who had motioned himself to sit at the table with everyone, almost fell off his chair as Anjali said that.. Atul, naani and Padma mom giggled at his state, while Riddhima's eyes opened wide in shock, mirroring the exact expression that was on his face.. Both had just one question in mind, "Did they know??!"
"Nahi di.. What rubbish.. Aisa kucch nahi hai..", Riddhima defended herself..
"Haan.. Yes sir.. I don't know where Anjali gets that idea from.. I was at home.. I left from here at around 11:30..", came Armaan's strong denial..
"Toh when did I say you were here.. Which century do you live in Armaan.. You think we wouldn't know that you talk to Ridzi on the phone all night.. I heard her voice when she was probably screaming at you in the middle of the night.. Ridzi.. One advice.. Next time don't sit in the balcony.. Neeche tak awaaz aati hai.. ", Armaan and Riddhima both stopped breathing for a second there, shocked by Anjali's words.. Their faces turning crimson from white and their breath returning to normal as the realization began to seep in that they still had not been completely caught.. Thankfully Padma mom came to their rescue, "Bas karo Anjali.. Toh theek hai na.. Ab aaj Armaan ja raha hai toh baatien toh karenge na.. Jaise Atul tumhare peeche peeche ghumta hai jab tumhe kisi tour pe jaana hota hai..", and that wiped the smirk off Atul's face and had Anjali scowling.. Armaan snorted at that and Riddhima giggled to see the tables turning on her sister.. But both of them were still thanking their luck that they had been rescued on time..
"Accha.. Ab chidhna chidhana bohot ho gaya.. Chalo lets have breakfast.. Already Armaan ne hume kaafi wait karva diya hai..", Shashank remarked, to make Armaan gulp again.. Why was sasurji being so caustic today.. Maybe he was angry that he had kept Riddhima from coming home on time last night.. But in reality, it was the other way round.. Who was going to tell him that!!
"Shashank.. Bas bhi kar usse chidhana..", Nani took Armaan's side as she started to serve him.. "Arre nani.. Main le lunga.. ", and he quickly too the plate of parathas away from her as he served Dr. Shashank first, then everyone else before taking one in his plate.. The ladies giggled at his attempts at chamchagiri while Shashank just smirked, grinning to himself at Armaan's condition.. Troubling Armaan was even more fun than Atul.. Coz Atul was the typical good boy.. Armaan was more naughty and hence panicked more easily..
Armaan kept glancing in his direction every two minutes as he ate his paratha in silence.. And every time he caught him looking, he would look away, then glance at Riddhima.. Shashank noticed this and finally broke the silence, "So Armaan.. I hope you are well prepared for the surgery tomorrow.."
"Yes sir..", Armaan replied sincerely, "I have also cleared all my schedule for today so I can brush up the case.."
"Hmm good.. Aur aapko apna samaan bhi wapas laana hoga na.. Dr. Khorana was telling me that you need to vacate that apartment.." he reminded him..
"Yes sir.. I'll do that too..", he answered softly, glancing at Riddhima.. The dread of going to that apartment creeping in again.. He didn't know why but it gave him goosebumps to even think of it.. Riddhima noticed him look at her, and read his fear in his eyes.. She gave him a small encouraging smile which he returned as Dr. Shashank spoke again, "So Armaan.. I hope you have your travelling documents and the ticket ready.. "
"Yes sir..", he replied immediately, then remembering that he didn't actually have them.. He had to collect them from Dr. Shubhankar.. He saw Dr. Shashank's raised eyebrows and stammered, "No.. No sir.."
"Of course not.. Coz they are with me.. Yeh lijiye.. How were you planning to fly without your documents?..", he asked him smugly, handing him an envelope.. Armaan gave him a sheepish smile and took the envelope from him as he heard Anjai and Atul giggling in the background.. Riddhima just looked at the envelope helplessly.. This was it.. The final confirmation that he was going..
"Thank you sir.. Par aapko takleef lene ki kya zaroorat thi.. I would have collected them..", Armaan told him, keeping the envelope next to him on the table as he drank some water, embarrassed that he had been so careless..
"That's ok Armaan.. Just ek baar check kar lo if all the documents are there..", Dr. Shashank asked him, as he turned to his wife, "Padma.. Breakfast ho gaya.. Ab ek cup coffee ho jaye.." Padma nodded at him and got up to leave when Armaan spoke up.. "Basket.. I mean Riddhima.. Tumhara passport.. What is it doing in this envelope?.. keep it carefully..", Riddhima looked up at the passport in his hand and snatched it to check if he was right.. "What?.. How is this possible.. ", as far as she knew, her passport was safely locked in the drawer in her wardrobe.. "I don't know.. Galti se aa gaya..", but he didn't complete his sentence as he looked at the documents in his hands.. He stared at them, shocked at first, then turned them around to see if he was having an illusion.. After rereading them twice, he slowly looked up to see Dr. Shashank grinning at him, "So.. Saare documents theek hai Dr. Mallik!.."
"Yes.. Yes sir..", and he grinned back, then looked down as Anjali and Atul finally gave in to the giggles that they had been controlling from so long.. Riddhima, who had no clue as to what was going on, looked at them weirdly, then turned to her mom, "Mamma.. How did my passport get here?.. Mere drawer mein hota hai yeh humesha..", she asked a grinning Padma..
"Oh my God Ridzi!!", Anjali exclaimed, unable to believe her silly little sister.. "Someone please tell her..", pained by her innocence now..
"Tell me what?..", She asked, confused now..
"That you need to pack your bags.. You're flying to Singapore tonight..", Armaan answered her question, grinning like everyone else at the table, while her eyes widened in surprise, looking at him like he had gone cuckoo in the head.. But when she saw her dad grinning too, she asked, "Papa?.."
"Yes Riddhima?..", he smirked at his daughter's confusion..
"I mean.. Main.. Really?.. But I have work..", Armaan rolled his eyes at that reaction of hers .. That was the first thing on her mind!! He had already finished doing the hoola dance in his head, not to mention a few virtual somersaults.. He still couldn't believe it though.. He never thought he'd say this.. But he loved this new improved version of Shanky..
Atul, however, was the one to give Riddhima the assurance that her work would not suffer, "Don't worry Ridzi.. I'll handle your OPD work.. Tumhare surgeries humne shift karva diye hain. And Abhi and Nikki are coming back tomorrow.. Toh emergency ke liye bhi enough doctors honge.."
"But.. But.. But.. Dr. Gupta.. When you come back aapko extra duty karni padegi for the hours that you've missed..", Shashank reminded her, smiling an assuring smile that she was allowed to have fun for the next two days.. Riddhima finally believed that she was actually going to Singapore with Armaan and that realization brought the most beautiful smile on her face.. Shashank smiled as he looked at his daughter give that dazzling smile as she turned towards Armaan.. He had done all this only to bring that one smile on her face.. When he had seen her cry that day for him, he had realized why Armaan was really making so much of a fuss.. Though he had not been too much in favor of this, Padma had managed to convince him to let her go with him.. They didn't deserve this separation.. Not right now.. And he felt guilty of being a major reason for it.. Plus he had started trusting Armaan more now.. The realization of his loneliness had really seeped in that day when he had heard about his mom's death anniversary.. And to think that he had been pretending to be happy just to keep his daughter from feeling sad gave him a first hand account of how madly and passionately they were in love with each other.. He knew everyone didn't have such luck.. He himself wasn't a hardcore romantic.. But he was happy that his daughter was living what he had always secretly wished for himself, before he had given into the demands of the cruel monster called life.. Career, family, principles, society, everything else under the sun, took priority over feelings and passion for him.. But he wasn't going to let that happen to his daughter.. What was life if you had to always live it by the rules!.. And of course when he trusted his daughter more than his life, he had no reason to stand as a villain between them.. Not when they had just reconciled.. This time away and alone from everyone would probably give them a chance to get rid of the insecurities that he had seen in both their eyes ever since he had agreed to their relationship a week ago.. And now as he looked at them, staring at each other, the excitement and immeasurable happiness replacing fear and anxiety in their eyes, he felt satisfied.. Even more satisfied than that day when he had stopped Armaan at the airport and welcomed him into his family.. He felt Padma's hand on his shoulder and when he looked up at her, he saw her smile, exactly matching her daughter's.. This smile was what he lived for.. And it had taken him all these years to finally realize it.. As she gently pressed his shoulder in a thanks, he nodded, and looked back at his family, their family, feeling like the happiest man in the world..
"Ok now stop staring at each other and say something.. ", Anjali, broke their moment.. Armaan just smiled and looked away, while Riddhima went up to Dr. Shashank, "Thank you so much papa.. You're the best.. ", she said as she hugged him lightly..
"I know that.. ", he said smugly, "And I would have gotten these compliments from my daughter yesterday itself if she would have bothered to turn up for dinner..", he commented..
Armaan couldn't do anything but twitch his nose and smile sheepishly while Riddhima went red in embarrassment.. But she smacked his arm tight when he dared to say, "Who kya hai na sir.. Your daughter talks so much.. Chapad chapad band hi nahi hoti.. That is why we got late.."
"I know..", Shashank sided with him only to make her go, "Papa! Ab aap bhi iski side pe ho gaye.."
But Anjali had not done taking her case yet, "Don't pretend you two.. You really think we'll believe that you guys got late because you were talking.."
"Di!!", she screeched as Armaan glared at her to shut up.. Lest Dr. Shahsank change his mind about letting them go.. And to think of it, for once they were not lying.. They had actually been talking.. Good thing they didn't know that he had spent the night here.. That would have surely cost Riddhima this trip..
"Ridzi!", Anjali imitated her, as Atul said, "Waise.. Tum dono ne surprise bigaad diya.. You should have come on time.. Papa ne Panditji ko bhi bulaya tha kal.. Iss liye toh Anjali aur main yahan aaye the.. But since you guys got late and papa had to go for an emergency we had to cancel the plan.."
"Yeah that's right.. But its ok.. Armaan, tumhare wapas aate hi main panditji ko bulata hoon.. You let me know when you're free.. ", Riddhima blushed at that, as Padma gave her a side hug, while nani, Atul and Anjali beamed at them.. Armaan however was confused.. But he hardly cared as his thoughts were still stuck on the fact that he was going with Riddhima.. He couldn't believe his luck.. And even more that Dr. Shashank himself was sending her with him.. He hardly cared about whichever Pandit they had kept waiting last night.. Why did he have to talk to Pandit.. He didn't even know who Pandit was.. But since Shanky had done him such a big favor, he just nodded his yes to anything he asked him to do..
"Haan.. Armaan ko toh hona chahiye.. Armaan beta, tum bas jaldi wapas aa jao.. Panditji bohot busy hote hain aaj kal.. Time hona chahiye na unhe..", naani joined in the discussion..
"Nani.. If you dont mind.. yeh Pandit ji.. kaun hai?.. I mean.. Anyway main Pandit.. Ji.. Right.. Haan main unhe jaanta toh nahi hoon.. Main kya baat karunga unse.. Agar unhe time nahi hain toh aap baat kar lijiye..", he didn't understand what all the fuss was about.. All he had on his mind was that he was going to get almost two days all alone with his Basket.. But he came out of his dream world when he noticed everyone around him giggling and nani with a frown on her face..
Anjali was the one, who took this opportunity to pull their leg again.. "Ridzi.. I didn't know your lover boy was this daft.. Or maybe he's lost in planning what all he can do when he's finally in Singapore alone with you.. You guys are lucky yaa.. Pre wedding honeymoon and all.. Everyone's not so lucky.. BTW.. Sorry for not giving you a moment last night.. We were trying to build up the tension you see.. So that surprise ka asar gehra ho.. And I think it has worked.. Haina Atul?.."
But this comment of her left nani, Riddhima and Shashank wide eyed in scandal.. "Di!!.."
"Anjie!!", Armaan reprimanded her too, eyeing Dr. Shashank warily.. 'pre-wedding honeymoon' was not good terminology.. Not here.. So he thought of changing the topic and asked, "And why am I daft?.. "
"Tch.. Armaan.. Tu bhi na.. Kyun apni kabar khod raha hai.. Teri shaadi ki baat karne Pandit ko bulane waale hain..", Atul answered him..
"Pandit se kyun baat karni hain yaar.. ", he started, a little irritated, then realizing, he went, "OH.. You mean.. But I thought those Pandits shaadi ke.. What do you call them.. Songs.. Mantra.. Who sab padhte hain.. "
"Yeah.. And he also decides the date of your wedding Dr. Mallik..", Shashank couldn't help but butt in.. 'pre-wedding honeymoon!!!'..
"Oh.. But why?..", he had started, but Riddhima spoke up before he made a bigger fool of himself, "Armaan.. Hum iske baare mein baad mein baat karenge.. Ok.. ", she indicated him to shut up..
He got the hint and shut up as everyone except nani and Dr. Shashank laughed at him.. Nani was just shocked to know that this guy didn't know anything about the traditions, while Dr. Shashank was still stuck on what Anjali had said.. The words 'Riddhima', 'alone', 'Singapore', 'pre-wedding honeymoon' and 'Armaan', not exactly making him feel comfortable.. When Atul said, "Chalo.. I think all of us should leave for Sanjeevni.. Late ho raha hai..", he realized he needed to clear certain things out with his daughter and her fiancee.. So he cleared his throat as everyone got up to leave and said, "Uh.. Riddhima.."
"Maine tumhare liye Sentosa Resort mein suite book karwaya hai.. Its close to the hospital and all.. I hope tum wahan comfortable rahogi.. ", he looked at her and said slowly, then turning to Armaan, "And Armaan.. You have your apartment.. Aap do din ke liye wahin reh sakte hain.. Am I right.."
Armaan went red around his ears, understanding what his sasurji was doing here, "Yes sir..", he answered, a small grin making its way out.. Only if he knew what they were up to last night!!
Anjali and Atul burst out laughing and Padma just giggled at this awkward interaction between the three of them, as Riddhima turned the deepest crimson there was.. Only if they knew what they were up to last night!!
Riddhima was on her way to the coffee shop at the airport.. Her dad and mom had come to drop her off, like they were sending her away forever or something.. Anyway, she hardly cared.. She still couldn't believe that she was going to Singapore with Armaan.. She would have never ever expected such a thing in her dream.. All the dread, all that insecurity, just had vanished.. And the whole day she had had this dreamy smile as she had wrapped up her work at the hospital and handed her case files to Atul in case an emergency arises.. She had noticed that Armaan too was in the same state as hers.. Smiling dreamily at his files and laptop, sitting in the library, apparently studying the case for the surgery.. And she felt happier about that than for herself.. Coz she would be there in that hell with him now.. And he wouldn't have to face all that alone again.. And that spring in his step was extremely obvious as he had enthusiastically waved out to her when he had arrived at the airport.. But he had sobered when he saw her dad standing right behind her.. And all of a sudden, her dad had this urge to drink coffee at that moment.. So he had sent her away to get coffee for him.. As she handed over the money to the coffee guy, and walked back with the coffee, she heard the announcer, announce for the passengers on board the Kingfisher Airlines to Singapore to proceed for the security check.. Excited by that, as the time for their departure neared, she hurried towards her parents.. In a hurry now.. They still had to collect their boarding passes and the announcement for the security check had already been made.. What she didn't know was that Armaan was undergoing another security check right there in the middle of the waiting lounge.. She almost spilled the coffee from her hands as she saw her mom giggling and her dad checking Armaan's wallet, then giving it back to him.. From the look of his open bag, it seemed that had also been checked thoroughly.. "Enough Shashank.. Ab unhe late ho jayega.. Riddhima.. Beta give me the coffee and get going.. They already announced so many times for your flight.."
Riddhima nodded and hugged her parents a goodbye as Armaan gathered his stuff, grinning at the dilemma on Dr. Shashank's face.. He now wasn't sure if he wanted to send his daughter alone.. But it was too late to change that decision now.. As they entered through the departure gates and put their bags on to the x-ray scanner for the preliminary check, Riddhima asked him.. "What was all that about?.. ", she was still wondering why her dad was being such a prick..
"Oh forget it.. If you haven't realized yet, then trust me, you don't want to know!..", he told her, keeping their bags on a trolley, and pushing it toward the check in to collect their boarding passes..
Riddhima was curious as to why he was smirking so much, "Armaan.. Tell me na.. Did he ask you something.. "
"No.. He just checked my bag, my wallet, my pockets, the inner lining of my socks..", he told her casually as he smiled at the lady at the counter, handing in their passports and the tickets along with the visas.. Riddhima just looked at him, distracted by the pretty woman behind the desk, as she stamped her foot on his, "Oww.. What are you doing.. ", he hissed, keeping their bags on the conveyor belt to set them off.. Then collecting the boarding passes and their passports, he smiled back at the blushing lady behind the counter who said, "Enjoy your flight sir.. And mam!..", she added as an afterthought as Riddhima glared at her.. Armaan rolled his eyes and pulled her from there, "Basket, don't scare the nice lady.. Bechari ke raaton ki neend kharab ho jayegi.. You know na you glare just like your papa.. Like he was glaring at me outside.. I don't think I will be able to sleep now..", he teased her, as she scowled.. But her curiosity took over her jealousy, "Why was he glaring at you?.. And you still haven't told me why he was checking your bag and wallet.."
"You still haven't realized Basket!.. So cute.. ", he grinned at her, pulling her cheek once and walked on.. She followed him, scowling at him, "Armaan.. Tell me.. "
"Its so obvious Basket.. He was checking if I was.. you know.. Carrying .. Safety tools..", he told her, laughing at his own words and proceeding toward the security check..
She however, didn't understand what he was saying.. Why would he carry tools?.."Huh??!!", he grinned as he heard her exclaim her confusion.. So he decided to change his words.. "Rubber Johnnies!.. ", he told her.. But the frown of confusion on her face just worsened.. "What?" Armaan smirked at her superciliously.. Then thought of relieving her off her confusion as subtly as possible.. "Jimmy hats!.. Frangers?? Love gloves?.." but when she didn't seem to understand any of the slang he was using, he finally exclaimed in exasperation.. "Oh god Basket!.. Protection!!.. Condoms.. Riddhima.. Yaar abhi bhi nahi samajhi toh I cant help you.. "
Her mouth opened wide in shock and disgust at that.. "Armaan!! You disgusting.. You.. Moron.. Why would papa do that!!!", she went completely red, unable to believe what he had just said out loud!
"To find out if we had any of those kind of activities planned for our pre-wedding honeymoon..", he answered with a naughty grin and a wink..
"Its not a pre-wedding honeymoon.. Stop saying that.. It's a business trip.. You are going on a work visa..", she almost yelled, only to make his grin broader..
"Yeah.. go say that to your Di.. Now Muskaan is also calling this our pre-wedding..", but she didn't let him say it again.. "Shut up!.."
"Security check!!..", he said in reply, and winking at her, he walked to the men's line in the security check in, leaving her fuming, as she stood in the women's queue.. When they met at the other side after the check was done, Armaan exclaimed.. "Basket.. Your papa does a better job than these people.. Really.. They didn't even check the inside line of my socks or the secret pocket of my pants that your dad didn't miss..", he said, pretending to be serious.. But her temper was on the rise now.. "Armaan!!.. I don't want to talk about that..", she said through clenched teeth.. She hadn't gotten over the whole embarrassing frisk that her dad had subjected him to.. It was so obvious.. How had she missed it.. But now she had dug her own grave by asking Armaan about it.. And she was so right to think that.. "Fine.. But you're papa is a little too nave.. Just like you.. I mean.. Does he really think you don't get them in Singapore.. Does he really think I cant buy one for myself if I need one..", and the cool tone in which he made that remark, sent her temper out of the window.. "You are so not going to be needing one Mallik.. Not even in your dreams..", she spat at him.. He grinned at her over defense..
"You never know.. I may need it..", he teased.. She tried controlling her anger and replied with a fake smile.. "Trust me, you wont.. "
"There is a small possibility..", he said, faking innocence, as they lined up to board the plane..
"No there isnt..".
"Please.. After what you were doing to me last night.. I think there is some chance.."
"I wasn't doing anything Armaan.. And there is no chance.."
"Jhooti.. I'll be happy to remind you of what you were doing.. Or better still, tell your papa.. that he should be worried more about my izzat than yours.. "
"Armaan its not funny.. "
"It so is.. "
"Arrgh.. I want to go back home.. I am not coming with you.."
"Too late sweetheart.. We're already in the plane.. And it's a long 5 hour 30 minute ride!!"
And he had already started making life hell for her.. "Arrgh!!!!!", and that scream of hers, scared the old uncle and aunty who were sitting next to them and only made Armaan burst out laughing at her.. This was going to be so much fun!.. He couldn't believe that he was so happy about going to the hell that he had been dreading from the last one week.. As the plane took off, his heart gave out a happy yelp.. Hell wasn't that bad, with her beside him.. Though her murderous glare at the moment did remind him of the red horned-and-tailed devils that resided there..The good thing was, he was the same species as her!! Muahaha..... ha... ha.. ha.
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