Joined: 13 January 2006
Now I know this isn't the most favourite of stories out there and I probably don't have as many readers as I expected for this one. But I've decided to keep on updating it instead of throwing the "either comment or I'll never update this again" line at you guys.
I'm genuinely really really thankful to all of the lovely readers that appreciate it and have stuck with it. I love you guys so much! And thank you for taking the time out to leave your amazing comments (for all of those that do).
This is probably the only story that I have where the plot came to me from the beginning to the end. Like I've got it all planned and I just don't want to cut it short abruptly and want to write out the whole complete story.
But I do have a request, if you do read this story and you don't comment then I request that you please do. As much as I want to keep writing this, regularly frequent updates will be difficult if there is decreased interest towards it. So please please comment if you like it. Thanks! xx
...And now that we've got that out of the way...
Update anyone? Arshi anyone?
Chapter 16 - Of Promises That We'll Keep
We are made to break
but it is in the pieces
we will find ourselves.
- Tyler Knott Gregson
They both continued to stare at each other, their equally confused gazes battling against each other. Her hazel spheres began to drown in the tears that welled up in her eyes and he had to use every brink of control he owned from preventing himself from kneeling down and wiping them away.
Khushi watched in shock, unable to draw breath, unable to swallow, her throat felt parched, her words left in a heap somewhere in a dark corner of her mind. All of her thoughts were conflicting, her heart pounded away in her chest, echoing in her ears, drowning out everything else. She didn't know what to make of this anymore, of him, of her, of where she was. Her past and her present were intermingling with each other, confusing her all the more till she wasn't sure of what to think, of what to believe; her heart or her mind.
There was too much that stood against him, she'd seen too much and yet her heart refused to believe any of it. It was stuck on that Arnav that she'd known all those years ago, the one she had sneaked sugar-free jalebis off to, the one that always protected her and she wasn't ready to let go of that Arnav.
He bent forward quietly, without uttering a word, his face somewhat devoid of expression as he attempted to mask his every feeling and emotion. First he would have to allow her to let it all out, all of her misconceptions and judgements and only then would she be empty and ready enough to hear the truth.
She glared at him, her soft hazel eyes taking on a darker edge, he was playing around with her. It was probably one of those mind games that he had learned through the years and she wasn't going to give into it. She flinched slightly as his hands moved down further, as the cloth over her mouth fell and his fingers reached for the knot at her hands.
"What are you doing?" Her voice was calm, on edge, the fact that she was still confused clear in the tone of her voice, the feel of his body so close to hers sending down shivers down her spine.
"Untying you," he replied quietly, his voice not giving anything away.
"Why?" She questioned again.
He took a deep breath in, then let his eyes meet hers, they were unnervingly calm, on level with his, unflinching.
"Well I can't carry you on a chair, so I thought it'd be easier if I untied you," he stated matter-of-factly, as if it was the most obvious thing.
She blinked several times, unable to fully comprehend him as he kneeled down and undid the knots at her legs. She ignored her instinct to stand up and make a run for it and instead watched him. He was tall and muscular, with a lean frame. He wiped the dust off of his black combats and then his t-shirt.
"What do you want from me?" She finally questioned, she couldn't be bothered playing around the bush, she wanted answers, she wanted him to at least defend himself.
What was happening? Arnav was lost for a little while, where was the Khushi that he had been expecting? The one with fiery eyes and screamed out questions? And who was this woman with a calm demeanour that had replaced her? He was taken aback and lost for words for a few seconds.
He sighed, moving back to watch her eyes once more, inquisitive, large hazel spheres, dark long lashes, she was breathtakingly beautiful. He gulped, trying to think of words to say, he was never good with them and right now if he messed up with so much as one syllable she would surely jump to more of her conclusions.
Finally taking a deep breath in he decided to just go with the first thing that came to his mind. "Trust?" At first it was a question, as if he was actually speaking to himself and he watched as her brows furrowed in confusion to that. "I want you to trust me," he finally stated, his voice a barely audible whisper and she felt herself leaning forward of her own accord.
"I don't... I don't understand," she struggled with her words, completely taken aback.
He sat back a little then, watching her for a while. "I...I don't know if you remember," he swallowed and looked down at his hands as he spoke, "years ago, I made a promise to you, when you were known as Chutki and we were both really young."
She stared at him with her eyes wide, she didn't know where this was going and she wasn't sure of how to react.
"I promised that I would always protect you," he finally said, his voice almost a whisper, "and I guess, all these years later, I'm finally getting the chance to keep that promise," a slight smile spread across his lips as he spoke those last few words and looked back up again to meet her eyes.
She felt her breath catch in her throat, her thoughts scatter into fragments and she was sure she had forgotten the functioning of her own limbs. She was drowning in those chocolate brown puddles, the ones that she had been so used to. She could still remember the tinkling laughter and the innocence hidden in those words.
She had been getting bullied by a couple of girls at school, they'd ruined her lunch for several days in a row and she'd finally given in and gone ahead and told Arnav.
They sat on the wall that ran around the large tree at one end of Arnav's house, silent tears were trailing down her face as she narrated the story to him, her small floral dress swaying against her knees to the beat of the wind. She kept on clasping then unclasping her small hands, she wasn't a coward but she wasn't much against bullies either.
She was trying to move away from hiding behind the shield that was Arnav, but she had finally given in.
She heard him snap another thin twig between his fingers then pick up another one that had been lying at the roots of the tree. She watched him for a few seconds from the corner of her eyes, he looked angry and she wasn't surprised. They'd always had this unspoken agreement, he had always protected her and maybe he felt that she had wronged him in some way by not telling him.
"I told you so that you could tell them off, not scowl at me," she muttered under her breath and his head snapped around towards her.
He glared at her for a few seconds before speaking. "You'd agreed when you started school that you'd tell me everything," he said making a face and she understood immediately, that was why he was angry.
"Okay fine," a small smile adorned her face now, her eyes lit up. She moved her hand over his and let her fingers rest there. "I promise to always tell you when I'm troubled or in trouble, happy?" She smiled as he considered her for a few more minutes. His lips still set on a scowl.
Sighing he too finally gave in as a corner of his lips lifted, "and I'll promise to always protect you," he stated, the truth of that statement not lost in the sincerity of his eyes.
"Promise?" She held out her little pinky finger.
"Promise," he accepted, wrapping his pinky finger around hers.
She felt slight tears prick her eyes as she considered his words, the very same sincerity in his eyes and she couldn't deny him.
He continued to speak though, he really badly needed her to trust him. "I know that the situation isn't perfect, that you have a lot of questions and I have a lot of answers to give."
She continued to sit there, in that same position, as if he had never untied her, lost in his words and his eyes.
"And I will give you them," he promised, not breaking eye contact for a second, "you just have to know that you can trust me, that there is nothing in this world that I would not forsake to protect you," he didn't even know where his words were coming from but he was glad for them.
She gulped, she hadn't been expecting this, she didn't know what to do.
"Please Khushi, just until I get you out, until you're safe..."
"I trust you," she mumbled quietly cutting him off, tears brimming the edges of her eyes.
"... Until I have you somewhere where..." He stopped mid-sentence, he'd almost missed her words, "what?" He questioned, his voice low.
She nodded slowly, "I trust you," she said it again, her voice a sort of whisper.
"Thank you," he said, a gentle smile spreading across his face, as smile that made Khushi shed the last remaining shrouds of guilt, a smile that she had always been able to recognise.
Inder Jha sat on his armchair, his hands folded together as if in prayer at his lips as he considered the situation and his son's reckless doing. It had been one mistake after another and now clearly he had landed himself in this mess by trying to complete two jobs at the one time.
"Shyam," he finally began to speak, Inder Jha was an old man now and the weight of his age resounded off of his deep voice. He moved slightly forward in his chair, letting their eyes remain level with each other. "I am not sure you understand the importance of these two tasks," he finally stated.
"Of course I do father," Shyam protested, attempting to justify himself but Inder simply waved him off.
"I do not care Shyam, I do not have time for any of your reasons. This is the time, we are reaching a peak, once we get the dice rolling the rest will fall like dominos," he tried to explain.
Shyam's face twitched as he attempted to mask and control his anger. Why did his father not understand that he was trying?
"But father, they are onto us, they know of our every move, what the hell am I supposed to do?!" He demanded, losing all sense of patience.
Inder slammed his hand down on the coffee table suddenly, making the contents of it and the glass rattle. "You are supposed to do one thing at a time!" He exclaimed.
"Forget the girl! The girl is not important right now! What is important are the attacks! Seven weeks, seven days, seven ATTACKS! We have it planned! Your nonsense with that useless girl is getting in the way!" Inder continued to scream till he was almost out of breath.
Shyam ground his teeth together, "if we do not get the girl father, they will have evidence to convict me," he spoke through gritted teeth.
"SHYAM!" Inder was now furious, his son had always been impulsive, dangerous yet over-confident and that would one day lead to his downfall. "You will do as I say! I will deal with the girl!"
Arnav fixed the bluetooth to his ear as Khushi came to stand next to him, "now I want you to trust me and listen and do as I say until we get out. Is that okay?" He asked, not really looking at her for fear that he'd see something he wouldn't want to again.
She nodded slowly, still not quite sure again how she felt about all of it. But she had no other option but to trust him, her heart headed none of her other choices. Those words weren't new to her, she'd heard them many times before and she'd always trusted them, so why not now?
He held his hand out then, his eyes catching her gaze before he dropped his eyes and looked away, waiting for her to take it, to give him permission.
She stared at it for what felt like a long time, the roughened skin, the darkly etched lines of his destiny before she finally placed her tender fingers then her hand over his.
He was sure he stopped breathing for a few seconds, the small weight of her hands causing his heart to race and gallop, but he had to focus on the mission at hand before he lost himself completely.
"We are good to go!" Aman's voice came through the other end. "I've bypassed all of the cameras so unless any of Shyam's f**kers have the brains to detect me and hack me out we're good to go," he stated grinning to himself.
Arnav's fingers went around Khushi's hand of their own accord as her eyes glanced between his face and their intertwined hands, how perfect it looked.
"I've got you down this end," NK's voice came through, "I've got Kamal pretty much out cold for a good few hours so I'll take the tunnel and you take the main exit," he instructed.
"Got it!" Arnav agreed then began to pull at Khushi's hand before coming to a stop again, causing her to collide off of him. She looked up instantly, her eyes wide as she felt him stiffen, an unknown emotion momentarily flicker over his eyes before he regained his composure.
"Er.. Can I have your dupatta?" She stared back, her eyes wide, why did he want her dupatta?
"It'll lead them off of our trail," he said, trying to convince her and without another word she pulled it from around her neck and handed it over to him.
He let his fingers sink into it for a few seconds, the soft material of it, he had one very similar to this with him, he'd always had it, it was the only memory of her that he had.
"NK get me as I come out, I've got Khushi's dupatta, leave it in the tunnel," he instructed.
"Aha! I like it! Arnav you are such an intelligent Romeo," NK smirked as Aman laughed in the background.
"Shut up!" Arnav warned through gritted teeth.
"Okay okay cool down there baby, you're going to scare bhabi jee," NK laughed again.
"NK I'm not going to warn you again!"
He showed the door open nearly slamming it into NK, as NK jumped back just in time.
"Dude! Don't kill me just yet!" NK exclaimed then looking over at the girl behind Arnav, waved to her, grinning like an idiot as Arnav continued to glare at him. He thrust the dupatta into NK's hand, then walked past him, pulling her with him.
NK watched them for a few minutes before he too pulled Kamal out, she was beautiful, her small frame, her large eyes and her quivering lips. No wonder the stone hearted Arnav was so smitten over her.
NK climbed back into his SUV and dialled Arnav's number, still watching the wisps of smoke in the distance.
He picked up on the sixth ring, the fact that his mind was on other things clear from his tone of voice.
"That's it done Arnav, I'm heading back to Shyam's den," he let Arnav know. They both hated killing innocents but it was something that had to be done, it was a part of their job.
Arnav nodded to himself, not at all new to the distance in NK's voice, it was the worst part of the job and somewhere it stabbed him even more that this time he'd done it for his own gain.
"Thanks NK, I owe you one," he said as a slight smell spread over NK's face.
"Usually I would have said no dude don't worry about it but since you don't owe anyone anything usually, I'm going to keep it in mind," he chuckled as Arnav smirked back.
"Right I'll let you go Arnav, you take care of your damsel in distress!" And with that he ended the call.
Arnav looked to Khushi one more time, he'd been stealing glances at her all throughout the journey. There were so many aspects to her that were still the same, her small button nose that always gave her blushing away, her large inquisitive hazel spheres, her small petal lips.
There had been a time when he had known her like his own heartbeat, when fears had been few and their ears had echoed with their own laughter. When she had trusted him without words and he had taken it for granted. But those times were now well in the past, to her he was a stranger, probably no different from the men that had taken their worlds and turned them upside down. But he had to convince her that he was still her Arnav, Chutki's Arnav that had vowed to always protect her, that had always read the qualms in her eyes.
She had to know how much he yearned for her, how much he had regretted not turning back round all those years ago, how much he needed her.
He would have to convince her because to live with her thinking of him as a monster would be a life half lived.
He eased the gear stick into second and took the exit to the left.
Khushi's eyes widened suddenly and she nearly jumped out of her seat. She tried to piece together the memories as the wrought iron gates came into full view, the paint slightly peeled, the gate slightly ajar.
She could never mistake the large oak tree in the distance, she had found herself here, drawn to it of her own accord a couple of years ago, when the memories had become too much to bear.
She turned around suddenly, her eyes clashing with his gaze. They were both thinking the same thoughts, their memories had become one, this was the place where they had first become friends.
It's been a long time
since someone looked at me that way.
It's like you knew me,
and all the things I couldn't say
- Together, The xx
Now you know what to do...
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