Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Chapter 36 : I'll Love You Longer Than Forever - AR FF

Previously on...

Gang meets RK for the first time
The truth behind Muskaan's engagement
RK announces that he wants to break up with Muskaan.


"Tum, tum Muskaan ke saath aisa kaise kar sakte ho?" Atul asked, bereft.
"Usse apni sabse achchi dost bula rahe ho, aur phir yeh keh rahe ho?" Anjali added.
"Abhi abhi tumne humse waada kiya, ki tum Muskaan ko kabhi hurt nahi karoge, aur abhi tum aisa keh rahe ho? Sharam nahi aati?" Riddhima asked, going to stand beside a stunned Muskaan. She pulled Muskaan into a hug.

Armaan and Rahul on the other hand, were angry beyond words. They looked at each other and a silent communication happened.
Then, they moved in unison. Armaan held RK as Rahul landed the first punch.
"Armaan!" Riddhima shouted, appalled, just as Muskaan called out "Rahul!"
But, the boys didn't listen and soon, a fist fight broke out. It took sometime for the rest of them to pry Armaan & Rahul away from RK who took the punches a lot more easily than they had anticipated. Not once did he hit them back, moving only to block them.
After pulling them apart, Riddhima took Armaan, Muskaan took RK & Anjali took Rahul to tend to their wounds.
"Armaan tum paagal ho kya?!" Riddhima said as soon as they were alone.
Armaan raised his eyebrows in question.
"Tum aur Rahul, RK ko maar kyu rahe the?" she asked.
"Riddhima tumhe sunaayi thoda kam deta hai kya? Tumne sunaa nahi usne Muskaan se kaha ki woh engagement tod raha hai?" Armaan asked sarcastically.
"Maine sab sunaa bhi, aur dekha bhi. Sirf isliye ki usne aisa kaha, iska yeh matlab toh nahi na ki tum usse maarne par utar aao?"
"Toh tum kehna chaahti ho ki woh humaare saamne Muskaan se kuch bhi kahe aur hum usse jawaab bhi nahi de?"
"Maine aisa nahi kaha, Armaan. Tum meri baat ka galat matlab nikaal rahe ho."
"Toh tumne kya kaha, Riddhima?"
"Main yeh kehna chaahti hu ki is problem ka solution ladayi nahi hai. Jo bhi baat hai woh Muskaan aur RK ke beech hai aur poori kahaani jaane bina humein aise react nahi karna chahiye. Aur agar Muskaan nahi chaahti toh humein interfere bhi nahi karna chahiye."
"Toh woh kamina Muskaan se kuch bhi kahe aur hum bas khade - khade sunte rahe? Bina kuch kare?"
"Agar Muskaan aisa chaahti hai, toh haan."
"Kya bakwas kar rahi ho, Riddhima? Muskaan humaari friend hai. Usse protect karna humaari responsibility hai."
"Main jaanti hu, Armaan. Lekin tumhe uske perspective se bhi sochna chahiye na. Socho ki agar kal ko humaare beech koi problems ho gaye aur Rahul, Atul, Di, Muskaan ya phir koi bhi interfere kare, toh kya tumhe achcha lagega?"
Armaan shook his head mutely.
"Toh us hi tarah, zaruri toh nahi na tumhaara aur Rahul ka is tarah interfere karna Muskaan ko achcha laga ho."
Armaan nodded.
"Main yeh nahi keh rahi ki Muskaan ko protect karna buri baat hai. In fact, main bohot khush hu ki tum usse apni itni achchi friend maante ho ki tumne uske liye RK se ladaayi ki. Lekin Muskaan is baare mein kya sochti hai, humein woh bhi sochna chahiye. Main nahi chaahti ki iss baar kuch aisa ho jaise Nikki aur Abhi ke waqt hua tha, Armaan."
He sighed, nodding. Unable to help himself anymore, he wound his arms around Riddhima's waist and pulled her close. He kissed her forehead before whispering, "I love you."
Not moving his hands or lips, he spoke against her skin. "Main jaanta hu, jo tum keh rahi ho woh sahi hai. Lekin usne sabke saamne, bina kisi wajah ke Muskaan ke saath engagement tod di. Agar koi problem hai toh unhe sab kuch discuss karke, saath mein decide karna chahiye. Is tarah hum sabke saamne, bina Muskaan se kuch pooche, usne keh diya. Mujhe bilkul achcha nahi laga. Muskaan hum sabko apne fianc se milana chaahti thi aur ab toh woh uska fianc hi nahi rehna chaahta. Woh kitni embarrass ho gayi hogi."
"It's okay, Armaan. I'm sure jo bhi problem hogi, woh log sort out kar lenge."
"I hope so," he replied.
"I love ki tumhe Muskaan ki itni fikr hai."
"I love you," he replied, smiling widely.
"I love you, too," she said, pulling back to kiss him.
"Waise, tumhe kabse achcha lagne laga mera Muskaan ke liye itna care karna? Jab uski help karne Patiala gaya tha, tab toh tumne mujhe chod hi diya tha. Ab bada achcha lagta hai," Armaan said, smirking.
"ARMAAN!" Riddhima cried, swatting his shoulder.
"What?" He asked.
"You know what."
"No, I don't. Isliye toh tumse pooch raha hu," he replied.
Riddhima sighed before hiding her face in his chest.
"CzIwasjealous," she mumbled against him.
"Kya? Kya kaha tumne? Mujhe suna nahi," Armaan said, grinning widely.
"Kyuki main jealous thi, okay!" She burst.
No matter how hard he tried, he couldn't stop the laughter bubbking up in his chest. So, he chuckled. Loudly.
Riddhima humphed and moved away from him, but he caught her in his arms.
"Armaan," she pouted. "Tum mujhpe hasna band karoge, please?"
"I'm sorry, Jaan. Main bas surprised hu ki tumne keh diya."
She shrugged her shoulders bashfully.
"I love you," Armaan repeated. "Meri life mein kisi aur ke liye jagah nahi hai, okay? Anjy, Muskaan, Nikki aur chahe koi bhi aur ladki ho, sirf meri dost hai. Meri zindagi mein tumhaari jagah kabhi koi nahi le sakta, okay?"
Riddhima nodded.
"I love you, too. And I'm sorry."
"Kis liye?"
"Muskaan ki wajah se tumhe chodne ke liye," she replied.
"It's okay, Jaan. Mujhe tumnse sach nahi chupaana chahiye tha. Phir shayad tum aise react nahi karti."
"Shayad," Riddhima agreed.
"Lekin ab tum mujhe chodke kabhi nahi jaa sakti, okay? Tumhe permission nahi hai."
"Okay."
Armaan grinned and kissed her cheek.
"Ab tumhaari dressing kardu?" She asked. Armaan nodded happily.
Riddhima pulled out the bandages from the box that she had taken from the cupboard and shared with Anjali and Muskaan.
She started applying the ointment and bandaging his knuckles. Armaan, being Armaan, took full advantage of the situation and kept pulling her closer to himself or kissing her, enjoying their closeness.
Though as it was just his knuckles that needed attention, the whole thing was over pretty quickly, much to the chagrin of Armaan.
"Chalo ab," she told him, pulling him up with her.
They entered the living room to see that Rahul, Atul & Anjali were already there. Atul was praising Rahul for what he did.
When he saw Armaan, he leapt out of his chair and pulled him into a hug.
"Armaan, mere bhai! Aaj tum dono ne kamaal hi kar diya!"
"Thank you, Atul," Armaan replied, smriking as he took a bow.
"Armaan," Riddhima reprimanded, hitting his back.
"Tum bhi?" Rahul asked.
Riddhima looked at him, confused.
"Anjy ko lagta hai ki hum dono ko RK ko nahi maarna chahiye tha," he replied.
"I think Di ko bilkul sahi lagta hai," Riddhima replied.
"Thought so," he mumbled.
"Rahul."
"What?"
"I think its great ki tum dono ko Muskaan ki itni fikr hai. Humein bhi hai. Lekin jo tumne kiya woh sahi nahi tha."
Rahul sighed.
"Waise Muskaan aur RK hain kahaan?" Armaan asked.
"Pata nahi. I think Muskaan abhi bhi uski dressing kar rahi hai," Anjali replied.
Meanwhile, Muskaan and RK were in the guest bedroom. Muskaan was tending to his wounds while he sat there, smirking at her.
"Kya hai?" She asked.
"Bohot pyaar karta hai tujhse," he replied.
"Kaun?" She asked, even though she already knew the answer.
"Tu bhi usse karti hai," he said, completely ignoring her question.
"Tu kya bakwaas kar raha hai? Main kisise pyaar nahi karti."
"Muskaan, tu mujhse toh jhooth bol nahi sakti. Khudse bhi mat bol. Dekha maine, tum dono kais eek doosre ko dekh rahe the. Itna pyaar karti hai toh waapas kyu nahi chali jaati?" He asked.
"Tujhe pata hai kyu."
"Nahi, mujhe nahi pata. Yeh decide hua tha na, ki agar situation change ho gayi, toh hum yeh engagement tod denge?"
"Agar kuch badla ho toh, warna nahi."
"Sab badal gaya hai, Muskaan."
"Nahi badla."
"Tere is baat ko na maanne se woh badal nahi jaayegi. Yeh tujhe bhi pata hai. Jo baat itni zyada obvious hai, tu usse kaise ignore kar sakti hai?"
"Main kuch ignore nahi kar rahi."
"Muskaan..."
"Is baat par ab aur koi discussion nahi hoga," saying so, Muskaan got up and left, leaving RK behind.
RK came outside sometime later to see everybody in the living room.
"I'm sorry," Rahul and Armaan muttered a half assed apology on seeing him.
He nodded at them. "Ab mujhe nikalna chahiye," he announced.
Muskaan got up immediately, but he stopped her. "Muskaan tu yahin ruk. Armaan aur Riddhima mujhe ghar chod denge, right?" He asked them, gazing intently. He knew if someone could help him, it was them. He needed Muskaan to understand that what she was doing was absolutely stupid and that they were the best people to help in doing that. He needed to talk to them without an audience.
Armaan agreed reluctantly. It was more to appease Riddhima than anything else. He knew that after what had just happened, if he threw a fit when it came to taking RK home, he would have one very pissed girlfriend to deal with, which he most certainly wouldn't enjoy.
The drive was short and awkward, with RK & Riddhima trying to make small talk to diffuse the tension but failing horribly.
"Can we talk?" RK asked as Armaan parked the car in his driveway.
"What?" Armaan asked, confused. What did he want to talk about?
"Please. Rahul aur Muskaan ke baare mein baat karni hai," RK added, hoping that would entice them to talk to him. It did.
"Okay."
On entering the house, RK took them straight to his room and helped them settle down.
After a few minutes, Riddhima asked. "Tumhe humse kya baat karni thi?"
"Rahul Muskaan se pyaar karta hai," he declared. Armaan and Riddhima were taken aback on hearing him say this.
"Haan," Armaan replied finally, surprised that RK had been able to decipher Rahul's feelings.
"Muskaan bhi usse pyaar karti hai," he stated.
"What?"
"Haan."
"Nahi. Muskaan usse pyaar nahi karti. Kaash tum jo keh rahe ho woh sach hota, lekin nahi hai," Riddhima replied sadly.
"Trust me, Riddhima. Muskaan ab bhi Rahul se bohot pyaar karti hai."
"Toh phir usne Rahul ke koi bhi messages ka reply kyu nahi diya? Jab woh usse milne aaya toh woh kyu nahi mili? Waapas aane ke baad bhi usne kyu kuch nahi kaha? Tumse shaadi kyu kar rahi hai?" Riddhima fired questions one after the other.
She knew that Muskaan meant the world to Rahul and she had to protect him. She couldn't hold onto any false hope. Even though she suspected that Muskaan did love Rahul, she wasn't going to do anything about it until she heard it from Muskaan.
If she tried and Muskaan didn't take Rahul back, he would be broken. She couldn't let him go through such heartbreak again.
"Muskaan darr rahi hai, Riddhima. Woh Rahul ko ek aur mauka dena chaahti hai, lekin usse darr hai ki kahin woh usse phirse chodkar na chala jaaye," RK explained.
Armaan and Riddhima sighed. Of course she was worried about that.
"Toh ab hume kya karna chahiye?"
"Rahul ko yeh prove karna hoga ki woh Muskaan ko chodkar nahi jaane waala."
"Lekin kaise?" Armaan asked.
"Isliye main tum dono se baat karna chaahta tha," RK announced. "Hume milke koi aisa plan banana hoga jisse woh samajh jaaye, ki sab theek hoga."
"Hmmm."
They discussed various possibilities for sometime, not really reaching a proper conclusion. But, it was getting late and Armaan had to drop Riddhima home.
"I think humein ab nikalna chahiye," Armaan declared.
RK nodded.
"Main kuch sochke tumse baat karunga, RK. Thanks," Armaan said, smiling at him.
RK nodded.
"RK? Tums eek baat poochu?" Riddhima asked.
"Poocho na."
"Tum Rahul aur Muskaan ko milane ke liye yeh sab kyu kar rahe ho? I mean... tumhaari aur Muskaan ki shaadi fix ho gayi hai..."
RK smiled. He was surprised that they had held off on this question for so long.
"Muskaan sirf meri achchi dost hai. Mere mann mein uske liye aur koi bhi feelings nahi hai. Aur main Muskaan aur Rahul ke baare mein sab jaanta hu. Yeh bhi jaanta hu ki woh ab bhi Rahul se pyaar karti hai. Shaadi fix hone se pehle usne mujhe sab kuch bata diya tha."
"Toh phir tumne haan kyu ki? I mean, kisi aise insaan se shaadi karna jo kisi aur se pyaar karta hai? I know yeh bohot personal question hai. Agar tum jawaab nahi dena chaahte toh it's okay."
"Nahi, nahi. Koi baat nahi. Ab humein bohot waqt ek saath bitaan hi hai, Rahul aur Muskaan ko saath laane, toh mujhe tumhe sab sach bata dena chahiye," RK answered, moving to his desk. He opened a drawer and rummaged through for a picture. He handed it to Riddhima.
"Yeh Madhu hai, woh ladki jisse main pyaar karta hu. Lekin meri koi stupid mistakes ki wajah se hum alag ho gaye. Aur ab woh mujhse baat bhi nahi karna chaahti, taaki main usse maafi maang saku."
"RK! I'm sorry," Riddhima said, distraught.
"It's okay. Galti meri thi. Mujhe uski feelings ke baare mein sochna chahiye tha. Khair, jo bhi ho. Ab hum saath nahi hai. Aur Muskaan aur meri family puraane friends hai. Toh jab unhone yeh faisla liya, hum maan gaye, kyuki waise bhi Rahul aur Madhu toh..." he trailed off.
"Oh! I'm so sorry," Riddhima said, moving to hug him.
"It's fine, Riddhima," RK replied.
Armaan nodded at RK and then they left for the night.
On their way back, Riddhima seemed to be deep in thought.
"Kya soch rahi ho, Basket?" Armaan asked.
"Armaan, hume RK ki help karni chahiye."
"Hum kar toh rahe."
"Rahul aur Muskaan ke liye nahi, stupid. Mera matlab hai Madhu ke liye."
"Oh."
"Haan. RK itna kuch kar raha hai Rahul aur Muskaan ko saath laane. Hume bhi kuch karna chahiye na, uske aur Madhu ke beech ke problems ko sort out karne?"
"Haan, karna toh chahiye. Lekin kaise? Hume toh uske baare mein kuch nahi pata."
"Hmmm," Riddhima replied. "Baat toh sahi hai. RK se hi information nikalwani hogi. Lekin aise jaise usse pata na chale ki hum kya kar rahe hain."
"Hmmm. Dheere dheere aise hi randomly usse Madhu ke baare mein kuch cheeze pooch lenge har din. I'm sure Muskaan ko sab pata hoga, lekin agar humne usse poocha, toh usse shak ho jaayega."
Riddhima smiled widely and leaned on Armaan, resting her head against his shoulder. He smiled down at her and kissed her forehead quickly.
"Armaan, tums eek baat poochu?" He nodded silently against her head.
"Jab hum alag hue the, tumne kabhi kisi aur ke baare mein nahi socha?"
"Matlab?" Armaan asked, deciding to play dumb.
"Tum jaante ho main kya kehna chahti hu," she responded, her voice tight.
Armaan sighed. He parked the car on the side of the road and forced her to look at him.
"Tum aisa soch bhi kaise sakti ho?" He asked, sounding a little hurt.
"Armaan..."
"Nahi, Riddhima," Armaan cut her off. "Jabse tum meri life mein aayi ho, maine na kabhi kisi aur ladki ke baare mein aaj tak socha hai, naa sochunga. Okay?"
Riddhima nodded.
"I'm sorry, Armaan. Main jaanti hu. Bas, Rahul aur Muskaan ko dekhkar..." she trailed off, not knowing what to say.
"I know. Lekin hum Rahul aur Muskaan nahi hai, Jaan. Main sirf aur sirf tumse pyaar karta hu. Aur apni zindagi kisi aur ke saath bitane ke baare mein soch bhi nahi sakta," he whispered, moving close to her face and resting his forehead against hers as he nuzzled their noses, speaking against her mouth.
"I love you, Armaan."
He grinned. "I love you, too, Jaan." And then, he pressed his lips to hers, kissing her passionately, conveying just how much he loved her in that one kiss.


xxx

Love, always.
prag

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