Other A Farm in the Forest- Chapter 56 (December 7, 2018)

Discussion in 'Fan Works' started by MagicallyClueless, May 3, 2016.

  1. MagicallyClueless

    MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer

    if it helps you feel better, he uses the chatspeak in completely ironic ways

    hehe, well a lot of people like relationships that develop faster! sometimes i'm scared i'm doing this TOO slow. but at least the ball is almost rolling now. it'll still be a little while before it gets serious.

    sam is totally a huggable teddybear (maybe to a lesser extent than alex)
     
      Gabaw and Risukage like this.
    • Risukage

      Risukage Giant Laser Beams

      *Looks at calendar.*

      Yay, it's Tuesday! :)
       
      • CjBeats

        CjBeats Pangalactic Porcupine

      • MagicallyClueless

        MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer

        Chapter 22 comin yo waaayyyy~



        Sam's gift from Jade would be a promise for a future gift. She knew it was tacky, but hey, it's all she had. If she wanted to be snobbish, she could have decided to only grace him with her presence! “Hah, present of presence,” Jade snorted aloud. Okay. She decided to stop thinking of ridiculous wordplay.

        Today was Sam's birthday! As previously discussed, his friends and a few other townspeople would gather at the beach for a party. It wasn't going to be too busy, Jade felt, but she still mentally prepared herself for a thick crowd. The thought also caused Jade to worry about Sebastian. She wouldn't be surprised if he wasn't going, since he wasn't fond of crowds, but... Sam was his best friend. When the two were together, their bond was very apparent. They were brothers in spirit who have been through everything, and it would be such a shame if Sebastian missed out on something important to Sam.

        In a way, it was important to Jade, too. Though she was just trying to convince Sebastian to join them in the previous day’s conversation, there was a smidgen of truth. She really wanted to go to the beach to just have a good time and spend some quality time with her friends. They were only ever together once a week at the saloon, so it was exciting for her to do other activities. Pool competition with Sebastian was entertaining, but she hasn't been to the beach to really swim. After all the times she's visited the beach, she was actually shocked that it took this long to really get in the water.

        Enough pondering. Jade finished her farm duties in the early afternoon, sunny sky bringing lots of sweaty work. She had a big blueberry harvest and watered all of her crops, then going to her coop to check on and play with her rabbits. Everything was going well, though all the work tired her out enough for her to crave the feeling of cool ocean water even more. Jade's next destination had to be her house, where she rushed to get out of her farm clothes and put on some actual summer gear.

        Her bathing suit was a vivid and cheerful light blue, hilariously being the same color as her raincoat. The top fit around her like any normal bikini would, while the bottom was frilly, translucent, and long, fitting much like a short skirt. Beneath the skirt was the actual 'bathing suit' part, which consisted of very dark shorts. After equipping her bathing suit, she slathered herself with more than enough sunscreen, just to be sure. Despite the hot summer weather and the obvious farmer's tan, she was as pale as a sheet of printing paper. She slipped on a bulky white t-shirt and put on some ankle socks with her favorite red sneakers after the sunscreen was dealt with. Lastly, she tied her gigantic mass of wavy brown hair into a relaxed ponytail. She was finally ready for fun on the beach. The young farmer snatched her backpack full of the usual gear (plus some more sunscreen and beach towels) before departing her beloved farm.

        Getting somewhere always seemed longer when she really wanted to go. Though Jade rushed to get to the shore, it took quite a while. When she finally arrived, however, her expression brightened. The travel was worth it.

        "Jadey!" called Abigail from a far distance. Jade automatically reacted by turning her head to the source. Abigail was relaxing on a plastic bench that connected to a large and equally plastic picnic table, which was located on the far side of the beach, past Elliott’s cabin. Music played from a portable stereo, colorful balloons suspended from the edges of the table, and there was quite the group of people filling the area. Middle-aged adults stood in tight circles as they ate barbecue, including Jodi, Caroline, Robin, and Marnie- Sam’s birthday seemed to be a good excuse to relax on the beach during lunch break. Gus was grilling various foods on a shiny red grill while Pam greedily watched from a close proximity, and Vincent and Jas played in the shallows of the shore, splashing and chasing each other under parent supervision. The main group of folks Jade concerned were the young adults her age; for the time, she saw Sam and Abigail chatting alongside Penny and Maru. The young farmer felt a childlike giddiness from seeing everyone together, but was slightly disappointed with the lack of Sebastian.

        Jade waved back to the group while making her way over. She crossed the bridge past Elliott’s cabin and crossed some rocky, coral-scattered patches of ground before reaching the smooth, sandy shoreline. As she approached, she noticed that the four young adults wore their swimsuits; Penny wore a vibrant green one-piece, Maru a fuschia two-piece, and Abigail a purple bikini with colorful cartoon skulls printed on the material. Sam had on boxers that went to his knees, though they were sagging- he appeared to have gone into the water previously, as did Abigail. She was sitting on a multicolored beach towel and the end of her trailing purple hair was damp. Both Maru and Penny were dry, but they were also stuffing their faces with food. Penny had eaten a rack of ribs and Maru was still eating a juicy cheeseburger. Jade realized how much she was starving.

        “Hey guys!” shouted Jade in return. “And a happy birthday to you, Sam!”

        “Hey! Thanks,” grinned Sam. “Almost thought you wouldn’t come. All of the old peeps are eating and will leave soon, so it’ll just be us. Mom just likes to make parties, especially since it makes a good excuse for the whole family to be together, you know?” He glanced over to his mother, and then at Vincent playing where the water hit the shore. “Well, almost everyone. Maybe dad will be here next year... But hey.”

        The young farmer nodded. “Sounds good with me. This food looks delicious, but I’m unsure if I wanna eat first and wait to get in the water, or just belly flop into the ocean without a care in the world.”

        “Live on the edge!” Abigail chuckled. “Do both.”

        Maru nodded in agreement while chewing her food. “This food is so worth risking cramps for,” she muffled with contentment.

        Penny giggled as she watched her friend. “Isn’t that just a myth?” she asked. Everyone shrugged in response.

        “It’s a myth I ain’t following,” Sam confidently replied as he turned to look at the food on the table. Jade also took some time to examine the goods: half of a birthday cake, ice cream and various drinks shielded in a cooler, burgers, hot dogs, salty potato chips, and pork ribs that were completely picked clean. Sam reached for a handful of potato chips and began eating them while relaxing with his friends. Gus finished the last batch of food on the grill and delivered another fresh rack of ribs. Nearly everyone hounded the picnic table and grabbed another plate. Jade quickly took her chance and started to take a little bit of everything.

        Jodi noticed the young farmer after she approached the table. “Hello, Jade!” she kindly greeted. The poor woman looked exhausted, but the food and getting some time with her own friends seemed to improve her mood for the day. She had the same ponytail hairdo as usual, though today she wore a white spaghetti-strapped top and denim capris. She had a long-sleeve pink plaid shirt tied around her waist. “It’s nice to see you. Sam was excited for you to come,” she remarked with a smile.

        “Oh, thank you! I’m happy I could come,” Jade replied with cheer. “I haven’t been to a birthday party in ages. I feel like a little kid, but in the absolute best way.”

        Jodi chuckled as she watched Jade collect her food. “That’s good. I do these for Sam, but I think it helps to have Vincent around, too. It’s a good break for me, as well.” She sighed. “If it weren’t for the calendar in front of Pierre’s, people wouldn’t even know most birthdays. No one ever celebrates anything, which can be depressing. That boy Alex had a birthday last week but no one heard anything about it. Shame.”

        “Wh-...Really?” Jade stared in shock, not knowing Alex’s birthday had already passed. She felt like she needed to do something, then... especially if no one really wished him a happy birthday. She noticed how he only really hung around Haley, and no one else. The thought saddened her.

        “Yep, poor thing. Not my kid, though, so eh... Enjoy the party and feel free to stay for Sam, okay?” Jodi concluded in a sweet, mom-like voice. Apparently all the mothers had that certain lull in their tone, but Jade liked hearing it. She waved as Jodi left and finished getting all her food, trying not to let Alex bother her. Robin was too busy stuffing her face to talk to Jade, but she still managed to get in a high five for a hello before Jade left to join the group again.

        Jade started eating and listened to the chatter of the blond and his gal pals. Despite whatever hilarious topic they were discussing, Jade’s mind drifted back to Sebastian. Maru and Robin were there, but not him. It was just... stupid. “Hey Maru,” Jade piped up when they were at a slow point in their talk.

        Maru brought her attention to Jade with a gentle expression on her face. “Yes?”

        “I see you and your mom here... did Seb just say he’s not coming?” Jade gloomily asked.

        The four of them changed in demeanor when she brought Sebastian into the talk. Sam quickly tried to shift his body language to emanate positive feelings. “Hey, don’t sweat it, Jade. You failed your mission, but it was kinda impossible to begin with,” he laughed.

        The young scientist shrugged as she finished up her cheeseburger. “Mom was knocking on his door and saying we were leaving for the beach, but he didn’t even answer. We just assumed he was still sleeping or something, but knowing I was going probably didn’t help.”

        “Nah, it’s not your fault, Maru,” Jade answered. “It does make me sad, though. I would have liked all of us to be here, especially since moments like this feel so rare.” The young farmer pouted as she began eating a slice of birthday cake.

        “It definitely is rare,” Penny repeated in agreement. “I am glad we still get to do this. I was a little scared it was going to rain...”

        Jade hummed as a sign she was listening while chewing her food. “I thought I had him. Abby was there! Abby, how close was I?”

        “You had me pretty damn convinced,” laughed Abigail.

        “Chillax, chillax. I talked to him last night and I had a big feeling he wasn’t coming. He said he might, but meh, I doubt it. It’s okay, though!” Sam chimed in, a kind expression on his face. He had a mature older brother vibe, which wasn’t something that appeared very often with him. Sam’s expression immediately changed when his vivid green eyes pointed in Jade’s direction. His mouth formed into a smirk. He looked sly, and... threatening. Jade gulped, unsure of how to feel about his stare.

        “W-well... it still sucks,” the young farmer weakly muttered. She pouted less when the food brightened her mood and filled her stomach. Gus was truly the best of the best with meals.

        Abigail stared at both Sam and Jade, puffing her torso in pride. “I’ll say that he steals you two all the damn time. Now’s my chance to make my way into the number one spot,” she joked. Jade smiled and lightly shoved her.

        “All of you are my number one spot,” replied Jade. “Sorry for sulking, heheh. Let’s just try to enjoy ourselves.”

        Just as Sam predicted, nearly everyone left after everyone’s stomachs were filled. All the cooking equipment was packed up, leftovers shared, and table folded and toted away. In the late day, only the five young adults remained to enjoy the beach among themselves. All of them chatted and had fun conversations full of silly jokes and banter, which then led to the moment Jade has been waiting for: swimming!

        There were wooden docks that extended outward from the furthest side of the beach,except this path was straightforward and much smaller compared to the docks on the other side. After Jade removed her socks, shoes, and shirt, she ran out onto the pier docks with the other four and stopped at a large platform that marked its edge. They all stared out into the beautiful ocean horizon, waves gently rolling. There were clouds scattered about the sky, but the day was still so bright and shining that it didn’t even matter.

        Sam stepped up to Jade and clamped a hand on her shoulder. “Look at that, Papa. The ocean looks and sounds amazing, doesn’t it? You don’t get this in the city,” he wistfully sighed.

        “Yeah... it’s so nice. I’m falling in love with the valley. Nature really is wonderful.” Jade didn’t mind to sound so cheesy, though she didn’t really care. The scenery brought a calmness she needed. Hearing the tumbling waves, seagulls calling out to each other. Maru and Penny sat on the edge of the pier and let the water swallow their feet, while Abigail stretched her arms on the other side of the pier to fully feel the wind in her hair. All of them were listening to Sam and Jade while winding down from all the previous commotion. “Have you had a good birthday?” Jade asked, lifting her head to look at Sam.

        He nodded. “Can’t complain at all. I love you guys. Though... I am a little bummed about something.”

        “What is it?” asked Jade, frowning. “Seb?” she guessed. That’s why she was bummed, anyway.

        The blond chuckled. “Strangely enough, no. I’m kinda used to that. What really bums me though, is that I didn’t get what I wanted this year.”

        Abigail was quietly snickering to herself, trying her best to prevent Jade from hearing. Penny glanced over at her, then to Sam. She seemed a little grumpy, but said nothing. The young farmer stared back out to the horizon, much gloomier this time. “You didn’t get what you wanted? What’s that?”

        Sam slid his hand down to Jade’s back, right in between her shoulder blades. “Oh, just...” He roughly shoved her off of the docks. “Your suffering!! Ahaha!!”

        “SAM!” screamed Jade as she tipped off of the docks and into the water. There was a huge sploosh! of water that splattered around him and Maru and Penny.

        “Sam, you know better!” scolded Penny, huffing as she flicked some stray water off of her. Sam broke out into a cackle and started tearing up from laughter.

        “Her face! Ahahaha! That was... Oh, man! Golden!” Sam squawked in delight. Abigail walked over curiously, concern shrouding her visage.

        “Dude. She hasn’t come out from under the water yet,” Abigail muttered.

        Sam suddenly stopped laughing. “... I didn’t push her too hard, did I?"

        Hands latched around Sam’s legs, quickly followed by Jade’s upper half springing out of the water. “Suck it, Sam!” she yelled, mercilessly tripping him and dragging him into the ocean. With a laugh-filled squeal, Sam had been thrown underwater as well. It all happened so fast, so the three remaining ladies watched in shock. As the two emerged from the water and started to wrestle, however, they relaxed and started to laugh.

        “Come on in!” Jade beamed. “Water’s great!”

        Abigail didn’t need to be told twice. She plugged her nose and cannonballed off the pier, even more water cascading onto Maru and Penny. The remaining two looked at each other with shrugs- they had been splashed enough already- and jumped in after.

        Swimming, playfighting, and even more vicious banter occupied the rest of their day. None of them realized how long they stayed out in the water or really how much time passed, but the sky slightly dimmed as the sun was getting close to its daily departure.

        “Man, not too long now and we’ll have to get out of the water. Sharks really love leg dragging jerkfaces,” Sam remarked, giving a sly glance to Jade.

        She cackled and splashed some water at him. “I think they’re more attracted to back pushing jerkwads.”

        “Uuugh, can you two talk about things that aren’t sharks? I’d swim out of here but you two can be my meat shields,” Abigail grumbled, carefully watching the water all around her. There was no real reason for her to worry since the ocean was so clear and sharks of the Gem Sea were so docile to begin with, but hey, she could do what she wanted.

        Penny started with a chuckle, then broke out into a yawn. “I am getting pretty tired,” she added. “I think I might head out soon. What about you, Maru?”

        “Heh, yeah. Today was a lot of fun though. I think we all needed a break,” Maru replied. She stretched and let the lowly swelling waves carry her around. In her relaxing, she glanced out onto the shore. Her eyes widened at what she saw. “Wait, is that...?”

        “Holy Yoba! Seb!!” Jade yelled happily, flailing and waving. He walked onto the sandy region of the shore while carrying a portable beach chair. He unfolded it, stabbed an umbrella beside the chair to shade, and finally sat down with a book in hand, not even paying attention to the others. The beach chair was far away from the water, and from how he was dressed, he had no intention of getting wet. “What the- are you wearing your hoodie still, you nerd?!”

        Sebastian was indeed wearing his hoodie. At least he had the decency to wear shorts, though they weren’t of the swimming variety and were just as dark as his hoodie. He had his black shoes on as usual and crossed his legs as he got comfortable in the chair. Despite his non-answering, he did hear Jade’s yelling (as anybody could). He stared her dead in the eyes and rolled up his hoodie sleeves while sporting a sarcastic, exceedingly punchable expression.

        The young farmer took no hesitation in swimming onto the shore. “Hey!” she beamed, first going over to her backpack to take out her beach towel. She dried herself off some and wrapped the towel around her shoulders, then waddling over to the already reading Sebastian. “I’m really happy you came! Granted, you’re here really late, but...”

        “Eh, I got done with work,” he boredly replied.

        “That’s good! You should go say happy birthday to Sam. I’m sure he’s so relieved to know you’re here... ugh, why are you dressed like that, though? You can’t swim in that!” Jade huffed.

        “Exactly.” Sebastian placed a finger where he stopped reading and lifted his head to look at Jade. “I already told you. I don’t swim with people... And I’ll talk to Sam when he comes to shore.”

        The young farmer didn’t really want to have that kind of banter, so she decided to not pester him further. “Aw, alright... Well, I had a lot of fun. The food was good, too. I’m sure Robin got some of the leftovers, so you can have some.” She plopped down beside the chair and watched the remaining four swim around in the ocean. It looked like Sam and Abigail were busy dunking each other and yelling. Their playfighting caused Jade to giggle.

        Sebastian glanced at Jade, who was content sitting there, then glanced back out to the ocean. He watched them for a while and enjoyed the quiet from such a distance. For many moments, he forgot he had a book to read. Jade was right about everyone being together... it was nice.

        Maru and Penny reached the shore, both getting their towels and chatting to each other. After a few minutes, Maru called out to everyone: “Hey! We’re going home, see you later!”

        “Happy birthday again, Sam!” Penny kindly called out after.

        Sam, Abigail, and Jade all waved and yelled their farewells to the two ladies. They grabbed their stuff and walked away. Maru made the effort to wave to Sebastian as well, which he acknowledged with slightly raising his hand. Bland, but it was more than what he would usually do. Jade’s eyes sparkled at their interaction; she was very proud of both of them.

        The remaining two eventually got out of the water and dried themselves to join Jade and Sebastian. Orange began to mix with the cerulean blue in the sky as the sun started to set. Seems like a day well spent.

        “Finally decided to join, eh? You miss me that much?” laughed Sam. He spread out his towel and sat on the other side of Sebastian’s chair, while Abigail laid hers out near Jade and flopped across it.

        “Whatever helps you sleep at night,” Sebastian smirked. “Happy birthday, man.”

        “Thanks! This was a pretty damn good birthday, if I do say so myself. Even if none of you got me presents,” he jokingly huffed.

        Jade whined, hugging her knees. “Hey! I’ll get something when I have the money,” she pouted. “I harvested a ton of blueberries today so I’ll just have to find a good store. Or order online, maybe.”

        Sam chuckled and shook his head. “I’m just joking. I really don’t care.” He sighed wistfully and clapped his hands together. He dumbly smiled and fluttered his eyelashes. “In any case... friendship is the greatest gift of all!” he swooned in a high-pitched voice. Both Abigail and Jade laughed, while Sebastian pushed the blond with his foot.

        Since their friend arrived so late, the four of them stayed for a couple more hours on the beach. They mostly talked, watched the sunset, then pointed out stars as they slowly revealed themselves in the sky. The tide started to come in and allowed Sam to joke about shark fins he saw in the water. Everyone had fun, and even Sebastian warmed up to their location and sprouted more conversation. The night concluded wonderfully with everyone together. Jade felt like she wouldn’t forget it.

        The young farmer put her large white t-shirt back on and walked off the beach with her closest friends. Sam and Jade were separated from Sebastian and Abigail as their paths diverged, but they all said their proper goodbyes. Sam was next, and then Jade was left alone to go to Cindersap Forest and get to her farm. She didn’t mind the quiet, and the night was truly beautiful. Fireflies were extremely active at this time of night and glittered her path back home.

        Before she went back to her house, she checked on her sweet little rabbits in their coop. Butterscotch was stretched out, sleeping, while Plague snoozed under her and twitched her leg every once in a while. Jade felt so relieved to know they were doing well. Without disturbing them, she shut the gate that allowed them outside and then left them be. Jade stepped onto her porch and nearly opened her door, but froze. Something didn’t feel right.

        She glanced behind her shoulders to survey her farm. Nothing was there, not even slimes, but... She still felt like someone was watching her. It was the same feeling she had when she was in the mines before... just that feeling of something lurking in the shadows.

        She didn’t see anything.

        “Jade, you really need some sleep,” she mumbled to herself. She opened the door, jumping back with a gasp when her cat zoomed out through the opening. “Gah! Onyx! You nearly gave me a heart attack,” she desperately breathed. She really needed some sleep then. Onyx hopped back onto the porch and mewed, rubbing his side and tail against the young farmer’s leg. She leaned down to give him some loving pets before he then took off to go do his regular cat business.

        Jade didn’t like the idea of letting Onyx stay outside while she felt this way, but... maybe it was just her imagination. She walked inside, showered, and started to watch a movie before she passed out in mere minutes. The day finally ended.



        BEACH EPISOOOOOOOODE
        more of a chill chapter, bonding characters together and subtle plot points blah blah.

        Next chapter is going to a another dialogue filled fest and then the one after that is going to be solid exploration. Gotta give the characters a break.

        I always have fun doing interactions, so I hope you guys enjoy this one! Nothing too much to say.
         
          Last edited: Jul 26, 2016
        • Gabaw

          Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

          Sam the lovable jerk :p Some days more of the latter than the former lmao. Didn't expect Jadeson Vorhees to come out and grab him tho that was top :rofl: Those late evenings at the beach with friends are truly special and much cherished. You got that across well here. Jade's pretty brave tho thrashing about not giving a f**k about sharks and then walking home alone through Cindersnap at night. I'm a grown ass 200 pound man and I'd be screaming like a little girl. There's wolves in there. Maybe not but there could be. You don't know. What was that noise?? Probs whatever's been following Jade!!
           
            Risukage and MagicallyClueless like this.
          • Risukage

            Risukage Giant Laser Beams

            Dear gods, Jade is the complete mirror opposite of my OC. And I love it so much. :D

            Ah, Sam, you lovable dingus, no wonder you serve all of the community service hours!
             
            • MagicallyClueless

              MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer

              Of course she's not worried about sharks... THERE ARE MERPEOPLE TO WORRY ABOUT. Spooky dangerous MERPEOPLE!!!!

              and Sam is just.... xD Sam

              Here's chap 23~ probably just one update next week since i don't have nanowrimo to force me to finish stuff



              A new day arose and Jade woke up with her merciless alarm clock. She couldn’t complain since she slept fairly well and had a dreamless night, or at least had a dream she couldn’t remember. Sunlight happily shined through the windows of her lonely room, signifying another clear day. Lack of rain was rather nice, but an unfortunate side effect was that the temperature was so high. Jade soon felt an aching that she couldn’t explain- not until she stepped into her bathroom and gazed into her mirror.

              Sunburn. Great. Despite her attempts to be so prepared at the beach, her pale self managed to burn to a crisp. Jade sighed and lightly touched her red cheeks, then pulled her shirt back to examine her red shoulders. Well, she knew it could have always been worse. After her shower for the day, she tried to treat her burns with aloe and dressed in extremely comfortable, non-irritating clothing. Despite the hot weather, she protected her arms with a white long-sleeved shirt and decided to be the farmer among farmers with a nifty pair of overalls. She wore her normal brown boots as usual and never left the house without her choker and emerald necklace. They looked tackier with the long sleeves and overalls, but hey, it still worked. To protect her head and face, Jade fished a straw hat out from her closet. For extra cuteness, she pinned her normal green bunny bow onto the base of the hat. Now she looked like a real farmer!

              The official farmer had more to do than to look classy. Thanks to the commotion Sam made on her computer a few days ago, she made it more of a habit to check her computer upstairs... Oh, good. No new messages, though she did forget to close her conversations from the previous night. She sat down to re-read her bantering with Sebastian.


              SEBASTIAN: Yo where’s that console you promised, loser

              JADE: you didn’t say anything about it at the beach!!

              JADE: i assumed the pure power of ~FRIENDSHIP~ brought you there


              SEBASTIAN: Well, I mean. It did

              SEBASTIAN: However, I am not one to reject such generous offers

              JADE: offer’s over, chump!

              SEBASTIAN: So harsh

              SEBASTIAN: Who made you so mean??

              JADE: you~

              SEBASTIAN: Oh

              SEBASTIAN: Yeah, that sounds about right.

              JADE: you can come play though

              JADE: you need to meet my bunnies!


              SEBASTIAN: Oh yeah. What are their names?

              JADE: butterscotch and plague

              JADE: you’ll love plague


              SEBASTIAN: I bet she’s an asshole

              JADE: that’s why you’ll love her!

              JADE: so come visit for bunnies and games


              SEBASTIAN: Sure thing

              JADE: honestly you don’t even have to announce when to come over.you can come by whenever. i’m usually home after the sun sets

              JADE: just be sure to knock and let me know you’re not a burglar


              SEBASTIAN: Ah, Jade.

              SEBASTIAN: Jade, Jade, Jade. So naive. So innocent.

              SEBASTIAN: There is so much you do not know about me.

              SEBASTIAN: I have burgled the entire countryside. No one is safe.

              SEBASTIAN: Not even... bunny ranchers

              JADE: excuse me did you just type the word ‘burgled’



              And so on and so forth. She giggled throughout the conversation, reliving the various jokes, banter, and occasional discussion. With their talk, she hoped Sebastian would take her up on her offer and visit whenever he wanted. Jade realized that she went all around town, but there were very few times anyone ever went to her farm willingly. Looking around her house, it really was lonely. It was just asking to be occupied by friends and good memories. She wanted her house to be a place for everyone to spend time together, much like the previous day’s little beach party. Maybe Maru and Penny could come, too. Penny was always wonderful company, and Jade wanted nothing more than to mend the ongoing feud between Sebastian and his half-sister. The young farmer daydreamed at her computer desk, imagining all the potential scenarios.

              Finally, she got up to go eat a quick breakfast and start up her farm duties. A good portion of her morning was spent watering plants, harvesting a lot of corn and tomatoes, and feeding her rabbits. Reminiscing about the fun she had yesterday reminded her of what Jodi stated... Alex’s birthday passed already. While she sat and rubbed baby Butterscotch’s stomach, she frowned.

              To hear that Alex never celebrated his birthday, or at least never had the chance to, was so heartbreaking for farmer Jade. She missed the occurrence nearly a week ago, but no one told her-- not even Alex, and she was pretty sure she had seen him a few times before the actual day. Though she had no idea what to give as a gift, she still wanted to bring him some acknowledgement. She had to spend her birthday without anyone as well, since she was on the road. While she did enjoy spending time by herself, feeling lonely has always been an entirely different matter. Maybe his birthday passed, but hopefully she could make things right.

              Jade opened the barn gates for the rabbits to roam freely in the field, then stared around as she thought of what to do. Evelyn brought her cookies before and she seemed to be a fan of home-cooked meals... Jade didn’t really have the time to cook anything, but she did harvest all those crops earlier... Hm. The young farmer ventured over to her shipping bin to examine all her pulls for the day. She normally had everything separated and in bunches so the collecting could be done in an easy manner. Maybe Alex wouldn’t mind having some corn? It was more of a family present than one just for him, but... hey, a gift is a gift. Jade took an ear of corn and closed the shipping bin. She supposed it was better than nothing, and hey... maybe he would appreciate it.

              After all of her farming duties concluded, Jade packed her usual tools along with her gift of corn and left for the beach first. Alex was always out practicing gridball at the time, and she hadn’t played with him in a little while anyway. It was a good idea to visit.

              ---

              Jade surveyed the whole area after she made it to the beach. Ugh, the sunlight was still as harsh as ever. She mumbled a prayer to Yoba under her breath to send some rain her way. At least Haley wasn’t there... she wanted only good vibes, and she had a feeling that Haley wasn’t the biggest fan of hers. Alex was there as he often was, however- playing catch by himself with a gridball, as was his daily routine.

              “Alex!” Jade shouted, distracting him for just a moment.

              “Hey, farm girl,” Alex called back. He suddenly looked nervous. “What’re you up to, huh? And what’s with the getup?”

              Jade waved in excited greeting and quickly trot up to him for an official hello. “Hey, Alex!” She dropped her sight to examine her clothes. “Haha, figured I’d look like a real farmer today. I got sunburnt pretty badly yesterday. But!!” She slung her backpack off of her shoulders and took out the ear of corn. “For you!” she offered. “Well, you and your family. I thought you could make a good meal out of it, especially since you like eating healthy.”

              “Aww, what’s the occasion?” Alex asked almost shyly. He caught his gridball and lightly tossed it aside to focus on Jade.

              “The occasion?” Jade snorted through her nostrils. “I missed your birthday last week! Take this as a placeholder, until I get a real present. Though, I did grow this all by myself, so it has that going for it. Nice, huh?”

              Alex’s cheeks flushed and kindly accepted the gift. “I, uh, didn’t know anyone else knew about my birthday.” He sighed, but with a smile. “Thanks, I’m impressed.” His smile soon faded, and Jade felt like he was more depressed than impressed. “Um... I should talk to you about something. Follow me,” Alex muttered. The athlete’s face was sweaty, but it didn’t seem to be from working out. He was... anxious.

              Jade tried to ignore the behavior for the time being and followed Alex; he walked up to the docks past Willy’s shop and sat down at the edge. Jade plopped beside him and glanced at him before staring out at the ocean horizon. It was just as beautiful as it was the previous day and Jade enjoyed the sounds and smells of the ocean, but the silence between her and Alex was awkward and uncomfortable. She couldn’t tell what was wrong.

              “... Hey, farm girl.”

              “Hmm?” Jade looked to him.

              “You know I don’t really celebrate my birthday much, right?” he asked.

              She nodded. “I still wanted to say something. It made me really sad to know you don’t do much and I felt bad for not letting you know on the actual day, so I thought you would like it.”

              Alex sighed. “I do, but...” He put the ear of corn down beside him and stared to her with extreme concern. “Why me?”

              “Why you?” Jade tilted her head in thought. “Well, I thought we were good friends. We are, aren’t we?”

              He was silent for a moment, eyes locked onto the watery horizon. He eventually took a deep breath and fully turned to her. The silence was unbearable to her at this time, but she tried her best to be patient. Jade slowly turned her head towards him, frowning when she saw his expression. “... Are we not?” she asked again.

              The athlete thread his fingers through his hair and sighed. “In one way, we are,” he began. “Jade... This is pretty hard for me to say, but uh... you don’t... like me, do you?”

              “Like you?” the young farmer repeated, confused.

              “You know what I mean. Having feelings for me. Wanting to be my girlfriend.” He averted his eyes in shame, not wanting to face her as he came out with it.

              Jade stared to him in surprise for a little while, the concern on her visage increasing. “Um... Does it seem like I do?” she asked.

              “Sometimes, yeah.” He propped up one of his legs on the docks and leaned an elbow on his knee. “You’re sometimes too nice to me, and I get really concerned, because when I call you cute and flirt or whatever, it’s all... you know.... just air, I’m just giving compliments. I mean... you really are cute, but I don’t...”

              Jade was quiet for a moment, but then she let out a soft chuckle. “Alex, stop. It’s okay.” She sighed in relief and then chuckled some more. “I’m sorry that I came across like that. I don’t have feelings for you, I promise.”

              He sighed in relief as well. “That’s good... Because, I do like you, but just as a friend. I don’t have many of those, which is crazy, right? Me, no friends? Pfft.” Alex was trying to lighten up the situation, but Jade felt like he was being a little serious in his statements. It caused her to giggle again. “I mean to say is, it’s nice that you talk to me. You’re weird, but in an entertaining way. I just... don’t want it to be more than that,” he sighed.

              “Don’t worry, I feel the same about you. Well, maybe not as a friend,” Jade began. She propped up both of her legs and hugged them, staring back out to sea. “Admittedly, I was a little too excited to befriend you. But that’s because you... you’re like a brother to me, in a really weird way. And I really liked the idea of having that kind of friendship.” The farmer leaned her head onto her knees, eyes focused on a twisting wave in the distance. “It doesn’t help that you look a lot like my real brother. He’s not a very good person, though... So I wanted to convince myself that you were nothing like him by getting to learn more about you.” She chuckled to herself. “I see how that could come across, now... I’m sorry I made you so uncomfortable.”

              “... So, am I?”

              “Huh?”

              “Am I like your brother?”

              Jade’s expression lightened from the question. She glanced to Alex and shrugged. “Well... you’re like a brother I never had, that’s for sure. There are a lot of things about you that make me wish you were my sibling.”

              Both of them went silent. Alex stared at the young farmer for a while, but then he decided to join in watching the ocean waves. He appeared to be in better moods, though he was still worried about Jade. For the moment, he didn’t really know how to respond, so he took to listening to the faraway seagulls and rolling water.

              Jade forced herself to examine the athlete beside her again, but defaulted back to the sea. She sighed. “I was too harsh on you at first. I put you in the same category as my real brother, since both of you are big, athletic, charismatic, all of that. But, one big difference is that you’re a good person. You’re really sweet... And I just felt so bad for how we first met. Swinging at my brother was... sort of a reflex. I don’t think you deserved the same.”

              “I got it,” Alex swiftly replied so she would not have to continue. “I’m sorry you had a crappy brother... I had a pretty crappy dad.” He frowned. “And my mom... she...” He shook his head, taking a deep breath to prevent himself from going any further. “I... I get it, is what I mean. Truth be told, I like you for a lot of the same reasons. I’ve never had a sister, but... I dunno, you’d make a pretty good one.” He hesitantly reached his arm out and pat her back. “No one has really took the time to just... talk to me, I guess. You’re a good talker and listener, y’know?”

              Jade chuckled. “Yeah, I’ve heard that before.”

              “And then there’s no other fun girls in town. You’re pretty fun.”

              “Aww, Abby can be fun. She likes games and stuff like I do!” Jade beamed.

              Alex smirked, but shook his head. “I mean my kind of fun. You were definitely a surprise in this town, Jade. But, y’know what?” He grinned and lightly nudged her shoulder. “I love it. I’m glad you’re here.”

              The young farmer’s face brightened. “Really?” She grinned and playfully nudged back. “I’m glad I’m here, too. And I’m glad you’re here with me.” She fidgeted a little bit, glancing out to the sea and then back to the athlete. “Platonic sibling hugs?” she asked, opening her arms.

              “Aw, c’mere,” he went, grabbing her around the torso with one arm and tugging her up to him. She squealed from being dragged and then giggled, hugging his arms when he toted her up close to his side. Jade was very content being in Alex’s hold. For a moment, she really did feel like a little sister.

              They enjoyed watching the ocean horizon together. “So... how’s your late birthday so far?” Jade casually asked. “Good?”

              Alex stared down to the farmer, breaking out into a chuckle. “Yoba, you are totally a sister. Gotta know everything.” He took one of his hands to ruffle her hair, causing her to laugh back and wrestle with his arms. “Yeah, it’s been great. Apparently I got a little sis now?”

              “Yeah, I’m the best gift. I know.” Jade relaxed again and leaned her head against his chest. “You should treasure me, since I’m one of a kind.”

              “Oh boy. Looks like I got the annoying kind,” Alex deadpanned. Jade glared up at him, but then they both laughed among themselves. The two settled again, then Alex scoffed in thought. “Well, you do an awful lot of talking about everything under the sun, but you don’t talk about yourself much. So... out with it. Hobbies, ambitions? Is there anyone in town you like?”

              “Yoba, not you, too! Everyone’s been pelting that question on me lately!” Jade instantly flushed and nervously chuckled. “What kind of question is that, anyway?! Do I like somebody... I haven’t been here very long!” she replied.

              “Doesn’t matter. The whole town has seen who you hang out with. So, tell me!”

              “Aw, come on,” Jade retorted, face solid red. “That’s not something I really think about.”

              Alex let go of her and scoot away to get a better look at her. “You’re in so much denial,” he accused, grinning. “You’ve taken a shine to someone already, haven’t you?” He waited a second, though he knew what would happen. Jade crossed her arms and refused to answer... Alex knew he hit a soft spot. “Hmm.... Easy one first, is it the purple hair girl?”

              “No, I don’t like girls! And her name is Abby.”

              “But you’re so buddy-buddy with her. What’s wrong with a cute girl, huh?” Alex winked.

              Jade huffed and playfully shoved him. “Nothing’s wrong with a cute girl, but I like cute boys!”

              “Cute boys,” Alex repeated, thinking. “Well, we’ve already established it’s not me. Plus, I’m not cute. I’m sexy.”

              “Give me a break,” groaned Jade.

              His eyes widened. “You couldn’t like someone in that couple you hang out with, right?”

              Jade blinked. “Couple? Define couple.”

              The athlete cleared his throat and stared to Jade with utmost seriousness. “You know... Sam and.... the other guy.”

              “Wait. Are you talking like... romantic couple?” Jade watched his face for a moment to see his shock. She then broke out into a cackle when she came to the realization. He was! “Holy YOBA that has got to be the best thing I’ve heard!! They really do look like that, though!” She started to laugh so hard that she was tearing up.

              “They do!” Alex flushed up in embarrassment and crossed his arms in irritation. “So they’re not?!”

              “No, no, they’re not.” Jade calmed down and chuckled. “I think it’s an honest mistake, though. They would be cute, wouldn’t they?” she snorted. “But they’re more like brothers. Sam just likes to tease and joke and Seb pretends to ignore it,” the young farmer explained. She wiped her eyes and let out a cheerful sigh. “Also, the ‘other guy’ is Sebastian. You’ve been living here longer than I have... learn their names!”

              Alex shrugged in dismissal. “They’re part of a crowd I don’t think I’d get along with. Mostly, anyway. Good for you, though.” He smiled in an attempt to be supportive. Jade really did appreciate how hard he tried to not offend, even if he did make a few slips here and there. “So... either of them, then? They cute to you?”

              “Wait, who do you like? Do you like anyone?” Jade glared at him with her face still red. She figured fighting fire with fire would bring about the best.

              “Me? Like?” Alex scoffed. Jade noticed sweat forming at his forehead. “No...” he mumbled. Jade peered at him, unimpressed, causing the athlete to nervously laugh. “Okay, truce. No more prods.”

              “Thought so,” Jade giggled, relaxing once more.

              “Man, you’re gonna be a pain in my ass, aren’t you?” The athlete pat her on the head.

              “Yep!”

              ---

              Jade came back to her farm with a backpack full of foraged fruits, flowers, and ferns, since she forgot to take her basket along. It was a good time killer, and she didn’t want to bother all of her friends after seeing them the entire last day. Regardless, she felt great after her talk and mini hang out session with Alex, but also a little embarrassed. She could hardly believe she gave him the wrong impression, but it made sense with how excited she was to befriend him anyway... or really anyone, for that matter. “You really gotta take it down a notch,” she mumbled to herself as she dumped all the foraged items in her trusty shipping bin.

              Walking away, the young farmer came to a horrific realization. “... What did other people in town see?” she sadly asked herself. Jade traveled over to her rabbits’ coop and shut the gates for the night. She peeked in the door and wished them a soft goodnight before closing it and officially heading for her home.

              That was a good question, though... what did other people in town see? Did they see her desperation with Alex, her excitement in being with others? Did people assume she was in a relationship with someone? Was there a reason more than one person asked her about her relationship life? Jade fell in love with the beauty and wonders of Stardew Valley, but she wished people would keep their mouths shut and not be so... so nosey! At least in the city, no one cared about her. In small towns, people cared about her a little too much. Jade couldn’t say anything however, since she was nosier than she could ever possibly admit.

              After showering and dressing into the coziest, fluffiest pajamas, Jade trudged over to her kitchen to make a half-hearted meal. Her mind was heavy with thoughts about herself, the town, her future. She didn’t feel like cooking anything serious, so she began heating up raviolis from a can on her stove. Onyx, always curious of anything food related, kept the young farmer company and rubbed her legs as she loomed over the stove.

              “Onyx, I need a real talk. Will you real talk me?” Jade asked, shuffling the raviolis around in a pan. She sighed and plopped onto the kitchen floor while waiting for her food to heat up fully. Her black beast of a cat wandered over and went into her lap for more love and attention.

              “Come on, Onyx. I know you got the knowledge.” She smiled and pet him as he pushed his head into her hand. “Today was a busy day, you know. What about you? Did you destroy any possible burglars wanting to burgle?”

              Onyx meowed, followed by a yawn. He shook his fur and began to knead his paws on one of Jade’s legs.

              “That’s a good boy,” Jade chuckled. “Man... you know, maybe their questions weren’t so bad after all. DO I like anybody?”

              Her feline friend settled in her lap and gave her sleepy eyes of contentment.

              “Aww, don’t look at me like that...” Jade pet Onyx again, which caused his eyes to completely close. He laid his head down and settled for a temporary rest. “I’m going to get up in a minute, you know... but you do have a point.” Damn that cat, having all the supreme knowledge he does. “Maybe I do.”




              Another chill chapter, but with serious convo! We find out why Alex has been acting a little weird and they finally get to make up and become better friends, as was Jade's intention. Luckily, Haley did not have to intervene.

              We've had a lot of friendship building chapters and very dialogue heavy chapters (which is most of this story, but I digress) so it's about time for more exploration chapters. Time to learn more about the valley, and indirectly the history of some of the townspeople. Jade's gonna go on a solo mission.


              little bonus edit: i changed the OP to just have links to the chapters rather than the entire chapters themselves... my browser couldn't handle all those words in one post (chapter 23 makes this whole fic 97k in words!) so there will be direct links from now on. carry on~
               
                Last edited: Jul 28, 2016
                Iranna, Gabaw, Risukage and 1 other person like this.
              • Risukage

                Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                I like your Alex, that's the way he should be: a cuddly-sweetie older-brother. :)
                 
                  MagicallyClueless and Gabaw like this.
                • MagicallyClueless

                  MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer

                  haha thanks!
                  interest wise, they don't really have much in common. but they both enjoy each other's company which is what matters : D
                   
                  • Gabaw

                    Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

                    I agree with @Risukage your Alex is an alright dude. That was also a good scene with him and Jade. Cleared things up, put things on the table. also corn :rofl: I got a feeling Jade's not out of the woods yet tho!
                     
                      MagicallyClueless likes this.
                    • MagicallyClueless

                      MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer


                      Summer felt like it was droning on for forever, so it was a relief to know that the last week arrived to Pelican Town. As the days led up to the last week, Jade got really serious with improving her skill set. If she wasn’t out running errands or doing her farm work, she was leveling her skill in every field she knew was lacking. Mornings were spent with sword fighting practice against her makeshift training dummy, afternoons were used for exploration and foraging, and evenings were all about fishing and getting those perfect, expensive catches. Linus, the kind wild man, noticed her consistent effort and gave her more pointers on how to fish well. Because of his help, Jade shared some of her catches with him. He was humbled by her offers, and gave her a nifty recipe that would put her extra catches to good use: sashimi. She hated fish, but she kept it in mind due to his kindness.

                      Lightbulbs went off in Jade’s head when she learned that sashimi was one of Sebastian’s absolute favorite dishes. She spent some more time with Robin and helped run a couple of errands for her, so the sashimi love was one of the wonderful secrets spilled. She needed to thank Linus later for the recipe, for sure.

                      Speaking of Sebastian, he actually did come over to visit her farm. The fact was surprising since he ended up seeing her three days in a row: saloon night with the squad on Friday, game night with her and Sam on Saturday, and willingly visiting her house on Sunday evening. Since her home was on the other side of the map, he arrived by motorcycle to get to her farmland. Jade was shocked to see him out there without anyone else, but she was ecstatic to have his company.

                      Sebastian was able to meet Jade’s two rabbits and reacquaint himself with Onyx. As expected, Plague was his favorite and as horrible as he thought she would be. She immediately bit him on the ankles as he entered and tried to climb up his leg, but luckily Jade was there to pick her up and calm her down. He found the ordeal entertaining, even if Plague did have a nasty pair of teeth.

                      Alex also took to visiting Jade. He had a route for his morning jog and changed his route to the forest, where she lived. Jade would usually be watering or harvesting her crops when he would come by early in the morning, so he would always be the first face she saw in the day. They both enjoyed interaction with each other and didn’t mind for such an occurrence to be routine. If Jade successfully completed her farming duties early, they would both take a break on her front porch and chat about anything on their minds. It was nice to have someone else in the house, and Alex really wasn’t as bad as she thought he would be. He was always cheerful and liked to listen, even if their interests often clashed.

                      And so came Monday, the true beginning of the end (of Summer). The young farmer had finished getting ready for a new day when she heard the boom of faraway thunder. She walked out onto her front porch to see such a beautiful, beautiful sight: rain! Calling it rain was actually an understatement, since the raindrops were huge and pelted down with extreme force. If she didn’t live at an impressive elevation, the whole farm could have been flooded! Jade nearly teared up at the sight of her foggy, rain-soaked farm. She knew what she wanted to do today.

                      Jade was so happy to be equipped in her bright blue rain boots and raincoat again. She wandered out into her farmland, backpack over her shoulders and an multicolor patterned umbrella suspended over her head. Alex probably wouldn’t show since she doubted he would want to jog in the rain, but it was all right if they didn’t see each other every day. Her farm work was cut in half thanks to the rain, so she only took to taking care of her little bunnies. She kept them in their home while Onyx took refuge in her house, but Jade wouldn't be going inside anywhere on this day. There was one thing and one thing only that she needed as it was pouring outside, and that was exploration.

                      She eyed the side of the fence that has tortured her with slimes and unneeded shenanigans so much before. "I'll find those ruins again if it's the last thing I do!" Jade yelled to herself, bursting with confidence. The excited farmer had spent so much time honing all her skills that she felt like she was more prepared. Proper sword fighting or not, she had used her sword enough that she could actually defend herself and others well enough. She packed for everything she would possibly need for her short journey, including a compass to get a better grasp of where the ruins actually were. When everything was said and done, Jade eagerly hopped over her farm's fence and set out to explore the forest.

                      --

                      Mud squished under the young farmer's feet with each step and spears of precipitation collided against her umbrella, causing her to travel slow and carefully. Despite how she stuck out like a sore thumb on the forest floor, no animal or unidentified creature appeared at all. There weren't any slimes that came to attack her, but Jade felt like that was more the rain's doing. They must have not been very fond of rainfall, though their composition didn't seem to help. Either way, it was good for the exploring farmer, if not slightly disappointing. She was beaming with energy for fighting, and this was the one time nothing challenged her. Ah, circumstances.

                      For this exploration trip, Jade toted along her axe, pickaxe, and sword. In her right hand, she held her compass, and in her left, she had her axe firmly grasped. She would chuck the axe's blade into the bark of every other tree she passed in order to mark her path, which so far was going successfully. Nothing looked familiar, but she didn't really have the time to examine her surroundings the very first time she ran.

                      What an eye-opening experience this was. Jade would examine nature from afar, but she hadn't taken the time to actually take in the environment as she traveled. Grass, weeds, and flora glowed a beautiful green in the heavy rain, unaltered by muddy patches of dirt that Jade stepped through. Trees of the valley were very tall, but could have been much taller; most of the ones she passed were decades old, while they would have been practically endless in height if they were over a century. As strange as it was, the forest was rather young and only recently flourished with so much vegetation. The barks of trees were vivid browns and their various types of leaves were vibrant greens. Even though Jade herself wasn't approached by fauna, she could hear birds calling to each other up in the treetops and noticed the occasional rustle of a bush.

                      Squishing sounds of mud became the thunk of solid rock. Jade suddenly stopped when she noticed that she had walked onto a stone path, much like what was in Pelican Town. Her eyes brightened significantly upon seeing the path and what the path led to. Finally, she discovered the abandoned neighborhood yet again! And this time there was no magical man to scold her otherwise. She marked the tree right before the stone walkway and then continued onward.

                      The young farmer's memory was flooding back to her as she entered the neighborhood. Every building was just as it was before, just accompanied by the mist from rainfall and the deeper coloring that water made onto the buildings. Lightning struck far away again, followed by an unseen tree collapsing onto the forest floor. "Whew... I should be careful. If a tree can fall down, these buildings certainly can," she reminded herself.

                      Razmodius, the valley's resident Wizard, had told Jade of what happened to scare many potential villagers away. A chill shot down her spine as she recalled the mysterious monster skull in a collapsed mine entrance. Something similar to a war must have happened to make an entire section of town to be so... empty. An attack of a catastrophic scale. The young farmer ventured down the lonely road, glancing at half-destroyed buildings that ranged from mom-and-pop stores to official buildings. One of them was a post office, and another one seemed to be a local sheriff's office and jail. With how tiny the town was- not even 40 people- maybe everything was fine without any cops or a post office, but...

                      Still, the abandoned homes were heartbreaking. Jade wondered how many families used to be in Pelican Town and how many of them proudly took root before... this... happened. For some reason, she started to think of Lewis and his role in Pelican Town. Did he become mayor before Pelican Town shrunk, or was he a result of someone advocating for change? He was certainly old enough to at least retell his experiences, but she would have to get him back on her good side. At least the town still existed, and for good reason. There was a certain beauty about the forest in the region, especially in the rain.

                      The young farmer ventured out of the main street and went onto a road with dilapidated homes. Some houses were in better shape than others, however all of them showed some sort of wear. She peered through every other window she passed, just to see if there was anything interesting. Empty house after empty house, only abandoned furniture and crawling vines occupying the spaces and rooms. Seems like most people left before anything bad happened.

                      Jade noticed one empty house that seemed to be in good enough standing; it was rather tiny, but its woodwork was done so well that it was in a much better condition than most of the others. The framing was made of oak and it had a nicely shuttered roof, though age and vegetation misplaced some of the roof plates. She could see a bedroom window on one side of the house, fencing to a backyard at its end. On the side that faced the street, two dusty glass windows sandwiched a red door with chipping paint. Overall, it was a cute house that somehow stood the test of time. Its appearance compared to the rest of the neighborhood really intrigued Jade, so she walked over and tried the doorknob to see if it was locked.

                      "Sweet!" Jade beamed. She successfully opened the door without any means of force. Closing her umbrella, she ventured inside to take a closer look. Pleasantly enough, the inside felt much larger than the outside did. She was greeted with an unsurprisingly empty living room that contained a dusty sofa and and an inactive fireplace. The wooden floors, although dusty, held up fairly well. The framing of the house and the type of furniture felt familiar, if not nostalgic, to Jade. She hadn’t been here before, but the home reminded her of someone.

                      The young farmer walked past the living room, caught a glimpse of a kitchen and a cramped bathroom, and entered a smaller room at the other end of the house. It appeared to be suited for a child, considering the faded blue of the walls and a bed more suited for a toddler. A family home, then. Jade was slightly disappointed that every room was mostly void of anything interesting, but the house itself was still fun to venture through. She peeked out of the window that the child’s room had for a view of the neighborhood.

                      Trees and plants growing in and around other homes drooped from the heavy precipitation. Mist clouded the stone pathways, water dribbled off of rooftops and the low growl of thunder maintained an ominous presence in the area. Lightning struck in the distance, creating a threatening boom of thunder close by. Jade was trying to figure out why she enjoyed the rain so much… maybe the sound, and how everything changed when it rained. Rainfall always sounded relaxing, and the rush of cool air felt wonderful. Rain made the whole valley feel less lonesome.

                      Jade noticed some abnormal movement in the corner of her eye as she was staring out the window. Dark shadows slowly rose out of the misty ground and shuffled down the stone path. One shadow led two shadows, which led three shadows behind that. All of them were around the same size, translucent, beady eyes and mouths with pointed teeth completely see-through. They didn’t really have proper heads, torsos, or even arms; each shadow was a dark, pointed blob with legs shrouded by precipitation. Jade watched with both horror and wonder. She’s never seen them before, but they gave off a certain… feeling. She felt like she was being watched again. They didn’t seem to notice her in the house, so she was safe… as much as she would have loved to show off her fighting skills, there were too many of them, and she didn’t know if they were even enemies to begin with.

                      One of the shadows made an otherworldly grunt before it stopped following the others. It started to turn towards the house Jade was in, causing her to suddenly drop out of the window’s view. She clapped her hand onto her mouth to keep quiet and listened closely outside for anything. She heard the shadow make another grunt and stayed down until she heard the noises from further away. The young farmer lifted her head to see outside when she could no longer hear them.

                      “Whew… they’re gone,” muttered Jade, overcome with relief. She scanned the surroundings of the house just to make sure they were really gone. A thankful sigh escaped her mouth. Those shadow-like creatures didn’t notice her, and if they did, at least they didn’t care. Jade didn’t really want to stick around to see if they were passive or not- she was ready to fight a group of slimes, not a group of dark monsters. As soon as Jade’s guard was let down, she felt a hand firmly grasp her shoulder. With a gasp, she turned around and instinctively swung her fist.

                      No one was there.

                      “It’s… it’s time for me to go home,” Jade stressed to herself.

                      --

                      Sebastian stood before Jade’s house, bright red and white umbrella open in one hand and a dark messenger bag tightly held in the other. It was the middle of the afternoon, but she didn’t appear in town, nor did she stop by the carpenter shop to say hello. He assumed she decided to take a day off, which he completely understood… but despite seeing her consistently over the past week, he still found himself outside and ready to see her again. Most of the time he would grow tired of seeing people, though he has felt much more energetic as of late. Must be the rain.

                      He stepped up to her front porch and closed his umbrella before heading to the front door. He politely knocked. “Game delivery! Open up,” Sebastian shouted loud enough to beat the rain in volume. There was no response. Hm. Sebastian made another series of knocks, then looked in through the nearest window to see if she was around. The lights were on, but no one was replying

                      “Meeooowww!” yowled a cat from the inside. Sebastian had a view of part of the living room, the dining room, and an open kitchen, with Onyx hopping up onto the kitchen counters. Sebastian spread a large smile, then checked his surroundings again. He could probably just do the game exchange without her. Not a big deal.

                      Sebastian opened the door and entered Jade’s home, Onyx meowing upon catching the human in his sights. “Hey, little buddy,” calmly murmured the raven-hair. Onyx jumped off of the counters and trot over to Sebastian in greeting, fluffy tail high in the air. The young adult kneeled down to properly pet the already spoiled feline. “Have you seen your mama around, kitty?” His smile widened when he started to hear the cat’s obnoxiously loud purring. “Yeah, it’s nice to see you, too.”

                      The home was awfully quiet, so maybe she really wasn’t here. Sebastian simply shrugged to himself and stood back up, then venturing upstairs. He made his way to Jade’s beloved gaming and computer room and glanced around. Surprisingly enough, the whole room was pretty clean. She liked to complain about how messy her home gets, so either she just cleaned or she was exaggerating. He stared over to her computer (which was still on) for an uncomfortably long amount of time. He ultimately decided not to go over to the other side of the room. Jade was one of the few people to completely respect his privacy, so he would just do what he arrived to do. The raven-hair approached her shelf full of video games and kneeled once more to examine the collection.

                      Eventually, he took out some games from his messenger bag and began to put them back in their alphebetical place. After some more staring, he took a couple different games, then stored them in his messenger bag before standing up. To finish the exchange, he placed some games that he owned on top of the shelf. Done. Sebastian quickly exit the room, since he felt a pang of guilt from being in the room alone.

                      Sebastian began his journey downstairs when he heard the front door swing open. His heart skipped a beat, unclear if it was due to fear or due to excitement.

                      There was a shout. “Yo!”

                      That… wasn’t Jade.

                      Alex entered the house with a tied grocery bag in hand. A clear plastic poncho draped over his head and shoulders to ensure he wouldn’t be a victim of the rain. “Farm girl! Couldn’t jog because of the rain, but I brought some goods,” the athlete called again. He walked in some more and shut the door, giving a friendly pet to Onyx, who just as happily greeted him. “Hey, where ya at-”

                      Both of them froze when their eyes met. Sebastian was stopped right in the middle of the staircase, surprisingly glaring at Alex. The athlete stared back with equal shock, completely wordless for once. Suddenly, both of them developed the gall to speak:

                      “What are you doing here?” they both asked in unison, judgment clouding their voices. After their question, they both jerked back, appalled.

                      Alex gasped, offended. “What do you mean what am I doing here? I see Jade every day now! The hell are you doing in her house?!”

                      I see Jade every day, and I don’t have to explain myself to the likes of you,” Sebastian growled. He fully walked downstairs and stood his ground against Alex. The athlete, always ready for a challenge, stepped up to Sebastian. He dwarfed the raven-haired man in both height and width, but there was an enraged flame within Sebastian’s eyes that put the two on even ground.

                      The glare was too much. Alex eventually averted his eyes and relaxed his stance, though he still seemed perturbed by Sebastian’s presence. Jade did talk about Sebastian an awful lot, so it wasn’t like he was a stranger… then again, he was presumably in her house without her say. Something just didn’t sit right. “You a friend of Jade’s, then?” the large one asked, hopeful for an answer.

                      The smaller of the two crossed his arms and softened his glare, though he still seemed on edge. “Possibly.”

                      “You’re uh…. Sib something, right?”

                      “Sebastian,” he coldly replied.

                      “Got it…” Alex began to nervously sweat. Sebastian was a little too intense, and didn’t want to get friendly. “I’m, uh… Alex.”

                      “I know,” Sebastian answered.

                      Truly a man of many words. Alex sighed, not really wanting to produce any smalltalk. “Hey, I’m just going to wait for Jade to come back, so…” The athlete awkwardly left their stand-off to put his poncho and the grocery bag on the dining table. Sebastian continued to stand there and watch Alex, who then sat on the living room couch and turned on the nearby television. “You can… you know. Leave.” He waved him off. “Seeya.”

                      Sebastian didn’t reply, and instead sat down at the opposite end of the couch. He leaned against the arm of the furniture to have a better sight of Alex and crossed one of his legs, signaling his refusal to move. The raven-haired man narrowed his eyes to the hulking athlete before him.

                      “What?” Alex asked with a scoff. “Need glasses, squinty?”

                      “You think you’re hot shit, don’t you?” Sebastian replied with a smooth, calculated voice. His eyes contained that same intimidating flame, but his demeanor was calm and collected. It was as if he was playing a strategy game.

                      Alex suddenly glared back, anger clearly stricken across his visage. He took a second to revert back to a neutral expression before slyly replying back: “I’m surprised you can speak at all. I was starting to think you were echolocating with all your cave-dwelling friends.”

                      “Echolocation uses sound, dumbass.”

                      “You didn’t deny having cave-dwelling friends,” Alex proudly snorted.

                      You didn’t deny being a dumbass,” Sebastian snapped back with effortless timing.

                      Both of their calm expressions disappeared into scowls as they glared at each other. They were quiet for a moment, before Alex then decided to speak again: “How the hell are you friends with Jade? I’m starting to think you’re some crazy intruder, with that bag of yours.”

                      “My relation to Jade is none of your damn business,” Sebastian answered with irritation in his voice, “and I’ve been with her far longer than you have.”

                      Alex rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah? I doubt you know anything about her.”

                      “Try me,” the raven-hair growled.

                      “Fine.” The athlete took a second to think, then narrowed his eyes to Sebastian. “When’s her birthday?”

                      Sebastian stared at him like he was stupid. “Spring 19,” he deadpanned.

                      “Fair, fair…” Alex huffed as he tried to recall another question. “Okay, what’s her favorite food?”

                      “Anything with ungodly amounts of sugar- wait, no.” He straightened his posture to face Alex with more intimidation. “You’re trying to learn more about her. Fuck off,” hissed Sebastian.

                      “Learn more about her? I know these answers!” yelled Alex. “You’re just scared you’ll get something wrong. Back off or else,” he angrily threatened.

                      Sebastian impatiently bounced his knee. “What even is Jade to you?” he demanded in question. He didn’t really know Alex very much, but something about him just made Sebastian feel so… so angry. Not only did he feel angry, but there was the aftertaste of fear and what seemed to be betrayal. Who the hell was this guy, and why is he the one questioning Sebastian? Sebastian had been with Jade from the very beginning, even if he didn’t want to be at first. Alex had no right to even pretend he was on the same level, let alone anything more than that! Jade mentioned Alex a few times, but it was nothing so… close. He assumed it was just Jade being herself and being friendly and sweet to everyone. She did make up with Alex at the end of Spring, after all…

                      No. Jade would have told Sebastian if she had any legitimate interest in Alex. Him being at her house was merely a coincidence, a circumstance that could be easily misunderstood. Sebastian was easily the better friend. The better person. He had to be... right?

                      “Why do you care, huh?” Alex asked in return. “I doubt you’re anything special.”

                      “From your lack of a real answer, sounds like you’re really not, either.” Sebastian regained the appearance of his calm and collected self, but in reality, he was terrified. He didn’t know for sure what Alex was to Jade and that uncertainty was so disconcerting.

                      Alex hummed for a second. “Okay, you know what? Fine. I’ll be the bigger person.” He glared to Sebastian, his courage returning. “She’s like a little sister to me.”

                      Sister? That… was an unexpected yet welcoming answer, if he was actually serious. Sebastian audibly sighed in relief, which then piqued Alex’s interest.

                      “What? You scared I was dating her?”

                      Sebastian instantly brought his guard up and continued the cold stares. “I know she would never date a brute,” he scoffed.

                      “You think an emo toothpick is any better?” laughed Alex.

                      Sebastian instantly stood up from the couch and clenched his fists. This time, the rage was not limited to only his eyes. His entire body eminated rage and hatred towards the athlete sitting before him. While Alex was fairly intimidated, he instinctively stood up and faced him to stand his ground.

                      The door swung open. Both of them jerked their heads to the side, all composure instantly lost.

                      “Haha! I didn’t expect company today, uh… hey guys,” Jade cheerfully remarked. “Why’re you both hangin’ out at my place?”

                      Sebastian and Alex passed each other more threatening glares before they both approached the young farmer. “Heyy, farm girl!” Alex boomed with joy, hopping over the back of the couch to have more of a headstart towards her. Without hesitation, he picked her up and bear-hugged her, the young farmer making a short squeal in response.

                      “Hey Alex, nice to see you too. Now let me down!” she laughed in embarassment. Alex gently set her down, causing her to give him a friendly shove. Jade rushed over to Sebastian, nearly opening her arms to embrace him as well, before remembering his boundaries and slowing to a wave. “H-hey, Seb! I didn’t expect to see you today, but the rain does all sorts of wonderful things, huh?”

                      “Uh huh.” Sebastian noticed the hesitation with her arms. He felt a burst of enough bravery to take her arms and bring her into a hug. He closely embraced her, eyes piercing into Alex’s very being as he did so. Jade was the one to tense in his hold, but she quickly relaxed when she took it as a rare occurrence. She had been accustomed to the cold rain all day, but he was soft and warm. He didn’t really smell like smoke that day, which relaxed her even more. Gently, he let Jade go. There was a loving smile on Sebastian’s face, the intimidating glare gone in an instant. “Hey,” he softly greeted her.

                      Jade’s cheeks flushed a solid red, shocked by Sebastian’s move. She covered her cheeks with her hands to try to hide her blushing and nervously laughed in response. “I… heh, wow, you… you two must have gotten pretty friendly, huh? I’m glad. I don’t think I’ve ever… um… seen you two… talk?”

                      “We haven’t,” Alex corrected. “We were just waitin’ for you.”

                      Jade blinked. “… Sorry, what did you say? I wasn’t listening, sorry.” She coughed, still completely flustered.

                      Alex narrowed his eyes to the now extremely smug Sebastian, then softly smiled at the lovely farm girl. “It’s all good. We were just waiting for you. Brought you some goods from Granny. She made some extra cookies and wanted you to have some.”

                      “Aw, tell her thanks for me!” Jade beamed. She removed her hands from her face, deciding to just pretend her cheeks weren’t actually so hot. “What about you, Seb? Here for anything?” she kindly asked.

                      He shrugged. “Just wanted to come by. Traded the games we discussed. I put them upstairs and took the ones you talked about, if you don’t mind.”

                      “Oh, not at all! Thanks for coming by.” She glanced over to Alex too, sweetly smiling. “Thanks to you both. I’m glad you two could get along.”

                      “Sure,” they both answered, then promptly glared at each other. Jade giggled in response. She didn’t notice their secret battle of wills, but she did feel some tension going on. Them being in the same room made her feel uneasy, even if she did cherish the both of them. Sebastian was too stubborn and Alex was too hotheaded. The combination probably wouldn’t cooperate all that well.

                      Sebastian felt confident enough after getting the better response from hugging Jade. He smiled at her and gave a kind wave. “I’m going to head off now before it gets too dark. Talk to you tonight?”

                      “For sure,” Jade happily nodded. “Have a safe trip home!”

                      The raven-haired man nodded and gave another passing pet to Onyx before leaving through the front door. After he was out of sight, his legs became noodles which caused him to collapse against the front porch’s frame. “I can’t believe I just did that,” he quietly breathed to himself, shocked by even his own ability to do something so bold and stupid (to him, at least). Alex really riled him up, especially with picking her up like that, and that scathing emo comment. He huffed and regained his composure, walking out into the rain after grabbing his umbrella. He forgot to open the umbrella on the way back to his home.

                      Alex pat Jade on the head and yawned, going over to the dining table for his poncho. “I should head out, too. See you later, okay shorty?”

                      “Aww, okay,” pouted Jade. “You be safe too now, y’hear?”

                      “Please. I’m the definition of safe!” Alex confidently waved and left right after. He didn’t exactly have everything figured out yet, but Sebastian’s protective responses and the way Jade reacted to his hug was… something, alright. He decided to go home and think some more.

                      Jade stood out on her porch and watched Alex leave- Sebastian was long gone at this point. “Man… the one time I get surprise visitors is the one time I decide to go adventuring,” grumbled the young farmer. Onyx trot out onto the porch after and meowed for attention, though Jade took it as an intellectual response. “I know, man. The nerve!”

                      She walked back inside. What a tiring day, and the whole situation between Sebastian and Alex was a little tiring too despite getting to see two of her favorite guys. Jade shuffled off towards her bathroom, deciding to shower after all that intense adventuring. Of course, her mind drifted back to what she came home to. Hopefully everything went well. Both of them were definitely going to be interrogated.



                      nerd vs jock who will win

                      well, i was a little scared that this would be a bit ooc, but that's mostly because i've handled interactions that already existed within the game (the squad, haley/alex, the group of moms, etc.) but not necessarily instances like this. one of alex's comments in-game is about how he has seen sebastian and knows literally nothing about him other than being "some goth guy". in this fic, however, jade being close to both seb and alex will cause them to interact occasionally. due to them knowing literally nothing about each other (and hardly aware their relation with Jade) causes a lot of misunderstanding and protectiveness. alex is more like a guard dog while sebastian wants to defend his place as The Favorite Boy. that leads to some bold moves and wacky shenanigans.

                      i also think that sebastian can get fairly rude when he feels he has been wronged in some way, which is why he snaps at alex so easily. tho to be fair, alex didn't exactly help since he assumes that his friendship with Jade is righteous and solid and didn't think to consider sebastian as the Cute Boy In Town, which caused him to be offhandedly rude as well. i wouldn't be surprised if they have had multiple unpleasant encounters with each other pre-jade, but hey, that's neither here nor there.

                      other than that, more exploration is a-go! That's not really the big "focus" of the chapter but it still opens up some significant points i want to address later on. hopefully i can handle this route well, since i'm doing a lot better with character development than i am with world building. after the relationship hurdle is taken care of (which, from the writing, you guys can probably guess is soon) we'll definitely be focusing on more of that end. i probably should have narrowed my fic down some but hey it's too late for that now and i'm just going to have fun with it.

                      anyways, hope you guys enjoyed as per usual! i had fun writing the snark as always
                       
                        Iranna, CjBeats, Gabaw and 2 others like this.
                      • Risukage

                        Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                        Oh, I like your Alex and Sebastian, they're better than mine. *Hugs them both.* Glad to see Alex being the protective type and not a stereotypical meathead jock. And Sebastian? He's hot when he shows some teeth. Rawr! :p
                         
                          MagicallyClueless likes this.
                        • MagicallyClueless

                          MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer

                          alex is just doing his big bro duties of course~
                          hehehe, glad you enjoy them both! and of course seb is hot
                          that is how i see him all the time
                          *heavily breathes*
                           
                          • Gabaw

                            Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

                            fight fight fight fight fi- oh. well color me surprised. a hothead and a protective goth dude butting up and no swinging in sight :rofl: tho it did get close! and i think it's not totally settled but who knows. on another note, glad that Jade got to explore the ruins again. lots of mysterious adventuring afoot there and i love seeing it each time.
                             
                              Risukage and MagicallyClueless like this.
                            • MagicallyClueless

                              MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer


                              Days ticked by as the last day of Summer approached ever closer. The end of Monday zoomed by, and before the valley even realized it, Thursday had already arrived. The days weren’t necessarily boring, but they weren’t all too noteworthy.

                              Right after Monday, Jade hunted both Alex and Sebastian down to spend time with them and question them separately. Surprisingly, both of them were cooperative and told their experience with each other. Their quarrel was just as Jade expected: her raven-haired companion was all too stubborn, and her brother-in-spirit let his mouth get the best of him. Even if she wanted to be angry with them, she couldn’t. Some people could just never get along due to their nature, Sebastian and Alex being no exception. She just hoped they would behave for her sake. Their incident did lose their house-entering privileges when she was not around, however. In the end, she considered the situation resolved. They just did what their instincts told them to, after all.

                              A grand melon harvest blessed the young farmer yet again on Wednesday. All of the melons were normal sized this time around, though they were plentiful and (from the few melons she kept) were extremely delicious. She was able to get some more blueberries and tomatoes as well, leading to a very successful harvest. As the season was wrapping up, Jade had to wonder how much longer the crops would have to be cared for. Either way, bank was bank.

                              Since Jade no longer had to care for the melon crops, her working time significantly reduced. She was able to spend time with her rabbits much earlier, which they didn’t seem to mind. Despite all the time and care that they received, Butterscotch and Plague were still too young to produce any wool. However, the time for them to be true farm animals was approaching. Jade figured she would be able to start collecting wool around Fall.

                              Wednesday then transitioned to Thursday, which blossomed into Friday. Too many interactions with too many people, so the young farmer absolutely needed a break. Hilariously enough for her, Friday was not that day:


                              SEBASTIAN: Jade.

                              SEBASTIAN: It is time.



                              These two messages sent a chill down Jade’s spine as she examined the screen of her computer’s monitor. Beads of sweat formed at her head as she saw the messages. Time? Time for what?


                              JADE: for what?

                              SEBASTIAN: You know what.



                              Her face instinctively flushed as she tried to think. What was he referring to that she apparently knew? Was she being all too oblivious?


                              JADE: uhhhh….

                              SEBASTIAN: Aw, come on

                              SEBASTIAN: You haven’t bothered me about joining the guild even once!


                              JADE: OH



                              She suddenly burst with laughter. Sebastian’s pestering had a much more, ehm, tame subject than she initially expected.


                              SEBASTIAN: I know that beat up training dummy you have

                              SEBASTIAN: It’s time to do some real fighting, yeah?


                              JADE: man to be honest with you the guild thing completely slipped my mind

                              JADE: and we’re both so busy in the day. today is ~the chosen day~ then?


                              SEBASTIAN: Yeah, no work for me today

                              SEBASTIAN: Even if I did, I just think I need a day off

                              SEBASTIAN: You up for it?


                              JADE: um duh of course. i’m all done with my worky

                              JADE: isn’t it saloon night tho?


                              SEBASTIAN: We can skip at least one saloon night, y’know

                              JADE: awww i’ll tell abby then


                              SEBASTIAN: Which leaves me to tell Sam

                              JADE: sweet

                              JADE: so can you tell me what we're gonna need?


                              SEBASTIAN: In person, yes

                              SEBASTIAN: I’ll help you get ready since we’ll be going to a unique area. You can start packing first since you’ll still need normal cave stuff

                              SEBASTIAN: Unique area will be after your initiation tho


                              JADE: ooohhh surprises?? < 3

                              SEBASTIAN: Nothing surprising enough for you to get all excited

                              JADE: but seb

                              JADE: you got me all pumped for adventure

                              JADE: tell me what we doin


                              SEBASTIAN: You’ll see

                              JADE: grrngnghng

                              SEBASTIAN: lol

                              SEBASTIAN: Okay, I’ll come by in a few.

                              SEBASTIAN: I’ll just take you to the guild via motorcycle


                              JADE: ok see you!!

                              JADE: be safe on your way!



                              After dealing with the necessary messages to her bright purple-haired bromance, Jade was all packed and ready to go for another mining adventure. Her heart pumped with excitement as she packed containers, snacks, tools, and useful materials for the trip. Maru was fun and all, but this was Sebastian. From what he told her, he had adventure and fighting in his blood. Powerful wizard in-game, valiant knight in real life. Jade spent longer than she intended imagining him in armor.

                              She snapped out of it when she heard the rev of a motorcycle outside. Sebastian stopped in front of the house and turned off the engine, standing up to properly greet Jade. He had shades on to protect his eyes, though everything else he wore was the same. The young farmer emerged from the house and happily waved to him as she approached.

                              “Hey, you ready?” Sebastian asked with a smile. Jade noticed that he had a thick coat with his traveling bag. The summer weather was diminishing, but not that fast.

                              “Uh huh. Why do you have that big coat?” asked Jade, deciding to point it out immediately.

                              He smirked and gave a lighthearted shrug. “You’ll see. Let’s get you some unique stuff, too.” Sebastian took the shades off of his eyes and placed them on top of his head instead. Together, they walked back inside the house.

                              Jade realized Sebastian was requesting that she take some very winter-heavy items. A thick coat, long sleeve apparel, tundra boots, the works. She played along, even though she had no idea what they were for. Other than the winter clothing, Jade had completely packed for their trip. Sebastian was proud of how well she prepared, making the young farmer even more excited. They exit the house and made their way to the motorcycle, confident for their next journey.

                              --

                              “Here we are.”

                              The two adults gauged at an olive green cabin, placed on a cliffside before the lake. Jade recognized the guild even though she wasn’t completely sure what it was before; the building was conveniently located right beside the mines, so she saw it in passing. Surrounding the structure of the house were two wooden pillars, its frame and roof having the same rich brown coloring. Beside the front door was a tiny wooden sign with a sword engraved on it. Jade marveled at the cabin in fascination. It was tiny, but new places always had her attention.

                              Sebastian joined Jade after equipping his own mining gear. For the first time, Jade actually saw Sebastian take off his hoodie. She found it hilarious that he had a shirt of the same color underneath, though it fit him very well and looked nice; he was also much thinner than his hoodie alluded to. Afterwards, he slung a dark messenger bag akin to Maru’s over his shoulders and across his chest. Jade could notice the large winter coat hanging out of the bag.

                              “This is the Adventurer’s Guild,” he presented. “I heard that it used to be really huge back in the day... but, it’s just been the two guys for as long as I’ve been here.” Sebastian shrugged.

                              “Let’s go, then!” Jade beamed. She wanted to be the first one to walk inside, but her companion stepped in front of her to open the door. Together, they proceeded. The guild was much smaller than she imagined it would be, but then again, everything in Pelican Town was. Some barrels and supplies stacked in the corners of the main room, a large table and chairs to their right. A gigantic bear rug took refuge in the middle of the room, leading up to the main desk. An old (yet somehow younger than Lewis) man stared to the two visitors in surprise... No one ever came by. He had a ruffled mess of silver hair, a scruffy beard, and an eye-patch over his left eye. All they could see him wear from their perspective was a green tunic and a brown cape over one of his shoulders.

                              To the right of the main desk was another old man idly swinging on a rocking chair in front of the fireplace. He had on a gray sweater, dark brown/red overalls and a deep red hat that leaned over his closed eyes. He also had silver hair and a beard, though his was more tame. A gentle fire was burning in the fireplace, bringing a warm glow to the whole area. Jade’s attention went to the weaponry and maps of the region all over the walls, before then settling onto the man behind the desk.

                              "Welcome... I'm surprised to have visitors this time of year," the one behind the desk mentioned. His voice was strong but raspy. Dude's been through a lot.

                              Sebastian lifted his hand in greeting. "Hey, Marlon. Long time no see."

                              "Indeed," sighed Marlon. "And who is this?" His glance focused onto Jade. She partly hid herself and gave a tiny wave in response, intimidated by the guild leader.

                              "This," Sebastian began, walking up to the desk while taking Jade by the arm, "is your new recruit. Jade wants to be part of the Adventurer's Guild."

                              The young farmer shyly dropped her head. "Hi," she muttered.

                              "You?" Marlon stared at her for a while. "... Wait a minute. You're the one who decked that huge fellow in the face!" He suddenly burst with laughter. "What a hook!"

                              Jade's face flushed in embarrassment. "Is that all everyone remembers me for?" she lowly muttered, then glared at Sebastian when she heard a snicker. Her sight dropped again with a pout. "Y-yeah, that's me," she admitted. "I'm a local farmer."

                              "So I hear." Marlon's cheerful disposition vanished. "You may be good with your fists, but how are you with a blade?"

                              "I'm teaching her," Sebastian replied for her. "I think having the guild as a resource will help her a lot, as well."

                              Marlon stared at the two for a bit, then sighed. "We'll see about that. You're a good enough swordsman, but don't let that get to your head. This ain't the first girl you brought here," the old man mumbled, fishing for something in the desk's drawers.

                              "Not the first girl?" Jade lifted an eyebrow to Sebastian. The young man in question suddenly appeared nervous. "I just tried to bring Abby here once, is all," he corrected. "It's not like I do this often."

                              "Uh huh, heart breaker." Jade chuckled and nudged his side. Sebastian nudged her back with a huff, then they got into a small war of messing with each other before Marlon stood back up.

                              "Alright, here's the contract." Marlon slapped a tattered piece of paper onto the desk. The paper itself had a description of the guild, what they stood for, and what each guild member should abide by. At the very bottom, there was a place to sign Jade's name. "You'll get the ability to sign it after you complete your first task."

                              "Okay, what's my first task?" asked the young farmer.

                              Marlon placed his elbows onto the desk and stroked his beard as he stared at Jade. "Hm..." He examined her demeanor, which only seemed to make her more nervous. Beads of sweat formed on Jade's forehead, unsure of what he was going to say. Would she fight slimes? Bats? Bugs? Could she really handle them, even with Sebastian as a support? She didn't want to screw up, whatever it was.

                              "Do you have a weapon?" asked Marlon, after an excruciatingly long minute of silence.

                              Jade nodded, taking out her sword from the side of her backpack.

                              "You've been managing with this sad old thing?" gasped the guild leader in surprise. "The blade's chipped and this definitely isn't the sharpest."

                              "My friend gave it to me!" she claimed in desperation. "I've used it a lot, so it's pretty worn."

                              "What's your experience?"

                              Jade hummed in thought to try to recall her experiences. "Mostly slimes... A lot of them live around my farm. I fought a lot of bugs when I went to the mines for the first time, though." She went quiet again, trying to recall anything else. "Oh! B-but! But I do practice. I want to try my best to defend my farm and my friends."

                              "Mmhm..." Marlon examined her some more. "Noble. Maybe you have what it takes, after all."

                              The young farmer's face brightened. "Really?" she asked, excited.

                              "I'll tell you what. I'll loan you a brand new sword for your initiation. If you want to keep it, you can pay me after." He stepped over to the wall behind him and picked out a sharp steel broadsword, though it appeared relatively thinner and lighter than many of the other swords on display. "From what I've seen from you, speed is your ally. A sword like this would be better suited for you." He placed the sword and its sheath on the desk.

                              "Wow..." Jade marveled at the sword, looking for silent permission before holding the sword to examine. "Thank you very much, Marlon. I'll do my best."

                              Marlon smiled behind his beard. "I know you will. As for your exact task... I'll start you off easy. Ten slimes from the mines." He aggressively gestured to Sebastian. "His kills don't count. Bring back the evidence and you're in. Sound good?"

                              "Yes, that's perfect. Thank you, Marlon!" Jade happily bowed. She sheathed the sword and put it around her waist for easy access.

                              "I'll buy this sword for 10 gold if you want," mumbled Marlon.

                              She chuckled. "No, it was a gift. I'll keep it as a souvenir if anything. Thank you again." She returned Abigail's old sword back in the loop of her backpack, then looked to Sebastian. "Anything else?"

                              He shook his head. "Nope, looks like we're good. You'll be able to get some pretty good armor after you become a guild member. Well, when you get more skilled, anyway." The raven-haired man waved to Marlon and started walking off, Jade eagerly trailing behind. Everyone was in higher spirits; Jade got to borrow a new weapon and Marlon had fresh blood interested in the guild.

                              "Hey, wait a sec. Let me put this sword back here since I don't want the extra weight," started Jade, venturing back over to Sebastian's motorcycle. She placed her old sword with all of Sebastian's extra stuff. He ventured over as well.

                              "I forgot my own sword. Thanks for reminding me," he cheerfully remarked, taking his own sword. Its sheath and length was very similar to Jade's; he must have been a swift fighter, too. "I need some new equipment, to be honest. I'm more of a collector, so I tend to hunt for rare stuff rather than go out of my way to fight monsters."

                              Jade watched him in fascination. "Well, you better not be losing faith in yourself since you're the one who has to cover my ass," she snorted. They began their walk towards the mines. "So, you tried to bring Abby to the guild? How'd that go?"

                              Sebastian sighed. "She talked about adventuring and whatnot all the time, but she started making excuses whenever I would try to get her to join. I eventually was able to bring her to the guild and she received her first task... she pretty much ignored it and never talked about it after that."

                              "That's a shame... I think Abby would be good with fighting."

                              "Maybe." Sebastian gave an unknowing shrug. "I think Marlon was convinced I was just trying to impress her, since she never appeared after that. I was more confused than anything," he mumbled. They entered the mines, though Sebastian didn't head towards the elevator. He approached an opening in the ground that had a ladder leading downwards, then started descending it first- Jade carefully followed after him. They entered the very first floor below ground level, which was a fairly tiny and underwhelming area. It appeared to be a regular cavern, much like the floor above. No real vegetation to make the place pretty.

                              Jade scanned the whole room to make sure there weren’t any lurking monsters. A feeling inside of her told her she should be relieved, even though it was her current job to hunt down slimes. “Well... Didn’t you say before that she’s never been to the mines? She could have just been really nervous.”

                              “Yeah, that’s precisely how I found out.” Sebastian casually removed Jade’s pickaxe from her backpack and walked into a specific area of rocks. He tightly held the pickaxe with both hands, then swinging downwards to the rocks. They all shattered rather quickly, but that was something to be expected just below ground level. “Abby was weird to me then, and she was weird for a long time after that. It’s a little different now... I think the four of us make a better group. Before, I just preferred Sam and me.”

                              The young farmer wanted to speak, but she knew she couldn’t. She watched his mining nervously, though she was thinking more about his words than what he was actually doing. She recalled Abigail mentioning her fleeting crush on Sebastian, which is probably why she acted ‘weird’ to him. “Maybe we should help her overcome her mining fear sometime,” muttered Jade.

                              “Yeah, maybe. I have to be honest, I’ve never exactly been all too patient with Abby. I did help her with some sword fighting, though. That’s what prompted me to get her to join,” he explained. Due to his mining, the entry down to the next level was revealed. He lightly tossed the pickaxe back to her and then began his descent. Jade put the tool back on her backpack and carefully climbed down. With how Sebastian was acting, it seemed like he’s traveled this path several times.

                              The second floor was larger; maybe not as big as the areas Jade explored with Maru all that time ago, but still impressive. In the waves of rocks, Jade could see a couple of lazying green slimes. Both had no antennae and seemed to be exploring for any sort of nourishment. "Sorry to interrupt, but..." she gestured over to the slimes.

                              "I know. You got this covered," Sebastian said, taking the pickaxe once more. "Keep your eyes focused on the enemy, block when they charge, and go in for the kill."

                              Jade took a deep breath and nodded. "I got this," she repeated to reassure herself. A couple of huge rocks blocked the path to the other side of the cave, where the slimes roamed cluelessly. They didn't seem to hear the two speaking. Sebastian quickly broke the rocks up and signaled for Jade to go through. With a nod, she unsheathed her new sword and sneaked to approach one of the slimes.

                              Both of the green, translucent creatures frantically glanced around when they heard the break of rock. Before one of them could properly react, Jade swiftly swung her sword. It got knocked away from the impact and squeaked in agitation. Both of the slimes had their sights on the novice fighter then. She took another deep breath and prepared herself as the further slime began to flicker. It jumped high in the air with its aim right at Jade's face-

                              "Block!" Sebastian shouted.

                              Jade instantly held the sword in front of her face, which deflected the slime's attack. As the slime fell to the ground, Jade sliced it in half. Its gooey form exploded and slopped onto the ground.

                              "Good!" the raven-hair cheered. "Always take advantage."

                              "Aww, you gonna backseat drive my fighting?" giggled the farmer. For a moment, her ego got the best of her, but she realigned her sight onto the remaining slime. It jumped for her, which she dodged just in time. She went down to attack it, which caused it to explode in only a second. "Yeah!" she beamed. "That wasn't so hard."

                              Sebastian approached Jade and gave her a rewarding pat on the shoulder. "Form needs a little work, but we can fix that," he teased with a smirk.

                              "Oh, please," she laughed. "That face you just made looks just like Sam!"

                              "Don't ruin my good mood," playfully nudged the intermediary explorer. "Eight more. The goo is evidence; collect that and we're fine."

                              Jade pouted. "Eugh... I have to touch this?" she grumbled. She flicked the extra slime off of her sword and sheathed it, then fished out containers for the slime.

                              "Yup."

                              "How come sometimes slime burns and sometimes it doesn't?" Jade asked, kneeling down to store the more solid pieces of slime.

                              Sebastian smiled, always eager to answer questions. "That's an attack of theirs, so it's something they have to do. Sort of like a bite, since they don't really have mouths. The slime itself is harmless... mostly. Don't eat it."

                              Jade suddenly cackled. "Do you have a story about how you know that?"

                              "Sometimes truth or dare gets serious, Jade."

                              The young farmer went into a fit of giggles, cleaning her hands after properly storing the slime. "You and Sam are honestly the best."

                              "We know." He chuckled a bit.

                              There didn't seem to be any other slimes in the area, so Sebastian took to mining through the area. He forgot where exactly the ladder was, this time around. Jade was grateful that he was taking the time to find the next level, even though it was only splitting their work evenly. "You know... you really are in a good mood. I don't think I've seen you smile so much."

                              Her mention caused him to instantly scowl. The reaction made Jade laugh again. "Aww, I love the smiling, though! Let me see it again."

                              Sebastian turned his head away, not wanting to give her the satisfaction that her demand made him smile again. "I do whatever I want," he grumbled in an attempt to be grumpy. She giggled and didn't say anything, though she knew he was just trying to cover it up. "I just like being in the mines."

                              "Me too. It's really nice to go with somebody. I mean, I've only been here twice, but still."

                              "Hah, I got you." Sebastian was quiet for a moment, focused on mining. "... I hope I wasn't forcing you into this guild thing," he eventually muttered.

                              Jade blinked in surprise. "Huh? No, not at all! This is something I really want to do," she cheerfully began, her voice proud and determined. "Especially with you. I'm having fun."

                              "Ah, alright... I didn't know if you just didn't want to do it, like how Abby was. I mean, I wouldn't have a problem if that was the case, but..."

                              The young farmer chuckled. "Oh hush, would you? There are too many benefits in the guild to pass up, in addition to the fun I'm having."

                              The raven-haired man revealed his smile to her once more. He seemed relieved. "That's good... wait, what did you say before?"

                              "What?"

                              "Especially with me?" Sebastian asked.

                              "Oh." She grinned. "I was just extra excited since I know you're into stuff like this. I couldn't imagine mining with Sam or even Abby, really. It feels natural with you."

                              He paused, revealing the next ladder downwards. "... Yeah?" he said in an almost touched voice, looking back to her.

                              "Yeah," she smiled, taking the pickaxe. She was the first to descend the ladder this time, Sebastian following suit.

                              "What about Maru?" Sebastian asked, which caused Jade to groan and laugh.

                              "I knew that was coming," she snorted. "You can relax, Seb. I like Maru, but I've hardly spent time with her," Jade laughed to herself as she climbed down. "So... you're the king, you get to keep your crown of friendship."

                              "Ah, my rightful place," joked Sebastian. They went down to the third floor and scanned their surroundings once more. These rooms just seemed to be growing in size. This one was more narrow, but the path to the other side of the room seemed to have a large opening. They didn't see anything in their line of vision, so Sebastian took to listening for anything nearby. "There are probably slimes on the other end," he quietly stated.

                              Jade nodded and handed the pickaxe back to him. The mining resumed and Jade kept a careful guard around them.

                              "... I know it's not something you really care about... to be honest, neither should I, but..." Sebastian wiped his forehead, the mining proving to be quite the workout. "You got the crown, too. Of... friendship. I guess."

                              She giggled. "I do? No Sam? I don't mind sharing."

                              "I couldn't do this stuff with Sam. He's absolutely my best friend, though he wouldn't be caught dead in the mines unless it was skate-friendly or was good for guitar practice." He sighed, trying to word his thoughts correctly. "Sam's my bro, but I feel like I can do everything with you."

                              "Aw, Seb..." Jade held her hands to her heart, completely charmed by his words. "You're gonna make me cry. That's so sweet."

                              Sebastian accidentally mined open the next ladder down, however, the two ignored it for the time being. There were definitely slimes at the other end of the area, since they could hear squishing of a venturing slime and various squeaks. At the time, though, Sebastian was ignoring everything. He stood up fully and brought his complete attention to the young farmer. He coughed and tried to form another scowl, peering away from her to try to make his trick work. "Don't let it get to your head."

                              "Too late," she chuckled.

                              He looked back to her and smiled again. "You're the worst, you know that?"

                              She smiled back. "Yup."

                              They took the moment in. It was wonderful to be in mutual agreement on how they felt about each other, even though both of them were holding back their real thoughts significantly. Jade happily sighed in their quiet. She wanted to ruin the moment with a terrible joke.

                              “You look like you’re about to say something horrible. You have a face you do before the fact.” Sebastian narrowed his eyes at her.

                              “Aw man, I do?” She laughed. “I was trying to think of something- DUCK!

                              Sebastian quickly kneeled down- he saw terror in Jade’s face and had no time to question her actions. She swung her sword at a slime that lunged towards Sebastian, successfully slicing it into several pieces before it even hit the ground. When all was said and done, he stood back up and marveled at the collapsed slime. “Damn...”

                              “Sorry! I didn’t see it before, I’m sorry,” gasped Jade. “Are you okay?” She frantically checked him to make sure nothing was wrong.

                              He nodded. “Yeah, I’m fine. Just a little frazzled, is all,” he muttered, then brushed his hair back with a sigh. “Don’t be sorry, I wasn’t paying attention. The teacher just got taught,” he pitifully laughed.

                              “Let’s make it both our faults so we’re even,” the novice concluded. She leaned down to collect the third slime. “Hey, seven to go, at least.”

                              “For sure. This’ll be a breeze, especially with reflexes like that,” he proudly spoke.

                              After that mini-panic attack, they both decided to descend down to the next floor. They got into the swing of exploring, defeating slimes (as well as stray bugs that proved to be nuisances) and mining down new entrances. Soon enough, three slimes became four, which became six, and so on.

                              The noble mission to get all ten slimes was tiring for the both of them. There were only a couple slimes, if any, on each floor, and they were determined to get all of them in one day. The last slime was defeated only a few floors below an area containing the elevator. Jade squealed with joy after slicing the last slime away. She was becoming skilled in blocking slimes’ attacks and tearing them apart before they could really do any damage. Sebastian told her to not get too cocky, however- green slimes were the weak ones.

                              “At least I can better protect my farm. From slimes, anyway,” Jade pouted. She had stored all the necessary slime blobs and sheathed her sword for hopefully the last time that day. They were making their way back up to the floor with the elevator for a quicker escape. “I don’t really know what lives close to me... I think you should explore the forest with me sometime, Seb. There are really interesting ruins!”

                              “Exploring is always fun. I have to build up to it, though,” Sebastian sighed, stretching. They heard his back crack from the action, which made Jade chuckle.

                              “What was that, grandpa?” she snorted.

                              “Nothing. Also, respect your elders. I’m too old for this shit.”

                              The young farmer giggled again, entertained. “I’m taking a guess that you haven’t been able to go to the mines all too much lately.”

                              “Yeah. I get so caught up in a routine. Work just about every day, run errands, seeing people I tolerate once or twice a week,” explained Sebastian. He smirked, glancing at Jade. She was too distracted by finding the ladder to really notice, though she was still listening. “Then whenever I have the time, I don’t always feel like mining or monster slaying. It’s been some weeks since I last went, so this is refreshing.”

                              “Hehe, only would being underground be refreshing for you,” Jade teased. Sebastian shrugged, smiling in defeat. She wasn’t wrong.

                              They finally reached the elevator without any more trouble. The light beside the elevator turned on with a ding and the door slid open. Both of them walked inside, but neither of them pressed any buttons yet.

                              “Hey,” the raven-hair began. “Let’s go to the area I was talking about before.”

                              “The reason we need the coats?” Jade asked. He nodded. “It’s in the mines?” she inquired once more, which incited another nod.

                              Sebastian closed the elevator door and set a floor for them to travel on. “The floor shouldn't have any monsters, so we’ll be fine. We need somewhere to take a break, anyway. Might as well be somewhere nice.”

                              The young farmer dropped her backpack and shuffled out her wintry coat to wear, Sebastian doing the same with his bag. Her gray and white coat draped over her whole torso like a dress, while Sebastian’s- which was surprisingly a soft blue- hugged his torso. Both of their coats were lined with fake fur, which was both comfortable and fashionable. Haley would be proud.

                              Their destination seemed to be dozens of floors below. Jade really had no idea where they were going, but she was fairly eager. Eventually, the intermediary guild member broke the silence: “How did miners operate in this elevator? I feel like we’re suffocating,” he huffed.

                              “Haha, yeah. Maybe this was installed later? By the guild members for exploring purposes. I dunno.” Jade shrugged.

                              Sebastian did the same gesture. “Maybe.” They were silent for a moment, but both of them enjoyed the presence of one another. “For some reason, this reminds me of one time when Maru and I were much younger.” He smirked. “I wasn’t older than 13, but we weren’t allowed to go to the mines. I sneaked out and Maru followed me, and we went down this elevator together, armed with nothing but a shabby sword and a bookbag.”

                              “Oh, boy. What did you do?” Jade laughed with accusation in her voice.

                              He lightly nudged her, smiling with mischievousness. “We were going down the elevator, when all of the sudden...” Bam! Sebastian slammed his hand to the nearby wall of the elevator. Jade flinched, but laughed. “The elevator stopped abruptly, and the light overhead went out!!”

                              “You’re horrible!” she giggled.

                              “Hey, I didn’t do it.”

                              “But....” Jade continued playfully, giving him a certain look.

                              He laughed. “Okay, I did jump in the elevator in an attempt to get it working... and maybe to scare Maru, just a little bit. Here, I can show you-”

                              “Haha! No, please!” Jade continued to laugh, and then squealed and tackled Sebastian when he threatened to jump in the elevator. “You’re gonna kill us!”

                              The raven-hair playfully pushed her away, which incited Jade to push him back. Their exchange turned into friendly if not somewhat rough banter, not stopping their sick burns until the elevator stopped and opened with a ding! Shivering mist wafted into the elevator, the doorway revealing a bright, frozen cavern. The older of the two hoisted his messenger bag and walked out. “Welcome to the ice caverns,” beamed Sebastian. Jade copied his actions while following behind with stars shining in her eyes. Despite the small dimensions of the room and its emptiness, it was beautiful. There was freezing pool of water just to their left, which is where Sebastian was headed.

                              “I needed this cool air more than anything,” Jade happily sighed. “And this area is so beautiful! Wow, that water is so pretty!” The young farmer was busy with ‘ooh’s and ‘aah’s as she examined their level. Bunches of icicles hung down from the ceiling and all the rocks were blue, freezing, and far more durable than boulders of previous floors. Sebastian sat down in front of the pool of water and let Jade continue her excited roaming. A large smile was placed onto his face as he listened to her. “I want to take a nap here. Forever,” Jade stated with a matter-of-fact tone.

                              “And have me drag your ass home? No thanks.”

                              “Aw, I’d drag your ass home,” Jade laughed, trotting over to join him. She began to calm down upon gazing into the pond.

                              He chuckled. “You already know my response to that.”

                              “Blah blah, I live closer, something something?”

                              Her reply brought out such a rare chuckle. “You’re getting too sassy. I need to stop rubbing my sass onto you, so I can keep my title as ungrateful smartass.”

                              Jade wistfully sighed and pet one of his arms. “Oh, Seb. Sweet, poor, Seb. I was always sassy as all get out.” It was her turn to stretch and yawn. “In other news though, I’m exhausted. Mind if I lean on you?”

                              “Not at all,” Sebastian answered.

                              “Thank you. I’m already starting to get cold.” She took no hesitation in using his cushy shoulder as a pillow, scooting closer to him so that they were directly side by side. Sebastian stared at her for a moment as he figured out what to do; whatever it was, he didn’t want her sitting like this.

                              “Hey... You can... move closer, if you want. Here,” the raven-hair softly began. He wrapped his closer arm around her and moved her head closer to his chest. She adjusted to the changes and got comfortable, one hand placed below his chest and the other on his leg. Sebastian summoned a moment of bravery to hold her stray hand. In not even a moment, they started to feel each other’s warmth. Only faint crackles of ice could be heard in the background, since neither of them muttered another word. Gentle expressions conveyed their true state of contentment.

                              The guild initiation was a success.



                              special thanks to @Risukage and @Kid Absurdity for helping me fine-tune this chapter! I was really paranoid about a lot of things and I'm more confident about it now. As always, thanks to @CjBeats for proofing and helping make sure my fic stays on track. It really helps to know what everyone thinks and I tend to keep all suggestions and comments in mind. I'm doing this fic for fun, but I still want to tell a good story and to improve.

                              That being said, a lot of stuff is starting up and we're finally getting into more places that I want to explore. Lots of chatting and insight this chapter, along with sassy old men. Good times.

                              Next chapter will be the finale of Summer!
                               
                                Last edited: Aug 9, 2016
                                Iranna, CjBeats, Gabaw and 3 others like this.
                              • Gabaw

                                Gabaw Scruffy Nerf-Herder

                                Looks like Jade managed to school Seb for once :rofl: Seems like they're all patched up. Even better with that cozy ending :p No wonder Maru never wants to step foot in the mines again after that experience. She shoulda pushed him down the shaft lmao! In any case Jade's finally in the guild and her sword skills are getting better. More adventure is surely afoot.
                                 
                                  Risukage and MagicallyClueless like this.
                                • MagicallyClueless

                                  MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer


                                  Stardew Valley was already getting cool with the approaching chills of Fall and some of the trees had already yellowed. This was the last day of Summer. Even wild animals knew the time of year, for they were hurriedly packing up food and making preparations for Winter. Farmer Jade should have been doing the same amount of work for her land, though her mind was somewhere else that day.

                                  As she cleared her farmland, uprooting dying crops and fixing the soil, there was peace. She hadn’t had a nightmare in quite a few weeks, nor did she wake up in cold sweat or really wake up with any sort of discomfort- in fact, a good dream had graced her being for the first time in forever. Jade couldn’t remember too much of it; she recalled a cool breeze, pastel blues and greens, and complete sereneness. No house, no rain, and most importantly, no monster. It was a welcomed change.

                                  Aside from her bouts of paranoia with shadow people and spectres, life was extremely peaceful. Friends, people to rely on, a sense of community... the eager Jade gained all of that during the summertime. The joy she felt, the excitement to see people’s faces- this was something unheard of for a long time. Life on the farm was almost too good to be true, but Jade was happy to be a part of it. Her alternatives involved being miserable while freelancing for grossly underpaid jobs. She had more control here, even if it didn’t involve her personal skills.



                                  “So, what did you do before Pelican Town, then?” curiously asked Alex. He was reclining back in one of Jade’s dining chairs, feet lazily propped up onto the matching dining table. He watched the young farmer as she chopped away at something on a cutting board. Whatever she was making, he was pumped for it- Jade started inviting him for lunch when he didn’t work his summer job, and her food was fairly tasty. Nothing Granny worthy, but there was an unfairness in comparing someone so great to mere novices.

                                  Jade sighed with frustration as she was trying to cut pieces of fish just right. She had finally learned how to gut and clean the fish she caught correctly, but making a perfect meal was still far fetched for her. “I worked at home for a little while. I did have a part time job at a tailor shop, but only really the register and stuff. I used to live on art commissions,” she explained.

                                  Alex crossed his arms behind his head, giving a slight nod in thought. “Art stuff? Hehe, how do you go from an artist to a farmer?”

                                  “Well, pay’s better, for one. I’m still creating something... just plants, instead of, you know. Drawings. I was running into a dead end anyway. It was getting harder and harder to really look for jobs- dammit!” Jade yelled to herself from an irregular fish slice. “Agh! Sorry, this probably won’t be amazing,” she pouted, then arranging the fish slices onto a dinner plate. She applied seasonings and sauces to make it the nicest she could.

                                  “Oh please, food is food. Thank you for making lunch for me!” he beamed. The athlete properly sat up in the chair and excitedly scoot up closer to the table when Jade walked over to him with the plate. She set it down in front of him with a really anxious expression clouding her visage.

                                  “Ta-da,” she whimpered. “Sashimi. This is my first time making it, but I followed the recipe... please try it and be honest with me.”

                                  “You’re not gonna try it?” inquired Alex. “More for me,” he grunted, then started to eat. His face lit up, smiling with a mouth full of sashimi. He finished that portion and grinned, “Yeah! This is pretty good. Could probably use a little less sauce, but meh, I ain’t complaining.”

                                  Jade huffed and nodded with determination. “Okay! I’ll make it better next time, then. So you enjoy it?”

                                  “Yup, tastes pretty good to me.”

                                  A sigh of relief. “Good... I’m glad. I need to learn how to cook all sorts of things.” She ventured back over to the kitchen to get her own meal. Leftover lasagna seemed like a solid choice for her.

                                  Alex made quick work of his own meal; by the time Jade joined him, he was finishing up the last of it and downing a glass of water. “So,” he returned after a hearty sigh of a full stomach, “you ever going to share your art?”

                                  “Mine?” Jade snorted, mouth full of food. “No, I don’t even have much with me. And I haven’t done any of that in so long. I think the most I’ve done here is doodle some fan art if I can’t sleep or something.”

                                  Alex pushed away his plate since he was finished. “Fan art?”

                                  “You know... like...” Jade noticed the clueless look on Alex’s face and became unsure of how to proceed. “... Do you watch TV at all?”

                                  He nodded. “I do watch gridball games on TV. Though I’d rather go to the actual games themselves.”

                                  Jade hummed in thought. “So... no TV shows, really? Like, any dramas, comedies, cartoons?”

                                  “Nope.”

                                  “Uhh.... How about video games?” Jade asked with a shrug. Alex gave her such a look that answered the question for her. “Okay, this is a little harder to explain then... it’s just a drawing of characters that I like, I guess?” She gave up and just settled to eating. Alex nodded like he understood, though he didn’t really know what it was like to want to draw a fictional figure. Real ones, maybe.

                                  Oh well. “Hey, whatever you’re down for,” the athlete cheerfully concluded. “If you make something nice though, I wanna see.” He stacked her plate onto his when he noticed she had finished eating. With that, he stood up and went to go clean the dishes.

                                  “Sure,” Jade replied with a smile. “If I make something, you’ll be one of the first know about it.”

                                  “Good!” he grinned.

                                  After some much needed banter and chit-chat, it was time for Alex to leave. They said their goodbyes until the last festival of the summer began.

                                  Wait.

                                  “A festival?” Jade asked, shocked.

                                  “Yeah, the moonlight jellies one. Will you be there?” inquired the young athlete.

                                  The Dance of the Moonlight Jellies! Of all the festivals, of course Jade forgot about the one she was looking forward to. Marnie mentioned how Mayor Lewis enjoyed the festival, and more importantly, how he would forget the blemishes that consisted of the entire Luau. This was her official break! And she knew Sebastian spoke of the festival as well... if he found the get-together relaxing, then she definitely would enjoy it. Win-win!

                                  “Yes!”

                                  --

                                  Jade’s entire day was wasted in the best way she knew how: being a complete couch potato. The Dance of the Moonlight Jellies would begin at 10PM that night, so she had so much time to kill and no requirements other than to simply get through the day. She yearned for her favorite bean bag chair upstairs and plopped into it, wearing a tank top, fuzzy pants, and most importantly, fluffy bunny-eared slippers. She excitedly stamped her feet on the plush carpet when the title screen of a borrowed game flashed onto the TV. For hours, she allowed herself to get swallowed into another world. Jade experienced true bliss for getting to have a personal day to herself. Several snacks and lots of gameplay later, Jade eventually fell asleep while snuggled in her bean bag chair. Her snoring was so loud due to her position in the chair that she actually woke herself up an hour later. Surprised as she may be, she was really happy. Maybe her life was too good to be true for the moment, but she would be damned if she didn’t enjoy it while it lasted.

                                  Time finally closed in and caused her to get ready. The night was pitch black, only the beautiful full moon softly illuminating the sky and ground with cool hues. There was an overwhelmingly cold wind dominating the air that night, causing Jade to bust out one of her old jackets. She kept warm in a favorite outfit that she favored for saloon nights, except with a zipped up red jacket covering her torso. With hands in her cozy coat pockets, she was off.

                                  Hoo-hooing of owls and chirping of faraway crickets accompanied Jade’s short but intimidating journey into town. Rarely did she ever leave when it was so late, and so... dark. Strangely enough, however, she wasn’t put-off by her loneliness in Cindersap Forest. The moon was bright enough to guide the young farmer’s path and she didn’t sense that anything- creature or person- wanted to confront her.

                                  Crunching of crisp grass and rustling of trees transitioned to tiny steps on the stone pavement and rushing wind between dark buildings. Several lamp posts spread throughout the town and shined upon all possible paths, though no one was around. Maybe she was one of the last ones. Jade hurried to the path towards the beach so that she wouldn’t miss anything.

                                  While the beach was certainly a sight to behold in the day, something was just absolutely breathtaking about it at night. Somehow, the moonlight felt even more powerful on the shore. Sand appeared to be blue, except around the shoreline where little boats carried warm-colored lamps. The ocean somehow appeared to be even more blue than in the daytime. Waves crashed in the distance and seagulls flew around, wondering why so many of the townspeople were gathered.

                                  Seeing everyone together again brought a warm feeling to Jade’s heart... well, most people were together, anyway. Some townsfolk stayed on the shore and some were even on the other side of the beach itself. Everyone else stood at the docks, as was evident by the concentration of chatter and the gathering of lights. Jade needed to see her friends and she didn’t see them on the shore, so she figured the docks had her people.

                                  The young farmer passed friendly greetings to those she walked by, wishing Harvey a good night, asking Marnie how her animal babies were doing, and so on. As soon as she stepped onto the docks, she noticed Lewis standing beside a larger wooden boat carrying a lantern. He was positioned near Willy’s house, and there was pretty much no way to avoid him. Jade took a deep breath and approached him with all the confidence she could muster.

                                  “M-mayor! Are you having a good night? Sir?” Jade asked in a cheerful, yet terrified, greeting.

                                  He turned to her without even the slightest hesitation. The expression on his face communicated more of a pleasant surprise rather than any sort of discontentment towards her. “Oh, if it isn’t Jade,” he calmly remarked, smiling through that mustache of his. “I’m having a great night. Now that you’re here, I think we might have everyone for the festival. How are you doing?”

                                  Jade had never felt more relief before that moment. He really did seem fine. “Thank you for asking, I’m doing very well also. I’ve never seen moonlight jellies before, so I’m excited.”

                                  “Oh, it’s a treat. Go on and say hi to others, enjoy yourself. I’ll let everyone have a little more time before I release the boat and call the jellies.” Lewis kindly shooed her off, though his voice was so gentle if not slightly cheerful for the events to come. Jade not only felt relieved, but inspired.

                                  “Of course. Thank you, Mayor,” Jade happily exclaimed, then continued along Willy’s house.

                                  Since she had a whole day to herself, she supposed she could chat with everyone else for the night. She met up with Alex again, Haley trailing along as was usual in public places. Jade noticed Haley’s much more cheerful demeanor. Even the sassier folk waited in anticipation for the jellyfish to arrive. Jodi, Willy, Clint, and who she presumed to be Haley’s sister were also lingering near the house. Jodi seemed calm and relieved to be alone, while the others were simply doing their own business. She even noticed Elliott at the far edge, watching the ocean waves with an increasingly complex feeling stirred into his expression. Jade ventured away from the house and continued further down the docks. She came across Jas, who seemed to be too excited about the potential baby jellyfish to remember that she didn’t like the farmer. If Jas was so pumped, then Vincent was extremely pumped for the jellyfish. As soon as Jade gave him the attention, he rattled on about the rare green jellyfish he’s heard about, and how he was motivated to find it himself.

                                  Finally, her squad. The three of them chat to each other at the very end of the docks, far away from everyone else. Sam and Abigail seemed to be more engaged in conversation, while Sebastian sat on the side, quietly listening and staring out into the ocean. Occasionally, he would mutter a snarky word to keep himself part of the chatter, though he seemed a bit distracted.

                                  “Hey guys!” beamed Jade as she approached them. All three of them turned to face Jade at about the same time, varying degrees of excitement on their faces.

                                  “Jadey!” Abigail cheered first, running over to give Jade a friendly hug. Sam grinned and waved to her, while Sebastian fully stood up to properly greet her.

                                  The young farmer chuckled. “Hi, Abby,” Jade smiled, then walked forward with her to see the other two. She acknowledged Sam’s presence with a half-hearted shove, then shared her own toothy grin to Sebastian. “Are you taking care of these goons well enough?”

                                  “I wish they’d take care of me at this point,” scoffed the raven-hair. He softly smiled to her and moved closer to the three of them. They all stood in a square, facing each other. “This is your first moonlight jelly dance then, huh?”

                                  Jade nodded with glee. “Yes, I’m looking forward to it! And Lewis didn’t bite my face off. It’s already the best day.”

                                  “You’ll enjoy it with or without your face,” Sebastian remarked, his smile wider.

                                  Sam responded with an almost obnoxious yawn. “If you ask me, this is one of the more boring festivals. Watching the jellyfish only make me sleepy,” the blond began. “I also get a little... jumpy. Like I need to... make... something, you know...” He glared at Sebastian with such a devious expression. “... Happen.”

                                  “If you touch me, your ass belongs to the jellyfish,” the shorter male hissed.

                                  Abigail broke out into a cackle. “When did you push Seb in? Wasn’t it a few years ago?”

                                  “Why are you worried about him?!” shouted Jade. “That spiky haired bastard threw me into the ocean a few weeks ago!” She jumped up in an attempt to headlock Sam, though he was far too tall. Sam laughed and spun around in a circle while Jade hung off of his back, giggling.

                                  Sebastian seemed surprised by the fact. “Wait- really?” he inquired.

                                  “Oh yeah, that happened at Sam’s birthday. You came there late,” Abigail snorted. “It was pretty fu- hey! Watch where you’re swinging my girl!” the adventurer snapped, then tugging Jade by her waist. Jade kept a tight grip around Sam’s neck, causing him to bend backwards from Abigail’s pull.

                                  “Ack! Seb! Save me, bro!” Sam desperately squeaked, choking by Jade’s merciless hold.

                                  The young farmer made a cartoonishly evil laugh. “It’s my turn now! The depths of the sea call your name!!”

                                  Sebastian just watched, extremely entertained. He chose not to save his bro, for he wanted to know what would happen next.

                                  “H-hey! You dragged me in too, remember?! Jadey? J-money? Papa J??” Sam dramatically coughed.

                                  Jade blinked. “Oh yeah! Okay. Revenge taken, Papa forgives.” Jade let go and dropped off of Sam with a laugh. She high-fived Abigail for perfect teamwork.

                                  Meanwhile, the blond was completely heartbroken. He pouted his lips to Sebastian in the most puppylike manner possible. “Bro... You shoulda saved me, bro. I coulda been a ghost.”

                                  “It kinda looked like you deserved it,” chuckled Sebastian.

                                  “Why! I never!” he loudly gasped. Sam threw an arm around Sebastian’s shoulder anyway, suddenly acting completely casual. “It’s okay, I still love you. Even though you wound me deeply.”

                                  “I know you do,” Sebastian said with the roll of his eyes. A smile still remained on his face.

                                  Jade giggled at the two, then staring to Abigail with an entertained expression. They smirked at each other, though Jade’s sight eventually roamed over to the other side of the docks. “Oh- hey! The Mayor must be sending out the boat now. How long does it take for them to come?” the young farmer wondered aloud, peering over to Lewis. He slowly pushed the boat with the lantern out into the open sea.

                                  Abigail gasped, stars shining in her eyes. “In just a few minutes! Let’s hurry to the edge,” she eagerly answered, taking Jade back to the very end of the docks. The boat slowly rolled out, swaying back and forth from the gently rustling waves. Its light proudly shined to the world before it was too far to truly see.

                                  The four of them kept their attention to the water. Jade sat down at the edge to get a better view, Abigail and Sam both content with standing. Sebastian had exit his favorite blond’s hold to join Jade at the edge.

                                  “Have you ever seen jellyfish before?” Sebastian asked his farmer friend, voice gentle and quiet.

                                  She shook her head. “Not that I can remember... other than television, of course,” Jade responded with equal softness.

                                  “This will be a treat, then. They’re really beautiful, especially the moonlight jellies.”

                                  “Aah, I can hardly contain my excitement,” Jade giggled to herself. Her eyes brightened when she spotted a blue glow approaching the surface of the water. The glow increased, then revealed itself to be a large, round jellyfish with a silvery blue glow. It curiously fluttered about the water like an angel of the sea, others just like it rising to meet the ocean surface.

                                  Most people went quiet, save for a few whispers among townspeople and gasps of awe at these gorgeous creatures. Jade’s focus went from jellyfish to jellyfish, staring at all of them with complete fascination and wonder. She eventually stood on her hands and knees to lean closer to the water.

                                  Sebastian watched her and quietly huffed. “Hey, be careful. They can still sting,” he warned, moving closer to her. For her safety and for his own peace of mind, he held an arm around her waist.

                                  She chuckled. “I’m fine, I’m still on the edge- oh! Look at those! Little babies!” she went in a hushed (yet beaming) tone of voice. Jade pointed to a group of tinier jellyfish, fluttering and dancing in the gentle ocean waves. She wrapped her free arm around him as well, especially since it allowed her to properly lean.

                                  He nodded in acknowledgement. “They’re very cute,” the raven-hair agreed, glancing to her. Despite how cheerful she often was, he never saw her in such a state of childlike awe. Her eyes were wide and reflected the gentle glow of the jellyfish. She would grin when she saw a new one and excitedly whispered to him about what it was doing. Sebastian didn’t even realize that he had started to pay attention to her more than the jellyfish themselves.

                                  Jade completely sat back down, but she didn’t let go of him, and he didn’t let go of her. She marveled at the swarm of jellyfish, each one swaying to the will of the sea. When she didn’t focus on all of them, the ocean just seemed to sparkle with utmost beauty.

                                  “The ocean is glowing so brightly,” Jade murmured, fascinated. “Wow, I’ve never seen anything like this.”

                                  “Yeah...” Sebastian muttered in turn. He looked back to her to see her focus, but he quickly became overwhelmed with terror. “... Jade? Are you alright?” he inquired with a frown.

                                  “Huh?” The farmer returned his glance, confused at his expression. She blinked, and then felt tears stream down her face. “Oh...” All she could do was smile in response, then look back at the sea. She wiped her eyes with her free hand and wistfully sighed. “I’m just really happy... this is so beautiful. I never thought this even existed before I moved here,” she replied in an attempt to sound unaffected. Her tone was wobbly and voice was weak, even though she was nothing but filled with joy.

                                  Sebastian continued to watch her for a while with worry still painted across his face, but he slowly calmed down as she seemed to do the same. “... It’s okay,” he replied with an understanding smile. “I get captured in the moment, too.”

                                  Jade fully relaxed with his words, then deciding to lean her head to his. Sebastian adjusted his sitting so that they could comfortably hold each other.

                                  “The way the moonlight jellies look in the water remind me a lot of my favorite place,” Sebastian mentioned. “All the tiny lights illuminating the night, how far and yet how close they are...” he sighed as well. “The feeling can be so... indescribable.”

                                  “Absolutely,” she whispered in agreement. Together, they watched the dance of the moonlight jellyfish. Eventually, one of the curious creatures after another faded back to the depths of the ocean. The sea soon calmed down, accompanied by only the faint blue glow of the moon.

                                  Begrudgingly, the two of them unraveled from their hold and stood up. The moonlight jellyfish had completed their visit, and so too did the humans. Both Sam and Abigail were gone, causing both of them to feel guilt at not noticing they left. In fact, no one was on the docks. It was nearing midnight, and most of the townspeople had left already.

                                  Most.

                                  Sebby!!” powerfully yelled Robin, drunk from the lack of sleep. Her bedtime had come and gone, and had to face the consequences. She stomped over to Sebastian and Jade as they left the docks, then followed behind by Demetrius and an extremely exhausted Maru. “There you are!” she shouted, probably louder than she meant to. Sebastian instinctively flushed and let go of Jade once he noticed he was holding her hand.

                                  “Yes, mother, I wouldn’t leave,” he muttered.

                                  “Good!! Did you like the moonlight jellies, Jade?? It was your first time watching them, wasn’t it?”

                                  Jade smiled and nodded. “It was, and it was amazing. Did you three enjoy the festival?” she asked in return.

                                  Robin vigorously nodded. “Yeah! And now we’re going home, and I’m sleeping for twelve hours. Lewis can kiss my ass. Right, Dem?” She sleepily laughed.

                                  “Dear, you’re exhausted. Let’s just go,” her husband suggested, not even paying attention to her vulgar expressions.

                                  Sebastian sighed. “Um, actually... you guys go on ahead.”

                                  “Aaawwww,” Robin swooned, noticing the closeness between the two young adults. “It’s so late at night. I think you should walk Jade home, right, hon?” She looked to Jade with a motherly grin, then brought her sight back to Sebastian: “I wouldn’t want you walking home alone, though... So, maybe you could spend the night if she’s okay wi-”

                                  “Spending the night?! Absolutely not!” Demetrius suddenly piped up.

                                  Sebastian suddenly scowled. “Why should it matter?” he asked in return, irritated.

                                  Jade realized the tension. “H-hey, look, it’s not a big deal, you two...” Both of them seemed to take that in their favor.

                                  “But it is a big deal, sweetheart. A grown man shouldn’t be staying in a young woman’s house!” Demetrius suddenly piped up, irritated.

                                  “A grown man! I’m not under your petty rules. If Jade wants me to spend the night, then I very damn well can and will, Demetrius,” Sebastian snapped back in an instant.

                                  Maru suddenly glanced at Jade with worry. Robin also seemed concerned, but she appeared to be more irritated at the sudden argument.

                                  “Guys... Hey, look, it’s fine,” Jade pitifully murmured. “I can just go home by myself if it’s that much trouble...”

                                  “You live in my house, you’re under my rules-

                                  “It’s NOT your house! Mom built it and Mom owns it, not you!” hissed Sebastian. “Why is it that you only ever seem to have rules when it’s about something I’d like to do? Don’t even pretend like you care about anyone but you and your perfect little daughter!”

                                  HEY!” screamed Robin, causing the both of them to shut up. She had completely woken and heaved with rage, glaring at both Demetrius and Sebastian with ferocity and disappointment. Both of them took a step back, intimidated.

                                  The fiery-haired mother glared to Sebastian first. “I am absolutely appalled with your behavior. Since when do you speak first and ask questions later?”

                                  “Mom-”

                                  “I’m not done!” Robin growled. “You do NOT talk to your step-father like that, and you do not bring your sister into this! I built the house, but we are a family, dammit! He owns our home just as much as I do!”

                                  Sebastian sighed and went quiet.

                                  “Understand?” she glared.

                                  “... Yes, mother.”

                                  “And you!” Robin turned to Demetrius, who was already nervously sweating. “Numbnuts, I’m the one who suggested that he walk her home and stay the night! He is a grown-ass adult, so treat him like one!” she furiously huffed and poked his chest threateningly. “You knew exactly what was going to happen when you decided to yell like that, so don’t even act like you had no part in this!” She finally crossed her arms and continued to glare.

                                  “... I’m aware, love. I apologize,” Demetrius murmured with a frown.

                                  “Good,” she hissed to the both of them. “Now, to settle this officially... Jade.”

                                  Jade suddenly came to attention, staring at the terrifying mother with fear in her eyes. “Y-yes, Robin?”

                                  “Hon, what do you want? Do you want Sebastian to take you home?” Her voice was soft and gentle towards the young farmer, causing her to relax.

                                  “I...” Jade flushed with a frown, dropping her head. “Well, I... Yeah, I would appreciate that. It’s a pretty long walk and I’ve never been out this late, so...”

                                  Robin gave a confident nod. “Then it’s settled. Maru, Demetrius, we’re going home. Sebastian, when you’re home tomorrow, I fully expect both you and your step-father to talk this out. Officially. I am so sick of this shit,” she sighed. Her voice still showed strain, but she seemed more exhausted than angry at this point. Jade had seen that exhaustion before... the family tension was really taking its toll. “Jade... I’m sorry you had to see this. I wish I could say it doesn’t happen much, but... Either way, I hope you have a good night, hon.” She approached Jade and gave her a light hug, then glared to Sebastian. “You take good care of her.”

                                  Sebastian respectfully looked at Robin in the eyes; he knew he would have been scolded more if he didn’t. “Yes, mother. I will.”

                                  Robin fully seemed to calm down with that statement, and then pat Jade on the shoulders before stomping off. Demetrius followed behind without another word, then Maru glanced sadly to Jade before trailing her parents.

                                  Jade and Sebastian were finally left alone, though neither of them could move for a moment. The raven-haired man glared towards Pelican Town enraged, fists clenched, shoulders tensed. The young farmer was trembling, shocked from the argument, Robin’s outbursts, and just... this.

                                  “... Sorry,” he eventually muttered, breaking the silence. He passively offered his hand to her. “Let’s not have your day end like this.”

                                  “Yeah... it’s... it’s fine.” Jade took his hand, and they started walking. “Um...”

                                  “Hm?”

                                  “... I know you’re not okay. And... I think one way to help would be to... talk about it? It sounds like this has happened far more than just this time...” She scanned Sebastian’s body language to make sure she wasn’t overstepping any boundaries. His shoulders were slowly relaxing, at least. “Would you like to talk about it?”

                                  Sebastian let out another frustrated sigh at the suggestion, but he didn’t want to keep Jade in the dark. “Okay,” he started.

                                  That was a long walk home.



                                  This was a chapter that started out with a plan and turned into "HOW DID THAT HAPPEN??" but i'm pretty happy with how it went and we got some more issues addressed so I'm game. Other than the argument at the end, the day went pretty well for Jade. Good thing Seb is taking her back since he probably needs a break from the family anyway.

                                  Fall is coming, and it shall come beautifully! A lot of stuff is going to happen that I'm excited to address. Thanks for sticking with me this long.
                                   
                                    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
                                  • Risukage

                                    Risukage Giant Laser Beams

                                    Nobody messes with mama lumberjack, she lays down the LAW like she does a solid oak floor! Poor Sebastian, he needs a hug. If Jade won't give him one then I will! :(
                                     
                                      MagicallyClueless likes this.
                                    • MagicallyClueless

                                      MagicallyClueless Black Hole Surfer

                                      she says that you two can share as long as you promise to give him back
                                       
                                      • Kid Absurdity

                                        Kid Absurdity Big Damn Hero

                                        I think that the portrayal of Best Mom is super-interesting here. You know she cares about her family so much, to the point that she's got the self-help books trying to keep shit together. And it's all the more poignant since she's the one who genuinely loves everyone in her family (and kind of Maru too, which you also capture right at the end), but things keep slipping out of control in spite of her best intentions and use of menace.

                                        It's hard for Robin, and you feel it.
                                         
                                          Risukage and MagicallyClueless like this.

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